« The Weeds

Russia and the American Dream

2016-12-14

Ezra and Matt discuss Russian hacking, Rex Tillerson, and inequality's role in reducing social mobility.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This we episode has also sponsored by Nature Box to Nature Baxter com weeds for fifty percent off your first order. The following podcast contains explicit language foreign policy, welcome to another, but so do the weeds boxes, policy, pod panoply network Matthew. Is he s back with us? Rash from vacation is as recline tanned arrested, ready. Sarah Cliff, we actually don't know where she is there. We had a good discussion, there's an semester. I think she is not in Kentucky, but you know you know now, although speaking of Kentucky you have not read serious piece which you want to talk to about Karen worries and a care enrollment officers in Kentucky who voted for Donald Trump, you have to read it
It is, I think, one of the best things we ve published at box ever is revelling Torreon. The in the truest sense of the word and I hope when she's back we can. We can discuss that reporting and also her trip to the care of Sea museum. I have a lot of questions about. Frankly, I haven't have episode highly Obama, GPS the KFC Missy. I once wrote an article about the history of Kentucky, Fried chicken and so on, I've have always been to help. I've always wanted to go to them, but for now- something a little less patriotic wanted to talk about russian hacking and its influence on the twenty. Sixteen campaign, this something that obviously has been in, news, some white ever since that the hacking kind of Started but there recently been for more, assessment from the CIA saying that they are now prepared to conclude that the purpose of the russian hacking was do help Donald
when the election, the FBI rather narrowly, says that they are not comfortable for assessing that they know what Russia's motives would be has tended to get sort of play in the press as like. He said she said kind of thing, but it's sort of isn't really. He said she said I mean the CIA kind of saying in the way that intelligence agency does our best guess it was going on, here. Is that the reason they data and interventions that help Donald Trump. When is it? They wanted Donald Trump to win the FBI. In a little bit more of alike. What I had this to a prosecutor, a kind of sense is, I think, saying you know correctly right I mean you could not credibly tell a jury that you have proven beyond reason doubt. But you know why Russia did the two poles of this debate because I think is actually worth stating this
clearly CIA says rush was trying to help Donald Trump win. Fbi says Russia was in meaning in the american election. For some reason could be too so chaos to so doubts about american democracy. It might have been just make. Hillary Clinton feel bad. They thought Hillary Clinton would still win, but they would have scored some points, but everybody is agreeing that Russia intervened in a consequential way in an american or why everybody except Donald Trump, everybody so bright and we'll get it right is also dot. Donald Trump has by everybody, met the CIA and yes, yes out after Rat Donald Trump has not done. A press conference are done like a clear statement on this. Since the latest run revelations, but he tweeted dead. You know we shouldn't believe it. He put out a press release, a very terse three sentence: press release, Willie sort of going nuke you're. On the c, I a calling them the same people who said Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction and his
out there, his surrogate saying that this is an effort to deal legitimize him as president coming from you know the lying media- and I believe also- and I think this is actually important- you ve seen people who want jobs in the Trump administration, so John Bolton under consideration or maybe has been officially named for under Secretary of state, but yeah Spain has been, he went out and said. Who knows it could have been a false fly operation, so there is all kinds of push back coming from all kinds of corners of the Trump administration, and it is. It is a fish and it is a signal being sent to anyone else who would like to be in the trumpet administration. So what you're hoping here was that President Elect Trump become more responsible on these matters at the people. Working for him would be professional enough that they would refuse to indulge this kind of thing you your
pointed to end, I would say. Also that would you have not seen is James MAD Ass, who was pick two be secretary defence, who I think when he was pact that was widely greeted by Trump skeptical people as ok, this is like a good guy. You can see why Donald Trump might like him, because he has this like kick. His nickname is mad dog, everyone in the Marines loves him he's a kind of like trompe kind of guy sort of, but, like also is genuinely a very well respected military commander. Defence professional has soared nor more military officer, opinions about geopolitics and Russia. Things like that. You haven't heard from him right on this subject right the sort of addressing of the question of russian hacking in the American alike
and has been left to Donald Trump on Twitter, Kelly and Conway John Bolton too, that the transfer of re, but here's what I link, is genuinely unnerving about this, and I do not believe it's enterprise up who who wrote this peace and convinced me of it. But from I'm getting the author wrong, I apologize. You are seeing a couple of things here simultaneously. I think that the top love away people might interpret what trumpets doing here is narrowly political, which is to say that it would be on some level. For him to have people believe that his election was secured or helped by Russia, and so his beating that back, but one that the more unnerving explanation, but probably the tour one, is that Donald Trump, as we have seen often before really does convince himself of what he wants to believe. Rather Donald Trump, really
