Will Obama’s Signature Trade Deal Fail?

Last week, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe tried to assure supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Hillary Clinton will back the massive trade agreement if she becomes president. The rebuke from Clinton’s campaign chairman came quickly and harshly:

Love Gov. McAuliffe, but he got this one flat wrong. Hillary opposes TPP BEFORE and AFTER the election. Period. Full stop.

— John Podesta (@johnpodesta) July 27, 2016

Donald Trump also opposes the TPP. And while delegates to both party conventions stopped short of denouncing the deal in their new platforms, both documents contain skeptical language about trade.

President Obama signed the TPP, but it has not yet been ratified. A liberal economist has called the TPP “Obama’s Vietnam.” Even though it’s become hugely unpopular, Obama still has to push for ratification to save face. And the deal may still fail in the end.

The agreement won’t go into effect if the U.S. doesn’t ratify it within two years, and at this point, practically speaking there are only two ways that can happen. President Obama and Congress could get it done during the lame-duck session. Or alternatively, Hillary Clinton could win and change her mind after the election. Edward Luce of the Financial Times calls this second scenario “virtually inconceivable,” though as Eamonn Fingleton has explained in these pages, flip-flopping on trade is something that Clinton does, if not well, at least frequently. She helped negotiate the deal, after all.

So what does the treaty do, and what tradeoffs does it pose?

Currently, international trade is governed by a patchwork of agreements, including hundreds of bilateral accords in addition to multilateral agreements like NAFTA. The TPP would override much of this infrastructure for the 12 countries party to it, covering a third of global trade with a single deal. An important signatory is Japan, which would substantially change its trade rules under the agreement. (The estimated benefits to the U.S. tripled when Japan joined.) An important non-signatory is China, trade with which has proven an unexpected threat to American jobs.

Naturally, the TPP will require nations to break down barriers to trade such as tariffs and other restrictions on imports. It also seeks to “harmonize” the ways that different countries structure their economies, including environmental regulations, intellectual-property protections, “state-operated enterprises,” and even corruption laws.

Supporters of the treaty tout a number of potential benefits. Most estimates suggest it could add marginally to America’s economy—somewhere in the general vicinity of 0.5 percent, a small gain because the U.S. already has low trade barriers with most of these countries—and boost exports in industries such as agriculture and manufacturing. If the analysis of the World Bank is to be believed, low-skill wages here will grow 0.4 percent while high-skill wages grow 0.6 percent thanks to the treaty.

The deal could be even better for poorer countries, at least relative to the current size of their economies: low-skill wages in Vietnam are expected to grow 14 percent. The gains could also be greater if the TPP becomes a …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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The Salvation Of Sodom

Ever heard of Bishop Nunzio Galantino? Crux’s John Allen reported on him back in May. Excerpts:

If you’re seeking the prototypical “Pope Francis bishop,” you need look no further than Nunzio Galantino.

Francis overlooked all 500 Italian bishops to pluck Galantino out of obscurity and name him head of all Italian bishops. Galantino, appointed by Benedict XVI in 2011, was very last of all the bishops in a poll of the Italian episcopate requesting their input in who should govern them — yet Francis went to the back of the line to elevate him. Why? Allen writes:

What did Francis see that he liked?

Well, probably for one thing the fact that when Galantino was named a bishop in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI, he asked that whatever money people would have spent buying him gifts for the occasion be used instead to serve the poor.

For others, Galantino opted to live at the diocesan seminary rather than the bishop’s palace in Cassano all’Jonio, he didn’t want either a secretary or a chauffeur, and he asked people to call him “Don Nunzio” rather than “His Excellency.”

In other words, he was the “Pope Francis of Calabria” before Francis was even elected.

Since Galantino stepped onto the national stage, he’s stirred the waters repeatedly.

In May 2014, he riled conservatives by saying, “My wish for the Italian Church is that it is able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favor of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality.”

Prior to the pope’s first Synod of Bishops on the family, Galantino appeared to align himself with progressives seeking to open the door to Communion for the divorced and remarried, saying, “The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination.”

Galantino irritated cultural conservatives again in June 2015 by appearing to throw cold water on a lay-organized rally called “Family Day,” staged to protest a draft civil unions law.

Allen concluded his report with these lines:

Nevertheless, there’s no doubt on one point: Without Pope Francis, few people outside of southern Italy probably ever would have heard or seen Bishop Nunzio Galantino, while today he’s become one of the most consequential Catholic prelates in the world.

In that sense, to find the “Francis effect” in action, he’s about as clear an example as we’ll ever get.

Got that. OK.

At World Youth Day, Bishop Galantino gave a homily to Italian youth present, in which he taught that God saved Sodom from destruction. Here’s a link to the homily in Italian. Reader Giuseppe Scalas has translated the key passage:

“The intense dialogue between God and Abraham in the first reading tell us about prayer. And it’s about prayer that Jesus is asked in the Gospel. A prayer which is not an escape from troubles and responsibility, but a live experience made of listening and answering, through which God creates an authentic relationship and pushes us to be daring. As daring as Abraham’s intercession prayer in favor of Sodom. A city upon which nobody …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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J.D. Vance on CNN

This interview from this morning is the first time I’ve seen author J.D. Vance. He’s great on TV.

