This is No Longer about Trump, or Congress

I believe that many of them are deeply conflicted. That in the leather chairs of Capitol Hill at the end of each of these long Spring days, there is no shortage of Republican legislators sitting alone in their offices or committee rooms, drinking scotch, and cogitating on their futures.

I suspect that there may be a few who have taken campaign coin from Trump or his supporters who are wondering exactly how long they need to “stay bought” before they can begin responding to the popular cry.

And, in the end, I think most will need irrefutable, impeachment-quality evidence to shift their support.

No, Mr. Frum. This is no longer about the President, or even Congress. It is now about the facts.

The future of President Donald Trump, of the Republican Party, and possibly the nation, now lies in the hands of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and relies upon the moral fortitude of a small handful of men and women at the Department of Justice, and their ability to ascertain the facts in the face of a President who seems determined to hide them.

WaPo: Sanders’ Trade Policy is Deeply Flawed

“Blaming freer trade for the loss of manufacturing jobs fails to tell the much bigger story of economic transformation that has swept the world over the past several decades. Technological change, automation, productivity improvements and other factors have eliminated old-school manufacturing jobs all over the world. Mr. Sanders cannot bring back the U.S. economy of the 1960s, and it would be harmful to try.”

Source: Mr. Sanders peddles fiction on free trade – The Washington Post

I have in this space been an unsparing critic of the policies that Bernie Sanders is promising to implement if elected President. I have been particularly dismissive, admittedly without citing support, of Mr. Sanders’ efforts to articulate a coherent foreign policy.

In this first of several post that will critique aspects of Mr. Sanders’ foreign policy platform or introduce the criticism of others, I will actually step between Mr. Sanders and his critics.

In the above linked article, the editors of the Washington Post offer their rebuttal to the underlying logic of Senator Sanders’ proposed foreign trade policy. It is an eloquent and poignant critique of the protectionism that oozes from Mr. Sanders’ foreign policy.

And yet I find myself siding against the Post on this item.

The Ebb of Globalism

For most of my life I have been a trade globalist, endorsing the idea that freer trade is broadly beneficial. Yet even as a callow young B-school student I understood that there are limits to the macroeconomic assumptions that support free trade. History has proven that international trade systems are only as good as their most abusive participant. As long as everyone agrees that the system is more important than the needs of any individual nation, the system will thrive. But when enough participants – or one participant of sufficient scale – begin to game the system, the game becomes beggar-thy-neighbor again.

While the Bretton Woods free trade system managed to address a constant patter of abuses, it appears increasingly unable to contain the challenge posed by China – a single, giant global player determined to game the system, and large enough so that in doing so it gives lie to the system itself.

We thus appear on the verge of an era where global free trade is replaced by a resurgence in protectionism and the replacement of the WTO with a series of bilateral accords and multilateral trade arrangements.

Against that background, the Washington Post’s protest that protectionism will not bring back manufacturing jobs is correct. Unfortunately, the Post doesn’t address the larger question: is trade free enough? Or is it too free already?

Regardless of your reaction, the answer is that the time has come for us to have this debate in America. The effects of trade policy are felt by all – it is no longer sufficient to allow the matter to be handled by elites. If the case for trade is compelling for America, let’s make it. Let’s demonstrate that the benefits will redound to the least prosperous among us as well as the affluent.

 

Breaking the Pelican State

The Louisiana-is-good-for-business story of the past eight years appears to have been largely built on the state paying corporations to do business here. That “look forward, don’t blame” strategy is exactly what the national GOP wants us all to do regarding the Bush years, because it’s what they’ve been doing.

Source: What Jindal Did To Louisiana | The American Conservative

Louisiana was broken by corporate welfare and tax give-backs. It will not be the last state to suffer such fates.

It is equally interesting to note that this story comes from The American Conservative. The GOP had best take note: conservative ideology is in headlong retreat from its support of tax breaks and corporate welfare. Supporting such policies is increasingly risky, if not downright foolhardy.

I did not support the dismantling of a social hammock only to have those funds turn into an easy chair for a select group of US corporations. Yet that is exactly what happened.

Enough already.

Taking Care

I’m not a fan of unions. But companies must remember that you pay a reasonable and modest ROI to your banker, take care of your people, and ONLY THEN decide how to split what is left between yourself and re-investment.

That’s how my dad did it. That’s how I do it. And that’s how America did it until we decided that the assholes between the Battery and Central Park were more important than our own neighbors.

The End? Good.

Screenshot 2016-02-17 11.27.07

This is an Ending of some sort for conservatism as we’ve known it, and, depending on outcomes, probably liberalism as well. For better or worse – and I’m just enough of a political Pollyanna to think “better,” I’d say it is time for a major re-alignment in American politics and for a questioning of some of the assumptions we’re all making.

I don’t much care for the idea of either a narcissistic blowhard capitalist or an idealistic septuagenarian sitting in the White House, but I’ll freely admit that the system needed the combined jab-to-the-face/punch-to-the-gut these two represent.

The New Power Elite

Mike Pence, Asa Hutchinson, and the Republican party were not blindsided by opposition to RFRA by gay rights activists. What knocked them back were major corporations, such as Apple, Walmart, and Angie’s List, and organizations such as the NCAA that denounced the law, in many cases announcing boycotts of Indiana.

Source: The Power Elite by Patrick J. Deneen | Articles | First Things

Patrick Deneen

Notre Dame political theorist Patrick Deneen writes powerfully in First Things about the defeat of the RFRA, viewed by most on the Left as legalized bigotry; by most on the Right as an essential defense of the rights of small business owners; and by most of us on the Center-Right as a well-intentioned but probably redundant law that would create more problems than it would solve.

Deneen’s primary point, though, is not a defense of the RFRA (though he makes one later in the article that will do nothing to sway the bill’s critics or fence-sitters like me). It is, rather, to point out that the response to the bill may have shed the first public light on a new elite coalition in the US between corporate America and social libertarians. It is a compelling proposition, but one that needs more evidence than the RFRA to support it.

Our view at the Pacific Bull Moose is rather more nuanced. It is not whether corporations are aligned with Republican causes and candidates. They are. Neither is it that corporations are aligned with Democratic causes and candidates. They are that as well.

Our view is that corporations align themselves to whichever political party or movement offers the the most lucrative commercial prospects. And this is exactly the problem with handing political power to commercial interests: it makes them a political power center that serves a small elite group and is answerable to no one, all while operating in a manner that serves the interests only of themselves, and not the nation as a whole.

Their alignment on both sided of the political spectrum means that it is impossible to align against corporate interests merely by choosing a political side. Their power must be fought on an issue-by-issue, election-by-election basis.

Deneen makes the point that America is devolving into a nation “where the powerful will govern completely over the powerless, where the rich dictate terms to the poor, where the strong are unleashed from the old restraints of culture and place, where libertarian indifference—whether in respect to economic inequality or morals—is inscribed into the national fabric, and where the unburdened, hedonic human will reign ascendant.”

That is a sentiment that should resonate with Americans of every political stripe. And it should frighten us all.