A Perfect Example of What Killed American Democracy

January 13, 2021

No sooner did I publish yesterday’s post, in which I blamed the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision in 2010 for the death of American democracy, when a perfect example of that emerged.

Before I get into that, I have a question for you. What do you know about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and your own local chapter? Is it a branch of the U.S. Commerce Department? Is its purpose to promote commerce in America? The name of the organization would lead you to believe that the answer to both of the latter questions is “yes.”

You’d be dead wrong. The Chamber of Commerce is a French-based organization whose sole mission is the promotion of “free” trade. (Check out this post from 2009 for an explanation of this fatally flawed economic theory and how it has devastated America’s economy.) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is that French organization’s American-based operation. Your local Chamber of Commerce reports to and funnels funds to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here, it’s worth noting that in 2019, France – a nation whose workers enjoy benefits American workers can only dream of – enjoyed a trade surplus with the U.S. of $19.9 billion, despite being arguably the least productive nation on earth.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its local chapters makes a show of lobbying in favor of American businesses when issues important to them arise like taxes, regulations, minimum wage, etc. However, the effect of all of those issues combined is trivial compared to the one trillion dollars per year of business that is robbed from them through the world’s trade surplus with the U.S. On that issue, I challenge anyone to show me one single instance in which the Chamber has spoken out against the trade deficit and in favor of changes to trade policy aimed at restoring a balance of trade. No Chamber of Commerce organization, not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or any one of its thousands of local chapters, has ever uttered a peep of protest about the U.S. trade deficit. The Chamber of Commerce masquerades as a pro-business lobby, all the while concealing the fact that it is working against American business on the one issue that dwarfs all others.

Thanks to the “Citizens United” decision by the Supreme Court, this French-based lobbying organization is considered to be an American “person” under the constitution. Its money – all the money collected in the form of membership fees from hundreds of thousands of American businesses that it strong-arms into joining its local chapters – is considered “free speech” which cannot be constrained under the 2nd amendment.

With all of that said, check out this article which appeared on Reuters yesterday. The CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce accuses Trump of undermining U.S. democracy. Scroll to the bottom of the article, and read this:

“… in a nod to Biden’s progressive agenda, he said lawmakers should fund “rapid training programs” to connect the unemployed with jobs in new sectors of the economy.

Donohue also said the Chamber will push for a new bill to boost legal immigration to help businesses deal with a shortage of workers.”

Pushing “training programs” is a classic pro-free trade gimmick used for decades to placate workers who have lost their jobs to off-shoring. And, incredibly, even in the midst of a pandemic when sixteen million Americans are unemployed, the Chamber has the audacity to suggest that we need to continue flooding the U.S. with immigrants “to help businesses deal with a shortage of workers.”

Earlier in the article, the Chamber CEO vows to cut off funding from Republicans who supported Trump. Is it Trump’s rhetoric that concerns him, or is it really the fact that Republicans began supporting Trump’s efforts at levying tariffs in an effort to fix our trade deficit?

This is a perfect example of the demise of our democracy. Our politicians are bought-and-paid-for by global corporations and foreign lobbying organizations. Your only choice is between two candidates who, on the most critical issues, take the exact same position – the position they’re paid to take. This isn’t democracy.


Capitol Building Riot: an attack on democracy? What democracy?

January 12, 2021

The democracy that our founding fathers envisioned, one where the people had the ability to choose our destiny by selecting from candidates with competing visions of how to improve our lives, has been gone for a long time. On the surface, that seems like a ridiculous statement, given how polarized our country is and how our candidates seem to be drifting toward the liberal and conservative extremes. However, exactly the opposite has happened. On the critical issues that have real impact on our standard of living, there is absolutely zero difference between the parties, while both use fringe issues to drive a wedge between us, making a show of offering a choice.

What are the critical issues? Two are chief among them – trade policy and immigration policy. Both parties have for decades been ardent supporters of “free” trade and open borders. Oh, they’ll each make a show of how they differ on minor details of how those policies are executed. The end result, however, is exactly the same – more jobs lost to globalist “free” trade policy, and more immigrants flooding the country to hold down wages for what jobs remain.

If there’s one issue that crosses party lines, it’s that Americans are nearly unanimous in opposition to the destruction of the manufacturing sector of our economy. Most everyone cringes when they look at the “made in China” or “made in Mexico” labels on everything we buy, and hate the fact that they can’t buy American. It’s a glaringly obvious opportunity for a candidate to win election in a landslide. Yet, at least until Trump came along, not a single candidate would touch the issue. Instead, Republicans and Democrats – the “Republicrat” party – told us, “too bad.” “Those jobs are gone forever.”

