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The Left Got What It Wanted—So Now What?

There is no schadenfreude in seeing the Left destroy everything it touches—because its claws tear all of us as well.

By Victor Davis HansonAmerican Greatness

What was the purpose for the insane opposition of the Left between 2017 and 2021? To usher in a planned nihilism, an incompetent chaos, a honed anarchy to wreck the country in less than a year?

Then

No sooner had Donald Trump entered office than scores of House Democrats filed motions for impeachment, apparently for thought crimes that he might, some day, in theory, could possibly commit.

Foreign Policy published an article by a liberal Obama Administration lawyer outlining all the ways to remove an elected president as soon as possible—including consideration of a military coup. 

The FBI and the entrenched bureaucrats at the Justice Department continued their prior failed efforts during the campaign to seed the lies of the fabricated Steele dossier and Fusion GPS. A 22-month-long and $40 million hoax ended with the special counsel himself, a doddering Robert Mueller, swearing under oath that he essentially knew nothing about the dossier or Fusion GPS—the twin catalysts that had prompted his very own investigation. 

Fired FBI Director James Comey—a lion on Twitter, and a lamb when under oath—on over 240 occasions testified to the Congress that he either did not know or could not remember, when asked details about the collusion fraud that the philosopher G-man had helped perpetuate. 

No one worried about the weaponization of government. So, we went right from the nefarious legacy of John Brennan (who lied under oath to Congress twice), James Clapper (who lied under oath to Congress once), James Comey (who leaked confidential presidential memos), Andrew McCabe (who gave false testimony to federal investigators), Lisa Page (who was fired from the special counsel’s legal team for various unprofessional conduct), Peter Strzok (about whom there is not enough space to detail his transgressions), and the now convicted felon Kevin Clinesmith onto the next round of impeachments. 

Two of them followed. Neither was conducted by a special counsel. There was no array of witnesses, no prosecutorial report. Much less were there formal charges of a specific high crime or misdemeanor, or bribery or treason, as specified by the Constitution. 

In the end, both farces ended in trials—but not before the Left had established lots of baleful precedents. Impeachment is now simply a tool to embarrass a president in his first term when he has lost the House. A Senate trial could hound an innocent president, even as a private citizen out of office. And a chief justice need not preside over the Senate trial. If and when Joe Biden loses the House, the Left should applaud any attempt to impeach him—given it established the new model of opposition.

Of the January 6 debacle, we were not told that it was a riot involving lawbreakers who would be punished. Instead, we were lied to that it was an “armed insurrection,” a “coup,” and “a rebellion” of massive proportions. 

Our esteemed retired military and civil libertarians who had damned the mere thought of using federal troops to quell the prior four summer months of continuous rioting were suddenly happy to see 25,000 federal soldiers patrol Washington to hound out fantasy second-wave insurrectionists. In Animal Farm fashion, there were now to be good federal troops deterring mythical violent domestic extremists, but bad federal troops who should never stop real, ongoing mayhem in the streets.

It mattered nothing that “armed” in the case of January 6 meant that no firearms were used or even found among the protestors. No one was charged with conspiracy, insurrection, or racketeering. But many were placed in solitary confinement without specific charges being filed—to the utter delight of liberal groups like the ACLU and human rights organizations.

The FBI—recently known mostly for spreading Hillary Clinton’s campaign collusion hoax—found no premeditated grand plot. The remaining media narratives were also untrue: Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick was not murdered, but died tragically of a stroke the next day. Five persons were not “killed.” Four who died were Trump supporters. Only one of the five deaths occurred at the hand of a known other—a 14-year military veteran, unarmed, 110-pound female Ashli Babbitt. She was fatally shot while attempting to enter through a window of the Capitol by a law-enforcement officer—to the frequent approbation of the left-wing commentariat. The officer’s name was hidden for months from the public—something conspicuously uncharacteristic in other cases where law enforcement officers are involved in shooting unarmed suspects. 

Videos surrounding the entire melee still have been repressed. They likely will never be released. That infamous day remains in dire contrast to the prior 120 days of continuous rioting, looting, and arson. In the election-year summer 2020, federal courthouses and iconic buildings were torched. Nearly $2 billion worth of property was destroyed and 28 were killed. 

Yet current Vice President Kamala Harris rallied the public to help bail out the arrested. And the architect of the “1619 Project” reassured Americans that crimes against property like arson and looting are not really violence per se. The weeks of “spontaneous” mayhem magically vanished after November 3, 2020. Note that esteemed medical professionals argued that BLM protestors who flooded the streets were exempt from quarantine, social distancing, and mask requirements, given their higher morality. There are now good riots and bad ones, and noble sustained silence about a noble officer who lethally shoots an unarmed suspect, and noble immediate outing of an ignoble officer who lethally shoots an unarmed suspect.

These were merely the main media distortions and fixations over the last four years. We forget the daily craziness such as a president’s calls to foreign heads of state routinely leaked or the FBI director passing on confidential memos of private presidential conversations to the liberal press, or the “whistleblower” who was not a whistleblower as much as a Democratic operative. The media nadir came when the press bellowed that Trump had overfed a fish.

An array of retired four-stars damned their president as Hitlerian, Mussolini-like, and deserving an early exit from office. Their superior morality naturally excused them from abiding by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

The New York Times falsely identified a minor Trump Administration bureaucrat (“anonymous”) as a major conservative truth-teller—once he thrilled the media by lying that a large, morally superior, inside cabal was devoted to obstructing the implementation of a president’s orders. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to an active FBI lawyer bragged of joining the “Resistance,” with plenty of conspiratorial retro-accusations that the 2016 election was “rigged.”

All that was a warm-up for the plague year in which Donald Trump was blamed for every COVID death. His medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci was deified, due largely to his coy opposition to the president he was supposed to serve. 

Both the current president and vice president had, less than a year ago, urged Americans not to be vaccinated, given their own reluctance to take a “Trump” vaccine. At least the anti-vaxxers had consistent opposition to the experimental inoculations; in contrast, the anti-Trumper anti-vaxxers merely saw sabotaging the 2020 vaccination program as necessary to be in a position to claim it as their own in 2021.

Now

What did all that madness achieve? Mostly, the first election in U.S. history in which over 100 million ballots were not cast on Election Day. Strangely, with such an avalanche of ballots, the usual error rate of absentee balloting dived from around 2-4 percent to 0.2-0.4 percent. You see, when we suddenly must count tens of millions more paper ballots then it becomes easier, not harder, to spot errors.

So, the Left won its Pyrrhic victory. 

The nation was done with the demonized Trump and now the Left controlled the presidency, and both houses of Congress. Somnolent Ol’ Joe Biden from Scranton pledged to heal the nation as he overturned his predecessor’s supposedly disastrous policies and went on a rampage of slandering his opponents. If Donald Trump was once damned as non compos mentis, the same media and academic accusers kept mum as Biden shuffled, fell, went mute, slurred words, and went off on angry, disjointed, and incoherent riffs.

What followed was a concerted effort to destroy the Trump record: the greatest level of combined annual natural gas and oil production in any nation’s history, record low minority unemployment and near record peacetime, general unemployment, a border secure and illegal immigration finally under control, and a New Middle East in which Israel and its Arab enemies concluded neutrality pacts. China was put on notice for its past mockery of global norms. Inflation was low, growth was good. “Stagflation” was still a rarely remembered word from the past.

And again, what was all that Pavlovian nihilism to achieve?

Within eight months the following was finalized: Joe Biden utterly destroyed the idea of a border. Some 2 million were scheduled to cross illegally in the current fiscal year. The sheer inhumanity of deplorable conditions at the border surpassed any notion of the “cages” Donald Trump, in fact, had inherited from the humanitarian Barack Obama. 

A war almost immediately broke out in the Middle East, once Biden distanced the United States from Israel and rebooted the radical Palestinian cause. 

The Taliban defeated the 20-year effort of the United States in Afghanistan, in the most humiliating withdrawal of the American military in over 45 years. Tens of billions of dollars of abandoned military equipment now arm the Taliban and have turned Afghanistan into a world arms mart for terrorists. Iran is emboldened and speeds up its nuclear proliferation efforts. China brags that the United States has been Afghanistanized and will not defend its allies, Taiwan in particular. 

At home, gas prices have soared. Prior trillion-dollar deficits now seem financially prudent in comparison to multitrillion-dollar red ink. The nation is more racially polarized than at any time in the last half-century. A bleak and venomous woke creed has outdone the hate and fear of the McCarthyism of the 1950s, as it wages war on half the nation for various thought crimes and the incorrect idea that the United States was, is, and always will be a kind and humane place.

More will likely have died each day from COVID by year’s end during the Biden first 12 months than during Trump’s last 12 months. That statistic perhaps might have been meaningless had Biden himself not demagogued the idea that a president is strangely responsible for all pandemic deaths on his watch. 

