Month: October 2017

The Mythical Far Right


Few ideas are as silly or destructive as the idea that there is an “ideological spectrum” that has at one extreme Nazis and fascists and at the other end communists.  There is no “far right” that connects in any way with conservatism.  The communists and Nazis are not simply totalitarians, but totalitarians who believe in almost identical values.  That is why Orwell in 1984 could describe an Inner Party that everyone understands but fits nowhere on an “ideological spectrum.”

Moving too far in the direction of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater never, ever leads to totalitarianism, but moving too far in the direction of Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi always leads to totalitarianism.  All totalitarians believe in is power and all the goodies that flow from a monopoly of power.  That is why the vast majority of German communists joined the Nazi Party after it came to power and why practically all the Nazi leadership was composed of Marxists and radical socialists.

There was a reason why the word commu-Nazi was once on the lips of pundits in the free democratic West.  Nazis, communists, and fascists were virtually indistinguishable in their rhetoric, programs, and actions.  All hated God, particularly Christianity; all loved statism, particularly highly centralized statism (the destruction of the individuality of the states of Germany was noted in 1934 as the salient political change wrought by Nazis); and all demanded the rule by political party and not by normal government.

What is meant, then, by the “danger of the far right” – like what we have seen in recent European elections, particularly last month in Germany and this month in Austria?  If that danger is anti-Semitism, then we must grasp the grim fact that the notional “left” is anti-Semitic and has been for a long time.  The Soviets were virulently hateful toward Jews and treated Jews worse than the tsars did.  Iran, which routinely threatens the destruction of Israel, could be placed on the “far left” rather than the “far right” if we must subscribe to the illogical “ideological spectrum.”

What about grievances to victim groups?  Again, the Nazis based their entire argument for power on the victimization of the German people.  As with all lies by totalitarians, there was a smidgen of truth in Nazi complaining.  The Allies starved Germans after the Armistice to force better terms, and the Allies either denied plebiscites (in Austria and in Alsace-Lorraine) or ignored the results of plebiscites (in Silesia).  But this minor oppression of Germans never justified another world war or a holocaust. 

Why, then, do totalitarians continue to profess the existence of “extremist” groups on the ends of the “ideological spectrum”?  If there is no ideological spectrum, then facts, policy positions, and intellectual integrity are the only arguments for asking people to trust anyone with power.  We see in America some people who would love that to be the determining factor in elections and some people who would recoil in horror at that consequence.

What does the manifestation of so-called “far right” electoral successes really mean?  It means that some politicians are brave enough to deny the consolidation of power in tighter and smaller groups, which means an assertion of nationalism (or in America, federalism) and a rejection of such farcical illusions as the European Union or the United Nations.  It also means that voters are beginning to see the light, perhaps just before sunset.  This “far right” means also the decentralization of power right down to the individual and away from the state. 

It also means the assertion of historic values of Western civilization, and it means a defense of those values against totalitarians, which means radical Islam, Marxism, and all other groups who are intent upon the destruction of Western civilization.  These political movements in Britain, France, Germany, and Austria, and elsewhere in Europe, are “extremist” only in defending these vital and noble traditions against the real mobs and gangs of our planet.  We should hope these movements prevail in Europe and the rest of the Western world.  They are, in many ways, our only hope.

Few ideas are as silly or destructive as the idea that there is an “ideological spectrum” that has at one extreme Nazis and fascists and at the other end communists.  There is no “far right” that connects in any way with conservatism.  The communists and Nazis are not simply totalitarians, but totalitarians who believe in almost identical values.  That is why Orwell in 1984 could describe an Inner Party that everyone understands but fits nowhere on an “ideological spectrum.”

Moving too far in the direction of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater never, ever leads to totalitarianism, but moving too far in the direction of Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi always leads to totalitarianism.  All totalitarians believe in is power and all the goodies that flow from a monopoly of power.  That is why the vast majority of German communists joined the Nazi Party after it came to power and why practically all the Nazi leadership was composed of Marxists and radical socialists.

There was a reason why the word commu-Nazi was once on the lips of pundits in the free democratic West.  Nazis, communists, and fascists were virtually indistinguishable in their rhetoric, programs, and actions.  All hated God, particularly Christianity; all loved statism, particularly highly centralized statism (the destruction of the individuality of the states of Germany was noted in 1934 as the salient political change wrought by Nazis); and all demanded the rule by political party and not by normal government.

What is meant, then, by the “danger of the far right” – like what we have seen in recent European elections, particularly last month in Germany and this month in Austria?  If that danger is anti-Semitism, then we must grasp the grim fact that the notional “left” is anti-Semitic and has been for a long time.  The Soviets were virulently hateful toward Jews and treated Jews worse than the tsars did.  Iran, which routinely threatens the destruction of Israel, could be placed on the “far left” rather than the “far right” if we must subscribe to the illogical “ideological spectrum.”

What about grievances to victim groups?  Again, the Nazis based their entire argument for power on the victimization of the German people.  As with all lies by totalitarians, there was a smidgen of truth in Nazi complaining.  The Allies starved Germans after the Armistice to force better terms, and the Allies either denied plebiscites (in Austria and in Alsace-Lorraine) or ignored the results of plebiscites (in Silesia).  But this minor oppression of Germans never justified another world war or a holocaust. 

Why, then, do totalitarians continue to profess the existence of “extremist” groups on the ends of the “ideological spectrum”?  If there is no ideological spectrum, then facts, policy positions, and intellectual integrity are the only arguments for asking people to trust anyone with power.  We see in America some people who would love that to be the determining factor in elections and some people who would recoil in horror at that consequence.

What does the manifestation of so-called “far right” electoral successes really mean?  It means that some politicians are brave enough to deny the consolidation of power in tighter and smaller groups, which means an assertion of nationalism (or in America, federalism) and a rejection of such farcical illusions as the European Union or the United Nations.  It also means that voters are beginning to see the light, perhaps just before sunset.  This “far right” means also the decentralization of power right down to the individual and away from the state. 

It also means the assertion of historic values of Western civilization, and it means a defense of those values against totalitarians, which means radical Islam, Marxism, and all other groups who are intent upon the destruction of Western civilization.  These political movements in Britain, France, Germany, and Austria, and elsewhere in Europe, are “extremist” only in defending these vital and noble traditions against the real mobs and gangs of our planet.  We should hope these movements prevail in Europe and the rest of the Western world.  They are, in many ways, our only hope.



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We Are All Harvey Weinstein's Victims…and Enablers


The Harvey Weinstein story continues to reverberate, as new accusations, denunciations, or other consequences of his decades of sexual harassment seem to come to light every day.  Weinstein has dutifully been abandoned by company, industry, friends, politicians, and family.

The movie and television industry now appears to be focused on reassuring the public that the era of “sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.”  That appears to be a tall order.  Before such a declaration can be made, we must first understand what is “over.”  The scandal is about more than mere sexual misconduct or even rape.

Of all of the articles and accounts of this scandal, the most telling so far appeared in the Weekly Standard on October 9.  Lee Smith, instead of merely repeating fresh condemnations, focused on how Weinstein had gotten the industry to protect him for so long.  Weinstein’s power in both the movie and publishing industries insured that he could purchase an army of enablers.  But simply stating that fact does not go far enough.  One must imagine the relevant scenarios and take them to their logical conclusions, as does Smith:

They [the “journalists” who protected Weinstein] wouldn’t dream of crossing a guy who could turn them into culture heroes with a phone call. Hey, I just optioned your novel and I already know who’s going to make the movie. And oh yeah, please confirm that you don’t, like I think I may have heard, have a reporter looking into a story about me.

Imagine the implications of that scenario.  Weinstein’s sexual assaults became so frequent that his publishing and moviemaking decisions were geared toward covering up those assaults.  Those whose employees might be investigating Weinstein became prime candidates to have their articles turn into books and movies.  Instant stardom and riches awaited those who would keep quiet.  

Over the past thirty years, few individuals have exercised more influence over the national culture than Harvey Weinstein.  His movies have been well known.  At one time, “Miramax bought the rights to every big story published in magazines throughout [New York] city.”  His financial contributions bought access and more to the White House.  He made careers from Hollywood to New York to Washington.  I need not list his beneficiaries, but they are well known (some of whom now issue obligatory press releases denouncing Weinstein’s decades of mayhem).

Not only did this influence provide cover for Weinstein as he victimized Hollywood’s women, but it created a whole new class of victims who have been ignored over the past week (and apparently the previous few decades).  I refer to Hollywood’s consumers.  We complain about our choices in movies (and television).  We lament that there is nothing to watch (even though we spend exorbitant amounts to see and subscribe to these nothings).  There have always been theories as to why our entertainment lacks quality.  Now Harvey Weinstein has provided us with the most interesting theory of all.  If the Weekly Standard’s scenario is correct, then Weinstein’s choices in movies and even book options were motivated not by quality (or even his own bottom line), but by the need to cover up rape and sexual harassment.

The nation’s media now devote endless bandwidth to ever more breathless denunciations by those who were all too happy to take Weinstein’s money as long as the accusations could be squelched.  But instead of serving as a conduit for the press releases of Weinstein’s former allies and enablers, maybe our nation’s “journalists” should try a different approach.  Maybe they should research actual correlations between Weinstein’s movies and his cover-ups.  We now have enough accusations to span several decades of movie production and distribution.  How hard could it be for the New York Times or the Washington Post to figure out which Miramax movies resulted from which rape coverups?  Who was Weinstein paying off by approving or distributing which movie?

The Washington Post still takes credit for bringing down President Nixon in the Watergate scandal more than four decades ago.  The powers that be are still (as of 2017) writing books and making movies about Watergate.  Exploring the motivations behind particular movie investments should be child’s play by comparison.  There is enough material here for decades of new articles, books, and movies.

Weinstein’s offenses arguably have done more damage than anything that happened in the Watergate Hotel in 1972.  The movies that occupy our theaters (and enter our homes through cable and DVD) set the tone for our culture more than any other contributing factor.  That the purpose of those movies was to aid Weinstein in bribing journalists into silence would be of interest to the people who have devoted many hours of their leisure time to sitting through those movies.

In our naïveté, we expect that movie-makers try to make the best possible product.  We note continuity errors and inconsistencies in a storyline.  We criticize acting or directing and wonder why a particular scene (or the entire movie) is not somehow better.  But we have never considered that the game might be rigged from the start.  When expensive movie projects are “green-lighted” for the purpose of concealing sexual harassment, it becomes apparent that Hollywood has other motivations than our enjoyment (or even its own bottom line). 

If recent press releases are any indication, it appears that Weinstein was not alone.  The problem appears to be widespread.  Who knows how many movie deals resulted from the need to cover up some sex scandal?  How many scandals are our movie dollars suppressing?  Should we simply applaud Hollywood for belatedly denouncing Weinstein and then file back into the theaters?

