Which of our public policy institutions are working well right now?

by on July 20, 2017 at 12:03 am in Current Affairs, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

Chad R. asks me:

Which of our public policy institutions are working well right now?

It seems there are plenty of takes about *why* our institutions are under extreme stress, but precious few about which are still working properly.

The Supreme Court comes to mind…

I say plenty of them are working well:

1. The CBO remains independent and effective, even though I think they are treating the health care mandate incorrectly and overestimating its impact.

2. As for the courts, they remain powerful and effective.  But note: while I strongly disagree with Trump’s travel ban, some of the lower courts overstepped their bounds by taking away too much power from the executive, relative to law.  It’s as if the courts have become too strong — perhaps optimally so — in a kind of overshooting model.

3. The Senate.  Even though one party controls all branches of government, a variety of bad health care bills have come to naught, and that is after many earlier votes to repeal Obamacare.  It is less clear to me how the House is working, but that’s why we have bicameralism.  I don’t care how stupid you might think the process is, so far it is generating acceptable results.  Yum, yum, yum, I just love that democracy!

4. The media as investigators have been excellent, though as summarizers of what is really going on I see their performance as much weaker, due to selective reporting.

5. Think tanks: the lack of Trump infrastructure at this level has raised my estimate of think tank importance.  That said, I am not sure how many think tanks are influencing policy right now, but if nothing else the inability to have or assemble a good think tank is indeed important.

6. The bureaucracy, for the most part, including the Fed.  Admittedly, some parts of the bureaucracy, such as the State Department, are being throttled by the Executive branch.

What’s not working well?

I say the executive branch and the White House.  Destroying or limiting the value of alliances is one of the easiest things for a blundering president to do.  I also see a significant opportunity cost from not having a legislation-oriented, detail-savvy White House.  Still, they are doing a good job on regulatory reform and an excellent Supreme Court appointment has been made.

Most of all, the appointments process is not working well, some of that being the fault of the Senate too.

The main lesson?  American government isn’t quite the train wreck you might think, and I haven’t even touched on the states, counties, and cities.

1 Some Guy July 20, 2017 at 12:11 am

What kind of good progress have you seen on regulatory reform? Sincere question.

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2 Just an Australian July 20, 2017 at 12:24 am

Yes, I’d like to know what progress there has been, and why it’s “good”. Simply reversing a few executive orders isn’t much progress, and it was not obvious why those were good decisions

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3 MMK July 20, 2017 at 6:36 am

You were too busy paying attention to the media created scandals to pay attention to the actual stuff that the Trump administration was doing. Sad! Tyler had a post a while ago detailing the repeal of the regulation about coal plants and fresh water sources and why it was a good repeal.

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4 mmr July 20, 2017 at 9:11 am

Could you post that article? I’d be interested.

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5 MMK July 20, 2017 at 9:40 am

I misrepresented Tyler’s position when I said it was a “good repeal”. Mood affiliation!

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/02/wants-coal-company-pollution-water-streams.html

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6 mulp July 20, 2017 at 12:35 pm

I’m guessing he sees killing and maiming workers, stealing their money, promoting unequal rights to divide the people into winners and losers, killing citizens, taking the property and liberty of innocent people, and cutting gdp growth as positive deregulation. Such actions benefit the conservative elites efforts to redistribute wealth from the bottom half in income to the 1%.

Ironically, the economic agenda seems to be directed at ensuring the bottom 50% have nothing to redistribute to the 1%, or even pay for gdp.

“Liberal media” has been asking people questions in Trumpland. One was a store owner asked about cutting funding or ending SNAP, and he said he’d be forced to fire workers and might go bankrupt. He voted for Trump and likes the rollback of regulations requiring his customers being paid fairly, but he wants SNAP to continue funding the spending of poorly paid customers.

Free lunch economics. High gdp growth by spending lots less money. That’s the theme of the deregulation. Obviously when customers are paid less, they will buy lots more, increasing gdp.

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7 DBN July 20, 2017 at 5:15 pm

Store owners in poor rural areas are big fans of SNAP. They’re often involved in schemes where customers by nonperishable foods – often soda – using SNAP funds, and then go to the loading dock and sell the food back to the store at 50 cents on the dollar, converting their SNAP benefits to cash and making the store a nice bit of money as well.

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8 TMC July 20, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Via Instapundit: Trump kills 16 regulations for every new one, crushing 2-for-1 goal

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-kills-16-regulations-for-every-new-one-crushing-2-for-1-goal/article/2629177

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9 ladderff July 20, 2017 at 12:17 am

Pathetic post.

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10 P July 20, 2017 at 1:54 am

Pathetic contribution. Do you have anything else to say?

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11 The Other Jim July 20, 2017 at 8:02 am

I’d say he summed it up perfectly.

I love in #2, for instance, that the courts are “working well” despite Tyler’s admission that they flat-out refused to do their jobs. Their job is to strike down illegal laws, and they chose to do the exact opposite. And they were very upfront about it, saying that they’d have let the law stand for any President but Trump. (See Obama’s longer travel ban for Iraqis a few years prior.)