has convinced himself that, as he keeps saying, he one one of the largest electoral landslides and history, which is very much an ultra, but also that this whole Russia thing it's probably just bullshit coming from his enemies, and this is coming, contacts were trumpets, stopped receiving the daily intelligence briefing because it visible, early. His argument, he is, smart, and also he found them repetitive, Grech, because the state of the world doesn't change, How much everyday He said someone would call him it's a big James, something changed and also that he he is Dogrose were my generals. Right are getting the very thing which was it's hard to say who that was referring to prove problematic, also in a different way, by the way, but Trump is someone who has a tendency to believe bad information to believe things that he wants to believe to really not force himself too. Line, his views with the best available evidence and one about this,
things about this is. If you think about the signal being sent say to intelligence agencies and to members of the Chop administration, it is don't tell the President thinks he's not gonna like, because, if you do not only will he not believe you, but he probably attack you, you will get fired. Your agency will be legitimize What kind of funding is Donald Trump can want to give the CIA after this, it's probably gonna be lower than the funding that. The otherwise would and is at the same time, if you're thinking about the decisions it trump needs to make he is not a guy. Who is going to make those decisions based on the evidence may be, but he should be. If he's going to be a guy who makes him based on the evidence he wants to believe and making matters worse says he surrounding himself with people who share that trade. The scariest of his opponents to me has been Michael Flynn, is national security advisor
Flynn is a guy who became very but say eccentric after clashing with the Obama administration and being pushed out of his position at the at defence intelligence agency, and he, among other things, has been a very constant retweet or a fake news. He has just put out a lot of things into the world that are just not true that he appears to believe this is when he was just some guy. I do in his his own thing, but also beyond nebulous writing books, giving speeches and advising Donald Trump and She was scared by Sir is an information structuring position. It is a position that its role is to give the president the information about national security to help him or her make decisions. So it you have as a president who believes information long's. It is congenial to how he wants or world to be, who is being informed. National security adviser who believes bad information congenial to how we, once world too, to be we're going into this had been astray,
with that as our protection against terrible foreign policy decisions that are genuinely sky and I think particularly alarming, spinning We in the russian context, because I will say I'm not a big fan of Donald Trump, but I sympathise with the viewpoint that I think that the United States policy towards Russia has been excessively aggressive. I mean, I think I really would have said two years ago that something that happened in the United States was that we built up out of institutions to curve but Maskos GEO political influence during the cold war and then, when the cold war ended, we just kind of kept them running in a somewhat thoughtless manner, and I think, if you go on back to two thousand for when the United States is very short of a group heavily in favour of protest movements to bring
down a pro russian president of Ukraine and bring in a sort of more pro american pro western president. Reasonably. Ask yourself like why were doing right, like what was the purpose of that if we had seen heavy influence of an intervention in a mexican election. I think Americans would regard that as very very alarming, and particularly in the context of two thousand for right. We were invading Iraq. We were fighting a war on terror and Afghanistan like what what was this like Now wait and I think it was reasonable of the Obama administration under Hillary Clinton, to try for research to aim for like a rapprochement with Russia. I think it did not really work
well for them and there's a reason they move back into more hawkish direction, but I still don't think it's crazy to look at Syria and say: look the Russians have basically one this and there's no percentage in continuing to to fight with them. At this totally appalling massacre has been playing out in Aleppo over over them. Couple day is, but the United States was not and is not like intervening in a forceful way to stop the Russians from doing this. So Samantha power was at the U N and she did a little talk that has gone viral of like her yet The Russians and like do you guys have no shame. Like your appalling monsters. I think one can ask why what is the upside to her doing that when we don't actually have a policy to stop that? Maybe we should we should try to cooperate on something, but it would be risky right. It will be
a risky to turn around America's view on the war in Syria on the civil conflict in Ukraine on the american relationship with Russia in general, you would want to worry there ok, we're trying this, but Putin is plain us for sucker swayed and we think we reached a new accommodation. But then it around the next day and he's invading Estonia and destabilizing the government of Poland and bubble bought like that, you gonna. Try like a bold whiskey, new game, aging GEO Poet no initiative. You really need your intelligence agencies to the letting you know like what's happening like is this working? Are we getting? What we bargain for out of this? Are we getting screwed over?
