May 10, 2018

Was He Tired of Winning?

Politicians always let you down. But if I've a favorite real-live, corporeal politician it would Sen. Phil Gramm (HOSS - TX). He has a guest editorial in the WSJ today: "Trump's Trade Threats Are Hurting Growth"

I know, we've been down this road before. But I wish to appeal to you Machiavellian side. Tax cuts and deregulation (Yaaay President Trump!) set the economy on fire. One should be cautions using the DJIA as a proxy for the economy -- but it roared up thousands of points after the tax cuts (to 26,616), stalled at the trade talk, and remains moribund at 24,772 as I type.

I'm a dollar averager and far from retirement, so I am not complaining, but I think in this instance it is a good proxy. The market and economy loves the corporate tax cut and deregulation. The consumer loves the personal tax cuts (though they're not as pro-growth).

The trade uncertainty contravenes the message and success. Senator?

The University of Michigan’s April consumer-sentiment survey noted that respondents who mentioned the tax cuts expressed high confidence in the economy, while those who mentioned tariffs expressed low confidence. The Institute for Supply Management recorded the largest drop in its manufacturing index since 2015, with more than a third of respondents citing tariffs as a source of their worries.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:04 AM | Comments (3)
But nanobrewer thinks:

My vote for HOSS (after the imitable, but never matched Ronaldus Magnus) is Mike Pompeo, with Ben Sasse as Miss Congeniality and Tom Cotton as the stern, and steady elder brother.

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 22, 2018 12:11 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

My mistake: Nikki Haley for Miss Congeniality (all irony intended), and Tom Cotton as runner up. Chief Muckraker goes to either Scott Pruitt or Mick Mulvaney.

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 23, 2018 9:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Populism Alert: Today I heard Rush Limbaugh refer to POTUS as "Donaldus Magnus."

I believe it was in the context of the NFL kneeling ban.

Posted by: johngalt at May 23, 2018 3:51 PM

May 4, 2018

13-Dimensional Chess?

In his freewheeling interview on Fox & Friends, Trump told his hosts: "I would rather have a popular election, but it's a totally different campaign. If you're a runner, you're practicing for the hundred-yard dash as opposed to the mile. . . . To me, it's much easier to win the popular vote." -- Josiah Peterson
On what planet is that Republicanism?
Posted by John Kranz at 6:01 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

If he thinks it's easier for him to win the popular vote than the electoral college - presumably by running a different campaign than the one Hillary bested him in the popular vote - then he really isn't a Republican. Only once since 1992 has a Republican won the popular vote.

Maybe in the 2020 election though, someone will run as a capitalist.

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2018 9:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, that was not really where I was going. Though your point is well taken.

I was hoping -- and I apologize in advance for the hyperbole -- for the briefest tether to governing or political philosophy over self-interest.

Of all the punditry in which I immerse myself, perhaps my favorite quip of all time is my blog brother's suggestion that the Republican Party might choose Republicanism as its governing philosophy. Bloody Brilliant, that is!

The Electoral College is the live beating heart of republicanism in the United States to me -- the last vestige of Madison.

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2018 11:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Little-r republicanism as a guiding principle for the big-R Republican party. Yessir, it's so simple it's brilliant. And many thanks for noticing! But why does it have to be said by a lonely blogger in a flyover state?

Do I wish that the president were a principled, fact-based statesman who could lead the nation and re-educate it at the same time? That candidate was Ted Cruz. I've been forced to support a president who leads and fights entrenched self-dealers instead. I've come to terms with that. You can't always get what you want, but if you're lucky, you can get what you need.

I'll push back on your claim that Trump chooses his own self-interest over principle. I find that he chooses against the interests of cronies, and in support of the individualistic American ideal, more than anything else.

The electoral college is Constitutional bedrock, 'tis true. I don't want to see it dismantled, or even dismissed or disrespected. But I'm not completely convinced that is what Trump did. I read his statement as saying he would rather campaign for a popular election, not that as a thoughtful citizen he believes it would in any way benefit the nation to move in that direction.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 3:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps it was idle speculation. But one can be forgiven for wishing he had used it as a teachable moment.

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2018 4:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think it was Gail Wynand, newspaper mogul, who went insane over the fact that the public didn't want to read what he thought they should read. That character comes to my mind quite often in the Trump era.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2018 11:39 AM

April 13, 2018

Our Margaret

Haven't linked Peggy Noonan in, like, forever. I'm afraid we'll lose our license.

But today's is very good. And, while I'm not sure her criticisms of the party and the President will go over well, I find the thesis correct: Republicans need artists, not economists (sorry, Bryan).

Senators and representatives still have not reckoned with the shock of 2016. They're repeating what's been said and following an old playbook. They remind me of what Talleyrand is supposed to have said of the Bourbons, that they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Some know an old order has been swept away, but what will replace it is not fully formed, so they're not placing bets.

It isn't all about Donald Trump. Mr. Trump came from the chaos, he didn't cause it. He just makes it worse each day by adding his own special incoherence. The party's intellectual disarray both preceded and produced him. He happened after 20 years of carelessness and the rise of the enraged intersectional left. He was the magic pony who was not like the other Republicans. But he can't capitalize on this moment--he can't help what is formless to find form--because he's not a serious man.

Republicans will have to figure it out on their own. After they lose the House, they will have time!

I'll spare whataboutism by my being first: the Democrats are running on "A Better Deal." A third grader could write a Democrat Campaign Motto Generator that would spit out some slightly warmed-over FDR-ism and they could hit that button every two years.

"But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends..." we were the party of ideas. We had a cannon. We had a philosophy. I don't know what it is anymore. When the artist finds something more that "we suck a little worse than the other guys" I'll be back.

I hope you can read the whole thing -- holler if I can provide paywall help. She uses ex-boss Reagan as her example of an artist, finding the soul, shape and essence of thing. Unsurprisingly lovely prose.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2018

Online Poll

Okay -- hands up -- who here thought that ALL CAPS was going to stop the President?


Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Well, the briefing paper (if the story is accurate) did fail to say "please."

Personally, I'm still waiting for this President to whisper in a Russian leader's ear, "I will have more flexibility after my re-election." Like the last President did.

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2018 3:09 PM

March 12, 2018

Because I'm Mean That's Why

This snarky-ass commentary will just make folks angry and won't convince anybody. What do I think this is, Facebook?


Posted by John Kranz at 10:15 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I have a strange feeling, having read this. I get it a lot these days. I think the woke gang has a term for it. Triggered, or something?

Now, if'n y'all will 'scuse me, I gotta git back to work on the farm, like my pappy did, and his pappy before him!

Posted by: johngalt at March 19, 2018 3:20 PM

March 9, 2018

C'est si Bon

Larry is usually wiser, and always more gracious than me. I would not be willing to join on immigration. But the rest, yeah:


Posted by John Kranz at 2:50 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Maybe it's a normal consequence of aging, but I remember liking ol' Larry a lot less than I have come to in recent years. Maybe he's mellowed too.

The problem with debating government trade policy is that economists want to treat it as a purely economic matter. But it's not. It's mostly a government, political, matter. There is no "correct" answer when one government seeks advantage over the people represented by another government.

Posted by: johngalt at March 11, 2018 8:41 PM

March 2, 2018

So, Here We Are

I don't intend to pile on. Not when it's been done so much better by the WSJ Ed Page:

Donald Trump made the biggest policy blunder of his Presidency Thursday by announcing that next week he'll impose tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum. This tax increase will punish American workers, invite retaliation that will harm U.S. exports, divide his political coalition at home, anger allies abroad, and undermine his tax and regulatory reforms. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.7% on the news, as investors absorbed the self-inflicted folly.

Mr. Trump has spent a year trying to lift the economy from its Obama doldrums, with considerable success. Annual GDP growth has averaged 3% in the past nine months if you adjust for temporary factors, and on Tuesday the ISM manufacturing index for February came in at a gaudy 60.8. American factories are humming, and consumer and business confidence are soaring.

Apparently Mr. Trump can't stand all this winning

More broadly, it has been a bad 48 hours for those who love liberty and were trying to come to terms with our quixotic cheif executive.

I know that neither Mr. Shapiro nor the WSJ Ed Page are natural allies of President Trump. Yet I cannot help but feel we are reaping what populism has sown. Ideology is abased, but it does provide one with a rudder.

UPDATE: If you're not convinced by liberty, or Adam Smith, or David Ricardo:

Molson-Coors warned in a statement, "Like most brewers, we are selling an increasing amount of our beers in aluminum cans and this action will cause aluminum prices to rise and is likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry." The company contends that domestically, "there simply isn't enough supply to satisfy the demands of American beverage makers."

Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty

Posted by John Kranz at 9:46 AM | Comments (12)
But jk thinks:

I truly hope you're right that this is tactical and we end up in a very different place. I just said the same on a Facebook thread without having read this. So, yeah, it is possible.

(The TV news this morning did a long segment on "President for Life." I concede that his enemies go too far. BUT.)

But he campaigned as a protectionist. And he has wide latitude under this "Section 232." And he has Peter Nevarro hanging around.

I do not find the "predatory competitors" argument at all persuasive. The bulk of our Steel imports come from friendly nations and the numbers fro domestic production have been strong. To blunderbuss domestic auto and appliance production and risk retaliation over Chinese steel that is 2% and change if imports is indefensible.

A dime a beer case, $175 a car, $1 million on a plane -- it is all contrary to the spirit of liberty and very well established economics.

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2018 11:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Disclaimer: I don't aim to argue or persuade, merely to share "alternative" points of view.

I found authoritative data on this subject here. [PDF]

I'll begin with a Trump counterfactual. He has called America's steel industry "dead" due to unfair competition, but American steel production and consumption have been in the neighborhood of 80 MMT (million metric tons) and 100 MMT, respectively, since 2010. So we're importing 20% of our steel. A recent theory that this is a NAFTA renegotiation ante suddenly makes more sense than "saving American steel."

And while Canadia is indeed our number one import source, Mexico is number four. Note that these are our two NAFTA partners.

Further, Russia is number five. Wasn't the failed Democratic candidate for president just saying that POTUS needed to get tough with the Russians? (Okay, I'm being flippant.)

The rest of the top ten import sources are Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, Japan, Taiwan, Germany and India. These guys should cross their fingers that Canadia and Mehico play ball on NAFTA as fast as possible.


As for Trump's off-the-record joke with the press (did I mention he was kidding?) we may as well go ahead and describe it the way media members heard it with their ears and felt it with their hearts: "Fuhrer Trump." I'm sympathetic because I would have freaked out if Obama said it, even in jest. But in the end I must conclude that the compliant, complicit, double-standard news media in this country thoroughly deserves to have it pointed out to them that, as bad as they think he is, other world leaders (like China's) are much worse. Not that they even recognize the fact but, news flash, Xi Jinping is NOT kidding.

And finally, I don't have numbers for the tariff hikes on a car but I do for a Boeing jetliner - $33,000. That's .013% of the cost of a 787. (And just 3.3% of your own estimate.) Taking the $175 auto estimate on faith though, a driver could recoup that by recycling a case of beer cans per day for a year!

Gotta go - Professor Cutsinger is on line 1.

Posted by: johngalt at March 5, 2018 3:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I almost forgot...

