Dealing with the inflexible grip of an intolerant orthodoxy

This was a note posted to the Societies for the History of Economics three days ago.

The Guardian, Tuesday 21 October 2014

Ha-Joon Chang powerfully argues the case that it was “an economic fairytale” which “led Britain to stagnation” (Opinion, 20 October). It may be added that our universities bear a heavy responsibility for this situation. Certainly, it cannot be denied that the fairytale paradigm (“supply-and-demand”, competition in the market, and all the rest of it) can be applied to any economic issue. The point, however, is that the currently dominant adherents of this approach deny that any other approach can even claim to be economics at all; indeed, adherents of other schools of thought have very largely been purged from our university economics departments.

Proponents of the fairytale justify this stranglehold by claiming that all former insights into the economy that have stood the test of time have now been incorporated into their own – narrowly quantitative – “modelling” framework: thus, Keynes’s discussions of uncertainty are reduced to “models” of expectations, Hayek’s alternative to neoclassicism into models of “price messages”, Marx’s heritage into models of inequality, Ricardo’s into “rent-seeking”, and so on. Consequently, so the argument goes, there is no longer any basis for the claim that there are different schools of thought in economics. There is only one.

It is the inflexible grip of this intolerant orthodoxy on university economics departments which has so signally distanced academic economics from engagement in discussion and debate outside the academic arena, much of which is directed towards questioning its fairytales. It is, by the same token, very encouraging that students who reject their approach have in the past year or more been reintroducing into university economics departments the kind of vibrant debate which ought to lie at the heart of academic life.

Dr Hugh Goodacre

Member of the academic board, University College London

I could not have agreed more so this was the reply I posted today:

I left Hugh Goodacre’s interesting post alone for the last few days to see if anyone else were interested. Apparently not, but I am. He made two points. First that the monopoly position of the economic mainstream, which he described as “this intolerant orthodoxy”, needs to be confronted so that other approaches to thinking about economic theory are brought into the curriculum. And then second, he notes that there has been the start of a kind of uprising amongst economic students who believe they have been deprived of the kind of broader education they would prefer but do not know how university departments can be encouraged to teach it.

I am in complete agreement with the need to bring these various other traditions into mainstream debate and am also working with the student movement, the so-called “Post-Crash Economics Society”, which coincidentally just last week had its first meeting in Australia.

There are many more ways to approach economic questions than those found in the confines of the mainstream. There has also been such a failure of the economic theory to provide much guidance in getting our economies out of the problems we are now in, that I find it a scandal how little effort has been made to have a post mortem on what went wrong. And when I think of what it is that went wrong, I am not referring to the frequently raised question about why was no one able to foresee the GFC, but the more significant question, which is, why are the policies that have been introduced to restore our economies to health not working?

The Post-Crash Economics approach is one way of going about it. But given my first experience here I have doubts about whether this is much of an answer even though the right questions were being asked.

The main speaker had come all the way from Manchester to discuss what they had in mind. And while there were various moments when his own underlying agenda was all-too-obvious to me as a long-ago member of the left, his final slide had the words “It’s time to challenge the orthodoxy” and showed a woman with a “power to the people” fist in the air.

I therefore asked the first of the questions from the floor, which was more of a comment than a question. And what I said was something like this

“If you would like to set up a group that widens the study of economics and introduces the full range of the various schools of thought to the education of economics students, then I am with you. But if you are going to just use this grouping as another version of the ratbag left, then you will do nothing other than create one more meaningless structure which someone such as myself will have nothing to do with. Your presentation was not neutral. You are a person of the left, which is all right since many people are. But you will only succeed if what you do really is neutral between all of the various groups that find neo-classical economics wrong in important respects. Economics, however, is not an easy subject that someone without formal training can choose amongst theoretical perspectives without serious study. If this is just one more self-indulgent anti-capitalist rant, then this will go nowhere. You cannot ‘democratise’ the study of economics as you described your ambition as if economics can be some kind of all-in enterprise where everyone’s opinion counts for one and no one’s counts for more than one. If you are genuinely interested in broadening the perspectives students receive, then, but only then, will you have the support of those of us from a more market-oriented perspective, or indeed, from anyone with an interest in the fullest development of economic theory.”

