Si Vis Pacem, Parabellum

Reno Gazette Journal January 12, 2020

On January 2nd, a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed Qassam Soleimani, the mastermind behind hundreds of attacks against American Servicemen and American interests in Iraq and other countries in the Middle East.

Here’s the recent sequence of events that resulted in his killing according to Reuters: In early-October, Soleimani moves Katushya rockets and shoulder-fired missiles into Iraq. In mid-October, Soleimani meets with Iraqi militias in Baghdad and orders them to step up attacks against U.S. targets. These militias use aerial footage from drones to pick U.S. targets. Over the next several weeks, attacks on bases hosting U.S. troops becomes increasingly sophisticated. On December 9, Katushya rockets strike a base near Baghdad airport. On December 27, 20 rockets were fired at a base in Kirkuk killing a U.S. contractor and wounding four American servicemen. U.S. launches air strikes on December 29 killing 25 militia fighters. On December 31st, militia forces storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and write “Soleimani is our leader” on different parts of the embassy. On January 2nd, Soleimani lands in Baghdad and is killed by a U.S. drone strike.

Over the past several decades, Soleimani has coordinated the activities of terrorist organizations which act as surrogates for Iran. This includes the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, just to name a few. Together, these terrorist organizations have killed over 600 American personnel and injured or maimed hundreds more. General Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army under President Obama, said in an interview in 2015 that a majority of the American casualties in Iraq from 2008-2010 was caused by Soleimani (link to video).

Soleimani has been sanctioned often. In 2005, Soleimani was designated a terrorist by the U.S. In 2007, the UN Security Council banned his travel and froze his assets and the Treasury Department sanctioned him. In 2011, he was sanctioned both by the U.S. and the EU for his actions in Syria. In 2011, the Treasury Department sanctioned him again for plotting to assassinate Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. at a DC restaurant. His rap sheet is much longer but the above should give you a flavor.

The broader issue is Iran’s continued bad behavior. In 2019 alone, Iran hit 6 ships, shot down a U.S. drone, hit Saudi oil facilities, captured a British vessel and conducted joint exercises with China and Russia. Iran routinely jams GPS signals forcing ships to stray, then seizes the ships and captures soldiers. 15 British sailors were held for 13 days in 2007. Ten U.S. Navy soldiers including one woman were apprehended, forced to apologize, and paraded in front of State TV. Upon their negotiated release, then Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Iran and called Iran’s response “swift and appropriate”.

One final point: Any country that intends to harm Americans should think long and hard before doing so. When Palestinian terrorists killed American Klinghoffer in the Achille Lauro incident in 1985, President Reagan surrounded the plane carrying the terrorists to safety with F-14 Tomcats and forced it to land. In 2020, President Trump reacted with strength on Iran, much like President Reagan reacted in 1985. Democrats, who called President Reagan “cowboy” and “redneck” then, are accusing President Trump of reckless behavior today. Weakness is provocative, and not having a proportionate response to terrorists is a losing strategy. Terrorists with American blood on their hands should never roam the planet freely. There is an old Latin adage which aptly summarizes the current situation: Si vis pacem, para bellum. English translation: If you want peace, prepare for war.

Surveillance of American Citizens Need Proper Controls

Reno Gazette Journal December 29, 2019

Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz has submitted his long-awaited report. The report documents 17 significant omissions and inaccuracies in the FBI’s wiretapping of former Trump aide Carter Page. Wiretapping by the FBI on US soil has to be approved by the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court which was established in 1978. The FISA court, also known as FISC, operates in total secrecy and little is known about this court.

Let’s start with some basic information on FISC. It consists of 11 judges selected from the federal district courts by the Chief Justice of the United States. These 11 judges continue their responsibilities with their respective federal district courts while serving on the FISC. They take turns serving one week each, serving one as the FISC judge and the next 10 in their federal district courts. When the FBI has reason to believe that someone on US soil is a spy or a terrorist, the FBI files an application with the FISC to surveil that person. This application establishes probable cause to collect communications of that person and is approved by a single judge with no representation from the subject of such surveillance.

