Author Archives: R.D. Walker

A quote to ponder

The following quote is Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1830. Macaulay was British parliamentarian, Whig politician and historian. His writings were condemned by both Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler.

“It is not by the intermeddling of an omniscient and omnipotent State, but by the prudence and energy of the people, that England has hitherto been carried forward in civilization; and it is to the same prudence and the same energy that we now look with comfort and good hope. Our rulers will best promote the improvement of the nation by strictly confining themselves to their own legitimate duties, by leaving capital to find its most lucrative course, commodities their fair price, industry and intelligence their natural reward, idleness and folly their natural punishment, by maintaining peace, by defending property, by diminishing the price of law, and by observing strict economy in every department of the state. Let the Government do this: the People will assuredly do the rest.”

That is music to my ears.

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Notes from the White House Trade War

This report says that Peter Navarro and his team of economic muggles are losing the battle to control trade policy. That is very good news.

Trump’s key economic advisors are pitted against each other on trade policy, with senior advisor Steve Bannon and trade advisor Peter Navarro on one side and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and his staff on the other, according to FT. One official said there was “a fiery meeting” recently in the Oval Office.

The FT says that Navarro is losing clout and being sidelined in the White House. As a European official put it: “His influence seems to be diminishing quickly.”

Stay tuned.

Source.

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USMC nude photo sharing scandal spreads to all branches

It’s not just the Marines anymore.

The practice of sharing such photos goes beyond the Marine Corps and one Facebook group. Hundreds of nude photos of female service members from every military branch have been posted to an image-sharing message board that dates back to at least May. A source informed Business Insider of the site’s existence on Tuesday.

The site, called AnonIB, has a dedicated board for military personnel that features dozens of threaded conversations among men, many of whom ask for “wins” — naked photographs — of specific female service members, often identifying the women by name or where they are stationed.

The revelation comes on the heels of an explosive story published on Saturday by the journalist Thomas Brennan. He reported on a Facebook group called Marines United, which was home to approximately 30,000 members who were sharing nude photos of colleagues along with personal information and even encouragement of sexual assault.

So let me get this straight. This report seems to suggest that large groups of young men and women in their teens and twenties, when placed in close proximity, have a tendency to become hormone charged, sexually libertine and prone to engage in wanton jackassery.

Why, this is shocking. Who would have ever seen this coming?

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Obama’s brother wakes a sleeping dog

Barack Obama’s half-brother tweets an image of what would appear to be a Kenyan birth certificate for the ex-president.

That’s sure to get tongues wagging.

As I have said a hundred times before, even if he was born in Kenya, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that would preclude him from being president. The Constitution doesn’t define what ‘natural born citizen’ means as it pertains to the presidency. That said, under current law, if you are a citizen, you are either natural born or naturalized. Since Obama certainly isn’t naturalized, he is either natural born or not a citizen at all… and he is most certainly a citizen.

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The seen and the unseen of Trump’s economic policies

Trump’s domestic economic policies are really quite good. They promote economic growth, minimize regulatory burdens, reduce uncertainty and show due regard for the roles of the Congress and the States under the Constitution. I think these policies will have a very positive effect on the economy.

It is completely unclear to me why he and his team seem to believe that these solid principles are rendered void when an international border is introduced. They most certainly are not. The exact same principles that apply to domestic trade apply to foreign trade. Their blindness to this – a willful blindness in my opinion – is quite troubling.

Now, having said that, I suspect that his domestic economic policies will have a positive effect on the economy. Let’s call it +10

I fear, however, that his international economic policies will have a negative effect. Since the scope of international economics is smaller than domestic, the effect will be smaller. Let’s call the effect on the economy caused by his ill advised international policies is -5.

The net effect of his policies will be +5. The result of that +5 will be that people will see a positive and assume all of his policies are beneficial and they will point to what is seen, the +5, as proof. They will, however, be completely oblivious to what is unseen: Were his international policies as effective as his domestic policies, the net effect on the economy could have been +15.

In this way, the Trump’s failure in international economic policy will be framed as success and the wrong lessons will be learned.

