Bannons Three Buckets

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In CPAC Steve Bannon provided the ideological background to the Trump administration in his three buckets. The topic has not generated much discussion which is surprising as you will rarely see the philosophy of the Trumpian wing of the GOP efficiently distilled into three bullet points as Bannon did.

Security and National Sovereignty 

When you discuss security the very first thing you go to is the defense budget and this is one of the priorities of the Trump administration. As things stand we are currently spending 4x what China is for defense, assuming that China is truthful in its public declarations which many analysts doubt. At first glance it looks like we are massively outspending our leading rival, yet this may not be true. Salaries of American personel dwarf those of their Chinese counterparts. In 2015 a US serviceman of enlisted rank would have been paid a minimum of 23k per year while a chinese leuitenant colonel would have been paid 6000 yuan a month or roughly 12k per year. Around half of the military budget is maintenance and operational costs. I don’t have any details of the chinese budget but the US military has many more comittments worldwide than China which leads to a higher portion of the budget being used for operations. While spending a fourth of the money it is very possible that China gets more men and materiel than America does.

The primary opponent for the military during the Trump administration is the terrorist states and organizations. We have already seen a remarkable paradigm shift in the way the Trump administration deals with terrorists as opposed to previous administrations. By conducting the Yemen raid the Trump administration has put terrorists on notice that they would no longer honor human shields that previous administrations did. The US has more than enough military power to defeat terrorists. The only thing lacking is the willpower to actually use it which the Trump team has shown that they have.

Lastly there will be a focus on reclaiming the independence of the United States from international institutions that chip away at our national sovereignty. The TPP withdrawal was a big first step as it had provisions which allowed for international courts to supercede the local elected representatives when the profits of the companies were in danger. A focus on bilateral trade agreements as opposed to complex multinational ones is important as well as it is far easier to suspend or cancel these argeements if they are no longer in our favor. Lastly withdrawal or reformation from international organizations that limit our options on a case to case basis of course.

Economic Nationalism

President Trump summed this point up perfectly in his speech to congress. He is the American president who works for American interest and not the global president who works for global interests.

First off no matter how much the left wants to confuse the two concepts nationalism is not isolationism and isolationism is not nationalism. Nationalism is simply doing what it best for your own countries national interest without any regard for ethics, morality , or any other artificial construct. Depending on the needs of the country the specific policies involved in this may actually change. In the time of President Reagan it was very nationalistic to pursue free trade. No other country had the industrial base to compete with America at that point in time so we had free reign to exploit the rest of the world. This is no longer the case as other countries have caught up with us so it ceases to be nationalistic.

At this point in time the Trump administration will be focusing on our various trade deals and tax reform. The way that the laws are structured makes it so that it is far more profitable to site your production facilities outside the country, not only that once those profits are realized our current laws make it more favorable to keep them outside the country than to repatriate them. Economic nationalism would make sure that the laws are set up to benefit our country and not others.

Economic nationalism also applies to employment. We currently have a system where it is far more beneficial for a company to hire illegal aliens as opposed to hiring citizens. We also have a system where it is better to replace local workers with h1-b imports while having the citizens train their replacements. Our employment system must benefit our citizens first.

Deconstruction

Bannon summarized this perfectly in CPAC. “When liberals cannot pass something they stick it in a regulation somewhere”. Out of all three buckets this is the ones liberals are actually most afraid of and why they never discuss this on its merits, instead fearmongering on the word “destruction”.

In the area of climate change Obama unilaterally entered into the Paris Accords. Under normal circumstances Obama would have had to have the senate ratify the treaty like other countries did, but since he knew they would not he entered into it as an executive agreement instead. When Cap and Trade failed to pass Obama put up the Clean power plan instead to bypass the legislature. This prompted Lawrence Tribe who actually argued for the democrats in Gore V Bush to equate this to burning the constitution. In the area of immigration reform Obama bypassed congress yet again to give lawful status to 4.3 million illegals. These are just some of the worst examples of overreach and there are dozens. Trump himself may end up passing a lot of executive orders in his term, mostly to reserve the orders of the previous administration.

