URLs du Jour

2019-09-12

[Amazon Link]

  • Veronique de Rugy returns to an evergreen theme: Trump's Tariff and Trade Aches and Pains.

    On the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump said that, if elected, "We're going to win so much. You're going to get tired of winning. You're going to say, 'Please Mr. President, I have a headache. Please, don't win so much.'" Unfortunately, Trump's definition of winning seems to mean flexing his presidential muscles, beating his chest and changing his mind without hesitation — all with an utter disregard for the actual impact of his policies on the economy and American workers.

    The president's profound misunderstanding of what victory looks like is particularly visible in his multifront attack on trade and globalization. All in the name of putting America first, he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, treated our trade partners like enemies, forced a renegotiation of NAFTA with no clear idea of whether the new deal (the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) could ever be ratified, implemented tariffs to fight imaginary national security menaces and started a trade war with China without any clearer strategy than his willingness to jack up tariffs at all costs.

    Yes, our Amazon Product du Jour is a rerun. But it's a good rerun. From the product description:

    Get this before the tariffs hit the shirt companies, because prices rise and you'll end up paying more for this exact shirt. If you don't think Donald Trump would do such a move, think again! This is the classiest tariff shirt around, believe me.

    If you believe in supporting vendors who market their wares with a sense of humor, go for it.


  • As Philip K. Dick taught us, androids dream of electric sheep. And as Kevin D. Williamson teaches us: Democrats Dream Of Nation Without Republicans.

    Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times has a dream, a dream in which about half of the American people are deprived of an effective means of political representation, a dream of one-party government in which the Democrats are the only game in town — “Dare We Dream of the End of the GOP?” her column is headlined — which also is a dream of visiting vengeance upon those who dared to vote for their own interests as they understood them and thereby schemed “to stop the New America from governing.”

    That quotation is from a new book by Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg bearing the title R.I.P. G.O.P. Greenberg himself has a new column in the Times on the same theme. “The 2020 election will be transformative like few in our history,” he writes. “It will end with the death of the Republican Party as we know it . . . [and] liberate the Democratic Party from the country’s suffocating polarization and allow it to use government to address the vast array of problems facing the nation.”

    Well, that's a darn shame. Too bad the GOP hasn't done much since 2016 to deserve our support or trust.


  • Up in the Great White North, Maclean's looks at funny old America's politics, specifically: Don’t count out Andrew Yang, the populist technocrat who wants to be president. And looks at his visit to New Hampshire, specifically Laconia and Belknap County:

    [Belknap County is] also fertile ground for Yang’s radical proposals. When he first rolled into New Hampshire in January, he preached the Freedom Dividend as a panacea. But [chair of the Laconia Democrats Carlos] Cardona convinced him to ease up on that, to pivot instead to local issues of addiction and unemployment. Belknap County suffers the second-highest rate of overdose deaths in New Hampshire, which itself is the fourth most lethal state for opioid deaths. Yang took his advice, and Cardona has watched the candidate’s crowd sizes grow with every subsequent visit. He now draws a through line from financial insecurity to anxiety, depression and addiction. Audience members nod along. They get it. Fifty of them signed up to receive Yang Gang emails after he left the stage. “Live Free or Die,” their state motto goes. To win the nomination, Yang needs voters to agree this is not rhetorical: freedom means a monthly dividend. The alternative, quite literally, is death.

    Or the "Freedom Dividend" could be used to buy more heroin. That's the way I'd bet.


  • Andrew Yang's campaign motto is "MATH". Which, allegedly, stands for "Make America Think Harder."

    I suppose that's better than "PB4WEGO".

    Elizabeth Warren. on the other hand, might go with: "But America Doesn't Merit A Trustworthy Head" → BADMATH.

    Because, as Peter Suderman points out at Reason: Elizabeth Warren’s Plans Don’t Add Up. (Also in the October print issue.)

    The Warren worldview is thus both bloodless and moralizing. It is also dangerous, combining self-righteous certainty about the perils of the economy with dubious data and an instinct for bureaucratic paternalism. Warren wants the federal government to be the American economy's hall monitor, telling individuals and companies what they can and can't sell or buy and making some of the nation's most successful businesses answer to her demands.

    It seems to be working. During the first six months of 2019, this strategy vaulted Warren into the top tier of Democratic primary contenders, helping her raise more than $19 million during the year's second quarter and placing her among the top three or four candidates in the party's crowded field. Focus groups and political reporting have consistently found that Democratic voters are warming not only to the substance of Warren's ideas but to the very fact that she has them.

    Yet Warren's wonkery and her populist fury are both based on myths and misdirection, often perpetuated by Warren herself. Although she styles herself as a data-driven champion of the little guy, she has run a campaign based on a dismal representation of the U.S. economy that fails to account for factors that complicate her story. And although she has received kudos for the volume and specificity of her plans, Warren has a history of pushing misleading research and cherry-picked data designed to support politicized conclusions.

    Peter's article is a long, interesting, scary picture of Liz's rise to political power, supported by shoddy scholarship along the way.

  • Jeff Jacoby bids an unfond farewell to a recently departed leader: To Hell with Robert Mugabe. And reveals a certain willful blindness of American higher ed:

    Determined to suppress all political opposition, Mugabe ordered the fearsome Fifth Brigade — a North Korea-trained military unit — to move against the Ndebele minority in the country's southern province of Matabeleland. The Ndebele, who constituted about one-fourth of Zimbabwe's population, were supporters of Joshua Nkomo, a national hero and the leader of a key opposition party. Mugabe, a member of the country's Shona majority, unleashed what he called a gukurahundi — a "wiping away" — against the Ndebele in Matabeleland. Beginning in February 1983, thousands of victims were being massacred. Many were shot dead in public executions after being forced to dig their own graves. The atrocities committed by Mugabe's forces were reported on at the time by human rights organizations and international media. By 1987, the death toll carried out in Matabeleland had reached 25,000.

    That didn't keep the University of Massachusetts from awarding Mugabe an honorary degree. In October 1986, Zimbabwe's increasingly ruthless ruler was extolled in a special convocation on the Amherst campus as a champion of human rights. The UMass chancellor, Joseph Duffy, hosted Mugabe at a dinner in his home, where he praised his leadership and economic reforms and expressed the hope that Mugabe's record in Zimbabwe was a preview of what a post-apartheid South Africa would look like.

    According to Jeff, the slow-motion UMass revoked Mugabe's degree 22 years later, in 2008.