Up in the White House … Tariff Man!


Tariff Man!

Faster than a speeding tweet! More powerful than steamrolling economy! Able to leap to illogical conclusions!

Would someone please whisper into Trump’s ear that fact that tariffs amount to a tax on what Americans pay for everything, whether imported or not.

Put a tariff on steel and the cost autos built in the U.S. increase. Got it?

Put a tariff on stuff coming from China and they counter with a tax on soybeans, which are left to rot in silos.

Ludwig von Mises:

It is important to realize that what those benefited by these measures (tariffs) consider an advantage for themselves lasts only for a limited time. In the long run the privilege accorded to a definite class of producers loses its power to create specific gains. The privileged branch attracts newcomers, and their competition tends to eliminate the specific gains derived from the privilege. Thus the eagerness of the law’s pet children to acquire privileges is insatiable. They continue to ask for new privileges because the old ones lose their power.

Ramirez cartoon



Why satire is dead

How do you defame a Las Vegas stripper and adult film actress?

defamation: the act of communicating false statements about a person that injure the reputation of that person

Usually one defames someone by falsely alleging they engaged in disreputable behavior, but Fox News is reporting that Stormy Daniels has filed a lawsuit against President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen because he accused her of lying about having an affair with Trump.

“It was reasonably understood Mr. Cohen meant to convey that Ms. Clifford is a liar,” Fox quoted the complaint as saying. “Mr. Cohen made the statement knowing it was false or had serious doubts about the truth of the statements.”

Fox also quotes from a statement reportedly signed by Daniels in January:

“I recently became aware that certain news outlets are alleging that I had a sexual and/or romantic affair with Donald Trump many, many, many years ago. I am stating with complete clarity that this is absolutely false. My involvement with Donald Trump was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more. When I met Donald Trump, he was gracious, professional and a complete gentleman to me and EVERYONE in my presence.”

Satire is dead when the truth is more outrageous.

What reputation is there to damage?

Stormy Daniels (AP pix)

Trump still disparaging the very document he must swear to protect and defend


Quick, somebody get Donald Trump one of those pocketbook copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and read it to him aloud, slowly, starting with, “Congress shall make no law …”

On the campaign trail Trump has repeatedly disparaged the rights contained in the First Amendment and several others.

“We’re going to open up those libel laws,” Trump said in February. “So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace … we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,” paying no heed to Supreme Court rulings such as Times v. Sullivan, which said public figures such as him had to show actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth to win damages.

He also suggested closing mosques because really bad things happen in them — another First Amendment diss.

Now, this week the president-elect took to his favorite forum, Twitter, to call for jailing and revoking citizenship for flag burners, paying no heed to 1989’s Supreme Court decision in Texas v. Johnson, which declared unconstitutional a Texas law making flag burning a crime or 1990’s U.S. v. Eichman, which did the same for a federal law passed after the Texas law was struck.

Justice William Brennan, who wrote for the majority in both cases, concluded in the Eichman ruling:

We are aware that desecration of the flag is deeply offensive to many. But the same might be said, for example, of virulent ethnic and religious epithets … vulgar repudiations of the draft  and scurrilous caricatures …

If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.

Punishing desecration of the flag dilutes the very freedom that makes this emblem so revered, and worth revering.

Someone should read that to Trump, too, though it is more than 140 characters.

The oath of office also exceeds Twitter limits:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: — “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” — Article II, SectionN 1, Clause 8





Reid uses the floor of the Senate to incite hate against Trump

Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate Tuesday to lambaste the stupid people who elected Donald Trump president — via the Electoral College and not the popular vote as he accurately noted, though not much else he said was.

He then said the election of Trump has caused an outbreak of hate crimes, even though one of those turned out to be a hoax and another was committed by a couple of guys with long criminal records who said the other guy started it. Most of the rest were graffiti, waving of Confederate flags or disrespectful or hateful comments — upsetting perhaps, but hardly crimes.

Much of the rest of Reid’s comments were about people spontaneously expressing fears and anxiety about Trump. He called for Trump to heal the nation while he poured fuel on the fire.

Trump also criticized Republicans for blocking spending on infrastructure, even though Trump has repeatedly promised to spend money on infrastructure and even though past such spending has failed stimulate the economy.

Apparently every ugly comment can to lain on the head of Trump, but Reid has no responsibility for the rioters protesting Trump’s election.

He wants to hold Trump accountable but no Democrats. He says people are frightened because of Trump’s election. Who is fueling that fear?

Reid also accused one of Trump’s appointees of being a white nationalist, whatever that is.

Reid’s words were self-contradictory.

