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Friday, November 30, 2018

Passing of George H. W. Bush

By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

President George Herbert Walker Bush passed away today.  He was a World War II Fighter Pilot, and truly loved this country.  I was not always a fan of his policies.  I recognized that Daddy Bush was a moderate, and a globalist.

Born in 1924, after serving as Vice President under President Ronald Reagan, Bush was elected to the House of Representatives in 1966.  He served as director of the CIA in 1976.  He was Vice President of the United States from 1981-1989.  He was elected President in 1988 and assumed office in January of 1989.  Bush completed Reagan's goal of ending the Cold War when the Soviet Union broke up during the first year of his term of office.

George Herbert Walk Bush died November 30, 2018, at the age of 94, the oldest of any former President of the United States.

His wife, Barbara Bush, died earlier in the year on April 17.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Christmas with the Constitution

Join us for the festivities Saturday Night, December 1. Check-in 5:00 pm, fun starts at 5:30 pm.  Saint Nicholas will be on the premises (and if you bring a kid, bring a gift for St. Nick to give the child).  Bring a wrapped gift for the White Elephant Game.  Bring some cash for the opportunity drawing, we are raffling off seven wrapped gifts, and one is worth $50 (literally).  Bring your appetite.  Food will be available.  I am bringing my grandma's cheese potatoes.  Bring a dish if you wish.  Coffee, Lemonade and water will be available too!!!  We will be next to the lake . . . Lake Village Clubhouse, 30151 Rancho Vista Road, Temecula.


Trump Arrives at G-20

By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

The more the world moves leftward, the more the economic outlook is darkening.  Globalism is on the move, and all of them are on board except for President Trump.  Global leftism, however, has created a challenging economic condition in the world.  The realization of economic difficulties on the horizon will be the focus of this year's G-20 meeting.

The G-20 Meeting is the gathering of the leaders of the countries with the largest economies.  This year's global meeting began today, in Buenos Aires.

South America's economies are creating violent reactions as the global economic game is losing ground, and growth is nearly gone.  The trade issues around the world, especially Trump's manhandling of China, will likely be discussed as well, along with Brexit.

In fact, the only place in the world where growth is booming in the United States.

The global depression being predicted by economists, however, has the leftists of the world once again embracing a Keynesian exit from it, which, as it did in the 1930s and 1940s, which in the end will, if you understand economics, expand and lengthen the time period the world suffers under such a retraction.

The G-20 leaders believe they need to act swiftly to prevent an economic crisis, as warns Christine Lagarde, International Monetary Fund chief.  But, their fix is based on the idea of bailouts, and borrowing more money in a hope they can prime the pump of the economy.

Legarde recently wrote, “We have had a good stretch of solid growth by historical standards, but now we are facing a period where significant risks are materializing and darker clouds are looming.”

Reduce taxes, reduce regulations, and embrace a policy of reducing government interference so that the market may takes its own course is what they should do.  That's what Trump and the Republicans did in the U.S.

The global socialists wouldn't understand that truth if it smacked them in the face.

G-20 members represent 85 percent of the global gross domestic product, two-thirds of the world’s population, and 75 percent of international trade.
It has been a difficult year for the host country Argentina, as it has been plagued by economic problems recently. The country has been preparing for this summit for almost two years. And Argentine President Mauricio Macri, the president of the summit, would like to play a personal role in ending the trade conflict between the United States and China. 
“[It’s] not clear [whether] he’s going to be able to insert himself in that, but he very much would like to play that role,” said Michael Matera, director and senior fellow of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The U.S. being criticized for challenging China is rich, isn't it?  Unfair policies against the United States are being ironed out and straightened out so that they are more fair, and we are being criticized for that?  None of these other countries would be willing to enter trade agreements with such disadvantages against them.  Why should we?

That said, manufacturing in the U.S. is increasing, and in a supply-side scenario, that is exactly what we need.

Before his departure for the G-20 summit, Trump said that his administration was very close to doing a deal with China.

