Rick Perry Mangles Basic Economics

Last week, Department of Energy boss Rick Perry stuck his foot in his mouth when he said to a group of coal workers, “Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand. You put the supply out there and the demand will follow.” On its face, the statement seems to imply that supply creates its own demand. This is obviously not true. CNN and other cable news networks wasted no time pointing this out.

These errors are nothing new for Perry, who has a history of this kind of verbal faux pas. He sank his presidential campaign in 2012, when, during a primary debate, he famously forgot the names of the three federal departments he would eliminate. (The correct answer is all of them.)

What Perry got wrong is called Say’s Law, or the Law of Markets. J.B. Say was a French economist in the late 18th century who noted not that supply creates its own demand, but that production always precedes consumption.

Say wrote in his A Treatise on Political Economy wrote,

“A product is no sooner created, than it, from that instant, affords a market for other products to the full extent of its own value…As each of us can only purchase the productions of others with his own productions – as the value we can buy is equal to the value we can produce, the more men can produce, the more they will purchase”

 

Because of  the division of labor, you work, producing goods or services for your employer. Your labor is compensated with money, which you use to buy things that other people produce. The more money you make, the more you tend to purchase.  These are not controversial economic statements.

At the macro level, the Law of Markets says that aggregate supply will drive aggregate demand to a relatively equal level. This means that there can never be a general glut in the economy over the long term. When the market is allowed to operate freely, businesses that fail are liquidated into the capital the fuels new businesses ventures, some of which succeed. This is how economies grow.

Instantly, you can see why government doesn’t like the Law of Markets. If a free market produces a growing economy, it is much more difficult for them to steal the money to intervene in the economy  i.e. socialize the costs of failing pet interests, bail out industries en masse, and wage aggressive wars around the world.

John Maynard Keynes was the one who coined the phrase “supply creates its own demand” as a way to discredit the Law of Markets. Keynesian economics advocates for widespread government intervention into the economy. He thought government could end the business cycle by stimulating demand when necessary and contracting when necessary, providing a smooth, growing national economy. Given that we are still feeling the effects of the government driven economic meltdown of 2008, that is clearly a laughable proposition.

Secretary Perry’s mangling of the Law of Markets shows that he doesn’t understand the underlying economic principles. Not surprising, given the GOP’s dismal track record on economics.

Meltdown at CNN

There are few relationships in our modern American political culture that are as antagonistic as the relationship between President Trump and the cable news network, CNN. As I’ve written here before, that is not a new phenomenon. A century before the Washington Post toppled President Nixon over the Watergate scandal, Abraham Lincoln and his Republican Congress was suspending Habeas Corpus, shutting down hundreds of dissenting northern newspapers and throwing thousands of northern journalists in jail for criticizing his administration’s handling of the War Between the States. Suffice it to say that the president and his administrations have always had a conflicted relationship with the press.

What is new is the obvious desperation of those at CNN to be the organization that takes down President Trump. To be fair, this doesn’t just describe CNN; all cable news channels are openly critical of Trump, including Fox News. This is also not a one-sided affair. Trump has been more than happy to return fire. He repeatedly claims that CNN peddles “fake news” and has even refused questions from CNN reporters at press briefings. The difference is that CNN has taken Trump Derangement Syndrome to a new level. A Washington Examiner report from May showed that 92% of all CNN news coverage focused on President Trump, with 94% of the coverage negative.

Cut to last week. On Twitter, Trump re-tweeted a gif of himself when he was a guest on WWE Raw in 2007. In it, he clotheslined WWE boss Vince McMahon, who had the CNN logo superimposed onto his head. The gif, originally posted by a Reddit user named HanAssholeSolo, would cause most people to just roll their eyes or chuckle and move on, but not CNN. In their judgement, they regarded the video as a threat to both their journalists and their First Amendment free speech protections.

So CNN tracked down the troll who originally posted the gif on Reddit and bullied him into a retraction and apology by threatening to release his personal information. Then they bragged about it in an article.

Per CNN:

CNN is not publishing “HanA**holeSolo’s” name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same.

CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.