Democrats are afraid to have all these taken away yet they do have the option to keep them. An option they always had but were too lazy to do. They can win elections and have them passed like Republicans do instead of relying on the courts and orders to bypass the elected branches of government.

The Case for Military Spending

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There is a common consensus that the US spends too much on the military. Today I want to point out that everything is not as simple as it seems and that there maybe a need to increase military spending. While it is true that in terms of hard numbers the US spends more than the next 7 countries combined things break down when we calculate it as a percentage of GDP. In that case Saudi Arabia (10.4%), Israel (5.2 %) and Russia (4.8%) all clock in higher than the US (3.5%). This is compounded by the fact that analysts don’t really believe the figures declared by China and Russia and think they spend more than they are showing.

Cost of Living

China and Russia get more bang out of their buck when spending in the military and that may not be a bad thing. Critics will say it is because of waste or inefficiency but it mostly has to do with the cost of living in the various countries. When you look at the military budget 25% is for wages. It is the second largest portion behind operation and maintenance at 43%. The simple fact is when you hire an American soldier he has higher standards that must be met than hiring a Chinese soldier. At a bare minimum you would be paying a salary 10 times what you would pay someone in China. This is actually a very generous comparison as in reality you would most likely be paying 15 to 20 times more. In plain english this means that if you were to give China and the US the same amount of money to spend on the military the Chinese army would be 20 times larger. In addition to the wages the US serviceman would most likely expect better food and facilities than their chinese counterparts. Recall that if the budget is the same the Chinese army would be 20 times larger. In 2014 the US budget was only 4 times that of China. In fact the easiest way to reduce military spending is to reduce the salary of US servicemen to equal that of the Chinese, yet if we do that the military may actually mutiny.

Cost of Equipment

Just as American soldiers cost more than their counterparts American equipment does as well. Any superpower strives to have their arms and equipment produced in country. America would like to have their planes built in the US and the Russians would like to have their planes built in Russia. The security reasons are obvious. If a war were to break out you would like to be sure that there would be no disruptions in your line of supply and if the country producing one of your parts were to go to war with you, you don’t want them to feed you defective products. The fact that some of our tank parts are only produced in Germany is actually a cause for concern in some circles.

This does mean we have to pay more for equipment that is almost the same quality. American workers cannot get by on the slave wages given to chinese or even Russian workers. This is not purely a bad thing as the wages to the workers and soldiers act as a local stimulus to their economies. Yet the point is still made that a bigger amount spent does not necessarily equate to more weapons or soldiers.

Historically Low

We are at a historically low point in military spending. During the term of President Reagan military spending was at around 6% and our military doctrine was win 2. At any point in time the US military was supposed to be able to win against 2 major powers at once most likely China and Russia. During the term of President Clinton the doctrine changed to win 1 hold 1. The military was supposed to be able to win one engagement while holding the line in the other. At this point in time we reduced our carrier battle groups from 15 to the 11 we have today and our active military from 3 million to 2.1 million. During the Bush years the strategy changed again to being able to maintain peace in 4 regions fight 2 engagements and win one. Lastly under Obama it changed to the various pivots with the military only focusing on one area at a time.

Under standard military doctrine equipment is supposed to have 30 year life cycles. To save money some equipment were retained even if they cost more to maintain. Some equipment used today was made in the 1950’s or 1960’s. The f-15’s were due to be replaced as well but due to costs were kept instead of upgrading to the f-20’s and now has increased maintainence costs. Even the popular a-10 warthog was supposed to be retired years ago but was kept past its expiration date.

Not all Bad

I am not definitively saying that military spending needs to be increased. It is just as simple as everyone makes it out to be. Aside from providing defense military spending also allows us to hire more soldiers which then spend the money in their local communities. Building more goods also allows us to redirect those new factories to districts in need which create good paying jobs for them. Aside from the military applications military spending is also a stimulus. Redirecting labor to soldiering also forces companies to compete more competitively for existing labor raising wages there.