How the hell did this happen? I would argue that the demise of American democracy is rooted in a fatal flaw in our constitution. Back in the 18th century, when the Constitution was written and the U.S. was made up of only thirteen states, Article V of the Constitution, which spells out the procedure for amending it, may have seemed reasonable. It requires that a proposed amendment must first pass both houses of Congress by a two-thirds majority. Then it must be ratified by three-quarters of the states. In 1776, that was 10 states. Today it would require ratification by 38 states. In essence, it’s now impossible (and has been for a very long time) to amend the Constitution. That leaves it up to the Supreme Court to interpret how this antiquated document applies to the complicated issues of our modern times.

The very first words of the Constitution are “We the people … ” Seems pretty straightforward, right? Yet nothing has been more contentious than the meaning of the word “people.” It took a long time for it to be interpreted to include blacks and women, which now seems obvious. But what about corporations? They’re made up of people. Do corporations have the same rights as individual people? Click here for a good history of how the Supreme Court’s interpretation of that issue has evolved over the centuries.

It came to a head with the “Citizens United” decision in 2010. Click here for a good explanation of what that was and what it’s done to our democracy. This incredible decision gave corporations – even global corporations – all of the same rights as individuals. Even worse, it also equated money with speech. Now there are virtually no limits to how much corporations can spend to influence elections, because it would infringe on their right to free speech. Free speech is now a commodity, for sale to the highest bidder. Global corporations can run ads in the national media promoting their causes. You can’t because you can’t afford it. Your opinion has been priced out of the market.

To quote the above-linked American Promise web site: “… corporations, for which changes in regulatory policy may equate to billions of dollars’ difference to their bottom lines, have unique motivations to support or dispute policy and election outcomes, which may not align with the well-being of the American people. Indeed, corporate interests are often contrary to the interests of the general public, and studies find that elite interests are much more likely to be reflected in policy outcomes than those of the general public.”

With money comes influence. Who do you think wields more influence, a corporation who donates $100,000 to a campaign, or you with your $10 donation? You? Don’t make me laugh. The end result of all of this is that the candidates of both parties are literally bought and paid for by corporations. And corporations hedge their bets by donating to both candidates so that, regardless of who wins, the president and members of Congress are deeply indebted to them. You? They don’t give a rat’s ass about you! Your plight is irrelevant to them. You think your vote matters? Each candidate will tell you anything in the hopes of getting 50.1% of the vote. Once in office, you find out who they’re really working for. It’s not the American people.

If, somehow, a rogue candidate emerges who isn’t aligned with their globalist agenda, as Trump did, they kick their media campaign into high gear to destroy them. Easy to do, since they own the media. Freedom of the press? Gone. All employees of media companies do exactly what their bosses tell them and brainlessly read the script from their teleprompters. Facts are presented selectively to skew public opinion. Even “fact-checkers” are bought-and-paid-for employees of their corporate owners.

There’s actually little difference between our “democracy” and what masquerades as a democracy in other places, like Russia, for example. It’s a foregone conclusion that Putin will win election by something like 95% of the vote. In the U.S., it’s a foregone conclusion that the bought-and-paid-for Republicrat party will win. Which Republicrat candidate makes no difference.

For years I’ve been warning of the economic consequences of ever-worsening overpopulation – how it erodes employment and how trade with overpopulated nations accelerates the effects. For decades the world has been locked in an ever-escalating global war for jobs – jobs that have been steadily pirated from the American economy, facilitated by global organizations like the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and others – organizations to which the U.S. has gradually and foolishly been ceding control of its economy. The global war for jobs has intensified and finally arrived in America, where it’s had the most devastating effect, and has manifested itself in the riot at the Capitol building.

America’s democracy has been gutted through decades of misinterpretation of its constitution. Global corporations didn’t like it. No problem. Just change the definitions of words until the whole document is unintelligible. Corporations are now people. Money is speech. Hell, thanks to Bill Clinton, now we’re not even sure “… what the definition of the word ‘is’ is.” We can’t clarify the constitution to make it work again for the America people, because it’s impossible to amend. We can’t change the amendment process because, well, that would require an amendment.

I don’t know where we go from here. It’s hard to see how this can possibly turn out well.


Capitol Building Riot “Unthinkable?”

January 10, 2021

Many political pundits and people in the media have described the riot at the Capitol building on Wednesday as “unthinkable.” Was it “unthinkable?” Actually, it was “thought” a long time ago when the issues were different and, politically, the shoe was on the other foot. The “thought” was expressed in the following song lyrics. It’s eerie just how prophetic these lyrics seem today.

“Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’”

The Times They Are A-Changin’, Bob Dylan, 1963


Is the United States the stupidest nation on earth?

January 9, 2021

In light of the trade data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, it’s difficult to draw any other conclusion. In November the trade deficit worsened to a new record of $64.5 billion. Actually, the situation is much worse than that. Strip away the surplus in services, which are little more than paperwork transactions, and you’re left with trade in manufactured goods, where real jobs are won and lost. Look at this chart. I would say that it couldn’t get any worse if it weren’t for the fact that with each passing month, it does. The deficit in manufactured goods hovered at the record level of $82.5 billion set only two months ago. That’s an annualized deficit of one trillion dollars.

