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  • Archive for the 'Politics' Category

    The Dogs Don’t Like It

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th August 2018 (All posts by )

    The title of this post is the punchline to an old, old story about the limits of advertising; a story which may or may not be based on fact. The story goes that a big food-manufacturing conglomerate came up with a brand new formulation for dog food, and advertised it with a huge, costly campaign: print ads, TV commercials, product placement in movies, TV shows, county fairs, giveaways and sponsorships; the whole ball of wax … and the product cratered. The CEO of the company is irate and demands answers from anyone who can give him a reason why. Didn’t they do everything possible to make their dog food brand the market leader? Image everyone at that meeting looking nervously at each other at this point – because they have done everything possible … except for one small thing. Finally, someone gets up sufficient nerve to answer. “But the dogs don’t like it.” Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture, Current Events, Customer Service, Human Behavior, Media, Politics, Trump | 13 Comments »

    Too Pessimistic

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st August 2018 (All posts by )

    The Origins of Our Second Civil War by Victor Davis Hanson.

    The first half of this VDH piece seems over-the-top. Would the intermarriage and cultural assimilation that he cites in his next-to-last paragraph be happening if the situation were as bad as he thinks? Or is the country mostly culturally sound but burdened with dysfunctional elites dominating politics, big business, the universities and the media.

    This part is good:

    Again, Obama most unfortunately redefined race as a white-versus-nonwhite binary, in an attempt to build a new coalition of progressives, on the unspoken assumption that the clingers were destined to slow irrelevance and with them their retrograde and obstructionist ideas. In other words, the Left could win most presidential elections of the future, as Obama did, by writing off the interior and hyping identity politics on the two coasts.
     
    The Obama administration hinged on leveraging these sociocultural, political, and economic schisms even further. The split pitted constitutionalism and American exceptionalism and tradition on the one side versus globalist ecumenicalism and citizenry of the world on the other. Of course, older divides — big government, high taxes, redistributionist social-welfare schemes, and mandated equality of result versus limited government, low taxes, free-market individualism, and equality of opportunity — were replayed, but sharpened in these new racial, cultural, and economic landscapes.

    The rest of the piece is also good and points out how the country’s situation might improve. “A steady 3 to 4 percent growth in annual GDP” doesn’t seem very far from where we are. University reform seems likely as the public increasingly catches on to the corruption and excessive costs of higher education. Race relations seem to improve when not politicized. Spiritual and religious reawakenings happen every few generations.

    Keyboard trash talk and dark speculations about violence and civil war are not the same as actual violence. They might even be safety valves to release transient passions, cautionary tales, for everyone outside of a tiny lunatic minority. (The lunatic minority who are spurred to action by online/media hype are a serious problem, but not mainly a political one except as regards public and hence political unwillingness to force treatment on recalcitrant individuals with severe mental-health issues.)

    Today’s political violence is a problem but not one at the level of 1968 much less 1861. Almost all of the action now is in the political realm. There is little reason to expect an intractable impasse on a fundamental issue as in 1850-60 over slavery. There is no substantial constituency favoring civil war as there was in 1861. The modern federal government is huge, profligate and obnoxious, but risk-averse deep-state bureaucrats and crony-capitalist opportunists aren’t going to take physical risks to defend the status quo. The political process still responds to public concerns about governmental overreach, which is probably a large part of why Trump was elected. There is also enough collective memory of the last civil war and its awfulness to discourage enthusiasm for a replay from anyone who is sane.

    None of this is to say dire predictions won’t come to pass, but that’s not the way to bet. The country has been through harder times and surmounted them through politics rather than violence. My money’s on the basic soundness of our culture and political system this time as well.

    Posted in America 3.0, Culture, Current Events, History, Human Behavior, Obama, Politics, Rhetoric, Trump, USA | 23 Comments »

    Is Trump the Herald of “Localism?”

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

    Donald Trump is the source of great pain on the left and also in the professional politician class of the GOP.

    Why ?

    He was an outsider in GOP politics but the GOP politicians had failed a lot of the voters, including me. Like Ross Perot in 1992, he attracted a lot of people who were tired of being taken for granted by the regular politicians.

    Now there are some interesting theories of what is happening.

    Henry Kissinger, who knows Trump personally, has said some interesting things about him.

    The 93-year-old Nobel laureate told CBS show Face The Nation that the Republican’s unconventional style could be an asset and an ‘extraordinary opportunity’ for the US.

    ‘Donald Trump is a phenomenon that foreign countries haven’t seen. So it is a shocking experience to them that he came into office, at the same time, extraordinary opportunity,’ Kissinger said.

    ‘And I believe he has the possibility of going down in history as a very considerable president,’ he added.

    Naturally, this has disturbed some of the usual Trump opponents.

    Now, as Donald Trump signals that he wants a more cooperative relationship with Moscow, the 93-year-old Kissinger is positioning himself as a potential intermediary — meeting with the president-elect in private and flattering him in public. Like Trump, Kissinger has also cast doubt on intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia sought to sway the election in Trump’s favor, telling a recent interviewer: “They were hacking, but the use they allegedly made of this hacking eludes me.”

    The headline, of course, smears Kissinger, always hated by the left, as “a longtime Putin confidant.”

    What is going on ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Politics, Trump | 15 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: CONLAWPROF: A Post on Nativists and White Supremacists

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th July 2018 (All posts by )

    Quoted in full:

    Got it. It is all clear now.
     
    You wrote: “It is a bald racial appeal to [Trump’s] white supremacist, nativist base.”
     
    When you wrote the above, you were not saying that Trump’s base is made of “white supremacist[s]” and “nativist[s]”. Instead you were speaking to that part of Trump’s base which is “white supremacist” and “nativist”. It is really obvious from context—except that it is not. And your after-the-fact, clarification is very helpful. And we should also generously ascribe the best interpretation we can to your original and revised statements.
     
