Beautiful

Because I have a background in professional communication, the Trump administration’s lack of message discipline often causes me to grind my teeth.  I’m seeing signs of improvement, however small.  Over the past several days, the president has been on Twitter, pointing out he’s available to discuss the budget.  Contrast that to the Congressional Democrats jaunting down to Puerto Rico last weekend, accompanied by over 100 lobbyists.  (Way to show solidarity with furloughed workers, donkeys!)

This, however, is brilliant.  Shortly before another Congressional junket was due to leave, using government aircraft, President Trump waved it off:

trump letter to pelosi

Naturally, Trump’s critics are calling this “petty” and “childish.”  But it’s a logical follow-up to the Speaker’s own letter yesterday suggesting Trump forego the State of the Union address due to the shutdown.  Note how many messages are packed into the letter above.  Pelosi sought to use the shutdown to deny the president a forum.  He used it to call out the Speaker for not sticking around to resolve the shutdown and restore workers’ paychecks, and at the same time cancelled a pointless seven-day vacation using government resources.  (I’ve worked my share of Congressional Delegation, or “CODEL” trips… I know whereof I speak.)

Forget the chattering classes.  Who do you think the average American in “flyover country” supports in this exchange of letters?

As for the State of the Union address, perhaps the President should simply deliver it to Congress via a prime-time TV address from the Oval Office, during which he talks with rank-and-file members of the Customs and Border Patrol about what they see everyday, and what they think it would take to secure the border.

Yes, our government is squabbling like children on a playground.  I can both mourn the current state of public discourse and at the same time recognize effective messaging when I see it.  I can also hope the squabbling only ends when there’s a commitment to finally secure our border and discourage the ongoing invasion of our country.

Build.  The.  Wall.

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When the State plays god

When a government tries to control every aspect of life, the Law of Unintended Consequences isn’t far behind. Exhibit A: China, which from 1980 to 2015 ruthlessly enforced a “one-child policy:”

China’s population shrank last year for the first time in 70 years, experts said, warning of a “demographic crisis” that puts pressure on the country’s slowing economy…

China’s median age was 22 in 1980. By 2018, it was 40. That will rise to 46 in 2030 and 56 in 2050. In the US, the median age was 30 in 1980 and 38 in 2018. In 2030, it will be 40, and 44 in 2050. India, by comparison, had a median age of 20 in 1980 and 28 in 2018.

Get that? By mid-century, half of China’s population will be 56 or older. There will be many more years of population decline ahead. Why? Because after two generations of using everything from fines to abortion and forced sterilization to enforce one child per family, single-child or childless families are now the Chinese social norm:

Northeast China – Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin provinces – has a population of about 109 million, and its socio-educational level is several years ahead of the country average. The fertility rate in northeast China was only 0.9 in 2000 and 0.56 in 2015. This means that the next-generation population in this region is only a quarter the size of the last generation.

Demographers consider a fertility rate of 2.1 (children per woman) to be the “replacement” rate, neither increasing or decreasing a country’s population.  A fertility rate of 0.56 roughly means only 1 in 4 women of childbearing age have a child!  Absent an extraordinary event, China is well established on the road to demographic and economic decline previously pioneered by Japan.

Japan’s economic crisis was essentially a demographic crisis. The decline in young people in the labour force has led to a shortage in manufacturing: the workforce employed in industry decreased from 22.9 million in 1992 to 17 million in 2017, and the workforce is ageing, leading to a decline in production and innovation. As a result, Japan’s manufacturing exports as a share of the global total declined from 12.5 per cent in 1993 to 5.2 per cent in 2017, and the number of Japanese firms ranked in the Fortune Global 500 fell from 149 in 1994 to 52 in 2018.

In any society, an increase in the number of elderly leads to a drop in savings, and a decrease in the labour force leads to a decline in return on investment, which reduces the investment rate…

Since 2000, China’s total fertility rate has been lower than that of Japan. The average in 2010-2016 was 1.18 in China and 1.42 in Japan. This means China’s ageing crisis will be more severe than Japan’s, and its economic outlook bleaker.

In Japan’s case, the demographic crisis was precipitated by cultural changes. Women found new opportunities outside the home and began marrying later… if at all.  Unwed parenting still carries social stigma in Japan, so this had a dramatic effect. Add to that the notorious Japanese work ethic of self-destructive loyalty to a corporation, and it’s easy to understand why professional couples have been also reluctant to have children for more than a generation.