Think about this. We’re paying the rest of the world a trillion dollars per year, putting their citizens to work making all the things we could just as easily make ourselves while, at the same time, we have tens of millions of people out of work. In fact, we’re paying trillions of dollars per year to pay our own people not to work. And we keep doing everything we can – as fast as we can – to make the situation worse. Ten years ago, in the wake of our most recent economic disaster, part of the auto industry bail-out was to allow Fiat to scoop up the Chrysler corporation, giving yet another foreign brand (the worst on earth, in terms of quality) an entry into the U.S. market, making the challenge for American cars that much worse. Building on that mistake, last month, FCA (Fiat-Chrysler of America) joined forces with PSA (the French automaker Peugot) forming a new company called “Stellantis,” giving Peugot access to the American market and, in all likelihood, finally killing the Chrysler brand.

Now we’ve elected as president a man who has spent his entire adult life championing policies that have exacerbated this decades-long downward spiral of our trade picture and, consequently, our entire economy. What little progress has been made under Trump he has vowed to rapidly undo.

If this situation doesn’t make the United States the stupidest nation on earth, I don’t know what would. And we wonder why this nation has become so divided and how there could be those among us so angry and frustrated that they’d be willing to riot and attack the capitol building. Trump was accused of lying to the American people about the election being stolen. I’ve consistently voted for candidates over these many years who have promised to do something about our trade deficit, and every one of them lied to us. Trump is accused of having blood on his hands for his role in fomenting the capitol building riot. For his part, Biden should accept blame for his role in formulating policies over the decades that have stoked the anger we saw unleashed on Thursday.

I remain angry and deeply disappointed with Trump for allowing his style and ego to get in the way of the bigger mission of Making America Great Again. The American people can forgive gaffes and rookie mistakes (being a rookie to the political scene), but they just couldn’t take any more of the daily barrage of personal insults that had nothing to do with the mission he was elected to do. It’s just sad to see it end this way.

It’s hard to see any hope of things improving for the United States. It angers me and makes me sick to say that. Since writing Five Short Blasts years ago, I’ve tried to keep this forum apolitical and focus instead on trying to explain the unseen economic consequences of population growth, including the danger of trying to engage in free trade with badly overpopulated nations. Maybe that’s been a mistake. So I’ll now say this: for decades Americans have been getting economically slaughtered like a flock of chickens. It’s hard to see any hope of things improving when you elect the fox to run the henhouse.


Thoughts on Capitol Building Riots & Trump’s Presidency

January 7, 2021

I’m still trying to process my thoughts, which are still evolving, on the events of yesterday. But I’d be remiss to let too much time pass. I’m angry, saddened, disappointed, disillusioned and feeling just a little sense of hopelessness.

The media is laying the blame for the riot at the capitol building directly on Trump, on his refusal to accept his election defeat, his insistence that the election was rigged and should be over-turned, and his urging of the protesters to march on the capitol building. They’re right on all counts. Trump does have blood on his hands. They also point their fingers at Republicans in the house and senate for standing by these claims to the end.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. First of all, I blame Trump for losing the election. Had he followed through with his promise to “Make America Great Again,” the election wouldn’t have even been close. He did an excellent job of clamping down on our open borders, preserving jobs for American workers. He failed badly, however, in reducing our trade deficit and bringing manufacturing jobs back. In fact, the trade deficit exploded under his watch. Had he restored a balance of trade, the economy would have soared at a minimum of twice the rate of 3% growth he achieved – an improvement over the 2% growth rate (or less) under the Obama administration – but pitifully short of making America great again. Had he followed through on trade, he’d have won in a landslide and it might have been Biden complaining about a rigged election. Nothing frustrated me more about Trump than his failing on trade.

A rigged election? I don’t know, but it’s an easy claim to believe. From the moment the 2016 election was decided, Democrats and the media attacked Trump mercilously and relentlessly. Two years were wasted on the bogus Russia investigation, and then another year on the impeachment over the Ukrainian phone call and his request that they look into why the investigation of Hunter Biden’s role with the Ukrainian gas company was suddenly halted. (Many Americans would still like to know the answer to that one.) By this time it was clear that the Democrats and the media would stop at absolutely nothing to bring him down. A rigged election? Whether they actually rigged it or not, it’s not a stretch to believe that the Democrats would stoop that low.

If it wasn’t rigged (and I’m not saying it was for certain), it sure smelled rotten. I’ve lived through a lot of elections and have never seen one like it. It wasn’t unusual in past elections for vote counting to drag on into Wednesday in a really close election. However, in this election, vote counting dragged on for a week or even ten days. After a few days of everyone left wondering how it could possibly take days to count the last 5% of votes when the first 95% were counted in one night, the truth started to leak out. They weren’t “counting” votes, but tallying new ones that continued to trickle in days after the polls had closed. Worse yet, we learned that the delay was also due to a process of “ballot curing,” in which previously rejected ballots were fixed, supposedly by giving the voters a chance to correct problems with their signatures or other problems. You have to be pretty naive to believe that the activists who facilitated that process (who are almost universally Democrats) were fair enough to give Republican voters a chance to fix their ballots too. The end result was that those late-arriving ballots were almost unanimously for Biden/Harris, flipping the count in their favor. Counting and recounting those same ballots doesn’t answer the questions about whether they were cast legally in the first place.