To be quite blunt about it, economic students are in no position to suggest how economic theory ought to be taught or what the content of their courses ought to be. And even while I agree with them that there is a large problem with mainstream economic theory, and I am pleased to find they are curious about other approaches, I cannot see how they can have much to say about which economic theories are the most appropriate. It is an issue to be decided within departments of economics and amongst economists themselves. They are absolutely right to seek a wider set of perspectives but I am not sure they are going about it in the right sort of way.

My own version of what these students have sought was proposed in my Defending the History of Economic Thought (Elgar 2013). In my view, the ideal place for debates among the various economic traditions is within the study of the history of economic thought. This is where it should be. Such discussions should be found on our websites, in our journals and as an important part of our conferences. Every one of these heterodox traditions has a history of its own that is an essential element in understanding these theories. Whether Austrian or Marxist or anything else between, each focuses on its own historical development as a way of understanding its own core concepts. It is, sadly, only the mainstream that ignores its history, which is why HET has almost disappeared from within most schools of economics.

I not only think this is part of the means to save the history of economic thought from extinction, but it would also be a valuable addition to the education of economists. The most important ability an historian of economic thought must have may be an ability to make sense of the views of others. It is why HET should be a forum for discussing the widest range of perspectives so that we can all learn new things from each other.

The sighting of a unicorn – an honest reporter in the mainstream media in the US

They describe it as an “exclusive” but that’s just the problem. No one else wants the story anyway: Ex-CBS reporter’s book reveals how liberal media protects Obama. This is about the truly intrepid Sharyl Attkisson who shows by her example of normal investigative reporting how corrupt almost all of the mainstream media in the United States is. She was sacked, of course.

When the longtime CBS reporter asked for details about reinforcements sent to the Benghazi compound during the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, “I give up, Sharyl . . . I’ll work with more reasonable folks that follow up, I guess.”

Another White House flack, Eric Schultz, didn’t like being pressed for answers about the Fast and Furious scandal in which American agents directed guns into the arms of Mexican drug lords. “Goddammit, Sharyl!” he screamed at her. “The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable. You’re the only one who’s not reasonable!”

The American media is as corrupt as the Soviet press. On no issue of political significance can one expect honest reporting. It is almost entirely no more than covering up the horrors of what Democrats do while distorting and amplifying whatever can be portrayed in a negative way if undertaken by a Republican.

You can see the immense value of an honest and open press in the way the United States is being ruined by its absence.

QE – the case against

Scott Johnson at Powerline has put up a post in which he quotes a mate of his which is In Defense of QE. It is a defence put together by a “professional investor” using “investor” in its modern sense as someone who takes people’s money and invests it in some form of monetary instrument, not someone who actually builds productive assets. No doubt QE has made him a tonne of money. Shame about everyone else.

I will make only two points since this gets into such esoteric argument that no one can follow any of it.

Firstly, a long part of the supposed defence is a defence of central banks and the role of the Fed during the height of the GFC. Well when it comes to that, the actions taken by the Fed during the GFC seemed essential to me at the time and on thinking things over ever since, I have had no reason to think otherwise. It was a very fast moving story but all told, you could not let the conflagrations in financial markets just burn themselves out on their own. QE had nothing whatever to do with the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the TARP. With QE we are not talking about troubled assets or dealing with an emergency. It is just straight out inflation.

Second, inflation has now come to mean rises in prices when once it meant printing money. The Keynesians switched the terminology to movements in prices in the 1930s so that their policies would no longer be immediately described as inflation (discussed in the 2nd ed of my Free Market Economics [FME2] pages 406-408). But let’s not quibble about this. What ought to be understood instead is that the effect of inflating the money supply to fund public spending has a number of possible effects of which higher prices is only one. Without militant unions and continuous labour market pressures to push wages up, inflation in the form of price increases is subdued. And whatever else may be the case at the moment pretty well everywhere, only those in very protected environments are in the mood to be pushing for significantly higher wages that would put their jobs at risk.

The real issue is that the way in which the re-direction of expenditure to the public sector is and will continue to manifest itself in a crumbling capital stock (see FME2: p410). The economy of the United States is falling to bits. It will take a longish time since it has a massive asset base but it is being eroded fast enough, which is evident in the median income data and elsewhere. The data are from the Federal Reserve.

median income us

QE is just part of the wreckage that the shift of aggregate expenditure from private investment to government waste is causing. I don’t normally quote from the World Socialist Website, but these are again data from the Federal Reserve which, based on the actions it has taken, is probably itself now a member of the Socialist International:

The yearly income of a typical US household dropped by a massive 12 percent, or $6,400, in the six years between 2007 and 2013. This is just one of the findings of the 2013 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances released Thursday, which documents a sharp decline in working class living standards and a further concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich and the super-rich.