The move has received backlash from across the political spectrum and all of it has been well deserved. CNN has once again overplayed their hand and the result is thousands of new memes and gifs, posted and re-posted tens of millions of times, all of which are critical of CNN.

It’s the same type of mistake Republicans made in the 90’s with Bill Clinton. They beat the dead horse of his legitimate and repeated legal issues to the point of receiving backlash. After seven years of constant Republican attacks culminating in two impeachment charges, Clinton’s approval rating went up 10 percentage points to 71%.

Trump’s approval rating may never see 50%, let alone 71%, but day in, day out attacks with little or no evidence, are already starting to take its toll on CNN’s credibility. Bullying teenage internet trolls certainly won’t help that.

 

Comey Testifies on Trump, Clinton, and Russia

Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate yesterday to speak on Trump, Clinton, email servers, Russia, and the leaked “Comey Memo”. For the left, the highly anticipated testimony was supposed to produce the smoking gun against Trump and his administration’s collusion with the Russians. Instead, what we got was three hours with very little new information.

It seems that Comey’s testimony has succeeded in confirming everyone’s biases. If you are apt to believe that Trump is lying and colluding with the Russians, then him saying he hoped Comey could “see clear to letting [Flynn’s investigation] go” sounds like a threat approaching obstruction of justice. If you believe that Trump isn’t working with the Russians and just wants to story to stop negatively effecting own executive agenda, then his words seem like a good faith effort to put the issue to rest. That’s why today you see Trump supporters claiming vindication and the anti-Trump crowd calling for impeachment.

So what did we actually find out during Comey’s three hour long testimony?

1. Comey himself leaked the now infamous “Comey Memo”

Per the Hill:

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” 

Apparently, Comey decided to leak the memo after Trump tweeted that “there better be no tapes of our [Trump and Comey’s] meeting before he [Comey] starts leaking to the press” as a way to get ahead of the story. Ironically, he didn’t want to do the leaking himself, though, because of the media feeding frenzy. How dense can this guy be? It doesn’t matter who physically leaked the information, this is Donald Trump, the media feeding frenzy was coming no matter what.

2. Loretta Lynch told Comey to call Hillary Clinton’s email server investigation a “matter”, not an investigation.

Per the Washington Times:

“At one point, [Ms. Lynch] directed me not to call it an ‘investigation’ but instead to call it a ‘matter,’ which confused me and concerned me,” Mr. Comey said of Ms. Lynch. “That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we are to close this case credibly.”

Mr. Comey said the language suggested by Ms. Lynch was troublesome because it closely mirrored what the Clinton campaign was using.

Acknowledging that he didn’t know whether it was intentional, Mr. Comey said Ms. Lynch’s request “gave the impression the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our investigation with the way a political campaign was describing the same activity.”

Though certainly a new piece of information, this only confirms what we already know: both parties in Washington are more than willing to participate in the game of using the FBI as a tool of political influence.

Whether President Trump was attempting to obstruct justice during his meetings with Comey or not is a matter for the special prosecutor to decide. As it stands, even Comey confirmed that he didn’t believe Trump’s behavior was obstruction of justice. He also told the Senate that Trump is not personally under any investigation and that there is no credible evidence that suggests Trump and the Russians colluded on anything, even taking time during his testimony to smack down a New York Times article claiming repeated meetings between Trump’s campaign and Russian government.

Ending Government Control of Air Traffic Control is Long Overdue

On Monday, President Trump announced plans to privatize the out of date government controlled air traffic control system.  The intent of the plan is to spinoff the air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration within three years and convert it to a non-profit company. The FAA currently spends more than $10 billion per year on air traffic control, which largely still uses radio and radar technology from the 1960’s.

Ending government control of anything is good, but it’s even more so when it comes to transportation barriers. While tax payers immediately save the $10 billion, the real savings will come to travelers in reduced costs and fees. The reason for this is because the market will always innovate because they have an incentive to; the government, on the other hand, has no incentive to innovate. This leads to inherent systemic inefficiencies and cost overruns. It is the nature of the state to always lag behind the market. That’s why the parasitic state has to use laws and regulations to influence and strangle the market into submission.

