Daily Recap — July 24

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

— Anonymous


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YOUR MOVE, CHINA

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The tit-for-tat with our main global competitors in China is being taken to a whole new level, courtesy of The Donald.

The administration announced today it will provide $12 billion in emergency relief to ease the pain of American farmers slammed by PDT’s escalating trade disputes with China and other countries. The Agriculture Department said the money come from an existing program to provide billions in direct payments to farmers and ranchers hurt by foreign retaliation to Trump’s tariffs.

Notice that I inform my reading audience of where the money will come from in the first few sentences. That’s because I have a mostly conservative audience. 

But I digress.


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Agriculture officials said they would not need congressional approval and the money would come through the Commodity Credit Corporation, a wing of the department that addresses agricultural prices.

The officials said payments couldn’t be calculated until after harvests come in. Brad Karmen, the USDA’s assistant deputy administrator for farm programs, noted that the wheat harvest is already in, so wheat farmers could get payments sooner than other growers.

Soybeans are likely to be the largest sector affected by the programs. Soybean prices have plunged 18% in the past two months amid all the talk of trade wars.

The program is expected to start taking effect around Labor Day. In addition to soybeans, the payments could help producers of sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and farmers raising hogs.


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THE GOP IS A BIT AGITATED:

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Predictably, the GOP establishment is pushing back.

“I want to know what we’re going to say to the automobile manufacturers and the petrochemical manufacturers and all the other people who are being hurt by tariffs,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who has always been much better at leading the peanut gallery than actually accomplishing anything. “You’ve got to treat everybody the same.”

Constant PDT critic Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), said the plan would spend billions on “gold crutches,” adding, “America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose — they want to win by feeding the world. This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”

You’ve used that line before, Sasse. It’s not nearly as clever as you think. And no, your mom’s opinion doesn’t count.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) said the proposal was raised a month ago when senators visited the White House for a broad discussion on trade. He said the lawmakers told the president “that our farmers want markets, and not really a payment from government, adding, ‘I’m surprised, I’ve never heard of anybody who didn’t want a payment from government.'”

Liddle Bob Corker (Munchkin – TN) said the tariffs “are a massive tax increase on American consumers and businesses, and instead of offering welfare to farmers to solve a problem they themselves created, the administration should reverse course and end this incoherent policy.”

Author’s note: I’ll make it coherent for everyone by the end of this piece so that you all have a leg up on Liddle Bob.

Sen. Charles Grassley, whose family operates a farm in eastern Iowa, said the administration’s move was “encouraging for the short term” but farmers needed “markets and opportunity, not government handouts.”

Fair point.


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SO WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?

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Before we dive in here, let’s acknowledge that the concerns of tariff critics aren’t without merit. Tariffs are taxes on imports. They are meant to protect domestic businesses and put foreign competitors at a disadvantage, but often don’t work that way. They also exact a toll on U.S. businesses and consumers, which pay more for imported products. Just as with any other tax, the price is ultimately paid by the consumer.

The problem with free trade ideologues, though, is they assume a level playing field. If PDT had inherited a world of free trade, I’d be the first one stomping my feet and asking what the hell he’s doing screwing up our economy. That’s not the case, though. Not even close.

Republicans like Sasse and Corker seem to have forgotten that there are two sides to this equation, and one side has gotten away with murder for the last few decades, thanks to the spinelessness of politicians like themselves. PDT inherited a #BigFatMess in our trade relations with China and thus has been forced to play hardball if we’re to have any hope of setting things straight.

With that big picture in mind, let’s explore the motives behind this latest action.


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There are two leading hypotheses as to the reason PDT made this move. The first is the camp in which I typically find myself; the one suspecting cynical political motives. While not shiny and happy, it tends to be correct a large percentage of the time. 

In this case, it would be all about the midterms. The administration is right to be concerned about damage to U.S. farmers from trade tariffs and the potential for losing House and Senate seats in the Midwest and elsewhere. Nothing shapes political opinions like one’s pocketbook, and if farmers can’t sell their harvest due to a failure by D.C. to get a trade deal stamped out, there’s no doubt there will be political consequences. While the extent of those consequences can’t be precisely known, that there will be consequences of some sort is without question.

