Hamas Has Declared War on the West

The savage attack Hamas launched on October 7 against Israel, like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was an attack on Western civilization itself.  Perhaps even more shocking than the attack on Israel has been the response of cultural elites. Across the West, arbiters and gatekeepers of the culture, including many at elite institutions—universities, media outlets, activist organizations and NGOs—celebrated the barbarism that Hamas put on display.  This while the Israelis were still sifting through the ruins trying to identify all those who were murdered by Hamas. 

Predictably enough, there is now a call—by the same crowd—for a “pause” in Israel’s military action designed to root out and destroy Hamas. All for humanitarian reasons, of course. But—we have to ask—where is the call for Hamas or Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad or any of Iran’s other proxies to stop launching attacks on perfectly innocent civilians? The silence is deafening.

As for the shortage of supplies in Gaza, Hamas is not experiencing a shortage of food, water, medicine or for that matter—ammunition. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is the handiwork of Hamas, which blocked civilians from leaving by way of safe corridors. Hamas also continues to make a habit of building its launch sites and command and control centers in or underneath schools and hospitals. Hamas seeks to maximize civilian casualties for propaganda purposes.  

But you probably knew all that. The question is the significance of the event. And here it becomes apparent that this is not simply another skirmish in a long-standing territorial dispute. It is a fight for survival for both Israel and the West. Israel is an outpost of Western civilization; it is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The fight will not be won by tanks and guns alone, although they are important elements. The war is a war of ideas and it is a war we must win. 

The war of ideas is one that has been raging for a very long time. Over the last 20 years or so, what were once thought to be relatively harmless academic fads have seeped into the mainstream. And these ideas, e.g. post colonialism, deconstructionism, post modernism are anything but harmless. They may be as incoherent as ever, but they are fervently believed by many and are promulgated by our most prestigious institutions.  They must be resisted and challenged at every step of the way.

Bari Weiss, cofounder of The Free Press, gave the annual Barbara K. Olsen Memorial Lecture at the Federalist Society on this topic. It can be, and should be seen (available on You Tube) by anyone who considers himself to be educated in world affairs. It can be seen below.


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Natan Sharansky, Hamas and the Will to Power

In an interview published by the Wall Street Journal, Natan Sharansky, the famous Soviet refusenik and Israeli politician, made a telling point. Hamas terrorists displayed pride in their depravity by broadcasting their crimes on the internet using GoPro cameras. “…Even the Nazis…” Sharansky says…”tried to hide their killing from the world. Here they [Hamas] tried to show to all the world what they were doing to these Jews.” 

According to Sharansky, Hamas evidently believed that they would “win sympathy and support from one part of the world, and understanding from the other part.” Hamas figured that the Islamic part of the world, including Muslim populations in Europe would provide support. The Western left—the other part—would be sympathetic. 

Unfortunately Sharansky—and Hamas—were correct in their assessments. A key question for the West is this.  Why did the global left lend not just its sympathy, but also its support, to Hamas? And make no mistake: that is what they did. 

To be clear, by the global left, I mean elite Universities and professariats; much of the establishment press; non-governmental organizations (NGOs), cultural and artistic groups, and international organizations like the U.N. 

These organizations are important culture shapers in the modern world. And they should remain free to attempt to remain so, provided they are peaceful and the market for ideas is free and open. Unfortunately freedom of speech, necessary for a free market in ideas, is becoming less tolerated by Western culture shapers.  And while the global left is busy demonstrating its tolerance for violence as we speak, it has also enthusiastically embraced cancel culture, which serves to protect its privileged position via coercion. 

The evidence for the proposition that progressive elites are sympathetic to Hamas is all around us, at least for the clear eyed. Take for instance the numerous demonstrations in support of Hamas in New York City. Then there are the NYU students who have been active ripping down photos of Hamas held hostages. Nellie Bowles of the Free Press in her TGIF column writes of protesters from NYU screaming “We don’t want no two-states, we want all of it”. 

Not to be outdone, the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Council released a letter condemning anyone who described Hamas’s behavior as “terrorism”.  At Wellesley, a student leader of a residential house wrote to the entire dorm she overseas that “We firmly believe that there should be no space, no consideration, and no support for Zionism within the Wellesley College community.” 

Similar tales could be told of pro-Hamas activity at Harvard, Stanford, George Washington University, Cooper Union and other elite schools. Then add consideration of the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America). According to their messaging guidance “liberating colonized land is a real process that requires confrontation by any means necessary…All of it is legitimate and all of it is necessary.”  

Let’s not leave out another of the “new” left’s thinkers, Hasan Piker, formerly of the Young Turks. He actually justified Hamas’s killing of babies during its rampage. According to Piker “[killing babies] is a matter of law and maybe if you agree with this, a matter of morality: Palestinians have the legal ground to violently seize back their own homes from these settlers.” He went on to say that it was quite OK for Hamas to kill babies because, after all, they are “settlers”. According to Piker (I am not making this up) “There are baby settlers as well, there are baby settlers as well. There are babies in the settlements.” 

I could go on, but you get the point. There is widespread approval of Hamas and its behavior across the hard left, and maybe some across the not-so-hard left. Why?

It is easy, too easy, to point the finger at antisemitism. No doubt that plays an important role here. But while antisemitism is an important ingredient, it doesn’t explain similar behavior undertaken by other Hamas supporters.

For instance, there is the genocide China is carrying out against the  Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, where about 1 million people are now forcibly ensconced in re-education camps and subject to forced sterilizations among other things. Also note that while the Uyghurs are overwhelmingly Muslim, they receive no support from Hamas’s paymaster Iran, thus putting the lie to the claim that this is primarily a religious dispute.

North Korea also has a wide network of re-education (read concentration) camps.   

And then there is Russia’s behavior in Ukraine where among other war crimes,  it has reportedly abducted and shipped to Russia as many as 20,000 Ukranian children, presumably to Russify them, minus their parents of course. 

