The show so far, a continuing series

The big news was that China actually started to apply real pressure to North Korea, namely ceasing to buy their coal for the rest of the year.  That may prove a phantom or reversed piece of news, but still it is real progress of some kind, if only in expected value terms.  Did Trump’s antics and also his courting of Abe have anything to do with this?  We don’t know.  Was Obama’s THAAD missile deployment to South Korea a factor?  Probably.  I say score one for them both.  Keep in mind that is probably the world’s #1 foreign policy problem, and otherwise progress has been hard to come by.  Their KL airport assassination also may end up as a relevant PR disaster, costing them further foreign support.

Closer to home, outright Obamacare repeal seems increasingly unlikely.  Since I never favored Obamacare, you might think I am unhappy, but as I see it they were likely to replace with something unworkable and worse.  So this is, if not good news outright, at least the opposite of bad news.  Whether through brilliance or incompetence, Trump simply isn’t leading on this issue and so major changes won’t get done, maybe not even minor changes.

Republicans in state governments are running away from fiscal conservatism rather rapidly.  The Michigan legislature turned down a tax cut and there was a significant revolt in Kansas.  That was an under-reported story, namely a reversal of Tea Party influence on Republican-controlled state governments.

The Border Tax plan appears to be dead or on life support.  Flynn is gone and replaced by the apparently excellent McMaster.  There is talk (fact?) again of Kevin Hassett as CEA chair — a great idea — and Russia seems increasingly disillusioned with our president, also a nicer place to be.

The new Executive Order on regulation has some upside deregulatory potential.  Whether or not you favor a federal role in the matter, I thought it was a good sign to see Betsy DeVos sticking up for transgender rights.

Proposed policies on trade and immigration, as well as rhetoric toward the press, remain awful, plus various “background problems” continue, but overall I thought this was a very good week for Trump, with Flynn out to pasture and the North Korea news far outweighing the rest.

Comments

There is no evidence that De Vos supports forcing 12 year old girls to share their locker rooms with 40 year old penises. That is just an article based on rumor - and presumably hoping to cause splits in the Republican ranks or at least convince people there is one.

I am enjoying Trump taking the press out to the woodshed more than I can say. The fact that he is coming back with immigration restrictions is excellent. A shame that the 9th wasn't reversed on appeal but we will see.

All in all, another out standing week for Trump.

'I am enjoying Trump taking the press out to the woodshed more than I can say. '

So am I - an article like the following is extremely entertaining, for those that remember the long ago Nixon era, including the fact that the underlying facts are actually recorded, and yet remain hidden from public view till now - even if the Russians clearly already have their own recordings, and are fully aware of American sigint practices since at least 1952.

Particularly nice was seeing how the use of unnamed sources is being used to skewer those wishing to remain unnamed, compared to the names being confirmed as being involved - they aren't leaking anything, after all, this is an authorized attempt to influence public debate (which is completely acceptable when not hidden so clumsily, or involving political use of intelligence figures) - 'White House officials declined to comment on the administration’s subsequent effort to enlist other government officials and would not agree to allow the identification of the intelligence officials who had spoken to The Post last week. In separate calls, those individuals insisted on being identified only as “a senior intelligence official in the Trump administration” and “a senior member of the intelligence community.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-sought-to-enlist-intelligence-officials-key-lawmakers-to-counter-russia-stories/2017/02/24/c8487552-fa99-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html

And as the article points out the result of this effort, there must be a large amount of frustration within the Trump Administration that none of this was reported in the media - though now there is thorough reporting of how clumsily the Trump Administration attempted to influence the media through using unnamed sources.

Nothing more fun than watching a pro like Trump take the press out to the woodshed - and seeing it handled as ineptly as just about everything else that he is involved in till now.

And a separate point - does anyone else hate that moronic 'Democracy dies' crap at the Post? You can avoid it using print preview to read an article in the browser - which took me far too long to figure out this morning. Extremely irritating, at least until finding that work around. Democracy is not yet in danger in the U.S., and anyone who thinks the Post doesn't play its own games is an idiot. But to make it so explicit just shows you cannot trust a billionaire in charge in DC, whether to run the U.S. or the Washington Post.

The Post's alert may end up looking like a false alarm, but only if enough people heed the warning. Or fail to heed the call that the press is "the enemy of the people."

This entirely rests on the number of true nationalists in the population.

Make no mistake, Trump an Bannon explicitly say they think there are many, and so they expect their instructions to be followed.

If we luck out, it won't be thanks to those who sat out the decision.

The past couple weeks have been great in terms of Trump's spectacular failures. He is weak on all substantive issues and is getting nothing done, not to mention lying and saying something embarrassing literally every day. Legislatively, it is becoming clear that this administration is going to be a failure. (Would like to take bets with anyone who thinks they will accomplish ACA repeal, significant corporate tax reform or an immigration overhaul). Finally, they are likely to lose in the courts on a number of efforts to enact Steven Bannon's white nationalist agenda through administrative policy changes. It's only going to get better.

And the takeaway about DeVos is that she is clearly fine with LGBT issues, but she is weak and ineffectual on policy and shaping her party's position. It's a demonstration that cultural tides are shifting in defiance of conservative dogma and that is showing up in the personal views of even those trapped within rusty cage of that dogma. Happy to wait it out while the Republican party looks more and more out of touch on social issues.

And I forgot to mention the infrastructure plan that Trump promised is also not going to happen.

'Would like to take bets with anyone who thinks they will accomplish' ...

... tax cuts for the rich? Because that accomplishment is one I think the current power structure will be able to accomplish. Maybe not tax cuts in general (as if they ever cared about that anyways), but definitely tax cuts for the rich. Think no more death taxes, for example - it sounds so snappy.

Left that one off the list intentionally. And to be fair, cutting taxes for the rich is probably the most important policy for the majority of elected R's, though not for voters. It's hard to overstate the motivation of the right to advance unpaid for tax cuts for their themselves, their benefactors and special interest groups.

Steven Bannon’s white nationalist agenda

Hold still, I've got to put a big "retard" stamp on your forehead.