    Of course . . . don’t do any of this close textual parsing of ambiguous language for Trump, and don’t look to his after-the-fact clarifications. That would be totally crazy. Makes no sense. Totally different. Of course, we should a hold a businessperson-turned-politician to a stricter standard than a [legal] academic. See Trump, Academia, and Hyperbole, http://reformclub.blogspot.com/2016/08/trump-academia-and-hyperbole.html. Makes complete sense.
     
    By the way . . . throw me a bone here . . . you are now saying you were only speaking to part of Trump’s base. How big a part do you (and Professor X) think that segment of Trump’s base is? Does it include Trump’s Hispanic voters (maybe some 20% of the Hispanic vote) and his African-American voters (maybe some 10% of the African-American vote). And if it does not include them, exactly who is left in that base that you are calling nativist, etc? Who?
     
    Throw me a bone. What precisely do you and Professor X (now) mean?

    Seth’s post may touch a nerve for some of us who have been confronted, in some cases over most of our lives, with lefty ad-hominems dressed up as arguments:

    People who support Trump’s policies are [racists/sexists/uneducated idiots].

    People who oppose Obama’s policies are racists.

    People who favor Reagan’s tax cuts are in it for the money.

    etc.

    These kinds of statements are attempts to end-run argument on the merits by imputing bad faith to the people on the other side and hoping that that shuts them up. In some cases this is done maliciously, in others it’s from lazy ignorance by people who should know better (dog whistles! projection!).

    It’s nice when people at whom such attacks are directed respond both on the merits and by running to ground nasty insinuations that sometimes pass for serious argument in left-wing circles. I suppose leftists would say the same thing about conservatives’ arguments, but maybe that’s projection by me. In any case it’s probably best that discussions of contentious topics include people with diverse views.

    AVI has a characteristically insightful comment at Seth’s blog.

    Posted in Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Rhetoric, Trump | 3 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th July 2018 (All posts by )

    Caroline Glick:

    Trump scares the Europeans. He doesn’t scare them because he expects them to pay for their own defense. All of his predecessors had the same expectation. He frightens the Europeans because he ignores their rhetoric while mercilessly exposing their true policy and refuses to accept it. They are scared that Trump intends to exact a price from them for their weak-kneed treachery.

    Intends to exact a price. That is what Trump’s political enemies really object to about him.

    Posted in Europe, Israel, Politics, Trump | 21 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: My Post on CONLAWPROF: my response to a discussion about removing Trump from office

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th July 2018 (All posts by )

    If your dispute with Trump and your call for his removal are based on policy (and his language about policy), rather than about discrete factual predicates amounting to legal violations, then you should eschew the language of the criminal law and push forward with debates (in this forum and elsewhere) about the prospective dangers you think Trump is creating or the harms he has already caused. But as I said, the country survived Johnson. To the extent that the argument against Trump is based on his saying stuff you think outrageous, I think the country will survive his talking big. I would also add that Trump has done little (as I see it) which substantially departs from his campaign statements—so a removal based on political disagreement about the expected consequences of policy is not going to be one with a strong democratic justification.
     
    Technical point: It may be that deporting foreigners is not a criminal punishment, but exiling/banishing/deporting Americans who are in the country legally would seem to me to amount to a violation of a 14th Amendment liberty interest. This brings up an important cultural divide in America today (and not just in America, but across the Western world). Many of Trump’s supporters see the elites as being indifferent between their fellow citizens and foreigners. I ask you not to prove them correct.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Elections, History, Immigration, Law, Political Philosophy, Politics, Tradeoffs, Trump | 2 Comments »

    The Coming Impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 15th July 2018 (All posts by )

    According to a number of right wing media sites — Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze”, Gateway Pundit, True Pundit among others — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is going to face a House authorizing vote for an impeachment investigation after Rosenstein was caught out lying to HSCI Chairman Nunes about his communications with former FBI attorney Lisa Page in her testimony Thursday and Friday of last week. 

    (See link — https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2018/07/13/lisa-page-testimony-highlights-deputy-attorney-general-rod-rosenstein-lied-to-chairman-devin-nunes/#comments).

    This impeachment vote will invoke “United States Vs Nixon (1974)” which was a 9-0 SCOTUS decision in favor of Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski during Pres. Nixon’s impeachment proceedings that said there are no “Executive” or “National Security” classification privileges versus a House impeachment investigation subpoena. And thus President Nixon had to turn over the contents of the White House tapes of President Nixon’s office to Jaworski.  

    Short Form — An impeachment investigation subpoena is the thermonuclear weapon of Congressional oversight of the Executive branch.  The Deep State has to cough up all the classified DoJ, CIA, and FBI counter-intelligence documents to include the names of sources, the surveillance methods used, and who were targets in the Trump campaign when, to the HSSCI Chairman Nunes or go to jail for obstruction of justice.
    .
    The problem with this thought is the the FBI and DoJ are in open rebellion against both the Constitution and the American people. I’ve spoken as to the reasons why in my May 2018 Chicagoboyz post THE DEEP STATE CIVIL WAR AND THE COUP D’ETAT AGAINST PRESIDENT TRUMP. 
    .
    The DoJ won’t cough up the subpoenaed documents unless US Marshall’s arrive to take said documents at gunpoint from the DoJ-National Security Division and FBI counter-intelligence SCIF’s (AKA Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility ). Which is when we will find many of them have been erased or altered at times the access logs for the SCIF’s say no one was there, and videos of those time periods are missing.  And given that the DoJ is in charge of the prosecutions for these obstruction of justice crimes…they won’t.  
    .
    At best, there will be a few token dismissals or firings. There is one set of rules for THE SWAMP and a different set for everyone else.  In other words, there is no federal justice, at Justice, when it comes to the criminal abuse of power by the Department of Justice.  
    .
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    Posted in Americas, Anglosphere, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Iran, Iraq, Politics, Uncategorized, USA | 10 Comments »

    The Manafort Case.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 10th July 2018 (All posts by )

    In the summer of 2016, just before the GOP convention, the Trump children hired Paul Manafort and fired Cory Lewandowski who had been the campaign manager since 2015 and all through the primaries.

