Category Archives: China

For Passover this year, China will take Pharaoh’s role

The Passover story provides us with deep insights into the nature of tyranny. This year, China’s tyranny is the subject of my annual Passover post.

For roughly 3,500 years, Jews have been telling and retelling the story of Passover — which is also the story of the world’s first revolt against a totalitarian dictatorship. The story remains relevant because each generation sees dangerous tyrants abusing their people and trying to expand their reach beyond their own borders. As we stare down those monsters, the thing to remember is that those atop the tyranny pyramid care about only one thing, which is that their tyranny remains stable and protected. And that leads me to this year’s iteration of my annual Passover post.

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A doubting Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as a celebration of freedom (for it celebrates the world’s first successful slave revolt), justice, and morality (insofar as it gave us the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the Egyptian people’s genocide. To support this theory, he points to the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague harming the Egyptian people, a cycle of pain that culminates with the death of the firstborn.

Those familiar with the Bible understand that this objection is predicated upon ignorance. The tenth plague, which saw God strike down the firstborn in every family without the Pascal lamb’s blood above their door, was not a random punishment. It was, instead, divine retribution for the Pharaoh’s own decree, in effect at Moses’s birth, that all firstborn Jewish males should be drowned in the Nile. Still, doubters will argue that God was petty when he later punished innocent people who were not complicit in Pharaoh’s genocidal attack on the Jews.

One argument is that the many plagues, culminating with the firstborn’s death, are nothing more than dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger surrounding the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if the exodus had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. Imagine if Moses had asked, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh had answered, “Sure.”

That narrative lacks punch and heroism. More importantly, God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. Surely it resonates more strongly with the people reliving the narrative every year to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

The above reasoning is silly. The Bible is not so superficial. There is, instead, a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, no matter the burdens he places upon his people. A blood-filled Nile River may, at first, seem appalling, but the red recedes and life went on. Pharaoh still holds power. The same is true for each subsequent plague, whether lice, boils, frogs, darkness, or any of the other plagues. As long as Pharaoh realizes, after the first panic, that he is still powerful, he will always reconcile himself to his people’s incremental destruction.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might have a theoretical concern that a starving and frightened populace could turn on him. However, as long as he is assured that his people will continue to fear and worship him, their suffering is irrelevant. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh the plague struck in his own palace, killing his firstborn* — that Pharaoh is convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed in 3,500 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was not only willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed, he never stopped using military supplies for the Holocaust. The war ended only when Hitler, facing personal humiliation, killed himself and the remaining high command, see their lives at stake, finally gave up. Hitler and his commanders were Pharaoh. Only when they, personally, faced a humiliating death would they stop fighting.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it. Even impressing the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was his advisers telling him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender. Instead, Truman understood that, despite an inevitable American victory, if he didn’t take drastic action, that victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and as many as 1,000,000 Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman had two choices: Wage war for at least another year, killing 100,000 Americans and up to a million Japanese civilians, or end the war instantly, with no more American casualties and an estimated 100,000 civilian Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer.  Not only would he save the military, he would also save tens of thousands of POWs, both military and civilian. One of the Dutch civilian POW saved was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.

The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

The only way to destroy an evil institution is to decapitate it. That’s what God did with the 10th plague. That’s what Truman did when he dropped atom bombs on Japan. That’s what the Allies did when they engaged in total war against the Nazis. In each case, the only way to end a tyrant’s rampage of murder, torture, and enslavement was directly hurting the tyrant’s person.

Those who prefer the stability of tyranny to the risks of freedom are the same people who refuse to accept that, under tyranny, the innocents are always going to die, with the only question being whether they will die quickly or slowly. That’s the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, you’re going to end as cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned, and China’s leadership will release a plague on the world and let tens of thousands of people sicken and die, both at home and abroad — as long as the tyrant can retain his power.

People of goodwill must sometimes recognize that the generation raised under tyranny is a lost generation that cannot be saved, whether because it will die under the tyrant’s lash, in the tyrant’s war, or in a war against the tyrant. Sometimes, when slaves finally taste freedom, they fear it. The Bible recognizes this problem, banning the Promised Land to those who were slaves in Egypt. They were a lost generation.

For this reason, when one sees a people groaning under tyranny the most humane thing to do is to destroy the tyranny quickly and decisively even if that process causes people to suffer. Most of them were always going to be lost. Our actions are for the benefit of subsequent generations and, if we are lucky, for those who survived both the tyranny and the liberation.

Protecting freedom for the greatest number of people sometimes demands proactive behavior. And there is nothing more proactive than an overwhelming response when a tyrant starts putting out feelers to see how far he can go. Had Chamberlain done that in 1938, WWII might have been avoided.**

Today, the tyrant is China’s government and, as was the case with Nazi Germany or Bushido Japan, China’s tyranny has suddenly started to reach far beyond its borders. No matter how China’s bought-and-paid-for American media work to cover up China’s responsibility for what happened, John Adams was correct: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

We know the facts: COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese lab, although we do not know whether this was deliberate or accidental. China, in true tyrant fashion, was so determined to cover up its failure that it willingly let people die by destroying anything (e.g., information and doctors) that might have helped battle the plague early. When Wuhan began to see mass die-offs, China continued to deny there was a problem. As the plague spread beyond China’s borders, its government continued to deny responsibility, so much so that both China and the WHO (which we pay for, but which answers to China) lied consistently about COVID-19’s reach, danger, and origin.

Now that the plague is a world-wide phenomenon, China is sending or selling useless masks and test kits to hurting nations around the world. It is trying to blame America for COVID-19. And it’s almost certain that people are still dying in the thousands in China, even as the government insists it’s tamed COVID-19 and tells the world to start readmitting its people and its shoddy products. The Chinese communist government is Pharaoh.

The only way to stop tyranny is to fight tyranny. Despite media efforts to cover for their Chinese paymasters, Trump is calling China out on its lies and other malfeasance.

China needs to pay. The world must pull out of China: No more cheap Chinese goods flooding the American market and denying jobs to people in America; no more Chinese-made fentanyl killing America’s citizens; no more plague-ridden Chinese citizens hopping on planes and traveling the world, even as China knew they were contagious; and no more rich Chinese students flooding American colleges and buying off leftist college faculties and administrations.

All of that needs to end. Trump is trying hard, despite Democrat and media pushback. Other countries’ leaders are making weak little grunting noises. We can only hope that Trump turns those grunts to roars and builds a great wall around China until the tyrants at the top give up. They give up hurting their people, they give up imprisoning religious people and using them as slaves and unwilling organ donors, they give up funding North Korea’s tyranny, they give up trying to build islands in the South China Sea, they give up using economic blackmail against poor countries, and in all other ways, they turn inward and cure themselves. This is how you end tyranny: you make the tyrants suffer so that they change.

 

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Chag Sameach (Happy Passover). Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

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*The fact that Pharaoh survived the last of the ten plagues tells us that he was not his father’s firstborn son. Either an older sibling died or Pharaoh was the younger child in a family unrelated to the Egyptian ruling family and, through a coup, seized the throne.

**And yes, I am aware of the argument that Chamberlain might not have been Hitler’s dupe. Thanks to England’s anti-War fervor after WWI, which led to disarmament and the drawing down of her military, Chamberlain might have believed by 1938 that England could do nothing to stop Hitler. That belief would have led him to choose appeasement as the only option. I don’t agree with this view because bullies will back down quickly if their intended victim fights even minimally, but I’ll give Chamberlain the benefit of the doubt because he was a decent and patriotic man.

(A couple more things. I highly recommend Dennis Prager’s The Rational Bible: ExodusIf you don’t want to read the whole book, you can just buy his The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, which is a companion to his videos on the Ten Commandments. It’s a quick read and a refreshing one.)

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The Four C’s Of The Impeachment Sham — Constitution, Corruption, Comity & Coup (by Wolf Howling)

The House is considering three articles of Impeachment.  The Constitution is at issue in questions of Obstruction of Justice, Contempt of Congress and the form of the Senate Trial.  Comity and Corruption are at issue as to the Bidens and Abuse of Power.  And is this is an unlawful attempted coup?

The Constitution

The House is considering three Articles of Impeachment, one of which is expected to be for contempt of Congress.  The House claims that Donald Trump refused to honor lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents as pertains to the Ukraine. Was Trump within his rights to do so?  That is wholly a Constitutional question.  It is also closely related in at least one relevant part to a likely Second Article of Impeachment, namely Obstruction of Justice as to the Russian Hoax inquiry.

