Douthat and Dalio on the Trump administration

Here are Ross Douthat’s reading suggestions for the Trump years (NYT), I ordered what I haven’t already read.  And here is Ray Dalio on the Trump administration, better than most of what you will read on the topic.  Here is a short excerpt:

The question is whether this administration will be a) aggressive and thoughtful or b) aggressive and reckless. The interactions between Trump, his heavy-weight advisors, and them with each other will likely determine the answer to this question. For example, on the foreign policy front, what Trump, Flynn, Tillerson, and Mattis (and others) are individually and collectively like will probably determine how much the new administration’s policies will be a) aggressive and thoughtful versus b) aggressive and reckless. We are pretty sure that it won’t take long to find out.

The piece also offers data on Trump’s appointees, hard to excerpt but worth going through.

You don’t have to be a supporter (Dalio sees big risks, as I do, and Douthat has been a consistent opponent) to feel that so much of the discourse has become remarkably uninteresting, mostly because of a preponderance of self-righteousness over analysis.  America’s intellectual class is failing us, with these two gentlemen being notable exceptions to that generality.


"... mostly because of a preponderance of self-righteousness over analysis."

And don't forget incessant whining. I don't expect people to immediately be cheerful after an outcome they don't like has occurred. However, it's been over a month, and yet there's a never ending deluge of chicken little head lines that are pure conjecture.

The "Years of Experience" chart is one of the most analytic and useful metrics I've seen since the election. Kudos to Ray Dalio.

Just what I came to post. Look at the ratios. Obama comes in the most loopsided at 5-1. Average is 2-1 gov vs business experience. Obama was the only one with single digits in either column.

On the other hand, GWB brought in lots of experience of all stripes, but that didn't go so well.

Why isn't the Johnson administration included?

Douthat's list omits the Art of the Deal and the Art of the Comeback? C'mon man, you call yourself a pundit?

"it’s been over a month"

He's not president until some time next year. Maybe the chicken littles haven't had a chance to be reassured yet.

Disregarding the most optimistic possible interpretation of every piece of information, can you point to obvious signs of reassurance for an international audience? I think most people are pretty sure that Trump's not going to promote bombardment of Austin or Standing Rock (maaaybe the second? very highly doubt it), but maybe some other folks would be kind of curious ...

" America’s intellectual class is failing us."

In so many ways.

Well, it is their métier.

+1 for the wit, + another 1 for the accent, + a third for being accurate

This is one of those 'whose status will rise/fall' moments when a social variant of economic analysis is probably the most productive.
Most of the 'whining' and 'self-righteousness' is actually warfare. It should be addressed and analyzed as such. That does
pull the teeth of some of the rhetoric.

This. And expect a response from Trump that elicits whining and self righteous responses. He is remarkably capable of freezing in place his opponents by getting them to act stupidly.

Remember where he comes from. I deal with people like him all the time. They do things, take risks and the smart ones have a very clear, extremely clear idea what provides value to their customers.

He is playing a game where he raises expectations then elicits an over the top end of the world reaction from his opponents. Krugman says it is the end of the world. An observer in a year looks at the two and compares them to reality. Guess who looks like the blithering idiot?

There has been some information that the Left has told everyone over the last couple years. They are indeed fragile flowers that need safe spaces, and that insults hurt them deeply. They cannot abide differing opinions, if we lived in a different time they would be rendering their garments and running away screaming covering their ears.

We will see lots of that, all the time, all the while Trump goes about implementing his policy.

Which creates a danger because a healthy government needs a viable opposition.

The Republican Congress is the opposition now, for better or for worse. They've been reasonably effective on China and Russia, but we'll have to see how they do on domestic policy.

Agreed it will be helpful when the Democrats can stop raging and think again, which I'm sure will eventually occur. You can see signs of it in Cowen's writing, though he's not quite there yet.

Well, the Republicans were the opposition 8 years ago to the same kinds of economic policies that were less extreme than Trump is advocating. Trump ran as central planner to the max, while Obama merely advocated things of the scale of Lincoln and Eisenhower. That plus the reforms proposed by Bob Dole in 1996 and the Mitt Romney led as governor. On the latter, Trump has made promises far more extreme which is more health care and much lower cost.

Republicans can't possibly support Trump. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are more likely to make a deal if allowed to negotiate than McConnell is with Trump. McConnell will deal with Pence.

Why stop whining and think again?

Four years ago establishment conservatives did some thinking and decided Republicans should do more to attract Latinos.

Meanwhile Trump raged against the electoral college and built a movement based on conspiracy theories about Obama's birth certificate.

Which was more effective?

The Ds won the popular vote by nearly two million. If they can flip a few states their way next election they'll win the electoral college too.

The lesson from Trump is that the best way to win is to relentlessly, relentlessly, RELENTLESSLY undermine his legitimacy.

Like the Republicans did with Hillary, they should accuse him of treason at every turn and promise to appoint a special prosecutor.

'by nearly two million'

Nearly three million, actually - 'As the web site pointed out, as of 19 December 2016 CNN had Hillary Clinton winning a popular vote margin over Donald Trump with totals of 65,788,583 to 62,955,363 respectively, a margin of approximately 2.8 million votes (although Trump won the presidency by securing 306 electoral college votes, 36 more than he needed to claim victory).'

Wisconsin anyone?

Now a red state, Republican governor and the Democrats profoundly untrustworthy with power.

We will see. I don't' think it will work.

Trump overturned the Republican party on one issue; Immigration. The republican electorate didn't and doesn't trust the Republicans on the issue and gave Trump a head start. Is there a similar one for the Democrats?

"The lesson from Trump is that the best way to win is to relentlessly, relentlessly, RELENTLESSLY undermine his legitimacy."