That brings us to the case of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign advisor. The FBI used the “Steele Dossier”, containing mostly unverified gossip and hearsay, as probable cause to spy on Carter Page while he was working on the Trump campaign. Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, created the Dossier for the firm Fusion GPS using Russian and Ukrainian sources. Fusion GPS was funded with $1.02 million by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) according to Reuters. Additionally, Nellie Ohr, the wife of Bruce Ohr (the 4th highest ranking FBI official at that time), worked for Fusion GPS. When the FBI filed the application with the FISC to spy on Page, it left out the facts that Clinton and the DNC funded the Dossier and that Nellie Ohr is related to Bruce Ohr. As you can see, there were multiple conflicts of interest that the FBI was aware of, which were not shared with the FISC as part of the surveillance application for Carter Page.

Here are a few takeaways for all Americans regardless of political affiliation: (1) A presidential campaign was spied on using a document funded by the opposing campaign; (2) a top FBI official’s wife was employed by the organization which created the document used by the FBI to obtain the warrant; and (3) none of this was disclosed to the FISC during the application process. If such questionable means can be used to spy on a presidential campaign, where does that leave us average Americans?

One final point: The FBI is the nation’s top law enforcement agency, and any impropriety in the use of its powers should be dealt with sternly. What happened with the spying of Carter Page is wrong and constitutes a massive abuse of the FISC process by the FBI. Top FBI officials failed to disclose pertinent information to the FISC. There was significant political bias withing the FBI as the involvement of Nellie Ohr and text messages between top FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page indicate. All past FISC applications should be reviewed for abuse and significant reforms must be enacted to the FISC process. Those who were involved in the questionable FISC application which led to the spying of a presidential campaign should be brought to justice. The punishment should include not months, but years of prison time and loss of all benefits from the FBI. Proceeds from any books they write on the topic should be confiscated.

Victimhood Claims Hurt Black Community

Reno Gazette Journal December 15, 2019

https://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/columnists/2019/12/12/victimhood-claims-hurt-black-community-kumar/4412625002/

Last week, Kamala Harris, U.S. senator from California, dropped out of the Democrat presidential race. Harris rose to prominence after a captivating debate performance in June with “that little girl was me” moment. Unfortunately for Sen. Harris, that captivating story was not followed by additional compelling stories or a coherent articulation of policy positions. While a presidential campaign may be lost by one bad move (remember Howard Dean?), it is seldom won with just one good story. Over time, Harris’ campaign could not sustain its rise and did not have a path forward resulting in her exit.

Prior to dropping out of the race, Harris spoke about the “elephant in the room,” questioning “whether America is ready for a woman, a woman of color to be president.” She was joined by Sen. Cory Booker who implied that Harris’ lack of resources has to do with her race and gender. Former Cabinet Secretary Julian Castro echoed that sentiment and blamed the media for “pushing aside women of color.” In other words, Harris was a victim who failed because of a systemic bias, and her failures had nothing to with her offerings not gaining traction with the Democrat voters.

Racism claims like the ones made by Harris, Booker and Castro fail to explain how a majority of this country voted to elect President Obama twice. It also fails to explain how Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been viable throughout this election cycle. It clearly does not explain the polls showing Michelle Obama as the front-runner if she were to enter the race today. Furthermore, painting America (or in this case the Democratic Party) as racist and sexist does significant injustice to one of the most fair-minded countries in the world. Accusations of racism should be taken very seriously and has no room in politics regardless of political affiliation.

While such claims may help with some segments of the base, and help politicians in some districts, it does not help make progress with the underlying problem: economic underperformance by blacks. Let’s take a closer look at one key factor which influences economic performance and how it impacts the black community.

Employment is a fundamental precondition to economic freedom. Just like a rising tide lifting all boats, when the economy does well, employment and wages are high and everyone benefits. A slow-growing economy, unable to keep up with population growth, increases unemployment and does so disproportionately for blacks and other minorities. For example, in March 2010, when the economy was sluggish, black unemployment stood at 16.8 percent, whereas white unemployment was at 8.9 percent. Unemployment for black men currently stands at a historic low of 5.1 percent (Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve). Besides putting money in people’s pockets, employment generates a sense of dignity which no amount of welfare can match. Focusing on achieving a high-growth economy greatly helps improve black lives.

