The show so far, a continuing series

1. The situation with North Korea has moved to one of open confrontation.  That said, there are stronger commercial sanctions on North Korea than before, and the attitude of the Chinese does seem to have shifted toward recognizing North Korea as a problem needing to be solved.  For the time being, both the missile tests and the jawboning have stopped, for unknown reasons.  Note that the South Korean and Japanese markets remain high, of course the U.S. market is strong too.

2. Trump has spent a great deal of time with Prime Minister Abe, the real “pivot toward Asia.”  Abe is being treated like the most important leader of the free world — is that crazy?  Merkel is now teetering.

3. The Trump administration has recognized and encouraged a much more explicit semi-military alliance between America and India, also part of the pivot.  China-India relations could be the world’s number one issue moving forward.

4. The apparent “green light” from the Trump administration probably raised the likelihood and extremity of the Saudi purge/coup.  I give this a 20% chance of working out well, though with a big upside if it does.  Whether you like it or not, so far it appears to me this is Trump’s most important initiative.

Just to interject, much of your assessment of the Trump administration should depend on #1-4, and I am worried that is hardly ever the case for those I see around me.  While I do not view the current administration as “good executors” on foreign policy, the remaining variance on #1-4 is still very high and it is not all on the down side.

5. The Trump administration seems to think that keeping production clusters within this nation’s borders is of higher value than shaping the next generation of the world’s trade architecture.  I don’t think they will get much in return for this supposed trade-off, but there you go.

6. I am seeing deeply biased assessments of tax reform, from both sides.  I don’t favor raising the deficit by $1.5 trillion (or possibly more), I do favor cutting corporate rates and targeting some of the most egregious deductions.  I am disappointed that there is not more celebration of the very good features of the plan on the table, that said big changes in the proposed legislation still are needed.

7. In terms of regulatory reform (WSJ), the administration has done better than my most optimistic scenario.  In their worst area, carbon, progress on solar and electric cars is bigger good news than the bad policy news.  And for all practical purposes, the carbon policy of Trump is not much different from that of say Angela Merkel.

8. The suburbs are rebelling against the Republican Party.  There is a decent chance the Republicans will lose the House in 2018, as well as numerous governorships.  Soon we may get a window of a very different Trump, plus more investigations.

9. Various people connected to Trump will be nabbed for crimes and perjuries.

10. Trump has personally “gone after” many political and social norms, but it is not yet clear if they will end up weaker or stronger as a result.  His “grab them…” tape for instance seems, in the final analysis, to have empowered a major rebellion in the opposite direction.  #10 is a major reason why many commentators hate Trump as a person and president, and I can understand that response, but I am myself more focused on what the final outcomes will be and there we do not know.

11. The cultural and intellectual force of liberalism — broadly defined — has been greatly weakened by a mix of Trump and Trump-related forces.  I find this tragic and a major source of despair.

12. I do not favor “a decline in the dignity of the presidency” in the manner we are seeing, but I find many of these criticisms are stand-ins for not liking the substance of what is happening.  I don’t think we know what are the costs (or benefits) are from this transformation of the presidential image.  I could readily imagine those costs are high, but as a sociological matter I am seeing “the dignity of the office of the president has been insulted” as a stand-in for “my dignity has been insulted.”

13. The quality of discourse continues to decline.


Excellent post, I agree with 90% of this and couldn't say it nearly as well.

@msgkings - The first part of your statement I concur with (90%) as well as your second part, a virtual certainty from what I've seen of your comments.

You notice that TC's analysis is always like a retrograde chess problem composition, he deals with and addresses secondary and tertiary effects, the mark of a true chess player. Sometimes in chess you don't make an obvious move but instead make the move that will most create problems to your opponent anticipating your obvious move, or even the move to the move that anticipates this, or, so on ad-infinitum or as deep as you can without compromising your own position (compromise being you never in chess, unless you are dealing with a complete patzer or in hopeless position where you're trying to swindle your opponent, make a move that assumes your opponent will make a mistake). Of course I'm not taking about moving to create an unstoppable mate-in-1, but something less obvious.

You're still here?

"13. The quality of discourse continues to decline."

That's why I asked. It will improve once you go.

+1 for the above exchange, Glad you're still here, Ray.

I continue to be amazed at the numbers of people who remain un-woke to what the entire "carbon" issue is and has always been about. It was never about the environment or global warming. It was always a scam intended to transfer wealth from the West to the socialist world and to bring the West to their economic knees so that a Marxist socialist takeover would be possible.

EVs are so impractical that they require massive subsidies. PV costs 10 times as much per kWh than traditional methods of generating electricity. The alternatives suck and are not sustainable.

What countries make up the "socialist world"

Nowadays, it might be easier to list those that don't make up the socialist world.

What countries make up the Western world, then?

What countries make up the "socialist world"?

Always remember where you stand with respect to the majority. If a majority see an authentic problem, and support solutions .. they might be amazed at the oddball dissents.

Just popping in to insult your intelligence. Yes carbon fuels work better than renewables but they also have serious externalities including climate change. Taking these externalities seriously isn’t a scam or conspiracy. Getting suckers like you to believe that global warming is some sort of incoherent communist plot IS an actual conspiracy theory, but one that works on those motivated to stupidity.

The only practical renewable is hydro. A typical solar/EV generation facility will require more energy (from fossil fuel) to mine and refine the raw materials, manufacture, transport, install and maintain than they will ever produce in their lifetime. Ditto for wind powered systems. There aren’t any practical renewable energy sources (except hydro). There are only those technologies that require massive subsidies and higher energy costs .

Thank goodness Mike Foody chimed in. Tyler Cowen, we need regulations because self-interests don't facilitate good government. We are still such imperfect beings, we require government, especially those who believe we don't. What about all the appointments of officials who will lead their agencies into decline because of their own ignorance? Tyler Cowen, how can you condone that? The overt lack of civility is a truly toxic force in our culture. It will be hard to recover.

So global warming is a *Marxist* conspiracy?

Wow, that's a new one, even for the internet.

Almost everything the left does is done in conspiratorial mode. They are utilitarians who think it's okay to break a bunch of eggs to make their lovely omelet. I had a friend who was active in leftist organizing in San Fran. Recently she found herself working with a conservative group on something or other and couldn't believe how non-conspiratorial it was. She said that back in San Fran they had worked out a counter-move to everything and counter-moves to counter-moves for miles out. Read Saul Alinsky. I have zero doubt that leftists see global warming as a policy lever. Now it may be a real phenomenon and it may not -- not so long ago global cooling was the crisis -- but the left would promote the fear WHETHER OR NOT they thought it was well-based. Gotta break a few eggs ....

Hey GWTW, you're schtick is stupid but you have a better shot at changing some minds if you keep it normal. Don't go full retard. The proper and actually defensible way to fight the radical climate change worriers is to point out that whatever climate change we are seeing isn't that big a deal ( will suck for places like the Maldives and south Florida, etc). Not to go tin foil hat.

Focus on today alone?

"what if a planet's most intelligent species faces a problem which requires just a little more average intelligence, or diligence, than they actually have?"

One approach is to assume there are no such problems, regardless of the math "smart people" try to show you.

Hey, this applies to tax plans as well!

"Don't go full retard."

You really shouldn't use that word -- period. You especially should not use it as a generic term of abuse. The folks you're actually insulting never did anything to you. Invariably the person you're calling a "retard" or accusing of going "full retard" is not nearly as fine a person as many of the folks with intellectual disabilities. There are better ways to insult people.

@Confirmation: yeah, I do see that. My wife especially gets pretty mad when I use the word. I probably should stop, but I can't deny the fact that the scene in Tropic Thunder that the phrase is from is just plain funny.

Pish posh. Climate change is no big deal...if you ignore all the knock on effects, mass extinctions AND the acceleration of the destruction that powers the change. No talking to this attitude. But I will throw in that the points about renewables using more than they produce is valid. The only thing that would actually provide the security, energy and breathing room and additional tools to deal with a changing environment is a sprint to 4th generation nuclear engineering.

Hark! The cronkling of tin foil being folded into a hat...

TO: msgkings
RE: "full retard"
Saw the phrase in a film. Funny, you say.
Reveal your age, gender, race -- or any other characteristic you cannot change and I'll show you "funny."

I've been called far worse both in jest and in anger. I also like Blazing Saddles. You can relax.

Indeed an excellent post, I agree, not because I agree with it nearly as much as you do, but because it is one of those genuinely very well-thought-out posts from a genius, without one of those ultra-provocative stabs. Posts like this are what make me unable to resist reading this blog, in spite of being frequently triggered.

Tyler mostly writes well thought out stuff.

But he has his set of prejudices. And that blinkers his vision and writing on occasion. Those include a fondness for China and a deep seated dislike for India and Indians.

So Cowen is a stealth Sailerite?

As in Steve Sailer?

blinkered (or reflexively ideological) in his view of regulation as well.

I think you are imagining this because you are Indian and you don't like China

I don't think you are tuned in to the issue at all to form an opinion, and are just making a naive guess based on a couple or so of "credibility markers". It may not be a "deep seated dislike" but there certainly is a pattern, not found in, say the writings of Alex, that is curious.

And this is despite the fact that Indian readership of this blog probably outnumbers the Chinese readership by a big multiple.

I liked it.

One note, while "much of [my] assessment of the Trump administration should depend on #1-4," I can't do it.

I see that as randomness rather than design, and who can endorse, or give constructive advice on randomness?

If the Republican plan reduces the corporate tax rate from nominally 35% to nominally 20%, would it also close the loopholes that currently make the 35% rate more like 20-25% already?

"Abe is being treated like the most important leader of the free world — is that crazy?"

Why would it be crazy? Japan is the second largest high income democracy by population and gdp.

Japan is a criminal nation.

Japan is by far the best country in the world.

No, it is not. It is a rogue, racist empire that wants to achieve its mad dreams of wrld domination. They should apologize for their crimes.