really embarrassing. Something no administration like ever wants to say is like ok, we did this thing and it was big and it was controversial and it was consequential, but we thought it was important and then it didn't work. So we need to change course. That's hard. It's not like Donald Trump will be. The first president to his reluctant to like here that bad news, but he's giving every indication of being way worse about it. Then Obama, George W Bush Van. And it's it's really one of the most consequential things you can do as president right. Nobody, this like flawless administration right. Even if you have great idea, some of them don't work out and you need to turn them around and if you take the view that like ok well, I didn't, I hear that the Russians were rooting for me to win so I'm making it like really clear. If you give me unpleasant news, we're gonna like try to destroy the credibility of the whole region
see you can have a really hard time actually executing on any of these. These ideas that trump sixty if you're anything like me, you know sometimes you want a snack end if what's a wound snack on his junk food, you gonna eat junk food and it is not great. So if you want, I should live a healthier life. You could start snacking healthier with nature box. It makes next that actually take great and their better for you there greater with high quality ingredients that are free from artificial colors flavors of sweeteners. You can feel ok about snacking. I like some their dried fruit stuff. They got great apples at great pairs. They also have some in a slightly more indulgent, principally things and there that that I also ask for, and they recently made their service even better. You can order as much as you want, as often as you want, with no minimum perched required. Anythin, cancelling anytime I so it's really simple you than a nature box, dot com. You check out their snapped catalogue,
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on a combination of russian hacking. The f b I going out The final weeks of the election with investigate that turned out to turn up nothing but got huge play and made created a ton of get of media run Hillary Clinton and lead to a lot of late. The siders abandoning her and also You know that I think is a little bit more arguable but by the same token, while the FBI dominated the media with something that wasn't true the CIA held back and the Obama administration held back from making a major issue. Something that was true now want to be careful because I was alive during election, I'm old enough to remember it, and there was talk of Russia hacking. I mean it was in something that was unknown, but it was talk for political junkies. It was in front page news
every paper. Cia says Russia trying to influence American Electric that it's a very the media dynamics of something like that are very, very, very different. I want to be careful and how I phrases, because again it was a close election, and so many things mattered if Hillary Clinton had not set up a second. If she had just use the state government Emil's like everything might be different, but it goes much and because a lot of things mattered. The fact that the crucial difference for Donald Trump was probably made by a mixture of russian intelligence Services and american intelligence services is a very scary fee,
in place to be particularly because what happened as we nominated, we elected one of the most erratic and least prepared individuals ever to hold this office. The fact that it came about as a fluke and about our foreign influences- it's very. I don't. I almost dont, know how to summon a sufficient level of alarm about it, like I don't feel constitutionally capable of facing up to what appears to have happened here. It's a very it's a very scary thing that I don't even know what the right response to that is here, and I would also say I mean a serve like secondary disturbing. I would say you know trend that I've definitely seen em past couple. All they cheer this. We didn't. We
pollution marked tendency among people who wished that Bernie Sanders had been the democratic nominee. People who worked for Hillary Clinton campaign Aarhus, did her passionately. They like election narratives that paint her as a tragic hero and as a victim. So they are very into russian hacking and James call me, whereas well, who supported Bernie Sanders like narratives, that paint Hilary as villainous figure or who though she was better than Donald Trump in a sense is responsible for Donald Trump through her own wondering so they're very into there's a politico story about how the Clinton Campaigns field operation in Michigan ignored all the desires of local activists in favour of a top down data driven approach from Brooklyn. So I'm seeing that shared a lot from left me.
People are. Obviously the handing out of one signs in Michigan and or the hacking of private communications by Russians are not like what the Clinton Sanders Primary about in terms of issues and ideology. But you see how it goes that way, but I think it's dangerous for the country. For you know, farming Government hackers should not intervene in elections to be like a partisan issue and its Tripoli, dangerous to be construed as like a narrowly factional issue right that like to say, I think it is bad that russian hacker, stole down past as emails and leave them to try to see. Dissension in the it states and possibly make Donald Trump President should not be
read as like equivalent to, I think the transpacific partnership was great or Hillary Clinton never made technical errors and her campaign. It's like a bad thing to have happen like independently on its own merits in part, because. It worked, and you would assume that the implication of this is that other foreign entities are going to try to get in on this game. I it's we'll be crazy and I think a normal prudent foreign leader. If, given this proposal would have been like, you know, like guys, like that's fine, but like maybe don't do that, like maybe like if the hacking for some kind of industrial espionage, something we can walk away from if you get caught, because, like this seems a little explosive and weird but like the Russians, did it take sorted, got caught, nothing bad is, can have to them as a result. So now you know whether
your Angela Merkel. You know like like a U S, ally, but who has concerns about what happens in american politics or your China or India or Pakistan? I mean, I think you gotta be like phoning up your people and being like? Ok, what's our like cyber electioneering campaign and so to make this like all about the specifics of, like, what was in the Wikileaks documents? Unlike do we like Julian Assange, I think is really short sighted, but it's it's I think, has been clear since a legend Asian really difficult for people to like process. Any information about America through anything other than a like Re running the election but like the election is over yet we're gonna move forward into a paradigm in which this kind This kind of thing is like a tactic of politics and of foreign affairs. I want to make a bit of an off topic point here, then I'll bring it I'll, bring it back to this conversation, but