One final point: Claims of racism and victimhood might benefit politicians but it does not benefit the black community. Economic success starts with a dream. Dreams become goals when one believes they are achievable through effort. With the constant claims of racism and victimhood, politicians and media have stolen that belief from black communities. They have convinced the black community that their effort does not have a bearing on the outcome. For our black communities to succeed, we need to have role models who plant the seeds of belief that individuals, regardless of skin pigmentation, are the masters of their own fate, captains of their own souls, architects of their own destiny. Sadly, most, if not all politicians have failed the black community miserably in that regard.

Thanksgiving: A Great American Tradition

Reno Gazette Journal December 1, 2019

Thanksgiving is a truly American tradition. No other country other than America (and our cousins north of the border who celebrate a different version at a different time) celebrates this holiday. This tradition dates all the way back to October 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Fifty-three pilgrims were joined by ninety Wampanoag Indians for a feast which lasted three days. The Indian guests, led by Chief Massasoit, brought five deer to the gathering. The feast is said to have had a menu that included corn, turkey, venison, corn, beans, garlic, artichoke, concord grapes, walnuts and chestnuts.

As with everything else, Thanksgiving has evolved over time. In 1789, President George Washington issued the first proclamation by a President to “recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer…”. Starting with President Lincoln, Thanksgiving was observed on the last Thursday of November. Of course, no American holiday would be complete without political interference. In 1939, President Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving Day to the third Thursday of November. Democrats loved it; Republicans hated it. So, Republican Thanksgiving was celebrated by half the states on the fourth Thursday and Democrat Thanksgiving was celebrated by the other half on the third Thursday. Some derisively dubbed it “Franksgiving”. Normalcy was returned when Congress in 1942 passed and President Roosevelt signed a law permanently moving Thanksgiving Day to the fourth Thursday in November.

While nearly four centuries have passed, many of the underlying traditions remain. We spend the day giving thanks to the Lord. We join friends and family to celebrate. Thanksgiving is also the start of a season of generosity. Many Americans volunteer at food banks and homeless shelters. In 1876, another great American tradition of football was added to Thanksgiving as Yale and Princeton began an annual tradition of playing each other on Thanksgiving Day. In 1934, National Football League joined in. Detroit Lions have played on Thanksgiving Day ever since; Dallas Cowboys started playing on Thanksgiving Day starting in 1966.

As Americans, we have a lot to be thankful for: This great country; George Washington, without whom there would be no America; Alexander Hamilton, who put together the young nation’s long-enduring financial system; Our Founding Fathers for the world’s shortest Constitution and longest living one; Our armed forces who fight our enemies overseas, so we can be safe at home; The CIA, whose agents serve in far-flung destinations and hostile territories; The FBI, whose agents who keep our homeland safe; Our Police Officers who protect us; Our firefighters who protect our homes; our family and friends who are always there for us; The freedom to disagree, argue, and rant but still come back together as one nation; And, most importantly, the Almighty Lord for blessing us with all of the above.

One final point: The vast majority of Forbes’ 400 richest Americans are self-made and 254 of them started their own business. We are truly an opportunity society. In this nation, we have a lot more opportunities than people in any other country. In this most free of nations, we can go as high and as far as our talent and willingness to work will take us. Our poor are richer than the rich people in many countries. We can either think of all the things in life we don’t have and choose to be unhappy, or, we can look at everything we have and choose to be happy while simultaneously working for an even better tomorrow. On this Thanksgiving Day, let us give thanks to all the riches this great country and the good Lord have bestowed upon us. Happy Thanksgiving!

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s Anti-Americanism

Reno Gazette Journal November 17, 2019

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a member of the so-called Squad, recently endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President claiming that Senator Sanders will fight against “Western Imperialism”.

To be sure, this is not the first time that Congresswoman Omar has made remarks which are highly questionable. She referred to the attacks of 9/11 as “some people did something”. She accused Jewish-Americans of dual loyalty with the, “It’s about the Benjamins” tweet. Then there is the tweet about “Allah awakening people to the evil doings of Israel”. She blamed the U.S. for the terrorist attack on the Kenyan mall that killed 70 people and wounded 200 more. She wanted a Minnesota judge to show leniency to men who obtained fake passports to go fight for ISIS. She blamed the U.S. for the Venezuelan coup. She supported the terrorist organization Hamas as they fired rockets at Israel. She complained that Americans pronounce “Al-Qaeda” in a menacing tone. She made the false claim that U.S. forces killed thousands of Somalis during the “Blackhawk Down” mission and included the hashtag “NotTodaySatan”. As you can see, this is a pattern of highly questionable behavior. At every turn, Congresswoman Omar has sided with people who march down the streets and chant “Death to America!” while burning our flag.