Oops, I misspelled his name. Good catch!

(Also, I'm not black, Latino, Muslim or Jewish, so the stamp I'll be getting from Steve is the White Man Seal of Approval.)

It's going to be a long, hard eight years for poor Jan, et al.

Maybe, but at this level of entertainment, I don't expect Trump to last more than a couple of ratings seasons. My loss in entertainment is likely America's gain, though.

It took Nixon years to accumulate the baggage that Trump has managed to acquire in a month. Not to mention the recordings that will make it extremely easy to see who has been naughty and who has been nice when the recordings are played in the Senate, with transcripts available.

Congratulations on your major policy achievements!

>It’s going to be a long, hard eight years for poor Jan, et al.

Sixteen -- I don't think he'll like Ivanka's Presidency either, despite how incredibly historic it will be.

It's always a winning strategy to play nationalism as your theme in your home country. USA! USA!

But, it's a hollow nationalism in world which requires alliances to get things done, or to minimize risk to everyone.

I am waiting for Donald to have a crisis where he needs the cooperation of other countries.

I am also waiting for national brands--Coke, Nike, McDonald's etc--to begin suffering loss of foreign sales as a result of being associated with American--us first--nationalism. Brand equity for US multinational brands will not do well abroad if the country's leader is a uber-nationalist.

'I don’t think he’ll like Ivanka’s Presidency either, despite how incredibly historic it will be'

Well, there is a recent Economist article describing Trump as a Peronist - clearly, some of Trump's supporters have no problem with that model of South American governance. http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21717105-donald-trump-through-latin-american-eyes-peronist-potomac
Though oddly, Trump supporters expressed their dissastisfaction with the idea of dynastic succession just a few months ago.

Jan croaked "Congratulations on your major policy achievements." Well, four weeks in . . . You're Welcome!

President Donald J. Trump is everything I wanted when I voted for him. He is not corrupt, incompetent Hillary.

The stock market is skyrocketing. And, you're correct. It isn't about President Donald J. Trump. It's based on euphoria over the fact that Crooked Hillary will not get the chance to repeat Obama's massive mistakes and she will not get the opportunity to start a war with Russia.

Way to go, Barry!

Here are Obama's eight years of major policy achievements:

By far, B. H. Obama's most magnificent policy achievement (over his eight great years): GOP won the White House, electoral gains in the House (63 seats), gains Senate (10 seats), and state houses/executive mansions.

ACA - a gargantuan, jobs-killing tax and the ruination of 80% of Americans' health insurance - we evil, hate-filled white nationalists don't need to repeal this massive shit sandwich for America, they can stand by a watch it implode;

National debt deteriorated 89% rising $9.4 trillion from $10.6 trillion to $20 trillion, national debt per capital nearly doubled going to $61,340 from $31,000, the Fed printed $4 trillion in QE, eight years of zero interest rates, . - The Magic Man achieved less than 3% annual GDP growth each year;

More Legacy: Provided Iran with $100 billion more better to fund world-wide terror and put them on the nuclear arms fast-track;

Did nothing useful about NK;

Labor force participation rate crashed from 65.8% to 62.8%.

Home Ownership Rate dropped from 67.3% to 63.5%

Real Median Household Income declined 6.4% from $57,744 to $54,045.

Food stamp dependence worsened by 36% from 32 million to 43.6 million.

Persons in poverty rose by 7 million destitute Americans deteriorating 18% to 45 million from 38 million.

"Provided Iran with $100 billion more better to fund world-wide terror and put them on the nuclear arms fast-track"

I relly love how the Sunni kingdoms apologists tie themselves in knots when they talk about supporting terror. It is a measure of their desespair:
Never forget: https://www.resourcesforlife.com/docs/item10204/20150119tu-diplomacy-us-president-george-w-bush-holds-hand-with-king-saudi-arabia-6446422

Jan February 25, 2017 at 7:17 am

Congratulations on your major policy achievements!

Things are looking great so far. The Deep State is clearly fighting a rear guard action but that just makes it all the more enjoyable. No amount of judicial over-reach will end the Muslim ban for instance.

13 Bill February 25, 2017 at 8:47 am

But, it’s a hollow nationalism in world which requires alliances to get things done, or to minimize risk to everyone.

These would be these alliances where Europe pays nothing for their own defense? Where Europe sh!ts all over America's efforts at keeping the world safe? Where Obama engages in petty and vindictive swipes at Israel?

I am also waiting for national brands–Coke, Nike, McDonald’s etc–to begin suffering loss of foreign sales as a result of being associated with American–us first–nationalism. Brand equity for US multinational brands will not do well abroad if the country’s leader is a uber-nationalist.

The problem with the self-loathing Left is that they assume everyone agrees with them. What makes you think that self-loathing is attractive? Why do you think that the rest of the world won't be more impressed by someone who is proud to be an American than someone who is not? How did Obama's re-set with the Middle East work out? Margaret Thatcher is one of the most popular British politicians in the world. Still. She did not do that because she was a gutless liberal.

SMFS - mostly, it's just people like you mentioning things like "young girls plus male cocks" (something something wrong about that .... uh ... maybe more you).

In fact, no one supports what you're talking about. Possibly ... a transgender female in high school might have access to a locker room.

The main issue is about where people pee. You, these penises you like to talk about ... if you have one, you're either using a urinal (i.e., not in the women's space) or are in a stall (maybe you're aware that women's restrooms have stalls, and each of them is private).

So ... the most distrurbing aspects of this whole situation are the words and scenarios that you present.

I am sorry Nathan, but what do you think you are talking about? The Left is obsessed with The Penis and has forced this issue on the national agenda. Because they want to put them in every little girl's change room in the country. It has nothing to do with me. There are, to a first order approximation, no Gay people in the world, and even among Gay people, there are certainly no transsexuals to a first order approximation either. We could all go back to ignoring them if people like you did not keep making it an issue.

