Trump

Lawnmower man rightly points out the United Nations needs to cut its own lawn

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President Trump made a good speech to the UN with few surprises reiterating much of what he said in the State of the Union address. No doubt the mainstream media will find fault at his use of the word “Rocketman” and so forth but he was spot on to call on nations to lift their socks instead of  sponging off American taxpayers when it comes to global cooperation. His slap of the UN for becoming a bloated bureaucracy was right on the money. Indeed it needs to trim its own grass. To quote Contrarian Marketplace from 7 months ago,

“If you are in the UN of course you want it to continue. The pay scales are incredible, On top of generous income tax free pay you can get housing support, kid’s schooling assistance, health insurance and other cost of living allowances that would make most people loyal slaves to the cause. Salaries consume 74% of the  $5.15bn budget. The average salary of the 41,000 that work there is c.US$100,000. In Japan a D1-D2 level would be looking at $320,000 peer annum. No wonder they need members to keep chipping in more and more into the UN coffers to keep the circus going, Is it any wonder that pay for play is how you buy influence on councils.

The Heritage Foundation did an interesting study on the UN’s budget which shows how much it has exploded in the last 40 years. The UN’s budget has grown 10-fold in that time.

“The latest U.N. regular budget, while superficially smaller than the previous budget, made no fundamental programmatic or structural adjustments—e.g., reducing permanent staff, freezing or reducing salaries and other benefits, and permanently eliminating a significant number of mandates, programs, or other activities—that would lower the baseline for future U.N. budget negotiations. Despite the Secretary-General’s proposal to eliminate 44 permanent posts, the 2012–2013 budget actually increased the number of permanent posts by more than a score compared with the previous budget. The failure to arrest growth in U.N. employment, salaries, and benefits is especially problematic because personnel costs account for 74 percent of U.N. spending according to the U.N.’s Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). Without a significant reduction in the number of permanent U.N. posts or a significant reduction in staff compensation and related costs, real and lasting reductions in the U.N. regular budget will remain out of reach.”

Note the peacekeeping budget is on top of the administrative side of the UN. The US currently contributes 27.1% of the total peacekeeping budget which is around $9bn.”

It is refreshing to see a world leader wake people up to unpleasant truths rather than sugarcoat everything in comforting lies. The UN does need to trim its out of control lawn. Whether the UN or NATO the US pays an overwhelming larger proportion of these budgets and has a right to point it out.

The most telling part of this speech was once again to point out to other countries to start doing their own heavy lifting. To begin looking after their own citizens and not feel guilty to protect their history and culture.

The world needs a wake up call and sadly Trump is one of the few politicians who speaks candidly. Not a Macron who promotes the idea that Americans should feel proud to be conditional citizens if they don’t like their leader, a Trudeau or Turnbull who willingly muzzles free speech to a May who treats her constituents as mugs.

Trump is far from a saint. He has many flaws however he is exposing everyday what Americans hate about the political class. The Democrats hate him (surprise, surprise) but the Republicans hardly have love for him either. DACA has provided a unique perspective on this. Failing to get GOP support he sought Nancy Pelosi of all who people who ended up being eviscerated by her own mob for working with the President towards a solution. People are growing sick and tired of gridlock which only cements his chances for a 2020 win. Americans want their country back. It’s not a difficult concept. He made it clear again in today’s speech.

Crass but are you really shocked?

If you read the Pravda on the Hudson (NY Times) they are in an uproar over a spoof video of President Trump hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball. It is a pretty crass stunt to be sure but is anyone surprised? They shouldn’t be. Presidential? No. Befitting of the office? No. Exercise in good judgement? Not really. Violence toward women was his main aim?  Hardly.  Playing the mainstream media to his tune? Absolutely, 3,2,1…explode. The problem is that the media will give this lots of airplay and bring in all manner of experts to discuss something that is actually pretty trivial. Given Hillary’s book promotion blaming everyone (even Republican males bullying their wives to vote Trump) this was likely his response to say ‘sore loser’. Doesn’t condone it but I am sure the world will move on.