Haven't we just had a year and a half of relentlessly undermining Trump's legitimacy? It doesn't seem like a very good lesson to take from recent experience is "do the same thing."

“do the same thing.”

Maybe they should call people racists for saying anything about immigration?

"Haven’t we just had a year and a half of relentlessly undermining Trump’s legitimacy?"

No. No one of any stature has tried to claim he was born outside the US, or that he's had people murdered (Breitbart on Hillary), or that his father had something to do with JFK's assassination.

They have, however, asked him to follow through on his promise to Hugh Hewitt that he should release his tax returns.

But Trump (and Joseph Goebbels) showed us the way. The secret is to lie and lie and lie again, and not just little lies. Lots of big lies. Big.

"No. No one of any stature has tried to claim he was born outside the US, or that he’s had people murdered (Breitbart on Hillary), or that his father had something to do with JFK’s assassination."

You can undermine someone's legitimacy without making accusations of that sort. I'm not sure what you're arguing. I think you just wanted to list why Trump is super duper bad. That's fine, but no need to pretend to make and deeper point in the process.

The best thing for the USA as a whole is to divide California into two states.


How is this different than 8 years ago?

Of the last three presidents, the only one who could consistently get his opponents to act like idiots was Bill Clinton, and he's an amateur compared to Trump.

Bush II didn't do a bad job at that either. More like they chose to do it rather than him inciting it though.

The flip side is that Trump is inheriting a robust economy and a low unemployment rate. That may be enough to see him through the midterms, but a recession or correction is fairly likely before 2020. So, even if he consistently exceeds expectations in terms of governance, he could be in trouble for reelection. If that's the case, the right move for Democrats is to predict doom at every step, in the hope that they'll be proven right.

Nah, all that is good in America is about to be destroyed - 100% certainty. Read Krugman for proof.

But are the markets getting this right? I suspect not: fiscal policy probably won’t be expansionary as expected (or maybe at all), and Trump’s economic team is looking like a gathering of goldbugs, who will if anything push for deflation.

Look at the guy! Completely denying the possibility that things might turn out differently from what he expects, no mention of probability.. What a hack!

I recall my reaction after the attack on 9/11, that we were fortunate to have so many well-qualified and experienced adults in the Bush administration. How did that turn out? My reaction after the election of Trump was and continues to be that he is a man of extreme self-confidence but little or no reflection, that he doesn't know much about government policies, doesn't know what he doesn't know, and doesn't care to learn what he doesn't know. I was wrong about the Bush administration and I could be wrong about Trump. But I don't think so. As for Trump's appointees, Tillerson is likely to move America much closer to Russia. Is that good? I don't think so. Friedman is likely to focus Sunni and Shiite Muslim attention on their common enemy, Israel, rather than each other (Friedman supports the west bank settlements and opposes to two-state solution). Is that good? It might reduce the sectarian violence in Syria and Iraq, but at a very high cost to our friends and ally in Israel.

2008 Iraq was looking pretty good. And Russia wasn't so brazen either. Obama's foreign policy will haunt us for years.

2008 Iraq was not "looking pretty good." It was just less of a disaster than it had been the previous five years.

The surge temporarily slowed a lot of the violence, but it never had a prayer of achieving its actual goal of building a stable political compromise. The Iraqi government just used the surge as a chance to consolidate power and settle scores. Once the opposition realized what was going on, they went back to violence.

It's still fundamentally battle of Sunni vs Shia, and more American troops won't change that.

Yes, but isn't that a net progress that the Shia population, which is the majority in Iraq, now rules the country, sharing some power with Kurds?

You are a fucking idiot

When a war has fewer casualties than Chicago, it's looking pretty good.

Any academics in the Cabinet?

How do you apply?

There are some pretty high up military people. I think you have to do OK in some courses to get there. Not just the college practical kind of stuff ... maybe something a little academic from time to time to be in the top level of generals.

I would have expected Coming Apart to easily make a Trump era reading list but I admittedly haven't read it. Maybe it's not so good, or perhaps the NYT refused to recommend it because Charles Murray.

Some other suggestions:
The Clouds
the last section of Albion's Seed followed by looking at the following maps:
maybe Bowling Alone?
Democracy for Realists
Membership of the 114th Congress: A Profile

I just heard a CSPAN broadcast of a talk Chaz Murray gave at AEI recently (yeah, I like CSPAN sometimes; up yours!). He's a really sharp dude. I have a hard time imagining he'd write bad books. Maybe they're too dry or technical for the general reader, though (I have read none of his books).

"I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's uninteresting."

The "intellectual class" is failing us because, among other things, they are obsessed with policy ends rather than the systematic means by which we attempt to resolve disputes between rival factions and interests to arrive at policies. Too many have come to believe in the inevitability of their desired policy ends, so they have little reason to respect the means. It leads to shrillness and intellectual inconsistency, and is a greater danger to the Republic than the transient policy-makers who hold the reins of State.

Turkey Vulture,

You nailed it!

I would add, since they believe their vision is destined to become reality they feel no need to respect those that disagree. In effect, they dehumanize the opposition. It is unhealthy.

"respect the means"

The president elect just got his job by promising to put his opponent in jail, and even after winning he claimed Hillary got millions of fraudulent votes.

So yeah, of course, it's the liberals who are underming the republic

The two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

Are you placing Trump in the "intellectual class"?

I think throughout history partisans on both sides have denounced the very legitimacy of their opponent's victory. If it has gotten worse recently, which I believe it may have, I think it has been able to do so because even the high-level "intellectual" discourse is policy rather than system-driven, such that the intellectuals have joined in with the partisans.

I'm not as familiar with right-wing as left-wing commentators and discourse, but I do think that there are a decent number on the left who have a utopian faith in the ultimate triumph of their policy causes and a consequent lack of respect for processes which seem to hold back that triumph. To the extent the same thinking exists on the right, I would expect it to come primarily from religious fundamentalists. Between the two, I would expect to be able to get the liberal utopians to see the error and danger in that aspect of their worldview moreso than the religious fundamentalists.

