Tag Archives: Chinese

SECOND REPUBLICAN DEBATE

2nd rpublican debate

Senator Marco Rubio summed up current threats facing the United States during the Republican Presidential Debate on Wednesday evening.   These are not just threats to the US – the same threats are facing the entire Western world, whether you live in North America, Europe or Australasia.

“There is a lunatic in North Korea with dozens of nuclear weapons, with long-range rockets that can hit the very place where we are standing tonight; the Chinese are rapidly expanding their military and are hacking into our security systems; they are also building artificial islands in the South China Sea, the most important shipping lane in the world; a gangster in Moscow is not just threatening Europe – he’s been threatening to destroy and divide NATO; you have radical jihadists in dozens of countries across multiple continents and they even recruit Americans using social media to try to attack us here at home; and now we have this horrible deal with Iran where a radical Shia cleric with an apocalyptic vision of the future is also guaranteed to one day possess nuclear weapons and also long range rockets that can hit the United States.”

He continued to remind his audience that the most important responsibility of any president is to ensure the peace and safety of the American people, but what we have now is a president who is eviscerating the US military.   He added, that “we have a president who is more respectful to the ayatollah of Iran than to the Prime Minister of Israel.”

Senator Rubio was correct on every point.   He might have added the current invasion of Europe, which also threatens national and international security, though this has not unduly affected the United States yet.

The issues he mentioned are, of course, not the ones being discussed on television talk shows, where celebrity gossip and sensational revelations remain the staple of the day and night.   As syndicated conservative writer Mark Steyn put in a recent article:  “We will still be discussing transgendered bathrooms when the mullahs send their first nukes this way!”

I should add that a few of Wednesday night’s candidates had clearly taken an “International Relations 101” class since the last debate. That’s good, because they are going to need it, assuming one of them actually becomes an occupant of the White House.

Some final comments on CNN, the channel that hosted this debate (Fox hosted the first one).   Whereas Fox News is clearly more conservative, CNN is quite liberal, though not as liberal as MSNBC, which is avowedly liberal.   USA Today stated yesterday, the morning after the debate, that CNN had its highest ratings ever for the Republican debate – perhaps that should tell them something!

CNN may also want to vet its commentators better – a female journalist from the Chicago Sun-Times was asked to comment Thursday morning on one issue that came up in the debate: who should be on the $10 bill?   Right now, it’s Alexander Hamilton.   It is being suggested that the man who founded the US financial system should be replaced by a more recent female.  Carly Fiorina, the only woman candidate for the Republicans, felt this was an empty gesture during an Administration that has seen the numbers of women living below the poverty line increase by 3.5 million.   The journalist’s response was critical – that it makes no sense to keep a long since dead president on the currency.

For the record, Alexander Hamilton was never president.

Her comment is symbolic of a wider problem amongst journalists – ignorance of history, without which there can be no understanding of the present!

 

 

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OBAMA’S AFRICAN VISIT

Barack-Obama-Kenya

Only an African-American president could say it and get away with it!

President Obama on his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia was able to pointedly criticize African leaders for their corruption, human rights abuses, abuse of power and unwillingness to ever relinquish office.

Nobody could accuse him of racism.

Mr. Obama said things that have long needed to be said.

In contrast to his speeches on the Middle East, which are always filled with controversy and generally seem to make things worse, his speeches in Nairobi and Addis Ababa could only upset Africa’s corrupt leaders.   Ethiopian primary school teacher, Hikma Lemma had just one regret:  “He took too long to come.”   (“In Ethiopia, a cry for basic freedoms,” USA Today, July 28th.)

Things will not change quickly.  Indeed, they may not change at all, but it was still good to hear the president address these basic issues.

“Ethiopia jails the most journalists in Africa after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.   Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the country’s human rights record.   And in May, the State Department expressed concern over how the elections that month could result in all seats being won by the ruling party and its partners.   The department noted lingering ‘restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.” (ibid, USA Today).

At the start of his African trip, Mr. Obama spoke candidly to Kenyans, warning them against the twin evils of corruption and tribalism.  He could have addressed both issues in any of Africa’s 54 countries and his listeners would generally have applauded him. Only the leaders would have sat stone-faced and emotionless, probably wishing they had invited the Chinese leader to visit instead of the American president.   China, much more involved in Africa, does not comment on human rights abuses or corruption.