This is Tyler’s definition of “working well.”

Pathetic post.

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12 turner July 20, 2017 at 10:56 am

how did Tyler develop even the slightest reputation as a libertarian type?

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13 Free the TrumpRolled! July 22, 2017 at 10:53 am

is a reputation of being “Libertarian” the Standard of Excellence?

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14 wd40 July 20, 2017 at 12:33 am

Why is Gorsuch an excellent appointment? He is a follower of Scalia and believes in original intent. Why would someone with an economic frame of mind believe that original intent would be a good guide to making judgments? See Richard Posner for an extended argument against Scalia and original intent. Anyway original intent is close to reading tea leaves–It is more in the mind of the interpreter. Luckily there was a civil war; otherwise we would be stuck with the original intent of discrimination against African-Americans if not slavery.

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15 Ex Cathedra July 20, 2017 at 1:00 am

The original intent of of the founders on slavery is irrelevant; the original intent of the authors of the 13th through 15th amendments is what matters there. See how it works itself out? It isn’t about founder worship, it’s about the rule of law, and the idea that the law has boundaries which don’t change with the democratic mood of the country — until the mood has changed enough to get an amendment ratified.

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16 Boonton July 20, 2017 at 8:28 am

Doesn’t work because the present moment embodies both what is as well as the potentiality of what we’d like to bring about.

Consider, imagine if Equal Protection Under the Law was passed today as an amendment. Now what does that mean? Does that mean we consider the law as it is today a perfect embodiment of Equal Protection? If that’s so then why are we passing it? We already have it. But I don’t know all the laws we have today and I wouldn’t bet all of them are perfect when it comes to Equal Protection. I might support the amendment both because I think some of the laws today could merit scrutiny through the lens of Equal Protection and laws that might pass tomorrow should be put through an Equal Protection filter. So as far as intent goes so far so good…that’s original!

But who applies that filter? Well of course someone in the future, I won’t be around 100 years from now to apply Equal Protection to laws in dispute. But what filter am I asking for? I want someone to judge laws on whether or not they provide Equal Protection. But I’m not asking for someone to try to channel my tastes or knee jerk judgments from the past. Trying to guess if I think a law saying intelligent toasters with an AI level of 5.0 are entitled to a hearing before their owners can throw them away for the newer model violates Equal Protection in the year 2125 is NOT my intent in supporting such a law today. I acknowledge a judge of the future may produce a decision there that is at odds with what a perfect computer simulation of me….assembled from data mining all available info about me from the digital archives….would say.

Hence the paradox of original intent. The original intent of the Founders was NOT to have judges evaluate laws through original intent. If I want toasters to forever be unable able to claim Equal Protection I would simply support an amendment that said “toasters shall not claim any protections under Equal Protection”. Instead I want judges of the future to apply a filter and quite frankly the results of that application are unknown to me, probably things I would find absurd or distasteful if I did know. But then you probably want your great grandkids to pick out what music they like to listen too and you know a time travelling sampling of their tracks might very well be the worse thing you’d ever hear.

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17 A Definite Beta Guy July 20, 2017 at 9:50 am

This isn’t how the approach works in practice. The Founding Fathers knew full well what “the death penalty” was, and clearly did not prohibit it when they banned cruel and unusual punishment. We don’t have to rely on hypotheses about super-intelligent toasters to know that liberal justices are disregarding what the Constitution actually says.

We already have equal protection. It’s the 14th Amendment. The people who passed the 14th Amendment knew what homosexuality was. It’s not a novel concept that Millennials invented.

There’s not much fundamentally new that requires radical reinterpretation. That’s modern conceit.

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18 Boonton July 21, 2017 at 9:11 am

So the argument you are making is the Founders thought the list of common punishments in use in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s were the ‘norm’. Their intent was to ban punishments more cruel and more unusual than that but to protect the current slew of punishments in use at the time. Kind of interesting when you think that today we have very long term prison sentences and people who have to spend the rest of their lives connected to the criminal justice system (probation, Megan’s law registries, etc.). Those weren’t common back then…was their ‘intent’ then to say “3 strikes” laws that today sometimes give life sentences to someone for stealing a slice of pizza are cruel and unusual but hanging isn’t?

But then they lived in a time where there was debate over what punishments were just and unjust…some even challenged the death penalty then. They were aware that not too long before their time elaborate public torture-porn-executions were commonly done and were now deemed uncivilized. So they knew standards were not static. If their intent was to freeze a spectrum of acceptable punishments to the common practices of, say, 1799, they could have simply said something along those lines. “Punishments crueler or not common to those employed in these 13 United States shall not be permitted”. How do you account for this failure without seeing the ‘intent’ was to hitch the law to something that moves rather than something that doesn’t?

19 Rich Berger July 20, 2017 at 9:19 am

Your response is rather too clear and obvious. The real reason it is rejected by the left is that a fixed interpretation of constitutional principles impedes their program of an expansive, controlling state.

