Greatness Agenda

Trump Is Saving NATO, Not Threatening It

We’ve all been the victim of an information operation directed at us by the Washington foreign policy “Blob.”

Since announcing his bid for the presidency in 2015, Donald Trump has been slaughtering many sacred cows, none as precious as those in foreign policy—a category dominated by what former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes accurately described as “The Blob.”

That is why the Blob went along with former President Barack Obama’s hapless quest to besmirch Trump’s name by falsely accusing him of being Putin’s patsy. Everything for the Blob has to be framed in the context of Obama’s great lie about Trump and Russia. Therefore, anything Trump does on foreign policy is suspect (unless it’s bombing more Mideast countries or killing 200 Russian mercenaries in eastern Syria, as he did two years ago).

For instance, the president has been in an ongoing spat with Germany, a key NATO partner. For years, Trump has sought to coax Germany (and other NATO countries) into paying the minimum 2 percent of their national GDPs on defense, as the North Atlantic Treaty requires. But these European states have opted to pay the bare minimum for NATO membership while redirecting their money into massive welfare states.

Europeans assessed that the Americans would do the fighting and dying against any potential Russian invasion while they would live comfortably, thanks to all of the money they saved from not having to pay for their own defense. At a time when the traditional NATO members, such as Germany, are obsessed with the threat of a resurgent Russia, these same European states are welching on their commitments to the alliance.

More galling is Germany’s unapologetic reliance on Russian natural gas, a key strategic lever that Moscow routinely uses to impose its will upon Europe. President Trump has been understandably irate by the blasé attitude Berlin takes toward its supposedly sacrosanct commitments to NATO while America remains on the hook for everything.

This summer, President Trump decided that he needed to change the calculus.

Trump ordered nearly 12,000 U.S. forces out of Germany. After this “stunning” announcement, suddenly, unconfirmed sources within the intelligence community leaked to the press that those pesky Russians had placed bounties on the heads of U.S. troops fighting the Pentagon’s hopeless and endless war in Afghanistan.

Supposedly, a particularly vicious unit of Russia’s intelligence services paid elements of the Taliban to kill U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. It was all very salacious. On top of that, these unnamed sources within the Blob accused the president of refusing to discuss the matter with Putin.

And, just like that, the media narrative shifted. It was no longer about how Trump was trying to hold Germany’s feet to the fire to be a better NATO partner (which, of course, is precisely what Trump was doing). The narrative now was about how dangerous Trump is as president in that he clearly wants to do Putin’s bidding. That, these unknown sources deep within America’s elephantine defense community claim, is proof that the removal of U.S. forces from Germany is to benefit Russia . . . or something.

As for the “intelligence” that Trump ignored Russian bounties on U.S. forces in Afghanistan: it was unvetted. Remember, the last time a U.S. president acted upon raw intelligence, America ended up invading Iraq in a quixotic search for weapons of mass destruction. It is, therefore, rare for raw intelligence to be passed on to the president. Even if it had been, as some sources claim, it was hardly actionable. And the idea that Trump would float such uncorroborated claims to Putin is an absurd expectation.

What you haven’t heard is that the bulk of U.S. forces being removed from Germany are moving to newer bases in Poland and will be fully funded by Poland.

So, not only has Poland been living up to their NATO commitments, but they will be paying the Americans for their time (unlike Germany)!

Trump isn’t weakening NATO at all. He’s rewarding the few states, such as Poland, for being strong and reliable allies and punishing those deadbeat members, like wealthy Germany, for skimping (as any landlord would do).

Neither is Trump serving Russian interests by removing U.S. forces from Germany. By moving the bulk of those forces out of Germany and into Poland, the new frontier with Russia, Trump is complicating Russian designs for that region.

Since many of the former Obama Administration’s lackeys remain firmly enmeshed in the Blob today (they are likely the source of these leaks aimed at President Trump), it is important to remember that one of Obama’s first acts as president was to remove the ground-based ballistic missile defense system that former President George W. Bush had promised to Poland.

In effect, Obama neutered Poland and actually weakened NATO in the face of a militarily resurgent Russia.

Trump is now moving large numbers of Americans into Poland with an implied threat to Moscow: any move on Poland will risk a direct U.S. military response.

And unlike the Germans, the Poles will have America’s back. So the last thing that Putin wants is to have American tripwires just a few hundred miles away from his border, as will be the case once those forces have moved fully into Poland.

We’ve all been the victim of an information operation directed at us by the Blob in Washington. They don’t care about the lives of U.S. service members who’ve supposedly been targeted by Russia and the Taliban in Afghanistan. If they truly cared about those lives, they wouldn’t be supporting the continuation of the wasteful American war there. In fact, this has been an example of provocation: these unnamed insiders have attempted to provoke the ire of the American people against Trump (as well as Russia). And they’ve done all of this just so they can protect their little fiefdom—even at the expense of actual U.S. defense and economic interests.

Greatness Agenda

Poland’s Geopolitical Future and America’s Role In It

Germany and Russia will do everything they can to overturn the existing pro-American balance of power. Is the United States ready to confront that?

The greatest significance of the recent victory of President Andrzej Duda of Poland in the presidential election over his liberal and pro-German opponent is international, not domestic. Poland is where the clash of geopolitical futures is occurring right now among the top world powers.

Russia dominated Poland until the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and it is trying to preserve remnants of its influence. Germany acquired a position of dominance in the early 1990s. It made many business investments in Poland to produce inputs for German industry, and 28 percent of Polish trade is with Germany. It also invested in the politics of Poland with numerous grants to Polish organizations, scholarships, and cultural programs. This symbiosis was agreeable to both countries and peaked with Poland’s 2004 admittance to the European Union. It was a great boon to Poland’s economic development but now the EU increasingly is regarded as a heavy-handed tool of Germany. 

The biggest disagreement between Poland and Germany concerns Russia. This conflict demonstrates itself in numerous issues such as NATO, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and many others. Poland pays its 2 percent of GDP NATO requirement, loves America, and is positive about the presence of U.S. troops, while Germany spends little on defense, has an army that is far from fighting status, and fosters anti-Americanism. Germany is constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to become a distribution hub of Russian natural gas in Europe, which will increase its vulnerability to Russian blackmail. Poland is constructing pipelines and LNG terminals within the Three Seas Initiative to free Eastern Europe of the Russian natural gas monopoly and to import it from elsewhere, mainly the United States.

Polish people also remember the 1981 German support for the imposition of martial law in Poland and its lack of contribution to overcoming communism in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. 

All this was tolerable until Russia invaded Ukraine and the Law and Justice Party won the parliamentary election in 2015. Poland felt very insecure and demanded that NATO establish a real presence in Eastern Europe—not just a formal membership—and resolutely oppose Russian machinations on its western borders. In view of the German attitude toward Russia, the Polish government turned to the United States, especially after the election of Donald Trump as president. 

During his term in office, Trump significantly strengthened NATO, opposed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and endorsed the Three Seas Initiative to build infrastructure in Eastern Europe. He also supported including Poland in the Visa Waiver Program to allow Poles to visit and do business in the United States. Currently, the Polish government is negotiating a new Defense Cooperation Agreement and terms of transfer of some U.S. troops from Germany to Poland. 

The reelection of President Duda allows the continuation of a generally strong Polish-U.S. relationship, strengthening of the Western alliance and building up Eastern Europe as an independent entity between Germany and Russia.

This does not fit well with German designs and Germany does not consider the matter closed. Though Germany is disappointed that the pro-German opposition candidate did not win the presidency, despite the subtle assistance provided to him (German corporations own 80 percent of Polish local press, and other media outlets), they are not giving up on other possibilities of influence. The first question they asked after the election is whether President Duda will remain aligned with the Law and Justice government and its policies. 

A few years ago, precisely after 45 minutes of telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Duda vetoed key government legislation on judicial reform. Obviously, he could be persuaded again to undercut the Polish government agenda. Further, after his last term in office, he might desire to have a career in the European Union institutions and only Germany can assure him of that, just as they appointed former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to high-level EU jobs.

Another avenue for German influence is the recent appointment of a new German ambassador to Poland who is a former deputy chief of the BND, Germany’s intelligence service, and former head of NATO intelligence. His father was a Wehrmacht officer during World War II who served on the Eastern front in Poland and Russia and was airlifted out of the siege of Stalingrad to become an officer in Hitler’s command headquarters. One would think this appointment might seem a bit insensitive to the Poles. The appointment of such a high-level official from intelligence services shows Germany means business.

Thus, the reelection of President Duda is a vote for a close relationship with the United States and the strengthening of NATO, as well as national and regional independence. But will it stay this way? Germany and Russia will do everything they can to overturn the existing pro-American balance of power. Is the United States ready to confront that?

Greatness Agenda

In New Jersey, Illegal Immigration Rules the Day

Governor Phil Murphy’s policies provide a blueprint of what America would look like if far-left Democrats take control of Congress and the White House.

Governor Phil Murphy’s policies provide a blueprint of what America would look like if far-left Democrats take control of Congress and the White House

Fox News recently reported, “New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign legislation passed in the State Assembly Thursday that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain professional and occupational licenses in the state.” In signing this bill, Murphy spits in the faces of the state’s lawful citizens and, once again, shows that he gives deference to those who are in the nation illegally over the nation’s citizens and legal immigrants.

The bill would allow immigrants, regardless of their status, to apply for professional and occupational licenses in New Jersey if they meet all other requirements. According to Alyana Alfaro, a Murphy spokeswoman:

Governor Murphy believes that immigrants are a critical part of the fabric of life in New Jersey, and that they should not face unnecessary barriers as they seek to participate in our society and economy.

In other words, Murphy intends to sign a bill that makes no distinctions between legal and illegal immigration. Borders and lawful procedures for immigration are meaningless to him. 

Not only is Murphy placing the needs of illegal immigrants above those of American citizens and legal immigrants, he is also hurting the state’s economy and jeopardizing the health and safety of its citizens.

Already there are more than 1.3 million unemployed individuals in New Jersey who are suffering as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns,” said Shari Randall, the state and local engagement director for the Federation for Immigration Reform. “Providing occupational or professional licenses to those in the country illegally incentivizes more illegal immigration.” 

“With high unemployment, the legislative focus should have been targeted to unemployed citizens and legal immigrants in New Jersey who desperately need to go back to work, instead of encouraging more illegal immigration,” Randall added.

While 8 U.S. Code Section 1621 precludes illegal aliens from receiving commercial or professional licenses, Section (d) of this same law allows a state to enact a state law that affirmatively provides for such eligibility, which is what Murphy intends to do. 

But at a time when the nation is reeling from unprecedented economic catastrophe as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns, what can Murphy and other Democrats be thinking in rewarding illegal immigrants at the expense of our own citizens and legal residents?

Sadly, Murphy has a long record of doing exactly that. He pushed to grant driver’s licenses to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants. He previously indicated that New Jersey would become a “sanctuary state if need be” to protect law-abiding residents, whatever their immigration status. 

Additionally, Murphy’s sanctuary state policies and his Immigrant Trust Directive have seriously eroded the powers of law enforcement. Murphy’s policies have limitedthe circumstances under which state, county and local police officers may cooperate in federal immigration enforcement,” thereby protecting illegal immigrants at the expense of others within the state, sometimes leading to tragic results. 

Murphy also signed legislation limiting the right to bear arms which, says former Governor Chris Christie, made New Jersey “as inhospitable as possible to lawful gun ownership and sales.”

Murphy’s policies have made New Jersey a hotbed for illegal immigration and lawlessness in general. Rather than pushing for legislation that would allow for more legal immigration, Murphy has chosen to reward those who are in the country illegally at the expense of the state’s citizens and lawful immigrants. In essence, these policies are a slap in the face to all law-abiding New Jersey residents and provide a blueprint of what America would look like if the far-left Democrats take control of Congress and the White House.   

Greatness Agenda

Let’s Not Ignore Amazon

If conservatives want to defend the principles that made America great, they need to see the online retail giant as a serious problem.

Congress hauled in the titans of Silicon Valley for a hearing last week. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Apple’s Tim Cook all faced withering questions about their censorship, alleged monopolies, and ties to China. But one tech exec was largely ignored throughout the hearing: Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.

For nearly two hours, none of the lawmakers bothered asking the richest man in the world a question. Bezos spent that time eating snacks from his remote location (the tech execs appeared before Congress via video). When lawmakers did ask him questions, he proved evasive and ill-informed about the issues. For instance, he refused to give clear answers about Amazon’s practices that stifle competition, simply saying: “Consumers are the ones ultimately making the decisions about what to buy, what price to buy at, and whom to buy from.”

Most of the lawmakers who asked Bezos tough questions were Democrats concerned with Amazon’s alleged abuse of consumer data and monopolistic practices. One Republican, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, did ask hard questions about Amazon’s relations with the far-left smear machine dubiously known as the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bezos weakly said that Amazon’s reliance on the SPLC is “imperfect” and he would like a better source to track “extremism.” Gaetz insisted that Amazon divorce itself from donating to and relying on the SPLC.

It’s unfortunate more Republican lawmakers didn’t show interest in Amazon. While it’s good Republicans grilled Google and Facebook about their nefarious practices, they shouldn’t overlook Amazon. Like most tech giants, Amazon operates as a monopoly, wields its immense power to crush the competition, and is thoroughly left-wing. 

Bezos has raked in billions during the coronavirus epidemic. This is likely due to his company prioritizing its own products to the disadvantage of its competitors. Millions of people relied on Amazon to deliver them essential goods during the lockdown. Amazon, strangely, only offered quick delivery on its own products while hiding faster delivery options for third-party products. Obviously, this encouraged consumers to go with Amazon products. The tech giant claims this benefit to its bottom line is an unintentional error.

