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Monday, December 27, 2010

"a discussion with the likes of Brad DeLong is not productive"

That's the title of a post by Law Professor Stephen Bainbridge about Economics Professor Brad DeLong, of U.Cal Berkeley, in which Bainbridge collects links about DeLong from a variety of academic bloggers who have had the misfortune of having to deal with DeLong.

I really don't know much about DeLong, except that everytime I read about him someone is pointing out what an offensive person he is.

So I guess I should be flattered that DeLong has written a blog post entitled "Cornell University Has Some Explaining To Do: Why Oh Why Can't We Have Better Academics?/William Jacobson Edition."

Prof. Bainbridge ended his post with this wish about Prof. DeLong:
"With luck, this'll be the last time his toxic style of intellectual thuggery and execrable personality will be mentioned in these pages."
Me too.  Except somehow, I doubt it.

(By the way, other than the invective, the DeLong post consists mostly of regurgitating a piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which I refute here.)

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  1. Don't mess with the master!!! ;D Heh heh.

  2. Coates's conclusion was: "If this is the kind of dissembling defense of public official who honors a white supremacist flag, and praises a white supremacist organization, that you get out of a professor at Cornell, what real hope is there for cable news?"

    I don't see a refutation of it anywhere. I do recommend that you provide one.


    Brad DeLong

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Professor Jacobson,

    A long time ago my grandfather gave me some very good advice I often follow, but not all the time, due to my competitiveness. I am sure you have heard it before and think it bears repeating based on some of the back and forth I have read with regard to the 'charges' against Haley Barbour. I have to admit I have never heard anyone question Mr. Barbour's views towards non-white people before.

    'Be careful with who you argue - especially idiots - you run the risk of onlookers mistaking one of 'them' as the reasonable one'.

    My work is done here. Carry on.

  5. "I don't see a refutation of it anywhere. I do recommend that you provide one."

    Gosh, Brad, you sound so... angry. Could it be that Jacobson nailed you, you're mad and now you want to take him down at Cornell?

    That's sooo academic of you. Good thing you're at the leftmost edge of the academic universe there in Berkeley. They love the hackish, invective types there.

    "Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you'll ever regret." - Lawrence J. Peter

  6. Brad, you are exactly the type of academic i see so many times on the side of the road with an overheating Volvo that I cheerfully toot my horn and wave to as I motor by without offering a bit of help. Yes, it makes my day!

  7. I have read Prof. Jacobson's original piece, in which he posts:
    "[Y]ou say that someone has an "affection" for a white supremacist organization, or shares such ideology, aren't you calling them a racist? That is the tactic I so despise in Yglesias' attack on Barbour." [emphasis added]

    The answer to Prof. Jacobson's question is that Mr. Yglesias is asserting that Gov. Barbour's statement:
    "You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.” is, in fact, a statement of affection for the Yazoo City Citizens Council. Reading Barbour's words, I'd say that Mr. Yglesias's description is accurate. This reads like a statement of affection for the Yazoo City Citizens Council. Prof. Jacobson (through two posts and four updates) has yet to explain why he believes it is not.

    Bear in mind that that Gov. Barbour did not see fit to note (in the words of commenter "dr. li") the fundamental difference between the Yazoo City Citizens Council and the KKK was that the Yazoo City Citizens Council "favored economic and political intimidation of blacks over outright violence."

    So, let me ask: Can Prof. Jacobson explain why his tactic -- expressly leveling the unsubstantiated accusation that Mr. Yglesias intended to imply that Gov. Barbour is a racist -- is any less despicable than what he accuses Mr. Yglesias of doing?

    Jim Bales

  8. Barbour said: "You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders."

    Barbour says the Citizens Council is not like the KKK? His implication: KKK is bad. Instead, he says the Citizens Council is like "town leaders." Read: Good.

    Barbour is obviously proud of the job performed by his town leaders otherwise known as the Citizens Council. Yet we've seen clear evidence that the Citizens Council was, to all intents and purposes, the local KKK.

    Hence Yglesias is quite accurate in portraying Barbour as expressing affection for an organization that quite clearly was racist in intent and action.

  9. @donttread2010 - your grandmother was wise, but it's easier said than done.