Eight days after it was published here on TAC, my interview with J.D. Vance is still going strong. On a normal day, the number of page views we’ve had today, Day 8, would have set a huge record for this site. Thank you! And thanks to reader Surly Temple, whose gift to me of J.D.’s book set this whole thing in motion. He’s been burning up Amazon’s ranking since the interview appeared (though I think you’d get your copy quicker if you’d go through Barnes & Noble’s online store; Amazon has been overwhelmed by orders). I haven’t seen the latest NYT list, but I expect J.D. will be on it. Well-deserved success, for sure. Here’s a five-star customer review from BN.com:

Much like the boy who calls out the emperor for not wearing any clothes, JD Vance’s memoir has the audacity to suggest (and back up with statistics), that the woes of the white, working-class are deeply rooted in what is happening in the home.

I saw an interview with Mr. Vance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and knew I had to read his book. As a veteran teacher in the Rust Belt, the story of his youth describes a growing number of my students and their home lives. While I witness firsthand why these children are not making it academically and exhibiting increased behavioral issues, it is more politically correct to blame the educators, schools, the government and their failed public policy for the decline in our students’ abilities to compete in this global economy. JD Vance does not offer a solution to these problems, but he does suggest “It can start when we stop blaming others and ask ourselves what can we do to make it better.”

J.D.’s book achieves something rare: speaking critically about where he comes from (and from his hard, hard personal experience of poverty and family dysfunction) while also speaking from a place of genuine love and affection for the good qualities of his people. I said in an earlier post that he does for poor white people what Ta-Nehisi Coates did for poor black people: put their plight into the national conversation. But his book is better than Coates’s book in at least one significant way: he ascribes moral agency to the white poor from which he comes. Many, though not all, of the wounds on poor white bodies are self-inflicted, and J.D. has the moral courage to face that hard fact.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Gold Star Father Clobbers Tin Pot Politician

I didn’t see Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention this week, but I heard it was powerful. Khan, a Muslim and Pakistani immigrant to the US, lost his son, US Army Capt. Humayun Khan, in a 2004 roadside bombing in Iraq. After hearing today on the radio that Trump had criticized Khan and his wife Ghazala, who stood by his side as he delivered the scathing anti-Trump address, I watched the Khan speech. Here it is:

Indeed, it is a very powerful speech. This, from the transcript, is its highlight:

He vows to build walls, and ban us from this country. Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future.

Let me ask you: have you even read the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. [he pulls it out] In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law’.

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America.

You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

Whatever your beliefs on Muslim immigration are, you cannot deny the reality of the Khan family’s immense sacrifice for this country, and it is indecent to try. Now, if Donald Trump had the instincts of a normal human being, he would have responded to this speech something like this:

I cannot imagine the pain of what Mr. and Mrs. Khan have been going through since losing their son. I honor their patriotism, and regret that they have allowed the Clinton campaign to exploit their heroic son’s death and their own grief. What I would tell them is this: as Commander in Chief, Donald Trump will not send any more sons and daughters of America to fight and die in unnecessary wars.

Something like that. Normal, decent human beings do not attack Gold Star mothers and fathers. Even though the Khans did enter the political fight with their endorsement of Hillary Clinton, if you have any sense of humanity in you, you just do not attack Gold Star mothers and fathers. Period. The end.

Of course, Donald Trump’s gotta Donald Trump. Here’s what he said to George Stephanopoulos in an interview to air Sunday:

In his first response to a searing charge from bereaved Army father Khizr Khan that he’d “sacrificed nothing” for his country, Donald Trump claimed that he had in fact sacrificed by employing “thousands and thousands of people.” He also suggested that Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim and questioned whether Khan’s words were his own.

“Who wrote that? Did Hillary’s script writers write it?” Trump said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.”


Pressed by Stephanopoulos to name the sacrifices he’d made for his country, Trump said: “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Conservative Christian Life Abroad

A reader writes:

I live in New Zealand, a country where religion is completely washed out of political discourse and out of the public square all together. Our Human Rights Commission decided in favour of a transgender students rights to use the girls bathroom in the single sex girls school he/she attends last month. It was our first. You get the picture.

We have a state funded broadcaster called National Radio that I was listening to earlier this week. They were covering the Democratic convention and had a Democrat spokeswoman and a Republican observer / commentator.

The interviewer was enthusing about Hillary, as was the Democrat (as you would expect) and then they brought the Republican in and asked somewhat incredulously if he would be voting for Trump.

He equivocated a bit, and then said (and I paraphrase) “I am a conservative Christian, and I cannot bring myself to vote for a man who claims to have been a Christian for 70 years but has never once asked God for forgiveness.”

