Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Free to Choose

As I noted on May 30th, posts have been few and far between. I’ve had some serious health issues, which are now under control. I’m still in rehab, but I don’t want to leave August 2016 blank at TOC, and a recent Reason Magazine article on Gary Johnson’s polling prompts me to repeat and expand something I wrote on May 4th, when it became apparent Donald Trump would be the GOP presidential nominee.

If you are frustrated and angry that you’ve been given a choice between Scyllary and Charybdisser don’t feel forced to choose. You don’t have to vote for either of them. Voting third party is not the same as voting Trump or Clinton, though their acolytes will insist failure to pick their brand of evil is a vote for the alternate evil. This demonstrates a moral failure on their part, not on yours.

Donald Trump could have had your vote if you weren’t such a PC fool. Worse, if you actually do vote for Hillary, it’s like voting for Hillary twice!

Hillary Clinton could have had your vote if you could simply suppress your gag reflex. Worse, if you vote for Trump he’s going to do pretty much the same things as Mrs. Bill, but you’ll have failed to recognize the cosmic importance of electing the first president to acknowledge having a vagina.

Of course, this rule means not voting at all is simultaneously a vote for Trump and Clinton. It gets confusing.

In fact, your vote is a vote for the person you vote for and any claim to the contrary by Republicrats is simply bullshit.

In Trump’s case it’s just preparing the ground for the post-election recrimination. There will be much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth among devoted Trump fans when he crashes and burns, but those who are at fault are those who made Trump the nominee - NO ONE ELSE. Don’t let their pre-disaster buyers’ remorse De-vote you.

I’m told that Hillary is far worse. Well, at least marginally more terrible than The Donald. That’s an assertion that is not demonstrated to me, and I know several sensible people who actually plan to vote for Hillary even though they’d vote GOP if any candidate was running except Trump. These are people we need to convince to vote Libertarian. Trump supporters should help in this endeavor, because it eliminates that second vote for Hillary mentioned above. See, a vote for Gary Johnson is most definitely not a vote for Hillary (nor for Trump, for that matter).

The idea is that this is a long term game: Four years of Trump redefining core American principles into a mix of Huey Long populism and crony-capitalist political-insider trading might well do more damage than our enemy. There are signs already, and Trump's popularity is one of them (Clinton’s unpunished lawlessness is another), that we've forgotten what made America great in the first place: limited government, free minds and free markets under the Constitution. None of which matter to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

With Hillary we’ll see more and more exposure of the utter perversity of far-left Progressive policies. With Trump the lesson is that conservatism is a personally demeaning philosophy, chiefly characterized by small-minded incuriosity and unmoored to any principled theory of governance. You don’t have to grant your approval of this process by voting for either one of them, better to stay home. Best to vote third party.

Either Trump or Clinton WILL BE President in 2017. But what about 2020? Do you want a rerun? It’s a long term game.

You can’t have everything (or maybe anything) you want this year, and if you want a better choice we eventually have to move away from a system that offers us an insecure buffoon or a seasoned criminal as best among us.

Back to the Reason poll story, here’s an excerpt they took from Pew,
Johnson’s supporters are younger on average than voters who back either Clinton or Trump. Nearly a third (32%) of Johnson’s supporters in the four-way contest are younger than 30. This is roughly double the share of Clinton (15%) or Trump supporters (12%) who are younger than 30. Only 29% of Johnson backers are 50 or older, compared with 50% of Clinton supporters and 63% of Trump voters.

Voters of the future are well inclined toward the Libertarian. The game can change if we build on that. If the Libertarian isn’t on the debate stage this time it’s sad. If he or she isn’t on the debate stage in 2020, then you can look to 4 more years of Hillary. Eight years is what a vote for Hillary means in the long term game, even if the Dems have to pickle her.

Not voting for Gary Johnson is a vote for the status quo (and make no mistake, that includes Trump). If, as I do, you consider Trump unelectable, not voting for Johnson is within spitting distance of being a vote for Hillary. ;)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Constitution Day

Hillsdale College is holding its7th Annual Constitution Day Celebration at Washington D.C. September 14-15, 2016.

Those interested can ask questions by email at ConstitutionDay@Hillsdale.edu

Friday, July 01, 2016

The best defense?

Charles R. Kesler, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, writes a defense of Donald Trump for the Washington Post.

Granted, it’s the WaPo, but this is particularly shallow and unpersuasive.
…Trump won the Republican nomination fair and square, against 16 contenders, and the arguments for ignoring or rejecting those results need to be carefully examined.

The “Never Trump” critics have two main arguments. The first is that he is a buffoon, a clown, an overactive third-grader who has gone off his Ritalin, a tawdry egomaniac whose policies are no better than “barstool eruptions” and who by temperament and experience is unworthy of the presidency.
He is all of that, and more: Mr. Kesler's list is incomplete. Mr. Trump is also a lifelong Liberal, master crony-socialist and flip-flopping economic ignoramus.

There are only two reasons one would vote for Donald Trump. Owing lemming-like allegiance to the GOP, or a conviction that he would make a better President than Hillary Clinton. I find the first farcical, since loyalty to the GOP is exactly what fervent Trump supporters reject.

I find the second undemonstrated: I can, and have, pointed out how, fresh off his triumph of destroying the GOP's chance to defeat the Democrat nominee, he might well be a worse President.
The second [argument] is that Trump is a monster, a racist, a wily demagogue, a proto-fascist or full-fledged fascist, a tyrant-in-waiting.
While he is not demonstrably a fascist, he is an authoritarian of the first water, as evidenced by his willingness to eviscerate the Constitution. So let’s add “Constitutionally illiterate” to the list, too, because despite Mr. Kesler's contentions otherwise, Trump has threatened to amend the First Amendment by “broadening the libel laws,” and was the first “Republican” to call on the NRA to approve due process violations of the Second Amendment.

Upon careful examination, I conclude I am neither ignoring nor rejecting arguments about Mr. Trump’s candidacy. It’s simple: I reject the GOP candidate’s policies. I owe the party nothing, and Mr. Trump, like his opponent, is unfit for the office he seeks.

I’ll be voting for Governor Johnson.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Response to solicitation of funds

Mr. Trump,

Please remove me from any and all lists associated with your campaign.

I will not contribute to your campaign, nor to any group associated with you: Including the political party formerly known as the GOP.

If you need money, please ask those “small donors” to whom you are already beholden. Sheldon Adelson, for example.

As you Tweeted last October:
"Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015"

Or, beg the hated RNC.

I’d also appreciate a review of contributions in kind from media like Fox News. Maybe you can release your estimate along with your tax returns.

I am disinterested in bankrolling your threatened anti-Chicago Cubs ads and your "Little Miss Stompy Foot" feud with the Club for Growth. I will have nothing to do with a “finance expert” who so misinterprets the word fungible that he will fund Planned Parenthood, in any way, with taxpayer dollars. As if this accounting gimmick can force separation of dollar one from dollar 500,000.

