How’s that Africa plan working out for us?

Map of Nigeria, from Nigeria.ru

With the focus on the Middle East, its easy to forget there are other parts of the world. Africa in particular tends to not make our news feeds. It always makes mine though, and yesterday was more bad news:

Nigeria looks to sign military cooperation deal with Russia this month

with this gem:

““We’re sure that with Russian help we’ll manage to crush Boko Haram, given Russia’s experience combating Islamic State in Syria,” Nigerian envoy Steve Ugbah said in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency.”

Steve Ugbah, Nigerian Envoy

Ugh.

As a nation we suck at African relationships. Nigeria in particular is a key nation, with not only a relatively functioning democracy, but also a large population and large economy. Nigeria will be a leading force in Africa over the next 20 years. And that is about where our relationship ends.

Our State Department is not pushing relationships forward enough, unlike China and Russia, who are more than happy to offer economic and military incentives to advance their influence in the region. On the military side, we should be pushing for a military collective with African Nations that would help build military standards (similar to NATO), allow collective exercises, provide personnel exchanges and open markets to military sales. On the economic side, Africa presents a unique opportunity break China’s grasp on low-cost manufature and invest in a region that is unlikely to build a military super-giant devoted to destroying the United States. While we’re at it, let’s reevaluate how we do sanctions, since we seem happy to put sanctions on African countries for human rights violations while willfully ignoring those of Arab countries.

Africa could be our answer to China if we let it be. Let’s make that choice vice letting China and Russia turn Africa into their next backyard.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Real Dictators vs Liberal Fantasies (Xi vs Trump)

The characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality. Thus if you had been trying to damn your man by the Romantic method…you would try to protect him at all costs from any real pain; because, of course, five minutes’ genuine toothache would reveal the romantic sorrows for the nonsense they were and unmask your whole stratagem.

C.S. Lewis Screwtape 13

One of the defining characteristics of the last three years of the Trump Administration has been the media, the Democrats and activists insisting that he is a dictator and that they are being oppressed, that they are being censored, that the president is operating concentration camps and that any day could be the day that liberals , journalists, gays, etc etc etc would be locked up. I remember working with a young lady, a Bernie supporter who was convinced that she as a lesbian would be thrown into a camp by Donald Trump.

Of course the fact that people were and are freely able to express these opinions in social media, on television, in movies, in classrooms, in public speaking appearances and at rallies not only without fear but with financial and social rewards does not shatter the illusion of oppression to those residing in the kindergarten of Eden, a world where all the dragons you slay are made up out of the whole cloth. Reason and facts are insufficient to break that fun house mirror reflecting virtue and courage to those who wish to see it in themselves.

For that you need the harsh light of reality, which China is providing to the woke oppressed millionaires of the NBA:

Hotair has a list of ten times when the NBA, it’s players, coaches and stars had no problem making political statements, but once a Houston Rockets exec tweeted in support of Hong Kong suddenly folks like Steve Kerr decided they didn’t have anything to say:

As many others have noted over the past 36 hours, the league is known for — and celebrates — its wokeness. People like Kerr and Gregg Popovich are beloved figures among sports-loving liberals for their willingness to chime in on matters of social justice, and have received glowing coverage in the press for it. I don’t begrudge them their greater interest in American injustices than Chinese mass oppression either; it’s natural to worry more about how your friends are being mistreated than people a world away. But that rule of thumb isn’t foolproof: Surely we can agree that once the level of foreign oppression reaches the concentration-camp stage, some reflection on whether you should continue to do business there while ignoring what’s happening is in order. And yet here’s Steve Kerr, the woke coach, playing dumb right in front of reporters.

Folks like Steve Kerr who was never shy about hitting the president suddenly had nothing to say, but China has plenty to say:

Chinese state television said on Tuesday it would not air NBA exhibition games played in the country this week, heaping pressure on the U.S. basketball league after a tweet by a Houston Rockets executive backing protests in Hong Kong. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey apologised on Monday for any hurt caused by the tweet, which he quickly deleted over the weekend.

But China’s government, fans and the team’s partners have not been assuaged, resulting in loss of sponsors and broadcasts in the world’s second-largest economy and an important National Basketball Association (NBA) market.

