Category: Peter Skurkiss

The Trials and Tribulations of the Transgenders


In today’s public dialogue, there’s a lot of talk back and forth over the transgender issue. And why not? Transgenderism has been made into a cause celebre by the cultural elite. Many, myself included, view this as part of the ongoing effort by the Left to separate America from God and tradition. For that reason, it is worthwhile to delve a little deeper into the issue than what is normally provided by what is claimed by transgender people themselves.

 

To begin with, the clinical term for transgenderism is ‘gender dysphoria.’ It is defined as the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex. The American Psychiatric Association  says this conflict in gender affects people in different ways. There are those who want to express their perceived gender in their behavior, mannerisms and dress. Accordingly, some male-to-female transgenders seem to be satisfied cross-dressing, painting their finger and toe nails and whatnot. Others however, opt to go further with hormone treatments and what is delicately called transition sex-change surgeries. 

 

The Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the bible of the psychiatric community, provides guidelines for diagnosing gender dysphoria for 1) children and 2) adults and adolescents. For the latter, it boils down to a strong desire to be of the other sex and to have society to accept that as so. It is gratifying at least to see that psychiatrists recognize gender dysphoria as a mental disorder.

 

Unfortunately, the psychiatric treatment for gender dysphoria calls for alleviating the anxiety associated with this mental disorder rather than addressing its core issue. It’s as if a patient thinks he’s a dog, and part of his treatment would be to put a collar on him and give him a few Milk Bone dog biscuits as a reward for good behavior. Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but it illustrates the point. 

 

Current treatment for gender dysphoria is premised on the belief that cosmetic changes will relieve the symptoms and hence cure the disorder. For a male-to-female transition, sex change surgery is called vaginoplasty. This YouTube animated link of the vaginoplasty operation can make men queasy to watch, for it is an extreme re-engineering of the male sex organ. As you can well imagine, this operation is not just complicated; it is also irreversible. For a female-to-male transition, the surgical procedures can be gleaned from this short YouTube animation.

 

It should not come as a surprise that these radical procedures can lead to many horrific complications and often require follow-up surgeries and many sessions on a psychiatrist’s couch. This link  gives the story of two people going male-to-female, two going the other way, and the post-op problems they’ve had. Take the case of Hunter. Of this male-to-female person, it is written: “Instead of the vagina she had always longed for, Hunter has what she called a ‘fibrous lump between my legs and a colostomy bag.’ Everything she read online and in an information packet, everything her surgeon told her, led her to believe the chances of complications were at best remote.” Or take the case of Gary who went the female-to-male route and now needs two catheters and complains about not being able to pee standing up.

 

Interestingly, all four of these people aren’t all that sorry about having their surgeries. At most, they seem to regret picking the wrong surgeon. This speaks volumes of the depth of their mental instability. 

 

Transgender genital surgery is dangerous. And for what? It is reported that many of the recipients of genital operations admit to not being cured of their gender dysphoria. 

 

In addition to surgery there is hormone therapy. That is, female-to-male trans people are given testosterone shots while male-to-female ones get estrogen. Both of these hormones are powerful actors in the human body where they affect a myriad of chemical reactions. A normal female will have some testosterone in her and a normal male will have have some estrogen. To be healthy, these hormones must be kept in proper balance for the gender involved. Playing God by monkeying around with hormones is asking for trouble. Perhaps that explains why those undergoing hormone treatment for cosmetic reasons experience high rates of depression, anger and general unhappiness. A traditionalist would say that they people are at war with their bodies.

 

In an ironic twist further aggravating the situation is the fact that hormone therapy does not lead to much of an appearance change in adults. What research is available on this subject indicates that for it to be effective, the treatment must begin before puberty is reached. For adults, it’s usually too late.

 

As has often times been noted, all the surgery and hormone treatments in the world cannot change the chromosomal makeup of each of the trillion of cells in a person’s body. For males, the chromosome pair is XY and females it’s XX. Given that fact and the problems in transitioning into another gender with surgery and/or hormone treatments, it is little wonder then that those with gender dysphoria have a 41% rate for suicides or attempted suicides compared with just 4.6% of the general population.

 

For a particularly enlightening view of the absurdity of transgendering, here’s a story from the Federalist website of one person who tried it while on active military service and his negative views on the matter. Jamie Shupe writes, 

 

“The sex change process is inherently and fatally flawed because even if science eventually proves transgender people are more than the sum of their currently visible and measurable birth biology, this would make them intersex — a mixture of male and female. It would not make transgender persons the complete opposite sex.


 


Nor should the military be involved in attempting to medically shoehorn trans service members into the opposite sex, something at which they can’t possibly succeed. Because of the ‘at best’ case of mixed male and female biology in this scenario, the transgender person will always be plagued by gender dysphoria. It’s the equivalent of claiming a mixed-race person can be made white or black by a medical treatment.”

 

Shupe uses a useful term here that I haven’t heard before in describing transgender people — intersex. This implies that these poor souls who undergo sex change surgeries and heavy hormone treatments are neither fish nor fowl. Biologically and scientifically speaking, that is correct. 

 

And ‘poor souls’ also describes many transgender people. These people have a problem (gender dysphoria), and they are being encouraged by powerful cultural forces in society to mutilate and distort their bodies in trying to become something they can’t. Of course, those who are egging them on have their own agenda which is not the best interest of the gender-conflicted. But this is a common tactic of the progressive Left. Causalities on the road to Utopia do not trouble them in the least. As Joe Stalin said, you have the break a few eggs to make an omelet.

In today’s public dialogue, there’s a lot of talk back and forth over the transgender issue. And why not? Transgenderism has been made into a cause celebre by the cultural elite. Many, myself included, view this as part of the ongoing effort by the Left to separate America from God and tradition. For that reason, it is worthwhile to delve a little deeper into the issue than what is normally provided by what is claimed by transgender people themselves.

 

To begin with, the clinical term for transgenderism is ‘gender dysphoria.’ It is defined as the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex. The American Psychiatric Association  says this conflict in gender affects people in different ways. There are those who want to express their perceived gender in their behavior, mannerisms and dress. Accordingly, some male-to-female transgenders seem to be satisfied cross-dressing, painting their finger and toe nails and whatnot. Others however, opt to go further with hormone treatments and what is delicately called transition sex-change surgeries. 

 

The Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the bible of the psychiatric community, provides guidelines for diagnosing gender dysphoria for 1) children and 2) adults and adolescents. For the latter, it boils down to a strong desire to be of the other sex and to have society to accept that as so. It is gratifying at least to see that psychiatrists recognize gender dysphoria as a mental disorder.

 

Unfortunately, the psychiatric treatment for gender dysphoria calls for alleviating the anxiety associated with this mental disorder rather than addressing its core issue. It’s as if a patient thinks he’s a dog, and part of his treatment would be to put a collar on him and give him a few Milk Bone dog biscuits as a reward for good behavior. Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but it illustrates the point. 

 

Current treatment for gender dysphoria is premised on the belief that cosmetic changes will relieve the symptoms and hence cure the disorder. For a male-to-female transition, sex change surgery is called vaginoplasty. This YouTube animated link of the vaginoplasty operation can make men queasy to watch, for it is an extreme re-engineering of the male sex organ. As you can well imagine, this operation is not just complicated; it is also irreversible. For a female-to-male transition, the surgical procedures can be gleaned from this short YouTube animation.

 

It should not come as a surprise that these radical procedures can lead to many horrific complications and often require follow-up surgeries and many sessions on a psychiatrist’s couch. This link  gives the story of two people going male-to-female, two going the other way, and the post-op problems they’ve had. Take the case of Hunter. Of this male-to-female person, it is written: “Instead of the vagina she had always longed for, Hunter has what she called a ‘fibrous lump between my legs and a colostomy bag.’ Everything she read online and in an information packet, everything her surgeon told her, led her to believe the chances of complications were at best remote.” Or take the case of Gary who went the female-to-male route and now needs two catheters and complains about not being able to pee standing up.

 

Interestingly, all four of these people aren’t all that sorry about having their surgeries. At most, they seem to regret picking the wrong surgeon. This speaks volumes of the depth of their mental instability. 

 

Transgender genital surgery is dangerous. And for what? It is reported that many of the recipients of genital operations admit to not being cured of their gender dysphoria. 

 

In addition to surgery there is hormone therapy. That is, female-to-male trans people are given testosterone shots while male-to-female ones get estrogen. Both of these hormones are powerful actors in the human body where they affect a myriad of chemical reactions. A normal female will have some testosterone in her and a normal male will have have some estrogen. To be healthy, these hormones must be kept in proper balance for the gender involved. Playing God by monkeying around with hormones is asking for trouble. Perhaps that explains why those undergoing hormone treatment for cosmetic reasons experience high rates of depression, anger and general unhappiness. A traditionalist would say that they people are at war with their bodies.

 

In an ironic twist further aggravating the situation is the fact that hormone therapy does not lead to much of an appearance change in adults. What research is available on this subject indicates that for it to be effective, the treatment must begin before puberty is reached. For adults, it’s usually too late.

 

As has often times been noted, all the surgery and hormone treatments in the world cannot change the chromosomal makeup of each of the trillion of cells in a person’s body. For males, the chromosome pair is XY and females it’s XX. Given that fact and the problems in transitioning into another gender with surgery and/or hormone treatments, it is little wonder then that those with gender dysphoria have a 41% rate for suicides or attempted suicides compared with just 4.6% of the general population.

 

For a particularly enlightening view of the absurdity of transgendering, here’s a story from the Federalist website of one person who tried it while on active military service and his negative views on the matter. Jamie Shupe writes, 

 

“The sex change process is inherently and fatally flawed because even if science eventually proves transgender people are more than the sum of their currently visible and measurable birth biology, this would make them intersex — a mixture of male and female. It would not make transgender persons the complete opposite sex.


 


Nor should the military be involved in attempting to medically shoehorn trans service members into the opposite sex, something at which they can’t possibly succeed. Because of the ‘at best’ case of mixed male and female biology in this scenario, the transgender person will always be plagued by gender dysphoria. It’s the equivalent of claiming a mixed-race person can be made white or black by a medical treatment.”

 

Shupe uses a useful term here that I haven’t heard before in describing transgender people — intersex. This implies that these poor souls who undergo sex change surgeries and heavy hormone treatments are neither fish nor fowl. Biologically and scientifically speaking, that is correct. 

 

And ‘poor souls’ also describes many transgender people. These people have a problem (gender dysphoria), and they are being encouraged by powerful cultural forces in society to mutilate and distort their bodies in trying to become something they can’t. Of course, those who are egging them on have their own agenda which is not the best interest of the gender-conflicted. But this is a common tactic of the progressive Left. Causalities on the road to Utopia do not trouble them in the least. As Joe Stalin said, you have the break a few eggs to make an omelet.



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What Should Trump's Litmus Test Be for Judges?


For longer then I care to remember, judicial appointments have been politicized. This unfortunate situation was started by Democrats. In a form of half-hearted self-defense, it has been mimicked by the GOP.  But as is the case of much in life, the initiator has an inherent advantage and knows how to play the game better than copycats.

Proof?

While there have been a number of very commendable Supreme Court picks by the GOP — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Anthony Scalia, and Neil Gorsuch — there have also been dubious ones such as Anthony Kennedy (Reagan), John Paul Stevens, (Ford), Sandra Day O’Connor (Reagan), and David Souter (George H. Bush). 

 

The uninformed might say, “Some good, some bad. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that the Democrats never nominate a loser to their cause, never one who will let the written law and intent of the Constitution stand in their way of legislating from the bench. This makes the contest asymmetric. It’s like going to a casino with the Democrats being the house. The odds, albeit they might be small, are always in favor of the establishment. And because of that seemingly insignificant advantage, on average, players (conservatives) are guaranteed to go home with far less than they came in with. 