I’m not attracted to a candidate whose frugality argument is that he can spend my money better than the Democrats have, better than Republicans would, and CERTAINLY better than I could.

As to Crooked Hillary’s “rigged system of crony handouts,” you’ve bragged about having been a recipient of said handouts, and are deeply complicit in that very system.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter,
Duane Hershberger

P.S., You misspelled "Yuuge."

On May 31, 2016, at 2:07 PM, Team TRUMP wrote:

Make American Great Again

Our country doesn’t win anymore, Duane.

We are losing hundreds of billions of dollars a year to China. Mexico is beating us at the border and on trade.

It feels like every day in the news another company is leaving our great nation. We are losing millions of jobs, and it is time for this to STOP.

This will all change when Donald Trump is elected President. We will start winning again.

We are going to start winning so much that you are going to get used to winning!

Donald Trump went the entire primary without asking a single person for a penny, because he was not beholden to anyone but YOU – the American people.

But here’s the problem: Crooked Hillary and her cronies are raising $2 billion to try to stop us.

That’s why we are asking you to contribute $35 and become a Founding Member of our campaign: https://secure.trump2016.com/founding-member/

Crooked Hillary is scared to death of us. Our movement threatens her rigged system of crony handouts and bad deals that have cost the American people millions!

She’s pulling in as many special interests and media elites as she can.

But Donald Trump doesn’t want ANY of them.

You’re the only person we would ever want on our team. Our campaign is a movement of the American people – NO ONE else.

Please contribute $35 right now to activate your Founding Membership with our campaign.

While our Party is ready to unite, Democrats are fighting tooth and nail over a socialist and a serial liar under investigation by the FBI.

We have a HUGE opportunity to win!

We don’t want to just defeat Crooked Hillary, we want to CRUSH the Democrats at every level.

We want to win in a massive landslide. We want our victory to be so great that Crooked Hillary and Obama regret the day they ever turned their backs on the American people.

Together, we will win this election and Make America Great Again!

Please join us today using this special link: [deleted]

Thank you and God bless you,

Team Trump

Monday, May 30, 2016

Click Stawker

If You Care About Innovation, Peter Thiel vs. Gawker Should Worry You
-Rachel Sklar

If you cheer the creative destruction of an unrepentant, vile private entity that truly deserved it, Peter Theil vs. Gawker should fill your heart with joy.. There, fixed that for you.

Kudos to Peter Thiel!

While we're on the subject, Rachel, where can I find your outraged criticism of Dr. Michael "Fraudpants" Mann's baseless, ad-hominem suit against Mark Steyn?

Note: Please note that blogging output is going to be scarce over the next several weeks because of some health issues.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Want my vote for Trump?

Please demonstrate that he will support limited government pursuant to the Constitution of the United States.

Note: "Hillary won't either," is NOT an answer. It's changing the subject.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I'm a Classical Liberal

If you point out to Trump supporters claiming they’re conservatives that these Trump approved ideas:
  1. Eroding the First Amendment by “broadening the libel laws.”
  2. Crony-capitalist insider bribery.
  3. Government funded healthcare for everyone.
  4. Ordering our troops to kill the families of terrorists.
… have never anywhere been considered conservative ideas, they scream that you’re the one who doesn’t understand conservatism. You have to wonder why they cling to calling themselves conservative, as if it conveyed some sort of legitimacy, since they reject yuuge parts of what has been conservative thinking.

They've been there all along, of course, we deluded ourselves into thinking they actually supported limited government and constitutional law. I guess we can thank Trump for unmasking them. At least we know where we stand. "Conservatism" now means big government, protectionist nativism.

I guess we're all classical liberals again.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Quo vadis?

OK, what's a #NeverTrumper to do now?

First, acknowledge that every Democrat should be purged from office. Second, admit it has become much less likely that will happen in 2016. Third, take a deep breath. It's a long term game and there are things we can do in spite of Trump.

To put a very simple action plan in front of you:

1- Vote Libertarian for president. More on this below.
2- Vote GOP on the down ballot races to provide as effective an opposition as possible. (Yes, I think Trump has handed the presidency to Hillary.)
3- Fight even harder for state and local politicians who will best resist whichever statist wins the presidency.

Meanwhile, we need to respond to the whining from the Trump camp that started weeks ago: “A vote for a third party is a vote for Hillary! We held our noses and voted for Dole, Bush, McCain and Romney, now you cuckservatives have to do the same for Trump. If Hillary wins the Presidency, it'll be because of you, you traitorous assholes. Because GOP!”

Sorry, you broke the GOP, now you own it.

I hadn't much liked it in recent years anyway, and won't greatly mourn its passing. See, I had to hold my nose, too. I've detested how the leadership and the majority of members have conducted themselves, but I didn't go all irrational. I didn't start calling tea party folks "really, really stoopid" after they had made such important contributions. Some of you Trump folks did. And still are.

We were making some small progress in turning around 100 years of Progressive rot (with brief interruptions from Coolidge and Reagan). I wish it had been faster and better, especially in the last 40 years, but now we're not going anywhere until we deal with the Trump Consequence.

And, seriously, how is a vote for a Not Hillary a vote for Hillary? Would a Sanders supporter voting for the Not Hillary be a vote for Hillary? Let me simplify your position for you: Something someone never had, and never had a chance to have, is being stolen from them when it's not given to them. What that means is you think Trump has a binding claim on my vote, but it's not as if you weren't told Trump couldn't have my vote, and it's not as if I care that you read me out of the party formerly known as the GOP because of it.

I publicly laid out many of the reasons I could not morally or ethically vote for Trump. Now you're telling me I can't vote for anyone else, and I must call myself a cuckservative having had the temerity to even think about it. That's what you've been insulting me with for lo these many weeks, as if valuing limited government under strict adherence to the Constitution has become subservient to a withering stream of sleazy innuendo, gross insult and shameless Constitutional ignorance.

I will note that labeling me a “cuckservative” seems to indicate you have some affinity for the term “conservative.” With Trump, however, you're bound and determined to teach others that conservatism is a personally demeaning philosophy, chiefly characterized by small-minded incuriosity.

I can hear the shouting, “Hillary is far, far worse, you fool!” Maybe. I don't care. See, the idea is that this is a long term game: Four years of Trump redefining core American principles into a mix of Huey Long populism and crony capitalist political-insider trading might well do more damage than our enemy. There are signs already, and Trump's popularity is one of them, that we've forgotten what made America great in the first place: limited government, free minds and free markets under the Constitution.

The Dems are already rebranding the GOP with Trump.

The people who are handing the presidency to Hillary Clinton are the people who already voted for Trump, so I damn well don't want to hear any more snide criticisms of my personal voting choice. You can maintain your self respect having voted for Trump. More power to you. I can't do that.

