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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cruising the Web

The man who is going to bring his supposed skills to the presidency can't manage either to organize state-level delegate efforts or to get a coherent explanation for its failures. The WSJ reports,
After being shut out of important Republican National Convention committee slots in Louisiana, Donald Trump’s campaign argued on Monday that the posts were chosen at a “secret meeting” to which Trump delegates weren’t invited.
And now, of course the Trump campaign is threatening a lawsuit. The only problem is that the Trump people actually attended that top-secret meeting.
One big wrinkle: Mr. Trump’s two Louisiana state co-chairmen both attended the “secret meeting” – which was in fact a gathering at the Louisiana state GOP convention March 12, according to Jason DorĂ©, the state party’s executive director.
The guy who brags about how he's going to hire the best people to run every aspect of government can't seem to hire the best people for his own campaign. Sad.

Jim Geraghty looks into the background of Paul Manafort, the guy that Donald Trump just hired to manage his convention efforts. He went from being an aide to Bob Dole to being an aide to the Ukrainian prime minister Yanukovich, the Russian-sponsored guy who admitted responsibility for violence against protesters against Russia. Geraghty writes,
So the guy who’s been advising Vladimir Putin’s man in Ukraine is now running Trump’s delegate-securing operation? Will polonium be involved?

Part of the fight in some of these states will be over the allocation of Rubio's delegates from the states where he won actual delegates. But the Rubio campaign is saying that they want to keep their delegates so that he can play a bigger role at the convention. Hmmmm.

Now that Scott Walker has endorsed Ted Cruz, Donald Trump has found a way to attack Walker. Apparently, Trump thinks that Walker should have raised taxes more. And why not recycle Democratic talking points, despite their being incorrect, in order to attack Walker?
First, he regurgitated the debunked Democratic attack that Walker racked up a multibillion-dollar deficit, a blatant falsehood that Trump blamed on Time magazine during yesterday's Sykes interview. Using inaccurate left-wing talking points to slam Walker wasn't his fault, the candidate told the host's large statewide audience, because all he did was was repeat what Time had written back then....
Ironically, the only time used the figure that Trump was citing was when they cited...Donald Trump. That's one way to get supposed documentary evidence for his false claims. And, rather than having a multibillion-dollar deficit, Walker has signed a two-year balanced budget in Wisconsin. Guy Benson writes,
Let's be crystal clear: Donald Trump is not a conservative. He would not govern as a conservative. He distorts (wildly successful!) adherence to bedrock conservative principles as a means to launch self-serving broadsides against actual conservatives. Let's pretend for a moment that the $2.2 billion number wasn't total garbage. Trump's policy critique would be that Scott Walker did not seize upon that 'opportunity' to justify tax hikes on Wisconsin's workers. This coming from a man who routinely -- and rightly -- bemoans the looming national debt crisis, while rejecting responsible and necessary conservative reforms to the largest drivers of that crisis and vowing not to raise taxes. It's incoherent. It's untenable. It's unserious. It's Trump.
Even some of Trump's strong supporters are having trouble defending his brand of crazy. Ann Coulter, one of the most incoherent, attention-grabbing people out there, has been fervently defending Trump all over the place. Yet even she is having trouble sometimes defending him.
Defending billionaire businessman Donald Trump is like constantly having to bail a teenage son from prison, author and political commentator Ann Coulter groused in a recent radio interview.

"I'm a little testy with our man right now. Our candidate is mental! Do you realize our candidate is mental?" Coulter said jokingly during a taping of an episode of the "Milo Yiannopoulos Show," which is scheduled to air in full this weekend. "It's like constantly having to bail out your 16-year-old son from prison."
Just now she's noticing how incoherent Trump is? She's only now finding his behavior objectionable when he retweets an ugly picture of Heidi Cruz? She's a joke and so is her candidate.

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This just demonstrates how ridiculous the United Nations is.
According to the United Nations, the most evil country in the world today is Israel.
On March 24, 2016, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) wrapped up its annual meeting in New York by condemning only one country for violating women’s rights anywhere on the planet – Israel, for violating the rights of Palestinian women.

On the same day, the U.N. Human Rights Council concluded its month-long session in Geneva by condemning Israel five times more than any other of the 192 UN member states.

There were five Council resolutions on Israel. One each on the likes of hellish countries like Syria, North Korea and Iran. Libya got an offer of “technical assistance.” And countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and China were among the 95 percent of states that were never mentioned.
Think of that. According to the UN, Israel is the worst place on earth for the rights of women. Not all the countries like Saudi Arabia which deny women the most basic civil liberties. And this is what goes on every year at the UN.

Ace points to this story in Le Figaro about the fighting in Yemen and how six children on the average are killed or wounded every day in that war. Ace asks,
I have asked, very rhetorically: Why does the world only seem to care about casualties that occur when Israel takes defensive action against Palestine?

