Nothing to see here folks, just move right along

The Constitution:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

And in today’s news:

According to ABC News, Trump received a big, fat gift from China this week in the form of a 10-year trademark on his name for construction. . . .

The award marks a sudden reversal of fortunes for Trump, who had reportedly been trying to win the valuable rights to his name for a decade. Interestingly, the Chinese government came through for him one month after he took the oath of office and a week after his conversation with Chinese president Xi Jinping during which he endorsed the One China policy. After years of battling to take back the rights to his name from a man named Dong Wei, Trump’s registration was made official on Tuesday and announced by China’s trademark office on Wednesday.

There are going to be some Trump critics who are so unhinged in their hatred for the man that they’ll see a link here.  But as Trump’s lawyer points out, in China legal decisions involving heads of state of the world’s greatest superpower are made my honorable judges, with no interference from the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party:

Trump’s attorneys in China say the ruling in his favor was made on the strength of his legal claim, not his position. “It is not possible that President Trump got favors from Chinese government,” Zhou Dandan of Unitalen Attorneys at Law in Beijing told The Washington Post. Alan Garten, chief legal officer at the Trump Organization, told the Associated Press that Trump’s trademark application predated the election.

It’s pure coincidence that a legal battle Trump was fighting for 10 years got resolved a week after he caved on the One China policy.  Why are you people so cynical?

I’m also increasingly sickened by the biased new media.  Take Shepard Smith, from the king of fake new outlets, Faux News, I mean Fox News:

He took his disapproval to new heights on Thursday, deriding Trump shortly after his first solo presidential press conference.

“Your opposition was hacked and the Russians were responsible for it and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening and we’re fools for asking the questions? No, sir,” Smith said on air.

“It’s crazy what we’re watching every day… It’s absolutely crazy. He keeps repeating ridiculous, throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we’re some kind of fools for asking the question. Really?”

He added: “We have a right to know… You call us ‘fake news’ and put us down like children for asking questions on behalf of the American people.”

Why can’t Fox find some unbiased reporters?  Trump won the greatest election victory since Reagan (except for Bush, Clinton and Obama), please show some respect!

Trump’s pal Duterte is also being treated rudely by the press:

Policemen from the national drug squad, including senior officers, falsely accused a South Korean businessman of involvement in narcotics. They hauled him off to the national police headquarters in Manila, demanded ransom from his family, pocketed the money and then strangled him, burning his body and flushing the ashes down a lavatory. . . .

Mr Duterte reacted to the scandal in typical fashion, holding a press conference in which he revealed a vague plan through a rambling monologue punctuated by coarse exclamations. “You son of a whore!” he said, addressing himself to the drug-squad officer suspected to be the mastermind of the kidnapping. The president offered a reward of 5m pesos ($100,000) for his capture. “Dead or alive,” Mr Duterte said. “If you bring him dead, the better.” Mr Dela Rosa leant in to whisper to the president that the officer was already in custody. Mr Duterte ploughed on, inveighing against the police force in general, which he described as corrupt to the core. “You use the power to enforce the law and arrest people for shenanigans,” he said. “Almost 40% or so of you guys are habituated to corruption.”

This is the 21st century folks.  Don’t you understand that press conferences are now “performance art”?  Truth is so 20th century.  Boring.

PS. I can’t even imagine what SNL is like in the Philippines.

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41 Responses to “Nothing to see here folks, just move right along”

  1. Gravatar of XVO XVO
    17. February 2017 at 11:18

    Just because China gave it to him doesn’t mean he asked for it. What if the Chinese are trying to undermine him? This is exactly what they would do, and apparently it worked.

    And what the heck he didn’t have rights to his own name in China?!? Maybe the real issue is that the situation existed in the first place, getting shaken down by the corrupt Chinese.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    17. February 2017 at 11:42

    XVO, Exactly, I can’t believe people are claiming the Chinese are trying to influence him with gifts.

