President Trump is not a diplomat. He has direction internationally, and ideas that need to be put into policy, but he is not the one to take the message to the international public. This was clearly evident with his performances at the NATO meeting and the Helsinki Summit. He does not have a diplomatic bone in his body. He obfuscates his messages in the worst way. At NATO he slammed the organization for being “freeloaders”, and subsequently slammed the EU for their unfair trade practices. This brought the relationships to new lows, and the confused messaging had NATO members wondering if the USA will live up to their obligations, and had the EU upset about a path to rectify trade differences. Whats even worst, it had the potential to give the “green light” to Russia for more aggressive behavior on the continent, sending that message to Putin right before the Helsinki Summit. This was bad messaging, bad politics, and could have been avoided.
At Helsinki after the Summit, the President gave a joint news conference with President Putin. The conference was put to shambles with the President focusing on his domestic problem with the Mueller investigation, which was not even a topic for discussion. This was initiated by a rambunctious AP reporter that asked pointed questions to both Trump and Putin about Russian interference and collusion in the 2016 election, and frankly the questions were stumbled over by Trump, and Putin’s denials were no help. One couldn’t help but to see Putin as the one in control at the news conference. The entire Summit was put into disrepair with those visuals, and once again, it did not have to happen.
President Trump has no talent for diplomacy. He most likely will never acquire that talent. He has many initiatives on the international front that he wants to implement, many good ideas to share with both our allies and our competitors, but he is not the one that should be singularly communicating these initiatives. That is what professional diplomats are for. These are people that have been in the international system for awhile, and know how to express themselves succinctly and without any perceived animus. These are people that understand the motivations of their target audiences, and tailor their presentations for maximum effect. They are good at it. Our President is not.
Mike Pompeo has an impressive resume. He is a veteran, a businessman, lawyer, congressman, and CIA director. At the CIA he proved himself to be adept at dealing with international leaders, and subsequently was appointed to be Secretary of State. He has a team of diplomatic veterans that work with him, and is very capable of representing the President and the USA in the diplomatic field. This is the man that should control how the messages are communicated. Mr. Trump should use Secretary Pompeo and his team to his benefit. If he does so in the future, these embarrassments will not again rear their ugly head.
Today Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump spent the day in Helsinki, having a discussion on world politics. Points were made, and counterpoints were offered. Nothing much other than starting an open dialog was accomplished, and by all measures that was our President’s goal and from that standpoint the meeting was successful.
They met for several hours alone. That was purposeful, because the conversation would revolve around stark differences in world view, and that I’m sure was contentious. Syria, Crimea and the Ukraine, Russian election meddling were a few of the subjects that were discussed. Harsh words were most likely used, and Mr. Putin would deny meddling, and rationalize Crimea and the Ukraine, Syria and other points of difference. The point is he was called out in private, which is the diplomatic way to handle differences. That meeting was purposefully private, and will never be aired in public discourse.
Afterwards, there was a more public working lunch meeting, where Russian and American staff members were given a chance to discuss these same issues. As expected, the tone would be more conciliatory, given the fact that both Putin and Trump do want to establish a working relationship, and their respective staff’s honored their leaders positions.
In short, with the exception of establishing the beginnings of a working relationship, there was nothing else that could be honestly reported. The news conference showed that each man showed great deference and respect for each other, and a harsh word was not uttered by either. The Q&A with reporters was more contentious, with questions asked about collusion, Russian interference, and an AP reporter bluntly asked Mr. Putin about “what evidence do you have about Mr. Trump’s visit to Russia years ago”? These questions were never to be answered in this forum, the reporters knew it, but they were searching for headlines and a narrative they could post with their respective MSM’s.
The MSM’s are now in full tilt, reporting on what they hope is the confirmation of our President in full collusion with Russia. They are speculating that Mr. Trump has been in the pocket of Mr. Putin all along and that the press conference proves that. It does not, they know it, but it would not be a story without their creative narratives.
Back to Mr. Mueller’s investigation. Interesting that he releases 12 indictments of Russian Agents in regard to election meddling right before the President arrives at Helsinki. One has to wonder if this was a favor to the President, or more fodder for the media? Sealed indictments would be more effective to actually capture those indicted if that were a goal of the special prosecutor. Mr. Mueller’s team has actually done a great job digging through evidence to find Russia meddling. I don’t think anyone doubts that the Russians were bad players in the 2016 election, and most everyone knows that then President Obama and his Justice department did nothing to stop it. Right now the media is using the 12 indictments as evidence of Trump collusion with the Russians, voicing that in spite of this evidence, the President still publicly “looked the other way” at Russian election meddling. It is not in the best interest of the President’s goal of establishing a working relationship by publicly outing Putin, but that point has been lost on most reporting.
