For these reasons the Peloponnesians fear our irrational audacity more than they would ever have done a more commensurate preparation.
Book Two of Thucydides' Peloponnesian War begins with high hopes -- hubris if I may borrow from Greek hybris. The Athenian coffers are full and her Navy staffed and equipped in fine form. Sparta is comfortable and confident in the role of Hellenic hedgemon and unparalleled in hoplite warfare on land.
And if both sides nourished the boldest hopes and put forth their utmost strength for the war, this was only natural. Zeal is always at its height at the commencement of an undertaking; and on this particular occasion the Peloponnesus and Athens were both full of young men whose inexperience made them eager to take up arms, while the rest of Hellas stood straining with excitement at the conflict of its leading cities.
Spoiler alert: things don't go quite as well as either side predicts.
A herald is sent from Sparta with a final offer of settlement, but Pericles "having already carried a motion against admitting either herald or embassy from the Spartans after they had once marched out. The herald was accordingly sent away without an audience."
When he reached the frontier and was just going to be dismissed, he departed with these words: "This day will be the beginning of great misfortunes to the Hellenes."
Spoiler alert II: the herald was correct.
The first two books introduce three styles of battle which dominate the conflict. Sparta dominated hoplite, infantry warfare. Male children were raised by the state to be brave warriors. Plutarch (Mor. 241) says that mothers would tell sons leaving for battle to "return with your shield or on it." Athens, by comparison, ruled the seas in trireme warfare whose main object was to ram the brass prow broadside into the opponent's vessel. One can see why others underestimated the skill and seamanship required to excel at this.
The third was the siege of the city or "Circumvallation." Surround the city walls, keep food and supplies out and the people in, while laying to waste the agriculture outside the city. Though naval and infantry combat changed mightily in 2000 years, the siege would look pretty similar to the residents of Richmond toward the end of the American Civil War.
The siege of Plataea begins in Book Two (2.2, 2.71) and includes one of my favorite stories. I recommend a guest post in the Roundtable by A. E. Clark for a more detailed strategic look at the Plataean siege; I write for a general audience of cowards and non-combatants like myself.
J. E. Lendon's Song of Wrath [Review Corner] discusses the Greek Virtues of timé and metis. (I leave the accent mark on the é as an exercise to the reader, Lendon uses a solid line atop, I see many variations of the Internet.) Time is honor, worth, valor. I attribute it to the brave Lacedaemonian hoplite general who dies in his place without uttering a single sound.
In carnage conflict. time is indeed a prized virtue. But I am a fan of metis. or cunning. And we see metis in the actions of the Plataeans. The Spartans grow weary of waiting them out and begin constructing ramps up to the wall so they can get into the city and end the conflict. In a plot worthy of a Gilligan's Island episode, the Plataeans tunnel under the wall at night and remove earth from the bottom of the mound as fast as the Spartans are adding it on top.
Time versus metis recurs frequently through Thucydides. I defer to my strategic superiors on the Roundtable, but I suspect it continues through today.
It will take a while for wounds to heal. My hero has been awfully loose with principle (though never principal) in this turbulent election cycle. But, if the FBI and James Comey get a "Do-Over," I suppose the spirit of redemption will prevail.
Kudlow pens a home-run column on the reopening of the investigation and Churchill's appendix.
As I pondered this on Friday afternoon, I had a faint recollection of Winston Churchill describing a tough loss in an MP election. Hat tip to Susan Varga, who located this Churchill gem: "In a twinkling of an eye, I found myself without an office, without a seat, without a party, and without an appendix." Churchill had his appendix taken out during that election, which took place in 1922.
So let's see here. Anthony Weiner lost his office and his seat. And while I don't know about his appendix, he did lose his marriage for referring to matters below the waist.
And Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's aide and Weiner's soon to be ex-wife, may well lose her seat and her office, although I couldn't find any information about her appendix, despite a long Google search.
