What’s going on?

by on January 17, 2016 at 12:41 am in Current Affairs, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

The vigorousness of the Taiwanese election cycle puts to rest the myth that somehow the Chinese do not have the cultural capital for democracy.

DanC wrote to me:

Could the desire of the Saudis to have an IPO for Aramco be a way to hedge the risk of a revolt?  Future revenues only have value to the royal family if they remain in charge.  The greater the threat of ISIS, or some other group, causing a change in government, the greater the desire to sell some of their land locked assets today.

Me from September:

I say watch for who is exposed to the sudden weekend ten to fifteen percent devaluation.  Lots of other EM currencies have gone down by about that amount, why should China be so different or immune?  The Chinese government isn’t going to spend trillions of dollars on fighting a losing battle in the currency wars, they are simply waiting for the right time for this to happen.  Don’t be caught off-guard.

I still think Ted Cruz will be the Republican nominee, as for some while he has been focused on becoming President and he has the requisite level of talent.  Many Democrats are underestimating how rapidly he will be able to shift to the center.  Hillary calling him a flip-flopper will set peoples’ minds at ease, not turn them against Cruz.

I’m glad we played it cool with Iran this time around but let’s be clear — it’s them playing us, not vice versa.

India just celebrated five years without polio.

1 Mark Thorson January 17, 2016 at 12:46 am

Pro-independence DPP sweeps Taiwan presidency and legislative elections! It’s war!

2 Dzhaughn January 17, 2016 at 12:50 am

Unfortunately, the laws of probability have been undermined by the Packers-Cardinals game. Even the bits about flipping coins. Oh well, time for a new profession.

We have to re-evaluate whether professional wrestling was really fake. And whether Alan Rickman’s death should be considered irreversible.

3 chuck martel January 17, 2016 at 12:53 am

“The vigorousness of the Taiwanese election cycle puts to rest the myth that somehow the Chinese do not have the cultural capital for democracy.”

Yes, the residents of Taiwan voted to keep the mainland at arm’s length. Whether they are successful in that is another matter. Haven’t heard much about a myth that residents of Taiwan don’t have the cultural capital for democracy. We’ll see how it works out for them. Hopefully the new boss lady won’t be an Asiatic version of Jennifer Grandholm.

4 Horhe January 17, 2016 at 8:24 am

Wouldn’t a good explanation be the fact that, unlike the Han dominated mainland society, the Taiwanese society (while still Chinese) has an in-built duality, because of the Native Taiwanese and the Chinese who came in the Nationalist evacuation? This being conducive to a two party democracy over time, where there is enough base cultural capital to avoid the fracturing of society and outright war between the two groups.Also, there could be an amount of pre-selection based on the people most likely to evacuate the mainland with the KMT?

5 Brickbats and Adiabats January 17, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Said myth of Chinese people not having cultural capital for democracy is mainly believed by mainland Chinese and not by anyone else. If the CCP force-feeds 1.5 billion people this view repeatedly during their primary and secondary education as a self-serving justification for having no formal accountability to their population, enough of them will be lazy and/or credulous enough to never question said belief. The number of PRC nationalists that turn out every 4 years to call Taiwan elections a “joke” is staggering.

6 Bob January 17, 2016 at 1:21 am

Cruz can’t be president. He’s not a natural born citizen.

7 jim jones January 17, 2016 at 1:29 am
8 Andre January 17, 2016 at 1:48 am

For you guys that aren’t as used to dog whistles, the natural born citizen thing is a way of reminding people in the midwest that Cruz is not *quite* white. And it will work.

9 Bob January 17, 2016 at 2:25 am

Well the fact remains that he’s not a natural born citizen, and is thus ineligible to be president.

As far as the politics of it goes, yes, it does help remind people that he is weird and has something in the woodpile. Cubans have been discovered to have some black ancestry. It doesn’t help that he has a weird name with a ‘z’ in it. I don’t know why he didn’t change it to “Cruise” or something, since he tries so hard with his whole twang and Southern Baptist shtick. I suppose name changes can be exposed too easily so it’s not worth it.

10 So Much For Subtlety January 17, 2016 at 2:43 am

And yet no one thought that McCain could not stand for President. John McCain III being born in … Panama.

I doubt this says a damn thing about American voters. It just says a lot about you. Republicans were happy to vote for Ben Carson. They will be happy to vote for Ted Cruz – if the choice is Hilary who else are they going to vote for? There are no votes in racism on the Right.

A weird name? Doesn’t seem to hurt Cameron Diaz.

11 Bob January 17, 2016 at 3:40 am

McCain was born on a US naval base in a territory of the US to a US naval officer and his American wife.

You have to consider the context. We’ve just had a president whose surname ends in a vowel, not to mention his first and middle names are strange as well.

12 So Much For Subtlety January 17, 2016 at 5:38 am

So in other words, McCain is as much an eligible candidate as Cruz.

What context? Republicans do not care about race. The Left does. That is why Nicki Haley and Bobby Jindal are so successful in the South. So what if the President’s name ends in a vowel? So did James Monroe’s, Millard Fillmore’s, Franklin Pierce’s, and Calvin Coolidge’s.