Nearly ever liberal feed I’ve read deplores his childish antics here and insist he focus on all the other pressing issues at home and abroad – the very same issues they continually claim he is absolutely mentally unfit to deal with. So which is it? So to these same liberals – if he genuinely achieves proper successes on any pressing issue will you congratulate him? No, thought not. Literally playing the man, not the golf ball. It’s this whining that probably ensures he’ll torment them an extra 4 years if they don’t change their tune.

Kim sends more firecrackers across Japan that could hit Guam

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This cannot continue. Another missile fired across Japan’s shores. This missile flying 3,700km. Guam is technically in range by that measure. As I said on The Bolt Report, Kim’s technology will get to a point where he can become a serious threat. Taking out the threat before it gets even more capable is the only credible option. Even more biting UN sanctions haven’t stopped his quest to launch more missiles in utter defiance. My key thought is that China will be coerced into forcing regime change. It cannot afford to lose the strategic buffer North Korea provides but it can even less afford US military action on its back door. Unilateral action by China will not be frowned on by the majority of the rest of the world if Kim Jong Un is neutered.

Some discussions have also questioned whether he lobs missiles over Tokyo airspace. The danger here is a failure through dense commercial air traffic lanes. In any event the world community can’t sit by and let this oppressive regime continue a weapons program to use for extortion. Trump was on a morning breakfast program yesterday discussing North Korea where he effectively said for “China to start taking action”.

As I wrote last week, Japan’s entire Aegis destroyer fleet from Maizuru is at sea. They carry the SM-3 anti-ballistic missile system. Japan cannot take North Korea’s actions as anything other than the gravest threat to national security.

This crisis has to have an ending. It can only be Kim Jong Un’s. Watch China’s movements closely from here. They’re reaching breaking point on strategy.

Why China will effectively annex North Korea

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PDF REPORT HERE

I’ve been saying this for months. Think through the logic. China doesn’t want to lose the strategic buffer North Korea provides.. Beijing doesn’t want US friendly forces on its border. How to make a bad situation work for China? Bite the bullet and annex North Korea. Kim Jong Un has been brazenly telling the world to shove its diplomacy thinking the decades old practice of threats will keep on working. He’s wrong.

China must realize that the West is against Trump taking action for no other reason than he’s Trump. It is a strange world where many of America’s long term allies are backing the other side. Trump is merely filling the geopolitical  vacuum left by his predecessor. Trump is absolutely right to consider taking an increasingly dangerous threat off the table and China knows it is no longer dealing with a political powderpuff.

Still China wins in many ways by turning North Korea into its own administration. First, it isn’t Trump. Second, China will not be condemned for removing the threat and installing its own puppet. Third, China keeps the strategic geographical buffer and fourth China gets to show itself a proper force to be reckoned with in the Asia Pacific region by taking a credible threat off the table.

While no credit will be given to Trump for forcing China’s hand, be sure that an effective annexation by China will be a major win for him. Sure North Korea most likely retains the name and the sovereignty but China’s military becomes a form of blue helmets administering PyongYang’s every move. Kim Jong Un is on borrowed time. Sometimes long used strategy outstays it’s welcome.

How will financial markets react? While they may sell off initially expect them to rally hard if China pulls off regime change with precision. Surely Kim will soon get the ‘horse’s head in the bed’ scenario handed to him anytime soon from Beijing. It is the only viable solution which actually works remarkably well for China.

Abe’s “Trump” card will be more effective than the UN

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The Japanese newspaper front pages are all splashed with the latest North Korean nuke test. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has to quit asking the UN to step up sanctions. That is a purely optical illusion. Kim Jong Un is playing a different game. He doesn’t care. Trump is Abe’s only viable card to get Japan out of this long term mess. If Kim does possess the H-bomb it is clear that he intends to exploit his new toy box to snub his critics and take even harder lines to extort money.

