Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Islam A Rock Religion. Fragility of Civilizations. Mass Media Got Where They Are All By Themselves. Can't Blame Trump.


When it comes to this peaceful religion its adherents and proponents simply take the rocks out of their head and use them to stone the betrayers and infidels:

Eventually Sharia Law will become acceptable  throughout the world because Islam is so peaceful and liberal/progressive  women and their organizations will remain silent.
This op ed from one of the most brilliant and articulate minds on the current scene is a must read.

This is why I remind my memo readers most civilizations last 250 plus years.  This is why I remind my memo readers about the threat from progressives who are anti religious and mock those of faith. This is why I remind my memo readers what Ben Franklin allegedly said to the scullery maid; "We have a republic if we can keep it." This is why I remind my memo readers what Reagan said regarding the fragility of our Democracy.  It is always one generation away from ending.

Finally, this is why I always remind my memo readers why the debt we have left future generations is both amoral and destructive.

China holds a great amount of our debt. Yet, are delighted when we continue to create bigger deficits because they know it eventually saps our strength and ability to do for ourselves and to maintain what we have.

Yesterday, I posted an op ed suggesting the issues that divide us have become greater than those that unite us. Is what we have and are doing to ourselves forming the basis of our nation's demise? I am pessimistic enough to believe it is possible. (See 1 and 1a  below.)
I did not catch Trump's speech last night.  I was busy reading about Bush 41, after we returned from dinner with friends. Lynn did watch and I have heard from others it was unbridled Trump shooting himself in the feet again.  The man obviously lacks a sense of proportionality.  His speech on Afghanistan was excellent and to the point.  Apparently, last night undid any benefit he derived when he actually does well.

One of my dear friends and fellow memo readers lamented the fact that I do not protect  and defend the press.  I believe the press have sunk so low because of their bias. I have no desire to make their case.  I have consistently maintained the Fourth Estate is invaluable to a free society but it also must be responsible, it also must report in an unvarnished manner.  I believe when front page reporters were given by lines everything went down hill.

I knew Jack Germond. He was a class act and the epitome of an old fashioned reporter. He had  a "uge" stomach to prove it because he did his share of drinking and digging for news at bars etc,

My father once cross examined a member of the Evans and Novak team and he dubbed them Evans and No Facts.

I also believe when public corporations began owning newspapers and broadcast companies they became more entertainment than reporting of history entities and that is why we are where we are.

The public has voted and the reliability of the mass media is lower than that of Congress.  They got there by themselves and I have no desire of defending them nor can I blame Trump. He might attack them and whip them and overdo it but they were in descent with the public long before he came on board..

Why civilizations fail (Ekev 5777)

Jonathan Sacks
Jonathan Sacks Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a global religious leader, philosopher, the author of more than 25 books, and moral voice … [More]

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God… Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery… You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”… If you ever forget the Lord your God… I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. (Deut. 8:11-19)
What Moses was saying to the new generation was this: You thought that the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness were the real challenge, and that once you conquer and settle the land, your problems will be over. The truth is that it is then that the real challenge will begin. It will be precisely when all your physical needs are met — when you have land and sovereignty and rich harvests and safe homes ­– that your spiritual trial will commence.

The real challenge is not poverty but affluence, not insecurity but security, not slavery but freedom. Moses, for the first time in history, was hinting at a law of history. Many centuries later it was articulated by the great 14th century Islamic thinker, Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), by the Italian political philosopher Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), and most recently by the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. Moses was giving an account of the decline and fall of civilizations.

Ibn Khaldun argued similarly, that when a civilization becomes great, its elites get used to luxury and comfort, and the people as a whole lose what he called their asabiyah, their social solidarity. The people then become prey to a conquering enemy, less civilized than they are but more cohesive and driven.

Vico described a similar cycle:
People first sense what is necessary, then consider what is useful, next attend to comfort, later delight in pleasures, soon grow dissolute in luxury, and finally go mad squandering their estates.”
Bertrand Russell put it powerfully in the introduction to his History of Western Philosophy. Russell thought that the two great peaks of civilization were reached in ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy. But he was honest enough to see that the very features that made them great contained the seeds of their own demise:
What had happened in the great age of Greece happened again in Renaissance Italy: traditional moral restraints disappeared, because they were seen to be associated with superstition; the liberation from fetters made individuals energetic and creative, producing a rare fluorescence of genius; but the anarchy and treachery which inevitably resulted from the decay of morals made Italians collectively impotent, and they fell, like the Greeks, under the domination of nations less civilized than themselves but not so destitute of social cohesion.