13 Andre January 17, 2016 at 5:42 am

I’m sorry what Republicans actually voted for Ben Carson? I saw his name high up in the polls when the voting was far away, but I didn’t see any vote for him. He’s a slow talking slightly improved Alan Keys that no Republicans are actually going to vote for. Sure they’ll vote for an ex football player or two if they are running for the House, but not much besides that. Good for Carson though he’ll be PAID after this little show of his.

After all the reaction to what Trump has said I’m surprised people don’t see this more clearly.

14 Mark Thorson January 17, 2016 at 12:48 pm

You didn’t hear much about it, but there were murmurs that McCain might not be eligible. At the least, it might need to go to the Supreme Court to decide. McCain is like Goldwater — born on a U.S. territory. (Goldwater was born in Arizona territory prior to statehood in 1912.)

The best comparison is actually with Mitt’s father George Romney, who ran for President in 1968. He was born in Mexico to U.S. citizens. That’s very analogous to the Cruz case. Had his candidacy gone further, this probably would have become an issue. I don’t know how much coverage there was of this at the time.

15 Bob January 17, 2016 at 2:24 pm

No, Cruz is definitely not a natural-born citizen. Unlike John McCain.

16 Bob January 17, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Trump has increased his lead over Cruz since pointing out that Cruz is weird and ineligible to be president.

Those presidents’ names don’t actually end in vowels. They’re just spelled that way.

17 So Much For Subtlety January 17, 2016 at 5:48 pm

Bob January 17, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Trump has increased his lead over Cruz since pointing out that Cruz is weird and ineligible to be president.

He is weird. There is no reason to think that he is ineligible.

Those presidents’ names don’t actually end in vowels. They’re just spelled that way.

And Kennedy’s is not spelled that way but does actually end in a vowel.

18 Bob January 17, 2016 at 6:36 pm

He’s ineligible because he’s not a natural-born citizen.

Regarding the surname thing, come on, you know what I mean. Kennedy is a Celtic name.

19 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 4:09 pm

As far as I’ve read, “Natural born citizen” had no decided definition. So, it could actually become a SCOTUS decision, though I think most likely in the case of Cruz a lower court would decide he is a “Natural born citizen” and the SCOTUS would reject the appeal.

20 Brett Dunbar January 17, 2016 at 11:18 am

That depends on what the courts decide “natural born citizen” actually means. Most legal opinion is that it requires that you be a US citizen at birth. Cruz was a US citizen by descent at birth, he was also a Canadian citizen but that is irrelevant to his status as a US citizen.

21 Dzhaughn January 17, 2016 at 3:23 am

Is there a way of reminding people in the midwest that Trump is not *quite* quite?

22 Andre January 17, 2016 at 5:31 am

The way they always work with a nod and a glance, and poll numbers that don’t turn into votes.

23 Jan January 17, 2016 at 5:44 am

Do you think this is being invoked now in the primaries, or that it will be used in the general election? I can see an argument for the Republican base being somewhat less likely to nominate Cruz if they think he’s a swarthy Mexican, but I don’t think it really matters for the general election.

24 Andre January 17, 2016 at 6:14 am

Cruz and Rubio both have the same problem. In the Primary they’ll have some trouble against a Trump and in the general election non Cuban Hispanic people aren’t going to vote for them. The fundamental privilege of getting aid and asylum just by virtue of being Cuban, and then slamming the door on everyone else won’t fly. If Hilary is smart she’ll have some proxies talking that aspect of things up on Spanish language networks and not really dirtying her hands with it. Might be giving Hillary too much credit on that one, but it is definitely the way to go.

25 Horhe January 17, 2016 at 8:28 am

I call BS on your painting the Midwesterners as “one drop rulers” running away from a whiff of exoticism. On what planet is Cruz not white? He’s a perfectly full-blooded European Spaniard. Like Rubio. Like a lot of the Cubans that left for the US back in the day. Which makes the Hispanic schtick disingenuous, which makes their pandering to it and using it to thrust themselves forward in the Stupid Party something that should be used against them. The natural born citizen thing applies to the majority of Whites on the planet, were they to become citizens of the US. Myself, Angela Merkel, Hollande, Sarkozy, David Cameron etc.

26 Bob January 17, 2016 at 8:30 pm

I think you’re taking this too personally. I never said that Midwesterners were “one drop rulers” or that they won’t like you or Cruz just because of your backgrounds.

I simply said that Cruz does have a weird background compared to most. Since Trump has been emphasizing this fact recently, Cruz’s poll numbers have slipped.

As far as Cubans go, they’ve been found to have some black ancestry.

I’m not sure what you mean by all those people becoming natural born citizens. Angela Merkel would not become a natural born citizen by becoming a US citizen.

27 Derek January 17, 2016 at 10:39 am

Odd who hears the dog whistles.

I suspect ‘he’s canadian’ is enough. Like saying ‘he’s from Idaho’ to most coastal Anericans.

28 The Original D January 17, 2016 at 12:29 pm

The Midwest? Dog whistles are a Southern thing, like Reagan launching his campaign in Mississippi, though ironically he couldn’t win a Republican primary now.

29 Larry Siegel January 18, 2016 at 2:06 am

Huh? Look who’s president. And he’s from the Midwest (after a number of stops elsewhere).

