July 30, 2017

Break up insurance monopolies if they raise prices rather than take lower profits, as their costs go up

The Trump administration is making two related threats to the insurance monopolies, in an effort to lower the prices people pay in the wake of Obamacare. Both focus on the higher costs that insurance monopolies face when less healthy people are drawn into their coverage programs:

1) End the subsidies ("BAILOUTS") that the insurance monopolies get from the government, which were intended to keep them from raising their prices to off-set the higher costs of covering a less healthy group of people (poorer people, pre-existing conditions).

2) End the government mandate that everybody sign up with the insurance monopolies. If everybody signs up, that means healthier and younger people must do so, and they won't be consuming much healthcare, which off-sets the greater amount consumed by the new sicker groups included under Obamacare. If they were no longer required, that would lower the amount that these younger and healthier people spend, since they would choose to consume little or none, and would be free from financial punishment.

Both of these aspects of Obamacare are forms of the insurance monopolies extracting wealth from ordinary citizens -- the first through government funds from taxpayers, and the second through young / healthy individuals.

The propaganda argument claims that these insurance monopolies have no choice -- if they're supposed to cover a group of people that is sicker on average than under the old scheme (they are poorer, have pre-existing conditions, etc.), then that raises the costs to the companies, who now have to provide more of their products and services.

This argument is always wrong, and is just an attempt to enshrine corporate greed over consumer well-being. Very simply, if costs to the provider increase, that can just as well cause a reduction in the company's profits with no change in the prices they charge to consumers. They could eat the higher costs themselves, rather than pass them along to the consumer by jacking up their prices.

But doesn't corporate greed prevent such a caring and altruistic solution? Not necessarily. If the market for their products and services is competitive, that will take care of the greed problem. If costs rise for all insurance companies, and by similar amounts, the greedy company that tries to preserve its old profit margins by jacking up prices will see their customers flee in droves after the sticker shock. They will price themselves out of the market, which will be overtaken instead by rival companies who decide to only modestly raise their prices.

That sets off round after round of competition over price, so that they all end up at the old price and no gouging of consumers. With higher costs and similar prices and revenues, that means the seismic change took place in the area of profits -- lower margins and lower total profits.

Only if the market is highly concentrated into the hands of just a few gigantic corporations, can the providers jack up their prices in response to higher costs, and not lose all of their consumers, who have no one else to buy from.

The insurance and pharmaceutical markets are two such cases, where the sectors have become highly monopolized after decades of mergers and acquisitions, altering the landscape from dozens or hundreds of competitive providers into one where just a few tower over whatever is left. That is a major cause of the soaring prices of healthcare over the past several decades.

The #6 spot on the Fortune 500 within the US is held by UnitedHealth, which has grown to the largest HMO in the nation after two decades of buying up the major insurer in a state, going state by state until they're all part of a sprawling HMO empire. After buying out so much of the competition, they don't have to worry about losing consumers if they gouge them on prices as costs to the company increase. Where else will their consumers go? Anthem? Aetna? Humana? Same story with them.

Along with the ability to gouge consumers on prices in response to higher costs to the company, their immense wealth and concentrated power also allows them to more easily buy off the government, as they did with Obamacare. If the insurance monopolies had to cover sicker people, the insurers did not want to eat those costs themselves -- they wanted somebody else to pay for the higher costs. So they got the government to directly subsidize them, and got the government to require individuals to sign up who would not be consuming much healthcare but would still have to pay high rates.

Monopolization also weakens innovation, since one company does not have to find ways to "build a better mousetrap" -- or deliver a better product at a lower price -- in order to lure consumers away from rival companies that have worse products at higher prices. They can keep on doing whatever failed garbage has made us the sickest nation, based on how much we pay for healthcare, and not worry about angry consumers leaving for providers that give us more bang for our buck.

So, when the insurance monopolies threaten the Trump administration about how the White House's actions will force the insurers to raise their rates, the audience needs to hear this forceful rejection by the entire Trump team -- and anyone in Congress who isn't still a total sell-out to the monopolies (whether that means progressive Democrats or competition-minded libertarians -- perhaps another role for the Bernie-Rand-Trump coalition).

The American people must become accustomed to hearing the counter-argument that higher costs to some company just means the companies are going to eat those costs themselves and accept lower profit margins, or else they'll price themselves out of the market. And that if that isn't going to happen, that must mean the market is highly concentrated and needs to be broken up into many players of similar size.

In launching a populist war against the insurance monopolies, the Trump faction has to let the American people know that the plans to end government subsidies and end the mandate will be accompanied by vigorous trust-busting. In the meantime, Trump can use the bully pulpit to shame the insurance monopolies for trying to gouge the American people on prices rather than accept lower profits, when they're already richer than God and at the top of the pack in the Fortune 500.

"Here I am trying to lower h'care premiums, yet insurers insist on jacking up prices. WRONG: they eat higher costs, and accept lower profits, or monopolies will be broken up!"

Related post: same reasoning, applied to slapping tariffs on American companies who off-shore their production. That imposes a higher cost on the provider, but that does not translate into higher prices to consumers -- only lower profits for the stockholders, if the market is competitive.

Either great minds think alike, or someone with access to Trump's ear read that post and passed the message along to the man himself. Shortly after, I remember during one campaign rally when he threatened the big fat 35% tariff, he broke into an aside and said something like "by the way, that doesn't mean higher prices for consumers, because the companies will still have to compete on price".

Let's hope the Trump-verse is still listening, or that great minds are still thinking alike. We must dispel once and for all with this fiction that higher costs to a company mean the same profits and higher prices -- it means the same prices, and lower profits!

July 28, 2017

After "repeal and replace" fails, Trump cannot let GOP brand taint his ideas too

Today the American people, especially Republican voters, realize that the GOP exists only to peddle red meat ideas to their base in order to gain access to Washington, and then dump those promises immediately upon joining the Swamp.

"Repeal and replace Obamacare" is not some vague platitude like "defend the Constitution" or "fight for the rights of the unborn". It's a concrete policy target whose success or failure cannot be spun in the way the other red meat promises can be. And their effort failed, big-league, despite controlling all branches of government.

It was all just a lie to elect more of their party into the Congress for their own sake, and to raise boatloads of donor money on the theme.

Trump went to bat for the GOP Congress -- not zealously, but at least holding pow-wows, threatening unwilling Congressmen, and refraining from advocating his own longstanding single-payer goals. He used their slogan on the campaign trail, "repeal and replace". He did not appear to be at war with his own party in Congress, or even neutral.

The public will probably link Trump with the healthcare bill failure, just as they did when Trump's approval ratings took a nosedive right after the House's first failed attempt back in March. Trump had nothing to do with the creation of that bill or the dynamics of its failure, but unless he was vocally against it, Republican voters assume he was roughly on the same page as them idea-wise, and part of the same team effort to pass it mechanics-wise.

So they blamed him for being part of the losing team: maybe he didn't do enough to put good ideas in it, or didn't do enough to cajole the hold-outs by using his supreme office and bully pulpit.

Now that the GOP brand has been cemented as being cynical liars and spineless do-nothings, the Trump faction must distance itself from the GOP. The plan was for the bold, fresh Trump movement to stage a hostile takeover of the GOP and subject it to a major brand rehabilitation, to keep it viable and even thriving long-term.

But so far, the GOP is dead-set against adapting itself to the Trump movement, other than giving in somewhat on re-industrialization. They are determined to ride it till the wheels fall off. They'll all either have golden parachutes, to mix metaphors, or they'll have their brains rotted out by tumors anyway.

We'll see if the new RNC Chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, can right the ship or not. It means making a decisive break with the failed conservatism of the past several decades, orienting toward populism and nationalism, and fielding candidates who are sincere rather than feckless or outright deceitful.

The temptation will be the status quo because there's simply far too much donor money and influence with power groups (Pentagon, Big Pharma, Wall Street, media, etc.) from sticking with what has failed.

The elites and their power groups are degenerate, clueless, wasteful, and dangerous. They must be ignored, and the general public appealed to. In other times, when we had an elite that was stewardship-minded, you could just rely on them and not so much on public outreach. But now that the elite is so infested with parasites, they cannot be relied on to produce results, let alone guide something as large as one of the two national parties toward long-term sustainability.

Trump won with the people, not the elites or any of their power groups -- indeed, against their constant and hysterical objections. The GOP can either imitate the successful, or go extinct.

If Trump tries to advance his big plans through Congress rather than the executive branch, and especially if he plans on only working with the GOP, his winning ideas will inevitably become corrupted by the losing Republican Establishment. His momentum will tumble off a cliff, and after perhaps limping into re-election, the movement will get cut off from top power after that.

That leaves three paths:

1) Advance the agenda through executive branch parallels of legislative functions, like Obama did, by getting creative if necessary. Works best for things that the public is not too interested in, or won't mobilize over. E.g., ending support for jihadist militias in Syria.

2) Go through Congressional GOP, but against their failed orthodoxy, and daring them in public to defy him and the tens of millions of voters who finally delivered the White House to a Republican. He must back this up with a threat to sic his mob of rabid supporters on anyone who defies the majority of citizens. E.g., deporting at least half the illegal population by the end of his term, de facto end to labor-related visas, etc.

3) Go through Congress on a topic with bipartisan appeal, like infrastructure.

