For those with ears to hear

I was impressed by President Trump’s State of the Union address.  It was one of his better public speaking performances, and whoever helped him craft the remarks instilled some great message discipline.  The speech covered a wide range of topics, some of which I thought could have been left for a different venue in order to tighten up the key points.  But those key points shone through, as this analysis by Glenn Reynolds shows:

So one of the interesting things about Trump’s speech last night is how it seemed calculated to demolish all the standard anti-Trump tropes from the media and from the left and to do so with compelling imagery. Consider:

Trump’s a Nazi: Praise for Holocaust survivors, and a touching rendition of “Happy Birthday.” (With Trump waving his fingers like a conductor).
Trump hates minorities: Brags about record low black, Hispanic, and Asian unemployment — while white-clad Democratic women, overwhelmingly white themselves, sat prune-faced.
Trump’s a Russian tool: Withdrawing from the INF Treaty.
Trump’s a warmonger: Without me, Trump says, we’d be at war on the Korean peninsula. Also, I’m looking at pulling out of Afghanistan.
Trump hates women: Except he got even the prune-faced white-clad Democratic women up dancing (and chanting “USA! USA!”) when he talked about record female employment in and out of Congress.

And his rebuke to socialism was designed to strip the glamour that the media have tried to imbue it with by tying it to the abject misery of Venezuela.

In debate, I think this is called cutting across your opponent’s flow. ((As a former competitive debater, I can confirm that term.  – Jemison))  And I think it’s Trump’s opening shot at 2020, as well as an effort to undercut the “Resistance” in and out of Congress. Plus, as Ann Althouse notes, despite the predictions of lefties like Robert Reich (see below) it was all wrapped in optimism and sunny American exceptionalism.

Genuinely Reaganesque.

There’s one Reynolds missed.  While I’m not in favor of the government providing taxpayer-funded family leave after the birth of a child, I was very glad to see him pivot from the “image of a mother holding her new baby” to the horrors of the recent pro-abortion legislation in New York and Virginia.  The contrast was deliberate and well-executed, followed by a call to Congress to outlaw late-term abortion (it’s a start).

Overall I was encouraged by the way in which the speech was an invitation to work together for the good of the country, without retreating from strongly held policy positions.  If the goal in politics is to capture the middle ground, I think Trump did a good job of it last night.

Naturally, many in the country today are dismissing everything he had to say.  Some, like Senator Chuck Schumer, were dismissing it even before hearing it.  No matter how reasonable Trump tries to be, nor how many facts he arms his talking points with, there will continue to be those partisans who refuse to listen.  Not only because they are invested in the Democratic party, but because they abhor the vision of America Trump’s election represents — a return to the roots, if you will.  The most “Reaganesque” moment of the speech in my opinion was when Trump pledged our nation would never be a socialist country.  The fact there were audible boos in the halls of Congress to this rejection of socialism should be a wakeup call to Americans who value their freedom.  It is not hyperbole to say there are members of Congress dedicated to subverting everything our Constitution and our history stand for.  They will not be swayed by reasonable arguments, demonstrable facts or the evidences of history.  They will have to be fought tooth and nail as if the survival of our nation depends on it.

Because it does.

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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.

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.

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!

Open borders kills children

I’ve noted more than once how often liberals put forth policy proposals wrapped in emotional rhetoric, claiming “it’s for the children.”  Well, in that sense, the Democrats’ refusal to fund a wall and effective border security is resulting in the death of children:

An 8-year-old boy reportedly died Monday at a hospital in New Mexico after having been treated for fever-like symptoms. It’s the second death this month of children brought to the U.S. by their parents, while in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The media let Democrats skate by on the other one, too, but the real culprit is the border chaos that gives migrants the idea that it’s relatively easy or worthwhile for them to sneak into the country through the desert.  (emphasis added)

A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died on Dec. 8 under almost the exact same circumstances: She was ill, and she and her father turned themselves in at the border, where she broke into a deadly fever, began vomiting, and later died at a hospital in Texas.

Let’s be clear: it’s not the fault of our Customs and Border Patrol when parents (or, in some cases, people claiming to be parents) drag children across barren terrain, suffering dehydration and disease, then watch helplessly as those children die just inside the United States.  Are these tragedies?  Most certainly.  Are they avoidable tragedies?  Just as certainly as the many tragedies caused by illegal immigrants in our country.

Build the @#$% wall, already.  After all, it’s for the children.

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.

A view from the ground

Given that a large portion of the ‘migrant caravan’ crashing against our southern border is from Honduras, it might be useful to hear from someone familiar with conditions in that country:

I am not involved in politics but would like to present to you a new perspective in regards to the current immigration crisis based on our daily life and experiences on the northern coast of Honduras. I speak fluent Spanish and live alongside Hondurans every day in the workplace, in the local community and in the most intimate corners of my own home. Although I will never be able to change the color of my skin or re-write my cultural history, I do know and love the Honduran people and have lived in this culture my entire adult life…

Some are indeed refugees seeking legitimate asylum. But others are simply fleeing generally difficult (but not dire) conditions, or have simply chosen what seems to be the easier route of escape. It is not impossible to forge a humble living in Honduras (over 9 million Hondurans survive in this culture every day), although it is true that much corruption, lack of opportunities and violence abound…

We who are on the frontlines in Honduras have offered high-quality free education and character formation in the Living Waters Ranch school we operate out of our rural homestead to over 100 at-risk Honduran youth in the past five years. More than half have walked out because they admittedly had no interest in studying or preparing for the future. This type of apathetic attitude is common among youth in our area…

Honduras is in desperate need of reform and an effective judicial system as it is overwhelmingly true that injustice and violence reign. But that does not mean that the solution is for Hondurans to flee the country illegally…

If the United States accepts the several thousand immigrants in the caravan, there are still over 9 million Hondurans living in what those who have fled claim to be unbearable circumstances on Honduran soil. What good can be brought about by extending help to a very small percentage who present themselves as refugees unless wide-scale change will be brought about by and for the masses who have stayed behind?

The natural bent of human beings is to travel the path of least resistance.  That’s why upholding standards is important — to incentivize desired outcomes and deter undesirable ones.  Right now our squishy enforcement of immigration law means that for many, trying to jump the fence in Tijuana is far easier than organizing to try to improve conditions at home.  A major problem is that this wave of invaders is bringing with it the very cultural patterns that facilitate those conditions in the country they left, such as a lack of planning for the future, a disregard for law and order and a willingness to step on others to achieve what one has not earned on their own.

None of that is to say that individual Hondurans are somehow subhuman or unworthy of a better life.  (For the record, my wife and I sponsored three children in Honduras for about a dozen years through Compassion International).  The problem here is collective culture.  The roots of Latin American culture are inarguably different from those that resulted in the formation of the United States.  Indeed, the cultural path from which the United States descended is different from just about every other part of the world, save certain portions of Europe (which, tragically, are even farther along in the process of abandoning it).  We are justified in saying to those sneaking in for the benefits that, in the words of a former President, “you didn’t build that.”  They don’t sustain it, either.

Politics, it is said, is downstream from culture.  That’s why the emphasis on multiculturalism in the U.S. over the past half century has been so destructive: it is eroding the foundation upon which our social norms and system of governance rest.  We have been inundated with new arrivals who do not understand why our nation has been so successful, and have little to no desire to learn.  They just want the U.S. to subsidize a lifestyle their own cultures couldn’t produce.  Trouble is, as more such people arrive, it is transforming our own culture in such a way we may not be so successful for much longer.

Being a compassionate nation is praiseworthy.  But there is no compassion in taking away the birthright of one to hand it to another.  Those who profess sympathy for the plight of Hondurans have other options available to them.  The author of the linked piece is far from being the only American to forego the comforts of home to invest their life with another people.  Missionaries have done so for decades — centuries, even.  The difference is that in the past a consciously Christian West was sending them out and sustaining them to bring to others the light of Christ, from Whom all other lasting blessings flow.

Now, however, the “bleeding hearts” follow their own path of least resistance: “it’s easier to help by just letting in anyone who wants to come.”  That attitude is indicative of the same short-sightedness and willingness to step on the rights of others that hobbles many other countries around the world.  It is treating the symptoms, not the problems.  For many, it’s also a cynical move to “elect a new people” more amenable to their political agenda.

Everyone has the right to take personal action to help another.  No one has the right to subsume an entire country in aliens just to feed their self-esteem or lust for power.