30 anon January 17, 2016 at 10:41 am

Summary of comments: Republicans don’t care about race, but we can relax because Cruz is not tainted by noneuropean blood.

31 Bob January 17, 2016 at 1:25 am

High IQ people such as Jews and Germans historically have had more authoritarian social structures. Whereas more egalitarian and democratic social structures tend to be found among hunter-gatherer groups who have lower IQs.

32 Bob January 17, 2016 at 2:43 am

“Democracy” seems to be a euphemism for a modern, bureaucratic state that supports or promotes certain leftist social values and orchestrates regular media events called elections that are purported to legitimize itself. Regardless of how democratic the society actually is.

Whatever it was that was imposed on Germany, it doesn’t look like it’s going to end well.

33 Hrding January 17, 2016 at 2:46 am

Agreed

34 HG January 17, 2016 at 1:40 am

You said: “I’m glad we played it cool with Iran this time around but let’s be clear — it’s them playing us, not vice versa. ”
I am from Iran living in the states. I know first hand that US sanctions crippled Iran’s economy. Iran surrendered 98% of its enriched uranium and basically destroyed Arak facility… US forced Iran to do almost all US wanted. How in the world can you say Iran is playing US or “us”?

35 Mark Thorson January 17, 2016 at 1:57 am

They did not agree to Reza Pahlavi assuming his rightful place as Shah of Iran.

36 carlolspln January 17, 2016 at 3:23 am

Spit take [v funny]

37 So Much For Subtlety January 17, 2016 at 2:12 am

US forced Iran to do almost all US wanted.

Almost all. Except give up their nuclear weapons program. Their missile programs. Their support for terrorists in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. And their on going refusal to allow the people of Iran a truly democratic choice.

It is a useless deal. America hands over billions and allows Iran back into world markets in exchange for nothing but some useless promises.

38 anon January 17, 2016 at 2:25 am

I can’t keep track of who the “terrorists” are in those countries. I thought IS were terrorists, and Iran does not support them. Don’t they support Assad?

39 Thiago Ribeiro January 17, 2016 at 4:14 am

Also, they didn’t give me free french fries wih my hamburger.
“And their on going refusal to allow the people of Iran a truly democratic choice.
Clearly, the USA would never support a non-democratic regime in the Middle East. Specially one with terrorist ties, one that radically restricts free speech and religious rights. It is the kind of hypocrisy even politicians would be disgusted by, I guess.

.

40 John L. January 17, 2016 at 9:44 am

“Nothing is true; everything is permitted; nothing is better than anything else.”
Not true. Sunni terrorists are clearly better than Shia politicians, Muslim dictatorships are bad unless they are the one that happens, according to USA officials, to be the biggest source of funding for terrorism (the one that supported the good old Taliban guys). Iranians should have democracy (until they dare to elect someone we do not like), Saudis don’t need to have a democracy– or think women and Jews are human beings.

41 Jan January 17, 2016 at 5:59 am

The US was a combatant in wars in Iran’s two largest neighboring countries that killed over 200,000 people. It’s kind of amazing they didn’t demand we give up our nuclear program.

42 anon January 17, 2016 at 7:46 am

The US was a combatant in wars in Iran’s two largest neighboring countries that killed over 200,000 people. It’s kind of amazing they didn’t demand we give up our nuclear program.

Wow what a profound statement. You remind me of the 11th grade social studies teacher who introduced me to cultural relativism.

43 Jan January 17, 2016 at 8:23 am

So your answer is you have no substantive response. Let me know when Iran instigates regime change in Cuba and kills thousands of people there. But first should they install a brutal dictatorship here in the US? Only to be overthrown by a Christian Revolution?

44 A Definite Beta Guy January 17, 2016 at 8:29 am

My answer is the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

45 Horhe January 17, 2016 at 8:34 am

@Jan – One, Iran fought Iraq as well (attacked first by Saddam though). Two, Lebanon, the mostly Christian territory that held out culturally during the Ottomans, and was utterly swamped and destroyed the previous century. The Iranian backed Hezbollah had a hand in the destruction of the Christian country no one seems to remember or care about. So did the Sunnis, though, which is why I am an equal opportunity “islamophobe” (scare quotes).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Lebanon#Christians

46 anon January 17, 2016 at 8:57 am

So your answer is you have no substantive response. Let me know when Iran instigates regime change in Cuba and kills thousands of people there. But first should they install a brutal dictatorship here in the US? Only to be overthrown by a Christian Revolution?

You are correct I have no substantive response. Nothing is true; everything is permitted; nothing is better than anything else.

47 John L. January 17, 2016 at 9:45 am

“Nothing is true; everything is permitted; nothing is better than anything else.”
Not true. Sunni terrorists are clearly better than Shia politicians, Muslim dictatorships are bad unless they are the one that happens, according to USA officials, to be the biggest source of funding for terrorism (the one that supported the good old Taliban guys). Iranians should have democracy (until they dare to elect someone we do not like), Saudis don’t need to have a democracy– or think women and Jews are human beings.

48 The Original D January 17, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Country A invades multiple countries from vast distances. Country B has never invaded another country. Which should be more paranoid?

