Fight or Flight?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Editors’ note: The following essay is a response to recent articles by Neland Nobel and Victor Davis Hanson appearing in The Prickly Pear.

*****

Prediction: the date 11/3/2020 will become as infamous in history as 9/11/2001. Already, the recent turn of events in the post-11/3/20 world has, predictably, produced a number of deconstructions of Donald J. Trump and his presidency. Included on that list is Piling on Trump in The Prickly Pear (Neland Nobel, 1/8/21) in which every criticism of Trump is absolutely true. Unless, however, you believe that Trump’s loss on 11/3 was legitimate, they are also absolutely irrelevant.

Without going into a point-by-point breakdown, just consider the summary statement in the aforementioned article – “Yes, it would appear that Trump’s personality quirks may have lost us the Presidency.” That is precisely what Democrats want us to believe, that we lost the election and that it was due to a flawed candidate. They want that, nay, they NEED that in order to complete their mission of destroying the Trump brand, legacy and agenda. They do not want to face another Trump. The above quote would only be relevant if one were to totally disregard the massive evidence of election fraud while also ignoring the fact that Trump gained many millions more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016.

One must consider that the “steal,” as it is called, had to be a sure thing, and so it was. It did not rely on one or two factors. It did not rely, for example, on the Dominion voting system alone. It had to be a sure thing, because if it failed, the perpetrators would be in big trouble in Trump’s second term.

“We need to talk about why we lost,” writes Nobel in conclusion, missing the point again. We did NOT lose. That is the ONLY point and the discussion can never leave that point until the issue has been properly and fairly adjudicated with the results serving to correct the injustice. Until then, it trumps all other issues.

The 1/11/20 edition of The Prickly Pear includes an article by one of the brightest minds in America, Victor Davis Hanson. But bright people don’t always get it right and often do not possess the qualities of those with lesser IQs, notably grit, valor and common sense.

Hanson’s op-ed, Crazy 2020 is Dead! Long Live Crazier 2021! continues from The Prickly Pear, via a link at the bottom of the page to the balance of the piece at America Greatness.

In the continuation portion of the article, Hanson writes;

“As for Trump, there was a road, a far better road for him, not taken. He likely knew by the second week in December, when the electors were chosen, that his flurry of months-long lawsuits, recounts and objections would not lead to either a new national election or the disqualification of votes in four or five key states.”

Hanson goes on to amplify on the above:

“So, Trump erred in pressing is unrealistic claims of winning the election and thereby giving his supporters expectations that the irregularities in the voting would translate into a second Trump term. Again, fairly or not, legally or illegally, rightly or wrongly, that simply was never going to happen. To insist that it would was to mislead his most loyal base. And the disconnect from the finality of November 3, may have contributed to the Republican Senate losses in Georgia, and, for now, has clouded his legacy of real achievement.”

These points need breaking down:

You may note that Hanson never does reveal what he considers to be the “far better road” for Trump to have taken. Continuing with the first paragraph, how on earth could Trump have known in December that his lawsuits to that point would fail? Does Hanson have inside information on corruption and bias within state supreme courts and the federal court system? If not, then his opinion is nothing more than Monday morning quarterbacking and worse, it entirely misses the larger point which I will make in a moment. From my thirty years as a trial consultant, I can testify that the cowardice and even corruption we have witnessed from the courts in this case is the least surprising element of this saga.

In the second paragraph, Hanson goes on to refer to the election results as “irregularities.” No, the evidence, even by mid-December, but more so since, points to outright fraud and it was that fraud that formed the basis for the lawsuits in that it alone accounted for more than enough votes to reverse the outcomes. Or, possibly, Hanson views electronic vote switching, running the same ballots through the counting machines multiple times, the processing of more votes than there were registered voters and various other facts as mere “irregularities.”

Then Hanson offers the wildest speculation that Trump’s stance “may have contributed” to the loss of the Georgia Senate races, while offering no logic for that claim. Considerably more compelling could be the argument that drawing the voters’ attentions to the November election’s fraudulent outcome would make for an effective call to action. One could easily understand that motivating Trump supporters who must have been angry after learning of the fraud in their state would be a good strategy. Ask yourself which of those two positions sounds more valid when held to the test of common sense?

Now to the “larger point” mentioned above:

When do you fight and when do you run or surrender? One needs to look no further than the history of this country for a fine example of an answer. George Washington, the Continental Congress and the Continental Army, together with a rag-tag assembly of untrained civilian volunteers had no business believing they could defeat the most powerful military on the planet. If Victor Davis Hanson was advising them, it seems now that he would have said “Forget it boys, you can’t win.” Indeed, there were many in 1776 who said the same thing. Luckily, they were ignored, but they weren’t ignored because the argument made no sense. They were ignored because the argument was irrelevant. The fight needed to be fought because it was the right thing to do.

Indeed, battle history is replete with similar examples, some with results as above, some in defeat, including many where defeat was the outcome known in advance. If need be, ask Texans to explain. The battle of the Alamo serves as a prime example. It was lost before it started, but because it was fought, the war was won. The battle of Midway in WW II is another. The U.S. Navy’s torpedo planes attacked the Japanese fleet without fighter protection. They didn’t stand a chance and were wiped out by the enemy fighters. But their adherence to duty and their bravery brought the enemy fighters down to sea level, leaving our Navy’s dive bombers who followed moments later with a clear path to destroy the enemy’s aircraft carriers and win a battle that was the turning point in the war. Significantly, neither of those examples were intellectual exercises, nor have intellectuals ever been credited with winning a battle, let alone a war.

Where Hanson claims Trump’s fight “clouded his legacy,” I argue it IS his legacy, win or lose, just as capitulation would be his legacy if he had chosen not to fight. Finally, those who would dismiss Trump’s achievements, as Hanson suggests, due to his fight to preserve the integrity of U.S. elections lack much more than common sense.

*****

David Tunno is a retired trial consultant and California refugee now living in Paulden, Arizona. More information about David Tunno is found at www.tunno.com.

There Once Was a Dream

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

There once was a dream of a worldwide electronic web where commerce and communications could be linked, providing wide consumer choice, lower costs, and creating a marketplace of ideas. Anyone with access to the Web could access the common knowledge of the world with the keystroke of ever cheaper and more powerful devices.

It created rapid change and considerable “creative destruction”, as new ways of doing things were adopted and old ways discarded.

To be sure, there were serious instances of hacking and fraud. But not enough to stop most everyone from migrating to the Web and establishing a digital presence.

And humans, being the flawed creatures that we are, developed a number of consumer scams, have engaged in degrading pornographic sites and generated the proliferation of strange and kooky ideas. Such is the price one pays for freedom of expression; you might say.

Many people find communication on the web addictive. It has almost destroyed personal conversation and led to ever shorter attention spans.

But it has allowed citizen journalists to outperform legacy news organizations. Almost any viewpoint or household chore can now be found on YouTube.

The downside of the Web is that it has concentrated the power to dispense information and the power to destroy competition in the hands of a handful of companies and CEOs.

Despite these warning signals, trust in the Web has expanded so that people now place their most precious photographic memories in “the cloud”, their important documents, financial affairs and their personal thoughts. Companies have moved their accounting, marketing, compliance and even their phone services to the Web. All of it is out there to be either hacked or restricted.