In our era of 24/7 media coverage, the expectations of citizens were much higher than that of either Presidents Trump or Putin. They came to create the beginnings of a relationship. The media was reporting how President Trump should be very harsh with Putin, letting him know we will not stand for his behavior and election meddling needs to end now. Not the best way to accomplish the singular goal of establishing a relationship, is it? Setting the expectations so high with their prior reporting gave them the ability to develop a more believable narrative of collusion, and that is the story that they are weaving right now. It seems that the MSM’s are neither truthful or honorable when it comes to reporting on our President. All that seems to matter is discrediting the President, and they will use any method to do so. Incredibly dishonest, but also effective in the never-ending news cycle.
Donald Trump made an effort to “wake up” NATO members to the danger that they face with the “Russian Bear”. The President pointed out the folly of becoming too entrenched with Russia for energy needs. He pointed out that the Russians are very interested in re-creating their lost empire. They have defined themselves as a land-based military, and have structured their military smartly with that in mind. They are highly capable from a land-based perspective and NATO border states are in jeopardy. This is especially true for Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, all of which have large Russian minorities in their populations. Remember the Ukraine, and what is happening there. The Russians have armed Ukraine’s Ethnic Russian minority and supplanted their leadership with Russian Special Operations troops, have taken Crimea and are making a play to take the whole region back bit by bit. This may be the same fate for these 3 Baltic states, especially if NATO does not have the strength or the will to invoke Article 5 of the Washington treaty, which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all NATO members, and a collective response is required. With most NATO members currently contributing little to the military alliance, it is doubtful that any response could happen unless the USA fully commits with little help from other NATO members. Our President insists that each member commits at least 2% of their GDP to their respective military’s, and the commitment should be more an upgrade to fighting materials rather that just wages for soldiers. After some hand wringing, there seems to be an agreement to his request.
This is an important first step before meeting with Mr. Putin next Monday. Nothing would make Putin happier than to negotiate with President Trump alongside a destabilized NATO. With an agreement to invest in NATO’S military capability in his pocket, that is one item that is technically “off the table”. Our President comes in to the meeting with a very strong hand. For one, Russia’s economy is small, roughly only 8% of our own. We invest strongly in defense, with a defense budget over ten times that of the Russians. That doesn’t mean that Russia is holding bad cards. Russia has invested in their military wisely, with new weapons that compliment a land-based military. They have more tanks, artillery, and more trained personnel on the ground than we do. Their naval force is strongest with submarines, with a strategy of denying enemy combatants access to trade routes. They also have a big interest in re-inventing their lost empire, as we can see with their actions in the Ukraine and Syria. A direct war with the USA would be a big mistake for Putin, but if NATO sits it out as he takes back the Baltic states and the USA disengages from the organization, his dream of empire could well come true. He is also looking at the Middle East with lust in his eyes, and Syria has given him a foothold in that area, strengthened by our lack of future commitment in that region.
Donald Trump is hoping that he can establish a working relationship with Vladimir Putin. He is going to try to work with him using mutual respect as the basis for this mini-summit in Helsinki. He would like to get Russia to step back from the Ukraine, leave Syria, and back off from fortifying the border with the Baltic states. He also will be discussing Russian interference in our elections, and Russian hacking in general. The point he will make is that if we can live in peace, the international sanctions on Russia can be eventually lifted. Putin wants those sanctions lifted in the worst way. His economy is virtually on the ropes, and needs trade to diversify from an oil based economy to one that can compete with the rest of the world with manufacturing and technology. Although that may be his main goal for meeting with Trump, it is not the only one.
Mr. Putin wants the President to validate his incursion into Syria and subsequent establishment of permanent military bases there. He is in the process of replacing the USA as the chief power broker in the Mideast, and he wants US troops out of the area. He knows that Trump has stated in the past that he wants all of our troops home. He will dangle a proposition of working with the President on containing Iran, although it is doubtful that Putin actually has any leverage over the Mullah’s.
He also wants the prestige that this meeting presents. He wants desperately to be seen as the leader of a superpower, resurrecting the leverage that the Soviets once had. This is important to him on many levels. He needs to prop up his own standing at home, because as a dictator he does not enjoy the legitimacy of being an elected leader. He also wants to prop up his image on the world stage. Since his invasion of Ukraine and annexation of the Crimea, he has been persona non grata in Europe and elsewhere, and he wants that isolation to end.
Putin also wants our President to bless his annexation of the Crimea. He will dangle an agreement for Russia to disengage from their military and political activity in the remainder of the Ukraine. He will also ask Trump to stop arming the Ukraine army, on the pretense that weapons are not needed if Russia is truly disengaged from the area.
Putin will also probably throw in some kind of arms control agreement to sweeten the pot. He will bank on Trumps ego being so big that he won’t be able to pass up a “win” on an agreement to incrementally de-nuclearize. The Pentagon, however has already informed the President that the Russians are cheating on the 1987 INF treaty. Most likely Putin will bank that won’t have much of an effect on Trump, because he has in the past stated he believes that he can change Putin’s behavior through his power of persuasion.
