Character and Policy

The success that the Democrats will have in the midterms, will depend on the face that is associated with their run. The Democrats will be running every candidate against Donald Trump; the Republicans will be running every one of their candidates against Nancy Pelosi.  It may be hard for some to imaging which is more toxic, but Trump is more likely to have economic and policy successes filling his sails. Pelosi is most remembered for the devastating losses she brought her party. She lacks both charisma and policy success.

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The Great Equalizer Surprise

from The Wall Street Journal by Gregory Clark
“As a bizarre consequence of this pattern, African-Americans, who have low levels of net worth on average, are the social group for which inherited wealth represents the largest share of their net worth. Another odd implication is that inheritances tend to make overall wealth-holding more equal. Were inherited wealth to be completely abolished, the wealth of the poor would decline more than that of the rich. Inherited wealth is the great equalizer. Who knew?”

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Leveraging the Free Minds of the World

America’s success is a combination of constitutional liberty, heterogeneous culture that has a healthy disrespect for authority, solid protection of property rights, a respect for the common man and a classless society, and willingness to risk and fail. There are certainly hundreds of other attributes, but the combination is uniquely American.  Government’s function is to foster and protect the elements of our productive society. 

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Theological Supports

“That states should attempt to dispense with theological supports is one of the many crucial experiments that bewilder our brains and unsettle our ways today. Laws which were once presented as the decrees of a god-given king are now frankly the confused commands of fallible men. Education, which was the sacred province of god-inspired priests, becomes the task of men and women shorn of theological robes and awe, and relying on reason and persuasion to civilize young rebels who fear only the policeman and may never learn to reason at all. “

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The FANGs are Old News

Great moves forward, disruptive ground changing innovations do not happen consistently. They do not adhere to a plan or a budget.  The best we can do is create an environment that does not stifle them,  that attracts the bright and the motivated, but we do not know if they come from great tax policies, cultural collusion, ethnic diversity, great education, or just an environment of free thinkers.

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Handicapping the Mid Term

On the other hand, the Democrats have a few serious liabilities.  Nancy Pelosi will be the face of a Democratic victory in every local campaign. She is more toxic than Hillary. The revulsion to Nancy Pelosi was the driver of their stunning midterm loss in 2010.  Pelosi seriously limits their chance of success; the greatest fear of the GOP is that she will resign and not be in play to become Speaker of the House.

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Fake News Irony

In the past the media had lost respect because they were in a bubble and the world they reported  did not match the experience of many of the readers and viewers. The election  of Donald Trump incited such a rage that they abandoned all precedence of journalistic integrity as long as the outrage of the day fit their narrative.  Their bias became obvious and crippling.

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Focused Only on Political Outcomes

Is the political class acting like a bunch irresponsible juveniles, or are they just so focused on political outcomes they have long forgotten why they are there? The Democrats and some Republicans are more interested in pushing the racist label to the point of lunacy than solving DACA. 

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A Check on the Ruling Class

Progressivism sought to accomplish many of the populist goals of its day. In doing so it created a political class that was removed from the whims of the voters. It preached more democracy while it created less democratic accountability.  The political class practiced diversity of every sort except intellectual diversity, and became increasingly isolated. Populists need demons and their demon today is the elites, created in the laboratories of Progressive ideology.

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Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist

The sign on the Statue of Liberty does not ask for your Nobel Prize winners, your valedictorians and your Mensa members.  The state of Georgia was a penal colony. So was Australia.  In Israel the Ethiopians, airlifted in Operation Solomon, became stellar Israelis.  What made the United States, Australia and Israel the successful nations they became was not an immigration meritocracy, but the development of a system where those from the worst conditions in the world could rise so far above it that they created the greatest nations on earth.

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Racism and Freedom

Shelby Steele at the WSJ-
“When you don’t know how to go forward, you never just sit there; you go backward into what you know, into what is familiar and comfortable and, most of all, exonerating. You rebuild in your own mind the oppression that is fading from the world. “

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Populism and Progressivism

Progressivism has top down political structure, populism is a bottom up assault on the political structure.  Progressivism on one hand wants more democracy and a more powerful president to reflect the popular will.  Yet Progressivism also wants a professionally managed administrative state that is removed from the political process and thus from voter accountability.

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The Hong Kong Experiment

He avoided the accumulation of economic data, believing the cost of accumulating outweighed its value. He felt such data was used to enable economic planning which he opposed, and because it instilled a false sense of certainty about outcomes.  Cowperthwaite governed from principles, not data.

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Sanity Reconsidered

Obama was cool, calm, engaging, charismatic and measured in his responses.  His charm also obscured his record which was disappointing,  an intentional understatement.  Are we so enamored with style and personality that we ignore the policy successes and failures? The media may be, but the public may have more depth on the subject that we allow.

What if sanity was questioned based on substance instead of style?

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Isolating Blue States

It is a money decision.  Trump money-balled the electoral college and targeted just enough to win.  It is a poor investment to invest in races that are so overwhelmingly blue.  The result in the current scenario us that the most populous centers do not get a seat at the table and have little leverage to gain any. Thus the critical loss of the state tax deduction that hurts them disproportionately.  (now they have to argue that their wealthy taxpayers deserve a break.)

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Detours and Destinations

At some point ideology does matter. sound ideology must yield results but also requires commitment and patience. This requires the clarity of leadership that can balance ideology and pragmatism.  Pragmatism without ideology is a an unmoored ship that will eventually crash on the rocks.  Having a sound ideology, while acknowledging its imperfections, is a map that assures that detours do not become destinations.

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Diversity vs Pluralism

While identity politics claims a diversity of ethnic and sexual components; it is not intellectually pluralistic and shows remarkable intolerance for other political ideas or even the idea that political ideas that unite us should take priority over ethnic and sexual differences. The left champions the incomplete diversity of identity politics, but rejects the pluralism of competing political ideas.

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Tax Cut Fallacies

from John Cochrane
“The larger economic point: In the end, investment in the whole economy has nothing to do with the financial decisions of individual companies. Investment will increase if the marginal, after-tax, return to investment increases. Lowering the corporate tax rate operates on that marginal incentive to new investments. It does not operate by “giving companies cash” which they may use, individually, to buy new forklifts, or to send to investors. Thinking about the cash, and not the marginal incentive, is a central mistake. (It’s a mistake endemic to Keynesian economics, but the case here is supply-side, incentive oriented.)”

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It’s the Productivity, Stupid

Critics of the tax cuts do not trust the corporations to spend their cuts wisely.  This is the tragic flaw of progressivism.  We are supposed to trust the infinite wisdom and political interests of the state to spend our money, but always suspect the same money in private hands.

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Andrew Jackson and the Modern Presidency    

Historians can debate if Jackson moved us further away from the vision of the Constitution and its framers, as so many of his critics contended, or was a step in the evolution or the practical clarification of the vision to address the issues of his day.   There is much less agreement that his term was one of the most pivotal in the direction of our history.

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