[VIDEO] Obama’s ‘Arc of Justice’

“History is not a moral force in and of itself, and it has no set course.”

— David A. Graham

‘The phrase is utterly lacking in feck because it outsources the bulk of the punishment to an abstract future rather than the concrete here and now.’

— Jonah Goldberg

December 2015, David A. Graham writes:

“..Obama’s own fresh contribution to the genre is his invocation of “the arc of history.” It’s his adaptation of an older phrase, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice,” which was popularized by Martin Luther King Jr. but coined (evidently) a century earlier by Theodore Parker. Obama has mentioned “the arc of history” a dozen times since his election.

“Forget that history doesn’t tell such simple stories and you end up employing this seemingly inexorable progression as evidence that humanity will continue to improve inexorably in the future. Butterfield warned in particular about the temptation to read moral judgments into history, to assume the thrust of events was determined by or proved the validity of reality over alternative possibilities that had not come to pass.”

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it imputes an agency to history that doesn’t exist. Worse, it assumes that progress is unidirectional. But history is not a moral force in and of itself, and it has no set course. Presuming otherwise embraces the dangerous tendency that the great English historian Herbert Butterfield dissected in his 1931 essay, The Whig Interpretation of History. Butterfield was writing about the inclination among certain historians to see the Reformation as a unalloyedly positive force—a secularizing, liberalizing movement that led inexorably to liberal democracy in the 20th century. Butterfield objected that this wasn’t at all how things worked. It was just a retrospective reading.

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“The total result of this method is to impose a certain form upon the whole historical story, and to produce a scheme of general history which is bound to converge beautifully upon the present,” he wrote. In fact, “the more we examine the way in which things happen, the more we are driven from the simple to the complex.”

“The problem with this kind of thinking is that it imputes an agency to history that doesn’t exist. Worse, it assumes that progress is unidirectional.”

Viewing history from the standpoint of the present not only misrepresented the complexity of events, he wrote, but also risked framing history as a natural progression wherein humans improved over time, going from darker, less intelligent and moral times to an ever-improving present. Butterfield warned against that:

History is all things to all men. She is at the service of good causes and bad. In other words she is a harlot and a hireling, and for this reason she best serves those who suspect her most. Therefore, we must beware even of saying, “History says […]” or “History proves […]”, as though she herself were the oracle; as though indeed history, once she spoken, had put the matter beyond the range of mere human inquiry. Rather we must say to ourselves: “She will lie to us till the very end of the last cross-examination.”

Forget that history doesn’t tell such simple stories and you end up employing this seemingly inexorable progression as evidence that humanity will continue to improve inexorably in the future. Butterfield warned in particular about the temptation to read moral judgments into history, to assume the thrust of events was determined by or proved the validity of reality over alternative possibilities that had not come to pass.

Within a decade of The Whig Interpretation, World War II broke out, providing a visceral example of how the passage of time didn’t necessarily result in progress. But the fallacy recurs occasionally, and Obama seems to have fallen into it. If history is on a trajectory toward perfection, it follows that there can be a right and a wrong side of history…(read more)

Source: The Atlantic

In March 2014, Jonah Goldberg writes:

“…The progression of history is scientifically knowable, quoth the Marxists, and so we need not listen to those who object to our program. Later, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others would use this reasoning to justify murdering millions of inconvenient people. It was a “God is on our side” argument, minus God.

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In fairness, I doubt Barack Obama and John Kerry have Marx or Hegel on the brain when they prattle on about the right and wrong sides of history. They more properly belong in what some call the “Whig school” of history, coined in 1931 by historian Herbert Butterfield. The Whiggish tendency in history says that the world progresses toward the inevitable victory of liberal democracy and social enlightenment. Again, I doubt Obama and Kerry have ever cracked the spine of Butterfield’s book.

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Still, this administration has used the “wrong side of history” phrase more than any I can remember. They particularly like to use it in foreign policy. In his first inaugural, Obama declared, “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” Ever since, whenever things haven’t gone his way on the international scene — i.e., on days that end with a “y” — he or his spokespeople have wagged their fingers from the right side of history. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Michael Mukasey on Hillary, Homeland Security, and the Courts 

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey uses his legal expertise to tackle the FBI’s verdict on the Hillary Clinton email scandal, the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies, the objectivity of judges, and more in this Viewpoint interview.