 

But with the coming of Donald Trump, things are changing. And it’s not just the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He’s just the tip of emerging conservative awareness on the importance of the courts, so many of which are quite frankly out of control  A lot of this has to do with Trump himself. He’s a man who is willing to break out of old molds, or as Victor Davis Hanson puts it, cut Gordian knots.

 

Plus, Trump made the judiciary a focal point in his successful campaign for the presidency. Furthermore, the president repeatedly has stated that he aims to make reforming the courts a major part of his legacy.

 

When it comes to the federal courts, Trump is a man who thinks big. His objective is nothing less than to end the progressive state, much of which is based on extra-constitutional judicial activism. In doing so, the president has deviated from the path of his Republican predecessors. In the past, if a Republican president posed a litmus test for judicial appointments, it would be on a single issue, usually a social issue such as right to life. 

 

For better or worse, however, it has been more or less conceded that homosexual marriage is settled law and that Roe v. Wade is not going to be overturned. So now, under Trump’s directive, the conservative lawyers complying lists for possible court picks have a new litmus test by which to screen candidates. The president is looking for men and women who will challenge “the broad power federal agencies have to interrupt laws and enforce regulations, often without being subject to judicial oversight. Those who are not on board with this agenda, the White House has said, are unlikely to be nominated by the president.”

 

If successful, this court strategy, in conjunction with cabinet picks like Scott Pruitt at the EPA, will significantly shrink the body of federal regulations and policies that touch almost every aspect of American life. This has been a dream of conservatives since the days of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal — a roll back of the size and scope of the federal government. Trump’s action on judges is tantamount to a political hurricane of Category 5. 

 

The seemingly downgrading of social issues has not bothered social conservatives who have expressed nothing but delight at Trump’s nominees. Part of the explanation is that judges who are skeptical of the power of the bureaucracy are also likely to limit radical social policies mandated by liberal courts and enforced by federal muscle.

 

Because of vacancies, Trump could conceivably handpicked over 30-percent of the country’s federal judges before his first term is over. Since his nominees tend to be relatively young, a Trump federal judiciary will benefit the country for years to come. The Democrats know this. And because their leftist, America degrading agenda has a low probability of legitimately passing legislatively, the Democrats obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, hoping victory for them in the 2018 election will dent Trump’s court reform effort.

 

The 2018 election is vital for yet another reason. One can speculate with a fair amount of confidence that one of the reasons frail Supreme Court justices such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Anthony Kennedy are still hanging around is the hope a Democrat-controlled senate will attenuate Trump’s future nominees to the high court. If that were to happen, it would be a setback.

 

None of what is written here is esoteric. It’s known by one and all. This is why the behavior of the #nevertrump crowd and the those who demand conservative purity from Republican candidates is so puzzling, so counter-productive. It’s a phenomenon explainable only perhaps by a psychiatrist. Hopefully more studied minds will prevail come November.

For longer then I care to remember, judicial appointments have been politicized. This unfortunate situation was started by Democrats. In a form of half-hearted self-defense, it has been mimicked by the GOP.  But as is the case of much in life, the initiator has an inherent advantage and knows how to play the game better than copycats.

Proof?

While there have been a number of very commendable Supreme Court picks by the GOP — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Anthony Scalia, and Neil Gorsuch — there have also been dubious ones such as Anthony Kennedy (Reagan), John Paul Stevens, (Ford), Sandra Day O’Connor (Reagan), and David Souter (George H. Bush). 

 

The uninformed might say, “Some good, some bad. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that the Democrats never nominate a loser to their cause, never one who will let the written law and intent of the Constitution stand in their way of legislating from the bench. This makes the contest asymmetric. It’s like going to a casino with the Democrats being the house. The odds, albeit they might be small, are always in favor of the establishment. And because of that seemingly insignificant advantage, on average, players (conservatives) are guaranteed to go home with far less than they came in with. 

 

But with the coming of Donald Trump, things are changing. And it’s not just the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He’s just the tip of emerging conservative awareness on the importance of the courts, so many of which are quite frankly out of control  A lot of this has to do with Trump himself. He’s a man who is willing to break out of old molds, or as Victor Davis Hanson puts it, cut Gordian knots.

 

Plus, Trump made the judiciary a focal point in his successful campaign for the presidency. Furthermore, the president repeatedly has stated that he aims to make reforming the courts a major part of his legacy.

 

When it comes to the federal courts, Trump is a man who thinks big. His objective is nothing less than to end the progressive state, much of which is based on extra-constitutional judicial activism. In doing so, the president has deviated from the path of his Republican predecessors. In the past, if a Republican president posed a litmus test for judicial appointments, it would be on a single issue, usually a social issue such as right to life. 

 

For better or worse, however, it has been more or less conceded that homosexual marriage is settled law and that Roe v. Wade is not going to be overturned. So now, under Trump’s directive, the conservative lawyers complying lists for possible court picks have a new litmus test by which to screen candidates. The president is looking for men and women who will challenge “the broad power federal agencies have to interrupt laws and enforce regulations, often without being subject to judicial oversight. Those who are not on board with this agenda, the White House has said, are unlikely to be nominated by the president.”

 

If successful, this court strategy, in conjunction with cabinet picks like Scott Pruitt at the EPA, will significantly shrink the body of federal regulations and policies that touch almost every aspect of American life. This has been a dream of conservatives since the days of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal — a roll back of the size and scope of the federal government. Trump’s action on judges is tantamount to a political hurricane of Category 5. 

 

The seemingly downgrading of social issues has not bothered social conservatives who have expressed nothing but delight at Trump’s nominees. Part of the explanation is that judges who are skeptical of the power of the bureaucracy are also likely to limit radical social policies mandated by liberal courts and enforced by federal muscle.

 

Because of vacancies, Trump could conceivably handpicked over 30-percent of the country’s federal judges before his first term is over. Since his nominees tend to be relatively young, a Trump federal judiciary will benefit the country for years to come. The Democrats know this. And because their leftist, America degrading agenda has a low probability of legitimately passing legislatively, the Democrats obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, hoping victory for them in the 2018 election will dent Trump’s court reform effort.

 

The 2018 election is vital for yet another reason. One can speculate with a fair amount of confidence that one of the reasons frail Supreme Court justices such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Anthony Kennedy are still hanging around is the hope a Democrat-controlled senate will attenuate Trump’s future nominees to the high court. If that were to happen, it would be a setback.

 

None of what is written here is esoteric. It’s known by one and all. This is why the behavior of the #nevertrump crowd and the those who demand conservative purity from Republican candidates is so puzzling, so counter-productive. It’s a phenomenon explainable only perhaps by a psychiatrist. Hopefully more studied minds will prevail come November.



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Trump's Strange Allies


Donald Trump has some strange domestic allies.  For want of a better term, call them the Bernie Sanders crowd (BSC).

Before you scoff, hear me out.  And for the record, this is not a dig at Trump.  Rather it is an observation of the inherent attractiveness of MAGA.

The BSC is different from the established left, which is epitomized by dinosaurs like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Democratic Party.  This became evident in the 2016 primaries, when the Democratic National Committee (DNC), under the inept leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, clumsily rigged primary elections and caucuses to ensure that Hillary Clinton won the party’s nomination. 

Although glossed over by the liberal media, that wound never healed.  In fact, an argument can be made that the BSC was decisive in electing Donald Trump.  Some 12 percent of those who voted for crazy Bernie in the primary ended up voting for Trump in November.  Many others stayed home on election day.  And then there were those who went off the reservation entirely and cast their ballots for Jill Stein of the Green Party.  All this helped Trump win.

So what accounts for this chasm between the BSC and the Democratic Party establishment?  A starting point is that the Sanders people are relatively young.  They come from the Millennial generation, which is generally defined as those between the ages of 20 and 35 in 2016.  The Millennials are 76 million strong, and they now slightly outnumber the Baby Boomers. 

A second point of dispute is that the BSC is not excited by the identity politics of race, sex, and gender, which is the bread and butter of the Democratic Party.  Their focus is instead centered on pocketbook issues.  Granted, a good percentage of these young people tilt toward socialism.  What motivates them the most are issues like free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage, universal Medicare coverage, soak-the-rich tax rates, and other pipe dreams.  One could sum up this outlook as wanting to stay in a cocoon like what their parents provided for them…forever.  “Snowflakes” is the term often applied to many of them.

The Sanders left also has a deep distrust for the financial, academic, and cultural elites, whereas the establishment left is more than tied to the institutions that these elites dominate.  They are those institutions.  The BSC also resents big corporations, Wall Street, and the media.  Again, these entities are mainstays of the Democratic Party.

This is not to say there isn’t considerable overlap between the BSC and the Pelosi-Schumer Democratic Party.  There is on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, gun control, tax-the-rich, gender flexibility, weak religious faith, and the like, but not so much on immigration. 

As to trade and tariffs, the Sanders left is anti-globalism and against what is commonly called free trade.  It’s not for nothing that Sanders himself has come out in support of Trump’s efforts to rearrange the trading system to be more in alignment with American interests.  He even tacitly said he supports Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs. 

The BSC has even more overlap with Trump.  The Millennials are decidedly against nation-building and foreign adventures.  And they view the Washington swamp with complete disdain because they see the swamp as being elitist and a drag on their aspirations. 

There will never be a political marriage between Donald Trump and crazy Bernie.  But that doesn’t preclude many of the BSC sneaking under the sheets to find warm comfort in the Trump agenda.  Why?  Because although the Millennials have been indoctrinated from kindergarten through college with the dogmas of liberalism, self-interest will eventually prevail.  

The Millennials are young.  They want decent careers and a chance for the lifestyle their parents had.  It may take them some time, but sooner or later, it will dawn on many (not all) of them that the only chance to obtain that is with Trump’s MAGA agenda and not the policies of the Democratic Party.   

Some might argue that the allure of the free lunch of socialism will tightly tether the BSC to the left.  No doubt it will for a number of them.  But for many others, they will come to see Barack Obama’s “Life of Julia” for the lie it is.  The Millennials will realize in time that 1) only so many can fit in the hammock of government dependency before it breaks and 2) socialism can never expanded America’s wealth; it can only diminish it, as it has everywhere it has been tried.

Critics of my view will point out news headlines that show the BSC disrupting colleges and screaming in the streets as proof of the hopelessness of the Millennials.  But ask yourself: who is presenting those pictures?  It’s the liberal media, and as always, the media have an agenda.  Just like the dishonest polls the media peddle, here the media are attempting to form opinion rather than report.

Don’t misunderstand.  I am not saying that such disruptions don’t take place.  What I am saying is that they are unrepresentative of the greater Millennial population.  When conservatives like Ann Coulter, Charles Murray, and Ben Shapiro get hooted down at a campus event, the lynch mob is not students in a STEM or business program.  Neither are they college jocks, ex-servicemen in college, or students working to pay their tuition.  If the disruptors are students at all, they come for the most part from the small whackadoodle departments on campus, egged on by a left-wing professor.  Some protesters might even have Soros money in their pockets.  As is always the case, the media will never give the public a true picture. 

The BSC will surely not come out en masse for Trump in 2020.  But neither will they be there as a monolithic voting bloc, as, say, blacks are, for any establishment Democrat.  To capture more of the BSC or at last to dissuade them from voting the Democrat line as happened in 2016, Trump does not have to accommodate their socialistic proclivities.  He merely has to keep hammering away at jobs and target messages to the Millennials of how MAGA improves the economic environment and opportunities for them.  It’s all going to come down to the economy.  My betting is that Trump can do it.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

Donald Trump has some strange domestic allies.  For want of a better term, call them the Bernie Sanders crowd (BSC).