The main issue is who is allowed into the bathrooms and change rooms of primary schools across the country. You seem to be asserting that no little girl would ever be confronted by a large man with stubble waving his penis. Well, in boy's bathrooms that shouldn't be an issue either. And yet Gay people used to get arrested for waving theirs about all the time. It is an issue because of the people, not the stalls.

The solution to this is not a Federal one. The Constitution says nothing about the right for men to access little girl's bathrooms. To the states and the people.

Penis + little girl's change room.

Penis + little girl's room. Locker Locker room, penis, little girl's change room.

Thanks, SMFS. You're a champ.

I now identify as a woman and demand AA in my T14 law school applications (my LSAT would qualify a white woman for Yale, a white man would be lucky to get Northwestern), and I demand a SBA minority owned business loan.

Do women and men really have different LSAT cut-offs?

Links?

"I am enjoying Trump taking the press out to the woodshed more than I can say"

+1, stopped listening to the professional news media more than a decade ago. For the most part they accomplish little of value and their obvious bias corrodes what little investigative spirit still exists in those spoiled little hearts.

The liberal angst is horrifying and pleasing: it's horrifying that they blast so much vile nonsense, but (at least on my Facebook feed) more than a liberal or two has announced how "exhausted" they are. Hopefully, after paying a personal psychic cost for their frothing rage, they calm down permanently. It won't help Trump, but maybe it'll help whoever comes next.

I am not sure there is any coming back from the place where they are. What to do? Prozac seems too feeble and they are probably on it already.

To show what people we are dealing with - the people who think they are our betters and have the right to lecture us on, well, anything, let me quote a little item from Instapundit:

THIS IS WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY DO: Could the New York Times have found a softer couch for its recollection of the blind sheik? “Nearly a week after the death of the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman in a U.S. prison, the New York Times published an interview with his lawyer, Lynne Stewart, in which she remembered Rahman not as a terrorist but as the ‘personification of an American hero.'”

Shades of the Gray Lady’s glowing obit of Joseph Stalin, and fawning profile of Bill Ayers, the latter, in a macabre bit of synchronicity, published the morning of September 11th, 2001.

The NYT thinks that the blind sheik is an all American hero? From Clark Kent to suicide bombing in a generation. These people have no right to be lecturing anyone else on anything.

Trump isn't coming out against Obamacare cause his base loves Obamacare. They want more Obamacare, bigger subsidies and lower deductibles, opposite of conservative orthodoxy. They might want it only for white people, but no one can deliver that so they are moving on to just changing the name. If some red state Gov's can visibly kick a few symbolic black people off of the program it is going to be safe for a long time.

[ "...they were likely to replace {obamacare} with something unworkable and worse" ]

Nothing "new" needs to "replace" ObamaCare -- America was functioning "before" ObamaCare was suddenly forced upon everyone by the Democrats. Just abolish Obamacare and return to status quo ante (for now).

Merely abolishing the unconstitutional Individual-Mandate is enough to start toppling the ObamaCare dominoes.

The MSM and left are very deceptively framing the issue as a total Republican responsibility to either keep ObamaCare or "replace" it with something similar -- when the obvious primary option is simply to return to the non-ObamaCare status of just a few years ago.

There are 3 options, not 2

"America was functioning “before” ObamaCare was suddenly forced upon everyone by the Democrats"

A lot of people would disagree with this statement. Even some of those who would agree might believe that the health care system has changed over the last few years in ways that would make the transition make to no-Obamacare difficult.

...But you would agree there are 3 political options, not just the 2 that are incessantly framed by the MSM and Democrats ?

Nobody said the pre-ObamaCare status was really great -- but the streets were not littered with the dead and dying. The government has been screwing up health care for a century plus... and ObamaCare was a big step further down that destructive road. I favor huge reforms in health care... in the opposite direction.

And yes... the scope and stupidity of ObamaCare makes everything more difficult now.

The streets still are not littered with the dead and dying, so you're gonna need to come up with better metrics if you want to convince anybody that improving healthcare is as simple as repealing Obamacare.

"The MSM and left are very deceptively framing the issue as a total Republican responsibility to either keep ObamaCare or “replace” it with something similar"

That's not deception, that is an accurate map of political realities. If the Republicans scrap Medicaid expansion, they could suffer in key states such as Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania where state governments have cooperated with the expansion. If the Republicans scrap the individual mandate and subsidies while keeping Medicaid expansion, they will create an incredibly perverse system where people with pre-existing conditions are penalized for working their way out of poverty.

Based on the time stamp of your post, I'm going to assume you are still drunk from the previous night.

The typical Trump voter is more like your boss than your mother. Keep that in mind when drinking down the kool-aid from the cult.

Nah, just up late on the west coast.

The typical Trump voter is going to vote Republican regardless and has health insurance through their employer so what do they care about Obamacare? The marginal voters who put him over the top in the Midwest love Obamacare and want more, not less. Just disassociating it from Obama will be enough for them.

Trump has expressed openness towards univeral health care.

All bases of comparison suggest that better results are achieved for less money. (Maybe not for 1 percenters, who lose out on the ability to jump to the front of every line.)

'and Russia seems increasingly disillusioned with our president, also a nicer place to be'

Depends on whether Putin's fake news becomes a public, or merely remains a private, golden shower of imagery - what is put on for show for public consumption has little to do with actual actions.

For example, regardless of how 'disillusioned' the Russians are, if Trump were to pull American forces out of the Baltics in the next year, the Russians are likely to be able to handle their disillusionment just fine.

Americans are hopelessly divided and desperate. In a certain way, they probably feel History is against them and that the inherent internal contradicitions of their society are destroying it - and them. As the feudal lords of yore, Americans have no option but retreating further and further and building walls and digging moats as protection against a hostile and incomprehensible universe.

At least we're not the hell hole that is Brazil.

Brazil is not a hell hole. As one of the most famous Brazilian poems say,

"Our skies have more stars,
Our valleys have more flowers.
Our forests have more life,
Our lives have more love."

Also as our national anthem points out,

"Giant by thine own nature,
Thou art beautiful, thou art strong, a fearless colossus,
And thy future mirrors that greatness.

Adored Land
Amongst a thousand others
Art thou, Brazil,
O beloved homeland!'"

