October 30, 2016

Thucydidies Book Two: Time vs. Metis

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.

October 29, 2016

All Hail Kudlow

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.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:43 AM | What do you think? [0]

October 28, 2016

Astonishing Ignorance

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.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 1:26 PM | What do you think? [0]

October 26, 2016


Matt Yglesias accidentally deleted 3000 tweets. Ooopsie-dooldles!

Some of them were a little embarrassing. But I want to ensure that this gem from 2013 is archived:


Because, wouldn't you know it? This "marker" is missing.

Hat-tip:Ed Driscoll @ Insty

October 25, 2016

October 23, 2016

Equal Time

"What's the word? Gettysburg!"

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!

But jk thinks:

I thank you for your humor on the scurrilous "Occupy Democrats": charge. As a meme I liked on Facebook said "After the election, I hope we can all still be friends. Even if we're in different FEMA camps."

But the charge of Walmart* destroying Main Street with predatory pricing is right out of their playbook. (I hope everyone has seen the Penn & Teller BS on Wal-Mart -- it's one of the top three in our house.)

Walmart drives out competitors by offering better goods, prices, and service. As did A & P, Montgomery Wards, and a string of retail innovators before them.

Aaaaaand he's back. At 18:05 he hits the AT&T - Time Warner merger "a deal we will not approve in my administration." Oh.

"Likewise, Amazon should be paying massive taxes... and what that is doing to department stores." I took an online Econ 101 course taught by A Hillsdale prof, and that was his favorite example of disruption. The small towns in the frontier had a dirty store with high prices, low selection and nosy ownership. People have been delighted to receive every innovation but each has been greeted with worry about the inferiors' being lost.

Not only new deals. The Trump Administration -- like on NAFTA -- has given itself license to look over old deals and break them up. On Comcast's merger: "and we'll look at breaking that deal up and other deals like it."

At least Teddy Roosevelt had erudite charm.

I cannot bend principle far enough to accommodate this. I'm sorry the Speaker Gingrich and Mayor Giuliani can.

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2016 1:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I did not listen to every word, much as I tried. I had to quit about 25 minutes in. And I was listening for the wheat while you were likely attuned to the chaff.

I did hear him say that "Amazon is paying nothing in taxes - they should be paying massive taxes." Let me do my best Bill Clinton impersonation here: That depends on your definition of the word "should."

If you mean that, under current tax codes, where corporations are taxed on their profits higher than in virtually any other country on earth, then yes, the highly profitable Amazon should be paying, as Donald likes to say, "obscene taxes" like he pays.

If, on the other hand, you mean under tax codes as they should be, where corporations are not taxed because all taxes are ultimately borne by individuals anyway and the fair and transparent way to tax individuals is directly, without chicanery that inflates the prices of goods and services, then no, Amazon should not be paying massive taxes.

In the light of recent criticism of Trump based on his carry-forward losses exempting him from taxes until those losses are re-earned, I conclude that Trump is referring to the first of those two definitions of "should" in which case, I agree with him.

The AT&T -Time/CNN merger is a special case of "Trust Busting" being as they are media giants, whom he had accused earlier in his speech of corruption and collusion with the federal Leviathan. I join his opposition to giving them more power.

And finally, on the analogy I made between the Wal-Mart effect on a small town and the Chinese currency manipulation and "illegal dumping" on the entire US economic system, I submit there is a difference in how the wielder of economic control will treat its customers once their competition is vanquished. Contests between commercial foes are called "commerce." Contests between geopolitical foes are called "wars."

But maybe we'll still get clean stores with copious selection after our national flag is changed from having fifty stars to one really, really big one... and all the white stripes are changed to match the red ones.

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2016 4:30 PM

October 22, 2016

All Hail Jonah Some More

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.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 1:30 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Assigning motive to Newt is unfair. "He only says that because he's a Trump surrogate." Perhaps he's a Trump surrogate because he believes in the movement to wrest control of our nation from lying politicians. (Oops, that's a redundant statement.)

