The GOP and China

So a not surprising thing has happened in response to the reality TV star dominating the news in the GOP primary, but also in response to recent economic volatility around China and their growth slowdown. In fact, it happens every election cycle on the other side of the aisle. The China-bashing has begun.

Now, my kind of China-bashing involves thoughtful and sensible critiques of their deplorable human rights record. Instead, we have gotten a barrage of comments forcing observers to take notes on various candidates economic IQ’s.

Gov. Scott Walker, a respectable foe of union thugs, said that he has hardened on China in recent weeks because they have recently devalued their currency. He also called on them to implement free market reforms. Apparently, not a single aide of Gov. Walker’s mentioned that the currency devaluation came about as a result of them increasing market mechanisms towards such, meaning, laying off the interference that had been propping it up! The United States has threatened to call China a currency manipulator for two decades; now, they do as asked, and some candidates don’t like it?

The reality is that Sen. Rubio is right to hammer China for their piracy violations and massive flow of iniquities in the observance of human rights. But beyond standard politico-pandering, any suggestion that the United States is going to start a trade war with China any time soon is pure poppycock. If the United States wants to give China less leverage, she can shrink her deficit and balance her budget so as to regain the upper hand. In the meantime, the various threats Republican candidates are making against China remind me of what President Bush said to us at the SALT conference a few years ago about Obama’s campaign promise to shut down Guatanamo Bay:

“Oh. That never bothered me for a minute. I knew there was absolutely no chance he’d really do it once he got his very first national security briefing. No chance.”

Pandering to a low information voter on matters of economics is par for the presidential course. But the global state of affairs matters, and China is not a subject merely to score campaign points with at this time. Sober and sensible reflection of matters of global economic urgency are the need of the hour. Obama may run the full two terms of his presidency without China dominating the headlines. I assure you, the candidate we elect at the end of 2016 will not be so lucky.

Top Ten Signs that You Might Want to Consider Living Life at a Slower Speed

Each and every one of these “examples” below were pulled straight out of the actual real life of, well, yours truly. I, of course, am not promising to do anything about it. Just sayin’ …

(1) Those brief periods you find yourself in where wifi seems to be non-present or non-functioning cause you to grit your teeth, tighten up, and possibly even hyper-ventilate

(2) You find yourself upset at how long your Keurig coffee machine is taking 

(3) You get upset when a light is green instead of red because you wanted to reply to a text or email

(4) You travel with three portable iPhone chargers, two wall iPad chargers, two wall iPhone chargers, one surface pro charger, four wall USB chargers (for the portable iPhone chargers), and three chargers that you have never known what they were but are petrified to throw away

(5) You can proudly claim that you took in the gorgeous tundra of Alaskan glaciers with How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America

(6) You refuse to even consider entering a restroom without an analyst report in hand – home or otherwise 

(7) In fifth grade you were middle of the class in math and science but did an “extra credit report” for no extra credit whatsoever on the Falklands/Argentina/Britain mess and another on the problems with UNICEF

(8) You stop going to restaurants not on Open Table (this one may be legitimate)

(9) The blessing you cite most often after years of vision impairment being surgically healed is that you can take your glasses off to read in bed

(10) Your morning jacuzzi respite at your desert home requires three or more research reports, a book, an iPad, an iPhone, and two cups of coffee 

“When I Think Back to All I Learned in High School – An Autobiographical Reflection”

For those paying attention, the title to my article is, of course, edited in terms of what Paul Simon actually said in his masterpiece song, Kodachrome. “When I think back to all the CRAP I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I learned anything at all.” So said the great songwriter, and in it, captured what so many have said over a couple generations, and even worse, what is completely true for so many over a couple generations.

When I think back to the four years I was in high school, I confess to having mixed feelings about a lot of what happened. I haven’t spent a lot of time publicly discussion much of this, but my high school years did coincide with three events that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Three days after my freshman year ended, my mother took off, never to be seen again, eventually marrying the 21-year old kid she ran away with. A year after that, the high school I attended, the high school my now late father taught for, the high school I loved, closed down. Six months later, the church my father planted when I was five years old went through an ugly church split. Three events covering the middle high school years of my life. Readers can use their imaginations on the impact these events had on me and my family.