Unlike the powers that be in Hollywood, the average consumer does not have money to waste for the purpose of hiding someone else’s sexual harassment scandal.  Our dollars are limited.  Our time is limited.  Yet we have dutifully entered the theaters and paid our cable bills for decades for the now apparent purpose of enabling an alleged rapist (and others).  Why bother to oppress the peasants when the peasants will oppress themselves? 

But we are not bound by the past.  Just because we have supported Hollywood and its various unknown agendas does not mean we must do so forever.  We have other things to do with our time.  We will never get back the hours we spent mesmerized in front of the screens (both big and small).  But now that the truth has blown up in all of our faces, what excuse do we have to continue filing into theaters and vegetating in front of our televisions?  While the whole truth may never be known, we need no longer care if we would only find something else to do and leave Hollywood to drown in its own swamp.

The Harvey Weinstein story continues to reverberate, as new accusations, denunciations, or other consequences of his decades of sexual harassment seem to come to light every day.  Weinstein has dutifully been abandoned by company, industry, friends, politicians, and family.

The movie and television industry now appears to be focused on reassuring the public that the era of “sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.”  That appears to be a tall order.  Before such a declaration can be made, we must first understand what is “over.”  The scandal is about more than mere sexual misconduct or even rape.

Of all of the articles and accounts of this scandal, the most telling so far appeared in the Weekly Standard on October 9.  Lee Smith, instead of merely repeating fresh condemnations, focused on how Weinstein had gotten the industry to protect him for so long.  Weinstein’s power in both the movie and publishing industries insured that he could purchase an army of enablers.  But simply stating that fact does not go far enough.  One must imagine the relevant scenarios and take them to their logical conclusions, as does Smith:

They [the “journalists” who protected Weinstein] wouldn’t dream of crossing a guy who could turn them into culture heroes with a phone call. Hey, I just optioned your novel and I already know who’s going to make the movie. And oh yeah, please confirm that you don’t, like I think I may have heard, have a reporter looking into a story about me.

Imagine the implications of that scenario.  Weinstein’s sexual assaults became so frequent that his publishing and moviemaking decisions were geared toward covering up those assaults.  Those whose employees might be investigating Weinstein became prime candidates to have their articles turn into books and movies.  Instant stardom and riches awaited those who would keep quiet.  

Over the past thirty years, few individuals have exercised more influence over the national culture than Harvey Weinstein.  His movies have been well known.  At one time, “Miramax bought the rights to every big story published in magazines throughout [New York] city.”  His financial contributions bought access and more to the White House.  He made careers from Hollywood to New York to Washington.  I need not list his beneficiaries, but they are well known (some of whom now issue obligatory press releases denouncing Weinstein’s decades of mayhem).

Not only did this influence provide cover for Weinstein as he victimized Hollywood’s women, but it created a whole new class of victims who have been ignored over the past week (and apparently the previous few decades).  I refer to Hollywood’s consumers.  We complain about our choices in movies (and television).  We lament that there is nothing to watch (even though we spend exorbitant amounts to see and subscribe to these nothings).  There have always been theories as to why our entertainment lacks quality.  Now Harvey Weinstein has provided us with the most interesting theory of all.  If the Weekly Standard’s scenario is correct, then Weinstein’s choices in movies and even book options were motivated not by quality (or even his own bottom line), but by the need to cover up rape and sexual harassment.

The nation’s media now devote endless bandwidth to ever more breathless denunciations by those who were all too happy to take Weinstein’s money as long as the accusations could be squelched.  But instead of serving as a conduit for the press releases of Weinstein’s former allies and enablers, maybe our nation’s “journalists” should try a different approach.  Maybe they should research actual correlations between Weinstein’s movies and his cover-ups.  We now have enough accusations to span several decades of movie production and distribution.  How hard could it be for the New York Times or the Washington Post to figure out which Miramax movies resulted from which rape coverups?  Who was Weinstein paying off by approving or distributing which movie?

The Washington Post still takes credit for bringing down President Nixon in the Watergate scandal more than four decades ago.  The powers that be are still (as of 2017) writing books and making movies about Watergate.  Exploring the motivations behind particular movie investments should be child’s play by comparison.  There is enough material here for decades of new articles, books, and movies.

Weinstein’s offenses arguably have done more damage than anything that happened in the Watergate Hotel in 1972.  The movies that occupy our theaters (and enter our homes through cable and DVD) set the tone for our culture more than any other contributing factor.  That the purpose of those movies was to aid Weinstein in bribing journalists into silence would be of interest to the people who have devoted many hours of their leisure time to sitting through those movies.

In our naïveté, we expect that movie-makers try to make the best possible product.  We note continuity errors and inconsistencies in a storyline.  We criticize acting or directing and wonder why a particular scene (or the entire movie) is not somehow better.  But we have never considered that the game might be rigged from the start.  When expensive movie projects are “green-lighted” for the purpose of concealing sexual harassment, it becomes apparent that Hollywood has other motivations than our enjoyment (or even its own bottom line). 

If recent press releases are any indication, it appears that Weinstein was not alone.  The problem appears to be widespread.  Who knows how many movie deals resulted from the need to cover up some sex scandal?  How many scandals are our movie dollars suppressing?  Should we simply applaud Hollywood for belatedly denouncing Weinstein and then file back into the theaters?

Unlike the powers that be in Hollywood, the average consumer does not have money to waste for the purpose of hiding someone else’s sexual harassment scandal.  Our dollars are limited.  Our time is limited.  Yet we have dutifully entered the theaters and paid our cable bills for decades for the now apparent purpose of enabling an alleged rapist (and others).  Why bother to oppress the peasants when the peasants will oppress themselves? 

But we are not bound by the past.  Just because we have supported Hollywood and its various unknown agendas does not mean we must do so forever.  We have other things to do with our time.  We will never get back the hours we spent mesmerized in front of the screens (both big and small).  But now that the truth has blown up in all of our faces, what excuse do we have to continue filing into theaters and vegetating in front of our televisions?  While the whole truth may never be known, we need no longer care if we would only find something else to do and leave Hollywood to drown in its own swamp.



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When Truth Becomes Obscene


The most appalling and troubling spectacle of the American Left’s bag of tricks is their refusal to simply tell the truth. Democratic representative Frederica Wilson, who resembles both a rodeo clown and a pimp from the movie Shaft, said that President Trump has a brain disorder because he told a widow whose husband died in the Special Forces that: “ he knew what he signed up for… but it hurts when it happens anyway.”

What’s wrong with that statement? Absolutely nothing. It does not detract an iota from the sadness and somberness of the man’s death, but it is true. What else would someone believe being in the Special Forces entailed? An intense game of Scrabble? Ferocious flour sack races at dusk? Death is on the menu.

Because of the deranged pearl clutching over someone telling the truth these days, President Trump has been prompted to deny this statement.  Another sunk cost of resources and time (the taxpayers pay for all this, remember?) where someone has to slow walk out of a statement because they said what actually is.

A schadenfreude that is fun when insomnia strikes is to watch clips of smug Hillary voters on Election Night around 9 P.M. Eastern Time. In an accurate use of the word, they are gobsmacked that Trump delivered a thrashing to big, bad Hillary.

How could they not know that Hillary Clinton would lose when she has the trustworthiness of saltwater crocodile circling a basket of pug puppies? Even undecided voters loathed her. But her supporter’s disbelief and outrage is genuine. Why is that?

The American Left’s entire political discourse is built on false language. Lies. Trickery. Fallacies. Where words do not mean what they actually mean. Where one cannot actually state the nature of an issue, in plain and common language, without being called a racist, white supremacist, fascist, homophobic, misogynist knuckle-dragger that deserves to have their head bashed with a threaded lead pipe.

Even though they are uncomfortable, facts are what we must have to survive as a country. Being a Special Forces soldier in sub-Saharan Africa is the definition of danger. One’s gender does not change on a random Tuesday when a man feels the inexplicable need to wear a Laura Ashley dress and smear blush over his beard stubble, or woman wants to shave her head, push a tube sock down her pants and call herself Tanner.

The people who need to be told Black Lives Matters are other blacks, the gang-bangers who fire off guns with the casualness we would buy a coffee and cheese Danish. Areas where large populations of blacks live are inherently unsafe, and even other blacks flee from these neighborhoods the day they have the necessary funds. (See the Obamas vacationing in Necker Island and Bali, and living in swanky, white parts of D.C and California, as opposed to the Baltimore Sandtown projects or Haiti).

That as gloomy as their plight may be, America does not have the resources to shelter immigrants, feed their children, and absorb their medical care as they send billions of untaxed dollars back to their relatives in Oaxaca. That a burkha is a symbol of dreadful oppression. That whites not willing to take responsibility for every act of savagery on the planet and known history are not white supremacists. 

If you cannot identify a problem with honesty, how do you fix it? What relationship ever flourished because one party had a relentless commitment to an agenda of deceit? 

Politically correct language is obscene because it is a language whose entire purpose is to swindle. Hurting someone’s tender feelings has become social leprosy, and anyone who is brave enough to speak truth will find themselves shunned by the elites who shape the narrative and hand out the goodies.

Because the only currency the Left values is stridently not calling something exactly as it is, they could not understand how to advise Hillary on how to be the one thing voters want most of all: to be sincere.

What if Hillary had taken the stage at the election debate where Trump gathered a group of women who stated they had been victims of Bill Clinton’s frantic machinations to get laid and said this:

I see you up there. I have been married to this old hound dog so long — it was just easier to stay. Shared histories, entangled finances.  He is a pervert. I was a snake to throw the intern Monica under the bus. But, I am old school, and believe marriage is for life. Going forward, I will do everything I can to make sure women have a place at the table. His disgusting behavior will in no way affect my leadership of this country.

World-shattering. The stuff of legends. Huma Abedin would have tackled her on stage to inject her in the neck with Xanax. The pundits would have trampled little old ladies in patriotic blue glitter hats to get to their laptops and cameras to rabidly macerate her speech for months.  

But she might have won.

Her tremendous ego and innate pig nature kept her from being honest and humble. Because to be honest is to be humble. To state that President Trump is humble at first blush sounds delusional.  But he is humble, and therefore honest; about the difficulties he is having with both sides of Congress and the media. He uses his Twitter account as a VPN line to tunnel through the false narrative to tell us what is really happening as he presides.

With a huge set of conjones, he gave the voters what everyone wants: blistering, searing honesty. Sometimes, waiting on a plane to take off or for my elderly dog to do his business in the rain, I imagine what I would do if granted five wishes. One of my wishes would be the super-power to force people to tell the truth.

