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  • The Trump Preference Cascade is Moving Along.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on April 30th, 2016 (All posts by )

    rally

    Earlier in the year, I predicted that a preference cascade is forming around Trump.

    “This illustrates, in a mild way, the reason why totalitarian regimes collapse so suddenly. (Click here for a more complex analysis of this and related
    issues). Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don’t realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime. If the secret police and the censors are doing their job, 99% of the populace can hate the regime and be ready to revolt against it – but no revolt will occur because no one realizes that everyone else feels the same way.

    We are in a similar period right now. No one wants to put a Trump bumper sticker on their car because it seems an invitation to vandalism.

    Siva is accused of slashing the tires of a Ford Focus and pouring yogurt into the car’s open sunroof while it was parked at a Gig Harbor Fred Meyer.

    Police say Siva told them he attacked the vehicle because of the Trump sticker on the rear bumper. Siva allegedly told police he considered the sticker a “hate symbol” and vandalizing the car “improved the community.”

    The victim of the crime is considered to be at fault because his bumper sticker was a “hate symbol.”

    Rioters at the Trump rally in Costa Mesa California this week felt the same way. They showed their anger in obvious ways.

    Protest organizers in Southern California said the anti-Trump demonstrations spread through word of mouth and involved mostly young people, including many high school and college students. They brought with them Mexican flags, which were once discouraged at immigrant rights rallies for fear they would be regarded as un-American.

    The demonstrations outside the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on Thursday night blocked traffic and caused tense moments. Some protesters performed screeching burnouts in their cars or did doughnuts at intersections. Others kicked at and punched approaching vehicles, shouting expletives. Ranchera and hip-hop music was blasted throughout the streets. At least 17 people were arrested, and both a Trump supporter and a teenage anti-Trump protester were hurt.

    No mention of payment but many of us believe these “demonstrations” are being funded.

    What is particularly interesting to me is who is attending these rallies ?

    I would like to have attended but I worked that day and was heading home when I heard about it. It was too late and I am not up to that much excitement at my age, anyway. What were the people waiting in line to attend like ?

    As noted, the most interesting part of the rally proved the demographics: it was probably 60% women. Lots of minorities as well, plenty of people holding “Latinos for Trump” signs. It was a good mix of African-American, Asian, White, and Hispanic–everybody got along well. Over the loudspeaker, we kept hearing somebody saying over and over that if we saw protestors in the crowd, please do not touch them or say anything to them, just alert security by yelling “Trump! Trump! Trump!” Initially, I thought this was ridiculous, but it worked. Random protestors would get in with the rally crowd and start yelling, and folks would shout, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” The very efficient security personnel would escort the protestors out. No violence.

    Doesn’t this sound like the Tea party rallies in 2010 ?

    The national polls now show closer numbers and Rasmussen has them tied. Given what I believe is a Bradley Effect, in which people being polled may conceal their real choice to avoid being labeled bigoted by a pollster, I think we might be looking at a Trump landslide. I have wondered if he would implode at some point but I don’t see it.

    I really hope the GOP Convention is not attacked by rioters and I do worry about assassination attempts but we will see how this goes on.

     

    79 Responses to “The Trump Preference Cascade is Moving Along.”

    1. Robert Schwartz Says:

      The nature of Trump’s supporters does not make him fit to be President. I may have a lot of sympathy for their plight, but their injuries do not make them wise, nor do they make Trump anything but a buffoon, a boor, and a fraud, who is unfit for any office of honor or trust, public or private.

      The nature of Trumps’ enemies does not make him fit to be President. I may have nothing but loathing for these brown shirts, and view them with great alarm, but that does not make Trump one whit a better person or more qualified to be President. They deserve to be thrown in jail. But, when one criminal murders another criminal, we convict for murder, no matter how loathsome his victim was.

      The nature of Trump’s opponent does not make him fit to be President. Hillary may very well be an incarnation of Satan. At the very least she is a felon who belongs in the Big House, not the White House. Hillary is unfit for any office of honor or trust, public or private. But that does not make Trump one whit a better person or more qualified to be President. In my estimation Trump would actually be a worse President than Hillary. I say that because, if Hillary wins her presence in office will generate a conservative reaction. Trump will do the same things that Hillary would do, but he will have divided and paralyzed the Republican Party.

      Trump’s popularity does not make him fit to be President. His enemies may generate an enormous victory for him and seal the nomination for him, but that does not make him fit to be President. But, vox populi vox dei non est. Obama was had great popularity. How did that work out for you?

      #NeverTrump

      #NFWTrump

      “I won’t back down.
      No, I won’t back down.
      You can stand me up at the gates of he11,
      But, I won’t back down.”

      — Johnny Cash

    2. Overload in CO Says:

      [“I won’t back down.
      No, I won’t back down.
      You can stand me up at the gates of he11,
      But, I won’t back down.”

      — Johnny Cash]

      I thought it was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

    3. Mike K Says:

      “Trump will do the same things that Hillary would do, but he will have divided and paralyzed the Republican Party.”

      I am impressed at the amazing skills of the NeverTrump group to predict the future.

      Would you mind telling me the price of gold next year this time ? Maybe I should buy more.

    4. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Police say Siva told them he attacked the vehicle because of the Trump sticker on the rear bumper. Siva allegedly told police he considered the sticker a “hate symbol” and vandalizing the car “improved the community.”

      The same thing happened in communities around the country when Romney ran against Obama. I remember seeing footage of a black gang moving through a suburban neighborhood ripping up Romney signs and throwing them in the streets. Part two of the footage showed black police there with smiles on their faces – they clearly approved – shooing the gang along but otherwise doing nothing. Sealed and approved by the black, probably unionized, police force. In that community, intimidation and vandalism had state approval as long as it was done for the Democrats.

    5. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I really hope the GOP Convention is not attacked by rioters… You’re joking, right? It’s gonna look like Chicago in 68.

    6. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      I believe the #NeverTrump people. They will never support Trump. They cannot be converted. They cannot be convinced to remain neutral. They will continue to attack him and his supporters if he is the Republican candidate. They will continue to attack him and his supporters if he is elected president, in all matters foreign and domestic. #NeverTrump will be the permanent justification. It is the way it is and cannot be changed. There is no point in trying to convince them, and it is a wasted effort to do so.

      It is part of the divorce that is happening and will destroy the Republican party.

      Because if the #NeverTrump people get their way and Cruz and the GOPe block Trump at the convention, especially if it is by a last minute rule change, [and in such a case, the GOPe will toss Cruz immediately afterwards and insert their own designated loser] the Trump people will do the same thing to the #NeverTrump people, including Cruz.

      Both sides hate and insult each other regularly and consider the insults justified. It is what it is.

      And if a preference cascade does form around Trump, the fact that the Republican Party would rather die than allow its voters to choose their own candidate [I commend everyone’s attention to GOPe pundit George Will’s column in the Washington Post where he calls on the Republican Party to officially campaign against Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee to try to defeat him in all 50 states (not coincidentally giving Hillary all 50 states) to “save” the Republican Party. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/if-trump-is-nominated-the-gop-must-keep-him-out-of-the-white-house/2016/04/29/293f7f94-0d9d-11e6-8ab8-9ad050f76d7d_story.html ] will be proof positive that the country is beyond the realm of electoral politics.

    7. dearieme Says:

      “a buffoon, a boor, and a fraud”: that’s how he seems to me, with the caveat that he’s probably an intelligent b,b,f. But if the alternative is Mrs Vile, then the doctrine of the lesser evil applies.

    8. Mike K Says:

      ““a buffoon, a boor, and a fraud”: that’s how he seems to me,”

      We once had “an amiable dunce” as president. That worked out fairly well.

    9. veryretired Says:

      I don’t care much for the Trump phenomenon, but it is becoming clearer day by day that his irreverent approach and refusal to genuflect at all the appropriate PC altars has tapped a deep pool of anger and resentment in the general public.

      A pool, by the way, that the governing coalition and its captive media are desperate to either pretend does not exist, or, if it does, consists only of vile racists and disgruntled woman haters.

      This is the same dismissal that was used against the tea party movement, along with some highly suspect actions by the state to suppress its influence.

      The rioters, for I won’t dignify them as “protesters” or mere “demonstrators”, are a continuation of the bought and paid for leftists who have been wandering the country for the last few years after they were recruited and organized by the occupy types.

      They, and their organizing elements, have been showing up at all the subsequent riots over the last few years, whether racial or political in surface motivation. It is this group which will instigate and provoke as much violence and civil unrest as possible around the country during the election cycle. And, btw, it would have happened whether Trump was the frontrunner, or is the eventual candidate, or it was any other non-progressive.

      As I have said before, I don’t think the initial Trump candidacy was anything more than an attempt to split the non-Clinton vote, ala 1992 when Perot did it. No one expected him to draw so much attention, and enthusiasm, from the wider electorate.

      It was clear from the early coverage and commentary that the media and political talking heads considered him to be an amusing way of ignoring any other legitimate candidates, and so these commentators and reporters delighted in oohing and ahhing over Trump’s latest non-PC pronouncement, assuming, as all inhabitants of the PC bubble do, that most everybody else agreed with them.

      I first started to realize what might be happening when, instead of apologizing and cowering in fear before the correctness police, Trump told them to stuff it, and his popularity soared. It was clear then that the general public was thoroughly sick of the way public figures had been led on a leash by the media and other PC enforcers, and were searching for someone to stand up to them.

      Unfortunately, that someone appears to me to be a charlatan, and certainly not a conservative or libertarian by any definition I’m aware of.

      But, the voters have been electing conservatives for years and years, each of whom campaigned for lower taxes, less government, the rule of law, and a strong defense.

      Once in office, what the voters got, instead, was increased taxes, more government at every level, an increasing number of examples that the law only applied to the general public, and not the elites that had come to rule over the rest of the populace, and a military that was being misused repeatedly, while fifth columnists in the west did everything they could to undermine and disparage it.

      I apologize that this has gotten long, even for me, but the final point I wanted to make was that, no matter who eventually is nominated or elected, from either party, we are on the threshold of a political era marked by violence, and corruption, far exceeding anything this country has seen since the years leading up to the Civil War.

      It must be clearly and repeatedly pointed out, while all the finger pointing and scapegoating is going on, that this turmoil is entirely the result of a ruling political, and intellectual, and cultural elite that has demonstrated incompetence, corruption, and utter contempt for the dignity and values of the ordinary citizen so blatantly and so widespread that they have totally alienated the support from the populace that they need, but don’t deserve.

