A cognitively challenged Biden is pulled in every direction, by left-wing politicos collecting their debts, by his own spite, by his trademark narcissism, and by his hatred of all things Trump.
Almost everything Joe Biden has touched since entering office has turned to dross. None of his blame-gaming, none of his distortions, none of his fantasies and unreality can mask that truth.
Seven months ago, Afghanistan was relatively quiet—with about 10,000 vestigial NATO troops, including 2,500 Americans, anchored by the Bagram Airfield. They were able to provide air superiority for the coalition and Afghan national army. With air power, NATO forces, if and when they so wished, could have very slowly and gradually withdrawn all its remnant troops—but only after a prior departure of all American and European civilians, coalition contractors, and allied Afghans.
The transient calm abruptly imploded as soon as Joe Biden recklessly yanked all U.S. troops out in a matter of days. Many left in the dead of night, leaving no one to protect contractors, dependents, diplomats, and Afghan allies. In Biden’s world, civilians protect the last Western enclave while soldiers flee.
Three weeks ago, Joe Biden and a woke and politicized Pentagon were assuring us that Afghanistan was “stable.” Now the country is reverting to its accustomed premodern, theocratic, and medieval chaos. It will likely soon reopen as the world’s pre-9/11-style terrorist haven—an arms mart of over $50 billion in abandoned U.S. military equipment. Thanks to the president of the United States, terrorists and nation-state enemies can now shop for arms and train there without hindrance.
The NATO coalition-builder Biden also dry-gulched his European allies, whose soldiers outnumbered our own. The humanitarian “good ole Joe from Scranton” deprecated the thousands of Afghan military dead who had helped the Americans. The families of the American fallen and wounded of two decades were all but told by Biden that the catastrophe in Kabul was inevitable—no other way out but chaos and dishonor. Why did he not tell us that earlier, when he was vice president, so many dead and wounded ago?
“Get over it,” was Biden’s messaging subtext. If Americans want to hear the blame game, he told us to scapegoat Barack Obama, or all prior presidents, or especially Donald Trump, or the intelligence services and military, or the Afghan army, or we naïfs who somehow think things are a mess right now in Kabul—or anything and everyone but Joe Biden.
Was Biden’s idea simply to get the United States “officially” out of Afghanistan and let the abandoned 10,000-plus Americans manage as they can?
Was Biden angry over our 20-year presence and thinking the Afghans would deserve what followed? Was he so delusional that he really believed the NATO forces could easily deter the Taliban with sanctimonious lectures from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman? The latter is a former head of EMILY’s List and an architect of the Iran Deal, so were she and others especially scarifying to naughty theocrats when they warned they might lose their slot in the “rules-based world order”? Or did Biden believe the Taliban would be deterred by Sherman’s exclamations, such as her ominous warning, “This is personal for me!”
In January, Biden inherited a rebounding economy that was fueled by $1 trillion in stimulatory federal red ink. Given natural pent-up consumer demand, why did Biden need to print yet another $1 trillion, seek to green-light another $2 trillion for “infrastructure,” and raise even higher unemployment compensation to the point of discouraging employees from returning to work?
At the same time, he has alarmed employers with braggadocio threats that higher capital gains, income, payroll, and estate taxes are all on the way. More lockdowns only further eroded small businesses. The result was price inflation of all the stuff of life—homes, lumber, gas, food, appliances—as well as historic shortages of everything from cars and houses to the work of contractors and electricians. Any increase in wages due to labor shortages was soon erased by spirals in the consumer price index.
So, what was Biden thinking or, rather, not thinking? By paying workers not to work he would be evening out the ancient score with employers? Did workers need a vacation from the quarantine? Printing money was a way to spread the wealth—and diminish what the rich possessed? Was a $2 trillion deficit and $30 trillion in aggregate debt a way of bragging to Trump that he doubled the Trump red ink in less than a year? Would he pile up more debt than both Barack Obama and George W. Bush in half the time?
Biden took a secure border, along with increasingly legal-only immigration, and then destroyed both. He stopped construction of the border wall, encouraged an expected 2 million illegal entries over the current fiscal year, promised amnesties, and resumed “catch and release.” He did all that at a time of a pandemic, exempting illegal aliens from all the requirements of COVID testing and mass vaccinations that he had hectored his own citizens about getting. With planned mass amnesties and millions more invited to cross illegally in the next three years, was Biden seeking to found a new American nation within the now passé old American nation?
Did he believe that Americans did not deserve their citizenship and newcomers from south of the border were somehow more worthy? Did he see the 2 million new residents as instant voters under new relaxed rules of balloting? Did he think in a labor-deprived economy they would supply nannies, gardeners, and cooks to bicoastal elites? We strain to imagine any explanation because there is no logic to any.
Biden did his best in just seven months to explode the idea of American self-sufficiency in natural gas and oil. He canceled the Keystone Pipeline, froze new federal energy leases, put the Anwar oil field off limits, and warned frackers their end days were near.
So, what drove Biden? Did he object that motorists were saving too many billions of dollars per year in decreased commuting costs? Or was the rub that we had slashed too many imports of oil from the volatile Middle East and no longer would launch preemptive wars? Or perhaps the transition to clean natural gas instead of coal as a fuel for power generation had too radically curtailed carbon emissions? Did Biden feel that Middle East producers, the Russians, or the Venezuelans could better protect the planet while extracting oil and gas than could American drillers?
Biden blew up race relations by greenlighting the new hunt for the mythical “whiteness” monster. Were a few buffoonish white rioters who stormed the Capitol the tip of the spear of a previously unknown massive white supremacy movement, the most dangerous, he swore, since the Civil War?
Biden took affirmative action and the Civil Rights-era “disparate impact” and “proportional representation” ideas and turned them into disproportionate representation and reparations on the cheap. Biden made it acceptable to damn “whiteness,” as if all 230 million white Americans are guilty of something or other in a way that the other 100 million “nonwhite” are not.
So why did Biden kick the sleeping dog of racial polarization? To stir up his left-wing base? To alleviate his own guilt over the Biden family’s long history of racist insults, from “clean” Barack Obama to “put y’all in chains” to the “Corn Pop” sagas to “you ain’t black” and “junkie” to Hunter’s n-word and Asian racism? Did Biden see countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia as positive models for diversity emulation?
After Biden entered office, violent crimes ignited from the embers of the 120 days of mostly unpunished looting, arson, and organized violence in the streets of America’s major cities during summer 2020. Under Biden, jails were emptied. Federal attorneys and emulative local DAs exempted offenders. Police were defamed and defunded. Punishing crime was considered a racist construct.
The result is that Americans now avoid the Dodge City downtowns of most of America’s crime-ridden blue cities. They accept that any urban pedestrian, any driver after hours, any commuter on a bus or subway can be assaulted, robbed, beaten, raped, or shot—without any assurance that the media will fairly report the crime, or that the criminal justice system will punish the perpetrators. In Biden’s America looters prance into drug stores and walk out with shopping bags of stuff, under the terrified gaze of security guards who guesstimate at least they did not steal more than $950 of loot.
Was Biden’s plan to let the people redistribute ill-gotten gains? Or was he convinced that disproportionate criminal activity was karmic payback, or penance for the death of George Floyd? Did he really believe that we were far too overpoliced? Did he believe that the general public should experience, at last, the crime of the inner-city to ensure equity and inclusion?
So why does Biden so willfully exercise this destructive touch that blows up anything he taps?
There are several possible theories:
1) Biden is non compos mentis. He has no idea of what he is doing. But to the degree he is alert, Biden listens—sort of—only to the last person with whom he talks. And then he takes a nap. When Afghanistan blows up or inflation roars or the border becomes an entry door, his eyes open, and he becomes bewildered and snarly—like an irritable and snappy Bruce Dern waking up in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Biden has no clue about the actual destructive implementation of his toxic policies, and no concern upon whom these destructive agendas fall. He vaguely assumes a lapdog left-wing media will repackage every Biden incoherence as Periclean, and every daily “lid” as Biden’s escape for presidential research, deep reading, and intensive deliberation. Biden appears to be about where Woodrow Wilson was in November 1919.
2) Or is Biden a rank opportunist and thinking he will ride woke leftism as the country’s new trajectory? He resents his prior subservience to Obama, and now feels he can trump past signature leftist administrations as the one true and only socialist evolutionary. He is not so much the manipulated as the manipulator.
Biden fantasizes himself as a hands-on dynamic leader who bites at reporters, snaps from the podium, and issues his customary interjections. He is therefore “in command” for four or five hours a day. He enjoys acting more radical than Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, or “the squad.”—and especially being far more leftwing than his old and now passé boss Barack Obama. Joe is in control and that explains the dross touch. For the first time in his life, such an incompetent has complete freedom—to be powerfully incompetent. Biden is then not demented as much as delusionally running things.
3) Biden is unfortunately what he always was: a rather mean-spirited plagiarist, liar, and nihilist, from his Clarence Thomas character assassination infamy and Tara Reade groping to his foul racist talk and his monumental habitual grifting. His disasters are the same old, same old Biden trademark, performance-art screw-ups.
Biden likes the idea of conservative outrage, of chaos, of barking at everyone all the time. Biden accepts that no omelets can be made without broken eggs, and sort of enjoys screwing up things, as Robert Gates and Barack Obama both warned. “Wokening” the Joint Chiefs of Staff, encouraging hundreds of thousands to pour across the border, and abandoning our NATO allies in Afghanistan—who cares when tough guy, brash-talking Joe on the move jumbles stuff up? The disasters in the economy, foreign policy, crime, energy, and racial relations? Biden is just shaking things up, stirring the pot, baiting people to watch Mr. “Come On, Man” in action, as he blusters and preens and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.
4) Biden is nothing much at all. He’s just a cardboard-cut out, a garden-variety Democratic Party hack, who is against anything conservatives are for. He assumes he will undo all that Trump did, on the theory it is simple and easy for him in his lazy, senior moments. And he is tired anyway of thinking much beyond such Pavlovian rejectionism. A closed border is bad; presto, open borders are good. Improving race relations is bad; deteriorating relations must be good. Energy independence bad; dependency good. Biden works on autopilot in his minimalist day job: just cancel anything that Trump did and worry nothing about the effects on the American people.
5) Biden is a hostage of both the Left and Hunter Biden. His task is to ram down a hard Left agenda, in the fashion of a torpedo that itself blows up when it hits the target. The Left ensured the base would not bolt in 2020. So, he owes them. Biden, more or less, signed his presidency over to the squad, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and the Obama holdovers. They hand him a script; he tries to read it; and they follow up with the details. He is the old “Star Trek’s” tottering John Gill.
The Left may hope their own nihilist agenda sort of works. When it inevitably does not, then Joe, the delivery man, is blamed: so much more quickly, then, will be Biden’s necessary exit. They kept their part of the bargain by getting the basement denizen elected. Now he keeps the deal by handing over the presidency. Biden’s utility had about a six-month shelf life.