The common theme in those paths is that they don't require a lot of political capital, since Trump has effectively zero or negative capital among DC Swamp dwellers. Something that everyone loves, like rebuilding roads and airports, doesn't require Trump to give them anything beyond his signature at the end. Something that the GOP opposes, but that the Trump mob demands, can be gotten by appealing to those with whom he has immense capital (citizens). And executive actions are unilateral, although making sure they are enforced is another question.

After six months of failing at their own topics rather than pursuing and achieving the Trump agenda, it's pretty clear that the GOP will never consider Trump's political debt paid off, after he burned their party and brand to the ground during the primary and general. So even if he does build up a modicum of capital with them over four years, they will not consider it enough to put him in positive territory, and they will therefore never do him any big favors in good faith. They won't even call off the Deep State coup, and they control all branches of government.

The natural first step would be for Trump to re-adopt his campaign trail tone about how he's not a conservative, how he wants to convert Democrats and Independents, while also detailing what a disaster the other major party is too. Everybody already sees how much the Democrats suck, though: they don't control anything because no one trusts them. The Democrats are a thoroughly defeated non-entity in contemporary politics.

What matters now is distancing himself from the GOP, which people actually do trust, but which consistently disappoints and outright betrays them. Whether that eventually leads to forming a new second party to supplant the GOP, or whether enough pressure causes the GOP to finally relent and let the Trump movement take over, remains to be seen. But we can't tolerate any more typical Republican bullshit, or the stench and disease will rub off on the Trump movement as well.

July 27, 2017

Immigration still at Obama levels: Time to put the pressure on

Rex Tillerson's State Dept is continuing to issue visas like it's still the Obama years, for both immigrants and "non-immigrants". Many of the non-immigrant visa holders will overstay their visas and become illegals -- this is by far the #1 source of illegal immigration now. Instead of sneaking over the border, the US government gives them a "non-immigrant" visa, and then looks the other way if they choose to remain here after it's expired.

Here are the month-by-month figures for the Trump administration, in thousands:

Month Immigrant Non-immigrant
Feb 44 695
Mar 52 907
Apr 48 735
May 55 884
Jun 45 908

There is no decline over time. Cumulatively there have been 243K immigrant visas, and 4.1 million non-immigrant visas. Taking the monthly average so far, and multiplying by 12, gives a projected figure for the year of 584K immigrant and 9.9 million non-immigrant visas.

How many of each type did Obama let in? Here are the annual figures from fiscal years 2007 to 2016, in thousands for immigrants and in millions for non-immigrants:

Year Immigrant Non-immigrant
2007 434 6.4
2008 470 6.6
2009 469 5.8
2010 482 6.4
2011 476 7.5
2012 482 8.9
2013 473 9.2
2014 467 9.9
2015 531 10.9
2016 618 10.4

The projected figure for immigrant visas in the first 12 months of the Trump administration, 584K, is well above every year from Obama's terms except for 2016, and even then would only amount to a 5% drop.

The projected figure for non-immigrant visas, 9.9 million, is at or above every year of Obama's terms except the last two, and again would represent just a 5% drop from 2016.

Trump supporters voted for far more than a measly 5% drop in the number of immigrants flooding into our country. But since the GOP Establishment is so in favor of open borders, they're betraying the voters, against Trump's wishes (he campaigned on moratoriums and questioning birthright citizenship, not token gestures).

I guess they figure if Republican voters don't like the immigration policy, they have no other party to vote for instead. But that will only force us into making closed borders a demand during bitter primary battles against the Establishment. If they don't want that level of civil war in the Party, then they must reduce immigration levels by at least half. There really ought to be a moratorium, but in the interest of compromise, half. If they don't give us what we voted for, then it's right back to primary battle mode.

And if they betray Trump's promises by this much, the President himself will want to avoid looking like he got played for a sucker, and won't mind endorsing and perhaps even holding rallies for anti-Establishment Republican challengers. It's not just the executive branch officials like Secretary of State who determine immigration levels -- Congressmen can put pressure on them, like Senator Tillis did recently by jamming up a nomination until he got more cheap labor visas out of the executive branch.

By the end of July, there will be about 250K immigrant visas in total, and about 5 million non-immigrant visas. That right there is half of the level from Obama's second term. So achieving the goal of halving Obama's immigration level would require a more or less shutdown for the remaining six months.

We will find out how much the Trump faction wants to tackle the flow of new immigrants, or how much leverage they have against the open-borders globalists. We've already seen that the rate of deportations is lower than under Obama -- at the going rate of 17K deportations per month, even after all four years of Trump's first term, that would only remove 816K, rounded up to 1 million.

But there are at least 1 million new immigrants every year, including now under Trump as under Obama. There will be about a half-million who will be legal long-term immigrants, and of the other 10 million supposedly temporary immigrants, all it takes is single-digit percentages to overstay and remain, to fill out the rest of 1 million new long-term immigrants in just one year.

General Kelly at DHS is not removing them fast enough to counter-act the rapid pace at which Tillerson at State is flooding them in. There are already perhaps 20 million illegals here, so solving that problem means ramping up deportations and more or less closing off the in-flow. Otherwise the flooded ship will only take on more and more water until it finally sinks.

I'm going to do regular monthly updates on this topic so we can monitor what is actually going on, rather than what the spin tells us. Immigration is such a hot-button topic, that both sides play the endorphin rush game -- the globalists want to wail like Trump is sending millions out of the country and slamming the door shut on newcomers, while Trump cheerleaders want to jerk themselves off to the exact same scenario. But that scenario is wrong, and only keeping tabs on the data will tell us that, not imagining whatever scenario lets us get an endorphin rush of outrage or gloating.

If our audience is globalists, then yes, we should make them afraid of all the things Trump is going to do to their precious little worldview. Demoralize them. But if our audience is fellow Trump supporters, sympathetic Republicans, curious Independents, and so on, then we need to tell them the honest truth so that we can get ourselves fired up to put the pressure on Tillerson, Kelly, and the GOP Congress to carry out the damn agenda that we voted for with Trump, in both the primary and general.

July 26, 2017

What collective action do Trump rallies lead to, post-election?

Last night in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump held a rally in the northern Appalachian section of the Rust Belt, which has voted reliably Democrat in presidential elections going back to the dawn of the New Deal era in 1932 (aside from the bloodbath against the McGovern in '72). They were not solid Reagan Democrats, even though they fit the demographic profile.

The last time there was solid Republican support in the region was during the Progressive Era, circa 1900 to 1930. If the Trump movement manages to re-align the GOP away from the failed Bush model of appealing to suburbanite yuppies, and into a new Progressive party (in the sense of Teddy Roosevelt, not SJWs), the Republicans can reclaim this territory that they have not held for nearly a century.

That depends on whether or not the Rust Belt sees real progress made over the next four to eight years. Salesmanship counts for nothing if you don't deliver the goods.

The Establishment in DC and the economic elites will do everything they can to make sure that working-class Americans get paid less and less in real income, while their cost of living only goes up and up. How else is the top supposed to keep getting richer? Most of the soaring inequality over the past 40 years has taken the form of the elites extracting wealth from the middle and lower layers of the pyramid -- not by something honest like inventing a better mouse trap.

That means Trump will get little help within DC, although the GOP is at least somewhat willing to make concessions on trade policy in order to placate these new Rust Belt voters. In general, though, the struggle will fall to the people themselves. That is Trump's only real leverage in the negotiations over how American society will be shaped -- the immense size of his supporter base that he alone can mobilize into collective action (e.g., at the ballot box and winning the Electoral College).

Watching the crowd live on TV, and reading reports from outside the venue, it's clear that Trump supporters are still fired up for the agenda that the President campaigned on over the past two years.

But what are they supposed to do after the rally is over, in order to help propel that agenda forward? The rallies feel like pep rallies or tailgate parties, which prepare a fan base to show up in force on the battlefield against a rival team -- or at least, to intimidate the other team from the sidelines. But still, rallies prepare a group of people for collective ritualistic combat.

During campaign season, the most powerful thing to do as a group was cast a vote in the upcoming primary and then general election. That's why rallies are held leading up to a vote, rather than months ahead -- they galvanize people into collective action. This electoral option no longer exists.

They could tune into the debates, follow him on social media, put up signs and wear hats, and other ways -- outside of vote-casting -- to signal to everyone else how large his support base is. Well, we know by now that he has a very large and very zealous fan base, so there is little room for growth in that area as well.

And now, Trump is actually presiding over the executive branch of the federal government -- so now his large supporter base can actually use their size to get things done in Washington. They need an issue to focus on, and a strategy to implement.

These Trump voters, who were the only way the GOP could have won the White House, are not interested in the Establishment's healthcare proposals, which they can sense by intuition will be more of the same rape by insurance and drug corporations. If it were truly good, Trump would be giving specifics, explaining how the pieces work, and getting fired up. And he would be catching a lot of flak from the Establishment -- if he is pushing something that they have been eagerly pushing for a long time, it's probably not good for the people, and Trump is just trying to sell the unsell-able crap from the GOP orthodoxy.

The discussion of tax policies also received only polite applause from the working-class Rust Belt audience. They know that tax rates have been falling for decades, both for individuals and corporations, all while good jobs and industries have been sent out of the country. Rust Belt people know by now that there are no frustrated industrial stewards who really, really want to invest in America and Americans, but just can't make it work because of those darn sky-high tax rates.

By now, they're wise to the ruse -- as tax rates have plummeted, investments have left for the Third World to chase higher ROI, so the elites are not frustrated stewards but greedy bastards.