Brazil is the only important country in the world who never fought a war of aggression, never was tempted by ideas of territorial aggrandizement, always (as Brazilian senator Ruy Barbosa told Nobel Prizemwinner Anatole France) favored world peace and never was defeated in war. And as Prophet Bandarra predicted, Brazil is fated to rise like a lion and crush the serpent with its heel.

The USA voted by a significant margin for Hillary. Had the morons been less strategically placed your narrative would be completely different.

America has been a declining power, clearly in retreat with foreign war spasms since the early 2000s. As Bismarck pointed out, not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided, but by iron and blood. America cn not muster anymore the collective will to lead the "Free" World. It has become weak and decadent.

"The USA voted by a significant margin for Hillary. Had the morons been less strategically placed your narrative would be completely different."

Wrong. It was a landslide, 30 states to 20, the most recent of Democrat losses - the house, senate, governorships, state houses. I don't blame you for being frustrated. As for moron distribution, it's sad progressives hate everyone except each other so the cluster together in safe spaces and sanctuary cities.

Do you know how the popular vote works? Your "point" in no way refutes my claim. Winning by tiny margins in lots of smaller states and getting crushed in larger ones does not a crushing make.

To the safe space comment slash progressive bashing:
1) you needn't be a progressive to be pissed off about trump's victory and subsequent antics; I know plenty of conservatives scared shitless
2) as for the safe spaces troll, not enough of a cogent thought to be worth my time. Happy holidays

While mastering the art of playing victim from the throne.

I guess, but at the end they are no one victimim's, bit themselves'.

Funny post.

How do you equate fiscal conservatism with failure to enact a tax cut: "Republicans in state governments are running away from fiscal conservatism rather rapidly. The Michigan legislature turned down a tax cut and there was a significant revolt in Kansas"

You seem to be viewing fiscal conservatism as cutting taxes.

Look at Kansas. They cut taxes (creating a massive deficit!).

I guess Kansas wasn't conservative any more when the rebelled from the consequences.

Poor Kansas.

"What's the matter with Kansas?" Anyway, with Trump in charge, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. Even rhose of use who've never been to Kansas anyway.

Thiago,

I am waiting for Trump's growth fairy to lead the way to unsustainable tax cuts, as in Kansas. He has already done it by projecting economic growth in his budget projections that will give him space to cut taxes for the wealthy. It's good to be wealthy.

Thanks for the clarificarion, I understand, but I was quoting (or trying to quote, I confess I am sure about the exact phrasing) the title of a book about how Kansas becama a Conservatism-controlled state. I am wondering if Trumpism will revert this trend.
To be fair, Trump's optimism is not unprecedent. Former President Roussef's Treasure Minister predicted seven out two booming years we had under her administration. The average difference between his predictions and reality are between two and five percentual points.

* not sure about the exact phrasing...

It's like saying that it's smart to reduce your income when expenses stay the same.

+1 And, wait for the coming of the growth fairy.

>as well as rhetoric toward the press, remain awful

Your problem is that you view nakedly partisan anti-Trump fiction-writing corporations as "the press." They are not.

If you could get that through your head, you would find the rhetoric towards them an absolute joy, and very long overdue.

One does not have to be a Trump fan to love seeing these people take it up the posterior on daily basis. Love.

A certain type of person loves to see the enemies of the people be punished. Strangely, this time, it is the Italians that have a word that covers perfectly describes that sort of person.

(Depending on your view of the French Revolution, the French have one or more terms too, but to argue that the U.S. is undergoing a true revolution is as moronic as the Post's 'democracy dies' idiocy.)

Trump must be so pissed that subscriptions for the Times and Post have skyrocketed thanks to him.

Very dishonest! Sad!

"New York Times shares traded more than 1 percent higher Thursday afternoon."

As the stock market in general is up 6x that. Success indeed!

"Fiction-writing?"

The purveyor of alternative facts is Trump, not the press. You appear to be a swallower of any alternative facts Trump wants you to believe.

Alternative facts is a term that addresses framing and omission. You would know that if you could A. think critically or B. handle being exposed to reporting outside of your partisan press.

Restructuring the finance of medical care and long-term care is very much in order, and the implosion of the Obamacare exchanges will (one suspects) make it not merely advisable but necessary. Problem: it's a reasonable wager Republican pols will make a hash of it through some contrivance like vouchers in lieu of Medicare, or they'll enact some fragment of a solution that will not address core problems. The problem with reforms to financing medical care and long-term care is that you can have anything you want, but you cannot have everything you want. Trump would do well to convince his constituency that first-dollar coverage is something that has to disappear, a task at which any pol is likely to fail.

Republicans in state governments are running away from fiscal conservatism rather rapidly. The Michigan legislature turned down a tax cut and there was a significant revolt in Kansas. That was an under-reported story, namely a reversal of Tea Party influence on Republican-controlled state governments.

'Fiscal conservatism' is largely a nonsense term. To the extent it has a meaning, it might be a general bias against public expenditure and / or public-sector borrowing. Tax cuts are not 'fiscally conservative' if they're not matched with corresponding cuts in the trajectory of public spending.

I think you've basically got it.

Too much tinkering, no real solutions that address core problems, and they add up to an expensive and ineffective mess.

The very basic concept of the ACA, requiring individuals to purchase health insurance and subsidizing those who can't afford it, should be pretty sound if implemented effectively. But it seems quite clear that there are a fair number of problems with it - in addition to a partisan disinterest to do the type of tinkering that would make the ACA work, out of preference to explore other possibilities.

I agree with you but Trump won't do anything. I think he has a few more months of potential policy, and then it will be just tinkering, if that. His administration will fight the bureaucrats and be weak.

Trump may have more success in changing the press or national attitudes, but government policy will remain its complacent self.

" I thought it was a good sign to see Betsy DeVos sticking up for transgender rights."

Don't transgenders have the same rights as everyone else? In reality, non-transgenders have fewer rights, being allowed to defecate only in facilities labeled for their particular biological gender. It's a commentary on the dearth of true problems in modern American society that encourages otherwise intelligent people to fret over the sanitary practices of an incredibly small minority while dismissing the real concerns of larger segments of the population. Of course, it's a bogus issue anyway.

