Monday, June 19, 2017

Trump’s Mess - Part Three

For me, Trump was supposed to “throw the rascals out,” but unfortunately he has just brought in a group of new rascals.  He was supposed to be a gentile who would stand up against the Jews whom I perceived as almost running the country, and planning to consolidate their position under Hillary.  But instead of looking like an honest man representing middle America, Trump looks like trailer park trash opposing polished, intelligent Jews.  I see Jewish Representative Adam Schiff as the attack dog against Trump for Democrats in the House.  Al Franken is making a move to take that role in the Senate.  The Jewish media -- all the major networks, CNN, many print publications -- feature Adam Schiff prominently attacking Trump.  Franken is everywhere plugging his new book and attacking Trump.  So far, Schiff and his colleagues are winning the battle, although Trump is still President.  

The Washington Post wrote an article saying Trump is under investigation by Robert Mueller.  The article appears to have been written in part by two Jews listed as part of the four author team - Adam Entous and Sari Horwitz.  I mention them because it does look like there is an orchestrated Jewish attempt to remove Trump from the Presidency.  In any case, Trump believed them and tweeted that he was under investigation, based on their article.  Sunday, one of Trump’s lawyers went on the Sunday shows to deny that he is actually under investigation.  The Trump  lawyer, Jay Sekulow, was born to Jewish parents, but became a Christian, and has led a Jews for Jesus group.  Fox’s Chris Wallace got Sekulow to admit that he did not actually know what was inside Mueller’s mind and thus could not say definitively whether Trump was or was not under investigation.  How do the Jews at the Washington Post know Trump is under investigation?  Are they mind readers?  If not the leaks by Mueller or his inner circle are despicable.  He has fouled his nest and disgraced himself within a few weeks of taking over the investigation.  If Trump is under investigation, and the Washington Post story is accurate, Mueller does not have the integrity to lead the investigation.  Mueller has slandered the President of the United States, and has no doubt violated many ethical guidelines, if not laws.  The other possibility is that the Washington Post has printed a fraudulent, fake news story motivated at least in part by race hatred.  Which is it?  

But I digress.  Trump has gotten himself into this mess by being so Jewish himself.  Many ordinary Americans don’t like New York Jews because they are loud, pushy and impolite.  Trump has those characteristics in spades.  The problem is that it works for Jews and it’s working for Trump.  But I wanted a guy to represent me who is dignified,intelligent, reasonable.  Trump is none of those.  

I blame the problem partly on the Republican Party.  How did Trump, a lifelong Democrat, ever get on the list of Republican candidates.  Could Hillary Clinton have run as a Republican?  The Republican Party should have done some vetting and made Trump run as an Independent.  The other Republican failing was not providing Trump with Republican Party experts and advisers once he became the nominee.  I’m sure these Republican big shots are happy not to be part of the Trump administration, but they have let down their country.  The country needs leadership, and Trump is surrounded by incompetent newcomers.  Trump doesn’t want these experienced advisers, but the Republican Party should have forced them on him for the good of the country.  

The Republican Party establishment is paying the price for opposing Trump up until the election, and pretty much even until now.  The result is that the Republicans control the House, the Senate and the Presidency, but they can’t get any meaningful legislation passed.  They can’t staff the many political jobs in government departments and agencies because they have no pool of experienced, talented people to draw from.  

As a result Trump is more or less flying blind, leading the country with only a small group of advisers who are political novices.  The country’s salvation so far has been the military officers he has appointed to cabinet posts.  I doubt that they like their positions either, but as military professionals they have put country before their reputations.  The Republican establishment should do the same.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Trump’s Mess - Part Two

 Trump never should have fired Comey. If I have to choose who I trust more, I would choose Comey.  I think Comey is more honest and honorable than Trump.

I favored Trump because he was a way to throw the rascals out, the old established politicians who favored their supporters, played the inside Washington game, and ignored the old middle class that was being gutted by their policies.  The group that I thought I was voting against was the Democratic establishment, led politically by Jews and gentiles who agreed with the politics of the primarily Jewish establishment, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  The rich Jews had lots of money and could fund the Democratic policies which main benefited blacks, Hispanics, and other recent immigrants.  

Since Jews were relatively recent immigrants they were interested in taking power from the old guard white majority, based on the political base they built on people who were not part of the old guard white majority.  To do this the Jews stirred up enmity between blacks and whites, immigrants and natives.  Because Jews look European, the racial strategy they followed was not apparent to whites or the opposing groups stirred up by the Jews.  

One example of this was ObamaCare.  The ordinary insurance provisions that applied to pre-existing conditions, for example, were approved by the insurance companies and more or less followed statistical insurance models. These provisions brought in several million people, but were insignificant compared to the number of people brought in under Medicaid, which was only funded by the government.  It’s fine to bring in millions of previously uninsured people, but the Medicaid portion was effectively separate from the insurance portion of ObamaCare.  Medicaid was largely unfunded, and for this reason has been hugely popular.  It is a government giveaway, something for nothing.  Rich Chinese lenders who buy US bonds are paying to treat poor blacks in Detroit and poor whites in West Virginia.  Clearly there were a lot of non-Jewish Democrats working on ObamaCare, such as Nancy Pelosi, but by and large they were influenced by the wealthy Jews who dominated the party.  Hillary Clinton was intended to carry on this tradition, a non-Jew implementing Jewish policies.  