I enjoyed it because he unknowingly broke an important social taboo here in NZ by mentioning God on National Radio, and worse still, introduced the idea that we might need forgiveness from him on public radio! – it was the closest thing we get to an ‘evangelical moment’ from our public broadcaster, and it came totally out of ‘left field’ taking both the interviewer and the nation by surprise!

The interviewer quickly recovered and moved passed the awkward moment, but it was a reminder to me (if I needed it) just how different the religious and political landscape is in the USA compared to, well probably the rest of the Western world.

You may think conservative Christianity is in retreat (and it is) but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Voting for the ‘least worst option’ has become a way of life for conservative Christians here in New Zealand, and I suspect other parts of the Western world. I appreciate that even then you have very little to choose from, and voting for stability, albeit ideological fraught is ‘not nothing’ as you say.

Still, it would be hard to do.

I invite conservative Christian readers in other Western countries and continents (Europe, Canada, Australia, South America) to share here their experiences of what political life is like for their tribe. Tell us Americans what we have to, um, look forward to.

(Hey readers, I want to apologize to you if your comments have been caught in the spam filter. Uncle Chuckie told me his weren’t posting. I checked, and found about 10 or 12 of you regular commenters were losing comments in the spam filter. I restored them all, and you shouldn’t have problems. No idea why this happens. The J.D. Vance interview walloped our servers, so maybe that had something to do with it.)

…read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Why Civil Defense Still Matters


Doctors for Disaster Preparedness is a small group of top scientists and doctors who publish a newsletter and hold an annual meeting at different defense and nuclear sites. At meetings speakers cover issues relating to civil defense, diseases, new chemical/technological discoveries, and global climate issues. Speakers offer varied viewpoints and the group is often bitterly criticized for its unorthodox challenges to the medical establishment. Their last program, described in more detail below, shows the variety of speakers and topics covered.

I have been attending meetings since the 1980s when I first wrote about nuclear war survival. Personally, I have always been interested in civil defense since studying in Germany in 1952, taking shortcuts to my classes through still bombed out city blocks. I was always amazed that “only” a million German civilians died from the bombing that flattened every single city. I even saw East Berlin, which was just rubble as far as the eye could see. Human beings are amazingly resilient. But the Germans also had built good bomb shelters.

After 9/11, Dr. Jane Orient, who runs the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, explained how American city fire departments were being supplied with useless radiation detectors measuring Millirem instead of Rems. They were based on the EPA’s incoherent threat levels, which have been obsolete since the 1950s. The EPA has since modified its threat levels by a factor of hundreds. Dr. Orient then donated higher-scale measuring detectors to her local Phoenix fire department.

I attended the last meeting in Omaha, site of the Strategic Air Command, the military unit in charge of two-thirds of the Nuclear Triad. It had the usual complement of fascinating speakers and topics. Lectures at the meeting included “Freedom of Information Act in Climate Science,” “An Update on Emerging Diseases,” “Police, Fire and Civilian Emergency Medical Preparedness,” “Combatting Heart Disease—Statins and Supplements,” “A Geologic History of Climate—Why Correlated with CO2—or Not,” and “Offshore Drilling and Fracking.”

Jon Basil Utley with the standard B83 hydrogen bomb at the Oak Ridge laboratory in Tennessee, site of an earlier Doctors for Disaster Preparedness meeting.

Among the many interesting speakers, Dr. Mohan Doss spoke on “Rationality in Radiation Protection Standards.” He exhibited the many studies showing that low doses of radiation actually increased immune system resistance to cancer and human longevity in Taiwan, Hiroshima, and among persons living at high altitudes. The phenomenon is called hormesis. Cancer cells constantly occur in the body but are usually destroyed by healthy immune systems.

Dr. Steven Hatfill, professor at George Washington University, gave an “Update on Emerging Diseases.” He explained that most new diseases and viruses come from cross-species infections. He gave the example of Asian cities where millions of people are densely clustered together with domestic and food animals, birds, and fish. That’s why most new infections are called Asian flus. He said that many avian (bird) viruses often transmit easily to humans but do not then transmit from human to human. He warned that humans are vulnerable to pandemic flus such …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Come To DC This Fall

I spent the fall semester of my senior year in college working in Washington on a political consultancy internship. It was the autumn of 1988, during the Bush-Dukakis race. It’s hard to describe what an exciting place Washington was during an election season — even a relatively dull race like the Bush-Dukakis contest.

The Trump-Clinton race is anything but dull. That’s why I strongly encourage younger readers to apply for a fall internship at TAC. The deadline is upon us. Here’s all the info you need to know about the job, including how to apply.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative


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What’s a ‘vegetable butcher’?

My Italian grandfather and great-grandfather were butchers, the traditional kind who could gracefully carve out a tenderloin and butterfly a chicken. I can wield a knife as well, but I use mine against the curves of a stubborn butternut squash and to cut thin ribbons out of crinkly kale. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines


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