All it takes is a look at the global supporters of Hamas to understand why the global left is enthusiastically lending its support. No doubt ignorance and naiveté play a big part. But look below the surface and what you will see is a will to power that crucially depends on central planning and State control. 

What you will not see is a commitment to freedom, the rule of law and the natural rights of individuals. The will to power combined with contempt for the idea of natural rights that are independent of State power is the key. 

With its support for Hamas’s most recent assault on decency, the global left has ripped away the mask covering its real aim, which is to create a socialist utopia, by force if necessary. Like all prior efforts, it is bound to be a tremendously expensive failure both in terms of human suffering and economic retrogression.  

We should remember the warning that Nobel prize winner Friedrich Hayek gave us back in 1944 when he published his most famous work titled, “The Road to Serfdom.”  Socialism leads to the collapse of Liberalism and results in tyranny.  

The question remaining is how will America respond? Will America change course and reassert its power to defend the values of Western civilization? Or will America shun the burden of leadership, turn to isolationism and cede preeminence to illiberal, hostile and tyrannical regimes? 

The choice is America’s because only America has the means to continue to preserve what Henry Luce, in the post war era, dubbed as “the American Century”.  Will America summon up the will to do so? I certainly hope so. 


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The West and its Enemies

With the Israelis still sifting through the rubble looking for victims of Hamas’s savage attack, the global left has responded by backing the Hamas killers. In so doing they have stepped out from behind the mask to show their true colors. In some cases they have backtracked under withering criticism, but that just represented a tactical retreat. It doesn’t change the underlying dynamic. 

Across the globe, but especially in the United States, the justifications of the violence often take the form of  “putting the violence in context” (which invariably means placing at least some if not all of the blame on Israel). Incredibly enough, a not inconsiderable number of people are actually cheering on the wholesale murder of civilians, including children, by Hamas.  

The proffered justifications include the usual rhetoric, adjusted for the current situation. Hamas, we are told, has justifiably responded to the illegal occupation of the Palestinian homeland; it is all part of the decolonization effort, which seeks to overthrow the remaining vestiges of Western neoliberalism. What we really need is an immediate cease fire (by Israel of course) and a return to peace negotiations to secure a Palestinian state. 

And who, exactly, are the people who are either naive enough or cynical enough to believe, or pretend to believe,  all that? Who, for example, seriously believes that, among other things, murdering 4-year olds is a justifiable element of a so-called decolonization effort? 

Well, let’s see. Historically speaking, King Herod nicely fits the bill. And speaking of mass murderers we have  Josef Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Benito Mussolini, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Pol Pot among others. On a more contemporary note, there is Vladimir Putin; Xi Jinping; Kim Jong Un; Ali Khamenie and Bashar-Al-Assad to name but a few. 

So we might ask what these figures have in common, other than the admiration of quite a few American students at elite universities. Actually there is a very important trait that they share with American radicals.  Without exception, they know (or knew) what’s best for you.  To a man they were collectivist social engineers looking to create the “New Man” of the future. And naturally enough, they all wanted their utopian plans directed by a central administration that they controlled.  

This is the basis of the ideology that elite universities, the main stream press, left wing think tanks and NGOs are selling in their naiveté. One would hope that the savagery of the Hamas attacks, to say nothing of the implicit backing for them by the likes of Iran, Russia, North Korea, Syria and China among others would give them pause for thought. 

But thought has little to do with it. President Biden has already declared that while Hamas must be eliminated, “there must be a path to a Palestinian state.” As if the lack of a Palestinian state is why Hamas decided to slaughter innocents. As if Hezbollah wasn’t at the ready in the north. As if Iran wasn’t the puppet master behind all this. And as if the ultimate target of the fanatics wasn’t the United States, AKA “The Great Satan”. 

There should be no doubt that antisemitism is a driving force in this, but antisemitism is a particular variety of an evil whose collectivist roots are currently in vogue. It is a now ascendant collectivist, totalitarian ideology. These ideologies may vary in their particulars from time to time, and place to place, but in essence they are the same. They all view man through the lens of class, whether class is defined as race, religion, social status, sex, genes or whatever else they dream up next. None of them think of men as individuals with agency; none believe that natural rights adhere to individuals; none care about freedom, property rights or the rule of law. What dominates is the will to power. 

America must confront the reality that we are in a civilizational war. The attack on Israel is but one front in that war. If a Liberal global order is to prevail, America must rapidly build up its defense capabilities; instill fear in its enemies; dismantle the unaccountable bureaucracy of the welfare state bureaucracy and stress individual choice, rights and responsibilities. In other words, get back to basics.

The reason is simple. In a globalized world political economy, merits aside (and they are nil) it is simply impossible to maintain an “America First” Donald Trump style isolationism without being a hostage to events.  The world needs a Liberal hegemon to defend its civilizational values, by force if necessary. And the only candidate capable bearing that burden is America. 

While in the short run it will be necessary to build up our defense capabilities, in the longer run it will be necessary to alter the suicidal culture Western elites have (perhaps unwittingly) adopted. That is a tall order. 

Students at elite universities, for instance, are routinely described as highly educated.  But for the most part they are not even close to being highly educated.  Indoctrinated is more like it. A better description would be people who attend brand name schools that are important shapers of the culture. Which is one reason why it will be so difficult to reform our institutions.  

But reformed they must be if a culture of liberty is to be reawakened. Elite institutions have been captured by collectivist fanatics who wish to silence opposition—in the name of democracy no less.  Not only do these institutions maintain a cultural monopoly, their influence ripples out to other institutions. A challenge to that order is long overdue.  

Fortunately, some challengers are on the way. A new private school, the University of Austin, has been proposed to do just that. On its roster it includes Larry Summers, Glen Loury, Jonathan Haidt, Arther Brooks and a whole host of academic luminaries.  It is also the case that ever since the Covid pandemic, public schools have been losing students to private schools, thereby weakening the educational establishment’s grip on the system. Further, despite fierce opposition from teachers’ unions, 12 states now have full school choice programs; twenty one states have partial school choice programs. 