Amazon controls the majority of the streaming stick market in the country. Unsurprisingly, it uses this market dominance to snuff out streaming competitors. Its streaming stick, Amazon Fire, blocks HBO Max and Peacock from its service. Both of those streaming services are direct rivals to Amazon Prime, which is the second-largest streaming service in the world. Amazon wants to ensure consumers select their products, so it blocks out the competition.

Most conservatives are aware of how Google, Facebook, and other tech giants bend the knee to the Left and censor conservatives. Less attention is paid to Amazon’s own bias and censorship. 

There is the troubling fact of Amazon’s connections to the SPLC, which regularly smears conservatives and Christians. Amazon relies on the SPLC for its Amazon Smile program, which donates 0.5 percent of eligible purchases to a nonprofit picked by the consumer. The SPLC aids Amazon in determining which nonprofits would be eligible for these donations. This arrangement leaves most right-leaning groups at a serious disadvantage.

Conservatives should be very concerned that the world’s largest internet company gives so much power to a discredited left-wing group. 

Amazon also censors conservative opinions. The popular anti-mainstream media documentary, “Hoaxed, was banned from Amazon Prime in the spring, despite ranking among the top-50 most-watched documentaries. It’s not a mystery why the owner of the Washington Post would not want such a documentary on his service. 

Amazon temporarily blocked the sales of Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns by independent journalist Alex Berenson in June. The book countered many of the mainstream media narratives about the virus. Amazon only reversed its ban in response to public backlash. Amazon-owned Twitch banned President Trump in June over allegations he engages in “hateful conduct.” Twitch asserted the president’s criticism of illegal immigrant crime is too hateful for its service. It reversed the ban two weeks later. 

Conservatives who worry about China’s treatment of ethnic minorities should also know that Amazon’s chain supply factories in the Communist state rely on Uighur slave labor.

Many people enjoy Amazon’s many services and the company is one of the most trusted institutions in America. Yet, we need not let Amazon’s cool gadgets distract us from what the company really is. It’s a monopoly that has accumulated far too much power and control over the market. It can determine whether a book or movie is available to the public. It can stifle competition with ease and ensure the supposedly free market always plays to its favor. 

If conservatives want to defend the principles that made America great, they need to see Amazon as a serious problem.

Greatness Agenda

The Normal Is Not New

The year which elected Donald Trump, and pried Great Britain from the European Union, remains the ultimate expression of normal people and their desire for wholly normal politics.

It’s fitting in this year of fires, floods, pandemics, and protests, that Bono would say something sensible.

Usually, whatever the U2 frontman has to say is about as welcome to my ear canal as the flesh-eating screwworm, an African parasite so invasive its demented host often commits suicide. Which I would imagine is how locked-down Italians felt when Bono released a piano ballad in tribute to their coronavirus plight. I’d rather the screwworm. 

Yet, in this grand swirl of time, it’s vaguely comforting to hear the odd spout of sense. Here in Great Britain, common sense is not exactly du jour

The latest bout of nonsense involves banning smoking outdoors. It’s on par with Governor Gavin Newsom’s edict that Californians insane enough to go out for a beer can adequately shield themselves from the coronavirus if they order a pizza, but not pizza bites

Yet, common sense can erupt from the most uncommon of springs. Bono’s campaign group “One” last week joined conservative attacks on the progressive cause celebre of foreign aid. The gist: foreign aid needs a “refocus.” Too much money is spent on doing too little. 

Indeed, a recent study found one-sixth of foreign aid ends up swelling Swiss bank accounts. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab later announced a £3 billion ($3.9 billion) cut. 

If Bono thinks we are bleeding money, then a rumble on the scale of Chernobyl’s reactor four trembles underfoot. 

And tremble it does. Buried in an annual report, the folly of foreign aid basked in chemical glow: British taxpayers sent China £71 million ($93 million) in one year to help Chinese firms compete with British rivals. 

Yes, many of those whom we deign to call “essential workers” send obscene amounts of their money to the world’s second-largest economy. And one that makes no secret of its ambition to replace the United States as the world’s superpower. 

Government departments in 2018 funneled around £100 million ($130 million) to the China Prosperity Fund, a scheme that fritters money to “address market failures and weaknesses that impede China’s inclusive growth.” It’s like making an annual donation to the Arsonists Longevity Trust. 

China, through malice or mistake or a meld of the two, caused this monumental mess. Hundreds of millions on house arrest, millions out of work, and succor to every petty tyrant with working lungs. 

Perhaps you’ll agree this year hasn’t been a lunchtime bottle of Malbec. 

Yet, they could have stopped it. The Chinese government saw fit to stop the internal spread of the virus from Wuhan. That prudence didn’t extend to the rest of the world. 

After all, Beijing remains economical with the truth. 

This is particularly poignant in light of a CGTV (China Global Television Network) broadcast which suggested Coronavirus could be the straw to break the populist camel’s back. 

“Can Covid-19 beat populism?” is not a headline plucked from the Twitter-in-print New York Times, but rather Chinese state media. 

Perhaps, this all sounds a touch tinfoil-hat. Yet, it is not conspiratorial to say the Chinese government has taken advantage of a pandemic that it, for vital months, covered up. 

And that’s not to mention their attempts to hack vaccine research, desperate no doubt to hold the rest of us to ransom. 

Now, they’re back up and running. And we cannot decide whether the mask is sensible or seditious.

It’s the grotesque garb of the “new normal” we hear so much about. That wretched future in which China might as well have won. 

But China hasn’t won. Neither have the “mostly peaceful” rioters swamping the streets. 

In 2016 we took the first step toward what millions regard as The Normal. The year which elected Donald Trump, and pried Great Britain from the European Union, remains the ultimate expression of normal people and their desire for wholly normal politics

For decades, policy on China, on immigration, on foreign aid, was abnormal. All reflective of the narcissistic whims of a tiny elite still demented from the events of 2016. 

These grand theories, all couched in phony “inevitability,” had the longevity of a Chinese umbrella—bending beneath the winds of reality. 

Those winds continue to blow. Though certainly imperfect, we now have leaders who fight for the common sense of ordinary Britons and Americans. For the first time in my three-and-a-bit decades, those I voted for tend to do things I agree should be done. 

One of those things is not handing out taxpayers’ money to a country that doesn’t play by the rules. And who indeed desires a future of which I want no part. 

After all, this latest Chinese import banjaxed the West. Once this pandemic recedes (my guess is November 4, funnily enough) someone will have to pay the bartender, with tip. That shouldn’t mean the next five years need be a bleak hangover of higher taxes on those who’ve kept things ticking, grabbing at low-hanging fruit, or the lavishing of billions in foreign aid to countries who not only can afford to foot the bill, but often own the bar. We paid last time. And we are still paying for the financial meltdown of 2008. A catastrophe I’m old enough to remember being billed as “once-in-a-generation.”

Perhaps that money could be spent better elsewhere. It could go some way to correcting a 30-year assault on people it was once assumed didn’t matter all that much—the “forgotten” who were sacrificed for cheaper TVs and corporate profits. 

These are the same people we now deem “essential workers.” The ones who’ve kept our countries on their feet while the rest of us slummed inside thanks to the latest noisome Chinese import. 

Would that proposition be a touch too sensible? Yes. But this is The Normal, and it is certainly not new. 

Greatness Agenda

Tedros Exposes Another Disease the WHO Can’t Cure

This little man from nowhere has nothing to tell us about the China virus. He has a lot to tell us about how our body politic is ailing from a weakened immune system.

In a short video posted this month, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tells us what we must do to deal with the Chinese coronavirus.

What he actually reveals is the pathology afflicting the World Health Organization and our own body politic.

Here’s the not-so-good advice the not-a-medical-doctor offers:

There will be no return to the “old normal” for the foreseeable future. But there is a roadmap to a situation where we can control the disease and get on with our lives.

But this is going to require three things.

First, a focus on reducing mortality and suppressing transmission. Second, an empowered engaged community that takes individual behavior measures in the interest of each other.

And third, we need strong government leadership and coordinated comprehensive strategies that are communicated clearly and consistently. It can be done. It must be done.

I have said it before and I will keep saying it. We weren’t prepared collectively. But we must use all the tools we have collectively to bring this pandemic under control. And we need to do it right now. 

Together we must accelerate the science as quickly as possible, find joint solutions to COVID-19 and through solidarity build a cohesive global response. Science, solutions, and solidarity.

Let’s unpack.

The first questions a reasonable person would ask are: “Who is this guy?” and “Why should we listen to him?” 

Tedros is not a medical doctor (unlike all the previous WHO directors-general). He is a politician from an underdeveloped country, a member of the Maoist Tigray People’s Liberation Front who has been credibly accused of covering up multiple cholera outbreaks as health minister of Ethiopia. 

This résumé exemplifies how WHO has become primarily a political rather than a health organization. Tedros was not selected for the position by doctors. He was “elected” by a majority of the WHO member states. Many of these countries are corrupt autocracies you wouldn’t visit even with medevac insurance. 

The “election” process gives Niue (population 1,612) an equal vote with the United States (population 330 million). But that’s not the real problem. Rather than an election as Americans understand the term, it is a Persian bazaar where votes are sold to the highest bidder without even a pretext of honesty, integrity, or good faith. Tedros had the highest bidder of them all on his side, the Chinese Communist Party.

For further evidence of the political nature of this “health” agency, consider what CCP-loving New York Times health reporter Don McNeill revealed about the priorities of Maoist apparatchik Tedros: 

He promised as the head of W.H.O. to pursue health insurance in even the poorest nations, strengthen emergency responses and make the agency more accountable and transparent.

He backs greater access to birth control and preventive care for women and is committed to having more gender and ethnic diversity in the agency. He also has promised to fight the health effects of climate change. 

Universal health insurance, birth control, diversity, climate change—the priorities of the elites in the Gates Foundation and wealthy donor nations the WHO hits up for money. 

Tedros brought more diversity by appointing the mad butcher of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, as special WHO ambassador. But the China virus exposed just how miserably he failed on emergency response, transparency, and accountability.

Like any good politician, Tedros cloaks his intentions with an impermeable layer of meaningless words. 

Rather than a cure, the spin-doctor offers a “roadmap to a situation.” Is the “situation” an automobile accident this roadmap will take us to? The situation is more like a house, where we can “get on with our lives.” It’s like those roadside signs that advertise “if you lived here you’d be home now.” Tedros butchers clear language as effectively as Mugabe butchered his opponents.

But wait—to get this roadmap we must become “an empowered engaged community that takes individual behavior measures in the interest of each other.”

This jargon is entirely in line with Marxist philosophy and lingo. And so are the fake doctor’s other prescriptions—“strong government leadership,” “coordinated comprehensive strategies” (centralization) and “solidarity.”

He doesn’t tell us to what “coordinated comprehensive strategies” and “cohesive global response” the road map leads. We’re just supposed to nod along approvingly, in solidarity, because it all sounds so impressive, so “sciencey” or something.

Closer examination reveals “a cohesive global response” could mean anything, and therefore nothing. A program of national self-reliance for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, dispersing production of these essential goods among as many countries as possible, would be “a cohesive global response.” Considering Tedros’ background and chief patron, it’s a safe bet that is not the global response he has in mind. 

So the key question: Why do we listen to him?

He’s not a doctor. You wouldn’t trust him to check a sore throat but yet we’re supposed to trust him with the health of the world? 

He’s a third-rate politician from a fifth-rate country who was never elected to anything by Americans, and he doesn’t answer to anyone who was. That’s not even how things work in Peoria, but we’ll turn our entire country over to him? 

There was time, not very long ago, no self-respecting red-blooded American would accept the word of an unelected, unknown nobody from a corrupt country you’d never want to live in. 

Now our elites shower him with praise and money. They hang on his every word as received wisdom. Big Tech oligarchs give him veto power over the information Americans can read and hear. 

That so many people now unquestioningly take advice from this empty suit shows how far down the rabbit hole of globalist technocracy we’ve gone. 

The problem is not simply that we have surrendered power to unelected bureaucrats in faraway places. 

The problem is how thoroughly we’ve been trained to accept expert authorities, whoever they are. Give someone a title, a credential, an advanced degree and we automatically accept they know best. 

We have surrendered faith in our ability to make decisions for ourselves—to think for ourselves. 

Such faith is the foundation for self-government on the personal and the community level. 

It’s what confers immunity against infection by authoritarianism.

This little man from nowhere has nothing to tell us about the China virus. He has a lot to tell us about how our body politic is ailing from a weakened immune system. 

That’s a disease the WHO won’t cure. As Tedros shows in his video, he’d rather not.

Greatness Agenda

Trump Should Stay the Course on Drug Pricing Order

Americans shouldn’t have to be overcharged for their drugs because Congress can’t get its act together and fix the program.

The Trump Administration on Friday took a dramatic step to break Big Pharma’s hold on American drug prices in Medicare Part B, announcing an executive order aimed at drastically reducing the costs of the most expensive Medicare drugs by linking them to the lowest-cost available in countries similar to ours.

The order is designed to address a quirk in the Medicare Part B system which allows drug companies to set the price of drugs in the program (largely infusion drugs—the type administered in a doctor’s office for rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, macular degeneration, and so forth).

In the absence of a competitive marketplace to determine drug prices, as is done in Medicare Part D, Medicare Part B allows the drug companies to charge whatever they want, and taxpayers foot the bill. As U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar described it, “It’s just a really stupid way to set prices. It says ‘Hey, manufacturer, invent whatever list price you want, and we’ll pay a 6 percent premium on top of that.’”

