Progressive Fascism

“Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” Benito Mussolini

“State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. (pp. 135-136)

—Benito Mussolini, 1935, “Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions”, Rome: ‘Ardita’ Publishers.

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Nancy Pelosi couldn’t have said it better. 

It is more than a little ironic that as Progressives continue their utterly predictable march into the arms of fascism they continue to cry out about the dangers of — Fascism. The wonder is why. After all, Mussolini himself began his trip as a socialist before deciding he was a Fascist after all. 

It is (or should be) clear to anyone who has studied American history and politics that the classical liberalism of the American founding was thrown overboard by Woodrow Wilson and replaced by a Bismarckian flavored collectivism that, with intermittent and fleeting interruptions, has steadily gained ground at the expense of liberty. There are now few facets of American life that are not under the thumb, either directly or indirectly, of  the Administrative state, so painstakingly created by progressives. 

Consider how progressive politicians have been trampling on the Bill of Rights using the Covid-19 crisis as a pretext.  For example, Lousiville, KY Mayor Greg Fischer unilaterally banned drive-in Easter services even when they conformed to social distancing policies. When NJ Governor Phil Murphy was asked by Tucker Carlson where he got the authority to nullify the Bill of Rights in order to prevent people in New Jersey from going to church, Murphy responded “That’s above my pay grade.” Then he added “I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this… The science says people have to stay away from each other”. 

Virginia’s Governor Northam issued an executive decree making it a crime (Class 1 misdemeanor) to attend a religious service with more than 10 people in attendance, even when keeping social distance. However, in Virginia, state liquor stores remain open as “essential”. Nobody has explained how customers are to maintain social distancing while handing a bottle of whiskey and cash to a sales clerk.  

Add to that clear violations of the right to assemble and petition the government by rules limiting the number of people who are permitted to assemble outside. 

Then there are the many attempts by progressives to shut down gun stores as “non-essential” businesses. Somehow or other though, state lottery sales count as essential. Obviously said governors do not consider the 2nd amendment to be essential. 

But what about businesses that some governor arbitrarily decides is non-essential? Closing down many small businesses dooms them to failure; they will never re-open, and the owner’s equity in the business, perhaps built over a lifetime, is reduced to nothing. 

Fortunately at least some of the more outrageous restrictions that violate the 1st amendment free exercise clause and the 2nd amendment right to bear arms have been batted down by judges. But let’s not forget that progressives have promised to pack the court should they gain the power to do so. People who regard this as an empty threat are just deluding themselves. 

It isn’t really necessary to search around looking for a hidden agenda. It is right out in the open. For example look at the $3 trillion wish list that Speaker Pelosi rammed through the Congress Friday with only 1 Republican vote—that vote belonging to the retiring Peter King of New York. And that would be on top of the $4 trillion that has already been approved. 

Consider some of the items contained in the bill, the so-called Heroes Act.

A pledge of $1 trillion in virtually unrestricted funds to state and local governments. Keep in mind that the major ongoing financial problem faced by (some) state and local governments is funding state pension programs, which has absolutely nothing at all to do with the coronavirus. Needless to say, public sector unions applauded mightily when the bill passed. 

The bill hands out $25 billion in aid to the U.S. Postal Service. 

The bill requires federal banking regulators to regularly report on “the availability of access to financial services for minority-owned and women-owned cannabis-related legitimate businesses.”

The bill extends an additional $600 per week in unemployment relief until January of 2021, thus ensuring that unemployment will last longer than it otherwise would,

It provides $850 million for states to provide child and family care for those deemed “essential workers”. Keep in mind that selling lottery tickets is typically deemed essential. 

It provides an additional $100 billion to low income renters and $50 million to farmers. 

It lifts the SALT Cap for two years.

The passage of this monstrosity does serve a purpose though. It should serve to eliminate the fiction that there are moderates in the Democratic caucus who matter. There were all of 13 “moderates” who voted against the bill, compared to 206 Democratic Members who voted “Aye”. 

Like Obamacare it is going to take a while to see what else is in the bill; unlike Obamacare it is not going to get through the Senate. 