Now ever so slowly the leaks, the West Wing backstabbing, the furrowed anchor brows, and the unnamed sources will gently ease him out with 25th Amendment worries (e.g., “Perhaps President Biden might find taking the Montreal Cognitive Assessment of some value after all, for his own benefit, of course.”) Kamala Harris is not so inert as we are led to believe.
Hunter Biden, smeared and ruined with scandals of every imaginable sordidness, now embarks on his masterpiece con: peddling his kindergarten art at a half-million dollars per painting to “anonymous” quid pro quo rich foreign grifters. Why does Hunter pose such brazenness and unnecessary danger to his father, the president? Because the former addict can, and just for the f—k of it?
Hunter’s malicious behavior is an implied threat that if Joe’s staff slaps Hunter’s hand, he threatens to spill the “beans” on the “Big Guy” and “Mr. 10 Percent”—given he plays the wounded fawn as the underappreciated bad boy. Hunter was the bad-seed family money man without whose grift none of them would ever have lived in such mordida-generated splendor.
A cognitively challenged Biden then is pulled in every direction, by his own senility, by left-wing politicos collecting their debts, by his own spite, by his trademark narcissism, and by his neanderthal hatred of everything Trump was and did.
The problem for America is that theories one through five are not always mutually exclusive, but more likely force multipliers of the present insanity. At some point, some brave congressional representative or Senator will finally have to say to Biden, in the spirit of Oliver Cromwell and Leo Amery:
“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
National security officials fear newly freed Afghan terrorists may exploit border crisis
The Taliban’s release of prisoners throughout Afghanistan poses a security threat on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to senior Department of Homeland Security officials and national security experts.
The Taliban freed thousands of prisoners, many of whom either worked directly with or had ties to al Qaeda and ISIS, when it captured Bagram Air Base on Aug. 15. Afghan soldiers surrendered the base with virtually no resistance, leaving U.S. intelligence officials with little ability to track suspected terrorists. The crisis at the southern border could prove an inviting target for terrorists, according to the DHS official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.
“We’ve always been surprised by the countries of origin we see individuals coming from along our southwest border. It’s more than likely some Afghans will arrive now as well,” the official told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s definitely a national security threat, and the strain of forces currently along the border would make it more likely that some would slip through illegally.”
The intelligence community warned the administration about terror threats at the southern border just weeks after President Joe Biden announced the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. National security officials warned the White House in a classified memo, first reported by the Free Beacon, that border patrol officers had arrested two Yemeni nationals on the terrorist watch list as they attempted to cross into the United States from Mexico. One of the two men was also on the FBI’s no-fly list. Their names have not been released to the public.
The Biden administration did not respond to a request for comment.
Senators from both parties pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley on whether the Pentagon would change its terror assessment of Afghanistan following the collapse of the U.S.-backed government. The two acknowledged their report to Congress in June—that Afghanistan contained only a “medium” risk of terror groups—was likely obsolete.
Individuals who had worked on assessing terror threats at the southern border told the Free Beacon that the surge of migrants has left border patrol officers ill-equipped to face the new terror challenge. Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief of staff Jon Feere said the record-setting influx of illegal border crossings will only exacerbate the threat.
“When it comes to cross-border illegal immigration that goes undetected, there is obviously no background check taking place,” Feere, who now works at the Center for Immigration Studies, said. “Customs and Border Protection apprehended foreign nationals from countries across the globe and that means there are likely many aliens from problematic countries getting past the border patrol already.”
Border patrol agents already complain about a lack of resources to adequately police the southern border. Biden administration officials have also come to acknowledge the strain. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas privately told border agents, “If our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable,” according to Leaked Audio of his remarks.
More migrants were recorded crossing into the country in July—212,000—than at any point in the last 21 years. Illegal crossings jumped 13 percent from June, which previously held the 21-year record.
he economic rebound that began as the pandemic-related lockdowns started to end in the states is producing strong results throughout the United States despite the considerable rise in inflation. While higher prices are wiping out the income gains workers made during the pre-COVID boom, the surging stock market helped the amount of money held in private retirement accounts reach some of the highest levels on record.
The number of 401(k) and IRA millionaires have hit all-time records, CNBC’s Jessica Dickler reported Thursday, suggesting good times may still be ahead even though the perception is growing that President Joe Biden and his economic team are mismanaging the economy. In the most recent IPSOS poll, 55 percent of those surveyed said they were “pessimistic” about the direction of the country, an increase of 20 points over late April when the question was last posed. Pessimism, the polling firm said, was rising across all age groups and income levels and was even down among Democrats.
The Biden economic plan includes higher taxes and increased spending despite the recurrence of notable inflation. If it passes, it would likely cause a contraction in an economy that has appeared to be growing again since people started going back to work after many of the nation’s governors – mostly from the so-called “Red States” – stopped the pandemic-induced unemployment emergency bonus payments that more than one prominent economist identified as a significant disincentive for people to get back on the job.
For retirees and investors, meanwhile, the surging stock market and the steady increase in retirement account balances is welcome news considering how badly these holdings fared during the government-imposed lockdowns, losing considerable value in many cases. According to data provided by Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest manager of 401(k) savings plans, their overall average balance was up 24 percent from a year ago and hit $129,300 at June’s end. Individual retirement account balances were also higher, CNBC said, reaching $134,900, on average in the second quarter, up 21 percent from where they were a year ago.
American workers across the economy are participating in the wealth creation, not just the so-called “ultra-rich.” According to Fidelity, nearly 12 percent of workers increased the contributions they made to their plans over the period while a record 37 percent of employers also automatically enrolled new workers in their 401(k) plans.
This growth in the number of workers joining the investor class is a political problem for Biden and the progressive Democrats who control Congress. The tax, borrow, and spend plan they are trying to pass over an apparently unified Republican opposition includes, for the first time in decades, serious proposals to increase the tax on capital and returns on investment.
This step back towards the economic policies of the 1970s that produced high unemployment and high inflation – something the economic theories dominant in government and academia at the time said was an impossibility – would be a job killer. Yet, even above that, some Democrats are talking up the institution of a “wealth tax” assessed annually on total holdings rather than income as a “pay for” for policies progressives say they wish to enact like tuition-free community college, free pre-K childcare, and the transition of the U.S. to an economy based entirely on renewable energy. With Fidelity reporting the number of its plans “with a balance of $1 million or more” jumping to a record 412,000 in the second quarter of 2021 and the number of IRA millionaires also at an all-time high, the savings amassed in these accounts may prove an irresistible target for the wealth taxers if their proposals begin to gain momentum in Congress.
The Afghan debacle just marks a new, more murderous phase
“I’m now the fourth American president to preside over war in Afghanistan—two Democrats and two Republicans,” President Biden said during his speech on August 16. “I will not pass this responsibly on— responsibility on to a fifth president.” He needn’t have corrected himself. He did indeed irresponsibly bequeath to his successor a terrible situation in central Asia.
The best-case scenario, according to Biden, would look like this: Afghanistan’s reversion to Islamofascism fades from the international headlines. The Taliban understands that its continued rule depends on its ability to prevent terrorists from launching attacks from its territory. America goes back to fighting over masks and vaccinations and “building back better,” or whatever.
But the best-case scenario is an illusion. Why? Because the war isn’t over. Afghanistan is just one front in a global conflict that the United States did not initiate and cannot wish away. The Cold War did not end when the South Vietnamese government collapsed. Nor will the war on terror or the “Long War” or the “Forever War” cease with Taliban control of Afghanistan. When participants in the worldwide Salafist-jihadist movement look at the developments of the last week, they don’t see reasons to quit their mayhem. They see the chaos, panic, violence, disorder, and American retreat as a vindication of their ideology and a spur to further action.
It’s happened before. North Vietnam’s victory over the South did not make communism less expansionist or revolutionary. On the contrary: Laos fell to the Communists, Cambodia was subjected to the barbarism of the Khmer Rouge, Cuba sent advisers to the pro-Communist People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, the Sandinistas overthrew the anti-Communist Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and a pro-Communist insurgency took root in El Salvador. The relentless humiliations that followed America’s defeat in Vietnam ended Jimmy Carter’s presidency. They did not stop until Ronald Reagan shifted the nation’s course.
Or try a more recent example. When America removed its troops from Iraq at the end of 2011 and failed to enforce its red line against the use of chemical weapons in Syria in 2013, the Middle East did not become less violent or pathological or dangerous. It was only a matter of time before ISIS overran the Iraqi cities of Falluja, Ramadi, and Mosul. On June 29, 2014, the terrorist army’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the formation of a caliphate. Then ISIS moved toward Baghdad and enslaved and massacred Iraq’s Yazidi population along the way.
So terrible was ISIS that in August 2014 President Obama intervened against it with airstrikes—an intervention that continued, with greater success, under Obama’s successor. As I write, the caliphate is no more, Baghdadi is dead, and Iraq has another shot at a better future. There are 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq and some 900 in Syria. This is not a coincidence.
How long, then, before U.S. forces return to Afghanistan? I recognize that it might feel a little silly to ask such a question at this moment. Biden already has deployed more troops to Afghanistan to evacuate civilians than were there when he gave the order to leave. Let’s say, though, that the withdrawal is completed without incident—a questionable assumption—and that there are no Americans in Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. What happens next?
The first thing to note is that the Taliban faces rebellion. Demonstrations against the return of the Islamic militia have been met with violence. They may increase in number. Meanwhile, the son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary anti-Taliban mujahid who was murdered two days before 9/11, has announced the renewal of his family’s resistance campaign. Just as the Taliban never surrendered after the U.S. intervention, neither will the former partisans of the Northern Alliance acquiesce to the collapse of Kabul. Afghanistan is too geographically and ethnically diverse to submit easily to the domination of one party.
Even a low-grade civil conflict will draw in other powers. The list of interested parties begins with nuclear-armed Pakistan and includes Iran, Russia, China, and India. America will be forced to pay attention and likely will become involved. After all, the fate of Afghanistan is part of the “great power competition” that President Biden said he cares about.
Biden also said he’s “adamant that we focus on the threats we face today in 2021—not yesterday’s threats.” And the “terrorist threat,” he went on, “has metastasized well beyond Afghanistan.” He didn’t acknowledge that one of the reasons the threat spread out of Afghanistan was that for 20 years America denied it a base there. Now that the Taliban is in, and the Americans are out, the elements of al Qaeda and ISIS in Afghanistan today will be joined by more holy warriors.https://ddc8dde6090d8332df22f7d8a904db36.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Not to worry, though, said Biden. “We conduct effective counterterrorism missions against terrorist groups in multiple countries where we don’t have a permanent military presence.” And we can do the same thing in Afghanistan, he continued, because “we’ve developed counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region and to act quickly and decisively if needed.”
Let’s hope he’s right. The problem with his argument is that America does have a “military presence” in north and east Africa, Syria, and Iraq, as well as in Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, and elsewhere. And America does have a naval presence in the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean. Our eyes are “firmly fixed” on bad spots in the Middle East and North Africa because we are nearby. The horizon over which our counterterrorism forces must travel is short. That won’t be the case in Afghanistan.