So, I think I stick with my core beliefs. My conservatism was initially informed by Barry Goldwater, who was just barely short of Libertarian. This certainly won't be the first time I've voted Libertarian. And the last time I did, it wasn't counted as a vote for Al Gore.

To those for whom Libertarianism is an exotic or suspect philosophy, do some research if you'd like. I'm not vouching for this, but it gives a flavor.

Certainly visit The Cato Institute, The Mises Institute, Cafe Hayek, Reason Magazine and Libertarianism.org, they're all conveniently located on the left sidebar. Read some Henry Hazlitt, Adam Smith, Friedrich von Hayek, Murray Rothbard, Ayn Rand, Frédéric Bastiat and Milton Friedman. Try to recall some of the things Ron Paul stood for.

Or don't. I'll point out that a Libertarian vote this year really doesn't commit you to anything. The Libertarian candidate is not going to be president, any more than Donald Trump is, so the philosophy doesn't much matter. It does matter that the LP will be on the ballot in all 50 states, so it's easier than a write in. It does matter that Libertarians want major change. It would matter greatly in 2020 if they could get into double digits in 2016. It's a long term game. A little longer now than it was.

I may expand on the reasons you might prefer voting Libertarian to other parties in a future post. It's certainly preferable to not voting, because you do need to vote the down ballot races.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Choose the Form of Your Destructor*

The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
-William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

*Gozer the Gozarian

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Picking losers

From National Review:

SunEdison, which billed itself as the “largest global renewable energy development company,” is on the verge of bankruptcy after sucking up $650 million in federal grants and tax credits and $846 million in federal loans, loan guarantees, tax-exempt federal bonds, and federal insurance.

Also in April, Spanish energy company Abengoa SA filed for bankruptcy in Delaware, having disappeared $2.6 billion in federal loans and loan guarantees, as well as $986 million in federal grants and tax credits.

That adds up to about $5 billion taxpayer dollars, 70% of it to a foreign company.

Maybe MIT Technology Review should revisit its story on the limits of "clean coal" for balance.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dissociative identity disorder?

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's senior aide, told Republican National Committee members that Trump has two personalities: one in private and one onstage.
"When he's out on the stage, when he's talking about the kinds of things he's talking about on the stump, he's projecting an image that's for that purpose.”
In other words, Trump isn't really a clueless, insecure, sneering, obnoxious bully. He just plays one on TV.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Since I posted Headline at MIT Technology Review: (April 15, just below), it has been nagging at the back of my mind that "clean coal" projects probably were not exempt from the crony capitalist excesses of the eco-industrial complex. So there was likely more to the Peabody Energy bankruptcy story than simply deploring all the failed wind/solar/battery #Greenfail projects we've funded. I had some time this morning to check.

Turns out, the Feds spent $2.5 billion between 1978 and 2008 on "clean coal."

In 2002, the Bush administration picked up the baton and allocated almost $2 billion (of which $200 million was actually spent) over 10 years to the idea. They killed it in 2008.

It was revived in the Obama administration's 2009 stimulus package before being killed again in 2015.

So, "clean coal," even though industry had to pay 50% of project costs, is another example of the government promoting failed environmental projects. In this case, deciding to go the additional mile to make sure the entire coal industry disappears.

All that money could have resulted in quite a bit of carbon-emissionless nuclear power, and it would have been financed entirely by industry - if they'd been allowed to.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Headline at MIT Technology Review:

Peabody Energy’s Bankruptcy Shows the Limits of “Clean Coal”

I'm not sure what MIT's point is here. Peabody's bankruptcy is the result of unlimited political manipulation. It was the intended result of Federal planning:

So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.
- Barack Obama, January 2008

The real issue is eco-corporatism, not "clean coal," so it's worth looking at other energy company bankruptcies that didn't follow the Fed's political script.

Solyndra's bankruptcy was not the government approved plan.

Barack Obama visited Solyndra's facility on May 25, 2010. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September 2011.

On whether he he regretted holding up Solyndra as a model for jobs and clean energy: "No, I don't, because if you look at the overall portfolio of loan guarantees that have been provided, overall it's doing well."

"And what we always understood was that not every single business is going to succeed in clean energy, but if we want to compete with China, which is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into this space, if we want to compete with other countries that are heavily subsidizing the industries of the future, we've got to make sure that our guys here in the United States of America at least have a shot..."

For A123, if the plan was to compete with China, the result was exactly the opposite:

"What we want to do is to have energy independence in America, and have control over our own ability to be free of Middle Eastern oil. That means that we want to manufacture the cells and do the assembly, and do the R&D all here in Michigan."
- Jennifer Granholm, January 2009

(While Governor Granholm was fertilizing A123's bankruptcy seeds, the frackers were actually doing something about our dependence on foreign oil. In spite of government interference.)

This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America -- an industry that’s going to be central to the next generation of cars...
- Barack Obama, September 2010, during an event celebrating the opening of the A123 plant in Livonia

A123 was sold to the Chinese at bankruptcy prices. So we heavily subsidized the R&D on behalf of the Chinese.

In sum:
  • Peabody Energy was bankrupted by an administratively engineered avalanche of absurd and unconstitutional Federal regulations.
  • A123 went bankrupt despite $100 million in Michigan tax credits and $255 million in Federal grants.
  • Solyndra failed despite a $536 million Federal loan guarantee and a $25.1 million California tax break.
Yes, MIT, there are limits. So, consider these headlines for a future story:

A123’s Bankruptcy Shows the Limits of Advanced Battery Manufacturing

Solyndra’s Bankruptcy Shows the Limits of Thin Film Solar Cells

Or maybe: Green Bankruptcies Show the Limits of Winner Picking Corporatism

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Worth reading

Hi. It’s me, Jeff. And I have something to say.

He must think we're stooopid

Trump Has a Plan to Win Conservative Support?
In the Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled Trump’s Plan to Win Conservative Support, Fred Barnes says Trump will soon deliver “a series of formal speeches on policy issues, set pieces drafted by speechwriters and delivered from prepared texts.”
Trump plainly doesn't understand conservatism, nor conservatives. A couple of canned speeches will no more reveal a principled, limited-government candidate hiding under the orange statist facade, than if they were delivered by Bernie Sanders.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Untie is an anagram of Unite

Donald Trump has said he can be "more presidential than anybody," and has been talking about the need to unite the GOP in order to defeat Mrs. Bill. His close advisors, surrogates, media supporters, his wife and his daughter have been urging him to adopt a more civil tone for quite some time.

