Was Comey Building a Bogus Obstruction of Justice Case to Setup a Run for President?

Our motto is seeking a regression with minimal errors.

We pursue the error term in regression analysis because the model with minimal error terms – the mathematical representation of how close or far a model’s expected results deviate from actual results – is the model with the greatest explanatory power.

Have you lost faith in statistical models after the failure of climate modeling?

We assure you modeling is a productive field.  Unfortunately, like all fields, the reputation of statistics is vulnerable to the actions of disreputable practitioners.

Climate simulations certainly have not followed best practices:  If a simulation’s predictions constantly miss actual results, as climate models have for decades, the model is supposed to be discarded no matter how many trillions the “non-profit” Green Industry siphons to itself in grants, corrupt “carbon” trading arrangements, anti-carbon hysteria, and so forth.

Climate scientists do not care at all about good science, explanatory power or love the humble – very wrongly maligned – carbon atom.

But we do.

If Progressives can’t be trusted to build a model with quality explanatory power, the task falls to us.  Not just in climatology, but every topic we put under our the microscope.

And do we ever need some explanatory variables to explain the Russia investigation.

There are many variables to choose from in this drama.  The Democrats, NeverTrump deadenders, Hillary, the current administration, the former administration.

Out of all of them, the James Comey variable is the most informative variable because he was the only player whose actions throughout were always informed by full knowledge of whatever evidence was or was not found in the investigation.

We will put forward a theory, show that our theory best fits his actions, and then relate what it means for the Progressive movement generally.  The lesson – non-intuitively as so often happens with good statistical methodology – is that the Progressive movement should be more worried about being removed from power than Trump should.

Theory:  Comey was trying to setup a case for obstruction of justice against Trump by gradually provoking him into making hostile comments in privately to Comey that, when added together, could eventually amount to a case for obstruction of justice.

We also speculate – though with less certainty than our main theory which holds he was building an obstruction case –  that Comey’s actions may have had in mind that if his obstruction case created enough of a political scandal that he could leverage the resulting media publicity into a Presidential run in 2020.

About the assumption made that the FBI has no evidence for criminal activity between the Trump campaign and Russia –

At this point, this assumption is solid.

It’s almost impossible to conceive how there could have been an underlying crime between the Trump campaign and Russia without the evidence leaking to the media after Obama’s intelligence services, Hillary’s opposition research team, Comey’s FBI, the entire Democratic party, multiple Congressional Committees, almost all of the Republican establishment, and every media outlet on the planet spent over a year obsessively searching for proof.

If there were solid proof the media wouldn’t be wasting time “inferring” from pieces of “memos” written on cocktail napkins by anonymous, second hand, sources that Trump tipped off the Russians to the great, classified, secret that Israel is conducting intel operations in Syrian cities controlled by ISIS.

Putin would have never guessed.

Continue reading “Was Comey Building a Bogus Obstruction of Justice Case to Setup a Run for President?”

Robber Baron Capitalism in Four Lessons – Part I: The Subjective Theory of Value

At Pragmatically Distributed we don’t mind ambitious multi-objective programming: We know how to hit our objectives. Today’s objectives – Demonstrate what role the state should play in economic value signalling, and justify the state designing the business environment differently for different sectors of the economy rather than treating all sectors equal.

We will also wean you Libertarians off of primitive Anarcho-Libertarianism and mold you into Capitalists worthy of Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln. Or, at least, we will mold those of you talented enough to adopt Hamilton’s Robber Baron Capitalism. Which is probably only a small number of you people, but that is of no consequence. It suits Hamiltonian interests given we are targeting an elite audience rather than a mass one; we can and will do very well by preferring quality to quantity.

To meet our goals we take Ludwig von Mises’ subjective theory of value, and use it to reject both Austrian economics and Progressive economics in favor of Alexander Hamilton’s Capitalism.

As a refresher, here is how Hamiltonians define the three major economic systems; Capitalism, Libertarianism, and Liberalism:

  • Capitalism – Government actors set the common business environment without favoring particular private actors; individual private actors are then free to take any business action within the boundaries of the established environment.
  • Libertarianism – Private actors set the common business environment without favoring particular private actors; individual private actors are then free to take any business action within the boundaries of the established environment.
  • Liberalism – Government actors set the common business environment without favoring particular actors; government actors then decide on all individual economic actions within the boundaries of the established environment.

