In Which The New York Times Epic Search For An Intellectually Rigorous Conservative Goes, Again, Unrequited

So, Bret Stephens has another column explaining why he remains a never-Trumper.  It is, I guess, churlish to dump on someone who has consistently weighed in on the right side of that particular question.  But, frankly, that’s a low bar. The fact that so many of his co-conservative-cultists have failed to surmount it is their shame, and while I’m surely not criticizing Stephens for his stance, I’m not sure how many cookies he’s earned just yet.

And so, I’m unwilling to let this pass unscorned:

Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.

And, of course, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?

That’s the question I keep hearing from old friends on the right who voted with misgiving for Donald Trump last year and now find reasons to like him. I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above.

So here, I’ll confess.  This whole post is an excuse to publish this:

An amazing resemblance, right?

OK. Let’s go through Stephens’ list:

Tax cuts? You mean tax increases on at least 53% of American households w/in the life of this bill.

Deregulation? Like this? Because, of course, no one needs less oversight than those who can wreck an entire coastline.

More for the military? Because, of course, there is no upper bound to the transfer payments to be made to what Eisenhower knew to be a danger to democracy.

Less for the UN?  Because, of course, unilateralism is our best defense.  I take this catchphrase as a synecdoche for the wholesale abandonment of multilateral ties, from hammering NATO to the blanket disdain of multi-nation trade negotiations to the gutting of the State Department.  This is the fever dream of American exceptionalism, and without turning this whole post into Bronx cheer on this one point, I’ll just say that those who’ve actually had self and others at risk in the world tends to think that a gazillions for defense and none for soft power approach is the way of keyboard kommandos and dangerous buffoons.

ISIS crushed in its heartland? I blame Obama.

Assad hit with cruise missiles? And…? (Also, Yemen.)

Troops to Afghanistan? OK — he did that. And…?  This is a success, how? There’s an end goal of what?

Assad hit with cruise missiles? And…? (Also, Yemen.)<

Arms for Ukraine?  This is perhaps the most interesting of the alleged foreign policy successes.  How much of this was forced by the need to be seen not to be in Putin’s pocket? History may relate.  Perhaps this will end well, confounding the sad record of the region.

A tougher approach to North Korea? Really? I mean, Bret, seriously?  Just today the news broke that Trump’s Russian friends are supplying fuel to the North Korean regime.  NK’s nuke program continues to display itself at regular intervals.  Trump managed to make Kim look rather the more self-controlled leader — a task that takes some doing.  Tell me one aspect in which the Trump approach to North Korea has advanced US interests or enhanced the security of our allies?

I’m waiting…

Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital.  Well, NYT colleague Chunky Ross sees the lack of overwhelming Arab anger as proof that this is all going to turn out OK, but, again, tell me one US interest this advances.

I’m still waiting.

The Iran deal decertified? This is good because absent that deal there’s no barrier to the creation of an Iranian bomb? This is just tribal stupidity, of course. And it reflects the state of “conservative” “intellection”: the second step in the chain of reasoning needs never to be expressed.  Decertify Iran and then…what? Profit? As the cartoon has it

Title IX gutted? Because sexual assault is such a messy problem….(This one is going to look less and less good with each passing day, I reckon, but what do you expect from, as Stephens himself puts it, “

the party of the child-molesting sore loser” and its allies, heirs and assigns.)

Yes to Keystone? Come on, Bret. Not even trying here. This truly is just checking off the in-group markers.

No to Paris? Because what is an incorrigible (literally) climate denialist to say? You’d think after the last year even Stephens might be a bit diffident here, but no, that would be to ignore the key aspect of his branding.  He’s the reasonable conservative who is on the merits dubious about the science of climate change, and if he were to admit he were wrong, how much else in the edifice would fall? (All of it Katie.) (And no, I’m not going to bother here to relitigate climate science.  I refer anyone whose interested back to my column of some time ago, and to, well, pretty much the entire research output of the field.)

Wall Street roaring and confidence high? Ladles and Jellyspoons, I give you not so much September 2007 as roughly 2005-6.  It all looks great until it doesn’t, and while all the circumstances of the Great Recession are not (yet?) present, there are a lot of assumptions I wouldn’t be altogether comfortable with lying behind current financial judgments.  I can tell you that in my book-in-progress about the South Sea Bubble, I’m just about up to June, 1720 — and I can tell you it looked just as good from there, so much so that even Isaac Newton was fooled.  I don’t think Bret Stephens is smarter than my man Izzie.