Much of our monetary activities now occur on the Web. You can deposit checks on your phone, utilize credit and debit cards, even apply for and obtain home mortgages. There are now more than 2,000 digital currencies worth almost $900 billion dollars.

We even count votes with machines that are wired into the Web. That of course leaves the results open to hacking and manipulation.

This has all proven to be a mixed bag. It would seem, most of us believe the pluses outweigh the minuses.

But in a very vital sense, all of this was based on the idea of the integrity and safety of using the Web.

There are now reasons to seriously doubt there is either safety or integrity in the system that all of life seems to have become dependent upon.

In terms of safety, there are an alarming increase in hacking incidents. Not just hacking into the system of the neighborhood dentist and holding his operations up for ransom, but successful intrusions into some of the most sensitive government operations, such as our nuclear arsenal. There seems to be no place one is really safe on the Web.

It is clear that cyber warfare is now part of the arsenal of most advanced nations and that the Web could be collateral damage to this new form of war.

And now we see the most sinister turn, the use of the Web to control a population, such as the social credit score system in Red China.

The integrity of the system was that it was to be free, with all the flaws caused by human fallibilities.

But the government of China, and especially U.S. tech companies closely associated with that government, have decided that they will dictate what ideas can and cannot be communicated on the Web.

They also can determine what services, sites and other things one may want to do on the Web.

In the case of Parler, Amazon on the same day as the actions taken by Apple, cut off hosting services to a platform that carried news, views and ideas used by Conservatives and Libertarians. They basically put a company out of business.

You can say, well Parler can find another hosting company, there is a free market, right?

Not so fast. It appears that Amazon possesses such economic power that they are intimidating any competitor who wants to come along and pick up the business Amazon is refusing.

This is pure naked, monopoly power on display. If Amazon can do this to Parler, they can do this to anybody.

It would be equivalent to U.S. Steel owning the railroads and refusing to ship steel manufactured by someone else. And, if the steel company that is a competitor to U.S. Steel, found trucking companies willing to take their freight, U.S. Steel comes at the trucking companies and frightens them into declining the business, thus choking their competitor to death.

Liberals and Progressives would object to that, right?

But this wasn’t just about intimidating competitors, it is a deliberate attempt to destroy free speech.

For the sake of freedom of expression, this must be resisted. One man’s insurrection seems to be another man’s demonstration.

The rules are arbitrary and capricious. It is OK to upload child pornography but wrong to go to a site that might support the President of the United States. It is OK for Black Lives Matter to be on the Web (which caused a summer of mayhem, murder, and destruction) but not for Dan Bongino to have a presence.

By denying access, the information on the Web can be converted into a political weapon.
And in strictly a commercial sense, by these actions, these tech monopolies are breaking down the trust necessary for commerce. They can destroy any one they want for commercial or political reasons.

If Big Tech can ban access for me to read Dan Bongino on Parler, may they not deny me access to my digital currency or perhaps even my bank or brokerage account? Will they deny us access to credit because we have a point of view different than they do? What about if we have religious views different from them? Where will the censorious attitude stop?

We know from what is occurring on American college campuses. Any deviation from what Mark Zuckerberg thinks is a “hate crime.”

Will they now set prohibitions as to what magazines and news sites I am permitted to read? Do they surveil what we are doing and report our tendencies to the government? Our government or perhaps the Chinese government?

If safety and integrity break down, with so much of our business and personal affairs now linked to the Web, a loss of confidence in the system in which so many of our commercial activities take place, could do massive and almost instantaneous economic damage.

These tech giants now are not just a political threat. They are a threat to the commercial well being of the world. We just can’t know who or what they might decide to restrict next.

Government regulation would be dangerous. Political parties and these tech behemoths and media companies are already aligned with each other and using their alliance for political means, so evident in the 2020 election.

Besides the political threat, economists call it regulatory capture. Almost always, the industry being regulated, eventually captures the regulatory agencies that do the regulating.

We need free and open competition. We need to break up the monopolies. Application of the anti-trust laws certainly seem applicable to maintain competition and choice.

If this is not done promptly, the dream will fade and be replaced by a nightmare worse than envisioned by George Orwell.

You can do your part.

Write your U.S. Representative and Senators raising concerns about this monopoly-based suppression of speech.

Quit doing business immediately with Amazon, Whole Foods or any of its affiliates.

Why Trump Voters Don’t Trust the People that Count Votes

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Perhaps not since the nineteenth century have so many American voters so fervently doubted the outcome of a national election.

Slate headline from December 13 reads: “82 Percent of Trump Voters Say Biden’s Win Isn’t Legitimate.” If even half true, this poll means tens of millions of Americans believe the incoming ruling party in Washington got its political power by cheating.

The implications of this are broader than one might think. Under the current system, if many millions of Americans doubt the veracity of the official vote count, the challenge to the status quo goes beyond simply thinking that Democrats are cheaters. Rather, the Trump voters’ doubts indict much of the American political system overall and call its legitimacy into question.

For example, if Trump supporters are unwilling to accept that the vote count in Georgia was fair—in a state where Republicans control both the legislature and the governor’s mansion—this means skepticism goes well beyond mere distrust of the Democratic Party. For Trump’s vote-count skeptics, not even the GOP or the nonpartisan election officials can be trusted to count the votes properly.

Moreover, unlike the general public, Trump supporters appear to have adopted a keenly suspicious view toward these administrators and the systems they control. This is all to the best, regardless of the true extent of voter fraud in 2020. After all, government administrators—including those who count the votes—are not mere disinterested, efficiency-obsessed administrators. They have their own biases and political interests. They’re not neutral.

Trump as Outsider

How did Trump supporters become such skeptics? Whether accurately or not, Trump is viewed as an antiestablishment figure by most of his supporters. He is supposed to be the man who will “drain the swamp” and oppose the entrenched administrative state (i.e., the deep state).

In practice, this means opposition must go beyond mere partisan opposition. It was not enough to simply trust the GOP, because, either instinctively or intellectually, many Trump supporters know he has never really been a part of the GOP establishment. The opposition from within the Republican Party has always been substantial, and the old party guard never stopped opposing him. For Trump’s supporters, then, the two-party system isn’t enough to act as a brake on abuse by the administrative state—at least when it comes to sabotaging the Trump administration. In the minds of many supporters, Trump embodies the anti-establishment party while his opponents can be found in both parties and in the nonpartisan administrative state itself.

This view has formed over time in a reaction to real life experience. Trump supporters have been given plenty of reasons to suspect that anti-Trump sentiment is endemic within the bureaucracy. For example, from the beginning, high-ranking “nonpartisan” officials at the FBI were actively seeking to undermine the Trump presidency. Then there was Alexander Vindman, who openly opposed legal orders from the White House and lent aid to House officials hoping to impeach Trump. Then there were those Pentagon officials who apparently lied to Trump in order to avoid drawing down US troops in Syria. All this was on top of the usual bureaucrats, who already tend to be hated by conservative populists: education bureaucrats, IRS agents, environmental regulators, and others responsible for carrying out federal edicts.

And then there were the federal medical “experts” like Anthony Fauci, who insisted Americans ought not to be allowed to leave their homes until no new covid-19 cases were discovered for a period of weeks. Translation: never.