Before you scoff, hear me out.  And for the record, this is not a dig at Trump.  Rather it is an observation of the inherent attractiveness of MAGA.

The BSC is different from the established left, which is epitomized by dinosaurs like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Democratic Party.  This became evident in the 2016 primaries, when the Democratic National Committee (DNC), under the inept leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, clumsily rigged primary elections and caucuses to ensure that Hillary Clinton won the party’s nomination. 

Although glossed over by the liberal media, that wound never healed.  In fact, an argument can be made that the BSC was decisive in electing Donald Trump.  Some 12 percent of those who voted for crazy Bernie in the primary ended up voting for Trump in November.  Many others stayed home on election day.  And then there were those who went off the reservation entirely and cast their ballots for Jill Stein of the Green Party.  All this helped Trump win.

So what accounts for this chasm between the BSC and the Democratic Party establishment?  A starting point is that the Sanders people are relatively young.  They come from the Millennial generation, which is generally defined as those between the ages of 20 and 35 in 2016.  The Millennials are 76 million strong, and they now slightly outnumber the Baby Boomers. 

A second point of dispute is that the BSC is not excited by the identity politics of race, sex, and gender, which is the bread and butter of the Democratic Party.  Their focus is instead centered on pocketbook issues.  Granted, a good percentage of these young people tilt toward socialism.  What motivates them the most are issues like free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage, universal Medicare coverage, soak-the-rich tax rates, and other pipe dreams.  One could sum up this outlook as wanting to stay in a cocoon like what their parents provided for them…forever.  “Snowflakes” is the term often applied to many of them.

The Sanders left also has a deep distrust for the financial, academic, and cultural elites, whereas the establishment left is more than tied to the institutions that these elites dominate.  They are those institutions.  The BSC also resents big corporations, Wall Street, and the media.  Again, these entities are mainstays of the Democratic Party.

This is not to say there isn’t considerable overlap between the BSC and the Pelosi-Schumer Democratic Party.  There is on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, gun control, tax-the-rich, gender flexibility, weak religious faith, and the like, but not so much on immigration. 

As to trade and tariffs, the Sanders left is anti-globalism and against what is commonly called free trade.  It’s not for nothing that Sanders himself has come out in support of Trump’s efforts to rearrange the trading system to be more in alignment with American interests.  He even tacitly said he supports Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs. 

The BSC has even more overlap with Trump.  The Millennials are decidedly against nation-building and foreign adventures.  And they view the Washington swamp with complete disdain because they see the swamp as being elitist and a drag on their aspirations. 

There will never be a political marriage between Donald Trump and crazy Bernie.  But that doesn’t preclude many of the BSC sneaking under the sheets to find warm comfort in the Trump agenda.  Why?  Because although the Millennials have been indoctrinated from kindergarten through college with the dogmas of liberalism, self-interest will eventually prevail.  

The Millennials are young.  They want decent careers and a chance for the lifestyle their parents had.  It may take them some time, but sooner or later, it will dawn on many (not all) of them that the only chance to obtain that is with Trump’s MAGA agenda and not the policies of the Democratic Party.   

Some might argue that the allure of the free lunch of socialism will tightly tether the BSC to the left.  No doubt it will for a number of them.  But for many others, they will come to see Barack Obama’s “Life of Julia” for the lie it is.  The Millennials will realize in time that 1) only so many can fit in the hammock of government dependency before it breaks and 2) socialism can never expanded America’s wealth; it can only diminish it, as it has everywhere it has been tried.

Critics of my view will point out news headlines that show the BSC disrupting colleges and screaming in the streets as proof of the hopelessness of the Millennials.  But ask yourself: who is presenting those pictures?  It’s the liberal media, and as always, the media have an agenda.  Just like the dishonest polls the media peddle, here the media are attempting to form opinion rather than report.

Don’t misunderstand.  I am not saying that such disruptions don’t take place.  What I am saying is that they are unrepresentative of the greater Millennial population.  When conservatives like Ann Coulter, Charles Murray, and Ben Shapiro get hooted down at a campus event, the lynch mob is not students in a STEM or business program.  Neither are they college jocks, ex-servicemen in college, or students working to pay their tuition.  If the disruptors are students at all, they come for the most part from the small whackadoodle departments on campus, egged on by a left-wing professor.  Some protesters might even have Soros money in their pockets.  As is always the case, the media will never give the public a true picture. 

The BSC will surely not come out en masse for Trump in 2020.  But neither will they be there as a monolithic voting bloc, as, say, blacks are, for any establishment Democrat.  To capture more of the BSC or at last to dissuade them from voting the Democrat line as happened in 2016, Trump does not have to accommodate their socialistic proclivities.  He merely has to keep hammering away at jobs and target messages to the Millennials of how MAGA improves the economic environment and opportunities for them.  It’s all going to come down to the economy.  My betting is that Trump can do it.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.



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Male-to-Female Transgenders in Women's Sports


To get a feel for the level of craziness of today’s world, take a look at sports – women’s sports in particular.  It is on the cusp of being turned upside-down because of the rise and societal acceptance of the phenomenon known as “transgenderism.”

“Transitioning from male to female” does not make a man into a woman.  In spite of any cosmetic surgery, hormone treatments, affected mannerisms, and so on, the cellular DNA of the body does not change.  A man is still a man.

As this relates to women athletics, it doesn’t take a detective of Nero Wolfe’s caliber to see where transgenderism has to clash with feminism and, more significantly, with common sense and science.  Men who have “transitioned” into “women” now want to participate in women’s sports.  What could go wrong with that?  At present, this is happening here and there.  But one has to sense that once a critical point has been reached, through a radical court decision or through some other such event, the floodgates will open. 

As nutty as the feminists can be, you’ve never heard them carry their egalitarian ideology to its logical conclusion by demanding the elimination of the differentiation between men and women in sports.  The fems don’t want one swim team, one basketball team, one golf or volleyball team for a college.  Of course not.  If that were to happen, precious few women would participate in sports.  The feminists want collegiate women’s sport teams and men’s teams, albeit under Title IX funding restrictions.

At this early stage of the problem, how are the powers that be finessing the transgender matter? 

In 2003, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled that it is fair for transgender athletes to compete in the Olympics, providing that they undergo hormone replacement therapy for at least two years prior to competition, have genital reconstruction surgery to reflect the sex with which they identified, and change their sex classification on all legal documents. 

But that was too restrictive, so the conditions were loosened up.  

In November 2015, less than a year before the Rio Olympics, the IOC changed its requirement in an attempt to make the 2016 Games more inclusive after determining that men do not pose an unfair advantage to women in sports as long as their testosterone levels are consistent with those of female athletes.  The IOC also ruled that surgically altering the genitals is unnecessary, as it makes little to no impact on an athlete’s performance.

Speaking of the Olympics, the 2020 Games might just be the event that triggers the flood.  Case in point is one Tiffany Abreu, 33.  This person is one of the top players in Brazil’s Superliga, the country’s premiere women’s volleyball league.  In less than a month after joining the league last year, Abreu was scoring the highest number of points per game on average.  Then, in January, Abreu broke the record to total points in a single game – 39. 

Abreu took Brazilian volleyball by storm.  The thing is that 6’3″ Abreu is a man, and he even made it into the men’s professional volleyball leagues in Europe before deciding to present himself as a woman in 2012.  As things stand, Abreu appears likely to be on the Brazilian women’s volleyball team for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.  The Olympic Committee says men should have a testosterone level between 0.5 and 3.0 nanomoles per liter to compete with women, and Abreu’s currently measures 0.2.  So everything is jake, right?

Not quite.  Testosterone is just one marker for being a male.  As it relates to sports, height, muscle mass, and the like are also factors.  For a more thorough explanation on this, see The Sports Gene by David Epstein.  And this is tacitly agreed to by even Abreu, who thought a rule could be put in place to limit one man to a women’s team.  But why?  If a man calling himself a woman is a woman, why have a team quota?  I think we all know the answer to that question.

The 2020 Games are slated to be the first Olympics in which athletes openly compete with members of the opposite sex.  Once that genie is out of the bottle, look for the trend to quickly filter down into the collegiate level and even into the professional ranks.  When that happens, there will be an uproar in the church of intersectionality between feminists and the transgenders and their LGBTQ supporters. 

The sad part of this is not that the intersectionalists will tear themselves apart with their own internal contradictions.  That’s good.  No, what is sad is that mainstream society will silently sit by like a bump on a log and allow these groups to hash out among themselves what the guideline for transgender sport participation will be.  In doing so, common sense, science, and the wisdom of everyday people will be pushed aside.  That is not the way a sane world should work.  But as so often has been the case, it is the fringe elements in society that have been allowed to set the guidelines for the rest of us.

To get a feel for the level of craziness of today’s world, take a look at sports – women’s sports in particular.  It is on the cusp of being turned upside-down because of the rise and societal acceptance of the phenomenon known as “transgenderism.”

“Transitioning from male to female” does not make a man into a woman.  In spite of any cosmetic surgery, hormone treatments, affected mannerisms, and so on, the cellular DNA of the body does not change.  A man is still a man.

As this relates to women athletics, it doesn’t take a detective of Nero Wolfe’s caliber to see where transgenderism has to clash with feminism and, more significantly, with common sense and science.  Men who have “transitioned” into “women” now want to participate in women’s sports.  What could go wrong with that?  At present, this is happening here and there.  But one has to sense that once a critical point has been reached, through a radical court decision or through some other such event, the floodgates will open. 

As nutty as the feminists can be, you’ve never heard them carry their egalitarian ideology to its logical conclusion by demanding the elimination of the differentiation between men and women in sports.  The fems don’t want one swim team, one basketball team, one golf or volleyball team for a college.  Of course not.  If that were to happen, precious few women would participate in sports.  The feminists want collegiate women’s sport teams and men’s teams, albeit under Title IX funding restrictions.

At this early stage of the problem, how are the powers that be finessing the transgender matter? 

In 2003, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled that it is fair for transgender athletes to compete in the Olympics, providing that they undergo hormone replacement therapy for at least two years prior to competition, have genital reconstruction surgery to reflect the sex with which they identified, and change their sex classification on all legal documents. 

But that was too restrictive, so the conditions were loosened up.  

In November 2015, less than a year before the Rio Olympics, the IOC changed its requirement in an attempt to make the 2016 Games more inclusive after determining that men do not pose an unfair advantage to women in sports as long as their testosterone levels are consistent with those of female athletes.  The IOC also ruled that surgically altering the genitals is unnecessary, as it makes little to no impact on an athlete’s performance.

Speaking of the Olympics, the 2020 Games might just be the event that triggers the flood.  Case in point is one Tiffany Abreu, 33.  This person is one of the top players in Brazil’s Superliga, the country’s premiere women’s volleyball league.  In less than a month after joining the league last year, Abreu was scoring the highest number of points per game on average.  Then, in January, Abreu broke the record to total points in a single game – 39. 

Abreu took Brazilian volleyball by storm.  The thing is that 6’3″ Abreu is a man, and he even made it into the men’s professional volleyball leagues in Europe before deciding to present himself as a woman in 2012.  As things stand, Abreu appears likely to be on the Brazilian women’s volleyball team for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.  The Olympic Committee says men should have a testosterone level between 0.5 and 3.0 nanomoles per liter to compete with women, and Abreu’s currently measures 0.2.  So everything is jake, right?

