Sunday, August 20, 2017

Egalitarian To The Bone? Have Haters and Intimidation Won? Economic Growth Is The Right Balm.

I have posted many op ed's on both sides of the Charlottesville and statue matter whichI believe set forth the issues. They have ranged from Bret Stephens' dump Trump op ed to Rabbi Dov Fischer's, as well as Spencer Lawton's brilliant LTE, with which I still have reservations (I am having lunch with my dear friend, Minister Jim Giddens, and my equally dear friend, Spencer Lawton, this Thursday.)

As always, I have my own bias but I generally try to post both sides in the hope it will cause readers to think about their own views and possibly come to understand the opposite argument. I believe this a far better approach than packing heat, carrying a bat and destroying property while preventing others their right to speak. This is the way fascists control, this is the art of physical intimidation and this is sick.  It is the way of the churlish, the boor, the uneducated, the bully.

Using hateful methods to address hate is un-American and disingenuous. As for myself, my preferred weapon of choice is the pen and satire and I recognize/acknowledge there are many better at doing so. (See , 1a  and 1b below.)
Trump and The First Lady have chosen not to attend the Kennedy Center Art Awards so as not to intrude raucous politics.  I understand their reasoning but it is a sad day when the leader of this nation and his wife feel their presence is a compelling distraction at such an event.

I  understand GW's desire not to interfere in rescue efforts after a severe hurricane but art awards honoring our nation's supposed artistic best should be different.

Have hater's and intimidation won?
Sen's. Corker, Flake - do we know them by their names? (See 2 below.)
Economic growth, the balm that can ease so much of our self-imposed pain and help erase the crippling mistakes of Obama..  (See 3 below.)
I know Trump has consistently referred to the market as an indication his tenure as president , so far, has been successful. Every time he does I wince because there is nothing more fragile than markets and attaching one's success to their height is fraught with risk.  (See 4 below.)

1) Subject: And Yet President Trump, in His Classically Inartful Way, Was Absolutely Right Dov Fischer, The American Spectator 8-18-17

For many years Robert Eshman, now the editor-in-chief and publisher of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles has been  using  the Jewish Journal to  advocate  for many  positions, that, if accepted, would inflict severe damage  on the United States and on Israel.

 A review of Eshman’s columns yields many examples. These include:

He was a outspoken advocate of those who were willing  participants in Ben Rhodes’ notorious  echo chamber operation using false information to sell the Iranian nuclear deal to the American public . [The full extent of the  deceit was revealed in a New York Times article where Rhodes  bragged about how he had created his media echo chamber.]

He was an advocate for overthrowing Mubarak.  He was a proponent of the Muslim brotherhood takeover in Egypt.

He was a proponent [ severely criticizing Israel for its concern] of the so-called “Arab spring".

Most recently Eshman , in a series of articles lashed out, peddling false media accounts relating to Donald Trump’s remarks on the riots in Charlottesville.

YES! The Nazis, skinheads, white supremacists present a real and present danger to Jewish institutions since individual lunatics have in the past invaded Jewish institutions attempting to murder the occupants. Their ideology is despicable and should be fought against whenever it arises.

HOWEVER, violence from the left is increasingly organized  seeks exclusively to shut down opposing views from moderates and conservatives.  [These actions are defended as opposing hate speech which could lead to another Genocide.]

Below is an article by Rabbi [Prof.]Dov Fischer. It is sane and sober articles such as this one that the Jewish Journal should be publishing rather than his current diet of political screeds.

I just did something fascinating. I just watched the President’s entire 14-minute impromptu news conference at Trump Tower on Monday that sparked all the latest barrage of anti-Trump screeds from the left media that will criticize him every day, no matter what he does, augmented by the “Never Trump” Republicans and neo-conservatives who will not rest until they can re-conquer the political party they lost because of three terms of two failed Bush presidencies, followed by the two failed Presidential candidacies of Sen. John McCain and of Gov. Mitt Romney.

Not the reportage about the conference, but the entire 14 minutes unedited, uninterrupted. I found myself agreeing with his every word. I did not find his tone or demeanor “unpresidential” in the least. He sharply and explicitly condemned the Nazis and White Supremacists unequivocally. He also condemned the extreme leftists who premeditatedly came armed with weapons to smash up a demonstration that, rightly or wrongly, had been granted a legal permit. (I personally wish that ACLU liberals were not so proactive in advancing the right of Nazis to get permits to rally at public venues, but the demonstration had a permit. Meanwhile, the Antifa Alt-Left thugs came with flame-throwers, bats, and shields, and they came to fight.) All the while, the police did nothing for much too long. Chaos and violence ensued.

The media get exercised when President Trump does not parrot their scripts, but they never minded that Barack Obama would not call out leftist rioters and violent leftist organizations by name. As inner cities would burn, with innocents watching their life savings go aflame as mobs would burn down their inner-city stores in cities from Baltimore to Ferguson, the Obama Administration avoided planting blame or naming hate groups. When a Jihadist murdered Americans serving our nation faithfully at Fort Hood, Obama attributed the murders to “workplace violence.” Obama never could articulate the term “Radical Islamist terrorist,” as though he were Lou Costello fearing what would happen to him if he said “Niagara Falls.” When Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot by her own former supporter, a mentally ill clinger who had backed the Democrat, the media blamed the violence on Republicans like Sarah Palin. When Rep. Steve Scalise was shot, and others were wounded, by a Bernie Sanders supporter who had set out to kill Republicans, the media avoided pinning blame on a left ideology and overheated rhetoric of leftist hate. But when the President of the United States rightly excoriated law-breakers and thugs on all sides of a street conflagration, he came in for a torrent of media abuse, forcing even level-headed bystanders to take cover.