    The rationale for Manafort was that he knew how to round up delegate votes at the convention.

    Mr. Manafort, 66, is among the few political hands in either party with direct experience managing nomination fights: As a young Republican operative, he helped manage the 1976 convention floor for Gerald Ford in his showdown with Ronald Reagan, the last time Republicans entered a convention with no candidate having clinched the nomination.

    He performed a similar function for Mr. Reagan in 1980, and played leading roles in the 1988 and 1996 conventions, for George Bush and Bob Dole.

    Mr. Manafort has drawn attention in recent years chiefly for his work as an international political consultant, most notably as a senior adviser to former President Viktor F. Yanukovych of Ukraine, who was driven from power in 2014.

    His “experience” was 20 years in the past and he proved to be a rapacious employee, demanding $5 million dollars for “outreach” soon after being hired.

    The Lewandowski book, “Let Trump be Trump” is a very good description of the campaign, written with David Bossie.

    In August, after sidelining him for a month, Trump fired Manafort, and, according to Lewandowski, it was because he learned that Manafort was “a crook.”

    Mueller, and his traveling road show, is now holding Manafort in prison awaiting trial which keeps getting postponed.

    A Washington, D.C., judge on Wednesday set a trial date of Sept. 17 for Paul Manafort, just weeks before the 2018 midterm elections, a spokesperson for the former Trump campaign chairman confirmed.

    Manafort has pleaded not guilty to numerous charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including money laundering, tax fraud and bank fraud conspiracy.

    Nowhere in the charges is there any allegation of contact between the Trump campaign and Russia. Manafort is being charged with financial crimes related to work he did for Ukraine a decade ago.

    Now it seems, that serious misbehavior occurred with the DOJ and FBI in this case.

    The gist of the story is that Andrew Weissmann was meeting with AP reporters in April of 2017, approximately a month prior to the formal construct of the Robert Mueller investigation. The information from the meeting, which was essentially based on research provided by the “reporters” about Paul Manafort, was then later used in the formation of the underlying evidence against Manafort to gain a search warrant.

    I would not be terribly surprised to see the whole case thrown out for prosecutorial misbehavior.

    Posted in Current Events, Elections, Politics, Trump | 10 Comments »

    I would take it a step further.

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th July 2018 (All posts by )

    The conclusion of a Glenn Reynolds USA Today column about pro-governing-class selection bias in US Supreme Court nominations:

    To counteract this, we might want to bring a bit more diversity to the court. I’m not recommending that we eliminate the informal requirement that judges have law degrees (though non-lawyer judges were common in colonial times, and some countries still use them). But maybe we should look outside the Ivy League and the federal appellate courts. A Supreme Court justice who served on a state court — especially one who had to run for election — would probably have a much broader view of America than a thoroughbred who went from the Ivy League to an appellate clerkship to a fancy law firm.

    I would expand on this thought to suggest US presidents give preference to candidates who have run small businesses, have had run-ins with bureaucratic authorities and/or been arrested.

    Lex adds:

    Agreed.

    If Trump gets a second term, I’d like to see Mike Lee on the Supreme Court.

    I like Glenn Reynolds’s idea: 59 Justices. Nine appointed by the President, and one appointed from each state by the governor. Bloody brilliant.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Law, Politics, Tea Party | 7 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Poland’s Judicial Crisis: My Post on CONLAWPROF

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th July 2018 (All posts by )

    Arrayed against the policy of the elected government of Poland (which ran for election twice on this policy) is: the EU Commission (not elected), the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (not elected), the Council of Europe / Venice Commission (not elected), and any number of Polish judges — all appointed by a process wholly insulated from democratic control. But I repeat myself.
    &nbsp:
    I cannot prove this, but I expect if during our domestic squabbles involving the elected arms of the government manipulating the federal courts (circa 1802, and again circa 1863, or even today in relation to court packing) a bunch of international organisations told us what to do, such interventions would not have been (and will not be in the future) very welcomed, and might very well have made (and will make in the future) normal political compromise less likely.
     
    “Purge”. If you want more Trump … but I repeat myself.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Elections, Europe, Law, Politics, Trump | 2 Comments »

    True Civility

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 3rd July 2018 (All posts by )

    This is either efficient or lazy.  I will plead to either. I have posted before at length on the subject of The True Patriot, and have referred several times to the section in Mere Christianity where C S Lewis talks about the True Christian. Rereading both this afternoon, I don’t think I can do better, other than to note that the current True Civility claims, which I encountered looking for other things at The Ringer and 538, fall into the same category. Straw men.  False dichotomies. Most importantly, redefinitions of everyday words in order to show that all real virtues are, ultimately, just liberalism. Who woulda thaought, eh?

    Also, critiquing the Knibbs editorial, there is the point that language doesn’t work that way.  It is not valid to say “this is the root of the word centuries ago, this is its real meaning, its better meaning, its more educated meaning now.” Even if there’s an interesting book out there by another liberal who claims that civility is supposed to equal the larger category of civic virtue (because just look at the root word!), which means protesting against evil authorities for the good of The People, it still doesn’t work. Word derivations are interesting more than illuminating. See how the word silly, related to German salig, has changed over the centuries, for example. BTW, I wish Protestant preachers would learn that as well.  What the word meant in the KJV is not what it is really, really supposed to mean now. Nor what Noah Webster thought, either. Words change, and are an agreement in a speech community, not cast in stone.

