- A think tank that U.S. officials consider a Chinese influence agent has cultivated ties to Historically Black Colleges and Universities [HBCUs] since 2014.
- The China-U.S. Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) has paid a consultant nearly $670,000 since 2017 to arrange student visits from the schools to China, as well as to make introductions to members of the Congressional Black Caucus [CBC].
- CIA Director William Burns testified last month that he grew suspicious of CUSEF’s activities when he led the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank that had a relationship with the Chinese group.
- The FBI provided security briefings to presidents of HBCUs prior to CUSEF-funded trips they made to China, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.
A Hong Kong-based think tank suspected of working as a front group for the Chinese Communist Party has cultivated close ties to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and members of the Congressional Black Caucus since 2014.The China-U.S. Exchange Foundation’s (CUSEF) outreach to the black community is part of a broad initiative to cozy up to prominent organizations in the U.S., including foreign policy think tanks and other elite universities.
CUSEF’s activities have drawn the attention of CIA Director William Burns, who testified at his Senate confirmation hearing last month that he cut ties with CUSEF when he was president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace out of concern over “Chinese influence operations.”
Most of CUSEF’s contacts with HBCUs and Congressional Black Caucus members have been arranged by Wilson Global Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based communications firm.
Since 2018, Wilson Global Communications has disclosed its activities for CUSEF to the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a law that regulates foreign lobbying activity.
According to Wilson Global’s most recent FARA filing, submitted March 22, CUSEF paid the firm $89,844 over the past six months to hold virtual meetings with the leaders of HBCUs and college students. She also had contact with Yu Jiang, a professor at Xavier University who operates the school’s Confucius Institute, which U.S. officials also consider to be an influence agent of the Chinese government. CUSEF has paid Wilson Global $667,641 since January 2017, according to FARA filings.In its FARA disclosures, Wilson Global says it provides CUSEF with “communications and public relations services, which included outreach to U.S. elected officials.” The firm coordinates trips for college students and leaders of HBCUs to China, all funded by CUSEF. Wilson Global has also arranged contact between CUSEF and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Julia Wilson, the owner of Wilson Global, has held meetings with CBC members Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, Jim Clyburn, Donald Payne, and others, according to Wilson Global’s FARA filings.
High inflation takes off where political forces are too strong to permit the implementation of harsh remedial measures with respect to taxation and monetary policy such as to prevent an implosion of the national currency. In the contemporary global financial marketplace, there has been fluctuating concern about the US heading toward this point, albeit at a highly uncertain date, as evidenced by waves of attack last spring, summer, and autumn on the US dollar. In reality, though, the long-run inflation threat level is higher in Europe than the US.
Any substantial European remedial action sufficient to arrest in the future a threatened emergence of high consumer price inflation would unleash forces which could potentially sweep away the present status quo of political and economic power. Hence, whatever the immediate cause of the inflation acceleration, we should expect a consensus of policymaking elites—Berlin in full acquiescence—to kick the can down the road.
Currency depreciation is likely to be a crucial part of the dynamic process of high inflation emerging in Europe, as has indeed been the case so often in the laboratory of history. That laboratory lesson indeed applies to the US, and importantly to the origins of the greatest peacetime inflation, which started in the early to mid-1960s.
The story started with the economic miracles in Europe (France, Italy, Germany) and Japan. The Fed, as the monetary hegemon within the Bretton Woods System, should have allowed interest rates to rise sharply as would have occurred under a sound money regime. Instead, the Fed in tune with the aim of the Kennedy administration to repudiate the stop-go policies of the 1950s, steered monetary policy such as to keep interest rates low. As high consumer price inflation emerged from 1965, with a lag behind asset inflation, the Fed did start to let rates rise, even abruptly at times. Sustained bold action, however, would have pushed up dramatically the cost of public sector borrowing, which was then bulging as the Johnson administration waged war in Vietnam and enacted the social programs of the Great Society.
Fed chief William McChesney Martin had no appetite or political basis to embark on a collision course with the Johnson administration, and anyway he espoused the view that his institution was “independent within government” not “independent of government.” The dollar was ostensibly ailing, as illustrated by a rising free price of gold from spring 1968 and the DM revaluation of the following year.
The high consumer price inflation scenario for the US which many have in mind now for the years ahead is unlikely to feature economic miracles outside the US as in the 1960s. Plausibly, a key part of the story could be sustained private sector economic strength, which calls for much higher rates and which the Fed cannot deliver.
A growth cycle downturn or even recession in 2022/23 might interrupt the journey for some time to this destination. But when high CPI inflation eventually emerges, opposition to higher conventional taxation or cutting public expenditure is likely to be strong. Also, with so much corporate and mortgage debt outstanding, howls would be tremendous against any remedial monetary action which would mean higher interest rates. Hence the Fed may well settle for “kicking the can down the road.”
That conclusion, though, is not certain. There are alternative less likely scenarios where forces opposed to such cynicism could win the political majority, and the Fed has plenty of technical scope to “normalize” monetary conditions. As illustration, the Fed could liquidate Its vast portfolio of Treasury securities over a short period as part of an operation to restore monetary base to an effective anchor role.
It is quite different in Europe. There, “it is too late to go back” is a phrase whose infamy goes all the way back to Emperor Franz-Josef’s refusal in late July 1914 to soften Vienna’s ultimatum to Belgrade. A century plus later, it will almost certainly be too late to go back with respect to the degraded euro. Whenever the European economy gets into a sustained recovery track out of the pandemic, the ECB will not allow rates to rise in line with any incipient rise of consumer price inflation.