A return to an emphasis on the importance of the individual; of natural rights and responsibilities and the search for truth would be just what the doctor ordered. 

It will be a long and arduous path; success is by no means guaranteed. But there are glimmers of hope.


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Israel at War

The Hamas attack on Israel, an attack that deliberately targeted Israeli civilians, was fully backed by Iran. In fact. Iran continues to celebrate the attack, with posts on X like the one below. 

“God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region.” #AlAqsaStorm pic.twitter.com/XDyxoTT4gw

It would be reasonable to think that, if nothing else, the sheer savagery of the attack would give a moment’s pause to the progressive left as well as the Trumpkin right. But reasonableness was left in the dust a long tome ago. Already we are seeing the usual moral equivalence and calls for “restraint”. 

Congresswoman Cory Bush, an expert in moral equivalence, posted a statement on X that read in part: 

 ”I am heartbroken by the ongoing violence in Palestine and Israel… following attacks by Hamas militants on Israeli border towns and Israeli military bombardment of Gaza… I urge an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation to prevent further loss of life.”

Which translated into English means that Hamas should be free to attack Israel and its citizens without fear of retribution. And just in case anyone missed the message, she went on to say: 

“As part of achieving a just and lasting peace, we must do our part to stop this violence and trauma by ending U.S. government support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid.”

Then there is Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), who was recently caught on tape pulling a false fire-alarm to slow down Congressional proceedings. He weighed in with this gem of moral equivalence: 

“We need a way to end this deadly violence that is killing and traumatizing generations of Israelis and Palestinians alike—including the blockade of Gaza.”

Maybe it is time to call this what it is. Hamas, for one, is a terrorist organization; in fact terror is its raison d’etre. For example during the attack, Hamas gunmen knocked on Israeli doors and when Israeli citizens answered, assuming it was Israeli police officers, the Hamas terrorists gunned them down. The reason why is obvious; the Hamas gunmen wanted to instill terror in the Israeli civilian population. 

The attack, which apparently caught the Israeli intelligence services by surprise, was no spur of the moment affair; it had to be planned far in advance. Probably for symbolic reasons the planners chose the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war to launch their attack.  The fact that it will almost certainly disrupt and delay an Israeli—Saudi rapprochement was just icing on the cake. 

Soon we will see more calls for “restraint” on the part of the Israelis; for “cool heads” to prevail, for engaging in “dialogue” and for preserving what we laughingly refer to as the “peace process”.  Needless to say, Hamas, Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies will show no interest in any kind of restraint at all. They intend to wipe Israel off the face of the map. 

Iran a totalitarian state, has, through its proxies, launched a war against Israel, a democratic state. They did so for the express purpose of “eradicating the Zionist regime” as the Ayatollah puts it. While there should be little doubt that the mullahs are in a panic over the prospect of an Israeli—Saudi peace agreement, we should not be under any illusion that Iran is interested in peace under any circumstances. They simply want to destroy Israel and they are not going to quit trying. Nor are they shy about it. 

The Israelis are no doubt aware of this, even if a good portion of the West is not. Which begs the question, What is Israel going to do about it? 

The source of the problem has to do with the totalitarian nature of the Iranian state and (of course) its proxies. There is no discussion and no dissent. We are left to assume that the powers that be in Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and their fellow travelers speak for the Palestinian people. But since dissent is dealt with harshly, sometimes by imprisonment or even execution, it is impossible to know.

All of which makes Israeli decisions extraordinarily difficult. They can, for instance, obliterate the infrastructure Hamas maintains in Gaza. But that is not a permanent solution. A permanent solution requires dealing with Iran. Which also suggests that Israel is going to have to think long and hard (again) about the ramifications of a nuclear Iran, facilitated by Western naiveté. That in turn will lead to a decision about whether to decisively attack Iran with the intent of bringing down the mullahs. It should be fairly clear that time is not on the side of the Israelis. 

A final consideration is that maybe, just maybe, this latest episode will knock some sense into the empty (and mostly) Republican heads of Congressmen and Senators who are hesitant about providing more aid to Ukraine. 

It should be obvious that with Iran waging a proxy war in the Mideast, Russia launching a war of aggression in Ukraine, China building up its war machine and making noises about Taiwan, that the America needs to build up its defense capabilities and solidify its alliances. 

The idea that America is stretched too thin to accomplish this is patently absurd. U.S. GDP for  2023 is projected to be a shade under $26 trillion, per capita it’s about $80 thousand. Russia’s GDP (PPP) is estimated at about $5 trillion, per capita (PPP) is about $28 thousand. Iran’s GDP (PPP) is projected to be about $1.7 trillion, per capita (PPP) GDP is about $20 thousand. China’s GDP (PPP) is projected to be a bit below $19 trillion, per capita (PPP) GDP is about $11.5 thousand.

In a nutshell: the aggregate GDP’s of China, Russia and Iran combined are less than that of the U.S. On a per capita basis the combined GDPs of Iran, Russia and China amounts to about $60 thousand—which is 25% below America’s. 

Assuming that the current administration, despite its best efforts,  doesn’t succeed in running the economy into the ground, America has the wherewithal to fully defend itself and still be a beacon for democracy, the rule of law and free markets. It’s simply a matter of choice. Let’s hope that America makes the right one. 


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On Ukraine

In a front page story titled “Weary Soldiers, Unreliable Munitions: Ukraine’s Many Challenges”,  the New York Times reports that the Ukraine war is essentially stalemated. That the war effort is turning into a quagmire should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Neither side has shown itself to have the decisive advantage needed to end the conflict on its preferred terms. 

Despite, or maybe because of, occasional nuclear threats from the Kremlin, the state of affairs now resembles that of the trench warfare that was WWI. Which is to say that we now have a war of attrition on our hands. Why?