Another big issue was the financial crisis of 2008.  Although there were many types of people involved and responsible during the Bush administration, Wall Street is largely a Jewish fiefdom.  Jamie Dimon is probably the most powerful non-Jew, but he was a protege of a typical Jewish banker, Sandy Weill, and clearly fits in well with his Jewish colleagues on Wall Street.  The 2008 Great Recession was set in motion when Jewish Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin persuaded President Bill Clinton to repeal the Glass-Steagall law that kept banks out of the risky businesses whose failure led to the country to the brink of financial collapse.  Jewish Fed chair Bernanke was instrumental in keeping the disaster to a recession, rather than a depression, and Jewish Congressman Barney Frank was instrumental in drafting new legislation to prevent a repeat of the disaster.  

These two issues come together in the problem of income inequality.  We have a financial and political systems that disproportionately benefit the very wealthy, plus the income inequality accentuates the differences between racial groups: Jews and whites at the top with blacks and immigrants at the bottom.  The main victims of this inequality have been the old white middle class, which finds itself moving down the toward the bottom.  There has been relatively little change in the makeup of the top and the bottom, but the difference between them has become greater and greater.  

Clearly Jews are not united on political policies.  Bernie Sanders, a Jew, led the fight against the income inequality created by the Jews on Wall Street.  There are a number of Jews in the Republican Party who have been very influential, but the Jewish Republican leaders tend to focus more on foreign policy than on domestic issues, for example, William Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, or even Sheldon Adelson.  Their main concern seems to be Israel and how American foreign and defense policy would affect it.  

A similar concern about the Democratic Jews is that they will use their influence to amass enormous fortunes and then will take their money and move on to Israel, or some other country with lower taxes and fewer restrictions than the US.  If this happens a substantial portion of the wealth that used to belong to the old, white middle class will leave the country and be gone forever.  Meanwhile, the remaining Americans will be faced with huge debts created to pay for ObamaCare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and never ending wars in the Middle East, which so far have tended mainly to make Israel more secure.  Osama bin Laden said that one of the reasons for his attack on the World Trade Center was US support for Israel.   

The main point of the preceding is to explain my idea that Trump might be someone who would resist the Jewish powers that be.  This was probably a misperception.  New York is a Jewish town.  Trump is part of a very Jewish business, New York real estate.  He has worked closely with Jews, epitomized by his Jewish son-in-law Jared, whose father was a real estate developer very much like Trump.  In addition one of Trump’s mentors as a young man was Roy Cohn, the lead lawyer for Senator Joe McCarthy’s hearings on un-American activities.  Trump has brought a number of prominent Jews into his administration, notably Wall Street bankers Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary and Gary Cohn as a senior economic adviser.  But you have have to remember that his opponent was Hillary Clinton, who had the strong support of almost the entire Democratic Jewish establishment.  She was the means for the same Jews to dominate Washington as they had in the Obama administration.  David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel might be gone, but other Jews would take their places for Hillary, not to mention the less well known Jewish financiers and political operatives.  

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Trump’s Mess - Part One

I have tried to support and defend Trump as President, but it is getting harder and harder.  I supported him as the common man’s response to the establishment, but he is making the establishment look better than it used to.  

I don’t think he should have fired Comey or interfered with the Russian hacking investigation, although he should have prepared a strong defense against whatever allegations were made against him and his administration.  I still don’t believe that Trump is a pawn of Putin or a traitor, although he might be guilty of some criminal conduct before or after his election.  It seems like the most egregious criminal offenses in politics are committed during the coverup, rather than in the questionable act itself.  We should let the investigations proceed unimpeded and see what they turn up.  Unfortunately, the Clinton Whitewater investigation showed that once these start, they never end, but Trump is stuck with it because of the way he ran his campaign and transition.  

The fact that Trump wants good relations with Russia does not bother me.  I don’t think Putin’s Russia is the old Soviet Union.  I don’t think it is the existential threat to the US that the Soviet Union was.  Putin’s challenge to the US is partly personal, because the US has been so critical of him personally, and partly an effort to make Russia great again (like Trump’s America).  Off and on for a thousand or so years, Russia has been a significant player on the European continent.  It defeated Napoleon and Hitler.  The divide between east and west Europe has moved to the east or west, depending on the relative strength of Germany, France, or Austria, and Russia.  As Russia strengthened, the border moved west, as western Europe strengthened, the border moved east, in either case often to the detriment of Poland with occasionally disappeared, swallowed up by one side or the other.  I think Putin is trying to reassert Russia’s traditional importance, and it does not necessarily threaten the balance of power in Europe, although it might threaten some Central European states in one way or another.  Whatever might happen would probably still be better than being part of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War.  The most obvious appearance of these tensions is Ukraine, which is where the two forces of east and west are meeting at the moment.  Nevertheless, I do not see the current Russian threat as anywhere near the existential threat the old Soviet Union posed during the Cold War.  It’s a rivalry that can be managed.  So far, neither Trump nor Putin is doing a good job of managing it, but it can percolate without serious damage.  