China, however, will have to face the fact its government prevented or aborted the next generation. But before we look down on our noses at them, it’s important to recognize the impact of our own government’s actions. Since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, millions of babies have been voluntarily aborted in the United States. In this era of heated debate over immigration, legal or otherwise, it’s significant to realize that without such immigration, the population of the United States and of most Western European nations would be in decline as well.  That doesn’t mean I support the ongoing invasion of the U.S., however.

The future belongs first to those who show up.  It looks very likely the world powers of today have sown the seeds of their own overthrow, and are destined to be replaced.  Groups have been dispossessed of their patrimony and replaced before.  Perhaps reservations await the descendants of those who developed the concept for the original Native Americans.  History has a knack for that kind of irony.

A worthwhile New Years resolution

…would be for the United States to admit we’ve achieved everything we’re likely to in Afghanistan (i.e. not much), and end the operation:

No other country in the world symbolizes the decline of the American empire as much as Afghanistan. There is virtually no possibility of a military victory over the Taliban and little chance of leaving behind a self-sustaining democracy — facts that Washington’s policy community has mostly been unable to accept…

Indeed, Afghanistan represents the triumph of the deterministic forces of geography, history, culture, and ethnic and sectarian awareness, with Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras and other groups competing for patches of ground. Tribes, warlords and mafia-style networks that control the drug trade rule huge segments of the country…

The United States’ special adviser to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is trying to broker a diplomatic solution that allows the United States to draw down its forces without the political foundation in Kabul disintegrating immediately.

That may be the real reason the United States keeps spending so heavily in Afghanistan. The Pentagon is terrified of a repeat of 1975, when panicked South Vietnamese fled Saigon as Americans pulled out and North Vietnamese forces advanced on the city. The United States military did not truly begin to recover from that humiliation until its victory in the Persian Gulf war of 1991. An abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan could conceivably provide a new symbol of the decline in American hard power.

There is also the fear that an Afghanistan in chaos could once again provide a haven for an international terrorist group determined to perpetrate another Sept. 11-scale attack. Of course, Yemen, Somalia and a number of other places could also provide the setting for that.  The point is, we remain in Afghanistan out of fear of even worse outcomes, rather than in the expectation of better ones.

Afghanistan has become America’s “tar baby.”  The more we try to do there, the more we seem “stuck” with no vision or endgame in sight.  The writer of the linked article is correct that our misadventures there are likely to signal to our adversaries we aren’t the power we used to be.  But what is far worse is that our indecision and inability to know “when to fold them” demonstrates poor strategic judgment as well.  Nothing encourages aggression like thinking your potential opponent is both weak AND a fool.

(Chinese) Rear Admiral Lou Yuan has told an audience in Shenzhen that the ongoing disputes over the ownership of the East and South China Seas could be resolved by sinking two US super carriers.

His speech, delivered on December 20 to the 2018 Military Industry List summit, declared that China’s new and highly capable anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles were more than capable of hitting US carriers, despite them being at the centre of a ‘bubble’ of defensive escorts.

“What the United States fears the most is taking casualties,” Admiral Lou declared.
He said the loss of one super carrier would cost the US the lives of 5000 service men and women. Sinking two would double that toll.

Our extended presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan underscored our country’s emphasis upon what the military calls “force protection.”  It’s natural for any military to seek to limit casualties, but when it becomes apparent that even a few deaths are enough to change national policy, outside observers begin to doubt one’s resolve.  The thoughts expressed by Admiral Lou Yuan echo those of the Japanese militarists in 1940: the U.S. is a paper tiger, and will acquiesce to its rivals if smacked hard enough on the nose.  Japan’s miscalculation led to a brutal Pacific War that ended in atomic fireballs over two of its cities.  To see the line of thought being resurrected by the Chinese, whose potential to oppose the U.S. dwarfs that of Russia, should give plenty of people pause.

Afghanistan is known as “the graveyard of empires” for a reason.  The sooner we recognize that, and take steps to restore the deterrent credibility we’ve lost there, the better.  The misguided 17-year (and counting) occupation may have sought to avoid another 9/11.  But at this point, it risks far worse outcomes by emboldening rivals who believe they’ve taken our measure by watching us there.  Perhaps America in 2019 lacks the ability to muster the resolve shown after Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Then again, perhaps not.

The only certain thing is it’s better to ensure we never have to find out.

