#macron

What happens when you poke a Russian bear?

EDE6C915-0C4C-4067-9899-E88968C0D996.jpeg

As written earlier in the week, regardless of one’s views on the righteousness of any attack on Syria, Putin is being faced for the first time in a long time, a leader of a foreign nation (nations as it turns out) prepared to stand up to him. Obama fled the Syria battlefield after being given a two hour window when Russia first went to the aid of Assad. If that wasn’t the ultimate sign of a bully in the Kremlin it is hard to think of what is. While sanctions may have bitten to a degree post Ukraine and the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines flight, Syria is essentially a testing ground for Putin to weigh up Western (specifically Trump’s) resolve. If we look at Russia’s response post the Syrian strike,

The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard…A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences…All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris…Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.

Kind of says it all really – Russia hasn’t been insulted. Putin has. He must have a glass jaw  like Trump! Two bullies flexing muscle. In a show down Should Putin wish to pick a direct conventional fight against 3 nuclear powers (explicitly mentioned), he knows that ‘mutually assured destruction’ is the very last option in the drawer and next to no chance of being selected despite all of the media beat up. On a conventional basis, Putin wins more battles by stirring up the hornet’s nests in other regions. Lending more support to Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. Destabilize Saudi Arabia and antagonize Israel.

CM wrote,

It is worth nothing that Syria is Rosoboronexport’s (Russia’s military export wing) 2nd largest customer after Iran. Putin is sick of having the West try to remove his clients. Assad is key to Russia’s foothold in the Middle East. With an essentially pro-Iran Iraqi government and Syria as well as Hezbollah Putin has a geopolitical doormat from the troubled separatist states to Russia’s south to Lebanon.

Some arguments have been made about the risks of the American, French or UK strikes killing Russian troops or civilians on the ground in Syria handing Russia free will to attack its enemies. Scroll back to November 2015 when the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter it claimed entered its airspace. Two Russian pilots were killed in the shooting and subsequent rescue. The Russians were incensed but President Erdogan is still in power and Ankara isn’t flailing after seeing its capitol turned into smoldering rubble.

This argument that the Russians weren’t given advance warnings of the attack is ridiculous. Had the Russian defence forces been on proper alert (they most definitely weren’t passed out behind their radar screens after a vodka binge) they would have detected the missile launches. Wind back to the 59 missile launch earlier last year against Syrian chemical facilities. We didn’t hear a peep from Putin. Why now? Of course he is incensed over the booting of diplomats on the nerve agent scandal but this is a showdown of ego.

Think of the long geopolitical chess board here. Should Trump have backed down on Putin’s threats, wouldn’t China’s Xi feel equally empowered to annex Taiwan by telling POTUS that he risks ‘grave reprisals if he meddles with Chinese sovereign territory’?

For all the initial snubbing of Trump by Macron on his historic election win in France, there is no way he would have gone in alone to attack a chemical facility without the guarantee of the military might of America. It is unlikely Theresa May would have done it either. So for all of the ‘unhinged’ lunatic rhetoric bandied about by the media, foreign nations don’t gamble their own sovereignty lightly, especially over something like Syria.

General Mattis has said they plan no further strikes at this stage. Does Putin order his forces to sink a US destroyer in the Mediterranean which launched those missiles? Highly unlikely. He does have the best weapon available to do that (the ‘Sunburn’) but sending US naval vessels to the bottom of the sea on a strategic strike would seem a big response to a targeted hit.

Let there be no mistake. There is a new sheriff in town. Russia has a bloody nose it didn’t think it would find itself. Putin miscalculated that Trump isn’t all Twitter-fueled bluster. Uncertainty in foreign leaders is always a risk for enemies. Trump has shown Putin he won’t be bullied like his predecessor.