    10. Sgt. Mom Says:

      These a-holes are guaranteeing Trump popularity. I hope that this catches them by surprise.
      (Note – not a Trump fan by any means, but I am bitterly relishing the spasms of irrationality being exhibited by those who went all spare about Tea Partiers. Yes – you went all spastic about reasonable, responsible, constitutionalist, fiscally-responsible and middle-class activists exercising their rights. Now enjoy the seriously PO’d version.)

    11. Mike K Says:

      ” I don’t think the initial Trump candidacy was anything more than an attempt to split the non-Clinton vote, ala 1992 when Perot did it”

      I disagree on that but I do think Trump has been mulling over this thing for years. It may be just ego or the reaction of someone who thinks he can solve problems others fail to solve.

      I don’t think it was anything to benefit the Clintons. They are notorious for ingratitude.

      I do think he is surprised that it took off and he has decided to see where it goes. Now, I think he is getting serious and will follow through.

      I have no idea how he will do as a president but the most recent ones have not been much of a model.

      GHW Bush did pretty well in foreign policy but had no clue about the economy. Clinton was able to learn but had a very shallow base of knowledge and I think he was as surprised to be a serious candidate in 1992 as Trump is now. That was Mario Cuomo’s year but he was afraid Bush was unbeatable. Clinton was an accident.

      We have such a sclerotic ruling class that anyone would probably do better by leaving everyone alone.

      Conservatism as an ideology has run its course.

      The fundamental problem, I think, s television and the instant celebrity culture. Education has folded its tent except for the elites who view the rest of the population as drones.

      I had lunch today with Jill’s grandson who is in business with his uncle, her son’s brother-in-law. They run a business called Emory Motorsports which restores and rebuilds antique Porsches. The two young men have clients like Jay Leno and Seinfeld who are collectors. They have a one to two year waiting list for projects and none are less then $400,000.

      These two men do not have college degrees and the grandson is 25. His uncle is about 50 and took over the business from his father who began selling Porsche parts in Orange County 40 years ago from a small shop.

      They have been invited to the Porsche factor in Stuttgart. These are the businesses that make the country work.

      They are very hard working intelligent young men and her son has three boys just like this. None is interested in a college degree, which is probably too bad but colleges have wrecked their brands with this stuff. It is no surprise that serious young men are not interested.

    12. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      I tend to agree with Mike K. about Trump’s motivations. All major businesses in Democrat controlled areas have to pay mordida to Democrats; either in the form of cash bribes or political contributions. As an example, I grew up in family restaurants. All were in Democrat controlled areas. I never encountered a state or county health inspector who was not on the take. Our places were excellent as far as sanitation was concerned, but if we did not pay them off they would not pass you. Occasionally cash, usually free meals for them and their families every month.

      If you are doing developments, you have a lot of permits and approvals that you must have and pay for. Granting that Republicans are crooked too, but the Democrats have gotten it down to assembly line corruption.

      I don’t have the link right here, but if memory serves, about 2009-2011 his contributions started to shift to Republicans. What happened to the country in January 2009?

      Sgt. Mom Says:
      April 30th, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      >>>>”Now enjoy the seriously PO’d version.”<<<<

      We had the "concerned citizens" with the TEA Party. We are dealing with an "aggravated" version now with the Trump movement. But we are still marginally in the realm of electoral politics, be it ever so corrupt.

      When things get kinetic [and the street riots we have seen so far do not qualify . . . yet], and people start either defensively or pre-emptively striking back against the Left; then we will be enjoying the “seriously P.O’d version”. And everybody’s dance card is going to be full.

    13. Will Says:

      Well, I don’t think he’ll light up the White House in rainbow colors. I don’t think he’s a racist and an anti-Semite. I doubt he’ll go out of his way to make a catastrophic deal with the world’s leading exporter of terrorism. I’m guessing he knows he’s got to do some smart hiring, and that he’s already been told that the clean-up will be epic and unprecedented. I’m guessing the smirk will come from successes and not from returning GITMO lodgers to the battlefield. Whether he’ll be able to do anything at all considering the breadth of opposition, is beyond me, but it heartens me to see the enthusiasm at his rally’s. It’s very good tonic for a country who’s had it’s leader’s middle finger in their face for eight years.

    14. Mike K Says:

      ” It’s very good tonic for a country who’s had it’s leader’s middle finger in their face for eight years.”

      Yes, even Peggy Noonan has noticed.

      A political saying attributed to Haley Barbour is that in politics this is the dynamic: Good gets better and bad gets worse. Very smart analysts and reporters have been translating all these victories into delegate counts, which of course is the key question. But as I look at where we are I think: Get your mind off 1,237; get your mind on the wind at Donald Trump’s back. After all the missteps and embarrassments of the past few months, his support is building.

      “I consider myself the presumptive nominee,” Mr. Trump said in his victory remarks. He is.

      And

      In my continuing quest to define aspects of Mr. Trump’s rise, to my own satisfaction, I offer what was said this week in a talk with a small group of political activists, all of whom back him. One was about to begin approaching various powerful and influential Republicans who did not support him, and make the case. I told her I’d been thinking that maybe Mr. Trump’s appeal is simple: What Trump supporters believe, what they perceive as they watch him, is that he is on America’s side.

      And that comes as a great relief to them, because they believe that for 16 years Presidents Bush and Obama were largely about ideologies.

      I think that is it and that is why Conservatism has lost the war. It is just one more political philosophy that has not solved problems. Reagan won the Cold War but he allowed the Democrat Congress free reign in return for letting him win. They spent the country into the present deficit and blamed him.

    15. Grurray Says:

      John Robb isn’t optimistic about the GOP convention in Cleveland. It’s going to make Chicago ’68 look like a chamber of commerce picnic.

    16. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      BTW, what moron at the RNC decided Cleveland was good location for a convention? I think the GOP has developed suicidal tendencies.

    17. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Subotai Bahadur: “I believe the #NeverTrump people. … There is no point in trying to convince them, and it is a wasted effort to do so.”

      Good. We understand each other.

      “It is part of the divorce that is happening and will destroy the Republican party.”

      You started it.

      “Because if the #NeverTrump people get their way … the Trump people will do the same thing to the #NeverTrump people, including Cruz.”

      Only sort of. Trump will lose catastrophically in November. He and his movement will disappear and have no further impact in American life, because they were never about anything other than Trump. No one else could be him, and his followers being merely followers will fall away.

      “Both sides hate and insult each other regularly and consider the insults justified.”

      I have never insulted the Trumpeters. It is the behavior of their inamorata that shames them.

      Mike K: “Would you mind telling me the price of gold next year this time?”

      One troy ounce of pure gold, will be worth one troy ounce of pure gold next year, and the year after for that matter. The value of a dollar is merely the whim of a bunch of government officials. What it will be one year from now, or even one day from now, is unknowable.

    18. Joseph Hertzlinger Says:

      Are people who are used to standing in front of the march of history yelling “Stop!” susceptible to preference cascades?

    19. Mr Black Says:

      The biggest reason to ignore and repudiate the wise advice about nominating someone conservative or electable or nice, is that doing exactly that has got us to where we are now. If this is ‘winning’ then perhaps we’re going about it all wrong. If Trump governs as a democrat it could hardly be worse than what the GOP congress has already permitted to pass into law. And if he doesn’t, then we might actually get some change worth having.

    20. Mike K Says:

      “One troy ounce of pure gold, will be worth one troy ounce of pure gold next year,”

      An evasion that tells me how much your predictions are worth.

      “Trump will lose catastrophically in November.”

      Let’s discuss this again in November,

      The point and the significance of the Trump phenomenon is that the causes are still ignored by those who seem incapable of understanding why they are in such trouble with ordinary people. They may not care but, as Trotsky once said, “You may not be interested in war but war is interested in you.”

    21. TimL Says:

      Kennedy is clearly in the pay of the Clintons. Maybe he has been promised a job in Hillary’s National Health Service?

    22. djf Says:

      “It [conservatism] is just one more political philosophy that has not solved problems.”

      So the answer is to turn to status-quo progressivism in the guise of Trump, who covers up his corporate leftism with meaningless but politically incorrect bombast? How is that going to solve any problems?

      Well, I suppose it makes perfect sense if you believe that progressivism works and is not the source of any of the problems that need to be solved. This is, after all, what the Democrats & Co. have been saying for decades. “Nothing is our fault! It’s all the fault of Reagan/Bush/the GOP Congress/Bush/the neocons/the GOP Congress/the Koch Brothers/Sheldon Adelstein/the Israeli Likud Party! We and our supporters – most of Wall Street, the media (excepting Fox and Talk Radio), every organized profession, the permanent bureaucracy, academia, public education, organized labor, most of corporate America on most issues – are just a small brave band of selfless truthtellers!” Well, if this theory is good enough for Paul Krugman, E.J. Dionne, Robert Reich, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, perhaps it’s good enough for many or most Republican voters.

      Of course, the Republican establishment has been complicit in or acquiescent to much of the force-feeding of progressive poison to the country, but turning to Trump seems to be a doubling down on this failed strategy, not an end to it.

    23. Mike K Says:

      “turning to Trump seems to be a doubling down on this failed strategy, not an end to it.”

      What would you suggest ? More of the same ?

    24. Will Says:

      I’d posted elsewhere here about the impact on our small city (100,000) of the riot fever of ’68. There remain to this day, vacant lots that have never been rebuilt. I don’t really know the reason why, and those who might know probably wouldn’t tell me. As for Cleveland, I can only guess that the GOPe is totally cool with the “space to destroy” diktat levied on Baltimore and Missouri. Any Republican candidate was going to meet this level of hostility following an Obama administration, so in picking Cleveland they must want convention-goers to run the gauntlet.

    25. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Mike K.

      I can’t see you working for Hillary’s Ministry of Death, but I could see you as an advisor on Trump’s “Commission on Dismantling Obamacare”. ;-)

      On a more serious note, the enemies of Trump seem to be moving to a new, more serious, phase this weekend.

      At INSTAPUNDIT today, an anti-Trumper called openly for the assassination of Trump, albeit he misspelled assassination. He probably did not like my reply. As I am sure you know,INSTAPUNDIT is one of the oldest, soberest, and most reputable websites in existence. It is now part of the PJ Media conglomerate, and I do not know if Professor Reynolds and/or PJM have banned the commenter.

