Sunday, May 28, 2017

Manchester Attack Tightens British Election

Corbyn in 2015 - Getty Images
Theresa May attended her first NATO and G7 summits last week. They could be her last depending on the next few weeks. Originally, I thought that her path to a victory would be easy, but the gods of electoral politics don't seem to be on the side of the Conservatives. The terrorist attack in Manchester is a disaster for her government, which she touts as "strong and stable" compared to what the country would look like if Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party return to office.

This isn't to say that Corbyn would be a better choice than May. Personally I do think she will be a stronger leader and terrorist attacks are difficult to prevent even with a large surveillance apparatus. Despite this, one cannot ignore that the bombing has weakened her party.

The worst sign came from a YouGov poll for The Times. It showed that the Conservative Party's lead narrowed to a margin of only 5 percent. May's party has 43 percent and Corbyn's has 38 percent. It's worth acknowledging that this is the worst poll from the perspective of the Conservatives. A poll by SurveyMonkey shows them leading Labour by 8 percent (44-36) and ICM's poll shows them leading by 14 percent (46-32). YouGov was also notoriously inaccurate during the 2015 election. Their last poll before voting indicated a 34-34 tie. The Conservatives won the election by a margin of  6.5 percent.

Nevertheless, I think Labour has some momentum. In addition to Manchester, their rise in the polls is a result of the Conservative Party's election promises, some of which are ridiculous and have been criticized by party members. Some call May a "red Tory" because she departs from Margaret Thatcher's ideology in several ways. Her party has had to backtrack on a manifesto pledge to have the elderly contribute more to their social care. It is being called a "dementia tax" by her opponents.

Then there's a bunch of odd topics that she keeps getting herself into. Animal killings were once tradition in the United Kingdom. The aristocrats of British society loved to hunt foxes, but today the sport is very unpopular. For whatever reason, May thought it would be a good idea to bring the topic back again in support of the hunts.

Right now May has been damaging herself while Corbyn has pushed national security attacks on her. In addition to his promise for 10,000 new police, the Labour leader now says that he will hire 1,000 spies to help combat terrorism. However, May can fight back just as strongly. The Labour leader blamed British military intervention for the Manchester attack. To say there's some kind of parallel between Britain and ISIS shows why he should not be prime minister. Whereas British foreign policy is conducted in the national interest, Islamist extremists are motivated by Islamic scripture. An isolationist foreign policy, presumably including nuclear disarmament and a withdrawal from NATO, wouldn't change anything for terrorists who want to see the end of western civilization.

As of now the Conservatives still lead in the polls, some still by double-digits. As with 2015, it is likely that there are "shy Tories" who will rally behind their party at the last minute and give the prime minister a comfortable victory, but there's still reason to be cautious. May can count on a lead at the moment, but these last two weeks won't be smooth sailing for her campaign.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Rise of Leftist Authoritarianism

In a republic like the United States, you will encounter someone who disagrees with you over politics. This doesn't mean you should ignore people with different political views. In fact, it helps to understand both sides of an argument. I've always thought that debates between liberals and conservatives should be promoted, especially at places like universities. When people understand one another, the political environment becomes less toxic, angry, and divisive.

Unfortunately, it's becoming increasingly clear that many on the left, especially those who are younger, are embracing their own version of authoritarianism in the name of social justice. This usually involves shutting down viewpoints they disagree with, but it can be expanded to anything they smear as a symbol of "white privilege" or being "racist," "sexist," and "fascist."

A burrito shop opened in Portland, Oregon was bashed by the left because the two owners were white. They were criticized for "stealing" the tortilla cooking techniques of Mexican women after they went on a vacation. Their business, Kooks Burritos, was inspired by what they learned and saw in the country. Not only was this a great way for two millennial women to get ahead in life, but it also exposed customers to a culture and a style of cooking. Left-wing social justice warriors didn't see it that way. The business was forced to shut down because of "cultural appropriation" and "exploiting already marginalized identities."

If there's one good side to this story, at least the two owners didn't get violently assaulted, which is now being used more often by leftist groups like Antifa (a term created for those who are "anti-fascist"). It's obvious that the members of Antifa have no idea what fascism really is, but that doesn't matter to them. What matters is that the people they're against are branded with the term to strike anger. Fascism is synonymous with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, so anyone who is called a fascist must represent their views. Therefore Antifa's "fascists" have to be stopped.

At the University of California-Berkeley, threats and violence are used on a regular basis to stop any speaker who is opposed by the left. It's sad because the free speech movement on campuses started at UC-Berkeley. Now events put on by conservative groups are prevented from occurring. The worst case at Berkeley was the fall semester event for Milo Yiannopoulos, where rioters damaged property and started fires. In the spring semester, Ann Coulter's event was cancelled out of safety for students.

The cover article of the latest issue of National Review highlights the roots of left-wing violence and successful attempts by Antifa to stop Heather Mac Donald, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute who's research I've cited before in previous posts. The author of The War on Cops (a book I highly recommend) was blocked from speaking at Claremont McKenna College and the campus administration yielded to the demands of the protestors, who called her "a notorious white supremacist fascist." The university's president later said it would create "unsafe conditions" but no good comes out of a lack of enforcement of the rules. She eventually spoke via livestream.

In Wisconsin, UW-Green Bay student Jessica Murphy, who's interning at the MacIver Institute, posted an article about the top five wasteful classes in the UW system. Many of them were classes featuring topics adored by the social justice warriors (the number one course being taught at my campus) and none of them actually helping students prepare for their lives after college. Her article was noticed by some leftists, one saying she "could punch her in the face."

Ideally, I would want the era of social justice warriors and the war on free speech to come to an end. Part of me thinks this will happen. Shutting down conservative voices and beating up people they disagree with does not help the cause. Another part of me, however, is worried that this movement will continue and grow. I think it's a generational thing. Most millennials don't consider democracy as important as previous generations. Add to it that liberals are more likely to remove friends from their lives who have conservative views and one can see where leftist authoritarianism in the United States is coming from.

I think there's many variables that can contribute to this new authoritarian thought. The first is that millennials are more leftist than their parents and I think it is fair to say there are a growing number of socialists within my generation rather than liberals. This was the great appeal of Bernie Sanders. The second is the willingness of the left to defeat the right with violence and censorship. The most effective way to win is to have no opponent, which is why it is essential for the left to make sure that opposing views are not heard. Power is craved in politics and many social justice warriors want to obtain power even if it means trampling on basic liberties.