Walter Williams once asked whether you would like to play poker under a set of “living” rules.

BTW, #4: Tyler is comically misinformed and will never wake from his intellectual slumber.

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20 Alain July 20, 2017 at 11:12 am

Seeing as part of #4 it was predictable that he would say it. It is however so laughable that it almost completely invalidates the entire post.

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21 Boonton July 21, 2017 at 9:14 am

The right asserts universities not wanting to invite Milo to speak breaks the First Amendment. Yet they themselves reserve the right to disinvite him should his speech go somewhere they don’t like.

In the living memory of those who passed the First Amendment, a law was passed prohibiting people from sending abolitionist literature through the mail.

If when Obama had a democratic Congress, a law was proposed prohibiting pro-life groups from using the mail would Walter Williams happily note he was just ‘playing by the rules’ of the game?

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22 wd40 July 20, 2017 at 9:45 am

The 13th-15th amendments were made after the civil war and reconstruction where the North had imposed its will on the South. Without the Civil War and reconstruction, these amendments would not have been passed.

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23 wait July 20, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Yeah I’m sure it was the original intent of the many authors of the constitution that the 1st amendment allow for corporations to spend billions of dollars on elections. I have no doubt they considered corporations to be people too. What a bunch of crap. “Original intent” is activist lawmaking by a different name. Please explain to me why in Bush v Gore the 5 conservative justices didn’t remand to the state of Florida to figure out a recount process that was not in violation of the equal protection clause and why they specifically said their opinion shouldn’t serve as precedent for any other opinion going forward. I’m sure that can all be explained away by some phony original intent argument too.

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24 Potato July 21, 2017 at 12:11 am

I never understood this objection. Speech includes money. If I’m legally prohibited in giving money to a political group then that should be verboten according to the constitution.

The hilarious part of this whole bullshit circus is that campaign donations don’t matter, at all. But, whatever. Crusade on, Young warrior.

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25 Free the TrumpRolled! July 22, 2017 at 11:08 am

Speech includes money.
the troublesome implication of the “principle” of “right to speech = funds” is that thereby “funds = right to free speech” and that everyone in US jurisdiction has equal constitutional rights.

campaign donations wasn’t the term that wait used.

26 MMK July 20, 2017 at 6:33 am

You have no idea what you are talking about. See the part of the post on the media as selective summarizers.

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27 Dick the Butcher July 20, 2017 at 8:07 am

Q.E.D.

If President Donald J. Trump does nothing else, he will have saved us from philosopher kings/idiot, liberal judges that would enslave us.

7 June 2017: President Trump names 11 sterling, conservative Federal judges.

Andrew Klavan, “W]with the Supreme Court taking on the role, as it has, of super legislature, all it requires is five idiot intellectuals who believe in leftist crap for us to lose the right to speak free — which, let’s face it, is inseparable from the right to live free.

“Because Trump is what he is — and because of what he is not — we have preserved that precious right for another day. For that alone, he deserves our thanks and support.”

wd40: Read the Federalist Papers.

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28 BC July 20, 2017 at 12:59 am

3) Given that the overwhelmingly consistent mandate of every election since Obamacare’s passage, and even the Massachusetts special election immediately before its passage, has been to repeal it, I think it’s hard to argue that the results in the Senate have thus far been “acceptable”. I suppose one could argue that stopping bad health care bills is acceptable, *provided that it eventually leads to a clean repeal*, followed by possibly bipartisan negotiations to craft narrowly targeted measures to restore certain popular features, e.g., handling of pre-existing conditions. However, it remains uncertain whether clean repeal will happen, even though the Senate is close to having exhausted all other possibilities.

(In retrospect, the obvious mistake that Republicans have made is to try to repeal-and-replace simultaneously. With Obamacare as the default alternative to no bills being passed, Democrats have no reason to support anything. That would change completely if the default alternative were the pre-Obamacare status quo.)

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29 Anon July 20, 2017 at 1:15 am

I don’t think you can correlate all those election results with Obamacare. It was only one of the factors and a lot of misguided hype about “death panels” and the like.
Now that polls indicate perhaps a majority are in favor of it (compared to all these alternatives, red in tooth and claw) , why would repealing it be considered acceptable?

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30 BC July 20, 2017 at 1:31 am

If the Republicans did repeal Obamacare, running on “Restoring Obamacare” would not sweep Democrats into office the way that Repeal Obamacare swept Republicans into office. It’s doubtful that Democrats would even try such a strategy (though I’m sure Republicans would love it if they did).

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31 Alan July 20, 2017 at 7:33 am

It was enacted with “perhaps a majority “. That is simply not good enougg fir an act with such sweeping consequences. We qill figgt over this one for a long time is my prediction.

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32 Borjigid July 20, 2017 at 8:40 am

So when voters reelected Obama is was a mandate to repeal Obamacare? C’mon.

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33 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 10:29 am

The biggest missed opportunity for the GOP right there. If Mitt had run on “I understand this stuff, can FIX Obamacare” he would probably be in his second term right now.