Give it to me naked, raw, and wriggling. We all just want the painful facts. No one wants to be cheated; when someone deliberately withholds facts to your disadvantage and their advantage. We want it from our romantic partners, our families, our employers and the politicians who are paid with our money to make grave decisions that impact our lives.

Let us see how the sausage is made in government and in corporate America. We need to hear the pig squeal and watch the blood flow, as unsettling and barbaric as it may be. Let us decide if we want to eat the corn dog, or not.

The American Left cannot grasp this certainty: as long as President Trump continues to tell the American public the truth, none of their slanders, concocted spy stories or the daily sneering disrespect shown to millions of voters matter to us.

For with every unpolished, uncooked, honest Tweet that President Trump sends out in the early morning hours into the vast American darkness, we are rooting for him with every move he makes.

The most appalling and troubling spectacle of the American Left’s bag of tricks is their refusal to simply tell the truth. Democratic representative Frederica Wilson, who resembles both a rodeo clown and a pimp from the movie Shaft, said that President Trump has a brain disorder because he told a widow whose husband died in the Special Forces that: “ he knew what he signed up for… but it hurts when it happens anyway.”

What’s wrong with that statement? Absolutely nothing. It does not detract an iota from the sadness and somberness of the man’s death, but it is true. What else would someone believe being in the Special Forces entailed? An intense game of Scrabble? Ferocious flour sack races at dusk? Death is on the menu.

Because of the deranged pearl clutching over someone telling the truth these days, President Trump has been prompted to deny this statement.  Another sunk cost of resources and time (the taxpayers pay for all this, remember?) where someone has to slow walk out of a statement because they said what actually is.

A schadenfreude that is fun when insomnia strikes is to watch clips of smug Hillary voters on Election Night around 9 P.M. Eastern Time. In an accurate use of the word, they are gobsmacked that Trump delivered a thrashing to big, bad Hillary.

How could they not know that Hillary Clinton would lose when she has the trustworthiness of saltwater crocodile circling a basket of pug puppies? Even undecided voters loathed her. But her supporter’s disbelief and outrage is genuine. Why is that?

The American Left’s entire political discourse is built on false language. Lies. Trickery. Fallacies. Where words do not mean what they actually mean. Where one cannot actually state the nature of an issue, in plain and common language, without being called a racist, white supremacist, fascist, homophobic, misogynist knuckle-dragger that deserves to have their head bashed with a threaded lead pipe.

Even though they are uncomfortable, facts are what we must have to survive as a country. Being a Special Forces soldier in sub-Saharan Africa is the definition of danger. One’s gender does not change on a random Tuesday when a man feels the inexplicable need to wear a Laura Ashley dress and smear blush over his beard stubble, or woman wants to shave her head, push a tube sock down her pants and call herself Tanner.

The people who need to be told Black Lives Matters are other blacks, the gang-bangers who fire off guns with the casualness we would buy a coffee and cheese Danish. Areas where large populations of blacks live are inherently unsafe, and even other blacks flee from these neighborhoods the day they have the necessary funds. (See the Obamas vacationing in Necker Island and Bali, and living in swanky, white parts of D.C and California, as opposed to the Baltimore Sandtown projects or Haiti).

That as gloomy as their plight may be, America does not have the resources to shelter immigrants, feed their children, and absorb their medical care as they send billions of untaxed dollars back to their relatives in Oaxaca. That a burkha is a symbol of dreadful oppression. That whites not willing to take responsibility for every act of savagery on the planet and known history are not white supremacists. 

If you cannot identify a problem with honesty, how do you fix it? What relationship ever flourished because one party had a relentless commitment to an agenda of deceit? 

Politically correct language is obscene because it is a language whose entire purpose is to swindle. Hurting someone’s tender feelings has become social leprosy, and anyone who is brave enough to speak truth will find themselves shunned by the elites who shape the narrative and hand out the goodies.

Because the only currency the Left values is stridently not calling something exactly as it is, they could not understand how to advise Hillary on how to be the one thing voters want most of all: to be sincere.

What if Hillary had taken the stage at the election debate where Trump gathered a group of women who stated they had been victims of Bill Clinton’s frantic machinations to get laid and said this:

I see you up there. I have been married to this old hound dog so long — it was just easier to stay. Shared histories, entangled finances.  He is a pervert. I was a snake to throw the intern Monica under the bus. But, I am old school, and believe marriage is for life. Going forward, I will do everything I can to make sure women have a place at the table. His disgusting behavior will in no way affect my leadership of this country.

World-shattering. The stuff of legends. Huma Abedin would have tackled her on stage to inject her in the neck with Xanax. The pundits would have trampled little old ladies in patriotic blue glitter hats to get to their laptops and cameras to rabidly macerate her speech for months.  

But she might have won.

Her tremendous ego and innate pig nature kept her from being honest and humble. Because to be honest is to be humble. To state that President Trump is humble at first blush sounds delusional.  But he is humble, and therefore honest; about the difficulties he is having with both sides of Congress and the media. He uses his Twitter account as a VPN line to tunnel through the false narrative to tell us what is really happening as he presides.

With a huge set of conjones, he gave the voters what everyone wants: blistering, searing honesty. Sometimes, waiting on a plane to take off or for my elderly dog to do his business in the rain, I imagine what I would do if granted five wishes. One of my wishes would be the super-power to force people to tell the truth.

Give it to me naked, raw, and wriggling. We all just want the painful facts. No one wants to be cheated; when someone deliberately withholds facts to your disadvantage and their advantage. We want it from our romantic partners, our families, our employers and the politicians who are paid with our money to make grave decisions that impact our lives.

Let us see how the sausage is made in government and in corporate America. We need to hear the pig squeal and watch the blood flow, as unsettling and barbaric as it may be. Let us decide if we want to eat the corn dog, or not.

The American Left cannot grasp this certainty: as long as President Trump continues to tell the American public the truth, none of their slanders, concocted spy stories or the daily sneering disrespect shown to millions of voters matter to us.

For with every unpolished, uncooked, honest Tweet that President Trump sends out in the early morning hours into the vast American darkness, we are rooting for him with every move he makes.



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Reforming the 7th Circuit


Richard Posner recently retired from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago publicly, stating that he was retiring earlier than he had originally planned because of the mistreatment that the judges on the 7th Circuit were giving the pro se litigants. 

It was reported that Posner’s moving up his date of retirement was attributed to “difficulty” with his colleagues. Posner was quoted as saying “I was not getting along with the other judges because I was (and am) very concerned about how the court treats pro se litigants, who I believe deserve a better shake.”  Posner has said staff attorneys routinely prepare memos recommending a disposition of the appeal and the recommendation goes to a panel of judges, who often “rubber stamp” the staff attorney’s memo, which is usually to dismiss the appeal. 

Posner said “I gradually began to realize that this wasn’t right, what we were doing… The basic thing is that most judges regard these people as kind of trash not worth the time of a federal judge.” 

Chief Judge Diane Wood has publicly responded saying that Posner’s “…views about that Office are not shared by the other judges on the court, and his assumptions about the attitudes of the other judges toward pro se litigants are nothing more than that — assumptions.” 

The first important point here is that it is wrong for the judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to be regarding the people who are representing themselves as “trash,” as Posner contends. Wood says that Posner’s views in that regard aren’t shared by the other judges.  It is more than obvious that there is something very wrong here. Wood could certainly do more to assure the public that everything is on the up and up, as she is trying to portray, but her response falls woefully short. Merely saying that the judges who are the subject of Posner’s allegations “don’t share Posner’s views” about their alleged wrongdoing does nothing to reassure the public that the 7th Circuit’s attitude toward pro se litigants is as frivolous as Posner has alleged. 

Since the issues involve a high matter of public importance, there should be a very thorough investigation of the 7th Circuit.  Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4 explicitly states that an appeal is a matter of a “right.” The rule doesn’t give the judges of the 7th Circuit, or any circuit for that matter, any discretion in diminishing that right when it comes to a pro se appeal. Furthermore, the “Standards for Professional Conduct Within the Seventh Federal Judicial Circuit”, item 6, explicitly states “We will give the issues in controversy deliberate, impartial, and studied analysis and consideration.” Item 8 states “…that a litigant has a right to a fair and impartial hearing…”  A custom of systematically dismissing pro se appeals hardly meets the threshold standard of “…a right to a fair and impartial hearing…” 

It is a major red flag when judges aren’t even willing to follow the rules of their own court, and that certainly does appear to be the case with the judges in the 7th Circuit. Systematic discrimination by judges against a class of people, pro se litigants in this case, is wrong and against the law. Wood’s public response is not good enough. A grand jury should be empanelled and the judges and staff attorneys and law clerks should be required to testify under oath so that a factual determination may be made as to whether or not the judges on the 7th Circuit are systematically discriminating against the pro se litigants. 

At this point, it doesn’t look good for the 7th Circuit. Discrimination in our country is illegal on all fronts, and that includes judges who discriminate against a class of people who choose to or are forced to represent themselves in court. Wearing a black robe carries many benefits such as a large lifetime salary, but it doesn’t give judges any right to discriminate against a class of people as is apparently taking place in the 7th Circuit. The black robe worn by the judges of the 7th Circuit actually forbids it

Brian Vukadinovich is a retired teacher in Indiana.

Richard Posner recently retired from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago publicly, stating that he was retiring earlier than he had originally planned because of the mistreatment that the judges on the 7th Circuit were giving the pro se litigants. 

It was reported that Posner’s moving up his date of retirement was attributed to “difficulty” with his colleagues. Posner was quoted as saying “I was not getting along with the other judges because I was (and am) very concerned about how the court treats pro se litigants, who I believe deserve a better shake.”  Posner has said staff attorneys routinely prepare memos recommending a disposition of the appeal and the recommendation goes to a panel of judges, who often “rubber stamp” the staff attorney’s memo, which is usually to dismiss the appeal. 

Posner said “I gradually began to realize that this wasn’t right, what we were doing… The basic thing is that most judges regard these people as kind of trash not worth the time of a federal judge.” 

Chief Judge Diane Wood has publicly responded saying that Posner’s “…views about that Office are not shared by the other judges on the court, and his assumptions about the attitudes of the other judges toward pro se litigants are nothing more than that — assumptions.” 

The first important point here is that it is wrong for the judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to be regarding the people who are representing themselves as “trash,” as Posner contends. Wood says that Posner’s views in that regard aren’t shared by the other judges.  It is more than obvious that there is something very wrong here. Wood could certainly do more to assure the public that everything is on the up and up, as she is trying to portray, but her response falls woefully short. Merely saying that the judges who are the subject of Posner’s allegations “don’t share Posner’s views” about their alleged wrongdoing does nothing to reassure the public that the 7th Circuit’s attitude toward pro se litigants is as frivolous as Posner has alleged. 