I'm just pointing out that it's nonsense to say intellectuals don't respect political means, as if they're somehow unique.

One may as well say "Blondes don't respect means. True, brunettes and redheads don't either but I'm talking about blondes."

So you're just saying "Well everyone's the same and always has been"? I don't think so.

Intellectuals can have different levels of respect for the means of resolving disputes, and different ideological commitments to those means. I believe that the intellectual class has, on average, come to have less respect for those means, and to have less of an ideological commitment to preserving or enhancing those means. They are more committed to achieving particular policy ends, means be damned.

The liberals that Douthat talks about aren't actually reading those books by Rorty etc.

They just leave the books out on the coffee table.

You know in the days of William F Buckley and maybe later George Will I suppose a criticism of liberals by conservatives that they were the real intellectuals who really read the important books had a bit of bite. As we get closer to President Trump, I think this is starting to look more and more dated.

Today's liberals don't need to read books because for them everything that happened in the past is old-fashioned and primitive (cf. Ezra Klein: "constitution is more than 100 years old" etc.). Conservatives by definition believe that there is value in the past. And in case you have forgotten Trump is not a conservative.

Obama referring to policies and actions of past Republican presidents in making policy proposals makes him a conservative tied to the past?

" Conservatives by definition believe that there is value in the past."

" And in case you have forgotten Trump is not a conservative."

Conservatives over estimate their staying power. If Trump had lost, I think conservatives would have been in a better position as they could argue to the GOP "we tried it like this and we went down, now let's get back to the game plan and do things the right way"....but Trump won and since that's also a victory for the GOP that makes it very tough to make a case for the need for 'real conservatives' anymore....esp. as many people conservatives would otherwise deem as respectable have been spending their time bending their knees to the new king.

> If Trump had lost, I think conservatives would have been in a better position

If Hilary had won, the left would have gone on a four-your oppression spree: appointing people like Mark Tushnet to the Supreme Court to neuter the first amendment (as Hilary openly promised), harrassing people who don't eg. endorse SSM enthusiastically enough and getting them fired etc.

Conservatives are just happy that we dodged the bullet.

Will be interested to see if you think you dodged a bullet, a few years from now.

Will be interested to see if you think you dodged a bullet, a few years from now.

In terms of individual liberties, there is no doubt that Trump has already made things better. The bigger questions are will he be competent esp. in the areas of foreign affairs and managing the economy ....

"In terms of individual liberties, there is no doubt that Trump has already made things better. "

Sounds like rose colored glasses to me. But each to their own opinion.

I think the big risks are our $20 trillion in debt, the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, Russia and China's new billigerence, FED policies, the bureaucratic rules avalanche of the last 8 years, unfettered terrorism, illegal immigration. These and other risks will bite us in the ass regardless of who the president is. The consequences of the last administration's actions or lack of them are inevitable. Now it is simply a matter of watching them play out and which of the many disastrous Obama policies will come home to roost first.

Yea terrorism is 'unfettered'....but at the same time the CIA/NSA is monitoring too much communication and killing people by drones is evil and we shouldn't put any 'boots on the ground' in the Middle East and invading Iraq was a mistake and getting out of Iraq was also a mistake.

Someone has an intelligent and coherent critique of the Obama administration, but don't expect to find that person among Obama critics.

GWTW's critique might be wrong, but it was coherent. You're the one offering incoherent critiques in some kind of straw man.

Coherent? How exactly is illegal immigration a risk on par with "unfettered terrorism?" Or "Fed policies?" Does he explain any of those risks or why they're "big risks?"

If that's a coherent critique, I'd like to see what incoherent is.

"How exactly is illegal immigration a risk on par with “unfettered terrorism"

Which do you think is the bigger risk? GWTW didn't say they were exactly equal, but surely they belong on his list of big risks? They are coherent in any reasonable sense of the word.

And if you don't believe FED policies are a big risk, you're seriously out of touch. You might have a different idea of what those policies should be, but the FED is a spectacular concentration of power with a lot of ability to mess things up.

Maybe you guys don't understand the word "coherent"? It doesn't mean that you have to agree with the argument.

Exactly what 'Fed policies' are a 'big risk'? How are they a risk? Are we saying policies the fed is doing right now is very risky or are we saying the Fed is very important and if they get monetary policy wrong we'd have huge problems?

What exactly is 'unfettered terrorism'? Where is this unfettered terrorism? Honestly today we seem to have only rather limited 'fettered terrorism' split roughly 50-50 between non-Islamic mass shooters and Islamic lone wolf ones. What did we have decades ago? Maybe a bit fewer lone wolf Islamic attacks but we had massive attacks like 9/11 and the OK. city bombing on top of lower levels of terrorist attacks by either random people with grudges (abortion clinic bombers, ecoterrorists, anthrax mailer) or the mentally ill / demented (Unabomber, various school shootings etc.).

So you're saying you don't understand the word "coherent"...

I think someone who says doing something about terrorism is very important but using drone strikes is 'warmongering' but we pulled out of Iraq too soon but we should have never gone into Iraq and the NSA shouldn't be monitoring communications to the extent it does but Apple is un-American for refusing to help the gov't install a back door into every iphone in the either incoherent or has a very intricate program to deal with terrorism already thought out and this plan is very sensitive so even the slightest deviation from it spells disaster.

Boonton, you're the one who made those complaints. You are projecting them on other people.

Though, fwiw, "we never should have gone into Iraq" and "we pulled out of Iraq too soon" strike me as entirely coherent. I don't agree with the combination, but it's a coherent combination I've heard from smart people.

