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SOME THOUGHTS ON THE MID-TERMS

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So, the midterms are finally over. For months, those of us who like to watch American politics were expecting an epic to the death struggle that would vindicate the winner and devastate the loser.

But, as the Fates would have it, that is not what happened. At the time this article was written, the Democrats held 225 seats in the House of Representatives compared to the Republicans 197 seats (with thirteen seats still to be decided). And in the Senate, the Republicans held 51 seats to the Democrats 44 (with two seats being held by other parties and with four still undecided).

What we got was less an Alien versus Predator fight to the death and something more akin to two schoolboys getting into a schoolyard brawl with each claiming victory because they’d managed to bloody the other’s nose.

For months we’d been told that the Democrats would end up dominating both the House of Representatives and the Senate as the American people voiced their disapproval of the Trump Presidency. But that didn’t happen either. The Republicans may have lost their majority in the House of Representatives (and, indeed, many moderate Republicans did not do so well), they managed to gain a definitive majority in the Senate.

As Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary put it: “anybody that was anticipating a blue wave tonight’s not going to get it.”

Several factors played a role in determining the outcome of the election.

The first thing to note is that the results of the election were not a signal of approval for far-left Democratic policies. It was moderate Democrats who won seats, not radically progressive ones. This would suggest that as many Americans reject radical identity politics as those who feel dissatisfied with the Trump Presidency. And it would suggest that the Democrat’s best strategy for winning the next Presidential election is to put forward a moderate candidate with a moderate platform.

The second thing to note is that the Republican’s triumph in the Senate had as much do with demographics as it did with politics. The electoral map made Democratic Senate seats more vulnerable than Republican ones. That said, however, it also turns out that the Democrats failed to take advantage of an advantageous news cycle. Had they nominated more moderate candidates rather than radically progressive ones they would have found themselves a lot more successful.

The third thing to note is that voter motivation played an enormous role in determining the outcome of the election. One of the reasons the Republicans lost the House of Representatives was because the Democrats were more motivated to vote than they were.

Actually, this was recognised early on. Bill Stepien, the political director for the White House, urged President Trump to motivate his base by making the election a referendum on his own performance. Clearly, Stepien recognised that President Trump has a special talent for rallying his supporters. And, as the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro noted, every district Trump visited ended up voting Republican.

The fourth things to note is that the Democrats managed to do better in the suburbs than the Republicans did. The Democrats managed to win suburbs all the way from the eastern seaboard to Nevada and even managed to expand into Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Richmond. As Liesl Hickey, the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2014, said “Republicans have lost the suburbs. I don’t know if they’ve lost them forever, but we’ve definitely lost them for now.”

That the outcome of the midterms will have political implications should be obvious to everyone. On the negative side, a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will make it difficult for the Republicans to enact their legislative agenda over the next two years. It puts Trump’s immigration and economic policies in danger. It puts his administration’s goal to build a border wall, deregulate business, and cut taxes in jeopardy.

But, on the more positive side, however, the outcome of the midterms may inspire more transparency from the Executive as President Trump negotiates trade deals with Japan and the European Union. And as much a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives puts the Republican agenda in jeopardy, a Republican-controlled Senate creates a roadblock for the progressive agenda indicative in the Democrat’s more radical policies.

And there are the long-term implication, as well. The Republican’s control of the Senate will make it difficult for the Democrat’s to gain control over it in 2020. However, it also revealed the necessity for the Republican Party to expand its conservative base, especially in lieu of the 2020 Presidential election. In the 2000, 2004, and 2016 Presidential elections, a switch of only 150,000 votes would have nullified all of them.

The midterm election resulted in a victory for neither the Democrats nor the Republicans. It did not deliver the much-prophesied blue wave for the Democrats and it didn’t allow the Republicans to retain control of Congress. What the midterms produced was a balanced, moderate Congress. The manner in which people choose to interpret the results of this election will depend largely upon their political orientation. Both Democrats and Republicans have the choice to see the results as either a triumph or a defeat. And exactly how they react will determine how well their party does at the next Presidential election.

