American Consequences - March 2018

Everybody Is the Center of Attention

The Trump World Order

A Conversation with Steve Forbes

I D E A S T H A T M A T T E R E D I T E D B Y P . J . O ’ R O U R K E AMERICAN CONSEQUENCES

SECURITY, SURVEILLANCE, AND... THEN WHAT?

MARCH 2 0 1 8

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CONTENTS

MARCH 2018 : ISSUE 9

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44 64

AMERICAN CONSEQUENCES

4 Inside This Issue

44 Safe in the Fishbowl

BY STEVEN LONGENECKER

BY STUART ARMSTRONG

Editor in Chief: P.J. O’Rourke Editorial Director: Carli Flippen Managing Editor: Steven Longenecker Contributing Editors: Stuart Armstrong, Peter Byrne, Doug Casey, Edward H. Crane, Turney Duff, Dr. David Eifrig, Alice B Lloyd, Dr. Ron Paul, Christina Rosen, Buck Sexton Newswire Editors: Scott Garliss, John Gillin, Greg Diamond Assistant Editors: Chris Gaarde, Laura Greaver Creative Director: Erica Wood Cartoon Director: Frank Stansberry Contributing Cartoonists: Hank Blaustein General Manager: Jamison Miller Advertising: Sam DeCroes, Jared Kelly, Jill Peterson Editorial feedback: feedback@ americanconsequences.com

6 Letter From the Editor BY P.J. O’ROURKE

52 E-Verify Threatens Us All BY DR. RON PAUL

12 What Moved the Market

54 Everybody Is the Center of Attention BY CHRISTINE ROSEN

14 What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

58 The $200,000 Phone Call BY P.J. O’ROURKE 64 MyWebcam Cover, My Self BY ALICE B LLOYD

16 From Our Inbox

20 The Trump World Order BY BUCK SEXTON 26 Bro... E-mail is Forever BY TURNEY DUFF

68 What Happens After the Next 9/11 BY DOUG CASEY 72 Who Got Paid in This Massive Russian Energy Deal? BY PETER BYRNE

30 Spies Like Us

BY EDWARD H. CRANE

34 Are You in Big Brother’s Lineup? BY DR. DAVID EIFRIG 38 Big Everybody Is Watching You BY P.J. O’ROURKE 42 Draw Your Own Conclusions BY HANK BLAUSTEIN

82 A Conversation With... STEVE FORBES

88 Read This

90 Featured Contributors

American Consequences 3

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

E ver feel like someone is watching you? Used to be, that was a sure sign of paranoia... Today, it’s just common sense . We’re examining the modern “Surveillance and Security State” in this month’s magazine. We have some familiar characters – and some great stories. Editor in Chief P.J. O’Rourke starts us off with a tale of what may be most folks’ first experience with the surveillance state... Mom, God, and Santa Claus. (And how the U.S. government has now surpassed all three.) Former CIA analyst Buck Sexton tells us what really matters when it comes to national security under President Trump. Bestselling author Turney Duff shares the No. 1 rule on Wall Street. Cato Institute co-founder Edward H. Crane asks why the government is so obsessed with spying on us... and takes a lesson from the frog and the scorpion. Financial analyst and retirement hacker Dr. David Eifrig shows several ways to keep Big Brother from putting you in a lineup without your knowledge. P.J. reads George Orwell ’s 1984 novel again with fresh eyes and comes to a disturbing conclusion – both Democrats and Republicans seem determined to make the book come true. It’s a great essay, but it’s also a downer. So we’re following it up with a spread of our favorite cartoons from famed cartoonist Hank Blaustein .

AI researcher Stuart Armstrong takes the other side of the debate and looks at the benefits of living in a surveillance state. Dr. Ron Paul looks at a specific program that threatens everyday Americans. And Christine Rosen talks about what happens when everybody is the center of attention... and why the crowded universe for “normal” attention-seeking behavior will keep on increasing. P.J. shares a tale of something important that is lost in a world of instant connectivity. ( This article is my personal favorite that we’re publishing this month. Read it with your spouse.) Then we share a video report from Tucker Carlson , who scares the worldwide web out of us. Alice Lloyd details the contraption covering her laptop’s webcam. And Doug Casey wonders what happens after the next 9/11 disaster... explaining why a police state is absolutely possible in the U.S. And don’t miss investigative reporter Peter Byrne ’s feature story on the complicated Rosneft energy deal... He questions who got paid and how much. If you’ve ever wondered why the Russia investigation was so focused on Carter Page, read this article. Finally, we end with a conversation with business leader Steve Forbes . Enjoy the issue. And tell us what you think at feedback@americanconsequences.com . Regards, Steven Longenecker Managing Editor, American Consequences