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34 msgkings July 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Nah. More charismatic guy always wins.

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35 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Mitt definitely got uptight, but I see that as the suit he was forced to wear.

Our kid talked to Mitt at the airport last year, good guy who had time for the kids from the field trip.

36 msgkings July 20, 2017 at 1:26 pm

I like Mitt, he is a good guy. But Obama is more charismatic, come on man.

This rule is pretty robust. Either the more charismatic guy wins (Eisenhower x2, Kennedy, Reagan x2, Clinton x2, Bush II x2, Obama x2, Trump) or neither candidate has a noticeable charisma advantage (LBJ, Nixon x2, Carter, Bush I)

37 JWatts July 20, 2017 at 5:24 pm

“or neither candidate has a noticeable charisma advantage (LBJ, Nixon x2, Carter, Bush I)”

Actually, I would give Carter the edge on charisma versus Ford in 1976 and Bush the edge on charisma versus Dukakis in 1988. Frankly, charisma is probably the most significant factor.

38 msgkings July 20, 2017 at 6:09 pm

@JWatts, yeah I tend to agree but they are closer together than the other guys I listed.

39 prior_test3 July 20, 2017 at 1:04 am

So, a bit more of that ‘ media as investigators have been excellent’ demonstrating that as ‘summarizers of what is really going on I see their performance as much weaker, due to selective reporting.’

‘For months, Mark Serrano has been one of President Trump’s fiercest defenders and most enthusiastic supporters on TV. In semiregular appearances on the Fox Business Network, the veteran Republican operative has praised Trump’s leadership and bashed news media coverage of him. He’s called Ivanka Trump the most “powerful or influential advocate for women’s empowerment ever in our history.”

Fox News and Fox Business have described Serrano variously as a Republican strategist, a crisis-management expert and a former adviser to President George H.W. Bush since he began appearing on the networks in 2014.

But Serrano has had another role this spring, one that wasn’t disclosed to viewers as he was touting Trump: His firm was a paid consultant to the president’s 2020 reelection campaign.’ https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/pro-trump-tv-pundits-firm-took-undisclosed-payments-from-trump-campaign/2017/07/19/a7ae21f8-6bef-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html

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40 Lord July 20, 2017 at 1:16 am

I guess it is a matter of what is more important, accomplishing good or preventing bad.

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41 Lord July 20, 2017 at 8:39 am

And while the latter may be more important, it is also a lower bar. How much greater is the former.

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42 John Smith July 20, 2017 at 9:06 am

It is not so clear that preventing bad in our government is a lower bar than “doing good”. At least if your definition of preventing bad = follow existing law.

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43 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 10:44 am

Concur.

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44 Matt Raft July 20, 2017 at 1:16 am

The media is quite possibly the least functional unit today in America. Your blog and other excellent ones aside (Bryan Caplan comes to mind), most media is totally useless or biased. Is your position re: the media a result of being surrounded by some of the highest performing students in America and being cut off from above-average to average 20-year and 26 year-olds?

As for the courts, trial courts are not functioning well at all because lawyers cost too much money, and most civil litigation is procedural, not substantive. I know of no intelligent lawyer who believes trial courts function well for the average citizen in either criminal or civil court. (You may mean appellate courts function well, but even then, what percentage of cases get there? Look up how much it costs to appeal–including hiring an appellate lawyer–and you’ll get an idea of American justice.)

Traveling really helps sort out these issues. Other countries may not have as much media, but most of their residents are smarter because their heads aren’t filled with biased information. It’s incredible how much more open-minded people are when they’re not dealing with biased, useless information on a daily basis.

As for legal systems, courthouses often have shabbier appearances in developing countries, but they get the job done without expensive lawyers. In more developed countries, lawyers are seen primarily as transactional conduits, i.e., paid to navigate a thicket of laws with a certain endpoint, such as registering a deed, creating a business entity, handling tax issues, contesting a fine, etc.

You’re spot-on about the CBO, though.

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45 prior_test3 July 20, 2017 at 1:34 am

Well, here is just some more of that horribly biased media reporting – ‘“And when Nixon came along [inaudible] was pretty brutal, and out of courtesy, the FBI started reporting to the Department of Justice,” said the president, apparently recounting his reminiscences of post-Watergate reforms. “But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing – anything. But the FBI person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting.”

The FBI director has reported directly to the attorney general since the bureau’s creation.’ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/19/donald-trump-jeff-sessions-recusal

Quoting the words of the president, and appending a historical fact that can be independently checked clearly equals bias. After all, an unbiased media would not even bother checking Trump’s alternative facts, right?

The biases

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46 Lurker July 20, 2017 at 6:47 am

The Media as “investigators”?

BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Either that is a troll, or I am living on a parallel plane of the universe….

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47 prior_test3 July 20, 2017 at 6:54 am

Good point – much of the Post’s confirmed information has come from unnamed sources, for example. Sources that are often dismissed, until one Donald or the other confirms precisely what the unnamed source said.