    You said:

    “And what the heck he didn’t have rights to his own name in China?!? ”

    And that’s another thing I don’t like about China. I’m trying to get “Scott” trademarked in China, and I’m running into all sorts of problems. The Chinese are asking me how I know the use of “Scott” is specifically referring to me. As if there are lots of Scotts in China!

  3. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    17. February 2017 at 12:54

    LOL at XVO…

    Trump’s corruption is a perfect example of his supporters’ hypocrisy. Can you imagine what XVO and Art Deco and the rest of the Trumpkins would be posting if a Democratic president did the exact same things?

    And yes both sides do it. Partisans are so damn stupid.

  4. Gravatar of Jeff G. Jeff G.
    17. February 2017 at 13:29

    XVO says: “Just because China gave it to him doesn’t mean he asked for it.” Ummm…well actually no it does. If only the rest of us could like in your world….”just because Trump won the election doesn’t mean he gets to be president.” Fun!

  5. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    17. February 2017 at 13:48

    Sumner is brainwashed. Ignore the cornucopia of fake news stories, and focus on the “biggest victory since Reagan” blustering that he was told by his aides. Hahaha, so expected.

    The Russia story is fake news. Hillary Clinton sells 20% of the US’s Uranium production capacity to Russia, and the media is silent. Flynn calls a Russian diplomat, which was his job by the way, but then lies to VP Pence, the recorded call is leaked (Flynn was a civilian at the time, where was the warrant?) and that is supposed to prove the Trump campaign “colluded with Russian hackers”?

    (Deep breath)

  6. Gravatar of Philip Crawford Philip Crawford
    17. February 2017 at 15:05

    Ha! MF with the bigly troll. The media is silent on a thing that didn’t happen….

    Well done MF, well done.

  7. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    17. February 2017 at 15:39

    Philip, It’s enough to sat “Trump alleged” to know it’s false. At that point, fact checking is almost redundant.

    Trump said it best:

    “Well, the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them; I mean, the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it, and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.

    So one thing that I felt it was very important to do — and I hope we can correct it. Because there’s nobody I have more respect for — well, maybe a little bit, but the reporters, good reporters. . .

    Here’s the thing. Okay. I understand what you’re — and you’re right about that, except this. See, I know when I should get good and when I should get bad. And sometimes I’ll say, “Wow, that’s going to be a great story.” And I’ll get killed …

    But I know what’s good. I know what’s bad. And when they change it and make it really bad, something that should be positive — sometimes something that should be very positive, they’ll make okay. They’ll even make it negative.

    So I understand it. So, because I’m there. I know what was said. I know who’s saying it. I’m there. So it’s very important to me.”

  8. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    17. February 2017 at 16:39


    Lately I’ve done some soul-searching on how a libertarian should behave in the Age of Trump. I came up with the following. This is sincere.

    (1) I am pretty sure you never once complained about Obama’s “secret kill list” that involved assassinating American citizens with no judicial oversight.

    (2) Do you now regret such an omission (assuming I’m right that you never mentioned it), either because it wasn’t on your radar or because you thought the Fed was more important than civil liberties back then? Do you agree that if you’re going to start quoting the Constitution against Trump, you will also bring it up whenever a future president violates it (as will happen on Day One of a new administration)?


    (3) Do you think Trump getting a business gift is a worse constitutional violation than Obama compiling a secret list of Americans he can kill with no trial?

  9. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    17. February 2017 at 16:40

    Philip, actually it did indeed happen.

    Now if you’re implying that the story is something along the lines of “Clinton hid Uranium in her garage, and then shipped it to the Kremlin via Fedex, in exchange for a cheque to the US Treasury”, then no it’s a little more complicated than that. What you need to do is what Deepthroat said to Bob Woodward: “Follow the Money”.

    Read Peter Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash”.

    Redpill thyself

  10. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    17. February 2017 at 16:48

    To add to Murphy’s list:

    Ask how upset Sumner got after the Clinton Foundation received $145 million from Uranium One shareholders in the run-up to Hillary Clinton’s State Department approving the Rosatom deal for U.S. uranium.