      Today at RED STATE, a GOPe Loyalist blog, they called for and explained how, for the Republican Party to refuse to seat Trump delegates and insert their own nominee [not necessarily Cruz]. They claim that encouraging a Trump walkout would be a good thing.

      http://www.redstate.com/streiff/2016/04/30/old-busted-donald-trump-wins-first-ballot.-new-hotness-scorched-earth-convention/

      They will do what they will do. We will do what we will do.

      They think they can win without the Trump voters. Noting that more people have voted for Trump in the primaries than voted for Romney in the 2012 primaries, and he is on track to set an absolute record of primary votes. Of course, for many of them their victory conditions include a Hillary presidency so long as the GOPe keeps control of the party machinery [see the George Will article I linked earlier].

      I think that the outcome of such a scorched earth convention will be the total destruction of the Republican party. We will see who is right.

      “Only the Great Blue Sky Tengri Nor knows what the outcome will be.”

    26. djf Says:

      “What would you suggest? More of the same?”

      Cruz, as flawed as he may be, is not “the same.” Trump is “the same.” And the very worse kind of “the same” – a more flamboyant, richer version of John Boehner. With whom he is good friends.

      No, I don’t have a crystal ball that allows me to see into the future. I just take a look at what Trump’s been saying in this campaign, bearing in mind his past history and his demonstrated character and the political tendencies of rich men of his ilk, and draw inferences about what he would do if elected. Of course, I may be wrong, but what else can a voter do?

      I understand that you disagree with the foregoing, but I think you’re seriously mistaken. I’ll leave it at that.

    27. Mike K Says:

      “an advisor on Trump’s “Commission on Dismantling Obamacare”.

      I actually have expressed some ideas on this. All we really have to do it make Obamacare voluntary. It is a form of Medicaid that does not apply to 85% of the population. That is why the “employer mandate”has never been implemented. It would create a union revolt.

      Trump is, in my opinion, not really about policy but about the relationship of government to the people.

      I keep hoping that some sober people will suggest some sensible reforms and show him how to do it.

      This guy could give him some ideas.

      The severity of China’s economic problems—and the inability to implement long-term solutions—mean almost all geopolitical assumptions about tomorrow are wrong. Virtually everyone today sees China as a major power in the future. Yet the country’s extraordinary economic difficulties will result in a collapse or a long-term decline, and either outcome suggests China will return to the ranks of weak states.

      As an initial matter, China’s current situation is far worse than the official National Bureau of Statistics reports. The NBS maintains that the country’s gross domestic product rose 6.9 percent during the third calendar quarter of this year after increases of 7.0 percent during each of the first two quarters.

      Willem Buiter, Citigroup’s chief economist, a few months ago suggested the rate was closer to 4 percent, and growth could be as low as the 2.2 percent that people in Beijing were privately talking about mid-year. The most reliable indicator of Chinese economic activity remains the consumption of electricity, and for the first eleven months of the year electricity consumption increased by only 0.7 percent according to China’s National Energy Administration.

      He is not the only one.

      This guy, who I have been reading for several years, could help with Iran.

      Never before in recorded history has the birth rate of a big country fallen so fast and so far. Iran’s population is aging faster than that of any

      other country in the world. In 2050, 30% of its people will be over 60, the same ratio as in the United States but with a tenth of America’s per capita GDP. I see no way to avoid a social catastrophe unique in human experience. Since I first drew attention to Iran’s demographic implosion a decade ago, I have heard not one suggestion as to how Iran might avert this disaster, despite some belated efforts to raise the birth rate.

      They have to be kept at bay until demography solves the problem for us.

      Simpson and Bowles could show us some ways to control debt, if it was ever adopted.

      The final plan was broken down into six major components (savings are 2012-2020):

      1. $1,661 billion of discretionary spending cuts by putting in place discretionary spending caps into law lower than what is projected to be spent.
      2. $995 billion in additional revenue with $785 billion in new revenues from tax reform by lowering income and corporate tax rates and broadening the base by eliminating tax expenditures. An additional $210 billion in revenue is also raised in other revenue by switching to the Chained-CPI and an increase in the federal gasoline tax
      3. $341 billion in federal health care savings by reforming the Sustainable Growth Rate for Medicare, repeals the CLASS Act (which has already happened), increase Medicare cost sharing, reform health-care tort, change provider payments, increase drug rebates and establishes a long-term budget for total federal health-care spending after 2020 to GDP + 1 percent.
      4. $215 billion in other mandatory savings by moving to the Chained CPI for all inflation-indexed programs, reform the military and civil service retirement system, reduce farm subsidies, reduce student loans and various other reforms.
      5. $238 billion in Social Security reform, to be used to ensure the program is sustainably solvent in the infinite horizon by slowing benefit growth for high and medium-income workers, increase the early and normal retirement age to 68 by 2050 and 69 by 2075 by indexing it to longevity, index cost of living adjustments to the Chained-CPI, include newly hired state and local workers after 2020, increase the payroll tax cap to cover 90 percent of wages by 2050 and creates a new minimum and old-age benefit.
      Budget Process Reforms by creating discretionary spending caps and caps total federal revenue at 20 percent of GDP.
      6. An additional $673 billion is saved due to lower projected spending interest payments as a result from lower deficits.

      Naturally, it was ignored.

    28. Mike K Says:

      “I understand that you disagree with the foregoing, but I think you’re seriously mistaken. I’ll leave it at that.”

      Fair enough. I think I have made it clear that I am not a fan of Trump but he has raised issues that are otherwise ignored.

      I guess I will just have to post this opinion of a retired foreign service office.

      I agree with it.

      The conservative mandarins deride Trump as some sort of impostor, a fake. They delight in pointing out that years ago he did this, or said that at variance with conservative dogma. They will note that he took advantage of this or that government subsidy or bankruptcy law to benefit his businesses; that he donated to this or that campaign, or had dinner with some progressive political idiot. You know what I say to that? Yes. Guilty as charged, and so what? He was a businessman operating within an irrational system not of his creation. It bears repeating, he had to make rational decisions within a irrational system in order to benefit his investors, his employees, his creditors, etc. We all have had the experience of making rational choices within the confines of an irrational environment. The military in combat do this all the time. We conservative/libertarians do it when we take a lawful tax deduction on this or that expense–something which in a perfectly rational economic system would not exist. As a rational actor, you take advantage of the benefits offered up by an irrational system. We all do it. Only an idiot would not.

      He says it better than I can.

    29. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Dearieme: See, we don’t disagree about everything. But, I am sorry that I left the words: “lecherous ignoramus” out of by brief description of Trump. It should have read: “a buffoon, a boor, a fraud, and a lecherous ignoramus”.

      Mike K: “The point and the significance of the Trump phenomenon is that the causes are still ignored by those who seem incapable of understanding why they are in such trouble with ordinary people.”

      The causes of Tumpery are well known to many people. But, what ever the question is, Donald Trump is not the answer, unless it is: “How can we possibly elect a President who would be worse than Obama, more disastrous than Hillary?”

      BTW: My prediction of the price of gold was not an evasion. It was the absolute truth. I was merely repeating the ancient wisdom, that my Grandfather’s bookie, Uncle Nate, vouchedsafe to me: “Never bet on anything that can talk”.

    30. Xennady Says:

      “It is part of the divorce that is happening and will destroy the Republican party.”

      You started it.

      Wait, what? You haven’t noticed the hysterical flailing the gop establishment has been aiming at Trump ever since he began running? Tens of millions of dollars worth of attack ads, threatening letters posted in the Washington Examiner, endless nastiness aimed at Trump supporters- we started this?

      “Because if the #NeverTrump people get their way … the Trump people will do the same thing to the #NeverTrump people, including Cruz.”

      Only sort of. Trump will lose catastrophically in November. He and his movement will disappear and have no further impact in American life, because they were never about anything other than Trump. No one else could be him, and his followers being merely followers will fall away.

      This is silly. You plainly have no idea why people support Trump now, nor do you know what will happen in the future. The Trump phenomena was obviously foreshadowed during the 2012 campaign, when Mitt Romney had terrible trouble winning against a swarm of political lightweights with no national appeal. You make the facile assumption that no one else can ever assume the mantle of people who are unhappy with the present American political class, because- oh, you know the future.

      “Both sides hate and insult each other regularly and consider the insults justified.”

      I have never insulted the Trumpeters. It is the behavior of their inamorata that shames them.

      Have you read what you just wrote? In this very comment, where you described Trump supporters as mere lowly followers? That’s not insulting? If I described fans of the GOP establishment as bootlicking adjuncts of the left- is that insulting?I think so, but I’m only a Trump supporter so I probably don’t understand such weighty things.

      Mike K: “Would you mind telling me the price of gold next year this time?”

      One troy ounce of pure gold, will be worth one troy ounce of pure gold next year, and the year after for that matter. The value of a dollar is merely the whim of a bunch of government officials. What it will be one year from now, or even one day from now, is unknowable.

      I’m not as sharp or successful as Mike K.

      I want lottery numbers. To the Powerball. Because you know the future. Don’t tell them anyone else. Or, once I win, I’ll get you.

      Just like the GOP establishment will get Trump and make him fail, once he becomes president, because- they know the future too. And if Trump succeeds- they’re not in it.

    31. Ginny Says:

      I don’t like Trump – his gut reactions are statist, personal, anti-constitutional, boorish, and then they meld into incoherence. His boasts seems inflated. He has used the government to get ahead – that signals to me that he will continue the policies that hogtie small businesses and make for dependent large ones. But I may be wrong, beneath that bluster may be an analytic mind. Right now it seems to be, as con jobs like Trump U and gambling in casinos, he has an ability to play to our desire for quick (and thereby phony) solutions to what ails our budgets and our hearts.

      Kennedy may well be right – but like those who voted for Obama, that is voting for a hope, and one of them is that he brings knowledgeable people in and delegates. That is something a good businessman does and maybe he’ll be able to guide others to bring out their best. That would be good. Then his optimism will be rewarded – and those who have hesitations will be glad to be proved wrong.

      But, as one of my friends observed, I’m not in the habit of voting with my middle finger, even if it is to oppose those in power who have been giving me that finger for many long years (first in the years of Bush Derangement and then in the person of Obama and Hillary). I think Cruz is a true conservative and I really like Carly. Nonetheless their strengths are analysis, the head and most (including me) feel like we need to see the heart in action to know someone. Of course, I would prefer to vote for them and would if I could; I’m not sure I can vote for Trump.

