Playing fiscal chicken

The big discussion in the world of punditry today is whether Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution to keep funding the government, or whether budgetary authority will expire tonight, forcing a shutdown of “non-essential government functions.”

I’ve noted several times before that this annual dance shows just how disfunctional our government has become.   Passing an annual budget on time should be Job #1 for Congress.  Instead, we get year after year of sloppy half-measures and patchwork spending:

Far from being a new symptom of present-day Washington dysfunction, Congress’ chronic inability to follow its own appropriations process goes back decades. In fact, in the four decades since the current system for budgeting and spending tax dollars has been in effect, Congress has managed to pass all its required appropriations measures on time only four times: in fiscal 1977 (the first full fiscal year under the current system), 1989, 1995 and 1997.

While the House passed a Continuing Resolution Thursday, there’s speculation the Democrats will torpedo a Senate concurrence over displeasure with not getting a DACA amnesty.  Fine.  If they want to burn the house down in a tantrum over not legalizing the presence of millions who came to this country illegally and uninvited, I say bring it on.

Then the President ought to permanently shut down all agencies that were deemed “non-essential” during the break in funding authorizations.  He can blame the opposition for highlighting again that much of what the Federal government does can be deemed “non-essential” when push comes to shove.  Having worked for Uncle Sam, I can verify there is indeed much nonessential nonsense the taxpayers fund year after year.  So let’s get rid of it.

If we’re going to play chicken with the budget every year, let’s play for keeps.

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Calling them out

The corporate press in America preens about being an agent of accountability for public officials.  In recent years, though, many Americans have come to wonder “who watches the watchers?”

Thanks to the internet, the answer can be: everybody.  Knowing this, President Trump executed a genius communication move last night by announcing his “1st Annual Fake News Awards.”  While some may have laughed at the claim these were “highly anticipated,” events bore the description out as the hosting GOP website crashed for approximately two hours after the tweet (from all the incoming traffic), and on Twitter the hashtag #FakeNewsAwards trended globally (it still is as of this writing, more than 14 hours later).

Some in the press are trying to counter by pointing out the mistakes on the list were later acknowledged and corrected.  And for the most part, they’re correct — while still being disingenuous.  Any student of journalism knows the first copy is what gets the attention — retractions almost never get the same level of resonance.  What Trump’s compilation does is remind and show overall just how sloppy/slanted/partisan the news coverage was in 2017 as the press hurried to seize on anything that might remotely make him look bad, without taking time to verify or research context.  (Hint to media executives: when your only source is that another news outlet is reporting something, you’re on very shaky ground.)  It is a very damning list.

By releasing the compliation on Twitter, Trump circumvented the media gatekeepers.  His public stature prevents Twitter from blocking such a move, but it’s worth noting plenty of voices on the Right are being silenced deliberately there and on other prominent internet platforms.  The press is working overtime to respond to Trump today, but that means they are reacting to his messaging, rather than producing their own biased news cycles.  And in doing so, they are giving the compilation even more coverage, potentially showing more Americans the sum total of what the epithet “fake news” really means.

As I said, it was a genius communication move.

In desperation, some have taken to claiming that Trump’s effort to point out media errors amounts to attacking the First Amendment, and equating it to various dictators’ muzzling of opponents.  This childishness trivializes the very real dangers advocates of free speech, criticism and accountability face around the world today.  Let’s be blunt: the First Amendment does not provide anyone the right to print whatever they want without being challenged for it.  When corporate news have to have the administration’s prior permission to run their stories, or CNN’s Jim Acosta is arrested or killed I might reevaluate the vacuousness of this whining, but not until.

I still shake my head in amazement that our nation’s reached the point where Donald Trump could become president.  But as others have pointed out, he looks a lot better if you evaluate him by what he’s done, versus what he says or what’s said about him.  In the meantime, Trump is showing how to play offense in this struggle, the media are getting a dose of their own medicine and it’s clear they don’t like it one little bit.  To which I can only say:

It’s about time.

Is “diversity” good for America?

At every turn, we are assured by the media, too many politicians, and a whole host of activists that “diversity is our strength.”  Is it?  Some of the Founders would have dismissed such an idea.  John Quincy Adams, son of the second President, had this to say to his father in 1811:

“America is destined to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs.”  (emphasis added)

In this he was not falling far from the tree, so to speak.  During and after the American Revolution, the elder Adams strongly advocated English as a common language for the new nation.  George Washington, in his Farewell Address, noted the conditions of the younger Adams’ later observations were already present:

“With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.” (emphasis added)

We’re told that American-style liberty and self-governance is the desire of every human being; that in everyone, there’s an American struggling to break out.  Is that really true?  If so, then why are second-generation immigrants participating in terrorism?  Why are some advocating the adoption of an alien Sharia law system in the U.S.?  Why are there alien enclaves here waving foreign flags (while burning the U.S. one) and looking more like the lands of their ancestors than part of the United States?  Most importantly, who benefits from this conscious policy and why?

Culture is the wellspring from which a nation’s institutions flow.  The culture that created the United States was steeped in the Christian faith, the history of British self-governance and Enlightenment thinking about limited government.  Even today, those are hardly universal foundations for societies.   Around the world there are plenty of examples of what results when any or all of those pillars are missing.  So why would we not demand they continue to predominate here?  

