Links – 01/31/2017

  • David Byler published a very good piece in which he comes back on the theory that, as a result of demographic change, American politics was headed to a permanent Democratic majority. It was made popular by John Judis and Run Texeira’s book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, which as Byler notes many pundits read. As my friends on Facebook could tell you, I have always found that theory ridiculous, for reasons I will explain when I post my analysis of the election. It’s worth noting, by the way, that Judis had changed his mind even before 2016.
  • On Saturday, Trump’s administration seemed to have backed away from its proposal to create safe zones in Syria, but he apparently brought that up again during a conversation with the Kind of Saudi Arabia. This would be much worse than his executive order about immigration, so let’s hope that he changes his mind again. I think Trump’s general view of what the US foreign policy is a huge improvement over the consensus among Washington’s foreign policy establishment, but the problem is that, since he doesn’t know anything about international politics, he often makes specific proposals that contradict his basic view, only he doesn’t realize it. Hopefully Putin will explain to him why safe zones in Syria are not a good idea when they talk again. That being said, his conversation with Salman also suggests that he won’t scrap the Iran deal, which I guess is something although I think it was always unlikely to happen anyway.
  • A pretty good piece on the ineffectiveness of fiscal stimuli, focusing heavily on Japan, which makes sense given that, since the 1990’s, it has been used to experiment most of the economic policies that have been fashionable among Keynesians in recent years.
  • Jonathan Marshall published a good article on the so-called moderate rebels that Washington has been supporting for years in Syria. Whenever Trump does something stupid, it’s good to remember that, had Clinton won, this disastrous policy would not only have continued but probably have been accelerated considerably.
  • Daniel Thornton wrote a very good piece in which he criticizes Alan Blinder’s suggestion that, based on the historical record, we can infer that Democrats are better for the economy than Republicans. He is probably right that we tend to overestimate the effect that a President has on the economy during his term, but as he also notes, this doesn’t mean that a President’s policies can’t have significant effects in the long-run.