America’s Silly Politics and Pundit Clown Show Continues ….

Conservative pundits losing their minds not realizing that Mr Trump’s “poor performance” was a play on them. Idiots. Mr Trump is conducting a not very smooth triangulation. By saying that any alleged attack on the 2016 elections was the fault of both sides he throws the establishment wings of both parties off kilter.

Right now he has a “strong” economy (I say that lightly. While the metrics look good, America’s economy is on a downward spiral) and he has his base’s support, a base that giveth not two shits about the establishment on either side of the spectrum. He can piss off Lindsey Graham and Paul Ryan knowing that after all the criticism, their stock is tied to his. He can piss off Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in part because he enjoys bitch slapping them both.

Trump’s Helsinki summit was never designed to get anything of substance from Vlad the Impaler. The U.S. is 14 weeks from midterms and Mr Trump is more concerned about the optics of riding the middle between both sets of the political elite while keeping the base in play for 2020. Attacking the American electoral system is a non-issue for the Deplorables. Besides, if it was that important, Pelosi would have persuaded Mr Obama to push for some quasi wartime resolution against Russia versus issuing a bunch of meaningless pardons.

What Hillary Clinton realized but was too afraid and incompetent to put in her messaging was the economic threat to U.S. energy interests posed by Russia. America became a net exporter of oil during The Man from Kenya’s administration.

Unfortunately for the Democrats they had a candidate and a bunch of Democratic congressional members too inept to craft a winning message around what should have been a positive for the American if not global economy.

Everything burns and the circus, with Democratic and Republican clowns, continues.

Decolonizing the United States Virgin Islands

It is time for the Trump administration to follow the lead of the British and cut a couple colonies loose. The one colony I would like the Administration to let go its own way is the United States Virgin Islands. One quick note, especially to Virgin Islanders who find it hard to believe that the United States looks at the USVI as anything more than a colony: your vehicle license plates. The inscription, “America’s Caribbean” is code for America’s colonial attitude toward the Virgin Islands.

Another piece of evidence is the refusal to allow American citizens living in the USVI to vote in presidential elections. USVI citizens go through the farce of sending delegates to a party convention but every four years in November they are not allowed to cast a vote in the general elections. Nor does the USVI have voting representation in the U.S. congress. Its one delegate, Stacey Plaskett, can be a member of a congressional committee, make speeches on the House floor even. But vote? No.

In addition, the USVI has no say over its external affairs. Although not a part of the U.S. customs territory, the USVI cannot enter into trade deals without the permission of the United States. The governing document for the Virgin Islands, the Organic Act of the Virgin Islands of the United States, 1954, is more of an instrument for the public administration of internal affairs under the auspices of the American congress and executive branch. With the exception of a brief discussion on the importation of infected livestock from the U.S. mainland and the placement of duties on articles imported into the Virgin Islands, the Organic Act does not empower the Virgin Islands in matters of foreign trade. Public administration of the Virgin Islands is as colonial as it gets.

But what are the benefits to the United States from colonizing the USVI? In August 1916, the United States entered into an agreement with Denmark to purchase the Danish West Indies as part of the American strategy to protect the western hemisphere from European invasion during World War II. This strategy continued into the years of the second world war. For example, the Cyril E. King International Airport on St. Thomas was the site of an old army airfield that was later named after U.S. president Harry S Truman. As a child growing up in St. Thomas in the 1960s and 1970s it was never surprising to see an attack submarine surface in the harbor at Long Bay or at the old submarine base a couple miles to the east of the harbor. As a teen-aged member of the Civil Air Patrol, I led a search and rescue exercise around Magens Bay, taking my team into an area that housed a satellite communications facility. I don’t remember if it was military, but we were spotted by a white woman in a VW Beetle who threatened to rat us out given our failure to give her an explanation as to why we were there. Needless to say, we hauled ass after completing our mission.