But here’s the thing – my high school years were among the greatest years of my life – those pivotal years where so much of who I am and who I would become were developed in a formative basis. They were filled with many occasions of joy, the kinds of memories people make a collage for or a bad teen movie. I had disappointments. I had exhilirations. I experienced ups and downs. And I began the process of getting to know myself, and ultimately, developing the one attribute I literally feel compelled to thank God for every day: Despite all the challenges I have experienced in my life, and believe me, I live a blessed life, but coming out of my high school years the early foundations were there to be content – to take what life gives you, even if sometimes it is on the chin – and to live with a sort of Fight On spirit that can enables one to survive significant moments of pain, stress, and worry. I don’t believe all I learned in high school was crap, and I don’t believe it’s a wonder I learned anything at all. Friends, this is the point I am making: I believe one’s high school years are SUPPOSED to be the greatest years of their life. I believe it is supposed to be positively remembered. I believe it should have an impact of formation and character development – even when it coincided with the deterioration of one’s family, school, and church. In that sense, what I am saying is that the high school years are a sort of bridge into adulthood that represent a certain magic. People should exit high school ready to fight the good fight; ready for adulthood; armed with joy and contentment.

It is among the great burdens in my life that for so many this is not the case. And since that date 25 years ago that the Newport Mesa community lost its aforementioned high school, there has been a void in this community, despite the existence of some very good schools. For those seeking a faith-based option with a particular academic rigor, the options have required significant commuting. Many have done so, such is the commitment parents often have for their children. I would drive my children to Sa Diego if I had to – that is how badly I want them to have a memorable and positive high school experience (okay, I’d hire a driver, but you get my point). Today marks the recreation of a high school learning institution in this community I live in – one that is dedicated to teaching kids to think and live well. Today we open Pacifica Christian High School of Orange County.

There have been a series of events in the planning, visioning, and launching of this school program that suggest God has been driving it each step of the way. Providence has ruled the day, and doors have opened, and individuals found, and events unfolded in such a way that some of us wonder if it has been a supernatural experience. My co-founders on the board are people of leadership and character. Our administrative team is what we call the “A team”, and having an “A team” in ANYTHING in Christendom these days is, shall I say, not common. Our faculty are first class educators who embody a relational model of teaching. God has been in this place, and He has not despised the day of small beginnings.

I do wax and wane nostalgically about my high school years. I had good friends, good times, and a sort of social structure came about that became a substitute to the tough things I had experienced in my personal life. I wish I had ready 60-70 pages of systematic theology, because I do truly believe the 10,000 I read was (a) Excessive, (b) Unassigned by a teacher, and (c) Damaging to my development. But I think of those years with a smile – with gratitude – from the basketball team to everything else. But here is the thing I want for Pacifica that I suffer from not having today as a 41-year old man. I am a highly productive person – I was very goal-oriented even in high school, and it has carried with me. My lifestyle is one many would not understand. I wake up very, very early, and I run at the speed of sound. God wired me how He wired me, and thank God my wife loves me for who I am. But when we talk about the young men and women of Pacifica being taught to think and live well, it is my heartfelt desire that this project we have embarked upon will create producers, culture changers, and people who impact the communities in which they live. I pray they will be taught first things, understanding the basic precepts by which a cohesive and coherent worldview can be formed. I pray they soak up every moment of social interaction, learn to interact with adults, learn to have friends, and learn to be a friend. BUT I ALSO pray that they learn to live their lives at a slower speed than I live mine. I pray they live through a prism of grace and truth, always and forever, never allowing one to exist at the expense of the other.

Today, the new journey begins.
Family PCHOC photo

Tapping into Something Serious: Tales of a Carnival Barker

I can handle a guy like Sean Hannity and a gal like Ann Coulter uttering the new stock answer all conservative talk radio types feel compelled to utter, but when the hyper-brilliant Mark Steyn said the same thing the other night, I knew the world had gone mad. There are folks actually willing to say they like Trump (Coulter is one of them). They represent the not very bright part of conservatives. There are people who just know he will flame out and that then this race can begin. George Will, National Review, the main GOP candidates, and if anyone cares, yours truly, are in this camp. And then there is this mealy-mouth, pitiful, irrational, sad tale of backboneless pandering that has taken over most everyone else (from people I think about not at all to people I actually like), and their approach is the:

“Well, you know, Trump has really tapped into something, and I think we have to look at the frustration the people have with Washington and the anger over immigration and look at that this all means …” (blah blah blah).

Look, if credible and intelligent people feel the need to legitimize the illegitimate and validate the invalid, the train has left the station. I remain resolute that there aren’t enough sociologically fragile people to take this carnival barker seriously into the primary win column come next winter/spring. His 22-25% is a shock to many of us, but it is far less than what Perry had in September 2011 and far less than what Guiliani had at this time in 2007. The clutter of the field has made this rise possible, together with a highly complicit media, a lowest-common denominator viewer, and the skill of a remarkable celebrity. A thrice-married, pro-choice until the debate, serial adulterer, single payer advocate, 75% wealth tax advocate, hyper protectionist, reality TV star has convinced 26% people he is a spokesperson for conservatism.

And we criticize Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner for saying he is a female?

Dear Lord. The chorus of Laura Ingraham and now my friend Mark Steyn, who are legitimizing Trump with those irresponsible and somewhat incoherent comments need to take a breath. Kim Kardashian has 38 million twitter followers and I feel no need to wonder what she her popularity means to our society. Some people get an audience because some people in an audience are not very bright. Is this news? The 2016 election is a serious election with serious implications for national security, personal liberty, economic growth, and a future vision for America. The Democrats are threatening to support the most corrupt cronyist degenerate their party has ever put forward, and that is saying something! We have several very, very good candidates, and there is no time for a carnival barker reality star narcissist like Trump. It is embarrassing for our party, our movement, and frankly, for our country.

That’s all I have to say about Trump for the time being.

Review of A Republic No More by Jay Cost

One of the very best books I have read this year has been Jay Cost’s delightful historical work on political corruption, A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of Political Corruption. I call it a historical work because the book’s major appeal transcends its ideological thesis: That the founders did not envision a government which would have the ambitions the federal government has taken on post-Industrial Revolution, and therefore did not design a government with the structures remotely capable of handling these big government tasks. That thesis is profound enough, and well-established in Mr. Cost’s fine work. But the historical body of evidence he provides for this culture of corruption which has become synonymous with much of American politics is simply extraordinary.

Cost’s thesis is not partisan, and he is not seeking to push readers towards an ideological bend. He establishes with well-reasoned and thoroughly-presented documentation that something has to give: If we are going to be a government that gives manna from heaven to farmers, a national senior care medical system (let alone an “everyone else” care medical system), a government housing program, a protector of industry – even antiquated ones, and all else it has taken on since the country’s founding, then we either are going to have to accept perpetual and distasteful corruption and waste, or we will have to re-design the very structure of our government which was very intentionally not designed for this. He offers (briefly) some temporary prescriptions in his conclusion, none of which I believe he actually sees as viable (the formation of a coalition between anti-corruption conservatives and anti-corruption liberals), but what the book really does is diagnose the historical roots of a bureaucracy grown out of control, and the inevitability of a bureaucracy grown corrupt.

The founders envisioned a country greater than one led by trial lawyers, public employee unions, and crony capitalists. Their vision had legs because they couldn’t imagine a government so large that it would provide oxygen to any of the aforementioned camps. The incremental reduction of government’s size will bring the exponential reduction of corruption and waste. But that size of government will be reduced only in exact proportion to the increase of individual responsibility within the citizenry. THAT is the need of the hour. And the cart will not go before the horse.