America is now decades into its multicultural fetish.  But there is a tremendous difference between enjoying colorful assortments of dress, dance and cuisine, and acting as if all worldviews produce the same positive results.  They clearly do not.  I couldn’t help but think of the multiculturalists when I recently read about the custom in Madagascar of literally dancing with the corpses of dead family members.  I guarantee there are doctrinaire multiculturalists who would demand we not frown on such a horrific practice; that instead we celebrate what they would emphasize as an expression of love.  The problem is, such things have predictable consequences, such as the spreading of disease.  In most of Latin America (especially Brazil), the annual “Carnival” celebration is a license for utter debauchery.  In much of Islamic Africa, the genitals of young girls are mutilated in an attempt to mute their sexuality, a practice now flourishing in immigrant communities such as Detroit.

So what do we expect to happen when we have “diversity lotteries” for admission to the U.S., resulting in people moving here in large numbers directly from societies with such practices?  Is it not strange we have elected officials more concerned with protecting illegal immigrants than U.S. citizens?  We have forgotten, to our own peril, that the U.S., and more broadly Western Civilization, is unique in human history and that most of the world’s story is a uniform one of various flavors of subservience and misery for the average individual.  Too few Americans have personally experienced how different life outside the “developed world” can be, so they have no idea what’s at stake.

At the rate we’re going, though, many are about to find out.  Western Civilization once had the audacity to proclaim universal truths and standards of right and wrong.  But today it thinks of itself as merely one voice among many, and nothing special worth defending.  I believe the “diversity drive,” coupled with the now-prevalent idea there is no objective truth, will be noted by historians as the fatal acid that ate away the foundations of the United States.  The key question at this point is whether any of the original culture of this country will be preserved in what follows its approaching demise, or whether, as Winston Churchill once warned of the Nazi threat, “the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.” 

Blunted from overuse

By now it should be obvious that the charge of ‘racism’ is as likely to mean someone had the audacity to stand up to the Left than it is to mean someone is genuinely bigoted.  Case in point: there is a good argument to be made that Senator Durbin’s now-challenged accusation that President Trump referred to certain places in the world as “s***holes” was merely a setup so that the president could perform public penance by passing a DACA compromise acceptable to the Democrats.

Painting Trump as an unrepentant racist requires rewriting history, though:

2000: Trump declines to run as a Reform Party candidate.  In explaining why, he said  “The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani,” he said in his statement. “This is not company I wish to keep.”  ((For the record, I think charges of “neo-Nazism” against Buchanan have always been overblown, but that’s beside the point here.  — Jemison))

1998 VIDEO: Jesse Jackson praises Trump for a “lifetime of service to African-Americans.”

1997: Trump praised in the Wall Street Journal for opening Mar-a-Lago Club to African-Americans and Jews, a move opposed by other Palm Beach clubs at the time.

1986: Trump receives Ellis Island Medal of Honor, alongside Rosa Parks and others

Senator Rand Paul has pointed out that Trump funded one of his medical mission trips to Haiti, where the erstwhile optometrist restored vision for more than 200 Haitians.  It’s worth noting he mentioned this in partial defense of the president despite a generally bumpy political relationship with Trump.  And it’s worth noting at least one relative of Dr. Martin Luther King thinks Trump is a friend to African-Americans.

Illegal and chain immigration hurts the black community as much, or more, than anyone else.  Trump may be boastful and a loudmouth.  But it seems he’s genuinely trying to make the American Dream possible again, without regard for grievance politics.  If he can blast through the withering public sniping and achieve increased opportunity for all, he’ll have shown conclusively that crying “raciss!” is simply the last refuge of a Left that has nothing else substantive to offer.

In other news: water is wet

It appears humanity continues to need examples of why certain cherished economic theories simply don’t work:

A Panera Bread Co. restaurant in the St. Louis area where patrons have paid as much or little as they want for a meal for almost eight years is closing its doors.

Panera founder and executive chairman Ron Shaich told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the St. Louis Bread Co. Cares Community Cafe in Clayton, Missouri, is closing Tuesday because it was on a month-to-month lease and the store would have required a big investment. St. Louis Bread Co. is part of St. Louis-based Panera, which operates more than 2,000 bakery-cafes.

The nature of the economics did not make sense,” Shaich said.

The cafe opened in 2010 in an existing Panera-run restaurant blocks from the St. Louis County government buildings. The idea for the Clayton cafe was that people who could afford to pay the suggested price or more would do so, subsidizing those who could pay just a portion of the price or none at all.  ((i.e. “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need…”  — Jemison))

In the seven years since, “we served probably a half-million meals through this cafe, all at no set prices, as a gift to the community,” Shaich said in a phone interview with the Post-Dispatch. He said customers paid, on average, about 85 percent of the suggested price, proving, he said, “that people are fundamentally good.”

“We loved it, it worked well, it proved that the idea would work,” Shaich said.

No, it proved that the operation could continue only until it required an infusion of new capital, and those who could provide it decided not to throw good money after bad.  If they only averaged 85% of the suggested price, it was probably bleeding cash the entire eight-year run.  Heck, even the Soviet Union managed to stumble along painfully for 70 years until the contradictions of its economics caught up with it.  That doesn’t mean they were on to something.

Never take for granted

The right to assemble for worship:

Chinese police officers demolished one of the country’s largest evangelical churches this week, using heavy machinery and dynamite to raze the building where more than 50,000 Christians worshiped.

The Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi Province was one of at least two Christian churches demolished by the authorities in recent weeks, part of what critics describe as a national effort to regulate spiritual life in China.

Under President Xi Jinping, the government has destroyed churches or removed their steeples and crosses as part of a campaign that reflects the Communist Party’s longstanding fear that Christianity, viewed as a Western philosophy, is a threat to the party’s authority.

And never forget there are plenty of people living in the United States, Canada and Europe who’d like nothing more than to take down all the crosses and dynamite all the churches here, too.