But this bill together with other proposed legislation makes clear what the priorities of the Democrats are and what they will attempt to do if they retain the House and recapture the Senate. They will attempt (once again) to amend the Bill of Rights; enact a regime of economic command-and-control; intimidate the judiciary; eliminate the filibuster and the electoral college. Which is to say, centralize economic and political power in Washington, DC. 

If the Progressives get their way, the State will reign supreme in all matters, big and small. Not to worry they say; they will just be pragmatists and do what works. Kind of like the way Mussolini got the trains to run on time. 

JFB

The Season is Upon Us

When January of 2021 comes rolling around it is virtually inevitable that a supremely ambitious, self-serving, vicious and ignorant partisan hack will take the Presidential oath of office. The only question is whether the hack will be named Donald Trump or Joe Biden. In plenty of respects it makes little difference; in others it could make a big difference. There is just no way to predict it. 

Partisans who, for some mysterious reason, consider both themselves and President Trump to be conservatives, make two arguments for supporting Trump’s re-election. First they argue, Trump has compiled a sterling record of Judicial picks. Second, the alternative to Trump is socialism or some variant of it. While there is a real possibility of this, the jury is still out. 

Donald J Trump

While it is true in this writer’s estimation that Trump has indeed done a fine job in selecting judicial appointments, it is doubtful (and I am being charitable here) that this results from some Trumpian judicial philosophy moored to originalism or textualism. Instead it reflects the work of Mitch McConnell, who does espouse a relatively conservative judicial philosophy, and has done so for many years. It also includes Senator McConnell’s ongoing vigorous defense of the First amendment, an amendment that finds no friend in either the White House or in Progressive circles. 

The issue of judicial picks as an important electoral consideration begins to lose (some) of its salience when the discussion of a second term for Trump comes up. That is not only because Trump plainly has no idea what he talking about with respect to judicial philosophy (or much else for that matter), but also because a second term would introduce us to Trump unplugged. Trump without filters so to speak. In such a case there is no good reason for Christian Evangelicals to assume that Trump would continue to nominate conservative judges. After all during the Republican primary season he did refer to the possibility of appointing his famously liberal sister, then a sitting judge and an abortion rights enthusiast, to the Supreme Court.  

The second argument Trump’s supporters make is that the alternative candidate is intolerable because he is either a socialist, a variant of one, or beholden to the Socialist wing of his party. Which of course brings up the alternative lout: former Vice President Joe Biden, who is busy rummaging around for a running mate whose chief qualification is the possession of two X  chromosomes. 

Former Vice President Biden

The search for a female VP is underway because Mr Biden promised in his last debate with Bernie Sanders (I, Rolling Stone) to name a woman to run with him. No other criteria were deemed important in the selection process, typically characterized as a potential President’s most important choice and one that gives potential voters some insight into the candidates thinking.  Assuming that is, he is capable of it.  

It is going to be difficult for Mr. Biden to find some ideological balance in his selection because he has been pretty much all over the lot in a long and supercilious political career mostly notable for its combination of vacuousness and self-aggrandizement. Consider for a moment Mr Biden’s checkered history on a whole raft of public policy issues.

After all, he did vote for the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s before he got around to advocating for same-sex marriage as Vice President. Although he pretends to have been a dove on the second Iraq war, he voted for it and defended it as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Here he is in 2002 according to The Hill:

“President Bush did not lash out precipitously at Iraq after 9/11. He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss new inspection regimes. He did not ignore Congress,” Biden said in a 2002 floor speech given during the debate over legislation authorizing action against Iraq.

“At each pivotal moment, he has chosen a course of moderation and deliberation, and I believe he will continue to do so. At least, that is my fervent hope,” Biden said. “I wish he would turn down the rhetorical excess in some cases because I think it undercuts the decision he ends up making. But in each case in my view he has made the right rational calm deliberate decision.”

