Friday, August 26, 2016

Another Day Brings Another Batch of Republican Bigwigs Against Trump

On August 25, 2016, the Wall Street Journal released the results of a survey of 37 current and former living members (8 others did not respond to the Journal's inquiries) who served on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under 8 presidents.  Twenty served under Democrat presidents and 17 under Republicans.  Of the 8 who did not respond, 2 served Democrat presidents and 6 Republicans.

Of the 17 serving Republican presidents, 6 said they opposed Donald Trump and 11 declined to say either way.  The 6 were concerned with Trump's anti-free trade policies.  Two said they would vote for Hillary Clinton, one for Libertarian Gary Johnson, and the other 3 said they could not support Trump or Clinton.

Of those serving Democrat presidents, 13 said they supported Hillary Clinton and 7 declined to say.

The headline of the article is the message:  "Economists Who've Advised Presidents Are No Fans of Donald Trump."  It would be expected that advisers to Democrat presidents would oppose Trump. What is evidently newsworthy is that none of the CEA members under Republican presidents would state support for Trump.

Another story in the daily saga of prominent Republicans coming out against Trump.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Political Contributions From Stanford Faculty, Staff, and Students

Zip Code 94305 encompasses all of Stanford University.  About 40% of the faculty and high-level staff and their families inhabit (own) campus residences.  Well over 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students live in student housing on campus.

The Center for Responsive Politics reports political contributions to individual candidates, parties, and PACs, among others.  As of August 24, 2016, data are available through June 30, 2016.

For Stanford (94305), 136 individual contributions were made to Hillary Clinton during the months of May and June 2016.  (I did not add up the total amount of money contributed).

No contributions were made to Donald Trump.  To be fair, most campus Republicans did not support Trump in California's Republican primary.

Your friendly proprietor will update these numbers when data are reported for July, August, and September, and will total the dollar amounts for the last reported month prior to November 8.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Republicans For Hillary

Every day one or more prominent Republicans announce their opposition to Donald Trump and support for Hillary Clinton.  The latest (August 23, 2016) is James Glassman, founding executive director of the George W. Bush Policy Institute at SMU in Dallas, Texas.

Political candidates for high office, especially the presidency, typically make the rounds of think tanks to collect advisers and secure endorsements.  Democrats do the rounds of liberal think tanks and Republicans visit conservative think tanks.  The sessions begin with the candidates setting forth their positions on important issues and then exchange views with the fellows.

Your friendly proprietor has been affiliated with Stanford’s Hoover Institution since 1971.  My first round table discussion was with Ronald Reagan in 1978 on foreign policy.  Since then Hoover has probably convened over 100 round table discussions with political leaders.  I cannot recall a visit by a Democrat presidential candidate or prospective Democrat presidential wannabe.

Over the past decade I suggested to several Hoover higher-ups that Hillary Clinton should be invited to meet with the fellows.  Perhaps she might find one or more ideas developed by Hoover fellows of interest.  It would also indicate that Hoover was interested in presenting its research to politicians on both sides of the political spectrum.  (As previously posted, about 40% of Hoover’s policy-oriented fellows are registered Democrats.)

Each time I suggested that Hoover invite her, I was told such an event was a non-starter.  The reason given was that the overwhelming majority, 80% or more, of Hoover’s donors are Republicans, who might express their displeasure at Hoover hosting Hillary.

So here we are on August 23, 2016, the date of this post.  If the election were held today, over two-thirds, as many as three-fourths, of the policy-oriented fellows would be “likely” Clinton voters.  No more than a third, perhaps as a few as a quarter, would be “likely” Trump voters.  Some of Hoover’s prominent fellows have publicly announced their opposition to Trump in one or another format or forum.  Some have stated why they intend to vote for Clinton.

Perhaps the “Never Trump” Hoover fellows have come to represent the views of an increasing share of Hoover’s more recent donors.  If so, and if Hillary Clinton is elected president, then it’s much more likely that Hoover fellows will get to exchange views with her in a Hoover roundtable during her first term.

In the future, it’s also more likely that Democrats seeking seats in Congress or governorships will include Hoover in their visits to think tanks.  This would be good for Hoover fellows and Democrat politicians.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Numbers On Political Parade

250, 600, 70, 22.  What do these numbers have in common?  These are the number of people who have signed various open letters opposing Trump and/or stating their intent to vote for Hillary Clinton. 600 historians, 250 members of the foreign policy establishment, 70 former foreign policy officials in Republican administrations, and 22 authors in National Review, to name several. More open letters are likely to appear in the remaining days before the election.

