~ Featuring ~  
Not a 'Total Loser'
Cal Thomas

The Global Trade War Comes Full Circle
by VERONIQUE DE RUGY } ~ It has always puzzled me that anyone would believe that protecting the U.S. market with tariffs is a good idea. Yes, U.S. consumers might increase their demand for domestic goods... because duties on imported foreign goods make them relatively more expensive. But these duties also create massive market distortions and malinvestments, which often backfire against the very industries that are ostensibly being protected. Case in point: the steel industry and Trump’s steel tariffs. Back in March 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he would be imposing 25 percent tariffs on foreign steel. The idea was to make the price of foreign steel so expensive that domestic consumers of imported steel would start to consume more domestic steel. For those who defended the steel tariffs, it didn’t seem to matter that at the time 70 percent of U.S. steel consumption was already domestically sourced. The president expected more, and the steel executives who disliked foreign competition cheered him along. American steel consumers were suddenly forced to buy more expensive steel whether foreign or domestic because the president thought it was a better way for them to spend our money. Never mind that the U.S. steel industry often didn’t even produce the type and quality of steel on which the tariffs were imposed. And never mind that steel-consuming American manufacturers and workers begged their government to not punish them for the way they run their businesses. Tariffs went up. As a result, the price of steel went up for a while, the U.S. steel industry fired up its mills, and U.S. steel output went up dramatically. For a while, it seemed like it was all working according to Trump’s plan — for the domestic producers of steel, that is, not for consumers. As U.S. companies were still trying to figure out their options, some had no choice but to shift their demand and increase purchases of domestic steel. The industry responded by adding more capacity than they would have had without the protection. Yet because they were responding to an artificial and temporary increase in demand triggered by the tariffs, as opposed to real market signals, they failed to recognize the global economic slowdown and the subsequent reduction in overall demand. As a result, prices of steel went down quite dramatically. That’s what we economists call malinvestment, and, as a result, the older, less productive blast-furnace steel mills are now paying a dire price as they’re unable to stay profitable even with the foreign competition out of the way. And because misery loves company, the furnace suppliers are in trouble, too. As Bloomberg’s Matthew Townsend and Joe Deaux recently reported, “Suppliers to blast furnaces are sounding the alarm. In laying out his vision for iron-ore miner Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. at a recent conference, CEO Lourenco Goncalves painted a bleak future for what makes up the overwhelming majority of his current customers.” Townsend and Deaux add that “since Trump announced the tariffs 16 months ago, U.S. Steel has lost almost 70 percent of its market value, or $5.6 billion, and idled two American furnaces in mid-June that couldn’t be run profitably at the lowest prices since 2016.”...   
House to hold criminal contempt votes next 
week against William Barr, Wilbur Ross
by Susan Ferrechio } ~ House Speaker liar-Nancy Pulosi announced the House will vote next week on criminal contempt citations against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross... The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee advanced the contempt citations last month after Barr and Ross failed to comply with subpoenas requested by committee Chairman scumbag-Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Democrats and the Trump administration are feuding over Trump’s desire to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The Supreme Court ruled the question cannot be included but Trump has pledged to take executive action to circumvent the high court. The Democratic-led House is likely to approve the contempt citations against the two men. The citations would be referred to the Justice Department where they are likely to be rejected.
Why Palestinians Do Not Trust Their Leaders
by Khaled Abu Toameh } ~ While Palestinian leaders continue to dedicate their time to vilifying Israel and the US administration, the Palestinian public seems to have more pressing matters on its mind... Take, for example, the debilitating and dangerous lack of public freedoms and the corruption under the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian leaders, however, appear oblivious to the urgent concerns of their people. Evidently, Palestinian leaders do not grasp that the Palestinian public cares a great deal more about being treated like human beings by their own leaders than about anti-Israel and anti-US rhetoric. Thus, the gap between Palestinian leaders and their people appears to widen by the moment, and the Palestinians' dissatisfaction with the performance of these leaders grows at a parallel pace. The number of Palestinians who heeded the Palestinian Authority's call to take to the streets in protest against the recent US-led "Peace to Prosperity" economic conference in Bahrain was relatively small. Although the Palestinian leaders were hoping  that tens