His guiding conservatism "only believes in two things:" The importance and power of ideas and the importance of character. What about the Constitution? What about liberty? What about republicanism?

I listened up to 12:12 where he said, "This idea that he won't get rolled by the bureaucracy, I think is nuts."

I have concluded that Trump is a "cad." (Look up the specific meaning.) I stipulate that Trump is not a perfect candidate, or even a very good one. But the available choices of non-politicians were quite limited and I do not condemn the voters for rallying behind the loudest and brashest among them.

For all of his Trump bashing Jonah did allow as how people like me - "all in to stop Hillary" - have an honorable mission. Whew!

It is true that Trump MIGHT get "rolled by the bureaucracy" and fail to make a dent in their Leviathan. After all, George W Bush failed. George HW Bush failed. Ronald freaking Reagan failed. But Hillary is their QUEEN!

Genghis Khan or Marie Antoinette. Cast your ballots by November 8.

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2016 11:28 AM
But jk thinks:

Our continued internecine fratricide is that, yes, you admit to his being a cad, and boorish and unpolished candidate. But you do not so readily admit to his philosophical inconsistencies.

I've had to ask myself whether I could support a candidate who was as caddish and boorish, were he to generally support the things I believe. I cannot guarantee anything but I certainly think I would. There are many historical figures I do not like in the "want to out for a beer" sense. And there are a ton of whom I am quite fond but with whom I disagree fervently.

It's not his personality. I disagree with his strongly held positions and do not trust his oscillating positions where we are simpatico.

Jonah has a front row seat for thinkers he respects and admires changing their tune to support Trump. It might be conviction, it might be politics, it might be the opportunity of a future cabinet post.

The catchphrase of Thucydidean Realism is fear, honor, and interest. Goldberg and I will not change or deny our beliefs before any of them.

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2016 12:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You distrust his oscillating positions and I see no alternative BUT to trust them. And on that charge, isn't Hillary revealing herself to be just as unprincipled? Not fair to make such an absolute judgment on one candidate and not the other.

It might help you to think of Trump as Gail Wynand more than Hank Rearden, Howard Roark or even Peter Keating. He may be a mess philosophically but he has the natural human sense of right and wrong that every successful man has, if he would just choose to learn WHY.

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2016 1:03 PM
But jk thinks:

I am fully #neverhillary. The county chair can suggest my not voting for Trump facilitates her election, but I have too many friends who are Public Choice theorists to take my single vote that seriously. Yes, she is really awful. I will hope the Republic survives and be at peace knowing I did not vote for her.

Will he "learn WHY?" Maybe it was after the I-could-not-stand-it-anymore mark, but Goldberg says that expecting a 70-year old to change fundamentally is folly. My sister is voting for him on that premise; I am not.

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2016 1:13 PM

October 21, 2016

All Hail Jonah

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]
2016 Posted by John Kranz at 5:39 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Cute. But it's also true that if they don't he may well be in the lead already.

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2016 5:59 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

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.

What goes around comes around.

Patrick J. Buchanan - An Establishment in Panic

The Jacket and The Hat

Great 45 Minutes if you can find it. Camus, Ayn Rand, trade protectionism...

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 3:06 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Found a few minutes on international trade around 24:00. They're discussing the principle of international free trade, and the obvious failings of tariffs. Do they really believe that our trading partners are as honest as we are? Who knows, maybe we're not as honest as I'm led to believe either. Point is, it's not as simple as "trade agreements good/trade without agreements bad." Trade agreements seek to prevent minor disputes from mushrooming into trade wars. But if the deal benefits the mobile owners of capital and harms American workers, is it still a "net increase for everybody?"

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2016 4:21 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought him pretty moderate on trade -- I am not claiming he supports my side.

I think he did reduce it to a fundamental question: do we cater policy toward people who make Fords or who buy Fords? There are more of the latter, so we made that decision and ("you're not going to be able to put that shit back in the goose.") I think he said that -- I like this guy more every time I hear him.