While war is the least desired outcome, Kim must be careful not to bring down his own demise. Obama was the first US president Kim had direct exposure to but he would be wise to treat Trump as completely different. Trump maybe willing to remove the cancer that many presidents before haven’t. The sad reality is that having a 33yo dictator who subjugates his people like his father and grandfather before with such disdain has little to lose.

Getting a capable nuclear arsenal is not desired. It is clear he’d be willing to sell his technology to other tinpot dictatorships to top up the DPRK’s coffers. This has been done before when Israel blew up Syria’s North Korean derived and supplied nuclear facility in 2007.

China seems to be having less impact on young Kim. This should worry them.  China is the economic lifeblood of North Korea. The geopolitical buffer is a strategic must for China. There must be some circles calling for it to be turned into a Chinese protectorate. A Chinese led regime change where Kim Jong Un is granted an exile is a far better outcome than allowing US forces led strike to take it over

Although China may threaten to support Kim if the US preemptively strikes to topple the regime, they have said Kim’s on his own if he does anything stupid.

Kim isn’t stupid. However he is playing a very dangerous game of chicken with a player who realizes that this nuclear arsenal investment has to be stopped. It isn’t a question of if but when.

The idea that conflict can’t or won’t break out on Korean Peninsula is naive. Recall that the Korean War was never officially ended. Gut instincts suggest that if anyone is to take heavy handed action it is the Chinese that must do so. Beijing must also be wary of calling Trump’s bluff.

Abe’s sleepless nights won’t end until something definitive happens to North Korea. It is fraught with many risks but doing nothing now is the riskiest of all strategies over the long run. The UN is unlikely to achieve anything. Besides if they devoted even a slither of the energy and time they do to beat up Israel  one might have confidence in sanctions. Sadly too many vested interests with North Korea

The concern is the risk of Kim Jong Un missing the target

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At 6am this morning North Korea conducted a missile test which flew between Hokkaido and Japan’s main island Honshu. The real question is not so much the capability of his missiles but their short comings. The reality is a reasonable failure rate (c.33% in the past 3 years alone) has a high level of risk attached to it, especially when sending them over Japanese land. While most failures have been at the launch pad stage, the risk is that should the tracking and guidance systems fail mid flight over Japan even without warheads, considerable damage could be inflicted. Japan said it would shoot down such test missiles when Trump was threatening to intervene several months back but clearly swerved first in this game of chicken.

While Kim Jong Un’s technology is undoubtedly improving, the risk is that eventually it will reach a stage where he can be a belligerent imp with real capability. Up til now his armaments have been relatively crude. The sanctions put on the $12bn economy, mostly China, are biting. These missile tests would undoubtedly be costing Kim a relative bomb (no pun intended) to conduct. Still allowing his people to suffer isn’t a priority. The saber rattling is no different to his father and grandfather before him. Fire a few missiles, threaten others and get a cash injection to shut up and then go away.

Unfortunately this game of geopolitical chess gets worse as his capability gets better. He has nothing to lose whereas his neighbours stand to suffer relatively catastrophic downside. Tokyo is 125x larger in GDP terms than NK. Seoul 68x.

Does he intend to point one at Tokyo, Seoul, Guam or even Washington DC when he has the capability? This argument that a pre-emotive strike on North Korea won’t happen is getting weaker. China knows its strategic value as a buffer to the US. Bribing Pyongyang by buying its ginseng and coal is a cheap form of diplomacy. Beijing’s stance last month was telling. If the US preemptively strikes China will defend Kim. If Kim does anything stupid then he’s on his own.

Still if you know your enemy will eventually get to the stage it can physically harm you and threatens to do so it makes perfect sense militarily to eliminate the threat before it eventuates. After the capability is reached  the risks are factorfold higher. So for every argument that says conflict won’t happen (odds favor it not) the smarter bets will begin to ponder the growing chance something does.