On the other hand, the FBI's bombshell that it is reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server may well cause the Democratic presidential candidate to lose her office, her seat and her party. As to the condition of her appendix, we'll just have to guess, since no one knows the state of her deteriorating health.
Poetry. Hat-tip Blog friend Sugarchuck on Facebook.
I'd like to think that Walter Williams is wrong. But that is rarely a good bet.
Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein writes in his book "The Dumbest Generation": Tradition "serves a crucial moral and intellectual function. ... People who read Thucydides and Caesar on war, and Seneca and Ovid on love, are less inclined to construe passing fads as durable outlooks, to fall into the maelstrom of celebrity culture, to presume that the circumstances of their own life are worth a webpage.
Here on "Occupy Democrats" [fourth comment] we believe in giving equal time to both sides. Never Trumper Jonah Goldberg had his say below. As a Never Hillaryer ? I now give you Trump's Gettysburg speech, made yesterday. After a 10-minute intro by America's Governor, once a jk fave, Trump's remarks begin at 10:00. If you click play, however, you will start at what I feel is the meat of the speech where he discusses the raison d'etre of the "establishment," how it uses corruption to cling to power, and his proposal to change Washington and restore economic power to the voters, not the special interests. Enjoy!
I look forward to happier days and feel a little bad just delivering an argument (which includes but is not limited to ad hominem) from the King of the Never Trumpers.
But I cannot disagree with anything said here. We've covered most, but the ~9:40 part contradicts even the anti-Political Correctness and adds to the discussion. He will use it to suit himself, but "he's against being held accountable for political correctness."
This might be the last one of the campaign, but it certainly encapsulates what I believe.
A friend of mine insisted to me the other day that if the NeverTrumpers, women, and Republican friendly independents rallied to Trump he'd be in the lead. That's true. It’s also true that between me and Charles Koch, our combined assets are in excess of $40 billion. -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]
The establishment also recoiled in horror from Milwaukee Sheriff Dave Clarke's declaration that it is now "torches and pitchforks time."
Yet, some of us recall another time, when Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in "Points of Rebellion":
"We must realize that today's Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution."
Baby-boomer radicals loved it, raising their fists in defiance of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
But now that it is the populist-nationalist right that is moving beyond the niceties of liberal democracy to save the America they love, elitist enthusiasm for "revolution" seems more constrained.
Again, the October Surprises this year all confirm your impressions.
I mean, who would have thought -- except everybody -- that Sec. Clinton is a craven and rapacious political opportunist with no core principles? Gambling? At Rick's?
What does Hillary Clinton really believe? Does she have strong beliefs about anything? A new raft of emails from the Clinton camp give us reason to doubt.
The documents show the Clinton advisors carefully and meticulously messaging the Clinton position on a wide range of issues--on everything from the Keystone pipeline to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). As they emailed back and forth, the advisors carefully weighed the costs and benefits (in terms of votes, campaign contributions and favorable or unfavorable publicity) of nuanced positions.
On a great many issues, Clinton has changed her positon--including gay marriage, the TPPA and the pipeline--over the nine-year period covered by the emails. The Clinton advisors anguish over how to position theses changes without appearing to be "cynically" chasing votes or giving the appearance of "putting a finger to the wind."
But there appears to be no email exchange where anyone discusses what Clinton actually believes about any issue at all.
Hillary brought up "toddlers" a few more times, because little children are mostly adorable and no one wants to see them shot. -- David Harsanyi (all hail)
Pretty good debate last night. I loathe Mr. Trump's positions on immigration and trade, but seriously did consider voting for him in a lesser-of-two-very-evil-evils capacity.
Sec. Clinton's answer on DC v Heller sent me into apoplectic rage. Dick Heller was a licensed Police Officer and, one suspects, potty trained. He carried a firearm in Federal Buildings as part of his employment but was denied private ownership in his sketchy DC neighborhood. His obvious competence and the District's absence of State law made him an ideal plaintiff.
Sec. Clinton's continual musings of toddlers was disingenuous to the extreme -- even by Clinton standards.