    You can figure out what my current essay about True Civility would be from reading the first two links. You can even write it yourself, just for the fun of it.

    They can see the faults of conservatives clearly.  They cannot see even the simplest things about themselves.

    Update: Someone interesting weighed in on civility, in just this way. Even now, listen for the questions she is not being asked.

    Ann Althouse seems to agree with me.

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    Posted in Civil Society, Culture, Politics | 4 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading

    Posted by David Foster on 1st July 2018 (All posts by )

    A thoughtful post about walls and freedom:

    A city without walls was not a city. Anyone could march in and take over, give commands, and force the residents to obey. Without being able to defend yourself, you could not be counted among the free peoples. You were dependent on the good graces of someone else, be it a noble, a bishop, or hired soldiers. Walls meant the ability to defend your rights and liberties, to keep out unwanted people and protect what was good and valuable.

    Sultan Knish writes about Cybersecurity and Russia:

    “Why the hell are we standing down?”  That was the question that the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator was asked after Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, issued a stand down order on Russia.

    Tolerance for ambiguity as a key factor in career success:

    Too many recent graduates, however, approach their job descriptions the way they did a syllabus in college—as a recipe for winning in a career. They want concrete, well-defined tasks, as if they were preparing for an exam in college. “Excelling at any job is about doing the things you weren’t asked to do,” said Mary Egan, founder of Gathered Table, a Seattle-based start-up and former senior vice president for strategy and corporate development at Starbucks. “This generation is not as comfortable with figuring out what to do.”

    Information and Gossip:

    Now, it so happens that at no point in history, except during the postwar period, did people receive news without being conveyors of news. That nuclear family, where people — pop, mom, 2.2 kids, one dog — are watching TV, receiving information and not transmitting.

    Is loneliness fueling the rise of political polarization?

    Many individuals no longer have the communal and social connections they once had, such as religion, ethnic culture, and family. The only connection many have left is their political party, and that forms their identity. And because of the closeness this has to their identity, they become more tribal and defensive when that party is attacked.

    The lifecycles of large corporations

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    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, History, Human Behavior, Management, Politics | 15 Comments »

    How intellectually rigorous is Vox Day?

    Posted by TM Lutas on 29th June 2018 (All posts by )

    Vox Day is an alt-right figure who is a perfect illustration of why the alt-right needs to be engaged and not just thrown into the outer darkness. He’s accomplished, influential, smart, and cruel. He claims to be interested in the truth. No matter where it leads, he wants to follow and his position is that at the end of any journey committed to the truth, you’ll end up alt-right.

    He is more correct about mainstream western society than mainstream society (left or right) is comfortable admitting. There are sacred cows aplenty in both conventional camps and people do notice them and treat those conventional pieties with the cynicism they deserve. These positions leave an opening for alternative political camps with a greater fidelity to truth. Vox Day is attempting to position the alt-right as a better-enough successor to conventional conservatism in order to reorient international politics.

    But when encountering something he is unfamiliar with, does he have the guts to actually chase it down and educate himself?

    De-russification is largely about Russia’s peripheral states attempting to get people to switch allegiances to the local nation from Russia. It’s very close to classic American melting pot politics. It also appears to be working, something that Vox Day has made claims cannot sustainably happen when talking about the future of the USA.

    So what will Vox Day do when he reads up on the subject? Will he condemn the Baltic states’ efforts and be consistent across societies? Will he reassess the chances for melting pot politics in the USA and attempt to move the alt-right to a different destination? Stay tuned. The man is unlikely to leave the subject permanently unaddressed. It’s too obvious a weak spot for his camp.

    I’m assuming, without any evidence whatsoever, that Vox Day actually is not aware of what de-russification entails. It’s the charitable thing to do. But doing so without following up is not charitable. It is merely foolish.

    Posted in Culture, Education, Politics, Russia | 13 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th June 2018 (All posts by )

    Assistant Village Idiot:

    The Cause of the Week is never reported accurately. It is chosen for emotional elements which suspend rational thought.

    It’s literally true!

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Media, Politics, Quotations, Rhetoric | 1 Comment »

    Draining the Swamp: Progressive Politics – the Road to Crony Capitalist Perdition

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 17th June 2018 (All posts by )

    From A Libertarian Republic to Majoritarian-Totalitarian Democracy: a Summary

    The 2016 American Presidential Election

    Trust in government fell by almost 80% from the end of the Eisenhower Administration to the end of the Obama Administration. Then Americans endured one of the most divisive and longest two year election campaigns leading up to the 2016 election. Former Democrat turned Republican Donald Trump defeated a field of 17 traditional center-right Republicans to run against traditionally center–left Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton who turned left to defeat her socialist competitor Bernie Sanders in the primary. Sanders correctly argued that the U.S. political system is rigged – more than he knew at the time – but responded by promising his generally young supporters socialism without totalitarianism. The public has endured another two years of divisiveness as the losing party tries to undermine and some would impeach the winner.

    Republican nominee and arguably crony capitalist businessman Donald Trump, the son of a crony capitalist housing developer, ran on the paradoxical promise to “drain the swamp.” The faux democratic election of crony capitalist supremo Vladimir Putin in 2011 drew the public reprobation of then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the subsequent Democratic Party nominee. Putin responded with a campaign of not so fake news not to elect Trump – they had the same polls as everybody else – but to expose Clinton as a crony capitalist who also engaged in election-rigging. He hit pay dirt. The faux Russian collusion scandal has since been used to undermine the legitimacy of the Trump Administration.

    On the issue of trade there was no difference between the three main candidates – all opposed the new TTP trade agreement. The U.S. trade deficit has been about $500 billion a year during this century, consumption financed mostly with additional debt. Candidate Clinton, who supported China’s entry into the WTO during the Clinton Administration agreed she would if elected renegotiate NAFTA, the trade bill passed at her husband’s initiative. On the related issue of immigration, candidate Clinton voted for the bipartisan Secure Fence Act of 2006, as did then Senators Obama and Schumer.

