16 Jun 2016

People Blogging About Trump

Trump 19 Comments

I thought these were all interesting observations. STANDARD DISCLAIMER WHENEVER I BLOG ABOUT TRUMP: I do not like the guy, I am not voting for him (or anyone else). But much of the commentary about him has been nonsensical, and the followings bloggers (like me) don’t like the guy either, but are pointing out oddities in the commentary.

==> Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) writes a kinda-sorta defense of Trump that admittedly could apply to just about anyone, but still–I thought this was profound:

What exactly is the risk of a Trump presidency? Beats me. But let’s talk about it anyway.

Your Abysmal Track Record

For starters, ask yourself how well you predicted the performance of past presidents. Have your psychic powers been accurate?

I’m not good at predicting the performance of presidents. I thought Reagan would be dangerous, but he presided over the end of the Cold War. And I thought George W. Bush would be unlikely to start a war, much less two of them.

And how about your ability to predict the future of your own relationships? Most relationships end badly, so we know that the majority of Americans are not good at predicting the future. Have all of your relationships worked out the way you expected? Mine haven’t.

==> I am pleasantly surprised by how “conspiracy theorist” (though he explains in the post that his view does not rest on any closed-door meeting or secret memo) Gene Callahan has become lately:

When Howard Dean’s candidacy was sabotaged by the spread of the “Dean is crazy” meme, I began to recognize that although America ostensibly has two political parties, the goal of our elites is to make sure that each party runs a presidential candidate acceptable to them. Sure, the two parties are not identical, and there is plenty of room for disagreement so long as that disagreement is not on issues important to our elite class:

1) globalism and the gradual destruction of nation-states (so that trans-national corporations gain power);
2) continual low-level warfare around the world (so military contractors make more and more money); and
3) continued macroeconomic turbulence (so top investment banks become richer and richer).

When a candidate who is not “on board” on these issues seems to be a threat, there are certain standard ways to deal with him or her. They involve spreading the memes that:

1) that candidate is a racist;
2) that candidate is crazy; and
3) that candidate is dangerous.

==> And finally, Steve Landsburg put his finger on what has been bothering me about the recent outrage over “OMG Trump is so racist for saying the ‘Mexican’ judge is biased against him!!”

(I’m going to make the point a little differently from how Steve made it.) First of all, I’ve seen National Review-type guys pretending to be outraged that Trump called the judge Mexican, when the judge is American, you big racist jerk!! OK, this is ridiculous. If I say Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant, am I making a claim about geography? If someone says to me, “Murphy, that’s Irish right?” I’m not going to go ballistic.

Second, and more relevant: If you think it’s racist for Trump to argue that a judge of Mexican heritage might retaliate against Trump for his provocative views on illegal immigration, then you also would have a problem if a Republican strategist said the GOP was shooting itself in the foot for nominating Trump, since “Women and Hispanic voters do not appreciate his insulting remarks.”

Right? I’m assuming every single person who said Trump’s comments about the judge were racist, also condemned every political analyst who said Trump’s remarks alienate women and minorities, right?

Now of course, really what’s going on is that Trump has said things that are arguably racist, and so his critics don’t mind throwing the term around even when it doesn’t make sense. But still, if you want that term to retain any moral force, you can’t use it when it doesn’t make sense.

Last thing: For people who sincerely fear a Trump presidency as being qualitatively more dangerous than a Clinton (or Romney or Obama) presidency, let me point something out. The kind of person who is planning on voting for Trump, is certainly NOT going to change his or her mind when you loudly call him a racist, especially in a situation where the term doesn’t even make sense. You are truly hurting your own cause by doing that. To repeat something I’ve said for months now: In the beginning, I strongly disliked Trump and was amazed/appalled at the stuff he was saying. But after seeing self-righteous condemnations from people I knew didn’t actually deploy those same criteria (with which they denounced Trump) in previous elections, I started sympathizing with him. (Note, sympathize is not the same as support.)

19 Responses to “People Blogging About Trump”

  1. E. Harding says:

    I supported Obama over Romney because I thought Romney was an elitist and would be worse on gridlock (I wanted more of it) and foreign policy, as well as due to the fact he was an elitist. Of course, I didn’t know Obama would re-create the Islamic State from the ashes left in the aftermath of the Bush surge just a couple months after re-inauguration. So Scott’s right here.