You cited "very well established economics." My Bud drinkin' buddies call this by various names:

Status quo
Hedge Fund Corporatist B.S.
Swamp Business
NeverTrump mutual "back-scratching" rules.

In November 2016 a plurality of American voters decided it was time to change the established rules. I, for one, can't blame them.

Posted by: johngalt at March 5, 2018 4:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Speaking of that fellow who used to be President, how would you have felt had he presented a ruse of a phony national security scare so that he could enact a favored policy? Because that's the best-case scenario of the President's tactics.

Would you agree there is (subtract five, carry the one...) exactly zero national security risk of our proud nation's importing steel from our great allies? If we lose China and Russia, that's a blip.

So, Section 232 is a ruse -- there is no compelling national security interest. But it is a very convenient loophole for bypassing Congress so that he can have a bargaining chip in his high-stakes renegotiation of nafta. That's bad, right? Had President Obama pulled a similar stunt to fund SCHIP we'd've been pissed, right?

My numbers came from Peter Nevarro's appearance on FOX News Sunday through the imperfect medium of my memory -- exacerbated by the physical pain I was in hearing his explanations.

I guess the American consumer can always afford to pay more taxes. You're right -- it's really just "crumbs" when I think of it.

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2018 7:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Were Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Larry Kudlow, Art Laffer, Walter Williams, Don Boudreaux, Fredrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt and Frederic Bastiat wrong? And an electoral-representation-of-a-plurality of American voters right?


I'm in a reflective mood. I read all but a few pages of Steven Pinker's "Enlightenment Now" over the weekend and just finished Nassim Taleb's ninth appearance on EconTalk. Two of the most esteemed intellects on the planet, and two that challenge my core beliefs very deeply. And I got a more brutal thrashing last week than even you did.

The common thread is holding core truths even as ancillary beliefs are shaken. From Pinker: do I love Enlightenment values and modernity more than I fear government? From Taleb: how can I dismiss "the God of risk assessment" when he spurns GMOs?

I cannot, however say "some Things were bad before Donald Trump was President, ergo, everything he disagrees with is right." Some things I believed in before he was president are still right.

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2018 7:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well said all the way 'round. We're of a mostly like mind. Perhaps the biggest reason for my Trumpism sanguinity is that this president and the swamp are at loggerheads, not lockstep. The latter is what really scares the crap out of me. c.f. Obama. Bush.

Posted by: johngalt at March 6, 2018 3:03 PM

February 7, 2018

"Trump is ruining me"

This must be a spoof. Right?

Middle-aged Ruth Mayer, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and her 16-year old daughter attended the latest "Women's March" in D.C. Both of them are "angry" every day that Trump is President.

My fury has been bottomless. I drink my morning coffee from a cup that says, "I hate to wake up when Donald Trump is President." The constancy of my outrage has been exhausting, yet I have not yet found a way to quell it - nearly each day has brought a new reason to stoke the fire.

But on the way home she had car trouble in her ________ (bonus points if you guess what she drives) and they found themselves parked on the side of the road, helpless.

He did all of this so quickly that I didn't have time to grab the prominent RESIST sticker on the side of my car, which suddenly felt needlessly alienating. As this man lay on the ground under my car with his miracle zip ties, I asked if he thought they would hold for four more hours of driving.

"Just ask any redneck like me what you can do with zip ties - well, zip ties and duct tape. You can solve almost any car problem. You'll get home safe," he said, turning to his teenage son standing nearby. "You can say that again," his son agreed.

The whole interaction lasted 10 minutes, tops. Katherine and I made it home safely.

Our encounter changed the day for me. While I tried to dive back into my liberal podcast, my mind kept being pulled back to the gas station. I couldn't stop thinking about the man who called himself a "redneck" who came to our rescue. I sized him up as a Trump voter, just as he likely drew inferences from my Prius and RESIST sticker. But for a moment, we were just two people and the exchange was kindness (his) and gratitude (mine).

As I drove home, I felt the full extent to which Trump has actually diminished my own desire to be kind. He is keeping me so outraged that I hold ill will toward others on a daily basis. Trump is not just ruining our nation, he is ruining me. By the end of the drive, I felt heartbroken.

One is left to wonder if Mr. Redneck and his son would have done the same for Ms. Hatemonger and her daughter a scant year or two prior, while His Awesomeness was still our President. Which leads one to wonder, if there is really an ideology prone to hatred, isn't it those who "Resist" everything that their opponent seeks to achieve, even when a case can be made that she would personally benefit? Instead, she writes:

I have been angry at my country for electing this man, angry at my neighbors who support him, angry at the wealthy who sacrificed our country and its goodness for tax breaks, angry at the coal miners who believed his promises.

Because there's obviously no such thing as a "good" country that doesn't tax its people beyond their breaking point.

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:46 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Did she just assume his gender?

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2018 3:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good point! But, in fairness, I assumed hers.

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2018 4:01 PM

January 19, 2018

Headline of the Day

I've been really nice to the President fro several posts; we don't want Ajit Pai to reinstate the fairness doctrine, do we?

ThreeSources's fave Steven Pinker [Review Corner] [Review Corner] made me laugh.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:56 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Let's eat grandma!

Posted by: johngalt at January 19, 2018 4:45 PM

January 10, 2018

Boo Hoo #MeToo

Catherine Deneuve is among the first group of women to publicly express that #MeToo might not be what women really want.

Iconic French actress Catherine Deneuve is among 100 women who have signed a public letter blaming the #MeToo anti-harassment movement for creating a "totalitarian" climate that unfairly punishes men for flirting "insistently or clumsily," infantilizes women and undermines sexual freedom.

The letter says that #MeToo, the hashtag that emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has led to a campaign of public denunciation and summary justice. The victims have been "men who are sanctioned in their work, pushed to resign, etc., when their only wrongdoing was to touch a knee, try to steal a kiss, speak about intimate things during a professional dinner or send messages that are sexually loaded to a woman who wasn't attracted to them," the letter says.

The backlash has been swift, if not smart.

The letter was published Tuesday in French newspaper Le Monde. It sparked its own backlash from readers, including from Asia Argento, one of the women who accused Weinstein of sexual assault and helped bring down the Hollywood mogul. "Deneuve and other women tell the world how their interiorized misogyny has lobotomized them to the point of no return," Argento tweeted.

But I would like to ask MS. Argento, "If you forbid men you aren't attracted to from making advances, what are the men who you are attracted to to do?" But then, that question is irrelevant if the answer to "what men are you attracted to" is "none."

RELATED: Camille Paglia on Hugh Hefner's Legacy, Trump's Masculinity and Feminism's Sex Phobia

The entire article is fascinating, particularly the parts about Trump, but here's a germane snippet:

And American women don't know what they want any longer. In general, French women - the educated, middle-class French women, I mean - seem to have a feminine composure, a distinct sense of themselves as women, which I think women in America have gradually lost as they have won job equality in our high-pressure career system.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 7, 2017

A free-market detour on the electrified road to Nirvana?

When President Obama first took office and presided over the "Stimulus Bill" purportedly to kick-start economic growth and counter the nascent recession, one of the mountain of spending programs came in the form of an electric vehicle tax credit. Paid to EV buyers, it was really corporate welfare, designed to incentivize automakers into developing mainstream electric powered vehicles for a citizenry that was, at the time, yearning to be green in the face of a "looming climate change catastrophe."

Those heady days of wunderkind planet-saving schemes seem a distant memory today, as mainstream media barely mentions climate or CO2 any longer. But the EV tax credit is back in the news because, since Democrats insist that any reduction in tax rates imposed on Americans must "pay for itself" in spending reductions or tax hikes elsewhere, the draft tax plan is set to eliminate the credit altogether, in less than 2 months. (Ironically, there were no such demands for the aforementioned Stimulus Bill to be anywhere close to revenue neutral. Curious how that only applies to the bills that reduce government power.)

I'll get my Schadenfreude on with the Reason headline: Republicans' Tax Plan Crashes Jerry Brown's Electric Car Fantasies

If Republicans succeed in getting rid of the feds' $7,500 tax credit for ZEVs - which far outstrips California's additional $2,500 rebate for the same product - Brown will have to devote far more of the state's resources toward reaching 1.5 million ZEVs by 2025.

California is already spending $140 million a year on tax rebates for hybrid and electric vehicles, enough to provide 56,000 people with full-ZEV tax credits. If the federal tax credit were to go away, Brown would have to spend another $420 million to maintain the same subsidies for those 56,000 prospective buyers.

Electric car manufacturers, who sell about half of their electrical vehicle fleet in California, can see the writing on the wall, with many issuing statements urging Congress to reverse course on eliminating the tax credit.

It's hard to imagine Washington taking a principled stand on any issue, much less this popular sop to "protect the environment." But it could happen. Especially since the GOP might pass the bill with little or no Democrat support. But I'm putting down a marker that it won't be included in any final measure that might be signed into law. More likely, it will be spared in exchange for the ending of all state efforts to ban gasoline powered cars entirely.

But it is a fascinating issue to watch as it plays out.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Pile on the points, this game is not over.

The Republican Tax Bill Exacerbated Tesla's Drop Yesterday

As for the game's not being over, I need to change my news feed. Still plenty of CO2 & Climate in my sources.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2017 9:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

You're sources must be on the fringe. Here's proof of my perceived change in coverage:

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2017 3:01 PM

November 1, 2017

Trump Agonistes, Indeed

I'm nothing if not fair...

Even if you're export-happy on trade, you need appreciate Nafta for its benefit to the agricultural sector.

Mexico has said it is eager to modernize Nafta. But with a Mexican presidential election in July 2018 there is no way the government is going to bow to the managed-trade demands of Mr. Trump, whose image inside Mexico is no better than that of James K. Polk, who presided over the Mexican-American War.

Mexico says that in a post-Nafta world it would buy its grain and meat in South America, prompting one wise senator to tell Inside Trade, "We're not in as strong a position as [Trump] thinks we are." As to manufacturing, companies are likely, at least initially, to pay any new U.S. tariff and pass the cost on to American consumers, essentially handing them a tax increase. Not exactly what Mr. Trump promised Middle America.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:46 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Can't access the whole article but here are some counterpoints:

Any reduction in exports to Mexico's population of 120 million might easily be offset by higher exports to Brazil's 210 million (86% of whom are urban, with a stable middle class.)

Yes, I hear you saying "why not export to both" but agriculture is just one American industry. A president must balance the harms to all sectors.

It seems that the article (in a pro-globalist publication) attributes their description of Trump's strategy to "senators who attended" a private luncheon with the president. Might be a little bit of the "telephone game" going on there.

The idea that NAFTA is someone's idea of perfection is what rankles most of its detractors. Maybe we CAN do better? Maybe someone besides William Jefferson Clinton, twenty five years ago, could make the "free trade" playing field tilt away from the USA a little less?

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2017 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

May our wall be as good as Rupert's, eh? Keep Mexicans and mechanical engineers out.

The heart of the story is that the President believes in the negotiating tactic of walking away to get concessions from negotiating partners.

Let me excerpt a real quote from a real Red-State Senator:

The "walk-away" strategy worries Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, who told Inside Trade "that if you start the clock on NAFTA [withdrawal] that's going to send very bad signals throughout the entire farm economy." America's farmers and ranchers exported $17.9 billion to Mexico in 2016.

Mr. Roberts added: "And then to restitch that and put it all back together it's like Humpty Dumpty. You push Mr. Humpty Dumpty trade off the wall and it's very hard to put him back together."

Is it sacrosanct, no. But President Clinton was superb on Trade. Art Laffer likes to brag that he voted "for Clinton twice." You're discarding a working deal from a pro-trade President in favor of promises from a famously inward-looking one. That's spooky even after Halloween.

Posted by: jk at November 1, 2017 4:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:


There's a list "mucho mas larga" however for "Yaay Trump."

But I still put the boo in all caps!

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2017 6:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Clearly, my work here is done.

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2017 11:04 AM

October 16, 2017

Not my favorite topic...

I said something reaaaaaally nice about the President late last week. So I'm owed one.

I had deluded myself to believing that Nafta was safe, save for a lot of bluster. But the WSJ Ed Page has some bad news for free tradin' Republicans:

Mr. Trump's obsession with undoing Nafta threatens the economy he has so far managed rather well. The roaring stock market, rising GDP and tight job market are signs that deregulation and the promise of tax reform are restoring business and consumer confidence. Blowing up Nafta would blow up all that too. It could be the worst economic mistake by a U.S. President since Richard Nixon trashed Bretton-Woods and imposed wage and price controls.

Well then.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:51 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

True, "it could be." Alternately, that could also be an assumption based upon "the loud conventional wisdom of the past."*

* I know you read it - I'm just linking these two posts for posterity.

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2017 4:55 PM

Potato, Potahtoe

Last week we engaged on these pages in fairly strident internecine dialog about Trump and Bannon and the Republican party, such as it is. None of us is wrong per se, so there was no chance that anyone might "see the light" and change his position. But perhaps we can all better understand each other's perspective. With help from the inestimable VDH, Victor Davis Hanson. Perhaps too much of a "nativist" for some, but hear him out.

In his latest column "It's 1968 All Over Again" Hanson succinctly describes two perspectives on the open warfare in Washington D.C.:

Is the problem too much democracy, as the volatile and fickle mob runs roughshod over establishment experts and experienced bureaucrats? Or is the crisis too little democracy, as populists strive to dethrone a scandal-plagued, anti-democratic, incompetent and overrated entrenched elite?

In closing, he poses the following observations:

Is the instability less a symptom that America is falling apart and more a sign that the loud conventional wisdom of the past -- about the benefits of a globalized economy, the insignificance of national borders and the importance of identity politics -- is drawing to a close, along with the careers of those who profited from it?

In the past, any crisis that did not destroy the United States ended up making it stronger. But for now, the fight grows over which is more toxic -- the chronic statist malady that was eating away the country, or the new populist medicine deemed necessary to cure it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:26 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Yes, Professor VDH is too nativist. But, after enjoying several of his lectures in Hillsdale's Athens & Sparta MOOC, and his magisterial introduction to the Landmark Edition Thucydides, he is a superb choice for appeal to authority.

I enjoyed the piece, but am prepared to "embrace the healing power of and:" Trump's supporters and critics can both be wrong. I know many in both camps and am not at all startled by the rigidity on the left. Yes, if he's Hitler and likes lemon in his tea, we must not ever use lemon.

I will not lie; I have been surprised by the stridency of his defenders. Zero politicians are perfect and the President is not the closest I've seen. Healthy skepticism of gub'mint and the people what people it seems well warranted.

Posted by: jk at October 16, 2017 5:10 PM
But Terri Goon thinks:

It's hard to see, but if you squint your eyes, the skepticism exists, it's just that da other side is so very much over the top that even fence post sitters are almost required to defend the man.
I see a lot wrong with him, but I will defend him in conversation so that people can at least hear another version of whatever new outrage is current.

Posted by: Terri Goon at October 17, 2017 9:58 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I with Terri: I don't like the guy and agree with him perhaps half the time but my FB feed has gone from Outrage Theater to Kabuki Theater (over and over) in less time than POTUS can thrice tweet about NFL idiocy.

I've even taken to knee-capping my opponents at times; picking on the picayune to denigrate their threads... *sigh* it's just so much easier than lengthy debate (and I'm too irregular on FB).

What's my pick of the 50+% "good"? I've been told his picks for judges are outstanding, and I can attest that DOE & EPA are both going strongly in good directions.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 17, 2017 11:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Ummmm, yeaaaaahhhh, sortof, he said hesitatingly...

I frequently find myself defending him. He has done some fantastic things and exceeded my expectations in many areas. I agree the opposition is unhinged.

But, where would you good people admit he was wrong?

Posted by: jk at October 18, 2017 12:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

He's wrong on many things. "Afflicting the comfortable" in Washington D.C. isn't one of them.

I want to push back on your "healthy skepticism of government" position. That was fine when Barack Hussein O was president, or George W Bush, or Bill Clinton or ... But Donald John Trump was elected for one reason more than any other (in my humble opinion): To wrestle government power away from the political elite. Trump is the present embodiment of voters' skepticism toward politicians.

There is no chance - zero, none, nada - that the administrative state will become a nationalist police power under the charismatic leadership of President Trump. Any weakening of the president strengthens the liberty-sapping Leviathan.

I know that's not a very nuanced analysis but statism thrives in the gray area between liberty and government power. The power of our free society goes up when the power of the administrative state goes down.

Posted by: johngalt at October 18, 2017 7:25 PM

October 12, 2017

The Trump Connundrum

Alternate title: "Why President Trump is so Great!"

I would join the President's critics -- if I had time -- in condemning his tweet "challenging" NBC's "license." In fact, take it away Matt Welch. Surely Reason will not let this stand!

Is it a day ending in the letter "y"? Then yes, President Donald Trump has said something flippantly authoritarian, made a wholly empty threat, and blasted the media, all before lunch. Helpfully, he accomplished this all with just one tweet:

There is no license; there is no mechanism for the executive branch to challenge. I find it distasteful and banana-republic-ish. Will he approve or deny every episode of CSI?

But the Republic limps along. Nobody is harmed, the base is fired up, his opponents howl, but nothing bad is going to happen. Why? Because this same man put a stellar pick in the FCC, the great Ajit Pai, who has been lauded by, well, Matt Welch in the same article:

The #NeverTrump Republican political consultant Rick Wilson is fond of saying that Trump ends up ruining everything he touches. That's more sour than my take--after all, Trump has decisively touched his own regulatory state, with such salutary picks such as Ajit Pai. But I think we may soon conclude that just when conservatives were inching tantalizingly close to the free-speech high road, their hero led them down a Culture War highway to hell.

Ajit Pai == important; The President's tweet != important.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | Comments (2)
But Terri Goon thinks:

I like what you did there. :-)
What's more I continue to be pleased as punch that this is the president we got out of the 2. People are on the lookout for all sorts of misbehavior. I no longer have to dig deeper and deeper for source material.
Clinton levels of deception were too much for mere mortals to sort through. Trump levels of whatever, much less so. Yay democracy and transparency. Go Trump.

Posted by: Terri Goon at October 12, 2017 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ummm, yes... there is a license.

But the only ones who believe such a review is a serious possibility are Progressive "lib-tards" (I think that's the clinical term), have no sense of humor, or both. Meanwhile, they caterwaul about this through the whole news cycle. Until the next Tweet to end all Tweets comes out. Usually the next morning.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2017 4:34 PM

September 28, 2017

De-boogeymanning Trump

Trump is worse than Hitler we've been told. Can we please take a breath?

I did my thoughtful best to reply to a friend who is scared about a president who fires or threatens to fire people for not being patriotic. I think it is germane to repost it here too.

I agree that they have the freedom to kneel. I don't agree that it is a First Amendment issue, however. Those who frame it that way are relying on the assumption that the President (still not a supreme ruler despite some of the excesses we've witnessed from that office in recent decades) might use government force to have people fired, or worse. From a libertarian viewpoint, what I heard in his comment, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners ...say... he's fired" is a reminder that owners have rights, and so do fans, not just players. Freedom does not indemnify one against consequences. Or are you suggesting that, because a baker has to make and serve cakes at ceremonies he is personally opposed to, a team owner can't fire players for his own personal reasons? Where's the freedom in that?

Presidents have, in the past, actually fired government employees for protesting. President Reagan fired government air traffic controllers when they went on strike. The Republic survived. The current president isn't even doing that. Indeed, it has become much harder for presidents to fire people since then.

You mentioned earlier how our minds can be made to play tricks on us. President Trump has been called "worse than Hitler" but why? What is the argument for that? And did this horrific characterization precede the conclusions that his detractors are coming to in the wake of perfectly rational executive decisions or statements? Is it a factor in their assumption of the worst of intentions on his part?

I fully agree with you on your basic point: "I do not want my country to be one that starts to forcefully compel individuals to stand for the anthem nor to recite the pledge of allegiance." But the threats you fear are hollow in our free society, and disgrace exists only in one's heart.

I take it even further: "I do not want my country to be one that starts to forcefully compel individuals to do anything against his will." Unfortunately, we have crossed that line many times on many issues, and are much further down the slippery slope that frightens you on the issue at hand. I can't tell you how frightened I was during the previous eight years. Or, in retrospect, how much more frightened I should have been during the eight years prior to that.

What I see today is an electorate that has had enough of leaders who put "the world's" interests first. America is a nation that was founded on each individual's ability to put his own interests first. This is the complete opposite of "National Socialism" or any other form of socialism. It is individualism. President Trump was elected to return to that ideal. To "make America great again." Whether he succeeds or not, or takes the right decisions at this turn or that, is still to be seen. But I see it as an existential necessity for the Republic of the United States of America, and therefore for human freedom in the entire world - not just in our country. I'm willing to give him a pass for whipping up a patriotic frenzy amongst supporters who feel the same way.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:33 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

But I feel underrepresented in the "No Trump is not Hitler, but nor is he the reincarnation of James Madison" camp.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2017 4:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That's cool - as long as you aren't afraid of the boogeyman.

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2017 4:33 PM

September 7, 2017


It will probably not shock anybody that the WSJ Ed Page is close to my position on President Trump's dream squashing. But it is not just me, La Raza, and CNN.

As America's problems go, these young adults shouldn’t even be on the list. And it shows the Republican Party at its worst that the state AGs and Attorney General Jeff Sessions want to make this an urgent priority, rather than let Congress take it up when it has a less crowded schedule. They are pandering to the restrictionist right that is a minority even within the GOP.

The complete editorial has some harsh words for President Obama's overreach.
This was Mr. Obama at his most cynical, and it takes gall for him to scold Mr. Trump as he did Tuesday for making a "political decision" about "a moral question" and "basic decency." Mr. Obama's "political decision" to act as his own legislature teed up this moral crisis and created the legal jeopardy.

And it includes limited credit for President Trump's acting less harshly than his campaign rhetoric. But it is still well summed by its headline: "The Dreamer Debacle."

Posted by John Kranz at 9:29 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps a better moniker would be, "The Dreamer Maneuver."

"We discussed that [DACA] also today, and Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I," Trump said. "And I said if we can get something to happen, we're going to sign it and we're going to make a lot of happy people."

That's "Chuck and Nancy" as in "Schumer and Pelosi."

"Hey congressional Republicans, if you don't want to play ball with my White House then I'll just have to see what I can work out on the other side of the aisle."