And Neil Gorsuch? Well, Bret, let me just say this. In a column in which Stephens argues that culture and character are vital to the long-term fate of the United States, let me simply say that the fact that Merrick Garland is not now a Supreme Court justice is exhibit [n] that Trump isn’t the cause of any erosion of American political culture.  He’s the symptom of the damage a deranged party chasing power over principle can do.  That would be the party to which you pledge fealty, the Republicans, who blocked Garland in order to pack the court themselves.

Stephens plays on honest conservative broker on the pages of the Times.  He’s actually something less interesting but more revealing:  a case study to show how knowing the answer makes you unable to understand the questions, or reality.

/rant over.  I know that this is all pointless.  Stephens is part of the guild and all of us dirty hippies will never grasp the eternal sunshine of the spotless discourse therein.  But I guess I still want it on the record, some record, that what passes for argument in Stephens’ neighborhood, isn’t.

Image: Facsimile of a miniature from a ms. in the Bibl. de l’Arsenal






80 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    I don’t see any reason a conservative shouldn’t like Trump.

  2. 2
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    that first paragraph is quite a mix of fantasy and spite.

  3. 3
    Betty Cracker says:

    I don’t think Bret Stephens is smarter than my man Izzie.

    LMAO!

    @Baud: He’s an embarrassing boor. That’s really their only objection.

  4. 4
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I find it disconcerting that so many of the Thinking Man’s Conservatives seem to recall the Obama presidency, which ended NOT EVEN A YEAR AGO, as an unremitting hellscape of economic desperation.

  5. 5
    Yarrow says:

    There is no such thing as a Principled Conservative. It’s a myth. A fable. A story white men tell each other around boardroom tables. It’s a fig leaf phrase designed to create the illusion of ethical behavior while those it covers are breaking laws, looting the Treasury and leaving Liberals and Democrats holding the bag.

  6. 6
    RobertDSC-Mac Mini says:

    Because what is an incorrigible (literally) climate denialist to say?

    For this he gets a tumbrel number. No cookies earned, not ever.

  7. 7
    Adrift says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I find it disconcerting that so many of the Thinking Man’s Conservatives seem to recall the Obama presidency, which ended NOT EVEN A YEAR AGO, as an unremitting hellscape of economic desperation.

    But it WAS!! Because, um, black.

  8. 8
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    Personally, I think Hannity may be the worst (most impactful?) apologist/enabler who is hence most deserving of personal ruin and humiliation.

    Make it so, #1.

  9. 9
    Calouste says:

    De certifying the Iran deal is a long term disaster for the US, because it shows that the US as a country can’t be relied upon to keep its word. You make an agreement under one president and after the election the next one can undo it on a whim. Who’s willing to make concessions to the US if you can’t trust them to hold up their part of the deal for more than 4 years?

  10. 10
    mvr says:

    Thanks for that! The start of that piece drove me nuts too, and the rest did not make up for it.

  11. 11
    Calouste says:

    @Yarrow: IGMFY is a principle, technically.

  12. 12
    Adrift says:

    @Calouste: feature, not bug, in this case.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Calouste:

    You make an agreement under one president and after the election the next one can undo it on a whim. Who’s willing to make concessions to the US if you can’t trust them to hold up their part of the deal for more than 4 years?

    This is true of any country that has changes of government.

  14. 14
    Yutsano says:

    I can tell you that in my book-in-progress about the South Sea Bubble

    I just learned about this in a series of videos done by a group of history/gaming nerds. And it doesn’t surprise me at all that Sir Isaac got caught up in this mishegas. EVERYONE in Britain did. It was probably one of the biggest scams ever pulled.

    Also: Robert Wapole man…

  15. 15
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Baud: True. He’s one of them. They’ve been moving in a direction that could only lead to a Trump since the 60’s when they adopted the anti-Black “Southern strategy”. Trump is just a tad too crude for some of their sensibilities.

  16. 16
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Yutsano: Walpole indeed. A major character in my book, as slippery (and brilliant) to me as to his contemporaries and his historians ever since.

