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  • Archive for the 'Elections' Category

    At What Point…

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 7th April 2020 (All posts by )

    I have small businesses in two counties here in flyover country. In one county the death rate from covid is .0000035 – thirty five ten thousandths of one percent. In the other, *much harder hit*, .000020 – twenty thousandths of one percent. And this is taking the death tallies at face value, as if the people died FROM covid, vs. they died WITH covid.

    In Illinois, Gov. Pritzker is talking about curfew, temp taking, and a number of other ridiculous lock-downy things.

    Eventually, they have to let everyone get back to work, or there won’t be any “work” left.

    I’m wondering at what point will the citizenry call “bs” on this and just do whatever they want.

    Sure, there are hot spots and sure, there are problems, but if we didn’t know about covid in these places mentioned above there would be no panic whatsoever as these aren’t even rounding errors. And the economy is trashed? It’s far more dangerous to drive your car to the store than, well, going inside the store.

    To make it all worse, I can’t have a birthday party for my daughter, but it’s ok for the State of Wisconsin to have an election, and for the mayor of Chicago to go get her hair done.

    Posted in COVID-19, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Elections, Illinois Politics | 26 Comments »

    Wages, Employment, and Productivity

    Posted by David Foster on 21st February 2020 (All posts by )

    I think President Trump is quite sincere about his oft-stated desire to drive up the wages of low-income workers…especially young and non-college workers…and he does seem to be having some success at this quest.  It has struck me for a while that while this is a very good thing from the standpoint of the overall society, it is also likely to pressure business profit margins, with possible consequences for the stock market as well as for Fed policy.

    Yesterday the WSJ noted that “wages for 20- to 24-year olds are increasing twice as fast as for other workers…Overall job satisfaction in 2018 was the highest since 1994.”  At the same time, “90% of blue-collar businesses report operating with unfilled positions, and 29% say this has made them reduce output or turn down business.  Rising wages together with sluggish productivity growth are crimping corporate profits.  Between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2019, profits for nonfinancial corporations  declined 17% and 46% for manufacturers.   The article quotes the Conference Board:  “The US will not be able to maintain its current standard of living unless the US government acts to significantly increase immigration, improve labor force participation, and, together with employees, raise labor productivity growth.”  To which the WSJ writer adds:  “Maybe the only short-term fix is to increase legal immigration–unless Americans want to see their living standards decline and more jobs exported.”

    Higher wages do of course drive productivity improvement…the US has been a pioneer in the mechanization of work in large part because it has been a high-wage country, and that mechanization has helped to enable further wage increases.  This doesn’t always require any new inventions:  there are always productivity tools available that will make sense to a business that is paying $25/hour for labor but would not make sense to one paying $15/hour.  The process isn’t instantaneous, though.

    Concerning immigration as a solution to labor shortages: commentators sometimes lose sight of the fact that GDP per capita matters for broad-based prosperity, not just absolute GDP.  And the only way to increase GDP per capita is through productivity improvements and higher labor force participation rates.  Increasing the raw number of workers doesn’t do this.

    The Conference Board statement appears to put a lot of emphasis on things that the government should do, and the WSJ emphasizes more (legal) immigration.  Some increases in legal immigration may well be a good idea…as would increases in American fertility rates…but the main issues, I think, are productivity and the labor force participation rate.  The actual productivity numbers don’t reflect all the talk about (and even the realities of) robotics and AI.  Maybe this is largely just a matter of implementation lags, maybe it reflects increasing bureaucratization and ‘compliance’ costs throughout our economy.

    My concern is that margin pressure may lead (in conjunction with other factors, like already-high valuations) to a sharp stock-market decline, which could have electoral implications.  Such decline might also lead to many deferrals of productivity-improving investments.  Alternatively, Fed concerns about rising wage rates as a possible signal of incipient inflation could lead the central bank to increase interest rates excessively as a preventative.

    And any electoral result which substantially increases Democratic party power could lead to massive upsurges in legal and illegal immigration, with consequent wage pressures, demoralizing many workers who are now on an positive track and deferring the need for productivity investments.  Any attempt to deal with such wage pressures by establishing high Federal-level minimum wages would add much rigidity to the systems, creating problems of many kinds.

    Discuss, if you feel so inclined.

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Elections, Tech, Trump, USA | 21 Comments »

    Meme Wars

    Posted by David Foster on 13th February 2020 (All posts by )

    Michael Bloomberg is apparently spending a bunch of money on the development and deployment of memes.

    A meme could, potentially, neatly encapsulate and summarize a real, meaningful argument.  Or it could have the appearance of offering a conclusive argument when no such argument has actually been made.  Or it could be so ridiculous that it has no effect–or an opposite effect from that intended–on its target audience.

    William “Boss” Tweed was very upset by the cartoon of Thomas Nast, because, as he famously said:  “I don’t care a straw for your newspaper articles; my constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures.”  Perhaps in our own era, there are plenty of people who do know how to read–who may well be college graduates–but whose attention spans are so limited, and who have so little exposure to logical discussion, that memes are the most effective way to reach them.

    Discussion question:  What memes have you seen that (a) effectively make a valid argument, (b) look like they are making an effective argument, but are actually doing no such thing, or (c) are so silly that they could convince basically nobody at all?

    Posted in Advertising, Elections, Media, USA | 27 Comments »

    The fake impeachment is almost over.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st February 2020 (All posts by )

    The hysteria that began when Donald Trump won the 2016 election has labored and brought forth a mouse that was dealt with today in the Senate. There are still a few blows to administer, as the State of the Union speech Tuesday before a humiliated Democrat Congress, and the final vote to end the farce Wednesday. The Mueller “Investigation” which ended the Russia Hoax, was anticlimax. Then came the Ukraine manufactured crisis.

    The level of corruption by the Biden family, is explored in Peter Schweizer’s book, Profiles in Corruption. All the Bidens, not just Hunter the coke addled son, but the brothers and even the sister, are riddled with corruption. The Ukraine matter is just one of the tales in the book.

    The Russia collusion was largely based on a “dossier” paid for by the Clinton campaign and probably the product of Russian disinformation. Thus, the political campaign that colluded with Russia was that of Hillary Clinton, not Trump.

    I had my doubts about Trump in the beginning.

    I am not a Trump supporter but I am intrigued at the steady progress he is making toward success. I have been a fan of Angelo Codevilla’s characterization of America’s Ruling Class.

    The recent collapse of Republican Congressional resistance to the left’s political agenda as noted in the surrender of Paul Ryan to the Democrats in the budget, has aggravated the Republican base and its frustration.

    Ryan went on Bill Bennett’s radio show on Tuesday to tell his side of the story, which involves the fact that he inherited from outgoing Speaker John Boehner an unfavorable budget framework, as well as some of the tradeoffs involved (especially defense spending). He also laid out the argument I’ve heard elsewhere, which is that he needed to “clear the decks” so that a real return to “regular order” budgeting next year will be possible. You may or may not be persuaded, but the contrast with Boehner is fairly plain, I think.

    Ryan, after the election, was a disgrace.

    In spite of Democrat and some Republican hysteria, Trump has moved along, cancelling crippling regulation and negotiating trade reforms with Mexico, Canada and China. Meanwhile the hysteria grew.

    Then Mueller flamed out with no payoff for the millions spent.

    Mueller’s anti-Trump staffers knew they were never going to be able to drive Trump from office by indicting him. The only plausible way to drive him from office was to prioritize, over all else, making the report public. Then, perhaps Congress would use it to impeach. At the very least, the 448 pages of uncharged conduct would wound Trump politically, helping lead to his defeat in 2020 — an enticing thought for someone who had, say, attended the Hillary Clinton “victory” party and expressed adulatory “awe” for acting AG (and fellow Obama holdover) Sally Yates when she insubordinately refused to enforce Trump’s border security order.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Elections, Trump | 16 Comments »

    Presidential Ad Placement in Wisconsin

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 15th January 2020 (All posts by )

    I sort of wish Wisconsin wasn’t in play in the presidential election, but here we are. I work very hard and do enjoy my evenings at peace with Wheel of Fortune, and perhaps a sporting event on TV. Sadly, my peace at home has been trifled with for the past several months, and I fear it will be a nonstop blitz until November.