The precipitous drop in football viewing threatens sports, the prevailing content distribution paradigm, and the American way.
But that average is still down from 20.1 million viewers over the same time frame last year, which is concerning to networks and anyone else banking on the future of linear TV -- because if the NFL isn't immune to ratings drops, what is?
My conservative buddies (swell bunch of folks -- salt of the Earth, really) are pretty certain that is an effective boycott against those Colin-Kaepernickking traitors who won't stand for FS Key's masterpiece. And, to be fair, it is amusing to watch ESPN and the rest of the lefty media purposely not even mention it. ("Don't mention the War!" as Basil Fawlty would say) .
I'll accept that at the margins, but I am not buying 11%. The CNN article mentions Peyton Manning and four Brady-less weeks. I think that's it, but want to expand the specific case to the general.
I like Cam Newton and Richard Sherman. Both are emotional, demonstrative competitors and I might throw in Phil Rivers for a little racial balance. But the legends of the past mixed equanimity with passion. And I posit that Peyton Manning's retirement was a tipping point way from the classy leadership of the past.
I'm unusually bullish for the NFL's future. I think they have a great product. Concussions will be figured out by rule or technology, they might someday figure out what a catch is and speed up replay -- all these problems are superable. But they need a new generation of leadership, and I'm not certain that that can be cultivated.
We haven't argued about this in a while. Largely, I believe, because Trump's positions were just populist slogans with little in the way of detail behind them. Two co-authors, Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, change that with an RCP piece called "The Trump Trade Doctrine: A Path to Growth & Budget Balance." You might have noticed that it doesn't say, "and more American jobs." But that's because the jobs are a consequence, not a protectionist windfall.
Budget-deficit hawks often insist that the only way to balance the Federal budget is to raise taxes or cut spending. The far smarter path to balance the budget is simply to grow our economy faster.
No argument here, right? This is supply-side 101 and, in my mind at least, is a fantastic open to the article. I think I'm gonna like these guys.
You will notice we have not mentioned tariffs. They will be used if necessary against mercantilist cheating, but only in a very precise and defensive way.
Ultimately, our view is that doing nothing about unfair trade practices is the most hazardous course of action - and the results of this hazard are lived out every day by millions of displaced American workers and deteriorating communities. We simply cannot trade on their one-sided terms; they are just too destructive to the U.S. growth process.
I encourage the wonks to read the whole thing, and I expect there are elements you will be critical of (i.e. sell commodities to foreign companies to offset the deficit of buying their value-added goods) but on the whole it does look a lot more like fair trade than no trade.
Well the race is on and here comes Trump in the back stretch...
Anyone who follows election news has the impression that Hillary leads in all the polls, some of them by double-digits, and has a commanding lead in the electoral college count (based on state-by-state polling.) Furthermore, Trump is "an idiot" and "self-destructing" and Republican office holders are "abandoning him in droves."
Investor's Business Daily IBD/TIPP Poll shows that Trump trailed Clinton until they tied in September, and Trump has been pulling ahead ever since.
I found some of the internals rather revealing. Specifically:
In the "Household Description" crosstab Trump and Clinton are roughly tied among Middle and Upper/Upper Middle class households, while Trump has a 5-point lead with Working class households and a whopping 16-point lead with Lower class households.
Trump leads with Parents (14 points) while Hillary leads with Non-Parents (4 points).
Perhaps the most telling of all, however, falls in the "Zeitgeist" category. That is, "Who do you think is most likely to win?"
Overall it's 50% for Clinton, 20% for Trump and 19% for "too close to call."
78% of Democrats predict Hillary wins.
44% of Republicans say it's too close to call.*
And more Independents expect Trump to win than Clinton - 44% vs 29%.
* The Republican totals are suspect, since they also list 82% believe Trump will win. That plus the 44 percent saying it's too close and the 6 percent who expect a President Hillary adds up to 132 percent. If only one of these numbers is in error, my money is on the 82%. Not that many Republicans I know are so sanguine.
