The Trump administration has pointed to non-tariff barriers imposed by the People’s Republic of China ( “the PRC”), the PRC’s blind eye to theft of intellectual property, and other “fairness factors” as reasons to consider sanctions. However, there are other reasons, and those other reasons are just as important to your daily life.
When the US imports more than it exports, more dollars go overseas than come in. Those dollars don’t just stay in a savings account, or as stacks of bills in a bank vault. In the case of the PRC, those trade deficit dollars have been used for a variety of things, including buying homes in Western countries.
According to the National Association of Realtors, PRC citizens are now the largest group of foreign home buyers in the US are now Chinese (14% of buyers). Affluent PRC citizens don’t necessarily think there is a future for themselves or their children in the PRC. They don’t trust their own government to respect their property rights, and the demographic forecast is bleak with an aging and declining population.
That is why most affluent people in the PRC want to have dual nationality, where that second passport preferably is from a first-world English speaking country.
PRC citizens aren’t just buying in the US, they are also buying residential real estate in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and all over the EU. Add increasing restrictions on home building in all of these countries and the result is that home prices are now totally disconnected from wages in most major real estate markets.
Higher home prices coupled with stagnant wages present a political problem for elected officials in the West. Their serfs might get restless and decide to elect different leaders. Or worse.
Meanwhile, US imports with so-called “2nd tier” Southeast Asian countries have increased sharply this century. US imports from Vietnam have increased 76-fold (!) this century . The chart below was produced in 2013 and turned out to be pessimistic because Vietnamese exports to the US will surpass $50 billion already in 2018.
Suffice it to say the recent visit to Vietnam by a US aircraft carrier for the first time since the Vietnam War, that visit was not a coincidence. Vietnam and other countries want those factory jobs that are now in the PRC because they’re better than the jobs they have now.
US imports from the PRC will surpass $500 billion in 2018. However, the highest growth in imports is from 2nd tier Southeast Asian countries, not the PRC.
Because the PRC exports four times as much to the US as they import, they do in fact have less leverage if words were to come to blows and tariffs actually be imposed. The PRC’s “targeting of Trump voters” in their recently announced tariffs may also backfire and be viewed as inappropriate foreign interference in the opinion formation process of a free country. It is exactly the kind of thing you would expect a one-party state to be tone deaf about.
Take these two major rends together, PRC citizens driving up home price and sharply increasing exports from 2nd tier countries, and you can see why now is an opportune time to press the issue. No one in the West wants a trade war, but on the other hand: the current trade situation can’t continue.
Yesterday, a muslim Uzbek man used a truck to kill eight people in New York city. Right away, being from Sweden, I couldn’t help but note that it was also a muslim Uzbek man who used a truck to mow down pedestrians in Stockholm, Sweden on April 7th of this year.
Yet you won’t find me using these plain and simple facts to unsarcastically argue for “common sense regulation of muslim Uzbek men using trucks.” No one should support such an argument. Yet so many voters allow our elected politicians (a.k.a. “leaders”) to make similarly stupid and vapid claims.
On this day after the NYC attack, I wonder whether US senator Angus King (I – Maine) will double down on his 2016 claim that ISIS attacks are “more or less inevitable” and that it’s “crucial not to succumb to fear and stereotyping of Muslims.” As if “fear and stereotyping of muslims” cause these attacks.
To be fair, King made his remarks in March of 2016, as the establishment that King is part of tried feverishly to prevent Trump from becoming the GOP nominee. But after yesterday’s NYC attack, will King double down on his previous remarks? What if there is another attack and it’s much worse, like the one in Nice, France last year. Will voters still buy what he is saying?
Maybe King should visit a mosque and give a speech like senator Jeff Flake did just eight days after the December 2015 San Bernardino attack. Flake (R – Arizona) called for “unity” and issued to call for “acceptance, tolerance and inclusion across the country”…..as if that would have had prevented the extremist San Bernardino attackers from carrying out their slaughter.
