How can Donald Trump stand before a stack of crushed metal, ready to be recycled, and attack the foundations of GOP trade policy? Doesn’t he know about the vaunted GOP consensus on trade? And how can Byron York – that muckracking sensationalist who only appears to be an independent, highly respected, conservative journalist – point out that there is a part of the Republican Party that has trended more towards protectionism? As in the policy platforms of Huckabee, Santorum, and you betcha, Pat Buchanan back when.

The Trade Olympians from their summits – of the rhetorical kind and of the high-profile gatherings in expensive retreats kind – insist on the depth and breadth of the trade consensus. And they have the rigor of orthodox economic theory on their side. Yes, the Chinese dump steel and drive American steel producers out of business. But any American manufacturer that uses steel – from dishwashers to combines to a wide array of capital goods – benefit from all that low-priced steel flowing across the Pacific Ocean into North America.

Of course the Trade Olympians also have orthodox advice for all those unemployed steel workers. Re-train! Re-educate! Work smarter! Which usually means adapting to high tech replacing an increasing percentage of lower-skilled or medium-skilled jobs. Aside from the fact that many steel workers are, in fact, highly skilled labor, the re-training mantra is often nothing more than a path to a job at a call center. If you’re willing to move to another town and take a pay cut.

But the Trade Olympians are wasting their time with Trump. Even if he was one of theirs a few years ago. No, the Trade Olympians need to look at their true ally, Hillary Clinton.

For example, as a result of a Citizens United lawsuit, a federal judge has demanded the records of at least 14 of Hillary’s overseas trips with the intention of seeing if meetings with donors and associates linked with the Clinton Foundation were left off of the then Secretary of State’s official agenda.

For example, in lively Dublin, did Hillary meet with executives of Teneo – a consulting company with tentacles around the globe that deals “exclusively” with top corporate executives? Teneo helps said movers and shakers deal with financial, reputational, and transformational challenges. In other words, when you need to slash jobs and outsource production, and workers and voters are mad at you, call Teneo! Teneo’s founders have close ties to the Clintons and many worked for them in Washington and abroad. And you also get people like Vice-Chairman – who was formerly the Head of Strategic Re-engineering at JP Morgan Chase.

Teneo and closely related firms like FTI Consulting and BC Partners are the Trade Olympians in action! And ok. Yes. They are talented, educated, supremely ambitious technocrats who specialize in guiding corporations through the maze of current regulation. They are also the Compliance Daemons: half-Trade-Olympian, half-well-paid wonk. They are to be found in the large financial centers like London, Zurich, Hong Kong, and NYC and in their slightly envious smaller cousins like Melbourne, Sydney and Toronto.

If the Trade Olympians have their way, the Compliance Daemons will continue to tweak and bend and guide your local manufacturing company on how to achieve strategic goals by smart re-engineering to survive the shifting currents of the global bazaar and it’s endless rules and regulations – all in the service of free trade. Creative destruction: with the destruction in your town, and the well-paid creativeness somewhere in an office far away. A long way away from steel workers in Pennsylvania and coal miners in West Virginia. And from most manufacturing skilled workers – whether high, medium, or low. Ask the tech workers in California who had to train their South Asian replacements.

So no, Trump is no longer a Trade Olympian – if he ever truly was one. And those toiling closer to sea-level rather than up at the summits of Davos, don’t mind at all. But remember, the deities of Mount Olympus could be vindictive, cruel, capricious, and vengeful. And their economic descendants – like those of Olympus – have their hands on the levers of much of the world’s economy. Let’s hope they remain economic – that is practical and jobs-focused – rather than vengeful and capricious as they confront Trump on trade.

While anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List were loud and clear in expressing why the Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt shows how important this year’s elections are, the GOP leadership has been silent so far. Clearly, preserving the Senate seems more important than preserving the right to life for McConnell and colleagues.

For example, Senator Mark Kirk – who faces a very tough re-election battle in Illinois – actually came out in favor of the 5-3 ruling. Whether this is a case of Kirk being honest about his own personal convictions, or whether it is a desperate attempt to appease pro-choice voters in his state is for the senator to say.

What this does show, however, is that the GOP Senate majority’s refusal to give Obama’s nominee to fill Scalia’s seat – Merrick Garland – a hearing and an up or down vote does make tactical sense. It’s as if the GOP has decided that yet another angry scuffle over abortion is not something they want to parade all over the media.

Or maybe they’re concerned about Trump’s position and are lining up Mr. Bigly Duck with their own flock. And are keeping relatively quiet until the ducks are waddling in tune.

But this is tactical quibbling. The issue at hand goes beyond the current decision. This is really about what kind of Supreme Court America will have over the next decade or two. And with Trump’s numbers sagging recently, maybe the GOP feels that it’s best to keep the senate GOP majority, if possible, and hope Trump manages to recover in the polls. Or that Hillary and her ever-present server scandal finally blow up big time and give Trump an opening to pull ahead.