But then again, Biden had warped the pandemic narrative only after he had inherited the Trump vaccination program (17 million vaccinated by Inauguration Day). Biden was wrongly and prematurely convinced that vaxxes were a permanent prophylaxis to any sort of COVID variants that would simply disappear once he took office. Depending on the occasion, Biden claims none, or just 4 million, were vaxxed until he took office, as truth and fantasies waft through his cloudy cognition.

With Biden came not just woke polarization, stagflation, a subsidized ennui that erodes the work ethic, and selective nonenforcement of existing laws: Worse, still, we got a bankrupt ideological defense of these insanities. Critical legal theory, critical race theory, and a new monetary theory were all dreamed up by parlor academics to justify the nihilism. 

Did America ever believe that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would trash his commander in chief as Hitlerian to journalist hitmen, or allegedly denounce news organizations as “terrorists,” or interrupt the chain of command on a prompt by the Speaker of the House, or warn the Chinese military that he believed there was enough instability in the White House to justify a promise to warn of any impending U.S. military action against Beijing deemed offensive? Was General Milley suffering from the very “white rage” he sought to ferret out?

With Biden, China is now omnipresent in the halls of power. A task of our chief COVID advisor, Anthony Fauci, seems to be to deny repeatedly that his stealthy funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan virology lab in China had anything to do with the likely accidental release of a likely human engineered and energized coronavirus. Americans still cannot even imagine that their government might have helped subsidize the plague germ that has wrought such havoc upon them.

Meanwhile the president’s son still owns a 10 percent cut in a communist Chinese government-affiliated financial venture, apparently due to his prior drug-addled record of financial mismanagement. The media still insists Hunter Biden’s laptop was “Russian disinformation,” while his paint-by-numbers art is auctioned off to foreign lobbyists expecting a return of the old days when Hunter and Joe grandly arrived on Air Force Two to do their bidding. 

What did the Left leave as the proper model for conservatives now to deal with Biden? 

Impeach him when he loses the House? Get a special counsel, lavish said counsel with $40 million, a dream team of right-wing lawyers, and 22 months to find real Chinese collusion? 

Start seeding a conservative version of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and an “anonymous” whistleblower inside the Biden octopus? 

Get retired four-star generals on TV to swear Biden is a Chinese “asset,” or have them retweet the idea of sending Biden supporters to China, or swear that he is a fascist? Bring back Woodward and Bernstein to find out whether Biden, Inc. ever paid taxes on all that Chinese and Ukrainian cash? 

Call in the ubiquitous Dr. Bandy X. Lee from Yale to administer the Montreal Cognitive Assessment to prove that Biden can distinguish a camel from an elephant or a train from a bike or count backwards from five? 

Will the Right prod General Mark Milley’s replacement to collude with soon-to-be Speaker Kevin McCarthy and call the Russians to warn them that Biden is demented, democracy is “messy,” Kamala Harris is crazy, and thus Moscow might need a warning from us about any Biden preemptive aggression?

And what of the people who voted for this change and the media that empowered it? In the latest Quinnipiac poll, known for its liberal affinities, Biden now earns a 38 percent approval rating. We should add a few extra negative points given media bias. Do they suffer buyer’s remorse or angst that they were lied to by the hard Left that Joe Biden was cognizant and not a mere vessel for a two-year push for overt socialism?

Meanwhile the media is reduced to explaining why an undocumented activist has an understandable right to chase a liberal Democratic senator into a public restroom, hector her, and then video her as she enters a stall to relieve herself and then post the grotesqueness on the internet—a felony in the state of the Arizona, though just part of the “process” for the president of the United States.

We could call the above insanity nemesis for woke hubris. Or maybe it is karma, “payback’s a bitch,” or “what goes around comes around.” But there is no schadenfreude in seeing the Left destroy everything it touches—because its claws tear all of us as well.


The Leadership Deficit Doom Loop

American decline is not fated—unless our leaders make it so

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Joe Biden
Getty Images

Bleak days. The border, murder rates, inflation, Afghanistan, the pandemic—things are not going well. The president’s job approval rating continues its slide. Congress squabbles over government funding, debt ceilings, and budget reconciliation, while pundits argue over whether, in the words of one prominent historian, “The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into red and blue enclaves.”

These words horrify. Are they accurate? The degradation of public morality, evident in scenes of fanatics chasing U.S. senators into restrooms and chanting obscenities at a presidential motorcade, suggests they might be. The empirical data do too. The University of Virginia Center for Politics and Project Home Fire’s recent surveys of Joe Biden voters and Donald Trump voters revealed a profound distrust between the two camps. The pollsters went looking for common ground, only to find it in the 41 percent of Biden voters and 51 percent of Trump voters favoring some form of secession and disunion. The idea of a “national divorce” has traveled from the fever swamps to the social network (the distance is short).

The question of how to avoid coruscating polarization and political violence ought to be at the center of public debate—especially after the events at the Capitol on January 6, and especially for individuals who profess support for law and order, individual liberty, and America’s constitutional structure. The trouble is that most discussions of keeping America from coming apart are themselves built around totalizing and apocalyptic presuppositions.

The alternatives on offer: Either the election reforms favored by Democrats become law or authoritarian rule will descend on America; either the $4.5 trillion Build Back Better Agenda becomes law or Trump will turn this country into Hungary; either Republicans win in 2022 and 2024 or some combination of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Dr. Anthony Fauci will impose Marxist rule. Not only are these choices hyperbolic and false. They amplify the very antagonisms they seek to reduce by suggesting that the only way out of our dilemma is for one side to enjoy complete victory.

Just when politics is most in need of a cooling-off period, interested parties have upped the stakes of politics to national, civilizational, and, for some, global survival. And when survival is your primary end, you are tempted to use any means to achieve it. Even extrajudicial ones. The task of the moment is to persuade Americans that the set of rules and guidelines set forth in the Constitution allows them to deal with America’s problems. “Structural” change, from either the left or the right, is unnecessary.

The “fight” must be redirected toward the everyday challenges of American citizens, not the symbolic battles that play out each night on cable news. The agents of change must be real people, building and participating in real institutions, concerned with the real wellsprings of human flourishing, such as family, community, and faith. Trolls and bots engaging in virtual flame wars and inciting social media mobs do not improve the situation. They ruin it.

We have spent so many years analyzing what brought America to this impasse that we have forgotten to think seriously—that is, to consider programs of action that might not confirm our biases—about how to get out of it. We have forgotten the importance of human agency, of leadership. Leaders motivate the public, define options, set the agenda, and model standards of behavior. They are meant to inspire confidence. Our leaders are no help.

We are caught in a leadership deficit doom loop. Our elected officials cater to the most agitated and unruly members of their coalition. They limit their imaginations. They frame their agendas around the mistaken assumption that electoral victories are ideological mandates. They are not role models. Nor do they earn our confidence—unless we are the marks in a confidence game.

Our political leaders are stale. They are calcified. It cannot be a coincidence that since 2017 the presidents of “Late Soviet America” have been septuagenarians, the country’s oldest two chief executives, respectively. It cannot be an accident that as writers for the New York Times assert that America has entered “terminal decline” the speaker of the House of Representatives is 81 years old, her deputy is 82 (!), and the party whip is 81. The majority leader of the Senate, sprightly by comparison, is 70 years old. The culture war is at least 53 years old. Critical Race Theory traces its roots to the 1970s. The hysteria and conspiracies that accompany disease are as old as pandemics themselves. We are in a race between incompetent or irrational leadership and social peace. The inept and crazed are winning.

It needn’t be so. The public responds to cues. The people rally behind common-sense measures confidently stated. They’ve done so before. They will do so again. To break the leadership deficit doom loop, American leaders must self-confidently make the case for union, for moderation, for manners, for peace. And they ought to do it with a self-deprecating sense of humor. Because right now we all could use a laugh—not at someone else’s expense, but our own.


To save America’s cities, it is time to be bold

By Peter RoffSCNOW

When it comes down to it, many of the significant problems associated with the COVID pandemic resulted from a failure of imagination. Many of the nation’s best thinkers, having been surprised by the outbreak and the extent and speed of its spread, seemed to fear certain potential outcomes so much they froze.

The proper response is not timidity or inaction. Success tends to favor the bold, which suggests that the nation’s business and political and scientific leadership should have been exploring and experimenting with ways to keep the economy open, rather than shut it down.

The lockdowns that far too many embraced as the way to stop the disease from spreading produced adverse consequences that will be with us for some time. They did not stop COVID from spreading – indeed, it is still with us, continuing to mutate as most viruses do.

Health concerns aside, the lockdowns were economically and socially harmful. They put people out of work, enforced isolation, hampered the learning experience vital to our children’s future, and decimated many of the nation’s vital urban centers. Even though the U.S. economy is generally in recovery, our commercial centers, which had perhaps been hit harder than the rest of the nation because of their population density, do not seem to be coming back as quickly as other parts of the country.

There are ways to deal with this, both good and bad. What’s called for now are imaginative solutions to help urban areas rebuild quickly, that promote greater flexibility in the way space is used, and develop communities of which people want to be a part.