49 A Definite Beta Guy January 17, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Iran launched numerous offensives into Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war for the explicit purpose of annexing Iraqi territory. What nonsense are you on about that Iran has never invaded anyone?

50 Gary S. January 17, 2016 at 3:22 pm

“Iran launched numerous offensives into Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war for the explicit purpose of annexing Iraqi territory. What nonsense are you on about that Iran has never invaded anyone?”
You mean after Iraq actually invaded Iran?

51 Tom January 17, 2016 at 5:49 pm

“It’s kind of amazing they didn’t demand we give up our nuclear program. … So your answer is you have no substantive response.”

Oh, you were being serious. Most droll.

52 A Definite Beta Guy January 18, 2016 at 10:54 am

That Iraq launched an offensive into Iran and was repulsed at the border does not give Iran an excuse to launch a decade-long offensive against Iraq to annex territory. Wars of self-defense do not justify annexation, as I hear your side whine INCESSANTLY whenever the other Mideast nation beginning with I is brought up. This idea that the Iranians are merely peaceful brokers defending themselves and never aggressively treat anyone is poppy-cock.

53 anon January 17, 2016 at 7:05 am

US forced Iran to do almost all US wanted. How in the world can you say Iran is playing US or “us”?

Here is Israel we are bracing ourselves for the renewed rocket and tunnel attacks that will be coming once Iran uses their unfrozen billions to upgrade Hamas and Hezbollah hardware.

54 Robert H. January 17, 2016 at 8:43 am

Here in America literally no one is bracing themselves for an Iranian nuclear attack.

55 anon January 17, 2016 at 8:59 am

Here in America literally no one is bracing themselves for an Iranian nuclear attack.

Yes the liberals have learned to stop worrying and love the Bomb.

Some of them are the same people who participated in “die-ins” back in the 80s.

56 Gary S. January 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm

The same ways Conservatives learned to love the Jewish-Christian democratic values of Saudi Arabia.

57 anon January 17, 2016 at 3:41 pm

The same ways Conservatives learned to love the Jewish-Christian democratic values of Saudi Arabia.

A nuclear Iran seeking to expand its geopolitical influence (ie. in its current theaters in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza and beyond as well) is a problem in a way that a passive t Wahabi dictatorship is not (notwithstanding its racism, sexism and other crimes).

Actions are what matter, not attitudes.

58 John L. January 17, 2016 at 4:23 pm

“Actions are what matter, not attitudes.”
I guess being the BIGGEST source of funding for terrorism is not an action at all.
“Notwithstanding its racism, sexism and other crimes”
Those crimes would matter a lot if they were commited by American leaders’ enemies (oh, the crocodile tears shed to the moral imperative of freeing the goog people –specially the good women and Christians– of Muslimstam from its oppressive regime!), but since it is an ally… Again, 14 years after the Soviet Union fell, the USA has an embargo against Cuba (a regime I don’t like) because…

59 RM January 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

I am not sure that Iran has given up all its nuclear capability. The knowledge remains. In any case, you make a good point. No one is playing anyone. It is just countries negotiating in a realistic manner with the longer-term objective, from the American side, that there can be regional peace.

What does Tyler want or think is realistic between the current outcome and another war in the Mideast?

60 Nathan W January 18, 2016 at 10:13 am

No daily bowing to Netanyahu. Which means the anti-semites must have won.

61 Andre January 17, 2016 at 1:51 am

How were we supposed to play it with Iran in this Naval incident? Is there a hint that they did anything besides sit in their own base and let these guys sail right up to them? How are people framing this as hostage taking? The smartest thing Iran can do is follow the nuclear deal to the letter. With out an Iraq/Iran boogie man to compare to the Saudi’s will look worse and worse in the next few years.

62 A Definite Beta Guy January 17, 2016 at 8:16 am

How many sailors did the Saudis take prisoner? How many ballistic missiles are the Saudis testing? How many nuclear centrifuges are the Saudis spinning? Iran had an opportunity to make themselves look better, and they show every intention of pissing it away. That doesn’t bother me: China is not emerging as a global power anytime soon and Russia is a barking dog.

63 The Original D January 17, 2016 at 12:35 pm

How many World Trade Centers did Iranian terrorists destroy? How many American airliners did they shoot down?

64 A Definite Beta Guy January 17, 2016 at 1:20 pm

You should probably ask Israel about the destruction caused by Iranian-sponsored terrorists, rather than asking stupid questions about the non-government sanctioned actions of law-breaking individuals. Also, the terrorists who shot up San Bernardino weren’t sponsored by Barrack Obama, either.

65 John L. January 17, 2016 at 4:28 pm

“rather than asking stupid questions about the non-government sanctioned actions of law-breaking individuals.”
All those Saudis, I am sure it is a coincidence. The Saudis supporting the Taliban regime was a coincidence, too.
“Also, the terrorists who shot up San Bernardino weren’t sponsored by Barrack Obama, either.”
Of course, they were. It is all part of his big plan to make himself America’s Caliph.

66 A Definite Beta Guy January 18, 2016 at 10:57 am

No one said it was “coincidence,” the question is whether a US strategic relationship with the Saudi Royal Government is a good idea and whether Iran will look better over the coming decade.

Obviously NOT, since Iran is testing ballistic missiles and seizing our sailors. Why would Iran look better than Saudi Arabia? That doesn’t mean Saudi Arabia looks good.