Then there is his ever shifting position on abortion rights. Way back in 1976 he voted for a law (The Hyde Amendment) prohibiting the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. In 1981 he added the “Biden Amendment” to the Foreign Assistance Act prohibiting American aid from being used for abortion related research. It is still on the books. Back in 1982 he proposed a law allowing states to overturn Roe v. Wade. In 1984 he supported what came to be known as the “Mexico City policy” which banned federal funding for overseas organizations that provide or expand abortion services. Then in 1995 and in 1997 he voted for bills to ban partial birth abortions; those bills were ultimately vetoed by President Clinton. 

Now, of course, Biden is in favor of federal funding for abortion on demand. 

And that’s before the history of corruption chronicled by Peter Schweizer in “Profiles in Corruption”.  It seems that Biden was the master of the sweetheart deal when government contracts were to be handed out. And surprisingly enough, brothers Frank and James were apparent beneficiaries of the largesse. As was son Hunter Biden. 

This may be where Elizabeth Warren (D. MA) comes in handy as a V.P. pick. Consider that Biden voted for the repeal of Glass-Steagall which by 2008 had turned into a cardinal sin in left wing circles. And that Biden acted as errand boy for the credit card industry for years.  Elizabeth Warren, self-proclaimed scourge of Wall Street, would provide a perfect cover for Biden’s financial shenanigans. 

Sen Elizabeth Warren

She has already passed the first bootlicking test for the post with predictable cravenness. Warren, who called for the impeachment of Justice Kavanaugh over fantastical sexual assault claims that never had a shred of evidence attached to them, has decided to give Biden a pass in the matter of Tara Reade’s claim against him. A claim whose credibility far surpasses the various claims lodged against Kavanaugh.  

To nobody’s surprise, Warren announced that she found Biden’s denial of the allegations “credible and convincing”. This is the same woman who, during the Senate Kavanaugh hearings said: 

“What the United States Senate is about to do [vote in favor of Kavanaugh] hurts,” she said. “It hurts every survivor of sexual assault who has been ignored… every woman who has been told to sit down and shut up… every person who will be on the losing end of a Kavanaugh swing vote against them and in favor of states that keep American citizens from voting, in favor of corporations that cheat consumers, in favor of gun traffickers that put our children at risk. This hurts, but I want to be clear; I am not sorry I got in this fight.” 

I’d have to say she is a solid front runner in a race to the bottom. But wait,  there is bound to be more: the game has just begun. 

JFB

Will the Real Bernie Sanders Please Stand Up?

Now that Bernie Sanders (I. Rolling Stone) is well on his way to getting the Democratic nomination for President it is worth reflecting on what Senator Sanders really stands for. It sure isn’t freedom and opportunity for all. If you want to see an apologist for authoritarians and dictators, a good place to start would be–Senator Sanders.

Let’s go right to the source, which is to say, Senator Sanders himself. Take a look at the video below.

Keep this video in mind when Sanders and his friends start to pretend that there is anything more than a semantic difference between “democratic socialism” and socialism. They are one and the same.

Not only that, the countries that Sanders points to as models of “democratic socialism”–namely the Scandinavian countries–are anything but. They are more capitalist than the U.S. Not to put too fine a point on it, their policies tend to be far more friendly to free markets than are public policies in the U.S. For instance, they have school choice, and their tax systems are far less progressive than in the U.S. In the Scandinavian countries, the middle class actually pays for government benefits, unlike the U.S. For example, in the U.S., the top quintile of income tax filers pays about 95% of all income taxes. The top half pays about 97% of all income taxes. That’s worth thinking about the next time Sanders goes on one of his rants about the evil rich.

JFB

Pro Choice for Abortion Rights but not for School

Progressives like to brag about being pro choice. They are anything but. For progressives the word “choice” is simply code for abortion on demand. It has nothing to do with expanding consumer choice. And when it comes to school choice they display remarkable disdain–unless it’s for themselves and their families.

The video below, from Reason Magazine, highlights Senator Elizabeth Warren’s animus, hypocrisy and lies with respect to school choice.