Since the issues involve a high matter of public importance, there should be a very thorough investigation of the 7th Circuit.  Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4 explicitly states that an appeal is a matter of a “right.” The rule doesn’t give the judges of the 7th Circuit, or any circuit for that matter, any discretion in diminishing that right when it comes to a pro se appeal. Furthermore, the “Standards for Professional Conduct Within the Seventh Federal Judicial Circuit”, item 6, explicitly states “We will give the issues in controversy deliberate, impartial, and studied analysis and consideration.” Item 8 states “…that a litigant has a right to a fair and impartial hearing…”  A custom of systematically dismissing pro se appeals hardly meets the threshold standard of “…a right to a fair and impartial hearing…” 

It is a major red flag when judges aren’t even willing to follow the rules of their own court, and that certainly does appear to be the case with the judges in the 7th Circuit. Systematic discrimination by judges against a class of people, pro se litigants in this case, is wrong and against the law. Wood’s public response is not good enough. A grand jury should be empanelled and the judges and staff attorneys and law clerks should be required to testify under oath so that a factual determination may be made as to whether or not the judges on the 7th Circuit are systematically discriminating against the pro se litigants. 

At this point, it doesn’t look good for the 7th Circuit. Discrimination in our country is illegal on all fronts, and that includes judges who discriminate against a class of people who choose to or are forced to represent themselves in court. Wearing a black robe carries many benefits such as a large lifetime salary, but it doesn’t give judges any right to discriminate against a class of people as is apparently taking place in the 7th Circuit. The black robe worn by the judges of the 7th Circuit actually forbids it

Brian Vukadinovich is a retired teacher in Indiana.



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Jeff Sessions and the Conservative Talkers


Over the last few years a good guess suggests that at least 50% of conservative talk content has been devoted to the inter-connected scandals of:  Clinton-Rhodes-Lerner-Holder-Comey-Lynch-Powers-Rice-Mueller.  And, of course, their boss.  Let’s call it the Stack of Miscreants, after Rush Limbaugh’s Stack of Stuff.  The names, at this point, are all the reference we need.  We’re already steeped in the details.  Our Conservative Talk champions have drilled it into us year after year; day after day; hour after hour.

Yet now, after all the thousands of hours of skilled analysis and sometimes Churchillian rhetoric, Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin and their Conservative Talk kin appear to be content, watching their efforts to expose the Stack of Miscreants go wasted, because Jeff Sessions has decided to just let it slide. Where is their eloquence on this single point of failure?

Lois Lerner and the IRS are off the hook for Tea Party persecution, apparently.  Of all the scandals wasn’t this the most provable?  It seemed to be from Conservative Talk’s steady stream of analyses. Selective targeting of political groups. Destruction of data, trashing computers.  Pleading the fifth, requests for information obstructed and ignored.  All part of the historical record.  Everything already nicely laid out for a sane grand jury to authorize full prosecution.  Was Conservative Talk wrong about Lois Lerner?  Why aren’t you mad as hell at this? Why all the slack for Sessions?

In July, the refrain from Conservative Talk, responding to Trump’s (admittedly juvenile) bout of anti-Session twittering, was “give a guy a chance” and “let him do his job.”  Or how about the suggestion that behind the scenes crafty Jeff was lining up all his ducks for judgement day.  Well, after the get-out-of-jail-free card for Lois Lerner, that’s no longer a tenable view.  Jeff Session’s only justice craft appears to be finding ways to avoid prosecuting it.

The articles and blog posts calling for Session’s resignation are multiplying (and not just in American Thinker).  The once kindly looking old legislator now appears in internet images like an age-enfeebled, slightly creepy looking version of Stewie Griffin (ala “Family Guy”).  Except when Stewie’s around, there’s no lack of action.

Among the conservatives notables, only FOX News’ even-keeled Gregg Jarrett appears to have the guts to openly assess the performance of Jeff Sessions as impotent, meriting resignation or termination. But from Conservative Talk:  Nothing doing.  A couple disturbing incidents:  When a recent female caller to Rush Limbaugh referred to the Jarrett article, the grand master beat a hasty retreat to a commercial, which was perhaps unavoidable, but then never returned to what should have been a juicy, teachable moment.  And Rush loves teachable moments. Mark Levin, after a lengthy dissection of one scandal (I forget which one, but it hardly matters), concluded his effective argumentation with a bland, not-too-confidant, and I hope my friend Jeff Sessions is doing something about this.

Mr. Levin, your friend is not doing anything. As William Buckley asked his friend and President, Richard Nixon, to do the right thing for the country and resign, can you imagine that Jeff Sessions may now need the prompting of a true friend to step down himself, while still in some good standing with history.

Thought experiment:  Where would we be now with one of the following firebrands as AG? 

  • Jeanine Pirro,
  • Allan West,
  • Greg Abbott. 

Or someone else capable of getting through the senate, but also equipped with the intelligence and speech-making skills to implement a genuine offense against the former administration’s lawbreakers.  Imagine the non-stop flood of stories seizing the momentum in the media, overwhelming the fraudulent reporting of Russian-Trump collusion with a slew of fact-driven investigations into real collusions and real circumventions related to unmasking, Benghazi, Iran, pay to play Clinton Foundation schemes, etc.  Imagine the current status of the untethered Mueller investigation: (1) He’s never appointed in the first place.  (2) He gets appointed but with a defined deliverable within a defined time-frame, and Rosenstein gets a pink slip. (3) He gets appointed but is shamed into closing shop by a counter investigation into spending abuses and hiring a politically biased staff pursuing politically-biased aims.  (4) Or best of all, he simply gets terminated by Attorney General West-Pirro-Abbott for the abuses of number 3.

And now, as I watch my evening of FOX, Sean Hannity is relaying the latest in the Uranium One scandal, and it points to massive collusion and corruption by Mueller, Comey, Holder, Clinton, Lynch, and probably Obama.  Conclusive evidence we’re told. It just needs to be acted upon.  Will it be? Or will it just be another avenue for Jeff Sessions to demonstrate his remarkable capacity for doing nothing.

Sean, Rush, Mark, Conservative Talk as a group, to have any effect this time you must assail more than just the specific scandal, you must assail, simultaneously, the single point of senescence that currently occupies the AG’s seat, the mediocre obstructionist who has demonstrated over and over he will never, ever act.

Over the last few years a good guess suggests that at least 50% of conservative talk content has been devoted to the inter-connected scandals of:  Clinton-Rhodes-Lerner-Holder-Comey-Lynch-Powers-Rice-Mueller.  And, of course, their boss.  Let’s call it the Stack of Miscreants, after Rush Limbaugh’s Stack of Stuff.  The names, at this point, are all the reference we need.  We’re already steeped in the details.  Our Conservative Talk champions have drilled it into us year after year; day after day; hour after hour.

Yet now, after all the thousands of hours of skilled analysis and sometimes Churchillian rhetoric, Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin and their Conservative Talk kin appear to be content, watching their efforts to expose the Stack of Miscreants go wasted, because Jeff Sessions has decided to just let it slide. Where is their eloquence on this single point of failure?

Lois Lerner and the IRS are off the hook for Tea Party persecution, apparently.  Of all the scandals wasn’t this the most provable?  It seemed to be from Conservative Talk’s steady stream of analyses. Selective targeting of political groups. Destruction of data, trashing computers.  Pleading the fifth, requests for information obstructed and ignored.  All part of the historical record.  Everything already nicely laid out for a sane grand jury to authorize full prosecution.  Was Conservative Talk wrong about Lois Lerner?  Why aren’t you mad as hell at this? Why all the slack for Sessions?

In July, the refrain from Conservative Talk, responding to Trump’s (admittedly juvenile) bout of anti-Session twittering, was “give a guy a chance” and “let him do his job.”  Or how about the suggestion that behind the scenes crafty Jeff was lining up all his ducks for judgement day.  Well, after the get-out-of-jail-free card for Lois Lerner, that’s no longer a tenable view.  Jeff Session’s only justice craft appears to be finding ways to avoid prosecuting it.

The articles and blog posts calling for Session’s resignation are multiplying (and not just in American Thinker).  The once kindly looking old legislator now appears in internet images like an age-enfeebled, slightly creepy looking version of Stewie Griffin (ala “Family Guy”).  Except when Stewie’s around, there’s no lack of action.

Among the conservatives notables, only FOX News’ even-keeled Gregg Jarrett appears to have the guts to openly assess the performance of Jeff Sessions as impotent, meriting resignation or termination. But from Conservative Talk:  Nothing doing.  A couple disturbing incidents:  When a recent female caller to Rush Limbaugh referred to the Jarrett article, the grand master beat a hasty retreat to a commercial, which was perhaps unavoidable, but then never returned to what should have been a juicy, teachable moment.  And Rush loves teachable moments. Mark Levin, after a lengthy dissection of one scandal (I forget which one, but it hardly matters), concluded his effective argumentation with a bland, not-too-confidant, and I hope my friend Jeff Sessions is doing something about this.

Mr. Levin, your friend is not doing anything. As William Buckley asked his friend and President, Richard Nixon, to do the right thing for the country and resign, can you imagine that Jeff Sessions may now need the prompting of a true friend to step down himself, while still in some good standing with history.

Thought experiment:  Where would we be now with one of the following firebrands as AG? 

  • Jeanine Pirro,
  • Allan West,
  • Greg Abbott. 

Or someone else capable of getting through the senate, but also equipped with the intelligence and speech-making skills to implement a genuine offense against the former administration’s lawbreakers.  Imagine the non-stop flood of stories seizing the momentum in the media, overwhelming the fraudulent reporting of Russian-Trump collusion with a slew of fact-driven investigations into real collusions and real circumventions related to unmasking, Benghazi, Iran, pay to play Clinton Foundation schemes, etc.  Imagine the current status of the untethered Mueller investigation: (1) He’s never appointed in the first place.  (2) He gets appointed but with a defined deliverable within a defined time-frame, and Rosenstein gets a pink slip. (3) He gets appointed but is shamed into closing shop by a counter investigation into spending abuses and hiring a politically biased staff pursuing politically-biased aims.  (4) Or best of all, he simply gets terminated by Attorney General West-Pirro-Abbott for the abuses of number 3.

And now, as I watch my evening of FOX, Sean Hannity is relaying the latest in the Uranium One scandal, and it points to massive collusion and corruption by Mueller, Comey, Holder, Clinton, Lynch, and probably Obama.  Conclusive evidence we’re told. It just needs to be acted upon.  Will it be? Or will it just be another avenue for Jeff Sessions to demonstrate his remarkable capacity for doing nothing.

Sean, Rush, Mark, Conservative Talk as a group, to have any effect this time you must assail more than just the specific scandal, you must assail, simultaneously, the single point of senescence that currently occupies the AG’s seat, the mediocre obstructionist who has demonstrated over and over he will never, ever act.