to your discussion there of the way things are getting absorbed into Sanders, including counterfactual sir? something that annoys me about the counterfactual conversation is the lack of imagination attends to have on on all different sites? One thing that I try to ask myself one when running a counterfactual scenario like what, if Joe Biden had run for president or what, if you know Bernie, Ngos have been the nominee or whatever it might be. Is can I Imagine writing this story where it turned out even worse. For that purpose. Sure right can, I imagine, writing a story where Bernie Sanders lost the popular vote by one percent and also lost the electoral college. I can. I can also mentioned writing a story where he won by two percent. Bernie Sanders had of very large suite of
increases that when you pulled them, did incredibly incredibly badly, they were not damaging to a large degree in a democratic primary, but with a lot of working class white voters, they probably would be I'm or maybe, one you know like. I have my own set of a kind of actual thing. I think Joe Biden should have run for president, but I also think, though I like that kind of factual he would have lost the primary fresh, so nothing would have happened and I think Elizabeth Warren should have run for president. And I wrote that peace early on and actually she might have won the primary. But that but then I don't know, I don't really know what would have happened, but I do think that its important there can be a tendency to create an demanded, a structure. That is something like Ex didn't work out. We should have done not acts. This is not acts. Thus this would have worked out and that's just not true. I had to take a little bit out of electioneering contacts. I remember talking with members of the Obama administration at some point,
the debt ceiling and and their strategies around that in twenty eleven, and I was very critical of of a lot of what they did their by amendment somebody some of their saying to me in an opponent that was persuasive was that I can remember what scenario I had posed to him, but he said look. I was in a room with fifteen like really really people either a really good at politics of policy. People will pass major piece of legislation, one big campaigns that idea got brought up in that room and it was rejected because we thought it would turn out worse than the way than the direction we ultimately want. Now the document of Hitler went didn't turn out that well either. So maybe you're right. Maybe this other thing would have been better, but maybe they were right and it actually would have been worse we we rarely live in the darkest while timelines. I think it's good to be. It is important to think through counterfactual, right, obviously,
way things work now is also not the lightest all time mines, but I think is also going to be a little too to recognise it. As all probability said, things can also turn out turn about Yankee Eco put two points on annex x. Everyone's interesting one, What we have a really good article on the site by Jeff Stein, that's about Bernie is Chris is Town Hall in Wisconsin from I think was Monday night with like from voters anyway, designed to like showcase the idea that, like Bernie Sanders, could win over these white working class from supporters and when extent as like a tv vehicle like it does show, that burning was of course advantage by the fact that there was letting from Donald Trump campaign there too, to push back. But but what Jeff says, which is, I think, shrewd is that like Bernie, does not have all the like crazy trump baggage.
Then, when Bernie would say two trump supporters policy things where he and Trump agree like we need to tear up these bad trade deals and we did outsider to shake up the political system they really like that, like like that Trump Sanders Van Diagram overlap message and they like the fact that Bernie Sanders is not like a sociopath but then when they pull them. Unlike should we have like way higher taxes and May college free. They were like not as into that stuff. Right. So I mean in terms of the election. The election was really close like that may well have been good enough to win it, but what Just thinking about going forward right. You just like it's important, always think about, like only one person can win and election, but like what about them carried it far right people who I know who, like Bernie Sanders the thing most exciting about. Him is Medicare for all free College, Babo blah blah blah blah blah.
There is some good reason to believe he might have done better in at least specific states than Hillary Clinton did, but typically not for those reason split. The other thing in terms of counterfactual just like this is why I personally am always hung up on the lake. Let's do making speeches for three years after stepping down like a snake, because with most of these things, you can second guess the campaign message, but I am sure that when they settled on the message that they settled on, they consider doing other messages and they felt that there were prone cons to all the different ones, inviolable. It was obviously no pro too like. Let's go, do a speech, for six hundred thousand dollars to a brazilian bank. Like three speeches for six hundred and seventy five thousand dollars to Goldman Sachs, the literally least popular institution in the garage radium either,
cried out on the approach to all that stuff, I mean. Those of us who have done paid speaking are ourselves can tell you is that you get money for it. But that was like a different kind of trade off we're. Hillary Clinton was balancing her personal desire to have more money against like what would be a wise political strategy, so I feel like, is just like the free shot that everyone gets to take up a lot of good trusting, but actually go back to view the one of the original kind of actual things. It made me think of this that miss. In story. I can just really imagine writing that story both ways. I can really imagine Hillary Clinton winning Michigan and then you right story about her dad analytics yea happening in twenty twelve? I can also imagine writing the story that in MID, like the Hillary Clinton campaign, unlike the Brok Obama Camp, which had perfected this data analytics run. You know: do everything by the number strategy had this campaign full of old school political hacks with really good relationships with local activists and local politicians?