Non-transgenders can use excuses like "the other one was busy and I REALLY had to go". So I don't think there's a rights issue there ...

Transgenders have always been allowed to use the others bathrooms. It's once that it's a right that causes social issues. Up to now a pervert in the girls bathroom would have security called on him - now he just claims he's transgender and it OK for him to hang out with the girls. Perverts outnumber transgenders by 100x.

Transgenders (i.e., those with biological basis and excluding those which some woudl categorize under mental illness) are about 1% of the population.

To my knowledge, perverts of the type that would be relevant here are MUCH less than 1% of the population. Perhaps 100 times less, not the 100 more frequent than transgender individuals, as you suggest.

I thought it was a good sign to see Betsy DeVos sticking up for transgender rights.

There can be no such things as 'transgender rights' without making the law sillier than it is already. Persons have rights, but they don't have rights by virtue of being bent. The community has an interest in putting the quacks who do hormone treatments and 'gender-reassignment' surgery out of business. Wake me when a soi-disant libertarian under the age of 70 and possessed of a faculty appointment advocates something that won't make the world worse.

And I suppose you have the credentials and knowledge to assess whether hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery is quackery?

You have to be the most eloquent piece of shit I've ever encountered on a message board. make no mistake though, you are a piece of shit first.

I don't need any expertise, anymore than I need expertise to ascertain that a surgeon who amputates limbs as performance art is a quack or need one to ascertain that the surgeon who gelded Marshal Herff Applewhite's follwers is so, or to ascertain that physicians who sell prescriptions for opiods are so.

You have to be the most eloquent piece of shit I’ve ever encountered on a message board. make no mistake though, you are a piece of shit first.

You're not fit to lick my boots.

Yes. Overriding your basic genetic code with evisceration of healthy tissue and synthetic hormones is pure quackery. This is a mental illness, not a misplaced brain problem.

Well for what is worth, I do have such (granted I am not an endocrinologist, but somehow the state allows me to administer these treatments if I choose), and there is pitifully little evidence to suggest that either hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery actually work. The (long term) longitudinal study out of Sweden (Dhejne et al. 2011) shows that these treatments do not alleviate the risk of suicide; decreased rates of suicide were supposed to be the main advantage of these therapies. The goalposts were, of course, summarily moved but as a practitioner of evidence based medicine I have yet to see a systematic review of either these therapies showing either objective longitudinal harm reduction or high grade evidence of success (e.g. double blind randomized clinical trial).

Of course, in medicine it is normally our practice to prove that invasive surgery has actual harm reduction commensurate to the risks of surgery before making it standard of care. So perhaps you would be kind enough to point toward some research showing gains in QALYs or DALYs relative to alternative treatments.

The difference between the absurd comparison you draw is that patients are usually begging for gender reassignment surgery, not being coerced by "quakcs."

As for the second point, given the amount of time you spend on the internet commenting on shit (lol) I would hazard a guess that I am certainly at least fit to lick your boots.

As to Sure's point, thank you for pointing me to that study which I was unaware of and read; of course I do not have a double blind study to respond with as this would seem near impossible to orchestrate.
The two other studies referenced in the wikipedia article would seem to offer evidence contradicting your point.

When in doubt, I do believe it is worth deferring to the wishes of the patient, who is bearing the risk and has access to all the information discussed. This is especially convincing in this case, given the subjectivity of psychiatry and the failings of the medical community in the past in similar areas (the oft quoted DSM homosexuality controversy being one example).

As a final note, I appreciate comments such as yours, in contrast to

"Yes. Overriding your basic genetic code with evisceration of healthy tissue and synthetic hormones is pure quackery. This is a mental illness, not a misplaced brain problem."

Which are purely argument by fiat or in Art Deco's case, using fancy words and speaking with great self assurance (yet not using their real name).

Deferring to the patient is why we have antibiotic resistant bacteria killing tens of thousands of people a year. Speaking of which, non-indicated surgery is great way to breed said resistance. It is one thing to say that this treatment should be legal to pursue, it is another thing to say that it should be the standard of care and must be paid for as such by others (i.e. through premiums or taxes).

It has been a couple of years since I took a dive into the literature on this topic, but what came up them were a large number of extremely low power studies with few (or often now) objective markers. These are exactly the sorts of studies that we should not be basing medical care upon. Can you do a clinical double-blind? Well, yes, it should be possible to do a double-blinded crossover study and note at what points androgen/estrogen exposure helps the patient and when it does not. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever even attempted this. Can you do a double blind on the full gender reassignment surgery? Well no, but even there the quality of evidence is pretty dismal in terms of power, selection bias, and publication bias.

The big one that convinces is every trans-patients I have ever discussed this with vastly overestimates the "success" they will have with these treatments. I dwell on suicide a lot, because I see a lot of attempts. It is downright criminal how these teenagers have been lead to believe that these treatments will lower their suicide risk when the evidence suggests that the effect is minimal at best.

Going through with these treatments carries large costs - huges amount of patient time, medical practitioner time, OR time, antibiotic resistance breeding, and of course cash. Statistically, every futile operation (of which there are many in all areas of surgery) kills a fraction of some other patient - they get a routine surgery later, develop complications, and die from them or the PACU spawns a case of vanc resistant MRSA. I have a problem subjecting everyone else to those risks; I have a huge problem when I have yet to meet a patient who actually knew the actual rates of "cure" these treatments might produce (e.g. if the suicide rate is lowered, it is not by much).

I understand the autonomy principles in play here, but when it comes to medicine autonomy is weighted equally with beneficence, non-malfeasance, and justice. Given the paucity of evidence that runs afoul of non-malfeasance. Given the high social costs of surgery that has major justice issues. You can make a fine case that you should be able to do what you want with your body. You can only make a very weak case that this should be established standard of care (i.e. should not be excluded from insurance) under the rubrics normally used for other surgeries.