Once again, our President is going to a meeting with an adversary. His hopes are high. He believes he can change this despot’s behavior. Putin also believes he can change Trumps behavior, get sanctions eliminated, and use the invigorated economy to build a more powerful war machine to realize his dream of empire. Trump believes that his power of negotiation will win. Putin believes his understanding of what makes Trump tick, exploiting character flaws to get what he wants will win. I for one will put my money on a stalemate.
One thing that we all look forward to is what the left will spin this into, regardless of the outcome. They may say “Putin won, and no wonder, Trump is in his back pocket”! Articles are probably already written on his failure before the meeting starts. Creative writers on staff at newspapers like the New York Times and magazines like the New Republic most likely already have stories ready to go. Editorial articles written where they only have to “fill in the blanks”. I wouldn’t surprise me if somehow the new nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, will somehow be tied to the supposed failure, with his notion that sitting Presidents cannot be charged with a crime, and yes, of course, all of this has to be tied to Trump/Russian collusion. The creativity is endless!
25 billion dollars worth of tariffs went into effect on China today, and many people are worried about the effect it will have on our booming economy. China is retaliating in kind, focusing their tariffs mostly on farm goods in order to put pressure on the President before the mid-term elections. The farm belt was where he has the most support, and China’s tactic is to hit him back hard with their political calculation, with the hope that he will fold and end this burgeoning trade war.
Trump does not fold. If anything he will double down on his original bet. His calculation is that eventually China will come to the negotiating table and a deal, eliminating tariffs and establishing a rule of law there that precludes intellectual property theft and open markets will eventually be agreed upon. It is a gamble, but our President believes that it is a war that we can win. It is a war that has never been fought before, a war to increase trade, not restrict it!
Mexico, Canada, and the EU are also in Trump’s sights. He see’s the restrictions put on trade coming in from the USA with all these nations as being unfair trading practices that need to stop. He has repeatedly stated that “we are no longer going to be the world’s piggy-bank”, and he is serious about this contention. No longer will we give free access to our markets while there is no reciprocity.
There is now a lot of economic sabre-rattling going on. China, Canada, Mexico and the EU are all making a lot of noise about retaliation. Everything from playing cards to Harley-Davidson motorcycles are being targeted with restrictive tariffs, and so far not one of these countries is willing to discuss lowering or eliminating their traditional trade barriers. They all seem to be very happy with the previous trade status-quo with America, and consider it “unfair” for us to complain about it, let alone set up our own trade barriers to their goods.
Trump is betting on the fact that all of these countries need us more than we need them. His bet revolves around the assumption that we are the largest market for goods in the world, and these countries will suffer more from the present situation than we will. The thought is that they will eventually come to us for a deal, and he very well might be right. The big question is will this take place next month, 2 months from now, a year or two down the road, or maybe never? This is truly a high stakes game of chicken!
In the meantime, there is political and economic danger from this decision. Will be mid-term elections be adversely effected? Will there be a backlash with American consumers when prices go up because of these tariffs? Will this situation result in a slowing of the economy and a premature economic correction? Will certain sectors of the economy be crippled by the effects of tariffs? There are a lot of unanswered questions, and only time will tell if Trump’s decision to “wake up” our trading partners with tariffs is the right decision, or simply a superhighway to recession.
The other day I shopped on-line for a specialty dog collar. I used Amazon and Google. When I was done I went to the Drudge Report, and low and behold, I was seeing dog collar ads. I then went to AOL, read an article, and was confronted with more dog collar ads. Later, using Google for research, more dog collar ads. Same thing with Facebook, dog collar ads were abundant. Here, there and everywhere, I was surrounded with ads pressing me to buy a dog collar.
This is not an unusual occurrence. If you use the internet, your being tracked. Where you go and what you do is being captured, and bought and sold by a variety of different businesses. It doesn’t matter if your shopping, researching, or having fun with social media, someone or something is tracking every keystroke. If you use free e-mail, that too is monitored. Virtually everything you do on the internet is being monitored, with the possible exception of anything purposely encrypted, and there are ways around that too.
Your devices, cellphones, smart TV’s, Alexa, and other common household electronics have the potential to look at you or record whatever is being said in their proximity. Your laptop’s camera can spy on you when your using it, or in the same room when it is on. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and other social media programs can take hold of your devices and watch and hear your activities. In fact James Comey himself said that he tapes over his laptop camera and the camera on his phone for this very reason.
If you use credit or debit cards, you bank is disseminating your information about your balances, purchases, and your credit worthiness. Grocery stores have customer loyalty programs that track your purchases, hotels have loyalty programs that track your travels, as do airlines. Most everything you do in life is being tracked by one organization or another.