Is it still coherent if you add to that a proclamation that we should also 'bomb the shit' out of ISIS while at the same time not embolden Iran's influence in the Middle East? That we should pull back from drone strikes and 'war mongering' while at the same time stepping it up?

I'm not projecting anything, just looking at the stated positions of the guy who just won the Presidency and many of his supporters. You are correct that it might be possible to imagine a very intricate and nuanced view a very smart person has that does thread the needle carefully to technically fulfill all those seemingly contradictory statements (bomb here, cut off drone bombing there, eliminate NSA spying but force Apple to make backdoors, do this against Iran but not putting troops down, etc. etc.)

But the problem with a very complicated and nuanced policy proposal is that it is unlikely to be obvious, which makes it a very poor tool to criticize Obama. "Obama's so stupid, if only he followed my 75 point plan for world stabilization everything would have been perfect and least I take too much credit let me state all 75 points follow logically and simply from first premises so you can't even claim complexity as an excuse" Yea ok that's one explanation for the regime that won the last election. Another explanation is "I have no idea what I'm talking about but I'm just going to toss every shit argument I ever heard anyone make up against the wall on the assumption something will stick eventually".

Who are we talking about now?

Is your issue that there are people who disagree with Obama and they don't all disagree in the same way?

His problem is this:

"I’m not projecting anything, just looking at the stated positions of the guy who just won the Presidency and many of his supporters."

Trump changes his mind every few minutes, and his supporters follow along with that, believing whatever Trump tells them. That is why they are inconsistent and make no sense in their criticisms.

This presidential election was about who you hated, more than it was about who you liked. Fake news, and Right Wing Media like Fox and Breitbart (which are only 90% fake news and thus are not called fake news), have gotten the votes of Trump supporters and other Republicans, for the GOP, by giving them all a common enemy-- the Dems.

The whole program of giving people a common enemy is that the enemy-- Dems and Obama and Hillary here-- is painted as stupid, evil, and weak. Everything they do or do not do is painted as absolute proof that they are stupid, evil, and weak. It doesn't matter what they do-- or if they do the exact same things as Republicans do, or something much better than that.

Obama could create everlasting world peace and prosperity for everyone, and come up with cures for all diseases. Obama would still get no credit whatsoever from the propagandized tribe that has been persuaded that there is one meaning to their lives: to bash the evil Obama and Hillary and other Dems.

He changed who he was talking about in the middle of the conversation. Boonton and gab were clearly, and incorrectly, calling GWTW incoherent.

Then it was that arguments Boonton had heard somewhere were collectively incoherent. Now it's Trump that's incoherent. That's a moving target you have there.

FWIW, I agree that Trump is really hard to pin down. That is strategically important to him.

"Yea terrorism is ‘unfettered’….but at the same time the CIA/NSA is monitoring too much communication and killing people by drones is evil and we shouldn’t put any ‘boots on the ground’ in the Middle East and invading Iraq was a mistake and getting out of Iraq was also a mistake."

Agree. We wouldn't have a terrorism problem had we minded our own business in foreign policy and restricted Muslim immigration.

"Someone has an intelligent and coherent critique of the Obama administration, but don’t expect to find that person among Obama critics."

Makes sense if you don't think about it.

Yes... our intellectuals, academics and politicians reliably deliver to us wars, terrorism, massive debts, endless rules, and a lousy economy -- we should thus pay very close attention to all their latest chatter & text stains (?)

Ross Douthat’s reading suggestions can be quite safely ignored.

I personally enjoy Ross Douthat's columns. It's refreshing to see a man waterboard an idea until it agrees that Ross's prejudices are irrefutably correct and objectively true.

LOL. Good one there.

Terrorism was unfettered when Obama took office. US soldiers were dying every day from terrorism. But terrorism was US policy in Afghanistan in the 80s, so it didn't start with GW Bush. And Africa has been the place with the most terrorism for decades, but changes in military engagement seems to be influencing more rational African response to terrorism. Still, terrorism in Christian South Sudan is tearing it apart, no Islam involved. Just as Lords Resistance Army terrorism was not Islamic. Nor the Rwandan terrorism Islamic, with millions dead.

Like democracy, fascism, socialism, et al; terrorism is now a word meaning whatever the speaker wishes it to mean or maybe it has no meaning at all. Its user needn't bother with analysis or description, it's merely an indication of approbation, the worst form of cliche.

When you don't have an argument, beg the question.

Good points and accounts of history and of the geography of terrorism-- or whatever you want to call various forms of mass violence, Mulp. The history and geography itself is more important than in what terms one wants to use for it.

I think specific criticisms are useful. But blaming Obama for any problem in the world that did not get fixed, or blaming him for any problem the US got involved in (maybe even sort of started sometimes) but didn't get perfect (maybe pretty far from it) ... I dunno, there's gotta be somewhere between rule/police the world and do nothing. So ... should he have done more?

I think there are only a handful of particularly debatable decisions.

1) Libya. Well ... didn't work out well. Were you calling to stop the jets from flying when he started firing on unarmed civilians with the air force?

2) Whether more guns and money should have been given to rebels in Syria. Or maybe even enforce a no fly zone. On the first (guns and money for rebels), there simply wasn't good enough information to know whether the resources would have gotten into the wrong hands and made things worse. On the second (no fly zone), maybe it could have been done a little earlier, but then by the time Russia moved anti-aircraft devices into the area any such kind of idea was basically shot down.

As for ISIS, the main issue is the legitimacy of whatever comes out of it. I don't think anyone really questions the ability of the West to beat ISIS. But, thing is, if "the West beats ISIS", then there is no legitimacy to whatever follows. But whatever can be legitimate and not ISIS can probably be supported - countered by the lack of legitimacy to anything that receives "too much" Western (generally US, in this case) support.

......".preponderance of self-righteousness over analysis."