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Ex Top Cop: We Need a New Model of Policing 

The horrific deaths of Philando Castillo in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, give us an updated and up-close glimpse of police encounters gone bad—but they are rooted in decades of problematic policing in America. “Historically in this country, the police have never really been the friends of the black community,” says Neill Franklin, a former officer with the Baltimore Police Department and current executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P).

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Franklin talked with Reason TV Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie at this year’s Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada, pointing out that slavery may have ended officially in the late 1800s, but a lot of policing was born out of that era and the one that followed, when police deliberately enforced laws in ways that targeted black citizens. Even today, police are tasked with enforcing laws—from driving without a license to missing a court date—that tend to target poor communities and communities of color.

“You know a $250 fine doesn’t mean much to people who have money,” says Franklin. “But when you enforce these policies in poor communities, a hundred dollar fine can devastate a family.” Read the rest of this entry »


Why Luxury TVs Are Affordable when Basic Health Care Is Not

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Monopoly products and services go up in price, while competitive ones go down.

Imagine this. You are feeling under the weather. You pull out your smartphone and click the Rx app. A nurse arrives in 20 minutes at your home. He gives you a blood test and recommends to the doctor that she prescribe a treatment. It is sent to the CVS down the street, which delivers it to your door in 20 minutes. The entire event costs $20.

“Medical care prices are up 105% in the last 20 years. This contrasts with the television industry, which is selling products that have fallen 96% in the same period.”

Sounds nuts? Not so much. Not if health care were a competitive industry. As it is, medical care prices are up 105% in the last 20 years. This contrasts with the television industry, which is selling products that have fallen 96% in the same period.

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Take a look at this chart assembled by AEI. It reveals two important points. First, there is no such thing as an aggregate price level, or, rather what we call the price level is a statistical fiction.

[Read the full text here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

Second, it shows that competitive industries offer goods and services that are falling in price due to market pressure. In contrast monopolized industries can extract ever higher rents from people based on restriction. Read the rest of this entry »


Black Families in Georgia Are Rejecting Public School

 writes: During the 1950s and 60s, America’s black families fought a difficult battle to integrate the public schools, hoping to give their children a better education. Because of this hard-won victory, many black parents have been strong supporters of public schools in the subsequent decades.

But that support may be changing.

According to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, an increasing number of black families are leaving public schools for the same reason they once embraced them, and are instead gravitating to homeschooling.

Quoting a former public-school-teacher-turned-homeschool-mom named Nikita Bush, The Monitor explains this movement:

“Despite the promises of the civil rights movement, ‘people are starting to realize that public education in America was designed for the masses of poor, and its intent has been to trap poor people into being workers and servants. If you don’t want that for your children, then you look for something else,’ she says.”

While most states prohibit homeschooling parents from teaching anybody except their own children, Georgia has no such restriction.

[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

Bush is not alone in thinking that the public schools are keeping minority children from reaching their potential. According to a poll released in 2016 by The Leadership Conference Education Fund, minority parents “strongly reject the notion that students from low-income families should be held to lower standards.” In fact, “Nine-out-of-ten African Americans and 84 percent of Latinos disagree that students today work hard enough and instead believe that students should be challenged more to help ensure they are successful later in life.”

Reuters/Bobby Yip

Reuters/Bobby Yip

Research backs up the opinion that minority children can be challenged to do better – and even do better – in a homeschool environment. A 2015 study conducted by Brian Ray found that black homeschool students scored in the 68th percentile in reading, the 56th percentile in language, and the 50th percentile in math. By contrast, black public school students scored in the 25th, 30th, and 28th percentiles of the same areas (chart)

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But while many would admit that these improvements are terrific, many would also be quick to question whether or not a homeschool scenario is feasible for black families, particularly since more than 65 percent of black children are born into single-parent homes. How can black parents manage to work and support their children while simultaneously homeschooling them? Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] What Makes Spiders Scary

Scientists hope to learn whether arachnophobes’ perception of spiders as larger than actual size causes their fear—or whether it is the fearfulness itself that causes their visual misperception.

