Giving Thanks, National Review Style

Reuters photo: Carlos Barria

Interesting article the other day from the ‘Never Trumpers’ at National Review. Apparently, they managed a dose of reality! Enjoy!

This Thanksgiving, Americans in general — and free-market conservatives in particular — have plenty for which to be grateful. And much of it would be absent had the White House’s current occupant not become president on November 8, 2016.

The day after Donald J. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, Princeton University economist Paul Krugman called Trump’s victory “the mother of all adverse effects.” He predicted “very probably . . . a global recession, with no end in sight.”

• The Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 all hit record highs on Tuesday. The Wilshire 5000 Index calculates that some $3.4 trillion in new wealth has been created since President Trump’s inauguration and $5.4 trillion since his election. Fueled by the reality of deregulation, expectations of lower taxes, and a new tone in Washington that applauds free enterprise rather than excoriate it, the economy is on fire.

• Atop the second quarter’s 3.1 percent increase in real GDP, and 3.0 in 3Q, the New York Federal Reserve Bank predicts that 4Q output will expand by 3.8 percent. This far outpaces the feeble average-annual GDP growth rate of 1.5 percent on President Obama’s watch. Meanwhile, the IMF expects global GDP to rise by 3.5 percent this year. So much for a Trump-inspired “global recession.”

• Unemployment is at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. New unemployment claims in September were at their most modest since 1974. Goldman Sachs on November 20 “lowered our unemployment rate forecast to 3.7 percent by end-2018 and 3.5 percent by end-2019.” According to the Wall Street powerhouse’s chief economist Jan Hatzius, “Such a scenario would take the U.S. labor market into territory almost never seen outside of a major wartime mobilization.”

• American companies have been expanding operations here rather than shipping jobs overseas. Corning, for instance, announced a $500 million investment in new U.S. production, launching 1,000 positions.

• Foreign firms have been unveiling facilities and creating jobs in America. Insourcing is now a thing. Taiwan’s Foxconn will spend $10 billion on a new Wisconsin electronics plant with 3,000 new employees. During Trump’s recent visit to China, Beijing agreed to invest $84 billionin new energy projects in West Virginia.

• If the Senate cooperates, Santa Claus will deliver $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, including a dream-come-true 43 percent reduction in corporate taxes, from a 35 percent rate to 20 percent, well below the global average of 22.5 percent. This major blow for international competitiveness should turbocharge the economy even further.

• Obamacare remains alive, alas, largely due to the flaccid leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R., Ky.) and his inability to control a handful of Republican prima donnas. (As of November 2, the House had passed 394 bills; 308 of them — 78 percent — are moldering in McConnell’s inbox.) However, the GOP may make Obamacare voluntary. Junking the individual mandate will emancipate Americans from this unprecedented attack on our freedom and, as an added bonus, make $318 billion available for deeper tax cuts.

• U.S. energy production is on the upswing. After languishing under Obama, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines are under construction. Jobs to be created: 42,000.

• Obama’s War on Coal is gone with the wind.

• Trump wisely extricated America from the bogus Paris “global-warming” deal.

• Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” a $993 billion act of economic self-sabotage, now rots — with Communism — atop the ash heap of history.

• For every new regulation that Trump has imposed, 16 have been erased.

• The FCC has begun to dismantle Obama’s “Net Neutrality” takeover of the Internet, which functioned marvelously, thank you, before his needless e-power-grab.

• Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is on the bench, along with 13 constitutionalist lower-court judges. At this stage in Obama’s presidency, the Senate had confirmed just seven of his district- and circuit-court nominees.

And more, much more. Nice to see it put together, and even nicer to see it in NR, which has spent most of the last year denying reality. There are going to be problems, but these kinds of problems, well, I’d always preferred dealing with problems caused by success rather than those that one gets when one shoots himself in the foot.

Have a Good Sunday!

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Projecting Power: American Style

Carrier Strike Group, the very name is an expression of American power. They are free range expressions of America wherever they go. More powerful in and of themselves than any other nations’ navy, and more powerful than most countries. No wonder America’s friends love them, and America’s enemies loathe them, but rarely can do anything about them. Tom Rogan talked about this in the Washington Examiner a while back.

Why are American aircraft carriers so useful to policymakers?

Because a Carrier Strike Groups offers two opportunities: diplomatic messaging and military destruction.

In diplomatic terms, the arrival of a CSG offshore signals either commitment or threat.

Foreign governments recognize the high logistical, economic, and human costs of a CSG visit to their waters. Correspondingly, when a CSG turns up, an allied nation is able to see and feel that America values them. But a CSG also reminds allies that their relationship with America is valuable. After all, when an aircraft carrier arrives with its complement of cruisers, destroyers, and submarines, American power is hard to ignore.