A third and final factor is the complacency of others to let this happen. I think there's a large group of people on the left who don't like to see authoritarianism, but that does not mean they're willing to confront it because it's on their side. Most people with strong political views tend to ignore their own side's faults and attack the other side as being worse, but this will only allow an authoritarian ideology within the left to grow. I think leftist authoritarianism can be best challenged by those who are on the left. A perfect example is Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), a YouTube commentator. I'll link one of his videos here:

His videos are excellent and can help stop the rise of authoritarianism in western nations, but there has to be more voices who are willing to call out socialist justice warriors and the members of Antifa for what they really are. Those who claim to be anti-fascists are the fascists and if their rise isn't checked then there will be damaging ramifications across the United States and the world for decades to come.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Two Paths for Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois - Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register
While the Wisconsin gubernatorial race has been uneventful due to the lack of Democrats who want to challenge Scott Walker (who is obviously running for a third term). The battle for governor south of Wisconsin is heating up fast.

In 2014, Chicago millionaire Bruce Rauner won the Republican nomination and became the governor in a close race. Like other Republicans, Rauner wanted to initiate reforms that his state badly needed. The only problem was that his victory had no coattails. The Democrats continued to control the state legislature. This meant that the new governor couldn't do anything that involved a rightward policy direction.

As a result of the political deadlock, Illinois operates without any major changes to the budget. This makes the economic outlook in the state very bleak. The editorial board of The State Journal-Register explains some of the divisions over lacking a budget:
One key question is whether Illinois needs to tighten its standards for “causation,” which deals with whether a worker’s injury was caused by, or aggravated by, their job. Other topics to examine include Illinois’ benefits structures — a 2015 report by the independent journalism website ProPublica concluded that Illinois consistently paid more than the national average for permanent partial disabilities. 
It’s clear that the state needs to take a meaningful look at how to improve the system. Both sides need to embrace the premise that it’s possible to strike a balance that would make Illinois more competitive on employers’ workers comp costs, while preserving protections for workers who suffer a legitimate on-the-job injury
Attorney Gerald Skoney wrote about the state's fiscal problems in The Wall Street Journal and he attacked the legislature for focusing on foolish initiatives that deal with a zombie apocalypse while Illinois owes $11 billion. That number is expected to climb. He concludes "instead of worrying about the Zombie Apocalypse, maybe lawmakers in Springfield should focus on the fiscal disaster that is entirely of their own making."

Easier said than done. The Democrats don't want to give Rauner an inch of reform, but continuing down the current path drives the Land of Lincoln down the edge of a cliff. No businessman would seriously invest in a state that ranks 47 out of 50 in fiscal solvency, a rank that comes from the Mercatus Center's 2016 fiscal condition report.

Democrats in the state have proposed tax increases to solve the state government's financial problems. The problem for Illinois is that it already has a large tax burden and a declining population. More people left Illinois in 2016 (37,508 to be exact) than any other state, many of them sighting problems like higher taxes, crime rates, and the budget. It would be wrong to raise taxes when the economy is so weak.

Raising revenue isn't the problem for Illinois. A report by Illinois Policy, a nonpartisan think tank, concluded that the real issue is spending. The state receives more than enough taxes, with per capita revenues growing 70 percent greater than inflation over the last 33 years. Funding for core public goods like education and law enforcement are down because state employee benefits have exploded. Worker pay, health care coverage, and pensions increased by almost 600 percent from 2000 to 2015.

Illinois needs to take the path of reducing spending and also easing the tax burden in order to foster a more pro-market environment. The problem is that Rauner can't get anything done and Democrats are determined to win back the governorship in 2018. The current frontrunner is Chris Kennedy, a former chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. If you're wondering, he is a member of that Kennedy family (a son of Robert F. Kennedy to be exact).

Even so, his support among Illinois Democrats is not set in stone. Big names in the state's Democratic Party are steering labor unions and other key liberal groups away from Kennedy and to billionaire J.B. Pritzker, a man who has more than enough cash to take on Rauner (the incumbent has given his own re-election campaign $50 million). Kennedy is leaving early in the Democratic race, but if Pritzker gets enough support then it might be close. As for Rauner, he has more time to prepare himself for a predictably rough campaign. It might just be the most expensive campaign in American history.

Finally, I want to briefly focus on campaign strategy. If you look at a political map of Illinois, it looks like the rest of the state is held hostage by Cook county (where Chicago is located). Rauner only won by a margin of 3.9 percent. Here's the 2014 gubernatorial election:

Democrats are probably looking for something like the gubernatorial race in 2002, when Rod Blagojevich became governor (though they don't want another governor like Blagojevich). This means a necessary appeal to downstate voters, who tend to be from rural communities. As proven by 2016, Democrats have serious problems with persuading these voters to get behind them, but they can't just rely on a large basket of support from Chicago to win. They need voters from elsewhere in the state. Here's the map:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump needs to be careful

Trump and Comey - NBC News
Charles Krauthammer, one of my favorite columnists, posted a good article recently on the mess President Trump has gotten himself into. Krauthammer points to three main problems the president has had, all of them arising within ten days. I wanted to bring these controversies up and add what I think on top of them.

First, there was the firing of James Comey. Comey should have been gone earlier, but Trump kept him until now. Firing the FBI director while he was in the midst of a probe that links Russian officials and members of the Trump administration made the Democrats look like a bunch of hypocrites, but it also hurt the president and made him increasingly defensive. At first his staff (including Vice President Mike Pence) said the Justice Department recommended the dismissal, but then Trump said he was going to fire Comey "regardless of the recommendation."

Okay, so this is one problem. Trump says what he wants, but this means ignoring (or perhaps forgetting) what his staff is trying to do. It wouldn't be too much to handle if he made two more mistakes after it.

The second was a meeting with Russian officials. Never mind the bad timing of it coinciding with the firing of a man involved in a Russo-American investigation, but the media had a new target when it was discovered that Trump may have disclosed confidential information on ISIS with the Russians. His aides rushed to his defense, saying that simply did not happen. Then Trump added confusion by tweeting that he had the right to share information "pertaining" to terrorism. He did not say he shared classified information, but it did put White House officials on the defensive. Meanwhile, national security adviser H.R. McMaster pointed out the very real problem of people in the White House leaking out information to the press, making the business of governing highly difficult.

