Taking the Booster

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

I dutifully took the Moderna COVID vaccine booster on Nov. 5 at the advice of my younger brother, who practices medicine. Two hours after this ordeal, I began to feel chills and suffer from a very upset stomach. These symptoms vanished two days later, and I resumed my normal routine, which includes jogging.

However, a week ago the unpleasant symptoms that I thought I was rid of returned, and I have been dealing with them ever since.

Some family members insist that it’s all in my imagination and I am not really feeling sick. If I am, the symptoms are from a low-grade flu that I picked up somewhere—perhaps while walking out of the pharmacy where I received the booster shot. There is no way, I have been assured, that the booster could have occasioned this degree of discomfort because that’s not supposed to happen. If I listened to National Public Radio, I would know that the booster has only minor side effects and that dwelling on them is characteristic of right-wing extremists, who are probably fascists and support the Jan. 6 “insurrection.” But of course, a million illegals crossing our Southern borders, Black Lives Matter protests in densely populated urban centers, and planeloads of unidentified Afghan “refugees” can do nothing to raise our infection totals because President Biden is okay with these developments.

I can no longer abide by the craziness unleashed by the nonstop politicization of the COVID epidemic. On one side I receive messages from agitated correspondents who tell me that the vaccine is being used to exterminate white people since blacks are mostly reluctant to receive the jab. I’m also told that the vaccine is causing the rapid spread of COVID, and so we should daily gorge ourselves on towering heaps of vitamins to protect ourselves from the disease-bearing recipients of the vaccines, who are making everyone else sick before dropping dead.

On the other side we have the leftist true believers who sound equally insane. From the moment the present salvific administration took over in Washington, taking the vaccine became a sacrament, like having a late-term abortion, teaching Critical Race Theory, or undergoing sex-change treatment. Although Joe and Kamala were vaccine-skeptics until they took office, the entire world must now be vaccinated, even those who have already had COVID and consequently built-up natural immunity.

I have heard leftist true believers insist that those who have not received the Biden—no longer Trump—vaccine should not be treated if these miscreants take sick. They should be allowed to waste away in the hovels inhabited by Deplorables, although those who rail against them would not have demanded this course of action when Biden and Harris were wary of the vaccine last year.

Allow me to make my own position on this matter unmistakably clear. Despite all the unpleasantness that came out of my decision to take the booster, I would do it again because of the limited degree of immunity that it affords senior citizens like me. I ascribe the after affects entirely to the jab and find ample confirmation daily for my assumption. I know of many others who are complaining about the same symptoms after having received the booster, and those who have communicated this information to me are entirely reliable sources, not anti-vaccine zealots.

That said, I am utterly exasperated by those who push the leftist party line about the vaccine. They blithely go on denying that a procedure Joe, Kamala, the media magnates, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stand behind cannot have the unpleasant consequences from which I am obviously suffering. I am supposed to believe that there is no causal relation between two temporally contiguous happenings that I have experienced, receiving the booster, and then coming down with symptoms that I’m still trying to shake. It is insisted that the two are not related, because if they are, then that would contradict an ideologically determined narrative.

Meanwhile, I continue to receive messages from the other extreme, suggesting that I have taken a catastrophic step by being injected with a fake vaccine serum that could kill me. But I may have a chance of surviving if I start swallowing loads of dietary supplements. Is there any way to make both hysterical sides disappear?

*****

This article was published on November 17, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from Chronicles.

Pushing Back Against The Big Banks

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

According to Bloomberg.com, three of Wall Street’s biggest municipal-bond underwriters have seen business grind to a halt in Texas after the state enacted a law that blocks governments from working with banks that have curtailed ties to the gun industry. Since the law took effect on September 1, 2021, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have not managed a single municipal-bond sale in the state, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Is your state doing enough to fight for your gun rights? This is how it gets done.

Currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen will, perhaps, decide whether the Second Amendment allows the government to prohibit ordinary law-abiding citizens from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense. On its face, this is simple. New York has had a handgun licensing system for more than 100 years. New York prohibits its citizens from carrying a handgun outside of their home without a license, and it requires permit applicants to convince a licensing officer they have “proper cause” to carry a concealed firearm. Petitioners Robert Nash and Brendan Koch argued that the New York law violates their constitutional right to bear arms. They lost at the district court level, wherein that court said: “Nash and Koch do not satisfy the ‘proper cause’ requirement because they do not ‘face any special or unique danger to [their] life.’” Eight other states have similar “show cause” laws: California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. All of their laws will be affected by the decision — hopefully, negatively. The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments on Nov. 3.

Hit back twice as hard. A federal judge has found the Washington, D.C. city government liable for wrongfully arresting six people between 2012 and 2014 who were accused of violating its ban on carrying handguns in public. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth’s decision could clear the way for claims for damages by as many as 4,500 people similarly arrested under the law the courts overturned in 2014, according to court filings. The Supreme Court struck down the District’s long-standing ban on handguns in a landmark 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which found that the Second Amendment protected individuals’ right to own a gun in the home. “The District violated the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights by arresting them, detaining them, prosecuting them, and seizing their guns based on an unconstitutional set of D.C. laws,” Lamberth wrote.

Yes, yes D.C. did that, plain as day. We’ll see if Lamberth’s well-thought-out legal reasoning can stand scrutiny by judges above him who hate the Second Amendment.

*****

This article was published in the November issues of Gun Tests, and is reproduced with permission of the author.

Fatal Drug Overdoses Are on the Rise in Arizona

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

More Americans are dying from drug overdoses than ever before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were an estimated 100,306 fatal overdoses over the 12 months through April 2021 — the most ever reported in a 12-month period and double the annual number of car accidents and firearm deaths combined.