In archaeology, the Rosetta Stone was an historic find that enabled scholars to decipher ancient writing. For me, the Rosetta Stone in defining Donald Trump’s attitudes towards minorities is the meme that dogged him throughout the Republican presidential primaries, and through the presidential general election, alleging that Trump is an anti-Semite, a Jew-hater. I would listen to CNN panelists call him an anti-Semite, read articles in the New York Times and Washington Post calling him an anti-Semite, listen to spokespeople for certain national Jewish organizations that now are in the pocket of the Democrats and hear them call him an anti-Semite. They blamed him and White Supremacists with whom he supposedly sympathizes for a spate of anonymous phone calls threatening violence at Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) around the country.

That was my Rosetta Stone. Donald Trump an anti-Semite? Really? His daughter Ivanka is an Orthodox Jew. She observes the Sabbath on Friday night and Saturday, maintains a kosher home, apparently does not even take phone calls on the Jewish Sabbath. Does the President want to put her into a gas chamber? His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Ivanka’s husband and an Orthodox Jew. Some fathers-in-law hate their sons-in-law, but President Trump deeply values Jared Kushner, has him in his inner circle, adores the guy. Does Trump want to put him into a concentration camp? The Kushners have three children. Does Donald Trump want to have those Jewish grandchildren of his put into ovens? Indeed, other of President Trump’s children are married to Jewish people. Moreover, the President is an incredible friend of Israel. He has stopped the endless calls by the Obama-Kerry-Clinton Administration for Israel to retreat to borders that former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban called “Auschwitz borders.” This is an anti-Semite?

If Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, please find more anti-Semites like him, as many as are willing to seek public office, and I will vote for all of them, and so will 90 percent of all American Orthodox Jews, one of the strongest pro-Trump conservative voting demographics in the United States. Orthodox Jews, the fastest-growing community of American Jews whom the Pew Survey now forecasts will comprise a majority of New York’s Jews in a few decades, the community who observe Judaism’s kosher laws and Sabbath practices and traditions as set forth in the Torah and Talmud, are now among America’s most solid Republican conservative constituencies.

So that is my Trump Rosetta Stone. That is the archeological discovery that makes clear how false and defamatory are all the media canards accusing this good, though deeply egotistically flawed, man of unfairness based on social group. Through all his public life, until he became the Republican conservative political leader, he had no meaningful problem with any minority group. No one accused him of racism through scores of years in public life under the microscope to which he willingly subjected himself, even yearned for. Comedians loved him. Talk show hosts loved him. NBC gave him a national weekly television platform for years and years. He was under constant scrutiny, and race identification never was part of his mindset, and no one ever suggested otherwise.

(And, oh yeah, by the way: The spate of threatening telephone calls to Jewish Community Centers around the country? None were perpetrated by White Supremacists or Nazi-wannabes. Rather, the perpetrators ultimately were revealed to be a mentally ill African American who somehow thought that telephoning a threat to a JCC would get his former girlfriend in trouble, and an even more deranged Israeli Jewish millennial who used some computer technology to call in his anti-JCC threats from the Middle East.)

But, wait: Didn’t President Trump say that some of the Caucasians at the Charlottesville protest rallies were fine people? What about that?

Unlike many Northeast liberals, I have traveled America’s deep South with some intensity, the states of the Confederacy. As an Orthodox Jew with a Brooklyn accent, easily spotted because I wear my yarmulka as my religious convictions require, I traveled throughout the region with some awareness that I stood out as a Jew. Wherever I went, I met many wonderful people. I would talk with people at length about their lives, their hopes, their dreams. I also walked the streets. At the time, I was startled to see so many monuments of Dixie, the Confederacy, the Civil War. I remember wondering about the initials “CSA,” evident on monuments everywhere in the South, which I soon learned was the acronym for “Confederate States of America.” I came to learn, first-hand, that there are many fine, high quality, decent people in the South who truly recoil from the haters on the Right, who truly despise the bigots of today and are ashamed of the bigotry of the past, but who sincerely honor the memories of fallen war heroes of the South. They peacefully protest removing statues of Confederacy heroes like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson because they see them as having been true military heroes and patriots who gave their everything to protect Virginia in particular, and the South in general, from being overrun by invading armies that threatened critical aspects of their way of agrarian life. Consider, as one example, the devastation and horror that General Sherman and his army wreaked upon the South, burning and looting Atlanta and burning and looting other Southern cities along their march. Lee and Jackson were not politicians, pushing for a social agenda. Rather, they were men who felt duty-bound to serve their patrimony. Gen. Jackson actually lost his life a result of a terrible incident of friendly fire at Chancellorsville. And Gen. Lee, who had been offered by President Lincoln the opportunity to lead the Union armies, felt obliged to defend his native Virginia; as a result, his wealth and property were confiscated, as the North converted his mansion and land into Arlington National Cemetery.