To put our cities back to work means changing the way we think about them. We cannot allow the urban rot that began in the late 1960s in so many major American cities to take root once again, displacing decades of progress that has been made in bringing our metropolises back from the brink. For that reason, rather than looking at downtowns and seeing them as they are, with 70 to 80 percent of real estate dedicated to office space, we need to be thinking of what they can become, even if the changes in the workforce and work habits become permanent.

The Revitalizing Downtowns Act, proposed by a handful of Democrats in Washington, would provide a tax credit equal to 20 percent of conversion expenses for developers seeking to repurpose vacant or obsolete office space into something new.

This is the right approach to transform declining business districts heavily devoted to office space. Repurposed urban towers renovated for mixed-use could become vibrant communities of their own, with people living and working and shopping and engaging in entertainment pursuits side by side without having to cross the sidewalk.

Conversion can be expensive and difficult. Incentivizing them in the tax code will make them more frequent. The Revitalizing Downtowns Act would provide a credit equal to the qualified expenses when converting vacant office buildings into small businesses or new apartments, including affordable housing — thus opening downtown and small businesses to more people and varying income levels.

The incentive approach works. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act again proved it, with the reduction in corporate tax rates fueling a hiring boom that reduced unemployment — especially among women, black teens, and other minorities — to some of the lowest levels ever recorded. People who have money don’t like to hide it in their mattresses, they like to put it to work. That’s, at least in part, how economic growth happens.

America’s cities are in crisis. The lockdowns, the recent riots, and the way Americans are changing in the age of the internet have come together in a way that forces us to make a choice. Do we want them to fall? Or do we want them to rise to become greater than they already are while restoring the vitality that once made them places people wanted to be?


The Drossy Touch of Joe Biden

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.

By Victor Davis HansonAmerican Greatness

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.

The Afghan Catastrophe

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!” 

The Inflation Fiasco

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?

The Border Disaster

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. 

Energy Insufficiency

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?

The Race Calamity

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?

The Crime Explosion

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!”


Retirement Fund Balances Hit All Time High – Creating a Target for the Tax Hikers

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Photo by Gage Skidmore

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. 


CDC’s New Eviction Moratorium Just as Flawed as the Original, Lawsuit Claims

By Luther Ray AbelNational Review

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. (Tami Chappell/Reuters)

It was July 29, and the rent was coming due for tenants all over the country. That is, until it wasn’t. Pressed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the Biden White House turned to the CDC to extend the eviction moratorium to October 3 of this year. 

The White House maintains that this is not an extension of existing nationwide policy but a new, “targeted” moratorium. Housing groups aren’t buying it, irate with what they see as government overreach and a rebranding of the same policies that saw many landlords go months without collecting enough rent to break even on managed properties. One of those groups, the Alabama Association of Realtors, is challenging the order in court.

The CDC’s latest program, instead of being a blanket nationwide moratorium, uses a region’s COVID-19 infection status as the deciding factor for whether it qualifies. With this adjustment, the administration is attempting to disconnect the “new” moratorium from the past one, which came under intense legal scrutiny. 

The former moratorium survived until July 31 only because Justice Kavanaugh thought a premature death for the policy would not “allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds.” He wrote that the only way a moratorium could pass muster thereafter was if there were “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation).”

Pundits and activists on the right and left have predicted the Biden administration may find it exceedingly difficult to argue this moratorium’s new and unique aspects relative to the last. 

According to Luke Wake of the Pacific Legal Foundation, defenders of the most recent moratorium “are relying on the very same flawed statutory authority that they have since pronouncing the eviction moratorium last September. The only difference being that instead of a blanket, nationwide moratorium, they would only cover 90 percent of the country. But because they rely on the same supposed authority, their actions are still unlawful.” All Our Opinion in Your Inbox

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Individuals familiar with the plaintiffs’ strategy agreed with Wake, telling National Review that there’s little in the new order to meaningfully differentiate it from its predecessor. The sources pointed out that the new order retains the five eligibility requirements included in the initial moratorium, adding just the one, COVID-dependent, additional requirement.

Legal reaction to the CDC’s pronouncement is moving swiftly, explained Wake: 

Now that the Government has renewed the moratorium order in apparent defiance of Kavanaugh’s warning, the Alabama Realtors have sought again to lift the stay in their case so that landlords can begin evicting. The Government was ordered [by the DC Circuit] to respond by the end of [Friday] to that emergency petition. If it’s granted, then that’s a big deal for landlords. If it’s denied, then we can assume they will immediately appeal to the DC Circuit and might very well be before the Supreme Court again quickly.

Kavanaugh granted grace to the CDC, stipulating any extensions would require legislative action. By circumventing him now, the Biden White House risks the Supreme Court’s wrath. Sources were confident that the CDC would not find Kavanaugh nearly as deferential to the government attorneys should they find themselves before him in court again. 

Those familiar with the suit expect that sometime early this week, perhaps even Monday, D.C. District Court judge Dabney Friedrich will make a ruling, with a high probability that it lands in favor of the Alabama Realtors. It would then be on the government to appeal the case to higher courts.

Monday, August 9, had both sides’ attorneys before Judge Friedrich answering her questions and pleading their cases. She chose not to rule immediately, instead taking the case under consideration.

While not on the national radar at the moment, Wake shared two other cases that may soon be part of the conversation, Brown in Georgia, Chambless in Louisiana. 

Wake estimated the Fifth Circuit would get to his firm’s case (Chambless) around October. A delay, but he figures the CDC will extend the rent moratorium during the winter months, meaning Chambless may be before the Supreme Court by year’s end. 


The Dangers of Endless Quantitative Easing

With growth so uncertain, it is understandable that central banks would be wary of beginning to taper monthly bond purchases before it is clear that inflation has taken off. But they would do well to recognize that prolonging quantitative easing implies significant risks, too.

By RAGHURAM G. RAJANProject Syndicate

rajan71_ Win McNameeGetty Images_quantitative easing
Win McNameeGetty Images

Inflation readings in the United States have shot up in recent months. Labor markets are extremely tight. In one recent survey, 46% of small-business owners said they could not find workers to fill open jobs, and a net 39% reported having increased their employees’ compensation. Yet, at the time of this writing, the yield on ten-year Treasury bonds is 1.24%, well below the ten-year breakeven inflation rate of 2.4%. At the same time, stock markets are flirting with all-time highs. 

Something in all this does not add up. Perhaps the bond markets believe the US Federal Reserve when it suggests that current inflationary pressures are transitory and that the Fed can hold policy interest rates down for an extended period. If so, growth – bolstered by pent-up savings and the additional government spending currently being negotiated in Congress – should be reasonable, and inflation should remain around the Fed’s target. The breakeven inflation rate also seems to be pointing to this scenario. 

But that doesn’t explain why the ten-year Treasury rate is so low, suggesting negative real rates over the next decade. What if it is right? Perhaps the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant will prompt fresh lockdowns in developed countries and damage emerging markets even more. Perhaps more nasty variants will emerge. And perhaps the negotiations in Congress will break down, with even the bipartisan infrastructure bill failing to pass. In this scenario, however, it would be hard to justify the stock-market buoyancy and breakeven inflation rate. 

One common factor driving up both stock and bond prices (thus lowering bond yields) could be asset managers’ search for yield, owing to the conditions created by extremely accommodative monetary policies. This would explain why the prices of stocks (including “meme stocks”), bonds, cryptocurrencies, and housing are all a little frothy at the same time. 

To those who care about sound asset prices, Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s announcement last week that the economy had made progress toward the point where the Fed might end its $120 billion monthly bond-buying program was good news. Phasing out quantitative easing (QE) is the first step toward monetary-policy normalization, which itself is necessary to alleviate the pressure on asset managers to produce impossible returns in a low-yield environment. 

The beginning of the end of QE would not please everyone, though. Some economists see a significant downside to withdrawing monetary accommodation before it is clear that inflation has taken off. Gone is the old received wisdom that if you are staring inflation in the eyeballs, it is already too late to beat it down without a costly fight. Two decades of persistently low inflation have convinced many central bankers that they can wait. 

And yet, even if monetary policymakers are not overly concerned about high asset prices or inflation, they should be worried about another risk that prolonged QE intensifies: the government’s fiscal exposure to future interest-rate hikes. 

While government debt has soared, government interest payments remain low, and have even shrunk as a share of GDP in some countries over the last two decades. As such, many economists are not worried that government debt in advanced economies is approaching its post-World War II high. But what if interest rates start moving up as inflation takes hold? If government debt is around 125% of GDP, every percentage-point increase in interest rates translates into a 1.25 percentage-point increase in the annual fiscal deficit as a share of GDP. That is nothing to shrug at. With interest rates normally rising by a few percentage points over the course of a business cycle, government debt can quickly become stressful. 

To this, thoughtful economists might respond, “Wait a minute! Not all the debt has to be rolled over quickly. Just look at the United Kingdom, where the average term to maturity is about 15 years.” True, if debt maturities were evenly spread out, only around one-fifteenth of the UK debt would have to be refinanced each year, giving the authorities plenty of time to react to rising interest rates. 