John Cornyn of Texas responded:


There is no excuse for some of the things Trump has said and there is ample reason to be leery of how he will behave as president, but Reid’s comments are counterproductive.


How has that tariff thing worked out in the past?

President-elect Donald Trump continues to bluster about foreign trade and how we are being raped by the trade deficit with China.

He has proposed to renegotiate most current trade deals and impose a tariff on goods from China of up to 45 percent and 35 percent on goods from Mexico. He’s threatened to pull out of the World Trade Organization.

From the those-who-do-not-remember-history file comes this from Murray Rothbard, the late S.J. Hall Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, an excerpt from America’s Great Depression:

In mid-1930, another chicken born in 1929 came home to roost. One of Hoover’s first acts upon becoming President was to hold a special session on tariffs, beginning in the spring of 1929. Whereas we have seen that a policy of high tariffs cum foreign loans was bound to hurt the farmers’ export markets when the loans tapered off, Hoover’s answer was to raise tariffs still further, on agricultural and on manufactured products. A generation later, Hoover was still to maintain that a high tariff helps the farmer by building up his domestic market and lessening his “dependence” on export markets, which means, in fact, that it hurts him grievously by destroying his export markets. Congress continued to work on a higher tariff, and finally reported a bill in mid-1930, which Hoover signed approvingly. In short, it was at a precarious time of depression that the Hoover administration chose to hobble international trade, injure the American consumer, and cripple the American farmers’ export markets by raising tariffs higher than their already high levels. Hoover was urged to veto the Smoot–Hawley Tariff by almost all the nation’s economists, in a remarkable display of consensus, by the leading bankers, and by many other leaders. The main proponents were the Progressive bloc, the three leading farm organizations, and the American Federation of Labor.

No one had advocated higher tariffs during the 1928 campaign, and Hoover originated the drive for a higher tariff in an effort to help the farmers by raising duties on agricultural products. When the bill came to the House, however, it added tariffs on many other products. The increased duties on agriculture were not very important, since farm products were generally export commodities, and little was imported. Duties were raised on sugar to “do something for” the Western beet-sugar farmer; on wheat to subsidize the marginal Northwestern wheat farmers at the expense of their Canadian neighbors; on flaxseed to protect the Northwest farmers against Argentina; on cotton to protect the marginal Imperial Valley farmer against Egypt; on cattle and dairy products to injure the Canadian border trade; on hides, leather, and shoes; on wool, wool rags, and woolen textiles; on agricultural chemicals; on meat to hamper imports from Argentina; on cotton textiles to relieve this “depressed industry”; on velvets and other silks; on decorated china, surgical instruments, and other glass instruments; on pocket knives and watch movements. The tariff rates were now the highest in American history.

The stock market broke sharply on the day that Hoover agreed to sign the Smoot–Hawley Bill. This bill gave the signal for protectionism to proliferate all over the world. Markets, and the international division of labor, were hampered, and American consumers were further burdened, and farm as well as other export industries were hindered by the ensuing decline of international trade.

One prominent protectionist drive was put on by the silver bloc. In February, the mining interests suggested an international monetary conference to raise and then stabilize silver prices, as well as to levy a tariff on silver. The resolution was put through the Senate in February, 1931, but the State Department could not interest foreign governments in such a conference. Main supporters of this price-raising scheme were the Western governors, at the behest of the American Silver Producers’ Association, Senators such as Key Pittman of Nevada and Reed Smoot of Utah, J.H. Hammond, a mining engineer, Rend Leon, a New York banker, and F.H. Brownell, President of the American Smelting and Refining Company.

During the second half of 1930, production, prices, foreign trade, and employment continued to decline. On July 29, Hoover called for an investigation of bankruptcy laws in order to weaken them and prevent many bankruptcies — thus turning to the ancient device of attempting to revive confidence by injuring creditors and propping up unsound positions. In August, it was revealed that merchant shipping construction had swelled from 170,000 tons in July, 1929, to 487,000 tons in July, 1930 — due to Federal subsidies. On September 9, Hoover took an unusual step: to relieve the unemployment problem, and also to help keep wage rates up, the President effectively banned further immigration into the United States, and did so through a mere State Department press announcement. The decree barred all but the wealthiest immigrants as “public charges,” in a few months reducing immigration from Europe by 90 percent.

Interestingly enough, Hoover’s high-handed action came in defiance of previous Congressional refusal to agree to his proposal to cut immigration quotas in half, and it also came after the Senate had rejected a bill to suspend all immigration except by relatives for five years, offered by Senator Hugo Black (D., Ala.). Typical of the restrictionist, wage-raising arguments for blocking immigration was the charge of Senator Black that “foreign immigration has been utilized by the big business interests of the country as a direct weapon to break down the price of wages of the people of the land.” As might have been expected, William Green warmly endorsed Hoover’s stand.