67 BC January 17, 2016 at 1:57 am

“Many Democrats are underestimating how rapidly [Cruz] will be able to shift to the center. Hillary calling him a flip-flopper will set peoples’ minds at ease, not turn them against Cruz.”

Funny, that was actually my reaction to this Slate article, which accuses Cruz of lying about his immigration record: [http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/01/ted_cruz_may_be_the_most_gifted_liar_ever_to_run_for_president.html]. The article details Cruz’s efforts in 2013 to basically finesse a compromise where illegal immigrants could stay in country with a green card, but would be penalized relative to those that entered legally because the illegals would not be eligible for citizenship, i.e., he recognized the reality that we could not deport 12 million people while still trying to impose consequences for breaking the law. That hardly sounds like a nativist extremist.

We also know that Cruz is not some crazy goldbug on monetary policy, which some might have assumed. Quite the contrary, he has demonstrated an ability to appreciate subtle aspects of monetary policy that even many expert economists don’t always get right: [http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2015/12/paging_frederic.html].

Having said all that, the markets right now do not seem to like Cruz’s chances: [http://www.electionbettingodds.com/]. Rubio had been leading Trump for quite some time (with Cruz in third), but Trump has surged into the lead following this week’s debate.

If Cruz does manage to win the nomination, I think Trump’s run in hindsight will have ended up helping Cruz in the general election. Trump makes Cruz look mainstream by comparison and many people will be breathing a sigh of relief that Cruz beat Trump. A Cruz victory over Trump will be perceived as a triumph of sanity over extremism, the opposite of what would have been the case if Cruz had defeated Rubio and Bush, with no Trump in the race.

68 chuck martel January 17, 2016 at 2:11 am

“We also know that Cruz is not some crazy goldbug on monetary policy….”

Gold was a perfectly acceptable form of money for many centuries. Evidently sane people didn’t appear on earth until 1933 or maybe even 1971.

69 John L. January 17, 2016 at 5:21 am

Other good oldies that must make a comeback: Slavery, polio, Jim Crow, the Chinese Exclusion Act, anti-Catholicism (“Rum, Romanism and Rebellion”). Those were the days.

70 T. Shaw January 17, 2016 at 11:46 am

Equating the gold standard with old times evils requires astounding levels of dishonesty and stupidity.

71 John L. January 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm

“Gold was a perfectly acceptable form of money for many centuries.”
Slavery was a perfectly acceptable form of labor recruitment for many millennia.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was a perfectly acceptable law for decades.
Anti-Catholicism is a perfectly acceptable strategy (“I’m an American and this is why our founders distrusted Catholics”–Ann Coulter, the Pope is communist, etc.) if there is some talk radio money to be made.
And so on and on and on. “Whatever has been done before will be done [again]. There is nothing new under the sun.”, says the Good Book.

72 Tom January 17, 2016 at 5:50 pm

Sorry, it still doesn’t make sense.

73 BC January 17, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Post-1930s, we have the experience of the Great Depression to inform us about the gold standard. It may have been perfectly sane to rely on radio, newspapers, and letter writing for communications in the 1930s. That doesn’t mean that we should eschew smartphones today.

74 The Original D January 17, 2016 at 12:40 pm

How do gold bugs still exist after Bernanke’s Fed.

75 chuck martel January 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm

“Post-1930s, we have the experience of the Great Depression to inform us about the gold standard.”

Executive Order 1602 forbidding any US citizen from owning gold, definitely a step forward for freedom, was issued in 1933. The Great Depression didn’t end for another 13 years.

76 Thiago Ribeiro January 17, 2016 at 5:14 am

I always thought America’s primary elections system was very democratic, it allows voters to vet candidates, instead of letting the big shots do so, as in Brazil. But if the candidate is forced to tell two wildly different sets of lies to get chosen (one for the party faithful and one for the heathen), what’s the point? If being known as a liar makes a candidate stronger and if his/her lies are mutually exclusive, what is the point of hearing anything he says? Why not choose from the telephone address book or choose by flipping a coin?

77 Derek January 17, 2016 at 10:54 am

There is a pretty big trade off, especially on the Republican side. It is necessary to pander to the base to win the primary, but pandering to the republican base (especially in important primary states like Iowa – rejiggering the primary system would have a pretty big impact on a lot of problems in U.S. Politics) requires taking positions that make a general election victory untenable. This is what happened to Romney, whose actual positions were probably a lot more moderate than he made them seem in order to win the primary.

78 BC January 17, 2016 at 12:09 pm

People already viewed Romney as slick and opportunistic, so his flip-flopping played into that pre-existing narrative. (Similarly, Hillary Clinton also faces a problem with her honesty, even more so with all the ethical scandals, which makes it difficult for her to tack right and left without further enhancing that perception of dishonesty.) All careerist politicians (as opposed to career politicians) face this problem.

Cruz is viewed as a right-wing ideologue. Any inconsistencies that make it seem like he is more pragmatic than originally thought will actually help him in the general election. Think of the notion of beating “low expectations” in presidential debates. In the general election, Cruz will have a low bar to beat in terms of extremist expectations.