18,000, 23,000, 10,000, 15,000, 30,000.  What do these numbers have in common?  These are the size of crowds that have attended Trump rallies, many people waiting in line for hours to get in. These are the folks who want to see and hear Trump.

The mainstream media (MSM) and punditocracy give more attention and attach greater importance to signatories of the letters than they do to the hundreds of thousands of individuals who show up every month at Trump rallies.  They cite polls showing Clinton in the lead, both nationally and in key battleground states.  But her largest crowds during the campaign, apart from her acceptance speech at the Democrat National Convention, rarely exceed a thousand.

The MSM and pundits speculate that Trump's huge crowds may not show up to vote.  But these are the same people who proclaimed that he had no chance to win the Republican nomination for president from Day 1 of his campaign.

Many analysts contend that Trump's primary wins and large crowds represent a rebellion against the status quo politics of the [corrupt] ruling elite.  If so, why would any member of the Academic Political Media Industrial Complex (APMIC) think that their names on letters would sway voters to their point of view?  Rather, each new letter and list of signatories are likely to strengthen Trump's support among those disenchanted with American politics and who want a change.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

250 Members, And Counting, Of The Foreign Policy Establishment Call Donald Trump’s Vision Of Foreign Policy “strategically Reckless”

Once again, the foreign policy establishment’s Praetorian Guard, 250 members and counting, signed an open letter declaring Trump’s Vision of U.S. Foreign Policy “Strategically Reckless.”  They warn that his vision, were it to materialize, would weaken America’s alliances and erode its power.  The letter lays out nine illustrations of their concern, which you can judge for yourself.

What’s missing from the letter?  Two words.  Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s vision, the signatories assert, is "strategically reckless.”  But no mention is made of Hillary Clinton’s “actual strategic recklessness.”

For example, using an unprotected private email server to send and receive classified email according to FBI Director James Comey.”  And then repeatedly lying about it to the point where even the Washington Post gave her ”four Pinocchios.”

Encouraging the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Kaddafi, who had made peace with the West and dismantled his nuclear weapons program.  Libya has become a hotbed of tribal violence and a base for ISIS training and operations, which is facilitating the spread of radical Islam in North Africa.

ISIS (ISIL, Islamic State) arose as a powerful force on her watch as secretary of state.

Questionable contributions were made to the Clinton Foundation.

How about a little intellectual honesty?  Comparing his words with her deeds makes him “strategically reckless?”

The good news is that the multiple open letters of 250 here and 300 there have all been on the losing side of trying to stop Brexit and stop Trump from winning the Republican nomination.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Review: George P. Shultz (ed), Blueprint for America

On July 8, 2016, the Hoover Press (Stanford University) released a free, online volume edited by George P. Shultz entitled Blueprint for America.  The book consists of 12 chapters on domestic and foreign policy, including an Introduction, Conclusion, and three commentaries written by Shultz interspersed among the chapters.  The authors include 5 economists, 1 MD, two retired four-star generals, 1 diplomat, and 1 foreign policy specialist.

Like Gaul, book reviews are divided into three parts:  (1) purpose, (2) content, and (3) strengths and weaknesses.

The title conveys the purpose—to offer accessible policy ideas for civic, economic, and security architecture that would shore up the long-term foundations of American strengths, and address the basic policy priorities facing an incoming president and Congress.

The content consists of 12 chapters that address questions of entitlement reform, deficits, monetary reform, national debt, regulatory reform, tax reform, health care reform, K-12 education reform, a realistic and proactive agenda setting for national security, and the practice of diplomacy in turbulent times.

The book’s strength is that all the contributors are recognized experts in their fields.  The policies they propound are based on sound economic and military reasoning.  The majority has combined academic with political experience, having served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.  The four-star general officers have served with distinction from their entrance into, and their retirement from, the military.

The book’s weakness can be expressed in four words:  “same old, same old. “ I mean old in two respects.

First, I mean old in that there are few new ideas presented in the book.  The policy recommendations are, by and large, the same as those presented to Ronald Reagan on his accession to the presidency in 1981.

Second, I mean old as in the age of the authors.  In the order in which their names appear in the table of contents, the authors are 95, 70, 68, 60, 69, 58, 73, 68, 65, 58, and 87 (average age of 70.1).  Elderly professionals are prone to justify long-held views and tend to restate them in speeches, articles, books, op-eds, etc.  Rarely will anyone reject his or her long-held views and replace them with new ideas in the latter stage of their careers.    I think the book would carry more weight with the current academic, political, and media generations if it included younger contributors in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

Let’s go back 26 years, when the Hoover Institution Press published The United States in the 1980s.  George P. Shultz, then 59, played an important role serving on the book’s advisory board.