Remember that massive furor when chants of “send her back” were heard at President Trump’s rally a few months back? Vile! Un-American! Racist! Those were the claims by pundits on TV and non-pundits posting on Facebook. Congresswoman Omar has constantly decried America while having a sympathetic view of terrorist organizations and anti-American rogue regimes like Palestine. If Congresswoman Omar thinks this country is so bad, and other countries are so much better, it is fair to ask the question why she is here. While it is easy to call one who challenges her anti-American views a racist, the issue here is not her ethnicity, national origin, skin color, or religion. The issue is her behavior, her support of groups that chant “Death to America!” and her constant criticism of American policy. I do not believe in discriminating against anyone; likewise, I do not believe anyone should be afforded immunity for their anti-American comments because of their skin pigmentation.

Omar, unfortunately, is not the only person in the Democrat party who thinks poorly of America. While most Democrats love this country, there is a segment of the party that does not. The Democrat party leadership has catered to that segment. For instance, not a single flag was on stage in the October Democrat Presidential Debate. The only candidates to wear an American flag pin on their lapels were Joe Biden and Tulsi Gabbard. As many policy disagreements as I have with Vice President Biden, I will always have a soft spot for him because I think the man is a patriot who proudly wears the flag on his lapel and sings along when the national anthem is played.

Contrast that with the Republican party. Disrespect the flag or the Anthem and you will be persona non grata within the party. Chants of USA rain down from the rafters at our rallies. We sing along with the national anthem and we are proud to do so. In the Republican party, patriotism, including respect for the flag and anthem, is non-negotiable.

One final point: To Congresswoman Omar, who thinks we support “Western Imperialism”, I would like to read a quote from former Secretary of State Colin Powell: “The only land this country has ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead”.

Happy Birthday, Nevada!

Reno Gazette Journal November 3, 2019

https://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/columnists/2019/10/31/happy-birthday-nevada-sam-kumar/4113349002/

Thursday, October 31 marks Nevada’s 155th birthday. On that day in 1864, Nevada became the 36th state of the Union.

This state was formed in an expeditious fashion for the specific purpose of re-electing President Abraham Lincoln in the middle of the civil war… and a bunch of silver. In July of 1864 a convention wrote Nevada’s Constitution, which was approved by the people in September. For statehood to be official, Congress had to approve it. Congress, however, needed to have Nevada’s Constitution in hand before they could approve statehood. Paper copies were sent by train but hadn’t arrived in Washington by late-October and election Day was November 8, 1864. To avoid missing the deadline, then-Governor Nye telegraphed the entire Constitution. It took two days, October 26-27, to send the document. At that time, it was the longest and most expensive telegraph transmission, costing $4303.27 (nearly $70,000 in today’s dollars).

As it turned out, President Lincoln did not need Nevada for his re-election. Today, as in 1964, we are one of the handful of swing states, critical to an electoral college majority, and it is just a matter of time before a close election puts Nevada as the state that decides a presidential election by a razor-thin margin. Nevada’s status as first-in-the-west primary state, right behind Iowa and New Hampshire, puts us in a prime position to establish a front-runner or to prop up an underdog. All major candidates visit Nevada and any Nevadan who wants to meet a presidential candidate can meet his or her favorite. Last cycle, Republicans had the opportunity to meet their candidates. This cycle, if you are a Democrat, this is your opportunity to meet your candidates and I would encourage you to do so.

God has blessed Nevada with great natural resources and remarkable individual ingenuity. We are the fourth largest producer of gold behind China, Australia and South Africa. We supply nearly three-quarters of all gold mined in the U.S. We are second only to Alaska in silver production and second to California in Geothermal power generation. Hard hats for construction workers were invented in Nevada for use by workers on Hoover Dam. Next time you wear blue jeans, you may want to remember that they were invented right here in Reno.