The US economy, along with most other economies, is falling apart and there is hardly an economist in the world uninfected by the Keynesian virus and therefore hardly an economist able to understand what is going on. If for no other reason than just to get this other perspective, let me again recommend my FME2, “a must read for serious economists” as one reviewer described it, and that was the first edition. This one is better.

Don’t worry, I won’t let anybody tell me

It’s not even that she is so stupefyingly ignorant that is so remarkable but that it is apparently a winner for her to say it. This is the story of the video above and the title of the post it comes from exactly restates what the next Democrat to run for president intends to argue: ‘DON’T LET ANYBODY TELL YOU’ THAT ‘BUSINESSES CREATE JOBS’.

There may be some way for an interpretation of the most destructive piece of arithmetic in history – Y=C+I+G – to enter more vacuous territory, but it’s hard to see how. For her, her husband apparently and all too many on her side of the fence, it is government spending, not productive businesses, that causes economies to grow and individuals to be employed. (To understand the reference to arithmetic, you need to go to the video.)

You think the American economy will recover? With people as out of it as she is at the helm, the US economy will never recover, not ever. And if we give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she actually knows better but her supporters do not, what comfort is there in that? Personally though, I think she is saying what she believes. What then for living standards a decade from now?

Vote early, vote often

obama reister for the votre

With the first Tuesday following the first Monday in an even numbered year only a week or so away, I thought I would draw attention to the impending elections in the US. No matter what happens, Obama will still be president, and no matter what the election outcome is, he will continue to do his best to ruin the United States. As part of his program, we have the following, which should mean it would not make much sense to put your hopes on an election landslide to fix things up.

Putting non-citizens on the voters list is just one of the many ways the Democrats in the United States subvert their own democracy. Since they absolutely without question know that their own views on absolutely everything are the only views with any merit whatsoever, it is essential to ensure that no other views are ever allowed to affect policy. And of course, it’s also nice to have political power and the fantastic wealth it attracts to people who for the most part are otherwise without seriously marketable talents.

I actually cared about the outcome of the American presidential election in 2012 since I thought of it as the crucial political moment of our time. Obama won – in no small part because of fraud – and I now see the US as a train wreck. All of this fraud is to be expected. Here is the text that goes with the picture:

Obama program puts noncitizens on voter rolls « Watchdog.org:

“With early voting starting Thursday, North Carolina’s election board found 154 ineligible voters on its poll lists — and officials are examining thousands more questionable registrations.

The illegal immigrants landed on the state’s voter rolls, courtesy of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The State Board of Elections said late Tuesday that more than 9,000 additional voters’ names are being checked for legal status.

They do not expect to finish checking before early voting starts Thursday.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” special counsel Brian LiVecchi told Watchdog.org.

Nearly 10,000 names on the rolls are tagged by the state Department of Motor Vehicles as “legally present,” but the Winston-Salem Journal reported that doesn’t mean all 10,000 are ineligible to vote.

When immigrants are certified under DACA deportation proceedings are frozen.”

Obama may still want to be a citizen of the world and take the US along with him, but he will still live in a gated community for the rest of his life to keep the riff raff out.

Interestingly, this has come from Captain Capitalism with these words:

This, more than any other reason, is why I have given up caring about the future of the US. . . . When you let people who aren’t citizen vote, you do not have a country. You have a resource for the world’s parasites to plunder.

I can see he and I are on the same page on this one.

UPDATE: He may not have invented it, and may not even have intended it, but I am going to give John Constantine credit for the perfect phrase to explain why Labor encourages the arrival of boat people. As he wrote in the comments:

Nothing to see here.

It is vital that vote people enclaves must be inserted into the last remaining pockets of ‘old australia’ to achieve sustainable diversity of socialist voting patterns.

Some henry ford of socialism has figured out how to mass produce socialist votes, and the blueprints have been passed around every power crazed control freak in post-western civilisation.

Boat people are vote people for the left, just as they are in the US. If they voted reliably Republican or for the Libs, you can be sure our borders would be more secure than the Berlin Wall.

FURTHER UPDATE: Look, even the Washington Post is getting into the act. Could non-citizens decide the November election? it asks. And here is part of the answer it gives:

Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.

How surprised are you by any of that, I wonder.