But this raises a question. If McConnell and company are essentially trying to preserve a senate majority and ensure their house majority remains relatively robust, shouldn’t they stake their ground on the abortion issue in clear terms? Because either:

  • They’ve given up on the presidency and that means Hillary in the White House and at the very least one Justice appointed by a Clinton administration.
  • Or, you use this ruling to show why the GOP must avoid a Hillary White House at all costs. That means, yes, fully supporting Trump.

Or there’s another reason. Have the GOP essentially handed victory to pro-abortion groups? Have they looked at the polling and the enormous importance of female voters in any election in America, and decided not to fight the issue beyond some tactical resistance? Assuming, on a tactical level, that’s an accurate read of women voters.

That hopefully is an exaggeration. Right now the GOP is deeply divided and trying to save it’s Congressional majorities. We’ll have to wait and see what members of Congress do and say regarding this SCOTUS ruling over the coming days and weeks.

Did anyone notice? Just briefly? Yes, Donald Rumsfeld the former Secretary of Defense who would have reformed America’s military into a slim, high-tech-no-boots-on-the-ground, fighting force has endorsed Trump. As in admitting that Hillary is not an option he could condone.

But amid the now-ended Grand New Sit-in, and all it’s singing, shouting, and texting, there was some recent noise elsewhere. And it unlike the GNS-i, had to do with Rumfeld’s choice of candidate, Trump himself.

In the heart of Gotham City itself, a coalition of Christian leaders and activists heartily responded to Donald Trump’s speech, interrupting him various times with applause. But there is a deep split in the evangelical community over whether to endorse, or actively oppose, Trump.

Call it the pragmatists – led by Ralph Reed – versus the ideologues. With Michael Farris – a longtime Christian leader – calling the meeting with Trump in NYC the end of the Christian Right. He stated that the premise of the Moral Majority was to only support candidates with a Biblical worldview and of good character. Which presidential candidate in the past 50 years can truly claim he – or in 2016, she – is up to those standards?

But yes, Trump is as hedonistic a candidate as we have seen. Maybe more honest than most, seeing he can be a shameless self-promoter. But nowhere near the character profile that a Michael Farris demands of someone running for high office.

Ralph Reed, and others also cheering Trump at the meeting, like James Dobson, believe that Trump will nominate conservative Supreme Court Justices and will push back at the Obama/secular state’s policy of steadily eroding Christian speech in the public square. It’s a realpolitik approach that raises the question of whether Trump’s character and past positions on issues like abortion means he can be depended on to defend Christian speech in America.

It’s a choice between a righteous candidate that does not currently exist, nor will likely exist in this election, and a hopefully powerful candidate who may – hopefully – be trustworthy. And in both cases evangelicals will be on the outside: hoping that the White House gets it right in the case of Reed and Dobson; or condemning both parties’ presidential candidates and despairing for the country’s future.

Is Innovation with a capital I an absolute good? And for who? Seeing that ecological modeling has been applied in Game Theory for a few decades now, as well as in Evolutionary Psychology, how about modeling innovation as a vaccine. And what is a vaccine if not a small dose of a virus?

Of course innovation is a virus, isn’t it? And just as we don’t go injecting ourselves with every latest pandemic just to see what it would do to our immune systems, could it be that some discretion and discrimination with respect to any given innovation is not a bad thing? You aren’t a neo-Luddite if you ask about the dangers of Jumbo-sized Drones carrying your entire family across the Atlantic, for example.

But there is a high-priesthood of innovation that snarls and hisses at any attempt to curtail their thought experiments made into goo, or plastic, or metal. You’re a truck driver following that long white line? Worried about driverless cars and trucks? Who cares, statistically speaking you are a (somewhat) aging cohort who will fade away, like the organs of the state in, say, the Soviet Union.

You’re a parent worried about the lack of background checks on Uber drivers, seeing your daughter takes taxis or Ubers to and from soccer practice? Don’t be a Luddite! It’s all good! All innovation is great! And you’re just dumb, middle class parents anyway, so shut up.

Ah, but if you’re someone who enjoys a little recreational sailing in a third-hand boat you picked up at a bargain and lovingly refinished in your driveway over an 18-month period. Driving your family crazy. You know what’s coming? Unmanned ships, brought to your harbor by the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) initiative. With Rolls Royce as a big promoter and potential benefactor. The goal? Get rid of all those expensive and unsightly crew members. Less space needed and less human-centric systems to house in your new AAWA-ready ship. And more cargo space.

Imagine. Some operator in England or Hong Kong or Bangalore misses a keystroke and the enormous cargo ship entering Chesapeake Bay increases rather than decreases speed as you try to get your beloved little sailboat the heck out of it’s way. The operator realizes his error and shifts course – right into you and your boat. One less neo-Luddite crowding up our not-yet-smart-enough planet.