Biden created a situation in which America has neither boots nor eyes on the ground in a landlocked, mountainous country thousands of miles from port and surrounded by unfriendly states. Unlike 20 years ago, China and Russia are strong and adversarial and looking for opportunities to embarrass the United States. Every threat or attack that emanates from Afghanistan will testify to U.S. stupidity and weakness. Furthermore, the Taliban, even as it is dogged by internal opposition, will command more territory and field stronger forces than any of the Salafist-jihadist outfits scraping by in the ungoverned and contested spaces of the Maghreb, the Sahel, the Levant, and the Arabian Peninsula. Our intelligence capabilities will be hobbled and our response time lengthened.
This dispiriting assessment doesn’t include the propaganda boon to the Salafist-jihadist cause. Kabul will be transformed from an island of modernity to the global capital of anti-Western jihad. International terrorism flourished alongside the Islamic State. It manifested in spectacular, mass-casualty attacks in Paris, Marseilles, San Bernardino, Orlando, and Manchester. “For a long time now Islamist movements have defined the creation of an ‘Islamic state’ as their goal and standard for achievement,” writes former State Department official Charles H. Fairbanks. “A state provides a better terrorist sanctuary, and has far more versatile capabilities, than a movement.” A state gives a movement safe harbor, institutional support, and physical inspiration for “lone wolves” in the West to murder unbelievers. Such a state is what the Taliban will build in America’s place.
“I made a commitment to the American people when I ran for president that I would bring America’s military involvement in Afghanistan to an end,” Biden said. “And while it’s been hard and messy—and yes, far from perfect—I’ve honored that commitment.” Yes, he has. The Taliban’s military involvement in Afghanistan, however, continues in our absence. And so the Afghan people are left to suffer, the world watches agog, and America is vulnerable to resurgent Islamic extremism. The Forever War isn’t over—it’s entered a new phase. Where the enemy has the upper hand.
From the beginning of the United States of America’s war in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, triggered by the September 11 attacks, American, and later NATO involvement went through four phases. The first phase was brief and only lasted for two months. As a result, the Taliban was defeated and al-Qaeda was decimated. The second phase, from early 2002 until 2008, was marked by the Bush Administration’s attempt to build a unified nation of the many ethnic groups, religious sects, tribes and clans of forty million Afghans. The third phase, under President Obama and his alleged foreign policy guru Vice President Joe Biden was basically designed to ignore the Taliban as a political/military force and to lead the transformation of Afghanistan from behind. The fourth phase, under President Trump, was about ending the war more or less honorably. The second, third and fourth phases were political and military failures.
The reasons for these tragic miscalculations were manifold. Most glaringly, Afghanistan has never been a state and a nation according to the West’s understanding. More brutality put it, Afghanistan as a state and as a nation has never existed. Moreover, with the exception of the first phase, the United States of America and NATO have never displayed the resolve to win decisively by completely eradicating the Taliban and to do the hard lifting of establishing the foundation for a central government. Finally, neither Washington, D.C. nor Brussels has laid down unequivocally the rules by which the successive Afghan governments should have ruled through competence, honesty and transparency.
Clearly, neither the Karzai nor the Ghani government has ever succeeded to extend their authority to the entire country and their armed forces were equally unsuccessful to effectively fight the Taliban by themselves. In the United States of America, the over politicization of the Afghan war, coupled with political, military and intelligence incompetence, made it impossible to forge a coherent and lasting strategy for Afghanistan. As nearly six decades ago in Vietnam, the United States of America has again faced national humiliation both at home and abroad. And as then, when the United States of America’s real crisis was not in Vietnam, today’s Afghanistan is the most recent and emotionally the most painful symptom of this great country’s catastrophic malaise at home.
Prior to analyzing the current situation from the American perspective, allow me a quick journey back to my past experiences. In my country of birth in Hungary, the Communist overlords finally realized in the early 1970s, that instead of loyal but incompetent political party hacks they needed educated individuals to run the bureaucracy, and made clear to me that I am “an eminently qualified, highly competent and indispensably useful screw in the machinery of the Socialist state.” In Germany, as a “Manager of a Civil Service Position,” in German Verwalter einer Beamtenstelle, I was told that regardless of me being a foreigner, Auslaender in German, the only thing that matters is my competent professionalism. When the United States Congress hired me from a German Institute at the end of August 1977, I was tossed into a pit of native as well as foreign-born incompetent liars claiming expertise in individual foreign countries. Their modus operandi to protect their jobs from the much better qualified newcomer culminated in first spreading the rumor that I am actually a “sleeping Soviet spy,” and then that I am not the person that I pretend to be. Following these totally groundless accusations, they tried to sabotage me by claiming that my analyses were biased by my anti-Communist leanings, and therefore, dead-wrong. In their pernicious efforts, they were enthusiastically supported by an equally incompetent and unprofessional department head, whose understanding of the world was near to zero. The only thing that prevented me from returning to Germany in disgust was a dual invitation from a Senator as well as the Supreme Court to advise them on international law and foreign policy.
Throughout my almost thirteen years of service in the American federal government, I have not encountered a more incompetent, yet arrogant bunch of bureaucrats, than most of the employees of the State Department. Young people in their twenties, fresh out of college or graduate school, were appointed desk officers for countries that they knew close to nothing, including the languages of those nations. My personal experience was that they were a community of desperate people in search of power and stable paychecks. The situation was barely more satisfactory on the higher levels. Ambassadors were appointed based on the size of their campaign contributions and Assistant Secretaries used their personal connections to land political appointments. Clearly, the State Department was a largely useless institution for the decision makers in the White House and in Congress.
To illustrate the utter idiocy of domestic ideology-driven personnel policies, again a personal experience. In the late 1970s, under the Carter Administration, I was called by a friend and senior adviser of the President regarding a high-level position with one of the top intelligence agencies. After I was interviewed for the position, the same person called me and said that he is sorry but the position is reserved by affirmative action for a Black person. To wit, the position required fluency in at least three languages spoken in the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and mindestens a Master’s degree from one of the major European universities. Needless to say that the position remained vacant throughout President Carter’s tenure and beyond. Unsurprisingly, American foreign policy and intelligence services have been a collection of discombobulated failures with few exceptions.
Afghanistan is the latest case in point in the humiliating disasters of the American foreign policy as well as military establishments, including the manifold intelligence agencies. Imbued with the destructive idiocy of Wokeism, including the Critical Race Theory, and guided by an overwhelming hatred for the United States of America, these hypocritical Knights of minority rights and intellectual madness have long been committed to kill individual freedoms, professional competence, as well as constitutional democracy in their fallacious quest to secure the country for their dictatorial minority rule.
The famous proverb of unknown origin says that a fish rots from the head down. This proverbial fish in the United States of America is President Joseph (Joe) Robinette Biden Jr. A man of gregarious disposition, but with well-known brainless intellect, he resembles an imbecile Doofus in Chief rather than a competent Commander in Chief. Moreover, with countless telltale signs of advanced dementia, hapless Joe has been ripe even before his presidency to the care of a closed mental institution and, following his election, to the invocation of the 25th Amendment. His laughably hollow and lying campaign slogans of “America is back,” “all out healing,” “national unity” and “inclusiveness through diversity” have been thrown out of the large French windows and doors of the White House as well as the numerous buildings of the federal government minutes after his return to the Oval Office. Instead of governing as a statesman, demented Joe has gone about fighting, like one possessed by evil spirits, the ghost of his predecessor. Gross falsifications of history under the guise of Black Awakening, slander of entire ethnic groups for their skin color, promoting the Marxist-Leninist “equity” deceptions, manipulating the lie about alleged White Racism combined with baselessly wild White supremacist/extremism/terrorism charges, using the English language to mislead an entire nation regarding illegal immigration, lawlessness as well as the shameful justification of outrightly criminal behavior, and the corrupt manipulation of law enforcement agencies by Marxist political agitators have been de rigueur du jour since January 20, 2021.
Demented Joe’s appointments, under the catchphrase of “diversity,” have populated the federal bureaucracy with woefully incompetent political hacks, such as his Vice President Kamala Harris, who is a huge embarrassment for her gross amateurishness and uncultured hysterical public as well as private behavior, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was called an incompetent bureaucrat by the late Senator John McCain already in 2014, his Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, whose most important contribution to the cabinet is his Blackness and his eagerness to introduce neoracist political correctness in the military, his Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has proven that Senator Mitch McConnell was right by opposing him to the Supreme Court, his Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, whose value is that she has contributed to the diversity of the Biden cabinet, his Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who has gazed to commerce through the lens of her Marxist ideology, his Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, who knows nothing about health care, his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, who has been a political and professional nonentity, his Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who as a mayor of South Bend was incapable of managing the traffic in his small town, his Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona, who has used his perch to fight alleged White Supremacy and has promoted the most unscientific idiocy of Critical Race Theory, his Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who has created a royal mess of illegal immigration, and his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who has not have a single right foreign policy recommendation during his disastrous professional career, among others.
The combined results of Biden’s idiocy and his coterie’s Wokeism have been the egregious
domestic and foreign policy failures of his administration since January 20, 2021. Demented Joe’s domestic agenda can be reduced to a single sentence – to make the federal government the owner of the entire American economy, finance and spiritual realm by aligning them with the most radical Marxist-Leninist Woke policies. Internationally, this demented president, in tow with his incompetent collection of advisers, is determined to destroy his country’s reputation to the fullest by cutting ties with America’s allies and appeasing its enemies by capitulating to their demands. In order to hide their incompetence, continuity, predictability and reliability of policies were thrown out of the window with zero concerns for present as well as future consequences or dangers for the United States of America. Demented Joe’s Administration turned foreign policy into a race-based partisan issue, with absolute disregard for the United States of America’s national security interests.
Personal virtues, the glorious attributes for the American success stories, such as patriotism, education, industriousness, respectability, truthfulness, compliance with the laws, religious faith, have been labelled as inherently White Racism. Demonstrating proficiency in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geography and History have been declared the arrogant manifestations of White Supremacy, which are not needed for minority students to succeed in life. While exercising dictatorial harshness toward Americans concerning COVID-19 restrictions, foreigners infected with the coronavirus can storm into the United States of America with impunity in the millions. While still pursuing unsubstantiated allegations regarding former President Trump, the FBI is in relentless pursuit after the so-called January 6th perpetrators with reckless abandon. Meanwhile, demented Joe’s worthless son Hunter is selling his laughably primitive and amateurish paintings for half-a-million dollars to undisclosed buyer. The United States of America is drowning in the hurricane of moral, political, financial and establishment sponsored corruption.