But that is no reason for complacency. The average maturity for government debt is much lower in other countries, not least the US, where it is only 5.8 years. Moreover, what matters is not the average debt maturity (which can be skewed by a few long-dated bonds), but rather the amount of debt that will mature quickly and must be rolled over at a higher rate. Median debt maturity (the length of time by which half the existing debt will mature) is therefore a better measure of exposure to interest-rate-rollover risk. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, PS on Sunday

More to the point, one also must account for a major source of effective maturity shortening: QE. When the central bank hoovers up five-year government debt from the market in its monthly bond-buying program, it finances those purchases by borrowing overnight reserves from commercial banks on which it pays interest (also termed “interest on excess reserves”). From the perspective of the consolidated balance sheet of the government and the central bank (which, remember, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the government in many countries), the government has essentially swapped five-year debt for overnight debt. QE thus drives a continuous shortening of effective government debt maturity and a corresponding increase in (consolidated) government and central-bank exposure to rising interest rates. 

Does this matter? Consider the 15-year average maturity of UK government debt. The median maturity is shorter, at 11 years, and falls to just four years when one accounts for the QE-driven shortening. A one-percentage-point increase in interest rates would therefore boost the UK government’s debt interest payments by about 0.8% of GDP – which, the UK Office for Budget Responsibility notes, is about two-thirds of the medium-term fiscal tightening proposed over the same period. And, of course, rates could increase much more than one percentage point. 

As for the US, not only is the outstanding government debt much shorter in maturity than that of the UK, but the Fed already owns one-quarter of it. Clearly, prolonging QE is not without risks.


The Mark of Klain

Washington does well as the world falls apart

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

White House chief of staff Ron Klain and President Joe Biden/ Getty Images

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.


Luetkemeyer: Democrats’ Reckless, out of Control Inflation is Crushing America’s Small Businesses

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

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. 


Yellen to Pelosi: Congress Must Raise the U.S. Debt Limit

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy via Flickr

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Friday that unless Congress acted quickly to raise the statutory limit on the amount of money the federal government can borrow, she would be forced to “start taking certain additional extraordinary measures” to prevent the United States government from defaulting on its financial obligations. 

In a letter sent to Pelosi and other members of the congressional leadership in both parties, Yellen asserted that an increase or continued suspension of the debt limit “does not increase government spending, nor does it authorize spending for future budget proposals; it simply allows Treasury to pay for previously enacted expenditures.”

With just days to go before the statuary suspension of the debt limit ends at noon on July 31, the need for congressional action has already become a political football. Both parties are trying to use the issue on Capitol Hill to gain leverage over the other to either stop or move through to final passage several pieces of legislation that are a top priority for the Biden Administration.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Madam Speaker:

As you know, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 suspended the statutory debt limit through Saturday, July 31, 2021.  I am writing to inform you that beginning on Sunday, August 1, 2021, the outstanding debt of the United States will be at the statutory limit.  

Today, Treasury is announcing that it will suspend the sale of State and Local Government Series (SLGS) securities at 12:00 p.m. on July 30, 2021.  The suspension of SLGS sales will continue until the debt limit is suspended or raised.  If Congress has not acted to suspend or increase the debt limit by Monday, August 2, 2021, Treasury will need to start taking certain additional extraordinary measures in order to prevent the United States from defaulting on its obligations.   

Increasing or suspending the debt limit does not increase government spending, nor does it authorize spending for future budget proposals; it simply allows Treasury to pay for previously enacted expenditures.  The current level of debt reflects the cumulative effect of all prior spending and tax decisions, which have been made by Administrations and Congresses of both parties over time.  Failure to meet those obligations would cause irreparable harm to the U.S. economy and the livelihoods of all Americans.  Even the threat of failing to meet those obligations has caused detrimental impacts in the past, including the sole credit rating downgrade in the history of the nation in 2011.  This is why no President or Treasury Secretary of either party has ever countenanced even the suggestion of a default on any obligation of the United States.

The period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty due to a variety of factors, including the challenges of forecasting the payments and receipts of the U.S. government months into the future, exacerbated by the heightened uncertainty in payments and receipts related to the economic impact of the pandemic.  Given this, Treasury is not able to currently provide a specific estimate of how long extraordinary measures will last.  However, there are scenarios in which cash and extraordinary measures could be exhausted soon after Congress returns from recess.  For example, on October 1 alone, cash and extraordinary measures are expected to decrease by about $150 billion due to large mandatory payments, including a Department of Defense-related retirement and health care investment.

In recent years Congress has addressed the debt limit through regular order, with broad bipartisan support.  I respectfully urge Congress to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by acting as soon as possible.

It is highly unlikely members in either party will allow the deadline to be reached without reaching some kind of compromise agreement to forestall the U.S. defaulting on its debt. Such a move would, most economists agree, that even a technical default would put in motion a disruption in the global financial markets of what one economist called “a global disruption of unknown and unknowable proportions.” 

Such a collapse, which would provide China an ample boost in their campaign urging the replacement of the dollar as the global reserve currency, would likely be blamed on the Republicans. Fear that it might in turn limits the ability of spending restraint advocates to argue the deadline should be allowed to come and go unless reforms are made.

This game of economic chicken has been tried before, with the first one to blink generally considered the loser.


China’s Attacks on Tech Are a Losing Strategy in Cold War II

Forcing DiDi and Alibaba to toe the Communist Party line may help Xi build a police state but will stall the nation’s dynamic industry.

By Niall FergusonBloomberg

Fiddle Didi.
Fiddle Didi. Source: AFP/Getty Images

“Investors have to rethink the entire China structure,” David Kotok of Cumberland Advisers said last week. For Hong Kong, the One Country, Two Systems principle was “dead.”  As for the crackdown on some of the nation’s tech giants, the Beijing government’s treatment of Alibaba “is not a one-off. Neither is DiDi. Everything China touches must be viewed with suspicion.”

Wait, you’re saying that investing in the other side in the early phase of Cold War II might have been a bad idea? You’re telling me that “long totalitarianism” was not a smart trade?

For the past three years, I have been trying to persuade anyone who would listen that “Chimerica” — the symbiotic economic relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America, which I first wrote about in 2007 — is dead. The experience has taught me how hard it can be for an author to kill one of his own ideas and replace it with a new one. The facts change, but people’s minds — not so much.

Chimerica was the dominant feature of the global economic landscape from China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 to the global financial crisis that began in 2008. (I never expected the relationship to last, which was why I and my co-author Moritz Schularick came up with the word: Chimerica was a pun on “chimera.”)  At some point after that, as I have argued in Bloomberg Opinionpreviously, Cold War II began.

Unlike with a “hot” war, it is hard to say exactly when a cold war breaks out. But I think Cold War II was already underway — at least as far as the Chinese leader Xi Jinping was concerned — even before former President Donald Trump started imposing tariffs on Chinese imports in 2018. By the end of that year, the U.S. and China were butting heads over so many issues that cold war began to look like a relatively good outcome, if the most likely alternative was hot war.

Ideological division? Check, as Xi Jinping explicitly prohibited Western ideas in Chinese education and reasserted the relevance of Marxism-Leninism. Economic competition? Check, as China’s high growth rate continued to narrow the gap between Chinese and U.S. gross domestic product.  A technological race? Check, as China systematically purloined intellectual property to challenge the U.S. in strategic areas such as artificial intelligence. Geopolitical rivalry? Check, as China brazenly built airbases and other military infrastructure in the South China Sea. Rewriting history? Check, as the new Chinese Academy of History ensures that the party’s official narrative appears everywhere from textbooks to museums to social media. Espionage? Check. Propaganda? Check. Arms race? Check.

A classic expression of the cold war atmosphere was provided on July 1 by Xi’s speech to mark the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party: The Chinese people “will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or enslave us,” he told a large crowd in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. “Anyone who tries to do so shall be battered and bloodied from colliding with a great wall of steel forged by more than 1.4 billion Chinese people using flesh and blood.” This is language the like of which we haven’t heard from a Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

Most Americans could see this — public sentiment turned sharply negative, with three quarters of people expressing an unfavorable view of China in recent surveys. Many politicians saw it — containing China became just about the only bipartisan issue in Washington, with candidate Joe Biden seeking to present himself to voters as tougher on China than Trump. Yet somehow the very obvious trend toward cold war was ignored in the place that had most to lose from myopia. I am talking about Wall Street. Even as China was ground zero for a global pandemic, crushed political freedom in Hong Kong and incarcerated hundreds of thousands of its own citizens in Xinjiang, the money kept flowing from New York to Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

According to the Rhodium Group, China’s gross flows of foreign domestic investment to the U.S. in 2019 totaled $4.8 billion. But gross U.S. FDI flows to China were $13.3 billion. The pandemic did not stop the influx of American money into China. Last November, JPMorgan Chase & Co. spent $1 billion buying full ownership of its Chinese joint venture. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley became controlling owners of their Chinese securities ventures. Just about every major name in American finance did some kind of China deal last year.