It’s not easy being non-green

I went along to hear ex-Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore last night and a very rewarding evening it was. A fellow Canadian and from our west coast so I may even have travelled in the same circles during the dropout stage of my life in the early 70s. I certainly knew whereof he spoke. I encourage you to go along, and also catch up with him on Andrew Bolt tomorrow. He has a roadshow presentation which you can hear for yourself, so I will stick to the Q&A which was as interesting as the rest. And if you are of the opinion you have heard it all before, you may have but I hadn’t so it may be worth your while. He has also not yet been scheduled for an interview by the Trotskyists at the ABC.

First my own question, which is something that worries me a very great deal. Moore presented a long line of statistics and other evidence, some I was familiar with and some I wasn’t, in large part pointing to the fraudulence of the global warming scam but also dealing with other areas of the environmental movement and the massive damage it is causing. So my question was to point out that anyone who has the inclination to follow the evidence and look at the data has already caught on and understands there is nothing to concern us. What, therefore, do you think, I asked, about green policies really being a form of religious observance, not science based, and therefore unreachable by the use of rational argument. To which he replied:

“I have no answer.”

I think that is the same answer I have and it is the essence of the problem. There is always some stray fact or random event that will keep people who desperately want to believe the worst about our way of life from straying from the fold. There are no crucial tests they set themselves. There is no actual standard, such as seeing whether or not temperatures have actually risen, which you would think ought to be fundamental. To a true fundamentalist there is no evidence actually required. The old cartoonist standard of the old man with the “we are doomed” sign is the mainstream. We live in an age of faith and nothing is allowed to disturb that faith.

The other answer to a question I found interesting was about why the environmental movement has been able to maintain such a strong position in spite of the massive harm it does and the absence of any serious factual basis for their claims. This was his answer:

There is a great convergence of our elites, each of which sees advantage to themselves in promoting and going along with the environmentalists:

1) the greens
2) politicians
3) the media
4) the grant-seeking academic community
5) businesses who want to look green as a promotional activity
6) most religions

That is a formidable combination that, quite frankly, I don’t see any prospect of defeating. In more authoritarian regimes green politics is a nullity but here in the West, I can see it is one more reason to believe we are at the end of time. It is only the fantastic cost to individuals that may eventually slow but never stop the damage being done. When your electricity bill is $1000 a quarter, there may be some reconsideration. In the meantime, I might go and get myself one of those “we are doomed” signs for myself.

If you would like to see Patrick, this is where you still can while he is in Australia. Also on Andrew Bolt tomorrow, at 10:00 am. A very good speaker and comes with the authority of someone who has been there and knows where all the bodies are buried.

Where you can still see Patrick Moore in Australia

MELBOURNE
27 Oct. 12 for 12:30 The Australian Club 110 William St 2-course lunch $110 p.p. (dress code)

CANBERRA
30 Oct.

1st Session 2-3pm afternoon tea 3-30 pm,
2nd session 3:30- 4:30 pm

Hughes Community Centre Wisdom Street, Hughes
$20 donation ($10 for students) requested plus $2 for afternoon tea payable at the door

PERTH
1 Nov.
1st meeting 4 – 5pm (GM crops) C3 Church, 94 Waratah Ave. Dalkeith.
2nd meeting 5:30 – 7pm (Climate), C3 Church, 94 Waratah Ave. Dalkeith
a $20 donation ($10 for students) is requested to cover costs – covers both sessions.

HOBART
3 Nov. TO BE ADVISED.
Please register your interest in the Hobart event with Garth Paltridge (paltridge@iinet.net.au)

BRISBANE
Nov. 5th 7 for 7:30, Irish Club 175 Elizabeth St. A $20 donation at the door is requested to cover costs.

NOOSA
Nov. 6th 5 for 5:30, TheJ, 60 Noosa Dr, Noosa Heads
To book for this event, just click on:
http://sa2.seatadvisor.com/sabo/servlets/EventSearch?presenter=AUNOOSHI&event=mse0611

a $20 donation will buy a ticket.

The academic equivalent to foreign travel

Back in April I noted the birth of what is known as Post Crash Economics. You can read this previous post but basically there is a concern that modern economics, in the way it is taught, is too narrow and shuts out alternative perspectives. As stated in the initial Report that was initiated at the University of Manchester:

This lack of competing thought stifles innovation, damages creativity and suppresses the constructive criticisms that are so vital for economic understanding and advancement. There is also a distinct lack of real-world application of economic ideas, with the focus being on abstract modelling that often seems devoid from reality. Finally, the study of ethics, politics and history are almost completely absent from the syllabus. We propose that economics cannot be properly understood with all these aspects excluded.

