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Who Would You Cast as Cassidy Hutchinson?

Alexander Butterfield testifying at Watergate (PBS)

On Thursday, December 22, 2022, at 9:42 PM ET, I issued the blog 2023: The Year of Indictments. The opening line was:

What a week and it is not even over.

The closing was:

And there is more to come.

About ten minutes later, the Trump hit the fan with the release of the 845-page of the House Select Committee. That action has made it very difficult to keep up in my blogs with the historic news of the visit of Zelenskyy and the disclosure of the former President’s tax returns. While a newspaper can cover multiple stories on one day, for a blogger this means catch-up. But by the time you catch-up, it’s on to the next big story.

Be that as it may, there are several big takeaways from the House Select Committee that may be overlooked in the haste to read the report while being interviewed live on a cable talk show.


For weeks if not months we have been hearing about the slew of investigations the Freedom Caucus will conduct once it is part of the majority party in the House of Representatives. Clear your calendar and save your paper has been the mantra. Prepare for shock and awe or a blitzkrieg or whatever metaphor you wish to use.

The House Select Committee report is game changer for such efforts. Bluntly put, the Freedom Caucus us out of its league if it attempts to produce anything even roughly comparable as a media presentation or in print to what the House Select Committee has done. That Committee has raised the bar for what committees should produce.

Remember after January 6 when Jim Jordan was asked about his telephone calls to the President of the United States? His answers made him a laughing stock. Now that same person will be in charge of investigating the number one issue in the United States today – the laptop of Hunter Biden. Democrats would be wise simply to stand back and let the Freedom Caucus make a spectacle of itself. John Durham spent over $6 million for what? We could use some comic relief from Congress and the Freedom Caucus is poised to provide it.

If you have any doubts, considered the report just issued by Republicans on the breakdown in security on January 6 due to Nancy Pelosi. They have yet to explain why tourists engaged in legitimate political discourse would even generate special security. What would warrant anything unusual being done if patriotic Americans were touring the Capitol? Oh! Of course. They were Antifa and FBI plants in a false flag operation, all 900 of them. The inability of freedom Caucus to think things through guarantees anything it produces will be a joke especially in comparison to what the House Select Committee did. The Freedom Caucus should stick to short sound bites on Foxhub rather than try to emulate what they lack the mental necessities to produce.

In the meantime, there investigations will serve to trash the Republican brand for the upcoming election.


In the blog yesterday, I reviewed the various indictments expected in 2023. Here is what I wrote about witness tampering:

Witness tampering is hard to prove so let us wait and see what else is in the transcripts or what the DOJ uncovers.

Ten minutes later, the House Select Committee dropped a bombshell on witness tampering. Cassidy Hutchinson detailed the efforts by Stefan Passsantino, a Trump-affiliated lawyer to ensure her testimony would not be critical of the former President. Hutchinson described the personal ordeal she experienced as she confronted the reality she would not be able to look herself in the mirror if she complied with the instructions from the free lawyer with whom she never entered a service agreement and whose source of funding remains unknown. These scenes in the movie and/or TV series will be the ones actresses will be clamoring to portray.

In the midst of this anguish, an important thought came to her. She might not be the first person in American history to have undergone such an experience. So she turned to that great fount of corruption in American Presidential politics, Watergate. There she found the comfort and solace she needed in the person of Alexander Butterfield, a White House aide during Watergate. He is not as well known today as the Howard Baker moment, but he was the one who testified to the   Senate Watergate Committee that President Richard Nixon had a taping system in place in the Oval Office. With that revelation soon it was the missing 18 minutes and soon afterwards the Nixon resignation. It was striking on Thursday night after my blog had been sent to then see Butterfield on tape testifying to the Senate and then conversing on-line with Laurence O’Donnell. I confess I would not have recognized him 50 years apart.

This situation between Hutchinson and Passsantino reminded me a little of a #MeToo scenario. Here the older male was dangling job and financial security if only the younger woman would play ball. True there was no sex involved but one should underestimate the power differential and how difficult it was for her to wrench herself free of the Trump grasp.

Yesterday I wrote about the alternate elector scam precisely targeting the battleground states a candidate needed to win in 2024. I suggested that the media coverage of the scandal will tarnish the Republican image throughout the year. Now we see the white suburban college educated women will receive the same treatment in the Cassidy Hutchinson situation and be repelled but how she was treated … or do you think they will identify with Stefan Passantino? It is as if Trump is a one-man wrecking ball against the very audiences the Republicans seek to win over.

As for Passantino, he has taken a leave of absence. For inspiration, he does not need to go back 50 years. He should be on the phone with Michael Cohen, an earlier fixer. This is Passantino’s “come to Jesus” “look in the mirror” moment that will shape the rest of his life. Who was paying him? Was he in direct contact with Mark Meadows, Donald Trump, or both? Are there other people he was “counseling”? Will Cassidy Hutchinson revelations cause other witnesses to step forward in a cascading effect? Passantino does not have much time to decide what he wants to do now that he is in the crosshairs.

“as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us”

 On a recent talk show, the question was asked what does the world think of us as we work our through legal actions against a former President. The question called to mind the words of John Winthrop on the Arabella as it prepared to sail for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. Centuries later those words directly or in paraphrase became part of American mythology as an expression of America’s destiny in the world.

This past week we have had two shining examples that illustrate the indispensable position of the United States of America as the leader of the world in the quest for democracy and freedom. By no means does it mean the United States has always lived up to the ideals embedded within that phrase. Certainly the Woke have carved out a niche for themselves in their constant belittling of everything the United States has done. And the MAGAs with their voter suppression and support for the insurrection have n acquitted themselves well as false patriots.

Still, in the real world in which we live, there is no substitute for American leadership. Zelenskyy made that point quite clear although he did not use this phrase. The party of Reagan who used it against the Soviet Union has abandoned it. But in the span of a few brief days we had the opportunity to glimpse what is exceptional about this country, that we can stand up for freedom as Ukraine battles against Putin and his genocide, that we can hold people in power accountable. Both efforts remain precarious and subject to reversal.

But the visit of Zelenskyy to the chamber of the House of Representatives and the investigation of the President who assaulted that very chamber rather than accept a peaceful transfer of power after he had lost show that the vision is not mere words. Now that the winter solstice has passed and Christmas is upon us, we should rejoice that we still are a city on a hill, the eyes of the world are still upon us, and they still light our way to a better to tomorrow.

City on a Hill to Trumphole Country: A Day in the Life of America’s Worst President Ever (July 10, 2020)

Do Trumpicans Want to Survive? (Courtesy Simply Psychology)

One day there will be a story told of how the United States degenerated from a City on a Hill in the 1980s to the Trumphole country it has become today. It is a sad story of decline where the resolution is not yet known and the restoration has not yet begun. Whether or not the downward spiral of the United States will be halted or when we will begin to dig ourselves of the very deep hole that America’s worst President ever has dug remains to be seen.