In light of America’s domestic tragedies, it is painful to state that the Afghan crisis is exactly what demented Joe, the Democrat Party and their extremist partners in Black Lives Matter, Antifa as well as in other like-minded organizations wanted. Having declared former President Trump the enemy of America and a hostage of Russia, the Biden Administration named the majority of Americans as the “common foes we face,” and not China, where the Biden family enriched themselves, or Pakistan, which supported the Taliban politically, militarily and financially. To wit, the real domestic terrorists of Black Lives Matter, Antifa and other Marxist organizations that spewed anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness and violence have been shielded by thuggish politicians as well as corrupt law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
As demented Joe said: “Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.” In reality, he has meant that those who capitulate to Wokeism will be spared, but those who resist will mercilessly be eliminated. Clearly, the war that is going on in the United States of America has always been about culture, and Woke culture has always viewed Afghanistan as the graveyard of America as it has been for almost two hundred forty years.
Yet, the present societal schism goes much deeper than party or group affiliation. It has already penetrated education from kindergarten to graduate schools, from domestic politics to international affairs. If the activists of the Democrat Party, members of the Squad, Black Lives Matter and Antifa would have their ways and say – there would not be the United States of America for long in normal existence. Adding insult to injury, demented Joe and his incompetent administration well on its way to transform the United States of America into a Stalinist despotism, complete with minority totalitarianism, political subordination to the Democrat Party, collectivization of the economy, racial cleansing and religious persecution.
The majority of Americans have finally started to realize this truth in its cruel and ruthless fullness. And they are fighting back. Because, if demented Joe and his administration will manage to finish “vaccinating” all the voters with their anti-American and anti-Democratic nonsense, it might be given the opportunity to establish a hell on earth for the most decent freedom loving people in history.
Yet, when the sun is covered by impenetrably dark clouds, nature can still show the shining stars in the night sky. The timeline of the United States of America’s withdrawal and the subsequent Taliban advances have proved that the Critical Race Theory about the intrinsic origin of White Racism and the false narrative that America is fundamentally racist, lack any real foundation in facts, and as such scientifically ahistorical and in reality a Big Lie. Ibram X. Kendy, the author of “How To Be An Antiracist,” essentially claims that to fight racism one must turn himself into a super racist. Then, the super racists, the good guys according to Kendi, can save the world from the United States of America by changing the “very underpinnings and structures and systems of this country.” Clearly, this moron, who masquerades as a scholar, could not explain why only upon the withdrawal of American troops have summary executions, mass rapes and other extremely evil acts have been committed in the name of Islam by the Taliban. Indeed, evil has existed in many places of the world before White people set foot there. Albeit in an amateurish way, the United States of America intended to better the lives of the Afghan people. The waves of desperate Afghans who want to leave mainly to the United States of America are the best proof against the idiotic notion of “Institutionalized and Systematic Racism” and the allegedly ruthless “White Supremacy” advocated by mostly hypoctritical Black semi-intellectuals.
In closing, as demented Joe has claimed repeatedly, “The buck stops with me.” Paraphrasing his statement, the buck stops with the American people. Demented Joe, his incompetent administration and all those responsible for the utterly botched withdrawal, must go! After that, the American people must wise up and finally begin to create a competent and accountable civil service in place of a power hungry federal bureaucracy.
As the situation in Kabul deteriorates, the Biden administration seems increasingly untethered to reality, boasting about an evacuation gone haywire and lying about stranded Americans.
Americans are stranded in Afghanistan. That’s a fact. You don’t have to have special military clearance to know it, or access to classified information, or be in contact with Americans in Kabul or elsewhere in Afghanistan. All you have to do is follow the news.
For days now, reports coming out of Afghanistan have chronicled the dire situation of Americans unable to get to the airport in Kabul, unable to get past Taliban checkpoints outside the airport, and unable to get through the airport gates because of the desperate and sometimes deadly mobs gathered there.
Members of Congress are even sharing information on social media about Americans trapped in Kabul, some of them terrified of being discovered by the Taliban, begging to be rescued before it’s too late.
So when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki “called out” Fox News’s Peter Doocy on Monday for asking about these stranded Americans, and said there are no Americans stranded in Afghanistan, she was lying. And everyone knows it.
This kind of blatant dissimulation has become a disturbing pattern. By any measure, President Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal has devolved into an unprecedented and embarrassing disaster that seems to get worse by the day. But instead of acknowledging what news reports and social media clearly show — Americans stranded, deadly chaos at the airport, Afghans rushing the gates — the Biden administration is displaying an inability or unwillingness to answer questions or even talk about the evacuation in a way that’s tethered to reality.
Psaki and other White House officials are of course trying to claim that because planes are still taking off from Kabul, no one is in fact “stranded” — at least not yet. They will likely keep repeating this incredible line until the very last plane leaves, at which point they will claim there are no Americans still trapped in Afghanistan even if every news outlet is showing the opposite.
There’s something otherworldly about all of this, an echo of the Iraqi information minister, “Baghad Bob,” who during the 2003 invasion of Iraq infamously boasted there were no U.S. tanks in Baghdad even as U.S. tanks rolled through the city just blocks away from the news conference where he was speaking.
Beyond the administration’s bald-faced lies there is the strange and inappropriate braggadocio about the evacuation. According to the warped logic of the White House, the evacuation itself has become a source of pride, even success.
In a bizarre and disjointed press conference on Sunday, President Biden boasted about the evacuation effort: “We are proving we can move thousands of people a day out of Kabul,” he said, noting that some 11,000 people had been airlifted out of the Afghanistan capital in the past 36 hours, and 37,000 since Aug. 14.
He went on to brag about how the U.S. government has hastily established processing centers in a number of countries around the world to receive the thousands of people fleeing Afghanistan — as if the need to cobble together a network of processing centers was a great accomplishment, instead of an admission that the administration had failed to plan for this inevitability months ago.
All these talking points were repeated Monday by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport — the mobs at the gates, the warning shots and flashbang grenades to hold back the crowds, the babies being lifted over razor wire to U.S. soldiers — are all evidence not of the U.S. government’s gross incompetence, but of its strength.
But the American people can smell a rat. We all know the administration is lying, and as American lives are placed in ever greater danger with each passing day, at some point the lies will become unconscionable, even obscene.
So far, there have been no reports of American deaths, thank God. But that could change quickly. According to Biden’s timeline, U.S. forces have one week to complete their evacuation, a task that seems well-nigh impossible, given the number of people who are trying to leave and the reported conditions on the ground. On Monday, a Taliban spokesman warned on “consequences” if U.S. forces stay beyond the Aug. 31 deadline.
It remains unclear, too, whether the Taliban can retain adequate control over Kabul over the next seven days to prevent attacks on U.S. troops or civilians from other armed groups, including ISIS, which is reportedly in the area.
If they can’t, and Americans are attacked and killed in Kabul or elsewhere, will Psaki stand before the cameras and claim otherwise? Maybe, but it’s more likely she and every other White House official will emphasize how well the evacuation went off, how many people they flew out in however many hours, and what a smashing success, really, this whole thing has been.
The Veep is down, the mayor is up.
It was all hands on deck last month at the home of Washington, D.C., powerbroker Kiki McLean, according to the irrefragable Jonathan Swan of Axios. Some of the Democratic Party’s most experienced and influential female political operatives—Donna Brazile, Jen Palmieri, Stephanie Cutter, Minyon Moore—gathered for dinner to discuss a germinating crisis within their party. “These were old friends getting together for the first time since the pandemic began, and celebrating a Democratic president after the Trump years,” Swan reports. “But the dinner had an urgent purpose.” Its object was to salvage the career of Vice President Kamala Harris. I hope there was plenty on hand to drink.
The brain trust arrived at two conclusions. First, Harris should emphasize her years as California’s attorney general, thereby reducing her exposure to the charge that the Democrats are soft on crime. Second, the poohbahs decided that much of the criticism of Harris’s job performance amounts to sexism. “Many of us lived through the Clinton campaign, and want to help curb some of the gendered dynamics in press coverage that impacted HRC,” a source told Swan. The problem with ascribing your candidate’s difficulties to “gendered dynamics,” of course, is that it doesn’t work. A candidate is truly “impacted” by their own attributes and competence. Sexism didn’t bury Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Clinton did—with a big assist from Robby Mook.
The subtext of Swan’s article, and much of the Harris commentary these days, is the 2024 election. President Biden is 78 years old. Professional Washington appears convinced that he will decide against running for a second term. Harris, as vice president, is Biden’s presumed successor. But the enthusiasm for her candidacy is not exactly overwhelming. Indeed, one of the most entertaining sideshows in the nation’s capital since January has been the steel cage match between Harris and her rival within the cabinet, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The prize is the Democratic Party. At the moment, Mr. Secretary can say—in seven languages—that he’s winning.
Recent months have not been pleasant for Harris. Her policy portfolio, consisting of voting rights and the southern border, has seen diminishing returns. Neither the unconstitutional “For the People Act” nor the anachronistic “John Lewis Voting Rights Act” is headed for passage. The Justice Department lawsuit against Georgia’s recent election reform is likely to be tossed out of court. Meanwhile, illegal immigrants continue to cross the border in record numbers. Immigration is Biden’s worst issue—thanks, Kamala—and the ploy to address the “root causes” of migration in Central America is diversionary and futile.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D., Texas) recently teamed up with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and called on the president to install Jeh Johnson, former secretary of homeland security, as “border czar.” It is unlikely that Biden will follow their advice—the rebuke of Harris would be too obvious. But Cuellar’s desperation is impossible to ignore. “Democrats would do well to remember that public opinion polling over the years has consistently shown overwhelming majorities in favor of more spending and emphasis on border security,” writes demographer Ruy Teixeira in his invaluable newsletter the Liberal Patriot. And Democrats would do well to remember Vice President Harris’s approval rating: It’s upside down.
Buttigieg, by contrast, is cycling his way toward a bipartisan success. It’s true that transportation wasn’t his first pick: He wanted, by all accounts, to be U.N. ambassador. But there was no way Harris was going to let Biden park Buttigieg in the Ritz-Carlton in New York City, where he could spend four years burnishing his diplomatic credentials and wining and dining the financial services crowd that funds presidential campaigns. The U.N. job went to a career foreign serviceofficer instead.
As it happens, though, the transportation gig is working out for the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg’s interviews are as gaffe-free (and as somnolent) as one might expect from someone who as a youth tested talking points in the mirror and dressed up as a “politician” for Halloween. The legislation with which he is most associated—the 2,700-page, $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework now under debate in the Senate—has a good chance of becoming law. And it’s popular.
Could Buttigieg leverage his experience managing a mid-level department into a winning presidential bid? Stranger things have happened, I suppose. What must keep Buttigieg up at night is his utter lack of appeal to the Democratic Party’s most important constituency: Recall the CNN poll from the summer of 2019 showing him with zero support among black voters. True, he tied Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucus. But Iowa doesn’t make Democratic nominees—South Carolina does. And Buttigieg placed fourth in the Palmetto State.
Then again, Harris doesn’t have much of a track record with black voters, either. She dropped out of the Democratic primary before the voting began, so it’s hard to judge her against actual results. Which raises this conundrum: How can the Biden Democrats succeed—or even exist—without Joe Biden?