So, departing from his recent practice of holding a post-primary press conference (where he might have said something unscripted and objectionable), Mr. Trump issued the following considered statement after his loss in the Wisconsin primary:
Donald J. Trump withstood the onslaught of the establishment yet again. Lyin' Ted Cruz had the Governor of Wisconsin, many conservative talk radio show hosts, and the entire party apparatus behind him. Not only was he propelled by the anti-Trump Super PAC's spending countless millions of dollars on false advertising against Mr. Trump, but he was coordinating with his own Super PAC's (which is illegal) who totally control him. Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet--- he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump. We have total confidence that Mr. Trump will go on to win in New York, where he holds a substantial lead in all the polls, and beyond. Mr. Trump is the only candidate who can secure the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination and ultimately defeat Hillary Clinton, or whomever is the Democratic nominee, in order to Make America Great Again.
Well! Aside from a possible quibble over the definition of "withstood," that certainly puts those who doubt his ability to act like a president in their place: He didn't mention the size of his hands and he didn't repeat any adverbs, like "really, really total confidence."
"Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in. They give their whole form and color to our lives.”
-Edmund Burke. Three Letters to a Member of Parliament on the Proposals for Peace with the Regicide Directory of France (1796–1797)

Tuesday, April 05, 2016


Bernie Sanders grants a platitudinous interview to The New York Daily News. I’ll save you the trouble of reading the whole thing.

Imagine, if you will, the foothills of Big Rock Candy Mountain. The unicorns are prancing through lovingly tended, non-GMO fields dotted with organic milk and honey dispensers. Windmills disguised as trees are everywhere, rising above the solar panels blocking out the sun. All under the watchful eye of Uncle Bernie’s drones “that could, you know, take your nose off…”

Among other things, Senator Sanders is asked about foreign trade and it’s mentioned that his policy seems very similar to Donald Trump’s.
Sanders: Well, if he [Trump] thinks they're bad trade deals, I agree with him. They are bad trade deals. But we have some specificity and it isn’t just us going around denouncing bad trade. In other words, I do believe in trade. But it has to be based on principles that are fair. So if you are in Vietnam, where the minimum wage is 65¢ an hour, or you're in Malaysia, where many of the workers are indentured servants because their passports are taken away when they come into this country and are working in slave-like conditions, no, I'm not going to have American workers "competing" against you under those conditions. So you have to have standards. And what fair trade means to say that it is fair. It is roughly equivalent to the wages and environmental standards in the United States.
Interestingly more specific than Trump, and all the more fanciful for that. In “fairness” to American workers - as if none of those workers were also consumers - Sanders proposes to cast all economies in the mold of the United States. More accurately: He is proposing economic warfare through elimination of comparative advantage (which will only devastate the target economy).

This is nation building by other means. In "fairness" he'll have to enforce something resembling our property laws, work ethic and contract law in all those countries: Roughly equivalent to the investment, research and development infrastructure standards in the United States. The other "fair" way is to impose their culture, tools, methods and standards here.

To be “fair” about it, then, he’ll also have to force bits and pieces of American engineering and technology companies to relocate to Mexico, Vietnam and Malaysia. And maybe this will happen when he takes Wall Street down.

The Daily News makes an attempt to determine what Bernie thinks the effect would be of forcing JPMorgan, for example, to “break themselves up.” He won’t speak to the consequences (he leaves decisions about how to break up to the breakees), but I think that’s because he knows bread lines might be one of them. And he likes bread lines.

Senator Sanders says, “You can't look at politics as a zero-sum game.” No, for socialists, it’s only economics that’s a zero sum game.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Steel yourself for Trump's Trade Wars

Yesterday, Donald Trump took the opportunity to bash Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker on economics and "hatred" in Wisconsin. He turned in a typical self-awareness-free stream of consciousness. The hatred aside, apparently referencing demonstrations by public service union thugs, was amusing mostly for its utter lack of introspection. Applying similar logic to violence at Mr. Trump's rallies would mean Trump was responsible for it.

The economic comments also provided some comedic relief from the difficulty involved in following Mr. Trump's train of mouth. These included a claim that Wisconsin has a $2.2 billion budget deficit. It doesn't. He said he got the information from his senior economic advisor - Time magazine. When challenged, he said if Time was wrong they should apologize. Then he might. In fact, "[t]he only time that number appeared in print at Time was when they quoted...Donald Trump." LOL.

Mr. Trump went on to say that Wisconsin is "getting killed" on trade and to complain that Walker hadn't raised taxes. The latter would not generally be viewed as a negative in a GOP primary. The former invites us to examine Mr. Trump's prescription for trade.

When you hear Donald Trump talk about 45% tariffs on imports, you might be curious (certainly more than he is) about how such protectionism has worked historically. We'll take as examples George Bush's 2002 steel tariffs and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930.

From Sorrell College of Business, Troy University:
On March 5, 2002, President Bush announced the imposition of tariffs ranging to 30% on steel imported into the United States for a three year period. While being touted as new protection for the industry from unfair foreign competition, since the late 1960s US steel producers have already enjoyed high tariff and low quota barriers to imports. This paper first reviews the three historical phases of steel protection from 1969 to 1992 in terms of tariff and quota levels and the impact on steel consumers. This study tabulates that more than three decades of protection has already cost the American consumer $100 billion in inflated prices for goods containing steel. And not only will the 2002 tariff impose additional losses in consumer surplus above the $100 billion figure, it has already generated protectionist retaliation and repercussions that will be further felt in escalating prices of goods and services unrelated to steel and lost markets for US exports. In that there appears to be no economic rationale for this duty, the paper concludes that politics has superseded economics as the President’s justification.

From Donald Trump's alma mater, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania:
U.S. Steel Users Claim Tariffs “Protect a Few at the Expense of the Majority”
Some 200,000 jobs have been lost in the steel-consuming industries since prices jumped by around 40% in early 2002, according to the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC), which represents steel users such as makers of automotive parts.

And let's not forget the granddaddy of protectionism, Smoot-Hawley. From the Foundation for Economic Education:
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff and the Great Depression
In 1930 a large majority of economists believed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act would exacerbate the U.S. recession into a worldwide depression. On May 5 of that year 1,028 members of the American Economic Association released a signed statement that vigorously opposed the act. The protest included five basic points. First, the tariff would raise the cost of living by “compelling the consumer to subsidize waste and inefficiency in [domestic] industry.” Second, the farm sector would not be helped since “cotton, pork, lard, and wheat are export crops and sold in the world market” and the price of farm equipment would rise. Third, “our export trade in general would suffer. Countries cannot buy from us unless they are permitted to sell to us.” Fourth, the tariff would “inevitably provoke other countries to pay us back in kind against our goods.” Finally, Americans with investments abroad would suffer since the tariff would make it “more difficult for their foreign debtors to pay them interest due them.” Likewise most of the empirical discussions of the downturn in world economic activity taking place in 1929–1933 put Smoot-Hawley at or near center stage.
In short, protectionism causes higher prices and lost jobs. Wharton most certainly attempted to plant these seeds in Mr. Trump's mind, but they fell on infertile soil.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How sweet it isn't

In recent posts regarding a couple of articles by Donald Trump supporters, The Other Club noted some of Mr. Trump’s proposals on international trade.

On March 7th; regarding whether Mr. Trump’s threat to “compel Nabisco to return Oreo manufacturing to the United States” was wild blather or sound policy.