We now introduce Alexander Hamilton’s Laws of Economics. Each of these laws are true for all types of economic systems.

Hamilton’s First Law of EconomicsNational Economic Performance is the Result of Process Efficiency

National economic performance is the aggregate of how efficiently processes satisfy customer demand with goods and services.

For any nation the more efficient the aggregate operations of individual producers are, the more optimal is the aggregate allocation of national economic resources.


Hamilton’s Second Law of EconomicsHow Efficient Processes are is a Function of a Triangle of Value Signals from the Customer, Producer, and Business Environment

Production processes are efficient if they allocate a minimal amount of resources (relative to alternative processes) to produce the most valuable (in the opinion of the customer) goods or services.

A Triangle of Value Signals influences how efficiently processes allocate resources in production. The three value signals operations are based on are:

  • What the customer views as valuable.
  • How valuable satisfying demand is to the producer.
  • How clearly information about value relevant to a given business environment is signaled to all economic actors in that environment.

The conditions of any given business environment depend on many factors, some of which are under a nation’s control, some of which are not: external military threats, degree and type of business competition, geography, natural resources, and so forth.

As far as environmental influences are under the control of government, those influences depend on the government acting as a neutral arbiter in the creation and enforcement of common rules for all individual actors. What role and influence the government should have in shaping the business environment is a special focus of this article.

When a producer tries to satisfy customer demand, the producer aligns their processes to use resources. If a process is efficient, fewer resources per unit produced will be allocated to that process, leaving those resources free to be used by other processes.

To create efficient processes, producers must be able to accurately (to the degree measurable) interpret value signals from the consumer and the economic environment. If the producer cannot accurately read what is valuable to the consumer and in the relevant economic environment, the producer cannot determine what activities are actually valuable to the producer. Without knowing what is valuable to the customer, producer, and environment, processes cannot be efficiently aligned to resources.

Governments should keep in mind there is a Darwinian advantage to be gained if producers with inefficient processes are driven out of business – if inefficient producers are driven out of business proportionally more resources become available as inputs for the processes of more competitive producers. The more resources become available to a growing share of efficient producers, the more efficient (hence, more powerful) a nation’s economy in its entirety becomes.

Continue reading “Robber Baron Capitalism in Four Lessons – Part I: The Subjective Theory of Value”

With the Dismissal of Comey Trump Trolls the Universe

Tonight President Trump fired James Comey because Pragmatically Distributed advised him to.

That must be the only explanation; because what other explanation could there be?

As is the glorious destiny of all the (increasingly numerous) Pragmatically Distributed lurkers who take the advice of this blog to heart, Trump will reap the benefits of following our wisdom.

In response to this Tuesday Night Massacre the Democrats will pursue the dead end of the supposed “hacking” into Hillary Clinton’s email server.  A server that was so poorly defended that Clinton would have been charged with criminal negligence in its setup had her last name been anything other than Clinton.

The Russia issue had looked to be exhausted, even from a narrowly partisan vantage point.  Instead of nabbing the entire Trump administration the Progressives succeeded only in taking down Mike Flynn too early to be of use to them, and embroiling Susan Rice in considerable legal complications.

Comey’s firing will be sure to renew the Democrat’s interest in a political dead end – if there were any hidden political treasure in the Russia investigation the Obama administration would have released it before the November election.  Since they released nothing we conclude Obama had nothing.

If Obama, having the great resources of the American intelligence community at his disposal, could find no crime to nail Trump with then the Congressional Democrats will surely also come up empty in any renewed investigation.

Trump, meanwhile, will be able to appoint an FBI Director who will pursue potentially criminal activities of the Obama administration and turn this newfound interest in Russia hacking against the Democrats.

What Trump partisan is partisan enough to strike fear into the Progressive Left?

We have at least one former mayor in mind –


Two Liberal Celebrations Where the Champagne will be Quick to Run Dry

I refer to last week’s celebrations over Macron and, over here, anticipations House Republicans have walked the plank with healthcare votes.