At least Trump did not tout the stock market bubble this time, which nobody in the Rust Belt benefits from, and which is bound to pop anyway during his term. A stock market decline will accompany re-industrialization and other forms of improving incomes and lowering cost-of-living for the working and middle classes -- that means higher labor costs and lower revenues for the rent-seeking industries that make up most of the stock market bubble these days. It will unwind the long-term stock rally over the past 30-40 years, as we unwind the de-industrialization of that same period.

The issue for Rust Belt voters is re-industrialization, which they know will not be affected by GOP tax policies. The only good tax in this area is a big, fat 35% tariff on the goods that American companies produce abroad, slap their brand on it, and sell it here, drawing revenue from American consumers without hiring American workers.

As for strategy, Trump and his team needn't be shy about rabble-rousing in northern Appalachia. The region is a historical hotbed of ordinary people banding together for populist causes. In 1916, as tensions were beginning to rise around the nation, a strike by steelworkers at the Youngstown Sheet and Tube plant grew into a riot that eventually burned down most of the business district. Another wave of strikes hit in 1937 in the smaller steel companies, so that by WWII most of them were unionized as well as the big one, US Steel.

Nobody on either side likes that level of confrontation -- but either you treat the people right, or they're going to treat you as the enemy. During and after WWII, labor unrest had substantially calmed down, because business leaders had taken the hint from the many waves of strikes during the Progressive and early New Deal eras. They didn't want to wind up at the guillotines, or on the losing side of a Russian-style Revolution in America.

What the people of the Rust Belt need now is a way to participate in collective action against the elites who have wiped out their livelihoods by sending their good-paying jobs outside of the country. By now there may only be a corporate headquarters to target, rather than steel mills themselves. Or government buildings where the policies are made. Or the banks that finance the industrialization of the Third World.

And maybe the targets will not be in lower-level cities like Youngstown, but in the higher-scale cities where the wealth and power have become concentrated.

Large crowds can march on them, protest outside, occupy the buildings, form picket lines to disrupt business as usual -- something to let the elites know that the people are sick and tired of seeing their economy and communities being destroyed, and that they're only going to escalate things until they get them back. They don't have political favors to call in with the US Senate or the board of investors, so they'll have to use their only leverage, which is their immense numbers and determination.

I'm not saying Trump has to begin by leading a mob carrying torches and pitchforks toward the law firm building that crafted the contracts for leaving America and investing in the Third World. But at the very least, he could urge them to call their local politicians, and hold marches or demonstrations at the private sector places that have wiped out American industry. "Let them hear the voice of the forgotten man and woman."

Now that they have cast their ballot, there must be something collective for them to do in order to drop less and less subtle hints to the elites that they must change from anti-social to pro-social, and that business as usual will be disrupted until they do.

July 25, 2017

Trump needs warriors, not perfect gentlemen, to win

Diehard Trump supporters, along with the President himself, have been souring on Attorney General Sessions as the Deep State coup has expanded in scope and intensified in severity over the past several months.

Sessions opened the door to this coup by recusing himself from the Russia witch hunt, leaving his liberal Democrat deputy Rosenstein to appoint the Special Counsel Mueller after what was an inevitable firing of FBI Director Comey. Sessions could have withdrawn his recusal and stepped in to shut down the coup once he saw how bad it was getting, but he continues to maintain his recusal.

The reason Sessions gave for recusal was that some people might think he was an integral member of the Trump campaign, so that an investigation of that same campaign would have given him a conflict of interest. In order to avoid even the possible semblance of a potential quasi-conflict, he recused himself.

In a context of there being no crime, no evidence, and a naked attempt by the Deep State to overturn the election, a Democrat AG would never have recused himself and left Obama or Hillary wide open to sedition, even if the AG had been their formal campaign manager, and a Democrat President would never have accepted it from their appointee.

Republicans, especially of the conservative type, continue to prize their own personal reputation for integrity, propriety, and even-handedness when an enemy army is marching straight toward them with guns drawn. In war, sometimes you have to act crudely and inappropriately in order to keep from getting wiped out by the other side, and no one can be even-handed and dispassionate when only one side is hell-bent on wiping the other out by any means necessary.

"Blind justice" would mean an immediate shut-down of the witch hunt against Trump (no crime cited, no evidence either), and an immediate empaneling of grand juries (not the phony political theater of Congressional hearings) to prosecute the crimes of Hillary and Bill Clinton, Loretta Lynch, Obama, Susan Rice, the Podesta brothers, and all the rest of them. Throw in the Republican backstabbers, too, if we need to be bipartisan.

When a conservative completely misunderstands the context, he cannot be said to be pursuing propriety, which is necessarily context-sensitive. He is simply out-of-touch, reckessly so if the stakes are high for making an incorrect assessment.

Back in the 1950s, when the body politic was not at polarized war with itself, and when both parties agreed to rules of fair play, then what Sessions did would have been proper. In 2017, when conflict, bias, and duplicity are the only constants in politics, what he did was to back away from shielding his leader, who remains vulnerable to being taken out by an utterly amoral enemy force that is operating in war mode.

Propriety, in this context, would have meant nipping the coup in the bud by not recusing himself, and shutting these witch hunts down, even if it meant the bad-faith inquisition of the mass media would try to shame him into recusal for being "involved in" the campaign under investigation. He should have told them that everyone is "involved in" everything, if you argue it right, and it's not as though he were a central figure to the campaign's operation. "So think what you want about my integrity, the American people know this is the right thing to do to protect their vote from being overturned by this coup attempt."

The cult of decorum that paralyzes conservatives stems from a total misreading of what kind of environment they're in. When you're on the battlefield, what is proper is to shoot or be shot by the enemy -- a mindset you would never take on in a cooperative environment like moving a heavy piece of furniture together. We are at war, so that means we must act like it -- acting otherwise is not "remaining above the fray," it is sticking your head in the sand and getting mowed down by the advancing army.

The Democrats are not afraid to get mean and dirty because they see themselves at war, and hey, you don't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. Slandering Sessions as a racist during his confirmation hearing, going after the finances of Trump's family, and giving a pass to a Democrat would-be mass murderer targeting Republicans -- hey, war is hell, and these are all toward the greater good of ensuring that the righteous side wins over the evil side.

Any hope that the Democrats or the elites would sign a ceasefire with us after Trump's election have been flushed completely down the drain. That became obvious months ago. So like it or not, our side too must go into the same mindset as theirs -- we will slander one of theirs even if we don't believe the charges, we will sic the top executive agencies on them just like they did on us under Obama, and we will give a pass to the tumor gnawing away at John McCain's brain.

War is hell, we don't like thinking or acting this way because we're not inveterate sociopaths like the elites have become. But by now it is either them or us, and fighting with a self-imposed handicap is tantamount to surrender and suicide. We're not going to keep on thinking and acting that way once we have defeated them, and reconciliation and fence-mending can begin. But until they are defeated, we have no choice but to pulverize them with no mercy. The harder the clobbering, the swifter the resolution.

In the meantime, it's time for a reality check about what we're up against:

Listen, and understand! That Terminator is out there! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear! And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!

We need people who are going to be as relentless and no-holds-barred against the enemy as they are going to be -- and have been -- against us. I wouldn't be surprised if, even after the Mueller witch hunt gets shut down, some other bogus pretext gets conjured up to launch another one. The AG must be vigilant from start to finish of Trump's term.

If Sessions cannot be persuaded to play that role as AG (and I don't think that he is a brutal vicious killer), then he has to go, as close as he is to Trump ideologically. Only the AG can shut down these Deep State coups coming from the DoJ, and shame and admonish the Republican Congress for allowing their own separate witch hunts to continue in the Intelligence committees. Whoever fills the role of AG must absolutely be willing to protect the President from these threats, which no other position can intervene to stop.

Who could take his place? Giuliani is an obvious choice, but there may be more obscure choices too.

The two complaints I've heard about Giuliani are that he could never get 50 votes in the Senate -- in which case Trump appoints him during the upcoming recess, and while the Senate decides when to hold a confirmation vote, the new AG shuts down the witch hunt.

The second is that he was for sanctuary cities as Mayor of New York in the 1990s, and amnesty more recently. Him and virtually every other Republican, aside from Sessions. But the main role of the AG in this context is preventing the Deep State coups from succeeding, rather than letting them fester, expand, and terminate the body politic. If he were chosen by Trump, after the immigration-themed election, I doubt he would go against Trump's wishes about sanctuary cities.

Plus it's not like Sessions has cracked down on sanctuary cities either -- issuing warnings for defunding so far, rather than doing the defunding, or escalating quickly in order to bring them around before Trump's first four years are up. We know he has never defended them, but if he's not going to be a brutal vicious killer, we need someone who will be.

And to his credit, Giuliani helped to craft the Muslim ban so that it would not be challenged as discriminating against a religion. That actually did go through in two executive orders, and has only been tied up in courts below the Supreme Court. Sadly, that's a greater tangible result on hardline immigration policy than the AG himself can claim so far.

Giuliani was also experienced at surveilling radical mosques after 9/11 in order to foil future attempts by jihadists already living within our borders. Radical Islamic terrorism was a major theme of the election, and continues to resonate with voters. He'd probably find it easier to label CAIR as a terrorist organization, especially now that our jihadist allies in the Middle East are targeting Qatar for its support of political Islam groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (while ignoring their own support for far more violent forms of Islam like ISIS).