As Heisenberg could have said , analysis is difficult in the presence of indeterminacy.

Perhaps this is the most you can actually contribute to a conversation.

I thought that JAMRCKK was a parody account. Granted, that kind of trolling may not contribute much to a conversation.

You should read Douthat's book "Privileged" where Douthat describes his time at Harvard acting as a eunuch ferrying his fellow Harvard men to Smith College where they could have sex with the girls there while Douthat huddles, humiliated in a corner. Douthat's entire life is nothing more than a celebration of cuckoldry and unmanliness.

The question is whether this administration will be a) aggressive and thoughtful or b) aggressive and reckless.

Why only two choices here? How c) methodical but appear aggressive. In reality at the end of 2016, I don't see any huge crisis occurring today and I believe Trump is best slowly making changes. It is not 2009 with TARP passed anymore with unemployment increasing to ~10.0%. Unemployment rate is 4.6% with rising wages in the cities and crime is still near historical lows and below 2008 levels. There are a lot of issues but it is not crisis today. Given his big move so far is the Carrier deal, that seems like Trump pursues Deal-Making President with the image of aggressive but the effects fairly minor. (On the other hand his China reaction is the definition of b) aggressive & reckless)

1) While I am not bothered by his private sector heavy cabinet, I wondering how they work in government where their power is diminished within the organization and if they can contain Trump's worst instincts. CEOs are used to running organizations that are better suited to following their lead and they were measured in profits. How do you measure the SOS Tillerson?
2) The goals of Republican Congress, such as changing Medicare, are not Trump's goals. He literally stated he was not changing Social Security and Medicare. And some goals of Paul Ryan will not be popular with WWC voters.
3) I still don't see how Trump's promise of bringing back good paying factory jobs to turnaround the Rust Belt communities is going happen here. The WWC carried Trump in 2016 and outside of Carrier he is not showing this turning around any time soon. (And let us be honest I still don't see how the Charles Murray/Ross Douthat have any real plan either on the WWC.)

However, I suspect one reason why elites have such a hard time judging Donald Trump is he changed positions so much during the campaign. His supporters state don;t take him literally but seriously. So Donald Trump to voters was a bit like the stories of the elephant and blind men.

Or like an ink blot test. His supporters saw in him whatever they wanted to see. Now we end up with a guy becoming president, and no one knows who he is-- least of all his supporters and himself. He seems to want, and to aggressively pursue, lots of money, power, and glory for himself alone. And he seems to hate dealing with even the slightest criticism of himself. Those seem to be his only consistent traits.

"America’s intellectual class is failing us . . ."

What "class?"
The "scribblers" cited by Schumpeter?
The "wordsmiths" cited by Nozick?

Perhaps a re-read of Barzun's "the House of Intellect" is in order.

Broad capacities for specializations in particular forms of perceptions (of human interactions, e.g.) are not necessarily intellectual certification.

"The question is whether this administration will be a) aggressive and thoughtful or b) aggressive and reckless. The interactions between Trump, his heavy-weight advisors, and them with each other will likely determine the answer to this question. For example, on the foreign policy front, what Trump, Flynn, Tillerson, and Mattis (and others) are individually and collectively like will probably determine how much the new administration’s policies will be a) aggressive and thoughtful versus b) aggressive and reckless. We are pretty sure that it won’t take long to find out."

This is a rather wordy way of saying, "I have no fucking idea what will happen with foreign policy under Trump." Indeed, nobody does.

True, 'dat.

I do think Trump understands the primacy of energy to the world economy and geopolitics more than Obama. Obama seemed to view the surge of energy in the US as a domestic issue. Trump's picks tell me that he sees it as a much bigger thing.

How would the Saudis and Russians change their behavior if Trump approves the 20+ LNG facilities, oil drilling on public lands, emptying of the strategic oil reserve, exploration in the Atlantic etc. The threat of any one of these would keep Eastern Europe safe and reduce the funding to ISIS.

Soh, GW Bush did not understand energy? In fact he understood it worse than Obama by blocking drilling on Federal and private Land? After big cheap Federal oil leasing in the 90s due to looming shortages, Bush-Cheney made sure US oil production fell the 8 years they control Federal energy policy. They were advocating LNG importing to meet that shortage of natural gas.

On the other hand, LNG import projects have been reversed to exporting projects because incompetent Obama failed to prevent any explosion in production. And then Obama's failed policies doubled US oil production. After all, Obama engaged in sanctions that cut global oil supply failing to recognize cheap oil is critical to foriegn and domestic policy.

Seriously. Trump knows 1% at best what Obama knows about energy production and how to increase it with the market paying for it.

In the 60s, Milton Friedman railed against the massive tax credits for oil production in the US enabled by the high income tax rates. He argued the IRS paid for 80% of drill baby drill that was boosting US oil production at costs higher than the market price. Today, tax rate cuts has switched paying workers with lots of taxes not paid to the IRS to the IRS paying your taxes for paying labor in select areas just like in the 60s.

Bush understood it but horizontal drilling plus fracking had just barely started when he left office. He didn't have the surge in energy production that Obama had. In fact, I think there is an argument to be made that Bush/Cheney played a big part in supporting fracking by reducing EPA oversight over the practice.

Obama seemed to view the surge of energy in the US as a domestic issue. Trump’s picks tell me that he sees it as a much bigger thing.

Then why did Obama sign the Iran nuclear deal? Didn't increasing Iran access to global oil markets do a lot to control Saudia Arabia's control on OPEC. I bet if Trump breaks the nuclear deal, oil prices go up to $60 - $70 barrel in a couple months.

I don't know why Obama signed the Iran deal. Saudi Arabia's Opec was constrained by fracking plus horizontal drilling in the US, not by Iran. If Trump breaks the deal and prices go up to $60-$70 then the US oil production will surge and drop the price down to $30-$40.

