Sunday, April 29, 2018

"Russian Roulette" Iskiff and Corn

Confirmation bias is in all of us, and I'm not exceptional at all --  I want to be told I'm right, which makes this narrative titled "Russian Roulette," of what we do know about Donald Trump and his staff, the election, Comey, and Clinton in 2016 a rewarding read for me.

Without a doubt I've already taken a large measure of satisfaction knowing I ascertained the gravity of the reports on Russian meddling correctly and early in the election cycle,  back when Trump actually wasn't so hot, and the Russian media was lamenting that the Kremlin won't get their man.  Even as far back as the Iowa Caucus in January of 2016 were there hints and suggestions that Putin was pulling for Trump.

It's a great boon to my psyche that the Mueller investigation is a reality,  not because I'm comfortable with the fact that Russia is so brazen, but because he's proving I'm so smart.

But even if I didn't buy into the Russian story, I'd still read this book,  because I'm not one to accept any one side without serious inquiry.    The fact is,  this story is too big to be a fabrication, or a Clinton/Obama/Deep State concoction.   If it were, that would be exceptional.

Read this book, not to be sold a witch hunt, but to compare notes.   Read this book not because it is  the story fabricated inside the minds of the writers or the manipulation of the swamp, but read this book to make sure the mind of the narrator you have been trusting is reality checked.  I'm not saying these two authors have the gospel, but it's more than I've read, and it fills in some of the holes and questions I had.

Sometimes it's the little things that matter,  a simple fact omitted in a retelling that means all the difference between a rigged system and meddling influence.   Knowing supplants belief.  A witch hunt is usually based on beliefs, facts are hard to ignore when they can be substantiated.

Saturday, April 21, 2018


If this belabors my point that Trump has been weakening the U.S. position in the world so be it.

Even if taking the Russians with a grain of salt,  I couldn't imagine this scenario being played out in any past administrations, including the Russians bragging about it openly for the world to know.

In all of those past administrations,  I never doubted their patriotic intent.   Trump though,  well talk is cheap and I don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.

The truth may or may not ever be known,  but there is a lot more evidence than this to merit my claims that our leadership in the world is at risk with Trump.

Elections have consequences.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Ramifications

When I have a conversation in real life about my thoughts on Donald Trump,  I try at times to make a point about how harmful Trump is to our long term strength.  For one reason or another, its a hard opinion to clarify.  The article below, which is basically a wire story but I use Fox as some sort of 'credible' endorsement,  illustrates a large problem I have with the Trump foreign policy direction.

Simply put, when we pull away from involvement we lose, or at best diminish our role in the world. 

Now I've been an isolationist before, and I'm not abandoning the idea that maybe by reducing our presence, we in turn can tone down the anxieties,  but its not really practical, nor desireable with what's at stake not to be involved a lot.

Trump is, as he always has been, a great manipulator of leverage.  Trump's been at this so long, that indeed he is a great and innate player of exploitation.  Its instinctual for him,  he can see the lines of power and seems to have the stroke to manipulate them at his will.  To a certain extent, because he falls short of his ambitions often enough.   He does go out on that lever though and supposes its large enough to move the world, and he has.    But he isn't much into the long game.   Asking him to make the needful decisions to set the scene for next guy is asking him to enter a mindset that he just hasn't proved himself in.

Allegory, analogy, or simile.  Call it what you will, but the man has been bankrupt too often, been turned away by too many banks, and has too many lawsuits and court debacles to ascribe infallibility to his whims, or master planner to his resume.

As I type this,  North Korea is seemingly saying all the right words about denuclearization and peace, and while undoubtedly Trump will take all the credit we allow him,  there is behind him and before him a long history of Presidents and policy makers who have created the powerful position the United States finds itself in today, 2018.  We've been dealing with North Korea for 70 years,  and putting aside how often we been deceived by the Kim family,  our nation has been squeezing the economy, and the very vitality out of the hermit nation all that time.   Maybe Trump is here, and he is giving that extra and extreme risk to make all our goals reality, but lets just pause and understand that in order for him to be in this spot, many before him made this spot possible.

Syria seems to be mutating into tomorrow's Korea, and that is not a good thing.   This time, more so than in Korea,  global consequences are at stake but it appears Trump is signaling that the U.S. is no longer willing to carry the burden of involvement over there anymore.   Clearly that's a gamble in the opposite direction from Korea, so are we willing to walk away and let Iran and Russia influence in our stead?

Understand,  there will be no Donald Trump at the end of 70 years of peacefully grinding it out like what's going on in Korea right now.  There may only be the lost moment in history when we let that region go to hell and our adversaries, after we had spent so much money and blood there over all these years.