The hopes of Europe’s Boutique Liberalés were all wrong.  They should have been hoping for a Le Pen victory so they could pin the two centuries of Revolutionary overhang that’s heading France’s way on the supposed “Far Right”.

Instead they took false relief in the worst outcome: Macron will govern as a Supranationalist; which means Macron will fail as soon as the next round of Islamic insurgent warfare heats up and he is proven to be an empty suit.  When he fails the whole Technocrat project will be completely without excuses now that he has been awarded such an unambigious mandate; a mandate that he cannot pass the responsibility for onto a Fascist boogeyman.

Europe’s Technocrats will be regretting the result soon enough.

As for the French themselves, personally I’ve come away admiring them more than ever after reading all five of Metternich’s Memoirs in English (with volumes VI, VIII, and VIII sadly either missing or not available online); though improving France’s image was surely not how Metternich must have thought his many notes about the degenerate state of France would be taken.

Therefore, I cannot take any satisfaction in the dire roller coaster ride the French people are about to embark on.

I will, however, point out again that France should be a warning to any American Conservative who thinks the welfare state and Conservatism can be reconciled – the French were given a choice between having EU welfare and national suicide or breathing some life back into the French nation at the expense of handouts.  Instead of choosing survival the French voted by a landslide for national suicide.

And then there are the false hopes America’s Progressives are placing on the emergence of a backlash against the Republican’s healthcare act.

I am confident this is a poor bet because few voters will actually be affected if the legislation (or a comparable version) becomes law and that Obamacare’s apparent rise in popularity is real, but politically meaningless.

The backlash against Obamacare in 2010 and 2014 was the result of Obamacare posing a threat to the existing employer insurance of the middle class.

Under the House legislation few constituents that could ever plausibly be expected to vote Republican will be noticeably affected.  The middle class will be able to rest easy that their employer insurance will remain, there will be better options for those shopping on the individual market, the poor will still have choices between Medicaid and Federal tax credits, while those with existing conditions will be able to shop on high risk pools.

Progressives are also convinced it will bog down in the Senate.  A failure of the Senate is always possible, but in this case also not likely.

McConnell has hated Obamacare for years and is too skillful a parliamentary strategy to want to take the blame for repeal failing.  His opponent’s part, Schumer has not proven to be a very good foil to McConnell.  The Democrat leader badly miscalculated when his filibuster of Neil Gorsuch provoked the nuclear option.  The Gorsuch filibuster cleared the way for Trump to pack the lower courts with Conservatives judges and made it easy for Trump to replace the moderate Anthony Kennedy, or one of the old Liberal Justices, with a reliable Conservative.

I give the legislation itself a B-.  It isn’t full repeal, but it is good enough for me take it considering things could be – as they now are in France – much worse.

Not too Soon to Judge the Revolution Failed

Metternich, Volume IV page 6

March 5, 1823. — I am busy about a very anxious work. Paris now presents a most peculiar spectacle.  I know the ground in Paris very well, and my knowledge of the city in the time of strength enables me to judge of its position in its present time of weakness. In this country everything is unexpected ; even what seems reasonable is only so outwardly, not really: commotion is here the consequence of excited passions, and of all these not one springs from true feeling. Never since there was such a thing as business in the world was an affair handled as it is at this moment in France. It really looks as if people in this country were trying to refine upon suicide. They drive forward, but at the same time bring the car so close to the precipice that it must inevitably turn over.

Metternich, Volume IV page 436

February 11, 1828. — The crisis has arrived, and as I am an old practitioner in the maladies of the social body, I am not more alarmed than is necessary. What I cannot do is to know or predict how things will go: Certain it is that the crisis may turn against the folly of the age which has caused it; and the country that is most seriously ill is France, and France is also the country whose future is the least promising. A country where all the moral elements are extinct cannot help itself, and Providence alone knows what will become of this Babylon.

Metternich, Volume V page 418

June 4, 1834. — Prince Esterhazy will doubtless have spoken to you of a most interesting conversation he has had with King Louis Philippe. What I beg you to insist upon is, that I do not dread the Republic more than it is to he dreaded; a fact contradicted by the King, who apparently does not fear it at all. In order to make myself clearly understood, I need only tell you that I mean by anarchy, the Republic. I know very well that the Republic — in other words a Republican Government affording the prospect of stability — is not what is in store for France, but anarchy under the colours of the Republic, for no one will ever proclaim anarchy.