Why does no one ever talk about the human toll in other conflicts?

To re-phrase Shakespeare -- "If someone is pricked by a non-Jew, does he not also bleed?

.... because there is a Palestine Caucus the world media obeys and dutifully re-transmits their propaganda -- but otherwise, people don't seem to report on the fact that war, generally, has a lot of casualties. Which makes Israel-Palestine conflicts seem worse, because you never hear about this in any other sort of conflict.

Well, that's not totally true -- you're sure to hear all about casualties caused by American troops, too.

But everyone else can butcher to their heart's content and know the world (and American) press will give them free reign to do so.

Guy Benson does a deep dive into the Washington Post story on Hillary Clinton's BlackBerry use to find the most "devastating nine key quotes." There some quite devastating elements to this story. And this was a story that was framed almost to defend her behavior.

Oh, in case you missed it, there is some more bad news for Hillary.
Citing indications of wrongdoing and bad faith, a federal judge has overruled government objections by declaring that a conservative group is entitled to more details about how Hillary Clinton's private email account was integrated into the State Department recordkeeping system and why it was not searched in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth entered an order Tuesday agreeing that Judicial Watch can pursue legal discovery — which often includes depositions of relevant individuals — as the group pursues legal claims that State did not respond completely to a FOIA request filed in May 2014 seeking records about talking points then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice used for TV appearances discussing the deadly attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi in September 2012.
Her husband's presidency set the precedent that a sitting president can be sued while in office. If she is elected, she'll have yet another reason to resent her husband's sexual harassment scandal as she will face all sorts of legal challenges.

It is not a sign of strength when Hillary says she won't debate Bernie Sanders because his tone is just not nice enough for her. And she is preparing to run against Donald Trump. Of course, he doesn't like to debate either. They could both refuse to debate in a general election. Even liberals are laughing at her.

Ah, the irony is sweet. Progressives might not enjoy their own policies when directed against them. The WSJ writes of a plan by Connecticut to tax Yale's endowment.
Our guess is that most Yale University professors are proud to be progressives. Well, they are now getting the chance to live their convictions as Connecticut Democrats attempt to soak Yale’s rich endowment.

Facing a $220 million budget shortfall, Democrats in Hartford have proposed taxing the unspent earnings of university endowments with more than $10 billion in assets. Only Yale’s $25.6 billion endowment—the country’s second largest after Harvard—fits the tax bill. Yale’s tax-exempt investments earned $2.6 billion last year, eight times more than the University of Connecticut’s $384 million endowment. Oh, the inequality!

“It is our hope that these rich schools can use their wealth to create job opportunities, rather than simply to get richer,” says Yale tax proponent Martin Looney, or else “share a small percentage of their retained earnings with the state’s taxpayers, so that we could accomplish these same goals.” Translation: We’re going to take Yale’s money and redistribute it. State spending is projected to rise $1.2 billion over the next two years, and government-worker pensions that are less than 50% funded need a cash infusion.
It may well be that such action are unconstitutional, but that is only if the Supreme Court pays attention to precedent and history rather than an argument made by Hartford about how they need to take money from the rich to help the poor.
The bill sets a terrible precedent for contract rights since Yale’s charter dating to 1818 shields the university from taxation. In Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a university charter is protected from impairment. No one is safe when progressives run out of other people’s money.

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David French argues
that Trump would not be better than Hillary Clinton.
There’s no real difference in character between the two. They lie as easily as they breathe: habitually, transparently, shamelessly. Hillary lies like a lawyer, always parsing her words to provide a legal escape route. Trump lies like a thug, contradicting himself with each successive breath and daring anyone to call him on it. They both seek to destroy their political opponents, and they’d probably both wield the levers of power to do so and to reward their friends. In other words, they’re both fundamentally corrupt.

We know what we’ll get from Clinton when it comes to foreign policy. She’s an internationalist interventionist with more muscular instincts than Barack Obama and less resolve than George W. Bush. She voted for the Iraq invasion but then went wobbly as the war dragged on. She backed the surge in Afghanistan, advocated intervention in Libya, and was famously more skeptical of the Arab Spring than Obama. Her “reset” with Russia was a disaster, but she’ll broadly back American allies, maintain our stewardship of NATO, and keep our other international commitments.