  2. Keshav Srinivasan says:

    Concerning Trump’s comments about the judge, I think it’s worth quoting a comment Ieft on Gene’s blog:

    “Gene, most of the people I’ve seen criticizing Trump’s comments about the judge basically make the following argument: “Donald, if you’re saying that a judge will treat you unfairly simply on the basis of the fact that he is of Mexican heritage, then there are two possibilities. Either you are conceding that your statements and policies are so hurtful to Hispanics that you cannot possibly expect fair treatment from a Hispanic judge, which says something awfully bad about you. Or you are saying that there is some other reason why you don’t want a judge of Mexican descent, which opens the door to the possibility that you don’t want a Hispanic judge for racist reasons.” Now you may disagree with their argument, but that’s the argument they’re making.”

    • Yancey Ward says:

      I basically come at the issue this way- if Trump really is completely wrong to complain about the identity of the judge and the potential for bias, then neither political party should really care about the appointment and confirmation of federal judges at any level. I mean, really, if one can assert that Trump can get nothing but a fair hearing from Curiel, then why all the glee about replacing Scalia with Garland? Or turn it around, suppose the Trump University case were in front of, let’s say, Andrew Hanen- would it be wrong for the plaintiffs to feel that an anti-immigration politician might receive a more sympathetic hearing from Hanen based just on his past rulings?

      Trump isn’t a nobody before a federal judge. Based on Curiel’s biography, I don’t think it unreasonable for Trump to think he might not get a fair and balanced adjudication. Maybe it is unwise to say this out loud, but then maybe it isn’t.

    • Major.Freedom says:

      But if the judge is indeed biased against Trump, then that comment fails to account for that possibility.

      The first “choice” in that comment is the flawed one. The commenter is being racist with it. He/she is assuming that a person would have a particular view of Trump if they’re Hispanic, and he/she is assuming that the judge’s view must be influenced or a reflection of “Hispanic views”. There is no way to speak to “Hispanic views” without racism.

      The commenter is a hypocrite.

      • guest says:

        MF, would you be willing to allow for the possibility that, due to typical Hispanic cultural upbringing – which happens at the level of the individual – the term “Hispanic views” is just being used for convenience, and that it’s not necessary to believe that *all* Hispanics have the same, or even similar views, in order to find value in using the term?

  3. GabbyD says:

    “If I say Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant, am I making a claim about geography?”
    No, its a claim about cuisine.

    ” If someone says to me, “Murphy, that’s Irish right?” I’m not going to go ballistic.”
    of course. all names have origins that predate america. why be mad about that? be mad if someone raises that to you and expects something negative of you, due to the fact that you appear to be irish.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      GabbyD it is amazing how much people refuse to back down one iota on stuff like this.

      The right analogy is if someone was on record saying, “People from Ireland, in my experience, are worthless drunks,” and then I was in charge of whether that person could come on the Contra Cruise, and the person complained, “Murphy is not going to let me on the cruise because he’s Irish.”

      So you can say the original statement was racist/bigoted, but not the second thing.

  4. guest says:

    Note to Gene Callahan: Howard Dean *is* dangerous:

    Howard Dean Deception Boot Camp

    “That’s called the Pivot. Clinton was the best at it. …”

    “… We’re too damned honest. We think we have to answer their question. You don’t ever have to answer the question. You should answer the question that they should have asked you, not the one they did ask you. And the one they should have asked you is the one you like.”

    Howard Dean to European Socialists: Let’s Work Together for ‘Global New Deal’

  5. Andrew_FL says:

    I don’t know I think I was pretty spot on in my reading of Obama. And the ways in which Trump is virtually an identical phenomenon to Obama are precisely those things most worrying to me.

    I doesn’t really matter, everyone with neutral to high expectations for a Trump presidency will never have their beliefs challenged by events. He ain’t got a snowball’s chance in heck.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Andrew_FL are you saying he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of being elected? Or of being a good president, conditional on getting to the White House?

  6. Andrew_FL says:

    By the way, Bob, the writers of National Review would almost certainly pass Landsburg’s consistency check, so I’m not sure what your point there is.

  7. Tel says:

    3) continued macroeconomic turbulence (so top investment banks become richer and richer).

