#Obama

Do arms suppliers have a moral compass?

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40 murdered children in Yemen.  The Saudi logic behind the attack was that the Houthi rebels were training these kids as soldiers. A far-fetched claim. Yet where has the condemnation of Saudi’s role on the UN Human Rights Council been? Countless civilian deaths in Yemen at the hands of the Saudi military are nothing new. Where was the outrage then? The decades long proxy war has only accelerated since the assassination of former Yemeni dictator President Ali Abdullah Saleh in December 2017.

CNN looked to put the blame of this latest tragedy at the feet of US defence companies. Surely the Europeans are just as blameworthy for selling the Tornado or Eurofighter aircraft that likely dropped the American ordinance on these kids? Mattis has openly criticized the Saudi attack in this instance.

Arms deals are a dirty business. Let’s not pretend otherwise. Unfortunately these dangerous toys rarely come with a “please use responsibly” section inside the box of instructions. Some might argue that in certain cases users are not of the appropriate age bracket to play with them. Bribery scandals (aka incentives) are often more notable than the weapons deals themselves. Yet have there been incidences of arms suppliers turning down multi-billion dollar contracts?

If we go back in history, the Americans refused to release the source codes to the Saudis in a potential multi-billion dollar US jet fighter sale that would have allowed certain weapons (the US weren’t prepared to supply) to be fired. Even if the Saudis bought the US jets and sourced the banned weapons on the black market they wouldn’t be able to be fired.  Instead the Saudi’s bought the Panavia Tornado because the Europeans were happy to sell a similarly capable platform that the US refused to sell. UK defence contractor BAE Systems won a long term maintenance contract known as Al-Yamamah as a result of this Tornado deal. Why not bash the Brits for taking advantage of the US putting regional security ahead of arms sales in Saudi Arabia?

Perhaps we could question the moral fibre of the US refusing to sell the F-22 Raptor attack fighter to the Japanese. The Japanese top brass pleaded for the plane but US Congress refused to approve it claiming the billions required to redo all of the computer systems and source codes to ensure it had a lower capability than the USAF plane. The reality was more likely to prevent a leakage of its capability (something that had occurred when the Japanese ordered Aegis destroyers). The result was Japan didn’t get them even given its peaceful history post WW2.

Should we bash the Russians for supplying military hardware has been behind the deaths of over 100,000 Syrians? Or Ford for making the car that ran down people in Westminster?Or should we question the operators of these tools?

If we really want to get petty the Paveway Mk-82 bombs responsible for killing these kids were sold to the Saudi’s in a deal made in 2013 under the Obama administration. Was it Obama’s fault in allowing the sale? CM doesn’t believe he is but interesting that CNN left the period of sale out. Easier to attack the $110bn arms sales going forwards.

40 dead children is a tragedy. Arms deals are far from if ever holy. The instruments of death are sadly not always deploy in manners which are either moral or ethical. The Iranian backed Houthi almost sunk a French made Saudi frigate in the Red Sea at the beginning of last year. Several Emirati patrol boats have been severely damaged by the Houthi in the same area, the most recent incident occurring  last month. There are countless skirmishes along the Yemeni/Saudi border.

Unfortunately the Saudis and several other gulf states are key allies of the US in the proxy war against Iran/Russia. Do not expect a wholesale change in US arms deals with Saudi Arabia for the foreseeable future.

In closing perhaps people might question China’s new interest in the Middle East? Many may have missed it has deployed 5,000 troops (including special forces) in Syria since 2017. Geopolitics seldom look to protect the rights of anyone other than the home side. Don’t pretend it does otherwise.

Hey! NY Times – you need new editors

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Seriously NY Times. Just once. CM dares you. Write some balance on this debate about tracking undocumented kids? Where are these magical editors seeking to ensure “all the news that is fit to print”? Why not write the truth of “why” tracking migrant children is so hard? Everything bad doesn’t happen because of the Trump administration. CBS wrote in Feb 2016 (hint: Trump wasn’t president) the following,

Finding immigrant children with outstanding deportation orders is also complicated by the fact that they often are no longer at the addresses provided to the government…We are out looking,” Homan said. “But they are hard to find. A lot of these folks who don’t show up in court, we don’t know where they’re at.”

