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.

Greatness Agenda

DACA Shows Us the Problem with Moralizing Public Policy

Moralizing the immigration issue eviscerates the type of hard, systemic thinking it so badly needs.

As the ever-elegant wordsmith and political essayist Jonathan Swift once said: “You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.”

Swift’s maxim springs to mind whenever I come across anti-borders types; a cohort that relies almost solely on moral rather than policy-based arguments when making its case. Expect them out in full, sloganeering force when the Supreme Court decides the fate of former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in just a few weeks’ time.

My organization has been investigating DACA since its 2012 inception, as well as filing legal briefs in the string of court challenges that have followed since. As we argue in our current brief before the court, the Obama Administration circumvented both constitutional and administrative law when it unilaterally decreed that the Department of Homeland Security could simply stop enforcing congressional immigration law whenever and in relation to whomever it pleased under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion.”

But not only is DACA unlawful, but it’s also terrible policy from a rule-of-law perspective. A. V. Dicey, the 19th-century English jurist and originator of the phrase “rule of law,” stated throughout his writings on the subject that a nation’s laws had to have certainty, consistency, and equality in application, lest they be trampled by those willing to abuse them for selfish gain. This is precisely what amnesties like DACA do.

In 1986, when Congress passed a law granting amnesty to roughly 3 million illegal aliens, it sent a big green light to would-be illegal border-crossers that American generosity was ripe for exploiting. A couple of years before the bill passed, Secretary of State George Schultz had warned that amnesty would only induce more illegal immigration. He was exactly right.

Within a few years of the 1986 amnesty taking effect, the illegal-alien population had swelled right back to pre-amnesty levels. And by 2000, after a few smaller amnesties were passed in the 1990s, the illegal-alien population had grown to 9 million. Today, some estimates put the number at over 20 million.

In other words, amnesty doesn’t “solve” the problem of illegal immigration. It only perpetuates it.

And as the average American knows, especially those who have had their social security numbers stolen by illegal aliens or who have to compete with them for low-skilled jobs and low-income housing, illegal immigration is not a victimless problem.

Further, the fallout from it doesn’t just affect receiving countries like the United States. Years ago, when the major environmental groups actually spoke out against mass immigration and its effects on urban sprawl, top Sierra Club official Nick Ervin wrote:

I firmly believe that we do neither our homeland nor our planet (including its human members) a favor by acting as a continuing sponge for immigrants from other lands. In doing so, we retard the impetus behind population and economic reforms in other nations.

Without mentioning it explicitly, Ervin is describing the so-called “safety-valve” effect of porous borders. When places like America let places like Mexico (80 percent of DACA aliens) relieve their peoples’ pent-up frustrations by allowing them to simply up and leave, the pressure on corrupt leaders to make sorely needed reforms dissipates. This is what programs like DACA do.

DACA aliens would be ideal instruments of change back in their homelands. They are of prime-age (between 18 and 40), have a few dollars in their pocket, and they’ve seen what a stable society looks like. It is little wonder then that Mexico’s leaders are pushing so hard for our Supreme Court to declare DACA lawful.

Remember this, by the way, the next time you hear activists and pundits claim that DACA medical workers have been essential to America’s COVID-19 recovery. Ignoring the counterarguments for a moment and assuming this was true, who might need these workers more? The United States with a GDP per capita of $62,000? Or the nations of Central America (10 percent of recipients) where it’s $3,700? As Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki once noted, too often mass immigration acts like “policies of plunder.”

Moralizing the immigration issue eviscerates the type of hard, systemic thinking it so badly needs. Marxist professor and erstwhile darling of the far-Left Slavoj Zizek has routinely blasted the naïveté of anti-borders advocates. As he wrote earlier this year, the position that “every individual has the right to move to a country of his/her choice, and that this country has a duty to provide him/her with a residence,” although “crowd-pleasing,” is much too abstract and “ignores the complex context of social totality.”

In other words, moralizing the problem will not solve it; it just confuses and prolongs it. Harvard demographer Michael Teitelbaum captured this complexity well when he said immigration is not a “right versus wrong” but a “right versus right” issue. That is, “the task is to assess costs and benefits for all parties concerned, and over the long run.”

For DACA aliens, their benefits include the relatively high wages they enjoy while staying here (our average wages are nine times those in Mexico) as well as the remittances they send back home. Then there is their appeal to “fairness”—an argument that seems to say, “we’ve broken your immigration, labor and social security laws for so long, it’d be unfair to start enforcing them now.”

On the other side, you have the negative effects, which, it must be noted, too often hit the most vulnerable Americans hardest. Not only do they have to compete against illegal aliens for things like wages, housing, and school placements, they endure the added insult of being called immoral by the media and political elite whenever they complain about it.

For the average American, how this all adds up is obvious. For those still unable to “reason themselves into a position” on DACA, if they only focused their emotions on whom, as Americans, they owed an ethical-political duty to, it would be just as obvious.

Great America

California’s Ill-Conceived Forest Fire Prevention Shortcut

If the California state government and PG&E are willing to put their citizens and customers first then both will employ alternative policies for preventing forest fires, policies that do not harm an already struggling economy.

Instead of improving land and forest management, California is using a wildfire prevention shortcut, sporadically shutting down electrical lines during dry and windy weather. According to a study published in April by the Manhattan Institute, this strategy is costing the California economy millions. 

In 2017 and 2018, California experienced several mega-catastrophe wildfires. This included the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people, practically destroyed the City of Paradise, and leveled 19,000 structures. The cause of this wildfire has been traced to downed power lines installed and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E). PG&E has the most service territory in California, covering 70,000 miles. Its lines have also been responsible for 44 out of the 45 large wildfires caused by downed power lines over the past 10 years. 

According to the Manhattan Institute report, faulty electrical equipment was only to blame for 12 percent of California’s fires in 2017, but half of California’s 20 most destructive wildfires can be traced to electrical equipment. In 2017 alone, faulty electrical equipment in PG&E territory was responsible for burning 228,271 acres, destroying 8,892 structures, and killing 44 people. CalFire determined that 12 of those 14 fires were caused by faulty equipment owned by PG&E. 

To avoid future fires of this kind, California’s governor and PG&E began imposing “Public Safety Power Shutoffs.” This means that during windy and dry weather, power companies shut off electricity. In October 2019, 1 million residents were affected by outages imposed by PG&E, CNN reports. Of that number, 42,000 customers had their power shut off for 55 hours. 

