Who Will Really Pay? Mexico Plans Retaliation Over Trump’s Border Wall But Ted Cruz Has A Cunning Plan

As President Trump appears to fold on his funding request for a border wall, though tweet-xclaiming “it will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.,” a top Mexican official on Tuesday said that Mexico may consider charging a fee for Americans entering the country in what could be seen as a retaliation to President Trump’s posturing.

Trump has asked congress to include a down payment on the wall in the spending bill but because of scrutiny from both sides, the President announced Monday that he’d be willing to wait until September to revisit the issue of funding; however, his stance on Mexico’s role in paying for the wall hasn’t changed. And as Fox News reports, Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, in a meeting with Mexico’s top legislators, called Trump’s plan an “unfriendly, hostile” act, and called on his colleagues to consider the entry fee.

“We could explore – not necessarily a visa, that could impede a lot of people from coming to Mexico – but we could perhaps (have) a fee associated with entry,” Videgaray said. “This is something that I’m sure will be part of our discussion, and I believe we can find points of agreement.”

Videgaray went on to say that Mexico would not pay a cent towards the wall. He said if talks between the U.S. and Mexico fail to satisfy both countries, the Mexican government would consider reducing security cooperation.

“If the negotiation on other themes — immigration, the border, trade — isn’t satisfactory to Mexico’s interests, we will have to review our existing cooperation,” Videgaray said. “This would be especially in the security areas … and that involves the national immigration agency, the federal police and of course, the armed forces.”

So, trade deficits, tax plans, and budget decisions aside, who will really pay for the wall? American tourists via a transfer tax on entry to Mexico? Well Ted Cruz has an even more cunning plan. As RT reports, President Donald Trump’s much vaunted Mexican border wall could be built using the fortune of a notorious drug kingpin, according to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who has proposed the ‘El Chapo Act’.

Cruz, a one time political rival to Trump, has backed the president’s desire to build a 1,000 mile-long (1600km) barrier between the US and Mexico.

Cruz has now gone a step further by proposing the so-called ‘El Chapo Act’, or the Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order, which would use any of the $14 billion being sought by the US government in a case against Mexican drug boss Joaquín Guzmán, to construct the barrier.

The US indictment alleges the 59-year-old, who was previously given a 20-year sentence in his homeland for murder and drug offences, led the violent Sinaloa Cartel and amassed “$14 billion from narcotics sales throughout the United States and Canada.”

“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border,” Cruz said in a statement.

“Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities. We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget. By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”

Now that is a border wall funding plan we suspect many could get behind.

Why We Have A 2nd Amendment: Venezuela Plans To Give Firearms To Loyalists To Purge Growing Resistance

Authored by Daniel Lang via SHTFplan.com,

After enduring shortages of food and medicine for years, as well as a total collapse of their currency, the people of Venezuela have had enough. Last week it was estimated that 2.5 million people marched against the Maduro regime, which had previously tried to strip away the powers of the opposition-led parliament. It’s estimated that as many as 6 million people may have taken to the streets to protest throughout the country.

In the lead-up to the protest, which had been planned for weeks by opposition political parties, President Maduro issued an alarming proclamation that didn’t receive nearly enough press. He promised to expand the nation’s armed militia, and hand out firearms to as many as 400,000 loyalists.

The Bolivarian militias, currently at approximately 100,000, were created by the late Hugo Chavez to assist the armed forces in the defense of his revolution from external and domestic attacks.

Speaking to thousands of militia members dressed in beige uniforms gathered in front of the presidential palace, Maduro said that vision remains relevant as Venezuela continues to face “imperialist aggression.”

“A gun for every militiaman!” he cried.

If you know your history of communist regimes, you understand what comes next. Maduro’s response to millions of hungry pissed off people, is to arm his die-hard supporters, who will be able to purge the starving masses that dared to cross him. They may not face much resistance, because in 2012 Venezuela banned private firearm ownership.

Venezuela has brought a new gun law into effect which bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition.

Until now, anyone with a gun permit could buy arms from a private company.

Under the new law, only the army, police and certain groups like security companies will be able to buy arms from the state-owned weapons manufacturer and importer.

The ban is the latest attempt by the government to improve security and cut crime ahead of elections in October

Venezuela saw more than 18,000 murders last year and the capital, Caracas, is thought to be one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America.