On March 8th; regarding Trump's trade war threats:
“I’m not prepared to throw Adam Smith away just yet. I agree that we should reject mercantilism, but it’s also true that we cheat. Our tariffs on Brazilian sugar for example, support the crony-capitalist American sugar producers and protect Iowa corn farmers from ethanol feedstock competition: a Big Government, Corporatist Whorehouse.”
Tying these together is an interesting article at the Foundation for Economic Education:

Oreo Is Leaving for Mexico and Trumpism Is to Blame
“Presidential front-runner Donald Trump vows that he will "never eat another Oreo again" to protest the transfer of 600 cookie-making jobs from Chicago to Mexico. And Trump is 100% correct when he condemns the factory’s exodus: "It’s unfair to us."
It’s short, and I recommend that you RTWT to reconcile the headline with the quote.

Noted in passing. Marco Rubio favors these sugar subsidies and that's one of the reasons I didn't support him. Similarly, Mr. Trump's promise to expand the ethanol mandate.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Horseshoes and hand grenades

Donald Trump can be a strong advocate of playing by the rules.

For example, he defends four Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcies by saying he appropriately used the law.
"I have used the laws of this country — just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera...

You know what it’s called? It’s called negotiation.”
Mr. Trump also praises the rules of eminent domain: “[W]hen it comes to jobs, roads, the public good -- I think it's a wonderful thing." In fact, he understands eminent domain well enough to have been on both sides of it.

On other rules, Mr. Trump can be less particular. For example, he has said that if he's within 100 votes of winning the GOP presidential nomination on the first ballot, that's close enough: Otherwise there might be riots. To accommodate Mr. Trump, the long-standing convention rule on this question would have to be replaced by a new rule. Call it the “horseshoes and hand grenades” rule.

Historically, a convention where no candidate had a majority on the first ballot has been called “contested.” Among many others, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford were nominated at contested conventions. A very brief review of nominating convention history would have revealed to Mr. Trump that the rules for a contested convention are neither new nor nefarious. That would have required just the slightest practical, not even intellectual, curiosity.

Assuming the horseshoes and hand grenades rule is not adopted by the Republicans, and Mr. Trump does not accumulate the requisite majority, the 2016 GOP convention may be contested. This means that at least some delegates will become “unpledged” on second and subsequent ballots. “Unpledged” means they no longer are bound to vote for the winner of their state's primary/caucus. Knowing this rule, Ted Cruz is asking delegates to consider voting for him where the rules allow it.

Donald Trump is upset about this. He should be. Senator Cruz is demonstrating superior understanding of the rules and he's out-negotiating Mr. Trump.

All in all, I'm afraid this doesn't matter very much for the general election, because Mr. Trump is assuring an outcome where Mrs. Bill will be President whether he wins or loses the nomination.

It would be more satisfactory if he loses at the convention, however, because Cruz would have used the convention rules, to paraphrase Trump, “just like the greatest people that you read about every day in politics have used the rules of these conventions to do a great job for their country and its citizens."

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A note on jobs

We face an employment problem. Not the one Donald Trump refers to when he talks about bringing manufacturing jobs back. Those jobs do not add much value any more. I’d argue we don’t want them back.

Take, for example, what happened to US auto manufacturers who paid far more to assembly line workers than those workers were worth: Bankruptcy. They had to lay off workers, screw over bondholders, suck-up taxpayer dollars and, in 2007, implement a two tier wage.

Entry-level auto-workers get $15.78 to $19.28 hourly. Slightly above what the economically ignorant are now demanding for flipping burgers.

Full rate auto-workers get $28 an hour. The top tier also provides better benefits, including a pension instead of the 401(k) entry-level workers get. The total difference in the two compensation scales is about $20 an hour.

How much value is added by screwing in a sensor (200 times a day) that will keep cars from crashing into each other? What value is added by designing that sensor? Which job do you want?

If Mexicans and Chinese do those rote assembly jobs for less than UAW wages and benefits, is anyone surprised? Are they still “good jobs?” Is doubling the wages of an entry level UAW worker in Detroit sustainable?

How many of you would appreciate a doubling in the cost of a new automobile, or a $9 McDonald’s fish sandwich?

Those jobs, within our lifetimes, will mostly be done by robots. Then who will Trump blame?

Donald Trump's jobs "plan" is like insisting we bring back jobs manufacturing buggy whips.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Bush Brothers Provision Company and Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing

All of it comes from the Donald Trump label-making company.

FACT CHECKS of Trump Water, Trump Steaks, Trump Magazine and Trump Wine
Maybe as @Morning_Joe runs clip of Trump showing off all his Trump products they could point out every thing he said was a lie? #Journalism.

— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) March 9, 2016
None of this is the least bit surprising.

Delusional. Sad.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Trump: I don't know, and I don't care

Donald Trump's Health Care Plan Shows His Complete Disdain for Expertise
He’s not just clueless—he’s willfully ignorant.
[I]t is not really news that Trump is clueless when it comes to health policy. Trump has never demonstrated even the smallest iota of interest in in the underlying details of policy on this or any other issue. To the extent that he has provided any, they have been incoherent or contradictory: In interviews and speeches, he has praised single-payer health care and promised universal coverage paid for by the government, but also said that his Obamacare replacement will rely on competition and private plans. It is nonsense policy...

Trump, then, is not just ignorant on policy details. He is willfully ignorant. It's not just that he doesn't know what he's talking about. It's that he's avoided finding out.
RTWT it's well worth it.

Health Care and oh, say, the Nuclear Triad are not the only things that don't arouse his curiosity.

Trompe l'oeil. Trompe l'oreille.

What you see is not what you’ll get.
What you hear is noise, not signal.

John Kluge would like a word with you about Donald Trump, and I'd like to annotate.

An Open Letter to the Conservative Media Explaining Why I Have Left the Movement
“[I]t doesn’t appear to me that conservatives calling on people to reject Trump have any idea what it actually means to be a “conservative.” The word seems to have become a brand that some people attach to a set of partisan policy preferences, rather than the set of underlying principles about government and society it once was…

This strain of conservatism believed in the free market and capitalism but did not fetishize them the way so many libertarians do. This strain understood that a situation where every country in the world but the US acts in its own interests on matters of international trade and engages in all kinds of skulduggery in support of their interests is not free trade by any rational definition. This strain understood that a government’s first loyalty was to its citizens and the national interest. And also understood that the preservation of our culture and our civil institutions was a necessity.

All of this seems to have been lost.”
I guarantee that Mr. Trump hasn’t been the one to find it. I’d be very surprised if he even knew it was missing.

Conservatives believe the Constitution of the United States is fundamentally important. Donald Trump does not. That many Republicans don’t either doesn’t get any points for Trump, especially compared to Cruz - the only person running who’s been immersed in Babylon on the Potomac and still rejects it.

