Trump is Crony-in-Chief

Rather consistently through the past campaign season, many conservative/libertarian commentators noted that Trump had no deep-rooted allegiance to free markets or limited government. Example, from Jonah Goldberg:

I think he’s a vain ignoramus and bully who mocks the disabled with a long history of exploiting and abusing the little guy. His instincts are nationalistic and authoritarian, not patriotic and liberty-loving.

Or Keith Hennesey:

His ignorance of economic and national security issues is breathtaking. He makes up most of his policy views on the fly in interviews. He knows far less about policy than does a regular Wall Street Journal reader, and he cannot hold a coherent in-depth conversation about the economy or America’s role in the world. […] He is faking it on policy, and not that well.

Here's what I have to say three weeks into the Trump Administration: those guys were totally correct.

A relatively new data point: Trump is apparently pulling a switcheroo on the Export-Import Bank, that semi-endangered outpost of corrupt cronyism. In case you need reminding, here's Veronique de Rugy (writing in those heady days of 2015 when Ex-Im seemed doomed):

Contrary to lobbyist talking points, the Ex-Im Bank is firmly in the “big business” business. On the domestic side, 40 percent of its activities benefit one giant company: Boeing. Over 60 percent of the bank’s financing aids 10 giant beneficiaries, like Caterpillar, Bechtel, and General Electric. On the foreign side, the cheap loans go to state-owned companies like Pemex, the Mexican government’s oil and gas giant, or Air Emirates, the airline of the wealthy United Arab Emirates.

Oh, sure. Trump made occasional free-market noises during the campaign:

TRUMP: I don’t like [the Export-Import Bank] because I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s a one-way street also. It’s sort of a feather bedding for politicians and others, and a few companies. And these are companies that can do very well without it. So I don’t like it. I think it’s a lot of excess baggage. I think it’s unnecessary.

But that was then, this is now:

A Senate Democrat said Thursday that President Trump has agreed to restore full lending powers to the Export-Import Bank, an about-face from his campaign rhetoric.

Almost certainly there will now be enough support from "moderate" Democrats and Republicans in Congress to fully resuscitate Ex-Im.

My regrets to the conservative/libertarian Trump supporters. Those bloodstains from where you were stabbed in the back are gonna be tough to wash out.

URLs du Jour

2017-02-11

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Proverbs 29:9:

If a wise person goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.

The Proverbian speaketh once again to current events.

  • At Reason, Brendan O'Neill notes recent best-sellerdom of a classic anti-authoritarian novel in response to (Aiee!) President Trump, and hopes new readers will notice that "Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four Describes the Authoritarian Left Better Than It Does Trump"

    Trump will be authoritarian, that's for sure. But his is likely to be a clumsy authoritarianism, oafish rather than Orwellian. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, leftists and millennials won't find a dystopian, fictionalized version of Trumpism—they'll find themselves. In the Party, in the treatment of ideas as disorders, in the Two Minutes Hate against those who are offensive or different, in the hounding of unpopular opinions, in the memory-holing of difficult things, they will see their own tragic creed reflected back to them. They will find a stinging rebuke from history of their own embrace of the sexless, joyless, ban-happy urge to control almost every area of individual thought and life. I hope they heed to this rebuke, and change.

    If you don't want to trudge through 1984, Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" is a quicker read.

    Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

    We live in very windy times.

  • Hey, have you been wondering if that meme about female computing pioneers is correct? Let PJ Media columnist Charlie Martin answer: "No, That Meme About Female Computing Pioneers Is Not Correct".

    For example, was Ada Lovelace the "inventor of the computer", as claimed? Uh…

    She didn't. Babbage did. She was either the first programmer or the first tech writer, and she absolutely was the first person to speculate on the possibility of using the Analytical Engine to do other things besides arithmetic. She was a brilliant woman and deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments.

    Hers.

    The meme-writers ("Women Rock Science") are falsifying history in a "good cause". What could go wrong there?

    Since I'm in the habit of belaboring the obvious, I'll point out the connection with the previous item: Winston's job in 1984: rewriting history to fit the current Party line.

  • <voice imitation="professor_farnsworth">Good news, everyone</voice>. And, also, bad news, from The Daily Chronic:

    New Hampshire won’t be joining neighboring states of Maine and Massachusetts in legalizing marijuana, but the Granite State could soon follow the rest of their New England neighbors in treating marijuana possession as a violation, rather than a crime that carries a penalty including the possibility of jail time.

    I have no patience with haggling over whether marijuana possession should be a "violation" or a "crime". Especially in the "Live Free or Die" state, it should be neither. But, OK, downgrading it to a violation is improvement.

    [In case you're tempted to think I am a regular reader of The Daily Chronic: I have a Google News Alert set for "Live Free or Die", which appears in the linked article's subtitle: "Could 2017 be the year the "Live Free or Die" state of New Hampshire stops treating simple marijuana possession as a crime?"]

  • Oh, yes. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos went to visit a DC government school yesterday, and:

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was greeted with protesters when she tried to enter a Washington middle school on Friday morning.

    A video from the scene shows DeVos walking away from one entrance of Jefferson Middle School after being physically blocked from the entrance. One protester stood in front of the stairway entrance in the school, and DeVos walked back to her vehicle.

    So this shot was easy, but on target.