Do you see how that works? Maduro’s socialist policies turned that country into a crime-ridden hell hole, (and eventually turned their capital city into the most violent in the world). Instead of abandoning their centrally planned economy, which would bring prosperity to all and lower the crime rate, Maduro took away everyone’s guns. Now that his socialist policies are bringing Venezuela’s population to brink of starvation and revolution, he decides to arm his violent and dimwitted loyalists. He has set up the perfect conditions for a genocidal purge of everyone who opposes him.

I’d say that this would be a fine lesson for any would-be socialists in this country, but they don’t seem eager to learn. Neither did many Venezuelans, who elected these control freaks nearly two decades ago. They could have looked at any socialist experiment from the 20th century, and realized that it always leads to starvation and mass murder. Instead they let themselves be conned by what is now the oldest and most deadly political trick in the book.

Dilbert Creator Reflects On President Trump’s First 100 Days

Authored by Scott Adams via Blog.Dilbert.com,

Everyone observing politics seems to agree on two things about a president’s first 100 days in office:

1. 100 days is a meaningless, arbitrary marker for a president’s performance that is likely to be more misleading than useful.

and…

2. Let’s treat it like it is important! Reeeeeeee!

The thing that fascinates me the most about this situation is that the so-called “pro-science” people are giving Trump low grades for his first 100 days.

Allow me to connect some dots.

In science, you don’t have much of an experiment unless you have a control case for comparison. For example, you can’t know if a drug helped with a particular disease unless you study the people who didn’t take the drug at the same time as those who did.

But the pro-science people forget this concept when thinking about politics. Where is the control case for Trump’s first 100 days?

Is it George Washington’s first 100 days?

Is it Jimmy Carter’s first 100 days?

And which prior president came to office in 2017 with identical problems and the most polarized political environment in history?

And just how long is it supposed to take to revise Obamacare? Do we compare it to the time Abe Lincoln repealed and replaced Obamacare? Or how about the time those other presidents repealed and replaced Obamacare in the year 2017? 

I saw an article in Politico that is too dumb to link to, saying it is objectively true that Trump has had a bad first 100 days. This is a perfect example of what I call the “two movies on one screen effect.”

I’m almost certain that many Trump supporters would say these facts are objectively true too:

Economic confidence is up.

Trump signed a bunch of executive orders. You might not like them, but that’s more about you, not about his job performance.

China is putting the screws on North Korea (finally)

Trump erased the “puppet of Putin” charge by prudent application of Tomahawk missiles. That’s an accomplishment, even if you don’t like it.

Trump erased the “Trump is Hitler” hallucination that the Clinton side spray-painted onto him during the election. (That’s a big deal.)

Trump got a qualified Supreme Court judge, albeit the hard way.

Healthcare is moving along briskly from the first plan that was terrible to something that is approaching feasible. That’s progress, not failure.

Tax reform will probably be slower than we want, but most observers expect something good to come of it.

International relations look fine. The only awkward relationship is with Putin, and that’s the awkward relationship Trump’s detractors want.

Illegal immigration is way down because of Trump’s persuasion.

Now let’s look at the things President Trump did wrong in his first 100 days:

You can criticize Trump’s actions against women’s reproductive rights, both on the topic of Planned Parenthood funding and his Supreme Court pick. But calling those things failures or successes depends on your political views, not on Trump’s job performance.

I think you could make an objective case against Trump for putting economics above the environment. But you’d have to ignore the fact that a stronger economy almost always puts you in a better position to keep the environment clean. (Trump says that.) You don’t see clean air and water in poor countries.

President Trump reversed a bunch of campaign statements from impractical positions to more practical ones. Is that failure?

President Trump said a bunch of things that did not pass the fact-checking, surprising literally no one. And as usual, none of it mattered in any way except that it made us focus on whatever topic he wanted us to focus on.

President Trump’s staff and advisors are reportedly doing a lot of in-fighting for influence. But that sounds more like a healthy situation than a Trump-is-dictator situation. It would be worse if there were no differences of opinion in the group.

President Trump has been slow to fill lots of government positions. But has any of that mattered to your life? I haven’t noticed, personally. Was the Secretary of Whatever supposed to come over and mow my lawn?

President Trump did not release his tax returns, so we imagine there are problems there.

President Trump incorrectly claimed that his staff had been “wiretapped.” It turns out that they were only legally surveilled in an indirect way. Which only sounds different to his critics.

Generally speaking, the criticisms of President Trump’s first 100 days (and in general) are based on imaginary stuff:

Imagined problems on his tax returns.