Of course, that is neither investigation nor summarizing, and thus not covered by what Prof. Cowen wrote.

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48 Borjigid July 20, 2017 at 8:43 am

Re: courts

I think that Tyler is evaluating them from the point of view of forming public policy, rather than in their totality. So most civil and criminal cases for average citizens would be left out of his analysis, which focuses instead on the major cases at the appellate and supreme courts.

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49 Bill July 20, 2017 at 9:28 am

Matt,

There is no thing called “The Media” There are many Medias–many newspapers, many online sites, many outlets on cable etc.

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50 Anon_senpei July 20, 2017 at 10:35 am

But the national Medias (at least the “respectable” ones) are populated by the same type of person: liberal, Ivy educated, White, journalism majors (and before you laugh at that one, take some time and think how the media would be different if engineers wrote for the papers).

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51 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 10:44 am

Matt has an interesting take. We do have great variation in press coverage and reader attention.

Sometimes arguments here (or on CNN panels) seem they are just a few days behind in news reading. But that isn’t really surprising, nor something I can really criticize. It takes a lot of time and attention to read everything, and to wait for independent confirmation before believing it. If you aren’t retired and news addicted that few day lag could take weeks or months to fill. Especially if you are doing something awesome like coaching little league after work. (Or worse you are a CNN advocate paid to ignore some of it.)

Still, the truth is out there, even on Twitter. Just don’t trust everything or every first report.

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52 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 11:19 am

Maybe that is a fundamental distinction. When you think of media, do you think of something you watch, or do you think of something you read?

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53 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

This is my favorite tool for stories that are bubbling and may be true:

http://www.memeorandum.com/m/

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54 Daniel Weber July 20, 2017 at 11:00 am

It’s good the media is doing their job again. I don’t expect it to last.

A bunch of people whose duty is to stop executive overreach are back to doing their jobs. On NPR this morning I heard someone gasping at the concept of Trump gaining access to publicly available voting rolls, because elections are supposed to be a local matter, with rules and regulations decided at the city and state level. That’s a nice sentiment. I wonder where it was when North Carolina’s districts were under a microscope last year. I wonder where it will be once Trump is out of office.

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55 Ricardo July 20, 2017 at 12:28 pm

The argument you heard is indeed a pretty bad one. Since elections are a state and local matter, it is completely unremarkable and hardly sinister that we find things like dead people still registered or people registered in more than one place. Yet this seems to be the focus of claims of alleged “voter fraud.”

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56 Pensans July 20, 2017 at 1:17 am

If you can evaluate whether the courts are working well without a knowledge of law, then you mean they are producing political outcomes that you like. Since courts are not supposed to be a political branch and he doesn’t know law, Cowen’s praise is condemnation. Something generally true.

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57 Chip July 20, 2017 at 1:22 am

“I say the executive branch and the White House. Destroying or limiting the value of alliances is one of the easiest things for a blundering president to do.”

Depends on your perspective. Obama panned the special relationship with the UK, was openly hostile to Israel to the point of meddling in their election, abandoned a missile defence pact with Eastern Europe, cozied up to Iran, welcomed Russian back into the Middle East, and stripped Iraq of US troops.

Trump has walked away from an ineffectual climate treaty, talked some protectionist nonsense and said some crass things but it’s largely superficial noise.

Interesting that in this discussion, the biggest failure of government wasn’t mentioned: the burgeoning debt crisis – federal, state and local. Surely the foundation of good governance is a sustainable budget.

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58 Ricardo July 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Are you still going on about Obama’s supposed disdain for the UK? Trump falsely accesed British intelligence of spying on his campaign and feeding information back to the Obama Administration. Obama never said or did anything comparable to this slander.

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59 Brett Dunbar July 21, 2017 at 9:28 am

Obama is respected and liked in the UK. Trump is hated and viewed with contempt. We assumed that you couldn’t find a worse president than shrub; you proved us

What is with the Republicans and being malignant fuckwits?

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60 jsmith July 22, 2017 at 12:10 am

There, Brett Dunbar, is the intellectual repartee I’ve come to love at Marginal Revolution.

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61 BC July 20, 2017 at 1:24 am

The best endorsement of our institutions is that Trump is president, yet the world has not fallen apart. There have not actually been many policy outcomes that wouldn’t have happened under a generic Republican president. That’s the definition of Rule of Institution rather than Rule of Man. An ill-advised tweet is not a policy outcome.

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62 Matt Raft July 20, 2017 at 1:34 am

Many countries have elected non-PC presidents, and their countries also function similarly pre-election. See Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, Philippines, etc.

An endorsement shouldn’t rely upon the idea that a revolution or bloodbath must occur before a specific political system is decried.

The keys I look for is whether property rights are respected in cost-effective, transparent ways, and whether the police are honest and competent. Many countries with many different systems meet these two basic tests.

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63 Thomas Taylor July 20, 2017 at 6:35 am

Oh, Turkey…

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64 Borjigid July 20, 2017 at 8:48 am

I think your broader point holds up, but in the case of the Philippines the body count from Duterte’s election has reached bloodbath proportions.