Putin doesn’t want a hot war with America. The best way to strike at the US is like the last 6 decades. Undermine her at every opportunity. Supply her enemies. As mentioned before, if the Russians didn’t think it worth hitting back at Turkey for deliberately targeting its fighters, it is unlikely that Putin, no matter how ‘insulted’ he might feel will take a strike not aimed at Russians as a pretext to pick a fight with Trump. Putin has worked out the US president’s measure. He miscalculated. He won’t make that mistake twice.

For the media, running all the scare campaign stories is not only highly irresponsible (as it did over Yemen’s attacks on Saudi Arabia) but proving the lack of depth of analysis. They can beat Trump over the head all they wish but should note the actions of Macron and May following him into the region as a tacit approval of the US leader. Was he the madman they portrayed him as in the first place they would have stayed well out of it.

Watch for Putin’s response (unlikely but will threaten it will come when the evil Americans least expect) and think deeply about why it is important that the real despots (Putin, Xi, KJ-U, Erdogan) around the world no longer have the ability to exercise free will in knowledge that the worst they face is a slap on the wrist from the UN.

Sounds more like grounds for congratulation than censure. 

Trump’s approval hits 50%

165F3F30-54C5-4F7D-A7FD-97F119B10A64.jpeg

A new Rasmussen Reports poll finds President Trump has cracked the 50% approval rating among likely voters, putting him ahead of where Barack Obama was at this point in his presidency. On the same day in Obama’s administration – April 2, 2010 – Rasmussen found 46% approved of the 44th president’s performance. Suggests that people are more interested in their daily personal issues than the media’s obsession in trying to find out whether Trump humped a porn star over a decade ago.

The fact is that Trump is polling well ahead of the most recent approval ratings for Macron, Trudeau, Merkel, Theresa May, Turnbull, Shinzo Abe or Pena Nieto. When Obama was in Japan last week he spoke of wantiong to create “a million young Barack Obamas” to take on the baton of “human progress”. No thanks.

If the status quo is so good why would we vote out the incumbents?

58E9AB02-380A-4174-9942-D5FE295312AF.jpeg

Almost everywhere we look, we’re told by the political class how good our lot is. Our blessed Aussie PM told us, “It has never been a better time to be an Australian.” Boosted asset prices, low unemployment and tepid inflation gives the illusion of real wealth for everyone. As an electorate, if all of that were true, why wouldn’t we be going out of our way to make sure the status quo gets voted back in with similar if not greater majorities? As it stands, more and more incumbent parties are hanging on by their finger nails, being forced to create alliances to stay in power rather than stick to the principles their parties were founded on. The irony is that these grand coalitions are formed on the tenets of ignorant ‘un-populism.’

The latest election cycle shows us that a growing number of people aren’t buying mediocrity. They’re sick of incumbent politicians ignoring them. The current crop of leaders seem to think that being less worse than the opposition is a virtue to be proud of. Yet poverty levels continue to rise and wealth is not trickling down to the masses. Even rising state entitlements have a finite life and the electorate knows it. Being married to the government is not seen as a desirable strategy long term. Deficits keep rising and look increasingly hard to pay down.

Searching through the St Louis Fed database, civilian employment under Obama managed to grow 2.5% on pre-crash levels. So the US loaded up on $9 trillion in short term debt to create 4 million net new jobs. That works out at $2.25 million per worker. Hardly an achievement. Yet despite that economic growth has dithered at the lowest post recession rates ever. As much as we might want to celebrate record low unemployment these are not proud statistics. The quality of jobs keeps going down. $8.4 trillion of this federal debt load needs to be refinanced inside 4 years. $12.3 trillion inside 10 years. While politicians can call the average voter stupid, the daily struggles of the average punter shows how out of touch the law makers are. This was the grand mistake made by Clinton. While she hung out with her elite mates at $1,000 plate dinners in Democrat strongholds in LA, NY and Chicago expecting a coronation, Trump hit the little people and had crowds flocking to see him.