Same advice to you as GWTW. If you have a case to make about Japan, make it. Stop being retarded.

The Japanese regime allied itself with Nazi Germany and tried to enslave mankind. Their reign of terror in Korea, Singapore, Indochina, China and elsewhere is well-known. It launched an unprovoked and dastardly attack against America. It incited its subjects against Brazil's governments. They tried to overthrow us. Even today the Japanese regime, unlike the Huns, refuses to acknowledge its crimes. Now it is trying to bully China conquer the Diaoyu Islands.

The Japanese regime is racist, it does not comply with international regulations. It is a rogue regime. Also, Japanese visitors keep slandering Brazil.

Yes, exactly.

Japan has a LOT more in common with US than China, morally speaking.

Yet Tyler has this fondness for China and dislike of democratic, albeit culturally conservative countries like Japan and India

What America and Japan have in common is Pearl Harbor and Batam and, as a consequence, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I shouldn't ask, but when did the Huns acknowledge their crimes?

The German people has recognized the crimes of their Nazist regime and has sought to make amends.

If you are referring to the crimes associated with WWII, the answer is often and honestly.

Yes, the Huns' behaviour has been exemplary.

Americans tend to have a much easier time socializing with Chinese than with Japanese. Japanese are too introverted for American tastes, and Japanese often find Americans loud and off putting. Even in the 1970s Nixon and Kissinger were surprised how much better they got along in person with our Chinese enemies than with our Japanese allies.

I think this is true - some cultures have more similarities than others.

For example, Indonesians tend to be soft spoken, indirect whereas Americans are loud and forward. Chinese are also loud and fairly direct. (Indonesia actually has many cultures: Batak seem more American as well as some Dayak cultures.)

People tend to have a fondness for their servants, and Tyler, since he seems to get most of his calories from strip center Chinese restaurants, is fed by smuggled-in Chinese immigrants who, if that New Yorker article is to be believed, arrive in New York City and as part of the fee they pay, are immediately disseminated in an organized way, to restaurants all over the half the country; dropped friendless in the middle of nowhere, they are daily brought in a van to the restaurant, from the apartment where they sleep four or five to a room, to spend the day being yelled at, until their skills are good enough to gain them some agency.

I was sitting in a strip center parking lot one morning, ahead of an optometrist appointment, when an SUV pulled up and half-dozen young Asians got out and headed in to the Chinese restaurant. Perhaps they are American citizens, and they just happen to room together, or carpool. But the other scenario is the most likely to yield the authentic cuisine Tyler favors, I guess.

It is pretty hard to come up with any other explanation for the presence of pretty young Chinese, whose English is sorely lacking.

I was at a Dim Sum place this week-end and one of the young men busing tables didn't speak English. (Most did...)

I figured he came on a tourist visa or was smuggled.

There is also a large inflow of elderly Chinese. Their college grad kids get them to come to the USA. They get them diagnosed as "disabled" and voila! They can get social security and Medicare without paying anything into the system.

We do get a lot of nice Dim Sum restaurants.


Is your screen named inspired by this guy?

But they are not American.

Yes, the elders get up the earliest to make the doughnuts at our local shop - named the regional equivalent of the "Hello" Donut Shop - while the school-age-looking young folks sell them. Occasionally there may be a sign on the door, on the order of "Due to an emergency we will be closed on September 9th" (this a month out).

They have the lucky fortune to be in a strip center with a hugely-popular children's dance studio as well as a swim school for toddlers, and the tots repair there after their exertions.

"The cultural and intellectual force of liberalism" - it would be better to say that we are witnessing the decline of the enlightenment, and a return to romance instead of realism (Trump speaks an emotional truth, not literal truth, and it seems voters are lining up on whether they agree with that emotional truth).

I'm far more worried about the meta picture - the decline of the enlightment, and the trashing of careful responsible governance (by 'conservatives' more than 'liberals') than I am about temporary deviations around policy, though some of Trump's decision set us back a few years (or bring forward the coming climate wars a few years)

Ronald Reagan was a very “romantic” speaker, yet he generally espoused the message of classical liberalism.

Politics is never going to be just about wonkism (until we change the specie’s DNA enough anyway). It will be mainly feeling over thinking.

Disagree. “Romance”, to use your terms, was the idea that America could absorb without friction over 1 million immigrants year after year after year. It is “realistic” to question bromides and idealism, as well as examine trade deals etc. Too bad it’s a disgraceful narcissist who’s challenging the romance, but that happens.

And yet, the most fervent anti immigration folks live nowhere near immigrants. Amazing how they know so much despite their far distance from the hellish coasts

I'm anti-immigration after living in the midst of recent immigrants. It bothers me to find myself repeatedly in a sea of people who don't speak English, have had plenty of opportunity to learn free of charge, and are likely to become block voters if given citizenship. A person who doesn't speak English cannot read the Times, attend any college, or work in any non-menial job, with minor exceptions. Why must I listen to every message in Spanish rather than Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or Indian? Corporate America is free-riding on cheap South American labor and consumers who don't pay taxes, while the liberal elite cheers the dilution of the electoral base for traditional values. Though individual Latinos, like individual blacks, may have fairly conservative values, when they vote Democrat they elect politicians who oppose those values.

you can be a romantic with any politics. In fact, for some (further away fro the middle), it's necessary. And yes there'll always be a tension between wonkish (if you want to call it that) and feeling... but it's too far over towards romanticism at the moment, all over.

As for being a trade deal sceptic.... same applies. Romanticism on either side. At least now we have a pretty good real world experiment on the table here; it will be interesting to see how Brexit turns out

I don't think Trump has changed much on the climate. The US is still reducing its emissions drastically, but being called the bad guy while Germany, China and India pollute at will and are angelic.

Manmade climate change is a real issue that we need to face face, but pretending that the worst polluters and the clowns at the IPCC are actually doing good isn't helping.

I think that NK stopped the saber rattling thanks to China's change in stance. Trump's generally has been doing a good job in avoiding Thucydides trap by just allowing China to take leadership position in many fields such as clean energy/climate change, dealing with North Korea, making up space removing the US from international organizations like Unesco, abandoning the Transpacific partnership, etc. At this rate after 8 years of Trump, the world will have transitioned fully to a Chinese hegemon without any major conflict.

llowing China to take leadership position in many fields such as clean energy/climate change, dealing with North Korea, making up space removing the US from international organizations like Unesco

I am sure there is an appropriate fairy tale to tell here. But I can't tell if it is B'rer Rabbit begging not to be thrown into the briar patch or B'rer Rabbit smacking the Tar Baby. Oh please China, please do take a leadership position in clean energy and UNESCO!


Surely only a nation as AUGUST and POWERFUL and WISE as ALMIGHTY CHINA, can assume the leadership of these IMPORTANT FIELDS in climate change and the UN. Despite the slight and no-doubt negligible costs that might, to a lesser power, seem daunting and the benefits, though doubtless real, appearing mostly spiritual....


Let us not forget that the people of Africa who have been so cruelly oppressed by Western neo-colonialism need their Chinese big brothers to come forward to help them upwards towards Development and Industrialization. So let us hope the One Belt, One Road is only the start and soon they have the One Plantation, One Mine program as well.

To which African leaders will no doubt respond with their own traditional One Swiss Bank, One Panamanian Law Firm scheme.

Sadly, China is not that stupid. They aren't taking the lead in climate change. Chinese research is not dedicated to climate, their targets are above forecast emissions reductions and they are the saviour of the global coal industry.

The Europeans and the American left are so desperate to hitlerize Trump that they have decided China is a climate hero and China is happy to wear the undeserved crown.

"They aren’t taking the lead in climate change."

By "taking the lead", US liberals mean the Chinese talk a good game. Nothing to do with actual efforts.

Yes, that is exactly right. The liberals and in particular the IPCC are very happy to let China emit carbon, as long as they don't emit criticism.

I believe that man-made climate change is a real issue, but that the IPCC is a fraud.

China is investing 700 billion dollars (in PPP terms) on renewable energy. Soon, the Chinese renewable energy generator capacity will be larger than the US's total generator capacity. Also, the fall in the price of solar panels over the last decade was mainly due to Chinese subsidies on the solar panel industry, now China makes 90% of the world's solar panels and more than half of the world's wind turbines. China is also investing heavily on electric cars and already is the world's biggest producer by far. Saying China is not serious about climate change and clean energy is ludicrous and ignorant as they are by far the world's biggest driving force in expanding renewable energy capacity. Surely China are the world's biggest CO2 emitters but that's mainly because of their massive industrial output (Chinese manufacturing value added is over twice of the US's in PPP terms) but their CO2 intensity to GDP has been decreasing quickly over the last 10 years, much more quickly than the US's.

Global warming is currently the world's most serious problem and it is China more than any other country that is moving towards solving the problem while the US choose to ignore it like an irresponsible spoiled child.

There's a lot wrong with your comments.

"China is investing 700 billion dollars (in PPP terms) on renewable energy."

Measuring renewable energy investment in PPP terms makes no sense. These are large capital projects involving hardware that has a global market. It's not locally grown food or a hair cut. A solar panel in China has the same dollar value as a solar panel in the US. There might be some portion that is subject to purely local labor. But it's clearly just a small fraction of the value.

"Soon, the Chinese renewable energy generator capacity will be larger than the US’s total generator capacity. "

Right. And so what? China has 4 times the population of the US. They certainly exceed the US in toilets and phones also.

"Global warming is currently the world’s most serious problem..."

Not it's not. Hunger and disease are far worse. So is war and famine. It's doubtful if global warming breaks the top 5.

" and it is China more than any other country that is moving towards solving the problem while the US choose to ignore it like an irresponsible spoiled child."

The US has been increasing it's renewable power generation steadily for decades. The cost of renewables has dropped to the point, that it's highly likely that this steady increase will continue. Indeed, assuming that technology can provide economic energy storage, all countries will switch to renewables over the next 30 years. The US will be one of those countries.

