No Escape From the Middle East

No Escape From the Middle East

President Trump was elected on a platform that included “no more dumb wars.”  Whether our recent conflicts have been dumb may not answer a more pressing question – how to get out of the quagmire known as the Middle East.  His recent tweets, threatening the Iranian regime, do not suggest that we are near the end of America’s involvement in that part of the world.

There is no question that Trump campaigned on, and his supporters agreed with, bringing home US troops from the Middle East.  Afghanistan, Iraq … ”America First” meant getting out of other people’s fights.

But are they “other people’s” fights?  The US has allies in the region … America has a vested interest in the free flow of oil from the region … America is the only power that stands with Israel – a Western styled democracy in the middle of a region of authoritarians and royalty … markets rise and fall on the price of oil, meaning our money is impacted by the oil trade … terrorism is born and metastasized in the Middle Eastern countries … this region is not just “other people’s” problems.  America is fully invested in the matters of state within the Middle East.

Unlike North Korea, Iran does not have the same leverage.  Despite daily news coverage of the regime, in concert with Russia, flaunting American interests and international norms, Iran could be playing a losing hand:

Top 3 Reasons Trump is Right to Threaten Iran:

  1. “Their strategic depth is limited in the region”: Unlike North Korea, which has Cold War ties to Russia, a benign patron in China, and an opponent in South Korea that does not want war, Iran is primarily on its own.  Russia is a partner on a transactional basis and does not have the capital or soft power benefits to give to Iran.  US forces are next door in Iraq but also next door in Afghanistan.  The US 5th Fleet patrols the Persian Gulf.  The Saudis and most Sunni tribes oppose Iran on religious grounds, and Israel is a military hegemon for the region with strategic strength.  Bottom line, Iran is much more isolated than other US enemies.
  2. “Their economy is in free-fall, with more US sanctions on the way”: Sanctions have wrecked the Iranian economy.  Even as Europeans wish to stay in the now defunct JCPOA agreement, their home-grown corporations are running for the hills.  When given a choice – do business with America or Iran – that’s not really a choice.  Oil is, for the time being, traded in dollars.  When you attempt to go outside dollars in the oil trade, you impose taxes on yourself, which is exactly what Iran has done.  Their currency is in freefall this year.  On every economic measurable, their economy is collapsing … and more US sanctions are on the way.
  3. “Iranian citizens oppose conflict and are in many respects pro-Western”: Iran’s youthful population is by no means pro-American, but the great victory of Pax Americana is that you can buy a Coke and some Nike shoes in every corner of the globe.  The Iranian public’s desire for freedom from their Muslim overlords was apparent during the Green Revolution in 2009 and the most recent protests against the government.  Trump’s tweets provide a public stance against the regime and can give confidence to aspiring pro-Democracy groups within the country.

 Top 3 Reasons Trump is Wrong to Threaten Iran:

  1. “Another Middle East war would be catastrophic”: It is hard to describe all of the potential bad outcomes of another war in the Middle East involving US troops.  While the initial assault may have the support of Israel and Arab allies, the conflict would most likely spread and in ways we could not contain:  missile strikes from Hezbollah into Israel … terror strikes in Riyahd … terror strikes on the US homeland … the potential of Russia getting involved … counter-moves in other regions by China … oil prices skyrocket and impact the global economy in much more damaging ways than we could imagine……don’t confuse our ability to win a war and the capacity of US soldiers to win any engagement with the political decisions that will most likely cause the most harm.  America, if willing to fight to the end, cannot be defeated.  But today’s political leaders usually don’t have the stomach for Dresden and Tokyo-styled “total war.”
  2. “Follow through will be hard”:  Trump was elected while campaigning against “stupid” wars and specifically the Bush invasion of Iraq.  This is the second major party candidate to win an election based upon an anti-war stance (Obama ‘08).  The public no longer trusts its leaders to tell the truth about why we go to war, and to properly execute the war once we are in it.  Much of that is the public misconstrues much of how the US global order is maintained, but it doesn’t change the fact that (A) voters have soured on sending our soldiers abroad; (B) Trump promised to stop getting into such conflicts; and, (C) there is no public support for another military engagement in the Middle East.
  3. “If we do go in, it won’t be a walk in the park”: Iraq was flat terrain and just a few major population centers in a country of 25 million.  We controlled 30% of the airspace for over a decade since the first Gulf War.  We had infiltrated the entire Iraqi government with spies and hacked their networks.  And yet we saw how well that expedition went.  Iran has a population of 70+ million.  The terrain is a combination of all forms of warfare – mountainous, desert, and urban.  Its population is spread out over a land mass double in size.  Its nuclear weapons facilities are hardened and spread out throughout the country.  It has a global terror network which can create asymmetrical conflict in a moment’s notice.   The American military would not lose a fight, but if we are not willing to exert total war on an enemy, the costs of this fight will be unimaginable, and would not have public support.