Korean 5yr CDS have jumped 4bps to 62 today, still below the 70 during last month and well below Kim Jong Un’s first missile test at 120bps. GFC was around 700bps. So markets aren’t panicked just yet but gold back over $1300/oz is pricing it gets worse.

Don’t rule out a modern day Gulf of Tonkin incident. With each of these tests, electronic interference (cyber attack) could be a factor. To justify a retaliatory attack, guiding these missiles to hit a remote paddyfield in Aomori or inside Japan’s territorial waters is possible. China must be concerned about this. Electronic warfare is getting seriously capable. Remember when the Iranian centrifuges mysteriously blew up due to the Stuxnet virus? The virus told the centrifuge computers to spin the motors well above design tolerance such that they exploded.

Conspiracy theory maybe but geopolitics is a dirty game with huge long term implications and the rules are that there are none. Kim’s preemptive strike might not start with his finger on the button.

Lynching the lightbulb

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“Remove one freedom per generation and soon you will have no freedom – and no one will have noticed”

It is time for conservatives around the world to stand up to the totalitarian tsunami. From local councils stacking polls to ram through their own sanctimony to reckless destruction of public property there is an ugly tide of intolerance. The ‘your opinion doesn’t matter because we know better’ brigade will not learn. Their only aim is to shut up dissenting voices and push through their agenda with no respect for free speech and open debate. What is worse is that the longer libertarians turn a blind eye for fear of being labeled bigots, racists and nationalists, the more we will see these demands, sold under banners of political correctness, grow bolder. Why wouldn’t they? The funny thing is that voters are actually becoming tired of identity politics. If they weren’t we wouldn’t have Trump in the White House nor the Brits leaving the EU.

Tearing down monuments seems the topic of the month. These Confederate statues have caused such hostility, despite representing history. These statues of Robert E. Lee and the Civil War are supposedly causing such angst that yesterday someone decided extend the grievance remit by taking a sledge hammer to the oldest memorial of Christopher Columbus. In the fight for victimology, this makes as much sense as obese people taking umbrage at a statue of Ronald McDonald or Colonel Sanders for pushing their BMIs above 35.

In Australia we have an indigenous TV presenter who thinks that memorials to Captain James Cook, who discovered Terra Australis two and a half centuries ago, should be torn down because of the atrocities committed to the locals. Have the Jews, Gypsies and Roma demanded that memorials at Auschwitz, Birkenau, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and so on be razed to the ground to erase the memories of the millions of them that were gassed and systematically murdered? Not a chance. They view these monuments as a reminder of atrocities that happened in recent history. It isn’t about grievance. One sign in Auschwitz 1 reads, “the one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.”

The one group that stands above all else in favour of destroying monuments is ISIS. Think of their narrow minded actions to flatten the 2000 year history of Palmyra in Syria. Because of their own narrow minded corrupted fear of theological inferiority they want to rid the world of anything that challenges societies superior to their own. Even civilizations before Islam was even around.

However erasing history by removing monuments and pushing grievance based identity politics is the blood sport of the radical left. Take the two councils (Yarra and Darebin) in Melbourne who went out of their way to ask their own activist groups to rig polls to cancel Australia Day. Forgetting the 220,000 residents across the two cities, a handful of people who were bound to give the desired response were targeted. Even then it wasn’t a slam dunk. One mayor said they made the decision because their constituents are too ignorant of history so they were going to educate them without their opinion. When breaking down the composition of the councillors in these two cities we can’t be surprised. Both Greens led with a smattering of Labor, Socialist and left leaning independents. The perfect cocktail for the totalitarian.

Where local council remits are really to take care of rubbish collection and maintain parking meters, Yarra and Darebin told 99% of their rate payers to take a hike. The irony is that many Aboriginal leaders are pro Australia Day as a way to celebrate ‘inclusiveness’. Yarra and Darebin want to push for exclusiveness.