The Future of the GOP

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Let me first begin by saying that a lead of three million in the national popular vote is meaningless. Instead of running one big election, the US runs 52 different presidential elections and plenty of other senatorial, congressional, and gubernatorial ones. As long as you can win those that is all that matters. While it is true that a larger lead gives you claim to a mandate the national popular vote is not the metric to use for it. I will discuss the argument for mandate in another post. If the system changes then my analysis will change as well but until it does I standby my analysis in the rest of this article.

Where does the GOP go from here? The data says that in order to win future presidential elections the GOP does not need to reach out to new voting blocks. Empirical data says that the GOP absorbed a new voting block this election. Democrats argue that Trump has already hit his peak with working class votes and needs to reach out to other demographics but the data does not bear this out. The data shows the GOP only needs to unite the two factions inside its party and their electoral future is assured. Does that mean the GOP should stop all future outreach? Of course not. You want a bigger majority to get your things passed anyway and there are some groups the GOP can make inroads in.

To prove the points made in the last paragraph i will be studying the Presidential and Senatorial race in Pennsylvania. Trump of course represents the new nationalist wing of the GOP and Toomey represents the standard GOP. I encourage everyone to check the conclusions I draw and apply it to other states and I am confident the same results will come out. We have three general geographical divisions in Pennsylvania and other areas, Rural, Suburban, and Urban.

In Rural areas you have the Trumpian wing of the GOP ascendant. We routinely see Trump outperforming Toomey by anywhere from 5-20%. Lets take a look at some counties

In Clinton County Trump got 10022 votes while Toomey only got 8702 votes. That is around 15% more votes that Toomey could get if the two wings were unified.

In Elk County Trump got 10025 votes while Toomey got 8703 votes. That is around 10% more votes that Toomey could get.

In Clearfield County Trump got 24932 votes while Toomey got 22128. That is around a 10% differential.

The added benefit of these rural counties is more than just more votes. They are also spread out all over the place. This means they have a greater impact in more congressional districts. More often than not these counties represent individual small towns as well each with their own elective positions. This gives a unified GOP a bigger bench to draw from.

In the Suburbs the standard GOP wing fares better as some voters have been stayed by the GOP civil war. Throughout the election there was story after story about how Trump would end up costing the GOP the presidency, house, and senate and there was the very public resistance movements led by Mcmullin, Romney, and others.

In Montgomery County Trump got 162,731 votes while Toomey got 189,574. That is at least 10% more votes Trump could have gotten.

In Bucks County Trump got 164,361 votes while Toomey got 175,898.

In the cities Republicans usually do dismally but the trend stays the same

In Philadelphia County Trump got 108,748 votes while Toomey got 116,714. Still around an 8% increase.

The good news for Trump in the suburban and urban areas is the old adage “victory covers a multitude of sins”. Conservatives who have abandoned Trump during the election because may now be willing to fall in line since he has a proven track record of victory.

For this next part I have to rely on polling and some educated guesses as I lack some hard numbers. According to exit polls Trump won 35% of urban voters and 50% of suburban ones. If we look at these numbers we see that just by unifying the different GOP factions he can get an additional 3-7% of these votes. The GOP candidates running downticket would be able to get an additional 5-6% of the rural vote share. Quantifying this is a bit harder as I cannot see any breakdown of number of voters who voted in urban, suburban, and rural areas. To be able to come up with some sort of number however I will use the census data that says 75% of Americans live in suburban and ubran areas while 25% live in rural areas and assume that that was the breakdown in turnout as well. Using this I can come up with a rough estimate of an additional 1.5m-3m votes Trump could have gotten if the GOP were unified behind him and Toomey would have gotten 80k to 100k more votes. A unified GOP would be more than enough to secure the presidency and more seats with its current coalition.