Harris and Buttigieg, the two most prominent options in 2024, are gentry liberals with tenuous connections to working-class Democrats and suburban independents. It’s fun to watch them one-up each other. But Democratic professionals, including Kiki McLean’s dinner companions, must be wondering who else is on offer. Or might it be the case that President Biden has set up his heirs for failure on purpose, so that his party three years from now has no choice but to renominate his 81-year-old self? Sure, Joe Biden is a little crazy. But maybe he’s crazy like a fox.
The Biden administration’s damaging conduct is obvious to most Americans, but Texas — and other states — are not bystanders in this war for Americans’ safety, security, and primacy.
Margot Cleveland’s recent article here in The Federalist asserted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent executive order barring the transportation of foreign nationals by non-official actors to limit the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 was not authorized under constitutional principles or federal law.
Cleveland asserts Abbott’s order is “illegal” because it interfered with federal immigration authority and that its foundation in state public health law was “irrelevant.” Cleveland also contends that “there is nothing [Gov.] Abbott or state and local officials can do about the Biden administration’s complete disregard for the security of our southern border.”
Respectfully, Cleveland’s statements are constitutionally inaccurate, reflect common misunderstandings of the basic principles that anchor our republic, and are arguably negligent from a public safety perspective.
The foundational flaw in this argument is rejecting the dual and mutually supportive concepts of state sovereignty and federalism. Bluntly stated, the American states are sovereign entities, not provinces. Our system is structurally and fundamentally different than virtually almost every other national governmental structure in the world.
Because our states are sovereigns — with their own constitutions, laws, and obligations to their citizens — and not mere appendages of our federal government, they are authorized to wield substantial, non-symbolic power within their own territories. An assertion that states function in a realm of permission-based or symbolic authority is just flat wrong.
State sovereignty, and the voter-based power that grants that sovereignty, is in turn an essential component of federalism, which provides the checks and balances that guard our freedoms. Remember, there are two crucial types of federalism at work in our system: horizontal federalism and vertical federalism. When most Americans talk of federalism, they are likely talking about horizontal federalism, the three branches of the federal government, the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. These coequal branches ostensibly keep each other in check and prevent overreach.
But vertical federalism is just as important as horizontal federalism, if not more so. The same checks-and-balances philosophy behind the three-branch design of our federal government is no less a part of the interaction between state governments and the federal government.
The Founders, who created the federal government to benefit the states, did not think states would just behave like pieces of a centralized government. They fully banked on states jealously guarding their power and pushing back against federal overreach as needed. Indeed, the odds are pretty good that the U.S. Constitution would never have been ratified at all if the states had been told they were voluntarily ceding their states’ powers to a centralized government.
Applied to the situation at hand, state sovereignty and vertical federalism absolutely authorize Abbott and any other governor — Republican, Democrat, or other — to serve their citizens within the boundaries of their state constitutions, laws, and obligations. Here, we have what is state government leadership issuing an instruction to state-funded officials to protect the public health of state citizens in a situation where the federal government has opted out of its obligations to do so.
An assertion that the constitutional doctrine of preemption, which prohibits states from functioning in areas exclusively reserved for federal action, prohibits Abbott’s order is not only inaccurate, but also raises important questions about what happens when the federal government asserts preemptive authority but then abdicates that authority. Call it dormant overreach.
In her article, Cleveland notes the Biden administration’s Department of Justice argued in federal court that Abbott’s order “violates the Supremacy Clause because it disrupts federal immigration operations in Texas.” Most Texans would find that argument somewhat comical in that, by most accounts, there is virtually no immigration enforcement taking place in Texas, or anywhere else along the United States-Mexico border, for that matter. The Biden administration’s argument is the intellectual equivalent of a pilot steering a plane into the ground while preventing someone from trying to rescue the flight by claiming that only the pilot is authorized to fly the plane.
Cleveland also implies that Texas’s most meaningful — or even only — role here is to highlight the hypocrisy of the Biden administration and eventually win some sort of national conversation. She is correct to say that the Biden administration is engaging in rank hypocrisy by unleashing hundreds of thousands of potentially COVID-19-positive foreign nationals on American soil while pushing for new rights-inhibiting restrictions of American citizens.
Nevertheless, it is inaccurate to say that a state’s job in the face of federal abuse is to win a messaging fight but otherwise stand down and wait for federal rescue. This perspective approaches negligent disregard because it is essentially arguing state and local governments have no role in public safety when our federal government is failing to ensure the public’s safety.
The Biden administration’s damaging conduct is obvious to most Americans, but Texas — and other states — are not bystanders in this war for Americans’ safety, security, and primacy. The Constitution is not a suicide pact. The solutions that lay ahead will require more aggressive assertion of state sovereignty, more aggressive state action to protect their citizens, and a more thorough understanding and appreciation of what our Constitution not only allows, but requires.
The Biden administration came into office with the hope of reentering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the nuclear deal with Iran—and thereby reduce tensions in the Middle East, an area of the world to which it would rather pay less attention. President Joe Biden has stated that the United States would reenter the JCPOA provided Iran comes back into compliance with its terms, but Iranian leaders have insisted on the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions first. Furthermore, Biden has indicated his desire for the agreement to address other areas, such as the Iranian ballistic missile program. The newly elected Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has stated that areas not covered by the original JCPOA are off the table. Negotiations in Vienna among Iran and China, Germany, France, Russia, and Britain (with the United States on the margins) have to date failed to reach an agreement.
The background to the current impasse is complicated. On July 14, 2015, the Obama administration, along with China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom, signed the JCPOA limiting Iran’s ability to process fissile material. The United Nations Security Council endorsed the agreement six days later. The nuclear deal, the culmination of twenty months of negotiations, placed significant restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program for a period of fifteen years. In return the international community lifted economic sanctions, which had crippled Iran’s domestic economy. The nuclear deal was touted as the signature foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama’s presidential tenure.
The Iranian nuclear program began in the late-1950s under the government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1970 Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in return for assistance under the U.S. “Atoms for Peace” program. The Iranian nuclear program went into abeyance after the 1979 revolution, with a number of nuclear scientists fleeing the country. After the disastrous eight-year war with Iraq concluded in 1988, Iran resumed nuclear research with the assistance of China, Pakistan, and Russia. A 2003 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report concluded that Iran had violated the NPT, leading to negotiations with the United Kingdom, France, and Germany (EU 3). The resulting Paris agreement in November 2004 led to Iran’s suspension of nuclear enrichment and conversion.
The election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad led to the collapse of the Paris agreement. In February 2006, Iran resumed enrichment activities at Natanz. Four months later, the United States, Russia, and China joined the EU 3 to form the P5+1, which worked to limit Iran’s enrichment capabilities. The first of six United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutionsaddressing Iran’s violation of the NPT passed in July 2006. The UNSC called on Iran to cease nuclear enrichment and imposed economic sanctions to pressure the Iranian government to comply with its resolutions.
Iran failed to comply with the resolutions. In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama revealed intelligence indicating the existence of an underground enrichment facility in Fordow, near the religious center of Qom. IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei called for the lifting of sanctions in return for Iran’s suspension of enrichment, to no avail. The Green Movement in the summer of 2009 had shaken Ahmadinejad’s government, and his hardline crackdown on civilian protesters signaled its unwillingness to compromise with perceived enemies, foreign or domestic. The United States and Israel then deployed the Stuxnet computer worm, which interrupted the operation of centrifuges at Natanz, ultimately destroying approximately a thousand of the machines.
The election of a new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, in June 2013 broke the diplomatic logjam. Three days after his inauguration in August, Rouhani publicly called for a resumption of negotiations with the P5+1. The next month Rouhani spoke by telephone with Obama, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The first high-level contacts between the United States and Iran since the Iranian revolution of 1979 signaled the diplomatic possibilities surrounding the nuclear file. The Obama administration was concerned that absent an agreement, Iran could develop a nuclear weapon within a matter of months if it chose to do so. This danger could lead to a preemptive strike by Israel, or to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Saudi Arabia, Iran’s strategic competitor in the Middle East.
Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran in Geneva led to the signing on November 24, 2013, of a Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement that limited Iran’s nuclear enrichment capabilities in return for the partial lifting of economic sanctions while negotiations sought a more permanent agreement. That agreement, the JCPOA, was finally inked on July 14, 2015. At its core, the agreement would extend the “breakout time”—the amount of time required for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon—to more than twelve months.
Specifics of the JCPOA included a ten-year cap on the number of operational centrifuges (from more than 20,000 to just over 6,000), a fifteen-year uranium enrichment cap of 3.67 percent (nuclear weapons require concentrations in excess of 90 percent), a fifteen-year cap on the stockpile of enriched uranium (from 10,000 to just 300 kilograms), redesign of the Arak heavy water reactor for peaceful nuclear research, a twenty-year period of continuous IAEA inspection of centrifuge production facilities, the termination of all UN Security Council Resolutions regarding the Iranian nuclear program, the cessation of U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors, and the resumption of economic commerce including the sale of passenger aircraft and automobiles to Iran. Additionally, the United States and the EU released approximately $100 billion in frozen Iranian assets. U.S. sanctions on Iran targeting human rights, ballistic missiles, and terrorism remained unaffected by the agreement.
The Obama administration signed the JCPOA but refrained from submitting it to the Senate for ratification. This gave the agreement the force of an executive order, which could be quickly undone by a future Republican president. If President Obama desired a lasting foreign policy achievement, this was a fatal error.
Republican lawmakers and Israeli government officials immediately attacked the agreement as insufficient to permanently halt Iran’s nuclear aspirations. While negotiations were in progress, on March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Washington and spoke to a joint session of Congress, decrying the agreement as insufficient to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions. Without deeper and permanent concessions, Iran could follow North Korea into the club of nuclear-armed nations. Any deal should also be contingent on the cessation of Iran’s bad behavior in the Middle East: its support for proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen; its sponsorship of terrorism, and its public calls for the destruction of Israel.
The unspoken hope by the Obama administration was that the Iranian regime would moderate by the time the restrictions in the nuclear deal lifted. This was a significant miscalculation. Following the signing of the JCPOA, Iran abided by its restrictions but used the resources freed up by the deal to fund proxy groups across the Middle East, from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria to Houthis in Yemen to various military groups in Iraq. The revolutionary generation of 1979 was not disappearing—it was metastasizing. The quixotic hope for a more moderate Iranian government never came to pass, and probably will not happen provided the government remains in the hands of an all-powerful religious leader with no incentive to compromise.
The Trump administration entered office with a more clear-eyed vision of the sources of Iranian misconduct. The president lambasted the JCPOA as seriously flawed, deciding to withdraw from the agreement, and reimpose U.S. economic sanctions on May 8, 2018. The other members of the P5+1 remained in the agreement, but without access to the U.S. banking system or the ability to export large amounts of oil, Iran’s economy—80 percent of its exports linked to oil—tanked. The Trump administration enacted a policy of “maximum pressure,” attempting to force Iran to agree to deeper and more permanent cuts in its nuclear program, limitations on its ballistic missile program, and withdrawal of support for proxy and terrorist groups in the region.