I think the scare tactics about the Trump-Russia connection are mainly a Democratic political attack strategy.  They create the impression Russia is a danger to the US without explaining why.  But I think partly the Russia scare is due to Jewish racial fears.  Jews lived in oppressive conditions in Russia for hundreds of years.  The mass exodus from Russia was largely due to the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, which restricted trade with countries that limited Jewish emigration to the US or Israel.  The four Jewish staffers for Senator Scoop Jackson responsible for the amendment were Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith, and Paul Wolfowitz, according to Commentary Magazine.  These past experiences automatically associate Russia with evil in Jewish minds.  

All of these staffers went on to have important positions in later Republican administrations. .  According to urban legend, Richard Perle was the main person responsible for persuading Reagan to reject the opportunity to eliminate all US and Soviet nuclear weapons at his  summit with Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Putin is no doubt very grateful to Perle.  

On foreign policy, I am more concerned about what is going on in the Middle East with Qatar, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, if only because Trump seems more personally responsible for that, while Putin seems more responsible for what’s happening with Russia.  Trump was just in Saudi Arabia and hailed his visit as a great success.  Right after he left, Saudi Arabia appeared to take two actions against Iran -- making Qatar a pariah in the Sunni Middle East, and perhaps encouraging a terrorist attack on Iran by ISIS.  Trump has already applauded Saudi Arabia’s ouster of Qatar.  Qatar’s main offense seems to be less than fulsome opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Meanwhile, it hosts a very important American military base and sponsors the best news service  in the Middle East, Al Jazeera.  

Domestically, I thought during the election that Trump was a Democrat at heart, and that his Democratic leanings would come out when he arrived in office.  So far, there is no sign of them.  He has embraced hard right policies on immigration, healthcare, and taxation, the main issues he has addressed so far.  As a former consular officer for the State Department, I favor enforcement of immigration laws, which have been generally ignored by both Democrats and Republicans for fifty years or longer.  Immigration laws have been enforced (or not) like Prohibition was.  Once Prohibition was enforced by Eliot Ness and the untouchables, it was repealed.  People pretend to care about immigration, but wealthy individuals like their foreign gardeners, cooks, and care takers, while businesses like their foreign engineers and coders.  

Monday, June 05, 2017

Renewable Energy - Food Stamps for Millionaires

 With all the talk about how dead the coal industry is and how vibrant the renewable energy sector is, there is little talk about the government incentives for the renewable energy sector.  According to the US Energy Information Agency:

In 2016, about 4.08 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity 1 were generated at utility-scale facilities in the United States.2  About 65% of this electricity generation was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases), about 20% was from nuclear energy, and about 15% was from renewable energy sources. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that an additional 19 billion kWh (or about 0.02 trillion kWh) of electricity generation was from small-scale solar photovoltaic systems in 2016.3
Major energy sources and percent shares of U.S. electricity generation at utility-scale facilities in 20161
  • Natural gas = 33.8%
  • Coal = 30.4%
  • Nuclear = 19.7%
  • Renewables (total) = 14.9%
    • Hydropower = 6.5%
    • Wind = 5.6%
    • Biomass = 1.5%
    • Solar  = 0.9%
    • Geothermal = 0.4%
  • Petroleum = 0.6%
  • Other gases = 0.3%
  • Other nonrenewable sources = 0.3%
  • Pumped storage hydroelectricity = -0.2%4
The Washington Post reported that 2014 (the latest data available) Census data put the number of people employed in the coal industry at 76, 572.  A 2017 Department of Energy report puts the number at 160,119, with 86,035 working in electricity  generation, and another   74,084 working in other coal operations.  The table above shows that the coal industry produced 30.4% of all US electrical energy.  By these figures, each coal worker in the electrical sector produced about 0.0038% of all US electrical energy.  
For the renewable energy sector, the first thing that stands out is that highest percentage of renewable energy is produced by hydropower, a pre-industrial age technology, the water wheel.  The EIA says there is no good data on the number of people working on solar electric power, because the government does not have a good category for this job survey.  The EIA estimates that 260,077 people spend at least half of their time working on solar energy.  The largest percentage of workers in this sector are working on construction of new solar plants.  The EIA estimates that these workers produce 0.9% of US power; then, each solar worker produced about 0.00035% of US power, or about 1/100th as much as a coal worker.  Per worker, coal is 100 times more efficient than solar.  
If this is so, why would anyone invest and work in the solar industry?  Because of government incentives.  There is a 30% federal tax credit for individuals installing solar panels.  In addition almost every state offers additional incentives.  The Washington Post reported in connection with the failure of Solyndra solar company that the Obama administration had instituted an $80 billion clean technology program.  The Post article says:
The [Obama] administration, which excluded lobbyists from policymaking positions, gave easy access to venture capitalists with stakes in some of the companies backed by the administration, the records show. Many of those investors had given to Obama’s 2008 campaign. Some took jobs in the administration and helped manage the clean-energy program.   
These government incentives are no doubt responsible for much of the investment in the solar industry, rather than hard-nosed business decisions.  