Trump’s foreign policy, insofar as he has a coherent foreign policy, is by contrast an entire casserole of crazy. At various points in the campaign, he’s promised that he’d order the military to commit war crimes by torturing terrorists and killing their families; he’s called our core alliances in question; he’s pledged to remain neutral in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; and he’s switched anti-ISIS strategies so many times that no one has the slightest clue what he’d do. This is a man who has on multiple occasions endorsed a “bomb them all and take their oil” strategy for fixing the war-torn Middle East. He’d alienate every Muslim ally America has, including the Kurds, and he’s still completely mystified by the most basic defense concepts. The entire world would be less secure with his finger on the button.
"Casserole of crazy" - that's a good description. Gosh, I so hope that these are not the two choices that we'll be facing in November. I don't know what I'd do. Are we supposed to believe what he says now or what he said at other times? Wouldn't those earlier statements more likely be representative of this true beliefs than what he says now as he tries to appeal to voters in GOP primaries?

Given how much Trump lies, the question remains why his followers would believe anything he says since he's so clearly a liar. Jesse Singal writes in New York Magazine to explain why his followers actually like him better because he is a liar. They just like his message to voters that he'll help them against the forces that have been hurting them and they don't care about details. They find his overconfidence as a sign of strength.

Of course, this supposedly strong man is now expressing worry over a slight, female reporter putting her hand on his arm.

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This is how Donald Trump treated the little people when they stood in his way of making an extra buck.
There's an episode in Donald Trump's past that shows just how far this billionaire businessman will go to get his way.

It began in 1981. Trump bought a 14-story building on prime real estate facing New York City's Central Park.

His plan was to tear down the building and replace it with luxury condos. But first he needed a small band of rent-stabilized tenants out of there
To succeed, Trump played rough, according to lawsuits filed by the tenants. Renters said he cut heat and hot water, and he imposed tough building rules. Trump even proposed sheltering homeless people in the building.

It went on for five years as Trump fought tenants, real estate lawyers, New York state regulators and city officials.

Bret Stephens argues
that Trump is basically "Obama squared."
The president and The Donald are two epic narcissists who see themselves as singularly suited to redeem an America that is not only imperfect but fundamentally broken. Both men revel in their disdain for the political system and the rules governing it. Both men see themselves not as politicians but as movement leaders. Both are prone to telling fairy tales about their lives and careers.

And both believe they are better than everyone else.

“I think I’m a better speech writer than my speech writers,” Mr. Obama told an aide in 2008. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m . . . a better political director than my director.” Compare that to Mr. Trump earlier this month, when asked on MSNBC who he turns to for foreign policy advice. “My primary consultant is myself.”

Historians may mark the early 21st century as the moment when Americans stopped seeking probity or at least predictability in their leaders and started shopping for ecstasy and transformation; a politics beyond words. Republicans mocked the grandiosity of Mr. Obama’s first run for the presidency—the Doric columns; the pledge to make the seas recede—but is that so different from the pompous iconography of the Trump jet or his manifestly absurd promises to get foreign countries to pay for his political boondoggles?

More to the point, Mr. Obama was a cult-of-personality candidate. His admirers projected on him whatever they wanted to see: passionate liberal; post-ideological pragmatist; philosopher king; cool cat. Politically, he was the equivalent of a non-falsifiable hypothesis. No evidence could disprove his rightness.

Mr. Trump inspires similar fancies among his supporters. Either he’s the Great Negotiator who will know how to bargain with Congress and cut better trade and security deals with the Saudis, Chinese, Europeans and so on. Or he’s the immovable man of principle who will remain unbowed when, for instance, troubles mount with his mass deportation of los ilegales.

Both interpretations can’t be true. But it’s in the nature of cult personalities that followers rarely ask hard questions because they are seeking leaders who square circles.
Stephens goes on to outline their similarities on foreign policy.

The argument by some conservatives that they don't mind this aspect of Trump's character because it's about time Republicans had their own authoritarian narcissist just like Obama boggles my mind. But I see that argument over and over again. For them, two wrongs somehow make America great. It's quite scary.
Which brings us to the most important way in which Mr. Trump is another version of the president: They both bend reality to suit their conveniences, and their conceits.

In Mr. Obama’s universe, terrorism is a nuisance, climate change is an apocalypse, and economic growth is an inequality problem. In Mr. Trump’s, immigrants are invaders, trade is theft and allies are millstones. For each species of rubbish there’s a sizable political constituency. Maybe it will be large enough to launch Mr. Trump to the White House.

There’s a tendency among pundits to offer high-toned explanations for why Mr. Trump has risen this far, despite political expectations and ordinary good sense. Many of those pundits performed similarly opportunistic services when Mr. Obama’s star was rising. We repeat our mistakes when we think we’re doing the opposite.

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Suvy Boyina said...

Trump's foreign policy isn't crazy at all, especially when you look at the history. It's clear, concise, and simple. Our entire global security apparatus that's in place now really created in Bretton Woods. It was designed to defeat the USSR and it worked fantastically. Of course, the USSR is dead and we now have the world's largest military, economic, and financial power being the world's largest net debtor (I'm not talking about the government, but the entire financial system that includes the government deficit and this number is measured by the capital account surplus, or equivalently the current account (trade) deficit).