Imagined blackmail by Russia.

Imagined poor performance based on imagining a control case of another imaginary president doing the same job at the same time, but doing it faster.

Imaginary belief that doing things you prefer he not do is similar to not being competent.

Imagined staff problems that are bigger than they are.

Imagined nuclear holocaust that happens because of Trump’s imaginary insanity.

Imagined problems caused by his ignoring of facts that don’t matter.

Imagined future climate calamity. (They could be right, but for now it is imaginary because complex models have a bad track record.)

Republicans Consider New Obamacare Vote On Friday

Just an hour after Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows publicly announced that his conservative wing of the Republican party will now support a revised Obamacare replacement bill which incorporates the so-called MacArthur Amendment, Axios, quoting Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, is reporting that a new vote could be called for as early as this Friday.

A Friday health care vote isn’t “outside the realm,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker told Axios, adding that people are discussing a Friday vote and things are “even trending that direction.”

“Most of them like what they see, so we’re considering to grow the vote, and when we’re ready, we’ll move,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

As we noted previously, the “MacArthur Amendment” (summarized here)
effectively allows individual states to ‘opt out’ of certain Obamacare regulations which require minimum coverage and restrict the ability to insurers to charge varying rates based on an individual’s health.

Healthcare

 

And here is the official statement released by the Freedom Caucus earlier:

“Over the past couple of months, House conservatives have worked tirelessly to improve the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to make it better for the American people. Due to improvements to the AHCA and the addition of Rep. Tom MacArthur’s proposed amendment, the House Freedom Caucus has taken an official position in support of the current proposal.

The MacArthur amendment will grant states the ability to repeal cost driving aspects of Obamacare left in place under the original AHCA.  While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs. We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to improve the bill. Our work will continue until we fully repeal Obamacare.”

Mission statement of the House Freedom Caucus:

“The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety, and prosperity of all Americans.”

Of course, only time will tell if appealing to the more conservative wing of the Republican party will now result in defections of more centrist votes within the party as we noted before that some 50 moderate Republicans are still uncertain or oppose the latest plan.

Of course, given that the previous healthcare vote resulted in a complete embarrassment for the new Trump administration we’re certain Paul Ryan will want to make absolutely sure he has the required votes before the process begins.

As John Boehnor said best, “Republicans have never, ever, not once agreed on what a healthcare bill should look like.”

Freedom Caucus Confirms Support For Revised Obamacare Replacement Bill

Moments ago the House Freedom Caucus announced their support for a revised version of an Obamacare replacement bill that includes the so-called “MacArthur Amendment.”  Here is the official statement from Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows:

“Over the past couple of months, House conservatives have worked tirelessly to improve the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to make it better for the American people. Due to improvements to the AHCA and the addition of Rep. Tom MacArthur’s proposed amendment, the House Freedom Caucus has taken an official position in support of the current proposal.

The MacArthur amendment will grant states the ability to repeal cost driving aspects of Obamacare left in place under the original AHCA.  While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs. We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to improve the bill. Our work will continue until we fully repeal Obamacare.”

Mission statement of the House Freedom Caucus:

“The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety, and prosperity of all Americans.”

NEWS: Freedom Caucus announces support for AHCA with Rep. MacArthur’s amendment included. Statement: https://meadows.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/house-freedom-caucus-announces-support-for-house-ahca-bill-with 

House Freedom Caucus Announces Support for House AHCA Bill with MacArthur Amendment

  Washington, D.C. — The House Freedom Caucus released the following statement on the American Health Care Act:”Over the past couple of months, House conservatives have worked tirelessly to improve…

meadows.house.gov

 

As we noted previously, the “MacArthur Amendment” (summarized here) effectively allows individual states to ‘opt out’ of certain Obamacare regulations which require minimum coverage and restrict the ability to insurers to charge varying rates based on an individual’s health.

Of course, only time will tell if appealing to the more conservative wing of the Republican party will now result in defections of more centrist votes with the Associated Press noting that some 50 moderate Republicans are still uncertain or oppose the latest plan.

As John Boehnor said best, “Republicans have never, ever, not once agreed on what a healthcare bill should look like.”

Emmanuel Clinton Versus Marine LeTrump

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

Here’s the body count in the latest geopolitical earthquake afflicting the West: The Socialist Party in France is dead. The traditional Right is comatose. What used to be the Extreme Left is alive, and still kicking.