Giuliani also broke up the mafia so much that the Sicilians put out a hit on him during the 1980s. Not to mention breaking up gangs during the falling-crime period of the 1990s. That would translate much more naturally into breaking up jihadist cells, MS-13, and other organized groups of bad hombres.

Again, maybe there's someone better yet than Giuliani, but he seems like a much better fit than the current AG for the world we actually live in.

Like Ann Coulter, I favor transferring Sessions to Homeland Security, where he can devote all his attention to immigration, terrorism, and drug cartels, and not have to get into the muck with the Deep State witch hunts. That would also dislodge one of the three members of the Pentagon boarding party, General Kelly, who could not sound any less like Trump on immigration if he tried.

It's nothing personal -- it's war, and if someone doesn't want to perform their duties in a certain role, they have to be assigned to a different role. People need to put aside their concerns over their personal image, and do what's best for the team to win against the advancing army with guns drawn.

July 23, 2017

Pessimistic on the elites, optimistic on the people

The tone of most diehard Trump supporters -- from Lou Dobbs to Alex Jones to Mike Cernovich to random white working class voters to yours truly -- has changed over the past several months, away from the triumphalism of the transition and Inauguration period, and back toward insurgency. What gives?

Quite simply, we thought that after we sent the elites the mother of all rude awakenings throughout the campaign, culminating in "Trump wins!" on election night, they would begin to negotiate with us. Given how stinging and unambiguous our rejection of their vision was, the negotiation should have been over the terms of their surrender. But at least some form of reconciliation between the insulated parasitic elites and the alienated and abused citizenry.

And yet while relations should have moved toward repair and harmony, they have instead moved toward further fracture and conflict between the upper and below-the-upper layers of society. That has come from the elites doggedly holding onto their parasitic grasp over the highest levers of power, not from the people who were content to signal the greatest vote of no confidence ever in human history, and then go back to their normal everyday lives.

It is the elites who have reneged on the social contract -- not just silently withdrawing from it and hoping nobody notices, as they had begun to do during the 1970s and '80s, but now actively conspiring to subvert, in plain sight, the loud-and-clear will of the people.

This is most obvious in the escalating Deep State witch hunt against Trump, where Democrats play bad cop and Republicans play good cop against the detained President. This conflict will absolutely not end until one side shuts the other side down. Either the Trump faction within the administration will shut down the witch hunt, or the witch hunt will shut down the Trump faction.

We cannot autistically quibble over what particular forms these two sole outcomes may take. A victory for the Trump faction could conceivably stem from Trump himself firing Mueller, or AG Sessions rescinding his recusal and firing Mueller, or Trump firing Deputy AG Rosenstein and anyone else further down until he finds someone willing to fire Mueller, or or or...

And a victory for the witch hunt could conceivably stem from a formal exit from office by Trump, or by others in his camp, or Trump becoming neutered while remaining nominally in office, or a witch hunt that has no final conclusion but manages to consume so much attention, resources, and political capital, that very little is left over to pursue the Trump agenda. Maybe the GOP Congress would formally voice no confidence, maybe they would only stand idly by. Maybe an element of the military would speak up, or even act up, and maybe they would not. Or or or...

The point is that particulars do not matter -- either our side will shut down their side, or they will shut down our side. As Chuck Schumer warned on primetime, the intelligence agencies "have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you" if you take them on. Just because plan A doesn't succeed, doesn't mean that plan B through plan Z are not also running. Our job is to keep all of those subversions from toppling the democratically elected President.

Although the coup is the most threatening plot against the President's agenda, the elites have sabotaged his efforts on all other major fronts as well. For every step that Trump takes in the right direction, the whole rest of the elites take us ten steps backward. And on issues that were central throughout the campaign, where the elites cannot feign ignorance about what the American people voted for.

At the macro level, they have sidelined the major issues of the campaign -- immigration, global entanglements, re-industrialization, radical Islamic terrorism -- and pursued their own issues that nobody cares about or does not trust them to do the right thing -- re-shaping healthcare in the GOP's mold, revising the entire tax code, and maybe in the distant future something about infrastructure (in America, not Afghanistan).

Those are the standard obsessions of the GOP orthodoxy that were decisively rejected by hardcore Republican voters during the primary. If we wanted the insurance monopolies to re-do Obamacare, or the Koch Brothers to re-write the entire tax code, or the Club for Growth to set our national economic priorities, we would have voted for any of the other dozen GOP candidates. We did not, so we did not.

It is a baldfaced betrayal of the voters that the GOP Congress is acting as though Jeb Bush had won the election, rather than the guy who reminded Americans that "the World Trade Center came down under your brother's reign".

Even on the issues that the elites are pursuing, they are not taking positions that the people want.

Trump did not run on "getting the government out of healthcare" (a failed GOP slogan), has defended single-payer on both moral and cost-efficiency grounds since the 1990s, and said the government will pay the hospital bill of a poor person who gets sick so that they will not be "dying in the streets".

Trump barely put together a tax plan during the campaign, and none of his fans cared one way or the other about it. But certainly the white working class voters in the Rust Belt who delivered him victory do not care about slashing corporate tax rates or abolishing the estate tax that only targets the inheritances of the ultra-wealthy.

In fact, when Trump was planning a campaign in 2000, he not only promoted single-payer healthcare, he also wanted a 14% tax on wealth or total net worth, not just income, which would have paid off the entire federal debt and left enough over for a middle-class tax cut. With the corporate elites preparing the tax reform plans (Cohn, Mnuchin, Brady, Ryan, et al), we can be sure that they are not planning to soak the rich in order to relieve the middle class.

And on foreign entanglements, Trump ran on a clear America-only platform. He did not point to a single alliance that the American people were benefiting from, and repeatedly named all of the parasites who have been "ripping us off big-league" for decades. Those alliances have only been ramped up, with the military-industrial complex sending hundreds of billions worth of arms to Jihadi Arabia, the Pentagon sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan, escalation within Syria, serving as South Korea and Japan's military for free as tensions rise with the North, and the all-out sabotage of Trump's plan to "get along with Russia" -- from the ever-intensifying hysteria over "meddling" in the election, to economic sanctions, to speeches in Warsaw devoted to the theme of containing Russia, to commitment to regime change against their allies (still the official goal in Syria, and maybe next in Iran).

Trump's victories have mostly taken the form of blocking new entanglements that the elites had been hoping to enter us into, where we were not already entangled -- TPP, Paris climate accords, regime change in Venezuela, etc. The one exception may be NAFTA, although the prognosis looks uncertain after the statement of goals barely discusses manufacturing and re-industrialization, but is heavy on agriculture, finance, and media sectors. Trade is the one area that the Trump faction has had the most success in -- at least getting their people into top positions (Ross, Lighthizer). With the rest of the big picture showing concerted elite betrayal, we can no longer just rest assured that the Trump people will prevail over the corporate globalists in the NAFTA re-negotiations.

Also in the big picture -- elite betrayal is not limited to the Trump agenda. The British elites have already signaled their intention to water down or neuter the Brexit victory, against an electoral uprising of the people. And the Democrat Establishment has refused to move in a populist direction, against the wishes of half of its own voters and the wishes of any Trump voter who might consider voting Democrat at the state or local level. They are still the party of Wall Street and identity politics, and have expanded into outright sedition, becoming the most zealous accomplices of the Deep State against the democracy.

So far, then, there is minimal evidence that the elites have decided to relent and compromise with their alienated and increasingly angry populations. The only place where the people can exert leverage is at the ballot box -- but the elites might just ignore the outcome and carry on as before, or even double down in order to punish the people for daring to issue a public vote of no confidence.

There are other ways that the people can use their leverage, which consists entirely in their sheer numbers rather than political connections, favors owed, blackmail, wealth, and so on and so forth. If it comes down to torches and pitchforks, the side with the larger mob will defeat the side with the smaller mob. At a lower level of escalation, it could be a million protesters surrounding the CNN building, or a million marching on the Pentagon, or a million forming a picket line around a plant that is sending its jobs out of the country or that relies on immigrant labor (legal or illegal).

Those mass direct actions, along with mass participation at the ballot box, turned the country around during the Progressive Era, including the closing off of immigration during the 1920s. If the elites refuse to make deals with our good-faith negotiator, Trump, then we will have no alternative but to escalate the type of person we send into the White House, and the kind of actions we take elsewhere -- from complaining on the internet, to occupying the City Halls of sanctuary cities.

So far, the people seem determined not to just go back to alienation mode as the elites sabotage the nascent populist and nationalist revolt. In an earlier time, we would've just said, "Yeah, well politics sucks and you can't change things after all, so let's just go back to our lives and block it all out again." Now the people are getting more and more angry that the government isn't doing what we told them to do, and how the elites are more and more flagrantly treating us like a bunch of peons who will never get a voice in how the society is run.

That smoldering anger is promising -- it means the Trump faction can stoke the embers into a real fire, unlike in the aftermath of most elections where everyone goes back to their own preoccupations. But that means that Trump and his team must shift gears back to the rabble-rousers they were during the campaign, and give the people something concrete they can channel their immense numbers into, something beyond casting the vote that we have already cast.

Most of what the people want is already on the books somewhere -- it's just gone unenforced by the executive and judicial wings of the government for so long. Trump's faction has very little political capital within the DC swamp itself, and will likely continue to be unsuccessful at changing things through legislation or even executive orders (who will enforce the should-be enforcers?).