    As of now, we are getting crushed with a massive ad buy from Bloomberg. And that’s it. Bloomberg is everywhere. And no other candidates (including Trump) on the media I consume, at least. Upon questioning the spousal unit, who watches things on TV that are apparently called “shows”, of which I have never heard of, she reports that it is all Bloomberg all the time too. She also inquired as to who this guy is and I simply told her “nobody you need to be concerned with”.

    As of several months ago we had ads from some different candidates. I remember ads from Robert Francis O Rourke and a few others but none of the buys have been as massive as this salvo from Bloomberg.

    That’s all I got for now. More to come as the campaign develops.

    Posted in Elections, Politics | 20 Comments »

    Will America Vote to Drink the Kool Aid, Committing Mass Suicide?

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 11th January 2020 (All posts by )

    Presidential candidates are talking about every issue except the one that matters most for America’s future: “American Exceptionalism.”

    President Obama, a former professor of constitutional law, rejected the notion of American exceptionalism. Conservative writer Jonah Goldberg in Suicide of the West (2018) argues that the political abandonment of American Exceptionalism is eroding liberty, society and prosperity. Parenthetically, Taleb, Skin in the Game (2018) concludes (pg. 86) ”the west is currently in the process of committing suicide” by tolerating the intolerant. The “mass suicide” metaphor became a reality when religious cult leader Jim Jones told his followers in 1975  “I love socialism, and I’m willing to die to bring it about, but if I did, I’d take a thousand with me” which he did in Jamestown, Guyana three years later. “He wanted the world to think this was some uniform decision, that they willingly killed themselves for socialism to protest the inhumanity of capitalism” but armed guards made sure the reluctant chose the Kool Aid and exited the Johnstown dystopia for the promised socialist utopia in the next life.

    Suicide of the West

    Goldberg’s history of politics and human nature begins with humans first walking upright, concluding in 2017 with U.S. domestic political choices. Ideas promoted by John Locke and bequeathed by the British that the state is the servant of the people, are the core of American exceptionalism as opposed to the opposite ideas of the Frenchman Rousseau that individuals are the servant of the state, the governing principle of authoritarian socialist economies and in practice social democracies as well. What’s exceptional in the U.S. political system bequeathed by the Founders are the strict limits on federal powers in the two written documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. This is the cornerstone that allowed the many secular and religious institutions of civil society to deepen as a pre-requisite for and complement to entrepreneurial market capitalism, the source of virtually all human economic progress.

    In the American version the state guarantees “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” whereas the French national motto “liberty, equality, and fraternity” is an oxymoron. Individual liberty erodes at each stage as decisions are elevated from the marketplace to private, local, state, federal and ultimately international governing bodies. Competitive market capitalism’s “creative destruction” and entrepreneurial innovation produces relative winners but benefits all, whereas political favoritism comes at the expense of the typically poorer less politically favored.

    The Deep State is Sovereign in a Democracy

    In a recent Wall Street Journal article, political theorist Francis Fukuyama argues that “American Democracy Depends on the ‘Deep State’” run by professionals protected from politicians. Progressive President Wilson used entry into the war as the means to create the “modern” sovereign state” to which Fukuyama refers under the motto to “make the world safe for democracy,” never mentioned in the Founding documents. What took a Revolution to produce was protected only by the willingness to adhere to paper documents that Wilson basically ignored.

    Individual dependence on the modern pater welfare state corrodes the institutions of civil society and inevitably leads to identity politics, tribalism and cronyism. With the state the master, many democracies evolve into one party rule, e.g., the communist “peoples’ democracy” of China, North Korea, East Germany or in capitalist countries the PRI in Mexico (in spite of a Constitution modeled after that in the U.S.) and Peronism in Argentina where the party is the master of the state. The rightist regime in Chile brought in the Chicago Boys to help implement free market reforms that produced a growth miracle, but that proved difficult to sustain as subsequent socialist governments burst that bubble.

    The 2016 Presidential Election

    In 2016 candidate Trump promised to drain the swamp and “end America’s endless wars” – both direct attacks on the deep state, particularly the military-industrial-congressional complex (Eisenhower’s original censored version) that manages the economy as well as foreign policy and military adventure. Reagan promised to roll back the deep state but failed. Clinton declared “the era of big government is over” but it barely paused. The Tea Party, composed of older more conservative voters tired of Republican false promises of limited government, launched a grass roots political campaign to limit government, which also failed. Once the state (or the Party of the state) is sovereign, the process has proven irreversible through political means.

    That leaves the Supreme Court. Candidate Trump committed to nominating conservative Supreme Court Justices who would stay within the original intent of constitutional limits, the primary issue cited by his supporters. The abortion issue is a ruse, a litmus test for progressive precedents to trump constitutional intent.

    The U.S. deep state is immune to accountability. A recent docudrama The Report tells the story of CIA torture after 911. The Agency lied to two Presidents, lied and stonewalled Congress over 8 years, violated the separation of powers and squashed the biggest seven thousand page Congressional oversight investigation in history. Only the stature of Senators Feinstein and McCain eventually got the Report released, but no one was held accountable, sending a clear signal that the deep state was immune. When President Trump alleged (later proven by the Mueller and Inspector General Reports – in spite of deep state resistance) that the intelligence community was involved in election rigging in 2016 and a subsequent coup attempt to remove him from office when that failed, Senator Schumer warned him: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” Impeachment is (only) one way.

    The 2020 Presidential Election

    On domestic policy, progressives arguably fared better under the Trump Administration than they would have from any of the other Republican candidate (e.g., victories on the budget and trade protectionism) and better than conservatives during the Obama Administration. Many conservatives (including Goldberg) join progressives in abhorring Trump’s personality and attacking his character (questionable, as is that of his political antagonists, e.g., Congressman Schiff). His lies and exaggerations may stretch the limits of political discourse, but the main stream media has regressed to Infamous Scribblers. The biggest cause of Trump derangement syndrome – and his source of political support – is likely his politically incorrect speech.

    But Supreme Court appointments remain the existential issue for progressives and conservatives alike (as the Kavanaugh Hearings demonstrated), although limiting the power of federal government leaves progressives with free reign at the state and local level where they have had substantial success. Even “popular democracy” in big states like California is rigged by the state, forcing the oppressed to ‘vote with their feet’ leaving progressive states like California and New York with deficits, which then seek federal bailouts.

    The electorate is divided along generational lines, with democrats appealing to younger liberal voters and republicans to older conservative voters. Lowering the voting age to 18 dramatically increased this demographic (why Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi proposed lowering it to 16). Yet current Democratic candidates are divided among the ”electable”“moderate” 78 year old (by inauguration) Joe Biden campaigning as the former VP of a decidedly immoderate administration, authoritarian Michael Bloomberg who is almost a year older that Biden, socialist Bernie Sanders who is more than a year older than Biden, and Progressive Elizabeth Warren who would be 70 by inauguration. The young intolerant radical anti-capitalist progressives/socialists will undoubtedly be in control should victory be achieved by any of these elders following Taleb’s thesis (pg 69) that in a democracy the intolerant dominate.

    What explains the strong Democratic appeal of 18-29 year old voters? Goldberg (pg. 340) quotes theologian Eugene Peterson: “humans try to find transcendence-apart from God – through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, recreational sex, or … crowds (i.e., mobs or cults).” Millenials are less religious than older voters and sex has declined relative to past generations. Non-college graduates have turned to drugs – 70,000 deaths annually.