The government even spies on you. The NSA was outed by Edward Snowden, who let us know that they had a bulk storage site full of servers storing cellphone conversations, social media activity, and internet use on virtually every American. To date the NSA says that they curtailed that program, but who really knows? A spy organization caught spying, telling us they won’t do it again. That promise has a credibility issue.
Needless to say this wired society that we live in has its benefits, but many of us do not consider the downsides to this massive intrusion on our privacy. We are being spied on every minute of every day. People and organizations now have the ability to profile us in ways that were impossible just a few short years ago. Our government has been monitoring what we write and say. In this electronic age, we have nowhere to hide, and we are vulnerable to powers that have the technical means to either make our lives better, or to take control of our lives and make it much worse.
Where did our right to privacy go? The right to privacy is alluded to in the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath … Are the conduct of internet companies and the government upholding the 4th Amendment, or have we as a society abdicated the right to privacy in order to enjoy the convenience of modern technology? Is the convenience worth the possible cost? Time will tell…..
Once upon a time we were a fledgling nation, with a population of just a few million people, with 3,200,000 square miles of mostly uninhabited land. We were desperate for people to help us settle this land, and our borders were open to anyone that wanted to come and work. People came, mostly from Ireland, Scotland, England, and Western Europe, looking for opportunity that they could not find in their homelands. Immigration was key to the success of the USA as a nation, and newcomers were embraced.
Immigration continued unabated throughout most of our history, and it had a positive effect on our development. Major cities were formed, which gave rise to heavy industry and a workforce that could support it. Immigration was the central reason for our rise as an industrial power, and it was immigration that eventually made us a superpower and the #1 economy in the world.
Let’s take a look at some immigration statistics:
That’s not to say that immigration was never an issue. There was a xenophobic reaction to the mass immigration of Irish, German, and Italian Catholics in the 19th Century. Native born citizens thought that these new additions would be ruled by the Pope, undermining the society that they had previously built. The Chinese brought an even more nativist policy, culminating in the Chinese Exclusion Act passed by Congress in 1882.
Throughout most of our history, immigrants contributed to our society with their labor and their ambition. When they arrived they expected nothing more than the opportunity to succeed and that was all that they got. They were productive and did not put any burden on our government, and they did not expect to be entitled to anything except for what they could earn legitimately. Each group coming was expected to assimilate into our “melting pot” and that is what happened, with rich and colorful additions to our society in forms of arts and culture brought from their home countries. It was in this way that the “melting pot” worked, and it worked well, at least until we became a welfare state.
We now transfer more than 14% of our GDP to individuals. Part of this transfer now goes to immigrants, both legal and illegal. Many recent immigrants now do not assimilate, do not work, do not pay taxes, but collect benefits supplied by the taxpayers. We are now funding shadow cultures with taxpayer dollars, people who are here not to work hard for a better life, but those that believe somehow they are entitled to collect off of the largess of a country that they only marginally participate in.
Most efforts to actually control immigration were half-hearted throughout our history, with laws that were conflicting and sometimes downright idiotic. To this day we have not put together a comprehensive plan to protect our borders and to control the influx of immigrants. Because of our lack of focus on this issue, we find ourselves in an illegal immigrant invasion on our southern border, and a wavering polarized congress that is shirking their duty to address this problem with some sort of sensible legal solution. This problem, combined with being a welfare state that makes it attractive for immigrants to come without embracing the idea of assimilation, make it imperative that we push congress to do their job. We have to get this under control. If not eventually it could be the demise of our nation.
We are pressing congress to do their job, and today there will be an effort to vote for a solution in the House of Representatives. The bill that they are pressing will deal with border protection, DACA, and a sensible way to control immigration with a merit based system. Virtually every Republican in congress will vote yes on this bill, but it is doubtful that any Democrats will. Republicans have a majority in congress, but need at least a few Democrat votes to get the bill passed and on to the Senate. If this happens, it is certain that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will resist having any of his Democrat Senators show support for this bill.
Republican lawmakers see a need to control immigration because we are a welfare state, and we cannot let masses of under skilled uneducated people flood in for a free ride. We are now populated, and no longer need and unending flow of people to inhabit an unpopulated land. What we do need are skilled workers and seasonal laborers. Democrats, on the other hand, see the flood of uneducated masses as new democrat voters that will eventually tip the scales in their favor. They see our present broken system as a way to perpetuate their power ad infinitum. This is why we see this polarization, where the two competing parties have widely different interests in the control of immigration, and this is also why we may not see immigration reform for some time to come.
Right now we are focused on family separation at our borders. Illegal aliens are coming across with their children with the expectation that they can stay. Until yesterday with the Presidents Executive order, they were then separated from their children. With our zero tolerance policy, now adults are immediately arrested for breaking the law, and if they do not agree to go back to their homeland, they are incarcerated with their children until a judgement is made on their eligibility for amnesty. If granted they can stay and are relocated to a place in our mainland. If not, they will be sent home. It is a messy program that needs to be stopped, but without the support of congress, this broken system will remain in place. The only solution is for congress to do their job, and that seems to be a very tall order in today’s political climate.