If the literature in recent years has changed, I would be all ears. I, frankly, hate having to tell patients that what is sold to them, often by doctors, as a way to "fix" their suicidal ideation is statistically unlikely to "work" for them. As is, I cannot in good conscience suggest that a patient will significantly benefit from these treatments for the areas they care most about.

Talk about shifting goal posts. Now your point is that trans people shouldn't get the surgery because of the risk of mrsa and the like?

What really prompted me to respond though is my curiousity; what I said, calling into question the blanket statement by an Internet commenter that drs who administer hrt and the like are quacks, prompted you to write a multi paragraph essay. It would seem clear to me where the onus is on such an argument.

However, when someone asserts that being trans is mental illness, not a peep. Why do you think that is? As an important side note, if I were trans, the above observation would make me more than hesitant to trust my md's assessments about what I should do with my body.

Thomas Jefferson: "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."

I really don't get Tyler calling this "rhetoric" and turning a blind eye to strategy. This is clearly about a US Government trying to shape beliefs, to get people to reject truths, to get people to accept falsehoods.

They are trying to establish a pattern, one contrary to freedom and democracy.

It's about having the people not just going along with the narrative the very liberal media establishes. It's all about allowing people to see the truth. How many of the bs anti-Trump stories produced over the last month hold up to scrutiny? You think people don't notice all these attack stories on Trump don't turn to embarrass the media within 24 hrs?

Trump would very much like everyone to generalize to "bs anti-Trump stories" and not look at a specific story or specific facts.

For instance, who is winning on the Swedish narrative?

Sweden? Or are we not supposed to ask ..

http://www.government.se/articles/2017/02/facts-about-migration-and-crime-in-sweden/

Trump mentioned Sweden. They have another riot the next day. Cops come out about how bad it is. And the only defense is that they're used to the riots by now. Clearly Trump lost this round.

That is not what that link says. It says that crimes are cherry picked by rightists in America and not representative.

Meanwhile Fox is suckered by a "Swedish security expert" who the Swedes have never heard of, faked his references, and has a US conviction for assault.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/sweden-fox-news-immigrant-convict-assault-donald-trump-fake-advisor-usa-a7599506.html

Anon,

I see it thusly: there's everyone but Fox News and then Fox News.

There's a wall and it's painted green. The media says it's yellow. Fox says it's blue. Vox publishes an article by a women's studies major from brown explaining that green is pro patriarchy and thus the wall is yellow. Fox News hires a "color expert" who turns out to be a rabidly mentally ill homeless man to bark at the camera that it's actually blue, in between Rascal scooter commercials. Cue nytimes oped penned by an illegal immigrant with a sob story implying that calling the green wall blue or green is an insult to her life story. Vox writes another article and makes it look like the consensus of color scientists is that the wall is yellow, and leaves out that the wall is yellow plus another color.

I proceed to stop reading the internet for the day and grab a whiskey.

I think that happens.

Of course other times we might slide to think the yellow wall is green, because the blue noise is just so darn loud.

Quik google away: "In a Facebook rant, Peter Springare said his post was not politically correct, but he did not care as he was soon retiring after 47 years of service.

Sweden has been hard hit to cope with unprecedented levels of crimes and incidents, as the National Criminal Investigation Service admitted last year that more than 50 areas were labelled as 'no-go zones' where police did not have control.

In the report, attacks on police officers were detailed, along with incidents of children carrying weapons, sex attacks and other violent crimes.

Taking to Facebook to share his frustration, Mr Springare, who works as an investigator for the Örebro police, said the lion’s share of the crimes were committed by migrants. "\

Very typical from what you see from the police in Sweden. That and how they are not allowed to comment, and how the stats are steered away from reporting immigrant crime.

It is a great time to be a guy with a rant. Strangers will love you all across America.

Obamacare was a poison pill. We are damned if the end it and damned if they don't. But as millions more Americans are harmed by this malicious legislation they will have to kill it. I suggest two simple changes that can be done without congress: 1. Remove the mandatory part of it for both individuals and businesses. 2. End the subsidy from the federal government. If you want your Obamacare you can keep your obamacare but you must pay the costs not the taxpayer.

" If You Want Your Obamacare You Can Keep Your Obamacare {but you must pay the costs not the taxpayer} "

Nice ! (surely the Democrats would luv that snappy slogan)

Every government program with a lot of beneficiaries is a similar poison pill. It's easy to dispose of the worst kinds of nuclear or chemical wastes than it is to eliminate a government program with a million beneficiaries.

I wonder if this was written with a sense of humor. Many of the ways Trump "won" this week, he did by losing. Pence rolled back criticism of NATO and the EU. Kelly and Tillerson appeared to be contradicting Trump in order to placate an 'Irritated' Mexico. McMaster breaks with the administration on Islam.

Does Trump win by being reduced (as many hoped) to Tweeter in Chief?

It's not yet clear the extent to which much of this amounts to somewhat of a bluff. Namely, to get other NATO members to spend more on military and to narrow the trade deficit with lower-wage China.

It's good cop vs bad cop. Trump brings the harsh reality and his administration soothes all the hurt feelings. Typical bargaining. Has a salesman ever given you his best price on the opening offer?

I love how TC gives equal credit for both good statesmanship/ foreign policy and unstable antics. I dont think you are taking into account the future cost for continuing to use "antics" as a tactic at home and abroad, and thats even if we are both charitable in saying that behavior has contributed to some positive outcomes.

"Since I never favored Obamacare, you might think I am unhappy, but as I see it they were likely to replace with something unworkable and worse. So this is, if not good news outright, at least the opposite of bad news."

The soft bigotry of low expectations. (A bigotry I share, BTW.)

No you don't you and Tyler just know better than to actually oppose left wing intiatives. If you guys actually had low expectations you guys would be satisfied with living in the country that takes in more immigrants than any place on earth. But there is no social cost for supporting plutocratic-assisting open borders and there is a huge social cost for opposing Obamacare so you rant endlessly about immigration control and offer up meek demurrals about the lefts policy preferences.

You don't have low expectations you have low testerone because you are a moral coward.