Two problems means less time to do the things Trump should be focusing on. The White House is waiting time on scandal rather than on policy. It isn't easy for Paul Ryan to implement while the president is under fire. However, I don't think Trump contradicted his staff on this topic and McMaster has settled the issue at the moment. This is nothing compared to what comes next, which returns to Comey.

Only days after he was fired, it was discovered that Trump asked him to end the investigation into national security adviser Mike Flynn. This is according to a memo by Comey. Of all three controversies, this one is the most damaging. It led to the creation of an independent investigation and Comey will now testify before the Senate intelligence committee. The White House has received some good news. Flynn was cleared in the probe linking him to Russia.

Whatever the results of the investigation, none of it helps Trump and all of it will help the Democrats. Investigations are very good at eating up the political capital of whoever is being investigated. It slows tax reform, health care reform, and deregulation.

Part of this is a matter of communication. Trump manages to contradict statements from the White House and various departments all the time. The president doesn't seem to understand that a media strategy does matter, so he foolishly continues to generate his own dilemmas.

Another big issue is character, something the presidential considerably lacks. I think many Republicans who weren't thrilled about Trump, but still voted for him did so thinking that character wasn't important in the election. They focused on his proposals, which included a conservative Supreme Court choice (which he gave), Obamacare repeal and replace, border security, and tax cuts. These are good things, but his character flaws still matter. Trump rarely acknowledges when he makes mistakes and could be digging his own political coffin (and that of the Republican Party's).

When a president is doing terrible domestically, it makes sense for the White House to draw focus to international politics. Trump's first foreign visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Vatican City could deflect some media attention elsewhere, but there's no way the media is going to abandon the investigation any time soon.

Trump will be occupied with fixing the three controversies before him, but he has to address the two flaws of White House communication and character. The former can be easily fixed, but the latter is going to be difficult and does play a role in Trump's statements that contradict his staff. Either way, Trump might want to start building some character now because he needs more than ever.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Colossal Hypocrisy of the Democrats on Comey

Outgoing FBI Director James Comey - Francis Rivera
President Trump's decision to fire James Comey, the FBI director who became very controversial during the 2016 election, has led to a media frenzy and outrage from the Democrats. Many of them are saying that he shouldn't have been fired. The only problem is that of these Democrats opposed Comey during and just after the election. Here's a list.

Chuck Schumer

On November 2, 2016, the New York senator and current minority leader said he "lost confidence" in Comey over the email probe into Hillary Clinton. Now he opposes Comey's removal from the FBI, so that confidence must have miraculously returned. It's a clear case of politics over consistency, but we have more examples on the way.

Bernie Sanders

The presidential candidate who took second place in the Democratic race wanted Comey to resign on January 15, 2017. Now his tune has changed. Here's the official statement:
“Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey raises serious questions about what his administration is hiding. Why did President Trump fire the person leading the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government? I find it deeply troubling that this decision comes a day after damning testimony by former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign and just days before Comey was scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee. 
“President Trump has repeatedly taken steps to kill inquiries into Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election. It is clear that whomever President Trump handpicks to lead the FBI will not be able to objectively carry out this investigation. We need an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.”
Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts senator is an early favorite for the Democrats in 2020 and she knows it. This means being at the front of all the new political battles. She has accused Trump of firing Comey because of the FBI's probe into Russia in order to save members of his campaign. She was never pleased with the way the FBI handled investigations into Clinton and was also disappointed when it failed to charge bankers. Apparently, this did not justify Comey's firing in her eyes.

Maxine Waters

Representative Waters has been known for making some of the most ludicrous statements of any politician in recent history. In this case, Waters would have no problem if Clinton was president and fired Comey. She only has a problem if Trump does it because he might be implicated in the investigation. Waters previously said she believed the FBI director had "no credibility." First off, I'm not sure she's aware that the director of the FBI is not the only person involved in an investigation. Secondly, if he has "no credibility" then why is she not jumping for joy upon his removal?

Steve Cohen

A representative from Tennessee, Cohen actually wrote an op-ed on November 3 arguing that Comey should have resigned. Now he released a statement declaring that Trump's decision to fire him is "reminiscent of the Saturday Night Massacre." I'm not going to go into too much detail about what this is, but it occurred during the Watergate scandal when President Richard Nixon fired three members of the Justice Department who were investigating his administration's involvement. That should be enough to inform of the circumstances, which are very different from now.

For all the talk of Trump firing Comey over the investigation to see if they're any links between his campaign and the Russian government, I think it's worth noting Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who said there is no evidence of collusion between his campaign aides and the Russians.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Local Elections point to Conservative Landslide

May campaigning in Leeds on April 27 - Anthony Devil/Pool/Reuters
If anyone doubted the United Kingdom's polls for the general election, then those doubts should have evaporated with the local election results on May 4. The Conservatives won a landslide over Labour, building momentum for June 8. It just goes to show that there's little chance of the Labour Party being able to stop the onslaught they will suffer.

I've brought up British local elections before, but I think I need to repeat what they are since there's so little attention on them. Local elections are held every year in the UK, with some being more significant than others. Think of them as like midterms in the United States. British voters elect councils like American voters elect state legislatures. In 2017, there were 34 councils in England, all 32 councils in Scotland, and all 22 councils in Wales that had their terms up. There were also eight mayors who would be directly elected.

I think the local elections matter because of their proximity to the general election. It's now less than a month away. I cannot foresee Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister unless some catastrophe were to happen. Here's the results:


Conservative Party (Theresa May) - 28 (+11)
Labour Party (Jeremy Corbyn) - 9 (-7)
Party of Wales (Leanne Wood) - 1 (+/-)
Liberal Democrats (Tim Farron) - 0 (+/-)
Scottish Nationalists (Nicola Sturgeon) - 0 (-1)


Conservatives - 1,899 (+563)
Labour - 1,152 (-382)
Liberal Democrats  - 441 (-42)
Scottish Nationalists - 431 (+6)
Party of Wales - 202 (+33)

In more bad news for Corbyn, the Labour Party's election manifesto has been leaked. It includes everything you'd expect from an old British socialist. It includes renationalizing sectors in the economy like rail and energy, large tax increases, and more government spending fueled by extra borrowing. Corbyn is nostalgic for the years of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, a time when Britain was declining until Margaret Thatcher arrived to save the nation through market reforms.