The United States in the 1980s

In 1980, the Hoover Institution published, The United States in the 1980s, which is acknowledged to be its most influential book addressing issues of domestic and international policy.  The book consisted of 28 essays, 14 written by experts in fields of U.S. domestic policy and 14 in international policy.  Many of the authors served, or advised, on policy in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

The opening paragraph of the “Introduction,” written by the co-editors Peter Duignan and Alvin Rabushka, describes conditions (except for the absence of inflation) in the United States in 2016.

“Two centuries ago, Thomas Jefferson is reputed to have wisely proclaimed:  “That government is best which governs least.”  As we enter the 1980s, we in the United States would do well to remember his maxim.  The 1960s and 1970s were decades of dramatic growth in legislation, government regulation, public sector spending, and bold policy initiatives in a host of social areas.  We have learned by now that we cannot solve social problems by throwing money at them.  Too, we have reaped a harvest of rising inflation, waste, and inefficiency in government, and of declining productivity among workers.  All this is vividly reflected in ever-increasing disenchantment with and distrust of government.

The authors proposed a number of measures to remedy these problems.  They included business tax policy (fleshed out in the Hall-Rabushka fully integrated, business cash-flow expenditure tax—the Flat Tax), tax and spending limits for state and local governments, welfare reform, insuring the solvency of Social Security, reducing costly business regulation, deregulating energy markets, market alternatives to government intervention in health care, and other measures designed to minimize government distortions in achieving a cleaner environment, safer urban areas, and more access to higher education.

I was responsible for editing the domestic half of the book.  After an introductory essay by Milton and Rose Friedman, the ages of the contributors, in the order in which their essays appeared in the first half of the book, were 55, 40, 57, 73, 43, 34, 53, 48, 49, 59, 53, 40, and 55 (average of 50.6).   The 20-year difference is half the lifetime of most productive professional careers.  The policy proposals set forth in The United States in the 1980s were refreshingly new, an antidote to the prevailing big government orthodoxy of the prior years.  It is all too easy for the academic-political-media world to dismiss policy ideas proposed in 2016 that are similar to those recommended, and in many cases adopted,  based on a book published 36 years ago.

Perhaps I’m wrong.  Maybe the ideas in Blueprint for America will provide a basis for action in the coming 4-8 years.  But, it hardly seems likely if Hillary Clinton is elected president.  As for Trump, most of the contributors have expressed their concern and doubt about the future if Donald Trump is elected.  This brief volume would have been an appropriate handbook for Jeb Bush or some other mainstream Republican.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

With Hillary Cleared, Here’s What’s On Tap For July 2016

This post is your brief guide for the remaining 10 days before, and the two weeks of, the Republican (July 18-21) and Democrat (July 25-28) conventions.  Put aside the FBI’s exoneration of Hillary Clinton.  Ten million words of analyses and complaints will not reverse the outcome.  Focus on what’s ahead.

In the days before the convention, the media will publish numerous stories and videos about prominent Republicans who oppose Donald Trump and why they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton.  A typical article appeared in Politico on June 6, 2010.  There will be few, if any, stories of Democrats, including Bernie Sanders’ supporters, who will abandon the Democrat Party and vote for Trump.

Both conventions will be crawling (infested) with media.  They will be interviewing delegates inside the convention centers, at their hotels, and pundits around the world.

At the Republican convention, most the media will be interviewing delegates who disapprove of Trump as their nominee and who supported Cruz, Rubio, and other candidates.  They will also feature Republicans who intend to sit out the election or vote for Hillary, or who chose not to attend the convention to avoid being seen in the company of Trump.  Viewers who watch gavel-to-gavel coverage will think they are watching a Democrat Party-sponsored Republican convention.

In sharp contrast, coverage of the Democrat convention will highlight speakers, interviews with delegates and political commentators singing Hillary’s praises, and the media will join in chorus.  The Democrat convention will be a Hillary Clinton progressive love fest.

There is literally nothing Trump can do or say in the next three weeks that will change this plot.  It will be up to him, and him alone, in September and October to rally the American people to his cause.  I have said that I am for Trump and that he will win.  The anti-Trump media and NEVER TRUMP Republicans have been wrong since he launched his candidacy on June 16, 2015.  They will be wrong on Election Day.  Count on it!