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When Normality Became Abnormal

By Victor Davis HansonAmerican Greatness

Donald Trump is many things. But one thing he is not is a defender of the 2009-2016 status quo and accepted progressive convention. Since 2017, everything has been in flux. Lots of past conventional assumptions of the Obama-Clinton-Romney-Bush generation were as unquestioned as they were suspect. No longer.

Everyone knew the Iran deal was a way for the mullahs to buy time and hoard their oil profits, to purchase or steal nuclear technology, to feign moderation, and to trade some hostages for millions in terrorist-seeding cash, and then in a few years spring an announcement that it had the bomb.

No one wished to say that. Trump did. He canceled the flawed deal without a second thought.

Iran is furious, but in a far weaker—and eroding—strategic position with no serious means of escaping devastating sanctions, general impoverishment, and social unrest. So a desperate Tehran knows that it must make some show of defiance. Yet it accepts that if it were to launch a missile at a U.S. ship, hijack an American boat, or shoot down an American plane, the ensuing tit-for-tat retaliation might target the point of Iranian origin (the port that launched the ship, the airbase from which the plane took off, the silo from which the missile was launched) rather than the mere point of contact—and signal a serial stand-off 10-1 disproportionate response to every Iranian attack without ever causing a Persian Gulf war.

Everyone realized the Paris Climate Accord was a way for elites to virtue signal their green bona fides while making no adjustments in their global managerial lifestyles—at best. At worst, it was a shake-down both to transfer assets from the industrialized West to the “developing world” and to dull Western competitiveness with ascending rivals like India and China. Not now. Trump withdrew from the agreement, met or exceeded the carbon emissions reductions of the deal anyway, and has never looked back at the flawed convention. The remaining signatories have little response to the U.S. departure, and none at all to de facto American compliance to their own targeted goals.

Rich NATO allies either could not or would not pay their promised defense commitments to the alliance. To embarrass them into doing so was seen as heretical. No more.

Trump jawboned and ranted about the asymmetries. And more nations are increasing rather than decreasing their defense budgets. The private consensus is that the NATO allies knew all along that they were exactly what Barack Obama once called “free riders” and justified that subsidization by ankle-biting the foreign policies of the United States—as if an uncouth America was lucky to underwrite such principled members. Again, no more fantasies.

China was fated to rule the world. Period. Whining about its systematic commercial cheating was supposedly merely delaying the inevitable or would have bad repercussions later on. Progressives knew the Communists put tens of thousands of people in camps, rounded up Muslims, and destroyed civil liberties, and yet in “woke” fashion tip-toed around criticizing the Other. Trump then destroyed the mirage of China as a Westernizing aspirant to the family of nations. In a protracted tariff struggle, there are lots of countries in Asia that could produce cheap goods as readily as China, but far fewer countries like the United States that have money to be siphoned off in mercantilist trade deals, or the technology to steal, or the preferred homes and universities in which to invest.

The Palestinians were canonized as permanent refugees. The U.S. embassy could never safely move to the Israeli capital in Jerusalem. The Golan Heights were Syrian. Only a two-state solution requiring Israel to give back all the strategic border land it inherited when its defeated enemies sought to destroy it in five prior losing wars would bring peace. Not now.

The Palestinians for the last 50 years were always about as much refugees as the East Prussian Germans or the Egyptian Jews and Greeks that were cleansed from their ancestral homelands in the Middle East in the same period of turbulence as the birth of Israel. “Occupied” land more likely conjures up Tibet and Cyprus not the West Bank, and persecuted Muslims are not found in Israel, but in China.

Suddenly Redeemable
An aging population, the veritable end to U.S. manufacturing and heavy industry, and an opioid epidemic meant that America needed to get used to stagnant 1 percent growth, a declining standard of living, a permanent large pool of the unemployed, an annual increasing labor non-participation rate, and a lasting rust belt of deplorables, irredeemables, clingers and “crazies” who needed to be analyzed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. At best, a middle-aged deplorable was supposed to learn to code or relocate to the Texas fracking fields. Perhaps not now.