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65 The Other Jim July 20, 2017 at 8:29 am

>The best endorsement of our institutions is that Trump is president, yet the world has not fallen apart.

Quite agreed. But those of us old enough to remember 2008-2016 already knew the country could survive a President who is a useless, unqualified narcissist.

All Trump has done is add “rude” and “Republican” to the list. Which has caused the US media to commit suicide, and academics to look pathetic, but the government institutions still carry on as ever.

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66 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 11:30 am

Yeah, I remember when Obama couldn’t even appoint and manage his own Attorney General. The situation is completely symmetrical.

For those 2 days behind in the news:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/20/politics/jeff-sessions-attorney-general/index.html

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67 msgkings July 20, 2017 at 1:29 pm

Here’s an intriguing bit of “what if” from Nate Silver, about Hillary winning instead of losing the election. Spoiler alert: not much is different

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/if-clinton-had-won/

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68 TMC July 20, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Mostly, yes, but I like the smaller things happening. The article I linked to above about Trump killing 16 regulations for every one passed. And the firing of 500 VA employees who would have otherwise got moved instead of disciplined.

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69 The Other Jim July 20, 2017 at 6:00 pm

That wasn’t bad.

I’m not at all convinced the stock market would be at all-time highs, and certainly illegal border crossings would be surging instead of plunging. And we’d still be in a dopey and meaningless climate “agreement.”

But yes, things would not be drastically different. Not for awhile, at least.

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70 Li Zhi July 20, 2017 at 1:24 am

TC as Pollyanna.Talk about complacency…

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71 Chip July 20, 2017 at 1:47 am

The courts are a real cause for concern. Heavily politicized appointments are producing very political decisions. The DC circuit just made an utterly nonsensical decision on the EPA. The less said about the 9th the better.

Some years ago the ABA said 8 out of every 10 decisions from the 9th court were overturned by the Supreme Court. Might be worse today.

https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/intelprop/magazine/LandslideJan2010_Hofer.authcheckdam.pdf

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72 Free the TrumpRolled! July 22, 2017 at 10:25 am

8 out of every 10 decisions from the 9th court were overturned by the Supreme Court
because the 5-4 has been so far right of center.

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73 Guy Makiavelli July 20, 2017 at 2:26 am

The media as investigators have been excellent

You must be being Straussian here.

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74 The Other Jim July 20, 2017 at 8:05 am

Oh, come on. When blatantly partisan “intelligence officers” leak classified info to the press for political reasons…. every day…. that is some kickass investigating going on by the media, right there.

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75 prior_test3 July 20, 2017 at 8:47 am

‘When blatantly partisan “intelligence officers” leak classified info to the press for political reasons’

Yep, after all, who cares about the Russians these days? They are teddy bears, unlike what the Republicans used to think about a nation that retook territory that it no longer possesed, in violation of what it had promised not to do.

Remember – Eastasia bad, Eurasia good. Until it is time to switch that around, of course.

It is so amusing to see the Republicans cozy up to a nation currently led by a former KGB agent. Wasn’t that supposed to be a specialty of the Democrats, and thus a reason not to vote for them?

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76 Aylok July 20, 2017 at 2:30 am

I love Tyler’s more Straussian posts. This one was almost as good as this old favourite: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/09/good-profit-by-charles-g-koch.html

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77 Thiago Ribeiro July 20, 2017 at 4:46 am

So that is what is left: not being a train wreck. That is what the” shot heard round the world” was for…

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78 middyfeek July 20, 2017 at 10:42 am

The Shot Heard Round The World was done in 1951 by Bobby Thomson (and you have no idea what I’m talking about).

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79 Thiago Ribeiro July 20, 2017 at 12:08 pm

I am talking about freedom, not about your pathetic baseball.

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80 Borjigid July 20, 2017 at 5:25 pm

Would an upstanding Brazilian like André Rienzo play a pathetic sport? I don’t think so. Yet he plays baseball; it must not be pathetic.

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81 dearieme July 20, 2017 at 5:33 am

Why no mention of how corrupt Congress is? I have no idea of the extent to which SCOTUS has been financially corrupt over the years but it has obviously been morally corrupt.

I suppose it’s possible that some people voted for the absurd Trump because they didn’t want a corrupt White House too. Hillary would have been one racketeer too many for them to stomach.

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82 carlospln July 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm

+ 1

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83 chuck martel July 20, 2017 at 6:41 am

Institutions are the residue of personalities and continue to exist at their discretion.

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84 Tanturn July 20, 2017 at 8:03 am

“The media as investigators have been excellent, though as summarizers of what is really going on I see their performance as much weaker, due to selective reporting.”

Lol.