There is no easy answer for the statue issue. I have seen that issue for years and years, long before it became the Issue du Jour. In my travels for several months through the South and at the great Civil War battlefields, I saw the monuments everywhere: in main throughfares along Monument Row in Richmond, at the State Capitol in Nashville, at street corners. At the South Carolina state capitol in Columbia, they have preserved the broken walking stick attached to the monument of George Washington, so as never to forget how Sherman’s men ransacked the state and even desecrated the monument of Washington. Similarly, they have refused to repair Union cannonball damage to the building, preferring instead to cover gaping holes with metal patches that starkly remind visitors of the attack that happened there. I have seen the aesthetic beauty and passion that went into sculpting those monuments, and I have read the inscriptions that breathe not a word about slavery nor the social injustices of the Confederacy but of brave young boys, who never owned a slave — the vast majority of Southerners never owned slaves — but who gave their lives for their communities, for their honor, in some cases even for their women.

As a Jew hailing from the North, whose persecuted East European ancestors did not even arrive in this country from Russia and Poland until a quarter century after the Civil War, I also perceived that those monuments constitute a horrible daily insult and vile dishonor to African Americans and, frankly, an incomprehensible curiosity for a country that had defeated the Confederacy and had reunited. What indeed were all those monuments to the losing side doing all over the place? I came to a sense that perhaps those monuments should be moved to Civil War museums, to the great preserved battlefields at Antietam/Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville, Bull Run/Manassas, Fredericksburg, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, Cold Harbor, Vicksburg, and Petersburg. (Gettysburg already has its full complement.) Perhaps move them to cemeteries where Confederates lie buried.

But I do believe, as President Trump tried to say in his way, that many of those at the demonstrations indeed were decent people motivated solely by wanting peacefully to preserve the heroes of their history, oblivious to the ramifications — that, sadly, their history includes much that is shameful, even if Lee solely was motivated by a soldier’s rules of honor and service, as taught at West Point; even if Jackson was motivated solely by that same code of a soldier’s honor and service, amplified by a religious believer’s sense that he had a duty to country.

President Trump sadly is correct. George Washington owned slaves. So did Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and James Madison at Montpelier. So did many who signed the Declaration of Independence. Shall we take down the Washington Monument? Shall we rename the nation’s capital and the state where the liberal Democrats of Seattle govern? Should we tear down the Jefferson Memorial? Is there now yet another reason to change the name of the Washington Redskins!

And, while at it: How about encouraging some violent street-fighting in Manhattan, tearing down the Peter Stuyvesant statue in Manhattan and renaming that eponymous public school? He was the most vicious anti-Semite of pre-independence America.

1a)Where Is the Corporate Disavowal of Black Lives Matter?
By Michelle Malkin

Liberal business executives are leaping like lemmings from President Donald Trump’s manufacturing advisory council. Good riddance.

These silly string-spined CEOs have sided with social justice agitators, Beltway media enablers and Democratic resistance knuckleheads who believe Trump was wrong to condemn violence and hatred on all sides of the political spectrum. Never mind that of the four people arrested after the violent outbreak in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend, two were identified with the white nationalist movement and the other two were left-wing “antifa” counterprotesters.

One of those radical leftists is the man identified as having reportedly punched a female reporter for the D.C.-based newspaper, The Hill. But since that doesn’t fit the national media narrative of journalists allegedly being victimized by right-wing incitements to violence, mum’s the word from corporate media executives and the rest of the preening CEOs.

Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier claimed he stepped down from the Trump business panel because he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” But Frazier, who served on President Obama’s Export Council, felt no equivalent responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism when the White House invited leaders from the violence-inciting Black Lives Matter movement for a forum on policing in July 2016.

The invitation was a grievous affront to law enforcement officers and their families across the country outraged at the deadly ambushes committed against cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge that summer, along with several other forgotten cop-killings fueled by BLM-linked hate and vengeance. Who remembers the slaying of Kentucky state trooper Joseph Ponder by BLM marcher and “Hands up, don’t shoot” slogan-spreader Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks in September 2015? At least 11 police have been shot dead and at least nine more wounded by BLM protesters, activists and/or supporters to date.

One of the surviving policemen in the Baton Rouge massacre filed suit last month against BLM and laid out the case against its leaders, who “not only, incited the violence against police in retaliation for the death of black men shot by police, but also did nothing to dissuade the ongoing violence and injury to police. In fact, they justified the violence as necessary to the movement and war.”
The permanently disabled cop’s lawsuit recounts escalating riots, arson and plundering after the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray in Ferguson, Missouri, through the ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and leading up to the Obama administration’s embrace of BLM’s leaders. After the meeting, BLM leader DeRay McKesson responded to questions about his movement’s culpability for inciting violence by asserting that his “people take to the streets as a last resort. … So when I think about anything that happens when people are in the street, I always start by saying, ‘People should not have had to have been there in the first place.'”

As the lawyers for the Baton Rouge cop, who must remain anonymous to protect his family, properly concluded: “These statements were a ratification and justification of the violence.”

But instead of recriminations, the militants of BLM enjoy continued praise and coddling from corporate America. Tech execs from Netflix, YouTube and Google all donated to McKesson’s failed mayoral bid in Baltimore. Business execs have been coughing up untold hundreds of millions of dollars to BLM and related causes, funneled through left-wing nonprofits such as the Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy.

On Tuesday, Walmart executive Doug McMillon wagged his finger at Trump, urging “elected officials to do their part to promote a more just, tolerant and diverse society.”

This from the head of a retail giant that only recently stopped selling racially divisive, anti-cop taunting, violence-glamorizing T-shirts that bragged: “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter.”