The effect of this has been billions more in spending by the taxpayer—over $30 billion a year—both because the pharmaceutical industry sets the price, but also because doctors get a 6 percent commission on infusions that is tied to the average price of the drug; the more expensive the drug, the higher the commission.

But it has also created a situation in which Americans pay far more for the same drug than our European counterparts. In 2018, President Trump explained it this way:

For decades, other countries have rigged the system so that American patients are charged much more—and in some cases, much, much more—for the exact same drug. In other words, Americans pay more, so that other countries can pay less.

On average, the United States pays 180 percent more than the international price for the same drugs. In some cases, it’s more than 400 percent. This is primarily because, while the drug companies have to negotiate their rates in Europe, here in the U.S. they’re allowed to set their own prices almost exclusively. The incentive for drug companies is obvious—cut a deal for the Europeans, and make up the rest from American senior citizens. 

Trump’s executive order removes the ability of Big Pharma to write what amounts to billion-dollar blank checks to themselves, paid for by American seniors and taxpayers. By testing out both the cost-saving and clinical effects of having Medicare match the lowest price among economically comparable countries, it effectively tells Big Pharma: we’ll have what they’re having.  

It’s Not Price Fixing When It Was Already Price Fixing

Many on the Right vehemently oppose the president’s actions, charging that it is “price-fixing,” or “importing socialist price controls.” They claim it will gut biopharmaceutical innovation and reduce access to drugs for seniors. 

But implicit in these claims is the assumption that there is a free market that must be protected. There isn’t one. Medicare Part B already has price-fixing—and price controls!—it’s just that now Big Pharma is exclusively setting those prices, and the government is dutifully accepting them.

Moreover, a “free market” would be one in which the government has the ability to walk away from the negotiating table. That’s not the case in Medicare Part B, where the government pays for all FDA-approved drugs, regardless of price, or clinical value. And in case you haven’t recently examined the labyrinthine thicket of laws and regulations that make up Medicare, it’s full of European-style, government-administered price controls. 

It’s also not entirely accurate to say that the order “imports socialism.” Health care expert Avik Roy has ably pointed out the holes in that argument—namely, that not all European economies impose price controls, and many of those countries do not have access problems to drugs. 

Pharma companies will hardly be at a loss for research and development funds as a result of this change. The demand won’t change; just the ability of Big Pharma to arbitrage the U.S. market will, and as a result, Europe might have to pay a little bit more for the R&D from which they benefit. Currently, America’s premier medical research arm, the National Institutes of Health, is funded at twice the level of all the OECD nations combined. 

Regardless, the arguments shade the ultimate truth of the matter: European countries pay less than Americans do for the same drugs, and it’s because Medicare Part Bour own government drug program—allows and encourages Big Pharma to charge Americans more. A lot more. 

Will Trump See It Through?

Reports suggest that the executive order, in announcing the change as a “demonstration program,” was watered down from the sweeping changes the administration conceived originally. The order gives the pharmaceutical industry the chance to “suggest an alternative plan” to lower drug prices—which is D.C.-speak for a furious lobbying effort to undermine exactly what the Trump Administration is trying to do.

Trump should resist any efforts to diminish his ultimate goal: to stop multinational drug companies from taking billions of dollars in subsidies while charging Americans more for drugs than any other country in the world.

While it’s not a perfect solution—that would be something along the lines of reforming Medicare itself—Americans shouldn’t have to be overcharged for their drugs because Congress can’t get its act together and fix the program. Big Pharma, of all industries, doesn’t need to be subsidized by American-style healthcare corporatism. The Trump Administration should stay this course.

Greatness Agenda

Communist China: A History Lesson for Mark Cuban

To virtue-signaling corporatists, black lives matter but Chinese lives do not.

Recently, in what constitutes the modern equivalent of an old-fashioned Texas showdown, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban met in the middle of the Twitter community’s Main Street and exchanged fire.

The genesis of the dispute was conservative talk radio host Mark Davis’ statement that he would be “out” if Mavericks players took a knee during the national anthem in a show of support for the Black Lives Matters movement. Not surprisingly, Cuban defended his players by responding to Davis with “Bye.” 

Not surprisingly, too, Senator Cruz took exception to Cuban’s cavalier attitude toward Texans who believe kneeling for the national anthem is disrespectful. This led to Cuban questioning Cruz’s manhood. Cruz responded in kind.

Though initially about the anthem controversy, the most noteworthy aspect of this Twitter shootout at the “I’m OK, You’re Not Corral,” occurred when Cruz challenged Cuban to criticize Communist China, in general, and Beijing’s mistreatment of Hong Kong and the Uyghurs in particular. 

After Cuban affirmed his support for Black Lives Matter, claimed America is systemically racist, and accused Cruz of not doing enough to stop the COVID-19 pandemic (which Cuban failed to note originated in Communist China), he espoused the amoral canard corporate titans have long used to justify their complicit silence about oppression in the face of massive profits: “But I have never gotten involved in the domestic policies of ANY foreign country. We have too much to do here.”

Cuban and his fellow corporate titans find Communist China’s predatory trade practices offensive because they adversely impact American corporations’ ability to make a buck. What does not offend Cuban and his fellow corporate titans is Communist China’s systematic crushing of the Hong Kong people’s liberty and its relocating of Uyghurs by the trainload into concentration camps in order to exterminate their culture and their persons. All that has no impact on these American corporations’ ability to make a buck from this evil regime.

Once again, ignorance of the lessons of history is bearing bitter fruit. 

In his exceptional book, The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, And an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War, author A. J. Baime provides the lesson: 

The auto industries were not unique; other industries, such as banks and technology companies, were functioning similarly in Nazi Germany. When one GM stockholder raised concern, the company’s chairman, Alfred Sloan, defended the contracts and the profits, which were critical to the balance sheets, especially during the Depression. The politics of Nazi Germany “should not be considered the business of the management of General Motors,” Sloan said. “We must conduct ourselves [in Germany] as a German organization.” GM had obligations to its stockholders, Sloan said. “We have no right to shut down the plant.”

The Detroit automakers and the American corporate community of the Greatest Generation ultimately redeemed themselves by helping to destroy the evil their businesses once abetted. Today, Cuban and his venal, elitist ilk lack even the pretext of a Great Depression or a lack of information about what is happening to human beings in Communist China. 

When it comes to China, these corporate titans have proven themselves moral midgets by trotting out the old trope of “non-intervention” to rationalize their venality in enriching themselves through trade with these tyrants—an immoral position that would have prevented them from speaking out against any genocide, be it in Nazi Germany, Rwanda, or Communist China.   

Unconscionably, to such virtue-signaling corporatists, black lives matter but Chinese lives do not. And while in America “silence is violence,” in Communist China “silence is golden”—literally.

Greatness Agenda

Stimulating Consumer Demand in the Upcoming COVID-19 Relief Package

Congress needs to ensure its coronavirus tax and bill-reducing initiatives are paired with ones that drive confidence and boost economic activity.

Shortly before breaking for the Fourth of July recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that finalizing the next coronavirus aid package would be a focal point for congressional leadership once they return to session.

Legislators and analysts have kicked around many ideas for this next bill designed to put more money in American workers’ and businesses’ pockets, including a payroll tax holiday and back-to-work bonuses. To sufficiently combat this new threat to employment and business growth, however, Congress needs to extend its deliberations beyond the singular focus of providing consumers and businesses with more funds. It must also recognize the importance of implementing policies that ensure these funds flow throughout the economy.   

When I served as the U.S. treasurer, the Reagan Administration passed a historic tax cut bill, phased into effect over several years, to combat the early 1981-1982 recession. Although the tax relief increased economic growth significantly by the mid-1980s, lingering uncertainty over market conditions dampened the short-term gains. U.S. companies ramped up production significantly in anticipation of a boost in consumer spending, but the level of demand they expected didn’t come to fruition. By the second half of 1982, they had to slash overall output and tens of thousands of jobs as a result. 

The lesson here is that even in cases where the federal government fosters a pro-growth environment to overcome downturns, public sentiment still takes time to rebound. The current health crisis, mired in public wariness, likely will cause an even more significant delay in consumer marketplace participation. That’s a problem when thousands of businesses have already shut their doors permanently because of COVID-19. Plenty more will do the same if consumer confidence doesn’t rebound soon. 

Thankfully, in recent letters, more than 70 U.S. senators and 240 House representatives have already come to terms with a free-market solution to help boost consumer confidence during this recession without adding any new spending. This bipartisan coalition wants cabinet secretaries to put their already-funded advertising campaigns into immediate action to inform, comfort, and reassure Americans. 

Government agencies currently are sitting on federal dollars earmarked for the sole purpose of advertising. If there has ever been a proper time to use these funds, it’s today. 

The free flow of information is what increases consumer confidence, optimism, and consumption. Notifying the American people about the latest health news and data about how to venture out of the house again without harm will raise public sentiment, thereby giving business demand the shot in the arm it so desperately needs. Congress has made its desire for these ad campaigns to quickly take effect abundantly clear in its letters to the administration, but within the next relief package, it should also formally direct agencies to begin them now.  

While targeted relief to the hardest-hit industries is important, lifting the whole economy should remain the principal goal. All sectors advertise, and since the entire country would benefit from policies that promote this advertising, this idea should merit serious consideration.  

Whatever Congress does, it needs to ensure that its coronavirus tax and bill-reducing initiatives are paired with ones that drive confidence, increase economic activity, and accelerate businesses’ ability to stand on their own in a free-market system. History has proven that it’s the most effective way to secure a timely bounce back of the U.S. economy. 

Greatness Agenda

The Globalists Are Coming!

It’s time to hang a lantern in the Old North Church.

We are now five years into an existential war for the soul of America—a war started not by a gunshot, but by a descending escalator. The battle that was enjoined has ebbed and flowed in various forms of sabotage, subversion, propaganda, sedition, and insurrection. Escalation is remorseless, with no end in sight. Confusion among the ranks of Americans is becoming routine.

How to regain our footing? Abraham Lincoln famously said, “if we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.”

Well, there is no better time than the present.

The end of the imperial age of the United States approaches rapidly and relentlessly. Political opportunists have squandered American dominance, and thus its security—quick to sell their votes to corporate profiteers, beholden to external influencers with their bags of gold. These opportunists are of no particular value to the citizens of this country, from whom they feel a corresponding alienation. Their loyalty is to their self-interest, and their faith is in their financial masters.

Now the hour is late and the tools of manipulation—so well-honed by these corrupt financial oligarchs and their international money masters—are failing. Even their successful promotion of a race relations healer turned societal divider failed to stem the tide of a rising national populism that rejects their globalist cum socialist drift.

So, in 2016 a vote was cast and these corrupt oligarchs opposed it. Forcefully. They employed the powers bestowed upon the state by the people to suppress those same people and to disenfranchise them from their own government. And hardly a politician said a word. 

When that failed, they abused—first—the legal processes, then the impeachment process, then the public health system, then the police, and finally the church.

As for the financial oligarchs, their thinking is “divide and conquer.”

Any attempt to achieve a stable footing must begin with a serious and open reassessment of the field, something beyond the scope of this piece. But the big picture is visible and plain. 

Simply by instinct, one can see that China’s alliances—here in America and abroad—should be the first point of focus. This examination should look for obvious self-stated allegiances as well as ideological and, especially, opaque financial interests and conflicts with an eye toward the future. Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and several European countries need to have their relationships with China and America reviewed.

The Chinese One Belt and One Road initiative seeks to recreate the old silk road and parallel sea lanes that would bring about the unification of the Eurasian landmass and streamline the logistics and infrastructure of an enormous emerging market. Numerous financial actors around the globe and here in America stand to benefit handsomely via this project.

These international finance interests believe that for their project to succeed, America must be exhausted. Two good ways to have the United States continue to overextend itself would be through a war with China, or more ideally, a civil war inside the United States. Democrats in Congress and many Republicans appear—wittingly or unwittingly—to follow their corporate sponsors’ guidance, oblivious to the play at hand.

Donald J. Trump was elected to arrest the managed decline of America, which is the objective of the financial global “elite,” its American allies, and China. It is a powerful alliance, which has launched—both overtly and covertly—a massive diplomatic, political, and economic warfare project. 

The United States, meanwhile, spends trillions of dollars and vast amounts of moral capital in unwinnable, unending wars. We’ve made ourselves dependent on our enemies to supply the things we no longer manufacture, including even medical essentials. The United States tears itself apart through internecine political wars made tangible by rogue public health officials. We are squandering the moral capital accumulated over more than two centuries of self-government, free enterprise, and faith in God. 

I am hanging a lantern in the Old North Church. The globalists are coming.

Greatness Agenda

Bloviating and Hypocrisy Reign Supreme in 2020 Fight Over Immigration

The problem with rolling out tough-sounding incantations at campaign stops-cum-pep rallies is that after a while, when even the most credulous don’t see much in the way of results, the magic is gone.

Joe Biden’s latest plank in his presidential platform, “Buy American,” attempts to cast President Trump as someone who is in the pocket of his rich cronies, whereas Biden’s plan allegedly would use $700 billion to leverage a revival of U.S. industries.

Being “in the pocket of rich cronies” is a strange accusation for Biden to level, given all the pockets, foreign and domestic, he and his family members have been caught swimming in up to their elbows these last four decades. No sooner had Biden announced his plan than Trump struck back: “He plagiarized from me, but he can never pull it off,” Trump said. “He likes plagiarizing.” 

It was a palpable hit. Biden does have a well-documented history of plagiarism, one which doomed a prior presidential campaign. But the rules of down-the-middle journalism no longer apply, and reporters and editors use their personal biases in determining what to publish and what to withhold. This clearly works to Biden’s favor.