There are a number of plausible answers. Botched policy is one. After all, how is it that we are backing a significantly smaller Ukraine against Russia in a war of attrition? Ukraine’s population is only 37 million; Russia is almost 4 times as large at 144 million. Measured by purchasing power parity, Ukraine has a per capita  GDP of $12,500; Russia’s is $14,500.  Ukraine’s land mass is 600 thousand square kilometers; Russia at 17 million is 28 times the size of Ukraine. 

Ukraine, after all, is not officially a part of NATO, although arguendo,  Mr. Biden made it a de facto member. Moreover, Ukraine is famously corrupt. By itself, it does not hold strategic significance for the U.S. But the lion’s share of the aid is coming from the U.S. In fact, at $ 77 billion America has supplied 9 times as much aid as Great Britain, the next largest donor. So the question must be asked: What exactly is the U.S. getting for all the largess? Or more precisely, what does the U.S. intend to get from all this? 

Ideally, to the extent that U.S. is, or ought to be,  backing a combatant, the U.S. should have a clear sense of what its goals are.  And let’s keep in mind that Ukraine is not a member state of NATO so the U.S. has no obligation to defend her territorial integrity. So what exactly is the U.S. trying to accomplish, and why hasn’t it been articulated by the Commander-in-Chief, who after all committed us to a proxy war for “as long as it takes”. 

There are a couple of plausible explanations. The first is that President Biden is making policy on the fly as he goes along without any clear sense of goals or strategy for achieving them. This, unfortunately, seems like the most likely explanation. Recall that Mr Biden has spent a good deal of time explaining what he isn’t going to do (shortly before he ultimately does it) because he is afraid of escalation. Sounds a lot like Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam, one of the many wars we lost since WWII.  

A second possibility is that Mr Biden does have a strategy, but it is so cynical that he is hesitant to say it out loud. This second possibility is that he wants to weaken Russia by fighting a proxy war using Ukrainian troops financed by American dollars.  

However, aside from the dubious morality of this proposition, it presents a philosophical problem for  Mr Biden and his progressive friends. For one thing,  it requires envisioning the U.S. as a global hegemon, whose mission is the protection of a  Liberal world order. A world order backed by U.S. military, financial and political might.  A world order that embraces global free trade, the rule of law and recognizes the sovereign nation-state as the organizing unit of world politics. 

Those conditions are light-years away from what Mr Biden and progressives actually believe (or profess to believe). Take global free trade. Mr Biden, like his predecessor, thinks that trade is a zero-sum game in which the “winner” is a country that sells more stuff abroad than it buys. 

That, of course is just flat out wrong. As early as the first part of the 19th century David Ricardo had developed the theory of comparative advantage that posited that free trade was beneficial to all. Francis Edgeworth, the Anglo-Irish political economist and philosopher provided the mathematical proof in the late 1800s. 

Nevertheless, the untutored, like Messers Biden and Trump and a whole lot of progressives, insist on believing that they can “manage” trade with tariffs and barriers more efficiently than the market. They have no place for a free trade regime. Rather, they prefer industrial policy, which essentially means showering tax dollars on favored constituencies and hoping for the best. 

Similarly, as to the rule of law, it only applies to the laws they like. Mr Biden is routinely slapped down by the courts for his aggressive and unlawful use of executive power, at which point he resorts to  looking for another (unlawful) avenue to take. Like forgiving student loans for instance. And not to make too fine a point of it, Mr Trump has already been indicted twice, with at least a 3rd indictment probably right around the corner. 

(I know, I know that Trump has not been proven guilty, yet, in a court of law. So I’m supposed to say allegedly somewhere. But let’s get serious for just a minute. Trump is about as innocent of obstruction  of justice as OJ Simpson was of murder.) 

Returning to the substance: As a practical matter Mr Biden has resisted the substantial increase in military spending that is needed to counteract China and Russia. Moreover he keeps trying to find ways to throw money at Iran as part of resurrecting the Obama Administration’s nuclear arms deal with the mullahs.  But Mr Biden does not hesitate to toss trillions (yes trillions) of U.S. dollars around toward pet causes that substantially weaken U.S. public finances and thus U.S. political power abroad. 

And when it comes down to it, there is a philosophical problem. Progressives continually complain that the U.S. is systematically a white supremacist, racist and oppressive country. Why would they want the U.S. to be the global hegemon? 

Consider though one fact that puts the lie to the progressive line about systemic racism. The fact is that the vast majority of immigrants to the U.S. are both non-white and eager to become citizens in spite of the alleged white supremacy and racism; a detail that seems to have escaped the attention of the would be immigrants. 

So when all is said and done we are acting under the policy direction of a Commander-in-Chief who risks nuclear war but resolutely refuses to explain why or what the goal is. And terrible destruction continues in the heart of Europe on a daily basis and threatens to stalemate. 

The obvious solution, call it the JFK / Ronald Reagan solution, is for the U.S. to clearly articulate its policy goals and take the necessary steps to implement them. Kennedy said “wherever freedom is threatened we will defend it”. Reagan said “We win. They lose.” 

That sounds about right. 


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The Supremes

For the progressive left, the last week in June was a tough one. Officially approved racism was thrown overboard; religious freedom and free speech were protected, and the separation of powers, inherent in the U.S, Constitutional structure, was reaffirmed. These results stem from three Supreme Court decisions that were announced last week.

Notably in Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admission v. The University of North Carolina, the Court ruled that the use of racial discrimination in college admission decisions violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. In 303 Creative LLC Et Al. v. Elenis Et Al. the Court held that a web designer could not be forced by the state to design a website that violated her religious beliefs. 

Finally, in Biden, President of the United States, Et Al. v. Nebraska Et Al. the Court ruled that President Biden overstepped his authority when he decreed that the HEROES Act authorized him to cancel federal student loans up to $20,000.  Doing so would require explicit authorization by Congressional action, the Court held. 