Trump can take to the bully pulpit, but only if it manages to fire up the people who then take concrete mass action against the elites who refuse to follow and enforce existing laws. Virtually nobody in government respects Trump, so they will not respond to his attempts to shame them or chew them out. The only way for Trump to really light a fire under someone's ass is to sic his mob of rabid supporters on them. No one in the Swamp has that large and that zealous of a mob of their own, and what are they going to do instead -- try to call in favors from the CIA to gun down a mass of citizens protesting their parasitic elites?

Smug and naive triumphalism is no longer tenable. The verdict is in: the elites are hell-bent on not just ignoring the voice of the people but punishing them for daring to speak up, and a President who has only political debt within the DC swamp must mobilize the people into action to counteract the widespread subversion of democracy by the doubling-down elites.

July 20, 2017

Deportations far LOWER than under Obama -- Amnesty planned?

There are between 10 to 20 million illegal immigrants living in America, making deportation the highest priority for making America American again. The new immigrants each year, legal or illegal, are far smaller compared to the giant mass that are already here. Even if we hermetically sealed the border and allowed zero new immigrants, we would still have the 10-20 million illegals to deal with.

The plan from the Trump campaign was to deport them, however long it took, and whoever we started with ("bad hombres" first, sympathetic DACA people last). Trump even pushed for Congress to remove birthright citizenship (only requires a Congressional act, not an amendment), and dismissed a reporter who demanded that he use a forty-word euphemism instead of "anchor babies".

However, deportations are actually far lower than they were under Obama -- a betrayal by General Kelly from the Pentagon-controlled DHS.

In an earlier report on the first three months of Trump, data from ICE showed a decline in deportations from 20K per month in the same period of 2016 to about 18K per month in 2017. That's a 10% double-digit drop. The numbers are similar compared to the same period of 2015 as well. In 2014, Obama deported a lot more -- 29K per month in the same period, for a drop in 2017 of nearly 40%.

I didn't post on that report at the time because I wanted to give them a chance to do better. But now there's a new report with ICE data on the following two months as well, and the picture has gotten even worse. From February through June, deportations averaged 17K per month, and trended downward for a low in June.

Now, those numbers should be higher than under Obama -- how much higher is a subjective question, but any decline from Obama, let alone in the double-digit percent range, is unmistakably a move in the wrong direction. And as with the rest of the outcomes, the situation has grown worse in recent months, when the Establishment slammed the shackles back on Trump, after he had ruled with the shackles off for the first couple months.

The non-excuse given by ICE is that they have such a large backlog that they can't get through them all fast enough. Maybe, but Obama had a backlog of them too -- and if Obama's government could deport them at a certain rate, the Trump government can do at least that speed, regardless of how many more are piling up in the back of the line.

At the glacial pace of 17K per month, there would not even be 1 million deported over all four years of Trump's term, just 816K. That would only be 5-10% of the illegal population already here -- and that's assuming zero new illegals ever showed up over all four years to replace them. If we still issue the number of visas that we are (most illegals are over-stays of non-immigrant visas), they would replace most of the deportees, so that we'd knock out maybe 1-2% of the illegal population.

That is pathetic and unacceptable after the mandate the American voters gave to Trump in the GOP primary, and the general election.

As for arrests, there's an interesting pattern where arrests "at the border" (close enough to it) have dropped dramatically, while arrests overall have shot up, compared to Obama. The spin is that border crossings are way down, reflected in the lower arrests at the border, and presumably ramping up farther inland to drive up the overall arrests.

But given the weaker-than-Obama numbers on deportations, I wonder if they're fooling around with the arrest picture. Perhaps the number of illegal border crossings is not down that much, but the agents are arresting them once they cross the line between "close to the border" and "in the interior of the country". Maybe it's just 10 feet over that magic line. Then they could claim that arrests have gone down "at the border" (true), and therefore border crossings themselves are way down (spin: maybe, maybe not). That is also consistent with higher arrests overall.

If the decrease of border crossings has truly dropped dramatically, that is not because of tougher enforcement but because of the fear factor -- Trump is President, and high-ranking officials have said you're not welcome here illegally, and you'll be subject to deportation. But if that were true, you'd think the fear factor would be striking would-be immigrants from all over the world, not just from Central America.

That would mean a decrease in demand for visas, especially the non-immigrant kind that they would plan to over-stay and remain as illegals. Yet visas are being issued similar to Obama's last year, casting doubt that there is a strong fear factor keeping would-be illegals in their home countries, aside from the six countries that were initially scared away by the Muslim ban. That would mean most of the dramatic drop in arrests at the Southern border is due to letting them walk right over the line where "close to the border" ends, to make things look better for the nationalist audience.

As I said, this is all the work of the globalist elites who have hijacked the Trump White House to sneak in their own GOP Establishment BS through the back door, unless we mobilize to drive them back out.

General Kelly was a member of the Pentagon boarding party (along with Mattis, and joined later by McMaster), whose mission was to neuter or even reverse the nationalist goals of the Trump movement -- Mattis and McMaster on the international scene, to prop up our failed imperial ambitions, and Kelly on the domestic scene, to make sure we keep the illegals in the country (he pleaded to Congress to amnesty the DACA people before it's too late), continue issuing visas in similar numbers to Obama (Tillerson's job), and make a half-assed effort at best to Build The Wall (DHS' solicitation of bids includes a separate track for bids that do not include a wall at all).

Kelly also publicly places blame for the drug cartel problem on the American people, whose insatiable demand for drugs creates the conditions in which the cartels will ramp up their supply. He was head of SOUTHCOM, the military's focus area that is Latin America minus Mexico, and complained that Obama wouldn't give him enough money or manpower to keep Latin America's problems contained within Latin America.

Well now President Trump is in the White House, and has campaigned on literally walling off Latin America from our country in order to keep the cartels and their drugs at bay. What is Kelly's excuse now?

What this looks like now is an attempt to keep the illegal population here, perhaps in exchange for a tough border and lower immigration going forward. And 10-20 million illegals are not going to stay illegal forever, if they are kept from being deported as part of a deal -- meaning they will get amnesty and likely citizenship.

That is an outrageous concession just to get a tough border and lowered immigration going forward. Our goal is to deport most or all of them. Once they get amnesty and/or citizenship, it cannot be taken away, whereas a tough border can be allowed to crumble or actively torn down by future open borders Presidents, and a lower immigration quota can always be raised by open borders types.

Our strategy must be to deport millions of illegals, who cannot so easily come back even if invited, in exchange for making the DACA a renewable and indefinite program -- which could always be ended by an even more closed-borders President, and the DACA people deported as well.

We won the primary and the general election, so we must get the bigger and lasting concessions, while the losing GOP and Democrat wings of the Establishment must get the smaller and more uncertain concessions.

There is no more time for giving the globalist elites the benefit of the doubt, let alone sticking your rationalizing head in the sand. The cold hard reality is that, with Trump having no political capital within DC and having burned bridges with "his own" party during the campaign, the elites are moving to keep the illegals here, give them amnesty, probably citizenship, and dole out a few breadcrumbs for our border wall project and immigration quotas in the future.

It's back to insurgency mode, people -- and they are never going to let up until they are totally defeated. It ain't over till it's over.

July 18, 2017

NAFTA re-do spurns manufacturing, benefits finance, media, agriculture

Since the Establishment hijacked the Trump White House in April, I've always emphasized the exception of the trade issue. It was the one area where the Trump campaign was being put into action, whereas on all other major topics the key GOP power groups (Pentagon, RNC, etc.) had seized control. That was reflected in personnel, where Ross as Commerce Secretary and Lighthizer as Trade Representative were clearly from the economic nationalist camp, unlike the globalists in charge of Defense, National Security, Treasury, etc.

I reasoned that the Establishment was letting Trump get his way on trade in order to keep the Rust Belt voters happy, so that the GOP could win further presidential elections and maintain its grip over the executive branch. Without Rust Belt voters, the GOP never wins the White House again.

So I was using "trade" synonymously with "re-industrialization" and manufacturing -- Trump won those Rust Belt states that have been de-industrialized, giving them hope that their economies would re-industrialize and return prosperity to their communities.*

Unfortunately, when the office of the Trade Representative released its objectives for re-negotiating NAFTA, manufacturing is just a little afterthought, while the sectors of finance, telecommunications (media), and agriculture make up the bulk of the focus, and with the most highly detailed goals.

The headline from the Axios article says it all: "Trade advocates relieved at Trump's moderate turn on NAFTA".

Free-trader approval:

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert released a statement praising the Trump administration's document. Why you should pay attention to Brady: He's a Texan with vested interest in keeping NAFTA afloat, and he's one of the most principled free-traders in Congress.

The Chamber of Commerce's commended the objectives because they "hew to the 'do no harm' philosophy long advocated by the business community," per Inside Trade.

In short: plenty were worried Trump would blow up NAFTA and today's document is the clearest sign they're moving in a more conventional direction.

The article doesn't go into detail about why the free trade ideologues and Chamber of Commerce are happy about the proposed goals, but a look into the document itself shows why: there is no sincere effort to reverse the "giant sucking sound" of manufacturing jobs going from America into Mexico over the past 20-odd years. The only sectors that they are planning to go to bat for are agriculture, finance, and the media.