Yes, the truth isn’t that the immigration agencies don’t keep track of the kids, their often (illegal) immigrant families don’t want ICE to know where they are to prevent their own deportation so move around making them hard to track.

Then again if the NYT want to run the narrative that the Trump administration is a bunch of Nazis why not write that it is woefully incompetent in executing its draconian plans to systematically tag and terrorize children?

Oh, that is right the problem started in the Obama era with respect to this. Don’t let that fact distort yet another problem that needs fixing due to poorly laid out policy. Then again CNN was at it with its ideological twists only two days ago.

Or perhaps In Jan 2016 when WaPo noted, “The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, failed to do proper background checks of adults who claimed the children…several Guatemalan teens were found in a dilapidated trailer park near Marion, Ohio, where they were being held captive in squalid conditions by traffickers and forced to work“. So slave labour to repay human traffickers? Let’s encourage more to attempt the crossing?

Yes, the system clearly needs to be changed but if you read the NYT or WaPo one would believe the entire problem has Trump’s finger prints all over it. Clearly not.

Democracy may die in darkness but stupidity is disinfected by sunlight.

Putin’s puppet?

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Not surprising from Rasmussen overnight:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 65% of Likely Democratic Voters believe critics of Trump’s recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin truly believe he is a treasonous Russian puppet. Just as many Republicans (67%) disagree and think those critics are only making the charges for political purposes, a view shared by a plurality (47%) of voters not affiliated with either major party.”

Trump’s  unconventional (yet unsurprising) outburst of diplomacy against Iran (if it can be called that) on Twitter in capital letters does dispel this somewhat. To fire a social media salvo at Rosoboronexport’s second largest arms customer (one Russia has sold weapons to Iran  for 98 years) would somewhat dispel that myth of kowtowing to Putin’s every move. 85% of Iran’s military hardware is Russian. Syria is Russia’s #1 export client with the prize being the naval base in the Mediterranean port of Tartus.

In any event both Iran and Syria serve Russia’s ability to interfere with US policy in the Middle East. Israel now claims Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers have stepped up from being mere advisors in the Golan Heights to actively fighting. Israel has commenced day raids in Syria such has the threat escalated.

If POTUS is intending  to remove one or two of Putin’s clients (list here) then one suspects the Russian dictator should be pulling Iran’s strings to get them to arm in silence rather than pick a fight with the US.

Perhaps a more apt way to look at this is Trump’s hatred of Obama’s (foreign) policies far outweighs his supposed love of Putin. The evidence for that is not only obvious but entirely factual, backed with empirical evidence.

ICE – the facts

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In yesterday’s piece, Child Abuse – the shocking stats, some decided to launch expletive laden criticism on the lack of discourse on the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) treatment of children at the Mexican border, the inference that CM was turning a blind eye to the beastly Trump administration in reporting the extent of child abuse. First, the politicization of children is abhorrent. Where were the media when these same supposed crimes of removing children from (supposed) parent/guardians was occurring since 2013? Reading through the ICE end of year report of 2017 we let the stats speak for themselves. Forgive the preamble.

Recall the one-sided media coverage of the lifeless body of 3yo Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi on the shores of Turkey. Yet the facts were clear – he had not been in any danger. The family had been safe in Turkey for 3 years. His father was trying to make his way to Germany for dental surgery. Aylan’s parent chose to risk his son with no life jacket to make a hazardous trip on an overcrowded boat to seek selfish opportunism. Is it up to the West to take responsibility for the individual choices of people who are not at risk of war zones? Yet the media still used the image to show how callous we were to allow this.

It was only a few weeks ago that Time magazine posted a photo-shopped image of a crying little girl looking up at POTUS. Despite a tongue-bitten retraction tucked at the bottom of a long article to acknowledge the toddler had not been wrested from her mothers arm by ICE storm troopers, we find out the mother had abducted her with the help of people smugglers while abandoning her husband and 3 other kids.  The picture was used to great effect by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) to raise $20mn via crowdfunding! Even after the lie was outed the group still used it to lift the target to $25mn.  US veterans are committing suicide at the rate of 20/day and people are willing to crowdfund an unethical group by 1000s of multiples. Priorities. Or is it that TDS is that extreme?

