Nothing Of Consequence Happened In Helsinki, So Relax America

The summit meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin was touted to be a major event. It’s not often that the leaders of the US and Russia meet to discuss pressing issues. So with this in mind the media, Congress and many Americans were anticipating some dramatic announcements.

Anyone who’s observed the progress of similar high-level summits knows that nothing concrete is going to be accomplished after just a few hours of one on one conversation. The media creates great anticipation that usually falls short. The two world powers are diametrically opposed to each other on many fronts. It was just an opportunity for both men to talk face to face about situations that piss them off.

The world knows Putin is a megalomaniac and a liar who dreams every day about a resurgence of former Soviet dominance throughout the world. It was dashed when Ronald Reagan bankrupted the country in 1991. Putin was not about to cede a thing on any important issue without getting a pound of flesh.

For Trump is was all theatrics and high drama. He actually believes that Putin and Xi (of China) can be swayed by his charms and superior negotiating skills. The president has been disappointed by Xi relating to North Korea and will be similarly frustrated by Putin moving forward when the negotiators have difficulty finding common ground. But Trump carries two very big sticks, military might and economic power, that he will likely use when the time is right.

Just because Trump was solicitous of Putin doesn’t mean he’s a traitor. A political hack from the Obama administration used this word to describe the president. This shtick is vintage Trump. He kisses butt so long as his adversaries agree to do his bidding. When they resist, he attacks. In recent days the president has had falling-outs with several other world leaders who he previously called good friends, great states people and allies. Trump’s act starts sweetly and always ends in conflict, for the benefit of America.

I didn’t respond to the summit immediately because nothing important happened. The negotiators have a lot to talk about and to disagree on. Hopefully the meeting between Trump and Putin will eventually lead to some progress. What might it be?

Both leaders seem inclined to keep Israel out of the Syrian conflict. Netanyahu is not shy about attacking insurgents, rebels or partisans of Assad that approach his borders. The leaders discussed keeping warring parties away from Israel.

There will be no agreement about Syria. The Russians are supporting Assad, so he is going to stay in power. But it appears that Trump made a case to extract Iran from the conflict. Russia may agree to this in exchange for the US accepting Assad’s regime. It is shameful that a mass murderer like Assad will most probably survive. With Russian support this is likely to happen.

Trump has bludgeoned NATO members to increase their funding to the organization to negotiated levels. Putin indicated that NATO poses an existential threat to Russia, which is a total exaggeration. It’s really moot. If Russia decides to pick off another former SSR that has become a NATO member, Europe and the US would look the other way. Would they initiate a world war if Latvia were to be overrun by Russia? Hardly.

Putin is irate about US support of Ukraine, but he really can’t do anything about it. The country will likely be under total Russian control in a few more years despite the tepid efforts of the US to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Critics of Trump from the left, right and center are complaining that he is cozying up to Russia. They seem to forget that Trump has initiated harsh sanctions against Russia and many of it oligarchs for meddling in US elections and for other misdeeds.

Trump has proven yet again that he is unlike any past presidents. His news conference presentation was abominable in several regards that have been delineated without end by the press and others. But it really wasn’t harmful. He’s now saying that Russia was probably trying to influence our 2016 elections. Apparently a double negative in his speech tripped him up. And not supporting his own intelligence community was a dumb error and demoralizing to members of various agencies that spy for their country at great risk.

Personally I cringed every time Trump congratulated himself for doing a great job as president. It’s more meaningful when third parties laud a president’s performance. He’s just the worst orator and there’s nothing that’s going to change. And he craves adulation, which is difficult to come by these days in political circles.

No deals were made in Helsinki so we all need to take a deep breath. If Trump starts to give away freebies to the Russians (like Obama did with Iran’s nukes) we can all join together and object. I don’t think that’s going to happen, and I’m sure Trump and Putin will not be best buddies after all the negotiating has ended. Given that the countries possess 90% of all nukes in the world, it’s probably a good idea for these guys to find a way to work with each other. Nuclear disarmament might be a good place to begin this effort.

Trump Should Continue His Crusade To Decrease Trade Deficits

This past weekend I had a debate with a friend about President Trump’s efforts to improve trade agreements and decrease trade imbalances around the world.

I indicated that Trump’s aggressive attitude about unfair trade deals was justified. My friend said that abusive tariffs were imbedded in all trade agreements and the US was as culpable as any other country. I set out to find the real issues relating to trade.

What are trade deficits? Last year the US had a trade deficit of $568 billion according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the US Census Bureau. That means that the US purchased that much more goods than it sold in 2017.

Certain countries are able to manufacture products cheaper than other countries. This could be related to lower labor costs, energy, distribution and other selling expenses. If these advantages are abused and/or subsidized by a manufacturer’s country, it may be considered unfair trade competition.

The production of goods could move from one place to another for any number of reasons including the ones mentioned above. When this occurs the country that gains the production puts more people to work, while the country that loses production will suffer job loses.

In order to protect state owned enterprises, some countries impose tariffs on products that enter the country so they cannot not sell at a price lower than domestic producers. In fact the tariffs may cause the price to be substantially greater than domestic prices.