Metternich, Volume III page 460, Metternich to the Emperor Alexander, Troppau, December 15, 1820.

Is it necessary to give a proof of this last fact ? We think we have furnished it in remarking that one of the sentiments most natural to man, that of nationality, is erased from the Liberal catechism, and that where the word is still employed, it is used by the heads of the party as a pretext to enchain Governments, or as a lever to bring about destruction. The real aim of the idealists of the party is religious and political fusion, and this being analysed is nothing else but creating in favour of each individual an existence entirely independent of all authority, or of any other will than his own, an idea absurd and contrary to the nature of man, and incompatible with the needs of human society.

Metternich, Volume III page 270, Metternich to Gentz, 1819.

April 23. — My proposals are confined to the discipline of the universities, and do not at all touch the studies themselves—two questions which are very closely related, but yet in the present discussion necessarily separated. If we meddle with the latter, nothing at all will be done, and a letter from Müller sufficiently points this out to me, in which in speaking of this affair he observes ‘ that the disorder in the universities proceeds from the Reformation and that it can only be really set right by the recall of the Reformation.’ I deny neither the assertion nor its justice. But here on the Quirinal I cannot meddle with Dr. Martin Luther, and I hope that nevertheless some good will come of it without even touching its source— Protestantism. The last very excellent letter of Müller’s reminded me involuntarily of Golowkin’s proposition for the investigation of ‘ Causes primitives de la révolution française.’

Metternich, Volume I page 273

Napoleon was not irreligious in the ordinary sense of the word. He would not admit that there had ever existed a genuine atheist ; he condemned Deism as the result of rash speculation. A Christian and a Catholic, he recognized in religion alone the right to govern human societies. He looked on Christianity as the basis of all real civilization ; and considered Catholicism as the form of worship most favourable to the maintenance of order and the true tranquility of the moral world ; Protestantism as a source of trouble and disagreements. Personally indifferent to religious practices, he respected them too much to permit the slightest ridicule of those who followed them.

The Origins and Principles of the American Revolution, compared with the Origin and Principles of the French Revolution Page 65 – 66 – Friedrich von Gentz, close diplomatic associate of Metternich

The relics of the old constitution were not so much boundaries to the omnipotent desolating power of the revolution, as landmarks, designating its victorious progress. The constitution, of 1791, was only a short and voluntary pause; a sort of resting point, at which nobody meant long to wait. The second national assembly did not make a pass, no, not one, which was not an attack upon some ruin or other of the monarchy. The establishment of the republic did not satisfy its authors. The execution of the king scarcely appeased the ravenousness of his butchers, for a single instant.

In the year 1793 the thirst for destruction had gone so far, that it was at a loss for an object. The well known saying, that Robespierre meant to reduce the population of France by one half, had its foundation in the lively sense of the impossibility of satisfying the hitherto insatiate revolution, with any thing less, than such a hecatomb.

When there was nothing more left in the country to attack, the offensive frenzy turned itself against the neighbouring states, and finally declared war in solemn decrees against all civil society. It was certainly not the want of will in those, who then conducted this war, if Europe preserved any thing, besides “bread and iron.” Fortunately, no strength was great enough long to support such a will. The unavoidable exhaustion of the assailants, and not the power or the merit of the resistance made, saved society; and, finally, brought the work shops themselves, where the weapons for its destruction were forged, within its beneficent bonds again.

Alexander Hamilton – The Stand No. III, [7 April 1798]

In reviewing the disgusting spectacle of the French revolution, it is difficult to avert the eye entirely from those features of it which betray a plan to disorganize the human mind itself, as well as to undermine the venerable pillars that support the edifice of civilized society. The attempt by the rulers of a nation to destroy all religious opinion, and to pervert a whole people to Atheism, is a phenomenon of profligacy reserved to consummate the infamy of the unprincipled reformers of France. The proofs of this terrible design are numerous and convincing.