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The Cuban Affair: Nelson DeMille Exposes the Communist Paradise


The Cuban Affair by bestselling author Nelson DeMille is a realistic portrayal within an action-packed story.  DeMille participated in a Yale University-affiliated educational tour that provided him with an insider look at Cuba, including the culture and history.  Drawing from this experience, he has created a novel surrounding accurately portrayed facts.

Newt Gingrich’s 1984 description of the Democrats can apply today: “Every time a communist movement takes power, Democratic congressmen say it will be fair, progressive, enlightened … and give the benefit of doubt to Marxist regimes.”  This became evident when President Obama visited Cuba and did the wave during a baseball game, making it appear that this is a fun-loving Caribbean island.  Yet DeMille shows the direct opposite: overwhelming poverty, a police state, and a violator of human rights.

Through his characters, DeMille points out how “[i]n Cuba, guilt or innocence is not important.  Politics are important.  Let me remind you that your compatriot Alan Gross received a fifteen-year sentence for spying and spent five years in prison, and he was innocent.”

Alan Gross was imprisoned in Cuba from 2009 to 2014 basically for being a U.S. contractor employed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.  In March 2011, he was convicted of “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”  Gross told American Thinker he gives DeMille high marks for grasping the reality on the ground regarding life in Cuba. 

DeMille’s story paints a clear picture of the communist regime as a police state.  A powerful quote: “The Communists, like the radical Islamists are not fun-loving people[.] … The Ministry of the Interior – the ministry of torture and repression.”  Gross agrees and describes the government as “slave laborers, corrupt, and criminal.  I was put in isolation with two other Cubans.  The first year, we were never allowed to go outside.  After that, we were allowed outside for an hour.  During that first year, I was not allowed to have TV, radio, books, magazines, or even paper and pen, and the lights were on 24/7.  I was cut off from all mental stimulation.”

He went on to say, “It is a police state, a failed state.  They thrive on enslaving a population while enriching themselves.  Socialism and communism have failed.  Castro was a megalomaniac who was worth about 900 million dollars when he died.  Compare that to the per capita monthly income of about $23 a month.”

The description of Villa Marista prison in the novel is accurate, according to Gross.  It is a place that uses physical and psychological torture, destroying the soul and having the political prisoners become the walking dead.  Gross spent about eight weeks there and still remembers the tiny cells without any windows, with only slants for ventilation.  “While in Cuba, I lost 114 pounds because my food was full of ants and roaches.  The only time they served me meat, it was pork, and that was on Rosh Hashanah, probably because I am Jewish.  They are purely morally corrupt.”

One of the characters of the book, a Cuban-American, speaks of “wanting justice to all who had suffered at the hands of these godless monsters.  The return of our property, and the right to return to Cuba[.] … The problem is actually the improved relations.”  DeMille explained to American Thinker, “The contemplated treaty between the U.S. and Cuba will address the question of compensation for American assets that were seized when Castro took over.  These are now worth billions.  But in exchange, the regime insists that the U.S. legitimize its appropriation of all private property and money seized from Cuban citizens.  For the Cubans who lost everything, there will be nothing.  Most of the people who came to Miami when the communists seized power left houses, factories, and huge businesses.  They want their property back, and that’s going to be a big issue as normalization moves forward.  The current regime has no intention of returning property to those who left.  Unfortunately, we are not pushing.”

Gross noted that some Cuban exiles who have visited the homes left behind saw that everything was still there, including the furniture.  “It is despicable.  It is like what the Nazis and the communists did to the Jews after they appropriated their property.”

Where DeMille and Gross differ is on the trade embargo. DeMille supports it: “[t]here is no reason for the mass poverty in Cuba, because they are trading with everyone else.  The poverty is due to their economic system.  Even though they are opened up to 95% of the world, they still cannot get their economy together.  The press never reports that we are not embargoing medical supplies.  It is a repressive regime with a subjugated population that isolates itself.”

Gross disagrees and has become an advocate for the elimination of the embargo.  He thinks constructive engagement is an important ingredient to solve problems.  “If we had diplomatic relations or even an informal avenue, I might not have had to forfeit five years of my life.  Trying to punish the government really punishes the people.  We are punishing the punished.  You cannot open something up by closing it down.”

DeMille and Gross emphasize that unlike the Cuban government, the people are generous, kind, and warm-hearted.  They are incredibly resilient.  Even so, DeMille has had his fill of the repressive regime in Cuba and would not return in its current form, while Gross wants to go back to “meet the families of my cellmates who fed me for five years during their weekly visitations.  They sustained me.”

DeMille summarizes to American Thinker his impression of Cuba: “if I hadn’t gone to Cuba, I could not have written this book.  I saw firsthand that the people have no property rights, human rights, and civil rights.  You cannot have a country that is repressive and also have a booming economy.  Even though it is the real pearl of the Caribbean, filled with historical cities, a great culture, and a beautiful countryside, it is currently the big black hole.”

This book, beyond its riveting adventure story, is realistic, as readers experience with the characters, the Cuban regime, and Cuban policies.  Although it is a fictional story, DeMille is known for doing impeccable research, where there is a fine line between truth and fiction.

One thing is certain: The Cuban Affair will not be on the top ten list in Cuba, nor will it be used to promote tourism there.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

The Cuban Affair by bestselling author Nelson DeMille is a realistic portrayal within an action-packed story.  DeMille participated in a Yale University-affiliated educational tour that provided him with an insider look at Cuba, including the culture and history.  Drawing from this experience, he has created a novel surrounding accurately portrayed facts.

Newt Gingrich’s 1984 description of the Democrats can apply today: “Every time a communist movement takes power, Democratic congressmen say it will be fair, progressive, enlightened … and give the benefit of doubt to Marxist regimes.”  This became evident when President Obama visited Cuba and did the wave during a baseball game, making it appear that this is a fun-loving Caribbean island.  Yet DeMille shows the direct opposite: overwhelming poverty, a police state, and a violator of human rights.

Through his characters, DeMille points out how “[i]n Cuba, guilt or innocence is not important.  Politics are important.  Let me remind you that your compatriot Alan Gross received a fifteen-year sentence for spying and spent five years in prison, and he was innocent.”

Alan Gross was imprisoned in Cuba from 2009 to 2014 basically for being a U.S. contractor employed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.  In March 2011, he was convicted of “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”  Gross told American Thinker he gives DeMille high marks for grasping the reality on the ground regarding life in Cuba. 

DeMille’s story paints a clear picture of the communist regime as a police state.  A powerful quote: “The Communists, like the radical Islamists are not fun-loving people[.] … The Ministry of the Interior – the ministry of torture and repression.”  Gross agrees and describes the government as “slave laborers, corrupt, and criminal.  I was put in isolation with two other Cubans.  The first year, we were never allowed to go outside.  After that, we were allowed outside for an hour.  During that first year, I was not allowed to have TV, radio, books, magazines, or even paper and pen, and the lights were on 24/7.  I was cut off from all mental stimulation.”

He went on to say, “It is a police state, a failed state.  They thrive on enslaving a population while enriching themselves.  Socialism and communism have failed.  Castro was a megalomaniac who was worth about 900 million dollars when he died.  Compare that to the per capita monthly income of about $23 a month.”

The description of Villa Marista prison in the novel is accurate, according to Gross.  It is a place that uses physical and psychological torture, destroying the soul and having the political prisoners become the walking dead.  Gross spent about eight weeks there and still remembers the tiny cells without any windows, with only slants for ventilation.  “While in Cuba, I lost 114 pounds because my food was full of ants and roaches.  The only time they served me meat, it was pork, and that was on Rosh Hashanah, probably because I am Jewish.  They are purely morally corrupt.”

One of the characters of the book, a Cuban-American, speaks of “wanting justice to all who had suffered at the hands of these godless monsters.  The return of our property, and the right to return to Cuba[.] … The problem is actually the improved relations.”  DeMille explained to American Thinker, “The contemplated treaty between the U.S. and Cuba will address the question of compensation for American assets that were seized when Castro took over.  These are now worth billions.  But in exchange, the regime insists that the U.S. legitimize its appropriation of all private property and money seized from Cuban citizens.  For the Cubans who lost everything, there will be nothing.  Most of the people who came to Miami when the communists seized power left houses, factories, and huge businesses.  They want their property back, and that’s going to be a big issue as normalization moves forward.  The current regime has no intention of returning property to those who left.  Unfortunately, we are not pushing.”

Gross noted that some Cuban exiles who have visited the homes left behind saw that everything was still there, including the furniture.  “It is despicable.  It is like what the Nazis and the communists did to the Jews after they appropriated their property.”

Where DeMille and Gross differ is on the trade embargo. DeMille supports it: “[t]here is no reason for the mass poverty in Cuba, because they are trading with everyone else.  The poverty is due to their economic system.  Even though they are opened up to 95% of the world, they still cannot get their economy together.  The press never reports that we are not embargoing medical supplies.  It is a repressive regime with a subjugated population that isolates itself.”

Gross disagrees and has become an advocate for the elimination of the embargo.  He thinks constructive engagement is an important ingredient to solve problems.  “If we had diplomatic relations or even an informal avenue, I might not have had to forfeit five years of my life.  Trying to punish the government really punishes the people.  We are punishing the punished.  You cannot open something up by closing it down.”

DeMille and Gross emphasize that unlike the Cuban government, the people are generous, kind, and warm-hearted.  They are incredibly resilient.  Even so, DeMille has had his fill of the repressive regime in Cuba and would not return in its current form, while Gross wants to go back to “meet the families of my cellmates who fed me for five years during their weekly visitations.  They sustained me.”

DeMille summarizes to American Thinker his impression of Cuba: “if I hadn’t gone to Cuba, I could not have written this book.  I saw firsthand that the people have no property rights, human rights, and civil rights.  You cannot have a country that is repressive and also have a booming economy.  Even though it is the real pearl of the Caribbean, filled with historical cities, a great culture, and a beautiful countryside, it is currently the big black hole.”

This book, beyond its riveting adventure story, is realistic, as readers experience with the characters, the Cuban regime, and Cuban policies.  Although it is a fictional story, DeMille is known for doing impeccable research, where there is a fine line between truth and fiction.

One thing is certain: The Cuban Affair will not be on the top ten list in Cuba, nor will it be used to promote tourism there.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.



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The Evolutionary Origins of Human Morality


In February 2008, Jonathan Haidt gave a TED Talk on the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. The talk made Haidt America’s most well-known moral psychologist. Haidt would go on to found Heterodox Academy, an organization dedicated to promoting view point diversity at universities.

While Haidt is better known for his work promoting intellectual diversity and his remarkably blunt critique of the campus left, his 2012 book, The Righteous Mind, provides much-needed background on the science informing his positions. The Righteous Mind explores human morality from an evolutionary-psychology perspective; the book is less “Conservatives are from Mars, liberals are from Venus,” and more “Sociobology: the new synthesis.”