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6 March 2018

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

W e’re on our way to a new life in a Security-and-Surveillance State. Everything about us will be seen and known. And my greatest fear is that when we arrive in this place of universal visibility and ubiquitous public knowledge of all our private thoughts and deeds... we’ll like it. A Security-and-Surveillance State that is all- seeing and all-knowing could replace religion. Something will. According to the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, only about half of Americans age 18-29 are certain that they believe in any kind of God at all. Central to the concept of God (or gods) in every faith is that He (or They) know exactly what we’re up to at all times and why. This should be terrifying, but most people who are religious – myself included – seem more comforted than frightened by God’s omniscience. Our original Security-and- Surveillance State was a state of grace – a oneness with God. Maybe a oneness with TSA will be just as good. Most Americans pass through airport security more often than they go to church. Comfort with Security-and-Surveillance runs even deeper in the human psyche than religion. There’s Mom. She always knew what I was thinking. “Don’t you even think about it,” she’d say about the fresh-baked cookies before I’d caught a whiff of them. And she always knew what I was doing. She had eyes in the back of her head. She also had all the other eyes of all the other moms in the neighborhood. I’d come home

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American Consequences 7

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

from a jolly Saturday afternoon tormenting cats and tipping over birdbaths with my pals, and, before I was halfway up the front walk, I’d hear: “No TV for a week!” It hardly came as a shock when they taught us in Sunday school that “God is watching.” Mom had gotten there before Him. Yes, God might – in some future too distant to be imagined – send us to hell. But He never smacked us on the butt with a wooden kitchen spoon. Much less did God wait until our fathers got home and tell them our sins so that we got a real whooping. Plus we were also taught in Sunday school that “God is Love.” And that He would “forgive us our trespasses,” certainly including

the foray into Mrs. Pulaski’s yard where we cracked the head off her garden gnome with our Wham-O slingshots. And Mom, of course, was nothing but love. Can anything be as secure as a mother’s love? Whatever we’d done, she got over it. Dad, too. By the time he’d had his second highball he’d forgotten all about giving us a real whooping and was out in the kitchen saying to Mom, “Boys will be boys... “ Then – to further muddle our attitudes about Security-and-Surveillance – there was Santa Claus. You better watch out, you better not cry, Better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.

8 March 2018

He’s making a list and checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. Santa Claus is coming to town. He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake He knows if you’ve been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake. And yet, after 364 days of my being a peevish brat, the Erector Set was under the Christmas tree anyway. Due to our instincts and our formative experiences, it is all too easy to confuse a Security-and-Surveillance State with Mom, God, and Santa Claus. The U.S. government is Santa Claus. Federal government annual per capita spending is $21,875. Everybody in America gets almost 22 grand apiece. Meanwhile what the average individual taxpayer gives to the federal government is only $9,655 a year. Making up the difference must keep those elves at the North Pole busy. The U.S. government is also Mom. There are a multitude of “eat your vegetables” federal laws on the books. All of them intended to make us healthy and safe, to give us “Security.” I’m not talking about what really gives us security. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines go begging. (According to a DOD report about 23,000 active-duty members of the armed services receive food stamps.) I’m talking about things like the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The act, as signed by President Richard Nixon, was