Regarding policy preferences, they arise from and depend on a set of underlying principles. We could stop judging candidates' principles by their policy preferences, and since they often lie about preferences to obfuscate principles, skepticism is a minimum requirement. However, a complete lack of discernible principle demands ultimate skepticism.

Donald Trump explicitly rejects the free market and is anything but a capitalist. Maybe Mr. Kluge should revisit the meaning of that word.

However, let’s assume your reasons for supporting Trump are as described by Mr. Kluge: You reject free trade and you’re concerned about national defense, particularly illegal immigration, which bleeds into the erosion of our culture and decline of civil institutions.

Free trade would require some further definition. I’m not prepared to throw Adam Smith away just yet. I agree that we should reject mercantilism, but it’s also true that we cheat. Our tariffs on Brazilian sugar for example, support the crony-capitalist American sugar producers and protect Iowa corn farmers from ethanol feedstock competition: a Big Government, Corporatist Whorehouse.

And, while I agree that TPP is a bad idea, it wasn’t a Republican initiative. I do admit some purported conservatives let it get through. I think NAFTA was a good idea. Mr. Kluge, I’m guessing, would oppose both.

In any case, a trade war with China should not be your preference. Mr. Trump says he’ll start one. You don’t get much more mercantilist than a 45% tariff. Look up Smoot-Hawley to see where that leads. Consider how nervous our stock market gets about China’s economic condition. Ask yourself why we keep trying to devalue the dollar. That screws you far more than the Chinese do.

On national defense and immigration Mr. Trump projects a strong image. However, he admits his immigration stance is flexible. He actually favors a deport and re-admit policy and has flipped on H1Bs. On national defense he proposes nothing much different than others. Ted Cruz, certainly, rejects “nation building.” As with immigration, we don’t really know where Mr. Trump will end up.
“The lowest moment of the election was when Trump said what everyone in the country knows: that invading Iraq was a mistake.”
Well, yes. But not for the reasons Mr. Kluge implies. Mr. Trump’s aversion to invading Iraq came after the invasion, not before, when he was providing lukewarm support. As President, had he been presented with “slam dunk” evidence of WMDs from the CIA and confirming information from foreign intelligence agencies, and documented connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam, I do not believe his decision would have been different than Dubya’s. Nor should it have been. Bush, contra Trump, did not lie about Iraqi WMD.
“Over the last 15 years, I have watched the then-chairman of the DNC say the idea that President Bush knew about 9/11 and let it happen was a “serious position held by many people”.”
Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that Bush had advance warning of the 9/11 attacks. I agree that Trump's Truther flirtation is a low blow. It's also destructive of culture and civil institutions. Just as Trump's approval of the ChiCom crackdown in Tiananmen Square was detrimental to our cultural respect for Liberty and showed a disregard for our civil institutions surrounding civil rights.

As to erosion of our culture, Mr. Trump should be served with a crass action suit. Mr. Kluge disagrees,
“I really do not care that Donald Trump is vulgar, combative, and uncivil and I would encourage you not to care as well. I would love to have our political discourse be what it was even thirty years ago and something better than what it is today. But the fact is the Democratic Party is never going to return to that and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it…

[Y]ou tell me that I should reject Trump because he is uncivil and mean to his opponents? Is that some kind of a joke? This is not the time for civility or to worry about it in our candidates.”
No, that’s not why most people are telling you to reject Trump, Mr. Kluge, though it might figure into why you should reconsider Ted Cruz. Using other people’s objections to Trump’s vulgarity as justification for giving up some of that which “has been lost,” and because Democrats serve up tripe, is quite a feat. You’ve declared no candidate acceptable to you can possibly have the slightest impact on culture. Maybe that was before the penis joke during the debate. I can see how that would contribute to restoring our culture if he did it at the UN, but in any serious forum... Jeez.

Never mind it took the left decades to pollute and degrade our culture, we shouldn’t bother resisting any further. You seem to say the ideas that arise from the left don’t underpin the long decline in civil institutions. Never mind Trump’s bragging about adultery or what the Democrats will do with that. Just never mind.

As to decline of civil institutions, restoring them requires considerably more respect for the Constitution, the Presidency and other people than Mr. Trump has demonstrated.

You urge us to vote Trump. Ignore Cruz. But, Cruz frightens the Quisling-Conservatives even more than Trump. Cruz demonstrated his anger on the Senate floor. What makes Trump preferable?
“[I]t is unclear whether he [Cruz] could resist the temptations of nation building and wouldn’t get bullied into trying it again. And as much as I like Cruz on many areas he, like all of them except Trump, seems totally unwilling to admit that the government has a responsibility to act in the nation’s interests on trade policy and do something besides let every country in the world take advantage of us in the name of “free trade.””
Ted Cruz is the guy who filibustered Obamacare funding, earning the enmity of his own party. Who’s going to bully him? He’s not afraid of Democrats and he’s said to have no Republican friends.

This dismissal of Cruz is a pretense that the blank slate of Donald Trump would resist nation building - on no evidence. I can’t find where Mr. Cruz would “let every country in the world take advantage of us.” It doesn’t seem in character, either.

On the merits, Mr. Trump’s penchant for “Deals” makes him more likely to trade building a nation or two for Democrat votes.
“I do not care that Donald Trump is in favor of big government.”
Fine, but limited government is one of the most important of the underlying principles you regret has been lost. I guess we’re just supposed to give up our own principles because some people have a corrupt view of them. Could we not a least favor someone who isn’t bound and determined to institute ‘Yuuge' government. There is such a person running.

In short, Mr. Kluge, your reasons for voting for Trump fit Cruz better, and the polls show Cruz does better against Hillary.
“I will vote for virtually anyone to keep the left out of power and not because I thought them to be the best or even really a conservative choice.”
I guess not.

Mr. Kluge, you are ticked off at Conservative media and faux-Conservative politicians. Me too, but I’m not cutting my face up to spite my nose. You are projecting your preferences on the Trumpian blank slate, not selecting a candidate who shares them. Whether this is successful depends on a Yuuge assumption: You can believe what Trump says.

In my experience, Trump supporters adore Trump for “telling it like it is,” while simultaneously explaining away his gaffes as “not what he meant.”

Please be sure you're not doing that.

Monday, March 07, 2016

The word should be "Progmatism"

A friend sent me an article by a guy named Mychal Massie wherein Massie explained why Donald Trump should be the GOP nominee.

Trump Is Not Conservative, He’s A Pragmatist

Massie misoverestimates Trump. He (Massie) sets up his Trump plea by muddying the terms liberal, conservative and Republican.

Massie’s refrain that 'this problem isn’t a Republican/ conservative problem, or a liberal problem' is a way to conflate conservatives with Progressives by equating conservatives with Republicans. Not buying it. Limited government and the Rule of Law are principles, not pragmatically applied suggestions. Sure, many Republicans are Statists. I want them gone. I don’t see how that excuses Trump.

