The Supremes Overturn Roe and Casey

Abraham Lincoln, April 6, 1859: Letter to Henry L. Pierce

“This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.”

Substitute the words “unborn child” for “slave”.

What is simply astonishing about the reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn both Roe and Casey is the routine display of ignorance that pro-abortion partisans have displayed. Essentially the court ruled that the original case was wrongly decided; that Roe represented a violation of the separation of powers, and that regulation of abortion is a political matter that belongs in the hands of the political branches, in this case state legislatures. 

Naturally enough, the idea of returning policy decisions to the voters via state legislatures is now defined as a “threat to democracy”. Those pesky voters do have an annoying habit of ignoring woke ideology and voting the wrong way. So voters simply cannot be trusted with democracy. 

In the midst of the hysteria we are told that the decision to overturn Roe will eliminate the chance for woman to have a safe abortion. That is a flat out lie. It is a lie because there is no such thing as a safe abortion. One party to the transaction inevitably dies. And that party, the child in the womb, is the one who has nothing to say about the matter. Like slaves in the South, unborn children have no say; they are defined as anything but human beings who are entitled to the protection of law.

That is, after all, the point of abortion. We can go on and on about “social justice” and a “reproductive health” and all the other focus group tested euphemisms designed to disguise what the real issue is, but in the end it is about the deliberate taking of innocent human life. And pre-printed placard signs to the contrary, there is nothing in the U.S. constitution that guarantees the right of pregnant women to kill their unborn children. 

That said, it is important to distinguish between the policy question and the legal question. It should be clear to anyone who  actually bothered to read Justice Alito’s opinion on Roe that the legal question is a no-brainer. There is simply no reasonable basis for claiming a constitutional right to abortion. 

The policy question is altogether different. (For the record, this writer thinks that abortion, like racism, is an appalling stain on the U.S. promise of equality under law.) But that question is a matter for politics, which is to say that the issue will be settled in state legislatures, whose members are actually elected. 

That is certainly preferable to subservience to policy directives coming from a nominally apolitical Supreme Court. And let us not forget that the Supreme Court, like all U.S. courts, is supposed to be an anti-majoritarian body.  It is supposed to decide cases based on laws as written, not as the Justices wish them to be or how the latest poll in Real Clear Politics reads. Actually writing and passing laws and policy directives is the prerogative of the legislature. (The issue of executive orders that infringe on legislative powers is a subject for another day).

In any event, as the days and weeks go by the policy issues around abortion regulation will be decided in state legislatures in accordance with local prerogatives. In an imperfect world, that is how it should be. It is called federalism. 

JFB

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The Coming November Slaughter

We are only 5 months away from the 2022 midterm elections and all indications are that the Democrats are about to be wiped out. Not just beaten; wiped out. The Party that controls the White House almost always loses seats in the first midterm, so with a razor thin majority the Democrats would normally be expected to lose their House majority anyway. But Democrats are working hard to turn a normal seasonal event into a Republican landslide.

Progressives, the drivers of the Democratic Party, are convinced that they will be punished at the polls if they don’t “get something done” by which they mean enact the Progressive wish list of policy proposals designed to make citizens ever more dependent on government incompetence. What is just fascinating about all this is that it is perfectly obvious to the community of the sane that the body politic just wants the Democrats to stop doing what they are doing. 

Consequently, all the Republicans have to do is stand around and pick up the pieces. It is probable—a near certainty—that control of the House will then revert back to the Republican Party. It is also likely that Kevin McCarthy will ascend to become Speaker of the House. (It is nice to daydream about Liz Cheney winning her seat, challenging McCarthy for the Speakership and winning, But that is not going to happen.) 

After the dust settles it is more likely than not that Mitch McConnell, one of a dwindling number of grown-ups in Washington, will once again become Majority Leader of the Senate.  But Republicans should wait before they start popping the champagne corks. Republicans are not going to get elected because they have an agenda they are running on. They didn’t even bother to have a party platform in 2020.   They are going to get elected because voters are going to throw the current crop of bums out. Republicans simply have to say “I am not a Democrat” and leave it at that. At least for now.

And why would that be? Well, the inflation rate has soared as has the crime rate. But President Biden is considering forgiving some student debt thereby stuffing more demand into a supply-constrained economy. Progressive prosecutors in deep blue cities are hesitant to actually prosecute crimes. So they have created an incentive for more of the same. 

In the meantime, supply chain problems continue and they are not going to go away any time soon. That is because, among other reasons, progressives are inclined to use government power to “solve” the problem they created in the first place rather than allowing flexible prices to work their magic. Even as we speak various “price gouging” bills are being introduced into the Congress by progressives. 

And then there is foreign policy. President Biden is being credited for his “deft” handing of the Russo-Ukraine war, by George Will among others. Actually though, a better word for describing Mr. Biden’s handling of the situation is inchoate. Three months into the war and the U.S. commitment continues to grow by leaps and bounds, without a hint of what the end game is or what our goals are. 

