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July 29, 2016

And, an All Hail Harsanyi

Because he captures what I thought. I did not see a lot of the DNC Convention, but I saw Sec. Clinton's speech. And, pacé Harsanyi, I was shocked how the GOP handed them optimism and patriotism on a silver platter.

The Democrats put on a pretty solid convention, with memorable moments from both big names and average citizens. There were cops, moms, soldiers, and business people praising traditional American institutions like they’re rock-ribbed Republicans. But think about this: At a convention where an old-school socialist was celebrated in nearly every speech, the hard-left ideas of the Progressive Movement were wrapped in Reaganesque rhetorical flourishes and sold as American idealism. Don’t get me wrong, these people can still fearmonger with the best of them on guns, global warming, etc. -- but Trump's austere worldview and pessimism gave Democrats ownership of ideas about exceptionalism, meritocracy, and national optimism..

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 8:08 PM | What do you think? [0 comments]

All Hail Jonah!

Barack Obama was a blank slate for most Americans, so his status as the first black nominee and president was inextricably part of his identity. Hillary Clinton is a known quantity. She's Nixon in a pantsuit. She’s been a tedious, grating, cynical, corrupt presence in our lives for nearly three decades.-- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]
And a man -- if I may continue teh blog tit-for-tat -- still very much not on the Trump Train.
2016 Posted by John Kranz at 7:47 PM | What do you think? [0 comments]

Could've had this guy.

Only losers weep at elections lost. Okay, pass me my Scarlet 'L;' Gov. Rick Perry gets it.

As my Blog Brother and Randy Barnett said: maybe the Republican Party should unite around the theory of "Republicanism."

There has been...and will continue to be...an important and legitimate role for the federal government in enforcing civil rights.

Too often, we Republicans...myself included...have emphasized our message on the Tenth Amendment but not our message on the Fourteenth...an Amendment, it bears reminding, that was one of the first great contributions of the Republican Party to American life, second only to the abolition of slavery.

For too long, we Republicans have been content to lose the black vote...because we found that we could win elections without it.

But when we gave up on trying to win the support of African-Americans, we lost our moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln...as the party of equal opportunity for all.

It is time for us to once again reclaim our heritage as the only party in our country founded on the principle of freedom for African-Americans.

One of the most important things we did in Texas while I was governor was reform our sentencing laws, so that non-violent offenders could stay out of prison.

The whole piece is joyous.

But johngalt thinks:

Not a dollar short, but certainly a day late.

Posted by: johngalt at July 29, 2016 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Indeed. Funny systen that tosses a successful Governor overboard for a single embarrassing-but-unharmful gaffe. I'm not even making fun of others, I did not take him very seriously this time around.

I am thinking that this is the foundation for an elevator speech on Republicanism. The need to balance the 10th and 14th Amendments are the heart and soul of liberty.

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2016 3:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Agreed. It is a principled defense of liberty.

And I find it comforting that its author endorsed Trump for president.

"He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them," Perry said Thursday.

"He wasn't my first choice, wasn't my second choice, but he is the people's choice," Perry added.

Posted by: johngalt at July 29, 2016 5:04 PM

July 28, 2016

Otequay of the Ayday

For Americans to think that it is progress to move from the Founders' revolutionary achievement - a nation of free citizens, endowed with natural rights, living under laws that they themselves have made, pursuing their own vision of happiness in their own way and free to develop as fully as they can whatever talent or genius lies within them - to a regime in which individuals derive such rights as they have from a government superior to them is contemptible. How is a return to subjection an advance on freedom?

Myron Magnet in 'Why are Voters So Angry?' that nb linked yesterday.

It's the Eponomy, Stupid!

I borrow the franchise from James Taranto.

I read a clever piece on the Cato blog about the futility of "common sense gun regulation."

But that doesn't mean we need new laws to limit firearm ownership. In an interview with ProPublica, Jeffrey Swanson of Duke University School of Medicine suggested that mental health professionals "can do a lot without invoking law, by talking to people about harm reduction and locking up guns." Other programs such as voluntary buybacks may reduce the number of household firearms.

