Government Success And Failure

Folks forget how governments can contribute to success and failure.  Michael J. Totten has a nice comparison:

When the Cold War ended, Colombia was a crime-infested war zone while Venezuela, its neighbor to the east, was an island of sanity and stability. Colombia is now one of the world’s hottest new tourist destinations while Venezuela is on the brink of collapse [we think he is being kind].

The murder capital of the world has moved from Medellin, Columbia to Caracas, Venezuela in a quarter of a century.  Chavez and Maduro had a daunting task to bring the economy with the world’s largest oil reserves to it’s knees.  Rigorously enforced socialism along with falling oil prices did the deed.  Reviving Columbia required more than the government.  Totten quotes the WSJ on government actions as well as partnerships that have revived Medellin and Columbia and led the WSJ to name it City of the Year.

Further south:

Brazil’s Senate is expected to go forward with a vote Wednesday to remove Rousseff [the Brazilian President] from office and subject her to an impeachment trial for misleading accounting maneuvers. Legal experts agree that impeachment is a legitimate instrument in Brazil, but some argue that the case against Rousseff is weak and politically motivated.

And continuing on to Argentina:

President Mauricio Macri this morning confirmed he will veto an emergency labour bill passed by the Congress, saying “it will lead Argentines to poverty.”

The game is afoot in the two biggest countries in South America.  Will the reformers be successful in reducing corruption and opening up those economies or will they just turn out to be a new set of cronies?  Venezuela and Columbia show the enormous variance that can happen.  Let’s hope for capitalism or market tested betterment if you prefer.


One More For The Road

No, it is not a reference to Lynyrd Skynyrd but to The Donald before we try to ignore him and Herself until one of them becomes president.  Ramesh Ponnuru writing at Bloomberg View suggests that Herself can demolish The Donald by playing the fear card.  It may work but we are unconvinced for three reasons.

First, as Ramesh notes, being the status quo does not seem to be the place to be in this election.  Being the safe choice would put her there.

Second, Herself is vulnerable on the safety charge.  Her past behavior, especially emails, along with her statements to fight off The Bernie make her questionable in this area.  The Donald might ignore her statements but there is some PAC that will not.

Third, this doesn’t look like an election that will be won on positions and logic.  Our view is that lots of people bought Obama and they are confused why he failed.  They want change but they just don’t really know what they want to change to.  We think safety would be a bad choice for Herself but we would love to see her try it as we are still voting for The Donald in the general.

Jay’s Lament

Jay Nordlinger has a great short item over at the NRO Corner.  We too would love to see such a third candidate.  Run Jay, run!  Well, not really.  Such folks have already been rejected by the GOP in 2016.  In 2012 we had the fool and Joe Biden (!) versus Mitt and Paul Ryan and the fool won.

We don’t need a new electorate.  We, as conservatives, need to eschew magical thinking  like Social Security is OK financially, and focus on relentlessly looking at the issues.  We also must recognize that politicians will never be pure and there is a limit to the battles that they can fight.  Let’s try to keep the Congress intact in 2016 and work on electing a serious president in 2020.

We are still voting for Trump in the general.  We are still unhappy with the choices just like Jay.  We still think there is no reason to make the worst choice in 2016 and think that it will help in 2020.  That would be more magical thinking.

Clear Semantics?

Joseph Rago at the WSJ offers this when talking about GOP Senators and The Donald:

Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin tried to draw a semantic distinction between “supporting” the nominee and “endorsing” him, whatever that is supposed to mean.

The meaning is clear to us.  We support The Donald versus Herself.  We do not endorse him.  They are different levels of fervor for The Donald.  We endorse Ron Johnson.


Herself-The Bernie Experiment

The #Nevertrump group continues to be taken to task by the opposition.  Taranto takes care of Charles Murray in three words: Consider the alternative.  We understand the lawyers and such getting confused about it but Murray is a social science guy.  It does not surprise us that Larry Kudlow at NRO is more open to The Donald than the philosophers and the lawyers.  Considering the alternative is instinctive to economists.  More on considering the alternatives in a sec.

Daniel Payne at the Federalist has “Seven Reasons To Vote For Hillary Instead Of Donald.”  We had intended to go in more detail but for our current purposes we point out that reason number one (!) is Donald Trump is a serial liar.  That is what Payne leads with in a piece that is supposed to be a comparison.  As #Nevertrump stalwart Jonah Goldberg notes today, “[Hillary’s] style of deception is more insidious.”  Really, these #Nevertrump folks need to do better.

Picking The Donald over Herself is easy for us because The Donald is close enough to a dominate solution.  He doesn’t win many categories but he doesn’t lose any that are significant to us.  The Bernie, on the other hand, presents a more difficult decision as the alternative to The Donald.  He is a fool on economics but an honest one.  Behavior would be one reason to prefer The Bernie.  Unfortunately, he is a fool but if we think he is a naive fool then perhaps he won’t cause much damage, especially with a GOP Congress.  We are not signing up to lead conservatives for The Bernie but Bernie-Donald is a more difficult decision for us than Hillary-Donald is.

Worst Appeals To Authority*

Recently on Facebook there was a picture of the five living presidents with a comment like none of these folks think Trump can do the job.  Ignore for the discussion the truth of the report.  It is a bizarre way to attack The Donald.  The reason that folks are voting for The Donald is that they think that most or all of those five have failed.  Oh, and one of them has a wife that is a presidential candidate.  So, why would folks take advice from these five folks?  We are big fans of W but he is unlikely to be at the top of other lists.

* We are pretty sure we are borrowing this from Taranto but we can’t find a recent example on Best of the Web.

