Sunday, April 22, 2018

Foreign Affairs on the Death of Democracy

The new issue of Foreign Affairs magazine asks, "Is democracy dying?"  Editor Gideon Rose's introduction says,"As a Latin American friend put it ruefully, 'We’ve seen this movie before, just never in English.'”  What Rose fails to note is that English is less and less the language of political discourse in the United States, as Spanish displaces English throughout the country.  America is becoming a Latin American country (where authoritarian government is more common), rather than a Western European country founded by British colonists who rebelled against the authoritarianism of the British king. 

Analyzing whether the US is becoming more authoritarian is a legitimate topic, but it is clearly aimed at being critical of President Trump.  I haven't read all the articles, but I guess it is going to have a strong anti-Trump bias, perhaps deserved, perhaps not.  One of Trump's main issues has been immigration, but surprisingly much of the Mexican immigration is due to Republican President Reagan.  However, much of the recent immigration has been due to Democratic appeals to Latinos, such as DACA, more lenient enforcement of immigrtation laws, etc.

The bipartisan Latinization of the United States didn't really begin until the middle of the 20th century.  The most important impetus was Ronald Reagan's grant of amnesty to illegal aliens in 1986 to deal with a vastly increased immigration flow that had begun about 20 years earlier.  This law triggered a subsequent more massive influx of aliens hoping to benefit from the next amnesty. 

The following graph from the Migration Policy Institute show the dramatic increase in Mexican immigrants following Reagan's 1986 amnesty. 

According to that group:

In 2016, Mexicans accounted for approximately 26 percent of immigrants in the United States, making them by far the largest foreign-born group in the country….  The predominance of Latin American and Asian immigration in the late 20th and early 21st centuries starkly contrasts with the trend in the mid-1900s, when immigrants were largely European. In the 1960s no single country accounted for more than 15 percent of the total immigrant population. 

It's not clear how these statistics differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants.  There are a number of legal Mexican immigrants, and the number of illegals is difficult to measure because most of them are in hiding of some kind.  So, estimates of illegals are untrustworthy, but from looking through some internet data, it looks to me like there are more or less equal numbers of legal and illegal Mexican immigrants. 

I believe that the Foreign Affairs thesis about the death of democracy is largely the product of massive immigration that the changed the cultural climate of the United States.  This is no longer a Western or Northern European nation with a tradition of democratic institutions.  It has developed a culture that favors a caurdillo over a popularly elected president responsible to Congress and the people. 

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Samual Huntington on Multiculturalism in America

The following is from Samuel Huntington's 1993 essay in Foreign Affairs in reply to criticism of his 1991 essay.

One function of a paradigm is to highlight what is important (e.g., the potential for escalation in clashes between groups from different civilizations); another is to place familiar phenomena in a new perspective. In this respect, the civilizational paradigm may have implications for the United States. Countries like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia that bestride civilizational fault lines tend to come apart. The unity of the United States has historically rested on the twin bedrocks of European culture and political democracy. These have been essentials of America to which generations of immigrants have assimilated. The essence of the American creed has been equal rights for the individual, and historically immigrant and outcast groups have invoked and thereby reinvigorated the principles of the creed in their struggles for equal treatment in American society. The most notable and successful effort was the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1950s and 1960s. Subsequently, however, the demand shifted from equal rights for individuals to special rights (affirmative action and similar measures) for blacks and other groups. Such claims run directly counter to the underlying principles that have been the basis of American political unity; they reject the idea of a "color-blind" society of equal individuals and instead promote a "color-conscious" society with government-sanctioned privileges for some groups. In a parallel movement, intellectuals and politicians began to push the ideology of "multiculturalism," and to insist on the rewriting of American political, social, and literary history from the viewpoint of non-European groups. At the extreme, this movement tends to elevate obscure leaders of minority groups to a level of importance equal to that of the Founding Fathers. Both the demands for special group rights and for multiculturalism encourage a clash of civilizations within the United States and encourage what Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., terms "the disuniting of America."
The United States is becoming increasingly diverse ethnically and racially. The Census Bureau estimates that by 2050 the American population will be 23 percent Hispanic, 16 percent black and 10 percent Asian-American. In the past the United States has successfully absorbed millions of immigrants from scores of countries because they adapted to the prevailing European culture and enthusiastically embraced the American Creed of liberty, equality, individualism, democracy. Will this pattern continue to prevail as 50 percent of the population becomes Hispanic or nonwhite? Will the new immigrants be assimilated into the hitherto dominant European culture of the United States? If they are not, if the United States becomes truly multicultural and pervaded with an internal clash of civilizations, will it survive as a liberal democracy? The political identity of the United States is rooted in the principles articulated in its founding documents. Will the de-Westernization of the United States, if it occurs, also mean its de-Americanization? If it does and Americans cease to adhere to their liberal democratic and European-rooted political ideology, the United States as we have known it will cease to exist and will follow the other ideologically defined superpower onto the ash heap of history.
What follows next is from a Brookings Institution study:

The U.S. will become “minority white” in 2045, Census projects
New census population projections confirm the importance of racial minorities as the primary demographic engine of the nation’s future growth, countering an aging, slow-growing and soon to be declining white population. The new statistics project that the nation will become “minority white” in 2045. During that year, whites will comprise 49.9 percent of the population in contrast to 24.6 percent for Hispanics, 13.1 percent for blacks, 7.8 percent for Asians, and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations.... 
Among the minority populations, the greatest growth is projected for multiracial populations, Asians and Hispanics with 2018–2060 growth rates of 175, 93, and 85 percent, respectively. The projected growth rate for blacks is 34 percent.* The demographic source of growth varies across groups. For example, immigration contributes to one-third of Hispanic growth over this time span, with the rest attributable to natural increase (the excess of births over deaths). Among Asians, immigration contributes to three quarters of the projected growth.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tillerson’s Firing

I think Tillerson is a good man, but I am not sorry to see him leave as Secretary of State.  He was better than Trump on foreign policy issues. He wanted to keep the Iran agreement; he wanted to negotiate with North Korea before Trump did; he was more concerned about climate change than Trump, even with his Exxon Mobil background; he was inclined to be tougher on Russian than Trump; he had a better feel for Middle East politics than Trump.  In general he favored a more traditional, conventional foreign policy than Trump.
On the other hand, administratively he almost wrecked the State Department.  He gutted the ranks of the Foreign Service. Partly Foreign Service officers left because they disagreed with Trump’s foreign policy, even as moderated by Tillerson; partly they left because of the mess he created trying to reform the State Department.  The Foreign Service is already one of the smallest organizations in the US Government. It may need reform, but Tillerson was on the way to destroying it with a meat cleaver. Maybe he had some bad experiences with American embassies when he was working for Exxon Mobil.  
The Foreign Service is probably a pretty liberal organization, but that’s not surprising since many of the officers are there, rather than in some high-paying private sector job, because they want to bring about world peace, just like most Miss America contestants.  Most, however, are willing to fight back rather than let a hostile country take advantage of us. They are willing to endure hardships and danger in poor or unstable countries around the world. They deserve better threatment than Tillerson gave them. 
With Tillerson’s leaving, therre has been some talk that some of the senior officers may come back.  It’s possible, but I think may of them objected to Trump’s foreign policy as much as they did to Tillerson’s admiistrative reforms.  Plus, they will have moved on with their lives. I doubt that many will come back, especially since it looks like Pompeo’s foreign policy philosophy is closer to Trump’s than Tillerson’s was.  
Pompeo’s military experience may make him more sympathetic to the Foreign Service.  Secretary Colin Powell was very helpful and supportive of the Foreign Service, given his experience as a general.  I hope that is the case, that he emulates Powell’s attitudes toward these State Department officers.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker is the Jewish author of the week.  Jewish commentators often hype books by Jewish authors.  I guess it's not unethical, but it gets a little tiresome.  The latest is StevenPinker and his book, Enlightenment Now.  The two Jewish commentators recommending it are David Brooks, in his NYT column "The Virtue of Radical Honesty,"

and Paul Solomon, in his PBS segment "Making Sense." 

Solomon says this book is a favorite of Bill Gates, who is not Jewish.  It postulates that we are living in the best times in the history of the world.  People are wealthier and healthier than at any time in the past.  There are no huge wars going on, although there are some small ones.  Democracy has been spreading, although that is slowing down now. 

Neither commentary on the book reports whether we are happier now, because we are richer; Pinker wrote his book to counter the general pessimism because people are so unhappy now.  Does he posit that society is better simply because people live longer.  However, Brooks points out that

Pinker doesn’t spend much time on the decline of social trust, the breakdown of family life, the polarization of national life, the spread of tribal mentalities, the rise of narcissism, the decline of social capital, the rising alienation from institutions or the decline of citizenship and neighborliness. It’s simply impossible to tell any good-news story when looking at the data from these moral, social and emotional spheres.
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At least Brooks criticizes his Jewish fellow, although he closes by saying he likes Pinker because they took a DNA test that showed they were third cousins. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What Do Democrats Fear from Russia?

