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My Pen Pals

November 8, 2017

Remember when people had “Pen Pals”?

These were people we would send letters but never meet them.

Well, Facebook does the same thing and here is where some of my “Pen Pals” are from.

Spain,  the United States, Canada, India, United Kingdom and, sometimes, China.

Best wishes to you all!

 

Trump in South Korea

November 8, 2017

The Washington Examiner has posted a video of President Trump’s address yesterday to the National Assembly of South Korea. I watched a portion of the speech at 10:00 pm yesterday evening on MSNBC.

I found MSNBC’s coverage to be dismissive, but missing the impact here in the U.S.  Don’t count this President “out.” His forceful words directed at North Korea needed to be heard. Here is a link  to the text of his speech.

The Imaginative Conservative

November 6, 2017

Winston Elliott, president of the online “The Imaginative Conservative” is also president of The Free Enterprise Institute in Houston.

The Free Enterprise Institute is based in Houston and was founded by a retired natural gas executive named Rolland Storey, a jovial septuagenarian whom one former student described as “a Santa Claus of Liberty.”

I first met Winston Elliott at a meeting of the Philadelphia Society in April 2008 at a hotel just across the Key Bridge in Arlington, Virginia. The topic of that meeting was the Future of Western Civilization.

Winston has just posted my review of Stephen Hayward’s new book, Patriotism.

For those who are not familiar with “PhillySoc,” after the failed Republican campaign of Barry Goldwater, the mid west representative of the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists (ISI), Don Lipsett, held the first organizational meetings of the Philadelphia Society at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.

Every conservative academic living at that time attended one or more of those early meetings. As a new grad student at Notre Dame, in South Bend, Indiana, two of my professors, Gerhart Niemeyer and Stanley Parry, drove me and my classmate, Howard Segermark, to a meeting in 1965.

The conservative movement has undergone lots of changed since 1964, but attending meetings of the Philadelphia Society in on the list of things to do. You can read about those times in a wonderful book by Lee Edwards titled Educating for Liberty.

Wogs Up, Doc?

November 5, 2017

Yesterday, world news services were agog with news that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman has arrested Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, other Prince’s of the royal family and current and former government ministers of Saudi Arabia.

The Muslim world is important to the West because of its energy resources, a rising extremist Islamic ideology, large scale emigration of Muslim refugees and bias against Christians in Muslim countries.

Like 1960’s era Conservative member of the British Parliament, Enoch Powell, who criticized non-white immigration into racially homogeneous England,  Donald Trump has made Muslim emigration to the United States a prime issue of his campaign and  Presidency vowing that the United States will not make the same mistake of the European Union.

What’s happening in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries is challenging authoritarian tribal rulers. Unfortunately, their political problems are affecting the United States and in the case of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia’s political problems are affecting major American and European corporations.

Political problems of Yemen, Quatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, not to mention Syria, Iran and Turkey, will spill over into American politics.

Unfortunately we don’t “do” Muslim politics well. Here are six reasons why.

1.  Israel is an ally of the United States and most Muslim states consider Israel their enemy.

2. Then there are the Christian millenarians who have an apocalyptic vision of the Second Coming that, in the case of the Presidential Administration of George W. Bush, saw military action by the United States playing a role in hastening the Second Coming of Christ.

3. In the case of Turkey, secularization instituted by Kemal Atatürk is still official policy, but Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees himself not as a leader of a democratic regime, but leader of a Muslim caliphate.

4. The U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service is firmly on the side of unstable Muslim regimes because there are so many Muslim countries with Ambassadorship positions to fill. Every junior FSO sees himself as a future Ambassador to one of these countries.

5. Add to that terrorist attacks on streets and public gatherings in the United States and Europe by ISIL and Al-Qaeda and you have the potential for indiscriminate retaliation by countries that are attacked. In response to the murder of eight bikers in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, November 31, President Trump repeated a phrase he used in 2005 that he will “hit back 10 times harder.” This is from a President who ran on a campaign pledge of withdrawal from foreign military ventures.

6. Add to President Trump’s penchant for talking off the top of his head, the President has demonstrated that he has no understanding of the region and was easily schmoozed by leaders he met on his first international trip to the Middle East. His wealthy pals have financial interests in the region–and elsewhere–and President Trump listens to them more than some American leaders who have taken up the cause of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

All in all, the Muslim problem will dominate the Trump Administration and American politics into the next century.

President Trump Lacks a Government

November 4, 2017

President Donald Trump did it again.

In a lengthy interview on Thursday, November 2nd, with Laura Ingraham on Fox News, the President states that the many vacancies at the State Department don’t need to be filled.

In other words, the President–alone–will manage the foreign relations of the United States.

Here’s a link to that interview.  His comments about the State Department begin at 14:55 into the interview.

There are many reasons to distrust the career bureaucrats at State. In addition to seeking their own best interests, they know more about their areas of expertise than anyone in national politics. And they believe that their opinions are superior to those of political appointees, often referred to as “the Christmas help,” who come and go with every Presidential Administration.

Unfortunately, President Trump feels that he doesn’t need to place his people–if he knew any who were competent to serve–at State. That decision will have long term consequences for American foreign policy because civilian employment seldom translates into knowledge of foreign policy.

The best way to learn about Russia, Iran, Islam or the People’s Republic of China–these four major adversaries of the United States–is to earn advanced degrees in “area studies” and serve in U.S. government positions in Eastern Europe, Asia, South Asia or the Middle East. Many Americans successfully pass the Foreign Service Exam and then become members of the bureaucracy at State.

However, American Presidents cannot rely on government bureaucrats, especially Foreign Service Officers and, therefore, must fill top management positions at State with knowledgeable persons who share the philosophy of the governing Party.

