Let's Fix This Country
foreign policy

The Russians in Afghanistan: Trump’s Strange History Rewrite

In its reporting of the year's first cabinet meeting, The New York Times made
The cabinet meets at the White House, January 2nd.

no mention of it. Neither did The Wall Street Journal in its short write-up of the January 2nd meeting. It did run a short mid-page editorial, though, titled "Trump's Cracked Afghan History". What caused this from the normally friendly to Trump Journal? These remarks by the president:

"The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They [the Soviets] were right to be there. The problem was, it was a tough fight, and literally they went bankrupt, they went into being called Russia again as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you're reading about now are no longer a part of Russia because of Afghanistan.

The Journal editorial called "Mr. Trump's utterly false narrative…reprehensible" for good reason. In 1979 three divisions of Russia's 40th Army entered Beyond collusion? : January 12: The New York Times today reports that after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and then said it was because of "this Russia thing", and because of so many Russia contacts by those associated with the campaign, the FBI began an investigation into whether Trump was actually working for the Russians. That story here.
    

Afghanistan to prop up a communist government because it was threatened by an insurgency. The invasion had nothing to do with terrorism and Russia certainly had no "right to be there". The Russians were acting on the Brezhnev Doctrine which dictated that any country that had gone communist would not be…

national security

Trump Slamming the Door on Chinese Tech Invaders

Tariffs get the headlines in Donald Trump's war with China. An increasingly vigorous campaign by his administration to block Chinese acquisition of American companies, to ban the sale of certain of their products into the U.S., and to combat espionage and outright theft of trade secrets should get greater notice. At issue is the perceived threat to national security.

Two-or-so decades back, China decided it was entitled to become a world power. It would count the West's naïve belief that countries act ethically and live up to agreements. When the U.S. complained of counterfeited goods, pirated software and films, and outright theft of technology, China would assure Washington of crackdowns and make token efforts, but only to distract U.S. attention while the thievery went on. Agreements were made to be broken. An accord signed by President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping three years ago offers example. Both…

national security

China’s Stealth Hack on Supply Chain Is Worst of All

There's no better tale to demonstrate the threat of China's sinister deceit than what Bloomberg Businessweek magazine brought to light in an October article.

Amazon's Web Services division (AWS, their data storage "cloud") was in 2015 looking to buy Elemental Technologies of Portland, Oregon, which develops software to compress massive video files and conform them to different devices
for faster transmission. Elemental uses servers assembled by Supermicro Computer in San Jose, California, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of server motherboards. It has these manufactured by subcontractors in China.

As part of due diligence, Amazon sent a server to an outfit in Ontario that securitizes such devices. It found a…

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taxation

Taxes in America: A Mess That Has Only Grown Worse

The tax cuts enacted a year ago by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Trump have inspired a growing realization that America's tax system is a shambles. That verdict goes beyond the uproar over the new tax law handing corporations a 40% rate reduction and the uncalled-for tax cut benefiting the rich. The dog's breakfast resulting from what politicians and special interests have dumped into the tax code across decades with no sense of a master plan has led to a growing consensus that we are doing it all wrong.

In the United States, unlike several European countries, assets are not taxed, no matter how much they may have gained in value, until sold. Most of the wealth the richest Americans have acquired is not taxed, even as it has grown in value from year to year. On the other hand, Congress sees fit in the laws it passes to withhold taxes from the first dollar earned by every salaried worker and every dollar thereafter.

Leaving assets free from from taxation leads to easily the most deviant and insupportable tax practice: the estate and gift tax, which, save for the rare exception, taxes no one by allowing accumulated value to pass on to… Read More »

climate

Let’s Face It: We’re Not Going to Stop Climate Change

Two major reports in recent days tell us that unless we take immediate action to slow climate change, the consequences will be dire. But the world has waited so long to take that action, that there is a growing dread that it's too late. The parameters have to be so severe at this late hour that there is no political will to force drastic changes nor would humans be willing to endure them.

Just as the reports came out — from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the National Climate Assessment that is mandated
by Congress every four years — and just as representatives from the 197 nations that signed onto the Paris climate accord were about to meet in Poland for the U.N.'s 24th climate conference, out came bad news. Instead of the reduction in emissions that all these nations had pledged, the year 2018 is registering an increase of between 1.8% and 3.7% in greenhouse gases emissions. Following an encouraging three-year 2014-2016 trend of flat emissions, the new record high of 37.1 billion metric tons is the second straight year of increase. Mostly, the causes were India with a 6% rise and China with 5%, both heavy users of coal. Even United States emissions were up 2.5%, after declines in seven of the last ten years.

The members had asked the IPCC what needed to be done in order to hold temperature rise to 1.5° centigrade (2.7° Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, a notch below an increase of 2.0° centigrade (3.6° Fahrenheit) generally agreed to be a threshold beyond which planetary changes would be catastrophic. The report's answer was that emissions must be cut 50% by… Read More »

Autocracies Soon Wealthier Than Democracies

Within five years, non-Democratic nations such as China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia will be collectively richer than the liberal democracies of the West, reports Axios. By 2022, more than 1.5 billion people will live in autocratic states with fully mature economies, up from a mere 34 million or so in 1995.

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