I see the 3-month continuing resolution as a shot across the right side of the aisle, and if they don't get their act together on tax cuts and/or Obamacare repeal and replace, there will be a longer CR with the Democrats next time.

Call him unprincipled if you like, but it looks to me like he's not going to let anyone make him a lame duck president for his entire first term, followed by an ignominious defeat - even fellow members of the Republican Party.

The best-case scenario is it gets congressional Republicans asses in gear to work together for once.

Rather than "pandering to the basest part of his base" he may be playing three-dimensional chess.

Posted by: johngalt at September 6, 2017 3:54 PM

August 9, 2017

All Hail Freeman

Been too long:


Posted by John Kranz at 5:15 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"Exhausting?" But, we were told Trump is a Lazy Boy?

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2017 4:19 PM

June 13, 2017

A Sensible View of President Trump

Professor Victor Davis Hanson knocks it out of the park in "The Endless Ironies of Donald J. Trump."

I've felt rather adrift since the inauguration, seeing little commonality with either my apoplectic lefty friends nor #45's thoroughly dedicated supporters. National Review, if I am not mistaken, started the "never Trump" movement, and they have not been bashful about opposition.

And yet. While I hate to put words in someone else's mouth, VDH's piece, better described by the FB subhead "President Trump's Wrecking Ball to American Politics Was Long Overdue" seems to artfully lay out the defenses I've heard on ThreeSources.

Dr. Sawbones Trump smelled a festering wound, ripped off the scab, and proclaimed that the exposure would aerate and cure the gangrenous mass below.

I also see quite a bit of myself in the piece: being forced to accept the uncouth, skeptical of underlying motivations and dedication to principle.
Never have so many bright people proved so dense. Never have polls and politics proved so unreliable or partisan. Never have unintended consequences so replaced predictable results. Yes, we are in chaos, but we sense also that the pandemonium is purgative of the worse that prompted it -- and it is unpleasant mostly because it has so long been overdue.

And so forth. In a mid-length piece, he captures the current positions of the teams. And I feel that I am not in bizarre world after all. I highly recommend a complete read.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Looking forward to a complete read. But the sub-title has me kneeling and bowing in praise:

Pandemonium can be a revivifying purgative.

Way over my literary pay grade. But I'll shamelessly partner it with my [8th comment] "The administrative, or "deep" state is so entrenched that some china must be broken before things can be put on a proper rights-respecting course, for Americans and for the rest of the world. I truly believe this."

Posted by: johngalt at June 14, 2017 11:20 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Finally read the whole article, including the part where VDH employs my "bull-in-the-china-shop" analogy. Here's an interesting thought that he spurred in my mind when I read:

"It may not be that Trump earns hatred for unnecessary provocation and vitriol, but instead that he or any other Republican would have earned such venom anyway;"

Whether brilliantly intentional or beneficially accidental, the opposition to Trump's style and persona overshadows the opposition to his agenda. A suave and erudite Republican president, by contrast, would suffer the same slings and arrows with nothing to blame them on except his "heartless and racist" policy efforts.

So in a very real way, being obstreperous and uncouth makes Trump a more effective president, not less. It just feels a little smarmy, that's all.

Posted by: johngalt at June 21, 2017 7:14 PM
But jk thinks:


Now, if we could do something about trade, immigration, and -- increasingly -- thwarting AG Sessions's efforts to reinvigorate the war on weed.

Posted by: jk at June 21, 2017 7:24 PM

June 9, 2017

My Kind of "Disastrous Day"

CNN, MSNBC and their ilk salivated over fired FBI Director Comey's Senate testimony. When the day finally came, despite a string of curious yet inconsequential revelations, they called it a "disastrous day for this president." The financial markets said differently.

The hearings were yesterday, June 8. Markets up. Today, June 9, markets up more aggressively.

All three indices currently trading above all-time record high closes. Not bad, considering we're under "ignorant" leadership.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:28 AM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

"The Pence Rally?"

(.. forgive me brother, I know not what I'm typing...)

Posted by: jk at June 9, 2017 11:39 AM
But jk thinks:

In support of your theory, Ann Althouse points out that the NYTimes and WaPo led with UK elections.

Posted by: jk at June 9, 2017 11:40 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And my (biological) brother points out that Good Morning America led with:

UK election
"some girl falling in a hole while walking and reading her phone"
Miss Chelsea Manning

"When they finally got to Cromey (sic) they acknowledged Trump was never under investigation but concluded he must be now."

Posted by: johngalt at June 9, 2017 4:49 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Personally, I now consider Comey a Swamp-Weasel beyond compare. Only takes notes with GOP-POTUS types (conversations with W were published in Angler), gleans important insights to 'intent' but can' figger the 'intent' of deleting 30,000 eMails while under investigation. Nice quote here:

My view of Trump hasn’t changed, but my view of Comey has. Clearly, he is far from the straight shooter he holds himself out as. His primary interest isn’t the truth; it’s having his way. Kind of like Trump, but without the electoral mandate.
sayeth PL's Never-Trumper, Paul Mirengoff.

Posted by: nanobrewer at June 12, 2017 12:38 AM

May 19, 2017

impeachment? Puh-leeze

Rhymes with sleeze... good article from WaPo (yes, it happens!) on the history of that "last resort" option our framers included:

The more deliberate the inquiry, the better chance that the American people will have confidence in it. For Nixon, the process that led to his resignation took more than two years ... Impeachment requires proof of significant abuse of power or breach of public trust. Obstruction of justice, or even the attempt to obstruct, epitomizes that sort of offense, entailing as it does an attack on a system whose integrity the president has sworn to uphold
He offers no opinion on the DNC AV club's latest campaign to establish obstruction.
The House tried but failed three times to impeach Tyler for having done nothing more than protect the president’s authorities to veto legislation and nominate officials. Even though Johnson came within a single vote of being convicted in the Senate, most historians have dismissed his impeachment as driven more by partisanship than a proper basis for impeachment and removal.

Meanwhile, we shan't be surprised by some nasty collusion going on:
“A ranking Republican statesman this week told an off-the-record gathering that a ‘coup’ attempt was in progress against President Donald Trump, with collusion between the largely Democratic media and Trump’s numerous enemies in the Republican Party. The object of the coup, the Republican leader added, was not impeachment, but the recruitment of a critical mass of Republican senators and congressmen to the claim that Trump was ‘unfit’ for office and to force his resignation.”

And lastly, the HOSS of the Millennial crowd Tweets (with video) Stop making sh*t up! that Comey, ever the weasel, has already answered this question on May 3: Comey had *never* been told to stop an investigation for political reasons.

Posted by nanobrewer at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2017

Wisdom from Shawn

Former Statehouse Rep. Shawn Mitchell takes to Facebook and describes what perplexes me. I wonder if it resonates with others:

Not sure what to make of it, but Trump is driving a swath of Republicans/conservatives insane. I'm referring to opposite camps, the incorrigible never Trumpers and the canine always Trumpers. They both have taken leave of their senses.

The always Trumpers zealously defend and champion anything he does, even if it contradicts everything they ever claimed to believe and advocate in their former political life. The man can do no wrong. He will make America great again if we just get on his train.

The never Trumpers cannot accept any good thing he does and are making common cause with nihilist leftists to believe the worst things possible. Why, of course Vladimir Putin controlled our election with his little finger and now he's controlling Trump with iron puppet strings. They're a hop and skip away from joining the Occupy protesters in the streets.

I'm no historian, but I don't think America has ever seen anything like this cult of personality and anti-personality.

Now, to briefly finish the sketch, the rational conservatives I know are simply holding on for the ride and will support what they can and oppose what they should. Democrats and the Left can oppose Trump for reasons of politics or personality and be true to their roots either way.

But it's those always and never Republicans that make me feel like we've been invaded by body snatchers.

UPDATE: Point of order. I have blanket permission from Rep. Mitchell to share anything he posts on Facebook. I would not repost from other forums without permission or obfuscation. What you post on FB is between you and the NSA.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:26 AM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Maybe I don't spend enough time on Facebook to see the canines of the always Trumpers. Can you give an anecdote thumbnail sketch of what such a creature believes, or at least says, that makes him "insane?"

Or maybe I don't recognize it for the same reason I don't recognize my "American" accent - because I is one.

Actually I think my viewpoint is that it's not so much about pro or anti-Trump, as pro or anti-big government. And this dovetails with Shawn's construction: Always Trumpers are so determined to dismantle the Deep State that they'll back to the hilt the only man with a serious and credible goal to do so - President Donald J Trump. Never Trumpers are content enough with the way of things that they don't want the apple cart tipped, just for a silly ol' concept like economic freedom.

Here's how it looks from my lofty mountaintop- It takes energy to make things happen, and large numbers of people who are dedicated to the point of appearing "insane" bring lots of energy. And the fact that there's "insanity" both for and against the Trump maelstrom provides a balance that should prevent the worst excesses of either side from reaching implementation.

Stay engaged, speak your mind, sit tall in the saddle and enjoy your ride.

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2017 7:39 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

From the bales of the village idiot, I've always found quite a bit of comfort for those things that piss off both far left and the far right. Things that jump to mind are (treading dangerously, I know) Iraq War, (safer ground) nearly everything Reagan did, and supporting Israel.

Things that were (and are) leg-humped by "the mainstream" are: Renewable Porfolio Standards, Obamacare, food pyramid, TARP... in no particular order. For this reason (and Gorsuch, and Haley, and Pompeo, and Mulvaney....) I'm fairly content with the great orange one.

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 5, 2017 11:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Rereading this, I confess that the real insanity I see is betwixt "Always Trumpers" and "The Despondent Left."

But I do see what Shawn sees in the comments of his posts, but even more in the "Friends of Best of the Web" Facebook group. There are some militant (bordering-on-insane, Shawn uses more loaded words than I) folks on both sides. All joined the group because we like James Taranto, but stayed because it became a nice group of intelligent right-leaners. As a private group, respite for most members like I have ThreeSources. You can say Heterodox things that your family and workmates don't see. That group has several überpolarized Alwaysers and Neverses.

Are you one, dear reader? I posit two questions. You needn't answer publicly. But can you name Three things you really oppose the President on? Can you name three things you champion?

If you answer no to either, I am generally concerned. I should be three serious things or five small. I can do this on Presidents Obama or George W Bush but it is a struggle. With President Trump, I can go all day.

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2017 11:20 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't know of any Trump executive orders that I'm opposed to. There are some legislative ideas I don't like. Such as "relaxing" the libel rules so that the press can be sued, and removing the restriction on selling individual's personal browsing history by ISPs. But those can't happen without a complicit congress, right?

Of your "all day" long list of Trump fears, how many can be enacted by fiat? And how many have been already?

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2017 5:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Some of the Executive Orders have been the shining stars. The deregulation push and unwinding of President Obama's EOs are welcome. The -- I don't want to use loaded words, soften it to any term you'd like -- "Travel Ban" is a huge exception. Shooting down the TPP and first steps to renegotiate Nafta were not on my Christmas Card list.

The President and AG Sessions have stepped up deportation enforcement and pushed back on "Sanctuary Cities" (which my peeps call "Constitutional Cities" but that's a different post.)

I reject that a bad idea which Congress can save me from is not a bad idea. The President is titular head of the party. A modern president, sadly, drives the legislative agenda. His budget includes a Kookasauruszillion dollars for "the wall" which will likely be a hostage in a debt ceiling/government shutdown debate.