Not quite.  Testosterone is just one marker for being a male.  As it relates to sports, height, muscle mass, and the like are also factors.  For a more thorough explanation on this, see The Sports Gene by David Epstein.  And this is tacitly agreed to by even Abreu, who thought a rule could be put in place to limit one man to a women’s team.  But why?  If a man calling himself a woman is a woman, why have a team quota?  I think we all know the answer to that question.

The 2020 Games are slated to be the first Olympics in which athletes openly compete with members of the opposite sex.  Once that genie is out of the bottle, look for the trend to quickly filter down into the collegiate level and even into the professional ranks.  When that happens, there will be an uproar in the church of intersectionality between feminists and the transgenders and their LGBTQ supporters. 

The sad part of this is not that the intersectionalists will tear themselves apart with their own internal contradictions.  That’s good.  No, what is sad is that mainstream society will silently sit by like a bump on a log and allow these groups to hash out among themselves what the guideline for transgender sport participation will be.  In doing so, common sense, science, and the wisdom of everyday people will be pushed aside.  That is not the way a sane world should work.  But as so often has been the case, it is the fringe elements in society that have been allowed to set the guidelines for the rest of us.



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Legalizing Weed for the Sake of Social Justice


The People’s Republic of New Jersey has a new governor. His name is Phil Murphy and he’s a Democrat. In presenting his first budget, Gov. Murphy showed his progressive bona fides by proposing  $2.7 billion in new spending and aiming to raise taxes overall by $1.5 billion.

The bulk of new tax revenue is to come from the governor’s cherished millionaire’s tax, a tax he campaigned heavily on. This tax would be a 10.75-percent hit on income over a million dollars and is aimed at raising $765 million in new revenue. But human nature being what is, one might ask: won’t many of the ‘rich’ to simply flee the Garden State, especially when the effect of the now-$10,000 federal cap on state and local taxes deductions kick in?

Not to worry. The governor says: “I am sure none of them [the rich] are here for low taxes. They are here because we can offer an unmatched quality of life.”  If the governor needs a fig leaf for cover, this is as good as any I suppose.  In any event, time will tell.

Governor Murphy’s soak-the-rich budget, raising the minimum wage to $15, and pouring ever more money into public education is what you would expect from a liberal Democrat. But the amusing part comes with his proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

On one side of his mouth, the governor is drooling at the prospect of increased revenue to Trenton as the state’s treasury gets high on weed revenue to the tune of $60 million to $300 million in sales and excise taxes. And just like the unintended consequences of his millionaire’s tax, Gov. Murphy ignores the likely social cost of state-sanctioned drug use. But that doesn’t matter. In his mind, the governor has the moral high ground. See, he doesn’t want to legalize marijuana for crass economic reasons. Nor is he doing to sooth his inner libertarian spirit, if he has one. Oh no, Murphy wants to legalize cannabis for the sake of social justice.

Huh?

Here’s what the New York Times reported:

During his campaign for governor of New Jersey, Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, pledged to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, telling Democrats at a party conference last year in Atlantic City that creating a new tax revenue was not what was motivating him.


“People ask me all the time, ‘Hey, are you sure you can generate $300 million from the legalization of marijuana?” Mr. Murphy said, citing a figure that his campaign had trumpeted. “I say, ‘You know what, I’m not sure, but that’s not the question. We’re not doing it for the dollars. We’re doing it for social justice.’


Mr. Murphy argues that the disproportionate number of African-Americans who are jailed on marijuana charges is a main reason to legalize the drug, and he has the support of civil rights groups, cannabis business lobbyists, lawyers, doctors who prescribe medical marijuana and out-of-state cannabis growers.

So there you have it. Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, like everything else that enters a liberal’s mind, gets translated into an issue of race.   

But there’s a fly in the governor’s ointment. It is State Senator Ronald L. Rice, a Democrat from Newark, the state’s longest-serving black senator and the leader of its Black Caucus. He thinks legalizing pot would hurt black communities which are already swimming in a heroin-addiction problem. According to him, marijuana stores would spring up in black neighborhoods, much like liquor stores, and produce a new generation of drug abusers. On that point, Rice is no doubt correct. 

Sen. Rice is also against this legalization effort because it would enrich white entrepreneurs (horrors) while creating problems in African-American neighborhoods. It seems the senator also has a race filter in his brain. 

But to give Rice his due, he has proposed his own marijuana bill. It would decriminalize the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana, and make carrying a greater amount a disorderly persons charge that would impose only a fine. It would also expunge criminal records and release incarcerated people serving sentences for possessing small amounts of marijuana. (As an aside, one has to wonder just how many people are imprisoned in ultra-liberal New Jersey for possession of small amounts of marijuana.) 

Objectively speaking, Rice’s proposal would adequately address the ‘social justice’ issue that allegedly is motivating Gov. Murphy. But alas, it would not generate the revenue Murphy is purportedly not interest in. 

To date, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.  It’s hard to recall any of them using social justice for blacks as a prime reason. Here, New Jersey is breaking fresh ground. It makes one wonder how deep Gov. Murphy has drank from the social justice Kool-Aid. If he is presented with statistics showing a disproportionate percentage of blacks are arrested for street-walking, would he then make legalizing prostitution a social justice issue? That would be the logic of his thought process.

A final thought. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The Obama administration let the matter slide and allowed state-level rules to stand. The Trump administration in the person of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making noises to the contrary. But with states like California and many cities openly defying immigration laws, don’t expect a marijuana crackdown by the feds. Adding to that is the fact that, for better or worse, the political constituency for legalization has grown to a force to be reckoned with. It has supporters from the left and the right. Legalization will not be denied, and social justice will not be the reason why.

The People’s Republic of New Jersey has a new governor. His name is Phil Murphy and he’s a Democrat. In presenting his first budget, Gov. Murphy showed his progressive bona fides by proposing  $2.7 billion in new spending and aiming to raise taxes overall by $1.5 billion.

The bulk of new tax revenue is to come from the governor’s cherished millionaire’s tax, a tax he campaigned heavily on. This tax would be a 10.75-percent hit on income over a million dollars and is aimed at raising $765 million in new revenue. But human nature being what is, one might ask: won’t many of the ‘rich’ to simply flee the Garden State, especially when the effect of the now-$10,000 federal cap on state and local taxes deductions kick in?

Not to worry. The governor says: “I am sure none of them [the rich] are here for low taxes. They are here because we can offer an unmatched quality of life.”  If the governor needs a fig leaf for cover, this is as good as any I suppose.  In any event, time will tell.

Governor Murphy’s soak-the-rich budget, raising the minimum wage to $15, and pouring ever more money into public education is what you would expect from a liberal Democrat. But the amusing part comes with his proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

On one side of his mouth, the governor is drooling at the prospect of increased revenue to Trenton as the state’s treasury gets high on weed revenue to the tune of $60 million to $300 million in sales and excise taxes. And just like the unintended consequences of his millionaire’s tax, Gov. Murphy ignores the likely social cost of state-sanctioned drug use. But that doesn’t matter. In his mind, the governor has the moral high ground. See, he doesn’t want to legalize marijuana for crass economic reasons. Nor is he doing to sooth his inner libertarian spirit, if he has one. Oh no, Murphy wants to legalize cannabis for the sake of social justice.

Huh?

Here’s what the New York Times reported:

During his campaign for governor of New Jersey, Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, pledged to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, telling Democrats at a party conference last year in Atlantic City that creating a new tax revenue was not what was motivating him.


“People ask me all the time, ‘Hey, are you sure you can generate $300 million from the legalization of marijuana?” Mr. Murphy said, citing a figure that his campaign had trumpeted. “I say, ‘You know what, I’m not sure, but that’s not the question. We’re not doing it for the dollars. We’re doing it for social justice.’


Mr. Murphy argues that the disproportionate number of African-Americans who are jailed on marijuana charges is a main reason to legalize the drug, and he has the support of civil rights groups, cannabis business lobbyists, lawyers, doctors who prescribe medical marijuana and out-of-state cannabis growers.

So there you have it. Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, like everything else that enters a liberal’s mind, gets translated into an issue of race.   

But there’s a fly in the governor’s ointment. It is State Senator Ronald L. Rice, a Democrat from Newark, the state’s longest-serving black senator and the leader of its Black Caucus. He thinks legalizing pot would hurt black communities which are already swimming in a heroin-addiction problem. According to him, marijuana stores would spring up in black neighborhoods, much like liquor stores, and produce a new generation of drug abusers. On that point, Rice is no doubt correct. 

Sen. Rice is also against this legalization effort because it would enrich white entrepreneurs (horrors) while creating problems in African-American neighborhoods. It seems the senator also has a race filter in his brain. 

But to give Rice his due, he has proposed his own marijuana bill. It would decriminalize the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana, and make carrying a greater amount a disorderly persons charge that would impose only a fine. It would also expunge criminal records and release incarcerated people serving sentences for possessing small amounts of marijuana. (As an aside, one has to wonder just how many people are imprisoned in ultra-liberal New Jersey for possession of small amounts of marijuana.) 

Objectively speaking, Rice’s proposal would adequately address the ‘social justice’ issue that allegedly is motivating Gov. Murphy. But alas, it would not generate the revenue Murphy is purportedly not interest in. 

To date, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.  It’s hard to recall any of them using social justice for blacks as a prime reason. Here, New Jersey is breaking fresh ground. It makes one wonder how deep Gov. Murphy has drank from the social justice Kool-Aid. If he is presented with statistics showing a disproportionate percentage of blacks are arrested for street-walking, would he then make legalizing prostitution a social justice issue? That would be the logic of his thought process.

A final thought. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The Obama administration let the matter slide and allowed state-level rules to stand. The Trump administration in the person of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making noises to the contrary. But with states like California and many cities openly defying immigration laws, don’t expect a marijuana crackdown by the feds. Adding to that is the fact that, for better or worse, the political constituency for legalization has grown to a force to be reckoned with. It has supporters from the left and the right. Legalization will not be denied, and social justice will not be the reason why.



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How Bad Would Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Be, Really?


President Trump has proposed slapping a 10- and 25-percent tariff on aluminum and steel imports, respectively.  The cry from the free trade quarter and the mainstream media is loud, often bordering on hysterical.  They claim that these tariffs will raise consumer prices, hurt the U.S. economy, invite retaliation from other countries, and maybe lead to a trade war reminiscent of the 1930s.

Where to start?  The best place is with the term “free trade” itself.  In reality, these is no “free trade.”  Mouthing the words “free trade” sounds good, so it must be good, right?  Wrong.  What has been passing for free trade is the condition whereby the U.S. markets are kept relatively open while other countries are allowed to put up barriers to our exports and maintain predatory trade practices.  It is this “free trade” that has been grinding American manufacturing down for years and erasing middle-class jobs in the process.

Let’s look at some of the specifics of the steel and aluminum tariffs.  To begin with, there is a global overcapacity in the manufacture of both steel and aluminum.  This has come about because many countries heavily subsidize their industries.  The production goals in said countries are based not on market conditions, but on government policies that typically focus on jobs at home.  This results in too much production.  The excess is then exported abroad, often into the open American market, at artificially low prices – that is, at prices below the cost of manufacture.  In economic circles, this is called dumping, and it has historically been viewed as an unfair trade and predatory trade practice.

The top exporter of aluminum and steel into the U.S. is Canada, a country Trump is hinting at exempting from the tariffs.  This is not just because Canada is our largest overall trading partner, but because the attractive prices of Canada’s steel and aluminum are due to production efficiency – namely, Canadian mills have access to relatively inexpensive hydroelectric electricity.  That’s not the case for the other producers, who should be hit with tariffs.

You may wonder, why have predatory trade practices against the U.S. been allowed to fester for so long?  That’s a question you have to ask the free traders.  Good luck getting an answer. 