Regardless of this back and forth, the facts indicate that in this instance, Biden is beating Trump at his own game. The Daily Caller reports that three months ago, the president’s trade czar Peter Navarro, put forward a plan similar to Biden’s—which was shot down because Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jared Kushner, presidential advisor and “first son-in-law,” discouraged the president from pursuing it. 

So, no, strictly speaking, it wasn’t plagiarism that moved Biden to encourage a “Buy America” platform. It was almost certainly a leak about this internal dispute within the Trump campaign that bled into Biden’s campaign and, seeing Trump’s stasis, they moved to fill the vacuum and stake out that ground. The president, in short, has no one to blame but himself and his inner circle for getting outflanked here.

The president sharpened his attacks against Biden at a Rose Garden event, hammering him on the plan, as well as his open-borders, mass-immigration platforms. Notwithstanding Trump’s strategic error (if, indeed, choosing not to adopt Navarro’s plan was one), he’s right that there are plenty of reasons to doubt the seriousness of Biden’s “Buy American” platform. This is because among the other things, Biden plans to end deportations entirely for the first 100 days of his presidency, hobble the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and ensure a broad-based amnesty (presumably by executive fiat again, if it fails legislatively). So even if a spate of new industrial jobs were to come out of Biden’s “Buy American” plan,—who will be manning the shovels? 

We’ve seen this kind of fatuous thinking before. If there are no employer verification safeguards, and no worksite enforcement safeguards in place, chances are pretty good that employers, knowing a good thing when they see it, will opt for unauthorized workers so that they can sidestep all those nasty FICA and FLSA rules and taxes in favor of under-the-table employment. How, exactly, is that “buying American” or helping Americans and lawful alien workers to gain (or regain) employment?

But Trump himself has made a muddle, if not a mockery, of his once-tough platform on illegal immigration. Looking back on the past several years, so much of it seems to have been the equivalent of magical invocations to get the crowds stirred up at his campaign stops and celebratory events. (“Build the Wall!” “Mexico Will Pay!” “End DACA Now!” “Stop Sanctuary Cities” etc.) 

Despite Trump’s recent claim that “the wall” is almost complete, the truth is that his administration has fallen far short of the 450 miles it claimed would be done within his first term. Fox News reports that as of June, only 216 miles have been built—and much of that construction has just been replacement barriers for old, inadequate fencing. 

Furthermore, the administration has even dropped suggestions that somehow “Mexico will pay” or that it has in some amorphous way paid, because such suggestions no longer pass the laugh test. 

Even so, it remains the case that it is unlikely any other administration would have done so much as this one has done—or anything at all, for that matter. Just to take one “for instance,” consider the way it diverted Pentagon funding when stymied by Congress. What would happen in a second Trump administration is anyone’s guess, but it’s a certainty that nothing more would be built under a President Biden.

The track record on DACA is equally mixed. It took the Department of Homeland Security a very long time to develop either a plan or a policy on ending the Obama administration’s administrative amnesty, despite Trump promising to end it immediately during his 2016 campaign. Most readers will know that in a split decision, the Supreme Court refused to accept the administration’s argument that it had fully complied with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and tossed it back for further reconsideration. Since then, Trump has promised to recraft the policy memorandum and rationale to end DACA—but in a recent interview, Elaine Duke, who was his own acting DHS secretary at the time, admits that she sabotaged the original effort to end DACA by deliberately excising the policy reasons for doing so. 

This smacks of egregious malfeasance, but in many ways it is no surprise to those who follow these issues. From the start, Trump has repeatedly demonstrated flawed judgment about who to put in charge of the Department of Homeland Security, invariably selecting individuals who not only fail to carry out his policies, but actively work against them, the most recent example being Chad Wolf, a former lobbyist for the foreign worker program industry.

Over the years, the president has trampled on his own message in regard to ending DACA. Most recently—despite the administration allegedly moving to amend the APA “flaws” so that it can in fact terminate this extra-statutory presidential abuse of power, and despite the president’s pointed remarks about Biden’s big amnesty plans during the Rose Garden event—Numbers USA discovered that the White House met with representatives of the Koch brothers (ardent open borders libertarians) and amnesty advocates to discuss DACA. 

Just before that, the president had a televised interview on Telemundo in which he displayed an appalling ignorance of the separation of powers and the American process for making laws when he said he was going to issue an “immigration bill”— 

The deal was done. DACA is going to be just fine. We’re putting it in. It’s going to be just fine. And I am going to be, over the next few weeks, signing an immigration bill that a lot of people don’t know about. You have breaking news, but I’m signing a big immigration bill,” Trump told Díaz-Balart.

“Is that an executive order?” the anchor asked.

“I’m going to do a big executive order. I have the power to do it as president and I’m going to make DACA a part of it,” Trump responded. “But, we put it in, and we’re probably going to then be taking it out. We’re working out the legal complexities right now, but I’m going to be signing a very major immigration bill as an executive order, which the Supreme Court now, because of the DACA decision, has given me the power to do that.”

Nope, the Supreme Court did nothing of the sort. Needless to say, it drew an immediate backlash from more conservative thinkers such as Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who lashed out at the president for starting to go down the same road that led the Obama administration to exceed its lawful boundaries in promulgating the DACA program in the first place.

And these are not the only other areas in which the administration says one thing publicly but goes another route entirely in action and practice. Most recently, ICE, a subordinate DHS agency, sent out a trial balloon having to do with foreign student compliance and enforcement, only to have it promptly withdrawn after threats of litigation from institutions of learning such as Harvard and MIT, that feed on excessive foreign student tuition fees like pigs at the trough. This withdrawal can only embolden anti-enforcement activists in their constant crusade to dismantle the nation’s immigration laws.

In the end, for immigration restrictionists the question of who to vote for is a simple one: as muddled as his thinking often is, and as frequently as his plans are sabotaged from within or left incomplete because of an administration-wide kind of attention deficit disorder, the president is still the only game in town. Where immigration is concerned, Joe Biden, leaning ever left to please progressive road warriors, will likely be a Barack Obama on steroids, at least until his mental state reaches such an undeniable state of decline that his even more progressive vice president takes over.

But is that relatively stark election choice enough, especially for independent voters outside of Trump’s diehard base, the ones needed to push him to the finish for a second term? Hard to say. The problem with rolling out tough-sounding incantations at campaign stops-cum-pep rallies is that after a while, when even the most credulous don’t see much in the way of results, the magic is gone.

Greatness Agenda

Rebuilding America by Restoring the University

Conservatives have placed higher education policy on the backburner for too long. We are already paying for that fact.

Pennsylvania State University recently removed a tweet welcoming conservative perspectives after the school received backlash on social media and complaints from students. This intolerance does not surprise conservatives familiar with our higher education institutions. Our colleges and universities, especially the elite ones, indoctrinate more students into anti-American sentiments every year, all the while happily accepting billions of dollars in federal funding.

But higher education faces an era of high financial instability due to the unsure state of social distancing and the probable enrollment drop induced by a baby bust. Colleges are begging for extra financial assistance during these unsure times. Conservatives, especially those in the executive branch of the federal government, should see this as an opportunity to reshape these rogue institutions.

Progressives currently hold ideological and functional controls over higher education. While non-profit universities are prohibited from taking or stating positions on political candidates or participating in one-sided activities related to elections, the “leftification” of universities results in various biases. Professors and administrators overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates over Republicans. Student bodies lean left, with extremists often voicing their grievances the loudest. Pranksters can successfully submit fake research studies, on topics such as rape culture in dog parks, because academic journal editors are so committed to the progressive agenda.

Radical progressive students agitate for climate justice, segregated dorms, and hypersensitivity training for university communities by yelling, occupying buildings, and interrupting events. These students are rewarded for their behavior when university administrators give in to their demands. But students who voice the “wrong” opinion? They face social and even career suicide. The lack of political diversity makes it easy for young, impressionable students to think there is only one way to think—and vote.

Faced with these challenges, conservatives often forget that college is not only a pathway for getting a job, but also a pathway into the elite. 

Colleges mold a new generation of elites who think only in a progressive way. We have seen this when anarchists led a movement to take over several streets in Seattle, known as CHOP or CHAZ. Inside this “autonomous zone,” anarchists committed crimes with impunity. Elites in the media and in government tolerate and provide cover for these bad actors, and for the rioters burning down buildings and wiping out small businesses. Even worse, financial elites often provide funding to left-wing activist groups that perpetuate this kind of chaos. They act as if these are brave and noble actions in the name of racial justice.

Conservatives acknowledge most of these issues, though we do very little to reshape the nature of our American elites (maybe it is too discouraging). Over the past several years, conservative frustration and even opposition to our current higher education system have continued to grow. Campus Reform is an excellent example of an organization that works to expose the bias that conservatives too often find in higher education. But journalism alone isn’t going to change the underlying problems. So, what can conservatives do?

Right now many conservatives, angry after years of abuse by these institutions and their effects, say let them burn down or just forget about them. Policymakers suggest attending alternative options that promote conservative ideas or even creating such institutions from the ground up. These suggestions are understandable and are generally made with the best of intentions. But this will not stop the Left, with all of  the powerful institutions on their side.

Conservatives can enact strong higher education reforms once we confront the harsh realities of the system. First, elite institutions are not going anywhere anytime soon. They have enough money and political support to weather any storm. Second, higher education is a part of the American social fabric, with many of these institutions having been founded even before America’s birth. After all, institutions like Harvard gave us presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt and John Adams. Universities also provided innovation that helped our society. Universities have served Americans before, and they could serve us again with proper leadership.

Third, conservatives do not have enough manpower to simply take over these institutions from the inside. We must exert power from the outside. We can do this by conditioning bailout funds on reforms that serve our interests. 

At the National Association of Scholars, we want universities to actively support intellectual diversity, rigorously protect First Amendment rights, and cut administrative roles that distract from a school’s educational mission as conditions to receive federal assistance. Further, general federal funding for higher education could also place such conditions. The long-term goal is to encourage our higher education institutions to uphold American principles.

Conservatives have placed higher education policy on the backburner for too long. We are already paying for that fact. Higher education sets the trends for society. If we don’t preserve these institutions on our terms, somebody else with a radically different agenda will. 

Greatness Agenda

This One Weird Trick Will Keep Americans Healthy, Help Them Sleep Better, and Restore the Economy

A temporary subsidy to pick up COBRA premium payments would ensure 30 million Americans continue their coverage with employer-provided health insurance.

As Congress prepares a booster shot to help the economy deal with the pandemic, there’s one measure they should take up that’s good for the nation’s healthcare and good for the nation’s economy.

A temporary subsidy to pick up COBRA premium payments would ensure 30 million Americans continue their coverage with employer-provided health insurance.

COBRA allows workers and their families who lose their health insurance benefits due to layoffs to continue group health benefits provided by their employer for a limited period of time.

In the same way the Paycheck Protection Program kept people on private payrolls and saved them from going onto welfare rolls, COBRA would keep people on private insurance plans. This would save them from going onto the Medicaid rolls or into ACA marketplaces.

A temporary COBRA subsidy is good policy and good politics.

Policywise, consider this: Along with a surge in unemployment claims, the pandemic-related payoffs caused a 46 percent surge in Affordable Care Act enrollments and nearly one million new applicants for Medicaid.

States are already struggling with higher demands on their budgets. They cannot afford to pay for millions of new Medicaid beneficiaries. States already asking for federal help to cover budget deficits will certainly demand Washington cover their increased Medicaid costs. 

It makes more sense to give money directly to employers and employees through a COBRA subsidy and keep Americans off Medicaid.

The politics are good on many levels.

It’s been said, “no man who owns his own house and lot can be a communist.” Similarly, no one who has employer-provided health insurance will support Medicare for All.

A survey by Public Opinion Strategies found overwhelming support across the board for the financial relief legislation that’s already been passed.  

Eighty-six percent of Americans, including 87 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of independents, and 85 percent of Democrats, support the stimulus bills that have already passed.

A nearly identical number, 85 percent, believe more needs to be done, and a clear majority, 55 percent believe it should be targeted to middle and working-class Americans.

But here’s the eye-popping number to which Congress and our leaders need to pay attention: 90 percent of Americans—86 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of Independents and 94 percent of Democrats—believe the next stimulus should help those who’ve lost their jobs keep their employer-provided insurance.

That should come as no surprise—Americans like their employer-provided health -insurance. (There’s a reason President Obama assured everyone they could keep it).

A COBRA subsidy would allow people to maintain their existing employer-provided insurance if they’ve been laid off.  That means they can keep their doctors and their networks.

Importantly, they won’t have to pay a deductible all over again at exactly the time when they don’t have income. Nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) say losing their health coverage would impact their personal finances.

In this time of widespread disruption, people know it’s not the time to disrupt health insurance.

Continuity of health coverage is important to peace of mind, and peace of mind is essential to giving people the confidence they need to get back to work and resume their lives as schools, businesses, and society reopen.

Congress can go a long way to restoring our health, our economy, and our sanity with this one not-so-weird trick—the COBRA subsidy.  

That’s no click-bait—that’s a policy everyone can agree on.

Greatness Agenda

How Thrift Became a Casualty of the Fiscal ‘Plandemic’

The COVID-19 crisis has been turned into a government-planned giveaway scheme to benefit social progressivism.

Should we print yet more money? Does the COVID-19 disaster deserve another round, two or three perhaps, of government “stimulus” cash thrown at it? Is there ever enough?

Let me take you on a tour to the middle of Rockefeller Center in New York City, where there stands a polished block of marble inscribed with a single word. The stone is the keystone of the entire complex, but it is little noticed. And no wonder because this keystone is dwarfed by everything around it. 