This new report demonstrates that these preemptive shutoffs impose significant costs on thousands of California residents and businesses, while acting as a cheap form of insurance for the electrical company. PG&E was forced to pay 13.5 billion for the role their equipment played in starting fires in California from 2015-2019, reports the New York Times

Preemptively shutting down power lines costs PG&E significantly less than paying for fire damage. Though this strategy may make sense for PG&E, it makes no sense for their customers. 

The Manhattan Institute study weighs the probability of electrical-caused wildfires and the damage caused by such fires with the economic consequences of preemptive electrical shutdowns. Even after taking into account loss of life, the destruction of homes, businesses, and land, as well as the cost of fighting a fire the study ultimately found that preemptive electrical outages cause a higher amount of economic damage. The study estimates that outages impose a cost of $160-$320 upon each customer per day.  

Just like the current debate between continuing COVID-19 lockdowns and reopening the economy, it is difficult to compare economic losses with the potential loss of life. However, Californians should not have to choose between preemptive electrical shutdowns and wildfires—not when there are other options for keeping power lines safe in dry and windy weather. 

The Manhattan Institute’s report suggests several alternatives to preemptive shutdowns. It recommends the active monitoring of equipment by both PG&E personnel and as well as remote technologies like drones. 

Additionally, the report suggests that PG&E could begin to implement smart grid technology. A smart grid would detect a downed or sparking line and could then be shut off in isolation while simultaneously rerouting power to customers through a different line. 

Further, PG&E should consider putting some power lines underground in their most at-risk territories. Underground power lines are often cost-prohibitive, but if done gradually and only where necessary such an infrastructure investment might be worth it. 

Anaheim, California may serve as a helpful model here. Since 1990, the city gradually has been burying its power lines, funded through a 4 percent surcharge on electricity bills, according to the Anaheim city government website.

Why aren’t these other options being considered? It might be that PG&E has a monopoly on its service territory and thus has less incentive to invest in the infrastructure for safer transmission lines.

Even worse than PG&E’s reluctance to invest in new infrastructure is its problem maintaining the infrastructure it already has in place. The report found that some of PG&E’s transmission and distribution equipment in high-risk fire areas is more than 100 years old. Further, PG&E has not been replacing this old equipment at a fast enough rate to ensure safe operations. 

Another report by a California commission found that the Camp Fire was caused by a power line, built over a century ago, that runs through a heavily wooded and mountainous area known for experiencing strong winds. The commission determined that PG&E did not properly maintain this line and was thus responsible for the deadliest wildfire in California’s history.  

The company plans to replace equipment and trim trees around their power lines over the next ten years, but this should be done much more quickly and other measures listed should be implemented as well. 

PG&E is not the only one choosing the easy way out. Both California and the federal government have ignored their obligations to protect citizens and provide them with competent infrastructure. For too long California legislators and governors have deferred to the environmental lobby, refusing adequate forest thinning measures, brush clearing, and have not practiced enough prescribed burns. These policies ensure that California continues to remain at risk for bigger and deadlier wildfires.  

If the California state government and PG&E are willing to put their citizens and customers first then both will employ alternative policies for preventing forest fires, policies that do not harm an already struggling economy. 

Greatness Agenda

Let America Work Again

It shouldn’t take planes falling out of the sky or a pandemic to convince American policymakers of the need not only to make great things in America but also to afford Americans the opportunity to make them.

It was Monday morning on March 10, 2019, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 lurched away from the gate, rolled to a sprint, and peeled its wheels off the runway for the last time. Aboard, 157 souls including eight Americans and one veteran on vacation doing missionary work, were flying.

Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 302 plunged back to earth, trailing white smoke across the sky until reaching its terminus near Bishoftu, Ethiopia. All aboard perished when the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft screamed into the ground at nearly 700 miles per hour, leaving a massive crater with wreckage driven up to 30 feet deep into the soil.

That tragedy put visa worker programs in the spotlight after a report in Bloomberg revealed Boeing had cut costs by outsourcing 737 Max production to low-paid foreign subcontractors, coders, and software engineers.

Mark Rabin, a former Boeing software engineer, said the company’s decision to outsource “was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code.” It often was the case, he said, that “it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.” 

Boeing denies outsourcing played any role in the faulty flight-control software that forced the plane into a fatal nosedive. 

Though the flames that consumed Flight 302 have long since flickered out, the economic crisis in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has reignited the debate about outsourcing and visa worker programs. 

Over the weekend, 30 college student organizations sent a letter to President Donald Trump: “Mr. President, in addition to ending the Bush-Obama [Optional Practical Training] program, we strongly urge you to suspend the H-1B program.” 

These college students are correct to be concerned and they have an interest in paying attention to what the administration does next. These programs now pose an acute threat to their job prospects and the wages of our best and brightest, especially those in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As things stand, not only will the class of 2020 enter the worst job market since the Great Depression, it will compete with a government-subsidized labor force of H-1B and OPT workers as well.

Optional Practical Training is a component of the F-1 visa program, which enables foreign nationals to study as full-time students in the United States. As a condition for entry, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asks F-1 students to maintain a residence abroad that they “have no intention of giving up.” In other words, applicants must show their intention to return to their country of origin at the end of their study. But OPT offers a loophole out of this requirement.

F-1 visa holders can apply for 12 months of “temporary” employment through OPT, including those who have graduated and should be on their way home. At the end of that period, foreign nationals in STEM may apply for a 24-month extension

A tax break of as much as $12,000 incentivizes American businesses in hiring OPT workers over equally, or even more qualified young Americans. Unlike the H-1B, which requires employers to pay workers a wage that corresponds to the occupation and the region where they will be employed, there are no wage requirements for OPT hires. 

Many F-1 visa holders who work the full 36 months with OPT will overstay their visas and slip into illegal status. Not to worry, though, because they can pursue a green card by transferring to a dual intent visa, such as the H-1B.

With a few twists and turns, then, foreign nationals who entered the United States as temporary students join the ranks of H-1B visa workers displacing Americans in STEM occupations. 

As with OPT, there are underhanded incentives not to hire American, such as loopholes in the program’s wage rules that make it easy for employers to underpay H-1B workers compared to Americans. 

The Economic Policy Institute earlier this month found 60 percent of H-1B positions certified by the U.S. Department of Labor are assigned wage levels well below the local median wage for the occupation. This sad fact is an open secret among H-1B employers.