And it's only nine o'clock!

I'm going to get to the other side of one issue, however. You've been reading Mother Jones too much on the ISP privacy. We seriously need another thread, but your characterization is in error. Local ISP will have the same access to your data that Google and Facebook do now. For the switch the Internet is not regulated as a government utility. Why you be hurtin' on Trump so, Brother?

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2017 11:06 AM

March 2, 2017

Tweet of the Day

UPDATE: Okay, I'll be fair.(From an FB group, sorry I cannot provide attribution):


Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Seriously? You giving credence to this manufactured controversy?

Posted by: johngalt at March 2, 2017 2:52 PM
But jk thinks:

No, I just found it amusing.

I'm going with Reason on this one (no great friend of AG Sessions):

But meetings between U.S. officials and foreign ambassadors, even of countries many insist are "hostile," are par for the course. The U.S. should engage with any country willing to engage, on any issue where there might be convergence. The U.S. and Russia, recent anti-Russia hysteria aside, have complex relations. In the last year, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. met with, among others, the administrator of NASA and the governor of Tennessee (though neither of these appeared to be unforthcoming about their meetings). Last month he was scheduled to attend a physics conference also attended by Los Alamos scientists.

Posted by: jk at March 2, 2017 3:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The prior administration can conduct secret negotiations and establish Executive Agreements with Iran, the world's leading state-sponsor of terrorism, but anyone in this administration who ever spoke with a Russian official is denounced and called on to resign for national security reasons.

Or, it's just subterfuge.

Meanwhile, sources for the Times story said the campaign was not directed by Obama himself. Maybe not.

But did he know of it and, therefore, tacitly approve of it? If so, using a public office for a political purpose is a violation of the law, and this is highly questionable if not illegal behavior by a former president.

Will Schumer now call for an investigation of Obama and his aides for possible illegal interference with the operations of an incoming president?

Oh, and one more thing:

By the way, the Times report once again noted there was no evidence that Trump campaign officials coordinated in any way with Russians.

But who believes the "failing" New York Times? Even Schumer doesn't.

Posted by: johngalt at March 2, 2017 6:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I have not reached a decision. But the "crux of the biscuit" is perjury more than influence. "The 1990s called, they want their scandal language back!"

I'll confess getting rid of my least favorite cabinet member seems almost a fair trade for empowering the completely hypocritical opposition you cite.

The IBD editorial addresses, but your pull quotes do not, the AG's defense "He did in fact meet twice with the ambassador, but he says it was as a part of his job as a member of the Armed Services Committee — not as a Trump campaign adjunct. There's a very big difference."

I guess I can buy that -- I'd love to watch the tape -- but it seems like some hair-splitting, does it not?

Posted by: jk at March 2, 2017 6:42 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

again... Democrats:

Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election.

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 4, 2017 1:06 AM

February 17, 2017


What in the heck is going on with Evan McMullin? Tweeting that the President of the United States is a "domestic enemy" isn't that strange these days - we saw that frequently and from many sources over the last two Administrations. I'm talking about his overt Russophobia.

Is Russia still the heart of a lingering "evil empire?" When the USSR subjected everyone within it's very big but not very beautiful walls, that was an easy sell to a peace-loving western population. But today, they carry our astronauts to the International Space Station for goodness sake! The wall came down in nineteen-hundred and eighty nine. Remember?

And yet, today, Evan McMullin appeared on CNN's New Day this morning to tell Alisyn Camerota that Donald Trump wants to "weaken" the U.S. intelligence community because "he knows as long as he has the issues he has with Russia the intelligence community and he are not going to get along."

What are President Trump's "issues with Russia?" Well, there's the unsubstantiated claim of stealing the election. Each of us must discern whether or not to believe the various claims and counterclaims on that one. But one unambiguous conflict with the "intelligence community" is Trump's willingness for rapprochement with modern Russia.

Camerota asked Steve Hall, the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations about Trump’s press conference yesterday. Hall answered that,

"I don't think there is very much good news especially after we saw the press conference Donald Trump conducted yesterday ... he said things like it wouldn't be so bad if we had a good relationship with Russia."

The horror! The next we know, he'll be sending Rex Tillerson on a mission to "reset" U.S. relations with Russia. Who sets U.S. foreign policy, really... the C.I.A.? The Council on Foreign Relations? Senator John McCain? How about the elected Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the armed forces? Seems I read that in some old dusty document once.

There's clearly something really big going on here, behind the scenes of geopolitics. Past presidents have apparently been willing to let the puppetmasters have their way, in complete secrecy. President Trump on the other hand has a penchant for, shall we say, speaking his mind? And for doing so it is boasted that Trump will "die in jail" as the Intelligence Community prepares to "go nuclear" on him.

What was that old Dwight D. Eisenhower quote? "Beware the military-industrial complex" or something like that? Well, the Sting lyric, "I hope the Russians love their children too" can perhaps be updated to "I hope American Spooks love their children too."

You know it's a red-letter day when this humble blogger links to The Nation, but I find a lot of anti-Leviathan love here. I've never heard of Patrick Lawrence but he self-identifies as a progressive and writes about 'The Perils of Russophobia.'

 "Russian aggression" has to go down as one of the great, pernicious phrases of our time - requiring no further scrutiny whenever deployed. The Russians invaded Ukraine and then stole Crimea without prior provocation. Now they threaten to invade the Baltic states. They cultivate extreme-right nationalists in Europe so as to debilitate the European Union. The Russians are guilty of war crimes in Syria. They have just invaded us, too, corrupting our democratic process and throwing the 2016 election to Donald Trump and his houseful of "Kremlin lackeys."

This is the stuff of our reigning Russophobia. Let us try to identify what it is actually made of.

Every sentence in the above list has four attributes: (1) It is broadly accepted as fact just as written; (2) there is little confirmed, published evidence from impartial sources, if any, supporting it; (3) it is either one or another form of disinformation or misleads by way of omission - or both; and (4) it is a source of delusion. And in the matter of the last it is very weird. Our policy cliques do well enough deluding Americans to the effect that Russia now presents America with "an existential threat" - a thought Pentagon and NATO brass are making common currency, believe it or not - but they appear to think a nation deluded by their incessant repetitions is somehow a fine and sturdy thing.

I can be convinced that Iranian and North Korean nuclear ICBM's pose an "existential threat" but Russia has had them pointed at us for so long, and us at them, that nobody truly fears "mutual assured destruction" anymore. And what is a contemporary term for unsubstantiated delusional disinformation? "Fake news."

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:42 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Firstly, tovarich, I will accept your assessment of Evan McMullin. His post-election persona has not filled me with pride for having voted for him. Well, they were desperate times, and I'm not one for regrets.

I'll rather recall the other Mormon I voted for. Gov. Mitt Romney suggested Russia as a strategic threat in the 2012 debate. President Obama channeled The Nation in his derisive "The 1980's called -- they want their foreign policy back."

By all means, call McMullin overwrought, but I'd suggest more caution in disregarding Russian aggression. I'll also accept your bifurcating existential threats versus strategic. But I see Russia ready to work behind the scenes to discredit the US, and quite willing to work with Iran and possibly NKorea to achieve this. Their grisly involvement in Syria is enough to keep them at arms' length.

The only fundamental shift from the bad-old-days to now is the asymmetric difference in strength.
We have to fear them less because they have been weakened. But they still have hegemonic ambitions, and in the diplomatic realm, play chess to our checkers and -- at the risk of mixing metaphors -- hardball to our softball.

I don't stay awake at night fearing Russians under the bed, but I'm wary: a cornered, weakened bear is still dangerous.

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2017 12:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Okay, all of that is very fair. But are these legitimate concerns behind the IC "going nuclear" or is that more of a territorial behavior by an entrenched bureaucracy? One that happens to have some of the world's most powerful tools and influence at its disposal?

"Going nuclear" doesn't seem a proportional response to policy differences. Nor, even to concerns that POTUS has secretive "ties" to Russia. Just leak the details and let's have it out publicly. Unless, such public airing might do the self-described "Spooks" more harm than good.

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2017 12:34 PM

February 15, 2017

Rats Ass!

My favorite thing about the Trump Administration will not come to pass:


Because he was insufficiently hostile to immigration? NR thinks so.


UPDATE II: The WSJ Ed Page is more cheesed off than I am.

Mr. Puzder was also targeted by some on the right because he supported more legal immigration to meet the needs of a growing U.S. economy, which is a mortal sin on the restrictionist right. Mr. Puzder had once employed a housekeeper he didn’t know was undocumented, and though he fired her and paid back taxes, restrictionists wanted to punish him for supporting immigration reform. Heaven forfend he'd help farmers address their severe labor shortage.

They feel the Administration expended no effort to support Puzder, and point to the large peel-off of Republican Senators
This is what happens when Republicans begin to feel they must distance themselves from an unpopular President.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:35 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:


Labor unions, meanwhile, have given more than $10 million to the campaigns of the 11 Democrats on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Matthew Haller of the International Franchise Association has it exactly right when he says that the Democrats' opposition to Puzder "is perhaps the greatest example of a quid pro quo that's ever existed in modern politics."

Given the fact that Democrats are constantly complaining about the corrupting influence of money in politics, it's remarkable that they aren't taking heat for their blatant hypocrisy when they do the bidding of Big Labor.

Unfortunately, while DeVos managed to run the gantlet of union-backed opposition, Puzder wasn't so lucky. Several Republicans, unwilling to stand up to these outrageous attacks, caved and pressured Trump to pull his nomination.

Make no mistake, Puzder's demise had nothing whatsoever to do with his qualifications to run the Labor Department or anything else Democrats claimed. It was entirely about campaign cash.

Posted by: johngalt at February 16, 2017 6:48 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't want to break protocol, but I disagree partly. What is said is 100% accurate -- and the failure to count Union cash in the same bucket as corporate lucre has offended me for decades.

But -- and yes I've a well ensconced burr in my saddle -- they spent far more to defeat Sec. DeVos than Puzder. Eleven Republicans caved because Puzder is not on a the Trump team on immigration.

My deepest fear from the campaign -- that a victorious Trump would turn the GOP into the Tancredo-Trump party -- gained ground yesterday.

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2017 7:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I've no hard conclusion oil this one. I just wanted to share a counterfactual from a respected, for me anyway, source. The real proof will be in his replacement.

For my part, I hope he gets the immigration dirty work done quickly and moves on to more consequential priorities.

Posted by: johngalt at February 16, 2017 11:48 PM

February 13, 2017

Forgotten Texans

Mary Anastasia O'Grady keeps the lamp of fre trade liberty lit at the WSJ Ed Page. Presidents Trump and FDR both talked about "The Forgotten Man."

Yet as Amity Shlaes explains in her 2007 book, "The Forgotten Man," that term originated with Yale professor William Graham Sumner. In his 1883 essay the forgotten man is the one who is passed the bill--unnoticed--when do-gooders propose "measures of relief for the evils which have caught public attention."

Sumner didn’t name names. He simply described the injustice of A and B getting together to help X with some new law. C isn't in on the plan but he carries the burden. "Such is the Forgotten Man," Sumner wrote. "He works, he votes, generally he prays--but he always pays--yes, above all, he pays."