On Februray 15, the New York Times wrote an editorial called, "Mr. Trump is Blind to Russia's Threat." 

I thought that here I would find what the Democrats fear from Russia.  What is Russia's threat.  I was not frightened by the editorial.  It seems the  main threat is Russian meddling in our elections, although it also mentions aggression against Ukraine, weapons deals, and human rights abuses.  This is a far cry from the threat by Khrushchev that "We will bury you," and installing missiles in Cuba. It said the senior intelligence officials who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee said they had not been asked "to take measures to combat Russian interference and protect democratic processes."  There is no allegation that the Russians have physically manipulated the voting process by hacking voting machines, but rather that the Russians have used campaign dirty tricks to support some candidates (Trump and Sanders) over Hillary.  Lee Atwater would be proud the Russians learned from his playbook. 

The implication is that the NYT believes that democracy in America is extremely fragile, although so far I have not heard any responsible source, including the NYT, say that Russia was responsible for Mr. Trump's election.  Rather it looks like it's just sour grapes from  the NYT and other Democrats.  The NYT thinks it is the most important paper in the world, with the smartest reporters and editors.  It was fully supportive of Hillary Clinton, writing many articles and editorials daily during the campaign supporing her and telling the American populace to vote for her.  And America ignored them.  So now they blame a handful of Russian nerds sitting in a dark room in St. Petersburg for her loss.  They claim these few nerds were more powerful than the vaunted New York Times, not to mention the Washington Post, the major networks, and most other media outlets (except Fox). 

Mr. Mueller has indicted thirteen Russians for election meddling.  The NYT probably has that many reporters covering Congress, much less the White House, or campaign stops around the country.  Are thirteen Russian hackers really that much more powerful than the New York Times?  If so, then the Russians are supermen, and the NYT editorial should have said that we should fear the Russians because they are supermen, not because they have some good hackers. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Huntington and the Russians

I have been mystified by why the NYT and Washington Post hate Russia so much and are engaging in yellow journalism fomenting war with Russia.  I thought it was because of the Jewish connection.  So many of their journalists and editors are Jewish, and Jews have a long (1,000 years) history of subjugation by Russian Slavs, so that hatred of Russians is embedded in Jewish DNA.  Israel is in many ways a country populated by Russians.  Most American Jews are Ashkenazi Jews from Central Europe (often dominated by Russia) or from Russia itself. 

An old article that I am reading, maybe for the first time, raises the possibility that there are changes in Russia which may call for a reorientation in US policy toward Moscow.  Samuel Huntington says in "Clash of Civilizations":

"If, as the Russians stop behaving like Marxists, they reject liberal democracy and begin behaving like Russians but not like Westerners, the relations between Russia and the West could again become distant and conflictual."
 Clash of Civilizations (Page 25).

Arguably this is happening.  Putin may not be becoming another Stalin, but another Tsar.  Under the Tsars, Russia considered itself a European country, but with a strong Asiatic component, given its Asian and Middle Eastern components on the fringes of the Russian territory.  Moscow and St. Petersburg remained European, and if anything, Putin has increased the importance of St. Petersburg, Russia's European capital under the Tsars. 

I think Putin was inclined to make Russian a Western, European country, but the West pushed him away.  Russia's former empire in Central Europe, the Warsaw Pact, completely abandoned it after the fall of the Berlin wall.  NATO pushed farther and father east, until it came to Ukraine, whose capital, Kiev, was the original capital of Russia. 

While the West saw Russia's refusal to let Ukraine go and join the rest of the old Warsaw Pact as part of Europe, it might have been that Putin did not want to give up his last connection to the West and make Russia a solely Asiatic power.  Putin could have seen the refusal of the US and Europe to allow Ukraine to stay in the Russian orbit as saying, "Russia, we hate you and want nothing to do with you."  If so, Putin may have taken offense at this putdown.  The result may be the increasing tension between Russia and the West.  This would have little to do with Jewish control of American media and politics. 

Lest we forget, Russia under the tsars defeated Napoleon in 1812, beginning his removal as emperor of France.  In World War II, Stalin defeated Hitler, beginning his defeat.  Russia has played key roles in European history. 

I guess the question for me is, did Jews in the West significantly influence the decision to move against Russia by moving NATO to its front door and excluding it from various European activities, G-7 versus G-8 meetings, for example.  Russia was included in the G-8, but since the invasion of Crimea, it has been excluded and now the meetings just consist of the G-7 (no Russia).  Jews have been prominent in the foreign policy bureaucracy of both Democratic and Republican administrations.  