    The Obama Administration had doubled the federal debt outstanding to over $20 trillion – and the unfunded liability is approximately ten times that. President Obama’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff publically warned as early as 2010 that the debt was a threat to national security. Candidate Clinton promised she wouldn’t add a penny to the national debt, but her platform had an imbedded $10 trillion increase, less than Sanders to be sure. Candidate Trump promised to eliminate the debt in eight years by increasing economic growth. Clinton’s was a political lie, Trump’s an outlandish campaign promise since going unfulfilled: his appropriations bill contained a $200 billion increase in spending, a Democratic victory for domestic spending in return for Republican defense spending.

    Candidate Trump ran against the “deep state” wars and military interventions that candidate Clinton had voted for. But as President, Trump embraced it with overwhelming Democratic support to punish Russia.

    Progressivism’s Administrative State

    The Democrats’ agenda has arguably fared much better under Trump than Republicans did under Obama. Given these similarities in proposed and actual policies, the subsequent animosity might appear puzzling. But the biggest difference among the candidates relates to the relative roles of the public and private sectors. The U.S. is now governed by an unaccountable patria administrative state: judicial and legislative subsumed in the executive branch and sometimes independent even of that – judge, jury and executioner. The new religion is “science” requiring a faux consensus and leadership by the “experts” as proposed by John Kenneth Galbraith in the New Industrial State (1967) over a half century ago.

    Washington, D.C. is a place where self interested deals are made in hotel lobbies and K street offices, but the entire federal bureaucracy sits on a former swamp. Most federal politicians are political swamp people having worked their way up in local and state politics by making political deals for budget and/or tax subsidies and/or regulatory discretion – legal extortion. Candidate Clinton is a self described progressive and candidate Sanders a socialist, the former supports state control of business, the later favors more direct state ownership.

    The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, followed by the Soviet Union two years later. In 1995 U.S. President Bill Clinton declared “The era of big government is over.” Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair, publishing in a Fabian pamphlet in 1998 argued: “Liberals (classical, i.e., American conservatives) asserted the primacy of individual liberty in the market economy; social democrats promoted social justice with the state as its main agent. There is no necessary conflict between the two, accepting as we now do that state power is one means to achieve our goals, but not the only one and emphatically not an end in itself.” But “the values which have guided progressive politics for more than a century – democracy, liberty, justice, mutual obligation and internationalism” have lead in practice to “state control, high taxation and producer interests (crony capitalism).” By the end of the century a few years after Blair spoke, the market had reached The Commanding Heights of the economy. But a decade later the Obama Administration had put the state back on top, seeking to control not just health care but finance and energy.

    Progressivism – like fascism and communism – started with the best of intentions, in opposition to crony capitalism. Social welfare programs were implemented to spread the wealth and provide a safety net, but during the progressive Obama Administration economic growth per capita stagnated. Candidate Trump believed that rolling back the administrative state regulations and the tax on savings and investment as suggested by Blair would restore real private economic growth, the key to managing the public deficit. His Democratic opponents both favored a vast expansion of the administrative state and increases in the tax on capital.

    Progressive Internationalism and the New World Order

    Progressives supported freer trade even if not reciprocal in the post WW II era because America could still enjoy a balance of trade surplus that could be used to fund investments abroad and a “new world order” of American dominance in a bi-polar world with the Soviet Union and its satellites. The European Union evolved as a mechanism to end European – especially German – “nationalism” in favor of this plan. Two events undercut this agenda of international control through capital flows: the 1960s wars on poverty and Vietnam turned American surpluses into deficits, and the common European currency created a German economic hegemony over Europe. The U.S. today is to China what Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland are to Germany, and that’s not a compliment. Both China and Germany – whose exports equal China’s with only 6% of the population – are mercantilist countries pursuing low wages and consumption domestically so that future generations can live off the debt that finances their over-consuming customers.

    Germany understands perhaps better than any country the problem of using foreign debt to finance current consumption as it did to feed a starving population during the interwar years. The excessive debt undermined the fledgling Weimar Republic, giving rise to Hitler. Trumps trade policy appears incoherent, as is much of the criticism. Progressives still argue for globalism and internationalism while conservatives and libertarians are hung up on Ricardian theory of comparative advantage in international trade and the accounting identity of the trade and capital balance.

    The problem isn’t global trade per se, but progressive policies that repress national saving and domestic labor and capital productivity while growing the administrative state. National boundaries still matter. In the EU the single currency zone has destabilized previously relatively stable prosperous countries, threatening political and economic collapse. The relationship between the U.S. and China reflects a similar dynamic: the willingness to accept American debt has kept the dollar from falling and trade adjusting. China holds over trillion dollars of debt backed by taxpayers, and was the biggest foreign funder of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the sub-prime lending bubble. Progressives argued that we would grow out of this debt, but simultaneously and inconsistently deny that the failure to grow during the Obama Administration reflected economic repression but “secular stagnation” – that capitalist innovation has run its course. If so, we are doomed when countries attempt to collect.

    Thus far the main part of the Trump agenda, the tax reform and regulatory roll back – against universal Democratic opposition and condemnation – appears to be working. Economic growth per capita has picked up, unemployment is the lowest since the turn of the century, and business investment net of depreciation is rising from historic lows. But it is way too early to declare success. China entered the WTO without meeting the minimum requirements for intellectual property protection or reciprocity, a Clinton Administration oversight. Fixing the former should be uncontroversial. Reciprocity insures that the most competitive – not the most subsidized – win. Subsidies may benefit American consumers temporarily, but the dislocations are costly and overconsumption dangerous, the debt leading to contemporary “gunboat diplomacy” to settle debts. A reciprocal tariff is a consumption tax, not irrational to consider under those circumstances.