None of these rulings were particularly surprising; the likely outcomes had been telegraphed for months. Nor should they have been all that controversial. It is, or should be, crystal clear that the U.S. Constitution forbids racial discrimination by the state. And no one disputes the contention that Asians are intentionally held to a much higher standard for admission to elite colleges for the express purpose of reducing the number of Asians at those institutions.

 No matter, a meltdown of the media-academic complex commenced almost immediately. Apparently the progressive left, along with the KKK, has decided that there is “good” racial discrimination and “bad” racial discrimination. The determinative factor, they claim, is purity of motive, namely the desire to achieve diversity. 

That rationale is simply nonsense, even if it were true. The real goal, however, is to achieve conformity, not diversity,  in what really matters, which is to say philosophical outlook. Hence the progressive thought police have taken to requiring academic job applicants to make DEI statements (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) when they apply for tenure track positions. Not to mention shouting down speakers who say things they don’t want to hear. Or the ongoing efforts to silence critics by cancellation. 

Which leads to the 303 Creative LLC Web Design case in which the Court held that the state of Colorado could not use its anti-discrimination laws to require an individual to promote a cause in which she did not believe. That would  amount to forced speech, the Court held, which is a clear violation of the First amendment. The Court also held that such a law would violate the religious freedom that is guaranteed by the First amendment.

Note that in each of these cases state institutions, or institutions financed by the state, used their powers to violate individual rights. In the affirmative action case, Asian Americans were denied equal protection of the laws; in the Web Site design case, the state of Colorado violated the plaintiff’s right to free speech and the right to freely practice her religion. Colorado did so by viewpoint discrimination. 

In both of these cases, the progressive left favored discrimination, either by race or viewpoint, to enforce conformity with the latest academic fads.  

In the case of student debt, the Supreme Court held that the Biden Administration had stepped over the line and violated the separation of powers by attempting to cancel student debt to the tune of some $400 odd billion. This clearly would have constituted spending which could only be authorized by Congress. 

In his attempt to cancel student debt, the President arrogated unto himself the power to spend freely without the assent of Congress. The power of the purse, critical to the working of the system, would have been nullified. All for the purpose of assuaging the desires of important Democratic constituencies, namely students and teachers unions. 

These decisions and the reaction to them are telling. First, these decisions (along with other recent rulings) reel in state power in a way that hasn’t happened in a very long time. All to the good. 

Second, based on polling, the results are generally in line with what large majorities of the population prefer. By overwhelming margins the populace is opposed to the use of racial criteria for college admissions. That holds for Democrats, Republicans and Independents; it also holds across virtually all racial groups. Similarly, a recent (June 14) poll conducted by the PEW Research Center found that about 60% of Americans believe that businesses should not have to provide services if doing so suggested support for beliefs  that they actually oppose. 

Finally, poll results about the student debt cancellation plan are a bit more nuanced. But not a lot. Some polls that oversampled students with outstanding debt found that opinion was about evenly split (in the mid 40 percents) on the merits of the plan. That is to be expected since something like 80% of students with outstanding debt were in favor of cancellation.  On the other hand, the CATO Institute published a poll in September of 2022 that claimed majorities opposed canceling student debt if doing so “…raise[d] their taxes, primarily benefit[ed] the wealthy, increase[d] college prices, or cause[d] more employers to require degrees.”

What is so fascinating about all this is that notwithstanding the predictable and inevitable doomsaying, the Supreme Court just went ahead and ruled on the legal merits.  That is what it is supposed to do. After all the Court is not a majoritarian institution; on the contrary, it is a brake on mob rule. 

That said, the public seems to favor the policies and values implied by the decisions. (The caveats have to do with how the questions are phrased—a not inconsiderable factor among many.) But it seems clear that progressives are on the wrong side of the policy debate, both with respect to the legal merits and how the politics will play out. 

All of which suggests that progressive interest groups have captured the Democratic Party and hold the whip hand—in the party—but not the electorate as a whole. Already the progressive bureaucracies of the universities, the government, and public sector labor unions are gearing up to resist the Court’s rulings. 

When he is not blathering on about democracy and the rule of law, President Biden, one of the more lawless Presidents we have had (let’s not leave out President Trump here) has already signaled that he intends to defy the Court. Why else would he attack the Court’s legitimacy by saying that this is “not a normal Court” while readying alternative (and equally lawless ways) of achieving progressive goals. 

Strap in. It isn’t over. This is not “the beginning of the end”, as Churchill put it. It is “the end of the beginning.”    


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Notes From Indonesia

The incredible buffoonery, not to mention dishonesty, of the Biden White House cries out for a response. In spite of the fact that we are sailing through Indonesia, here goes.

Let me ask this question. Do you believe, or know anyone who actually believes we are, at present, living through a COVID emergency? To ask the question is to answer it. Yes, yes,  I know; there is the occasional, shall we say, obsessive, who insists that we are living through the equivalent of the Black Plague. Just as in any big city you will occasionally come across someone wearing a sandwich sign insisting that the world will end next Tuesday. But on those very rare occasions we just simply continue on with what we are doing, and just ignore the hapless person lugging his sign around. 

That, however, is not the Biden approach. The approach of President Biden is to pretend to believe that we are living through a COVID pandemic emergency. I say pretend because although Mr. Biden may be a shameless liar, an incompetent fool, and way past his prime—which was never much to talk about to begin with—he is not a lunatic. And so his insistence that we are in the midst of a COVID emergency is transparently fake. 

One of the reasons for the transparent dishonesty is that the Biden Administration  chose to argue before the Supreme Court that the HEROES Act of 2003 authorizes the President to forgive outstanding  student loan debt without Congressional approval. That is flat-out wrong that no amount of word smithing can change. 

It is also a position at odds with the one Candidate Biden espoused, presumably before adding up the number of student loan votes up for sale. It is at odds with the position voiced by then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who said that blanket student loan forgiveness would require an act of Congress. 