Who knows what will happen at the next Presidential election. Two years can be a lifetime in politics.

 

REFERENCES:

1. https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/11/midterm-election-split-decision/
2. https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/11/republican-senate-control-frightens-democrats/
3. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/10/16/17951596/kavanaugh-trump-senate-impeachment-avenatti-democrats-2020-supreme-court
4. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/07/opinion/democrats-midterms-house-senate.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=sectionfront
5. https://www.nationalreview.com/news/republicans-win-senate-control-midterms/
6. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/07/trump-democrats-2018-elections-midterms-972254
7. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/11/07/please-stop-saying-red-wave-inside-democrats-takeover-of-the-house-222228
8. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/07/midterm-elections-2018-top-takeaways-970328
9. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/07/trump-2020-elections-campaign-968942
10. https://spectator.org/a-much-much-better-gop-night-than-had-been-forecast/
11. https://spectator.org/gop-knocks-off-four-senate-democrats/
12. https://spectator.org/florida-survives-category-5-liberalism/
13. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/take-it-from-this-conservative-republicans-disappointed-in-the-midterm-elections
14. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/christian-voters-were-key-in-gops-midterm-victories
15. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/blue-wave-turns-out-to-be-ordinary-election-rather-than-an-extraordinary-rebuke-to-trump
16. https://www.dailywire.com/news/38084/democrats-are-going-about-house-and-senate-popular-ashe-schow
17. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/liz-peek-midterm-elections-prove-trumps-critics-still-underestimate-him-as-blue-wave-becomes-a-ripple?cmpid=NL_opinion
18. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/midterm-elections-democrats-it-would-be-a-cataclysmic-error-to-make-pelosi-your-next-house-speaker?cmpid=NL_opinion
19. https://www.redstate.com/brandon_morse/2018/11/06/ted-cruz-defeats-beto-orourke-texas-stays-red/
20. https://hotair.com/archives/2018/11/07/midterm-result-push-2020
21. https://hotair.com/archives/2018/11/07/trump-dems-investigate-youll-find-works-ways/
22. https://finance.townhall.com/columnists/danieljmitchell/2018/11/07/five-takeaways-from-the-2018-elections-and-implications-for-liberty-n2535487?
23. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/polls-close-in-six-states-as-dems-look-for-telltale-signs-of-potential-blue-wave
24. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election/democrats-aim-to-restrain-trump-after-seizing-u-s-house-idUSKCN1NB1CW
25. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election/democrats-aim-to-restrain-trump-after-seizing-u-s-house-idUSKCN1NB1CW
26. https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2018/11/07/donald-trump-defends-big-victory-for-republicans-in-midterm-elections/
27. https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2018/11/06/live-updates-2018-midterm-election-results/
28. https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2018/11/07/republicans-make-senate-gains-as-america-rejects-gun-control-again/
29. https://www.dailywire.com/news/38075/klavan-democrat-voters-explain-were-stupid-and-andrew-klavan
30. https://www.dailywire.com/news/38089/8-big-takeaways-midterm-elections-ben-shapiro

The Death of Comedy

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In March of this year, the vlogger Mark Meechan was convicted in a Scottish Court of violating the Communications Act 2003 for a video he had uploaded to YouTube in April 2016. The video, which Meechan claimed had been produced for comedic purpose (he claimed he wanted to annoy his girlfriend), featured a pug dog making Hitler salutes with its paw, responding to the command “gas the Jews” by tilting its head, and watching a Nazi rally at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The Scottish Court that convicted Meechan (who is much better known as ‘Count Dankula’) concluded that he had been motivated to produce the video by religious prejudice. Perhaps without realising it, by convicting Meechan, the Scottish legal system has illustrated the importance of free speech and the threat that political correctness poses to it.

Unfortunately, legally and politically incited attacks against both free speech and comedy are not limited to the United Kingdom. In Canada, politically correct inspired attempts to silence comedians have been instantiated into law. In one alarming case, the Quebec Human Rights Commission awarded Jeremy Gabriel, a disabled former child star, $35,000 in damages after he was ridiculed in a comedy routine by Mike Ward.