We are at the stage where a reasonably careful consideration of each major innovation’s benefits and costs to society – that means people by the way – is undertaken. By legislatures and courts. There will continue to be many innovations that are a net positive. But let’s at least allow – through the courts or the legislature – them the opportunity to show they’re worth the risks if they are clearly going to disrupt society in a major way. Call me a Luddite? Think that it’s overworked, distracted, texting drivers, operators, pilots etc. who are the real problem? Careful for what you wish.

Washington gridlock, so denounced across the nation and especially in D.C. itself, is sometimes unavoidable. Consider two proposals to deal with how to keep guns from the hands of terrorists. At stake is due process and the second, as well as the fourth and fifth amendments. Also at stake is the security of America’s citizens and residents.

This is not an easy problem to solve, precisely because of the checks and balances in America’s Constitution. Yes, the White House could, in some theoretical dystopia, pass executive orders superseding the Legislature and the Courts and round up every gun of every law-abiding citizen and resident in America. Basically ending the American Republic. And it still wouldn’t stop a potential terrorist from acquiring weapons on the black market – which would thrive under such a dystopia. What it would do would be to render individual, law-abiding citizens as helpless and vulnerable petitioners before a distant all-powerful Executive.

In other words, gun-control absolutists: be careful what you wish for. Because having disarmed the citizenry, and ignored the legislature and the courts, the executive is free to order, in executive fashion, as they see fit.

Yes, the second amendment is not just about hunting and target practice. It’s about ensuring that the people are capable of defending themselves from any attempted usurpation of their rights. That’s why, after the 1st amendment which defends freedom of thought and speech, you next have the 2nd amendment. This is not some archaic, rustic nod to state militias. It’s a necessary precondition to ensuring that the contract between individual states and the federal government is respected by the federal government. And by all government levels, federal, state, and local.

How do you ensure this without having an armed citizenry on constant orange alert? Due process of law, as established by the constitution and by the state constitutions, state legislatures, and local and higher courts.

When the NRA and the ACLU are both against a proposed amendment that would dispense with due process,and is based on “error-prone watch lists”, you know that the Collins-Heitkamp measure is something not to be rushed into. Or even voted for. Proposals from Cornyn and now Johnson instead insist on convincing a judge that you should deny someone the chance to purchase a gun. And delay the sale until a judge clears or bans it.

This is the heart of the Constitution that is being debated in the Senate. The constitution that created the American Republic and the freedoms – some long-delayed and hard-fought but gained never-the-less – which allow an astonishingly and not necessarily conflictive citizenry to live lives unimagined by earlier generations. But the imaginings of the Founding Fathers made these gains possible, and sustainable in as robust a way as any democracy could hope to achieve.

So this debate inexorably will play itself out through the procedural labyrinths of Congress. And the slow march of the courts. Yes, it will be frustrating to watch. Yes, but: we are laying the foundations for a democratic balance between security and freedom. In a world where barbarian fanaticism would return us to a Dark Ages version of life, lived in what Hobbes termed the state of war. And where such fanaticism uses the latest innovations in communications to try and achieve their crazed, evil ends. Yes, it will be frustrating, even infuriating, to watch Congress. It should be.

Given a week or so to let the dust settle over this “deadliest shooting in US history” a.k.a. and ISIS terrorist attack on the US and our LGBT community, Hillary’s reaction is priceless.

In her speech in reaction to the tragic Orlando shooting Hillary says, “I know a lot of Americans are asking how it was possible that someone already on the FBI’s radar could have still been able to commit an attack like the one in Orlando.” Yes, we’re also asking how someone on the FBI’s radar is running for President of the country.

She added, “If the FBI is watching you for a suspected terrorist link, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun,” and if the FBI is watching YOU…Hillary…you shouldn’t be able to run for president!

Making this shooting all about our alleged loose gun laws instead of an actual terrorist attack on our own turf, Hillary exclaims, “I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets,” and some of us believe TERRORISTS have no place on our f-ing streets. Is this real life?

“I know some will say that assault weapons and background checks are totally separate issues,” Hillary says in her speech. Some will also say that assault weapons and the weapon used in the Orlando attack are also separate. The weapon used to kill 49 innocent Americans was a SIG MCX, which legally purchased is NOT indeed a weapon of war. The legal version is semi-automatic, meaning the terrorist pulled the trigger for every single round fired. An actual “weapon of war” or “assault rifle” is automatic, which is not legal to for civilians to purchase. But Hillary wouldn’t know an AR-15 or Sig MCX from a ham sandwich so she’ll just continue feeding this anti-gun propaganda with false information. Accurate information and honesty have never really been her strong suit anyhow.

Senator Shelby has – through the Senate Banking Committee – tied up the appointment of a Mark McWatters to the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank. Goodness, Washington is sooo dysfunctional! What in the world is Senator Shelby doing?

Here’s what.