The members of his shadow cabinet aren't helping either. The man to be chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, is someone who has no problem taking part in a May Day event at Trafalgar Square in London with flags from different communist regimes, including that of Bashar al-Assad's. McDonnell and Corbyn have no problem showering praise on Karl Marx, the former saying people "could learn a lot" from him and the latter declaring the socialist founder a "great economic thinker."

Maybe the problem for Labour is the problem most socialists have: they don't know how to count. Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, gave super rosy estimates on how much it would cost to hire 10,000 additional police officers. She had a another train wreck of an interview with not knowing what Labour's losses were in the local elections.

Theresa May can campaign easy right now.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

On Call of Duty: WWII and the SJWs who hate it

Worldwide Reveal ad
The announcement of Call of Duty: WWII is, in my opinion, a great move by Activison. Some of you might remember almost the same time last year, when I criticized the makers of the franchise for taking a futuristic direction rather than historic one. Now the publishers have heard from the consumers and are going to return to their roots. They have the opportunity to win back many people who have left the franchise (I haven't bought a game in the series since 2014).

Sales for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare underperformed compared to previous games. By going back to the Second World War, many people no longer view Activision negatively like they used to. The game, of course, is not out yet and there is possibility that the makers of the new edition to franchise could get it wrong, but as of now the reveal has been widely successful. Not only is the video the fastest in the franchise to get over 10 million views in a day, but if you look at likes and dislikes it is far different from Infinite Warfare:

Unlike the last game, this one is popular. It also shows something I've said for a while: history is winning! The decision to go with World War II came down to vote for either a game that focused on the past or to go with another unnecessary game that takes place in a futuristic setting. Remember that the last Call of Duty game on World War II was World at War, which came out in 2008. Activision has another advantage in that EA, their main competition for this year, will continue the Star Wars franchise with Battlefront II.

While most of the characters in the game will be white men, one of the most interesting things about the new game is that it will include playable female characters in multiplayer and it sounds like the campaign will also have a character who is an African-American and another character who is a child. This offers players more experiences from people of different backgrounds during the war. I think this is a good idea and at first I thought most people who love video games would support Activision's decision. That is until I read an article from Polygon:
It reads like a marketer’s checklist for suitable diversity, a roster of token characters that doesn’t acknowledge their experiences more than it pats the publisher on the back. Sledgehammer staffers’ repeated references to “brotherhood” also speak clearly to the fact this game will be told from a very traditional perspective.
From what we saw and heard about this game today, that tradition doesn’t genuinely include brothers of other races, or brothers who don’t identify as male. It’s important to note that segregation was still very much enforced during the time period, including within the American military. And judging by the attention Sledgehammer is paying to period firearms and the sounds they make, Call of Duty: WWII is all about preserving historical authenticity.
Rather than consider that the makers of the game wanted to genuinely show players what it was like to be a woman or a black man during the war and also tell a story of the Second World War that they were passionate about, all these writers prefer to believe that the female and black characters are being used as "tokens" merely to promote diversity. I could spend the next several paragraphs refuting this, but I think this video on YouTube by Skill Up does it perfectly:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It's on!

Theresa May announcing the general election - Getty Images
On a move that even shocked members of her cabinet, Prime Minister Theresa May has called a general election in the United Kingdom that will be held on June 8. Since becoming prime minister after the resignation of David Cameron and the Brexit vote, May has told the country that she is guaranteeing a departure from the European Union.

Since then, things haven't been always going smoothly. This is partly the result of the 2015 general election. The Conservative Party managed to win a surprising majority, but it was still very narrow. The Conservatives only lead by four seats in the House of Commons. You need 326 members to hold a majority. Here's the numbers as of now:

Conservative Party (Theresa May) - 330
Labour Party (Jeremy Corbyn) - 229
Scottish Nationalists (Nicola Sturgeon) - 56
Liberal Democrats (Tim Farron) - 8
DUP (Arlene Foster) - 8
Sinn Fein (Gerry Adams) - 4
SDLP (Colum Eastwood) - 3
Party of Wales (Leanne Wood) - 3
UUP (Robin Swann) - 2
UKIP (Paul Nuttall) - 1
Green Party (Caroline Lucas) - 1

The reasons she called a general election are obvious. Theresa May is widely popular and the Conservatives now hold double-digit leads over Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. If she continues to lead in the double-digits, then she could enter the House of Commons after June 8 with a massive Conservative majority of over 100 seats. It's a gamble, but in my view only an idiot wouldn't call an early general election with soaring poll numbers.

Since her announcement, it is true that the Conservative Party's lead has reduced slightly, but this is not too significant at the moment. The latest poll from YouGov/Sunday Times poll has them up by a margin of 13 percent, with 44 percent of the vote to Labour's 31 percent. Another poll from ICM/Sun on Sunday indicates the Conservatives with a 19 percent lead over Labour (47 percent to 28 percent).

Though these margins are smaller than before she made the election announcement (she often led by margins of 20 percent or more), her party still performs better than Tony Blair's Labour Party in 1997, which won by a margin of 12.5 percent. She also runs better than Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives in the 1983 general election, which won by a margin of 14.8 percent.

In many ways, this election looks a lot like 1983. A popular female prime minister who leads the Conservative Party is going up against an elderly leftist leading Labour. This election might just end up being a reenactment.

Labour itself is going to find it difficult to climb back up and control Westminster. This is partly because of the Scottish Nationalists. Currently, the Conservatives are set to make gains in Scotland rather than Labour. The Scottish Conservatives, led by Ruth Davidson, are unlikely to win the most seats in the northern region of the United Kingdom, but they are expected to make a breakthrough that has not been achieved since all their seats were lost in 1997.

With Labour no longer appealing in Scotland, it will be difficult to make any gains. Then there's what's happening with UKIP, which looks like it will lose about half their supporters to the Conservatives. This is because May is guaranteeing the country Brexit. It makes more sense to back the party in power, even if UKIP was instrumental in pushing Britain towards leaving the European Union.

The Liberal Democrats might make gains from their massacre in 2015 and they have decided to position themselves as the only anti-Brexit party. This could peel votes on the left away from Labour, another thorn in the side of Corbyn's campaign.

Lastly, the Labour Party's own supporters aren't even that loyal. This is largely because of Corbyn's weak leadership and his left-wing ideology. By moving away from the center, many moderates (people who strongly supported the party under Blair) are not willing to support Corbyn. Simultaneously, polling data has found that working class voters are abandoning the party in droves for the Conservatives in addition to their support among middle class voters.