A look at the ECB balance sheet explains the hypothesized obduracy. By the end of 2021, this is headed to 80 percent of eurozone GDP, versus the Fed’s balance sheet at just under 40 percent. Whereas the Fed’s balance sheet is made up almost entirely of loans to the US government (mainly Treasuries) and government-sponsored mortgage debt, the ECB’s consists largely of junk or borderline junk, including vast holdings of weak sovereign debt (no. 1 Italy). Loans to a virtually bankrupt banking sector amount to a third of total ECB assets. On top of that, the Italian and Spanish central banks have borrowed over €1 trillion of debt within the so-called TARGET2 system with the Bundesbank, the chief creditor on the other side.
Let’s go through the thought experiment of the ECB embarking on a monetary normalization course which would have as consequence market interest rates rising 200 basis points across the board and slimming down the balance sheet by, say, 25 percent as a first stage to reestablish monetary base as anchor to the system. The weak banks could simply not pay the added interest rate cost to the ECB on their vast indebtedness given their lack of scope to raise rates on their loans to weak sovereigns and corporates. One way or another they would have to get subsidies to pay the interest—but how can critically weak sovereigns afford this except via ECB money printing? Resentment from the “frugal north” and EU laws against state aid would impede action.
A Green-CDU (Christian Democratic Union) coalition in Berlin such as is likely to emerge from this autumn’s elections according to present polling would have no wish to break European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) up. Holding the status quo together means giving a nod to the ECB to keep rates down (at present subzero) and spare us all these traumas. In the same vein, just imagine the system stress if the Bundesbank demanded that the Banca d’Italia pay interest on its debit balance within TARGET2, or if the ECB toward restoring monetary base as anchor had to liquidate 20 percent of its Italian government debt holdings as part of a general cutback. Better just to allow inflation to rise.
The dynamics of the inflation path would depend crucially on the behavior of the euro. If the US is by then reining back monetary radicalism in the context of accelerating inflation, then Europe’s currency fall could indeed be breathtaking. Even if political forces in Germany against high inflation gather power under such circumstances, that would not slow the fall of the euro. In any breakup scenario for the EMU, including the opening of a path to a new hard euro, the ECB faces liquidation first.
As the U.S. tries to grapple with how—and how much—funding is used to promote anti-American propaganda within the U.S., the Confucius Institutes have attracted an enormous amount of attention. The Confucius Institutes are ostensibly Chinese language and cultural events institutes scattered throughout U.S. on university campuses and even in K–12 schools. They been increasingly deemed influence-peddling operations of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out to students and faculty at the Georgia Institute for Technology in December 2020, the Confucius Institutes illustrate a growing problem: China and other adversarial nations have been paying U.S. universities to push anti-American ideology. According to Pompeo, the U.S. Department of Education tracked $1.3 billion that U.S. universities received from China since 2013.
The number of Confucius Institutes is shrinking in response to the attention, with the National Association of Scholars noting the over 100 institutes in 2004 will drop to less than 50 by the end of 2021.
But China is hardly the only player on the world stage who is trying to buy a good reputation via the American nonprofit and charitable giving system. Other ideological causes are working just as hard to convince charitable donors and young Americans on college campuses that their work is admirable and should be supported both with word of mouth and open pocketbook.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
A recent example comes from the Clarion Project, a self-described “non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the threats of extremist groups and individuals who threaten the safety and security of North America.”
In its report “Army of NGOs: Iran-Linked Terror Group Uses Fronts to Operate in America & Europe,” the Clarion Project lays out the case that an Iranian-backed terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has been using pop-up, fake charitable organizations to scam people into donating to a cause that appears respectable on the surface, but masks terrorist activities condemned by the U.S., Israel, Canada, and the European Union. And PFLP is using college campuses to help sell the message.
The Daily Wire reports that Addameer, a nongovernmental group that has a presence on U.S. college campuses and purportedly works to support captive Palestinian prisoners, is actually steeped heavily in PFLP work through members of its board:
The organization’s activities include providing free legal representation for Palestinian prisoners and detainees—including convicted terrorists—and ensuring that prisoners have rights to medical assistance and education.
[But] some of Addameer’s board members and staff are also connected to the PFLP. For example, the Director of Addameer, Sahar Francis, allegedly has close ties to Ahmad Saadat who was the PFLP’s Secretary-General before he was imprisoned by Israel for killing Israeli citizens and planning the assassination of the Israeli Tourism Minister, Rehavam Zeevi.
Under Addameer, Francis has traveled to U.S. college campuses to give lectures sponsored by campus organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace and the Students for Justice in Palestine, both of which operate under the purview of progressive politics and have been criticized for alleged anti-Semitic agendas.
The Daily Wire report also lists speaking tours Francis gave in 2013 and 2017, with appearances at the Mosque Foundation in Chicago, San Francisco State University, and the University of California, Irvine. Other stops included Atlanta, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. These events were often co-organized by Jewish campus groups, despite PFLP’s history of anti-Israel terrorism.
Nonprofits for Terrorism
This arrangement uses what the U.S. Treasury called in 2018, “fraudulent or sham charitable organizations . . . established with purported charitable aims but [operating] almost solely to facilitate terrorist financing or support for a terrorist group.” Such organizations sell terrorism to America’s youth under the guise of humanitarian work. U.S. legislators should make it a priority to address this form of nonprofit abuse.