Fortunately, Trump is starting to act.  And the recent departure from the administration of economic adviser Gary Cohn – a Democrat, a free trader, and a Wall Street fat cat – is a welcome sign.

Wilber Ross, secretary of commerce, is solid.  He has said the U.S. will no longer be a “patsy” for other countries on trade.  At Davos, he also commented that “[t]here have always been trade wars.  The difference now is U.S. troops are now coming to the ramparts.”  This is exactly what many of our trading partners find highly objectionable: America defending itself.  It’s as if they’ve grown accustomed to going out for dinner and drinks each night and having America always picking up the tab.  It’s a shock for them to hear that the arrangement is coming to an end.

Now let’s look at the effect of the aluminum and steel tariffs on U.S. prices.  Take aluminum.  A 10-percent tariff will raise the cost of the imported metal by at most 10 percent.  And since aluminum has extensive use, the argument goes that this tariff will ripple through the economy and hurt the consumer.  Will it? 

Say a product costs $10 and has $1’s worth of raw aluminum in it.  With the tariff, the cost of the metal rises to $1.10 and the product to $10.10.  How significant is that?

Some concrete examples.  Take airline manufacturing, which is a big aluminum-user, as the planes have aluminum shells.  So what do you suppose is the percentage cost of the raw aluminum in the overall cost of producing a Boeing 777 or any other plane in the Boeing fleet?  It’s minuscule.  It is nearly the same for the car you drive.  Moving down the product sophistication ladder, what is the percent cost of the aluminum in a can of Coors Lite?  It shouldn’t be all that much.

Example after example can be given, and the results will be the same.  In all but a few exceptional cases, like aluminum foil for the kitchen, the cost of the aluminum in the product will be small, in some cases so small that the effect of the tariff might not even be noticeable.  The steel tariff will have more bite, but the argument is the same.  For a building, what percentage of its cost is due to the raw steel in its structure?

This percentage cost of steel and aluminum in products is relatively low because both are commodities – or, if you will, low value-added products (unless they are specialized).  Admittedly, the cost effect of tariffs would be magnified when applied to finished products like cars, TV, iPhones, and high-end sub-assemblies like automotive engines and transmissions.  That’s a story for another time. 

There’s another factor on steel and aluminum which the free traders neglect to address.  As previously stated, for both, there is a global overcapacity.  Under that condition, if these tariffs were imposed, might not the producers eat the tariffs to maintain market share?  To the extent that that happens, the cost of the tariff is transferred from the American consumer to the foreign producer.

Given all this, it is hard to see that President Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum will affect prices all that much.  What probably has the free traders hyperventilating is the thought that these tariffs – like the previous ones on washing machines and solar panels – might lead for a more serious effort by the administration to address a trade arrangement that is skewed against America.  The free traders know they are backing a system that is difficult to defend on its merits and fear that any breach in their position might cascade.  As for the globalists in the free trade camp, they love the status quo because it has the U.S. subsidizing the economies of other countries.  To them, that’s America’s role in life.

President Trump has proposed slapping a 10- and 25-percent tariff on aluminum and steel imports, respectively.  The cry from the free trade quarter and the mainstream media is loud, often bordering on hysterical.  They claim that these tariffs will raise consumer prices, hurt the U.S. economy, invite retaliation from other countries, and maybe lead to a trade war reminiscent of the 1930s.

Where to start?  The best place is with the term “free trade” itself.  In reality, these is no “free trade.”  Mouthing the words “free trade” sounds good, so it must be good, right?  Wrong.  What has been passing for free trade is the condition whereby the U.S. markets are kept relatively open while other countries are allowed to put up barriers to our exports and maintain predatory trade practices.  It is this “free trade” that has been grinding American manufacturing down for years and erasing middle-class jobs in the process.

Let’s look at some of the specifics of the steel and aluminum tariffs.  To begin with, there is a global overcapacity in the manufacture of both steel and aluminum.  This has come about because many countries heavily subsidize their industries.  The production goals in said countries are based not on market conditions, but on government policies that typically focus on jobs at home.  This results in too much production.  The excess is then exported abroad, often into the open American market, at artificially low prices – that is, at prices below the cost of manufacture.  In economic circles, this is called dumping, and it has historically been viewed as an unfair trade and predatory trade practice.

The top exporter of aluminum and steel into the U.S. is Canada, a country Trump is hinting at exempting from the tariffs.  This is not just because Canada is our largest overall trading partner, but because the attractive prices of Canada’s steel and aluminum are due to production efficiency – namely, Canadian mills have access to relatively inexpensive hydroelectric electricity.  That’s not the case for the other producers, who should be hit with tariffs.

You may wonder, why have predatory trade practices against the U.S. been allowed to fester for so long?  That’s a question you have to ask the free traders.  Good luck getting an answer. 

Fortunately, Trump is starting to act.  And the recent departure from the administration of economic adviser Gary Cohn – a Democrat, a free trader, and a Wall Street fat cat – is a welcome sign.

Wilber Ross, secretary of commerce, is solid.  He has said the U.S. will no longer be a “patsy” for other countries on trade.  At Davos, he also commented that “[t]here have always been trade wars.  The difference now is U.S. troops are now coming to the ramparts.”  This is exactly what many of our trading partners find highly objectionable: America defending itself.  It’s as if they’ve grown accustomed to going out for dinner and drinks each night and having America always picking up the tab.  It’s a shock for them to hear that the arrangement is coming to an end.

Now let’s look at the effect of the aluminum and steel tariffs on U.S. prices.  Take aluminum.  A 10-percent tariff will raise the cost of the imported metal by at most 10 percent.  And since aluminum has extensive use, the argument goes that this tariff will ripple through the economy and hurt the consumer.  Will it? 

Say a product costs $10 and has $1’s worth of raw aluminum in it.  With the tariff, the cost of the metal rises to $1.10 and the product to $10.10.  How significant is that?

Some concrete examples.  Take airline manufacturing, which is a big aluminum-user, as the planes have aluminum shells.  So what do you suppose is the percentage cost of the raw aluminum in the overall cost of producing a Boeing 777 or any other plane in the Boeing fleet?  It’s minuscule.  It is nearly the same for the car you drive.  Moving down the product sophistication ladder, what is the percent cost of the aluminum in a can of Coors Lite?  It shouldn’t be all that much.

Example after example can be given, and the results will be the same.  In all but a few exceptional cases, like aluminum foil for the kitchen, the cost of the aluminum in the product will be small, in some cases so small that the effect of the tariff might not even be noticeable.  The steel tariff will have more bite, but the argument is the same.  For a building, what percentage of its cost is due to the raw steel in its structure?

This percentage cost of steel and aluminum in products is relatively low because both are commodities – or, if you will, low value-added products (unless they are specialized).  Admittedly, the cost effect of tariffs would be magnified when applied to finished products like cars, TV, iPhones, and high-end sub-assemblies like automotive engines and transmissions.  That’s a story for another time. 

There’s another factor on steel and aluminum which the free traders neglect to address.  As previously stated, for both, there is a global overcapacity.  Under that condition, if these tariffs were imposed, might not the producers eat the tariffs to maintain market share?  To the extent that that happens, the cost of the tariff is transferred from the American consumer to the foreign producer.

Given all this, it is hard to see that President Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum will affect prices all that much.  What probably has the free traders hyperventilating is the thought that these tariffs – like the previous ones on washing machines and solar panels – might lead for a more serious effort by the administration to address a trade arrangement that is skewed against America.  The free traders know they are backing a system that is difficult to defend on its merits and fear that any breach in their position might cascade.  As for the globalists in the free trade camp, they love the status quo because it has the U.S. subsidizing the economies of other countries.  To them, that’s America’s role in life.



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Why the GOP Needs to Win in November


As much as any other magazine, Foreign Affairs is one whereby the globalists and foreign policy elite within the U.S. speak to one another. Its March/April 2018 edition is devoted to bemoaning the foreign policies of Donald Trump. Needless to say, the authors for that issue are, to varying degree, anti-Trump and horrified at his election. This is neither surprising nor is it newsworthy given the nature of FA. However, some of their thinking, especially from Jake Sullivan and Eliot Cohen. 

At the nub, FA is fearful that President Trump is setting about to disrupt world order which they have carefully crafted since 1945. And for the record, the FA crowd does not use an incendiary term like the New World Order to describe its agenda. They preferred to call it liberal hegemony with the U.S. being the hegemon guided, of course, by their Masters of the Universe-type wisdom

The foundations of this liberal hegemony requires nearly unrestricted trade into American markets, the U.S. military as guarantor of world security, a matrix of alliances, multinational trade agreements, nation building, support for international institutions like the United Nations, unimpeded flow of goods, capital, and people across borders, and the ensuing dilution of U.S. national sovereignty.  A cynic would say much of this amounts to America continuing to inordinately shoulder the burdens of the world as was perhaps necessary in the aftermath of WWII. 

It’s an understatement to say that Trump’s election has ruffled feathers at FA. Still, these globalists find a degree of relief in the fact that the president has been hamstrung in getting many of his policies enacted. FA cites things such as the courts, the media, Congress, insubordinate subordinates, inability to control government agencies, and general inertia. The hope of the FA-types is that they will be able to either outlast Trump, convert him, or wear him down.

Let’s look at Eliot Cohen first. His background includes the dubious distinction as being one of the first neoconservatives who publicly advocated for war against Iraq and Iran. Cohen got his wish in Iraq but not in Iran. As to Iraq, the man is unapologetic to this date. 

Cohen is also one of the Republicans who formally signed on to the #NeverTrump movement in 2016. 

Continuing in his #NeverTrump mode, Cohen wrote of his personal distaste for Donald Trump in the January 2017 issue of the Atlantic

“Many conservative foreign-policy and national-security experts saw the dangers last spring and summer, which is why we signed letters denouncing not Trump’s policies but his temperament; not his programs but his character. we were right. And friends who urge us to tone it down, to make peace with him, to stop say as loudly as we could ‘this is abnormal,’ to accommodate him, to show loyalty to the Republican Party, to think that he and his advisers could be tamed, were wrong.”

Such are Cohen’s personal feelings. But Cohen goes overboard in the current Foreign Affairs with his article “Trump’s Lucky Year.” After recognizing that among the top three advisers in the Trump administration on foreign policy are generals — John Kelly (White House chief of staff), James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis (Secretary of Defense), and H.R. McMaster (national security adviser), Cohen writes:

” …what will happen if and when the president decides on a course of actions that his advisers deem highly dangerous but nevertheless legal. With over a century of drilled obedience to the commander in chief under their collective belt, the generals might not be willing to subvert decisions with which they disagree…”

This is breathtaking. Cohen is worried Trump’s advisers might not subvert legal actions of the president of the United States if, in their own mind, they think such actions are ‘dangerous.’ Obviously, Cohen is so morally challenged that he fails to realize the honest thing to do in such a circumstance would be to resign, not to ‘subvert’ the president. Is there a word that describes the action that Cohen is implicitly calling for?     

FA introduces Jake Sullivan as the youngest-ever director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department. The Obama Administration sent him to Oman for the first of many secret meetings that would lay the foundation for the Iran nuclear deal. Sullivan has also been a former adviser to both Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden and is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Sullivan’s article “The World After Trump” has one valuable piece of information:

” … Trump must not be handed a second term. The difference between one and two terms is not 1X vs 2X but more like 1X vs 10X. For one thing, Obama needed two terms to get to the ideas he campaigned on in 2008, and if the same process is true for Trump, his second term could be cataclysmic.”