The record number of deadly overdoses marks a 29% increase from the same period a year earlier and is more than double the number reported as recently as 2014. Public health experts attribute the surge to the proliferation of fentanyl — a synthetic opioid reported to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine — as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has isolated many Americans struggling with addiction while reducing their treatment options and care resources.

Of all drug classifications identified by the CDC, including synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids, cocaine, heroin, psychostimulants like methamphetamine, and methadone (a drug used to treat heroin and opioid addiction), synthetic opioids had the largest increase in fatalities in the state, up 59.8% from a year earlier.

The fatal drug overdose rate in Arizona now stands at 38.7 deaths for every 100,000 people, the 12th highest among all states. Nationwide, the per capita fatality rate stands at 30.3 per 100,000.

All overdose data used in this story are from the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC. To account for pending investigations and incomplete counts, the numbers reported are estimates calculated by the NCHS. Population-adjusted fatality rates were calculated using population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Decennial Census.

 

Rank State 1-yr change in fatal overdoses Drug OD deaths, 12 mos. ending April 2021 Deaths per 100,000 people, 2021 Drug OD deaths, 12 mos. ending April 2020 Deaths per 100,000 people 2020
1 Vermont 69.9% 209 32.5 123 19.1
2 West Virginia 62.2% 1,607 89.6 991 55.2
3 Kentucky 54.5% 2,319 51.5 1,501 33.3
4 Louisiana 51.6% 2,218 47.6 1,463 31.4
5 Tennessee 50.1% 3,581 51.8 2,385 34.5
6 Mississippi 49.9% 637 21.5 425 14.4
7 California 47.8% 10,585 26.8 7,162 18.1
8 Alaska 46.7% 176 24.0 120 16.4
9 Kansas 45.7% 558 19.0 383 13.0
10 South Carolina 45.4% 1,907 37.3 1,312 25.6
11 Oregon 45.1% 940 22.2 648 15.3
12 Minnesota 38.5% 1,188 20.8 858 15.0
13 New Mexico 37.0% 893 42.2 652 30.8
14 North Carolina 36.9% 3,526 33.8 2,576 24.7
15 Texas 36.4% 4,687 16.1 3,437 11.8
16 Georgia 36.3% 2,086 19.5 1,530 14.3
17 Washington 35.7% 1,892 24.6 1,394 18.1
18 Nevada 35.7% 992 32.0 731 23.5
19 Virginia 35.5% 2,262 26.2 1,669 19.3
20 Colorado 34.6% 1,655 28.7 1,230 21.3
21 Arkansas 33.0% 536 17.8 403 13.4
22 Indiana 32.4% 2,487 36.7 1,878 27.7
23 Alabama 31.4% 1,110 22.1 845 16.8
24 New York 29.3% 5,496 27.2 4,252 21.0
25 Arizona 28.5% 2,768 38.7 2,154 30.1
26 Nebraska 27.9% 211 10.8 165 8.4
27 Ohio 26.6% 5,585 47.3 4,410 37.4
28 Florida 26.2% 7,892 36.6 6,256 29.0
29 Maine 24.2% 528 38.8 425 31.2
30 Wisconsin 21.8% 1,599 27.1 1,313 22.3
31 Maryland 21.0% 2,876 46.6 2,376 38.5
32 Oklahoma 20.2% 798 20.2 664 16.8
33 Michigan 19.3% 2,952 29.3 2,474 24.6
34 Idaho 18.8% 297 16.1 250 13.6
35 Utah 18.5% 674 20.6 569 17.4
36 Rhode Island 17.5% 409 37.3 348 31.7
37 Wyoming 16.9% 97 16.8 83 14.4
38 Missouri 14.6% 2,004 32.6 1,749 28.4
39 Pennsylvania 13.1% 5,410 41.6 4,784 36.8
40 Illinois 12.6% 3,601 28.1 3,197 25.0
41 North Dakota 11.9% 122 15.7 109 14.0
42 Iowa 9.5% 426 13.4 389 12.2
43 Montana 6.6% 161 14.8 151 13.9
44 Hawaii 6.3% 268 18.4 252 17.3
45 Massachusetts 5.8% 2,419 34.4 2,286 32.5
46 Connecticut 4.4% 1,409 39.1 1,350 37.4
47 New Jersey -1.0% 2,918 31.4 2,948 31.7
48 Delaware -1.7% 459 46.4 467 47.2
49 New Hampshire -7.2% 372 27.0 401 29.1
50 South Dakota -19.8% 77 8.7 96 10.8

 

*****
This article was published on November 23, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

Horrific Waukesha Deaths Preventable Result of Ill-Considered Bail Policies

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

After a summer of wildly destructive civil unrest followed by the looming shadow of the high-profile trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, residents of Wisconsin suffered another blow in the form of unspeakable tragedy.

Five people were killed and more than 40 injured when a driver plowed through participants of an annual holiday parade, appearing to intentionally speed up and swerve into lines of marchers, before speeding off.

Hours later, police arrested 39-year-old Darrell Brooks as the suspected driver of the vehicle. He is charged with five counts of homicide.

Investigators are still looking into possible motives, including, according to some reports, the possibility that Brooks did not necessarily target the parade but was instead attempting to flee from a knife fight.

Whether the act was intentional or merely reckless and without regard to others, one thing is already clear—what happened in Waukesha was entirely preventable.

Darrell Brooks should have been in jail several times over. The devastation he wrought happened only because grossly reckless bail policies touted by local officials enabled the release of an unrepentantly violent man whose actions routinely placed members of the community in serious danger.