While Trump’s trade tariffs seem daft on the face of it, it was done for the forgotten people who voted for him. He is not concerned about the consequences. That’s the point. So much of his platform appears abhorrent but he is the only politician in danger of being raked over coals for keeping his promises. That’s why he was elected. The status quo had failed to deliver over decades. 80% of the population didn’t benefit from the asset bubble post GFC. The 1% took 42% of those gains. The average Joe and Joanne see this. While they might not fully comprehend it they know enough to see their situation is not much better.

Take a look at Trudeau’s India debacle. Apart from the embarrassing wardrobe saga, the bigger problems came when he blamed the Indians for letting a known terrorist attend a state dinner. The Indians, unsurprisingly, were most unhappy at the accusation. Many look to Trudeau as the posterchild of the left, pushing peoplekind. Telling Canadians that he will convert returning ISIS fighters with haiku poetry, podcasts and comparing them to Italian migrants at the end of WW2 is utterly preposterous to his constituents. Telling his veterans they’re asking for too much flies in the face of love of one’s country. No wonder his popularity continues to dive. His speech to the UN – where he rattled off how Canada was ticking all the UN diversity boxes – was only a quarter full. Not even his own liberal mates rallied to show unity in numbers. It was telling that virtue signalling is all about appearing to do good rather than doing it.  Yet the day before Trudeau presented, Trump spoke of America First and the audience was packed. They might have hated every word that dripped from his tongue but they didn’t miss it for the world. It is hard talk. Not carefully prepared politically correct nonsense.

Take the recent European elections. Germany gave Merkel the worst ever performance of the CDU post WW2. The SPD was even worse. The anti-immigrant AfD stormed to 16%. Is it any wonder that when Merkel’s misguided altruism  showed up on Election Day even she finally conceded we have a problem with “no go zones”. Some may wish to look at the Merkel miracle of growth and low unemployment but the public service in Germany has exploded from 9% pre 2008 crash to 16% today. Not private sector growth but public sector.

The Italian election showed over 60% of the vote went to eurosceptic parties. While volatility has always been a feature of Italian politics, this results showed the discontent underbelly of Italy which has seen poverty jump 50% to one third of the population since Lehman collapsed. While M5S said it wouldn’t form a coalition, all bets are off if it tied up with League. There are plenty of overlaps on the party platforms but the M5S would have to insist on the PM role. The EU would go into a tailspin on such news.

Austria voted in a wunderkind who put the right wing anti immigrant FPO in charge of immigration. Holland saw Wilders claw more seats. Nationalist Marine LePen in France doubled the number of seats ever attained by the Front National. Even Macron is changing his spots looking to introduce national service and take a harder line against migrant crime.

Whether the real statistics of migrant crime are wholly accurate or not is beside the point. It is increasingly seen as an election issue and more EU countries have had enough. They feel their lot is getting worse and view forking out billions in aid for people to settle here is pennies out of their pocket. If the stats are as the government sugar coats them to be in terms of the prevailing prosperity surely the citizens would overwhelmingly back them. Sadly the opposite is true meaning politicians aren’t selling their “compassion” effectively. Too many examples of gagging the police and muzzling the press have surfaced.

That is the thing. If the economy was rosy and bullish and more people felt secure there is a likelihood they would look at the immigration debate in a more positive light. All they see now is millions flocking to Europe as poverty is on the rise and the economy is on the back foot at ground zero. European EU-28 GDP hasn’t grown since Q4 2015. Despite a quadrupling of ECB assets net jobs created post GFC numbers 4 million, labour force participation remains below the peak. However we should not forget that Romania and Bulgaria joined in Jan 2007 and Croatia in 2013 which would add (at a 50% employment ratio) c.20mn meaning that employment in the EU on a like for like basis as a whole is down 16mn jobs ceteris paribus. Even if only Croatia was included then net jobs creation in EU-28 would be a paltry 2mn, or a smidgen above 1%. Anemic.