    Promises of debt forgiveness and free stuff by Socialist Sanders – and Warren – obviously appeal to the typically deeply indebted college educated. But so does their attack on business. Once taboo, socialism is now chic on college campuses as anti-business progressive ideas pervade college professorial ranks, particularly among historians and economists. This goes back to the early days of progressivism as socialist/communist historical myth makers accused business leaders of being “Robber Barons,” vastly over-stating the extent of American cronyism. Economists have generally under-appreciate the fragility and benefits of capitalism focusing instead on “market failures” real or imagined requiring government intervention, to be expected by a profession started by a German educated progressive to train Americans in the visible hand (fist) of state economic management

    So millenials may be lured to join the cult and drink the Kool Aid: as an aging baby boomer, I’ll cling to religion and, Inshallah, sex and alcohol (bourbon, of course).

    Kevin Villani

    —-

    Kevin Villani was chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985. He has held senior government positions, has been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on the political origins of the sub-prime lending bubble and aftermath.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, Tea Party, Trump, USA | 17 Comments »

    Shovel That Code

    Posted by David Foster on 11th January 2020 (All posts by )

    …into that server!

    Joe Biden gave coal miners facing possible unemployment some advice:  learn to code.

    In reality, of course, programming/coding is a skill that can exist on multiple levels.  Someone writing a simple spreadsheet model for some kind of repetitive tracking problem is working at a different level from someone writing a well-defined module within a large system for a bank, who is in turn working at a different level from someone writing interrupt-level hardware drivers for an operating system, or for someone creating the idea and user interface, as well as the code, for a new consumer-facing product.  Some of these tasks will usually pay less than what a skilled coal miner is paid, some of them will pay considerably more.

    And also, programming is not an infinite reservoir of job demand. Much work that previously required considerable high-skill programming has now been largely automated by software tools and/or by complete application systems, and considerable programming work is being offshored–see my post telemigration.

    Biden also asserted that:  “Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for God’s sake!”

    Ignoring the inherent ridiculousness of this claim as a factual assertion…does Biden actually think that manual stoking of coal furnaces is a thing in today’s economy?  Does the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a large count of people employed as stokers?

    In reality, the mechanical stoker was invented well over a century ago.  They were common in high-horsepower steam locomotives by 1900, and were and are used in coal-fired power plants.  I doubt if there was much manual stoking going on by 1940, except on steamships…and coal as a fuel for ships was rapidly on its way out by that point, as it was being displaced by oil

    Plus, Biden was talking about coal miners.  Does he think that there are coal-fired furnaces in coal mines?  If there were, you would likely get a massive explosion from igniting of any gas in the mine.

    Biden clearly understands as little about the software industry as he does about the energy industry.

    This is the man who says he was Obama’s point man on a “jobs of the future” initiative.

    Can you imagine what these people would do to the economy if they ever achieved the degree of power that they so avidly seek?

     

     

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Elections, Energy & Power Generation, Tech | 24 Comments »

    Interesting

    Posted by David Foster on 10th December 2019 (All posts by )

    An artist named Jayne Riew observed that “In the days after the election, people around me struggled to make sense of what had happened. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the female vote. Among women who cast ballots, 42% were with him, not with her. Most of the women and mothers I knew were shocked or angry that other women and mothers could choose Trump over Clinton.”  The common assumption was that Trump voters must be “people who haven’t seen the world,” “resentful of our success,” “unskilled and no-tech,” “old and behind the times,” “white people who are afraid,” etc etc.

    She notes that “to reach 42%, Trump had to have drawn in women who didn’t fit the stereotype,”  and set out to do some actual research.  The resulting website, She’s With Him, is a photo essay based on interviews with 7 female Trump voters.  Worth taking a look.

    Riew’s own website is here.

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Elections, Politics, Trump, USA | 19 Comments »

    Why Impeachment Now ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th October 2019 (All posts by )

    The intention to impeach Donald Trump actually followed his election by a day or two. The idea that “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” have been committed is ludicrous. So, why go to this risky strategy now ?

    Well, the Mueller/Weissmann investigation was a dud. Even the left recognized that it did them no good.

    President Trump’s job approval rating has rebounded since the release of a summary of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to a new poll.

    A Gallup survey released Friday finds that 45 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, up from 39 percent in March …

    [T]he latest approval figure matches two previous highs in Gallup polling.

    Trump’s earlier 45 percent readings came during his first week in office in January 2017 and in June 2018 after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    And when it turned out the report itself contained very damaging evidence of presidential obstruction of justice, Democrats began to think that perhaps public opinion would turn even further against the 45th president, and there was some evidence of that, too:

    The last sentence is wishing.

    At FiveThirtyEight, which maintains the most comprehensive database of polls, Trump’s average approval rating was at 42.1 percent on March 24, the day Barr released his “summary of principal findings.” A week later it was exactly the same. On April 18, when the redacted Mueller report was released, Trump’s average approval rating was 42 percent. FiveThirtyEight reported 14 polls taken (partially or fully) on or after that date. Trump’s average is now at 41.3 percent.

    In simpler terms, it was a flop. So why keep at it ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Elections, Politics, Trump | 9 Comments »

    How the Conservative Party has sold out Britain.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th September 2019 (All posts by )

    King George III and Lord North have been blamed for botching negotiations with the American colonies. Now, the same Conservative Party seems determined to botch another negotiation; with the EU. In both cases, the party and negotiators were determined to keep the relationship intact, no matter how unequal.
    An excellent piece in the claremont Review explains.

    Many statesmen warned from the outset that British ideas of liberty would not survive a merger with the E.U. The most eloquent early diagnoses came from the Labour Party, not the Tories. That is because the fundamental disposition of the E.U. is to favor technocratic expertise over representative government, and the Tories have not generally been the British party that placed the highest priority on the passions of the masses. In 1962, as Tory Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was eying EEC membership, Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell warned, “[I]t does mean the end of Britain as an independent nation state…. It means the end of a thousand years of history. You may say ‘Let it end’ but, my goodness, it is a decision that needs a little care and thought.”

    Interesting that Labour saw the danger first. In the US, the party of the Administrative State is the Democrats although both parties are heavily invested as Angelo Codevilla has pointed out.

    Eventually even the reliably anti-Brexit Economist came to see that some of Britain’s major problems had arisen from constitutional meddling. David Cameron’s 2011 Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, in particular, made it much more difficult to call the general elections that would ordinarily have been provoked by the resounding repudiation of Theresa May’s withdrawal package. Blair and Cameron, the magazine noted, “came to power when history was said to have come to an end. They saw no need to take particular care of the constitution.” E.U. membership hid these problems—if Britain wasn’t paying attention to its constitution at the time, it was partly because it had been using someone else’s.

    I had not realized that “Judicial Review” of laws was an American phenomenon. John Marshall has reached far into the future with his ruling in Marbury vs Madison.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Britain, Economics & Finance, Elections, Europe | 56 Comments »

    The Ideological Turing Test

    Posted by David Foster on 26th August 2019 (All posts by )

    The Turing test is a means of assessing whether an automated system is truly intelligent by testing its ability to simulate an actual human being in conversation…the test to be conducted via terminals, over a communications link. Here’s an excerpt from Alan Turing’s own example of a hypothetical conversation:

    Interrogator: In the first line of your sonnet which reads “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” would not “a spring day” do as well or better?

    Witness: It wouldn’t scan.

    Interrogator: How about “a winter’s day,” That would scan all right.

    Witness: Yes, but nobody wants to be compared to a winter’s day.

    Interrogator: Would you say Mr. Pickwick reminded you of Christmas?

    Witness: In a way.

    Interrogator: Yet Christmas is a winter’s day, and I do not think Mr. Pickwick would mind the comparison.

    Witness: I don’t think you’re serious. By a winter’s day one means a typical winter’s day, rather than a special one like Christmas.