    Progressive efforts to Impeach President Trump: the Totalitarian Administrative State Strikes Back

    Yet since the election, some progressive Democrats have been pushing for impeachment on grounds of Russian collusion and obstruction of justice, although no evidence has yet been produced of that after two years of investigation.

    One thoughtful progressive commentator dismisses these grounds, arguing that the real grounds for impeachment are the “threats Trumpism poses to democracy and rule of law.” If true, those would indeed be grounds for impeachment but he doesn’t define Trumpism or provide evidence. The many articles in the progressive media can be summarized thus: Trump is tweeting against the administrative state agents that are out to get him.

    Libertarians and Republican conservatives have argued that progressives have been undermining liberty and the rule of law for over a century to create the administrative state, obfuscating their agenda by manipulating words to mean the opposite of their historical meaning. Trump’s Court appointments are intended to reverse that trend. Statism is usually associated with one-party faux democracy to prevent state power from turning against the entrenched interests with a change of government. Trump ran against the progressive new world order, arguing to “put America first.” The Democrats didn’t think Trump had any chance to win. This seems the more compelling reason for their impeachment efforts. The anti-Trump organized hysteria bears a marked resemblance to the largely Soros funded Republican and Democratic efforts to ignite the democratic color revolutions in the former Soviet states described by F.William Engdahl in Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (2009).

    This isn’t about Trump tweets. It’s a battle for the commanding heights.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Capitalism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Economics & Finance, History, Leftism, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Public Finance, Taxes, Tradeoffs, USA | 11 Comments »

    The OIG Report

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 16th June 2018 (All posts by )

    The OIG Report os over 600 pages and I have neither the time nor the interest (my CCW class is later this morning) to read the whole thing. Andy McCarthy does have several serious columns on the topic this week.


    The Ethos of Law Enforcement
    It has become a refrain among defenders of the FBI and Justice Department that critics are trying to destroy these vital institutions. In point of fact, these agencies are doing yeoman’s work destroying themselves — much to the chagrin of those of us who spent much of our professional lives proudly carrying out their mission.

    The problem is not the existence of miscreants; they are an inevitable part of the human condition, from which no institution of any size will ever be immune. The challenge today is the ethos of law-enforcement. You see it in texts expressing disdain for lawmakers; in the above-it-all contempt for legislative oversight; in arrogant flouting of the Gang of Eight disclosure process for sensitive intelligence (because the FBI’s top-tier unilaterally decides when Bureau activities are “too sensitive” to discuss); in rogue threats to turn the government’s law-enforcement powers against Congress; and in the imperious self-perception of a would-be fourth branch of government, insulated from and unaccountable to the others — including its actual executive-branch superiors.

    I have been reading some of the OIG Report and here is an interesting section:

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Current Events, Law Enforcement, Politics | 29 Comments »

    The Current Range of Derangement

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th June 2018 (All posts by )

    I freely confess to having initially thought that when Donald Trump threw his hat into the political ring and began campaigning for election to the highest office in our fair land – it was a colossal joke and not one in particularly good taste. But I was never an adamant never-Trumper, and eventually came to think that hey – a wheeler-dealer Noo Yawk property developer (who after all HAD run a good-sized business enterprise for years) couldn’t possibly stuff up the job any more disastrously than He Who Dances With Teleprompters and his merry band of faculty lounge theorizers, career bureaucrats and second-gen beneficiaries of elite parental, fraternal or marital connections. In any case – I’d vote for practically anyone than Her Inevitableness the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, even if I had to pin my nostrils shut with C-clamp. So – what the hell. Reader, I voted for him. I have to admit that when it sends rabid lefty celebs like Robert De Niro into a spittle-flecked rant on live television, I am tempted to rub my hands together and cackle with evil glee like Mr. Burns in the Simpsons, watching them come unglued with their hate for flyover country and those denizens of it which also voted for him. A man is known in a large part by the character and quantity of his enemies; Trumps’ are as numerous and as varied as any collection of grotesqueries in a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

    So I started this post as yet another meditation on how ever-flipping-out-of-their minds the current iteration of Trump-haters are … and then the meeting in Singapore happened, and actually promises … maybe, if all goes well, a resolution to a war which started just before I was born, in a country to which my father was stationed as an Army draftee when I was born, in which I served for a year (three and a half decades later) and in which my daughter might very well have drawn duty in her turn. The Korean War – bloody and vicious, as we are reminded through M*A*S*H reruns – ended in an armistice and a heavily-armed border which slices the Korean peninsula into halves. Not anywhere equal halves, other than geographical.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, History, International Affairs, Korea, Obama, Politics, Trump, War and Peace | 27 Comments »

    “. . . the significant, blood-sport destruction of my business . . .”

    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd May 2018 (All posts by )

    Leon Cooperman: Two changes that could help fix what is wrong with our regulatory process:

    It seems logically manifest to me that something transpired between September 2016 and March 2017 that led to the Commission’s dramatically downwardly-revised settlement offer. Despite numerous attempts to ferret it out, I have been unsuccessful in getting a response, either from the current chairman or from his predecessor who oversaw my case (and who told me, when I saw her at a conference after she left office, that even innocent people often find settling with the government preferable to hazarding the system). As an American taxpayer, I believe that I deserve an answer to my question. And as an analytical person, it is hard for me to reconcile the significant, blood-sport destruction of my business that this matter has occasioned without understanding the dynamics behind the resolution from the Commission’s perspective.

    “Something transpired between September 2016 and March 2017” that led the SEC to dial back the brutality of its regulatory attack on Mr. Cooperman’s firm. I wonder what that something could have been?

