"During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world."-- Natan Sharansky, "The Case for Democracy"

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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.

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.


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

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.

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

October 11, 2017

jk vs. Bannon

Steve Bannon to Sean Hannity this week, discussing efforts to recruit primary challengers to incumbent Republican senators: "Nobody's safe. We're coming after all of them." If every Republican senator is going to get a primary challenger backed by Bannon, no matter what, then what's the incentive to vote Bannonís way between now and Election Day?
From Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt newsletter (now linkable!), subtitled "Trump Doesn't Need Different GOP Senators, He Needs More of Them."

Perhaps Mr. Bannon has indeed captured the TEA Party essence. But I suggest he has captured the worst parts. He will give us a Slate of Christine O'Donnell and Ken Buck candidates, who will *ahem* lose to Democrats. You can possibly elect a Roy Moore in Alabama, but his is not the ticket to a majority party.

It would be a moral victory to get rid of Susan Collins but the James Conrad PAC would not help repeal Obamacare or complete tax reform.


TEA Party v. Bannon

What does the TEA Party stand for? What does Steve Bannon stand for? There is not a single answer to either question but I submit that there is one "big idea" for each, and they go hand in glove. Hunter Lewis zeroed in on that idea in his criticism of a Weekly Standard piece on Bannon:

Mr. Caldwell gets to the essence of it when he writes: "Steve Bannon Ö has Ö the same idea that tea party activists have: a class of regulators in the government has robbed Americans of their democratic prerogatives. That class now constitutes an 'administrative state' that operates to empower itself and enrich its crony-capitalist allies."

Yep. That's why I marched on my state capitol with my "Enemy of the Statist" sign so beautifully hand-lettered by my dear blog brother.

Mr. Lewis then adds, "He also notes that Bannon thinks that "capitalism ought to rest on a Judeo-Christian foundation."

I can think of worse ideas than this. So, really, where are Bannon and the TEA Party now "debased?" Immigration? Trade? Bath water. The baby Republic is in desperate need of a washing. We'll throw out the dirty water later.

But johngalt thinks:

I respectfully suggest that when contemplating anything attributed to Steve Bannon, one should consider the imaginary universe where the protagonist is not this individual white male, so readily villifiable, rather any one of the Forgotten men or women of every race and faith who want merely to not be disadvantaged in the name of "equality" or "compassion." Or "national prosperity" as a result of erasing all distinctions between the nations of the world. Cui bono?

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2017 12:32 PM

October 10, 2017

Gipper on Trade

Republicans. Makes you want to weep with pride.

Hat-tip: Don Boudreaux

But johngalt thinks:

Yes, of course. Trade good. Protectionism bad. Are we done?

Posted by: johngalt at October 11, 2017 2:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let me apologize for my flippancy. I just don't see international trade agreements as either black and white or the most urgent issue of our day.

Posted by: johngalt at October 11, 2017 5:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Building the party on a foundation of the prosperity and liberty produced by a dedication to free trade versus, well the Don Boudreaux link phrases it less delicately than I:

Twenty-nine years later, in stark and sad contrast, today’s G.O.P. president proudly flaunts his seemingly bottomless ignorance about trade.  Truly, the contrast on this matter between the wise and knowledgeable Reagan and the knavish and stupid Trump could not be greater.

Posted by: jk at October 11, 2017 7:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I would love to see how the 1980s era Ronald Reagan would interact with today's Congress, and today's media. Somehow I don't think it would be pretty.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2017 4:43 PM

The "Forgotten Man" declares "war" on Republican Senators

When was the last time we used the "TEA Party" category? I think this fits.

Steve Bannon had a long interview with Sean Hannity last night. I missed most of it but this RCP piece excerpts a host of hard-hitting quotes from the heir to the Andrew Breitbart battlements.

Bannon said that establishment Republican senators exemplified by Tennessee's Bob Corker have committed "economic hate crimes" against working Americans.

When you want to talk about why there's no repeal and replace, why there's no tax cut, why there's no tax reform, why there's no infrastructure bill, you saw it right there. Corker, McConnell that entire clique of -- establishment globalist clique on Capitol Hill have to go. If we need any more proof about what they think, you heard it tonight. It's an absolute disgrace...

They have total contempt for the forgotten man. They have total contempt for the base.

His strategy is to take Mitch McConnell's donors away from him and to use their money against him and his cohorts. Kind of a two-for-one strategy that makes a huge amount of sense.

That's why I left the White House. Remember, I said I'm going after the Republican establishment. And we're going to go after them. We're going to go after them and challenge them.

HANNITY: Give me the states.

BANNON: There's a coalition coming together. It's going to challenge every Republican incumbent except for Ted Cruz. Whether it's Utah, Wyoming, whether it's in Oregon.

He's not mentioned by name, but that list of "every Republican incumbent except for Ted Cruz" would seem to include our friend Senator Gardner.

And what was that I said about TEA Party?

HANNITY: Does that mean the people that voted in 2010, and 2014, and 2016, now they have to wait to have a victory in 2018? That's a long time for the American people to wait.

BANNON: To take your country back it's not just going to happen in any one election.

This is something you have to grind out day in and day out for the next 5-10-15-20 years. It took us a long time to get here. There's no magic wand we can wave and drain the swamp, there's no magic wand we can wave and blow up this establishment.

I hate to tell people, you're going to have to work but the grit, determination, and courage of the American working men and women, we're going to win.

But jk thinks:

Not a fan of Mr. Bannon's. And rather surprised to find such kind words for him from my blog brother.

Yes, I'm sure Bannon would primary Sen. Gardner. And his first pick would be Tom Tancredo.

Bannon's dream is a slate of Judge Roy Moores in the US Senate. Does my brother want that? The man who gave all to keep the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Courthouse? He'll be a constant source of "Do you agree with your colleague, Senator Moore that ... " embarrassing gotchas and a halt to outreach.

Perhaps Bannon does carry the TEA Party mantle; that's how far it has been debased.

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2017 6:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I believe I reported this one straight. At least as straight as what passes for "journalism" these days. Where did you find "kind words?"

The success or failure of Mr. Bannon will be determined by a market test: Do traditional GOP big money donors want to continue supporting McConnell and his cohorts, or would they prefer a smaller government approach?

While you consider the possible debasement of the TEA Party, I'm with those who wish to do something productive about the long and deep debasement of the Republican party.

Posted by: johngalt at October 11, 2017 2:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, kind as compared to my formulation which would be "Known nut-job, dangerous theocrat, and incorrigible economic ignoramus Steve Bannon said..." So, yeah, kind.

Posted by: jk at October 11, 2017 7:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You left out doo-doo head.

Posted by: johngalt at October 11, 2017 11:07 PM
But jk thinks:

I did not want to appear unhinged. An active campaign to replace Luther Stranges with Roy Moores does not excite me. Do you really think that represents "a smaller government approach?"

I guess I'll play the goofy libertarian (stretching my roles a bit) but I see this great nation in danger of trading a left-wing authoritarianism for one on the right. President Trump is a significant step up, but the Bannon-faction is likely not.

Posted by: jk at October 12, 2017 11:01 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Roy Moore over Luther Strange is one example for a GOP primary choice. Ted Cruz over David Dewhurst, who was endorsed by Rick Perry, James Inhofe, and Michael Reagan, is another. Does my brother suggest the senate would better serve liberty had voters followed the advice of those proven, respected conservatives instead of the "theocrat"ic, economically ignorant "nut-job" Sarah Palin?

On the matter of theocracy, I see many more examples and dangers from the left than the right - environmentalism and Islamism being just two. Jesus Christ is not a prophet of absolutism, but of cautionary guidance to a man's own free will.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2017 12:20 PM

It Comes With You...

A friend of mine chortled that he was finally moving out of Boulder. I cautioned him. "Careful," sez me, "it follows you."

NoNoPleaseGodNo.png


October 9, 2017

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

Blues in the Night

Harlod Arlen & Johnny Mercer ©1941

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

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October 6, 2017

All Hail Freeman

Our current President has often been criticized, and sometimes with good reason, for his harsh comments about celebrities, professional athletes, political rivals and foreign dictators, among others. His predecessor, on the other hand, fought with nuns. Even though much of the country was exempted from the mandate, largely because many insurance plans were grandfathered under the law, Mr. Obama and his team evidently thought it was important to force the Little Sisters to bend to his will.

But Mr. Obama seems to have picked on the wrong nuns. And the nuns for their part seem to have picked the right lawyers -- Lames Freeman


QotD

Comes from a brilliant column by Matthew Continetti on the media meltdown and how Trump burns this at both ends.

What passes for news today is speculation and advocacy, wishful thinking and self-fashioning, mindless jabber and affirmations of virtue, removed from objective reality and common sense.
It's a wide-ranging column with many an excellent point.
Donald Trump changed [journalists hiding their ideology and political bias], of course. He is so unusual a figure, and his behavior so outlandish, that his rise precipitated a crisis in a profession already decimated by the collapse of print circulation and advertising dollars. The forces that brought Trump to power are alien to the experience of the men and women who populate newsrooms, his supporters unlike their colleagues, friends, and neighbors, his agenda anathema to the catechism of social liberalism, his career and business empire complex and murky and sensational.

This is a runner up for QotD, IMO:
Can't say I was shocked when Schieffer's finding [20% of journalists live in LA, DC or NYC] passed barely noticed, the consciences of the press untroubled by the fact that their experiences and backgrounds are so unlike the majority of the public whose interest they presume to uphold.
Thorough and well written, worth reading the whole thing.

But jk thinks:

Very well worth the read in full -- thanks!

I'll even add another honorable mention:

Journalists are trapped in a condition of perpetual outrage, seizing on every rumor of discontent and disagreement, reflexively denouncing Trump's every utterance and action, unable to distinguish between genuinely unusual behavior (the firing of Comey, the tenure of Anthony Scaramucci, the "fine people on both sides" quip after Charlottesville) and the elements of Trump's personality and program that voters have already, so to speak, "priced in."

Word.

Posted by: jk at October 6, 2017 6:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Truly a great piece. Brother nb beat Insty to the punch. He linked to this article late last night with the longest Instapundit except in the history of the blog.

I added a link to this a comment on Facebook yesterday as well. Somebody asked "How come this Trump opponent always ends up defending him?" I said "Here's how."

And I woke up thinking about "priced in." If you recall the 2016 General Election, the Democrats and sympathetic PACs talked about Trump's treatment of the disabled NYTimes reporter in more than half the commercials. I don't know that it was his finest hour, but I remember thinking that everybody knows this story. The 11th mention is not going to switch a vote. But they were so certain it was a dealbreaker, they couldn't stop. They did not understand "priced in" and still do not.

Posted by: jk at October 7, 2017 11:21 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And, as the article explains, that's not the only thing the "elite" "experts" in journalism don't understand.

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2017 3:52 PM

October 5, 2017

All Hail Freeman

It's been too long...

freeman171005.gif


October 3, 2017

Quote of the Day

Who would have guessed that when America cleaved, the left would get the National Football League and the right would get uncontested custody of science? -- Heather Heying
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent observation. But I'll take it further and suggest that, eventually, the same thing will happen to the left's custody of the NFL as has now happened to its one time so-called custody of science. Something I like to call "reality can't be faked for long."

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2017 3:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The linked article is short, and very important to read in full. Here.

Posted by: johngalt at October 4, 2017 2:51 PM

Trump Revolution, Indeed

"Mister Fair," they call me: Mister Fair.

After grousing about the President's participation in the NFL contretemps, I will -- again -- praise one of his stellar picks. Blessed be this great nation to have Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. Ronald Bailey at Reason describes his rational evaluation of renewables::

As more subsidized renewable power has been added to electricity markets, along with power produced by burning cheap fracked natural gas, conventional power plants have been unable to pay for themselves and are increasingly being shuttered. Good riddance to fossil-fuel and nuclear dinosaurs, right? Not so fast. Renewable power is highly variable, so back-up generation is needed to ensure that power still gets to consumers. As conventional power plants close down, there is less capacity available to cover renewable power shortfalls. This could produce power outages and price spikes.

In his letter, Perry asks FERC to "issue rules to protect the American people from the threat of energy outages that could result from the loss of traditional baseload capacity."


Grown-ups looking at the energy grid. I like it.

But johngalt thinks:

Meanwhile, California runs the other way, as fast as it can:

If California were to enact a ban on sales of new vehicles with combustion engines, it would continue the state's leadership role in the U.S. climate resistance to the Trump Administration denial of climate science.

That's the editorial slant of 'Green Car Reports' for you, who end every article with the following directive:

Green Car Reports respectfully reminds its readers that the scientific validity of climate change is not a topic for debate in our comments. We ask that any comments by climate-change denialists be flagged for moderation. Thank you in advance for helping us keep our comments on topic, civil, respectful, family-friendly, and fact-based.

Unsurprisingly, my comment of "Censoring inconvenient facts? You should be ashamed." was censored: "[CLIMATE SCIENCE DENIAL REMOVED BY SITE MODERATORS]

I was scolded that "We do not permit claims that deny climate science just as we don't allow claims that the earth is flat."

When I replied that, "I did not deny anything. I criticized you for censorship." I was advised thusly:

A brief scan of your comment history indicates numerous comments elsewhere that deny the accepted scientific consensus. That's enough to get your comment on the topic moderated on this site. We censor comments that detract from fact-based discussion.

Based on your comment history elsewhere, I would suggest you probably shouldn't be commenting on this site.

This is me, knuckles dragging, skulking away...

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2017 2:35 PM
But jk thinks:

"I was banned by Green Car Reports dot Com!" 100% cotton T's available in Forest, Hunter, and Kelly Green, in a wide variety of sizes. Get 'em while they last!

Posted by: jk at October 3, 2017 2:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'll take seven in XL - one for each day of the week. And I'll also need that bumper sticker to plaster on the back window of my plug-in hybrid electric minivan. [third comment]

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2017 3:12 PM

October 2, 2017

The Welfare State Strikes Back

Selected passages from the UK Telegraph write up of Catalonia's landslide independence vote (all emphases mine):

On a day marred by clashes between police and voters, 2.26 million people took part in the referendum, regional government spokesman Jordi Turull said. That represents a turnout of 42.3 percent of Catalonia's 5.34 million voters.

Few things are more dangerous than 2-plus million rampaging voters.

In violent scenes beamed around the world, officers in riot gear fired rubber bullets into crowds and beat would-be voters with batons as they queued at polling stations.

And some say that American police are dangerous.

Violence broke out across Catalonia as armoured police moved in to break up the vote.

Video footage showed officers from Spain's national police - 4,000 of whom had been brought in by the government to help quash the ballot - fighting with elderly voters, some of whom were left bleeding, and dragging young women away from polling stations by their hair.

Amid tense scenes, uniformed Catalan firefighters appeared to act as human shields to protect voters from advancing lines of police.

Renegade, lawless firefighters - where will it end?

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last night said: "We did what we had to do", describing the ballot as a "premeditated attack on the legality of the Spanish state faced down with serenity by the forces of order".

Making no mention of the large number of people injured in police charges outside polling stations, Mr Rajoy said: "Democracy won today because the Constitution was upheld".

Is this what a victory for democracy looks like? National police trying to disrupt the most democratic act there is - voting?

Finally, here's how the EU weighed in:

The European Commission, the EU's civil service, has repeatedly backed the Spanish government and constitutional court's stance that the vote is illegal.

Yesterday the EC told The Telegraph it had nothing to add a statement made by Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday, when he backed "the rule of law" in Spain.

King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I could not be reached for comment.

But jk thinks:

I confess to having not watched closely. Reason, fairly unsurprisingly, is with the separatists.

The minarchist in me worries that long-term separatist decentralization produces more Hobbes and less Locke. I join Brother Keith in rooting for the Kurds. And I am nominally a Brexit fan. But Catalonia, then the Basques, I am not certain
that ends well.

Posted by: jk at October 3, 2017 12:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And California. And Northern Colorado. YAAAAAAAHHH!

The point is that there is widespread pushback against overreaching national governments. When those governments refuse to negotiate with their "subjects" then free men will do what free men do.

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2017 2:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I just read the short Reason piece you linked. It is excellent, and gives a better description of what I alluded to in my last paragraph: "By contrast, devolution of power has given regions like Scotland, with strong cultural identities of their own, more ability to chart their own course. In turn, that has often lowered interest in independence movements."

But I was even more interested in Krayewski's second paragraph:

The right to self-determination is enshrined in international law and is core to democratic norms. In a democratic society, people have the power to choose their leaders, and that requires having the power to choose who you choose leaders with.

No, I'm not here to quibble about democracy vs. republic, it's the other thing. The last sentence: "...and that requires having the power to choose who you choose leaders with."

I'm not sure I've heard that before. Or thought it. Or where it comes from save the author's assertion.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he justify restrictions on immigration right there? In the pages of Reason?

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2017 3:03 PM
But jk thinks:

First, point of order: here is a perhaps even better and still short piece on separation.

Methinks you're stretching to equate drawing borders with enforcement of their crossing. But I have stretched on occasion, too.

Posted by: jk at October 4, 2017 11:41 AM

Don't click this. Comments (2)