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Donald Trump Just Keeps On Winning

Today’s Campaign Update

(Because The Campaign Never Ends)

Tired of all this Winning yet?  Part I –  Nevada Senator Dean Heller told a Las Vegas radio station on Thursday that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will be retiring this summer.  Let’s hope he’s right – Justice Kennedy, in his role as the wishy-washy swing vote on the court, has been responsible for more awful decisions in the last 30 years than perhaps any Justice in U.S. history.  Given President Trump’s record of appointing real constitutional conservatives to the bench, Kennedy’s retirement cannot come soon enough.

Tired of all this Winning yet?  Part II –  February’s official non-farm payroll report from the Labor Department shows that the Trump economy added a whopping 313,000 new jobs during the month, out-pacing expectations by more than 50%.  WINNING WINNING WINNING WINNING WINNING WINNING.

Tired of all this Winning yet? Part III – President Trump formally imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum tariffs, but as I speculated last week, he is using them as tools in negotiations with other countries.  As always with Mr. Trump, everything is a negotiation.

His initial tariffs provide exemptions for both Canada and Mexico, pending the outcome of ongoing re-negotiations of the NAFTA treaty.  Carrot, meet stick.

The President also noted that other countries – are you listening, China and Japan? – would have the ability to negotiate their way to lower tariffs or outright elimination of them.

“I’ll have a right to go up or down depending on the country, and I’ll have a right to drop out countries or add countries,” Trump said Thursday while previewing his announcement in an appearance alongside his Cabinet. “We’re going to be very fair, we’re going to be very flexible, but we’re going to protect the American worker — as I said I would do in my campaign.”

So, Mr. Trump keeps a campaign promise – one that has already seen U.S. Steel announce the hiring of 500 new workers – provides a carrot to North American allies to negotiate in good faith, and provides a stick to encourage China and Japan to engage in fairer trade with our country.  The stock market responded to Mr. Trump’s announcement by shooting upwards.  The fake journalists at the Washington Post characterized this as Mr. Trump backing down from his original plan.  Mr. Trump characterizes it as #Winning.

Tired of all this Winning yet?  Part IV – President Trump had a very busy day on Thursday, as he also announced that he has agreed to meet with North Korea’s Crazy Little Fat Guy.  According to South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong, the Crazy Little Fat Guy expressed “eagerness” to meet with the U.S. President “as soon as possible” to discuss de-nuclearization in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions on his country.  President Trump has agreed in principle to the meeting, and boy wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall for that one?

The hilarious thing about yesterday’s announcement was watching Fox, and CNN spend a full hour between 6 and 7 ET hyping the press conference that was going to take place outside the White House at 7 p.m., and then having Mr. Chung come out, deliver a 15-second announcement, and promptly march right back into the White House without taking a single question.  This, of course, leaves the press and the rest of us with more questions than answers about the proposed meeting.

Before we get too excited about all of this, it’s important to note that it is all being filtered through the South Korean government, which has been holding talks with the Crazy Little Fat Guy and his entourage of hangers-on.  There has not yet been any formal communication directly between the U.S. and North Korean government on this meeting, so all we have right now is speculation.

We don’t even know, for example, where such a meeting would take place.  It is doubtful the little North Korean dictator would want to venture down to South Korea, and there is no way the President of the United States will be traveling to North Korea, or even to the demilitarized zone, due to security reasons.  So any meeting would have to take place either in the U.S., or in some neutral place such as Geneva, Switzerland.

A meeting in a neutral country presents all sorts of logistical hurdles and time limitations for having President Trump involved, so the reality here is that the U.S. would want to hold heavy preliminary negotiations before the two leaders actually meet.  If the Crazy Little Fat Guy is not really serious about giving up his strategic nukes and is just looking to use a negotiation process as a delaying tactic to hold off any U.S. military action while he continues to develop his intercontinental ballistic missile delivery systems, American negotiators should be able to determine that early on, and the proposed meeting between Kim and Trump would likely never take place.

President Trump referred to yesterday’s announcement as “great progress,” and perhaps it is.  We can always hope, at least, that that will turn out to be the case.  But what we really have right now is a lot of speculation with little real information to support it.  The North Koreans have a long history of sandbagging U.S. presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama with glowing promises of good behavior, but then failing to come through once sanctions have been lifted.

To that point, Mr. Trump promised his administration would not make the mistake of lifting any sanctions while diplomacy is taking place.  In the coming months, he will almost certainly come under pressure from the appeasement-minded boobs in the State Department to do exactly that.  Everyone should hope that Mr. Trump holds firm.  No one named Kim has ever proved to be worthy of American trust, and we can be sure that the Crazy Little Fat Guy is no exception to that sad rule.

I predicted back in December that the situation with North Korea would ultimately be resolved without the firing of a single shot, and still believe that.  Yesterday’s events are encouraging on that point, even though there is still a very long road to be traveled.

Just another day in Donald Trump just keeps on winning America.

That is all.

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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Trump Giveth, and Trump Taketh Away

It is hard to imagine a more effective means of slowing the nascent oil and gas drilling boom in the United States than to artificially increase the price for steel via import tariffs.  Everywhere you look in the oil patches around the country, you see massive amounts of steel being employed.

Oil storage tanks? Made from steel. Dehydrator units and compressor stations and heater-treaters and amine units? Made from steel. Drilling rigs? Made from steel.  All those pumpjacks moving up and down across the landscapes of the Permian Basin, the Eagle Ford Shale region and the Bakken Shale?  Made from steel.

The Dakota Access, Keystone XL, Colonial, Transco and every other oil or natural gas pipeline constructed anywhere on the face of the earth? Made from steel. Those massive deepwater platforms being fabricated at Ingleside, Texas?  Made almost entirely from steel. Those gigantic ships exporting crude oil out of Houston and Corpus Christi and LNG from Sabine Pass? Made from steel. Those oil refineries arrayed along refinery rows in New Orleans and Pittsburgh and Houston and Corpus? Made almost entirely of steel.

Just as natural gas and petroleum liquids are the fundamental feedstocks for an array of manufacturing processes in the U.S. and across the globe, steel is the fundamental, indispensable foundation of the oil and gas industry .  No steel, no oil, no gas.  It really is that simple.

So it should come as no surprise that, after President Donald Trump announced last Thursday that he would be imposing new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, industry representatives immediately began to voice concerns. I started to say “unexpectedly announced” in that previous sentence, but it also should not have surprised anyone that the President made that announcement. After all, he had promised on many occasions during his 2016 campaign that he would take this exact action, which he believes will create stronger steel and aluminum industries in the U.S.

As the oil and gas industry is well aware, this is a President who is very focused on keeping the promises he made throughout his campaign. Indeed, Trump spent a great deal of time and energy throughout 2017 following through on a broad array of actions he had promised to take that are quite positive for the industry: the rescission of a group of Obama-era regulations and executive orders the industry opposed; pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accords; issuing executive orders restarting the stalled Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipeline projects, along with one rescinding the Obama Clean Power Plan; speeding up energy-related permitting processes at EPA, The Department of Interior and the Commerce Department;  Implementing a new 5-Year Plan that opens up vast new areas of federal waters to oil and gas leasing; and passing a tax bill that is hugely beneficial to the oil and gas industry.

The result of this rapid sea-change in energy policy has been to help stimulate investment in an industry that had spent 2015 and 2016 pulling in its sails to try to weather a perfect storm of low commodity prices and a flood of new regulations coming down from Washington, DC. It isn’t hard to understand that some in the industry thought this honeymoon might go on forever.


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