The animosity to the Christian system is demonstrated by the single fact of the ridiculous and impolitic establishment of the decades, with the evident object of supplanting the Christian Sabbath. The inscription by public authority on the tombs of the deceased, affirming death to be an eternal sleep, witness the desire to discredit the belief of the immortality of the soul. The open profession of Atheism in the Convention, received with acclamations; the honorable mention on its journals of a book professing to prove the nothingness of all religion; the institution of a festival to offer public worship to a courtezan decorated with the pompous [title] of “Goddess of Reason;” the congratulatory reception of impious children appearing in the hall of the Convention to lisp blasphemy against the King of Kings; are among the dreadful proofs of a conspiracy to establish Atheism on the ruins of Christianity—to deprive mankind of its best consolations and most animating hopes—and to make a gloomy desert of the universe.

Metternich, Volume IV Page 172, Metternich to the Emperor Francis, 1825.

March 28. — In the descriptions it contains nothing is overdrawn. My feeling of the dreadful position of things is even stronger than I can express. I have known France under the Empire, and afterwards in the presence of the allied armies. After being ten years left to itself and the (development of its constitutional relations), I enter it again, and I find things in a much worse state. . . .

It is only now that the consequences of the revolution can be correctly traced. All that is sacred has been loosened, and the system inaugurated at the Restoration, which unhappily was not suited to France, cannot restore anything of what has been lost. Thus society here loses itself in a conflict of passions, and under the influence of these passions the Government lacks all power to act beneficially in other ways.

This is a true picture ; and when I admit it into a despatch to St. Petersburg, I do so with the intention that it should be a lesson for the Emperor. The will of the present ministers is good, but they have no resources at their command. They endeavour to procure them, but it will be a long time before they have any. It is difficult to form any idea of the demoralisation of the people. It will be sufficient to lay before your Majesty the following facts, which I got from the fountain head : —

The population of Paris may be roughly stated at 800,000. Of these 80,000 women and 10,000 men have no religion whatever.

More than a third of the population is unbaptised. The proper business for the religious at the present moment is to introduce religion. In the Quartier de St. Genevieve — where the lowest classes of the people live — it may be said that out of twenty households one consists of married people. At least half of them are not even to be found in any civil register. The only thing that can have any effect here is a religious mission like those sent among savages.

The system followed by the Government is decried and restrained by the Liberal faction.

In the course of the last ten years— consequently since the Restoration and since the freedom of the press, introduced at the same time — about 2,700,000 copies of atheistic, irreligious, immoral writings have been sold. That this trade is supported by the faction is shown by the fact that these works are sold at half price to young people of both sexes, and they are often freely given away. In the higher classes the immorality at least is lessened by better education. But among these the greed of money and titles prevails. From the present Chamber of Deputies the Government has 220 petitions for the dignity of peer.

Metternich, Volume IV page 14

August 29, 1823. — There was but one single man in France who understood how to master the Revolution, and that man was Bonaparte. The King’s Government inherited from him, not the Revolution, but the counter-Revolution, and they have not known how to make use of this inheritance.

Metternich, Volume IV page 117

September 23, 1824.— Louis XVIII. is dead, and there is nothing more to be said in the matter. What some years ago would have been a great event has now no significance. The world is nowadays so far better, that Kings can die undisturbed. The old King was a feeble ruler ; if he had been a private gentleman he would probably have shared many of the errors of the age. Charles X. is different. He has heart and feeling, and if he had more firmness of character he would be a more than ordinary monarch — for without being a regicide I may be permitted to assert that there are ordinary monarchs. At any rate it is a happiness tor Charles X. that he was not in the position of Louis XVIII. ; he would have been ruined by the reaction of his return to France.

Metternich, Volume V page 24

August 27, 1830. — ‘ It appears to me,’ said I to the General, ‘ that you have not grasped the nature and real meaning of my words : I will proceed to make them more clear.

‘ I have known you as one of the most zealous adherents of the man who was, beyond all question, the prototype of power. Of two alternatives I can only admit one ; either the character of Mgr. le Duc d’ Orleans comes up to that of Napoleon in strength, or else falls below it, for to exceed it seems to me beyond the bounds of nature. Now, intimately acquainted as you were with Napoleon, do you believe that, placed in the position of the present Government, he would have considered himself in possession of the requisite means for governing, or, what comes to the same thing, would have considered himself in a condition to assure his throne and the maintenance of internal tranquillity in France? Can that which Napoleon would not have recognised as sufficient be justly looked upon by the new Government as capable of affording it secure pledges of existence?’