The downside here is that this reform, being written by the state, will allow the influence of the cronies dominate leading to a cartelization, not a genuine free market solution. Once that non-profit fails to produce, it gives the critics of capitalism ammunition. The fact that the “solution” was a mile away from free market capitalism doesn’t seem to matter. This process isn’t uncommon. Republicans have been doing damage to the free market like this for years.

President Trump’s plan is not a done deal yet as many Democrats and some Republicans oppose the plan, which has to get through Congress.

Overall, it is always best to phase out the state in any way possible. Hopefully this leads to a trend in eliminating state control over more and more areas of transportation. Next up should be the TSA.

Special Counsel Appointed to Investigate Trump-Russia Ties

Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller has been appointed as special counsel to oversee the ongoing investigation into alleged ties between the Russian government and the Trump administration. The announcement came from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein just days after the termination of FBI director James Comey and the subsequent news of the “Comey Memo”, notes taken by Comey in February that allege President Trump asked him to end the federal investigation into national security advisor Michael T. Flynn.

Mueller’s appointment as special prosecutor seeks to alleviate some of the concern from Democrats and Republicans alike over the agency’s ability to carry out the investigation properly and impartially.

Per the New York Times:

“Mr. Mueller’s appointment was hailed by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who view him as one of the most credible law enforcement officials in the country.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Mueller’s “record, character, and trustworthiness have been lauded for decades by Republicans and Democrats alike.”

Specifically, Mueller is tasked with overseeing the investigation into:

  1. Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
  2. Any matters that arose or may directly arise from the investigation; and
  3. Any other matters within the scope of the special counsel. These include any federal crimes pertaining to the investigation, such as: obstruction of justice, perjury, witness tampering, etc.

It needs to be said that so far there is no evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. To this point, only a lot of conjecture, circumstantial evidence, and accusations have been leveled.

The “Comey Memo”, if its allegations are true (and if it even exists), provides evidence that President Trump at least attempted to interfere with a federal investigation into one of his close advisors. It can certainly be argued that is an impeachable offense. The question will be whether Trump telling Comey, “I hope you can let this go”, constitutes asking the FBI director to end the investigation. I’m no lawyer, but personally, that sounds like a hard sell; saying you hope an investigation ends is not the same thing the same as telling him to end the investigation.

It is also interesting to note that the memo is supposedly from February, three months before Comey was terminated. If the FBI director had evidence that the President attempted to interfere with an ongoing federal investigation and didn’t report it in a timely manner, then the FBI director would also have committed a crime.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested Comey appear at both open and closed sessions, as well as to provide any memos he has related to the investigation by May 24.

Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

In a surprising move, President Trump fired FBI director James Comey on Tuesday. This marks just the second time in history that a president has fired the FBI’s chief, the other time was in 1993 when then President Clinton terminated William Sessions over alleged ethics violations.  Trump’s decision has unleashed a firestorm of political criticism. The biggest of which is the issue of timing. The FBI director, who was appointed in 2013 by then president Obama, had been leading an investigation of close Trump advisors and associates and their dealings with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.

That Comey had been involved in the investigation led many Democrats, and even some Republicans, namely Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), to consider having a special independent counsel take over the investigation into Trump-Russian collusion. For the record, though political opponents of the president have been tossing around innuendos, circumstantial evidence, and accusations for months, there remains zero hard evidence of any collusion between Trump, his campaign, and the Russian government.

President Trump has explained that the termination came from Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as well as Department of Justice recommendations. Nevertheless, many in pundits and politicians in the beltway have accused President Trump of firing Comey simply to cover his tracks. Some of the more unhinged and hyperbolic pundits have even called for Trump’s impeachment over Comey’s termination.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as this plays out over the next few months.

Trump has full constitutional authority to terminate the FBI director for virtually any reason he wants

Let’s put aside the very reasonable question of the constitutionality of the FBI’s mere existence. It is certainly true that in a libertarian anarchist society there would be no federal government and thus no federal law enforcement, but private defense and intelligence agencies would no doubt exist. The fact is that the FBI is an executive branch department under the exclusive control and authority of the president. The firing of an FBI director is not a ‘constitutional crisis’. It’s a personnel decision. If congress wants to investigate the factors behind the decision to see if any wrongdoing occurred, they are free to, as is their role, but the firing in and of itself is not unconstitutional.

