Thursday, July 28, 2016

Brexit Blues, or Why, oh Why, must I have my vanilla ice cream with syrup of ipecac on top?

John Lanchester's Brexit Blues is thoughtful... for a Bremainder...
But the money quote is this:
"The [Brexit] campaign’s second big lie was that the UK would be able to have access to the single market without accepting the free movement of people from the EU. No country has this arrangement, and there is no reason to think it is possible. If Britain were to secure a deal whereby it had access to the single market and control over EU immigration, it would be the end of the EU – because other countries would leave the EU and demand the same."
So since everybody wants access to the single market, and nobody wants open borders, they have to be forced to take them as a package.
But who is forcing them? And why do they have to buy the package at all?
Comcast makes you take the yuck! with the yes! because it makes them money.
Who wants to retain free movement within the EU after Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and Munich and Ansbach and Nice and Balacan and Charlie Hebdo? Cui bono?

Monday, July 25, 2016

How Trump can rebuild Nato

Putin is not Hitler. He is not even Brezhnev.
But everything depends on whether you believe that a Russian invasion of the Baltics can be stopped or reversed without NATO using nuclear weapons. I don't think it can.  And I don't think the US should engage in thermonuclear war to keep the Russians out of Riga.
So if I were Trump's National Security Advisor I would set before President Trump the following  Trump-style proposal for the Baltics:
1. Order a big exercise wargaming the defense of the Baltics using only conventional arms.
2. If Blue Force loses, then demand that everybody in NATO pony up their fair share the conventional forces necessary for blue force to win, or the US is leaving the alliance.
3.  What counts as one's fair share?  Well, for one thing the Baltic states themselves are go to have to go from 1.1% of GDP 
on defense, (Latvia and Lithuania -- below their NATO commitment!), to something like Israel's 5.4% or Kuwait's 8.2%.

"Go for broke", or Trumpoid thoughts on Muslim terror

A former Tel Aviv colleague writes:  "You do know that terrorism in the name of Islam kills far more Muslims than non-M westerners, right? And that the portion of Muslims who participate in terror is tiny, right? Just wondering, b/c so much that Trump says is factually absurd. I suppose it's easy to get confused."

But I say:

1.The portion of Muslims who actively participate in terror by silence, financial, or moral support is not so tiny. Western countries need to persuade their existing muslim populations that unless they actively give every effort to defeating Islamist terror, they have no future in those countries. Not a pretty thought, but a thought the grandparents of some of the people I grew up with in Seattle were able to act on.


2. Islamists kill who they can reach. The best way to keep them out of reach, as your boy Sharon proved, is to build walls and keep them on the other side.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Why I prefer President Donald J. Trump to President Hillary Clinton

Somebody near and dear emailed me to ask "why would you prefer a Trump to a Clinton presidency?"
Here is why:

Positive reasons (things on which I agree with Trump):

1.  I am a trade protectionist and an immigration restrictionist.  As an American I think trade and immigration policies should be for the benefit of current US citizens and their descendants, "ourselves and our posterity."

2.  I think the right economic policy is one that offers men the opportunity to earn dignity as providers for their families. Cheap goods mean cheap men, as Calvin Coolidge used to say.

3.  The US needs to control the border with Mexico.  A wall is a good start, as Israel has shown along its Egyptian border.

4.  The US needs to rethink its international role.  Certainly it should 1) no longer open the US market  in the unconsidered hope of gaining brownie points with exporters; 2) extricate itself from its obligations to South Korea and possibly Japan, which make it subject to NK blackmail.  
I do think, however, that after Crimea the US needs to continue its nuclear umbrella over NATO, which is the only thing keeping the Rooskies out of Riga (and possibly out of Scotland).  Trump has come around to supporting NATO; but he thought about it first, which I don't see as a bad thing. 

5.  Trump has promised to appoint originalist, "dead constitution," judges on the Scalia model.  As a conservative, I know he is buying us off on an issue on which he cares little.  But I say, let's take the deal! 

6.  Political correctness is literally killing people:  it has crippled the fight against domestic terror, and has greatly exacerbated the current strife over race and policing.  Its effects on education and education policy in the United States are as severe as its Marxist version ever had in the Communist block.   