Reducing the labor force as a “cure” for unemployment is similar to “curing” a surplus of a certain commodity by passing a law prohibiting anyone from selling the product, and anticipated Hitler’s “cure” for unemployment by forcibly sending married women back to the home. Hoover also records that he accelerated the deportation of “undesirable” aliens, again helping to ease the unemployment picture. He deported sixteen to twenty thousand aliens per year. As a consequence, while the immigration law had already reduced net immigration into the United States to about 200,000 per year, Hoover’s decree reduced net immigration to 35,000 in 1931, and in 1932 there was a net emigration of 77,000. In addition, Hoover’s Emergency Committee on Employment organized concerted propaganda to urge young people to return to school in the fall, and thus leave the labor market.

Rothbard concludes:

What was the trouble? Economic theory demonstrates that only governmental inflation can generate a boom-and-bust cycle, and that the depression will be prolonged and aggravated by inflationist and other interventionary measures. In contrast to the myth of laissez-faire, we have shown in this book how government intervention generated the unsound boom of the 1920s, and how Hoover’s new departure aggravated the Great Depression by massive measures of interference. The guilt for the Great Depression must, at long last, be lifted from the shoulders of the free-market economy, and placed where it properly belongs: at the doors of politicians, bureaucrats, and the mass of “enlightened” economists. And in any other depression, past or future, the story will be the same.

China is already threatening to counter a tariff by curbing sales of the iPhone in China, along with automobiles and airplanes.

And what about Trump’s call to spend money on infrastructure? Didn’t Obama try that without success?


Why would Trump rail against the Electoral College?


sqibOK, President-elect Trump isn’t as big an idiot as the morning paper would have you believe.

According to a squib atop page 13A, attributed to the AP:

Just two days before Election Day, Republican businessman Donald Trump tweeted: “The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.”

As it turns out, without the Electoral College, Trump probably wouldn’t be the president-elect.

A day after Election Day, Clinton held a narrow lead in the popular vote, according to unofficial results tallied by The Associated Press. With nearly 125 million votes counted, Clinton had 47.7 percent of the vote and Trump had 47.5 percent.

Yes, it looks like Clinton is likely to become the second Democratic presidential candidate this century to win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College tally.

So, why would Trump rail against wining three Electoral College votes from states like Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas — one for each representative in Congress and each senator — instead of the one he would have received if only the popular vote counted?

He didn’t.

Yes, the tweet did go out on Nov. 6, but on Nov. 6, 2012, Election Day. Why he did it then is still a question since Obama won both the popular and electoral vote count.


Someone should ask him what he thinks now.

Oh, and why are the words “astonishing victory” and “stunning” in the ledes of the two AP stories on the front page? Astonishing and stunning to whom? The voters? The media? Is that news or opinion?




Might Nevada’s electoral college votes swing the election?

Obviously, we can ignore the polls that show Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump by 4 points in the popular vote, because that matters for naught. It is the electoral college count that matters.

You know the electoral college, the system set up to give smaller states like Nevada an outsized voice in the presidential election. In a proportionate system, Nevada would have only four votes, one for each member of the House of Representatives, which is divvied up by population. But Nevada gets two extra votes, one for each senator.

Similarly, instead of having only one vote, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, the Dakotas and a couple of others get three.

How the swing states swing this time could make a huge difference on Tuesday.

Many have Nevada in the too-close-to-call category.

Such as Survey Monkey:



And Real Clear Politics:



But The Wall Street Journal has Nevada leaning for Clinton:

Considering how the unions are pulling out all the stops by busing members to the polls and telling them how to vote, I suspect the WSJ is closer to being accurate. The paper has Clinton clearing the necessary 270 votes by more than 60.

That union ground game could also spell trouble for Joe Heck’s bid to replace Harry Reid in the Senate.












Rhetoric flies in every direction in the morning newspaper, but mostly in Trump’s face

The motto at Fox News is: Fair and balanced.

The motto of the newsprint melange delivered to your driveway two days before Election 2016 could be: Unhinged in every direction.

Here are a few clips from today’s newspaper.

Wayne Allyn Root:

The truth is we either send a strong message heard around the world and elect Trump, or the America we know and love is gone. Forever.

Because if Trump doesn’t win, no other Republican will ever be elected president again. President Hillary Clinton will make sure of that. Hillary will open the borders like never before to let in millions of illegal aliens who have no love for anything that made America great.