39 pages of What’s-Good-For-You that spawned a myriad of federal regulations and bureaucracies. A PDF of the “Occupational Safety and Health Administration Field Safety and Health Manual” is 265 pages long. But that’s barely a note under a refrigerator magnet by federal Good-For-You regulatory standards. The PDF for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Food and Drug Administration’s Public Health Service “Food Code” is 768 pages long. “Don’t put that in your mouth!” Due to our instincts and our formative experiences, it is all too easy to confuse a Security-and-Surveillance State with Mom, God, and Santa Claus. “ The government has a vast apparatus to secure us. And an even vaster apparatus to surveil us. It’s not just the CIA, NSA, FBI, and Homeland Security. When it comes to U.S. intelligence and investigative agencies, their name is “Legion:” (I have printed the following list in very small type so that you won’t read it all and experience a horrible fit of paranoia.) Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations, Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export, Office of Security Enforcement, and Office of Inspector General, National Institute of Standards and Technology Police, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service Office for Law Enforcement, Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Pentagon Force Protection Agency, United States Pentagon Police, Department of Defense Police, Defense

American Consequences 9

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Logistics Agency Police, and Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency Police, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Police, Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Command, Military Police Corps, Counterintelligence, and Intelligence and Security Command, Department of the Navy Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division, Master-at-arms (United States Navy), Department of the Navy Police, Marine Corps Provost Marshal’s Office, Marine Corps Civilian Police, Office of Naval Intelligence, and Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, Department of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Security Forces, Air Force Police, and 25th Air force intelligence unit., Department of Education Office of the Inspector General, Department of Energy Office of Inspector General, Office of Health, Safety and Security, National Nuclear Security Administration, and Office of Secure Transportation, Department of Health and Human Services United States Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, National Institutes of Health Police, Federal Protective Service, United States Coast Guard Investigative Service and Coast Guard Police, United States Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine, Office of Border Patrol, and Office of Field Operations, Federal Emergency Management Agency Weather Emergency Operations Center Police, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Removal Operations, United States Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration Office of Law Enforcement and Federal Air Marshal Service, Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General and Protective Service Division, Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs Police, Bureau of Land Management Rangers and Special Agents, Bureau of Reclamation Office of Law Enforcement, Hoover Dam Police, National Park Service Division of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Services, United States Park Police, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, and Division of Refuge Law Enforcement, Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and United States Marshals Service, Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, United States Merchant Marine Academy Department of Public Safety, and NHTSA Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation, Department of the Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing Police, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, United States Mint Police, and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs Police, Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives, Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate, United States Capitol Police, Library of Congress Office of the Inspector General, Government Publishing Office Police, Marshal of the United States Supreme Court, United States Supreme Court Police, Office of Probation and Pretrial Services, United States Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Office of Protective Services Office of Personnel Management Inspector General, Federal Investigative Services National Background Investigations Bureau, United States Postal Service Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Postal Police, Smithsonian Institution Office of Protection Services, National Zoological Park Police, Amtrak Office of Security Strategy

and Special Operations and Amtrak Police, Federal Reserve System Federal Reserve Police and Federal Reserve Board Police, Tennessee Valley Authority Police, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of Inspector General, National Science Foundation Office of the Inspector General, National Archives and Records Administration Office of the Inspector General, Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General, Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, General Services Administration Office of Inspector General, Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, United States Agency for International Development Office of Inspector General Corporation for National and Community Service Office of the Inspector General But if the government wants to know our wickedest thoughts and most dastardly plans, none of this intelligence-gathering and investigation is necessary. We’ve posted those thoughts and plans on social media. And if we’ve followed through on our stupidest ideas and put them into idiotic action, then we’ve got a video on YouTube with a million views. Add our Social Media State to the Santa State and the Mommy State and we’ve already arrived at the Security-and-Surveillance State. We want everyone to know everything about us. (And take care of everything for us while they’re at it.) Even the most secretive terrorists can’t resist the opportunity to gurgle and coo – or bawl and wail – to attract attention. The Security-and-Surveillance State makes us feel like we’re the center of the universe again. It puts us back in the crib, without worry or responsibility. America used to need liberty and Fourth and fifth Amendment privacy. Now America needs diapers.

