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:
THE 2002 STEEL TARIFFS: DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
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
OBAMA ON FREEDOM VS. TOTALITARIANISM — WHATEVER WORKS

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.