Brooks is a career criminal with a long rap sheet. His history of violence—including violence toward women—is well documented, and wide-ranging.

In 1999, Brooks pled guilty to felony battery with intent to cause bodily harm, and was sentenced to six months in jail and three years’ probation. Over the next seven years, Brooks had a series of short stints in jail for various drug and obstruction charges.

In 2006, he was convicted of felony statutory sexual seduction for impregnating a 15-year-old girl. Brooks was 24 years old at the time. He was sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender.

In 2010, Brooks pled no contest to felony strangulation and suffocation charges, as well as to violating the terms of his probation. He was sentenced to 11 months in jail and three more years of probation.

Brooks spent much of 2011 and 2012 in jail, serving two separate 180-day sentences for charges of drug possession and bail jumping, and a 37-day sentence for misdemeanor resisting arrest.

In 2016, Brooks was arrested and charged with failing to obey Nevada’s sex offender registration laws. He posted bail, then fled the state and never returned to court. He still has an active warrant out for his arrest in Nevada.

In July 2020, Brooks was again arrested after allegedly getting into a fist fight with his nephew over a cellphone and then firing a gun at the nephew’s car as the nephew drove away. Arresting officers found Brooks still in possession of the firearm as well as a small amount of meth. He was charged with a slew of serious felonies, including possession of a firearm as a firearm and two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering public safety with the use of a firearm.

Brooks’ bond was initially set at $10,000 but was quickly lowered to $7,500. He remained in custody until his Feb. 9 trial was postponed. His attorney then successfully argued for Brooks’ bail to be dropped even lower, and on Feb. 21, Brooks posted $500 bond and was released.

On Nov. 5, with his 2020 charges still pending, Brooks was again arrested and charged with several serious felony offenses after a woman—reportedly the mother of Brooks’ children—told police that he purposefully ran her over with a vehicle after an argument. According to reports, the vehicular assault left tire marks on the woman’s pants and injured her so severely that she was hospitalized.

Incredibly, despite two decades of violent behavior, an open felony warrant in Nevada, routine failures to abide by his probation or bond conditions, and an active case involving the violent use of a weapon, Brooks was allowed to post $1,000 cash bail. By Nov. 11, he was back in the community.

When all relevant information comes to light about possible motive or premeditation, it seems incredible that no one could have reasonably foreseen that Brooks would commit this specific type of violence and leave this amount of carnage in his wake.

Brooks’ propensity for violence and his lifetime spent disregarding the safety of others made a violent tragedy anything but unforeseeable.

It also could have been foreseen that this kind of tragedy would inevitably occur as a result of the well-intentioned but ill-thought-out and poorly executed bail reform policies that progressives are putting into effect across the country.

In fact, John Chisholm, the rogue George Soros-backed prosecutor in Milwaukee County who released Brooks when he should have sought no bail, issued a prophetic statement in 2007. He said: “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into [a] treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? … You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen.” He went on to argue, though, that “does not invalidate the overall approach.”

We disagree. And now that the dire consequences of these rogue prosecutors’ policies are sparking public backlash, Chisholm has called for an investigation into Brooks’ “inappropriately low” bond.

Unfortunately, this is emblematic of the rogue prosecutor movement more generally. They take a criminal-first, victim-last, passing-the-blame approach.

And while the consequences here were undoubtedly tragic, it’s far from the only example of rogue prosecutors’ lax bond policies wreaking havoc on their communities.

In Philadelphia, for example, rogue District Attorney Larry Krasner’s policies led to the murder of Philadelphia Police Cpl. James O’Connor by an individual whom Krasner released through his lenient policies. Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain said, “The murder was the direct result of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s pro-violent defendant policies.”

In Chicago, police have pointed to the “skyrocketing use of electronic monitoring as a key factor in the city’s shocking 50% rise in killings” last year.

And no wonder. In Kim Foxx’s Chicago, there are apparently no consequences for violating bail terms. According to the Chicago Tribune, “About 400 people are charged every year with felony escape. During [her predecessor’s] last three years in office, she dropped a total of 55 such cases, compared with 420 for Foxx.”

And then there’s San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin. As two of us (Cully and Zack) have previously written, “Since taking office, Boudin has also been criticized for releasing suspects with long criminal records who have gone on—surprise, surprise—to commit other crimes.”

The events in Wisconsin were tragic. But the nightmare was a completely avoidable consequence of a criminal justice system run by Soros’ rogue prosecutors.

*****

This article was published on November 23, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Daily Signal.

Medicare Ads And Other Inane Policies

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’ve all seen them, the Medicare TV ads exhorting seniors to apply for enhanced benefits. The government appears to be coaxing often reluctant retirees into greater dependence.

But this is a colossally bad idea, even for those of us who support helping citizens in their sunset years. It stimulates greed (it’s freeeee!) and entitlement in the demographic which government programs have already made into the most wealthy. It expands the reach of government into our lives.

But it’s worse than that. The ads are pitching benefits in a program already teetering on bankruptcy.  Americans were told that their mandatory payroll contributions were put in a fund to finance payouts in retirement, but that was a lie. Politicians raided the trust long ago and today’s retirees are dependent on the (inadequate) contributions of today’s payers – yes, like any other welfare program.

The rational response would be reforms that include reducing expenses where possible. Instead, we spend untold millions to pump up program outlays. Not smart. Consequences to follow.

But screeching Medicare ads aren’t the only government initiative which, partisan disagreements aside, simply don’t make sense. Take electric cars. They’re touted as a big key to a carbon-free future. We’re pouring public funds into subsidies, charging stations and other enticements for owners.

We may disagree over the feasibility of carbon reduction strategies to ultimately reduce climate change, but it doesn’t matter. Electric cars aren’t the answer. They still require energy that must be produced somehow.

The pollutants may come from an electricity generating plant instead of a car’s exhaust, but the damage done isn’t greatly different. The environmental costs of battery production and disposal as well as the extra power sources needed to service a national fleet of autos make EVs an environmental loser.

But politicians use them anyway to bolster green credentials. Buyers like the subsidies, the perks, and driving a cool car. Manufacturers are joining the ranks of the uber-rich. So the beat goes on.

EVs could have some environmental benefit if nuclear generation sourced their electricity. Once again, stupidity intervenes.

The environmental Left decreed long ago that nuclear was off-limits. Nuclear power plants would henceforth be discouraged by excessive regulation and harassment. The strategy has basically worked, but it’s a shame.

It’s still true that nuclear is by far the most environmentally friendly, non-emitting energy source available. Nuclear-producing France pays 50% less for energy with 10% the amount of pollution experienced by Germany, which sanctimoniously exited the nuclear market years ago.

Here’s more lunacy. A year ago, America had finally achieved energy independence, after decades of kowtowing to Arab sheiks and oil-rich autocrats. Within days, the Biden administration returned us to supplicant status. Pipeline permits were canceled, offshore drilling cut back and even the remote ANWR oil deposits were shut down.

Meanwhile, with our consent, Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline was approved, which will dominate Western Europe’s natural gas supplies. Biden unsuccessfully begged OPEC to increase oil production, so US gas prices have predictably skyrocketed and a cold winter looms.

Again, the environmental benefits of our foolishness are nil. Pipelines are the most environmentally safe way of transporting natural gas. The fuels from Russia and the Middle East are no cleaner than ours.

We have more inane policies. Children too young to vote, drink, smoke, or drive are now permitted to change their socially constructed gender by irreversibly altering their bodies-without parental consent.

$450,000 payouts are seriously proposed for illegal immigrants who were separated from their children in a humane effort to avoid mixing children with adults during detention. In spite of causing no known harm, GMO bans limit the amount of food available to starving Africans.

The driving force for these nutty, harmful policies is the relentless pursuit of electoral success by pandering to special interest groups. We’ve come a long way from Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a “wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another…“.

Listen to political analysts uncritically predicting the fate of multi-trillion-dollar spending bills based solely on how the vote would affect legislators’ prospects for remaining in office another term.

It’s disgraceful, but we expect no more, so that’s what we get.

****

Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute

 

More Arizona Officials Lean on Ben and Jerry’s Over Anti-Israel Stance

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Another Arizona official is using his office to voice opposition to ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s over its boycott of Israel’s occupation of territories occupied by Palestinians.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced said he’s joined 11 other states in urging Unilever and its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., to reverse their decision to boycott the State of Israel.

“We must defend the laws of our states and oppose attempts by global corporations to engage in economic warfare against the State of Israel,” Brnovich said.

Attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia also signed on to the letter.

“Despite the fact that the policies of most U.S. States opposing the boycotts of Israel are widely known, Unilever has embarked on an unfortunate and financially misguided path of testing our states’ resolve by refusing to stop Ben and Jerry’s from boycotting selected regions within the State of Israel,” the letter read.

Vermont-based Ben and Jerry’s announced July 19 it no longer would sell its products in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. It referred to the areas as “Occupied Palestinian Territory” in its announcement.

“We reject and repudiate all forms of hate and racism,” Ben & Jerry’s said in a statement. “Our decision to exit the OPT was based on our belief that it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s to be present within an internationally recognized illegal occupation. Speaking and acting on our values is neither anti-Israel nor antisemitic.”

The company will continue to sell ice cream in Israel, however.

Arizona Treasurer Michelle Yee announced Sept. 7 she would divest state funds from Unilever over Ben and Jerry’s stance. New Jersey, New York, Texas and Florida have done the same, according to the attorney’s general letter to Unilever.

*****

This article was published on November 26, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

China’s ‘Morally Bankrupt’ Olympics

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

The disappearance of tennis star Peng Shuai this month has led many around the world to question the holding of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Games are scheduled to begin February 4.

Now, only the morally bankrupt could think it is a good idea to allow the hostage-taking, rapist-protecting, genocide-committing Chinese regime to host this competition.

It is now time for the world to face the reality of the Communist Party of China and the horrific system it has constructed. There is only one correct choice: Move the Games.

For decades, people overlooked the great crimes of Chinese communism because they had hoped that it would, over time, evolve and become benign. When “reformer” Deng Xiaoping shoved aside Hua Guofeng, Mao Zedong’s chosen successor, and engineered at the end of 1978 the historic Third Plenum, outsiders thought they were seeing a new—and far superior—”New China.”

In fact, as the Communist Party embarked on gaige kaifang—the policy of “reform and opening up”—the regime both moderated its foreign policy and relaxed or eliminated totalitarian social controls. Then, optimism ruled.

But not now. The current ruler has reversed trends that many outsiders—as well as the Chinese people themselves—welcomed. The ruling group, never benevolent, has become even more monstrous under Xi Jinping.

Enter Ms. Peng, sporting hero and darling of the Chinese public. On November 2, she posted on Weibo, often called China’s Twitter, an accusation that Zhang Gaoli, aided by his wife, pressured her into providing sex.

The charge was unprecedented in the history of the People’s Republic of China. Zhang was once a senior leader, a vice premier who also served from 2012 to 2017 on the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, the highest ruling body in the country.