“I think China wants to make a deal.  I’m open to making a deal.  But, frankly, I like the deal we have right now,” Trump said, adding that the United States has been benefiting from the “billions and billions of dollars” that is coming in the form of tariffs or taxes.

“I don’t know that I want to do it.”

Trump’s remarks were seen as a continuation of his administration’s tougher tone against China recently. The White House signaled earlier that if no deal was reached at the summit, new tariffs and measures against Beijing would kick in.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The End Is Near

By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

Russia, Russia, Russia.

Did Russia try to meddle in our 2016 Election?

When has Russia not tried to meddle in our elections?

The question has not been if Russia interfered with our elections as much as it has been a question of if Donald J. Trump was in cahoots with the Russians in the process.  The loss of Hillary Clinton was so shocking to the Democrats that they have been convinced that her loss had to have been caused by something other than the vote of the American People.  Voters, rationalized the Democrats, couldn't possibly want a system of liberty in place for over two hundred years over their offerings of more government, and more socialist-style policies.

So, the witch hunt began.

Karl Marx, Saul Alinsky, and a whole line of communists in history have this theory.  It runs right in line with Hitler's "Big Lie" idea.  If you want to pull off a giant lie, you need to make it so huge that people can't imagine anyone would like about something like that.  Make the lie so grand, so outrageous, and so massive that denial of its truth would seem foolhardy.

Usually, allegations of sexual misconduct work just fine.  However, with Trump, the attacks weren't working.

He was a billionaire playboy.  Of course there would be questions about that kind of thing.  The voters weren't buying the "he's a mysonginist" attacks, either.  Their response?

"We knew we weren't voting for an altar-boy, he got elected because of his red-blooded American policies."

Make America Great Again.

So, the Democrats had to attack that.  They had to convince you that Trump is lying about wanting to make America great again.  What better way than to accuse him of colluding with our historical enemy, Russia?

If he's a Russian sympathizer, that means he hates America.  Nobody likes people who conspire with enemies.

So, the Russia, Russia, Russia allegations began.

The Democrats rounded up all of their allies, especially in the media, and now, two years later, they have squat.  

The big news?  Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer and associate, lied about his work on a Trump Tower in Moscow being built (and it turns out the project was scrapped), which was totally separate from whether or not Trump was going to be a political candidate.  In other words, somebody lied, but it has nothing to do with the case.  So, does it really matter?

Robert Mueller's prosecutors have been chasing people, cornering them, using techniques to make them look like liars regarding petty crimes because the Democrats hate Donald Trump and think he's a threat to their socialist coup.  The petty crimes, by the way, have nothing to do with spying or Russia or anything else that threatens America.  It's an investigation looking for a crime.  They've got nothing because there is nothing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Temecula Constitution Class: Federal Supremacy

Wednesday, 6:00 pm
GOP Headquarters
28120 Jefferson Ave.
Temecula, CA

(in the Rosa's Cafe center at Jefferson and Del Rio, in the back next to the tattoo shop)

Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs



Lesson 11

Debt and Supremacy

            Prior Debt

Article VI begins with “All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.”

The first clause of Article VI legally transfers all debts and engagements under the Articles of Confederation into the new government.  This is not only the debts and engagements by the United States Government under the Articles of Confederation, but also includes all debts of each of the several States.  After ratification of the Constitution, each and every State would be debt free, and all debt would be held by the federal government.  This condition, according to the Constitution, would be the last time the States would legally be in debt.  In Article I, Section 10, the Constitution forbids the States from issuing bills of credit.

Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary, suggested that the United States should remain in perpetual debt.  Maintaining a perpetual debt, he explained, would be a mechanism that could assist in holding together the union, since States would be unlikely to secede when they are responsible for a part of the national debt.

Thomas Jefferson disagreed with Hamilton.  He recognized the necessity to maintain the ability to borrow, and the need for credit, but found a national debt to be a potentially dangerous proposition.