Investment in wind energy is probably a more rational business decision than solar.  Wind energy produces 5.6% of US energy according to EIA.  It estimates that there are 101,738 workers in the wind energy sector.  By these figures, each wind energy worker produces about 0.0055% of US energy.  This indicates that coal workers are about six times more productive than wind workers.

Environmentalists who espouse renewable energy generally oppose nuclear energy.  I think this is wrong.  Nuclear energy has downsides, but does not contribute to global warming.  Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima illustrate the dangers of nuclear energy, but the number of people killed or badly injured is not out of line with the people killed or injured by the fossil fuel industry, with its exploding wells, ocean platforms, pipelines, etc.  If wind power produced all US energy, we would probably have many people falling from windmills, hit by spinning blades, etc.  Unlike solar and wind, nuclear can produce large amounts of power needed by big cities and industry.  By hew EIA figures we have about 67,000 workers in the nuclear industry, which produces 19.7% of US energy.  This means that coal workers are about 1.3 times more efficient than nuclear workers in amount of power produced.  Of course there are huge costs involved in building new nuclear plants which are not included in these numbers.  

The main point of these numbers is to refute the statistics which say that the future of labor is in renewable energy, not coal or other traditional sources.  In fact, it looks like the solar industry is extraordinarily inefficient.  It’s as if solar workers are making labor intensive, expensive Swiss mechanical watches, while coal workers are making cheap but accurate digital watches for ordinary people.  Who pays for the expensive, hand-made solar energy?  Mainly the government.  At the moment that is the only reason it is financially feasible.  The government gives billions to rich investors for solar work, just like it gives billions in food stamps to poor people.  Both are well intentioned, but it may be too early to tell whether solar will be a practical as its champions claim.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kushner Investigation

 I don’t know what is wrong with Jared Kushner talking to Soviet diplomats about opening a secret channel of communications between the US and Russia.  You might question the political wisdom of such an arrangement, but I don’t see what is illegal about it.  

I see the potential criminality of Gen. Michael Flynn’s taking payments from the Russians, especially his not reporting the payments to the Pentagon.  I see a lot of smoke indicating the possibility of criminal activity surrounding Paul Manafort, who has been a paid consultant to a number of unsavory individuals and organizations connected to the Russians and the Ukrainians.  However, both of these potentially criminal actions are outside of those individuals’ activities directly connected to the Trump campaign. It is as if Trump had hired a thief to work in his campaign.  If that thief did not steal while he was working for Trump, then Trump might be guilty of poor judgment for hiring him, but that’s all.  There is no criminal liability attached to the campaign itself.  

I think the liberal press is trying to create some kind of guilt by association, by talking about the innuendo involving people in the campaign.  It is as if they were talking about someone going to a bar, and thereby trying to create the impression that he is a drunkard, just because he went to a bar after work.  

Your business is not criminally liable because one of your employees set his neighbor’s house on fire.  Again, you can be criticized for employing an unsavory character, but that does not make you a criminal or your business a criminal activity.  As usual in Washington, if there was some criminal act involved in trying to cover up the associate’s criminality in order to avoid bad publicity, then that coverup might be criminal, but not the original act itself.  But that coverup would have to be criminal in itself, not just poor judgment.  

In fact, I think much of the ado about Russia is an attempt by the liberal press to create some kind of implicit guilt for something that is not a crime.  Liking the Russians may be a poor political judgment, but it does not appear to me to be a crime.  The Democrats are trying to revive the hatred of the old Soviet Union from the bad old Cold War days.  Russia is not the Soviet Union.  The Democrats make the Russians look like some huge threat, but from the stories in the New York Times and Washington Post, the Russians look pretty incompetent.  We seem to see every cable that the Russian ambassador sends to Moscow.  Civilian Russian hackers may be pretty good, but the FSB security people seem like rank amateurs.  Their codes can be broken easily.  It’s like American breaking the German’s Enigma code in World War II, but in that case the intelligence services managed to keep it a secret.  It was not headlined on the front pages of newspapers.  America’s intelligence services can break codes, but they can’t keep a secret.  

I worry that some elements of the intelligence community have gone rogue and are more loyal to the Democratic Party than to the US Constitution, which they took an oath to uphold.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

NYT and Wash Post Leaks

The New York Times ran a front page article defending its decision to print leaked intelligence about the Manchester bombing from the British, which aided the terrorists by giving details of the British investigation.  The NYT put getting a scoop ahead of protecting the nation from terrorist attacks.  