The U.S. Navy recognizes and doubles down on this perception, throwing parties for local leaders while at port. The simple point is that the pure size and technical capability of American aircraft carriers speaks to power. If Hollywood sends the message that America is cool, CSGs send the message that America is better as a friend than as an enemy.

On that point, a CSG’s threat messaging power is also obvious. For a start, the aircraft that make up each CSG’s Carrier Air Wings (the aircraft squadrons on a carrier) are very potent. Embarked on each CSG are at least 40 F-18 E/F fighter-bombers, an electronic warfare squadron of EA-18 Growlers (F-18 variants tasked to disrupt enemy communications, tracking, and targeting), an AWACS radar squadron of 4 or 5 Hawkeyes, and passenger transport planes. Oh, and each CSG also has around 20 helicopters tasked with anti-submarine warfare, combat search and rescue, and logistics.

To be clear, those aircraft offer a power projection capability unmatched by any other Navy.

But that’s just the start. Because the other ships in a CSG also have their own power. A CSG’s destroyer squadron and guided missile cruisers can shoot down enemy missiles (including ballistic missiles) and jets, destroy enemy ships and hit targets on land. And lurking below the surface is at least one (normally two) attack submarines.

Collectively, these capabilities enable a CSG to operate in a simultaneous defensive and offensive posture.

What they do is power projection and deterrence. They are the final visible arbiter of what the United States will allow you to get away with. We’ve talked about this before, of course. American power, like British before it, nearly always acts to ensure free trade, under rules but essentially allowed. I talked about it here. There I said this:

And here, again from Wikipedia, is why it’s important:

From an economic and strategic perspective, the Strait of Malacca is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world.

The strait is the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, linking major Asian economies such as IndiaChinaJapan and South Korea. Over 50,000 (94,000?)vessels pass through the strait per year, carrying about one-quarter of the world’s traded goods including oil, Chinese manufactures, and Indonesian coffee.

About a quarter of all oil carried by sea passes through the strait, mainly from Persian Gulf suppliers to Asian markets such as China, Japan, and South Korea. In 2006, an estimated 15 million barrels per day (2,400,000 m3/d) were transported through the strait.

That’s a lot of oil, and a lot of it goes to our friends in the region, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

You’ve noticed that there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver there, that’s a problem for us. The carriers while immensely powerful (equal to most country’s air forces) need room to maneuver, when you’re sailing into the wind at 30 knots you can cover a lot of water. but it’s doable. They are also quite vulnerable if an enemy can get close, that’s what the rest of the battle group is about. This, incidentally, has been true of capital ships forever, battleships had vulnerabilities too, chiefly to aircraft and submarines.

Anyway, the Obama administration made a lot of noise a while back about a ‘Pivot to Asia” or something like that. That could make sense since they seem to be running away from our commitments in the Middle East. But that leaves the question, With what?

(I’m guessing most of you have read that article, it’s one of the top five posts here, all time. The answer to with what is Carrier Strike Group(s).

Three of these Groups are now either in the Indian Ocean or the Western Pacific. Why? The short answer is North Korea. The Nimitz (and its group) is transiting from the Indian Ocean and is expected to end up in the Western Pacific as well.

How it gets there is also significant. It will no doubt sail through the Strait of Malacca and between the Philippine Islands and China. This is the very area where China is sowing artificial island and making absurd claims of sovereignty. And so this move is a message not only to North Korea, but to Xi’s China as well. You would be wise to see our point, or we just might emphasize it in ways you won’t like.

In North Korea’s case, we just might emphasize our displeasure in ways that leaves the country a smoking ruin.

In other news, the United States Air Force has announced that the Eighth Air Force, based at Barksdale AFB, LA, is once again preparing its facilities, crews, and equipment for 24 hour ground alert. A practice that was pretty much discontinued in 1991, but is now once again necessary. Frances Fukuyama has not (as far as I know) commented.

 

 

The Unobama

In writing about the speech at the UN that is what Scott Johnson at PowerLine calls President Trump. I think he’s correct. There is as we all said, much to like in the speech, but other than ‘Rocketman’, there is little new. Most of the themes are classic American policy, and therefore not what Obama was selling. Obama was an aberration, a creation, mostly, I think, of our troubled race history, or rather how our race history is perceived by many, mostly to their benefit.

There is nothing revolutionary, or even unusual about this, for example:

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are: “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history. In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

That’s simple ground truth, although a lot of politicians likely would wish it otherwise. But its not, it’s who we are and who we have always been. So is this:

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

Or this

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.