We are truly blessed in the USA! The First Amendment of the constitution, which precludes the government from inhibiting free speech, gives us the right to say just about anything about any topic without fear of civil repercussion. Writing this article is protected, as is all other forms of communication, including but not limited to the media. This is a precious gift that is not duplicated in many other parts of the world, and it is part of what makes us truly free.
Free speech is also a double edged sword. People can put a spin on events to their own purpose, and so too can the media. Global warming can be a hoax, or the biggest threat to humanity, depending on what spin catches your eye. Fossil fuel can be the driving force for taking much of the planet to prosperity, or it just might be the reason for all environmental ills, depending on who you are listening to. Barack Obama was either the greatest President or the worst, if your listening to either CNN or FOX. Free speech, although a blessing, does not guarantee that the truth be told.
There are many truly great leaders in our country. Mary Barra has done a fantastic job bringing General Motors back from the brink. Marc Benioff has taken a start-up, SalesForce, from obscurity to #1 in its field. Warren Buffett, well, I don’t need to say anything more about him! Ursula Burns was an exceptional CEO for Xerox, and I could go on and on and on…. We don’t have a problem finding leaders for business or other civilian endeavors in our country. Good people are all around, people that can lead with vision.
Politics, on the other hand, has a big issue with finding qualified visionary leaders. We tend to attract people that have little skill in this area. Instead of getting the best, we seem to be left with those that would not be able to successfully lead in any other civilian endeavor. We get the likes of Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Hillary Clinton, Lisa Murkowski, Maxine Waters, Elizabeth Warren, and John McCain. Not one of these people would be picked to run a legitimate profitable business. That doesn’t mean that we never get good leadership, but that quality is not the rule in politics.
One big reason for this is our 1st Amendment. With unfettered free speech, the media and the contestants have turned politics into a blood sport! Nothing is off limits in a campaign. Opponents hire search firms to find out everything in their competitors past, and if there is anything that can be spun into a dirty narrative it will be. Likewise, media will put their best investigative reporters on a mission to find dirt on candidates that do not boost their narrative, and if found will be put on the air nationwide. Few of us are without sin, and even fewer would want to be put to this kind of scrutiny. It seems that the 1st Amendment that gives us freedom of speech also guarantees us poor political leadership. Freedom of speech truly comes at a cost!
We are just 2 days away from the historic Singapore summit, where President Trump and Chairman Kim signed an agreement of intention to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Since then, there has been sirens on the left attempting to de-legitimize the effort.
Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement on Tuesday that he welcomes efforts to “de-escalate tensions and pursue diplomacy, but proof of success will only come when we see substantive and verifiable evidence that North Korea is eliminating its nuclear arsenal.”
He criticized the declaration reached between Mr. Trump and Kim as being “very light on details” and “is the beginning of a long negotiation process.”
“It is troubling, however, that the Trump administration has given the North Korean regime many sought-after wins up front without getting anything in return,” Biden said.
He added, “Talking to dictators is one thing; embracing them is another. So far, this is not a deal that advantages the United States or makes us safer.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor to discuss the U.S.-North Korea summit, saying the agreement reached between Mr. Trump and Kim is “short on details” and “vague” on concrete action.
“We must get action not just photo ops,” urged Schumer.
Schumer says the joint agreement views denuclearization as a “far off goal” with no clear pathway on how to achieve it or verify that North Korea has in fact disarmed.
He noted however that it was a “welcomed improvement to see them have a dialogue rather than engaging in name calling,”
“We are all rooting for diplomacy to success, we must be clear-eyed about what a diplomatic success looks like with North Korea.”
“We want to see these efforts succeed and ensure that what has just transpired was not a reality show summit,” Schumer said. “What the United States has gained is vague and unidentifiable at best. What North Korea has gained, however, tangible and lasting.”
He said the U.S. must be “clear-eyed” about what a diplomatic success looks like, but added later he believes Trump has “undercut our foreign policy” by agreeing to freeze joint military exercises with South Korea. He also said that Trump has failed his own standard of a denuclearized North Korea.
“President Trump has not made much progress toward that goal yet and had given up substantial leverage already,” Schumer said. “The leverage of joint military exercises, the leverage of an audience with the president of the United States.”
Nancy Pelosi had this to say: “Nuclear nonproliferation is a pillar of America’s national security. We respect any serious and real diplomatic efforts to achieve that goal on the Korean peninsula. Apparently, the President handed Kim Jong-un concessions in exchange for vague promises that do not approach a clear and comprehensive pathway to denuclearization and non-proliferation.