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A Few Quotes to Ponder


“A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.” – George Washington

“The free market is not a system. It is not a policy dictated by anyone in particular. It is not something that Washington implements. It does not exist in any legislation, law, bill, regulation, or book. It is what you get when people act on their own, entirely without central direction, and with their own property, and within human associations of their own creation and in their own interest. It is the beauty that emerges in absence of control.” ― Jeffrey Tucker

“While liberals are in favor of any sexual activity engaged in by two consenting adults, when these consenting adults engage in trade or exchange, the liberals step in to harass, cripple, restrict, or prohibit that trade. And yet both the consenting sexual activity and the trade are similar expressions of liberty in action.” ― Murray N. Rothbard

“The free market punishes irresponsibility. Government rewards it.” ― Harry Browne

“A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas.” ― Victor Hugo

“Manufacturing and commercial monopolies owe their origin not to a tendency imminent in a capitalist economy but to governmental interventionist policy directed against free trade and laissez faire.” -Ludwig von Mises

“Free trade is not based on utility but on justice.” -Edmund Burke

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Marines deploy in Syria

These aren’t snake eating SF operators. These are conventional boots on the ground.

Marines from an amphibious task force have left their ships in the Middle East and deployed to Syria, establishing an outpost from which they can fire artillery guns in support of the fight to take back the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, defense officials said.

The deployment marks a new escalation in the U.S. war in Syria, and puts more conventional U.S. troops in the battle. Several hundred Special Operations troops have advised local forces there for months, but the Pentagon has mostly shied away from using conventional forces in Syria. The new mission comes as the Trump administration weighs a plan to take back Raqqa, the so-called capital of the Islamic State, that also includes more Special Operations troops and attack helicopters.

More here.

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Trump supports House health care plan; says it meets his guidelines

Here is Mr. Trump.

So we’re going to do something that’s great, and I’m proud to support the replacement plan, released by the House of Representatives and encouraged by members of both parties. I think really that we’re going to have something that’s going to be much more understood and much more popular than people can even imagine. It follows the guidelines I laid out in my congressional address — a plan that will lower costs, expand choices, increase competition, and ensure healthcare access for all Americans.

He also says if you like your current plan, you can keep your current plan. Your doctor too.

Some of the president’s supporters are less enthusiastic about the plan.

Meanwhile, back at the House, a group of conservative Republicans say it is just Obamacare-lite and, as such, refuse to support it in its current form. A group of more liberal Republicans has said it drops coverage for too many Americans and, thus, they refuse to support it.

I think it has a zero-point-zero chance of passing in its current form.

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Cato: “ObamaCare-Lite — Or Worse”

Unlike the president, the Cato Institute does not think it is a wonderful bill.

This bill is a train wreck waiting to happen.

The House leadership bill isn’t even a repeal bill. Not by a long shot. It would repeal far less of ObamaCare than the bill Republicans sent to President Obama one year ago. The ObamaCare regulations it retains are already causing insurance markets to collapse. It would allow that collapse to continue, and even accelerate the collapse. Republicans would then own whatever damage ObamaCare causes, such as when the law leaves seriously ill patients with no coverage at all. Congress would have to revisit ObamaCare again and again to address problems they failed to fix the first time around. ObamaCare would consume the rest of Congress’ and President Trump’s agenda. Delaying or dooming other priorities like tax reform, infrastructure spending, and Gorsuch. The fallout could dog Republicans all the way into 2018 and 2020, when it could lead to a Democratic wave election like the one we saw in 2008. Only then, Democrats won’t have ObamaCare on their mind but single-payer.

More here.

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How do you feel about Negan? (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

Does anybody here watch the Walking Dead? If you do, I have a question for you: How do you feel about Negan?

Do you 100 percent hate him and want to see him die?

Do you hate him but see why men like him would serve a purpose in that dystopian universe?

Do you admire him for his strength in creating the germ of a new world order?

Something else?

Discuss.

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Do you believe in a free lunch?

Here is the president…

Will this be all upside for Americans? Can there ever be gain without associated pain? Will we have to give something up in order to get lower cost pharmaceuticals? Will the American people all get our medications at a price that has “come way down” without paying for it in some other way?