And the disavowal double standards beat goes on.

Michelle Malkin is host of “Michelle Malkin Investigates” on Her email address is To find out more about Michelle Malkin and read features

1b) David Horowitz: Charlottesville Is Biggest 'Fake News' of Summer
Editor’s Note:  David Horowitz is the author of the runaway New York Times bestseller 

"Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America."
His book first predicted the anti-Trump left would use race to divide America and undermine the Trump presidency. His op-ed for Newsmax appears below. Get more info on "Big Agenda" —

The tragedy in Charlottesville could have been an occasion to stop and consider how the tolerance for politically correct violence and politically correct hatred is leading the nation towards civil war.
Instead the media and the political left have turned this incident into the biggest fake news story of the summer, transforming its real lessons into a morality play that justifies war against the political right, and against white people generally.
The organizers of the "Unite the Right" demonstration in Charlottesville were repellent racists.
But they came to defend a historic monument honoring a complex man and cause, and not to attack it or presumably anyone else.
They applied for a permit and were denied. They re-applied successfully in a petition supported by the local ACLU.
If they had come to precipitate violence, why would they have gone to the tedious trouble of applying for a permit?
Who knows what — if anything — would have happened if that had been the end of the story and no one had showed up to oppose them.
What Unite the Right actually demonstrated was that the assortment of neo-Nazis, pro-Confederates and assorted yahoos gathered under the banner of the "Alt-Right" is actually a negligible group.
This supposed national show of strength actually attracted all of 500 people.
Compare that to the tens of the thousands who can readily be marshaled by two violent groups of the left — Black Lives Matter and Antifa — and you get an idea of how marginal "white supremacists" are to America's political and cultural life.
Yet "white supremacy" and its evils became the centerpiece of all the fake news reporting on the event, including all the ludicrous attacks on the president for not condemning enough a bogeyman the whole nation condemns, and that no one but a risible fringe supports.
Talk about virtue signaling!
Omitted from the media coverage were the other forces at work in precipitating the battle of Emancipation Park, specifically Black Lives Matter and Antifa, two violent leftwing groups with racial agendas who came to squelch the demonstration in defense of the monument.
Unlike the Unite the Right demonstrators, the leftist groups did not apply for permits, which would have been denied since there was another demonstration scheduled for that park on that day.
But why should they have applied for a permit, since the mayhem they had previously caused in Ferguson, Berkeley, Sacramento, Portland and other cities, was accomplished without permits, while their criminality was presented by the media as "protests," and their rioting went completely unpunished.
In other words, there were two demonstrations in Charlottesville — a legal protest by Unite the Right and an illegal protest by the vigilantes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
Who started the fight is really immaterial. Both sides were prepared for violence because these conflicts are already a pattern of our deteriorating civic life.
Once the two sides had gathered in the same place, the violence was totally predictable.
Two parties, two culpabilities; but except for the initial statement of President Trump, condemning both sides, only one party has been held accountable, and that happens to be the one that was in the park legally.
What is taking place in the media accounts and political commentaries on this event is an effort by the left to turn the mayhem in Charlottesville into a template for their war against a mythical enemy — "white supremacy" — which is really a war on white people generally.
The ideology that drives the left and divides our country is "identity politics" — the idea that the world consists of two groups — "people of color" who are guiltless and oppressed, and white people who are guilty and oppressors.
This is the real race war.
Its noxious themes inform the mindless, hysterical hatred of President Trump, and the equally mindless support of racist mobs like Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
It is a war from which no good can come. But it won’t be stopped unless enough people have the courage to stand up and name it for what it is.
 David Horowitz is the president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a leading conservative thinker.
2) Et Tu, Senator Corker?

President Trump should be as wary of entering the Senate chambers as Julius Caesar should have been that fateful day in the Roman Senate. While Trump’s physical safety is assured, character assassins like Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker await. Corker, who is up for reelection in 2018, has announced with his remarks about President Trump’s stability and competence, Corker’s lack of both:
Sen. Bob Corker delivered his harshest criticism of President Trump yet, telling an audience in Chattanooga on Thursday that Trump has not demonstrated that he understands the character of the nation and has not shown the competence needed to lead. "The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful -- and our nation and our world needs for him to be successful, whether you are Republican or Democrat,” the Tennessee Republican said at a Rotary Club meeting in Chattanooga… 
“He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation,” Corker told reporters following his luncheon address. “He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today. And he’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that. Without the things I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”
Sen. Corker must have missed the last election where Donald Trump, despite Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion war chest and the support of a sitting president, mobilized a grassroots army that broke the Democrats’ vaunted “blue wall” against all predictions, including Sen. Corker’s. That by itself shows that Trump does understand the character of a nation that is tired of career politicians more interested in keeping their job rather than doing their job. Trump’s business career demonstrates an ability to cut through bureaucratic BS and red tape in the proud tradition of Larry the Cable Guy’s mantra of “get ‘er done!”

Trump understands planning, perseverance, and the virtues and benefits of hard work, which is more than the likes of the vacationing Bob Corker understand. He and his colleagues had seven years to put an ObamaCare repeal and replace bill on President Trump’s desk and did less than nothing. And he talks about competence?

Like his colleagues, Corker demonstrated great courage in voting for ObamaCare repeal bills they knew President Obama would veto but when there was a President Trump ready to sign one, they headed for the tall grass to hide. Where was Corker to question the competence and stability of the likes of Sens. McCain, Murkowski, and Collins when they sided with the Democrats to let ObamaCare survive? Did Corker question Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s competence when he failed to muster enough votes?