Yet what’s supposed to be the shock of the new is not exactly a shock. The more things veer towards change (we can believe in), the more they stay the same. Enter the new normal: the recycled “system” – as in Emmanuel Macron — versus “the people” — as in the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, battling for the French presidency on May 7.

Although that was the expected outcome, it’s still significant. Le Pen, re-christened “Marine”, reached the second round of voting despite a mediocre campaign.

She essentially reassembled — but did not expand — her voting base. I have argued on Asia Times that Macron is nothing but an artificial product, a meticulously packaged hologram designed to sell an illusion.

Only the terminally naïve may believe Macron incarnates change when he’s the candidate of the EU, NATO, the financial markets, the Clinton-Obama machine, the French establishment, assorted business oligarchs and the top six French media groups.

As for the stupidity of the Blairite Left, it’s now in a class by itself.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the domesticated hard-left of Insubordinate France, managed to equal the Catholic Right François Fillon in the final stretch. Yet the vapid PS candidate, Benoit Hamon, stole Mélenchon’s shot at hitting the second round.

As for Marine, she lost almost four points in the final tally. With one extra week of campaigning Fillon, despite Penelopegate, could have been equal with Marine.

Marine has only one extremely long shot on May 7. She will be frantically touring “deep France” to turn the second round into a debate on French identity and a clash of nationalists, patriots and sovereignists against pro-EU globalists and urban “liquid modernity” practitioners.

So what do they want?

Frontists are ready to rip Emmanuel Clinton’s neoliberal program to pieces, which will play very well in rural France and may even yield a few disgruntled Mélenchon votes.

Unlike Fillon and Hamon, he has not gone public calling his supporters to vote Macron. Disgruntled Fillon voters may also be inclined to switch to Marine — considering Fillon was viscerally opposed to someone he described as “Emmanuel Hollande.”

A quick look at the promises is in order. In a nutshell; Marine proffers a social model that “favors the French people;” Macron offers vague, “profound reforms.”

Macron’s plan to save 60 billion euros of public funds implies firing 120,000 functionaries; that is a certified recipe to a “see you in the barricades” scenario.

Marine only says she wants to reduce the public deficit — aiming at reducing state medical aid, the French contribution to the EU, and fiscal fraud.

Neither wants to raise the minimum wage and VAT. Both want to reduce the tax burden on companies and both want to fight the “Uberization” of work, favoring French companies (Marine) and European companies (Macron).

Marine’s absolute priority is to reduce social aid to foreigners and restitute “buying power” especially to pensioners and low-income workers. She’s vague about unemployment.

Macron’s “profound reforms” are centered on unemployment insurance and pensions. He’s keen on a universal unemployment protection managed by the state. Everyone would be covered, including in the case of being fired. Marine and Macron coincide on one point; better reimbursement of costly health benefits.

Europe is at the heart of the Marine vs Macron fight; that’s Frexit against a “new European project.”

Everyone in Brussels “voted” Macron  as he proposes a budget for the eurozone, a dedicated Parliament, and a dedicated Minister of Finance. In short; Brussels on steroids.

Marine’s Frexit should be decided via a referendum — a direct consequence of the frontist obsession with immigration. Marine wants to reduce legal admission of immigrants to 10,000 people a year (it’s currently 200,000), tax employment of foreign workers, and suppress social aid. In contrast, pro-immigration Macron aims at what he calls an open France, “faithful to its values.”

On foreign policy, it’s all about Russia. Marine wants a “strategic realignment” with Moscow especially to fight Salafi-jihadi terror.

Macron — reflecting a French establishment as Russophobic as in the US — is against it, although he concedes that Europe must come to terms with Russia even as he defends the current sanctions.

About that Wall of Cash

If the coming, epic clash could be defined by just one issue that would be the unlimited power of the Wall of Cash.

Macron subscribes to the view that public debt and expenses on public service are the only factors responsible for French debt, so one must have “political courage” to promote reforms.

Sociologist Benjamin Lemoine is one of the few who’s publicly debating what’s really behind it — the interest of financiers to preserve the value of the debt they hold and their aversion to any negotiation.

Because they control the narrative, they are able to equate “political risk” —  be it Marine or Mélenchon — with the risk to their own privileged positions.

The real issue at stake in France — and across most of the West — revolves around the conflicting interests of financial masters and citizens attached to public service and social justice.

The coming clash between Emmanuel Clinton and Marine LeTrump won’t even begin to scratch the surface.