But in the mean time, the world will be full of people denying that renewables work even though they clearly do. And other people demanding we do something about carbon emissions, even though it's obviously a self correcting problem.

I am far from ignorant in this case. I have worked on solar project in China myself. I shouldn't really respond to a comment that is basically and ad hominem attack plus a bunch of

But China's advances in solar are almost cruelly and economic activity, not an activist one. Renewable energy is the primary source of all global new power development and China is developing a lot of new power. Nothing more to it than that. They are also, as I noted the primary global proponent of coal.

There is really only one reason why anyone could believe China is a climate leader - they hate Trump so much they need to elevate anyone else and try to make him look bad at every occasion.

> #10 is a major reason why many commentators hate Trump as a person and president, and I can understand that response, but I am myself more focused on
> what the final outcomes will be and there we do not know.

Yes exactly. So we should just ignor the tweets.

>The cultural and intellectual force of liberalism — broadly defined — has been greatly weakened by a mix of Trump and Trump-related forces.

Since "liberalism" these days means "the selfish preferences of the urban libertine elite + Wall Street + Silicon Valley" this is a wonderful thing. Decent people who think that it is wrong to bring in drag queens to induct children into the dogmas of cultural relativism are finally managing to push back against the "liberal" goons trying to impose their nihilism over everyone.

> I find this tragic and a major source of despair.

I hope you are being Straussian.

> I do not favor “a decline in the dignity of the presidency” in the manner we are seeing,

What it means that the presidency is now "the voice of the people" against Congress and the unelected bureaucracy - which are basically looking out for the interests of the urban libertine elite and corporate lobbyists. That's why Oprah is the best and likeliest Democratic presidential candidate for 2020.

> The quality of discourse continues to decline.

Blame network neutrality. If people paid for their information with money rather than personal data, where would we be today?

"Blame network neutrality. If people paid for their information with money rather than personal data, where would we be today?"

I don't understand. Why would this change things?

Conservatives, being more rural, would be subject to more extreme rent seeking, ie, they would pay far more to use the internet.

The denser the liberals in urban area, the more options for internet access and higher bandwidth at lower prices.

Tip: every time, you see someone ranting about "cultural relativism", be sure you are dealing with an idiot who can't understand not everyone shares his (literally) tribal code.

Thiago, why can't you take of your Brazilian troll clown nose and post like this more often?

Because being Brazilian informs my opinions.

Does being a troll do so as well?

No, because I am not a troll. I am a follower of the teachings of the Prophet.

I heard Trump's budget slashed funding for the drag-queen relativism indoctrination program. As a card-carrying member of the urban libertine elite, I am going to call Congress.

"Trump has spent a great deal of time with Prime Minister Abe, the real “pivot toward Asia.” Abe is being treated like the most important leader of the free world — is that crazy? Merkel is now teetering."

Abe's new significance can't be underestimated. The most recent election gave him two new mandates: 1) to rewrite parts of the constitution that limit Japan's military capability; 2) to undertake economic reforms that had been blocked by a number of narrow interests including the agricultural cooperatives.

So, 1) consider that the world's 2nd and 3rd largest economies (China and Japan) are next door to each other, and the latter is about to re-arm after 70 years of being legally constrained by a pacifist constitution (and also that US grand strategy has in the past consisted of playing regional powers off against each other) ;

and 2) consider that the world's third-largest economy is about to open itself up to trade and investment in a big way and undertake significant economic reforms.

Add to that the following: Japan is now looking like the world leader in trade liberalisation. The EU-Japan FTA looks close. The TPP looks close (Canada aside -- boooooo). It is steering the RCEP in the right direction (even though it may not deliver much). Sure, they don't want to do a bilateral with the US and are unlikely to after getting burned by US steel negotiations in the 1980s under Reagan (and the one who did most of the burning was Robert Lighthizer ....), but we are potentially looking at a resurgent Japan in the Western Pacific. Interesting times.

1) Japan's GDP is 4th after India

2) What does it mean that Japan is about to "re-arm"? Go nuclear? But what do you think 1 percent of the GDP has been spent on for decades?

India only comes in high if you adjust for PPP (and China comes in way bigger than the US or EU under PPP). India's GDP is smaller than France if you convert to USD.

His “grab them…” tape for instance seems, in the final analysis, to have empowered a major rebellion in the opposite direction.

Right person, wrong reason. It's because of Trump that sexual harassment has been able to revive its 1991-1992 salience (Anita Hill, Tailhook, Bob Packwood). But that's not because of the tape, that's because, by denying Hillary Clinton the Presidency, he eliminated Bill Clinton as someone the Democrats had to protect. Now that the Clintons are a spent force in Democratic politics, the left can say things they wouldn't have dared thirteen months ago.

It's dishonest to keep calling it the "grab them" tape instead of "they let you grab them" tape. Half of the outrage about the tape was fueled by the public airing of this uncomfortable truth, and it is amply evidenced by the recent brouhaha around certain male entertainer personalities.

You're trying to make it sound like he asked before he did it. There's no "let them" if you just walk up to someone who ain't expecting to be grabbed and you grab them. Weinstein and Trump likely both believed the women who weren't coming out with these allegations were "letting" them do those things, when really they were abusing their power and intimidating the women into silence over non-consensual relations.

"If you're a celebrity, they let you do it"

- The "they" in "they let you do it" is not the "they" who is the owner of the p.

It is entirely consistent with Trump's statement that

a. You (the rich, powerful, famous guy) grope or kiss women hanging around you for your celebrity.

b. You think they like it/are consenting, because they say nothing and don't respond with an immediate "What the hell" or slap across the face, maybe even keep on hanging around with you.

c. They put up with it, thinking "Shit! The last thing I need is this guy as an enemy. Maybe if I put up with this crap now, he'll even be willing to give me some help later on. Better put on a fake smile and pretend nothing happened."

I don't claim any deep knowledge, but this is how I imagine this happening pretty often, when the power/fame imbalance is large enough.

Those are Trump's words, not the words of the women who have accused him of sexual assault. They don't feel like they let him- they feel like he did it, and at the time, their lives would be harmed more by calling him on it or bringing it to other people's attention. Power imbalance is a hell of a thing.

+1 to albatross and Nick

When the universities started up with their "ask at ever stage of the interaction" requirement, I wondered if there was in the universe someone who actually did this. Have I found him? Tell me, do you ask before every caress? Do you think that the majority of men in this world do? Do you think that no woman has ever been pleased by a man's taking the initiative in sex?

My comment above was intended as a reply to Nick.

This conversation reminded me of Georges Bataille (The Story of the Eye):

"To others, the universe seems decent because decent people have gelded eyes. That is why they fear lewdness. They are never frightened by the crowing of a rooster or when strolling under a starry heaven. In general, people savor the "pleasures of the flesh" only on condition that they be insipid."

"You’re trying to make it sound like he asked before he did it."

You're trying to make it sound like he did do it. He was commenting on the power of being a celebrity, that they would let him do it if he wanted to. 1. He never said he does it, and B. If they allow it, it's consensual.

"You’re trying to make it sound like he did do it. He was commenting on the power of being a celebrity, that they would let him do it if he wanted to"

How could he be sure he could get away with it without having done it previously? OK, to be fair, the same way he knew he xould shoot someone and not lose votes.

13. The discourse was very rarely "high quality." The 50's, 60's, and 70's were the aberration, we just don't realize it because the people complaining about the discourse weren't alive before then. I'm not entirely sure how partisans blog are any worse than the party news papers of the early 20th century.

Discourse in the 80s and early 90s was fine also. You could go to a bookstore like Shakespeare & co. and read intelligent opinion magazines (New Republic was actually readable and not at all braindead) and mainstream magazines like Newsweek and Sports Illustrated actually contained decent writing. The decline began around 1993 with the "dumbing down" trend.

The New Republic was excellent at its best and worth skimming at its worst. But I don't know what to say about it now, other than it's four tiers down, next to Slate.

In truth, the decline was very gradual.

People have noticed that even Salon actually had decent articles in the late 90s.

"People have noticed that even Salon actually had decent articles in the late 90s."

Absolutely. I actually used to read Salon before it became an ideological rag sheet.

Interesting. How about the descent of The Economist? I'd have said ~1995 was about the start of the decline.

Of course the media getting worse may simply correspond with ourselves growing up. What looked like wisdom two decades past now seems self-serving bromides.

Scientific American was usually held in high regard until the early 90s, which happened to coinside with a new editor. So there is a case where growing up wasn't the cause.

If discourse and governance were so much better in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s, it seems hard to ignore the end of the Cold War as a cause.

Fair point. In the absence of an existential threat, the factions will squabble more.

This is very observant.

As an anti-communist moderate, I get upset at the squabbling, even when I know I shouldn't. We should chill. Obama was not another commie and Trump won't be another Hitler. There have rarely been better times in the history of our species to be alive.

+100 to Thor, Brian Donohue, and all the others with no fire in their hair.

Trump served up a dozen disqualifications for office in 2016. He will surely go down as the worst president, ever. So why even form such sentences as "not Hitler?"

There is, and we hope there will remain, a distance between the worst President we can imagine "and Hitler."

For the first time in the nuclear age, the military has had to reassure us that they won't follow an illegal order from the President.

But let's say anyone concerned about that kind of thing has their "hair on fire" and say to ourselves "this is fine."

> the carbon policy of Trump is not much different from that of say Angela Merkel

No, it is quite different. Independent of one's views about climate change and the effectiveness of action taken to reduce it, Trump is moving away from such action and Merkel is continuing it.

Agreed. And the difference in embracing fracking and nuclear energy rather than the turmoil Merkel put her country through is a big plus for America.

"No, it is quite different. Independent of one’s views about climate change and the effectiveness of action taken to reduce it, Trump is moving away from such action and Merkel is continuing it."