But neither suicides nor gun deaths are "epidemics" in any real sense of the term. Overstating their frequency with inflated rhetoric creates an impetus for government action to do something -- even if that something is not effective at addressing the problem it's meant to solve.

Hear, hear. The author of that piece? Jonathan Blanks.

July 27, 2016

All Hail Shlaes!

If I believed in coercion, Amity Shlaes's "The Forgotten Man" [Review Corner] is one of the first books I'd force on the American electorate.

And they'd thank me, dammit! It's entertaining and interesting. But its main function is to contradict the nonsense everyone is taught in school about how FDR "fixed": the Great Depression.

Shlaes reprises the riff in the WSJ Ed Page today to make it relevant for the 2016 election.

Sumner, a classical liberal, believed that strong commerce helped the poor better than the best government benefit. "If you do anything for the Forgotten Man, you must secure him his earnings and savings, that is, you legislate for the security of capital and for its free employment," Sumner wrote.

"Jobbery," as Sumner called it, also wounded the forgotten man. In the 1870s and 1880s, the era of Tweed and Tammany, municipal and county governments joined private contractors to build public structures. Sumner skewered such projects: "They are carried out, not because they are needed in themselves, but because they will serve the turn of some private interest." He added that "the biggest job of all is a protective tariff," which generates forgotten men and forgotten costs to consumers.

Shlaes does not take sides in the election but rather suggests a point for clarification:
Here's an opening question for the first Trump-Clinton debate: "Who is the forgotten man?"

Great stuff.

But johngalt thinks:

There are elections, and then there is governing. Hillary is flirting with protectionism too. I maintain that tariffs are not in our future, no matter what. And neither is a withdrawal from the world stage, diplomatically or militarily. Merely, a reassertion that "American Lives Matter Too" and we're not sacrificing on the altruistic altar like we have for decades now, mostly since NAFTA. (Not the problem, I realize, but the turning point.)

Leviathan is the problem. Which is the better weapon to attack it - the populist with protectionist bombast (and a cadre of excellent cabinet members), or the life-long "public servant" who asks to be thrown in that thar briar patch to make "everything better and everyone equal?"

Posted by: johngalt at July 28, 2016 11:30 AM
But johngalt thinks:

To be fair I should have led with, "Amity's right. Trump is wrong." But...

Posted by: johngalt at July 28, 2016 11:33 AM
But jk thinks:

Penn Jillette had a great riff, Sec. Clinton's supporters dismiss differences by saying "oh she has to say that to get elected." Penn asks "what makes you so sure she's not lying to you?"

And yet, I am going to weasel out like her naïve sycophants.

Free trade's only home today is in the LP. I might even succumb -- it's early. But in the binary choice, I have to say that Trump campaigned on it and his followers would be devastated if he reneged. Clinton is promising hope and X chromosomes and cuter puppies -- few will keep score on trade. Both would likely fight new trade deals, but only one might re-open Nafta.

I have been particularly concerned because trade is solidly in the aegis of the executive branch. A President Trump, lacking legislative chops and allies, would need some quick wins. And he'll have a pen and phone.

Posted by: jk at July 28, 2016 2:56 PM
But dagny thinks:

Come on JK, Vote for Gary Johnson with me! I concede he is unlikely to win a single electoral college vote. But a showing in the double digits might wake a few people up! Especially since Colorado is looking very much like NOT a swing state these days.

Posted by: dagny at July 28, 2016 4:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:
But jk thinks:

@dagny, I'm considering it. To be clear, my issue is not his probability of victory. I think the existence of the LP is a bad idea and I do not wish to "feed the bears."

I want liberty lovers to push the other parties in a better direction. Perhaps that is hopeless. There is also some chatter that he might win Utah. I might move there.

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2016 10:27 AM
But jk thinks:

@jg: race to the bottom.

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2016 11:35 AM

July 26, 2016

Review Corner - City Journal

It's hard for me to judge this article (and forgive my usurpation of the TS style guide by posting an article), as it hits too close to home... and also is damn near a novella that this single-dad-with-long-commute has still failed to finish! Like so many sparkling articles in the past, Myron Magnet's offering on the growth of the administrative state (or what I've long called "the unelected government"), interestingly titled "Why are Voters so Angry?" is a tome.