"Though much an enemy to the system of borrowing, yet I feel strongly the necessity of preserving the power to borrow. Without this, we might be overwhelmed by another nation, merely by the force of its credit." -- Thomas Jefferson to the Commissioners of the Treasury, 1788.

"I am anxious about everything which may affect our credit. My wish would be, to possess it in the highest degree, but to use it little. Were we without credit, we might be crushed by a nation of much inferior resources, but possessing higher credit." -- Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1788.

"Though I am an enemy to the using our credit but under absolute necessity, yet the possessing a good credit I consider as indispensable in the present system of carrying on war. The existence of a nation having no credit is always precarious." -- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1788.

"I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing. I now deny their power of making paper money or anything else a legal tender. I know that to pay all proper expenses within the year would, in case of war, be hard on us. But not so hard as ten wars instead of one. For wars could be reduced in that proportion; besides that the State governments would be free to lend their credit in borrowing quotas." -- Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1798.

"I sincerely believe... that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale." -- Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816.

If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their  currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks…will deprive the people of  all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” -- Thomas Jefferson in the debate over the Re-charter of the Bank Bill (1809)

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” -- Thomas Jefferson

… The modern theory of the perpetuation of debt has drenched the earth with blood, and crushed its inhabitants under burdens ever accumulating.” -- Thomas Jefferson



            The Supremacy Clause

Article VI, Clause 2: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood and misapplied clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the Supremacy Clause has been used in line with the concept of Federal Supremacy.  Federal Supremacy is a concept our first Chief Justice, John Jay, believed in.  During his stint on the Supreme Court Jay worked feverously to establish broader powers for the courts, and to transform the federal government into a national government.  He quit the Supreme Court after failing, pursuing an opportunity to be governor of New York.

Chief Justice John Marshall spent his 36 years on the Supreme Court attempting to establish, and expand federal supremacy, and largely succeeded.  Marshall is embraced by statists as the one to develop federal supremacy in his opinion of the Mcculloch v. Maryland case in 1819 where the Court invalidated a Maryland law that taxed all banks in the State, including a branch of Alexander Hamilton’s creation, the national Bank of the United States.  Marshall held that although none of the enumerated powers of Congress explicitly authorized the incorporation of the national bank, the Necessary and Proper Clause provided the basis for Congress's action.  Marshall concluded that "the government of the Union, though limited in its power, is supreme within its sphere of action."

During the 1930s, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Court invoked the Supremacy Clause to give the federal government broader national power.  The federal government cannot involuntarily be subjected to the laws of any state, they proclaimed, and is therefore supreme in all laws and actions.

The legally, and commonly, accepted definition, as a result of the courts and the persistence of, regarding the Supremacy Clause, is that all federal laws supersede all State laws.

The commonly understood definition of the Supremacy Clause is in error.  To understand the true meaning of this clause, one must pay close attention to the language used.

If the federal government has a law on the books, and the law was made under the authorities granted by the States in the United States Constitution, and a state, or city, passes a law that contradicts that constitutional federal law, the federal government’s law is supreme based on The Supremacy Clause.  However, if the federal law is unconstitutional because it was made outside constitutional authority, it is an illegal law, and therefore is not supreme over similar State laws.

An example of the federal government acting upon the assumption that all federal law is supreme over State law is when the medical marijuana laws emerged in California in 1996 after the passage of Proposition 215.  Though I do not necessarily agree with the legalization of the casual recreational use of marijuana, and believe “weed” should be heavily regulated like any other pharmaceutical drug if being used for medicinal purposes, the actual constitutional legality of the issue illustrates my point quite well.

California’s law legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes was contrary to all federal law that identified marijuana as being illegal in all applications.  Using the commonly accepted authority of the federal government based on their definition of the Supremacy Clause, federal agents began raiding and shutting down medical marijuana labs in California.  However, there is no place in the U.S. Constitution that gives the federal government the authority to regulate drugs, nor has there been an amendment passed to grant that authority to the federal government.  From a constitutional point of view, then, the raids on medical Marijuana labs in California were unconstitutional actions by the federal government.