Charles Krauthammer:

At a time of such tectonic instability, even the most experienced head of state requires wisdom and delicacy to maintain equilibrium. Trump has neither. His joining of supreme ignorance to supreme arrogance, combined with a pathological sensitivity to any perceived slight, is an invitation to calamitous miscalculation.

Steve Sebelius:

Trump is less a political revolutionary than a marketing genius, a reality show ringmaster who knows how to capture the attention and imagination of the American people. There’s a reason he cannot articulate how he intends to accomplish even the most basic of his promises — they are meant for entertainment purposes only. …

Trump is uninterested in governing as much as basking in the glow of adoration.

Brian Greenspan:

Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president. …

Here’s a guy who says he’s a great businessman. But it seems like a lot of his business is built around stiffing small businesses and workers out of what he owes them — work they’ve done. He thinks it’s cute, or smart, or funny to basically not pay somebody who’s done work for him and say, go ahead and sue me because I got more money than you, and you can’t do anything about it. It’s not fair.

Here’s somebody who, for decades, has refused to release any tax returns. And now maybe it’s because he’s not as rich as he says is, but he has admitted he does not pay federal income taxes for years. Not a dime. So he’s not helping to support our troops or our veterans. He’s not helping to build roads or build schools or help young people finance a college education because he’s not putting anything in. He’s taken a lot out but hasn’t put anything in.

Kathleen Parker does offer calming advice:

As Nov. 9 dawns, Americans are sure to be mad as hell. Those happy with the victor will be re-angry soon enough when they realize they won’t be getting what they were promised. This is the good news. Thanks to the brilliance of our tripartite government, nobody gets to be dictator. And despite what nearly everyone seems to believe, our “broken government” works pretty well most of the time.

Somehow, the one “major” daily newspaper to endorse Trump seems to deliver more anti- than pro-Trump messages.


Trump had to fight referee, too

Holt, Clinton, Trump at debate.

Holt, Clinton, Trump at debate.

While I’m no fan of Trump, I do think the fight should be fair. He should not have to parry jabs from both his opponent and the referee.

But at the debate Lester Holt hammered Trump on his claim that he did not support the war in Iraq while ignoring the fact Clinton voted for it.

After Clinton accused Trump of pushing tax cuts for the top percent, Holt delivered the one-two with: “And, Mr. Trump, you’re calling for tax cuts for the wealthy. I’d like you to defend that.”

Holt pounded the birther nonsense as if Trump were running against Obama instead of Clinton.

The moderator hounded Trump about his tax returns, but the words “Foundation” and “Benghazi” were never mentioned.

Holt, who is black, did not ask a follow-up after Clinton said: “Lester, I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police.”

Nor did he challenge her claim that stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional because it was ineffective, when the judge actually said it violated the equal protection clause. The case was later settled.

Of course, Trump did manage to punch himself in the jaw with his ham-fisted comment about Clinton not having “the look” or “stamina” to be president. The look? Get a mirror, Bubba.


President uses Orlando shooting to call for gun control

Bodies from Orlando shooting. (CNN)

Obama immediately used the occasion of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting to call for gun control.

“Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle,” Obama said. “This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.  And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

Easy to get a weapon?

The shooter was a licensed security guard who worked for one of the biggest security firms in the world, one that contracted with the federal government. He had twice been interviewed by the FBI. Easy?

Of course, Obama never mentioned the fact the shooter was a Muslim who regularly attended prayers at his local mosque. Nothing to see there move along to gun control.

Hillary Clinton also immediately called for more gun control.

“We need to keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals. …” Clinton said. “Weapons of war have no place on our streets.”

Today she said she refuses to declare war on radical Islam.

Donald Trump, of course, used the opportunity to attach both Clinton and Obama over their refusal to blame radical Islamists.

“In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down,” Trump said in a statement Sunday. “If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency.”

Omar Mateen, the shooter, reportedly shouted “Allahu Akhbar” during the attack.

Daniel Gilroy, who worked with Matten G4S Security, told Florida Today that Mateen frequently made homophobic and racial comments.

“Gilroy said he complained to his employer several times but it did nothing because he was Muslim,” the newspaper reported. “Gilroy quit after he said Mateen began stalking him via multiple text messages — 20 or 30 a day. He also sent Gilroy 13 to 15 phone messages a day, he said.”

Gilroy told the paper, “I quit because everything he said was toxic, and the company wouldn’t do anything. This guy was unhinged and unstable. He talked of killing people.”

Have we learned nothing?

Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 at Fort Hood while shouting “Allahu Akhbar,” had presented a PowerPoint before a group of fellow psychiatrists that included a rant against infidels, suggesting they should be burned in oil and beheaded. None of the doctors reported this for fear of being seen as discriminating against Muslims.