Discuss.

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Is political violence in American streets new?

There seems to be some fear that political violence in America has reached new heights and is a harbinger of a greater conflict to come. Are political battles in the streets like we witnessed in Berkeley, California a new phenomenon? Have we entered a new phase in America?

Not even close. From about the 1890s though the 1930s political and labor violence in the streets of America was far worse than it is today and took the form of intimindation riots, murder and hundreds of deaths.

Buildings were burned, police were killed, the Army was often deployed.

To get a feel for this violence, here is an overview of violence in the streets in the 1930s.

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Obamacare by any other name?

Here is an overview of the details of the House Obamacare repeal bill.

How it resembles Obamacare:

    It still has pre-existing condition coverage.
    It still has a fully refundable tax credit to help people buy health insurance.
    It still has a small penalty if people don’t stay insured.
    It still has Medicaid expansion but puts per-capita limits in place.
    It still limits how much people must pay based on age.
    It still allows people to stay on Obamacare until 2020.
    It still phases out assistance for singles above $75K and families above $150K.

How it differs from Obamacare:

    It repeals all Obamacare taxes on high income taxpayers.
    It repeals cadillac insurance plan tax.
    It repeals all funding for Planned Parenthood.
    It repeals all limits on tax breaks for employer-sponsored health coverage.
    It repeals payments to insurers for cost-sharing reductions

Congressional conservatives are not happy.

Some House Freedom Caucus members dismissed the bill as creating a new “entitlement program” by offering health care tax credits to low-income Americans. A Republican Study Committee memo sent to chiefs of staff, obtained by POLITICO, echoed those comments and blasted the bill’s continuation of the Medicaid expansion for three years.

“This is Obamacare by a different form,” former Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told POLITICO. “They’re still keeping the taxes in place and Medicaid expansion, and they’re starting a new entitlement.”

Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat (R-Va.) piled on, telling POLITICO he’d vote against it in its current form because “the bill maintains many of the federal features including a new entitlement program as well as most of the insurance regulations.”

“Now [they] are saying we’re going to do repeal and replace but the bill does nothing of the sort,” he said. “[Speaker] Paul Ryan has always said the entire rationale for this bill is to bend the cost curve down, and so far I have seen no evidence that this bill will bring the cost curve down.”

That’s not to say, however, that the left approves of it…

The GOP’s Obamacare repeal plan is out–and it’s even worse than anyone expected

After weeks of expectations — actually, nearly seven years of expectations — House Republicans on Monday released their proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Elements of the proposal, which was kept under lock and key last week — have been dribbling out for a few days. The text of the bill encompassing the GOP plan validates much of that reporting. On the whole, however, it’s a nastier, more consumer-unfriendly proposal than even close followers could have expected.

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Meet Peter Navarro

From his Wikipedia entry.

President Trump’s chief trade advisor

In 2016, Navarro served as a policy advisor to the Donald Trump presidential campaign. On December 21, 2016, Navarro was selected by President-elect Donald Trump to head a newly created position, as director of the White House National Trade Council.

Fringe views

Navarro’s views on trade and China have been widely characterized by economists as fringe. University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers described them as far “outside the mainstream,” noting that “he endorses few of the key tenets of” the economics profession. Scott Sumner, the Ralph G. Hawtrey Chair of Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said that Navarro’s views on trade economics and macroeconomics, two sub-fields that Navarro has published no peer-reviewed research in, demonstrate basic errors and confused thinking. Harvard University economics professor Gregory Mankiw has said that Navarro makes the kind of mistakes that “even a freshman at the end of ec 10 knows.”

Navarro has, for instance, repeatedly characterized value-added taxes as a tariff, whereas Sumner notes that “this is a very basic error. International economists almost universally agree that a VAT is neutral with respect to trade.” A New Yorker reporter described Navarro’s views on trade and China as so radical “that, even with his assistance, I was unable to find another economist who fully agrees with them.” Tim Worstall, senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute, has described Navarro as “alarmingly ignorant about trade”. According to Worstall, the reason why there are no economists who support Navarro’s views is because he makes very basic errors about trade economics.