I'm kidding about Ford equity, and have my grumpy-guy-who-has-been-disappointed-before dark glasses on. But does anyone doubt that this is what the solution to climate change will look like? Rather than some treaty signed in some foreign capital?
Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have discovered a chemical reaction to turn CO2 into ethanol, potentially creating a new technology to help avert climate change. Their findings were published in the journal ChemistrySelect.
The researchers were attempting to find a series of chemical reactions that could turn CO2 into a useful fuel, when they realized the first step in their process managed to do it all by itself. The reaction turns CO2 into ethanol, which could in turn be used to power generators and vehicles.
The Popular Mechanics article claims "The process is cheap, efficient, and scalable, meaning it could soon be used to remove large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere."
UPDATE: Tangentially related -- and totally awesome: Cartoon notes on Matt Ridley's speech.
For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence, the several tribes readily abandoning their homes under the pressure of superior numbers.  Without commerce, without freedom of communication either by land or sea, cultivating no more of their territory than the necessities of life required, destitute of capital, never planting their land (for they could not tell when an invader might not come and take it all away, and when he did come they had no walls to stop him), thinking that the necessities of daily sustenance could be supplied at one place as well as another, they cared little about shifting their habitation, and consequently neither built large cities nor attained to any other form of greatness.
The Thucydides Roundtable begins tomorrow. I see from the ground rules that I am foresworn to not post before the official opening, so publishing will be deferred. There are some very serious and esteemed participants. Being just a humble commenter, I will be free to be me, and likely the only one making fart jokes.
The Roundtable participants are united in appreciation for military strategy. Certainly my weakest link but I hope to pick up some things over the next eight weeks. I'm, of course, more attuned to political philosophy. The American Founders and the European Thinkers I admire were all well versed in Thucydides and I enjoy sharing a bit of foundation. Lincoln cribbed the Gettysburg Address substantively from Pericles's Funeral Oration (2.35 2.46).
But my takeaway from Book One is its influence on Thomas Hobbes. Twenty two years before he wrote Leviathan and proclaimed the life of man in natural state to be "nasty, brutish, and short," Hobbes completed the first English translation of "Eight Books of the Peloponnesian Warre." There is a surfeit of nasty, brutish, and short in the life of your average Ancient Grecian and the introductory quote supports Hobbes's contention that there is no "Mine or Thine" in a natural state.
Book One, or the Pentecontaetia, describes the almost 50 years between the defeat of the Persians by a United Hellas with Sparta and Athens on the same team and the start of the Peloponnesian War.
All these actions of the Hellenes against each other and the barbarian occurred in the fifty years' interval between the retreat of Xerxes and the beginning of the present war. During this interval the Athenians succeeded in placing their empire on a firmer basis, and themselves advanced their own power to a very great height.
This quote -- and indeed the entirety of Book One -- supports the observations of J. E. Lendon's "Song of Wrath" [Review Corner] that Athens felt it had achieved equity with Sparta and no longer wanted to be treated as an inferior.
Looking forward to a great eight weeks! In addition to strategy, and history, and politics. Thucydides reminds us of timeless wisdom and the author is an engaging character:
So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand. -- Thucydides. The Landmark Thucydides
I will be kind and share the only paragraph from Jonah's G-File moderately kind to the Republican nominee:
I honestly can't get my head around the fact that Hillary Clinton's closing "argument" in this election is sexual harassment. Bill Clinton's lifelong enabler has managed to turn this topic into a deadly weapon against a Republican nominee. This is like Godzilla turning public safety into a winning issue in the Tokyo mayoral race.
I flirted with a Trump vote out of my sagacious Blog Brother's counsel and an overwhelming desire to see Sec. Clinton denied her ambition. Gollum losing the ring would pale in comparison.
Alas it is not to be. Shikha Dalmia hammers the final coffin nails. She is less than impressed with the argument that Supreme Court picks are a good reason to vote for Trump.