  17. 17
    Another Scott says:

    In other news: Reuters: Russian tankers supplied North Korea with oil.

    LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea, according to two senior Western European security sources, providing an economic lifeline to the secretive Communist state.

    The sales of oil or oil products from Russia, the world’s second biggest oil exporter and a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council, breach U.N. sanctions, the security sources said.

    The transfers in October and November indicate that smuggling from Russia to North Korea has evolved to loading cargoes at sea since Reuters reported in September that North Korean ships were sailing directly from Russia to their homeland.

    […]

    This is my Shocked, Shocked face.

    Note this is different from the recent CNN story about China supplying oil to the DPRK.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  18. 18
    Mike in NC says:

    A few New Year’s Eve predictions for Trump maladministration in 2018: (1) sneak attack on North Korea that ends very badly, (2) total severing of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and (3) possible move to withdraw USA from membership in the UN because he’s a senile degenerate who watches 8-10 hours of Fox News and Infowars every frigging day.

  19. 19
    Jager says:

    For those of you in snow county, you see a snow plow, or a snow shovel for that matter, pushing snow down a street, driveway or sidewalk. You notice there’s always a little snow left behind with every pass, now imagine that’s money. Perfect description of the god damned republican tax bill.

  20. 20
    Baud says:

    @Mike in NC:

    possible move to withdraw USA from membership in the UN 

    The right-wing may hate the UN, but they aren’t giving up the Security Council veto.

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The GOP has been on this road for 50 years. ANYONE who still is a member of that party, never-Trumper or not, is complicit in treason against the Constitution of the United States, and should suffer the consequences.

  22. 22
    Mike J says:

    @Mike in NC:

    (1) sneak attack on North Korea that ends very badly,

    Very badly could mean I’m crashing on your couch because downtown Seattle is a radioactive crater. Hope that it doesn’t come to that.

  23. 23
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Calouste: “Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it was an ethos.”

  24. 24
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Dammit, I thought the dreaded “we think its a boner pill!” word that describes a socio-economic system had been removed from the automatic moderation algorithm.

  25. 25
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Administration officials confirmed that the State Department this month approved a commercial license authorizing the export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine, a sale valued at $41.5 million. These weapons address a specific vulnerability of Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement in two eastern provinces. There has been no approval to export the heavier weapons the Ukrainian government is asking for, such as Javelin antitank missiles.

    41 million is a pittance. Adjusted for inflation, Charlie Wilson was giving $2.2 Billion to the Mujahideen

  26. 26
    Schlemazel says:

    @Mike J:
    I very much doubt DRNK could deliver a nuke to Pearl Harbor let alone Seattle. The question is what would China do? Probably not nukes because that puts them in danger of retaliation. The People Republic does have a lot of other measures it could take though that would be bad enough and I think the rest of the international community would step back from supporting the US. That would make Mr. Putin very happy

  27. 27
    MomSense says:

    Fuck the fucking New York Times.
    Sipping a whisky at a bar and listening to some local songwriters play.

  28. 28
    danielx says:

    God help us if there’s war requiring troops we don’t have. Bush pere could put together a coalition and even Bush fils could put together a lesser coalition. The only thing Trump is ever going to get from other countries he asks for military assistance is a raspberry.

    “We’d love to help, but unfortunately our voters will not allow us to send troops to help a country headed by an asshole. Good luck in your future endeavors.”

  29. 29
    Schlemazel says:

    @MomSense:
    are they any good?

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MomSense: What whiskey?

  31. 31
    Mike J says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I got a Dalwhinnie 15 for xmas. But that’s a whisky, not a whiskey.

  32. 32
    Bill Arnold says:

    @RobertDSC-Mac Mini:

    For this he gets a tumbrel number. No cookies earned, not ever.

    I do not forgive climate change denial any more. It’s advocacy for human gigacide, to be blunt. He needs to start reading the scientific literature, for starters. And reading between the lines; when a climate scientist says “it would be bad”, they mean “apologize to your children and grandchildren, and understand that they will not forgive you”.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike J: I rend to be a Macallan guy, but that is a nice gift.

  34. 34
    Mike J says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Just barely old enough for Roy Moore to call in trig class.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: FYWP. Tend, not rend. My rending takes a different form.