Built during the Great Depression, Rockefeller Center is itself a monument to the wealth and power of John D. Rockefeller, whose private fortune, adjusted for inflation, remains the single largest private fortune ever amassed in American history. As his fortune reached its peak, Rockefeller personally controlled nearly 2 percent of the American economy. The office towers soar above the towers of St. Patrick’s Cathedral across the street, and the courtyard at their base is a lavish display of fountains, gardens, fine shops, and, of course, the famous skating rink, behind which the great Christmas tree is erected each year. Nearby, the studios of NBC add a final polish of celebrity and glamour. 

Nearly lost in the opulence is the keystone engraved with the single word: Thrift. 

What, a visitor today in our throes of continuing “plandemic” may wonder, does thrift have to do with this grand setting, with our staggering debt?

Thrift is a forgotten virtue, much as the keystone motto of Rockefeller Center is the forgotten center of the complex. 

Thanks to trade, new technologies, and deregulation, among other forces, we live in an era of affluence. Well, we used to until the Wuhan flu began to spread. But the government believes it can paper over that catastrophe with more free money.

Like the keystone, the virtue of thrift is almost totally obscured by the wealth and prosperity of our era, and the ensuing sense of entitlement. These days no one wants to be considered a cheapskate. Frugality is about as popular as chastity. 

Thrift As Four-Letter Word 

But it wasn’t always so. A recent, and telltale, Yahoo word search on thrift produced few results: a newsletter on simple living, an offensive guide called “Cheap Stingy Bastard” on so-called good deals, “The Complete Tightwad Gazette,” the somewhat satiricalCheapskate Monthly,” numerous addresses for actual thrift shops, and the frugal tip of the week—things like saving aluminum cans. This is not the virtuous thrift of an earlier and more respectful era, an era when America first gained its greatness.

I have conducted a very unscientific and admittedly utterly biased sample (just like most sociological surveys) over the past month or so of the people I know and have met around the country. Some I know well, many are simply acquaintances, but most are new folks I don’t know at all. 

I ask them what they think of thrift. I don’t tell them I am writing about it or studying it. I just want to gauge their reaction and response. About half of this modest sample gives me a confused look meaning: Are you crazy? What the hell is thrift? They have no conception of the word, its history, or its lineage. Frankly, they couldn’t care less. 

About 30 percent of the people say, Oh yeah, thrifty, that means “cheap,” right? Well, I am not cheap. They have a pejorative or quite negative response to the term. They are running away from thrift. 

About 15 percent of people admit that they know what thrift is, although they still associate it with cheapness, and while they wouldn’t want to publicize it or broadcast it to everyone, they are—well, frugal on occasion. This dirty little secret is something they want kept secret, but they are rather proud of it. 

This leaves about 5 percent of people, mostly educated and having above-average wealth, some even learned with multiple degrees or regular worshippers in whatever church or synagogue, who admit to knowing what thrift is; to appreciating it; practicing it; and in some cases even naming it as a “good thing”—a virtue. Only 5 percent of people (in this biased survey, apologies to my late friend, George Gallup) have not forgotten the virtue of thrift. 

What have the others forgotten? Modern definitions of thrift are not nearly as good as the 1828 one provided by Noah Webster himself:

Economical in the use or appropriation of money, goods or provisions of any kind; saving unnecessary expense, either of money or anything else which is to be used or consumed; sparing; not profuse, prodigal or lavish. We ought to be frugal not only in the expenditure of money and of goods, but in the employment of time. Prudent economy; good husbandry or housewifery; a sparing use or appropriation of money or commodities; a judicious use of anything to be expended or employed; that careful management which expends nothing unnecessarily and applies what is used to a profitable purpose; nothing is wasted. It is not equivalent to parsimony, the latter being an excess to a fault. Thrift is always a virtue.

While the social historian Gertrude Himmelfarb was certainly correct in describing the transmutation of virtues to values as part of the general “de-moralization” of society, she was less complete about the religious origin of some of the key Victorian virtues, such as thrift. The Victorian contributions and moral framework in both Britain and in America were, as she noted, essential—not only for the good life of individuals but also for the wellbeing of society. 

Fiscal Conservatism Rightly Understood 

But where did this now seemingly foreign and distant notion of thrift originate? And how is it related to the American preference for what has curiously come to be known as “fiscal conservatism”? We need to make mention at the outset that a connection exists between thrift and thriving. That thrift helps us thrive is a vital point to make in offsetting the gravitational pull of so many of the word’s pejorative connotations. 

Fiscal conservatism—the public face of thrift—is a term used today to refer to an economic and political policy that advocates restraint of government taxation, government expenditures and deficits, and government debt. In an earlier era, this tendency was known as public thrift, because thrift was said to have both a public and a private side. A major cause of the American Revolution recall was taxation without representation. Representation.” 

Fiscal conservatism was most loudly and rhetorically promoted during the presidency of Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989. During his tenure, Reagan touted economic policies that became known as Reaganomics. Based on supply-side economics, Reagan’s policies cut income taxes, raised social security taxes, deregulated the economy,  limited the federal government, and proposed a balanced monetary policy to stop inflation. Reagan favored reducing the size and scope of the federal budget. 

Unfortunately, many Republicans throughout the Reagan era and after ran on these premises but did more to expand the permanent bureaucracy and big government while in office than even their opponents.

Fiscal conservatism has had its supporters and detractors throughout just about all of American history. Preference for frugality is not naturally endemic in a polity. Except for Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, few other countries have had an ongoing public debate in political circles about public thrift, the size and cost of government or balanced budgets, let alone the rivalry between the individual and the all-powerful state. 

On a communal and personal level, Americans seem predisposed to policies of thrift in their personal as well as their civic lives. Behaviorally, however, they often act, spend, and vote quite differently. And when things are going gangbusters, all focus shifts to spending and consumerism, not thrift. But when recession strikes, as it now has in our virus-induced pandemic, out from under the floor resurfaces that odd virtue, thrift—as in, I should have saved more and consumed less. 

Why is my credit card so problematic to pay down? Was I forced to charge yet more—stuff? Living paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings seems irresponsible, especially during a planned and instigated global downturn.

The Cornerstone of American Greatness

What is it about thrift, public or private, that makes it so hard to achieve? Does it necessarily contradict or oppose economic growth? Is there a paradox of thrift? Where did it originate, anyway? Is it really a lost and forgotten virtue? Is that necessarily a bad thing? Is true conservatism an amalgam of the virtue of thrift mixed into the aspiration to live in freedom?

With the U.S. government throwing money in every direction in these days of corona-induced spending, we need to keep asking these questionsas U.S. debt soars past $100 trillion in the ongoing pandemic and its aftermath.

The pandemic plan has morphed into a government-planned giveaway scheme to benefit social progressivism, not the needs of everyday, hard-working middle-class Americans. The debt we have amassed in this short period (over $8 trillion with a “t”) will be born over the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. 

he Democrats-turned-socialists are now pushing for things they would never get under normal circumstances. Their latest $3 trillion, 1,800-page hyper-liberal bill includes $1 trillion for blue state and local governments, subsidies galore, shoring up Obamacare, voting by mail, another round of cash to those who prefer to stay unemployed, and a bailout for the U.S. Postal Service.

The U.S. Treasury Department recently published a major report revealing that the federal government has amassed $103.7 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded obligations. To place this unprecedented shortfall in perspective, it amounts to:

  • $315,315 for every person living in the United States.
  • $806,181 for every household in the United States.
  • 4.8 times the size of the U.S. economy.
  • 29 times annual federal revenues.
  • 91 percent of the combined net worth of all U.S. households and nonprofit organizations, including all assets in savings, real estate, corporate stocks, private businesses, and consumer durable goods such as automobiles and furniture.

Remember: thrift was the cornerstone of America’s greatness.

Greatness Agenda

Playing the Russia Card

Yes, tensions with Russia are ongoing. Russia does bad things. But when it comes to threats to America, China must be our overwhelming focus. And playing the Russia card would shake them to their core.

America was at a historic crossroads in 1971. The war in Vietnam increasingly was seen as unwinnable, while triggering ongoing unrest in cities and college campuses across the nation. The economy was challenged with rising inflation and rising trade deficits. In August 1971, the British ambassador turned up at the Treasury Department to request that $3 billion be converted into gold. That same week, President Nixon ordered a freeze on all prices and wages in the United States.

In the Communist world, America’s problems were trumpeted as the inevitable collapse of capitalist imperialism. Russia and China stood triumphant over a declining West. And what did Nixon do? He stunned the world by traveling to China. His goal: To drive a wedge between the two Communist superpowers.

Historians can speculate endlessly over what might have happened had Nixon never played the China card. But his strategy, to keep China and Russia from getting too close, has more applicability today than it did nearly 50 years ago.

Today, Russia and China continue an alliance that has fitfully endured over the decades. In recent years, especially since oil prices have fallen, Russia has supplied China with raw materials and high technology in exchange for desperately needed cash. Even now, China is only beginning to acquire sufficient skill to manufacture high-performance jet engines for its military, and still has to rely on Russian aerospace manufacturers to fill the gap.

That China and Russia are both undemocratic nations that continue to oppress their own citizens while threatening neighboring nations is beyond serious debate, but together they are a formidable partnership. Just in terms of territory, the two nations and their client states occupy well over 70 percent of the entire Asian landmass. Russia’s natural resources and China’s population, plus the technological prowess of both nations, make them peer competitors to the United States. Whatever threat they constituted 50 years ago is only magnified today.

Similarly, the United States faces military and economic challenges on par, if not worse, than those it faced 50 years ago. It is again mired in overseas conflicts, most notably in Afghanistan but also via the war on terror being waged on countless fronts around the world. Economically the United States has just exponentially increased its deficit spending, using the Federal Reserve to monetize debt, threatening the stability of the U.S. dollar on global currency markets.

China and Russia United Pose an Existential Threat to the U.S.

The United States confronts two grim scenarios in the 2020s that cannot be ignored. The United States can cede its military supremacy by virtue of being leapfrogged both quantitatively and qualitatively in strategic weapons development. And the U.S. dollar can be replaced as the world’s reserve and transaction currency by a foreign currency union that melds a market currency with some combination of cyber and precious metal collateral. Either of these outcomes would cripple the ability of the United States to access global markets, and in turn, would lead to catastrophic economic turmoil. The only way either of these objectives likely can be achieved is if China and Russia work together to achieve them.

This is the context in which the blather over alleged Russian-paid bounty hunters operating in Afghanistan dominate the news in America. While tragic, it is a tactical issue. In scope, if not in terms of the exact details, it is nothing new. Russia and the United States have not been at peace in modern history. Even during World War II, Russia was more of a third force than an ally. The Poles who were massacred by the Russians in the Katyn forest in 1940 would agree, as would the Poles who were liquidated by the Nazis in the Warsaw uprising in the Fall of 1945, as Russian troops waited on the other side of the Vistula River for the Germans to do their dirty work for them.

What the United States must decide is not whether Vladimir Putin is a good guy, or whether Russia can be trusted. We already know the answer to those questions. The prevailing question is simply this: Which nation presents a greater threat to the United States—Russia or China? And to that question, there is only one unequivocal answer: China is now the greater threat.

By now it should be clear to Americans that China is bent on global hegemony and has the capacity and will to achieve it. For too many years, however, and even now, China has skillfully reallocated the more than $5 trillion in its accumulated trade surplus with the United States to purchase not only our assets and our technology, but also our journalists, our professors, our actors and athletes, our investors, our corporate boards, and our politicians.

By comparison, Russia’s financial clout is insignificant. This explains most if not all of America’s establishment fixation on bashing Russia, and only begrudgingly holding China accountable. Perhaps China’s willful decision to neglect containing the coronavirus has done the West, and the rest of the world, a big favor. At last America’s over-dependence on China’s manufacturing prowess is widely understood, as is an awareness that China is not our friend. This fact may still be lost on the protesters wearing BLM t-shirts sewn by slaves in Xinjiang, but the rest of us get it.

China Poses a Bigger Threat to Russia than the U.S.

While Vladimir Putin’s popularity may have declined somewhat among the Russian people, what he represents to them is undiminished. 

Putin speaks to the historical memory of the Russian people, whose territory has been invaded repeatedly over the centuries. The fact that Russia was an imperialist nation that successfully absorbed Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the entirety of Siberia and even a huge slice of North America does not erase Russian insecurity. The Russian people will never forget that the Germans nearly wiped them out in the early 1940s. They feel additional uncertainty over the loss of occupied Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War, and the decision by Gorbachev to grant independence to the Central Asian republics.

Putin, like Stalin, or, for that matter, Catherine the Great and Ivan the Terrible, gives Russians the reassurance that their leader will stand up to foreign threats. And when it comes to foreign threats, China, not America, is what Russians ought to be worrying about.

Consider the populations of these two nations: Russia with 144 million, China with 1.4 billion, 10 times as many people. Consider the GDP of these two nations: Russia at $1.7 trillion, China at $13.6 trillion, eight times as much. According to two of the most fundamental measurements of a nation’s size and strength, China dwarfs Russia.

Consider the shared border between China and Russia, over 2,500 miles, mostly in the Russian Far East. North of this border, within Russia, is outer Manchuria, annexed by Russia from China in 1858. How many Russians live in their eastern districts? In Siberia, 19.9 million. In the Far East, 6.6 million. And just across the border, 1.4 billion Chinese, over 110 million of them just in Manchuria.

Within Russia’s vast and virtually empty eastern districts are natural resources of staggering immensity and of absolutely vital importance to China’s growing economy. Not only are the Russians economically dependent on exporting these raw materials to China, but they are demographically incapable of doing the work themselves. There aren’t enough Russians in Russia to serve the Chinese appetite for Russian raw materials.

