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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Russian Hacking: Why it was good for the election


The Russians did us a favor by hacking into the DNC's servers. I say "the Russians," by the way, because while Fancy Bear may have done the hacking, we have zero evidence that the Russian government had anything to do with it. I repeat: zero evidence. We have suppositions. We have sneaking suspicions. We have rumors and opinions and fake news and out-of-context intel and... but we have no actual evidence. So let's just say "the Russians" and not concern ourselves with which specific Russians they were.

Still, we owe them a collective thank you. You see, all they did was give us information. Facts. They let us know what was going on. And that is bad... how again? So we elected Trump. Does anyone honestly think that leaked DNC emails are what made that happen? I think the Democrats are grasping at straws here. They want desperately to avoid confronting the reality of the election. Their policies and values were rejected by the American people.

They forgot we existed, here in "flyover country." They forgot we could and would vote in our self-interest. What is our self-interest? Coal mining. Factory jobs. Protectionism. Prosperity over hippie environmental overreaction. Less government control over our lives, forcing us to help celebrate behaviors that our faith tells us are abominable before God. We voted for the option that at least paid lip service to what we hold dear.

Do we actually believe that Trump believes in these things? I personally doubt it. However, when given a choice between someone who is vocally antagonistic toward our values and someone we suspect is tolerant of them at best, we'll vote for the latter.

Look at a district-by-district electoral map. Even in blue states, most of the map is red. The vote in blue states is dominated by one or two overpopulated urban centers. Who knows how many of the non-citizen residents there are voting? There's no way to tell, really, since those who register people to vote in get-out-the-Democrat-vote programs don't bother asking. All you need in any state is an ID, which non-citizens can freely obtain. While Democrats may dispute the impact of illegal voting and election fraud verbally, they have nothing against non-citizens voting in principle. To them, such voter fraud doesn't really count. How dare we suppress minority votes, after all?

The Russians may have influenced some swing voters, enough to tip the scales in Michigan and Ohio, although both of these rust-belt states need mining and factory jobs desperately. They let us know exactly with whom we were dealing. The RNC wasn't hacked. Why? Better security? Their candidate was less hostile toward Russia? Either way, so what? We knew of Trump's foibles. The media bellowed them out loudly and incessantly.

Thanks Fancy Bear. Thanks Vlad, if you were in any way involved. You helped us dodge a bullet. We owe you one.




Monday, December 19, 2016

My Advice for President-elect Trump


Donald Trump has a huge opportunity to effect dramatic change, both for the positive and the negative. He's an issue-by-issue pragmatist, not an ideologue, which is quite similar to my personal philosophy about policy. Like Edmund Burke said, you don't know if it's a good idea until you see how it works in the real world.

I have a few ideas for the new president (okay, he's not president until January 20, 2017, but still) that I'd like to submit. I doubt he will ever read these ideas--this blog isn't exactly widely-known--but I still enjoy having this forum to express them.

1. Build the wall! Do not allow the media or the Washington cultural establishment deter you from making this a reality. Congress already passed a bill authorizing its construction; no new law is needed. Indeed, failing to build the wall was a dereliction of the former president's duty to enforce and uphold the laws of the land. Congress can't complain or stop you. Funds from other agencies can be used so long as that agency is affected by illegal immigration. Department of Education funds can be used because illegal immigration has a negative effect on our schools. They have to spend a disproportionate amount of money on special services for these students, funds that could have been used to purchase better materials for students who are citizens or legal residents. HUD funds could be used because some Federal money is used to provide housing for illegal immigrants. There is no shortage of programs whose funds could be justifiably tapped to build a wall. Then, seizing remittances will force Mexico to pay for the wall, like it or not. However, we should not wait for Mexico to pony up to get started.

2. Get the Republican majority to ban filibusters in both houses of Congress. House and Senate rules can be changed, and have been quite often in the nation's history. Harry Reid restricted the Republicans' use of the filibuster during his tenure as majority leader. There is no reason that Republicans shouldn't do the same to Democrats. The Democrats would have done the same had they obtained a majority in the Senate. Then, using the majority in Congress, pass laws that should have been passed long ago. A series of legal definitions should be first and foremost on the docket: Marriage shall be defined in the United States of America as the legal union of one man and one woman, biologically defined; murder shall be defined as the deliberate taking of the life of a genetically-defined human that is not done with the purpose of defending the life of oneself or another human being; gender shall be defined biologically--if a person has a Y-chromosome, he is male, and if she has no Y-chromosome, she is female; the federal government shall not recognize other uses of the term gender. (In other words, people shall be identified in all government matters as being the sex and gender of their birth.)