Honestly, I wasn’t surprised at what happened yesterday. It wasn’t four years in the making. It’s been decades in the making as the standard of living of most Americans has steadily declined, especially among the middle class. Look at the people who made up the rioters. They were mostly young people. A few in their 40s. Maybe a few even older. Where did these people come from and how did they become so angry and frustrated?

I’ll tell you where they came from. These are the kids who sat across the table from their parents thirty years ago and looked on as their fathers and mothers wept and swore about the loss of their jobs to factory closures. They watched their families being torn apart by the financial strain. They experienced the same thing when they entered the work force, finding only low pay and few benefits. The globalists who engineered the destruction of our manufacturing sector saw nothing but dollar signs with no consequences. Now, however, those chickens have come home to roost.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for what took place yesterday. It wasn’t just Trump who has blood on his hands. The Democrats and media who scuttled him from the very beginning share some blame too. So too do decades of globalist corporate leaders and their bought-and-paid for politicians, both Democrat and Republican – what I call the “Republicrat” party.

I’m angry at Trump. Though the election was lost, the smart move would have been to use his considerable influence to continue to build support for the “MAGA” movement and fight another day, four years from now, either as candidate or supporting some other candidate willing to take on the mantle. Instead, he foolishly squandered it all in an effort to do only he knows what. Force Democrats to admit they cheated? Start a revolution? Who knows, but it was a truly dumb move. He’s tarnished his brand forever. He’ll never again have a role in influencing the direction of the country. He totally blew it.

In the wake of the riot, as senators reconvened in the capitol building and one-by-one rose to speak, nearly all denounced Trump and were ready to rejoin the globalist Republicrat party. Back to business as usual, selling out America to global interests.

That would be a mistake. As I said, this was a long time coming. It’s not likely to end here. What you saw yesterday was a disorganized mob that is no less fervent in their beliefs today than they were yesterday. What happens from here? Surely they can see that rioting will get them nowhere. What’s the difference between a mob and a political party? Leadership, organization, a strategy, fund-raising and suits – and little else. Someone amongst MAGA supporters needs to step up and take a leadership role. Maybe it’s some congressman or senator, or maybe just some supporter with real political savvy. Get organized. Lay out an America-first platform. Raise money. This could be the makings of a new political party that could quickly challenge the Repubicrats. This is what I pray happens.

It could go another way if politicians blow this off as a one-off, Trump-incited incident. All it takes is leadership, organization, a strategy, and fund-raising – pretty much the same as I outlined above – but substitute fatigues and camos for suits, and now you’ve got a revolution. Let’s all pray it never comes to that. The best way to avoid it is to take seriously those who have been so disenfranchised by globalism.

I’m not optimistic, though. America’s about to take a sharp left turn and return to its role as the world’s lap dog and sugar daddy.


The Driving Force Behind America’s Drift Toward Socialism

December 10, 2020

One clear message that emerged from the election as the Democratic Party suffered significant losses in the House – and even Democrats agree with the conclusion – is that Americans overwhelmingly loathe the notion of socialism taking root here. Though the number of true socialists amongst the Democrats is small, Republicans’ constant labeling of the whole party as such was effective. Americans want nothing to do with socialism.

However, there has been a slow drift toward socialism over the decades as one social safety net program after another has been added. The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated the trend with stimulus checks provided to all, unemployment bonus checks that make it signifcantly more lucrative to remain unemployed, eviction moratoriums and others. Socialists are now emboldened to demand more, things like universal minimum incomes provided by government, universal healthcare, college debt forgiveness and free college tuition among many other things.

Ask anyone about the cause of the drift toward socialism and most will blame the Democratic Party, home to a few hard-core socialists like “The Squad” in the House and many more progressives and liberals who don’t quite merit the socialist label. However, most people would be shocked to learn that Republicans and conservatives in general are just as culpable for the drift toward socialism, for both parties alike have fostered a policy that increasingly makes Americans dependent on the government nanny-state. I’m talking about the “free trade” policy that both parties have happily and eagerly embraced to the delight of their corporate benefactors.

America’s embrace of free trade, which began in the wake of World War II, has transformed us from the world’s richest economy and preeminent industrial power into the world’s skid row bum. How? Here’s how it works. Every dollar spent on an imported product is a dollar taken out of the economy. If not offset by a dollar spent on an American-made product by someone in a foreign country, then it’s a dollar lost from our economy forever, leaving us a dollar poorer and with one dollar’s worth of a manufacturing job gone.