I’m sitting at a bar in Texas, surrounded by maskless people, looking at folks on the streets walking around like life is normal, talking with nice and friendly faces, feeling like things in the world are more-or-less normal. Cases and deaths attributed to Covid are, like everywhere else, falling dramatically.
If you pay attention only to the media fear campaigns, you would find this confusing. More than two weeks ago, the governor of Texas completely reversed his devastating lockdown policies and repealed all his emergency powers, along with the egregious attacks on rights and liberties.
There was something very un-Texan about those lockdowns. My hotel room is festooned with pictures of cowboys on horses waving guns in the air, along with other depictions of rugged individualism facing down the elements. It’s a caricature but Texans embrace it. Then a new virus came along – as if that had never happened before in Texas – and the new Zoom class took the opposite path, not freedom but imposition and control.
After nearly a year of nonsense, on March 2, 2021, the governor finally said enough is enough and repealed it all. Towns and cities can still engage in Covid-related mischief but at least they are no longer getting cover from the governor’s office.
At that moment, a friend remarked to me that this would be the test we have been waiting for. A complete repeal of restrictions would lead to mass death, they said. Would it? Did the lockdowns really control the virus? We would soon find out, he theorized.
I knew better. The “test” of whether and to what extent lockdowns control the virus or “suppress outbreaks” (in Anthony Fauci’s words) has been tried all over the world. Every serious empirical examination has shown that the answer is no.
The US has many examples of open states that have generally had better performance in managing the disease than those states that are closed. Georgia already opened on April 24, 2020. South Dakota never shut down. South Carolina opened in May. Florida ended all restrictions in September. In every case, the press howled about the coming slaughter that did not happen. Yes, each open state experienced a seasonality wave in winter but so did the lockdown states.
So it was in Texas. Thanks to this Twitter thread, and some of my own googling, we have a nice archive of predictions about what would happen if Texas opened.
- California Governor Gavin Newsom said that opening Texas was “absolutely reckless.”
- Gregg Popovich, head coach of the NBA San Antonio Spurs, said opening was “ridiculous” and “ignorant.”
- CNN quoted an ICU nurse saying “I’m scared of what this is going to look like.”
- Vanity Fair went over the top with this headline: “Republican Governors Celebrate COVID Anniversary With Bold Plan to Kill Another 500,000 Americans.”
- There was the inevitable Dr. Fauci: “It just is inexplicable why you would want to pull back now.”
- Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke of Texas revealed himself to be a full-blown lockdowner: It’s a “big mistake,” he said. “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that it’s also a cult of death.” He accused the governor of “sacrificing the lives of our fellow Texans … for political gain.”
- James Hamblin, a doctor and writer for the Atlantic, said in a Tweet liked by 20K people: “Ending precautions now is like entering the last miles of a marathon and taking off your shoes and eating several hot dogs.”
- Bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald flipped out: “Goddamn. Texas already has FIVE variants that have turned up: Britain, South Africa, Brazil, New York & CA. The NY and CA variants could weaken vaccine effectiveness. And now idiot @GregAbbott_TX throws open the state.” He further called the government “murderous.”
- Epidemiologist Whitney Robinson wrote: “I feel genuinely sad. There are people who are going to get sick and die bc of avoidable infections they get in the next few weeks. It’s demoralizing.”
- Pundit Bill Kristol (I had no idea that he was a lockdowner) wrote: “Gov. Abbott is going to be responsible for more avoidable COVID hospitalizations and deaths than all the undocumented immigrants coming across the Texas border put together.”
- Health pundit Bob Wachter said the decision to open was “unforgivable.”
- Virus guru Michael Osterholm told CNN: “We’re walking into the mouth of the monster. We simply are.”
- Joe Biden famously said that the Texas decision to open reflected “Neanderthal thinking.”
- Nutritionist Eric Feigl-Ding said that the decision makes him want to “vomit so bad.”
- The chairman of the state’s Democratic Party said: “What Abbott is doing is extraordinarily dangerous. This will kill Texans. Our country’s infectious-disease specialists have warned that we should not put our guard down, even as we make progress towards vaccinations. Abbott doesn’t care.”
- Other state Democrats said in a letter that the decision was “premature and harmful.”
- The CDC’s Rochelle Walensky didn’t mince words: “Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19.”
There are probably hundreds more such warnings, predictions, and demands, all stated with absolute certainty that basic social and market functioning is a terrible idea. The lockdown lobby was out in full force. And yet what do we see now more than two weeks out (and arguably the lockdowns died on March 2, when the government announced the decision)?
Here are the data.
The CDC has a very helpful tool that allows anyone to compare open vs closed states. The results are devastating for those who believe that lockdowns are the way to control a virus. In this chart we compare closed states Massachusetts and California with open states Georgia, Florida, Texas, and South Carolina.
What can we conclude from such a visualization? It suggests that the lockdowns have had no statistically observable effect on the virus trajectory and resulting severe outcomes. The open states have generally performed better, perhaps not because they are open but simply for reasons of demographics and seasonality. The closed states seem not to have achieved anything in terms of mitigation.
On the other hand, the lockdowns destroyed industries, schools, churches, liberties and lives, demoralizing the population and robbing people of essential rights. All in the name of safety from a virus that did its work in any case.