      All that said, my daughter told me her husband, on the train from New York to New Jersey (where they live) at the time of the New York vote encountered a gang who became convinced he was for Bernie and, after yelling Trump, Trump, they started punching him. And then hit him again as they got off. (I thought at first she was describing one of those “knock-out” games, but it doesn’t sound like that was it because they expressed strong political motivations.)

      He’s pretty gutsy but I doubt he is for Bernie – he has some quite strong doubts about socialism as any scholar of eastern Europe and Russia would (well, unless they were idiots). Even if I’m wrong, I doubt he argued with them. He’s older than when he was in Austin and wore pro-Israel shirts purposely on days Israel had sent rockets into Palestine. Anyone who knows Austin can imagine how popular that was in the bars and graduate cubicles of the liberal arts department. And my daughter says he wasn’t wearing a pro-Bernie shirt.

      I’m afraid that the reactions this election may not go just one way – the right has watched speakers they chose run from campus, their opinions criticized in smug and nasty ways. They’ve seen looting and knifing and shooting taking place and the sympathy has not been with those likely to vote for Trump. The Tea Party people were described as violent and the rioters in Baltimore in sympathetic ways – by not only the media but those in power. This anger has been held for a long time.

      Some non-violent but angry people I know seem to feel that the vote itself for Trump would be payback for all that. We’ll see. I have my doubts he will govern as a conservative – what do we see in his reflexes or past that says that? Still, maybe. Certainly Hillary won’t.

    32. Mike K Says:

      I hate to see people of goodwill, as I assume most who read this blog are, (PenGun you are an exception) becoming so angry at the Trump-GOPe controversy.

      I hope you have all read Codevilla’s The Ruling Class.

      Do you disagree with his analysis?

      Neo-neocon points out that Congress repealed Obamacare, but Obama vetoed the bill.

      I have complained that, after 2010 and control of Congress, we still do not have 12 appropriations bills, debated and voted upon, that Obama would have to veto to shut down the government. Why not ?

      “they were never about anything other than Trump.”

      This is what I mean by saying that you do not understand that this is much more than one man.

      A year ago I was worried about what was going on.

      I don’t trust Trump as a Republican and worry that the party is opening a gulf between the concerns of voters and those of donors who are largely unconcerned about illegal immigration. That is not the only issue where the party is drifting away from the base voters. The Confederate flag hysteria is making some Republicans look like fools. Corporations are overreacting.

      Elaine Glidewell told KFSM someone from the store in Fort Smith called her to pick up the ring she’d ordered for her nephew, but when she arrived on Tuesday, a clerk told her she couldn’t have it. The ring had been ordered before Walmart stopped selling items bearing images of the flag, in the wake of controversy that stemmed from a racially-charged shooting in South Carolina.

      “I wanted to cry,” Glidewell told KFSM, adding that the store clerk said the ring would be “melted.”

      This is just ridiculous. That is not to say Republicans should be doing stupid things like proposing amendments to keep Confederate flags in national parks. They should just shut up and vote with the people.

      This will not end well, especially if the GOP manages to frustrate the Trump voters. They are just stupid enough.

      The bathroom wars are another example. Few seem to have noticed that Target stock has lost $2.5 billion since the company owned by leftist governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton’s family has gone all down on same sex bathrooms.

    33. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Xennady Says:
      May 1st, 2016 at 8:27 pm</blockquote.

      To add to what you said, since you brought up something Robert Schwartz said I was going to let pass:

      Have you read what you just wrote? In this very comment, where you described Trump supporters as mere lowly followers?

      He specifically used the term “Trumpeters” to describe Trump supporters. Which is one of many specific insults directed at Trump supporters. In a sentence where he specifically denies insulting us, he insults us.

      I have made a deliberate point to refer to our political opponents as “[insert candidate/cause] people” or “[insert candidate/cause] supporter”. Which is deliberately neutral. The reason is that you really don’t want to terminally and needlessly p*ss off people that you hope will vote for your candidate in the general. Oh well. It was a wasted effort, as there is not going to be any coming together for the election. The GOPe prefers Hillary in any case, so there is no reason to compromise on terminology.

      They will do what they will do. We will do what we will do.

    34. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Drat. The first blockquote was only supposed to be around Xennedy’s time hack. Sorry.

    35. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Mike K: “I hope you have all read Codevilla’s The Ruling Class. Do you disagree with his analysis?”

      I have read Codevilla, and I find him quite persuasive. I am will to bet that Trump has not read Codevilla, and would never read something that long and that tightly argued. But what ever the problem is, Trump has no idea of its causes, and cannot begin to attempt a solution. Whatever question there is, Trump is not the answer.

      Subotai; Xennady: I am sorry I called you followers. Trump has no followers, because he is leading nobody anywhere. Trump is a con man, and every good con man knows that the Mark sells himself, the Mark builds cloud castles in the sky with mere hints and hand waves from the con man.

    36. Mike Doughty Says:

      To me, the real question to ask is: Do you want Trump (and his advisors) or Hillary (and her advisors) to appoint the next several Supreme Court Justices? The next President will most likely have the opportunity to shape the ideology of the Court for the next 10 to 15 years, and perhaps longer, with younger picks. Surely no one even slightly right of center wants a “Clinton Court” for even a short time. Personally, I’d prefer any number of people over Trump, but if he is nominated, I’ll be at the polls to vote for him with bells on, dragging as many people as I can with me.

    37. Mike K Says:

      “Trump is a con man”

      It’s just amazing that we have such brilliant analysts who know so much on his humble little blog. Just amazing.

    38. Mike K Says:

      An interesting view of Trump’s foreign policy from afar.

      neither the Bush nor the Obama administrations have, in fifteen long years, formulated anything close to an effective strategy to deal with the rising tide of Islamism. President Bush simply threw the military at the problem and the military responded with adapting their tactics for fighting insurgencies. They had no guiding strategy to follow.

      The surge showed that given enough manpower, we could hold down the violence between Sunnis, Shi’a and Kurds in Iraq, but the minute that heavy hand was lifted, the fighting returned. No one ever questioned the wisdom of a) trying to keep Iraq united, composed as it is of three former Ottoman vilayets, or b) whether that Islamic in-fighting was really contrary to US interests. Rather it was taken for granted by these “experts” that Iraq must remain united whatever the costs to America. The interests of the Iraqi people were thereby raised above the interests of the American people.

      Donald Trump says no more. His guiding principle will be American interests first.

      And

      Professor Robert Rabil, Director of Middle East studies at the Department of Political Sciences at Florida Atlantic University told us that “the Trump foreign policy platform, as elaborated in his speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington has in fact more realism to it than the neo cons policy proposals of the past fifteen years or the foreign policy decisions made by the Obama Administration over the past seven years.” Rabil, the author of several books on Islamism and Middle East conflicts added that “Donald Trump is right to develop a new team of experts among Republicans since past years have demonstrated that the old school didn’t provide strategic answers. Neither when the old school served with the Bush Administration nor when they served as experts for the opposition and majority in Congress, did they produce solutions to the rise of Jihadism, Iran’s expansion or the homegrown terror. Mr. Trump is right to seek new expertise. Obviously there is room for all opinions in the debate, but Washington is in need for fresh ideas.”

      Interesting times.

    39. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      No one ever questioned the wisdom of a) trying to keep Iraq united…

      Actually, lots of people questioned it. Repeatedly. And many suggestions were made for how it could partitioned into more homogeneous pieces. And I certainly agree that Washington is in need of new ideas.

    40. Mike K Says:

      No one ever questioned the wisdom of a) trying to keep Iraq united…

      Actually, lots of people questioned it

      Sadly, the only one who I heard say that was Biden and everyone knows he is a fool.

      The foreign policy consortium thought it had to be kept together for economic reasons and nobody seems to have appreciated the tribal situation propoerly.

    41. Jonathan Says:

      I would argue that the Bush 2 admin had a reasonable Middle East strategy based on regime change and the replacement of dictatorships with representative govts, and consistent with our overall post-WW2 strategy. However, the Bush people failed to go far enough by not undermining the Syrian and Iranian regimes when it would have been relatively easy to do so, and by failing to make their case to the public and therefore allowing their political enemies in both parties and the media to frame and mischaracterize the issues to such an extent that most Americans now believe Bush’s strategy to have been inherently flawed if not evil.

      Obama by contrast has followed a much different strategy based on reversing Bush’s post-2001 gains specifically and reversing our overall post-WW2 strategy generally. Obama did this by withdrawing our troops and support from Iraq, by sabotaging Israel’s defenses, especially vs. Iran, and by attempting by appeasement to create a US alliance with the anti-American Islamist regimes in Turkey and Iran.

      So, no, Bush didn’t lack a strategy, his strategy wasn’t necessarily a bad one and was consistent with overall post-WW2 US strategy, nor did he simply throw the military at the problem. Nor are Bush’s and Obama’s strategies similar. Obama’s strategy is a radical and unsuccessful departure from the past 70 years of US strategy.

    42. Mike K Says:

      the Bush 2 admin had a reasonable Middle East strategy based on regime change and the replacement of dictatorships with representative govts

      I have believed that this was a reasonable effort to see if Arabs could govern themselves without tyrants.

      Bush’s worst error was turning this over to Paul Bremer.

      There were some good Army analysts who tumbled to the truth early, I advocated Thomas X Hammes’ book, “The Sling and the Stone.”

      I have summarized the book and skipped other major sections, such as his analysis of the Israeli-Palestinan conflict. He believes that the Palestinians were in reach of their goals after the first Intifada, only to be undone by Arafat and “the Tunisians,” who knew nothing but indiscriminant terrorism. One of his precepts is that an insurgency of the 4GW type cannot be run from outside the country. This bodes well for Iraq although, perhaps, not so well for Afghanistan. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

      Of course, we are seeing fourth generation war now being directed against Europe.

    43. Bill Brandt Says:

      I am fascinated by Trump. Also ambivalent. But Mike K, you hit the nail on the head describing a schism between the “donor elite” who don’t care about illegal immigration and the Republican base.

      For someone like Trump who had no political experience and basically running a campaign out of his 757 with a very small group of people – to beat – no utterly trounce – candidates like Jeb Bush with $100 million at his disposal – while it is amazing from Trump’s perspective it also shows how disgusted people are with the Republican leadership.

      Trump saw a vacuum and exploited it.