Peng’s posting was removed within a half-hour, and the two-time Grand Slam doubles champion—Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014—herself disappeared.

On November 17, China Global Television Network (CGTN), the international arm of the Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television, released the text of an e-mail, in English, purportedly written by Peng. In that message—correctly described by many as “creepy”—she said she was “fine.” Peng also said the “news” released by the Women’s Tennis Association “including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true.” Almost nobody believes that the message is both authentic and not the result of coercion.

Next, on November 19 a CGTN commentator posted on Twitter three photos of Peng, purportedly first released by the tennis star’s friend on the popular Chinese app WeChat. Peng in the pictures looks happy playing with a cat and stuffed animals, including a panda.

Then Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Communist Party’s Global Times tabloid, on November 19 said on Twitter that Peng “will show up in public and participate in some activities soon.”

Hu was prescient. On the following day, he posted two videos purporting to show Peng in a restaurant this month. The conversation at the table indicates that the videos were shot on November 20. The conversation, however, is stilted, obviously scripted to highlight the date it supposedly took place.

Finally, Hu posted a video of a smiling Peng at a tennis event in Beijing, supposedly taken on the morning of November 21.

Peng is not the only high-profile figure detained in recent months. Businessman Jack Ma, citizen journalists Zhang Zhan and Chen Qiushi, and celebrity Zhao Wei were all disappeared. Consider it a pattern.

Xi Jinping’s China is far more coercive and secretive than the China of the preceding three decades, suggesting the regime is returning to its old ways. Mao and Mao-admirer Xi reflect the true nature of Chinese communism.

That regime, now dominated by Xi Jinping, is a threat to athletes coming to China to compete, as the Peng incident demonstrates. “Athletes are useful to the Communist Party as long as they are tools of the state,” Cleo Paskal of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Gatestone. “If they try to be individuals, they become a liability. The state will destroy the individual if that person is any risk to the Party.” As Paskal, also associated with Chatham House, notes, Peng now poses a risk to the regime.

That is why the regime will make Peng publicly retract the accusations or destroy her. The individual means nothing in China’s current system. Too many times, state television has aired ghastly confessions of obviously worn-down individuals.

President Joe Biden on November 18, in response to a reporter’s question in the Oval Office, said he is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games. Senator Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican, has just called for “a complete and total boycott.”

There are many reasons to boycott or move the Olympics from Beijing. So far advocates of such actions have focused on the Communist Party’s genocidal policies against Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities and its other crimes against humanity. Of course, no ruling group that organizes rape, slavery, mass detention, torture, killings, and organ harvesting should be permitted, among other things, to host international sporting events.

The International Olympic Committee maintains that these atrocities are none of its business. Yet the protection of athletes is. Peng’s detention tells us athletes will not be safe in China. The Games, after all, are first and foremost about the competitors, and their personal safety must be the primary concern.

Paskal points out that holding the Games in China goes against the whole concept of Olympic competition. “The Olympics are about individuals striving to be their best,” she says. “That is antithetical to the Communist Party, which is about the subservience of the individual to the goals of the state.”

Even at this late date, it is time to boycott or move the Games from China.

*****

This article was published on November 21, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Gatestone Institute.

A House Divided Over Rittenhouse

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Shades of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial of 100 years ago.

Being retired, my wife and I were able to keep the TV tuned all day to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial as we went about our normal activities, stopping what we were doing to pay attention to the proceedings when something important happened in the courtroom.

News coverage and commentary on the trial were just as interesting as the trial itself. Reflecting the political divide in America, the left and right media had opposing takes on the trial—takes that often had little resemblance to the testimonies and evidence in the courtroom.

The left media generally took the side of the rioters, or whom they referred to as demonstrators. According to their narrative, the demonstrators were exercising their First Amendment right and standing up for social justice, even though some of them had criminal records and were the most unjust people imaginable. At the same time, Rittenhouse was characterized as a vigilante or white supremacist.

The right media generally took the side of Rittenhouse, characterizing him as a courageous and clean-cut defender of property who was exercising his Second Amendment right by strutting around with a high-velocity rifle. They characterized the rioters as scruffy anarchists or Marxists.

All of this took place against the backdrop of race, or more accurately, today’s contrived categories of race.

Nothing new here. A similar story happened a century ago, but one in which the establishment media had a perspective that was the opposite of its perspective today. Equally interesting, it’s a story that lays bare the ignorance behind today’s trope that all whites are the same and that only so-called non-whites, or “people of color,” have experienced institutional prejudice and discrimination.

The story is about the Sacco and Vanzetti trial, one of the most infamous trials in American history, a trial that was covered worldwide and that triggered protests around the world when a verdict was reached. 

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were poor and poorly educated Italian immigrants who had joined other Italian immigrants in the anarchist movement of the early twentieth century. Based on flimsy evidence, they were indicted for the murder of a guard and paymaster during an April 15, 1920, armed robbery of the Slater and Morrill Shoe Company in Braintree, Massachusetts.

At the time, there was widespread prejudice among the American people and the press against Italians and against swarthy immigrants from Southern Europe in general. (My poor and poorly educated fraternal and maternal grandparents had emigrated from Italy several years before the indictment of Sacco and Vanzetti.)

Bill Bryson captured the thinking of the time in his great book, One Summer:

Often they [Italians] found themselves excluded from employment and educational opportunities because of their nationality. Restrictive covenants kept them from moving into certain neighborhoods. Italians who settled in the Deep South were sometimes made to attend black schools. At first, it was by no means clear that they would be allowed to use white drinking fountains and lavatories . . .  The widespread perception of Italians was that if they weren’t Fascists or Bolsheviks, they were anarchists or Communists, and if they weren’t those, they were involved in organized crime.

In keeping with this prejudice, today’s paragon of social justice, the New York Times, editorialized back then that it was “perhaps hopeless to think of civilizing [Italians] or keeping them in order, except by the arm of the law.” 

At least Sacco and Vanzetti got a trial, albeit an unfair one, presided over by a brazenly biased judge. By contrast, 11 Italians were lynched in New Orleans without a trial.

On July 14, 1921, with just a few hours of deliberation, a jury convicted the two of first-degree murder, resulting in them being sentenced to death.

Worldwide protests followed. So did petitions from abroad for a retrial. One petition had nearly 500,000 signatures; another had over 150,000. Yet most Americans believed in their guilt, including middle-class Republicans and working-class Irish, who held counterdemonstrations in Boston.

Future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, who was then a Harvard law professor, wrote an article in the Atlantic Monthly, saying that Sacco and Vanzetti had been railroaded. Many blue-blooded Harvard alumni demanded that Frankfurter be fired and stopped making donations to the university. No doubt, some of their progeny now virtue signal about social justice while continuing to favor some races over others, as will be discussed momentarily.

Seven years after the trial, after a series of appeals, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in an electric chair.

Today, in an appalling display of institutional amnesia or ignorance of history, many of the same media that had been prejudiced against Sacco and Vanzetti now see themselves as being the epitome of enlightenment about social justice, race, diversity, and multiculturalism. Even more appalling, they have replaced the old prejudice with a new one, aided and abetted by academics and intellectuals, who, given their advanced education, have no excuse for their ignorance.

The new prejudice is that all whites are the same, regardless of ethnicity or nationality or class. They are all part of a homogenous blob. The only exceptions are Latinos, although many of them are whiter than this writer and come from privileged backgrounds.

According to the new prejudice, all whites but Latinos are privileged, all have benefited in a zero-sum game at the expense of non-whites, all harbor conscious or unconscious racist feelings, and all share the responsibility for slavery and its legacy, for the genocide of Native Americans, for the Chinese Exclusion Act, and for the mistreatment of Mexicans in the American Southwest.

Those labeled as white are guilty of these sins even if their forebears were peasants in the old country when the sinning happened, and even if they are from one of the hundreds of ethno-cultural groups that are far removed in history, culture, and skin shade from the nation’s founding white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

The new prejudice has led to discrimination in employment at the hands of directors of diversity and inclusion, as well as to ugly stereotyping in K-16 education, in the form of critical race theory, which is based on convoluted thinking instead of critical thinking. 

To take one example, a Latino American can get extra college admission points or promotion points in industry by virtue of his ethnicity and surname, even if his forebears were members of the Spanish aristocracy and owned slaves. But a Walloon American, or someone named Vanzetti, gets no extra points, even if his forebears were impoverished and didn’t own slaves.

In summary, America is still a house divided. It will remain so as long as new prejudices are allowed to replace old ones. 

 

Arizona Legislation Would Require Schools Teach ‘anti-communist’ Civics Curriculum

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Editors’ Note: The exchange between two Arizona legislators at the end of the following article encapsulates the major divide in America today. The (Democrat) left’s Marxist socialist ideology currently being forced without a mandate through Congress and the Executive branch, trumpeted by a corrupted and state-acting media and enabled by public school and higher education indoctrination throughout the land is diametrically opposed to our liberty, our natural rights and our history as a Judeo-Christian nation with a Constitution that established the individual citizen as the sovereign and a country governed by consent of the people for the first time in world history. We are now seeing restrictions of liberty everywhere, growth of a police state and an explosion of crime and chaos on American streets. The ingredients for a radical departure toward a statist model of governance with inordinate police power enabled by the pandemic and the highly questionable 2020 election results should concern every informed citizen who values the liberty we have and the America we love. On this Thanksgiving in 2021 let us recommit to the great gift we have been granted over two centuries ago and which must be defended against tyranny and loss by every generation and every American patriot.

 

Two Arizona Republicans whose families fled communist countries want schools in the state to teach about the evils of the political philosophy.

State Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott, announced Tuesday his plan to file legislation he said would strengthen civics instruction and civics literacy education for Arizona’s K-12 students.

Nguyen’s family fled communist Vietnam.

“This is very personal to me, as someone who has survived a communist war,” Nguyen said. “I have lost very close family members to the evil ideology of communism. I know what it feels to lose a nation to communism and that’s why I do not want my fellow Arizonans to ever go through what I have.”

“It is up to us to ensure that future generations have an honest understanding of what communism truly is and the horrors it has produced for mankind. Otherwise, it is likely to be repeated. The victims and survivors of communism deserve to have their voice heard.”

House Majority Leader Ben Toma’s family fled communist-run Romania. Toma, a Peoria Republican, is co-sponsoring the legislation with Nguyen.

“I believe in America and its cornerstone principles of liberty, freedom, and democracy,” he said. “I also believe that we have a solemn obligation to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders.”

Toma said the legislation strengthens a student’s foundation in civic literacy and understanding of what makes America exceptional, and how it stands in stark contrast to communism and totalitarianism.

Nguyen’s bill would require the state academic standards in social studies to be retooled to include discussion of “political ideologies that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States.”

Similar legislation was debated as the previous legislative session came to a close in June but failed to make it to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.

Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, said during previous debate white nationalism is more dangerous of an ideology than communism. Nguyen had a candid response.

“White nationalism didn’t drown 250,000 Vietnamese in the South China Sea,” he said.