One could make an argument that it is better to serve the Ford workers. I would not, but I would sit still as best as I could.

The question becomes: do you believe in comparative advantage and trade gains from specialization at all? We were talking about foundations of prosperity and I say that is what brought us from flinging dung to iPhones.

If we're going to bail out Ford workers, we have to allow everyone who wants to make something here to be protected from foreign competition. No iPhones, expensive cars and goodnight to the Golden age of guitars.

If our partners are foolish enough to subsidize our purchases at low prices, then I suggest a Christmas Card or a fruit basket. "Goddam Chinese aren't charging us enough for those nice mandolins -- there oughtta be a law!"

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2016 5:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A sidebar, just to check a premise:

Is it "a net increase for everybody" when [Big_Box_Retailer] builds a store in a small town and sells things below cost until all the mom and pop shops are driven out of business, and then raises prices when they are the only game left in town?

The answer to that question informs my next one:

Is it a "net increase for everybody in country A" when country C dumps labor intensive goods on the market until country A stops competing?

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2016 6:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Hmm, ThreeSources became "OccupyDemocrats" so quickly I barely noticed...

I think that is a myth. If it were to happen, I think it might be a net good in that the townspeople expressed their preferences and left the door open for another retailer to take their business.

I find both of your premises very zero-sum. The whole town does not shutter its doors, the whole country does not stop manufacturing. Some business will be unable to compete, others will do better because their customers are saving on commodities.

Likewise, some low value added manufacturers will not compete. Others will excel by having diverse opportunities to purchase subcomponents. For all the hue and cry, is not American automotive manufacturing doing well if one includes non-Detroit/non-union plants down South?

Like the small town with the Walmart*, Americans will be able to buy more Fords if they're saving on Microwaves and TVs.

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2016 7:05 PM

No There There

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.

Unless those were in the "Yoga Mails."

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

According to Whom?


October 20, 2016

Presidential Poll Dissonance


"Two men say they're Jesus, one o' them must be wrong."

The Right to Arm Toddlers

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.

2016 Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM | What do you think? [0]

Not For Long™

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.

Sports Posted by John Kranz at 9:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

October 19, 2016

The Trump Doctrine on Trade

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.

Some excerpts:

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.

And then there's that whole GDP growth thingey.

But jk thinks:

I poorly tried to accept that some very small part of their claims were true, meaning some factory closures and job loss.

And, no, my Pareto boundaries are US -- from the forthcoming terrific wall on the south to the land of Tim Horton's up north. The huge, positive effects on world poor are gravy.

Taking your paragraph as example, you're going to create how many jobs to offset $2,000 for every household? At least my winners and losers are lopsided toward winners. We're going to start making party favors and USB thumb-drive covers in Youngstown, Ohio and employ five million (fire up the improbability drive, Zaphod!). And 295 million are going to pay higher prices? And be less competitive selling to the world.

I join my lefty friends in asking, just what golden age is Trump dreaming of restoring? Pre Nafta? Was that paradise? I like skinny ties and all...

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2016 6:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The "exact cause of our innovation and prosperity" is international trade that pits our private corporations against state-subsidized competitors in communist China?

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2016 7:22 PM
But jk thinks:

We are clearly going to need beer.

The "exact cause of our innovation and prosperity" is our ability to use our comparative advantage and productivity, leveraging a worldwide supply chain and catering to a worldwide market, yes -- was that what you were trying to say?

The iPhone contains parts manufactured in 42 countries. You'd rather we all a black rotary dial from Ma Bell -- made right here in Patterson, New Jersey. I'd rather we had iPhones and a domestic ecosystem of developers and designers.

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2016 8:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Mmmm, beer.

No that is not what I was trying to say. I was trying to say, I love comparative advantage and free trade and I am not convinced that the global economic trade is free and fair.

Because, while Boeing and Exxon-Mobil and Apple and Google and WalMart are giant, powerful, multinational corporations they are paupers in comparison to the Chinese government, who can legitimately be claimed to be their direct competitors.