May's decision to hold a snap general election is a gamble, but it is a very good gamble. With her poll numbers high, it looks like she will sail easily into Downing Street. Yes, she has some faults. She is very repetitive (sort of brings up memories of Marco Rubio) and might not hold the line on taxes, but has very easy opponents. It looks good for the Conservatives, with the election just over a month away.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Macron will likely win in France

Emmanuel Macron - Getty Images
Though the first round seemed to be tightening towards the end, front-runners Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have advanced. The results are as follows:

Emmanuel Macron (On the Move) - 24.01%
Marine Le Pen (National Front) - 21.30%
Francois Fillon (Republicans) - 20.01%
Jean-Luc Melenchon (Unbowed France) - 19.58%
Benoit Hamon (Socialist Party) - 6.36%

It's a historic moment for the French. Neither of the two major parties, the Socialists and the Republicans, made it to the second round. In the case of Benoit Hamon, his problem was the immense baggage that came with being a member of the incumbent party. Francois Hollande's leadership has been weak, the economy is still in the tank, and the Socialist Party has suffered from constant scandals. I hope Bernie Sanders supporters watched what happened in France over the last five years. This is what you get when you elect democratic socialists.

As for my favorite of the five major candidates, Francois Fillon dropped the ball on what should have been an easy race. His problem was that he conducted himself badly in government by giving his wife and children fictitious jobs with fat salaries. Though he did receive a sort of small, last-minute momentum from people who wanted free market reforms and a powerful military (an Ifop-Fiducial poll at the beginning of April showed him at 17%, but just before voting he had climbed to 19.5%), it was not enough. France will have to wait longer to get its Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher.

The French left, dissatisfied with Hamon, decided that going from socialism to communism would make things better (hint: it wouldn't). They quickly rallied to Jean-Luc Melenchon in April. This was mainly because of his rhetorical skills. In truth, his use of holographic imagery to campaign in multiple place at once makes him the most innovative campaigner in recent history. However, you cannot win on charisma alone. That's why he fell short.

That leaves the French with the establishment's choice versus the populist insurgent. Macron was a member of the Socialist Party and part of Hollande's government as an economy minister. Many in the party did not like his centrism, so he pushed out of his office. This led him to create his own political movement called On the Move (En Marche! in French, notice that the name uses his initials).

Macron is still on the left and his reforms, though business-friendly, are nothing compared to what Fillon wanted. Then there's the refugee crisis. He has said that France is just going to have to live with the rise of terrorist attacks occurring in the country. This is a defeatist's strategy to handling the problem. Taking vast numbers of people was seen as humanitarian and was intended to help grow the labor force, but it is important to realize that these are refugees who had no intention of moving to France before ISIS and the Syrian Civil War. There are things in French culture (and western culture in general) that are simply not compatible with Arab culture. This is why so many voters are angry in France.

I do not think Marine Le Pen will win the presidential election. Unlike the election in my country, in which both candidates were generally within the margin of error, Macron's lead is huge. I could be wrong, but I just can't see a massive double-digit dip within less than two weeks. The only problems Macron seems to have is the threat of Russian hackers (which the French have prepared for) and his relationship with his old wife who he met when she was a teacher in his school.

In terms of policy, I think from a refugee standpoint Macron could be negative for France, since he's too status quo, but many of the French people can't see themselves taking as far a right turn as voting for Le Pen. Macron is also good for the United States, by wanting to say in NATO (though like Trump, I imagine the NATO skeptic Le Pen might changed her views after elected). As of now, I think Macron is in good shape to win.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Tight, Somewhat Unpredictable French Election

The top French candidates at a debate - Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images
European politics continue to be chaotic. Angela Merkel is now seriously in trouble, according to recent polls. Theresa May has decided to call a general election in the United Kingdom. The French election, however, is first. There has been nothing more unpredictable and unprecedented than this race. Each week brings something new.

For most of the race, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have been leading to go into the second. With the first round on Sunday, it is expected that both candidates will make it and go head-to-head in the second, where polling initially shows Macron prevailing. The problem for both candidates is that Macron's support is quite soft while Le Pen is prone to gaffes. There are also two major threats to the front-runners who have not gone away.

Francois Fillon, the Republican nominee, simply isn't going away. The former prime minister has had to deal with scandals, but he has a solid fifth of the French electorate backing him. This coalition of Catholic traditionalists and the people in business community is very formidable. He also seems to have some sort of momentum as the first round gets closer. It might not be enough to get him into the next round, but it is enough to keep the free market reformist in the game. What matters for Fillon is how many voters he can convince at the last minute before voting.

What has happened in the French left is even more shocking. The incumbent Socialist Party is so unpopular that their candidate, former Minister of National Education Benoit Hamon, is polling under 10 percent. The French left is moving further way from the center and rally behind communist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, a member of the European Parliament. Melenchon is the exact opposite of the Thatcherite Fillon. He has proposed a possible withdrawal from the European Union, a departure from NATO, a 100 billion euro economic stimulus plan, nationalization of many sectors, and an (Good Lord) 100 percent income tax on people making 360,000 euros a year.

Melenchon has been a very good debater. Two debates have taken place and he has stood out in both of them. This has propelled him into a virtual tie with Fillon. Another factor in Melenchon's rise is just how innovative his campaign has been. He has used projection screens to give speeches at multiple locations.

As for now, Macron and Le Pen look like safe bets to enter the second round, but their leads are shrinking as Fillon and Melenchon make gains. With the race starting to get tight, there is a rising uncertainty about what to expect the night of the first round.

It really comes down to where the French they're going on the economy and the refugee crisis. Marine Le Pen is very popular because of her "France for the French" campaign rhetoric. She represents major change in French politics. Macron is basically representing the establishment even if he left the Socialist Party to form his own movement.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Health Care Reform Collapses

It was one of the most central arguments made by Republicans for seven years. They said over and over again that Obamacare needed to be repealed and replaced. It was a winning issue with the American people, who gave the GOP victories in the two recent midterm elections before finally handing them the presidency in 2016. The moment to reform health care finally arrived.

Unfortunately, the best moment has been wasted. A proposal was put forward, but it sunk after being revealed in a few weeks. It sort of makes me feel that all those years of winning elections was useless.

In my opinion, no one bares more blame than members of the House Freedom Caucus. Contrary to their arguments, this was a market plan that would that had many improvements from the Affordable Care Act. However, this grand health care plan was destroyed by eighteen members of the House of Representatives because they claimed it was too liberal, while 199 (six Republicans and 193 Democrats) opposed it for being too conservative. The consequences are massive. Any new Republican proposal would require support from Democrats because moving further to the right would lead to a lack of support among GOP moderates (the so-called Tuesday Group).

