Thursday, June 30, 2016

Chuck Grassley in the Race of His Career in Iowa

This is something no one expected to see.

"A new poll reveals that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is in the race of his Senate career against Democratic opponent Patty Judge."

"Judge – the former lieutenant governor – is within striking distance of the seven-term senator, polling at 45 percent among likely voters compared to Grassley's 46 percent."

"The Loras College poll released Thursday was its first since Trump and Clinton won their respective primaries. It suggested Grassley may be more vulnerable in his re-election after refusing to hold hearings on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Christopher Budzisz, the director of the poll, also added that Republican nominee Donald Trump–who was trailing Hillary Clinton by double digits statewide in the poll, may also be a drag on Grassley."

"The poll revealed, however, that many people are still skeptical Grassley can be beat. Even with Judge within a single point of Grassley, 70 percent said they thought Grassley would keep his seat in November."

"The survey of 600 likely voters was conducted between June 24-28. The margin of error was 4 percentage points."

This also seems to confirm the Loras poll that shows Hillary up by 14 in the state.

As DailyNewsBin notes, it sure is pretty mysterious that Trump managed to gain 9 points in a week according to Rasmusson.

"At a time when every major polling outlet across the political and ideological spectrum is in agreement that Hillary Clinton is not only leading the Presidential race but also widening her lead, the infamous and usually wrong Rasmussen poll is suddenly claiming today that Hillary has gone from being up five points nationally to being down four points in a span of eight days. With nothing having gone wrong for Hillary this week and nothing having gone right for Trump, there is no possible real world explanation for such a dramatic shift against the tide in such a short period of time."

"So leaves us to ponder whether Rasmussen purposely changed its polling methodology this week. If so, the stunt is certainly getting headlines. Those television news outlets who have been searching for any shard of evidence that the race might still be competitive? They’ll spend the next few days shouting about the Rasmussen from the rafters, and some of them won’t even acknowledge that the other polling outlets exist, let alone that they’re all reporting the opposite results and the opposite trend."

"Either way, this wouldn’t be the first time Rasmussen has laid an egg. It was notoriously inaccurate in favor of republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election, to the point of unfairly giving the other polling outlets a bad name by association. And that’s not just my view; everyone from FiveThirtyEight to Time Magazine to the Washington Post to the New York Times has called into question the legitimacy of Rasmussen polling over the past few years."

Finally Donald Trump is asking the right question at least. But he's just perplexed how he gets these big rallies and yet he's falling further behind in the polls-the latest swing state polls are bad news indeed for him.

"Nick Gass reports that Donald Trump is utterly confused by the fact that he can hold a rally full of people who love him, yet also be trailing in the polls. It makes no sense!"

Regarding the fact that Trump had 1 percent of the vote on that national poll that came out yesterday-1 percent-you have to say he's earned his-shockingly abysmal-level of support.

The fact that he got 1 percent yet only trailed by 2 in that one, tells me that they may have counted too few AAs or too many whites or something.

I've heard some argue that Trump will get more black voters because he's better known for being prejudiced against Mexicans. Evidently that's not working as failsafe a strategy as it seems.

Then we get his daddy who had a history with the KKK. Yet Trump sure is a kidder: he pretended he doesn't even know who the KKK is.

Trump Institute: His Other Ponzi Scheme

You keep seeing the media refer to Emailgate as 'not going away.'

That's mostly because they: won't stop talking about it, rather than anything new or important is actually there.

The media, of course has given this nonstory legs just as they did to Whitewater, Vince Foster, and more recently, Benghazi.

Benghazi turned out to be a nothingburger-as far as Hillary is concerned she had no personal wrongdoing. But the media hyped it up to the effect that she did and even now you have Hillary hating pundits claim that the story hurt her  popularity somehow though she did nothing wrong.

You know what story really isn't going away? Trump U. There are all kinds of documents which should be public-in the public interest. It's also quite unfair to the plaintiffs-Trump gets it exactly backwards-that the judge has postponed the trial till after the election-as if they have any hope prevailing if Trump were, God help us all, President Elect.

But Trump U is just one very troubling escapade in Trump's Ponzi scheme of a business career.

There is, for instance, Trump Institute:

"In 2005, as he was making a transition from developing real estate to capitalizing on his fame through ventures like a reality show and product-licensing deals, Donald J. Trump hit upon a two-pronged strategy for entering the field of for-profit education."

"He poured his own money into Trump University, which began as a distance-learning business advising customers on how to make money in real estate, but left a long trail of customers alleging they were defrauded. Their lawsuits have cast a shadow over Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign."

"But Mr. Trump also lent his name, and his credibility, to a seminar business he did not own, which was branded the Trump Institute. Its operators rented out hotel ballrooms across the country and invited people to pay up to $2,000 to come hear Mr. Trump’s “wealth-creating secrets and strategies.”

And its customers had ample reason to ask whether they, too, had been deceived.

"As with Trump University, the Trump Institute promised falsely that its teachers would be handpicked by Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did little, interviews show, besides appear in an infomercial — one that promised customers access to his vast accumulated knowledge. “I put all of my concepts that have worked so well for me, new and old, into our seminar,” he said in the 2005 video, adding, “I’m teaching what I’ve learned.”

"Reality fell far short. In fact, the institute was run by a couple who had run afoul of regulators in dozens of states and had been dogged by accusations of deceptive business practices and fraud for decades. Similar complaints soon emerged about the Trump Institute."

"Yet there was an even more fundamental deceit to the business, unreported until now: Extensive portions of the materials that students received after paying their seminar fees, supposedly containing Mr. Trump’s special wisdom, had been plagiarized from an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier."

Can you imagine for a second if the media covered Trump like they do Hillary? No doubt they'd run her out of politics. Yet, Trump is just a normal candidate who happened to have not paid his taxes in multiple years, been audited every year since the 80s, been in 3500 lawsuits, and has bilked many regular Americans pointing them out of business and in major harm's way.

Yet the media says that private emails are the story which won't go away.

"Together, the exaggerated claims about his own role, the checkered pasts of the people with whom he went into business and the theft of intellectual property at the venture’s heart all illustrate the fiction underpinning so many of Mr. Trump’s licensing businesses: Putting his name on products and services — and collecting fees — was often where his actual involvement began and ended."

 “That Trump Institute, what criminals they are,” said Carol Minto of West Haven, Conn., a retired court reporter who attended one seminar in 2009 and agreed to spend $1,997.94 to attend another before having second thoughts. She wound up requiring the help of two states’ attorneys general in getting a refund. “They wanted to steal my money,” she said.

"The institute was another example of the Trump brand’s being accused of luring vulnerable customers with false promises of profit and success. Others, besides Trump University, include multilevel marketing ventures that sold vitamins and telecommunications services, and a vanity publisher that faced hundreds of consumer complaints."

"Mr. Trump’s infomercial performance suggested he was closely overseeing the Trump Institute. “People are loving it,” he said in the program, titled “The Donald Trump Way to Wealth” and staged like a talk show in front of a wildly enthusiastic audience. “People are really doing well with it, and they’re loving it.” His name, picture and aphorisms like “I am the American Dream, supersized version” were all over the course materials.

"Yet while he owned 93 percent of Trump University, the Trump Institute was owned and operated by Irene and Mike Milin, a couple who had been marketing get-rich-quick courses since the 1980s."

"A Trump executive, Michael Sexton, told The Sacramento Bee in 2006 that there was a simple reason for going into business with the Milins: Their company was “the best in the business.”
"Yet the Milins’ reputation was actually pockmarked with lawsuits and regulatory actions — a dismal track record that Mr. Trump and his aides could have unearthed with a modicum of due diligence."
In other news, Trump has given very little charitable giving despite his inflated claims.