Here is the entire brief section on objectives for industrial goods:

- Maintain existing reciprocal duty-free market access for industrial goods and strengthen disciplines to address non-tariff barriers that constrain U.S. exports to NAFTA countries.

- Maintain existing duty-free access to NAFTA country markets for U.S. textile and apparel products and seek to improve competitive opportunities for exports of U.S. textile and apparel products while taking into account U.S. import sensitivities.

- Promote greater regulatory compatibility with respect to key goods sectors to reduce burdens associated with unnecessary differences in regulation, including through regulatory cooperation where appropriate.

The last item is meaningless, since it's not regulations that sucked the jobs out. The first two are mostly about "maintaining" the status quo and just making it easier for the handful of remaining American manufacturers to get their products into Mexico.

It takes as fait accompli the tens of thousands of vanished factories of the entire past quarter century, and does not seek to force them back into America through any means at all -- e.g., by slapping a big fat 35% tariff on every item made in Mexico by an American-owned company that outsourced its workforce, so that the American company's cheap labor strategy will be foiled, and they might as well do production here again.

Notice the lack of specific areas of focus and specific problems within them that need to be corrected. They don't really care about manufacturing, which is treated as a boring homogeneous blob that is only there for feel-good lip service.

Contrast that with their attention to agriculture:

- Maintain existing reciprocal duty-free market access for agricultural goods.

- Expand competitive market opportunities for U.S. agricultural goods in NAFTA countries, substantially equivalent to the competitive opportunities afforded foreign exports into the U.S. market, by reducing or eliminating remaining tariffs.

- Seek to eliminate non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural exports including discriminatory barriers, restrictive administration of tariff rate quotas, other unjustified measures that unfairly limit access to markets for U.S. goods, such as cross subsidization, price discrimination, and price undercutting.

- Provide reasonable adjustment periods for U. S. import sensitive agricultural products, engaging in close consultation with Congress on such products before initiating tariff reduction negotiations.

- Promote greater regulatory compatibility to reduce burdens associated with unnecessary differences in regulation, including through regulatory cooperation where appropriate.

All of a sudden, they're obsessed with expanding the American producers' market in Mexico and Canada, not just "maintaining" the status quo. And look at all the fine-grained mechanisms they are targeting -- rate quotas, cross subsidization, price discrimination, undercutting. They don't even name the practices by which American manufacturing has been sucked out into Mexico.

They're so fixated on agriculture that they have a separate section with five goals just about safety regulations that might limit American agricultural products.

Reality check: agriculture was invented 10,000 years ago, and did not make us into the prosperous nation we were in the 1950s. It is mostly done in the deep red states of the Plains and Mountains, so that catering to that sector draws no new Republican voters. Most of the labor is done by immigrants rather than Americans, whether they are here legally or illegally. Agriculture is heavily subsidized by the American taxpayers, unlike manufacturing.

And BTW, General Kelly at DHS just approved another 15,000 visas for unskilled seasonal labor, since the cap had already been met at 66,000 for the year. What is reduced from the "illegal immigrant" column will simply be moved into the "legal immigrant" column by increasing visas. 

The only ones who benefit from this are the big agribusiness corporations, akin to the landowning class who ruled over the serfs in feudalism.

During the campaign, Trump dismissed the focus on agriculture in trade deals by pointing out how "all we send to Japan is beef," while they're sending us cars that zip off the over-stuffed container ships at 40 mph. Making cars leads to national prosperity, raising cattle does not.

So much for trade in goods, what about trade in services? Here is where the American elites are really going to make a killing, since only advanced professionals will be in demand at the international level. It's not going to be blue-collar workers who are put on retainer for intellectual property litigation.

The media sector:

- Promote competitive supply of telecommunications services by facilitating market entry through transparent regulation and an independent regulator.

- Secure commitments to provide reasonable network access for telecommunications suppliers through interconnection and access to physical facilities and scarce resources.

- Establish provisions protecting telecommunications services suppliers' choice of technology.

It's not enough for AT&T to merge with Time-Warner (parent company of CNN), they have to expand their telephone / cable / internet / entertainment empire into Mexico's large market as well. That creates jobs for the high-powered lawyers in mergers and acquisitions who will draft the contracts, and it will enrich the big stockholders. But the skilled technicians and unskilled workers who install the Mexicans' cable and internet will be local Mexicans, not Americans.

The finance sector:

- Expand competitive market opportunities for United States financial service suppliers to obtain fairer and more open conditions of financial services trade.

- Improve transparency and predictability in their respective financial services regulatory procedures.

- Ensure that the NAFTA countries refrain from imposing measures in the financial services sector that restrict cross-border data flows or that require the use or installation of local computing facilities.

Same thing applies here as with the media -- only the high-powered professionals will see new jobs and greater income by spreading the tentacles of the big banks into Mexico.

Finally, the digital sector:

- Secure commitments not to impose customs duties on digital products (e.g., software, music, video, e-books).

- Ensure non-discriminatory treatment of digital products transmitted electronically and guarantee that these products will not face government-sanctioned discrimination based on the nationality or territory in which the product is produced.

- Establish rules to ensure that NAFTA countries do not impose measures that restrict cross-border data flows and do not require the use or installation of local computing facilities.

- Establish rules to prevent governments from mandating the disclosure of computer source code.

Once again, no blue-collar or middle-class Americans will gain jobs or income. This is designed to benefit elite professionals whose digital products can be scaled up to an international level -- a smartphone app, a pop song, etc.

These three service sectors -- finance, media, digital -- are all deep blue liberal Democrat constituencies, unlike the deep red agribusiness. But the result is the same: no new Republican voters are brought on board, few new jobs for American workers, and greater wealth concentrated in the elite stratum. Also like agribusiness, these sectors are heavily subsidized by the taxpayers -- bailouts of big banks, handing over the airwaves and internet to private mega-corporations, and inflating one tech bubble after another.

Unlike these sectors that are the focus of NAFTA negotiations, the ignored manufacturing sector used to lie in purple states, offering the chance to swing yuge numbers of voters into the GOP column. It created millions of jobs for working and middle-class Americans -- not foreigners, and not elites. It paid high wages. And it was not kept alive by government subsidies.

Just look at what the different governments subsidize -- America subsidizes farming and banking, while letting manufacturing fend for itself, whereas Mexico or South Korea subsidize industry, while allowing their farms to get driven out of business and their finances to be taken over by multinational banks.

Until that is reversed, our country will continue to lose high-paying jobs for ordinary Americans, and be further driven into a polarized wealth pyramid with more poors and more elites. That is a recipe for a literal bloody revolution, and if the people in charge want to avoid that, they will bring back those manufacturing plants and jobs that allowed for a large prosperous middle class in America -- prosperous and satisfied with fairness concerns, that they did not feel like launching a Russian Revolution against their superiors, who treated them with noblesse oblige.

Sadly, it looks like the greedy short-sighted Establishment is taking over the issue of trade, preventing the re-industrialization of the Rust Belt -- or anywhere else in America that wants plentiful high-paying jobs for everyday people.

Silver lining: unlike the issue of warmongering, where there are no anti-war groups left to organize citizens against their wasteful and reckless government, there still are trade and industrial unions left to organize workers -- especially after they were promised a restoration of the Rust Belt.

Trump needs an organized mass of citizens to fight for his agenda, giving him cover in the swamp of Washington. If he is left to fight the populist and nationalist battle all by himself, the Establishment members will tell him to go to hell, ignore his priorities, and go right back to business as usual. He has no leverage within DC itself, so he will not be able to retaliate against them -- unless he wants to take the fight public and dare them to defy him out in the open! Even so, that will be much more likely to succeed if he is given cover fire by armies of citizens.

The corrupt leadership of the big unions has gone along with de-industrialization, but the rank-and-file are still organized, and are not exactly the "go along to get along" type. Especially if Trump himself wages war against the de-industrializers who are trying to hijack the effort to re-negotiate NAFTA, the rank-and-file union members will eagerly team up with him. They want to be led, and their current leaders are largely sell-outs. If Trump wants to lead, they will follow -- but only if it's toward re-industrialization.

Lastly, it turns out that the GOP really is still the party of stupid. I thought they'd at least concede the battle over re-industrialization in order to keep the Rust Belt states in the red column, but they are hell-bent on defying the Trump agenda all the way through.

They think white working-class people in Michigan will be too stupid to notice the lack of delivering the goods on restoring the Rust Belt industries, and will simply be won over by image and messaging, rather than substance and results.

News flash: Great Lakes people don't care for Trump's image or tone! They took a chance on him because of his promise to re-build their lost factories. They may even give him a chance again in 2020 regardless. But if the RNC, Chamber of Commerce, and the rest of the Establishment prevent Trump from delivering the goods, kiss the Rust Belt good-bye after he's left office.

* It was the Industrial Revolution that made us so prosperous, and narrowed the inequality gap between workers and elites. Finished goods are highly valued by buyers because most people cannot turn raw materials into a final usable product on their own. The more useful the good, and the more difficult it is to make, the more the consumer is willing to pay beyond the cost of making it -- like a car. That means higher profit margins compared to low-margin things that people can easily make themselves, like meals.

If the industry were competitive, the owners of a company would have to pass along a lot of that high profit margin to their workers, or they would work somewhere else. Low-margin industries like food service and retail service do not have much profit to pass along to begin with, even if the worker got 100% of it. Only manufacturing industries can support a large prosperous workforce.