Trump has lots of weaknesses but you need to find a line of attack that resonates.  This one does the opposite.


Paul Mirengoff at Powerline is undecided:

In any event, Decision 2016 has been framed for me. Trump would be significantly better than Clinton on the crucial matter of the courts, and on some other matters as well. But are his authoritarian tendencies (as opposed to his general lack of fitness) substantial enough to disqualify him?

Again it is an A or B choice.  Herself or The Donald will be the next president.  So when you judge lack of fitness or authoritarian tendencies (we would prefer post-constitutional) you must compare them on both criteria.

Sidebar: it might be good to have a post-constitutional Republican because the left likes it in Obama but might be brought to their senses by a Trump.  We don’t like these convoluted solutions because lots can go wrong.  In this case, the cost is low because Herself, like Obama and Trump, would be post-constitutional.  We know that George Will’s dream is not going to happen in 2017.  End sidebar.

Again for us it is easy but unpleasant to pick The Donald over Herself.  It is a wash in the unfitness and post-constitutional areas but on judges and immigration he is an easy choice for us.  If you are open borders (and conservative – a very odd pairing) then it is a harder choice.

Living To Tell The Tale

Jay Nordlinger had this note at NRO recently:

After the war, [Janos Horvath] was the youngest member of Parliament. Then came a long, productive American exile. (Ran for Congress, as a Republican!) After the fall of Communism, he returned to Hungary, where he reentered Parliament as the oldest member. How thrilling it must have been — how satisfying — to reenter that body, after all that time. It must have been a dream come true, really. Not so much his personal return to Parliament, but the death of Communism and the reintroduction of democracy.

While we were in Poland we had the joy of hearing a similar story.  The family’s mill was taken over by the Communists when they took over after WWII.  It did not prosper but the the father of the man that told us the story lived long enough for freedom to return and have the mill returned to him.  Of course, it had no value by then but the victory was the thing.  Jay was not privy to the story so he speculates how thrilling it must have been.  We can tell you that he was exactly right.

Taking On The Anti-GMO Mob

Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana and current president of Purdue, thinks we need to take on the folks opposed to genetically modified organisms (GMO) in farming.  In a report on NRO there is a nice quote of him taking them to task:

We are used to and only comfortable with polite and civil [dialogue] . . . [but] we are dealing here, yes, with the most blatant anti-science of the age. It is inhumane and it must be countered on that basis. Those who would deny with zero scientific validity the fruits of modern agricultural research to starving or undernourished people — or those who will be, absent great progress — need to be addressed for what they are, which is callous, which is heartless, which is cruel.

We should recognize two differences between this dispute and global warming (GW).  First, ignoring the science issues in GW, the GW advocates are trying to enact policies that have very meagre outcomes, GW is reduced a trivial amount, or are, at best, uncertain in terms of costs and benefits.  On the other hand, the GMO debate tries to stop technologies with large benefits (especially to the poorest) at small costs.  If you love science then you need to back GMOs.

Second, Daniels is not taking about restricting the anti-GMO activist speech like the GW fans want to do to the anti-warmists.  He is just asking that we speak plainly about the issues.  Hurray for him.


Epic Sports Failure

First we had Jordan Spieth at the Masters.  The epic fail there was the second shot in the water at the 12th hole.  The first shot in the water was bad but not decisive.  The second shot in the water was both decisive and bad shot for a 20-handicapper.  Now we have Tottenham Hotspurs (Spurs) in the British Premier League (BPL).  They weren’t playing to win but for second and third.  They were playing to finish ahead of Arsenal for the first time in 21 years.  A couple of weeks ago when it seemed a sure thing we were watching a Spurs game and the announcer said: “Don’t underestimate the importance of the Spurs finishing ahead of Arsenal.”  It has been a one-sided rivalry in North London over the past two decades.  Several times Arsenal has kept the Spurs out of the lucrative Champions League.  We have a friend who is a Spurs fan.  He records all the Arsenal matches but only watches if they lose.  Spurs fans hate Arsenal.

It was an epic fail because of the rivalry and the way the Spurs went about it.  After 34 games the Spurs had 68 points or were averaging two a game.  After the same 34 games Arsenal had 63 points or five points less with four games (and 12 points) to play.  Arsenal played a little better earning eight points of the final twelve (averaging two a game) to finish with 71.  Spurs were much worse earning only two points in the last four games (out of a possible twelve points) and losing the last two games.  In the penultimate game they lost at home to the eventual fifth place team.  Losing at home even to a competitive team is a weak result but it wasn’t decisive and it is not an epic fail.  It was akin to the first shot in the water at 12.  In the last game, however, they played Newcastle United, a team that had already been relegated.   To be fair, it was at Newcastle.  Briefly, relegation means when you finish in the bottom three of a league (there are 20 in the BPL) you are sent to a lower league.  The Spurs were battling for second.

The game at Newcastle started poorly for the Spurs.  They were down 2-0 but clawed back to 2-1.  Then midway through the second half with the score still 2-1, a Newcastle player saw a red card meaning that Newcastle would be a man short for the substantial part of the game remaining.

Sidebar: Players are often said to get or receive a red card or yellow card.  It is better to say they see such a card.  When our children played soccer we were disappointed to find out that they did not get to keep the card.

One more goal would be a tie and that would be enough because the Spurs held the goal differential tie-breaker.  Instead, Newcastle scored three goals a man down and won 5-1.  Arsenal won their game and the hex continued.  All the Spurs had to do was beat a poor team that was a man short.  Losing but three instead makes it an epic fail.