The Supremacy Clause applies only to federal laws that are constitutionally authorized.  Therefore, federal drug laws are unconstitutional.  As a result, California's medical marijuana laws are constitutional because they are not contrary to any constitutionally authorized federal laws.

Language plays an important part in the Constitution, and The Supremacy Clause is no different.  The clause indicates that State laws cannot be contrary to constitutionally authorized federal laws.  For example, Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 states that it is the job of the U.S. Congress to establish an uniform rule of naturalization. The word "uniform" means that the rules for naturalization must apply to all immigrants, and to all states, in the same way.  If a state was to then pass a law that granted citizenship through the naturalization process in a way not consistent with federal law, the State would be guilty of violating the Supremacy Clause.

In the case of Arizona’s immigration law, S.B. 1070 in 2010, the argument by the federal government that Arizona’s law is contrary to federal law was an erroneous argument.  Assuming, for just a moment, that the federal government has complete authority over immigration (which is not true since immigration is one of those issues in which the federal government and the States have concurrent powers), Arizona's law would then need to be identical to federal law.  And in most ways, the Arizona law was similar to federal immigration law.  The only difference was that Arizona’s law disallowed racial profiling.

The federal government’s argument when the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on July 6, 2010, was that the law must be declared invalid because it interfered with the immigration regulations exclusively vested in the federal government.  Therefore, a State cannot enforce immigrations laws if the federal government decides not to, nor can a State pass law regarding an issue that the federal government has sole authority over.  In this way, Arizona was considered to be acting “contrary” to the federal government.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 1, and Article I, Section 10 in the final clause, provides that States hold concurrent authorities regarding immigration, and securing the border.  Therefore, the federal government’s argument that they held sole authority over the issue was in error.

Eric Holder, when he filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court also acted unconstitutionally because in Article III, Section 2, the Constitution states that all cases “in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction.  Since the case was the United States v. Arizona, the case, constitutionally, could only be filed with the United States Supreme Court.

The language in Article VI, Clause 2 reveals clearly that only laws made under the authorities granted to the federal government have supremacy.  Article VI, Clause 2 reads, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The clause establishes three things as being potentially the supreme law of the land.  First, “This Constitution.”  Second, “Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof.”  And Third, all Treaties made, or which shall be made.”

“This Constitution” is the supreme law of the land.  Understanding that first part of the clause is easy.

The second one has a condition attached to it.  Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof.”

In pursuance thereof?  In pursuance of what?

Of “This Constitution.”

Therefore, if a law is not made “in pursuance” of “This Constitution,” then the law is an illegal law, and cannot possibly be the supreme law of the land.  Unconstitutional laws are not the supreme law of the land, which reveals that all federal laws are not the supreme law of the land.  Illegal law made outside the authorities granted by the Constitution of the United States cannot legally be the supreme law of the land.

After “pursuance thereof” in the clause, a semicolon is used.  The semicolon separates “Treaties” from the “Laws of the United States.”  The separation by the semicolon means that “in pursuance thereof” applies to “Laws of the United States,” but not to “Treaties.”  This means that treaties not in line with the principles of the Constitution can be accepted as the supreme law of the land.

The concern over treaties was not great, because the Senate was the voice of the States, and the States are the final arbiters of the Constitution.  If the States are willing to ratify what would be considered an unconstitutional treaty, they must be given the chance.  Therefore, “in pursuance thereof” does not apply to treaties.

The importance of this part of the Supremacy Clause revealed itself during Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  As discussed in Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, the federal government does not have the authority to buy or own land unless it is purchased from a State, by the consent of the State legislature, for the purpose of needful buildings.  The details of the Louisiana Purchase did not fit Article I, Section 8, Clause 17’s requirement.  To get around that, President Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with France through treaties.  Since treaties were ratified by the States through the Senate, it kept the States involved in the process, and made the purchase the law of the land even though technically it was not constitutional.