      I’m ambivalent on Trump because to me nothing in his past history suggests that he believes anything that he is saying, but people are so angry and hungry to hear the things Trump is saying they are interested in nothing else. To me hearing Donald Trump speak on “un-PC” things is like being a parched desert and getting a rain shower.

      It certainly caught Ted Cruz by surprise who certainly didn’t see the Trump Phenomenon coming. This was to the the side of the street for Ted to work on.

      On the rioters I am drawn to a political cartoon I remember from 1968 – weird the things I remember – but Nixon is counting votes as rioters are throwing things at him. I see a similarity.

      As for me if I had a favorite it would have been Scott Walker.

    44. Mike K Says:

      “It certainly caught Ted Cruz by surprise who certainly didn’t see the Trump Phenomenon coming.”

      That isn’t all that’s coming. We are heading into economic shoal water and it is shoaling fast.

      At least 145 private companies have won valuations exceeding $1 billion. As venture investments flowed freely in recent years, executives at many of those companies spent wildly, to outgrow rivals, bolster recruiting or for other reasons. Now, they are left with a difficult choice: cut costs drastically to become self-sustaining, or seek additional capital on ever-more-onerous terms.

      Venture capitalist Bill Gurley of Benchmark described this phenomenon at length in a recent blog post, in which he alleged that “dirty term sheets” allow some companies to continue raising money at higher valuations by promising bigger payoffs to new investors at the expense of older investors. That ultimately could render worthless shares held by employees and even some founders.

      As some of these companies with high burn rates run into trouble, Mr. Rabois predicts a “catastrophic shift downward,” not just for one-time highfliers but across startup investing. That is because venture-capital firms are more interdependent than many people realize.

      I’m looking for a housing crash in California. The real estate market here looks very “toppy.” The LA Times sees trees growing to the sky and no clouds on the horizon, which is why I worry.

      When the dot-com bubble burst in early 2000, the fallout for publicly traded stocks was quick and severe. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 37% in the 10 weeks following its peak on March 10, 2000.

      For startups, the immediate impact was less dramatic. In the second quarter of 2000, venture capitalists invested $25 billion in startups, down only 5% from the first-quarter peak.

      “There was a lot of suspended disbelief between March and June,” says Keith Rabois, then a vice president at PayPal Inc. and now a partner at Khosla Ventures.

      Mr. Rabois and others think we’re now in a similar period of suspension of disbelief. Startup investment has cooled. Valuations are falling. But Mr. Rabois says many investors and entrepreneurs haven’t yet grasped the new reality. “If that suspended disbelief ends, all hell breaks loose,” he says.

      Obama, of course, says “it could have been worse” and it will be soon.

      Fasten your seat belt.

    45. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Salt Of The Earth

      Raise your glass to the hard working people
      Let’s drink to the uncounted heads
      Let’s think of the wavering millions
      Who need leaders but get gamblers instead

      Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
      His empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
      And a parade of the gray suited grafters
      A choice of cancer or polio

    46. TangoMan Says:

      But, as one of my friends observed, I’m not in the habit of voting with my middle finger, even if it is to oppose those in power who have been giving me that finger for many long years (first in the years of Bush Derangement and then in the person of Obama and Hillary).

      Then there are people like me who see society suffering from undiagnosed cancer and advocate that action must be taken to deal with the cancer rather than continuing on with the habit of ignoring the symptoms.

      The regular order of society is not working. You express a fear of Trump based on values from the existing order. What America actually needs, I believe, can’t be done withing the existing order. That existing order has been captured by enemies of the people. It didn’t used to be this way and our troubles mostly stem from a corruption of the old order into the new order operating behind the scenes and using the old order as cover.

      Keep in mind that Constitutions and the governments which they birth are the creation of a PEOPLE. They work because they are a reflection of the people. Once you change the people, then you change the nation, and the system of government no longer reflects the people.

      We have far more serious problems than Trump not being a “solution” acceptable within the existing order.

    47. TangoMan Says:

      I would argue that the Bush 2 admin had a reasonable Middle East strategy based on regime change and the replacement of dictatorships with representative govts, and consistent with our overall post-WW2 strategy.

      I suppose that I should classify myself as an unreasonable fellow because I never saw how America could transform a cousin-marriage, tribal culture into a representative democracy. Government flows from the culture and the people, there has to be connective tissue, government must arise organically in response to cultural signals. What the Bush “brain trust” did was to transplant one man’s head onto a woman’s body and the transplant was both unnatural and had tissue rejection issues.

      Frankly, I don’t believe that the “brain trust” gave any thought to how live in a cousin-marriage focused society anchored in a hierarchy of extended families, clans and tribes is lived in the minutia of life. They probably thought, because this is how they actually implemented reform, that civil service hiring would be some impartial undertaking, that the best candidate would win a job and would, in turn, hire other best candidates for subordinate positions and never imagined that allegiance to family and clan would subvert governmental process. Only your family and clan will protect you, no government will, so any Iraqi who placed allegiance to society over allegiance to clan would be cut-off from what it means to be “Iraqi.”

    48. Grurray Says:

      Iraq’s neighbors Turkey and Jordan both have freely elected parliaments that govern the country to varying degrees, albeit with strong central leadership. The biggest problem as Jonathan said was we couldn’t secure the borders from the other meddling neighbors Syria, Iran, and KSA.

    49. Eric Says:

      Mike K,

      State Department, 2010-2011:

      After a long and difficult conflict, we now have the opportunity to see Iraq emerge as a strategic partner in a tumultuous region. A sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq that can act as a force for moderation is profoundly in the national security interests of the United States and will ensure that Iraq can realize its full potential as a democratic society. Our civilian-led presence is helping us strengthen the strong strategic partnership that has developed up to this point.

      The American interest was best served by the US-Iraq “strategic partnership” with the developing united post-Saddam Iraq that President Bush conveyed to President Obama but Obama sabotaged by deviating from Bush.

      Mike K (regarding partitioning Iraq):
      “Sadly, the only one who I heard say that was Biden and everyone knows he is a fool.”

      He was worse than foolish. Senator Biden’s ploy was cynically political.

      On its face, it was a non-starter because it contradicted US law and policy since 1990, multiply reaffirmed over 3 administrations, and the UNSCR 660-series resolutions that the US law and policy had enforced since 1990. It also contradicted the Iraqi constitution and the will of the Iraqi people, and the proposed ‘solution’ didn’t match the problem on the ground.

      Beyond the law and policy that forbade it, my go-to reference on the partition issue has been Iraq analyst Reidar Vassir’s 2010 post, Operation Iraqi Partition, and more enlightening, the post’s comment thread with Iraqis and Iraq scholars.

      Vassir’s blog category on the partition issue, sectarian master narrative, is informative. Excerpt from a 2013 post:

      Many US analysts prefer to see Iraq as an eternal battleground of Shiites and Sunnis, supposedly going back many centuries in time.

      And today, of course, some will no doubt claim that the current situation in Iraq and the region proves Hagel was right in 2007. Aren’t Shiites fighting Sunnis more than ever, aren’t Sunnis demanding their own federal region in Iraq, and isn’t there even a clear-cut regional dimension since Turkey (the successor to the Ottoman Empire) is sponsoring Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis, and Iran (the successor to the Safavids) is doing the same with regard to Iraqi Shiites and Syrian Alawites?

      The point is, though, that this situation today does not reflect a unilinear, steady deterioration of affairs in Iraq from the time Hagel made his statement in 2007 until today. Following that period, thanks both to the surge and the growing rejection by many Iraqi politicians of parts of the hastily crafted 2005 constitution, a more moderate political climate dominated in 2008 and during the 2009 local elections. Crucially, after a sectarian climate had prevailed during the civil-war like conditions of 2006 and 2007, the atmosphere of Iraqi politics improved sufficiently during 2008 to encourage Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to run on a separate electoral ticket in the local elections in January 2009, quite despite the expressed desire for Iran to see greater Shiite sectarian unity.

      Prior to the parliamentary elections of 2010, Maliki tried the same thing. But when the new Obama administration initiated ouvertures to Iran in spring 2009, Iran reciprocated by asserting itself even more strongly in Iraqi politics, propelling de-Baathification to the top of the agenda and gradually focing Maliki back to sectarian unity. Symptomatically, in the upcoming Iraq local elections on 20 April 2013, unlike in 2009, Maliki will run a big Shiite sectarian coalition in most provinces and all-Shiite coalitions in areas with Shiite minorities, entirely in accordance with Iranian preferences for unified Shiite coalitions.

      The Obama administration, with numerous people sharing Hagel’s epistemology, probably even didn’t see that sectarian turn as a true anomaly. This of course is not to suggest that US influence in Iraq before 2009 was singularly virtuous or that the micro-managing of the Bush administration rested upon superior epistemological bases. But it did mean a multipolar environment for the Iraqi Shiites which has virtually disappeared during the Obama administration. Today, Iran seems to be the only game in town – and Obama seems to think that is a natural state of affairs.

      Perhaps Obama also sees some sort of potential in an Iran-dominated Iraq? It is very hard to avoid wondering whether the current acquiescence in face of rising sectarianism in Iraq actually constitutes something of a dangling carrot in front of Iran, not unlike the Arab-press conspiracy theory of concessions to Iran in Iraq in exchange for a deal on the Iranian nuclear file.

      Vassir isn’t alone in observing that Maliki was different with Bush, and Maliki’s course change reacted to Obama’s course change with Iraq. Among our necessary functions with Iraq, carried forward from prior 20th-21st century experience with peace operations, American leadership warded off undue regional, especially Iranian influence for the developing nascent Iraqi state. As Vassir notes, however, President Obama’s course change that opened still-vulnerable Iraq to Iranian influence is suspiciously consistent with Obama’s attempted rapprochement with Iran.

    50. Eric Says:

      ADD: Vassir directly addresses (criticizes) Biden’s partition ideas in a 2014 post, The Biden Plan for Iraq Re-Enters US Policy-Making Debate. (Also see the other posts in his blog category, Iraq and soft partition. Excerpt:

      Among the many problems with the Biden plan back then was that it usurped the provisions for federalism outlined in the Iraqi constitution adopted with US support in October 2005. The whole point of the federalism clauses in the Iraqi constitution is that development towards federal entities will be an uneven process, with different timelines for different parts of the country according to their level of economic and institutional development. It is specifically envisaged that individual provinces may prefer to continue to be ruled from Baghdad within a unitary state framework and with a degree if administrative decentralization. Biden’s plans would have violated all of this, meaning it would in practice be tantamount to rewriting the Iraqi constitution if implemented.