Well I agree with all of that, but with me it was Pre-Crash Economics as well. There is a need for wider vistas and a recognition that the various heterodox schools within economics ought to be actively engaged within mainstream discussion of economic issues. With a Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and the endorsement of the Institute of Economic Affairs, there is at least a possibility that the PCE movement may not simply become another leftist rant of no consequence.

The first meeting of the Australian PCE Society was held today at the University of Melbourne and I went along. The chap who spoke, who had come all the way from Manchester to discuss what they had in mind. And while there were various moments when his own underlying agenda was all-too-obvious as a long-ago member of the left, his final slide had the words “It’s time to challenge the orthodoxy” and showed a woman with a “power to the people” fist in the air.

I therefore asked the first of the questions from the floor which was more of a comment than a question. And what I said was something like this:

If you would like to set up a group that widens the study of economics and introduces the full range of the various schools of thought to the education of economics students, then I am with you all the way. But if you are going to just use this grouping as another version of the ratbag left, then you will do nothing other than just create one more meaningless structure which someone such as myself will have nothing to do with. Your presentation was not neutral. You are without any doubt a person of the left. But you will only succeed if what you do really is neutral between all of the various groups that find neo-classical economics wrong in important respects. Economics, however, is not an easy subject that someone without formal training can choose amongst theoretical perspectives without serious study. If this is just one more anti-capitalist rant, then you can forget it. You cannot “democratise” the study of economics as some kind of all-in enterprise where everyone’s opinion counts for one and no one’s counts for more than one. But if you are genuinely interested in broadening the perspectives students receive, then, but only then, will you have the support of those of us from a more market-oriented perspective.

Unfortunately, Robert Conquest’s second law of politics seems destined to be repeated: “Any organisation not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing”. Given what I saw today, it will be sooner rather than later but I shall continue coming along at least for a while.

But let me stress this. The Australians who have done the organisation here are trying to make this work as it is intended to work. I was specifically invited and while only belatedly asked to bring along others, the invitation was sincere. If there is a proper spirit of inquiry – very rare but not unknown – then this could be a useful and interesting forum. There is never any doubt that those of a leftist persuasion will turn out. More difficult will be to find those of a free-market bent. Everyone who comes along does, of course, have their own agenda. But sometimes, as might be possible in this case, the mutual agendas will be reinforcing where each of us can get something of interest. And anyway, I like talking to others about economics and listening to what they have to say.

Which brings me to the lunch that followed the seminar. There I discovered one more reason to study the history of economic thought, one that had not occurred to me before. In studying HET, what you have to be able to do is make logical sense of what someone else has said. You have to be able to understand another person’s argument and make it coherent. You are not, of course, asked to accept this other argument but you have to be able to see why someone else might have thought it was true, and the circumstances that allowed them to think it is true. I don’t say it is easy but I do say it is a valuable skill. It is the academic equivalent to foreign travel. Some people go to other countries and learn not a thing other than how weird other people are and come back unchanged. And then some people go to other countries and find out how others live so that they can learn something about themselves by learning about these different cultures.

How to stop greenies in their tracks

I went to hear a quite entertaining presentation by the former comedian, Rod Quantock today, speaking on global warming. Well, we are all doomed and he has a pitch that is well honed and nicely presented. And myself now being ready to believe that we are past peak oil and may well be heading into very rocky terrain no matter whether the planet is warming, cooling or doing nothing at all, I asked what he thinks we should do. So he said, as a joke I suppose, that what we should be doing is starting twenty years ago. Since in his view we are anyway locked into massive heating with water and oil running out in the reasonably near future, and since there is nothing that can now be done about it, I cannot see why he believes it’s his duty to go around terrifying young children about a world with no Tim Tams (well I guess it’s a living). I am a bit on the aged side so most of this when it happens will be well past my bedtime (and his as well since we were born in the same year, apparently), so I might as well keep flying and enjoying life, along with Al Gore and the American President. No self restraint of mine today will make the slightest difference so why bother trying?