    Elections have consequences. The Obama administration was so openly hostile to business, and so casually willing to use its power to reward allies and punish critics, that prominent business people were reluctant to criticize the Administration publicly, especially in the early days before the 2010 elections. If I recall, Mr. Cooperman was more courageous than most of his contemporaries in expressing public concern about Mr. Obama’s policies.

    As the man said, this is how you get more Trump.

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crony Capitalism, Law, Obama, Politics, Trump | 1 Comment »

    “Hey, Google. . .”

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th May 2018 (All posts by )

    Q: How old is the President?

    A: Barack Obama is 56 years old.

      

    Try it for yourself and report back.

    Posted in Leftism, Politics, Tech | 7 Comments »

    Preference Cascades and Past Elections

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th May 2018 (All posts by )

    So, I meant to write something sarcastic and slashing about … whatever over the last weekend, but I got distracted by life, and by a couple of different news reports – one of them being that Kanye West apparently has gotten in touch with his inner conservative and decided – for the moment – to come out enthusiastically for Trump. While not a particular fan of his brand of pop music and acknowledging that his judgement may not be all that – the man married a Kardashian, for g*d’s sake – I have never heard of anyone calling him a stupid man. Talented – yes, fabulously successful, and financially well-rewarded for exercising those talents; there must be more to him than pure dumb luck. Lamentable as it is to me that present-day celebrities wield more social influence than is good for them, and for us … that someone with that much influence in the black community is pointing out some self-evident truths must count for something. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Culture, Current Events, Obama, Politics, Trump | 21 Comments »

    Paying Higher Taxes Can be Very Profitable

    Posted by David Foster on 17th April 2018 (All posts by )

    (originally posted in 2010)

    Chevy Chase, MD, is an affluent suburb of Washington DC. Median household income is over $200K, and a significant percentage of households have incomes that are much, much higher. Stores located in Chevy Chase include Tiffany & Co, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saks-Jandel.

    PowerLine observed that during the 2008 election season, yards in Chevy Chase were thick with Obama signs–and wondered how these people were now feeling (in October 2009) about the prospect of sharp tax increases for people in their income brackets.

    The PowerLine guys are very astute, but I think they were missing a key point on this one. There are substantial groups of people who stood to benefit financially from the policies of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid triumvirate, and these benefits can greatly outweigh the costs of any additional taxes that these policies require them to pay. Many of the residents of Chevy Chase–a very high percentage of whom get their income directly or indirectly from government activities–fall into this category.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Politics, Taxes, USA | 4 Comments »

    Quote of the Day (Follow Up)

    Posted by Jonathan on 29th March 2018 (All posts by )

    Conrad Black:

    Mr. Trump isn’t the problem, but among the symptoms of the problem are that the director and deputy director of the FBI have been fired for cause as the Bureau virtually became the dirty-tricks arm of the Democratic National Committee, and that, as the Center for Media Studies and Pew Research have both recorded, 90% of national-press comment on Mr. Trump is hostile. Mr. Trump may have aggravated some of the current nastiness, but his chief offense has been breaking ranks with the bipartisan coalition that produced the only period of absolute and relative decline in American history.

    I think Black is too harsh on George W. Bush but this column is otherwise excellent.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Law, Law Enforcement, Media, North America, Politics, Systems Analysis, Tea Party, Trump | 3 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th March 2018 (All posts by )

    Conrad Black:

    Here are two current examples of [the failings of the legal system and of journalism]: Canadians don’t like Donald Trump, largely because his confident and sometimes boorish manner is un-Canadian. He is in some respects a caricature of the ugly American. But he has been relentlessly exposing the U.S. federal police (FBI) as having been politicized and virtually transformed into the dirty tricks division of the Democratic National Committee. Few now doubt that the former FBI director, James Comey, was fired for cause, and the current director, backed by the impartial inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility, asserts that Comey’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, was also fired for cause. There are shocking revelations of the Justice Department’s illegal use of the spurious Steele dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign, and of dishonest conduct in the Clinton email investigation, the propagation of the nonsense that Trump had colluded with Russia, and of criminal indiscretions and lies in sworn testimony by Justice officials. It is an epochal shambles without the slightest precedent in American history (certainly not the Watergate piffle), yet our media slavishly cling to a faded story of possible impeachable offences by the president.
     
    The American refusal to adhere to the Paris climate accord is routinely portrayed as anti-scientific heresy and possibly capitulation to corrupt oil interests. The world’s greatest polluters, China and India, did not promise to do anything in that accord; Europe uttered platitudes of unlimited elasticity, and Barack Obama, for reasons that may not be entirely creditable, attempted to commit the United States to reducing its carbon footprint by 26 per cent, at immense cost in jobs and money, when there is no proof that carbon has anything to do with climate and the United States under nine presidents of both parties has done more for the ecology of the world than any other country. Journalistic failure on this scale, and across most of what is newsworthy, added to an education system that is more of a Luddite day-care network, produces a steadily less informed public, who, while increasingly tyrannized by lawyers, elect less capable public office-holders.
     
    Lenin famously wrote: “What is to be done?” We must ask ourselves the same question but come up with a better answer than he did.

     

    Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Law, Law Enforcement, Media, North America, Politics, Systems Analysis, Tea Party, Trump | 8 Comments »

    Catalist, “The 480,” and The Real 480

    Posted by David Foster on 19th March 2018 (All posts by )

    (In the light of the Cambridge Analytica revelations and controversy. I thought this 2014 post might be due for a rerun)

    There has been much discussion recently of Catalist, a database system being used by the Democratic Party to optimally target their electioneering efforts…see Jonathan’s post here.  I’m reminded of Eugene Burdick’s 1964 novel, The 480.  The book’s premise is that a group within the Republican party acquires the services of a computing company called  Simulation Enterprises, intending to apply the latest technology and social sciences research in order to get their candidate elected.  These party insiders have been inspired by the earlier work of the 1960 Kennedy campaign with a company called Simulmatics.