      The argument that Biden was right after all, penned by James Kitfield, doesn’t occupy itself with such trivialities as the Iraqi constitution. Instead it asks whether not the best way to stop the current violence in Iraq is “separation”, by which the writer is clearly thinking of a three-way federalization involving Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs.

      How such an approach would achieve internal peace in the three regions is left largely unanswered. Does Kitfield really mean that if the Iraqi army hadn’t brought troublesome Shiite soldiers into Anbar, the Sunnis would have got along much better with foreign fighters and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organization? If so, is that a positive scenario? Wouldn’t a Sunni canton that had largely cut ties to Baghdad be immeasurably more susceptible to pan-Sunni propaganda emanating from Syria? Wouldn’t Anbar security forces – on the regional guard model from Kurdistan, controlled exclusively by Sunni commanders loyal to figures in a regional authority that would have earned their positions on basis of Sunni sectarian propaganda during the process of federalization – be an easier target for ISIL cooption than the current Iraqi army, with its mix of Sunni and Shiite commanders? Also, let’s not forget that Biden’s original proposal came as an alternative to Bush’s “surge” and would have meant a US withdrawal from Iraq around 2008, at a time when Al-Qaeda was on the rise.

      It seems far more realistic to consider a Sunni canton in Iraq as a potential ISIL asset and a factor that might cement the ascendancy of ISIL in the Syrian opposition. It certainly seems a little reductionist to dismiss Sunnis willing to cooperate with Maliki as an “older generation”, as a former CIA officer commenting in the article seems to do. What about Anbar provincial council members that continue to work with Baghdad, or new political coalitions in the upcoming April parliament elections that feature substantial Sunni representation and are still signaling an interest in cooperating with Maliki?

      Still today, eight years after the Biden plan for Iraq was launched, it remains difficult to comprehend what its proponents envisage in terms of specific changes in Iraq. The notion of “a natural Sunnistan” occurs in Kitfield’s article, although history has never seen such a thing. We’re just left with the primitive assumption that Sunnis will go along better simply because they are of the same sect.

      If we look at developments in Iraq over the past few years historically, it is clear that before the sectarian pull of the Syria crisis became too overwhelming, there were always plenty of Sunnis prepared to deal with Maliki and put sectarian considerations in the background. Sunnis with such an orientation still exist, but their chances of political prominence decreases each time an article with a sectarian paradigm for understanding Iraqi politics of Kitfield’s calibre is published.

    51. Eric Says:

      Jonathan:
      “Obama by contrast has followed a much different strategy based on reversing Bush’s post-2001 gains specifically and reversing our overall post-WW2 strategy generally.”

      Various partisans, including the Trump campaign, are pushing a narrative that conflates their foreign affairs; however, President Obama clearly deviated From President Bush.

      To your point, see the sources and commentary at An irresponsible exit from Iraq.

      I’ll highlight these four:
      Is Syria Obama’s Fault? by Syrian pro-democracy activist Ammar Abdulhamid who explains that President Obama’s deviation from American leadership of the free world in general and President Bush in particular has gravely (fatally) harmed reformers in the Middle East who relied on American leadership;
      Security Council Takes Action to End Iraq Sanctions, Terminate Oil-For-Food Programme as Members Recognize ‘Major Changes’ Since 1990 (15 December 2010) by VP Joe Biden on behalf of the UN Security Council;
      Withdrawal Symptoms: The Bungling of the Iraq Exit by OIF senior advisor Rick Brennan;
      How Obama Abandoned Democracy in Iraq by OIF official and senior advisor Emma Sky.

    52. Xennady Says:

      He specifically used the term “Trumpeters” to describe Trump supporters. Which is one of many specific insults directed at Trump supporters. In a sentence where he specifically denies insulting us, he insults us.

      I have made a deliberate point to refer to our political opponents as “[insert candidate/cause] people” or “[insert candidate/cause] supporter”. Which is deliberately neutral. The reason is that you really don’t want to terminally and needlessly p*ss off people that you hope will vote for your candidate in the general. Oh well. It was a wasted effort, as there is not going to be any coming together for the election. The GOPe prefers Hillary in any case, so there is no reason to compromise on terminology.

      They will do what they will do. We will do what we will do.

      Well said, alas.

      I certainly don’t get the sense that supporters of the GOPe see any need or even have any desire to retrain their nastiness. Worse, they often don’t even grasp how offensive they are.

      Considering that politics is game that requires convincing people to vote for you, this seems a serious error. But again, I’m a mere Trump supporter, so I’m sure I can’t grasp complicated ideas such as that people won’t vote for people who despise them. I’m sure the GOPe tactic of insulting Trump fans is much better than actually addressing our grievances and such.

      Shrug. As you say, they’ll do what they do, and we’ll do what we do.

    53. TangoMan Says:

      Among the many problems with the Biden plan back then was that it usurped the provisions for federalism outlined in the Iraqi constitution adopted with US support in October 2005

      Allow me to unpack the unstated premises. The problem with Biden’s plan is that it violates the plan laid down by Biden’s opponents.

      Again, the process here is backwards. There was an existing state and it’s leader was deposed by Americans. The existing state was a creation of Europeans through the Treaty of Sèvres. There was no coherence to Iraqi identity.

      A people form a nation and then a nation gives birth to a state. Here we have a state without a foundation of a nation so whatever transpires during a constitutional conference has little reflection on the interests of a nation and instead the focus shifts to gamesmanship on how best to exploit others for the benefit of your own tribe.

      Moreover, geopolitical interests of neighboring countries took precedence over the interests of different groups who inhabit the territory of Iraq such that break-up, which would serve the interests of different ethnic groups would pose problems for neighbors, and so division was not on the table. Instead of people, a nation, creating government to better deal with collective issues, government was imposed on various peoples in order to placate the existing international order.

      On a personal level what we saw with Iraq was an arranged marriage between two people who hate each other but who must be married and live with each other in order to satisfy their families or neighbors. Such a marriage doesn’t arise organically, it is imposed on the couple in order to further the interests of people not in the marriage.

    54. Sammy Finkelman Says:

      Subotai Bahadur Said on April 30th, 2016 at 8:33 pm:

      “What happened to the country in January 2009?”

      Obama was inaugurated and Donald Trump began thinking of running for preident as a Republican in 2012.

      He passed up that opportunity, and also running for Governor of New York State because he could persuade Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to run for Lieutenant governor rather than Governor even with the promise that he’s be Governor anyway in a shot time if the ticket won because he (Donald Trump) would resign about six months into his term to pursue the presidency.

      But he did run for president in the Election of 2016.

      His first foray into presidential politics was an attempt to get George Bush the Elder to name him as Vice President in 1988. His most serious efort in politics till now was running for the presidential nomination of the Reform Party (Perot’s old party) in late 1999 and early 2000, but he abandoned it, in part ecause, he said, David Duke and some others were too important now in that party.

    55. Eric Says:

      Tangoman,

      See the answers to “Was Operation Iraqi Freedom about WMD or democracy?” & “Was the invasion of Iraq perceived to be a nation-building effort?”.

      The apt analogy for the peace operations of the Iraq intervention is cancer (Saddam) treatment that includes protecting the patient from other (regional, especially Iran) illnesses.

      Set aside the odd notion that Biden’s plan better represented the Iraqi people than the political process being developed with the Iraqi people. Your basic concept of the partition issue seems to be that the Saddam regime’s “all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror” (UN Commission on Human Rights) was intrinsic from a riven culture.

      Yet that wasn’t true of Iraqi society entering the Iran-Iraq War and it wasn’t true of post-Surge, pre-Obama&Iran Iraq. Recall when, in the immediate wake of the Iranian revolution, secular Baathist Iraq was assessed as relatively compatible with American interests by the Carter and Reagan administrations.

      Subsequently, the Saddam regime radically altered that Iraq in the same course of events that led to the Gulf War and compelled a strict set of rehabilitative conditions, including the humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688, for the ceasefire that Saddam breached with the same ethic that rived Iraqi society. See The Islamic State Was Coming Without the Invasion of Iraq (or How Saddam Hussein Gave Us ISIS) by Kyle Orton.

      The Bush administration, like its predecessors, recalled Iraq before the Saddam regime. Among “the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security” (UNSCR 1441), the longer Saddam was allowed to breach the Gulf War ceasefire, the further removed was Iraqi society from that Iraq. As is, we allowed the cancer to metastasize during the ceasefire enforcement far longer than we should have. Much of the challenge we faced during the post-war peace operations derived from the underestimated residue of the Saddam regime, such as Saddam’s alliance with jihadists.

      The concept of the Gulf War ceasefire was the Saddam regime would cure its cancer with the mandates that were purpose-designed to rehabilitate Iraq. Instead, Saddam was evidentially noncompliant across the board of the Gulf War ceasefire in his “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441), including and especially the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687, terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, and humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688.

      Treating cancer involves more than excising obvious tumors and prematurely disengaging cancer treatment is usually harmful, even fatal.

    56. TangoMan Says:

      The apt analogy for the peace operations of the Iraq intervention is cancer (Saddam) treatment that includes protecting the patient from other (regional, especially Iran) illnesses.

      So I can kidnap you and subject you to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy because I see that you have cancer and you’re not treating it in a manner which I approve of?

      Recall when, in the immediate wake of the Iranian revolution, secular Baathist Iraq was assessed as relatively compatible with American interests by the Carter and Reagan administrations.

      Carter and Reagan defined American interests quite differently from the Neocons. The agent producing a secular Iraq was Saddam and the Baathists. Strongman politics kept a lid on fissures and there were clearly tribal winners in that society, those of the tribe associated with Saddam. Also, the Carter and Reagan assessment were made in comparison to Iran, essentially boiling down to ancient wisdom, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. American interests would not be served by being on the outs with both Iran and Iraq.

      As is, we allowed the cancer to metastasize during the ceasefire enforcement far longer than we should have.

      It was not our cancer to treat. The days of realpolitik, and its practitioners, understood this. Far better to have the CIA launch a coup, as they did in Iran, and hope it works than to devote American blood and treasure to fixing the cancer that Iraqis made for themselves. Reagan and Carter could live with Saddam, Reagan could live with him after Saddam invaded Iran. We didn’t go to war in order to end the Iran-Iraq War because we understood that it wasn’t our cancer to fix.