Health technocrats like Fauci came to be hated by Trump supporters, not just for seeking to shut down churches and ruin the lives of countless business owners, but for setting themselves up as political opponents of the administration through daily press releases and other means of contradicting the White House.

It only makes sense that Trump’s supporters would extend this distrust of the bureaucracy to those who count the votes. After all, who counts the votes has always been of utmost importance. It’s why renowned political cartoonist Thomas Nast had Boss Tweed utter these words in an 1871 cartoon: “As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?”

Boss Tweed

 

This has always been a good question.

Old party bosses like Tweed are now out of the picture, but the votes nowadays are calculated and certified instead by people who, like Tweed, have their own ideological views and their own political interests. The official vote counts are handed down by bureaucratic election officials and by party officials, most of whom are outside the circles of Trump loyalists.

Given the outright political and bureaucratic opposition Trump has faced from other corners of the administrative state, there seems to be little reason for his supporters to trust those who count the votes.

Learning to Mistrust the Administrative State

Thus, whether facing FBI agents or election officials, Trump supporters learned to take official government reports and pronouncements with a healthy dose of skepticism. The end result: for the first time, under Trump, the American administrative state came to be widely viewed as a political force seeking to undermine a legitimately elected president, and as a political interest group in itself.

Naturally, the media and the administrative state itself have reacted to this with outrage and disbelief that anyone could believe that the professional technocrats and bureaucrats could have anything in mind other than selfless, efficient service to the greater good. The idea that lifelong employees of the regime might be biased against a man supposedly tasked with dismantling the regime was—we were assured—absurd.

Civil Service Reform and the Rise of the Permanent Bureaucracy

Although Trump’s supporters may get some of the details wrong, the distrustful view of the bureaucracy is the more accurate and realistic view. The view of the American administrative state as impartial, nonideological, and aloof from politics has always been the naïve view, and one pushed by the Progressive reformers who created this class of permanent government “experts.”

Before these Progressives triumphed in the early twentieth century, this permanent class of technocrats, bureaucrats and “experts” did not exist in the United States. Prior to civil service reform in the late nineteenth century, most bureaucratic jobs—at all levels of government—were given to party loyalists. When Republicans won the White House, the Republican president filled bureaucratic positions with political supporters. Other parties did the same.

This was denounced by reformers, who maligned this system as “the spoils system.” Reformers insisted that American politics would be far less corrupt, more efficient, and less politicized, if permanently appointed experts in public administration were put into these positions instead.

The Administrative State as an Interest Group

But the rub was that in spite of claims by the reformers, there was never any reason to assume this new class of administrators would be politically neutral. The first sign of danger in this regard was the fact that those who wanted civil service reform seemed to come from a very specific background. Murray Rothbard writes:

The civil service Reformers were a remarkably homogeneous group. Concentrated almost exclusively in the urban Northeast, including New York City and especially Boston, the Reformers virtually constituted an older, highly educated and articulate elite. From families of old patrician wealth, mercantile and financial rather than coming from new industries, these men despised what they saw as the crass materialism of the nouveau riche, as well as their lack of good breeding or education at Harvard or Yale. Not only were the Reformers merchants, attorneys, and educators, but they virtually constituted the most influential “media elite” of the day: editors, writers, and scholars.

In practice, as Rothbard has shown, civil service reform did not eliminate corruption or bias in the administration of the regime. Rather, the advent of the civil service only shifted bureaucratic power away from working-class party loyalists, and toward middle-class and university-educated personnel. These people, of course, had their own socioeconomic backgrounds and political agendas, as suggested by one anti-reform politician at the time who recognized that civil service exams would be employed to direct jobs in a certain direction:

So, sir, it comes to this at last, that…the dunce who had been crammed up to a diploma at Yale, and comes fresh from his cramming, will be preferred in all civil service appointments to the ablest, most successful, and most upright business man of the country, who either did not enjoy the benefit of early education, or from whose mind, long engrossed in practical pursuits, the details and niceties of academic knowledge have faded away as the headlands disappear when the mariner bids his native land good night.

Gone were the old party activists who had worked their way up to a position of power from local communities in which they had skin in the game. The new technocrats were something else entirely.

Today, of course, the bureaucracy continues to be characterized by ideological leanings of its own. For example, government workers, from the federal level down, skew heavily Democrat. They have more job security. They’re better paid. They’re less rural. They have more formal education. It’s a safe bet the bureaucracy isn’t chock full of Trump supporters. Civil service reform didn’t eliminate corruption and bias. It simply created a different kind.

Trump supporters recognize that these people don’t go away when “their guy” wins. These are permanent civil “servants” whom Trump supporters suspect—with good reason—have been thoroughly opposed to the Trump administration.

So, if the FBI and the Pentagon have already demonstrated their officials are willing to break and bend rules to obstruct Trump, why believe the administrative class when they insist elections are free and fair and all above board? Many have found little reason to do so.

*****

This article was first published by Mises Wire on January 6, 2021 and is hereby reproduced by permission of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Our Election Rules Are A Mess

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Supposedly our election rules are left to the states. The problem is most people seem not to care about anything other than our biennial elections for Congress and the President every four years. Bill de Blasio — the worst mayor in American history — was elected by just 8% of NYC voters. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was thrust on the American scene by winning a primary that was arguably tantamount to a general election with just 16,898 votes.  It is time to clean up this mess. The problem is the political parties are worlds apart.

The Democrats have done much to loosen election rules. They argue that even simple rules are voter suppression.  That is even though they know the inherent problems with cleaning voter rolls maintained at the county level.  Just dealing with the deceased is a major problem. Almost 3 million Americans die every year. That means nearly six million dead people are potentially on voter rolls since the last biennial election, not including ones never removed in past elections. Then there are the people who have moved. Forty million Americans move every year many between states or at least change jurisdictions within states.

California has been at the forefront of destroying the integrity of our elections. First, they issue driver licenses to foreign nationals including illegal aliens. They have made the DMV (the least trusted name in government operations) a center point of registering people and all you need to vote is a driver’s license whether here legally or not. Then ballot harvesting was established as a statewide manner of damaging election integrity.  Harvesting allows a stranger to come to your house and take your ballot to deliver it for you. What could go wrong with that?  They mailed out ballots to every registered person in this last election with return postage paid despite all the dead and relocated people still on the voter rolls. Worse, there was little preparation for handling the onslaught of mailed-in ballots.

The U.S. Commission on Federal Election Reform had something to say about this in 2005. Chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, the commission made clear that “absentee ballots (mailed) remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” They also stated, “vote-buying schemes are more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail.” Yet more states are moving that way.

The Democrats want to create even more havoc in the rules of our election. Don’t believe it?  Look at the first bill they presented in the House of Representatives when they took over in January 2019. House Resolution 1 in 2019 was all about rewriting our election rules. It came in at 600 pages just to make sure it was unclear. The more pages the less clarity.

Here are some of the things the bill proposed:

  1. The states would be required to offer early voting.
  2. The states would have to offer registration up to and including Election Day.
  3. The states would have to offer online registration (nothing could go wrong there).
  4. The states would have to automatically register people from government databases (nothing could go wrong there).
  5. The states would have to register 16-year-olds to vote two years in advance (This is a step toward their wanting 16-year-olds to vote).
  6. The bill requires states to accept absentee ballots for any reason.
  7. The bill would provide for prepaid return postage for any ballots involving a federal election.
  8. The bill would establish ballot harvesting across the nation.
  9. The bill would disable most voter ID laws across the nation.