The only way to make the economy whole again is for the government to put a dollar back into the economy. The only way it can do that is by selling a bond. To whom? To that foreign country where you spent that dollar on one of their goods. How does the dollar get put back into the economy? Through a government program: funding unemployment, welfare, health care for those who can’t afford it, etc. In essence, every dollar’s worth of our trade deficit is an investment by an American consumer in socialism.

Every dollar of our trade deficit further divides our society into the “have” and “have-not” classes as the erosion of the manufacturing sector of our economy worsens, driving people who once earned high wages and benefits into the unemployment line, where they have no hope of returning to the quality of life they once enjoyed. It’s only natural that this “have not” class of society would turn to socialism to make them whole again.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you understand the enormity of the problem. Last week, the Commerce Department released the trade data for the month of October. Our trade deficit for just that month was $63 billion. But that’s not the worst of it. That figure includes a surplus in “services,” much of which is nothing more than paperwork transactions. The real concern is goods – manufactured goods, to be precise – since that’s where the jobs are and that’s where a deficit does real damage to the economy. The deficit in manufactured goods in October was $81.3 billion, just shy of the record set only two months earlier. Annualized, that’s a deficit of $976 billion. And it’s rapidly getting worse. Here’s a chart of the data: https://petemurphy.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/manfd-goods-balance-of-trade.pdf.

Think about that. Almost a trillion dollars per year must be injected back into the economy by the government in the form of socialist programs. The United States has been running an ever-growing trade deficit for forty-four consecutive years, since our last trade surplus in 1976.

If America wants to avoid becoming a socialist country, it’s imperative that Americans wake up to the fact that it’s our enormous trade deficit that’s pushing us fast and hard in that direction. As long as the U.S. pursues “free trade,” the worse matters will get. History has shown that only the use of tariffs can assure that a balance of trade is maintained.


China Falls Short of “Phase 1” Goals Again in October

December 8, 2020

China signed the “Phase 1” trade deal with the U.S. in January, in return for the U.S. postponing a second round of tariffs on the remaining half of all Chinese exports to the U.S. China committed to meeting specific targets for imports of four classes of American goods for 2020 and 2021: manufactured goods, energy goods, agricultural goods and total goods.

The data for October was released on Friday and, once again, China has fallen far short of meeting its commitments. With only two months left in 2020, China is behind its commitment for manufactured goods by 30%. It’s behind in energy products by 64%. It’s behind in agriculture goods by 41%, and is behind in total goods by 35%. Here’s the year-to-date data: https://petemurphy.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/phase-1-china-trade-deal-2020-ytd.pdf.

Though China once again fell far short of its goal, it’s worth noting that they did increase their imports slightly. Most notably, for the 2nd month in a row, they exceeded the monthly goal for agriculture imports, making up a little lost ground toward meeting its 2020 commitment for that category of goods. Ten months into 2020, they are now 2 for 40 in terms of meeting its commitments (10 months times 4 categories of goods).

It’s also worth noting that China’s imports of American goods in October set a record of $14.7 billion, beating the old record of $13.6 billion set in December of 2017. However, that’s little cause for celebration because the goods trade deficit with China actually worsened to $30.1 billion, thanks to the 7th consecutive monthly increase in imports from China, which rose to $44.8 billion. The net result of the “Phase 1” deal is that our trade deficit with China has actually worsened in 2020.

Trump made the same mistake with the “Phase 1” deal that Obama made when he vowed to double U.S. exports to reduce our trade deficit. He focused on exports while ignoring imports. It’s impossible for the U.S. to export its way out of a trade deficit with a badly overpopulated nation with a bloated labor force that is dependent on manufacturing for export. When Trump’s focus was on the use of tariffs to reduce imports from China, we made significant progress in cutting our deficit. When he took additional tariffs off the table with the signing of the “Phase 1” deal, that progress was reversed.

It’s time to kill this dumb deal and levy more tariffs on China. If Trump won’t do it in his waning days, then Biden has an opportunity to show that he stands with American manufacturing and American workers. But he won’t.


Time has come to terminate “Phase 1” China trade deal and move forward with tariffs

November 14, 2020

At the time that he signed the “Phase 1” deal with China in January, I said that Trump was making a huge mistake.

Let’s back up to Trump’s inauguration three years earlier. Trump was elected to “Make America Great Again” and a huge part of that program was to bring down America’s trade deficit and bring our manufacturing jobs back home again. In his auguration speech, Trump noted the abandoned, decaying factories scattered like tombstones across the American landscape and said “it all stops right here and right now!”

To that end, Trump got off to a slow start. Proud of his deal-making ability that he demonstrated in the business world, he took the same approach toward trade. He spent two years negotiating a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement. The USMCA (United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement) that has replaced it only went into effect this past July. Though analysts predict it will be a net win for the United States, boosting manufacturing, the trade deficit with Mexico has tripled in the meantime and we’ve yet to see any change in business dealings with that country.