After the tweetstorm exchange, Trump has signaled his willingness to “deal” with Iran.  We have entered a new era of nuclear proliferation.  Unless the US is willing to enforce non-proliferation with force, then we have little that can stop countries from developing these types of weapons.  It is not the 80s or 90s anymore – and maybe this volatility is reason that your money should be in safer places as well.

Call now and speak with your Ty J. Young Inc. advisor at no cost or obligation. Learn how you can have your retirement money protected and growing at the same time. (877) 912-1919


SCOTUS Pick Brett Kavanaugh … Something for Everyone to Like

SCOTUS Pick Brett Kavanaugh … Something for Everyone to Like

President Trump nominated his second Supreme Court Justice this week, naming Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy.

Whether or not Kavanaugh gets confirmed is another issue – the left was lining up to oppose him even before he was chosen.  The extreme nature of the “Resistance” is not a healthy reaction within our democracy, but is a right of speech that we enjoy.

According to Reuters post-election polling, “Supreme Court nominations” scored as the number one reason – among many – that voters chose Trump over Clinton, getting the highest response of all issues at 26% (the economy was second at 22%).

The “resistance” to Kavanaugh may be misplaced.  Unlike Gorsuch, who evidenced Justice Scalia’s influence in his rulings and was a devout adherent to originalism – the area of jurisprudence that believes the Constitution should be followed to the letter, and should represent a “strict construction” of the text as it was written – Kavanaugh’s paper trail shows a moderate conservative approach to the application of the Constitution to fact patterns before the Court.

Resisting Kennedy’s replacement should therefore give liberals caution.  Sometimes he has gone their way, and like Kennedy, his DC establishment credentials may make his career that of a swing vote on the court as well.  Make no mistake, Kennedy was a conservative, appointed by Ronald Reagan who adhered to conservative beliefs most of the time.  He was more heterodox in his approach on certain social issues such as gay rights, which made his vote often seen as a swing vote on the Court.  But for the left, that may be the best they get under the Trump presidency.  Kennedy was conservative with middle of the road social values … Kavanaugh may end up the same.

Hoping the mid-terms give them control of the Senate is a big gamble for Democrats.  If they block Kavanaugh, but lose the Senate again in the November mind-terms, Trump’s second choice won’t be a moderate conservative, but a hardcore conservative further to the right than Kavanaugh and possibly even Gorsuch.  It is a huge gamble considering that Kavanaugh has something for everyone to like:

I. Top Three Reasons Republicans Should Love Judge Kavanaugh:

  1. “His dissent in Heller confirms 2nd Amendment commitment”: Even Judge Kavanaugh would reject the idea of absolutism, he has come pretty close in his Heller dissent.  The Heller decision, made in the DC Federal Court of Appeals where Kavanaugh served in 2006, was an affirmation of the District’s gun control laws.  So stringent they served effectively as a ban on any form of gun ownership.  Eventually overturned by the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh stated in his well-documented dissent that not only was the DC ban unconstitutional, but that restrictions on any form of gun ownership would not pass Constitutional muster.
  2. “Ardent defender of the 1st Amendment”: The precedent used to support the Robert’s court ruling in favor of Citizens United could be found in the 2009 case Emily’s List vs. Federal Elections Commission.  In that case, Kavanaugh wrote for the majority that citizens have right to use money to express speech, and supporting advocacy groups falls within the scope of First Amendment protections.
  3.  “His dissent in United States vs. Askew takes a limited view of 4th Amendment protections”: Conservatives who favor law and order policies such as stop and frisk and broad definitions of probable clause will support Kavanaugh’s length record of support for law enforcement.  In the Askew case, Kavanaugh ruled that even if the authorized search of the alleged perp is limited in scope, law enforcement is still entitled under the Constitution to continue the search on the subject person more broadly.  In the case above, when drugs were not found on the defendant, Kavanaugh dissented in saying the police were within their rights to unzip the coat of the subject where they found an unregistered weapon.