In his cringe-worthy pollyannaish speech at the mosque, Flake only mentioned the San Bernardino victims in the context of muslims helping the victims this way, that way and in every way. It was a transparent and embrrassing attempt at vote-fishing, and it ultimately netted him a net negative of votes (pun intended).
Please watch Flake’s short speech from less than two years ago, as it has not aged well. Flake’s approval ratings were already not good then, and dropped further since. Yet when he announced last week that he will not seek re-election, Flake claimed with a straight face that he was “risking his career” by not standing for re-election and instead “standing up to Trump.” In fact, Flake was risking nothing, a snowflake in hell had a better chance of getting re-elected than Jeff Flake in Arizona in 2018.
Above are just two examples of the nonsense that some of our “leaders” try to shove down our ears and eyes. The same can be shown of easily 70% of the members of that august institution that is the US Senate.
So what is an establishment senator to say now? How can they distance themselves from their past pablumatic pronouncements without seeming to be the bigots that they accuse the majority of Americans of being? And how to thread that needle without seeming to be the political prostitutes that they are?
Yes indeed: what is a US senator to do in this age of Facebook and Youtube and alert voters….and…Russians! Look, over there – Trump works for the Russians!
The issue before us is not Trump. In fact, if Trump thinks that his election was about him, then he is sorely mistaken. This is about expressing the will of the people and the establishment’s fear that such expression will actually happen.
Regardless of your political views, please pay attention to how your “leaders” posture and prance, work against your interests and prostitute themselves for others….yet never for you. They’d never prostitute themselves for you or prostrate themselves before you….but they do it gladly and often for those who control them.
Today, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was indicted on 9 charges by the US government. But as you will see, the facts and the timeline about Manafort’s crimes raises the classic Watergate question: what did they know, and when did they know it? When exactly did the US government know that Manafort had committed serious crimes? If they knew for a good long while, then why did they wait until now to take action?
Indicted along with Manafort was his long-time business associate Rick Gates. The charges against Manafort and Gates are very serious and they face decades in prison if convicted. Both Manafort and Gates have denied the charges.
The indictment states that Manafort and Gates “generated tens of millions of dollars of income as a result of their Ukraine work” (§1) and that “in total, more than $75 million flowed through [their] offshore accounts” (§6). But when did agents of the US government have knowledge of these transactions? They occurred from 2008 to 2014. If they had information of crimes earlier, why did they not take action earlier? Let’s explore.
Consider this time-line:
2014, February – the “Ukrainian revolution of 2014” results in the ouster of the democratically elected and extremely corrupt pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. In his place, the extremely corrupt pro-US president Petro Poroshenko in “elected” president the following June and remains president to this day.
2014, March – as the new corrupt government gets their hands on documents from their sworn enemies, namely the previous corrupt government, information about Manafort’s involvement with the previous government starts surfacing. One example is this Politico article, authored by Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman (both are now employed by the New York Times since early 2015). The article reported on Manafort’s deep connections with foreign principals. Manafort’s work on behalf of various people and entities in the Ukraine was thus well-known long before he joined the Trump campaign two years later.
It would take too long to catalogue Haberman’s loyalty to the establishment, but suffice it to say: information leaked by a pro-US foreign government is not just leaked to anyone. Only a presstitute can be trusted with such information!
2015, May 9 – the Panama Papers are released, which are 11.5 million documents hacked from a Panamanian law firm. The documents give details on 214,000 offshore entities worldwide, entities that are set up mainly for tax evasion and other illicit purposes. It is difficult to determine who was behind this data dump because, as sleuths pore over the documents, they find is plenty of embarrassment for the rich and powerful in opposing camps around the world.
2016, March 29 – Manafort joins the Trump campaign to help him corral delegates at a time when it is unclear whether Trump delegates would actually vote for Trump at the party convention the following July. Manafort had helped Ford with exactly that in 1976, fending off a challenge from Reagan. Manafort’s connections with pro-Russian Ukrainians surface anew, with Politifact referring to them in May as Manafort’s “long and deep reported ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.”