Some American businessmen who work in those parts of the world learn much about the foreign countries where they work. But employment in foreign countries is not the way to advance to the top levels in corporations. Companies compensate by sending younger employees for service abroad because they are expendable. And they will send senior executives to work abroad in order to axe their employment when the time if right. That “time” is when they’ve been away from corporate headquarters long enough to lose their power base. Though President Trump finds persons to appoint who have reached the highest levels of the U.S. military, that is a very dangerous game to play.

Where then, do American Presidents, especially the few conservative ones we’ve elected, find experienced, conservative, talent?

Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan did not grow conservative talent in international affairs. He was co-opted by James Baker and George H. W. Bush, who brought in Nixon Administration appointees to serve at State and the White House.  The one strength of foreign policy in that Administration was the President himself who proposed, and defended, a space-based system of ballistic missile defense. That strength and resolve bludgeoned the Soviet Union into defeat.

President Trump is much worse.

He refuses to nominate persons for top positions at State. A report issued by The Partnership for Public Progress on August 7, stated ” On the personnel front, President Trump lags well behind all of his recent predecessors both on the number of people nominated for critical leadership positions and those confirmed. As of August 7, Trump has nominated 277 people out of the more than 1,100 positions requiring Senate confirmation, and the Senate has confirmed just 124 of those nominees.”

A more recent survey of Ambassadorial appointments shows that the President has little interest in nominating American Ambassadors to serve in countries with which we have diplomatic ties and has retained many career Foreign Service Officers serving as Ambassadors who were appointed by President Barack Obama.

The reason we have a President who doesn’t know how the U.S. government works is because democracies tend to elevate to public office to the lowest common denominator. Members of the Congress are clearly very limited in knowledge and experience and most don’t even look good. Those that do–you know them by their blow-dry looks and plastic surgery–are mere clothes horses representing corporate interests.

The American people, despite the fact that many can trace their heritage to immigrants who didn’t speak English, are, after one generation, totally disconnected from the world outside the United States. Most politicians who represent them cannot make an intelligent statement about subjects greater than one mile from the coast of the United States. Yet, there are places to study foreign subjects. Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, and The School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, sometimes called the “Nitze School” after Paul Nitze, are good places to earn credentials for research and government service.

Fr. Edmund Walsh, who “made” Georgetown’s School of Foreign service died in 1956. He was knowledgeable about communism and while he was alive, Georgetown was the place to be if you wanted to be part of America’s response to communism in Russia and China. Sixty years after his death, Georgetown is just another Left-oriented research university, but a Walsh School degree still has value.

Paul Nitze was a brilliant strategist, and though the school that bears his name is like all other research universities–rudderless except for Leftist ideology,–a degree from the Nitze School, like the Walsh School, is a credential of some value.

President Donald Trump knows nothing about the world of international relations, nor of the conservative professionals who learned their skill at university and in government service. One of the few members of the GOP who does know this world is the quirky Dr. Newt Gingrich.

President Trump would be well advised to ask his opinion.

 

General Tump

November 3, 2017

Presidents, in addition to managing the federal government, build a cadre of leaders for his successors. It is very important, therefore, that President Trump use his nomination powers to recruit persons of knowledge and conservative principles.

Placing younger Americans, ages 35-45, in responsible positions gives them government experience and standing they can use to grow their careers after government service and make them acceptable for Cabinet nominations later. In the case of National Security and foreign affairs, political appointments today to the Department of Defense and the State Department, the Agency for International Development, and the intelligence services are an investment in future Presidential administrations.

A President cannot know everyone in the pipeline of conservative talent and commitment, but he can call on persons who do and, more important, he can retain them for service in key positions in the Executive Office of the President.

This morning, MSNBC, and other cable news networks, covered President Trump as he boarded Air Force One.  Following the President and the First Lady after they boarded the plane was a cohort of military personnel.

Is that the future that General Trump is creating for the United States?

Facebook as a Public Utility

November 3, 2017

“Facebook,” a private company, now performs a public service for communication and, thus, is very close to becoming a public utility. Public utilities provide services that are regulated by state and local governments.

For that reason, when Facebook decides to censor advertisers or statements placed on Facebook pages, there are concerns that too much power resides in the hands of its owners and administrators.

Facebook’s decision to block advertising by the Russian government is a prudential decision that, on its face, is reasonable. We don’t want a means of mass communication manipulated by a foreign power. On the other hand, we don’t want Facebook to censor us.

I asked one of my colleagues about the legality of censorship of advertising, and he replied,

Commercial speech doesn’t get the same kind of protection as “viewpoint” speech.

Right now the distinction is between “intermediate” scrutiny for commercial speech and “strict” scrutiny for noncommercial. It’s all garbage, of course. Both the forms of scrutiny (which really just hide policy-based balancing tests) and the commercial category are simply made up. So it’s entirely possible the courts could decide all kinds of other “interests” (synonyms for leftist ideology) could be deemed to outweigh the importance of free speech.  

When you think about the people will be hired to cleanse Facebook of objectionable advertising or unacceptable comments, you realize that Facebook will be monitored on a daily basis by the same types of people who have made cable news media Leftist in orientation.

Our legal system is administered by graduates of law schools where very few are given a substantive education in Constitutional Law that is not Leftist in orientation.

Our Journalism and Communication Departments at our colleges and universities are simply havens for Left-wing bias. And, of course, the Social Science and Humanities Departments in our colleges and universities have become centers for Leftist indoctrination. Most studies show that faculty who identify themselves as “conservative” are no more than 4% of total faculty population.

Give the graduates of these institutions the powers of censors at Facebook and we will have to reexamine whether Facebook is a private company or a public utility.