10 March 2018

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WHAT MOVED THE MARKET THE BIGGEST STORIES THAT MATTERED FOR THE MARKET LAST MONTH...

four rate hikes this year. The markets initially misinterpreted his language regarding inflation and interest rates, causing some wild equity price swings in recent sessions. However, upon analysis, he toed the line his predecessors followed the past nine years: full employment and stable pricing. Earnings for the first quarter have concluded, and the results were excellent. The expected S&P 500 earnings growth rate is now projected to be 17.8%. The price-to-earnings multiple on the index is 18. The key for equities going forward is the 10- year bond yield. A move above 3% will trigger a move out of stocks and, presumably, into bonds. In fact, self-anointed “Bond God” Jeffrey Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital said that he expects an explosive move up in bond yields and a subsequent sell-off in equities and high-yield bonds. He hates the estimated $1.1 trillion increase in the deficit because of tax cuts and increased spending. He expects the dollar to move lower against the Japanese yen, euro, British pound, and the Swiss franc. He concludes his missive on the cheery note that equities will be down in 2018... THE TARIFF TWEET STORM CONTINUES TO RAGE. The facts are that China runs a $350 billion surplus with the United States. The country dumps goods, controls wages, manipulates its currency, and keeps a lot of its markets closed to outsiders. Americans buy cheap goods fromWalmart (WMT) and Target (TGT) and China stashes the dollars. This is clearly

MARKET TURBULENCE CONTINUED TO BE IN FOCUS IN MARCH. Equity markets bottomed out after the short- volatility trade ran its course, with many institutions removing exchange-traded volatility products altogether. The “pain trade” in equities also continued. Equity markets had not seen double-digit losses in well over a year, and investors were spooked when media pundits added to the hype. But interest rates steadied and the positive economic numbers paved the way for an upside in stocks. The Nasdaq Composite Index also returned to make new all-time highs, and the usual suspects led the way... Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), and Netflix (NFLX) all made record highs. The February jobs report blew away expectations, with 313,00 jobs added versus an expected 205,000. And the prior jobs number from January was revised to 239,000 from 200,000. Inflation remained in check – creating a “Goldilocks” scenario for equity markets. New Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell faced his first testimony as Fed chair and reiterated the Fed’s target of three to

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12 March 2018

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not a level playing field, and valid arguments can be made that the U.S. has lost millions of jobs since China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001. But China is the largest buyer of American sovereign debt. Because the Federal Reserve is normalizing policy and letting the federal balance sheet run off, the U.S. needs China’s buying power to keep rates low so debt payments don’t skyrocket. Interest rates will move higher if the Chinese change their buying habits! The losers – companies that use steel and aluminum for production purposes – are autos, defense, and machinery. But the worry extends to retaliatory moves. Could Asian competition jack tariffs on phones, laptops, and flatscreens? Higher prices for goods we take for granted could be the catalyst for inflation, and equity investors would vote with their feet and hit the sell button. TARIFFS CHANGE THE MATH ON STOCKS.

March 21 The Federal Reserve interest rate decision. This will be Powell’s first meeting as Fed Chair. Expectations will be for a 25 basis-point hike. March 23 New home sales. Home sales (along with homebuilding companies) have declined of late due to the substantial rise in interest rates. March 28 Fourth-quarter GDP results. 2.5% was the last print. Have rising interest rates taken a toll on the economy or are these rates a positive sign of global growth? April 6 Payroll numbers. The February print blew away expectations by more than 100,000 jobs. Keep an eye on market reaction on a similar report for March.

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American Consequences 13

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

Financial follies and disaster in the making

One month later, the demand for steel was so high that the U.S. steel industry was running near 100% capacity. Some steel-rolling mills were even booked through June. The industry was supplying over 90% of the U.S. steel market when roughly 80% was the norm. And four months later steel prices had soared – spot prices were up more than 60%. In the year-and-a-half life of the Bush steel tariffs, roughly 200,000 Americans lost jobs due to higher steel prices. That’s an estimated $4 billion in lost wages. And in three years the price of steel and iron rose 68%. So how do the Trump tariffs compare? Today, U.S. steelmakers supply about two-thirds of U.S. demand. And much of imported steel comes in the form of products U.S. factories are unable to produce. So any major shift to domestic steel would require costly upgrades to existing facilities. There’s also the risk that the tariffs would make imported steel cheaper outside of the U.S., creating price pressure on steel-reliant American exporters, like car manufacturers.

Same tariffs, different day?

On March 1, President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. would impose a 25% tariff on imported steel, and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum. He also made the dubious claim that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” What could possibly go wrong? In March 2002, the Bush administration tried something similar... Blaming an “import surge” of foreign steel, President George W. Bush announced a plan imposing tariffs as high as 30% on most types of imported steel. The belief was that the tariff would create domestic demand for U.S. steel, create jobs, and boost U.S. steel production. Back then, most steel-consuming manufacturers in the U.S. were small businesses – often fewer than 500 workers. So when the Bush tariffs were announced, these businesses quickly canceled foreign orders and bought up American steel.