But that was then; this is now. And all of a sudden a lot of Democrats have become reticent about the subject. But not so self-declared progressives whose appetite for political power is unrestrained. Senators Schumer (NY-D) and Warren (MA-D) both products of Harvard Law, simply assert that Mr. Biden is well within his powers.  

Let’s not forget Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Yale Law) who during oral argument clearly voiced sympathy for the policy. Which in her analysis apparently means that policies she favors are inherently constitutional. Ditto for the rest of the usual suspects like the squad. Honorable mention goes to Donald Trump, also unable to distinguish between policy preference and legality. 

It is, or ought to be crystal clear that allowing the Biden administration to implement its policy preference in this case would strike a mortal blow against the separation of powers that lies at the heart of our Constitutional structure. In effect a Supreme Court green light would make the President a king who rules by executive decree. The power of the purse, or what’s left of it, would vanish. 

Property rights would be eviscerated. Any and all transactions would be subject to ex post changes ordered by the President. Any semblance  of governmental constraint would end. It is difficult to see how financial markets would function when the terms of trade are subject to political whims, ex post. All this would be the result of a clearly illegal policy decreed by a President who routinely blathers on about the importance of the rule of law. 

I say clearly illegal because the US Constitution in Article 1 clearly vests all legislative authority with the Congress. And the President is obligated (by Article 2) to see to it that the the laws are faithfully executed. It is beyond any definition of reasonable to argue that the Congress authorized the President to declare an emergency and in the process spend an estimated $400 billion to $1 trillion without specific authorization. This is simply beyond dispute; any argument to the contrary is a total fabrication, a lie. It is Mr Biden’s obligation to see to it that the loan documents are enforced, not evaded. 

It is obvious that Mr Biden has refused to enforce the law. In a sane world this power grab would be a cause for impeachment. That is obviously not going to happen because what matters is whether any given politician has an R or D after his name. Due process, fair play and justice have become subordinate to politics. 

As bad as the consequences would be if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of the Biden Administration, it is well worth considering the immense damage this policy gambit has already done. An awful lot of people realize that what the Biden Administration is proposing is not simply bad policy, an area in which the Administration has already accumulated an impressive track record. They realize that Biden and Co are cynically inviting people to participate in their lie; for money, no less. 

The Biden ploy represents a corruption of the soul. It makes a mockery of Solzhenitsyn’s admonition not to  “live by lies”. It is a sure fire path to the nihilism of mob rule. 

A liberal democracy can not long survive if its institutions are corrupted by lies; if the world of debate and discussion continues to be met with cancellations and assertions of “My Truth”. For this we will pay a heavy price. 

Also note that the phrase My Truth, so loved by progressives and post- modernists of all stripes, is the title of a book published about 70 years ago. That book was written in defense of the Italian fascist Benito Mussolini by one of his daughters who remained a fascist to her dying day. Maybe progressives, post-modernists and our Woke friends ought to think about that. And pay off their student loans.


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So Long 2022

Upon publication of Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” the Archbishop of Canterbury is reported to have said  “Dear Lord please let it not be true, or at least not be widely known”. Today Progressives and their sympathizers have said essentially the same thing with respect to the Twitter files. 

In a year full of big stories—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, soaring inflation, the collapse of FTX, the conviction of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, the overturning of Roe v. Wade—the revelations contained in the Twitter files may seem at first blush like weak tea. But they are not. The revelations go to the heart of the American experiment in self-government which depends on an independent press and freedom of expression. 

The Twitter files—internal Twitter documents that Elon Musk provided to some admittedly sympathetic journalists—have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that Twitter was actively engaged in censoring content that did not follow the woke party line. Not only that, Twitter (and Facebook for that matter) worked hand in glove with the FBI, the Biden campaign, and later the White House to suppress stories that ran counter to the preferred narrative of liberal Pooh-Bahs.  

Consider for instance, the Hunter Biden laptop story. Hunter Biden left a laptop containing all kinds of unflattering information, possibly including evidence of criminal activity by Hunter and the entire Biden family, with a repair shop. The NY Post got hold of it and wrote about it in late October. 

Twitter’s response (quickly followed by Google and Facebook) was to shut down the NY Post account in order to prevent the story from being disseminated further. Then 51 members of what naifs call “the intelligence community” wrote a vaguely worded letter implying, without a shred of evidence, that the information was actually Russian disinformation. Signers of that letter included James Clapper and John Brennan, both of whom had previously admitted to lying under oath in Congressional testimony. 

Unfortunately, the laptop story is not an isolated incident. It is of a piece. 

For instance, critics of the extended COVID-19 lockdowns, which produced such disastrous results in education and mental health, suffered a similar fate. Those critics include the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration: Sunetra Gupta (Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, Oxford), Jay Bhattacharya (Professor of Medicine, Stanford) and Martin Kulldorf (biostatistician and Professor of Medicine, Harvard). They were subjected to shadow banning and suppression by Twitter.

The essence of their argument was that it was virtually impossible to stop the spread of the infection and that a risk-reward analysis indicated that policy ought to be targeted at protecting the most vulnerable. In retrospect, their analysis proved to be largely correct. But that didn’t (and hasn’t) stopped the smears. Nor has it produced much by way of a belated acknowledgement by the people who sought to silence them. 

If this were merely a story about a journalistic error it would be one thing. But it is not. The real story is about how the media-government complex cooperated to stifle debate and discussion. Debate and discussion are supposed to be what science and a free press are all about. And, to put it mildly, government has no business putting its thumb on the scale. 

An attempt to control the mechanisms of information dissemination combined with government interference turns journalists into stenographers. That is the model that dominates the “news” in China, Russia, Iran and other authoritarian regimes. It is not how a free marketplace of ideas is supposed to function. 

Perhaps in 2023 liberals of a certain age will remember that back in their college days they favored free expression instead of cheering for conformity and group think the way they do now. That’s my New Year’s wish. 


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Here We Go Again?

