Policy v personality? Huh, Big Red Car?
Big Red Car here in the dark awaiting the sun’s rising. Going to be a great day in the ATX — on Earth as it is in Texas, y’all!
So, the other day, the Big Red Car is reading a blog, CONTINUATIONS, which asks the question — “I am genuinely curious whether there is anyone attempting a cogent defense of the record so far.”
The author of that statement is one Albert Wenger. He is a partner of Union Square Ventures, an experienced venture capitalist, and a successful entrepreneur in his own right.
He is also a Trump hater and a Manhattan liberal. Still, he is smart as Hell and broad minded enough to have asked the question. A poorly educated chap (Harvard College econ and computer science degrees plus MIT PhD in liberal info tech — just kidding about the “liberal” part), he cannot get beyond the Manhattan elitist Trump syndrome, so I am here to assist him.
Today, the Big Red car will provide that defense — a cogent defense of the Trump record.
Policy v Personality
First, let’s be clear. The Trump record is about the policies he has enacted, not his personality. The Big Red Car never met George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, but the Big Red Car understands the historic accomplishments of those men — Father of our Nation and the Great Emancipator.
Policy trumps personality. [See what I did there. Haha, the Big Red Car is on his game this morning. Maybe not.]
Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.
This quote is often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but I understand you can get an argument on that score.
Today, we will limit out discussion to the ideas which define the Trump administration.
OK, Big Red Car, what policies do you like?
Thank you for asking, dear reader, here are the Trump policies I like:
1. Personnel — I am keen on his personnel decisions including his pick for SCOTUS, his national security team, and his Cabinet. I will touch on these again later.
2. Decision making — I am pleased with his decision making methodology and his willingness to attack problems in real time.
As my exemplar for that I cite North Korea which has been a pain in the ass for three decades. The Clinton administration, famously, bribed them with $4B in aid to abandon their nuclear ambitions. When the NKs ran through our money, they rekindled their nuclear program.
Clinton, Bush, Obama — for a quarter of a century — kicked the can down the road. President Obama’s program was “strategic patience” — what total bullshit.
I give President Donald J Trump high marks for taking this problem on in real time and for using every resource at our disposal — China, you listening? — to solve this before Kim Un Bozo has an ICBM with “Los Angeles” painted on its nose with a miniaturized nuke as a warhead. We are at a very dangerous junction in time and this has to be solved. Now.
3. Military affairs — I like the respect that President Trump shows for the military. [Let’s be clear here. Donald J Trump was a Vietnam Era draft dodger whose dainty little feet had bone spurs, so there is a lot of compensation going on here. The Big Red Car is into reality, not hero worship. Shame on you, Donald.]
The US had fallen into a period of impotent military utterances — redlines and all that crap.
President Trump didn’t spend any time drawing red lines — he wiped out a Syrian airfield, knocked out 20% of Syria’s air force, shot down a Syrian jet, and generally made an American threat of the use of military force credible again. [North Korea, are you paying attention? Cause I’m talking to you.]
The Syrians cancelled a planned chemical attack recently when President Trump threatened further action in the even of another Syrian chemical attack. Credibility.
At the G-19+1 summit, President Trump was able to get the Russians to agree to a tentative cease fire and the idea of a no-fly zone. This is real progress because the threat of American military intervention is real again.
4. ISIS — I like how President Trump has taken the fight to ISIS. I love the MOAB (mother of all bombs) attack, both the symbolism and the results.
ISIS is, finally, on the run and is on the verge of being wiped from the planet. The US provided additional air support — Big League air support — as well as artillery, and Special Forces trainers, leaders, fighters which allowed the Iraqis to re-take Mosul for the third time. This is an important development.
US backed forces, receiving Big League US support, will soon take Raqqa, Syria, the home of the Caliph. In six months, ISIS will be trying to get on DWTS. [Bad joke alert.]
The US has expanded its air support policy in Afghanistan from only supporting American units to supporting the entire war effort.
It is worthy of note that none of this has been trumpeted because the Trump administration and Mad Dog Mattis don’t talk about operations — operations security is the way the pros do it. Bravo!
5. Trade — I am particularly keen on President Trump’s moves on trade: pulling the US out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, slapping a tariff on Canadian softwoods lumber, and putting the world on notice that STEEL is a problem and that he is considering both a quota system and a tariff to fight dumping by China, S Korea, and Japan. This is long overdue.
After a decade and a half, American beef is back in China — the world’s fastest growing beef market. This ban went into effect 14 years ago on the heels of the Mad Cow Syndrome scare.
President Trump got it sorted out in the first 4 months of his administration. Give credit to Wilbur Ross of Commerce for this change. Neither President Bush nor President Obama could get this done. President Trump got it done in less than 4 months. Bravo.
President Trump gets credit for highlighting the magnitude of the US-China trade deficit — $310,000,000,000 in 2016 — which when taken together with China’s currency manipulation is stealing US jobs, particularly in the tech area. This is all about jobs. These are good jobs, not the kind of jobs which may never return to the US. Tech manufacturing jobs.
The combination of unfair competition, low labor standards, non-existent environmental controls, dumping, and currency manipulation (artificially increasing the attractiveness of Chinese goods) drives the trade deficit which steals jobs. Everything made in China and bought by an American underpins the Chinese worker at the expense of an American worker.