“In his haste to reach an agreement, President Trump elevated North Korea to the level of the United States while preserving the regime’s status quo. The millions of families currently living in fear of nuclear weapons in the region deserve strong and smart leadership built on diplomacy and engagement with our regional partners and allies.
“The President’s marginalization of the vast expertise of the State Department and his habitual disparaging of our allies as demonstrated at the G7 Forum hinders a lasting, stable pathway to peace.”
Maxine Waters said that the Singapore summit was a travesty, and that “its now time to start talking about impeaching this President”. The drumbeats from the left are deafening, signaling their heartfelt wish that this President fail in the endeavor to bring peace to the Korean peninsula. The mainstream media is on their same page, bringing in “experts” that nay-say the Presidents efforts and predict a big disappointment rather than a win for the world. All this after 1 meeting that actually had positive initial results.
Why the pushback? Is it a real concern that the President is going down the wrong path for peace, or is it a cynical effort to paint a negative picture in order to undermine public perception in order to somehow elevate their efforts in the 2018 mid-term elections? Sadly, my opinion is that the latter is the case. They cannot countenance any win by the President, because it makes their chances of taking over congress and getting rid of the President less likely.
The President and the Conservative movement has been winning. His approval numbers are higher than either Obama’s or Reagan’s at the same time frame in their Presidencies. In 1.5 years, he has eliminated all but one last vestige of the Obama legacy, with only Obamacare impeding a total sweep. We have seen tax reform, shrinking government and our military strengthened. The economy is buzzing with success after success and our stock market is having steady gains. Our unemployment rate is at historic lows, and jobs and overseas profits are coming back to us at an unprecedented rate. Illegal immigration is now finally being properly addressed, and we are sending record numbers of these people back. Our Supreme Court is now more conservative than in recent history, and it appears that our President will be able to appoint another conservative to the bench in short order. Lower court appointments are also leaning conservative, balancing out the liberal domination that has been pandemic in recent years. Add to that the historic Singapore summit for even more “winning”! America is coming back, and this is not boding well for the Liberal Democratic Party.
The long waited for “Blue Wave” that has buoyed the hopes of every Liberal Progressive Socialist (Democrat) is now more elusive than ever. The last thing that they want is another win for conservatives, but that is what they are faced with. Regardless of the cynical statements and reporting by the mainstream media, they cannot drown out the fact that the conservative view of America is back, and it is a positive driving force for us to achieve the goal of “Making America Great Again”!
At the G7 meeting, some members were ruminating about how Donald Trump may be the single catalyst destroying the world order that Western Powers have enjoyed for 7 decades. Since the end of WW2, the United States has been the leader of the free world. The United States historically stopped the Soviet push for world domination during this period and by economic dominance threw them into the ash heap of history. The USA contained the spread of communism and aggressively promoted democracy worldwide. Through economic leadership by promoting a free market style hybrid capitalism, the USA brought unprecedented wealth to the free world, and along the way assisted societies like China and Vietnam to achieve unimaginable economic results. Some G7 members feel that this relationship with the USA is starting to unwind. Is it, or is this just a symptom of a changing world?
After WW2, most of the world was in various states of destruction. Western Europe was in ruin, China was battered, Russia suffered unimaginably, Korea was decimated, Japan was even nuked, and literally the last man standing was the USA. Unlike the aftermath of WW1, when the Europeans at Versailles made it a point to compound Germany’s pain by implementing crushing reparations that ultimately led to another world war, the United States took a different direction. In a very benevolent fashion, the USA altruistically implemented the Marshall Plan in 1948, investing over 13 billion taxpayer dollars (145 billion in today’s currency) to rebuild Western Europe, including Germany. This resulted in a very fast recovery for them, and they also adopted various forms of hybrid capitalism and democracy. They were now on a road to prosperity that they had never seen before.
Japan also was given favorable treatment by our occupation and investments in their rebuilding efforts. They also developed a new, democratic form of government and embraced a form of capitalism, resulting in a fast recovery and undreamed of wealth for the average Japanese citizen. This was all the result of our occupation led by General MacArthur.
After the creation of North and South Korea, US investment in South Korea was massive, and once again with very positive results. Unlike North Korea, that to this day is one of the poorest and most politically oppressed nations in the world, South Korea is a shining example of what capitalism and democracy can do for a nation. They are a model of what a 1st world nation looks like, and able to compete with any nation on the face of the planet.
During this post-war rebuilding period, we gave recovering countries free access to our markets, with very little in the way of trade barriers. Conversely, these same trading partners put up barriers of their own, and we looked the other way. We were at that time the strongest economy in the world, one that was assisting in rebuilding many nations after the war, and had the insight to know at that time our partners trade barriers were there simply to assist in recovery.
Since the end of WW2, there has been a resurgence in both prosperity and freedom for most of the planet. Even so called communist states like China have eased up on their absolute control of the individual. Although regional conflicts still arise from time to time, no major worldwide conflict has reared its ugly head, and this is largely because of the influence of the USA. The United States still controls the largest and most lethal military in the world, and uses that power to stabilize a world that has a natural proclivity to go out of control.