    Or how Bill Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from the Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital, with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

    Or how Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totalling $2.35 million, which were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.


    Or ask how right after the Norway pedophile ring bust, Norway’s donations to the CF dropped 80%. That part of CF business is coming next…

  11. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    17. February 2017 at 16:59

    Trump’s press conferences are awful.

    But better or worse than press conferences in which our president would cite God as a reason for his policies?

    I will say it again: if Trump can avoid foreign entanglements and tighten up US labor markets, then he can buffoon to the moon.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    17. February 2017 at 17:20

    Bob, You are wrong, I frequently complained about civil liberties when Obama was President. But you are missing the elephant in the room. We elected a complete buffoon:

    1. 100% of liberal pundits know this
    2. 100% of moderate pundits know this
    3. 50% of conservative pundits know this

    As for the conservatives who can’t see what Trump is, all I can do is roll my eyes. This post is satire, it has nothing to do with the Bush/Obama/Trump kill lists. We have a mentally deranged man with his finger on the nuclear trigger. I find that kind of funny, don’t you?

    You asked:

    “Do you think Trump getting a business gift is a worse constitutional violation than Obama compiling a secret list of Americans he can kill with no trial?”

    I couldn’t care less about all the Trump ethical violations. They bother me less than a mosquito bite. I simply don’t care. I was trying to be funny, that’s all.

  13. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    17. February 2017 at 17:22

    Taken strictly from an entertainment and truth bomb value perspective, Trump’s press conference, where he skewered the media, was one of the most hilarious and gratifying press conferences I have ever seen.

    I could not stop laughing when he said to the CNN hack, about CNN, “I’m changing it from fake news, though – [to] very fake news.” That was gold.

  14. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    17. February 2017 at 17:27

    Sumner is just envious that Trump is smarter than him. Anyone who does serious, and I mean serious research on what Trump is doing and how his opponents react and constantly play into his hands, it is like watching 4D chess being played against pigeons.

    The non-fake-news-brainwashed masses know this.

    Liberal and moderate pundits? Of course they hate Trump the billionaire businessman. Also, anyone to the right of Jane Fonda are apparently racist/xenophobic/sexist/etc to these people.

  15. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    17. February 2017 at 17:38

    THIS should be the biggest worry about government

  16. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    17. February 2017 at 18:58


    you’re getting it all wrong, Trump is gospel!

    Seriously though, I wonder how long this can go on. True, across all ages people have fallen for false prophets, religious or political. The method is always the same. In phase one, sow doubt to undermine the current state of affairs, until you destroy the previous belief system. In phase two, present yourself as the messiah and rebuild the belief system with your own. Trump was successful in phase one, because in phase one, disinformation and chaos are helpful. But in phase two you need some positive ideology to grow out of the rubble. I am not seeing it. So I am cautiously optimistic that the adulating public will eventually grow tired of the ongoing chaos. The selling point of all messiahs is new certainty and a feeling of safety, not ongoing insecurity. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to distributing the Kool-Aid.

    BTW for Russia for example, the goals are different. If they helped Trump win by endorsing his undermining of trust in the media, the US government etc., it is NOT their interest to see Trump build himself up as the messiah, or “partner” etc. It is in their interest to keep the erosion of trust going. And that’s what we see now, Russia letting Trump ramble on and on while Russian media starting to show some glee about it, and reveling in the chaos. Russia can’t beat the US in an open fight, economic or otherwise. So it needs to keep the US as disabled, insecure, and dysfunctional as possible.

  17. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    17. February 2017 at 20:35

    This is potential smoke at best at this point, but interesting:

    Apparently, the FBI director had what was supposed to be a secret meeting with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee just after they convened a recess. Secret, meaning that it was not publicly announced, at least, and the Senators involved are mum about it.

    For all I know, this may not involve Trump at all, but worth keeping eyes and ears out for more information.