As for Texas, the results so far are in.
I’m making no predictions about the future path of the virus in Texas. Indeed for a full year, AIER has been careful about not trying to outguess this virus, which has its own ways, some predictable and some mysterious. The experience has or should have, humbled everyone. Political arrangements seem to have no power to control it, much less finally suppress it. The belief that it was possible to control people in order to control a virus produced a calamity unprecedented in modern times.
What’s striking about all the above predictions of infections and deaths is not just that they were all wrong. It’s the arrogance and confidence behind each of them. After a full year and directly observing the inability of “nonpharmaceutical interventions” to manage the pathogen, the experts are still wedded to their beloved lockdowns, unable or unwilling to look at the data and learn anything from them.
The concept of lockdowns stemmed from a faulty premise: that you can separate humans, like rats in cages, and therefore control and even eradicate the virus. After a year, we unequivocally know this not to be true, something that the best and wisest epidemiologists knew all along. Essential workers still must work; they must go home to their families, many in crowded living conditions. Lockdowns do not eliminate the virus, they merely shift the burden onto the working class.
Now we can see the failure in black, white, and full color, daily appearing on our screens courtesy of the CDC. Has that shaken the pro-lockdown pundit class? Not that much. What an amazing testament to the stubbornness of elite opinion and its bias against basic freedoms. They might all echo the words of Groucho Marx: “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”
A decade has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the name Fukushima is etched into history. But few people know the truth of what happened. The phrase, “the lessons learned from Fukushima,” is well-known. But how do people implement them, if they don’t know what happened, or what lessons they should actually learn?
It was after lunch on 11 March 2011 that a giant earthquake occurred 72 kilometers (45 miles) off the Oshika Peninsula in Japan. It registered 9.0 on the Richter Scale, making it the largest ‘quake ever recorded in Japan. The undersea ground movement, over 30 km (18 miles) beneath the ocean’s surface, lifted up a huge volume of water, like an immense moving hill. Meanwhile, the ground shockwave traveled toward the land at high speed. It struck Japan and shook the ground for six terrifying minutes.
The shock wave traveled under 11 nuclear reactors, including two separate Fukushima complexes: Fukushima-Diani and Fukushima-Daiichi. (Diani means ‘Complex 1’ and Daiichi ‘Complex 2’.) All 11 reactors shut down, as they were designed to do, and no doubt all the reactor operators breathed a great sigh of relief. It was premature.
The mound of seawater was still traveling. As the water “hill” entered shallow water, nearer the land, it was lifted up into a towering wave as high as 40 meters (130 feet!) in places. Then, some 50 minutes after the earthquake, the tsunami struck the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station. Some kilometers away, when the water struck the Fukushima-Diani nuclear power station, it was “only” 9 m (30 ft) high, which was not as devastating as at Daiichi. Diani did not make it into the news.
The water jumped the protective sea walls at Fukushima-Daiichi. The sighs of relief from a half-hour before turned into concern and dread. Over at the Fukushima Diani power station, 12 km (7 mi) to the south, water also caused damage to machinery, but the reactors were not harmed. There was no risk of radiation release, so the Diani power station was of no interest to the international media. Diani was safely shut down to “cold shutdown” after two days.
As a result, over the past decade, any reference to “Fukushima” has meant only the Daiichi power station and not the other one.
The devastating tsunami swept up to 10 km (6 mi) inland in places, washing away buildings, roads, and telecommunication and power lines. Over 15,000 people were killed, mainly by drowning.
Although all the nuclear reactors had shut down to a state known as “hot shutdown,” the reactors were still very hot and needed residual cooling for many hours after the urgent fast shutdown. People instinctively know not to put their hands on the engine block of a car right after it has been switched off. Nuclear reactors are the same and need to cool down until they reach the safe state known as “cold shutdown.”
A nuclear reactor has pumps that send water through the reactor until it cools. But the Fukushima electrical pumps failed because the tsunami had washed away the incoming electrical lines. So the reactor system automatically switched to diesel-driven generators to keep the cooling pumps going; but the water had washed away the diesel fuel supply, meaning the diesels worked for only a short while. Then it switched to emergency batteries, but the batteries were never designed to last for days, and could supply emergency power for only about eight hours.
The hot fuel could not be cooled, and over the next three or four days the fuel in three reactors melted, much like a candle melts.
The world media watched, and broadcast the blow-by-blow action. Japanese authorities started to panic under the international spotlight. The un-circulating cooling water was boiling off inside the reactors resulting in a chemical reaction between hot fuel exposed to hot steam. This led to the production of hydrogen gas. As the steam pressure rose, the engineers decided to open valves to release the pressure. That worked as planned, but it released the hydrogen as well.
Hydrogen, being light, rose up to the roof, where the ventilation system was not working, because there was no electricity. After a while some stray spark ignited the hydrogen which exploded, blowing the lightweight roof off the building right in front of the world’s TV cameras. The Fukushima news just became much more dramatic. Authorities were desperate to show the world some positive action.
They progressively ordered the evacuation of 160,000 people living around the Fukushima neighborhood. That was a mistake. As days and weeks passed, it materialized that not one single person was killed by nuclear radiation. Not one single person was even injured by nuclear radiation, either. Even today, a decade later, there is still no sign of any longer-term radiation harm to any person or animal. Sadly, however, people did die during the forced evacuation.
