Joining the winning team

I’m just repeating the whole article because there is nothing that I want to leave out. It’s from Steve Hayward at Powerline on Trump is starting to spook the left. No one is getting tired of winning around here and some are starting to come across.

Did anyone happen to catch David Brooks’s latest column, “Donald Trump’s Lizard Wisdom,” in the New York Times? I about fell out of my chair, because Brooks almost tacitly admits that maybe he was wrong about Trump. Referring to Trump’s experience dealing with the mobbed-up New York construction scene in his long real estate career, Brooks says:

And yet I can’t help but wonder if that kind of background has provided a decent education for dealing with the sort of hopped-up mobsters running parts of the world today. There is growing reason to believe that Donald Trump understands the thug mind a whole lot better than the people who attended our prestigious Foreign Service academies.

The first piece of evidence is North Korea. When Trump was trading crude, back-alley swipes with “Little Rocket Man,” Kim Jong-un, about whose nuclear button was bigger, it sounded as if we were heading for a nuclear holocaust led by a pair of overgrown prepubescents.

In fact, Trump’s bellicosity seems to have worked. It’s impossible to know how things will pan out, but the situation with North Korea today is a lot better than it was six months ago. Hostages are being released, talks are being held. There seems to be a chance for progress unfelt in years.

Maybe Trump intuited something about the sorts of people who run the North Korean regime that others missed.

The second piece of evidence is our trade talks with China. Over the past few decades, the Western diplomatic community made a big bet: If we all behaved decently toward Chinese leaders, then they’d naturally come to embrace liberal economic and cultural values and we could all eventually share a pinot at the University Club.

The bet went wrong. . .  The president has pushed back harder on the Chinese and has netted some results. After some Trump swagger, Xi Jinping promised to “significantly lower” Chinese tariffs on imported vehicles.

About Trump’s policy toward Iran, Brooks adds:

Maybe Trump is right to intuit that the only right response to a monster is to enclose it. Maybe he’s right that when you sense economic weakness in a potential threat, you hit it again.

Please don’t take this as an endorsement of the Trump foreign policy. I’d feel a lot better if Trump showed some awareness of the complexity of the systems he’s disrupting, and the possibly cataclysmic unintended consequences. But there is some lizard wisdom here. The world is a lot more like the Atlantic City real estate market than the G.R.E.s.

I imagine that Times readers must be freaking out about this. (I can’t find the comments section on the Times redesigned web format.) Now, Brooks is not a leftist, But Willie Brown, the legendary for speaker of the California State Assembly and mayor of San Francisco, and one of the smartest politicians in America, certainly is a leftist, and he wrote this yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Trump Is More Popular Than Dems Want to Admit

It’s time for the Democrats to stop bashing President Trump.

It’s not going to be easy, given his policies and personality. It might even mean checking into a 12-step program. But setting a winning agenda is like maneuvering an aircraft carrier. It takes time to change course. And if they want to be on target for the November midterm elections, the Democrats need to start changing course now.

Like it or not, a significant number of Americans are actually happy these days. They are making money. They feel safe, and they agree with with the president’s protectionist trade policies, his call for more American jobs, even his immigration stance.

The jobs growth reports, the North Korea summit and the steady economy are beating out the Stormy Daniels scandal and the Robert Mueller investigation in Middle America, hands down.

So you are not going to win back the House by making it all about him.

If Brown is saying this, you can bet he’s on to something, and knows his party is poised to blow it.

Bonus: Later in his rambling column, Brown tells this interesting story:

Cruise control: Got into a taxi the other day, and the cabbie promptly introduced himself as “Cadillac Jack.”

“I’ve owned 29 Cadillacs, all of them new,” he said, and proceeded to tell me about each and every one of them as we drove across town.

Finally I had to ask.

“How old are you?”

“Sixty,” he said.

“How did you manage to go through 29 Cadillacs?”

“Well, you know, if you don’t pay for them, they take ’em back.”

What would a property developer know about foreign policy?

What you will only see on Fox.

President Trump calls into ‘Fox & Friends’ to discuss Ronny Jackson’s withdrawal, Michael Cohen and the possible North Korea summit. Also, the president says he is disappointed in his Justice Department, calls Comey’s book a big mistake and thanks Kanye West for his support.

And then there’s this, a truly astounding news story. In which of our traditional trash media outlets will you find this featured?