Negative reasons (why Hillary  Clinton is a bad choice in ways that say, Bernie Sanders, would not have been):

1.  Mrs. Clinton is personally corrupt (she has been taking bribes for nearly forty years). and with LBJ (whose corruption was Bush league and consisted mainly of having a television broadcast license assigned to his wife) she is the only major party nominee ever who is personally corrupt -- unless you count bribes to her as bribes to Bill -- which I suppose you should,

2.  In case you think that private vices are outweighed by public virtues, as some might claim in the case of her husband (who has been an active party in her bribe-taking since the beginning, of course):  In her years as Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has no accomplishments of significance.  She also has made some big mistakes:  she supported Bush's invasion of Iraq, opposed the surge, and supported Obama's withdrawal:  I don't know anybody else in US public life who shares this trifecta of failure.  She has supported the failed American efforts in Afghanistan.  She urged the Obama's administration failed intervention in the Libyan civil war.  She has also supported Obama's Iran deal, which was a far worse policy for the US than if they had done nothing at all.

3.  The email scandal is a big deal.  Mrs. Clinton committed serious crimes, both from the security and public records point of view, by channeling her official email through an unsecured private server, and than ordering her lawyers to wipe allegedly personal emails rather than preserving them.  She refused to collaborate with the State Department internal investigation, unlike every other SecState of the email era.  These crimes and derelictions would be sufficient, in the case of any other government employee, to ensure that the person would never work for the Federal government again.  Her conduct on this matter does not admit of any honest or even plausible defense.

4.  She is in thrall to the Black Lives Matter crowd and the Al Sharptons, who have spread the lie that police racism rather than black criminality is responsible for the disproportionate number of black men killed by police.

5.  She is a globalist on trade and immigration.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

2+2=5 Director Comey loves Big Sister

In his prepared statement concluding the FBI criminal investigation, FBI Director James B. Comey states that "All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice." Director Comey explains exactly how Secretary of State Clinton engaged in "clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information" by using multiple unsecured devices: "Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain."
He also states the "vast quantities of material exposed" (over 2000 classified emails), and the efforts to obstruct justice by wiping out emails.
Director Comey sums up that "we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts."
2+2=5 Director Comey loves Big Sister.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The future of the parties, after Trump

If Trump wins, there will be the neo-Jacksonian Republicans and the corporatist Democrats.
If Hillary wins: there will be the Hillary party, and the more "progressive than Hillary party." Both will be fully devoted to the interests of the very rich, especially open borders, and will compete in Democratic primaries by seeing how many illegal immigrants than can bring to the polls. Any potentially effective conservative, Republican, or neo-Jacksonian opposition, will be destroyed by a weaponized IRS, Justice Department, EPA, OSHA, etc. Only government licensed media will be permitted, once Citizens United is reversed, Big data techniques will enable the government and their Silicon Valley allies to thought police the nation, as working stiffs will have a choice: be progressive or starve. Any facts that might embarrass those in power will scrubbed from the internet and all media.
But #NeverTrump Republicans will love Big Sister.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Prediction markets and understanding politics

A post in a closed group on Facebook suggested that we look to prediction markets for information on politics, and try to use the information they offer in the manner that business journalists use financial markets. 
     The trouble is that business journalists know as much about business as sportswriters know about sports and political journalists know about politics. Fortunately, students of politics have it easier than students of sports or business because politicians have to explain themselves to get what they want. If you want to understand Trump, the first step is to look to his own words, the second step to look to words of the politicians who are his allies, and the third to look to the words of the politicians who are his rivals and enemies.
     As for prediction markets, the efficient markets hypothesis says they integrate publicly available knowledge. That does not mean that they are accurate, just that anything more accurate is going to cost you.

     The odds on a Republican winning the Presidential election (getting a majority of the two-party vote) are about 1 in 3 at the Iowa Electronic Market .  If I know better, if I know that Trump is a virtual lock because he is the more centrist of the two candidates and because the country is generally perceived to be on the wrong track, it may be that that is because I have been studying politics for 30 years.
     Should you trust me? I have not, so far, put any money down on Trump at Iowa. But the people who bought Trump in the Republican convention market at IEM are doing well so far, as today's graph shows.

Are the prediction market odds a good guide to Trump's actual chances?  Were they a good guide to his chances the day after the Iowa caucuses?  All we can say with any degree of assurance is that they are a better guide than any other you can get for free.  
    Trusting me isn't free.