In Mr. Trump's war on globalism, Texas is brimming with Cs--hard-working Americans who have adjusted to freer trade and now find that A and B want to change the rules as a favor to X. There are millions more Cs all over the U.S.

The Forgotten Man [Review Corner]

Posted by John Kranz at 7:00 PM | Comments (3)
But nanobrewer thinks:

she's good, she's really good. I miss her dispatches from Latin America - a breath of fresh air while the Manhattan Media was covering for HRC's stumping for the cum-dictator Zelaya.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 13, 2017 11:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Trump economic advisor Arthur Laffer was on Varney this morning talking about the unmitigated badness of a border adjustment tax, i.e. import tariff. Good news, if he's still on the payroll for Team Trump.

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2017 1:10 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Hmm, yeah. WSJ 3rd editors opinion today notes that

Gary Cohn runs the National Economic Council and is already muscling out competing voices on taxes and finance and blocked supply-siders Steve Moore and Larry Kudlow from senior White House jobs.
Oof SM and LK were two of the most palatable things that compelled me to pull the level for DJT.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 15, 2017 12:46 AM

February 8, 2017

Potential Agonistes

Friends, ThreeSourcers, Countrymen. A massive test of our new President's philosophic malleability is underway. I don't want to declare defeat early, but there is cause for concern.

Republicans of impeccable pedigree are lobbying for carbon taxes. George P. Schultz and James Baker III are lobbying for carbon taxes in the WSJ.

And a looming White House meeting is extant:

The group, including former Treasury Secretaries Hank Paulson and James Baker, is pressing President Donald Trump to tax carbon dioxide in exchange for abolishing a slew of environmental regulations. They unveiled their plan with a press conference in Washington and an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

"We know we have an uphill slog to get Republicans interested in this," Baker said before heading to the White House. But "a conservative, free-market approach is a very Republican way of approaching the problem."

Other possible attendees at the meeting include the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, who weighed climate change policy during the campaign, and Vice President Mike Pence.

An inviolate will would come in pretty handy.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:58 AM | Comments (5)
But nanobrewer thinks:

Schultz and Baker have given admirable service to their country, but I'm pretty sure they're known to be big gov't schills (W paid them too much heed, IMO), and the part of the GOP most disliked by TP's and generally the great unwashed.

Now, trying to look at the bright side of things, what if it's an infinitesimal tax (that decreases in time)? Far easier to rid than a "slew" of environmental regs. Still, it;s ploy that might work on "The Boss"

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 8, 2017 3:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A carbon tax, no matter how small, would never remain small. It would also never go away.

But this is contradictory to everything Trump campaigned on. Did you note that the liked story is from Bloomberg? The most conservative people there are the RINOs. There's a different take at Breitbart.

President Trump has tweeted that he will not support or endorse a carbon tax:


White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has said that President Trump's "default position" on climate change is that "most of it is a bunch of bunk."

This is one of those areas where we really want to have Steve Bannon in the room.

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2017 5:48 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Excellent; just another bit of fake news. GOP's gotta stay strong - now that the cabinet has been won, ACA and USSC are crucial. I really hope The Wall can wait a bit... Spencer's first proposal (tax the trade imbalance is economic ignorance write YYUUGE! Dr. Hanson has a better idea - tax remittances, and quit that when teh wall is done.

Another of his wise-iteis is:

Obviously, the Left in general sees almost any restriction on immigration as antithetical to its larger project of a borderless society run by elites such as themselves. Obviously Republican establishmentarians fear any media meme suggesting that they are complicit in an illiberal enterprise.

Read more at:

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 9, 2017 8:29 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And there's also Roger Simon, channeling Three Sources, pointing out the bad timing of Shultz and Baker's pitch coinciding with Climategate II. It's comparable to the unusually cold weather that invariably accompanies Global Warming conferences.

He also has this to say about the rush to "do something" even though so little is known about climate variability.

Climate science is very new. Whether the Earth is warming or cooling or for what reasons is not clear. Yet politicians, indeed just about everybody from Scarsdale to San Diego, from your hair dresser to your real estate broker, has an opinion about it of which they are absolutely convinced and unwavering. Nothing could more unscientific than that! Settled science is an oxymoron. Ask Einstein.

We are far from knowing enough about climate to invest billions in its "solution," certainly not in the absurd amounts agreed to in Paris and unfortunately not even on the more reasonable level recommended by Shultz and Baker.

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2017 5:54 PM
But jk thinks:

I cannot find it for proper attribution, but I saw an article with a(n unflattering) picture of Sec. Clinton and the head: "Hillary wants her carbon Tax Back!" Perhaps we are safe, but if such a a thing can get twi former GOP Secretaries of State and Treasury . . .

My buddy, N. Gregory Mankiw was the king of this. The Professer says: there is some deleterious effect to adding carbon to the atmosphere, let us tax it and not the generation of wealth. Pigou smiles down from on high.

Eve if I trusted a complete offset (which I don't), I don't like the government picking Good and Bad without more evidence.

Posted by: jk at February 9, 2017 6:57 PM

February 6, 2017

Tying Truth's shoelaces

"Fake News" like Savoir-Faire, is apparently everywhere. Even at Reason dot com.

One anecdote offered as proof that the presidential executive order to pause immigration from seven dangerous lands was a "dumpster fire" turns out to be a lie.

(UPDATE: Fox2 Detroit reports Hager's imam, Husham Al-Hussainy, says Hager's mother died five days before President Trump's executive order banning travel from Iraq and six other countries was implemented. Hager has not provided additional comment at this time.)

says Mike Hager's mom did not pass away this weekend after being barred from traveling to the United States. The Imam confirms that Hager's mother died before the ban was put in place.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to sort the truth from one of its many alternatives, one bit of advice seems apropos - "The earlier the report, the lower the expectation of veracity."

UPDATE - Did somebody say fake news? Even the print media is susceptible to rushing to judgment for the sake of a scoop.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:50 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Props for "Savoir-Faire."

My initial post highlighted the difficulty of acquiring objective facts when things are spinning out of control. My initial "dumpster dive" into the affair was to question a post about a Clemson post-grad green card holder who was chased off a flight from Iran.

"Poppycock" said I, your brave defender of facts, determined to stamp out outrageous lies against the President's policies. Surely he's not keeping out legal residents!

Oh. Wait. He was.

Now that a stay is in place, there are many "anecdotes" of people -- legal residents -- travelling quickly during the stay. Still a dumpster fire, but sorry if I promulgated any bad evidence against it.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2017 10:57 AM
But johngalt thinks:

You are blameless, brother, in the promulgation of "fake news." Even Reason gets a pass in my book. Sometimes folks lie for political benefit: "Hands up! Don't Shoot!" or "Hottest year on record!" are just a couple of examples.

What I'm really saying here is that "fake news" is not a threat to civilization - rushing to judgment is.

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2017 2:37 PM

February 1, 2017


Any possibility of rapprochement? I am proposing "RESOLVED: President Trump badly overstepped in his immigration EO. He rushed to keep a campaign promise, but overstepped both because it was rushed, and because he and his team have a predilection toward enforcement." If you'll join me there, I will drop my accusation of "malevolence."

We may disagree on refugees, but is there appetite around here to deny re-entry to green card holders?

Another huge overreach which should be corrected immediately is to exempt interpreters and military officials, many of whom risked their lives to further American agendas. WSJ:

BAGHDAD--Gen. Talib al Kenani commands the elite American-trained counter terrorist forces that have been leading the fight against ISIS for two years.
"I'm a four star general, and I'm banned from entering the U.S.?" he said.

His family was relocated to the U.S. for their safety, and he'd had plans to see them next week, until he was told not to bother.

"I have been fighting terrorism for 13 years and winning," he said. "Now my kids are now asking if I'm a terrorist?" . . .

"This ban needs to be reviewed," Kenani said. "We thought we were partners with our American friends, and now we realize that we're just considered terrorists."

Not. Good.

UPDATE: Trump's Travel Ban Forces Elderly Green Card-Holder to Stay in Iraq. She Died the Next Day

Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Policy by anecdote?

Okay, does the general not have a G-1, G-2, G-3 or G-4 visa? Perhaps if he waits until the next business day he might also request an exemption under paragraph (g):

...the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

Okay, I admit that, in hindsight, it would have been preferable to risk a few more terrorists sneaking in than to spring the policy unannounced.

But what about the counter-factual? Suppose the new policy had been announced in advance? I submit that the sturm and drung would have been even worse, and the predictions of impending doom far exceeded your two sad anecdotes. Then what?

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2017 3:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Did somebody say overreach?

Rep. Joaquin Castro warned Tuesday that if the White House has ordered the US Customs and Border Protection Agency to ignore judicial stays against the controversial refugee travel ban, Congress must begin the process of formally censuring — and potentially impeaching — President Donald Trump.

But, from the same piece:

CBP spokesperson Gillian Christensen denied the agency was directed to ignore court orders halting enforcement of the executive order.

"CBP officers are not detaining anyone. Green card holders who arrive in the US have to go through secondary screening but that process is working smoothly and relatively quickly," Christensen said. "Furthermore, visa holders who would be affected by the executive order are being denied boarding at their point of departure so they are not even making it into the US."

"Secondary screening" does not equal denial of freedom of movement.

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2017 4:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Please pardon my Germlish. That should have been "sturm und drang."

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2017 6:01 PM
But jk thinks:

"Wie wir auch unsern Schuldigern"

I'll concede a tactical question of forward announcement. I'm more concerned that it was not reviewed by anybody. It was not clear who was affected and who not. It should have been vetted internally.

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2017 6:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Update Update.

Reason has corrected its own article:

(Updated: Family Imam Says Story is a Lie, She Actually Died Before the Ban)
Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2017 2:50 PM

January 31, 2017

All Hail Harsanyi

No, seriously. I think David Harsanyi has words of wisdom for both the distraught and indefatigable among us.

The election phase of the debate is over. Traditionally, presidents offer a menu of policies that more or less comport with the worldview of their party. This is different. So while I don't contend to speak for all conservatives, I do imagine many are horrified/excited/sad/happy/content/embarrassed by what's going on -- often on the same day.

Hasanyi suggests "Conservatives" take it issue by issue, which I have tried. He lays out his good-Trump / bad-Trump dichotomies which comport fairly closely with mine.

I'd suggest a read in full and look forward to any potential areas of agreement.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:20 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Harsanyi writes,

"From my perspective, Trump is neither presidential, competent, nor ideologically (or otherwise) coherent most of the time."

Let's consider the most important of this - "coherent most of the time." Is there anything about which any of the Trump Administration's "agonistes" is consistent? A list:

- Telling the media to "keep its mouth shut"
- Failed to mention Jews specifically in its Holocaust Rememberance statement
- Erroneously including green-card holders in the temporary travel ban from Congressionally identified terror threat countries
- Seating a "pseudo-intellectual chauvinist" on the NSC
- Stating that waterboarding isn't torture
- "Blatantly lying" about crowd sizes

Harsanyi contrasted each of these with some other unalloyed good, at least from a Republican perspective, to illustrate his purported incoherence. But when considered as a group, without Harsanyi's chosen counterpoint, I can see a coherent theme. Namely, a fierce assault on an overly sensitized media that suffers from Political Correctness Stockholm Syndrome, which goes beyond mere manipulation and into the realm of psychological assault. Perhaps he intends to "deprogram" the media but, more likely, he's just keeping them off balance and focused on what they consider "extreme" rhetoric while he "does his job" as he explained it to the voters who put him in office.