In Corker’s Tennessee, 77 percent of counties have just one insurer, and the average premium increase is 63 percent over the past year. The average monthly insurance premium in Tennessee in 2013 was $213. In 2017, it was $587, an increase of 176 percent. Was the failure to repeal and replace the fault of Trump’s White House or Corker’s Senate?

Corker apparently has joined the self-righteous and hypocritical piling on after Charlottesville and Trump’s alleged late and insufficient condemnation of white nationalists. This rush to faulty judgment ignores the malfeasance of police who let conflicting groups collide in violence and ignores the Black Lives Matter and Antifa mobs that showed up in black ninja outfits complete with shields and blunt instruments. Ironically, Trump’s words after Charlottesville, clear enough for those not already hating Trump, were more than enough for Susan Bro, mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Hyer:
The mother of the woman killed at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., thanked President Trump on Monday after he spoke out against hate groups for their role in the weekend's violence. 
"Thank you, President Trump, for those words of comfort and for denouncing those who promote violence and hatred," Susan Bro said in a statement, according to NBC News.  
How many times must Trump denounce racism in all its forms to satisfy Corker and the others? This is the President in his Inaugural Address speaking of race in terms Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King would echo:
“A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots,” he said.
“We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag. And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky. They fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator,” Trump added.”
He has said that many times, his words falling apparently on ideologically deaf ears. Contrast Trump’s words here and those he spoke after Charlottesville with those of President Obama after the murder of five Dallas police officers when he used a memorial, not to condemn the racially motivated shooter, but rather racist cops. As the Washington Times reported:
President Obama defended the Black Lives Matter movement Tuesday at a memorial service for five slain Dallas police officers, saying bigotry remains a problem in police departments across the U.S.
While paying tribute to the fallen officers for sacrificing their lives to protect anti-police protesters from a sniper, Mr. Obama also called on law enforcement agencies to root out bias that he said is contributing to violence on the streets of America.
“We have all seen this bigotry in our lives at some point,” Mr. Obama told an audience of about 2,500 at a concert hall in Dallas. “None of us is entirely innocent. No institution is entirely immune. And that includes our police departments. We know this.”
The officers -- Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa -- were killed during a Black Lives Matter protest Thursday night by a black sniper who told police he targeted white officers…
Fox News commentator Katie Pavlich added: “Worst part of Obama’s lecture about racial bias today? He did it at a memorial for 5 officers who were killed because they were white.”
Did Corker question President Obama’s stability and competence? To do that would have invited charges of racism from Obama’s defenders, just as Trump is accused of racism and insensitivity for noting that bigotry and intolerance exists on both left and right.

My advice to Sen. Corker is for him to show some stability and competence, fight for President Trump’s health care and tax reform agenda, and leave the grandstanding in an election year for others.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications. 
3) Repealing ObamaCare Is The Key To Restoring Economic Growth
By Scott S. Powell

For the last seven-plus years, Republicans ran on repealing and replacing ObamaCare. It was a winning platform, demonstrated by their gaining seats in Congress in almost every election since Obama was elected in 2008 — achieving a majority in the House in 2010, a majority in the Senate in 2014, and finally the White House in 2016.

And with President Trump stating that he is anxious to sign a "repeal" or a "repeal and replace" bill into law, passage seemed like a sure thing.  Yet so far the Senate has failed to pass a bill. But there is still a way forward.
The legislative priorities of the new administration started with repealing ObamaCare because of the need to eliminate the complexity and burden of its 20-odd new taxes on business, families and small businesses — a total of some $500 billion-plus in additional taxes — and to abolish and reduce costly regulations on small businesses.
Meaningful tax reform that includes major simplification and reduction in rates is the key to spurring new economic growth and the repatriation of $2 trillion-plus of corporate cash held overseas.
But comprehensive tax reform is nearly impossible with ObamaCare in place — like trying to build a new structure on a fundamentally flawed foundation. Additionally, we can't get to a key area of regulatory reform — those rules that apply to small business, which generate 70% of the new jobs in America — with ObamaCare's regulatory burdens that kick in at 50 or more employees.
A successful strategy has to include tactics that deliver votes on the margin.
Donald Trump has the bully pulpit and the pen to sign executive orders to deliver those critical votes in the Senate. He has already stated that neither Republicans nor Democrats should contemplate bailing out the insurance companies, which without repeal, remain part of the ObamaCare law. With widespread bipartisan support among voters, that point should continue to be driven home.
Then the president should stress the outrageous unfairness of members of Congress and their staff being exempt from paying the same high premiums that the people pay under ObamaCare.
In point of fact, the ObamaCare law was so onerous upon implementation that President Obama had to respond to complaints for relief from Congress, directing his Office of Personnel Management to exempt congressional staffers from ObamaCare mandates and to provide taxpayer reimbursement for up to 75% of the cost of their premiums — subsidies not available to the American people forced to live under the ObamaCare law.
If President Trump reminds people of these facts through Twitter and the bully pulpit, and then signs an executive order rescinding the Office of Personnel Management's provisional loopholes and taxpayer subsidization, thus forcing every member of Congress and every staffer into the failing ObamaCare exchanges and forcing them to pay the full price of insurance under ObamaCare — just like the people stuck with it are forced to do — he would likely win additional votes.
And finally and most important, President Trump needs to address the subject of the financial health of the United States. Six years ago this month — August 2011 — Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. credit rating, specifically citing at the time that "reforming and preserving U.S. entitlement programs is the key to long-term fiscal sustainability."
During the following years under Obama, the financial health of America deteriorated dramatically — a story the press ignored. Since that warning from S&;P, U.S. Treasury debt increased 47%, while the economy grew only 21%. Total U.S. federal government indebtedness grew to 105% of GDP.
But a more accurate picture of the nation's true financial health is found in the ratio of government debt to the actual tax revenue collected, as this provides a clearer picture of the country's debt burden and the capacity to pay. On that basis the U.S. is now the second-weakest among the OECD nations, even ranking below Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, and exceeded by only Japan.
Given the resistance to entitlement reform, the path of least political resistance to avoid insolvency is to dramatically revitalize growth in the U.S. economy.  That is why the Trump administration's tax and regulatory relief are so desperately needed.  Hastening business formation and creating new jobs, which expand the tax base, is the key to eliminating the deficit and stabilizing the level of U.S. debt.
But what is first required is the repeal of ObamaCare. And to get the necessary votes in the Senate, President Trump needs to pull out all the stops. Only then can we get on with tax reform, accelerated economic growth and increased tax revenues that will follow, enabling the achievement of a balanced budget in Washington.
In fact everything we hold dear as a people and nation depends on restoring the nation's financial health, which is after all the foundation for making America great again.
  • Powell is a senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle. 
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    All Things Bearish