2016, April 4 – the British newspaper The Guardian reports that the corrupt pro-US president Ukraininian president Poroshenko “set up a secret offshore company in the British Virgin Islands at a time when his troops were being wiped out in a bloody battle with Russian troops and pro-Moscow rebels.” Despite this, Poroshenko retains the support of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the US deep state in general.
Before his election, Poroshenko vowed to divest himself of his extensive business interests. He promised to “wipe the slate clean” by selling his chocolate factory, saying “I will and want to only focus on the well-being of the nation.” Within just a few months of that statement, Poroshenko was creating a corporation in a tax haven with himself as the only shareholder.
2016, June 20 – Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is fired and replaced by Manafort. “Paul Manafort has been in operational control of the campaign since April 7,” Lewandowski told the AP on the day he was fired. “That’s a fact.”
2016, July 19 to 21 – Republican convention, Trump becomes the GOP’s nominee.
2016, August 14 – the NYT reports that Manafort’s name appears on a list of so-called black ledger payments made by Yanukovich totalling $12.7 million from 2007 to 2012.
2016, August 19 – Manafort resigns as campaign manager.
2017, March 21 – Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker and journalist, releases a copy of an invoice on letterhead from Manafort’s consulting company dated Oct. 14, 2009, to a Belize-based company for $750,000 for the sale of 501 computers. The date of the invoice and the amount match the details logged in the aforementioned black ledger, reported on by the NYT the previous August.
Leshchenko known as an anti-corruption crusader, hitting both sides. However, he is also affiliated with the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, named after the president, and claims that the document was found in a safe in Kiev. Did I already mention that president Poroshenko is extremely corrupt and pro-US? Why yes I did, and I did it twice above 🙂
2017, May 7 – James Comey is fired as FBI director.
2017, May 17 – Robert Mueller, a long-time ally of James Comey, is appointed special prosecutor to investigate “any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation”.
2017, October 30 – Manafort is indicted on those other matters that “may arise directly from the investigation.” No “Trump Russia Collusion” smoking gun, more like tawdry tax evasion and the related crimes necessary to carry out the tax evasion.
END OF TIMELINE
As I worked on this timeline, ABC News produced their own timeline. But they don’t ask what I ask, which is:
1/ What did the US know about Manafort’s crimes and when did they know it? The above timeline suggests an information war between various governments and intelligence agencies, but it is hard to believe that the US didn’t know about Dirty Paul Manafort before Leshchenko delivered him to them gift-wrapped this past May. It is hard to believe that someone suddenly “found a document in a safe”, three years after the US essentially made Ukraine a vassal state.
2/ Was Manafort a sophisticated and unwitting plant in the Trump campaign? Picture yourself as a deep state operative and that your “organization” has dirt on various people. Once Trump started looking like he just might become the GOP nominee, you would understandably be throwing up at the back of your mouth. After all, you’ve had control of both parties for decades and you don’t want Trump or Sanders or anybody else to upset the gravy train. So with Trump – what to do?
It’s time to reach into your files and you find….ah, yes – Manafort! You bring him in, show some of the dirt you have on him (but just some) and promise him that you’ll play ball if he’ll play ball. Manafort’s job is to go tie Trump closer to the Russians so that the deep state and their two parties can yell “Trump works for Russia!”
Manafort, with his balls now in a vise, volunteers (for no pay) to help Trump corral delegates. This occurred in March of 2016, as shown in the above timeline. In time, Trump and his inner circle decide that “changes made to the GOP platform” were “seen as beneficial to Russia”, and they felt Manafort played a role in those changes.
Once Manafort fell out of favor with Trump, Manafort’s deep state masters would logically decide that he was no longer useful to them. That’s when you leak the other shoe through the Ukrainian lawmaker with solid anti-corruption creds, and your “Trump works for Russia” narrative still holds water. Manafort gets fired as a result, but who cares when you have “Mission Accomplished”.
Then one evening in November of 2016, a small problem arises: Trump wins the election. But there’s no reason to panic, which is why it’s a “small” problem. All the deep state now has to do is renege on their “understanding”with Paul Manafort (because law and order, you know), expose his illegal dealings on behalf of Russia, pull a few more levers and the “Trump works for Russia” narrative will still stick.