It is little wonder, then, that some comedians have seen cause for alarm. Some, like Chris Rock, now refuse to perform on college campuses because of the oversensitivity of some of the students. Others, like legendary Monty Python star John Cleese, have warned that comedians face an “Orwellian nightmare.”

Political correctness is the antithesis of comedy. It is not that comedians have been prevented from practising their craft, but that the pressures political correctness place on them makes it difficult to do so. The comedian feels himself pressured to self-censor himself because of the way words are categorised by their supposed offensive or inoffensiveness. And he finds himself fearful of having his words twisted and misinterpreted to mean something other than what he meant it to mean.

Much of the problem arises from a culture that has elevated politics to something approximating religion. And, like all zealots, the fanatics of this new religion have attempted to conform every aspect of society to their new faith. It is the job of the comedian to make me laugh. It is not his job, as some would have you believe, to play the role of political activist.

Unfortunately, that view is not one held by many on the radical left. In an article for the Sydney Morning Herald, Judith Lucy opined that people wanted to “hear people talk about politics or race.” And it seems that there are people who agree with Lucy. Comedy is not to be used to bring joy to people, but as a platform to espouse politics. Comedy has become a form of propaganda. And it is the liberal agenda that determines what is considered funny and what isn’t.

What the politically correct offer instead of genuinely funny comedy is comedy as a form of political activism. Comedy is to be used to spread progressive ideas and political correctness is to be used to silence that which opposes those ideas. Take, for example, Tim Allen’s sitcom Last Man Standing, which revolved around a conservative protagonist, which was cancelled by the American Broadcasting Company despite its popularity.

And nowhere can this trend of comedy as political activism can be seen more readily than in the current incarnations of late-night television. Legendary comics like Johnny Carson and David Letterman established late-night television as a form of entertainment that provided light-hearted entertainment before sending its audience off to bed. It was not afraid of offending people in order to do so, either. Today, however, this willingness to offend others seems only to be targeted towards those on the right of the political spectrum. It is as though the late-night comedian has decided to use his position to preach progressive politics to its audience rather than using their talent to make insightful and hilarious observations about the world around us. The result is that late-night host places commenting on political or social matters above entertaining his audience.

It is as though the late-night host has replaced humour for indignation. The “jokes” (in reality they are tirades) contain more than a modicum of vitriol and resentment. Samantha Bee referred to Ivanka Trump as a “feckless cunt”, Stephen Colbert accused President Trump of being Vladimir Putin’s “cock holster”, so on and so forth.

While it may seem alarming, it is precisely what happens when comedians see themselves as activists rather than entertainers. As Danna Young, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Delaware, commented:

“When comics abandon humour and go with anger instead, they come just another ‘outrage’ host. Now, if that’s cool with them, great. But if they are looking to capitalise on the special sauce of humour, then they’ll need to take their anger and use it to inform their craft, but not have it become their craft.”

Fortunately, there is a litany of comedians who refuse to conform their comedy to the morays of political correctness and progressive politics. Numerous comedians have denigrated political correctness as the “elevation of sensitivity over truth” (Bill Maher) and “America’s newest form of intolerance” (George Carlin). Jerry Seinfeld, a man whose comedy routines are considered among the least offensive in comedy, referred to political correctness as “creepy” on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Bill Burr accused social justice warriors of being bullies. Likewise, Ricky Gervais has tweeted “if you don’t believe in a person’s right to say things you find ‘grossly offensive’, you don’t believe in free speech.”

And all of this is not to say that political correctness has destroyed genuinely funny comedy, either. Netflix has spent a great deal of money producing comedy specials that are, in many cases, far for inoffensive. Ricky Gervais comedy special Humanity has featured jokes about rape, cancer, transgenderism, AIDS, and the Holocaust.

Comedy has been threatened by both progressive politics and political correctness. Mark Meechan may have found himself running afoul of the politically correct left, but as long as their people who stand committed to free speech and comedians prepared to make offensive jokes, the laughter will continue.