Trump would be FDR on steroids. He savaged Judge Gonzalo Curiel's "Mexican" heritage because the judge didn't dismiss the case against Trump University. If something as low stakes as this can set Trump off, imagine what he'll do if the Supreme Court takes up a challenge to a signature issue of his presidency? A Trump presidency is likely to be a rolling wave of one manufactured constitutional crisis after another.
More importantly, she nails (same metaphor different usage) my institutional concerns:
It is because a Trump presidency will have a transformative effect on the GOP itself. Indeed, by the time he's done, the GOP will have little use for originalism or limited government. Whatever the external threat a Clinton presidency represents to these ideas, the internal threat that Trump poses is far greater.
The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers . . . all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones . . . while at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. -- Washington Post November 11, 1922:
I wasn't going to read Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger. You're welcome to scoff at this pious assertion but I try to avoid red meat stuff that I'm certain to agree with unless it promises new insight or information. And, as the book is obviously based on their regular contributions to the Cato blog, I had probably read most of it.
But I got the Kindle sample and could not stop when the sample did. It is a collection of their individual essays, reworked to be current and cohesive. And it is an entertaining read. You'll "one more" your way through it in short order.
Oddly for Review Corner,. I am going to lead with a critique. And that is that I suspect the authors not to be Lukewarmers. Like Bill Maher and libertarian, I don't get to judge who can use the term, yet one feels that they are skeptics-bordering-on-deniers who have found respectability in a crowd of ambiguity. Ronald Baily of Reason and Matt Ridley (all Hail Lord Ridley!) make it clear that there might well be serious ramifications to climate change down the road. One does not sense that Michaels and Knappenberger quite buy in:
One wonders how familiar the 240 authors of the 2013 draft National Climate Assessment are with Karl Popper's famous essay on the nature of science and its distinction from "pseudoscience." The essential difference is that science only explains some things and that its hypotheses forbid others, while a theory that is not refutable by any conceivable event (i.e., one that is universally and comprehensively explanatory) is pseudoscience. For Popper, science is characterized by risky predictions (such as gravitational lensing of light in relativity), while pseudoscience does not lend itself to such testing.
In the Assessment's 1,200 horror-studded pages, almost everything that happens in our complex world-- sex, birth, disease, death, hunger, and wars, to name a few-- is somehow made worse by pernicious emissions of carbon dioxide and the joggling of surface average temperature by a mere two degrees.
Acceptance of "lukewarming" sometimes seems bolted on. One does not have to plumb the depths of the opposition to hear that critique. Though, to be fair, it should by definition include diverse thought.
With that complaint out of the way, this is a jewel to read and have as a collection to popular arguments for drastic action. The authors are not totally keen on ethanol.
Multiplying all those percentages reveals that the United States is burning a bit more than 4 percent of total global main crop production in an attempt to mitigate a purportedly climate-driven loss of 3 percent in global crop production. Looked at that way, this policy is about as crazy as burning witches because of climate change and associated crop failures during the Little Ice Age.
I'll give it 4.5 stars and a hearty recommendation -- though more for the ThreeSourcer and less for your Sophomore niece at Berkeley.
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. -- Thomas Jefferson
Lukewarmers continue to be dismayed by the absolute disregard for logic that pervades the global warming issue.
Don Boudreaux pens a column that will appeal to ThreeSourcers. But, more importantly, it might reach some rational folks who have not yet joined the choir.
This "change-the-world" idea is, at best, juvenile. At worst it is downright dangerous.
I'm certain that there's a great deal in the world that could be changed for the better. But I'm equally certain that no such beneficial change will be achieved by social-engineering performed by politicians and other government officials.
The world changes for the better incrementally, bit by bit, and experimentally. Smith opens a new restaurant in competition with Jones's established restaurant, and consumers -- spending their own money -- ultimately decide if one or the other or both is to continue operating or shut down. This competition changes the world very slightly: the restaurant scene in this town is improved. Williams breaks his addiction to alcohol and returns to school to learn a trade; his success at getting a job as a machinist or electrician improves the world. Johnson invents a new app to help birdwatchers keep track of interesting sightings; this advance, too, changes the world.