Yet in the conversations afterwards although not with him, I trotted out my global cooling story which really is a great pleasure for me in such moments. Because if you really do think we are at peak oil, and who is to say we are not, and we don’t switch pronto to some form of nuclear power, there is no story so pessimistic that it may not fit the facts of the world as it will unfold if oil really does become scarce. I don’t know and you don’t know what is happening. But David Archibald, who teaches strategic energy policy in Washington, wrote this in his Twilight of Abundance:

The logistic decline plot of world oil production shows that the year of peak output arrived in 2005. The oil market began tightening slightly earlier, in June 2004. The oil price today is three times what it was in that year, but oil output has not increased in response to that price signal. The reason it has not is because it cannot. Almost all of the world’s oilfields are producing as fast as their owners can make them. There is only a little spare capacity on the planet. Global production of conventional oil has been flat since 2005. The logistic decline plot tells us that the world’s supply of conventional oil will fall away soon, and rapidly.

There are seven billion on the planet. If we run out of oil without a cheap replacement a very large number of us will not survive into old age. We have the technology to build safe nuclear power but those, too, are off every green agenda. So just for fun, next time you are in such a conversation, do what I did:

Agree that we are running out of oil, in fact insist on it

Point out there are no cheap substitutes for oil

Say you think hundreds of millions if not more may die and relatively soon if some cheap source of energy is not found

Point out that neither wind nor solar are cheap and reliable and cannot be used as a replacement

Ask what should we do?

You will by doing this outdo any green-leftist on the planet with your pessimism. You will leave them as the optimists in the room and you as the only stone cold sober realist. The only problem then comes when you start to wonder yourself whether you might in fact be right. Because what if you are?

What fools we are

If you read M. Stanton Evan’s historical investigation into Joe McCarthy, Blacklisted by History, you will come away recognising how one of the bravest men in our history was taken down by the left and his name turned into the very essence of political wickedness. Which is worse in our day and age: McCarthyist tactics or Stalinist tactics? At best they might come out equal to anyone – left or right – who thinks about politics today, but of the two – again whether left of right – there would be a fair proportion who would think McCarthy did more damage. And what are the lessons that McCarthy has for us today? It is to keep one’s head down and under no circumstances try to take on the left because they will use every technique under the sun to do you in.

I have no answer to the question why McCarthy remains the villain he is portrayed as having been by the right. That the left villifies him is par for the course. They will never stop since it is a supposed weak point for the conservative side of politics so long as McCarthyism remains the epitome of political evil. But on the right there ought to be, you would think, some effort made to resurrect his memory, especially since virtually everything he said proved not only to be true, but largely understated. I wrote about the latest episode of the right using McCarthy once again as the arch villain here. Now, Diana West, who has also found herself on the outside looking in for writing the most extraordinary book on communist infiltration of the Roosevelt White House, American Betrayal, has taken up this theme by looking at the post I wrote.

She has written The Problem Isn’t “McCarthyism,” It’s McCarthymania. When I looked at the original article in the Weekly Standard attacking McCarthy for having used his influence to have one of his assistants receive a commission (which he didn’t get, by the way) as a parallel instance of Joe Biden’s son being thrown out of the army for cocaine use having received his own commission in the first place because his father is Vice President, I could say no more than this is not an issue that should be used as a form of self-flagellation on the right. Why allow this minor scandal to be shared in such a stupid way, to write as if we are just as bad as them, and to use McCarthy as the vehicle? But the fact is, I didn’t know any of the details of this particular instance, but Diana West does. And when you read these details, the supposed equivalence is more obtuse than you could possibly imagine. Here is what I found to be the crucial point:

Ironically, at one point in the proceedings, as Evans relates in his definitive McCarthy study, Blacklisted by History, famed Army lawyer Welch, thinking to discredit Cohn, moved to introduce into the record one of the many Army-transcribed conversations on the matter, in this case between Army Secretary Stevens and Sen. McCarthy. It was a conversation “in which McCarthy downplayed the importance of Schine [as an investigator on his staff], said he didn’t want any favors for him, and said Cohn was `completely unreasonable’ on the topic.”

There is no parallel. McCarthy once again comes across as a man of exemplary character. Others may then wish to toss this around, and do the left’s work for them by contesting West and Stanton Evans, but to what end? If they are the enemy what is Obama? My greater question is, where is our McCarthy today, someone who can take the fight up to the left who are ruining our civilisation in so many ways that it is almost impossible to see how this can ever be turned round. The institutions have been marched through to such an extent that even when you find someone like Diana West who writes a book that exposes the perfidy of the left, it is our side that does the trouncing while the left merely stands by and laughs at what fools we are.