It wasn’t that long ago when things were different. In the 1980s, President Reagan ran as a City on Hill President. He confronted the leader of the Evil Empire with the famous call in Berlin to “tear down that wall.” A short time later, both the wall and the Soviet Union collapsed.

By contrast, only a few decades later, Putin’s Pence is complicit in the Russian scheme that offered bounties to the Taliban for killing American soldiers. What once would have been unthinkable and an impeachable offense scarcely makes the front page given all the other actions or lack of actions by Swampbuilder. In addition, he is far from welcome in Germany today, a country he treats more as an enemy than he does Russia.

No one day can be definitively defined as the bottom of the barrel in this administration. There is always something new to startle us – see the Puerto Rico sale? Maybe China will purchase Puerto Rico after buying Iran in another coup for the American deal-maker.  In this blog, let’s examine just a slice of the decline by focusing on one day. It is an approach that can be used for any number of days. I choose to use the morning paper (NYT) of July 10, 2020, as an starting point to illustrate how much of a Trumphole country we have become.

The frontpage above the fold headline was deceptive: “President Is Not ‘Above the Law,’ Justices Decide.” Why should such a headline even be necessary? No one in their right mind would say that the President is above the law. My purpose in mentioning it is not to discuss the absurd claim made by the lawyers who should be disbarred that was shot down by the Court. Rather it is to note that by the time I sat down that evening to read the paper, the legal world had been turned upside down with the commutation of the sentence of renowned political operative and trickster Roger Stone.

The incongruity of trying to read the paper with that headline while listening to the talk shows was overwhelming. On the one hand, we were to congratulate ourselves for being a country of the rule of law despite the authoritarian proclivities of our leader; on the other hand, here was proof positive that, with the strong encouragement of key political advisor Sean Hannity, we really were a Trumphole country.

Unfortunately, going through the newspaper page by page painted a bleak picture.


The first news pages (1, 4-10, 14) covered the coronavirus at home and abroad. This has become typical for the reporting format. At this point, the wartime President is in complete retreat. All he can do now is repeatedly claim victory, call for a miracle, and engage in happy talk about nobody in the world is doing better than he did. [It turns out he is capable of taking vigorous action: disparage Fauci! That will put the coronavirus in its place; for a preview of this attack see The Twilight Zone and the Coronavirus April 8, 2020.]

Back on May 21, 2020, I wrote a blog Friday Night Lights: Risking Lives for the Dow. It was written just after we celebrated V-Zero Day over the coronavirus per the White House Council of Economic Advisers. It was written just before we would be looking back at the crisis per the Vice President of the United States. I raised the issue of Friday Night Lights football as a canary in the mine prelude to the return to school debate. Come August, it would be time to start practicing. Even before classroom schooling was scheduled to begin in September, there would be this moment of truth. Schools would decide yea or nay on authorizing football practice. Football is an essential component of the social fabric of many communities especially in Texas where the book, movie, and TV series were set.

What has happened since then? Even though at the federal level, the fight against the coronavirus has ceased, at the state level it has not. Trumpican governors for the most part have been forced to abandon the happy talk for the real world. The situation is dire in many states. Not only were we late to the war, we fought it badly. At this point we have the national record for the number of cases daily. Florida exceeds New York at its worst. Florida each day surpasses many countries to date in total! Medical facilities are being maxed out. Medical personnel are being stretched to their breaking point and sometimes beyond. It’s as if April-June never occurred. What do we have to show for the effort then outside New York and some other states?

So on Thursday, the NBC headline was:

Friday night lights could go out in Texas as coronavirus threatens high school football

The superintendent of Dallas schools, Michael Hinojosa, says he doubts there will be gridiron action this fall.

The Dallas Superintendent channeled his inner Fauci in responding to questions about the potential delay. SHOW ME THE DATA! His decision would be based on the facts on the ground, not out-of-touch baby talk from our clueless President.

The decision goes beyond football. The vow that schools will open is backed by nothing. Then there are issues:

1. will parents obey the command of the wartime commander to risk their kids especially as the number of cases skyrockets? – STOP THE TESTING and the problem will be solved!

2. how many more teachers will take early retirement complicating the staffing problem even more?

Yes, parents would love to be able to send their kids back to school but they don’t want to commit suicide in so doing.


Headline: “Top General Says He’ll Be ‘Outraged’ if Bounties Are True” (page 13)

Will there be an impeachment in December?


Headline: “White Pressured NOAA Officials” (page 15)

How much longer will Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson remain on the job? In addition, tampering with National Weather maps is a civil (criminal?) offense. While it is not an impeachable offense, it still is illegal. There will be a special exhibit in the Unpresidential Library about Sharpiegate.

Unfortunately, the significance of Sharpiegate is worse than that. If someone cannot admit error on a hurricane path, what are the chances of admitting error on coronavirus? If a person rates a 10 and wouldn’t change anything he did, what is his explanation for why there are over 135000 Americans dead now? Why did Europe quarantine us? There’s really nothing that could have been done differently? Ask him.


Headline: “Judge Asks Full Court to Hear Flynn Case” (page 17)

Does anyone think Flynn spend any time in jail? There will be a special exhibit in the Unpresidential Library about Michael Flynn.


Headline: “Ousted U.S. Attorney Recounts Tense meeting with Barr at Luxury Hotel” (page 20). There will be an entire room in the Unpresidential Library about the Russian Collusion.


On Friday, before the commutation, the Very Stable Genius shared with the American people some unbelievable information he had acquired:

“Like people don’t remember, nobody ever heard of it until I came along, nobody remembered it for a long time, or they didn’t use it at least, I use it all the time: Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. You know you say that and people say, ‘I didn’t know that’, but he was Republican, so we’re doing a great job.” 

He seems to repeat this claim frequently. Why he repeats this to his Confederate audiences, I do not know. Maybe he thinks they admire Lincoln along with Lee. Regardless, he is so proud of himself for this knowledge. It’s like acing his cognitive skills test that showed he was not demented. When I wrote about his knowing Lincoln was a Republican three years ago (My Birthday and the Day I Was Born Are the Same Day: Previewing the 2020 Election [Part 1] May 17, 2017), I asked why he thought Lincoln was a Democrat in the first place. My best guess is the Civil Rights March at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Imagine what Fred Trump must have said about that gathering to his teenager son. His lack of knowledge about Lincoln reinforces the claims of Mary Trump. When you don’t know Lincoln was a Republican, you damn well better hire someone to take your SATs.

The comment also shows a learning disability. He is capable of learning that Lincoln was a Republican. But he is not capable of learning that everyone already knew that. You would think after boasting about his superior knowledge once, he then would have shut up for repeating what seventh graders know [in New York, seventh grade social studies traditionally has ended with the Civil War].