Nevada is also home to Creech Air Force Base (AFB). Predator and Reaper drones were developed here in Nevada. Today, most of the drones are operated remotely out of Creech. Allied drone pilots are trained at Creech. The United Kingdom has stationed its drone pilots permanently at Creech. Next time you read about a terrorist eliminated by a hellfire missile in some location like Afghanistan, Somalia or Libya, there is a good chance that drone was operated from, and that missile was fired by, a pilot located in our beloved state.

One final point: While this column is primarily about Nevada, it can easily be extrapolated to America as well. We have inherited a great state and a great country. Sure, we don’t have a long history like some of the European countries, but we have accomplished a lot in a short period of time. America and Nevada are truly unique in many ways and we have a lot to be proud. Our schools should place a strong emphasis on teaching our children about our history. Instead of corporations holding mandatory classes to teach Americans about being sensitive to the cultures of immigrants, they should teach immigrants about the greatness of this state and this county and remind them why they came here in the first place.

The Hypocrisy of the NBA

Reno Gazette Journal October 20, 2019

https://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/columnists/2019/10/17/hypocrisy-nba-sam-kumar/4010639002/

Last week, National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong”. Shortly after his tweet, the Chinese Government retaliated by announcing that the Chinese Basketball Association and several other Chinese companies would break their business ties with the Rockets. The government-owned TV network cancelled televising and streaming the NBA games being played in China. Mr. Morey immediately deleted the tweet and offered an apology.

The matter didn’t end there as the NBA also released a statement in which it called Morey’s comments “regrettable” and “inappropriate”. The NBA then had superstar James Harden apologize and claim how much he loves China. During a press conference, a CNN reporter had the courage to ask Harden about the issue when she was cut-off by the league representative with, “we are only taking basketball questions”. The reporter quietly handed over the microphone and Harden sat quiet. The NBA then cancelled all media opportunities for the players in China which included appearances by the ultimate social warrior LeBron James himself. All this from a league which cancelled its 2017 all-star game in Charlotte because North Carolina passed a law that required people to use bathrooms based on their biological gender and recently banned the use of the word “owner” to refer to team owners.

To be sure, NBA is not the only league with this hypocrisy. US Women’s Soccer player Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem for months in 2016 without drawing a penalty. The same year, from the same team, another player Hope Solo was suspended for six months because she called the Swedish team a “bunch of cowards” for the way they played. Solo’s comments were “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles”. There is a long list of such hypocrisies by the NFL, as I outlined in my columns I am done with the NFL and Kaepernick’s self-serving hypocrisy in 2017.

When asked about the controversy, LeBron James called Morey “misinformed”. San Antonio Coach Greg Popovich avoided the issue and instead proceeded to attack President Trump. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who has an opinion on everything suddenly had no comments (Source: Yahoo Sports). Two days later, after he had time to think, Kerr compared communism to owning an AR-15. Never mind, that communism has killed 100 million people in the last century (Source: ABC Business News). Kerr then proceeded to talk about the divisiveness of President Trump. Of course, Kerr should know a thing or two about divisiveness. He is part of the radicals who took sports, which used to be neutral entertainment for Americans of all political persuasions and turned it into a political event using false pretenses. Kerr complaining about divisiveness is like a guy who killed his parents asking for clemency from the court because he is an orphan.

One final point: The hypocrisy of the NBA and its players is not just limited to politics. The league and the players have enriched themselves using shoe contracts worth billions of dollars. LeBron James’ Nike deal alone is worth more than a billion dollars according to his agent (Source: Sports Illustrated). Let’s be clear about this: It’s not you and me buying the LeBron 17 shoes which retails on the Nike website for $200, it is the inner-city black kids who buy those shoes. Those who enrich themselves on the backs of poor inner-city black kids should be the last ones selectively preaching about social justice to the rest of the world.

The Casualties of Impeachment, from Biden to Pelosi

Reno Gazette Journal October 6, 2019

https://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/columnists/2019/10/02/casualties-impeachment-sam-kumar/3848054002/

Just over a week back, Speaker Pelosi announced that she is launching an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. You have probably heard enough about the merits of the case from various 24-hour “news” channels and I will let you decide on that. Instead, I will use this week’s column to share my views on the casualties of the impeachment process.