It begs the question, if the indigenous community is so outraged at the day the British invaded Australia in 1788 why haven’t the cities in the northern part of the country which have a far higher incidence of indigenous residents pushed for this? The reality is most embrace Australia Day. Many are more annoyed that people try to use their history as a political tool. Yet the identity politics brigade led by the Greens and other left wing radicals want Australians to feel ashamed of events they had no hand in, much less were around for, to fuel the victimology that no doubt supports their dwindling voter base. Pathetic.

What is disturbing is the wish to silence debate. We see it with same sex marriage (SSM). The lobbyists and activists are in full flight. The push to silence and vilify those who oppose it is disturbing. Whether one regards those in the ‘No’ camp as bigoted or homophobic is beside the point. They should be free to debate their arguments and beliefs without being physically attacked and threatened. Should hotels be forced to surrender business because activists want to bully them to deny groups from discussing opposing views? Did the pro-SSM groups look to compensate the hotel for the lost revenues suffered? Not on your life.

Do people have right to be concerned that putting SSM in the Marriage Act breaks down the idea of ‘traditional’ marriage which could lead to a similar sort of push for polygamy and acceptance of child brides down the line? Even if such views are overreactions does it warrant the Australia Post union refusing to post anti-SSM materials? If the anti-SSM groups wish to expend millions on a mail out (most likely to wind up in the bin) why does a deeply loss making government run service have any say in what they deliver provided it doesn’t endanger their physical health?

Indeed if people wish to back the rights of posties, then Qantas CEO Alan Joyce should refrain from using shareholder funds to ram his pro-SSM agenda down staff and passenger’s throats. To suggest ‘equality’ in a plebiscite over ‘equality’ only highlights how there is no intention from the pro camp to practice what it preaches.

It is not about the principle but the side. Alan Joyce fails to recognize that the ‘acceptance ring’ stunt earlier in the year was a terrible breach of free speech in the workplace. Some staff may support SSM but not wish to openly express their feelings by wearing the ring. Yet failure to visibly show one’s support could end in ostracism. An exemplary employee may face censure and see career progression stifled because they don’t wish to be overt in the causes they support. If these employees feel pressured to wear it they effectively become slaves of the bosses who force the agenda.

Switching to Canada, it was disappointing to see new Conservative leader Andrew Scheer bow down to the idea that it was acceptable for government run universities to decide on who could speak. The idea of a school that receives taxpayer funding be able to control ‘free speech’ shows the exact type of spineless surrender to identity politics. When universities go out of their way to shut down the very foundation of their existence – free thought – what hope have we got? Scheer should be a great comfort for Trudeau. Whereas former interim leader Rona Ambrose had the PM’s measure at every turn, Scheer looks like another Turnbull-esque liberal-lite conservative. To glibly submit to such an embarrassing affront to free speech what hope have the youth got to openly express their opinions?

Sadly the activists are winning the culture wars. Bit by bit, people are having their freedoms yanked from beneath them because governments are too afraid to ruffle the feathers of those that scream the loudest. This unilateral decisions making their way into schools which push sexual indoctrination, cross dressing and all manner of shaming masked as anti-bullying programs is further evidence of submission.

Is it any wonder why Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party continues to grow in popularity. While many abhor her brand of politics and stunts, her rise in the polls is simply down to saying what the conservatives won’t. Voters don’t want soft alternatives. No matter how much one might detest the constant shenanigans of the Trump administration, he won his ticket because Clinton was more of the same old brand of identity politics that failed to give a growing number of people hope. He was always an experiment but one more were willing to take.

The culture of victimhood needs to end. Most of what we are seeing is on the fringe. One wonders why politicians fear it as the norm. This interview was great food for thought on the subject of debunking senseless liberal virtue signaling.