I don't think this is the end for reform, but a new bill in 2018 is likely to have less meaningful changes. It is now even more likely that Obamacare will stay in place. President Obama is smiling because his policy is maintained and any concessions made by Nancy Pelosi would be embarrassing to them. They want to prove that the Affordable Care Act is working and that means ensuring that there are no chances. As you'd expect, Democrats were ecstatic with the results.

The biggest loser of the American Health Care Act's failure is the American people. Some Republicans, including CNN contributor Jeffrey Lord, just want Obamacare to crash. I think this is a mistake because more people will get hurt from the existing law and they can blame the GOP for doing nothing. A 2013 report from eHealth, Inc found that Obamacare regulations like the essential health benefits requirement raises premiums by 47 percent for individual insurance plans. A study from the Brookings Institution in the fall of 2014 covered a state by state impact. It concluded that the Affordable Care Act has only been more costly. The whole point of handing them the keys to Congress and the White House was because they supported change.

As for the Republicans in Congress, they have decided to move on to other issues like tax reform and immigration policy. There's no real reason to waste extra political capital on health care if it is just going to stall things. I'm worried that some Republicans might continue trying to stay pure, rather than go with the advise of Reagan (example: "A flat tax or we're voting no.") which could really endanger the GOP in the 2018 midterms and 2020.

Monday, March 6, 2017

How to Destroy a Political Party (Jeremy Corbyn Edition)

Jeremy Corbyn speaking after the Copeland defeat - Getty Images
When David Cameron resigned as prime minister following the British membership referendum in the European Union, he was replaced by a very capable leader in Theresa May. The new Conservative prime minister has proven become very popular as she pushes through with the Brexit agenda. She also enjoys a strong economy, thanks to the policies of the Conservative government since 2010 and is a skilled debater.

As a testament to her popularity, the Conservatives scored a shocking by-election win in Copeland. New MP Trudy Harrison has defied the odds. She won a constituency that was controlled by the Labour Party since the 1930s. This only proves how popular May is in the eyes of the public. In fact, if she were to call for a general election this year (the next is suppose to occur in 2020) the Conservatives would win by landslide over Labour. A projection shows May's party with a majority of over 100 seats!

Not all of this, of course, can be attributed to the prime minister. Following Labour's 2015 general election defeat, their party went further to the left by making Jeremy Corbyn their leader..They took the Bernie Sanders route and it has been a complete disaster. In fact, it sort of reminds of me of the general election in 1983, when Margaret Thatcher decimated the older Labour leader Michael Foot.

Corbyn, who has no problem praising Karl Marx, is miles away from the British mainstream. His power base comes from older socialist who want to return to the glory days of Britain before 1979 and young people (much like Sanders here), but I honestly wonder at times if his supporters realize how out-of-touch they are. During the leadership election, a poll from YouGov revealed the following:

It's about as far to the left as you can get in British politics. Though a lot can change until the next general election, it is obvious that the Labour Party is in a crisis. Rather than move to the center, as was successful with Tony Blair in 1997 (and British lefties can complain all the way, but he did win three elections), they're basically looking to become irrelevant to the national conversation.

Some in the Labour Party have started to realize the problem. Watch this video by Owen Jones, columnist for The Guardian:

Jones is correct to recognize that Labour is in a pickle, but he made a misdiagnosis. The British people don't want a move to the left, as can be obversed by the YouGov poll. That's a drag on them. Voters aren't interested in socialism anymore, they're interested in pro-growth free market policies and they are concerned with the refugee crisis. Labour doesn't seem to be listening.

Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey is worried that there might not be any safe constituencies anymore for her party. The Conservative win in Copeland only proves that. There won't be any safe Labour seats in the age of Corbyn.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Europe's Woes

While the American economy hasn't grown adequately for the last eight years, the Europeans are suffering even worse. Plagued with terrible growth and logistical challenge of supporting refugees from the Middle East, European nations need to make the necessary reforms to guarantee their safety. If that means leaving the European Union and the Eurozone, then so be it.

Not only are the British doing the right thing, but they also have the benefits of a flexible economy.  Advantages put into place during Margaret Thatcher's tenure will assist the United Kingdom if the Brexit road gets bumpy. Her deregulation of the City of London's financial sector and opening up the stock exchange to international firms have built an infrastructure that many bankers and investors will find difficult to leave. Most of the rest of Europe doesn't have the kind of market economy that the Brits have.

There have been periods in which some countries did follow the best route to enhance their economies. Despite all fawning that Bernie Sanders did during the campaign trail, Scandinavian countries like Sweden only propelled growth when they engaged in reforms that were market-oriented.

Economists Stefan Folster and Johan Kreicbergs explained Sweden's boom years in a 2014 paper published by the Reform Institute. During the 1980s, the country suffered from a weak economy while the British and the Americans enjoyed boom eras. During the late seventies and the eighties, GDP growth was only at 1.6 percent compared to substantially higher growth in other nations.

The reforms of the 1990s gave Sweden their boom. A supply-side strategy was implemented in 1990 and 1991. Before the tax cut, the top marginal income tax rate was 80 percent, but it would be reduced to 30 percent after the reforms were implemented. The size of the state was greatly reduced with the slashing of public spending.

Labor reforms ensured that workers wouldn't go on strike and demand skyrocketing higher nominal wages. Businesses suffered from these high demands, leading to little growth in the economy. A simplified mediation system for employers and employees has lowered the growth in nominal wages, but increased it in the growth real wages.

Lastly, deregulation played a massive role. This led to the collapse of many natural monopolies and the spurring of competition. The result has been higher GDP growth, higher labor productivity growth, higher private sector employment, a smaller tax burden, and a lower national debt. Sweden isn't as free as the United States and the United Kingdom, but it is not as socialist as people think.

Unfortunately, few European nations provide a free economic environment. Greece is an obvious choice, but Italy is posing major problems. The Italians are facing a multitude of problems. As resident fellow David Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute points out, the economy has stagnated and has a public debt of $2.5 trillion. Its economy is larger than Greece's which means a crisis coming out of Italy could be catastrophic. The populist Five Star Movement could pounce on a default and eliminate membership in the Eurozone and the European Union.