The War On Christmas

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In 2015, the then-Presidential candidate, Donald Trump (1946 – ) called for a boycott of Starbucks after the famous coffee shop chain failed to include the words “Merry Christmas” on their annual Christmas cups. “Did you read about Starbucks?”, Trump asked a rally in Springfield, Illinois. “No more ‘Merry Christmas’ on Starbucks. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.”

Two years later, Donald Trump, now President of the United States, doubled down on his pro-Christmas message. Speaking at a Christian Public Policy conference, the President stated:

“We’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore. They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct.”

Trump continued:

“You got to department stores and they’ll say, ‘Happy New Year’, or they’ll say other things and it’ll be red, they’ll have it painted. But they don’t say it. Well, guess what? We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”

The sentiment that there is a War on Christmas designed to push the religious holiday out of public consciousness carries a great deal of validity. Since 2000, the Becket Institute has listed the biggest Christmas scrooges in American public life, giving the worst offenders an ‘Ebenezer award.’

In 2000, city manager of Eugene, Oregon, Jim Johnson was given the Ebenezer Award after he issued a five-page memo banning Christmas trees from any “public space” in the city.

In 2011, the Ebenezer Award was given to the United States Post Office after they enforced a policy preventing people from singing Christmas carols on Government property. This decision stands in direct contradiction to Benjamin Franklin’s (1706 – 1790) (their founder) commandment to “always live jollily; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.”

In 2014, the City of Sioux Falls was given the Ebenezer Award after they threatened to repaint and censor snowploughs that featured artwork celebrating the religious nature of Christmas.

In 2015, the Ebenezer Award was given to the Department of Veteran Affairs after they banned their employees at their Salem, Virginia facility from saying ‘Merry Christmas.’

The problem is not unique to the United States, either. During an interview with 2GB Radio, Peter Dutton (1970 – ), Australia’s minister for immigration and border protection, became incensed after a caller informed him that there had not been any Christmas carols in a performance at his grandchild’s school. The caller informed Dutton that the school in question, Kerdon State High School, had replaced the lyric “we wish you a Merry Christmas” with “we wish you a happy holiday.” Dutton replied: “You make my blood boil with these stories. It is political correctness gone mad and I think people have just had enough of it.”

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I believe that the drive to remove the more traditional and religious aspects from holidays like Christmas and Easter is indicative of a larger attempt to abolish the influence of Christianity on society and culture.

The problem with this, needless to say, is that it is akin to chopping down a tree and still wishing to enjoy its fruits. It is not possible to enjoy the fruits of Western culture and civilisation when its ideological origins and overarching philosophical-cum-theological structures have been removed. Christianity and Western civilisation are inextricably linked. The poet, T.S. Eliot (1888 – 1965) wrote in Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1943) that “to our Christian heritage we owe many things besides religious faith. Through it we trace the evolution of our arts, through it we have a conception of Roman Law which has done so much to shape the Western world, through it we have our conception of private and public morality.”

The War on Christmas is an attack on the very fabric of Western Civilisation. Christmas symbolises the central axiom our culture was built on: that the Universe was constructed to have a natural and moral order. The War on Christmas is not merely an attack of Judeo-Christian belief, nor is it merely an attack on Western culture, it is an attack upon truth itself.  And the truth cannot prosper while those who believe it are unwilling to defend it.

A CRITIQUE OF GLOBALISM

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Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, has stated that disagreeing with globalism is like disagreeing with “the laws of gravity.” Similarly, new French President, Emmanuel Macron, another supporter of globalism, wishes to deregulate France’s ailing industry and boost freedom of movement and trade. Donald Trump’s election to the US Presidency, and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, however, have challenged the presumed supremacy of globalism as a political force.

The roots of globalism can be traced back to the 2nd Century BC when the formation of the Silk Road facilitated the trade of silk, wool, silver, and gold between Europe and China. It wasn’t until the 20th century, however, that the idea gathered momentum. Following the Second World War, world power was to be split between America, representing the capitalist west, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, representing the communist east. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, America took it upon herself to create an undivided, democratic, and peaceful Europe.