How do we ensure that the Supreme Court will not overturn these definitions? Easy--Congress, according to the Constitution, has the right to define the jurisdiction of the federal courts. All that would be needed to defend this bill would be to add the line, "The federal courts shall have no jurisdiction regarding the contents of this bill." This power hasn't been used in living memory and might cause a Constitutional crisis, which is a good thing. We desperately need to check the power of a runaway federal judiciary.

A Republican Senate, House and President should have virtually a free hand in making over the country. By allowing filibusters that can be passed from person to person (instead of the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington variety, where one person has to speak until he just can't anymore), Republicans are creating artificial limits on their own efficacy.

3. Introduce a proportionate tariffs law. Many countries use tariffs or VAT taxes as protective measures against the effects of international trade. VAT taxes are added hypothetically to all products at each stage in the production process, but are waived for specific domestic companies. While not technically a tariff, it is effectively the same thing. Other nations either manipulate currency or simply tax imports enough to make it nigh impossible to sell American goods in their countries.

Taxes on imports need to be specific to both the goods being imported and the nations with which we do business. We want fruit out of season, so we don't tax apples from Chile, for example. (Although, come to think of it, there is a huge fruit-fly problem now that we import so much fruit.)  Trade deals do indeed need to be renegotiated, President-elect Trump, so please make sure we accomplish this, and quickly.

4. Go to a national sales tax system. Another way to deal with a trade imbalance is to level the playing field by making foreign firms pay the same taxes that our companies pay. How would we accomplish this? A national sales tax of ten-to-fifteen percent (depending on how the revenue estimates play out). The number can and should be adjusted in light of market conditions, but it would ensure that our companies do not relocate to avoid confiscatory tax rates. Since all goods or services would be subject to the tax, any foreign company doing business here would pay the same taxes. The income tax would, of course, have to be abolished. Nobody should be taxed on what they produce anyway. The labors of a man's two hands should be sacrosanct. Taxing consumption would encourage savings, investment and thrift. It would lead to more individuals seeking to better themselves without worrying that making another few thousand dollars a year would put them into a higher tax bracket. Businesses would have a zero percent tax rate until they made a sale. There are a host of other benefits, including the fact that a national sales tax would make all Americans invested in how funds are being spent since all of us would now be paying taxes.

Exemptions, of course, need to exist. Groceries, medicine and utilities like water and power should be exempt. Tuition, rent and mortgage payments below a certain threshold should also be exempt. Any home that sells for less than $200,000 should not be taxed, and buyers should only be taxed on what they pay above that amount. Rents should be tax-free up to $2,000 a month, after which the remainder should be taxable. The idea is tax things that are not absolutely necessary. A $200 pair of sneakers should be taxed, but maybe shoes $50 or less should go untaxed. If you want the latest pair of Nike shoes, the first $50 of the price will be tax-free. If you don't want to pay the tax, buy a less expensive pair of shoes. I'm wearing a pair of Nike's right now that cost $44.

The general principle would be that essentials (and no, fancy shoes are not an essential) should be tax free, but luxuries should be taxed. Essentially, people would choose how much tax to pay by choosing what they purchase. Foreign goods would be taxed at the exact same rate as domestic goods, so there would be no tax-related incentive to relocate offshore.

5. Build an arsenal of neutron bombs, and use them. Conventional nuclear bombs are dirty; they leave behind a residue of radioactivity that makes an area uninhabitable for a very long time. They also affect a huge area, causing a vast amount of collateral damage. For this reason, we haven't used one since we bombed Nagasaki in 1945. The stigma of nuking another country keeps us from ever doing so. Everyone knows this, so our nuclear arms instill no fear.

The neutron bomb is a much more limited and precise weapon. It has an effective radius of only five miles and does not leave behind a radioactive wasteland. Those subject to the blast die quickly, instead of living out a life of lingering illness. It is a much more merciful way to deal with problems, yet powerful enough to instill dread. Neutron bomb attack on ISIS-inhabited cities would certainly kill a good number of non-combatants, but normal bombing using conventional weaponry does the same thing. With a neutron bomb, we would accomplish in one hit what it would otherwise take months to do.

We need a nuclear deterrent that actually deters. Neutron bombs would accomplish this. We were fools to scrap the program in the 1980's. Once again, the hippies have made America less safe. When will we stop granting them any credibility whatsoever?

There are many other things that can and should be done to Make America Great Again, but these four would be a dramatic and very effective start. Just consider them. Leave a comment below to either add ideas or tell what you think about these.