14 March 2018

Then there’s Trump’s “trade war”... With the recent exemptions for Canada and Mexico, the tariff’s main target becomes China. But due to an equally problematic Obama-era steel tariff, China doesn’t export much steel to the U.S. today. So the tariff is likely to hurt our trade allies more than its intended target. It’s also likely to trigger similarly political tariffs against U.S. exports. Did the Olympic Winter Games cool tensions with North Korea? As recently as last summer it appeared that we were inching closer to a military conflict – perhaps even nuclear. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hurled insults and exchanged threats. But now the tune appears to have changed... Last week, Trump agreed to be the first U.S. president to meet with a North Korean leader... a decision that surprised even South Korean officials at the time. And with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent firing, we’re not holding our breath for a brokered peace deal any time soon. Elsewhere, populist movements continue to make inroads into mainstream politics... About half of the voters in Italy’s parliamentary elections earlier this month cast their ballots for populist parties that were once considered fringe platforms. The anti-establishment “Five Star Movement” didn’t exist a decade ago... But it marched to a definitive victory with more than 30% of the nationwide vote, securing its position in the From trade wars to ground wars...

country’s political landscape. Other nationalist parties have risen around Europe... These movements aren’t going away and may eventually splinter the European Union. People feel disenchanted with the establishment and hopeless about their future. More folks are getting left behind. Younger voters can’t find jobs and older voters have seen a decline in living standards. They channel their blame into fear and distrust of governments and immigrants. As the divide grows between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” this civil unrest will spread. We’ve seen protests around the world getting increasingly violent. And it’s likely only a matter of time before we expect a Jubilee-like event to occur. has been warning readers about the exploding national debt for a while now... and he’s just finished what could become the most important book in America over the next few years. The American Jubilee explains much more about America’s biggest problem today... and what you MUST do to survive and prosper in the years to come. Read The American Jubilee . It will be the best $19 you ever spent. You can get your copy here. Something to read... American Consequences contributor Porter Stansberry

American Consequences 15

FROM OUR INBOX

Re: Our Newest Readers Weigh In

do to fix this. They told me: “Please point James to our archive page with PDFs if he wants to print out all 100-plus pages on his own”... That’s right here: https://americanconsequences.com/archive/ . Sorry. Hope your printer (and your ink cartridge budget) is better than mine! I’m looking forward to your humor and to learn! More Power To YOU, Mr. O’Rourke – Kathryn Guillaum P.J. O’Rourke comment: Dear Kathryn, Bless your heart! (And I hope it’s really you who’s writing, not my agent using an alias.) Re: Two ‘Solutions’ YouWon’t Like (February 21, 2018 issue of American Weekly Consequences ) It was interesting reading the diatribe against UBI, until I came to the part where the $1,000 monthly stipend was assumed would be spent on drugs; drugs, and the various hedonistic materials the author claimed he would spend the money on. I read the remainder, but with the fact in mind that the author couldn’t be trusted with the public’s money at all.  And here I was, reading his advice on how the public’s money should be spent for everyone’s benefit. Well, somebody’s benefit. After trusting Republicans to reduce debt, only to see them and their Democrat

This is right in my wheelhouse. I am a 60-year-old man who has been mostly retired for a little over a year. A little too much tin foil hat in some of the comments from readers, but otherwise good. I will complain about the illustration on the MEN WITHOUTWORK article ( January issue ). I almost always wear pants in the mornings. – Harold Thomas P.J. O’Rourke comment: Not me! I’m 70 and mostly retired, and I do as I darn well please! (Or I do until my wife tells me to quit walking around in my boxer shorts.) Anyway, a tip of the tin foil hat to you, Harold. Is there a paper version of this journal? That just works better for me than pads and phones. Just asking! – James Tooley P.J. O’Rourke comment: James, I wish! A paper version works better for me too. Unfortunately, the cost of paper, printing, and postage is what’s driven most good magazines out of business. We’re trying to be a good magazine. That means spending our money, first and foremost, on good writing. (Plus the stuff I do.) Therefore, we have to go with the most cost-efficient means of getting the magazine to you. However, per your request, I did ask our Tech Department if there was anything we could

