August 27, 2015

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Streetwise Professor says Trump is the “Leader of the Mercantilist Zombie Apocalypse.”

Running the risk of serious brain damage, I watched Trump on O’Reilly last night. It was a cage match to determine the world champion of economic ignorance. I declare it a tie.

The “discussion” started out with China. O’Reilly asked Trump about China’s alleged devaluation policy. Except O’Reilly couldn’t pronounce “devalue”: he kept saying “devaluate.” But Trump took the bait and ranted (but I repeat myself) about how China has relentlessly devalued its currency over the years.

Except, of course, it hasn’t. It devalued years ago, but since the financial crisis it has pegged the yuan to the dollar, and only recently made two small devaluations. …

… Perhaps to give him more intellectual credit than he deserves, Trump is a died-in-the-wool mercantilist who believes trade is a zero sum game, and who favors protectionism and beggar-thy-neighbor currency policies. He talks like it is the late-80s, and Japan is still an economic juggernaut that will overwhelm the US, completely overlooking the fact that Japan’s crypto-mercantilist policies gifted it a 25 year long lost decade, and that neo-mercantilist China is on the brink of the same fate. If it is lucky.

Adam Smith is spinning in his grave.

But alas, mercantilism is a like a zombie. It has no brain, and has proven impossible to kill. Which means, I guess, that in Donald Trump, it has found its perfect advocate.




Taking a more benign view of Trump, Roger Simon says the presidency is his to lose.

… He’s unafraid.  He’s upbeat.  He’s funny.  He despises political correctness (as anybody with half a brain does).  He’s so rich no one can buy him, has an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous wife the likes of which we have never seen as first lady (not even Jackie O, well maybe Dolly Madison) and most of all he really, truly loves America.  Of course, compared to the incumbent, a dead centipede loves America, but you know what I mean.  He’s an all-American success story and that’s what we need right now — a winner, even a braggart.  He’s also, as my wife Sheryl says, “bad medicine,” just the kind of medicine we need in extreme times.

Now I could change my mind on a dime, as we all could, or indeed as I have, if other information comes to light or if Donald starts to act looney or, more precisely, excessively looney.  But as of now, it would be dishonest not to say that not only he is the frontrunner, he is THE MAN.  I can think of no greater antidote to Obama than a Trump presidency.

Well, yes, I can. It would be a Trump/Carson presidency. Watching Dennis Miller Wednesday night, I see he is on my wave length.  He’s talking about a Trump/Carson ticket too.  And while we’re at it, throw Carly Fiorina in as secretary of State or Treasury.

What Carly, Ben and Donald all have in common is obvious. It’s why we like them.  None of them are career politicians.  Double bravo for that.




Kevin Williamson writes on what Trump gets wrong about trade.

… Trump fancies himself an ace negotiator, a skill that he has had some chance to hone in an embarrassing series of corporate bankruptcies, and he proposes to employ those skills to ensure trade that is “fair” by whatever ethical standards occur to this particular serial adulterer/crony capitalist/pathological liar/reality-television grotesque. While Trump himself is fundamentally unserious, the Right has witnessed a destructive reemergence of the old anti-trade populism articulated by Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot.

Perot was the Trump of the 1990s, a billionaire businessman with an absurdly high estimate of his own importance, though Perot at least had the distinction of having made his own fortune. It was Perot who famously warned of the “giant sucking sound” that would accompany U.S. capital shifting south if NAFTA were to pass. And as many election scholars figure it, it was also Perot who ensured the election of Bill Clinton, a previously obscure political figure if a gifted campaigner. Another billionaire megalomaniac ensuring the election of another Clinton would be almost pleasing in its symmetry if it weren’t for the fact that it would do tremendous damage to the country and the world. …




Nate Silver says so far Trump’s a perpetual attention machine.

… Is it sustainable? In the long run, probably not. There are lots of interesting candidates in the GOP field, whether you’re concerned with the horse race, their policy positions or simply just entertainment value. Sooner or later, the media will find another candidate’s story interesting. Cruz has a lot of upside potential in the troll department, for instance, along with better favorability ratings than Trump and a slightly more plausible chance of being the Republican nominee.

But there’s not a lot of hard campaign news to dissect in August. Fend off the occasional threat by throwing a stink bomb whenever another story risks upstaging you, and you can remain at the center of the conversation, and atop the polls, for weeks at a time.




Matthew Continetti writes on how the media use Trump.

… Why do the media love Trump so? Bombastic, direct, and occasionally hilarious, Trump has been grabbing headlines and performing on television for decades. He’s a master of the medium and generates ratings for viewer-starved cable networks: He’s not wrong when he says he’s responsible for the massive audience that watched the first GOP primary debate on Fox.

Trump also shares the same obsessions as the media, spouting off on the latest twist in the horse race, the newest polling, the cable-show back-and-forth, the dueling campaign strategies, all the minutiae of the electoral process that voters don’t care about and that have no bearing on governance, but dominate the airwaves nevertheless.

But there’s another—and more important—reason the press can’t stop talking about Donald Trump. He conforms to, he exuberantly personifies, he seems to go out of his way to prove correct the worst media stereotypes of old pale cisgender plutocratic sexist nativist blowhard conservatives. (I should point out that these stereotypes are unfair. I, for instance, am only 34.)

The 69-year-old white male makes constant reference to his fortune. He brags about how he takes advantage of bankruptcy law and uses political donations to buy access to politicians. His most controversial statements on Mexicans and women seem tailor-made to alienate from the GOP the very demographic groups the Republican Party has been told it must win to capture the White House. His unfavorable ratings are sky-high—and he leads the polls for the Republican nomination. …



John Podhoretz says Trump’s appeal is that he is an obama for the right. That’s great! Two ignorant president’s in a row.

… So how is this happening? Many say it’s because of his hard line on immigration. Trump believes this. Others, Bill Kristol in particular, have observed cleverly that Trump is the only unrestrained nationalist in the race.

I think there’s something else at play here. Trump has basically declared himself the anti-Obama, an all-American (he still believes Obama was born in Kenya) who has built things and run things and hasn’t just been an egghead and government guy.

In fact, what Trump is promising is simply a different form of Obamaism, and that is what perversely makes him attractive to so many people.

Obama’s astonishing second-term efforts to do an end-run around the constitutional limits of the presidency have given Trump’s approach peculiar resonance with certain conservatives.

They’ve watched in horrified amazement as Obama has single-handedly postponed parts of the Affordable Care Act; unilaterally installed people in federal jobs (at the National Labor Relations Board) that require congressional consent and announced in November 2014 that he’d cease enforcing certain immigration laws and effectively grant protection to 5 million so-called “dreamers” — when it is his constitutional obligation to enforce existing laws passed by Congress.

Trump is, in effect, promising to be a right-wing Obama, to run roughshod over the rules to fix things Obama and other politicians have broken. …



Topping off our week, late night from Andrew Malcolm

Conan: Scientists have grown a tiny human brain in a lab. And guess what— It’s already announced support for Trump.

Conan: Hillary Clinton’s new ad stresses her personal, humble economic background. In it, she says, “Just 15 years ago, my family and I were evicted from our house.”

Meyers: Donald Trump says Jeb Bush is “totally out of touch on women’s health issues.” That’s like Jared Fogle saying you’re creepy.