79 Derek January 17, 2016 at 1:56 pm

I mostly agree, but I was trying to address thiago’s general point.

For this specific election, I think that the right faces voter turnout issues on both fronts with a trump nomination, which is drawing a lot of attention away from the seemingly genuine far right positions of Cruz. Hillary faces the same kinds of issues as trump, as a lot of democrats don’t like her but will do anything to prevent a right victory, while enough of the right hates Hilary enough to turn out inf full force to keep her away.

I think the sanders/Hilary area is the one place where moderate voters actually come into play. Hilary is basically the moderate candidate in this election (and the only one from either side!), while sanders is well left of Clinton I, Obama, and much of the current democrat/anti-crazy coalition. A sanders nomination risks enervating these voters, especially if they are not motivated to prevent a trump presidency.

80 Thiago Ribeiro January 17, 2016 at 3:14 pm

I see, thanks. What is near to the way American presidents actually rule? The primary elections pandering or the general election propaganda?

81 Derek January 17, 2016 at 8:21 pm

Hard to say, as gridlock between the executive and congress has been a defining feature of U.S. politics for decades. Clinton I probably was more moderate than expected but partly due to Gingrich congress and strategic failure in leading with health care reform, bush ii got dragged right by Cheney and rove, Obama was more moderate than expected but this could have been due to the republican congress revolt against order.

82 Lord January 17, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Swing to the center, dependent on donors and investment banking, combined with smarmy would seem to counter his chances. Are his supporters supposed to be stupid, cynical, farcical, or all of the above?

83 wwebd January 17, 2016 at 2:32 am

1916 was a puzzling year too. Unsurprisingly, few accounts were settled. Bengals, though, characteristically lost. (100 years on). Missing word: Sophrosyne. The Cruz news and the Indian public health news are good.

84 Jason W. January 17, 2016 at 2:54 am

More of these posts please.

85 prior_test January 17, 2016 at 3:25 am

‘Many Democrats are underestimating how rapidly he will be able to shift to the center.’

Well, not the Democrats taking major contributions from Goldman Sachs. Or the Democrats aware of who is receiving major contributions and/or personal loans from Goldman Sachs – ‘Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, places third in in the Goldman sweepstakes. Her campaign reported raising at least $49,000 from Goldman Sachs donors. Like Rubio, she has a registered Goldman Sachs lobbyist drumming up donations on her behalf. According to the campaign’s filings, Steve Elmendorf, a major name on K Street, has bundled more than $141,000 for Clinton. Elmendorf’s many clients include Churchill Downs, the NFL, and the Human Rights Campaign—and Goldman Sachs. Clinton also has a history of raising big bucks from Goldman-ites. In 2008, her presidential campaign brought in more than $407,000 from the firm.’ http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/jeb-bush-beating-hillary-clinton-goldman-sachs-primary

Rubio, Clinton, and Cruz, whose wife Heidi Nelson Cruz is a managing director at Goldman Sachs, are all well positioned to ensure that America receives the presidential candidate that Goldman Sachs desires. Though nobody at Goldman Sachs is stupid enough to think that what is good for Goldman Sachs is ever good for anyone else, except through pure chance.

86 Dulimbai January 17, 2016 at 3:32 am

What do Taiwanese elections have to do with anything? Taiwan had developed independently from China for 120 years. Surely that counts for something. That Taiwan can manage elections absolutely does not mean China as it is today could manage the same thing. The very idea is ludicrous.

87 Tyler January 17, 2016 at 11:12 pm

This is the bind China finds themselves in. If they espouse your angle, they emphasize “Taiwan can handle democracy != PRC can handle democracy”, which is good. But they also emphasize “Taiwan is fundamentally different from PRC”, which is not good. So they have to continue the delusion of democracy not REALLY working in Taiwan through emphasis on corruption cases as if they are unique in comparison to Western democracy. That will eventually run its course and then they’ll have to decide between “democracy isn’t really good – look at their stagnant economy” and “they can only do democracy because of other factors (like size) not related to culture”. It’s a thin line to tread for the CCP.

88 Gene Callahan January 17, 2016 at 4:31 am

“The vigorousness of the Taiwanese election cycle puts to rest the myth that somehow the Chinese do not have the cultural capital for democracy.”

Alternatively: Chinese cultural capital has eroded so much that they are finally submitting to democracy.

89 Jan January 17, 2016 at 5:23 am

(Except for maybe Trump) doesn’t Cruz consistently get the most “liar liar” ratings from all those debate fact checking organizations? I know nobody pays attention to those, especially the primary-voting base, but it should matter a little bit.

90 TMC January 17, 2016 at 2:52 pm

“fact checking organizations” Seriously? the “fact checking organizations” typically get the facts wrong more often than any candidate out there does.

91 Jan January 17, 2016 at 5:41 am

I’m glad we played it cool with Iran this time around but let’s be clear — it’s them playing us, not vice versa.

No. It’s two countries finally talking to each other and doing something in each of their best interests. Let’s not forget the huge winner in this–the average Iranian will get to live a in a more open society, more a part of the global economy.

All this stuff with the sailors and the other long-held prisoners was the work of the Revolutionary Guards, basically a shadow government separate from the official controls of Rouhani. It was a distraction. There was and is no deal that could have prevented hard-liners from pulling crap like this. The more important question is whether they are adhering to the relatively narrow but significant requirements of the nuclear deal. They are.