I think you are missing Tyler's point. Merkel moving toward action and Trump moving away from it are both largely ineffective. The result isn't that far different. You'll notice both countries still have a large (but gradually shrinking) number of coal plants.

The result is different. The US is reducing its emissions, Germany is increasing its.

and Germany spent a fortune subsidizing Chinese firms to make solar panels which created a ton of emissions, but on someone else's balance sheet.

And then installed them in cloudy Germany instead of say, donating them to Nigeria or some other poor sunny locale where they could have done more good.

I have a different read on the combination of #10 and #11: the loud voices criticizing Trump for his various misdeeds and his attack on the norms are just cover for the major mobilization of the "progressives" that in order to succeed actually needs Trump to continue to exist in his current form: outrageous and ineffective. As long as he's there, these forces will grow stronger and more numerous, and, per Engels, those quantities will ultimately transform into qualities.

#12: Living in a country with no popular respect of its institutions sucks big time. Your wife can tell you all about it.

" am disappointed that there is not more celebration of the very good features of the [tax] plan on the table,"

This is silly, and/or politically naive, on several levels. First, lots of people (on all sides!) disagree with you as to what the "very good" features are. So, no wonder there is not more celebration. But now, suppose I agree with you on a fair number of them, but think they make up, say, 30% of the plan, and that they other 70% is bad, and has a much larger effect than the parts I like - the good will be swamped by the bad. Should I "celebrate" the good parts? Probably not - my support for those parts will be used as support and cover for the plan over-all, and I'll end up worse off, from my perspective, than if the plan doesn't pass at all, given that it's unlikely that my support for those parts will lead to _just_ those parts, or even _mostly_ those parts passing. When you mix this (rather obvious) point in with the first one, it's clear why you see the pattern you note. But then, once that's the case, this point is either silly or an intentional bit of misdirection. I am honestly not sure which.

I don't think so. We've gone from an administration where everything is a power play, like your thinking reflects, to a negotiation. Rather than getting something shoved down your throat, this is an opening bid. It makes sense to agree to the things you like and complain about those you do not. This is how deals are made that benefit everyone, through negotiation.

Trump has the presidency and the two houses, but has he ever got everything he wanted? No, everything has been has been a compromise. I wonder if his opening bid was ever what he really wanted. I bid $25k on a $40k car knowing full well that the negotiated price will be somewhere in between. Or maybe a better analogy is asking for heated seats when I don't want them so I can negotiate it away later.

"I don’t think so. We’ve gone from an administration where everything is a power play, like your thinking reflects, to a negotiation. Rather than getting something shoved down your throat, this is an opening bid. It makes sense to agree to the things you like and complain about those you do not. This is how deals are made that benefit everyone, through negotiation."

Is there any evidence that this is the case? Especially on tax reform; it seems unlikely that Trump administration has any policy preferences beyond 'less taxes for Trump', and no role in policy formation or getting the votes needed to pass it. For better or worse, McConnel and Ryan are in the driver's seat. And thus far their tactics have been secrecy, speed, and 'shoving down your throat'.

We've been debating the details for months and there have been several changes in response to differences in opinions between the House and Senate. So opposite of what you said. I think you're thinking of Obamacare where you have to pass it to read it. there any actual evidence that the current bills represent some kind of "starting point" for negotiation? The healthcare reform bills passed exactly like this - with few people, even in the Republican party, knowing what was being negotiated until the last minute - with as little chance for public pressure as possible, and no renegotiation once the effort failed. The House tax bill was incredibly rushed, having been produced and voted on in two weeks, in theory to be passed by the end of the year, and with very little actual public debate.

There's little reason to think that major revisions of the bill will happen at this point - there simply isn't time, if they want to keep on schedule.

"I do favor cutting corporate rates and targeting some of the most egregious deductions."

If the corporate tax changes were consistent with that, ie, eliminating deductions for labor cost and lowering the rate to 15%, ie, a 15% VAT, then much business tax complexity disappears, along with the tax advantage of offspring jobs.

But instead the GOP is increasing the rewards on job killing, especially replacing jobs in the US with jobs in China.

After all, if the business tax rate were 50% or 75% instead of 35%, paying US workers with 100% of offshore profit/revenue would result in zero tax due. In the US, labor costs are a tax deduction and not subject to business profit taxes.

Conservatives see Amazon and Tesla and SpaceX as tax cheats because they create jobs so fast their employee counts go up 30-50% every year, but they pay not Federal taxes, but don't need tax havens and other complex offshore structures, by paying all revenue plus some to workers, and none to shareholders. Yet share prices keep going up. Meanwhile competitors suffer at the mercy of shareholders, and must work hard to keep Federal taxes payments low.shareholders want workers fired, but that increases tax bills which shareholders don't like.

But the GOP is promising to cut tax bills even while workers are being fired, which really pleases shareholders.

Labor costs are a deduction because they are an expense, and SpaceX isn't paying taxes because it isn't making a profit. You would expect a grocery store would be able to deduct cost of goods sold, why couldn't they deduct wages paid to their employees?

If you want a dignified Head of State opt for a Constitutional Monarchy and then cross your fingers. Your Presidents are just politicians, often shabby politicians: jfk and lbj, for instance, were simply bad men with few redeeming characteristics. Nixon was less bad but dreadfully flawed.

Your most recent three have been odious. Clinton, in addition to his probably being a rapist, was the chump who began fomenting trouble with Russia. W launched the "let's have a strategic disaster" war on Iraq. Obama was the teleprompter reader who made the unprovoked attack on Libya and started the unprovoked US war on Syria. Even the braggart oaf Trump may be an improvement on those three duds. Just thank God you didn't lumber yourselves with the vile Heillary.

If you want a dignified Head of State opt for a Constitutional Monarchy and then cross your fingers.

Sometimes that works out. Sometimes it doesn't. Take the case of Thailand. The late King was a mildly brutal autocrat with approximately no fondness for his own peasants at all. Which still leaves him miles ahead of his son, the present or soon-to-be King, who may or may not be dying of HIV. There is certainly little in the way of sexual misconduct he has not been credibly accused of and is probably guilty of doing.

Dignified he ain't. Like the tats though.

The late King was a mildly brutal autocrat with approximately no fondness for his own peasants at all. Which still leaves him miles ahead of his son, the present or soon-to-be King, who may or may not be dying of HIV.

He wasn't an autocrat at all. Thailand was for the most part governed by it's military from 1932 to 1979 (with occasional parliamentary interludes), in a power-sharing arrangement between the military and elected officials from 1979 to 1993, by parliamentary politicians from 1993 to 2006, and by the military with parliamentary interludes the last 11 years. Your inclination to comment self-confidently on things you know nothing about is most amazing.

Thank you Art. I know you mean well but this may not be the right battle for you to pick.

The idea that the military, and the small clique of businessmen located in Bangkok who controlled most of the political parties, did anything that the King did not like is an interesting one. You do know that none of these people dared approach the King except on their knees?

Thai politics has always been about the King, those businessmen who have his favor, and the military who obey his orders.

I need only repeat: Your inclination to comment self-confidently on things you know nothing about is most amazing.

The idea that the military, and the small clique of businessmen located in Bangkok who controlled most of the political parties, did anything that the King did not like is an interesting one.

It's also the truth.

You could imagine electing two people--one an executive intended to run things, one with a mainly ceremonial role whose job was to be a symbol of the US, and who would have some limited political power alongside that role. Sort of a cross between the current roles of the VP and first lady, maybe with a side-order of some of the elder statesmen types we still have hanging around (Carter, the elder Bush).

The elections of Obama and Trump both had big elements of electing a symbolic figure--Obama in particular had zero relevant experience (he was an amazingly successful president, given his complete lack of previous relevant experience), but made a lot of voters feel good about America. The last couple decades of Trump's life have been about image and brand, and it's pretty obvious nobody elected him for his detailed policy proposals.

If we had such a system, would we get better people running the executive branch? Like, we end up in 2008 with Obama as the public face of the US government, and Hillary Clinton as chief executive? (There's not much in Hillary's record that suggests she'd have done well in that role, but she at least had a lot more relevant background knowledge.) In 2016, I'm not sure how we'd have ended up.

" W launched the “let’s have a strategic disaster” war on Iraq."

A risible comment. The roots of failure in Iraq extended as far back as the Democratic takeover of Congress in January 2007 and absolutely no further. The initial mission in 2003 was targeted and goal-oriented. Given the scale of the mission, the operation was executed superbly with an extraordinary degree of military professionalism and far-sighted management at the political level. Insurgency began in earnest only after the Obama administration decided to bungle the operation by second guessing career generals and undermining morale. George W. Bush was a head of state far surpassing anyone who has sat at the Court of St. James in anything approaching the last few centuries.

The large number of deaths between 2004-2006 and the sectarian civil war in 2006 we're caused by what? Cindy Sheehan?

Also, that we're should be were. I blame autocorrect.

It was a war, expect deaths. For a war this one had amazingly little deaths. By 2008 there were headlines that there were fewer death in the Iraqi war than a weekend in Chicago.

Art Deco:

No, you're just wrong.

The invasion was done about as well as anyone could have imagined, but the occupation was a mess long before Obama had any power at all.

This order was probably one of the big starting points of the trouble. Though we have a pretty long history of invading places and then having trouble with insurgencies, so maybe it was inevitable. We invaded Afghanistan *before* Iraq, and we're *still* there.

"but the occupation was a mess long before Obama had any power at all."

And it got a lot better before Obama got in. It was probably the most peaceful time in the middle east in 50 years.

What the fuck are you talking about? The insurgency was over before Bush left office. Obama didn't have jack to do with it.

Always nice to hear from an alternate universe.

It’s true. The “insurgency” (really a combination of Shi’a militia attacks funded by Iran’s IRGC, Sunni Baathists in a marriage of convenience with oil funded Salafis, and a large number of local criminal networks that made money from drugs and ransom) was basically pacified by 2009.

