South Korea

Today in Liberty: Email Scandals, Threats to Signature Legislation, and Netflix’s Discovery That Big Government Is No Friend

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Plenty of red meat in the news these days, from Hillary Clinton’s homebrewed email server to the US Ambassador to South Korea getting slashed in the face. Taken individually, these stories are just a fun diversion as part of surprisingly full news cycle. Taken together, however, they represent a potential sea change in how government functions — and how citizens and voters are reacting to it. Not surprising that things are changing in the time of NSA data gathering, a newly confident Russia, and the (continued) rise of the brutal Islamic State. So here’s a rundown for those seeking the little glimmers of liberty buried under the chaos.

CPAC happened last week and there was an air of excitement and momentum surrounding the incredibly deep GOP field leading into 2016’s presidential election. Scott Walker has ramped up his game and Jeb Bush tried to make the case that he’s not just the guy the Democrats would love to see make a run. And Rand Paul, as he usually does, won the straw poll largely due to the contingent of young voters who attend the annual gathering. A really great thing in fact because it means the millenials may actually be migrating to the right at a greater clip than anyone knew. But while Rand won the youth, social media and news data says that Scott Walker’s the one to watch…for now:

Today in Liberty: North and South Korea trade fire, Obama’s NSA reforms face big hurdles

“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation. The impressionable libertarian kids are saying, wait a second, benevolence is fleeting, and when benevolence is gone, you’re at the mercy of an all-powerful government and it’s too late.”Igor Birman

— North and South Korea exchange fire: North Korea decided to test fire some artillery into the ocean because Kim Jong-un wanted some attention. That led to a response from South Korea, though neither side fired any artillery on land or military installations, according to the AP. “North Korea routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean but rarely discloses those plans in advance. The announcement was seen as an expression of Pyongyang’s frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid,” the AP reported this morning. “No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, but Kim called the North’s artillery firing a provocation aimed at testing Seoul’s security posture. There was no immediate comment from North Korea.”

Tax Day: Time To Pony Up Your Dollars To Subsidize Other Countries

Usually, when people bleat about spending money on other countries, it’s about humanitarian aid. But we spend far more money on other nations than just humanitarian aid; we also spend billions and billions of dollars subsidizing other nations’ military defense.

So when you file your tax return today to your overlords at the IRS, just remember, you’re paying not only for our military, but for the military of NATO, of South Korea, of Japan, and many other countries, and letting them freeload off of you. Every time a liberal points to European socialism and says we should be more like that, just know a lot of that socialism comes because they don’t have to spend on their military—we do it for them.

Here’s the infographic and the blog post from the Cato Institute to prove it:

cato_defense_infographic_2

 

Stop Rewarding North Korea

Written by Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

To a degree almost impossible to imagine just a month ago, North Korea has won international attention, dominated events in Northeast Asia, and embarrassed the United States. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has played into Pyongyang’s hands by responding to the North’s provocations. Now Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting East Asia, beginning Friday, where the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will dominate the agenda.

Rushing off to the region on a high-profile trip is another mistake. Whatever Secretary Kerry does or says is likely to be seen as enhancing the DPRK’s stature. Better for him to have stayed home, phoning his counterparts as appropriate.

No doubt the Obama administration hopes to craft a diplomatic answer to what is widely seen as a crisis. However, Washington dare not reward the North for its caterwauling, even if Kim Jong-un suddenly adopts the mien of a serious leader of a serious nation. Rather, Secretary Kerry should hold out the possibility of engagement, even diplomatic relations—but only if Pyongyang chooses to behave like other nations. No more providing benefits in response to threats.

Sen. Lindsey Graham to South Korea and Japan: “We Have Your Back.”

Senator Lindsey Graham

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham stopped by NBC’s Meet The Press (MTP) Sunday morning to discuss U.S. foreign relations with North Korea. In the wake of recent threats made by the North, Graham expressed support for President Obama’s recent flexing of military strength as a warning saying,

“I think the North Koreans are over-playing their hands. And this [President Obama’s] administration’s acted responsibly. I’m glad we’re not doing the ballistic missile test. I’m glad we had the B-2’s in the theater where they could see ‘em.I’m glad we’re telling our allies South Korea and Japan, ‘We literally have your back’ and the North Koreans need to understand if they attack an American interest or an ally of this country, they’re going [to] pay a heavy price.”

When asked by MTP host David Gregory to give his thoughts on American interests in the region where nearly 30,000 US troops are stationed, Graham replied,

“We’re in the middle. I’m glad we’re there with our allies but the big difference to me is the politics in South Korea are changing by the day regarding North Korea. So if there’s some provocation, it won’t be business as usual by South Korea. I could see a major war happening if the North Koreans overplay their hand this time because the public in South Korea, the United States and I think the whole region is fed up with this guy.”

Gregory probed further saying, “But what happens if there is some kind of conflict between the North and South? That becomes a conflict with the United States doesn’t it?”

