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.

Time and place… Time. And. Place.

Donald Trump will never win an award for being a silver-tongued orator.  It’s his willingness to say what he thinks, however, that endears him to many of his supporters.  In Monday’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump disappointed many when he declined to press Putin publicly on the accusation of cyberspace meddling in the 2016 election.  This resulted in shrieks of “treason” from his detractors in the U.S. (note to these: take a tranquilizer and calm down; your constant Chicken Little hysterics are embarrassing).  Being civil with Putin, however, doesn’t mean being in his pocket:

[Trump] is, as Greg Gutfeld noted on The Five, his own good cop and bad cop all rolled into one.  The good cop part is what we saw with Kim Jong-un and now with Putin — complimenting tyrants to an almost uncomfortable degree.  It’s oddly a Christian love-the-sinner-but-hate-the-sin kind of thing.

The bad cop part is what Trump actually does concretely — and, as Putin certainly knows, this is far more important than photo ops and press conferences with all the attendant words.  Trump’s actions vis-a-vis Russia have been considerably more stringent than his predecessor’s — opening the energy spigots, increasing sanctions, arming the Ukrainians, ejecting 60 Russian agents, etc.  As Walter Russell Mead pointed out, if Trump is in Putin’s pocket, he’s doing a terrible job of it.

Barack Obama — although the New York Times would burn down its own building rather than admit it — did an abysmal job with Putin and was indeed the one who was truly “owned” by the Russian.  And it wasn’t just the silly reset button and the embarrassing video of Barack whispering into Medvedev’s ear to tell Vlad he — Barack — would be more flexible on missiles after the election.  (What a toady!)  Even worse, in his Chamberlainesque ardor to make a deal with Iran’s mullahs, Obama let Putin play him in Syria, agreeing not to honor his redline against Assad’s use of chemical weapons in order not to endanger the  deal.  Trump never did anything nearly that pathetic.

Too many in our government find purpose only in confronting adversaries, whether it’s Russia, Iran, Syria or North Korea (or for warmonger John McCain — who still hasn’t resigned his Senate seat despite terminal cancer that allegedly prevents his being in D.C. — all of the above).  If things are too calm they’ll create the next Hitler of convenience (see: Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Ghaddafi).  Keeping these pots on a low boil is useful to the ruling class; when people start catching on to Uncle Sam’s misdeeds, they simply turn up the heat on one of the burners as a “rally ’round the flag” distraction.

If the various “Q”-related rumors are true, the administration is about to unmask considerable — possibly unprecedented — malfeasance within our own country’s leadership.  In such a case it would be prudent to wall off any potential foreign distractions, which may underpin Trump’s focused efforts with North Korea and Russia these days.  Putin’s revelation that Hillary Clinton received $400 million in questionable campaign funds from Russian sources, and Trump’s comments at the press conference about the missing DNC computer server and other unresolved scandals serve to underscore what fights our president has chosen to pursue at this time.  Regardless what success he has on that front, Trump is absolutely right in responding to those who urged him to cross swords with Putin or refuse to meet him at all:

“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace, than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.”

Trump’s foes have consistently underestimated both him and his base of support.  This tends to downplay in my mind all the pundits who claim Trump is either coopted or naïve about Putin.  They may find he was simply ensuring a fight on only one front at a time, fully aware that he still needs to keep Putin under a watchful eye.  “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” as the saying goes.

Such wisdom is to be desired in a chief executive.

Confronting reality

This is a longer-than-usual post.  Only read if you have time to think (not emote) it through.  Much time has gone into synthesizing my thoughts on the topic (hence the dearth of posts lately)

I’ll give Donald Trump this: he knows how to get people talking.  Unfortunately, most of what I’ve been reading online (while not having much time to blog) has been pure emotional reaction and not careful consideration.

If we, as a people, are to set good, solid policy that will “secure the blessings of liberty, to ourselves and our posterity,” we must rise above gut reactions and soberly assess the regrettable environment in which we find ourselves.  I’ve already stated on this blog that I find Trump personally distasteful.  He is not what I envision when I imagine ‘presidential,’ with one important exception: he does not fear the backlash from saying what he thinks.  If only more of our alleged ‘leaders’ (who, in truth, are mere followers of what certain chattering classes have deemed ‘acceptable’) would do the same.  Our political ‘elite’ has yet to get the fact that this one element alone accounts for most of Trump’s popularity.

