Archive for the Category Trump Derangement Syndrome


What should our public schools teach?

With Trump the ordinary rules don’t apply.  Mere scandals are hardly worth reporting—the GOP will protect him regardless of what’s he’s done.  But yesterday brought something a bit novel, even for Trump.

Trump lied to Canadian leader Justin Trudeau, claiming the US ran a trade deficit with Canada.

Then Trump joked about the fact that he lied to Trudeau.  It was caught on tape, and it was played on all the TV news shows.

Then he repeated the lie in a tweet.

If you want to claim that it’s not a lie, that we do have a trade deficit with Canada, you are faced with the following problem.  The “Economic Report of the President” signed by Trump, claims the US has a trade surplus with Canada.  So he’s either lying in the Economic Report of the President, or in his tweets.

All this supports Bryan Caplan’s case against public education.  One of the most common arguments for public schools is that they teach civics.  We need a well educated population so that we do not elect bad people.  And having gone through the public school system, I can vouch for the fact that they do teach civic virtue.  My teachers seemed to sincerely want us to be good people.  English classes taught us the importance of character.  In history and social science we learned about various figures who gained power through demagoguery, demonizing minorities, engaging in “the big lie”.  Lots of historical examples were cited.  Indeed if I think back to my middle and high school years, I’d sum up the education as basically emphasizing one point:

Under no circumstances should you ever, ever, ever consider electing a candidate like Donald Trump.

And yet we did.  He’s a textbook example of everything we were taught is bad.  The continual lying, the bullying, the corruption, the racism, the misogyny, the willful ignorance.  Either Trump is bad or public education is useless.

I vote for “both”.

You knew this was coming

Why am I not surprised?

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently consolidated power. Trump told the gathering: “He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great.” Trump added, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”

There are a lot of people in China who believe in classical liberal principles.  At one time they respected America.

PS.  If you think presidential character doesn’t matter, read this.

PPS.  I just crossed 10,000,000 views:


The nationalists’ dilemma

Donald Trump and other members of the alt-right tend to have a very favorable view of Vladimir Putin.  After all, he shares many of their nationalistic political instincts.  But nationalists face a dilemma, as their ideology is fundamentally selfish.  Nationalists favor the home country and demonize foreigners.  So are nationalists to be pro-America or pro-nationalism?  You can’t have it both ways.

In recent years, Putin has brought back the Cold War, by invading neighboring countries, tearing up arms control agreements and gloating about the fact that the US will not be able to stop a new type of nuclear missile from reaching Florida.  Trump doesn’t seem to know how to respond to this new reality:

Former CIA Director John Brennan expressed “deep worry and concern” Friday about leadership and the nation’s safety in the wake of Donald Trump’s ugly Twitter attack against Alec Baldwin over the actor’s portrayal of the president on “Saturday Night Live.”

Brennan was asked by Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC if he thought Trump was “too unstable” to possess the nuclear codes that would allow him to launch an attack. Brennan responded that he was rattled by the president’s strange focus on Baldwin the morning after Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted of his nation’s nuclear capabilities to strike anywhere in the world, including the U.S. A simulated video presented by Putin appeared to depict next-generation nuclear missiles striking Florida.

Trump has yet to respond to Putin. Instead, he ranted against the actor in an error-riddled tweet early Friday morning (the tweet was later reposted with corrections).

“When I hear what Vladimir Putin was saying about the nuclear capabilities he has [and] then the president of the United States is tweeting about Alec Baldwin this morning, I mean, where is your sense of priorities?” Brennan asked. “I think a lot of Americans are looking at what’s happening with a sense of: This is surreal.”

There’s “deep, deep worry and concern for this country’s national security,” he added.

A couple days ago I visited the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.  The Nixon administration is the first one that I remember well, and seeing the exhibits brought back a lot of memories.  I view Nixon as one of America’s worst presidents.  He was very corrupt and dishonest.  And yet, he was so far superior to Trump that it’s like they are not even members of the same species.  Even in Nixon’s worst qualities, he was nowhere near as bad as Trump; not nearly as corrupt or dishonest, for instance. (John Dean recently made the same point.)  And in his best qualities he was dramatically superior to Trump.  He worked hard, gave a lot of thought to foreign affairs, and did seriously try to improve our relations with countries such as China and the Soviet Union.  Watching news clips from that era you had the sense that America was actually a serious country, like Canada or Germany or the Netherlands.  Now this country seems like just another banana republic, with a president who has the mentality of a Duterte, a Chavez, a Berlusconi.  It is a surreal experience viewing the Nixon Library with the thought of Trump in the back of one’s mind.

Update:  And isn’t this reassuring?

The only real solution to Too Big To Fail

In a recent post I suggested that higher capital requirements might be called for if policymakers were unwilling to bite the bullet and remove moral hazard from our financial system.

The FT has a new article discussing a Treasury proposal to end Too Big To Fail, by setting up a new type of bankruptcy for big banks.  I wish them well, but remain skeptical.  In my view, the only way we’ll ever be able to remove moral hazard is with monetary policy reform.  If we can get to a policy of NGDPLT, then policymakers will no longer have to worry about the consequences of the failure of a big bank.  Unfortunately, that’s likely to take many decades, as we first need to implement the policy, and then see how it does during a period of financial distress.  Only then would policymakers begin to feel comfortable rolling back TBTF.  (And even then, special interest groups will try to keep it in place.)

PS.  The NYT has a new post showing that historians view Trump as being the worst President in American history.  That’s also my view.  Some people judge presidential performance by how the country is doing.  That’s about like judging my blogging based on how monetary policy is doing.  A couple posts I’d recommend are Yuval Levin explaining why Trump is not actually the President, in the conventional sense of the term.  He’s not qualified to be President, so day-to-day decisions are made by others.  Thus the GOP “deep state” wisely vetoed his recent attempt at crony capitalism, which would have re-regulated the coal and nuclear industry as a backdoor way of bailing them out.  The outcome was good, but Trump’s specific input into the process was destructive.  Matt Yglesias also has a good post, explaining why Trump is much more corrupt that even lots of left-of-center reporters assume.

PPS.  I have a new post on budget and trade deficits, over at Econlog.

Again and again

Here’s Trump:

So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!

Again and again?  So it’s not enough to report him to authorities once, you need to do it twice?  OK, whatever Trump says.  Here’s what happens when people take his advice:

The F.B.I. received a tip last month from someone close to Nikolas Cruz that he owned a gun and had talked of committing a school shooting, the bureau revealed Friday, but it acknowledged that it had failed to investigate.

The tipster, who called an F.B.I. hotline on Jan. 5, told the bureau that Mr. Cruz had a “desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts,” the F.B.I. said.

The information should have been assessed and forwarded to the Miami F.B.I. field office, the bureau said. But that never happened. On Wednesday, Mr. Cruz, 19, killed 17 students and teachers at his former high school in Parkland, Fla., law enforcement officials said.

The tip about Mr. Cruz appeared to be the second in four months, after another person told the bureau about online comments from Mr. Cruz that he wanted to become “a professional school shooter.”

It’s not so much any single comment, it’s that there are hundreds of such comments.  On his best day in office, Trump says things that are more idiotic that the sort of silly things Obama said on his worst day in office.  Not once, but again and again and again.  Someone needs to report his erratic behavior to the authorities.