The big news was that China actually started to apply real pressure to North Korea, namely ceasing to buy their coal for the rest of the year. That may prove a phantom or reversed piece of news, but still it is real progress of some kind, if only in expected value terms. Did Trump’s antics and also his courting of Abe have anything to do with this? We don’t know. Was Obama’s THAAD missile deployment to South Korea a factor? Probably. I say score one for them both.

Could it be that US policies and speeches have not very much to with China's policies towards North Korea? If I ran China I would be very worried about having a nuclear-armed lunatic in the neighborhood and would do what I thought best to keep him from doing something crazy. That might cover a variety of carrots and sticks.

Why did Kim have his brother murdered now, in particular? I expect his brother represented a threat to him--an alternative leader that might be put in his place, after a coup. So one possibility is that Kim was worried about a coup (perhaps internally driven, perhaps orchestrated or supported by China, SK, Japan, the US, or someone else) and wanted to eliminate the risk. And that could reflect Kim's current perception of the risk of a coup, or his plans for the future and concern that those plans might lead to such a coup.

Why did Kim have his brother murdered now, in particular?

I don't know. Any of your theories could be right, or they could all be wrong.

What I think I do know is that China is going to act in its own interest, and that while US policy can certainly affect that, it is not controlling. There is always a strong chance that China would have done whatever it did regardless of US actions or speeches.

"Their KL airport assassination also may end up as a relevant PR disaster, costing them further foreign support."

I challenge/encourage/cajole/beg the economics profession to use its expertise to investigate the challenge of removing dictators with disastrous policies in poor countries. Why does the world allow people like Kim Jong-un to run countries?

With a very poor and relatively underpopulated country dominated by a strong military, it ought to be relatively inexpensive and straightforward to have the military depose the dictator and attempt to install a democracy. The key, it seems to me, is whom to pay and how much to pay them, to get a bloodless (or relatively bloodless) transition.

Economists, what are you waiting for? Why haven't I seen any publicly announced international "Rent-a-Coup" conferences?!

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2013/05/how_to_spend_a.html#260438

Also, I think Tyler underestimates the hereditary monarchy aspect of NK.

That brother is a viable royal blood figurehead for a coup to use. The people of NK are brainwashed about the Kim family, so this matters greatly.

That's why he was killed. History is replete with monarchs killing their brothers.

After Democracy is installed, who will prevent those generals from being hung for crimes against Mankind in general and Koreans in particuar? How many totalitarian momster are you ready to install in the USA? The Nazis at least built your rockets, what would you get for protecting hundreds of North Korean generals?

It was hard to convince Brazilians that the generals and torturers should not be prosecuted after the Military Regime ended. And Brazilians are much less bloodthirsty and vengeful than the Koreans are. Also, probably there are too much conspirarion amd rivalry in the inner circles of military power as it is - get rid of the stabilizing influence of the Kin dinasty and they will be at one another's necks in no time. If radical action is really necessary, then invsion is the only reliable doute. Invade, capture and execute all the leadership.

"If radical action is really necessary, then invasion is the only reliable route. Invade, capture and execute all the leadership."

I see...and what country is going to do all that? Brazil, perhaps? ;-)

Hey, invading and occupying countries run by bloodthirsty dictators *always* seems to work out great for the US. When's the last time *that* wen't sour on us?

Coups rarely turn out well. Off the top of my head, over the last few decade or so we have had coups in Thailand, Honduras, Paraguay, Fiji, Mali, Madagascar, and Guinea Bissau. Tunisia and Egypt too, arguably. Most of those were fairly bloodless, and most of them failed to improve the situation at all.

Specific to North Korea, a coup would be a poor idea. The power structure is opaque so I don't think we would even be able to identify a good candidate to lead a coup. If we could, in all probability they are not actually able to execute successfully (the Kim's have been coup-proofing their state for decades). If they are successful, there's a good chance that they decide they don't want a democracy after all, and recreate the current system. If they do succeed, and they do try to install a democracy at gunpoint, it will likely fail (see Iraq). If it doesn't fail, China will likely launch a countercoup or invasion to prevent unification. Etc, etc, etc there are like 30 bad outcomes that I can think of.

"Coups rarely turn out well."

Absolutely. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But I don't see how anyone can say North Korea isn't horrendously broken. In the 1990s famine, most estimates are that over 1 million people starved to death. And I don't see how anyone can say the present hereditary dictatorship system is never going to end. It's really simply a question of how long the problem will go on, and how badly it will end.

So people who spend their lives thinking about how humanity should use scarce resources to address competing needs should be looking at this problem.

"The power structure is opaque so I don’t think we would even be able to identify a good candidate to lead a coup."

OK, so maybe the solution is to pay all 1.2 members of their military plus all 7.7 million members of their reserves $10,000 each to arrest all military men the rank of general, and named members of the civilian leadership. That would be about 10 million people getting $10,000...$100 billion. That's chicken feed compared to the potential for future damage that an be caused by North Korea under Kim. As I said, economists (assisted by other experts) should be working on the question of how much money would be needed, and which people should get the money.

"If they are successful, there’s a good chance that they decide they don’t want a democracy after all, and recreate the current system."

So tie the payments to setting up a democracy...even a reasonably bad democracy would be a huge improvement over the present.

"If it doesn’t fail, China will likely launch a countercoup or invasion to prevent unification."

I have no idea about the political situation there, but I would think a China bordered by a unified and prosperous Korea would be a much better situation for the Chinese. But if there is some part of North Korea that's very valuable to the Chinese, it seems to me a good deal to split a part of North Korea away, as long as people who want to stay there are treated decently, or given just compensation for leaving.

"Etc, etc, etc there are like 30 bad outcomes that I can think of."

How many bad outcomes can you think of with the current situation? How about the North Koreans giving terrorists VX gas? Or even a low-yield nuclear device? Or Kim Jong-un nuking Seoul? Again, if it wasn't broke, then there would be no reason to fix it. But North Korea is obviously broke, isn't it?