At the same time, China launched a charm offensive with Trump and it worked. Trump fell for their promises to boost imports from the U.S. When he realized he’d been snookered, Trump finally did what he should have done in the first place, slapping tariffs on some Chinese goods. He later boosted those tariffs to 25% and levied them against half of all Chinese products. Then, to get China to make a trade agreement with the U.S., the “Phase 1” deal, he threatened to levy the same tariffs against the remainder of all Chinese products.

Predictably, China agreed to make significant progress toward buying more American goods and, to his credit (and unlike deals made by previous administrations), he included specific goals and deadlines. However, just as predictably, China has made no effort whatsoever to comply. They’d already gotten what they wanted. No more tariffs, and they counted on Trump being no different than any president who preceded him – there’d be no follow-through or enforcement. So far, they were right.

Making America Great Again came to a screeching halt – at least the trade reform portion of it which, of course, is the biggest and most important part. It was a huge mistake. I warned at the time that Trump was risking vital support by stalling his agenda.

Trade results for the month of September were released by the Commerce Department on November 4th. Nine months into the year, China has come up way short once again. Here’s the data: https://petemurphy.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/phase-1-china-trade-deal-2020-ytd.pdf. China’s purchase of manufactured goods is up slightly, but still less than the 2017 baseline and 30% short of the goal for 2020. Their purchases of energy products are 65% short of the goal. Their purchases of agricultural products is 52% below the goal, and their purchase of total goods is 38% short of the 2020 goal.

The deal’s goals were divided into four categories of goods. Nine months have passed. That’s 36 opportunities that China has had to demonstrate a good faith effort to meet the goals. Their score? Nine months into the deal, they are 0 for 36. They are only 8 for 36 in terms of meeting the 2017 baseline. No coach of any team would keep his/her job with that kind of record. It’s time to fire this deal.

Trusting China to meet their commitments was a big mistake that stalled Trump’s trade agenda and likely cost him the badly needed votes in the election. However, it’s not too late. Trump could put the trade agenda back on track toward making America great once again by declaring China’s performance a failure, terminating the deal and imposing the tariffs that should have gone into effect a year ago. Leave the deal in place and Biden will pretend that it doesn’t even exist. Terminate the deal and Biden will face a dilemma: cave in to China and drop the tariffs and prove to all American workers that he cares nothing about their plight, or leave the tariffs in place, scoring a big win for Trump’s legacy.

This is a last chance for Trump to demonstrate his determination to “Make America Great Again.”


Reflections on Trump’s Presidency and the Election – Part 2

November 11, 2020

I closed my last post with the question: was this a rigged – legally rigged – election? Let’s begin with a look back at how the election unfolded.

Throughout the campaign, from the moment Biden won the nomination, polls consistently showed that Biden was ahead by a 10-12 point margin. That’s a big margin – discouraging for Trump supporters and stirring enthusiasm among encouraged Biden supporters. New polling data that continued to show Biden leading by that large margin was often the daily lead story across the whole spectrum of media. Did the media knowingly publish false polling data? Were the polling organizations providing the media with falsified data? It smacks of voter suppression.

I received my ballot sometime in September, if I recall correctly. I noticed that, for every race – from president to dog-catcher – the Democratic party candidate was listed first, followed by the Republican candidate, followed by the lesser party candidates – Green Party, Libertarian Party, etc. Why, I wondered? I found that curious. The parties weren’t in alphabetical order, since the Republican candidate would appear much further down, nor were they in alphabetical order by the candidates’ names. (Again, Trump would have been at the bottom of the ballot.) That had to be some kind of advantage – being listed first on the ballot – however small. There are those people who will simply check the first name they see.

I filled out the ballot and signed it. It occurred to me that my signature was no proof whatsoever that it was I who had filled out the ballot. I could have signed a blank ballot and sold it for a hundred bucks. If I was incapacitated in some way, my caregiver could have filled it out and instructed me to sign it.

I put the ballot in the official drop box at the township office weeks ahead of the election to be sure it arrived on time, and not wanting to get the ballot back two weeks after the election marked “insufficient postage.”

Election night finally arrived. As polling closed in the Eastern time zone, early results showed Biden winning by a wide margin. However, we were cautioned that these early results were skewed by mail-in ballots, which were the first to be counted, and mail-in ballots are heavily Democratic. Huh?

Sure enough, as in-person ballots were counted, Trump pulled into the lead, by substantial margins in some cases. I stayed up until midnight and finally went to bed happy, knowing that the “Make America Great” program was on track for another four years.

The next morning, I awoke to a new reality. Trump’s leads were nearly evaporated. The media commentators and analysts explained that the mail-in ballots were the last to be counted, and that mail-in ballots were heavily Democratic. Now I was totally confused. Last night they said they were the first ones counted!

As more ballots trickled in, Trump’s leads in Wisconsin and Michigan were flipped. Five states remained – Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. (Well, six, when you include Alaska.) In each case, 10-15% of the ballots remained uncounted. A day passed with virtually no update to the tallies. Another day passed. Nothing still. Something was beginning to smell fishy.