The bill has not passed, but that is not the end of it. Many of the provisions were part of the Cares Act in 2020 before they were cut. These rules will be brought forward until the Democrats get this passed. For elections to have integrity, virtually none of this should be done.

Democrats are always telling us they are the party of science and that we should be more like other countries.  Except when they do not want to do either.

Democrats are constantly making comments that voter ID is racist. It harms Blacks and Hispanics. We all know that is not true. Blacks and Hispanics have a government-issued photo ID for the same reasons everyone else does. More importantly, we are the only modern country that does not require voter ID. The largest democracy in the world, India, does. So do Israel and France and Germany and Britain and Canada and Mexico and Sweden and Norway and the United Kingdom and on and on. We held an election in Iraq and required voter ID.

The question is why Democrats would not want voter ID.  The same answer comes up because it is the only answer – they want to lessen the integrity of our elections. That can be the only answer. That is the answer as to why they want election day registration, limited voter roll cleaning and they think ballot harvesting is a sane idea in a free country.

Oregon has all mail-in ballots and online registration and is the model for much of Democrats’ ideas. Yet they still cut off registration 21 days ahead of election day and require voter ID to register. There are currently four states that have online registration. Arizona, Washington, and Kansas are the other states that allow online registration.  How they verify that the authenticity of the registrant is unclear.

You cannot get an election official to admit there is errant voting in their elections. The NYT contacted election officials from all 50 states, and everyone not surprisingly said it all went swimmingly. That is despite many states having new rule changes that impacted their registration and mail-in-ballots. That is despite independent sources identifying multiple cases of improper election-related behavior.

Christopher Krebs was fired by Mr. Trump. Thus, he had to be a good guy in the eyes of the Media. He was our first director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). He was head of the predecessor organization. After being fired he went on various national news shows and told the world we had the most secure election yet. That defies simple logic with multiple states changing to statewide mail-in ballots despite having inadequate preparation for doing such. More importantly, Mr. Krebs’ organization was simultaneously responsible for the oversight of our cyber systems which had the largest hack in history known as SolarWinds. He should have been fired for that, but Trump jumped the gun and fired him for his oversight of election integrity. Needless to say, his credibility is shot on both issues.

Election officials deny there is anything is wrong with their procedures. There obviously is and with demands for further loosening of the rules, we have two parties in juxtaposition. One wants to assure greater security for our elections and the other wants to make it easier to create mischief in our voting system. One believes as always that our citizens are helpless, and the government needs to do everything for them.

The Dems say voting is our most sacred right. They should treat it as such. When you have a sacred right you should have to work to protect that right. Showing up with a voter ID is not too much to ask. Registering to vote instead of it automatically occurring by a government agency is not too much to ask. Getting your ballot either in the mail or at a polling place and then returning that ballot with your own effort is not too much to ask.  Remember it is a right in a true democracy to abstain from voting, and many people opt for that right.

If we continue to divorce the individual effort from voting, then we will continue to open our electoral system to mayhem. Don’t believe the lies from election officials that this was a safe and secure election. It was a mess because it was designed to be a mess. We need to change that or the value of our vote will be dissolved.

*****

This article first appeared in Flash Report  on January 10, 2021 and is reproduced with the permission of the author.

Crazy 2020 Is Dead! Long Live Crazier 2021!

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hang on. It is going to be Mr. Toad’s wild scary ride for all of 2021.

The proper conservative response to last Wednesday’s violent entry into the Capitol and vandalism, as well as assaults on law-enforcement, is to identify the guilty parties and ensure they are arrested.

Such deterrence will prevent any future devolution from legal popular protests into thuggery. No constitutional republic can tolerate its iconic heart stormed, breached, and defiled.

Is Some Violence Worse than Others?

Of course, there is no such thing as “good” or “acceptable” violence of either Trump supporters or of the Antifa and BLM sort.

Yet the latter were largely exempt from any consequences for most of the summer—despite Joe Biden’s demagogic implication that the now multibillion-dollar funded BLM was treated harshly in comparison to the rogue Trump rioters.

Do we remember the authorities’ exemptions given to “warlord” Raz Simone and his armed thugs who, with absolute impunity, took over a Seattle “autonomous zone” known as CHOP or CHAZ, where four shootings and two deaths followed? Who exactly destroyed or vandalized thousands of state and federal public monuments—some in Washington, D.C.—and burned and looted hundreds of buildings with impunity?

Those who wrongly demanded to defund the police, now rightly deplore the lack of a Capitol police presence. Their only consistency is their own perceived political self-interest.

Biden himself rarely if ever, without exceptions, outright condemned the atrocious violence of Antifa and indeed contextualized it as an “idea”—a disincarnate entity that apparently could magically also burn and loot.

Again, his inaugural call for unity was quickly superseded by his surreal accusations that the police were racist in not quelling the violence. Yet the problem at the Capitol was not that security was racially selective, but that there was not much security at all. And the lapse was probably not by design as much as sheer incompetence.

The president-elect’s demeanor and furor certainly were not compatible with his media image as the supposedly angelic uniter of the country. Within 24 hours he had gone from blasting the police authorities as racists to the old reductio ad Hitlerum trope of comparing a few Republican senators to Nazi propogandist Joseph Goebbels, in a hysterical rant that descended into incoherent numerology about the bombing of Dresden. I’m sure Xi Jinping and Ayatollah Khamenei were impressed by his historical recollections.

Would that summer candidate Biden had just once said a word on behalf of the victims of Antifa and BLM—more than 700 injured law enforcement officers, billions of dollars in damage, and dozens killed over a summer of hateful violence that also wrecked the lives of thousands of struggling small business owners and their employees. What Kamala Harris said about the violent summer protests was appalling, and she was most worried about bailing out those arrested for street violence. Somehow a summer of hate and destruction earned BLM $10 billion in corporate gifts. Did anyone suggest that CEOs were subsidizing violence by crassly buying protection?

Continue reading at American Greatness

The Liberal Left Has Gone Full Illiberal

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Over ten months, I have watched with incredulity as the liberal-left has unquestioningly and unequivocally embraced policies, ostensibly to manage the coronavirus pandemic, that are not only illiberal but authoritarian. With each passing day, those on the left-liberal side of the political spectrum display greater acceptance of increasingly oppressive measures.  Maybe I should have been prepared.

With more and more frequency during the past years, I have found myself departing from my cohorts’ consensus during various discussions arising from current events, particularly insofar as they pertained to civil liberties issues. More disturbing than the substantive disagreement was the utter lack of regard for difference of opinion among many of my peers.

Nevertheless, I did not anticipate that the left would soon abandon all pretense of concern for liberal values, which are widely understood to consist of tolerance, open-mindedness, and protection of individual rights and dignity (As a preliminary matter, I am using the term “liberal-left” broadly, to describe: individuals who so identify, the Democratic Party and politicians, and center-left news outlets such as the New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN. I am aware that there is diversity of opinion, but believe it is fair to characterize the overarching left-liberal view as one that accepts the efficacy and morality of lockdowns, masks, and forced human separation).