            Oath or Affirmation to Support This Constitution

Article VI, Clause 3 indicates that all elected officials are bound to support the Constitution by oath or affirmation.  An oath is to God, and an affirmation is not a sworn oath to God.  This was offered because the Founding Fathers recognized that not everyone believed in God, and that there were some religions that believed swearing to God to be a sin.

The final clause of Article VI also states that there shall be no religious test to serve.  This was not the case inside the States.  This was a provision only required of the federal government.  At the State level, established churches, and religious tests were the norm.  The Danbury Baptists in Connecticut appealed to President Jefferson because they felt they were being mistreated by the Puritans.  The Baptists felt they were being treated like second class citizens in a State dominated by the Puritan Church.  Jefferson replied that the federal government could not help them.  It was a State issue.

Alexis de Tocqueville observed when he visited the United Sates in the 1830s that religious freedom had truly come to The States.  In America, the politicians prayed, and the pastors preached politics, yet neither controlled the other.  He concluded America’s greatness was a result of the good in America, coining the term American Exceptionalism.

Terms:
Concurrent Powers – Government powers shared by the State and the federal government.

Exceptionalism - The condition of being exceptional or unique; the theory or belief that something, especially a nation, does not conform to a pattern or norm.

National Bank - In the United States, a bank chartered by the federal government authorized to issue notes that serve as currency; a bank owned and administered by the government, as in some European countries.

Oath - A solemn sworn declaration, or promise, to a deity (God), to fulfill a pledge.

Supremacy Clause - Clause in the Constitution that indicates that all federal laws, and treaties, passed under the authorities granted by the Constitution, are the Supreme Law of the Land

Questions for Discussion:
1.  What was the common opinion by the Founding Fathers regarding a perpetual national debt?

2.  What limitations on national debt did the Framers of the United States Constitution consider?

3.  It is a common belief in today’s society that all federal laws are supreme to all State and municipal laws.  Why is this belief wrong?

4.  How does the Supremacy Clause enable Nullification?

5.  Why does the Constitution offer the opportunity for both oaths, and affirmations?

Resources:
John Taylor, New Views of the Constitution of the United States; Washington City: By Way and Gideon
(1823)

Joseph Andrews, A Guide for Learning and Teaching The Declaration of Independence and The U.S.
Constitution - Learning from the Original Texts Using Classical Learning Methods of the Founders; San Marcos: The Center for Teaching the Constitution (2010).

Madison’s Notes Constitutional Convention, Avalon Project, Yale
University: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/debcont.asp

Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, The Founder’s Constitution –
Volume Four – Article I I, Section 8, Clause 5 to Article VII; Indianapolis: Liberty Fund (1987)

Sam Cornell, The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the
Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828; Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press (1999)

Copyright: Douglas V. Gibbs, 2015



Mississippi Special Election: Republican Hyde-Smith

By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

Finally, most of the November 6 Mid-Term Election is behind us.  In Southern California, we are still counting ballots, and the more we count, the more the Democrat leads increase.  California lost most of any of the GOP influence there might have been, losing Orange County completely.  Riverside County, where I live, is the most conservative county, now, voting Republican across the board, but our demographics are changing, and in Orange County a Democrat pointed and said, "Riverside County is next."

The coordinated effort to drive out all opposition in California is almost complete.

Fortunately, the rest of the country is not politically anything like California (except maybe Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts).  In places like Oregon, aside from maybe Portland and its neighboring regions, a spark of conservatism still shines.  Washington State is pretty conservative except for the Seattle area.  Nevada nearly voted in a few Republicans.  Fly-over country is as red as a beating heart.

In Mississippi a special election for a U.S. Senate seat was in play, and the appointed Republican, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, gets to hold the seat for two more years until its regular election comes up in 2020.