The only vote the House of Representatives has held to authorize an impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump was defeated overwhelmingly in January, 2017.  In response to the Ukraine IC IG matter, Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker, unilaterally declared an “impeachment inquiry” on September 24, 2019, and the House immediately began issuing subpoenas for witnesses and documents.  As to the latest vote held a week ago to formalize the procedures being used in the ongoing Star Chamber, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was adamant that the Resolution was not an authorization of an “impeachment inquiry.

Can anything less than a vote by the entire House of Representatives to authorize an “impeachment inquiry” be considered Constitutionally valid?  As I’ve discussed before, this is far from mere form.  If the House of Representatives approves a resolution for an impeachment inquiry, the House gains a power that it, by the explicit terms of the Constitution, does not otherwise possess — the judicial power to enforce subpoenas and requests for documents on matters outside its Art. I, Sec. 8 enumerated powers.  Without that power, the White House was acting lawfully when it refused to cooperate.  Tellingly, the House, rather than take those subpoenas to a Court to enforce them — and risk having a Court declare their proceeding unconstitutional — appears to be simply rolling all but one of their refused “subpoenas” into an contempt of Congress charge.

Then there is Part II of the Mueller Report.  We can expect the House to adopt Part II virtually in toto as an obstruction of justice charge.  There is a twist on this, however, and it is where this overlaps with the Contempt of Congress charge.  Without the judicial power of an impeachment inquiry, the House has no power to subpoena the Grand Jury testimony that Mueller referenced in his report.  The House subpoenaed the Department of Justice for that information and got the matter heard before an Obama judge (yes, John Roberts, there are progressive judges who rule by ideology, not the law) who ruled that the House was authorized to receive the material — and thus that their current “impeachment inquiry” was constitutionally sufficient.  The White House made an emergency appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court, which granted a stay, and the matter is now to be heard on November 12 before the D.C. Circuit. If the D.C. Circuit affirms the lower court’s ruling, the Trump administration will assuredly bring it to the Supreme Court, but there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will take up the case.

All of this brings up a huge, core Constitutional issue:  Which branch of government has the power to determine the meaning of the Constitution — specifically in this case, when the question is whether the House may claim judicial powers without a vote of the House of Representatives to authorize an impeachment inquiry? There is no doubt that Articles of Impeachment (other than Contempt of Congress) that the House votes upon would be facially constitutional.  So this question applies only to whether the President may be validly held in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with an impeachment inquiry that was never authorized by a vote of the full House of Representatives.

The Judicial Branch long ago claimed for itself the power to definitively interpret the Constitution, but that right to do so appears nowhere in the text of the Constitution.  Can the Senate summarily dispense with any claim for Obstruction of Justice as to this “impeachment inquiry” because the Senators believe that the House acted “unconstitutionally?”  Can the Senate do so in the face of a D.C. Circuit Court opinion to the contrary?  Could the Senate do so in the face of a Supreme Court refusal to hear an appeal from the D.C. Circuit?  And lastly, could the Senate do so even if the Supreme Court hears an appeal and concludes that the obscene House Star Chamber proceeding meets the standards for constitutionality?  Those are all valid questions that I believe should be answered in the affirmative, but that could have long term ramifications for how our nation operates.

A second Constitutional question that touches on this and all of the Articles of Impeachment concerns whether Donald Trump will be afforded the same due process rights at trial (rules of evidence, right to bring definitive motions, etc.) that are afforded all Americans in court?  As Supreme Court Justice Story said, in 1833 when remarking on impeachment:

It is the boast of English jurisprudence, and without it the power of impeachment would be an intolerable grievance, that in trials by impeachment the law differs not in essentials from criminal prosecutions before inferior courts. The same rules of evidence, the same legal notions of crimes and punishments prevail. For impeachments are not framed to alter the law; but to carry it into more effectual execution, where it might be obstructed by the influence of too powerful delinquents, or not easily discerned in the ordinary course of jurisdiction, by reason of the peculiar quality of the alleged crimes.

Under current Senate Rules, the President does not explicitly have those protections.  Under the modifications suggested here, he would gain them.  Assuming that the Senate does adopt those changes then before trial begins President Trump should move to dismiss Contempt of Congress Charges for failing to state a legal claim — i.e., the House did not vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry, and thus the President did not obstruct a lawful process.  As to the obstruction of justice charge, President Trump should make a motion to dismiss the claim on the grounds that, even assuming all of the facts alleged in the Mueller Report to be true, it does not as a matter of law show a violation of the law or a political offense for which impeachment is warranted.  President Trump committed no underlying crime.  President Trump substantially complied with the investigation and he committed no act that resulted in the investigation being hindered.

Corruption & Comity

A third Article of Impeachment, according to Breitbart, will be for Abuse of Power.  The House’s Star Chamber proceeding is likely to result in a claim that President Trump abused his power by withholding aid from Ukraine subject to them investigating Joe and Hunter Biden for corrupt practices.

This is yet another Article that should be dealt with on a motion to dismiss.  The President’s practice and authority to negotiate with foreign countries for the aid they may receive from America is a well-established power of the Presidency, one that has been exercised by numerous other Presidents.  Thus negotiating foreign aid with the Ukraine cannot itself, be grounds for impeachment.  It is axiomatic that, to again quote Justice Story, impeachment may not be used tomake that a crime at one time, or in one person, which would be deemed innocent at another time, or in another person.  And in fact, the aid was ultimately released in full to the Ukraine in September, 2019, so there is no Constitutional concern with Congress’s power of the purse, nor any legal concern with the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

That leads to the next question, whether what Trump was negotiating for — the facts surrounding Joe and Hunter Biden in the Ukraine and whether it involved corruption — was an improper purpose.  (It should be noted that Trump never in the transcript explicitly said that Ukraine’s receiving the money hinged on looking into the Biden matter. Indeed, it’s a stretch even to read into the transcript his having said such a thing implicitly.) As a textual matter, Article II § 3 of the Constitution requires the President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”  So when the President looks into possible legal violations, he is acting in fulfillment of his Constitutional duties.

That leaves the last question: Did President Trump have reasonable grounds to suspect that Joe Biden violated federal rules of ethics, and perhaps American laws, regarding corrupt practices?  That is a factual matter. Trump does not need to show actual guilt.  But he needs to be able to show that, based on the facts as he knew them, a reasonable person would suspect that there was enough evidence of corruption that further investigation was warranted.

As a threshold matter, the Joe and Hunter show went far beyond Ukraine.  It was both foreign and domestic.  As to the former, when Daddy became Vice President and was given control of foreign affairs in certain countries,  Hunter Biden became Joe Biden’s little lamb.  With apologies to Sarah Hale and a hat tip to the poetess Bookworm:

Joe Biden had a little Hunter,
That filled its nose with snow,
And everywhere Joe Biden went
Hunter was sure to go;
He followed Joe to Ukraine,
Romania & China too;
He sold his daddy’s name there,
But saying so sparked a coup.

Hunter Biden’s escapades are well documented in the Ukraine, Iraq, China and Romania, for we know that he followed his father into those countries (sometimes flying into them with his father on Air Force Two) and immediately struck lucrative deals with corrupt politicians or, in the case of China, the government itself.  Standing alone, these undisputed facts stink to high heaven.  The mere appearance of corruption is an ethical problem for Joe Biden.  It becomes a legal problem for Joe Biden if he used his position as Vice President to further his son’s enrichment or to protect him from investigation. And to be clear, based on the facts as we know them, if Trump and Trump’s children had done what Joe and Hunter Biden did, the call to impeach and jail him would be deafening.

When it comes to Ukraine, we know Hunter Biden was hired to sit on the Board of Bursima, a Ukrainian energy company owned by a man who is a suspect in billions of dollars of government corruption.  We know that Hunter Biden was not qualified for such a seat beyond his familial relationship to Joe Biden.  We know that people associated with Bursima then dropped Hunter Biden’s name to lobby the State Dept. in order to quash the corruption probes targeting their client.  We know that at least one American official raised this as a problem to Biden’s office.  And we know . . .

It is in fact an open question, not yet definitively answered, whether the prosecutor whom Joe brags about getting fired had an active corruption investigation into Bursima — and perhaps Hunter Biden as well.  That was the question Trump seemed to be asking the President of Ukraine to find an answer to in his 25 July phone call.  If so, there is more to investigate, such as what did Joe Biden know and when did he know it.

But according to Democrats, it is an abuse of power even to ask those questions.  They can go pound sand.  No one is above the law, not even a Democrat candidate for office.  The only thing Trump asked for is information from an investigation.  Was that pretextual or warranted?  The first might arguably be grounds for impeachment, the second cannot be.  Thus the only factual issue to determine whether to proceed to a full impeachment trial on abuse of power grounds is whether Trump was justified in seeking an investigation of Biden’s seemingly corrupt dealings.