"Trump promised millions to charity. We found less than $10,000 over 7 years."

Turns out Hillary has given a lot more-as we know as she has released her tax returns. 

The biggest Ponzi Scheme of all is his entire campaign. Much like Boris Johnson in Britain turned out to be. 

GOPers are Right to be Skeptical of Trump

There is a story in Politico about how the GOP's skepticism of Trump is 'hardening.'

"While Republican leaders are cautiously encouraged by Trump’s more predictable campaigning style of late, lawmakers who have long been skeptical of his campaign are unmoved by his tactical changes. Some Republican senators still aren’t even acknowledging that he has their party’s nomination locked up."

“Whoever’s our candidate, I’m going to support our candidate,” said Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, a 48-year-old conservative. “I’ll feel better when I get a list of policies and I see who the vice president is.”

“I’m still evaluating,” said moderate Maine Sen. Susan Collins, as Trump stumped in her home state on Wednesday.

"It’s not just die-hard conservatives or centrists: Republicans from across the spectrum remain unconvinced by Trump’s course adjustments. For many rank-and-file members, whatever improvements Trump manages haven’t made up for a year of headline-grabbing gaffes, from his initial call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. to remarks disparaging an American judge of Mexican descent."

“Today, I’m opposed to his campaign,” said Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada. “He did a lot of damage. It’s very difficult for him, as far as I’m concerned, to recover from his previous comments. I’ll give him a chance, but at this point, I have no intentions of voting for him.”

Read more:

Then there is Utah's Michael Lee:

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah delivered a forceful response when asked on Wednesday why he hasn’t endorsed Donald Trump.

Lee chastised Trump for parroting conspiracy theories about Ted Cruz’s father and called some of Trump’s statements “religiously intolerant.”

“Hey look, Steve, I get it. You want me to endorse Trump,” Lee told NewsMaxTV’s Steve Malzberg when asked why he wasn’t “trumpeting Trump.”

“We can get into that if you want,” he continued. “We can get into the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK. We can go through the fact that he’s made statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant. We can get into the fact that he’s wildly unpopular in my state, in part because my state consists of people who are members of a religious minority church. A people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1838. And statements like that make them nervous.”

Lee said he could get over Trump’s statements, but Trump would need to say the right things.

“I can go on if you like,” added Lee. “But don’t sit here and tell me, Steve, that I have no reason to be concerned about Donald Trump.”

"When Malzberg commented that Trump merely said Cruz’s father might have conspired to kill former President John F. Kennedy Jr., Lee said, “Right, right, he said that. He actually said that. He said that without any scintilla, without a scintilla of evidence. Now that concerns me.”

"Lee said he wanted assurances from Trump that he would defend the Constitution."

“I’m sorry, sir, but that is not an unreasonable demand,” Lee said.

As Lee says Trump is really struggling in Utah. Romney won it by 48 and 2012 and Trump is up just by a few points-in some it's actually a tie. As Lee says, Mormons worry about Trump's intolerance towards Muslims considering that Mormons have been mocked by some fundamentalists in the past as not really Christian.

Meanwhile another poll that has Hillary up by double digits in a bunch of swing states including by 10 in North Carolina and 11 in Florida.

Trump also has less than 50 percent of the white vote-and this is hardly the first one.

RCP ignored Ballotpedia's polls that gave Hillary a double digit lead in lots of swing states.

Do they do the same for Democracy Corps? I would assume so.

UPDATE: I asked Bill Scher who writes for both Politico and RCP and he says that RCP doesn't usually take unconventional online polls though they have now taken Reuters.

Harry Enten:

Three polls this month in Florida give Clinton a double-digit lead. Obama never had any poll that gave him a double-digit lead in FL in 2012."

RCP did post a Loras College poll which shows Hillary up by 14.

There was a Rasmusson poll which showed Trump up by 4 in the general but that's Rasmussen. Reuters shows her up by 11.

Overall as Nate Silver says you expect a range. The range shows her up by as much as 12 and one that has her down by 4.

Meanwhile, we've heard some point out that the swing states have been closer but the batch of polls from Democracy Corps and Ballotopedia blows that narrative out for now.

As Nate and Harry Enten and company say, watch the averages.

Overall, though, it's no wonder the GOP is skeptical.

Is Frexit the Next Big Thing?

As critical as I've been about Brexit, it might seem a contradiction to say that Frexit seems to me to have a better case for it.

I mean the French people have far more good reason to blame Brussels for their troubles than the British people do.

The big difference is the French are on the euro. The French elected Francois Hollande for Keynesian policies and this has been thwarted by Angela Merkel and the EU.

So they have more cause for anger. The UK has had austerity but the UK insists on voting Tory so they have no one to blame for it but themselves.

Having said that, there are a couple of caveats.

1. Ideally you'd prefer they just get out of the euro but stay in the EU. No doubt if France got off the euro that would be close to a death knell as the whole thing was France's idea in the first place.

I think the EU project is still worth saving but maybe the euro system needs to go. To be sure, this wold be very messy but even factoring that in, it still might be for the best.

2. Frexit is lead by Marine la Pen.

Trump in the US, and La Pen in France? Boris Johnson just fell today in the UK.

"Since 2013, Le Pen has maintained that, if she attains power, she will hold a referendum on France’s membership in the E.U. within six months. A survey in March found that fifty-three per cent of French voters would support such a referendum, and another, published today, found that only forty-five per cent are certain they would vote to remain. Le Pen consistently leads polls for next spring’s Presidential election, and is all but certain to advance into the second round of voting. On Friday, she proclaimed Britain’s vote a first concrete step toward her vision, and the European question certainly will now become central to the campaign. “Before, this was unheard of,” Florian Philippot, a National Front vice-president and Le Pen’s top strategist, told journalists gathered at the Party headquarters, in Nanterre. “Now it’s no longer unheard of. There’s a precedent, and that changes a lot.” Philippot brushed aside suggestions that Britain’s exit would be painful for France, which is more economically integrated into the E.U., and that the fallout might affect public opinion. “That’s the propaganda of the Europeanists,” he told me, predicting that the market upset was temporary. “They have nothing else to say other than to try to scare people.” Le Pen and Philippot called for a “new European project,” of sovereign and “independent” nations."

This is the trouble. Whether you agree or not it's not true that the only ones who have concerns are 'fearmongers.'

But again, getting rid of the euro could be the best thing. Though you'd hate to see that power the National Front.

Leaving the EU seems to always end up empowering the Right.

Even on its Own Terms Brexit Fails

The Brexiters claimed that somehow the access to European markets came with the opportunity cost of trading more with non European countries. They also argued they'd get more trade with the US this way.

Byron York, for instance, has the illusion that Brexit is about more trade rather than less.

"If policy on this issue is all that mattered, the protectionist Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown should be on Trump’s VP short list as well as Hillary’s."

"Of course, Trump is more robustly nationalistic than his left-wing counterparts. In his speech, he wrapped his case in the great nationalist cause of the hour, Brexit. But now that it has won the referendum to exit the European Union, the Brexit leadership is seeking exactly what Trump inveighs against — free and open trade wherever it can be had."

Read more:

I'm actually less sure what the real differences between Right wing and Left wing autarky are.

I've come to realize that the Hard Left is very anti immigration as well.

For instance, the UK social democrat, Lord Keynes is anti immigration.

He claims that Keynes would have been pro Brexit. A claim I'm very skeptical of.

I think Keynes would have certainly been very critical of the euro system. But as for the EU as such, he'd as usual be for reform rather than revolution. This was always his way.

There is the time path dependent nature of policy where the best policy at year zero might not be forever the best policy going forward.