Hyde-Smith had 54 percent of the vote to Espy’s 46 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting.  This makes the Senate a decently comfortable GOP majority of 53-47.  Hyde-Smith is the first woman elected to represent Mississippi in the Senate.

Now, it's time to start getting all of these judges confirmed.

A former Democrat, some are calling Hyde-Smith a moderate, but her support of Trump (and appreciation of Trump for his support during the campaign, he appeared at two rallies in the State) was unwavering.  She sounds and votes pretty conservative, but we'll have to keep an eye on her voting record, just in case.

“This win tonight, this victory, it's about our conservative values,” Hyde-Smith said. “It's about the things that mean the most to all of us Mississippians: our faith, our family."

Hyde-Smith told reporters after her speech that she spoke to Trump shortly after the race was called, and said he told her she had “been through a storm and you’ve survived it.” She said she had apologized for her controversial comments [public hanging comment that the Democrats jumped all over, claiming it hearkened back to the South's history of lynching] and planned to move on and look forward.

Asked if anything she had endured during the campaign would prevent her from running for a full term in 2020, she said, "absolutely not."

"This is not for the faint of heart and I'm certainly not the faint of heart," Hyde-Smith said.

Mississippi Democrats believe the race was closer than many expected, and it shows a potential for building more Democrat runs for office in the future.  A Democratic Strategist on television last night pointed out that Mississippi is about 60% white, and 40% black, and the party lines follow the racial lines.  Mississippi has been voting only Republican Senators into office since 1982.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Reminders ...

Tuesday Constitution Class: No Class Tonight.

Saturday Constitution Association Monthly Meeting (see flyer below) at 5:00 pm.

Saturday Corona Tea Party, I will be the speaker, 9:00 am at Marie Callender's, 190 S. Rincon, Corona.

Saturday Radio Program: We have a $780 shortfall to fund the show for December through February.  If you can help, hit the donate button below.  Listen to the program on Saturday from 1-3 pm.







Chinese Shadow of Communism Hovers Over Europe

Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

China learned from the Soviet Union's collapse.  The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics could not spread communism around the world with military threats and strong-arm tactics, so the Chinese Communists have decided to do it economically.

Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, president of the People's Republic of China, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, is paying a visit to Portugal and Spain, with a plan to spread China’s geopolitical goals well beyond their immediate sphere of influence.

The Chinese call their imperialist expansion the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a project designed to build international clout for China as it seeks to establish global trade routes and set up investments that benefit its interests.

Southeast Asia and some South Pacific islands have already experienced China's tentacles weaving in and out of their economies through China-financed OBOR infrastructure projects which have recently come under scrutiny for burdening countries with enormous debts.

Now, China is reaching a little farther, beyond the confines of Asia, and over and beyond the mess they also have a hand in in the Middle East.  Now, China has set its sights on Europe.  Some European countries recognize the danger, and grow increasingly wary of Chinese acquisitions in critical industries such as tech and auto manufacturing.  Therefore, China is pushing for economic ties with countries with a smaller footprint, such as Portugal and Spain, where there is a perceived need for partnership, and already a burgeoning socialistic attitude already in place.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping plans to visit Spain from November 27 to 29, and Portugal on December 4 and 5, according to Chinese state-run media Xinhua.  The aim is to sign joint agreements aimed at exploring third-party markets in Spain, and applying programs to “boost cooperation” in a variety of sectors such as science and tech, water conservancy, energy, infrastructure, and finance, in Portugal.

As China aggressively pushes for the two European countries to sign onto OBOR, the reality is that it is all a part of an agenda targeting countries like Spain and Portugal, not only to gain access to sensitive technology developed by these countries’ private sectors, but also to use economic deals to win political support, and move them closer to the death embrace of communism.

Portugal is already feeling a little bit of an obligation to work with China since in 2008, while in the midst of a financial crisis, China swooped in to help Portugal.  Direct foreign investment from China grew from zero before 2010, to 5.7 billion euros ($6.45 billion) in 2016, according to a December 2017 report by the European think tank Network on China, a consortium of research institutes in different European countries.