What happens, as seems probable, if Russia manages to capture most or all of the Donbas region of Ukraine? Does the Biden administration, which has put U.S. prestige on the line, have a plan to dislodge the Russian forces while still avoiding a nuclear exchange? What is the Biden Administration’s vision for the region (and the world order) when the war ends?  Russia is now blockading ports so that Ukrainian wheat can’t make it to market. Ultimately, the likely consequence is food riots in less developed nations. Then what?

And for all its bluster, the Biden defense budget barely keeps up with inflation, while the number of Navy warships  actually shrinks. Perhaps the Biden Administration thinks that China won’t notice. Or will forget about Afghanistan.

Thankfully, the voters are about to repudiate the Progressive agenda in a big way, but they are not about to embrace a Republican alternative. That’s because there is no Republican alternative. If Republicans want to make a difference and operate as a governing party they had better grow up, stop the nonsense about the “stolen election” and come up with a governing agenda. 

And while they are at it, tell Mr. Trump “Thanks, but no thanks”. 

JFB

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Some Amazing Coincidences

The U.S. Inflation rate is currently around 8%, a 40 year high. 

Homicides rose 29% in 2020, followed by an additional 7% rise in 2021. 

The U.S. Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million migrants along the U.S. Mexico border in fiscal 2021, the highest number on record and quadruple the prior fiscal year. 

Real (inflation-adjusted) wages have fallen 1.2% since December 2019. 

Real (inflation-adjusted) GDP fell 1.4% in Q1 2022. 

The average price of a gallon of regular grade gasoline at the pump  is $4.328, up 46% from 1 year ago. 

The U.S. money supply at the end of March 2022 was $21.8 trillion, up 10% from 1 year ago. From mid February 2020 when the pandemic first hit until the beginning of April 2022, non-seasonally adjusted M2 (the US money supply) rose a staggering 44%. 

U.S. covid deaths hit 400,000 on January 20, 2021. As of May 9, 2022, U.S.  covid deaths total 1,024,546 according to the worldometer. 

The U.S. exit from Afghanistan was an “extraordinary success” according to President Joe Biden. 

We are in the 3rd month of the war that Russia launched on Ukraine on February 24, 2022. 

Except for the “extraordinary success” of the Afghanistan withdrawal, none of these events are the result of Biden Administration policies. Jen Psaki and President Biden have assured us of that. 

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Cui Bono?

In the wake of the leak of Supreme Court Justice Alito’s draft opinion that would, if finalized, overturn Roe and Casey, the commentariat has gone into overdrive. Conservative writers tend to describe the draft opinion with adjectives like “brilliant” “insightful” and “courageous”. On the other hand, liberal commentators have tended to use adjectives like, “shocking”, “radical” and “frightening”. 

All of which goes to show that the commentators crowded into the peanut gallery are, for the most part, simply cheerleaders who have little new or interesting to say about the substance of the matter. They are simply propagandists. And like propagandists everywhere their work product lacks nuance and context. 

The fact is that if the Alito draft were to become the Court’s holding with either a 6 – 3 or 5 – 4 majority, the matter of abortion regulation would be sent back to the several states. Inevitably the people of New York, California, Illinois and New Jersey would, through their legislatures, enact different policy regimes than would the people of Texas, Utah, Missouri, Florida and Alabama. Despite the wailing of the progressive left, this is hardly an assault on democracy. 

But there is an assault on democratic institutions going on here. It is an assault led by the progressive left which has been in train since the 1960s. In considering this, the first thing to realize is that the progressive left defines democracy as events or processes that further progressive goals. Democracy, so defined, has nothing to do with fairness, due process, the rule of law, equal opportunity or individual choice. It is simply about the acquisition of power by “the right people”. 

Consider the history. The 1960s saw the birth of Students for a Democratic Society (the SDS) which eventually morphed into the “Weather Underground”. Later the Black Panthers and Youth International Party (Yippies) were formed. These organizations (sometimes singly, sometimes in concert) led a wave of violence in the 1960s and 1970s that included bombings across the United States, especially on University campuses that did Defense Department research. 

One of their most successful ventures–with an assist from the Chicago Police– was to provoke rioting that led to the complete breakdown of  law and order during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. At the subsequent “Chicago 7” trial, some of the defendants, in particular Rennie Davis (SDS), Tom Hayden (SDS), Abbie Hoffman (Yippies), Jerry Rubin (Yippies) and Bobby Seale (Black Panthers) managed to turn the proceedings into street theatre designed to attack the legitimacy of the proceedings. They largely succeeded. 

Subsequently (mostly) organized left-wing violence continued to plague America. To be sure there was a good deal of violence directed mostly at African-Americans by organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, especially in the South. Much later Islamic militants began to direct violence against the U.S. generally, paying particular attention to Jewish targets. 

Among the leaders of the violence was Bill Ayers. He was a co-founder of the Weather Underground modeled on the Red Guards of Chinese Cultural Revolution fame. The Weather underground launched a bombing campaign during the 1960s and 1970s against public buildings to, they said, protest the Vietnam War. After years of being hunted as a fugitive, charges against Ayers were dropped as a result of illegal actions taken by the FBI.