In France, I believe the ideal reform candidate is Francois Fillon, but it's increasingly difficult for the former prime minister to enter the second round. One of the problems I'm also finding with him is that he's pro-Russia, which could weaken western opposition to Vladimir Putin.

Fillon's main rival, the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, is set to enter it against Marine Le Pen. Macron, who is popular among younger voters with college degrees, is simply more of the same for France. While Macron opposes Russia, I don't think he can solve France's financial problems. He could do policies that provide small incentives for businesses,  but there isn't much to expect in terms of market reforms. He campaigns as an outsider because he formed a new political party, but he was an economic minister in Francois Hollande's administration for years.

Le Pen is someone who can genuinely shake up the establishment in her country and I don't have a problem with her departing from the failing European Union. I do have a problem with her wanting to leave NATO, which threatens global security in the west. Like Fillon, she also strengthens Russia.

In Brussels, Secretary of Defense James Mattis rightfully advised all members of NATO to raise military spending. Currently, only five of the twenty-eight meet the 2 percent of GDP requirement. It is worth asking many of these nations whether they care about defending the west anymore or would just prefer to spend more on their bloated welfare states.

The time to choose is now. Europe can change and regain lost strength or continue to plunge into the abyss of bad economics and bad international security.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Will David Clarke seek another term?

David Clarke at the Republican convention - Fox 13
Few people might remember, but David Clarke has been the sheriff of Milwaukee county since 2002. Running as a Democrat, but identifying as a conservative, Clarke gained media attention from his interview with Piers Morgan after urging citizens to arm themselves. This led his popularity among conservatives to skyrocket. Simultaneously it made his Democratic primaries challenging (the general elections are simple victory laps). He managed to win the last one in 2014 by a narrow margin of 4 percent. Lately, I've wondered if Clarke is going to run again.

Clarke has swelling national attention. He was even given a speaking spot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. After the convention, Clarke's activities have been odd. He has become more active on social media and travels often. His recent controversies have been closely monitored by Daniel Bice, a watchdog columnist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who seems to be obsessed over everything the sheriff does. 

Charlie Sykes, the former southeastern Wisconsin radio host, has begun to attack Clarke for not focusing enough of his time in Milwaukee anymore. This has led to a war of words between the two of them, especially on Twitter.

A January 2017 poll from Public Policy Polling found that only 31 percent of Milwaukee county's voters approve of how Clarke is doing as sheriff while 62 percent disapprove. In the next election, liberal organizations are going to be more determined than ever to defeat him. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, had his political action committee spend $150,000 to support Lieutenant Chris Moews in the last primary. Bloomberg will likely be back. 

It seems to me that Clarke is going to leave politics and join the media. I'd can't see why he wouldn't become a Fox News contributor if he retired. He even has a book coming out with the help of ghostwriter Nancy French. If Clarke does run for another term, the only thing he will probably have going for him his low-turnout. Even with that, I'm not sure it will be enough to get him over 50 percent. 

As of now, I don't think Clarke will run for another term. There are simply too many mounting challenges. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Are Democrats going to help Trump win?

It's early to discuss 2018 and 2020, but those two elections cycles practically begin after November 8, 2016. Many Democrats have started a strategy to take back the White House, but I don't think strictly keeping keeping same progressive ideals while freaking out over everything President Trump wants to do isn't a winning strategy.

Ever since he won the presidential election, riots and protests have occurred across the entire United States. People have been beaten up and tortured over his victory. Celebrities in Hollywood are taking shots at the new president. In Congress, Democrats are on the verge of blocking everything and anything. Activists on the left want the Democratic Party to move even further way from the center.

The problem with the current strategy on the left is that it makes them look worse than their opponents. At the Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama declared, "When they go low, we go high." When the FBI launched another probe that threatened Hillary Clinton's campaign in the last weeks of the campaign, that dictum was abandoned in favor of more attack ads on Trump. That tactic failed to bring out enough voters and it will fail again, assuming conditions are good in America when the president seeks a second term.

There's a significant difference between the Tea Party protests of late 2009 and 2010 and the protests occurring right now. The Tea Party was largely a response to President Obama's economic stimulus policies, which led to disappointing results. This caused a Republican wave in the midterms of 2010.

Current protests are in primary in response to the election results. Even worse, riots have ignited. Over 200 people were arrested in Washington DC on the day of Trump's inauguration. The more civil and powerful women's march was held the day after, but it is important to note that there has not been any rollback of women's rights at the moment. There were some dark moments in the demonstration, like when Madonna claimed she thought about bombing the White House.

After Trump's victory, there were incidents of violence and vandalizing against Trump supporters. A man was assaulted in Chicago on November 10. A mentally disabled man was tortured with his captors yelling "fuck Trump" and "fuck white people" live on Facebook. A college student had his car keyed because he put a Trump bumper sticker on it. A teenage boy was attacked by a group at a high school for wearing a Trump hat. Violence and vandalism, whether instigated by the right or the left, has never worked and will never work to push an agenda in a democracy. Acting in such a crude way is highly counterproductive.

As if things couldn't get even more reprehensible, lies have been created of alleged acts caused by Trump supporters. A Muslim girl who claimed harassment has been charged for filing a false report. Anti-Latino graffiti at Elon University in North Carolina was actually written by a Latino who was upset over the election results. A racist banner on a house was thought to be set up by Trump supporters, but it now turns out that the black homeowner had actually hanged it and it had nothing to do with the election.

Hollywood has proven to be more elitist than ever. Meryl Streep is a good actress, but her speech at the Golden Globes was very out-of-touch. "Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts," Streep said to much applause at the event. It might sound meaningful to someone on the coast, but middle America found it condescending.

If the Democrats want to block Trump's agenda, then they will pay a heavy price. When the Republicans attempted to do so with a government shutdown, their poll numbers plunged in the fall of 2013. It was only until after the disastrous Obamacare rollout that their numbers went up again, leading to the 2014 midterm victories. It is better to compromise, than to quarrel.

Moving further from the center only hurts Democratic candidates who need to expand their constituencies. It might be hard to believe, but the Democratic Party today didn't have the same voting groups and coalitions as it did twenty years ago. The most important example of this is what happened to the Midwest in 2016.

Hillary Clinton tried to repeat the Obama coalition and failed. It has been revealed that Obama's victories were anomalies rather than the new normal in the United States. He could rely on high turnout from enthusiastic minorities, but Clinton could not. The famous "blue wall" was torn down when she tried to repeat 2008 and 2012.