So we need a foreign policy that keeps us engaged internationally, but at an arm's length. We need to use financial pressure to coerce countries into submission like China. There's so many countries using the financial system to actively undermine our interests and screw our economic system in the name of "free trade" because actual free trade is positive sum, but the neo-mercantilism in Asia makes the "free trade" zero-sum. If you're the loser in a zero-sum game, it means you're losing on the net--by definition. If we have countries genuinely interested in development that're using the free trade system as a way to attract foreign capital for genuine goals of economic development, that's great.

Yea yea, I know all about the theory of comparative advantage and all of the "efficiency", but all of that assumes away several factors (Alexander Hamilton, ironically enough, had the best critique on "free trade" the world has ever seen). Free trade and comparative advantage assumes countries will specialize in what's efficient for them to produce, which pushes developing countries into commodity production because they lack capital inputs. Of course, the development of capital is a dynamic process that occurs slowly over time. In other words, no one gets wealthy and developed overnight. You can strike oil and get rich, but once there's no one left to buy the oil, you're completely screwed. Actually, history repeatedly shows the dangers of relying on commodity exports to support your economy. It's the same issue with Russia right now.

Suvy Boyina said...

So basically, Trump's foreign policy would be the same as mine: be as aggressively unilateralist in pushing for American interests. I wouldn't be running a $350 billion trade deficit against China and allowing it. I'd label China as a currency manipulator. I'd do the same thing with Japan, where it's blatantly obvious.

What few realize is that a flow of goods in one direction must necessarily be off-balanced by the flow of capital in the opposite. So when you're running large trade deficits, you're gonna have massive net capital inflows into your banking system. You can offset those shifts by either contracting liquidity and sending the economy into recession or take those capital inflows, flush them into your banking system, and recycle those to finance purchases of consumption--like buying houses en masse and borrowing money to finance the consumption of random things for your house. Hmmmmm.... I wonder when this happened. Oh that's right, it happened with trade deficits of ~7% of GDP that was when the housing bubble peaked. That's not a coincidence. On the contrary, it's just a symptom of the way Alan Greenspan chose to resolve the underlying imbalance: by liquidity/monetary expansion and allowing for a consumption boom instead of a liquidity/monetary contraction that would've brought a recession.

If we wanna stop these asset bubbles and reduce the burgeoning inequality that's really distorting everything, these are the basic first steps we need to take. On foreign policy, especially in regards to the global security apparatus and its ties with the international financial system, Trump is the only one who knows what's going on. The reason his foreign policy seems so "incoherent" to all of these pundits is because these pundits don't look at balance sheets or understand financial system.

BTW, all of this is shown very well in financial history repeatedly. The financial history books tell me that Trump is correct in the issues that many on the right accuse him of being incoherent, where he's actually been nothing but consistent.

Suvy Boyina said...

Also, I'm confident climate change is the single biggest global security threat we face. Obama isn't the only person to say this. Our military high command feel the same way. When you start looking at the global climate shifts and the way it's affecting geopolitical factors, it's clear about what it's impacts are. Obama made a very poor decision at the beginning of his term. Rather than go all-out to get the ACA. He should've went all-out to try to get his cap-and-trade bill through by using as much Wall Street money as necessary to bribe politicians into getting that thing through. Is it a tax? Obviously. Would it be the best thing to happen to the economic and financial system by aligning incentives towards what's clearly the biggest threat we face? It absolutely would.

It's like Hamilton said so many times, "but it's the corruption that makes it work". I actually like that Obama rules kinda like an emperor. I would too to be honest. I like guys that rule like him. I only wish that he had better advisers around him.

tfhr said...

"I'm confident climate change is the single biggest global security threat we face." ~ Suvy Boyina

Travel to Brussels or Paris lately? You'll drown in blood there before the ocean's rise finally sends you to the polar bears.

Your assessment of what the military "high command feel[s]" might be a bit off the mark too. Unless of course you think they are in the habit of contradicting their Commander-in-Chief in public. Let me know on that one.

I hope your crush on Hamilton is meant as sarcasm, especially when you gushed, "It's like Hamilton said so many times, "but it's the corruption that makes it work". I actually like that Obama rules kinda like an emperor." I agree he's corrupt - maybe not like Hillary - but certainly dishonest. Does dishonesty appeal to you?

You seem to have a genuine interest in history so I wonder how you've arrived at some of these opinions when we can clearly see the benefits of capitalism and the free market in American history. The fact there is nothing else like it in a world with so many other "systems" so tightly controlled by their governments, emperors, etc., should make you reevaluate, don't you think?