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It wasn’t a bad joke. “Question: What is a conservative? Answer: A liberal who’s been mugged.” That joke has a disheartening corollary. “Question: What is a liberal? Answer: A conservative whose firm got a big contract in Communist China!”

Whether from fear, respect or plain old gratitude to whoever lends you enough billions to get by, I sense America softening toward Communist China.

It was a think-tanky-type banquet at which the 20 guests had to sing-for-their-supper by speaking briefly about something their profession advantaged them to observe. When it was my turn I pointed out that a never-quite-explained something-or-other was recently fired south of Vandenberg Air Force Base that sent trails across the California skies heading west. Very close to the same time and place a Carnival cruise ship was disabled after a fire in the engine room.

A veteran sea-goer had contacted me and sneered at the explanation of a small fire knocking out primary power and backup on a ship that large. So I wondered aloud if a Chinese sub might have wanted to show it could, undetected, infiltrate our most forbidden waters, fire a missile as a calling card (AWAY from American soil) and then show off some dazzling new technology; something like a limited electro-magnetic pulse weapon that could leave a huge ship limp as a log in the water.

I did not do my usual routine of springing the length of my chain and sinking my fangs into the most menacing dictatorship on earth. Far from it. In fact, if a Chinese Communist had been present he might have been proud and pleased to hear an American impute such capability to his homeland. The professor from a major university across the table had been quite cordial to me during the small-talk part of the evening. Despite the mildness of my “attack” on China, that cordiality vanished like a cobweb under a blowtorch.

I had used phrases like “Communist China” and “Red China” instead of his preferred “People’s Republic of China,” and I’d used the word “dictatorship,” When it was his turn he said, “In America I have to step over people sleeping on the sidewalk. The Chinese have a Confucian value. Nobody sleeps on the sidewalk. And China is not monolithic,” he insisted, looking at me. “It’s MULTI-lithic!”

He didn’t indicate which parties other than the Communist contended for power in China. Nor did he indicate how those Confucian values lifted the lives of tens of millions of victims of one of the most hideous human-rights tramplers of all, or why the gratitude of all those who don’t have to sleep on the sidewalk can’t quell at least some of the average of 200 incidents of public protest every single day across China.

I can forgive my public school system for sending me out into the world thinking that Mexico and even countries like Guatemala and Paraguay were just smaller Americas that speak Spanish. No dictators. No poverty. But I cannot forgive this administration for shamelessly presenting China as a “friend.” Did Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon etc. ever tell us the Soviet Union was a “friend”? No. They treated us like grownups. How dare Obama pump all that spray-deodorant on our “friends”! “Kowtow” is a Chinese word, but we do it much better than they do.

Statesmen and commentators of that era are still getting whacked for failing to see the danger of Nazi Germany. That danger was like a camouflaged lizard compared to the danger of China today. Is China’s breathtaking military build-up designed to discourage an incursion from Nepal? How long are we supposed to pretend we don’t notice Beijing’s support of Iran? If China were a friend, our problems with North Korea would evaporate before breakfast. I suddenly feel like I clearly remember feeling at the age of 4, watching a puppet show with a crowd of other tots. We screamed our warnings at Little Red Riding Hood when we saw the wolf. But that innocent maiden neither heard nor heeded.

Don’t be surprised if Red China collapses. Wouldn’t it be great for a change to have a nice record of America’s being on the side of democracy; the side of the people? What would Thomas Jefferson say about the spectacle of the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize making so much kissy-face with the ruler who won’t let the 2010 winner of that same prize out of his political prison to accept it?

Rarely does someone have to be educated to the fact that he’s being flirted with. We do occasionally need to be told when we’re being insulted. China hit America with a multi-megaton insult by revealing their new J-20 stealth warplane while American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was standing there in Beijing trying to look un-humiliated. America’s lack of reaction to such insult, or even any apparent awareness of it, isn’t lost on those masterminding China’s next moves.

And you could ditto that fecklessness in the case of America’s spurned outreaches to Iran, North Korea and Cuba.

Can anybody explain why America’s first black president is so eager to kowtow to slave-masters?

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