    At a considerably lower literary level, quite a few automated telephony systems today make an attempt to convince their targets that they are dealing with an actual human being, at least for a few seconds.

    The ideological Turing test…the term was invented by Bryan Caplan, following some comments by Paul Krugman…refers to an individual’s ability to accurately state opposing political and ideological views.  Caplan quotes John Stuart Mill: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”

    My observation is that neither side in America’s current political divisions is over-endowed with people capable of passing the ITT.  Paul Krugman asserted, unsurprisingly, that liberals do it better:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Elections, Human Behavior, Marketing, Politics, Tech | 30 Comments »

    The War on Trump. Stage Two.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 17th August 2019 (All posts by )

    The release of the Mueller Report with his painful conclusion that there was no Trump Russia collusion, has sent the political left on a search for another issue. “Obstruction of Justice” is not working out so the strategists at the New York Times, GHQ of the Trump Resistance, has settled on a new theme, explained at an Editorial Board meeting last week.

    A transcript of a recording was obtained by Slate.

    In the 75 minutes of the meeting—which Slate obtained a recording of, and of which a lightly condensed and edited transcript appears below—Baquet and the paper’s other leadership tried to resolve a tumultuous week for the paper, one marked by a reader revolt against a front-page headline and a separate Twitter meltdown by Jonathan Weisman, a top editor in the Washington bureau. On Tuesday, the Times announced it was demoting Weisman from deputy editor because of his “serious lapses in judgment.”

    The headline issue was a hilarious swap of headlines after the first was considered too friendly to Trump.

    [R]eader expectations of the Times have shifted after the election of President Trump. The paper… saw a huge surge of subscriptions in the days and months after the 2016 election… The Times has since embraced these new subscribers in glitzy commercials with slogans like “The truth is more important now than ever.” Yet there is a glaring disconnect between those energized readers and many Times staffers, especially newspaper veterans. [Executive Editor Dean] Baquet doesn’t see himself as the vanguard of the resistance… He acknowledges that people may have a different view of what the Times is, but he doesn’t blame the marketing. “It’s not because of the ads; it’s because Donald Trump has stirred up very powerful feelings among Americans. It’s made Americans, depending on your point of view, very angry and very mistrustful of institutions.

    So, readers who hate Trump went nuts after the first headline was not angry enough.

    So, what to do ?

    But there’s something larger at play here. This is a really hard story, newsrooms haven’t confronted one like this since the 1960s. It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character.

    In other words, the New York Times went all in on RussiaGate and that exploded in their faces, so now they’ve had to shift their Main Narrative to denouncing Trump as racist:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, History, Politics, Trump | 67 Comments »

    Mueller is over. What next?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 29th July 2019 (All posts by )

    The Mueller hearings were a huge disappointment to the Democrats, who were counting on scandal and impeachment to substitute for governing. Two leaders, Schiff and Nadler, seem unwilling to give up and try legislating. Schiff, who seems to most devoted to the Russia Hoax, has a darker side.

    Schiff is the first Democrat since 1932 to represent the region.

    He was an eloquent booster of McCain-Feingold campaign-finance legislation, seeking to put limits on some of the very expenditures that swamped his own race against former Rep. James Rogan, whom he beat by three percentage points.

    (Limiting expenditures is a point Colbert needled him on. Colbert: “Isn’t that the equivalent of sleeping with a prostitute and then strangling her to hide your shame?” Schiff: “Well … I wouldn’t want to say it like that.”)

    Rogan, of course was the target of massive Democrat fund raising to punish the House prosecutor for the Clinton impeachment.

    That fawning “The Hill” tongue bath did not provide much for the “darker side.”

    Nadler, another Clinton defender, has shed 60 pounds since his gastric bypass but he still looks about 100 pounds overweight. He is a little less strident than Schiff in public.

    Where do they go from here ?

    They get no help from Andrew McCarthy who demolishes their arguments.

    Mueller’s anti-Trump staffers knew they were never going to be able to drive Trump from office by indicting him. The only plausible way to drive him from office was to prioritize, over all else, making the report public. Then, perhaps Congress would use it to impeach. At the very least, the 448 pages of uncharged conduct would wound Trump politically, helping lead to his defeat in 2020 — an enticing thought for someone who had, say, attended the Hillary Clinton “victory” party and expressed adulatory “awe” for acting AG (and fellow Obama holdover) Sally Yates when she insubordinately refused to enforce Trump’s border security order.

    Of course, it wouldn’t be enough to get the report to Congress. The challenge was to get it there with the obstruction case still viable even though prosecutors knew they couldn’t get away with recommending an obstruction indictment. How to accomplish this? By pretending that the OLC guidance prevented prosecutors from even making a charging decision.

    This resulted in the Ted Lieu question and Mueller’s answer which he had to retract after the break.

    It is becoming more and more apparent that Mueller’s ‘assistant” prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann is the lead conspirator in the coup.

    Weissmann is distinguished by his abysmal record as a corrupt prosecutor in several cases.

    A lawyer representing whistleblowers referred Andrew Weissman to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (IG) for “corrupt legal practices”.

    Weissman is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s lead investigator in the Russia-Trump probe. He is the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. That was Loretta Lynch’s territory. He rose through the ranks under Mueller’s stewardship.

    In 2015, civil rights attorney David Schoen referred Weisman to the IG for his handling of a case targeting the Columbo crime family. Schoen said he is not a member of a political party and there is no political motivation.

    Weissman was the lead attorney in the Persico trial and he withheld exculpatory evidence, a Brady violation. Schoen said he decided to revisit the nearly two-decade-long cases based on new witness information and “recent evidence that has come to light in the last several months.”

    Weissman never told the defense that a prosecution witness, Gregory Scarpa Sr., was also working for years as an FBI informant. The underworld witness was nicknamed ‘Hannibal’ and the “Grim Reaper’ and committed over 100 murders.

    The judge described AUSA Weissmann’s conduct as the “myopic withholding of information” and “reprehensible and subject, perhaps, to appropriate disciplinary measures,” according to the opinion obtained by investigative reporter Sara Carter.

    He further distinguished himself with a rare Unanimous Supreme Court decision reversing his conviction of Arthur Anderson in the Enron case.

    With a brief, pointed and unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned Arthur Andersen’s conviction for shredding Enron accounting documents as that company was collapsing in one of the nation’s biggest corporate scandals.

    The court held that the trial judge’s instructions to the jury failed to require the necessary proof that Andersen knew its actions were wrong.

    But the decision represents little more than a Pyrrhic victory for Andersen, which lost its clients after being indicted on obstruction of justice charges and has no chance of returning as a viable enterprise. The accounting firm has shrunk from 28,000 employees in the United States to a skeleton crew of 200, who are attending to the final details of closing down the partnership.

    28,000 people lost their jobs. The prosecutor who hid evidence was Weissmann.

    In the interview with Devin Nunes, Maria Bartiromo asks the ultimate question: “who was the mastermind” behind all of these intelligence operations?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Current Events, Elections, Trump | 10 Comments »

    Trump and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 29th May 2019 (All posts by )

    Andrew_Johnson_photo_portrait_head_and_shoulders,_c1870-1880-Edit1

    I think I see some similarities between the Democrats’ apparent efforts to try to impeach President Trump and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868.

    Andrew Johnson was a “war Democrat,” meaning that he was a Democrat who supported the Union. He was Governor of the border state of Tennessee. Lincoln considered the border states critical in saving the Union.


    “I hope to have God on my side,” Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said early in the war, “but I must have Kentucky.” Unlike most of his contemporaries, Lincoln hesitated to invoke divine sanction of human causes, but his wry comment unerringly acknowledged the critical importance of the border states to the Union cause. Following the attack on Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for troops in April 1861, public opinion in Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri was sharply divided and these states’ ultimate allegiance uncertain. The residents of the border were torn between their close cultural ties with the South, on the one hand, and their long tradition of Unionism and political moderation on the other.