By stalling McWatters’ appointment, the Ex-Im Bank’s Board of Directors now lacks a quorum and cannot provide credit guarantees (taxpayer-subsidized loans in other words) for individual loan amounts exceeding $10 million. Which is the vast majority of loan guarantees that the Ex-Im Bank provides.

Here’s why Shelby is doing this.

America’s global corporate giants use lower-than-market interest-rate loans to subsidize their overseas business, courtesy of the US taxpayer. The problem is, they are moving jobs overseas – a free market prerogative – with government assistance – not very free market. Much of the investment and jobs overseas goes to – you guessed it – China.

Oh. China is winning. Global corporations are winning. American taxpaying workers are losing, because of the subsidies they are unknowingly providing through the Ex-Im bank. Trump couldn’t have had a point. Could he?

Free trade is an idea, towards which elaborate, detailed trade agreements pledge a certain commitment. There is no such thing in reality as true free trade, only a web of complex regulations. Sometimes bilateral. Sometimes multilateral. Put together by teams of highly paid experts: business consultants, lawyers, economists, and other experts who earn more than a highly skilled worker could dream of. They meet in exclusive locations, and stay in posh hotels, and decide the fate of jobs in America and around the world.

This is not free trade. This a world wide web of crony capitalism. Well-educated, bright, very well-paid networks of cronies. Yes, business does sometimes tend to network that way in this world. But this goes further than that. It uses government to subsidize investment abroad. Global corporations also push for similar Ex-Im Bank style programs in foreign countries. To get them subsidies when they leave America, and to garnish subsidies when they open for business in China. Nice deal.

Not every worker can retool their career to qualify for only the highest-value manufacturing products at home in America. That’s wrong. MOST workers have a tough slog retooling their careers after a factory shuts down. Not their fault. Rather, it’s the demands to re-educate and relocate are a wall too high to climb for many. Especially when foreign-worker visas continually bring in more relatively cheap competition for whatever jobs are left behind.

Clyde Prestowitz has been clearly stating that the huge expansion in trade agreements in the post WW II era was motivated by geopolitical aims, using economic theories as a justification. Nations like Japan and Korea, and now China, however operated within this free-trade framework, by using a mercantilist strategy. Protecting local industry until it reached sufficient scale to compete with America. Much like America did throughout the 19th century with regard especially to the UK. Cars, Computer Chips, Steel: the Asian giants have used local protection at home to build a base to conquer an open and welcoming American economy.

And now China, which has never reformed politically unlike Japan and Korea, has emerged using the same mercantile strategy. It is a tilted playing field, which means two main responses: either continue making free trade agreements like TPP, and hope China becomes a better world citizen. Both economically by opening up it’s still relatively closed domestic economy, and politically by reforming it’s communist political system. Good luck with that.

Or by admitting that it’s a geopolitical game we’re playing, and admitting that America has allowed a lot of cheating to go down. Both within and outside of it’s frayed borders.

How long is 72 hours? Three days, maybe working days, maybe not. 72 hours in order to get a judge to find sufficient probable cause to make a temporary, 72-hour ban on purchasing firearms permanent. The alternative is to give the Attorney General immediate power to ban anyone on a terror watch list from buying a gun. No prizes for guessing which amendment was proposed by Dianne Feinstein, and which was proposed by John Cornyn.

Neither amendment would have prevented Omar Mateen from purchasing a gun. He was taken off the terror watch list in 2014. It would be instructive to be able to read the FBI officers reasoning behind the lack of evidence they apparently needed in order to keep Mateen on the terror watch list.

For those of us outside the intelligence community trying to look in, this feels like boxing shadows. What exactly is a terror watch list? Senator Sasse has cast doubt on the firmness of such an object as a clear identifiable list. What there is, is a set of databases with ways to parse the data contained there. Up to a million names on certain databases. Or more. Seeing it’s not for our eyes.

In other words, you have to mine the data according to unclear or unknown guidelines, perhaps with overly cautious respect for possible infringement of an individual citizen’s rights. And then decide whether to flag that data. It must be a seemingly impossible job for overworked intelligence analysts laboring in the depths of the beltway bureaucracy.

Tough. Do the job, because it has to be done. And do it better.

And the job will have to be done in the face of civil resistance by libertarians and conservatives who rightfully are suspicious of or hostile to the enormous state surveillance apparatus that was born in the aftermath of 9/11. But intelligence and surveillance are needed more than ever. That they have to pass the test of a judge’s ruling on whether there is probable cause to ban a citizen or individual from owning a gun is a reasonable response to their concerns. Cornyn’s proposed amendment makes sense and gets the balance right between security and individual freedoms. Feinstein’s would use Orlando to further the Democrats’ gun control agenda.

Lenin was from a relatively prosperous, middle class family. Che Guevara (Ernesto Guevara de la Serna Lynch to his parents – yeah he had some Irish blood from way back) was from a middle class family that was once upper middle class. The revolutionary guerrilla was often a pampered as well as a venomous creature.