Massie goes on to make some big claims for Trump. Some examples,
“The impending collapse of the economy isn't a liberal or conservative problem, it is an American problem. That said, until it is viewed as a problem that demands a common sense approach to resolution, it will never be fixed because the Democrats and Republicans know only one way to fix things and the longevity of their impracticality has proven to have no lasting effect. Successful businessmen like Donald Trump find ways to make things work, they do not promise to accommodate.”
Apparently there’s some meaning of “negotiate” which eschews any reference whatsoever to the word “accommodate.”

Our economic woes are a Statist problem, enabled by the Progressive Woodrow Wilson’s Federal Reserve and the willingness of politicians to spend money we don’t have. This tendency is reinforced by crony capitalism and political vigorish, proud Trump specialties, designed to attract government subsidies.

The “longevity of their impracticality has proven to have no lasting effect” sounds like something Trump might say if he used words longer than 3 syllables and had an even worse command of grammar than he does. It’s contentless and self-contradictory.

And I’m waiting to hear Trump's common sense approach. I guess Trump’s refusal to consider entitlement reform will have to change, since that’s just accommodating voters.

"Successful businessmen like Donald Trump find ways to make things work, they do not promise to accommodate.” Taking vast pride in unpredictability, pragmatism and flexibility - and having outrageous negotiating positions - is promising to accommodate. How else can a Trumpian “Deal” be done? Yes, yes, I know. Trump’s accommodations will be really, really great accommodations.
“Trump uniquely understands that China’s manipulation of currency is not a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. It is a problem that threatens our financial stability and he understands the proper balance needed to fix it.”
Really? A 45% tariff is “the proper balance?” Has Massie never heard of master monetary manipulators Janet Yellen or Mario Drahgi? Can he not observe what a devaluation of the Yuan does to risk calculations in our stock markets? Who is going to buy all those T-Bills?

Ted Cruz (and Rand Paul) has the idea that we should stop threatening our own financial stability: Return to a gold standard and Audit the Fed.
“As a pragmatist Donald Trump hasn't made wild pie-in-the-sky promises of a cell phone in every pocket, free college tuition, and a $15 hour minimum wage for working the drive-through a Carl’s Hamburgers.”
This statement is so willfully ignorant that it calls into question Massie’s every point.

He’s right, Trump hasn’t promised cell phones, free college tuition or job killing minimum wages. No, he’s merely proposed to save $300 billion from a Medicare drug budget that’s only $78 billion, to force a sovereign nation to pay for a wall through economic warfare and (a biggie) to compel Nabisco to return Oreo manufacturing to the United States. Trump is proposing to spend $10 trillion, paid for by reducing “fraud, waste and abuse.”
“…Trump is a pragmatist. He sees a problem and understands it must be fixed. He doesn’t see the problem as liberal or conservative, he sees it only as a problem. That is a quality that should be admired and applauded, not condemned.”
Massie admires Trump’s “pragmatism.” Another way of saying “flexible.” In Trump’s case, another way of saying “ignorant of the principle of having principles” against which to measure actions or evaluate unintended consequences. Trump indeed sees problems and wants to fix them. So, what are some of the problems Trump sees?

-We aren’t using torture and we aren’t killing the wives and children of terrorists.
Fix: Issue illegal orders to the military.

Has observance of the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions been a problem for you, or is it just Trump?

-Some publications write things some people don’t like.
Fix: Make it easier to sue for libel.

Have First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech been a problem for you, or just Trump? (Well, and John McCain, but that's another story.)

-Need some property, but the owner doesn’t wish to sell.
Fix: Apply eminent domain for personal gain.

Have you needed to take some old lady’s house to build a parking lot, or is that problem unique to Trump?

Does Trump ever ask himself whether the Federal Government SHOULD fix something? Are his solutions grounded in reality? That’s rhetorical.

"The two points central to the pragmatist ethics are: a formal rejection of all fixed standards—and an unquestioning absorption of the prevailing standards. The same two points constitute the pragmatist approach to politics, which, developed most influentially by Dewey, became the philosophy of the Progressive movement in this country (and of most of its liberal descendants down to the present day)."
“How to Read (and Not to Write),”
The Ayn Rand Letter, I, 26, 5

Update, March 28, 2:50PM

Friday, March 04, 2016

Only One Candidate has a War Crimes Plan

Not that I suspect it will matter much to Trump supporters, but his repeated statements last night that the US military will do anything he tells them to do (case in point, torture and kill the families of terrorists) showed utter contempt for the military, abysmal ignorance of the Constitution and a willful disregard for what it means to be Commander in Chief.

Trump's vocabulary and odd word selections indicate he likely doesn't read very much, and he probably doesn't have a building in Nuremberg, so why should he know about some Tribunals conducted there 60 years ago?

Why will our military obey Trump's unlawful orders? Trump says, "because he's a "leader."" He keeps using that word. I don't think it means what he thinks it means. The word he's looking for is "autocrat."

He had a heads-up he might face this question, Hayden: U.S. Soldiers Would 'Refuse to Act' if President Trump Ordered Torture, and could have been prepared to mumble one of his typical evasions. Apparently, it wasn't on one of "the shows" which inform his worldview. Or, maybe he was prepared. Which would be even worse.

Most people would consider megalomania and control of the nuclear football as mutually exclusive. Though, as I say, his supporters probably still think he'd be a fine CiC. They are even now preparing to interpret what he "really meant" for the rest of us.* Trump may even be getting ready to walk it back in his typical fashion.

It won't wash. He said it strongly and clearly twice. It's not like insisting Dubya lied about WMD, then saying 'maybe' the next day - there's no third party to waffle about. It's not a interpretation problem. He didn't have a bad earpiece.

He just doesn't know any better.

*Update, Trump excusers (will add as I bump into them):

"Trump's all talk. There's no way he would get this passed to begin with. He'd never have the support for this, so it's really not an issue."
Right. It has to be "passed." (WTH?) So it's not an issue about Trump's qualifications or character. If you're as ignorant as Trump.

"Trump backs down from waterboarding comments, says he won’t ask troops to violate law"
Aaaand... here he is, The Donald recants. His advisors must be getting tired of explaining reality to him. And he doesn't want to explain himself at CPAC.

"Katrina Pierson, a Trump spokeswoman, said the candidate had been misunderstood.

"He realized they took him literally, that's why he put out the statement," she told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." "What he's saying is that he wants to go after them with the full force of everything we have.""

Of course. When you're Donald Trump saying something clearly and repeatedly in response to a clear question doesn't count. That applies to every word that comes out of his mouth, every position he holds and every policy he claims he will implement.

"Trump is definitely not saying all torture to all people is OK. He is using the context of the barbarians who are chopping innocent people's heads off. How do you deal with those barbarians? I don't think he is suggesting doing bad stuff to the wife and the family. He is suggesting that they should certainly not be given safe passage at the very least. Why not hold them and interrogate them about what they know is his suggestion. He is not being intellectual about any of this and only suggesting common sense stuff which is why it is resonating with so many. You guys including Althouse are making this a big intellectual exercise which it is not."
No, he wasn't suggesting anything, he was guaranteeing that when he ordered our military to commit war crimes, they would do it. And, yes, that passes as common sense for Trump and his supporters.

