PowerLine -> California Suicide Watch, Part 3: Bring Back the Lunacy Commission? + More Mueller madness

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowerLine -> California Suicide Watch, Part 3: Bring Back the Lunacy Commission? + More Mueller madness

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest

  • California Suicide Watch, Part 3: Bring Back the Lunacy Commission?
  • Et Tu, Country Music?
  • More Mueller madness
  • The problem with Trump’s tariff plan
  • On Tariffs, Hold the Hysteria
California Suicide Watch, Part 3: Bring Back the Lunacy Commission?

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 01:04 PM PST

(Steven Hayward)With even the Los Angeles Times asking in an editorial, “How Can a Place with 58,000 Homeless People Continue to Function?“, perhaps it is worth looking back a hundred years or so to this section of California’s 1916 state budget, which proposed establishing a “Lunacy Commission” and a “Deportation Bureau” to send “insane” people back to their home states.

The first line of the second paragraph below, in case you can’t make it out, reads: “Because of her wonderful climate and conditions of living California is the haven of many sick people and attracts among others the attention of the relatives of insane patients. . .  In the majority of cases, they would become life-long charges upon the state.”

Of course, we all know what happened instead: California in the 1980s set up a commission on “self-esteem,” and today we elect our lunatics to statewide office or send them to Congress, has made California a sanctuary state for lunacy. Who needs a commission for that?


Et Tu, Country Music?

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 10:50 AM PST

(John Hinderaker)If there is any place in America where one might have expected a conservative to feel at home, it would be country music. Or would have been, anyway, until the Country Music Association chased Mike Huckabee off the board of its charitable foundation:

On Wednesday, the Country Music Association announced the newest members of the board of its charitable foundation: singer Chris Young and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R).

The announcement of the latter immediately raised eyebrows in Nashville, because the CMA actively tries to stay out of politics — and some in the industry protested because of his political views. Then, about 24 hours after the announcement, Huckabee resigned.

The principal protest apparently came from a homosexual named Jason Owen, who owns an influential management company. He attacked Huckabee in the typically intemperate liberal fashion:

“It is with a heavy heart that I must let you know moving forward, Sandbox and Monument will no longer support the CMA Foundation in any way (this includes everyone we represent collectively) considering the heartbreaking news shared today regarding Mike Huckabee appointee/elected to the CMA Foundation,” he wrote in a letter to CMA chief executive Sarah Trahern and Director of Community Outreach Tiffany Kerns. “Further, we find it hard to support the organization as a whole as a result.”

Owen, who is openly gay, continued: “I have a child and two on the way. This man has made it clear that my family is not welcome in his America. And the CMA has opened their arms to him, making him feel welcome and relevant. Huckabee speaks of the sort of things that would suggest my family is morally beneath his and uses language that has a profoundly negative impact upon young people all across this country. Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is. What a shameful choice. I will not participate in any organization that elevates people like this to positions that amplify their sick voices.”

Huckabee’s comment was appropriate: “Hate wins.” Hate is winning a lot these days. He added, “Bullies succeeded in making it untenable to have ‘someone like me’ involved. I would imagine however that many of the people who buy tickets and music are not that ‘unlike me.’” That’s for sure, and I hope they make their displeasure known to the CMA.

Michael Ramirez comments on CMA’s intolerance. Click to enlarge:


More Mueller madness

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 05:32 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)Three of the best reporters at the New York Times share a byline on a story that, to the extent it is accurate, reflects the madness of the free-floating Mueller investigation. Mark Mazzetti, David Kirkpatrick, and Maggie Haberman report with a straight face:

George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has hovered on the fringes of international diplomacy for three decades. He was a back-channel negotiator with Syria during the Clinton administration, reinvented himself as an adviser to the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and last year was a frequent visitor to President Trump’s White House.

Mr. Nader is now a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned Mr. Nader and have pressed witnesses for information about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

The investigators have also asked about Mr. Nader’s role in White House policymaking, those people said, suggesting that the special counsel investigation has broadened beyond Russian election meddling to include Emirati influence on the Trump administration. The focus on Mr. Nader could also prompt an examination of how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era.

In a bit of unintentionally comic understatement, they add: “How much this line of inquiry is connected to Mr. Mueller’s original task of investigating contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia is unclear.” Drawing on Mike Allen’s Axios post, Monica Showalter suggests how stories like this one might (maybe should) be read.

Implicit in the Times story — whether or not the story itself is accurate — is an important point. It is a point that Andrew McCarthy has made trenchantly over and over. This is not the way it (a duly constituted special counsel investigation) is supposed to work. As established, Mueller’s investigation is fundamentally illegitimate.

JOHN adds: The fact that Mueller has taken his “investigation” so far afield is more confirmation that on the subject he is supposed to be investigating, he has nothing. If Mueller had any integrity, he would conclude his investigation and write a report saying that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. (I suppose he could remain silent on the collusion between the Clinton campaign and Russians.) But that isn’t Mueller’s way; he is after scalps, obviously, and doesn’t seem to care much whose they are.


The problem with Trump’s tariff plan

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 08:08 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)Trade policy is like immigration policy in the sense that whichever policies are selected, there will be winners and losers among Americans. For example, to oversimplify, tolerating illegal immigration hurts Americans who lose work to illegal immigrants or have their wages driven down. But it helps businesses that rely on cheap labor, their customers, and those well-off Americans who want cheap gardeners and the like.