II. “Top Three Reasons Democrats Should Love Judge Kavanaugh”:

  1. “Obamacare as a tax was the creation of Kavanaugh”: The DC Circuit Court of Appeals first heard a case known as Seven-Sky vs. Holder that under normal circumstances would be a footnote in legal history.  Judge Kavanaugh’s lengthy 65-page dissent included the first legal reasoning that the Obamacare individual mandate penalty was a tax, and should be treated as such.  This was the legal and intellectual text and language Justice Roberts would use in affirming the Obergfell case and therefore confirming Obamacare as constitutional.
  2. Illegal Immigrant minors have a right to an abortion”: Judge Kavanaugh dissented in a 2017 case which allowed an illegal immigrant minor, 17 years old, to receive an abortion while in detention, but only to the fact that she was a minor and the state had her in detention without parent consent.  He did not invalidate abortions for a minor, abortions for illegals, and many court analysts believe this will provide the wiggle-room to not overturn Roe v. Wade.
  3. “Military commissions still fall under Federal Statutes”: Under Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld, Kavanaugh’s majority opinion ruled that US military commission trials are required to follow federal statutes which memorialize and encapsulate International Laws of War.  In other words, if the US has signed a treaty, or enacted a law, which governs battlefield conduct, and that encapsulates international agreements, then our existing military commission trials (MCT – under the Military Commission Act of 2006, MCA) must abide by those guidelines.  Salim Hamdan was Bin Laden’s driver, he ran errands for him, but no evidence was presented that he participated in the planning or execution of terror acts against the United States.  Under international law, material support does not constitute an act of war, and his conviction could not stand under Federal Law.  Conservatives were angered, liberal cheered, but it was probably the correct call under Federal statutes defining military commissions.

Judge Kavanaugh is a conservative, but he is replacing Anthony Kennedy, who was generally conservative in his rulings throughout his career – so this is not a change to the ideological make-up of the court.  Trump’s choice does not alter the voting balance on the court, and in fact has several rulings which fall in line with both sides of the political aisle.

The Supreme Court makes decisions that affect our money.  Staying informed on their influence is important – they can impact markets which impacts your money.  Protecting your money should be a primary objective of your retirement planning process.

Call Now! (877) 912-1919

Having a Border Has Never Been a Partisan Issue

Having a Border Has Never Been a Partisan Issue

Having a border has never been a partisan issue … until now???

 Securing our border has been met with unprecedented civil disobedience over the last two weeks.  While it can be heart-wrenching to see families separated when illegally crossing into the country, that does not change the underlying requirements of sovereignty.  Fortunately, the government reversed course, and allowed children to remain with their parents moving forward.  But that is not the legal panacea one would assume, and it has not ended the threats of violence … including some from actual members of Congress.

Immigration is governed by dozens of statutes and hundreds of regulations, as well as multiple court cases including one in 1997 known as the “Flores Consent Decree.”  It was a court ordered resolution that requires children to be detained for 20 days if arriving illegally, and after that, you either deport or release them.  If an adult has crossed illegally – where do you put the child, in jail/detention with the parent?  And if the processing of the illegal crossing takes more than 20 days, then what?  Release them into the general population?  Deport only the child?

Existing immigration law assumes a due process hearing is held within 20 days, but the backlog of those being detained far exceeds that capacity and time frame.  Release them into the general population and they remain undocumented, and they usually do not return for their hearing.   So, is the solution to deport the children without the adult?   And are the adults their actual parent?  Are they a drug mule, “coyote,” or human trafficker?  Put them in the same cell as a human trafficker?  Where we can confirm the adult is the parent, the reversal of the separation policy was a humane choice and a better reflection of American values.  But media interviews designed to tug at the heart is not the majority of problems we are seeing with the surge of illegal crossings.

These are just some of the dozens, if not hundreds, of issues related to our illegal immigration problem.  But the key caveat is that it is illegal immigration we are talking about, not legal immigration.  They are also not new – as previous Democratic Administrations used most of the same policies as the Trump Administration.