The strategy of local JCOPs inkblotted in population areas, key word being joint, had resulted in urban areas in Iraq being safer than Baltimore or Chicago. Co-opting Sunni tribesmen and buying off the “marsh Arabs” helped. Most of all, Iraqis are decent human beings who love their children. And once the priority to actually protect people became número uno, the population came around pretty quickly.

We turned that into ISIS throwing gays off rooftops. Shame on us. Obama burned a bridge that 10,000 Cairo speeches cannot undo. But hey we expanded Medicaid.

The Iraq War was the worst policy decision this country has ever made. Completely unforced error. Bush/Cheney was a catastrophe, and the Dems "me-tooism" was almost as bad.

The Iraq War was the worst policy decision this country has ever made.

You'd benefit from perspective.

BTW, you want Uday or Qusay?

I wonder what the people who lived through a couple years of civil war, and then under ISIS for a couple years, would answer to that question.

Wow, you're right. There are probably a dozen countries around the globe with tyrannical rulers and loathsome heirs-apparent. We should invade/nation build all of them.

Art's so partisan he can't even stop defending the indefensible. It was Team Red so it's fine.

"The Iraq War was the worst policy decision this country has ever made."

Classic prisoner of the moment comment.

How many dead Americans due to JFK killing Diem and LBJ then blundering in Vietnam?.

50,000 dead Americans. Vietnam is still communist.

Korea, also not so smart: we could have avoided a casualty count lower than Iraq merely by including them in a list of places we'd protect.


Well, the defensive perimeter comment was intended to be in the context of a "If WW3 starts", so I'm willing to give that a pass.

On the other hand, if MacArthur had stopped "UN" ground forces at the narrow neck of the Korean Peninsula (which is north of Pyongang) and set them up defensively (using only RoK ground troops north of that neck), the worst that would have happened in late 1950 is the Chinese occupying the mountainous northernmost part of North Korea that only had 10% of the peninsula's population, while Korean unification without Chinese intervention and any of the post Nov-1950 deaths would have been possible.

A big part of the reason the Iraq War was worse was because we had already been through Vietnam. We ought to have learned our lesson. But we've still learned nothing, which means the next war will be an even worse decision.

"The Iraq War was the worst policy decision this country has ever made."

LOL, while not a shining point, the Iraq War is hardly the worst policy decision ever made. Are you seriously trying to say the Iraq War was worse than the Vietnam war? Or the Slavery Compromise of 1850? Or the Banana Wars?

It's only because it's recent in politics that anyone would consider that a remotely reasonable statement.

OK, I'll dial it down. The Iraq War was the most gratuitous and unforgivable unforced error in our nation's history. Completely ginned up. Hand-waving purposeful conflating of Bin Laden and Hussein. Don't see how the history books spin this other than How could the American people be so dumb as to get talked into such a half-assed story?

I agree that the Iraq War was a horrible decision.

But your context is wrong.

The Senate passed a regime change bill in the 1990s. The U.S. government was planning on taking out Saddam for a decade.The U.S. didn't blunder or fake its way into Iraq. It was planned all along. It was sold poorly, but a better or worse sales job wouldn't have changed the end result.

The Left was mosreresponsible for conflating Hussein and Bin Laden, not Bush. It was bizarre watching it at the time, but the louder the Left screamed "Why are we attacking Iraq? Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11" the more the public believed there was a link. The only "link" made by the Bush Admin was a general argument that we can't sit around and wait for a major terror attack and then act. They conflated the threat from Saddam and Al-Qaeda into one broad threat of Islamic terrorism. If journalists and Democrats went on TV today and said, "We shouldn't appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton because she didn't murder children and eat them as part of a Satanic ritual," a steadily rising percentage of Americans would believe Hillary Clinton was eating children as part of her Satanic rituals. It is hard to overestimate the stupidity of the general public.

8, +1000.

It's amazing how quickly peoples' memories change.

"The Iraq War was the worst policy decision this country has ever made."

Don't be hysterical. We will be whacking murderous tyrants for centuries to come, especially when they are doubly or triply odious: they gas their own people, they start wars, they invade our allies, and they threaten us, trade, and their neighbours.

Except the murderous tyrants who do our bidding will be rewarded. We'll even through in the gas they use on their own people - so long as they are useful for us in a pinch. Of course if they ever cross us then we can puff up like the self-righteous cuckolds we are and pretend we really cared about all their nastiness all along.

Oh dear, I thought you were one of the smart ones until you used the 'c' word. What the hell does the Iraq War have to do with cheating wives?

We literally had chattel slavery. We took over the Phillipines. We invaded Afghanistan.

We didn’t demand that Alliance powers give up their colonies in WW1 as a precondition. We did that again in WW2. A mistake with horrific worldwide consequences as communism took hold unnecessarily.

We supported the Soviet Union instead of letting the two great evils destroy one another.

We defunded the ARVN and refused to assist a corrupt but free country because white liberals had feelings. Talk to Vietnamese immigrants. Humanitarians my ass.

Iraq doesn’t make the top 20.

A "[c]ompletely unforced error"? Our set of available choices were:

1) Maintain the containment of Iraq with troops in Saudi Arabia -- and continue to provoke the series of terrorist attacks (Khobar Towers, US Embassy bombings, USS Cole attack, 9/11) from those ubjecting to US troops on Saudi soil.

2) End the containment of Iraq by withdrawing our forces, leaving the Arab Peninsula subject to conquest by Saddam Hussein, making him personal suzerain of half the world's oil.

3) Overthrow the Hussein regime, allowing us to end #1 while avoiding #2.

Compare this to, for example, our deciding to annex the Philippines rather than simply allowing them to declare independence, which not only killed more people than the Iraq War, but also caused major underlying tension with the Japanese, all without the excuse of dead Americans or a dangerous dictaor potentially becoming an economic power.

Or, for example, Wilson, over the objections of a bipartisan coalition for real neutrality, turning the US into the nonbelligerent ally of the UK in WWI, which ultimately got over a hundred thousand Americans killed, caused the Spanish Flu epidemic, set up the rise of Hitler, and opened the door to the horrors of Leninism and Stalinism.

*waves white flag.

I'm calling uncle here. Tapping out. I don't agree with all of the replies but I reckon I deserve the dog pile.

Anyway, the Iraq War was dumb. Really really dumb. Catastrophically, unnecessarily dumb. The shake-out will run for another decade at least.

ur an alright dude brian

I just can't help myself.

Big Black Cock

Apparently, health care/insurance as a political issue is no longer important to those you see around yourself? Really?

Well, Tyler Cowen already has health insurance, so it's all good.

Could you elaborate on the upside of the coup in Saudi working out well? Just watched the 60 minutes piece on Yemen yesterday, I don't see how anything regarding the current political situation in Saudi Arabia is helping to improve the humanitarian situation in this country. If anything I see it leading to more and more conflict. Is this what we want?

Even if we were to beat Iran into submission it'd take a while.

As for Japan, don't count necessarily on Abe getting a full fledged repeal of article 9.

You didn't mention the Philippines. Are improved relations with Dutarte a good thing for the world? Do you see him becoming less violent thanks to President Trump? If not, then what are the goals of US foreign policy? (Other than simply findng leaders that oiur president can get along with!)

I feel that this post seems to value power just for powers out of works leaders. Is this really all we care about anymore?

I don’t think the well being of Yemenis factors much into whether the power grab in Saudi Arabia (by a young and vigorous man, rather than a sick 80 year old) works out.

America is not the only actor in the world.

Saudi Arabians do things for their own reasons.

While America slept, it was defeated by the Russian bear.

Good post, imo

Were we aware of a N Korea nuke program when China won most favored nation trading status and WTO membership?

I think Trumpers r correct to ask why the US seems to have deindustrialized more rapidly than Japan and Germany, and r correct to privilege scissor-making or steel-making over haircutting, because manufacturing has had special roles in historical development, war, and innovations in manufactured products. To me it seems correct to have myriad redundant teams at work on growing mpg. Good pop lit on y this happened?

The US manufactures more physical stuff today than at any point in history...but it's robots doing the work, and less and less people. Especially war machines, we still make plenty of those.

It’s actually a neat trick. We can say the US manufactures more stuff by what % value we weigh certain things.

Garbage in garbage out.

Bottom line is that American workers are too expensive compared to Mexico. So we can do the automated and high tech stuff here. The blue collar jobs move elsewhere but we still literally count the value added here.

We also produce more from our farms by orders of magnitude, and employing far fewer people than in the past. So we have the neat trick working for us there too.

We have a very productive Ag sector, yes. Adjusted for prices it is less impressive.

However, I am not sure you are intimately familiar with the games in "Made in USA" labeling. We also conduct itra-firm trade with nations with a VAT, so if MSGKINGS is a corporation it can be beneficial to make it look like the most value added is in a country that does not tax such things!


"I think Trumpers r correct to ask why the US seems to have deindustrialized more rapidly than Japan and Germany,... "

The U.S. hasn't deindustrialized faster than Japan or Germany but at about the same rate since 1970 up to 2010 (the last year on graph below) but Japan a litte faster. Japan and Germany started with a higher percentage:

Good link. I'm glad they added the world figures in there too. It's not like we're losing manufacturing to another country, the whole world has reduced manufacturing to a small percentage of GDP. Only looking at your own country clouds thinking.

"The U.S. hasn’t deindustrialized faster than Japan or Germany "

That's not what your graph shows. All 3 have deindustrialized, but the US had dropped significantly more.

US 13/24 = 54% of it's 1970 level
Japan 20/25 = 57%
Germany = 18/32 = 56%

It's pretty clear that the US started from a lower base and has dropped faster.

Huh? I said that the US started from a lower percentage but look at your numbers again that shows near parity over a 40 year period.