 
Meanwhile on the Iranian front.

TRUMP: IRAN MESSED WITH OBAMA, THEY DON’T MESS WITH ME… 

ISIS trying to foment wave of migration to Europe, says UN official…

Khamenei urges Muslim nations to unite against America… 

MAYOR: PROTEST TRUMP’S VISIT TO LONDONISTAN! 

Macron: Trump to withdraw from Iran deal  

 

Who knows? Maybe the worms really are turning

NeverTrumpers: What if Trump really is making America great again?

They are afflicted with a nagging suspicion. Trump might, how shall they whisper it, Make America Great Again.

The tax bill has given the economy a bit of a tailwind, most Americans have more money in their pockets, and corporations have greater incentives to step up spending and to bring some funds home. The NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada likely will be revised to America’s advantage. The president’s decision to punish Assad for crossing the red line that Obama refused to enforce is popular and his decision to defer to his military advisers and keep the response targeted so as not to induce a response from Russia has met with broad approval. His threats against North Korea—my nukes are bigger than your nukes—appalled the fastidious members of the establishment diplomatic community, but have Kim Jong-un claiming to be willing to negotiate a peace treaty with South Korea and détente with the United States.

Then there is China. Trump has done what previous administrations failed to do: forced China to make some concessions, opening at least a crack in the wall it has erected against imports. Majority-owned American financial firms will gain entry into several sectors, and tariffs on made-in-America automobiles will come down, while the United States tightens restrictions on intellectual property theft by the Chinese regime, in part by limiting China’s ability to buy tech-heavy U.S. firms. Even dyed-in-the-cotton-apparel free-traders are now conceding that the president’s negotiating tactic—threaten to bring down the international system, unless it gets fixed—is working. And should have been tried administrations ago. . . .

So here is BT and AT:

Before Trump, Assad could use chemical weapons with impunity; after Trump, he pays a steep price. BT, China could plunder American intellectual property and disregard the rules of the trading system that it has manipulated in its rise to power; AT, it fears Trump’s tariffs sufficiently to begin modifying its unfair trading practices. BT, Russia could wage cyberwar on the U.S. electoral system without fear of response from America; AT, Putin and his oligarch cronies find themselves being cut off from access to the world financial system. BT, the economy was mired in sub-trend growth; AT and his tax cut, growth is up. BT, in the post-war years most presidents projected a dignity of sorts; AT, presidential dignity is not even considered a virtue.

The above is via Instapundit. The one below is from The Guardian! The ‘deep state’ is real. But are its leaks against Trump justified? where the answer is no. This is the subhead:

Even the most severe critics of the US president should worry about this subtle form of anti-democratic abuse

And worry you should. These are the concluding paras:

The whole intelligence collection system – which has an importance that far transcends its undoubtedly large importance in this discrete context – is vulnerable here for the simple reason that the intermixture of politics with intelligence collection is the intelligence system’s Achilles’ heel.

If surveillance comes to be seen through a domestic political lens, with domestic political winners and losers, the intelligence community will have a very hard time acting with needed public credibility. And that in turn means it will have a harder time doing what it needs to do to keep us safe.

Maybe, but only just maybe, there might be a bit of realism finding its way through. There are plenty of problems to be dealt with, and for a change there is a president who not only wishes to fix things, but has actually shown that he might just be able to. Would be nice if others began to see an advantage working with him on things they can agree on, and not just opposing what he is doing just because of who these things are being done by.

AND THERE’S MORE: This is via John Hinderaker at Powerline: CANDACE OWENS’ MOMENT: I’M NOT FAR RIGHT, I’M FREE

Which also includes this:

Yesterday morning, Kanye West tweeted his approval of Candace:

KANYE WEST

@kanyewest

I love the way Candace Owens thinks

And if you go to the link there’s much more as well.

“Without me, they wouldn’t be discussing anything”

Stormy Daniels is still news, but this barely raises a ripple: US and North Korea holding ‘extremely high level’ talks ahead of Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un.

“We have had direct talks at very high levels – extremely high levels – with North Korea,” Trump said.

“We’ll either have a very good meeting or we won’t have a good meeting,” he added. “And maybe we won’t even have a meeting at all, depending on what’s going in. But I think that there’s a great chance to solve a world problem.” The president did not answer shouted questions about whether he has spoken with Kim.

