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.


By the purse strings

Since leaving the military, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen has spoken often about what he considers to be the biggest danger to U.S. security: the national debt.

China may be about to give us an object lesson in that assessment:

China added to bond investors’ jitters on Wednesday as traders braced for what they feared could be the end of a three-decade bull market.  Senior government officials in Beijing reviewing the nation’s foreign-exchange holdings have recommended slowing or halting purchases of U.S. Treasuries, according to people familiar with the matter.

China holds the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves, at $3.1 trillion, and regularly assesses its strategy for investing them. It isn’t clear whether the officials’ recommendations have been adopted. The market for U.S. government bonds is becoming less attractive relative to other assets, and trade tensions with the U.S. may provide a reason to slow or stop buying American debt…

Most Americans who pay attention to government spending habits are happy merely to see the deficit fall.  But even if the deficit were brought to zero (i.e. the government miraculously balanced its budget) the outstanding debt still has to be renegotiated periodically, as old bonds mature and new ones are issued.  When there is less demand for new bonds, the yield (interest) has to rise in order to become more attractive.  Thus, even with a balanced budget, our roll-over debt is a potential time bomb.

For the last decade, the U.S. has been able to take advantage of record low bond yields as the Federal Reserve held interest rates at historic lows in the wake of the mortgage debt crisis in 2008.  This, incidentally, is why your bank pays you next to nothing on your savings any more — the same policy that keeps the government’s borrowing costs low essentially robs individual savers.  Unlike taxes, people don’t immediately recognize this fiscal effect the debt has on them.

If forces beyond the government’s control — say, the largest holder of U.S. debt decided not to roll over its holdings — caused bond yields and interest rates to rise faster than desired, the results would bankrupt the U.S. Treasury overnight:

Given its sheer size, if the interest rate on that debt were to rise by even 1%, the annual federal deficit rises by $200 billion. A 2% increase in interest rate levels would up the federal deficit by $400 billion, and if rates were 5% higher, the annual federal deficit rises by a full $1 trillion per year.

The only way to begin mitigating this risk is to not just balance the budget but to start paying down the debt.  Think that will happen?

Me neither.  The day may be fast approaching when the government, in order to service its creditors, has no choice but to cut many of the programs people have become entirely dependent upon.  It may also impose confiscatory taxation, seizing the property of those who’ve managed to save and invest during these irresponsible years.  In both cases, the social consequences will be enormous.

As the Instapundit likes to say, “things that can’t go on forever, don’t.”  The exponential rise of our national debt can’t go on forever.  It’s simply a question of when an event will occur that undeniably shows the emperor has no clothes.

Making a list, checking it twice

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations plans to note who’s naughty or nice:

America First

This is long overdue in our international relations, and should be a key plank of the new National Security Strategy to put American interests first (see pages 19 and 40 here).  Much of the foreign aid we give out yields dubious returns for America.  And unlike other nations (*cough* China *cough*), we aren’t exactly smart in our use of “soft power.”  Much of the “aid” we supply all too often ends up in the hands of local thugs in power, while China’s efforts produce visible changes and local goodwill.  No doubt if the locals balk, China is not reluctant to tighten the purse strings.

So why do we not do the same with our spending overseas?  At its most blatant, foreign aid is about “winning friends and influencing people.”  But how much influence do you really wield if the recipients of your largesse habitually spit in your eye, knowing they can get away with it?

We are not in the financial position we were after World War II, where America accounted for nearly one-quarter of the global economy.  The Marshall Plan of the late 1940s was unprecedented in scale for American foreign policy, but it also seemed a relatively small price to pay to stabilize Europe and inoculate it against further communist encroachment.  Today, advocates of foreign aid like to point out that it makes up “about one percent of the federal budget” — but that still amounts to billions of dollars that produce scant results compared to the Marshall Plan.

Here’s hoping those countries put on Nikki Haley’s “naughty list” Thursday feel the choking off of unappreciated American dollars.  Since the Federal Government currently borrows nearly 1 in every 5 dollars it spends, those dollars are more appropriately spent at home.

Hagiography exemplified

hag·i·og·ra·phyˌ   haɡēˈäɡrəfē,/        noun

1. The writing of the lives of saints.
derogatory: adulatory writing about another person.
– biography that idealizes its subject.

See for example the New York Times article about “How Mao Molded Communism to Create a New China.”  In amongst the portrait of Mao as a “tiger” and “monkey king,” the article completely fails to mention Mao as the greatest mass murderer in history, responsible for an estimated 45 million deaths.

It’s as if the newspaper’s “Red Century” series is meant to indoctrinate a new generation into believing communism wasn’t all that bad

For more fun examples, see the Times’ story on “Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s Odd Journey From Victim to Criminal”…   (Note to the Times: entering a ‘naked plea’ — essentially “no contest” — on charges of desertion tends to have that effect.)

Much more of this — now!

The Justice Department announced today that it filed a lawsuit against Crop Production Services Inc. (Crop Production), headquartered in Loveland, Colorado, for allegedly discriminating against U.S. workers in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The complaint alleges that in 2016, Crop Production discriminated against at least three United States citizens by refusing to employ them as seasonal technicians in El Campo, Texas, because Crop Production preferred to hire temporary foreign workers under the H-2A visa program.  According to the department’s complaint, Crop Production imposed more burdensome requirements on U.S. citizens than it did on H-2A visa workers to discourage U.S. citizens from working at the facility.  For instance, the complaint alleges that whereas U.S. citizens had to complete a background check and a drug test before being permitted to start work, H-2A workers were allowed to begin working without completing them and, in some cases, never completed them.  The complaint also alleges that Crop Production refused to consider a limited-English proficient U.S. citizen for employment but hired H-2A workers who could not speak English.  Ultimately, all of Crop Production’s 15 available seasonal technician jobs in 2016 went to H-2A workers instead of U.S. workers.

The U.S. should not simultaneously have unemployment and programs to permit the hiring of foreign workers.  It’s long past time to take all the incentives out of the “guest worker” programs by making them prohibitively expensive for U.S. companies.  Guest worker visas should be so difficult to obtain that companies find it cheaper to offer retraining opportunities to American citizens than to import Indian or Chinese laborers. As retraining becomes more widely available, the government should also make clear that Americans who fail to take advantage of the opportunity will no longer be allowed to draw unemployment benefits.

This may all be part of the “dismal science,” but it’s certainly not rocket science.  Where globalists went wrong was in applying the principle of comparative advantage to international trade without taking into account that money, like water and electricity, takes the path of least resistance.  “Free trade” cannot be fair trade when one party (like China) doesn’t offer a minimum wage or the basic economic protections we’ve come to take for granted.  By allowing such lopsided relationships, we’ve sold our economic inheritance for pennies on the dollar at WalMart, while allowing practices we find abhorrent to flourish overseas.  This is hardly the U.S. leading by example.

Protecting American jobs may cause the prices of some goods to rise, but that’s literally a small price compared to allowing our economy–and its workers–to be undermined fatally by current practices. As Toby Keith sang:

“He’s got the red, white and blue flying’ high on the farm,
Semper Fi tatooed on his left arm,
Paid a little more in the store for a tag in the back that says USA

Hire American.
Buy American.
BE American.

America first.

Pravda on the Hudson

The New York Times has been running a series of articles noting the centennial of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.  It’s certainly a good idea to keep people mindful of the impact of what the Times is calling the “Red Century,” as the only way to learn from history is to study it.

The problem is it seems most of the time in these writings that the Times hasn’t learned a thing:


To be fair, such headlines are in keeping with long tradition at the Times, always looking on the bright side of Communism.  Their tweet today is a classic:

chinese women

“For all its flaws…”  Wow.  ‘Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?’  To be fair, the Times article being advertised does reveal it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for women under Mao.  But the tweet headline above comes from the closing paragraph, thus putting emphasis on the alleged positive developments.  Not once, however, does it mention the impact of millions of Chinese girls aborted–sometimes due to State force– because of China’s one-child policy conflicting with the traditional Chinese preference for male children.  A rather amazing omission.  Guess the Times considers abortion accessibility hand in hand with women “dreaming big.”

When I’m shaking my head in amazement that so many young people today see collectivism in a positive light, I have to remember this is what their vulnerable young minds are being fed.  This is simply more of the subversion I referred to in yesterday’s post: treason spread out over time.  With a century of well-documented communist experience behind us, modern defenders of centralized planning and top-down social organization are left only with the No True Scotsman defense for Communism: “it’s never really been tried”–all the efforts of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot notwithstanding.  If only a society would fully embrace it, it could work, they say.

After all,


I wonder what “big dreams” the young woman in the photo above might have had…

Never forget September 11, 2001

Sixteen years.  That’s how long it’s been since the worst terrorist attack in American history.  A total of 2,996 people dead or never accounted for.  Symbols of American power struck without warning: both World Trade center towers and the Pentagon.  The actions of informed passengers on a fourth plane likely averted a strike on the White House or Congress.

An entire generation had horrifying visions of previously unimaginable events happening in their own nation, with memories firmly etched into their minds.

They say time heals all wounds. And for the families of those lost that day I hope there is some measure of truth in it. But there is a flip side: such events fade in the public consciousness, such that they no longer inform or shape how the nation acts. To quote the opening of the movie “The Fellowship of the Ring,”

“…some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend, legend became myth…” (click “continue reading” below to continue)

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