Monthly Archives: October 2018

Compassion, Caravans and Common Sense

caravan, Honduras, Donald TrumpAt the moment, in the south of Mexico, there are about 5000 people walking, bussing and being given lifts so that they can reach the American border in time to create really brilliant pre-election footage of nasty white men acting on the orders of the Orange Ogre beating up, if not outright shooting, the veneer of women and children who act as the vanguard for the caravan.

This is pretty clearly an organized operation. The Hondurans did not all wake up a week ago and decide, spontanously, to march to America. Who funded the organization is an interesting question which will almost certainly not be answered before the human tide rolls in. And it actually doesn’t matter because the issue does not go away because it turns out that Soros or the Democratic National Committee provided the money.

Migration, mass or otherwise, is likely to be the dominant issue in the 21st century. And not just any sort of migration; the migration of desperately poor people to wealthier places. Whether they are sub-Saharan Africans, Middle Eastern Muslims or the masses of the Central American poor, the issue is going to remain the same: what do weathy nations owe the people of poorer nations, if anything.

Truth to tell, the US could let the entire caravan into the country, sort out the obvious criminals and other undesirables and let the rest stay without breaking a sweat. 5000 people is simply not enough to really matter in the grand scheme of the United States. (And this may very well be what Trump ends up doing as it has the best political optics assuming the caravan makes it to the US border.)

The trouble with that solution is that it would rather obviously create a huge incentive for more caravans to set out. While 5000 people would be a drop in the bucket, 50,000 would be a huge problem and 500,000 would be catastrophic. The dilemma is how to be compassionate without creating the conditions favouring more caravans.

Americans are tremendously generous people and they have a remarkable capacity to get things done quickly and effectively. One potentially reasonable solution would be to set up processing stations deep inside Mexico with accomodation, food and even cash incentives to bring the caravaners of the march and into a process which would treat their asylum claims seriously and legally. Logistically, setting up the first processing station a hundred miles ahead of the caravan would not be easy, but it would also not be the only station.

This sort of approach would require the permission and support of the Mexican government but that should be relatively easy to secure. It would also require a serious commitment on the part of the Trump administration to actually understand what is driving the migrants. Again, not impossible.

Politically, putting resources into a line of processing stations up to the American border designed to blunt the force of the caravan seems like a solution which all but the most partisan anti-Trumpers could get behind. It would also set the stage for the second element of a compassionate and common sense solution.

The way to stop caravans is to work towards eliminating the conditions from which they arise. The caravan’s organizers began the caravan in a desperately poor part of a violent and gang ridden very nearly failed state. Make Honduras Great Again sounds a bit facile but, if the US wants to reduce pressure on its borders, it needs successful states in Central and South America.

Sixty years of American foreign policy in Central and South America has not done a speck of good. (I suspect because of a combination of misguided support for assorted dictators and billions of dollars of exactly the wrong sort of foreign aid.) There are lots of good ways to improve conditions in Central and South America but they mainly involve private investment and a willingness to trade aggressively with those countries. Taking a second and a third look at the costs of the “war on drugs” would also be a good idea.

Previous administrations were largely unable to tackle these sorts of iniatives if only because they could not think much outside the “foreign aid/”stable” government” box. Trump does not even know there is such a box.

Making progress in Central and South America using a new model which combined private investment with trade and provided support to the governments as they dealt with their gang problems would take time. But it would also provide Trump with a political theme above and beyond “Keep America Great” for the 2020 election.

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

Cannabis Crunch

Cannabis, pot, marijuana, Canadian legalization of marijuanaI have been joking for a year that when Legalization Day arrives in BC we won’t notice any difference. I suspect that will be true tomorrow simply because very little of the infrastructure of legalized pot will be ready to go on Day 1.

The biggest difference will be that the people who will assemble to enjoy being able to smoke pot without the slightest chance of arrest (not that there is much chance of arrest now) will all be smoking illegal pot because there is, according to the Globe and Mail, exactly one fully licenced pot shop ready to go for Day 1. Plus there is and will remain a significant supply shortage as the various licenced growers ramp up the production of their “biological assets”.