The Washington Post printed leaked intercepted communications between the Russian ambassador in Washington and the Kremlin in Moscow.  I don’t know how the ambassador communicated with Moscow, but the ambassador does, and he will know not to use the same channel again unless he wants to give the information to the US. The article may have revealed that we have broken Russian codes that they did not know we had broken.  

Neither newspaper seems concerned about damaging US national security either vis-a-vis the terrorists or Russia.  It appears that whoever is leaking information to the press is less concerned about US national security than about other issues, like getting rid of Trump.  

The inability of the Russian government to keep a secret makes the Russian spy agency, the FSB, look like a joke. The Russian ambassador, Kislyak, looks like a fool, an incompetent nincompoop. If Putin had some plan to get an inside track with the new administration, his team botched it horribly. The Russians look like the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Rice on Russian Election Hacking

On Morning Joe this morning Condi Rice (at about 14 minutes in) said Putin is probably pleased with all the chaos that his hacking has unleashed, because it has caused people to question the strength of American democracy.  He is happy that his actions are tearing apart our democratic system.  He wants to sow doubt about the legitimacy of US elections.  She thinks we should stress that we have confidence is our electoral system.  She says we should not jump to the conclusion that Putin wanted to elect Trump.  Rather she thinks that he just wanted to discredit our political system.    (Part 2 of Rice interview.)

I think she has a good point.  It is arguable that the Democrats are destroying democracy in order to save it, like the old aphorism that in Vietnam, American troops destroyed a village in order to save it. 

Morning Joe also discussed Ted Cruz’ questioning of Sally Yates regarding her refusal to defend Trump’s immigration order.  They thought she destroyed Cruz.  She had a good point that there were conflicting statutes, the one Cruz cited which seemed to support Trumps order, and the statute Yates cited that seemed to discredit it, because it discriminated on racial or religious grounds.  But then she went on to undermine her own statutory argument.  She says that the executive order was unconstitutional.  I don’t think the Constitution grants any right to a non-resident alien physically located outside of the US.  Thus, she may have a statutory argument, but not a Constitutional one, which she said was the basis for her action.  Even on the statutory argument, she relies on statements Trump made while campaigning.  I think using those statements is unprecedented in statutory interpretation.  It is an issue the Supreme Court should (and may) decide.  I would argue that to invalidate the order, opponents should find some basis from religious discrimination in official conduct of the Trump administration while in office.  I don’t think that has been shown so far. 

Video of Yates’ statement: 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Trump Healthcare and Taxes

Trump won an important political victory last week by getting the House to pass a bill repealing and replacing ObamaCare.  The victory showed that Trump and his staffers are able to put together the political power and intelligence to get the fractious Republican congressmen to agree on something that can get the necessary number of votes.  The bill is a mess, but it is a political victory. 

The reasonable, responsible thing for America to do is pass single-payer, government-funded healthcare, Medicare for all, as Trump recognized by his comment during his dinner with Australian Prime Minister Turnbull.  Trump probably personally favors this solution, but he can’t possibly pursue it with the Republican Party he leads. 

ObamaCare is bad.  It expands coverage, but it is a mishmash drafted by healthcare and insurance industry lobbyists.  It has turned out not to be so profitable for health insurance companies, but they have the option to drop out if it’s not profitable, which they are doing in droves.  ObamaCare is somewhat responsible about trying to provide funding for the new services, but it fails in the long run.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated that in 2016 federal subsidies for all types of health insurance coverage for people under age 65 (i.e., excluding Medicare) amounted to $660 billion, or 3.6% of GDP.  The amount would rise to $1.1 trillion by 2026.  For the ten year period from 2017 to 2026, the total federal subsidy for medical care for people under 65 would be about $8.9 trillion.  Of that subsidy, $3.8 trillion is for Medicaid, and $3.6 trillion is for the tax deductions for healthcare insurance provided by businesses. 

The main point of these figures is that ObamaCare is not self-funding; it results in a huge deficit funded either by higher taxes or borrowing from the Chinese.  Since higher taxes seem unlikely, China is picking up the tab for much of the medical treatment provided in the US.  The Chinese are buying lots of expensive homes and cars for American doctors. 

It’s hard to tell from this report, but it sounds like about 6 million people with pre-existing conditions were covered by ObamaCare, who might otherwise have been denied insurance.  On the other hand, Kaiser and HHS say about 75 million people are enrolled in Medicaid; so, Medicaid is a much bigger, more expensive program.  I found it strange that the Democratic arguments against the Trump repeal and replace of ObamaCare were focused much more on pre-existing conditions than on Medicaid.  In addition, it sounds as if the Trump bill uses its Medicaid cuts to give a huge tax cut to millionaires.  It seems to me that this is a much more important issue. 

These articles in Forbes and MarketWatch so far seem some of the clearest on the tax implications of the Medicaid changes.  It looks like the TrumpCare bill eliminates a Medicare tax, not a Medicaid tax.  The Medicare tax imposed by ObamaCare is a 3.8% tax on net investment income for people earning over $200,000 (single) or $250,000 (married).  Plus, ObamaCare created a 0.9% Medicare tax on salary or income above those same amounts.  Apparently TrumpCare would eliminate these taxes, reducing taxes (and revenues) by about $900 million over a decade, i.e., about $100 million per year.  One advantage of putting these tax provisions in the healthcare bill may be that it will help a tax bill pass under the reconciliation process in the Senate, thus blocking a filibuster.  It may also make tax cuts look smaller by dividing them up between the healthcare and tax bills. 