I wil grant Byron York this:

"Trump never says he opposes free trade as such. Few protectionists will ever avow, “Yes, dammit, I’m a protectionist — come and get me, copper.” They couch their protectionism in opposition to existing free-trade agreements and in the promise of somehow reaching wondrously different and better agreements — once all the existing ones are ripped up."

Read more:

Protectionists always overestimate the ability to simply go from 'free trade to fair trade.' The trouble is that fair trade is in the eyes of the beholder. What would make deals seem more fair for first world countries will be less fair for third world countries.

Anyway, the idea that Brexit will lead to a lot more trade is a fallacy.

President Obama made it clear that Britain indeed is now at the back of the queue for the US.

I've heard some argue that maybe if this starts a march towards other countries leaving Europe, then this will increase the importance of the US-UK relationship again.

Already we are seeing that this is, as the Brits put it, bollocks.

Brexit pushes US closer to Germany

EU exit marks the final stage of a slow-moving transition away from the UK."

You have to see the picture Politico puts up. It's with Obama, Angela Merkel, David Cameron all out strolling. Obama and Merkel are walking lesiurely side by side with Cameron out in front, trying to walk slow enough to keep with them.

So the UK is making itself less rather than more politically important. This only makes the US-Germany relationship more important:

"When it became clear that Britain had voted to leave the European Union, President Barack Obama called David Cameron to offer his sympathy. Then he dialed Angela Merkel, the leader he actually leans on in times of crisis."

"It’s no secret why. For years now, Germany, not the U.K., has been Obama’s main line into European politics. And that’s why Washington’s influence in Europe will survive a Brexit."

"The longstanding “special relationship” between the U.S. and Britain gave Washington a key confidant at the table in Brussels, as Obama stressed in his April referendum intervention in London. But a Europe without a United Kingdom doesn’t exactly leave Britain’s former colony out in the cold."

“On the big issues, we’ve seen the transition for years now where the first call has not been to London, where it used to be, but to Berlin,” said Damon Wilson, a former senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council under George W. Bush and who is currently executive vice president of the Atlantic Council. “That transition has already happened and the great recession really accelerated that with the magnification of German economic and political power.”

"A decade ago, Merkel was one of the first European leaders to call for EU-U.S. trade deal talks (even though the German public now opposes the deal). In 2014, Merkel roped together reluctant European governments behind a joint U.S.-EU sanctions program against Russian President Vladimir Putin, which the EU agreed to extend last week. She’s been the leader in dealing with the Greek financial crisis and the millions of migrants coming into Europe."

"So rather than diluting American influence in Europe, it’s more likely that Brexit will expand U.S. reliance on Germany. That will be particularly true when it comes to transatlantic cooperation on Russian sanctions, the ongoing eurozone challenges and the flood of migrants into Europe — issues where Germany has already become the first point of contact for the United States."

"And Germany has taken a heightened role on everything from Ukraine to the Greek economic crisis, and despite strained ties with Obama over the NSA spying revelations to the fiscal response to the financial crisis, Merkel became “a kind of go-to counterpart,” to the U.S. president, a senior Obama administration official told POLITICO last year."
"Shedding influence"

"Meanwhile, domestic U.K. politics were leading Britain down a different path. Britain has actually been shedding its influence in the European Union for years, say foreign policy experts — undermining the belief that London gives Washington a leg up in Brussels’s affairs."

“The Brits have long had a minimalist agenda inside the European Union, and it’s not like they were looked to or seen as driving the agenda in Brussels,” argued the Atlantic Council’s Wilson.

"In 2009, to stem the flow of Tories to UKIP, Cameron pulled the party out of the Continent-wide center-right European People’s Party, which includes Merkel’s Christian Democrats and is pro-European. And the Brexit debate has distracted the U.K. from broader European issues. While the EU fixated on how to stem the flow of migrants and relocate those that had made it to Europe this past February, Cameron forced the European Council to spend its February meeting re-negotiating the country’s relationship with the EU."

"And by reducing its influence in Europe, some argue, the U.K. may have reduced its clout as a U.S. ally in Brussels. When Cameron invited Obama to London in April to bolster his anti-Brexit campaign, the president made the case that the U.K.’s EU membership matters for the United States."

“We have confidence that when the U.K. is involved in a problem that they’re going to help solve it in the right way,” Obama said.

"Dan Hamilton, director of the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Transatlantic Relations in Washington and a former State Department official on Europe, argues that “the idea that the U.K. was the U.S. mole on the EU council is sort of denigrating to both countries.”

Still, he said, “the U.K.’s diffidence towards the EU for so many years diminished their clout,” he says. “Increasingly, U.S. officials have seen if you want to get something done in Europe you work with the power that knows how to work with the EU.”

And that, he says, is Germany."

So what's clear is that domestic UK politics have lead the country to recede from world affairs more and more. 

And maybe contracting into Little England next.

That Person Cannot be Me

In a very surprising announcement, Boris Johnson has taken himself out of the running:

"Boris Johnson will not run for the post of Conservative Party leader and U.K. prime minister, he announced on Thursday, saying he preferred to support the next Tory government and “stick up for the forgotten people of this country.”

"The former London mayor’s surprise decision followed the equally unexpected announcement earlier on Thursday that his fellow Leave campaigner Michael Gove, the justice secretary, was throwing his hat in the ring for the Tory leadership."

"After laying out his vision for an inclusive country that welcomed immigrants and would have greater influence around the world thanks to last week’s vote to leave the EU, Johnson dropped a bombshell by saying: “Having consulted colleagues, and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot by me.”

“My role will be to give every possible support to the next conservative administration,” said Johnson.

"Gove said he had decided to run for leader on his own, rather than backing Johnson, because “Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”

It's tempting to celebrate the demise of Johnson. Maybe not though. If anything, the one good thing about Johnson is despite his advocacy for Brexit he knew perfectly well it's a batty idea that he was cynically manipulating for personal gain.

Gove on the other hand is worse. For him 'Brexit means Brexit.'

"So now it shapes up to be a fight between two cabinet rivals, who have clashed often and bitterly: Gove v Theresa May. If those are the two who go ahead to the ballot of party members then, as a leaver, Gove will have the initial advantage. Still, May succeeded today in looking like a plausible, capable prime minister, even if Gove is the more stirring speaker."

"All this matters to all of us because Conservative party members are about to choose the country’s prime minister, the person who will shape Britain’s post-referendum relationship with Europe. The choice now is between, in Gove, a true Brexit believer and, in May, a candidate who today declared “Brexit means Brexit”. Those who had hoped that the next prime minister might look for a fudge, a way out of the 23 June verdict, need to lower their expectations – and accept that out might really mean out."

If I were in Britain, I'd be Labour-though that's not much to brag about anymore as the party is hopeless now. The only hope for Britain now is the Tories don't select a Brexiter.

Tom Brown had this great quote from John Oliver that I agree with. I always thought I'd love to see David Cameron forced to step down but not like this.

It seems clear that for the future of Britain you have to root for Theresa May who is all about 'One Britain.'

One Britain means anti Brexit as it's the only way to be sure it remains One Britain.

Could 2016 be the year where the best man for the job will be a woman on both sides of the Atlantic?

If you want a negative endorsement for Gove here it is:

Source who knows Murdoch's thinking tells me: "Rupert will be massively conflicted. He loves both [Gove and Boris] and will hate to choose."

As Marina Hynde says, Boris ends up being the man who wouldn't clean up his own mess:

"Thanks to the scheming Gove, we’ll never know how much of a #massivelegend Boris Johnson is outside London and the Home Counties"

Ok, here is what 'the political analyst market' at the Guardian is saying about what this means.