July 17, 2017

Pointless "messaging campaigns": Go on the attack, not defense

Rather than defend the President from the growing witch hunt, the RNC leaders in the White House are sending him on a tour of "theme weeks" that are supposed to change the narrative from the Russia fixation. This week is "Made in America", highlighting companies who have not off-shored their work force.

None of these theme weeks will change the narrative for a nanosecond because they cannot compete for interest value with the ongoing Deep State coup in plain view that threatens to overturn the results of the election. Whether you support the coup or are against the coup, that topic obviously holds your interest more than a tour of plants that still make things in America, however much you may also support that.

Trump is a media genius, and realizes that it is the psychological hook that matters for a story to catch on -- not how often it is repeated, or how prestigious or high-ranking the story-tellers are, or how much money goes into its promotion. And he is not stupid enough to think that any of these "theme weeks" can compete in their psychological hook with the coup attempt.

Only the Republican Establishment, led in the White House by Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, would come up with a communications campaign this pointless. First, because they don't understand how the media environment works. And second, because they are not interested in protecting Trump from the witch hunt -- they want him held hostage to sneak their own unpopular agenda through the backdoor, rather than pursue the populist and nationalist positions that won him the election.

In order to truly drive the narrative, Trump has to make an even bigger move than the day-to-day activities of the Deep State coup agents. The most successful so far was the morning he sent out a string of tweets accusing the Obama administration of illegal surveillance of Trump's campaign and transition.

Flagrant illegal use of the surveillance state in order to sabotage an incoming presidency? And the accusation coming from out of the blue -- and on Twitter -- and from the President himself? How can you possibly top that story?!

That forced the media to cover the political crimes of the Obama team, both the front office faces like Attorney General Lynch and back office Deep State agents like CIA Director Brennan. Day after day, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes kept coming forward with disturbing findings, and regardless of how much he revealed to the public, it was obvious the Obama team had fucked up big-league.

When it then came out that Obama's National Security Advisor Susan Rice was the one who unmasked Mike Flynn's name in surveillance, things were looking pretty dire for the Deep State (and for the corporate media, since that story was broken by Mike Cernovich).

But unlike the worthless and disloyal RNC, the Deep State actually understands the laws of psychology. After the story against Obama's team had gained so much momentum that it threatened the former National Security Advisor, they decided to change the topic themselves in an even bigger move -- use whatever flimsy pretext they could find in order to get the Pentagon to launch missiles into Syria, and make Trump be the public face of the attack as Commander-in-Chief. That would make him stand with the coup agents, in the interests of national security unity during an attack on a foreign power.

That move succeeded, and we haven't heard anything about the "Obama tapped my wires" story ever since.

Only another rapid-fire barrage of tweets from Trump targeting the Deep State can shift the national conversation away from the witch hunt, while weakening the coup plotters at the same time. "Theme weeks" are too boring to change the topic, and they do not target the enemies who pose the greatest threat to the President's success.

July 15, 2017

Gray-haired swingers show degeneracy is generational

A slideshow at the NY Post shows participants from the "world's largest swinging convention" held in New Orleans, and the average age looks like 50 to 60. The one woman who was under 40 was photographed twice in a desperate attempt to make it look not so geriatric.

The under-50 generations may be more likely to "support" deviance of many kinds, but less likely to actually practice them. Boomer women are sluts, while Gen X and Millennial women are thots (attention whores).

What is the appeal of swingers' clubs? It's related to the outgoing social atmosphere, rather than the cocooning one. Swingers are not simply couples who have open relationships -- they want to meet up in the same location and get it on in a crowd setting, unlike doing it in the privacy of your own home.

They seem to get a rush from feeding off of all the other activity going on around them. This preference also drove the trend of orgy scenes in old porno movies.

It may also help with their self-consciousness, losing themselves in a faceless crowd in the dark, similar to dancing in a nightclub rather than dancing with only your partner in the room at home. The herd mindset helps them get over their inhibitions -- they feel like they're just passively conforming to the environment, not choosing to act out.

This need to overcome inhibitions and remove personal responsibility is common to deviance, showing up also among gays, who prefer dark faceless crowd settings to suppress the awareness that what they're doing is wrong (everybody else is doing it, as it were, so it can't be wrong).

Swingers' clubs took off during the Disco era, and pictures from the time show the couples to be mostly 30-somethings. Those would be the Silent Generation, who also made up the bulk of the hippie and counter-culture phenomenon a decade earlier (Boomers were still in school). The Silents were raised during the cocooning Midcentury, and were the most desperate to indulge themselves once the zeitgeist became more outgoing, fun-loving, and rising in crime rates circa 1960. They were also the ones who made up the divorce epidemic of the time.

Well, 40 years later and the average birth year of swingers has only budged 10 to 20 years later than the Silents. That shows a strong cohort effect that lasts throughout the lifetimes of the Silent and Boomer generations (together the Me Generation), who became adults during the outgoing and rising-crime period of roughly 1960 to 1990.

Gen X and Millennials, who became adults during the cocooning and falling-crime period of roughly 1990 to present, did not socially imprint on a climate of "if it feels good, do it". However, when the climate does become outgoing and rising-crime again, the Millennials will repeat the history of their Silent Gen counter-parts, who were raised by helicopter parents and socially sheltered, and who will jump at the first chance to lose control when the culture finally does change to a more freewheeling zeitgeist.

Gen X, like their Greatest Gen counter-parts, will be too old to get in on the surge of degeneracy among 30-somethings, who by that time will be Millennials.

I explored these themes in depth during 2010-2012 (see the archive at the right of the page), if you've only started reading here during the past few years. Here are related posts on the decline in flashing and streaking, and the graying of nudists who cannot recruit anyone under 40.

July 13, 2017

"Democrat obstruction" rings hollow when GOP controls all of government

As everybody is growing more frustrated once again with the GOP, we're hearing deflection about how the lack of progress is due to the obstructionism of the Democrats. Trump himself says this repeatedly (probably after arm-twisting by the GOP Establishment), and so did Kellyanne Conway and RNC head Ronna McDaniel on Lou Dobbs the other night, when he pressed them to explain why Congress isn't delivering the goods on the President's agenda.

Since election night, there has been tremendous gloating about how shut-out the Democrats have become -- losing the White House, Senate, House, governorships, and state legislatures during Obama's terms. That means they cannot be to blame: they don't control anything anymore.

That's what really spooks the worthless do-nothing Republican Party -- now that they control everything, they cannot possibly place the blame on the other party.

During the GOP primaries, Trump often said that the Republicans were more of a let-down than the Democrats, especially since they actually had control over the Congress and were in a position to do something. See this interview with Hannity from November 2015 at 9:40.

Agreeing with Hannity, Trump says:

I'm a Republican, I'm a conservative. Nothing's happened since we took the Senate. Now we have the House, we have the Senate. Nothing's happened. It's the same exact story.

In fact, in a certain way, with all of his executive orders, Obama is doing better. We take the Senate, we have majorities, nothing happens. I'm almost more disappointed -- I'll take the word "almost" out -- I'm more disappointed in the Republicans than the Democrats. Because at least the Democrats, we know where they're coming from. The Republicans have done nothing. Look at the budget they just passed. They've done nothing.

He must feel even more disappointed now, since they really have no excuse, with their party in control of the White House on top of everywhere else.

Why isn't Congress tackling the main themes of the presidential campaign, like immigration, re-industrialization, nationalist rather than globalist foreign policy, and draining the Swamp? Not because Democrats are obstructing -- because the Republican Party is dead set against the Trump agenda.

The "b-b-but 60 votes" excuse for the Senate is BS because the majority party can change the Senate rules however it wants, as long as it isn't against the Constitution (where some actions do call for a 2/3 majority vote). The threshold of 60 only dates back to the 1970s -- they would not even be getting rid of some ancient tradition.

The Republicans don't want to go by simple majority because then they would have no plausible deniability for obstructing President Trump. Then they would have to drop the act, come right out, and say, "We just don't feel like working on what the President got elected to pursue".

Well, what about going the route of signing executive orders all day? On the campaign trail, Trump said he'd try to get deals made through Congress, but if not, he'd make like Obama and break open an entire case of pens to sign executive orders.

Earlier I pointed out that when the Establishment hijacked the Trump presidency in the beginning of April, the steady stream of Trumpian executive orders slowed to a trickle, and then shut off completely. The only exception is on trade and manufacturing, where the GOP has decided to allow him some freedom, in order to keep the Rust Belt voters on board.

In the six weeks since that report, nothing has changed. Almost no actions in June or so far in July. The only new executive order has been to re-establish the Space Council -- nice, I guess, but not part of the Trump agenda. It is likely designed to create more manufacturing jobs, rather than actually set about colonizing Mars or whatever people are imagining. He also amended one of Obama's orders on expedited visas, to say that it was no longer a priority to process 80% of applicants within 3 weeks -- giving us more time to thoroughly vet them.

The Democrats are not preventing him from signing executive orders all day long, whether original ones or counter-signing ones from Obama's terms. If he wants to undo Obama's legacy, he needs to counter-sign 10 executive orders a day. It is the Republican Establishment who has held Trump hostage to their agenda, in order to pay off his political debt, so they are to blame for shutting down his executive order machine that was running like crazy during his first couple months.