In any case, the Medicaid provisions, which are the basis for including the tax cuts, seem much more important for the economy and for the population at large than the pre-existing condition provisions.  Nearly half of all births in the US are paid for by Medicaid, according to Kaiser.  Maybe the Democrats thought the pre-existing condition issue would be more attractive to the general public, but relatively few people will be affected by it.  More than 6 million people may have pre-existing conditions, but they probably have other options than ObamaCare, and can get insurance through another program. The 75 million people on Medicaid have fewer options. 

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Op-Eds on the Importance of the EU

Kissinger had an interesting op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

I thought it was interesting history, but at first I wondered why he wrote it.  I guess it’s in the WSJ because of the French election and what Kissinger says about the importance of a united Europe.  It also sounds like he has a personal fondness for Adenauer that he wanted to get on the record.  Kissinger is unique.  He has written a relatively long piece about Germany just after WW II and does not mention the Holocaust once, despite being an ethnic Jew.  He has high praise for Adenauer and by implication the Germans who worked with him after the war.  My experience is, especially after my Poland tour, that as soon as you mention WW II to a Jew they start talking about how horrible the Holocaust was, and often think the US let the Germans off too lightly despite the Nuremberg trials. 

The one time I met Kissinger was on a Sunday afternoon while I was working in the current intelligence office of the State Department operations center in the 1970s.  We got a highly classified report that Anwar Sadat, who was at that moment in the US on an official visit, was going to be assassinated.  (They just got the time and place wrong, but it’s like the stopped watch that is going to be right sometime.)  Anyway we decided we should probably tell somebody about this report; so, I took it the 50 yards down the hall to the Secretary’s office in a locked pouch.  There was nobody there but his private secretary, who said he was in a conference room in the back. So I walked another 25 yards down a warren of corridors to a little conference room where he was sitting with Assistant Secretary Philip Habib.  I was going to hand him the report, but he said just tell me what it says.  So I told him; he said thanks, and that was it.  I think Sadat was around for several years after that.  Ford must have been President at that time, and Kissinger was his Secretary of State.    

There’s another interesting historical piece in today’s NYT on Central Europe:

It’s probably interesting to me because of the Polish connection -- King Sobieski’s defense of Vienna against the Turks.  It’s another pro-EU article before the French election.  He calls the EU “the necessary empire.” The EU can theoretically help knit together the ethnic rivalries of old Europe – Roman Catholic Slavs, Russian Orthodox Slavs, Muslims, etc., but I’m not sure it is up to the task at the moment if it can hardly keep the French on board.  Nevertheless, the history of the Balkans is interesting.  A more assertive Russia and Turkey versus a weakening EU could presage a resurfacing of these old rivalries. 

Monday, May 01, 2017

North Korea and the KEDO Attempt To Stop Its Bomb Program

This was in last week's installment of the Diplomacy Oral History project newsletter. 

Here is a link to an oral history of the first attempt to work out a nuclear deal with North Korea:

Near the middle, around the graph of KEDO (Korean Energy Development Organization) funding and the picture of the North Korean nuclear plant, is a description of the KEDO funding difficulties.  This article doesn’t mention it, but while I was in Rome, KEDO was having trouble getting funding for the fuel oil it had promised the North Koreans as a reward for them if they would not work on their bomb project while KEDO worked on building a nuclear power reactor in North Korea that would not produce bomb-usable plutonium.  As the article says, the US Congress would not approve the money for the fuel oil.  The main sticking point was the Republican congressman from Mobile, Alabama, (I forget his name) who was on the Appropriations Committee.  Since he would not approve the money, somebody from KEDO came to Rome (maybe Bosworth, I don’t remember) to ask the EU (through the Italians since they held the rotating presidency of the EU) if it would contribute $2 million to help KEDO meet its obligations.  I think the EU eventually said, “No thanks,” although they promised to think about it, and expressed European concern about a North Korean bomb.   

It really ticked me off that the North Korean deal looked like it might fail because the US refused to meet its obligations, thus giving the North Koreans an excuse to go back to building bombs.  Interestingly, Bosworth says here that the North Koreans were not too upset about the funding problems, but in Rome I didn’t know that.  In any case, the KEDO deal fell apart later.  Joel Wit, who worked for Bosworth and was more my level (we had worked together on the Missile Technology Control Regime),has said somewhere that KEDO never missed a payment.  But I think maybe he and Bosworth tend to gloss over the payment difficulties so as not to make themselves look too responsible for KEDO’s failure. 

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Trump’s Attack on Syria

Trump's attack on Syria dealt with several issues that should help his popularity:

I creates a contrast with Obama’s publicly drawing a red line on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and then doing nothing about it.  Trump looks strong and decisive in comparison, and it pleases the liberal establishment.  
It helps to overcome Trump’s perceived softness on Putin.  He attacked Putin’s ally, Assad, and even put Russian troops in peril. For the moment at least, he and Putin are on opposite sides in Syria.  

It demonstrates to North Korea that Trump is not afraid to use force, and thus constitutes an implicit threat to North Korea.  

Liberals in general like the attack on Syria because it inhibits the use of nuclear weapons and attacks on civilians and children.  Thus, the attack tends to roll back their perception of him as a far right ideologue.  

Liberal talking heads have expressed concern that Trump has no strategy to bring about regime change or end the war in Syria, but Trump can let this attack stand alone if he wants.  He can describe it as a response to an inhumane violation of international law, not the beginning of regime change.  

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Indians on India

An interesting quote from Fareed Zakaria's email newsletter for 4/5/17, since both he and Nikki Haley are Indian Americans.  

India to U.S.: None of Your Business

Thanks, but no thanks. That’s the message India delivered to the Trump administration after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley suggested the United States would “find its place” in efforts to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan, the Hindustan Times reports.
Reiterating India’s position that ties between the two are a bilateral matter, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay reportedly added: “We of course expect the international community and organizations to enforce international mechanisms and mandates concerning terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which continues to be the single biggest threat to peace and stability in our region and beyond.”

Friday, March 17, 2017

Democrats Push War with Russia

The Democrats believe Trump’s political weakness is Russia.  Therefore, they are vilifying Russia to make Trump’s friendliness toward Russia appear to be treason.  At first it looked like they would try to invalidate Trump’s election, but as time goes on that seems less likely.  

They make Putin look more powerful than he is, and they make Putin appear more aggressive and anti-American than he is.   An example is Fareed Zakaria’s CNN special on Putin, characterizing Putin as the most powerful man in the world.  Putin is a remarkable man who has brought Russia back from the trash heap of history to be a player on the world stage, and he has more nuclear weapons than anyone else in the world, including Donald Trump.  But that does not make him the most powerful man in the world; arguably either Trump or Chinese President Xi Jinping may be more powerful because of their economic power in addition to their military power.  In terms of usable power, Germany’s Angela Merkel, the leader of the most powerful country in the EU, may be more powerful than Putin.  This morning on some news show discussing Merkel’s meeting with Trump, the female reporter described Merkel as the most powerful “woman” in the world.  

In any case the Democrats want to make Putin look like a dangerous enemy of the US so that Trump’s failure to condemn him looks treasonous.  In addition, most Jews hate Russia.  Jews as a race lived in Russia for centuries.  While the word “Ashkenazi” means German, as it is used in describing Ashkenazi Jews, most recent Jewish immigrants have come from Russia or Soviet dominated Eastern Europe, and they brought with them a visceral hatred of Russia because of their poor treatment by ethnic Russian Slavs.  For powerful Jews in American politics and the media, vilifying Putin and Russia has a double benefit of weakening a political enemy, Trump, and an ethnic enemy, Russia.  

This campaign resembles the “yellow journalism” of the 1890s which led to the Spanish-American War in the Philippines and Cuba.  The Democrats, the journalists, and the Jews probably don’t want a civilization-ending nuclear war with Russia, but they want sanctions, political pressure, and maybe some smaller wars in Ukraine or the Middle East.  Small wars could be similar to the Afghanistan War that led to the demise of the Soviet Union.  If these efforts succeed in unseating Putin, it’s unclear who would follow him, but whoever it is, they would almost certainly be weaker than Putin, thus putting Americans and Jews in a more dominant position vis-a-vis the Russian Slavs.  

Trump does not seem particularly concerned about the Jewish aspect of the Russia issue.  He has many Jews in his administration.  So far he has not reversed his position on Putin, although he has been somewhat more cautious about praising him.  Even Trump is not insensitive to the steady drumbeat of anti-Putin propaganda.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Reaction to Andrew Jackson Blog

I don’t think anybody reads this blog, but it looks like they do.  It looks like there were at least two reactions to my last blog on Andrew Jackson.  In addition President Trump decided to visit Andrew Jackson’s home and tomb in Nashville.  

Today on his MSNBC MTP Daily show, Chuck Todd talked about the changing perceptions of Andrew Jackson.  He said that Jackson was one of the founders of the modern Democratic Party, but the Democrats have largely rejected him because he owned slaves.  Meanwhile the Republicans have adopted him because of his representation of the common man against wealthy elitists, a model Donald Trump likes.  

It’s interesting that we find today’s Democrats rejecting a man of the people, while the Republicans adopt him.  Are the parties changing the bases they appeal to?  Only to a certain extent.  The Democrats in 2016 appealed to blacks, Hispanics and Jews, but rejected the lower and middle class white voters, whom they donated to the Republicans as a “basket of deplorables.”  The Republicans accepted the gift and ran with it.  

Also, today the New York Times published an article entitled, “The Fed vs. the Angry Masses,” although later editions changed the headline.  The article pointed out the popular mistrust of the Fed and other central banks.  It raised the question of whether Trump would attack the Fed as Jackson attacked the Second Bank of the US.  

It already looks strange that the Fed has begun what looks like a prolonged period of raising interest rates after years of leaving them at zero only now that a Republican has been elected President.  At least superficially, it looks like Janet Yellen ran the Fed in a partisan way to benefit Obama and the Democrats.  There are legitimate arguments for raising rates now, but it looks suspicious.  

Andrew Jackson and the Jews

I have been reading Jon Meacham’s biography of Andrew Jackson, “American Lion.”  In discussing Jackson’s campaign to close Nicholas Biddle’s Second Bank of the United States, he quotes a paper written by Jackson stating his reasons for closing the bank:

“The divine right of kings and the prerogative authority of rulers have fallen before the intelligence of the age,” Jackson said, continuing:

Standing armies and military chieftains can no longer uphold tyranny against the resistance of public opinion. The mass of the people have more to fear from combinations of the wealthy and professional classes— from an aristocracy which through the influence of riches and talents, insidiously employed, sometimes succeeds in preventing political institutions, however well adjusted, from securing the freedom of the citizen.… The President has felt it his duty to exert the power with which the confidence of his countrymen has clothed him in attempting to purge the government of all sinister influences which have been incorporated with its administration.  (From Meacham, Jon (2008-11-04). American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House (Kindle Locations 5497-5501). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

Nicholas Biddle was not Jewish, but I think Jackson’s concern about the aristocracy of wealthy and professional classes applies today.  The majority of this aristocracy is not Jewish, but a disproportionate percentage is.  Jews make up a high percentage of the richest people in the United States and of members of the Senate, for example.  Jews are also disproportionately represented in the government, sometimes as cabinet secretaries, but more often just below the secretaries as deputies, under secretaries, or assistant secretaries.   They are immensely influential in the financial and banking industry.  The chairmen or women of the Federal Reserve Bank have all been Jews since Paul Volcker was appointed in 1979.  It is almost as if there is an ethnicity test to be Fed chair.  

Everybody points out the similarities between Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump  Both were sort of rough hewn outsiders to politics.  Born poor, Jackson broke a line of six genteel Presidents, all connected to the founding of the United States and born in Virginia or Massachusetts, starting with Washington and ending with John Quincy Adams.  

In Jackson's time there were few Jews in America, but there were still bankers who were part of the disliked “aristocracy” or establishment, even then, who were the targets of Jackson’s anger.  Jackson’s main antagonist, Nicholas Biddle, came from an aristocratic Philadelphia family; he had relatives who had distinguished themselves in the Revolutionary War and early American politics.  Jackson felt that the bank was the enemy of the common man, while it had favored the American aristocracy.  Thus, he aimed to destroy the Second Bank of the United States and distribute its assets to smaller banks scattered around the country and presumably more in touch with ordinary people.  
The Bank of the US was more like an ordinary regional bank of today that handled the government’s accounts than today’s Federal Reserve Bank, but also performed some regulatory functions like the Fed.  The Bank of the US issued its own paper money, and stimulated or retarded the economy by loosening or tightening credit.  Prior to Biddle’s administration it was blamed for credit bubbles and recessions.  

Wikipedia says that under Biddle the bank was doing its regulatory job pretty well, but the public still disliked it as an aristocratic institution and still blamed it for past financial problems.  In this, it was not unlike the Fed and Wall Street today, which are perceived as aristocratic institutions oppressing ordinary people.  Today, because of the dominance of Jews in the financial system, from Wall Street, to the US Department of the Treasury, to the Federal Reserve.  Again, it is arguable that they have done a relatively good job of handling the economy, except for the Great Recession 2008 and the huge rise in income inequality in the last few decades.  The fact that no senior bankers were prosecuted for their roles in the Great Recession contributed to the perception that they were part of an aristocracy that was above the law.  Obama’s Democratic administration, which should have represented the common man, instead licked Wall Street’s boots, while the Fed bailed out the big  banks, but did almost nothing for the regular people who lost their houses or their savings.  This unfortunately creates the image that Jews are oppressing ordinary Americans.  America appears to keep humming along, except that the Jews keep getting richer and richer, while ordinary people get poorer, so much poorer that ordinary white people are resorting to opiates to escape the current situation.  

Of course, white people bear a lot of blame for the situation they find themselves in, but because there is a large group of Jews who appear so greedy and heartless, Jews open themselves up to being the target of white discontent.  To characterize all Jews as greedy and heartless is unfair to many ordinary Jews, who are not rich or famous because they are just ordinary people going about ordinary lives.  But because these elite Jews are so easily identifiable, they do a disservice to their fellows by appearing in an unfavorable light.  Einstein was a Jew, but so is most of Wall Street.  And so is Bernie Sanders, who is trying to rein in the excesses of Wall Street, and thus would probably have been an ally of Andrew Jackson in the attack of the Second Bank of the US on behalf of the ordinary citizens of the US.  .