"Jonathan Freedland: ‘Remainers will have to accept Brexit now’

"So now it shapes up to be a fight between two cabinet rivals, who have clashed often and bitterly: Gove v Theresa May. If those are the two who go ahead to the ballot of party members then, as a leaver, Gove will have the initial advantage. Still, May succeeded today in looking like a plausible, capable prime minister, even if Gove is the more stirring speaker."

Please let it be May. Zoe Williams says it will be May. I like her:

Zoe Williams: ‘This could give Theresa May the prize’

"The surprise departure of Boris Johnson slightly diminishes the case for Theresa May, since her qualities – maturity, responsibility, the safety of a person who at least has some regard for the truth – were much more pronounced set against his lack of them. Nicky Morganwould have been a good opponent, since she underlines how sober and imperturbable May is, the calming effect she has by not looking constantly astonished, as if she’s been bitten. Yet May still benefits from comparison with the other – against Michael Gove, she looks normal. Against Stephen Crabb, she looks like a household name. Next to Andrea Leadsom, May looks charismatic."

"Naturally, May brings qualities of her own to the table: the apparent enjoyment she takes in standing up to the Police Federation has been enough to generate the inevitable comparisons with Margaret Thatcher, even though she is not a radical, not an ideologue, not a show-stopper. Indeed, their principal shared trait is the condition of being female. It would be no surprise at all to see May the winner of this contest, and then the nation, head-tilted, saying, “Really? Not one of those MPs people seemed to like?”

Maturity, responsibility, some regard for truth? Not a radical, not an ideologue, not a show-stopper? That's the female leader May resembles: Hillary Clinton.

This is the choice of Atlantic leadership: President Trump and Prime Minister Gove or President Hillary and PM May.

Gove to me sounds worse than Boris as he really seems to believe in Brexit.

More elite Guardian opinion. A futures' market in elite Guardian opinion:

Mary Dejevsky: ‘May v Gove will bring a more substantial tone’

"If you still thought that the past week was a long time in politics, try this morning. Within the space of a couple of hours, the whole dynamic of the Cameron succession was turned upside down. Michael Gove was in, Boris Johnson was out, and Theresa May’s unique selling point as the safest pair of hands looked a little less unique after all."

"May v Gove – though Stephen Crabb, Andrea Leadsom and others may yet come up on the outside – will have a quite different, and more substantial, tone from May v Johnson. May’s pluses are her sheer competence and her acceptability across to the party’s remainers. It is the leavers she has to convince, and she started to do this in her speech, insisting that last week’s vote was final, there would be no second referendum, and she would not call a swift general election. Without Johnson and with Gove, however, the whole complexion of the contest has changed."

Again, safe hands. If there is ever a time for safe hands, it's now.

Mark Wallace: ‘Gove shook the political earth’

"Never again let anybody say that politics is boring. The last few hours have provided the most knuckle-whitening ride the Conservative party has seen since the fall of Thatcher in November 1990."

"This morning, Boris Johnson was cock of the walk – he looked set to make further progress towards his childhood ambition to become “world king”. Stephen Crabb had gained ground after a positive launch, and all eyes were on Theresa May, to see how she would fare in launching her bid."

"Then, at two minutes past nine, everything changed. Michael Gove announced that he would be standing. Not only that, but he justified the decision with a devastating judgment: “Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”

"The political earth shook – Gove had provided Johnson not only with a powerful endorsement but also with the support of many leaver MPs, several of whom saw his presence as a guarantor that there would be no dilution of Brexit."

"Amid all the chaos, a comfortable and confident May made the most of her opportunity. Certainty and stability were at the heart of her pitch, and she was more than happy for her rivals to illuminate those themes for her. The race is far from over – in all likelihood she will still have a long summer battling one of Gove, Leadsom, Fox or Crabb – but she clearly knew that the morning’s events helped her above all others."

Let's hope that's the case. If we have Hillary Clinton and Teresa May at the end of the year, both countries will have dodged a serious bullet.

As for old Boris? I think he knew this Brexit thing was madness from the start. He had expected it to lose but his support of it to give him the standing to be the next PM.

Now that dog actually caught the car he was hoisted on his own petard.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Has Trump's Campaign Proven 'Nothing Matters?'

The media still has learned nothing from its failures:

"It’s become fashionable to claim that Trump is showing that “nothing matters” in campaigns, but Jonathan Bernstein argues that the positions and flip flops that Trump is adopting actually do matter, and are taking a real toll on his standing"

The first and foremost problem with this is Trump is losing and badly. How does this shows 'nothing matters' or that he's' Teflon?

The media was wrong about Trump's chances in the primary-they were way to pessimistic. They were to pessimistic about Brexit-though I sort of was myself on that one.

Now they are too optimistic about his chances in the general. First hint: follow the polls not your intuition.

You can argue about causation: why exactly is Trump losing but there's no doubt that he is. So how can you definitively claim that his candidacy proves that flip flopping doesn't hurt, etc?

There was this absurd piece-which Bernstein calls out which argues that unlike John Kerry, Trump is not hurt by flip-flopping.

"Many in the media seem to be having some difficulties comprehending just how badly Donald Trump is doing, and how unusual it is for the Republican Party to be so resistant to their own presidential nominee."

"Alan Rappeport and Maggie Haberman have a perfectly fine piece in the New York Times today listing the many issues on which Trump has flip-flopped. But the preface is bizarre: They compare Trump to Secretary of State John Kerry in his 2004 run for president, and claim Kerry was destroyed by charges of flip-flopping while Trump “has so far avoided much harm” from switching positions on core issues of public policy."

"For the record: Kerry lost narrowly to George W. Bush, a fairly popular sitting president. Trump is currently falling about 7 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton, even though she appears to be quite unpopular herself -- perhaps because Trump is the most unpopular major party presidential nominee in the polling era. And while Kerry had solid backing from Democratic Party actors in 2004, practically every prominent Republican seems to have come down with a severe case of needing-to-wash-their-hair the week of July 18, rendering them unable to make it to Cleveland for the party’s convention."

I do agree the media is doing a poor job of assessing how badly Trump is doing. Often you'll hear: well she's just winning by 5 points which is piratically a tie.'

Hillary's lead is always averaged down. This morning the Quinnipiac poll was hailed as a 'dead heat' even though she has a two point lead in it-the average is actually 7 now.

But Obama won by 5 in 2012 and it was a near landslide in terms of the electoral college.

If she wins by 7 this will be in line with Obama's lopsided 2008 win. With all these normal Red States becoming tossups, maybe she can win by slightly more even.

By the way, even this irks me a little. Jennifer Rubin:

"Trump on Muslim ban: Fooled ya!"

Her overall post here is good. But how exactly did he fool us? What I mean is this seems to assume he didn't mean he would do a Muslim ban as he''s now 'flip flopped.'

But I think where he really fools 'us' is if we buy into the idea that he's ruled out the ban. All he has really done is reframed it. 

Now he tries to justify it as just banning immigration from those countries with Islamic terrorism-which just happen to be Islamic. 

But is this an actual change in policy? Of course not. 

My theory of how you interpret Trump. 

1. Take him at his word. Don't divine for him that 'He probably is only fooling.'

2. If he has taken multiple positions assume the accurate one is the worst one. 

He has to pay the price for his deliberate 'uncertainty.' Voters can't vote for someone who won't tell them what he'll do until after he's President and he does what he will do. 

In any case, much of the 'flip flops' are just reframing the issue. 

For instance on the minimum wage, people get very confused-as is his intent. But in truth he's said:

1. Wages are too high

2. He doesn't know how workers get by on $7.25 an hour

3. He wants to eliminate the federal MW.

I'd argue that none of this is actually a contradiction, he's just reframing his position and too many seem to fall for it. 

The Best Way to Gauge Who Will Win

Doug Sosnik's title won't please a lot of pundits who want to make this as suspenseful as possible. But Sosnik goes ahead and tells us who will win 2016.