Regarding outreach. The democrats are in a position where they have to expand their voting base. If they do that they must take up new causes which may not be popular with their current coalition. In any case what Trump showed by poaching the labor class from the democrats is that the longer a group stays in a coaliton and the more secure the party it is on it then the more its issues are taken for granted. Using this theory the GOP should go after the staunchest democrat constituencies. According to polling that would be the African Americans who vote democrat 90% of the time and the Jews which vote 70% of the time. As luck would have it Israel presents a perfect issue to woo these voters with and Trump is already trying to charm the African American voters non-stop. In fact I predict that the Flint Water Crisis will be solved or on the way to being solved within his first 100 days.

If the GOP follows these suggestions 2018 and 2020 should be won with no problems.

Demonization Works

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Let me begin with my central thesis. Demonization is a valid and effective tool in changing the behavior of a given person or group. In this case speaking of Muslims. Whenever a terrorist attack happens leftist commentators inevitably point out that if it is a white person who is caught he would be declared a lone wolf, but if it were an Islamic person the blame would spread to the entire religion. They then proceed to point out how evil the right is for doing this and how counterproductive it is. Of course no mention as to how the terrorists are almost always Muslims but we will get to that later.

First off I want to show how collective punishment does work to change behavior. If you have ever been in the military or any similar institution you may remember the entire platoon being forced to run or do push-ups or given extra duties for the infractions of a few. The result is the members of the group try to get less infractions so that their unit gets punished less.

In the Philippines, India, and other third world countries there are community lending programs which lend to a group instead of an individual. Each member of the group would get their individual loans and each would be responsible for paying it back. If one member failed to repay their loan then the entire group would be punished by getting denied loans in the future. The result is that the group members themselves, often from the same community and in some cases the same family pressured the members to pay on behalf of the bank and there was a higher repayment rate. The funds ended up being used for business as well as there was an extra consequence of squandering it.

Consider North Carolina in America. The Governor did something the left did not agree with and businesses punished the state. This of course punished the workers for the actions of the state. As a result the state rescinded the laws and it sent a chilling effect to other states.

The liberal media attempts it all the time as well. You see headlines saying a certain survey shows all Trump voters are racist, all republicans are uneducated, and every other possible variation to imply that if you vote democrat then you are a great person but if you vote republican you are a terrible one. These are of course the very same people who tell us that demonization does not work.

Back to Islam. If you see a terrorist attack or mass murder on tv and think that a muslim did it you would be justified in thinking so. In 2015 99% of all terrorist attacks were done by Muslims. We only have 2 isolated incidents aside from that done by communist extremists. To make it worse there is no isolated sect of Islam responsible for the bombings. Both Sunni’s and Shia’s have groups which do it. Even joining Islam does not save you as half the targets of the suicide bombings are fellow muslims. As you can see there is something seriously wrong with Islamic ideology so much so that even when you give the entire world to them one half would still try to kill the other for religious reasons.

I always say that if I walk down elm street and get mugged every day I would be justified in having negative stereotypes of elm street and everyone living there. No one would complain if I reroute to another street particularly if I don’t get mugged there every day. The same analogy applies to terrorism and Islam.

What do we want to achieve by doing this? The first and best result would always be to wean its followers away from Islam. This hurts the terrorists the most as while they believe in Islam they also use its moderates as a shield to prevent the authorities from clamping down harder on them. The less adherents of Islam there is the weaker terrorists become as they have less places to hide. The next thing we want to achieve is to turn the moderates of Islam against the extremists. It has been reported that most radicalization occurs in mosques and other areas populated almost exclusively by Muslims. Showing the moderates that they are in a way tainted by association with the extremists would encourage them to turn them in more and to counsel against radicalization. Lastly we also hope that the extremists themselvess see that the reputation of Islam as a whole is suffering because of them.

Do not feel guilty for holding Islam accountable because of the actions of its followers. Remember the people who justify the suicide bombings are among those who have studied the Quran the longest. Pointing out the flaws of the religion may be the only thing that can save it, if indeed it can be saved.

The Nationalist Case for Supporting Israel

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The case is simple and can be summed up in one sentence. America should support Israel because they have a positive view of America and are longstanding Allies.