Of course, the aim for an undivided Europe, indeed an undivided world, existed long before the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1944. Allied delegates, met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to establish an economic system based on open markets and free trade. Their idea gathered momentum. Today, the Monetary Fund, World Bank, and, the World Trade Centre all exist to unite the various national economies of the world into a single, global economy.

In 1950, the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, proposed pooling Western Europe’s coal and steel producing countries together. Originally, Schuman’s objective had been to unite France with the Federal Republic of Germany. In the end, however, the Treaty of Paris would unite Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in the European Coal and Steel Community. By 1957, the Treaty of Rome had been used to create the European Economic Community.

Globalism is an ideology which seeks to form a world where nations base their economic and foreign policies on global, rather than national, interests. It can be viewed as a blanket term for various phenomena: the pursuit of classical liberal and free market policies on the world stage, Western dominance over the political, cultural, and economic spheres, the proliferation of new technologies, and global integration.

John Lennon’s Imagine, speaking of ‘no countries’, ‘no religion’, and a ‘brotherhood of man’, acts as an almost perfect anthem for globalism. Your individual views on globalism, however, will depend largely on your personal definition of a nation. If you support globalism it is likely you believe a nation to be little more than a geographical location. If you are a nationalist, however, it is likely you believe a nation to be the accumulation of its history, culture, and traditions.

Supporters of John Lennon’s political ideology seem to suffer from a form of self-loathing. European heritage and culture are not seen as something worth celebrating, but as something to be dismissed. And it appears to be working: decades of anti-nationalist, anti-Western policies have stripped many European nations of their historical and cultural identities. In the UK, there have been calls to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes – an important, yet controversial figure. In other countries, certain areas are have become so rife with ethnic violence they are considered ‘no-go’ zones.

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Perhaps, it is the result of “white man’s burden”, Rudyard Kipling’s prophetic 1899 poem about the West’s perceived obligation to improve the lot of non-westerners. Today, many white, middle-class elites echo Kipling’s sentiments by believing that it to be their duty to save the world. These people are told at charity events, at protests, at their universities, and by their media of their obligation to their ‘fellow man.’ When it comes to immigration, they believe it to be their responsibility to save the wretched peoples of the world by importing them, and their problems, to the West.

By contrast, nationalism champions the idea that nations, as defined by a common language, ethnicity, or culture, have the right to form communities based on a shared history and/or a common destiny. The phenomenon can be described as consisting of patriotic feelings, principles, or efforts, an extreme form or patriotism characterised by feelings of national superiority, or as the advocacy of political independence. It is primarily driven by two factors. First, feelings of nationhood among members of a nation-state, and, two, the actions of a state in trying to achieve or sustain self-determination. In simplest terms, nationalism constitutes a form of human identity.

One cannot become a citizen of a nation merely by living there. Citizenship arises from the sharing of a common culture, tradition, and history. As American writer Alan Wolfe observed: “behind every citizen lies a graveyard.” The sociologist Emile Durkheim believed people to be united by their families, their religion, and their culture. In Suicide: a Study in Sociology, Durkheim surmises:

“It is not true, then, that human activity can be released from all restraint. Nothing in the world can enjoy such a privilege. All existence being a part of the universe is relative to the remainder; its nature and method of manifestation accordingly depend not only on itself but on other beings, who consequently restrain and regulate it. Here there are only differences of degree and form between the mineral realm and the thinking person.’ Man’s characteristic privilege is that the bond he accepts is not physical but moral; that is, social. He is governed not by a material environment brutally imposed on him, but by a conscience superior to his own, the superiority of which he feels.” – Suicide: a Study in Sociology (pg. 277)

Globalism has primarily manifested itself through economic means. In the economic sense, globalism began in the late 19th, early 20th centuries with the invention of the locomotive, the motor-car, the steamship, and the telegraph. Prior to the industrial revolution, a great deal of economic output was restricted to certain countries. China and India combined produced an economic output of fifty-percent, whilst Western Europe produced an economic output of eighteen percent. It was the industrial revolution of the 19th century, and the dramatic growth of industrial productivity, which caused Western Europe’s economic output to double. Today, we experience the consequences of globalism every time we enter a McDonalds Restaurant, call someone on our mobile phones, or use the internet.