    57. Mike K Says:

      We might have avoided trouble if Schwartzkopf had not negotiated the ceasefire in 1991 with no State Department advice. He was tricked by Iraqi rug merchants into allowing them to use their helicopters and they then, not only massacred Shia, but grew confident that we were naive and could be fooled again. The Oil For Food program was a scam to allow Saddam to restore his regime by buying off the UN.

      The sanctions regime was collapsing by 2003 and 9/11/01 changed the calculus.

    58. Trent Telenko Says:

      As far as Trump and foreign policy are concerned, the emerging American energy independence via the Oil & Gas Fracking revolution gives Trump opportunities to be a “Normal” national leader in the Pre-WW2 historical American trade barrier, plus political isolationist and American unilateral military action only in Latin America senses.

      Frankly, the Muslim immigration melt down/emerging insurgency in the E.U. will be so ugly no one in America will want to be involved, other than the Neo-cons.

    59. Trent Telenko Says:

      The foreign policy elites — Neo-cons especially — are blowing razzes’ at Trumps “America First” speech. IMO, the Neo-Cons are panicking cause Trump more or less said bluntly ‘none of you have a job in my administration.’

      This is right and proper for an American foreign policy fact that got us into a pair of tar baby wars.

      I see Trump’s speech far differently than the Neo-cons and media types for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that Trump recognizes 3D printing as a key element of American military and foreign policy. That makes him the only American Presidential candidate who sees the huge changes in our collective near future.

      See the text of Trump’s Speech at this link —

      http://www.peoplespunditdaily.com/policy/2016/04/27/donald-trumps-america-first-foreign-policy-speech-full-transcript/

      And this passage —

      We will spend what we need to rebuild our military. It is the cheapest investment we can make. We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind. Our military dominance must be unquestioned.

      But we will look for savings and spend our money wisely. In this time of mounting debt, not one dollar can be wasted.

      We are also going to have to change our trade, immigration and economic policies to make our economy strong again – and to put Americans first again. This will ensure that our own workers, right here in America, get the jobs and higher pay that will grow our tax revenue and increase our economic might as a nation.

      We need to think smarter about areas where our technological superiority gives us an edge. This includes 3-D printing, artificial intelligence and cyberwarfare.

    60. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

      3-D printing is another vaporware product that fascinates the lay person. You could always make molds or patterns quickly even if by hand. CNC machines could then turn this into a wide variety of products using all types of materials. 3-D printing can do quick one-offs in a small range of materials. No big change in manufacturing on any scale. To be sucked into the Trump con will be something to be forgotten quickly in the future and never admitted in public again. Imagine the First 100 days of a Trump presidency. He avoids real work and anything requiring real skill or using really talented people around him. Hmm bring factories back from Mexico? Would he change our tort laws to lower costs in USA? No but could he finess a withdrawal of USA from NAFTA (includes Canada Donald!) Would he really deal roughly with all the US manufacturers doing business there and the consequent layoffs in USA? The inevitable counterthreats of high tarrifs on US oilfield supplies, aircraft and services? Nah, he’s really not a good negotiator, just a guy who goes for broke to save his skin.

      What would he do to Putin when he buzzes our ships or threatens the Baltics? Tough if you want to bill the Lithuanians for services rendered.

    61. djf Says:

      Further to Dirty Jobs Guy’s point, I’ve read that Trump, when he was actively in the development business (and not just licensing his name, which is all he’s done for 20 or so), was a very poor negotiator (other than against the banks that foolishly lent him money without doing sufficient due diligence). Apparently, he had a tendency to overpay for assets.

      I guess the question is, if he becomes president, will his adversaries – Putin, Iran, China, Schumer – be more like the stupid banks or more like the savvy asset-sellers? Not much of a question.

    62. Mike K Says:

      will his adversaries – Putin, Iran, China, Schumer – be more like the stupid banks or more like the savvy asset-sellers? Not much of a question.

      It will be interesting to see if the Trump haters are correct. I think there are lots of places where small changes at the margin can make big amounts of change in effect.

      Regulations and administrative state rules are two.

      China and Putin both have serious problems where fracking can do a lot for us. All it takes is small changes in personnel and emphasis.

      I think we have gotten so used to lunatic leftism that a little common sense will seem like a landslide.

    63. Jonathan Says:

      I agree with the criticisms of Trump but will happily vote for him if he is the Republican nominee, because unlike Hillary he isn’t a crook and doesn’t seem to dislike his own country. I also think there’s a lot of truth in Mike’s comment about common sense.

    64. Trent Telenko Says:

      DirtyJobsGuy

      Regards this —

      3-D printing is another vaporware product that fascinates the lay person. You could always make molds or patterns quickly even if by hand. CNC machines could then turn this into a wide variety of products using all types of materials. 3-D printing can do quick one-offs in a small range of materials. No big change in manufacturing on any scale.

      Big money says different —

      http://www.mtadditive.com/index.cfm/trends-in-additive/america-makes-and-ansi-launch-additive-manufacturing-standardization-collaborative/

      So does the DoD —

      http://www.rapidreadytech.com/2014/01/picatinny-arsenal-develops-additive-manufacturing-for-us-armed-forces/

      Of the two, an industry ANSI standards body says 3D-Printing or “additive manufacture” is coming of age.

    65. Mike K Says:

      My information is that lots of one off parts are made using 3D printing.

      Maybe it’s all vaporware but it doesn’t look like it.

      Looks real to me.

      Maybe we can build more B 52s with 3D printing if the jigs are gone.

    66. Trent Telenko Says:

      In the medical device field 3D printing is taking over. Every medical device — like a crown — is one off.

      With digitized x-ray models, 3D printing has a huge speed advantage over other methods.

      See:

      http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21697802-3d-printing-coming-age-manufacturing-technique-printed-smile

    67. Trent Telenko Says:

      Note: Trump was declared the winner in Indiana the moment the polls closed by all the cable and broadcast networks.

    68. Trent Telenko Says:

      Trump is winning all 57 Indiana delegates and Cruz just suspended his Presidential campaign.

      The Trump Preference Cascade in the GOP is over.

    69. David Foster Says:

      3D printing is not vaporware, it has many applications, but like most new technologies it is being over-hyped.

      For example, there is often more to making a part than fabricating it to the right shape. Parts for many applications need to be heat-treated or forged for strength.

      No one is going to make the outer shell of a dishwasher by 3D printing; surely stamping remains more economical for a long long time. Nor does it seem to me likely that the motor of said dishwasher (coils of wire wrapped around appropriate magnetic materials) is going to be 3D printed.

      Many of the blue-sky claims being made about 3D printing can be seen almost verbatim in some of the enthusiasm about numerically-controlled machine tools in the 1960s and 1970s.

    70. Mike K Says:

      “The Trump Preference Cascade in the GOP is over.”

      But the general election cascade is only beginning. Bernie beat Hillary in Indiana.

      Fasten seat belts.

    71. Will Says:

      Might be time for Trump to get Humberto Fontova and a selection of Eastern European and Soviet expats on board as campaign consultants. Help with the Ben & Jerry’s killer clown show they’ll soon be dealing with.

    72. Eric Says:

      Mike K:
      “The sanctions regime was collapsing by 2003 and 9/11/01 changed the calculus.”

      Correct, except the Iraq Survey Group reports that the sanctions-based ‘containment’ regime had collapsed with “procurement programs supporting Iraq’s WMD programs” by 2001. In fact, it was breaking by 1998-1999 when President Clinton switched from ceasefire enforcement to ‘containment’ with Operation Desert Fox.

      See the answer to “Why did Bush leave the ‘containment’ (status quo)?”.

      Tangoman:
      “It was not our cancer to treat. The days of realpolitik, and its practitioners, understood this. … Reagan and Carter could live with Saddam, Reagan could live with him after Saddam invaded Iran. We didn’t go to war in order to end the Iran-Iraq War because we understood that it wasn’t our cancer to fix.”

      Incorrect. Starting in 1990-1991, the law, policy, and precedent that enforced Iraq’s compliance with the Gulf War, Gulf War ceasefire resolutions established that the Saddam problem was our cancer to treat.

      The Saddam problem became our cancer to treat on August 2, 1990 with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the international response of UNSCR 660 and President HW Bush’s declaration of a national emergency with Iraq. The subsequent US-led enforcement regime with Iraq was built on that platform, including the ceasefire rehabilitation plan for Iraq that was offered to Saddam as the alternative for the traditional war conclusion of capturing the flag in Baghdad.

      Saddam accepted the ceasefire alternative in order to suspend the Gulf War in 1991, but thereafter rejected the alternative to regime change by breaching the ceasefire through his “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) in 2002-2003, which restored Iraq’s status to the Gulf War.

      You misperceive “realpolitik, and its practitioners” under Carter and Reagan as dogmatically averse to intervention on behalf of American interests, specifically with Iraq.

      In fact, the HW Bush decision to intervene with Iraq in 1990-1991 was based on the “realpolitik” Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine that was formed in response to the dynamic events in the Middle East, specifically related to Iraq, that led to the Gulf War. Within the context of the Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine that informed the US-led decision to intervene with Iraq in 1990-1991, President HW Bush understood when Desert Storm was suspended that American interests continued to be threatened by a noncompliant Saddam regime, which thus informed the terms of the Gulf War ceasefire that were purpose-designed to resolve the continuing Saddam threat.

      Operation Iraqi Freedom, which responded to Iraq’s evidential material breach of the ceasefire in Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441), was the coda of the same policy course responding to Saddam’s actions that evolved from Carter to Reagan to HW Bush to Clinton to Bush.

      Tangoman:
      “Far better to have the CIA launch a coup, as they did in Iran, and hope it works…”

      I covered this point with you before. The HW Bush and Clinton administrations exhausted the alternatives to regime change, including the CIA coup option, which Saddam snuffed out in 1996. The ad hoc post-ODF ‘containment’ was because the alternatives had been exhausted.

      See Hussein Torpedoed CIA Plot Against Him, Officials Say (LA Times, 08SEP96) and Iraq’s Opposition Movements (CRS, 27JUN00).

      Tangoman:
      “…than to devote American blood and treasure to fixing the cancer that Iraqis made for themselves.”

      If the Saddam problem that induced the Gulf War was wholly contained and out of the way – say, a desolate corner in Africa – I would be more inclined to agree with your cost/benefit assessment. But recall that we intervened with Iraq in the 1st place in 1990-1991 because the effect of Saddam’s ambition and poor judgement, radical alteration of Iraqi society, and Iraq’s geopolitical position in general, was (and is) regional and profound.