In the Israeli conflict we have two sides. The Palestinians who are at the very least affiliated with some jihadis who actively hate America and have no relations with us and Israel. In 2015 81% of Israelis viewed America positively and  Israel has been an American ally for the longest time.

The rationale is simple. We want to encourage more countries to be longstanding allies and to view America favorably and we want to punish countries who don’t so we can encourage the desired behavior from them. Does it mean that we should always blindly support our allies? Of course not. However the presumption of support must be given to our allies and that presumption must be stronger the longer the alliance lasts. For example if we had a new ally who was borderline in support towards us then a 60/40 case would be sufficient for us to consider the other side. For a longer ally like Britain or Israel a 70/30 or 80/20 case should be considered. In the case of Israel and Palestine, while both sides have valid arguments, they are close enough that our presumption should remain with Israel.

The counter argument is of course, would we not alienate more countries like Palestine in our quest to reward our allies? The answer is no. If we apply this consistently then nations will see there is a tangible benefit to becoming a long-term American ally and to popularize America with its population instead of demonizing it. For instance countries like the Philippines which love America should get much more foreign aid than Afghanistan or other Middle Eastern countries that hate it.

The reward MUST come after the change in behavior and not before. When you discipline a child do you reward him before he does the right thing? Or do you reward him after he gets good grades, does his homework, or a host of other things? The end result of this method of foreign policy should be an international community competing to who can be the best, most cooperative ally to be assured of US support. It is not a novel concept either. Supporting your allies and punishing your enemies have been around since ancient times. In fact the chinese have a saying “Do not trample over your old friends in your rush to make new”.

At the end of the day the issue itself is only tangential to how our decision is to be made. Unless the case is absurdly one-sided, which it is not in this case, then we must stand with our allies so we can create new allies in the future.

Make America Great Again

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Words that have changed the political landscape of the country. Words that Donald Trump made into the central platform of his run for the Presidency and is the reason why he has ignited the movement that has won the Republican primary for a fraction of the cost of what anyone else has spent. The words carry with it an assessment and a promise. It says that we have lost our way as a country and are heading down the wrong path. It says that there is still time to change direction to get back the greatness that we have lost.

The Trap

The first question people who are critical of Trump will always ask is what time did you want to return the world too? Of course every single time in history had its dark moments and that is what they will focus on. If you answer the 1920’s instead of a time of prosperity they will say a time when women were kept in the kitchens. If you answer the 1950’s instead of a time when the war is over and a boom created more jobs they will say a time when blacks were discriminated against. Any point in history will have its good and bad points so the key is not in a specific time but in the direction of the country.

The Answer

The answer is simple. To steal Bernie Sanders words To make America great again we have to return America to a time when we had a future to believe in. That optimism is the time when America was great.

Security

There was a time when we had peace. The second World War lasted 5 long years, but afterwards we had peace. America had no major conflicts and everyone got used to living a life of boring normalcy. Today we have a generation who will have lived their entire adult life in a state of war. We have a generation for whom it is normal to endure 5-10 terrorist attacks per year like Paris, Brussels, and now Orlando. We remember a time when we would mourn an attack like that and put steps to stop it, instead of mourning attack after attack after attack in an endless circle of misery.

We have been fighting the war on terror for 15 years. We are still using the same tactics when we started the war as we are now. It would be different if someone were to tell us that we are using the same tactics but the war should be over in 5 years so we can look forward to a time of peace. But no. The people who want to continue the status quo say that we are nowhere near the end and the war could take generations more to complete. We are given a future of terror attack after terror attack.

Economy

There was a time when you had stability and a chance to advance provided you did the work. There was a time when you had hope that because of all your sacrifices your children would live a better life than you did. You would see different manufacturing, service, and technology jobs pop up all over the United States and were secure in the fact that your country would prioritize your well-being over the well being of the rest of the world. They would make sure that their citizens, who put their faith and votes in them, would be given every opportunity to succeed.

Instead we are told that these jobs are no longer coming back. America is too expensive to manufacture in therefore jobs must be sent abroad. Americans are too expensive to hire for construction, farm work, and service jobs therefore illegals must be imported to do them. Americans are too dumb to ever learn the secrets of programming and other skilled work therefore we must import foreign nationals with H-1B visas to get the jobs done. We are told America is too weak to negotiate better deals with Mexico, China, or any other country. We are told that if we attempt to do this they will cause our fragile economy to collapse. We are told that our future is one of financial ruin where our paychecks are taken by credit card and student loan debt. We are given a future where we must race to the bottom to compete with other countries.

Foreign Policy

There was a time when we knew we could count on our allies if we ever needed to. We knew our allies would take their share of the load and not count the cost because it would have been to their interest as well. We knew could count on our allies in Russia to sacrifice the lives of millions of its brave soldiers to stall the German advance. We knew we could count on the heroism of our friends in Britain to keep the Germans at bay and their democracy intact. We knew that if we went into battle with them our friends would do everything in their power to make sure that our side came out on top.

Today we are told that we cannot do this. We cannot dare ask Germany, France, and other prosperous NATO countries to live up to their treaty obligations as they would abandon us if we do. We cannot dare ask Japan or South Korea to help contain threats in the pacific as they would then threaten us themselves. We are told that Russia must always be the enemy and no cooperation is possible. We are told that our future is one where we take the entire burden of the world upon our shoulders while our allies look after their own interests.

Final Thoughts

These are just three topics I chose to discuss but it is the same for everywhere. Remember when you are asked “When was America Great?” the answer is “America will be Great Again when we have a future to believe in.”

Trumplican View: Interventionism

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There has been some talk about the contradictions inherent in the Trumplican view on interventionism. Some people think that Trump contradicts himself every time he speaks on it. On the one hand he says that we should let Russia help fight against ISIS and that we should be more non-interventionist in other conflicts. On the other hand he says that we should kill the families of ISIS , be more indiscriminate in bombing, and loosen up the rules of engagement. Going so far as to say the Geneva Convention may be hindering us in the fight against ISIS.

In this article I would like to show that everything I just mentioned in the paragraph above is all part of one philosophy.

THE TRUMPLICAN STANCE

The Trumplican stance is that the natural state of things should be peace. It may be strange to some people given that there will be an entire generation who grew up when the country is in a state of war but there it is. Peace should be the norm and we must do everything we can to resist moving away from it. If we should move away from peace then everything must be done to return to peace as fast as we possibly can.

Let us look at it in a more practical manner. In the Trumplican view the first weapon is always economic. That is how we can make sure we stay in peace and bring the other nations to the bargaining table. Whether it is with China, Mexico, or simply talking to North Korea we use trade to come to mutually agreeable terms with them in which the US is not disadvantaged.

If there is a breakdown in that area and war is declared such as in ISIS, everything must be done to get back to peace as fast as possible. I think we can all agree that non-interventionism in the case of ISIS is no longer an option. Therefore we use every method available to beat them as fast as possible. If that involves letting Russian troops fight alongside American ones or in their own conflict zone then so be it.If that involves killing the families of ISIS members to break their will or making sure that they can no longer use human shields by loosening the rules of engagement then that is fine too. America gets into trouble when she stays in a prolonged conflict to bring democracy to an area. In war the Trumplican view is to get in, accomplish the objective, and get out as fast as we possibly can.

THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY

I have shown today how the Trumplican philosophy of interventionism is consistent with itself. You may agree or disagree with it but it is consistent. The most important question is how does it translate to policy during a Trump presidency?

A President Trump will be harder to bring to war than any other candidate, however once a war is there a President Trump will pursue it more viciously than any other candidate to end the conflict as fast as he possibly can.

Overall I believe this is a better approach as getting the war over and done with as fast as possible reduces casualties overall and let’s both sides resume their lives as fast as possible. Getting stuck in a quagmire for decades because you are unwilling to do what needs to be done is just unproductive.