The 2016 election is already decided. History says Hillary Clinton wins.

Many might protest that the voting is not for over five months. But I think his resaoning is fairly compelling.

It is no more complicated than two words: President Obama. He is popular, so Hillary-who is effectively running as his VP-will win.

"If history is any guide, the outcome of this year’s presidential election has already been decided."

"With the exception of 2000, the result of every presidential election since, and including, 1980 has been determined before the general election even officially began. In fact, most of these elections were effectively decided by this point in the cycle."

"The single best predictor of the electoral outcome is the job approval of the incumbent president — even one who’s not on the ballot. In four of the five elections since 1980 when the incumbent president’s job approval was at or above 50 percent, that party held the White House. The outlier was 2000, when President Bill Clinton enjoyed a 57 percent job approval rating in October yet Al Gore “lost” to George W. Bush."

"In the three elections when the incumbent’s job approval fell below 40 percent in the final year of his term, the party suffered overwhelming defeats."

You have to say that at least on a historical basis, this is very predictive. Gore of course arguably didn't really lose-I certainly never thought so and even Katherine Harris' buddy Mac Stipanovic pretty coyly admitted as much recently.

But you can also argue that it would not have been so close if Gore had not run from Bill Clinton. Yes, Gore was embarrassed of Clinton's zipper problem but did he really think anyone would think that of him?

As for Carter, his approval rating was awful even if Jon Anderson's third party moderate challenge to Reagan made the race seem closer than it was.

"Some might argue that Jimmy Carter’s experience in 1980 disproves my point about races being decided by this point, but it doesn’t. True, Carter was leading in national polls in a three-way race (remember John Anderson?) until mid-October. But by June 1980, Carter’s job approval had dropped to 31 percent — and it never significantly improved during the remainder of the campaign."

"The nature of a three-way race masked the core of public dissatisfaction with Carter and prolonged until the end of the election the consolidation of the nearly 70 percent anti-Carter vote, which ultimately resulted in Ronald Reagan’s landslide win. By the beginning of the summer of 1980, with 2 out of 3 Americans disapproving of Carter’s performance in office, there was little doubt that the country would not give him four more years."

We can argue about outliers or cherrypicked numbers. The overall picture though is she's leading by an average of 7 points nationally and she's now leading in every 'battleground' state accept Georgia according to RCP.

And RCP refused to factor in the Ballotopedia poll-I guess they presumed it's an outlier. So she leads in all those swing states despite not counting Ballotopedia.

Predictably they did count the Quinnipiac poll which shows it at just a two point race nationally.

Harry Enten:

"I guess my favorite part of the Ballotpedia thing is their "overall" result has Clinton +11 over Trump. Not too different from the ABC poll."

Point is that there should be "outliers". Not everything should be too neat. And don't try to outsmart the polls.

"When the numbers were different, folks usually look for a reason to dismiss the numbers. I see nothing wrong in the methodology per se (2/?)"

Since Clinton became presumptive nominee she leads by 4 (Susa), 6 (Q-Pac), 3 (YouGov), 13 (St Leo), 13 (Ballotpedia) in Florida polls..

So that would give her a 7.2 percent lead there-on average. Considering that any Democrat starts with about 243 electoral votes, this is enough by itself to make it over.

Don't get me wrong. We don't want to be complacent. Like Obama says, we should play scared.

Complacency is not good but the antidote to complacency is not panic.

The media desperately wants to sell a close race and one where Hillary is in terrible trouble. We don't want to be complacent but we also don't want to get taken in by nonsense.

Like Brexit, Just Worse

Let's try learning from the Brits. Richard Wolfe:

So now we know what to expect from the first days living under President-elect Donald Trump.

Yes, it feels strange to put those words together. But things feel even stranger in the UK, where the unthinkable has quickly turned into the ungovernable. Judging from the British experience since the Brexit vote, American voters can draw some clear indications about those first tumultuous days of a Trump transition to power.

First comes the shock to the markets, as they realize their investment positions were as wildly mistaken as the polls they so confidently discounted. Since the surprise British vote to leave the European Union, the pound has dropped to a 31-year low, the country’s credit ratings have been downgraded, and the stock market has lost $140bn of value."

"To a normal presidential candidate, this might be seen as a cause for some concern. But to Donald Trump, this kind of global turmoil is just another reason to pat himself on the back. “Crooked Hillary Clinton got Brexit wrong,” he tweeted. “I said LEAVE will win. She has no sense of markets and such bad judgement.”

What does this even mean 'She got it wrong?'

Trump fails to understand, he's running for President not to be the First Market Forecaster. That is not a skill required to be a good President, Indeed, engaging in market forecasting is probably something the POTUS should stay out of.

We see what happened when the Brits went down the rabbit hole. Larry Summers argues it would be worse in the case of Trump than Brexit:

"First, there is a substantial risk of highly erratic policy. Mr Trump has raised the possibility of more than $10tn in tax cuts, which would threaten US fiscal stability. He has also raised the possibility of the US restructuring its debt in the manner of a failed real estate developer. Perhaps this is just campaign rhetoric. But historical research suggests that presidents tend to carry out their major campaign promises."

"The shadow boxing over raising the debt limit in 2011 (where all participants recognized the danger of default) was central to the stock market falling by 17 per cent."

Yes. The 2011 game of debt ceiling chicken lead to a credit downgrade just like Brexit did. Now Trump is casually discussing defaulting on the debt as a way to get a 'better deal' from creditors. 

You don't need to be a good market forecaster in the market to be POTUS-better yet you should probably abstain from doing so as this leads to less rather than more confidence. 

What you actually want is credibility. Keeping markets and other countries in the dark is the opposite of inspiring confidence or credibility. 

It leads to panic. So even if he had great policies, by hiding these from the public and keeping us guessing it still leads to disaster. 

But everything we've seen suggests his policies are quite a bit less than great. 

"With such awesome predictive powers and market insights, the reality TV star should have no problem foreseeing the market response to his own victory."

"The currency and bond markets will get spooked by the dawning reality of a new president who, over the next decade, will likely add $11.5tn to the already huge national debt of $14tn."

"As the traders and analysts consider that ballooning debt, they will recall Trump’s plan to default on that debt by renegotiating with creditors in some giant national bankruptcy proceeding. “I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal,” he told CNBC.

That's how he handled his business bankruptices, after all.

"If all that weren’t enough to dump the dollar and Treasury bonds, the markets could always justify their panic by considering Trump’s next step. When economists challenged his debt default idea, Trump had another brainwave that is well known to the rulers of banana republics: “First of all, you never have to default because you print the money,” he explained on CNN.

"As that financial crisis unfolds, President-elect Trump will ready his plan to declare China a currency manipulator in January 2017 and impose a 45% tariff on Chinese imports. The result will be a trade war with the single largest holder of US debt, as well as a swift referral to the World Trade Organization."

This scenario does not faze the property developer, who helpfully explained last month: “Who the hell cares if there’s a trade war?”

"He might want to ask the brains behind the Leave campaign, whose success he so cleverly predicted."

"Boris Johnson, the campaign’s highest-profile leader, made it clear he wants to carry on trading freely with the EU, minus all that pesky immigration, financial support and legal complexity. The EU has reacted poorly to this fanciful idea, with the German foreign minister bluntly telling Der Spiegel: “In is in. Out is out.”

"What naturally follows is a whopping adjustment to reality. For the fervent supporters of these straight-talking insurgents, this phase of weasel-worded backtracking is particularly uncomfortable."

To calculate how disastrous Trump will be simply multiply Brexit by a factor of 10.