I am not sure you understand how important fracking plus horizontal drilling in the US is. Energy producers are saying that they could get US production to 20 million barrels a day.

The big concern for an unusually energy-informed administration like Trump's has got to be avoiding the boom bust cycle that could come with the US taking over the Saudi role as marginal producer. That's a tricky problem to solve.

Significant counter-cyclical tax on energy products that increases as prices rise and drops as prices drop? Very difficult to reliably commit to changing the future tax rate, of course, but it seems like there would be a revenue-neutral way to implement such a scheme while also bringing some moderate environmentalists on board. Nothing less heavy-handed or more market-oriented comes to mind.

I don't know of a great way to do this, but an all-at-once de-regulatory free-for-all might cause problems in five years.

The precise interaction of the proposed corporate tax reforms with the various players in energy is also something to watch out for.

I read the article and it appears we need the price to increase to $70 - $80 to get increase US production which long term drop in production happens at $40. (My guess there is significant lagging reaction by US producers because there is a significant upfront cost and risk to new oil drilling. So at drilling is covering marginal cost at $40/barrel but not the average cost at $50 - $60 barrel.)

Again, when the Iran nuclear deal was signed oil which was reaching $50/barrel dropped to close to $40 barrel last summer. In reality, the deal was probably more psychological in nature versus supply/demand here. In reality looking at the article and chart the increase of production was Iraq seems to have the most impact. Maybe Jr. did know the oil markets with the Iraq invasion but it took 13 years to see the benefits!

US production doesn't have uniform costs. It depends a lot on which specific operation you're looking at.

But, if you stand far away and kind of squint, you wouldn't be far off if you said US production will rise smoothly between $40 and $80 per barrel, and that it would be pretty close to flat out at the high end price.

Energy is a declining share of production costs. This trend has held true and will continue to hold true for a very long time.

In the meantime, if you can find a way to reduce your energy share of production costs, you might save/earn a lot of money. And who doesn't like money?

The vast majority of our intellectual class has no special insight into questions of public policy and some of them are wont to make fools of themselves when they open their mouths. Generally, these people are 'failing us' when they say too much, not when they say too little. They're also failing their clientele when they construct and maintain humbug disciplines (faculties in teacher-training, social work, and library administration, I'm looking at you) or trash once-authentic disciplines (English literature and American history faculties, you did this).


I hope they understand we just told them to STFU.

Sounds like you love to trash academics, Art Deco. They have their flaws, but you are going to extremes here.

Art must have been heartbroken when he found out Allan Bloom was gay.

Art Deco is/was an academic (apologies if this is incorrect). What he always is, consistently throughout his commenting career at MR, is distrustful of social engineering academics who preach nonsense that flies in the face of history. He's clearly one of the "tradition is the collective wisdom of our ancestors" conservatives.

I disagree with him regularly, but he's consistent and makes well documented points. Let's marginally improve this blog by making substantive comments instead of projecting.


But consider how you would critique yourself if on the front page of whatever outlet you read.

Maybe they get a little scrutiny and more of a hard time than they deserve.

" A pro-business US with its rule of law ... offers a uniquely attractive environment for those who make money and/or have money." Maybe, but many foreigners see the US courts and politicians repeatedly ripping off foreign firms. If you had courts that were more honest, impartial, and competent it would do you a power of good.

From Dalio's piece:

"This new administration hates weak, unproductive, socialist people and policies, and it admires strong, can-do, profit makers."

Does this jive with protectionist tariffs or state level handouts to save jobs like the Carrier deal in any way, shape, or form? Is the white working class going to be grandfathered into the productive can do profit making clique despite all recent economic evidence?

No, the white working class is still screwed, who thinks otherwise? I suppose they themselves might think electing Trump was going to help them, but that is obviously false. Trump might be good for the economy in many ways, but those manufacturing jobs are not coming back.

Oil and gas are coming back. That oughta help...

This new administration hates weak, unproductive, socialist people and policies, and it admires strong, can-do, profit makers.

Frankly, the implications of this quote are quite unappealing. "Strong profit-makers?" Gee. Is business success the only measure of strength? Is all profit-making to be admired, regardless of method? Are "weak, unproductive" people really to be hated? Just throw them away. Is that it.

Think harder, Dalio, and read something other than Ayn Rand. Then it might make sense for Tyler to call you an intellectual.

I confess that I too ran into a bit of cognitive dissidence reading the Ray Dalio article.

As I understood Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand would disapprove of government officials interfering in the internal business decisions of a company. So are we in some weird mirror image of that world?

America’s intellectual class is failing us, ..

Well, conservative and libertarian intellectuals certainly are. Their rapid conversion to Trumpism is disgraceful.

Sometimes what sounds like self-righteousness is valid criticism.

"Sometimes what sounds like self-righteousness is valid criticism."

True. We basically just had a coup where Super Hitler took power. People need to understand that.

Don't we love hyperbole. Actually we had an election where a very inferior candidate won. No coup, no Super Hitler.

"Sometimes what sounds like self-righteousness is valid criticism."

For sure.

One positive thing about a Trump administration-- I know, I am really stretching far, to find something-- is that we can become more realistic about what most human beings are actually like. People whom we thought had principles, will suck up to power, and disabuse us of our fantasies about them.

Most people are fairly passive, especially in relation to very aggressive or powerful people. And, despite the human habit of talking as a way of virtue signaling, virtue and principles are not common among humans-- at least not when we are under a lot of stress. And people having to be terrified that the president will make a crazy tweet in the middle of the night, about them or their company or organization, or about some country's leader who might respond with a trade war or a military war, is an increased level of stress over the recent past.

