Archive for May 2022


Why they hate us, part 2

In a recent post, I argued that the Chinese public has turned against the US. I also suggested that this change in attitude was largely due to our behavior. Many commenters found my claim to be preposterous.

Tyler Cowen recently linked to an NBER study by Haichao FanYichuan HuLixin Tang & Shang-Jin Wei with this abstract:

The US trade war against China in 2018–2019 can either enhance or diminish the US soft power in China, depending on whether it is recognized as legitimate by Chinese citizens. We study how the viewership of US movies—an important element of the US soft power—is affected by the trade war, utilizing variations across Chinese cities in the exposure to the Trump tariffs. We find a significant reduction in US movie revenue in regions more exposed to the Trump tariffs, but no corresponding reduction in the consumption of non-US movies. This is corroborated by a decline in online search for US movies, US tourist destinations, and US branded sports shoes. The aversion to US movies appears to persist at least to 2021. The effect is somewhat milder for more affluent people.

PS. Matt Yglesias directed me to this survey:

That’s far from a majority, but still . . .

No deep state in Trump’s second term

Trump supporters insist that Donald Trump will appoint nothing by but loyalists in his second term, no more “deep state” officials preventing Trump from achieving his desired policies. (But why didn’t Trump do that the first time around?)

Of course the deep state does not actually exist. But in the Trump administration there were normal government officials doing their job. One such example was Mark Esper:

Esper describes an administration completely overtaken by concerns about Trump’s reelection campaign, with every decision tethered to that objective. He writes that he could have resigned, and weighed the idea several times, but that he believed the president was surrounded by so many yes men and people whispering dangerous ideas to him that a loyalist would have been put in Esper’s place. The real act of service, he decided, was staying in his post to ensure that such things did not come to pass.

One such idea emerged from Trump, who was unhappy about the constant flow of drugs across the southern border, during summer 2020. Trump asked Esper at least twice if the military could “shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs.”

“They don’t have control of their own country,” Esper recounts Trump saying.

When Esper raised various objections, Trump said that “we could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly,” adding that “no one would know it was us.” Trump said he would just say that the United States had not conducted the strike, Esper recounts, writing that he would have thought it was a joke had he not been staring Trump in the face.

There are several more such examples. Read the whole thing.

PS. People claimed I was engaging in hyperbole when I suggested that Trump had the mentality of a 4th grader. But the Patriot missile example Esper cites is exactly the sort of thinking you’d expect from a 4th grader.

PPS. One silver lining about living in a banana republic is that politics becomes a continual source of amusement:

Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas warned that the Court can’t be “bullied” in comments at a judicial conference in Atlanta on Friday.

“We are becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes, not living with the outcomes we don’t like,” Thomas said, according to Reuters.

This from a man whose wife was part of the vast right wing conspiracy to overturn the 2020 elections, because she didn’t like the outcome. A man who failed to recuse himself from a case that involved his wife.