Chris Stevens Sister: Don't Blame Hillary Clinton for Benghazi

Yesterday the GOP released their final Benghazi report that told us nothing new and showed no wrongdoing on Hilary's part.

Don't believe me, believe Marco Rubio:

"The House Select Cmte report on Benghazi tells us what we already know - Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being Commander in Chief."

Yes, but Hitler 2.0 is qualified, right Little Marco?

Not for the first time, Little Marco makes zero sense. He admits that the report tells us nothing we didn't already know.

No wonder Rubio's losing in bid to take back his own seat that he wasn't running for.

Rubio should pledge to the Florida voters not to run for President in 2020 or they should forget him.

As Hillary says, it's time to move on.

You know who else is happy to move on? Ambassador Steven's sister. Obviously the pain of her personal loss is great.

But she has had it with the GOP's politically motivated attempt to make this about Hillary Clinton and wrongfully blame her for this terrible loss.

"When it comes to who was responsible for the security lapses that resulted in the death of her brother, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, the ambassador's sister and family spokesperson, Anne Stevens, is not pointing the finger at Hillary Clinton. And it is "inappropriate," she said, to make Benghazi an election issue."

"I do not blame Hillary Clinton or Leon Panetta," Stevens said in an interview published Tuesday with The New Yorker's Robin Wright, referring to the former secretaries of State and defense, respectively. "They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed. We know that now. But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself."

"Instead, Stevens remarked that if any entity had any culpability, it was Congress for the State Department's budget."

"Perhaps if Congress had provided a budget to increase security for all missions around the world, then some of the requests for more security in Libya would have been granted," Stevens told Wright.

"As far as the reports issued this week by Democratic and Republican members of the House Benghazi Committee, Stevens indicated that she had learned very little. "It doesn’t look like anything new. They concluded that the U.S. compound in Benghazi was not secure. We knew that," she told Wright. While she remarked that her brother knew of and spoke of the risks of being in Libya, she never heard him discuss it as a personal concern, rather in terms of the rampant militias and loose weapons."

Asked whether she felt her brother's death had been politicized, Stevens was adamant.

"Yes! Definitely politicized. Every report I read that mentions him specifically has a political bent, an accusatory bent," Stevens said. "One point that seems to be brought up again and again is the accusation that the attack was a response to the video. I could understand why that conclusion would be made, because it was right after the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. But, frankly, it doesn’t matter that that was the thinking, that night, about why the attack occurred. It’s irrelevant to bring that up again and again. It is done purely for political reasons."

Read more:

In other news Trump tweeted this:

Benghazi is just another Hillary Clinton failure. It just never seems to work the way it's supposed to with Clinton."

I'm sure when he hears the wishes of Ann Stevens, he'll take it back.

Brexit Might not Happen at all?

So argues John Cassidy, and fairly persuasively. Go by what they do for and foremost. It's notable what David Cameron did and did not do after the vote.

"As I noted on Friday, Britain won’t be exiting the E.U. anytime soon. If and when the U.K. government invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty of 2007, which grants member states the right to leave, there will be at least two years of negotiations about the terms of Britain’s future relationship with Europe. And that invocation of Article 50 is likely to be delayed for quite a while."

"Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to resign in the fall has stopped the clock until a new leader of the Conservative Party is elected to replace him, which won’t be until the start of September. Even if Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, who helped lead the Leave campaign, were to win the leadership vote, it’s not clear when he would invoke Article 50. In a column for the Telegraph on Monday, Johnson said that Britain’s departure from the E.U. “will not come in any great rush.” Indeed, his primary intention seemed to be to prevent panic. “I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be,” he wrote

"As someone who has watched Johnson’s rise, with amusement, since he was a journalist living in Brussels and writing scare stories about the European Union for the Telegraph, I wouldn’t necessarily take anything he says at face value. In this instance, though, he may have inadvertently told the truth. Four days after the British public voted, narrowly, to leave the European Union, there are reasons to doubt that the referendum result will ever be implemented."

Yes, the rise of Boris Johnson is sort of funny just like the rise of Donald Trump. Like with Trump it's also kind of scary that Johnson has a good chance to be the next UK Prime Minister.

I do get the sense though that Johnson no more than Cameron ever expected Brexit to happen. Both had manipulated this absurd issue for political gain and both have egg on their faces.

Johnson wants to be PM but not to be the one to handle Article 50.

"If Cameron had invoked Article 50 on Friday morning, Britain would now be on its way out: the exit process is irreversible. But thanks to the Prime Minister’s clever maneuver—which is surely what it was—the country has some time to reflect on the consequences of Brexit, which are already turning out to be far more serious than many of the people who voted Leave realized. In addition to plunging the country’s political system into chaos, the referendum result has prompted a big fall in the stock market and the value of the pound sterling, and it has raised questions about Britain’s creditworthiness. On Monday night, news came out that Standard & Poor’s had stripped Britain of its triple-A credit rating, another blow to investors. Ordinary people may be more concerned that, with the school holidays coming up, the cost of taking a European vacation, which many Brits of all social classes do every year, has jumped by about twelve per cent."

What seems likely is that if it does happen it won't be for awhile.

"If Leave supporters could have foreseen the result of their votes, how many would have changed sides? Vox-pop interviews conducted in the course of the weekend indicated that at least some of them were having second thoughts. And one prominent Brexit campaigner has wavered, as well."

“When I put my cross against leave I felt a surge as though for the first time in my life my vote did count. I had power,” Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of the Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, wrote on Monday. “Four days later, I don’t feel quite the same. I have buyer’s remorse. A sense of be careful what you wish for. To be truthful I am fearful of what lies ahead.”

How can you not be? Here is a piece by someone who voted Brexit, Sean O'Grady who now says they will stay in the EU after all.

"Brexit won't happen in the end – here's why."

"I voted Leave – but, looking at the reasons, it's undeniable that we'll stay in the European Union after all."

"Even for an optimistic Brexiteer like me, the last few days have been difficult. Many people who voted out are already feeling a bit betrayed as certain fundamental truths sink in. The “uncertainty” is already affecting the real economy as we see. Project Fear probably understated some of the dangers, though overstated others absurdly, the latter as former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King has said (a calm voice in these frenetic times)."

"Before long this uncertainty will feed through even more concretely from the slightly abstract world of financial markets and exchange rates through to jobs, savings, and, above all, the value of people’s homes, which is where most people’s wealth is stored (especially some of the less well-off voters who opted for “Leave”). This is really why I suspect Brexit won’t, in the end, come to pass – because most voters can’t afford it in the short run, whatever the longer term advantages. Call it blackmail by the financiers or the Establishment if you wish, but it is a fairly nasty ransom note all the same."
Like Keynes said: In the long run we are all dead.

As O'Grady notes, foundational questions like this are not best for a 50+.1 vote.

"The margin for Leave was pretty small, in reality, and so the mandate is weak. Most countries have a constitutional convention that big changes have to command a two-thirds vote in a legislature or referendum, and this was nowhere near it. In the early 1970s, when Ted Heath took us in (without a referendum), the phrase used by him was that he needed the “full-hearted consent” of the British people to take such a momentous decision. It probably wasn’t there in 1971-72, but it certainly isn’t there now. Some Brexiteers are suffering profound regret, and we may as well acknowledge that, such is the gravity of the situation. They do not want to wait the many years, perhaps decades it will take for Brexit to be the better option for them and their families (ironically it is the young who have time on their side to enjoy the post-Brexit future, but I won’t press that point)."

The young are the ones who's future older voters like O'Grady have scrambled. As it's about their future, maybe only the young should have been allowed to vote? But he does admit that what Brexit amounts to is sacrificing years or even decades for some alleged benefit way down the road.