Who wants to see screaming kids? No-one. Locked in cages? Even less. Separated? Well there is good reason for that. When even the likes of left-leaning HuffPo admitted in December 2014 that 80% of women and girls are sexually assaulted while trying to make it across the border there is a good reason to question the proof of identity of the supposed parents. Even if 90% of parent/children pairs are legit, what of the 10% that aren’t? Do ICE risk it? Australia had an experience of a mother from Nepal (a democracy not at war) who deliberately poured boiling water on her infant to expedite processing on the mainland. Are these the values of people we should provide refuge to? We should not forget that many people make the journey knowing ALL the risks that confront them yet still attempt it despite the warnings.

To emphasize the danger of lax screening,  multiple kids were found dead after being abandoned once across the border as their usefulness as a golden ticket on compassionate grounds was expended. If that isn’t some of the worst forms of child abuse then what is? Moreover these people are hardly the type that decent Americans would want to embrace with open arms!

In Jan 2016 WaPo noted, “The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, failed to do proper background checks of adults who claimed the children…several Guatemalan teens were found in a dilapidated trailer park near Marion, Ohio, where they were being held captive in squalid conditions by traffickers and forced to work“. So slave labour to repay human traffickers? Let’s encourage more to attempt the crossing?

Then ICE has the trouble of finding the parents/guardians (sponsors) already living (often) illegally to collect their unaccompanied children at pre-arranged court hearings. The media went into a frenzy saying that ICE had lost the records. The truth came out in Feb 2016 that,

“The head of ICE’s removal operations, Thomas Homan, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that 7,643 immigrants who arrived as children were sent home between the 2012 and 2015 budget years…More than 171,000 children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, were arrested at the border during that same time…The number of children caught crossing the border illegally spiked in 2014 [see impacts in NY Times graphic below] and the Obama administration promised that those who were not eligible for protections in the United States would be swiftly sent home… And with an immigration court backlog of more than 474,000 pending cases some cases can take years to move through the court system…

ICE SURGE

…about 40% of immigrants are no shows at court…Finding immigrant children with outstanding deportation orders is also complicated by the fact that they often are no longer at the addresses provided to the government.”We are out looking,” Homan said. “But they are hard to find. A lot of these folks who don’t show up in court, we don’t know where they’re at.”

The pictures of kids in concentration camp style cages were from 2014. Yet don’t let that get put in the way of a narrative to show the nationalist tendencies of the current administration.

While we can express outrage at the treatment of illegal immigrants at the border, the tougher laws have started to resonate with Ana Garcia Carias, wife of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who said, “Stay in the country and let’s look for solutions to support you.” She visited the border and said that she didn’t recommend her citizens go to the US undocumented. If a court system has nearly 500,000 backed up in the system, it seems reasonable to push for a zero tolerance policy to end

So let’s examine the ICE data. 

To contextualize what ICE’s enforcement focus includes with respect to removable aliens we find:

(1) have been convicted of any criminal offense;
(2) have been charged with any criminal offense that has not
been resolved;
(3) have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense;
(4) have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency;
(5) have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
(6) are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or
(7) in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.

An administrative arrest of a criminal alien is the arrest of an alien with a known criminal conviction. The figures as follows:

  • 2015: 101,800
  • 2016:  94,750
  • 2017: 105,736

Here are some of the reasons of arrest (both criminal convictions and charges) for 2017:

  • Driving under the influence : 80,547
  • Dangerous drugs: 76,503
  • Immigration violation:  62,517
  • Assault: 48,454
  • Larceny: 20,356
  • Burglary: 12,836
  • Fraud: 12,398
  • Illegal weapon possession: 11,173
  • Sex offences: 6,664
  • Stolen Vehicles: 6,174
  • Forgery: 5,210
  • Homicide: 1,886
  • Kidnapping: 2,027
  • Prostitution racketeering: 1,572