The crazed, Islamist terrorist is a continuation of that breed. Osama Bin Laden was one of many sons of a wealthy Yemeni construction magnate. And if you’re looking for despairing poverty in Marcus Dwayne Robertson’s childhood, you won’t find it. Raised by respectably middle-class parents who were apparently role-models in their community in Brooklyn, he started going bad after a time in the military in the late 80’s. Despite an older brother who served in Army intelligence, the CIA, and the NSA, over a number of years. Or perhaps because of …

Marcus Dwayne Robertson’s violent, murdering muslim (he converted at the age of 12) gang of bank robbers – the Forty Thieves – terrorized the NYC area in the early 90’s. And he was Shiek Abdel-Rahman’s personal bodyguard. The Blind Shiek. As in the first attack on the Twin Towers in 1993.

He was caught but plea-bargained (giving intelligence to the FBI) his way to only 4 years jail time. As well as witness protection. And lately he’s been preaching in, where else, Florida. As in radical Islamic preaching. He also has made occasional trips in previous years – 2004 to 2007 – to places like Mauritania and Egypt with his 2 wives and children in tow. Apparently, he was doing counter-intelligence for the military. As in a double spy perhaps?

But he ran afoul and/or drifted away from the military. Apparently. And ended up preaching in NYC where he set up the Fundamental Islamic Knowledge Seminary, or FIKS. With help from a wealthy sponsor, he then moved FIKS to Orlando in 2009. Yes, Orlando.

In 2012 he and a kid called Jiminez were arrested for tax fraud to enable a trip by Jiminez to Africa to attend muslim training. Radical military training in all likelihood. But a Florida judge dropped the terrorism charges despite recorded evidence showing Robertson was encouraging Jiminez to commit violent acts against “unbelievers”. And Marcus Dwayne Robertson was freed a year ago. As mentioned in an earlier blog entry right here.

Omar Mateen – the Orlando terrorist – was enrolled in Robertson’s FIKS in Orlando. Marcus Dwayne Robertson is a free man, of course. If Robertson is a double agent, his handlers should be court-martialed. And he needs to be brought in and interrogated. With extreme prejudice – to use an old-fashioned military term.

Where do they pull the billion dollar spending figure from? The rough sketch of what a campaign will need to spend in the 2016 general election. The amount that Trump is going to have a tough time reaching. Or even getting anywhere near, if you believe the skeptics.

Did they take Jeb Bush’s $130 or $150 million figure and multiply it by 7? Because Jeb’s campaign spending was so effective and frugal?

How about imitating Bernie Sanders and his now-epic 27 bucks a head online contribution network? Reuters has run a story suggesting that Trump’s team may very well be looking into Bernie’s fundraising platform. Or at least trying to put together a Trumpkian version to supplement what appears to be a RNC-led more traditional fundraising effort.

As NeverTrumpkians snidely point to the supposed hypocrisy of Trump relying on big money in the general election, it may be that Trump’s supporters don’t especially care if The Donald dips into corporate coffers that are not his own. Get the cash and beat Hillary, seems to be their perspective.And yes, Trump supporters seem to be willing to chip in a few of their own hard-earned dollars to help his campaign.

But Bernie Sanders’ fundraising platform is all part of his Social Media strategy, run by Scott Bernstein, CEO of Revolution Messaging. And yes, Bernstein was a key player in Obama’s 2008 digital strategy. And what does Bernstein say is the key to the success of Sanders’ Social Media strategy and fundraising platform?

Bernie himself. The man’s “authenticity”, as Bernstein was quoted in an article at FastCompany back in April.

OK, so here would be Trump’s fundraising platform: Trump tweets followers, combining a hard jab at Hillary with a call to raise some cash. In other words, there will almost certainly be no genius-behind-the-scenes like Bernstein in the case of Donald Trump and any online fundraising he’ll do. He tweets. The cash comes in. Right?

Look, Trump has managed his own very particular brand of social media. And it has worked well in his favor. Can he translate his brash, bullying “authenticity” into an effective platform to get individual followers to make modest personal contributions? Because the whole point of Sanders’ platform was not the total he raised, but rather the breadth of support it demonstrated, and the excitement and buzz it generated around his own policy platform.

27 bucks a head was a defiant middle finger raised at the enormous expensive campaign apparatuses of his rivals within his own primary, and over in the GOP’s primary as well. It fit perfectly with his anger at Wall Street. What Trump needs to do is focus his own online fundraising efforts in a way that reflects his own supporters’ anger at GOP establishment politics. Which is not quite the same as Sanders’ supporters’ anger. Because the payoff to The Donald could be “yuge.” Is he willing to map a strategy out with some online media experts like a Bernstein? We’ll see.

America is divided. So it’s no surprise that Silicon Valley is divided as well: between Hillary and Bernie however. Not Hillary and Trump. A New York Times article details how many of the young tech workers in Silicon Valley – burdened by mountains of student debt – are fervent supporters of Sanders, who is not liked or even known very well in the tech community.