and that, when Debbie Stab now and whoever whoever came to them and said he is what's going on in Michigan, they marshalled all their forces and everything was a total disaster, because a rather camp, like I was nineteen, eighty two now. Obviously these are different poles of the of the thing in and you can certainly have found better, better balances, but again that stuff where, as you say like she should not have given the Goldman Sachs Bishop you should not have used a private emails or state like you can really look at us of this. She fucked that up like real big but a lot of these other things. I can imagine it turning up and I can imagine at turning out worse- and I think it's telling what nobody appears to have learned from this election is a bit more Democrats should be like Evan, by whom, and way ahead of Hillary Clinton, even though we lost again Jason can and I address encounter- and I also don't think more typical should be like Heaven by, but I can understand what the argument being made made. There is, but if all that
whoever learns is like that they were right all along. I think that's a place to be skeptical of how rigorously the counterfactual czar are being treated any way off of that aggression. I do want it to say that imagine two thousand and thirteen I had said to you Russia will engage in a large scale. Digital espionage, operation to influence the american election. They will succeed. The way they will succeed is that they will help elect the feast popular President Elect ever Who also loses up in the popular vote, but but he does become president. What do you think what happen to russia- and I think that if I had posed us pathetically someone a year after Mitt Romney was the republican nominee sing. Russia is our greatest geopolitical threat and
while the Obama administration at a very tense relationship with with the Putin, had been regime. I think you would say this is going to be an unbelievable crisis between you, us in Russia, to the point that, like we are talking about, certainly digital retaliation may be physical. Retaliation me these sanctions I mean we would be talking in that world about a genuine emergency and instead, as you say, Donald Trump is attacking yeah, hey and Republicans, while they are open to their now under pressure open to sing investigated up pressure by the way that they resisted during the election, they are not forming any kind of select committee for it to really focus on that it'll just be one of the things in a bunch of other committees. Doing one thing is, it shows I think it's Brendan. I, unlike this line, that partisanship is a hell of a truck the, so that's one piece of it, but but the other is that we are entering it like. This is like uncharted territory in a way, don't even
How to think about- and I think this is the context in which it makes sense to talk about breaks. Tellers. Let's move to the unbelievably well named Rex, tell us So we ve tillers in a sea of Exxon when this was like. First floated. I, like laughed and a yoke he'd reason our eyes are like World affairs editor, he said to me. You know I I bet rigs tell us and I've Tajima of over the years like this is a smart guy. He knows a lot about the world. You to understand that, like what a giant multinational oil company does is, in fact a lot of dealings with foreign countries. This is like not totally as crazy as it as its, like and certainly by the Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich bar you know of like other people who trump was floating, seems maybe almost sensible
on the other hand, we have been having secretaries of state since seventeen, eighty nine or seventy ninety one. I guess all of them have had prior experience working for the american government in part, because the job of state is too presented the american government Raw Rex, tiller sins. Entire career has been representing the shareholders of the Exxon Corporation He has never feel like it is living in a linen, Larouche pamphlet, right yeah, I mean has never I'd want to say that Rex, tiller sin is an unpatriotic man who doesn't love his country and has taste for public service but makes toasting has given any indication over the course of his lifetime that he has a passion for public service, a desire to sacrifice his personal interest for the american people or or things like that, he's a business guy who, yes, he knows a lot of foreign people in particular.
He's been involved in many many many visits to the Obama White House, all of which, according to the law, we're on the subject of lobbying to get sanctions taken off of Russia. That's because Exxon has a giant set of oil. Writes that day, they are entitled to and Russia, but they can't investing in or begin extracting oil and gas from because of sanctions on Russia. He has received the order of friendship from the russian government from personally, yeah I'm Conway went on tv and said it's not like he important were pounding vodka shots together. There is video. I will show you of him in Putin drinking champagne. Together I mean If someone, how combined of aliens right also having been to Russia
it is genuinely inconceivable that he had dinner with Putin and they did not pass a rigid. You wouldn't happen who knows, but technically speaking, When you take office, you would not go outside the normal qualifications that are looked for the Secretary of State in order to pick a person who one of the knocks on them, as if they have excessively close ties to the in Russia, if you were in some way concerned about. Demonstrating to the russian government or to the american people that you had some kind of problem with the russian hackers intervening in elections. The
chairman of the russian State Duma. Hailed this without with it with a series of tweets in which she said, tell us and was terrific and Donald Trump continues to amaze. I was told I obviously, drought watch russian television Daily basis, but Gary Kasparov, the chess grandmaster turn sort of brush dissident, was saying that this was getting much more extensive coverage. Russian television that on U S, television, which was dominated by Kenya, West's visit to Trump Tower, so at a minimum. The standing in Russia is that Russia is getting a huge and possibly better than they hoped for win out of this choice, which you know it doesnt seem great. You can see my body language right now, but I like physically slumped over the table.