But today, in the 21st century, where the United States deploys nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines, satellite communications, and long-range jets, does the U.S. really need to use the Virgin Islands as a land-based aircraft carrier in the Caribbean Sea?

And given that the Virgin Islands keeps the federal income taxes it collects from its residents while enjoying limited social welfare benefits, the United States is probably losing a few billion dollars in tax and other revenues.

Politically, where is the benefit to either Democrats or Republicans in the United States from America’s Caribbean? Again, the delegate from the Virgin Islands is a non-voting member of the U.S. House. The thirty or so thousand eligible voters, while allowed to cast, in my opinion, a symbolic vote in the primaries and send delegates to the parties’ conventions, are not allowed to vote for president.

Culturally, the Virgin Islands do not add to America’s social fabric. While a significant portion of the population enjoy the trimmings of Americanism, from shopping to cable television to American sports, we are still, whether we are aware of it or not, still Caribbean. We live in two worlds with a significant “down island” portion of the population helping to keep our feet in the goings on of the Lesser Antilles. The Democrats would not want Virgin Islanders playing a significant role in their party politics. West Indians are more conservative than your run-of-the-mill American, and while most won’t admit it, do not share as close an affinity to black Americans as most would think, skin color notwithstanding.

Other than the prestige of saying that, like other European powers, they are in possession of overseas territories, I see no benefit to the United States in playing the empire game in the Caribbean. The United States should truly consider some decolonizing especially if it nudges my people to more self-determination.

White people need to stop beating up on themselves

America is a European nation. Its foundation is based on a “winner take all” philosophy, a philosophy honed during Europe’s “Dark Ages”; a philosophy that black Americans cannot come to terms with. Failure to come to terms with the legal, economic, and political paradigms that underlie the European outlook on the world has hampered the ability of black Americans to properly navigate the American political economy. In lieu of the conqueror philosophy exhibited by Europeans over the past 500 years, black Americans have chosen the path of assimilation and appeasement, deciding to make and rely on moral arguments in exchange for an easement granting access to limited civil rights and discounted economic opportunities. The result is a second-tier status of citizenship where black Americans are in constant reactive mode every time their limited civil rights and economic opportunities are threatened.

The perception that the current administration of President Donald J. Trump is working to destroy civil rights gains and set American society back 60 years has spawned black American reactive tactics over the past 18 months. Ironically, most black American responses to Mr. Trump have been done in conjunction with other groups that do not have black American interests as their priority.
One example is the alignment of Black Americans with the latest in white feminist initiatives, the “Me Too” movement, where a number of women have brought sexual harassment and assault claims against a number of prominent men in the entertainment, media, and business sectors. Not only is the vast majority of these women made up of whites, but these white women are nowhere to be found during black protests of police shootings, predatory mortgage financing, or closures of factories that employ a significant number of blacks.

The same can be said of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Queer Transgender community, a group that sees an outpouring of support by blacks especially on social media, but like their white female counterparts, are quick to find the closet when the issue is the economic and political attack on black existence in America.

Blacks, who have a ridiculous penchant for aligning with any group that has a touch of brown in their skin have found themselves on the immigration bandwagon, heading to the streets and the southern border to protest the latest “catch and release” policy of the Trump administration, specifically taking issue with Mr. Trump’s policy of separating young children from parents when they arrive at the Mexico-United States border. Black American political and civic leaders are good at pulling heart strings, a skill honed during the civil rights era and one that white liberals and progressives in the Democratic Party are happy to enlist and leverage. But again, where are their Central American “brothers and sisters” when blacks have their civil rights violated? I have yet to see or hear any heads of state from Central America go the floor of the United Nations and chastise the American government for their wrongs.

But while liberal white America may be happy to have black America chant the “kumbaya” when it benefits them, the rest of America may be weary of hearing moral, heart-tugging arguments. Many Americans can trace their family’s time in North America to the 17th and are not naïve as to why their ancestors came here and the worldview they applied in conquering America. In their eyes their ancestors did nothing wrong and may be tired of being forced to offer some apology for their ancestors’ behavior.