Ayers, who married Bernadine Dohrn, subsequently retired from his job as a Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.  His wife, Dohrn, was also active in the Weather Underground and spent several years as a fugitive on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. She came out of hiding in the 1980s and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of aggravated battery and bail-jumping. Dohrn, a University of Chicago Law School Graduate, served for over 20 years as a Clinical Associate Professor at Northwestern University School of Law (1991 – 2013). 

Dohrn’s goal was the creation of a classless Communist society. She, along with 10 other SDS members issued a manifesto named after a line in Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues: “You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows”.  According To the Manifesto  “the goal [of revolution] is the destruction of US imperialism and the achievement of a classless world: world communism.”[8]

Perhaps the best way to get a sense of the fanaticism of Dohrn is to reflect on her comments regarding the Sharon Tate murders by the Manson clan. In a speech at a Weather Underground “War Council” she said “First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into the pig Tate’s stomach! Wild!”

Let’s leave this happy couple for a moment to consider the story of Kathy Boudin, recently deceased at age 78. She too was a member of the Weather Underground, and lo and behold, she was friends with—wait for it—Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, who raised her son Chesa while she sat in jail after pleading guilty to a felony murder charge. After her release from prison in 2003, Boudin taught at both Columbia and New York Universities as an adjunct professor. 

If the name Chesa Boudin (Kathy’s son) rings a bell, it should. He is the San Francisco prosecutor, backed by George Soros, who basically refuses to prosecute criminals, leading to the chaos in San Francisco’s criminal justice system. A recall election is scheduled to take place this June 7. 

Variations on the theme of political violence and intimidation have been on display since time began—and not just by one umbrella group. As already noted the KKK has been practicing its intimidation tactics for quite some time, although thankfully its influence seems to have faded. But there are other splinter groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and various neo-Nazi groups ready to do damage as well as other radical left wing and jihadist groups. 

But something has changed. Unlike before, instead of putting out the fire, major political figures are now willing to pour gas on it. There is the obvious case of the January 6 riots in the Capitol. No sane observer doubts that Donald J Trump, while President of the United States, instigated that disaster and fanned the flames.

And we have the example of the rioting that took place across the country in 2020 under the auspices of Black Lives Matter (a Marxist group). These riots were routinely described as “mostly peaceful” by the establishment press when people were being murdered and entire neighborhoods were burned to the ground. And left wing politicians encouraged some (maskless) marches which were inevitably and predictably hijacked by Antifa and the like.  

Let’s not forget then-minority, now-majority leader Chuck Schumer speaking to a crowd at the Supreme Court in which he declared: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price.” The message could not be more clear: Intimidation and the threat of violence by proxy is an acceptable political tool. 

So it should be no surprise that Justice Alito’s draft opinion was leaked. Or that six of the conservative justices were doxed. Or that marches have taken place outside their private homes, and that more are planned. And it should not be a surprise that masses at Catholic Churches are being disrupted. 

It should not be a surprise for the simple reason that the point of the exercise is the same as it was back in 1969 during the Chicago 7 trial: it is to delegitimize America’s governing and civic institutions so as to make way for the new utopia.  Politicians who wink at this are playing with fire. They ought to think twice. 

JFB

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Ukraine, Russia and the U.S. — Now What?

It’s right there on the front page of the New York Times: “After Ukraine Visit, Pelosi Pledges U.S. Support ‘Until Victory is Won’”.  Speaker Pelosi, of we-have-to-pass-this-bill -to-find-out-what’s-in-it fame, has yet to define what victory would look like other than to say, according to the Times, that “the United States would stand with its ally until Russia [is] defeated.”

It is difficult for any serious student of geopolitics to believe that this stunt is anything other than a desperate maneuver by Democrats to avoid a richly deserved shellacking come this November.  Consider for instance that the delegation Ms. Pelosi led to Ukraine consisted entirely of Democrats. Not a single Republican.  Why would that be? 

So here we are.  Ms. Pelosi has effectively declared  war on Russia which, by the way, she lacks the authority to do. Congress, not the Speaker, has the power to declare war under Article 1, Section 8. The President, however, is the Commander in Chief as specified under Article II, Section 2. It is the President acting in his capacity as Commander in Chief who has the authority to wage war. 

Of course a lack of legal authority has never been a serious impediment to Ms. Pelosi’s behavior.  As if to make the point, Ms. Pelosi refers to Ukraine as an “ally” of the United States, notwithstanding the fact that Ukraine is nothing of the kind. Yes, the U.S. and Ukraine have overlapping interests in resisting Russian aggression. But that does not make Ukraine an ally. The U.S. does have formal alliances with NATO members like the UK, Poland and Germany, a point that the Biden administration has been at pains to point out. But apparently the distinction between overlapping interests and an alliance is lost on Ms. Pelosi. 

Let’s turn to the substance of Ms. Pelosi’s remarks, about which the White House has thus far remained silent. (Perhaps there is a glitch in the White House teleprompter.) Some questions: what exactly is victory supposed to mean, and what are the implications for U.S. foreign policy? 