    I would put that one into the category “Never attribute to malice what could adequately be explained by stupidity… but don’t rule out malice.” This is often known as Heinlein’s Razor, as a special case of Occam’s Razor.

    In other words, I think there’s a lot of powerful people who have convinced themselves that Keynesian economics does work as advertised, the fact that it also makes them wealthy is seen as incidental.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      Hanlon. It’s Hanlon’s razor

  8. Josiah says:

    Part of the reason people think of Trump as riskier than a typical president is that normally when presidents do bad or scary stuff they frame it in ways that are meant to be reassuring. So, for example, Obama has a list of people who he plans to kill with drones, but he’s very official and staid about it, so people don’t worry about it.

    Or, to take another example, Republicans spent a lot of effort over the last decade trying to legitimize the use of torture on suspected terrorists. But they never said that’s what they were doing; instead they talked about “enhanced interrogation.” Trump, on the other hand, dispenses with the euphemism, which makes it sound much scarier.

    • guest says:

      “Or, to take another example, Republicans spent a lot of effort over the last decade trying to legitimize the use of torture on suspected terrorists. But they never said that’s what they were doing; instead they talked about “enhanced interrogation.”

      I’m from the Right and supported this at the time, but even after I’ve come to believe in Austro-Libertarianism I still believe that torture is legitimate under certain circumstances.

      Before I explain why, though, let me explain why we on the Right don’t consider waterboarding to be torture, at least not in the sense that would matter.

      If we hurt your feelings, that’s not torture. Nothing actually happened to you.

      We are under the impression that the same principle is at play with waterboarding. Nothing is actually happening, in our understanding: there’s no actual danger of harm from waterboarding. It’s all in one’s head.

      We’re not trying to hide the fact that we want to inflict pain on our enemies to get information from them (there *is* an effective way to do this, contrary to the “they will say anything to avoid pain” argument) by using the term “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

      Rather, we’re honestly making what we believe to be a meaningful distinction between torture and emotional pain.

      And we spent a lot of effort trying to legitimize those techniques because we are being told that we can’t treat our enemies as if they actually wanted to kill us. That’s just insane, and we rightly ridicule Lefties for their view that enemies should be handled with kid gloves.

      And we supported the destruction of the evidence of the use of those (and probably other) techniques because Lefty-run courts (which is what they would have been) are going to play legalese games with soldiers’ lives.

      With regard to my claim about torture being effective for gaining information, all you need is the knowledge that the enemy knows something about some topic and for the enemy to know that you know.

      For example, if you have video of an enemy entering a code to unlock a door, but you can’t see the buttons he’s pressing, you know that he knows the code to open the door.

      Show him the video, and the enemy now knows that you know. He can’t hide the fact that he knows (unless he can convince you that the code probably changed), and all he has to do to avoid being tortured is to give you the code.

      So, yeah, if you go around torturing enemies for information they *might* have, then that’s cruel and probably not an efficient use of one’s time and resources in a war.

      And, yeah, if you torture indiscriminately, people *will* say anything to make the pain stop.

      But that just means that you have to make sure the enemy actually has the information you want.

      As for why, even as an Austro-Libertarian, I still support torture under certain circumstances, it’s because in those circumstances, the enemy either has the intention for harm to come to someone and has actively participated in the preparation of that harm-to-be, or he has already harmed someone and the repayment is in-kind.

      • Tel says:

        Nothing is actually happening, in our understanding: there’s no actual danger of harm from waterboarding. It’s all in one’s head.

        It does deprive the brain of oxygen (briefly) so just because there’s no obvious damage doesn’t mean no damage at all. Damage to the brain can be subtle and difficult to detect, like the early stages of dementia for example.

        It’s a bit like the old trick of using a phone book so there’s no bruises but the damage is internal where the police officers won’t get in trouble for it.

    • Matt M says:

      I’ve been telling people for awhile that I like Trump because he isn’t afraid to show us how the sausage is made.

      Of course, most people don’t actually want to see that…

  9. barbara smith says:

    I am voting for Trump no matter what. I can’t imagine another dictator in office not another four or eight years of ripping off the Country pillaging until there is nothing left to take but the peoples souls. Trump not only is not afraid but I know he will open a huge can of worms in the government. I want to see it happen in my life time.

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