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Evolution of the Trump Administration: An Op Ed

Donald Trump seems to be missing some sort of a regulator that prevents him from simply saying what temporarily happens to be on his mind. That made it inevitable that he would treat his audience to a regular stream of faux pas. However, I think both the degree and severity of the mess may be diminished going forward.

The reason has to do with how the Trump administration came into being. Simply put, unlike most candidates, he actually beat both major political parties in the US, not just the Democrats. He took the Republican nomination by beating the presumptive heir – Jeb Bush. Then he beat the back-ups who were viewed as acceptable to most establishment Republicans: Rubio and Cruz.

Now, when a new President takes office, he can usually stock his administration from think tanks and members of the political intelligentsia. Trump couldn’t. As the Republican nominee, he was never going to use left-leaning people. But he wasn’t about to bring in people from the Bush/Rubio/Cruz camps, nor were many of them willing to serve under him either. That pretty much ruled out the vast majority people with any experience in how Washington works.

So who was left? Well, there were disaffected members of the Republican establishment (those who had pissed off the neocons during the last Republican administration), some elements in the military, and people on the right who had been criticizing the Republican party for a long time. The latter group tend to be the most numerous. They also live on the fringes. And like most people on the fringes, they have no idea how the world works. Many are bombastic, like Trump himself.

So that was the well from which Trump could draw. A clown show was inevitable. And since many of the clowns were actually advising Trump himself, it was also predictable that Trump would be repeating some of their nonsense, sprinkled in with some that was homegrown.

But it seems that Trump can learn, after all. He may brag that he is the bestest Presidentiest President ever, but under it all, people he trusts remind him that he isn’t actually getting anything done. Somewhere along the way, it occurred to him to get rid of Priebus and replace him with Kelly. What Kelly himself believes – politically – isn’t entirely clear, but he is a four star general, and it seems clear he understands how organizations work. He quickly unloaded a couple of the more clown-ish actors, the Mooch and Steve Bannon, and perhaps his own predecessor.

Assuming Trump and Kelly remain in place, this should lead to something resembling professionalism in some of the corners of the administration that haven’t had such a thing in a while. That professionalism should even manifest itself in advice given to the President, reducing the amount of crazy-talk taking up valuable shelf-space in his head. That in turn might cut down on some of the more soap opera-ish activity coming from both Trump and the rest of the administration.

Is that a good thing? Well, there’s a yes and a no to that question. The yes piece is obvious, so I won’t elaborate. But as to the no… year to date, Trump was busy proposing ideas that had no support from anyone except the fringes and peddling them in ways that couldn’t possibly gain traction. As a result, those ideas went nowhere. But what happens if he starts running with garden-variety Republican tropes? Those tropes can gain the support they need to be enacted. They also didn’t generate positive outcomes the last few times we’ve seen them applied. Nor is there any real reason to expect that things will be turn out differently the next time the are tried.

I have to say, I was naive. I didn’t even think that Caligula might have an effective chief of staff.

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Slavery, “Heritage” and Southern Fried “Free Speech”

Who knew that neo-Nazi, KKK white supremacists and Trump supporters were liars, cry-babies AND hypocrites?

The reasons for secession by the states of the Confederacy were not complex or ambiguous. They are not a mystery. They were proudly proclaimed by the Confederate states. The cornerstone of the Confederacy was slavery and the conviction of the racial superiority of the White man and the social, moral and political inferiority of Africans. This was stated unambiguously in the cornerstone speech by Confederacy Vice President Alexander Stephens:

The ideas entertained at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were that the enslavement of the African race was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. Our new government is founded on exactly opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and moral condition. This our Government is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. It is upon this our social fabric is firmly planted, and I cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of the full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world…. This stone which was rejected by the first builders ‘is become the chief stone of the corner’ in our new edifice.

The idea that slavery wasn’t the reason for the secession was an afterthought that was solidified into unquestionable dogma a half century after the end of the Civil War. Yes, we have documents in the career of Mildred Lewis Rutherford and the successful campaign to rewrite the history of the Civil War, as taught in the South. “Reject a book that says the South fought to hold her slaves.”

This should also put to rest any notion that “defenders of Southern heritage” are champions of “free speech.” The are liars, cry-babies, hypocrites and TOTALITARIANS bent on imposing their self-serving distortions of history on everyone else.