Yet the political class still doesn’t seem to be learning, especially the EU. Poland and Hungary have formed a pact to reject proposed quotas on migrants. The EU has failed to address the most important question. The wishes of the migrants themselves. It is one thing for the EU to appeal to voters as saving asylum seekers from war torn lands (when 80% are economic migrants by the EU’s own numbers), it is another to forcibly send them to countries that flat out don’t want them. Ask for a show of hands of asylum seekers looking to stay in Germany or head off to Hungary to settle and the likelihood is 100:0. Trying to make Hungarians or Poles feel guilty for being incompassionate is a price they’re clearly willing to pay with losing EU membership. Would we take kindly to a neighbor telling us how to arrange our furniture in the living room or sign a petition to prevent us building extensions even though it is not even in their way? Of course not. Still wagging fingers in disapproval is only likely to steel their resolve.

Flip to the Southern Hemisphere and Australian politics is also exposing the sordid state of the swamp. 5 PMs in 10 years. Now the Deputy PM has had to resign to the back bench and in a last ditched effort to claim some sort of moral high ground with the staffer he was having an affair with. He claimed he would still look after her even though a paternity test might show the kid wasn’t his. What a grub and a slap in the face for his partner to imply she may have been promiscuous. Once again the popularity of the incumbent parties in Australia continues to sink to all time lows. The Labor Party looks to have the next election in the bag but even then the popularity of the opposition leader is woefully tiny.

While the world seems to be in this state of blissful tranquility on the outside, we needn’t probe too deep before seeing how bad things continue to be on the inside. The little people may not have any financial fire power but at the ballot box they have an equal opportunity to stuff those that aren’t listening. Once again Italy shows us it wants change. Call it populism if you must but it is truly a reflection of just how bad things really are and how little ammunition to deal with any future crises remains. The little people are raising their voices. Best heed their words. It is the same reason why as zero chance as Trump looks in 2020, don’t bet against another 4 years in the White House. If the Dems hope that celebrities that talk of #METOO and gun control (all the while they attend Oscars semi-naked and collect their millions doing action films full of explosions and automatic weapons fire) will sway them to a return to the swamp they’re sorely mistaken.

Approval ratings of world leaders

8A045556-211E-4DE9-B940-A27ED3474BA5.jpeg

Macron, France, Nov., 2017: 46%
Merkel, Germany, Dec, 2017: 38%
Trudeau, Canada, Jan., 2018: 37%
Turnbull, Australia Feb 2018: 37%
May, UK, Jan., 2018: 29%
Pena Nieto, Mexico, Nov., 2017: 26%
Trump, USA, Feb., 2018: 49% (Rasmussen)

Looks like the mainstream media should be serving up the beatings for unpopularity to other world leaders.

Do you ever wonder why…

IMG_0741.PNG

…the majority would believe words like “demolished” from the press when the subject in question is a video driven by The Guardian pushing the even more Trump-hating journalism of Australia’s taxpayer funded ABC? Despite the ABC being controlled by a charter that says it mustn’t show political bias, it knows only one drum beat – join every Trump derangement cause without exception. It isn’t just this but whenever you see the words “demolished, destroyed, smashed” in a headline, discount its value by half then deduct another 75%. That will be about the extent of how “powerful” the report is. Viral? More like a bad bout of gastroenteritis. The walls of Washington were most likely reverberating with uncontrolled laughter.

Uhlmann can argue that Trump is the biggest threat to the West and he’s accelerating the decline of the US but it was 8 years under the Obama administration where Russia and China could run amuck with little fear of anything more than a hashtag in retaliation. It is more obvious that on foreign policy, the US is in a revival phase and her foes are sitting up and taking notice. Surely that hasn’t come about by chance.

Who cares if Merkel, Trudeau or Macron voice disapproval of the current US president? It isn’t new. Australian PM Turnbull is utterly mesmerized by Trump. While the mutual affection society of the ABC and its former minister Turnbull continue to mock POTUS he was the first to jump at the chance catch a ride in the Beast . That when he alighted spoke of how much he respects Trump and how much in common the two have (ppffft). The Aussie PM is petrified of DT in person. Turnbull loved Obama but never feared him.