  36. 36
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike J: Ew.

  37. 37
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Mike J: I love the names of scotches, more than I like the taste.

    Brian Cox made a video of how to pronounce those names, that for some reason on youtube is broken up into very brief one-whisky segments. Laphroaig.

  38. 38
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    A rant it’s a pleasure to read. Appreciate your reading the article and dissecting it so brutally.

  39. 39
    Another Scott says:

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch: Inflation, where? Zimbabwe or Nicaragua?

    $41M in January 1980 is roughly $130M today, in USistan, according to this calculator at the BLS.

    HTH.

    I mis-read your comment. Sorry.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  40. 40
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Laphroaig is most certainly an acquired taste.

  41. 41
    danielx says:

    Almost a sin to make Irish coffee with Black Bush.

    Almost.

  42. 42
    Brachiator says:

    I recently listened to a “moderate” conservative talk radio host dismiss every negative assessment of the GOP tax cuts, doubling down by offering an example which falsely assumes that the middle class and the ultra rich are getting the same percentage tax reduction, and finally saying that people should just wait and see whether they benefit.

    But never a harsh word or caution about Trump or anything his administration has done. Tribal loyalty demands obedience.

    As an aside, I guess this host also receives GOP talking points, as he hinted that the party is amassing a war chest for the mid term elections and also intends to heavily target Latinos with a “look at how much our tax cuts are helping you” approach and free and low cost tax prep clinics in Latino neighborhoods.

    You know, “Look, the people who want to deport you and your friends want access to your personal identifying information.”

    What could possibly go wrong?

  43. 43
    Lapassionara says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: My grandfather was born on Islay. I have made it my life’s work to develop a taste for the Islay single malts. They remind me of the tar trucks that used to drive down our streets from time to time when I was young.

  44. 44
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lapassionara: Golly. I just like Scotch.

  45. 45
    Timurid says:

    Tax cuts: Good idea; terribly executed.
    Deregulation: Bad idea.
    More for the military; less for the United Nations: Bad idea.
    The Islamic State crushed in its heartland: Continuation of predecessor’s policy.
    Assad hit with cruise missiles: Empty display.
    Troops to Afghanistan: Continuation of predecessor’s policy.
    Arms for Ukraine: Empty display.
    A tougher approach to North Korea: Bad idea.
    Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital: Bad idea.
    The Iran deal decertified: Bad idea.
    Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned: Do you even redpill, bro?
    Yes to Keystone: Meh.
    No to Paris: TERRIBLE idea.
    Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high: Continuation of predecessor’s policy/success.

  46. 46
    smike says:

    OT, but I ran across this comment on Daily Kos today:

    “mokena Patrick Adams
    Dec 30 · 02:11:06 PM

    Just yesterday, my RWNJ boss was complaining about how long the investigation was taking. I said “I know. What we need to do is haul all of them down to gitmo and waterboard them nonstop. We’ll have this wrapped up in a couple of weeks”. I love it when I can get that dumbfounded look from one of the trumpsters.”

  47. 47
    Lapassionara says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Me too, but I have the right gene for it. Which is another way to say it is not for everyone. It can be a challenge.

  48. 48
    Mike J says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: When I worked in Edinburgh, I’d go into my local each evening after work and ask for “anything I can’t pronounce.”

  49. 49
    MomSense says:

    @Schlemazel:

    Really good. Mostly sort of folk but also some good blues.
    @Omnes Omnibus:
    I started with a Macallan and then switched to a Knob Creek Reserve which is really smooth.
    It’s -4 and nothing warms quite like a single malt.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MomSense: Enjoy and get home safely.

  51. 51
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Timurid: When the crash happens it’ll be Obama’s fault, though.

  52. 52

    @Matt McIrvin: Yup, just like 9/11 was Clinton’s fault.

  53. 53
    kdaug says:

    Suspect the Iranians could always buy a bomb from NK, if they were so inclined. But otherwise, spot on.

  54. 54
    catclub says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    I do not forgive climate change denial any more.

    if I remember correctly, 2017 is likely to be the hottest year on record, in spite of a cold snap in the US northeast. I wish people would bring this up when they talk about the difference between weather and climate.

