Slaughtering Sacred Cows

Yesterday I spoke of my frustration with the almost-a-war in Afganistan. It seems that perhaps the president shares my feelings, according to Brandon J. Weichert, in The American Spectator.

In this case, Trump’s presidency has attempted to challenge the status quo that dominates Washington, D.C. and prevents reasonable policy from being made. […]

And this slaughtering of sacred cows is always, in my experience, necessary to getting an organization running correctly. If anybody ever tells me, “We’ve always done it this way,” that’s all the reason I need to make sure it changes. Comfort implies complacency and other bad things.

During last year’s strategy review for the failing war in Afghanistan, for instance, Trump grew incensed at the advice his generals were giving him about the strategy. Trump is reported to have argued that their advice was akin to the bad advice a highly paid consultant gave to the owners of the elite 21 Club in Manhattan during their disastrous remodel in 1987.

According to Trump, the overpriced consultant’s “lousy advice cost the owner a year of lost business and that talking to the restaurant’s waiters instead might have yielded a better result.” To add insult-to-injury, Trump is reported to have argued that “the tendency is to assume if someone isn’t a three-star general he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and that… talking to lower-ranking workers has gotten him better outcomes in business.”

Boy, is that ever the truth. One will never get the real story from the headquarters weenie, or the guy who makes his money making it take longer. Get out in the field, or down on the factory floor and talk to the people doing the job. Traditionally, I think it was the sergeants in the military, roughly equivalent to foremen in my world, that is where you get the unvarnished truth.

For Trump, who fancies himself as a bit of a turnaround man, the advice of the military leadership in Washington is useless. After all, these leaders have had 20 years to fix the mistakes — and they haven’t.

My friend David Danford recently argued that the military’s optimism about any mission is often why the country finds itself in quagmires, such as Afghanistan. Danford, who teaches at West Point, is correct. His solution is to inspire greater cynicism in American military leaders.

Not too sure about the workability of his solution, but I think he has the problem pegged.

Earlier this month, the outgoing American military commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army General John Nicholson Jr., advocated for the United States to end its engagement there. After all, General Nicholson (rightly) argues that things will never change in Afghanistan until Afghans stop killing Afghans — which will likely never happen.

General Nicholson is a good man, I think.

Brandon sums up with this:

Fact is, just because the United States hasn’t officially lost in Afghanistan or that Washington has managed to prevent South Korea from being invaded by the North does not mean that America is winning. In 2005, the geopolitical analyst George Friedman wrote that the United States was so powerful that it didn’t need to win wars; it merely needed to ensure that it did not lose them. Such a paradigm is insane — especially for those footing the bill, both in terms of blood and treasure.

For a country with the world’s largest defense budget, having “strategists” say that the best thing the United States can do in war is to neither lose nor win them is exactly why a political outsider with extensive business — but little political — experience won in 2016. Trump’s election was the apotheosis of the decades-long failure of America’s bipartisan fusion party (the so-called “Deep State”).

Of course, in the face of such failure, the bipartisan consensus among America’s political elite is immune to change. When challenged about the efficacy of the Afghan War strategy, Trump is belittled and called “insane” by anonymous government officials. After questioning the desirability of keeping American forces hostage to a nuclear-armed Pyongyang on the Korean peninsula, Trump is derided by shadowy “experts” and accused of coddling dictators. Rather than reassess their strategies, and make hard choices, America’s professional “strategists” are merely doubling-down on a losing hand (clearly, their lack of business acumen means they’re unfamiliar with the “sunk cost fallacy”).

What Trump is doing is slaughtering many sacred cows in Washington, D.C. For this reason alone, the “Deep State” has decided Trump’s presidency must be ended.

Winning is good and losing is bad, sometimes very bad. What is worse is standing around bleeding American blood and money, to no purpose, forever. That is unforgivable. As General Patton once put it:

“Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way.”

No wonder Washington wasn’t too fond of him.

Advertisements

Greg Jones noted yesterday in The Spectator that three hard truths have emerged from the Trump Presidency.

If the first couple of years are any indication, Trump’s presidency will almost certainly go down in history as one of America’s most divisive and dramatic.

Long-term friendships and family bonds have been shattered, and the unrest is such that pundits are actually discussing the possibility of a civil war. It’s sadly not out of the question; the increasing violence of the radical left and the laughable comparisons to Nazi Germany from the Watergate-obsessed media are sowing discord rarely seen in American society.