That's the long term harm of Donald Trump to this nation's well being and security that I have in mind,  and there are other points of withdrawal, other instances where the long term spot we'd like to be in just isn't going to happen because of his policies.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Reality of Trade

Trump is tweeting, to gin up support, how "stupid" the inequity in tariffs are, within a allegedly free trade environment.   Its such an easy mark he is aiming for, its an idea and tag line that has been working since trade began.   Some echo this with a lament about us losing all the time.

Its not that simple, and Trump ought to prove his point, because he's bringing it up and because although he won the office, he still has an obligation to explain himself --  Why or what is stupid?

At this point, I realize most Trumpers aren't with me, but that is o.k.  This is bigger than Trump.

Lets recognize first of all where we stand in the world. 
We have the number one market in the world,  attained dramatically once we "put our mind" to it, and enduring for over 100 years. 

We've spent the last 70 years intentionally sharing and exporting our system with the world, and the world has been getting on board, and we've continued to grow.

Nothing about that sounds like losing or being stupid.

Maybe something else, not widely recognized, but rational and smart, has been taking place.   I'll share the big stupid conspiracy with you right now,  and by all means look it up!

In the global free trade environment, the one we've spent trillions building world wide, every participant is expected to contribute something, and that something often exploits a natural advantage.  A natural advantage is a positive factor one nation has over another.

For the United States of America it is not the American laborer, but the American farmer who reaps our gains from our natural advantage of lots of farmland.

Its not hard to understand,  we know the phrase "bread basket of the world" has meaning. It has and should continue, if wiser heads prevail. 

Its our natural advantage -- farmland.  As such it has been what we have also protected because it's a pretty darn good natural advantage to have.

So when China proposes to place tariffs on farmers in retaliation for Trump's proposal to tax Chinese imports, that's solid proof that our agriculture export has some sort of trade advantage at stake, a stake worth preserving, and the yin to the yang.   Maybe their phones come here advantageously, but our food goes there cheaply in return.

Many years ago, before anyone reading this was born, smart federal economists, as patriotic as any man, directed our diplomats to prioritize our agriculture over our industry, and much to our benefit, our diplomats listened.

Even 100 years ago, economist understood that labor can be commoditized, get or gotten cheaper.  Land, however is hard to come by.  Arable land even harder 

They were not stupid, and are not currently stupid,  as IT IS a continuing academic and applicable field.

Consider our example.   China gains entry in the World Trade Organization(WTO), the international trade group that we championed since the end of WWII, and wants to do trade. (An organization, GATT, preceded the WTO) 

OK and this is where it gets complicated, and the answer to the question why does a free trade agreement have so many pages if its all about being rid of tariffs?  Because life is messy, and some nations need help, need incentive to turn their rifles into plowshares.  Some have vested interest in certain industries that precedes the new direction free trade would carry them.

Whatever the event maybe,  we are open to some negotiations.


Because first, not only is gathering everyone together in trade a hedge against everyone fighting each other, its less expensive than war of course, and secondly it is our system that we are pushing, the one we are winning....

We agree with China that they can tax imports in an market area they want to protect, and we push on them our agriculture.

It can get complicated, of course.   I contend that our patriotic leaders of the past understood their fleeting time as stewards of this great nation and understood how wise it would be to guard our American farmer at the expense of our laborer.

The problem is not the tariffs, its the failure to transit the American laborer into industry or services that  we can win at, with the other natural advantages we may have.   Technology, for example.   Or Financial Services.

Clearly, the U.S. is not winning everything, but it was understood from a long time ago that cars replace buggies, and television replaces radio.  Sometimes Japan replaces the U.S.,  and  then China replaces Japan in cheap labor.

As for the intention of the tariffs to reduce our trade deficit.  That's the easiest part,  just don't buy foreign made goods.  Deficit solved!  Get on board with it and there would be no tit for tat trade war.   Unless attitudes change, Trump has put our farmers in the cross hairs --  they have much to lose, while the rest of us pay more.  All for the gamble that we'd get jobs back that may not even be here anyways once robots and Artificial Intelligence move in.

Some contend we can sell our food to Africa.  Who says we aren't already, and why should our farmers take a haircut because the President is evidently running things off the cuff --  he waited over a year to 'fulfill his promise'  which gave the Chinese time to find other arrangements.

What other arrangements has he been at work on?

As for the tariffs paying off our national debt?   Not realistic.

How else do I know we aren't losing?  We still have the money to buy things, and a growing economy.

The fact that Trump says things are stupid, does not make it so.  I'd like some proof, although I certainly concede his power to shake up the board and something good may come of it, but nevertheless his characterization of our winning tradition is uninspiring and ignorant at best, dishonest as a matter of course for him.

At some time it is reasoned that robots and artificial intelligence will replace human labor.  Does Trump have a plan for that?  If he doesn't, then that is stupid.    He's gonna cost our farmers markets while gaining jobs in industries that may ultimately go away (again)?   Yeah,  not smart.