Iran retaliated by instituting a policy of “maximum resistance.” Iranian forces and proxy groups attacked U.S. allies and interests in the Middle East, including strikes on Saudi oil facilities, interdiction of tanker traffic in the Gulf, proxy attacks on U.S. service personnel in Iraq, and the downing of a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz. The Trump administration responded on January 3, 2020, by killing Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force commander Major General Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, was also killed; Iraqi paramilitary groups continue to target U.S. forces in Iraq to this day to exact revenge. Iran also walked back portions of the JCPOA: doubling the number of centrifuges in operation, enriching uranium to 5 percent purity, and ending on-site inspections by the IAEA.
Despite the failure of the maximum pressure campaign to change Iranian behavior or induce it to renegotiate the JCPOA, the Biden administration would be ill-advised to reenter the agreement without exacting further concessions from Iran. Some of the restrictions of the current JCPOA expire in just four years, without a change in Iranian behavior or ambitions in sight. Time is on the side of the United States; Iran needs an agreement to restore its economic fortunes far more than the Biden administration needs a foreign policy achievement. The administration should remain firm and demand a revised and stronger agreement. In the best of all worlds, a new and stronger JCPOA could be presented to the Senate for ratification, giving it more permanence. Senate ratification would be a heavy lift in the current domestic political environment but provided the Biden administration gives due credit to Trump’s policy of maximum pressure, bi-partisan backing of a treaty might be possible. A treaty capable of Senate ratification will require much deeper Iranian concessions than are currently on the table, but such is the price Iran must pay to reach an agreement with the Great Satan that can withstand a change in presidential administrations.
Washington does well as the world falls apart
On August 8 the White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, turns 60 years old. It is, writes Mark Leibovich of the New York Times, a much-anticipated event on the D.C. social calendar. Klain, you see, has commemorated earlier “round-numbered birthdays” by throwing large, sumptuous “blowouts,” including a fête at a Maryland farm in 2011 where hundreds of VIPs gathered to eat deep-fried Oreos and deliver “tributes to the honoree.”
Everyone who was anyone in Barack Obama’s Washington was there. One’s absence signified one’s exclusion from the tribe. To know Ron Klain, then, is to have entered the power elite. “Plans for his 60th,” Leibovich continues, “have become such a source of Beltway status anxiety that a small universe of Washington strivers is angling for details: Some have asked White House contacts whether a celebration is in the works and if invitations have gone out.”
Needless to say, I don’t expect to be invited. Nor is there anything wrong with Klain throwing himself a bash: Having just celebrated a “round-numbered” birthday myself, I can attest that there is nothing more fun than gathering a bunch of your family and friends in one place for an evening of food and drink (and more drink).
What struck me instead as I read Leibovich’s slightly tongue-in-cheek profile was the distance between the bourgeois comfort of Klain’s personal and professional life and the facts, as they say, on the ground. One cannot finish reading the Leibovich piece without coming to the conclusion that, all in all, things have worked out pretty darn well for Ron Klain. For America? Not so much.
Klain is the most powerful chief of staff in recent memory, the beating heart of Joe Biden’s White House, a man whose portfolio is so wide-ranging and whose boss is so (let’s face it) odd that Republicans on Capitol Hill refer to him as “Prime Minister Klain.” Like most Washingtonians, he is a well-degreed workaholic, a graduate of Georgetown and Harvard Law School who has spent decades rotating from positions in Democratic administrations to lucrative gigs at the intersection of law, technology, and finance. He calls his expensive home in Chevy Chase, Md., “the house that O’Melveny built,” after legal giant O’Melveny & Myers, where he was a partner from 2001 to 2004.
Among his clients there were AOL Time Warner and Fannie Mae. In 2004 the chairman of AOL Time Warner, billionaire Steve Case, invited Klain to join his D.C.-based venture capital firm, Revolution. Leibovich informs us that Klain’s salary in 2020 was some $2 million. That buys you a lot of hors d’oeuvres.
What Ron Klain actually did in the private sector—besides tweet—is no mystery. By the alchemical process through which influence is manufactured in Washington, he converted his relationships with Democratic power brokers into cash money. “At times,” wrote Michael Scherer in a November 2020 profile for the Washington Post, “Klain appears to have worked with every Democratic leader of the past three decades.” Such a network is worth something to the incalculable number of interests seeking out favors, damages, or relief from the federal government.
And such a network is all the more valuable when it includes a president. In addition to Klain’s smarts and drive, it has been his considerable luck that he has worked for Joe Biden in various capacities since the 1980s. Indeed, the only hiccup in what the Times calls Klain’s “ascension” was his boneheaded, finger-in-the-wind decision to endorse the campaign of the worst presidential candidate in modern history before checking in with Biden first.
When Klain signed on with Hillary Clinton in 2015, Biden had not yet removed himself from consideration for the Democratic nomination. The vice president interpreted Klain’s announcement as an act of disloyalty. Leibovich writes that the rupture with the Biden family, “especially with Jill Biden,” was intense, if relatively brief. Scherer of the Washington Post reports that, after Hillary managed to lose to Donald Trump, another longtime Biden aide, Steve Ricchetti, arranged for Klain to meet with the future president and come to terms. Klain was back on the inside. All was well.
Recent days have offered plenty of evidence of just how good it is to orbit President Biden. The lobbying firm of Steve Ricchetti’s brother Jeff saw a quadruple increase in fees between the first half of 2020 and the first half of 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal. So far this year, Ricchetti Inc. has taken in $1.67 million. “I do not lobby my brother, nor have I lobbied the White House this quarter,” Jeff Ricchetti said in an email to the paper, in one of the most cleverly constructed sentences I have read in a long time.
Surely Jeff Ricchetti understands that Counselor to the President Steve Ricchetti is not the only employee of the executive branch, that “lobbying” is an amorphous term, that the “White House” or Executive Office of the President is just one of innumerable executive and legislative bodies that make policy, and that “this quarter” is only the third of four per year. What did he do in the first two?
Frank Biden, the president’s younger brother, is a senior adviser to the Florida-based Berman Law Group and boastedof his genetic connection to the Oval Office in an Inauguration Day advertisement. As for the president’s son Hunter—well, words fail me. Suffice it to say that Hunter’s latest gambit to profit from his last name, selling his psychedelic abstract expressionist paintings to “anonymous” donors, is such a transparent grift that even big tech isn’t trying to censor criticism of it.
Yes, it’s good to know a president. But what about, you know, the rest of the country? “People in and around the White House describe Mr. Klain as the essential nerve center of an over-circuited administration whose day-to-day doings reflect how this White House works and what it aspires to,” writes Leibovich. What the White House aspires to, it would seem, is continuity and routine: Klain arrives early for work and leaves late, hardly travels with Biden, and spends his hours managing the rickety contraption that is this president’s agenda.
But the “normalcy” of White House operations contrasts sharply with the turbulence buffeting the world outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On the day Leibovich’s story appeared, for example, markets plunged over fears of the spreading coronavirus variant. Similar fears of inflation and crime are roiling the electorate. The southern border is experiencing the largest surge in illegal migration in 20 years.
On the global stage, the Taliban rampage throughout Afghanistan. Russian and Chinese cyberattacks continue despite Biden’s warnings to Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. The negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program go nowhere fast. For all of Biden’s rhetoric, which itself is often confusing, America is not in a good place.
“Party details for his 60th birthday on Aug. 8 remain elusive,” writes Leibovich, “although there has been talk that Mr. Klain might skip a big gala this summer and do a small family celebration instead on the big day.” I should hope so. The man has a lot of work to do. The Biden circle is living high on the hog while America and the world are coming apart. Prime Minister Klain, call your office.
Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer is taking on the Biden administration over policy moves that have caused higher prices and the return of noticeable inflation.
“Gas, milk, fruit, televisions, furniture, washing machines, car rentals, hotel rooms – what do all of these things have in common? Their prices have gone up under the Biden administration,” Luetkemeyer, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Small Business wrote in an op-ed published Friday by Fox Business.
Data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed prices up 5.4 percent last month over June 2020, the highest jump since the economic difficulties that began when the market for sub-prime home mortgages collapsed in 2008. That’s higher than the interest rate setting U.S. Federal Reserve expected and marks the sixth straight month in which prices have risen.
“While Democrats in Washington bulldoze a path for reckless government spending, small businesses and middle class working American families alike are left to pay the bill,” Luetkemeyer wrote, singling out the damaging impact the newest round of inflation is having on family-owned business.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the United States economy, and they were making huge economic strides before the Biden administration took over. Now, small businesses nationwide are facing the consequences of the Democrats’ massive government spending agenda in all sectors,” he wrote.
The U.S. says government nearly half the country’s small businesses were forced to increase prices in May, which Luetkemeyer said was “the largest percentage reported in 40 years.”
“From increased gas prices for delivering goods to rising food costs for restaurants, small business owners are bearing the brunt of Democrat-induced inflation,” he continued. “As more American consumers are spending and patronizing small businesses following the COVID pandemic shutdowns, this increased immediate spending has given our economy a bit of a shock. But rather than acknowledge this problem and correct the course, President Biden and Congressional Democrats are doubling down.”
“Make no mistake – inflation is taxation. Prices of the goods you buy go up, meaning the dollars in your pocket are worth less. It then takes more of those hard-earned dollars to purchase these goods.
“The Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion package will severely exacerbate the inflation problem for middle-class families and further crush Main Street U.S.A.
“Simply put, small businesses cannot afford the inflation tax that comes with the Democrats’ failed economic policies.
“As Republican Leader of the House Small Business Committee, my colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to provide much-needed relief for small businesses across the country as they regain their footing and reopen their doors to local communities.
“Unfortunately, there is no single COVID relief package that can simply fix inflation – the Democrats must stop their spending spree. As if the pandemic didn’t create enough of an economic burden for American families and workers, they now face an increased cost of living and consumer prices across the board with no end in sight.”
Luetkemeyer’s criticisms are being echoed by economists and others concerned about the effects ongoing inflation will have on the post-pandemic recovery.
Writing in mid-July for the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, Michael Ettlinger and Jordan Hensley observed that “As measured by Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 35 states and the District of Columbia have smaller economies, as of the first quarter of this year, than they did before COVID-19, while 14 states have seen a modicum of economic growth. Nationally, GDP remains 0.9 percent lower than it was before the pandemic struck.”
President Biden and others in his administration seem happy to claim credit for the good economic news but are rather cavalier about the impact the bad news is having, saying the spike in inflation is at worst temporary.
Biden himself recently dismissed the issue, saying his multi-trillion-dollar spending initiatives will “reduce inflation, reduce inflation, reduce inflation.” Some economists and business leaders fear, however, it is that very spending that is driving the hike in prices and that they will not stabilize or return to the levels at which they were at before the pandemic struck any time soon.
If the current trend continues, this will be a record-breaking year for illegal immigration on the southwest border.
You would never know it by perusing headlines in the corporate press, but the border crisis is getting worse, not better, as the summer goes on. In fact, it might well turn out to be historic.