Boldly, Mr. Obama even addressed the persecution of gays in Africa. Most African governments deny that homosexuality even exists in their countries.   Certainly, all governments are guilty of a double standard in this regard.   At least one country has a prominently displayed sign in its airport warning “perverts and sexual deviants” to stay away, but saying nothing about the many prostitutes offering themselves in all the hotels.

In Addis Ababa, Mr. Obama addressed delegates of the African Union, whose headquarters are in Addis Ababa.   Introducing him was the Chairwoman of the AU, who did not always tell the truth. She criticized the United Nations because Africa is the only continent that does not have a permanent representative on the Security Council.   In actual fact, neither South America nor Australia are represented, either.

The US president expressed incredulity that any president would want to serve indefinitely.  He said he is looking forward to retirement and being able to go places without a massive security detail.  He said it was particularly difficult to understand when so many African presidents have so much money, another reference to corruption, enabling leaders to amass great wealth while their people go hungry.   Unwillingness to leave office is also linked to corruption – African presidents fear being investigated for corruption when they stand down.

Underscoring his points was the absence of the current AU Chairman Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, one of the richest men on earth.   Mr. Mugabe has been president of his country since independence in 1980, presiding over a number of rigged elections.

Mr. Obama mentioned, too, that Americans don’t want to keep on sending Africa free food, but would rather teach Africans how to farm more efficiently.   He could have added that the continent would do well to encourage western (white) farmers to remain in Africa, as their farming skills produce greater crop yields.   Zimbabwe was once the grain basket of Africa – it’s people now go hungry because Mr. Mugabe evicted the white farmers.

Western reporters were also guilty of not telling the whole truth. Much was said during coverage of the African visit about what America is doing for Africa, with some focus on a program to help those with AIDS, a disease that, in Africa, is transmitted almost exclusively by heterosexuals.   Not once did I hear mention of the fact that the program was the initiative of George W. Bush, Mr. Obama’s predecessor.   With this one single program, he did more for Africa than any other president.

It would be nice to think that, with this one single visit to Africa, President Obama might accomplish something else on a grand scale – the end of corruption, together with real progress toward greater democracy.   The two together would boost the living standards of the entire continent.

It remains to be seen whether his visit will make a difference.   But his candid comments were certainly a good start!

 

“SEND IN THE MOMS!” (BUT WHERE ARE THE DADS?)

Baltimore mom

Video of a mother pushing her teenage son away from the Baltimore riots has been shown across the world.   One television news station quipped:  “Send in the moms!” as the solution to the rioting.

This raises a pertinent question – Where are the dads?

When young African-American males are killed by white policemen, invariably it’s the mothers who are interviewed.   If there is a male in the room, it’s likely a step-father.

This is not just an African-American problem.   School shootings are usually the work of young white males.   Again, when reporters cover a shooting, it becomes clear that there was no father around.

But it’s African-American families that suffer most from absentee fathers, though whites are not far behind.

In 2011, it was reported that 72% of black children were born to unwed mothers.

The same source reports that, in 2005, 39% of African-American children did not live with their biological father and a further 28% had no substitute father in the home.   This means that two-thirds of African-American teenage boys have no father figure in their lives.(Wikipedia:  African-American family structure.)

It should, therefore, not be surprising that a disproportionate percentage of our prison population is made up of black males.   Without a strong father figure at home, boys are more likely to get into trouble, regardless of race.

Media coverage of this year’s riots gives the world the impression that America is inherently a racist society.   How can this be, when Indians, all fairly recent immigrants from India, now have a per capita income higher than whites?   They are dark skinned but do well.   Chinese and Japanese Americans are also more successful than whites.

The difference is the family structure.   These three ethnic groups have a strong family structure.   As one Indian told me when I was visiting India, “It’s unthinkable for an Indian man to desert his family!”

But we shouldn’t blame all of this on African-American adult males.   They must take their share of the blame – babies born out of wedlock are the result of fornication, which the Bible condemns as a sin (I Corinthians 6:18).

But blame also falls elsewhere.

Although the numbers of black couples living together in a traditional family had been falling gradually with every census from 1880 to 1960, the numbers took a dramatic dive with the 1970 census.

The reason for this is government – and the white liberals behind it.

In 1965, LBJ’s War on Poverty set out to improve the lot of mothers, who soon found they were better off being taken care of by Uncle Sam than their husbands.

It wasn’t long before mothers were kicking their husbands out, if they had even bothered to marry at all.

The end result is the level of violence we see in our inner cities, including the recent rioting.

God warned us of this.   Malachi 2:16 says:   “For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence.”

There’s a connection between broken homes and violence – and not just in the home.