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NSA ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hack Shows SpyWar with Kremlin Is Turning Hot 

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Western intelligence bosses recently have become open about stating what they’ve known for years, that Snowden is a Kremlin pawn designed to inflict pain on Russia’s adversaries in the SpyWar.

 writes: The National Security Agency can’t catch a break. Over three years ago, Edward Snowden, an IT contractor for the agency, defected to Moscow with more than a million classified documents. Since then, Snowden’s vast trove has been used to embarrass NSA about the extent of its global espionage reach.

“Significant questions loom over this new scandal.  In the first place, what really is The Shadow Brokers? They appear to be a transparent front for Russian intelligence. Indeed, they’re not really hiding that fact, given the broken English they used in their online auction notice asking for bitcoin in exchange for NSA information.” 

I’ve been warning from Day One that the Snowden Operation was a Russian propaganda ploy aimed at inflicting pain on NSA, America’s most important spy agency, and its global alliance of espionage partnerships that’s been the backbone of the powerful Western intelligence system since it helped defeat the Nazis and Japan in World War II.

“From his Russian exile, even Snowden admitted on Twitter that this was pretty obviously a Kremlin spy game.”

Western intelligence bosses recently have become open about stating what they’ve known for years, that Snowden is a Kremlin pawn designed to inflict pain on Russia’s adversaries in the SpyWar. There’s no doubt that’s the case, especially since the Kremlin now has admitted that Snowden is their agent.

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For more than three years NSA has been subjected to an unprecedented stream of leaks about myriad Top Secret intelligence programs. Although Snowden claimed his motivation was to protect the civil liberties of fellow Americans by exposing secrets, it’s impossible to miss that well over 95 percent of the programs he’s compromised are purely involved with foreign intelligence. The impact of all this on agency morale has been devastating and NSA is in a state of crisis thanks to Snowden.

[Read the full story here, at the Observer]

This week things took a marked turn for the worse, however, with the exposure of highly sensitive NSA hacking tools on the Internet by a murky group calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” which announced it planned to sell programs purloined from the agency. Like clockwork, NSA’s public website crashed and stayed down for almost a full day. Although there’s no indication this was linked to The Shadow Brokers, the optics for NSA were terrible.

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First, some explanation is needed of what’s been compromised. The crown jewel here is a 300-megabyte file containing “exploits”—that is, specialized sophisticated cyber tools designed to burrow through firewalls to steal data. What The Shadow Brokers has, which it claims it stole from an alleged NSA front organization termed the Equation Group, appears to be legitimate.

Here we are, three years after Snowden, dealing with the consequences of allowing Russian moles to run amok inside NSA.

These exploits—or at least some of them—appear to come from NSA’s elite office of Tailored Access Operations, which is the agency’s hacking group. Arguably the world’s most proficient cyber-warriors, the shadowy TAO excels at gaining access to the computer systems of foreign adversaries. TAO veterans have confirmed that, from what they’ve seen of what The Shadow Brokers has revealed, they’re bona fide NSA exploits.

This represents a security disaster for an agency that really didn’t need another one. How this happened, given the enormous security that’s placed on all NSA Top Secret computer systems, raises troubling questions about what’s going on, since the agency instituted much more strenuous online security after Snowden’s defection, which revealed how slipshod NSA counterintelligence really was.

However, significant questions loom over this new scandal.  In the first place, what really is The Shadow Brokers? They appear to be a transparent front for Russian intelligence. Indeed, they’re not really hiding that fact, given the broken English they used in their online auction notice asking for bitcoin in exchange for NSA information. From his Russian exile, even Snowden admitted on Twitter that this was pretty obviously a Kremlin spy game.

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Pro-Russian sources have pointed to the Equation Group as an NSA front for more than a year. In early 2015, Kaspersky Labs, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, announced the discovery of the Equation Group and fingers were quickly pointed at NSA as being the culprit behind those hackers. It should be noted that Kaspersky Labs has a very cozy relationship with the Kremlin and is viewed by most espionage experts in the West as an extended arm of Russian intelligence. The firm’s founder, Eugene Kaspersky, was trained in codes and ciphers by the KGB in the waning days of the Soviet Union, even meeting his first wife at a KGB resort. Read the rest of this entry »


Jeffrey Tucker: Blessed Fish! How the Market Brought It to Your Table

Here’s to fish, and here’s to the technology that has made it possible to enjoy, cheaply and easily, in every household.