Niall Ferguson, in his book Civilisationthe West and the Rest (2011) argued that the West rose to dominance because of what he calls its six “killer applications”: competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the Protestant work ethic. Today however it is losing belief in itself and is in danger of being overtaken by others.

All of this was said for the first time by Moses, and it forms a central argument of the book of Devarim. If you assume — he tells the next generation — that you yourselves won the land and the freedom you enjoy, you will grow complacent and self-satisfied. That is the beginning of the end of any civilization. In an earlier chapter Moses uses the graphic word venoshantem, “you will grow old” (Deut. 4:25), meaning that you will no longer have the moral and mental energy to make the sacrifices necessary for the defense of freedom.

Inequalities will grow. The rich will become self-indulgent. The poor will feel excluded. There will be social divisions, resentments and injustices. Society will no longer cohere. People will not feel bound to one another by a bond of collective responsibility. Individualism will prevail. Trust will decline. Social capital will wane.
This has happened, sooner or later, to all civilizations, however great. To the Israelites — a small people surrounded by large empires — it would be disastrous. As Moses makes clear, towards the end of the book, in the long account of the curses that would overcome the people if they lost their spiritual bearings, Israel would find itself defeated and devastated.

Only against this background can we understand the momentous project the book of Devarim is proposing: the creation of a society capable of defeating the normal laws of the growth-and-decline of civilizations. This is an astonishing idea.

How is it to be done? By each person bearing and sharing responsibility for the society as a whole. By each knowing the history of his or her people. By each individual studying and understanding the laws that govern all. By teaching their children so that they too become literate and articulate in their identity.

Rule 1: Never forget where you came from.

Next, you sustain freedom by establishing courts, the rule of law and the implementation of justice. By caring for the poor. By ensuring that everyone has the basic requirements of dignity. By including the lonely in the people’s celebrations. By remembering the covenant daily, weekly, annually in ritual, and renewing it at a national assembly every seven years. By making sure there are always prophets to remind the people of their destiny and expose the corruptions of power.

Rule 2: Never drift from your foundational principles and ideals.

Above all, it is achieved by recognizing a power greater than ourselves. This is Moses’ most insistent point. Societies start growing old when they lose faith in the transcendent. They then lose faith in an objective moral order and end by losing faith in themselves
Rule 3: A society is as strong as its faith.

Only faith in God can lead us to honor the needs of others as well as ourselves. Only faith in God can motivate us to act for the benefit of a future we will not live to see. Only faith in God can stop us from wrongdoing when we believe that no other human will ever find out. Only faith in God can give us the humility that alone has the power to defeat the arrogance of success and the self-belief that leads, as Paul Kennedy argued in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987), to military overstretch and national defeat.

Towards the end of his book, Civilisation, Niall Ferguson quotes a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, part of a team tasked with the challenge of discovering why it was that Europe, having lagged behind China until the 17th century, overtook it, rising to prominence and dominance.

At first, he said, we thought it was your guns. You had better weapons than we did. Then we delved deeper and thought it was your political system. Then we searched deeper still, and concluded that it was your economic system. But for the past 20 years we have realized that it was in fact your religion. It was the (Judeo-Christian) foundation of social and cultural life in Europe that made possible the emergence first of capitalism, then of democratic politics.

Only faith can save a society from decline and fall. That was one of Moses’ greatest insights, and it has never ceased to be true.

Shabbat shalom.
Covenant and Conversation 5777 is kindly supported by the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation in memory of Maurice and Vivienne Wohl z”l.

1a)Replacing patriotism with tribalism
The politics of grievance and revenge divides us all

Just after last week’s terrorist attack in Barcelona, a pro-Islamic State website posted video from the scene along with a message in Arabic saying, “Terror is filling the hearts of the Crusader in the Land of Andalusia.”

Let’s unpack that. “Crusader” is a term jihadists use, pejoratively, for Christians. More specifically, of course, it refers to the Christian soldiers who fought a series of wars, beginning in 1095, to recover Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land from the Muslim armies that had burst out of Arabia four centuries earlier.

Andalusia indicates the territories of the Iberian Peninsula that were conquered by Muslim armies from North Africa beginning in 711. The Reconquista, a war waged by Christians to recover those territories, ended in 1492.

Here’s the larger point: To those discomfited by theological or even ideological explanations for most modern terrorism, one alternative explanation is this: The killers are revanchists. Their motivation is to reverse territorial losses.