When Bill Clinton ran for president, he had broaden his appeal across the Midwest. While Wisconsin has always been a battleground state, part of the reason Republicans hadn't won it between 1984 and 2016 was because the Democrats had a powerful edge in the northern part of the state where there were many rural voters.

The GOP of Wisconsin was confined to the Lake Michigan coast of the state, with its key base in the WOW counties. When the Democrats moved further to the left and engaged in identity politics as strategy to win elections, they started to lose these white rural voters and began to focus on big cities like Milwaukee and Madison. It hasn't just happened in the latest presidential election, but also in the last three gubernatorial races.

If the Democratic Party wants to succeed, then they need to be more centrist and erase identity politics as a tool in elections. This will start to win them back many of the rural centrist voters that they lost. Connections with these constituents will matter.

Above all, events will determine who wins in 2018 and 2020. If Trump mismanages a crisis and the Democrats respond effectively, then they have an easy opportunity to recover from their losses. The problem with waiting, however, is that it is a matter of rolling the dice rather than eliminating the negative aspects of their platform. Candidates and parties cannot rely on events alone. They need a vision that a majority of voters can connect with.

The only question left is if the Democrats will understand that they are engaging in a failing strategy. What happens if Trump is successful? That would be their biggest fair because it puts him in a advantageous position for a second term. Right now the Democratic Party should focus on a new vision with wide appeal rather than their narrow focus of their campaigns in 2016.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Can Francois Fillon Recover?

Francois Fillon addresses his scandal  - Getty Images
Once the frontrunner, Republican nominee Francois Fillon is now facing a scandal in the middle of his bid to become president of France. Fillon's wife Penelope (an Englishwoman) was paid $900,000 when she worked for her husband. It isn't illegal to work for a spouse, but that allegations are that she did no work at all. The country's financial prosecutor is launching an investigation.

Fillon's challenge is to get over these hurdles and win back enough public support to push him into the second round. Currently, his poll numbers have declined from over 20 percent in late January to now 17.5 percent. This is enough to eliminate him from the second round. Marine Le Pen, the nominee for the National Front, is currently in the lead. The candidate who has overtaken Fillon is Emmanuel Macron, who has founded a new political party called On the Move (En Marche in French). A former economic minister in Francois Hollande's administration, Macron is running as a centrist.

Fillon stood up like a man and apologized for his "error of judgement." He has promised to release his family's assets online. He has decided to stay in the race even with the scandal. The contest is wide open as Fillon's campaign loses supporters. He needs to get his scandal ahead of him and campaign fiercely to win.

There's an opportunity to turn any campaign around. Bill Clinton was able to do that in 1992. At the same time, Fillon does not want a Hillary Clinton dilemma with new information on the scandal released throughout these months. This rebuilding has to begin now.

Once, the election seemed easy for Fillon. His promises of Thatcherite economic reforms, taking on radical Islam, and the most powerful military in Europe within ten years. Now he is going to have to fight to get into the second round. There's still a few months before first round on April 23 and he needs to used all that time to his advantage.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Trump should continue Energy Expansion

I'm very happy to see that President Trump is going to continue the energy expansion our country enjoyed under the later years of the Obama administration. I think building more pipelines and keeping up with fracking boosts our economy and strategic position. In addition, I believe his corporate tax cut (once it is proposed and signed into law) will enable both the fossil fuels industry and green energy to prosper.

In posts from a couple years back I brought up the importance of the fracking revolution and the importance of pipelines to our energy infrastructure. While environmentalists want to take a sharp turn from fossil fuels to green energy, the reality is that we won't be losing oil anytime soon. I believe that alternatives will gradually replace traditional energy. It would be economically catastrophic to take a hardline stance on energy usage.

To understand the importance of fracking, just look to trade. Japan has recently purchased its first shipment of American liquefied natural gas. In the past, the United States has been crippled with high gas prices as a result of international crises abroad. The geopolitical benefit of American energy renaissance is prices remain lower while the new energy sources on our continent remain safe. From 2012 to 2016, oil output increased from under 6 million barrels per day to over 9 million barrels per day.

There has been some negatives effects to the fracking revolution. The boom of oil production has led companies to shut down most of their rigs, leaving many workers without anything to do. If they kept over 1,400 rigs online (there were that many near the end of 2014), then prices would have fallen so rapidly that financial damage would have inflicted the companies.

What is beneficial, however, is the reduction in C02 emissions that no even the staunchest of environmentalists can't ignore. They have plunged under 3 billion metric tons, which according to economist Mark Perry means that we have met the Kyoto protocol without even signing the agreement. Natural gas generates more than coal in this new era of energy production.

As for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the United States needs efficient energy infrastructure. The idea that Dakota Access would run over Native American burial grounds is untrue according to state archeologists. It also does not run through any part of reservation.

No one can that incidents don't happen, but no one can also say that pipelines are not safe. The Heartland Institute's Isaac Orr has done some research into this topic. There are an average of 216 oil spills from pipelines per year spilling 35,317 barrels. That's nothing compared to the 9.8 billion barrels transported a year, meaning that 99.99 percent of oil in the pipelines safely arrived to their destinations. According to a report from the Fraser Institute, moving oil and gas by pipeline is 4.5 times safer than rail, which would be an alternative form of transportation if we halted pipeline construction.

It would be a nightmare if we did not stop using pipelines immediately. A report from the Consumer Energy Alliance found that 31 percent of American energy generation capacity would be removed by 2030. Here's more:
The losses from this rejected infrastructure would equal the power generation of a dozen states (or 1,450.25 gigawatts). Since one gigawatt powers roughly 750,000 homes, that’s equal to the power generation needs of California, Florida, New York, Texas, Ohio and all of New England combined. 
This projected shortfall would create more economic hardship via skyrocketing electric rates for industrial, commercial and residential users, particularly the 43 million people living on a fixed income or below the poverty line who lean on daily access to affordable energy supplies. Denying pipeline expansion will further increase pressure on households facing energy poverty; approving projects will help relieve financial constraints by delivering resources more cost-effectively. 
Furthermore, these scenarios would negatively impact jobs in manufacturing, energy, transportation, mining, agriculture and other industries, the report says. Corresponding impacts would include competitive disadvantages for U.S. businesses and a minimum loss of $15.38 billion in private capital expenditures and economic development.
Trump knows that the country needs to keep it up with expanding our energy sector. As of now, I like what he's been doing on this issue.