Elizabeth Warren and School Choice

JFB

The March for Life

Thousands, probably tens of thousands, came from all over the country to bear witness to the continuing atrocity of the U.S. abortion regime. They were mostly young and mostly female. Their presence and the message they carried spoke truth to the lie that is routinely propagated by the abortion industry. Which is to pretend that abortion is something other than what it really is: the deliberate killing of defenseless human beings. 

Early on the marchers began to assemble on the national mall near the Washington Monument carrying placards identifying where they came from and their message. One sign read “I’m from the Pro-Life Generation”. Another read “It’s a Child, not a Choice”. Other signs had slogans like “Women Deserve better than Abortion” and “Pro-Women, Pro-Health, Pro-Life”, and “I Vote Pro-Life First”. They were slogans, but they were slogans that spoke truth. They are truths that bear repeating over and over because language matters in framing the debate.

Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. A Park Police Officer directs traffic at the annual March for Life in Washington, DC.
Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. Pro LIfe Marchers on the Mall for the annual March for Life.

The abortion industry rarely talks about abortion, at least in public, preferring to rely on euphemisms that mischaracterize what is really going on. They like to refer to “reproductive health” as if aborting an unborn child has anything at all to do with a woman’s health. The truth of the matter is that when it comes to abortion, what is at issue is the meaning of the term “medically indicated”. The term “medically indicated” has been used to refer to situations in which the unborn child has Down’s Syndrome, which is hardly a threat to a mother’s life or health. But there may be cases in which an unborn child is threatened by a medical treatment given to the mother, for instance, some cancer treatments. But the point is to treat the mother, not to kill the child, which could happen as a result of the treatment. And in any case it is an unborn child, not a mere clump of cells as the abortion industry would have it. 

Partly because of the work of Pro-Life groups, rates of abortion in the United States have been falling rapidly. According to the Guttmacher Institute 862,329 abortions were performed in 2017, down 7% from the 926,190 abortions performed in 2014. The abortion rate for women aged 15-44 in 2017 was 13.5%, the lowest rate observed in the United States since abortion was legalized in 1973 by Roe v. Wade. In that year the rate was 16.3%.

Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. Young women gather with placards for the annual March for Life rally in Washington, DC.

But while overall abortion rates have declined, abortion has become increasingly concentrated among poor women. According to the Guttmacher Institute poor women had an abortion rate of 36.6 per 1,000  women of reproductive age, and accounted 49% of patients in 2014. (See this link). It is hard to look at those statistics without thinking of Ruth Bader Ginsburg who in 1980 let the veil slip on this particular subject when she said:

“Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding of abortion.” (See this link to the Ethics and Public Policy Center).

All of which points to the underlying problem, which is that the current culture regards some people as not being fully human and therefore worthy of legal protections. Which is why unborn babies are routinely referred to with clinical terminology. They are fetuses, not people. Unborn children with Down’s Syndrome are terminated, not killed. After all, they are imperfect and inconvenient. As if we all are not imperfect and flawed. 

Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. A woman stands in the street holding a sign protesting abortion at the annual March for life rally in Washington, DC.

The Pro-Life movement has been extraordinarily successful in changing the terms of the debate so as to focus it on the fact that the these are children, as yet to be born, but children nonetheless. In so doing the Pro-Life movement has accepted the long hard work of changing the culture so that over time it will embrace life and dignity each and every individual person as a unique and uniquely valuable human being. Let this work continue. 

Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. People walk past the Department of Commerce Building as they head for the annual March for Life Rally in Washington, DC.

JFB

On Iran

In the aftermath of the strike ordered by President Trump that killed Iranian Quds Force Major General Soleimani there has been a furious reaction by progressives who are always furious about something. But complaints have also been registered by the populist right, most notably by Tucker Carlson. But the objections coming from Carlson and the objections coming from progressives are very different. 

Let’s take Carlson’s argument first before heading to the progressives. Carlson asserts that “Washington has wanted war with Iran for decades”. As evidence for his proposition Carson has produced…nothing. But there is the obvious question. If “Washington” wanted war with Iran for “decades” why is it that President’s Bush and Obama declined the opportunity? In the tin foil hat land where Carlson resides, “they”, wanted war and this was their opportunity, so “they” prevailed upon the least interventionist President in modern history to unilaterally commit an act of war without provocation. This doesn’t even have a veneer of plausibility. As the late Christopher Hitchens once remarked, assertions without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. 