  18. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    17. February 2017 at 23:26

    Well, one small plaintive voice against the vast intellectual wilds:

    Trump’s goofy press conferences are not as important at the 14 women and girls he killed in Yemen, or his (I think positive) plans to tighten up US labor markets.

    Trump should be advised to avoid foreign entanglements, which have been fantastically expensive, and counterproductive (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq).

    Trump is on the right track in gutting the US intelligence community. Can he do it?

    Now that is a story worth following.

    From NY Mag

    “A week ago, Mother Jones lamented that everyone had mysteriously stopped talking about the “biggest election-related scandal since Watergate”: the U.S. intelligence agencies’ consensus that Russia meddled in the U.S. election in an attempt to help Donald Trump. By the end of the day, the Washington Post had published a story that led to — or perhaps just expedited — the firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. And just as that news cycle was winding down on Tuesday, another story emerged alleging that members of the Trump campaign had extensive contact with Russia.

    A New York Times report on Wednesday night shed some light on why members of the intelligence community might want such information to be public (aside from their alarm over the possibility of the U.S. government being compromised by Russia, and the chaos within the Trump administration). Administration officials tell the paper that President Trump is planning to put Cerberus Capital Management co-founder Stephen Feinberg — a billionaire Trump ally with no experience in national security matters — in charge of a broad review of the intelligence agencies.

    This plan has been met with “fierce resistance” from the intelligence community, whose members are worried that this could “curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview,” according to the Times.”


    Think about it. If the intelligence community had liked Flynn, would they have wiretapped him and then released tapes? If he was a CIA ally, would this have happened?

    Does the President pick his national security adviser or the CIA?

  19. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    18. February 2017 at 02:11


    the way it works in representative democracies is this. A vast administrative body of civil and military servants are pretty much apolitical technocrats charged with executing political orders. The technocrats are about the “how”, the politicians are about the “what”. This system can only work if 1) politicians listen to the technical knowledge of the administrators / civil and military servants, and 2) the administration follows politicians’ orders. The whole system rests on the idea that politicians should never be able to completely purge the body of administrators simply for political expediency. It is entirely reasonable if there is resistance by administrators to unreasonable politicians who refuse to listen to people who actually know something. Or, if 1) isn’t followed then 2) also doesn’t happen.

    BTW the whole idea is developed even stronger in Hegel’s “Beamtenstaat”. In much of Europe starting with Germany, civil servants are tenured for life to prevent their being constantly influenced by political bias, or fired. European governments typically exchange only a few dozen heads when administrations change. Everyone else stays the same, making for great continuity even in places like Italy. The top politicians don’t need to know much because they don’t really run the show, and that’s a good thing. This separates representative, constitutional democracy and republicanism from the wanton democratic populism that people like Tocqueville were so afraid of.

  20. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    18. February 2017 at 05:05

    Mbka: Egads…you trust military agencies, now with $1 trillion a year under their belt in outlays, to function without civilian oversight?

    The real threat is that civilians are unable to have oversight over military agencies.

  21. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    18. February 2017 at 09:10

    Benjamin Cole,

    There are many legitimate criticisms that can be directed at our military and intelligence establishment, but the idea that Trump should be allowed to delegitimize, demoralize, and perhaps “gut” them is insane. My goal is not to make this ad hominem, but reading your comments about foreign policy over an extended period of time leads me to the conclusion that you aren’t versed in even the basic tenets of the theory and practice of foreign policy, to say nothing of the empirical evidence of which theorists and practioners speak. You seem to have a very lazy, sloppy libertarian view that confuses tactics and strategy, among other very fundamental errors. To those who’ve studied foreign policy formally, you are the equivalent of a flat earther.

    The simple fact is that there is a global competiton to influence the shape of politics and economics around the world. That competition is fierce and wicked, whether you choose to recognize it or not. The vast majority of states are engaged in this competition, along with some non-state actors, and not all of them have interests compatible with our own. It is hubris to assume that the vast majority of practioners in the foreign policy and military realms simply misunderstand these basic facts about the world.

