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July 26, 2016

Review Corner - City Journal

It's hard for me to judge this article (and forgive my usurpation of the TS style guide by posting an article), as it hits too close to home... and also is damn near a novella that this single-dad-with-long-commute has still failed to finish! Like so many sparkling articles in the past, Myron Magnet's offering on the growth of the administrative state (or what I've long called "the unelected government"), interestingly titled "Why are Voters so Angry?" is a tome.

He blames the birth on Wilson, the growth model on FDR, and the current expansion on the spinlessness of the USSC. It ranges articulately from Lois Lerner's transgressions (and John Koskinen's intransigence) to gritty analogies like

a new kind of government has grown up inside the old structure, like those parasites hatched in another organism that grow by eating up their host from within, until the adult creature bursts out of the hosts carcass. This transformation is not an evolution but a usurpation.

He provides no data I found that the voters' agree with his premise, and I'm too busy cheering him on to see if there are signals cited, but he has many examples

Unease over illegal immigration also has stoked todays fear that the government no longer belongs to the people, and its important to understand the separate but mutually reinforcing ways that it has done so.

submitted for your persual; 4 stars.

July 25, 2016

All Hail Taranto!


2016 Posted by John Kranz at 2:01 PM | What do you think? [0 comments]

Voters Who Know Better

Who'd've feared that constituency? Mary Anastasia O'Grady suggests Donald Trump.

Beating Nafta like a piñata worked in the Republican primary. But it is likely to hurt Mr. Trump and GOP candidates further down the ticket in the general election. Mexico is, after all, the U.S.s third-largest trading partner and second-largest export market.

Mr. Trump's trade tirades undermine his credibility with voters who know better. And that's a lot of voters. Americans from every walk of life are beneficiaries of U.S. global trade.

Indiana, the home of GOP vice-presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence, exported some $4.8 billion of goods to Mexico in 2015, making it the state's second-largest export market. That included $1.5 billion in transportation equipment, $1.4 billion in machinery and $88 million in corn-fructose products. More than 120,000 Hoosier jobs depend on trade with Mexico.

I find his comments on China just as disturbing. But there is some ambiguity about China. They are lax with intellectual property and autocratic -- a reasonable person might ask if they are perhaps currency manipulators or perhaps wish to extend the DH to the National League.

I disagree but that is at least getting into the arcane. "Fair trade!' "Level playing field!' "Guys with funky hair dating really hot chicks!" they say, and who can argue? But Nafta gives up the game. Nafta has been a gift to the world and it is demagoguery to suggest otherwise.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM | What do you think? [1 comments]
But johngalt thinks:

"Voters who know better" like Ms. Clinton herself:

"She recognizes that NAFTA was not the success it was supposed to be."

So now since they both want to "sit down and try to redo NAFTA" it is no longer a differentiator. Except for the different priorities each might emphasize during those negotiations.

Posted by: johngalt at July 26, 2016 5:33 PM

July 23, 2016

Is Trump a "Right-Liberal?"

And if so, why don't jk and dagny admire him?


I'm so perplexed by my relative willingness to rally on the "Trump Train" and so many of my friends and relatives unwillingness, I went back to the Political Coordinates Test for possible clues.

I don't know where Donald Trump would fall on the Political Coordinates graph but I would expect it to be "right-liberal." Not as right, and perhaps more liberal, than the ThreeSourcers in that quadrant, but this is admittedly a guess. Interestingly, Trump is positioning as the "law and order candidate." That is a strongly communitarian sentiment, but I doubt that is what turns off jk or dagny, or cements his appeal to jg's dad. It does appeal to moi, jg, however, despite my scoring as a "liberal" and not a communitarian.

I'll not overreach here and attempt too many conclusions. I just thought this line of examination might help explain some things. But I need some help getting there.

UPDATE (jk): I thought I'd try taking the test as I understand Donald Trump's positions.(It might be expanded into some original reporting with snippets of speeches or policy positions to back it up.) But the first question made me laugh so hard, I'm not certain I can continue:


UPDATE II (Still jk): Pfffft!


But johngalt thinks:

Admittedly it's an oversimplification that "being in my quadrant" means I'll admire a candidate. And if Trump truly "has no guiding principles" as is often charged, can he even be constrained to one quadrant or another? Perhaps my premise is faulty - maybe Trump is a left right-communitarian liberal? But I don't think so.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2016 5:59 PM
But jk thinks:

I am just as surprised at our impasse. I did a quick test with "my guesses" at Trump's answers. I was fair but not diligent. It truly would be a good piece of original reporting to do it right. Anybody want to join in?

Guesses got me 22.2% Right, 44.4% Communitarian. As Right as President George HW Bush and as Communitarian as President Reagan.