How does this all impact the US? The Economic Policy Institute said that “unfair trade deals have lowered the wages of US workers by displacing jobs and weakening the bargaining position of low and middle wage workers.”

President Obama indicated that free trade would lead to growing exports and job creation. Data after NAFTA in 2001 and KORUS in 2007 tell us that these deals stimulated more imports than exports for the US leading to staggering trade deficits.

Exacerbating the situation is that often, higher paying jobs move out of the country forcing workers to accept lower paying employment in other industries, or unemployment.

China has the largest trade imbalance with the US. Between 2001 and 2011 exports to China supported 538 thousand US jobs that paid, on average $872 per week. The growth of US imports from China between the same years displaced nearly 3.3 million US jobs that paid $1,021 per week.

Jobs in non-trade industries paid an average of $791 per week. This meant that those who lost jobs to China experienced a cut in pay if they were able to find new employment at all.

Overall the US trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2011 eliminated a staggering number of jobs. Total wages lost in 2011 alone were $37 billion. These numbers are a bit dated, but the deficit has continued to increase somewhat to the present.

What should Trump do to decrease the deficit and the impact it has on our economy and employment? Should he impose tariffs to protect domestic industries, or should he allow foreign countries to steal large chunks of our economy and countless jobs? The answer seems obvious. Trump should impose or threaten to impose tariffs to decrease the advantages of foreign manufacturers. At a minimum tariffs overseas should not exceed tariffs in the US.

 

Democrats Are Doing Everything Wrong To Attract Voters

It’s time someone called out Democrats. The current strategy of obstruction and criticism towards the president is bad for America. Their plans will denigrate their party even further during the midterm and presidential elections.

High expectations for a “blue wave” are a pipe dream. Democrats will not regain any ground this November because they have nothing to offer voters except twisted and exaggerated perspectives. The Democratic alliance with the liberal press has not served them well. Fox News and their affiliates have called out every misstep, fake news broadcast and mean-spirited effort by liberal politicians.

Let’s get specific. What are some of the most egregious actions by Democrats that will ultimately erode their power base in America? Here is a short list.

Democratic opposition to the nomination of Justice Bert Kavanaugh is moot. The legal community has been extraordinarily complimentary of this man’s intellectual acumen and dedication to the law. He is a strict constitutionalist, something that Democrats consider blasphemous.

There are three important issues regarding the nomination of Kavanaugh that should be noted. One is that Republicans can confirm Trump’s nominee with their current majority in the Senate. Two complicating factors are John McCain’s (R-AZ) absence (as he is battling cancer) and possible objections by two Republican senators, Susan Collins (R-MA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AL). The latter two are concerned that a conservative judge might support a reversal of Roe v. Wade. This concern is bogus. Most importantly Roe is embedded in our society and is protected by precedent. Stare decisis, the legal principle of determining points in litigation according to precedent, will make it virtually impossible for the Supreme Court to abrogate current law that protects a woman’s right to choose, no matter what Democrats say.

The second issue is that three Democrat senators, Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitcamp (D-ND) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) are running for reelection. Their states voted strongly for President Trump, and the pressure is on them to support the Kavanaugh nomination. Democratic leaders are suggesting they vote against the nominee even if it costs them their seats in the Senate. I think we all know how they will respond- just the way they responded with the Gorsuch confirmation.

The third issue is a conservative judge (Kennedy) will likely be replaced by another conservative judge (Kavanaugh). Democrats have been exaggerating the “liberal propensity” of Kennedy. In fact, he has supported conservatives on the court vigorously over the years.

Notwithstanding the fact that the deck is stacked against Democrats, they will scour all of Justice Kavanaugh’s decisions and his personal life to find dirt to discredit him. Americans should expect a disgusting and inappropriate grilling of a dedicated man of the law.

For weeks Democrats have been saying, over and over again, that the Trump administration is tearing children, who have entered the country illegally, away from their parents. Until a recent mandate issued by Trump, a law that was signed by Barack Obama required the aforementioned action. Trump’s mandate changed the process and children are being re-united with their parents at this moment.

Immigration policies are pitting members on both sides of the aisle against each other. There is great differentiation between the opposing factions. Democrats, apparently, want to open borders without extreme vetting to weed out criminals, sexual offenders, gang members and other undesirables. One must suppose that the opposition party will accept a new vote from just about anyone.

Exacerbating the situation is the formation of sanctuary states and cities. Politicians are spurning the law and immigration agents in an attempt to give illegals asylum. This is not how our immigration system is supposed to operate. Every year the US gives immigrants an opportunity to come to America and become citizens in several years if they are productive and follow the law. The system protects our borders and inspires the American dream. The tsunami of illegals stealing their way into the country is financially and culturally irresponsible.

Simply put, Republicans want orderly immigration in which every applicant is vetted to insure they will become productive and law-abiding citizens. To do less jeopardizes our country. The US should do everything possible, including building a wall to stop any further illegal immigration to occur. And Congress should begin to work on new policies to assimilate the 10-15 million illegals presently in the country.