And I agree with them….

A people’s weakness is measured in part by their inability to chart and create their own expectations and not rely on another group’s willingness to exude goodwill. This is a flaw in black American philosophy, a flaw that blacks will have to address on their own without the help of white America. The early Europeans that traded for or in some instances kidnapped Africans as slaves were following their own worldview. Morality was not an issue for them, at least as it pertained to the treatment of Africans. Blacks are too busy asking the descendants of colonizing whites to deviate from a business model that has worked for them for the last 500 years. That is not happening. While I would never congratulate whites for their brutality towards non-Europeans, I would never hold them to my standards of morality or view of reality. I can merely acknowledge that they accomplished their mission.

Rather than seeking to keep white Americans on the perpetual guilt treadmill, black America should spend time rebooting their mission and white America can contribute to the black reboot by getting off of the guilt wagon. It does no one any good.

Of Trade Wars and Hot Mess

As I listen to U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, discuss with Bloomberg Television U.S. trade action against Canada and Mexico as inappropriate because of their statuses as allies to the United States, I have to ask myself, if they are allies and given the increase in costs consumers face because of tariffs, why not remove tariffs from all items imported?

The reality is that trade is war, no matter a country’s cultural or political affinity with its neighbor. Tariffs are barriers to markets. Canada and Mexico, just like China, are telling the U.S. to stay out of their markets unless invited to deliver a particular set of services or products. There are no allies in trade.

So why is the term “ally” used during these discussions? Ally is a term used to keep the “pawns” i.e. the electorate on board with destructive policies; to make voters feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves; that they are somehow a part of the decision making process.

In reality, the only “skin in the game” the electorate has is the skin, limbs, and lives they lose when a trade war becomes a live fire war

Liberty doesn’t need a strict constitutionalist. Liberty requires the Constitution be busted up

The rancor toward President Trump for his choice of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the next member of the United States Supreme Court is no surprise. Democratic members of the U.S. Senate, the body responsible under the United States Constitution for confirming Mr. Kavanaugh, probably had their Twitter statements pre-written and ready to be unleashed onto cyberspace.

On the other side, Republican senators and voters were already praising Judge Kavanaugh as a strict constructionist, an individual who stays within the four corners of the Constitution when seeking a rationale for deciding whether an act by a party to the controversy before the court violated the Constitution. This type of conservative treatment scares liberals who apparently prefer treat the Constitution as a living document that can be stretched and molded to conform with the social norms and mores of the time.

Progressives have long championed using the Constitution as a tool for creating rights and classes out of thin air much like the Federal Reserve prints cash out of the ether. The past 65 years have seen society segmented by race, sex, sexual preference, religious preference, and commercial classes and the federal courts have been used as the meat cleaver for slicing and dicing American society into not so equal classes, at times not delivering the justice members of these classes seek. In the case of the Supreme Court, its decisions are binding on the entire country, and therein lies the problem. By issuing opinions on areas outside its jurisdiction, the Supreme Court and all its inferior courts have contributed to the creation of a society connected by top down values and laws and an allegiance to a single, inorganic fealty. The Supreme Court and all its inferior courts are contributing to the demise of liberty.

Regarding the federal courts’ jurisdiction, from Article III, Section 2:

“The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; — to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; — to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; — to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; — to controversies between two or more States; — between a State and citizens of another State; — between citizens of different States, — between citizens of the same State claiming land under grants of different States, and between a State, or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens or subjects.

In all cases affecting ambassadors, or other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a State shall be party, the supreme court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.

The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury, and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.”

The first line of Article III, Section 2, gives an opening to parties that may want to take a local grievance, say between a cake baker and a gay couple in a town in Colorado, and use the federal courts to create a law that becomes applicable to citizens living thousands of miles away from the incident. The rest of the article severely limits the federal judiciary’s involvement in private lives.
I don’t think the limits go far enough.