The whole thing is not much longer than the excerpt. Share it with some misguided person you love.
There have been a few cases where a voter has been shown to have difficulty obtaining an ID to vote. I remember two, but accept that it happens on some level. One person was 100+ and had a Y2K-ish issue getting records retrieved.
I'll confess that each of these is a tragedy if it truly disenfranchises a legitimate voter. Yet these are paraded in the media -- "See! You cannot possibly require identification. Lulabelle Mae here will be stripped of her rights!"
There is a curious zero-sum math to elections which is ignored. If, say, 19 fraudulent registrations were to be found in, oh a swing State, say Virginia...
It's election season, which means Democrats are again pushing the line that voter fraud is a myth. Allow us to introduce them to the 19 dead registered voters in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Harrisonburg Registrar Debbie Logan late last week acknowledged that her office had fielded 19 fraudulent applications, submitted under the names of dead Virginians. The fraud came to light because a long-time clerk saw an application under the name of Richard Claybrook Sr., the deceased father of a well-known local judge. The elder Claybrook died in 2014.
According to news reports, investigators have obtained a confession from Andrew Spieles, a James Madison University student working for a voter registration shop called HarrisonburgVOTES. The outfit purports to be nonpartisan, but it is run by Joe Fitzgerald, the chairman of his congressional district's Democratic Committee, and Mr. Spieles is a member of Virginia Young Democrats.
I expect that opponents of Voter ID will say that that is only 19. And they might have a point.
If I rounded up 19 people who were not able to get ID's and put their faces on the Evening News (oh please, oh please, let them be minorities) there would be an outcry of epic proportions. And yet, by filing 19 false votes you are disenfranchising exactly 19 legitimate voters just as surely as if you said "sorry sir, no handicapped transgendered Hispanic Jews are allowed to cast ballots. Thank you and have a nice day"
Yet these 19 are not on teevee. They are Bastiat's unseen but thye have surely been disenfranchised.
If Donald Trump could make the case for Donald Trump half as well as Mike Pence makes the case for Donald Trump, the New York businessman would be well on his way to the White House. That's our conclusion from Tuesday's vice presidential debate, in which the Indiana Governor made the sustained case against the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama status quo in Washington that Mr. Trump should have made last week.
My first thought last night was that President Obama and Sec. Clinton obviously had a side bet" "Betcha can't find a creepier running mate that VP Joe Biden!" Pay up, Barack!
I have always liked Pence. He wears his religious on his sleeve too much to be my dream candidate, but he is the real deal -- A Republican right out of central casting. Great demeanor. I thought he killed last night and that his opponent was the squirreliest (with apologies to squirrels), most oleaginous little bastard since Sen. John Edwards.
Does it push me to Trump? Kelleyanne Conway was brilliant telling reporters that "this proves he will hire the best talent." Or does it just increase the ache for a real candidate?
UPDATE: Jim Geraghty questions the Democrats' devotion to attack.
Do you think there are many Americans out there, watching a vice-presidential debate, who haven't heard the criticisms against Trump? Do you think that Trump's supporters are backing him because they think he's polite? Do you think the race is close because Hillary and the Democrats haven’t attacked Trump enough, or do you think it's because not enough Americans think she’ll actually improve their lives in any meaningful ways?
Agreed -- there are serious diminishing returns to personal attacks.
UPDATE II: All Hail!
We found Pence to be more impressive than any candidate who ran for president this year, in either party. The comparison may be unfair: Pence never had to debate Trump, and the multicandidate primary debate format tends to make everyone look small. But we saw a bit of Reagan in Pence, the white hair notwithstanding. With his calm demeanor and soothingly authoritative voice, he came across as serious and mature. -- James Taranto
I suggested in a comment on some blog somewhere that Donald Trump lacked work ethic. I received very responsible pushback: Trump is not some basement dwelling ne'er do well and his campaign has been incredibly active and vigorous.