Be resolute, Mr. Trump

Today is traditionally the day people finish compiling their list of “New Years Resolutions.”  Last March, President Trump strongly warned Congress against sending him another hash of a budget that refused to address illegal immigration.  Having thrown that gauntlet, it’s vital Trump stay resolute on the issue during the current partial government shutdown.  It’s won’t be easy, as even his own party (with a few notable exceptions) refuses to give him the support any Democrat in Congress would be expected to provide a president of their own:

Donald J. Trump is hated even more by the Republican establishment than he is by the Democrats. That has become apparent as the “leadership” of outgoing Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has overseen the greatest legislative retreat in history. Given all of the advantages that being in the majority offers, Ryan squandered every single one of them — from repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to building the wall. Because the GOP could not maintain a decisive record of legislative victories over the last two years, particularly on things that have long animated the Right (such as immigration enforcement), the voters awarded the Democratic Party control of the House of Representatives…

In a recent poll conducted by Harvard University of all places, 80 percent of all voters say the United States needs a secure border — including 68 percent of Democratic Party voters. Meanwhile, 79 percent of voters polled by Harvard want immigration status to be conferred to those who have the “ability to contribute to America” (with 87 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agreeing with that claim). Essentially, despite what the punditariat may claim, President Donald Trump is on the right side of one of the most pressing issues of our time…

With just a single week left, the Republicans could have done something to further the cause of immigration enforcement that a majority of American voters clearly support. Unfortunately, though, the cowards have opted instead to adhere to the wishes of the oligarchs who fund most Republican political activities these days. The GOP has decided to allow the clock to run down and Donald Trump, the president that most of them hate with extreme prejudice (more than the Democrats do), to look bad.

Which is why, in 2020, those who support the president must make every effort to provide Congressmen and Senators who will work with him, instead of against him.  If that means cleaning out a lot of prominent names through primary challenges, so much the better.

Cleaning house is always an appropriate New Years Resolution.  If Trump stands firm this year, the least we can do is be resolute in return in 2020.

In the meantime, may 2019 be a good year for all those who read here.  Happy New Year!

This -n- That

There’s been a lot going on this week.  While I haven’t had time to write a long-form post till now, here are a few scattered thoughts on recent developments:

It’s interesting that for a couple days it looked as though Trump were going squishy on demanding funding for border security (the wall).  But as with many issues in this administration, it often seems the news coverage greatly exaggerates the death of the president’s resolve on key issues (and this may the media’s intent).  It says something that within 24 hours the talk went from Trump being stymied by his own party in the House, to Speaker Ryan very publicly bending to the administration’s wishes.  In short, Trump comes out of this with a stronger hand, not a weaker one, even if the Senate fails to follow through.

Meanwhile, in the tradition of Tocqueville’s observations about Americans self-organizing, “we the people” are making a stab at ‘doing the jobs our government won’t do,’ to appropriate a phrase.  In less than 4 days, a private fundraising effort for the wall has drawn nearly 200,000 donors and, as of this writing, over $12.1 million.  While this large sum is dwarfed by the estimated $5 billion to build the wall, the enthusiasm being shown may well have tipped the balance for the actions in the House yesterday.  There is, after all, more than one way for the citizens to make their point, if they are determined to do so.

The departure of Secretary of Defense James Mattis set many tongues wagging yesterday.  Mattis was a highly regarded Marine general and military intellectual, known as the ‘warrior monk’ before putting on the suit and taking over as SECDEF.  But as others have pointed out, having operational and tactical savvy doesn’t necessarily translate into strategic acumen.  Regardless, it appears his resignation was predicated on disagreeing with Trump’s intent to disengage from Syria and greatly reduce our footprint in Afghanistan.  If they fundamentally disagreed on these policies, the honorable thing was for him to resign, not to backbite the president from the official perch at the Pentagon.  So regardless whether Trump’s policy proves wise or not, I respect Mattis for his action.  I also respect Trump for following through on a campaign promise to stop policing the world.  Unless someone can articulate a very clear, rational vision of what staying in Afghanistan can achieve, it’s time to recognize 17 years of occupation is long enough.  Let Syria and Afghanistan figure out their own destinies, and let’s free America to do the same by extricating ourselves from all these nebulous multilateral commitments.

That includes immigration.  The United Nations lived up to its reputation as wanting to be a global proto-government by creating a “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”  In other words, facilitating the mass movement of peoples into alien lands.  The United States was one of only five nations who refused to sign onto the compact, correctly noting it was an attempt to create international “soft law” that would infringe on our national sovereignty.  The other four refusals came from Israel, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic — all of whom have been under pressure for months due to their refusal to allow open passage across their borders.  Instead, they are putting the needs of their own citizens first… and what’s so immoral about that?

The real immorality today is the utter lack of accountability shown by the leaders of these various nations to the aspirations of their people and the requirements of the law. Whether it’s Theresa May slow-rolling the Brexit process, Emmanuel Macron trying to tax his people in the name of dubious “climate change” fearmongering or former FBI Director James Comey showing his utter disregard for legal protocols, the attitude is the same.  The main question today is how much longer will these globalist charlatans escape consequences for their actions.