That is, the community of tech owners, managers, and innovators. And investors of course. Not the community of your average entry-level employee. Who may be well-educated, but are barely beginning to chip away at their accumulated debt load.

What does the technocracy want? Expanded H1-B visa programs to displace older, well-paid employees with substantially cheaper foreign workers from East and South Asia mostly; expanded trade agreements so Google and Uber and Facebook and everyone can sell more in China; fairly open immigration laws in general – apparently over 40% of recent tech start-ups were founded by immigrants. And Trump’s call to boycott Apple because of the encryption face-off with the FBI is an affront to many tech owners. They are the innovative meritocracy where science trumps (unavoidable) civics every time.

These are not Trump-friendly policy options, to say the least. But the division between tech and Trump goes further than that. Trump’s campaign has given hope to lower-income, white working-class voters. Yes, people call them all sorts of other names. And the average Trump supporter, by the way, is not lower-income but closer to upper-middle income, according to the wonks at fivethirtyeight. But tech lives in an alternative universe compared to an under-employed coal miner in West Virginia.

So while tech elites will vote and fundraise for Hillary, while many tech employees will hope Sanders keeps fighting right to the convention, there is a core (but maybe not an overwhelming majority) of Trump supporters who see their relative – and even absolute in some cases – incomes falling and who have lost a lot of hope in the ruthless tech-heavy world they are trying to survive in. Their concerns are not just opposed to much of Silicon Valley’s political agenda, they exist in a far different world. Hostile resentment faces off against dismissive aloofness.

Yes, Trumpkins can be angry and even threatening. But Silicon Valley would delete a good measure of America’s civics, understood as the duties any employer has, and some of its sovereignty, in the name of innovation and it’s endless iterations. Which are no longer justified in terms of their effects on average citizens, but rather because they can lower costs.

Instead of being forced to denounce Trump’s attack on Judge Curiel, Paul Ryan would have rather been talking about his plan to fight poverty. It’s not a grand battle scheme, precisely because some 50 years since LBJ’s Grand Society, relative poverty in America is about the same. And if there was a grand battle scheme against poverty, it was the Grand Society.

But Ryan’s proposed devolution back to state and local governments of welfare programs – as well as consolidating some federal welfare programs – is merely trimming the edges of a dense underbrush of regulation and entrenched bureaucratic power. And even that trimming will be attacked by Democrat lawmakers.

So it’s interesting, in this context, to consider two takes on Universal Basic Income or UBI – also called a Negative Income Tax – schemes. It essentially involves giving every member of the adult population a guaranteed income stream that is only partially (if at all) clawed back at reasonably high income levels. But it also involves dismantling every other welfare program you can possibly think of: from housing to Medicare and Medicaid. All of it gone. To be replaced by your UBI cheque every month in the mail.

In one corner we have Charles Murray, who favors UBI. Yes, that Charles Murray: the co-author of the Bell Curve. And not a fan of current educational policies either. So, no, he’s not liberal. And yes, he’s controversial.

In the other corner we have Robert Tracisnki, a Randian Objectivist. As in Ayn Rand. He attacks Murray’s advocacy of UBI not principally from an economic perspective – how can it be paid for? how do you replace the welfare state with such a simple scheme which wil be opposed by entrenched interests? etc. – but rather from a moral perspective.

Leisure is an aristocratic entitlement built on the backs of a subjugated peasantry, to put it dramatically. And any attempt to justify a UBI scheme – like the one voted down in a Swiss referendum recently – in terms of the added leisure time it would produce is wrong morally. By the sweat of your brow … etc. But also, UBI falls apart because unlike ye olde days there is not a subjugated peasantry to pay for the scheme. Not in democratic, developed nations at least. Which is precisely where the UBI scheme is being evaluated.

As Kevin Milligan has pointed out, you have a three-legged stool where only two legs are possible at a time. A tough balancing act. It goes like this: if you have a generous payment (say $15,000 – $20,000 a year) you have to choose between really frickin’ high taxes to pay for it, or have a clawback which penalizes work. The working poor paradox that keeps people on the welfare rolls because of the marginal disincentive to go back to work.

In other words, you either disincentivize work in a big way, or you raise taxes in a big way to pay for the scheme. Which, umm, also disincentivizes work. No welfare benefit should be seen as guaranteed but rather as something conditional and temporary, is what Tracinski is getting at.

As a follower of Ayn Rand, Tracinski should just come out and say it (he surely has somewhere in his writings): relative poverty is a moral necessity in a virtuous society. Ouch.

And even Ryan’s cautious and doable reforms are likely doomed by partisan politics and gridlock.

John Conyers is still at it. Can you believe it? The longest serving congressman since … so long ago we all forget. Over 50 years. And Frank Morris does not approve of Conyer’s kowtowing to progressive belief’s in diversity as an absolute good for the African-American community. Especially the working voters.