  55. 55
    kdaug says:

    When constructing your Buckley Idol, remember to use real faux leather, and stitch that mouth extra tight

  56. 56
    Old Dan and Little Anne says:

    Santa brought me Laphroaig for Christmas last year and my wife got mad. This year he brought it for both of us. Speaking of which…

  57. 57
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Everything Stephens lists is a bit ’90ish too. It’s like tax cuts and deregulation, well tax cuts and deregulation to what level?

  58. 58
    The Moar You Know says:

    Well, at least it’s not another goddamn Cletus Safari like what I saw on CNN last night. So tired of that shit.

  59. 59
    Procopius says:

    … the blanket disdain of multi-nation trade negotiations ..

    OK, I certainly agree that this is a bad thing, but I was very glad to see the TPP finally shot and a wooden stake driven through its heart. I do not believe Hillary would have done that, She was too solidly in support until she found that was going to sink her and made a weaselly tactical retreat (I believe it still helped sink her because nobody believed her). As for the rest… well, this is what you get with a Republican president*. Bush appointed John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN, after all, and was not terribly interested in really building a coalition for anything.

  60. 60
    Mike J says:

    The TPP isn’t gone. The US just doesn’t get any benefit from it.

  61. 61
    kattails says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Laphroaig is almost certainly an acquired scent; a glass of it can be detected across a room. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  62. 62
    Procopius says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    This is true of any country that has changes of government.

    Not really. For example, Great Britain has treaties, e.g. with Portugal, that last for centuies. I think the point here is that the U.S. is more willing than most to throw it’s sworn word out the window. Bush did it with Clinton’s Agreed Framework with North Korea, which is the proximate cause of Kim Jong Il reviving their nuclear research program. Of course Clinton was never able to get Congress to approve implementation (for example, providing North Korea with a light water reactor, which could not have been used to produce plutonium). I don’t think real Conservatives would be fool enough to act this way, but of course that’s not who we’re dealing with here.

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mike J:

    The TPP isn’t gone. The US just doesn’t get any benefit from it.

    Yup. TPP was the US’s attempt to step in and cut China out of trade in the Pacific region. When Trump killed it, China stepped into our place. Now the US is going to get screwed on trade in Asian markets for decades to come. But, freedom!

  64. 64
    Aleta says:

    I spent 3 days over Christmas with people whose friends kept arriving with good single malts. Don’t remember the names of the first two, my favorites. The last morning, the bottle on the table was a blend of 3 called Monkey Shoulder. Lighter than the others, a fragrance that could have worked as perfume. I only tried a little on my tongue because I was leaving in the afternoon, not enough to get used to it.

    Holy moly it’s -10 now, with wind making it 2 1/2 times worse. Tomorrow night -18, plus wind. One week from tonight is supposed to be even lower. Hoping the long cold will kill off the southern beetles that’ve begun to attack the sugar maples and the ash trees that are used for bark weaving. And I hope a lot of the ticks who’ve wintered over in warmer years die off.

  65. 65

    @Procopius:

    For example, Great Britain has treaties, e.g. with Portugal, that last for centuies.

    As does the US, the deal with Iran was not a treaty, I believe the term used was “International Agreement”. You’re comparing apples and oranges here.

  66. 66
    trnc says:

    Bret Stephens is verrrrry impressed that the overgrown five year old to which he gave a hammer is able to destroy many things that will cost a lot of money to fix and put lives in danger.

    I’m not.

  67. 67
    Another Scott says:

    @Procopius: There’s that Supremacy Clause thingy, also too:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; […]

    Too often treaties are given very short shrift by US administrations. E.g. the Second Pillar of the NPT.

    But, yeah, OO’s right that incoming administrations often have foreign policies that are at odds with what has come before. Calouste is right that Donnie and his minions are taking it to a new and more dangerous level, though.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  68. 68
    MomSense says:

    @Schlemazel:

    Here is a video of one of the performers.

    juniper and ginger

  69. 69
    B.B.A. says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: @Another Scott: The constitution is silent on how the US can withdraw from a treaty it’s previously ratified. Bush unilaterally revoked our involvement in a Senate-ratified treaty and as far as I can tell that precedent is still valid.