Yes, a second Trump term would be ‘cataclysmic’ — cataclysmic for the globalists but a godsend for the greater American public. Contributing to Sullivan’s 10X factor is the belief that, with a second term, President Trump will have the time to gain his footing, weed out weak subordinates, get a handle on the administrative state, and generally start to overcome the inertia involved in turning the ship of state around. Also, with a second term, the Republican Party could well evolve into being more Trump friendly. Everyone loves a winner.

Sullivan also dreads a second Trump term because “Trump’s reelection would confirm that Trumpism is in fact the new normal in the United States, not just an aberration.” 

This last sentence is a warning, a harbinger of what’s to come. Yes, the globalists fought against Donald Trump in 2016. But they never expected him to win. To the foreign policy establishment, Trump was a buffoon, a joke. Things will be different from here on out now that they know Trump can win. The knives will be out in 2020. Then, the swamp will marshal every critter, large and small, in its domain against Trump and his base of deplorable supporters. The attacks will be savage and multidimensional, making 2016 look like child’s play.

In boxing, a one-two punch is most effective. That’s a left jab immediately followed by a powerful right hook. The jab sets up the hook. That is what the anti-Trumpers are attempting. A prelude to 2020 presidential election is this year’s midterms. The jab. This is critical to both sides. Should the Democrats take the House in November, Trump will face a headwind of distractions, among which could well be impeachment. This will cripple the Trump agenda and make his reelection extremely difficult — the knockout.

On the other hand, if the GOP maintains control of the House in November, it will be the globalists who risk being worn down by Trump’s reinvigorated MAGA agenda. The stakes are high. It would be a shame to lose to the foreign policy elite, the Democrats, and the rest of the anti-Trump coalition after coming so far in 2016. 

As much as any other magazine, Foreign Affairs is one whereby the globalists and foreign policy elite within the U.S. speak to one another. Its March/April 2018 edition is devoted to bemoaning the foreign policies of Donald Trump. Needless to say, the authors for that issue are, to varying degree, anti-Trump and horrified at his election. This is neither surprising nor is it newsworthy given the nature of FA. However, some of their thinking, especially from Jake Sullivan and Eliot Cohen. 

At the nub, FA is fearful that President Trump is setting about to disrupt world order which they have carefully crafted since 1945. And for the record, the FA crowd does not use an incendiary term like the New World Order to describe its agenda. They preferred to call it liberal hegemony with the U.S. being the hegemon guided, of course, by their Masters of the Universe-type wisdom

The foundations of this liberal hegemony requires nearly unrestricted trade into American markets, the U.S. military as guarantor of world security, a matrix of alliances, multinational trade agreements, nation building, support for international institutions like the United Nations, unimpeded flow of goods, capital, and people across borders, and the ensuing dilution of U.S. national sovereignty.  A cynic would say much of this amounts to America continuing to inordinately shoulder the burdens of the world as was perhaps necessary in the aftermath of WWII. 

It’s an understatement to say that Trump’s election has ruffled feathers at FA. Still, these globalists find a degree of relief in the fact that the president has been hamstrung in getting many of his policies enacted. FA cites things such as the courts, the media, Congress, insubordinate subordinates, inability to control government agencies, and general inertia. The hope of the FA-types is that they will be able to either outlast Trump, convert him, or wear him down.

Let’s look at Eliot Cohen first. His background includes the dubious distinction as being one of the first neoconservatives who publicly advocated for war against Iraq and Iran. Cohen got his wish in Iraq but not in Iran. As to Iraq, the man is unapologetic to this date. 

Cohen is also one of the Republicans who formally signed on to the #NeverTrump movement in 2016. 

Continuing in his #NeverTrump mode, Cohen wrote of his personal distaste for Donald Trump in the January 2017 issue of the Atlantic

“Many conservative foreign-policy and national-security experts saw the dangers last spring and summer, which is why we signed letters denouncing not Trump’s policies but his temperament; not his programs but his character. we were right. And friends who urge us to tone it down, to make peace with him, to stop say as loudly as we could ‘this is abnormal,’ to accommodate him, to show loyalty to the Republican Party, to think that he and his advisers could be tamed, were wrong.”

Such are Cohen’s personal feelings. But Cohen goes overboard in the current Foreign Affairs with his article “Trump’s Lucky Year.” After recognizing that among the top three advisers in the Trump administration on foreign policy are generals — John Kelly (White House chief of staff), James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis (Secretary of Defense), and H.R. McMaster (national security adviser), Cohen writes:

” …what will happen if and when the president decides on a course of actions that his advisers deem highly dangerous but nevertheless legal. With over a century of drilled obedience to the commander in chief under their collective belt, the generals might not be willing to subvert decisions with which they disagree…”

This is breathtaking. Cohen is worried Trump’s advisers might not subvert legal actions of the president of the United States if, in their own mind, they think such actions are ‘dangerous.’ Obviously, Cohen is so morally challenged that he fails to realize the honest thing to do in such a circumstance would be to resign, not to ‘subvert’ the president. Is there a word that describes the action that Cohen is implicitly calling for?     

FA introduces Jake Sullivan as the youngest-ever director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department. The Obama Administration sent him to Oman for the first of many secret meetings that would lay the foundation for the Iran nuclear deal. Sullivan has also been a former adviser to both Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden and is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Sullivan’s article “The World After Trump” has one valuable piece of information:

” … Trump must not be handed a second term. The difference between one and two terms is not 1X vs 2X but more like 1X vs 10X. For one thing, Obama needed two terms to get to the ideas he campaigned on in 2008, and if the same process is true for Trump, his second term could be cataclysmic.”

Yes, a second Trump term would be ‘cataclysmic’ — cataclysmic for the globalists but a godsend for the greater American public. Contributing to Sullivan’s 10X factor is the belief that, with a second term, President Trump will have the time to gain his footing, weed out weak subordinates, get a handle on the administrative state, and generally start to overcome the inertia involved in turning the ship of state around. Also, with a second term, the Republican Party could well evolve into being more Trump friendly. Everyone loves a winner.

Sullivan also dreads a second Trump term because “Trump’s reelection would confirm that Trumpism is in fact the new normal in the United States, not just an aberration.” 

This last sentence is a warning, a harbinger of what’s to come. Yes, the globalists fought against Donald Trump in 2016. But they never expected him to win. To the foreign policy establishment, Trump was a buffoon, a joke. Things will be different from here on out now that they know Trump can win. The knives will be out in 2020. Then, the swamp will marshal every critter, large and small, in its domain against Trump and his base of deplorable supporters. The attacks will be savage and multidimensional, making 2016 look like child’s play.

In boxing, a one-two punch is most effective. That’s a left jab immediately followed by a powerful right hook. The jab sets up the hook. That is what the anti-Trumpers are attempting. A prelude to 2020 presidential election is this year’s midterms. The jab. This is critical to both sides. Should the Democrats take the House in November, Trump will face a headwind of distractions, among which could well be impeachment. This will cripple the Trump agenda and make his reelection extremely difficult — the knockout.

On the other hand, if the GOP maintains control of the House in November, it will be the globalists who risk being worn down by Trump’s reinvigorated MAGA agenda. The stakes are high. It would be a shame to lose to the foreign policy elite, the Democrats, and the rest of the anti-Trump coalition after coming so far in 2016. 



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China: Colossus or Paper Dragon?


Is China a colossus, and will the 21st century belong to the Chinese, as many think?  Or is China a paper dragon?  Let’s see.

The impressive economic growth China has experienced in the last 40 years started in 1972 with President Nixon’s rapprochement meeting with Chairman Mao.

From that point, China’s growth went into warp drive when President Bill Clinton signed a China Trade Bill in 2001, which gave China a permanent most favored trade status.  Also under Bill Clinton, the U.S. approved China’s entry as a member into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. 

The thought behind granting China these trade privileges – and they are privileges – was that the totalitarian communist regime would mellow and move toward a more open, liberal type of democracy.  That did not prove to be the case.  As Steven Mosher, Asian expert and author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is a Threat to World Order, says, instead, the U.S. “created a monster” in building up China.  To quote him: “I think allowing China into the World Trade Organization must rank as one of the greatest strategic blunders by any great power in human history.”  This may be an overstatement, but not by much.

Looking at these events in retrospect, the Wall Street Journal called them a “transformational moment in the global economy – the beginning of a new era in globalization.”

And indeed it was, for no sooner was the ink dry on these moves than companies began relocating factories (i.e., jobs) and capital to China.  What Bill Clinton considered the last greatest legislative victory of his presidency was in fact the beginning of the hollowing out of much of America’s industrial base and an explosion in U.S. trade deficits.

That’s the history.  Today, China is the second largest economy in the world behind the U.S.  Some polls show that even Americans think China is already number one.  On top of that, China is building a modern military and seems anxious to replace the U.S. as the country that sets the norms for international trade. 

As formidable as China may appear, some see it as a paper dragon.  Each step in China’s rise was aided and abetted, and in some cases actually engineered, by the United States.  This happened by several means.  First, China’s trade with the U.S., which was key to its growth, has been asymmetric from the start.  China got far more from the agreements than it ever gave.  Not only were the formalities skewed to China’s favor, but U.S. leadership steadfastly turned a blind eye to copyright and patent infringements and blatant theft by China of American technology and trade secrets.  Bully of Asia cites our own FBI’s accounting of these thefts to be worth $600 billion per year. 

It is undeniable that for their own reasons, the U.S. financial, political, and foreign affairs elite each wanted China to succeed by means fair and foul, even if it was at America’s expense. 

America also contributed to China’s rise in other ways.  As Peter Zeihan points out in The Accidental Superpower, the China we see on maps today is an anomaly.  Geographically and historically, China is divided into three distinct regions – the north of the militaristic Han, the central part of the traders, and the southern area of secessionists.  These parts do not naturally hold together.  The different regions want different things and access to the world on different terms. 

In addition to the wealth that came with  trade, there were other American factors that have allowed these regions to coalesce into a coherent whole.  It was America’s victory in the Pacific in WWII that eliminated the main threat to China, which was Japan.  Prior to the war, Japan took whatever in wanted in China and left the hinterland scraps to the Chinese.  China gained true sovereignty only with Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945.  And it was not only the Japanese navy that historically hamstrung China, but also European ones as well.  These too were eliminated from the Pacific, directly by the Japanese in the war and indirectly by U.S. actions in Europe afterward.

As Zeihan puts it, America “crafted the best of all worlds for the Chinese.  It eliminated the only significant military and economic rivals in East Asia.  It all but banned European influence east of India.  And it provided both the strategic freedom and economic means to attempt true Chinese unification.” 

But that’s all water under the bridge.  What about today?  The unvarnished fact is that China is still greatly dependent on America for its economic stability and even cohesion.  In the Brenton Woods world, which America implemented, the Chinese, like others, took advantage and designed their economy to be export-driven, basically aiming at the open U.S. markets.  The result: Ten to 15 percent of China’s GDP depends on exports to the U.S.  And because much of this trade is unfair, China enjoyed a continual trade surplus with America – some $275 billion in 2017 alone.  Should the U.S. decide to play hardball on trade or just merely demand that cross country-trade be fair, China’s internal stability would be shaken.  And the Chinese know it.

Also, to feed its massive export machine, China has become the world’s largest importer of a wide variety of basic materials like high-tech components, plastics, wood, food, etc., with oil being the most prominent.  The problem here is that China is hemmed in.  Its maritime routes run beside countries like Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore.  If any one of these countries should become hostile, China’s shipping could be disrupted.  What prevents this from happening is not the Chinese navy, not now or in the foreseeable future.  It’s the U.S. Navy and the willingness of America to keep the sea lanes open for all.

The thing is this.  America does not have to do anything directly to harm China.  All that has to happen to shake China is for the U.S. not to become isolationist, but just to 1) adopt a diminished, a more traditional, interest in the world and 2) insist on fair trade. 