It's a superb argument. I don't find his positions inviolate, but you are correct to point out that he is fundamentally not too different and waaaaay closer than Sec. Clinton.

The convention speech was a gargantuan turn-off for me. The areas where we do agree I felt lacked depth and detail while the areas where we do not were both more forceful and more likely to have specific actions. "Build a wall," and "Renegotiate NAFTA" are clear. Reform regulation, cur taxes (without any spending cuts) were amorphous catch-phrases.

You have defended his trade and immigration restrictions as seeking both fair and legal. He highlighted Nafta and China's entrance to the WTO in his speech, to pin them on (President William Jefferson) Clinton.

WOW! This kicked off an impressive economic boom and lifted millions of Mexicans and billions of Chinese out of poverty. My gripe with (Sec. Hillary Rodham) Clinton is that she casually discards these amazing successes of her husband because they no longer have currency in the Party of Sens. Sanders and Warren.

But, if those don't make the grade on Trump's list, I daresay no trade will.

Posted by: jk at July 23, 2016 7:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:


I tried to guess Trump's answers too. I wanted to compare my version of Trump to yours. I tried to be fair too, and left some answers neutral if I didn't have a sense of what Trump would pick. If I had an inkling but wasn't certain, I gave it the mid-way response.

Where you scored Trump 22.2% Right, 44.4% Communitarian, I have him 44.4% Right, 30.6% Communitarian.

The same neighborhood, with differences only in degree. Not a Right-Liberal, as many putative conservatives have charged, but one suspects that anyone not as far right as they are would earn the label "liberal" even if he is still right of center.

I humbly request that you add these dots to your chart. I think they are informative, especially if you include the dots for Presidents Bush, Reagan, Obama and Clinton. (Noteworthy: Obama scored 67% left but only 33% liberal. A reminder that "liberal" isn't the threat conservatives should fear, leftism is.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2016 1:11 PM

"Strongman" or LEO-in-Chief?

Democrat pollster Doug Schoen on Trump's nomination speech:

I don't believe that the pundits necessarily will give this speech high marks and in my own terms, Trump did not do anything that he has not done before on the campaign trail. But what he did do is present a vision of America, a path forward, and a vision of leadership that is very, very different than what the country has had for the last eight years.

No, not a dark and authoritarian direction. A safe and secure and prosperous one. A different course than the one Hillary and her former boss have steered for nigh on eight years.

But shes got another challenge, and one that is perhaps larger than what she expected. She needs to address the issues of law and order, safety, and security, as well as terrorism, in the way that Trump presented them given the challenges that we are all facing as Americans.

The other challenge Secretary Clinton will have is to make the case for globalism and for our role in the world.

Trump explicitly and clearly ruled it out.

He said that we need to put America first and put America before our role in the world. This goes against the credo and the values of American culture and foreign policy. But at a time when wages are stagnated, jobs are disappearing, and people are increasingly at risk and facing threats both at home and abroad, it may well be enough to turn an election that was beginning to appear issueless into the most profound, prominent, and I dare say, nation determinative contest in recent memory.

And what is really wrong with putting America's oxygen mask on first, before setting out to rescue the world from its problems?


And then there's the CNN polling on the speech.

July 22, 2016

All Hail Charles Koch!

Half the Koch Brothers have a superb guest editorial in the WSJ today, citing "dangerous signs that the U.S. is turning its back on the principles of a free and open society that fostered the nation's rise."

Despite our enormous potential for further progress, a clear majority of Americans see a darker future. Some 56% believe their children's lives will be worse off than their own, according to a January CNN poll. A Rasmussen poll released the following month found that 46% believe America's best days are behind it. Little more than a third believe better days lie ahead.

I empathize with this fear. The U.S. is already far down the path to becoming a less open and free society, and the current cultural and political atmosphere threatens to make the situation worse: Growing attacks on free speech and free association, hostile rhetoric toward immigrants, fear that global trade impoverishes rather than enriches, demands that innovators in cutting-edge industries first seek government permission.

Much worth a read in full.

But johngalt thinks:

Pollyanna here. I look at the half-full portion of the glass. It's just my nature.

"Growing attacks on free speech and free association"?

An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.

I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans.

"Hostile rhetoric toward immigrants"?

I only want to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people. Anyone who endorses violence, hatred or oppression is not welcome in our country and never will be.

"Fear that global trade impoverishes rather than enriches"?

I pledge to never sign any trade agreement that hurts our workers, or that diminishes our freedom and independence. Instead, I will make individual deals with individual countries.

No longer will we enter into these massive transactions, with many countries, that are thousands of pages long – and which no one from our country even reads or understands.

"Demands that innovators in cutting-edge industries first seek government permission"?

Sorry, never heard of that one.