Frank Morris is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies. Yes, they don’t like immigration: their motto is: low-immigration – pro-immigrant. As in legal, controlled immigration. As in the law of supply and demand of labor in America. Especially as it applies to lower-skilled workers whose wages have been held down by illegal immigration.

Morris was director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Safe to say its members are not big Frank Morris fans and they don’t exchange daily emails supporting each other’s policy views. Because identity politics – as espoused by those who have a tight grip on the Democratic Party establishment – means a broad inclusiveness across ethnicity, cultural backgrounds, nationality, legal status, sex (oops sorry, gender), sexuality … and on and on.

And supporting so-called undocumented migrants is a shared good that will elevate all those who suffer discrimination or prejudice of any form. At least that’s what the progressive faith proclaims.

Unfortunately, studies show that illegal immigration does hold down wages in relatively lower-skilled jobs. Something that has become an entitlement for certain industries like hospitality and fast food franchises. Something to be lobbied for through various channels.

Digging in further, the studies show that at the micro level – in the individual firm or franchise – African American workers risk being left out of jobs that are instead given to illegals, precisely because illegals are paid less and literally have no legal recourse to press claims on issues like overtime or health and safety concerns.

Over at The Federalist – which has covered working class concerns over globalization fairly consistently without railing against globalization – John Gibbs made the case for Black voters choosing Trump precisely because of his trade and immigration policies. Gibbs – a former Apple engineer with experience in East Asia as a tech teacher and a postgrad in public administration – makes the point that trade with Asia is an uneven playing field. A tougher negotiating stance with Japan and China for example, along with less regulatory and tax burdens could bring (or keep) manufacturing jobs back to America. It’s a more pro-jobs and business-friendly perspective than Morris, but comes to the same conclusion. Oh yes, Giggs happens to be African American. And is clearly a policy wonk looking to plant himself firmly in the beltway, one suspects.

Whether tit-for-tat strategies in the context of international trade agreements will produce better deals or lead to global trade wars is uncertain. But the dangers of such a strategy may be exaggerated by free-trade advocates.

Both men – and a quietly growing community of commentators – state that the Democratic Party has betrayed its incredibly loyal African-American base. And that their faith in having strong Black Caucus leaders in Congress to represent their interests is misguided. Will they convince a significant percentage of black voters to turn to Trump? That seems unlikely – to put it politely – over the next few months. But this could be the beginning of an enormous shift in voting patterns.

Because when it comes to black working class voters, Trump may be the candidate whose trade and immigration polices is more in their interest than Hillary. Or Sanders for that matter. Even if those voters, and even Trump himself, don’t really realize it.

Bill Kristol insists his independent, third-party candidate – for now possibly David French, a constitutional lawyer, decorated Iraq veteran, and a writer for the National Review – is in it to win. That is, by denying both Hillary and Trump the new magic number of 270 electoral votes, The House of Representatives will then decide the winner.

As Byron York’s analysis in the Washington Examiner of this fantastical option clearly shows, it can’t work. Even assuming that somehow a political unknown like David French can somehow grab say Utah’s handful of electoral votes, it still won’t work, given the House rules regarding how a presidential election is decided by the House.

This means that the true goal of a third-party conservative candidate is to deny Trump victory. With no hope of gaining a victory for the conservative candidate himself (or herself … you never know). Which means handing the 2016 presidential election to Hillary Clinton. It’s the only realistic outcome, out of all the improbable scenarios that any conservative third-party candidacy might proclaim. Just pick off a few percentages from Trump in a few key states, and he loses in a tight race with Clinton.

Kristol can’t and won’t say this. But what this means – assuming this is his real motive – is that Trump’s foreign policy risks deviating further from the neo-con ideal, that Kristol helped create in the political and intellectual world back a decade or two, than Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy would.

Hence the righteously angry denunciations and comparisons that ranged from Lindbergh’s America First speech right to Hitler himself. With stops along the way in Louisiana (Huey Long) and Italy (Mussollinig and why not: Berlusconi). And Argentina as well of course. Although Trumpista as a label seems to have lost out to Trumpkins. It all fits together, because if you believe that radical Islam and it’s terrorism-spewing, crazed insurgents are somehow fascists, then anyone in the White House who might distance America from Middle Eastern conflicts must be a fascist.

And even Trump has toughened his stance on ISIS, for example, perhaps in response. But Kristol and other neo-con’s cannot be sure of Trump’s foreign policy goals the way they can be sure of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy framework. Both because of Trump’s broad strokes and lack of detail. And because he’s still trying to work it all out with his advisors, obviously. But they know they will not be part of the decision making process under a Trump presidency.