Certainly, police need better training in conflict resolution, but the real problem begins in the home.   That’s where it should be resolved.

IS THIS HOW DEMOCRACIES PERISH?

us-government-we-need-a-tow

It’s election season in both the United States and the United Kingdom.   People on both sides of the Atlantic are enduring the nightly trauma of electioneering.

The good news is that, in the UK, the election will be over in two weeks.   On the other side of the pond, we have another nineteen months and a few days to go.

Watching both elections on television, I’ve been asking myself:  Is this how democracies perish?

Every politician seems to promise the moon, while at the same time avoiding any issue of substance.

There was a time when government had only two responsibilities – national security, without which there would be no country, and the maintenance of a stable currency, without which there would be financial chaos.

That’s all changed in the last hundred years.   Now governments have their hands in everything – and the electorate responds by holding out their own hands begging for more.

Can we ever turn the clocks back to the big two?   Life would be a lot better all round if government got off our backs and concentrated on nothing but defense and currency stability.

For all its claims to be a “people’s republic” (a communist term), China’s government doesn’t seem to do anything except defend the people and ensure the stability of their currency.   Of course, the role of the military in China involves a great deal of oppression.   But, when it comes to the economy, they have a free enterprise system that is working a lot better than any of ours in the West.

The British government boasts of a growth rate that is less than 3%, while China laments theirs is down to only 7%.   Whose system works best?

The Chinese government is not likely to look to the Bible for inspiration, but they should heed the lessons contained in I Samuel, chapter 8.  In this chapter, the people asked Samuel for a king, like all the other nations.

God was not pleased with this and warned the people of what to expect:

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king.   11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you:   He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.   12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.   13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.   14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants.   15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants.   16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work.   17 He will take a tenth of your sheep.   And you will be his servants.   18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” (vs 8-18)

You get the idea.   This is the first recording of Parkinson’s Law, that government inevitably expands, costing the tax-payer more and more money.   The problem in the US and UK is democracy, with the people wanting more and more.   Inevitably, this leads to government expanding.   It’s a warning to China not to democratize!

We have a special election in Michigan in a few days.   A proposal is being put before the people to raise the sales tax by another 1%.   It may not sound like much, but if you buy a used car for $10,000 right now, the tax will be $600.   After the vote, it would be $700.

The money is to be used to fix our roads, which would be a disgrace even in Africa.

While many will vote “yes” because they are tired of their cars hitting massive potholes, they are failing to look at the bigger picture.   Where has all the money gone that was previously allocated to roads?   If they look closely, they will find that it’s expanded the bureaucracy and given employees higher salaries and greater benefits, in the form of pensions and healthcare.   It has also been revealed that the state department responsible for roads has lost the warranties on roads that were previously fixed by private contractors, meaning that the taxpayer will have to pay again for the same repairs!

Additionally, the state has been wasteful.   Detroit was bailed out to the tune of $191 million.

A new “Welcome Center” is being built at the Capitol, costing an estimated $100 million.   A new State Police headquarters was built for $38 million, when the previous building was quite adequate and rented for $1 per year thanks to a generous donation.   The list goes on and on.   Waste, waste and even more waste.   It’s easy to spend other peoples’ money.

Government is inherently profligate.   The less we have of it the better.   Our ancestors understood that, which is one reason why Great Britain and the United States rose to great wealth and power.

Sadly, their descendants think that more government is the solution to every problem.   As we go down this road, the burdens on the taxpayer will only increase until we collapse under the weight of our own excess.

Perhaps we should all learn a lesson from HSBC, the world’s third biggest bank.   The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation moved its headquarters to London when Hong Kong reverted to China.   They are now thinking of moving back, to either Hong Kong or Singapore, both run by ethnic Chinese.   Taxes are lower and there is far less government regulation in these two city-states.

If they do move, it will be a big blow to London’s status as the world’s primary financial center.

This is one of those major issues the politicians are likely to avoid, as no government will stick its neck out to defend the banks.

How long our democracies last will be determined by how much government the people want.   On that score, things are not looking good on either side of the Atlantic.

1

SINGAPORE LOSES ITS FOUNDING FATHER

Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore is one of the greatest success stories of the modern world.

The modern history of the country started in 1819, just under 200 years ago.  The British were looking for a strategic location to base their growing merchant and naval fleets and to thwart Dutch regional influence.

The then Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolan in Sumatra, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, landed in Singapore after surveying neighboring islands.   A colony was soon founded with a population of only 150. Today, the population is almost 5.5 million.   Singapore’s success was based on free trade, which made it a vibrant commercial center, attracting merchants from all over Asia, the Middle East and the United States, as well as Great Britain, which dominated the globe in the nineteenth century.

The port city saw its greatest period of growth after the British opened the Suez Canal in 1869.   Control of vital sea-gates around the globe contributed to the dominance of the British Empire.   It was possible for British vessels to sail from England to Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus in the Mediterranean, before continuing their journey through the Suez Canal and Aden, then on to points east, including Singapore.   The naval base at Singapore enabled the British to dominate the Far East and Australasia.   Singapore was a vital sea-gate, one of the arteries of empire.   Many believe this fulfilled the prophecy in Genesis 22:17 that Abraham’s descendants would “possess the gates of their enemies.”

Everything went well until the Japanese attacked the city the day after Pearl Harbor.   Once regarded as an impregnable fortress, the city surrendered on 15th March, 1942.   It remained under Japanese occupation for three-and-a-half-years.   Looking back, it was a major turning point in the decline and fall of the British Empire, perhaps the biggest single turning point.   It showed that the seemingly invincible British, a white race that ruled the greatest empire in history, could be defeated by a non-white peoples considered backward and inferior.

After the defeat of Japan, the British returned, but it was impossible to return to the pre-war order.   New political parties were formed that campaigned for independence.

In 1963, the people of Singapore voted to join the new Malaysian Federation, which the British had created six years earlier.   Only two years later, Singapore, an island of mostly Chinese immigrants, had to leave the Moslem dominated federation and go it alone.

In 1965, at the time of independence, the total Gross National Product of Singapore was only $1 billion.   Fifty years later, it’s $300 billion.   Per capita income has grown from less than $500 per year to well over $55,000, second only to Japan in East Asia.   The island state has been transformed in fifty years from a Third World outpost to a thriving city-state that belongs proudly to the First World of wealthy, affluent countries.

This achievement was the work of one man, Lee Kuan Yew, the longest serving prime minister in the world (from 1959 to 1990). Singapore’s former prime minister died at the weekend.   The man who cried when the federation broke up and Singapore had to go it alone, had a clear vision of what was needed – a free enterprise system which would become a regional financial center.   This does not mean that government was not involved.   He was mildly authoritarian, with restrictions on freedom of speech and the press.   He also oversaw massive public housing projects, which contributed to a rising standard of living for the people. The US could learn from its medical system.

He leaves behind a wealthy, efficient and honest administration – one of the modern world’s greatest success stories.   Other developing nations, struggling to survive in the contemporary world, could learn a great deal from Singapore and the man who built its modern economy.

Singapore is also symbolic of Asia’s growing might, accompanied by the decline of its former imperial master Great Britain, and the West in general.

The world has changed a great deal in the fifty years since Singapore became an independent republic.   It’s experience should give many nations pause for thought and reflection.

 

COMMENTARY

Dollar

I want to begin by clarifying something I wrote in yesterday’s post.     I shared a quote from Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group, “The dollar is the indispensable currency,” she said. I added that, on this point, she is correct.

I should have added two words to that comment, “for now.”

The dollar right now is riding high and doing better than other major currencies.  But that does not mean the dollar is really strong. In fact, just yesterday Singapore and China announced the start of direct currency trading, bypassing the US dollar, which has been volatile and is not backed by anything. It’s just paper and is held up by confidence and nothing else. Note the following from Channel News Asia.

“BEIJING:  China will allow direct trading between its currency and the Singapore dollar from Tuesday (Oct 28), making it easier for companies here to do business with their Chinese counterparts.

The Sing dollar will be added to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) platform, which currently offers transactions between the yuan and 10 foreign currencies. The announcement came on Monday (Oct 27), after an agreement at the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Suzhou, co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

Previously, companies that wanted to convert a large amount of Sing dollars to renminbi (RMB) or vice versa had to do so via an intermediate currency such as the US dollar.

“This will lower foreign exchange transaction costs and encourage greater use of the two currencies in cross-border trade and investments,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a news release on Monday.

DPM Teo called this is a “major and significant” development which will reduce the cost of doing business and make it more convenient.”

Singapore is a major hub for the internationalization of the Chinese currency.   Some predict China will overtake America as the number one economy next year.   This means China can take on the burden of being a trading currency just as the US dollar has been.

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I’ve been reading a novel by Brad Thor set in Afghanistan. The 2009 book is titled “The Apostle.” The author clearly knows the country well and I’ve learned a lot about Afghanistan from it. Frankly, the book is as close to the country as I want to get!

I would like to share two paragraphs with you. The subject is not Afghanistan. The main character is Harvath.

“Harvath just couldn’t understand the liberal mindset. He was convinced that they believed deeply in what they said and what they did; his only problem was that it so often flew in the face of reality. They continually focused their rage on their protectors rather than their enemy. They denigrated their country, believing it was the source of all evil in the world. The truth was, when it came to Islam, it had been violent since its inception. Its clearly stated goal was worldwide conquest. And while Harvath believed there were peaceful and moderate Muslims, he knew from studying the religion that there was no such thing as peaceful and moderate Islam.

“The entire religion was a mess and needed a complete gut-rehab. And though he had a good feeling his country’s new president would probably not agree with him, he also knew that until the politically correct crowd stopped making excuses for them and undercutting any motivation to reform their religion themselves, the majority of Muslims wouldn’t do anything . . . Islam had been Islam for fourteen hundred years and what it had been was violent.”

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Which reminds me of the three teenage girls, all born in the USA and from the Denver area, who were detained in Frankfurt en route to Syria to fight with ISIS. All three were of Sudanese and Somali descent. It is not necessarily the case any more that second generations born in America become more American. It seems that, when it comes to Islam, assimilation doesn’t work any more.

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This is certainly the case in Tower Hamlets, a rundown poverty stricken area of east London, profiled this morning on PBS’ Focus on Europe. Tower Hamlets has the UK’s highest percentage of Muslims, over 30%. They are mostly from Bangladesh and Somalia.   A recent election there has led to accusations of corruption, including vote rigging. This is unheard of in British elections. Or was, until a significant percentage of Muslims took over an area and introduced their own brand of politics, just like home.

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It may seem a big jump from ISIS to Downton Abbey but it’s appropriate at this point.   The fifth series is already showing in the UK on ITV. It starts in the US on January 4th. Apparently, Lord Grantham is going to lose his dog in this series. The reason is quite simple – the dog is named Isis. Lord Grantham has had his dog for four seasons of the show, while the terrorist group is quite new. But viewers do not want to be reminded of terrorism when watching the series in their living rooms. Besides, Isis joined the family in 1912 and the series is now up to 1924. That’s about it for a Labrador’s lifespan.   Ours only made it to five.

EAST MEETS WEST IN HONG KONG

HONG-KONG-facebook

It’s not surprising that thousands of people are demonstrating in Hong Kong. The real wonder is that they took so long.

After 150 years of British rule, the colony reverted to China at the end of June, 1997.

It was the last major colony of the British Empire. It was also one of the Empire’s greatest success stories. Chinese entrepreneurship was combined with British administration. The result was one of the most prosperous pieces of real estate in the world.

The British exported democracy to every one of their colonies. As Hong Kong was leased from China, democracy came rather late to the territory. But Hong Kong residents clearly got a taste for it. This seems to have taken Beijing by surprise.

According to the agreement the British made with China before the handover, an agreement known as the Basic Law, Hong Kong can preserve its separate way of life for fifty years, until 2047.   It’s in China’s best interests to honor the agreement. The reason for this is that China wants Taiwan back in the Chinese fold. Any repression of HK’s way of life will likely stop that from happening.

An election is due in HK next year, for a new Chief Executive. The present crisis began because Beijing is insisting on vetting all candidates. They want submissive, co-operative people ruling the territory.

This is a classic clash of civilizations, East vs. West.

The last British Governor, Chris Patten, wrote years ago (and repeated on the BBC yesterday) that, when he sought Beijing’s opinion on holding an election before the handover, the Chinese replied that they had nothing against elections – they just wanted to know the result in advance!

This is the crux of the problem. The Chinese do not understand democracy. They do not envy the United States or any other western country. Rather, they see the West as morally corrupt and degenerate. They have no desire to see western values in their own country. As far as they are concerned, westerners have too much freedom. Henry Kissinger once asked the Chinese leader what he thought of the United States. His response was that “it’s too early to tell.”

The Chinese have shown that it’s possible to have free enterprise without the other freedoms – of speech, religion and government by the people.

At the same time, the West does not understand China. Reporting from HK shows that there is a naïve optimism in the West, that this is the start of China becoming like us. People should not hold their breath – the average lifespan of a Chinese dynasty is about 300 years. The Chinese Peoples’ Republic celebrated its 65th anniversary two days ago. Western style democracy is not likely in the near future.