And then to wrap up the day there was the Roger Stone commutation. There will be a special exhibit in the Unpresidential Library about Roger Stone, too.

It looks like we are past the moment of truth for the Trumpican Party. Back on June 8, 2020, I wrote Mitch McConnell: Howard Baker (Time to Go) vs Stay the Course (Go Down with the Ship). I suggested that McConnell had a decision to make as an adult who lived in the real world. I had no expectations that he would be a profile in courage and he hasn’t been. Since then, there was a teacher on Cuomo Prime Time who mentioned Maslow (the hierarchy of needs). She did so to express her concern for teacher safety and security in returning to the classroom. The unmentioned first level is for survival. Apparently no Republicans including McConnell are interested in it except the Never Trumpers.

The China Hannitys versus the American Hannitys: The 2020 Olympics

The First Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh Expose a Hoax

The China Hannitys versus the American Hannitys: The battle is engaged. Right now the Hannitys of both countries are battling each other for world supremacy. Who is #1? The Middle Kingdom or the City on a Hill? To some extent, they are not in direct conflict with each other, since each appeals primarily to a domestic audience. In this regard the Chinese probably have the advantage. They are aware of the criticisms of China in the international arena and are responding to it. They also know that the United States is dependent on China for medical supplies and that the President continually praises the Chinese leader.

The United States

Turning to the American position, it doesn’t look so good at the moment. During World War II, the United States was an arsenal for democracy. It initiated the Lend Lease program including aiding China. It was the go to country for world leadership. The United Nations was headquartered in New York, the center of the universe. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States became the world’s only superpower. So how did America do during the era of baby boom Presidents?

When the history of the era of baby boom Presidents is written, it doesn’t seem likely that the United States or that generation will fare too well. It is unlikely that after the first Iraq war that anyone predicted that less than 30 years later the United States would have self-destructed its world leadership position from internally caused actions (second Iraq war, Afghanistan, 2016 elections). We are no longer an arsenal for democracy. We cannot provide material assistance to others. We abandon global organizations instead of creating and/or leading them. We only have transactional relationships where every other country is a foe in a zero-sum relationship with us. There is no more win-win. Our simple-minded immature child President lacks the mental necessities to even understand yet alone propose a global identity for the country.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed America’s abandonment of being a City on a Hill. “Disease in a World without a Leader” was the headline of an article in Time (Yuval Noah Harari, 3/21/20).

“(W)e are now facing this crisis bereft of global leaders who can inspire, organize and finance a coordinated global response.”

 The Ebola crisis of 2014 and the financial crisis of 2008 were two recent examples where the United States took a leadership role.

 “But in recent years the U.S. has resigned its role as global leader…(T)he U.S. no longer has only real friends, only interests.. The void left by the U.S. has not been filled by anyone else.

Our former friends laugh at the ignorant and immature American President to his face at the U.N. and behind his back at international meetings.

The NYT headline, “In This Crisis, U.S. Sheds Its Role as Global Leader” (3/22/20) delivers the same message. The World War II era is over. There is no Franklin Delano Roosevelt to lead the world. Instead the American President seeks to liberate Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia and has withdrawn from the WHO. He cannot rise to the occasion. His followers are perfectly willing to cheer “We’re #2. We’re #2. We’re #2.” They have no interest in the United States being a City on a Hill that the eyes of the world are upon.

Still hope springs eternal. In an op-ed piece, Samantha Power, former American representative to the United Nations, put her heart on the line in the hope that one day the United States will be #1 again (NYT 4/9/20). Despite the actions of the American President to withdraw from the international arena and weaken America influence throughout the world, that world still looks to the United States for leadership. She decries the zero-sum approach the simple-minded President brought to the efforts to obtain necessary medical equipment. She dismisses the idea that China can create a global crisis coalition, a goal that China has not yet attained. She yeans for America to take a leadership role in the COVID-19 crisis, but that can’t happen until January, 2021, at the earliest.


So America and the COVID-19 crisis have handed the Middle Kingdom an opportunity on a silver platter. While the United States is still the financial capital of the world, China has replaced it as the manufacturing capital of the world. It makes what the world wants. It binds the countries through purchases of the natural resources needed do manufacture goods. China has become a leading trade partner practically everywhere. Its Belt and Road Initiative works to bind the countries of the world to it as vassals, not colonies. Hollywood would not dare defy it. There is no more Taiwan on American airlines. Who would criticize China’s handling of the CORVID-19 crisis?

Now we have the competing stories. The China Hannitys praise the great leadership of Xi Jinping. He acted swiftly, boldly, and decisively. First he rescued China with his lockdowns. Now he stands ready to aid the world. He will save the world from the scourge unleashed by American military personnel when they visited China. What America has wrought, China will repair. All we have to do is put our trust in China, its superior system, its superior leader, its rightful place as the Middle Kingdom in the cosmic center as the world leader.

The American Hannitys take issue with China’s position. China is the source of the scourge. China is the one who acted dishonestly. It did not reveal the truth of the extent of the virus and that it could be transferred from person to person even when there was no sign of the infection. It is China who owes the world for the damage and destruction it has inflicted on it. It is the American President who acted swiftly, boldly, and decisively as he learned the truth that China tried to hide.

The American Hannitys have a track record of success it can draw on to convict China of its guilt in the court of world opinion. Remember how they uncovered Seth Rich at the center of the Russian contacts. The American Hannitys exposed the Russian collusion as a hoax. The American Hannitys exposed the Ukranian extortion as a hoax. The American Hannitys exposed the CORVID-19 as a hoax. With all these successes behind it, exposing the China fraud should be easy.

And the Winner Is….

So here were are. America on its own has abandoned its position as world leader. China is rushing to fill the void but is falling short. Its restrictive currency and racist xenophobic society make it an unlikely choice for world leader. It can dominate vassals by economic force but there will never be a line of people seeking to emigrate there. When people vote with their feet, they still vote America.

While we are no longer #1, we could regain that position. We can do so partly because there still is no alternative to American leadership: either it is us [post WWII] or no one [now]. In my last blog on the topic of World War IV, I wrote of America’s ace in the hole, its soft power. The blog was written after the unexpected death of Kobe Bryant (Kobe and Coronavirus: Meaning for World War IV 2/4/20). It wasn’t that long ago and it was a global event when it occurred.

Now we are witnessing another example of American leadership: the free press. The China Hannitys operate as the propaganda arm of the government with no alternative voice. By contrast, the American Hannitys have to face domestic competition. Try as he might to turn his press conferences into political rallies, our Dear Leader still has to face the press. Now he can’t hide behind the noise of a helicopter. In fact, with social spacing, he faces fewer reporters. It has become harder to escape questions from people who know he is full of bull trump and just playing make believe with the facts.

The net result is neither the American nor Chinese Hannitys can prevail. While we may not know the truth of what happened in China for years to come, we already know the truth of what happened it America. If We the People decide we want an adult in the White House, we can regain our position of world leadership and with the thanks of countries who have been waiting for it.