The great error of the Canadian marijuana advocates was to accept “legalization” rather than demanding “decriminalization”. This has doomed Canada to repeat the American experience of creating a heavily regulated cannabis industry with so called “seed to sale” product tracking, licenced pot shops, provincial wholesale monopolies and all manner of other state intrusions. The layers of regulation might even suggest that the idea that pot is harmless does not reflect the Liberals’ actual thinking.

At the same time, the personal grow show exemption allowing the cultivation of up to four plants for personal use is going to hole the great barge of regulation under the waterline. It will not take all that many people growing to provide an abundant, unregulated, supply of potlatch pot. The potlatch element comes from the fact you cannot sell your crop, but you can give it away. A mildly competent grower – and there are plenty out there – should be able to grow a pound of pot per plant. An ambitious grower should be able to harvest 3 or 4 times per year. A pound is roughly 450 grams and if you think about that at the notional rate of $10 a gram, that is $18,000 worth of untaxed pot every quarter.

There is no question that home grows in closets will be a thing, the only question is how big a thing.

At the moment there are some very big companies involved in the cannabis business in Canada. Companies whose market caps are several times the estimated size of the Canadian retail recreational marijuana market. There are also plenty of large scale growers who have not jumped through the Health Canada regulatory hoops. There will be pressure on the federal and provincial governments to enforce the seed to sale regulation of legal pot. But there will be market pressure to ignore the regulatory scheme from pot activists, “independent growers” and, I suspect, urban and rural First Nations who have no particular stake in the regulatory scheme. Just as I can drive three miles from my home and buy fireworks on a nearby reserve in defiance of municipal and provincial law, it would hardly be surprising to see excise stamp free marijuana for sale in those same locations.

Astoundingly, the legalization of marijuana is likely to be the only basic accomplishment of the first Trudeau government. The early indications are October 17 will be celebrated with clouds of illegal pot, regulatory chaos and a boost to the grey and black markets as police and Crown will no longer have even the threat of possession charges. A few months from now there will be the inevitable “oversupply” of recreational marijuana with the corresponding drop in wholesale and then retail prices. Which, in its turn, will collapse such tax windfalls which legal pot were promised to bring.

The chaos of the Canadian “legalization” of marijuana will take a year or so to really hit home. Just in time for the October 2019 federal election.

Tagged , , ,

Br. John

My friend Br. John is hitting a bit of a wall.

https://www.gofundme.com/suitable-accommodation

Br. John is the Pastor of a wee flock in Youbou, BC…no really and he is a good and kind man.

I had the great priviledge of conducting his congressional ordination. I fear my bishop’s mitre was at the dry cleaners.

Br. John is a great gift to the little community of Youbou. There are very few actually Christian people in this world and Br. John is one of them.

If you can, please help him out.

https://www.gofundme.com/suitable-accommodation

Br. John and a parishioner.

 

Tagged

The Coming Trump Majority

For assorted Establishment/elite commentators the fact that Trump is still President is as astonishing as it is annoying. The 25th Amendment, impeachment, Mueller or simply the complete breakdown of the Administration were all more likely than Trump having a week like he had last week. Trade deal, Kavanaugh confirmation, lowest unemployment in 60 or is it 70 years: this can’t be happening but it is.

There are less than 30 days until the mid-term elections for all of the House of Representatives and about a third of the Senate. The MSM, the Establishment commentators and “nice people” generally are talking up “the Blue Wave” where university educated suburban women will rise as one and toss the orange ogre onto the scrap heap of history where he so obviously belongs. Then, with a majority in the House of Representatives, the Democrats will be able to launch impeachment, conduct investigations and ensure the evil which is Trump will be sent to the Senate for a speedy impeachment trial and conviction. All will be right with the world.

The nice suburban ladies, the establishment media and right thinking people everywhere are, I am afraid, going to be in for a bit of a shock.

There is a chance that one or two Republican Senators may be defeated by Democrats, but there is a much better chance that those Republican Senate seats will hold and two or three sitting Democratic Senators will be defeated leaving the Senate at 53-56 Republicans and Trump entirely safe from conviction in a purely political impeachment.

The House is a tougher call. Hundreds of local races, lots of gerrymandering from both sides, polling all over the place with tiny sample sizes and often skewed questions. At the moment the Republicans hold 235 seats, the Democrats 193 seats and there are seven vacancies. That’s a margin of 43 seats so the “Blue Wave” has to take 22 to hold a tiny majority.