of thousands of people would participate in the rallies against the US and Israel, it was evident that the number of participants was much lower than expected. In fact, most of the protesters in the West Bank were members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction or employees of his government. Similarly, the number of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who are heeding Hamas's call to head to the border with Israel for the weekly protests is in steady decline. The protests, which began in March 2018, are organized by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip under the title: "Great March of Return." The decreasing number of Palestinians who are willing to go to the border and endanger their own lives by catapulting stones, firebombs and other lethal objects at Israeli soldiers is a positive sign; it is possible that the Palestinian public in the Gaza Strip is getting fed up with Hamas's empty arguments and rhetoric. Two recent public opinion polls have revealed the depths of Palestinians' mistrust for their leaders...
Public Servants Or The Public’s Masters?
by STEVEN GREENHUT } ~ Sacramento California’s cities, counties, and public agencies have secured a record tax windfall in recent years, as property tax collections soar, yet they continue to cry poor-mouth... There’s not enough money, they say, to provide adequate public services. Government officials and public-sector unions already have hatched a plan for the 2020 ballot that would dramatically raise property tax on commercial property owners by undermining Proposition 13’s tax protections. But a new report from the Orange County Register’s Teri Sforza hints at why these agencies never have enough money to do their jobs. Based on data from the state controller’s office, she found that “More than 100 city and county workers earned total compensation exceeding a half-million dollars in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties last year.” One need only look at the Transparent California  database to see that this is no aberration. One Orange County city, Placentia, decided recently to exit its contract with the Orange County Fire Authority and start its own fire department as a way to gain control of spiraling compensation costs. No wonder. We see page after page of OCFA employees earning total compensation of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The top earner received $534,000 in total pay and benefits — nearly five times the base salary of $117,000 a year. This is no aberration. Pull the data from any agency and you’ll be shocked by the pay levels. The average California firefighter at the county and city level earns nearly $200,000 a year in total compensation for a minimal work week and they’re paid while sleeping. State-level firefighters earn close to $150,000. Police sergeants, city managers, you name it — they often earn $300,000 or more in pay and benefit packages. Those numbers include only the funded portion of the equation. California has hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded pension and retiree-medical costs — shortfalls that ultimately must be paid for by hard-pressed taxpayers. Some employees have compensation levels soaring over $1 million in one year, costs that typically reflect those ridiculous DROP programs (Defined Retirement Option Plans). Compensation packages are so generous and retirement ages so low age 50 for public-safety employees; 55 for most others that these employees have no incentive to keep working once they hit retirement age. But many want to keep working, and their agencies need their labor. So employees double-dip by receiving their retirement and their full pay, which they get in a lump sum when they really do retire...  
worthless-Ilhan Omar Launches Ad Hominem 
Attack After Tucker Carlson Says She’s 
Enraged By America
by MOLLY PRINCE } ~ Democratic Minnesota Rep. worthless-Ilhan Omar reacted to Tucker Carlson’s criticism of the freshman congresswoman being “enraged” by America... saying it’s “fun watching a racist fool weeping” about her presence in Congress. “Not gonna lie, it’s kinda fun watching a racist fool like this weeping about my presence in Congress,” worthless-Omar tweeted, adding laughing emojis. “No lies will stamp out my love for this country or my resolve to make our union more perfect. They will just have to get used to calling me Congresswoman!” worthless-Omar’s comment was in response to a segment on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in which Carlson contended hours earlier that the Minnesota congresswoman is a “living fire alarm” and a warning for America to “change our immigration system immediately or else.” “worthless-Ilhan Omar has an awful lot to be grateful for, but she isn’t grateful, not at all,” Carlson said. “After everything America has done for worthless-Omar and her family, she hates this country more than ever.”  Carlson explained how worthless-Omar’s family fled Somalia, one of the world’s poorest countries, and ultimately received asylum in America. Despite achieving the American Dream and becoming one of the most powerful women in the country, she “isn’t disappointed in America, she’s enraged by it.”  “Virtually every public statement she makes accuses Americans of bigotry and racism. ‘This is an immoral country,’ she says,” Carlson said. “She has undisguised contempt for the United States and for its people.”...
Not a 'Total Loser'