Philip Lower, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, told a group of businessmen and women at the Sydney Opera House that Australia was “committed to an open international order.” Similarly, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, Amartya Sen, argued that globalisation had “enriched the world scientifically and culturally, and benefited many people economically as well.” It is certainly true that globalisation has facilitated the sharing of technological, cultural, and scientific advances between nations. However, as some economists, like Joseph Stiglitz and Ha-Joon Chang, have pointed out: globalisation can also have the effect of increasing rather than reducing inequality. In 2007, the International Monetary Fund admitted that investment in the foreign capital of developing countries and the introduction of new technologies has had the effect of increasing levels of inequality.  Countries with larger populations, lower working and living standards, more advanced technology, or a combination of all three, are in a better position to compete than countries that lack these factors.

The underlying fact is that globalism has economic consequences. Under globalisation, there is little to no restrictions on the movement of goods, capital, services, people, technology, and information. Among the things championed by economic globalisation is the cross-border division of labour. Different countries become responsible different forms of labour.

The United Nations has unrealistically asserted globalism to be the key to ending poverty in the 21st Century. The Global Policy Forum, an organisation which acts as an independent policy watchdog of the United Nations, has suggested that imposition of global taxes as a means of achieving this reality. These include taxes on carbon emissions to slow climate change, taxes on currency trading to ‘dampen instability in the foreign exchange markets’, and taxes to support major initiatives like reducing poverty and hunger, increasing access to education, and fighting preventable diseases.

In one sense, the battle between globalism and nationalism can be seen as a battle between ideology and realism. Globalism appears committed to creating a ‘brotherhood of man.’ Nationalism, on the other hand, reminds us that culture and nationality form an integral part of human identity, and informs us they are sentiments worth protecting. The true value of globalism and nationalism come not from their opposition, but from how they can be made to work together. Globalism has the economic benefit of allowing countries to develop their economies through global trade. It is not beneficial, however, when it devolves into open-border policies, global taxes, or attacks on a nation’s culture or sovereignty. Nationalism, by the same token, has the benefit of providing people with a national and cultural identity, as well as the benefits and protections of citizenship. Nationalism fails when it becomes so fanatical it leads to xenophobia or war. The answer, therefore, is not to forsake one for the other, but to reconcile the two.

MASS SHOOTING IN LAS VEGAS

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Fifty-nine people are dead and around five hundred are dead after a mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday. It is the deadliest shooting in US history.

The gunman opened fire from his thirty-second-floor hotel room during a performance by country music star, Jason Aldean, at the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival – an event attended by twenty-five thousand people. Witness reports suggest that the gunman used at least one automatic weapon in the attack. Fifty-four-year-old Steve Smith of Phoenix commented that the gunfire “just kept going on.”

It took an hour for Las Vegas police to break into the gunman’s hotel room after being alerted to the attack. There they found an arsenal of weapons, including ten rifles, and the gunman dead from a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The gunman responsible has been identified as sixty-four-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada. While police are yet to finalise a background check on Mr. Paddock, it is known that he was a wealthy property owner who resided in the local retirement community.  A regular at Las Vegas casinos, Mr. Paddock possessed no significant criminal record and was not known to have links to any militant group.

Mr. Paddock’s brother, Eric, told the Daily Mail that his family was “shocked” by the action’s of his brother and there had been “absolutely no indication” of what he was capable of. “Something happened, he snapped or something”, Eric Paddock commented.

Reactions to the mass shooting have been quick and immense. Jason Aldean stated on Instagram:

 “Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still dont [sic] know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate.”

President Trump stated in the Diplomatic Room of the White House that the shooting “was an act of pure evil.” The President also released a memorandum calling for flags to be flown at half-mast.