“I know from my experience as a tech CEO that H-1Bs are cheaper than domestic hires,” said Vivek Wadhwa, an advocate for expanding visa worker programs. “Technically, these workers are supposed to be paid a ‘prevailing wage’ but this mechanism is riddled with loopholes.” 

It’s common that employers who share Wadhwa’s fondness for outsourcing force Americans to train their lower-paid H-1B replacements as a condition of severance pay. As a result, there are millions of STEM degree holders in the United States who have given up seeking employment in their fields because firms have incentives either not to hire them or not to retain their services in favor of hiring cheaper visa workers. This contributes to the narrative that America has a severe STEM worker shortage, exaggerated to benefit those who exploit outsourcing.

Critical worker shortages would be reflected in substantially higher pay, but wages in many STEM occupations—such as computer science and information technology—remain stagnant. The Wall Street Journal acknowledged a direct connection between the H-1B program and “lower wages and employment for American tech workers” in 2017. 

Even if there are fewer workers than jobs, the result is a healthy, tight labor market that encourages employers either to make themselves more attractive by offering better wages or invest in labor-saving technologies. The alternative is the perpetuation of programs that provide companies with cheap labor at the cost of American jobs.

In the aftermath of Flight 302, it came to light that Boeing primarily used the H-1B program to outsource. But OPT hires also may have played a role. Rabin, who was involved in software testing for the 737 Max, remarked about offices across from Seattle’s Boeing Field, where “recent college graduates employed by the Indian software developer HCL Technologies Ltd. occupied several rows of desks” working on code for Boeing. These “temporary workers” made as little as $9 an hour to develop and test software, compared to the $41$46 hourly wages of a regular hire on a 40-hour workweek.

It shouldn’t take planes falling out of the sky or a pandemic to convince American policymakers of the need not only to make great things in America but also to afford Americans the opportunity to make them. President Trump, as students wrote last week, “can make this right by ending the OPT program and suspending the H-1B program.”

Great America

The Doctrine of Media Untruth

When knowledge, wisdom, independent thought, even basic competence were no longer requisites for success, then the media naturally slid into mediocrity, and mastered networking and obsequiousness instead of valuing independence.

As a general rule, when the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Service, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CNN begin to parrot a narrative, the truth often is found in simply believing just the opposite.

Put another way, the media’s “truth” is a good guide to what is abjectly false. Perhaps we can call the lesson of this valuable service, the media’s inadvertent ability to convey truth by disguising it with transparent bias and falsehood, the “Doctrine of Media Untruth.”

Take the strange case of the respective records of liberal New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Florida counterpart Ron DeSantis. Both states have roughly equal populations, with Florida slightly larger by about 2 million. Both have populations that travel daily back and forth between their respective major cities. Both are major international tourist and travel hubs. Both have widely diverse populations.

Both have large numbers of retirees and long-term-care homes. Yet, New York has suffered 14 times the number of coronavirus deaths as has Florida. Florida is now increasingly open, and on May 19 saw 54 deaths attributed to the virus. That same day, New York was completely locked down and yet saw nearly twice that number at 105 deaths.

One would never know from the media of the contrasting fates of the two states during the epidemic.DeSantis is often rendered little more than a reckless leader who exposed Floridians to needless danger. Cuomo, in contrast, increasingly is deified by the media as likely presidential timber who finesses press conferences in the lively fashion of his legendary beloved father, and iconic liberal, Mario Cuomo.

Yet on the principle of media’s commitment to untruth, the public legitimately could deduce from the hagiographic news coverage that the frenetic Cuomo has proven the most incompetent governor in the nation in dealing with the virus. He sent the infected into vulnerable long-term care homes. He neither applied social distancing to, nor cleaned, mass transit. And Cuomo exaggerated his need for some medical supplies, while neglecting shortages in others.

In contrast, the media furor at DeSantis is a good guide to his successes in both mitigating viral fatalities while charting Florida’s path back to economic normality.

Hagiography of the Unfit and Unprofessional

The media assures us that failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is a statuesque heroic figure who is an experienced state politician, a successful polymath, and would be a valuable asset as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick, but even better—wink-and-nod—a likely next president.

That new media consensus narrative is best typified by a recent and obsequious promo piece in the Washington Post. So given the media deification and the Doctrine of Media Untruth, we might assume that Abrams never has held statewide office, in incoherent fashion could not concede her legitimate defeat in the last Georgia gubernatorial race, and until recently still had not paid off an enormous credit card, student, and tax debt well over $200,000.

In other words, read the media narrative on Abrams and without knowing much else, one could conclude that she is not a photogenic candidate; she is not gracious in defeat; and she is without much experience of victory. Her baggage and lack of even a statewide constituency would mostly hurt a Biden ticket, which explains why his opponents hope that she is the vice-presidential nominee.

The Doctrine of Media Untruth was a valuable guide during the serial psychodramas to abort Donald Trump’s presidency. When Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee was canonized for tele-diagnosing Donald Trump as unhinged and in need of forced removal under the 25th Amendment, we knew the media glorification signaled she was unprofessional in making such a diagnosis of a patient she never met, and would never dare offer such a long-distance mental assessment of presidential candidate Joe Biden, based on his obvious cognitive impairment, memory lapses, and frequent cul-de-sac patterns of thought.

Trump’s antics simply lured the snails out of their shells and showed the public they were glorified slugs all along.

The more that CNN and MSNBC put ambulance-chasing lawyer Michael Avenatti on the air, and gushed about his tailored suits, his possible presidential gambit, his cocky take-downs of Trump, and his advocacy of supposed female victims of the predatory Brett Kavanaugh, the more we knew he was a fraud, a criminal, and likely a legal predator of his own clients. That he was sent to prison was predictable the more one heard the media gush.

Do we remember that for a while “Bob” Mueller was Washington’s hallowed prosecutor, investigator, or inquisitor par excellence? No wonder he had assembled a “dream team” of “all stars” who, as “hunter-killer” squads of legal eagles, would tear apart Trump’s supposedly doddering third-stringers and send Trump either to jail or into ignominious exile. So, the more that legal eagle narrative saturated the liberal media landscape, the more we knew the opposite was true.

Mueller himself had a spotty history. He was both physically and cognitively unable to run an effective two-year high-intensity investigation. He was the un-Durham—as leaky and hodge-podge as the latter’s probe is quiet and professional. Mueller likely outsourced his tasks to an incestuous group of partisan and progressive lawyers, many of them incompetent, with conflicts of interest and blinded by partisanship.