And it wasn’t only Wall Street. PepsiCo Inc. spent $705 million on a Chinese snack brand. Tesla Inc. ramped up its Chinese production. There were also massive flows of U.S. capital into Chinese onshore bonds. Chinese equities, too, found American buyers. “From an AI chip designer whose founders worked at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to Jack Ma’s fast-growing and highly lucrative fintech unicorn Ant Group and cash cow mineral-water bottler Nongfu Spring Co., President Xi Jinping’s China has plenty to offer global investors,” my  Bloomberg opinion colleague Shuli Ren wrote last September.

Recent months have brought a painful reality check. On July 2, Chinese regulators announced an investigation into data security concerns at DiDi Global Inc., a ride-hailing group, just two days after its initial public offering. DiDi had raised $4.4 billion in the biggest Chinese IPO in the U.S. since Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s in 2014. No sooner had investors snapped up the stock than the Chinese internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, said the company was suspected of “serious violations of laws and regulations in collecting and using personal information.”

The cyberspace agency then revealed that it was also investigating two other U.S.-listed Chinese companies: hiring app BossZhipin, which listed in New York as Kanzhun Ltd. on June 11, and Yunmanman and Huochebang, two logistics and truck-booking apps run by Full Truck Alliance Co., which listed on June 22. Inevitably, this nasty news triggered a selloff in Chinese tech stocks. It also led several other Chinese tech companies abruptly to abandon their plans for U.S. IPOs, including fitness app Keep, China’s biggest podcasting platform, Ximalaya, and the medical data company LinkDoc Technology Ltd.

To add to the maelstrom, on Thursday Senators Bill Hagerty, a Tennessee Republican,  and Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether DiDi had misled U.S. investors ahead of its IPO. Also last week, U.S. tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google came under increased pressure from Hong Kong and mainland officials over doxxing, the practice of publishing private or identifying information about an individual online.

For several years, I have been told by numerous supposed experts on U.S.-China relations a) that a cold war is impossible when two economies are as intertwined as China’s and America’s and b) that decoupling is not going to happen because it is in nobody’s interest. But strategic decoupling has been China’s official policy for some time now. Last year’s crackdown on financial technology firms, which led to the sudden shelving of the Ant Group Co. IPO, was just one of many harbingers of last week’s carnage. 

The proximate consequences are clear. U.S.-listed Chinese firms will face growing regulatory pressure from Beijing’s new rules on variable interest entities as well as from U.S. delisting rules.

The VIE structure has long been used by almost all China’s major tech companies to bypass China’s foreign investment restrictions. However, on Feb. 7, the State Council’s Anti-Monopoly Committee issued new guidelines covering variable interest entities for the first time. Recognizing them as legal entities subject to domestic anti-monopoly laws has allowed regulators to impose anticompetition penalties on major VIEs, including Alibaba, Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Meituan. This new framework substantially increases risks to foreign investors holding American deposit receipts in the tech companies’ wholly foreign-owned enterprises. For example, Beijing could conceivably force VIEs to breach their contracts with their foreign-owned entities. In one scenario, subsidiaries of a Chinese variable interest entity that are deemed by Beijing to be involved in processing and storing critical data could be spun out from the VIE — just as Alibaba was reportedly forced to spin out payments subsidiary Alipay in 2010.

The stakes are high. There are currently 244 U.S.-listed Chinese firms with a total market capitalization of around $1.8 trillion, equivalent to almost 4% of the capitalization of the U.S. stock market.


Dispelling Two Objections To Free Trade

By David R. HendersonHoover Institution

FTC

In my recent Defining Ideas article titled “A Refresher Course on Free Trade,” I made the case for free trade. A large part of the economic case is that free trade makes people in the country that adopts it better off than if their government hadn’t adopted it. It makes imports cheaper, allows consumers to get a more varied range of goods, and causes labor and capital to be allocated to areas of the economy where they are most productive.

In the United States in recent years, there have been two main objections to free trade. The first is that when free or freer trade is introduced into a particular sector, producers in that sector, both owners of capital and laborers, will be worse off. Therefore, argue some of the people who make this point, either trade shouldn’t be liberalized or, at least, introduction of trade should be accompanied by government spending to compensate the losers. The second objection is that free trade benefits mainly the wealthy and does little for the workers who are living on the economic edge. The first objection is often true in the short run but almost always false in the long run; it also applies to any economic change whether that change is caused by international trade or purely domestic economic interactions; in short, the objection proves too much. The second objection is simply false.

Winners, Losers, and Compensation

In my earlier article, I pointed out that if the market for sugar were opened to unrestricted imports from other countries, the price of sugar in the United States would fall and US sugar producers would be hurt. That’s all true in the short run. In the long run, say ten years from now, it’s not clear that those who produce sugar now would be worse off then. Owners of capital would have had ten years in which to find alternate industries in which to invest and workers would have had ten years in which to find other jobs.

Still, ten years is a long time. Those who lose jobs can find others at lower wages but they might be employed at these lower wages for at least a few years before they build their skills and earn wages comparable to the ones they lost because of free trade. So one can understand why people who see the benefits of free trade want a government policy to subsidize the losers for a few years. Those who want such subsidies tend to focus on workers who lose their jobs but the same thinking would presumably apply to business owners, including shareholders, who suffer a wealth loss due to free trade.

There are a number of problems with such proposals, though. First, government is notoriously bad at targeting help to groups sorted by their particular circumstances. When politicians sense a gravy train coming, they tend to lobby their colleagues to include other groups and causes. We saw this with the initial Biden proposal for infrastructure. It included a large amount of money for activities that have never been considered to be infrastructure, activities like day care.

Second, there is nothing special about free trade. Indeed, in a large economy like that of the United States, most trade is not across borders but is between people within the US borders. In 2019, imports were about 14.6 percent of gross domestic product. That sounds high, and is high, but that number confirms that most trade in the United States is between and among people in the United States. When a new technology or even a new way of running a business helps consumers, it also destroys many businesses and hurts workers who lose their jobs or who must work at a lower pay to keep their jobs.

We don’t need to go back far to see such examples. When I taught in the business school at the University of Rochester in the late 1970s, some of my evening MBA students who worked at Kodak called it the “big yellow money machine.” Kodak was riding high on the technology that innovator George Eastman and his successors had created and perfected. But digital cameras in the 1980s and 1990s and, later, cell phones that got better and better at taking still shots and movies, virtually destroyed the market for Kodak’s product. It’s true that part of the causes was international trade in cell phones. But even without cell phones from other countries, US cell phone producers were plenty capable of competing Kodak into bankruptcy. 

Few of those who advocate compensating those who lose due to expanded trade across borders advocate compensating those who lose due to increased trade within borders. I hasten to add that I’m glad that they don’t. But the principle is the same.

Are the Rich the Main Gainers from International Trade?

In early 2016, UCLA professor Mark Kleiman wrote:

But the bottom line is that all of the gains, not merely from trade but from economic growth, have been concentrated in the hands of a relative few.

I was surprised when I read that. Historically, the opposite has been the case. Before considering recent history, let us turn to the famous repeal of the British Corn Laws, which happened in June 1846. The Corn Laws disallowed the import of wheat (which the British called corn) unless the domestic price of wheat hit a very high level. In practice this meant that imports of wheat were effectively banned. Because lower-income people spent a much higher percent of their income on food than higher-income people did, repeal of the Corn Laws helped low-income people disproportionately. Those who lost were primarily rich owners of agricultural land who, after 1846, had to face competition from other countries.

In a recent discussion to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the repeal of the Corn Laws, British historian Steve Davies of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London put it well. The successful popular campaign to repeal the Corn Laws, he observed,

fixed in the minds of the British working class in particular, right up to the present day, the profound belief that free trade is good for the poor and the working man and woman and that protectionism is basically a conspiracy by the rich and special interests to screw over the working class.

Now let’s turn to recent history, which is quite consistent with the nineteenth-century British history.

Although trade may hurt various low-income people in their role as competing workers, it helps lower-income people, as consumers, proportionally more than high-income people. The reason is that the particular goods that are traded tend to be those that are a larger proportion of a lower-income household’s income. Think about who shops at Walmart and where Walmart buys many of the items it sells. Lower-income people are disproportionately represented among Walmart shoppers and many of the items, typically low-end, that Walmart sells are imported, especially from China. In an article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, UCLA economist Pablo D. Fajgelbaum and Columbia University economist Amit K. Khandelwal lay out the facts about the gains from trade.

In correspondence with me about their findings, Professor Khandelwal considered the gains that would be captured by various income groups if prices for imports fell by 5 percent. For food, people at the 10th percentile—those whose income is below that of 90 percent of the population—would have an annual gain of 0.39 percent of income. People in the 90th percentile and 99th percentile, by contrast, would gain zero. Similarly, a 5 percent price cut for manufactured goods would raise real income for people at the 10th percentile by 0.81 percent and for people at the 90th and 99th percentile by only 0.22 percent and 0.10 percent, respectively.