Miss Mildred L. Rutherford

At their 1919 reunion the United Confederate Veterans “resolved to inaugurate a movement to disseminate the truths of Confederate history.” To carry out this aim, they comissioned Miss Rutherford, Historian for the United Daughters of the Confederacy to prepare “A Measuring Rod to Test Text Books and Reference Books in Schools, Colleges and Libraries” to be used by textbook committees of boards of education, private schools and libraries to ensure “absolute fairness” “truth in history” and “full justice to the South.”

These crackers were not just whistling Dixie. If you know anything about the textbook industry, whatever Texas wants, y’all get. “The Lost Cause triumphed in the curriculum,” quipped historian James McPherson, “if not on the battlefield.” Here are some excerpts from the pamphlet’s front matter:


” ‘A Measuring Rod For Text-Books,’ prepared by Miss Mildred L. Rutherford, by which every text-book on history and literature in Southern schools should be tested by those desiring the truth, was submitted to the Committee. This outline was read and carefully considered. 

“The Committee charged, as it is, with the dissemination of the truths of Confederate history, earnestly and fully and officially, approve all that is herein so truthfully written as to that eventful period. 

“The Committee respectfully urges all authorities charged with the selection of text-books for colleges, schools and all scholastic institutions to measure all books offered for adoption by this “Measuring Rod” and adopt none which do not accord full justice to the South. And all library authorities in the Southern States are requested to mark all books in their collections which do not come up to the same measure, on the title page thereof, “Unjust to the South.” 

“This Committee further asks all scholastic and library authorities, in all parts of the country, in justice and fairness to their fellow citizens of the South, to yield to the above request. 

“C. IRVINE WALKER, Chairman.”


I. The Constitution of the United States, 1787, Was a Compact between Sovereign States and Was not Perpetual nor National 6 

II. Secession Was not Rebellion 7 

III. The North Was Responsible for the War between the States 8 

IV. The War between the States Was not Fought to Hold the Slaves 9 

V. The Slaves Were Not Ill-Treated in the South and the North Was largely Responsible for their Presence in the South 10 

VI. Coercion Was not Constitutional 11 

VII. The Federal Government Was Responsible for the Andersonville Horrors 12 

VIII. The Republican Party that Elected Abraham Lincoln Was not Friendly to the South 13 

IX. The South Desired Peace and Made every Effort to Obtain it 14, 15, 16 

X. The Policy of the Northern Army Was to Destroy Property—the Southern Army to Protect it 18-21 

XI. The South Has never Had its Rightful Place in Literature 22-23


Do not reject a text-book because it does not contain all that the South claims—a text-book cannot be a complete encyclopedia. 

Do not reject a text book because it omits to mention your father, your grandfather, your personal friend, socially or politically— it would take volumes to contain all of the South ‘s great men and their deeds. 

Do not reject a text-book because it may disagree with your estimate of the South ‘s great men, and the leaders of the South ‘s Army and Navy—the world can never agree with any one person’s estimate in all things. 

But—reject a book that speaks of the Constitution other than a Compact between Sovereign States. 

Reject a text-book that does not give the principles for which the South fought in 1861, and does not clearly outline the interferences with the rights guaranteed to the South by the Constitution, and which caused secession. 

Reject a book that calls the Confederate soldier a traitor or rebel, and the war a rebellion. 

Reject a book that says the South fought to hold her slaves. 

Reject a book that speaks of the slaveholder of the South as cruel and unjust to his slaves. 

Reject a text-book that glorifies Abraham Lincoln and villifies Jefferson Davis, unless a truthful cause can be found for such glorification and villification before 1865. 

Reject a text-book that omits to tell of the South ‘s heroes and their deeds when the North’s heroes and their deeds are made prominent. 

Refuse to adopt any text-book, or endorse any set of books, upon the promise of changes being made to omit the objectionable features. 

A list of books, condemned or commended by the Veterans, Sons of Veterans, and U. D. C, is being prepared by Miss Rutherford as a guide for Text-Book Committees and Librarians. This list of course contains only the names of those books which have been submitted for examination. Others will be added and published monthly in “The Confederate Veteran” Nashville, Tennessee. 


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Symbols of Oppression Being Ignored

The Confederacy stood for the forcible subjugation of other people. If there is a benefit to honoring the concept of or symbols for the Confederacy I don’t see it. Taking these symbols out of the public sphere is a net positive, even if some people are able to simultaneously a) disassociate those symbols from the oppression they represent and b) venerate those symbols.

To be consistent, note that the radical Islamic ideology also calls for the forcible subjugation of other people. Furthermore, it seems clear that in the last few decades a heck of a lot more people have been killed or enslaved by those following a radical Islamist ideology than a Confederate (or similar fellow traveler) ideology.