In the last 30 months, the question of the Rust Belt has been reframed to why, with a great workforce, cheap energy, good administrative talent, and a business-friendly administration, cannot the United States make more of what it needs? Why, if trade deficits are irrelevant, do Germany, China, Japan, and Mexico find them so unpleasant? If unfettered trade is so essential, why do so many of our enemies and friends insist that we almost alone trade “fairly,” while they trade freely and unfairly? Why do not Germany and China argue that their vast global account surpluses are largely irrelevant?

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) assured us that the world would be suffocating under greenhouse gases within 12 years. Doom-and-gloom prophecies of “peak” oil warned us that our oil reserves would dry up by the early 21st century. Former Vice President Al Gore warned us that our port cities would soon be underwater. Economists claimed Saudi Arabia or Russia would one day control the world by opening and closing their oil spigots. Not now.

Three million more barrels of American oil are being produced per day just since Trump took office. New pipelines will ensure that the United States is not just the world’s greatest producer of natural gas but perhaps its largest exporter as well.

Trump blew up those prognostications and replaced them with an optimistic agenda that the working- and middle classes deserve affordable energy, that the United States could produce fossil fuels more cleanly, wisely, and efficiently than the Middle East, and that ensuring increased energy could revive places in the United States that were supposedly fossilized and irrelevant. Normal is utilizing to the fullest extent a resource that can discourage military adventurism in the Middle East, provide jobs to the unemployed, and reduce the cost of living for the middle class; abnormal is listening to the progressive elite for whom spiking gasoline and power bills were a very minor nuisance.

Changing Roles
Open borders were our unspoken future. The best of the Chamber of Commerce Republicans felt that millions of illegal aliens might eventually break faith with the progressive party of entitlements; the worst of the open borders lot argued that cheap labor was more important than sovereignty and certainly more in their interests than any worry over the poor working classes of their own country. And so Republicans for the last 40 years joined progressives in ensuring that illegal immigration was mostly not measured, meritocratic, diverse, or lawful, but instead a means to serve a number of political agendas.

Most Americans demurred, but kept silent given the barrage of “racist,” “xenophobe,” and “nativist” cries that met any measured objection. Not so much now. Few any longer claim that the southern border is not being overrun, much less that allowing a non-diverse million illegal aliens in six months to flood into the United States without audit is proof that “diversity is our strength.”

The Republican Party’s prior role was to slow down the inevitable trajectory to European socialism, the end of American exceptionalism, and homogenized globalized culture. Losing nobly in national elections was one way of keeping one’s dignity, weepy wounded-fawn style, while the progressive historical arc kept bending to our collective future. Rolling one’s eyes on Sunday talk shows as a progressive outlined the next unhinged agenda was proof of tough resistance.

Like it or not, now lines are drawn. Trump so unhinged the Left that it finally tore off its occasional veneer of moderation, and showed us what progressives had in store for America.

On one side in 2020 is socialism, “Medicare for All,” wealth taxes, top income tax rates of 70 or 80 or 90 percent, a desire for a Supreme Court of full of “wise Latinas” like Sonia Sotomayor, insidious curtailment of the First and Second Amendments, open borders, blanket amnesties, reparations, judges as progressive legislators, permissible infanticide, abolition of student debt, elimination of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau and the Electoral College, voting rights for 16-year-olds and felons, and free college tuition.

On the other side is free-market capitalism but within a framework of fair rather than unfettered international trade, a smaller administrative state, less taxation and regulation, constitutionalist  judges, more gas and oil, record low unemployment, 3-4 percent economic growth, and pressure on colleges to honor the Bill of Rights.

The New, New Normal
The choices are at least starker now. The strategy is not, as in 2008 and 2012, to offer a moderate slow-down of progressivism, but rather a complete repudiation of it.

One way is to see this as a collision between Trump, the proverbial bull, and the administrative state as a targeted precious china shop—with all the inevitable nihilistic mix-up of horns, hooves, and flying porcelain shards. But quite another is to conclude that what we recently used to think was abjectly abnormal twenty years ago had become not just “normal,” but so orthodoxly normal that even suggesting it was not was judged to be heretical and deserving of censure and worse.

The current normal correctives were denounced as abnormal—as if living in a sovereign state with secure borders, assuming that the law was enforced equally among all Americans, demanding that citizenship was something more than mere residence, and remembering that successful Americans, not their government, built their own businesses and lives is now somehow aberrant or perverse.