As an aside, I had a typo Japan should have been 20/35 (but the 57% is correct).

To the point, There's a statistically big difference between 13% US and 20% Japan or even the 18% from Germany. Yes, all have dropped.

But the US started from a lower base (in 1970) and has dropped faster.

This isn't that hard...

For those who worship disruption, Mr. Trump has delivered. Unfortunately, it's disruption that may prove to be catastrophic. That's the assessment of one-time Trump supporter Peter Thiel. That Cowen would offer this "not catastrophic yet" assessment reflects two things: (1) Cowen is still enamored with disruption (nos. 1 through 4) and (2) Trump has successfully moved the bar as to what is considered acceptable even if outrageous conduct (nos. 5 through 13). My view is that Trump has to be viewed through the prism of America's rather checkered history of less than admirable leaders. One who idolizes Andrew Jackson may be misguided but why not idolize the myths that are uniquely American myths. Order and stability are the top priority of the conservative; America is not conservative in spite of what some may claim. Up is down and down is up. In the context of the recent financial and economic crisis, I would argue that the actions taken by the Treasury and the Fed (beginning with the Bush administration) were conservative, as the intent was to restore order and stability. Yet, those actions have been criticized by self-described conservatives as being radical. No, radical would have been to let asset prices plummet, hit their natural bottom, and then (hopefully) recover, setting the stage for a robust economic recovery and long-term growth. Ask Cowen and Cowen's colleagues at Mercatus Center if they are conservative or radical. You say you want disruption, well be prepared for disruption of the radical kind. Up is down and down is up.

Re: 6 (Tax reform):

"...that said big changes in the proposed legislation still are needed."

...and many minor changes, from the special exemptions for tree cutting to the taxation of student stipends (which have the potential to ruin graduate education, particularly in the sciences.) But without serious committee hearings on and revisions of the legislation and the immense pressure from the White House and certain lobby groups, the instruments for making any changes at all have been severely limited, in most cases eliminated.

Tyler at his most maddening. I have to think that he throws all of this nonsense into one post to reduce the likelihood of being called out.

It's simply false to say that there is "open confrontation" with North Korea, and indeed almost insultingly obtuse in light of the state of confrontation that had actually existed between the Koreas for decades.

"Not all downside" to North Korea ceasing missile testing or a closer relationship with Japan and India merits a Captain Obvious tag.

Tyler over-reads a single headline about India, and "semi-military" is the tell; if you can't actually describe what you assert to be happening, then it's probably not happening.

The Saudi Arabia point is simply conspiracy theory. Note the inability to cite evidence.

On sexual harassment, Trump's rise has exposed gigantic hypocrisy among his critics. Attempting to cast these disclosures of wide-ranging misconduct as a brave "rebellion" falls somewhere between tone-deaf and downright ugly.

To the extent that norms are being broken, I think Trump is a symptom of the obsolescence of those norms, rather than a cause. I also think Tyler has the source of the objections to Trump backward, at least among never-Trump Republicans. He's pursuing their goals, but not doing so tastefully. I also think there is a large fear of success among Republican politicians, who prefer to be in opposition.

Concern about the dignity of the presidency carries a lot of tribalism. People in the other tribe remember "bitter clingers," "deplorables," "the Stinkburger, or the Meanwich," "Republicans want you to die," and "if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," and they don't remember it as an era of elevated discourse.

Concern about the dignity of the presidency carries a lot of tribalism.

The tribe in question would be haut bourgeois types schooled at private research universities and private colleges with a certain cachet. Most are admirers of BO. It's a reasonable wager the vociferous NeverTrump brigade largely consists of people with similar emotional reactions and personal tastes (though not entirely, of course). Bush - pere and Bush - fils spent 8 years limiting their remarks to ceremonial occasions and club settings whose proceedings were undisclosed (but lucrative for father and son). Now they find it necessary to 'speak out', as does Mitt Romney, who hasn't been obtrusive in recent years. Rank and file Republican voters get a sense of what really irritates these people, and it isn't anything to do with injuries to our interests. Scroom.

+1, I was going to point out how weak some of Tyler's points were.

"4. The apparent “green light” from the Trump administration probably raised the likelihood and extremity of the Saudi purge/coup."

I haven't seen any evidence of a Trump "green light" for a Saudi purge.

"I haven’t seen any evidence of a Trump “green light” for a Saudi purge."

Supposedly Kushner met with the new Crown Prince shortly beforehand.

Not positive he actually did but those are the reports. How people know what he talked about is your guess.

'I do not favor “a decline in the dignity of the presidency” in the manner we are seeing.'

I heavily favor a decline in the *importance* of the Presidency. The president should be a clerk executing policy, albeit with some immediate powers, like the power to blow up the world, which augment the role. If debasing the dignity of the office is a necessary step to debasing the adulation of the office, then I'm all for it.

Interesting idea. Abide by the U.S. Constitution.


Despite all the PR, we don't generally get all that impressive people in the presidency.

Clinton was a smart guy with amazing charisma and no morals.

W was a well-intentioned guy, in way the hell over his head, who also got some pretty bad cards. (Katrina would have been a disaster under any administration.)

Obama was a reasonably bright and well-intentioned guy who got the job 20 years before he was ready for it.

Trump is a lifelong publicity-hound and blowhard with little understanding of any policy details at all.

There's this weird civic religion of making these guys into some kind of paragons of ability and wisdom. They're not--they're politicians. At best, they're reasonably competent and well-intentioned and things go well for them. Sometimes, they just get clobbered by events outside their control (the trope-namer here is Hoover--anyone who was president when the Depression hit was going to look bad). They're generally not all that wise or intelligent, and they're usually about as moral as the average national-level politician (like a used car salesman with a better suit).


+1, but then, where are the 'all that impressive' people if not leading nations? Maybe this is the best we can do.

Hear, hear.

I'd probably give Obama a slightly better assessment (call it 10 years too early, rather than 20) and I think most Presidents have been pretty intelligent - though very few have been exceptionally so. But we do expect entirely too much of the President, and we blame him for things that are outside anyone's control.

Calling the President a "clerk executing policy" is probably understating things, even as an ideal, but some perspective is certainly in order.

One of the problems is that we don't separate the ceremonial President from the Executive, like, say, Israel. The second problem is indeed the "weird civic religion" described above. My favorite example of this is The West Wing. In Sorkin's original proposal, you were never going to see the President at all. But the public wouldn't have it, and suddenly the all-seeing all-wise Martin Sheen became THE PRESIDENT and got more screen time than anybody else. The news media also make it a lot worse, because it's so much easier to describe politics as the extended whim (and battles) of the Father of the Country, direct democratic descendant of George Washington. He never should have taken the job.

The weird civic religion is not the problem. The decision to treat the President as a supermonarch is a problem. (1) Quit with the PR ballyhoo. Don't announce the President's movements beforehand unless he has a public engagement; recall that Harry Truman traveled abroad 3x in 8 years, and act accordingly; recall that FDR averaged 2 'fireside chats' per annum and act accordingly; cut drastically the number of public engagements domestically, especially the fundraisers; end the use of official aircraft for vacation travel and party-political engagements; reduce the number of planes at the president's beck and call to the two Gerald Ford made do with. (2) End post-presidential perks; gather the archival material in the Presidential libraries in a records center in Kansas City and deed the plant and equipment over to the counties where they are located; end presidential security details 12 years after they leave office; have 'presidential papers' be the property of the National Archives unless they be diaries written in longhand; limit retirement benefits to a purse consisting of a % of their stated compensation over 4 years; ban Gerald Ford style cashing in; (3) eliminate the quasi-elective vice presidency; have a succession law in place which incorporates a long list of executive officials starting with the cabinet secretaries; such would occupy the presidency for an interim period until the state legislatures could convene to elect someone new.

"Charisma' once meant someone with unusual inspirational ability - Buddha or Christ - not some oily pol who talks in applause lines. That Bush was 'in over his head' is an article of faith with Democrats and palaeotrash. And that's all it will ever be. As for Obama, there is no indication from his work history over the period running from 1983 to 2007 that he would have ever occupied any office which might have prepared him for the presidency given another 20 years. His time in legislative bodies, academe, and law practice have one thing in common: an absence of discrete accomplishments.

If you want to reduce the 'importance' of the presidency, do the following: (1) eliminate the executive veto. Limit the executive's role in the legislative process to negotiating and submitting treaties, producing drafts of administrative rules to be vetted by the Senate; and composing appropriations bills in reserve (to go into effect when the House cannot finish its work on time). Limit the Senate's role to vetting and recomposing administrative rules and have a smaller Senate elected by the House delegation in each state.. (2) have the state legislatures elect the president, and require all candidates be between the ages of 60 and 72 on the day of the election (old men with circumscribed ambition) (3) end presidential re-election; have the president serve in office until a mandatory retirement date (say, to a given day during the calendar year he turns 76); grant the House a franchise, which they need not exercise, to set up a parliamentary ministry once the president has been in office for 5 years, leaving the President with some residual powers.

Thank you Jonathan and albatross for these comments. Great points about the demigod-like status that winning the presidency confers to people who are essentially just skilled politicians. Changed the way I think about this. Thanks!

Tyler, 1-4 are all important but outside of the US. Trump campaigned on internal issues. MAGA, satire intended, but not as Trump intends it.
The fact that ALL the major, important domestic problems and issues (and a corporate tax rate really isn't one of them) of which there are legions:
- healthcare (which itself is a can of worms), extreme unequal wealth, expensive and inadequate education, skill set mismatches, continuing gun violence -
have either been ignored, brushed under the carpet, addressed but only with the vaguest gesture of seriousness, or completely unacknowledged.
These are the NECESSARY things, and Trump has absolutely FAILED at all of them.

Yes, he's crass and a horrible example of a human being, but he's failed. His instincts are almost always the opposite of what should happen.
Most of the time, Trump's not EVEN wrong: his premises and his beliefs are at odds with how the world really works and how people really behave.