Late last week U.S. Customs and Border Protection finally released June border apprehension numbers, which hit a 21-year high with more than 188,000 arrests last month and more than 1.1 million so far this fiscal year.
But that’s not all. Contrary to the usual seasonal rise and fall of illegal immigration, which typically spikes in the spring and then recedes during the hotter summer months, the number of people crossing the border illegally is increasing — as it has been every month since last April.
If this trend continues, we’ll break the decades-old record for southwest border apprehensions, which is more than 1.6 million back in 2000.
Beyond the sheer numbers are the changing demographics of illegal immigration. A growing share of illegal immigrants are now coming from countries other than Mexico or the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
CBP data for June show a sharp and sustained increase in other nationalities crossing the Rio Grande, rising from just 11,909 in February to more than 47,000 in June. Migrants from Nicaragua and other South American countries have increased three-foldsince the beginning of the year, and the number of Haitians and Cubans encountered by Border Patrol is 2.5 times higher than it was in January.
In addition, the number of families and unaccompanied children crossing over continues to rise, last month surpassing the total for June of 2019, during the height of the last border crisis. Indeed, more unaccompanied children have been taken into federal custody so far this year than in all of 2019. The number of single adults taken into custody, still by far the majority of all apprehensions, declined last month for the first time since last April.
Some on the left and in the corporate press like to point out that these figures represent apprehensions, not people, because some of those who are apprehended and expelled are repeat offenders. This has always been the case, but the use of Title 42, a public health measure invoked by former President Trump at the onset of the pandemic last year, allows for the rapid expulsion of some migrants, mostly single adults. Since expulsion under Title 42 carries no criminal penalty (like deportation does), many adult migrants are making multiple attempts to cross even after being arrested more than once.
But even taking these multiple offenders into account, in June there were more than 123,000 “unique individual encounters,” as CBP puts it, meaning these are people who are crossing for the first time. (For perspective, at the height of the 2019 crisis there were 144,00 apprehensions that May.)
Then there’s COVID. Fox News reported this week that COVID cases among illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley — by far the busiest section of the border — are up 900 percent in the first two weeks of July compared to the previous 14 months after 135 detainees tested positive for the virus.
For months now, border officials and nonprofit shelters have worried that COVID infection rates among migrants were higher than the 5 percent figure widely repeated in the press. Testing has been haphazard and inconsistent along the border, but COVID outbreaks in emergency shelters for migrant youth have been ongoing, with infection rates hovering between 15 and 20 percent.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to reduce the number of people being expelled under Title 42. Initially, Biden maintained Trump’s Title 42 authority in order to expel single adults and families out of concern that processing large numbers of people in border facilities would contribute to the spread of COVID-19, while admitting unaccompanied minors (and quickly overwhelming federal facilities).
But now, the Biden administration is releasing the vast majority of families apprehended at the border. Out of 55,000 family units apprehended in June, only 8,000 (about 14 percent) were expelled under Title 42. That’s a drastic drop from January, when 62 percent of all family units were expelled. Although less drastic, the administration is also gradually decreasing the number of single adults it expels under Title 42, from 92 percent in January to 82 percent in June.
So much for the numbers. What they point to is a border crisis of historic proportions — one that’s unfolding with almost no coverage from a corporate media establishment that wants above all to protect the Biden administration.
Amid this self-imposed media blackout, Republicans in Congress have been trying to draw attention to the crisis as best they can. This week Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and James Comer, R-Ky., released a reportanalyzing the crisis six months into the Biden administration, including a timeline detailing all the Trump-era policies and programs Biden dismantled soon after taking office, as well as subsequent policies enacted by the Biden administration that have further exacerbated the crisis.
Among these are major shifts that largely flew under the radar, like a 62 percent drop in arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement during Biden’s first month in office, which indicates interior immigration enforcement plummeted just as the border was becoming overwhelmed.
The media can continue to ignore what is shaping up to be an historic crisis at the border, but ordinary Americans know something is wrong. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the border, and in Texas, which is bearing the brunt of Biden’s immigration policies, another recent poll found that immigration and border security are the top concern of voters in the state.
One reason for this disapproval and concern, despite so little media coverage, is that every month CBP releases its border numbers, and every month for the last six months, those numbers have said the same thing: there’s a crisis on the border, and it’s getting worse.
In Biden's America, the action is outside the Beltway
It took a few days away from the nation’s capital for me to appreciate how boring the place has become. Recently I returned from a trip to California and discovered that I hadn’t missed anything—no presidential scandal, no legislative logrolling, no surprise vacancies on the Supreme Court. Yes, the pace of events slows down in Washington every summer. Congress goes on recess and metro residents travel for vacation. But 2021 is different. This year, D.C.’s irrelevance is neither seasonal nor exceptional. It’s the norm.
Since Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the city has been the site of momentous events and world-defining debates. The fallout from the 2000 election, 9/11, the war on terrorism, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the surge, the financial crisis, the election of Barack Obama, Obamacare, the Tea Party, the debt ceiling, the response to the Arab Spring, the 2013 government shutdown—they all testified to the centrality of Washington.
Donald Trump’s descent on the escalator in 2015 intensified press coverage. His victory in 2016 upped the political stakes. The Trump presidency unfolded in spectacular, captivating fashion. It was a live-broadcast, four-year, nonfictional telenovela, complete with a climactic twist and a tragic ending. On occasion, the cast traveled to Singapore, Hanoi, Helsinki, and Mar-a-Lago. But the main set was the Oval Office.
Well, the show is over and the thrill is gone. It used to be that the federal city—and its chief executive—drove the national conversation. But President Biden purposely limits his exposure to remain as uncontroversial as possible. “Boring news cycle deals blow to partisan media,” read the headline of an article in Axios on June 29. The piece tracked a fall in web traffic, app user sessions, and social media engagement since President Trump left office. Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, tweeted out the story. “Sorry not sorry,” he wrote.
After 12 years of highly visible celebrity presidents, the current occupant of the White House is a 78-year-old who eschews social media, rarely gives one-on-one interviews, limits himself to about one public event a day, calls on pre-selected reporters at press conferences, often refers to notes, and returns home to Delaware most weekends. Joe Biden’s spending plans may be gargantuan and foolish, his decisions on the border and on Afghanistan may be impetuous and disastrous, and his offhand remarks may be puzzling and odd, but no one gets worked up about him personally. Last month Doug Rivers of the Hoover Institution observed that voters don’t consider Biden an ideologue. It doesn’t matter that Biden’s goals are more ambitious than Obama’s: Far greater numbers of voters said that Obama was “very liberal” than say the same of Biden today.
This low-key presidency combines with tight margins in Congress to diminish Washington’s importance. Unlike his two most recent predecessors, Biden is not an omnipresent figure. The 50-50 Senate blocks the progressive wish list from becoming law. The result is a devolution of controversy to the state, municipal, and local levels of government. Not in two decades covering politics, for example, have I seen state legislatures receive as much attention as they have in recent months.
Meanwhile, the big political news is Democrat Eric Adams’s victory in the New York City mayoral primary. What’s unique about Adams is that he ran the first New York campaign in decades with national implications. His triumph underscored the electorate’s concern with rising crime rates. It demonstrated that even Democratic primary voters in a majority-minority city oppose defunding law enforcement.
“According to recent data from the Democratic-oriented Navigator Research,” writes Ruy Teixeira in a recent issue of the Liberal Patriot newsletter, “more Americans overall, including among independents and Hispanics, now believe violent crime is a ‘major crisis’ than believe that about the coronavirus pandemic or any other area of concern.” This alarm over rising crime manifested itself locally before becoming apparent to officials in Washington, including Biden, who scrambled to announce a crime reduction plan in late June.
The most glaring sign of the Beltway’s detachment from national life has been the movement against critical race theory (CRT) in public schools. Like the Tea Party, this movement is spontaneous, self-organizing, and uncontrolled. Unlike the Tea Party, however, it is focused on a hyperlocal (yet super-important) issue: K-12 instruction. As of this writing, the anti-CRT movement fields candidates for school boards. Congress is an afterthought.
The national politicians who amplify the movement’s rhetoric are piggybacking on a grassroots phenomenon. And while the fight against CRT has implications for federal policy, it is not as though the right’s answer to far-left school boards is national curricular standards. On the contrary: The parental revolt over “woke” education bypasses Washington, transcends party lines, and has clearly defined and limited goals.
What’s fascinating about the anti-CRT campaign is that its most prominent antagonists are not elected officials. The Tea Party pitted rebels such as Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz against the Republican establishment and Barack Obama. But the participants in this most recent iteration of the culture war are different. The anti-CRT spokesman Christopher Rufo of the Manhattan Institute is a documentarian and activist, and Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan are journalists. The most famous advocates of so-called antiracist education are Nikole Hannah-Jones, lead writer of the New York Times‘s 1619 Project, and Ibram X. Kendi of Boston University. Fights over CRT don’t take place in the halls of Congress, but on Morning Joe.
Maybe political entrepreneurs in the coming months will appropriate and elevate the issues of voter ID, crime, and anti-American pedagogy into national campaigns. Maybe the anti-CRT movement will follow the Tea Party and use the 2022 election to springboard into the Beltway. Maybe the next president will impress himself or herself into the national consciousness in the manner of an Obama or a Trump. Or maybe the next president will be Trump.
For now, though, Joe Biden is president. Congress is deadlocked. Both the left and right are more interested in values than in entitlements. The media track the states, the cities, the schools. Why? Because the real action is happening in places like Atlanta, Tallahassee, Austin, Phoenix, New York City, and Loudoun County. Not in Washington, D.C.
After having qualified for the UEFA European Championship 2020, Hungary finished last in its group that included France, Germany and Portugal too. The two ties, 1:1 and 2:2 respectively against France and Germany were celebrated as actual victories, while the 0:3 defeat to Portugal in Budapest was hailed as a quasi-triumph on the account that the match stood 0:0 until the 84th minute. The Prime Minister Viktor Orban, members of his cabinet as well as top functionaries of his FIDESZ party, and the more excitable fans celebrated the actual elimination of the national team from the most important European competition as a clear sign that Hungary’s redemption from domestic and international oblivion has taken a decisive step forward.
Contrary to the one-party rule propaganda, the grim reality is that the Viktor Orban-led Hungary is in multiple crises. Since 2010, when the Hungarian voters in their boundless naivete rewarded Viktor Orban with two-thirds majority, the country has gradually reverted to the pre-1990s one party rule. As in the old Communist times, a single individual controls everything, from all three branches of the government, through the nation’s economy, to the written and electronic media.
Indeed, as during the Soviet occupation, the fear of the despotic powers has overcome the population. Life, property and personal freedoms have been subject to arbitrary decisions. Ownership of lands and successful businesses have been unsafe from well-connected greedy individuals who have enjoyed impunity from illegal acts by the FIDESZ-controlled police and prosecutorial authorities. Corruption has been pervasive, systematic and thus out of control. The well-educated have been leaving Hungary in droves. Young people have seen no future for themselves and their children in a country that does not value knowledge, experience and merit-based accomplishments. Nepotism and loyalty to Viktor Orban have been the new symbolic “little red Communist party membership cards” to professional and financial success.