For this reason, millions of Chinese are living in Russia, or are about to be living in Russia. The Chinese are purchasing Russian land, farming in Russia, building factories on Russian soil, and migrating into Russia. The Chinese aggressively seek opportunities to exploit resources on Russian territory in the Arctic. How long will the Russians risk the loss of their sovereignty to China? How long will China tolerate Russian control over territory they dominate demographically, economically, and to which they even have a historical claim?

The Russia Card

Americans have endured a mostly healthy internal conflict between principled diplomacy and realpolitik for decades. It is a tribute to the goodness of Americans that realpolitik does not always dominate our foreign policy—that concern for human rights, democracy, environmental protection, and international rule of law are equally prominent in our foreign policy discussions. But international politics, just like domestic politics, requires compromises.

America’s experience with Russia in recent decades includes encouraging facts. Russia gave up its Eastern European buffer states without a fight. It reinstated its parliament and began to experiment with democracy. Although Putin has revived authoritarian rule, his popularity can partly be attributed to America’s failure to live up to its part of the bargain made with Gorbachev in 1990. America promised not to extend NATO into Eastern Europe and then proceeded to do just that.

None of this is to make excuses for Russia. But the media hacks that read any balanced appraisal of the U.S.-Russia relationship as an unforgivable endorsement of the Russian regime are doing America a disservice. There is nothing the Chinese (and the American businesses and investors who get rich doing business with China) would like better than to keep the focus of American animus on Russia. This is a terrible betrayal of America’s long-term interests.

Playing the Russia card does not mean Americans suddenly become allies of Russia and support everything President Putin does. It merely recognizes geopolitical facts. China is a far bigger threat to America than Russia. China, unlike Russia, can take over the world, but their path to that ultimate victory will be far more difficult if Russia does not help them. And China poses a greater long-term threat to Russia than America does.

So enough already, New York Times, and all the rest of the China apologists. Yes, tensions with Russia are ongoing. Russia does bad things. But when it comes to threats to America, China must be our overwhelming focus. And playing the Russia card would shake them to their core.

Greatness Agenda

Trump Steps In Where Congress Fears to Tread on H-1B Visas

The president’s executive actions won’t go as far as legislation would go, but the steps he’s taking are far more than Congress has had the will to do.

The White House announced this week that new guest worker visas will be banned through the end of the year, and long-exploited loopholes in highly skilled worker visas will be permanently closed. It is welcome news, arriving squarely in the midst of our spring, now extended into a summer, of discontent.

The suspension of new guest worker visas will continue through the end of the year, as close to 30 million Americans remain out of work. The permanent changes to close the exploitation of the H-1B loopholes, however, are powerful remedies to what has become a cottage industry of exploitation by major corporations.

Thanks to a phalanx of lawyers and lobbyists who have spent years turning legal cracks into cavernous loopholes, it has become de rigueur for U.S. industries to lay off their qualified American workers in favor of cheaper imported labor.

This is in direct contravention to how the H-1B visa system is supposed to work. The program exists to perform an important function in our legal immigration system: to provide companies with a way to source highly-skilled labor if they cannot find it at home. Pursuant to this, however, federal requirements mandate that companies must prove American workers cannot do the job, and also that the visas should not “adversely affect the wages and working conditions” of Americans.

But a legal loophole passed in 1998—brought about at the behest of the booming tech industry—allows H-1B reliant companies to ignore the requirements about protecting American jobs as long as they pay the foreign workers at least $60,000 a year, or hire foreign workers who have at least a master’s degree.  

“Considering the average IT worker in the United States makes far more than $60,000,” noted The Atlantic in 2016, “the exemption makes it lucrative—and legal—for companies to displace American workers with cheaper H-1B workers.” The congressional progenitor of the H-1B visa, former Representative Bruce Morrison (D-Conn.), called the change in 1998 “a dastardly deed . . . It licenses companies to displace American workers in a bill that purports to protect American workers.”  

H-1B “Outsourcing” Firms and U.S. Tech Companies Exploit the System

Meanwhile, a cottage industry has sprung up around H-1B visas to help companies get around the rule that foreign labor cannot “displace” American workers. Contracting firms such as Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services bring foreign labor directly to these companies. The H-1B visa holders work for the consultancy, not the companies for which they are providing the labor. It’s a sleight of hand that allows major corporations to state they are “not hiring H-1B visa workers to replace displaced employees.”

And that is exactly what’s happening. 

Companies like Disney, Verizon, Northeast Utilities, Bank of America, New York Life, Hertz, and Southern California Edison all laid off their American employees and replaced them with cheaper H-1B visa holders, generally from contracting firms. In many cases, the laid-off Americans were forced to train their foreign replacements—and some were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements about the experience as a condition of receiving severance pay.

The profit motive for major corporations is obvious. It nets large companies—particularly tech companies—billions in profits by compensating these foreign workers at reduced incomes. According to research from Daniel Costa and Ron Hira, 60 percent of H-1B visas are certified at the two lowest allowable wage brackets—some as much as 34 percent below the local median wage for the occupation. For example, in fiscal year 2013, H-1B consultancy firms paid contract IT workers an average of $71,000 and $66,000, respectively. According to the Department of Labor, the comparable wage for a Computer Systems Analyst in a similar location was $92,000 a year.

Southern California Edison, a California utility company, cut more than 400 American IT jobs in 2015, replacing them with contracted H-1B visa holders. “They told us they could replace one of us with three, four, or five Indian personnel and still save money,” one laid-off Edison worker told Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times, “They said, ‘We can get four Indian guys for cheaper than the price of you.’ You could hear a pin drop in the room.”

And it’s not just H-1B consultancy firms abusing the system. Major U.S. firms employ H-1B workers directly (as opposed to hiring through contract firms) including some of the biggest names in tech: Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Qualcomm, Salesforce, and Uber, according to Costa and Hira, “all pay a large share of their H-1B positions as Level 1 or Level 2, a wage below the local median wage.”

Perverse Incentives to Abuse Visa Holders

The model isn’t just hurting American workers. It also creates perverse incentives for mistreatment of immigrant labor, as well. H-1B visas are held in the employer’s name, meaning visa holders have to leave the country immediately if they lose their job. Regardless of how they are treated, if visa holders want to stay in the United States, they must put up with whatever work conditions confront them. A year-long investigation in the San Francisco Bay Area uncovered “body shops” of H-1B recipients treated like “indentured servants.”

In 2013, Tata Consultancy Services paid close to $30 million to settle a federal class action brought by 12,800 H-1B visa employees, who claimed Tata cheated them out of their wages and forced them to sign over their tax refund checks when they finished working in the United States. 

That same year, Infosys paid $34 million to the Department of Justice to settle allegations that it had systematically defrauded immigration authorities—then the largest amount ever paid in an immigration case.

No Shortage of American STEM Graduates

But the system also works directly against other policies of the U.S. government, particularly when it comes to incentivizing students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Federal taxpayers pony up approximately $3 billion per year to ensure we are training American students to work in, among other places, the tech industry. 

We do this, in part, because the tech industry complains that there is a shortage of American STEM workers—or that Americans are too dumb to do the job. This is, they say, why they have to rely on foreign talent.

But according to the most recently available Census data, there is far from a shortage of STEM talent in this country. A stunning 74 percent of U.S. STEM graduates, according to the Census, are working in fields other than STEM, perhaps because the STEM jobs they could be holding are instead occupied by cheaper foreign labor. 

Moreover, wages in the field are suppressed—STEM wages have increased only modestly in over a decade, despite being a high-demand field.

It is a bizarre federal policy to spend taxpayer money pushing more students into STEM fields when our immigration policies incentivize U.S. firms not to hire them.

H-1B Reform Has Long Been Bipartisan

The response to President Trump’s actions has been predictable. Silicon Valley firms who benefit most from the H-1B loopholes blasted the action. It was also painted as anti-immigrant.

But it shouldn’t be. There has long been bipartisan support for addressing the H-1B exploitation in Congress. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have been teaming up every Congress since 2007 with a bill to tighten H-1B eligibility. Similar bipartisan legislation exists in the House. 

The bipartisan outrage in 2015, when Southern California Edison laid off its American workers to replace them with cheaper H-1B contractors, led 10 U.S. senators to send a letter to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation. Senators ranging from Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), all agreed action should be taken.

Trump’s executive actions won’t go as far as legislative action would go, but the steps he’s taking are far more than Congress has had the will to do. Higher salaried H-1B visa holders will be prioritized, ensuring that corporations who intend to compensate their guest workers in line with Americans will get the skilled labor they need. They’ll just do it without the incentives they’ve been abusing to displace and disregard American workers.

Greatness Agenda

All Livelihoods Matter

The only way black livelihoods, or any American livelihoods, are going to be uplifted is when black and white workers find common ground and work together to reject the agenda of the global Left.

When examining the challenges facing the black community in America, the conservative response—if they have the courage to respond at all—is to attack the policies Democrats have implemented supposedly to help blacks.

This is a valid response, which can be summarized as follows:

Increased spending in public schools is futile because Democrats have taken away the ability to discipline disruptive students, and the teachers union has monopolized public education. For example, instead of being fired, thanks to these unions, bad teachers end up teaching in low income communities. Public education is a disaster in black communities.

Welfare spending has taken away the necessity for households to have a male breadwinner, and hence, a male role model and authority figure. This has disproportionately impacted black families because a higher percentage of them collect welfare and other entitlements. Two-thirds of black children are growing up in single-parent households.

There are other reasons conservatives may cite, centering around the theme of personal and community accountability. Why aren’t more black conservatives stepping up and demanding school choice, family values, and collective rejection of gang culture? And why isn’t the media elevating those black conservatives who do speak out, instead of pointing the cameras at the same old Sharptonesque hacks, year after year?

These responses explain a lot, and deserve to be heard, but there’s another factor at work affecting black lives in America, and it’s also mostly the fault of Democrats.

The Democratic Attack on Black Lives and Black Livelihoods

Between 1916 and 1970, in what is called the Great Migration, more than 6 million blacks moved from the rural South to the cities of the North, Midwest, and West. This was a time of rapid industrial expansion in the United States, and high-paying factory jobs attracted workers of all races. During the period after World War II until about 1970, America’s economy dominated the world. Millions of black workers were able to afford homes and raise families. But three things happened to change that starting in 1970.

First, the world caught up with the United States. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the United States was the only industrialized nation that wasn’t devastated. As foreign manufacturers were slowly rebuilding atop the ashes, American exports poured into recovering markets all over the world. America’s labor unions enjoyed unique leverage during this time, because management could afford to negotiate excellent wage and benefit packages for the workers and yet still make a profit.

Starting around 1970, all of that changed. Japan, then the “Four Tigers” of Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and now dozens of nations including Brazil, India, Indonesia and heavyweight China are all competing with American manufacturers. 

Which brings us to the first great betrayal by Democrats: They joined with their Republican counterparts to adopt the gospel of “free trade,” heedless of the consequences. This began slowly, but by the Clinton years, the Democrats were indistinguishable from the Republicans. Good jobs went away, lost to cheap labor overseas. White and black workers alike suddenly found themselves working harder and making less, if they had jobs at all.

The second trend that attacked black livelihoods, along with the livelihoods of everyone else, was the increase in the cost-of-living. This is probably the least discussed element in the destruction of black livelihoods, along with the livelihoods of everyone in America, but it is perhaps the most important because relative to the other factors, it has just begun. 

The cost-of-living is continuing to rise, despite the fact that productivity is higher than ever. Why is this?

In some areas, such as imported high-tech gear and generic consumer products, costs are declining. This is misleading. For most households, the products that are getting cheaper are nonessential, whereas the cost for essentials like housing and healthcare are soaring. To show why Democrats are to blame for this assault on affordability, consider this excerpt from a California Policy Center analysis evaluating home prices in different parts of the United States:

The median price of a home in Los Angeles is a larcenous $617,000, whereas the same home in Houston will only set a family back by $189,000. Based on a 4 percent, 30-year fixed mortgage, this translates into a crippling $2,900 monthly payment in Los Angeles, [versus] a manageable $915 mortgage payment in Houston. Making house payments that low used to be normal in California. They still are in those parts of this nation, Houston included, where the progressive Democrats haven’t yet taken control.

The Democratic response to poor schools and unaffordable housing is to expand government. Hire more union teachers. Build more government housing. For 50 years, this has been their solution, and the only thing they have to show for it are the highest taxes and spending deficits in history. In recent years, building affordable housing has become more corrupt than ever, with Democrat-run cities spending over a half-million on average per unit of subsidized housing. At those prices, only a fraction of needed housing is built, and only crony developers benefit from the arrangement.

The solutions, which even Republicans usually lack the courage to espouse, are to restore competition in public education, ideally via school vouchers—good for homeschooling, religious schools, private schools, charter schools, and public schools. Break the teachers’ union monopoly. For affordable housing, break the grip of extreme environmentalists who successfully have lobbied for laws in blue states and cities that effectively have cordoned off all development. Allow suburban expansion, spend public budgets on roads instead of pensions, and the market price of housing will come back down to earth.

The Economics of All Lives Matter

One of the saddest betrayals of black and white workers in America is their betrayal at the hands of their unions. 

Arguably, these unions have been too militant about protecting wage and benefit packages and trying to increase them to keep pace with inflation, but ultimately these are tactical battles. 

On the defining strategic issues, however, these unions have betrayed their members. If that betrayal was not evident initially back in the 1970s, it should be by now. These unions have not fought effectively to prevent jobs from migrating overseas, and they haven’t fought at all to prevent an ongoing flood of cheap immigrant labor. On the issue of lowering the cost-of-living, these unions have scarcely recognized extreme environmentalism as a primary reason housing and building materials cost so much, much less tried to challenge it.