So what were those additional levers? On January 6th, 2017, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a report which claimed that “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” Such strong claims require strong evidence, but none was provided due to an alleged risk that doing so in this case would compromise “sources and methods”. It is worth noting that Clapper lied under oath in March, 2013, and we would not have known about his lie had it not been for the Snowden revelations.
FBI director James Comey used this report and other “evidence” to start an investigation of “Russian interference” in the 2016 U.S. elections. This then turned into an investigation of “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” Cheering Comey on was Hillary Clinton, who he refused to indict the previous summer, most Democrats, many “Republicans” and of course: CNN.
When the Manafort indictment was announced, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski asked in a TV interview why the FBI never came to the campaign to let them know that Manafort had been under a FISA warrant. Of course the FBI can’t disclose such FISA warrants, but maybe this was just Lewandowski’s way of asking: what did our government know about Manafort and when did they know it?
Did it go down exactly like this? Probably not. But the fact that news of the impending indictment was leaked to that friend of the deep state CNN, the facts in the above timeline, the misdirection by Hillary Clinton and the DNC on collusion with foreign government, all this should give you pause. In the end, your life and limb and of all those you care about could be at risk, as explained below. So please pay attention and stay involved as events unfold.
EXPANDING FURTHER ON MY “LIFE AND LIMB” COMMENT – most people have heard of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and her selfless work during the Crimean war, which lasted from 1853 to 1856. But most people have forgotten what the Crimean War was about.
Just forget the stated causes (a.k.a. “lies”) for that war because historians today agree that it really was about the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power as the Ottoman Empire declined. That very same Ottoman Empire would become a casualty of World War I, and it was only through the overthrow of the Russian tsar that the secret Sykes-Picot agreement came to light. World War I for Britain wasn’t so much about protecting themselves against the Evil Hun, it was more about denying German ambition, just as Russian ambition had been denied 60 years earlier. Oh, and about colonially carving up the Ottoman empire, which is what the secret Sykes-Picot agreement revealed.
If our ideals are “competition” and “free enterprise” and a “marketplace of ideas”, but the game is rigged and the unelected deep state always wins, then don’t expect people in “losing” nations to love the US, its inhabitants or its allies. And I’m not even talking about muslim terrorists.
As you analyze the actions taken by your government in your name, think about whether those actions make us stronger or weaker as a nation, whether they increase or decrease the risk of war, and whether you think clean government or dirty government achieves those goals. I hope that there are more indictments – many more. The time to drain the swamp is well past due, and I don’t care if Mueller or Trump or somebody else drains it.
Using NFL games to protest racism and police brutality didn’t begin with Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. It began in 2014 with five St. Louis Rams players propagating the “hands up, don’t shoot” lie, long after it was proven false by 40 eyewitness accounts. The NFL chose to not discipline those players – and why would they? Why rock the profit boat?
Those angered by anthem-kneeling and other protests often cite declining TV ratings to show that the NFL is paying a price. While TV ratings are down, the focus on ratings is misplaced. NFL revenue rose from $8 billion in 2010 to $13 billion in 2016, is expected to rise another $1 billion in 2017, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell projects revenues of $25 billion by the year 2025.
More importantly: profits rose 10% in 2016 compared to 2015. Profits are where it’s at, not revenue. NFL profits are 60% of revenue, an eye-poppingly high profit margin.
Whatever side NFL owners and coaches take on the issue of protests, they side with profits. When Cowboys owner Jerry Jones locked arms with other Cowbabies and kneeled before a Monday Night Football, it’s unlikely he was thinking “this action will hurt my profits, but I’m willing to stand…er…kneel on principle.”
As long as NFL profits remain strong, the NFL will continue to support the “right” of players to protest in stadiums. Should profits stall, their “right” to protest will remain, but perhaps be moved to free speech zones outside of the stadiums for the sake of the “fan experience.”
The Republican Party calls itself “the Party of Lincoln” because Abraham Lincoln was a leader in building the party after its creation in the 1850’s. But is calling the GOP the Party of Lincoln still warranted after the election of Trump? Let’s take a look at just one issue: Obamacare.