At this point, those of us unfortunate enough to live in blue and purple states, as well as in many other parts of the world, have been deprived of our basic liberties for nearly a year. We cannot freely associate with other people, operate our businesses, send our children to school, or travel to many places without having to isolate for two weeks, which often translates into visiting loved ones becoming a practical impossibility. College students are imprisoned in dorm rooms for weeks because they or someone they interacted with tested positive for the virus (I will leave the topic of the unreliability of these tests for another day). They are expelled, harshly punished, and shamed for attending parties and socializing in groups. It is no surprise that, condemned for engaging in the most natural activities for those their age, suicidal ideation, depression, and drug usage have skyrocketed in this demographic. Children are forbidden from playing with one another or forced to do so while muzzled.

These oppressive policies, which at face value constitute grotesque violations of civil rights and liberties, are enacted and enforced primarily by Democratic politicians, not least among them the governors of New York, Michigan and California: Andrew Cuomo, Gretchen Whitmer and Gavin Newsom, respectively. For the most part, these pandemic management strategies are lauded by their constituents and center-left publications alike. To the extent they are criticized from the left, it is usually for failing to enact the measures sooner or enforcing them more stringently.

Particularly chilling is a piece published in the New York Times on January 4, 2021, “In a Topsy-Turvy Pandemic World, China Offers Its Version of Freedom,” by Li Yuan. Notably, this article appeared not in the opinion pages, where arguably it could defensively be printed, but in the news section, and accordingly can be deemed representative of the Times’s views. It is worth pointing out that the Times’s influence cannot be overstated: it is the journalistic arm of the Democratic establishment and informs the consciousness and values of the urban professional class. One can be fairly certain that the beliefs of most doctors, teachers, lawyers, and professors will reflect the ideas propagated in the paper.

The premise of Ms. Yuan’s piece is that the post-enlightenment values that until recently were considered non-negotiable in most Western democracies– freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom of assembly – are dispensable.

That is because, according to Ms. Yuan, China has triumphed over the virus, needless to say by trampling on these very rights, and in doing so allowed for a different set: the freedom to live a normal life (“the West may find it has to work harder to sell its vision of freedom after China has made its model seem so attractive”).

Who is to say which rights are more important? the article queries.

Ms. Yuan next speculates that “[t]he global crisis could plant doubts about other types of freedom” as “[n]early half of voting Americans supported a president who ignored science and failed to take basic precautions to protect their country. Some Americans assert that it is their individual right to ignore health experts’ recommendations to wear masks, putting themselves and others at increasing risk of infection.”

These are an astonishing set of assertions: they appear to call into question the importance of democracy itself, and more vaguely the rights of Americans to make their own decisions about their health and to question and dissent from government mandates. Perhaps I am naïve, but I was under the impression that in a free society, people are at liberty to evaluate the evidence for any proposition — especially one as personal as whether or not to wear a face-covering – to assess the risk, and to act accordingly.

It is deeply troubling that neither Ms. Yuan nor the New York Times appear to recognize the danger in allowing “experts” to dictate our every move (never mind the faulty premise underlying this, as the science supporting mask usage as a means of curbing coronavirus spread is at best incredibly shoddy). More disturbing, evidently the rights of the individual are no longer sacrosanct; rather, they may be subverted for the betterment of society.   People should not be forced to choose between leading a normal life (i.e. socializing, attending school, earning a living, going to restaurants, and experiencing the arts) and possessing fundamental civil liberties.  Both are absolute, immutable features of a liberal democracy.

Conveniently, the article fails to mention that China’s willingness to sacrifice the individual in furtherance of the communal good has led to the creation of concentration camps for Uighur Muslims, that include, among other horrors, torture and forced sterilization. Amnesty International’s China 2019 page opens by observing that: “[t]he human rights situation continued to be marked by a systematic crackdown on dissent.  The justice system remained plagued by unfair trials and torture and other ill-treatment in detention. China still classified information on its extensive use of the death penalty as a state secret.”

Likewise, Human Rights Watch’s [HRW] webpage states that:

 China’s government sees human rights as an existential threat. Its reaction could pose an existential threat to the rights of people worldwide. At home, the Chinese Communist Party [CCP], worried that permitted political freedom would jeopardize its grasp on power, has constructed an Orwellian high-tech surveillance state and a sophisticated internet censorship system to monitor and suppress public criticism. Abroad, it uses its growing economic clout to silence critics and to carry out the most intense attack on the global system for enforcing human rights since that system began to emerge in the mid-20th century.

If China eradicated the virus — and there is widespread agreement that the CCP’s coronavirus data cannot be trusted — it did so using the same tactics that are violative of human rights discussed above by HRW and Amnesty International (incidentally, the Times itself recognized that a mere ten months ago). That the Times and Ms. Yuan apparently consider it appropriate to gloss over that reality is nothing short of astounding.

On the other hand, Ms. Yuan’s article is simply a more express admission than many of the paper’s more subtle suggestions that liberal values are overrated and ought to be abandoned in favor of virus suppression policies that do not bother with such annoyances as human rights. A recent Op-ed argues that doctors who question the efficacy of masks and social distancing should have their licenses revoked. Another heavily insinuates that speech deemed a danger to the Republic should be illegal. Ms. Yuan’s article also bears striking resemblance to various recent, albeit slightly more nuanced, pieces in, for instance, the Economist and the New Yorker, implying that perhaps we should look to China and adopt its virus management strategy.

Many in the scientific and medical community have similarly expressed admiration for China’s approach. At a September press conference, Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, offered his “congratulations” to the Chinese for bringing the virus under control. Gregory Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, observed that China’s success could be attributed, in part, to a compliant population and a government that “can put bigger constraints on individual freedoms than would be considered acceptable in most Western countries.”

Apparently, some members of the New York legislature agree that the CCP’s model should be emulated. Lawmakers in the state are contemplating a bill that would permit the State to forcibly detain individuals who might be carrying an infectious disease. It is not difficult to imagine a near-future in which people like me, who refuse to abide by inhumane, nonsensical, and never-ending dictates, end up behind bars as potential pathogen carriers.

Likewise, in a fashion that would make leaders of the CCP proud, critics of lockdown and mask policies are silenced by the media and educational institutions. For example, a tenured professor at New York University is currently under investigation after a student reported him and petitioned for him to be fired because he suggested — in a course on media propaganda, no less! — that students read studies finding that masks do not provide protection from the coronavirus, in addition to those reaching the opposite conclusion.

Not only have the scientists who wrote the Great Barrington Declaration, which rejects the lockdown approach to coronavirus management, been personally and professionally persecuted, but they have faced significant efforts to silence them, leading one writer to observe that “their critics want them removed from the public sphere. This has all the characteristics of a modern high-tech witch-hunt.” Keep in mind that these are three of the world’s preeminent epidemiologists, from Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford Universities. There are countless stories of scientists and others who have been censored on social media platforms for departing from the prevailing wisdom on the seriousness of the coronavirus or appropriate and effective methods for managing it.

A free, liberal society fosters open discussion and debate. It does not silence and punish those who offer opinions that depart from the consensus, however inconvenient those ideas may be to the people in control. It does not use state power to lock people in their homes for the crime of existing in a world along with pathogens. Nor does it prevent them from seeing family and friends, educating their children, and earning a living. It certainly does not contemplate imprisoning people in detention camps because they could carry a pathogen.