Jeffrey Tucker writes: In the Renaissance, painters often featured fishmongers selling fish from tables right there for anyone to buy. Why? For the first time in history, people had money to buy things, from actual merchants. Fish for sale to anyone and everyone was a lovely sign of wealth, an indicator of progress.

Fish preparation now takes less time than it took the burger place yesterday to make me lunch.Still, you could only get it if you lived near the sea. Fast forwarding a few centuries, when I was a kid in West Texas, eating fish at home was unthinkable. Fish
sticks, maybe. Otherwise fish at home didn’t exist. By culture, tradition, and by sheer availability, we ate beef.

“Dramatic things have happened to the market for fish over the past 10 years. It is wholly changed. Now you can get incredibly great fish at nearly every supermarket”

Even today, many people are reluctant to prepare fish at home. This is my strong impression from talking to friends and colleagues.

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This usually traces back to one bad experience. Maybe it came from childhood. The fish was fishy, boney, and just generally dreadful. That one experience can color a lifetime of food choices.

“Hardly any time passes between swimming around and landing in a separately sealed individual packet, ready for eating. Massive improvements in technology (thank you, capitalism) have improved the way fish is caught and brought to market. Now it is caught, cleaned, deboned, and flash frozen right on the boat.”

In my own case, I thought for years I would only eat fish at a restaurant. Only they know how to do it right, I thought. Surely I could never replicate that process at home. At most, I could make those awful breaded fish sticks Mom would drag out on dreaded occasions.

seafood-safety

The Glorious Fishy World

Well, dramatic things have happened to the market for fish over the past 10 years. It is wholly changed. Now you can get incredibly great fish at nearly every supermarket. At Wal-Mart, I recently found a vast selection — tilapia, flounder, swordfish, salmon, whiting, halibut, lobster, and so much more. The prices were ridiculously low. I’ve been sampling them all for months.

[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

What’s the secret? Head to the freezer section. I know it sounds inferior. Wouldn’t you rather have fresh? Not any more.

Hardly any time passes between swimming around and landing in a separately sealed individual packet, ready for eating. Massive improvements in technology (thank you, capitalism) have improved the way fish is caught and brought to market. Now it is 41eQn3GP4ZL._SL250_caught, cleaned, deboned, and flash frozen right on the boat. Hardly any time passes between swimming around and landing in a separately sealed individual packet, right there ready for the eating.

[Order Jeffrey Tucker ‘s bookBit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World” from Amazon.com]

And you don’t have to worry about timing. In the old days, when you bought fish, you had to eat it that night or risk having it become slimy and gross. Now it can stay in your freezer and be ready for you when you want it.

For the first time, the equivalent of fresh fish, stunningly yummy, is available to nearly everyone at low prices, ready for preparation right in your own kitchen. And despite the reputation that fish once had of being difficult to prepare, now it is easier than pork or beef, and even faster.

In other words, cut open the bag, and it is ready to go.

I find this just amazing. That’s a shorter period than it took the burger place yesterday to make me lunch.

And it is a fraction of the price. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Pokémon Go versus the FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules…in 60 Seconds 

With its “T-Mobile Tuesdays” promotion, T-Mobile is giving customers free data for Pokémon Go. But does that defy net neutrality? AEI Visiting Fellow Roslyn Layton describes how the FCC’s rules impact zero-rating—the practice of giving away free data for certain applications.

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Venezuela’s Road to Literal Serfdom

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Friedrich Hayek’s classic book The Road to Serfdom describes the popular delusions that have led to the breakdown of civil society in Venezuela.

Barry Brownstein writes: In his classic 1841 book on financial bubbles, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay observed, “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

“In societies turning to socialism, there is no appreciation of scarcity. There is no appreciation that ‘things cannot all be done at the same time, that anyone of them can be achieved only at the sacrifice of others.’”

Mackay covered religious and political delusions, too. “We see one nation suddenly seized, from its highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire of military glory; another as suddenly becoming crazed upon a religious scruple,” he recounts, “and serfdomneither of them recovering its senses until it has shed rivers of blood and sowed a harvest of groans and tears, to be reaped by its posterity.”

[Order Friedrich Hayek’s classic “The Road to Serfdom” from Amazon.com]

Venezuela is sowing its harvest of “groans and tears.” Due to the breakdown of civil society in the country, even war-plagued Syrians feel more safe in their homes than do Venezuelans. Venezuelans are so hungry that they cried at the sight of food in Columbia. Recently the hungry broke into a zoo to kill a horse for its meat. Literally, they have become serfs that may be required to work 60 days or more in agricultural fields.

