America First, America Last and America Only

“From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first … ”

                                                           President Trump

When you hear the term “America First,” do you think of patriotic intentions and restoring America’s role as a world leader? Or do you think of anti-Semitism and isolationism?

For the liberal media, President Trump’s use of the “America First” theme during his campaign and his inaugural address is further proof that the president is a racist, jingoist barbarian.

Yes, there was something called the America First Committee, which had some members were were reputed to be anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi. It was also the world’s largest peace movement, with about 900,000 members, including prominent people such as Walt Disney, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, author Gore Vidal and poet e.e. cummings. Politically, members ranged from future President Gerald Ford to Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas.

It’s most outspoken member, aviator Charles Lindbergh, blamed Britain, Jews and the Roosevelt administration for pushing America toward World War II, so the group’s name became somewhat tarnished.

While the America First Committee dissolved shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, some are criticizing the use of the slogan by President Trump because of the committee’s checkered reputation.

“It’s a rotten term that evokes the naive idiots, defeatists and pro-Nazis who wanted to appease Hitler and make friends with him before World War II,” author Susan Dunn told USA Today.

The New York Times noted that, “Mr. Trump has rejected comparisons with the earlier movement, with its taint of Nazism and anti-Semitism.”

The Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn noted, though, that Trump’s decision to return a bust of Winston Churchill to the White House demonstrates that he is not following the tradition of the America First Committee, members of which detested Churchill.

America Last

Ironically, the America First approach is, in many ways, a reaction to American isolationism of the past eight years. America pulled troops out of the Middle East, and did little to interfere with conflicts in Syria and Crimea. America lifted sanctions against Cuba and Iran, an

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Strength Isn’t Always Good

With the dollar strengthening rapidly relative to other currencies, in part as a result of Donald Trump’s election victory, consider this irony: The price of imports will fall, making them more attractive to consumers—just as the incoming president prepares to clamp down on imports.

Hopefully, he’ll put aside his protectionist instincts and be persuaded by his advisors to enable American consumers to enjoy a few bargains. Otherwise, we’ll be experiencing the downside of a strong dollar without enjoying the upside.dollar

The downside is that a strong dollar makes American goods more costly abroad. The weak dollar that prevailed through most of the Obama presidency enabled American companies to compete abroad, even though corporate America is taxed at the highest rate in the industrialized world.

But add on a stronger dollar and American exports will drop, increasing our trade deficit, reducing corporate profits and making it more difficult for the economy to grow. That would cause a drop in employment and American workers would, yet again, have to wait to see their salaries increase.

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The Art of the Unreal

“You ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people’s money, and you were forced to file for bankruptcy not once, not twice, four times.”

Carly Fiorina to Donald Trump

You may think that having a billionaire as president is a good thing, since he must understand how to manage money.

But what about a billionaire who has declared bankruptcy four times?  Given that the U.S. is $19 trillion in debt (and that’s just federal debt), maybe it’s a good idea to elect Donald Trump president.  His first act in office can be to declare the U.S. bankrupt and get us out of paying off all of that debt. Trump, Donald

To be fair, Mr. Trump’s bankruptcies were not Chapter 7 bankruptcies, in which anything of value is typically liquidated, leaving creditors with pennies on the dollar.  They were Chapter 11 bankruptcies, in which a restructuring takes place.

But creditors still lose plenty in such cases.  So you may interpret the bankruptcies to mean that Mr. Trump took advantage of other people to enrich himself, which would make him unethical.  Or you may interpret them to mean that Mr. Trump is incompetent.

Maybe, given his tendency to borrow more than he needs at very high interest rates, both answers are correct.  At least National Review makes The Donald seem neither ethical nor competent:

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Eroding Economic Freedom Means Slower Economic Growth

Being “the land of the free” apparently doesn’t apply to the American economy anymore.

Being a capitalist society with free markets, complemented by the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution, have made America the freest country in the world with the highest standard of living.

And yet America’s standing is slipping.  The 2016 Index of Economic Freedom gives the U.S. a rating of 75.4 points out of 100—what your teacher would call a C.  That’s a drop of 0.8 points from last year, which is enough to nudge the U.S. out of the top 10.  But, heh, we’re way ahead of North Korea, Cuba and Iran.SR-trade-freedom-2016-chart-2

Ours is not an economy in shackles yet, but the degree of freedom needed to sustain rapid growth is eroding.  It was the eighth time in the past 10 years that the U.S. has lost ground. In contrast, more than half of the countries in the index—97 out of 186—improved their score this year and 32 recorded their highest level of economic freedom ever.

Hong Kong and Singapore lead the rankings with scores of 88.6 and 87.6, respectively, but the U.S. is also bested by New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Chile, Ireland, Estonia and the United Kingdom.

Ratings are based on 10 factors, including the size of government, regulations, degree of corruption, taxes and the openness of markets.

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