Maybe I was naïve to be so startled by Topsy-Turvy Pandemic World, and its thesis that we should remake our conception of freedom in the image of China’s. In retrospect, it was the natural next step in the creeping authoritarianism that I witnessed for about a decade and has crescendoed in the last year. It is as close to an express concession as I have seen thus far that the liberal-left has entirely abandoned the tenets of liberalism.

Even Neil Ferguson, whose wildly inaccurate Imperial model spurred lockdowns in the West, was surprised that the public acquiesced to China-style virus suppression measures. In a recent interview, he observed that “people’s sense of what is possible…changed quite dramatically between January and March.” At first, scientists in the U.K. presumed that “locking entire communities down and not permitting them to leave their homes…would not be an available option in a liberal Western democracy…and then Italy did it. And we realized we could.”

That the liberal-left appears untroubled by the grotesque violations of civil rights and liberties we have witnessed over the past ten months tells us all we need to know. Human rights are negotiable under this new ideology. I am not certain what this political theory should be called – perhaps left-wing authoritarianism – but it bears no resemblance to liberalism whatsoever. To the extent we have not gone quite as far as China in violating human rights in the quest to suppress the virus, the consensus on the liberal-left is plain: we have not gone far enough.

One of the particular features of tyrannical regimes is that most people remain unaware of their true nature until they have solidified their grip on power. It is far easier to acquire and maintain control over a population that at least initially believes the governing force is benevolent.

Pick up a history book if you believe that in the near future the pandemic will be declared over and normal life will resume. Even well-intentioned individuals have difficulty surrendering power once they have had a taste. Nothing about the actions of leaders such as Governors Cuomo, Whitmer and Newsom, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ought to lead people to believe that life will ever be the same unless we refuse to accept this erosion of our civil rights and liberties.

Each day, I hope that my friends on the liberal-left will wake up and see what is happening before their eyes, before it is too late.

*****

This article first appeared January 9, 2021 and is reproduced with permission by AIER,  American Institute for Economic Research

Piling on Trump

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Piling on Trump is likely to become a cottage industry. It is an easy bet that the media will do everything it can to destroy Trump the man and the movement.

The Republican loss of Georgia and the Presidential election certainly adds to the credibility of these attacks. The Republican Party is split, which will make the Democratic victories all the more likely to be implemented. Success has many fathers – defeat is an orphan.

We cannot let pass our own view that Trump has behaved badly, read public opinion incorrectly and should have known that a mass gathering on the very day of the Electoral College meeting had the potential to get out of hand. That Antifa would exploit such an event by penetrating into the crowd should have been expected. As far as the press is concerned, anyone with a red hat is a Trump supporter even though red hats can be worn by anybody.

Given the treatment of events in Charlottesville by the media, it would have been far better if there had not been a march. But the march was more of a “happening”, without much leadership or much direction. After the Presidential address, things went off the rails.

People went because they wanted election fraud noticed. This worthwhile effort was obscured by irresponsible Trump supporters and agent provocateurs from the opposition. The sorry results are that it distracted from Republican efforts to call attention to election fraud and has severely diminished the accomplishments of Trump. The movement to “stop the steal” has failed and has caused his many accomplishments to be completely obliterated by the turmoil.

Expect the political party that encouraged riots all summer, that has divided the country along racial and sexual lines and that moved to defund the police while multiple cities burned will lecture us endlessly about what Trump supporters did in Washington.

Through much of President Trump’s term, his mouth was both his most effective tool and his worst enemy. While his personality made him a survivor from unrelenting and withering attack, it also presented him as arrogant, self-centered and tone deaf to advice he did not want to hear. Maybe he needed those traits to survive but these traits proved to have a downside as well.

It is being said that Trump made a mistake in challenging the election fraud. He should have been a “statesman” like Richard Nixon.

Really, was Nixon a statesman? If in 1960 Nixon was really the choice of the American people and Nixon decided on his own to not challenge the results, then Nixon actually chose our President and Vice President? How democratic is that? And did such magnanimous behavior discourage the Democrats from further cheating? Did the press love him by that gesture? If in your profession, regardless of what it may be, you saw fraud committed, is it not your duty legally and morally to say something? When did hiding the truth become the mark of a “statesman?”

No doubt Trump had every right to challenge the election results.

Administratively, he has made some bad choices. There was too much turnover in his Administration. Mad Dog Mattis may indeed be mad but Trump chose him, did he not? Many of his disgruntled appointees are now busily adding lumber to his funeral pyre.

Where we differ with many of the Trump critics is, they are forgetting that his very rise came out of frustration with the Republican Party. The GOP is for many of us the best hope to maintain freedom in this country but frankly, the party has not been reliable or effective on many occasions.

You might recall he bested more than a dozen competitors within the party. You can bet there are many wounded egos willing to attack him now that he is down.

Trump then went on to beat the mighty Clinton machine. How the heck did he pull that off?

He did this by bringing in many rural and working-class voters that Republicans could not seem to reach before. He touched into the frustration Republican voters have with the Republican Establishment. He reached people who feel abandoned and ridiculed. No wonder he built such a passionate following. He was a blue-collar billionaire.

Perhaps his greatest achievement has been to wake up the country to the threat of China. Even the anti-Trump National Review agrees that the long-held Republican (and Democrat) belief that trade with China and its integration into the global community would change the Chinese Communist Party was a mistake. See the multiple articles on China in The Prickly Pear TOPICS link above.

He did something about mass illegal immigration, choking regulations and stifling taxes. He moved the ball towards peace in the Middle East more than any recent President.

He helped make America energy independent.

Probably most important, his administration demonstrated the existence of what some call “the deep state.” Some call it the Administrative state. What it amounts to is a permanent bureaucracy, unaccountable to elected officials and the voters. It is a professional ruling class, much like the aides to the king.

No Republican has moved on these important issues as decisively as Trump.

Trump is not at fault for Republican inabilities to get the job done. Remember when George Bush was elected and had both House and Senate? Not much got done, did it? Remember the frustration? Remember getting into the Iraq War with bad intelligence? Do we have a plan to get out of Afghanistan after 20 years?

Do we know yet today fully the role Saudi Arabia played in the attack on the World Trade Center, which got us into these wars?

His greatest failure in our view, is not his personality issues. It was his failure to reign in debts and deficits. This will likely plague this nation for years to come. However, we have run chronic deficits basically since the mid-1960s. So, he joins many others in failure.

Yes, it would appear that Trump’s personality quirks may have lost us the Presidency. But remember watching Romney and McCain go down in flames? Can you remember watching those two candidates debate? It was like watching a prize fight, all the time screaming at the TV and wondering why our guy refused to throw any effective punches? It was aggravating and baffling. In short, we did not lose those races because of Trump. Trump’s very rise was because we lost those races.

In other words, Trump has his faults to be sure, but what was it about the other two guys that made them failures? At least Trump had one solid victory under his belt and likely will have a lasting impact on the nature of the party.

In this post-election period, there will be a period of reflection and introspection. That is only natural and healthy. We need to talk about why we lost.

But it would be misguided to blame all of this on Trump. He did some remarkable political things. Trumpism without the personality quirks may be more successful than Trumpism with the personality quirks.

He is not responsible for our losses. We were perfectly capable of that before he came on the scene.

Too much concentration on Trump and his persona will distract us from deeper questions to ask.