“We strongly oppose Silver’s support of Morey on the basis of freedom of speech and we think any comments that challenge a country’s sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said Tuesday in a statement in Chinese, adding that it would review its relationship with the NBA.

The NBA issued a statement saying it regretted Morey’s remarks, drawing criticism from U.S. lawmakers.

and the Rockets’ owner was quick to tweet himself

The very woke Rolling Stone was not impressed

The Rockets and the NBA could have stood up for Morey, for decency, and for the protesters and their human rights. More than 2,000 have been injured in months of demonstrations that the Chinese government characterizes as “riots,” but selling sneakers, jerseys, and the game  But they instead folded all too readily, all too eager to hold onto the dollars that they glean from the Communist nation. 


The NBA issued a sorry statement, declaring the league realizes that the tweet may have “deeply offended” Chinese fans and that they “have great respect for the history and culture of China,” as if that had anything to do with a bill that could be used to disappear journalists and critics of an autocratic regime. Morey, who 
The Ringer reports was at one point in jeopardy of losing his job, tweeted his own apology that read like it was dictated by his boss. Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, a co-founder of Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, published an open letter on Facebook that referred to protesters as a “separatist movement.” Even James Harden, the Rockets’ star guard, issued a mea culpa for some reason, even though he wasn’t involved.


That last bit of rank submission to an autocratic regime captured the full extent of the NBA’s sellout to China. 
Several politicians on the left and right, including presidential candidate Julián Castro and Rep. Ben Sasse (R-MO), called out the NBA’s cowardice. Even Rockets fan Ted Cruz took a principled stand:

It’s apparently rather quickly that the NBA was between a rock and a hard place. It’s one thing for China to bully video games companies and brands here and there but the NBA is not a niche market and now you have seeing the censorship hit NBA games as well not to mention the spectacle of a CNN one of the most woke networks of the west asking a question at a press conference and being given the silent treatment.

Someone else immediately comes to take the mic away from Macfarlane. There’s some crosstalk as she argues that she’s asking a legitimate question that hasn’t been answered, but the real payoff to this clip comes when the camera cuts back to Harden and Westbrook. Both are sitting in front of microphones and obediently saying nothing as the question hangs in the air. The NBA is not talking about politics suddenly. Not a word.
I don’t think there can be any doubt about what is happening here. Everyone involved has been told—maybe warned is a better word—not to say anything about China or Hong Kong.

Or to rephrase it, these big strong nuclear athletes who are not afraid to speak out against an American president who they know won’t repress them are terrified of speaking out least they offend China.

I’d like to end with this tweet of Steve Kerr’s latest statement:

Congratulations are in order for Mr. Kerr and the NBA, they now have been taught very plainly by China what a real dictator, who makes you obey or else, is.

Don’t expect to see any sort of “resistance” against China from the NBA, not when there is something to actually lose on the line.

What I saw during a side visit at CPAC 2018 to a Pinball Spot in Bethesda is finally showing in polling…

In 2018 I was at CPAC with my sons when the younger seeing that I was, as usual, driving myself to a ridiculous point suggested doing something different, so we went on a little trip to a pinball place in Bethesda where I found what I thought was the most significant interview of the trip.

and wrote why this interview was so significant

Now a person like my self who has covered angry mobs last year, and is constantly bathed in the political fight, not to mention the media narrative of absolute Trump / GOP hatred and constantly in the company of activists both at home and at CPAC,  might expect a Democrat woman of color living in a blue state to give answers fitting the us vs them narrative, particularly if filmed and in the presence of her friends.
She did not.
She gave the President mixed marks, complemented him on keeping campaign promises that he made to his people, noted that as a Democrat she’d like to see some more moderate moves. Her answers had none of the rancor or the division that the media has pushed on us for the year or that I’ve seen from angry activists. They were completely reasonable answers that would not have been out of place several decades ago in a saner time when I remembered people could disagree and get along. In other words they reflected who she is, a normal American trying to get by whose primary focus is real life instead of manufactured outrage.

Remember this was 2018, Mueller was still out there, plenty of people thought there was lot of “there” there. Stormy Daniels was still out there as was the creepy porn lawyer. In fact we were still in the pre-Kavanaugh era. In other words the entire spectacle had not yet blown up on the left.