6. Energy — I applaud President Trump’s focus on energy dominance — not independence, DOMINANCE. This takes the form of approving the Keystone XL pipeline after 10 years of being jerked around, commissioning the Dakota pipeline, driving the export of crude (forbidden until last year), the export of coal (including replacing North Korean coal to China), the export of LNG (liquefied natural gas) to eastern Europe thereby cutting the Russian tactical stranglehold, and the re-invigoration of Federal drilling programs.
This is huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge! It will also drive down the price of domestic gasoline which is like a tax cut for the entire country.
7. NATO, Europe — I am ecstatic that an American President is finally telling the cheap Europeans to pay their own way, including ponying up their 2% of GDP NATO commitment.
NATO is a treaty, an agreement. Under Article V, an attack on one is an attack on all and the US is obligated to come to the defense of Europe.
At the same time, the agreement says that member nations must invest 2% of GDP in their own military forces. This way when the Germans are asked to throw in a couple of armored divisions to defend Poland, they actually have trained up and equipped armored divisions.
If the Europeans want the American military might — Article V — then pay up. It’s a damn contract, y’all. Keep your end of it.
The Europeans — two world wars, y’all — are quite content to allow the Americans to pay for, equip, man up, bleed, and conduct their defense against the Russians while using their own money to grow their own economies and compete against the Americans in the economic marketplace. Bullshit on that. President Trump has told them, “Pay up!” And, the Big Red Car says, “Bravo!”
8. Climate accord — I am pleased that President Trump pulled out of the money sucking, wealth re-distributing Paris Accord. As soon as Turkey learned the US was not going to be fleeced and provide billions of redistribution dollars what did they do? They’re pulling out also.
9. Veterans Administration — I particularly applaud the manner in which President Trump has already revamped the VA. The God damn VA is a cesspool of corruption. They are killing men who our enemies could not.
President Trump rammed through and signed the VA Accountability Act and, promptly, fired more than 500 bad employees and suspended more than 200. This is more internal employment discipline exerted collectively since the Clinton administration COMBINED. Think about that?
Before the Trump administration more than 30% of Suicide Hotline calls were sent to backup call centers — meaning a vet who wanted suicide counseling got a recording. Now, the number is LESS THAN 1%. The VA handles almost a million such calls annually. You do the math. That is a huge improvement. That is accountability. That is saving lives. Veterans’ lives.
10. Thinking strategically, acting tactically — I applaud the way the US under President Trump has linked the tactical considerations of trade to deal with the strategic implications of things like North Korea. This comes directly from President Trump. This linkage will get results when other approaches have been unsuccessful.
11. Commerce, Treasury — I am pleased to see the coordination between Commerce (Sec Ross) and Treasury (Sec Mnuchin) as it relates to tax reform. This is a great chance to give the American economy a shot in the arm.
12. The National Security Staff — The combination of Sec Def Mad Dog Mattis, NSA HR McMaster, DNI Coats, Sec DHS Kelly, CIA Dir Pompeo is the strongest collection of talent in the history of the United States. It combines two 4-star Marine Generals, a 3-star Army General, a salty Senator, and a seasoned Congressman in critical posts.
Stronger than an acre of garlic.
Perhaps the greatest endorsement of President Trump is that these guys said “Yes, sir” when asked to serve. This is a talent pool like the US has never seen.
13. Supreme Court — President Trump delivered on his campaign promise of appointing a serious, conservative Judge to the Supreme Court.
Justice Neil Gorsuch is an impressive jurist. This bodes well for the stability of the Court.
14. Personal diplomacy — I love the personal touch that President Trump has taken by meeting with world leaders so early in his term.
He has forged relations with China, Russia, France, England, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Mexico, and others. His meetings with Putin at the G-19+1 may turn out to be as historic as Eisenhower and Krushchev or Reagan and Gorbachev.
I like how President Trump doesn’t pander to anybody. He is representing Pittsburgh not Paris (well, Paris, Texas, he is).
15. Immigration — President Trump has diminished the magnitude of illegal immigration into the US, has spurred the return of illegals to their home countries, has taken definitive steps to deport illegal alien criminals, and has put the H1-B visa on the table. This progress is all without building The Wall (which he still says, “Mexico will pay for it.”).
Illegal border crossings are down dramatically. This is huge.
16. Regulation — The Executive Order to delete two rules for every new rule enacted is brilliant. I love it.
17. Lobbying — Lobbyists are the guys who actually run the Congress. President Trump’s five year ban on lobbying the Congress is a step in the right direction. Bravo!
What is the best thing about President Trump, Big Red Car?
OK, the Big Red Car says this:
Personality v policy
We started with a reference to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Let’s finish the same way. These were not perfect men, but they were men whose policies changed America.
George Washington was a slave owner.
Abraham Lincoln authorized the largest slaughter of Indians in the history of the US. This was the 1862 Mankato, Minnesota Incident whereat 38 Dakota Indians were hung without a trial.
Neither of these facts is able to be overlooked nor should they be. But in the end, we judge leaders by the totality of their accomplishments — not their singular high points nor their individual failings. The entire body of their work.
It will not make a bit of difference in fifty years if President Donald J Trump had hair plugs or an animosity for the media, but his policies will be important. Argue policy and forget the personal crap. Unless of course if you are a horse’s ass — then, by all means, debate the hair plugs.
So, dear reader, there you have it. What do you think?