Although less likely than before, it seems horrifyingly possible that the Republican and Democratic parties will contrive to inflict upon the body politic a rematch of the 2020 presidential contest in 2024. In that national embarrassment, Mr. Biden narrowly bested Mr. Trump in the electoral college to assume the Presidency, although Mr. Trump is apparently still unaware that the fat lady has already sung. 

Prior to the midterms in which a widely anticipated red wave never materialized, it was expected that Mr. Biden would announce that he would not be running in 2024. But the unexpected success of the Democratic showing in the midterms has reportedly persuaded Mr Biden to carry on and he is even now preparing for another run—or shuffle as the case may be.

For his part, Mr. Trump displayed a mastery of electoral politics not seen since George McGovern managed to lose 49 of 50 states to Richard Nixon. He did so by engineering the nominations of: Kari Lake for Governor and Blake Masters for Senator of Arizona; Pennsylvania nominees for Governor (Mastriano) and Senator (Mehmet Oz);  New Hampshire Senate nominee Don Bolduc, Nevada Senate nominee Adam Laxalt and for the Michigan Governor’s office, Tudor Dixon. 

They all lost. Bigly as The Donald might say. 

In fact, across every region of the country, Trump’s candidates lost and lost convincingly in what were eminently winnable races. The only major Trumpkin who managed to successfully cross the finish line was JD Vance in Ohio, and he ran something like 15 points behind the other statewide Republicans. 

Meanwhile Brian Kemp of Georgia, who was personally targeted for extinction by HRH Trump, beat Stacey Abrams handily in the Governor’s race. She even conceded this time around. By doing so, Kemp became a political figure to keep an eye on. 

Not that losing, and losing badly in 2018, 2020, 2021 (Georgia runoffs) and 2022 would serve in any way to deter the mighty Trump. He is, after all, trying to settle scores with Republicans who failed to kiss the ring. To that end, shortly after his latest series of losses, he assumed that Republicans were gluttons for punishment and announced that he intended to run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. 

He did this despite (or maybe because of) the fact that he is on the cusp of being indicted in several jurisdictions for various crimes that he almost certainly committed. The decision to announce his candidacy may quite possibly be part of a larger legal strategy that is divorced from electoral politics. 

On the other hand we might invoke Occam’s razor to explain Mr. Trump’s increasingly erratic and cringeworthy behavior. The evidence is clear: The man is a lunatic, an easily observable fact that has been recognized by roughly everyone blessed by the touch of rationality.

So why do so many Republican office holders stare at their shoes and mumble when asked about the latest burst of idiocy Mr. Trump manages to utter?  He, for instance, just recently suggested that the Constitution should be “suspended” so that he can be inaugurated as the “real” winner of the 2020 election. Failing that, he suggested there should be an electoral do-over. 

Calling for the suspension of the Constitution requires an impressive dose of Chutzpah. Especially when you consider that the Presidential Oath of Office contained in Article II obligates the President-elect to “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”   Then again, Mr Trump, who has never shown the slightest inclination to tell the truth when it’s inconvenient, notwithstanding a pesky thing like an oath, will no doubt soon be championing law and order. 

What is a mystery of sorts is why Republican office holders don’t simply come out and say the obvious. The Constitution is not going to be suspended; that there is no way short of a coup  for it to be suspended; it simply doesn’t matter what Mr. Trump has to say on the subject, and by the way he simply doesn’t have the slightest idea what he is talking about, which is not an entirely unusual phenomenon. 

After all, this would not take much courage—not that Republican courage is in noticeable surplus these days—because it has now been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that following Mr. Trump’s leadership is a surefire path to losing.  

Alternatively, they could just say he is off his meds. 


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Seek the Truth and the Truth Shall Set Ye Free

The state motto of New Hampshire, Live Free or Die, is so memorable that virtually everyone recognizes it. It is more than just a slogan. It has a profound substantive meaning that is well worth thinking about. 

So what does it mean to live free or die? Maybe the best way to think about this is by example, both in real life and in literature. There are people throughout history who have been willing to endure great sacrifice, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice, in a relentless search for truth. And that search for truth has always and everywhere depended on free inquiry—which is typically suppressed by authoritarian regimes. 

They had names, instantly recognizable ones. Socrates, Galileo, Natan Sharansky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Joan of Arc are among the most famous, but there are countless others. (Note: I omit the mention of Jesus Christ in these examples because by design, these examples are of fallible men, not Divinity.)

The Indian philosopher, Swami Vivekananda said that “Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything.” He also observed that “To tell a lie, you have to imitate a truth, and that truth is a fact.”

The search for truth, the importance of love, the freedom these require and the sacrifice they may call on us to make and their liberating effects are recurring  themes in great literature. For instance, in the Bible, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his first born son. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Desdemona willingly sacrifices her life for Othello. Romeo and Juliet sacrifice their lives for each other rather than submit to the taboos of the era.  

In Charles Dickens’s, A Tale of Two Cities, there is Sydney Carton. In the novel Carton sacrifices himself so that another man may live (“Tis a far far better thing I do…”). In so doing Carton transforms himself from a scoundrel to a man of worth and achieves happiness.  In this he is reminiscent of the Penitent Thief on the Cross who asks Christ to remember him and as a result his sins are forgiven. 

So what does all this have to do with the price of tea in China?

Just this: progressives deny that there is a such thing as truth. It is all relative, you see. What matters is how we “identify” or in the jargon of progressivism, it is “lived experience” that matters. What is so seductive about all this is that the political agenda animating it is deliberately hidden by the misuse of language. It is language that is designed to conceal rather than reveal. 

Who, for instance, would deny that experience is important? But experience isn’t dispositive in matters of philosophy. It is a data point. And of course human beings have an identity. We for instance, think of ourselves as being American or French, as men and women, as Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim or non-believer. 

But to be an American or French citizen is a legal fact. Although not immutable, the documentary evidence is recorded on a passport or birth certificate. To be a man or woman is an immutable fact of nature, the evidence for which is contained in our DNA. Cosmetic changes to a physical body do not change the sex of an individual any more than putting on lipstick does.   And unlike sex, Religious belief, or lack thereof is a choice. 