Because this is just bad shit in saying this is the craziest I'm line this is Oh far out of the norms of what makes any sense in american politics look like a joke. This Can we go there's a living in Ireland in the rush pamphlet dont, this guy gets elected promising to drain the swamp. He gets like promising drain. The squabble attacking Hillary Clinton, forgiving speeches to Goldman Sachs. He says TED cruises own, but Goldman Sachs. He media It points to Goldman Sachs bankers to his top to economic positions, to Treasury into any see this guy gets,
Dead, partially on the back of russian hacking. After being criticized the entire campaign for being too close to Vladimir Putin, who he alternately says, is like a great friend of his and who he doesn't know, then he appoints the CEO of Exxon of of all things whose Harry the primary thing we know about this guy in terms of international theirs, as it is an extremely good relationship with Putin. I I don't I'm sorry like I recognize it by job on the spot cast. Is it I'm supposed to analyze what's going on in and give some will hopefully provide a little bit of clarity? Here's my clarity like if you think this is fucking insane. It's fucking insane like what's going on here. I keep having this promise an editor. I do not know,
how to assign a stories that sufficiently convey how bad this this is something by the way. There is a debate a couple months ago out normalizing trump, not much by weeks ago, and I've been really good pieces, including up he's by Matt call the case for normalizing trump and in the point there. I think the point you making that piece is that treating every Trump tweet like a show emergency making this a kind of circus where every time Kanye West comes to the White House at the same old Macdonald Trump is saying that he doesn't have time to give a press conference on his conflicts of interest when you allow that kind of controversy of the day mentality to to operate when his dad is your definition of abnormal, then you're you're in a bad place, but the thing is becoming a little bit hard to handle is a much more substitute question of normalcy, which actually isn't about Donald Trump's, behavior
but his choices, but the context like the question of is the environment that we are living in normal right. Now. Are the outcomes in american politics normal not as a president, a normal guy, but has american politics run off some kind of cliff and it feels to me like it here: now work in it see with the Senate. I'm your need. There ve been Republicans her already grumbling about, tell us and who are grumbling about John Bolton. You don't be conall who seem to resist them, and this is at least now said that the russian hacking will be investigated and I will see what kinds of efforts are to impose them I will see, but I dont think they're going to be very strong and an end, as you say that that the signals the world is getting from us right now are just crazy. You can hack election as long as you're. Hacking is really good any. When it's all good. I mean what
think did to notice that put you're making mad about the way we have a lot of anti russian institutions in american government. Is it actually, if you want to find people qualified enough to be secretary state who are pretty pro Russia, it's hard? Yes, You would have to go find someone like the CEO of Exxon, because the american foreign policy establishment is very sceptical of Russia, the military establishment, very sceptical of Russia. Michael Flynn being a weird counter example who give speeches and sit next to Poland for Russia today. But I don't know man like I'm too and to an extent, though this is even like where I wanted like again like urge a, to an extent a normalizing approach. I was having a vociferous disagreement with it with a leading Democrat the the other day.
In which she was trying to tell me like look this isn't about the policy like this is about the hacking. This is about whatever you know and I think, to an extent that that doesn't Work that, like one reason Trump can get where he is, is that Having ties to Vladimir Putin's Russia is not the same as having ties to Stalin's Soviet Union. Right. It does not go without saying to a normal person that, like having a positive relationship, with Russia, is bad, now you can say, oh Putin is a vicious dictator and, like that's true, the king of Saudi Arabia is also a vicious dictator. That does not stop the United States from having an alliance with with him. When I think
bad is it will? I shall Bob Corker on tv yesterday and then again this morning. Talking about tell us that it is the other players chairs leading formulating heat. He cheers that the Foreign Relations Committee so he's not going like all in four tellers, and he saying, like we're. Gonna have to hear you know more about his view whose but he's also saying, like don't disqualify him because of his ties to Putin, he's a very impressive, very distinguished at man, and I think that that is a hundred percent wrong, like legged each its way way way off base. What's true is that if you are determined to pivot american foreign policy, in a pro russian direction. Then you can't select some one who served at a senior level in the George W Bush State Department, and you also can't select someone who served in a senior level in the military recently.
You, can't select a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The reason you can't do any of those things is that none of those people fever a farm policy pivot at an alignment with Russia. So if you favour that, of course, you want a secretary of state who shares, Views so if you're looking for a secretary say who shares as views and who isn't wildly unfit, then Rex Teller said looks like a good choice, right as yogi was enemies, dealings of foreign government is run a large renovation eat all make senator. I just want to note one of the credentials of hearing from him, as it has been recommended by congolese Rice and James Baker. Wet and by all of whom turn out to be on the paid consultants to accept, but soon Noting too. I just think it's like this to divergent ways to look at Rex. Telex right, one is, if you want to shift american foreign policy and a pro russian direction. He seems like possibly the best choice of the world to do
I mean maybe somebody else, but but like a really solid choice for a new progression direction. You as foreign policy, if you don't, want a new programme direction, you as foreign policy, as Bob Corker says he doesn't then he's not impressive, and he ran qualify exactly how many would be? U. Tromp is a and, of course, gonna. Look it's politics right like it's, not a college admissions! You don't just give the jobs of the people with the best recipes. You give them two guys whose policy direction you agree with and who seem like they would do a good job, but you have to eat or maintain a focus on that fact, like Trump has passed over a bunch of more qualified, more logical choices in order to reach for a guy who may be meets the bar
seemingly in order to drastically revise american foreign policy. I think that if Democrats want to be critical on this front, they have to make the argument like about the policy right. I mean you if you can persuade people that Donald Trump new pro russian foreign policy is a bad idea that will have bad consequences that people should deplore. Then I think you have like a really good basis from which to talk about works tellers than to talk about hackers, to talk about Michael Flynn to talk about, you know what everyone, but just sort of assume that like well, Putin is bad, so ties to Putin are disqualifying. It doesn't now that Trump as wine right, there is a natural normalizing too, like being president, and you have to talk about like what he's doing and how it impacts the world and how it is.
People and not just kind of run around being like shocked and horrified all the time. This is probably a direction to take things on a future so that the weeds Cosette. I want to take up our time here, but but wondrous know it all on this we are seeing a very weird version of these. Let's elect a businessman is president theory occur, I mean Weird, because Donald Trump is weird and in many ways not a business. Man and the way people think of the term is up it's a brandy. Marketing figure. But what he is doing is in certain key position: Secretary of Treasury, National Economic Council and secular state. At the very least, he is pulling in people with little to no government experience who ve run very
businesses with or have been involved in very big businesses manichaean. The the treasury sector is not a particularly distinguished banker. He just worked a Goldman Sachs him ransom other stuff, speedy, which he's very rich, but he comes from our rich family gets, as does Donald Trump as desirable Trump, until you're getting a kind of certainly the threat of very deep kind of corporatism and endorsing this on both sides, not people who will does a run government as a business but were run government for the benefit of certain businesses who have been de moulded fur for decades with in certain businesses and in an almost certainly absorb some of those incentives
centres of the organizational as their own. It's an unavoidable thing to do when you really committed to your life's work it as he's Madame should have been and at the same time trump is doing this much more populist and much more popular thing where he calls up individual businesses and brow, beat them and tell them not move their factories and tries to ten votes in that way, and so your actually getting both sides. What we normally think of his as corporatist rule here, which is and met you ve, talked about this in terms of corruption and in a very different and very, I think, persuasive way, but you seeing key people who apply run government, certainly on some version of it to benefit interests that they may not even realize are a little bit more limited to the industry's had come from the businesses they come from, and also a government where, because of the head of his businessman hatch, it doesn't have that much respect for businesses, making decisions and is happy to try to just move them around for his own popularity or based on his own intuitions, about what makes sense exotic
way to run a government now great rate of HUN an economy either, and I think, is something that should be given giving faux pas unnoticed folks, but not just people general. But the big thing for Republicans in recent years that the cool ideological movies are public and to make was to say that your against crony capitalism, that your begins life and something we ve heard from Paul Ryan and Marker Ruby Owen, Romney in all these top Republicans is the big problem with the Obama administration is full of crony capitalism. They do things like cylindrical and This is crony capitalism. In a way, I can never thought we would see in America. I'm not hearing a lot of anger among Republicans about it, but it's it's dangerous! Have it's dangerous for the reasons that I think that were overblown when applied to the Obama administration, but crony capitalism is a bad thing and people should be this is this is a bad time, why paper here when we talk about another way in which America's coming off the rails? Ok,
gonna talk to talk this week about an exciting paper from Russia, Teddy and a bunch of other people, David, grew Ski Maximilian, Hell Nathaniel, handwritten Robert men, Duca Jimmy Neuron. Published as an end be are working paper cod. Fading american dream trends in absolute income mobility, since nineteen forty chow, he and Co. Authors have been working for a while on a big project about upward mobility, and economic, to unity in the United States. They ve done a lot of surveyed research papers. They ve got a unusually for academic, seem to have gotten funding to do like media outreach and like us around there. So a lot of their stuff has been written up a lot of it. I sort of handsome quibbles with But this one, I found incredibly impressive,
and one reason than impressive is that the ditched, the definition of economic mobility that they ve been using in previous research to say what they found? ok. So what you did they find that, like upward mobility, has declined sharply in the United States over the years that a decline from nineteen forty two, ninety five, declined again declined again kept declining again, and so, basically for people who are turn it around. One thousand nine hundred and forty expectations of upward mobility were met in the about ninety percent of the cases about ninety percent of cases. People made more than their power. Right. I work for four kids born in nineteen eighty, it was it was about fifty fifty and and skewed in a weird way, so that people actually from the bottom ten twenty percent of the population quite likely to end up out early
parents doesn't necessarily mean Europe. Like super rich, you go from ten percent to fifteen percent, but you know you're you're goin up, but for people on the broad middle class, like a huge decline from nearly ninety percent, one thousand nine hundred and forty two, a little bit below fifty percent for kids born one thousand nine hundred and eighty so it's a wanting that's interesting here is that the they use to you is as their definition of economic mobility. This notion of relative. Letty so was like how the deck reshuffled among people compared to each other. We, as if you were in the ten percentage of the income distribution, where were you in the future yeah and ends just kind of like charm sort of measure? This is a thing that dynamic. Researchers have enjoyed measuring, but I have always thought totally defies like what it is. People mean by upward mobility, this new paper,
they use, I think, are much more intuitive definition where is defined in absolute terms, so that we can all enjoy upward mobility in this new definition might its conceivable that every single person in the United States grow up to be richer than their parents work, because the new definition, so the old definition is, you were in the ten percent. Now. Are you in the twelve percent rack? The new definition is: do you make more than your parents, exact, daddy, where inflation adjust rights, so the old definition was sort of Europe's right if required, loser, so that some people to go down so that others can go up now. It's salute terms I enjoy. It shows because it's an absolute measure. It shows that the good old days were how we remember them right there. You were born in nineteen. Forty beauty left high school in the late. Fifty is and you would have done your prime sort of working years in the sixties, where there was very rapid economic growth and that growth was very equally shape.
So the overwhelming majority of people wound are better off than their parents were that's what made the good old days so good right is that, like it was good for almost every whereas in nineteen. Eighty- that's not true! So when I first looked at this one of their charge on Twitter, I thought to myself. What is the kind of obvious if you were born in nineteen, forty, your parents, what a grown up in the depression and you would have grown up in sort of one of the fastest, growth times in America, away you're born in eighteen, eighty cause or measuring this thirty, its twenty tat gap of huge fuckin within a year. You're in the depths of a recession. So I was say that ok, this is interesting, but is really just telling us what we already knew, which was just about the rate of economic growth, but express a new way, but they did run the data they have a very interesting use of tax data and census data. Doing link linked diminishing, and so we are able to one simulations
and they showed if the economy had grown up at sort of good old days pace. Since one thousand nine hundred and eighty we would have had more upward mobile but really only a modest amount more, whereas if we had kept GDP growth constant, but it had the kind of quality that we had in the good old days, you would get a good back up to the nineteen forty line, we basically there showing that growth is slower and more equal ended. The inequality has played a bigger role in the decline of social mobility than the slow down in growth, that to me as a new result, I think is actually surprising result it's a little bit of a weird looking chart. If, if you look at it, but it's the first thing that I've seen in the five six years since, like we need to talk about inequality, more has been like a huge document left. This is the
worse than that? I really seeing something that makes me think not just that, like more equality would be nice to have, but that it actually does make sense to put it like ahead of the wine relative to just sort of better overall economic right. I think the way this discussion used to proceed was a bit. The question was: could you make an argument that inequality was holding growth back rack right would be better if the grove is equally shared, but growth was the the ultimate goal in any case him and you weren't gonna, get raising living standards about more growth, and so you know we have had discussions on the show. I've done a lot of interviews on this question of in oh. How good is the evidence that it is inequality that is made growth slower? This made productivity growth slower in a what? What are we solving solving inequality and it says, but the very least you saw me, you saw me some quite substantial.
I'm assuming you ve just work on inequality without sharply changing growth, which I think it is very possible. I you will fix the thing that people often say is the most important thing where a funny thing about this paper that I think is is not maybe getting talked about ass much, but is the traditional conservative move in the inequality debate is to say the what. Really matters is an inequality but social mobility. That is what people talking about when they say what really matters is an inequality, but equality of opportunity is an argument between inequality and social mobility is the relevant metric. What this is saying is it. Inequality is killing social mobility, right, and once you believe that actually quite transforms the nature of this discussion, a lot of people been arguing that we will need to do is focused on social mobility. Now they probably will not, but in very have to admit
That means we have to focus on inequality, and I would also say I mean this is telling, because if you don't require that you're inequality effect, clearly be growth. Boosting then I think it gets actually really easy to fix. You could take the tax code that we have now and simply make it much more progressive and its impact at that would require: a sort of either a negative income tax or a larger version of of earned income tax credit, but it can be done Neil Erwin: what it where the good article recently about like what we'd like a giant ye see that is designed to make up for, like all of the declining wage growth for people in the bottom third, of the economy. Look like in his column. He characterizes the cost of it as like a lot of money, Quantum quote Woody
up with, is one trillion dollars over over ten years to do this sort of giant yeah, tc expansion to like undue rising inequality. A trillion dollars, obviously, is a lot of money and they sent you could buy many aircraft carriers for a trillion dollars. That is less than half of what Paul Ryan's propose. Tax cut costs is less than a quarter of what Donald Trump proposed tax cut costs. So in the realm of tax policy, changes is a relatively modest one, and I think reasonable people can disagree about like exactly what would happen if you provided a sort of huge supplement to the pay of people in the bottom half of the income distribution who work, but it clearly would not like devastate the economy in any
a way, unlike other grandiose welfare state schemes where you can at least like raised the concern that, like while the economy want function. If people can get all this free stuff, this is free money. You can only get if you go work and you know it would cost something you would have to raise taxes for people at the top, rather than Loring maybe you just wouldn't you know. I don't think anyone believes Donald Trump is going to fully offset Oliver tax plans that sort of power publicans governing its, maybe not like the greatest. The way to do things in the world, but its workable, so that to me his boots really exciting here, because I actually finding ways to like drastically boost economic growth is like it's a good like want hobby. Like I have my pet ideas. Everybody else has yours, but we really don't like no. What would make the economy growing fast growing? Fifty is
we really can like sit down with some tax tables and some data and like work out how to have more equality and if more equality will like really get you the social mobility that people want, even if it doesn't change grow, much that's like this is a solvable problem. It's actually a good unusually optimistic place for us to end. Then another episode, the weeds, thanking my colleague, matted glazier, squeamish surplus blue she'll, be back next week. Thank you to our producers, a theme Shapiro this week easy now. Those are the wheat is a box, dot com and panoply production, and we will be back shortly, women.
Transcript generated on 2021-09-14.