    Hence, gutting our military and intelligence establishment is essentially unilateral disarmament in a very dangerous world. It’s not that it would immediately lead to us being physically conquered, but it would mean we would have little influence in shaping balances of power around the world that would be favorable to liberal western ideas and ways of conducting commerce, to say nothing of helping prevent major wars. Gains or losses in influence in one region of the world are very much fungible,and affect infleluence everywhere else.

    History tells us that rising and falling power status increases the likelihood of major wars. We have a rising China in the Pacific and a declining Russia in eastern Europe, both with troubling demographic trends. The United States plays a critical role in helping balance forces against them to keep them in check. It is this sort of role generally that we inherited from the British empire in the 20th century.

  22. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    18. February 2017 at 09:54

    Trump Derangement Syndrome, a communicable disease? Let’s try a little scholarly reasoning, for a change;

    In which, it becomes clear that the ‘foreign emoluments clause’ probably doesn’t even apply to the President, but only to ambassadors, and the like, who would be posted to foreign countries and thus susceptible to bribery. (There is a domestic emoluments clause that most assuredly does apply to the President, since it says so.)

    But, on the off chance that a court would rule that the foreign emoluments clause did apply to Presidents, it’s obviously being misrepresented as requiring that a President divorce himself from his property rights in his business interests–something that wasn’t required of one of our wealthiest businessman Presidents, George Washington, by the people who wrote the clause in the first clause.

    On more solid scholarly ground; from Andy Grewal of the U of Iowa school of law;

    …an almost endless number of legal authorities show that when “emoluments” is used in connection with the description of an
    officer or employee, it refers to compensation for services performed.50 In Hoyt v. United States, for example, the Supreme Court specifically defined emoluments as “embracing every species of compensation or pecuniary profit derived from a discharge of the duties of the office.”51 In Mclean v. United States, the Supreme Court again emphasized the connection between emoluments and offices, saying that “emoluments are but expressions of value used to give complete recompense to a deserving officer.”52 And in Hill v. United States the Supreme Court affirmed its office-related definition of emoluments, concluding that “a sum collected by a clerk for a service not pertaining to his office . . . was not a fee or emolument.”53 Given that the Foreign Emoluments Clause also speaks of emoluments in connection with officers, one can sensibly apply these Supreme Court interpretations to the clause.54

  23. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    18. February 2017 at 10:07

    A little more from Andy Grewal;

    An office-related definition would also make sense of a Constitutional amendment designed to broaden the Foreign Emoluments Clause.55 That amendment, proposed in 1810 and nearly ratified, provided, among other things, that any citizen who accepted a
    “present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever” from a foreign government, without the consent of Congress, would “cease to be a citizen of the United States.”56

    Given the relationship between this amendment and the Foreign Emoluments Clause, the drafters likely intended to use emolument in the same way that the Framers did.57 Yet if this amendment incorporated the secondary definition of emolument, it would have
    potentially terminated the citizenship of any American who, for example, sold some tobacco to a visiting ambassador.58

    It would seem odd for an amendment with such potentially drastic consequences to receive broad support.59 But the House and Senate each passed it by wide margins, and it came within 2 states of ratification.60 It thus seems likely that the proposed amendment
    and, by implication, the Foreign Emoluments Clause, incorporates an office-related definition of emoluments, rather than the secondary, “any payment or benefit” definition advanced by Eisen, Painter, and Tribe. [in a recent Brookings paper, that is an intellectual embarrassment, imho]61

  24. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    18. February 2017 at 10:17

    More scholarship (as opposed to the political hackery of Laurence Tribe);

    When President Ronald Reagan took office, a question arose under the Domestic Emoluments Clause regarding his retirement payments from the State of California.88 State law established his right to those payments on account of his service as the Governor of California. The White House Counsel asked the OLC whether the Domestic Emoluments Clause would prohibit President Reagan’s receipt of them.