    In 1864, after Atlanta was taken by Sherman, Lincoln began to think about the situation after the war. He met with Sherman and Grant on March 28, 1865. He had two weeks to live. He talked to them about his plans for after the war ended. Sherman later described the conversation. Lincoln was ready for the post-war period and he told Sherman to assure the Confederate Governor of North Carolina that as soon as the army laid down its arms, all citizens would have their rights restored and the state government would resume civil measures de facto until Congress could make permanent arrangement.

    In choosing Johnson as his VP in 1964, Lincoln was doing two things, he was supporting his argument that no state could secede from the Union. The radical Republicans like Stevens and Sumner had taken the position that states had “committed suicide” by seceding. There was even a movement at the Baltimore Convention to nominate someone else, like Fremont who had been the nominee in 1856. The other was allowing the Convention to choose the VP nominee. It did seat some delegations from states, like Tennessee, that were still the scene of fighting. Only South Carolina was excluded.

    The Convention was actually assumed to be safe for a Hannibal Hamlin renomination. Instead it voted for Johnson by a large margin. The final ballot results were 494 for Johnson, 9 for Hamlin. Noah Brooks, a Lincoln intimate, later recounted a conversation in which Lincoln told him that there might be an advantage in having a War Democrat as VP. Others, including Ward Hill Lamon, later agreed that Lincoln preferred a border state nominee for VP.

    And so, Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat, was elected to an office that no one ever considered as likely to become President. No one anticipated Lincoln’s assassination. However there was a significant segment of radical Republicans that wanted to punish the states that had seceded and those who had joined the Confederacy, contrary to Lincoln’s plans. He had intended to restore the local governments, pending Congressional action to restructure the state governments. The Convention was well before Atlanta fell to Sherman’s army and Lincoln was not convinced he would be re-elected. The War Democrat VP nominee would help with border states.

    Johnson humiliated himself with his inauguration speech, at which he was suspected to be drunk. He may have been ill; Castel cited typhoid fever,[95] though Gordon-Reed notes that there is no independent evidence for that diagnosis

    Six weeks later, Lincoln was assassinated. Johnson was not well prepared to assume the Presidency.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Biography, Elections, History, Politics | 21 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Orwell’s Newspeak and The Observer (a/k/a the Sunday edition of The Guardian)

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th May 2019 (All posts by )

    The EU is a parliamentary “democracy” that lives and breathes absent anything like meaningful responsible government. What Tisdall means is that Orban—although popular with actual voters in his own country—among people who have an incentive to know precisely what Orban is up to—remains an object of suspicion among the bureaucrats in Brussels and among members of the European Parliament from countries other than Hungary. What Tisdall does not understand is that it is he who is illustrating a contempt for ordinary democracy and ordinary voters.

    Hmm. . . sounds familiar.

    Read Seth’s full post.

    Posted in Britain, Elections, Europe, Politics, Trump, USA | 5 Comments »

    America, the Land of the Free Lunch and the Home of the Brave Easily Traumatized

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 3rd May 2019 (All posts by )

    As a Boston area baby boomer, I belted out the National Anthem in my youth with conviction at sporting events. Massachusetts educators emphasized its role as the birthplace of the American Revolution from distant unaccountable politicians (leaving out the crucial role of fake news written and published by the infamous brewer’s son Sam Adams) and the motivating principles, summed up by Virginian Patrick Henry’s immortal phrase: “give me liberty or give me death.”

    In the 1970s Boston’s U.S. Congressman Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill quipped “all politics is local.” Now the progressive daily prayer on Twitter begins “Our father, who art in Washington D.C. give us money – a guaranteed minimum income, reparations, welfare, entitlements, etc. and other free stuff – food, housing, medical care, a college education.”

    Bostonian President Kennedy’s appeal to voters’ patriotism in the 1960’s to “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country” is reversed today. Patriotism is as out of favor with many millenials (who proudly display their participatory soccer trophies) as are the Boston (now New England) Patriots for hogging the Super Bowl Trophy this century, stigmatizing other teams as “losers.”

    Competing Foreign Ideologies

    Traumatized by competing ideas, many millenials would trade U.S. competitive capitalism and individual freedom for a free lunch. “History doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes” according to Mark Twain. The core contemporary national political issue is whether America’s popular progressive ”social democracy” ideology rhymes with its founding principles and historical values or foreign ideologies that threaten the body politic?

    The Communism Threat

    The Bolshevik Revolution ended an anachronistic Imperial dynasty in a country with no prior democratic traditions. Communist intellectual Leon Trotsky promised a utopian Marxist socialism, international brotherhood and the end of nation-state competition for resources as the state would wither away. Communist atrocities under Stalin, murders and deaths measured in the tens and hundreds of millions, predated the WW II Western Alliance in a desperate attempt to industrialize a backward agrarian society.

    Stalin promoted opaque Russian Imperialism under the banner of brotherhood. Soviet skullduggery in post War elections in Europe and around the globe – and CIA involvement to counter it (or visa-versa) – was widespread. The post WW I & II “Red Scare” of communist infiltration of state institutions in the U.S. was somewhat over-blown, but the belief that communists could be elected in a democracy based on false promises then turn dictatorial and refuse to relinquish power as has occurred most recently in Venezuela, was well founded. Fearing such a cancer on the body politic, the Communist Control Act of 1954 outlawing the Communist Party in the United States suppressing free speech passed with the full support of progressive Democrats who wanted to distance themselves from ”Uncle Joe” Stalin (and later, many others, including Mao).

    Fascism, Communism’s Cousin and Bitter Political Rival

    Hitler came to power in democratic Germany promising economic prosperity, understandably as wartime consumer deprivation far exceeded that of France and Britain (where communist sympathies were widespread), and post war reparations inhibited a consumer recovery. Although Mussolini, the founder of European fascism, once headed the Communist Party in Italy, and Hitler founded the National Socialist Party, neither implemented socialism domestically. By national, they meant a return to Germany’s pre-War greatness: consumers initially benefitted from a massive boom in defense spending before once again suffering wartime deprivations.

    The nationalist agenda was less imperial than traditional. European history since 1453 is largely related to border wars as Germany is caught in the middle between the British and French empires to the west and Russian empire to the east: only the scale of Nazi eastward border expansion represented a radical departure. In Hitler’s view this rhymed with American westward expansion and genocide of the indigenous populations. He persecuted the Jews, even ethnic Germans, based on Nazi perception of Jewish financing of German enemies on the WW I battlefield and in the labor movement fomenting unrest on the home front and their perceived outsized influence in the Bolshevik communist movement (Trotsky was Jewish).

    Hitler inherited a failing German economy. He was aware that the economic potential of the western capitalist powers were orders of magnitude greater and growing faster, causing him to knowingly take enormous risks to address what he believed was an existential threat. Even as he acquired new territories he was playing catch up. Unlike Stalin, he was not driven by an anti-capitalist economic ideology, but intervention in the German economy increased as the Wehrmacht consumed an ever increasing share of GDP – over half at the peak – relying on private enterprise and the profit and price mechanism to the extent feasible (and arguably more than FDR) relative to the size of the war effort. Dictatorial power and crony capitalist corruption – favoritism of the political elite – was an inevitable result of a rising government share of the economy.

    Racist ideology contributed to his miscalculation of the military industrial ability of the Soviet Union, where his early luck inevitably ran out, after which a war of attrition would exploit Germany’s relative economic weakness. Economic desperation determined the magnitude of Nazi atrocities, less in scope and subsequent to those of the communists in the Soviet Union, but driven by racism.

    In 1977 the U.S. Supreme Court extended freedom of speech protection to the National Socialist Party of America, a racist fringe rather than socialist party.