Fascism was and is an evil and dangerous philosophy. But fascism fought it’s wars in fairly conventional ways. And lost them all – aside from Franco’s Civil War: and it can be argued that Franco used the Falange but was not shaped by them – in fairly conventional military defeats to Allied forces. Islamic terrorism is in fact closer to communist insurgency movements, and some have suggested that the Cold War is a better analogy. But even this analogy does not capture the fanaticism and suicidal bent, along with the brutal criminality, that is so particular to islamic terrorists. Perhaps Kampuchea/Cambodia does.

Clearly Middle Eastern policy is not working. Partly as a result of Obama’s refusal to call terrorism terrorism, and act on it. But also because of the fatal optimism that the region could somehow be democratized, like Eastern Europe, or like post-war Germany and Japan. It clearly can’t. And it’s time for Kristol to admit he may have been mistaken. And to let his third-party candidate scheme dissolve away over the next few weeks. A Hillary presidency is a bad way to prove a mistaken point.

You want a conspiracy theory to haunt what should be a solemn remembrance of America’s war heroes? A “not really” would be many people’s answer to that type of question. But the Washington Examiner in it’s article on 13 heroes who received the Medal of Honor – and who we should know about as they put it – brought into that list a haunted ship and a troubling story.

One that more than likely is about the fog of war. But may be about much more than that.

The story of the USS Liberty – a converted WWII supply or victory ship that served as an intelligence gathering unit – took place during the Six-Day War in June 1967, between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. It was a spy ship, under the control of the NSA apparently, and it was captained by William L. McGonagle. It’s exact mission off the coast of the Sinai peninsula as the brief conflict broke out is not exactly clear. To gather intelligence, but on what armed forces? The Soviets? Who were in the Mediterranean but only monitoring the situation. The Egyptians? Or the Israeli forces themselves?

Over roughly a 24-hour period on June 7 and June 8, 1967, Israeli planes buzzed the USS Liberty and may have directed what is termed fire-control radar at the Liberty. The radar crew on the ship may have passed it off as Israeli engaging in subtle games with them. Unless the Israeli pilots were both preparing the groundwork for a possible assault on the ship, and warning the ship at the same time. This was as the Liberty changed course and approached the Israeli coast.

After more survelliance flights the next morning by a variety of aircraft, the attack finally ocurred in the afternoon of June 8. First by fighter jets, then later by torpedo boats. The torpedo boats were coming in for a third wave of attacks (this took at least an hour or so – maybe more – in total) but turned around suddenly. It may have been the IDF received reports of approaching US fighters from the 6th fleet. 34 crew were dead, and over 150 wounded.

There is the official story – it was a ghastly mistake – and there are conflicting conspiracy theories. It was deliberate because the USS Liberty was sending information on the war to the British who were sharing it with the Arab forces. Or, it was deliberate in order to prevent information on IDF troop movements to the north to prepare for the assault on the Golan Heights – then part of Syria. We may never know the truth. Most if not all surviving crew members seem certain the attack was planned and deliberate.

There are many tragedies in this story, but one that rankles is the enormous bureaucratic route that a frantic message from the higher ups for the USS Liberty to change course and get the hell away from Israel’s coast was never received by McGonagle and his crew. If the attack was indeed planned by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan – and vehemently opposed by Yitzhak Rabin who was then Chief of Staff – then it would have been logical that they would have first warned the USS Liberty, as they seemed to have done. The problem is that the IDF and Dayan especially, did not realize what an enormous organization they were communicating with. The warning seems to have got lost in the maze of communications channels and administrative hierarchies. A deadly mistake on both forces part, made in the middle of the fog of war.

This is all speculation based on books based on sources based on who knows what documentation. And some of the story tellers – like British journalist Alan Hart who has been waging his own hate-filled war on Israel and Zionism – must be treated with a very healthy dose of skepticism. If not a radiation suit and titanium pincers. In his description of the attack, he rails continually against the “mad dream” of zionism and a greater Israel; one that includes the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

In other words, Alan Hart is filled with rage because Israel dares to exist. It might be helpful for Hart and those in Europe who secretly – or not so secretly – feel that the mere presence of Israel is the cause of much of the region’s evils to remember something. Aside from the obvious fact that it is the region’s only democracy and that it has had to fight for every square inch, it is true that Israel is founded on a mad dream.

As the British Empire was founded on a mad dream that it’s smaller ships could somehow survive the terrible, massed forces of the Spanish Armada in the waters off their little clay-bound isle. As the people of the 13 Colonies had the mad dream that their isolated distant lands could somehow win a war against the armies of that very British Empire near the height of it’s power and influence. And as the Jewish people had a mad dream that they could finally, after centuries – nay millenia – of persecution, much of it in Europe, have their homeland.

Johnson and MacNamara should have realized that it wasn’t a brief skirmish between hostile Middle Eastern states that they were observing, but another step in the founding of a nation. Had they done so, the USS Liberty would have had strict orders to maintain a discrete and safe distance from Israel’s shores. Or at least, Captain McGonagle’s Medal of Honor would have been awarded at the White House, and not in a hushed up ceremony in a Navy Yard.