Or especially this

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

There’s not much in any of that to gladden a Neo-con’s heart. I don’t see him going out into the world looking for a fight. But neither is he going to hide in the basement and wait for the UN. The image we all use so often is correct, “There is a new sheriff in town”. And his job is the restoration of the rule of law, and that is what he was elected to do. America is lucky (although we made that luck, with hard work), we don’t really need the world, we could get on pretty good all by ourselves. That’s not true for almost anybody else in the world, and that too is why America leads.

But in the final analysis (for now), John Wayne, as J.B. Books in The Shootist outlined proper American foreign policy as well as anyone.

I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them

I think President Trump understands that quite well.

In the Belly of the Beast

So President Trump spoke to UN General Assembly yesterday. It was very good to watch the world as they saw once again what an American president looks and sounds like. One of my favorites along this line, roughly quoting from memory, “I will do what is right and proper for America, first, and the rest of the world second, and I expect all leaders of countries to do the same.” In any case, here’s the speech.

There’s a lot to like here if you’re an American patriot or a friend of America, and I found almost nothing to dislike. From “Welcome to New York” to “Rocketman” and all the way through it was pretty much a speech that should make us proud that “We, the People” chose this man, against the advice of those who would mislead us to lead us. Do I agree with everything? In this speech, pretty much. Day to day, not so much, but that’s life. Like St. Peter, I’m sometimes a bit quick with the sword, sometimes a helping hand is more appropriate, but the sword must be kept at hand.

You’ll note that there is some bleating from the purveyors of fake news sometimes called ABC at the end. The main point I’ll make about it is this. Yes, war in Korea would be a horrible, expensive, bloody mess, and we should try very hard to avoid it. But a nuclear attack on the United States, Japan, and South Korea, would be far worse. Yes, our military would take, perhaps, many casualties, and you’ll find no stronger champion of the US soldier, sailor, marine, and airman than I am, but in the last analysis, that is their job, to protect the United States and our allies. They knew that when they signed up, almost all of them, by now, when the United States was already at war. That is a price that many of our men and women have been willing to pay, from Crispus Attucks on down. And that willingness is also why we admire them so, often calling them the best of us, because they are.

But we cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed because some people might die, all people die, someday. And any cause worth living for is also worth dying for. It’s wrong to throw away their lives for little reason, but it’s also wrong to be paralyzed by the fear of taking casualties.

Too often we (especially cossetted civilians) forget:

First: The Mission

Second: The People

In fact, sometimes the military itself forgets, especially in the press of events, and dealing with not enough people to do what needs doing. That is not to say our people (and their families) are not important. They are, critically so, but we cannot consider them more important than the mission, for without succeeding in the mission, their lives (and ours) are forfeit.

But for me, at least this speech marks the return of a recognizably American leadership, after an interregnum that was quite worrying on many levels, one of them well stated by General MacArthur, back in 1933, when he was Chief of Staff of the Army.

“The unfailing formula for production of morale is patriotism, selfrespect, discipline, and self–confidence within a military unit, joined with fair treatment and merited appreciation from without. It cannot be produced by pampering or coddling an army, and is not necessarily destroyed by hardship, danger, or even calamity. Though it can survive and develop in adversity that comes as an inescapable incident to service, it will quickly wither and die if soldiers come to believe themselves the victims of indifference or injustice on the part of their government, or of ignorance, personal ambition, or ineptitude on the part of their military leaders.”

Cans at the End of the Road, and Danegeld

Remind you of anything from the 30s?
From Fox News

Where do you kick the can when you reach the end of the road?

We’ve been appeasing Kim Jong-un and his predecessors, mostly in deference to China ever since the cessation of hostilities in 1953. But time grows short. It is one thing to pay Danegeld to a dictator that one can regard as a mosquito, simply a nuisance, but it is something else entirely when that nuisance becomes an existential threat to civilization. The thing about Danegeld is that the Dane never goes away, and often grows stronger on unearned income. That has happened here.

I understand that China thinks that it is unfair that the United States does not propose to allow a crazy clown that they supposedly control to threaten the United States. Well, tough. The United States will defend the homeland, it’s what we do, ask the Japanese. We will do it, however seems effective to us, whether it means imposing more sanctions, or turning North Korea into a sheet of glass. And that could include parts of China as well.

China has a binary decision here, they can be part of the problem, or they can be part of the solution. One has benefits, and the other has costs, and they could be quite high.