They have suffered such losses, they believe, in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The want to fill “the hearts” of the “others” now living in such lands with terror in order to drive them out or at least relegate them to inferior status. In other words, these revanchists also are supremacists.

Longer-term, their goal is grander. Finland, which also suffered a terrorist attack last week, was never part of a caliphate or Islamic empire. And the Islamic State publishes an online magazine called Rumiyah – Arabic for Rome which, they believe, must be conquered by Muslims as was the Christian capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul). But priority goes to formerly Muslim lands.

In an odd way, this brings us to Charlottesville. The neo-Nazis and Klansmen who rioted and committed murder there also are revanchists in the sense that they seek revenge (the root of the word) and the restoration of power they believe has been taken from them here, in this land, America.

They are supremacists, too, of course, although they fight for supremacy based on race rather than religion. They are enemies of Americanism, rejecting the Founders’ conviction that “all men are created equal” in the eyes of God and should be equal under the law. They deserve unequivocal condemnation and firm opposition.

The Antifa movement, a collection of anarchists and radical leftists, opposes such white supremacism.  (About Islamic supremacism it has less to say.) But Antifa also is supremacist. It seeks to abolish – not least through violence -- individual rights in favor of group rights. Members of groups Antifa favors – those they deem victims or oppressed -- are to enjoy enhanced rights. “Others,” those they regard as “privileged,” are to have their rights curtailed or eliminated.

So Antifa should be condemned and opposed, too – not least by those who call themselves liberals or progressives. Too often Antifa and its ilk are enabled instead. For example, last week, The New York Times gave space to K-Sue Park, a “Critical Race Studies Fellow at the U.C.L.A. School of Law,” who argues against “a narrow reading of the First Amendment.”

Despite objections from conservatives, she notes, the U.S. government has come to reject “a colorblind notion of the right to equal protection.” On the contrary, the government encourages “consideration of race in university admissions.” Why not apply the same principle to freedom of speech? In other words, she suggests, the First Amendment should fully apply to a person of color. A person of pallor – not so much.

I can anticipate the emails I will receive. They will say such “reverse” discrimination is a necessary corrective. They will remind me of “the legacy of slavery.” To which, I’ll reply: Name an institution more ubiquitous than slavery. Name a civilization that began to view slavery as immoral and then went on to abolish it earlier than the West – which did so based on the Judeo-Christian belief that man is created in God’s image.

That was nothing less than a revolution in the history of morality. Resistance to this revolution was a root cause of America’s Civil War. That led to the emancipation. As for equality, that remains a work in progress. But which non-Western nations are doing better?

I think President Trump blew an opportunity in his impromptu press conference the Tuesday after the riot in Charlottesville. But he was not being hyperbolic when he worried about where identify politics and the sudden furor over old statues is leading.

This week it’s Robert E. Lee,” he said. “I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself: ‘Where does it stop?’”

It took not a week but only hours before his predictions came true. Among the examples: In Chicago, a monument to Abraham Lincolnwas vandalized and James E. Dukes, bishop of Chicago’s Liberation Christian Center, called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to rename Washington Park and to remove a statue of America’s founding father.

What should we call Washington, D.C.? Since we’re on the Potomac, perhaps River City? Because we certainly got trouble with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for the politics of grievance and division; for patriotism replaced by tribalism.

Meanwhile, revanchists, supremacists and jihadists overseas are building nuclear weapons in order, as they put it, to bring “Death to America.” They’re targeting us all – without regard to race, creed, color or party affiliation. At this fraught moment, it would be helpful if we had leaders with both the will and the skill to emphasize Americanism, the principles and the values – many of them incompletely realized -- that should unite us.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Grey Lady Has Faded. Can't Take It Anymore. Sen. Purdue Ended On An Upbeat Note. I Remain More Cynical.

As with so many formerly great organizations The New York Times has outlived it's usefulness as a reliable source of reliable news reporting. Of late, they have experienced far too many episodes of rushing to print false stories and their bias seems unlimited.

I have always been an advocate of a free press but, like with States Rights, I always attached the word State's Responsibility. The right to enjoy freedom also carries with it a moral demand for responsibility.  That does not mean different view points are not fair game and "verboten," Of course they are.  But responsibility for being factual, for not being driven by underhanded deviousness, by an ulterior motive is also critical.