“The hard to give up delusion of socialists is that there are coercive plans that will benefit all. Venezuelans have seen the means of production nationalized in the name of the common good and with every intervention their standard of living fell further.”

Venezuela has the world’s worst rate of economic growth, and the worst inflation rate. It has become like “a gangster state that doesn’t know how to do anything other than sell drugs and steal money for itself.” Socialism has virtually destroyed civilization in Venezuela making it seem like a “hurricane [has] swept things away.”

[Read the full text here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

When the history of this tragic period in Venezuela is written, the population will have plenty of “culprits” to blame. In blaming many will eschew their own responsibility. Some will blame Chavez; others will blame Maduro. Some will follow their beloved leaders and continue to blame the “elite” and the capitalists. The true believers will continue to insist there is no inherent flaw in socialism; they will simply say mistakes were made that will not be made again.

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“Believing that the “coercive or arbitrary intervention of authority,” can coordinate and adjust our individual activities is delusional. With this delusion comes disbelief that a market economy can solve problems and advance society. Those who cherish such delusions may find themselves hungry.”

We are not the victims of the world we see. Our delusions, our beliefs have consequences. The fact that our delusions are often invisible to us does not make them any less powerful or any less consequential. Again, Mackay observed that a population subject to delusions “only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

The new idea of freedom “gave the socialists another word in common with the liberals and they exploited it to the full.

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Venezuelans have not yet recovered their “senses.”  Caracas radio host Glen Martinez stubbornly insists that the “reforms” that Chavez instituted will never be reversed. “We are not the same people we were before 1999,” Martinez said. Many share Martinez’s sentiments; daily the true believers still march and  promise to spill their blood in support of the government.

“The fact that our delusions are often invisible to us does not make them any less powerful or any less consequential.”

There is no better book than Friedrich Hayek’s classic The Road to Serfdom to explain the popular delusions that helped to virtually eliminate the market economy and civil society in Venezuela. Writing during the depths of World War II, Hayek intended his book as a warning “to the socialists of all parties.” What happened in Venezuela can happen wherever a critical mass of the population begins to hold certain delusionary beliefs.

Popular Delusion 1: Freedom Means Freedom from Necessity

Hayek points out that freedom in Western countries traditionally meant “freedom from coercion, freedom from the arbitrary power of other men.”

Socialists point to a “new freedom” which is “freedom from necessity” which releases us “from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us.”

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Hayek adds, “the demand for the new freedom was thus only another name for the old demand for an equal distribution of wealth.”

Believing that these two types of freedom can be combined is delusional. Hayek points out that the new idea of freedom “gave the socialists another word in common with the liberals and they exploited it to the full….Few people noticed [that the word freedom was being used differently] and still fewer asked themselves whether the two kinds of freedom promised really could be combined.”

Popular Delusion 2. Only Coercive Planning Can Coordinate Activity

Almost every individual and organization plans. Writes Hayek, there is no “dispute about whether we ought to employ foresight and systematic thinking and planning our common affairs.”

Hayek thought that to plan or not to plan is not “the real question.” Instead, we should ask if “the holder of coercive power should confine himself in general to creating conditions under which the knowledge and initiative of individuals is given the best scope so that they can plan most successfully; or whether a rational utilization of our resources requires central direction and organization of all our activities according to some consciously constructed ‘blueprint.’”

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Those who cherish such delusions may find themselves hungry.

The humanitarian disaster in Venezuela has been a long time in the making. In 2010, the hungry waited while “2,340 shipping containers with more than 120,000 tons of rotting food (estimated to feed 17 million people for one month)” sat at the government run port of Puerto Cabello. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Why Voter Fraud is a Massive Problem

Democrats like to pretend voter fraud isn’t a problem — but it is. This video proves it.

Early Voting Starts In Florida


[VIDEO] Q&A with Fred Smith: ‘The Alternative To Innovation Is Not Stability. It’s Stagnation’

“The alternative to innovation is not stability,” says Fred L. Smith, who founded the influential and controversial Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in 1984. “It’s stagnation.”