Kim’s offer for a summit was initially conveyed to Trump by South Korea last month, and the president shocked many when it was announced that he had accepted. US officials have indicated over the past two weeks that North Korea’s government has communicated directly with Washington that it is ready to discuss its nuclear weapons program.

Abe, who has voiced fears that short- and medium-range missiles that pose a threat to Japan might not be part of the US negotiations, praised Trump on Tuesday for his bravery in agreeing to meet with the North Korean dictator.

“I’d like to commend Donald’s courage in his decision to have the upcoming summit meeting with the North Korean leader,” Abe said.

Trump took credit for the inter-Korean talks, saying, “Without us and without me, in particular, I guess you would have to say, they wouldn’t be discussing anything.”

Time Magazine does, however, find the right sort of nincompoop analysis: Will Trump Make a Bad Deal With North Korea?

You never know, but he’ll likely make a better deal than anyone else has since 1950. But it is a funny thing that I share one worry with the media and the left: whether Trump will make it for another seven years. The difference is they worry that he will and I worry that he won’t.

Rumours and fake news

For myself, the most interesting thing to learn was that it was a “one-night stand” and thus hardly his “mistress”. Either this was a one-off moment or there are other women who have had similar relations who thought it was no one else’s business but their own. For Trump, it is just more fake news.

But even on Drudge, this was the top story, and one only to be wished for.

Better than having a revolver placed on the table, but one way or another, moving things along, which includes this rumour as well:

Is Trump Using Omnibus Bill To Now FULLY FUND The Border Wall? It Sure Looks That Way.

Whispers are now rampant that President Trump is using the significant funds allocated to military spending in the most recent omnibus bill he signed last week to allocate full and immediate funding for the southern border wall project. If so it would be a brilliant side-step maneuver that would outflank the anti-secure border members of Congress – including many among the Republican leadership. An omnibus bill is not a budget and so allows a president considerable powers to spend those funds as they choose.  If this now plays out as some are suggesting, Donald Trump just beat Congress at its own game in getting the funding he and his millions of supporters have long called for to help secure the border. It would be a truly MAGA Art of the Deal moment.

Some people have no idea when they’re well off

On the one hand…

Saudi Arabia opens airspace to Israel for first time…

Jewish candidate for Muslim party breaks barriers in Tunisia…

Not to mention:

KOREAS PREPARE FOR MOON-KIM SUMMIT:

Negotiators for North and South agreed Saturday on a plan to meet again Thursday inside the Demilitarized Zone — a buffer area separating the two countries — to continue refining the agenda for next month’s historic, top-level summit between their respective leaders. [[President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un]

MORE:

The likelihood of any Kim-Trump summit remains unknown, as does the agenda, and the North hasn’t publicly acknowledged its invitation. But some preliminary talks appear to have occurred in recent days as North Korean diplomats traveled to Finland and Sweden for talks. The latter is an occasional intermediary for matters involving the North and the United States.

Here’s the diplomatic background, including the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” timeline.

But on the other hand…

Stormy Daniels’ lawyer posts photo of mystery disc in safe, teasing a ‘picture’…

Ex-PLAYBOY model apologizes to first lady for 10-month affair she claims she had with Trump…

If that’s all they’ve got, they’ve got nothing except among political idiots, of which there is no shortage. And for good measure, it wasn’t “Trump’s budget” that went through Congress, it was the combined efforts of those two renowned fiscal conservatives, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

A lesson in trade theory

“Every economic answer is a political question.”

Here then is a question for all you experts on international trade, taken directly from my Free Market Economics [pp. 248-249]. Picture two countries, A and C.

Suppose in Country A, in one hour it can produce either one car or 1000 shirts. [It’s also the same answer if Country A can produce ten cars and 10,000 shirts per hour!]

Meanwhile in Country C, in two hours it can produce either one car or 500 shirts.

According to the economic theory of comparative advantage, how many cars will Country A produce? OK, once you’ve worked that out, now tell me if you get the same answer using common sense. As chrisl said, “economic theory is all right in theory”. Personally, I’m not even sure of that, but you get the idea.

So here’s the thing. It is entirely possible that the US is tired of carrying most of the burden for the defence of the West and would like a bit of sharing the burden. It might also find some respite for itself in strengthening those parts of its economy which are more closely associated with its defence industries. And it might even wish for some kind of gratitude from others, supposedly on the same side, in trying to assist the US in resurrecting its strength. And then there are the straightforward economic issues, which are not the same as the political. So let us go to these.