The same goes for the agencies in the Executive branch, a point that even Jason Chaffetz made responding to Trump on Twitter. Sessions is the one who recused himself from the witch hunt, leaving the President and his supporters totally vulnerable. And Sessions is the one who is neglecting Trumpian priorities in favor of fighting the drug war (something that Trump and his supporters are not against in theory, but that is not a priority).

Since Sessions is loyal to Trump personally and ideologically, that means the GOP Establishment, the Deep State, or whoever, has given The Talk to Sessions and has held him hostage as well. At least he didn't get shoved out entirely like Mike Flynn.

"Obama holdovers" are another non-explanation, since Trump theoretically controls the Executive and can fire whoever he wants. "Slow-walking" by the Democrats of appointees to replace them is the same non-excuse as it is for Senate gridlock in general. If the majority party wants to change the Senate rules to prevent the Democrats from holding up the nomination process, they can do so at any time. Like ending the practice of letting a single "hold" derail the process.

But the Republicans are opposed to the Trump agenda, so they are allowing the Democrats to jam up the flow of nominees. It is nothing more than good cop / bad cop.

We know the GOP obstruction is specifically directed against the Trump agenda, since they were perfectly fine with changing Senate rules in order to get the Supreme Court nominee onto the bench. That is a major election turn-out and fundraising theme of theirs -- getting conservatives into the courts. So, convention con-schmention.

But when it comes to changing Senate rules to advance a goal of Trump's, rather than of the GOP, they leave the status quo in place.

Does anybody really believe that if Jeb Bush had become President, with GOP control over both houses of Congress, they would allow such gridlock in the nomination process? Or that the Party would prevent the President from signing executive orders? Or allow the President to be totally exposed to a partisan witch hunt, by side-lining his Attorney General? Or be bitching and moaning every day about the President's views and goals?

This disproves the common gripe that the Republicans are just wimpy and hidebound, rather than outright against the American people's wishes. They supposedly aren't confrontational fighters -- until Trump showed up, and then they threatened a contested convention, stole delegates, released a severely damaging oppo research tape right before the election, and then came out in force to disavow him and suggest Pence take his place on the ticket.

They are also just as hawkish about the Russia non-issue as the Democrats, allowing the hearings in both houses to go on indefinitely against Trump's campaign, but not even touching the Clinton campaign. That's not Democrat self-protection, that's the GOP going to bat for Hillary Clinton in order to weaken the unwanted President Trump.

The American people have heard enough of these excuses about "Democrats obstructing". We know who is in control of all branches and all levels of government, and it is the Republicans. They deserve all of the blame for the disappointing lack of progress on the themes of the Trump campaign, and for hijacking the presidential victory for their own deeply unpopular themes -- restoring corporate rape to the healthcare sector, tax cuts for the rich, sinking more blood and treasure into failed wars, and promoting Establishment hacks rather than loyalists to the President.

Now that the jig is up, Trump supporters are going to turn against the GOP Establishment, the Deep State, and the rest. If they had only let Trump get his way, they would have remained invisible and left alive to fight another day in 2020 or 2024. But by so nakedly blocking the agenda of "their own" party's leader, they have exposed themselves to the people. A year ago, nobody was talking about Deep State, and suddenly it's common to hear it on normie-friendly Fox News.

These angry Trump supporters can only rely on democratic means vis-a-vis Congress, by trying to primary the GOP obstructionists, or by vindictively voting for a Democrat to replace them. But what about those Republicans who are blocking Trump from signing executive orders all day? Or from "getting along with Russia"? Or from letting Attorney General Sessions do his thing at the DoJ? We cannot primary them out of their station of influence.

Once the frustration reaches that level, things could really get ugly. We thought they'd be conciliatory after the rude awakening on November 8th, but instead the Republican Party is hell-bent on over-turning the results of the election, albeit in favor of an imaginary President Pence rather than President Clinton.

July 11, 2017

Focus on individual leaders means collective war will be lost

Conflict between states is a collective affair, and the psychology behind a successful war is Us vs. Them. We may be aware of who some of our specific leaders happen to be, but ultimately "there is no 'I' in 'team'". Nor are we too aware of who the other side's specific leaders happen to be -- they're just Them, a collective blob.

An earlier post looked back at America's long history of imposing its will on its adversaries, from our founding up through WWII. The whole time, we had -- and still have -- almost no awareness of who the other side's leaders were at an individual level. There were "the Indians," "the Spanish," "the Japanese," and so on. Even when we did know one of their names, like Geronimo, we didn't believe that he was a single-handed dictator of his tribe -- "the Apache" -- but was just one of their leaders.

In the early 20th century, we invaded and occupied the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and a host of other places in Central America and the Caribbean -- did we know who their leaders were, and focus on them? No. They were just "the Cubans" or "Cuba" as a whole country. Only after WWII when our imperial power began to decline, did we start obsessing over individual leaders on the other side -- Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Papa Doc Duvalier, Noriega, etc.

We did use collective names like "the Sandinistas" and "the Contras" in our failed intervention in Nicaragua, but those do not refer to state-level actors or whole ethnicities or nationalities. Those were just two political factions.

When we were fighting "the Japanese" in the Pacific theater of WWII, where most of our concern was directed, there was no all-consuming focus on "stopping Hirohito" or "sending a message to Tojo". Most Americans today wouldn't even recognize those names. (The fixation on Hitler in the European theater is a ret-con.) Only after WWII when we could no longer carve out our sphere of influence in East Asia did we fixate on individuals -- Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and now Kim Jong Un in Korea, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Pol Pot in Cambodia, and Chairman Mao in China. All those names still ring a bell.

We have never imposed our will in the Middle East, as our interventions there all came after WWII. So there's no comparison case of how we referred to a place that we took over as a client state by force. Our failed interventions in Iraq, Libya, and now Syria have all been accompanied by obsessions with the individual leaders -- Saddam, Qaddafi, Assad. When we were more heavily involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict, we focused not just on the PLO but on its leader Yasser Arafat.

And in Iran after the Revolution, there was a fixation on Ayatollah Khomeini and now Khamenei ("the Supreme Leader"), along with Ahmadinejad. Only Trump is unconcerned with who their particular leader happens to be, and refers to them collectively ("Very tough negotiators, the Persians"). And that's not because he sees it as Us vs. Them, but as Us getting along with Them. Cooperation is just as collective as conflict is.

Indeed, our allies and clients in the region are referred to as entire nations -- Israel / the Israelis, Egypt, Jordan, the Saudis, etc. We are sometimes aware of who is leading these nations, but generally not, and we do not think that our cooperation is linked to a specific individual leading their country -- or our country. It's a relationship between two nations, regardless of who the leaders happen to be.

Our allies "the Kurds" are referred to collectively, with no awareness of who any of their leaders are. They may not be a nation-state, but they are big enough to act as a quasi-nation or at least a confederation of small states.

On our side, who remembers who the President was when we successfully incorporated the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba into our sphere of influence in the early 20th century? Do most Americans know that it was Truman rather than FDR who was President when we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan? Or which President was responsible for subduing which Indian tribe? Those were all accomplished by "America" or "the Americans," not particular Presidents.

Our failed interventions are tied very closely with the individual leader at the time -- Kennedy and Castro, Johnson and Ho Chi Minh, Carter and the Ayatollah Khomeini, Reagan and the Sandinistas, Bush and Noriega and Saddam, Clinton and Milosevic, Bush Jr. and Saddam and the Taliban, Hillary Clinton and Qaddafi, Obama and Assad.

The only danger I see for Trump is becoming too focused on "this guy" "the maniac" in North Korea. Most people on either side do seem to believe that Kim Jong Un is the be-all end-all of the North Korean state, but that view has always been factually wrong and a predictor of a failed intervention. Our fixation on that one individual means we should just get out of that conflict altogether, and let "the Koreans" deal with each other, perhaps letting "the Japanese" do their own thing too.

It's ironic that in all these examples, we accuse the other side of practicing a cult of personality, yet we do the same thing -- only attributing bad god-like traits and powers to the leader, who in our eyes is a devil rather than a god.

One of the main things we accuse the other side's leader of, to prove what a devil he is, is that he treats "his own people" horrifically. Right there we've taken the side of the majority of the nation that we're supposed to be at war with. We're not fighting "the Iraqis," we're liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam. We're liberating the Cubans from Castro. We're helping the Iranian people from the control of the Supreme Leader.

That is the opposite mindset of Us vs. Them, and shows how surely we are going to lose that war. We were not liberating the Japanese people from Hirohito or Tojo -- we were fighting them from top to bottom, military leaders to lowly citizens.

We have no quarrel with Syrian society writ large, so why the hell are we trying to destroy it? If we're going to take it over to enrich ourselves, we need to take the whole thing over -- and not even the Pentagon is pursuing that ambitious of a goal.

As imperial decline sets in, we get lazy and think that we can enrich ourselves by acquiring another state by regime change, leaving all else in place for us to enjoy. "Make any nation your client by taking out this one weird guy". Right, I'm sure the rest of the society is just going to sit there and let itself be taken over by a force that is not even targeting the entire society. Rather, they see regime change and all the factions decide to strike while the iron is hot, and fill the power vacuum. Then it will be that internal faction or their own foreign allies who will control the flow of resources, still leaving us out of the game.

Individual-focused regime change only ends up handing over the ultimate prize to some faction who is not beholden to us. No better example than targeting Saddam for decades, only to hand Iraq over to the Shia majority and the sympatico Iranians. Focus on entire societies, or do not concern yourself with them at all.