In the end, Team Mueller’s chief legacy was burning through more than $32 million in federal funds, hiding evidence, rigging a now-withdrawn indictment of Michael Flynn, initially hiding the amorous unprofessionalism of Lisa Page and Peter Strzok—and Mueller himself testifying before Congress that he knew little of anything about the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS, the fonts of his own investigation.

Mythology of the Weak and Pathetic 

The country once knew little of Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). But once the media sanctified his role after the 2018 election as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, we knew what lay ahead. No sooner had the Renaissance Schiff assumed the chairmanship of the committee than we were lectured ad nauseam how he was a Harvard Law graduate, with a sly sense of humor, who had he not blessed the country with his stellar political career otherwise might well have been a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He ran his committee with flair and competence lacking under the former chairman, the supposedly plodding dairy farmer Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). In other words, we quickly discovered the truth through the Doctrine of Media Untruth.

Within about a year, the public knew that Schiff was a fraud. He had suppressed key testimonies that long ago revealed that the functionaries in the collusion hoax had admitted under oath they had no evidence for the accusations they made daily in the media, and that CrowdStrike, in fact, could not prove a Russian genesis for the hacking of DNC emails.

Schiff himself tapped into the communications records of his own colleague and the former chairman of his committee, Nunes. He lied habitually, most egregiously in denying that he or his staff had anything to do with the Ukrainian “whistleblower” when in fact his team had been in close communications with him.

Each time Schiff assured the media of “bombshells,” that the “walls were closing in,” or that there were all sorts of new top-secret, classified, rarified information known only to him, which would shortly “prove” Trump “collusion,” we understood that he was a con man and prevaricator who had no proof at all or any such evidence. Whatever report he issued (cf. the “Schiff memo”), would certainly be dishonest and not factual. And, of course, it was.

Empowering of the Deceptive Expertocracy

Nowhere has the Doctrine of Media Untruth been more helpful than in following Trump during the coronavirus epidemic. The media fixated on hydroxychloroquine because Trump said it might be a game-changer and he took it himself as a prophylactic. That ensured that the ubiquitous, long-tested, mostly safe, and cheap anti-malarial, anti-lupus household drug would suddenly be declared useless and deadly.

Would the media ever repent and empirically report that in some cases hydroxychloroquine is considered to be efficacious in treating the early symptoms of the disease by front-line doctors, in line with a series of pre-COVID-19 studies that it could be helpful against SARs-like viruses?

If tomorrow Barack Obama gave a press conference, and should confess that when he travels he takes the drug, given its general safety and scattered reports it might have prophylactic value against COVID-19, we would soon read headlines of a “miracle drug” that is cheap, accessible, and vital to the world’s poor and at-risk.

When readers are told that Trump is an idiot for suggesting that the virus might end up like a bad flu year, that his advocacy for opening up the country is a death sentence, that his travel ban was too late and too porous, and that the economy has been wrecked permanently by his incompetence, then we should assume that the death tolls by autumn might approximate or slightly exceed the flu’s lethality in years like 1957-8 or 1967-8, that states that open up do not have much greater spikes in virus morbidity than do states that do not, that the travel ban saved thousands of lives and would likely not have been issued by most traditional presidents so early, and that the economy likely will begin its ascendance by autumn.

Finally, early on in the COVID-19 crisis, the media consecrated Dr. Anthony Fauci as the godlike man of science, in antithesis to the buffoonish, pre-Enlightenment fool Trump. If Fauci uttered a truism, it reverberated across the media world as gospel—but also as a sly putdown of the oblivious, oafish president. So, under the Doctrine of Media Untruth, the more the Fauci hallowing grew, the more we knew he had feet of clay.

The more Fauci was brilliant, prescient and sibyllic, the more we knew that he came late to the danger, had once declared the virus to be not much of a threat, suggested that hook-ups and cruise trips need not be too much derailed by the virus, declared that opening up locked-down states would be a terrible idea, fueled wild modeling estimates of several hundreds of thousands soon to die from the virus, doubted the efficacy of masks, and warned we should not expect an effective vaccination for years.

In other words, under the Doctrine of Media Untruth, the more Fauci was turned into a god and an anti-Trump avenging angel, the more he was human and not especially any more prescient medically than Trump was politically.

Today, the public knows that if Fauci issues a periodic warning from on high, listeners should contextualize it as a valuable data bit, collate his warning with underappreciated economic realities, consider that it might be seen as a subtle putdown of Trump, and move on—all the more so as the media blares out that Trump ignores the latest brilliant forecast from the Einsteinian viral master.

Trump Draws Them Out

The hatred of Donald Trump explains some, but not all, media bias. During the Obama years, a media cohort came of age assuming that the hip, young, educated, urban classes like itself were in permanent ascendance. It did not need to worry about listening to others, venturing beyond coastal corridors, or questioning whether it was really educated or merely branded with mostly mediocre degrees.

Being in the media was analogous to being issued a union card or belonging to the late Soviet party: one was part of an unthinking herd, mouthing platitudes, and hoping to get by and ahead that way.

When knowledge, wisdom, independent thought, even basic competence were no longer requisites for success, then the media naturally slid into mediocrity, valued youth and looks, rank partisanship, obeisance to conventions and stereotypes, and mastered networking and obsequiousness instead of valuing independence.

Trump’s antics simply lured the snails out of their shells and showed the public they were glorified slugs all along.

Greatness Agenda

China Should Not Provoke the United States

America is a much richer country than China, with a more motivated ethos, comparatively well-functioning institutions, and the advantages of a free society, an enterprise economy, and serious allies.

In the immense and multifaceted controversy over the coronavirus pandemic, and in the midst of tumultuous pre-electoral events in the United States, the role of the Chinese government in inflicting this economic and public health disaster on the world has been the subject of comparative restraint.

Were it not for these other preoccupations in this American election year, and expert research confirmed official Chinese complicity, by negligence or malice, in the generation of the pandemic, with the complicity of the World Health Organization, there would be some danger of an intemperate response.

I have no standing to make scientific judgments but my canvass of those more knowledgeable on the subject indicates that it is extremely unlikely that this was a naturally occurring virus; it seems to have emerged, presumably accidentally, from the viral research center in Wuhan.

It is difficult to put an acceptable face on the conduct of the Chinese government in recognizing the gravity of the problem by isolating Wuhan within China while not curtailing extensive direct air contact between Wuhan and many foreign countries, or even disclosing candidly and promptly the gravity of the problems that occurred. Published Chinese figures about the pandemic in China are obviously fictitious.