Today, Chinese firms own 25 percent of Portugal’s national grid, 27 percent of its largest listed bank, and all of its largest insurer and private hospitals operator, according to Reuters.
A number of major deals related to renewable energy technology, including Chinese state-owned hydropower giant China Three Gorges Corporation’s (CTG) acquisition of Energias de Portugal (EDP) in 2011, “granted CTG access to state-of-the-art knowledge and expertise in the field,” the report said.
CTG’s purchase of one of Portugal’s largest energy operators enabled the former to expand into global markets in Africa, South America, and the United States. For example, through the partnership with EDP, CTG acquired eight hydropower stations in Brazil, making it the second-largest private energy producer in Brazil.

In other words, China is buying the world, rather than militarily taking it over.

These moves also gives China a stronger position in the world of trade, not only as a trading partner, but by focusing their attention on maritime research and port logistics.

China is eyeing an opportunity to develop Portugal’s port of Sines as part of its OBOR initiative of creating new maritime trade routes. In a 2017 document, Beijing had called for developing three new sea passages to boost China’s trade.

European authorities have raised concerns that these companies may be allowing Chinese goods to illegally skirt import duties—as in the case of an ongoing investigation into the Chinese-owned port of Piraeus in Greece (yet another struggling economy desperate for help from the Chinese).

Nonetheless, economically struggling countries like Portugal (and Greece, and Spain) are welcoming Chinese investments. 
According to the European think tank report, investments in Spain are still relatively small by volume. But they have grown exponentially as in Portugal, from less than 10 million euros (about $11.4 million) per year before 2012, to more than 1.6 billion euros in 2016, according to research by Rhodium Group. 
But in 2016, Chinese firms—one of them state-owned—made two big acquisitions into Spanish engineering firms Aritex and Eptisa, indicating Beijing’s desire to acquire high-tech. Aritex focuses on aeronautics, autos, and renewable energy, while Eptisa has projects in IT and transportation infrastructure: all fields that Beijing has listed as a priority for development in the “Made in China 2025” blueprint for China to become a tech manufacturing powerhouse.

In June 2017, China’s state-owned shipping company COSCO bought majority stakes in Noatum Port Holdings, the operator of two container terminals in the ports of Valencia and Bilbao, illustrating Beijing’s hopes to pull Spain into its OBOR paradigm. Noatum is Spain’s largest maritime terminal operator.

The leadership in Spain is happy to work with China.  The populace, not so much.  A 2015 poll conducted by the Elcano Royal Institute think tank found that most Spaniards perceived Chinese investment negatively. When respondents were asked, “Which countries would you like to see invest more or less?”, China received the worst assessment of all countries, with 24 percent wanting less investment. By comparison, 6 percent said they wanted less investment from Germany, with 48 percent saying they wanted more.

Recognizing the potential danger of Communist China poking its nose into European economics, the European Union reached a consensus on investment screening rules that would apply to all EU member states if approved. The move was aimed at countering deals that would pose national security risks. The new rules could potentially hurt China’s investment plans in Europe.

The game, however, is not what it seems on the surface.  Money buys power, and power buys allies.  This is all about spreading communism, and gaining willful allies from countries that would normally be critical of Beijing’s antics.

Ultimately, while the Soviet Union was playing checkers with their power-driven style of spreading communism, China has figured out how to play chess, taking advantage of the growing international connectivity, while using the needs of the less powerful countries to further the interests of the communist state.

In short, to spread their communist empire the Chinese are not wielding military might as the Soviet Union did.  Instead, the weapon of choice for the Chinese is a bank account, technology, and a briefcase.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Monday, November 26, 2018

Welcome to Mars, InSight Makes Landing

By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

I am sort of a little bit of a science geek.  The planets of our solar system, and what may lie beyond, have always been fascinating to me.  I am an avid science fiction reader, and I love the show MARS on National Geographic channel.  With that in mind, I've been following our latest Mars exploits here in the present day with much enthusiasm.  That all said, I am happy to report that another Mars mission has successfully landed on the Red Planet.