    The OLC first adopted a purposive approach and examined whether the retirement benefits would subject the President to improper influence. It concluded that they would not. President Reagan enjoyed benefits as a matter of law and did not have to perform any
    further services as a condition to their receipt. Thus, under a purpose-driven analysis, the retirement benefits were not emoluments.

    It then considered whether its result would change if emoluments were defined “exclusively on the basis of the dictionary meaning [i.e., Tribe et al.’s approach] of the term.”89 It noted that the principal definition included an office-related analysis, and that the secondary definition had become “obsolete.”90 Using the office-related definition, the OLC concluded that the retirement benefits were not compensation for the services provided by Reagan in the
    Governor’s office.91 Consequently, his receipt of the California retirements benefits would “not violate the language of [the Foreign Emoluments Clause] because those benefits are not emoluments in the constitutional sense.”92

  25. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    18. February 2017 at 10:32

    And I find this deliciously amusing;

    …strange results would follow if emoluments under the Constitution included things other than office-related compensation. To see why
    this is so, we can return to the Domestic Emoluments Clause, whose purposes and scope mirror its foreign counterpart.115 If that clause applies to any payment from a state or federal government, then former President Obama would have violated the Constitution.

    That is, his financial disclosures reveal that he owned between $500,000 and $1,000,000 of United States Treasury bonds during his time in office, and that he had received interest payments on them.116 The interest income paid by the United States to President Obama did not form part of the fixed compensation attached to his Presidency, and if an emolument includes any payment, President Obama’s receipt of interest income from the United States
    violated the Domestic Emoluments Clause. Under the approach of Eisen, Painter, and Tribe, President Obama committed an impeachable offense.117

    This is not a sensible result, and no potential impeachment could have properly occurred under an office-related definition of emoluments. That is, President Obama earned interest income from the United States in his capacity as a creditor, not in connection
    with the services he provided as President. And given the absence of any link between the interest income and his provision of services, President Obama should not have been impeached, nor should any U.S. Officers who purchase, at arm’s length, bonds from a foreign government and receive interest income on them.118

  26. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    18. February 2017 at 10:58

    An even more amusing potential violation by President Barack Obama of both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses concerns his book royalties.

    If a foreign government or a state or local government purchased copies of one of Obama’s books, thus indirectly paying the President royalties, under the Laurence Tribe argument, that’s a violation of both clauses.

  27. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    18. February 2017 at 15:59

    For a little variety–and an argument that precedes the election of Donald Trump–here’s Seth Barrett Tillman’s explanation why no elected official is subject to the ‘foreign emoluments clause’;

    In 1792, during George Washington’s first administration, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was directed by the Senate of the Second Congress to produce a list of “every person holding any civil office or employment under the United States, (except the judges). …”14

    Every not some; any not some. Nine months later, Hamilton returned a ninety-page document that included all those holding federal appointed or statutory office in every branch, but no elected officials in any branch.15 Not surprisingly, no state officials were included. These events are roughly contemporaneous with the enactment of the Constitution and involved an actor who played a prominent role in drafting and ratifying it. Hamilton’s
    response was an official communication from the Treasury to the Senate: his actions here represent an official Executive Branch construction of (what is now) contested language.

    Btw, George Washington did accept two gifts from foreign governments.

  28. Gravatar of B Cole B Cole
    18. February 2017 at 17:35

    Scott F–

    Oh hoo-haw.

    You think Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq were good ideas?

    Our foreign policy-miltiary establishment has created validation for counter-productive perma-wars….

  29. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    18. February 2017 at 18:21


    Scott F makes a very good case. In even simpler terms: all else being equal, the establishment is probably correct, the consensus scientific opinion is probably correct, and the average elite decision maker is probably more competent in any technical decision making than an average person of the public, or a real estate mogul in areas outside his expertise.

    I have no objections whatsoever to have elites run government, au contraire, I insist on it. Who would like to be governed by … the ones that don’t quite make the cut? The only beef one can have with elites is that they sometimes tend to set value agendas on purely technical terms (maximise GDP at all cost, maximise influence at all cost etc). Hence the political direction. But political direction does not substitute for technical proficiency.

