General, Politics

After the 2021 Off Year Elections

The 2021 off-year elections showed the continuing appeal of American nationalist themes previously exhibited in on the congressional side of the 2020 elections.  However, the divisive methods of appealing to this pride resulted in close races where almost all the victors won narrowly.  The use of emotional dog-whistles like critical race theory or former President Trumps’ responsibility for the January 6 insurrection obscures the issues that we must face to truly build a strong America.

As I mentioned in this previous post, we have been in such politically divisive days before and survived to renew our civil political culture. In post-Civil War 19th century politics, the real social and economic dislocations caused by the Industrial Revolution were obscured by campaigns about the tangential issues of alcohol temperance, religion, and responsibility for the Civil War, or “Rum, Romanism & Rebellion” as it was called by one observer.  Similar red herrings are used by today’s political propagandists to distract us from the real issues. The modern equivalent of “Rum” is the abortion and other social issues, which distract us from discussing the real crises faced by today’s families attempting to raise moral and successful children. Instead of warnings about the supposed religious threat of Romanism, we now focus on woke politics, critical race theory and other ethnic grievances rather than improving the education of our children to insure they can compete in the world workforce. Finally, the constant harping over the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol enables our leaders to avoid addressing the sources of the extremism on both sides that justifies political violence (see the section “Political Violence” in this previous post).

Two years ago, this website was started to cut through these emotional dog- whistles used by extremists on both sides by highlighting the real issues that weaken the America and its people in a age of rising nationalism elsewhere. I believed the way Theodore Roosevelt guided us out of the political abyss of the late 19th century was a model for curing the fevered politics of these times.   He, like us all, was never perfect in his actions, (see this post), but he was a pioneer of his time on them. Over the next year and in preparation for the next election, we will continue to help you identify the true issues facing America and act on them. For example, we will develop a new American Nationalist Voting Index you can use to evaluate your local congressional candidates in the upcoming 2022 elections. There will also be some changes in the structure of the website, including a new subscription service that will deliver website posts right to your e-mail box. 

Thank you for your attention and support for the website. It is my goal to continue to inform you on how you can preserve a strong America and the American Dream.    

Antitrust & Trade Regulation, China, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, International Trade, Nationalist Theory, New Nationalism News, Politics, Realist Theory, Uncategorized

New Nationalism News

AUGUST 10, 2021

Repeal of Iraq War Authorizations

The forever war in Iraq is now close to officially ending. A bipartisan bill to repeal both the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and may have the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate. The bill has previously passed the House.  Now we must repeal the 2001 AUMF that authorized not just the war in Afghanistan, but also the ill-conceived “War on Terror” that spawned American military interventions across the globe.

Chinese Purchase of American Farms

This article from the American Conservative magazine tells how the Chinese are taking advantage of the decline of the family farm to buy up American farmland and agricultural assets. It is one more example of the monopolization of our food production.  A bill has been filed in Congress to stop any further sales of farmland to China and prohibit currently-owned Chinese farms from receiving farm subsidies. It should be passed as soon as possible.

Wall Street’s Buying up of Single Family Homes

The owner-occupied home has been the bedrock of the American family for generations.  However, Wall Street investment firms are now using their financial clout to buy up single-family homes as rental properties. It is one of the drivers of high home prices.  We should be using our antitrust and federal tax laws to discourage their use of financial market power to monopolize the American Dream.

Wall Street is buying up family homes. The rent checks are too juicy to ignore – CNN

A Harvard Professor’s Praise of Nationalism

Prof. Stephen Walt of Harvard University is a leading advocate of the realist theory of international relations that I believe should replace liberal hegemony as the basis for our foreign policy (see this post). Here he gives faint praise to nationalism for its natural ability to unify societies to face challenges like the pandemic. Maybe he had to temper his support to avoid problems with his globalist colleagues. 

Watching the Olympics and Defeating COVID-19 Have Nationalism in Common (foreignpolicy.com)

Political Reform, Politics

For the People or the Elite? -The Trojan Horse of Internet Contributions

Optimism is a good characteristic, but if carried to an excess, it becomes foolishness.

Theodore Roosevelt

Several years ago, my computer was hacked at the Denver International Airport. Shortly afterwards, I started receiving emails addressed to “Ricot Claude” (not anywhere near my name or nickname) from Democratic party campaigns and affiliated groups hounding me for contributions.  Many of them came through a super-PAC called ActBlue.   The experience exposed a major problem in campaign finance regulation that could be a source of the same kind of “dark money” targeted elsewhere in the For the People Act.

The fundamental flaw of the current system is that it brands the contributors, not politicians, as the culprits who need regulation. At the same time, the Federal Election Commission has almost no resources to chase down and enforce violations by errant contributors.  Campaigns and PACs need only use their “best efforts” to determine whether a contribution is legal, which is defined as only requesting the basic identifying information required by disclosure reporting. See 11 CFR 104.7.  The committee can rely solely on the representations by the contributor and no independent verification of the source of the contribution is required. The only exception is the presidential campaign matching fund program. See 11 CFR 9034.2. Candidates may only receive matching federal funds for contributions evidenced by a “written instrument”.  This is specifically defined as a check, a credit card accompanied by a signed transaction slip or, in the case of an Internet contribution, an electronic record transmitted by the cardholder with a copy of the credit card number and the name of the cardholder. Thus, the candidate automatically has sufficient independent information to verify the identity of the contributor.

In 1995, the FEC ruled in Advisory Opinion 1995-9 that contributions via the Internet were subject to the lax reporting standards applicable to most committees and did not need to be independently verified (see the answer to Question No. 4).  This may explain why so few presidential candidates use matching funds anymore and rely so heavily on Internet contributions instead. This opinion also authorized the use of outside financial contractors to solicit and manage the contribution process.  Since then, a cottage industry of third party vendors unregulated by the FEC has arisen to solicit, raise and manage contributions on behalf of political committees (see this example of Paypal’s service). Only these vendors have the information about the credit card or other source of a contribution.  They have no obligation to cross-reference the name on the credit card or Paypal account or other source against the name reported to the committee or report any discrepancies to the committee.  

Thus, I could have used the system to make illegal contributions under the name “Ricot” with very little likelihood of consequences.  A corporation or foreign national could have done the same.  The potential for abuse was documented in a forensic audit of ActBlue’s contributions by former Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline, who reported that fully 48% of ActBlue’s contributions came from the unemployed while its Republican counterpart WinRed had only 4%.  It also showed how gift cards can be used to game the system. 

This loophole needs to be plugged before it becomes a floodgate of foreign and other dark money into political campaigns.  One way would be to impose on all political committees the documentation and verification rules required under the presidential matching funds program.  In the alternative, the FEC should have the power to regulate outside vendors that manage contributions for committees and impose the same kind of verification rules applicable to the private sector.  A model for such a program can be found in the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Prevention Rules, which require certain creditors to check transactions against red flags of identity theft.  In the absence of congressional legislation, the FEC should require political committees to use such mechanisms to verify the source of the contribution or require their vendors to have such a system and actively audit the vendor to insure it is enforcing the program.

Internet contributions have been hailed as the average American’s answer to the influence of corporate contributions and dark money.  As Theodore Roosevelt said, we should not let that optimism cause us to repeat the mistakes of the Trojans in the Iliad and unwittingly unleash the same kind of abuses we want to prevent.  The For the People Act or any similar campaign finance reform should be amended to control against this threat.  Otherwise, we may find that the plugging of one dark money loophole will simply cause it to spring up in a more corrosive and damaging form.