In 2014, after almost 30 years as CEI’s president, Smith became director of the group’s Center for the Advancement of Capitalism, which champions free markets as the best means to create a fair, prosperous, and future-oriented society. Libertarians, says the one-time federal bureaucrat, have always had a difficulty communicating their ideas to a wider public, even to the entrepreneurs and business leaders who radically improve our lives on a daily basis by providing better and better goods and services at lower and lower prices. “We need to re-calibrate our arguments so they reach the people we need to have as allies. That means businessmen.”

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Reason‘s Nick Gillespie sat down with Smith to talk about the liberating history of capitalism, the regulatory war on innovation, whether millennials are socialists or capitalists, and the morality of market exchanges. “The market not only creates a web of voluntary economic interactions,” says Smith. “It is the best facilitator for creating the social networks that encompass the modern world.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Putin Ready to Move, ‘Sees Weakness in the White House’

Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of sending saboteurs across the border into Crimea to provoke the Russians, which a Ukrainian official called “ridiculous.” Charles Krauthammer agrees, and believes Putin is ready to take advantage of U.S. and European weakness.

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[VIDEO] Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 

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How free is your state? Find out! The Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 index from the Cato Institute measures freedom across a range of over 200 policies and across personal, regulatory and fiscal dimensions.

Source: Cato Institute


A Constitutional Amendment Overturning Citizens United: Really? How?

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Peter J. Wallison writes: One jarring note in Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was her statement that she would press for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

“The New York Times is a corporation, so this language would prohibit the Times from editorializing in favor of or against either Ms. Clinton or Donald Trump. Moreover, it might shut down blogs, or firms like Facebook or Twitter, that are corporate vehicles for the expression of opinions about candidates by others.”

This 2009 Supreme Court case held that corporations had the same rights as individuals to make statements for or against the election of a candidate for public office. Particularly difficult to understand was her linking Citizens United to the fact that our economy is not functioning well for many Americans.

A sign during a protest against the Citizens United decision in Portland, Oregon. Credit: Flickr/lance_mountain

A sign during a protest against the Citizens United decision in Portland, Oregon. Credit: Flickr/lance_mountain

“Clearly, closing down newspapers that publish editorials wouldn’t be satisfactory to many Americans, and if extended to other corporate opinion forums would be highly unpopular among the American people. How, then, could the language be modified to allow the New York Times and other corporations to express their views and still overturn Citizens United?”

Taking the last point first, what could be the link between Citizens United and a poorly functioning economy? It’s likely that Ms. Clinton wanted her listeners to infer that corporate power, expressed through independent expenditures—presumably Hidden in plain sightcontributions to superpacs or other hidden sources—had distorted the public’s will for the benefit of powerful private parties.

[Order Peter J. Wallison’s book “Hidden in Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World’s Worst Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again from Amazon.com]

This is a peculiar claim to make after almost eight years of the Obama presidency, in which the most significant government actions—the Dodd-Frank Act, ObamaCare, and various tax increases on corporations and wealthy individuals—could hardly be said to favor corporations or business interests generally. It is also peculiar in light of a recent Wall Street Journal report that hedge fund contributions to Clinton superpacs have outraised those to Trump superpacs by a ratio of more than 2000-to-1 ($46.5 million to $19,000).

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But leaving aside these anomalies, what is it about Citizens United that has stirred Ms. Clinton to propose something as drastic as a constitutional amendment, especially one affecting the First Amendment’s right to free speech?

[Read the full story here, at AEI]

Many of Ms. Clinton’s listeners who cheered her idea probably believe that their right to free speech would not be affected by overturning Citizens United. Of course, the language of the amendment would be determinative, but let’s assume it is as simple as adding new language at the end of the First Amendment as it now reads. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Nationalist Fervor & Fear-Mongering Paranoid Xenophobic Bloodthirsty Racist West-Bashing Reaches Dangerous New Levels

This kind of propaganda is highly effective and gives licence to ordinary people to indulge their most primitive prejudices. By convincing its people that many of China’s ills are the work of foreign spies and conspiracies, Beijing could eventually be forced to hit back against such perceived enemies in order to placate popular outrage. 

Across much of the world, fear-mongering and xenophobia are creeping into public and political discourse.