Trump’s political problem, then, may be that the accelerating aberration of 2009-2016 was of such magnitude that normalcy is now seen as sacrilege.

Weaponizing the IRS, unleashing the FBI to spy on political enemies and to plot the removal of an elected president, politicizing the CIA to help to warp U.S. politics, allying the Justice Department with the Democratic National Committee, and reducing FISA courts to rubber stamps for pursuing administration enemies became the new normal. Calling all that a near coup was abnormal.

Let us hope that most Americans still prefer the abnormal remedy to the normal pathology.


3,453 Days And Counting: The Bull That Wouldn’t Die

By Investor’s Business Daily

Bull Market: Amid all the political noise in Washington, a milestone was passed Wednesday, one you may not have noticed. The bull market for stocks has now become the longest since World War II. Can it continue? That depends on federal policies.

We’re grateful to CNBC for actually counting the days: 3,453, starting on March 9, 2009. That’s a long time — 9.46 years to be exact.

Yes, it’s been a bull for the record books. Even so, we would note that the bull hasn’t been without tests to its longevity. And some might even deny it’s been a bull market all this time.

One common definition of a bear market is a decline of a major stock index by 20% or more from its previous all-time high, or 52-week high. Well, way back in 2011, the market was actually off more than 20% from its previous high, but on an intraday basis. So, technically, some think the bull ended. But it snapped back by the end of the day’s trading, so others say no.

But however you look at it, the fact is that the market has been on a long-term tear. The bull run began Continue reading


Surprise! Despite Media Trash Talk, Nation’s Mood Brightens

By Investors Business Daily

Change: A just-released IBD/TIPP Poll shows big gains in key sentiment indicators. Given the pervasive negativity in the media these days, you might doubt these positive polling numbers. If so, have you looked at the economy lately?

When it comes to President Trump and the national mood, something seems to have happened in recent weeks, as shown by our IBD/TIPP Poll of 900 people taken from July 26 to August 2. Keep in mind that anything over 50 is optimistic; under 50, pessimistic.

Start with our Presidential Leadership Index, which jumped 3.2% in August to 45.7, the highest level since President Trump’s first full month in office.

Equally important, the Direction of the Country Index, which gauges how Americans feel about our nation’s current course, surged 13% to 50.1 in August. That’s the highest level since 2005.

Continue reading


President Trump’s Economic Recovery Proves America’s Freedom Still Has A Chance

By Adam Mill • The Federalist

Recently, Jesse Kelly wrote a worthy article forecasting the United States’ decline and eventual suffocation in the quicksand of socialism. He correctly notes that as government gets bigger, freedom must get smaller.

Kelly clearly fears a socialist America will follow the failures of Greece, Venezuela, and every other country that has followed a welfare state model to its logical conclusion. While he is absolutely right that economic failure and socialism are inexorably related, he is not correct that the United States is on an unstoppable path to this oblivion.

Take cheer, Kelly: we have reason to be optimistic as a result of President Trump’s brief but dazzling experiment with cutting taxes and regulation. While government is growing, it’s not growing fast enough to crowd-out all freedom. One byproduct of the Trump boom is that economic growth is actually outpacing growth in government spending. The government’s share of gross domestic product has fallen to Continue reading


More Jobs. Higher Wages. Surging Economy. Where’s Our Thanks To Trump?

By Peter RoffNewsweek

1,000,000 new jobs. You’d think you’d hear a lot about such an impressive number. So far, it’s made little splash in the media. Nonetheless, since the Republican tax cuts were signed into the law the U.S. economy has created one million new jobs. And that’s just the beginning of the good news.

In May 2018 alone, defying the expectations of many economists, 223,000 jobs were created. The unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8 percent, its lowest point since April 2000. Unemployment among black people and Hispanics is at the lowest point since the numbers were first broken out by race during the Nixon Administration.