The problem with that hypothesis, however, is that Trump is anything but your typical politician. While he is indeed shrewd and, frankly, masterful in the art of political expedience, anyone who’s studied his politics since the early 80’s knows that he has a vision when it comes to trade, and the first steps in said vision is to exact the retribution our politicians had been too weak to dole out up to now.

So while the actions of politicians can often be explained with, well, politics, the timing of midterms is likely more incidental than anything. PDT didn’t just roll out of bed deciding to go to trade war with China. He’s been planning it for nearly 40 years. 


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Now for my second, likely more accurate hypothesis: he’s playing the long game.

By that, I mean he’s willing to absorb short-term pain in order to achieve his long-term objective, which is to punish China into submission and ultimately bring them to the table for a more equitable trade deal.

The logic is pretty simple. PDT wants China to know that they need us more than we need them, and that while we may absorb some damage, their economy could implode altogether. And #BelieveMe, despite their bluster, they know it.

PDT has threatened to place penalty taxes on up to $500 billion in products imported from China. The administration has started by slapping tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing’s high-tech industrial policies. China, in turn, has retaliated with duties on soybeans and pork, affecting Midwest farmers in a region that went heavily for Trump in 2016.

This latest move isn’t a mere “welfare program,” as so cynically dubbed by our Swamp leaders. It’s a logical step in the larger strategy of outlasting the Chinese. The problem with the establishment GOP is they’re utterly incapable of putting themselves in our enemies’ shoes, mostly because they’ve never been in an actual fight.

But that’s ok because good ol’ Trey is here to explain it to them. You see, those retaliatory tariffs are perhaps the most potent weapon the Chinese have. When they were levied, I imagine the Chinese were smiling ear to ear, thinking they’d done something clever. And with any other POTUS at the helm, it likely would’ve been. If you want to scare a politician straight, mess with his reelection chances. That’s exactly what China is attempting to do with tariffs targeted in the Midwest.

It’s my opinion that these subsidies are meant to be a short-term relief not only to help out our farmers during a tumultuous time, but just as importantly to show the Chinese that we have the power to mitigate the effects of their retaliatory tariffs. That sort of thing has the capacity to take the wind out an enemy’s sails.

PDT wants them to know that not only can he can defend against their most potent weapon, but that he can do it without the spineless Congress they’ve come to depend on.


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If you’d like a second opinion, we can listen to the administration themselves:

“This is a short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration the time to work on long-term trade deals,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, arguing that the plan was not a “bailout” of the nation’s farmers.

That’s one way of putting it. Another way of putting it is “we’re showing the Chinese that their counterstrike won’t work and they may as well come to the table and get it over with.”

Then there is PDT, who today indicated that it’s all about the long game:

“We’re making tremendous progress. They’re all coming. They don’t want to have those tariffs put on them,” Trump told the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention. “We’re opening up markets. You watch what’s going to happen. Just be a little patient.”

Patience. What a novel concept in a reactionary world.


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BIG PICTURE:

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It’s true that the Trump trade policy is by no means conservative in the traditional sense of the word. But sometimes problems require out-of-the-box thinking.

I’m a conservative guy. I want conservative solutions. However, I also understand that to get there — to reach an actual free trade relationship — we may have to fight a little dirty. The truth is, if China came to the table right now and agreed to an actual free trade relationship, those tariffs would go away overnight. 

If guys like Sasse, Corker and Kennedy have a better idea to straighten out China, let’s hear it. Up to now, I’ve heard little more than dogmatic expressions of ivory tower conservatism. While I wish we lived in a world where our global competitors subscribed to Milton Friedman economics, the simple fact is we don’t.

And platitudes from Marco Rubio won’t get us there.

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ROCKET MAN WAKING UP?

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Recently, I wrote a piece expressing the need for PDT to re-insert his foot into Rocket Man’s 4th point of contact. Given the timing of this latest news, I’m beginning to think he agreed.

According to a recent IMINT (satellite imagery intelligence) analysis, Rocket Man, Inc. has taken the first steps towards honoring its commitment to nuclear disarmament by starting to dismantle its main missile-engine test site.