16 March 2018

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I’m not against government assistance. I’m just worried about how our government assistance programs are funded and how that assistance is allocated. For instance, we currently spend more on federal poverty programs than it would cost to eliminate poverty in America. (And by the way, that would give Pat Day, above, a pretty good argument against my stand on UBI... Just give people the money!) Re: The American Jubilee (November 2017 issue of American Consequences ) I would forgive student debt under two conditions: 1. No new student debt guaranteed or financed federally 2. The universities be forced to return 25% of debt amount This way everyone will suffer. No free lunch, especially the education-government complex. – Tim Parker P.J. O’Rourke comment: Tim, I agree. The current student debt is not going to be repaid anyway. I don’t mind kids coming out of college a few grand in debt – makes them go get a job. But why should taxpayers guarantee that debt? And why should that debt be allowed to reach ridiculous risk levels? As to your second point, I’d make it a lot more that 25% for colleges with bloated endowments.

cohorts enrich themselves by their warfare policies, creating even worse debt, on the taxpayer dime, then have the utter gall to cast aspersions on the people’s declining incomes and negligible tax contribution, we are treated to an offer of extreme austerity. No offer to reduce the ridiculous military wastage problem, not to mention new wastage programs, literally walling people apart from their own money. – Pat Day P.J. O’Rourke comment: Pat, of course I can’t be trusted with the public’s money. I don’t trust you with it either. Nobody can be trusted with the public’s money, especially not the public (as embodied in the government that you so rightly point out wastes money all the time). This does not mean that decent people shouldn’t try to help the unfortunate. It just means that we have to think carefully about how to help. And I think a Universal Basic Income would do more harm than good. Ask ol’ P.J. if he’s EVER BEEN ON ANY KIND of Government assistance. – John Reinhardt P.J. O’Rourke comment: Sure I have, John! I’m on Medicare and collecting Social Security right now. More to the point, my dad died when I was eight and my mother and sisters and I would have starved if it weren’t for Social Security and VA benefits. Furthermore, I went to college on federal and state scholarships.

American Consequences 17

FROM OUR INBOX

The way to bust up the education-government complex is to use the free market. First, with K-12 school choice. Then, if we want to help good college prospects, give them modest scholarships based on merit and let them (and their parents) determine which schools offer value for money. Re: The Mystery of Government (October 2017 issue of American Consequences ) Your comment on majority rule doesn’t square with the Constitution or the facts on the ground. The membership of the Senate was intentionally not based on Majority Rule. The House which was designed to represent the majority has been perverted by gerrymandering. Since we have had two [popular vote] minority presidents within the past 20 years one would have to assume that the electoral college ain’t no place of higher learning, and you can attain the highest office in the land without bothering to win the most votes. With that said, I don’t know if government would work any better with majority rule. I do know that my countrymen like to feel they are being heard. So here is my prediction... If this goes on for another 30 or 40 years (maybe less, maybe more) there will be a significant increase in political violence. – Jeff Smith

P.J. O’Rourke comment: Jeff, as I’ve remarked before in these “Inbox” comments, “Hope you’re wrong. Fear you’re right.” Majority rule without majoritarian dictatorship is the central paradox of democracy. Our Founding Fathers did their best to protect some of America’s minorities (such as pioneer farmers) from being crushed by the majority. But their best wasn’t very good – as their lack of protection for blacks and Native Americans proves. However, the way things are now, the Electoral College is about all that protects us Middle Americans from rule by the flakey “Coastals.” Historical note: Since 1960, we have elected presidents who gained less than 50% of the popular vote six times. And no matter whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, this list of presidents probably includes at least one of almost everybody’s “worst ever.”

1960 1968 1992 1996 2000 2016

J.F.K. Nixon Clinton Clinton

49.72% 43.42% 43.01% 49.23% 47.87% 45.98%

George W.

Trump

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18 March 2018

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20 March 2018

WHAT MAKES TRUMP TICK... ANDWHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR AMERICAN NATIONAL SECURITY?