He's incompetent, and he's dividing the country and brings out the worst of people.

There is this thing called 'the Congress of the United States'. Perhaps you've heard of it..

Succesfully terrorizing the undocumented community is his most significant policy achievement so far; weird you did not even mention it.

Are you trying to characterize partially enforcing the laws on illegal immigration as: "terrorizing the undocumented community".

If so, that's some Orwellian verbiage there. Why don't you actually try to speak in terms of specifics instead of vague platitudes.

Ok, “immigration enforcement policy is now explicitly trying to create fear among [your preferred term for people not authorized to be here] by, among other things, targeting more immigrants not convicted of crimes, and it is having big effects on the [your preferred words] community.”

Hopefully that meets dips*** pedant standards.

A pedant would say illegal immigrants and note that by definition, they are committing a crime by being here. Not sure how getting the basic facts straight is dips*** though.

Because my actual point is “Trump has done some immigration policy stuff Tyler should talk about.” I don’t care about the dumb cultures war argument of wether I phrased it too sympatheticly or hostilely to undocumented/unauthorized/illegal immigrants and think its pedantic and dumb to make it about that.

'undocumented community' and 'terrorize' are rhetorical thrusts. You're dishonest twice over.

Does the law of the United States declare that immigrants who are here illegally may stay here if they break no laws? Does the law make any distinction at all between those who break laws and those who do not with regard to deportation? Are we a nation of laws agreed to as a nation or of "policies" dreamed up by individuals?

"undocumented community "

Lawbreakers you mean.

When we cracked down on the Mafia, were we "terrorizing" them?

Being in the US as a foreign national without valid documentation is usually a civil infraction, not criminal. Technically they may be lawbreakers in that the law says they can't be in the US, but they generally only go through civil immigration courts with no jury.

Add some provisions to the federal penal code and haul them in front of a federal JP who will sentence them to 10 weeks in jail living on Bulgar wheat. That done, deport them after recording their biological markers and debar them from entering the United States for six years. Jack up the penalty by 20% each subsequent time you catch them.

Oops a rare mistake on my part "Add some provisions to the federal penal code and haul them in front of a federal JP" should read "Add some provisions to the federal penis code and haul them in front of a federal BJ". My apologies.

I'm just an obsessive old house wife who can't help myself

I'd like to help myself to some big black cock please!

Here, have some of mine!

"Being in the US as a foreign national without valid documentation is usually a civil infraction, not criminal"

It's a criminal infraction.

"Under federal law, it is a crime for anyone to enter into the US without the approval of an immigration officer -- it's a misdemeanor offense that carries fines and no more than six months in prison."

A presidency is both style and substance, and there is going to be turmoil when we switch from a high style low substance president to a low style high substance one.

If you take Trump the man out of the equation, foreign policy has improved immensely. As Tyler noted, we are actually trying to do something about NK, and using China as a tool to do so. Also mentioned, bolstering the Japanese as a check on China. Best move was to take Syria and ISIS seriously and give direction to a meandering policy. Trump allowed the generals to lead and this approach has show impressive results. The change in tone with Iran speaks for itself, but I'm not sure if we can ever undo Obama's damage there.

You've got to be kidding. Trump is no style and no substance.

Tylers :"While I do not view the current administration as “good executors” on foreign policy, the remaining variance on #1-4 is still very high and it is not all on the down side."

I'm not sure there is a good execution of foreign policy. It's always a compromise where no one got everything that he wanted, or at worst, war. Like war, it will always be ugly.

Anyone care to comment on why China-India relations have been so strained? It seems to me that China should be close with India instead of Pakistan; the two powers combined would be a titan. Instead they keep sniping at each other.

Man, that is one stupid comment.

Very good stuff.

On #11, I suspect you are relying on vagaries surrounding how the term "liberalism - broadly defined" is interpreted to appeal to a broader swathe of readers than it really ought. Words like "tragic" and "major source of despair" warrant further elucidation IMO. Whatever you are getting at here, I'm pretty sure Trump is more a symptom than anything else.

The Roy Moore vote will be interesting. Basically the right wing gets to decide if craziness is a bug or a feature.

Newsflash: they already have and they've embraced crazy all the way.

Newsflash update: The election hasn't happened, but it looks like Moore will lose.

I don't believe in convicting somebody based upon heresay. That being said, I think the standard for electing someone is a lesser standard. It would be better for the country if Moore were to either lose the election out right, or to win and resign and allow the governor to appoint a replacement Senator.

My problem is with #6.

I don't think you can start from false premises ("$1.5 trillion in debt is good") and arrive at justified conclusions ("but we do need tax reform").

If it digs that kind of hole it can't be sober, well designed, tax reform.

It can only be a policy bomb.

Most of these projections are over 10 years, so last time we had a deficit around $150 billion it was in 2007 (161).

Last 10 yrs has averaged 840 billion. Or more fairly, the last 5 years, after the crisis, averaged $570 billion /yr.
$150 is a deal.

What kind of person averages over a Great Recession?

Hence the last 2 sentences. But, the $150B is additional right

I don't think TMC understood the "additional" and neither of you put in context of a mature economic expansion.

One simply does not hobble future fiscal policy or build in structural debt before the next recession.

The trillion and a half is an increase in the deficit, not the actual deficit itself.

The cultural and intellectual force of liberalism has been weakened, by liberals. Trump is part of what ensues, not the cause. Much like white identity is a side effect of injustice since the 60s. If you take away private property, freedom of association, and write into law various ways of making all sorts of people 'protected' while this one group of people is not protected, eventually that group of people is going to start getting upset about it.

The liberal (both classical and idiot) ignored the injustice. Yes, sure, sometimes a libertarian would mention it in passing, but Gary Johnson just said 'racist' over and over again- like that was going to help. And now there is this constant retarded disavowal, often by the very people who were supposed to be governing correctly in the first place. This displays a true lack of nobility.

Nobility is a tough sell. The bureaucrats thoroughly defeated the noble class, moved on to the kings, and now appear to be constantly replacing 'we the people' with new people, so that they never have to deal with a sovereign capable of holding them accountable for their actions. Bureaucrats are unsustainable, though.

The best answer for you comes from Nicholas Kristov.

"My Sunday column, just posted, argues that conservatives preach family values, but liberals often do a better job living those values. And, yes, I'm bracing for an angry reaction!"

Nick Kristof is the intellectual bankrupt who once described the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as his son's "birthright".

OMG, you got him. How unreasonable that anyone would want "nature" for a future generation.

It's hard to find an Inupiat that considers Central Park in Manhattan his children's "birthright".

Read more.

And your point is?

A family would need to be pretty effed up for that to be true.

Someone I am subscribed to in my feed reader blew Kristov out of the water with actual facts- probably before I got out of bed in the morning. I should go track it down and tell you who it was, because he deserves some kudos for being more energetic than me. Me, I just look at this stuff and remember leftists are totally cool with abortion and birth control, so they can hide all their mistakes.

But even if Kristov were right, liberals have still shot themselves in the foot. I.E. Kristov is not relevant to my point. This is just something you were aching to reply to someone you perceived of as conservative with, as if we cared.

Maybe it would help if you pondered alt-medicine. The medical system in America is seriously screwed up. People are kind of pissed off about it. I know I stay the hell away from doctors after having bad experiences, even to the point where it ends up costing me more money. So people are trying to solve their own problems, and they are sick and tired of the mainstream medical garbage, and you can't tell me it's only right wing crazies doing it.

If you think about, you'll realize it's basically the same thing. Similar injustices- because there's major interference in medical care, and awful incentives set up by the government, which encourages various companies to do things that are not in your best interest. And some of the alt-medicine it totally nuts; some actually pretty good. Just like the alt-politics stuff. But in the health world it is easier for you to perceive the injury, so you are less likely to hate the person trying to remedy their situation.

You led with the problem being liberals being weak, I answered with them leading good lives. I think that does matter, as does anti-gay Republicans being secretly gay, anti child trafficing Republicans being secret child traffickers.

It starts to look like a serious problem on the right where they believe values are just signals, and as they set no real standards for themselves.

They cry at being called deplorable as they keep on being deplorable.

Why isn't #5 (anti free trade) above the interjection (i.e. a major component of our assessment of the administration)? Abandoning TPP and the pending decision on NAFTA seem like they deserve consideration as major changes by this administration.

TPP was dead no matter who won.

I've certainly heard it argued that Hillary would have tweaked TPP and then accepted it.

Even if Hillary would have entirely backed out as well, that would have been a major decision. Just because both Hillary and Trump would have made the decision, that does not absolve either of them from making it.

What about NAFTA?

"What about NAFTA?"

He has not done anything yet. Just talked.

If (a big if) he actually withdraws, the refusal of Canada and Mexico to reject all US demands without any counteroffers whatsoever will be just as important.

Good post.

A US-Japan-India alliance is more than enough to check Chinese ambitions.

Basically, we are re-creating the Entente Cordiale to check Wilhelmine Germany.

What good is Japan in the South China Sea? What good is Japan with the road & belt initiative and in Africa?
This is like the Entente Cordiale consisting of Great Britain and Portugal.

The Japanese Navy may be quite useful in the South China Sea.

Chinese spending in Africa and the Mideast is a boon to the US. Waste without benefit.

You know Germany was in Africa and sent military advisors across the world to buy influence. Did not help them.

I'm pretty sure you're making someone's point here, but I don't think it's the one you're trying to make.

If the point is that Tyler Cowen is a gay Beta cuck snowflake it’s absolutely the correct one.

You have to wonder, when someone says "discourse" which discourse they mean. Cable news? It absolutely continues to decline. Econtwitter? I think there you have to be a bit more selective. Reaction and analysis coexist in a different way.

I assume "discourse" does not include MR comments. Lol.