In many cases, moreover, those who lost their jobs due to the opening of trade had had substantially higher incomes than the lower-income people who made out big from trade. Consider the case of clothing. The US economy lost 650,000 apparel jobs between 1997 and 2007, which was the period during which Chinese imports increased so rapidly. Not all of those people found jobs at a pay as high as they earned before. That’s the downside. The upside is that, with the increase in international trade, clothing became much cheaper. In his book The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Northwestern University economist Robert J. Gordon reports that between 1980 and 2013, clothing prices fell by an annual average of 2.6 percent. Compounded over the period from 1997 to 2007, that’s a 24 percent drop. The actual drop is probably even more because the opening to China brought down clothing prices annually even more quickly than the average annual drop from 1980 to 2013.

For 2019, the latest data available, households in the bottom two quintiles, which is about 53 million households, spent an average of $1,032 per year on clothing. That’s out of an average after-tax income of $22,591. So they spent 4.6 percent of their income on clothing. Because clothing prices fell over that time, they would have bought more clothing at the lower price. So we will understate their gain if we assume that they were insensitive to price and bought the same amount of clothing that they would have at the higher pre-expanded-trade price. Even assuming no further drop in clothing prices after 2103, the 24 percent drop in price was important for a household with such limited means. The clothing they would have bought in 1997 would have cost an inflation-adjusted amount of $1,358.  So the average family in the two bottom fifths of the income distribution saved $326 on clothing alone. Over 53 million households, that is a gain of about $17.3 billion. Assuming that the 650,000 people who lost their jobs lost as much as $10,000 each per year, which is probably an overestimate, their loss was $6.5 billion, which is less than 38 percent of the gain. Moreover, the average worker in a clothing factory in the United States, along with her or her family, almost certainly earned more than $22,591, the average income of the bottom two-fifths.

There may be other objections to free trade but two objections fail. First, even though some people lose in the short run when trade is made freer, almost everyone gains in the long run. Second, those who gain disproportionately from free trade are lower-income people, not higher-income people.


Viktor Orban’s Harum-Scarum China Gambit

By Dr. Miklos K. RadvanyiFrontiers of Freedom

On July 5, 2021, Nathan Law, a pro-democracy activist and politician of Hong Kong, published a Letter to Orban from his London exile in Politico.  In his Letter’s opening paragraph, Mr. Law states that “It’s difficult to imagine how somebody who battled against the brutal repression of a communist party at a young age could later become a staunch supporter of another.”  Then, he continues thus:  “Since assuming power in 2010, your growing intimacy with the Chinese government has made it difficult for the EU to put pressure on Beijing when it comes to human rights violations.  Hungary was the first EU country to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2012, paving the way for Beijing to export its authoritarian model to the world.  And in the years since, your country has served as China’s biggest defender in the EU.”

Nathan Law is absolutely correct.  The second son of an unskilled laborer who became the Communist party secretary at the local gravel mine, Viktor Orban used his personal hatred toward his cruel father to rebel against the Soviet occupation and the resulting one-party dictatorship.  Having entered public life on June 16, 1989, the day of the symbolic reburial of Imre Nagy the failed leader of the 1956 Revolution, Viktor Orban called at Budapest’s Heroes’ Square for free elections and the removal of the Soviet military from Hungarian soil.  

From there on, his journey in the discombobulated terrain of Hungarian politics has been marked by self-induced narcissistic turns in opposition, through leading between 1998 and 2002 an utterly inexperienced as well as woefully incompetent government that failed miserably within four years, to reestablishing the one-party dictatorship of the pre-1990 Hungary in its barely disguised oppression and all-encompassing corruption in his second reincarnation as Prime Minister.  As proof of his sickening egomania, Viktor Orban has repeatedly claimed that his 1989 speech was the reason for the Soviet Union to remove its military from Hungary.  Notwithstanding Viktor Orban’s laughable as well as baseless assertion, the decision about the retreat of the Soviet military was made years before his speech and the actual withdrawal of several military units was already ongoing or partially completed. 

Viktor Orban’s destructive transformation of Hungary from a developing democratic state to a neo-Communist fiefdom has come with a heavy price.  Viktor Orban has become politically a fatally wounded non-entity and personally a persona non grata within the European Union.  His Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto has only exacerbated Viktor Orban’s international misery.  Having proved himself more as a pompous amateur, Mr. Szijjarto has made Hungary with his grossly undiplomatic statements about President Biden and the Democrat Party in the United States of America unwelcome too.  As a result, the Viktor Orban-led Hungary has become a pariah in Washington, D.C. as well as in Brussels.

Thus, Viktor Orban’s epiphany from a young firebrand against Communist oppression to an egomaniacal monster has had its roots in his primitive communist upbringing and the related worshipping of power and money by persons who only knew hardships and destitutions in their miserable youth.  Naturally, so-called scholars like Dorit Gerva are talking and writing about “Orbanism” as a new ideology.  They are all badly mistaken.  For Viktor Orban ideology has always meant an interchangeable and disposable semi-intellectual garbage whose sole purpose has been to conceal his insatiable appetite for power and money.  Moreover, for people with Viktor Orban’s mentality, countries or individuals do not count as supreme political and humanistic values.  Consequently, for Viktor Orban democracy with its glorification of individual rights and its protection of personal freedoms is meaningless platitudes that must be continuously attacked and decisively rejected.  For these reasons, the combination of his ostracism by the leaders of  NATO and the European Union and his personal inclination toward authoritarianism, moving closer to China  has been an obvious solution.

 Domestically, Viktor Orban and his propaganda machine has tried to sell his “Eastern Opening” as hugely beneficial for Hungary.  However, the facts have belied his promises of large investments, preferential loans and new markets concerning China, Russia and many other Asian countries.  Specifically, Hungary’s exports to China in 2020 were $2.04 billion.  On the other hand, Hungary’s imports from China in 2020 have reached $8.72 billion.  This means a trade deficit of more than $6 billion.  Thus, while being up in arms against any foreign interference in domestic affairs, Viktor Orban is quietly and surreptitiously turning Hungary into an economic “Canton” of the People’s Republic of China.  

The Chinese-built Budapest-Belgrade railway’s Hungarian section, a highly ballyhood accomplishment of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, is costing about $3 billion.  Of this amount, 85 percent is financed with Chinese loans, with interest between $500 and $800 million.  This means that the entire project’s cost around $3.7 billion.  Thus, this railway project is wholly financed by the Hungarian taxpayers.  Again, the project is much more beneficial to China than for Hungary.  First, the new railway does not connect Hungarian towns.   Second, tourism from the Balkan region has never been significant. Third, the railway is constructed mostly by Chinese companies.  Fourth, the railway is designed to carry freight more than passengers.  Fifth, the strategic penetration of the European Union’s infrastructure markets will become much easier for Chinese state-owned companies.  Notwithstanding these negative aspects, the railway is being built and the entire project with all the documents connected to the bilateral deal were declared a national strategic matter, and thus top secret.  

Similarly, fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Viktor Orban has never criticized China.  On the contrary, he and his cabinet members have only had the kindest words for Beijing’s efforts to fight the pandemic and its willingness to supply Hungary and the rest of the world with vaccines, masks as well as badly needed medical equipment.  Accordingly, the Hungarian government bought at the beginning of 2021 five million doses of Chinese Sinopharm vaccines for $36 (30 Euros) each.  In comparison, the European Union paid only 15,50 Euros per dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  For a dose of AstraZeneca, the European Union paid $2.15, according to Belgium’s budget secretary.  

Even more suspicious is the way the Hungarian government acquired the five million medically absolutely useless doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccines.  The intermediary company from which the Hungarian government purchased the vaccines was an offshore company with a registered capital of $10,700 (9,000 Euros).  The net value of the bilateral contract was $179 million (150 million Euros).  Such arrangements clearly raise red flags for anti-corruption watchdogs, as The New York Times article on March 12, 2021, rightly stipulated.  

The Chinese vaccine was aggressively promoted by Viktor Orban himself.  Claiming that he got the Sinopharm vaccine, he encouraged Hungarians of all ages to do the same.  Yet, while promoting and using the vaccine, it lacked full approval even by the competent Hungarian authorities until January 2021.  Adding insult to injury, the European Union and the American FDA have never approved the Sinopharm vaccine for use on humans.  To prove the uselessness of the Sinopharm vaccines, Hungarians who were vaccinated with Sinopharm have never developed antibodies in their bodies. 

The background story of the Shanghai-based Fudan University is equally strange, or more precisely, typical Orbanesque.  This story has started with the forced expulsion of the George Soros-established Central European University from Budapest, Hungary.  This University was accredited in both the United States of America and Hungary.  In addition, it ranked in quality way above any indigenous school of higher education. The ensuing saga of the very personal feud between George Soros and Viktor Orban has been portrayed and analyzed exhaustively by the media in Hungary as well as across Europe and the United States.  