    Simulmatics was a real company.  It was founded by MIT professor Ithiel de Sola Pool, a pioneer in the application of computer technology to social science research. Data from 130,000 interviews was categorized into 480 demographic groups, and an IBM 704 computer was used to process this data and predict the likely effects of various alternative political tactics.  One question the company was asked to address by the 1960 Democratic campaign, in the person of Robert F Kennedy, was:  How best to deal with religion?  There was considerable concern among some parts of the electorate about the prospect of choosing a Catholic as President.  Would the JFK campaign do better by minimizing attention to this issue, or would they do better by addressing it directly and condemning as bigots those who would let Kennedy’s faith affect their vote?

    Simulmatics concluded that “Kennedy today has lost the bulk of the votes he would lose if the election campaign were to be embittered by the issue of anti-Catholicism.  The simulation shows that there has already been a serious defection from Kennedy by Protestant voters. Under these circumstances, it makes no sense to brush the religious issue under the rug.  Kennedy has already suffered the disadvantages of the issue even though it is not embittered now–and without receiving compensating advantages inherent in it.”  Quantitatively, the study predicted that Kennedy’s direct addressing of the religion issue would move eleven states, totaling 122 electoral votes, away from the Kennedy camp–but would pull six states, worth 132 electoral votes, into the Democratic column.

    It is not clear how much this study influenced actual campaign decision-making…but less than three weeks after RFK received the Simulmatics report, JFK talked about faith before a gathering of ministers in Houston.  “I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end,”  Kennedy said,  “where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind.” (Burdick’s novel also suggests that the Kennedy campaign used Simulmatics to assess the effects of a more-forthright posture on civil rights by the campaign, and furthermore to analyze Kennedy’s optimal personality projection during the debates–I don’t know if these assertions are historically correct, but the religion analysis clearly was indeed performed.)

    Considerable excitement was generated when, after the election, the Simulmatics project became publicly known.  A Harper’s Magazine article referred to to the Simulmatics computer as “the people machine,” and quoted Dr Harold Lasswell of Yale as saying, “This is the A-bomb of the social sciences.  The breakthrough here is comparable to what happened at Stagg Field.”  But Pierre Salinger, speaking for the Kennedy campaign, asserted that “We did not use the machine.”  (Salinger’s statement is called out as a lie in the recent book, The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns.)

    In Burdick’s novel, the prospective Republican candidate is John Thatch, head of an international engineering and construction company.  Thatch has achieved popular renown after courageously defusing a confrontation between Indians and Pakistanis over a bridge his company was building, thereby averting a probable war.  Something about Thatch’s personality has struck the public imagination, and–despite his lack of political experience–he looks to be an attractive candidate.  But initially, the Republicans see little hope of defeating the incumbent Kennedy–“the incumbent is surrounded by over four years of honorific words and rituals,” a psychologist explains.  “He seems as though he ought to be President.  He assumes the mantle.”  This outlook is deeply disturbing to a Republican senior statesman named Bookbinder, who strongly believes that defacto 8-year terms are bad for the country…but if it is true that Kennedy is unbeatable, then the best the Republicans can hope to do is lose as well as possible.  Things change when Kennedy is assassinated and the election becomes a real contest.

    Bookbinder and Levi, another Republican senior statesman, are introduced to Simulation Enterprises by a young lawyer named Madison (Mad) Curver and his psychologist associate (quoted above), a woman named Dr Devlin.  Mad and Dr Devlin explain that what Sim Enterprises does is different from the work done by garden-variety pollsters like the one they have just met, Dr Cotter:

    “The pollster taps only a small fragment of the subject’s mind, attention, background, family influence, and habits.  The Simulations thing, just because it can consider thousands of elements influencing the subject, even things he may not know himself, gets much better results.”

    “And one further thing, Book,” Mad said.  “Simulations Enterprises can predict what people will do in a situation which they have never heard of before.  That was the whole point of the UN in the Midwest example.  No one has gone out there and asked them to vote on whether we should get out of the UN, but Dev outlined a procedure by which you can predict how they will react…if they ever do have to vote on it.

    Again Bookbinder had the sharp sense of unreality.  Unreal people were being asked invented questions and a result came out on green, white-lined paper…and when you got around to the real people six months later with the real question they would act the way the computer had said they would.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Elections, History, Human Behavior, Marketing, Obama, Politics, Polls, Predictions, Trump, USA | 14 Comments »

    The Sec of State Tillerson Firing

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 13th March 2018 (All posts by )

    There was no single reason for the Sec of State Tillerson Firing…there was a laundry list.

    According to various sources, Tillerson was pretty much against implementing President Trump’s foreign policy, trade and immigration agenda for Trump’s 2nd year as President and chaffed Pres. Trump over Russia besides:

    1. Tillerson was working with the EU to stop the President from tearing up the Iran deal.
    2. Tillerson wanted to remain in the TPP, TAP, & NAFTA.
    3. Tillerson was against NK talks.
    4. Tillerson was against China Tariffs.
    5. Tillerson wanted to remain in the Paris Climate accord.
    6. Tillerson did not support making Jerusalem the home of our embassy.
    7. Tillerson wanted to keep open borders/high refugee resettlement.
    8. Tillerson was talking that Russia affected our election results just before the Nunes Committee put a bullet in the head of the “Muh-Russia Collusion Delusion.”

    Working behind Pres. Trump’s back with the EU over maintaining Pres Obama’s Iran nuclear deal — which Pres. Trump wants eliminated and the abandoned sanctions reinstated — was the last straw for Tillerson.

    Discuss.

    Posted in Big Government, Current Events, International Affairs, Iran, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics | 34 Comments »