1. This seems like an accurate assessment of the current situation.

2. Abe and Trump do seem to get on well, and that's a good thing - but how is Abe the "real leader of the free world?" Who treats him that way? Trump? I also have a hard time with the idea that the "real pivot towards Asia" centers around Japan, a declining power in the region.

3. This is mostly good.

4. How is the Saudi purge "Trump's most important initiative?" Even if his administration was OK with it, it wasn't their initiative, and I frankly don't think what happens in Saudi Arabia is especially significant long-term.

5. OK

6. This is a good critique of coverage of the tax plan. That said, it's still a bad plan and I think people are rightly wary of the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans getting something so complex anywhere close to right. (I'll add that while removing some deductions is probably a good idea, I think those removals should be phased in as a matter of fairness and - correct me if I'm wrong - I believe in this plan they are not.)

7. I probably mostly disagree with Tyler on regulations. I also fail to see how Trump's carbon policy is not much different from Merkel's, unless by that you mean they both don't really have one (which is at least arguably true).

8. This seems accurate.

9. Probably, yes.

10. I do think there is a good case to be made that cultural backlash against Trump will end up strengthening these norms, but it's hard to say with any confidence right now.

11. Agreed.

12. While it may technically be the case that we don't yet know the impacts of this shift in the presidential image, I have an extremely hard time imagining any potential upside. Best-case scenario, it doesn't matter much. I also don't see this point about the conflation of presidential dignity and your own personal dignity, or why this should even matter: obviously, one's own conception of what constitutes "dignity" will heavily influence evaluations of whether the President is behaving in a dignified way.

13. Agreed.

For anyone who would like a review of "Russia" without excess speculation, I suggest:

ehh. "However, each of these bombshell revelations has the effect" Bombshell? Trump Jr. released all the correspondence and it was pretty boring. They wanted to have some influence with Trump like a million other organisations, but got three vague replies. Boring read.

That's funny.

These Russian contacts are only not "bombshells" if you never believed Trump's original claims of no contact. If you believed firing Comey was "because Hillary."

So "Trump is a big liar, boring we all knew that?"

The conversation is about wikilinks, not the Trum campaign talking to russia. Your link's author is talking about the campaign aiding and abetting the russians by even responding to wikilinks. How is that? The hack was already done, Trump Jr was providing nothing at. His responses were even vague. At least what wikilinks published was true, actual emails from Podesta as compared to the Clintons paying for a fabricated dossier that came right from the russian government. Your values are seriously out of whack.

“Liberalism, broadly defined”—what is that? We need a clear specification of your (broad) definition before deciding whether to share your despair.

"Just to interject, much of your assessment of the Trump administration should depend on #1-4, and I am worried that is hardly ever the case for those I see around me."
Yeah, 'cause this statement is utter non-sense. You are missing the big picture.

Ah, to be wealthy and privileged enough to dismiss the entirety of Trump’s domestic legacy. Compassionate blind spots must be nice! Or at least morally simplifying.

"the entirety of Trump’s domestic legacy"

...which is?

Did he really give odds that the Saudi house cleaning won't "end well"? This being Saudi Arabia we're talking about, right?? (#4) Wow.
Did he really claim that we don't know "the final outcomes" of Trump's presidency?? (#10)
I wonder if he suffers from the delusion that he's gonna live forever - or perhaps he expects to be looking down from heaven to make these determinations (when?).
And as for #11, he really must be depressed. I think Trump was a natural result of the Economics Wizards failure to explain (to the American public) just exactly how the USA can provide good jobs for the vast majority of the middle-class (believing themselves to be entitled to good jobs). The mantra "more education" completely failed to address the fact that fewer and fewer college graduates have actually had a better education than the average high school graduate of a couple of generations ago. (That's my polite way of saying that formal education simply just doesn't work for most adults. There's a normal distribution in the ability to absorb factoids in a classroom setting. You're just not going to see Joe Assembly line and Jane Salesfloor to get PhDs in neurocomputation. Ever.

"That’s my polite way of saying that formal education simply just doesn’t work for most adults. There’s a normal distribution in the ability to absorb factoids in a classroom setting. You’re just not going to see Joe Assembly line and Jane Salesfloor to get PhDs in neurocomputation. Ever."

+1, I used to buy into the retraining / higher education mantra. But the evidence doesn't indicate any significant improvements beyond the level of education the US reached 20 years ago.

You’re just not going to see Joe Assembly line and Jane Salesfloor to get PhDs in neurocomputation. Ever.

Long ago we used to hear the ignorant masses out on the farms would never master the complexities of the industrial world.

Distributions change, sometimes for reasons that are second- or third-order effects. Back when 90% of people farmed, who would have believed we could thrive with only 1% of the population farming?

At some point advances in neurocomputation may themselves enable Jane or Joe to pursue a career in neurocomputation. One reason we have so many programmers today (more than farmers by some counts) is that programmers have written so much code that makes learning and performing programming easier and more effective.

The masses have not adapted well at all to the complexities of the industrial world. Headlines say that 1 in 4 women take mental health meds. The rise of mental illness has skyrocketed. Our world is not normal or healthy.

"The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in “advanced” countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world."

You can go back to living in the forest if you really believe that. Few seem to agree.

The rate of mental illness as diagnosed by First World doctors today would probably be 90% or higher among preindustrials. Much of what they consider normal would horrify First Worlders, as anyone who visits the few remaining preindustrials can easily find out firsthand.

"Long ago we used to hear the ignorant masses out on the farms would never master the complexities of the industrial world."

Employment in the industrial world was readily available to person with an IQ of 85.

Employment in the post-industrial world looks like it will require an IQ of greater than 100. No amount of training is going to compensate for that.

Employment in the industrial world was readily available to person with an IQ of 85.

Ha, maybe 5-10% of the preindustrial, subsistence-farming population could achieve 85 on an IQ test, at best. Most could barely read.

No amount of training is going to compensate for that.

The Flynn effect isn't just training, and future advances will probably accelerate it.

"The Flynn effect isn’t just training, and future advances will probably accelerate it."

That's a good point. I hadn't considered it but according to Wiki:

"Trahan et al. (2014) found that the effect was about 2.93 points per decade, based on both Stanford–Binet and Wechsler tests; they also found no evidence the effect was diminishing.[8]"

Maybe Average Isn't Over.

10. Not really sure what it means but one thing it indicates is that the opinions of the collective aren't any more in touch with reality than the opinions of any single individual. Sociopaths like Bill Clinton, maybe Moore, for sure Franken, Packwood, Wilbur Mills, Barney Frank, Teddy Kennedy and many others keep getting elected as paragons of virtue in the faux democracy of 300+ million where most people don't know the guy who lives two doors down the street but is expected to make an intelligent choice on the predator that's going to design his health care and taxes. The decision being based on the labors of professional flacks like David Axelrod and dopey partisan media pretenders such as George Stephanopolous.

I don't think anyone ever voted for Bill Clinton on the premise that he is/was a paragon of virtue.

LOL, The man was accused of multiple accounts of sexual harrassment and at least one count of rape.

You must listen to Fox if you think that is unique.

Well now that's a new approach to justifying support for Bill Clinton.

"Sure he's a rapist, but all President's are. If you'd just stop listening to right wing media you would know that."

Thanks for making my point for me.

Well if your point was that partisans will ignore that type of behavior, yes you are correct. Both Trump and Clinton prove that point.

I am seeing deeply biased assessments of tax reform, from both sides. I don’t favor raising the deficit by $1.5 trillion (or possibly more), I do favor cutting corporate rates and targeting some of the most egregious deductions. I am disappointed that there is not more celebration of the very good features of the plan on the table, that said big changes in the proposed legislation still are needed.

"Deeply biased?" Or accurate criticism? Is the plan not dramatically tilted towards the wealthy? Is it "biased" to say so? Will the plan not reduce Medicare by $25 billion, so the junior Trumps and their ilk - already the beneficiaries of massive wealth they did nothing to earn - can inherit many billions instead of just a few?

Does it not tax tuition waivers, thereby severely damaging graduate education? Well, I guess Ivanka needs the money.

#13. Low quality discourse -- perhaps partly because so few, including here on MR, are willing to compare Trump in practice with Obama in practice or a likely Hillary in practice.

On #1, N. Korea, the Democrat plan was ... wait until N. Korea gets nukes AND ICB Missiles and then ... what? Yearly extortion? Huge payouts? yechh.
Military? With admirals & captains more interested in transgender rights than avoiding collisions?
Many folk don't even know how we "dodged a bullet", and there still might be a lot of nastiness.

One of my Trump supporting friends says that Trump did not lower the dignity of the presidency, that some of his predecessors (LBJ, Nixon, Clinton) talked worse that him but in private and we are better knowing what kind of person he is, than ignorant.

Disagree with #11. Profoundly. Progressive liberalism as a thought experiment is cancer. Now, if we are talking CLASSICAL liberalism, that would be a source of despair.

But no one advocates for classical liberalism right now.

No tax reform needed, really. Just raise individual rates above 250K, capping sched C flow through, and reduce corporates to %25. Include a repatriation holiday and allow larger capex deductions (2 million 179, and shorter lives for factory equip, not qualified for bonus and 179: 3/5 years rather than 5/7 years). Allow accelerated capex deductions to yield larger carrybacks, as well as carryforewards. Done deal. Peachy!

13. The one constant.

#11: your alleged weakening of “the cultural and intellectual force of liberalism” is contradicted by your assertion in #8.
#12: trump's is not a "transformation" of the presidential image, it's a aberration.

When you say, Dr. Cowen, that "big changes ... are ... needed"-- as opposed to 'big changes ... would be desireable' -- I take it you mean that you do not support the plans in their current state. Is that a fair conclusion?

Since the winners write history the rules keep changing. Like clocks that have stopped and are right twice a day, everyone in a debate about definitions of reality (symmetrical escalations for you communication wonks) gets a chance to be “right” and “wrong” as the pendulum swings.

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