So one of the lessons learned from Fukushima is that a huge amount of nuclear power can be struck by the largest earthquake and tsunami ever recorded, and nobody gets harmed by nuclear radiation.
Another lesson learned is that an evacuation order issued too hastily did harm and kill people.
World Nuclear Association Director-General Dr. Sama Bilbao y León said: “The rapidly implemented and protracted evacuation has resulted in well-documented significant negative social and health impacts. In total, the evacuation is thought to have been responsible for more than 2,000 premature deaths among the 160,000 who were evacuated. The rapid evacuation of the frail elderly, as well at those requiring hospital care, had a near-immediate toll.” [emphasis added]
She added: “When facing future scenarios concerning public health and safety, whatever the event, it is important that authorities take an all-hazards approach. There are risks involved in all human activities, not just nuclear power generation. Actions taken to mitigate a situation should not result in worse impacts than the original events. This is particularly important when managing the response to incidents at nuclear facilities – where fear of radiation may lead to an overly conservative assessment and a lack of perspective for relative risks.”
Thus, a decade later, we can contemplate the cumulative lessons learned. Above all, they are that nuclear power is far safer than anyone had thought. Even when dreaded core meltdowns occurred, and although reactors were wrecked, resulting in a financial disaster for the owners, no people were harmed by radiation.
We also learned that, for local residents, it would have been far safer to stay indoors in a house than to join the forced evacuation. We also learned that governments and authorities must listen to the nuclear professionals, and not overreact, even though the television news cameras look awfully close.
Fukushima certainly produced some valuable lessons. Governments, news media, and the public need to learn the correct lessons from them.
I was taken aback by the positive reaction by many members of the Press who were excited when the Biden Administration announced they were going to resume daily press briefings. Why would they want to listen to a hand-picked flack disgorging half-baked answers about subjects on which they are barely enlightened?
Say what you will about President Trump he was ever accessible to the Press. He took on every question from the WH press corps and only left when he was being rushed off to do other presidential matters. Many in the Press asked him snarky questions because of their defined distaste for him, but at least they were getting answers directly from the elected President. It was hoped that Trump had redefined access to our elected officials and transparency from our government.
It seems like with this President who refuses to engage the Press unless in a highly scripted manner that we really have President Psaki. Except she spends most of her time obfuscating. Here is a hint on life: when a politician comes into the office and talks about how transparent their administration is going to be, bet the house that it will be the exact opposite.
President Psaki is always avoiding answers to questions. She has often used a phrase that should be stricken from the English language; “I will circle back to you on that.” If the question ever gets answered it certainly does not at the next press briefing. A recent innovation she had adopted is telling the members of the WH press corps to go get the answer from a department in the Executive branch. Someone finally asked her something akin to ‘does the WH not get information flowing up from the departments?’ The question regarding the crisis at the border is kicked to Homeland Security and the question never gets answered.
When we do get to see the other person who supposedly is President it is in a limited setting or with one extremely friendly reporter like when he sat with George Stephanopoulos. There the big news was a change in position on the filibuster rules in the Senate. It was stated we should go back to the rules when he came into the Senate when you actually had to stand at the podium and talk for hours on end – the Talking Filibuster.
That was an outright lie. In 1972 the Senate Majority leader, Mike Mansfield (D-MO) changed the rule to have Silent Filibusters. He did it because with the Talking Filibuster the only thing that went on in the Senate was Senators talking on end. The Silent Filibuster allowed for a separate track where nominations could be processed, treaties reviewed, etc. Since this person who supposedly is President did not come into the Senate until a year later, he never experienced the Talking Filibuster. He may have recalled an actually change two years after his arrival – the lowering of the requirement to break a filibuster from 67 members to 60 members.
If we had a functioning press, that would have been broadly pointed out instead of the inaccurate position being repeated over and over again.
Follow this with the recent first press conference from the person we thought we elected President. When asked about the filibuster, he spoke of dismantling it and cited the fact it had recently been used in an excessive fashion. Yes, it was just last year by his own party with participation by his own V-P. You would think his handlers would give him less damaging talking points.
I recently experienced a functioning press via a wonderful movie that has now been nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign film. Because it is widely known now my commentary will be limited so not to destroy the movie for anyone wanting to watch it.
Collective tells the story of a 2015 fire in a Romanian nightclub that caused the death of 64 people. The incident initially gained world attention, but what followed was the real story. A group of journalists lead by a sports publication came to discover rampant corruption in medical care throughout the Romanian hospital system. More people died from infections in the hospitals (37) than died from the fire. That does not include individuals who survived, but with lifelong disabilities.
Catalin Tolontin, who led the investigation, dug in asking question after question demanding answers. The story uncovers rampant corruption, a suicide to avoid guilt, and a fascinating story. The after story obscures the initial story of the fire in the club where there were no emergency exits which is caused by pyrotechnics. The film shows the fire in the club and how amazingly quickly it spreads. It is fascinating to watch. What were they thinking about setting off these pyrotechnics in this location?
Mr. Tolontin states at one point how the press is guilty of accepting at face value answers given by officials and they do not examine the answers. He admits he has been guilty of doing that himself. That is how the Romanians got to this point of dysfunction in their health care system.
We used to have a functioning press that rooted out corruption and questioned statements coming from authorities not just from government, but other institutions. They now seem to only question one side of the political aisle and abandon the investigation of statements from the other side.