One problem with this strategy is that members of the general public, to a degree that is proportional to their sensitivities about various social issues, can view the president as erratic and "incoherent."

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2017 3:10 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Ok, I can agree with:

offensive, amateurish, and historically illiterate
the only question is who's worse: Trump or Harsanyi? {now, I'm recalling that Harsanyi is often offensive; he tries to disappoint...}

Telling the media to “keep its mouth shut,”
Sigh; he - as did the rest of the LameStream Media obviously only using half of what's left of their right brain - cut out the most important, THE FOCUS OF THE EFFING STATEMENT (DUH!!) and listen!! (pssst: listen to the American people). Sheesh. This is a bad a misquote as citing Palin as saying "God is on our side." Offensive (Harsanyi, that is) or shrill amateur?

I can agree with:

James Mattis, Mike Pompeo, and other competent cabinet picks that align well with prevailing Republican worldviews. Most cabinet members have nothing to do with Trumpism, yet Democrats act as if every selection is a fanatic.

Trump says waterboarding isn’t torture.
So do I, as does Mike Rosen, amongst others who think head-strong and safety-first (Cotton, Cruz...). I can make a solid argument, but it might make him up his Lithium dosage!

Trump will blatantly lie about crowd sizes
Sigh, and I was just warming up to Spectator. Idiot: there is no way to measure a crowd size like that. Harsanyi left off the slash-regulations EO, but made a half-hearted swipe at the USSC. Um, did JK actually use the word "wisdom" in reference to this post? I can agree with this as practical but not wise:
One day Trump’s negatives might make him completely unpalatable for most conservatives. Today, what reason do they give to make common cause with morally preening liberals who overreact to every executive order and utterance? In this environment, it’s perfectly acceptable, even preferable, to take politics issue by issue.
Posted by: nanobrewer at February 1, 2017 12:29 AM

January 30, 2017


One interesting game is developing in the early portion of '17: will my buddies be able to defend the latest action of President Trump? Will they last four years? Or will issue X be the thing to break them?

I'm seated and in a listening mood. I'll open with the suggestion that the EO in immigration was cruel, uneconomic, very poor politics -- and executed completely bone-headedly badly.

Green Card Holders? People with homes, family and dogs in the United States; people who were allowed to enter the country last Thursday cannot enter on Saturday? Charles Cooke of NR is a green card holder -- tell 'em about the un-vetted pathway to the US the program presents for terrorists Charlie:

Unlike, say, H1B-carriers, permanent residents are expected to live in America by default, and are in fact penalized if they don't. By law and by expectation, this country is their home; their base; the ground in which their roots are planted. Because of this, permanent residents are able to purchase, own, and carry firearms; they are required to register with the selective service; and they are treated for tax and welfare purposes as are U.S. citizens. They can’t vote or serve on a jury, but, other than, they effectively enjoy all the liberties that natural born Americans enjoy. When they re-enter the country, the agent says "Welcome Home," which is a big change from their visa days. They are not Americans, and they mustn't pretend to be. But they are as close as one can get without being one.

Another game of '17 has been to shoot down the insane anti-Trumpers who post outrageous fabrications on Facebook to make the President look bad. I started to do this Saturday night. "OMG, he isn't keeping out people who belong here," sez me. "He's keeping out new people. I disagree profusely but he campaigned on it and yadda yadda..."

Oh? What's that? He is detaining green card holders? Women in Seatlle are told by their employer not to visit their parents in Canada for fear of being denied re-entry?

Kellyanne Conway points out that 300,000 people were not detained at the airport! Why look at all the black people who were not lynched in the Jim Crow Era!

I understand they are backing off the green-card bit. Good for them. But can any of our indefatigable defenders contradict Jonathan Adler?

Whatever one thinks of the underlying policy, the degree of administrative incompetence in its execution is jaw-dropping. Like Orin below, I think it's worth quoting this Benjamin Wittes post from the Lawfare blog:
The malevolence of President Trump's Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly--and perhaps only--by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction.

Even the righties at Instapundit who welcome the restrictions are not pleased. The Professor links:
JOHN HINDERAKER: Is Trump's Immigration Order the Worst of Both Worlds? "President Trump is taking a lot of political heat, and therefore expending a considerable amount of political capital, for an immigration order that doesn’t go far enough to be meaningful."

I don't think I want to know what the Powerline lads think is "far enough to be meaningful." But the President spent a lot of political capital this weekend (and why the hell was it on a weekend?) Did he get good value?

UPDATE: Never mind. I guess it is going well.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:18 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I'll go first-

Has anyone actually READ the ACTUAL executive order, or is everyone reacting to all of the fallout? I sought it out this morning, on white house dot gov, but didn't find it. Instead, I found a link to it in an NRO piece defending Trump, indefatigably, by Andrew C. McCarthy. The order is reprinted by the (NY) Times. Some highlights:

Firstly, did anyone know that there has been a waiver program on the "requirement" that all visa applicants be interviewed face-to-face? I didn't.

"Sec. 8. Visa Interview Security. (a) The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions."

And then there's the "ban" language, "indefinitely" prohibiting the entry of all muslims. Err, all muslims from seven countries (seven countries named by congress AND the Obama Administration as dangerous.) But there are these exclusions from the "ban:"

(excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

And this blanket exception:

(g) Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

And the "ban" is temporary: 90 days for regular visas and 120 days for the refugee program. More of a "specific suspension" than an "indefinite ban" if you asked me.

Might there be things they could have fine tuned, done differently, or implemented better? Sure. It's been one day! Can we give them a few more hours, at least, before drawing up articles of impeachment?

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2017 1:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That was yesterday. Today, McCarthy is defatigable. Or at the very least, Monday-morning quarterbacking.

I am sympathetic to the new Administration's motive to implement policy without timetables, which the enemy may exploit. Yes, they probably went too far in this case. So fix it and move on. Then implement the next "deplorable" policy quickly, so that this one fades from the headlines.

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2017 1:35 PM

January 27, 2017

Quote of the Day

Doesn't the "art of the deal" include giving your negotiating partner room to compromise? Mr. Trump made it impossible for Mr. Peña Nieto even to negotiate, all the more so after Mr. Peña Nieto went out of his way in August to invite Mr. Trump for a visit. That campaign stop helped Mr. Trump show he could stand on stage as an equal with a foreign leader, but Mr. Peña Nieto took a beating at home when Mr. Trump returned to Mexico-bashing. -- WSJ Ed Page
Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

I clicked through to find WSJ claiming that "The President is treating our neighbor like Obama treated Israel."


The President of Mexico seems to think he has the upper hand, much like Reagan did prior to meeting Gorbachev at Reykjavik. In accepting Nieto's cancellation of the meeting, Trump has merely called his bluff. He certainly didn't arrange for Mexico to be skewered in a UN vote.

The WSJ Ed Page seems ever more hyperbolic by the week.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2017 4:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I call it "holding his feet to the fire." This is the very dark side of the Trump agenda. The WSJ has been Free People - Free Markets for a very long time and I am happy to see their keeping it up.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2017 7:43 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

In public, agreed with JK that Trump has taken a hard stance. I heard on the radio this week that one cabinet member (Pence?) suggested that Mexico would "pay" by taking it out of their foreign aid budget. This is doable, and has some merit on several fronts.... it could inspire the discussion about Mexican immigrants, legal, illegal and in-between (aka, work in Douglas, AZ) and the cost/benefit ratio. Sadly, in today's Mainly Hysterical media market, I don't see that happening.

We have a right to build a fence, no one questions that. So, while we may debate its merits and debits, it's more than a bit beyond the pale to say that Mexico will pay for it.

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 28, 2017 9:58 AM
But jk thinks:

One should be more circumspect about using the phrase "no one questions that..." 'round these parts.

Whatever one's thoughts on immigration, the wall will require a gooberload of eminent domain, it will be very injurious to private property, and it could be suggested as injurious to American's rights to emigrate. (Not a South Park joke -- do we not have a right to leave?)

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2017 12:48 PM

January 25, 2017

Two Steps Forward, One Back

Bully for the President! Approving Keystone XL and Dakota Pipelines. Way to go.

The WSJ Ed Page -- like me -- is quite enthusiastic. The rule of law was truly subverted on both of these to appease the environmentalist left.

Such carve outs for progressive constituencies are one reason voters rejected Democrats in November, and the pipelines promise broader prosperity. Keystone is predicted to spin off 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, many of them to be filled by union workers, and add $3 billion to GDP. The pipeline could move 830,000 barrels a day along the route from Alberta to Nebraska; up to 100,000 would come from North Dakota, where a glut of crude has to travel by rail to reach refineries built to process it. The efficiencies will ripple across the oil and gas industry.

Pretty awesome huh? Boy, we sure like the cut of that Trump fellow's jib. Oh. Wait...
One danger here is President Trump's campaign promise to "renegotiate some of the terms" that included bromides about how "we'll build our own pipes, like we used to in the old days." He floated royalty payments during the campaign, and a separate order on Tuesday directed the Commerce Department to develop a plan to use U.S. steel and iron in all new pipelines. TransCanada has said in past months that it's "fully committed" to Keystone XL, but the company may not be eager for another politician to direct its investment decisions.

Ah yes, the good old days when we built our own pipes. Wow -- America was really great back then. I'm going back to bed -- call me on my mobile if you need anything...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:15 AM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Perhaps. The WSJ Editorial Board has suggested that President Trump offers business a bargain: I'm going to lower your taxes and keep government regulators off your back; you're going to let me browbeat you and bias your investments toward domestic production.

As a great blue-eyed economist once said "That ain't love. But it will have to do until the real thing comes along." Much as I love trade, that's likely a better bargain than they saw over the previous eight years,

Posted by: jk at January 25, 2017 4:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm actually hopeful that Trump is more saavy than all of the principled free-market advocates realize. Yes, he is distorting markets with his browbeating. But perhaps he is doing it as a countermeasure against foreign currency manipulation. There is a direct way to counter such manipulation, which is "by far, the world’s most protectionist international economic policy in the 21st century" and there are indirect ways. Perhaps President Trump is engaging in one of these. Among other things, the browbeating has the advantages that it can be done quickly, by executive action, and it is not an obvious countermeasure to something else. It just looks like unbridled populism. It is that, of course, but a principled executive knows how far to take it before backing off.

We have admitted that Trump is smarter than most critics assume, haven't we?

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2017 7:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Dagny told me I'm a hopeless, rationalizing, optimist.


Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2017 1:40 PM
But dagny thinks:

And he thinks the Rockies are going to be good this year.

Posted by: dagny at January 26, 2017 1:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I was going to comment on your optimism, but I would never have gone so far as Sister Dagny (though the brave black and purple are not without talent...)

On a serious note, optimism is good and I must admit that -- so far -- more of your rosy scenarios have materialized than my dark dystopian visions. But it is Day Four; I hope you'll be willing to hold him accountable.

And yes, he is well served by the compete insanity of his critics. Holy Cow, those people have left the rational plane. But they can be bonkers and he can still be wrong.

And the bullpen. Some steps up, but enough?