There are three options: Ramp up federal subsidies of US corporations to compete with Chinese subsidies, tell the Chinese that we will severely curtail trade unless they desist subsidization, or just keep the status quo.

Trump's is the second of these three options. It is also, as I see it, the best.

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2016 12:00 PM
But dagny thinks:

Of course the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you--if you don't play, you can't win.

Robert A. Heinlein (of course)

Sorry JG, but I think your number 2 option is a very dangerous and unnecessary game of chicken.

But I'm just going to let JK handle this one.

Posted by: dagny at October 21, 2016 1:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

All y'all did notice that I tagged this post "internecine" right? Even dagny is arguing with me!

By "unnecessary" am I to assume that you are in favor of the status quo? You don't see anything dangerous or harmful in that?

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2016 3:59 PM

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."

Despite all this, the most accurate poll in recent presidential elections shows Donald Trump with a 1-point lead over Hillary Clinton on the day of the final head-to-head debate.

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.

2016 Posted by JohnGalt at 6:50 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Another thing I noticed, but didn't mention yesterday, came to mind during and after the debate. Megyn Kelly said that Trump didn't do anything to solve his "problem with women." For some reason, Megyn Kelly keeps focusing on women - women voters, women who claim to have been groped or kissed (somehow never the ones who were actually raped, however) - so let's look at the crosstab in this poll on Gender:

Trump is 47% with men, 36% with women.
Clinton is 48% with women, 31% with men.

So if Trump has a "women problem" doesn't Hillary have an even bigger "men problem?"

Move along folks. Nothing to see.

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2016 5:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Indeed. Glenn Reynolds used to riff on this in 2012: everybody quoted Romney's deficit with female voters and never mentioned Obama's far worse delta among males.

That said, there is a belief in Colorado that Jefferson County Women decide every election. (Out-of-staters, JeffCo is a very large county including suburbs west of Denver and into the foothills.) I laugh because I know a few who, true to form, have no party preference, and pick the one they like every couple of years.

I do not doubt -- in Colorado or nationwide -- that women represent more of a swing block. The great preponderance of middle-aged, middle-class white dudes is always posited to ride in on election morning and save the day. But they never seem to show up in sufficient quantity to prove the pollsters wrong.

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2016 5:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not since 2004, at least. But nobody ever talked about a McCain or Romney "movement." Remember the old "silent majority?"

Somebody must be telling those IBD and Rasmussen pollsters that Trump is their favorite over Hillary.

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2016 6:14 PM

October 18, 2016

Ford stock is up 37%!

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.

But johngalt thinks:

Thus sounding the political death-knell for ethanol as a motor vehicle fuel. Thanks Oak Ridge National Labs!

Posted by: johngalt at October 18, 2016 5:37 PM

October 17, 2016

Thucydides, Book One: Pentecontaetia

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. [2] 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

Something we have not learned in 2400 years.

October 14, 2016

All Hail Jonah!

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.

UPDATE: The full thing has been posted.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 3:18 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"Winning" issue?


"Clinton jumped on the release of the video with Trump's sexual comments to say it shows her Republican rival's demeaning attitude toward women. But Trump countered that Clinton was an enabler who allowed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to sexually assault women for years. Voters tend to agree with Trump that Bill Clinton's behavior was worse, but not surprisingly there's a sharp partisan difference of opinion.


While other pollsters show women abandoning Trump, our latest survey finds the two candidates running almost even, but women are more than twice as likely as men to like some other candidate or be undecided. Trump has a six-point advantage among men."

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2016 6:12 PM

October 13, 2016

Otequay of the Ayday

"But it all reminds us that it is beyond high time that we grab the Republican Party by the Bush and grab the Democratic Party by the Clinton and toss them all out into the gutter where they belong."

Charles Hurt in Bush vs. Clinton redux in 2016.