"Tunisia and Egypt too, arguably. Most of those were fairly bloodless, and most of them failed to improve the situation at all". [SNIP}

Bloodless?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuKwpY15lzM&app=desktop

'Coups': did the USA's 'turn out well'?

@Mark

I continue to think that a coup is likely to lead to worse outcomes than if no coup happens.

@Carlos

I'm perfectly aware that the coups were not bloodless. That's why I included "most of these" and "fairly".

"Why does the world allow people like Kim Jong-un to run countries?"

Waging war against the North Korean regime would involve the civilian population of Seoul being at risk of missile attacks, a refugee crisis on a scale even larger than the one involving Syria, and a truly massive reconstruction effort. German reunification was difficult and that involved a much more educated and wealthier society than what North Korea is today. If China and South Korea decided to team up to destroy the North Korean government, it could be arranged fairly quickly. The rest of the world needs to carefully choose its battles, though.

Presumably the whole point of NK demonstrating it has nukes and rockets that can reach Japan is to provide a big deterrent against anyone messing around with the NK government. If the NK regime can demonstrate that knocking it down will end up with Seoul and Tokyo getting nuked, that's probably enough to ensure that SK, Japan, and the US will never do anything to knock it down. I don't know what threats have ever been made openly, but I guess they could threaten to nuke China, as well.

Several points:

1) The Flynn resignation still does not end the Russian election mess. Every third day something comes out to corner Trump and Democrats are still pissed about the entire HRC campaign focused on e-mails. Additionally, this administration leaks like a sieve and have it out with each other. (Notice the leaks on Tillerson who I thought was a good hire.) This Russian & tax returns will be the issue of 2018 to corner Republicans.
2) The liberal protest are working!
3) The hate crime in Kansas with a white shooter against Indian citizens is huge in India right now. Probably does not bubble over too much but the next shooter could kill five people. If we have a mass shooter against minorities I wonder how Trump reacts.
4) I think people are getting bored of Trump's calling the press the enemy. The administration will need the assistance of the press and nobody will trust them.
5) I suspect with unemployment below 5% the approval ratings stay 40 - 45%.

I watched the clip of Trump saying that fake news was the enemy, fair applause. When he said that the press was the enemy of the people, very little applause. Listen 1:10 in.

https://twitter.com/jayrosen_nyu/status/835519334663479296

This idiot says "avoids checks and balances" ,. "petulant". and "not adult" after 8 years of staying quiet through the Obama administration. Talking about every last shred of possible credibility being lost. How long do you have to look to find a bigger joke than this? You really spent time finding a clown like this? Jackass.

I gave you the 1:10 time so you could skip that, go to Trump's remarks.

The status report is that Trump met with corporate execs, the people we were told, rightly, HRC was beholden to, further draining the swamp into the White House. These guys specialize in crony capitalism. It's like Adam Smith asking Mercantilists for their advice or Burke asking Warren Hastings. The State Department is being ignored because Trump has so much expertise in foreign affairs. Shutting out the State Department won't end well. And, of course, leaks are driving him crazy, especially since they're largely from his own administration. There was once a President who was more than competent who let leaks and loyalty issues obsess him to the point that a secret group was formed to handle the leaks. They did a great job, especially on break-ins, changing the entire course of the administration. This won't end well.

CREEP for the win.

Leaks have been from Obama hires still in place. Trump really need a good purge of the scum. Given the state departments record for the past eight years, I'd advise against ignoring them. Listen closely and do the opposite.

I thought this post would have mentioned the

Changes with

Marijuana enforcement.

Are there Marijuana changes yet, or trial balloon?

(Just in, the Snowflake in Chief will not attend the Whitehouse Correspondents' Dinner. No, I don't think such a good week for Trump.)

Knock Knock.

Who's there?

DEA for Libertarians.

Can you do a separate post on Hassett?
All I know is Dow 36000 which is not encouraging. Thank you.

Often the comments are better than the original post. Not in this case. This comment thread was a bunch of 13 year olds on the playground hurling grade school insults at each other. Come on guys, most of you are smarter than this.

Social media is always strange, but MR is strange in its own way.

Imagine leaving just one lonely guy to defend the freedom of the press, in the Jeffersonian tradition, while most adopt the ugly and self-serving lie that entire swaths of truths cannot be believed.

The truths aren't truths. They are fictions. And no one has suggested muzzling the press. Quit lying.

Muffling ears is functionally equivalent to muzzling voices.

Again there is nothing wrong with fact-checking stories, but that is not the same as "don't listen" to half a dozen outlets.

"Trump didnt invite my favorite media corporation to a press event, thats a violation of the 1st amendment. I support increased race and sex based affirmative action, which definitely doesn't violate the 14th amendment."

You personally are the worst, most partisan, most immature, most useless poster here. Cry.

The problem is, we need to have some way to come to a shared view of reality, in order to agree on what to do. The media are the main way we have to come to a shared view of reality. And yet, the media screw up a lot. They're riddled with blind spots, biases, and conflicts of interest. They tend to get locked into a single narrative for some story, and then ignore evidence to the contrary in order to tell the story they want to tell. Their business needs currently are driving them to basically produce clickbait stories to get advertising revenue, trading their long-term reputation for honesty to stay afloat today.

Trump attacking them is self-serving--his very limited understanding of the world is mostly from old media (TV news), with all its pathologies. And Trump and his administration are about the worst source of accurate statements about reality you can find. But the reason the attacks work isn't just because Trump's supporters are all mindless drones--the attacks work because the media really has been visibly failing in a lot of ways, for a long time. That's not just marginal media either, that's the NYT and Washington Post and major network news operations.

A huge amount of what makes a successful or unsuccessful administration comes down to random stuff outside the president's control, foreign crises that happen for reasons internal to those countries, etc.

There is just so much too much happening around the market; it will be hard to really cope with it all, so we just need to be very wise with how we go about working, as even minor mistake can be extremely costly, so we need to make sure we go about doing everything. I can’t be 100% sure, but what I can do is to have solid money management, it’s ever easier under OctaFX because of their brilliant deposit bonus which is up to 50% and is use able.

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