When Haidt began graduate school, moral psychology was dominated by what Haidt refers to as “the moral rationalists.” These were scholars such as Lawrence Kohlberg, Jean Piaget, and Elliot Turiel.

The rationalists believed that one’s morality develops in much the same way that one’s understanding of the physical world develops. Most of us had some idea that gravity existed prior to taking a physics class. Through our experience with the physical world we deduced underlying principles of the physical world, even if we couldn’t define them in the precise terms of a scientist.

In the rationalist account, children discover morality in much the same manner. By interacting with other children we learn that our relations with others are governed by abstract rules. At a certain stage, we learn to distinguish between immutable moral principles and mere social conventions: recess is at 1 P.M., because the principal says so; hurting other children is wrong, regardless of what the principal or the teacher says.

While Haidt was indoctrinated into the rationalist paradigm, intuition told him something didn’t make sense. His childhood experiences were rather different from Kohlberg’s. In Haidt’s recollection, he and his sisters reasoned opportunistically, attempting to gain the upper hand on each other, rather than trying to discover the truth.

When psychologists examined other cultures, moral rationalism began to crumble. The moral rationalists put a great deal of emphasis on harm and fairness as the basis of morality, but people in non-Western countries seemed to have a broader set of moral concerns. What Kohlberg saw as the final stages of an individual’s moral development seemed to be the norms of a particular culture and not the inevitable endpoint of reason.

In a series of brilliant experiments, Haidt and others demonstrated that judgment precedes reasoning. In other words, we make judgments and then employ our reasoning to justify these judgments, or as Haidt puts it, “intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second.”

In The Righteous Mind, Haidt attempts to describe our moral intuitions, to catalogue the things we intuitively care about with regard to moral judgment. Haidt defines five “moral foundations:” harm, fairness, loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Haidt tentatively proposes a sixth moral foundation, liberty/oppression, which he describes as a sort of innate sensitivity toward tyranny.

In Haidt’s retelling, our minds are preloaded to care about certain things. When we see another person suffering, we respond viscerally and automatically. However, we are not just sensitive toward the suffering of others, we also care about fairness, authority, sanctity, and liberty. If you cringe when you witness children disrespecting their parents, your authority foundation has been activated.

According to Haidt, most of us share the same five or six moral foundations, but we care about them to varying degrees. Conservatives utilize all of the foundations equally when making judgments. However, liberals tend to emphasize the first two much more strongly. For Haidt, this partially explains why our politics are so polarized.

In the final section of his book, Haidt attempts to solve a core dilemma of evolutionary psychology: why are humans altruistic?

From the simplest Darwinian perspective, the most successful strategy would be pure selfishness. On an individual level, it seems that the selfish would outcompete the altruistic, and altruistic genes would be washed out of the gene pool.

However, if we move up from the level of the individual to the level of the group, altruism is very beneficial. Cooperative groups outcompete selfish individuals for resources. Once people began living in groups, cooperation became more important, and more cooperative groups out-competed less cooperative groups. This was, according to Haidt, the origin of human morality.

Jonathan Haidt does a thorough job of debunking the naive moral rationalism of psychologists such as Lawrence Kohlberg. Haidt offers a plausible explanation for the emergence of human morality; group level selection favored more cohesive groups of people, and this selected for altruistic genes. Haidt’s moral foundation theory, along with his description of the differences between liberals and conservatives, is promising, but it needs to be tested by other researchers.

While I found The Righteous Mind persuasive, I worry that Haidt has given short shrift to moral rationalism. His book details how easily human intuitions can be manipulated by researchers; given this, shouldn’t we be cautious about trusting our intuitions? Also, the people we admire most really do appear to be acting from a sort of Kantian motive of duty, defying group pressure in order to do what’s right.

Haidt’s book suggests two very different readings. One could conclude that everyone else is irrational, driven by gut feelings and immune to reason. One could also conclude that everyone, including oneself, employs reason to justify their beliefs; therefore, one should be humble about one’s beliefs. If readers adopt the second interpretation, Haidt’s book will be a success.

In February 2008, Jonathan Haidt gave a TED Talk on the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. The talk made Haidt America’s most well-known moral psychologist. Haidt would go on to found Heterodox Academy, an organization dedicated to promoting view point diversity at universities.

While Haidt is better known for his work promoting intellectual diversity and his remarkably blunt critique of the campus left, his 2012 book, The Righteous Mind, provides much-needed background on the science informing his positions. The Righteous Mind explores human morality from an evolutionary-psychology perspective; the book is less “Conservatives are from Mars, liberals are from Venus,” and more “Sociobology: the new synthesis.”

When Haidt began graduate school, moral psychology was dominated by what Haidt refers to as “the moral rationalists.” These were scholars such as Lawrence Kohlberg, Jean Piaget, and Elliot Turiel.

The rationalists believed that one’s morality develops in much the same way that one’s understanding of the physical world develops. Most of us had some idea that gravity existed prior to taking a physics class. Through our experience with the physical world we deduced underlying principles of the physical world, even if we couldn’t define them in the precise terms of a scientist.

In the rationalist account, children discover morality in much the same manner. By interacting with other children we learn that our relations with others are governed by abstract rules. At a certain stage, we learn to distinguish between immutable moral principles and mere social conventions: recess is at 1 P.M., because the principal says so; hurting other children is wrong, regardless of what the principal or the teacher says.

While Haidt was indoctrinated into the rationalist paradigm, intuition told him something didn’t make sense. His childhood experiences were rather different from Kohlberg’s. In Haidt’s recollection, he and his sisters reasoned opportunistically, attempting to gain the upper hand on each other, rather than trying to discover the truth.

When psychologists examined other cultures, moral rationalism began to crumble. The moral rationalists put a great deal of emphasis on harm and fairness as the basis of morality, but people in non-Western countries seemed to have a broader set of moral concerns. What Kohlberg saw as the final stages of an individual’s moral development seemed to be the norms of a particular culture and not the inevitable endpoint of reason.

In a series of brilliant experiments, Haidt and others demonstrated that judgment precedes reasoning. In other words, we make judgments and then employ our reasoning to justify these judgments, or as Haidt puts it, “intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second.”

In The Righteous Mind, Haidt attempts to describe our moral intuitions, to catalogue the things we intuitively care about with regard to moral judgment. Haidt defines five “moral foundations:” harm, fairness, loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Haidt tentatively proposes a sixth moral foundation, liberty/oppression, which he describes as a sort of innate sensitivity toward tyranny.

In Haidt’s retelling, our minds are preloaded to care about certain things. When we see another person suffering, we respond viscerally and automatically. However, we are not just sensitive toward the suffering of others, we also care about fairness, authority, sanctity, and liberty. If you cringe when you witness children disrespecting their parents, your authority foundation has been activated.

According to Haidt, most of us share the same five or six moral foundations, but we care about them to varying degrees. Conservatives utilize all of the foundations equally when making judgments. However, liberals tend to emphasize the first two much more strongly. For Haidt, this partially explains why our politics are so polarized.

In the final section of his book, Haidt attempts to solve a core dilemma of evolutionary psychology: why are humans altruistic?

From the simplest Darwinian perspective, the most successful strategy would be pure selfishness. On an individual level, it seems that the selfish would outcompete the altruistic, and altruistic genes would be washed out of the gene pool.

However, if we move up from the level of the individual to the level of the group, altruism is very beneficial. Cooperative groups outcompete selfish individuals for resources. Once people began living in groups, cooperation became more important, and more cooperative groups out-competed less cooperative groups. This was, according to Haidt, the origin of human morality.

Jonathan Haidt does a thorough job of debunking the naive moral rationalism of psychologists such as Lawrence Kohlberg. Haidt offers a plausible explanation for the emergence of human morality; group level selection favored more cohesive groups of people, and this selected for altruistic genes. Haidt’s moral foundation theory, along with his description of the differences between liberals and conservatives, is promising, but it needs to be tested by other researchers.

While I found The Righteous Mind persuasive, I worry that Haidt has given short shrift to moral rationalism. His book details how easily human intuitions can be manipulated by researchers; given this, shouldn’t we be cautious about trusting our intuitions? Also, the people we admire most really do appear to be acting from a sort of Kantian motive of duty, defying group pressure in order to do what’s right.

Haidt’s book suggests two very different readings. One could conclude that everyone else is irrational, driven by gut feelings and immune to reason. One could also conclude that everyone, including oneself, employs reason to justify their beliefs; therefore, one should be humble about one’s beliefs. If readers adopt the second interpretation, Haidt’s book will be a success.



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China's War Timing Firming Up


Part of Obama’s baleful legacy is that during the Scarborough Shoal Incident of April to June 2012, the Filipino president travelled to Washington to ask Obama for U.S. support. Obama didn’t offer support, no operational support followed and China read that as the signal to seize territory from a U.S. ally. As is the usual pattern, the consequence of not dealing forcefully against a minor aggression will lead to a much bigger war down the track.

The Chinese leader that organised the seizure of Scarborough Shoal, Xi Jinping, became a national hero and that gave him the political momentum to see off rivals to become president of the People’s Republic of China the following year. As retired U.S. Navy captain James Fanell noted, while in the West the Scarborough seizure was treated as a minor fisheries dispute, Chinese scholars recognized the significance of Xi’s template for mooting U.S. alliances by undercutting confidence in defense agreements, calling it the ‘Scarborough Model’.

Emboldened by Obama’s acquiescence, China is preparing for a “short, sharp war” to seize the Senkaku Islands from Japan. They are building specialised equipment to that end. Again from Captain Fanell:

Size matters in confrontations at sea, especially between coast guard vessels. As China has sought more of its neighbors’ maritime sovereignty, it has built ever-larger coast guard ships. These are intended to enable its civil maritime forces to carry out China’s  campaign more aggressively (having the biggest ship on scene), and to conduct them at  increasing distances from China’s coastline. As such, China has demonstrated its commitment to have the largest coast guard vessels in the Asia Pacific region. In 2014, China commissioned the largest coast guard cutter in the world, at 12,000 tons, the Zhongguo Haijing 2901. This cutter first went to sea for the first time in May 2015 and is subordinated to the East China Sea area of responsibility. A second ship of the class, CCG 3901, was completed and made ready for operations in January 2016. The Communist Party’s People’s Daily made the purpose of these ships crystal-clear, stating they were designed to have “the power to smash into a vessel weighing more than 20,000 tons and will not cause any damage to itself when confronting a vessel weighing under 9,000 tons. It can also destroy a 5,000-ton ship and sink it to the sea floor.”

Note carefully the combat assault mission of these Chinese Coast Guard ships.