So… are there symbols that matter to the radical Islamists that should get the Confederate statue treatment?

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Industrial production: once again, the hard data fails to confirm the sof … ofertheluvofgaud

by New Deal Democrat
Industrial production: once again, the hard data fails to confirm the sof … ofertheluvofgaud

This morning’s report on industrial production confirms that the economy remains on autopilot, and that’s a good thing.

Overall production increased again, and the trend of rising production since spring of last year is clear:

When we break it down by manufacturing (blue, left scale), mining, and utilities (red and green, right scale), we get pretty much the same picture:

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Two Monuments

The Colfax Massacre occurred during Reconstruction when Republicans, many of whom were black, won the election. The White League and kukluxklan joined forces to take back the Parish Court House. 300 armed white militia faced black and white defenders of the court house. When James Hadnot was shot by his own men, the attackers started to shoot the black defenders who had surrendered. 48 were killed that day and the white militia turned its anger on the black residents.

Villifying Black Republicans. Colfax Riot, 48 Black Americans massacred after surrendering and another 100 residents killed by the white mob.

Sign erected by the Colfax Chamber of Commerce in 1951 commemorating the Colfax Riot. The exact count of Black Americans shot to death after surrendering is uncertain. It ranges anywhere from 80 to 300. Three White Americans die.

Heroes Fighting for White Supremacy

Honoring White Supremacists. The greatest travesty was the SCOTUS decision by the Waite court.

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Why Is The Fed Raising Interest Rates As Fast As It Is?

Why Is The Fed Raising Interest Rates As Fast As It Is?

I have a theory that at least some people at the Fed are supporting interest rate increases not because they are worried about incipient inflation that must be nipped in the bud in advance under a regime of inflation targeting, but because they are looking over the horizon and worrying about a possible recession in the not-too-distant future, and they want to be able to have interest rates high enough that they can then engage in lowering them as a stimulative policy tool under the circumstances.  If they are too low, then extraordinary measures will need to be used, and some of those measures may not be available in the future.

This theory is based on nothing solid at all, nothing.  I think that those who may be thinking this (and my likely candidate(s) would be people at the very top) are constrained in speaking openly due both to the current institutional arrangement of consensus decisionmaking within an established inflation targeting system with a 2% inflation target, not to mention pressure not to talk about possible future dangers.  The current line is that the economy is doing well, and certainly it is on the standard measures of unemployment and inflation, even if the former could be better and wages could be rising more rapidly.  Indeed, it is this good performance that is supposedly underlying the moves to raise interest rates and possibly “normalize” the balance sheet (which I doubt there will be too much action on).  But my theory is that for some of them it is a matter of trying to “normalize” on interest rates as well while the possibility of normalizing is possible, while the economy is doing fairly well and one can raise them without obviously slowing things down noticeably, so that indeed there will be the ability to lower them again in the future when necessary.

He did not put this theory forward, but it was reading the recent column by Larry Summers that appeared in the Washington Post on Monday was been linked to by Mark Thoma today (unable to make that link, sorry) and also can be gotten to at  He is focused on the upcoming ending of the term of his rival as Chair of the Fed, Janet Yellen, and is worried about who Trump will pick and what will happen.  While stating that he would have “preferred a slower pace of interest rate adjustment,” he bottom lines that “Overall it has done well in recent years” (even though he did not get picked to be Chair).

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On the erection of Confederate memorials: in which I have to get this off my chest

(Update…Dan here…I erroneously posted this post under Barkley”s name but it is NDd.)
On the erection of Confederate memorials: in which I have to get this off my chest

Below is a photograph of the World War Two Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Keep it in the back of your mind. I’ll return to it.

I am a data nerd, and leaping to conclusions about data is a pet peeve of mine. I really hate it when anyone, and particularly my own side, falls for groupthink, jumping to instant conclusions which then become the only acceptable opinion. In the last 48 hours, without consideration of other possibilities, or looking for contrary vs. corroborating data, it seems that just about everyone on the center and left has become an instant expert on the fact that Confederate statues were erected because of Jim Crow.

In support of that, a number of graphics, such as this one, have been used:

So, has it occurred to nobody that there might be a more straightforward reason why there would be a huge spike in Memorials (cough, cough, hint, hint) ***50*** and ***100*** years after the Civil War?

Yes there were a number of racial incidents that occurred in the 1910s.  But before the last 48 hours, the general consensus was that there was a resurgence in violence associated with white supremacy in the 1920s, not the 1910s.

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