The job of POTUS is not to join a chorus. True leadership is often doing things that aren’t popular. Dumping the Paris Climate Accord isn’t popular but it’s the right thing to do according to Americans and surveys in the US say as much. When one objectively studies the realities of the non-binding document it is clear the agreement is an empty one when countries like France & Germany step up to make up for the 75% of emitters that refuse to get on board.

Trump’s actions surrounding North Korea have the Chinese scurrying around looking for a solution that keeps the US from potentially influencing “the” border to its north. Isn’t that ‘leading the world’ by trying to get those that have the most to lose by suggesting the US will take control of the Korean Peninsula if they dither anymore? Notice B1-B Lancer bombers have been strafing the border on the 38th parallel with precision dummy bomb drills?  They aren’t for North Korea’s delectation but a message to China – stop messing about! Obama would have been dropping leaflets of peace, harmony and Hershey bars.

Under Obama’s watch China willfully built man made military bases in the South China Sea in contested waters taking advantage of his weakness. Xi knows there is a new sheriff in town and realizes he has to resort to another chapter in Sun Tzu.

The BBC – of all news channels – had a body language expert revealing that the alpha male show off in Hamburg between POTUS and Putin, had the former dominant over the latter. Putin is a master of bullying. Remember he had his intelligence arm find out Merkel was petrified of big dogs and made sure he had a monster canine wander around during their chat when she visited Russia? Doesn’t strike me that Trump is weak, unfit and out of his depth if Putin was nervous.

As more media coverage shows Trump as isolated and going it alone it isn’t the 1/20 being left out in the cold but the 19/20 who can’t get any edge on him.

As Uhlmann makes clear, he is just as clueless as so many other journalists because he makes no attempt to give context and perspective on the starting point. To think Obama led a period of American exceptionalism in foreign policy is preposterous. If Trump actually gets a positive outcome on North Korea or ISIS will Uhlmann issue an apology for his oversight? Let me give you a hint – not on your life.

I’ll happily admit when Trump does questionable things but I’ll make no apologies trying to address the ridiculous bias in the media against him. That bias remains so prevalent that it drowns out any noise that may actually be relevant to the Trump lovers who see no wrong.

Many Americans would gladly accept Macron’s offer to take these conditional patriots away

IMG_9118.PNG

It didn’t take long for the group think press to lavish praise upon new French President Emmanuel Macron. Poor old Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has lost his status as the poster child of victim based politics. Perhaps his life-size cardboard cut outs now have purpose.

Macron’s appeal to American asylum (rent) seekers was yet more evidence of his stance on all the en vogue political causes which often ignore harsh realities. How smug to host a televised commentary calling for Americans to throw in the towel on their country. What he is basically saying it is ok for US citizenship to be conditional. The sort of mentality that says beheading a sitting president for (supposed) comic value is ok. Plastering “Earth to Trump: Fuck off” on a German tabloid is acceptable editorial behaviour and pushing for the overthrow of a democratically elected official who has not succumbed to group think.

Just because someone doesn’t agree with you President Macron doesn’t mean they are wrong. Perhaps the persuasiveness of the argument to date has been too poor. Sure you can argue he’s cozying up to his fossil fuel fossils but his decision was the world’s worst kept secret. Instead of questioning “why” he quit you’ve launched an all too common dismissive narrative that attacks his intelligence. Yet again another leader who plays the man not the ball. Is that the right stuff of leaders today? It would appear that keeping up popularity on social media is the most important trait on government officials these days

Macron boasted, “To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland…I call on them: come and work here with us. To work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment. I can assure you, France will not give up the fight.”

Perhaps he’d be better off to look at all of the sell-out celebrities who promised to leave the US if Trump won the presidency. Most if not all still remain. The same people, who owe much of their extravagant lifestyles to the generosity of US consumers and taxpayers, would gladly sell their country out. Those that fly their eyebrow trimmers half way around the world on a private jet yet tell us in Oscar speeches how grave our situation is. Quite frankly Monsieur President I think many Americans would be more than grateful at your offer to take these people off their grid.