When it comes to the livelihoods of middle class and aspiring middle-class people, these overarching trends are having a decisive and decidedly colorblind impact. And the union betrayal goes beyond their failure to address the issues of offshoring, immigration, and environmentalism in a manner consistent with the interests of their members. Instead, they have adopted and supported the entire agenda of the American Left.

Moreover, they utterly fail to recognize that public-sector unions aren’t unions at all. They are government workers using government for themselves over, and sometimes even against, the interests of the public. As a result, private-sector unions support public-sector union monopolies in public education, along with the attendant leftist indoctrination of students on issues of race, gender, economics and American history, and they offer unqualified support for more government spending. This doesn’t do anything to help the members of private-sector unions which, unlike public-sector unions, have a legitimate and vital role to play in American society. Why can’t they be focused on the economic interests of their members, properly understood, and nothing else?

The Black Lives Matter movement, much like the labor movement in America today, is unconcerned with black livelihoods. Or if they are, they are tragically delusional. Black livelihoods will not be uplifted by eliminating whatever vestiges of racism may still exist in America and implementing socialism. They will be uplifted by black and white workers finding common ground within a capitalist framework, working together to reject the agenda of the global Left: offshoring manufacturing, importing cheap labor, and imposing extreme environmentalist laws.

Greatness Agenda

America’s Castrated Generals and Cuckolded ‘Experts’

If Donald J. Trump is re-elected to a second term as president, will that victory finally be enough to break the back of a military and policy “elite” who have surrendered to the anti-American mobs and the Democratic Party who made them possible?

Who does our military serve? Are they subordinated to some ineffable “conventional wisdom” about justice and racial harmony? Do they march to the beat of a “politically correct” agenda defined by the organizations like Black Lives Matter, Antifa, or to the nostrums of ivy league grandees? Are their concepts of operations inspected and approved for their “egalitarian” content by CNN and the New York Times? Or are they under the command of the citizen America elects to hold the rank of their commander-in-chief?

Do we still have civilian control over the military in America and are our services still loyal to the Constitution? Or have our generals and admirals decided to mutiny in favor of those who hate the “deplorables” and Donald Trump, the man Americans chose to lead our country and command our military? 

Since scores of cities have seen violence in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the actions of several active duty and retired senior officers indicate we have a real crisis within the most powerful military superstructure mankind has ever seen. Something must be done about that crisis now.

George Floyd should be alive today and there is no reasonable justification for how he was killed at the hands of the Minneapolis police. While he had an extensive and violent criminal record, the manner of his arrest and subsequent death rightly have led to criminal charges against the officers involved. But the violence that has erupted across scores of cities since his arrest have nothing to do with Floyd or how much black lives matter. 

As sober observers of all pigmentations have noted again and again, exactly nine unarmed black men were shot and killed last year at the hands of American police. Nine out of a population of 330 million, in a nation with 17,000 police agencies and more than 600,000 sworn peace officers. Twice that number were killed in one day in Chicago recently, without one Black Lives Matter protest. At the same time, were there in fact “systemic racism” among our police forces, it seems that that racism is against caucasian suspects, who are twice as likely to be shot than black suspects. 

America is not a racist nation. In fact, we are the only country to have gone to war with itself over the issue of racism in a war that killed more than all our casualties in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam combined. Yes, America does have racists. All countries do, just as they all have murderers, thieves, and fraudsters. But for more than two generations America’s institutions have made it illegal to be racist and to systematically discriminate on that basis, such that our 44th president was of mixed race, with a white mother and black African father. That doesn’t happen in a racist country.

Systematically racist nations to still exist—just try apply for a white-collar job in Marseilles with a North African or Muslim name, or apply for a position of importance in the British Labour Party as a Jew, or try and buy property in the Philippines if you’re not a Filipino—but America is not one of them. 

Yet the most senior U.S. naval officer, Michael M. Gilday, a man in charge of a dozen nuclear aircraft carriers, 60 submarines, 300 ships and our plans to wage war with China, Iran, or Russia, saw fit to record a five-minute “Message to Fleet” video wearing full combats and decrying institutional racism in America and her Navy. 

At the same time, in his commencement speech to the highest institution of military education, National Defense University—where, for full disclosure, I taught for five-and-a-half years—our highest-ranking officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley, felt compelled to make an apology. He apologized not because the Army has been found to have fallen short in its combat readiness, or because of a failure to provide the requisite support to the president, his only boss, but because Milley says he shouldn’t have been photographed with the president in public. 

What was the egregious sin committed by the general in his own estimation? Was he photographed in blackface or wearing a Klan hood like the Democratic governor of Virginia? Was he caught trying to grope a sleeping female journalist like Democratic Senator Al Franken? Neither. He simply stood next to his commander outside the D.C. church, located one block from the White House, that anarchist rioters had tried to burn down, after the area had been cleared by the U.S. Park Police using smoke grenades and pepper spray. Let me repeat that: smoke and pepper spray. Not machine guns and bayonets. 

For just a moment, before we move on to the fundamental issue of how Admiral Gilday’s and General Milley’s actions make a mockery of their military and constitutional duties, not to mention the utterly cowardly and disgraceful behavior of General Jim Mattis, former Marine and secretary of defense to President Trump, let me ask you a disturbing question: How do our enemies look at America after Gilday’s pandering to BLM talking points and Milley’s apology for having been seen to support the restoration of order on the streets of the nation’s capital? 

Do the People’s Liberation Army of China and the Communist Party it serves see us as capable of countering their remilitarization of the Asia Pacific region? Does the obeisance to radicals of our highest-ranking officers make the mullahs feel better about their plans to attack our forces or set down the Straits of Hormuz? And is Vladimir Putin, the hard-bitten, erstwhile KGB officer impressed by the highest representatives of the U.S. military genuflecting at the altar of political correctness run amok? 

So why have almost 20 Americans been killed on America’s streets since George Floyd’s death? Why have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage been done to hundreds and hundreds of businesses, many of them minority-owned? And how has Washington state so lost control of its territory that Seattle now has an “autonomous zone” patrolled by armed anarchists as the Democratic governor laughs about it all? 

Quite simply because the “long march through the institutions” by those who replaced dreams of Communist revolution with cultural Marxism has borne fruit. The Alinskyite strategy to eschew a frontal assault on Western values and American culture and traditions and replace it with subversion from the inside of established institutions such as the news media, Hollywood, and our schools, actually worked. 

Andrew Breitbart was right, politics is downstream from culture, but so is the U.S. military and the incestuous clique of talking heads who constitute the “expert” policy class in Washington, D.C., and thanks to Mattis, Milley, and Gilday, the depth of their corruption is finally clear for all to see. 

In truth, their utter failure and moral bankruptcy should have been obvious for all to see. 

Just choose any significant policy decision from the last 50 years. From Kissinger convincing President Nixon that it would be good for America to normalize relations with Communist China, to economic “experts” justifying the export of American manufacturing jobs overseas because, well, stuff would be cheaper. From criminally naïve neoconservatives telling George W. Bush that if we invaded Iraq, American troops would be welcomed as “liberators,” to Obama’s A Team deciding that releasing $140 billion dollars to a theocratic regime that wishes America dead would “balance” the Middle East, there is nary a decision that this fetid city made that actually served the people of America. 

All of this explains why we chose a non-politician for president in 2016. Now the question is: if Donald J. Trump is reelected to a second term as president, will that victory finally be enough to break the back of a military and policy “elite” who have surrendered to the anti-American mobs and the Democratic Party who made them possible? First we need to get him reelected.

Greatness Agenda

World Instability Is Not on Pause

Despite unrest at home, the Trump Administration has made notable progress in U.S. foreign policy. 

In the clangorous pre-electoral atmosphere created by the COVID-19 crisis, its economic consequences, and the disorders that have followed the apparent murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, there have been some important foreign policy developments, though they are largely ignored by the media. The Trump Administration’s exasperation with the conduct of Germany and China, as well as the perennial problems of Iran and North Korea, have not conveniently abated while America’s domestic preoccupations have unfolded.

Germany potentially is and should behave as if it were the third most powerful country in the world after the United States and China. It has more than twice the economy of post-Soviet Russia, and, as all European statesmen from Richelieu on have recognized, a united Germany is the most powerful jurisdiction in Europe. It is a truism to say of Germany that it was too-late unified, had great difficulty resolving whether it was an eastern or western-facing country, and that whenever it set out to assure its own security it did so at the expense of its neighbors. 

These problems have been resolved. The governmental structure of the Federal Republic of Germany has proved to be by far the most successful that has ever existed in the Germanic world; that includes the ramshackle but imperishable 700-year Habsburg Holy Roman, Austrian, and Austro-Hungarian Empires that were notoriously none of those adjectives. In effect, it was a dilapidated regime holding a perpetual costume party. 

As 8 million to 12 million Germans in Eastern Europe moved west ahead of the Red Army between 1943 and 1945 on foot and by oxcart, Germany became unambiguously a people of the West. Germany’s security has been assured since the Berlin airlift of 1948-49 by the American military guarantee in the NATO framework and by the agile and statesmanlike accommodation that President Eisenhower made for Germany in the Western alliance—as if the armies under his successful command just a decade before had not been liberating death camps in Germany that were illustrative of possibly the greatest crimes in human history.

German Conduct Today

Not since the man-child Emperor Wilhelm II fired the founder of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck, in 1890 has a fully autonomous Germany behaved responsibly as Europe’s leading power. Wilhelm fumbled Europe into World War I. The Weimar Republic that replaced him was a child of defeat and was swept away by Hitler in the Great Depression as Germany commenced its descent into hell, taking most of Europe with it again. 

German conduct was impeccable throughout the Cold War and the highest act of statesmanship in the world since World War II was probably when the founder of the Federal Republic, Konrad Adenauer, declined Stalin’s offer of reunification in exchange for neutrality and carried German opinion with him. Since the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany, that country has drifted steadily away from serious attachment to the American alliance. It remains snugly in its cocoon of the European Union and the NATO alliance, but its defense budget is anemic, and it has made itself an energy vassal of shriveled Russia. Submission to an over-mighty and unreasonable green movement has caused the government of four-term Chancellor Angela Merkel to shut down nuclear power and terrorize the world-leading German automobile industry. 

This is not Germany responsibly growing into her natural role in Europe, which the world has been waiting for these 30 years, and resuming a Bismarckian vocation. It is a misguided sloughing off of the American alliance for ill-considered deference to Russia and the long-discredited, failed, chimera of the East European Left.    

Merkel, who had every opportunity to be a co-leader of the West and the undisputed premier statesman of Europe, started fairly well as chancellor 15 years ago, showing the sensibility of the daughter of a Lutheran pastor from the former communist state of East Germany. She gradually transformed herself into a placeman whose morally highest point was in the admission of a million pitiful refugees from the humanitarian disaster of the Middle East and North Africa. But she has largely squandered the mandate of her Christian Democratic Union and has been struggling rather ineffectually for several years, giving way to pressure as it arose. 

Merkel is retiring in the next year; it is not clear who will succeed her, and the two traditional main parties of Germany—the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats—are clinging to each other while treading water, barely able to maintain a parliamentary majority, while the other half of the electorate is divided between the old eastern Communists, militant greens, a partially skinhead right-wing alternative party, a party of cyber-kooks, and the entirely respectable small business-based Free Democrats. 

If it becomes impossible for Germany to produce a government based on fewer than four or five parties, it is going to become politically erratic; the historical precedents for such a condition in Germany are discouraging. 

The Trump administration is right to require Germany to behave like a serious ally or cease to expect to be treated like one, but the time is coming, presumably right after the U.S. election, when serious and constructive proposals should be made to rebuild the vital American alliance with Germany, from which Germany has derived a great deal more benefit lately than has the United States, as Trump points out in his inimitable fashion from time to time. The recently announced 30 percent reduction of American forces in Germany is justified, but this important association of the West’s two most formidable countries must not be allowed simply to disintegrate.  

China and Hong Kong—and Don’t Forget North Korea

China has taken advantage of the tumultuous events, including the coronavirus it produced and negligently allowed to spread, to try to suppress Hong Kong completely. This is a violation of its treaty with the United Kingdom, to which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has intelligently replied that he will accept all of the 3 million citizens of Hong Kong who were alive at the time the treaty went into effect in 1997. The United States should offer to receive the rest, and the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan should coordinate with the financial establishments in New York, London, and Tokyo to take all of Hong Kong’s strategic financial industry and divide it between themselves, leaving only crumbs for the People’s Republic of China unless it honors its treaty commitments. 

The skirmishing between China and India in the Himalayas is an opportunity for the United States to strengthen further its excellent and important ties with India. And the Iranians and North Koreans must understand that if they proceed to the threshold of a nuclear military capability, the United States will unilaterally destroy those programs militarily. Those regimes have been given every opportunity to reform their conduct and make themselves less clearly ineligible for the status of nuclear powers, or to negotiate, with no embarrassment, arrangements that confirm their non-nuclear status for valuable consideration. If they persist, the United States must stop them. Only the United States can do that and it can do it easily in one hour with precise missile attacks from the adjacent forces it has in place, with no American casualties. 

This would be a salutary lesson to all those tempted to emulate the ayatollahs and the Kimists in seeking the dangerous mystique of nuclear military power. All the neighbors of both countries would be grateful to the United States for this service. Success, however it came, for American efforts to avoid a nuclear-armed North Korea coupled with reasonably subtle encouragements of Taiwan in its ostentatious wish not to be absorbed by the People’s Republic, would assist Beijing in recognizing that the hegemony over much of Asia, Australasia, and Africa—implicit in its “Belt and Road” program—will be a much more difficult and contested enterprise than Beijing had imagined.