But the times “they are a changing”! Russia has come back under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. Although their economy is relatively small, approximately 10X smaller than USA, Russia is investing a lot of money into military preparedness. Mr. Putin is not afraid to use this relatively newfound power, and has recently taken over the Crimea by force from the Ukraine, has invaded Georgia, and has inserted itself in the Libyan conflict. Putin is causing great concern with former satellite states, with the worry that they may be next. Russia has made overtures to the Iranians, Pakistani’s, Turkey (a NATO member), North Korea and China, with positive results.
China, largely through the efforts of the USA and the rest of the Western World, has emerged as an economic powerhouse. In the past 3 decades, much manufacturing has left the Western World and relocated to China in order to enjoy lower prices. In many cases, the move was forced upon manufacturers by retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc…, who pushed their vendors into this action through outright threats and intimidation. China has invested much of their newfound success into their own industries (Steel, Aluminum, Aerospace, Cars, Electronics, etc…). Further, they have required Western businesses to share technology in order to benefit from China’s low wages, and many businesses have capitulated to that threat, resulting in China having one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
China has also invested heavily in its military, and has built what many claim to be the 2nd most lethal military in the world. They have also claimed as theirs a major trading route, the South China Sea, and have built islands on top of reefs strategically throughout this maritime region, weaponizing them like stationary aircraft carriers, complete with planes, missiles and other weaponry to head off any interference by foreign (primarily American) Navy’s. They have become a power to deal with, and they are now heavily aligned with other bad players, including but not limited to Russia and Pakistan.
In addition, China in cooperation with Russia is attempting to create a new “Silk Road” using both ports and railways in order to exploit trade with the European continent. This is being done by forming relationships with other countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka for ports, and countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, and Turkey for “right of way” to build a railroad from China to the European Markets. This is done in part through investments made in infrastructure by China in order to gain influence. China is also gaining influence in Africa, Central and South America using similar strategies in order to have free access to their raw materials, and to open up new markets for Chinese goods.
Russia and China are cooperating in other areas too! Militarily, there is a cross-fertilization that assists both players in a “catch up” game with the USA. Between sharing technologies and hacking American military databases for military technology secrets, they are rapidly coming closer to USA’s capabilities. China is also dependent on energy purchases from the Russian Regime for their basic energy needs, and Russia is dependent on China for low cost consumer goods. They truly are partners, and with military and economic moves, along with newly formed alliances, they are together a force to be reckoned with.
There is a new world order in the making, and it appears that Russia and China will be major players in this creation. The USA and Western Civilization will also be major players, but the game is changing and the play has not yet been set. In a sense, some G7 members are right, the current world order is going away. Talk of abandoning the USA because of Donald Trump’s push for open markets, using tariffs as a catalyst is not the reason. Trump’s push for fair trade is actually a plea to come together, not to come apart. Tariffs are being used to start a conversation, not to end it. He is trying to pull nations together that we helped to recreate after WW2. He is also trying to use tariffs to negotiate with China on leveling the playing field. Nations no longer need us to give them unfettered access to our markets, whilst they do not reciprocate. If we are to create a new world order based on our shared values, equitable trading standards are a required first step.
I attended this presentation on May 2nd at the Cal State Long Beach Multimedia Center. Michael Tesler was the keynote speaker, and he was hyping his new book about the 2016 Presidential election. His main point was that politics now is all about race, and President Trump made this so. According to Tesler, Mr. Trump banked on white identity politics to get elected, and was successful because he won the hearts of uneducated whites. He did so by allegedly playing the race card, driving a wedge through the white population bringing him primarily those uneducated white masses, where college educated whites tended to be Progressive and leaning heavily toward the Clinton camp.
He used graphs to make his point, some from Pew Research and others from the Huffington Post and other sources. The graphs were somewhat myopic, using a short time frame from about 2008 to present. His case was that President Obama talked of race less than any other President, and 5 of his 8 years in office were periods of relative racial harmony, with outliers primarily conservative Republicans, who had more negative viewpoints on race, gender, and ethnic issues. It showed that the Democrat Party embraced unfettered immigration, amnesty for undocumented immigrants, Muslim immigration, abortion on demand, Social Justice issues, and political correctness. On the flip side, the Republican Party embraced limited legal immigration, and end to illegal immigration, building the wall, anti-abortion, were against unvetted Muslim immigration, and were anti-PC. The crux of his argument was that this rift, this partisanship polarized the election cycle and gave Mr. Trump a pathway to victory based entirely on racist ideology that his base, uneducated whites would readily embrace in lockstep to propel him to victory.