I do not know when/why the New York Time's went adrift.  They still have some fine writers and they are chock full of interesting stories about art, literature , sports and those Sunday Crossword Puzzles etc.  This all changes when it comes to the political side of the paper and their editorial page and many, far too many, of their by-line reporting. They seem not to care that their slanting is obvious and beyond fair reporting.

I know the paper was founded by Jewish Families who felt a civic responsibility to fight for the under dog and, over time, the paper's Jewish blood has thinned as most of the founding family members intermarried and switched religious affiliation, I guess, in order to achieve social acceptance and as so often happens an antipathy to one's past takes over as a method of psychological denial of one's roots.
Jewish anti-Semitism is the worst kind and thus we have J Street and Soros.

I am no psychiatrist so I will go no further but I rest my case by posting the article below.

My friend, Bret Stephens, left The Wall Street Journal for the NYT's recently and I asked him whether he would feel comfortable there?  He responded same message different audience/readership.

Bret has devoted plenty of black ink espousing his antipathy towards Trump and I posted his most recent diatribe.  Perhaps Bret is a future tunnel through which the paper will seek a somewhat more conservative audience after Trump has left the political scene.  That remains to be seen. Perhaps he will become the NYT's version of a conservative Trump hater.  Time will tell.

Meanwhile,, I do not read The NYT's and prefer to stick with The Wall Street Journal and other sources to get my news and varied opinions.  You decide.  (See 1 below.)
As I noted in my previous memo, I heard Sen. David Perdue speak today and he noted he was totally behind Trump's basic goals and agenda and said we need an unorthodox president for these times.

I just received the posting below from a dear friend and fellow memo reader and it reminds me of the movie about the newscaster who yelled out the window: ' I can't take it anymore.' (See 2 below.)
Has what divides us become greater than what unites us?

I e mailed Sen. Perdue, who ended his comments on a positive note, I was not as hopeful as he was.

One of the reasons that makes me so cynical is the biography I am reading about Bush 41 by Jon Meachem. The author was given total access to Bush's and Barbara's diaries and notes and the various chapters about when he served in Reagan's Administration as VP and the period prior to his own first run for the presidency reveal how small and back biting those who work at the seat of power are. They lie, they start rumors, their vanity drives them to do nasty things as they rationalize it is always to save the nation etc. Even Bush was guilty of lying regarding the arms shipment to Iran through Israel in order to serve his/our president.

Trump is up against the mass media, the entire Democrat party and all the various entities that want to bring this nation to its knees. They have their agenda and it does not accord with Trump's in any manner except when it comes to spending more money than we have and can afford.

Sen. Purdue pointed out three Republican Senators, who for personal and petty reasons, blocked the health bill and, by doing so, did a disservice to the nation.

As I wrote someone recently, "we like what our politicians say , then they return to D.C and we do not like what they do or fail to do." I just do no see this changing because most people attracted to a political life are a certain breed. They seek power, they believe they know what is best for others and most live rather questionable lives. Also, the Republican Party is so fractured and the Democrats are insane.  Again Sen. Purdue gave us statistics on the numbers from both sides of the aisle who have been there virtually all their working lives.  He said corporate executives last about 6 years and a large number of those in the Senate have been their for decades, some for 6 terms. There is something to be said for continuity but there is also something to be said for sweeping out the cobwebs.

Lord, save me from the do gooders! You decide. (See 3 below.)


1) New York Times Blames the Jews for Donald Trump

By Ira Stoll -

The New York Times is blaming the Jews for Donald Trump.

That’s what I took away from two pieces in the newspaper over the weekend.
The first was a news article from Jerusalem, headlined, “As Trump Offers Neo-Nazis Muted Criticism, Netanyahu Is Largely Silent.”

The article faulted the Israeli prime minister for failing to condemn President Trump in a manner that the Times judged to be sufficiently speedy and specific.

This is strange on two fronts. First, it’s a double standard. When Netanyahu publicly faulted former President Barack Obama for the Iran nuclear deal, the Times complained he was meddling in US politics and making an enemy out of an American president. Now that Netanyahu is doing his best to avoid a public fight with an American president, he gets criticized for that, too.

Second, the Charlottesville marchers weren’t just antisemites, they were also, at least reportedly, racists. It was a Confederate statue that triggered the whole thing, not any Jewish symbol. But the only country whose leader got put on the spot in a full-length Times news article, at least so far as I can tell, was Israel. There was no full-length Times news article I saw about any majority black African or Caribbean countries or majority Asian countries (other than Israel) and their prime ministers’ or presidents’ reactions or non-reactions to Trump’s response to the Charlottesville events. Maybe there were some such Times articles that I missed. But I usually read the paper pretty carefully, and I sure did not spot any.

In the same Saturday issue of the Times came a column by Bret Stephens headlined “President Jabberwock and the Jewish Right,” critical of “right-of-center Jews who voted for Donald Trump in the election.” This is such a small group in proportion to Trump’s overall support that it’s hard to see why it merits an entire column. Not a single one of these “right-of-center Jews who voted for Donald Trump in the election” is actually named in the column, which claims that such Jews are now subject to “moral embarrassment.”

The column says Jews should have known not to vote for Trump because of “the denunciations of ‘globalism’ and ‘international banks’ and the ‘enemy of the American people’ news media.” Yet on July 3, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt sent a message denouncing “the old fetishes of so-called international bankers.” Plenty of Jews nonetheless voted for FDR without any moral embarrassment. Likewise, Bernie Sanders attacksthe press, including CNN and the New York Times, just about as vociferously and directly as Trump does. Plenty of Jews voted for Sanders, too, and Sanders’ attacks on the press haven’t been widely interpreted as antisemitic.
In my own view, the danger of antisemitism right now is less in the Oval Office and more in the Times comment section and editorial moderation. It was just days ago that the Times was assuring us that its decision to award a gold ribbon and “NYT Pick” stamp of approval to a reader comment describing Netanyahu as a “parasitic thug” was an inadvertent mistake. Yet in the comments on the Stephens column, the Times again awards a gold ribbon and “NYT Pick” label to a comment that reads in part, “It also remains to be seen whether American Zionists have learned to stop prioritizing ‘good for Israel’ over ‘good for America.’” That comment, which earned “thumbs up” upvotes from at least 410 Times readers, could have easily fit into the Times news article about the Charlottesville racists and antisemites “in their own words.” (It was also consistent with the Stephens column itself, which explicitly mentioned Israel as part of “the gist of the Jewish conservative’s case for Trump,” but omitted taxes, deregulation, or the Supreme Court.)
There was an extended discussion in the Times this weekend about bigoted commenters. That discussion came in a Times magazine article about the website Breitbart. The Times reported:

Breitbart functioned as a legitimizing tether for the most abhorrent currents of the right wing. Benkler referred to this as a ‘‘bridge’’ phenomenon, in which extremist websites linked to Breitbart for validation and those same fanatics could then gather in Breitbart’s comment section to hurl invectives… many of the writers and editors at Breitbart really were inclined to a pedestrian politics, but they were happy enough to welcome bigots if it meant increasing traffic. …he says he doubts that many of his former colleagues realize how deplorable their commenters can be. ‘‘They’re mostly just seen the way a lot of websites see their commenters, which is: ‘Oh, God, these idiots,’’’ he said. ‘‘I think there was a lot of opportunism going on. If they could get traffic from those people, then they got traffic from those people.’’

When a Times column blaming right-wing Jews for Trump generates a reader comment with 410 upvotes and a gold ribbon “NYT pick” for asserting that US Zionists prioritize Israel’s interests ahead of America’s, some people might start suspecting the Times itself of engaging inBreitbart-style reader-comment opportunism.

So long as the Times is on the topic of “moral embarrassment” — well, let’s just say, if not much of that seems on display among the paper’s own editors, it’s not because it’s entirely unwarranted.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.
2) This email reflects how many people feel today.

I am now in my 60’s.

Recently I received a questionnaire and request for money from the Republican Party and strongly agree with every question, as I have since Obama was elected.

Unfortunately the one question that was missing is: What have the  Republicans done for the American people?

We gave you a majority in the House and Senate, and you never  listened to us. Now you want our money, my money, more money. You should be more concerned about our votes, not our money.

You are the establishment which means all you want is to save your jobs and line your pockets.

Well guess what? It's not going to happen.

So far, TRUMP hasn't asked for a dime.

You might think we are fools because you feel Trump is on a self-destruct course, but look beyond Washington and listen to the masses. Nobody has achieved what he has, especially in the state of New York.

Here's why I want Trump. Yes, he's a bit of an ass; yes, he's an  egomaniac; but I don't care.
      The country is a mess because politicians suck.
      The Republican Party is two-faced and gutless, and illegals are  everywhere.
      I want it all fixed!
      I don't care that Trump is crude.
      I don't care that he insults people.
      I don't care that he has changed positions.
     I don't care that he's been married 3 times.
      I don't care that he fights with Megan Kelly and Rosie O’Donnell.
      I don't care that he doesn't know the name of some Muslim terrorist.

Our country has become weak, and bankrupt. Our enemies are making fun of us We are being invaded by illegals. We are becoming a nation of victims where every Tom, Ricardo and Hassid is a special group with special rights to a point where we don't even recognize the country we were born and raised in, "AND I JUST WANT IT FIXED."

 And Trump is the only guy who seems to understand what We The People want and need.

I'm sick of politicians, sick of the Democratic Party, the  Republican Party, and sick of illegals. I just want this thing fixed.

Trump may not be a saint, but he doesn't have lobbyist money controlling him; he doesn't have political correctness restraining him; all you know is that he has been very successful; a good negotiator; he has built a lot of things; and, he's also not a politician.

And, he says he'll fix it. And, I believe him because he is too much of an egotist to be proven wrong or looked at and called a liar.

I don't care if the guy has bad hair.

You are welcome to pass this on, or not.

Thought for the Day  "No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive!"

Don R. "Dick" Ivey, PhD
P.S.  No Borders, No Language, No Culture = No Country.

The Principles That Divide Us Might be Greater Than Those That Bind Us Together

 I believe that a) most realities happen over and over again in slightly different forms, b) good principles are effective ways of dealing with one's realities, and c) politics will probably play a greater role in affecting markets than we have experienced any time before in our lifetimes but in a manner that is broadly similar to 1937.

I'm essentially an economic mechanic who focuses on how reality works by studying the cause:effect relations and how they played out in history to help me bet on what's likely to occur. For reasons previously explained in "Populism..." it seems to me that we are now economically and socially divided and burdened in ways that are broadly analogous to 1937. During such times conflicts (both internal and external) increase, populism emerges, democracies are threatened and wars can occur. I can't say how bad this time around will get. I'm watching how conflict is being handled as a guide, and I'm not encouraged.

History has shown that democracies are healthy when the principles that bind people are stronger than those that divide them, when the rule of law governs disputes, and when compromises are made for the good of the whole—and that democracies are threatened when the principles that divide people are more strongly held than those that bind them and when divided people are more inclined to fight than work to resolve their differences. Conflicts have now intensified to the point that fighting to the death is probably more likely than reconciliation.
Average numbers hide the depths of the divisions. For example, by looking at average figures, one might conclude that the United States economy is doing just fine, yet when one looks at the numbers that comprise those averages, it's clear that some are doing extraordinarily well and others are doing terribly, with gaps in wealth and income being the greatest since the 1930s.
Largely as a function of these economic differences and differences in the principles that people believe most deeply in, we are seeing large and increasingly firm political differences, which are apparent only by looking below the averages. For example, Donald Trump's approval rating of 35% is a result of 79% support among Republicans and 7% among Democrats (Gallup). Of those who approve of President Donald Trump, 61% say they can't think of anything Trump could do that would make them disapprove of his job as President, and 57% who disapprove of Trump say they are never going to change their minds on the President's job performance (Monmouth). Similarly 40% of those polled (PRRI) would favor Donald Trump’s impeachment, which consists of 72% of Democrats and 7% of Republicans, and most of them won't change their minds.

In other words, the majority of Americans appear to be strongly and intransigently in disagreement about our leadership and the direction of our country. They appear more inclined to fight for what they believe than to try to figure out how to get beyond their disagreements to work productively based on shared principles.
So, where does that leave us?

While I see no important economic risks on the horizon, I am concerned about growing internal and external conflict leading to impaired government efficiency (e.g. inabilities to pass legislation and set policies) and other conflicts.

I of course hope that the principles that bind us together are stronger than the ones that divide us. I believe that this is a time when it is especially important for us a) to be explicit about what our principles are in order to be clear about what we agree and disagree on, b) to practice the art of thoughtful disagreement, and c) to respect our ways of getting past our disagreements so we can start rowing in the same direction. I believe that how well this is done will have a greater effect on the economy, markets and our overall well-being than classic monetary and fiscal policies, so I continue to closely watch how conflict is handled while tactically reducing our risk to it not being handled well.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse and Sex - Similarities. Trump's Address. Bolton On Pakistan and China. Bannon, The IRS. Sen. David Perdue Speaks! Good Man.

Was Marilyn a Scottish male?


The eclipse and sex seem quite similar in that there is so much talk and curiosity about something that lasts such a short time.
Caught all of Trump's address this evening. Excellent delivery, agree with the decision and anything that moves us away from Carter/Obama's weak approach toward foreign policy is long overdue.