The American economy is surging, even before the new, lower corporate and personal tax rates go into effect. The promise that companies and most individuals will soon be able to keep more of what they earn has, alongside the Trump Administration’s successful effort to deregulate vital sectors of the economy, Continue reading


Boom — Jobs Aplenty as Economy Steams Ahead

By Washington Examiner

The economy is booming. Even the New York Times, no fan of the president, decided that “splendid” and “excellent” were appropriate adjectives to describe Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These showed the nationwide unemployment rate falling to 3.8 percent. If it improves yet further, it will hit lows not seen since the 1960s. The unemployment rate among black people fell to 5.9 percent, an all-time low, which makes one wonder how many African-American voters might think twice about voting against the incumbent Republicans in the midterm elections. The Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point, but remains below 5 percent. Before President Trump took office, that stat could only be said of one month since the statistics bureau began tracking it in the 1970s.

The good news is not confined to the fact that there is an abundance of jobs. Wages are rising, too. For the first time Continue reading


U.S. Economy Has Its Growth Mojo Back

By Stephen Moore • Investor’s Business Daily

T.S. Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” but when it comes to America’s fiscal picture, nothing could be further from the truth about this April. The latest government numbers confirm that last month was a blockbuster for growth, federal revenues, and deficit reduction.

One of the key principles of Trumponomics is that faster economic growth can help solve a multitude of other social and economic problems – from poverty, to inner-city decline, to lowering the national debt.

We’re not quite at a sustained elevated growth rate of 3% yet, but the latest economy snapshot tells us we are knocking on the door. The growth rate over the last four quarters came in at 2.9% — which Continue reading


U.S. Back At No. 1 Competitiveness Ranking

By Investor’s Business Daily

Economy: Have Donald Trump’s policies had a big impact on the U.S. economy and its competitiveness? The answer, we think, is an obvious yes. Now comes a new report, based mainly on “hard” data, that confirms that.

The report comes from the IMD Competitiveness Center in Switzerland. Each year it ranks countries by 256 different variables to come up with its global competitiveness rankings.

For 2018, there was a surprise: The U.S. leapt three places to take over the top spot in global competitiveness — just ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland. That jump was based on its “strength in economic performance and infrastructure,” ranking first in both areas.

That this is so shouldn’t shock anyone with any knowledge of what’s going on in the economy.

Since Trump took office, GDP growth has Continue reading


IMF: Tax Reform Projected to Push GDP Growth Higher

By Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump in December, is projected to push GDP growth higher than previously expected. Growth is forecast to rise to 2.7 percent in 2018, according to a report from the International Monetary Fund.

The changes from tax reform are expected to add to economic growth through 2020 so real GDP will be roughly 1.2 percent higher than it would be without tax reform.

The IMF previously projected that GDP would increase by 2.3 percent in 2018 and 1.9 percent in 2019. The group now projects GDP will increase by 2.7 percent in 2018 and by 2.5 percent in 2019.

“The growth forecast for the United States has been revised up given stronger than expected activity in 2017, higher projected external demand, and the expected macroeconomic impact of the tax reform, in particular the Continue reading


Get Ready for Economic Liftoff

A record-setting stock market is just one of the big effects Trump's policies are having.

By Peter RoffUS News

The supposedly smart people said Donald Trump would destroy the U.S. economy if he were elected president.

They were wrong. On Thursday, the Dow broke 25,000 for the first time in its history – a meaningful expression of investor confidence in the future. Trump’s policies of deregulation, which have been moving ahead at full steam even before the tax cut bill passed just before Christmas, have helped push the stock market up by a third which, economist Arthur Laffer estimates, works about to about a $6 trillion increase in the nation’s net wealth.

That may not be historic – there may be periods in which wealth has increased at a faster rate – but it sure is impressive. Especially since the same smart people who’ve been telling us Trump would wreck the economy spent the Obama years explaining annual growth at less than 3 percent (and likely closer to 2) was the new normal.

It’s still a little early to proclaim “happy days are here again” but, as the Magic 8 Ball puts it, “all signs point to ‘Yes'” as far as whether there will be a period of protracted economic growth. That Continue reading


The Trump Effect: Business, Anticipating Less Regulation, Loosens Purse Strings

By Binyamen Appelbaum and Jim Tankersly • New York Times

WASHINGTON — A wave of optimism has swept over American business
leaders, and it is beginning to translate into the sort of investment in new
plants, equipment and factory upgrades that bolsters economic growth, spurs
job creation — and may finally raise wages significantly.

While business leaders are eager for the tax cuts that take effect this year,
the newfound confidence was initially inspired by the Trump administration’s
regulatory pullback, not so much because deregulation is saving companies
money but because the administration has instilled a faith in business
executives that new regulations are not coming.

“It’s an overall sense that you’re not going to face any new regulatory
fights,” said Granger MacDonald, a home builder in Kerrville, Tex. “We’re not
spending more, which is the main thing. We’re not seeing any savings, but
we’re not seeing any increases.”

The applause from top executives has been largely reserved for the
administration’s economic policy agenda. Many chief executives have been
publicly critical of President Trump’s approach to social and cultural issues,
Continue reading


The Tax Cut Bill Is Just the Beginning

It's a good start, but it can't be the end of the GOP's economic efforts.

By Peter RoffUS News

The Republicans have kicked off the New Year with an earnest effort to sell the American public on the benefits of the tax bill just passed. It’s better than nothing, but if they hadn’t put the cart before the horse in the first place, they might not be in as much of a mess.

To be sure, achieving the first major overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years without the single vote of a single Democrat is a considerable accomplishment. And, unlike the Affordable Care Act – with all the regulations and other nonsense Barack Obama piled on the economy in his first two years – the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 will be a boost to the economy rather than a drag. Still and all, telling the voters they should be for it because it puts more money in their pockets (or, more accurately, leaves it there in about nine out of 10 cases) doesn’t really constitute a Reaganesque vision for a more prosperous America in which each citizen has a vested share.

Hopefully things will turn towards the better, and soon, meaning the Republicans will retain control of Congress through 2020 and be able to pass additional tax cuts, continue to lessen the size of government, remove unnecessary and counter-productive controls on productive economic activity, and set the stage for another long boom like the Reagan tax cuts kicked off back in the early 80s. But time and the narrative are not yet on the GOP’s side.

Like it or not, even with relatively low rates of inflation for much of the last decade, the purchasing power of the dollar has declined. Families are felling pinched, which is part of the reason many of Continue reading


Newt Gingrich: Tax cuts are key to reaching four percent growth — Ignore the ‘experts’

By Newt Gingrich • Fox News

The left-wing media and the elites never seem to tire of being wrong.

Remember in May when President Trump said his policies would spur the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at a rate of 3 percent or higher? The so-called experts insisted that it was unrealistic, highly unlikely, and probably impossible.

Some of these experts suggested 3 percent growth could only happen if our immigrant population doubled over a decade or the nation went to a six-day work week. They said even if unemployment fell to zero, we still wouldn’t get close.

Imagine their surprise then when the Commerce Department announced on Friday that the GDP has grown at 3 percent – for the second quarter in a row. Continue reading


CEOs Urge Congress to Enact Tax Reform to Help Make U.S. Companies Competitive

by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon

Sixteen CEOs from large companies are urging Congress to enact comprehensive tax reform that would end a tax on domestic production and make companies in the United States more competitive globally.

CEOs from companies such as Dow Chemical, Pfizer, Caterpillar, Boeing, and General Electric have written a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) urging them to make the U.S. tax code more pro-growth and lower rates for businesses so they can actively compete with global competitors.

“We recommend enacting comprehensive pro-growth tax reform to remove a major impediment to economic growth—our outdated tax code,” the CEOs said. “We have the highest business tax rate in the developed world and are one of the few countries that taxes business income on a worldwide basis.” Continue reading


The Entrepreneurial Way to 4% Growth

Trump should set a goal: fix the business climate so a million Americans a year can start companies.

By Carl J Schramm • Wall Street Journal

This week more than 160 countries are celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week. The Kauffman Foundation, which I once led, created this event eight years ago to encourage other nations to follow the American tradition of bottom-up economic success. Yet this example has been less powerful in recent years, as American entrepreneurship has waned. Fortunately, President-elect Donald Trump has plenty of options if he wants to resurrect America’s startup economy.

Consider the economic situation that the president-elect is inheriting. Despite the addition of 161,000 jobs in October, the labor-force participation rate fell to its second lowest level in nearly 40 years, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. More people have joined the ranks of the chronically unemployed, slipping into poverty at alarming rates as their skills decay and dependency on public assistance grows. Considering population growth, America needs at least 325,000 new jobs every month to stanch the growing numbers of discouraged workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continue reading


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