Ideally, I want to see individuals take back their sovereignty by settling as many disputes as possible privately, outside the State mechanism of a court. If a federal court is going to be involved in solving disputes i.e. those involving diversity of residence, it should, as it does now, apply State law to the controversy. Otherwise, the final appellate body in any intrastate dispute, criminal or civil, should be a State’s highest court. A dispute in Maryland shouldn’t be resolved by a federal court opinion that holds that the opinion is applicable in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, or West Virginia. Federal courts should focus on controversies between the Executive and the Congress; between a State and the federal government; and between the States.

Kavanaugh’s views on abortion would be irrelevant of we knew that the federal court could not create national law out of local controversy.

Competition was never about protecting consumers.

I became suspect of the “competition protects consumer” narrative way back in 1987. In the spring of that year I started work part-time at a gas station. On the first day my manager explained to me how the gas station determined its gas prices. I told him I was under the impression that the station used some type of mathematical pricing formula ala what I learned in college as an economics major. “Bless” his heart. I can still see the look on his face when I laid that “what I learned in the classroom” nonsense on him. “No”, he said. “That’s not how you do it. What you do is each morning look across the street and see what the other station is charging and then change our prices to reflect theirs.”

It was a rude awakening for a 23-year old: that the theoretical stuff you learned as an undergrad was so much nonsense. That consumers of gas station fuel were being taken on a roller coaster ride of gas pricing based on what the gas station across the street was charging.

Of course, there are other factors that contribute to the changes in gasoline prices at the pump; the supply of oil, the price of a barrel of oil, decisions by oil supplying cartels, i.e. OPEC, the barriers to entering the local retail gas market, and regulations against price gouging. If local regulations allowed more retail gas operations to enter the market, in theory prices should fall. And if antitrust rules are enforced, retailers would be prohibited from acting in concert to raise prices. For the past 130 years this alleged consumer centric view of competition has dominated economic and legal thinking. As Americans left the farm and moved to the city, their self-reliance values were replaced by consumerist values. Americans became targets for a progressive philosophy that replaced self-reliance with the narrative of government protection. Trusts, large monopoly firms, had to be broken up to ensure that the emerging consumer class was not taken advantage of via high prices or low quality of services. “Competition” was to be the rallying cry.

But is competition as we know it today realistic or just a coopting of a term for political gain? What are firms really competing for and who does the promotion of competition actually benefit? In a corporate-capitalist system, analysis of any economic issue should begin with a question concerning the preferences of those holding capital. The entrepreneur and investor choose an activity that may result in increasing the amount of capital they hold at the end of the day. For the investor in particular she is concerned not primarily with consumer choice but with the ability of her capital to be placed and optimized in as many markets via as many opportunities as possible.

For the holder of capital, real competition is synonymous to the wealthy person in the Book of Matthew who gave his serfs a certain amount of talents and required that each one of them maximize returns on those talents. He wanted them to compete with each other like an episode from “The Highlander” with the victor receiving a portion of the returns in exchange for the labor they expended in generating those returns.

And the consumer’s role in this vendor competition? Simply, the consumer’s role is to be “coined.” Once the consumer gave up their willingness to be self-reliant, he put himself at the mercy of the entrepreneur and the investor. The consumer protection narrative is designed to ensure his comfort with exchanging personal and economic liberty with the convenience of having his needs provided by the capitalist. The illusion of choice makes him available for exploitation in the vendor competition scenario. The greater the number of consumers available for exploitation, the greater the opportunity for the entrepreneur to demonstrate to capital that it has the ability to maximize returns on and to capital. For the investor, this means that the larger the number of consumers, the more the market can be segmented and greater segmentation creates greater opportunities for creating monopolies within sub-markets. A monopoly structure leads, per microeconomic theory, to opportunities to increase prices. Contrary to the progressive narrative that a competitive market structure is the most desirable, a monopoly market structure is the ideal for entrepreneur and investor.