Maybe we cannot win a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan but we can bloody their nose and perhaps, bring them to the negotiating table on our terms while helping Afghanistan develop into their kind of freer nation.

Thought John Bolton's linkage of Pakistan with China, after the speech, demonstrated what a broad mind and clear view he has and I am now doubly anxious that he will be here in February speaking to us.

If you have not given thought to coming to hear him Monday Evening, February 19, 2018, I urge you do so.
Becoming a citizen for those already a citizen is a financial coup/bonanza. (See 1 below.)
You can hate Steve Bannon all you want, you can accuse him of being everything evil under the sun.  If you do you miss the point that he is raising issues that need to be examined.

The old ways no longer serve America's interests and need to be rethought.  That is the essence of his argument and he is on sound ground bringing the matter to the fore.

The manner in which he does , arguably, may not serve his cause. (See 2 below.)
The Obama Administration corrupted may of our agencies.  Perhaps this judge will bring the IRS to toe.  (See 3 below.)
I just attended a luncheon, here at The Landings, where Sen. David Perdue spoke.  He is a successful, no nonsense business man/non-politician, a strong supporter of fiscal responsibility and our president. He, like myself, believes the crushing deficits and debt are our greatest threats because it restricts our ability to do what is needed in rebuilding our military, our infrastructure and getting our economy off dead center.  He also believes we need tax simplification and relief and gave several clear examples how our tax structure was killing jobs and allowing foreign entities to use arbitrage to buy up our companies which has a direct impact on employment.

He gave a host of other examples why government is not functioning as it should and can and laid blame on both sides of the aisle.  He believes we are overdue for a limited term amendment./legislation.

Good man, need more of his kind in government.
1) Becoming Illegal (Actual letter from an Oregon resident sent to his senator, The Honorable Mr. Wyden, 731 Hart Senate Office Building,  Phone (202) 224 3254Washington DC 20510

Dear Senator Wyden,

As a native Oregonian and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you.

My primary reason for wishing to change my status from U.S. Citizen to illegal alien stems from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted. If my understanding of this bill is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, all I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for only three of the last five years. I know a good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.  Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year so I'm excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine.

Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively? This would yield an excellent result for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2004 and 2005.

Additionally, as an illegal alien I could begin using the local emergency room as my primary health care provider. Once I have stopped paying premiums for medical insurance, my accountant figures I could save almost $10,000 a year.

Another benefit in gaining illegal status would be that my daughter would receive preferential treatment relative to her law school applications, as well as 'in-state' tuition rates for many colleges throughout the United States for my son.

Lastly, I understand that illegal status would relieve me of the burden of renewing my driver's license and making those burdensome car insurance premiums. This is very important to me, given that I still have college age children driving my car.  If you would provide me with an outline of the process to become illegal (retroactively if possible) and copies of the necessary forms, I would be most appreciative.

Thank you for your assistance.

Your Loyal Constituent,(hoping to reach 'illegal alien' status rather than just a bonafide citizen of the USA )

Dale B. Rilyeu
Lebanon, OR
2) Steve Bannon Isn’t Going Away

He aims to defeat the ‘globalist’ crew by pushing China into the 2018 campaign.

