November 1, 2018

Bolsonaro Wins in Brazil

Far-right lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday, promising to clean up politics, shrink the state and crack down on crime."

Reuters

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From the Left

The left sees Bolsonaro as a danger to democracy, human rights, and the environment.

“Globally, Bolsonaro’s imminent ascension to Brazil’s Presidency has appended Brazil to the growing ranks of nations ruled by authoritarian populists who openly espouse bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, and anti-immigrant views, as well as violence as a means of problem-solving."

The New Yorker

“Bolsonaro is a former military officer who was trained during the most repressive years of the military dictatorship. Recently, Bolsonaro has voiced support for military intervention in politics and has argued that the former military regime ‘didn’t go far enough’ in eradicating leftists. It goes without saying that military intervention and liberal democracy don’t go together."

Vox

“The watchdog group Global Witness documented 57 instances in 2017 where environmental activists were killed in Brazil during clashes with poachers, loggers, ranchers, and others. Many worry Bolsonaro’s election will exacerbate that fraught reality... In addition to fearing for their own lives, activists worry Bolsonaro’s presidency will almost certainly imperil some of the world’s most precious natural resources."

ThinkProgress

Some note that “it shouldn't be surprising that Brazil's economic decay and elite failure gave rise to right-wing revanchism. If leaders around the world want to stop [right-wing populism]... they must do better at protecting their citizens from the ravages of capitalism."

The Week

The political calendar and Trump's approach could give grounds for optimism. Kim, who has presided over a limited form of economic development inside North Korea, is under pressure to deliver improvements in the lives of his people… So he has an incentive to try to seek economic benefits or aid from the United States and wants punishing economic sanctions lifted — a potential opening for US negotiators… Kim must realize that his chances of basking in this kind of legitimacy with a US President other than Trump are slim. So if he fears Trump could lose in 2020, he may reason the time may be ripe for a deal. And Trump wants nothing more than a big diplomatic breakthrough months before the election.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right sees Bolsonaro’s election as a reaction to a corrupt and incompetent ruling class.

From the Right

The right sees Bolsonaro’s election as a reaction to a corrupt and incompetent ruling class.

“The president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, benefited from an assassination attempt but his victory is chiefly a reaction to three consecutive presidents who have been mired in scandal. Three-term ex-president Lula da Silva was briefly imprisoned. His chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached and removed from office for corruption... her successor, President Michel Temer, has also been charged with embezzlement and corruption."

National Review

Maybe the world should show a decent respect for Brazilian democracy and try to understand what happened… Brazil has yet to recover from the leftwing populism of PT President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010) and successor Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016). Deficits, public debt and inflation soared... By the time the [PT] was done, Brazil was in a recession that lasted nearly three years... Brazilians didn’t vote for fascism or a military coup. They voted for hope and change, and they will throw Mr. Bolsonaro out if he fails to honor his promises.”

Wall Street Journal

Some posit that “the alternative, Haddad, was much worse. As Americans know, when there are only two options, sometimes you pick the lesser of two evils... Haddad's proposals were genuinely radical. They included ‘democratic control’ over the media (i.e., censorship) and ‘democratic control’ over the prosecutors and the Judiciary (i.e., an erosion of judicial independence and the rule of law).”

Washington Examiner

Regarding his candidacy overall, “There’s a lot of conventional wisdom in Washington that the early front-runner always loses. And that’s true except when it isn’t… in 1999, George W. Bush dominated the polls and, except for a brief scare from Senator John McCain in the New Hampshire primary, essentially cruised to victory. A key part of Bush’s early success, not just in polls but in fundraising, stemmed from the fact that he was promising a Bush restoration…

“He was offering a referendum on the incumbent president and the scandals and partisanship that defined the end of his administration. He vowed to restore ‘honor and dignity to the Oval Office’ and to be a ‘uniter not a divider.’ The very different context notwithstanding, this is pretty much Biden’s campaign message. The ideological, activist, and Twitter-obsessed base of the Democratic party may not like Biden’s pitch. But it sure looks like rank-and-file Democrats do.”
Jonah Goldberg, National Review

“Not only did [Trump] attack the ‘squad,’ he managed to do it in a way in which no other prominent Democrat can continue to criticize them publicly, lest they be perceived as echoing the president’s contention that they should go back where they came from. At the exact moment the accusations and counter-accusations were set to do lasting damage, Trump just had to jump in and give them an attack that would unify them all. It often seems like Trump would rather have a bad news cycle that focuses on him than a beneficial news cycle that focuses on someone else… Everyone around the president can read a poll and knows that his rage-tweeting is a liability; it is perhaps the biggest liability in a presidency that, with prosperity and a perception of peace, ought to be comfortably cruising to reelection.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

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