"We live in a democracy where Parliament is sovereign. That means that only Parliament can give effect to the will of the people. David Lammy's idea that Parliament can just ignore the referendum is going too far, but it is true that Parliament's job is to decide what to do next. So what shall we do next?"
This Brexit voter concludes:

"We all know that if there was a referendum on holding a second referendum, the people would be in favour of having another vote. It is certainly the general view in Parliament, and of course we now have the Scottish and Irish dimensions to the problem now crystallising, as well as economic realities. People want to think again, and the politicians have a duty to let them."

Trump's Economic Plan: Where's the Beef?

He claims that trade deals 'rape' the American people.

In the same speech, he called for the return of waterboarding 'and worse.' This is also someone who's lawyers in the past has argued that a husband can't rape his wife and has been accused personally of rape.

The candidate also repeatedly compared the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal to rape. The remarks came just hours after Trump delivered a speech on trade policy outlining his populist protectionist views on America’s economic role in the world. Unlike in that speech, Trump didn’t use a teleprompter on Tuesday and three times compared TPP to “the rape of our country”.
The remarks were not the first time Trump has referenced rape on the campaign trail. In May, the real estate developer said “we can’t continue to allow China to rape our country”, and at his announcement speech in June 2015 he accused the Mexican government of deliberately sending rapists across the border into the US.

If there is a lasting theme with Trump through the many years he toyed with running for President, it's been his obsession with 'bad trade deals' and the idea that other countries are 'raping' us. 

He was saying this in the 80s. But it's always nonwhite countries he mentions: Japan, China, Mexico, etc. 

I ask where's the beef as that's all that's here. His whole economic plan is to rip up trade deals and push 'fair trade.'

But that's what everyone says. Bill Clinton when he supported NAFTA also pushed for wage and enviornmental protections, regulations, etc. 

But what's 'fair' in our minds is not necessarily going to be 'fair' in the minds of the countries we negotiate. Trump, like Bernie in the primary acts as if it's just up to us. 

As for simply taking unilateral action-we saw how well this worked in Brexit. 

Jamelle Bouie on the clear racial aspect of 'ripping up bad trade deals.'

"My backlash theory: Civil rights + globalization broke social contract between *white* workers & *white* elites."

"Idea that Trump's message could resonate with a larger group of voters only makes sense if you ignore extent to which it is white nostalgia."

"And that's why it's happening now, in the wake of Great Recession, as nonwhites begin to achieve more than nominal equality."

"That's why it takes form it does: These workers are now subject to same market forces as nonwhites AND no longer get status of whiteness."

"There's a lot of truth in this. Even Brexit would not have passed with more minority voters."

"In any case Trump's entire 'populist' pitch is being anti trade. He also says that wages are too high and that he wants to eliminate the minimum wage, while having huge tax cuts for the rich with no way to pay for them: which will mean in effect, tax hikes for everyone else in terms of lower government spending."

"Even the claim that he won't cut Social Security is more myth than legend."

He also thinks that kids with Schizophrenia 'fake it' but I digress.

We can point out that Trump praised outsourcing himself in the past.

But Matt Yglesias makes the more fundamental point that rescuing the American worker by bringing back manufacturing jobs is fool's gold.

"American trade policy could certainly be improved upon, but the fact of the matter is that nothing Trump or any other trade skeptic proposes is going to bring back the heyday of American manufacturing jobs, for the simple reason that when you look at the data, the decline of manufacturing employment actually doesn't reflect a broader decline in the state of American manufacturing. In fact, the output — as measured in inflation-adjusted dollars — of the US manufacturing sector is higher than it's ever been, even as manufacturing employment has barely recovered from its recession-era lows."

"One reason for these divergent trends is that as you might expect, the segments of the manufacturing supply chain that tend to migrate to Mexico or Asia are the ones that are the most labor-intensive and have the lowest value added in terms of complexity or intellectual property. So when factories go overseas, they tend to be unusually "jobful" factories relative to the ones that stay."

"The other reason is that companies involved in manufacturing are working relentlessly to improve the productivity of their operations and do more with less labor. This is, in some respects, a cause of the relatively high wages we associate with the manufacturing sector — workers can get paid more when their work generates a lot of value. And it's in some respects a consequence of relatively high wages. If you have to pay a lot for your workers, it makes sense to invest in figuring out ways to use less of them."

"Either way, the very strong implication is that any steps we take to strengthen the manufacturing sector are going to have a fairly marginal impact on manufacturing employment."

"For better or for worse, the bulk of employment growth in the future is going to come from health care and other in-person services — and we're going to have to find a way to make a services-oriented economy work, not waste our time pining for the good old days of factory work."

I think that's the real key. Just like Americans in the early 20th century begun to leave the farm for the factory, Americans have now stopped working for the factory.

What's next? It's how to bring work place regulations and labor laws into the 21st century 'gig economy' as Nick Hanauer has talked about and Hillary has proposed.

This way your benefits can be portable between jobs and laws governing wages are observed.

Here is Hanauer's book

For more on the trouble with Trump's protectionism, see here.

A Sober, Serious World That Needs Sober, Serious People Who Know What They're Doing

These were the striking words of Wendy Sherman on Lawrence O'Donnell last night, the former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.

As she said, it's a complex world. There are no simple solutions much less a simple slogan or single one sentence that is going to solve the problems of a complex world.

She made this point in the aftermath of yet another terrorist attack where suicide bombers have now hit the Instanbul airport in Turkey that killed 36 people while wounding 140.

The Turkish government blames ISIS.

Well a lot of people like simple solutions and single one sentences that are supposed to be silver bullets. At least in the UK they did. We see how well that worked.

Speaking of serious, sober people who know what they're doing, Donald Trump in response to Turkey declared: 'There's something going on.'

Reacting to the bombing at Istanbul's Ataturk airport that killed at least 28 people and injured 60 others, Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that the United States "must do everything possible" to prevent similar acts of terrorism in the United States.

"Yet another terrorist attack, this time in Turkey. Will the world ever realize what is going on? So sad," Trump tweeted.

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He then called for waterboarding, 'and tougher.'

"Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reiterated his call for the return of waterboarding and the use of other harsh interrogation techniques following the deadly terror attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on Tuesday."

“You have to fight fire with fire,” Trump told supporters during a rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio.

The pronouncement drew cheers and chants of “USA! USA

Ryan Cooper has a good explanation of why President Obama's approval rating is up again.

"The economy is doing reasonably okay, particularly compared to several years ago, and as Obama himself is not running for re-election, some of the partisan hatred has passed to Clinton. But perhaps more importantly, Obama's personality is extraordinarily well-suited for this political moment. Like him or hate him, you have to admit that he is even-keeled almost to a fault. Always cool, always considered, Obama never flies off the handle and rarely expresses any emotion aside from a wry humor. In a chaotic world, Obama is a reassuring presence."

"This kind of clamor and chaos seems to be happening every other week in 2016. Even aside from the horrifying spree killings and endless war in the Middle East, the tectonic plates of politics in Western nations are crumbling. Open bigotry and ethnic nationalism are making huge political inroads, and pointless austerity has badly damaged or destroyed the political establishment in many countries — Spain, to pick one example out of many, just had its two hung parliaments after not a single one since the end of the Franco dictatorship."

"A deranged maniac is about to become the official presidential nominee of the Republican Party. It seems a safe bet at this point that Trump is not going to discover some inner reservoir of quiet intelligence. He's a hair-trigger showboating ignoramus to the bone. And as the campaign goes on, and Trump says goofy, alarming nonsense in response to one crisis after another, Obama's quiet, competent reserve is going to look increasingly appealing."

Of course, as usual, Cooper has to say something negative about Hillary in the comparison.

"Hillary Clinton will only benefit partially from this, of course. She simply does not have Obama's unflappability. "

But what she does have going for her is she's a sober, serious person who knows what she's doing. She's qualified for the job and won't panic markets and the international order.