By  Walter Russell Mead
The defenestration of Steve Bannon will bring some badly needed calm to the White House, at least in the short term. But the deepest crisis of confidence in American foreign policy since the 1940s isn’t going away. Neither is Mr. Bannon, as he told me in a late-night telephone conversation over the weekend.
President Trump’s highest officials remain committed, one way or another, to defending the global order the U.S. has been building since the Truman era. That includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chief of Staff John Kelly and national security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster.
These men share a disdain for the Obama administration’s retrenchment and retreat, though they are less hopeful than former President George W. Bush’s neoconservative advisers about the prospects for promoting democracy abroad. They want to check the ambitions of America’s rivals while restoring the foundations, both military and economic, of U.S. world power. For Team Trump, defending Pax Americana, costly as it may be, remains the best and even the only realistic foreign-policy option.
As they seek to “normalize” Mr. Trump’s foreign policy post-Bannon, they will face two sets of challenges. One is external: Pax Americana is growing more difficult and costly to maintain in an increasingly disorderly world. From Venezuela’s implosion to North Korea’s drive for an intercontinental nuclear missile, from the standoff in the South China Sea to the madness of the Middle East, there are urgent problems that resist easy or elegant solutions.
The second challenge is skepticism—both among the wider public and in the Oval Office—about the continuing value of conventional international relations in an evolving world. Mr. Bannon aims to deepen that skepticism, which he sees as a force that can change the trajectory of American foreign policy and politics alike.
For Mr. Bannon, the assumptions and institutions of the Pax Americana brought victory over the Soviet Union, but they are already failing in a contest with China. Beijing, he claims, has learned to game the very system that most of Washington’s established analysts believe is the key to American strength.
The traditional view is that institutions like the World Trade Organization support U.S. power and security. Mr. Bannon sees them instead as facilitating a deliberate Chinese attack on the economic strength that underpins American social cohesion and military strength. To deal with a new kind of competitor in a new kind of contest, Mr. Bannon believes, the U.S. must move away from the international architecture of the past and embark on a radically new course.
In his view, voters already sense this, even if Washington’s power brokers don’t. “The country is ahead of the elites,” he told me. As China continues to export deflation as a means to stave off economic crisis at home—what Mr. Bannon calls Beijing’s mercantilist trade strategy—he expects growing effects on the incomes and jobs of Americans. At the same time, the geopolitical threat of rising Chinese power will be increasingly felt.
Mr. Bannon’s former White House colleagues are committed to defending free trade and the “globalist” diplomacy that he thinks will be increasingly unpopular. So he hopes to separate President Trump from the national-security team now in power by making foreign policy a key issue in the 2018 and 2020 campaigns.
Leveraging the Breitbart media empire and his own star power, Mr. Bannon seeks to play the role of a latter-day Paul Revere, riding through cyberspace to warn the American people that the Chinese are coming. The goal is to create conditions for a new domestic political alignment and a fundamental shift in American strategy abroad.
This is a goal of extraordinary ambition and, some would say, arrogance. But Mr. Bannon’s ability to connect with public opinion in ways most thought impossible in 2016 suggests he should not be dismissed out of hand.
Even if his campaign is only partly successful, the foreign-policy divide inside both parties will widen. To the extent that “globalist” foreign policy comes to be identified with tolerating Chinese mercantilism, the public’s skepticism about it will likely deepen. As allies and opponents around the world perceive that domestic political support for America’s current foreign policy is weakening, friends will begin to hedge, adversaries will test, and the international environment will grow ever more challenging.
The White House will probably be a calmer place now that Steve Bannon has gone. It remains to be seen whether that quiet can extend to the country and the world.
Mr. Mead is a fellow at the Hudson Institute and a professor of foreign affairs at Bard College.
3) (Still) Seeking IRS Accountability

Judge Walton orders the IRS to give straight answers for a change.

By The Editorial Board
In a little noticed decision last week, federal Judge Reggie Walton ordered the IRS to answer a series of questions by Oct. 16. Notably, the tax agency must finally explain the specific reasons for the specific delays in approving each of dozens of conservative nonprofit applications—delays that stifled free speech during a midterm and presidential election. Judge Walton is also requiring the IRS to name the specific individuals that it holds responsible for the targeting.
These are basic questions of political accountability, even if the IRS has stonewalled since 2013. President Obama continued to spin that the targeting was the result of some “boneheaded” IRS line officers in Cincinnati who didn’t understand tax law. Yet Congressional investigations have uncovered clear evidence that the targeting was ordered and directed out of Washington.
Former director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner was at the center of that Washington effort, but the IRS allowed her to retire with benefits. She invoked the Fifth Amendment before Congress. One of her principal deputies, Holly Paz, has submitted to a deposition in separate litigation, but the judge has sealed her testimony after she claimed she faced threats. The Acting Commissioner of the IRS at the time, Stephen Miller, stepped down in the wake of the scandal, but as far as anyone outside the IRS knows, no other IRS employee has been held to account. Even if the culprits were “rogue employees,” as the IRS claims, the public deserves to know what happened.
Judge Walton’s ruling means that “the IRS must finally acknowledge its wrongdoing (and the reasons for it) in the context of a judicial proceeding in which the agency may be held legally accountable for its misconduct,” Carly Gammill told Ms. Gammill is an attorney at the American Center for Law & Justice who represents tea-party groups in the litigation.
The Trump Administration also has a duty to provide some answers. The Justice Department and IRS have continued to resist the lawsuits as doggedly as they did in the Obama era. Attorney General Jeff Sessions can change that by ordering government attorneys to quickly and fully comply with Judge Walton’s orders. Seven years is too long to wait for answers over abuses of the government’s taxing power