    @JimBales and Captain - nice try. I think it was quite clear what the point of Yglesias' post was as Yglesias himself noted in the tweet included in my prior post, that he was claiming Barbour had "affection" not just for the organization but also for the white supremacist policies.

  10. I understand Mr.Jacobson is defending Haley Barbour from the specific charges made by Matthew Yglesias. Fine. Is Mr. Jacobson willing to give his opinion concerning the activity of the White Citizens Councils in general, and the Yazoo chapter of this organization in particular?

  11. @awol - that is easy, I agree with the statement of Barbour released in response to the Yglesias post and others accusing him of having "affection" for the Councils, "the ‘Citizens Council,’ is totally indefensible, as is segregation."

    At least you understood the difference between defending Barbour against a specific charge, and defending the Councils.

  12. What absolutely burns me to no end is that it is always certain characters...mainly those on the left side of the issue and those with a (D) after their name...that refuse to let the racial issue die. I was born in 1965, went to fully desegregated public schools here in South Carolina from 1st to 12th grade and have had the same opportunities as my black brothers and sisters. Why is it that these same characters want to keep it going? We all know the answer and as soon as the right starts ignoring the howling and poo-flinging it WILL die down. Oh, of course it will get louder and more furious for awhile but don't all kids that throw tantrums exhibit the same behavior? When they realize that their audience isn't responding they give up. I implore everyone to "turn their backs" to charges of racism.

  13. @William A. Jacobson (12/28 6:53 AM) - Prof. Jacoboson cites the tweet posted in an update as evidence to support his accusation against Mr. Yglesias. One presumes Prof. Jacobson was unaware of the tweet when he put up the original accusation, as it was not cited then.

    Apparently Prof. Jacobson still considers his original post -- which issued an accusation without providing supporting evidence -- to be acceptable even though he believes (as stated in his original post) that such an action by Mr. Yglesias to be despicable.

    Notice that the question of "tactic" here is independent of the truth of the two allegations: 1) That Gov. Barbour is a racist (an allegation that Mr. Yglesias has not, to the best of my knowledge, expressly issued), and, 2) that Mr. Yglesias's intent was to call Gov. Barbour a racist (an allegation that Prof. Jacobson expressly issued).

    Jim Bales

  14. @JimBales - at this point, you just keep repeating yourself when you don't like the answers. Yglesias' tweet confirmed what was an obvious reading of his post (as also confirmed by reaction in the blogosphere and by Barbour), and if that was not his intent, then he would not have titled his post the way he did.

  15. What Jacobson does seems not able to understand is that Yglesias' post is entirely accurate. Barbour clearly expresses pride in the citizens council's exclusion of the KKK, which is not dissimilar to a German expressing pride in the Nazi's ability to run the communists out of the country.

    The fact is: Barbour expressed pride in a white supremacist group. There are no two ways about it. Yglesias' tweet simply repeats the statement of this fact.

  16. @CaptainQuirk - Barbour didn't express "pride in" or "affection for" the Councils. He stated a historical fact which no one seems to be disputing; if you want to say his answer was incomplete that's fine, but the answer was spun in a way which was sure to get media attention by portraying him as sympathetic to segregation and white supremacy.

  17. William,

    The attached link provides some of the best writing about Brad DeLong on the internet. I highly recommend reading it. For a bonus read click through to the related articles on Krugman.


    Krugman and DeLong are the Batman and Robin of Keynesian economics. The pathetic duo.

  18. Correction to entry above:

    @Brad, I don't think you read my prior post carefully. My point was and is that Yglesias' characterization of Haley Barbour as having "affection" for the Citizens' Councils was not supported by the sentence Yglesias quoted, and that Yglesias made a leap from a factual statement by Barbour to an expression by Barbour of support for the Citizens' Council's segregationist policies in order to portray Barbour as racist. Ta-Nehisi Coates did not address that point, instead he simply reiterated that the Citizens' Council's were segregatist (never in dispute) and added in other factors not mentioned by Yglesias or me (e.g. that Barbour has a Confederate flag in his office) which he then used to claim I was not being honest. Apples and oranges. My post was about a specific statement by Barbour as characterized by Yglesias, and the Coates post was about other things. Coates' post was effective as seen in your reaction, but it was incorrect to the extent it was a criticism of me. Cheers.