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2017 3:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I'll hold him accountable. I probably won't march on the capitol or cut off any parts of my anatomy, but I'll always be willing to condemn bad acts.

I haven't been following the Rox off-season moves but I did hear about the once great Royals reliever who's coming off some surgery or another. But a sports radio jock I know is predicting Rocktober already!

Hope springs eternal - if not this year, then next. Or the year after that. ;)

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2017 4:17 PM

January 21, 2017

The Inaugural Address

I enjoyed the quote jg posted yesterday. And the reviews were generally good except from sources expectedly unsympathetic. People laughed at Kellyanne Conway's dress; I found it rather cute.

But. We have to talk. I watched it on YouTube last night (I was busy at work, not boycotting) and I cannot think of a nice thing to say. I lost all the goodwill and optimism I had accrued from some of his pleasing cabinet picks.

It was bad in tone, style and substance. There was that (one) great line about taking power from Washington to give to the people. But the rest of his speech was how he was going to use his power to run the economy and the world.

And, I know his pugilism is held in high regard by his devotees, but it was uncalled for. The inauguration has been called our national quadrennial religious service. I watch it every four years and usually weep with pride. He sullied it by ripping into his political opponents, many of whom showed grace and courage by attending.

The boycotters look prescient. It will be a very long four years.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM | Comments (4)
But nanobrewer thinks:

I don't have much regard for Trump's speeches, nor him in general. I loved the money quote of returning power to the great unwashed, and there was another about America as a symbol. I was unnerved by the whole 'America 1st' bit. Yes, one should strive and believe in it, but should one really have to say it so?

This will be an interminable 4 years if you take him literally. I'm most interested in how Pompeo handles CIA and the general bog remediation.

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 22, 2017 1:52 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

His latest tweet (I'm considering a collection nof the good ones, since I know my FB feed will regularly feature the bad ones) shows that he should not be taken literally, and that he - unlike those on the Left (or in the media) - genuinely cares about the great unwashed:

"Great to meet one of my earliest and most dedicated supporters! I am deeply humbled by the faith that millions of Americans have placed in me and our movement - and to those who did not support me, I ask for the chance to be your President too as we make America great again together."
The supporter in question is Shawn Bouvet, who reportedly got a $10,000 check from ... Trump, I guess, for his father's chemo. More than BHO ever gave his brother....

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 22, 2017 10:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

As I watched the address live on C-Span I found it inspiring. I had one regret - that while he said "America First" he didn't also say "when America prospers, the entire free world benefits."

Then I read the transcript, linked in my Inauguration Day "Otequay" and found that he did say as much, and almost in as many words:

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

Quite the libertarian campaign plank, no? At least the second paragraph. But the first paragraph is pure Rand - rational self-interest. Only an altruist should object.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2017 4:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You said we have to talk. I love to talk! You also said you cannot think of a nice thing to say, but then you called the line about taking power from Washington to give it to the people "great."

But that is trifling. The Big Picture theme of your critique was the tone. It's interesting that you painted the inauguration as a "national religious service" because Don Surber, who called the speech "magnificent" cited a Matt Drudge report that "this inauguration featured more prayer than any past one." Then added his own observation that "We need God more than ever before, because we are in danger of losing our republic."

I never thought a new president could top JFK in 1961. Reagan came the closest in his two tries.

The Donald just did.

God blessed America when He gave President Trump that final nudge to run.

And now he is trampling out the vintage, where the grapes of wrath are stored.

We like to think we are bigger than the religious stuff. We like to think we have evolved. But as I look at the damage inside Americans - drugs, abortion, and hate - I realize we devolved.

This thrice married, nearly bankrupted, loud, and occasionally crude man is a gift from God. President Trump is far from perfect.

But we crucified the one perfect man on Earth God sent.

Let us stand behind President Trump not to blindly obey but rather to cheer him when he is right, help him see the light when he isn't, and get back to making America great again.

I don't think you oppose the idea of religiosity as much as I might. What I think sours you is that notion of "wrath." That seems to me where the debate should be centered.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2017 4:55 PM

January 10, 2017


I'm biting my tongue on the pick of Sen Jeff Sessions for USAG. We disagree on trade, immigration, and self-ownership -- but he is what Candidate Trump promised. Despite the cray-cray from the left, I think him to be fundamentally a good man.

And, I knew going in that a Trump Administration would have some nasty surprises. But. Just. No. Tell me this is not happening.

WASHINGTON--Outspoken vaccine critic Robert Kennedy Jr. has accepted a position within Donald Trump's administration as chair of a panel on vaccine safety and scientific integrity--the clearest sign yet of the president-elect's suspicions about vaccines.

The offer, which came in a Wednesday meeting between Trump and the scion of America's most prominent Democratic family, is likely to concern scientists and public health experts who fear the incoming administration could give legitimacy to skeptics of childhood immunizations, despite a huge body of scientific research demonstrating that vaccines are safe.

Outspoken, Junk Science Loon they meant to say...

Posted by John Kranz at 4:31 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

On the other hand."

Saying that he is in favor of vaccines in principle, he [Trump] also explained, "But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time."


But while professing his overall faith in vaccines, [Dr. Ben] Carson did say this: "We are probably giving way too many in too short a period of time…"

Fair and balanced, we are.

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2017 5:42 PM
But jk thinks:

A guy who really understood Thucydides would be more careful about dividing his forces, My blog brother and I are tussling over this issue on Facebook.

We should perhaps schedule an argument over the general efficacy and safety of vaccines. In full spoiler alert, I am pretty close to 100% onboard the pointy-head, capital-S Science belief that the dangers are many times outweighed by the benefits.

But that was not really what this post was about. This post is about a green-loony's being given a platform to expound on wacked out conspiracy theories.

If you hold with the esteemed editors of (c'mon, you'd make sport of me...) that more research is needed on the total amount of vaccines given and the safety of all vehicles used to preserve and deliver them, okay. Let's look at that.

Buuuuuut, if you think that nuanced thinking and pragmatism is going to come from a panel headed by this guy, then I think you had too much Thimerosal as a child.

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2017 3:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair, of course. But what if you think that guy gives political cover? Is that a bad thing?

Besides, President Donald has to do a few stupid things or else we'd think his level of perfection to be inhuman. Instead of "NOOOOOOOO!" can we just say, "Swing and a miss for Swamp Drainer in Chief?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 12, 2017 2:37 PM

January 4, 2017

"None of this is good news."

As openly admitted, I have been very impressed with many of President-Elect Trump's personnel picks and his style in general since the election. I gave President Obama a chance, and I certainly have more in common with P-E Trump.

But we will soon face the damages from my initial reservations. I've accepted Sen. Jeff Sessions as AG, not because I am a fan, but because he represents what Trump campaigned on -- an AG Sessions fulfills a campaign promise, albeit one I did not want.

A couple of negative stories today from two sources I highly esteem:

  • Tyler Cowen looks at his picks for Commerce and US Trade. I stole his summary for this post's headline;

  • Don Boudreaux links to Cowen and piles on, most notably blasting USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer’s incorrect views of the trade deficit.

Can't win 'em all, I guess.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2016

Tired of Winning

Hmm, that would've a better category title than "Trump Agonistes."

I must weigh negatively on the Carrier "save." Hell, for $7million, I'll move "" to Indiana. But a lefty friend posted a link the other day saying "I'm waiting to hear my Republican friends decry this abuse of the free market." My response started with "You should get out more, bro..."

I'll let my pals and intellectual superiors at the WSJ Ed Page say it:

A giant flaw in President Obama's economic policy has been the politicized allocation of capital, from green energy to housing. Donald Trump suffers from a similar industrial-policy temptation, as we've seen this week with his arm-twisting of Carrier to change its decision to move a plant to Mexico from Indiana.

Carrier announced Wednesday that it will retain about 1,000 jobs in Indianapolis that would have moved to Mexico over the next three years, and on Thursday Mr. Trump held a rally at the plant and claimed political credit. The President-elect had made Carrier a piñata for his trade politics during the campaign, and post-election he lobbied Gregory Hayes, the CEO of United Technologies Corp. (UTC) that owns Carrier, to reconsider.

Everyone--even the Obama White House--is hailing the move as a great political victory, and in the short term it is for those Indianapolis workers, who make more than $20 an hour on average. But as U.S. auto workers have learned the hard way, real job security depends on the profitability of the business. Carrier wanted to move the production line to Mexico to stay competitive in the market for gas furnaces. If the extra costs of staying in Indianapolis erode that business, those workers will lose their jobs eventually in any case.

Trump has a much better play to #MAGA. His superb energy policy will keep energy costs down and make the US incredibly attractive for manufacturing. No cronyism necessary.

UPDATE: Tyler Cowen, interviewed on NPR

Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Along with reduction of the corporate income tax. But those things must wait until the MAGA Administration is actually sworn in. The Carrier "deal" was actually sweetened by Indiana's governor, using Indiana policy provisions. Astute readers will recognize that Indiana's governor is the President Elect's Vice President Elect.

May we* please refrain from blaming the incoming president for bad policy until he is actually sworn in as president? There will be plenty of time and, surely, plenty to [rightly] criticize.

* The "royal" we, not implicating my favorite blog brother.

Posted by: johngalt at December 2, 2016 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

I leap to my own defense on this one. Am I wrong that the President-Elect is taking something of a victory lap for this? His supporters -- excepting perhaps my favorite blog brother -- seem to be.

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2016 3:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, you aren't wrong. It was a campaign promise, and because of the persuasive words of the "world's greatest dealmaker" it has been fulfilled, at least in part, at least at one factory. A factory that he made an example of in said campaign.

I call it "watered-down cronyism" because it uses targeted tax relief, rather than the 100 percent evil government subsidy. I have called it a "transitional act" elsewhere. It was an expedient way to satisfy his supporters, even if it doesn't please market purists. It's nothing that isn't done every day, in cities and towns across the country, in their misguided attempts to attract industry (and thus jobs and tax revenues.) Which doesn't excuse the president elect from criticism, but does leave open the possibility that it is the momentary exception to the pending administration's rule.

Pollyanna much? Yeah. Quite a bit.

Posted by: johngalt at December 2, 2016 6:58 PM

November 29, 2016

The Dark Side of Populism

We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.
Justice Scalia -- not a reflexive libertarian by anyone's measure -- got it right in Texas v. Johnson. And I am sad to say that President-Elect Trump has it very, very wrong.

I said that I would support Trump where he was right and oppose him where he is wrong. And I will admit to being wildly impressed with many of his personnel selections and his general demeanor in the transition. Brother jg started the Trump Revolution category, to which I have contributed.

But, this day, this November, I start Trump Agonistes to document where he struggles with liberty versus populism.

He is on the wrong side here and Scalia is right.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:28 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I agree that flag burning should not be illegal, even though it is apparently so in both Germany and Italy.

I am also 100 percent certain that it will never become illegal. There is no appetite for such in Congress.

So, why does he say this? Bully pulpit. Change the climate of anti-Americanism in, of all places, America. That's the best mansplaining Trump apology I can offer.

Posted by: johngalt at November 29, 2016 1:02 PM
But AndyN thinks:

I think the most likely explanation is that Trump was just being a loose cannon, but I wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility that he knew Clinton co-sponsored a bill to ban flag burning and is trolling the progs.

Posted by: AndyN at November 29, 2016 8:45 PM