An initial book-in is the first book-in to an ICE detention facility to begin a new detention stay. This population includes aliens initially arrested by Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and transferred to ICE for removal. Once again the combined bookings are as follows

  • 2015: 307,342
  • 2016: 352,882
  • 2017: 323,591

The decrease in ICE’s overall removal numbers from FY2016 to FY2017 was primarily due to the decline in border apprehensions in 2017. Many fewer aliens were apprehended at the border in FY2017 than in FY2016—possibly reflecting an increased deterrent effect from ICE’s stronger interior enforcement efforts (which is exactly what they wish to achieve).

  • 2015: 235,413
  • 2016: 240,255
  • 2017: 226,119

In FY2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted 143,470 overall administrative arrests, which is the highest number of administrative arrests over the past three fiscal years. Of these arrests, 92% had a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, were an ICE fugitive or were processed with a reinstated final order.

If one views even the short term trend of ICE operations one can see that the extent of the problem is not just a Trump issue. From even before Obama’s time, border related issues have been a festering problem. The press can beat him and his supporters senseless but it would seem he is merely fulfilling election promises. With almost half a million still to be processed in the courts, is there any sense in clogging the legal system with even more to process. Even after the repeal of legislation that prevents parent-child separations, no credit is given by his detractors despite the fact this was enacted well before he took office. Where was the press outrage during the Obama era when all the same sort of ‘abuse’ was going on? Nowhere.

People trafficking is as deplorable an occupation as can be imagined yet the idea of  publicizing open borders fuels their industry as shown in the lead up to 2014. The ultimate irony is now Frau Merkel has instituted border camps of her own as the results of her misguided altruism led to countless human traffickers to benefit from her come one, come all policies.

In summary, Rasmussen Reports notes that most Americans do not want to abolish ICE. The polling firm noted,

“only 25% of Likely U.S. Voters favor getting rid of ICE whose duties include border control. Fifty-five percent (55%) are opposed…Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republicans and 53% of voters not affiliated with either major political party oppose getting rid of ICE. Democrats agree by a narrower 44% to 36% margin.”

AS CM always says, if people don’t like the laws, then move to change them.

These results may surprise many

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We are often told by the likes of Pelosi et al that race relations in the US have never been worse than now. More narrative busting from Rasmussen,

”Voters feel young black Americans are better off under President Trump than they were under Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president. 

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey shows that 32% of Likely U.S. Voters believe life for young black Americans has gotten better since Trump’s election. Slightly more (36%) say life for these Americans has gotten worse, while 26% think it has stayed about the same.

But in March 2014, just 16% said life for young black Americans had gotten better since Obama’s election five-and-a-half years earlier.  By July 2016 in Obama’s final year in office, only 13% thought life was better for young blacks.

Even black voters are nearly twice as likely (28%) to say young black Americans are better off now than they were in the closing year of Obama’s presidency (15%).

Forty-seven percent (47%) of all voters, however, believe race relations are worse since Trump’s election. Still, that compares to 60% who felt that way after eight years of the Obama presidency. Just 20% say those relations are better now, while 30% rate them about the same.

Does Trump have a right to brag about unemployment?

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The Trump vs Obama camps are lighting up over who was responsible for the drop unemployment rates. Looking at the long term decline one could argue that Obama was a key part of the decline and the incremental drops in the rate are Trumps. Here are the raw figures.

In Jan 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Obama had 115.818m people full time employed. In December of 2012 that number was 115.791m. (-270,000). There were 8.046m and 7.943m part time jobs over the same period. Minus 103,000. At the end of his 8 years, there were 124.3m FT jobs and 5.554m PT jobs. All told his FT workforce went up 8.48mn and PT fell 2.492m. So gross employment increased 5.98m.

Trump started at 124.3mn FT and as of May 2018 there are 128.657m FT jobs and 4.948m PT jobs. So he’s increased FT 4.347m and cost PT 606k. Net increase of 3.741mn jobs. So even if you ran the narrative that Obama’s second term was enough to put the “Great Recession to bed”, Trump has achieved 63% of Obama’s employment legacy in only 30% of his first term as president.