"Trump's a negotiator first. If I take the threat of harming the families of terrorists off the table I have lost a very valuable negotiating tool. If I take the threat of "torture" off the table I have done the same thing. The worst current example of abandoning a negotiating tool needlessly was Obama's decision to remove all troops from Iraq; or maybe his failure to follow through on his redline threat to Assad; or withdrawing support for Ghadaffi, or the entire nuclear process with Iraq. You choose."
"If I take the threat of committing war crimes off the table I have lost a very valuable negotiating tool." There, fixed that for you.

Obama's failed threats were bad negotiating positions because he didn't follow through, but Trump's idiotic threats (which you claim he won't actually implement) are important negotiating tools? When Trump threatens to nuke Russia as a negotiating position, how will Putin react?

I choose NOT Trump.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Three Thoughts on The Donald

Read all three.

Andrew Klavan:
What's a Conservative to Do?
Or a Libertarian, or even a Scoop Jackson Democrat?
If it's Hillary versus Trump, a plague on both parties' houses. American conservatism is the defender of constitutional law, restricted government and individual liberty. Those principles are what I'll stand on, against any opponent on either side. And bloody well alone if I have to.
Thomas Sowell:
Last Chance for America?
Good question.
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump's theatrical talents, including his bluster and bombast, may be enough to conceal his shallow understanding of very deep problems. But that will not cut it in the White House, where you cannot clown or con your way out of problems, and where the stakes are matters of life and death.
James Lileks:
Screed 2016
Picking the lesser of two evils doesn't work this time.
Your previous calculations are useless in this situation, because a different sort of man has arise and grabbed the raw public molar with his rhetorical wrench. To participate in the usual calculations is to debase yourself. You may regard this as necessary for the triumph of certain ideas you hope Trump will deign to let live or allow to flourish, but you know that the vessel into which your pour these hopes is cracked and leaches lead, and that by supporting him for one thing you tacitly enable all the others. You hope this bargain shores up the timbers that keep the Republic standing...

To vote for Trump is to validate; to vote for Trump is to participate. He is a crass, gutter-tongued, vulgar man whose self-regard blinds his ability to understand his own ignorance. A man who casually encourages the worst, enables the mediocre, and wafts aloft cartoon concepts of American greatness with gusts of flatulent banalities.

On March 8, I'll be voting for Cruz. Why Cruz over Rubio? It looks very much like Rubio will not win his home state.

YMMV, but #NeverTrump. And, sorry, but Kasich is just noise.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Making America Grate Again

Jonah Goldberg is onto something here.

Imperial Obama may think normal people in ”flyover country” are bitter, gun-clinging, xenophobic bible-thumpers. He said so.

Imperial Trump may think a not insignificant portion of his supporters are aspiring Grand Kleagles. He refused to disavow the KKK in a CNN interview.

Both statements are just what "New York Values" believers think of Republicans.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The horns of a dilemma

In the last week Donald Trump:
  • came out for the health care mandate 
  • defended planned parenthood 
  • blamed GW Bush for 9/11 
  • stood by the idea of impeaching GWB
  • had a spat with the Pope
  • called for our military to dip ammo in pig’s blood
  • urged a boycott of Apple
Add to that his enthusiastic support for corporatist misuse of eminent domain, saying he’ll order our military to kill the families of terrorists, threatening a trade war with China, insulting war heroes, urging his supporters to "punch out" protestors, a clear misogynist history and saying the “F” word at a televised rally.

That's a partial list.

This is a man whose entire policy portfolio consists of the words “terrific,” “tremendous,” “great” and “wonderful” (often punctuated with “very, very” or “really, really”) jammed in front of whatever policy word he’s supposedly explaining. Then he repeats it at least 3 times between self-interruptions describing how Big his Rallies are, or his Lead in the Polls.

33% of those who voted in last night’s SC Republican primary want this man to be president.

So. We’re looking as if we might have a forced choice between a less articulate reincarnation of P. T. Barnum and the lying grifter who literally claims her biggest qualification is what’s between her legs. Unsurprisingly, these 2 are contesting for the lowest favorability rating in either party.

I think Mrs. Bill has the upper hand. When the Dems are finished with their micro-targeted anti-Trump social media videos, it will result in a landslide loss for the GOP.

Not that it would make a huge difference to citizens. Either way we get big government and big spending and paternalistic federal intervention characterized by crony capitalism. Our choice is Brownshirts or Blackshirts.

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
-H. L. Mencken


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Small, petty man

Politico weighs in on the exquisitely difficult, sublimely nuanced decisions afflicting our President: Obama to skip Scalia's funeral
The optics of paying his respects to Scalia are tricky for Obama, who would have been the subject of constant cutaways to his reactions and interactions with members of Congress during the funeral, distracting from memorials for the giant of American legal thought.
Now, that's a quite reasonable criticism of how the partisan media might cover the funeral of a truly great man should their "lightbringer" deign to appear at it.

"Look at the crease in his pants!" "I had a thrill run up my leg!"

But even that drivel isn't the point being made. Politico wants to forgive Obama's inability to act as a Statesman rather than abandon his narcissistic cheerleading. It wouldn't even occur to them that making Obama the center of attention at Scalia's funeral would be their fault.

Politico notes in the sub-head that "The president's decision is being played up by some as a snub at a politically fraught time."

Yes, it is a politically fraught time.

Yes, some, including many Democrats, are wondering why this President cannot resist ball spiking and trash talk: "I won Antonin! I outlived you." "I won," is a refrain explaining a good part of why the time is politically fraught.

Recognizing that Politico is struggling to make sense of all this, TOC sent that paragraph to our rewrite department:

"Pictures of Obama chewing gum, high-fiving the Vice President, and mouthing “I won!” during Scalia’s funeral were considered to have too much negative PR potential. Especially in light of the President's upcoming dead-on-arrival nomination for Scalia's replacement.

The opportunity to behave decently for an hour or so at Scalia’s funeral might well have generated some good will, misled people to believe Obama’s humble-brag that he regrets not fixing the partisan divide he exacerbated, mitigated his insult to SCOTUS in his 2010 State of the Union address, and reflected true regret that he filibustered Justice Alito's confirmation.

However, the required behavior was described as “apolitical - so not remotely possible” by an anonymous source: “He can’t be expected to act like a Statesman, so it’s better he hits the links. Besides, how would it look to show up for a mere Supreme Court Justice after he already skipped Margaret Thatcher’s funeral?”"

There, fixed that for you Politico.

There's been some speculation that Scalia's family asked Obama not to attend. I disregard this because it's the last thing Justice Ginsburg's good friend would have desired, and if the request had been made, Obama would surely have decided he must attend.