Cal Thomas

PLYMOUTH NOTCH, Vermont — Rep. Justin Amash has left the Republican Party and will now represent Michigan’s third congressional district as an Independent. In a Washington Post op-ed, he wrote: “I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.”

Responding to Amash’s announcement, President Trump called him “a total loser” who was unlikely to win a primary election next year against a Republican challenger.

No one is a total loser and some of Amash’s concerns ought to be of interest to more of us. The parties are as divided as ever. Re-election seems to be the primary goal of many in Congress, along with nonstop fundraising.

The Founders never intended politics to become a career. They were farmers, lawyers, business people and average citizens who saw service to their country as a duty and a privilege, not a lifestyle. Most returned home to their real jobs after serving the nation for a brief time. Many of today’s politicians serve for decades with no real connection to the people they were elected to serve.

Instead of clashes between parties whose interests do not promote the general welfare but instead appear mostly self-serving, candidates should debate which ideas have a proven track record of working, no matter their party of origin.

Our 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, who was born in this tiny hamlet of Plymouth Notch on July 4, 1872, had abundant wisdom on numerous subjects. Horse, or common sense, they called it.

About taxes, which today’s Democratic presidential candidates believe are not high enough, Coolidge said, “I want taxes to be less, that the people might have more,” and “The collection of any taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny” and “The wise and correct course to follow in taxation is not to destroy those who have already secured success, but to create conditions under which everyone will have a better chance to be successful.” Copy to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Coolidge also said you don’t help build up the weak by tearing down the strong. Copy to all Democrats.

In his op-ed, Amash writes of partisanship: “These are consequences of a mindset among the political class that loyalty to party is more important than serving the American people or protecting our governing institutions. The parties value winning for its own sake, and at whatever cost. … In this hyper-partisan environment, congressional leaders use every tool to compel party members to stick with the team, dangling chairmanships, committee assignments, bill sponsorships, endorsements and campaign resources. As donors recognize the growing power of party leaders, they supply these officials with ever-increasing funds, which, in turn, further tightens their grip on power.”

He is right, but who is most at fault? Isn’t it the people who vote for and allow them to stay beyond their “sell-by” date, corrupted by money and power? Too many voters are also compromised by what they get from government.

Coolidge said, “The aim of our government is to protect the weak — to aid them to become strong.” That last part is key. Too many politicians want to subsidize the weak in their weakness, addicting them to government programs and the Democratic Party. Where in the recent debate among Democratic presidential candidates did you hear anything about government helping people to become less dependent on it and more independent of it?

Amash may not win re-election, but his critique of the dangers of extreme partisanship, where no idea from “the other side” should be considered valid, ought to be taken seriously. We have a history of ideas that worked and failed. We should reconsider the ones that worked and reject the ones that didn’t.

Winning the battle of ideas ought to be paramount, not just beating members of the other party. Coolidge, a total winner, would approve.  ~The Patriot Post  

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TRUMP:  Trump To Give ‘Start Your Engines’ Command At Dayton

President Donald Trump will give the command for drivers to start their engines before the Daytona 500.

Daytona International Speedway officials named Trump the grand marshal for NASCAR’s season opener, meaning he will deliver the most famous four words in auto racing. “Gentleman, start your engines,” has been a staple of races around the country and world for decades.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Thursday the president plans to attend the race. Track president Chip Wile confirmed the news in a release.

“Daytona International Speedway has been privileged to have hosted several sitting presidents of the United States over our history,” Wile said. “We’re honored that the president of the United States has chosen to experience the pageantry and excitement of ‘The Great American Race.’”

Trump is the third sitting president to attend a race at Daytona, but only the second to attend the Daytona 500. George W. Bush attended in 2004. Trump is the first to be given an honorary role in pre-race ceremonies.

Trump is scheduled to spend part of the Presidents Day weekend at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a flight restriction for Sunday and the U.S. Secret Service, which is responsible for presidential security, also tweeted to fans that drones are prohibited within 30 miles of the race in Daytona Beach — a restriction put in place for presidential visits.

Trump has hosted previous NASCAR champions at the White House and last October awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to motorsports titan Roger Penske. Last year, Trump also praised retired driver Mario Andretti, the Daytona 500 winner in 1967, reminiscing about a ride Andretti gave him in a race car for his reality show “The Apprentice.”

“I said, ‘Mario, get me out of here. I want to get out of this car,’” Trump recalled. “We went so fast. We literally — we covered four blocks in like a second.”

Tucker: Elizabeth Warren's campaign on its last legs

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