Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Was the Pre-Trump World Normal or Abnormal?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Much of the controversy that surrounds the policies of Donald Trump can be explained as a reaction to the past. He was either clumsily disrupting the sacrosanct or trying to resurrect what was lost.

In other words, what you feel about Trump is inseparable from what you think of the world before Trump.

Was the status quo, especially in the years between 2009 and 2017, normal or abnormal — at least compared with the prior half century?

Take the challenge of China. We are now locked in a veritable trade war with the Chinese. Each side escalates with a threatened new round of tariffs. The subtexts of the conflict range from Chinese military ascendency to patronage of nuclear North Korea.

Read the full article here.

The Double Standards of Postmodern Justice

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Our institutions offer no principles to explain why some people’s lives are harmed or destroyed, and others’ lives are not.

The New York Times recently hired as a writer and board member Sarah Jeong. The Times knew that in recent years Jeong had posted a series of unapologetically racist anti-white tweets. She had offered wisdom such as “#CancelWhitePeople” and expressed hatred for males.

Yet when the Times discovered less graphic versions of such tweets from newly hired technology writer Quinn Norton earlier this year, the newspaper immediately fired Norton.

The message of disparate treatment was that what bothers the New York Times is not racism per se, but who is the racist and who are her targets.

Read the full article here.

John Brennan’s Security Clearance

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Scarier than former CIA chief John Brennan losing his security clearance is the idea that he ever had one in the first place.

Perhaps to avoid the appearance of partisanship in pulling the security clearances of former intelligence chiefs, the Trump administration should now abide by some sort of universal nonpartisan standard. I suggest that the following sort of improper conduct, either during or after one’s tenure, might result in the loss of a security clearance:

1) Lying to Congress. Brennan lied to Congress on at least two occasions (cf. his denial of CIA surveillance of Senate staffer computers and the claim of an absence of collateral damage in drone attacks), and perhaps three (his absurd denial of knowledge of the seeding of the Steele dossier among government agencies). Democrats used to be outraged by Brennan’s deceit, and a few in the past had called for his resignation. Note that James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence, has also misled Congress, concerning NSA surveillance of American citizens. Clapper has admitted such (e.g., “the least untruthful” answer). Not lying to Congress is a pretty low bar to meet.

Read the full article here.

Chinese Foreign Investment: A Perspective

Please read the following editorial by my college James D. Jameson.

It is hard to understate the impact that foreign investment has played in transforming China into the world’s second largest economy.  While direct investment might have peaked, China is still moving toward opening its stock markets to draw in foreign capital.  Policymakers in Beijing hope that international investors might keep China economy from slowing and thereby avoiding the middle-income trap.

However, as China’s seeks to attract more foreign capital, one might wonder why wealthy individuals from China are ‘stashing’ their money abroad.  Chinese buyers have been snapping up real estate from Cyprus to Vancouver for the last decade, and Chinese firms go on exuberant buying sprees every time Beijing loosens controls of capital outflows. Why do rich, and even upper middle class, Chinese have different expectations about future outcomes of investing in China?

Most seasoned investors are aware of the risks of investing in China.  These risks include the possibility of corruption, fraud and outright expropriations.  However, most investors understanding these complications would find few recourses in a legal system with little claim to transparency or impartiality.  One such recourse is the fragile system of ‘guanxi,’ a mutual assurance of interests driven by political, social and familial relationships.

But what protections do investors have when “guanxi” goes south? I was one of the first investors in China’s e-commerce boom in 1998.  My Chinese partner had founded a grey market publisher working with state publishing houses to co publish business books – a niche that the state-owned houses overlooked. My ambitious and very entrepreneurial Chinese partner tracked the emergence “We can do the same thing in China,” he and his new wife said.

The e-commerce company was a momentary hit.  It went public in 2010 on the NYSE with a market valuation of $1.2 billion.  For the shareholders, it was a great but temporary success.  The company’s stock price declined precipitously after the lock up period.  As a foreign investor who sold at the original IPO date, the transfer of our proceeds from the sale were temporarily blocked by the controlling Chinese shareholder who wished to extort a payment to cure past employee bonus awards, a company obligation and not a shareholder obligation.  A threatened lawsuit in USA courts against the Chinese controlling shareholder of this NYSE company unblocked the funds.  The US rule of law worked!

However, the group of early investors of which I was one came under a dispute with the company’s founders over the dissolution of predecessor publishing company. The board resolved to unwind the company which had a significant amount of cash on its balance sheet. As 30% minority shareholders, I watched our Chinese partners withdraw the cash for personal purposes and investments. These actions were a clear violation against the statutes of the company.

We filed a suit in the Chinese courts in Beijing for embezzlement.   In the United States or Europe, it would have been an open and shut case. Though the amount in dispute was small, we had a desire to test ‘rule of law’ in China. As we have found out over the past three years, the lack of appropriate rule of law has stymied us.  The Chinese legal system prevents discovery, subpoena, and enforcement of a legally filed shareholders’ agreement. Foreigner plaintiffs come last in line in the court docket and often find their causes stonewalled by these arcane prohibitions. There were times when the defendants never actually showed up before the judge in the court, an affront that would not have been taken lightly by a judge in the West.

So as China tries to draw in foreign capital, its legal system still offers few protections for investors. Those risks are likely well understood by the “smart” capital flowing out of China. Therefore, it would only be prudent for foreign investors to ask:  if insiders are selling and moving money out, should we be moving money in and buying?

James D. Jameson

Assistant Secretary of Commerce – Trade Development :  George HW Bush Administration

Ex Officio Member: Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States:  1992/3

The Legacies of Robert Mueller’s Investigations

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Some 450 days ago we were treated to melodramatic announcements from the media about the start-up of Robert Mueller’s “dream” and “all-star” team.

Reporters gushed in the general hysteria of the times that Mueller would no doubt soon indict President Trump, some of his family, and almost anyone else in his campaign—and therefore end the Trump aberration.

Press puff pieces highlighted the résumés of his superstars—of Lisa Page (no comment needed), Peter Strzok (less than no comment needed), Jeannie Rhee (a former attorney for the Clinton Foundation, Ben Rhodes, and for a bit Hillary Clinton), Andrew Weissman (Clinton zealot, Obama and DNC donor, and the cheerleader to Sally Yates’s refusal to carry out a presidential order), Aaron Zebley (the former attorney for Clinton staffer Justin Cooper who set up the infamous Clinton home server and smashed to bits her mobile devices), and a host of other pros, who were all shortly to prove Trump-Russian “collusion.”

Read the full article here.

The Deflation of the Academic Brand

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Trumpism is sometimes derided as an updated know-nothingism that rejects expertise and the input of credentialed expertise. Supposedly, professionals who could now save us tragically have their talent untapped as they sit idle at the Council of Foreign Relations, the economics Department at Harvard, or in the offices of the Brookings Institution — even as Trump’s wheelers and dealers crash and burn, too proud, too smelly, or too ignorant to call in their betters to come in and save Trump from himself.

But do the degreed classes, at least outside math, the sciences, engineering, and medicine, merit such esteem anymore?

Anthony Scaramucci’s Harvard Law degree seemed no guarantee of the Mooch’s circumspection, sobriety, or good judgement.

Read the full article here.

08-13-2018 Angry Reader

From An Angry Reader:

Subject: You are a racist idiot

Your articles and ideas lower the IQ of this country every time they are published. The racism you employ in articles about Black Lives Matter, Crime, and pretty much anything you write is so disgusting its hard to swallow. Truly die in a hole.


Dear Quite, Quite Angry Reader Levi Kimmel,

You score impressively high on our Angry Reader unhinged scale: the personal insult (check), the unfounded accusations (check), the lack of a single fact or supporting element of evidence (check), and the expected threat at the end (check). I’d give your letter an 8 of 10 (the all CAPs, obscenity, grammatical incoherence, and serial exclamation marks were absent).

As to your charges, explain how I lower the IQ of the country. Do you mean people read columns and lose computing or comprehension capacity? Are you drawing on some sort of new neurophysiological research?

I have hardly written at all about “crime” or Black Lives Matter; and when I have it is to note the tragic spiral that we find ourselves in with inordinate per capita black crime creating stereotypes which in turn manifest in increased vigilance concerning inner-city black male youth, which in turn is seen as scapegoating and profiling, which in turn further poisons race relations. Our mutual goal should be to create viable job opportunities in the inner city, offer better vocational training, close the border to offer African-Americans more leverage with employers, and to focus on arresting hardened gang member criminals who make life for others so dangerous. As for Black Lives Matter, I object to any tribal chauvinism whether La Raza (“the race”) or any “white” affiliated group. All lives of course matter equally, and there is no such thing as “the race” that is innately superior to any other.

Finally, we all die, and half us will in truth end up in some sort of “hole,” so I don’t quite follow your final threat. Do you mean at 65 that I should prematurely die now rather than naturally in just a few years?

Why are progressives and liberals so full of hatred and venom? Is it a psychological sort of squaring the circle? Are their natural furor and frustrations projected onto others, as they adopt cosmic for-show liberal pieties to mitigate the elemental anger that drives them to issue threats like your own?

Victor Hanson

The Ancient War Between the Press and the President

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

The media are furious that President Trump serially decries “fake news.” He often rants that journalists who traffic in it are “enemies of the people.”

Reporters have compared Trump to mass murderers such as Stalin and Hitler because of his dislike of the press.

Trump may be crude to reporters, but journalists are also not so innocent. They have brought much of the present calumny upon themselves in a variety of ways.

The media seem to have little concern that their coverage is biased even though polls show that the vast majority of Americans believe the media intentionally reports fake news.

Read the full article here.

The Police Were Not Policed

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

No doubt Russia must be watched for its chronic efforts to sow more chaos in American elections — despite Barack Obama’s naïve assertion in 2016 that no entity could possibly ever rig a U.S. election, given the decentralization of state voting.

Lately the heads of four U.S. intelligence and security agencies — Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Chris Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone, and National Security Adviser John Bolton — held coordinated White House press conferences to remind America of the dangers of Russian chicanery. Trump, who is prone to conflate documented Russian efforts to meddle and cause chaos with unproven accusations of Trump-Russia collusion, should heed their warnings and beef up U.S. counter-espionage efforts and cyber deterrence.

But why do our intelligence heads seem to feel so exasperated that they’re not getting through to the American people? Why do they need to reassert the immediacy of the Russian threat?

Read the full article here.

The Elites’ War on the Deplorables

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Recently Politico reporter Marc Caputo was angered at rude hecklers at a Trump rally who booed beleaguered CNN correspondent Jim Acosta.

So Caputo tweeted of them, “If you put everyone’s mouths together in this video, you’d get a full set of teeth.”

Politico had not employed such a crass journalist since before it fired Julia Ioffe for tweeting, “Either Trump is f—ing his daughter or he’s shirking nepotism laws. Which is worse?” (Ioffe was then snatched up by the Atlantic, which has an unpredictable policy either of excusing or not excusing the controversial expressions of its newly hired journalists.)

I suppose Caputo meant that Trump voters intrinsically lacked either the money to fix their teeth or the knowledge of the hygiene required to take care of them or the aesthetic sensitivity of how awful their mouths looked. Or Caputo was simply rehashing the stereotypes that he had seen on reality TV shows like “Duck Dynasty” and “The Deadliest Catch.”

Read the full article here.

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