To put the shoe on the other foot. I am disgusted with the state of politics in Australia. Even though my life long support for the Liberal party has waned, my love of country has not. No matter what stupid direction my country takes I will not throw in the towel. Ahh but you live in Japan! Yes I do. However I do my utmost to facilitate business between our nations, work my hardest to promote a solution that will hopefully improve countless lives by weaning drug addicts off menaces like ICE and so forth.

We shouldn’t be surprised by your words. They speak the language of those willing to talk but not listen. Your victory was more a vote against Le Pen than a vote for you. Such speeches show your true colours. By all means spend up on climate alarmist causes using French taxpayers  euros to full the void. What a coup if Trump got you to chip in for his absence from “making the planet great again.” Still go on with your tokenist virtue signaling if you don’t think the price is too high. America welcomes it.

NATO Facts and why Macron’s arrogance is no better than Trump’s

IMG_0141.PNG

While social media splashes around a US contribution to total NATO spend of 73% it in reality is a third of that. Only the USA and UK spend over and above NATO commitments as outlined in the chart above. Even the Greeks meet half the requirement! Germany is below not only NATO guidelines but the media would never tell you that. Trump has a point. In fact the reason much of the military spending numbers below the requirement stems more from inefficiency than anything else.

What many fail to understand is that salaries and benefits (housing, education and healthcare) for military staff tend to consume 3/4s of the budget. Procurement is a dog’s breakfast and influenced by age of fleets, battalions, interoperability and so forth. While NATO isn’t exactly group buy the us wins by default of having access to the best cost/performance equipment allowing better bang for the buck. Little Estonia can’t get the same economies of scale.

The “contribution” (click here) question is clouded by two things. Under Obama, the US has cut its NATO contribution from 5.29% of GDP when he took office to 3.6%. NATO Europe had met the minimum expected contribution of 2% but this has slumped from the tech bubble collapse of 2000 to 1.47% today which has meant the only thing keeping NATO’s overall budget above target has been Uncle Sam!

IMG_0142.PNG

So once again social media muddles a message. It takes 10 seconds to go on NATO’s website and fact check.

Instead the media is more focused on pointless clickbait on whether Trump can hold Melania’s hand without being swatted away or who won the vigorous handshake contest – he or Macron. In fact Macron’s deliberate snub Of Trump when he met all the leaders spoke volumes. He made no conscious effort to shake his hand first. He made a point of sucking up to his EU cronies first and spent needless time making worthless chitchat before even acknowledging the leader of the strongest nation on earth. We shouldn’t be surprised. Best have Trump inside the tent p1ssing out than outside p1ssing in.

Even if they want to delegitimize Trump they play a silly game. Much like business leaders being bullied on social media to leave Trump’s business council (Uber chickened out), the EU plays a dangerous game of isolating Trump. If they want to prevent him from being the “unhinged” orange buffoon they think he is they’d do much better to be welcoming, accommodating and flattering his eminence. That way they can bring balance and find common ground. They show no signs of even beginning to try. By snubbing him they shouldn’t be surprised if he acts independently. Yet Macron acts no better than Trump and the media lavishes praise on the exact same antics they crucify The Donald over. Typical double standards.

Be careful what you wish for! The world needs a healthy US and stunts like this only fray the lines of trust and partnership further. Sure, the America First policy stance is affronting but if the EU want to expedite the process then keep up the Trump bashing. It doesn’t mean Trump bumping (hey Trudeau did it in Canada to a female member of parliament) other dignitaries shows good character but he knows he’s being ridiculed and the media sees it as their only form of attack. The problem is they forget 75% of Republicans STILL approve of his job performance.  He may only be doing a C+ on performance in office but he isn’t anywhere near the F- portrayed by the media.