Les Deplorables

Little mainstream media attention has been focused on events in France, but they are well worth noting:

Millions of French citizens have been violently demonstrating across France for the last month.  They are known as the gilets jaunes, or “yellow jackets”. The protestors wear the yellow high-viz jacket, that is common on building sites and airports.  It’s a powerful totem for the French deplorables, a unifying symbol of ordinary, working class folk across the nation…

Many still understand France through the lens of Vogue magazine covers: a nation of affluent, happy people who live in elegant homes, with endless holidays, wine and food.  A 24/7 utopia of chic, elegance and style.  Important to note: that France does exist. It is the world of the French ruling class, less than 1% of the population.  This small group of citizens have dominated the business, banking, legal and political scenes for decades.

The ruling class comes from a small group of grandes ecoles, or elite colleges. There are only 3 or 4.   …These people are arrogant. But they are also ignorant. Raised in very wealthy families and cosseted in the networks those families are part of, they have no understanding of ordinary people and their real lives.

Arrogance and ignorance is a very toxic mix. 

What makes the gilets jaunes protests unique?  Their main gripe?  Elites blaming ordinary people, for problems that the same elites have caused.  Elites never being held accountable for their incompetence. And elites never having to experience the conditions, that their failed ideas cause.  French people are sick of being held in chains by a ruling class. They are sick of being poor and unemployed.

They want a new direction for their beloved nation.  Sound familiar?

The U.S. can relate to this more than many people realize.  The current Supreme Court is composed entirely of graduates from either Harvard or Yale.  The four presidents immediately prior to Trump studied at either Yale, Harvard or Oxford.  Chuck Schumer, the current Senate Minority Leader, is a Harvard grad.  In fact, nearly every headline-making political figure these days can be traced to one of the eight “Ivy League” schools.

That’s highly problematic, given the track record of those schools.  Harvard and Yale both earned “D” grades over their graduation requirements (or lack thereof) concerning seven core subjects: composition, U.S. government or history, economics, literature, college-level math, science and intermediate-level foreign language.  These are the foundational studies of a ‘university’ model, as opposed to vocational or technical training.  Yet a 2007 report found that Ivy League graduates actually knew less about American history, government and economics after their four years of allegedly elite education.  This goes far in explaining the lack of respect for the genius of the Constitution as written, and the value of longstanding American traditions.  Indeed, many of these grads consider themselves ‘citizens of the world,’ viewing patriotism merely as something to steer the rubes in ‘flyover country’ with, and national identity as a threat to their globalist agendas (spoiler: it is).

These schools are not imparting the very knowledge one would expect of an entrenched governing class.  Worse, despite their cheers for “diversity” in society, they fail to practice what they preach, with the result students are not forced to develop critical thinking skills by being exposed to a range of ideas and opinions.  In short, they are enormously expensive echo chambers of indoctrination, whose only apparent practical value is in building up networks with other chosen insiders.

Is it any wonder, then, that many Americans — like their French counterparts — feel completely disconnected from their self-appointed betters, who largely aren’t affected by the ill-advised public policies they pursue?  As the main linked article notes, national identity and character doesn’t die easily.  That’s the primary reason why the elites around the world have been encouraging mass migration, the dilution of nation-states, and the constant creation of extra-national entities like the European Union and the recently-renegotiated North American Free Trade Area.  It is a literally diabolical agenda.

After years — decades, really — of observing how the policies of the various elite university cohorts fail the commoners, it appears the long-suffering but newly militant “normals” may finally be reasserting themselves.  It’s about time.

But isn’t it interesting to note that after a month of “yellow jacket” protests put Macron and the French elites on the defensive, that a “known Islamic radical” with a lengthy criminal history suddenly shoots up a Christmas market and somehow escapes the police (some 89,000 of whom had been deployed to counter the anti-government protests across France?

It’s not as if those in power want to change the subject, right?

Facts versus feelings

The issue of illegal immigration is an emotionally charged one.  I believe far too many of our leaders enable its continuation due to cynical political calculations: if the American people won’t vote them greater powers, they’ll import a people who will.  But for the average citizenry, those who support the continued entry of hundreds of thousands of migrants each year are largely driven by genuine compassion.  Indeed, it’s hard not to compare the conditions many of these people are leaving to those in the U.S. and not feel a sense of obligation to help.

That is why dispassionate examination of the facts of the matter is absolutely essential.  Simply put, this ongoing, unprecedented wave of migration is demonstrably harmful to the citizenry already living within the United States:

A majority of “non-citizens,” including those with legal green card rights, are tapping into welfare programs set up to help poor and ailing Americans, a Census Bureau finding that bolsters President Trump’s concern about immigrants costing the nation.

In a new analysis of the latest numbers, from 2014, 63 percent of non-citizens are using a welfare program, and it grows to 70 percent for those here 10 years or more, confirming another concern that once immigrants tap into welfare, they don’t get off it…

“Concern over immigrant welfare use is justified, as households headed by non-citizens use means-tested welfare at high rates. Non-citizens in the data include illegal immigrants, long-term temporary visitors like guest workers, and permanent residents who have not naturalized. While barriers to welfare use exist for these groups, it has not prevented them from making extensive use of the welfare system, often receiving benefits on behalf of U.S.-born children,” added the Washington-based [Center for Immigration Studies].

The numbers are huge. The report said that there are 4,684,784 million non-citizen households receiving welfare… Compared to native households, non-citizen households have much higher use of food programs (45 percent vs. 21 percent for natives) and Medicaid (50 percent vs. 23 percent for natives).

The American people have historically been a generous one, no doubt in large part to the legacy of Christian charity.  The current level of charity, however, is both unsustainable and unfair to the Americans who have paid into various systems like Social Security and are now unlikely to realize their promised benefits because those funds went to others.  The injustice of transferring wealth from citizens to those who have entered the country (legal or illegal) only to become a burden on it should be obvious.  Given the fact the United States is already flirting heavily with insolvency, carrying trillions of dollars in debt and routinely hearing warnings about Social Security and other programs running out of funds for promised benefits, it’s clear the current situation cannot be tolerated.

The soothsayers who want to allow the status quo to continue try to shame concerned Americans by pointing to our history as a ‘nation of immigrants.’  In doing so, they omit certain critical data points:

  • Past waves of immigration, such as the early 1900s, were conducted according to strict legal protocols, requiring processing at such places as Ellis Island.  It was not a free-for-all “rush for the border” as we have today.
  • Previous immigrants had to prove, among other things, that they had the means to be self-supporting.
  • Previous sources of immigration were mainly from Western European nations with at least a tenuous connection with the English social and political context that framed the United States.  Today, not so much.  (Note the dramatic change on this animated map, both in terms of volume and sources of immigration, starting about 1970.)

This is not to say that individual people from other parts of the world are any less human. It acknowledges, however, that culture is an essential facet of any country, and is not easily discarded in favor of a new worldview. In short, we have allowed alien ways of thought to establish themselves among us, with major implications for the future of our Constitutional heritage.

Much, if not most of our current inflow of people is from Latin America.  Is it not prudent, then, to examine the fact Latin America is “the murder capital of the world?”

With just 8% of the world’s population, Latin America accounts for roughly a third of global murders. It is also the only region where lethal violence has grown steadily since 2000, according to United Nations figures. Nearly one in every four murders around the world takes place in just four countries: Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia. 

The linked article goes on to note most of these murders are never solved, a result of the very weak legal systems and lack of accountability that exist in most of the countries south of the Rio Grande.  Gangs like MS-13 represent the effective local authority, and it should be no surprise that as we continue to receive large numbers of people from this area, that the established gangs export their influence north with it.  It’s understandable to want to help people fleeing such lawlessness.  But such an impulse has to be tempered by at least two questions:

  • Given the pervasiveness of violence and lawlessness, are we willing to import the entire populations of countries like El Salvador or Honduras to allow their people to escape it?  For how many nations are we willing to do this?
  • Does it do any good to permit large-scale immigration from this region that results in importing to the U.S. the very social problems so many profess to be fleeing?

The first duty of any legitimate government is the protection of its own citizens, not provision to outsiders.  Yet many of our leaders seem to turn that on its head, viciously attacking and slandering any who then question their priorities.  In turning the U.S. into the world’s charity, we have forgotten a warning given to us in the famous parable by C.S. Lewis:

Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.

Indeed, the benevolence we think we bestow when we allow people to move to America only to become trapped in ethnic enclaves as wards of the state, is indeed largely imaginary.  Worse, it breeds understandable resentment among citizens who see their job prospects (see: H1B) and sources of public support diverted to newcomers, many of whom already broke our laws just coming here.

Our commendable compassion is being used to subvert us, and it’s well past time that stopped.  It isn’t compassionate to destroy one’s own nation trying to provide dubious help to others.  Universal birthright citizenship and the resulting “anchor babies” need to go, as does the vast majority of immigration of any kind for the foreseeable future.  When the lifeboat is already leaking and listing as the U.S. is, it’s suicidal to keep adding to the passenger list.