    European Social Democracy

    In the wake of WW II deprivation and devastation in Europe, “social democracy” – a greater role of the state in providing household necessities – was viewed as a more benign alternative to communism. Britain, particularly Scotland, experimented primarily with socialized housing and medical care until the late 1970s when, as British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher put it, they were running out of “other peoples’ money.”It was also tried in the small relatively homogeneous Nordic countries, running out of money in Sweden in the 1990s and Finland more recently. These experiments were not democratic socialism or the fascist prone democratic capitalism, as all were financed by taxing capitalist-created income and resulted in retrenchment rather than socio-political collapse when they went to far.

    American Progressivism Rhymes with Fascism and Communism, not European Social Democracy

    But for democrat skullduggery, Socialist Bernie Sanders might well have been the 2016 Democratic candidate and also won the election. Most of his younger Democrat competitors for 2020 support the Green New Deal, the latest utopian vision. Their success hinges on rhyming this vision with small-state European social democracy, but the American progressive movement has always focused on the entire nation. When a failed ideology is adopted by a large too-big-to-fail nation-state like Germany or the Soviet Union in the past or the U.S. at present, unaccountable politicians cover-up and double down on failure until it is systemic and seismic like the 2008 financial crisis.

    Progressivism’s historical nationalism and racism and current methods of intervention in a capitalist market economy rhyme with fascism: its premise that economic progress is attributable to politics and its utopian goal of social justice without regard to national borders both rhyme with communism: the inherent dictatorial lack of political or fiscal accountability rhymes with both.

    American Nationalism

    Federal power ballooned during the wars of progressive presidents TR, Wilson, FDR and LBJ. That American patriotism is excessively nationalistic has been an issue since the Monroe Doctrine and subsequent Manifest Destiny. America’s support of free trade post WW II supported by American hegemony over trade routes worked well, as it did under British hegemony leading up to WW I. But the post WW II order is once again breaking down as a consequence of increasing nation-state rivalry over resources and trade routes. President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is daily attacked not as patriotism but Nazi racist nationalism. The future of American Hegemony should be the central issue in the next presidential election.

    Racism and Sexism

    In a competitive free market economy those who would inappropriately discriminate by race or sex always lose out, always: racism requires political protection from competition. Socialism is inherently discriminatory; the state determines who gets what and who pays. The Democratic Party was the party of slavery, Jim Crow and voter discrimination; it remains the party of restrictive working laws and regulations (with a “disparate impact” on black youth employment) e.g., with well above market “living” minimum wages, credentialing and anti-immigrant worker prohibitions, and admission quotas. Winners beget losers: progressives once again discriminate against Asians.

    The progressive party founded the eugenics movement targeted to limit the black population from which Hitler borrowed ideology. Roe versus Wade represents a eugenic success story, as abortion for the white population at the time required no more than a bus ticket to the next state. Now about half of black pregnancies are terminated.

    The Road to Serfdom

    The promise of “free stuff” to those mostly not yet paying taxes and of cancelling their debt likely explains college students’ preference for socialism over capitalism, and the myth of socialist environmentalism the Green New Deal environmental goals.

    Income inequality and Social Justice in a Democracy

    America’s social welfare system while not as generous as the Nordic countries generally provides a standard of living sufficient by international comparison and luxurious compared to the deprivations suffered when fascism and communism incubated. Competitive market capitalism produces unequal incomes, the source of its ability to raise the living standards of all through increased productivity. Progressive policies that cross the constitutional threshold of equality of opportunity to demand equality of economic outcomes by broadening the base of the politically favored are a subset of crony capitalism that favors the political elite at the expense of society generally, a failed ideology. Socialism fails every time because incentives matter.

    The Green New Deal: a Fentanyl induced Utopian High

    Concern for the environment and the human impact on it is warranted, but what to do about it is a difficult question primarily for foreign diplomats. The Green New Deal adopted by only the U.S. would provide negligible environmental benefit. But as virtually all past environmental initiatives, it would be a bonanza for the crony capitalists and their political patrons. Whether or not the Green New Deal cost $100 trillion or only $10 trillion, it is a road to serfdom for millenials, with no exit provided by the archaic modern monetary theory.

    Democrats Cross the Rubicon

    “The founders of the Roman Republic, like the American founding fathers, placed checks and balances on the power of their leaders. The Romans, however, came up with a way to sidestep these checks and balances when strong leadership was needed, such as a time of crisis.” 

    Communism, fascism, the New Deal and social democracy were all implemented in response to an existential crisis. It is no accident that progressives exploited the “environmental crisis” to push their social justice agenda: these faux crises don’t justify national socialism, an existential threat to the body politic.

    The majority of American voters – positively correlated to age – still properly associate socialism with the totalitarian communist and Nazi regimes rather than European democratic socialism as socialist Sanders’ argues, undercut by his Moscow honeymoon. The two big progressive myths are that European social democracies never run out of money and that “other peoples’ money” i.e., the other party’s voters, will somehow finance the socialist agenda. Green New Deal proponents refused to vote for it to avoid voter accountability for the costs. National socialism and the virtual one party rule necessary to achieve it provides the best explanation for the rest of the 2020 “democratic” agenda.

    Progressive Social Democracy isn’t Nordic

    The population of California is four times that of the largest Nordic country Sweden. It, like all the progressive states is over taxed and over indebted. Obamacare impregnated promiscuous states with these twin fiscal burdens with a whispered promise of a subsequent opaque federal bailout when they matured, making states subservient to D.C. like Soviet Oblasts to Moscow.

    Suppression of Free Speech

    The free speech amendment is listed first as the foremost safeguard against infringement of individual freedom and equality under the law. The Communist Party remains illegal in U.S. due to its meretricious promises, now virtually indistinguishable from those of progressives. Conservative speech to expose the fallacies of progressive ideology and the threat to the Republic is suppressed by the democratic state apparatus. Free speech invites propaganda, including Russian translations, think tank and academic “research” but should be protected, even for communists and neo-Nazis.

    From Republicanism to Democratic Totalitarianism and One Party Rule

    The American experiment with a limited government republic has been undergoing constant change since the “peoples” candidate Andrew Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party and seventh President, while winning the popular vote in the post-universal male suffrage election of 1824 lost in the Electoral College, which he then proposed to abolish. Subsequent progressive constitutional amendments extended voting rights to former slaves and their decedents (15th), women (19th) and the direct election of Senators (17th).

    Even with control of the House, Senate and Presidency, this wasn’t enough to pass Obamacare, arguably the stealth stepping stone to single payer Medicare for all. Unprecedented political maneuvering and prosecutorial and administrative abuse by then FBI Director Robert Mueller was employed. Then a lone opinion of Chief Justice Roberts relied on another progressive amendment, the 16th enabling unlimited power to tax, to save it.

    Socialism in a large diverse nation like the U.S. requires permanent dictatorial powers of enforcement, as highlighted by the requirements of Obamacare and the controversy over the individual mandate. This explains the progressive platform on: voting rights; opposing voter registration, supporting immigration of dependents with voting rights rather than working rights, eliminating the Electoral College, reducing the voting age to 16 years old, registering prisoners, and drive-by voter registration: the Supreme Court; nominating liberal (i.e., anti-Constitutional) Supreme Court Justices, packing the Supreme Court (again), and: the apparent attempt by the Obama Administration to implement PRI style hereditary presidential selection. This rhymes with Mao’s “people’s democratic dictatorship” not the individual liberty of the American Lion.

    To quote America’s greatest economist Milton Friedman:  “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

    Kevin Villani

     
     
    —-

    Kevin Villani, chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985, is a principal of University Financial Associates. He has held senior government positions, has been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on the political origins of the sub-prime lending bubble and aftermath.

