Posted by on December 1, 2016

Maybe I am becoming jaded, but nothing that I have read, seen or heard recently has filled me with sufficient horror to prompt a full blog.  But here are short comments on some minor outrages against common sense and decency.  (For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I apologize in advance for any redundancies)

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

It appears that the policy vacuum that is Donald Trump is being filled, at least in part, by the House Republicans’ “A Better Way” platform.

Like the proverbial dog chasing a car – “What will he do if he ever catches it?” – Trump has now realized that he must make policy proposals more tangible than his campaign promises to do “something great.”  Judging by some of his proposed cabinet appointments, notably his naming of Congressman Tom Price as the Secretary of Health and Human Services with a mandate to replace Obamacare, it appears that in many cases this may be a copy-paste of the policy agenda that Paul Ryan and his colleagues in the House having been rolling out since June.  Of course, this will not happen in areas where Trump has staked out a strong and consistent position – on trade and immigration, for instance – but since these are vanishingly small, there is still plenty of room for co-opting.

There are worse things that could happen, particularly because I think that John Cochrane, one of my favorite free-market economists, was instrumental in crafting “A Better Way.”  With few exceptions, Trump has always been a tabula rasa.  We might get lucky and some sane people may be grabbing the chalk.


Trump has frequently expressed his admiration for Vladimir Putin.  So, it was hardly surprising that he has taken a page from Putin’s playbook in his negotiation with Carrier Corporation, the air conditioning manufacturer that had threated to move production from Wisconsin to Mexico.  Take a look at this short video of Trump’s hero in action.  Given that the parent company of Carrier is United Technologies, a major defence contractor with billions in government contracts, I imagine that a similar farce was played out with Trump.[1]

But even this might be good news.  Although this is a gross violation of the rule of law, maybe a few cases like this will allow Trump to declare victory on trade and avoid some of his more destructive promises in this area.  At least this is the silver lining that Tyler Cowen was able to identify in a recent BloombergView article.


Fidel Castro’s death was met with the usual flood of leftist idiocy, led by Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, whose inane comments have been justifiably mocked at #Trudeaueulogies.  Justin is clearly staking out his claim to the title of “Global Charismatic Empty Suit” that President Obama will shortly be vacating.

Trump is at his best when he is fighting PC stupidity.  He did not disappoint here, rejoicing in the death of a “brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.” On the policy front, however, he remains misguided.

Trump is threatening to rescind Obama’s opening to Cuba, claiming that he wants to hold out for a “better deal” involving greater personal, political and economic liberty for the Cuban people.  I, too, would like to see a freer Cuba, but giving the regime a yanqui piñata hasn’t worked for nearly 60 years.  Instead, Trump should follow the advice of Lech Walesa, the Polish labor leader who was instrumental in overthrowing communism in his own country: “I have no idea why you guys have a museum of socialism 90 miles from your shore and you won’t let anybody visit it.”

In fact, sending Bernie Sanders supporters to Cuba would be a much better use of taxpayer money than free college tuition.  Unlike further exposure to a leftist echo chamber, they might actually learn something from a junket to Cuba.  Also, it won’t take them the six years that they typically require to get their major in gender studies, with a minor in badminton.

And for a particularly disgusting example of how the left is using public education to brainwash the youth of America, we have these comments from a “lesson plan” (sic) issued by the United Educators (sic) of San Francisco, the teachers’ union in that benighted city, shortly after Trump’s election:

Tomorrow, I hope that you will take the time to put all lessons aside and talk to our students about what has happened and how they feel. Please, let them speak and be heard. Let them say what is on their minds, this is crucial for our school and our community. Let us please not sidestep the fact that a racist and sexist man has become the president of our country by pandering to a huge racist and sexist base.

Behavior like this is surely one of the strongest arguments for replacing public schools with charters and vouchers.

Flag Burning

Trump’s recent tweet about flag burning – “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag, if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” – ignited a Twitterstorm.

My favorite comments linked to this amazing Penn&Teller video, showing the libertarian magicians burning a flag in the White House in an episode of West Wing.  Penn probably delivers his greatest line of all time.  After schooling a White House functionary on personal liberty, the awed apparatchik asks: “Did you go to law school?”  Penn responds: “No, clown school.”[2]

Cowboy Hero

As is often my plight, I was having an argument with a European about the virtues of America the other day.  I was taking the “for” side of the debate.  And then this video of a cowboy lassoing a bicycle thief in a Walmart parking lot came along.  I declared myself the winner.

 Roger Barris

Weybridge, United Kingdom


I Wish That I Had Said That…

Fan to Bob Dylan: “You don’t know me but I know you.” Bob Dylan to the fan: “Let’s keep it that way.”

“You see, the problem is Mencken was right about the masses and Hayek was right about the elites, so we’re screwed” from a tweet


[1] Lest you think that this is a manifestation of right-wing authoritarianism, Bernie Sanders suggested the same strong-arming.

[2] Followers of Penn will know that this is literally true: he is a graduate of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.

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Trudeaulogies or not: the Canadian model (and pretty much every other western model) has finally been able to put the american model to deep, deep shame, as the world has now been able to confirm, at length, from recent events. Philosophy is a very long game, it requires patience, but it always pays off in the end: the last stage of democracy has always been announced to happen in what continental european philosophical genius predicted for this anglo-saxon world of shopkeepers: in the end the primus inter pares would end up being an exact plebeian copy of the electorate, a… Read more »