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What Russia Did on Social Media Was Not Illegal

What the Russians did on social media during the 2016 election was not illegal.  It may have been mean-spirited or morally dishonest, but it did not violate the law.  It's not illegal to create bots on social media, and it's not illegal to spread fake news, unless it violates an old, somewhat irrelevant law, such as libel.  See

This article reports on the creation of millions of Twitter bots, many based on real people, which are sold to minor celebrities and others to increase the number of their Twitter followers.  The article implies in passing that fake users may also be a problem for Facebook, but it only reports on Twitter.  Facebook has somewhat more stringent controls on who can open a Facebook account, while Twitter has almost no controls.  It does, however, claim that it does not want fraudulent users and removes them when they are called to its attention. 

The Twitter bots in the article are mostly used for advertising, but some are political; usually there are bots that espouse both sides of controversial issues, some leftist bots, some conservative bots.  However, the article does not claim that this activity violates any laws, although it may violate Twitter policies. 

If it's not illegal for a company in Miami to do this, it doesn't seem like it is illegal for a business (or government) in Moscow to do so.  Fake news is a problem, but so far not illegal.  The bigger problem is that Americans are so gullible that they fall for it.  I don't see how the government is going to limit fake news without getting into censorship.  Alreeady I think some of the procedures instituted by Twitter and Facebook border on censorship, although as private entities they do not have same high bar that the government does. 

Another consideration is that through the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe the US has directed news at the old Soviet Union, and now at Russia for many years. Although it was not fake, it was intended to bring down the Soviet Union, and it did.  I would guess, although I do not know of an example, that the CIA has planted fake news over the years. 

In a brief web search, I found this article about the CIA deceiving not only the Soviet Union, but the American people as well. 

What's going on now with fake news is bad, but it's not new. 

Debt Service and Mick Mulveney

People are talking about the huge deficit Trump's new budget will create and what that will do to the overall deficit.  The stock market tanked recently when there were fears that inflation was returning and the Fed would raise interest rates higher and more quickly.  So far, nobody is talking about what happens when these two things come together.  A huge public debt and high interest rates mean that paying interest on the debt will take up a bigger and bigger piece of the federal budget, leaving less money for everything from the military to medicare.  It's a problem that only gets worse.  Higher debt means investors from pension funds to the Chinese government will be less willing to buy US bonds, and that will mean the government will have to pay higher interest to get people to buy them. 

Mick Mulveney, Trump's Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is the man who is supposed to keep the budget under control. I worry that he will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor in the Reagan administration, David Stockman.  Stockman and his Republican colleagues encouraged Reagan to cut taxes deeply.  Their idea was that once taxes were cut, there would be no money to fund the liberal programs, like Medicare and food stamps, that they disliked.  However, Stockman misjudged Reagan.  When push came to shove, Reagan was unwilling to cut these programs that helped poor and ordinary people. Reagan was too soft-hearted for Stockman.  As a result, Reagan cut taxes, but not spending, leading to huge deficits and the federal debt that we face today. 

It now looks like, not only Trump, but the entire Republican party (except for Rand Paul) has followed in Reagan's footsteps and ceased to worry about unfunded government spending and the deficits and increased debit that it brings.  Stockman has gone on to make millions in New York, but so has Donald Trump.  Nobody knows what the mplications are of this debt load, because there has never been anything like it before.  What it brings for smaller nations who have less control over financial markets is usually austerity and recession to pay for the years of carefree spending.  We'll see if the US profligacy will end any better will end any better than it has for other nations. 

One example that worries me, given the important role of Jews in the US government and the financial sector, is Germany between the world wars.  Germany found itself in terrible financial straits after World War I.  It could not pay the huge debts it had incurred to finance the war.  It printed money and inflation became rampant.  At that time Jews became very prominent in German business and financial affairs.  One study reports that

In the early 20th century, a dense corporate network was created among large German corporations, with about 16 percent of the members of this corporate network of Jewish background. At the centre of the network (big linkers) about 25 percent were Jewish. The percentage of Jews in the general population was less than one percent in 1914.
This outsized influence of Jewish businessmen and bankers enabled Hitler to blame the Jews for many of the hardships the average German population was experiencing in the 1930s.  It influenced many average Germans to accept his increasing persecution of Jews.  Let us hope that America does not end up like Germany, with Jews presiding over a failing country that cannot pay its debts.  Chuck Schumer, Steve Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, Michael Bloomberg, Lloyd Blankfein, Larry Fink, Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg and company would do well to help America get its financial house in order,