To summarize it, the Central European University rejected government control.  The University’s argument was that in a democracy institutions of higher education must be independent of political influence.  Moreover, the President of the Central European University Michael Ignatieff argued that the Orban government destroyed the independence and the high quality of Hungarian university education by politically as well as professionally crushing their independence, while simultaneously liquidating the free-thinking intelligentsia.  Yet, utilizing his artificially created two-thirds majority in the unicameral Parliament, Viktor Orban’s party adapted a law that made the functioning of the Central European University in Hungary impossible.  The Central European University departed to Vienna, Austria, leaving Viktor Orban and his battered educational system enjoying in their miserable isolation their pyrrhic victory.

This self-congratulatory gloating about the triumph of Viktor Orban’s “illiberal democracy” over the “Leftist liberalism of George Soros” has culminated in the Hungarian government’s sudden announcement about rolling out the red carpet for the Shanghai-based Fudan University.  Preemptively declaring that the Chinese university’s mission would be strictly educational, the ensuing nation-wide protest against the “Trojan Horse” of Communist influence and potential spying expressed the real opinions as well as the anti-Chinese feelings of the Hungarian people.  

Clearly, the pivoting towards China, defined vaingloriously by Viktor Orban as “Eastern Opening,” is extremely unpopular among all Hungarians.  Adding fuel to the already existing popular discontent is the cost and the size of the Fudan University project.  Planned to spread over twenty six acres, with an additional forty acres accounting for the surrounding park, and estimated to cost a whopping $1.687 billion, it would exceed the total cost the Hungarian government spends on the annual operation of its over two dozen state-run public universities.  No wonder that the suspicion of another gigantic government corruption has again raised its ugly head throughout the country and beyond.  

To top this monstrous political and financial ploy, the construction of the campus is carried out exclusively by Chinese banks and Chinese companies, involving only Chinese workers.  More specifically, the Hungarian government agreed that the Chinese only involvement also means that the job must be done by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), the world’s largest construction company.  Again, bribery and corruption suspicions are justified by the tarnished reputation of the Chinese company that has been involved across the globe in numerous scandals and foul plays.  To prove this point, the Chinese company’s financing offer that would cover all expenses only amounts to $1.06 billion.  The difference between the published figure of $1.687 billion by the Hungarian government and the Chinese estimate speaks for itself.  Even more glaring is the Chinese financing proposal of $1,81 billion that is supposed to cover only 80% of the construction costs.  This unprecedented and unjustified overfinancing of the Fudan University project potentially could be another proof of the long-suspected high-level corruption in state-funded construction business deals.

The secrecy surrounding the Fudan University project thickens by its legal construct.  While in the case of the Budapest-Belgrade railway reconstruction an international agreement was executed, the relevant contracts of the Fudan University deal were designed to exclude public procurements and open biddings even in the management of the campus.  The obvious sleaziness of these arrangements was crowned by the establishment of a consortium of two Chinese and a single Hungarian company, in which the latter is wholly owned by Viktor Orban’s childhood friend and straw man, Lorinc Meszaros.

Finally, leaked documents suggest that the Fudan University deal was in the offing for years but assiduously kept away from the Hungarian and the European public.  During his 2019 visit to Hungary, the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi spoke of the Budapest campus of the Fudan University as a done deal, negotiated carefully for some time before.  Designating it a “priority project,” he emphasized the strategic importance of the Fudan University’s presence in the geographic middle of the European continent for Beijing.  Like in the case of the Budapest-Belgrade railway project, the Hungarian government classified the Fudan University deal as a “national security” matter.  The expropriation and even usurpation of great construction projects affecting the entire country by a single yes-men party, namely the FIDESZ, are another proof that Hungary is not a democracy.  Even more unsettling is the state of democracy in Hungary when the one-party legislature and executive do not govern by consensus but political improvisation and greed. 

Demonstrations against the establishment of the Fudan University have been held across Hungary.  The Mayor of Budapest Gergely Karacsony and the opposition called for a nationwide referendum and already proceeded to rename streets around the planned campus “Dalai Lama Street,” “Free Hong Kong Road,” etc.  The Chinese regime that regularly launches vigorous protests against “interference in Chinese internal affairs” has gone ballistic over the free expression of “anti-Chinese” sentiments in Hungary.  Global Times, one of the many subservient mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party, called in an editorial Gergely Karacsony “an enemy of China.”  The Press Secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Budapest released a statement voicing his outrage thus:  “As a diplomat of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Hungary, I have been working in Hungary for nearly a decade and witnessed the deepening friendship between the Chinese and the Hungarian peoples.  Recently, Hungary has gradually overcome the COVID-19, and people’s daily life is beginning to return to normal.  People on the streets are full of joy and laughter again.  As someone who works and lives in Budapest, I am also delighted by this.”  Clearly, such an idyllic description of the general mood in a country is more reminiscent of the Chinese propaganda lies concerning their own country than the reality in Hungary.   

Referring again to the Mayor of Budapest, his long winded nonsense continued with the following hypocritical sentence:  “In broad daylight, it is unseemly to criticize the internal affairs of another country.”  However, in the same breath he goes on wadding into the internal affairs of Hungary:  “The Mayor’s speech was a serious interference in China’s internal affairs and a deliberate attempt to undermine the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two nation, which is incompatible with the trend of the era of mutually beneficial cooperation.  We firmly protest, resolutely oppose and strongly condemn it.”

To better understand the real Chinese strategic intentions, one should not search farther than the recent spring visit of the Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe to Budapest.  Praising Hungary as a “good brother” and “partner,” Wei stated that China is ready to strengthen cooperation with Hungary in various fields.  He grew agitated about the sanction imposed by the United States of America and the European Union against his country for the treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, calling them lies and false accusations made by the West.  Then, turning to the President of Hungary, Janos Ader, he thanked him for Hungary’s firm support of China on Xinjiang and other issues concerning China’s core interests.  Janos Ader, on his part, praised China’s vaccine support, claiming that this support has brought hope to Hungary’s fight against the pandemic.  He also called for a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and the strengthening of cooperation in the economy, trade, tourism and military matters.

In line with these essentially anti-NATO and anti-European Union declarations and actions by Chinese grandees, leading Hungarian politicians have given a slew of irresponsible and derogatory statements about both organizations, in which they have claimed to be loyal members.  Just very recently, exactly on July 11, 2021, the Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament Laszlo Kover said on Radio Kossuth that, if a referendum would be held today about Hungary’s joining the European Union, he would definitely vote against it.  And on July 8, 2021, in another interview that he gave to Mandiner, he opined that Hungary will stay a member of the European Union until it collapses.  

Viktor Orban’s dislike for the European Union has been well documented throughout the last nine years as Prime Minister.  Equating any criticism of his government and the Hungarian Parliament that he rules through Laszlo Kover as a condemnation of the Hungarian nation, he has repeatedly insinuated that leaving the organization could be an option.  On September 25, 2020, Reuters reported that he praised Britain’s decision to leave the European Union as a “brave one” and demonstration of “greatness” that Hungary should not follow.  However, signaling his real feelings, he went on to criticize Brussels for its treatment of Great Britain and opined that the 2016 referendum was an act to safeguard the “good reputation” of the British people:  “Brexit is a brave decision of the British people about their own lives…we consider it as evidence of the greatness of the British.”

After years of cutthroat hostility with the overwhelming majority of the European Union’s other member states Hungary’s new legislation that couples pedophilia and anti-LGBT behaviors is the newest bone of contention.  Without descending into the dirty swamp of Hungarian politics, it suffices to state that the values that the Viktor Orban-led government has espoused for the last nine years and the values that the European Union views as compatible with Western civilization have been distinctly different in most of the cases.  While Brussels defends values in general, the Orban government protects its parochial and thus narrow political and financial interests.  For this reason, an ultimate rupture could occur at any time in the future.                

Where does all this leave the Orban regime and Hungary?  It leaves both in an ever widening vacuum full of lies, deceptions, existential corruption, moral depravity and hopelessness concerning the future of the individual as well as the Hungarian nation.  It leaves Hungary hovering between Europe and Asia.  It leaves Hungary in a state of permanent paralysis politically, economically, financially, culturally, morally and existentially.  It leaves Hungary with a government that prioritizes the interests of the privileged one percent to the detriment of ninety nine percent of the nation.  It leaves Hungary with a government that is despotic and inimical to the country’s real interests.  Finally and tragically, it leaves Hungary in a state of utter despondency.

Historically, whenever Hungary has turned away from the West and has attempted to seek its future in the East, stagnation and even backsliding were the results.  Today, when confronted with the uncomfortable facts of his “Eastern Opening,” Viktor Orban’s and his party’s responses rest on two parts.  First, they try to conceal, deny and obfuscate.  Second, when such brazenly authoritarian and shamefully immoral political campaigns fail, they attack with ruthless aggression the motives of their domestic as well as foreign critics.  