After a couple of days of this, we learned the truth about the delay. Ballots weren’t being counted, because there were no remaining ballots. The delay was simply a waiting game for more “expected” ballots to arrive. Then, more truth: in Georgia, there was a “ballot-curing” process underway, where activists were going door-to-door giving voters a chance to fix problems on ballots that had been rejected. (One can’t help being suspicious that they were also rounding up new ballots. It’d be easy to do. “Oh, Mrs. Jones, we also noticed that your husband didn’t return his ballot. Would you like to fill this one out now?”) We were assured it was all perfectly normal and legal, but it didn’t pass the smell test. It sure seemed for all the world that, once the vote tally was in after the polls closed and it was known how many more votes were needed to flip the results, Democratic party activists were given an opportunity to go out and round up the votes they needed. Maybe that’s not what happened, but it sure as hell smelled rotten.

And it was all legal. Some states did it right. Signatures on mail-in ballots had to be notarized to prove who filled them out. Ballots had to be received by the close of the polls to be counted. Florida is an example.

Other states, however, in their zeal to provide voters a safe option for voting during the Covid crisis, liberalized mail-in balloting with little or no regard for the integrity of the results. Your ballot might not arrive in time if mailed? No problem, we’ll give it 3 days, or a week, or 10 days to arrive after polls close. Don’t know how much postage to put on it? No problem. Don’t put any on it. It’ll get delivered anyway. That means it won’t have a postmark? No problem. We don’t care.

Like in Pennsylvania. No postmark was necessary. They could magically arrive up to ten days late and, unless it could be proven that they were submitted fraudulently after the polls had closed on election day, they were considered legal ballots.

Then we learned that, following a judge’s order for the post office to search for missing ballots, the post office simply rounded up 300,000 ballots and turned them in without scanning them, leaving them with no postmark to prove when they had been mailed.

As I write this, three states – Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina – are still rounding up ballots.

And can someone help me understand the rationale that says mail-in balloting is favored by a wide margin by Democrats over Republicans? That defies logic. There are no political factors involved. People would choose to use mail-in ballots for various reasons:

1. The voter may be out-of-town on polling day.

2. The voter may want to vote absentee just for the sake of convenience.

3. The voter may be a shut-in.

4. The voter may have wanted to avoid exposure to Covid.

None of these factors would cause more voters to favor one candidate over the other. The fact that the results from mail-in ballots differed from the results of in-person voting by a significant margin is clear evidence of some kind of malfeasance.

Then there’s the matter of the high percentage of mail-in ballots that were returned – reportedly 90% or more. Anyone who has ever done a mass mailing – no matter how important, how clearly the envelope is marked as containing important information, and how much the recipients have been advised of the importance of the mailing and to watch for its arrival – knows that you’re lucky to get a 75% response. The other 25% were never read, were tossed on a pile of mail, and buried the next day under a new pile of mail – all eventually to be thrown out. A 90% return rate is clear evidence that someone intervened to round up the missing ballots. Illegal? No, but when only certain demographics are targeted for such follow-up, it becomes an effective tool for legally “rigging” the election results, especially if it’s allowed after the close of the polls. Now that’s a plausible explanation of why mail-in ballots may have heavily favored Biden over Trump.

This is ridiculous. One can’t help being suspicious about an election process so lacking in controls but, then again, it’s all perfectly “legal” this year. It’s got to change if voters are to have any confidence in the integrity of our election process. State laws that allow such sloppy control over ballots need to be challenged all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. The shoe may very well be on the other foot in the next election.

Here’s what needs to be done to restore the integrity of and faith in our election process:

  1. Measures must be taken to assure that the person casting the ballot by mail is, in fact, the voter to whom the ballot was sent. Requiring notarized signatures is one way to accomplish that.
  2. Mail-in ballots must be received by the close of the polls on election day. Voters had PLENTY of time to mail those ballots well ahead of the election.
  3. The counting of mail-in ballots should begin when the polls open on election day and no results should be released until after polls.
  4. Organizations that publish polling data prior to the election should be held accountable and subject to fines and investigation if the election results fall outside their published margins of error.
  5. The publishing of exit polling data prior to the close of the polls on election day should be banned.

A “stolen” election? Maybe. It was easy enough to do it “legally.”


Reflections on Trump’s Presidency and the Election

November 10, 2020

I was never a fan of Trump before the 2016 election. As the Republican candidates began their campaigns for the primaries, I gave him zero chance of winning the nomination. He was too acerbic, mean-spirited, brash and bully-like – to the point of being self-destructive – for many voters to get behind his candidacy. However, as American workers and their families continued to reel from the economic damage wrought by the “Great Recession” of 2009, his “Make American Great Again” program caught on like wildfire.

Trump came right out and laid the blame for America’s problems squarely on those factors that every American knew was to blame – the factors that no other Republicrat would even utter for fear of alienating their global corporate benefactors: trade policy that had destroyed the manufacturing sector of our economy, and out-of-control immigration that was being used to keep our labor force in a constant state of over-supply in order to suppress wages. After decades of these policies that turned America – once the world’s preeminent industrial power and the richest nation in the world – into a skid row bum, begging the rest of the world to buy up our ever-growing mountain of debt, the American people were fed up and more than willing to overlook Trump’s issues in the hope of restoring America to the greatness we remembered.

