Xi on the Brink

Elections in a large nation are always a time for musing about the future direction of the nation. This is especially true in China for the simple reason that they don’t have elections. The 19th Communist Party Congress will convene for a week starting on 18 October, determining who will run the largest country on earth for the next five years.

China is a true republic, meaning that the outgoing leadership picks the new leadership – independent of the wishes of the vast majority of population. It’s not exactly a dictatorship in that no one person or faction has complete control, at least not since Mao Zedong died in 1976. That may change as Premier Xi Jinping is poised for a dramatic consolidation of power.

Much has been and will be written about it. Like the Communist Party of China (CPC) itself, the articles are dense and almost impossible to understand without a lot of background material. Here is an attempt at a quick guide.

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Guns: Change the Attitude

Another senseless gun tragedy – this one bigger than the previous. When does it end?

It ends when we as a nation get serious about the situation. Like nearly every problem we have it is primarily a mindset. New gun laws aren’t necessarily going to be the answer unless they are part of that important change.

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Faith or Works?

A lot of people are upset about the direction of the nation. Nearly a two to one ration finds that the nation is on the wrong track, according to a Rasmussen poll. That fits with the ongoing controversies sweeping our mindscapes involving protests of various kinds.

A lack of faith in our government should be one thing which unites us. It’s something of an American tradition, after all. Some think it’s involved in vast conspiracies. Some want to stockpile arms against it. Some think it’s just plain incompetent. Some think our history is a complete lie.

No one, anywhere, thinks that government is going to solve all of our problems. No one trusts it completely. No one thinks our taxation system is completely fair. No one thinks that the system always produces justice.

Yet protests about our system or our government are the surest way to spark a highly emotional shouting match that transcends any ability to get anything done. And there may be a good reason.

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Life Support

The Affordable Care Act, ACA or Obamacare, has proven difficult to kill off. In the next eight days we will see if the last, final, we-really-mean-it effort suffers the same fate as the previous attempts.

It should die for even more reasons than the last attempt. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t actually be something of value in Graham-Cassidy which might lead us to even better healthcare in the future. If that fails, it could well lead us to a final calamity for the Republican Party.

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United Nations. Sort of.

President Trump spoke to the UN today. In all fairness, it could have been worse. And, in many ways, it was a re-iteration of what America has been saying for a long time – we have a big military and we intend to use it, but don’t ask us for money to keep the other operations going.

Yet it was bad enough in one singular sense – there is no place for globalism even as we realize larger threats to the entire planet at once. It was a summary of everything that he and his followers stand for in many ways. But what will it mean to the rest of the world?

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E-Z Reform

Republicans need to produce tax reform, but can’t agree on much.  Here is a post from two years ago which outlines an easy way to make something happen and claim victory.  It may even be good policy.

Tax reform is on the minds of many Republican candidates, and that’s a good thing. Donald Trump revealed a plan, suggesting he may be a serious candidate after all. This announcement came as his poll numbers were slipping, so we may have a hint what voters think about actual policies. Jeb Bush released his plan earlier this month with the distinction of being called “weird”.

The point is that we are talking about taxes and serious tax reform, which is good. No one should expect one plan to suddenly spring forward and cut through the elaborate mess we have. Then again, once the knife is out, you could carve a better tax code out of a banana. But what really is needed? What is “simplification” or “reform”? Let’s start at the beginning.

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The Bright Red Line

This weekend a line was crossed, a bright red line painted in the blood of over 400 thousand Americans who died to end the scourge of Nazism forever. Chanting “Blut und Broden”, or its easy translation, children with far more energy than sense attempted to define Americanism by what has been demonstrated and defined to be its exact opposite.

Like their apparent heroes, they are losers. But they having chosen the losing side of history for predictably bad reasons beyond a simple moral failure. Their inability to learn from history is a feature of a nation incapable of learning from history and thus in need to constantly redefine itself.

As much power as there is in constant redefinition, there is also a need for constant vigilance. History is calling us today. Millions of ghosts are watching us waiting for us to make the right decision.

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