Some fear that if the U.S. demanded fair trade with China and an end to its technology theft, this would start a trade war.  But as President Trump recently said, when America is constantly running trade deficits of hundreds of billions of dollars each year, a trade war is “good and easy to win.”  Although the globalists and Chinese apologists will dispute that point, the president’s logic is hard to refute. 

And even if for some reason the U.S. continues to accommodate China indefinitely, the Chinese still face a combination of nearly insurmountable problems, ranging from China’s enormous debt to its inherent corruption and polluted environment to its unsolvable upside-down demographics.  Given all this, it is disputable that China will still exist as a recognizable entity in 30 years.

China is much more fragile than commonly believed.  It may indeed be a paper dragon.

Is China a colossus, and will the 21st century belong to the Chinese, as many think?  Or is China a paper dragon?  Let’s see.

The impressive economic growth China has experienced in the last 40 years started in 1972 with President Nixon’s rapprochement meeting with Chairman Mao.

From that point, China’s growth went into warp drive when President Bill Clinton signed a China Trade Bill in 2001, which gave China a permanent most favored trade status.  Also under Bill Clinton, the U.S. approved China’s entry as a member into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. 

The thought behind granting China these trade privileges – and they are privileges – was that the totalitarian communist regime would mellow and move toward a more open, liberal type of democracy.  That did not prove to be the case.  As Steven Mosher, Asian expert and author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is a Threat to World Order, says, instead, the U.S. “created a monster” in building up China.  To quote him: “I think allowing China into the World Trade Organization must rank as one of the greatest strategic blunders by any great power in human history.”  This may be an overstatement, but not by much.

Looking at these events in retrospect, the Wall Street Journal called them a “transformational moment in the global economy – the beginning of a new era in globalization.”

And indeed it was, for no sooner was the ink dry on these moves than companies began relocating factories (i.e., jobs) and capital to China.  What Bill Clinton considered the last greatest legislative victory of his presidency was in fact the beginning of the hollowing out of much of America’s industrial base and an explosion in U.S. trade deficits.

That’s the history.  Today, China is the second largest economy in the world behind the U.S.  Some polls show that even Americans think China is already number one.  On top of that, China is building a modern military and seems anxious to replace the U.S. as the country that sets the norms for international trade. 

As formidable as China may appear, some see it as a paper dragon.  Each step in China’s rise was aided and abetted, and in some cases actually engineered, by the United States.  This happened by several means.  First, China’s trade with the U.S., which was key to its growth, has been asymmetric from the start.  China got far more from the agreements than it ever gave.  Not only were the formalities skewed to China’s favor, but U.S. leadership steadfastly turned a blind eye to copyright and patent infringements and blatant theft by China of American technology and trade secrets.  Bully of Asia cites our own FBI’s accounting of these thefts to be worth $600 billion per year. 

It is undeniable that for their own reasons, the U.S. financial, political, and foreign affairs elite each wanted China to succeed by means fair and foul, even if it was at America’s expense. 

America also contributed to China’s rise in other ways.  As Peter Zeihan points out in The Accidental Superpower, the China we see on maps today is an anomaly.  Geographically and historically, China is divided into three distinct regions – the north of the militaristic Han, the central part of the traders, and the southern area of secessionists.  These parts do not naturally hold together.  The different regions want different things and access to the world on different terms. 

In addition to the wealth that came with  trade, there were other American factors that have allowed these regions to coalesce into a coherent whole.  It was America’s victory in the Pacific in WWII that eliminated the main threat to China, which was Japan.  Prior to the war, Japan took whatever in wanted in China and left the hinterland scraps to the Chinese.  China gained true sovereignty only with Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945.  And it was not only the Japanese navy that historically hamstrung China, but also European ones as well.  These too were eliminated from the Pacific, directly by the Japanese in the war and indirectly by U.S. actions in Europe afterward.

As Zeihan puts it, America “crafted the best of all worlds for the Chinese.  It eliminated the only significant military and economic rivals in East Asia.  It all but banned European influence east of India.  And it provided both the strategic freedom and economic means to attempt true Chinese unification.” 

But that’s all water under the bridge.  What about today?  The unvarnished fact is that China is still greatly dependent on America for its economic stability and even cohesion.  In the Brenton Woods world, which America implemented, the Chinese, like others, took advantage and designed their economy to be export-driven, basically aiming at the open U.S. markets.  The result: Ten to 15 percent of China’s GDP depends on exports to the U.S.  And because much of this trade is unfair, China enjoyed a continual trade surplus with America – some $275 billion in 2017 alone.  Should the U.S. decide to play hardball on trade or just merely demand that cross country-trade be fair, China’s internal stability would be shaken.  And the Chinese know it.

Also, to feed its massive export machine, China has become the world’s largest importer of a wide variety of basic materials like high-tech components, plastics, wood, food, etc., with oil being the most prominent.  The problem here is that China is hemmed in.  Its maritime routes run beside countries like Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore.  If any one of these countries should become hostile, China’s shipping could be disrupted.  What prevents this from happening is not the Chinese navy, not now or in the foreseeable future.  It’s the U.S. Navy and the willingness of America to keep the sea lanes open for all.

The thing is this.  America does not have to do anything directly to harm China.  All that has to happen to shake China is for the U.S. not to become isolationist, but just to 1) adopt a diminished, a more traditional, interest in the world and 2) insist on fair trade. 

Some fear that if the U.S. demanded fair trade with China and an end to its technology theft, this would start a trade war.  But as President Trump recently said, when America is constantly running trade deficits of hundreds of billions of dollars each year, a trade war is “good and easy to win.”  Although the globalists and Chinese apologists will dispute that point, the president’s logic is hard to refute. 

And even if for some reason the U.S. continues to accommodate China indefinitely, the Chinese still face a combination of nearly insurmountable problems, ranging from China’s enormous debt to its inherent corruption and polluted environment to its unsolvable upside-down demographics.  Given all this, it is disputable that China will still exist as a recognizable entity in 30 years.

China is much more fragile than commonly believed.  It may indeed be a paper dragon.



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A 2nd Amendment Thought Experiment


Here’s a simple thought experiment regarding the 2nd Amendment. What do you think the U.S. would be like if we didn’t have it?

Without the 2nd Amendment, firearms would likely be highly restricted and controlled. Various state legislatures might not vote for that, but it would come about through a combination of federal action, judicial decisions, and bureaucratic decrees. Violent crime would probably be higher as an unarmed citizenry is easy prey for criminals. In all likelihood, America would look like other Anglo countries such as Australia and Great Britain with respect to gun ownership. 

That’s the easy part of the answer. But there’s more to it than that. Without the 2nd Amendment, might not the social and cultural landscape of America be different from what it is today?  

To understand why, look at how far within living memory the U.S. has drifted from its founding principles. The country has been pushed further and further to the left by undemocratic means in the form of judicial decrees and bureaucratic edicts, many of which have no basis in written law or the Constitution. Abortion, homosexual marriage, transgender rights, and massive illegal immigration are examples. And think of all the statewide referendums that have been overturned by the courts because the results went against the progressive agenda. So much for “every vote counts.”

Furthermore, we live in what is called an “agency state.” Loosely written laws give government bureaucrats the power to set rules and regulations that have the effect of law. We’ve seen government departments like the EPA, staffed by environmental radicals, running amok with their regulatory power. Probably no federal government agency is innocent of bureaucratic overreach, some more than others, which is why the country is choking on ‘laws,’ many of which people neither know of nor can understand.

What does this have to do with the 2nd Amendment and gun ownership? Simple. Most office-bound bureaucrats, left-wing judges, and government elites are not exactly prime examples of virile American manhood. Quite the opposite. When you think of this government class, which is predominately male, a picture of a feminized metrosexual springs to mind, especially the higher up you go in the hierarchy.  

This point is this. In the back of their minds, even if it is buried at a subconscious level, these people fear an armed citizenry. An armed citizenry puts a check on how far and how fast the government class dares to push its progressive agenda by unconstitutional means. True, the 2nd Amendment by itself has not completely stopped the unconstitutional drift to the left, but one has to believe it has prevent what could have been from being what is. 

Without the check of a 2nd Amendment, how bold would those who hold government power would be? Some real possibilities: Perhaps home schooling would be illegal; many aspects of political correctness might be weaponized by bureaucratic ‘law’; unapproved speech might be criminalized; racial quotas might be more prevalent; web sites like the American Thinker, Drudge, etc. could be curtailed and talk radio muffled. 

Here’s an interesting second question. What would Europe look like if it had a Second Amendment? Would the people in the various countries of the EU have lost their national characteristics and rights to make their own laws to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels? Would the European states have allowed the EU to dictate to them on Third-World immigration? Would European men be hiding under their beds in fear of Muslim immigrants terrorizing their women? Specifically, would Europeans have allowed their rights as citizens be so usurped by the elite that today they are more subjects than citizens? 

Some would say that Europe has been so emasculated that a 2nd Amendment would not make much of a difference. Perhaps, but then again, would the population of Europe have been neutered in the first place if it had an armed citizenry equivalent to what exists in the United States?

The bottom line seems clear. As far as the United States goes, the 2nd Amendment is necessary, but by itself insufficient, to maintain freedom in America. The 1st Amendment is equally vital, as it protects the right of religion and free speech. The rights in both amendments must be aggressively defended and put to use. As to firearms, one does not have to be a hunter or target shooter to support both the 2nd Amendment and groups that defend it like the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, and the Second Amendment Foundation. Nor does one have to be a member of the press to exercise the right of free speech. The rights guaranteed to us under the 1st and 2nd Amendments must be exercised. If not, they will atrophy like muscles that are neglected which is what the left and its running dogs in the Democratic Party sincerely hope for. 

Here’s a simple thought experiment regarding the 2nd Amendment. What do you think the U.S. would be like if we didn’t have it?

Without the 2nd Amendment, firearms would likely be highly restricted and controlled. Various state legislatures might not vote for that, but it would come about through a combination of federal action, judicial decisions, and bureaucratic decrees. Violent crime would probably be higher as an unarmed citizenry is easy prey for criminals. In all likelihood, America would look like other Anglo countries such as Australia and Great Britain with respect to gun ownership. 

That’s the easy part of the answer. But there’s more to it than that. Without the 2nd Amendment, might not the social and cultural landscape of America be different from what it is today?  

To understand why, look at how far within living memory the U.S. has drifted from its founding principles. The country has been pushed further and further to the left by undemocratic means in the form of judicial decrees and bureaucratic edicts, many of which have no basis in written law or the Constitution. Abortion, homosexual marriage, transgender rights, and massive illegal immigration are examples. And think of all the statewide referendums that have been overturned by the courts because the results went against the progressive agenda. So much for “every vote counts.”

Furthermore, we live in what is called an “agency state.” Loosely written laws give government bureaucrats the power to set rules and regulations that have the effect of law. We’ve seen government departments like the EPA, staffed by environmental radicals, running amok with their regulatory power. Probably no federal government agency is innocent of bureaucratic overreach, some more than others, which is why the country is choking on ‘laws,’ many of which people neither know of nor can understand.

What does this have to do with the 2nd Amendment and gun ownership? Simple. Most office-bound bureaucrats, left-wing judges, and government elites are not exactly prime examples of virile American manhood. Quite the opposite. When you think of this government class, which is predominately male, a picture of a feminized metrosexual springs to mind, especially the higher up you go in the hierarchy.  

This point is this. In the back of their minds, even if it is buried at a subconscious level, these people fear an armed citizenry. An armed citizenry puts a check on how far and how fast the government class dares to push its progressive agenda by unconstitutional means. True, the 2nd Amendment by itself has not completely stopped the unconstitutional drift to the left, but one has to believe it has prevent what could have been from being what is. 