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85 prior_test3 July 20, 2017 at 8:05 am

Apparently, the media needs big data crowdsourcing to keep summarizing Trump – ‘We decided to compile this list because the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements means that we cannot possibly keep up. This interactive database helps readers quickly search claims after they hear it, because there’s a good chance he said it before. But it has also shed light on how repetitive Trump’s claims are. Many politicians will drop a false claim after it has been deemed false. But Trump just repeats the same claim over and over.’ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/07/20/president-trumps-first-six-months-the-fact-check-tally/

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86 Barkley Rosser July 20, 2017 at 8:42 am

Given that one area where we have seen the most “regulatory reform” has been in the EPA, does this mean, Tyler, that you either think that there is no global warming or that even if there is the costs of trying to do anything about it far exceed the minimal likely benefits of doing s0? Or is just any rollback of any regulation a good thing, period?

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87 TMC July 20, 2017 at 2:05 pm

“Or is just any rollback of any regulation a good thing, period?”

Not any regulation, but at random, you have about a 90% chance of it being good.

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88 A Definite Beta Guy July 20, 2017 at 9:02 am

The media is not investigating. It is a vehicle for politically-motivated leaks, IE, it’s a political weapon.

Trump’s a complete buffoon, but if he takes the press down with him, it’ll be a glorious day for America. A new press will rise in its place, hopefully a bit more informative.

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89 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 10:14 am

A good press is out there. You can choose it now. Go read the Christian Science Monitor.

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90 A Definite Beta Guy July 20, 2017 at 2:17 pm

I’ll give that a shot. The best I’ve seen so far is the NY Times, which is still pretty iffy.

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91 Brian Donohue July 20, 2017 at 9:37 am

Why did the deficit increase from 2.43% of GDP in 2015 to 3.16% of GDP in 2016? Aren’t the wars dying down? Aren’t we 7 years into a recovery? Doesn’t the GOP control Congress?

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYFSGDA188S

I know you are a leading political analyst now, but I miss the days when economists used to talk about such things.

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92 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 10:11 am

Looking at the other series, revenue flat, spending up. Why?

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93 wd40 July 20, 2017 at 9:59 am

The 13th-15th amendments were made after the civil war and during reconstruction where the North had imposed its will on the South. Without the Civil War and reconstruction, these amendments would not have been passed.

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94 Free the TrumpRolled! July 22, 2017 at 10:35 am

Without the Civil War and reconstruction, these amendments would not have been passed.

or come along much later, or been built gradually by statutes and court decisions. “What if the federal government prohibited slavery in 1932?”

Scenarios could similarly be pondered about the Constitution existing only after winning the war of independence.

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95 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 10:04 am

I disagree on bits of detail, but more on the arc of the piece.

A Senate barely managing not to shoot its own feet is all that good. You have to start that as a pretty big pessimist to see it so. An optimist would want them to hit the target. Better discussions would be about hitting the target on health care, tax reform, cyber security, etc.

We remain in a sad place where think tanks can consider those things, and publish papers for other think tanks to read, but is anyone in government?

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96 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 10:19 am

A Senate barely managing not to shoot its own feet is NOT all that good.

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97 Borjigid July 20, 2017 at 10:36 am

This Senate’s target is their own constituents. Barely managing to not shoot its own feet is a better outcome than hitting the target.

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98 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 10:53 am

There has been the traditional contradiction that voters hate congress, but love their guy.

BTW, in terms of news you can trust, I think this is a bit raw and untrustworthy, but my guy:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/top-rohrabacher-aide-fired-after-russia-revelations/534288/

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99 charlie July 20, 2017 at 11:59 am

I look forward to a similar analysis of Germany in 1934.

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100 Free the TrumpRolled! July 22, 2017 at 10:39 am

such analysis written in 1934, accompanied by diverse reaction of Germany’s residents in 1934.

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101 Hopaulius July 20, 2017 at 12:33 pm

“The CBO remains independent and effective”
“This type of long-term analysis and language is commonplace in US national politics, but it achieves no useful outcome. It confuses far more than it clarifies. It does not provide accurate estimates of long-term results. It does not improve the average voter’s understanding of policy effects. And it gives politicians a means to claim they are being fiscally responsible without actually exercising any prudence whatsoever.” https://fee.org/articles/the-cbos-budget-projections-are-worse-than-useless/?utm_source=FEE+Email+Subscriber+List&utm_campaign=bd2916f6f1-MC_FEE_DAILY_2017_07_19&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_84cc8d089b-bd2916f6f1-108353125

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102 Sean July 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Isn’t Bicamerlism actually a problem with getting a good health care bill passed?

ObamaCare was passed only because the greatest financial crisis since the great depression happened and they have a 60+ majority in the Senate.

Its simply too difficult for our government to experiment with legislation. Its impossible for one party to get the Presidency, House, and 60+ in the Senate at any period. This means that legislation once passed can’t be changed. We may have failed to pass “bad health care” bills, but the problem is a good health care bill can’t be passed because it needs 60 votes in the senate. What we are left with is a slim GOP majority in the senate that can’t pass anything because 2-3 of their members won’t cut insurance to anyone and a their atleast that many who won’t pass anything that doesn’t remove all the obamacare taxes.