92 Jan January 17, 2016 at 6:09 am

One measure of an adequate deal is that some parties on each side feel like they are getting screwed. That is the case here. The commentors above have outlined why US conservatives don’t like the deal. On the other side, today is Implementation Day in Iran, when the sanctions are lifted. It was supposed to be a great relief for the country and received with much fanfare. Unfortunately, everyone seems to think it sucks or just not give a damn.

Since the deal was signed in July, Iran has had to put into storage more than 12,000 centrifuges, ship out almost its entire stockpile of enriched uranium and remove the core of its heavy-water reactor. Many officials, especially hard-liners, find it hard to present the nuclear agreement as a victory, especially when so much was given up in compromise.

“Nuclear burial,” the hard-line newspaper Vatan-e Emrouz wrote in a headline on its front page on Saturday, showing a picture of freshly poured concrete, similar to what replaced the core of the reactor.

http://nyti.ms/1OoEr4W

93 anon January 17, 2016 at 8:00 am

Since the deal was signed in July, Iran has had to put into storage more than 12,000 centrifuges, ship out almost its entire stockpile of enriched uranium and remove the core of its heavy-water reactor.

Whereas who verified has this, and how they verified it, is known only to the IAEA and Iran and mayber Obama/Kerry. Not even Congress knows about it.

For all we know, it might be that the Iranians themselves have attested to the IAEA that the Iranian committments have been fulfilled. This is what was done at Parchin, and Iran has threatened to stop cooperating if the verification mechanisms are ever made public.

94 Kevin- January 17, 2016 at 5:51 am

“I still think Ted Cruz will be the Republican nominee, as for some while he has been focused on becoming President and he has the requisite level of talent.”

On paper, he has the requisite talent. In flesh and blood, not so much. I’d go so far as to say he exudes the opposite of charisma (repulsion?). And the more he talks, the worse it gets. I think Republicans like him for his pit-bull nature, but I don’t think even Republicans see him as a chief exec. He’s the guy in the wings, straining at the leash. He’s the caddy.

95 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm

On paper, he has the requisite talent. In flesh and blood, not so much. I’d go so far as to say he exudes the opposite of charisma (repulsion?). ”

I’m pretty sure most people on the Right would think this description aptly applied to Hillary Clinton. 😉

96 rayward January 17, 2016 at 6:34 am

Cruz isn’t a flip-flopper, he’s a charlatan; he no more believes the flat-earth nonsense he tells the Republican base than he believes he is the Messiah. No, wait, Mrs. Cruz (while she was driving along the freeway) had a revelation from God; and, behold, He supports her husband in the campaign for President. I will believe it when God makes a large campaign contribution to Cruz, because until He does, it’s just talk. Of course, God works His miracles in mysterious ways, and His campaign contribution could be disguised as a loan from Goldman Sachs.

97 Cyrus January 17, 2016 at 7:21 am

God, not being a US national, can give only to Hillary.

98 Horhe January 17, 2016 at 8:36 am

HE paid for a few speeches.

99 rayward January 17, 2016 at 7:16 am

“I’m glad we played it cool with Iran this time around but let’s be clear — it’s them playing us, not vice versa.” Cowen seems to favor Cruz, too. My question: should we “carpet bomb” Iran, or just Syria? The art of the diplomat, the art of the politician, the art of the lawyer, is to solve problems and resolve conflict. Maybe Cowen doesn’t appreciate art. Cruz doesn’t, the Republican base doesn’t, Justice Scalia doesn’t.

100 Tyler Cowen January 17, 2016 at 8:58 am

I am not into the “supporting candidates” thing, just fyi…

101 rayward January 17, 2016 at 9:24 am

For two weeks I’ve had the flu and now a sinus infection. Anyway, that’s my excuse. You host the most informative blog (your reading list has no peer) and I’ve learned much as a regular reader of it. Your comment about Cruz (that he will quickly and seamlessly shift to the center) is absolutely correct (the point, made with snark, of my first comment that he’s playing to the base with his flat-earth nonsense). Cruz is both book smart (a very successful appellate lawyer, appellate lawyers being the radiologists of the legal profession) and street smart (he knows where the votes are), and Democrats make a huge mistake if they underestimate him. I’ll take my medication and eventually get over my sinus infection, but not my disappointment in the state of American politics; Clinton is loathsome, an opinion that is unrelated to gender.

102 Bill January 17, 2016 at 9:09 am

As for Cruz shifting the center, you have to recognize that some folks are loyal to their party, no matter what their candidate says. It’s a part of their identity. This does not mean that if their leader went a different way, say in the case of Rubio being the leader, they wouldn’t sway in his direction, shifting the center once more.

To say your party shifts doesn’t say you win, or have a long lasting impression.

Goldwater in ’64.

103 Larry Siegel January 18, 2016 at 2:19 am

I am pretty loyal to my party, and would have voted for Goldwater if I had been old enough, but I WILL NOT vote for Donald Trump. In fact, if I have to vote for Hillary Clinton to help defeat Trump should become the Republican nominee, I will. The republic will survive yet another feckless Democrat who promises everybody free stuff.

