Kim Jong Un's Nuclear Selfies
40 minutes. That’s how long New Yorkers would have before a nuclear missile from North Korea detonated. Hundreds of thousands dead in a matter of seconds. Thermal radiation would then spread past Yonkers in the north, and as far south as Staten Island. A large portion of New York City --- the greatest city in the world --- effectively wiped off the map.
On Sunday, North Korea claimed to have this capability. As we were packing up minivans and setting out on Labor Day weekend road trips, Kim Jong Un was taking selfies next to a miniaturized nuclear warhead. A poster display could be seen in the background, showing the warhead neatly inside the tip of an ICBM.
Hours later, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake was felt as far away as China. Windows rattled in buildings on the Chinese border. It was not only North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, it was the most powerful and significant one so far.
For years, the entire world underestimated North Korea’s nuclear program. Today, it’s accelerating at a frightening rate. The power of the bomb tested on Sunday far surpassed that of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Make no mistake, this bomb was a city-killer. That’s the power Kim Jong Un appears to now wield.
So what’s next? Could it be an oil embargo? This is what brought Kim Jong Un’s father to the table back in the 90s. But will it work for the son? Or might he consider an oil embargo an act of war just like Japan did during WWII. The attack on Pearl Harbor came soon after.
Remember the robotic voice of Joshua in the 1980’s movie Wargames? "Shall we play a game?" Kim Jong Un and President Trump are locked in their own game of nuclear chicken. Who will blink first? In Wargames, it took a computer to teach the humans that --- in some games --- "the only winning move is not to play."
That was a movie. Unfortunately, this is our life.
Behind the Holiday: Labor Day
That cookout you enjoyed on your day off yesterday --- what exactly were you celebrating? Do you know the complicated backstory of Labor Day? It involves Canada, Marxism, a union strike, riots, death and one of the sleaziest presidents in U.S. history.
In late 1800s America, labor unions gained traction to combat terrible working conditions in the factories and mines that fueled the Second Industrial Revolution. In many cases, unions were vital in helping workers deal with 12-hour work-days, 7-day work-weeks, no compensation for on-the-job injuries, low wages, no benefits, inadequate breaks and filthy, dangerous work spaces.
Generally, the Second Industrial Revolution helped widen the gulf between the wealthy and poor classes. This is the Marxist/socialist sweet spot --- manipulating the sense of unfairness that the poor worker feels. Their strategy is turning downtrodden workers into revolutionaries who will level the playing field by redistributing wealth.
Factory working conditions in America gave Marxists a foot in the door --- this is where guys like Peter J. McGuire come in. McGuire was an Irish Catholic from New York City and a devoted Marxist. In 1874, McGuire co-founded the Social Democratic Workingmen’s Party of North America --- the first Marxist political party in the U.S. He also co-founded the American Federation of Labor, which became the most powerful labor union in the country. McGuire’s goal was to convert America to socialism through labor unions.
In 1882, labor officials in Toronto invited McGuire to attend the labor festival that had been a fixture in Canada for a decade. McGuire ate it up. He scrambled back to New York City to organize a similar American labor march.
McGuire chose September 5th, since it roughly fell halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. The Labor celebration was a hit --- 30,000-plus marchers skipped work for a day of picnics, speeches demanding an 8-hour workday and a parade through New York City.
The Labor march became an annual event and caught on around the country --- a way for laborers to demonstrate that Labor Lives Matter, well, as long as you weren’t black or Asian which disqualified you from joining the AFL. Five years after it started, Labor Day was an official holiday in 30 states.
Then in 1894, a pivotal strike occurred in Pullman, Illinois that made Labor Day a permanent fixture on our national calendar.
Because of an economic downturn, George Pullman’s Palace Car Company (which made luxury train sleeping cars) had to lay off hundreds of employees. For those that remained, Pullman lowered wages without lowering rent for the company houses where most employees lived. Marxist labor leaders couldn’t let Pullman, the evil capitalist, get away with this. They had to shut him down. So workers went on strike and sympathetic railroad workers around the country joined in.
The strike quickly turned violent. Rioters set hundreds of train cars ablaze. The unrest crippled the railroad business and interrupted delivery of U.S. Mail, which prompted President Grover Cleveland to send 12,000 troops to Chicago to break the strike. Troops and strikers exchanged fire and at least two strikers were killed.
President Cleveland’s unpopular response to the crisis was not good for Democrats in a mid-term election year. Congress rammed through a bill to make Labor Day a Federal holiday as a way to appease labor unions across the country. President Cleveland signed the bill just six days after the Pullman Strike was broken. Marxist terrorists had torched railroads and trains across the country and the President gave them the gift of Labor Day.
So, Labor Day was a Canadian idea, copied in America by the Marxist founder of the American Socialist Party, that was made a Federal holiday by a Congress and President trying to save face during an election year. It was the first of countless bones the Democratic Party would throw to labor unions over the next century.
By the way, remember Peter J. McGuire? The Marxist, racist, anti-immigrant, co-founder of the American Socialist Party, the AFL and our annual Labor Day celebration? In 1901 he was arrested for embezzling union funds. I guess for some people, socialism moves too slowly in redistributing the wealth.
And for the record, there is a statue honoring Peter J. McGuire in Pennsauken, New Jersey. It has an inscription in Latin that translates, "Labor conquers all."
Hurricane Harvey Update
Scavengers are stealing from flood victims in Houston.
We’ve seen the best of humanity during the rescue phase of Hurricane Harvey --- now the worst of humanity is rearing its head. Unreal, the idea of people returning to their ravaged homes, sifting through what’s left of their possessions, putting things in the yard to dry out, only to have thieves rob them.
This is rare so far in Houston compared to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. But it’s a reminder how much still hangs in the balance for southeast Texas.
On Sunday, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said, “I’m encouraging people: Get up, and let’s get going.” It’s the same can-do spirit conveyed in a Washington Post story with the headline, “Texans’ do-it-ourselves rescue effort defines Hurricane Harvey.”
This has been a big part of the Hurricane Harvey narrative so far – Texan resilience and independence. Neighbors having each other’s backs. But can this same do-it-yourself ethic continue through the rebuilding effort?
Current damage estimates are between $150-180 billion. Can Texas, a state with no income tax, be a model for a different kind of recovery effort, on its own, through innovative private/public partnership, without waiting for the Federal money truck to back up to Houston?
Remember all the FEMA debit card abuses and swindles after Hurricane Katrina? Federal money dumps are not an efficient solution. Besides, FEMA is still $25 billion in debt from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The federal government cannot afford this.
This is a perfect chance for President Trump, the businessman, to outline a different path for rebuilding – more private donations, less federal aid. Trump was in the real estate and construction business – this is his wheelhouse. This is an opportunity for him to lead in a unique and better way on a responsible rebuilding of Houston.