Well, yeah, but I’m not sure it is really all that much worse than it was in the Obama Presidency. It is easy to forget how divisive and abusive things like the Obamacare fight really were. No, it’s not better now, exactly, except that our side is winning, maybe.

Lowering taxes does increase revenue. This debate is as old as politics itself, but thanks to Trump’s tax cut, the largest in more than three decades, it can finally be put to rest. The fruits of the legislation have been ripe indeed as companies repatriated nearly one-third of a trillion dollars in a mere six months following the tax cut and invested heavily in employee training and infrastructure.

But perhaps its greatest worth is ending the supply side vs. Keynesian debate once and for all.

As proof, consider that the federal government collected a record $1.3 trillion in income taxes through the first nine months of FY18, beating the previous record by $71 billion, which was set during the same period last year. And as the economy shows few signs of slowing down, these numbers may well continue to increase.

It’s true, of course, and Kennedy’s tax cuts did the same thing, but sadly, greed in politicians is everlasting, and so while we know there is still another example, there are still politicians who think the proper model is Hugo Chevez. And that is sad.

Racism is the left’s problem, not the right’s. Despite never-ending accusations of racism aimed at Trump by delusional Democrats and their public relations representatives in the mainstream media, minorities aren’t buying it.

Approval of the President among African Americans hit 36 percent in mid-August, up 17 percent from the same period in 2017. And Trump’s approval among Hispanics climbed an astonishing ten percentage points in a single month over the summer, even as the administration faced unprecedented criticism over its family separation policy.

If you want proof of this, first look around, then watch any video by Dr. Thomas Sowell, Candace Owens, or many other blacks who have escaped the plantation. Mind, in many ways the left is not racists, per se, they want to enslave us all, not just minorities. But together we can stop this nonsense.

The deep state is real. Despite the media’s obsessive and positive coverage of Robert Mueller’s “collusion” investigation, and their willful shooing aside of its numerous shortcomings and inconsistencies, the truth is slowly but surely coming out. And it appears Trump was right all along.

There can be little doubt that, given what we know now, federal agencies were harnessed to both excuse Hillary Clinton’s transgressions and impede Donald Trump’s Presidency.

No doubt about it, in the last two years it has moved from possible, but probably a conspiracy theory to a proven fact.

In fact, if we hadn’t elected Trump, our days as a Constitutional Republic would have been over. Oh, we would still had the vote and the attendant circuses, but it would have no longer mattered because the bureaucrats in Washington would have had all the power.

We elected Trump just in time, as a last ditch effort, and we may pull it off.

An American President, at Last

From Bookworm:

It’s another #NeverTrump attack on Trump’s rough-hewn style. Pfeh! Trump is the perfect American president: a heart-of-gold brawler who puts American first.

In its endless competition with the Weekly Standard to be the outlet the drive-by media quotes most (and whose pundits get the most appearances on MSM outlets), National Review has published an article entitled Americans Want Their President to Have a Little Class. As the title suggests, the article bemoans the fact that Trump, despite being rich (although his opulence is nouveau riche rather than “classy” rich), actually gets down in the dirt to fight his political and media opponents (but I repeat myself).

Frankly, I don’t care about presidential class. Unlike the Queen, our president is not a figurehead. He’s a working executive.

Given the president’s intended functionality, I’m infinitely more interested in his accomplishments on behalf of the American people than I am in bemoaning his pugilistic style. And indeed, to the extent his pugilistic style is serving the American people by (a) exposing media figures for partisan hacks rather than honest reporters and (b) bypassing that same media to bring his message direct and uncensored to the American people, that pugilistic style is an important part of his serving the American people.

I’m also uninterested in all the mean-girls gossip our hysterical media likes. Was he mean to Omarosa and other employees? I don’t care. Does he like to eat two scoops of ice cream? I don’t care. Is he a diet soda freak? I don’t care, although he might care if it leads to kidney stones. Has he been an unfaithful husband? I don’t care. That’s between him and Melania, and it matters about as much as the unfaithfulness of Kennedy, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, etc. Clinton’s unfaithfulness mattered only because (a) he raped and assaulted women, (b) he lied under about his attacks, and (c) with his White House shenanigans, he exposed himself to serious blackmail. His relationship with Hillary was none of my business.