That is how we ended up with President Psaki.
Why is it that “Saturday Night Live” can push an anti-Semitic trope as funny? It did – and just recently. The punchline of the “joke” was that Israel was denying non-Jews the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a commentary published by The Hill newspaper, Marie notes that one possible reason why anti-Semitism is not treated with the same contempt as racism and other -isms is because it often does not fit the narrative for discrimination embraced by the left and the mainstream media:
Why do some anti-Semitic offenders get away with a slap on the wrist, while others never live it down and their reputations are tarnished? Anti-Semitism appears to be more acceptable and forgivable when the offender is not white, likely because the “white supremacy” narrative can’t be furthered.
To prove her point about the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism, despite the media’s relative silence about it, she gives a few examples from 2021:
There’s Marc Lamont Hill, an outspoken supporter of Black Lives Matter, who last month said that the organization supports the “dismantling of the Zionist project.” Marvel was embarrassed into removing anti-Semitic images from its latest Hulk comic book. Synagogues in Queens and the Bay Area were vandalized with swastikas. A Massachusetts school board member called a Jewish man the “K-word” on live TV.
Marie notes that where anti-Semitism is mentioned at all, whites are still pinned as the culprits. She writes that “[r]elying on the mainstream media, one would think that white supremacists are the primary culprits responsible for anti-Semitism,” but “[u]nlike media portrayals, perpetrators are very diverse.”
And there is evidence of disparate treatment based on the race of the offender:
[C]onsider the discrepancy in how Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) were treated for controversial social media posts. In 2018, before she was elected, Greene suggested in a Facebook post that a California wildfire could be blamed on space-based Jewish lasers. In 2012, before she was in office, Omar tweeted that Israel had “hypnotized the world” to ignore its alleged “evil doings.” Omar also tweeted, in 2019 while serving in Congress, an inference that American politicians were being bought with Jewish money.
Both Omar and Greene expressed regret for spouting either direct anti-Semitism or dog whistle comments, but the end results differed. While Greene was stripped of all committee assignments, Omar received a leadership post on the powerful House Committee for Foreign Affairs. These women should have been treated the same; they were not.
“We must call out such hatred no matter where or from whom it originates. We must acknowledge that anti-Semitism perpetrated by someone from a minority group is equally as atrocious as racism fostered by a Jew or a white person,” Marie writes. “Equal, colorblind justice is needed.”
To read all of Marie’s commentary – “Privileged Anti-Semitism? White Supremacists Aren’t the Only Culprits” – as published by The Hill, click here.
Like colleagues in the House who sent letters to Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, expressing severe disapproval of the Navy’s decision to include books on critical race theory and other aspects of identity politics on professional reading lists, Cotton, R-Ark., and a former soldier, demonstrated he understands the corrosive effect that such teachings would have on the U.S military.
In 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. expressed his dream that one day people “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It is a powerful message consistently referenced by everyone who seeks true equality in diverse populations.
King, like so many before and since who have championed a unified people within our great American experiment, worked to replace identity by race, ethnic group, economic status, gender, or religion with a shared humanity that prizes mutual recognition and respect, regardless of the various characteristics that tend to segregate people by type.
In many ways, America’s military strives to manifest King’s dream of a world that values people by their character, shared identity, and commitment to a common, noble purpose.
The beauty of military service is that the uniform and common objective supplants grouping by individual identities of color, class, gender, or religion.
I best know the U.S. Marine Corps, because I served in it for 20 years, but all of the services have a similar approach to forming a team—rather than sowing division by focusing on those things that separate individuals from each other.
What united everyone with whom I served was the singular identity of being a U.S. Marine committed to defending our country, a country comprising every sort of person from countless different backgrounds.
It didn’t matter where you came from. All that really mattered among Marines was whether you were competent in your job, committed to the mission, and were someone your fellow Marines could depend on.
Military service truly is the best example of America as the proverbial great melting pot.
This isn’t to say that the military is perfect. Like any other human endeavor, it is composed of people who bring their biases and prejudices with them. But the military knows this; hence, its constant emphasis on small-unit leadership, reinforcement of values, teamwork, and personal accountability.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice, which governs the legal aspects of military discipline, amply addresses unacceptable conduct, including abuse and disrespect of others.
Every service chief, commanding officer, senior enlisted leader, professional military school, and unit training curriculum reemphasizes core values that characterize military service. It is always a work in progress, just as much as is our country and each of us individually.
Critical race theory would, however, move the military in the wrong direction by undoing decades, even centuries, of work to foster a team-centered culture.
By relentlessly harping on and reinforcing specific identities—advocating for some, while disparaging others, and requiring certain levels of representation in jobs, ranks, and occupational fields as defined by those identities—what advocates of identity politics actually do is undermine the very thing they supposedly want to advance; namely, equality across peoples.
Racial and gender-based criteria for promotion or assignment to a position, as examples, cause people to wonder whether the person was selected on merit or merely got the job because he or she had a particular identity.
If the latter, then their credibility and the level of respect they should legitimately enjoy are undermined and damaged. They aren’t seen as having earned the position because of performance, competence, or leadership qualities.
People will still salute and carry out orders—but because they are obliged to, not because the person is perceived as rating such on their own merit. By emphasizing and sustaining stereotypes, advocates of racial and gender identity more deeply root prejudices, accelerating and amplifying them, rather than neutralizing and eliminating them.