    By John Mauldin | Aug 20, 2017
    “There is only one side of the market and it is not the bull side or the bear side but the right side.”– Jesse Livermore
  • “At least us old men remember what a real bear market is like. The young men haven’t got a clue.”– Jeremy Grantham

    Image: John Solaro via Flickr
    With regard to the stock market, some people are true perma-bears while others merely adopt a bearish outlook when indicators suggest trouble ahead. There’s a big difference between the two.
    Call it nature, nurture, or something else, but some people have a reliably bearish outlook. You know before they say a word which way they will lean. The same is true of perpetual bulls.
    Perma-bulls and perma-bears serve a useful function: They pay attention to information the rest of us may overlook because it doesn’t fit our own biases. Occasionally they unearth important information we should heed. So, it’s important not to discount everything the perma-types say.
    As for me, I’m not perma-anything. Academic research confirms that my attitude is the proper one: cautious optimism. I look for opportunity where I can find it. And I find opportunity all the time, even though some of it is out of my financial reach. There would be a dearth of financial activity if investors and entrepreneurs did not aggressively seek opportunity. Perma-bears may never get around to joining in the fun (unless maybe they think gold will rise), and perma-bulls get periodically taken to the slaughterhouse when a business-cycle recession unfolds.
    Today we’ll review some unusually bearish indicators from several sources, not all of them perma-bears, who lean bearish right now, even as US benchmarks post new highs. You can discount what follows if you wish – but don’t ignore it. Next week I’ll do an “All Things Bullish” letter. Please note, I am not necessarily calling for an end to this amazing bull market. I’m agnostic about that right now, because the traditional forecasting tools have been taken to the woodshed, an issue I’ve talked about in many previous letters. So we simply have to diversify trading strategies as opposed to being permanently long or short anything.
    Now, before we jump into the bear pit, let me announce an event that some of you will want to attend. George Friedman of Geopolitical Futures is holding a special one-day conference on October 25 at the Yale Club in New York City. The theme is “Rising and Falling Powers: Separating Signal from Noise.” George says he will reveal a blueprint for the future international power structure. Click here for more information and to register.
    OK, let’s take the plunge.
    Evaluating Value
    What’s a fair price for a share of stock? In theory, it’s easy to define. The fairest price lies at the intersection of the company’s supply and demand curves. The market price at any given moment reveals exactly where that point is. The averaged prices of all stocks in an index, appropriately weighted, tell us the same for market benchmarks.
    In practice, the calculation is not so simple, because it is human beings who make the decisions – if not themselves then by telling their computers how to decide. Humans don’t always make rational choices. The stock market is the scene of a never-ending debate over who is the most rational actor.
    My good friend Steve Blumenthal of CMG and I wrote a joint letter earlier this year called “Stock Market Valuations and Hamburgers.” Four months later, that letter is even more relevant. So are charts that my friends at Skenderberg Alternative Investments shared in their latest monthly review. (It’s free, by the way, and you should definitely ask to join their list. Just be aware, they seem to have a permanently bearish view, or at least they have recently. They are a fascinating source of all things bearish each month.)
    We begin with this Bank of America chart. Look how many hours the average worker has to work in order to buy a notional share of the S&P 500. Amazing. Kudos to the B of A analyst who worked this data up.
    You can see how valuations that are measured in this way skyrocketed in the 1990s bull market, then plunged in the following bear market and recession. They climbed again ahead of the 2008 crash yet could not reach their late-1990s peak – but now they have.
    Equity capital is now at a historical high (going back to 1964) relative to labor. Two factors could tug the line down to a more normal level: sharply higher wages or sharply lower stock prices. Of course, I guess prices could go sideways for a few decades as wages rise. But on the probability scale I put that outcome pretty close to zero.
    The S&P 500 is just one index, of course. There are many others. In fact, choosing an index is now even harder than choosing a stock is.
     The upper line is staggering: Since 1995, the number of listed stocks has fallen 42%? What market force could be causing that? Actually, I can think of several. The financialization of the markets since 1995, making it cheaper to buy your competitors than to actually invest in equipment to compete, has produced a constant stream of mergers. This is not creative destruction. It has not resulted in new jobs and greater competition. It is, rather, a result of the central banks of the world messing with the free market and of businessmen optimizing the value of their earnings and cash. When cash is cheap, buy your competitors.
    Another clear culprit is regulatory overreach, making it harder for small companies to go public. I am closely aligned with a few private companies. They could easily go public at nine-figure valuations, but the thought of being public companies is simply abhorrent to their management. It’s a been-there, done-that, have-the-scars-on-my-back-and-don’t-want-to-go-there-anymore attitude. Serving on the boards of two small public companies (mostly as a learning experience, because they do suck time) has inoculated me against fantasies of going public. When Uber and Air BNB and a host of their fellow unicorns do not go public and thereby allow the general market to participate in their growth, something is clearly wrong with the system. Congress should step in and take control of their regulatory creations, but it appears they can’t even do the simple stuff like healthcare and tax reform.
    In any case, just in the last year the number of indexes crossed above the number of stocks – and is pointed higher still. The increasing popularity of index-based ETFs is driving this trend, but at some point momentum has to slow. But I don’t think that is going to happen soon, because the money that is being made by successful ETFs is such a lure that anybody with the distribution process thinks he or she can do it. Duplicating somebody else’s ETF? Not a problem; it’s all in your distribution chain. And the market is eating the index ETFs up.
    Frankly, while I nostalgically wish for the old world of investing, I’m focusing my own money management and assets on using these new ETFs as trading vehicles, which is what they are perfectly designed for. A “passive” index ETF that can trade exactly like a stock is an ideal vehicle for expressing a diversified trading strategy.
    Our next chart comes from my friend, the always-interesting John Hussman, in his August 14 letter. It shows the S&P 500 Index value (left scale) against the percentage of US stocks trading above their 200-day moving average (right scale). Stocks in that category are usually said to be in long-term up trends.
    This chart reveals a major disconnect. Even as the index moves steadily higher, the number of bullishly trending stocks has dropped considerably. On the other hand, it’s still above 50%, so we can’t yet say most stocks are losing momentum. This is a figure the bears are watching, though.
    The significance of momentum was brought home to me last week when I visited with one of my favorite hedge fund managers. I normally think of him as a “left tail risk” guy, as he has made a great deal of money shorting the right things over the past decade or so. So I was somewhat surprised when I found him in an extraordinarily bullish mood. He was seeing value everywhere. We sat in front of his Bloomberg screen and watched it light up. Even as we talked, he was punching buttons and buying and selling, giving trade orders to his staff.
    He pointed out that we have been in a “rolling bear market.” Different sectors have gone into a bear-market phase, but the overall market has kept on chugging upward. His remark brought to mind something I wrote about in 2006, when everyone was saying housing prices couldn’t go down. The reality was that every region I looked at had had a bear market in its housing prices, just not at the same time as the rest of the country. Thus the housing price index for the country looked quite sustainable. But for those of us in Texas, scarred by memories of being able to buy homes at auction on the county courthouse steps in Houston, the concept of falling home prices was very real.
    I work closely with managers who “deconstruct” the S&P 500 and invest in various sectors from time to time. Not quite sector rotation but a close cousin. A few years ago I think everybody realized you didn’t want to be in energy stocks. But the overall index kept steaming right along.
    Recession Watch
    Stock valuations are the discounted values of future earnings. Future earnings depend on future revenue, which may diminish whenever the future includes a recession. So broad economic conditions are another factor to watch.
    Broad economic conditions depend ultimately on the consumer’s ability and willingness to spend money. Last week’s July retail sales report gave us a peek at that. Core retail sales rose 0.6% from June. The uptick was more than analysts expected, and most categories were up, too. The exceptions were clothing and electronics sales. The latter may have to do with potential smartphone buyers waiting to see new iPhone models expected to debut this fall.
    Peter Boockvar summed up the bigger picture:
    Bottom line, after the slowest y/o/y core sales gain since March 2016 in June of 2.5%, they rose by 3.6% y/o/y in July, which is about in line with the 5-year average of 3.3%. This pace though still remains well below the 5%+ growth rates in the two prior recoveries. Here are some reasons why: many consumers have jobs, but we know accelerating wage gains remain spotty; the savings rate is near the lowest level since 2008; and credit card debt, student loans, and car loans each total $1T+. Lastly, we know healthcare spending (high deductibles) and rent have dominated the budgets of many.
    Consumer spending, at least according to this report, is up compared to the recent past but far lower than it should be at this point in the cycle. Peter mentions debt as one factor. The New York Federal Reserve Bank just updated its consumer debt chart, giving us an enlightening breakdown.
    The bulk of consumer debt (68%) is still in residential mortgages. Balances have climbed in recent years but remain below the 2007 peak. Both auto and, most significantly (and perhaps ominously), student loan balances have grown enough to offset the lower mortgage balances. Total debt is close to where it was at the beginning of the last recession.
    Keep in mind also that debt totals don’t capture all the obligations a typical household faces. Vehicle and apartment leases, for example, don’t show up in this chart. But they are nonetheless monthly bills that consumers must pay.
    That little omission might be important when (not if) the next recession strikes. This could be soon, if an indicator Michael Lebowitz uncovered proves reliable.
    Real value added is the inflation-adjusted version of gross value added. Here’s how Michael explains it:
    GVA is a measure of economic activity, like GDP, but formulated from the production side of the economy. It measures the dollar value of all goods and services produced less all the costs required to produce those goods or services. For example, if 720Global buys $100 worth of wood, $20 worth of other materials, and employs $30 worth of labor to build a chair, we have produced a good for $150. If that good is sold for $200, 720Global has created $50 of economic value.
    Over time, GVA tracks nominal GDP closely, but they can diverge in the short run. That is happening right now. Three of the last four quarters brought Real GDP growth – albeit not much – while RVA was negative. RVA below zero, as plotted above, is closely associated with the onset of recessions.
    This measurement technique is a little offbeat, but it is intriguing. Maybe this time is different, but we know from all kinds of other data that a recession should strike soon – by which I mean that one is quite possible in the next 12–18 months.
    Federal Follies
    Assume for the sake of argument that we find out in early 2018 that the US economy is, in fact, in recession. What will the Fed do?
    That question should be easy to answer. The Fed will do what it has always done: cut interest rates to stimulate economic activity. Except that this time, the Fed has little room to cut. Past recessions saw the Fed reduce the benchmark rate an average of 4–5 percentage points. Doing the same this time would put the federal funds rate well below zero.
    That’s right – NIRP in America. It can happen here. Worse, some people want it to happen here, among them Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff. In a recent paper reported by Bloomberg, Rogoff wrote: “The growth of electronic payment systems and the increasing marginalization of cash in legal transactions creates a much smoother path to negative-rate policy today than even two decades ago.”
    I am on record as saying NIRP will be a disaster if imposed in the US. I still believe it. I would like to be able to assure you that whoever takes the reins at the Federal Reserve next year will agree with me that NIRP is dangerous, but we don’t know who that will be. President Trump is in no hurry to remove that uncertainty, either. It is entirely possible that the Fed’s Board of Governors will have an entirely new ruling coalition this time next year, and it might well include NIRP advocates like Marvin Goodfriend.
    Where that outcome would lead us is anyone’s guess, but I’m confident it would not be bullish for US stocks.
    The S&P 500: Just Say No!
    My friend James Montier, now at GMO, and his associate Matt Kadnar have written a compelling piece on why passive investors should avoid the S&P 500. Their essay, entitled “The S&P: Just Say No,” argues that the forward growth potential of the S&P 500 is significantly lower than that of other opportunities, especially emerging markets. Let’s look at a few of their charts.
    The chart above breaks the total return from the beginning of the current bull market in the S&P 500 into its four main components: increasing multiples, margin expansion, growth, and dividends. He notes that this total return is more than double the level of long-term real return growth since 1970.
    If earnings and dividends are remarkably stable (and they are), to believe that the S&P will continue delivering the wonderful returns we have experienced over the last seven years is to believe that P/Es and margins will continue to expand just as they have over the last seven years. The historical record for this assumption is quite thin, to put it kindly. It is remarkably easy to assume that the recent past should continue indefinitely, but it is an extremely dangerous assumption when it comes to asset markets. Particularly expensive ones, as the S&P 500 appears to be.
    More bluntly put, the historical record supporting this assumption is nonexistent. It never happened. Just saying…
    The authors then describe how they build their seven-year forecasts of S&P 500 returns. They argue that for the next seven years returns will be a negative 3.9%. Note that GMO is not a perma-bear money-management business. Their forecasts were extremely bullish in February 2009. They are a valuation shop, pure and simple. Investors – typically large institutions and pension funds – that are leaving Grantham’s management firm now are going to regret it. The consultants or managers who suggested that move are going to need to polish their résumés.
    The bottom line? “The cruel reality of today’s investment opportunity set is that we believe there are no good choices from an absolute viewpoint – that is, everything is expensive (see Exhibit 10). You are reduced to trying to pick the least potent poison,” the duo says. Their Exhibit 10 is shown below.
    For a relative investor (following the edicts of value investing), we believe the choice is clear: Own as much international and emerging market equity as you can, and as little US equity as you can. If you must own US equities, we believe Quality is very attractive relative to the market. While Quality has done well versus the US market, long international and emerging versus the US has been a painful position for the last few years, but it couldn’t be any other way. Valuation attractiveness is generally created by underperformance (in absolute and/or relative terms). As Keynes long ago noted, a valuation-driven investor is likely seen as “eccentric, unconventional, and rash in the eyes of average opinion.” [Emphasis mine.]
    In absolute terms, the opportunity set is extremely challenging. However, when assets are priced for perfection as they currently are, it takes very little disappointment to lead to significant shifts in the pricing of assets. Hence our advice (and positioning) is to hold significant amounts of dry powder, recalling the immortal advice of Winnie-the-Pooh, “Never underestimate the value of doing nothing” or, if you prefer, remember – when there is nothing to do, do nothing.
    Markets appear to be governed by complacency at the current juncture. Indeed, looking at the options market, it is possible to imply the expected probability of a significant decline in asset prices. According to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, the probability of a 25% or greater decline in US equity prices occurring over the next 12 months implied in the options market is only around 10% (see Exhibit 12). Now we have no idea what the true likelihood of such an event is, but when faced with the third most expensive US market in history, we would suggest that 10% seems very low.
    Those are wise words indeed.
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