WHITE HOUSE REVEALS NEW TAX REFORM PLAN

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President Trump unleashed a new plan for tax reform in a speech at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds on Wednesday.

The plans are the product of discussions between White House Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, the House Ways and Means Chairman, Kevin Brady, the Senate Finance Chairman, Orrin Hatch, House Speaker, Paul Ryan,  Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and White House economic policy chief, Gary Cohn. Their purpose will be to strengthen the middle class, grow the economy, and engender economic recovery by broadening the tax base, closing loopholes, and fostering growth.

According to a press release by the Treasury Department, the reforms will mean that less of the earnings of middle-class families will be subject to Federal income tax, and will reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three: 12%, 25%, and 35%. It will also increase child tax credits and repeal the death tax and alternative minimum tax.

For business, the reforms seek to reduce the corporate tax rate to 20% and limit the taxation imposed on small and family-based businesses operating as sole proprietorships and small businesses corporations to 25%.

The reforms have received support from both politicians and numerous free-market groups. The Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, Paul Ryan, said on Capitol Hill:

“This has been a long time coming. Instead of a source of pride, our tax code has become a constant source of frustration. It’s too big. It’s too complicated. It’s too expensive. Today, we are taking  the next step to liberate America from our broken tax code.”

Similarly, the House Freedom Caucus, which is comprised of Congress’ most conservative members, said in a statement:

“President Trump has delivered a forward-looking tax reform framework that will let hard-working  Americans keep more of their money, simplify our system, end carve-outs for special interests,  and will help make our businesses competitive abroad. The Freedom Caucus looks forward to sending a final  bill based on this framework to President Trump’s desk as soon as possible.”

 

WHITE HOUSE RELEASES REVISES TRAVEL BAN

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President Trump has issued another executive order to extend and broaden the travel band that expired on Sunday.

The new travel ban will be more impervious to challenges from the Supreme Court, and will require foreign governments to improve their identity management, issue more secure passports, identify serious criminals, and provide information on known or suspected terrorists.

The new travel makes changes to the immigration policy the US has with different countries.  The travel ban on Sudan has been lifted. North Korea, Chad, and Venezuela have been added to the list of banned countries (although this ban only extends to North Korean and Venezuelan government officials). Libya, Somalia, Iran, Syria, and Yemen will remain.

The White House has stated that the new travel ban has created a new “baseline for information sharing to support visa and immigration vetting determinations.” President Trump stated:

“Following an extensive review by the Department of Homeland Security, we are taking action today to protect the safety and security of the American people by establishing a minimum security baseline for entry into the United States. We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country. My highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the  American people, and in issuing this new travel order, I am fulfilling that sacred obligation.”

IS THIS THE END OF THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL?

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President Trump stated Wednesday that he had made a decision concerning the Iran Nuclear Deal. In an unusual twist, however, the President refused to announce what it was.

White House National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, has refused to comment on whether President Trump planned to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal. McMaster told NBC’s Today show:

“I’m not saying anything yet about it, but when the announcement is made, it will fit into a  fundamentally sound and broad strategy aimed at addressing Iran’s destabilizing behaviour and  prioritizing protecting American vital interests.”

Seven Democrat senators have written to President Trump demanding evidence that Iran had violated the agreement by October 6th, the certification deadline. They wrote:

“If you are aware of any information that would suggest that Iran is no longer complying  or that would lead the president to conclude that the continued suspension of sanctions  is no longer in the vital national security interests of the United States, we request  that you provide a written report containing such information.”

Similarly, the Republican Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has expressed the opinion that the US should remain in the deal, despite opposing it two years ago. The senator stated in an interview Wednesday that he believed the Iranians had been complying with the terms of the deal and that the Trump Administration should be focused on curtailing Iran’s ballistic missile program. Paul told Politico:

“Most of the complaints about Iran don’t have anything to do with the agreement.  They complain about ballistic missiles and other things, but that’s not part of the agreement. I think while the agreement’s not perfect, my main concern has always been compliance. But if they’re complying with it, I think we should stay  in it.”