Kobe and Coronavirus: Meaning for World War IV

The United States was on the winning side of World War I against Germany. The United States was on the winning side of World War II against Germany and Japan. The United States was on the winning side of World War III, the Cold War, against the Soviet Union. Now the United States is engaged in World War Iv against mainland China. Who will prevail and be the cosmic center of our universe, the City on a Hill or the Middle Kingdom?

For a long time, mainland China has been on a roll. Nothing seemed to stand it is way of global domination. It was to be achieved not in an instance and not through a military conquest. Instead it was to be through a relentless economic expansion that fostered a global connection with mainland China at the node. While politically in America all roads lead to Putin, economically in the world all roads lead to Beijing.  As time marched on, the mainland Chinese developed a swagger and pride in its confidence that it would one day replace the United States as the world leader. It was only a matter of time.

Consider this article from two years ago: “Why China Loves Trump: The People Love a Winner, the Leadership Loves a Dupe” by Benjamin Carlson, The Atlantic, March 2018). According to the article, the Chinese Communist Party initially regarded the American President’s threats as “show.” As Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University said: “[Trump] is an especially easy president for China to handle…We are lucky.” His withdrawals from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate agreement were great victories for mainland China and it didn’t have to do anything to secure them. When America simply abandoned its role as world leader under the “America alone” policy of transactional relationships over allies, mainland China was ready to fill the vacuum.  Shen Dingli exulted that the American withdrawal had provided mainland China “a huge opportunity.” Xu Guoqi, professor at the University of Hong Kong characterized the Trump presidency as “a gift for the current regime in China. Because of Trump, Xi Jinpng’s Chinese dream [the resurgence of China’s dominance in world affairs] could be achievable now.”

According to the article, even as mainland China enjoys outwitting the American President there is some admiration for him too. This reaction is more pronounced among Chinese students to American colleges who have returned home after having been exposed to the anti-American left ideology which they reject. The Chinese students, too, have contempt for political correctness. As one such student said, the Democratic Party “reminds us a lot of the Cultural Revolution.” Yan Gu, doctoral candidate at the University of Washington said, Chinese “dislike political correctness and neo-liberal rhetoric.” They support the slogan of “Make America Great Again” with the change of one word!

Even though Trump is the leader of the enemy, the mainland Chinese see traits in him they admire. They see him as having a successful, talented, and happy family in contrast while mocking Hillary Clinton for her husband’s affairs. [Keep in mind this article is reporting what the mainland Chinese see of Amrica.] They see him as someone they can do business with since he is unconcerned with morality, human rights, and democracy. “Instead, Trump is transactional.”

An earlier view of China in the very same magazine painted a significantly different picture. “China’s Twilight Years: As immigrants replenish America, China’s population is aging and shrinking” (Howard W. French, The Atlantic, June 2016). This article was written prior to the last presidential election. Since it publication, America has abandoned one of the strengths posited by French in the conflict with mainland China.

Already by 2016, French describes China as “a global juggernaut.” It is moving forward on all continents including in America’s backyard and threatening America’s chances of maintaining its standing in the world. Since the article was written, those trends have only accelerated.

However, French points to mainland China’s Achilles’ heel: demographics. The population is transitioning from a relatively youthful one with an abundant workforce to one with fewer people in that age group. By 2040, even before Hong Kong is scheduled to be absorbed into the Borg collective, the median age in China will increase from 30 to 46 thereby making China an old society. China’s social safety network will be hard pressed to deal with the pension and health needs of an increasingly aging society where the number of people over 65 expands significantly. French predicted that in 2020, the Chinese political leaders will begin to face the issue of allowing growing levels of poverty within an exploding elderly population or acting to avoid that scenario. The Chinese army may be the first to face this dilemma as it begins to shrink in size, already by 300,000 in 2015, because of insufficient manpower. The consequences of the one-child policy are becoming manifest. Thanks to abortions of females, in 2020, French predicts a disparity of excess males to females of 30 million people.

French concludes his article with the thought that America will not face this challenge because of immigrants. He asserts that no other powerful country assimilates outsiders on a scale matched by America. Obviously, he had no idea that America would abandon one of its strengths because many Americans think immigration is one of the country’s weaknesses and that immigrants never assimilate. With mainland China, there is no line to get in and no one overstays a visa. The reverse is true with the United States where the global image of the Statue of Liberty remains strong. It is the City on Hill itself that undermines the call of Lady Liberty and closes off access to an increasing number of countries.

Turning to the present, we find the law of unexpected events has upset the Chinese applecart. There mainland China was moving steadily forward asserting itself in the world when unanticipated events occurred.

First, the immature child President of the United States with no understanding of economics, decided he was going to do something about the trade imbalance. Eventually he learned that he could not push mainland China around. He was able to hurt China and produce the first part of what will become THE GREATEST TRADE TREATY IN WORLD HISTORY. But in the meantime, he may learn that he cannot prevent the world from adopting the mainland Chinese 5G as the basis for the next generation of internet communication. He also does not have the mental necessities to wonder how mainland China leapt to forefront of communication technology and what the United States should do to regain the leadership position.

Second, mainland China has begun to receive some criticism for its authoritarian efforts to assimilate Moslem Uighurs. Obviously the United States cannot take a leadership role in condemning this violation of human rights. First our current President has no interest in human rights, and second the violation is against Moslems, one of his favorite whipping people. Even Moslem countries have been reluctant to condemn mainland China thanks to China’s growing economic dominance in the world. Still, the forced assimilation is a beacon of Chinese ideology to the world that has stirred some resentment.

Third, Hong Kong is asserting the right to be free…at least until 2047. The Chinese Hannitys are busy blaming America for the unrest. The American President is busy standing by idly. It turns out some British traditions have lingered in the Hong Kong consciousness such as the civics the students learn in school. In the meantime, in November, the pro-democracy candidates won sweeping victories. It turns out, the Chinese political leadership is clueless. It really doesn’t know what to do. Between the elections and protests there is no end in sight. There also is no mechanism for dealing with such a situation.

Consider the article “China Needs to Change Strategy after Hong Kong Elections” (Kevin M. Stanley, History News Network, December 22, 2019) that has proved unexpectedly relevant. In his analysis of the current paralysis, Stanley points to a precedent in 2011 in Wuhan, a now familiar name. Stanley notes that in 2011 in this small fishing village, the residents revolted over the seizure of their land. They ousted the communist party officials and police and took over the local government. The conflict was resolved with the freezing of some land seizures, the releasing of prisoners, and the firing of some officials.  Obviously this scenario has not been repeated in Hong Kong. Then again the authoritarian Xi Jinping is now calling the shots. Under his leadership Big Brother is everywhere watching everything. Time Magazine quotes one Chinese shopkeeper (December 2-9, 2019):

Chinese people don’t care about privacy. We want security. It’s still not enough cameras. We need more.          

Stanley concluded his article with the observation that mainland China is at the crossroads. “Will it double down on repression or listen to the people and chose a new course that will require some compromise?” Stanley has his preferences and he touts Chinese adaptability and survival skills, but then there was another unexpected development. Once again Wuhan is back in the news.

Fourth, there is coronavirus. This unexpected development continues to wreak havoc on mainland China and the world. It would be an understatement to claim that the Government was prepared or even willing to listen to the whistleblowers who attempted to sound the alarm. At this point, no one knows how this crisis will end. Whatever happens, it clearly has undermined the “we are in complete control” model for perpetual good times. The coronavirus exposes the shortcomings of the Chinese Way for all the world to see.

What does all this have to do with the unexpected death of Kobe Bryant? Part of America’s leadership derives from soft power.  This term refers to non-military and non-economic power. It refers to Americans movies, music, and entertainment which includes sports. The American culture has been an international leader and powerhouse for decades. Everyone wants to go to Disneyland. The worldwide reaction to the death of Kobe Bryant is an expression of that global leadership.

Will it last? Hollywood already defers to China on subject matter. The NBA also has learned to bow before the Chinese market. When Germany and England accept the 5G network of Huawei they simply are responding to the market power of mainland China. Even in the face of the cornonavirus, some governments worried about offending the economic superpower which dominates downplay the threat. Although China has not yet become an entertainment and cultural powerhouse, America’s position in the cultural world is at risk too, the more the mainland Chinese market dominates it.

One last consideration. In the battle between the Middle Kingdom and the City on a Hill for world leadership, mainland China holds one key advantage. Its citizens want their country to win ad believe it is Middle Kingdom. By contrast, increasingly Americans do not believe in American exceptionalism or that we are a City on a Hill that eyes of the world are upon because we are the last best hope of humanity seeking to make the world safe for democracy while providing a beacon of light to huddled masses seeking to be free. Instead we have the frontal assault of the New York Times 1619 Project that denies the validity of those perceptions of America. In addition Trumpicans are oblivious to any leadership role for America preferring transactional relations instead. In other words, We the People are not even trying to win World War IV while the Chinese are focused on triumphing. The difference is while the Chinese problems are systemic and likely to worsen, the American problems could be fixed if we had a President capable of providing the leadership the world needs.

Putin Declares Candidacy for 2020: “Make Russia Great Again”

Little Donee Waney will never be a macho macho man

Vladimir Putin declared his candidacy for the American Presidential elections in 2020. His campaign theme is “Make Russia Great Again.” He is running for re-election in 2020 based on his success in his first administration. Putin cited as examples of his triumphs:

  1. the destabilization of NATO
  2. the destabilization of the American-European alliance
  3. the destabilization of the United States
  4. filling the vacuum left by the United States in Syria
  5. filling the vacuum left by the United States in Africa
  6. making the United States an unreliable ally who will only provide assistance if compensated
  7. the abandonment by the United States of its leadership position in the world
  8. the abandonment by the United States of its view of being a “city on a hill” and American Exceptionalism.
The Shining City on a Hill: Commentary on Reagan by Bryan Caplan

Putin champions the “American Alone” approach where the United States has no allies, provides no leadership, and takes no action. He is not there yet but he has made remarkable progress during his first term and is dedicated to completing the job in the second.

Open items include:

1. removal of the sanctions
2. occupation of the Baltics
3. return to the G-7
4. the withdrawal of the United States from the global arena except when it suits Putin’s purposes.

Despite having a weak hand, Putin has played it remarkably well. I do not mean to suggest that he has some carefully developed highly detailed plan worthy of a spy novel or a Hollywood movie. But he has stumbled into opportunities and taken advantage of them. So even with a second-tier economy he strides the world as if he is as significant a threat to the world order as mainland China is. At some point the gig will be up and he may even face a Russian spring. In the meantime, he can take advantage of the opportunities presented him by a weak America.

Putin foreshadowed his campaign platform in an op-ed piece “A Plea for Caution From Russia” in the New York Times printed September 12, 2013.  He wrote:

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.

His candidacy is based on opposition to Obama, opposition to American Exceptionalism, and opposition to America thinking it is better than everyone else.

Putin is well aware that since he is not a native American, he cannot appear on the ballot. Technically, he cannot run for President of the United States. Therefore it is necessary for him to govern through someone who is eligible to be President but who will be submissive to him. In 2016, Putin was strongly against the Democratic candidate. Her “John McCain, Republican” attitude towards Russia was completely unacceptable to Putin. She was a threat to him politically and economically given the wealth he had accumulated running an oil-and-gas kleptocracy. While he knew little about her opponent, obviously he was not a “John McCain Republican.” Far from posing a threat to him, Putin soon learned that he was desperate to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. This person was someone Putin could work with.

Everything that has happened since then has only confirmed the unexpected bonus of the Trump presidency to the “Make Russia Great Again” theme that defines Putin’s agenda. It did not take long for skilled KGB agent to get the measure of the man, or rather the immature child, after meeting with him. Putin quickly realized that his American counterpart was a passive, ignorant, simpleminded child who could be manipulated to fulfill Putin’s “Make Russia Great Again” agenda.

How hard is to figure out that Putin is doing a superb job of dominating the weeny child desperate to be a macho macho man? Think of the real photograph of Putin riding a horse bare-chested compared to the weeny faking a photoshopped “Rocky” body. Bonespur boy loves to play with his soldiers, “win” rigged professional wrestling matches, insult people, and champion Hollywood-cast SEALs. He especially loves being a bully. Putin is well aware that Bonespur boy will never go into the arena in the real world. No matter how many times Little Donee Waney plays YMCA, he will never be a macho macho man in the real world.

His shortcomings as a man are hardly a secret. An American letter-writer to The New York Times wrote:

President Trump is Vladimir Putin’s patsy. Blinded by a compulsion to become the first American oligarch, Mr. Trump cannot see how expertly he is being played. The American president struts around attacking those he perceives as weak. Yet it is the bully who is vulnerable….

Meanwhile, Mr. Putin, the master manipulator, knows a bully’s ways and sees how he can exploit Mr. Trump’s desire to be an omnipotent ruler like himself.

While this Texan does not realize Little Donee Waney is an immature child, she is spot on in her assessment of the Putin-Trump dynamic. Is there anyone in the American intelligence services who lacks the mental necessities to have figured out what this ordinary American knows? How stupid a human being would you have to be not to know that Putin is the dominant male in the relationship?

In fact, Putin, himself, may have been astonishingly surprised at how easy it has been to manipulate the American President. The Ukrainian maneuver will be remembered as one of the great deceptions in American-Russian relations. Putin undoubtedly knew that Little Donee Waney would fall for this concoction. But he probably never anticipated how far the “Chosen One” was willing to go to act on this non-existent conspiracy. The subsequent wild goose chase led to Russia’s most valuable American asset being impeached. Surely that can be what Putin had in mind when he fed this bull-trump to the American President.

Still the Ukrainian maneuver has proved that Putin could control Congress through the simpleminded President. At least the Trumpican members. How long did it take for Congressional Trumpicans to start babbling about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections? Historians will compare the John Kennedy of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the John Kennedy who recites Russian talking points and wonder what happened to America. Remember when Fox angrily asserted the need for “due process” in the kangaroo-court so-called impeachment hearings sham? Yet what evidence did it take to convince Fox of the Ukrainian involvement in 2016?

Putin’s dominance extends then into the American people…or at least those who accept his Pence as their lord and savior. The polls showing that Trumpicans prefer him to Abraham Lincoln as the better president testifies to the complete subjugation of the Trumpicans. It also shows that that there is a residue of Republicans left in the Confederate-dominated party. Fortunately for the Trumpicans, the Democrats have no interest in reaching out to the Lincoln-admiring Republicans. If the Democrats had an alternative for whom Lincoln Republicans could vote, the 2020 election would be a Democratic landslide by even more than 306 Electoral College votes.

In the meantime, in the 2020 elections all roads lead to Putin, especially Pennsylvania Avenue.


P.S. In less than a week, Duped-by-Russia Hannity’s wait will be over and the Deep State, scared for its life, will be running for cover.

Thou Art the Man! – King David and Judge Kavanaugh

The Shining City on a Hill: Commentary on Reagan by Bryan Caplan

The American Civil Religion posits that we are a city on a hill. At this point both political parties have abandoned that idea. The longtime staple of presidential politics and the America culture has been banished from public discourse. It died with the death of John McCain. We no longer aspire to a leadership role in human history.

But besides the city on a hill vision, there is a second line: the eyes of the world are upon us. Even though we choose not to lead, because of our size and might we still serve as an example to the world. Sometimes this influence is referred to as soft power. It means besides Coke and McDonalds, American cultural values and practices also ae known, in one form or another, around the world. So even as we forsake a political leadership role, the eyes of the world are still upon us.

Recently and still ongoing we have had two such examples of this phenomenon: the appearance of the President of the United States at the United Nations and the confirmation hearings of Judge Kavanaugh.


At the United Nations, the President of the United States spoke as if he were on Fox News. He spoke as if he were at one of his professional wrestling arena rallies. He spoke as if he were still in Trumpietown. But he had ventured outside of his comfort zone. He was speaking to an audience he has routinely insulted. He has insulted people based on their race. He has insulted people based on their religion. He has insulted people based on their cosmopolitanism. And he has launched economic war against many of them while withdrawing from providing American leadership.

Their reaction to his speech was exactly what you should expect: they laughed. They did not laugh with him, they laughed at him. In his surprised response that he was not expecting that reaction, he then did what he rarely does in his life – he told the truth. He really was surprised. He soon recovered and said they were laughing with him and they were just having fun with each other. Perhaps this “interpretation” was what inspired Kavanaugh to give his interpretation of being a member of the Renate” alumni.

Senate Judiciary Committee: Do You Have the Right Stuff to go into the Arena?

The story of David and Nathan is one of the most dramatic in the Hebrew Bible. Even as one reads the words, one can see the figures in one’s mind. There is no mention of Nathan extending his arm in the direction of David, yet we see it. There is no mention of Nathan pointing a finger at David, yet we see it. There is no mention of David’s physical reaction to the words and gestures of Nathan, yet we see it. Only when Nathan is telling his parable, does the storyteller mention an emotion, the anger of David. The story teller leaves it to our imagination to visualize David’s appearance after Nathan’s exclamation.

This story exemplifies the oral nature of biblical storytelling. It cries out for a physical performance. Undoubtedly, that was how most Israelites originally experienced the story – not read silently alone but as a public display. The op-ed pieces of yesteryear were performed in ancient Israel long before Saturday Night Live existed.

One key ingredient in the story is frequently overlooked. It is not the historicity of the story but its believability. There is no sense in the story that it lacks validity. The story is not one of science fiction, fantasy, or even dreams. It is a presented as a real world event that the audience easily could believe as true. There is no surprise in the display of truth to power. There is no sense that it defies all credulity that someone could call the king to task. There is no astonishment about the actions of Nathan. The only uncertainty is in the reaction of the accused.

That credibility extends beyond the prophet denouncing the action of the king to his face. Just as Nathan’s declaration garners no surprise, neither does David’s reaction. The king’s repentance is presented in just as routine a manner as Nathan’s charge. As far as the audience is concerned, it is expected that a prophet would call a king to task. It is equally expected that the king would respond positively when he heard the words of the prophet and repent his wrongdoings.

The contrast between yesterday and today is remarkable. In Nathan’s words, we see the uniqueness of his actions in the ancient Near East.  No one can imagine anyone delivering truth to power in ancient Assyria. No one can imagine anyone delivering truth to power in ancient Babylon. No one can imagine anyone delivering truth to power in ancient Egypt. Actually we can in Egypt. It was delivered by Moses and commemorated in a holiday still celebrated to this very day.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are an American phenomenon. The televising of these hearings to the world is part of the soft power of this country. The eyes of the world are upon us as we publicly debate whether or not to confirm an individual to the highest court in the land. Should the court be an independent judiciary? What is the answer in China? What is the answer in Russia? What is the answer in Turkey? What is the answer in Iran? What is the answer in Venezuela? What is the answer is so many countries throughout the world?

In David’s response we see the not only the uniqueness of Israel in the ancient Near East but to today. In the followup of the accusation levied at the Senate Judiciary Committee against Judge Kavanaugh, no one expects any change to occur in the behavior of the one charged. No one expects Kavanaugh to conduct an investigation into his own life, to ask his friends and classmates if he rely drank so much, if he really blacked out so often, if he really could have done what he is charged with doing. Unlike with David, there will be no change in behavior. He will not rise to the occasion. He will not be a profile in courage. He will not face the truth of his adolescent life that he thought he had left behind. Certainly a President who still is an adolescent himself will not encourage him to do so.

In the previous post, I referred to the possibility of the situation spiraling out of control. The Republicans have attempted to prevent such a collapse by limiting the scope and time of the investigation. But the challenge to do so is magnified by the number of venues available to people to speak out now. While some of the voices defy credulity and seem like a con job, too many others seem true. Those expressions will not be contained by the artificial constraints imposed on the investigation. The Republicans are in a superb position to alienate a huge swath of the American voting population for years to come. Of course, having a fifth Republican legislator on the Supreme Court may make jeopardizing the Republican position in the other two arms of the government worth the price.

Whatever happens, it will be seen around the world because the eyes of the world are still upon us.

Ronald Reagan versus Vladimir Putin: Presidential Campaigns and the 2018 Elections

Reagan-Anderson Presidential Debate September 21, 1980 (

The countdown to the midterms is under 100 days. It still proceeds on a day-to-day basis but mentally a threshold has been crossed. A bigger one to come on Labor Day is only a few weeks away. The primaries are drawing to a close. The intensity of the showdown for control of Congress and various states will ratchet up.

The current president has vowed to campaign as much as necessary in targeted areas throughout the country. Indeed, he feeds on the energy of the professional wrestling arena just as we feed on food. But what message will he be delivering as he crisscrosses the country in his determination to stave off the dreaded blue wave and avoid being impeached?

In this situation it is appropriate to examine the campaign of another president. In 1984, Ronald Reagan, the incumbent president, campaigned throughout the land. At that time, Republicans could win at the state level even in California and the color on the TV maps for Republicans was blue. Times have changed.

Although the campaigns in 1984 and 2018 are not exact parallels, it remains instructive to examine the message Reagan delivered and compare it to where we are today. A lot of my information comes from the book The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army Second Ranger Brigade by Douglas Brinkley as excerpted in U.S. News & World Report in the June 6, 2005 issue, a year after Reagan’s death on June 5, 2004. Reagan’s speech on June 6, 1984 at Normandy was on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

According to Brinkley, the idea in the visit to England and France included showcasing Anglo-American unity between Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Needless-to-say, the contrast between the present president mocking the present prime minister of England or Great Britain or the United Kingdom or wherever, could not be greater. And our current president of course, then denied that he had done so as fake news, another example of the trouble he would be in if he ever testified under oath.

Turning back to 1984, one theme of Reagan’s talk was how the postwar coalition had kept the peace for the longest period in modern European history. One might add, that for Franklin Roosevelt who had grown up in a world where war against Germany was the norm (Franco-Prussian, WWI, WWII), the idea of decades of peace among the same nations was wishful thinking and inconceivable. Roosevelt understood the need for allies and why defending Montenegro was important.

Brinkley then turned to Peggy Noonan, Reagan’s speechwriter. She would become most famous for her “thousand points of light,” a vision our current president mocks. Brinkley reported that Reagan was at his best when he told heartfelt stories about real people. He was blessed with a genuine showbiz gift for a lively narrative and fabulist history. These last words of Brinkley strike us differently today now that we have a president who resides in the artificial reality of Trumpietown.

But Noonan suspected that during the speech Reagan would choke up. He would be overcome by the experience – its setting, the audience, and his words. I suspect Reagan did not feel your pain to exploit it but more drawing on his actor background, he internalized it. The emotion of his audience became his genuine emotion as well. In other words, his own ability to bring out the emotion in others created a feedback loop to himself. He was a person of empathy who helped create the very emotions he was to feel.

D-Day then became a metaphor for the campaign message of 1984. The Americans in the audience had helped reclaim the European continent. Americans had fought for freedom against the Nazis in the past; Americans had an obligation to fight for freedom against communism and the Soviet Union in the present. Others would express the sentiment that “some people are communists, some people are capitalists, why can’t we all live together”, the Soviet Union will endure forever. Reagan felt differently. The Evil Empire must be defeated if we are to be free. As it turned out, the clueless elites had no idea the Iron Curtain would fall, Putin’s worst day in history, one he wishes to reverse today.

Shortly after Reagan’s death in 2004, staff writer Roger Simon for U.S. News &World Report, wrote “Sunny Side Up, Always” (June 21, 2004). He wrote of Reagan knowing that movies were fantasy and that Americans loved fantasy. Fantasy was a world in which Reagan like to dwell. According to Pat Buchanan, “For Ronald Reagan, the world of legends and myth is a real world. He visits it regularly.” It was a can-do world of optimism, smiles, and a can-do attitude.

Reagan expected everything to work out because it always had for America. What Americans needed was a leader who could give them a sense of confidence, inspiration, and hope.


Simon reported that Reagan’s “morning in America” and “city on a hill” were designed to stand in marked contrast to the gloom and doom of President Jimmy Carter’s malaise.

Simon closed his article with two quotations, one from 1994 when Reagan announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I am combining them here.

And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will recall that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts.

When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for the future. I know begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright light ahead.

In the same issue, David Gergen, advisor to multiple presidents and regular talking head today, wrote:

Last week, as we heard so often, Regan repeatedly told audiences that America’s role was to be “a shining city up on hill.” He spoke lovingly of that vision in his farewell address, as he prepared to leave the White House. What should not be forgotten is the farewell address to Massachusetts that a fellow member of his generation, John F. Kennedy, gave as he was preparing to move into the White House. “I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella 331 years ago, as they too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. “We must always consider,” he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill-the eyes of the world are upon us.”

Gergen closed with a sigh that “We mourned last week not only for Ronald Wilson Reagan but for the spirit we miss so much now.” How much more must he miss that spirit today?

One last “city on a hill” citation by an American before turning to a Russian. In his eulogy, former Senator John Danforth said:

Winthrop believed that the eyes of the world would be on America because God had given us a special commission, so it was our duty to shine forth. The Winthrop message became the Reagan message. It rang of optimism, and we longed to hear it….

If you have had your fill of this sunny optimism and the vision of America as a city on a hill that the eyes of the world are upon, then now let’s turn an alternate version. This dismissal comes from someone familiar with the concept of American exceptionalism and who strongly opposes it. It was written shortly after then President Obama had delivered an address to the American people in the tradition of American presidents up until our current one touting America’s place in the world and in human history.

Here is what Vladimir Putin said in an op-ed piece printed in the New York Times on September 12, 2013 following Obama’s address:

I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation….We are all different, but when we ask for Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

“Amen,” says American President Donald Trump. When Putin and Russia are accused of evil deeds, Trump is the first to say we have done bad things, too. He never exclaims on American exceptionalism or its role in history except to denigrate it.

Donald Trump does not share with Barack Obama a belief in American exceptionalism.

Donald Trump does not share with Ronald Reagan a belief that we are a city on a hill that the eyes of the world are upon.

Donald Trump does not share with Abraham Lincoln a belief that we are the last best hope of humanity.

Donald Trump does not believe in the American Dream.

When Donald Trump campaigns in the 2018 midterm elections, he will espouse the vision of Vladimir Putin and not that of Ronald Reagan. And he will do so to cheering Republicans. Who would have predicted a generation after the Iron Curtain fell, that Republicans would have abandoned the sunny optimism of Reagan for the dismal deception of Putin’s Trump?

The City on the Hill versus the Middle Kingdom: Who Will Win World War IV?

At any given moment there can only be one cosmic center. In the world in which we are aware, only one place can be the center of the universe. Think of what would happened if we had to deal with the discovery that earth is not that sacred location and you get some idea of what happens when peoples are obligated to abdicate their position as the center of the universe.

In ancient times when civilization first emerged in Mesopotamia, the center of the universe was Uruk. If you have heard of Gilgamesh then you also may know that Uruk was the city where he was king. In Mesopotamia, the mantra for mighty kings was to rule the four quarters of the universe somewhat similar to our four corners of the world. And there at the king’s capital would be his ziggurat, his mighty tower at the sacred center that connected the earth he ruled to the heavens where his god was king.

There later came a time when Ur, the city biblical Abraham left, had its moment of glory as the center of the world. It too had a ziggurat or high place. The biblical account delivers the message that the torch had been passed to a new location, the center of the universe was to be relocated from Mesopotamia. The new center was David’s Jerusalem and the new high place linking the heavens and the earth was Solomon’s Temple. Although politically that perception is no longer valid, it still resonates as a religious idea.

Egypt, of course, had other ideas. Obviously the garden paradise of the ancient Near East thought of itself as the center of the world. And indeed it was for the world dominated by the Nile. Both Egypt and Mesopotamia were able to each regard themselves as the cosmic center because they were too far apart to affect the other politically or militarily. Each could maintain its view to its own satisfaction since the other claimant didn’t really matter. All that changed when Assyria, the same country that destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, invaded and sacked Egypt. Never again would Egypt dominate as it once had. The physical expressions of its stature had become tourist destinations even in ancient times and there is graffiti to show it.

In time Rome emerged as the new colossus. As people became aware of an ever larger world, so to an empire had to increase in size if the people were to claim to be the center of the universe. Rome succeeded for centuries. Eventually the physical expressions of its stature also became tourist destinations. However thanks to a new religion while politically the perception of Rome at the center of the universe is no longer valid, it still resonates as a religious idea.

But just as Egypt and Mesopotamia found out they were not alone, Rome found out it was not alone either. In a land far far way there was another claimant to the title of center of the universe. The Middle Kingdom also perceived itself to be the cosmic center. Rome and China were too far apart for either to assert its dominance over the other so each was able maintain its belief in itself. Whereas there came a time when Mesopotamia eventually prevailed over Egypt (as would Persia, Greece, and Rome in ancient times and others since then), the distances between Rome and China remained too vast and the technological powers too similar for either to achieve superiority over the other. That situation changed in the 19th century when the Middle Kingdom was humbled by European powers.

The City on a Hill was a latecomer to these considerations. In 1630 as he set sail for America, John Winthrop pronounced the words that would become a defining mantra for his new land. America not only was to be a City on a Hill, but it was to be an example for the world as the eyes of the world were upon us. His vision was not expressed in typical political terms but then he was not a king. Instead the power of this City on a Hill was to be in the life it created such that everyone else would want to copy it.

When Winthrop uttered these words there was no United States of America. There were no 13 colonies either. Winthrop was referring to the world he and his godly saints would create in Boston, in Massachusetts. His vision was a Puritan one. There is a story to be told about how his vision of a City on a Hill expanded from its Boston origins to the national expression of President of the United States Ronald Reagan. That story will not be told here but there are some key points worth observing.

During the colonial era, there was some jockeying for power among the leading cities to be center of the new polity. Certainly Boston, Philadelphia, and New York figured prominently in that competition. The fierce sports rivalries among the teams today from these cities draw on centuries old emotions. And one should not overlook Charlestown to the south either considering what was to happen decades after the birth of the country. In America, the passing of the torch happened in 1823. The departure by Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson Art school, the nation’s first homegrown art school, from Philadelphia to New York two years before the Erie Canal was completed and New York became the Empire State, marked the moment. The transference of the nation’s center to New York had occurred, a position it continues to hold until this very day.

New York’s rise to world capital was recognized at the end of World War II with the establishment of the United Nations. New York now was the center of the world and even if you want to lop of the UN’s top ten floors, how would you feel if it relocated to Bejing? New York became the place where aliens from outer space landed. New York became the place which the President of the United States sacrificed in Failsafe when Moscow was destroyed. New York was the city with the high place King Kong climbed in the Americanized retelling of the old Mesopotamian myths. And New York was the place with the high towers targeted by Osama Bin-Laden when he sought to demonstrate his new world order. As a result of those actions now there is a new sacred day and sacred place to which the world flocks the cosmic center at Ground Zero on 9/11.

When America won World War III and the Soviet Union was no longer the wave of the future who would bury us, history did not come to end. The Middle Kingdom is back. The Middle Kingdom is seeking to restore the glories of its past when it dominated the world it knew. It has a plan and it is executing it. On one level it is asserting itself geographically to create a united one world through infrastructure and trade in its One Belt One Road Initiative. The lesser countries and peoples of the planet will feed the cosmic center the resources it needs to sustain its economic engine and dominance. The rest of the world also will supply exotic tourist destinations to visit like the very same Niagara Falls that drew painters in the 19th century. On a second level, the Middle Kingdom will undertake a great leap forward with Made in China 2025 to become the dominant country in the new technologies that are changing this planet. The Middle Kingdom knows what it wants and has dedicated itself to achieving it.

What’s missing is a vision. There is no vast line of immigrants seeking to live the Chinese Dream. The eyes of the world are not upon the Middle Kingdom for the values by which to live. It is not an example for the world as Winthrop proclaimed his new world would be. The #MeToo movement reverberates throughout the world. What Chinese value does? Anyone can be an American, only the Chinese can be Chinese. The American DNA dating back to Winthrop’s message of a City on Hill that the eyes of the world are upon provides us with a powerful means of first becoming and now remaining the center of the world…but only if we want to be and even then there is no guarantee of success.

So how is the City on a Hill doing in the world war against the Middle Kingdom? It does appear as if finally we are aware that we are in a war. Recent developments suggest that at long last we, meaning the American government, recognizes that the completion exists and that we need to safeguard our economy and technological prowess from our foe.  Our country has already paid a huge price economically in support of the Middle Kingdom’s quest for dominance. Perhaps that time of deference and ignorance of the Middle Kingdom’s goals has now ended.

Unfortunately the completion isn’t only a transactional one. The simple-minded approach that the conflict is solely between the United States and China is childish. It is a global struggle requiring a global vision if We the People are to prevail. There is no constructive purpose in antagonizing those who want to help us, those who are our friends, those who are our allies. There is no constructive purpose in withdrawing from the world if we seek to continue as the leader of it. We have every right to abdicate our position of leadership and provide a vacuum for others to fill. If we treat everything as transactional then we are condemned to be losers in the global arena. We need to redefine the State Department for the realities of the 21st century, not decimate it.

Anyone can be an American, only the Chinese can be Chinese. Today, we never hear about the vision of America. Today, we never hear about America being an example for the world. Today, we never hear about the eyes of the world being upon us. Today, we never hear about America as a City on a Hill.  Today, we never hear about America’s role in human history.  Today, we never hear that it is morning in America. Is that what We the People want?