This interview, given in public on film in front of friends made me draw two conclusions, the second being the most significant

  1. Despite what our media friends are trying to sell us, Regular Democrats, even democrats in a blue place like Maryland are not wedded to the Peloxi/CNN/MSNBC line and are seeing this president for what he is rather than what they are being told he is.
  2. People like Lea are winnable and the media narrative is all about convincing us she is not.

When we got back to CPAC I couldn’t wait to upload the video and rushed to tell every person I ran into that this was incredibly important and tremendously significant. Nobody seemed to care, we were in the CPAC bubble which meant all eyes were on the pols and the activists there, not to mention the President’s upcoming speech. The idea that this might be a signal of an opening to the black community for the President and the opposition of blacks to the president might be softer than other think was something totally off everyone’s radar.

Not anymore:

From David Bernstein at Instapundit

BUT MUH NARRATIVE: 32% of African American men would vote for Donald Trump over a generic Democratic nominee.130

Well what do you know, I guess this info is out of the bubble now, and if it’s true then the danger to the Democrats goes well beyond this election.

But there is more to this poll story than meets the eye that doesn’t bode well for the left, but that’s a story for tomorrow’s post.

Massachusetts New Across the Board Pay Cut

Two days at work there were passing out a sheet to employees to read and sign. Since almost the entire workforce is Spanish speaking they only had one English language copy so I didn’t get the form until yesterday.

Apparently Massachusetts with it’s veto proof Democrat majorities in both the house and senate decided that having NY & CT nextdoor is enough to keep business in the state so they passed a law mandating PAID leave, Up to 20 weeks for having kids and up to 26 weeks for a medical condition, up to a max of $840 a week (That’s $42K a year). Under the law the employer is responsible for 60% of this dough while the state is responsible for the other 40%, but where does the state get this money?

Well it gets it from workers. A deductions of .75% from your paycheck will be starting shortly to pay for this and oddly enough, the deduction is coming two years before this goes into effect (I suspect to make it look like it covers the costs) so you get to pay for this plan for over a year before anyone gets a penny.

Now when I read this aloud and mentioned what it actually involved the people around me seemed to think it was a good idea. The chance to get a full paycheck for 20+ weeks without working sounded really good, at least they did until I pointed out some basic math that I did in my head.

The current minimum wage in MA is $12 and goes to up .75 each Jan 1st till it hits $15 an hour. Because of the Trump economy and the difficulty in getting workers the temps are getting as much as $13 an hour. So here is the math:

$13.00 & .0075 = .0975

When people hear “three quarters of one percent” they think less than a penny, but oddly enough when I told the person working next to me that thanks to this new law he would now be making .10 less an hour he attitude toward the new law changed dramatically. People understand the difference between getting ten cents an hour less than not.

He objected to the boss who reiterated that the cost was only three quarters of one percent which seemed to placate him even though that amount was still the same .10 an hour less.

I wonder how many tens of thousands of people in the state never even thought about how much that pay cut is, or more importantly how much that pay cut is going to become once people start making claims in two years.

Closing thought: In a Trump economy that’s booming, a state like Massachusetts and the business located there might, just might be growing enough to absorb all of these costs. What happens when he and the policies that have produced all this growth are gone and these bills still have to be paid?

The New Green Deal – Starvation

by 3Planets

Many, if not all the Democratic Party candidates vying for nomination for President, to a man, woman or other, support the removal and criminalization of the internal combustion engine.  The cost to the environment like totally outweighs our need to grow and harvest food.  You know, the soy beans and veggies necessary to support life on earth as they know it.

It wasn’t too long ago – just in the beginning of the 1900’s – that having enough food was a real concern.  Does anybody remember the election slogan “a chicken in every pot”? Bonus points if you can name the politician who said it.  Hunger does exist in America.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as of just two years ago, 12.3 percent of American households remain food insecure – meaning that 1 in 8 households in the United States had difficulty at some time during the year in providing enough food for all their members.

These Democrat Party Candidates all support the starvation of low income and most unfortunate of our country!  How can I say that?