Being as positive as reasonably possible, it seems that the Chinese were experimenting with a range of dangerous viruses, and that this one escaped unintentionally, and the highest levels of the Chinese government determined to deny what was happening, thereby assuring the infection of much of the world. If this was deliberate Chinese government policy from the start, it was an act of war; though it could not be responded to with outright hostilities.

China’s Fatal Overconfidence

It seems a reasonable surmise that the Chinese had succumbed to the frequent habit of those with aggressive ambitions of believing what they wished to believe. Moreover, they appear to have assumed the United States and the West generally would continue to tolerate immense trade deficits, the endless theft of intellectual property, systematic Chinese violations of international law in international waters, the creeping takeover of underdeveloped countries through a corrupt program of loans, and generally the “Belt and Road” program of expanding Chinese hegemony throughout East and South Asia and Africa.

The traditional Chinese posture, even in the periods of Chinese decline and exploitation by foreign powers, was disparagement of foreigners and a comprehensive lack of interest in them, serene national self-confidence, and the Chinese leadership seems to have assumed that the West would not respond effectively to any provocation.

There has never in the history of the nation-state been anything like the almost simultaneous bifurcation in radically different directions of two leading world powers about 40 years ago. As the Soviet Union relaxed its dictatorship while maintaining its collectivist economy, China maintained its totalitarian dictatorship but transformed its economy to one of state capitalism, albeit with considerable retention of a command economy. In these last 40 years, all the world has seen the Soviet Union quickly disintegrate and the international Communism that had threatened the West in the Cold War die with it, as China has risen to be the most formidable economic rival the United States has had since before World War I. The leaders of China are over-confident.

Whether the coronavirus pandemic was premeditated or of accidental origin but magnified by malice and negligence, it was a very serious strategic error by China. While there has been considerable Democratic congressional support for President Trump’s policy of identifying the Chinese threat—as well as requiring the end of practically unlimited trade deficits, theft of industrial and technological intelligence, misuse of the extensive Chinese presence in American universities, bribing and bullying of American industries with threats of ending access to the Chinese market, and a steadily more assertive foreign policy in the Far East and Africa—before coronavirus there was still a broad consensus including almost all of the Democratic Party that the best policy toward China was President Obama’s appeasement of Beijing. This was based on the assumption that China eventually would succumb to the temptations of consumerist democracy and grow into a state of rules-based coexistence with the West. Lately, even Joe Biden, who opened his campaign with bland assurances that China was no danger to the United States, seems (with the help of the polls) to be outgrowing that delusion.

China shows no signs whatever of seeking vast military conquest as Nazi Germany did, nor of using an ideological basis for attempting to undermine the West in the world and build an alliance on ostensibly Marxist principles as the Soviet Union did. China’s advance is traditional Han Chinese nationalism enabled and lubricated by what leaders in Beijing imagine to be an original method of using state capitalism to suborn and dominate resource-rich underdeveloped countries and, by focus and discipline, to out-distance and overawe what they have effortlessly convinced themselves is a flabby and irresolute West led by an erratic and hedonistic America. But underestimating America’s determination to maintain its position would be a grave mistake (as Japan, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union learned to their regret).

America Has Many Strong Cards to Play

In cooperation with all of the other aggrieved countries (approximately 120 have demanded to know how the pandemic began), the United States must seek and reach a consensus on the level of China’s duplicity in propagating this pandemic. Then it must lead the insertion of a military presence in the international waters around China to ensure that Chinese sovereignty is not imposed upon the freedom of the seas in the Far East.

If the existing tariff replacement agreement is ratified and observed by China, the United States must still rigorously enforce the end of the systematic Chinese technological theft. The United States must end Chinese espionage and propagandistic activities around American universities and encourage its allies to do the same and, if appropriate, roll back the number of student visas issued to the Chinese. It must strictly enforce the policy that already officially exists against the acquisition of American commercial interests that could be harmful to the U.S. national interest and must repatriate the manufacture of everything that is strategic either by its essential nature or because of the extent of its commercial significance.

China must be deterred from abusing the international organizations that it has been allowed to join but whose rules it has not observed, and China’s neighbors which resent the People’s Republic’s overbearing influence must be leagued together in defensive arrangements to resist commercial and political aggression. The example of Myanmar (Burma), is indicative of China’s propensity to overplay its hand: the Chinese so over-asserted themselves that the country dispensed with the military regime that had indulged Beijing and effectively threw the Chinese out, bag and baggage.

There is no shortage of Americans, especially in Hollywood and the American media, who are eager to salute China as a super-state exposing the corruption and venality of Trumpian America and urging what amounts to a policy of submission to Chinese leadership. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Americans, given a clear policy choice, will reject any such cowardly and shameful course.

The United States is a much richer country than China, with a more motivated ethos, comparatively well-functioning institutions, and the advantages of a free society, an enterprise economy, and serious allies.

The president is right to try to preserve the existing trade arrangements and build on them, and he is right to be thorough in determining how this pandemic was unleashed. He is right to make it clear that Chinese conduct is unacceptable and that America and its allies have the ability to discourage and punish it.

As soon as the political fireworks end and the U.S. president for the next four years is identified, a national and international consensus should be built quickly behind all of these objectives. Everyone accepts that China is a great nation and a great development story, but the West and the United States, in particular, should be submissive to no one.

Greatness Agenda

How President Trump Can Retake the Initiative and Rebuild a More Resilient Economy

Republicans take note: voters across the political spectrum have woken up to the dangers of relying on foreign supply chains for critical products.

There’s trouble brewing for President Trump in Florida. Earlier this year the state seemed out of reach for Democrats. But the must-win state which he carried in 2016, is home to Mar-A-Lago, and which elected Republican Ron DeSantis governor in 2018 may now be vulnerable.

According to publicly available data, registered Republicans in Florida have requested at least 320,000 fewer absentee ballots than in 2016. President Trump doesn’t have that much margin for error in a state he won by only 103,000 votes—especially in a year when older voters may be reluctant to go to the polls for fear of contracting COVID-19.

There are also warning signs coming out of bellwether Arizona, another must-win state. A poll commissioned by September Group and conducted between May 9-11 shows President Trump trailing Joe Biden by 7 points (50-43 percent). Trump won Arizona by 3.5 percent in 2016.

So how can President Trump—or any Republican—win? The same poll offers an answer. It asked likely voters if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who had a plan “to make the United States more self-sufficient and to make sure more of the food, energy, and medicine” is produced in America. The results were remarkable. Seventy-five percent said yes, including 88 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents, and 64 percent of Democrats. And the issue polls slightly better with women than men (77 percent vs. 73 percent) making it an opportunity for Republicans to close the gender gap.

Republicans take note: voters across the political spectrum have woken up to the dangers of relying on foreign supply chains for critical products. There is a growing realization that national security includes not just military technology but also self-sufficiency in the basic necessities of life.

Over the past few decades, China has taken over critical elements of the supply chain supporting our healthcare and they’re using that power against us when we’re most vulnerable. By taking American jobs and stealing American technology, China has stolen the future of our middle class. That’s unacceptable and the pandemic has laid all of this bare. And it raises the vital question: how rich, really, is a country that can’t supply its most basic needs in a crisis?

No American wants the country beholden to China especially as dependence, if not reversed, leads to subservience. Take just one sobering statistic: 90 percent of antibiotics used in the United States are made in China. In the same vein, the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Upjohn moved the global headquarters of its generic drugs business to Shanghai just last year. And who, by now, doesn’t know that China dominates the trade in personal protective equipment (“PPE”) that healthcare workers cannot do without?

What the polling shows is that a large majority of people want to vote for candidates who are ready to take it all back and rebuild a more resilient economy. President Trump would find much support, even from voters who may have been hostile to him, if he lays out a plan to make America secure in those three critical areas identified in the polling. And with over 36 million Americans out of work, the high-paying jobs such moves would create would be very welcome.

A good way to start what surely will be a years-long process of rebuilding manufacturing capacity and supply chains would be to demonstrate conviction and secure near-term positive effects on employment and the broader economy with an executive order; one that clearly defines the goal and contains “Buy American” mandates for products in each of the three areas defined as vital to our national security and prosperity. It would provide financial support for companies to move their supply chains back to the United States much like Japan is now doing. And in announcing the order, President Trump would make clear that Americans will not be vassals of Xi Jinping and the Chinese dictatorship.

The EO would be accompanied by a legislative agenda much like the 1994 Contract With America, which might be called the Secure America For Everyone Act (“SAFE Act”). It would be at the heart of the president’s re-election campaign and would codify into law the things mandated by the EO so that they could not easily be overturned by a future president more aligned with Chinese interests.

And with that, President Trump owns the issue. By seizing the initiative on this particular issue he will be doing the right thing for the country and will be forcing his enemies to fight on his terms.

Republicans running for Senate and Congress could follow his lead. In fact, it is so important and so powerful, they should take up this issue regardless. Polling shows that jobs and the economy have quickly become leading issues for voters. For candidates realizing that the pandemic has scrambled the campaign plans they had in January and wondering how to respond, what to run on, how to message, how to draw contrasts with their opponents, and, most all, how to do right by the country, this is it.

It’s simple: Americans want security and prosperity. Pursuing self-sufficiency in food, energy, and medicine gives them both.

Greatness Agenda

Kill All the Economics Departments

If economists continue to substitute extraordinary equations for extraordinary evidence, we have a duty to state the obvious: that science disproves scientific determinism.

When the pandemic ends, future generations will say of us now living: Why did the United States chain itself to a slave state, so as to strengthen the bonds of the supply chain? Why did our political parties finalize trade agreements with the Chinese Communist Party? Why did so many do so little for so long, while the sick died and the living could not bury the dead?

These questions should cause us to question our beliefs about economics and our opinion of most economists, because no rational actor would risk his life by outsourcing the manufacture of life-saving drugs to a country with no respect for the dignity of human life. No person, except a lifeless corporation with the legal status of personhood, would call inefficiency evil but ignore calls to condemn the evildoers who run China with murderous efficiency.

No reasonable person would argue that the road to freedom runs through Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

But no reasonable person would believe such things without first suspending disbelief, because for good people to accept the good intentions of Communists—that takes economics. It takes economists to ignore reality; it takes economics departments to teach history without studying geography, reducing the nature of the nation-state and life in a state of nature to a series of math problems; it takes a village of idiot savants to write like Lenin and sound like Lennon.

It takes gall to say economics is a science.

It takes a little mind to believe the assertions of a social scientist.

And yet we continue to allow economists to intimidate us. We continue to allow them to devalue the currency of language. We continue to allow them to make words mean so many different things.

Thus a recession is when 12 million people lose their jobs. A depression is when 41 million are jobless. And a recovery—full employment—is when only 8 million Americans have no work.

If economists continue to substitute extraordinary equations for extraordinary evidence, if they continue to make extraordinary claims with no evidence, we have a duty to state the obvious: that science disproves scientific determinism; that history discredits historical materialism; that truth destroys the lie that China is our friend.

By holding these truths to be self-evident, we may—finally—loosen China’s hold on the lives of free men throughout the world. We have nothing to lose but our shame.

Greatness Agenda

It’s Time to Exit Relics of Globalism Like the WTO

“What’s good for the global economy” replaced “what’s good for America” as the guiding principle for Washington’s trade negotiators, diplomats, and strategists.

The CCP virus pandemic has added urgency to a long-overdue reassessment of the assumptions underlying the post-World War II “international rules-based order.”

To be clear, “international rules-based order” is a euphemism for globalism, and globalism has taken a beating these past few months.

We’ve seen how the true cost of doing business with China is a very high price indeed. We’ve seen how an economy reliant on global supply chains and just-in-time inventory management is a fragile one, and we’ve seen how the Chinese Communist Party is not the benign force we expected it to be when we welcomed it into “the family of trading nations.”

The pandemic has exposed the flaws in the globalization project the elites have been pursuing for the past 70 years.

The World Trade Organization is a cornerstone of that project and, like the World Heath Organization, its sister in the globalist pantheon, the WTO is now under fire in Washington.

“The global economic system as we know it is a relic; it requires reform, top to bottom. We should begin with one of its leading institutions, the World Trade Organization. We should abolish it,” Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) writes in the New York Times. Tell us how you really feel, senator!

Our membership in the WTO must be renewed every five years, and the junior senator from the Show-Me state wants to let it lapse.

Not a moment too soon. This is one product that has outlived its sell-by date.

The World Trade Organization was born after the Berlin Wall fell. Gone were the days of a trade and military alliance of Western industrial democracies—the free world standing against a Communist bloc. In the new post-Cold War world order, goods and capital would flow freely in a global economy of universal prosperity and democracy.

Though the WTO was born in 1995, it’s conception dates to 1947. That’s when the State Department sought to create an international trade organization “to bring about world peace . . . and prevent World War III.”

A California congressman at the time described Washington’s negotiators as “boatloads of smug diplomats, all wise economists, experts, theorists, specialists and whatnots eager to barter away the little factory in Wichita, the little shop in Keokuk.”

While they failed in ’47, they kept the dream alive over the decades. “What’s good for the global economy” replaced “what’s good for America” as the guiding principle for Washington’s trade negotiators, diplomats, and strategists.

The “experts” pursued their plan without debate or congressional vote. No one came right out and told the American people their nation and system of government were being replaced.

As Richard Gardner, the man who served as Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Spain explained, “The ‘house of world order’ will have to be built from the bottom up. . . . An end-run about national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than a frontal assault.”

Strobe Talbott served in Bill Clinton’s State Department when the WTO was founded. He described “The Birth of the Global Nation” in Time magazine in 1992: “Countries are . . . artificial and temporary. . . . Within the next hundred years . . . nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. A phrase briefly fashionable in the mid-20th century—“citizen of the world”—will have assumed real meaning by the end of the 21st.”

Long before the pandemic exposed the follies and fallacies of the globalist project, before it showed us how, when push comes to shove, national governments will always put their own interests first, administrations on both sides of the aisle had problems with the WTO.

One of those problems involves its appellate body—judges who interpret WTO rules and settle disputes among members. Yet the WTO doesn’t follow its own rules.

Article 17.5 of the WTO rules says cases that come before the organization—disputes between nations over unfair trade practices—must be settled within 90 days. In reality, cases drag on for years, during which time the victims go bankrupt while awaiting justice.

The rules also say judges cannot be affiliated with any government. Yet in a recent case involving paper imports, none of the judges met the WTO’s criteria, and one was actually an official of the Chinese government. The judges, not surprisingly, ruled against the United States.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer blasted the ruling as “the latest example of judicial activism” by the WTO aimed at undermining U.S. trade laws.

And when the WTO isn’t flouting its own rules, it’s making up new ones.

We thought we signed a contract when we joined the WTO, but it’s a contract with terms that keep changing. We put our country at the mercy of an entity with rules and authority that are constantly growing.

Past administrations both Democratic and Republican objected to WTO judges creating obligations to which the United States never agreed.

The Trump Administration, fed up with U.S. complaints falling on deaf ears, stopped approving new judges and froze the appeals “courts” process. In response, WTO bureaucrats went ahead and created a new judicial body outside the agreed-upon rules—and it is using American taxpayer dollars to fund its operation.

The WTO’s various power grabs threaten American sovereignty.

The Article XXI rule, the national security exception, reads: “Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed . . . to prevent any contracting party from taking any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests.”

That’s what the United States signed and we take its meaning to be absolutely clear: We can take actions based on what we consider to be in our national security interest and the WTO can’t stop us.

President Trump determined the national security interests of the United States require us to be self-sufficient in producing steel and aluminum. To that end, he imposed tariffs to stop China and other countries from dumping their metals and driving American producers out of business.

But the Eurocrats in Geneva believe it’s up to their unelected “judges,” not the elected government of the United States, to decide what’s in America’s national security interest, no matter what Article XXI says.

Steven Vaughn served as counsel to the office of the United States Trade Representative. He says there’s a fundamental problem with the WTO when we can read the same text and come to opposite conclusions.

“Somebody misunderstood what we all agreed to. We were told we had not given up any of our sovereignty,” Vaughn says. “If we’re this far apart just in terms of the basic concept, what is the point of trying to paper over them.”

How can you even talk about reform with an organization that doesn’t agree on the meaning of “cases will be settled within 90 days”? What good is rewriting rules for an outfit that doesn’t follow rules?

Why bother to remain in the WTO?

It has done nothing to stop the greatest threat to world trade today: Communist China’s beggar-thy-neighbor predatory trade practices.

China supports its export industries with subsidies, tax breaks, export rebates, low-cost loans, and cheap inputs including a militarized workforce. The WTO has allowed Beijing to maintain its trade barriers even as we lowered ours. It requires the United States to treat repressive regimes that use forced labor the same as our democratic allies.

President Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott saw the WTO, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank as “protoministries of trade, finance, and development for a united world.”

The WTO was part of a bold experiment to build a borderless, post-national world.

We can now say with certainty the experiment failed.

It’s time to take back control of our destiny, leave the WTO, and rebuild America.

Greatness Agenda

Smart Spending of the $6 Trillion of Magically Materialized Money

America today needs the courage that was displayed in the 1930s as we prepared to fight fascism, and in the postwar era as we contained and then defeated Soviet communism. America is now in a new existential conflict, this time with the fascist, racist, expansionist regime that controls the Chinese mainland.

If you’re going to spend money you don’t have, you’d better spend it to create things with genuine value. This is the choice facing Americans today. Estimates of how much the federal deficit will grow in response to the pandemic shutdown range as high as $6 trillion. So how should we spend such a stupendous sum of money?

The last time a huge sum of stimulus money was pumped into the U.S. economy, back in 2009, skeptics were told the money was going to fund “shovel ready” infrastructure projects. President Trump repeatedly has criticized the 2009 stimulus because it wasn’t, in fact, used for infrastructure.

A “Fact Check” written in 2017 by NPR reporter Danielle Kurtzleben made a feeble attempt to debunk Trump’s claim, saying Trump is “mostly wrong” about this. Funny though, the facts cited in Kurtzleben’s own article demonstrate that Trump was “mostly right.” Of the $800 billion in 2009 stimulus spending, only $81 billion, barely 10 percent, was used for infrastructure.

One may argue that any money going into the economy, for anything, has at least a short-term value, and is necessary in a crisis. That’s obviously true, and this time around, a lot of stimulus money is going to go to be used to provide short term but very necessary relief to households and businesses that would otherwise go under. But what about long-term value?

Usually lost in the debate over just how long the United States can continue to materialize dollars out of thin air is that the answer is affected by what is done with all that money. Specifically, how much of the money is invested in projects that will pay long-term dividends?