If the past 16 years is any guide, we'll largely be disappointed. Republicans who favored small government and opposed nation-building under Clinton mostly supported W. Democrats who favored civil liberties and a less aggressive foreign policy mostly supported Obama. Maybe more people will turn out to have principles this time, but I doubt it.

+1, with a sad face emoji

Aggressive and thoughtful? LOL. why is that an option? Thoughtful in any way is totally unlikely. Trump and his cabinet members seem totally incapable of reflection.

A "thoughtful" policy can also turn out to be "reckless" in the light of previously unknown information.

You will not call Obama's attitude toward the middle east as anything other than thoughtful but it has turned out reckless.

All these articles are full of words saying nothing. It is really pointless.

Compared to GW Bush, Obama's attitude was not reckless. We will find out what Obama's attitude is, compared to Trump, soon.

There is also the possibility that many have pointed out: that the Deep State does not work for the president-- that the president works for them. In that case, it may have been the Deep State that turned out reckless. So it may be that Obama held them back to the full extent of his powers, unlike GW Bush who gave them free reign and a blank check, because his family was actually part of the Deep State and so he was not as separate from the Deep State, as a president would normally be.

The Deep State is the military/security/industrial/financial complex. See article and books on the subject below.

At Bill Moyers web site, an article and video
The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight
February 21, 2014

The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow GovernmentSep 13, 2016
by Mike Lofgren

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy (War and Peace Library)Oct 30, 2014
by Peter Dale Scott

There, of course, is sometimes a president, who thinks that the Deep State works for him, not vice versa. If you do not remember your history about this, look up John F. Kennedy and see how that turned out for him.


We have a full on war happening - this is most certainly reckless, regardless of Deep State or whatever.

Political commentary is a complete waste of time.

That just looks like a conspiracy theory.

"Deep state in the United States
Writers, journalists, political scientists and political activists in the United States have for decades expressed concerns about the existence of a deep state or state within a state, which they suspect secretly controls public policy, regardless of which political party controls the country's democratic institutions"

"That just looks like a conspiracy theory."

Why not just say "I disagree, even though I refuse to read anything on the subject except for the brief and superficial wikipedia article on the subject."

I provided 3 excellent references on the subject. Glad to see that did not interfere with your desire to just bash an idea that you know almost nothing about as "a conspiracy theory." (Sarcasm)

You didn't provide anything! The references were from the poster named Post-Truth Politics. Not cool.

Okay so Post-Truth Politics provided references. The point is, the references all there, for anyone who is not lazy, to read.

I just think that other poster might get annoyed with you co-opting their efforts. Next you'll be pretending the work of The Free Market Is Not God as your own too.

More and More Crony Capitalism
from a Politico article today

Trump’s ex-campaign manager starts lobbying firm
Corey Lewandowski is launching the firm with Barry Bennett amid a gold rush for Trump associates.
12/21/16 11:53 AM EST

“In an interview, Lewandowski said his firm didn't conflict with Trump's message, suggesting that "drain the swamp" referred to bureaucracy, not people profiting on government contacts. (In fact, all five points of Trump's plan to "drain the swamp" involved lobbying, and none involved bureaucracy.)”

Also, on Talking Points Memo today
Billionaire Carl Icahn To Advise Trump On (Crony Capitalist, of course) Regulatory Reform

And now more authoritarian dictatorship sounding stuff here:

Newt Gingrich was on @NPR this morning, suggesting that President Trump could issue unlawful orders to military/intel, then pardon.

mskgkings, Good luck keeping track of who said what into the days of eternity, so that you can consistently annoy or bash or insult people who have disagreed with you, on some occasion. Better you than me, keeping track of all that, so as to keep score in your bashing contest, while other people are attempting to have a discussion here.

The Internet is the only place where SOMETIMES SOME PEOPLE have a discussion about a topic, rather than being obsessed with the race, gender, political orientation etc. of the person who said it-- or whether they disagreed with something you said on the previous thread.

But some other people can not stand that to happen anywhere, not even on the Internet.

You're so cute when you confuse yourself.

"I just think that other poster might get annoyed with you co-opting their efforts. Next you’ll be pretending the work of The Free Market Is Not God as your own too."

Yeah, Jill is engaging in some major sock puppeting.

Yes, Jerk, JWatts, you are one of those people who can't stand for anyone to have a discussion, even on the Internet, without making it about someone's race, gender, political orientation etc.– or whether they disagreed with something you said on the previous thread.

It's good that some other commenters manage to discuss ideas, rather than showing a compulsion to keep pointing back to irrelevant characteristics of the person who said them, as you apparently feel compelled to.

It's too bad you are so limited, compared to other commenters here. Don't give up hope. Maybe one day you will learn about how to discuss ideas too and then you can come up to speed with other people here.

"Good luck keeping track of who said what into the days of eternity"

Eternity, 77 minutes, same thing

But others are incapable of doing so.

This is totally not Jill posting this and anyone who thinks so is not engaging in serious discussion!

Reposting the same slogans dozens of times under different names isn't quite the same as discussing ideas.

Dalio's piece was interesting but lacked a key piece of data and that is the performance of the equities index (pick anyone you want) and compare the performance under Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama. Under which party would you want to hold equities? I remember how optimistic some of my friends were back in 2000 when Bush was finally declared president and how what this would do for the economy. We know what happened. Ask yourself how your portfolios have done over the past eight years including the period of time that the Obama team had to work hard to dig the economy out of the hole it was left.

Of course, one can always go back and read the collected writings of Larry Kudlow to see how the anticipated policies of Trump are likely to make us all rich. I suspect that the administration and Congress will over reach in a number of areas and it is not going to be pretty.

It's mostly luck when a president is in power and the market has a good run at the same time. But that said, history does show that having a Dem president does not in any way prevent a good stock market. I believe the best combination for the market historically has been Dem president, Rep Congress. That's what I was hoping for this time around, a repeat of 2010-2016 and 1994-2000.