The long and short of it is that progressives refuse to recognize the imperatives of nature and nature’s God.  They may not be aware of it, but they necessarily deny the elementary facts of biology when subjectively defining the terms male or female in entirely self-referential terms. 

Sex is out, gender is in because while sex is biologically determined, gender is merely a social construction. What matters is how a person subjectively  “identifies”.  You can be a man on Monday and a woman on Tuesday. Hence the phrase “sex assigned at birth.” As if it is changeable on a whim.

This, by the way, is not exactly a new idea. It was the ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras who set the stage when he argued that man is the measure of all things. Which of course leads to directly to the idea of “my” truth rather than “the” truth. It is an idea illustrated by then Supreme Court nominee Katanji Brown Jackson, who when asked what a woman was, answered that she didn’t know, after all she isn’t a biologist.   

It is easy enough to subject this answer to derision, and it has been.  After all, Justice Jackson will be called upon to decide cases based on complaints of sex-based bias and discrimination. This after she pretends not to know the difference between the sexes. It should be noted that this type of nonsense does not live in isolation. The Biden Administration continues to refer to “pregnant people” and refuses to use the phrase pregnant woman. We wouldn’t want to imply that pregnancy and motherhood are reserved for actual women.   

Nor is this attempt to change language usage to advance an ideological objective anything new. Consider: we don’t have officially sponsored racial discrimination. Instead we have affirmative action. Abortion rights up until the moment of birth have somehow become “women’s health care”. 

And then there is “Climate Justice”. Well, what exactly is “Climate Justice”? Daisy Simmons,a freelance contributor to Yale Climate Connections, an Initiative of the Yale Center for Environmental Communication, says “it begins with the idea that adverse impacts.of a warming climate are not felt equitably among people.” 

Leaving that inanity aside, she goes on to say: “In the end, there is no single way to define, let alone champion, climate justice. But in combination with other current social justice movements – perhaps epitomized and including, but not limited to, the Black Lives Matter movement – many experts see climate justice becoming an increasingly significant component of overall concerns raised by climate change.”

So: we can’t define what Climate Justice is, but we’re all for it. Not to mention other social justice movements including Black Lives Matter, a group mired in corruption whose leaders bragged that they were trained Marxists who among other things wanted to end heteronormativity and the nuclear family. 

All of which points us to what this whole business is really all about, which is an attempt to radically transform American society to ready it for the collectivist Utopia that is waiting in the wings. Any doubt about this can be easily resolved by watching some of the You Tube segment below from 36:00 to 37:15. In the video, Jack Halberstam-Trans*, a professor at Columbia University presents a lecture titled “Beyond a politics of recognition”. Professor Halberstam makes the goal of social transformation explicit at 36 minutes into the 1 hour and 23 minute lecture. 

Jack Halberstam-Trans* Lecture

Lest there be any illusion that this is a one-off, consider what David Brooks had to say in his NY Times column back in March of 2021. “Republican and Democratic presidents from Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama worked within the parameters of the American system, but a new generation in the country, raised amid the financial crisis, wants to smash the “neoliberal consensus.” This intellectual shift in the Democratic Party — starting with the young, but now encompassing most of the establishment — is what is driving Biden to do so much so fast, and it will continue to drive him throughout his presidency.”

In the same column he also noted that he was startled to read a blog post from a progressive economist who claimed that “Public debt doesn’t matter”. That was when Modern Monetary Policy (MMT) was all the rage. Which, not coincidentally, was also before the Biden Spend-a-thon got rolling with its subsequent spike in inflation. 

Driven by a political philosophy that he obviously doesn’t understand, President Joe Biden is attempting a fundamental transformation of American society in which there is no such thing as truth. There are no permanent things. There is only the raw quest for power. That is the underlying theory that drives progressive politics, whether progressives realize it or not. 

The political argument is not merely about things like, say, marginal tax rates. It is about a radical transformation of American society based on the notion that there is no such thing as human nature; that free will is an illusion; that the idea of truth is a lie, and that human behavior can be effectively controlled by bureaucratic experts using the power of the state. 

By deliberate use of misleading language, progressives, who have captured our most important cultural institutions, intend to use those institutions to change government from servant to master. To that end it is continuing the effort, already well underway, of attacking the institutions that undergird civil society in America. 

Religious freedom, free speech, the nuclear family, the difference between men and women, independence of the Courts and equality before the law are being systematically undermined by the progressive policies of the Biden Administration.  

Object to Administration policy and find yourself on the receiving end of cancellation attempts. Or find yourself subject to intimidation and threats and violence. When, for instance Senator Kyrsten Sinema was chased and followed into a women’s rest room because she resisted a Biden initiative, President Biden  called the mob behavior “part of the process.” 

Then there were parents at PTA meetings who objected to the politicization of grammar school curricula. The FBI was temporarily unleashed on them  after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) claimed in a letter that there was a spike in violence directed at teachers that effectively amounted to domestic terrorism. Except that the spike in violence the NSBA  referenced was non-existent. It was merely a pretext to intimidate parents into keeping quiet. 

To be fair, the use of federal agencies to attack political enemies is not a sin committed only by progressives. It is one of the few bipartisan areas remaining in Washington. (Another is overspending). But it does point to the abuse of power that has become routine in a too powerful government.  

To sum up: what we have here is a powerful and unaccountable bureaucracy guided by an Executive branch that has been captured by woke ideology. It is almost totally lacking in checks and balances. By exercise of Executive power progressives intend to transform American society by subterfuge and deceit if necessary. Progressives mean to change the relationship of citizens and their government so that government is the master rather than the servant of the people. The misuse of language is a means to that end.

Like every other attempt in history at central planning this one will also be a massive crashing failure. The only question is not whether but how much damage they will do until it gets sorted out.


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