In liberal democracies with traditions of free speech, vociferous denunciations of these attitudes can act as a counterweight. But in authoritarian countries where alternative narratives are forbidden, official attempts to demonise foreigners and “others” can be especially dangerous. In the past week, the Chinese government has launched several viral online videos that blame “western hostile forces” for a host of ills and supposed conspiracies within China.

U.S. Navy leadership and senior officers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) meet for lunch aboard the Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) marking the conclusion of a U.S.-China counter piracy exercise between Harbin and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released)

“In the past, most foreigners in China enjoyed a certain level of unstated protection and privilege. In business and in everyday life ‘foreign friends’ were welcomed and often treated with kid gloves by the authorities. Some of them undoubtedly took advantage of this to flout the rules or behave badly without fear of retribution.”

The videos are crude but exceptionally powerful in their simplicity and emotional appeal. One video promoted by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and Communist Youth League, two of the most powerful state bodies, begins with heartbreaking scenes of orphans and victims of the wars in Iraq and Syria, and then jumps to an assertion that the west, led by the US, is trying to subject China to the same fate.

NYT China-Espionage

“Today, that informal immunity seems to have vanished. In its place are hints of a backlash that many long-term foreign residents will tell you can be very ugly, ranging from casual discrimination and racial slurs, to physical altercations that take on a racist dimension.”

“Under the banner of ‘democracy, freedom and rule of law’ western forces are constantly trying to create societal contradictions in order to overthrow the [Chinese] government,” the subtitles read over pictures of democracy protesters in Hong Kong and President Barack Obama meeting the Dalai Lama.

[Read the full story here, at FT.com]

According to the video, western plots and the “dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes” are also to blame for everything from attacks on Chinese peacekeepers in Africa, to farmers’ riots in China’s hinterland, to the Tibetan independence movement. The effect is heightened by ominous music and juxtaposition of chaos elsewhere with heroic images of Chinese soldiers and weaponry.

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 “In the past week, the Chinese government has launched several viral online videos that blame ‘western hostile forces’ for a host of ills and supposed conspiracies within China. The videos are crude but exceptionally powerful in their simplicity and emotional appeal.”

In some ways this is a mirror of the populist, jingoistic tilts happening elsewhere in the world. While not a direct reaction to the assertive Trumpism emanating from the US or the rise of rightwing nationalism in Europe, some of the same collective animus is taking hold in China, partly at the instigation of the ruling Communist party.

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“According to the video, western plots and the ‘dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes’ are also to blame for everything from attacks on Chinese peacekeepers in Africa, to farmers’ riots in China’s hinterland, to the Tibetan independence movement.

Many of those propagating this message are the shallowest of nationalists — the kind of party apparatchiks who are diversifying their (often ill-gotten) assets abroad as fast as they can and sending their children to study in Australia, the US, Canada or the UK.

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“The effect is heightened by ominous music and juxtaposition of chaos elsewhere with heroic images of Chinese soldiers and weaponry.”

Indeed, one of the main producers of the video on western plots is a 29-year-old PhD student from China now living in Canberra, Australia. Meanwhile, the party has called for the rejection of western values and concepts in favour of Marxism — an ideology named after a German living in London and refracted into China via Moscow. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Dr. K: Improper Clinton Foundation E-mails ‘Could Destroy Her Candidacy’ 

“This, I think, can be quite ominous. There are two questions that have been outstanding forever. The first is: what exactly does the foundation do? I know what Habitat for Humanity does. I know what the Gates Foundation does. It is obvious that it was a huge networking operation: funding, supporting, giving jobs to the entire Clinton retinue, waiting for her accession, for the Clintons to return to the White House. And the second question is: why does she have a private server?”

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“I have always speculated here, and I said it was pure speculation, that the real stuff, the reason she had to hide all this, obviously she meant to hide things, was because there is something having to do with the foundation. And that’s where you would put all the so-called private stuff. It wasn’t yoga lessons or wedding invitations. If there was anything about improper connections, and we see them here — this is just a hint of it, just a few e-mails. What was in the 30,000? If anybody gets their hands on them, Russian or not, there could come spilling out stuff that could destroy her candidacy.”

putin-computer Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Trump Seems ‘Incapable of Turning the Corner’

Charles Krauthammer did not take a recent Trump comment as a genuine call for Hillary Clinton’s assassination, but he went on to say that the Republican strategists’ hope that Trump would turn the corner and learn to watch his words is a fantasy.

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