Trade policy, such as tariffs, also produces winners and losers. But it differs from immigration policy because the winner/loser divide is less defined by the economic class. Some industries win and others lose. Workers in some industries win while workers in other industries lose.

The other difference is that economic theory is pretty clear in teaching that the overall economy tends to be enhanced by free trade policies. There is no such consensus when it comes to immigration policy.

This article in the New York Times shows how President Trump’s plan to impose steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum if implemented, would create winners and losers among the blue-collar workers who comprise part of his based. Why? Because of the divide between metal producers, who will be helped by the tariffs, and their customers, who will be harmed, “slices directly through Mr. Trump’s blue-collar constituency.”

Producers will gain a significant advantage from tariffs on foreign competitors. But companies that buy from these producers will be hurt by the higher prices the producers will be able to charge.

It may well be, moreover, that there will be more losers than winners. That’s the view of Monica de Bolle, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, whom the Times quotes. Her argument is that the mills and smelters that supply the raw material, and that would directly benefit from the tariffs, have been shrinking for years. According to the Times, they employ fewer than 200,000 people. Meanwhile, the companies that buy steel and aluminum, to make everything from trucks to chicken coops, employ more than 6.5 million workers, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis of Commerce Department data.

Even so, workers in the steel and aluminum industries should not be harmed by the unfair trade practices of nations like China. Leo Gerard, the president of the United Steelworkers union, which also represents aluminum workers, tells the Times that his members are tired of enduring layoffs because of an onslaught of artificially cheap steel and aluminum produced by “cheaters” in China. President Trump is right to want to help them.

But as far as I can tell, the tariffs Trump wants to impose are not limited to cheaters like China and, in fact, might make it more difficult to deal with Chinese cheating on various fronts. As Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, explains (via Reihan Salam at NRO):

The problems with the Trump metal tariffs are numerous, but perhaps the most important is that rather than use tariffs as a weapon to force China to roll back its damaging innovation mercantilist policies, an effort for which we will need all the help we can get from our allies, the tariffs are applied indiscriminately against friend and foe, free trader and mercantilist. This alienates potential allies in the broader China effort as well as invites tit-for-tat retaliation, which the Europeans have already said they would put in place.

In fact, there is a reason to believe that the effect on China of the planned tariffs would be minimal. The Washington Post says that China accounts for only two percent of U.S. steel imports and the Chinese reportedly have been working to cut overcapacity in their steel industry. Thus, the Chinese would “take a small, really negligible, hit to their steel and aluminum exports” from the proposed tariffs, according to Arthur Kroeber, managing director of a Beijing-based research firm.

Germany apparently would take a larger hit than China. Canada, Mexico, and South Korea would take the biggest hits.

Any critique of Trump’s plan should be tempered by the fact that it hasn’t yet been signed anything and, in any case, whatever he signs may turn out to be an effort to set the stage for improved deals with China and maybe others. John made this point earlier today. However, if it’s true that the suggested tariffs on steel and aluminum wouldn’t have much impact on China, Trump’s talk of imposing such tariffs aren’t likely to bring China to the bargaining table.

Instead, China will be able to call Trump’s bluff. At that point, Trump would be hard-pressed to back down. Perhaps, though, he would decline to apply the tariffs to friend and foe/cheater and non-cheater, alike.


On Tariffs, Hold the Hysteria

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 06:07 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)President Trump said last week that he intends to use powers granted him by Congress to impose import duties on steel and aluminum. That was all it took for the press to become free traders. Gloom and doom are everywhere, as reporters gleefully tell us how our trading partners are planning to retaliate and how Trump’s tariffs will damage the economy. I don’t recall a similar reaction when it was Democrats who were the leading protectionists.

I am anti-protectionism, but I am also anti-hysteria. It’s not as though tariffs are an unknown phenomenon. As many have pointed out, President George W. Bush imposed tariffs of up to 30% on steel in 2002. They remained in effect for more than a year. And Ronald Reagan restricted imports of steel in 1984, and later imposed a 100% tariff on some Japanese electronic products. Somehow the republic survived.

And it isn’t as though tariffs and import quotas have become extinct. Imported clothing is subject to tariffs averaging 10% to 15%, and we have a domestic sugar beet industry, I believe, only because of quotas on cane sugar from the Caribbean. I haven’t noticed the press agitating to get rid of the tariffs we already have, even though the same economic arguments they now make–newly-discovered in some cases–would apply equally. Nor do I recall the press rushing to condemn Bernie Sanders’ protectionist views during the 2016 campaign.

This is all about President Trump, of course. If Trump came out for a big increase in the minimum wage, the Washington Post would suddenly realize that it would increase unemployment among minority youths.

So let’s see what happens. Let’s see what order President Trump signs next week, and how other nations respond. Let’s see what negotiations Trump enters into with, for example, China. I think it likely that Trump is rattling sabers over tariffs in order to set the stage for improved trade deals or other concessions–in order, for example, to pressure China to start respecting our intellectual property, a huge issue on which the Obama administration was shamefully supine.

All of this will take some time. If it turns out that Trump’s policy is sheer protectionism, I will criticize him for it. But I suspect that, like President Reagan, Trump is using trade policy to set the stage for addressing inappropriate conduct by other nations. Let’s see what Trump can get out of his tariffs before we begin to tote up the balance sheet.


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