      And, as Mike K alluded to, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Saddam’s prolific global terrorism (in violation of UNSCR 687), which included Islamic terrorism overlapping al Qaeda, combined with his WMD threat (in violation of UNSCR 687) – a combined threat that President Clinton had specifically identified – tipped the scales towards ending the evidently broken ‘containment’ and concluding the ceasefire enforcement.

      Tangoman:
      “The agent producing a secular Iraq was Saddam and the Baathists. Strongman politics kept a lid on fissures and there were clearly tribal winners in that society, those of the tribe associated with Saddam.”

      There’s the nub, the fundamental false premise of your conception. Saddam was a dominant force, but not a stabilizing force. He was not the cure; he was the cancer. The notion that Saddam “kept a lid on fissures” is propaganda from Michael Moore types and Saddam allies like Russia. In fact, Saddam was the agent that switched Iraq from its secular path to a radicalized sectarian path that primed social fissures and exploited them to control Iraqi society for the sake of his corrupted hereditary regime.

      You’re correct that Baathist Iraq was still secular at the point that Carter and Reagan officials reassessed Iraq in the wake of the Iranian revolution in the beginning-early 1980s. But as Visser and Orton and other Iraq scholars explain, the Saddam regime’s fundamental course change for Iraqi society was evident by the mid-1980s with Saddam’s embrace of jihadists, which had been taboo for the formerly secular Iraqi government.

      This point adds to your earlier point about alternatives for solving the Saddam problem in that the situation with Iraq was dynamic. Cancerous. The longer the US-led ceasefire enforcement kicked the can on the mandated Iraqi compliance, the more that pre-Saddam Iraqi society was lost to the Saddam regime’s “all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror”.

      At the same time, in the course of the HW Bush and Clinton administrations exhausting the alternatives to resumption of the Gulf War, each failed attempt with opposition groups and coups incurred the cost of the Saddam regime further eliminating viable alternatives. In effect, with our attempted alternatives to resuming the Gulf War for over a decade-plus until OIF, we helped Saddam identify and eliminate viable alternatives to his regime.

      Realpolitik is based on stabilization through balance of power. But the Saddam that destabilized the region with the Gulf War was not rehabilitated. He was just as ambitious, his judgement was just as poor, he was rearming, he was a terrorist, and rather than keeping a lid on social fissures, Iraqi society and governance were degrading. Worse, as Orton explains, it’s not clear that Saddam was in control any longer of the jihadism he had given rein in Iraq.

      President Bush tried his best to compel Saddam to reverse course and comply with the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” of his own volition. When Saddam refused to comply as mandated, Operation Iraqi Freedom was a hard choice. But knowing what we know now, the alternative of freeing a noncompliant Saddam was a worse choice.

      Unfortunately, President Obama’s choice to break from the Eisenhower precedent and prematurely disengage the peace operations with Iraq was also a worse choice, in fact, a rippling disastrous choice.

    73. Eric Says:

      Trent Telenko:
      “gives Trump opportunities to be a “Normal” national leader in the Pre-WW2 historical American trade barrier, plus political isolationist and American unilateral military action only in Latin America senses”

      Trump would be Obama’s 3rd term in that sense. The consequences of President Obama’s deviation from President Bush are pushing towards a paradigm shift away from America the leader of the free world.

    74. Trent Telenko Says:

      Eric,

      A Trump Presidency that allows real large scale oil and natural gas fracking on Federal lands would not only make America energy independent. It would be a net exporter of hydrocarbon energy. The effect of that on world power is hard to estimate, but it would make America relatively and absolutely more powerful militarily and economically.

      A stronger American economy with greater discressionary US military power — due to the ability to tell OPEC to pound sand — makes China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea very unhappy campers.

      Adding other politically stable regimes to the fracking extraction pool economically kills the axis of evil.

      Russia will be out of oil at the current fields and extraction rates in 29 years and will be a net importer prior to that.

      Fracking might be a technological answer, but the Russians are ill-suited culturally to deploy it.

      Russian culture and Fracking techniques are at cross purposes. Fracking is a very anal retentive, precise process step, procedure with a lot of “secret sauce” in exactly what is in the working fluid and how/when the hydraulic ram effect is applied to fracture rocks.

      This is so proprietary nobody bothers patenting it to keep the lawyers and government regulators from slowing things down. Most of the real wealth in the small fracking firms is the secret formulas in the heads of the head geologists and the knowledge/people network of the CEO’s.

      This is driving the big corporate oil suits, the Leftist environmentalist crowd and particularly their tools in the EPA mad.

      The Chinese, OTOH, threw a great deal of money at trying to replicate Texas oil and natural gas fracking and found, among other things, that their rock geology was ill-suited to the techniques they purchased/obtained/stole.

      Texas frackers might have been willing to do the research for the Chinese for a percentage, but the Chinese cannot be trusted to keep a deal to the satisfaction of the highly distrustful Texas small oil company Fracking crowd.

      The Texas way with the Chinese has been to assume the Chinese would steal anything that Texans sold to them after they copied the first few items purchased.

      So Texan’s in the oil business simply structured the deal so all the profit was in the front end of the deal — AKA they assumed all future production was a lie and got their money up front.

      Once word got around about Chinese business practices, this became the only way the Chinese could deal with the American oil business in Texas. (Note: This is at least 10 year old story I got from someone in the oil business as the Fracking revolution was gaining a head of steam.)

      This Chinese theft/trust issue applies in Spads WRT Russians.

      The Chinese are calculating and predictable thieves.

      The Russians are violent and unpredictable thieves.

      Between Trump and the fracking oil-energy revolution, America is about to turn into a rogue state in its own right.

      I have no idea where this ride will take us, but America’s economy seems set to fund the populist madness.

      Other major powers are not as lucky.

      Putin’s Russia and Iran face a $50 dollar a barrel fracking based oil price cap for the next 10 years and China is looking at zero growth for 10-years from corruption based financial system issues.

    75. Eric Says:

      I left out a key adjective from my comment at May 4th, 2016 at 1:14 pm. Fix:
      Realpolitik is based on stabilization through a rationally constrained balance of power. But the Saddam that destabilized the region with the Gulf War was not rehabilitated. He was just as ambitious, his judgement was just as poor, he was rearming, he was a terrorist, and rather than keeping a lid on social fissures, Iraqi society and governance were degrading. Worse, as Orton explains, it’s not clear that Saddam was in control any longer of the jihadism he had given rein in Iraq.

    76. Trent Telenko Says:

      Eric,

      One of Trump’s biggest gifts from Obama is the ‘Federal Regulatory Kudzu’ Obama leaves behind.

      It gives Trump huge scope to do “regulatory tax cuts” a’la Reagan after Pres. Carter. Off the top of my head

      1. Killing the EPA “carbon is a pollutant” regulations will give more jobs in the short term than anything else. Increased/cheaper electricity production equals economic growth.

      2. Allow fracking on Federal lands to accelerate American energy independence comes a close second. (See above about increased discressionary American military power.)

      3. The 3D printing/additive manufacturing revolution needs a host of business killing regulations ranging from the Labor department, EPA, Transportation and State Department international trafficking in armaments (ITAR) streamlined.

      4. Reducing regulatory overhead for small business with Obamacare will up the job creation rates needed to obtain 3% a year GDP growth.

      Almost none of the above require Congressional actions and likely will be among Trump’s top domestic priorities for the his first term.

    77. Mike K Says:

      “It gives Trump huge scope to do “regulatory tax cuts” a’la Reagan after Pres. Carter. Off the top of my head”

      Yes. The tax cuts of Reagan are no longer important although corporate taxes need to be restructured. I don’t know enough of he details to say more.

      The people who are claiming that Trump = Hillary don’t understand.

      This is his life ambition. He wanted to do this years ago. It was never going to happen until Obama destroyed the borders and the economy.

      I don’t see him backing down. He’s going to be 70 when inaugurated.

      Cruz made a huge mistake in dismissing cooperation. Rubio is not trustworthy. Gingrich is too old. Kasich is 63 and is a possibility but has not shown himself much use outside Ohio.

      The people who say Trump can’t win were the ones who said he couldn’t get nominated.

    78. TangoMan Says:

      But the Saddam that destabilized the region with the Gulf War was not rehabilitated.

      AND

      The Saddam problem became our cancer to treat on August 2, 1990 with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the international response of UNSCR 660 and President HW Bush’s declaration of a national emergency with Iraq

      You noted my false premise now permit me to point out yours. Continuation of a failed international system doesn’t equate to furthering America’s interests.

      Iraq was not responsible for destablizing the region. Iran played a part, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States played a part, Yemen played a part, Syria played a part, Turkey played a part and Israel’s presence also played a part, along with the Palestinian issue. The entire region is filled with dysfunctional societies and political actors. Saddam was one player among many.

      America once had a thoughtful policy on how to advance American interests with regard to the spread of Communism, that policy was Containment.

      The Middle East’s cancerous lesions are not ours to treat, we would have been better served by quarantining the region thereby forcing the people there to solve their own problems. Oil would still flow out of the region because the region has little else to sell into the world. The risk premium on the oil would be higher but that cost would be paid by ALL users of oil instead of the current system where the risk premium is entirely paid for by American geopolitical efforts funded by the American government.

      The Hatfields and the McCoys eventually settled down. The Protestant Revolution, and the wars which followed, also settled down. The crucible of conflict often times helps people see past the conflict and hence reform begins. The Islamic world is desperately in need of reform and the surest way to get that region to a good end-state is to let them try all variety of alternatives and suffer the consequences which their choices bring about. Islamic Containment is a policy which helps in that regard. There would have been no 9/11 if there were no Muslims in America.

      Where you and I disagree is on the question of American interests. If I believe that the current, and on-going, policies of the US with respect to the Middle East are misguided and not serving America’s interests, then you informing me that President Bush’s decision on the Gulf War was in America’s national interest doesn’t clarify anything for me. If my position stems from a principle of “no nation-building” then your justifications for nation building all violate my principle.

      My principles have long established roots in American political discourse:

      The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities

    79. Tom Holsinger Says:

      Trump could add another 1% to the present GDP growth rate just by rescinding all of Obama’s Executive Orders, and thereby any federal regulations based on those. He could do this with a single Executive Order immediately after being sworn in.