Sinking ships by ramming is a throwback to how triremes did battle in the Mediterranean. It also tells us how China plans to start its war. The super-sized Chinese coast guard ships will ram and sink Japanese coast guard vessels. When the Japanese Navy responds by sinking the Chinese coast guard ships, the Chinese PLA Navy will come over the horizon with amphibious assault ships. China will claim to be the aggrieved party and offer to end hostilities, leaving it in possession of what it seized.

The Chinese have been doing some dry runs for the conflict to come. Around midday on August 5th, 2016, some 200 to 300 Chinese fishing boats swarmed into the contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands of Kuban and Uotsuri, followed by 15 Chinese coast guard vessels by August 9th. Come the actual battle, there will be hundreds of Chinese vessels to be sunk, much like plinking tanks in the deserts of the Middle East.

China’s intent is plain, the next question is the timing. The Communist Party of China has directed the People’s Liberation Army to transform itself into a force that will be ready to take Taiwan by 2020. A Senkaku campaign will be a lot easier than subduing Taiwan, and possession of the Senkakus in turn will make the Taiwan campaign easier to mount by partial envelopment of that island. The PLA Navy is still expanding and China might not start its war until its navy is somewhat larger than it is now. Of particular interest is a new class of amphibious assault ships, the Type 075. Approximately the size of the U.S. Navy’s Wasp-class ships, the Type 075 is projected to carry up to 30 helicopters and have the ability to launch six helicopters simultaneously. The first Type 075 class may be launched in 2019 and in service in 2020. Another four might be built by 2025.

There are a few other considerations which have the potential to bring forward China’s war plans. China’s economic growth is mostly debt-funded construction of unproductive assets, so China’s debt to GDP ratio continues to climb. Everyone knows this is unsustainable, that it will end in tears but nobody knows when. A stalling economy and tens of millions of personal bankruptcies as China’s real estate bubble pops would encourage the regime to distract the public with a foreign military adventure. Then there is the question of China’s energy supply. China’s strategic petroleum reserve is estimated to be about 700 million barrels and still building at one million barrels per day. The Chinese reserve will probably keep building until the day the war starts and U.S. and Japanese submarines begin sinking Chinese tankers.

But the big story in energy, internationally, is the projected peaking of Chinese coal production in 2020 before it starts falling away due to resource exhaustion. Chinese coal production of over four billion tons per annum is about four times the U.S. production level. Coal is the source of two thirds of power generation in China, about the same for chemical feedstocks and is the source of all the nitrogenous fertiliser they use. The energy content of Chinese coal production is equivalent to 58 million barrels of oil per day. The production cost of coal, and thus the cost of doing everything in China, will start rising once production has peaked. It is unlikely that China’s nuclear power sector will expand fast enough to compensate. Thus China’s competitiveness relative to countries that have plenty of coal remaining will fall. This will factor into President Xi’s timing of his war.

Now is the time to ask Lenin’s question “What is to be done?” The important thing is to shun anything made in China because that just funds their aggression. Choose the Samsung offering over the iPhone for no other reason. And be nice to any Japanese or Vietnamese you meet. We need them to have courage.

David Archibald is the author of American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare

Part of Obama’s baleful legacy is that during the Scarborough Shoal Incident of April to June 2012, the Filipino president travelled to Washington to ask Obama for U.S. support. Obama didn’t offer support, no operational support followed and China read that as the signal to seize territory from a U.S. ally. As is the usual pattern, the consequence of not dealing forcefully against a minor aggression will lead to a much bigger war down the track.

The Chinese leader that organised the seizure of Scarborough Shoal, Xi Jinping, became a national hero and that gave him the political momentum to see off rivals to become president of the People’s Republic of China the following year. As retired U.S. Navy captain James Fanell noted, while in the West the Scarborough seizure was treated as a minor fisheries dispute, Chinese scholars recognized the significance of Xi’s template for mooting U.S. alliances by undercutting confidence in defense agreements, calling it the ‘Scarborough Model’.

Emboldened by Obama’s acquiescence, China is preparing for a “short, sharp war” to seize the Senkaku Islands from Japan. They are building specialised equipment to that end. Again from Captain Fanell:

Size matters in confrontations at sea, especially between coast guard vessels. As China has sought more of its neighbors’ maritime sovereignty, it has built ever-larger coast guard ships. These are intended to enable its civil maritime forces to carry out China’s  campaign more aggressively (having the biggest ship on scene), and to conduct them at  increasing distances from China’s coastline. As such, China has demonstrated its commitment to have the largest coast guard vessels in the Asia Pacific region. In 2014, China commissioned the largest coast guard cutter in the world, at 12,000 tons, the Zhongguo Haijing 2901. This cutter first went to sea for the first time in May 2015 and is subordinated to the East China Sea area of responsibility. A second ship of the class, CCG 3901, was completed and made ready for operations in January 2016. The Communist Party’s People’s Daily made the purpose of these ships crystal-clear, stating they were designed to have “the power to smash into a vessel weighing more than 20,000 tons and will not cause any damage to itself when confronting a vessel weighing under 9,000 tons. It can also destroy a 5,000-ton ship and sink it to the sea floor.”

Note carefully the combat assault mission of these Chinese Coast Guard ships.

Sinking ships by ramming is a throwback to how triremes did battle in the Mediterranean. It also tells us how China plans to start its war. The super-sized Chinese coast guard ships will ram and sink Japanese coast guard vessels. When the Japanese Navy responds by sinking the Chinese coast guard ships, the Chinese PLA Navy will come over the horizon with amphibious assault ships. China will claim to be the aggrieved party and offer to end hostilities, leaving it in possession of what it seized.

The Chinese have been doing some dry runs for the conflict to come. Around midday on August 5th, 2016, some 200 to 300 Chinese fishing boats swarmed into the contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands of Kuban and Uotsuri, followed by 15 Chinese coast guard vessels by August 9th. Come the actual battle, there will be hundreds of Chinese vessels to be sunk, much like plinking tanks in the deserts of the Middle East.

China’s intent is plain, the next question is the timing. The Communist Party of China has directed the People’s Liberation Army to transform itself into a force that will be ready to take Taiwan by 2020. A Senkaku campaign will be a lot easier than subduing Taiwan, and possession of the Senkakus in turn will make the Taiwan campaign easier to mount by partial envelopment of that island. The PLA Navy is still expanding and China might not start its war until its navy is somewhat larger than it is now. Of particular interest is a new class of amphibious assault ships, the Type 075. Approximately the size of the U.S. Navy’s Wasp-class ships, the Type 075 is projected to carry up to 30 helicopters and have the ability to launch six helicopters simultaneously. The first Type 075 class may be launched in 2019 and in service in 2020. Another four might be built by 2025.

There are a few other considerations which have the potential to bring forward China’s war plans. China’s economic growth is mostly debt-funded construction of unproductive assets, so China’s debt to GDP ratio continues to climb. Everyone knows this is unsustainable, that it will end in tears but nobody knows when. A stalling economy and tens of millions of personal bankruptcies as China’s real estate bubble pops would encourage the regime to distract the public with a foreign military adventure. Then there is the question of China’s energy supply. China’s strategic petroleum reserve is estimated to be about 700 million barrels and still building at one million barrels per day. The Chinese reserve will probably keep building until the day the war starts and U.S. and Japanese submarines begin sinking Chinese tankers.

But the big story in energy, internationally, is the projected peaking of Chinese coal production in 2020 before it starts falling away due to resource exhaustion. Chinese coal production of over four billion tons per annum is about four times the U.S. production level. Coal is the source of two thirds of power generation in China, about the same for chemical feedstocks and is the source of all the nitrogenous fertiliser they use. The energy content of Chinese coal production is equivalent to 58 million barrels of oil per day. The production cost of coal, and thus the cost of doing everything in China, will start rising once production has peaked. It is unlikely that China’s nuclear power sector will expand fast enough to compensate. Thus China’s competitiveness relative to countries that have plenty of coal remaining will fall. This will factor into President Xi’s timing of his war.

Now is the time to ask Lenin’s question “What is to be done?” The important thing is to shun anything made in China because that just funds their aggression. Choose the Samsung offering over the iPhone for no other reason. And be nice to any Japanese or Vietnamese you meet. We need them to have courage.

David Archibald is the author of American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare



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The New York Times Embraces Fake Science, Fake Engineering, and Fake Economics


The Oct. 16, 2017 New York Times devotes most of a full page to an editorial promoting “5 Climate Truths Mr. Trump Doesn’t Get.” They even have graphs to supposedly illustrate their five truths. As someone who has studied climate change and renewable energy I immediately understood that their editorial was very simplistic and does not engage with economic or engineering realities.

The Times’ view is that it is important to reduce CO2 emissions and that wind and solar energy are the way to do that. They also imagine that batteries storing power are the solution for the erratic nature of wind and solar generation. They particularly dislike coal because it emits more CO2 when burned compared to natural gas.

I have to assume the editors of the New York Times are not stupid. Probably they have a very weak grasp of science and engineering and probably ideology blinds them, preventing objective study of the issues.

Global warming is now called climate change because the globe has not warmed for two decades. The “science” behind predictions of global warming due to emissions of CO2 has clearly collapsed. The promoters of the catastrophe are most charitably described as bad scientists and less charitably as snake oil salesmen. The predictions are based on computer models that don’t agree with each other and that have failed miserably in predicting the actual global temperature. There is no shortage of distinguished scientists screaming that global warming is a fraud.

Even if you believe the junk science of climate change, the CO2 emissions are concentrated in Asia. Reducing CO2 emissions in the U.S. at great cost makes no sense because the supposed problem is in Asia. The way to really reduce CO2 emissions is to replace fossil fuel electricity generation with nuclear generation. Nuclear power does not emit CO2 and it works at night when the sun is not shining and it works when the wind is not blowing. Further, there are great prospects for improving the cost and safety of nuclear power. The Times and the promoters of wind and solar ignore or demonize nuclear power.

The globe is not warming in the face of rapidly increasing CO2 levels, giving lie to the theory that CO2 will create a catastrophe, or create any problem at all. It is beyond question that increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere enhances agricultural productivity and greens deserts. Plants are hungry for CO2 and don’t need as much water if they have more CO2.

The Times makes the point that natural gas emits less CO2 than coal and is cheaper than coal. There is some truth in this but there are other issues that should be taken into account. Natural gas is a premium fuel of many uses. It burns cleanly, it is easily transported by pipeline, and due to fracking it has become very cheap. It is feasible to power automobiles with compressed natural gas, the main problem being a lack of refueling stations. Coal, on the other hand, is mainly useful for generating electricity. Modern coal plants are non-polluting because they have elaborate pollution controls. Our reserves of coal are vast, enough for many centuries, and are much greater than the reserves of natural gas. Natural gas is cheap, often nearly as cheap as coal per unit of energy. But the low price may be temporary because we will become an exporter of liquefied natural gas to lucrative markets in Asia and Europe.  Natural gas now is used sparingly in transportation, but may be used more in the future due to its cost and clean burning advantages. The price of natural gas may increase substantially as supply and demand equalize.