I t’s too early in his first term to judge Trump’s security approach, but we have seen some initial trends. Judged strictly on a policy basis, the first year of Trump’s national security strategy fell largely within the standard GOP playbook. He kept the Iran deal in place, reassured NATO of his commitment to the alliance, and left U.S. troops in Afghanistan. His most senior and seasoned advisors in the national security sphere, notably Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense and Gen. H.R. McMaster as his national security advisor, provide expert counsel and a tempering influence. These Cabinet members, among other confidantes, pushed Trump to maintain some policy continuity with previous administrations. That may well have helped reassure allies and stabilize markets. But Donald Trump is in many ways the ultimate non-traditional president. His seat- of-the-pants approach to issues ranging from trade tariffs to handling a hostile press is unprecedented. That the Donald plays by his own rules delights his base... and keeps his detractors up at night. Nowhere is his style more of a shock

to expected norms than national security – and paradoxically because of that, national security may end up being the greatest arena of success for his presidency. Trump’s tone, however, has been a radical departure from previous presidents, and could indicate some high-stakes policy maneuvers are forthcoming. It is in the realm of national security that Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip rhetorical style most worries his Democratic opposition. While their concerns of a Trump- based creeping fascism at home have faded, the anti-Trump Left still frets over a possible Twitter-induced nuclear exchange. Scorned, still-recovering Hillary supporters can console themselves that a trade war would be reversible. A real war would not. Of course, President Trump could care less what his detractors (“ haters ,” in Trumpian parlance) think. Never one to shy away from blunt-force discourse, Trump dials up the rhetoric on security matters. He is the leader of the free world, but he doesn’t shy away from calling transnational Latino gang members “bad hombres” or taking to Twitter

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to refer to trade deals as “very stupid.” Nowhere has this tendency been more

American Consequences 21

apparent than on Trump’s dealing with North Korea. In 2017, he referred to Kim Jong Un, the diminutive dictator of Pyongyang, as “a sick puppy” and dubbed him “little rocket man,” a nickname that has shown surprising staying power. It is certainly unusual for a U.S. president to openly mock a foreign head of state in this way – especially, as is the case with Kim, when the leader in question is the murderous capo of a crime family in charge of a glorified prison camp with nuclear missiles. But does that make Trump’s approach wrong? As of this writing, North Korea is making diplomatic overtures to the U.S. that would have been unthinkable in the Obama era. It may be a ruse, but Kim Jong Un has told South Korean envoys that the North is willing to negotiate over its nuclear weapons program. If this (still highly suspicious) outreach results in a diplomatic breakthrough and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Trump will have achieved the greatest American national security win in the post-Soviet era. And he will have done it while the “experts” seemed to think the immolation of Honolulu was imminent unless the White House staff seized control of Trump’s Twitter account. This instinct-based approach to complex international policy is either the secret weapon – or the Achilles heel – of Trump on the world stage. He is unpredictable, impetuous, and surreally confident. Traditionally, national security wonks place a high premium on stability in a leader’s words and actions. With Trump, national security policy becomes whatever he wants it to be on any given day. Whether that is best described

as adaptive or mercurial is in the eyes of the beholder. Though there are obvious risks to this approach, at the year-one mark it appears there has been a method to the madness. Breaking through stalemates and escaping quagmires requires new thinking. Say what one may about the Trump presidency, it is taking a fresh approach. Based on the major security challenges that face the administration (with some topics taken directly from Trump’s on 2017 National Security Strategy ) here’s a quick overview of how the Trumpian way could play out in 2018 and beyond. If there is a fundamental organizing principle for the Trump administration, this is it. More commonly referred to as “America First,” this is where Trump unabashedly breaks away from the philosophy of his predecessor. The Obama administration always favored a multilateral, U.N.-style consensus-building approach to security challenges. In Trump’s vision, the American government should always prioritize the interests of the American people. Trump’s full-throated embrace of security policy that recognizes the primary obligation of the U.S. to its own people is a needed course correction. It is also a rejection of the delusional cosmopolitanism that has seized the Democratic party and infected much of the GOP establishment as well. PROTECT OUR PEOPLE FIRST

22 March 2018

TRUM WORL ORDE

external actors including Iran, Russia, and Turkey pursue their own interests in zero-sum fashion. The circumstances in Afghanistan aren’t much