The appeal of this is becoming even clearer after Brexit.

Crooked or Incompetence or Probably Both

They say those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Yet Trump continues to call Hillary the crooked one.

"Today TPM's Caitlin MacNeal brought us the news that Donald Trump and his scion Donald Trump Jr have been bombarding members of the UK House of Commons with fundraising email spam asking for contributions to his political campaign. He even offers to match their illegal foreign contributions dollar for dollar from his own fortune up to two million dollars."

"Accepting contributions from foreign nationals is illegal of course though in this case it seems more a matter of incompetence than criminal intent, as though Trump has bought his email list not for a party list vendor but maybe from a Nigerian email scammer. In any case, it's not just the UK. It turns out some or perhaps all members of the Icelandic parliament have also receiving fundraising emails from the Trump campaign asking for money."

"Imagine what a proud moment this is for you as an American (from the IcelandMonitor ...)"

"At least three prominent Icelandic politicians have received an e-mail from US presidential candidate Donald Trump asking for money to fund his campaign."

"Leader of the Left-Green Alliance Katrín Jakobsdóttir was one of those to receive the e-mail yesterday afternoon, in which Trump pledged personally to match any donation made in the next 48 hours from his own pocket."

“I’m fighting back against Crooked Hillary and her pathetic cronies, as well as the dishonest liberal media, and I need your help,” reads the e-mail.

"Or here, another bewildered Icelandic MP is quote in Iceland Magazine ..."

“I have no idea why he emailed me the letter,” MP Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, a member of the Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) and one of the emails recipients, told Morgublaðið newspaper.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, head of the Left Green Party, received an email from Trump. “This whole matter is very perplexing. The letter left me speechless,” she said.

"Late Update: And bizarrely enough, there's more. Trump has apparently also been hitting up the entire Australian parliament for contributions ."

Imagine if Hillary's team had been doing this whether merely through incompetence or not?

In other news, Trump plans to end 'bad trade deals and promote fair trade.' How is he going to do that? Through having smart advisers.

Are they the anything like the smart advisers he has that use a Nigerian mail scam list and just broke US federal election laws?

In the fundraising email to an Australia MP he bragged about Brexit. If he were smart-we know the answer to this-he wouldn't keep talking about Brexit.

Scott Sumner in a reply to E. Harding:

"A recession right now would hurt Trump, as everyone would see it as resulting from Brexit, something TRUMP SUPPORTED."

"Trump better pray there is no recession in the next couple months. Otherwise people will blame him. I already blame him for supporting a vote that hit my 401k."

Anyway, if this were Hillary's team with these emails for fundraising from foreign nationals it wouldn't matter whether it was incompetence or real criminal intent.

You can imagine the media saying 'Saying that there was no criminal intent is not what you want from a Presidential nominee. It was wrong and raises grave questions.'

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On Jeremy Corbyn's Legitimacy

Harry Enten has a little persepctive on this whole Jeremy Corbyn vote of no confidence thing. I wrote about it earlier.

David Cameron with this Brexit mess was like Tom-from the old Tom and Jerry cartoons-leaving out a rake for Spike the dog to step on, forgetting it was still there and knocking himself out.

Boris Johnson is not much better as he never really wanted Brexit to win, just to use this issue to become Prime Minister.

Trouble is, Labour is too concerned about taking out Jeremy Corbyn to capitalize. Now you can argue that Labour is not respecting the democratic choice of Labour voters in this.

They had planned to grin and bear him as their party leader until the failure of Brexit-where Corbyn did nominally oppose it but his heart wasn't felt to really be in it.

But as Enten says, there's more to it.

I should point out that Corbyn won a leadership election with 250k votes or 2.7% of votes cast for Labour in 2015 general election (1/?)

In other words, there was a caucus to pick party leader.

For a comparison, Clinton won her primary in 2012 with something like 17 million votes or 26% of Obama's 2012 total votes. (2/?)."

If we had chosen by caucus, Bernie would be the Democratic nominee.

"I think the result is valid. Corbyn is certainly a valid leader. But that's different than saying Labour voters r behind him."

In other news, President Obama has a reaction to Brexit.
"As governments and markets around the world work to make sense of Britain’s vote last week to leave the European Union, President Barack Obama dismissed the global reaction to the seismic move as “hysteria.”

"In an interview on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Obama said he did not “anticipate that there is going to be major cataclysmic changes as a consequence of” the U.K.’s so-called Brexit vote. Europe’s core values will remain the same, the president said, as will its international priorities. And he downplayed concern that the U.K.’s exit from the EU was a sign of larger nationalist sentiments across the continent."

“I would not overstate it. There has been a little bit of hysteria, post Brexit vote,” Obama said. “As if somehow NATO is gone and the transatlantic alliance is dissolving and every country is rushing off to its own corner. That's not what's happening.”

"President Obama characterized the U.K. vote as little more than its citizens pressing the “pause button” on European integration, frustrated with the bureaucracy that is unavoidable among a group of 28 member states with diverse economies and cultures. He predicted that the U.K. would end up with a situation similar to Norway, which is not an EU member but aligns itself on “almost every issue with Europe and us.”

“I think this will be a moment in which all of Europe says: 'All right, let's take a breath and let's figure out how do we maintain some of our national identities, how do we preserve the benefits of integration and how do we deal with some of the frustrations that our own voters are feeling,'” Obama said. “But the basic core values of Europe, the tenets of liberal, market-based democracies, those aren’t changing.”

Read more:

Obama puts Trump's Brexit response to shame last week in showing how you respond to crises. You damp down on fear and panic and you act and talk in a way that restores confidence.

Interesting that he predicts the UK will become like Norway. We shall see.

Elizabeth Warren: There's Something Going on

I've been pretty skeptical of Elizabeth Warren Vice President talk. I always felt like she wouldn't work because she so strongly believes in her own ideas that she could never represent a President Hillary Clinton's ideas.

That's been my main reservation: an ideological mismatch. She has not been reluctant at time to come out against the Obama White House when she didn't agree-like on TPP, on Larry Summers for Fed Chairman, etc.

If she is in the White House she can't do that. This is why I always assumed it couldn't happen. And maybe that's the truth.

Maybe this is just a question of neutralizing Bernie and getting Warren some goodwill with the next Democratic Administration.

But after seeing them out on the trail again, I'm starting to think: maybe.

Maybe it's me, but they certainly seemed very comfortable with each other out there on the stump. Hillary seemed really to enjoy Warren's spiel. The worry has been that Warren could overshadow her.

But Hillary didn't show any such concern. They really seemed to be bonding. There was no awkwardness when you're trying to look like buddies but it's just not there.

So maybe Hilary really will double down like Bill did back in 1992 when he chose another Southern moderate for VP with Al Gore.

Once Bill and Al Gore were out the trail, they clearly had this chemistry together, throwing around the football together, etc.

Hillary and Warren seemed to have some real chemistry. So who knows?

In other news: the GOP has spent millions of dollars on Benghazi to admit that: Hillary did nothing wrong.

I guess the one thing they accomplished was the fake email scandal that clearly has hurt her favorability at least in the short term.

In other news still: A couple new PPP polls from Pennsylvania and Ohio, show Hillary leading Trump by 4 in both states.

This is a positive move for her in both states relative to polls from about a month ago.

There is also some shock to see her only trailing Trump by 8 points in Texas. Of course, we've seen them neck and neck in Utah. Clearly he's expanding the map.

Greg Sargent talks about how voters actually prefer Hillary's approach to Orlando in large numbers.

I think you'll find the same thing on Brexit, which I believe will further sober Americans  up on Trump to realize this is not a joke, so, let's not become a joke like Britain.