Conventional wisdom says that mid-term elections tend to result in a swing away from the sitting President’s party and that alone brings that 22 seat swing inside the realm of possibility. Add to that the President’s unpopularity…but wait, it turns out Trump is not particularly unpopular.

“The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-seven per cent (47%) disapprove.” link

(And for my lefty friends yelling, “But it is Rasmussen.” I note that Rasmussen was a whole lot closer to predicting Trump’s win over Hilly than virtually any other poll.)

However, politics is more than just day to day polling results. It is about momentum, engagement, enthusiasm and the “mood” of the electorate.

Kavanaugh was a huge win for Trump because Trump got the job done and because the Democrats were revealled as a bitter, nasty, bunch of people who were willing to stoop to anything to cling to some sort of power. Even Republican “never Trumpers” were forced to admit that Trump was infinitely better than the Dianne Feinsteins of this world. The nomination and hearings also confirmed that the Hollywood/media/Democratic party nexus was shrill, irrational and really very unpleasant. And, as a bonus, the underhandedness of the Democrats and Trump’s willingness to stand by his nominee cemented the Republican Party behind Trump and behind itself.

Kavanaugh also underlined the collapse of the audience and moral authority of traditional media. There was not even a hint of objectivity in the coverage: Ford just had be telling the truth and if you questioned that you were enabling rape. Which would be fine coming from the mouths of activists, but coming from news anchors and commentators it made millions of essentially open-minded people question why they were watching “this crap”.

Trump understands the collapse of the MSM and uses it ruthlessly. He mocks the media, he tweets over their heads and, perhaps most importantly, he holds rally after rally.

There has never been a President who has been willing to do three to five public events a week, week after week, targetted at the battleground states. No, Trump is not going to do a rally in New York City or LA. Why would he? There are no seats to be won in either city. But he is willing to go out into the red states and rouse the base. He’s relentless. And at every rally he brings home his message of tax cuts, low unemployment, jobs, the return of manufacturing, fair trade, doing right by veterans, restoring America’s place in the world.

The Democrats have nothing to compare: though Bill and Hilly are, apparently, going on a stadium tour with the cheapest seats $60 and the better seats $600. Trump is practising retail politics on a wholesale level and he is simply getting better and better at it.

All which leads me to think there is a better than even chance that Trump will, at least, hold the House. But there is also a very good chance that the generic polling is wrong and that the Trump led Republicans are going to do a lot better than a hold.

The fact is that there are not actually all that many college educated, white, suburban women and those that there are will not vote as a solid block. The travesty of the Kavanaugh hearings and the sheer cynicism of the Democratic Senators – not to mention the cheesy grandstanding of Booker and Harris and the liar Blumenthal – will have alienated more than a few of the suburban ladies. Especially women who have sons.

There are also a lot of non-college educated, non-white, non-suburban people who are actually doing well with Trump. Black unemployment is at an all-time low, Hispanic unemployment is also at an all-time low. These groups historically are in the Democratic Party’s pocket but that can change. If it does change, even a little, there are dozens of Congressional seats which come into play.

Trump likes to win. He has solid political advisors and they like to win. It has occured to the Republican leadership that they do a lot better with Trump’s support than when they oppose him. It has occured to dozens of Republican candidates that Trump’s endorsement moves votes.

For a growing number of Americans, Trump’s policies are beginning to make sense. They have more money in their pocket and their kids have better prospects.

Walking into the mid-term polling station a lot of voters will ask themselves if they want to vote to derail the Trump train or if they want to climb on board.

You’d have to give me odds, but I would not be at all surprised to see the Republican majority in the House get up to 250 seats and, in the Senate, to 56. But, realistically, if that happens it will not be a Republican majority, it will be a Trump majority.

Tagged ,

Character meets The Furies

Furies

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Furies were female spirits of justice and vengeance. They were also called the Erinyes (angry ones). Known especially for pursuing people who had murdered family members, the Furies punished their victims by driving them mad. When not punishing wrongdoers on earth, they lived in the underworld and tortured the damned.