As for lowering the tone of the White House, that ship has sailed. [follow the link, and keep reading]

I don’t completely agree about Clinton or Kennedy for that matter. It also goes to whether one can trust them to keep their word, but it’s water over the dam, and her major point is valid; the president’s job is to lead the United States, not to be a style icon. Not that we couldn’t use one.

I’ve often described America as rowdy, loud, and proud, and so we are. And so should our president be. You know, a man of the people. We ain’t never gonna be as reserved or polite as the British, get over it, mostly they have, and from what I’ve seen, they rather like us (except their leadership, who worshipped at the Obamashrine).

We’ve built from essentially nothing except the best British ideas, a juggernaut of a country, a bit rough around the edges, but more powerful and more liberty loving than anything the world has ever seen.

What has Europe done lately to compare, that we should always defer to them? They’ve lived off us for 75 years, we’ve freed them from their mistakes three times, at a high cost in blood and treasure. They should be emulating us, not us, them.

A few years ago P.J. O’Rourke summed it up for all time.

I was having dinner…in London…when eventually he got, as the Europeans always do, to the part about “Your country’s never been invaded.” And so I said, “let me tell you who those bad guys are. They’re us. WE BE BAD. We’re the baddest-assed sons of bitches that ever jogged in Reeboks. We’re three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother’s side. You take your Germany, France, and Spain, roll them all together and it wouldn’t give us room to park our cars. We’re the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d’Antibes. And we’ve got an American Express card credit limit higher than your piss-ant metric numbers go. You say our country’s never been invaded? You’re right, little buddy. Because I’d like to see the needle-dicked foreigners who’d have the guts to try. We drink napalm to get our hearts started in the morning. A rape and a mugging is our way of saying ‘Cheerio.’� Hell can’t hold our sock-hops. We walk taller, talk louder, spit further, fuck longer and buy more things than you know the names of. I’d rather be a junkie in a New York City jail than king, queen, and jack of all Europeans. We eat little countries like this for breakfast and shit them out before lunch.”

Of course, this guy should have punched me. But this was EUrope. He just smiled his shabby, superior European smile. (God, don’t these people have dentists?)

I can hear a president from Brooklyn saying that to his staff, can’t you?

Back in the frontier days, we had some mythical heroes, Mick Finn, Paul Bunyan, and others. They were the biggest, baddest guys on the river or in the north woods. Their feats were legendary, and many. Donald Trump is like that. He may put on his pants one leg at a time, but he wears seven-league boots with them.

And that makes him an American president, not for the ‘elites’, not for the Europeans or the Chinese, but for Americans who do what is necessary, yesterday, today, every day in fact.

Here he is stopping to chat with some real American elites.

Looks like America to me, in fact, it reminds me of this

 

Not a bad thing! In truth, a very American thing.

Making American Steel Great Again

If one was to drive up Broadway (the main street) in Gary, Indiana, probably not a recommended thing these days, although my mother and sisters used to do their Christmas shopping there saying it was just as good as the ‘Miracle Mile’ in Chicago, one would get to the 0 block, and then one would get to 1 North Broadway. When you got there you would find the main gate of United States Steel, Gary Works, the largest integrated steel mill in the world.

It was built to be such, at a time when US Steel already produced more steel than Great Britain, in 1906. US Steel also built Gary, itself, for its workers, and the city’s fortunes gained with the mill, and then declined with it.

Why Gary? Because it was close to the railroad superhub of Chicago, with a usable lakeshore on Lake Michigan for the ore freighters from the Missabe Range in Minnesota (like the Edmund Fitzgerald), and railroads like the Nickle Plate and the Pennsylvania could economically bring the coal from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. A good share of the steel would go on to Detroit to build American cars and trucks, mostly by rail.

This was the world that J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie designed: utilitarian, efficient, huge, and yes, a bit depersonalizing. In my first post here, I commented on driving through here back in the early sixties, when the flares from the mills illuminated the skies like hell itself.

But even then, things were changing. European and Japanese mills were starting to export steel to the US, not least because their mills were more modern and efficient. They should have been, they were built in the fifties, not least because of American aid, and their protective tariffs, which we allowed to subsidize their recovery from World War II.

And that is what President Trump is trying to fix, the unfair tariffs which have hobbled American business ever since World War Two. How’s he doing? I’d say, not too badly.