In 2010, Republicans in Washington D.C. said “we need control of the House to repeal Obamacare.” The voters gave them a majority in the House. The Republican politicians then said “we also need the Senate, then we can repeal it.” But when given the Senate, the D.C. Republicans said they dared not risk losing their grip on power, as their opponents had risked in 2010 when passing Obamacare in the face of impopularity among voters.
So finally D.C. Republicans said “we need the presidency, then we’ll repeal Obamacare. We mean it this time!” The voters obliged, electing Republican Donald Trump president. Trump ran on repealing Obamacare “on day one.”
The story of Union war general George McClellan is well-known: given command of the Union Army by president Abraham Lincoln, McClellan always found a reason to not act, no matter how many resources were at his disposal. After 15 months of inaction, Lincoln removed McClellan from Command in November, 1863.
McClellan went on to become the Democrat candidate for president in 1864, and lost to his former boss Lincoln in that election.
Given the inaction of congressional Republicans since the election of Trump, using the moniker “The Party of Lincoln” is simply false advertising. A better name would be “The Party of McClellan” because not only are they afraid to act, many “Republicans” in D.C. are actually Democrats. Just like George McClelland.
(Hat tip Drew Miller for inspiring the idea for this 276-word indictment)
Mark Twain is often quoted as having said that “history doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” There’s no evidence that Twain said that, but it doesn’t matter who said it when any thinking student of history knows it to be true.
Today’s question: is there a rhyme for our time?
After Germany violated the Versailles treaty by remilitarizing the Rhineland in March of 1936, the victors in World War could’ve taken decisive military action to enforce the peace treaty. As you may know, the Rhineland is the German industrial heartland.
The German military was weak in 1936, so if the allies had taken action, the history books might have read “France and Britain invade Germany to enforce peace treaty, one million people perish, democratically elected German leader Adolf Hitler imprisoned.”
But European “leaders” took no action. Three years later, war broke out anyway. Their inaction clearly emboldened Hitler. Instead of “just a million” dying, tens of millions of Europeans died, and tens of millions more from other parts of the world.
The above is an original thought I had years ago, and many others have surely had the same thought independently of me. And so when I think about Syria and North Korea and other geopolitical threats, and question the action taken against Syria last week, I also understand very clearly the risks of inaction.
Reasonable people can and do reasonably disagree about Trump’s decision to launch a cruise missile strike against an air base in Syria. However, what bothers me is the breezy gung-ho-ho-ho (to coin a phrase) of the most strident supporters of military action in every situation. They speak with the same self-assured and misplaced bravado we have heard from them so many times since 2001.
These people speak as if US-created regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have all been a success. It has not. Remember also that the best laid plans of and intervention by the CIA in Iran during three decades led directly to the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. In the end, what did we get in Iran for all those efforts? An oppressive islamist government, increasingly dangerous to the US and its allies, that has now been in power for almost four decades.
Looking outside the Middle East for a moment: has our support for the overthrow of a corrupt but fairly elected Ukraine government been a success? Critically review events in the Ukraine over the last 4 years and then judge for yourself.
As events develop, remember that not all chimes are wind chimes. Anybody who tries to chime in with the wind chimes will only find themselves alone and confused as the wind speeds increase and the wind chimes of war are blown away.
Get your own foreign policy chime, keep it out of the wind and play it as you see fit. Support effective action for whatever outcome you desire, and be skeptical of policies that have already proven to be failures.
In late 2016, Humana notified me that they were no longer offering the health insurance plan I had been purchasing from them for many years. The plan was “grandfathered in” under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), meaning that the plan did not have to comply with all the rules of the ACA (or “Obamacare”, as some call it). It was one of those plans that fell under “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” as president Obama famously claimed dozens of times.
In 10 years on this plan, not once did I reach the $2,500 a year deductible on my plan. In other words, the only cost that Humana has incurred on my behalf was the cost of processing paperwork. And yet Humana was now dropping me like a bad habit.