The thing about Mars is that it takes a while to get there (this trip was about seven months) and every thing has to go perfect.  One error, and the landing becomes nothing but a bunch of scrap metal lying on the red sand.  Mars, for example, has only 1% of Earth's atmosphere, so there's nothing to slow down something trying to land on the surface.  Landings require a lot of reverse thrusting, parachutes, usually a bouncy bouncy balloon-laden landing, and in InSight's case, strong legs to finally rest upon.  The engineers prepared the spacecraft to land during a dust storm if need be.

The latest NASA mars mission is called "InSight," and the landing was performed beautifully, and the vehicle landed safely on the surface of our neighboring planet.  This mission, however, is like none other we've attempted.  Rather than study the surface of the planet, the InSight mission is all about studying the planet's deep interior.  The mission will last about two years investigating what is underneath the surface, and perhaps give us a glimpse of the planet's building blocks, and perhaps even a slight peep at Mars' history.

MarCO, two orbiting spacecraft about the size of a suitcase, are satellites that will help convey the messages sent from InSight.  These orbiting craft are also the eyes in the sky for NASA in relation to this mission from above the surface of Mars.

"We've studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry," said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system."

Science Magazine reports:
Although hurdles remain to achieve operating status, the lander is well positioned to begin to take Mars’s heartbeat in the next few months. 
“It was intense, and you could feel the emotion,” says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in Washington, D.C. 
NASA was able to quickly confirm the landing thanks to a flawless performance by two tiny satellites that accompanied the lander. These CubeSats caught and relayed InSight’s signal to Earth, along with a bonus: a first picture of the terrain where the lander will place its two instruments.
When landing, there is a window where Earth has no control, nor any contact, with the interplanetary vehicle.  The spacecraft must be programmed ahead of time to take care of the maneuvers itself, and if any of the timing is off, the whole mission could be lost.  InSight robotically guided itself through the landing, outside of a few last minute tweaks by the entry, descent and landing team to the algorithm that guides the lander to the surface.
The landing itself is a tricky maneuver. NASA engineers don't call it "seven minutes of terror" for nothing. In less time than it takes to hard-boil an egg, InSight slowed from 12,300 mph to 5 mph before it gently landed on the surface of Mars, according to NASA. 
"While most of the country was enjoying Thanksgiving with their family and friends, the InSight team was busy making the final preparations for Monday's landing," said Tom Hoffman of JPL, InSight's project manager. "Landing on Mars is difficult and takes a lot of personal sacrifices, such as missing the traditional Thanksgiving, but making InSight successful is well worth the extraordinary effort."
Getting to, and landing on, Mars is such a difficult endeavor that only 40% of missions sent to the Red Planet by any agency have been successful.  

Now that the craft has landed, it will be two or three months before all of the equipment, including the spacecrafts's solar arrays, are in place for the next part of the mission.  As all of that is going on, mission scientists will photograph what can be seen from the lander's perspective and monitor the environment. Science data isn't expected until March.

The landing sight was Elysium Planitia, called "the biggest parking lot on Mars" by astronomers. Because it won't be roving over the surface, the landing site was an important determination. This spot is open, flat safe and boring, which is what the scientists want for a stationary two-year mission.  The location is also along the Martian equator, bright and warm enough to power the lander's solar array year-round.

Once the mission gets going we will have a chance to learn about Mars' internal activity like seismology and the planet's wobble as the sun and its moons tug on Mars.

"Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands," said Lori Glaze of NASA. "Once InSight is settled on the Red Planet and its instruments are deployed, it will start collecting valuable information about the structure of Mars' deep interior — information that will help us understand the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including the one we call home."

Among the hopes connected to this mission is that evidence for water on Mars is found, and perhaps even some form of life, no matter how rudimentary.

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