*****

This article was published on November 23, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

Why There is a Civic and Moral Duty to Oppose Tyrannical Bureaucracies

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

The searing Russian novel Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman is one of the greatest examinations of totalitarianism ever written. Based on his experiences under Stalin, Grossman depicts how humanity withers under tyranny. Grossman’s book is not a dystopian novel, yet few books better teach how force is used to control a population by not only restricting liberty but also exploiting weaknesses in human nature.

Along a flank of the Stalingrad front, two colonels talk about the terrible impact of bureaucrats and bureaucracy. One colonel tells this story:

There was an infantry detachment that had been surrounded. The men had nothing to eat. A squadron was ordered to drop them some food by parachute. And then the quartermaster refused to issue the food. He said he needed a signature on the delivery slip and how could the men down below sign for what had been dropped by parachute? And he wouldn’t budge. Finally he received an order from above.

The other colonel says, “Bureaucracy can be much more terrifying than that.” He then shares this story:

Remember the order: ‘Not one step back’? There was one place where the Germans were mowing our men down by the hundred. All we needed to do was withdraw over the brow of the hill. Strategically, it would have made no difference – and we’d have saved our men and equipment. But the orders were “Not one step back.” And so the men perished and their equipment was destroyed.

The conversation continues, and then Grossman has one colonel deliver the punchline: “What’s really terrifying is when you realize that bureaucracy isn’t simply a growth on the body of the State. If it were only that, it could be cut off. No, bureaucracy is the very essence of the State.”

The forces making bureaucracy arbitrary, capricious, and impervious to reason—”the very essence of the State”—are the same in America as they were in Grossman’s Soviet Union. We all have our stories of bureaucratic indifference; and now during Covid, indifference has become cruel. Just ask the relatives of former Governor Cuomo’s nursing home victims or the former “health angels” who gained natural immunity and now face termination for refusing the vaccine mandate.

In his book Bureaucracy, Ludwig von Mises explains, “The ultimate basis of an all-around bureaucratic system is violence.” As for the bureaucrats making the rules, Mises observes, “He who is unfit to serve his fellow citizens wants to rule them.”

Today, has Grossman’s World War II “not one step back” become “if it saves one life?”

Egyppius is a pseudonymous critic of Covid policies. He recently explored how the “not one step back” mindset has shaped Covid policy:

All containment policies, since March 2020, flow from two fundamental premises, that together form a Pandemic Doctrine: 1) All pandemic infections are regrettable and to be prevented. 2) It is possible to control pandemics via social or medical technology.” “Before 2020, nobody anywhere believed either of these things—not despite, but because of long experience with semi-regular pandemic influenza outbreaks.

Egyppius explores the motives of the “autonomous undirected actions of a million nameless, faceless bureaucrats, which nobody can any longer control:”

Everything since then, has been the autonomous force of the Pandemic Doctrine and its terrible demands. As containment policies have failed, one after the other, they have left a vortex of disconfirmed expectancy in their wake, turning early political and bureaucratic advocates of containment into truly deranged zealots. The policies themselves, though they are articles of faith, have little or no real-world effect, and this has had curious consequences. It became important for all countries to do as many useless things as possible, and more or less the same useless things as everyone else. Bureaucracies that rejected a specific measure risked being blamed for whatever happened next. And without controls, the failure of containment could be rewritten always and forever as success: ‘Imagine how many more deaths we would have had, if we never locked down.

San Francisco bureaucrats demand that 5-year-old children be vaccinated in order to be admitted to indoor places. Will parents of tall 4-year-old children have to carry birth certificates to prove that their child isn’t five? School bureaucrats demand special needs children with breathing issues be placed in plexiglass cubicles.

On a Federal level, OSHA bureaucrats issue rules that contain a new cadre of inspectors empowered to level $13,600 per worker fines for those firms violating vaccine mandates; mandates that do nothing to control the spread of Covid.

As essential services continue to deteriorate and shelves continue to empty, will bureaucrats change their guidelines? Egyppius predicts the Covid totalitarian toothpaste “will never go back in the tube.”

Faced with this illiberal onslaught from politicians and bureaucrats, it seems there is little we can do but weep in despair. After all, you might reason, what can one person do? Mises is clear: such a defeatist mindset forfeits your civic duties.

Bureaucracy was written in 1944, and of course, Mises had nothing to say about the Covid bureaucracy. However, his advice on opposing the socialist bureaucracy is applicable today.

Lesson 1: Oppose bureaucrats with vigor but avoid name-calling.

Mises explored the “propaganda trick” of those promoting socialism in Western countries. Promoters of socialism “extol the blessings which socialism has in store for mankind… [but] they have never attempted to prove their fallacious dogmas or still less to refute the objections raised by the economists.” Instead, they “call their adversaries names and… cast suspicion upon their motives.”

Today, politicians and bureaucrats use the same strategy to besmirch opponents of failed Covid policies. Has anything changed since Mises observed, “The average citizen cannot see through these stratagems?”

If you are swayed by propaganda that encourages us vs them name-calling, you are being manipulated to turn towards the darkest corners of your mind.

Lesson 2: Encourage others to broaden their reading and listening beyond the orthodoxy.

To combat socialism, Mises recommended economic studies as a civic duty. One does not have to become an economist to see through propaganda. Mises explains,

Only a man conversant with the main problems of economics is in a position to form an independent opinion on the problems involved. All the others are merely repeating what they have picked up by the way. They are an easy prey to demagogic swindlers and idiotic quacks. Their gullibility is the most serious menace to the preservation of democracy and to Western civilization.