But I’m not writing today to blog about Trump the man.  I’m writing about some of the things he’s said, and it’s high time Americans learn to separate the two.  Failing to do so has already turned this election cycle into one long fallacy of ad hominem appeals.  That’s not how you arrive at informed judgments.

So here we go: The Donald has proposed that we ban immigration by Muslims and/or from Muslim countries until we can get a handle on the jihadist problem.  Naturally, half or more of the electorate immediately shrieked “Hitler!” (has there ever been a more rapid example of Godwin’s Law?) and started quoting Martin Niemöller.   This is what’s known as ‘false equivalency.’  Preventing a foreign group of people from immigrating TO your country is undeniably NOT the same thing as rounding up a group of people already IN your country and sending them to gas chambers.  So get off the fainting couches, folks.

“But… but… that’s discrimination!”  the shrinking violets protest.  So is ANY limitation on immigration, since that means some people are allowed to come and others are not.  Let’s get to the heart of the issue, then: is there an automatic, inviolable right for anyone in the world to be able to move to the United States?  If you say yes, then you might as well leave your house unlocked every day and open so anyone whose economic condition is not as good as yours can move right in.  Otherwise, I call hypocrisy.  Claiming a nation has no right to secure its borders and bar entry has economic and social consequences every bit as much as claiming families have no right to secure their home and property.  The consequences of the former take longer to manifest, but 50 years after the Immigration Act of 1965 it should be apparent to anyone with a clear head that these consequences are already occurring.

“But… but… you can’t discriminate against Islam, because it’s a religion of peace!”  Like hell it is (and I mean that in the most literal sense).  There are individual Muslims who may be peaceful (I’ve met–even befriended–a number), but Islamic civilization and society is one a long, sad history of repression, regression and violence against outsiders.  Historically, there is no denying that when Islam is allowed to take root in a new land, it provides a growth medium in which extremism and jihad flourishes until that land is under submission to the same misery as the rest of the Dar-al-Islam.  Therein lies the problem: individual Muslims may not pose a threat, but Islam itself does.  We don’t have to like that fact any more than we like the other imperfections of this world.  We DO have to confront it, though.  As a system Islam does not seek to coexist; as soon as it is in a position to do so (say, through mass migration of its adherents…), it seeks to dominate.  Our nation’s early leaders were far more clearheaded about the incompatibility of this militant cult with Western Civilization:

Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. That war is yet flagrant; nor can it cease but by the extinction of that imposture, which has been permitted by Providence to prolong the degeneracy of man. While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men. The hand of Ishmael will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. It is, indeed, amongst the mysterious dealings of God, that this delusion should have been suffered for so many ages, and during so many generations of human kind, to prevail over the doctrines of the meek and peaceful and benevolent Jesus.  (John Quincy Adams, 1830)

“But… but… it’s unconstitutional to single out a specific group and refuse them entry!”  Thus does ignorance blather on yet again.  First of all, the Constitution and its protections apply to citizens of the United States, NOT to the entire world (unless people are suggesting we are responsible for all of humanity at all times and places.  Ready to take on that burden?).  In our historically generous spirit, prompted by the influence of Christ on our society’s development, we do seek to treat even foreigners according to the general principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  That’s all well and good.  But what happens when allowing the “pursuit of happiness” by foreigners directly threatens the “life and liberty” of those already in America?  Our government cannot and should not be neutral in such instances: its first duty is to its own people and their descendants (the machinations of traitorous globalists notwithstanding).  We used to understand this, which is why we didn’t allow unrestricted immigration from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan at the same time we were at war with their societies, and why (Democrat) President Jimmy Carter barred travel to the U.S. by Iranians after their new (Islamic fundamentalist) regime became fond of the phrase “death to America.”

“But… but… Trump’s also proposed rounding up Muslims in the U.S., like we did the Japanese.”  He’s done no such thing.  Trump is but the blowhard center of a raging national conversation that, frankly, is long overdue.  Those around him sometimes seek to add or subtract their own agendas.  For instance, it was a reporter, not Trump, who suggested a Muslim-American database.  You can legitimately choose to criticize Trump for not dismissing the notion, and for some serious ambiguity in his follow-on communication, but it was not his talking point to start with.  As for his comment that we need to look at mosques very, very carefully, events in France should suffice to show the man has a solid point.

To sum up, there are a large number of Americans who believe we should continue to allow the immigration of large numbers of people whose social system has historically been highly problematic, and that once in the U.S. we have to treat them with kid gloves and not keep an eye on their community.  This is simply a national suicide wish painted over with a veneer of humanitarianism.

But I ask you this: which is more humane… to stop the continued mass immigration in the first place, or to allow it to reach a point where Americans may one day beg not just for databases but for the wholesale roundup and violent removal of that community (as was done with the Japanese)?  The former option causes inconvenience and hurt feelings; the latter is a road we don’t want to go down as a nation.  So why continue a status quo that leads that direction?  As for the Syrian refugees, the excuse everyone wants to use to prop the door open for everyone, would it not be equally humane to carve out a safe place for them to live in their own homeland?  How many of those touting their plight so earnestly would be willing to join the military and be the boots on the ground in the Middle East to protect them?  …That’s what I thought.  Since we know ISIS and others intend to take advantage of our open doors, exactly how many dead Americans is this utopianist posturing worth to you?

You see, ultimately a lot my take on this is influenced by my time in the military (at least I admit and try to control for my biases).  I spent an inordinate amount of time away from my family after 9/11 under the idea that we would fight Islamic extremism “over there” so we wouldn’t have to fight it “over here.”  How’d that work out for us?  If America submits to the “we are the world” utopian impulse that allows our nation to be overrun with immigrants not just from the Middle East, but from many places whose culture and norms are incompatible with our historic form of society, it owes an apology to every servicemember who died trying to keep the nation both independent and secure.

You want to “thank me for my service?”  CLOSE THE FREAKING BORDER.  And if you want to ensure nobody calls it discriminatory, here’s a suggestion: STOP LETTING ANYBODY IN.  (Maybe there’d be more jobs for Americans, then.)  Be serious about confronting the problems, or stop complaining when a jihadist shoots up a neighborhood, or mass immigration continues to cause American workers’ wages to plummet.

We’ve got enough problems here already.  We don’t need to import more.  My biggest concern about Trump is that he’s a harbinger.  You don’t have to like the messenger (I don’t), but the message cannot be ignored, unpleasant as facing reality is.  Most importantly, if our ‘leaders’ don’t figure this out soon, the next standard bearer for these concerns may be the actual devil that people currently want to cast Trump as.  If our ‘leaders’ want to reduce the growing nationalist sentiment, then it’s high time they take care of the nation.  The longer we put our heads in the sand about the world we now live in, the worse it will be in the very near future.

Civil and profitable discussion is welcome in the comments.

The domestic consequences of weak foreign policy

This article is very well written and articulates concerns I’ve had for some time:

Because of the reckless abandonment of duty in Washington I’ve watched as many of us are now forced to reconsider limited government stances to offset this abandonment. This administration created ISIS by withdrawing troops and leaving no residual force in Iraq. They enabled it to grow with a hands-off approach as ISIS consumed Iraq bit by bit…

We failed to act earlier when risks were smaller and fewer lives were on the line. Now that ISIS has festered, risks are higher and more lives are at stake. I am not pro-war, I am pro-eliminating threats. I am pro-minimizing risk.

The reason we’re even having this conversation about domestic surveillance, Muslim databases, any of it, is because we failed to contain the infection over there and now it’s spread to here. If it’s a purposeful strategy to convince Americans to sign away their own liberties for the shaky assurances of a little safety, it’s a brilliant one. However, if it’s a purposeful strategy to protect the growth of a death cult by appealing to limited government sensibilities, using political correctness and inaccurate analogies, it’s also brilliant.

Either way, it’s an appeal to fear, both justified. Which one is it?

I suspect it’s a little of both, in the sense of “heads I win, tails you lose” and we lose a little more of our freedom every day.  Far too many of our would-be rulers know government power is best increased in a climate of fear.  So why not implement policies that sound appealing at the time, but that create economic uncertainty and hardship, social disruption among competing demographics, and security threats within and without?  While I don’t charge our entire political class with ascribing to this approach, I have no doubt there are a significant number of them that see the current climate as a feature, not a bug.

And so, many of us are conflicted.  I, too, believe strongly in minimalist government, and on the individual level, the need for compassion for the distressed and the dispossessed.  But the irresponsibility of the past two decades now leaves us with threats, such as radicalized Islamic congregations in Europe and the United States, that are beyond the ability of individuals to remedy.  Hence, the reluctance of many Christians — including me — to sanction continued importation of hundreds of thousands more from the Muslim world, and the flirtation of some, like Trump, with what Loesch accurately refers to as fascist tendencies.  (Note that I’m mentioning these in the same sentence, NOT lumping them together…)  In the case of Trump, it’s another instance of proposing more government to solve problems government created in the first place, kind of like the TSA after 9/11.   And we all know what a worthwhile tradeoff of freedom THAT’S been…

Even the Onion — that bastion of satire — knows enough to urge Americans to carefully consider the lessons of history.  As one writer put it, if the nationalists (those who favor stronger border controls and greatly reduced immigration — legal AND illegal) don’t win the day soon, the stage will be set in Europe and the US for the ultranationalists (think yellow stars or Japanese internment camps) as the security problems get even worse.  Unlike many today, I don’t see nationalism (based in an affinity for one’s own people and culture and desire to protect the same) as necessarily a bad thing, despite the ability to misuse it.

Ultranationalism, though — nobody should want to go there.

We cannot continue to allow our government to import more of a problem that it will later be only too happy to address if we hand over the Bill of Rights for “temporary safekeeping.”  We are already way too far down that road.  As the late Fred Thompson said in one of my favorite movies: “this business will get out of control, and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”

D.C. to America: Drop Dead

There really isn’t even a pretense anymore that the Federal apparatus is in any way, shape or form affected by the concerns of the people or accountable to them.

In a call with senior Obama administration officials Tuesday evening, several governors demanded they be given access to information about Syrian refugees about to be resettled by the federal government in their states. Top White House officials refused. …

The administration officials, led by McDonough, assured the governors that the vetting process was thorough and that the risks of admitting Syrian refugees could be properly managed. He added that the federal government saw no reason to alter the current method of processing refugees.

Because the recent resettling of tens of thousands of immigrants in Europe is working out so well…

Want to tell Uncle Sam what you think?  Here’s one way to do it.

There is, of course, a substantial number of Europeans and Americans who continue to welcome this influx.  Many offer Biblical interpretation for their position.  I acknowledge this not an easy issue for the believer, and I continue to carefully consider what others are saying (so long as they don’t fall into logical fallacies and false equivalencies), but I still stand by this.

 

The States stepping up?

Obama is intent on continuing to import a replacement electorate, no matter what the security risks may be:

America will not halt its efforts to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, one of President Obama’s top security advisers said on Sunday.

In an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Obama’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes said that America has “expansive screening procedures” for accepting refugees who are fleeing from ISIS-related violence.

Considering we can’t even seem to screen our own security clearance personnel that well anymore, I highly doubt there’s a well-oiled machine in place to prevent ISIS from ‘coming to America’ as part of this wave of new Democratic voters-in-waiting.  But at least some chief executives aren’t so blind to the risks:

     Governor Snyder: No More Syrian Refugees in Michigan

     Alabama Governor Refuses to Relocate Syrian Refugees in State

I can guarantee the Feds will do all they can to disregard any resistance at the State level.  We are in the end stages of a deliberate effort to transform the American electorate that began with the 1965 Immigration Act.  And if accelerating that process includes the real risk of ISIS coming ashore, it will be overlooked because The One is in his final year of power and knows a backlash is coming once he’s out of office.  His mission to “fundamentally transform” America trumps all other considerations — including the safety of your family and mine.

Americans were ready to resist the forced importation of illegally naturalized immigrants in recent years.  How much more should they be ready to do so, given the current security state of the world?  Nothing in our Constitution should be construed as giving Uncle Sam the right to dump tens of thousands of aliens willy-nilly across America.  If we aren’t willing to stand up to a government that refuses to listen to just concerns over security (including economic security — there aren’t enough jobs for those of us already here!), our nation is lost.  It is OUR country — it doesn’t belong to our would-be rulers who are more than willing to give it away!

May more governors lead where our national leaders are failing to do so.  And may the people of their States fully support them.  Forget pleading with D.C. to do the right thing — call your State leadership today and demand they follow the example of Michigan and AlabamaThen help them make the refusal stick!

Yes, it’s come to this

Tired of incoherent foreign policy?  How about demanding a reassertion of the Constitutional restriction that ONLY the Congress can declare a war — and that this should only happen after a reasonable explanation to the American people of the causes for, and objectives of, such a venture.  Otherwise we’re likely to continue having Presidents who win Nobel Peace Prizes before bombing multiple countries during their reign tenure, and claiming not to have “boots on the ground” while leaving plenty of footprints.

Whose side are we on