How to Misspend $6 Trillion

If you ask the Democratic Socialist schemers, abetted by the NeverTrump idiots, traitors and mercenaries (e.g. the Lincoln Project), 2020 is a chance to fundamentally transform America. The Democratic Party’s socialist agenda is well known, even if the consequences of that agenda are deliberately obscured. And their agenda grabs hold of and runs with every crisis, including the current really big one.

Imagine a national “contact tracing” army, backed by ubiquitous drones and an AI-enabled data gathering panopticon. Expect to be micromanaged not only in matters of health—whether or not you’ve gotten your vaccines and been chipped – but also just exactly how well you’re minimizing your carbon footprint. Private property and free speech slowly will become a memory. The middle class will go extinct. American citizenship will be meaningless.

And all that money? It will pay for a bigger public sector nomenklatura than ever, along with a comprehensive and very costly assortment of handouts to a population convinced that hard work is for suckers. Some money will be to subsidize “clean” energy, so that renewables combined with severe rationing will enable the dismantling of the fossil fuel industry. Eventually, American insolvency will trigger an economic depression from which there will be no recovery.

This path is more than fiscal malpractice. It is national suicide. There is an alternative.

Obstacles to Spending $6 Trillion Wisely

The biggest hindrance to wise spending is understanding that tangible projects have to be funded, not just expansion of government and expansion of welfare type programs. The other major hindrance to wise spending is the propensity over the past few decades to spend most of the money meant for infrastructure on planning, mitigation, side projects to appease special interests, litigation, and consultants, while absorbing the cost of endless delays.

When examining successful infrastructure projects in America’s past, it’s too easy to attack them from a libertarian perspective, while ignoring their biggest virtue: They got done. They got done with most of the money actually being used for labor and materials. Sure, the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s was a government-funded endeavor. But the Grand Coulee Dam and Hoover Dam, along with countless other water reclamation projects, are the reason the American west was turned into a breadbasket for the world, and the reason Americans produced enough electricity to smelt aluminum and build the bombers that won World War II. Results matter more than ideology.

Similarly, in the 1950s, the interstate highway system was a government-funded endeavor. But those roads enabled modern cities and transportation to evolve, catalyzing America’s economic growth at the time, and like those dams, yielding benefits to this day. Even in the 1960s and into the 1970s, big infrastructure got funded and big infrastructure got built. In California, it took only six years for the gigantic San Luis Reservoir, with a capacity of 2 million acre feet, to go from concept to being fully operational.

Today, using California as a typical modern example, the proposed Sites Reservoir, of nearly identical design to San Luis, is expected to take 30 years to complete. That’s if they build it at all. We have paralyzed our nation, and the reasons for it aren’t hard to figure out. Everyone has their finger in the pie. Everyone has to get paid off. Special interests have taken over the process of building anything in America, and they will destroy us.

A wonderful, scathing essay recently published on American Greatness by the pseudonymous L0m3z titled “Bound and Gagged by the Bugmen,” goes a step further. The author identifies “Bug” as the language and jargon adopted by bureaucrats and “experts,” language that offers little in the way of clear meaning and much in the way of obfuscation and obstruction. Towards the end of the essay, the author writes:

None of this can be done—not the flying cars, or the space travel; there will be no fourth Industrial Revolution—until and unless there is a common language with the capacity to inspire it… Bug language will not allow it. It cannot support its vision. It can only pervert, and inevitably thwart all that dare to be heroic. Bug language cannot be allowed to persist. And we must stomp it out with the heel of our boot.

The New American Renaissance

The American Left, in its uncritical embrace of the pandemic emergency regardless of the extremes to which it may take us, and in its advocacy for declaring a “climate emergency,” are on to something even if their priorities are terrifying. They want to stomp out opposition to their agenda.

For the American Right to overcome the Left and inspire voters requires more than just exposing the corruption and anti-American essence of the Left. It requires stomping out the parasitic bug culture and bug language that sucks the life out of any endeavor that so much as scratches the earth, whether using public or private funds. And to do those things, a bold agenda must be set that proposes spending money on things we can see; things that will last. Here are examples:

  • Invest more in strategic military technology and decouple all essential supply chains from China.
  • Approve expansion of mining throughout the United States, whether it’s lithium in California’s Mojave Desert or uranium on the Colorado Plateau.
  • Accelerate spending on research and development of fusion energy.
  • Accelerate approval of nuclear power plants throughout the United States, utilizing the latest and safest large scale and smaller modular designs.
  • Fund NASA and private contractors to establish a permanent base on the water rich South Pole of the Moon before China claims it, and subsidize robotic prospecting and mining of the asteroid belt.
  • Reform federal laws such as NEPA and override state laws that prevent new housing and manufacturing on open land.
  • Federally fund new highways and connector roads to enable suburban expansion and upgrade and widen existing highways.
  • Accelerate FAA establishment of air lanes for passenger and freight drones.

America today needs the courage that was displayed in the 1930s as we prepared to fight fascism, and in the postwar era as we contained and then defeated Soviet Communism. America is now in a new existential conflict, this time with the fascist, racist, expansionist regime that controls the Chinese mainland.

These programs, and others like them, must be done with a sense of urgency. Showering money on these types of tangible programs, assuming the bug people don’t siphon off all the money, will guarantee American economic and technological preeminence for another century.

Transmuting America’s so-called fiat money into modern, robust infrastructure, breakthrough technology, space industrialization, and military supremacy is feasible alchemy. Let’s get started.

Greatness Agenda

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is a Many-Headed Hydra—And Immigration Is One of Them

Of the nine real estate firms included on the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, at least four have a background of funding development projects with foreign investor cash: Vornado Realty Trust, Related Companies, Starwood Capital Group, and Witkoff Group.

Like the Lernaean Hydra of Greek mythology, the coronavirus pandemic is a monster with many heads. From a viral outbreak sprang an economic crisis, which, in turn, has brought forth food shortages. Containment measures in the United States inadvertently resulted in other public health problems, such as delays for breast tumor treatment and a rise in mental health issues. Now the White House might have made a toothy addition to the corpus in the form of a national security concern.

After President Donald Trump announced he would suspend immigration to the United States to protect the jobs and wages of myriad workers affected by the pandemic, a deluge of business backlash poured on.

When Trump finally signed his proclamation on immigration, it applied primarily to individuals seeking a permanent residency while exempting several categories of foreign workers and employers. In other words, the ban hurts those who are not coming to the United States for solely economic reasons, while benefiting those who are and those who employ them. It also undid the Department of State’s pause on all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services, issued on March 20.

Read the rest in The National Interest.