Clearly, the worldwide criticism of Hungary has reached a dangerous stage.  Led by Hungary’s incompetent foreign minister, its diplomats call such criticism a shameless plot to slander the country and thwart its progress.  The government controlled media spew ad hominem falsehoods at scholars who analyze Hungarian government statements and documents, as well as open-source materials, describing them as CIA agents or anti-Hungarian fanatics.  Regrettably, such fallacious assertions have had an impact domestically.  It has not been very difficult to meet Hungarians from every walk of life who treat even the mildest criticism of their country as a hostile attack directed against them personally.  

Yet, facts are stubborn things.  Since his election victory in 2010, Viktor Orban has governed Hungary as an elected despot.  The safeguards of democracy have been eliminated gradually.  With his “Eastern Opening,” Viktor Orban is preparing to tear up all pretence of democracy and develop his “illiberal democracy” into a full fledged dictatorship.  The obvious question is why?  The answer is almost self-evident.  Viktor Orban and his associates fear defeat in the upcoming elections in the spring of 2022.  As Nathan Law stated, Viktor Orban and his FIDESZ party has betrayed its democratic past for a semi-Feudal and arch-Communist regime, combined with nepotism and dynastic pretensions.  While capturing total control over the legislative, judicial and executive branches as well as vertically the local councils, he has courted the rural population with monies that the European Union has given to Hungary.  Simultaneously, the pliant media are selling in unison Viktor Orban’s “illiberal democracy” as identical with the desires of the whole nation. 

To add political insult to existential injury, the declared election alliance of the thus far fragmented opposition parties might not be enough to stop another triumph at the ballot boxes for Viktor Orban and his FIDESZ party.  While the 2018 elections were laden with irregularities, suspicions are rife throughout the country that the upcoming poll might be fraught with more shenanigans.  As in the past, the most contentious issue  will be the voting rights of Hungarians living abroad without registered Hungarian addresses, mainly in the neighboring states of Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania and Serbia.  The emotional manipulation, financial bribery, voting by mail without proper verification, practically ensures that the overwhelming majority of these ethnic Hungarians, estimated to be close to ninety percent, will cast their ballots for FIDESZ.  To illustrate the shocking political nature of courting the ethnic Hungarian votes, the Fuggetlen Nemzet (Independent Nation) revealed that ethnic Hungarians with barely any elementary school education claimed to have been directors of large Ukrainian companies with outlandishly high salaries, collect huge retirement pays from the Hungarian Pension Disbursement Office.  

Such an electoral system clearly distorts the will of all Hungarians who live within the international borders of Hungary.  Leaders of the opposition parties and foreign observers have claimed in 2018 that the voting laws installed by FIDESZ enabled electoral fraud through uncontrollable manipulation of the mail-in ballots.  Hungarian humor has it that being buried in one of the neighboring states as a Hungarian guarantees the dead person’s resurrection and a second life in Hungary proper through elections.

In stark contrast to this extremely liberal treatment of ethnic Hungarians, Hungarians who live in Hungary proper but work or live abroad with real Hungarian residency must be registered on the electoral roll a maximum of fifteen days before election day.  Moreover, on election day they must go to a Hungarian consulate or embassy to cast their votes in person.  Registration has been slow and laden with bureaucratic obstructions.  Consulates and embassies have posed additional hurdles to Hungarians suspected of not voting for Viktor Orban’s party.  The nefarious political intent is clear.  Those Hungarians who live outside the country are alleged of not always agreeing with the domestic situation.  Thus, they must be prevented from voting by dictatorial bureaucratic fiat.  Those who have been bribed by the Hungarian government abroad must cast their votes without any bureaucratic difficulties, because they are presumed to be loyal to Viktor Orban and his regime.  This is ethnic discrimination by voting, plain and simple.     

In these and similar manners, Hungary’s march away from Western values and democracy toward Socialism/Communism with Chinese characteristics is in full swing.  As for the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, creating enemies and demonizing opponents have been the order of political culture for Viktor Orban and his FIDESZ party.   Meanwhile, Hungary proper has been torn by deep hatred, unbridgeable divisions and the danger of civil war.  Moreover, the country lacks a large middle class and is divided into the miniscule group of the very rich and the vast majority of destitute survivors as well as hopeless Have-nots.  

Yet, the greatest threat to Hungary’s future is the fatalistic complacency of its people.  To overcome this deadly cultural disease, the Hungarian people must take back their past, present and future.  In doing so, they should be able to rely on the active and decisive assistance of all the member states of NATO and the European Union.  Conversely, the latter should start to take democracy as well as political, economic and cultural morality seriously – meaning that they must enforce the values of both alliances more rigorously.  Otherwise, NATO and the European Union will cease to be multilateral bodies of free nations.  Even worse, they will continue to nurture internal enemies within their ranks that ultimately will destroy both alliances.  Clearly, it is high time to put a stop to the destructive madness of the current Hungarian government by calling it to full account.  In closing, Hungary must be made to understand that membership in both organizations comes with rights and obligations that are inextricably linked.  Joining both organizations was voluntary.  No one forced the competent Hungarian government to join.  However, once Hungary joined, it must fulfill its obligations fully.  Claiming that Hungary has only rights but only selective obligations is unrealistic.  Comparing Washington, D.C. and Brussels to the Kremlin of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, is wrong and self-defeating. Such comparison is simply idiotic.  Yet, Hungarian politicians, with Viktor Orban in the lead, have played the victimhood card often and shamelessly in the last eleven years.  Enough is enough.  Either the Hungarian government will start to play fairly or it must be asked to leave both organizations.  The future effectiveness and unity of NATO and the European Union are at stake.  Time is of the essence.  Before the Orbanesque cancer could metastasize, it must be stopped peremptorily. 


Fauci Hit with Hatch Act Complaint

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Photo Credit: The White House: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Anthony_Fauci_in_2020#/media/File:White_House_Coronavirus_Update_Briefing_(49809803361).jpg

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man many consider to be the public face of the U.S. government’s fight against the COVID virus, now stands accused of violating a federal law prohibiting certain government employees from engaging in activities and making statements intended to influence the electorate.

Protect the Public’s Trust, a government watchdog organization, said in a June 30 filing that Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, ran afoul of Hatch Act restrictions during an October 30, 2020 interview with The Washington Post in which he “intimated that the state of the nation’s public health outlook could be directly linked to the two candidates’ diverse approaches” to combating the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The virus, which some allege was created in a bacteriological research facility in the People’s Republic of China, spread rapidly around the world and is believed to be responsible for the death of more than 600,000 people in the United States alone. A recent Rasmussen Reports national survey of registered voters found 46 percent did not believe Fauci had not been truthful about U.S. financial support for the “gain of function” research — defined as “taking a virus that could infect humans and making it either more transmissible and/or pathogenic for humans”  — conducted by the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who is also a physician and has aggressively called for a full investigation into the origins of COVID has said repeatedly that emails sent and received by Fauci and uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act request show that Fauci was aware American taxpayer-funded grants were at least partially underwriting the Wuhan lab’s research that may have produced the virus.

Asked by The Post about the differences between the plans of the two 2020 presidential candidates for dealing with the pandemic, Fauci praised then-former Vice President Joe Biden for “taking it seriously from a public health perspective” while stating simply that President Donald J. Trump was “looking at it from a different perspective.”

The group’s complaint also singles out Fauci’s call for an “abrupt change” just days before voters headed to the polls. It could be inferred from his remark that he was advocating for Biden to replace Trump in the White House though, in the context of the interview it appears he was talking about the national strategy for stopping the spread of COVID.

The collection of issues related to COVID has a major impact on the 2020 election. They were, Protect the Public’s Trust recently wrote, a “paramount concern for voters entering the 2020 general election.” An August 2020 pre-election Pew Research poll cited by the group found, “62 percent of voters say[ing] the outbreak will be a very important factor in their decision about who to support in the fall.”

Post-election surveys as well as Trump’s own campaign team’s analysis explaining why he lost suggest strongly the public’s perception he’d mishandled the pandemic drove many voters — even some who typically vote GOP — to cast their ballots for Biden.

“The timing of (Fauci’s) statements, combined with the circumstances of the interview and post-election comments celebrating the outcome,” The Federalist wrote about the complaint when it broke the story in June, “illustrate further intent in Fauci’s remarks that violate the Hatch Act.”

The election, The Federalist pointed out, was decided by less than 43,000 votes across what it called “three tipping-point states” despite Biden’s popular vote total having exceeding trump’s by more than 7 million. The narrowness of the actual result could, some election professionals say, be interpreted as lending support to the argument made by the watchdog group that Fauci’s remarks assisted Biden politically even though that would be hard to prove.

The federal Hatch Act dates back to the New Deal period and is the result of allegations some connected to the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt had played politics with funds intended to alleviate the economic impact of the Great Depression to the benefit of local Democratic Party political machines. In its current form, it also prohibits members of the federal government’s Senior Executive Service – of which Fauci is part – from engaging in political activity while on duty and from using their official authority to interfere with an election.


The Concierge of Decline

The Biden Administration serves up complacency in the face of deterioration.

By Paige WilleyThe American Mind

US-politics-economy-BIDEN

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.


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