    And who says Vietnam and Iraq were caused primarily by the technocrat class, rather than political decisions? Afghanistan wasn’t a gratuitous choice either after 9/11.

  30. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    18. February 2017 at 19:45


    If you wish, you could ponder a very large body of literature,and common sense, that large public agencies try to become self-perpetuating and always seek larger budgets. All the while, ossifying, or, in the case of US foreign policy-military agencies, evidently becoming coprolitic.

    Egads man, have you not seen to exploding costs of everything associated with permanent public agencies, from education, to prisons, to health care, to military budgets, to the VA, to dam building to police departments to dogcatchers?

    In general, liberals hold the “experts and technocrats” in education sacred. The results are bigger budgets but no bigger results.

    The conservatives hold “experts and technocrats” in national security to be sacred. The results are incredibly expensive weaponry, payrolls and foreign occupations, all of which have been counter-productive in the last three major tries, that is Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam.

    Here is a spooky thought, pun intended: Suppose Trump is right and national intelligence agencies should be streamlined, and cut in half?

    You think he can do it?

    Sadly, I do not think Trump will be able to cut federal outlays much.

    Pay your taxes, chump. Especially if you cannot hide income.

  31. Gravatar of Ben J Ben J
    19. February 2017 at 00:27

    Nothing is funnier to me than Major Freedom going from Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist NAP warrior to a Trump supporter from /pol/. I mean, I knew it was coming, but good lord I feel like he might be in danger of getting whiplash from switching ideologies so quickly…

  32. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    19. February 2017 at 04:36

    Ben J,

    agree. However, it’s worse than it looks. As far as I remember, Rothbard himself developed a strategy of baiting conservatives by first defending McCarthy etc all in pursuit of his hatred of the left, nastiness as a declared strategy. Later, Lew Rockwell of and a disciple of Rothbard, went to race-baiting of his target “libertarian” audience with some nasty stuff he wrote about African-Americans in the 90s, embarrassing Ron Paul in the process. For all I know, Major Freedom may well BE Lew Rockwell. Not to mention the equally smug Hans-Hermann Hoppe, endless insinuations about Keynes / homosexuality under the pretext that it matters for time preference etc. I had been reading for a while, some nice resources there, but I ended up completely disgusted with these people and their smug exploitation of resentment under banner of libertarianism.

    Conclusion, there are a LOT of people out there that give classical liberalism a bad name.

  33. Gravatar of Bonnie Bonnie
    19. February 2017 at 05:42

    “Your opposition was hacked and the Russians were responsible for it and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening…”

    And this has been proven – the same day even? If so, who, when, and where?

    The DNC had such lax data security practices, they have likely been hacked multiple times by multiple groups. It says so in a roundabout way in the Homeland Security/FBI report.

    My guess is the Trump derangement syndrome has clouded your rationality.

  34. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. February 2017 at 05:53

    Ben, You said:

    Well, one small plaintive voice against the vast intellectual wilds:

    “Trump’s goofy press conferences are not as important”

    Who said they were important?

    You said:

    “Trump is on the right track in gutting the US intelligence community.”

    If only he were trying to do that. But of course he is not.

    Patrick, Isn’t that a bit of overkill? The whole post was supposed to be satire.

    mbka, Regarding your last comment, check out Andrew Sullivan’s explanation of how people like Stephen Miller end up the way they are:

  35. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    19. February 2017 at 08:29

    Benjamin Cole,

    I write to you, because you’re intelligent enough to engage and too intelligent to go around making baseless comments about foreign policy or the importance of established US institutions. One thing I can almost promise you is that if you don’t like the way the US currently influences the world, you’ll like the growing influence of Russia, China, and Iran even less.

  36. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    19. February 2017 at 08:36

    Benjamin Cole,

    I’ll add that if you’re open to changing your mind about foreign policy, order a good intro textbook on international relations, or read a book like Kissinger’s Diplomacy. I’m not a Kissinger fan and his book skews toward the realist view, but having read it before taking intro to international relations, I didn’t have to use the course textbook at all.

  37. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    19. February 2017 at 15:37


    thanks for that link, chilling read (Bannon!!). Makes complete sense (Miller) and made me chuckle too. I also was that kid in a smaller way, and minus the suffering. I wasn’t a fully formed neoliberal yet then, and certainly no conservative. But I was a non-leftie, even back in college. So when the US bombed Libya in the 1980s, say, and I’d remark that maybe, just maybe, Gaddhafi deserved it, my leftie friends just gave me the kind understanding one has for the village idiot. I do have the nagging suspicion though that later, my neoliberalism has cost me quite some in terms of academic career.

    Back to Stephen Miller, if he’s in that phase where you justify atrocities because you like the general direction, in the way of Western commie apologists for Mao, Miller is young enough to regret it later. Coming up 15 years later, Stephen Miller recanting and claiming he was misled… Ah, human nature.

  38. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    19. February 2017 at 21:48

    Ben J:

    “Nothing is funnier to me than Major Freedom going from Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist NAP warrior to a Trump supporter from /pol/.”

    Oh don’t worry, I’m still very much an anarcho-capitalist. It is complicated. I have for most of my adult life loathed both the left and the right, just the left more than the right. I am enjoying what is happening to the left and what is happening by the left. I am perceptive about certain people who are adherents to certain beliefs, and noticing that the decades and decades of statist establishment people are the most upset about Trump. They are having meltdowns, almost every day. Trump is a billionaire businessman who has no experience in politics. Check. If it were Ron Paul who won, and Paul is a Rothbardian by the way, I would likely have seen and done similar things. Most Trump fans are Ron Paul fans, or at least not hostile towards him. A lot of Trump fans consider Ron Paul to be “the godfather of redpills”.

    Trump’s AG pick Jeff Sessions is going after the pedophile rings. His secretary of Education pick Devos wants to turn education into a free market, or closer to it. His EPA chief pick supports fossil fuel expansion in the country.

    Marxists disgust me more than the all but defunct Leo Straussian neocons. The left is apologetic towards Islamic sexism, homophobia and xenophobia, all the while raging against these isms.

    If you asked me right now what would I prefer, I would say no state, obviously. But that doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy the statist establishment having a meltdown, and it is glorious to watch.

  39. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    19. February 2017 at 21:52

    Sumner likes to cite the WaPo quite often in his posts.

    About the WaPo:

  40. Gravatar of XVO XVO
    20. February 2017 at 06:11

    @Sumner, Dong Wei really sounds like Donald Trump to me, I’m sure it’s a just a coincidence he wanted to use that name, after all everyone knows Donald Trump translates to Glorious Company in Chinese.

    Jeff says “XVO says: “Just because China gave it to him doesn’t mean he asked for it.” Ummm…well actually no it does. If only the rest of us could like in your world….”just because Trump won the election doesn’t mean he gets to be president.” Fun!”

    herp-derp Jeff, just because someone gives someone a present, doesn’t mean that person asked for it. This by Jeff is an example of cognitive dissonance at it’s fullest (or maybe poor Jeff has never received something he didn’t ask for, tough world Jeff lives in).

  41. Gravatar of Jose Jose
    20. February 2017 at 07:56

    Trump is a buffon? No need for pundits to confirm it. Is he a business man who will eventually profit somehow for his time served as president, yes, but so did Obama, Clintons, etc. I find funny academics who continue to press on the president’s mental skills. Obama was articulate, but brilliant? Not at all. Here, I am sorry, academics are not seeing the elephant: Trump is a symbol of the counter attack to the consequences of changes that has happened to the american economy, not all of those necessarily good, and academia has much to do with that. Either the policies academics recommend enhance people’s lives, or Trumps or worse will continue to get elected …

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