A decision to leave the Iran Nuclear Deal does have its supporters, however. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, commented that the Iraq Nuclear Deal had been ineffectual in safeguarding against Iran’s growing power. Macron stated:

“We need the 2015 accord. Is this accord enough? It is not, given the growing pressure that Iran is applying in the region.”

Similarly, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has stated that Iran’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, its ballistic missile test, and its other non-military action undermined efforts to create stability in the Middle East.  Tillerson stated on Wednesday night:

“Regrettably, since the agreement was confirmed we have seen anything but a more peaceful,  stable region. That’s why we talk about Iran defaulting on these expectations because those  expectations clearly have not been met.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S UNITED NATIONS SPEECH

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President Donald Trump delivered his first address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

President Trump reminded the UN that their purpose was not that of a bureaucratic-style world government, but an amalgamation of sovereign states whose power was based on the “individual strength of its members.”  “The whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free”, the President told them.

“The whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free”, the President told them. He then went on to ask those present if they were patriots prepared to work for a “future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful earth.”

Speaking at the opening luncheon, President Trump praised the UN’s ability to maintain peace in the world:

“There is no better forum, there can be no better forum and certainly, there can be no better location where everybody comes together.”

The President continued:

“The potential of the United Nations is unlimited. You are going to do things that will epic, and I certainly hope you will, but I feel very, very confident.”

However, the President also criticised the UN for its record of allowing countries with atrocious human rights records on their human rights council:

“It is a massive embarrassment for the United Nations that some governments with egregious  human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council.”

The President also turned his ire towards Venezuela, the Middle East, and North Korea.

Commenting on the situation in Venezuela he said, “the problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”

Speaking on Afghanistan, President Trump stated the US’ policy would be dictated by circumstances, not arbitrary deadlines:

“From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules  of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.”

He also indicated that the US may be backing out of the Iran nuclear deal, which he referred to as a national embarrassment:

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve  heard the last of it, believe me.”

Finally, President Trump condemned North Korea’s record on human rights and nuclear weapons. He warned that their “reckless” pursuit of nuclear weapons threatened “the entire world with unthinkable loss of life.”

Echoing Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, President Trump went on to warn “rocket man” (the President’s nickname for Jim Jong Un) that the US would wipe the rogue communist state off the face of the earth if it attacked the US or one of her allies:

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide  mission for himself and for his regime.”

Senator minority leader, the Democratic Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, commented that it was dangerous for President Trump to refer to Kim Jong Un as “rocket man”:

“If I were giving the President advice, I would have said, avoid using ‘rocket man’. “If I were giving the President advice, I would have said, avoid using ‘rocket man’.  We know the leader of North Korea is erratic to put it kindly. That kind of language is risky.”

On a more positive note, many are praising the President for his no-nonsense speech. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeted:

“In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech.”

TENSIONS BETWEEN US AND NORTH KOREA REACH BOILING POINT

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Tensions between the United States and North Korea have reached boiling point after peaceful measures to contain the rogue communist state prove ineffective.

Over the course of 2017, the rogue communist state has been taking steps towards the creation of a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the continental United States and has tested nineteen missiles, including two fired over mainland Japan.

Recent tests indicate that North Korea has developed a nuclear device capable of striking the United States but it is unclear at this time whether the rogue nation is capable of miniaturising a nuclear warhead onto a missile capable of delivering such a payload.

Speaking at the White House on Friday, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, stated that the United Nations Security Council was fast running out of peaceful options for dealing with North Korea. “There’s not a whole lot the security council is going to be able to do from here”, Haley commented. Haley continued:

“If you look at the resolutions that have passed over the last two months, the two of them, they cut thirty percent of their oil, they banned all the labourers, they based ninety percent of the exports, they banned joint ventures. In the words of North Korea, we’ve strangled their economic situation at this point.”

White House National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, stated that while it would be preferable to use economic sanctions against North Korea, the likelihood of military action was becoming increasingly more likey:

“We’ve been kicking the can down the road, and we’re out of road. So for those who have said and commenting about the lack of a military option, there is a military option.”