Without the check of a 2nd Amendment, how bold would those who hold government power would be? Some real possibilities: Perhaps home schooling would be illegal; many aspects of political correctness might be weaponized by bureaucratic ‘law’; unapproved speech might be criminalized; racial quotas might be more prevalent; web sites like the American Thinker, Drudge, etc. could be curtailed and talk radio muffled. 

Here’s an interesting second question. What would Europe look like if it had a Second Amendment? Would the people in the various countries of the EU have lost their national characteristics and rights to make their own laws to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels? Would the European states have allowed the EU to dictate to them on Third-World immigration? Would European men be hiding under their beds in fear of Muslim immigrants terrorizing their women? Specifically, would Europeans have allowed their rights as citizens be so usurped by the elite that today they are more subjects than citizens? 

Some would say that Europe has been so emasculated that a 2nd Amendment would not make much of a difference. Perhaps, but then again, would the population of Europe have been neutered in the first place if it had an armed citizenry equivalent to what exists in the United States?

The bottom line seems clear. As far as the United States goes, the 2nd Amendment is necessary, but by itself insufficient, to maintain freedom in America. The 1st Amendment is equally vital, as it protects the right of religion and free speech. The rights in both amendments must be aggressively defended and put to use. As to firearms, one does not have to be a hunter or target shooter to support both the 2nd Amendment and groups that defend it like the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, and the Second Amendment Foundation. Nor does one have to be a member of the press to exercise the right of free speech. The rights guaranteed to us under the 1st and 2nd Amendments must be exercised. If not, they will atrophy like muscles that are neglected which is what the left and its running dogs in the Democratic Party sincerely hope for. 



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Paraphrasing Cato: The Democratic Party Must Be Destroyed


Prior to the Third Punic War against Carthage in the 2nd Century BC, Cato the Elder was said to have ended all his speeches in the Roman senate by saying, “Carthage must be destroyed.” Notice, Cato did not say ‘defeated’ but ‘destroyed.’ What do you suppose motivated this distinguish statesman to take such an extreme position? It was that in the Second Punic War (218 to 201 BC), Rome came close to losing to the Carthaginians. In that war, Rome suffered a number of severe battlefield defeats at the hands of Hannibal’s army, most notable being the Battle of Cannae, the worse Roman defeat in history. To Cato, Carthage, although defeated in the Second Punic War, was still a threat to the Republic of Rome. 

Let’s move ahead in time. Today we see the depravity and anti-Americanism that is prevalent in today’s Democratic Party is literally putting our constitutional republic at risk. Do you think that’s an exaggeration? Let’s take a look.

On social issues, the Democrats are the leading force of moral decay in America. They are the champion of such perverse things as unrestricted abortion, homosexual marriage, transgenderism, racial strife, and a God-hating form of radical secularism. They corrupt every institution in the U.S. with these ‘novel’ concepts from our schools to the military and everything in between. The one thing these initiatives all have in common is that they rot out the foundation of the Republic and undermine the family.

When it comes to economic matters, Democratic policies suffocate growth through regulations, high taxes, and crony capitalism. In the party’s view, personal self-sufficiency, independence, and holding a traditional family together are sins, while dependency on government is a virtue. Judging by their behavior, the only growth the Democrats applaud and work towards is growth in government, growth in the welfare rolls, and growth in the influx of Third-World immigrants into the country.

Immigration deserves a special comment. As is often correctly said, demographics is destiny. Look at the quantity and quality of the type of immigration that the Democrats push for. To the Democrats whose creed is ‘diversity is strength,’ America will be worthy only when its composition mirrors that of the United Nations. If such a suicidal attitude prevails, then the United States as we know it is gone. Do the Democrats care? If they do, it is only that the transformation isn’t happening fast enough.

As for the rule of law, the Democrats have no respect for it save for those instances where it might serve their purpose. And this lawless attitude is not reserved merely for Democratic politicians but extends to the would-be philosopher kings the Democrats want as judges. A man like the late Anthony Scalia who interprets the law as it is written (as is prescribed in the Constitution), is an anathema to Democrats. Judges like Scalia limit unconstitutional behavior. Democrats, on the other hand, want judges who turn the written law into loosey-goosey tools to remake the country according to their whims. When it comes to the corruption of legislating from the bench, the Democrats have been highly successful, due to an always complicit media and far too often a complacent Republican Party.  

In past presidential races since the 1980s, the only election results Democrats accepted as legitimate are the elections they win. To the Democrats, the presidencies of George W. Bush and Donald Trump were illegitimate. And the Democrats acted accordingly to the detriment of the country. This erodes the foundation of our electoral process which bodes ill for the nation.

And what we are seeing today is an unprecedented example of Democrat lawlessness. Their operatives at high levels in the FBI, the Justice Department, and some intelligence agencies actually worked to derail the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and then continued to try to overturn the election results after he won. This is a staggering development that is now being exposed. 

Since the takeover of the Democrat Party by the McGovernites in the early 1970s, the Democrats have steadily drifted from the liberalism of Harry Truman and JFK to the dark leftwing darkness of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton and the rest. When in power, the Democrats are oppressors. Think of the abuses of the IRS, the EPA, and the FBI. When out of power, Democrats are energized as hateful antagonists to anyone who disagrees with them. You object to open borders, you’re a racist. You criticize Hillary Clinton, you’re a sexist. You think marriage should be only between man and a woman, you’re a hate-filled homophobe. You believe in the God of the Bible, you’re a fanatic akin to Muslim terrorists. It has even gotten to the point that if you’re white, you’re a closet racist… at best. 

The right way to view the Democrats is that they are the running dogs of the Left. And so there’s no mistake of what I mean, a ‘running dog’ is a literal translation from Chinese to mean lackey or lapdog, an unprincipled person who helps or flatters a person more powerful, often evil. In Chinese, no idiomatic expression is more demeaning than the term ‘running dogs.’

Given the state of the Democratic Party, wouldn’t be nice if Republican candidates ended their speeches and echoed Cato by saying, “The Democratic Party must be destroyed?” Of course, it is not necessary to actually say such a thing… but the sentiment that “The Democratic Party must be destroyed” should be etched in the heart and mind of any Republican seeking office. Republicans who strive to ‘work with’ Democrats on an ongoing basis are on a fool’s errant. They clearly do not understand the nature of their enemy they’re dealing with.  

In closing, note that Rome won the Third Punic War and totally destroyed Carthage. So there’s hope. Good gracious almighty, some might say, what would the country do without a second party? Let the Republican party split in two. Or let a new party arise like the GOP did in the 1850s. In any event, the only parties of national scope that should be tolerated are ones devoted to the Constitution and the rule of law. 

Prior to the Third Punic War against Carthage in the 2nd Century BC, Cato the Elder was said to have ended all his speeches in the Roman senate by saying, “Carthage must be destroyed.” Notice, Cato did not say ‘defeated’ but ‘destroyed.’ What do you suppose motivated this distinguish statesman to take such an extreme position? It was that in the Second Punic War (218 to 201 BC), Rome came close to losing to the Carthaginians. In that war, Rome suffered a number of severe battlefield defeats at the hands of Hannibal’s army, most notable being the Battle of Cannae, the worse Roman defeat in history. To Cato, Carthage, although defeated in the Second Punic War, was still a threat to the Republic of Rome. 

Let’s move ahead in time. Today we see the depravity and anti-Americanism that is prevalent in today’s Democratic Party is literally putting our constitutional republic at risk. Do you think that’s an exaggeration? Let’s take a look.

On social issues, the Democrats are the leading force of moral decay in America. They are the champion of such perverse things as unrestricted abortion, homosexual marriage, transgenderism, racial strife, and a God-hating form of radical secularism. They corrupt every institution in the U.S. with these ‘novel’ concepts from our schools to the military and everything in between. The one thing these initiatives all have in common is that they rot out the foundation of the Republic and undermine the family.

When it comes to economic matters, Democratic policies suffocate growth through regulations, high taxes, and crony capitalism. In the party’s view, personal self-sufficiency, independence, and holding a traditional family together are sins, while dependency on government is a virtue. Judging by their behavior, the only growth the Democrats applaud and work towards is growth in government, growth in the welfare rolls, and growth in the influx of Third-World immigrants into the country.

Immigration deserves a special comment. As is often correctly said, demographics is destiny. Look at the quantity and quality of the type of immigration that the Democrats push for. To the Democrats whose creed is ‘diversity is strength,’ America will be worthy only when its composition mirrors that of the United Nations. If such a suicidal attitude prevails, then the United States as we know it is gone. Do the Democrats care? If they do, it is only that the transformation isn’t happening fast enough.

As for the rule of law, the Democrats have no respect for it save for those instances where it might serve their purpose. And this lawless attitude is not reserved merely for Democratic politicians but extends to the would-be philosopher kings the Democrats want as judges. A man like the late Anthony Scalia who interprets the law as it is written (as is prescribed in the Constitution), is an anathema to Democrats. Judges like Scalia limit unconstitutional behavior. Democrats, on the other hand, want judges who turn the written law into loosey-goosey tools to remake the country according to their whims. When it comes to the corruption of legislating from the bench, the Democrats have been highly successful, due to an always complicit media and far too often a complacent Republican Party.  

In past presidential races since the 1980s, the only election results Democrats accepted as legitimate are the elections they win. To the Democrats, the presidencies of George W. Bush and Donald Trump were illegitimate. And the Democrats acted accordingly to the detriment of the country. This erodes the foundation of our electoral process which bodes ill for the nation.

And what we are seeing today is an unprecedented example of Democrat lawlessness. Their operatives at high levels in the FBI, the Justice Department, and some intelligence agencies actually worked to derail the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and then continued to try to overturn the election results after he won. This is a staggering development that is now being exposed. 

Since the takeover of the Democrat Party by the McGovernites in the early 1970s, the Democrats have steadily drifted from the liberalism of Harry Truman and JFK to the dark leftwing darkness of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton and the rest. When in power, the Democrats are oppressors. Think of the abuses of the IRS, the EPA, and the FBI. When out of power, Democrats are energized as hateful antagonists to anyone who disagrees with them. You object to open borders, you’re a racist. You criticize Hillary Clinton, you’re a sexist. You think marriage should be only between man and a woman, you’re a hate-filled homophobe. You believe in the God of the Bible, you’re a fanatic akin to Muslim terrorists. It has even gotten to the point that if you’re white, you’re a closet racist… at best. 

The right way to view the Democrats is that they are the running dogs of the Left. And so there’s no mistake of what I mean, a ‘running dog’ is a literal translation from Chinese to mean lackey or lapdog, an unprincipled person who helps or flatters a person more powerful, often evil. In Chinese, no idiomatic expression is more demeaning than the term ‘running dogs.’

Given the state of the Democratic Party, wouldn’t be nice if Republican candidates ended their speeches and echoed Cato by saying, “The Democratic Party must be destroyed?” Of course, it is not necessary to actually say such a thing… but the sentiment that “The Democratic Party must be destroyed” should be etched in the heart and mind of any Republican seeking office. Republicans who strive to ‘work with’ Democrats on an ongoing basis are on a fool’s errant. They clearly do not understand the nature of their enemy they’re dealing with.  

In closing, note that Rome won the Third Punic War and totally destroyed Carthage. So there’s hope. Good gracious almighty, some might say, what would the country do without a second party? Let the Republican party split in two. Or let a new party arise like the GOP did in the 1850s. In any event, the only parties of national scope that should be tolerated are ones devoted to the Constitution and the rule of law. 



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