Consumer protection is valid only to the extent that it makes a buyer available for entrepreneur and investor exploitation. To limit the level of exploitation, the consumer should pursue self-reliance in as many areas of economic life as possible. It will require embracing more inconvenience in return for more peace and liberty.

Can Blacks use the law of discovery to carve out new territory and capital?

One of the failures of black leadership is its unwillingness to pursue a truly self-interested agenda for the people they allegedly represent. The current narrative of assimilation does not work. It puts blacks in an unequal and weak position compared to whites and other non-white populations who have pursued a capital acquisition policy first versus a political empowerment/assimilation approach still preferred by most blacks. It never discusses in any significant way the acquisition of productive capital around which communities can be built. Rather, the assimilationist argument centers on fluffy subjects such as social justice, membership of degreed blacks on the boards of white-owned corporations, and affirmative action in the workplace and in colleges and universities.

To be fair, a number of grass roots advocates do bring up the topic of access to capital by black-owned firms, but the problem is that business capital, whether in the form of loanable funds or equity investment is small compared to the number of black businesses in need of funding. Also, there is the risk that terms and conditions underlying the funding of black enterprise firms may not representative of the black population primarily because the boards that direct these underwriters are probably not members of the community in the first place. Just take a look at the names and faces of the members of the typical executive committee or board of directors and you see my point.

Blacks, as a people, simply are not calling their own shots. If you listen to the rhetoric of current black political leaders, liberty and freedom as it pertains to capital, are not a part of the lexicon. Black political leadership is more concerned with keeping blacks available to vote for white Democratic Party candidates as opposed to self-reliance. Probably in the minds of black political leadership, self-reliance would be akin to self-determination or nationalism and these leaders are afraid that such an approach would sever their attachment to America. But the attachment to America is false one, as I have argued before, because blacks did not come here voluntarily and apply the law of discovery.

To summarize Chief Justice John Marshall, the European came to North America but while acknowledging its Native American occupants, the law of discovery, of showing up first, gave title to the country making the discovery. That Native Americans were there first was irrelevant. Once, say England, made its discovery of what would later become the United States, it created a title that excluded claims by any other European power. Establishing this “title” over the land meant of course establishing control over its natural resources; land, air, water, minerals, the stuff that supports production, transportation, communications, energy generation and distribution.

To the activities that land, water, air, minerals, paid, indentured, and enslaved labor supported, the European was able to attach “coin”; to monetize. He would later create a centralized banking system to underwrite his government’s issue of debt as well as serve as the lender of last resort to commercial banks. The European’s financial system would, in conjunction with public sector investment, underwrite technological innovations that would further spur the design and production of consumer goods and services.

Blacks have been left largely out of the ownership of productive capital in the American political economy and as I have discussed in previous posts, it is too late and probably impractical to attempt any action under the laws of discovery for the purpose of acquiring the natural resources that underpin an economy that would support 43 million people on a self-sustainable, self-reliant way. But I do not think this is impossible.

Cyberspace provides “territory” that blacks can conquer and extract capital from. From the time I immigrated to the mainland I have always believed that blacks had the intellectual resources to construct their own vibrant economy. It boils down to a willingness of the black population to use broadband technology to connect to and import resources from outside of the United States and mixing those resources with the access to land, air, minerals, and water that blacks have here in the United States. It means the black population using its engineering skills to build a renewable energy infrastructure that provides electricity to its population. It means building communications networks using unlicensed to spectrum to tie black households to basic services. It means using the black population’s legal talent to advocate for laws that protect the importation of items into the United States that can be processed by plants designed and built in the U.S. by black engineers. It means using financial talent to reinvest these proceeds back into the black population and further growing its resources and income.

The great thing about applying the “law of discovery” to cyberspace is that no one has to be kicked out or enslaved. There is still plenty of territory to carve up; to reverse colonize but this time with equitable results.