But the attacks on Trump will accelerate. Unfortunately, he just handed them a big stick with which they will pummel him. Remember in the end, it is not so much about destroying Trump. It is about destroying you and your will to oppose the Left.

Keep your chin up. We have just begun to fight.

It Snowed Last Night

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

At 8 o’clock this morning, I made a snowman. Then at…..

8:10 – A feminist passed by and asked me why I didn’t make a snow woman.

8:15 – So, I made a snow woman.

8:17 – My feminist neighbor complained about the snow woman’s voluptuous chest saying it objectified snow women everywhere.

8:20 – The gay couple living nearby threw a hissy fit and moaned it could have been two snow men instead.

8:22 – The transgender man, women…person asked why I didn’t just make one snow person with detachable parts.

8:25 – The vegans at the end of the lane complained about the carrot nose, as veggies are food and not to decorate snow figures with.

8:28 – I was being called a racist because the snow couple is white.

8:31 – The Middle Eastern gent across the road demanded the snow woman be covered up.

8:40 – The Police arrived saying someone had been offended.

8:42 – The feminist neighbor complained again that the broomstick of the snow woman needed to be removed because it depicted women in a domestic role.

8:43 – The City Council Equality Officer arrived and threatened me with eviction.

8:45 – A TV news crew from ABC showed up. I was asked if I know the difference between snowmen and snow-women? I replied “Snowballs” and am now called a sexist.

8:47 – Fauci showed up and complained because they were too close together and did not have masks on.

9:00 – I was on the News as a suspected terrorist, racist, homophobe sensibility offender, bent on stirring up trouble during difficult weather.

9:10 – I was asked if I have any accomplices. My children were taken by social services.

9:29 – Far left protesters offended by everything marched down the street demanding for me to be arrested.

9:30 – Antifa and BLM showed up with blowtorches and melted everything down.

Moral

There is no moral to this story. It is exactly what we have become….. all caused by Snowflakes.

A Woke Student is a Safe Student

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard: “We can’t keep heaping society’s issues on schools. It can’t all be the school’s job….”

In November 2020 the Arizona Department of Education released its report School Safety Task Force Final Report. Shortly afterwards, Prescott’s The Daily Courier carried an editorial on the report’s release entitled Schools Were Never Meant to Raise Our Kids.

My interest piqued, I read the report.

It turns out the report is not some pragmatic, measurable, implementable School Safety Task Force report/plan. Instead, it is a “woke” suggestion to create a plan, a grab-bag of vague ideas for mental health and cultural indoctrination. It equates to a recommendation for social engineering within Arizona’s schools. In this plan safety is another word for “woke”. “A Woke Child is a Safe Child” could be the subtitle of the report.

The ultimate and UNSTATED vision of the document is a Social Justice utopia causing safe schools to blossom in Arizona. On its journey to this hidden vision, the report manages to miss all of its stated goals.

The missed goals include:
1. Identify a unifying, research-based approach to school safety.
2. Create a model school safety plan for use by schools and districts.
3. Develop a clearinghouse of resources.
4. Research the value and impact of a tip line and additional evidence-based, best practices for the state.
5. Create an outline of recommended legislative changes.

Following the logic of this “plan”, parent teacher conferences would center on the quality of muffins at breakfast, education would focus on how to put condoms on bananas at puberty, details of the abortion schedule in high school, how to dress for class with a fluid gender, and the best mental health counseling and drugs to facilitate “transition therapy”, all making Arizona schools safer. What about learning and test scores? Reading? Writing? Math? Critical Thinking? And what about boys and girls showering in their respective locker rooms – that’s all so capitalist, so cis-gendered, so racist!

A vague statement of the intent of the project is found in the second line of the Executive Summary: “This report, therefore, may be different from what many expect. It is less focused on threat assessment, physical safety and crisis intervention. It is more focused on school climate, prevention, mental health and relationship building”. In other words, our children will not be able to read or write or add 2 plus 2 to get the correct answer (is there a correct answer in this proposed culture?) but will have pleasant relationships with others, a nice, gender fluid wardrobe, tasty condoms and live comfortably in a world without consequences for their behavior or expectations for higher performances.

Want a clue to the report’s content? The report is written by a gaggle of social justice warriors, including Maya Zukerburg, the political director (read this again, the POLITICAL DIRECTOR) of “March for our Lives AZ”, which is closely aligned with the Puente Youth Movement, a “youth empowerment hub that centers the development of young people through culture, politics and leadership and community organizing development for the purpose of long-term political change”. Their activities focus on “Cops outta campus”, “History of our people’s resistance (the history not usually taught in school)” and “workshop activities around social justice issues”.

In the authors’ world view school safety is achieved when all our children spout woke platitudes, see mental health counselors rather than reading or math tutors, all school police are removed from all campuses and they have broken the ‘school to prison pipeline’.

In reality, this report is a derivative of the “Defund the Police” movement, which itself appears to have evolved from the Restorative Justice programs in schools over the past decade. This writer became aware of the Restorative Justice movement as a member of the NAACP several years ago when the movement began in California. Beginning in predominately black school districts such as Oakland, this orthodoxy spread across California like wildfire and saw the then Governor of California, Jerry Brown sign legislation banning “willful belligerence” as a reason to remove a student from a classroom or be suspended or expelled from school.

The result has been, not a rise in achievement or the closing of the “achievement gap” between students of color verses white and Asian students, but a decline in classroom behavior, a rise in school violence affecting all students and teachers and the acceleration of a teacher shortage throughout the California as teachers throw in the towel when they feel threatened and unable to teach.

The Arizona School Safety Task Force report is right about one thing: it is time to re-evaluate what our schools are responsible for achieving. Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard is quoted in the Courier article, saying, “We can’t keep heaping society’s issues on schools. There is a lot of finger pointing about school responsibility. It can’t all be the school’s job. We could use some support…. We could use some resources”.

Let’s not turn Arizona schools from places of learning into the underperforming societal quagmires of California. The L.A. Unified School District, for example, is renowned, not for its educational prowess, but for being the largest food service operation in the state, if not the country, serving 688,000 meals PER DAY. The district also provides preschool, day care, and after school services and is busy upgrading school nurses into full scale health clinics with doctors, dentists, nurses, and mental health care. Meanwhile, it is in the bottom of academic performance in the country.

One last thought. My wife taught elementary school in a Northern California district where one elementary school, whose children tested at 9% proficient (at grade level), attempted to fix the low performance by hiring a yoga/meditation instructor so everyone, teachers and students, could relax and not worry about the results.

Not in Arizona.

What Does China Want? Xi Jing’s “China Dream”

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

In his first speech after taking office as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012, Xi Jinping employed a phrase not used in public by previous Chinese leaders – qiang zhongguo meng, or “strong nation dream” (1). Since then, Xi and other Chinese leaders have repeatedly referred to the “dream” of “resurrecting” or “rejuvenating” China as a great power. Many observers have characterized the “China Dream” as Chinese leaders’ natural desire to recoup China’s position as the universally recognized “Great State” in Asia following the “century of humiliation” that began with the Sino-British Opium Wars (1839-1860) and culminated with the Japanese invasion and occupation of China (1937-1945), a period during which China was subjugated and carved up by foreign powers. In this view, the goal of the “China Dream” is to make China so wealthy and powerful that it will never again be subject to such treatment (2). Proponents of this view of the “China Dream” tend to argue that a “rejuvenated” China will take its rightful place as a responsible great power in the current rule-based international system.

Other analysts have taken a less benign view of the “China Dream” and what it means for the rest of the world. In China’s Vision of Victory, Jonathan T. Ward characterized the “China Dream” as the vision lying at the core of a global grand strategy intended to assert China’s central position in the world (3). Michael Pillsbury, in The Hundred Year Marathon, argued that the “China Dream” in fact represents China’s intent to create a new China-centric world order, an ambition he traced back to Mao Zedong.

Ideology is Still Central

Much of the discourse on the “China Dream” has been based on the unfounded assumption (or wishful thinking) that China’s economic growth would somehow result in both economic liberalization and democratization. This assumption fundamentally disregards the nature of the Chinese state. The People’s Republic of China is an enduring communist party-state in which the “Chinese nation” and its interests are synonymous with those of the CCP (4). Under Xi, the “core navigator and helmsman” who is likely to remain in power for at least the next 10 years (5), China’s communist identity has been reinforced and the CCP remains resolutely Marxist, Stalinist, Leninist, and Maoist. According to Alice Ekman, Senior Analyst of Asian Issues at the European Union Institute for Security Studies, all political and social activities in China are controlled by the CCP according to a rigid Leninist and Stalinist model which, if anything, has been reinforced by Xi both in theory and in practice. At the same time, the role of the CCP in the Chinese economy has increased substantially. Marxism, Ekman concludes, is at the core of Xi’s China (6).

In Xi’s view “coexistence” between capitalist and Communist societies is…unavoidable, for a while, perhaps for decades. But Western democratic and capitalist countries are fundamental enemies of Communism, hence of China. While the economical confrontation may go through different stages, the ideological confrontation is perpetual and can only end with the victory of one side, i.e., of Communism, since Marx’s predictions are regarded by Xi Jinping as infallible (7).

Ekman’s analysis is important because it lays aside the “China is no longer communist” rhetoric for a much more realist – and more historically accurate – view of a centralized party-state whose rulers remain ideologically and practically committed to the global victory of communism. This would mark not only the final victory of Marxism, of which Xi is apparently convinced, but also the ascension of a China with a “strong desire for redress, if not vengeance, for past national humiliations” (8) to a position of global dominance.

The “China Dream” as Grand Strategy

In its widest sense, strategy refers to the coordinated use of instruments of national power – diplomatic, military, economic, and informational – to achieve national objectives. A nation’s grand strategy reflects the vision a nation has for itself and seeks to systematically leverage available instruments of national power to shape the international environment in ways that reflect the values of the state and serve its national interests (9). In matters of international relations, a state’s true intentions may be unknown or subject to change, while its capabilities and behaviors are generally visible. Granted that the PRC has not published a detailed description of what realization of the “China Dream” actually entails, China’s capabilities, actions, and their likely impacts are readily discernible.

The 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States characterized China as a “revisionist power” engaged in long-term strategic competition with the United States. “It is increasingly clear that China [wants] to shape a world consistent with [its] authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.” While China’s near-term goal is to seek regional hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region, its long-term goal is to seek “displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.” China, the Strategy noted, pursues a long-term, all-of-nation strategy to assert power through a combination of military modernization initiatives, predatory and coercive economic measures, and influence operations (10).

In 2019, the U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission found that Beijing [has] stepped up its efforts to promote itself as a global political and economic leader, offering the clearest evidence yet of its ambition to reshape the international order so it benefits Chinese interests and makes the world safe for the [Chinse Communist Party]….[As part of this effort] China [has] continued its efforts to coerce or interfere in the domestic affairs of countries acting in ways contrary to its interests, detaining foreign media, and the Chinese diaspora (11).

Finally, in 2020, a group of researchers at the U.S. Army War College found that China “does not seek to participate as an equal in the existing [international] order. Instead, it seeks to lead a China-centric order where China’s interests come first, and other countries are left to fight for what little is left” (12). That’s what China wants – that’s what the “China Dream” really means.

_____________________

NOTES

(1) Michael Pillsbury, The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower (New York, NY: Henry Holt, 2015), 27.
(2) Timothy Brook, Great State: China and the World (London, UK: Profile Books, 2019); Brendan Taylor and Richard Rigby, “Meridians of Influence in a Nervous World,” in China Story Yearbook 2019: China Dreams, ed. Jane Golley, Linda Jaivan, Ben Hollman, and Shawn Strange (Acton, Australia: Australian National University Press, 2020), 95; Yearbook 2019: China Dreams – The China Story, accessed December 30, 2020.
(3) Jonathan T. Ward, China’s Vision of Victory (Atlas Publishing and Media Company, 2019).
(4) Gloria Davies, “A Dream of Perpetual Rule,” in China Story Yearbook 2019, 31.
(5) This title was conferred on Xi at the Fifth Plenary Session of the CCP in October 2020. Willy Wo-Lap Lam, “Helmsman Xi Jinping Primed to Rule at Least Until the Early 2030s,” Jamestown Foundation China Brief 20, Issue 20 (November 13, 2020), 8; Read-the-11-13-2020-CB-Issue.pdf (jamestown.org), accessed December 30, 2020.
(6) Massimo Introvigne, “China is Communist. Marxist, Leninist, Stalinist, and Maoist,” Bitter Winter: A Magazine on Religious Liberty and Human Rights, April 24, 2020; “China is Communist. Marxist, Leninist, Stalinist, and Maoist” (bitterwinter.org), accessed December 30, 2020.
(7) Ibid.
(8) Gerry Groot, “Making the World Safe (For China),” in China Story Yearbook 2016: Control, ed. Jane Golley, Linda Jaivin, and Luigi Tomba (Acton, Australia: Australian National University Press, 2017), 281; Yearbook 2016: Control – The China Story, accessed December 30, 2020.
(9) Joint Chiefs of Staff, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States, Joint Publication 1, Washington, DC: 25 March 2013, Incorporating Change 1, 12 July 2017, I-1; I-7;  accessed December 30 2020; Nadège Rolland, “The Belt and Road Initiative: China’s Grand Strategy,” in Angela Stanzel, Nadège Rolland, Jabin Jacob, and Melanie Hart, Grand Designs: Does China Have a ‘Grand Strategy’? (Berlin, GE: European Council on Foreign Relations, 2017), 5 accessed December 30, 2020.
(10) Office of the Secretary of Defense, Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge (Washington, DC: 2018), 2
(11) U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, 2019 Report to Congress: Executive Summary and Recommendations (Washington, DC: November 2019), 7;  accessed December 30, 2020.
(12) Lieutenant Colonel John Schaus, Brian Evans, and Colonel Elizabeth Martin, A Changing Indo-Pacific Region: Growing Complexity for the Six Anchor Nations, Indo-Pacific Theater Design Working Paper 2 (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, September 2020), 3-4; A Changing Indo-Pacific Region: The Anchor Partners (armywarcollege.edu), accessed December 30, 2020.

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The author is a retired U.S. Army officer and a retired civilian employee of the U.S. Department of Defense. He holds an MS in Strategic Intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College (now National Intelligence University), and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. His published work has appeared in The Journal of Strategic Studies, Israel Affairs, Parameters, The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, and the International Bulletin of Political Psychology.