" believe the best combination for the market historically has been Dem president, Rep Congress."

That's true since WW 2 to some extent, but I suspect it's probably just a statistical artifact. There aren't enough data points when interspersed with cyclical but somewhat random recessions to draw substantive conclusions.

Or at least if there are then someone is holding the information close and probably making a lot of money off of the knowledge. ;)

"Dalio’s piece was interesting but lacked a key piece of data and that is the performance of the equities index (pick anyone you want) and compare the performance under Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama."

So, you've sold all your stocks and invested in bonds right? And you'll move back into equities as soon as a Democrat is elected President?

It seems like you've figured it all out.

Of course he hasn't sold his stocks. Obama is still president.

He may indeed have it figured out. But if so, he's probably not going to announce it to this whole board for free.

I'm looking at real estate in Colombia. The dollar jumped after the election and now assets are comparably cheap. That's not all Trump. It's also tied to the low price of oil. Thanks Obama!

"I’m looking at real estate in Colombia."

Good for you and good luck.

The diagnostic powers of so many intellectuals never ceases to amaze me. Wait until there IS a Trump administration to come to some kind of evaluation.

I am reminded exactly of the legions of history professors who responded to poll after a poll ranking presidents - with George W. Bush always ranking with the Millard Filmores and James K. Polks - while he was still in office. Strange, but I don't remember seeing many of those in the last 8 years. I'm sure some of them have already filled out their answer sheets for the first "How Does Trump Rank Among U.S. Presidents" article, to be filed 5 p.m. January 20, 2017.

Presidential rating is mostly a parlor game for historians, so it's not that important. But generally all presidents look better over time. In 2008 Bush II was among the worst rated, but lately he's inching higher.

Your example of Polk isn't a good one, he's considered to have been among the top ten. The worst are generally agreed to be (Andrew) Johnson, Harding, Grant, Buchanan, and Pierce.

As the last two administrations have taught us, it is possible to be either recklessly aggressive or recklessly passive. Thoughtfulness would be a welcome change.

It's interesting to look at all this talk of deal making from the perspective of development economics models. In that world, we see economies based on 'deals' as something to avoid, as it's the road to cronyism, and thus less economic efficiency, as ingroups have huge advantages over anyone else: There are laws for some people, and then laws for others.

So the question is, will we see a government that ignores laws, or one that chooses winners and losers, or one that just lowers regulations across the board?

I'll take all of the above for $400, Alex.

In response to the interesting books for liberals link:

1) I'd note that the Democrats handily won the popular vote. In spite of this, the GOP controls or seems about to control all branches of government. Politically, the books liberals need to read are ones about winning elections, consistently getting out the vote, and resisting what they view as a minority of voters' harmful policies rather than offering a "clearer sense of their own worldview’s limits, blind spots, blunders and internal contradictions." RD's offered rationale, however, is admirable.

2) It seems a lot of posts like this are written to liberal audience -- books liberals can read when they seem relatively powerless. Who is the intended audience of these posts? At first glance, liberals, but aren't these posts actually written for conservatives?

3) An alternative title might read "books everyone should read in a time of rising populism/ nationalism."

4) The first part of RD's post includes books that warn against the potential dangers posed by an inexperienced Trump administration that appears to have many conflicts of interest. Shouldn't conservatives be advised to read those books? With great power comes great responsibility, or so I think.

5) Isn't the main takeaway from these books that there is a rise of populism and nationalism throughout much of the West (as opposed to just the USA)?

6) Many of the recommended books do appear interesting.

1) Hillary Clinton won the popular vote against Donald Trump. "The Democrats" did not win the popular vote. GOP congressional candidates collectively beat D congressional candidates by about 2.5% points. The Senate totals are mainly a function of only some states having elections, but in most Senate races GOP candidate ran better than Trump

2) Of course posts like this are written primarily for liberals. In Douthat's case, he writes for the NYT, whose readership is overwhelmingly liberal. His entire raison d'etre as a NYT columnist is to explain conservatism to liberals. There's no point in Douthat telling highbrow conservatives to read Huntington's or Caldwell's books. They either have already or know they should (they probably have not read Lasch, Houellebecq, or Legutko though). There is a two-fold purpose to giving this message to liberals: First, you don't understand someone unless you understand them on their own terms, and if you want to communicate effectively with them you need to get inside their heads. Second, the American liberal's moral claim to power rests precisely on the conceit that they are uniquely open-minded and empathetic to manage such a diverse nation, and it's quite obvious from this year that they have absolutely no idea how (at least) half the country thinks.

4) If you've followed Douthat even casually, you'd be aware he (like many/most highbrow conservatives) is of the opinion that conservatism lost to Trump just as thoroughly as liberalism did, perhaps even moreso. Conservatives are in a rough spot in that they don't really "own" or control the Trump presidency but are going to be stuck with electoral responsibility for it nonetheless.

5) No. That there is such a rise is presumed knowledge of the audience. The main takeaway of the books is intended to be why such a rise is happening, from the perspective of people who are in favor of it

6) Agreed. Caldwell was essentially a prophet in his vision of Europe, as was Lasch regarding the social dynamic of the affluent class vs rest of America. Haven't read Hitchens/Legutko/Houellebecq, so can't vouch for them myself, but they do look interesting.

Note: this was in response to Ryan T above

@Plucky. I appreciate your response.

1) Your distinction is valuable, though it might benefit from qualification. I think the larger point stands.
2) You may be correct. I can only say that I don't see liberals in my network sharing these sorts of posts anymore. Only conservatives and libertarians do.
4) You're right to suspect that I don't follow him, though I think what you've said adds urgency for everyone to read these books.
5) I'm not sure we're in broad disagreement on this.
6) Happy reading.

Thank you for responding.

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