The FBI has always been political

The idea that the FBI was an apolitical, independent law enforcement group until Trump came along is ridiculous any way you look at it. The FBI has a long history of secrecy, lies, and corruption that date all the way back to its inception. From illegal wiretapping and running child porn and terrorist deep web sites to assassination, the FBI acts much more like a terrorist organization than just about any of the groups it investigates. It would be better for all Americans (and the world) if they FBI was abolished altogether.

The Left’s hypocrisy on Comey and his termination is staggering

You don’t have to look very far back in time to find a time when many Democrats wanted Comey’s head on a silver platter. After James Comey stated in early October during a press conference that his office would not seek an indictment for Hillary Clinton’s undocumented use of a private email server while she was serving as Secretary of State, Democrats everywhere cheered.

Then came October 28. It was on that date Comey announced that the Clinton investigation was being reopened due to new leads. The FBI had apparently incidentally uncovered thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails on the personal computer of Anthony Wiener as part of the investigation into his underage sexting. Wiener, a former New York congressman, was the current husband of close Clinton advisor Huma Abedin. Democrats everywhere used this opportunity to call for Comey’s termination due to the highly unprofessional timing and handling of the announcement. Many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton herself, said that Comey’s “October Surprise” cost her the election. What a difference a few months makes as Democrats are now lining up to praise Comey and condemn Trump for his termination.

It is too early to say what exactly the political fallout over Comey’s termination will be for Trump, or if congress will decide to pursue a special investigation, but one thing is sure: for politicians and beltway pundits, hyperbole and hypocrisy are always in style.

Collapse of the Anti-war Left: Dems turn on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

What do you call a U.S. Representative that’s skeptical of American military interventions, traveled to Syria to speak directly with the Assad administration about their civil war, and has the audacity to ask for some proof of Assad’s alleged gas attack before launching bombs at Damascus? Well, if you’re Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), you get called a Trump apologist that should be ousted from Congress.

This is just the latest in a line of events signalling the total collapse of the antiwar left that started under President Obama’s murderous reign and is finding its hastening under a now warmongering President Trump.

Per The Hill:

Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Neera Tanden, head of the Center for American Progress, both took to Twitter to bash Gabbard for what they see as a shameful defense of Bashar Assad, the Syrian president long accused of brutal attacks on his own people in the country’s ongoing civil war.

Dean said in tweets that Gabbard “sounds like Trump making excuses” and that she “shouldn’t be in Congress.” Tanden, on the other hand, called on the people of Hawaii’s 2nd District to oust Gabbard for “meeting with a murderous dictator.”

There was a time, not long ago, when one could rely on the left to be antiwar. After all it was the left, with libertarians, that put up any opposition to the Bush administration’s lies in the run up to the Iraq war in 2003 and it was only the left and libertarians that held the administration accountable during the war.

That all changed once Obama took control of the war machine.

Even though Obama campaigned as an antiwar candidate and was bolstered by a Nobel Peace Prize in his first year in office, he left the oval office with the dubious distinction of having been the only U.S. President to be at war for every single day of his two terms. Obama escalated the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in his first term; and proceeded to indiscriminately bomb Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria in his second term.

At no point during Obama’s two terms was there any meaningful antiwar opposition from the left. In fact, the left all but abandoned the antiwar movement under Obama. Even when Obama sought congressional approval to enter Syria in 2013, it wasn’t Democrats that stopped him, it was the Republican led House of Representatives.

Under a President Trump, I fully anticipated the antiwar left to return with a vengeance. Needless to say, it hasn’t. Never underestimate the crushing hegemony of the establishment, I guess. In fact, the strongest antiwar sentiments are currently coming from the right-wing, particularly from Trump’s own supporters. Stefan Molyneaux, Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, and even white nationalist Richard Spenser all oppose intervening in Syria.

It’s unlikely that Rep. Gabbard will receive a serious primary challenge in 2018, as she was reelected in November with over 80% of the vote. It does, though, look like she’s learning the lesson of Ron Paul: when you oppose the establishment’s rush to war, you can become very unpopular.