Gary Gindler writing at American Thinker has some unconventional ideas. Personally, I think they are a bit too far out of the box, but some of their components may not be.

It’s time for Trump to make an unconventional move – a move no one expects.

It is better not to increase the U.S. military potential in the region.  On the contrary, it is better to completely withdraw all American troops from both South Korea and Japan.

In fact, American troops need to be relocated not into the continental U.S., but to Taiwan.

This move by Trump will make China stop playing the role of an outside observer.  China will be faced with a choice – either China joins Trump on this issue, or she will never get back Taiwan, where the headquarters of the 7th U.S. Navy Fleet will now be located.

Of course, America’s allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, in the face of the withdrawal of U.S. troops, will quite justifiably demand new guarantees of protection from the U.S. government.  America should renew its lend-lease program from the Second World War and lease over to Japan and South Korea, for a term of 99 years, all the nuclear weapons they will ask for.  The military budgets of these countries will skyrocket.  China’s inaction toward the Fat Kim regime will lead to the fact that in addition, China will get two unfriendly nuclear powers armed to the teeth at her own border.

If Trump adds to this the ban on trade with all countries that have trade relations with North Korea, then China, with four fifths of its economy dependent on the U.S. market, will suffer the most.

Like I said, unconventional, maybe too much so, but maybe not. Remember the cold war was won in October of 1962 when the Russians turned the ships carrying missiles to Cuba around. This could work the same way. And it might not be an altogether bad thing to give the Chinese a fairly civil lesson in western manners, either. Just because they can make our gizmos cheaper, mostly because of their standard of living, does not mean they are our equals, we thought of those gizmos, after all, they didn’t.

There’s a point there, Americans tend to flexible thinking, it’s how we built this joint. When we start thinking rigidly and linearly, we are no better than the Sovs were, or the Romans, and if we keep it up, we will join them on the scrapheap of history.

Albert Einstein said,

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.

I think it’s time to change the rules.

Civic Virtue and the Republic

cicero-vice-virtue-liberty-justice-quoteOne of the Republican (as in Roman Republic) virtues which the US has exemplified is independence of spirit.  Men took responsibility for their actions; it was not unknown for senators to fall on their swords if they dishonoured their office. The ideal of the Roman world was Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (519 BC – 430 BC) (and the answer to the question is yes, it was named after him). When his son was convicted of a crime and absconded, Cincinnatus had to pay a huge fine and retired to his small farm. But when the State was threatened by the Volsci, the Senate called upon him to lead the State. He laid down his plough and returned to high office, which he discharged with great distinction; after victory was assured, he returned to his farm. In later life he returned once more and did great service; once again, he retired into private life. He became the beau ideal of the Patrician Roman. A man to whom service to the Res Publica – the common weal – was all.

Your American history has many such men, from the great George Washington, through Jefferson and Lincoln and into more modern times, a man like Eisenhower or Truman. These were men of almost Cincinnatan virtue. They were men who gave to the State and asked for little and ended by being loved by the people.  Has there been one such since Ike?  And if not, is that not a sign of something?

As America came onto the world stage, she did so as a Republic which disdained and distrusted Empire. Yet, did her defence of world freedom end by forcing her into imperial attitudes in some ways?  Should the USA have done what Cincinnatus did – retire back to its farm when it had saved the world?  But do men of power easily surrender it and its privileges?  I don’t recall Washington, Jefferson, Truman of Ike cashing in on their time in office; I can’t recall many recent presidents who haven’t once they retired.

A Republic is a difficult form of government because it depends on civic virtue; it needs men of power to restrain themselves as Cincinnatus did. For a Christian America that act of renunciation was perhaps easier, as it is part of the Christian message. That is not to say non-Christians cannot exercise civic virtue, but it is to say that the Judeo-Christian heritage provides a context in which such virtue is not just its own reward.

A large military costs. An interventionist foreign policy costs. The notion of empire in all its forms is corrupting of civic virtue, because you have to start off believing in your right to intervene in another country and tell its citizens what to do; you start with the belief in your own superiority. This corrupts. However much you do what you think it right for those other people, you are not them and you are assuming the right to tell them what to do in their own country. Well, if these people attack you, you have to attack them. But you don’t have to rebuild their country. You can help them, but they must do it for themselves – and that was the ‘white man’s burden’ about which Kipling spoke. But its problem was what it remains – that if you treat other people like children, they will not grow up, and you will find yourself with an expensive foster-child.

Has power and the temptations of empire corrupted the American Republic? I think there is a case for saying it has damaged it, but my faith in the instincts of a free people is stronger than my fear.

First Published by Jessica on May 10, 2013

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