Despite the fact every election since 2009 has elected candidates with a mandate to repeal obamacare on net. But it can’t be changed since its impossible for any side to gain super majority in senate, majority in house, and potus at the same time.

Maybe it would be better if we could pass legislation more easily. When bad legislation is passed then the other side would easily gain enough seats to repeal and replace. The variability of policy would increase, but the effectiveness over time would increase.

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103 TMC July 20, 2017 at 2:11 pm

“4. The media as investigators have been excellent”

I need to take exception to this. Being 0/7 on Trump scandals is embarrassing. If they thought about what they were doing they wouldn’t be committing suicide like this. CNN has Trump stories being vetted by lawyers now so they don’t get sued out of existence. It’s been one big pathetic hissy fit from these guys.

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104 TMC July 20, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Or maybe Tyler is grading on a curve. They are finally waking up after 8 years of sleep, so any activity is good.

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105 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm

Question one: did the Russian government attempt to hack voting machines in the 2016 presidential election?

(You may not like where this goes with an honest summary.)

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106 TMC July 21, 2017 at 9:49 am

Voting machines? No evidence of this at all.
They did hack DNC and RNC servers.

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107 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 21, 2017 at 12:55 pm
108 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 21, 2017 at 4:29 pm

“Seriously?” was the wrong answer. The joke for the day is ..

Pardon?

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109 Rob July 20, 2017 at 4:59 pm

I see the media as part of the problem. Can anyone name a good effective “investigation” of a Democrat problem in recent years? Yes, they’ve been fine at investigating the heck out of R’s, but if you’re doing it one-sided, you’re harm instead of good.

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110 reed e hundt July 20, 2017 at 5:42 pm

hello, what about the administrative state? epa? etc?

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111 yoostus` July 20, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Illinois is one state might not want to touch with a ten foot pole.

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112 Shaun Marsh July 20, 2017 at 9:09 pm

The thought of travel ban was stupid right from the go and makes little sense. I believe we have to be very clear with our thoughts and not waste time on such ideas. It has been seen that how much it hampered the market, but it can be seriously beneficial if we manage things correctly. I play safe side which is easier with broker like OctaFX who puts clients on top of the list as far giving facilities is concern especially with the mighty deposit bonus up to 50% that’s usable.

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113 Evans_KY July 20, 2017 at 11:11 pm

If we are examining our public policy institutions in reference to the election of Trump, I resist the notion that he has precipitated the problems that currently exist. Our founders were prescient in their design but even they could not account for an apathetic and schizophrenic electorate.

1.The failures of the CBO rest squarely on the shoulders of a disingenuous Congress that cannot pass substantive legislation. The use of temporary tax expenditures to manipulate the budget scoring process: front loading, back loading, rent extraction, and general obfuscation.

2.The judicial branch remains fairly robust and independent. However, it too is ailing from a dysfunctional legislative branch and an increasingly authoritarian executive branch. Speedy trials that last years, court backlogs, and mandatory minimums that fill our prisons. Not to mention civil asset forfeitures that bypass the judiciary entirely.

3.The legislative branch is the source of our dysfunction. There is no debate of serious issues (privacy, immigration, military actions), instead relying on dog whistles and straw men to push a partisan agenda.

4. As a result, think tanks have become unelected legislators. They write the bills, construct graphs/charts and then lobby our representatives with promises of grandeur. Talking points are provided free of charge. Some are well intentioned, independent scholars but others are charlatans for hire.

5. The media merely reflects the “mental fog” of the American public. Most news is consumed through television and Facebook feeds which are the worst mediums for factual information.

6. The Deep State is paralyzed. No one knows the boundaries because the legislative and executive cannot decide on a coherent agenda. So upper management and appointees hope to avoid notice while the workforce toils along with minutiae.

Our government is not a train wreck. As a civil servant I can attest to our perseverance in the face of budget cuts and political chicanery. But too often we are criticized for inefficiency and waste. I posit that much of that blame lies with the voter. The American people have been asleep at the wheel of democracy. It is time to wake and make America truly great.

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114 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ July 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm

I largely agree, though as I say, I see think tanks largely taking to themselves. The whole rigmarole on radical tax plan innovation, etc.

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115 Free the TrumpRolled! July 22, 2017 at 10:47 am

think tanks largely taking to themselves
except when lobbyists use “thinktanks’ work” in massive PR campaigns, or when the “thinktank” is a PR organization (heritage)

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116 Meets July 21, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Devos is also an excellent appointment, as is Goodfried.

What strikes me about a post like this is we don’t often see something like this from “people of the left” except for maybe Vox.

Anyone of a progressive persuasion writing this would immediately get bogged down on questions of whether they are a sexist, mysoginist, a dirt bag, a neoliberal, or something else, and they would receive some sick burns on Twitter.

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117 jorod July 22, 2017 at 9:58 pm

Congress does not control the judiciary. Liberals do. Many decisions have been horrendous. They have made it impossible to know the law. The regulators are out of control. Bureaucrats rule. People in DC are totally are out of touch with reality.

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