According to some stories, the Furies were sisters born from the blood of Uranus, the primaeval god of the sky, when he was wounded by his son Cronus*. In other stories, they were the children of Nyx(night). In either case, their primaeval origin set them apart from the other deities of the Greek and Roman pantheons.

Most tales mention three Furies: Allecto (endless), Tisiphone (punishment), and Megaera(jealous rage). Usually imagined as monstrous, foul-smelling hags, the sisters had bats’ wings, coal-black skin, and hair entwined with serpents. They carried torches, whips, and cups of venom with which to torment wrongdoers. The Furies could also appear as storm clouds or swarms of insects. http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Fi-Go/Furies.html#ixzz5TDlXW176

+++

My American friends have gone through a couple of weeks in which scurrilous accusations threatened to ruin a man. Today that man was sworn in as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The Furies have been defeated.

I have no idea what sort of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will be. Based on his record on the bench, I suspect he will be a bit less conservative than the liberals make him out to be. His Establishment credentials are impeccable and he is a good long way from the googly-eyed right.

For the Democrats, this rather staid man had to be the Devil himself. Apparently, the best way to rally the troops and the “Handmaidens” was to allege all manner of sexual impropriety. The evidence didn’t matter, the objective was smear and a smear which would motivate the democratic base. So, well, sex. Sexual assault. Frat bro behaviour. Drinking and such like.

It didn’t work.

Why it didn’t work is interesting because it came down to character. The character of Justice Kavanaugh and the character of President Donald Trump.

Kavanaugh was willing to stand up for himself, get angry, name names, and call out the Democratic smear. He showed the fight and the courage and the willingness to demand justice be done that I would hope any aspirant to the Supreme Court would have shown in the face of baseless allegations. He was willing to attack those baseless allegations and refute them as best he could.

Which showed real character and real grit. After all, Kavanaugh could have made it all go away by withdrawing his candidacy. Or he could have pretended to accept some or all of the allegations and provided an explanation. Instead, he stared down his Senatorial accusers and left them naked with their shabby accusations. He won his seat on the Court by refusing to play the scummy Democratic Party game.

However, the real show of character came from President Trump himself when he refused to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Court. Trump thought he’d picked the right guy and he stuck by him. He didn’t have to. He could have withdrawn the nomination and moved on to the next person on the list.

Not how Trump plays. Trump plays to win. Trump plays to crush his opposition and, because he does, Trump never plays by the patty cake rules of the Washington Establishment. Trump was roundly criticized for imitating and mocking Dr Ford. Not “how the game” is played and so on.

Trump’s great gift is that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass how “the game is played”. He’ll make fun of people he thinks are lying, of people who are hypocrites (yes, Sen. Blumenthal, you get mocked for your non-service) and people who pull political stunts like Sen. Feinstein. He is not “Presidential” in any of the accepted senses of that term. My American friends elected a street fighter and Trump knows it.

Coming up to the mid-terms Trump is doing 3-4 MAGA rallies a week in states where the Republicans can win or hold Senate and House seats. No President has ever done that. 10,000 people in the room, 10-15,000 outside. Day after day, week after week.

In themselves, Trump’s rallies would probably hold the Senate and might, at a stretch, keep the House. But with the Kavanaugh win, the momentum has shifted. With the crazed anti-Kavanaugh harpies shouting down the Senate, Trump has his theme. “Elect them, you get this.”

Most fundamentally, Trump is underscoring a very serious point about American politics. Stand up guys can win. Simply by demonstrating their character, their resilience, their willingness to be truthful and forceful on their own behalf, stand up guys can win.

The “Resistance” is crumbling. Its Furies have been unleashed, its flying monkeys unchained, and they just bounced off.

I suspect Trump will be exploding more bombs over the next month. The October Surprises will all be coming from the White House. Trump’s character demands a denouement. A reckoning with what he is referring to as the “radical Democrats”. The looney women who were screaming in the Senate galleries, the deceitful Democratic Senators, the increasingly crazed mainstream media are all feeding into the season finale of Year 2 of the Trump Show. How will the viewers respond? Who will get voted off the island?

Thirty days from now we will know; but right now we know that Trump has given Republican Senators backbones, the Supreme Court an eminently qualified Justice and assorted celebrities, blue check media and whackadoo feminists, aneurysms.

It’s a good thing.

Tagged ,
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: