Sunday, July 26, 2020
Trump’s Reactive Engagement
Victor Davis Hanson, National Review
Examining the president’s foreign policy
The United States and indeed the Western world face four quite different challenges on the horizon: China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. All these threats were analyzed at length in the 68-page U.S. National Security Strategy assessment of December 2017, written by then–national-security adviser H. R. McMaster and his staff.
The encompassing theme of that blueprint was dubbed “strategic realism.” In popular parlance it may have been better known as a new “Jacksonianism” — defined loosely as something like the self-composed epitaph of the Roman strongman Sulla found in Plutarch’s life of the general (“No friend had ever surpassed him in doing kindness, and no enemy in doing harm” [οὔτε τῶν φίλων τις αὐτὸν εὖ ποιῶν οὔτε τῶν ἐχθρῶν κακῶς ὑπερεβάλετο]), or perhaps the reactive principle enshrined in the motto of the Stuart dynasty of Scotland, Nemo me impune lacessit — “No one provokes me with impunity.”
One overarching goal of the NSS white paper was to synthesize U.S. and allied interests while isolating enemies and winning over neutrals — and all in the context of a new domestic paradigm of enhancing the economy of the American interior while securing the nation’s borders. That assessment of continued, though recalibrated, engagement abroad explains the considerable increases in U.S. defense spending, the preservation of some 800 military bases and installations, the steady deployment of 170,000 active military personnel overseas, and the assignment of 30,000 State Department officials outside the U.S. Isolationist powers simply do not commit such massive resources outside their borders; declining nations “in retreat” do not allot such forces to protect the interests of so many allies. The aims of restoring economic vitality in the U.S. interior, pressuring China for reciprocal trade, and establishing a secure southern border and energy independence are not just campaign props, but foreign-policy assets that allow America to extend its strategic reach, if need be, well beyond its borders and on its own terms.
There is nothing radical in the American idea that NATO allies must meet their promises of military investment if the alliance is to survive in the 21st century. Who would disagree that our military, after 19 years in a stalemated Afghanistan, should rethink its strategic agenda and indeed the utility of its presence? What is controversial in concluding that policies that led to interventions in Libya did not enhance U.S. interests or regional stability? The Iraq War is now mostly seen, in a cost-to-benefit analysis, fairly or not, as not having been worth the price in blood and treasure. And if isolationism is defined by taking out General Qasem Soleimani, or bombing ISIS into retreat, or taking unprecedented action in moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, or reestablishing good relations with Egypt and the Gulf monarchies, then such isolationism is a strange sort of blinkered standoffishness.
In truth, the U.S. is in a far better position to deal with its strategic challenges than it was in 2016. The old Western consensus concerning Chinese globalized mercantilism and imperial aspirations could be summed up only as an uncertainty about when — not whether — China would assume world dominance. For all the upheavals of the coronavirus pandemic, the prior trade standoff with China had prepped the world for the unacceptable Chinese reaction to the Wuhan outbreak.
After America’s pushback to Beijing in 2017 — leveling tariffs on key Chinese industries and warning China to cease copyright and patent infringement — exposed Chinese mercantilism to the world, few were surprised in 2020 by China’s chronic lying, subversion of transnational organizations, and laxity in allowing its Wuhan virus to infect the world. Certainly, once China calibrates the full damage done to the U.S. economy by the coronavirus and the baleful effects of the subsequent lockdown on American social equilibrium, we should prepare for the chance of episodic appearances of more SARS-CoV-2-like viral “accidents.” Beijing may soon not so subtly warn the U.S. that in a matter of weeks it could suffer more economic and social devastation from an “inadvertent” release of a “new” virus from a Wuhan wet market, lab, or wayward pig or bat.
When the contagion reached the U.S. in early 2020, Americans were already aware that China was on notice that it could not continue routinely violating almost all post-war commercial protocols. Its disdain for global commercial norms was quite stunning. It offered no apologies when it stole technologies, violated copyrights and patents, dumped subsidized goods on the export market, manipulated its currency, ran up artificially huge trade surpluses, and sought to siphon off key domestic industries.
No one knows what the balance of power will look like after the end of the COVID-19 epidemic. Yet at least now the world recognizes that Beijing’s systematic deceit and corruption of transnational organizations were exactly what the U.S., alone since 2017, had been warning about. The lessons of 2020 were not that America had unduly taken on China, but that America had ripped off the veneer of Chinese intentions, which now were revealed as unapologetically imperialist and bellicose, without the prior dissimulating claims of furthering world harmony.
One reason that the Middle East has ceased being the world’s hotspot is current U.S. foreign policy. The decision to accelerate fracking and horizontal drilling has crashed oil prices, robbing the Middle East of billions of dollars in U.S. importation revenue and making its oil optional, not essential, in American strategic thinking.
The Obama policy of championing Iran over both Israel and moderate Arab states — and by extension Iranian terrorist surrogates, such as Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government, Hezbollah, and Hamas — is deservedly in shambles. It was destroyed by the Trump administration’s departure from the flawed Iran deal, its leveling of tough “snapback” trade sanctions on Tehran, and the forging of a new de facto tripartite alliance of America, Israel, and moderate Arab states against Iran. The effort to bleed Iran economically through sanctions and boycotts, and the retaliatory strikes on its military aggression abroad — most notably the killing of Soleimani, the arch-terrorist-architect — put Iran in an especially vulnerable position. Its position became even worse when oil prices crashed in February 2020 and Tehran clumsily tried to hide the fact that its Chinese patron’s imported coronavirus had reached epidemic proportions throughout Iranian territory.
Obama’s failed multiyear effort at a reset with Russia (2009–2014) only whetted the appetite of Vladimir Putin to absorb eastern Ukraine and Crimea and to carve out an imperial zone of operations in Syria — given that the Putin regime has often seen American outreach not as magnanimity to be repaid in kind but as timidity to be leveraged. John Kerry, the Obama administration’s secretary of state, invited the Russians back into the Middle East after a 40-year hiatus, ostensibly to become a stabilizing influence in controlling Syrian weapons of mass destruction. They have never left, although the cost of their presence suggests it may ultimately prove as unwise as other such Mideast interventions have been for a long array of Western nations.
For all the false talk of its “collusion” with Russia, the Trump administration has repeatedly opposed the surreal German–Russian natural-gas deal. It upped sanctions on Russian oligarchs, jawboned NATO to beef up its expenditures and defenses, especially in the context of Russian bullying of Eastern Europe, and sold lethal weapons to Ukraine after the Obama administration had refused to do so. The U.S. pulled out of an asymmetrical 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that was continually violated by Moscow, and it increased defense spending — also the exact opposite of Obama-era appeasement of Russia.
Yet one casualty of the Russian-“collusion” myth was the end of traditional Kissingerian realist triangulation, or the old American policy that neither a nuclear China nor a nuclear Russia should become a better friend to the other than each was to the U.S. One of the reasons China has so brazenly moved on its Indian border, threatened Taiwan, cracked down on Hong Kong, and carved out bases in the South China Sea is that the U.S. has not worked with Russia in areas of mutual advantage to curb Chinese aggression.
The Trump administration inherited a North Korean menace that boasted it had the ballistic-missile capability and the unhinged will to hit the cities of the U.S. West Coast. Past administrations had tried all sorts of multilateral agendas to denuclearize North Korea. All had not merely failed, but in their appeasement had further encouraged Pyongyang to accelerate its nuclear proliferation and become more bellicose.
Ultimately there are only four ways of dealing with North Korea’s nuclear capability. One is to increase missile-defense efforts to neutralize any sudden attack, allowing the U.S. to remain safe while providing good cause for a devastating response on North Korea’s entire missile-launching infrastructure.
A second, of course, is to pressure China to rein in its useful client. In the past, appeasing Chinese trade violations conveyed the same sort of weakness to Beijing as the Agreed Framework (1994), the Six-Party Talks (2003), and other assorted U.S. outreach had shown to Pyongyang. Beijing wondered why it should corral North Korea when the latter’s studied recklessness and feigned rogue independence from China had proved so valuable in consuming U.S. attention and resources.
Third, South Korea and North Korea could denuclearize the peninsula, each pledging to dismantle existing weapons or disband nuclear-weapons programs. This is unlikely because an impoverished failure such as North Korea feels it now enjoys diplomatic parity with a rich, democratic, and successful Seoul — but only because it boasts as a failed state that it has the spoiler power to destroy its rival.
Fourth, America can easily impose sanctions, and not relax them on reports of near starvation in North Korea, but rather tighten them on the rationale that, in such lose–lose arithmetic, short-term callousness is preferable to a nuclear exchange.
Yet efforts to denuclearize North Korea in these ways always seemed to fail, for obvious reasons. North Koreans understand that denuclearization, either voluntary or coerced, is tantamount to regime change or emasculation of the kind that occurred in Iraq, Libya, and Syria — as John Bolton at one point seemed to hint.
Beijing finds a nuclear North Korea a useful pit bull to let off its leash occasionally as a way to remind China’s neighbors of its own clout and warn the United States that it is not responsible for a rogue missile launcher. And South Korea’s sometimes left-wing governments naïvely cling to the idea that spillover prosperity might liberalize the North, or that advantageous unification could follow from mutual nonproliferation agreements, or that warming up to China might entice Beijing to pressure the North to work with the South.
The Trump administration has mostly rejected these nostrums. In reductionist fashion, it assumed that the only method the U.S. possessed to deter North Korea, aside from imposing far tougher sanctions or encouraging Seoul to become a nuclear power, was a frightening message of Armageddon to Kim Jong-un that any use of North Korean nuclear assets against the U.S. or its Asian allies would be synonymous with the nation’s utter destruction.
Why, then, is all of the above written off as rank isolationism?
Donald Trump was the first president without either elective office or military service in his past. He was elected to the chagrin of the bipartisan foreign-policy establishment and most of the permanent administrative class of the State Department and the Pentagon. Trump also was the first president to question the 75-year-old post–World War II status quo, by asking whether there was a shelf life on America’s role in subsidizing the defense of affluent Europeans and Asian allies, many of whom ran up huge trade surpluses with America and were not always so friendly to the U.S.
Trump was the first president to reject the standard view that granting trade concessions to dictatorial nations such as China is a necessary cost to ensure their good behavior — on the dubious theory that globalized wealth inevitably leads to political liberalization and consensual government. He was instead elected on the argument that a hollowed-out American interior, an open border, millions of foreign nationals living illegally in the U.S., a stagnant economy and middle-class wages, and an inability to win often-optional wars in the Middle East were all unsustainable and weakened the economy — and eventually would erode U.S. stature abroad. And he doubted the notion that military forces could achieve strategic results in the Middle East by fighting on behalf of dubious allies or coerced democratization, and in ways that limited or neutered conventional American military strength and advantage.
Effective criticism of the Trump foreign policy not only would entail rejecting all these premises, but also would address why almost half the country believed in 2016 that many of their domestic problems arose from a foreign policy that had not yet adjusted to a world far different from what their grandparents had created in 1945.
This article appears as “Reactive Engagement” in the August 10, 2020, print edition of National Review.
Sunday, July 19, 2020
Author Rav Arora (right) was teased as a child for looking different (left)
but leveraged his economic privilege to succeed.
Rav Arora, New York Post
Last month, I retweeted a comment by a contrarian writer who questioned whether racism was to blame for the spread of the coronavirus, and a close (white) friend responded to me with a well-meaning text:
“I feel it is my calling to help end the oppression people of color like you face in our society,” he wrote. “I understand I have white privilege. And that has consequences.”
His message left me feeling bewildered. What “oppression” had I actually faced? And what “privilege” had society conferred upon my friend because of his white skin?
Growing up as a Sikh, turbaned boy in the majority-white environment of British Columbia, Canada, I was a constant target of bullying throughout my elementary school years. On bus rides home, I remember having to sit in the back where the older, “cool” kids hung out, and they used to jump up and slap the top part of my turban. I was consistently harassed with comments like “Go back to where you came from” and “You don’t belong here.”
Upon immigrating from India when I was 4, my family suffered tremendous economic hardships and cultural challenges. My father drove a taxi at night and my mom worked many menial jobs as a cook, housecleaner, barista and motel cleaner. It’s fair to say my family never had success handed to them on a silver platter. But more than a decade post-immigration, we have found our footing in Western society, with my dad making nearly six figures operating his own software company.
Rising from poverty to economic prosperity is a common narrative for immigrants from all backgrounds in the West. For example, after the communist takeover of Cuba in 1959, many refugees fled to America, leaving most of their wealth behind and having to start from the bottom. But by 1990, second-generation Cuban Americans were twice as likely to earn an annual salary of $50,000 than non-Hispanic whites in the United States.
The notion of white privilege stems from the idea that white people have benefited in American history relative to “people of color.” And it’s true that the institution of slavery and the following decades of anti-black dehumanization has a continuing impact today. A major 2013 study from Brandeis University found that 32 percent of the wealth gap between whites and blacks can be attributed to inherited wealth and length of homeownership, two factors linked to institutionalized racism. Meanwhile, Harvard economist Roland Fryer’s much-publicized study on racial bias in policing found that cops are 53 percent more likely to use physical force on black civilians compared to whites (his study, however, found no anti-black bias in fatal police shootings).
Because of facts like these, an emerging definition of white privilege is now being widely circulated on social media: “White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It just means your race isn’t one of the things that make it harder.”
And yet, this definition suffers from several shortcomings. For one, it ignores anti-Semitism — the second leading cause of hate crimes in America, according to the FBI. In addition, the growing demonization of whiteness now means that white people are no longer immune to racism. I can think of several instances where friends and colleagues have been racially targeted for being white and holding contrarian but intellectually defensible positions such as “we need to have generous, but reasonable limits on our immigration system” or even “I don’t think racial minorities are systematically oppressed in Western society today.”
And the concept of white privilege can’t explain why several historically marginalized groups out-perform whites today. Take Japanese Americans, for example: For nearly four decades in the 20th century (1913 – 1952), this group was legally prevented from owning land and property in over a dozen American states. Moreover, 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. But by 1959, the income disparity between Japanese Americans and white Americans nearly vanished. Today, Japanese Americans outperform whites by large margins in income statistics, education outcomes, test scores and incarceration rates.
One could argue the successful stories of my family, Cuban Americans and Japanese Americans are cherry-picked cases. But whites are far from being the most dominantly successful group in Western society. A wealth of data collected in a longform Quillette analysis, shows overwhelming white underachievement relative to several minority groups among health outcomes, educational achievement, incarceration rates and economic success.
According to median household income statistics from the US Census Bureau, several minority groups substantially out-earn whites. These groups include Pakistani Americans, Lebanese Americans, South African Americans, Filipino Americans, Sri Lankan Americans and Iranian Americans (in addition to several others). Indians, the group I belong to, are the highest-earning ethnic group the census keeps track of, with almost double the household median income of whites. In Canada, several minority groups also significantly out-earn whites, including South Asian Canadians, Arab Canadians and Japanese Canadians.
Interestingly, several black immigrant groups such as Nigerians, Barbadians, Ghanaians and Trinidadians & Tobagonians have a median household income well above the American average. Ghanian Americans, to take one example, earn more than several specific white groups such as Dutch Americans, French Americans, Polish Americans, British Americans and Russian Americans. Do Ghanaians have some kind of sub-Saharan African privilege?
Nigerian Americans, meanwhile, are one of the most educated groups in America, as one Rice University survey indicates. Though they make up less than 1 percent of the black population in America, nearly 25 percent of the black student body at Harvard Business School in 2013 consisted of Nigerians. In post-bachelor education, 61 percent of Nigerian Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree compared to only 32 percent for the US-born population.
These facts challenge the prevailing progressive notion that America’s institutions are built to universally favor whites and “oppress” minorities or blacks. On the whole, whatever “systemic racism” exists appears to be incredibly ineffectual, or even nonexistent, given the multitude of groups who consistently eclipse whites.
In fact, because whites are the majority in Canada and America, more white people live in poverty or are incarcerated than any other racial group in those countries. If you were to randomly pick an impoverished individual in America, you are exponentially more likely to pick a white person than a “person of color,” because of population differences. Today, 15.7 million white Americans (almost twice as many as black Americans) live in poverty. Given such facts, why would we deem all white people as privileged, even if whites have lower poverty rates compared to African Americans and Hispanics?
It should also be noted that suicide rates are disproportionately high among the white population. In 2018, whites had the highest suicide rate of 16.03 per 100,000. The New York Times has reported that whites are dying faster than they are being born in a majority of US states — in large part due to high rates of substance abuse and suicide. In comparison, black Americans had a suicide rate less than half of whites (6.96) and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders had the lowest rate of 6.88 per 100,000. In this context, do blacks and Asians have some kind of unmerited “privilege” they must atone for?
If we look at health outcomes reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we find that African Americans are less likely than whites to die of several health conditions such as bladder cancer, leukemia, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, brain cancer and skin cancer, to take a few arbitrary examples. But no one in their right mind would protest any “health privilege” enjoyed by African Americans in these instances. And while blacks have the highest COVID-19 death rate, more than double that of whites, the group with the lowest death rate from the coronavirus is actually Asian Americans. Given the crisis of the pandemic, perhaps it would be laudable for Asians like me to confess their “Asian privilege” on social media because otherwise, as the Twitter hashtag goes, #SilenceisViolence.
Overall, I can think of several privileges I have benefited from that are arguably more significant than “white privilege.” Roughly speaking my family has more wealth than many in my social circle, including my friend who texted me to atone for his white privilege. This would be a form of class privilege.
I was also afforded the privilege of taking a full one-year break from education to pursue my passion for creative writing and social commentary. Had I been in a different economic circumstance, I would’ve been forced to immediately attend college or spend a substantial portion of my time working in my gap year. Comparatively, my friend who texted me went to university right away and tenaciously worked part-time on the weekends to afford his tuition. Perhaps it would be more appropriate for me to confess economic privilege to him. I was also afforded the privilege of my parents strongly encouraging me to read books and learn new vocabulary words at a very young age, which has undoubtedly aided me in my freelance journalism career. This kind of “literacy privilege” has, in part, given me the tremendous opportunity to write essays for top publications like The Globe and Mail and The Grammy Awards, despite being just 19 years of age.
Writing this essay, I also have the immense privilege of being a person of color. I receive plentiful backlash for defending the positions I hold, but had I been a white person, I would have easily been demonized as “alt-right” or even a “white supremacist,” despite having average libertarian or classical liberal views on politics.
Fundamentally, privileges of all kinds exist: able-bodiedness, wealth, education, moral values, facial symmetry, tallness (or in other contexts, shortness), health, stamina, safety, economic mobility, and importantly, living in a free, diverse society. Rather than “whiteness,” an exponentially more predictive privilege in life is growing up with two parents.
This is why 41 percent of children born to single mothers grow up in poverty whereas only 8 percent of children living in married-couple families are impoverished. In a racial context, the poverty rate among two-parent black families is only 7.5 percent, compared to 11 percent among whites as a whole and 22 percent among whites in single-parent homes. In fact, since 1994 the poverty rate among married black Americans has been consistently lower than the white poverty rate. Furthermore, an illustrative study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that when controlling for family structure, the black-white poverty gap is reduced by over 70 percent.
When surveying the tremendous complexity of racial disparities, it’s simply wrong to presuppose all whites are “privileged,” let alone racist. Using the despicable actions of a few to judge an entire group of people is never sound reasoning. Just because some white people (who were kids) weaponized their whiteness and harassed me for the color of my skin, doesn’t mean I view all white people as racist or privileged.
None of the statistics in this piece discount racial prejudice, unequal opportunities or the privilege of not experiencing racism. They simply point to the glaring fallacies of the all-consuming white-privilege narrative which has degraded our national discourse into identity politics and racial tribalism. White people are now one-dimensionally seen as an undifferentiated mass of privilege and wealth whereas minorities are seen as powerless victims oppressed by a society ingrained with white supremacy and racial bigotry.
Ultimately, I don’t want to be treated as “Rav, the brown-skinned boy” or “Rav, the underprivileged minority.” I want to be treated as an individual with a unique set of circumstances and characteristics. To cohere as a multiethnic, pluralistic society this standard must be applied to all colors and ethnicities. But until we collectively repudiate race-based stereotyping and fallacious, inflammatory generalizations, we shift the focus away from real inequity and discrimination — and never truly make progress.
Rav Arora is a 19-year-old writer based in Vancouver, Canada, who specializes in topics of race, music, literature and culture. His writing has also been featured in The Globe and Mail and City Journal.
Saturday, July 11, 2020
Cancel Culture: The New McCarthyism
Col Mike Walker, USMC ret
Was reading a WSJ book review by Harvard Professor Duncan White on Larry Tye's new biography of Senator Joe McCarthy titled Demagogue.
Now compare White's comment on McCarthy to the Cancel Culture:
"He was a creature of reckless momentum consuming everything in his path, heedless of consequence."
"McCarthyism was not an intellectual project. The Senator had no program ideas, no set of policies he wanted to enact. It was always clear what he was against but never what he was for, other than Joseph R. McCarthy."
Update and substitute the references to McCarthy and replace them with Cancel Culture and Professor White has neatly captured today's reality:
"The Cancel Culture is a creature of reckless momentum consuming everything in its path, heedless of consequence."
"The Cancel Culture is not an intellectual project. It has no program ideas, no set of policies its followers want to enact. It is always clear what the Cancel Culture is against but never what it is for, other than the Cancel Culture."
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
Donald Trump’s Great American Speech at Mount Rushmore
An immigrant is inspired by the president’s vision of his new home
Liel Leibovitz, Tablet
What to this immigrant is the 4th of July? It’s America’s birthday, but it’s also, in a sense, mine. It’s a confirmation of my choice to leave behind other scenes and other cultures and reinvent myself anew on these shores, and an affirmation of all the virtues that drew me here.
And so, I had a lovely and long Independence Day weekend. I grilled kosher hot dogs and drank some local IPAs. I listened to Skynyrd and Muddy Waters. I watched Angels in the Outfield, which is a great movie about family and faith and baseball and all the other things that make America what it is. I fished for trout and played with my children and teared up a bit when looking at Old Glory waving in my yard, framed against the cloudless sky like an eternal promise.
When Sunday rolled in, I woke up and begrudgingly looked at my phone. The president, a news alert informed me breathlessly, had delivered a “dark and divisive” speech on the foothills of Mount Rushmore. How dark and divisive? To hear our pundits tell it, Trump’s address made Cicero’s fiery rebuke of his would-be assassin Catiline seem like a good-natured toast by comparison. Over at CNN, for example, editor-at-large Chris Cillizza found no fewer than 28 outrageous lines worth cataloging and discussing at length, while the Associated Press announced that the speech promoted “racial division” and The Washington Post alerted its readers that “Trump is running an openly racist campaign.” Sighing, I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to watch this contested oration.
Now, I consider the president neither savior nor demon, because this is America and one big reason to love it is that here we neither crown our elected officials the harbingers of all hope and change nor do we detest them with the fiery animus that thrusts so many fractured societies into civil war. Here, we remember that we’re a republic, which means that the men and women we dispatch to represent us are often, like us, a little too careless and a little too gross and always striving and all too human. Trump is no different: I support some of his policies, and find others disastrous. But because I believe—as a great man who had earned having his face carved into Mount Rushmore once said—that the poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer, I tuned in to Trump’s speech with an open mind.
It was every bit the statement I needed to hear, a clear and unapologetic reminder of why America is worth loving unconditionally, admiring unequivocally, and fighting for unremittingly.
You should watch the whole thing, but, in case you don’t, here’s just one moving bit:
We are the country of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglass. We are the land of Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody. We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright brothers, the Tuskegee Airmen, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, George Patton—General George Patton—the great Louie Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Mohammad Ali. And only America could have produced them all. No other place.
We are the culture that put up the Hoover Dam, laid down the highways, and sculpted the skyline of Manhattan. We are the people who dreamed a spectacular dream—it was called: Las Vegas, in the Nevada desert; who built up Miami from the Florida marsh; and who carved our heroes into the face of Mount Rushmore.
Americans harnessed electricity, split the atom, and gave the world the telephone and the internet. We settled the Wild West, won two World Wars, landed American astronauts on the moon—and one day very soon, we will plant our flag on Mars.
We gave the world the poetry of Walt Whitman, the stories of Mark Twain, the songs of Irving Berlin, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald, the style of Frank Sinatra, the comedy of Bob Hope, the power of the Saturn V rocket, the toughness of the Ford F-150, and the awesome might of the American aircraft carriers.
Americans must never lose sight of this miraculous story. You should never lose sight of it, because nobody has ever done it like we have done it.
Amen to that. The president may not be your favorite messenger, and you may be excused for doubting his commitment to much beyond his own appetites and ambitions. That’s fine. But as a statement of America’s founding principles, Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech was as eloquent and powerful a speech as any elected official has made in a long, long while, precisely because it contained, at its core, the emotional truth every immigrant holds to be self-evident: Knowing that it’s here and only here that accidents of birth can be transcended with relative ease and the full bloom of one’s genius allowed to flourish precisely because the cultural soil is so rich and so varied and contains multitudes. To be an American is to inherit the wealth of Sinatra and Ali and Douglass and Whitman and Fitzgerald and Berlin and Twain and Hope, along with the permission to add another wild tile to the gorgeous mosaic of their legacy, a tile that’s at once all-American and all your own. Another terrific immigrant to these shores, Leonard Cohen, neatly captured this feeling: “It’s here they got the range/And the machinery for change/And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.”
To reject this vision as dark is to turn your back on America’s foundational covenant, the same spirit that animated anyone from George Washington to Martin Luther King Jr., which, sadly, is the case today among so many of the guardians of our institutions. In Princeton, a long roster of distinguished professors chose July 4th as the appropriate date for a letter that begins by claiming that neither life nor liberty but “Anti-Blackness is foundational to America.” A New York Times columnist reminded his readers that the Founding Father who so boldly claimed that all men were created equal was himself a slaveholder and therefore worthy of little but contempt, and that, for the same reasons, we should now rid our parks and public squares of the likeness of George Washington as well. A potential Democratic vice presidential candidate sternly reminded us that South Dakota was stolen land, which makes Mount Rushmore not a testament to our nation’s greatness but merely one piece of evidence of its great crimes. The list goes on.
Under the watchful gaze of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt, Trump claimed loudly, unapologetically, and correctly that all these grimly revisionist statements are a threat to America’s future. He stated what all but a virulent minority of credentialed mediocrities seem to understand innately, namely that a nation engaged in a campaign to negate its essential beliefs and demolish its sacred symbols isn’t likely to survive. He said nothing that could be interpreted as curbing criticism—in fact, many of the men and women he hailed are worthy of our praise precisely because they rose, against much opposition, to urge America to be truer to its founding ideals. But to do that you must have a culture—an innately American culture—that permits and even encourages dissent. And that culture, the president correctly diagnosed, is everywhere imperiled.
America isn’t and should never be the nation where newspaper editors get fired for publishing opinions that don’t please the governing elite. America isn’t and should never be the nation where elected officials doctor data to succumb to their ideological convictions. America isn’t and should never be the nation where citizens are shunned, silenced, or fired for speaking their minds or failing to adhere to the stringencies of their superiors. And America isn’t and should never be a nation engaged not in the holy work of the perennial pursuit of justice but instead in the degenerative affliction of self-loathing and causeless blame.
“We must demand,” boomed the president, “that our children are taught once again to see America as did Reverend Martin Luther King, when he said that the Founders had signed ‘a promissory note’ to every future generation. Dr. King saw that the mission of justice required us to fully embrace our founding ideals. Those ideals are so important to us—the founding ideals. He called on his fellow citizens not to rip down their heritage, but to live up to their heritage.” This is only a divisive sentiment if you are committed not to America’s gloriously noisy culture of loud and constant argument but to a creepy conformism that suffers no deviation. And such an airless and oppressive vision, the president helpfully reminded us, has no room in the home of the brave and the land of the free.
Which, really, is why the Mount Rushmore speech was so valuable. It came as a stark reminder of what’s at stake and what’s being contested, an urgent call to choose between America—flawed, faulty, always busy being better—and something else, foreign to our foundations and terrifying for most. You may reject the president’s leadership, or decide that it did little to serve the very causes and values he so proudly hailed. You may believe his opponent will restore the nation to its senses and sensibilities, or you may fear that the Democratic Party is too far gone, seized by crazed commissars who won’t stop until they’ve taken down every monument, tarnished every reputation, and rewritten every line of history. Whatever you choose, you’d be wise to take this piece of the president’s advice: “Americans must never lose sight of this miraculous story. You should never lose sight of it, because nobody has ever done it like we have done it.”
Sunday, June 28, 2020
It's News to Us!
Bill O'Reilly, billoreilly.com
Americans are divided, angry, sad, inspired in some cases, and watchful of the Black Lives Matter Movement. This week one of its leaders proclaimed on national TV that “if this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn the system down.”
Hawk Newsome continued saying he might be talking figuratively ... or literally.
Very macho. Very provocative. Might be a threat.
Now, you would think the national press would be all over this story, trying to get accurate information about the Black Lives Matter operation to the American people, who the press is supposed to serve. I mean, this is an important story, is it not?
Mr. Newsome, who heads the New York City chapter of Black Lives Matter, is the new Huey Newton, whom the 1960’s media largely adored. Mr. Newton cofounded the Black Panther Party.
Do you know who cofounded the current Black Lives Matter organization? Bet you don’t. Because the press has totally ignored the real story regarding the BLM movement.
Three women are behind “The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation,” which is the central organization that directs policy. Alicia Garza, 39, is the chief strategic advisor. Patrisse Cullors, 36, is also a top advisor.
Finally, Opal Tometi, 36, is the third force. She works with the BLM Foundation and is also the Executive Director of the “Black Alliance for Just Immigration.” That group is associated with the “Freedom Road Socialist Organization,” a Marxist-Leninist group that has received funding from the Tides Foundation run by George Soros.
Ah, the plot thickens.
The three women who essentially run the BLM Foundation keep a very low profile. No cable news interviews for them.
Nope, these ladies are serious.
In an interview with a professor from Morgan State University, Ms. Cullors said: “Myself and Alicia (Garza) in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on ideological theories.”
So, do you think the protestors chanting “Black Lives Matter” in the streets understand what the “Black Lives Matter Global Network” really is?
And then there’s the “Thousand Currents” operation out of Oakland, California. Ever heard of it? I didn’t think so.
Because the Black Lives Matter Foundation does not have tax exempt status, at least not yet, the radical left “Thousand Currents” outfit “fiscally sponsors” BLM. The means it holds their donations, which now number in the millions. Because the non-profit “Currents” is overseeing the cash, donors are allowed to write off donations to BLM, according to the IRS.
Karl Marx would love this; a capitalist government allowing tax deductions for money earmarked to destroy it.
And so ignorant celebrities and clueless corporations benefit financially when giving money to the radical left Black Lives Matter Global Organization Foundation. Right on!
Another question. When BLM receives the donated money where does the cash wind up? Well, according to FactCheck.org, 71 percent of it goes to salaries, benefits, and “consulting fees.”
Wow! How great is this? Your mom could be a “consultant.”
Interesting, right? The Black Lives Matter organization is run by Marxists who have access to lots and lots of money.
Who knew? Certainly not anyone who follows the national press. Those “news” organizations couldn’t care less.
As long as they can virtue-signal and damage “Donald Trump’s America,” the press is happy in its laziness and apathy.
Does the truth matter?
Not to the media.
Power to the people!
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
The Triumph of the Country Mouse
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, National Review
Cities lose their charms when they’re engulfed in chaos, crime, and mobs — and run by virtue-signaling appeasers.
n Aesop’s Fables and Horace’s Satires a common classical allegory is variously retold about the country mouse and his sophisticated urban cousin.
The city-slicker mouse first visits his rustic cousin’s simple rural hole and is quickly bored and unimpressed by both the calm and the simple fare.
When the roles are soon reversed, the country cousin at first is delighted by big-city mouse’s sumptuous urban food scraps and the majestic halls where they may scuttle about. But as the crafty clawed house cat and sharp-toothed guard dogs threaten both, and the noise and bustle mount, the stressed-out country mouse scampers home — at last realizing that his unappreciated quiet and safe abode trump action and sophistication every time.
These Greek and Roman fables reflect the classical world’s paradox of not particularly enjoying life in the fetid, plague-ridden, and dangerous big cities of Athens, Rome, and Alexandria that nevertheless gave the world Socrates, Virgil, and magnificent libraries. As towns grew into metropolises, their sheen as heady places for art, literature, and cultural change began to fade. In response, the once commonplace farm and distant town were increasingly romanticized, especially in such genres as pastoralism and bucolic poetry. The escape to the country estate was the ideal of the Roman senator, the same way that the “ranch” sometimes becomes the getaway from the Washington swamp for American presidents.
Originally, city man was “astute” (asteios/astu: town) and country man a rustic agroikos or bumpkin (argoikos/agros: farm). But it was not such a simple dichotomy, as even today “urbane” is not always an unqualified compliment, and “rustic” is sometimes a grudging commendation of authenticity.
The urbane city dweller (urbanus/urbs) was also often portrayed in Roman comedy and satire as a naïve and full-of-himself fop. In contrast, the rustic bumpkin (rusticus/rus: countryside) might have been grubby and smelly. But he is also usually commonsensical, grounded, and skeptical.
Globalization, we thought, confirmed the superiority and desirability of the urban coastal mice. From Miami to Boston, they looked across the sea to the EU for guidance, not to Appalachia. Likewise, the strip from San Diego to Seattle was a rich window further westward to Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei, not looking backward upon stagnant Bakersfield, Provo, or Missoula. Winners lived as urban gentry; losers were the clingers and deplorables of the interior.
Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Hollywood, Facebook, Google, Amazon, CBS, NPR, PBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Wall Street are certainly not to be found in Kansas, South Dakota, or Arizona.
Things began to change a bit with the election of Donald Trump and his attack on Chinese mercantilism, the inequalities of globalization, open borders, and the deindustrialization of the American interior. Election-night Electoral College maps revealed high-density, blue corridors as bookends on a less settled but undeniably geographically vaster red interior. The interior, not the coasts, determined the Electoral College vote. Peter Strzok’s smelly Walmart deplorables and Barack Obama’s clingers for once seemed to have had the upper hand.
Then came the COVID-19 epidemic. Suddenly, green mass-transit rail, high-density, elevator-reliant town houses, and subways were petri dishes, in a way Wyoming, upstate New York, and the Sierra Nevada foothills were not. Translated, what was the upside of going to Greenwich, Conn., poetry readings of the latest hipster poet or buying the prints of the future Andy Warhol on Manhattan’s Upper West Side if you were either infected or locked in your cramped apartment dependent entirely on a host of previously taken-for-granted Others who brought you water, food, and power, and took out your garbage and sewage — or sometimes didn’t?
Michael Bloomberg’s slur of dumb farmers dropping seeds by rote into the ground to produce corn on autopilot suddenly seemed even dumber when boutique bread was not to be so easily had at the corner La Boulangerie.
The contagion and the lockdown led to economic catastrophe. If the cities might have fared better than the countryside in the abstract calculus of finance and stocks, the recession also gave us another, rawer glimpse of Armageddon to come. Urban services and necessities may break down, but at least in the countryside, the proverbial basics of existential survival — food, water, power, guns, and fuel — are not so tenuous.
In small towns, outlying suburbs, and farmhouses, you can grow food, have a well, pump out your own septic tank, take target practice at home, and have a gasoline tank or a generator in reserve. You can be worth $2 billion on the Magnificent Mile, but if your Gulfstream is locked down at the airport, your driver socially distanced at home, your elevator on the blink, and your food courier a day late, then you are poorer than a peasant in Nowhere, Okla. The poor in high-rises in Queens are far more vulnerable than those in rickety farmhouses in rural Ohio.
After the Trump election, the virus, the lockdown, and the recession, then came the looting, street violence, and arson of the protests that spiraled out of control after the initial demonstrations over the horrific death of George Floyd while in police custody. America saw that in extremis blue-city mayors and police chiefs would virtue-signal away the public’s own safety, to veneer either their own bias, fright, or impotence.
The country’s major cities — New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington, Philadelphia, and others — experienced not just mass fire and theft but state-sanctioned or de facto allowances of both. Police departments either could not — or would not — stop the stealing and burning. And officers on the beat often blamed their mayors and governors, who characteristically contextualized the violence, either because they felt they could do nothing about it or they wanted to do nothing about it, or they saw that excusing it was the more persuasive political narrative, at least in the short term. A family in the country may be two hours away from the rural constable, but when armed, it has some recourse against the nocturnal intruder, in a way that someone locked down in an apartment in gun- and ammunition-controlled Queens, with a politically beleaguered police force, does not.
On the national level, blue-state congressional representatives and senators treated chaos in city streets in the same way they had earlier packaged the epidemic, lockdown, and recession: more mayhem that could be blamed on Donald Trump and that would thus accomplish in November 2020 what Robert Mueller, Ukraine, and impeachment did not. Suddenly millions without masks reminded us that shouting about endemic and systematic racism exempted one from the quarantine — though Donald Trump’s flag-waving crowds did not enjoy the same privilege. The urbane who quoted “science” chapter and verse manufactured all sorts of pseudoscientific exegeses about how storming into restaurants to shout down patrons and strolling through burning and smoke-filled Walmarts to loot for hours were permissible indoor social congregations, while going to a peaceful indoor Trump rally was Typhoid Mary recklessness.
For many liberal urban dwellers, all the violence, filth, dependency, plague, incompetence, and sermonizing were no longer worth the salaries earned from globalized high-tech and finances. Even the city’s retro, gentrified neighborhoods, its internationalism and sophistication in food, drink, and entertainment, its cultural diversity, and its easy accessibility to millions of similarly enlightened liberals with superior tastes and tolerance began to wear. When stores go up in flames, or the 58th floor comes down with the coronavirus, or Mayor de Blasio plays “Imagine” to illustrate why there are no police on the streets, then who cares about the intellectual stimulation that supposedly comes by osmosis from the nation’s tony universities anchored in cities or their nearby suburbs?
Increasingly over the past four months, millions of city folk have discovered that the police are as essential as water, food, sewage, and gasoline. Without them, life reverts not to a summer of love but more often to the Lord of the Flies and Deadwood. The urban hipster and marketing executive discovered that a spark somewhere 2,000 miles away can ignite their own neighborhood, and all the kneeling, foot-washing, and social-media virtue-signaling won’t bring safety or food.
For the boutique owner, whose store was looted, defaced, and burned, the existential crisis was not just that capital and income were lost, and a lifetime investment wiped out, after the earlier one-two-three punch of plague/quarantine/depression.
Instead, the rub was that the urban store owner and his customer grasped that all that mayhem could easily happen again and on a moment’s notice — and the ensuing losses would once again be written off as the regrettable collateral damage that is sometimes necessary to “effect social change.” When the mayor and police look the other way as the mob carries off Louis Vuitton bags, and CNN reporters assure us of peaceful protests while flames engulf our television screens, why rebuild or restore what the authorities and the influential deem expendable? Why live in Detroit in 1970 when a constant 1967 repeat was supposed to be a tolerable cost of doing business there?
A Mayor de Blasio or Durkan and a Governor Inslee or Newsom were more or less indifferent when “brick-and-mortar” livelihoods were wiped out. Observably, they expressed very little outrage. Preventing the recurrence of anarchy might alienate the looters and burners, and especially their appeasers and contextualizers.
Add it all up, and as the country mouse of old learned, the giddiness and opulence of the city are increasingly not worth the danger, noise, and mess of the city, at least after February 2020. There are simply too many claws and too many sharp teeth to justify the rich crumbs from the opulent table.
There is another force-multiplier of urban disenchantment: In the age of Zoom and Skype, the bustle of the city may not be able to be fully replicated, and the drama of the live classroom relived, but tele-business still can be conducted well enough without having to navigate around the feces of Market Street, or the looting, shouting, and burning of Seattle. If one wishes to endure watching the torching of the Oakland Mercedes-Benz dealership, one can do it on YouTube in Red Bluff without smelling the burning plastic four blocks away. And when the NFL coaches take the knee this fall during the National Anthem, it will be far more out of sight and out of mind in Hawthorne, Calif., than when living in Silicon Valley.
With downloads, social media, and instant visual communications, the sanitized version of the city can be used well enough by the county dweller. It is of course not the city, but a workable facsimile that means not flying into JFK, or navigating West Hollywood, or staying in a hotel in Chicago.
The cities are broke — a fact that will be more widely appreciated when they return to “normal.” They are no longer even marginally clean and safe, and their police nationwide will calculate that it is not worth getting killed, being fired, spat upon, or put in prison to answer a 911 call.
Our big cities are governed by a blue paradigm that fairly or not will now be increasingly synonymous with crime, debt, and high taxes that ensure bad services. Most city dwellers by needs and habit will still stay there.
But millions will increasingly seek to avoid cities and will appreciate their virtual upsides from a distance without having to endure their real downsides.
Wherever we live, in our dreams at least, we are all country mice now.
NRO contributor VICTOR DAVIS HANSON is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump. @vdhanson
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Defund the Police: A Modest Proposal
Mike Walker, Col USMC (ret)
So apparently millions of Americans want to defund the police.
OK, I am enough of a libertarian to support their position…
…but I am also enough of a libertarian not want to impose that decision on everyone else. What to do?
Think back to the Roman Republic days of Spartacus! Roughly speaking, back then the fire department was for hire.
If you bought a fire insurance policy then the fire department came as soon as you asked. If you didn’t pay then putting out the fire was your problem.
The fire department also would respond to put out the fire for those who had not bought a policy but for a hefty price to be paid up front.
Lets do that with police coverage!
If you are a die-hard police “defunder” (pun intended) then you do not have to pay for the police and in turn you get no police protection.
If you want police protection then you buy it like say…car insurance:
I mean like you could buy the basic Bronze Plan* that includes 24-7 local police protection (detective and/or crime lab and crime scene investigator services available for additional fees and charges).
Silver* gets you both 24-7 local police and country sheriff protection – and for an upgrade to a Gold Plan* add in detective services and the State Police/Highway Patrol plus affordable co-pay crime lab and crime scene investigator services.
*SWAT, Hostage Rescue Team, and Crisis Negotiators sold separately.
For those absolutely wanting top-of-the-line coverage, the Platinum Plan** provides everything in the Gold Plan plus the State Bureau of Investigation and police EMT services (where available), all law enforcement agency detectives, crime labs and investigators (even district attorney investigators) and in case of civil disturbance or natural disaster, support from your National Guard and all with NO CO-PAYS!
**SWAT, Hostage Rescue Team, and Crisis Negotiators INCLUDED!
SPECIAL NOTE: Police security for elected officials handled separately on a "volunteer only" case-by-case basis.
Everything would be tracked through an improved 911 System.
If are a “defunder” with second thoughts and in need of help all you have to do is call 911 or go on line at the 911 website with credit card in hand and you can purchase a year’s worth of coverage over the phone or on line and only pay a 30% surcharge.
Once your payment is verified the dispatcher will send the next available law enforcement officer included in your plan to your location.
That's the ticket! (again, pun intended)
P.S. As for me, sign me up for the Platinum Plan.