Military discipline, expected conduct, and respect between and within ranks undergird a system in which military forces get the job done because those in uniform are reminded from the first day they put on their uniform that a soldier, Marine, sailor, airman, or Space Force guardian is just that—a fellow service member who has gone through the same training, had to meet the same standards, serves the same Constitution and country, and respects the same flag and national identity.
In short, military service already is the great equalizer.
Programs that emphasize differences among service members, that impose a demand for people to feel guilty about their identity and background, that elevate one group over another, or that seek to subordinate a group relative to another generate resentment, or a sense of aggrieved victimization, or entitlement to special handling.
Such initiatives destroy the fabric of military service that otherwise unites an extraordinarily diverse population in common purpose and identity. Identity politics is a cancer that corrodes good order and discipline and the necessary authorities inherent in a chain of command.
When we view people through the lens of race, gender, or religion, we embrace the polar opposite of everything the U.S. military strives for, being a colorblind, race-blind, gender-blind team that takes the contributions of everyone willing to serve their country and folds them into success.
Thinking less about teams and more about individuals is a recipe for failure for any military, yet this is exactly what critical race theory and other forms of identity politics attempt to do.
Cotton and Republican Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana, Doug Lamborn of Colorado, and Vicky Hartzler of Missouri are all on the mark in questioning why the most senior leaders in our military would act to damage the very foundation upon which our military forges an incredible team of like-minded people dedicated to a common cause, regardless of personal backgrounds and characteristics.
Our military leadership must focus on the core purpose of our military—organizing, equipping, and training a force willing and able to defend the nation from external threats—rather than mire itself in the self-defeating claptrap of identity politics.
Under the guise of “inclusivity,” the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) has implemented segregated dorm communities–telling YAF that white students are not considered to fill spots in “for the safety of student participants.”
According to the UNR website, the school houses three minority-only Living Learning Communities in Great Basin Hall––the Latinx, Indigenous, and Black Scholars. With the school’s website giving vague entry requirements at best, YAF reached out to the school for clarification on any requirements. “In the identity-based communities, for the safety of student participants, it is important only students who hold that identity are considered,” the Executive Director of Residential Life, Housing, and Food Services Dean Kennedy told YAF.
Great Basin Hall does house other students outside of the Living Learning Communities.
However sadly, this isn’t the first divisive initiative taken on by UNR.
Last summer, the school used school funds for a large mural painted supporting BLM. The school also hung Black Lives Matter flags around campus. The Director of the School of the Arts Tamara Scronce lauded that she was proud the project was “fully funded by student programming funds and School of the Arts student art fees.” In contrast, a “Coffee With A Cop” event last fall was deemed so offensive it prompted a statement from university president Brian Sandoval, and an apology from the university’s police chief.
This situation reflects the larger issue on college campuses–where rampant racism is given higher priority and administrative support than the initiatives of students with opposing views. At a publicly funded institution, students from all backgrounds and all viewpoints should have equal access to facilities, and equal opportunity to have their voices heard.
In 1943, as collectivist policies were ascendant, an extraordinary thing happened. Three women published three books that year that would jolt Americans from their socialist stupor and remind them of the fundamental American values of individual liberty, limited government, free-market capitalism, and entrepreneurship. This Women’s History Month is an ideal time to reflect on how Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Ayn Rand helped to catalyze the 20th-century libertarian movement.
The “Libertarians of ‘43,” as Paterson biographer Stephen Cox dubbed these women, were outspoken advocates of American individualism and human ingenuity, and vocal critics of socialist ideology and big government policies. Cox explains that “women were more important to the creation of the libertarian movement than they were to the creation of any political movement not strictly focused on women’s rights.” The work of these three women continues to inspire a new generation of libertarian writers today, with their message more urgent than ever.
The daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane is “Baby Rose” who many of us remember from the ninth book in the Little House on the Prairie series, The First Four Years. Born in 1886 in Dakota Territory, her years of growing up on the prairie likely instilled in Lane a sense of rugged individualism and self-reliance that ultimately found their way into her writings throughout the 20th century. Initially sympathetic to the ideas of socialism during World War I, she became one of its fiercest opponents after visiting the Soviet Union and parts of Europe with the American Red Cross and witnessing widespread corruption and the eradication of personal freedom. When she returned to the US, she wrote widely, publishing books and writing articles for outlets such as Good Housekeeping, McCall’s, Ladies’ Home Journal, Harper’s, and the Saturday Evening Post.
By the late 1920s, Lane was reported to be one of the highest-paid women writers in the US. She became a vocal critic of Roosevelt’s New Deal, Social Security, and other government programs she felt disempowered individuals and gave greater authority to the state. In 1939, Leonard Read, who would go on to launch FEE in 1946 as the country’s first libertarian think tank, republished an expanded version of one of Lane’s earlier influential essays, Give Me Liberty, where she describes her evolution from socialist-communist sympathizer to staunch individualist: “Many regard the collectivist State, as I did, as an extension of democracy. In this view, the picture is one of progressive steps to freedom,” she wrote. She went on to describe her experience living in the Soviet Union and seeing the results of collectivist policies first-hand:
“I came out of the Soviet Union no longer a communist, because I believed in personal freedom. Like all Americans, I took for granted the individual liberty to which I had been born. It seemed as necessary and as inevitable as the air I breathed; it seemed the natural element in which human beings lived. The thought that I might lose it had never remotely occurred to me.”