Meanwhile, investments in the productive sectors of the economy, in education and in health care have been almost non-existent. Yet, monies have been poured unaccounted into erecting an irrational number of soccer stadiums, building other sport-related facilities and attempting to secure the rights to organize a variety of European and World competitions in Hungary. Under Orban, soccer has become the great political unifier of the Hungarian nation. In the government propaganda, Viktor Orban has reminded Hungarians incessantly that the country’s national soccer team represents more than a team. According to him, it embodies Hungary with its past, present and future. His slogan “We are bound together by the Red, the White and the Green” references the national colors of Hungary. To add an oversized enthusiasm to this absurd and existentially meaningless political hype, Viktor Orban also claims that “Together we are the greatest team.”
All this should serve as a spooky reminder to the morbid practices of the East German and the Romanian Communist leaders. Erich Honecker, the long serving Communist leader in East Berlin sank huge sums of money into a wide assortment of sports to prove the superiority of his political regime vis-a-vis the truly democratic Federal Republic of Germany. In the same spirit, the other Communist despot in Bucharest Nicolae Ceausescu feverishly built soccer stadiums, the majority of which was never used during his lifetime. East Germany disappeared from the map following the successful unification of the divided Germany on October 3, 1990. Nicolae Ceaușescu was summarily tried and executed immediately thereafter with his wife by a firing squad on December 25, 1989. Today, heirs to these dead Communists are Viktor Orban and his pal on the crossroads of Europe and Asia Recep Tayip Erdogan. However, as in East Germany and Romania of the not so distant past, only the mentally handicaped think in Hungary and Turkey that their respective countries’ general situation would improve because of the progressive performance of their soccer teams.
In addition to expediting the erosion of the nation’s value system, Viktor Orban’s self-serving and narcissistic psychopathy has contributed to the disintegration from within the post-Communist Hungarian society. Having been a Dopey Ignoramus by nature, Viktor Orban reminds Hungarians of their past and present miseries and their innermost feelings that their country historically has constantly been under siege by external enemies. For this reason, he has suggested that the present hostility from NATO and the European Union toward Hungary must be countered domestically by a pervasive government oversight and vigilant interventions in every aspect of the citizens’ lives.
Under the current structure of the one-party state, in which Viktor Orban’s utterances cannot be challenged, his exaggerated and aggressive chauvinism has created a thriving cult of paranoia. Thus, during the 2018 national election campaign, posters went up, warning people to watch out for foreign enemies, such as the financier George Soros, the liberal establishment in Brussels, as well as the allegedly unpatriotic machinations of his domestic opposition. In rural backwaters, he and his party warned of Western-backed “destructive influences” and “anti-Christian infiltration.”
No wonder that Hungary’s authoritarian turn has reverberated far beyond the borders of the country. As Viktor Orban has sought to eliminate foreign and domestic challengers, his ruthless efforts have sparked mistrust in Brussels and Washington, D.C. As Viktor Orban’s personal despotism faces another electoral test in the spring of 2022, his ambivalence about the durability of his over a decade long reign shows the fundamental uncertainties and even failures of his soccer symbolized political project. Accordingly, less than a year before the next elections, Hungary is more an underdeveloped country than a developing one with an insignificant geostrategic value for the United States of America as well as NATO. Yet, this relative insignificance does not mean that Viktor Orban’s Hungary cannot pose a serious threat to the unity of NATO and the European Union by the way of emerging Chinese and Russian penetrations.
The United States of America in particular has the opportunity to take an active and effective stand against what Viktor Orban has been doing and would attempt to do in the future. The Biden administration could convey to the Hungarian government its objections to the hardening of authoritarianism, its shameless corruption and its demonization of the opposition. Moreover, the Biden administration could communicate its displeasure over the Hungarian situation internationally. In this context, the White House and the State Department could utilize the written and electronic media to expose Viktor Orban’s destructive, irrational and immoral regime in its entirety. Finally, President Biden should warn Viktor Orban in no uncertain terms that the continuation of his anti-NATO as well as anti-European Union policies would further perpetuate his status as an outcast within both organizations.
Time is of the essence. The White House must take the lead to state unequivocally that the member states of NATO and the European Union will not stand for Viktor Orban’s anti-Western political vandalism. Viktor Orban’s vaingloriousness aside, Washington, D.C. and Brussels cannot afford the kind of disruption to their core interests and fragile unity that he and his regime represent. The threat of Chinese and Russian penetration of NATO and the European Union, coupled with a burgeoning regional instability by Viktor Orban’s destructive chauvinism, makes the Hungarian situation absolutely untenable for the West. For this reason, the situation in Hungary must be met now with an urgent coordinated response from the community of free nations. In closing, Viktor Orban must be shown the soccer’s red card by the leaders of NATO and the European Union that stands for the sending-off from the field of players who exhibit violent and illegal conduct or purposeful obstruction of a goal scoring opportunity for the opposing team. By doing so, the Free World could demonstrate its resolve to assist every member state that lost its way to full democracy to find its path back to political, economic and moral well-being.
The Biden Administration serves up complacency in the face of deterioration.
Joe Biden’s handlers and media friends continue to delude nobody but themselves that his legacy will land him in the history books alongside FDR and LBJ as a beloved, era-defining Progressive hero. His supposedly moderate priorities—infrastructure, family policy, and voting “rights”—have readily been exposed as deceitful partisanship and wasteful graft, and laden with power grabs so objectionable a senator of his own party had to distance himself to save face.
Further complicating his aspirational legacy, Biden is beholden to an eye-popping amount of dark money from leftist sources that propelled him to the White House in the first place. A careerist chameleon who knows the ultimate currency of the Washington favor economy is obedience to donors, he is obligated to indulge fringe priorities so repellent to the public that anti-police interest groups begged the White House to dial them back. Even with his public image plummeting from the self-made border crisis—now on pace to allow over 2 million illegal immigrants to enter and stay in the country every year—Biden acquiesced to bullying from activist groups (and NGOs whose lucrative business models depend on the public funding associated with high volumes of immigration) and raised the annual refugee cap.
As Biden’s early months lurched from one failure to stand up for our country to the next, it became clear that he is indeed era-defining, but not in the way his consiglieres would have hoped. Weak and negligent, derelict in the most basic duties a leader has to his people, licking ice cream to delight reporters as his homeland falls apart, Joe Biden is happily at your service as the concierge of decline.
The leader of the Free World routinely confounds with public with gibberish and outlandish assertions that the national press pretends not to notice. Last week, he attributed lower vaccination rates among black Americans to traumatic memories of “the Tuskegee Airmen,” apparently conflating the subjects of an infamous experiment conducted at the Tuskegee Institute with the squadron of World War II Army pilots. One day prior, he delivered a meandering disavowal of the Second Amendment, dismissing it as a gratuitous formality by insinuating the government could simply deploy “nuclear weapons” against rebellious armed citizens. The public, beseeched by the press to view Biden’s regime of managed decline as a return to normalcy, could be forgiven for wondering whether successful stewardship of a nation typically involves overt rationalizations for nuking one’s own citizens.
Essential elements of nationhood, including our borders, rule of law, energy pipelines, and food supply chains are disintegrating. Biden routinely appears apathetic, croaking “no comment” when a cyberattack took 45 percent of the East Coast’s energy supply offline—a response so lethargic it may have emboldened the cybercriminals who downed countless American facilities operated by the world’s largest beef supplier a few weeks later. With a resource as crucial as the food supply at risk, and minimal discussion on how to guarantee protection from such threats in the future, the White House again responded in almost ludicrously diffident fashion, weakly insisting they were “delivering a message” to Russia that if the hackers originated with them, that was very naughty indeed. The diplomatic decorum of managed decline forbids advocating too vociferously for our country’s interests. As its primary practitioner, Biden travelled halfway across the world to meet Vladimir Putin at the G7, handing over a list detailing our critical infrastructure sectors and politely requesting that he be kind enough not to hack those.
Back home, his staff obfuscates the fact that inflation is rising faster than nominal wages—meaning real wages are declining—and dismisses the higher prices burdening small businesses and families as a public relations inconvenience, even releasing a statement instructing the public to stop blaming them for high gas prices. Cities across the country are plagued with stomach-churning random assaults and open-air drug bazaars to such a degree the Democrats’ traditional media apologists are nervously signaling they cannot furnish effective propaganda to stave off a political backlash. Microchip shortages are roiling auto manufacturing and necessitating layoffs. In the face of record drug overdose deaths, his administration is offering subsidized drug paraphernalia to facilitate addicts’ injection of deadly narcotics. As the border crisis continues, the federal government rewards illegal border crossers with taxpayer-funded plane tickets to destinations across the country. Meanwhile, for citizens, the Biden administration is fixated on maximizing extractive, redistributive, and vengeful policies to “address” abstractions such as climate change, systemic racism, and the intelligence community’s latest absurd fiction designed to increase their budget, “terrorism from white supremacy.”
Despite his media portrayal as a great uniter, Biden cynically embraces talking points to divide Americans by race, encouraging citizens to blame each other for difficulties getting ahead instead of the destructive effects of policies he spent half a century voting for and now aims to revive. A long-time proponent of trade policies that dismantled our industrial base—sending millions of working-class jobs abroad—and of unfairly flooding the labor market with foreign workers, he appears committed to the belief that the inevitable decline in economic opportunity afflicting Americans of all races was in fact due to insufficient commitment to those policies instead of the other way around. Deploying theories of “systemic inequities” is a convenient pre-emptive strike for a man whose administration is officially forecasting economic decline.
In a demonstration of the sincerity of his administration’s commitment to black Americans’ success, his appointees congratulate themselves for frivolous interventions such as banning menthol cigarettes, but have little interest in addressing the fact that our public school system graduates a mere 7 percent of black 12th graders proficient in math. In fact, Biden’s most definitive contribution to the pitiful state of public education has been to assert in his State of the Union address that, when it comes to public education, “12 years is no longer enough” and “that’s why my American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America.” Our concierge of decline does not demand higher-quality education—rather, he instructs Americans to spend four more years of their lives with the government’s educators, devoid of any obligation to the public to improve.
Such complacency in the face of deterioration is not only dysfunctional, but dangerous. Our adversaries are well aware: China’s delegation humiliated Biden’s Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to their faces on our own soil, asserting, “the United States does not have the qualification to say it wants to speak to China from a position of strength.”
To many Americans, the Biden Decline feels distinctly wrong. Do leaders who love their country typically stand idly by while so many urgent problems accumulate for their citizens? A president who supplants his obligations to the people with wildly impractical ideological fixations does not seem motivated to steward our country to success. He seems intent on ushering in an era of weakness that puts our country’s safety, prosperity, and future at risk. The American people are resilient, but the lengths to which our leaders have gone to subvert our country’s strength will require serious course-correction to return to fighting weight.