To understand, one only needs to visit a farm – a place as alien as a church to the wonderful slaver socialist city dwellers, during the harvest.  But be aware that the farmers, whose livelihoods depend upon a quick and successful harvest, may not be too happy to see you.  The harvest is the short – a matter of hours – time in which farmers have to get their ripe crops in before the snow falls, rains come and the crop begins to rot in the fields.  Without the use of many sophisticated, expensive mechanical devices known as “trucks”, “tractors”, “harvesters”, “combines” and a plethora of vehicles seen only on farms, the agricultural revolution with the delivered promise of inexpensive, nutritious food to feed rich and poor across our country and the world will be impossible.

You Can’t Eat Debt

Col Von Luger: Flyers are gentlemen, not peasants to dig in the earth. So I am surprised.

Group Captain McDonald: The English have always been keen on gardening.

Col Von Luger: Oh Yes, but flowers? It this not so?

McDonald: You can’t eat flowers

Col Von Luger: Good Point

The Great Escape 1963

 

I must confess that I was concerned when President Trump started slapping Tariff’s on China having been taught from youth that tariff’s had been one of the underlying causes of the Great Depression and knowing that China has been a great holder of our debt.

His confidence in his ability to manage our trade problems apparently has not been misplaced:

China will exempt some agricultural products from additional tariffs on U.S. goods, including pork and soybeans, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said Friday, in the latest sign of easing Sino-U.S. tensions before a new round of talks aimed at curbing a bruising trade war.

This development is of some disappointment to those looking to defeat him politically but not to producers of Pork and soybeans:

“The importance of this market to U.S. pork producers is clear,” said National Pork Producers Council President and North Carolina hog farmer David Herring. “U.S. pork exports could single handedly make a huge dent in the trade imbalance with China.”


An outbreak of deadly African swine fever, which has cut China’s pig herd by a third since mid-2018, has propelled Chinese pork prices to record levels and left the country in need of replacement supplies from overseas. U.S. pork exports to China so far this year have largely fallen short of expectations.

Ed Morrissey sees what it means.

The concessions on pork and soybeans are significant, much more so than a two-week delay in tariffs. It signals that China can’t afford to deal with a lengthy trade war, especially not this year. They may not like it, but they still need to trade in order to feed their massive population, and China might have to get used to fully opening their markets and complying with agreements to do so.

President Trump, being more successful and more experienced in business than myself and recognizing that checking China’s expansion without military confrontation was a vital American interest apparently understands one of basic facts of life, a fact that he as a person who was born to wealth might not be expected to remember.

The most imposing nation no matter how large a standing army or how broad a shadow it casts on their neihbors, is impotent if it can’t feed it’s people.

Monopoly Socialism, A Surprisingly Nuanced Game of Wits

There is a lot of talk about the game Monopoly Socialism from Hasbro. Leftists are upset and folks like me are delighted that the game pokes fun at Socialism, but let’s forget that for a moment as a gamer and ask the basic questions one might ask about a game, namely.

  1. Is it playable?
  2. Is it challenging?
  3. Is it fun
  4. Weaknesses
  5.  Is it worth your time?

1.  As to the first question the game is very easy to play, the setup is not complicated because only the community fund gets any cash, the mechanics of the game are relatively easy and it tends to move quickly, sometimes VERY quickly.  The one real issue with the game is that you’re a monopoly player you have to make sure you don’t use a monopoly mindset because that’s an easy way to lose.  Which brings us to question 2

2.  Is it Challenging.  I was quite surprised that this game take a lot of thought.  you are playing both against your opponents and the game itself.  the nature of the game means that you have to take advantage of community handouts early to get power,

but to rely too much on it leads to everybody losing.  In addition while wealth can help make a difference in winning, it’s not really the determining factor, particularly when there are so many cards that can counter you.  Furthermore if you are too far in the lead it’s an incentive for the others to let the community fund run dry and everyone loses.  Like socialism you have to boil the frog so to speak to make sure that those who can bring you down don’t understand how you are manipulating the system.  Against strong players it takes an awful lot of skill to come out ahead…just like in socialism.

3.  Is it fun?   Well this depends.  if you are a person of the right you will likely find it fun and funny right from the start simply because of the cards and effects like this one:

The fact that the game is challenging and requires wits is a bonus extra.

Now if you are a person on the left who has made socialism and politics their religion then you are likely going to be so pissed off that no amount of challenge and nuance will compensate for the great insult to your religion, however if you are a person with an open mind who likes a skillful challenge then you might still enjoy this game as it takes quite a bit of wits to win.