From the outset, Trump faced challenges like no other. The proponents of globalism immediately kicked into overdrive in an effort to destroy him, cooking up a phony Russian influence narrative and then, when that didn’t work, impeaching him over the Ukrainian phone call without proving any “quid pro quo.” Beyond that, it took him a couple of years to weed out of his cabinet people who were supposedly the best in their field, but who proved to be nothing more than globalists bent on sabotaging his America First agenda.

In spite of all that, he made huge strides toward actually “Making America Great Again.” He cut both legal and illegal immigration dramatically. He got Mexico and Central American countries to cooperate in stopping the immigrant caravans. He made big cuts in quotas for refugees and H1-B visas (that steal jobs from Americans) and eliminated the “diversity” category of immigration altogether.

He got rid of the North American Free Trade Agreement and replaced it with an agreement designed to shift more production from Mexico back to the U.S. He slapped 25% tariffs on half of all Chinese imports, reducing the trade deficit with that country. He raised GDP growth above 3% and sent unemployment to record low levels while wages rose at their fastest pace ever.

He stood up to China. He got North Korea to halt their saber-rattling. He pulled us out of the horrible agreement with Iran that virtually guaranteed them a path to a nuclear weapon. He defeated ISIS. He forced NATO countries to begin paying their fair share of their defense costs. The rest of the world began treating us with respect again instead of playing us for fools and treating us like chumps.

He quickly pulled us out of the “Paris Climate Accord.” If you don’t see that as a positive thing, then I challenge you to tell me the mission statement of the Accord. You can’t do it, can you? I doubt that one person in a thousand – maybe one in a million – could tell me what it is. Most people think its mission is to protect the environment, to stop global warming through drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. You’d be very wrong and shocked to learn that its actual mission is to reinvigorate “sustainable development” – the very concept whose practice over the last four decades has led to climate change – focusing on development of third world countries using fossil fuel technology, and all paid for by the U.S.

He did a hell of a lot in spite of the push-back from Democrats and the media. So what went wrong? Sadly, Trump could never get out of his own way. As someone close to me said, “if he’d just kept his mouth shut and stayed off of Twitter, he’d have won the election easily.” Trump just couldn’t stop himself from making over-the-top attacks on anyone who disagreed with him. To vehemently disagree with opponents wasn’t enough for him. He had to destroy them. Voters elected him to put the globalist establishment in its place, but what he did to some people was beyond the pale. The best example I can think of is how he denigrated John McCain. There were many other examples.

And he was a poor communicator. He did a poor job of making Americans understand what he was accomplishing and how it’d make their lives better. Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord is a good example. Did you ever hear it explained to you as I did above? Instead, the media dictated the message, while Trump focused on trashing his enemies.

Then there was Covid. His initial approach was right on target, but he quickly grew impatient with its effect on the economy. He could have advocated for reopening the economy while doing everything we could to do it safely. Instead, he tried to minimize and even deny the problem. His approach resonated with a lot of people, but angered many more who are terrified of this disease.

Trump will soon be gone from the White House. But there are still a hell of a lot of people who fervently believe in the movement he started to “Make America Great Again.” There are three kinds of voters in America: those who believe America never stopped being great, those who believe that it’s not as great as it once was and needs to be made great again, and those who are fine with seeing America in decline. The biggest group, by far, is that group in the middle. The first group is in denial or detached from reality. The latter group is tiny, but very real and active, and a threat.

Trump started a movement that can and should live on, and will live on with any candidate or party that takes up its banner. Trump could play a huge role in keeping it alive, but that would require fundamental changes in his approach that I doubt he’s capable of. Maybe Mike Pence? Maybe Nikki Haley who did an outstanding job as Trump’s UN ambassador. Or maybe Mike Pompeo, his Secretary of State, who took no crap from any foreign country, to put it in coarse terms. It could even be a Democrat, if one were able to see its potential to restore the party’s image as the party of the working man. Biden? No.

Covid and the daily drumbeat of negativity from the media were a lot to overcome but, in the final analysis, Trump may have been his own worst enemy in his election defeat. Though he’s making a valiant effort to continue to fight with a myriad of court challenges, he won’t prevail. Few believe there was rampant fraud. I agree with those who say that every legal vote should be counted.

But was the election rigged? An election can be rigged through entirely legal means. Consider gerrymandering, the perfectly legal (in some states, not all) of redrawing congressional district boundaries to virtually assure that, once elected, it’s virtually impossible for the incumbent to be defeated. That’s rigging an election and it’s perfectly legal. It’s not a factor in the presidential election – at least not directly – but there are other ways to legally rig that election. I can’t help but have my suspicions. But this has gone on long enough for now. More on that in my next post.