Pictures from the 38 North thinktank show the engine test stand at the Sohae satellite launching station being taken apart. The work appears to have started at some point in the past two weeks, after the last visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Pompeo.

North Korea has also started dismantling a rail-mounted building at Sohae where workers assembled space launch vehicles before moving them to the launchpad.

The 38 North analysis is based on a comparison of satellite photos taken on Friday and Sunday. The site is labeled below:

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Last Friday, Pompeo complained to the UN security council that North Korea was evading oil sanctions by running covert ship-to-ship transfers. He insisted no sanctions should or would be lifted until complete, verifiable disarmament had taken place. Pompeo has been expressing frustration with the regime as of late, while also calling for patience.

There has also been high-level chatter that China had discouraged North Korea from sticking to nuclear disarmament commitments made at the summit as part of its pushback on U.S. tariffs. Poor Lil Kim. One day he’s got Pompeo breathing down his neck, the next China. And round and round it seems to go.


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The satellite image analysis leaves it unclear whether North Korea planned to demolish the entire Sohae site, which has been vital to its space program. If you’re wondering what a space program has to do with anything, it’s simple. They launch GPS satellites to guide intercontinental ballistic missiles; the same missiles that can deliver a nuclear payload to anywhere in our country.

It’s kind of a big deal.

Other important facilities such as fuel bunkers, a main assembly building and the gantry tower appear untouched.


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BIG PICTURE:

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If Rocket Man wants economic sanctions lifted — and he does — then he’s going to have to continue showing demonstrable progress. He’s already in a huff with South Korean president Moonlight Inn about working toward that end.

Moonlight, being the leftwing weaking he is, has been begging the Trump administration to make an exception that would allow the South to increase trade with the North. If PDT had given in, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether we’d have this good news today. Knowing North Korean history, I’m leaning toward a #BigFat NO.

Stay strong with these commies, PDT. You can prove the haters wrong. 

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MAXINE REAPS WHAT SHE’S SOWED

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One is never too old to learn the basic lessons of life. Especially when one is dumb as a bag of hammers.

The Los Angeles office of Mad Maxine Waters was reportedly evacuated today after receiving a package labeled “anthrax.”

Because you know, terrorists always label their packages accordingly. I know our soldiers are always grateful for the Taliban putting up signs that read “IED 300 meters ahead.”

Unfortunately, no matter how comical the threat, police and a hazardous materials teams must take them seriously and thus were dispatched to Waters’s field office to investigate the package.


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In addition to receiving conveniently labeled biological weaponry, Waters had to cancel a pair of public events earlier this month after she said she received a “very serious death threat.”

She said she received said threats after her remarks in June about confronting Trump administration officials in public.
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“I know that there are those who are talking about censuring me, talking about kicking me out of Congress, talking about shooting me, talking about hanging me,” Waters said last month. “All I have to say is this: if you shoot me, you better shoot straight.”

“I have no sympathy for these people that are in this administration who know it is wrong what they’re doing on so many fronts but they tend to not want to confront this president,” she added. 

“For these members of his Cabinet who remain and try to defend him they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store. The people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest.” 

Well then you’ll have to excuse me if I struggle to produce any sympathy for Mrs. Waters.


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Just last week, the patriotic group known as the Oath Keepers planned to gather for a protest against Waters outside her office, but they never showed up after threats of rioting and violence ensued. So-called “counter-protestors” gathered outside the office instead, burning the American flag and reminding everyone just what the modern Democrat base looks like.

“While most of those counter-protesters remained peaceful, I have learned that there were others in attendance who were not necessary from the 43rd District, but who nevertheless participated as counter-porters not so much in support of me, but to seek press attention in furtherance of their own agendas,” Waters said in a statement last Wednesday.

“While I do not agree with torching the flag as a form of protest, I understand the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to this form of free expression,” she added.


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BIG PICTURE:

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No, I don’t condone death threats against anyone, especially ladies. But I will say this: If you put it out there, don’t act dumbfounded when it comes back to you.

She’s spent the last 2 years bashing PDT in the most despicable of ways and even made public calls to confront Trump officials.

Am I going to lose any sleep because Maxine might lose some of her own?

Frankly, no. Perhaps all this tension will finally teach that old dog a new trick: civility.

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