Vice President Joe Biden: Even before the Ukrainian issue popped up, Vice President Biden was losing momentum to Senator Warren. Now, no conversation about President Trump involving Ukraine will be complete without a mention of Joe Biden. Every time the Democrats connect President Trump to Ukraine, they will be connecting Vice President Biden to Ukraine as well. This takes away one of Vice President Biden’s biggest selling points: he is drama free and the other guy is filled with drama. Even if the Vice President wins the nomination, he is certain to lose the general election. For all practical purposes, Joe Biden’s political career is over.

Speaker Pelosi: Whatever one may think of Speaker Pelosi’s policy leanings, she is an exceptional fundraiser and a shrewd politician. She resisted the urge to launch impeachment proceedings, but in the end did not have a choice as she was outnumbered by the Ocasio-Cortez wing of the party. To quote Congressman McCarthy, “If you want to know what Pelosi will do tomorrow read Ocasio-Cortez’s tweets tonight”. In my view, Speaker Pelosi is trying to make the most of a bad situation. Pelosi’s choice was to either join the impeachment crowd and do the best she can to control things or oppose impeachment, lose her job as Speaker, and completely lose control over the process. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, Pelosi chose the former.

Moderate Democrats: The choice for 31 moderate Democrats who hail from districts that voted for President Trump in 2016 was not easy: Oppose impeachment and face a primary challenge from the Ocasio-Cortez wing of the party or support impeachment and face the ire of swing voters. All 31 of them had to pick their poison and most are unlikely to be reelected. They can only hope that this process is over before the end of the year and there is enough time for the voters to forgive or forget.

Moderate Republican Senators: Senators Cory Gardner in Colorado and Susan Collins in Maine are both in a tough spot. They are up for reelection in 2020 in Democrat leaning states. Their choice: support the impeachment, lose the base, and the election, or oppose the impeachment, lose just a handful of independents, and lose the slim margin of victory. I fully expect Senate Majority Leader McConnell to pull some fancy tricks to prevent Senators Gardner and Collins (and Arizona’s Senator McSally, for that matter) from having to take a stand on impeachment if it ever gets to the Senate.

One final point: The biggest casualty of the impeachment inquiry is the great institutions of Congress and the Presidency. With both President Nixon and President Clinton, the full House voted to direct the Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment proceedings. With President Trump, Speaker Pelosi did not seek a vote of the full House. In skipping this significant step, Speaker Pelosi has set a precedence and lowered the threshold for impeachment proceedings. This will allow any Speaker in the future to start impeachment proceedings against any President of the opposing party for any reason without a vote of the full House. In the long run, the nuclear option did not work well for Democrats with Supreme Court Justices and neither will their current approach to impeachment.

Economy is Booming, but Deficits are a Concern

Reno Gazette Journal September 15, 2019

https://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/columnists/2019/09/12/economy-booming-but-deficits-concern-says-kumar/2303393001/

The August jobs report showed that the US economy has created over 6.3 million jobs since President Trump took office. 4.2 million more Americans have entered the labor force since January 2017. Unemployment rate stands at 3.7%, and the stock market has gained almost 50% since election day. Nearly 7.5 million fewer Americans are on food stamps since President Trump took office. By every single measure, the Trump economy has been great to Americans.

During President Obama’s two terms, the growth was anemic at 1.9% a quarter on average, compared to 2.6% under President Trump (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis). Household income rose just 0.6% a year on average under President Obama while it is rising at 1.1% under President Trump (Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve). Under President Obama, Labor force participation (percentage of American civilians over 16 who are working or looking for a job) hit levels not seen since President Jimmy Carter called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home. Since President Trump took office, 4.2 million more Americans have entered the labor force (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics). Consumer Confidence Index which rarely touched 100 under President Obama now stands at over 135 as more Americans feel positive about their financial condition (Source: The Conference Board). Walmart sales have been increasing at a rapid pace, a clear indication that the Trump economy is benefiting the lower end of the economic spectrum.  