    So, in other words, if Trump decides to seize the UN’s land on 1st Avenue and build another yuuuge classy tower there, nobody could stop him from quitting the UN. The land grab would be the hard part.

  70. 70
    Jim Bales says:

    On Tuesday, US-backed forces announced that Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria, had fallen.

    President Donald Trump quickly took a victory lap during an interview the same day, stating that ISIS hadn’t been defeated earlier because “you didn’t have Trump as your president.”
    Is this claim true? Not really, according to US military officials.
    In August 2016, Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, who was the ground commander for the fight against ISIS, said the US-led coalition had killed an estimated 45,000 ISIS fighters.
    About a year later, at the Aspen Security Forum in July 2017, the commander of the US Special Operations Command, Gen. Raymond “Tony” Thomas, said that an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 ISIS fighters had been killed since the US-led campaign against the terror group began in August 2014.
    Ergo, according to these senior US military officials, the bulk of ISIS fighters were killed during the pre-Trump period.

    Our eldest recently finished their second tour in <a href="http://www.centcom.mil/ABOUT-U.....&quot;.Centcom .

    Tom, like you. we ask…”There’s an end goal of what?

    And the answer is “Pzzzzzy!” is enough.

  71. 71

    @B.B.A.: The deal with Iran is NOT A TREATY, it is an international agreement, it was never ratified by the Senate and so does not have force of law.

    I believe that the treaty the Shrub exited that you’re referring to was the ABM Treaty, that had language in the text of the treaty that allowed the parties to exit the treaty.

  72. 72
    Cacti says:

    @Procopius:

    OK, I certainly agree that this is a bad thing, but I was very glad to see the TPP finally shot and a wooden stake driven through its heart.

    All our withdrawal from the TPP accomplished was to the cede the field to China on trade in the Pacific rim, while signaling to our friends in the region that we’re feckless and unreliable.

    In what way is that a net positive for the United States?

  73. 73
    SgrAstar says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Lagavulin is my favorite of the peaty Scotches. Macallan aged in sherry casks: superb! Edradour is also yummy.

  74. 74
    gene108 says:

    @Another Scott:

    That clause is probably the reason Senate Republicans refuse to ratify any international treaty, no matter how basic. We can’t ratify updates to the Law of the Sea treaty.

    This is why Presidents that want to do international negotiations have to find ways to get agreements that are not officially treaties and do not require the 2/3’s Senate ratification for treaties.

    Republicans view binding treaties as akin to sapping our precious bodily fluids.

  75. 75
    Zinsky says:

    It’s always amazing for me to read the rationalization that human beings can summon up to justify voting for and/or supporting a vile, ignorant monster like Donald Trump. He may have caused millions agony by separating people from their families with his draconian immigration policies or caused thousands to lose their health insurance, but hey! – he cut our taxes by borrowing billions from the Chinese and Saudis – what a guy!!

  76. 76
    bcw says:

    The original S Harris cartoon:
    http://www.sciencecartoonsplus.....allery.php
    is funny and intelligent but you had to give a link to a stolen bastardized version that shallowly attacks evolution and ignores the substantial scientific underpinnings of theories of biological origins of life on earth.
    When writing blog pages supporting rationality it is a good idea to avoid referencing biblical kooks.

  77. 77
    joel hanes says:

    @Aleta:

    Hoping the long cold will kill off [pests]

    I like the way you think.

    Here in deep-freeze Iowa, Mom’s feeding almost two pounds a day of high-calorie bird foods.
    Yesterday was so cold the birds didn’t show up at sunrise as usual, and most of them first appeared almost two hours later.

  78. 78
    joel hanes says:

    In what way is that [shunning the TPP a] net positive for the United States?

    I am not an economist.
    It’s folk-wisdom that other trade treaties have “benefitted the US overall” by fantastically enriching those already on the topmost levels of the economic pyramid, while providing very little net benefit to the 80% of people who work for a living. On one hand: cheap consumer goods. On the other hand: thirty years of wage stagnation or decline, and the ascendence of the FIRE sector.

    So I don’t think it’s a straightforward proposition.

  79. 79
    Marcia says:

    Not an “honest conservative broker” but he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night!

  80. 80
    Marcia says:

    @Yarrow: Oh, please. Next thing you’ll be claiming there’s no such thing as a Jackalope.

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