And of course the issue economically is comparative advantage, and not pure let the most efficient producer produce each product. With comparative advantage, it is not always the most efficient low-cost producers who produce. If you don’t even understand that, you should keep right out of this debate.

Why encourage free trade:

  • competition is what drives improvement and growth – without competition most businesses would just coast along to the fullest extent they could
  • innovation is driven by competition – the way to take on an established business is to find a better way to do something
  • all other things being equal, free trade is best

Why “free trade” is not working for the US:

  • cheating is rife – try to sell an American car in Japan – not possible for all kinds of products in all kinds of countries
  • many countries subsidise exports while imposing non-tariff barriers to trade on imports along with tariffs themselves
  • currency manipulation – artificially holding exchange rate lower to discourage imports and encourage exports is not unknown
  • $US is world reserve currency it is unable to adjust to repair a balance of payments deficit
  • there are many forms of approved trade restrictions everywhere you look – the EU for example – such as:

Trading blocs

A regional trading bloc is a group of countries within a geographical region that protect themselves from imports from non-members. Trading blocs are a form of economic integration, and increasingly shape the pattern of world trade. There are several types of trading bloc:

Preferential Trade Area

Preferential Trade Areas (PTAs) exist when countries within a geographical region agree to reduce or eliminate tariff barriers on selected goods imported from other members of the area. This is often the first small step towards the creation of a trading bloc.

Free Trade Area

Free Trade Areas (FTAs) are created when two or more countries in a region agree to reduce or eliminate barriers to trade on all goods coming from other members.

Customs Union

A customs union involves the removal of tariff barriers between members, plus the acceptance of a common (unified) external tariff against non-members. This means that members may negotiate as a single bloc with 3rd parties, such as with other trading blocs, or with the WTO.

World Trade Organisation

There are then the WTO rules of trade engagement which are not designed to create a world where free trade is on the only answer. The rules were devised when the US economy was a lot more robust than it now is, and when the US was both willing and able to make sacrifices of all kinds to help others withstand the spread of communism. None of this is applicable today. The US is therefore no longer willing to watch others cheat their way into a stronger trade position, at the cost of its own national security, economic strength and domestic employment. Here is part of what the WTO is up to.

WTO Rules

1. Most-favoured-nation (MFN): treating other people equally Under the WTO agreements, countries cannot normally discriminate between their trading partners. Grant someone a special favour (such as a lower customs duty rate for one of their products) and you have to do the same for all other WTO members.

2. National treatment: Treating foreigners and locals equally Imported and locally-produced goods should be treated equally — at least after the foreign goods have entered the market. The same should apply to foreign and domestic services, and to foreign and local trademarks, copyrights and patents.

3. Developing countries have transition periods to adjust to the more unfamiliar and, perhaps, difficult WTO provisions — particularly so for the poorest, “least-developed” countries – so these basket case economies are allowed to whittle away at the economic strength of the developed world.

Meanwhile, economic ministers around the world increase unproductive public spending every chance they get, add new regulations on top of old, and increase business taxes at every turn, and then job on their chairs screaming, “Eek, a tariff!’

The quote at the top, by the way, is from Joan Robinson, who has quite a lot to say about free trade that ought to be read by the economic illiterates who populate the world, who are now found speaking on behalf of the status quo, as harmful as the status quo is to most of the lower half of the income distribution. Robinson was not just a Keynesian but also a big supporter of Mao, so I’d be very careful, but the above quote seems as accurate as anything else you are likely to hear about economics.

And the news is that this is not news

I’m with marcus on taking a hard approach to dealing with the left. I just came across this, which is a report in an obscure journal about a statement made by the President of the United States, via twitter, that no one else seems to have mentioned, so far as I can tell: Obama’s work to discredit the Trump campaign was ‘bigger than Watergate,’ Trump tweets. This is literally true, and where is anyone else to make this into a story?

Why did the Obama Administration start an investigation into the Trump Campaign (with zero proof of wrongdoing) long before the Election in November? Wanted to discredit so Crooked H would win. Unprecedented. Bigger than Watergate! Plus, Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling.

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That the story is also anti-Trump in tone and content is almost by the way. Meanwhile those who should bless the day he became president agonise over putting tariffs on steel and aluminium.