Although the monthly premium had increased from $88 per month in 2007 to $266 per month in 2016, the plan was still better than any ACA-compliant plan available. But now the only plan that Humana or anybody else could offer me was an ACA-compliant plan at $450 per month with a higher deductible and all around much worse coverage.
Obama must have meant to say “if you like your plan, you can keep it…for a while”. Politifact called his claim the “Lie of the Year” for 2013, more than 3 years after the ACA was made law. With intrepid fact checkers like Politifact, who needs enemies?
The entire process of being dumped into a “crappy Obamacare bronze plan”, as leftist film-maker Michael Moore calls my plan, left me ill at ease. It felt like I’d been involuntarily conscripted into a scheme to provide “treatment” and “counseling” to alcoholics, drug users, and hypochondriacs, and also subsidies for people who simply don’t want to pay the true actuarial cost of providing health care. Furthermore, passage of the ACA has taken the pressure has off the health care governmental complex to address systemic waste, fraud and abuse.
Many decisions I’ve made in life are driven by a simple desire to avoid feeling stupid. No one likes participating in something, or interacting with someone, when the outcome is that they are left feel stupid for doing so. It was this reasoning that led me to cut off contact with my only sibling in 2008, as I was always being lied to and financially abused. It is also this reasoning that now caused me to drop my ACA plan and purchase a non-ACA compliant plan for $185 per month. I have been approved for this medically underwitten plan and coverage begins March 1st.
It’s true that my new plan has a superhigh deductible and no “free preventive health care” for things like yoga, therapy animals or chocolate. But I’d rather have this plan than feel stupid and paying 140% more for an ACA-compliant plan. I just don’t want to participate in the ACA – exclamation mark!
“What about the THE PENALTY?” you ask in a whisper while glancing over your shoulder. That is: the penalty for not carrying “government approved” health care coverage. But any payment you might make to the IRS is pursuant to and allowed under the “Individual Shared Responsibility” provision in the ACA.
In summary: it’s not a penalty, it’s a “payment”….. all according to the IRS.
Secondly, the penalty is capped at $695 per person per year. My wife and children have always had better coverage than me, and theirs is a grandfathered Blue Cross / Blue Shield (BCBS) plan that costs $836 per month. My wife is often told at doctor’s office what a great plan it is, and how bad the plans of other patients are. But I digress: the point is that my wife and kids will not be subject to any penalty, only I would be.
This penalty…it kind of looks like a poll tax to me. But I digress again.
Their BCBS plan is medically underwitten, and while it is has also gone up sharply in price since I signed them up for it in 2004, it’s still a “good plan”….as explained above. Therefore, I tried to get on this plan, but BCBS rejected. Their factually correct reasons basically amounted to “you’re old and fat.”
Thirdly, on the day of his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order (EO) with the title “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal”. One immediate and practical effect of Trump’s EO is that the IRS will no longer automatically reject your tax return if you fail to tell them whether or not you carry “government approved” health insurance on your tax return.
The appeal of “self-repeal” is thus multi-faceted: by opting out of the ACA, I have the plan I want and don’t feel abused. I save at least $2,500 per year, and probably $3,200 since there will likely be no IRS penalty. “Self-repealing” the ACA also means that I don’t need to wait for our feckless Congress to act. In fact, according to the former Republican speaker of the house, Congress will never repeal it. Sounds like “Donald Trump will never be president” to me, by why take any chances? Self-repeal!
Most importantly, by self-repealing I no longer feel stupid while paying for health insurance, and that has an “anti-serf”-like value all of its own.
If Donald Trump plans to repeal the ACA by a thousand paper cuts, then I’m all for it because the ACA is really ZeroCare. That’s what I call it, because that’s what it will bring us in the long run. Like all good socialists, ACA proponents ignore human nature and forget the people who they are expecting to pay for “da plan”. They forget the intransigent unwillingness of people like me to participate in their grand social engineering schemes.
If it makes sense for you, then self-repeal like I did. We can compare notes in the rice paddies of the “re-education” camp that our government sends us to.