According to Richard Baldwin, Professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, Navarro’s economic plan for Trump reflects “astoundingly ignorant economics”.[26] Dan Ikenson, director of Cato’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, described Navarro’s views on trade as “misguided” and “dangerous”. The Economist magazine has described Navarro’s views on trade as “dodgy economics” and “fantasy”. Laurence Kotlikoff, Professor of Economics at Boston University, describes Navarro as starting, together with President Trump, a new school of economic thought — “Stupid Economics.”

Why did I post this? I just read an article on the Wall Street Journal about trade deficits that was the worst piece of economics ignorance I have ever read in that august newspaper. After I finished with that poorly reasoned, badly written hack job, I went back to see who was the economic muggle who wrote it. I was dismayed to see that it was the president’s chief advisor on trade.

What a nightmare.

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Concentrated benefit, distributed harm…

Johnson: Works in a steel mill in Ohio

Williams: Needs a new car in Alabama

Jones: Manufactures steel planters in Indiana

Jackson: Runs a pork packinghouse in Iowa

Government enforces steel tariffs. Price of steel in the US increases.

Johnson sees some job security and his plant hires a few. Net gain.

Williams, and everyone like him, pays more for their cars due to the increase in the cost of steel. Net loss.

Jones discovers the price elasticity of demand for steel planters means they won’t sell with a price increase. Plant shuts down. Employees laid off. Net Loss.

China responds with an increase in tariffs on American pork.

Jackson sees pork sales plummet. Packinghouse sees major swoon. Workers laid off. Net loss.

Similar scenarios hit hundreds of thousands of other Americans.

Trump: “Saving steel jobs is making America great again”.

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Major victory against ISIS in Iraq

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Wire Tap

So far there are accusations and counter accusations but not much evidence, let alone proof, either way.

Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway challenged FBI Director James Comey Sunday to reveal any information he might have about President Trump’s allegations that former President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“If Mr. Comey has something he’d like to say I’m sure we’re all willing to hear it,” Conway told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro in an interview on “Justice with Judge Jeanine.” “All I saw was a published news report. I didn’t see a statement from him. I don’t know what Mr. Comey knows.

“If he knows, of course he can issue a statement,” Conway said. “We know he’s not shy.”

Conway said Trump may know whether he was wiretapped because he receives different intelligence reports than other White House officials. However, she did not provide specific details.

Conway’s challenge of Comey came after the New York Times reported that the FBI director asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump’s assertion that he had been wiretapped. According to the paper, Comey argued that Trump’s claim falsely implied that the FBI had broken the law.

More here.

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Iraq not on new travel ban

Those with existing visas from other nations also excluded.

President Donald Trump will remove Iraq from a list of countries targeted in a U.S. travel ban when he is expected to sign a new executive order on Monday after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts, a White House source said.

The senior White House official said the new executive order would keep a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority nations – Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Iraq was taken off the list of countries in the original order, issued on Jan. 27, because the Iraqi government had imposed new vetting procedures, such as heightened visa screening and data sharing, and because of its work with the United States in countering Islamic State militants, the official said.

It would appear this order is better thought out than the first and designed to better withstand legal challenge.

More here.

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A Message from the President of the United States

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Quoting Ronald Reagan on Trade Deficits

This would be President Reagan from a press conference on September 17th, 1985.

Q. For the first time in 70 years, we have become a deficit nation—since 1914. Does this disturb you? Throughout your political life, you have decried deficit spending and our secondary posture in the world of trade. Do you have a solution for this?

The President. You used the word “deficit”; you mean our trade imbalance?

Q. Yes, the fact that we have become a debtor nation for the first time since 1914.

The President. Are we? I think this false impression that’s being given that a trade imbalance means debtor nation. This isn’t our government that is expending more than it is for imports than it is getting back in exports. These are the people of our country and the businesses and the corporations and the individual entrepreneurs.