2016 Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 4:58 PM | What do you think? [0]


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.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:45 AM | What do you think? [8]
But jk thinks:

I will assure the ThreeSources commenatariat that I will not be voting for Sec. Clinton. I find it hard to accept that Colorado is in play if the campaign is pulling out of Virginia, but that is speculation.

Probably going to go with Gov. Johnson -- and yes, that is like Cato aligning with Carthage. But you never loved me for my consistency.

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2016 12:31 PM
But jk thinks:

And, wow nb, I admit they drive me mad on occasion, but I am a hopeless Reason fanboy: Foundation Patron and everything (me and the Kochs).

Perhaps we can agree to discard their contributions to electoral politics. Those are suspect. But their philosophical contributions and their leadership on important issues like the war on drugs, paramilitary police, sentencing reform and regulatory burdens are invaluable.

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2016 12:51 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:
their philosophical contributions and their leadership on important issues like the war on drugs, paramilitary police, sentencing reform and regulatory burdens are invaluable.
As far as I can, I agree. IIRC, whenever a well-read blog cites them, I find the article quite good.

In general, I don't read or browse there much b/c I've been a bit turned off by a few OtT posts, but that's not damning: I don't really have bandwidth (single dad / long commute) for the more highly principled stuff they are best known for. Shoot, if I don't have time for WSJ, City Journal, WUWT, ALDaily.com or even to regularly check on my investments.... so, for exalted philosophical ideas and rhetoric, they are probably one of the best games on the internet (until the Sino/Soviet axis takes over). For everyday politics and policy analysis, I guess I haven't found them as accessible. Soo, I'm not likely to count on their recommendations for elections, but no, I do not wish a 'deleda est' pox on that house ;-)

I'll still be voting for Trump; none of this is unknown, and I think any harm done to the GOP by a poDTus will be less than HRC's harm to the USSC.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 13, 2016 3:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I read the article. It seems that Dalmia is convinced of an unproved fact - Donald J Trump is an ideologue. If he were, doesn't she suppose he would be more consistent?

She also assumes that he will live up to every single one of his campaign promises. That's quite a compliment for anyone this successful at this level of politics. But many of those promises have already walked back. Like the one to "deport them all."

But one of his campaign promises is to restore the full power of the Constitution, as evidenced by this list of Constitution-based priorities.

The media savagery of Trump only intensifies by the day, and making him out to be an ugly misogynist bully is the only tactic they have that might work. It's gotten so intense that Donald is doing something Mitt Romney didn't dare four years ago... he's pulling all the stops and fighting back.

"This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8th. Remember that. This election will determine whether we're a nation or only [a pretend] democracy but, in fact, controlled by a handful of special global interests, rigging the system, and our system is rigged. This is reality. You know it, they know it, and pretty much the whole world knows it.

"The establishment and their media enablers wield control over this nation through means that are very well known. Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, rapist, xenophobe, and morally deformed. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie and then again they will do worse than that. They will do whatever is necessary."

Whatever you do, don't vote early. This is only just beginning to play out.

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2016 3:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Hmm, I was going to ask a similar question of Terri. What event would change your vote between mailing a ballot and Election Day? I have deliberated a bit and seriously considered a few actions. But I have not changed my mind based on events. As I gibed in another post, the October Surprises seem to be that both candidates are exactly what we feared they were.

Perhaps I lack imagination (not the usual critique) but I cannot imagine what news would cause me to change my mind at this point. I usually do vote early. If I get hit by a bus I want to ensure that I opposed the minimum wage and Colorado Socialized Medicine before I check out.

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2016 5:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What might change is further revelations about the fabulously historic level of corruption in the Clinton camp, or the Democrat party, or even the Republican party for that matter.

Rush Limbaugh had a great FB post today, addressing down-ticket Republicans. They are outraged because Trump's spokesperson suggested that his voters should not vote for them. Rush asked, "Why should people vote for you? It's clear that you don't want to stop Hillary Clinton. It is clear that many of you do not want to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House. SO if it's not important to keep her out of the White House, why is it important to elect you?"

The sheer volume of ruling-class secrets that are being blown wide open into the disinfecting sunlight is unprecedented. Masks are slipping on an almost hourly basis. Someone who votes before learning this or that secret or dirty trick may really wish he could change his vote. It could go either way, of course, but my money is on Clinton, Inc. being shown materially corrupt to an even greater degree than Mister Trump is shown to be a troglodyte. (And that voters finally realize how much worse it is to be corrupt than to be a cad.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2016 6:36 PM

October 12, 2016


Voltaire pointed out that The Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman. I wonder what he could have done with this season's "October Surprises."

Yes, it is October Monsieur, but the surprise seems to be that both candidates are the crass and conniving lowlifes that we thought:


Surprise! Sec. Clinton and Donald Trump are exactly what you thought they were six months ago!! Wow, nobody saw that coming!

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 6:56 PM | What do you think? [0]

October 11, 2016

You Can't Always Get What You Want


2016 Posted by John Kranz at 6:44 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

You do know that that's Trump's campaign walkup/walkoff song, right?

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2016 4:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I remember it from the convention. Good for them for sticking with it.

Posted by: jk at October 12, 2016 6:41 PM

October 10, 2016

How much money I make

Next time a survey probes my income, I think I'll just say:

"I don't make enough that candidates admit they'll raise my taxes. But I do make enough that they do when they win."

Huh? Not bad, izzit?

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 10:00 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Not bad. A bit wordy though, maybe? How 'bout:

"I'm above the welfare cliff... dammit."

Posted by: johngalt at October 10, 2016 6:49 PM
But jk thinks:

I was looking for a way to trim it. Yours is indeed punchier.

Timely, too: a friend of a friend who is putting his life together in addiction recovery recently texted that he had to give up his second part time job because he lost the benefit that provides his medication. Governor Bush's "tollbooths to the middle class."

Punch and pith aside, I'm not positive they're equivalent. My inspiration was Sec. Clinton's assurance that she would absolutely-positively-absolutely-never-ever raise taxes on anybody earning less than $250.000. I believe Candidate Obama made the same pledge. I remain under their projected line. And yet, when they start looking for revenue...

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2016 7:20 PM

October 9, 2016

Review Corner

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.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:33 AM | What do you think? [0]

October 8, 2016

Libertario Terra Feras?

What's the feeling on TS about Lily, anyway? She always sounds good on the radio...

FYI, I was queried over Labor Day (before any "Leppo" moments) and had to give the sad news that Gary Johnson was a lousy libertarian: true?

But jk thinks:

I like Lily a lot ... BUT.

In a "normal" political year, she's Exhibit A in "libertario delenda est." Senator Bennet could be defeated, and had the Colorado GOP fielded a viable candidate, I would hate to see her throw the election to the Democrat. The fondational event of libertario delenda est is the 2006 election of Sen Jon Tester in Montana. Libertarian "activist" Stan Jones got 10,000 votes and Conrad Burns lost by 3000 and change.

Sen. Burns is nobody's idea of a Libertarian, but Tester was the 60th vote for Obamacare

I'll proudly pull the (metaphorical) lever for Darryl Glenn and would be saddened were he to lose by less than Lily4Liberty's count. Not this year, he'll go down double digits and she'll be lucky to see Stan Jones's 2.55% -- if one wanted to lodge a protest vote for her, the only harm would be providing aid and comfort to the LP.

I'll defend Gov. Johnson, though his running mate cheeses me off. No, he is not a doctrinaire libertarian, but they'd be better off embracing pragmatism. I certainly don't care about his geographical knowledge more than Clinton's Criminality or Trump's horrid economics. Aleppo was a gaffe, but let's grade on a curve.

I am leaning toward voting Johnson. All my second thoughts are whether I want to "feed the bears" at the LP, I have no question that he is the best candidate.

It is all down to remaining institutions. Pump up the LP? Show the GOP what they're losing if they continue to embrace populism? I got no idea.

Posted by: jk at October 8, 2016 12:37 PM

October 7, 2016

Outsourced Elevator Talk

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.

Elevator Talk Posted by John Kranz at 4:49 PM | What do you think? [0]

October 6, 2016

All Hail Taranto!


Music Posted by John Kranz at 5:25 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Nice. But I gotta say, I saw the "Doug Band" quip coming a mile away.

Posted by: johngalt at October 6, 2016 6:48 PM

October 5, 2016

Hypocrisy Much?

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.

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 7:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

Gov. Pence!

WSJ Ed Page:

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

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:08 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Ache along with the rest of us, but take solace in the fact that Pence would be a heartbeat away from the office you would rather he was in.

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2016 12:14 PM

October 4, 2016

Practicing Scales

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.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM | What do you think? [0]

October 3, 2016

Nafta me this...

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.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 3:36 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

And repeating the theme of my previous comment, what does low-cost fracking energy look like under a Clinton II administration? According to a debate answer by Ms. Hillary, fracking energy will go the way of - wait for it - the dinosaurs.

In a debate in March, Mrs. Clinton said, "By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place."

Of course one can always rely on Hillary's track record of failure to protect fracking from her "conditions" but I prefer the guy who says fracking is actually good. Even if he does threaten companies that offshore their domestic labor.

That's another insight I received at Trump's Loveland rally last evening. (See my brief mention of it on FB.) What he says can be taken more favorably when it's heard in context. When he promised a "35 percent import tax on the goods made by those companies" it was at least implied that "those companies" were ones who had recently moved US based plants abroad.

While I'd still prefer to attract industry with honey rather than a lesser of two punishments, it at least suggests that he doesn't intend import taxes on ALL foreign makers of all goods.

Posted by: johngalt at October 4, 2016 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, bad times lay ahead.

But Adam Smith pointed out business finds its way around less than ideal liberty and the oil industry has sadly learned to play the game.

I think we agree on the potential for absolute awesomeness with a pro-energy administration. Pipelines and LNG exports could jumpstart growth and save Europe from reliance on Russian exports.

But that's not on the menu. Corrupt Clinton Cronies will impede but not destroy the energy sector. We'll survive. A Trump victory, conversely, leaves us with no practical party to support trade, free-markets, or general liberty.

Posted by: jk at October 5, 2016 11:18 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Sigh. Yes, pro-energy is on the menu. It just happens to be a family-style dinner with heapin' helpins' of populist mashed potatoes. "No party to support trade, free-markets or general liberty?" That's a bit overwrought. Trump is a populist, not an anti-trade, anti-free-market, anti-liberty ideologue. The liberty movement will not close up shop just because Mister Brilliant Genius man gets elected. At least, there's no reason why it should. Many of its members though seem to keep saying, "If Trump is elected I'm going to stop using my mind and my voice." It's the intellectual equivalent of leftists threatening to move to Canada.

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2016 4:09 PM
But jk thinks:

The lefties are clearly heading north for those delicious Tim Horton's doughnuts.

Liberty lovers will not cease speaking, but they will no longer have a party to provide a voice. With a Trump victory, I see the GOP following in the footsteps of European, right wing populist parties. Like much that is European, if you cannot eat it or drink it -- it's best avoided.

I concede that Trump would be good on drilling, but he would easily be swayed to prohibit exports so we could be energy independent and power those new tchotsky factories in Youngstown, Ohio.

Posted by: jk at October 5, 2016 5:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Tax imports, yada yada, I've heard that one before. Ban exports? That's new and pessimistic. Here's all I could find on the subject - a great big I don't wanna say.

But I'm an optimist, Ira.

Besides, the 40-year old export ban is already lifted. It would be harder to restore it than to leave it alone.

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2016 5:50 PM

October 1, 2016

An Open Letter to Trump's Economic Advisor

Hint: It's not Larry Kudlow.

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

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Is the reader to conclude that Hillary's economic plan is somehow, according to the principles of free-market economic theory, just peachy?

Posted by: johngalt at October 4, 2016 3:16 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)