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Culture, Economics & Finance, Elections, History, Leftism, Libertarianism, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics, Public Finance, Taxes, Tea Party, Tradeoffs, Trump, USA | 6 Comments »

    President Trump’s ‘Xanatos Gambit’ Trade Policy

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 27th April 2019 (All posts by )

    I’ve written previously in my column “President Trump’s ‘Xanatos Gambit’ Government Shutdown” of President Trump’s tendency for building political strategy trees were every possible outcome is to his advantage. (See the “Xanatos Gambit” strategy tree example in the figure below)

     

    https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/XanatosGambitDiagram_7509.jpg

    This is a decision diagram example of a “Xanatos Gambit. Source: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosGambit

    It very much looks like President Trump has done the same thing with the Democrats and “China lobby” GOP Senators with the post-NAFTA US-Canada-Mexico (USMCA AKA “You Smack-A”) trade agreement and the US economy.

    THE US ECONOMY, NAFTA & USMACA

    The key thing you need to understand regards NAFTA and American manufacturing is that NAFTA was geared to allow the “China lobby” of multinational corporations to use Canada and Mexico as an “international arbitrage opportunity” for Chinese slave labor wage manufactured goods to be assembled at Canadian and Mexican production facilities and avoid American tariffs.

    Multinational corporations exploiting this “international arbitrage opportunity” was “The Great Sucking Sound” that Ross Perot talked about which killed the US domestic refined metals industry and hollowed out middle class manufacturing jobs in the American economy.

    President Trump’s USMCA removes that “international arbitrage opportunity” via original 75% North American manufacturing content requirements for metals and intermediate manufacturing goods as well as a Mexican minimum wage rules on the order of $15 an hour for automotive parts assembly.

    In response the “China lobby” has been paying large campaign contributions to both House Democrats and “free trade” GOP Senators to try and keep NAFTA, as well running info-war spots everywhere in the corporate media and “movement conservative” publications/media outlets about the benefits of “free trade.”  This has resulted in public statements by Speaker Pelosi that the House does not intend to vote for USMCA.

    This is where Pres. Trump’s ‘Xanatos Gambit’ strategy tree kicks in via a macroeconomic and trade policy manipulation of the very simple economic equation of gross domestic product:

    GDP = US ECONOMIC ACTIVITY + EXPORTS + FOREIGN INVESTMENT – IMPORTS – EXTERNAL INVESTMENT

    The American economy just grew 3.2% in the 1st quarter of 2019.  It would have grown another 0.3% but for the 30-odd day federal government shut down.  The “markets” were expecting 2.5% GDP growth.  The huge half-percent GDP “miss” boiled down to:

    1. The USA exported more.

    2. The USA imported less and

    3. There was more external foreign investment than expected.

    All three were the result of a combination of Trump administration policies on oil/LNG fracking, tax & regulatory cuts and trade/tariffs.

    First point, the USA will be a net energy exporter — of oil, natural gas & coal combined — in 2020 if it isn’t one already.

    Some rough numbers:  In 2012 US oil production was ~8 million barrels a day, all for domestic consumption, and in 2019 it is 12.6 million with some exports.  Today’s US oil consumption is 20 million barrels a day.  That increase in oil production that has reduced imports of oil by a net of 4.6 million barrels a day has also been accompanied by the displacement of coal and oil in both electrical production and manufacturing by cheaper natural gas, thus freeing both the coal and oil not used to be exported. This combined economic change since 2012 alone is worth a 1% increase in GDP growth a year compared to 2012.

    Second, the Trump administration’s systematic and sustained attack on Obama era federal regulatory growth is reducing business compliance costs particularly in the energy sector for new infrastructure projects.  These are the “anti-green” actions the Democrats accuse the Trump administration of.

    Third, the Trump administration/GOP tax bill, in addition to increasing spending power for the middle class, has had a huge -YUGE- reduction in capital gains taxes and a one-time break in repatriating overseas capital holdings. This has made America a much more attractive place to hold and invest money.  Particularly for energy companies like Exxon, which are dropping this foreign capital inflow into the Permian basin for oil and natural gas fracking and energy export infrastructure from the Permian to the Gulf Coast.

    Finally, in terms of trade and tariffs, President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum combined with the business implications of USMCA rules have made further investment in Canadian automotive plants a net loss position.  American metal content is now economically competitive for energy sector infrastructure and automobile parts such that US Steel among others are reopening US metal plants.

    Taken together every part of the GDP equation has been directly affected by the Trump administration macroeconomic policies to get that 3.2% GDP number.

    This is where the Xanatos Gambit for USMCA arrives.

    Things will be worse for the China lobby without a vote on USMCA than with one.

    Short form:

    NAFTA is dead regardless of any action or inaction by the House.  All the House and Senate can do is not vote on USMCA.  The legislative branch cannot revive a NAFTA trade agreement the federal executive has withdrawn from.

    This means without a signed USMCA trade deal Pres.Trump can — and will — lay on even more tariffs on the multinational corporations playing price arbitrage in Mexico and Canada between Chinese and American manufacturing.

    While such trade sanctions can reduce the American economy like a tax increase, when we are likely at close to 4% economic growth in late 2019 to early 2020 from the accumulated investment in energy projects bringing defacto energy independence, a 3.5% economic growth rate with tariffs is still pretty good.

    And when the House refuses to vote in USMCA, NAFTA still dies.

    Pres. Trump can and will lay on new massive new anti-Chinese tariffs on Canadian and Mexican front companies for China without USMCA rules.  This will be massively popular in the Midwest in an election year and will hurt the income streams of the multi-nationals supporting the Pelosi Dems and McConnell RINOs.

    From Trump’s point of view, What’s not to like about America’s manufacturing base employing the Midwestern white working class growing while the “international arbitrage opportunity” of China’s slave labor economy contracts?

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Business, Capitalism, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Elections, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment | 28 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: North Wales Poll for May 23, 2019 EU Parliament Elections

    Posted by Jonathan on 25th April 2019 (All posts by )

    UKIP + BREXIT Party = 50%.
    Labour + Tory = 8%

    Read the full post.

    Posted in Britain, Elections, Europe, Politics | 6 Comments »

    Vote Fraud may determine the 2020 election.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd April 2019 (All posts by )

    The Democrat Party has been perfecting their techniques of voter fraud for many years. In 1960, the presidential election was determined by vote fraud in Chicago and Texas. Chicago has a long history of stolen elections. It is a joke to many Chicago residents but Chicago determines Illinois’ electoral votes.

    Chicago is famous for its history of people voting from the grave and for helping President John F. Kennedy “steal” the 1960 election. (JFK beat Richard Nixon by 9,000 votes in Illinois by capturing what some considered a suspiciously high 450,000 advantage in Cook County.)

    Officials insist voter fraud has largely disappeared in Chicago, but Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, has said voter fraud and “horrendous” things happen in Chicago.

    The city’s election history is even crazier than most people realize, though, with Republican feuds leading to homes being bombed and names being stolen from tombstones just to get extra votes for the “Democratic Machine.”

    Texas was just as bad in the days when it was run by Democrats. San Antonio was particularly famous as a corrupt fief of George Parr, a political boss. Lyndon Johnson used his influence with that boss to win the Senate election of 1948 and the presidential election of 1960.

    A study of Lyndon B. Johnson provides new evidence that the 36th President stole his first election to the United States Senate, in 1948.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, Politics, Polls, Texas | 10 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Brexit: Crisis or Success?

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th March 2019 (All posts by )

    What you are witnessing in the UK is not a crisis. It is a success. When most geographical units secede from a larger entity, they do so unilaterally, and sometimes violently. They do it through war or, if lucky, soft power. The UK is doing everything in accord with publci int’l law, EU law, and its domestic legal system. No armies involved. No violence. No threats of violence. Just elections. It is democracy and it is messy. It compares well to our war dead in 1776 and 1861. The world should be taking lessons–not mourning Brexit.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Civil Society, Elections, Europe, History, Political Philosophy, Politics | 13 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Free Speech in Andrew McCabe’s America: A Post on Conlawprof

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th February 2019 (All posts by )

    Important points:

    In his 60 Minutes interview, former acting FBI director McCabe said:

    There were a number of things that caused us to believe that we had adequate predication or adequate reason and facts, to open the investigation. The president had been speaking in a derogatory way about our investigative efforts for weeks, describing it as a witch hunt… publicly undermining the effort of the investigation.