On one hand, the American people are buying more than the American people are selling. Incidentally, those figures of export and import have some failings in them, some weak spots. They don’t include on exports anything that we’re getting back for services. There’s a lot of technical things I won’t get into, because they get too complicated here, about the difference in the two figures.

But let me point something out about this. The deficit that I’m concerned about, that is the most important, and that can be the biggest problem for us and that must be solved, is the deficit in Federal spending-here, our domestic spending. This is the threat to everything that we hold dear.

But the trade imbalance—from 1890—or 1790 to 1875, this country, all that 85 years, ran a trade imbalance. And in those years, we were becoming the great economic power that we are in the world today. Now, we come up to the present. And in the last 33 months, we have seen more than 8 million new jobs created.

Yes, we’ve lost since 1979 1.6 million jobs in manufacturing, but we’ve added 9 million new jobs in travel and service industries. We’ve had this great recovery; we’ve brought inflation down; the interest rate is coming down—all of these things that we want.

This recovery, the greatest one we’ve known in decades, has been done with this same trade imbalance. Now, in the 1930’s, in that depression that I mentioned earlier in my remarks, in that depression, 25-percent unemployment—the worst depression the world has ever known—we had a trade surplus every one of those 10 years until World War II ended the depression.

So, I think this has been exaggerated, and it isn’t a case of us being a debtor nation.

Another thing we don’t count is that from abroad, that is not counted in our export figures are the billions of dollars of foreign capital that has been invested in the United States, invested in our private industries, invested in our government bonds, if you will, things of this kind, because we are the best and safest investment in the world today.

That would be the polar opposite of the position of President Trump. They can’t both be correct. One of them is right and one of them is wrong. Which is it?

Discuss.

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Get your ash to church!

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7-in-10 said Trump’s speech boosted optimism

That is according to CNN!

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress received largely positive reviews from viewers, with 57% who tuned in saying they had a very positive reaction to the speech, according to a new CNN/ORC poll of speech-watchers.

Nearly 7-in-10 who watched said the President’s proposed policies would move the country in the right direction and almost two-thirds said the president has the right priorities for the country. Overall, about 7-in-10 said the speech made them feel more optimistic about the direction of the country.

That represents a major win and and advancement of the presidential image of Mr. Trump.

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POTUS Delays Trip to UK

It’s not worth the protests, it would seem.

Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK has reportedly been postponed due to fear of the huge public anger he would face were he to arrive in the country within the next few months.

Trump’s arrival had been scheduled for this June. However, the Sun newspaper reports that the White House has agreed to delay it until October in order to allow the row over his visit to “die down.”

“Trump still really wants to come this year, but he wants the heat to die down a bit first,” a government source told the paper.

Those who dislike both Trump and UK PM Theresa May are celebrating.

Vladimir Putin has made three state visits to the United Kingdom.

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Suckers. We are all suckers.

Every single one of us are suckers.

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson is pocketing six figures in workers compensation and disability from the federal government after being convicted in 2013 for illegally spending cash from his campaign committee.

Jackson Jr. is now pocketing $138,400 a year in workers compensation benefits and temporary disability, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The records, which were contained within documents for his divorce case, show that the former congressman receives $100,000 in tax-free workers compensation benefits. The rest of the money is coming from Social Security Disability insurance payments. Jackson is said to be receiving the funds because of his bipolar disorder and depression.

What are you doing fucking around on the Real Revo? Get back to work. How is Jesse going to get paid if you don’t work?

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What’s Trump’s endgame with the media?

There is no doubt that most of the American mainstream media has a left-center bias and is usually in opposition to the Trump Administration. Because of this, the president has taken to calling the media “the enemy of the people”. He says it is a great danger to our country and that it is evil.

So what is the Administration’s solution? Where does the battle between the Administration and the media go? Is the Trump Administration hoping the media can be cowed into submission and start self-censoring?

That is what happened in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey. In those somewhat illiberal democracies, the populist leaders endlessly criticized the media, directed government funded advertising to leadership-friendly media organizations and basically wore down the opposition media until where exhausted and began self-censoring. When the media backed off, opposition rallies diminished too.

Is this the model for the United States?

Discuss.

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