To this question General Belliard made the only reply open to him. He was silent, and after a moment’s reflection said to me : ‘ Things are changed, Prince ; France is no longer the France of the past, and she, must be governed by new methods.’

Metternich, Volume I page 281

In order to judge of this extraordinary man, we must follow him upon the grand theatre for which he was born. Fortune had no doubt done much for Napoleon; but by the force of his character, the activity and lucidity of his mind, and by his genius for the great combinations of military science, he had risen to the level of the position which she had destined for him. Having but one passion, that of power, he never lost either his time or his means on those objects which might have diverted him from his aim. Master of himself, he soon became master of men and events. In whatever time he had appeared he would have played a prominent part. But the epoch when he first entered on his career was particularly fitted to facilitate his elevation. Surrounded by individuals who, in the midst of a world in ruins, walked at random without any fixed guidance, given up to all kinds of ambition and greed, he alone was able to form a plan, hold it fast, and conduct it to its conclusion. It was in the course of the second campaign in Italy that he conceived the one which was to carry him to the summit of power. ‘ When I was young,’ he said to me ; ‘ I was revolutionary from ignorance and ambition. At the age of reason, I have followed its counsels and my own instinct, and I crushed the Revolution.’

A Government Shutdown – How to Frame it and Should it be Used?

My beloved cuts to FedGov bureaucracies, and no less a priority than the border wall, have been excluded from the House’s funding resolution.

But we did say legislation will be a hard slog, so slog forward we will.

In his response to the failure of the House to attach Trump’s priorities, Mick Mulvaney incorrectly said Trump may need to support a government shutdown in September to get his priorities through.

If he wants to win a government shutdown in September the Trump administration will need to frame what is actually happening better than Mulvaney did.

Procedurally, a government shutdown would not be a shutdown caused by Trump.  It would be a Democratic shutdown of government because Senate Democrats would be preventing the passage of a budget.

The process flows like this:  Budget legislation is written in the Republican House and move to the Republican Senate.  In the Senate, Republicans will try to close debate on the budget bill, but, if it includes Trump’s priorities, be blocked by a Democratic filibuster.

When the Democrats filibuster, Trump should not say he is responsible for shutting down the government.  He should reframe it so that Schumer is the one who closed it to stop the border wall and cuts to bureaucracy.  Then Trump can easily explain Republicans are trying to vote to reopen the government but Schumer is keeping the government closed because he will not allow a vote.

Framing the debate this way is easy because it flips the debate and forces Democrats to explain why they are keeping government closed.  And when they have to explain that they rapidly lose the debate.  In this argument Schumer becomes the unenviable equivalent of Newt Gingrich during the latter’s shutdown battle with President Clinton.

The major problem with this strategy is not framing it but getting Republicans to follow it and wait long enough for the Democrats to blink.

Paul Ryan is a weak Speaker who leads a not much braver caucus.  With midterm elections approaching and the ghosts of past government shutdowns during the Presidencies of Bill Clinton and Obama still haunting the minds of House Republicans, the House majority will probably fear losing such a debate a third time (although Trump would theoretically be as well positioned as Clinton and Obama were to win shutdown by blaming the opposition).

If a shutdown does occur it could very well be that the Republicans in both chambers panic too early, despite having the upper hand, and fold to the Democrats.

The shutdown card is risky because the GOP is brittle, but it does have great rewards if the Republicans can be prodded by Trump into fighting.

Personally I would use this option in September as a last resort only if other procedural options fail.  It would be my preferred option if Tom DeLay were Speaker.  But he isn’t, and so this option cannot be my first resort.

Fortunately there is more legislation coming down the pike on various funding initiatives.  A number of them could serve as a vehicle for Trump to attach his priorities as rider legislation.

And other opportunities could emerge unintentionally.  If the courts later this year strike down Obamacare subsidies, what’s left of the exchanges will collapse.  To keep the subsidies going Trump could insist any Congressional fix to the subsidies also include wall funding and agency cuts, or else be meet with a Presidential veto.

Trump has a number of legislative options to resort to.  But I would keep a shutdown option in reserve.