Democrats should support Trump’s efforts to rein in Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea. It will be a harrowing journey to de-nuclearize the Korean peninsula, but it is better than having a madman launching missiles across the Pacific Ocean. The backbiting by Democrats is disgraceful. Criticism will be warranted if Trump gives away more than he receives from negotiations, just like Obama did with Iran. Trump must negotiate the end of North Korea’s nuclear aspirations. There is no compromise on this issue, so the US must continue to increase economic pressure on North Korea.

The Russian investigation has gone on for well over a year. Robert Mueller has done little during this time other than to indict a few unimportant political hacks. Even the indictment of General Flynn is being reconsidered. The Special Counsel and his brazen band of Trump-haters have searched far and wide for incriminating evidence and have found nothing. We know this because it would have been leaked if it existed.

Democrats are reiterating the importance of the investigation because it is embarrassing for the president. It’s a cheap political ploy that will backfire when the Special Counsel finally admits that his witch-hunt was a waste of time, money and energy.

It’s getting close to the midterm elections, and a last minute disclosure would result in another “Comey moment.” As a skeptic I find it difficult to believe that Mueller is not embarrassed he found nothing on Trump and is threatening every witness to find some dirt. I say set a time limit, after which Mueller must reveal what he has discovered.

“It’s still the economy stupid.” Republicans are not going to experience wholesale losses in the midterm elections if the economy continues to improve. The dream of a blue wave will not happen just like a Clinton victory did not happen in 2016.

Democrats led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters are encouraging violence against and public humiliation of conservatives. Really? Waters’ vision of democracy is one where there is only one political party, and all dissenters should be ridiculed. The outcry for this type of violence mongering is not American. When will Democrats throw out radicals like Waters?

Republicans lived through eight long and unproductive years with Obama in the White House. Very few wished bad things to happen to America when Obama was in control, even though many wanted to replace him. Real Americans don’t hope for bad times, they support the president.

It seems like many liberals I speak with hope for a recession or some other event that embarrasses our country. Even though Trump is not the kind of person I would choose to lead the country, I find it disgraceful that a sitting president is treated with such scorn and disrespect, especially since he is making progress in many areas.

The day of reckoning is at hand for Democrats. If they have a poor performance in November, there’s no telling what will happen to the party. For sure the current liberal leaders will take a fall. And Democrat prospects for victory in 2020 will be seriously impacted.

Family Values And The Problems Without Them

How important is family in the development of a balanced and productive child? Nearly all sociologists believe family values are critical to our society.

Like almost every species of animals, humans care for their young. If the relationship between parent and child is curtailed for any reason,  he or she will likely encounter serious disadvantages as they attempt to deal with the travails of everyday life.

The primary functions of parenthood include security, emotional support, nourishment and training. If a newborn human is torn away from its parents, anything is possible. But generally the child will likely struggle when it becomes an adult.

Society employs numerous methods to give an abandoned child an adequate upbringing. Orphanages provide security and nourishment, but not very much emotional and personal attention. Adoption and foster care sometimes works out well for children, but it’s often fraught with abuses of varying severity.

But, there is nothing like having a mom and dad to lean on when you’re young, and in many cases to advise you even after your reach adulthood. Extended families often fill in for parents that are unable to raise children by themselves. Everything from babysitting while parents work to actually taking responsibility for the rearing of the child are available in loving families.

In today’s world the role of a parent has been distorted in many settings. For instance families with only a single mom have become far too commonplace. How difficult is it for moms to provide the love, affection, training and security for their kids, when they are working hard to make ends meet without the assistance of a partner?

How pervasive is the decline in two-parent families, you may ask? Significant, as the 2016 US Census indicated that among 73.7 million children under 18, 69% live with two parents, while 23% live with one. Between 1960 and 2016 the percentage of families with two parents declined from 88% to 69%. During the same period children living with only one parent went from 8% to 23%.

One interesting question is: Do children from single parent homes perform at lower levels in school? There has been much debate on this issue. One sociologist said, “Research shows that children in single parent households score below children in two parent homes.” Another researcher said, “Very high rates of family fragmentation in the US are subtracting what very large numbers of students are learning in school and holding them back in other ways.”

Of course one-parent families are not all the same. Extended family members may support some of them, and some may benefit by high incomes. But generally one-parent families exist in lower socioeconomic circumstances, and most single parents do not have the energy to motivate children and/or teach them values and character that would improve all aspects of their lives.

The massive breakup of families from divorce and other problems also results in fewer educational successes. How can a busy single mom find the time to give her children adequate emotional support, motivation and the values and character traits that colleges think are so desirable?

Granted, scholarships are readily available for the needy students, especially those that have high academic performance. But convincing children that education is critical in improving one’s status and lifestyle could be daunting for a mom.

This compares to two-parent affluent families that work diligently to push their children towards academic achievement. How can a child of a single parent family ever compete for choice admissions to the best schools in this country?

This essay has focused only on one of the major issues confronting the growing number of single parent families in America. There are many more. Strong family ties, which appear to be ebbing over time, are necessary to bring out the best in our children. Therefore family stability should be a primary issue for the federal government and leaders across the country.