To this Graham responded, “The North loses and the South wins with our help, that’s what happens.”

Obama signs much needed trade deals

President Barack Obama did two things on Friday that I agree with. As noted earlier, Obama announced the withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq by the end of the year (though it was not a principled decision) and he signed recently passed and much needed trade agreements:

President Barack Obama signed off Friday on the first three — and possibly last — free trade agreements of his administration, deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama that could be worth billions to American exporters and create tens of thousands of jobs.

The three deals were years in the making, and the difficulty of bringing them to fruition make it unlikely there will be another bilateral trade agreement during Obama’s current term.

Obama signed them with none of the ceremonial fanfare that normally accompanies such triumphs. Republicans, while supportive of the deals, continue to find fault with Obama’s trade policies. And nearly three-fourths of House Democrats voted against the trade measures.

The agreements will bring to 20 those countries that have free trade relations with the United States.

Given that House Democrats beholden to labor unions overwhelmingly opposed these agreements, it’s a break from a considerable chunk of his party’s base. And as recently noted, the White House also opposes a measure pushed by Senate Democrats that would start a trade war with China.

Congress passes free trade agreements

Both the House and Senate finally passed three separate free trade agreements yesterday evening that will make it easier for American businesses to export goods to Colombia, Panama, and South Korea (I’ve linked the votes below):

Congress cleared legislation for U.S. free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that lawmakers said will boost U.S. exports by about $13 billion. The measures now go to the president.

“These free-trade agreements will give our economy a much- needed shot in the arm and create tens of thousands of American jobs,” Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who leads the Senate Finance Committee, said today in an e-mailed statement. “Passage of these agreements today is a significant victory for American workers and businesses, and will help create jobs here at home.”

China warns of a trade war as Senate Democrats push protectionist legislation

“When goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.” - Frédéric Bastiat

As the White House sends much needed free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea to the Congress, Senate Democrats are pushing a bill that China warns may very well spark a trade war:

An angry China warned Washington on Tuesday that passage of a bill aimed at forcing Beijing to let its currency rise could lead to a trade war between the world’s top two economies.

China’s central bank and the ministries of commerce and foreign affairs accused Washington of “politicising” currency issues and putting the global economy at risk after U.S. senators voted on Monday to start a week of debate on the bill.

The response suggested China sees a greater risk from the proposed bill than it has in the past when U.S. lawmakers attempted to put forward similar legislation to speed up the pace of appreciation in the yuan, or renminbi.
[…]
Tuesday’s coordinated salvo and the central bank’s warning of a trade war and a slowdown in China’s exchange rate reforms indicated Beijing was taking the latest currency bill more seriously.

“It is very rare for three different ministries of the country to refute something so quickly and strongly, showing how deeply the Chinese government is concerned about the yuan bill,” said Wang Zihong, a researcher at the China Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think tank.

“The strong responses made by the Chinese government may also suggest that the possibility would be quite high this time that the United States will pass the final bill in the end and that Beijing is worried about the possible negative impact on China’s exports resulting from the legislation,” he said.

Trade Wars: Return of the Protectionists

President Obama is reportedly finally ready to send trade deals with Panama, South Korea, and Columbia to Congress:

President Barack Obama said on Monday that the White House will have an announcement on the long-delayed trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress “in the next day or so.”

Passage of the South Korea pact before President Lee Myung-bak’s Oct. 13 state visit is a major goal, and a congressional source told the paper it would be “tough, but close.”

Committee hearings could begin as early as Wednesday, and Congress has 90 days to approve the deals.

As many supporters of free trade like to say, I oppose free trade deals because I support free trade. The “deal” in “free trade deal” is nothing more than a set of mutually agreeable government impediments to the free flow of goods and services. The Obama administration is making no secrets about the fact that these pacts do not constitute free trade:

Asked what the “hold up” has been in sending the trade bills to Congress, White House press secretary Jay Carney said in Monday’s press briefing that the administration prioritized ensuring the pacts were “balanced and fair,” and that it wanted to increase trade opportunities for Americans “but do it in a way that protected American workers and made sure that our obligations…were upheld.”

Is Mitt Romney trying to appeal to Trump backers on trade?

It looks like Mitt Romney is trying to appeal to the populist know-nothings that Donald Trump and Tax Hike Mike Huckabee were able to attract by suggesting that the United States should cut off trade with China:

On Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appeared to ratchet up the rhetoric beyond even that one-liner, suggesting that there was a basis for ending U.S. trade relations with China altogether.

“I’m not sure, whether the intellectual property you have is regularly being stolen by competition around the world, but in the case of China, for instance, we’ve sat idly by as they have stolen — year after year — intellectual property: Designs, patents and so forth,” Romney told a crowd member at a Mosiac Technology Business Roundtable in Salem, N.H. “And I don’t see how you can have a trade relationship, on an open basis, with another nation if they’re stealing a large part of what it is you sell.”


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