Bottom line, we need to hear from Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, under oath at any Senate trial, to determine whether there was sufficient appearance of corruption for a reasonable person in Trump’s shoes to investigate.  Indeed, the rule changes I suggested for the Senate’s impeachment trial are in anticipation of precisely that reality.

Democrats are going nuts over that issue.  This from the Daily Beast, warning that “comity” in the Senate would be irreparably damaged by forcing the Bidens to testify:

Senate Democrats issued stark warnings on Wednesday that Republicans would severely damage the institution of Congress if they acquiesced to a push from Trump allies to haul former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter for testimony about their actions in Ukraine.

A top Biden ally, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), told The Daily Beast that calling the 2020 presidential contender—who served for 35 years in the Senate—and his son for testimony “would be literally rolling a grenade down the aisle of the Senate” that would have “lasting consequences” on the upper chamber’s ability to work together.

“Look, Joe Biden is well known, widely respected, and frankly beloved by many in the Senate on both sides of the aisle,” said Coons. “The impeachment process is already disruptive enough. I think we should be approaching it with seriousness, not by entertaining conspiracy theories that are utterly unfounded. And I think it would be a very unfortunate move.”

Right.  As if the left overturning an election and pushing us to the brink of a second civil war over the proposition that they are above the law while the rest of us are below it is not exponentially beyond concerns of “comity” in the Senate.  Truly, screw these people.

Coup

And finally, here’s a question to pick up after what promises to be a failed impeachment attempt.  Mark Zaid, attorney for the whistle blower who orchestrated this Ukraine madness, tweeted in 2017:

#coup has started. First of many steps. #rebellion. #impeachment will follow ultimately. #lawyers https://t.co/FiNBQo6v0S

— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) January 31, 2017

Zaid has since claimed that what he meant only a “legal” coup. There is no such thing. A coup is, by definition, an “illegal seizure of power from a government.” Now, if what Mr. Zaid had in mind was an unlawful abuse of the laws of this nation to effect a coup . . . that is still not legal. It is an act of sedition punishable at law.

We certainly now have evidence of Mr. Zaid’s state of mind. We have reason to suspect that his client was likely previously involved in the leak of classified information to the press in order to damage President Trump and may have spied on Trump on behalf of the FBI, both illegal acts.  Then we have long standing ties between the whistle blower and Adam Schiff’s staff and we have Adam Schiff’s own statement that they coordinated filing a whistle blower complaint.  Lastly, we have a grossly legally deficient whistle blower complaint that should never have been filed as such, and certainly never should have been addressed to Congress as a finding of urgent concern.  The IC IG did not conduct due dillegence in his investigation.

Now, that could all mean nothing.  Or, it could mean that certain people were conspiring to effect a bloodless coup.  There is enough here to warrant an investigation to determine the truth.  And prosecution would be warranted if what we discover is in fact a seditious conspiracy rather than a series of simple errors.  That would in fact be an unlawful coup.

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Bookworm Beat 8/26/19 — China versus the Aztecs and open thread

A fun, down-and-dirty post comparing China to the Aztec Empire and talking about the real economic difference between Red and Blue states.

Yes, China does have something in common with the Aztecs. One of the points I’ve been making for about a decade is that, contrary to what they teach in schools, 167 Spaniards (and their horses) did not destroy the mighty Aztec empire. What destroyed the mighty Aztec empire was that it had made a lot of enemies in the decades before the Spanish appeared. The Aztecs were indeed mighty warriors and mighty builders, skills they used to dominate completely every tribe for miles around — and by dominate I mean human sacrifice (in the tens of thousands), enslavement, and constant demands for tribute from those allowed to remain on their own lands.

When Cortez and his Conquistadors (and their horses, of course) came along, there’s no doubt that Montezuma II thought that they were gods and that it shook him. But what really made the difference when Cortez decided to take over the Aztec empire was the fact that all of those long-suffering regional tribes were thrilled finally to have a leader for their side. This means that what really destroyed Montezuma was Cortez, his Conquistadors, their horses, and several thousand other Native Americans all out for revenge.

What does this have to do with China?

This relates to China because China isn’t the just the purveyor of cheap goods to the world and, especially, to America. It’s also become a regional bully.

I first had an inkling of that a few years ago when I was touring through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. The people in those countries loath the Chinese. Chinese tourists descend on their countries like locusts. They are loud, rude, demanding, and destructive. They arrive in huge busloads and, lacking any respect for the countries they visit, literally destroy the historic sites they’ve come to view. They are the equivalent of the Europeans touring Egypt, Italy, and Greece back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They bring small amounts of money and large amounts of cheerfully acquisitive pillage and destruction. They have not made friends.

The Chinese also haven’t been making friends in the region with their little trick of building artificial islands to extend their reach into the South China Sea. That’s been an extremely sore point with countries along the Malayan peninsula (especially the Philippines), as well as with Japan.

In addition to regional activity, the Chinese have been offering ostensibly cheap money to all sorts of third world countries, only for those countries to discover that the Chinese somehow managed to end up owning their economies.  It was one of those things, like borrowing money from the neighborhood loan shark, that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Put another way, like the Aztecs, China’s been a bit of a bully. That’s why this story did not surprise me in the slightest:

President Trump got another big win on Sunday, as he announced that the U.S. and Japan had agreed “in principle” to a trade that will open Japan to $7 million of American agricultural products. Speaking to reporters at the G-7 summit, Trump stated, “We have been working on a deal with Japan for a long time. It involves agriculture. It involves e-commerce. It involves many things. We’ve agreed in principle.” Trump added, “We’ve agreed to every point, and now we’re papering it and we’ll be signing it at a formal ceremony,” according to The Hill.

Expect more stories like the one above to come soon, both from East Asian nations looking to take China down a peg and from nations across the world anxious to see their local loan shark weakened. Indeed, I think it’s pretty clear that the Chinese themselves expect more stories like this, which is why they’re suddenly making nice:

China signaled Monday it is now seeking a “calm” end to its ongoing trade war with the U.S. and President Trump voiced optimism about a deal, as Asian markets crumbled and China’s currency plummeted to an 11-year low following the latest tariffs on $550 billion in Chinese goods announced last Friday by the Trump administration.

“I think we’re going to have a deal,” Trump told reporters.

Trump said Monday that officials from China called U.S. officials and expressed interest to “get back to the table,” The Wall Street Journal reported. He called the discussions a “very positive development.”

“They want to make a deal. That’s a great thing,” he said.

News of the possible opening in negotiations came shortly after Trump threatened to declare a national emergency that would result in American businesses freezing their relationships with China. Trump’s tariff barrage on Friday was a response to China imposing its own retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods.

Our very sane genius in the White House understood a few things that Leftists and NeverTrumpers didn’t. He understood that the Chinese economy needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs the Chinese economy. And he understood that the Chinese, like the Aztecs, have been bullying people everywhere. For those people, when a Cortez, and his Conquistadors (and their horses) come along, they have suddenly found the leader they’ve been looking for to take down the regional bully.

By the way, I grew up in San Francisco surrounded by Chinese people. I think Chinese has an amazing culture, with wonderful people, and an awesome and awe-inspiring history. I spent a lovely day in Beijing being overwhelmed by the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I just don’t want Communist China to be the most powerful country in the world or to control East Asia. I don’t like communism . . . at all.

Dear snotty Blue staters: Remember that wealth is relative. Back when I was living on the Blue Coast, one of the points Leftists loved to make was that Blue states are wealthier than Red states. Their point was that Blue state policies are obviously better than Red state policies because they generate more wealth. This means that Red staters, in addition to being poor, are insanely stupid to vote for conservative Red state policies.

My usual point in response was that in California, while there’s certainly wealth concentrated in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, most of California is in fact an extremely poor state. In other words, I argued that Blue states may be creating wealth, but they’re also creating horrific wealth inequality.

Although my point’s correct, I was overthinking. After all, the thing about money, something that I taught my kids starting when they were in elementary school, is that it has no fixed value. It’s only worth the value assigned to it by willing buyers and sellers — and, of course, in Blue states, that value is hopelessly perverted by government interference in the marketplace.

Now that I’m in Tennessee, I’m reminded that real value lies, not in money itself, but in what you get for the money. In that regard, I’d like to quote from a timeless article published in 2015, although it only came to my attention yesterday:

One of the great conundrums of the American political scene is why the poorer states, colloquially known as “red” states, tend to vote Republican or conservative, while the richer states, the “blue” ones (and let it be said that this is very confusing for this European, for over here the colours tend to work the other way around, red is Labour, or left wing) tend to vote Democrat. We would think that it should be the other way around, the poor people voting for more from that Great Big Pinata which is government. But it seems that there’s a simple solution to this: the red states aren’t actually poorer in terms of the way people live.

If we measure by consumption patterns then it’s the blue states that are poor, the red states that are rich:

Blue states, like California, New York and Illinois, whose economies turn on finance, trade and knowledge, are generally richer than red states. But red states, like Texas, Georgia and Utah, have done a better job over all of offering a higher standard of living relative to housing costs. That basic economic fact not only helps explain why the nation’s electoral map got so much redder in the November midterm elections, but also why America’s prosperity is in jeopardy.

Red state economies based on energy extraction, agriculture and suburban sprawl may have lower wages, higher poverty rates and lower levels of education on average than those of blue states — but their residents also benefit from much lower costs of living. For a middle-class person , the American dream of a big house with a backyard and a couple of cars is much more achievable in low-tax Arizona than in deep-blue Massachusetts. As Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia, recently noted, housing costs almost twice as much in deep-blue markets ($227 per square foot) than in red markets ($119).

That particular piece then goes on to chunter away about how appalling it is that people aren’t willing to vote for more blue state type of policies and how this will be the end of America. However, the really interesting part of it is that part quoted above. For it speaks to something that economists just keep trying to point out to people. Yes, sure, income inequality might be important in a way, wealth inequality should have a place in our thoughts. But what really matters to people about how life is lived is consumption.

If I’m on a fixed income (which you should assume I am, so donations to the blog are always welcome), I’m a much wealthier person in Tennessee than I am in California. Here in Tennessee, my apartment costs 1/5 of what it would in California, my gasoline costs 1/2 of what it would in California, and my utility bills are 1/3 what they are in California. Produce is more expensive here, but I can only eat so many apples. In addition, the roads throughout Tennessee are better maintained than those in California, the people are delightful, and Nature’s fecundity is glorious. I’m no longer living in an elite Blue community, but I feel I’m getting a lot of bang for my buck.

Where’s the podcast? I won’t do another podcast until September 1. It costs money to have an online service host podcasts, and I’ve already used up my month’s worth of hosting. If I want to do another podcast before August ends, I have to cough up more money to buy a bigger service and I’m not ready to do that.

What I’ll probably do once September starts, now that I’ve started to get a feel for this podcasting thing, is do a podcast every second day or so. Then, if I can get 20,000 listens per month (and that’s a lot of listens), I can get advertising going and, with that money, start buying more space for storing podcasts. I’ll also look into other ways to monetize the podcast. I do like talking and I’d sure love to make money doing something I like.

Image credit: The Great Wall at Jinshanling by Jakub Halun

The post Bookworm Beat 8/26/19 — China versus the Aztecs and open thread appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

The Dems’ impeachment demands are Heaven-sent manna for Trump

Trump’s impeachment battle with Pelosi — he wants it; she doesn’t — and his negotiations with Iran and China, highlight his strategic and tactical genius.

Of late, Trump has put me in mind of two very funny videos. But before I get to the videos, let me explain what I see going on right now between Trump and his opponents, both domestic and foreign. He is proving to be masterful at toying with his political enemies and with herding people into pens from which there is no easy escape or, perhaps, no escape at all.

The most obvious example today of Trump’s toying and his herding is the way in which he is baiting the Democrats to impeach him. Yes, I know it’s tacky when he talks about “Crazy Nancy Pelosi” or “Dumb as a Rock” Rex Tillerson, but we are living in tacky times, with a political party now devoting its entire energy and political capital to destroying a president. Dems have no other goals than to thwart Trump. Abnormal times seem to call for abnormal measures.

Here’s the way I see it: Being tacky is not an impeachable offense. Threatening to fire someone . . . and then listening to reason and not firing him is not an impeachable offense. Pushing back against an investigation by the same crew that’s trying to railroad you on false charges should not be an impeachable offense. Calling people mean nicknames is not an impeachable offense. In a constitutional republic, the executive officer refusing to produce his closest people for examination by the co-equal legislative branch is not an impeachable offense. Investigating law enforcement that either deliberately or with incredible stupidity launched a bogus investigation into a candidate’s/president’s affairs is not an impeachable offense.

While the base may have delusions of impeachability, ordinary people understand that saying “we hate you” does not establish the type of high crime or misdemeanor that justifies overthrowing the people’s choice. What the crazed base wants is profoundly un-democratic (that’s small “d” democratic). If we go down this route, we’ve given up on a true constitutional republic and become nothing more than a Western hemisphere banana republic.

Moreover, there is something very, very wrong in America when a Democrat-controlled House attempts to go all Lavrentiy Beria on a Republican president by digging into his bank records and taxes from the past decade. It is profoundly un-American when a government agency, instead of investigating an actual crime, instead tries to find a crime to pin upon a disfavored person.

Again, from Trump’s point of view, desperate times call for desperate measures. Or maybe in Trump’s case, we’re not talking about desperate measures at all but are talking about, instead, funny, showman-like measures. Ever since the Mueller report dropped, we’ve seen Trump batting his enemies around a bit, perhaps even letting them think they might succeed, before toppling them over. Or, alternatively, putting more and more pressure on them until they realize he’s trapped them.

So it is with the Democrats: In what might seem to be an irrational act, Trump is pushing as hard as he possibly can to be impeached. However, there’s nothing irrational about it. Trump knows that he hasn’t committed any high crimes and misdemeanors. After a two year rectal examine with a 6 foot long probe (that would be the Mueller investigation), the guy is squeaky clean when it comes to Russia. Moreover, as someone whom the IRS audits so regularly it’s become practically an annual IRS sporting even, we can assume that Trump has nothing too bad hiding in the dark recesses of either his business or personal finances.

Ordinarily, someone with that clean a record would simply proclaim his innocence . . . which, frankly, is seldom that convincing. Trump’s going the other direction: He’s behaving more and more aggressively, with the meeting walk-out, the name calling and, just today, the declassification of Russiagate documents.

In addition, his war of words with Nancy Pelosi may seem childish, and un-presidential, but the reality is that, as Trump escalates the insults, he’s putting her in an impossible position. Trump’s behavior is going to make her base, both inside and outside of the House, more and more strident when it comes to demanding impeachment. For Pelosi to ignore that base will be very dangerous because its the base that provides a party’s election energy.

What both Trump and Nancy know, though, although Nancy’s base refuses to recognize it, is that impeachment will be a disaster for the Democrats. The most obvious reason, of course, is that there’s no way in Hell that the Senate can muster a two-thirds majority to convict on the House’s impeachment charges. Moreover, the American people will be disgusted when they see Trump working like the devil to keep his promises while the House masturbates itself into an orgasmic impeachment frenzy. The optics will not favor the House — and it’s only going to get worse as Barr works his way through the facts behind the Russiagate scandal.

More and more ordinary Americans will start to say that the House is wasting its time, that the Democrats have run themselves right off the rails, that people knew what they were getting with Trump, that Trump is keeping his promises, and that he’s hard at work for the American people, even as the Democrats enact a cross between Soviet show trials and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. 

It’s been clear for some time that Pelosi’s goal has been to make impeachment quietly go away. You know how it is. You leave something kind of nasty in your inbox for a long time, hoping that if you ignore it, it will take care of itself by just fading into irrelevancy. Trump, however, will not let impeachment fade. He’s forcing a Hobson’s choice on Nancy: For her, there is no good option.

In much the same way, Trump is forcing Iran into a corner. You can hear Scott Adams talk about that here.

Briefly, Adams points out that Trump has effectively dealt a death blow to Iran’s economy because Iran is now unable to ship out any oil, which is it’s only real commodity. Moreover, Trump has made it clear that, if Iran gets feisty, Trump will decapitate the government. That is, unlike past regimes, he won’t do some sort of targeted blow somewhere. Instead, he will drop bombs on the presidential palace, the parliament, and the Guards’ headquarters. Iran’s only alternative to economic or actual death is to engage in serious peace talks that require it to stop sponsoring terrorism all over the world and trying to achieve complete dominance in the Middle East.

Trump has also put China in a corner. While Democrats and NeverTrumpers panic, the reality is that, while Americans are briefly being deprived of low price economic gadgets thanks to targeted tariffs (although it appears that the Chinese government, not American consumers, is currently taking on the costs of the tariffs), the Chinese are running out of food. Who do you think can hold out longer? I’m betting on Trump, not the Chinese.

Meanwhile, wisely, Trump makes sure to remind everyone that he thinks President Xi Jingping is a great guy with whom he can strike a deal that makes everyone happy. This is the complete opposite of his baiting behavior with Pelosi. It’s a reminder how calculating Trump is. He wants a deal with China. When it comes to Democrats, though, he wants to goad them into self-destructing.

So, President Trump plays with his enemies, even letting them think he’s running scared, before he goes in for the kill, and he corrals people in ways that either leave them without good options or that force hard decisions on them. And that leads me to my two videos.

The first is a video of Trump, the big dog, having some fun with the Democrats, as represented by Pelosi, the yapping little dog (starting at 4:15):

(Doesn’t that chihuahua kind of look like Nancy?)

And here’s a video of Trump, the sheepdog, relentlessly forcing those sheep-like Dems to go where he wants them to be:

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Bookworm Beat 5/7/19 — the Vanishing Conservatives on Social Media edition

There are reasons for you to be very afraid of the social media crackdown on conservatives (even fringe ones), plus other scary stuff in today’s world.

Democrats prepare for 2020 by silencing conservatives.  If I had to identify the scariest news today, it would be Twitter’s purge of conservatives, which follows closely on the heels of Facebook’s purge of conservatives. These social media outlets, which hold power unimagined at any past time, are using that power to silence non-Progressive dissent.

When it came to Facebook’s most recent purge, I won’t argue that Alex Jones is an unpleasant, possibly slightly demented character. Others, though, are merely vocal not-Leftists, such as Paul Joseph Watson, whose platform is Alex Jones’s InfoWars, or provocateurs, such as Milo Yiannopoulos. As a sop to “equality,” Facebook also finally shutdown arch anti-Semite (and Democrat friend) Louis Farrakhan, whom two major Leftist media outlets promptly identified as “right wing.”

Other than Farrakhan, both Twitter and Facebook do not appear to have gone after Left wingers. Most conspicuously, they continued to ignore Left wing “news” sites that, for two years, promoted the biggest hoax in American political history or blue-checked Lefties who revel in fantasies of murdering Trump or slapping around conservatives, including the innocent Covington School boys, whose only crime was to wear MAGA hats. These same social media behemoths have also left alone Hamas sites that advocate for Israel’s destruction and the genocide of her people; and unhinged Leftists sites that screech hysterically about toxic whites, masculinity, straight people, etc., all in the most vile and violent terms.

Moreover, currently both Facebook and Twitter seem comfortable providing a platform for Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims, who proudly posted video of himself verbally harassing an old lady praying outside a Planned Parenthood clinic and then went on to promise to pay anyone who would dox three pro-life teenage girls.

When called on his behavior, the out-and-proud Sims doubled down on the hateful rhetoric, all of which seems to have escaped Twitter’s eagle eye for “hate speech”:

Speaking of Pennsylvania, do you recall Facebook closing down the social media account showing a school recital in which darling little American Muslim children joyously recited lines about becoming martyrs to take back the Al Aqsa mosque, all while beheading perfidious Jews in showers of blood? If you recall that, you recall more than I do. Of course, the Muslim American Society Islamic Center in Philadelphia (MAS Philly), the group that posted the video, did say that it erred in posting it, so I guess that was enough. Neither Facebook nor MAS Philly seemed troubled by the video’s genocidally anti-Semitic content, never mind the child abuse it displayed.

Given the prominence social media has in American communication, it’s fairly obvious that Twitter and Facebook both want to prevent a repeat of 2016. Their silencing of conservative voices, while doing nothing about the vile content emanating from those affiliated with the political Left, is their way of achieving that goal.

I’ve already harped on the fact that California’s open primary silences conservatives completely during November elections. This happens because California’s Leftist majority means that only Democrats show up on the ballot for state and federal offices. In other words, when voters are paying attention, the only voices they hear are Leftist ones.

My preference is for these social media outlets to be declared publishers. After all, they clearly exercise control over content. If these social media sites are identified as publishers, they can be sued over content. Then, sue them into oblivion or into even-handedness, one or the other. Failing that, the government is going to have to step in . . . and that’s never a good thing.

Why are gays and lesbians so stridently anti-abortion? One of the things Brian Sims’s behavior highlights is that, when it comes to abortion, gays and lesbians are on the front lines. On my real-me Facebook page, the most vicious posts attacking pro-Life people are from gay men, with lesbians following at a close second. (I grew up and lived for decades in the Bay Area, so I have/had a lot of lesbian and gay friends and acquaintances.)

I find peculiar the fact that people whose preferred form of sexual congress cannot result in pregnancy are the ones loudest and most aggressive in their loyalty to abortion on demand up to and including the moment a baby is born.

Is it hostility to procreators?

Is it the fact that they live in essentially child free worlds and therefore have no empathy for babies?

Is it that, when gays and lesbians are politically Left, they hew to the extremes of that ideology?

Honestly, I don’t know. What do you think?

Jews, Israel, and the Democrat presidential candidates Here are two stories, that are definitely related. The first is that 42% of American Jews, when polled, complained that Trump is too pro-Israel:

Roughly four-in-ten (42%) say they think Trump is favoring the Israelis too much, while a similar share (47%) say he is striking the right balance between the Israelis and Palestinians. The rest either say he is favoring the Palestinians too much (6%) or they don’t know (4%).

Daniel Greenfield, who brought this poll to my attention, sees a bright side:

On the bright side, this means that about 53% of American Jews are pro-Israel.

He makes another, even more important, point about those anti-Israel Jews (all of whom, I guarantee you, are products of American institutions of higher indoctrination and anti-Semitism):

Many don’t like the Jewish State and their idea of being Jewish is watching Woody Allen movies or, for millennials, Broad City.

In other words, these are Jews in name only (“My last name is Goldberg, I vote Democrat, I fast on Yom Kippur, I hate Trump, and Israel is a Nazi nation.”).

The other, related, story is that, after Hamas in Gaza (territory without any Israeli control or oversight) rained over 600 rockets down on Israel, killing four Israelis, not a single Democrat party presidential candidate spoke up.

Indeed, the only Dems who seemed willing to mention the issue were Representative Ilhan Omar (D. Somalia) and Representative Rashida Tlaib (D. Palestine). Ilhan Omar bemoaned that “cycle of violence” as if the facts weren’t that Israel did nothing until she’d been hit by hundreds of missiles. Tlaib, meanwhile, who is ostensibly an American politician, mourned what was happening to “our Palestinian people.” Not “the Palestinian people” or “our allies {as if!) in Palestine,” but “our Palestinian people.” I honestly can’t decide whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that these two women are in Congress. On the one hand, they’re way too close to the levers of power. On the other hand, ordinary Americans can finally see what conservatives have been worrying about for years.

One of my Democrat Facebook friends, who is deeply concerned about Israel’s well-being and about rising anti-Semitism around the world, noted the Democrat primary candidates’ silence. He urged people following his Facebook feed to contact these candidates to complain. Because I don’t believe people can be harangued into agreeing with you, I confined myself to pointing out that, even if pressure caused these Dem pols to issue a belated pro-Israel statement, it was worth remembering that their initial instinct was to remain silent. I hope that thought fell on fertile soil.

I think we will see some Jewish migration to Republicans and even more Jewish migration away from Democrats. (That is, the latter group won’t be able to bring itself to conservativism, but will no longer be able to tolerate both open and covert anti-Semitism in the Democrat party.) The numbers will be small, but every vote — or lack of a vote — counts.

I’m personally ambivalent about Jews joining the Republican party. If their only reason for being there is to support Israel, but they remain Leftist in all their other values, they will do to the Democrat Party what Leftists did to red states when they fled high tax states for low tax states — they turned those states blue and promptly imposed in those states the same policies that had them fleeing their states of origin in the first place. Rush describes those people as locusts, and he’s right to do so.

My real preference is for disaffected Jewish Democrats just to sit out the 2020 election — or, even better, to cast a single protest vote for Trump and then do nothing.

Trump may have China’s number. To my great surprise, the New York Times published an opinion piece that says, not that Trump is an idiot in his dealings with China, but that Xi Jinping may have been the one who let the glory days of the Obama years go to his head. Yi-Zheng Lian argues that, while former Chinese premiers made nice with American presidents, Xi Jinping got increasingly aggressive in his policies, whether in trade, intellectual property theft, or attempts to expand China’s military and economic reach.

Lian says that Xi’s overreach happened because he became president in 2012 when China was still enjoying a great “economic miracle,” as compared to America’s ongoing recession. What Lian tactfully ignores is that Xi became Chinese’s president when Obama was America’s president — and the latter was always willing to back down and sell out.

Now, not only are China’s economic chickens coming home to roost because of its over-extension, Xi is facing a president who rightly views China as an economic and military threat. Additionally, rather than backing down, Trump is slowly but surely pushing China into a corner.

No wonder then that Steve Bannon, who may be unpleasant but is nobody’s fool, thinks that yesterday (Monday) was the most important day in Trump’s presidency:

“I happen to think that today [Monday] was the most important day of Donald Trump’s presidency,” Bannon told Dobbs. “He’s president of the United States because of the rejection of working-class people and middle-class people, about the managed decline of our country at the hands of people like Hillary Clinton. The Clinton global initiative, the whole Clinton apparatus. These globalists and elitists were very comfortable with the managed decline, particularly vis-a-vis the rise of China. And Donald Trump confronted that, particularly in the upper Midwest. This is the reason he won states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. People understand […] the factories went to China, the jobs went to China, and the opioids came in. So I think that Trump understands that tariffs are more than taxes. They’re more about self-empowerment of the working class.”

Not only does Trump understand this, Bannon said, but he also explained it very well. “Today he said that […] ‘I’m not going to do this, you’re not gonna come back and retrade us. I’m going to hit you with the tariffs.’ And I think this is a very big week in American economic history,” he added.

In this regard, Bannon explained, it’s important to keep in mind that the pressure on Trump to be soft on China has been enormous. “The IR department of the Chinese Communist Party, the Investors Relations department, is Wall Street, the lobbyists of corporate America. The pressure on President Trump has been relentless, and it’s all the Fear Project.”

If you like seeing Leftists viciously attacked in the media, then you must read Kyle Smith’s preemptive strike against New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is apparently planning to run for president:

Like an insecure college student trying on various personalities in an effort to capture the attention of the cutest girl in Postcolonial Gender Politics — now a preppy tennis player, now a tortured Goth guitarist, now an angry male feminist — de Blasio keeps trying to repackage himself, unable to perceive that it is the contents that people don’t like.

[snip]

De Blasio is not just a snoozy, groundhog-murdering buffoon who causes the city embarrassment on a par with the New York Knicks or JFK Airport. He’s also a skeezy money grubber who borrows tricks from his former boss Hillary Clinton (for whom he served as campaign manager in 2000). He has a tendency to set up noble-sounding activist groups that by miraculous coincidence attract dollars from entities wishing to grease the wheels with City Hall.

[snip]

What’s most salient about de Blasio is the sheer scale of his incompetence: Without even an “Oops,” he just shuttered his disastrous “Renewal” program, which torched three-quarters of a billion dollars on failed educators who were happy to cash the checks and delivered approximately zero results. De Blasio’s New York City Housing Authority — the outfit that runs all those charming housing projects — is so unspeakable (mold, rats, lead paint, unsafe elevators, leaky pipes, etc.) that the city was forced to accept oversight from a monitor appointed by Ben Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s right: The mayor bungled one of his central duties so badly that it’s now under the control of the administration of . . . Donald J. Trump.

What should really shake up the few sane people still loyal to a Democrat party is that de Blasio, with all his faults and failures, fits perfectly into the current Democrat party presidential candidate line-up.

Not all children’s deaths are equal. I sometimes get the sense the Progressives’ “compassion” is circumscribed by political need. For example, think of Democrats on the border issue: They’re all about “the children, the children, the children,” except that they don’t seem to care at all that, with the flood of people crossing our southern border, children are being rented out to create temporary families for asylum claims. These children are merchandise and, I suspect, get handed over to sex traffickers when their utility is over.

Moreover, many of the complaints about “the children, the children, the children,” don’t seem to be rooted in fact. For example, Sheriff David Clarke (ret.) wrote an article pointing out that three “cause célèbre” dead children all died from illnesses unrelated to the U.S. border. Each death was a tragedy, but none had political weight, so the media and their pro-immigrant fellow travelers had to lie about or obscure the reasons these poor children died.

Reading Sheriff Clarke’s article made me realize that I’ve seen almost nothing in the American media about Anders Holch Povlsen’s children. If you’re saying “Anders Holch who? And why his children?” you’ve made my point for me.

Asos is a huge British online fashion and beauty retailer. Its founder, however, is a Danish billionaire, Anders Holch Povlsen. He and his family — Povlsen, his wife, and his four young children — were in Sri Lanka for a vacation a little while ago. They stayed at a very nice hotel. Well, it was a very nice hotel until Muslim terrorists blew it up, along with several churches on an ill-fated Easter Sunday.

That explosion killed three out of the four Povlsen children: Alfred, Alma, and Agnes. Only little Astrid remains. You can see the surviving Povlsens’ overwhelming grief in this photo essay about the funeral, where they had to watch three of their children get carried away in little, white, flower-covered coffins.

Normally, you’d think the media would be all over a story about the deaths of three out of four children in a billionaire’s family. Imagine if they had died in a car accident or while marching in a pink pussy hat parade. We would have seen non-stop coverage, along with hand-wringing, about unsafe cars (a green world without cars would be better) or about the incredible evil of alt-right people.

But that’s not how these children died. Instead, they died quite politically incorrectly at the hands of Muslim terrorists. Their deaths, not being politically useful, have been ignored as much as possible.

Remember, if it doesn’t fit the narrative, it doesn’t exist.

If the only thing Trump did was change the federal judicial bench, he will have been the most important, consequential president in our lifetimes.

I say this because an Obama appointee just couldn’t bear to imprison for an extended period a young man who, at age 18, decided he wanted to blow up a whole bunch of people in the name of Allah. Fortunately, Adel Daoud confided, in between happy giggles, his plan to an undercover FBI agent, rather than a real terrorist. That’s why, when Daoud pushed the detonator on a car bomb outside a crowded Chicago bar, nothing happened.

But for Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, an Obama appointee, Daoud’s utterly evil intent didn’t matter. What mattered was that he was a poor, lost little boy:

Coleman said Daoud was uniquely immature at the time, when he was 18, noting how Daoud is heard giggling almost constantly as he brainstorms attacks to avenge what he saw as the West’s war on Muslims.

At an impressionable age, the judge said the “awkward young man with few friends” was immediately drawn to the 38-year-old FBI agent who first met with Daoud. Daoud promptly began tossing out ideas to impress the agent posing as a terrorist, once suggesting they mount an attack with “flying cars” packed with explosives.

“He continued to do what teenage boys do … talk big,” Coleman said.

Somehow that “big talk” translated into big action, because Daoud actually pushing what he thought was a detonator button. Coleman, though, was moved most by his giggles. Seeking to make things better for this poor little baby, Coleman gave Daoud the lightest sentence possible.

Thomas Lifson, who wrote about this story, explains:

All of that happened on 2012, and after years of incarceration while the case was prosecuted and he was tried, yesterday Daoud was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison, not the 40 years the prosecution asked for, with the six-plus years he has spent in jail credited against the sentence. In addition, he will concurrently serve (in other words, no extra prison time) for two other crimes: hiring an assassin to kill the informant who turned him in and the attempted murder of an inmate who he thought had insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

Next time you look at Trump in despair because he tweeted something that offended your sensibilities, think of Judge Coleman and ask yourself if you want more of her or fewer of her on the federal court. If you think her judicial sensibilities are too Progressive, just be grateful for Trump. Imagine what the federal bench, all the way up to the Supreme Court, would have looked like with four years of Hillary.

(Speaking of the Supreme Court, who believes that Justice Ginsburg is effectively fulfilling her responsibilities on that body? I’m not arguing that she’s dead; I just wonder if she’s functional.)

Helping out a friend. I just learned that Garry Hamilton, husband of master blogger Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, is being treated for cancer. And as is the case with cancer treatments, the experience is awful and expensive. Our thoughts and prayers can help the personal awfulness of it all and your donation to their GoFundMe campaign can help the expense. So, if you’ve got any spare change lying around, please send it their way.

The post Bookworm Beat 5/7/19 — the Vanishing Conservatives on Social Media edition appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

President Trump is the “dayenu” president

No matter how imperfect Trump is, looking at his record of accomplishments, as to each one I say the Passover word “dayenu” — it would have been enough.

During the Passover dinner, one of the songs Jewish families sing is Dayenu. It is in the nature of a “count your blessings song,” with the song reciting each of God’s miracles during the Exodus and, after every verse reciting “dayenu,” which means “it would have been enough” or “it would have sufficed.” Growing up,  I considered this song one of the best parts of the proceedings. I was in good company, for Jews have been singing Dayenu for around one thousand years.

The song consists of three groups of praise for God’s miracles. The first group recites the miracles that challenged Pharaoh, the second recites the miracles that were the Exodus itself, and the third recites the miracles of being with God and getting the Ten Commandants during the forty years in the wilderness. Chabad provides a nice version of the lyrics in  both English and Hebrew:

If He had brought us out from Egypt, and had not carried out judgments against them Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם וְלֹא עָשָׂה בָהֶם שְׁפָטִים דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had carried out judgments against them, and not against their idols Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בָהֶם שְׁפָטִים וְלֹא עָשָׂה בֵאלֹהֵיהֶם דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had destroyed their idols, and had not smitten their first-born Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בֵאלֹהֵיהֶם וְלֹא הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had smitten their first-born, and had not given us their wealth Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had given us their wealth, and had not split the sea for us Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם וְלֹא קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had split the sea for us, and had not taken us through it on dry land Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם וְלֹא הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had taken us through the sea on dry land, and had not drowned our oppressors in it Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה וְלֹא שִׁקַּע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had drowned our oppressors in it, and had not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ שִׁקַּע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ וְלֹא סִפֵּק צָרְכֵנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years, and had not fed us the manna Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ סִפֵּק צָרְכֵנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה וְלֹא הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had fed us the manna, and had not given us the ShabbatDayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had given us the Shabbat, and had not brought us before Mount Sinai Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת וְלֹא קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had brought us before Mount Sinai, and had not given us the Torah Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had given us the Torah, and had not brought us into the land of Israel Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה וְלֹא הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל דַּיֵּנוּ
If He had brought us into the land of Israel, and had not built for us the Beit Habechirah (Chosen House; the Beit Hamikdash) Dayenu, it would have sufficed us! אִלּוּ הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא בָנָה לָנוּ אֶת בֵּית הַבְּחִירָה דַּיֵּנוּ

So you can get a sense of the melody, here is the Maccabeats’ charming version of the song (although when we were kids we perked up rather than collapsing during the song):

The point of the song, obviously, is not to get greedy, but to be grateful for whatever gifts or miracles come your way. God doesn’t need cumulative miracles to prove His greatness and the debt Jews owe Him. Each little thing He did, standing alone, would have been enough.

So what’s this got to do with Trump? Well, let me first assure you that I am not likening Trump to God. He is no God. He is, instead, a very imperfect man, but one who nevertheless has taken a series of steps that, even if each stands alone, is a reminder why a Trump presidency is so much better than the Hillary alternative.

The genesis for this thought came about because I got an email from a very dear friend, one whom I respect more than you can imagine, who is baffled by my fondness for Trump. Before the Mueller report, he saw Trump as a crude buffoon. Since the Mueller report, he sees him as a dangerously corrupt individual. Worse, he sees Trump as way less successful than a good Republican president should be. As readers of this blog know, I’ve come to hold Trump in quite high esteem. Thinking about how to explain my esteem to my friend, I came up with the “dayenu” meter.

To begin with, remember that America’s choice in November 2016 was completely binary: Hillary or Trump. So we’re not measuring Trump against some perfect Republican candidate; we’re measuring Trump against Hillary, who was committed to continuing the Obama administration, although with the addition of the Clintons’ unique brand of financial corruption. It is in that context that I look at what Trump has done. (As an aside, I would argue, as Wolf Howling already has, that Trump is proving to be an extraordinary conservative president who, only halfway through his first term, can measure up even to Ronaldus Magnus.)

Also, regarding what Trump has not done, or not yet done, I never lose track of the fact that, for two-and-a-half years, Trump has been contending with the weight of an entirely false accusation that he entered into a conspiracy with Russia to keep Hillary from the White House. (Incidentally, that’s why Trump said he was “f**ked* when he realized the immensity of this whole Russia collusion hoax. He wasn’t saying, “Oh, my God, the jig is up! I’m going to jail.” He was saying, “Oh, my God, this will paralyze my effectiveness as a president.”)

So here’s my dayenu recital for Trump:

If Trump had merely presided over a booming economy, even if one accepts Leftist talking points that it wasn’t his policies that made the change — Dayenu.

If Trump had merely lowered taxes, even if one accepts Leftists talking points that lower taxes didn’t help the economic boom — Dayenu.

If Trump had merely massively cut regulations, even if one accepts Leftist talking points that lessening the government’s stranglehold over businesses didn’t help the economic boom — Dayenu.

If Trump had merely presided over minorities seeing the best economic years of their lives, even if one accepts Leftist talking points that Trump didn’t help the economic boom — Dayenu.

If Trump had merely appointed two conservative Supreme Court justices, even though the remaining Leftists Supreme Court justices show no sign of vacating their seats — Dayenu.

If Trump had merely put dozens of strict constructionists in federal appellate and district courts, even though enough Leftist judges remain to thwart many of his policies — Dayenu.

If Trump had merely taken seriously and worked hard to address American’s concerns about illegal aliens flooding our southern border security, even though the Democrats’ have successfully hamstrung Trump through Leftists activist judges — Dayenu. (Don’t get me started on Congress’s failure to act on the southern border when Republicans controlled both houses. Just don’t get me started.)

If Trump had merely shifted the long-standing, failed paradigm that saw the US sending no-strings (or almost no-strings) money to North Korea and, instead, offered Kim Jong-un a carrot and stick approach to abandoning North Korea’s nuclear program, even though Kim recently conducted a rocket test and talked to Putin — Dayenu. (I’m not worried about Kim allying with Putin, because he’s always been allied with communist regimes; I think his recent posturing, including that rocket test, is just that — posturing intended to keep his own worst enemies, the ones inside his regime, at bay.)

If Trump had merely defeated ISIS on the battlefield, even though radical Islamism remains a worldwide scourge — Dayenu. (You have to start defeating radical Islamists somewhere, especially because it’s the nature of Islam to respect a strong horse and want to gut and devour a weak one.)

If Trump had merely walked out of the illegal Kyoto Accord, which was set to deplete the American economy while propping up the hyper-polluting Chinese economy, even though his administration is still paying some lip service to the cult of climate change — Dayenu.

If Trump had merely supported a reinvigorated American oil, gas, and coal sector, which will bring employment to vast numbers of people and lower product prices for everyone, even though the climatistas are up in arms — Dayenu. (I have long believed that “renewables” cannot provide First World energy needs. Forcing America onto renewables will return us to a pre-industrial time which, while pastoral, was deadly and uncomfortable. The answer is to use our technology to make cleaner-burning fossil fuels and, if Scott Adams is correct, to turn to Generation IV nuclear reactors, which are completely safe and will burn up existing nuclear waste.)

If Trump had merely withdrawn from the illegal Iran Deal — which propped up the mullahs and funded world-wide terrorism — and instead reimposed economic sanctions on Iran, even though the mullahs are still rattling sabers and making trouble — Dayenu. (Nobody expected the mullahs to collapse the instant Trump undid that vile deal; it’s enough that he undid it and is starting to reapply pressure on a very shaky regime.)

If Trump had merely reinvigorated the American military by pouring more funds into it and by ending the habit of treating it as a social justice experiment, even though doing so hurts the feelings of transgender people — Dayenu. (The military exists to protect our nation, not to make people feel good about themselves.)

If Trump had merely put the screws to China’s predatory trade practices, which have been depleting the American economy for decades, in such a way that China appears to be backing down, even though people on the Left and the Right are now saying all tariffs are bad — Dayenu. (I believe in free trade, but free trade works only if there isn’t cheating. Moreover, while many claim that things will eventually right themselves if left alone, that’s a fine thing to say to one or two generations of Americans who are economically destroyed by China’s unfair trade practices, which include intellectual piracy, slave labor, and government underwriting in the marketplace. This “dayenu,” incidentally, also goes to the new trade deals Trump negotiated with other nations.)

If Trump had merely managed to de-fang most of Obamacare, which was a drag on the economy and which destroyed people’s relationships with their physicians while doing nothing to improve the delivery of medical care in America, even thought the vicious, unprincipled John McCain did everything he could to block Trump’s efforts — Dayenu.

If Trump had merely proved to be the staunchest friend Israel has ever had in the White House, or certainly the staunchest friend since Reagan, and implemented policies that are putting a stop to the Palestinians’ non-stop, bad faith demands, even as the whole Democrat Party is turning increasingly anti-Semitic — Dayenu.

If Trump had merely presided over a Department of Education that withdrew the “Dear Colleague” letter that turned already Leftist campus administrations into fanatically man-hating entities that destroyed young men without due process and on the merest threads of accusations, even though . . . I don’t know what “even though” clause could be used here — DAYENU!

If Trump had merely threatened to withdraw federal funds from institutions of (ostensibly) higher education that squash free speech, even though . . . heck! There is no “even though” here either.  DAYENU!

If Trump had merely shown fearlessness in the face of stifling, Leftist political correctness, thereby freeing other Americans to speak honestly, even though . . . what’s the downside here? None. DAYENU!

I could go on all day with this. Trump is rude, crude, bumptious, impulsive, cold-blooded, combative, etc. I see that. I also see that he’s incredibly funny, that he has a wonderful knack for making Leftists reveal their true colors, and that his initiatives, even if imperfect or ultimately ineffective, nevertheless have shifted paradigms at home and abroad in ways that are important to and beneficial for America.

As far as I can tell, the worst thing that Trump has left completely unfixed and unaddressed — and something that is a dangerous time bomb that could destroy America — is the $21 trillion national debt, which skyrocketed under Obama and has continued to rise under Trump. This is unsustainable and we need to work hard and fast to bring government spending down even as we hope that the soaring economy will help increase tax revenues to pay off that debt.

Also, while I’m on the subject, I want to address the Mueller report’s statement that Trump refused to let Mueller interview him and the allegation that Trump played with the idea of dismissing Mueller and, while he eventually did not do so, asked White House counsel to lie about the fact that he even contemplated that dismissal.

First, the undoubted fact that Trump refused to allow Mueller to interview him: No sane attorney would have allowed Mueller anywhere near his client. We saw with General Flynn that the Mueller approach was to trip people up on small, inconsequential details, and then use those trip-ups to prosecute them for perjury in the hope of squeezing more out of them. It was Mueller’s version of the torture Torquemada used during the Spanish inquisition.T

Just think for a moment about the fact that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn believed he was trying to tell the truth, but that he didn’t remember something they knew only because of their spying. Despite Flynn’s manifestly honest intentions, and the fact that he did not committed any of the crimes for which he was being investigated, Mueller destroyed Flynn professionally and financially, and finally brought Flynn to heel by threatening Flynn’s family.

Imagine what would have happened if Mueller, with all the information available to him through Obama-era spying, had gotten his talons into Trump. The only way to protect Trump was (a) to demand that Trump respond only to written interrogatories that could be carefully reviewed with an attorney and (b) to have Trump in those interrogatory responses denying remembering anything as to which he did not have absolutely perfect recall. To do otherwise would have thrown Trump into the maw of the new American Stasi.

I’m equally unimpressed with the allegation that, according to White House counsel Don McGahn, Trump wanted to fire Mueller, backed down on that desire, and then instructed his attorney to lie. It’s meant to show that Trump had evil in his heart, even though he didn’t fire Mueller, and then he tried to make his attorney complicit in that evil. Let’s unpack this, shall we?

First, we only have Don McGahn’s word for this. Trump was never asked about his side. The due process protections of examination and cross-examination are missing, making this pure hearsay from an attorney who had witnessed how Mueller destroyed the lives of those who didn’t cooperate with him. In that way, his testimony was probably as honest as any testimony coming from one of Torquemada’s victims.

Second, I can tell you as an attorney with decades under my belt that clients, when talking to their attorneys, often ask, “Can we do X?” or “Can we do Y?” with X and Y being either stupid or against the law. By the way, please remember that things can be against the law even if they’re not morally wrong. One of the scary things about today’s over-legislated and over-regulated world is that it’s impossible for us to know what the law is, making us sitting ducks for zealous or biased prosecutors. The fact that Trump didn’t know his suggestion couldn’t fly means nothing.

Once client asks such a question (“can we do X?”), the attorney’s role is to be extra cautious to protect the client. This may mean drawing lines that the attorney recommends the client not cross. When you have a bulldog client such as Trump, you, as the attorney, may have to take a strong stand to show that you’re not joking about the fact that something that seems logical and moral is still illegal: “No, you can’t do that, and if you insist on doing it, I’ll have to quit as your counsel.”

If that thread is indeed what McGahn had to make, Trump then did what 99% of clients do: He backed down and McGahn remained as his attorney. But Trump is in a unique class. Rather than this back-and-forth staying confidential, so that no one knows what ideas a client had before behaving perfectly legally, his attorney spilled the beans, making Trump look uniquely evil rather than completely ordinary.

One more thing about Trump’s query about firing Mueller, if he indeed did make that query: To the extent Trump knew he was being framed, it was quite reasonable for him to wonder if he could stop a baseless witch hunt intended to invalidate an American election.

Third, keep in mind that we’re dealing with exceptionally humorless people here. I sure you remember how, on the campaign trail, Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Sane people immediately recognized that Trump was making a humorous riff about the fact that Hillary’s blatant, grossly illegal security violations meant that the Russians had almost certainly been in possession of her emails for years.

Insane people — and that means the entire Left — insisted that Trump had the brazen effrontery to demand in public that Putin collude with him to hack Hillary’s already hacked emails. When you remember that Mueller’s attack dogs were all die-hard Democrat establishment members, you start to wonder, as I do, it’s entirely possible that Trump made an obvious joke to McGahn (“Hey, remember not to tell Mueller I wanted to fire his humorless little ass”).

So, yeah, I’m totally unimpressed by Mueller’s obstruction drama. And if you’d like more reasons to be unimpressed, I recommend watching this Mark Levin video on the subject:

Finally, if you’re interested in a stellar analysis of Trump — warts and all — as well as an explanation for why every American should find appalling the behavior of the bureaucratic caste arrayed against him, I highly recommend this Victor Davis Hanson interview, every minute of which is entertaining and informative (hat tip: Maggie’s Farm):

The post President Trump is the “dayenu” president appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Venezuela: Will China pull the plug on Maduro?

Long-term readersof my blog are familiar with the many times China has loaned money to Venezuela. Back in 2012, I posted that El Nuevo Herald reported

Venezuela’s increasingly dependent on China’s financing and direct investments to the tune of US$80 billion. In exchange, China is playing a greater part on Venezuela’s strategic decision making regarding especially the oil-producing Orinoco area.

Clearly by now Venezuela (which by now can’t even pay its oil drillers) won’t pay the billions of dollars back:

China Rethinks Its Alliance With Reeling Venezuela. Concerns about debt repayment and safety of expatriates prompt emergency meetings between Chinese envoy and state companies

These days, confronted with a pile of unpaid bills and increasing security headaches for its citizens and companies in Venezuela, China appears to be recalculating its alliance with the nation where it has made about $60 billion in loans.

As a result, Venezuela may not get meaningful freshloans or investment from China, raising the possibility of deeper cutbacks and shortages in the oil-rich nation or a default on more than $110 billion in government and state-oil-company bonds.

There are also security concerns, as more Chinese Venezuelans and expats are being kidnapped and extorted by local gangs (likely including the government-armed colectivos).

It’s not clear how many expats are living in Venezuela at the moment. Eight years ago, Daniel Duquenal reported on the large number of Chinese traveling on his flight from Paris who were rushed through customs upon arrival in Caracas.

21st Century Socialist Bolivarian Revolutions need money, and China is aware that the Venezuela regime can not survive without it – now the Chinese may be agreeable to negotiating with the opposition for a possible regime change.

Read the rest here

Sue Long: Save our Jobs in Services

Although we hear little about it, we should be concerned about pending legislation that could  destroy our sovereignty as a free and independent nation.

We already have NAFTA which is responsible for the loss of many jobs to outsourcing.  Then there is the pending TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) which would merge our country into a regional government in the Pacific.  Sold as a means of beating out China in trade agreements, we are not told how China could join TPP later on in spite of our objections. In addition, TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) would merge us with the EU which is now comprised of what were once sovereign nations in Europe, having been sold on it that it would help their economy.

Now, there is yet another to add to the mix, TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement). As if it isn’t enough that much of American manufacturing production has already been shipped out, leaving services as the main stay of the American economy, now services are on the chopping block. The TiSA would give the UN’s World Trade Organization (WTO) unprecedented control over the service sector, including jobs in banking, finance, courier and postal services, delivery and freight services, energy distribution, health care, insurance, maritime, professional services, legal services, licensing, real estate, telecommunications, transportation, tourism, and much more.

http://www.jbs.org/legislation/stop-the-trade-in-services-agreement-tisa

We need to insist that our legislators vote against this threat to our country.

Sue Long


Article written by: Tom White