A strong economy is the foundation for a strong country. President Reagan used America’s economic strength to bait Soviet Union into an arms race. Unable to keep up, the Soviet Union collapsed. President Trump is taking a similar approach with China. China is a different beast and it is highly unlikely that it will collapse but our actions have clearly disrupted the supply chain and has led to many major corporations shifting operations out of China and into other geographic locations. Toymaker Hasbro, Bath & Body Works parent company L Brands, and fashion designer Steven Madden have all recently outlined plans to substantially reduce their dependence on Chinese manufacturing in the next few years, according to CNBC. All that on top of Apple, Dell, HP and Google who have already announced such moves. As I outlined in my column in late-May, trade war is a strategic opportunity for the U.S. to curb China’s rise and a strong economy is key to winning that war.

One final point: President Obama added $8.6 trillion to the national debt. President Trump is expected to add $5 trillion in just his first term. That is an average budget deficit of over a trillion a year. The federal government should learn to live within its means. Deficit spending (“generational theft”, as the late Senator John McCain called it) is one of the few things that is bipartisan in Washington, D.C.

Having said that, for fiscal discipline to be successful, it must come from both sides of the political aisle. Nevada is an excellent example where one-sided fiscal discipline has proved to be a massive failure. Governor Sandoval did the responsible thing and built up the rainy-day fund. Governor Sisolak has conveniently raided that fund to increase his spending. As long as the liberal tax-and-spend behavior continues, there will be no incentive for Republicans to show fiscal restraint.

Reps. Omar and Tlaib Think US is Always Wrong

Reno Gazette Journal September 1, 2019

https://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/columnists/2019/08/28/congresswomen-omar-and-tlaib-think-america-always-wrong-says-kumar/2147987001/

Recently, Israel barred Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country citing their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, one which even the Democrat-controlled US Congress voted down in bi-partisan fashion by a margin of 398-17. A few days later, Israel granted a humanitarian exception to Ms. Tlaib and allowed entry so she could visit her grandmother. Tlaib declined the offer and instead held a press conference where she shed tears and falsely claimed that Israel barred her from visiting her grandmother. She promptly followed up her tear-filled claim with a fundraising letter.

Omar and Tlaib have constantly hidden behind their skin color, national origin, religion and gender while refusing to accept responsibility for their poor judgment, irresponsible remarks, and questionable alliances. This time Omar and Tlaib attempted to hide behind their special status as members of Congress. They could have easily visited Israel with 41 of their Democrat colleagues led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who took the trip earlier this month. Instead, they opted for a trip sponsored by Miftah, a pro-Palestinian group that supports suicide bombers and spreads false claims that Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover, according to New York Times columnist Bari Weiss. The Congresswomen’s official agenda called it a “U.S. Congressional Delegation to Palestine”. Ms. Tlaib has a world map in her office with a post-it “Palestine” that has an arrow pointing to Israel on the map.

Anti-American remarks and actions by Omar and Tlaib are innumerous. In 2017, Omar took a trip to Honduras sponsored by the pro-Communist, anti-American group Witness for Peace. She subscribes to the Marxist view of the cold war, which makes America the villain. Then there is Omar’s reference to the attacks of 9/11 as “some people did something”. Neither Omar, nor Tlaib have condemned the terrorist organization Hamas or those in the middle east who burn American flags and chant “Death to America”. Just this month, Tlaib spoke to reporters where she said, “MY city of Beit Ur al-Fauqa is so excited”. She tweeted about “the love for MY city” referring to a city in the middle east. I thought she was from Michigan…

One final point: In 2016, I was invited to meet with a delegation of Israeli parliamentary staffers. During the conversation, I started responding to one of their questions with, “America is the greatest country in the world…” when I realized that my audience may feel that their country, Israel, is just as great. I tried to be mindful to their sensitivities, so I continued with, “I recognize you may feel that Israel….” but I never had the chance to finish my sentence. “Sam, we love Israel but America is the greatest country in the world”, said one of the members of the delegation. Somehow, America’s greatness, acknowledged by many around the world, seems to have eluded Omar and Tlaib, and their allies. The protestors in Hong Kong, all of whom are Chinese citizens, waved the American flag and sang our national anthem many times during their recent protest. America is, and has been, the beacon of freedom in the modern world, yet, these two Congresswomen somehow have a tough time acknowledging it. This great country took Omar, a Somali refugee from a Kenyan refugee camp, granted her citizenship, and sent her to the hallowed halls of Congress. All we ask for, is a little gratitude. Apparently, that is too much to ask.