A retreat of Russian forces from Ukraine (and Crimea for that matter) would count as a victory of sorts. Then what? Is the plan to go back to status quo ante? Does anybody seriously think that is a possibility? Does Vladimir Putin—a war criminal according to President Biden—remain in power in Russia? Does Russia  (headed by said war criminal) remain a go-between for the United States and Iran as the Biden administration attempts to re-negotiate the Iran nuclear deal?  

What happens with U.S. energy policy? Does the U.S.  continue on with its Green New Deal fantasy while Russia rebuilds its fossil fuel capacity? Does Germany permanently break its ties with Russia, and its dependence on Russian energy? How about India, a consumer of Russian energy, which has yet to come out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? And then there is the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia refuses Biden’s phone calls, but talks with Russia. 

Let’s think about defense policy for a moment. What should the U.S. defense posture be? Any serious change would require a far more muscular defense policy. And yet shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine the Biden Administration proposed a defense budget that, in real inflation-adjusted terms, would have reduced U.S. defense expenditures while significantly expanding domestic spending. Does anybody seriously believe that Biden, Pelosi and Schumer are going to increase defense spending (including weapons acquisition) while reducing progressive domestic priorities? 

And that ignores China’s increasing aggressiveness in the South China Sea. And North Korea’s rediscovered penchant for test firing ballistic missiles. Ditto for Iran’s recent test launches of missiles capable of carrying warheads. With Pakistan increasingly hostile to U.S. interests and India playing footsie with Russia, absent a serious change in U.S. policy we could easily be facing a situation in which Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and India are adverse to U.S. interests.

The ultimate question—the obvious one that the political class is studiously avoiding—is whether the United States is ready to resume its post WW2 role as the guarantor of the security and stability of the West. Such a role would necessarily extend protection beyond the borders of Europe. It would require an expansion of the current network of alliances in Asia going beyond the existing ones with South Korea and Japan. It would also require the U.S. to adjust its relationship with China in order to wean China away from its increasingly adversarial foreign policy and  its domestic authoritarianism. Easier said than done. 

And what of Russia? The Biden Administration claims it wants to see Russia “weakened”.  That implies that Russia will always be an adversary. And to the extent that the U.S. actually has a policy vis-a-vis Russia, it is clear that the Biden Administration is simply hoping that someone, somewhere, somehow overthrows Putin and shuts down the war leaving a weakened Russia in its wake. 

Hope is not a strategy. Besides which there is no reason to think that a palace coup would create a Russia that is any friendlier to the West. The goal of the United States should not be to weaken Russia, it should be to wean Russia away from authoritarianism so that it can become a partner with the West. It is the only realistic long term strategy for preserving freedom.

Preserving freedom and peace is going to require a restoration of neoliberalism with its commitment to the rule of law and free trade, albeit with new rules. The United States is the only power  capable of globally enforcing a liberal rules-based order. It is a question of political will.

The United States faces a choice. It can resume its leadership of a neoliberal rules based order that will lead to greater freedom and prosperity. Alternatively it can continue its headlong rush over the progressive cliff to certain ruin. We should be under no illusions about this. The future, as always, will be determined by the choices we make; it is not pre-determined.

JFB

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Go Elon!

Elon Musk’s kinda, sorta bid to buy all of Twitter for about $43 billion has provoked an utterly predictable meltdown of the  professional Left that manages to be both apoplectic and unintentionally amusing.  Consider, for instance the sober reflections of Robert Reich on the matter. 

Elon Musk

Reich, in the Guardian, argued that Twitter was right to shut down Trump’s account to “save Democracy”. (When Progressives talk about “saving Democracy” they really mean saving Democrats). Musk committed the sin of disagreeing with Twitter’s decision saying that U.S. tech companies shouldn’t be acting “as the de facto arbiter of free speech”.

That, apparently is what sent Reich over the top. He complained that “Musk has long advocated a libertarian vision of an ‘uncontrolled’ internet.” He then went on to assert “That vision is dangerous rubbish.” Which is all you need to know. It’s all about control, and Reich is all for it, provided he and his Progressive pals are the ones in charge. 

Amplifying the inanity he goes on to say “[A lack of accountability] is Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.” Which is the amusing part. 

Amusing because Robert Reich is comparing market accountability unfavorably to bureaucratic accountability. Just ask yourself this question, How long do companies last when they do a poor job of serving their customers? The correct answer is, absent government aid, not very long. Now ask yourself a related question, How long do failing bureaucracies last? The correct answer is: Forever. 

The hysteria over the Musk bid is not limited to Robert Reich. Max Boot similarly hyperventilated on Twitter “I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter. He seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” So there we go again saving Democracy by keeping a lid on what people are allowed to think and say. 

And then there is Jeff Jarvis, Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism and Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York. Speaking of the Musk bid, Jarvis took to Twitter and said “Today on Twitter feels like the last evening in a Berlin nightclub at the twilight of Weimar Germany.”

That of course is taken from Chapter 1 of the standard Progressive playbook.  Anybody who disagrees with the received wisdom is deemed to be a Nazi. Or some other kind of racist, misogynist, white supremacist, etc. etc. The list is endless.