Yes, I'm picking the most favorable messages on each subject. In fairness, I'll try to find the worst and we can see just how much "damage" they portend.

In the end, it's all just words. That's all any politician has to campaign on, with regard to the future. With regard to the past, Donald isn't a politician so he has no record. But Hillary does.

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2016 7:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Upon reflection I've decided that there are enough folks finding the worst possible interpretation of what, in the eyes of seventy-three percent of poll respondents, constitutes the "Right Direction" for our country. They don't need my help.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2016 11:04 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm going to accuse my blog brother of "doth protesting too much."

This was not a Trump post. The excerpt, perhaps, conveys my shared concern with both parties' aversion to free movement of people and goods. Trumps calls for regulatory reform -- though thin on specifics -- would be a positive against "asking permission."

For all their differences, the shock to many a liberty-lover is how easily the Bush and Obama Administrations can be referred to as one 16-year period of contiguous government growth. I think Koch is decrying that and seeing no obvious relief -- or even lip service -- from teh current candidates.

Posted by: jk at July 23, 2016 1:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I beg your pardon. I had only read the excerpt. It gave me a different impression of the article.

The article itself reminded me of two things:

One is a new book, 'The Closing of the Liberal Mind' about political correctness and groupthink on college campuses, from which much of the Koch article could have sprung.

The other is Leonard Peikoff's 'The Ominous Parallels' which has an updated version called 'The Cause of Hitler's Germany.'

Peikoff argues that unreason and collectivism — in such forms as self-sacrifice, Oriental mysticism, racial "truth," the public good, and doing one's duty — were the ideas that led Germany to totalitarian statism.

All of these ideas are clearly represented in the established Democratic and Republican traditions. My "Two Faces of Trump" post argued that Trump is the antidote to this. He doesn't follow dogmatic "principle" rather, he trusts what "works." It is quite possible that his "seat of the pants" philosophy is more pro-liberty than any of the so-called "principled" schools of thought.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2016 3:14 PM

Not Placated

To be fair, I have frequently chastised Reason magazine for "doth protesting too much" at Republican nominees. I feel liberty would have been better served had Gov. Romney or even Sen. McCain beaten our current president. I don't expect them to get into line, but I've thought them too harsh.

This is a new year, baby. This is a new era. Peter Suderman nails my thoughts:

Trump's entire speech was packed with threats and power grabs, details be damned. It was a speech about how government should be made bigger and stronger and given more authority over every part of American life, and government, in most cases, simply meant Donald Trump himself. It was an argument for unlimited government under a single man, for rule by Trump's whim. He sounded less like he was running for president and more like he was campaigning to be an American despot.

Dark days. Hat-tip to his lovely bride, Megan McArdle on Facebook

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM | What do you think? [4 comments]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Autocrat. Where have I seen that word before?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 22, 2016 12:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"It was a speech about how government should be made bigger and stronger and given more authority over every part of American life, and government, in most cases, simply meant Donald Trump himself. It was an argument for unlimited government under a single man, for rule by Trump's whim.

That is the assertion by Washington D.C. film critic, Peter Suderman.

You know, Trump's campaign kickoff may be nothing more than words, but at least reference something specific from the speech when you spin it to match your personal viewpoint. Unless you can't.

Where Suderman somehow heard "bigger government" and "more authority" I simply heard, enforce the laws we already have. Personally I would add, "and get rid of the ones that don't deserve to be enforced" but I didn't help write the speech.

His general election campaign has just begun, folks. While every other politician in history is excused for "pivoting" from the primary to the general, may the businessman be allowed at least a little deference in this area too?

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2016 10:18 AM
But jk thinks:

I've enjoyed that film critic's work for many years.

Peter Suderman is a managing editor at Reason.com, where he writes regularly on health care, the federal budget, tech policy, and pop culture. He is also a film critic for The Washington Times and a 2010 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.

Before joining Reason, Suderman worked as a writer and editor at National Review, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, Doublethink, and Culture11. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Newsweek.com, theAtlantic.com, the Washington Examiner, The New Atlantis, The American Conservative, the Orange County Register, and numerous other publications. He lives in Washington, D.C.

I posted it because it conveyed my own impressions of the speech -- with terrifying accuracy. Your excerpt is exactly what I heard. While they were not included in the CNN poll, the bulk of my Facebook feed felt the same.

Yeah, Reason can be out there. But I don't think they're for off this time.

Posted by: jk at July 23, 2016 1:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Okay then, Suderman didn't do it but can you cite the line from the speech that conveyed to you "bigger government" or "unlimited government?" The only appearance of either of those adjectives is - "It is time to show the whole world that America Is Back - bigger, and better and stronger than ever before."

This right below "I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans. We can accomplish these great things, and so much more - all we need to do is start believing in ourselves and in our country again."

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2016 6:02 PM

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