I found this thesis simplistic, and not necessarily one that would stand up to history, when taking a bigger timeline into consideration. Further, I thought that his statement that President Obama mentioned race less than any other President to be ignoring the actual history of his Presidency, especially the last 3 years of his term. Let’s take a look at a graph identifying racism over the last 17 years in the USA:
From this graph you can see that in 2014 an uptick in racial worries in the USA. Why did this happen? In his last 3 years in office, President Obama more than doubled down with the race card, using it to preach to everyone about police racial brutality, racial bias in white society, and making almost every issue about race. In fact, his racial comments on police shootings were immediate, without any evidence, and almost every time wrong in conclusions. Before the facts where known, President Obama was quoted “If I had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon Martin”. We all know how that eventually ended, and Obama’s comments escalated from that point on. Indeed, he also brought the Muslim Brotherhood, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy people into the White House, further pushing blue collar people away from his support, and infuriating the conservative movement. But was this all about race, as Mr. Tesler contends? Let’s look at a Pew Survey graph that he did not include in his presentation:
It appears that those people that voted Republican do not have race on their minds in any great degree after all. This graph shows that race is by and large an issue that the Democrats own, and in fact keep alive for their own benefit. It has long been a strategy of the Democrat party to divide our population into disparate groups (LGBT, black, Hispanic, women, etc…) in order to play the Identity Politics game, a political strategy that they invented and historically worked so well for them. It appears that they will have to consider a new way to appeal to the masses, because this strategy appears to be backfiring on them at this point in time.
Primarily white blue collar workers were traditionally Democrat voters. They went to the Republican camp because the Democrat Party left them, not the other way around. Nothing in the Democrat platform was working to improve their lives, and they went another direction for a good reason. This was not about racism, it was in many of their minds about survival, both personal and as a country. It can be said that ignoring this very large voting block was a primary reason for President Trumps victory, and it had little to do with race.
Mr. Tesler spent a lot of time on the so called “Diploma Divide”. He pointed out that many white educated voters went with the Hillary Clinton Campaign, and that the uneducated masses of white voters went to the Donald Trump Campaign. The insinuation was that Clinton attracted the smart people, those in the know, and the Trump Campaign picked up those that did not know what they were doing. 39.4% of the working and voting population have at least a 2 year college degree. That leaves 60.6% without any degree. This “divide” seems to be a fatal strategic error on the part of the Clinton Campaign. Ignoring a voting block that comprises the biggest population group in the USA is just plain bad politics, and has little if anything to do with overt racism, unless of course one reads racism into the heart of Identity Politics.
Mr. Tesler’s focus on what he called candidate Trump’s “Muslim Ban” was just plain wrong. There never was a call for a Muslim ban, there was a call for a temporary ban on immigration and visitation from select Muslim countries that are hotbeds for terrorism, in order to put together a proper plan for vetting people from those countries. This was not racism, it was common sense, the type of realistic thinking that cannot happen in a system steeped with political correctness. Further, it was an abject admission by candidate Trump that if he were to be elected, PC would suffer a well deserved death from political and social speech, and that resonated with those that decided to support him. Many citizens have been tired of PC in our culture, and had been praying for relief from the shackles of political correctness, and Donald Trump was promising that!
His presentation also intimated that only whites were racist. That is absolutely wrong and antithetical to reality. There is ingrained racial bias in every soul. In fact, diversity as it is celebrated in our country is an attribute that is hard to come by, and something that has to be aspired to with open hearts and minds. It is not the natural state of the human mind, and eons of cultural bias needs to be chopped away to have the American culture embrace this disparate concept. We are trying and for the most part it is working, and if we can make it work seamlessly, it will be the first time in human history that it will have been achieved.
We were told by the Obama Administration that manufacturing jobs would never come back. We were told that we would never see growth rates with GDP of 3% or higher ever again. We were told that we were going to stop using hydrocarbon fuel, close coal mines, eliminate oil drilling, and only use renewable energy. This we were told was the new normal, a new world where we won’t see strong economy, and will need to reconsider lifestyles and living spaces in order to adjust to this societal shift. Donald Trump painted another vision, one where America could be great again. One where manufacturing jobs would come back, one where the economy would grow, and one where the market, not government would make economic decisions for the American people. The people voted, not because of racism, but because of vision, and Donald Trumps vision of America won the day.
At the end of the presentation, Mr. Tesler allowed 3 questions from the audience. One question stood out, asked by a young woman student. Her question was this: “I know people that voted for Donald Trump and claim they are not racist. How can I convince them that they are racists? I’m from the Midwest and many people there are Donald Trump supporters.” The question is very telling, making the assumption that anyone that ever voted for Donald Trump is by association a racist. That in itself is a sad commentary on the state of our University educational system. I found it quite telling not only with that question, but with the premise that people with college degrees vote Progressive, and somehow voting for Donald Trump is something that only those with lesser minds and a proclivity for racism would consider. Quite elitist, don’t you think?