BORDERS Illegal immigration crosses over into many different realms. It is simultaneously a domestic and foreign policy issue, an economic as well as national security issue. If there is any one challenge that will define Trump’s success or failure, it is solving the problem of mass illegal immigration. Trump promised to secure our borders, restore sovereignty, and enforce immigration laws, and even his most ardent supporters are likely to abandon him if he gives up on this fight. Congress, however, is another matter. The recent debacle over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals “DACA” program, is instructive here. Inertia is their preferred option. It is becoming increasingly clear that neither Democrats nor Republicans in the Senate want to take any meaningful action on immigration, preferring instead to use it as a fundraising tool for the 2018 midterms. How Trump can get around this legislative logjam is anybody’s guess right now. DEFEAT JIHADISTS One of the least touted successes of Trump’s term in office has been the accelerated defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Trump expanded the target set for airstrikes against ISIS and gave control of those decisions to the commanders on the ground. The result was that the slow degradation of ISIS turned into an all-out rout. What has been left behind in Syria, however, is a viper pit. Warring factions continue to hammer each other inside Syria’s borders, and

better. Trump has decided to stay the course with a relatively small commitment of U.S. troops, but the security situation continues to deteriorate. In counterinsurgency, if you’re not winning, you’re losing, and unless Trump and his commanders have an unforeseen trick up their sleeves, all the Taliban has to do now is wait us out. REBUILD MILITARY Trump has signed the bill for a 13% increase in the military budget from 2017 for 2018. It is only set to go higher after that. With this, he is following through on his campaign promises to rebuild the military after decades of punishing deployment schedules to Iraq and Afghanistan. That Trump seems to have fallen into the bipartisan trap of spending the government further into debt is an issue that will have to wait for another time... and perhaps another administration. RUSSIA COLLUSION The Trump national security strategy document does not address the “Russia issue,” but it has become one of the greatest vulnerabilities the administration faces. With Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe

National security may end up being the greatest arena of success for his presidency.

American Consequences 23

American Great Again” and “Never Hillary” hashtags. On page six of Mueller’s indictment, however, a remarkable term entered the national lexicon... The Department of Justice formally accused the cabal of 13 Russians of waging “information warfare” against the United States. Although there are no specific references to the Kremlin or Vladimir Putin in the charging document, it is widely believed that the Russian government effectively ran the Internet Research Agency that was behind the effort to spread disinformation and dissent in America during the election. This would mean that the information warfare Mueller cited was an attack by one nation state on another. To be sure, one should be very cautious about throwing the term “warfare” around when the discussion involves two states that have enough nuclear weapons to end all life on the planet. Russian social media meddling during an election cycle is disrespectful and irritating, but it is not tantamoun to Pearl Harbor , no matter how much some members of the media and Democrat establishment insist otherwise. But the Russia election interference and collusion probe has brought home an uncomfortable truth: Anyone connected to the Internet could, wittingly or not, become a pawn in a foreign “psy op” against the U.S. This is a battlefield with no boundaries. And the outcry to counteract the scourge of

grinding on, the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 election remains politically damaging. And looking forward, there is the ongoing threat of further Russian interference in the next election for which Trump must prepare the nation. Trump fires off Twitter messages that call the entire special counsel investigation a “Witch Hunt,” and there is ample reporting on the deep frustration the entire debacle has caused the White House. But how Trump and his team handle Russia – and the media’s accusations of 2016 election collusion with Putin’s government – could make or break Trump’s time in office. When Mueller handed down his first indictment of foreign nationals last month, the outrage was predictably partisan. Most Americans, at least those who care about the ongoing Russia collusion probe, viewed the charges against 13 Russian nationals through the prism of their political tribe. Scorned Hillary supporters saw more evidence of Kremlin-sponsored election shenanigans that must, they hope, reach all the way up to President Trump himself. For those who take the pro-Trump position, Mueller’s indictment was overblown. Here was a prosecutor handed the vast resources of the Department of Justice, and he found the time to bring charges against a campaign of glorified Twitter trolls and Facebook sock puppets. Russia was never going to extradite the named defendants, and the conspiracy they conducted involved such unremarkable propaganda as sharing tweets with “Make

24 March 2018

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