He blames the birth on Wilson, the growth model on FDR, and the current expansion on the spinlessness of the USSC. It ranges articulately from Lois Lerner's transgressions (and John Koskinen's intransigence) to gritty analogies like

a new kind of government has grown up inside the old structure, like those parasites hatched in another organism that grow by eating up their host from within, until the adult creature bursts out of the host’s carcass. This transformation is not an evolution but a usurpation.

He provides no data I found that the voters' agree with his premise, and I'm too busy cheering him on to see if there are signals cited, but he has many examples

Unease over illegal immigration also has stoked today’s fear that the government no longer belongs to the people, and it’s important to understand the separate but mutually reinforcing ways that it has done so.

submitted for your persual; 4 stars.

But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2016 11:40 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I shared the linked article on a FB thread asking Mr. Trump, rhetorically, what he means by "Making America Great Again?" I replied, "this:"

To become an American in those days meant little more than learning English and subscribing to a broadly shared creed of self-reliance, self-government, self-improvement, and allegiance to a tolerant nation that most people agreed was unique in the freedom and opportunity it afforded—as well as in its readiness to confer citizenship on newcomers who almost universally desired it.

The respected friend who posited the question offered praise for the author, Myron Magnet, whom I had never heard of until our blog brother's posting:

Myron Magnet is a very thoughtful man. Americans would do well to follow him and think through the many questions he raises -- even if they don't always agree with him.

So far, from what I've read, I do agree with Magnet.

Many thanks for the recommendation, nb!

Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2016 3:03 PM

July 25, 2016

All Hail Taranto!


2016 Posted by John Kranz at 2:01 PM | What do you think? [0 comments]

Voters Who Know Better

Who'd've feared that constituency? Mary Anastasia O'Grady suggests Donald Trump.

Beating Nafta like a piñata worked in the Republican primary. But it is likely to hurt Mr. Trump and GOP candidates further down the ticket in the general election. Mexico is, after all, the U.S.’s third-largest trading partner and second-largest export market.

Mr. Trump's trade tirades undermine his credibility with voters who know better. And that's a lot of voters. Americans from every walk of life are beneficiaries of U.S. global trade.

Indiana, the home of GOP vice-presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence, exported some $4.8 billion of goods to Mexico in 2015, making it the state's second-largest export market. That included $1.5 billion in transportation equipment, $1.4 billion in machinery and $88 million in corn-fructose products. More than 120,000 Hoosier jobs depend on trade with Mexico.

I find his comments on China just as disturbing. But there is some ambiguity about China. They are lax with intellectual property and autocratic -- a reasonable person might ask if they are perhaps currency manipulators or perhaps wish to extend the DH to the National League.

I disagree but that is at least getting into the arcane. "Fair trade!' "Level playing field!' "Guys with funky hair dating really hot chicks!" they say, and who can argue? But Nafta gives up the game. Nafta has been a gift to the world and it is demagoguery to suggest otherwise.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM | What do you think? [1 comments]
But johngalt thinks:

"Voters who know better" like Ms. Clinton herself:

"She recognizes that NAFTA was not the success it was supposed to be."

So now since they both want to "sit down and try to redo NAFTA" it is no longer a differentiator. Except for the different priorities each might emphasize during those negotiations.

Posted by: johngalt at July 26, 2016 5:33 PM

July 23, 2016

Is Trump a "Right-Liberal?"

And if so, why don't jk and dagny admire him?


I'm so perplexed by my relative willingness to rally on the "Trump Train" and so many of my friends and relatives unwillingness, I went back to the Political Coordinates Test for possible clues.

I don't know where Donald Trump would fall on the Political Coordinates graph but I would expect it to be "right-liberal." Not as right, and perhaps more liberal, than the ThreeSourcers in that quadrant, but this is admittedly a guess. Interestingly, Trump is positioning as the "law and order candidate." That is a strongly communitarian sentiment, but I doubt that is what turns off jk or dagny, or cements his appeal to jg's dad. It does appeal to moi, jg, however, despite my scoring as a "liberal" and not a communitarian.

I'll not overreach here and attempt too many conclusions. I just thought this line of examination might help explain some things. But I need some help getting there.

UPDATE (jk): I thought I'd try taking the test as I understand Donald Trump's positions.(It might be expanded into some original reporting with snippets of speeches or policy positions to back it up.) But the first question made me laugh so hard, I'm not certain I can continue:


UPDATE II (Still jk): Pfffft!


But johngalt thinks:

Admittedly it's an oversimplification that "being in my quadrant" means I'll admire a candidate. And if Trump truly "has no guiding principles" as is often charged, can he even be constrained to one quadrant or another? Perhaps my premise is faulty - maybe Trump is a left right-communitarian liberal? But I don't think so.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2016 5:59 PM
But jk thinks:

I am just as surprised at our impasse. I did a quick test with "my guesses" at Trump's answers. I was fair but not diligent. It truly would be a good piece of original reporting to do it right. Anybody want to join in?

Guesses got me 22.2% Right, 44.4% Communitarian. As Right as President George HW Bush and as Communitarian as President Reagan.

It's a superb argument. I don't find his positions inviolate, but you are correct to point out that he is fundamentally not too different and waaaaay closer than Sec. Clinton.

The convention speech was a gargantuan turn-off for me. The areas where we do agree I felt lacked depth and detail while the areas where we do not were both more forceful and more likely to have specific actions. "Build a wall," and "Renegotiate NAFTA" are clear. Reform regulation, cur taxes (without any spending cuts) were amorphous catch-phrases.

You have defended his trade and immigration restrictions as seeking both fair and legal. He highlighted Nafta and China's entrance to the WTO in his speech, to pin them on (President William Jefferson) Clinton.

WOW! This kicked off an impressive economic boom and lifted millions of Mexicans and billions of Chinese out of poverty. My gripe with (Sec. Hillary Rodham) Clinton is that she casually discards these amazing successes of her husband because they no longer have currency in the Party of Sens. Sanders and Warren.

But, if those don't make the grade on Trump's list, I daresay no trade will.

Posted by: jk at July 23, 2016 7:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:


I tried to guess Trump's answers too. I wanted to compare my version of Trump to yours. I tried to be fair too, and left some answers neutral if I didn't have a sense of what Trump would pick. If I had an inkling but wasn't certain, I gave it the mid-way response.

Where you scored Trump 22.2% Right, 44.4% Communitarian, I have him 44.4% Right, 30.6% Communitarian.

The same neighborhood, with differences only in degree. Not a Right-Liberal, as many putative conservatives have charged, but one suspects that anyone not as far right as they are would earn the label "liberal" even if he is still right of center.

I humbly request that you add these dots to your chart. I think they are informative, especially if you include the dots for Presidents Bush, Reagan, Obama and Clinton. (Noteworthy: Obama scored 67% left but only 33% liberal. A reminder that "liberal" isn't the threat conservatives should fear, leftism is.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2016 1:11 PM

"Strongman" or LEO-in-Chief?

Democrat pollster Doug Schoen on Trump's nomination speech:

I don't believe that the pundits necessarily will give this speech high marks and in my own terms, Trump did not do anything that he has not done before on the campaign trail. But what he did do is present a vision of America, a path forward, and a vision of leadership that is very, very different than what the country has had for the last eight years.

No, not a dark and authoritarian direction. A safe and secure and prosperous one. A different course than the one Hillary and her former boss have steered for nigh on eight years.

But she’s got another challenge, and one that is perhaps larger than what she expected. She needs to address the issues of law and order, safety, and security, as well as terrorism, in the way that Trump presented them given the challenges that we are all facing as Americans.

The other challenge Secretary Clinton will have is to make the case for globalism and for our role in the world.

Trump explicitly and clearly ruled it out.

He said that we need to put America first and put America before our role in the world. This goes against the credo and the values of American culture and foreign policy. But at a time when wages are stagnated, jobs are disappearing, and people are increasingly at risk and facing threats both at home and abroad, it may well be enough to turn an election that was beginning to appear issueless into the most profound, prominent, and I dare say, nation determinative contest in recent memory.

And what is really wrong with putting America's oxygen mask on first, before setting out to rescue the world from its problems?


And then there's the CNN polling on the speech.

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