As usual, the Progressives’ reaction is to pretend that free speech on the internet (and elsewhere) is not free speech at all. It is only free speech and worthy of protection if Progressives agree with it. Otherwise it is wrong-think and must be suppressed. 

Unfortunately, the suppression of free speech by bureaucratic means is becoming more common and more aggressive. Progressive members of the California state legislature, for instance, have proposed to take away the licenses of doctors who spread what they call “disinformation”, a not so subtle warning to doctors who are opposed to lock-down-and-mask-mandate protocols. 

And then there is the by now infamous Hunter Biden laptop story. The one that Twitter, Google, Facebook and Apple suppressed, calling it Russian disinformation in the final weeks of the 2020 Presidential race. Except that it turned out to be true. Funny thing though, neither Max Boot, who called the story likely Russian disinformation, nor Robert Reich has been heard from on the subject of accountability on that score.  

In the developing Musk story one thing is almost certain. If Musk proceeds with his attempt to buy Twitter, you can count on the federal bureaucracy throwing roadblocks in his path, beginning with the Federal Trade Commission, and maybe the SEC. 

The threat to freedom in the U.S. does not come from Elon Musk. It comes from Progressive elites whose Command-and-Control ethos is threatened by free speech and free markets. They claim to be bothered by concentrations of power. But that is a lie. They prefer the centralization and concentration of power—in their hands. 

Let’s stipulate that an awful lot of people say an awful lot of stupid things on various Social Media platforms, including Twitter. But stupid is not illegal. Neither is hate speech or the various phobias that Progressives are constantly inventing. They are the price we pay for freedom. 

And while we are stipulating that Social Media platforms can contain a lot of nonsense, let’s not pretend that is what bothers Progressives who, to put it mildly,  manage to post their fair share of nonsense. 

No. What really bothers Progressives is the prospect that their control over the parameters of content could be weakened. Their collective delirium at the prospect of Elon Musk opening up the game thus threatening their status as gatekeepers tells you all you need to know. 

Go Elon!

JFB

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Live Not by Lies

A little more than 48 years ago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century,  released the text of “Live Not by Lies.” The following day he was exiled to the West. He did not receive a particularly warm welcome. Then President Gerald Ford refused to meet with Solzhenitsyn fearing that it would imperil his attempts at detente with the Soviet Union. 

It is important to understand what Solzhenitsyn meant when he said live not by lies. In Soviet Russia, lies and propaganda permeated everything. Tests in school, for instance, routinely promulgated the party line; getting good grades, getting into the right schools and getting ahead necessitated joining the Party and then buying into and cooperating with the lies told by the Party. 

The  Soviet State, which was subordinate to the Party, routinely used violence to enforce its will. But while the use of violence was there on the surface for all to see—if they wished to see—the Party had a much more insidious weapon. 

The Communist Party induced people to cooperate in its lies. In order to get ahead, people would go along to get along. Consequently they would parrot out things that they knew in their hearts were lies. But they were afraid to say so out loud. And so they were corrupted as was their society.

The Party deliberately embarked on this campaign of spiritual demise so they could reconstruct the Utopia of a classless society. But first the Party needed to crush the human spirit and human individuality. They would do this by getting the citizens to deny their own self-worth and individuality. They would pretend to accept the lie that they were merely members of a class with class, not individual and familial, interests. Children were encouraged to spy on their parents. The East German Stasi was particularly adept at this. The notion of the family was thus attacked. The Party was to be supreme. 

There is no greater example of the lie than the fact that every single Communist dictatorship on earth was called a “Democratic People’s Republic.”

And so where are we now? Progressives, the not-so-new authoritarians, demand a total unrelenting conformity with the Party line, no matter what it is, no matter how obviously foolish. Dissent is not permitted. The punishment for heterodoxy is cancellation. 

Consider the Orwellian mind set of Progressives. We are supposed to pretend to believe that University of Pennsylvania collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas is a woman. This despite a teammate’s observation in the Daily Mail that “’It’s definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women.” Anybody who points out the obvious—namely that Lia Thomas is a man—is labeled a “transphobe.”

Progressives now use the term “birthing person” and refer to “chest feeding” to avoid using the terms “mother”, “women and breast.” God forbid (another verboten term) that we imply that only women get pregnant and deliver children. 

And remember abortion doesn’t result in the killing of a human being. It’s simply a form of health care. 

Of course there is the discrimination problem. Progressives are quite OK maintaining simultaneously that (1) discrimination against women is forbidden and that (2) there is no such thing as a woman. And by the way, aborting unborn girls is OK because as we all know, there is no such thing as a girl. Or a boy. They just haven’t decided yet. And anyway, biological sex doesn’t count; gender, a self-determined social construction is what counts. 

About the discrimination bit. How exactly is that defined? Well here is what it is not. It is not a case that Joe refused a good or service to Sam because Sam is in a “protected” category. It is treated as a statistically disparate outcome between group A and group B. The underlying fiction is that all talents, skills, tastes and attributes are equally distributed among all groups. Therefor any variation in outcomes is a result of “discrimination.” Which of course the State will “correct” by its use of coercive power. 

Which brings us around to “systemic” and “structural” racism, misogny, and white supremacy. We are routinely told that the U.S. is uniquely racist through and through; that its institutions were developed to maintain a white power structure and that women are treated as second class citizens—by design. 

Needless to say anyone who refuses to buy into this is a white supremacist, defender of the patriarchy etc etc.  

What is awfully difficult to explain though, is why so many non-white, non-European immigrants are willing to cross such high hurdles to enter the U.S. And why so many immigrants show up in the U.S. penniless and wind up in the upper income brackets. And why, for instance, Americans of Indian descent earn far greater than the mean income in the U.S. And on another subject, why the majority of college students are now women. 

There is a reason for all this. It is that the Progressive establishment depends on lies in pursuit of its objective to recreate American society in its own Utopian image. It will never succeed because it is at war with human nature (See Lia Thomas above). 

With that in mind I pose two questions. (1) How much damage will Progressives do on their well trod path to failure? And (2) why do so many otherwise sensible people insist on pretending to believe what is clearly nonsense? It’s a puzzlement. 

Joe Benning

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The Intelligence Community & the Russo-Ukrainian War

The conventional wisdom these days is that Vladimir Putin made a catastrophic miscalculation when he decided to invade Ukraine. There are plenty of reasons to buy this. Not only has Putin called the dissolution of the Soviet Empire the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century; he has made no secret of the fact that he would like to re-create Russia as a world power, and wield influence, of not control, over the remnants of the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe—what Russia refers to as the “near abroad.”

In addition, the story goes, Putin expected his military to make short work of the Ukrainian defense forces. But instead of folding quickly, Ukraine has put up a ferocious defense. Five weeks in, Russian forces in Western Ukraine are stalled, Russia has by all accounts suffered horrendous casualties on the battlefield, and its military has displayed a stunning incompetence and brutality.  

Furthermore, NATO, which Putin wanted to divide, put on an unexpected show of unity, confounding his plans. But…what if Putin did not miscalculate (see Bret Stephens on this). And what if the geopolitical assumptions of the West are based on a misreading of history? Where does that leave us?

Suppose Putin never really intended to conquer all of Ukraine, just Eastern Ukraine with all its energy resources. That would secure Russia’s energy dominance. How unified would NATO be while Germany remains dependent on Russia for energy for years, if not decades? How eager would western companies be to invest in energy exploration and production when western policy is dominated by fantasies of Green Energy and the industry is being starved for capital by regulators? 

Similarly, with respect to the assumptions undergirding policy, Ross Douthat suggests that the neoliberal consensus around globalization may be wide of the mark. It is possible, he says, that rather than a convergence to Western liberalism as theorized by Francis Fukuyama in his “End of History”, the arc of history is starting to look more like Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”.   If that is the case, instead of heading toward convergence, we are headed for Civilizational groupings in world politics. These would include China, Russia, the West, Iran and India. Seen that way, the strategic implications of the Russo-Ukrainian war likely has very different geo-strategic implications that are, at this point unknowable, but certainly discordant with progressivism. 

These alternative hypotheses bring at least two unsettling considerations to the fore. First, it should be clear by now that the U.S. has no strategy for dealing with a world remade by the  Russo-Ukrainian War. Does anyone believe, for instance, that a return to the status quo ante is viable? If not, then the West should  be building up its defenses and energy security. 

Rebuilding our alliances, defenses and energy security will take years. Yet, the Biden Administration continues to talk up Green Energy and fight the fossil fuel industry. It proposes only a meager increase in defense spending. And at the same time it seeks oil deals with Iran and Venezuela. 

Not only that, President Biden continues to personalize the war, thus making it even more difficult to see an end to it. He has called Putin a “war criminal and a butcher”, and has publicly stated that Putin “cannot remain in power.” After his well practiced clean-up squad walked back the remarks what remained was Biden’s claim that he was referencing “moral outrage” not policy. The charitable thing to do is to consider Biden’s remarks to be those of a bumbling old man with failing mental capacities. But foreign policy does not run on charity, something Vladimir Putin knows all too well, particularly as he considers the altogether unpleasant endings that came to the likes of Saddam Hussein, Maummar Ghadafi and Nicolae Ceausescu. 

Just as important as Mr. Biden’s thought processes, or lack thereof as the case may be, are the sources of his information. In that regard we keep on hearing about our crack intelligence “community”.  That would be the same intelligence community that has a well documented history of spectacularly bad calls, not to mention lying. 

Let’s just do a quick survey of some of those calls. There was the fiasco at the Bay of Pigs when the CIA launched a war against Fidel Castro’s Cuba that collapsed in two days. Then there was the CIA involvement in the Watergate break-in. The CIA was caught flat-footed when the Berlin Wall came down. Similarly they failed to detect and stop the 9/11 plot hatched by Osama-bin Laden. But they were convinced there were large caches of nuclear weapons stored by Iraq. A “slam dunk” as George Tenet put it. 

Let’s not leave out the lying—and not the small stuff—but things like lying under oath to Congressional Committees.  CIA Director John Brennan was caught hacking the computers of U.S. Senate staffers and then lying about it under oath. The former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, also admitted lying (under oath) before a Congressional Committee. When asked if the NSA was collecting data on millions of Americans he replied “No sir…Not wittingly”. That was a lie. He tried to whitewash it by saying it was the “least untruthful” answer he could give. Brennan and Clapper are now talking heads of CNN.

But let’s not stop there. CIA Director David Petraeus lied about giving classified information to his author / girlfriend and eventually pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information. There he is not alone. Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, pleaded guilty to Unauthorized Removal and Retention of Classified documents. These were documents sought by the 9/11 Commission.  It has still not been determined if he destroyed any of the documents, thus denying the Commission the full record of events. 

Wait. There’s more. Back in 1977 Former CIA Director Richard M. Helms was fined $2,000 and given a suspended sentence of 2 years in jail when he pleaded “no contest” to charges that he failed to testify fully and accurately to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He later describes his conviction as “a badge of honor.”

Now that the New York Times has come around to belatedly acknowledging the obvious—that the NY Post story about the Hunter Biden laptop was accurate—it is worth taking a look at the roster of Intelligence community experts who signed a publicly released letter insisting that the story was Russian “disinformation.” The roster includes Jim Clapper (surprise), Mike Hayden (former CIA Director), John Brennan (again surprise), Mike Morell (former acting CIA Director and Hillary Clinton cheerleader) and Leon Panetta (former CIA Director). 

It was probably Aeschylus who first said “The first casualty of war is the truth.” And now regarding the Russo-Ukrainian War we are being subjected to a constant onslaught of “information” in an ongoing and parallel propaganda war designed to shape the thinking of the polities of the combatants and their respective allies.  We have no way of knowing which bits of information are actually true. 

But we do know some crucial things. The first is that the purveyors of this information long ago lost their credibility. That includes both the sources (Intelligence, Military and Political officials) and their cheerleaders in the press. The second thing we know is that there are a lot of people responsible for making foreign policy decisions with proven track records of incompetence. The third thing we know is that the agencies and people responsible for decision making have not been, and probably will not be,  held accountable for those decisions. If the trend holds, they will simply fail upwards. The fourth thing we can infer by observing behavior,  is that foreign policy is being made almost exclusively on the basis of partisan domestic political considerations. 

The lesson here is that the U.S. desperately needs thinkers who can rise above the conventional wisdom. Not only that, they need to be able to frame the issues clearly in a way that the public will understand. And the way they formulate and annunciate policy will depend on how they answer the most important question in politics, which is: Then what?

Joe Bennning

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The Continuing Assault on Freedom

Remember not so long ago when there was a constant (and often justified) outcry against the Trump Administration’s use of government power to quell dissent? Well, the use of government power to quell dissent has not ended. In fact it has probably intensified. But somehow or other the objections seem to have faded away, which suggests that the objections weren’t about the use of government power to stifle rights. On the contrary the objections were about who was using the power, not the power itself.

For example, consider the video below by John Stossel.

Stifling Dissent

JFB

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The Destruction and Destructiveness of Progressivism

As a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, certain hard truths* have emerged even as America busied itself with discovering the proper use of pronouns. Chief among them is that modern liberalism, let’s call it the American variant, is a smoking ruin. 

*Trigger warning. The use of the term “Truth” is deliberate, meant to imply that there is actually such a thing. Those who find the term offensive—second trigger warning on the way—can go jump in a lake. 

Anyway, back to the substance. 

American liberalism isn’t merely responsible for the catastrophe that is the Russia-Ukraine war. The underlying philosophy of American liberalism has produced a whole catalogue of mini-catastrophes that in the aggregate serve to repudiate the oft-stated claim that liberalism represents pragmatic governance based on “what works”. 

To begin with, let us consider how well it has worked in foreign policy. President Biden, who, we should recall, was President Obama’s point man on Ukraine, decided to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine by broadcasting what our vaunted intelligence services knew, or claimed to know, about Russia’s plans.  Did President Biden achieve his stated objective? No. He failed. 

Where then, it is fair to ask, is the famed “international community” we keep hearing about? Nowhere to be found. Except perhaps for an emergency meeting of the  United Nations Security Council, called after the invasion had already begun. The chair of the Security Council was—wait for it—Russia. Enough said.

And just how is NATO looking today? Germany still refuses to turn its nuclear power plants back on. With its aggressive green agenda, Germany has made itself vulnerable to an energy squeeze by Russia. Mr Biden has done his bit by shutting down the Keystone Pipeline. He has also nominated Fed governors who have advocated using stress tests and other regulatory measures to deny financing to the fossil fuel industry. 

And then while cheering on Germany’s renunciation of nuclear power, the Biden Administration continues to pursue re-opening the Iran nuclear deal. The result will be to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons while pretending to develop nuclear energy for “peaceful” purposes. Kind of like the riots in the summer of 2020 were mostly peaceful. 

Then there is the ignominy of the U.S. surrender in Afghanistan that was engineered by Joe Biden. A surrender surely noticed by Vladimir Putin. As a result of it, American citizens and green card holders are trapped in that country, now under Taliban rule. In addition millions of Afghans face the possibility of starvation. All because what started out as a defense of the U.S. homeland after the 9/11 attack morphed into a doomed Wilsonian exercise in nation-building under President George W Bush. 

And let’s not leave out the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which among other things was predicated on our famed intelligence services assertion—with “high confidence” a “slam dunk”—that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Weapons that have yet to be found, and never will be. But as is typical of government, the author of the slam dunk quote, George Tenet, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. For what exactly is the question that comes to mind.

The fiasco that is foreign policy is mirrored by the cascade of domestic policy failures that is the hallmark of the Biden Administration.  Remember that Mr. Biden was going to shut down the virus by July 4, of 2021? How did that work out? More people have died of Covid under Mr. Biden than did so under Mr. Trump. That is true when adjusted for comparable time periods, as well as in absolute terms. At least Mr. Trump got effective vaccines developed in record time thanks to Operation Warp Speed, saving countless lives.

And now all of a sudden, and just in time for the State of the Union message, the supposedly independent CDC has discovered—mirabile dictu—new science that allows them to greatly relax mask mandates. Never mind that there were already plenty of studies demonstrating the absurdity of the policy regime. 

But Mr. Biden, along with AG Merrick Garland, of the supposedly independent DOJ made great strides in painting parents of school children as “terrorists” because they objected to the mask mandates and public school propaganda in general. The infamous Garland memo equating parents with terrorism arrived with help from the teachers unions who “suggested” the terms to be used. 

Of course there is the temporary problem of inflation. That’s the inflation that Mr Biden assured us was not going to happen. He also assured us that any uptick would merely be transitory. Well it’s been transitory for about 9 months now and shows no sign of abating. 

But he has a solution to the problem that was caused by excessive spending, borrowing and money creation. Spend and borrow even more money. Create even more demand, and regulate production even more stringently. Bernie Sanders is in favor. So is Elizabeth Warren. And Nancy Pelosi. And Chuck Schumer. And Dick Durbin. And the Squad. That should settle it.

Of course there is the crime surge to deal with. That’s the crime surge that is happening all across the major urban areas of the U.S. that just so happen to be run by—liberal Democrats. Not only that, with the help of prodigious fund raising by progressive groups (when Republicans raise campaign funds it’s called “dark money”) they have elected extremely progressive District Attorneys who refuse to prosecute crimes like burglary and robbery. 

Not surprisingly, there have been severe outbreaks of crime. Companies whose stores have been robbed and ransacked by thugs with impunity—firms like CVS—have announced lots of store closures in urban areas. Just wait for a few months for the wailing to begin about how corporate America is redlining urban areas as if that is the real story.

While all this is going on, traditional public school performance has plummeted, particularly in low income income areas, where performance was already lagging badly. Needless to say, no one this side of sanity actually believes that mandatory mask wearing for 5 year olds makes (or made) the slightest bit of difference in stopping the Corona virus. But closing the schools has had a very large negative impact both on learning and the social development of kids, especially minority kids. And it goes without saying that the school districts most negatively impacted are those located smack dab in the middle of deep blue cities. 

However the school boards of those cities do have certain accomplishments. They have removed the names of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln from schools. They have instructed 5-year olds in the finer points of gender fluidity and they have rewarded teachers unions handsomely. 

So why is this laundry list of policy failures—and that is what they are—the result of American liberalism. Note I said “liberalism” with a small L, to distinguish it from the Classical Liberalism of the Scottish Enlightenment. Underlying the current American variant is the profoundly mistaken belief that human nature is infinitely malleable. That through proper social engineering human beings can be programmed to behave “correctly”. All that needs to happen is for conditions on the ground to be closely managed by central planners. Hence the Administrative State. 

That is why we have mask mandates; why schools are being turned into propaganda factories; why language is deliberately being used to obfuscate rather than elucidate (see pronouns); why obvious sex differences are being redefined as gender “choice”; why dissenting opinion is stomped out through cancellation. 

In short contemporary liberalism is at war with human nature. Consequently, it is also at war with the foundational tenets of Western Civilization. It denies the agency and dignity of the individual human person. It deems individuals as mere cogs in a machine; that decision making by individuals is simply an illusion cloaking what really matters: things like race, class and gender. Ultimately they argue, it is power that is at the heart of all human relations. Power without decency or restraint. Like Mr. Putin’s for example. 

That is the power that contemporary liberals crave. What else explains the liberal assault on free speech, on religious practice and the adoption of cancel culture? They know what’s best for you.

In the end the burgeoning authoritarianism of contemporary liberalism will fail because authoritarianism always fails when faced with freedom. All signs point to the new authoritarians losing badly when November rolls around. The question is: Will the Republicans reject Donald J Trump, act like adults, win in November and lay the groundwork for a restoration of liberty in the United States? 

It seems increasingly likely that the Republicans will win handily in November. All to the good. The jury is still out on the rest of it though. 

JFB

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