Undaunted, however, I suggested that he enjoys the rallies and media jousting. He does not enjoy debate prep, or get-out-the-vote minutia, so he doesn't do them. "He likes to play gigs but not practice scales" I tried to say.
But Jim Geraghty reminds us of this admission of weakness from an ally:
Consider George H. Ross, Mr. Trump's real-estate lawyer for 30 years, who describes himself as the businessman's "closest advisor." In Mr. Ross's 2006 how-to manual, "Trump-Style Negotiation: Powerful Strategies and Tactics for Mastering Every Deal," he observes: "To my knowledge, Donald Trump has no negotiating weaknesses except maybe the fact that he doesn't like to discuss minor details. He lacks the patience to work on unimportant paperwork, because he likes to focus on the big picture as a more productive usage of his time."
Mr. Ross admires Mr. Trump, but he thinks this indifference is a fairly lethal weakness. Bad negotiators share an "inability to focus on the details," he explains elsewhere in the book. "Trust me when I say the devil is in the details." Then he adds: "You want to be the expert on the topic under negotiation" (his italics). Mr. Ross even advises readers who wind up across the negotiating table with "someone who thinks like Donald Trump" to offer to bore his subordinate with the minutiae. "This gives you complete control over the documentation process and who will make the day-to-day decisions. You have uncovered the real deal maker for your transaction--and it's not the boss."
Apprentice fans may know Ross as "the bald older gentleman with glasses who sat next to Trump on The Apprentice." I just watched the episodes with Penn Jillette and don't remember much. But I think he has explained Trump's debate performance. And one weakness that I share with Mister Trump.
All those sophisticated advisors are not really getting through. Mary Anastasia O'Grady at the WSJ is -- like me -- pretty concerned about Donald Trump's Nafta demagoguery.
Mr. Trump is so reckless on trade that he makes Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, who wrote the book on Big Labor protectionism, seem sane. At least she acknowledged in the debate the importance of opening new markets abroad. "We are 5% of the world’s population. We have to trade with the other 95%," she said.
Unfortunately neither of the candidates is good on this critical issue but the Republicans advising Mr. Trump should know better. His attempt to slam Nafta by pointing to a 16% value-added tax that Mexican importers pay, for example, is misleading. This tax applies to transactions on both foreign and domestic-made goods, like the New York sales tax. It doesn't discriminate against imports, and the importer recovers it by charging it to the customer. That's Econ 101.
I know, I've said this before. But a key add is the edge in competitiveness from a Nafta supply chain.
Mr. Trump gave a quick nod to one genuine U.S. disadvantage during the debate when he talked about cutting U.S. corporate tax rates to spur investment at home. But his main message was that under Nafta Mexico is "stealing" U.S. jobs.
In fact, an interconnected North American economy has made U.S. manufacturing globally competitive. U.S. companies source components from Mexico and Canada and add value in innovation, design and marketing. The final outputs are among the most high-quality, low-price products in the world.
That, and low-cost fracking energy is makin' America pretty great.
This claim is untrue. Nothing at all in economic theory says that it's abnormal for a country to run trade deficits for over a decade, or even for over a century. Nothing in economic theory implies that years, decades, or even centuries of unbroken annual trade deficits are evidence of 'unfair' trade practices by foreigners or of self-destructive economic policies at home.
If investment opportunities available in the United States this year are especially attractive relative to opportunities elsewhere, the U.S. will run a trade deficit this year as global investors use some of their dollars, not to buy American exports but, instead, to invest in America. If next year the U.S. economy again offers especially attractive investment opportunities, America will run a trade deficit again next year. Ditto for two years from now if the relative attractiveness of American investment opportunities continues for that year. For an innovation-filled economy, such as that of the U.S., in a world in which the size of the capital stock can grow, there is no natural limit to the number of attractive investment opportunities that arise each year. Nor is there a natural limit to the number of consecutive years that a country can, or will, continue to remain a disproportionately attractive destination for investment funds. -- Don Boudreax