The number of people working two or more jobs surged to over 8mn (a record) under BHO as did food stamps (doubled to c.48m before coming down to 43m by his term end). SNAP stands at 40m now. 3mn fewer.

30 million people claim disability and welfare in the US. The Social Security Administration (SSA) highlighted that back pain and musculoskeletal problems are 33.8% of claims for disabled workers, followed by mental illness at 19.2% in 2013. This compares to 8.3% and 9.6% respectively in 1961. Half of claims in the 1960s came from heart attack/stroke and ‘other’ categories which made up only 17% of the 2013 figure.

Yet the truth is that if Americans wanted more of Obama’s successful policies, Hillary was Obama 2.0. No change in policies. Sensible to keep if they wanted the status quo. Ironic that 19 out of 25 states that voted for Trump had poverty levels exceeding the national average. Which means that had the “marry the state” policies of the Obama admin resonated with the poor it would have been a coronation for Hillary. This is a perfect example as to why a hollowed out middle America want to live the American dream rather than queue up for more welfare. God Bless America?

 

Folly of The Economissed

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On a flight back to Tokyo this week a copy of The Economist was in the magazine rack. A subscription had long been cancelled for its plunge into yet another group think rag. A long time ago, the magazine was regarded as the go to for objective journalism from economics, geopolitics through to specials. Now it is little more than a cheerleader. A chance was given to see if things had changed. If anything it has gotten worse. This article on the peace deal only reinforces the pathetic bias and wish that Trump losing is preferable to any alternative including world peace.

For no sooner had Trump sent a letter calling the peace talks with North Korea off, The Economist was writing about humiliation. They’ve got to be kidding?

While even the blind can see any postponement is a setback, it is not without reason. Trump has made absolutely clear from the beginning – ‘peace or business as usual. Your move Kim.’ 

This started when Kim Jong-Un fired angry remarks when long scheduled war games were  commenced by the South. If one wanted to gift the upper hand to the North Koreans in the negotiations then stopping annual war games would be a great way to do it. It was tactical.

Glass jaw or not, firing salvos at Vice President Pence or standing up US envoys is not conduct becoming peace talks. Trump’s letter sounded somewhat childish with respect to comparing arsenals again but the point being made to Kim is clear – “we’re not playing. Put up or shut up!

This is exactly what you’d want Trump to do. Not some Obama era red line which crossed carries no consequences. This is exactly why there is so much geopolitical instability thanks to 8 years of utter weakness in foreign policy. This isn’t about humiliation at all. This about a world leader who is using clear military and economic strengths at the negotiating table with a dictator who 6 months ago threatened to nuke Guam. We should not want Trump to appease at any cost which we’ve seen throughout history carry devastation.

The reason Kim was drawn to the negotiating table was because China realized the new sheriff wasn’t bluffing. Why was Beijing Kim’s first state visit before shaking hands on the 38th parallel with President Moon?? He was seeking assurances from the other dictator on staying in power lest booking a plot of land in exile in Sichuan province if things require him to step down.

Kim needs to realize that the ‘throwing toys out of the cot strategy’ of decades past no longer works. He was hoping to get an apology from Trump along with better concessions ahead of the negotiations. Trump essentially told him the ‘art of the deal’ in that the status quo remains if he doesn’t wake up to harsh realities. Sending home three American hostages was a token.

It will be China sending Kim back to the meeting table with Trump because it will ultimately be managing the protectorate after any peace is signed for its own geopolitical aims. China does NOT want US friendly forces on its border. Best keep the buffer by getting Kim to accept a lesser deal where he gets to keep his life. For a man in his early 30s he can either choose to go down fighting or see out his days with the embezzled billions and bevy of beauties in his concubine.

To take The Economist at its journalistic integrity, it will be secretly happy if North Korea doesn’t sue for peace because any victory for Trump is something it can’t swallow. For the magazine to have that level of disingenuous editorial speaks volumes about turning a once prestigious brand into a tabloid. Reading through the blurb of The Economist’s 2017 Annual Report and the trends tell the story.