Interestingly enough, the argument coming from the left is, in some ways the polar opposite of Carlson’s. To the surprise of no one, progressives argue there is a “rush” to war—but this is in spite of, rather than because of, the bureaucracy AKA the intelligence community. We are now being informed, courtesy of leaks to the New York Times, that “…while Trump’s top military advisors offered the option to kill Maj. General Qassim Suleimani, they assumed it would be rejected as too extreme.” Trump, however, made his decision “despite disputes in the administration about the intelligence that warned of imminent threats.”

Let’s unpack this. When an action memo is sent to an executive decision maker in government, it typically includes a number of policy options with estimates of possible costs and benefits. And typically the options are phrased in such a way that one option stands out as the most favorable. So as a matter of course one of the options given to President Trump would have been to knock off General Soleimani. But why would anyone believe that Trump, of all people, would shrink from an action because it was “too extreme”. Nuance is not the first word that comes to mind when it comes to Trump. 

The next argument now being test marketed is that, among the intelligence community, there is mounting skepticism of evidence that a threat was imminent. This one has been dusted off from the George W. Bush years and sent onto the field of play once again. And from the standpoint of the bureaucracy it has a major advantage. It provides bureaucratic cover no matter which way things turn out. 

Leaving aside (for now) the question of where decision making authority resides, let’s examine the quality of some the intelligence community’s analysis. To start off with, there is what is politely called a credibility problem. To put it more bluntly, it is indisputably the case that James Clapper (NSA), John Brennan (CIA), James Comey (FBI) and Andrew McCabe (FBI) are liars. It remains to be seen if they managed to fulfill the requirements necessary to sustain a perjury indictment and prosecution. 

But let’s not dwell on individuals; instead let’s recount the long history of spectacularly bad calls. It is hard to forget that George Tenent insisted that Iraq had nuclear weapons. It was, he said, “a slam dunk”. Note also that the Inspector General found that Tenet bore “ultimate responsibility” for the intelligence community’s “failure to develop a plan to control Al-Qaeda in the lead-up to 9/11”. And how was he held accountable? President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

If that was an isolated incident, it would be one thing. But it wasn’t. The intelligence community was convinced that Yuri Andropov was a sophisticate with whom the West could deal. After all, he liked scotch. That was before Andropov ordered the assassination of the Pope. Likewise, the CIA was caught flat-footed when the Berlin Wall came crashing down. Just as they were stunned when the Shaw of Iran was deposed by the Ayatollah Khomeini. That was the Shaw whose rise to power was engineered by the same CIA. And let’s not forget the Keystone Cops efforts of the CIA in Cuba—including the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion, numerous attempts to assassinate Castro at the behest of the Kennedy brothers, all while the CIA was working in conjunction with the Mafia. 

So given this well-documented history it is reasonable to wonder why it is that we should accept what the CIA says as if it is coming straight from Mount Olympus. 

But leave all that aside. There is one key fact that dominates (or should dominate) the discussion. Like it or not (and I don’t) Trump is President. He has the authority as Commander-in-Chief to make the call. The proper question is a prudential one: Should he have ordered the killing of General Soleimani?

Unfortunately, a great deal, if not most of the analysis is based on faulty assumptions about the nature of the Iranian regime. The underlying assumption is that traditional tools of diplomacy should be used in dealing with the Iranian government. This in turn rests on the widely shared assumption that the West can wait Iran out until it comes to its senses. That mistake was made by a number of U.S. Presidents including President Reagan who got himself ensnared in Iran Contra and the the arms-for-hostages scandal.  

The argument that Iran can be contained and dealt with by using conventional diplomatic tools is faulty because it rests on the assumption that the Iranian government is conventional and legitimate. It is not. Iran is a revolutionary regime. And it has been since the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution seized power in 1979. 

Revolutionary regimes are different from conventional, even tyrannical and authoritarian governments in that they do not merely seek to rule. They seek to create a new man molded (by them of course) to create perfection here on earth. Resisters will be ruthlessly dealt with and the streets will run red with their blood. It has been true throughout history, especially, but not only, the bloody history of the 20th century. Robespierre, the radical Jacobin and leader of the Insurrectionary Paris Commune, ran the terror during the French Revolution from his perch on the Committee of Public Safety. Historians estimate that he had thousands sent to the guillotine in his quest for the perfect republic. 

In the 20th century we had the Nazis and the extermination camps, Stalin and his forced starvations and show trials with mass executions. Which is not to leave out Castro, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pot Pol, and the Kim family in North Korea. To name a few. 

And then there is Iran which, since 1979, has been run by the Supreme Leader and backed by the Revolutionary Guards. Note the nomenclature. The operating theory of the Iranian Islamic State as propagated by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 revolution is that the State is a Theocracy governed according to the Absolute Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist. (See Wikipedia). That theory of state now forms the basis of the Iranian Constitution. The Islamic Jurist is the Supreme Ruler. Which is to say that the Supreme Leader governs a total state. Just like, Stalin, Hitler, Kim Jong-un (another Supreme Leader). 

The brutality of these regimes, although bad enough, is not the only feature they have in common. Unlike conventional dictators, revolutionary states and their leaders have imperial ambitions. As does Iran. So, pace President Obama, they are not going to be gently talked out of their habit of spreading terror and mayhem around the world. Because Iran is a revolutionary state with imperial ambitions led by revolutionary theocratic fanatics. 

The prudential question is not whether the U.S. should act to protect itself and the Liberal order. The question is how the U.S. should act, especially in the wake of the latest Iranian provocations. The Iranian regime has been at this game since 1979, over 40 years. They have had plenty of time to age out. There are no signs that this is going to happen anytime soon. Moreover with every passing day they come closer to acquiring a deliverable nuclear weapon. The clock is ticking in favor of the regime. 

By ordering the assassination of General Soleimani, President Trump achieved a number of important goals. First, he erased the fiction that there is a difference between the Iranian regime and its terrorist operations. They are one and the same. Second, by changing the rules of the game he served notice on the regime that the era of touch football wars with the U.S. is over. Actions taken by the regime and its terrorist proxies will be dealt with swiftly and severely. The Iranian leadership is now vulnerable, a development that will surely grab their attention. 

There is also an additional qualitative change in the incentive structure. It is that the U.S. merely seeks to contain Iran’s behavior; it does not seek to acquire or occupy territory or engage in nation building, the great mistake of previous efforts in Vietnam and Iraq. The U.S. has served notice that it is in a position to impose tremendous costs on the Iranian leadership and that it will do so if need be. Finally, the U.S. has also delivered a message to Kim Jong-un in North Korea. He is personally vulnerable, a message he has undoubtedly heard loud and clear. 

In the end Trump had little choice, especially with the nuclear clock ticking both in Iran and North Korea. The strategy is not without substantial risk. Even now Iraq is threatening to toss the U.S. out of the country. That would achieve for Iran a long sought objective. But Iranian control over Iraq would just create a bigger economic mess for Iran, and would be a hollow victory in the long term. In the end, directly attacking Iran’s terror master and changing the rules of the game works in favor of the U.S. and the West. The potential benefits exceed the costs, and the action is justified from both a moral and legal perspective. 

JFB

The Moderate Mr. Biden

A lot of Democratic Party primary voters are desperately looking for a “moderate” who can beat Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the contest for the nomination, and then go on to beat Donald Trump in the general election. The current “moderate” in favor seems to be former VP Joe Biden.

Mr. Biden is so moderate that he wants to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in short order (a pipe dream if ever there was one). He complains that the U.S. has been deforested, but neglects to mention that (1) the majority of U.S. deforestation occurred prior to 1910 and (2) that forest resources in the U.S. have remained essentially unchanged in the 20th century. (See Wikipedia on this).

Most fascinating of all, the moderate Mr. Biden wants to toss energy executives who disagree with him in jail. How do we know? He said so. (See the You Tube Video below). He wants to make energy executives “liable” for what they have done. Naturally enough the “what they have done” bit is left undefined.

Joe Biden Town Hall in Peterborough, NH

To be fair, even though he plagiarized his way through law school, it isn’t likely that Biden is so dense that he actually believes that he can just have people summarily carted off to jail without having violated some statute. On the other hand, mouthing this type of nonsense does demonstrate a certain contempt for the audience. In this respect it is worth noting that the audience enthusiastically applauded the riff about putting people in jail. Kind of like Trump’s ‘Lock her up” routine.

With apologies to The Washington Post, Democracy does not die in darkness. It does so with the lights turned on while demagogues speak and audiences cheer.

JFB

Climate Hysteria

The latest hysterical outbursts about climate change make two assertions: (1) that we have only 12 years before climate catastrophe is irreversible and that (2) as a result we are facing mass extinction. John Stossel recently attempted to moderate a debate on the subject–but it turned into a panel discussion because the climate alarmists declined to participate. Here (below) is a brief video on the discussion.

On Climate Change

JFB

Are They or Aren’t They?

Donald Trump insists that the Democrats are embracing socialism. Senior Democrats running for the Party’s presidential nomination call themselves socialists. We would seem to have a rare moment of bipartisan agreement.  But…Chris Edelson, an assistant professor of Government at American University writes in Market Watch that Trump’s references to the Democrats embrace of socialism is a “smear”. 

How So?

The term socialism, says Edelson can have many meanings and interpretations. If so, one is led to wonder how using the term socialist as a descriptor constitutes a smear. In this respect Professor Edelson helpfully notes that Stalin was a communist, not a socialist. (Note that the Professor seems to have forgotten Bernie Sanders’ love affair with the USSR, whose initials stood for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which we are supposed to believe was not socialist.) 

What Professor Edelson is apparently trying to do is to separate “good socialism” from “bad socialism”. It is a hopeless task; there is no such thing as good socialism. Its adoption (or imposition) inevitably leads to one of two outcomes. The first is that the people throw off the shackles in time to revert to a market economy with property rights and the rule of law. The second is more typical and follows the path of Venezuela or Greece. 

There are those who cite Norway, Sweden and Denmark as countries with socialist economies that “work”. They have not been paying attention. Perhaps they should consult the World Population Review of Walnut, CA, which publishes a rank-ordered list of capitalist countries. Hong Kong is at the top of the list. The U.S. is #18. Denmark is #12, Sweden is #15 and Norway is #23, two steps ahead of Germany at #25. 

Freedom House publishes a similar rank-ordered list of economic freedom. Once again, Hong Kong is at the top. Singapore is #2 and New Zealand is #3. The United States is #12, behind Canada which is #8. Denmark is #14, Sweden is #19, Finland is #20, Norway is #26, just behind Germany at #24. Russia clocks in at #98, China at #100 and Greece at #106. Venezuela at #179 falls just behind Cuba at #178, and edges out North Korea which comes in dead last at #180.   

Perhaps sensing the danger of labeling themselves as socialists, Democratic politicians and their cheerleaders are starting to backpedal a bit. But not too much because the energy in the Party’s base is decidedly with lefty radicals who actually mean what they say. So we will have to wait and see if any of them pivot toward sanity after the primaries and before the general election. The smart money isn’t on it, though. 

Socialism, along with its cousins communism and fascism, is the greatest killer the world has ever known. It has an unbroken record of failure and has produced famine, war and human suffering on an unimaginable scale. Liberalism, which encompasses individual freedom, property rights, the rule of law, liberal institutions of governance and subsidiarity, has created conditions in which human beings can flourish. And they have done so, using their talents to create unparalleled prosperity and well-being.  

There is a reason why the path taken by immigrants leads toward, and not away from, Liberal democracies. Maybe socialist apologists ought to think about that for a minute. 

JFB