Mises clarified, “The aim of the popularization of economic studies is not to make every man an economist. The idea is to equip the citizen for his civic functions in community life.” “It is hopeless,” Mises warned, “to stop the trend toward bureaucratization by the mere expression of indignation and by a nostalgic glorification of the good old times.”

Applying this lesson today, you don’t have to be a physician or epidemiologist to become conversant with basic Covid issues. Official propaganda might claim this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, that natural immunity doesn’t exist, and your 5-year-old child urgently needs a Covid vaccination, but you can look at the evidence for yourself.

Lesson 3: Oppose all censorship

Propaganda, Mises alerts us, “is one of the worst evils of bureaucracy.” Propaganda is full of “lies, fallacies, and superstitions.” Mises adds these prescient words: “The liars must be afraid of truth and are therefore driven to suppress its pronouncement… Lenin and Hitler knew very well why they abolished freedom of thought, speech, and the press, and why they closed the frontiers of their countries to any import of ideas from abroad.”

No matter where you stand on a Covid issue, freedom and scientific progress depend on your opposition to the censorship of opposing views. Censors in America are not driven by better motivations than Stalin, Hitler, or Mao. Censors want to abolish critical thinking and pave the way for the imposition, without opposition, of any program they deem necessary.

Lesson 4: Oppose rule by elites

If Covid bureaucrats have run wild, “gullible citizenry” is to blame: “The plain citizens are mistaken in complaining that the bureaucrats have arrogated powers; they themselves and their mandatories have abandoned their sovereignty. Their ignorance of fundamental problems of economics has made the professional specialists supreme.” Mises warned against rule by elite “experts:”

But democracy becomes impracticable if the eminent citizens, the intellectual leaders of the community, are not in a position to form their own opinion on the basic social, economic, and political principles of policies. If the citizens are under the intellectual hegemony of the bureaucratic professionals, society breaks up into two castes: the ruling professionals, the Brahmins, and the gullible citizenry. Then despotism emerges, whatever the wording of constitutions and laws may be.

Mises ends his book with this instruction:

How can people determine their own affairs if they are too indifferent to gain through their own thinking an independent judgment on fundamental political and economic problems? Democracy is not a good that people can enjoy without trouble. It is, on the contrary, a treasure that must be daily defended and conquered anew by strenuous effort.

Watching CNN or Fox and then repeating “They say…” is not the strenuous effort Mises suggested. Mises would warn against dismissing brave voices diligently questioning the orthodoxy. Entrepreneur Steve Kirsch is just one example of a courageous voice who some would dismiss as not being a trained health professional. You can come to a different conclusion.

If we have a civic duty to learn about immunity, pandemics, and health, we also have an equally important moral duty.

Lesson 5: We have a moral duty to see the humanity in others

Recently I was speaking to a physician friend whose politics are progressive but who sees himself as holding liberal values. I mentioned how disturbed I was about the ongoing demonization by bureaucrats and politicians of those who have chosen not to be vaccinated. The physician said this is indeed regrettable, but he chastised me: “I must understand the context, those doing the demonization are trying to save lives.” Although this doctor himself had suffered a significant vaccine injury from the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, he then recited the bureaucratic propaganda for current vaccine policies. To keep his standing in the medical community, he carefully weighs the dangers to his career of stepping too far away from the official narrative. He cares about patients, yet the ties of his medical tribe compromise his judgment.

If you say I must feed my family, I cannot oppose mandates; no one will fault you. If you say, I have no time to study the issue and make my own judgment, you can still take a moral stand against coercing and demonizing others. You can stand for the humanity in each person and eschew tribal hatreds. There is no need to harass others by cooperating with petty bureaucrats.

In his best-known work, I and Thou, the Vienna-born philosopher Martin Buber observed two fundamental ways of seeing the world: “I-Thou” or “I-It.” Through the “I-It” lens, others are seen as less than us, either as objects who help us or obstacles that get in our way. Tribalism, at its core, looks at the world through “I-It” eyes.

In the great Russian novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky tells of Fyodor Pavlovitch, who desires to “revenge himself on everyone for his own unseemliness.” Pavlovitch remembers being asked, “Why do you hate so and so, so much?” Pavlovitch had responded, “I’ll tell you. He has done me no harm. But I played him a dirty trick, and ever since I have hated him.”

Today, those we once called angels, health care professionals, airline employees, first responders, grocery store cashiers who served us while others worked at home over Zoom are having “dirty tricks” played against them. If they refuse mandates, they are fired.

It is human nature to experience dissonance when we behave poorly. Notice a moment when you catch yourself seeing the world through “I-It” eyes, when you have failed to see the humanity in another. In the next moment, you may notice there is an itch you need to scratch. The itch is a felt need to justify your “I-It” thinking. You may relieve the itch by cheering at a propagandistic pronouncement portraying the unvaccinated as a threat to you. Phew, you may think, I’m not really a bad person; I’m just defending myself against those who would harm me. In justifying “I-It” thinking, moral duty is abandoned.

We are now at a crossroads. How will we resolve our dissonance when we fail to see the humanity in others? One path is to scratch the need to feel innocent and virtuous. As Dostoevsky explained, we tend to become outraged at those we have harmed.

The other path is to resolve our dissonance by looking at our actions without justifying our actions. In that space, clarity and moral courage arise. Our civic and moral duty requires us to resist all inhumane demonizers professing that there is only one true way and that they are the keepers of that way.

In his seminal work, Human Action, Mises wrote, “A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society.”

In the spirit of Mises, I offer this: A society that embraces coerced medical choices has chosen a path away from social cooperation and towards the disintegration of society.

*****

This article was published on November 20, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The American Institute for Economic Research.