This has not been a partisan issue in the past, consider the following quotes:

Former President Bill Clinton:  “…That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens … We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.”  – State if the Union, 1/24/95

Former President Barack Obama:  “Real reform means strong border security, and we can build on the progress my administration has already made — putting more boots on the Southern border than at any time in our history and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years.”  – State of the Union, 2/12/13.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY):  “…First, illegal immigration is wrong … The American people are fundamentally pro-legal immigration and anti-illegal immigration. We will only pass comprehensive reform when we recognize this fundamental concept.”  Speech at Georgetown Law School, 6/24/09

Then-Senator Obama (D-IL):  “…The bill before us will certainly do some good … it would provide better fences and better security along our borders and would help stem some of the tide of illegal immigration in this country.”  –  Boston Globe quoting a Senate floor speech, 1/27/17

Republican politicians already have a platform, and a political stance, which is for securing our border, so quotes from Republican leaders would be redundant.

 The bottom line – everyone is for securing the border, so why is there a conflict on the issue?

In a free, Democratic society, with checks and balances to prevent mob rule or the tyranny of the majority, it requires speech, debate, and persuasion to win your argument.  These were defining elements of the enlightenment, which gave birth to the Founding Fathers.  Sometimes you do not win the debate, and you must accept that freedom includes compromise.  Some basic norms of civility seem to have been lost in the age of social media.

There are numerous reasons to make sure we seal the border and require admission to be legal and accountable:

Top 5 Reasons the Borders Should be Secured:

5. “Jobs and wages”: This is obvious.  Illegal immigration takes away jobs from Americans.  While some argue that Americans would not do jobs in the farming sector, that is a subjective determination, and is not relevant.  If the country needs agricultural labor, they can extend work permits or green cards.  We don’t because it is easier for farms to break the law and pay lower wages.  But it is not just in farming – low wage service sector employment which has typically been the starting employment for minorities and teenagers is also taken up by even lower wage illegal immigrants.  The resultant flood of job seekers into entry-level labor positions depresses the pay scale even further for those most in need.

4. “Fairness to those who follow the rules”: As the public, and those coming illegally, realize the government will not enforce immigration law, it slowly begins to erode confidence in law enforcement altogether.  It is a terrible way to welcome those who arrived legally, at great cost.  How do you tell the person who did everything the right way, in America, “…sorry, this person is allowed to jump to the front of the line.”  That is inherently unfair, and not what Americans believe in.

3. “Safety requires a legal system of admission”:  MS-13 … drug cartels … sex trafficking … terrorists … according to ICE Director Thomas Homan, 10 Muslim jihadists “a day” seek entry into the US, many detained and deported to their country of origin.  You cannot protect those who pay the taxes if you don’t administer who gets to come in and when.

2. “Freedom, democracy and representative government require an actual border”: You cannot have democratic and representative government without a border.  The body politic is willing to pay taxes, and support lawful uses of their money, because they know it represents THEIR VOTE and THEIR INTERESTS.  If the voting population is constantly changing, then the actions taken by government officials do not necessarily represent the will of the people, or the one’s lawfully paying for those services.

1.  “Costs exceed the benefits”: Families who work hard and assimilate represent the American dream and are an example of the greatness of America and how we take in ALL kids of immigrant groups.  And yes, illegals often pay taxes – whether through fake social security numbers or sales taxes, any number of taxes not related to whether you are a citizen or not.   The total is approximated at $12 billion.   But hold on – illegals cost the government close to $123 billion, dwarfing the revenue they pay by a 10-to-1 ratio!   Illegals immediately can claim such benefits as WIC, free/subsidized lunch, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), food stamps, Medicaid, and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) education in public schools.  The dollar amount in emergency room bills that go uncollected is nearly a third of that total.

In the end, all decent Americans want an immigration system that has secured our border … but that also allows people who wish to immigrate to this country legally to become Americans and give them the opportunity to do so.  It would be a system that also treats people fairly and humanely.   That used to be  a non-partisan issue.

Immigration is one of many issues creating conflict, division, and therefore – risk in the marketplace.  Call now to learn about principal protection products! (877) 912-1919