This essay set the tone for her influential 1943 book, The Discovery of Freedom, where she persuasively promotes individual liberty, limited government, and free markets. She explains how American freedom unleashes the full capacity of the human mind to discover and invent, thus leading to unprecedented progress and prosperity for all. Lane writes:
“Human energy works to supply human needs and satisfy human desires, only when, and where, and precisely to the extent that men know they are free. It works effectively only to the extent that Government is weak, so that individuals are least prevented from acting freely, from using their energy of body and mind under their own individual control. All history shows this fact. Every detail of common experience today proves it. The electric light proves it; the car in the garage proves it. How did Edison create the electric light? How did Americans create the millions of American cars? They used free thought, free speech, free action and free-hold property. The unhindered use of natural human rights creates this whole modern world. Nothing else makes it possible for men to create new things, and improve them and keep on improving them.”
Lane’s contemporary and early ally, Isabel Paterson, echoed Lane’s ideas on individualism and freedom. Like Lane, Paterson was a prolific writer and enthusiastic proponent of libertarian ideals. Also born in 1886, in Canada, Paterson’s poor family moved around the American West and Canada when she was a child. Similar to Lane, Paterson had very little formal schooling and was mostly self-educated. She left home as a teenager to find work, taking a series of low-paying jobs, including one as a secretary to the publisher of a Washington newspaper who discovered her writing talent. From there, her career took off.
In 1924, Paterson began writing a prominent literary column for the New York Herald Tribune, a position she held for 25 years where she emphasized libertarian themes. She was opposed to Prohibition, military conscription, government schooling, and crony capitalism. She favored free trade and immigration and was against the New Deal and central planning. Paterson defended free-market capitalism and celebrated entrepreneurship and invention. She became a US citizen in 1928 at age 42.
In 1943, Paterson published her pivotal book, The God of the Machine, which fully articulated her libertarian vision of personal and economic freedom and showed how statist policies can stifle human energy. “Capitalism is the economic system of individualism,” writes Paterson. She goes on to explain that “it was assumed by superficial minds, such as Marx, that capitalism tended to concentration of wealth and a ‘class’ division of interests. But the ‘interest’ of capitalism is distribution. All the inventions of man have individualism as their end, because they spring from the individual function of intelligence, which is the creative and productive source. Freedom being the natural condition of man, inventions making for greater mobility resolve into individual means of transport. So far as co-operative action is useful toward the development of the individual, capitalism is fully able to carry out by voluntary association vast and complex operations of which collectivism is utterly incapable, and which are self-liquidating at the limit of their usefulness, if they are allowed to complete the process. No collectivist society can even permit co-operation; it relies upon compulsion; hence it remains static.”
Rose Wilder Lane, who was friendly with former president Herbert Hoover, wrote to him in praise of Paterson’s book: “I try to restrain my enthusiasm, but it seems to me a book ranking with the best of Paine and Madison,” she said. Ayn Rand, the third of the “Libertarians of ‘43” also celebrated Paterson’s book. Rand wrote: “The God of the Machine is a document that could literally save the world … The God of the Machine does for capitalism what Das Kapital does for the Reds and what the Bible did for Christianity.” Paterson, in turn, eagerly endorsed Rand’s 1943 novel, The Fountainhead, in her literary column.
Born in Russia in 1905, Rand lived through the Russian Revolution of 1917 when she saw her father’s pharmacy business in Petrograd confiscated by the state. The family escaped to the Crimean Peninsula where Rand attended high school. They returned to Petrograd in 1921, living through the Great Famine when they suffered from periodic starvation and millions of Russians perished. Rand was issued a visa to visit the US and arrived in New York City in 1926 at the age of 21, changing her name from Alissa Rosenbaum to Ayn Rand. She became a US citizen in 1931.
In The Fountainhead, Rand’s main character Howard Roark explains the virtues of egoism and individual achievement more clearly: “Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution—or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement.”
Rand became known as a “radical for capitalism,” explaining that capitalism is the only political and economic system that recognizes and respects individual rights. In her 1966 book, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Rand writes: “Capitalism was the only system in history where wealth was not acquired by looting, but by production, not by force, but by trade, the only system that stood for man’s right to his own mind, to his work, to his life, to his happiness, to himself.”
Today’s Libertarian Moment
For Lane, Paterson and Rand, 1943 was a lonely time with only a small group of libertarian thinkers denouncing the collectivist policies and socialist ideology that the elites applauded. Their courage and conviction set the foundation for a renewed commitment to American ideals of individualism and opportunity, restrained government, free enterprise, and entrepreneurship. As the journalist, John Chamberlain once said: “Indeed, it was three women — [Isabel] Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, and Ayn Rand — who, with scornful side glances at the male business community, had decided to rekindle a faith in an older American philosophy.”
Today, there are thankfully more of us who recognize and relay the principles of a free society, and there are more organizations that support these efforts, including FEE which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
At a time when individual rights have been relentlessly eroded due to lockdowns, economic freedom has been crushed for many of the small businesses deemed “non-essential,” and government has swelled while spending reaches unfathomable heights, the words and warnings of these three libertarian pioneers are more important than ever. Today’s libertarians have a crucial role to play in continuing to champion individualism over collectivism.
As Rand reminds us in Atlas Shrugged, we can each create the world we desire: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”