104 Larry Siegel January 18, 2016 at 2:20 am

=should he become…

sorry for the typoo.

105 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 4:25 pm

It’s that attitude more than any that makes Trump’s poll numbers unusually deceptive. Trump will certainly do well, but he won’t do as well as his current poll numbers would indicate other wise.

106 A B January 17, 2016 at 9:35 am

This administration clearly has been using a win/win strategy with Iran. Unfortunately, counterstrategies to win/win were developed decades ago.

107 Bill January 17, 2016 at 9:42 am

Re: Aramco The Saudis are hedging political risk with the partial sale of Aramco, but what you will more likely see is the use of the proceeds to invest in other downstream facilities in other countries as a means of foreclosing rivals access to outlets for their oil. You might also see the Saudis engaging in joint venture activities in downstream markets with their rivals as a way of monitoring production agreements. If oil prices are low, refined prices might slowly decline and become a profit opportunity, depending on the end user market and refined pipeline connections.

If you want to look at how the international oil market worked to stabilize prices, look up MIT economists Morris Edelman’s work on international oil and his work on OPEC.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/09/business/morris-a-adelman-dies-at-96-saw-oil-as-inexhaustible.html

108 ABV January 17, 2016 at 9:58 am

Floating parts of ARAMCO is also what you would do if you thought oil prices will continue to drop in the future.

The average person is definitely underestimating how fast the combination of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicle technology can destroy oil demand.

The two autonomous leaders – Tesla and Google – would much prefer electric for altruistic reasons not to mention the lower operating costs in a high utilization scenario like a self driving uber. Each car they produce could replace 5-15 ICE cars. Tesla is talking about 500,000 cars per year by 2020. Combined with other manufacturers you could see rapid reduction in oil demand in the developed world. Trying to predict demand then becomes a question of how quick other big markets can electrify efficiently. China = fast, the others might be slower but have a lot of incentive considering how bad local pollution is for politics.

109 chuck martel January 17, 2016 at 10:28 am

If there were any altruism involved people would be riding unicorns to work.

110 ABV January 17, 2016 at 10:37 am

In this case it doesn’t really matter, the economics favor electrification within a few years. The altruism part with people like Musk is just speeding the adoption up since he took way more risk than the normal businessman would with Tesla.

111 Jeff R. January 17, 2016 at 11:17 am

Why does it seem like none of the major auto manufacturers got this memo?

112 Gochujang January 17, 2016 at 11:28 am

Check out the growing list of cars powered by electricity! A few years ago, you could count the number of available plug-in cars on one hand, with a couple fingers left over. Today, there are more than 20 models offered from more than a dozen different brands

113 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 4:27 pm

You can’t effectively fuel long road trucks, freight trains or airplanes with pure electric. So, the electrification of passenger vehicles doesn’t explain the price drop.

114 byomtov January 17, 2016 at 11:51 am

Sorry. I’m tired of hearing how smart Cruz is supposed to be. Yes, he’s a good lawyer, which means he’s good at formal forms of argument.

But nothing else he’s said or done gives me the impression that he is particularly intelligent. Carpetbombing without killing civilians? Sure, Ted. Inflation rampant? You got it. Gold standard? Just the ticket. Climate change is a giant conspiracy. OK. Just calm down.

Come on people. The guy is a crackpot.

115 TMC January 17, 2016 at 3:07 pm

He bested Yellen at monetary policy while she was testifying before Congress.

When he knows more about economics than the country’s top economist, he’s probably pretty smart.

116 Gochujang January 17, 2016 at 3:28 pm

By Cruz saying in 2015 what the Fed should have done in 2008?

I don’t suppose he asked for it in 2008 either …

117 byomtov January 17, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Believe what you like.

118 TMC January 17, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Gochujang: I meant just basic understanding of monetary policy, I won’t give him credit for hindsite.

byomtov: Or just look at the testimony.

119 byomtov January 17, 2016 at 9:40 pm

I did.

120 byomtov January 17, 2016 at 9:42 pm

So you are claiming that Cruz has a better understanding of basic monetary policy than Yellen?

What flavor are you drinking?

121 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

“Come on people. The guy is a crackpot.”

Well yes, but so is Bernie Sanders.

122 byomtov January 17, 2016 at 2:22 pm

I’m glad we played it cool with Iran this time around but let’s be clear — it’s them playing us, not vice versa.

I don’t suppose Tyler would care to explain his reasoning here.

It’s amazing how many people are sure they could have gotten a better deal with not much basis.

123 Paul January 17, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Ah, so you agree the Taiwanese are Chinese?

124 Tyler January 17, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Yes and Austrians are German

125 Tom January 17, 2016 at 6:00 pm

I don’t really see Cruz winning against Clinton, regardless of how he tacks. Well, maybe if she turns out to have obvious health or drinking problems. Obvious enough that the media can’t cover them up.

126 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 4:49 pm

I can see any of the likely Republican candidates winning if the FBI recommends for indictment.

“FBI expanding investigation of Clinton private email use”

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-clinton-emails-idUSKCN0UP1XC20160111

“The FBI is widening its investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while she was U.S. secretary of state to determine whether any public corruption laws were violated, Fox News reported on Monday.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: