Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Only Republican Spinelessness Can Save Senate Democrats in November

Senate Democrats, particularly those running for reelection in red states, are in heaps of trouble over the Democrat-led circus meant to derail Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.  And what’s more, they know it.

“Democrats have all the cover they need to vote in lockstep against Brett Kavanaugh,” write Burgess Everett and Alana Schor at Politico.  “But a half-dozen of them have refused to go there, even after a pair of allegations against the Supreme Court nominee.”

The simple reason why they are understandably uncomfortable in denouncing Brett Kavanaugh without any substantial evidence against him was first observed long ago by an American Founder.

The responsibility for a “bad” Supreme Court nominee lies primarily with the executive, according to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 77.  “The blame of a bad nomination would fall upon the President singly and absolutely,” Hamilton writes. 

However, he continues to say that the “censure of rejecting a good one would lie entirely at the door of the Senate; aggravated by the consideration of their having counteracted the good intentions of the Executive.”

It seems an inescapable reality that Senate Democrats now face this dilemma. 

There are ten Senate Democrats running for reelection in states that were carried by President Trump in 2016, and Republicans hold all the cards in either allowing a further delay to the confirmation vote or forcing the confirmation vote on Friday morning as is currently scheduled (with no prospect of a filibuster, for which we can thank Harry Reid).  And unless these Democrats have more of a reason to vote “no” on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee than the strength of allegations in which dates, times, and locations of the alleged crimes, and without one single eyewitness beyond the accusers themselves, they know that they will run headlong into the ire of their respective states’ citizens if the president they voted for has his nominee rejected by their Democrat Senator.  This is even more assured, and will be more quickly realized, today than in Hamilton’s time, given the far more populist nature of today’s Senate elections than the Constitution originally prescribed.  

There are three ways that this will play out.

The first is the likeliest.  Christine Blasey Ford, if she shows up, will testify on Thursday in Washington along with Brett Kavanaugh.  The American people will witness the testimony of a woman which we know absolutely nothing about argue for the absolute truth about her nearly four-decade-old memories, substantiated by nothing more than her own inarguably unreliable recollection, and without a single witness that she claims was there even remembering the “gathering” in question.  We will also witness the complementary testimony of a man who has spent much of his life in easily reviewable public service, who has been vetted by the FBI several times, explain why he has never done any such thing and was never at any such “gathering.”

There is no new evidence that Christine Blasey Ford can offer, as yet noted.  It will undoubtedly be a “he said, she said” affair, and in no way should that media spectacle, absent new evidence, sway the opinion of our lawmakers.

After the event, the Senate will vote, and will confirm Kavanaugh by a slim Republican majority. 

That’s the modestly positive possible outcome for Democrats.  They will still lose a couple of seats in the Senate, I’d wager, but those Democrats who remain in power can still claim their #MeToo bona fides to their constituents, and still tout any Supreme Court decision that they don’t like as illegitimate.

Then, there’s the second potential outcome.  Democrats, and some Republican defectors, vote to reject Kavanaugh on the grounds of allegations against him which lack any discernible evidence.

This is the worst possible outcome for those Democrats battling to keep their seats in states that supported Trump.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a single turn of events that might galvanize Republicans and reasonable independents against Senate Democrats more than this nefarious subterfuge employed solely for the purpose of “rejecting” Trump’s unquestionably “good” Supreme Court nominee. 

Then, there’s the third, and by far, unlikeliest potential outcome.  Republicans could choose to double-down on their bad decision to not force this vote for confirmation two weeks ago, allowing the Democrats to continue the ridiculous circus that they’ve begun into weeks beyond now.

It’s unthinkable to imagine that this might happen.  Republicans must force the vote to confirm Kavanaugh on Friday morning, and no later.  A refusal to do so will spell doom for Republicans, who risk demoralizing their base of constituents.  Republicans must give the Senate Democrats an opportunity to either accept or “reject” Kavanaugh. 

Trump certainly had “good intentions” when he nominated Kavanaugh, and Americans voted for Trump expecting he would do exactly that.  Kavanaugh certainly wasn’t the first pick for many social conservatives, to be sure.  But he was a “good” pick by Trump, in the sense that he seems beholden to the law and reasoned appraisal of judicial precedent, generally impartial with immaculate credentials, and his “extraordinary intellect and experience” even drew support from hard-lined leftist colleagues like Lisa Blatt, who said that “Judge Kavanaugh is the best choice that liberals could reasonably hope for.” 

If Kavanaugh’s confirmation is derailed by Republicans, who have the ability and every right to force a vote and a declared outcome at the hands of vulnerable Democrats, based upon media pressure and the flimsy, decades-old, and undeniably hazy memories of women who cannot remember even the most basic details around an alleged encounter without a shred of evidence, and if this is all achieved via the Senate Democrats’ unbelievably sinister timing and calculated obstruction meant to destroy Trump’s sensible Supreme Court nominee (not to mention Kavanaugh’s entire life and legacy) on those insubstantial grounds, Republicans may be left in the cold on election day, with a demoralized electorate sitting at home wishing for a Party which will achieve the things they were once promised by Trump’s election.
Namely, an originalist Justice for the Supreme Court like Brett Kavanaugh.

William Sullivan

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Trump's Steel Tariffs are New, But Ain't Nothin' New Under the Sun About Tariffs

Milton Friedman, in 1978, warned against the seductive calls for tariffs to protect the steel industry.

Back then, the issue was that Japan, ostensibly, was subsidizing the production of steel so that the private steel industry in America would be unable to compete.

In other words, Japan was making it "very unfair" for American steel companies.  Milton Friedman articulates why worrying excessively about that, as President Trump seems to, is pure folly.

An excerpt from the following video, Friedman begins:

Let us suppose for a moment that the Japanese flood us with steel – that will reduce employment in the American steel industry, no doubt. However, it will increase employment elsewhere in America. We will pay for that steel with dollars. What will the Japanese do with the dollars they get for the steel?

They're not gonna burn 'em.  They're not gonna tear 'em up, if they would, that would be best of all.  Because there's nothing we can produce more cheaply than green pieces of paper.  [Laughter]

And they were just willing to send us steel, and just take back green pieces of paper, I can't imagine a better deal.

But they're not gonna do that.  They're not stupid, they're smart people.  They're gonna use those dollars to buy goods and services.  In the process of spending them, they may spend them directly in the United States, and that directly provides employment in the United States. They may spend them in Brazil or in Germany or in China or anywhere else – but whoever gets them, in turn, is gonna spend them. So the dollars that we spend for the steel will find their way back to the U.S. as demand for U.S. goods and services.


I urge on those people who think there's some sense to the steel industry argument to consider it in a more absurd setting. You very often bring out the logic of an argument by carrying it to an extreme. You know, you can have a great employment in the city of Logan, Utah, of people growing bananas in hothouses. If we had a high enough tariff on the import of bananas, it could become profitable to build hothouses and grow bananas and those hothouses. That would give employment. Would that be a sensible thing to do? If that isn't sensible, neither is it sensible to artificially restrict the import of steel.

Now, with respect to the charge that the Japanese government is subsidizing the export of steel. Number one, it's very dubious that it's true, but suppose it were true, then that would be a foolish thing for the Japanese to do from their own point of view. But why should we object to their giving us foreign aid? We have given them quite a bit. [Laughter]

That's just it.  The reduced cost is value to American producers of products which require steel.  Whether that value is subsidized by the taxpayers of another country, or whether it has only become manifest due to an overabundance of steel produced by the Chinese despite expectedly slowing steel demand, is irrelevant.   

To "artificially" jack up the price of steel imports, thereby prohibiting American producers from taking advantage of that discounted steel may be good politics, but it's not economic sense.  We should be honest about that.

And to put it more firmly, it's an affront to liberty.  It denies American producers of a grand opportunity to independently grow, unfettered by a government which seeks to price-fix a peculiar type of product to protect certain industries. 

In the end, tariffs are still tariffs.  They're as unsound today as they were in 1978, as they were in the 16th century, and as they have been since the beginning of time.  Observation of reality throughout human history has led us to this enlightenment, and we shouldn't ignore that truth because we like this president.

I'm a great fan of Donald Trump for most of what he's done as president thus far.  But the fact that this is his edict and not Barack Obama's, George Bush's, or anyone else's, should not factor into a reasonable American's mind as to whether tariff policy makes sense.

Please watch the below video.  Hat tip to Frank Camp at the Daily Wire.