From Breitbart:

U.S. Steel has announced that they will invest $750 million at their 110-year-old steel manufacturing plant known as Gary Works in Gary, Indiana, crediting President Trump’s protective tariffs on steel imports.

What was once the largest steel mill in the world will now get a $750 million facelift thanks to Trump’s 25 percent tariff on all imported steel into the United States, designed to protect American industries and jobs from being outsourced.

In a statement this week, U.S. Steel executives said they would be revitalizing the Indiana plant which employs about 3,800 American workers, the Chicago Tribune noted.

While U.S. Steel executives say they are not yet planning to increase the number of jobs at the Indiana plant, U.S. Steel Corp. President and CEO David Burritt said the company is “experiencing a renaissance” because of Trump’s tariffs.

Now mind, it will never be as it was back in the day when reports of guys earning $20 an hour for leaning on a broom were believed, in a country where the minimum wage was $2 an hour. That world where America had 50+% of gross world product, and most of the world’s steel capacity, is gone forever.

But American workers are amongst the best in the world, and we can compete with anybody in the world, given an at least fairly level field.

And that is what this trade policy is about. It’s not about increasing corporate treasuries, or boosting Wall Street, although it probably will do that.

It about putting America back to work, doing productive things, not shuffling through the wreckage. I can remember in the Eighties when I was working on air conditioning systems for contractors who were tearing down USS South Works, which had the only rolling mill in the world that could roll the armor for the Iowa class battleships. That entire mill is gone. Killed by the Unions, poor management, and foreign competition, not to mention newer processes, such as used by Nucorp, now the largest American producer.

And that too is necessary and proper. Capitalism is, above all, a force that working through free markets forces us to do our best or fall behind. Sometimes we call it “creative destruction”. That’s an accurate term, the old has to give way to the newer, better way of doing necessary things. Just as the Conestoga gave way to the railroad which in turn gave way to the airplane and the automobile.

We can long for a simpler, slower time, and many of us do, but I doubt we’d want to live there, knee deep in horse dung, and working at least dawn to dusk. or at least, I wouldn’t.

MAGA indeed, a new and improved (still again) America.

Still Winning

Remember the trade dispute with China? From the Wall Street Journal, paywalled, of course, via PowerLine.

U.S., China Plot Road Map to Resolve Trade Dispute by November

Chinese and U.S. negotiators are mapping out talks to try to end their trade standoff ahead of planned meetings between President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at multilateral summits in November, said officials in both nations.

The planning represents an effort on both sides to keep a deepening trade dispute—which already has involved tariffs on billions of dollars of goods and could target hundreds of billions of dollars more—from torpedoing the U.S.-China relationship and shaking global markets.

Scheduled midlevel talks in Washington next week, which both sides announced on Thursday, will pave the way for November.

Just because they are willing to talk, doesn’t make a deal, let alone a good deal. But notice it is the Chinese who want to talk, just like von Drunker couldn’t wait to get over here from Brussels. Amazing the things that happen when one plays to win.

 

Trump as China Diplomat: Suppose His Shock Diplomacy Works? Trump started a tariff war with Beijing. China vowed to retaliate in kind. But Beijing was more vulnerable because China has more to lose—it exports far more than it imports and China indeed violates trade norms of fair pricing and fair access.

A number of commentators, me included, faulted Trump for the incoherence of his moves. But Trump’s blunderbuss approach seems to be harming the Chinese economy and catching the leadership off guard. Whether by luck or design, Trump picked a moment when China’s economy was precarious, due to its heavy reliance on debt, the instability of many of its money-losing enterprises, and its inflated stock market.

Now Chinese President Xi Jinping, who seemed to have consolidated power, is facing criticism for bungling the trade conflict to China’s detriment. With the value of China’s currency falling, some observers are even comparing China to Turkey.

You almost have to feel a little sorry for Xi. The Chinese leadership is skilled at scoping out America’s trade policy, cutting separate deals with multinational corporations, buying influence, and besting Washington at trade negotiation. But how do you play chess when the other guy is playing a schoolyard game that he makes up as he goes along?

Bottom line: China was more vulnerable all along than America’s Wall Street-dominated trade elite was willing to believe, or act on. We might have had a trade policy that looked out for the interests of U.S. manufacturing and American workers—something that Trump’s approach does not deliver—and that did not risk starting a wider conflagration with Beijing, as Trump’s approach does.