4.  Weaknesses.  Three come to mind, firstly it’s actually fairly easy to rumble the game in one respect.   If the players right from the start decide not to take advantage of the system to get ahead in theory you can build up the community fund to a point where it might possible to advance on your own.  However that might take a half hour of not trying to win, so depending on who you are playing with that doesn’t work.

There are some ambiguities in the rules, ,for example, while it suggest that all should contribute to the general fund it’s not clear that people can do it voluntarily.  If you are a rich player it might be worth while to pay off the debts of the community to keep the game going and I think there should be a mechanism to do that.

We have also added a house rule that would be a good addition to the game in general.  There are cards that remove your chits from project due to offenses against socialism, however in real life what tends to happen in real life that such a person commuting such an offense can usually be shaken down to buy forgiveness, so we added a rule where a person can buy forgiveness from the community with a contribution to the community fund and a partial payment to the person playing the card.  Basically it’s the Al Sharpton rule and it adds another aspect to the game, both interesting and real.

Finally I’d like it if  you could play with six rather than just four, because my gut tells me a larger group would be more interesting but much harder to win.

5.  Finally is it worth your time.  I think so, it’s a challenging game that can be finished in under an hour, even quicker if people aren’t careful.  I don’t know if I’d pay the prices I’m seeing on Amazon right now but if you want a game that is fun to play, well designed, requires some wits and has just enough luck to not make it a forgone conclusion this game is it.

My congratulations to the design team, well done  4 1/2 out of five.

NOT Off to Manchester NH to cover POTUS Rally

Today (Thursday) is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary a holy day of obligation so my day began with mass at 8 to fulfill my duty as a Catholic.

However my plans for the rest of the day are not my normal Thursday routine. Instead of getting ready for my last day of work for the week I will be heading up to Manchester NH to cover the President’s rally due to begin at 7 pm.

Thanks to the change in the economy since the last time I covered the future President during a campaign I was able to take a vacation day rather than rushing to cover then candidate Trump and then rushing to work still wearing my suit & press credential when I punched in and walked onto the floor.

That had been my plan today and if the Campaign had not decided to reject my media credential request I would at this moment be on the road grabbing a parking place half a day early and talking to the crowd that I suspect is already gathering to see him.

I decided against contacting Corey Lewandowski or folks from the NH GOP who I’ve covered for years to reverse this, I’m too old and too Sicilian for that.  If the campaign doesn’t want me there so be it.

If I had been there my plan had been to collect data for a question in my mind that I wanted to answer:

“What does the Trump base think of proposed ‘redflag’ laws and will disappointing them on the issue be enough to make them stay home in 2020?”

I think I know what the answer to that question will be, but would have rather spoken from hard data than my best guess, no matter how informed said guess might be.

New Hampshire is the perfect place to ask this question for three reasons.

1. It has a history of rejecting GOP candidates who disappoint them on the 2nd amendment see Scott Brown circa 2014.

2. Their governor Sununu , no movement conservative he, recently vetoed three anti-gun bills that the Democrat legislature passed in the wake of current events.

3. New Hampshire was a state President Trump lost by a hair in 2016 (47.62% to 47.25%) and is one that due to the booming economy might be expected to do better in circa 2020 even if there is a large run of Massachusetts voters suddenly appearing at the Granite State polls

It would have been wonderful to have a third chance to pose a question at a Trump campaign press conference, and frankly being able to question a sitting President would be the apex of any bloggers career, the real action however in my opinion, that matters in terms of Election 2020 is how his voters answered that question.

That’s, in my opinion, the story of the day, however I won’t be there to tell it.

But rest assured there will be plenty of members of the MSM who will be there, and their story of the day will be that the President is a racist, sexist, white supremacist whose economy is on the verge of recession and that those who support him are at best delusional or at worst aspiring Nazis who all aspire to be mass killers.

The fact that with minor variations this is the same story of the day that they have been telling since January 20th 2017 and before doesn’t seem to bother them as it fits in perfectly with the world view in their bubble.

Now maybe it’s just me but I’d think it would be a good idea to challenge this meme with 1st hand reporting and video to show it for the nonsense it is but hey if the President’s campaign doesn’t want that message challenged by someone like me, who am I to tell them otherwise?