Making the point that the mad espousal of universal democracy by George W. Bush and the quasi-pacifist isolationism of Barack Obama have been replaced by Nixon-Reagan realism is entirely consistent with Trump’s election promises and would produce a welcome resurrection of stability in the world.

America's Talking

Outcry Over Troop Reductions in Germany Ignores Necessary Foreign Policy Debate

President Trump’s plan to reduce the U.S. military footprint in Germany points to even more significant aspects of his foreign policy inclinations.

Reports that President Trump intends to reduce the number of U.S. troops stationed in Germany has elicited extensive protest. Influential editorials on the Right and the Left have rejected the move in dismissive tones, citing the supposed hypothetical impact on relations with Germany or the military competition with Russia.

Such predictive approaches reflect the predisposition in opinion-making circles simply to stake out positions against the White House, no matter what those positions may be: if the president is for something, these voices reliably declare their opposition. 

It would be more useful to recognize the proposal as well as the resistance to it as an inflection point in larger debates over American foreign policy.

Awareness of this looming debate is all the more urgent because, to date, foreign policy largely has been absent from the developing contest between the president and former Vice President Joe Biden heading into the November election. The differences over the size and character of force posture overseas can shed light on foreign policy fault lines and the larger debates the nation really needs.

The current controversy represents at least the third time that Trump has pursued a reduction of the overseas military footprint. His aspiration to end the war in Afghanistan has never been a secret, while the efforts to reduce U.S. involvement in Syria came more abruptly. Nevertheless, they were cut from the same cloth. 

So is Trump’s Germany initiative. His consistent predisposition is toward a less expansive military presence around the world. Most of his current critics have taken the Germany decision in isolation rather than addressing this clear pattern. 

Strong Defense Is Smart Defense

This president surely is not opposed to a strong defense policy, as seen with his large Pentagon outlays as well as the establishment of the Space Force. Clearly, however, Trump is skeptical of the establishment view that American national security is best served by a seemingly unlimited archipelago of military stationings around the world. 

Afghanistan, Syria, and Germany are of course three very different cases—each overdetermined by complicated histories—and no one should suggest that extricating American presence from any of them would be easy. On the other hand, the security arguments opposing the troop reduction plan for Germany seem particularly weak. 

The notion that our presence in Europe deters Russia was disproven in Crimea and eastern Ukraine: U.S. troops far away in Western Europe did not stop Russian troops in the east. In addition, Moscow has shifted toward reliance on forms of hybrid warfare and disinformation not particularly impeded by the sort of large troop presence under discussion in Germany. In order to deter the new forms of Russian warfare, we need cyber and communication capabilities which would not even necessarily be located physically overseas. 

Trump’s critics argue that our presence in Germany enables the United States to project power into the Middle East. This logistical role is certainly valid, but the focus on the instrumental significance of the troop presence in Germany should not be grounds to avoid the underlying strategic question: What, after all, is the goal of that power projection in general or, more polemically, exactly which Middle East wars has the United States won thanks to the troop presence in Germany? 

U.S. troops in Germany are instead a legacy feature of the post-World War II occupation and especially the Cold War, when West Germany was a frontline state facing the Iron Curtain and the Warsaw Pact. Russian tanks rolling through the Fulda Gap into western Europe were a credible threat, and the U.S. military was positioned to deter precisely such an attack. 

All that is history now, and the eastern flank of NATO no longer runs through a divided Germany but instead from the Baltic states in the north—previously occupied by the Soviet Union—through the string of former Russian satellites, now free nations, from Poland to Bulgaria. If the American goal is to deter potential Russian military aggression, then troop deployments should follow the front and be moved out of Germany to Poland or elsewhere in Central Europe. 

Exactly such a move has been under public discussion for quite some time, so the journalistic insinuation that the president’s directive was a capricious response to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent declining to attend the proposed G-7 meeting is uninformed at best.  

Competing Priorities, Different Threats

There are certainly arguments against redeployment from Germany to Poland, including the transaction costs of building new infrastructure. Yet an honest debate would measure such problems against the possible military advantage of a repositioning or even the political opportunity to pressure Russia with the prospect of such a move. 

We could, for example, propose a move into Poland unless Russia were to agree to reduce its capacity in its own western district. Instead what we are witnessing now is the foreign policy establishment rallying around unquestioned Atlanticist assumptions from a past era, as well as a Pentagon deeply resistant to change and quite adept at relying on its bureaucratic inertia to subvert civilian leadership, especially leadership on the part of this disruptive president.

At this point, we do not yet know the destination of the troops who may leave Germany. As noted, it could be plausible to expect some increases in redeployments into the allied countries to the east of Germany.. There is, however, simultaneously a grander strategic vision that points toward a different answer—that the greater threat to the U.S. role in the world is not Russia—which, after all, is ultimately a declining power albeit with revanchist aspirations—but rather China, which under Xi Jinping hopes to become the new hegemon. 

Chinese military ambitions in the South China Sea and more broadly in the Indo-Pacific necessitate enhanced U.S. presence. It is there that the United States should be directing its limited military resources, rather than in safe and secure western Germany. At least that would be a worthwhile debate—choosing between giving greater priority to our Atlantic or to our Pacific character.

A similar calculation could pertain to U.S. military presence in West Africa, where we participate in counterterrorist engagements in former French colonies. Questioning the scope of that engagement is not an argument to cease our cooperation with France peremptorily—nor has Trump proposed a complete withdrawal from Germany. To the contrary, some 25,000 troops will remain. Yet as European leaders increasingly have come to acknowledge, they have to take more responsibility for their own defense and security in their immediate neighborhoods. 

Both Merkel and Macron have stated that Europe must do more, but they have yet to identify necessary budgetary increases. This is hardly surprising. As long as the United States provides unconditioned security support, European leaders will feel entitled to it. A gradual U.S. drawdown would force Europe to come to grips with its own security needs. 

So, the resources reduced in Germany could be shifted to the defense of Poland and its neighbors, or they might be moved to the Indo-Pacific, or some combination of both shifts could be arranged. That is the discussion we should be having, a function of the relative threat assessments of Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China. 

Pax Americana?

There is a third option we should consider: just bring the troops home. 

The bipartisan foreign policy assumption that it is in the U.S. national interest to maintain the current level of military presence is a very costly one, just as it regularly puts servicemen and women at risk. 

Must this stance continue and, if so, must it continue in the same way? These are two separate questions. The former asks whether a Pax Americana is really in America’s interest. A de facto national—populist?—bipartisan majority supports the idea that nation-building at home should take precedence over nation-building abroad. The second question asks whether contemporary security strategy requires the same type of presence that prevailed in the past, as the nature of warfare and international competition changes. 

Technology, especially but not limited to artificial intelligence (AI), is a major variable in this calculation, but so are communications and social media. Russia and China operate extensively through disinformation, soft power, and elite capture. American society has immense soft power potential and communicative resources, but these are not being used strategically by the Pentagon in the great power competition.

Unfortunately, these wider-ranging questions concerning American force posture are ignored in the short-sighted attacks on Trump’s decision regarding troop levels in Germany. 

The German View

Yet there are also some very specific German angles on the matter. Anyone in Berlin—let alone journalists in New York or Washington—who claims to be surprised by the proposed reduction is either lying or comatose. The Trump administration repeatedly signaled that the U.S. commitment to European defense and NATO, and to Germany in particular, would be conditioned on evidence that Europe—and again, Germany in particular, as the largest economy in the region by far—would carry a fair share of the costs. That share has been widely defined in terms of meeting the Wales Pledge, the 2014 decision by NATO nations to commit 2 percent of their GDP to defense. 

Some of the smaller Central European countries have taken the laudable step of meeting that goal—they understand the threat from Russia, much more so than countries further to the West and further away from Russia—or they are at least on track to meet that level by the target date of 2024. 

Germany, on the other hand, has not taken the necessary steps; indeed, the percentage of its GDP slated for defense is predicted to decline. The next general election in Germany is scheduled for 2021. Merkel has made it clear that she will not seek an additional term. Especially without Merkel as chancellor candidate, the governing coalition will change, and every plausible outcome—likely with the Greens, potentially with the Left Party as well—will be less conservative, less Atlanticist, and more anti-American. 

That outcome will hardly produce an auspicious environment for American military assets, to say the least. 

Yet an argument to recognize the logic in the troop redeployment does not need to rely on such futurist speculations about Germany after Merkel; significant components of the policies of the Merkel government itself already point to differences with Washington on a scale that warrant serious reconsideration of the security cooperation. These involve Berlin’s predisposition to cultivate cozy relationships with precisely those two countries that the 2017 National Security Strategy recognized as systemic rivals, Russia and China. One might call this fraternizing with the enemy.

Despite clear objections, not only from the current American administration but also previously from the Obama Administration, Berlin has proceeded with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, increasing its susceptibility to energy blackmail by Moscow. Because the project intentionally bypasses Central Europe, it is also viewed in the region as an attempt to establish a collaboration between Russia and Germany over the objections of some of Germany’s neighbors. Germany nonetheless has proceeded with the pipeline, despite its standard rhetoric of multilateralism and European solidarity. 

Given Germany’s commitment to an energy policy that will considerably strengthen Russia’s hand in Europe, the expectation that the United States should continue to pay for German security becomes less and less tenable.

In addition to the Nord Stream problem with Russia, Germany’s insistence on bolstering its robust economic ties with China makes the argument for U.S. support for German security even weaker. Germany will assume the presidency of the EU soon, and one of its primary goals is a summit with Xi Jinping, intended to focus on trade. While the European Union has issued muted criticism of China’s violation of its treaty obligations concerning the status of Hong Kong, Germany appears to want to continue full-speed ahead toward greater business cooperation with China, with apparently only evinces perfunctory concern for human rights and rule of law. Just as Washington has been moving toward a tougher stance and prospective decoupling from Beijing, Berlin is about to deliver the EU to China.

Long-Standing Trans-Atlantic Tensions

These tensions with Germany over both Nord Stream 2 and trade with China are by no means partisan anomalies of the Trump Administration. Congressional opposition to the pipeline has been emphatically bipartisan, particularly in the National Defense Authorization Act passed in December which placed sanctions on the project. Support for Hong Kong is equally bipartisan, as is the broader turn in the China discussion. 

Germany is on the wrong side of both of these issues. 

These trans-Atlantic security policy differences should also be evaluated in relationship to the discussion around NATO. 

Initially, the Trump Administration faced criticism for conditioning support for NATO allies on their willingness to meet their NATO pledge. Yet that stress test ended up demonstrating that U.S. support for NATO is bipartisan and stronger than in many of the other major member nations. 

French President Emanuel Macron has denounced NATO as “brain dead” and repeatedly argues for an alternative security architecture. The NATO member with the largest military force, after the United States, is Turkey with its difficult leader Recep Erdogan and with the burden of repressive domestic policies that make the EU members in NATO uncomfortable. 

Meanwhile, Germany does not want to pay its defense bills, maintains clearly inadequate military capacities, and—when it does choose to participate in military operations such as in Afghanistan—it cherry-picks the safest assignments for its soldiers. Trump’s insistence that NATO members pay their way is the least of the organization’s problems.

An Anti-War President

Yet Trump’s plan to reduce the size of the American military footprint in Germany also points to an even more significant aspect of his foreign policy inclinations. Not only has he called into question the legacy staffing level of military outposts overseas; he is simply more resistant to military engagement than any of his predecessors have been for decades. 

He is, in other words, the most anti-war president in living memory. 

To date, he has refrained from entering into any major overseas military entanglement, despite extraordinary provocations, especially from Iran. That is hardly a flaw. President Obama had his Libya episode, George W. Bush went into Afghanistan and Iraq, Bill Clinton attacked the former Yugoslavia, George H. W. Bush led the war against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and Ronald Reagan sent forces into Grenada and Lebanon. One has to reach all the way back to the Jimmy Carter years to find a president who did not deploy American troops into action (and even he sent U.S. Special Forces to Iran on the ill-fated mission to rescue U.S. hostages in Tehran). 

Recollecting Carter in today’s context seems incongruous. In terms of temperament and values, Carter and Trump surely could not be further apart. Nor can one imagine any reciprocal admiration between them. Yet Carter avoided becoming a wartime president, as has Trump, at least so far. In addition, Carter’s notorious agonizing over a national malaise finds a distant echo, albeit in a different rhetorical register, in Trump’s vision of retrieving greatness: Similar diagnoses perhaps, but with very different prescriptions.

It is worth following the logic of this unexpected analogy one step further. Carter, the president without a war, was a one-term president. This might suggest that presidents who wage war, at least limited wars, have an electoral bonus and that therefore Trump, without a war to call his own, may find himself at a disadvantage in November. That is a grim conclusion indeed because it suggests that to gain support from the globalist foreign policy establishment, a president has to send troops into battle. It might also suggest that the electorate, at least on the margins, can be mobilized to vote by the news of violent conflicts and the prospects of victory. 

But can avoiding wars win elections?

Of course, foreign policy is hardly the only factor in a presidential election, and certainly it is not the most important one. In any case, it is difficult at this point to evaluate the choice we will face in November since Biden has maintained silence on his foreign policy plans. Dove or hawk on China? Another Obama-style “reset” with Russia despite everything Putin has done? Return or not to the Iran deal? More talks with North Korea or not? What about Cuba and Venezuela? 

At this point, we have no way to know: Biden’s foreign policy is still a black box. 

Nonetheless, the anti-Trump foreign policy establishment is sure to fall in line behind Biden, whatever he proposes. In that case, however, the electorate will face an unanticipated choice, between a Biden who, during his years in the Senate, voted for the Bosnian interventions, the bombing of Serbia and the 2002 invasion of Iraq, and Donald Trump, the president who has kept us out of war so far.