But the last several American presidents were too compromised and too wedded to a preposterous, corporate conception of “free trade.” And so America rolled over.

We do need a resetting of the U.S.-China relationship, but a mortally wounded Chinese economy is in nobody’s interest. Yet Trump’s apparent success, flawed as it is, offers one more illustration of how the corruption of ruling U.S. elites created a vacuum that opened the door to Trumpism.

I disagree with the denigration of Trump’s tactics in the article. They strike me as the effect of a master negotiator on small minds, if these analysts were as great as they think they are, they wouldn’t be analysts – they’d be playing for real money, you know, like Trump did.

I’d also say that Trump has done more for the average American worker than anybody, since maybe Reagan, the multinational corporations, well maybe not so much. I can easily live with that, those corporations have done any of us any favors lately, either.

And this.

 Don Surber says that it looks quite different from a Chinese point of view:

To find the news, I read the South China Morning Post, which is worried spitless that the Red Chinese economy will tank like its stock market has.

(Its stocks overall have declined in value by 40% in the last three years. Our stocks are up 33% since we elected Trump. In the eight years from Obama’s election to Trump’s, the Dow rose by 33%.)

The newspaper is running a series of columns by panicked investors and experts.

Aidan Yao is senior emerging Asia economist at AXA Investment Managers.

Yao wrote, “China needs to put its house in order as the trade war goes from bad to worse.”

He pointed out, “In contrast with the progress seen in United States-European Union negotiations, there are no signs of trade talks resuming between the US and China since the breakdown of negotiations in June.”

Surber points out that China made $375 billion last year on exports to the U.S. So they have a lot more skin in the game than we do.

Xu Yimiao is an independent China-based researcher.

Xu wrote, “China should cut its losses in the trade war by conceding defeat to Donald Trump.”

He spared not Chairman Xi’s regime.

“Beijing’s strategy of a tit-for-tat retaliation over tariffs has clearly failed. In fact, this strategy escalated the conflict.”

Reporters Wendy Wu and Kristin Huang wrote, “Did China think Donald Trump was bluffing on trade? How Beijing got it wrong.”

This happens when your intelligence consists of spying on Dianne Feinstein and watching CNN.

Bwhaa-haa-haa! Looks like winning to me!

One of the commenters on Don Sarber’s article linked above, Iapetus, said this:

The genius of Trump is his ability to recognize and leverage the strengths of America, the very same attributes Obama considered to be our nation’s weaknesses. This is what you get when you elect a man of the world as your leader instead of a left-wing credentialed community organizer who had never organized squat.

I believe he is entirely correct. All life is negotiation, especially economic, and one must use one’s strengths to win, or at least break even.

Remember though, talks are just the beginning, even if a very good beginning to rolling back the Chinese threat to us all. It’s only a beginning, but it is a beginning, and that’s far more than any other President has gotten.

A Splendid Little (Trade) War

Well, does anyone really think that President Trump wants a trade war? He has been a free trader (whose business is dependent on the free flow of goods and services) for quite a while. But he’s also a skilled negotiator and knows that whatever you go into negotiations demanding, you’ll get less.

So he announced some fairly draconian tariffs on the EU, and all of a sudden, here is Junker, himself, in the White House making concessions.

But as Melissa MacKenzie points out here, Tariffs get people’s attention.

Maybe, though, President Trump has found a way to make tariffs work: pushing around the Europeans, who, by the way, did not agree to stop the tariffs against American imports. The only solid agreement that came out of today’s negotiations is that American wouldn’t impose further tariffs – for now.

Nice words

What the European Union had to say.

Not a bad start, and with amazing celerity. Not a few in Britain are a bit envious.

That is true, as is the fact that America has been becalmed for better than a decade, and wages have not gone up, forever, although everything else has. That is dependent on this and it is also dependent on stemming illegal immigration, which puts pressure on prices and suppresses wages as well.

If you are noticing the polls, illegal immigration is by far what Americans care about most.

Oh, and by the way, most of us could not care less about Russia, especially in refighting the last election. In fact, we think we made the right decision, and likely will do so again in 2020.

We like Winning! America First!

[And a note] Coming up fairly soon is the reimposition of sanctions on Iran. As I write this, The UK, France, and Germany are looking about for ways to evade them. Not sure I’d be all that sanguine about even steering close to the winds of evading American sanctions these days. Your countries are not too big to fail.

%d bloggers like this: