The Cost of a Celebration

President Donald Trump held America’s Independence Day celebration with a Salute to America, centered at the Lincoln Memorial.

Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told—the story of America.  Today, just as it did 243 years ago, the future of American Freedom rests on the shoulders of men and women willing to defend it.

Just to pick out a couple of things: The Wall Street Journal cited “Democrats” complaining about

the use of military hardware for a traditionally nonpartisan celebration.

Because defending our nation’s existence and celebrating those who do that defense isn’t nonpartisan.  Sure.

A Whole Year

That’s how close Iran is to getting a nuclear weapon.  The Wall Street Journal‘s subheadline tells the tale.

Tehran exceeded a key limit in the 2015 deal but experts say that it is only a small step and that it would take Tehran at least a year to make a weapon

That’s how far away from nuclear armament Iran would have been under the JCPOA on that deal’s expiration.  After all,

The 2015 deal was structured to make sure that Iran would take a year to amass enough material for a weapon if it chose to break the accord.

Hong Kong Protests

And the People’s Republic of China threatens.  Hong Kong citizens have been protesting a PRC-endorsed law proposal that would allow Hong Kongese and others resident in or visiting Hong Kong to be extradited to the mainland for trial in the PRC’s government-run court system.

[The PRC’s] government signaled its fraying patience with protesters in Hong Kong after they stormed the city’s legislature, calling the violent turn a direct challenge to Beijing’s authority and suggesting it would have to be answered.
Public statements from Beijing marked a shift in Chinese leaders’ attitude toward the crisis in the semiautonomous territory, indicating they may be forced to step in….

“The Trump Doctrine”

That’s the title of The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial last Sunday about President Donald Trump’s general foreign policy.  They’ve misunderstood it, though, beginning with their subheadline:

With this President, the diplomacy is always personal.

Well, of course it is. Just as all politics are local, so all diplomacy is personal: the principals must know who each other are and the degree to which they can trust each other.

And this:

President Trump believes in personal diplomacy and showmanship above all in foreign policy….

In Which I Agree with the ACLU

The National Security Agency illegally spied on American citizens, again.  This time occurred, last October, when the NSA

collected records about U.S. calls and text messages that it wasn’t authorized to obtain last year….

This

occurred several months after the NSA said it had purged hundreds of millions of metadata records it had amassed since 2015 due to a separate overcollection episode.

This flouting of law and of its instructions was no accident, not the second time.  It was deliberate.

An ACLU staff attorney, Patrick Toomey, said in part,

I’m Not Talking to You

Like an angry wife of a bygone era, the Iranian government is having a hissy fit over the latest round of sanctions, these applied directly to the likes of Ali Khamenei, Iran’s MFWIC; Foreign Minister Javad Zarif; and three military leaders:

Ali Reza Tangsiri, who was responsible for the Iranian regime’s forces threatening to close the straits of Hormuz; Amirali Hajizadeh, who was commander of the air force and responsible for downing the US unmanned aircraft in international airspace; and Mohammad Pakpour, who is responsible for IRGC’s ground forces.

Iran’s government isn’t happy.

The VA Fails Again

Now we learn that the Veterans Administration owes our disabled veterans a ton of money for something other than their health: some 53,000 of them have been charged home loan fees that they didn’t have to pay, to the tune of $189 million in aggregate. Those 53,000 are over half of our veterans who were allowed the fee waiver.  VA auditors have discovered that, for 2012 through 2017

[V]eterans were charged the fees under the VA’s Home Loan Guaranty Program and now may be entitled to refunds ranging from $5,000 to $20,000….

Russia Gets Nervous?

That’s the thesis of James Marson and Thomas Grove in their recent Wall Street Journal article.  It seems the US and allies have been running a number of training exercises in the Baltic Sea and in eastern Europe, and we’ve agreed to plus up (trivially) the number of soldiers we station in Poland—at Poland’s request.  This is making Russia nervous.

Mikhail Barabanov, of the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Systems and Technologies:

Russia sees the exercise as a preparation to deploy large NATO forces across the Baltic region[.]

It’s a Start

Germany has shown, with its welching on its commitment to spend 2% of its GDP on bolstering NATO, that it has no interest in Europe’s mutual defense.  That, though, does not alter the threat to European security represented by Russia other than to increase it.

I’m reminded of a remark President Abraham Lincoln made about General George McClellan and the army the latter commanded: If McClellan does not want to use the army, I should like to borrow it a while.  Since Germany isn’t interested in Europe’s defense, isn’t even interested in getting up a serious defense establishment of any sort (McClellan was strongly interested in this much), our forces are better placed elsewhere.

Another Reason

…to not have these things in our homes.

According to internal documents seen Wednesday by local media, German interior ministers are considering a proposal that would allow data from speech assistants to be legally permissible as evidence for the prosecution of crimes.

“Speech assistants”—is that what the kids are calling these things?  The speech assistants to which those German interior ministers refer are “smart” home devices like Alexa, Siri, smart TVs, presumably Cortana, and on and on—any device we allow in our naivete into our homes—that listen to our every word, every sound we sigh, and records the most current of them.