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/thoughts-andrew-mccabes-60-minutes-interview (emphasis added).
     
    Is not this statement troubling, if not Orwellian? Think or speak the wrong thing—and the government investigates you? In a 2017 blog post on New Reform Club, I wrote about this issue as follows:

    Read Seth’s full post.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, Law, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Rhetoric, Trump, USA | 8 Comments »

    How is the Shutdown Going ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 11th January 2019 (All posts by )

    We are now in week three of the partial government “shutdown” over the refusal of Democrats to fund any of Trump’s wall. They see this as another “Read My Lips” situation which, if they can make Trump back down, it will kill his re-election campaign just as it did to Bush in 1992.

    But Trump’s base takes the wall itself seriously, and, like George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign pledge on taxes, the wall has become the president’s “read my lips” albatross. His supporters may not abandon him over it, but Trump’s re-election hinges entirely on their enthusiasm. Yes, they will vote for him, but will they engage in the get-out-the-vote activities that drive to the polls enough additional voters to put Trump over the top?

    How is that going ? Even Texas Monthly, no friend of Republicans agrees.

    Jet skis dropping off pregnant women. Chinese border crossers in fancy workout attire. A park full of could-be spies. These sights of the Rio Grande are almost hallucinatory, but they don’t seem to alarm Spratte. They seem to fatigue him. Not long ago, he says, agents’ mouths would drop open when they’d hear about a group of fifty immigrants getting caught. Now, he says, “if you tell me, I’ve got a group of fifty, I need help, I would laugh at you. If you said, I’ve got a group of three hundred, now that would be cool, because that would be a new record. And the records are only going to keep increasing.” (According to Spratte, agents in the Valley have had a single pickup of around 280 immigrants.)

    Trump visited the wall yesterday and CNN’s Jim Acosta gave Trump a hand at making his case.

    I know this might be hard for you to comprehend Jimbo, but the reason why all of Twitter has been mocking you today is because you were at a part of the border WITH A WALL. So yes, of course it was working. Replicate that across the border & we’ll all be safer. #RealNews #ByeBye

    It did not look too good for Acosta to brag about how safe it was near a wall. OR fence, if you prefer.

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    Posted in Elections, Immigration, Law Enforcement, Politics | 11 Comments »

    The Revenge of John McCain.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st December 2018 (All posts by )

    John McCain Was elected to Congress in 1982 and elected to the Senate in 1986 taking the seat previously held by Barry Goldwater. In 1989, he was involved in the “Keating Five Scandal.

    The five senators—Alan Cranston (Democrat of California), Dennis DeConcini (Democrat of Arizona), John Glenn (Democrat of Ohio), John McCain (Republican of Arizona), and Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (Democrat of Michigan)—were accused of improperly intervening in 1987 on behalf of Charles H. Keating, Jr., Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of a regulatory investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB). The FHLBB subsequently backed off taking action against Lincoln.

    The late 1980s were the era of the Savings and Loan scandals.

    The Federal Home Loan Bank Act of 1932 created the S&L system to promote homeownership for the working class. The S&Ls paid lower-than-average interest rates on deposits. In return, they offered lower-than-average mortgage rates. S&Ls couldn’t lend money for commercial real estate, business expansion, or education. They didn’t even provide checking accounts.

    In 1934, Congress created the FSLIC to insure the S&L deposits. It provided the same protection that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation does for commercial banks. By 1980, the FSLIC insured 4,000 S&Ls with total assets of $604 billion. State-sponsored insurance programs insured 590 S&Ls with assets of $12.2 billion.

    Inflation in the late 1970s and early 1980s led to pressure on Savings and Loan institutions that had been lending money at 6% to home buyers but savers were demanding higher interest rates to compensate for inflation. The S&Ls were caught in the “Borrow high and Lend low” vise that led to their demise.

    My review of Nicole Gelinas’ book on the 2008 economic crisis includes some discussion of the 1986 problems.

    The story of the 2008 collapse begins in 1984 with the rescue of the Continental Illinois Bank. Here began the “too big to fail” story. Two things happened here that led to the crisis. One was the decision to bail out all depositors, including those whose deposits exceeded the FDIC maximum. Secondly, the FDIC guaranteed the bond holders, as well. Thus began the problem of moral hazard. Another feature of this story was the role of Penn Square Bank, which had gone under two years earlier in the wake of the oil price collapse, which devastated many of its poorly collateralized loans in the oil industry. Both banks had been caught seeking higher returns through risky investments. Penn Square, however, had been allowed to collapse. Continental was rescued and that began a trend that the author lays out in detail through most of the rest of the book.

    The 1986 crisis and the 1989 scandal affected McCain deeply. He was a freshman Senator and was probably included in the group for two reasons. First he was the only Republican and Second, Keating, a Phoenix developer, was a constituent. McCain was humiliated and his ego was as big as all outdoors.

    His reaction to his humiliation was once of the worst pieces of legislation in the 20th century, The McCain-Feingold Act.

    In 1995, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) jointly published an op-ed calling for campaign finance reform, and began working on their own bill. In 1998, the Senate voted on the bill, but the bill failed to meet the 60 vote threshold to defeat a filibuster. All 45 Senate Democrats and 6 Senate Republicans voted to invoke cloture, but the remaining 49 Republicans voted against invoking cloture. This effectively killed the bill for the remainder of the 105th Congress.

    McCain, still in his “Maverick mode and still running on ego, persisted.

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    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Health Care, Personal Narrative, Politics | 19 Comments »

    The story of the Trump “Dossier.”

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 25th November 2018 (All posts by )

    Dan Bongino is a former Secret Service agent who is prominent commentator on Fox News.

    His presentation at the David Horowitz meeting is worth watching.

    He has a book out and I have ordered it on Kindle.

    He also says that he thinks Bill Priestep is working with the people investigating this scandal.

    The link at Conservative Tree House has some additional suggestions.

    One of the key points Bongino highlights is how none of the paper-trail; nothing about the substance of the conspiracy; can possibly surface until *after* Robert Mueller is no longer in the picture. Until Robert Mueller is removed, none of this information can/will surface.

    That’s why every political and media entity are desperate to protect Mueller; and also why Mueller’s investigation will never end.

    This may well be true and it is depressing.

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    Posted in Elections, Obama, Politics | 34 Comments »

    What will happen in 2020 ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd November 2018 (All posts by )

    First, everyone should view this Steve Bannon Oxford Union debate.

    It’s an hour long and, while I rarely watch hour long YouTube videos, this one is worth while.

    He gives a talk about his European sessions with new “right wing” leaders like Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister.

    Viktor Mihály Orbán is a Hungarian politician serving as Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010. He also served as prime minister from 1998 to 2002. He is the present leader of the national conservative Fidesz party, a post he has held since 2003 and, previously, from 1993 to 2000.

    Orban is hated by the globalists in Germany because he has built walls to keep put “migrants,” which he says his county cannot support.

    Orbán’s social conservatism, national conservatism, soft Euroscepticism and advocacy of what he describes as an “illiberal state” have attracted significant international attention. Some observers have described his government as authoritarian or autocratic.

    In August 2018, Orbán became the 2nd longest-serving prime minister after Kálmán Tisza. If his current government lasts a full term, upon its completion, he will become the longest-serving Hungarian prime minister in history.

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    Posted in Elections, Europe, Immigration | 14 Comments »