A terrible danger is being ignored in the rush to make the electrical grid “green.”  The grid is vulnerable to a catastrophic attack that could take the grid down for months or years. Our deadly enemies in Iran and North Korea understand this. The electrical grid is powered by large machines: turbines, generators and transformers. These devices are as big as a house, cost millions of dollars, and have to be ordered many months in advance. The most vulnerable devices are the large transformers that step voltage up and down to enable the transport of electricity over longer distances. Vast energy passes through these transformers. If something goes wrong, the energy flow is sufficient to destroy the transformer in seconds. The transformer will melt or explode. The easiest way to destroy the few thousand of these large transformers is by electromagnetic pulse attack. Such an attack may be performed by exploding a small nuclear weapon 200 miles above the Earth, over the central U.S. Interaction between the gamma rays emitted by the weapon, the atmosphere and the Earth’s magnetic field creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). One of the effects of EMP is to cause a modulation of the Earth’s magnetic field that in turn induces direct current flow in long transmission lines. The direct current causes saturation of the magnetic core of the transformers that results in catastrophic deposit of energy in the transformer. Such an EMP can also be caused by natural storms on the Sun that eject charged particles that strike the Earth. Such a solar storm in 1989 crashed the Quebec grid and destroyed a transformer in New Jersey. The nuclear EMP also has the capacity to damage computer controls throughout the economy and even automobile engine controls. (Military systems have long been hardened against EMP.)

Coal generation of electricity has a resiliency advantage because a month’s supply of coal is typically on hand. Natural gas plants depend on just in time deliveries of natural gas, with perhaps limited backup supplies of fuel oil, an alternative fuel that some plants can use. Natural gas pipelines are susceptible to sabotage. For example California is highly dependent on a handful of pipelines that bring gas into the state.

The Times compares the cost of wind and solar energy by comparing the cost of the electricity at the plant fence and by ignoring the substantial government subsidies and mandates. Since wind and solar generate electricity unpredictably, depending on clouds, nighttime and the wind velocity, there must be a backup source of power. Typically the backup will be a natural gas plant. The only cost saving from introducing wind and solar into the grid is the reduced consumption of fossil fuel when the wind and solar are actually generating electricity. This avoided cost amounts to 2-3 cents per kilowatt hour while the cost of the electricity from wind or solar is about three times as much as the saving in fuel for the backup plant.

The Times suggests that lithium ion batteries costing $273 per kilowatt-hour of capacity could be used store electricity as backup to wind and solar. That idea is just dumb. Take for example a solar plant with a nameplate capacity of 400 megawatts and capable of generating an average of 100 megawatts in a sunny location. Such a plant would cost about $600 million. A lithium battery system capable of storing 2400 megawatts, or one day’s output, would cost approximately another $600 million. However even the sunniest city in the U.S. has about 50 cloudy days a year. One or two cloudy days and the plant would fail to deliver electricity.  The batteries would also have to be replaced every 5 or 10 years. Grid scale battery systems may be useful for smoothing short peaks in demand, but not for backing up wind or solar.

Trump gets the truths far better than the Times does.

 

Norman Rogers writes often about climate, energy and politics. He has a website.

 

The Oct. 16, 2017 New York Times devotes most of a full page to an editorial promoting “5 Climate Truths Mr. Trump Doesn’t Get.” They even have graphs to supposedly illustrate their five truths. As someone who has studied climate change and renewable energy I immediately understood that their editorial was very simplistic and does not engage with economic or engineering realities.

The Times’ view is that it is important to reduce CO2 emissions and that wind and solar energy are the way to do that. They also imagine that batteries storing power are the solution for the erratic nature of wind and solar generation. They particularly dislike coal because it emits more CO2 when burned compared to natural gas.

I have to assume the editors of the New York Times are not stupid. Probably they have a very weak grasp of science and engineering and probably ideology blinds them, preventing objective study of the issues.

Global warming is now called climate change because the globe has not warmed for two decades. The “science” behind predictions of global warming due to emissions of CO2 has clearly collapsed. The promoters of the catastrophe are most charitably described as bad scientists and less charitably as snake oil salesmen. The predictions are based on computer models that don’t agree with each other and that have failed miserably in predicting the actual global temperature. There is no shortage of distinguished scientists screaming that global warming is a fraud.

Even if you believe the junk science of climate change, the CO2 emissions are concentrated in Asia. Reducing CO2 emissions in the U.S. at great cost makes no sense because the supposed problem is in Asia. The way to really reduce CO2 emissions is to replace fossil fuel electricity generation with nuclear generation. Nuclear power does not emit CO2 and it works at night when the sun is not shining and it works when the wind is not blowing. Further, there are great prospects for improving the cost and safety of nuclear power. The Times and the promoters of wind and solar ignore or demonize nuclear power.

The globe is not warming in the face of rapidly increasing CO2 levels, giving lie to the theory that CO2 will create a catastrophe, or create any problem at all. It is beyond question that increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere enhances agricultural productivity and greens deserts. Plants are hungry for CO2 and don’t need as much water if they have more CO2.

The Times makes the point that natural gas emits less CO2 than coal and is cheaper than coal. There is some truth in this but there are other issues that should be taken into account. Natural gas is a premium fuel of many uses. It burns cleanly, it is easily transported by pipeline, and due to fracking it has become very cheap. It is feasible to power automobiles with compressed natural gas, the main problem being a lack of refueling stations. Coal, on the other hand, is mainly useful for generating electricity. Modern coal plants are non-polluting because they have elaborate pollution controls. Our reserves of coal are vast, enough for many centuries, and are much greater than the reserves of natural gas. Natural gas is cheap, often nearly as cheap as coal per unit of energy. But the low price may be temporary because we will become an exporter of liquefied natural gas to lucrative markets in Asia and Europe.  Natural gas now is used sparingly in transportation, but may be used more in the future due to its cost and clean burning advantages. The price of natural gas may increase substantially as supply and demand equalize.

A terrible danger is being ignored in the rush to make the electrical grid “green.”  The grid is vulnerable to a catastrophic attack that could take the grid down for months or years. Our deadly enemies in Iran and North Korea understand this. The electrical grid is powered by large machines: turbines, generators and transformers. These devices are as big as a house, cost millions of dollars, and have to be ordered many months in advance. The most vulnerable devices are the large transformers that step voltage up and down to enable the transport of electricity over longer distances. Vast energy passes through these transformers. If something goes wrong, the energy flow is sufficient to destroy the transformer in seconds. The transformer will melt or explode. The easiest way to destroy the few thousand of these large transformers is by electromagnetic pulse attack. Such an attack may be performed by exploding a small nuclear weapon 200 miles above the Earth, over the central U.S. Interaction between the gamma rays emitted by the weapon, the atmosphere and the Earth’s magnetic field creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). One of the effects of EMP is to cause a modulation of the Earth’s magnetic field that in turn induces direct current flow in long transmission lines. The direct current causes saturation of the magnetic core of the transformers that results in catastrophic deposit of energy in the transformer. Such an EMP can also be caused by natural storms on the Sun that eject charged particles that strike the Earth. Such a solar storm in 1989 crashed the Quebec grid and destroyed a transformer in New Jersey. The nuclear EMP also has the capacity to damage computer controls throughout the economy and even automobile engine controls. (Military systems have long been hardened against EMP.)

Coal generation of electricity has a resiliency advantage because a month’s supply of coal is typically on hand. Natural gas plants depend on just in time deliveries of natural gas, with perhaps limited backup supplies of fuel oil, an alternative fuel that some plants can use. Natural gas pipelines are susceptible to sabotage. For example California is highly dependent on a handful of pipelines that bring gas into the state.

The Times compares the cost of wind and solar energy by comparing the cost of the electricity at the plant fence and by ignoring the substantial government subsidies and mandates. Since wind and solar generate electricity unpredictably, depending on clouds, nighttime and the wind velocity, there must be a backup source of power. Typically the backup will be a natural gas plant. The only cost saving from introducing wind and solar into the grid is the reduced consumption of fossil fuel when the wind and solar are actually generating electricity. This avoided cost amounts to 2-3 cents per kilowatt hour while the cost of the electricity from wind or solar is about three times as much as the saving in fuel for the backup plant.

The Times suggests that lithium ion batteries costing $273 per kilowatt-hour of capacity could be used store electricity as backup to wind and solar. That idea is just dumb. Take for example a solar plant with a nameplate capacity of 400 megawatts and capable of generating an average of 100 megawatts in a sunny location. Such a plant would cost about $600 million. A lithium battery system capable of storing 2400 megawatts, or one day’s output, would cost approximately another $600 million. However even the sunniest city in the U.S. has about 50 cloudy days a year. One or two cloudy days and the plant would fail to deliver electricity.  The batteries would also have to be replaced every 5 or 10 years. Grid scale battery systems may be useful for smoothing short peaks in demand, but not for backing up wind or solar.

Trump gets the truths far better than the Times does.

 

Norman Rogers writes often about climate, energy and politics. He has a website.

 



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Mr. President, Stand Up to Dumping in International Trade


The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled 4-0 earlier this month that imports of home washing machines from South Korea, mainly by Samsung and Lucky-Goldstar, are harming American manufacturers. It is now up to Pres. Trump to accept or reject the commission’s recommendation for a retaliatory tariff. He should accept it.

This decision goes to the heart of a broader question: Is the Trump administration serious about enforcing trade rules and making trade work in the national interest, as he promised on the campaign trail?

Some background: Whirlpool, the leader in the U.S. washer market, has been losing ground to Samsung and Lucky-Goldstar in recent years. They, in turn, claim they are gaining market share simply due to higher quality and lower prices.

An investigation in 2013 by the U.S. government, however, exposed a more disturbing story. Samsung and LG are indeed selling washers at lower prices, but doing so through a strategy called “dumping.” That is, they are selling below production cost with the goal of eventually driving U.S. manufacturers out of business.

For understandable reasons, dumping has long been illegal under U.S. law and international trade agreements, including the Korea-U.S. Trade Agreement (KORUS). South Korea does not tolerate foreign (read “Chinese”) companies dumping in its own markets.

After the U.S. government ruled that Samsung and LG were dumping and imposed a retaliatory tariff, the firms responded by first stockpiling washers in the United States and then shifting their production to other countries — first China, then Vietnam and Thailand — in order to evade the tariff, which was country specific.

As a result, Whirlpool and other U.S. manufacturers continued to suffer from illegal dumping. Therefore, Whirlpool decided this year to file a so-called “safeguard petition” with the ITC under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. A safeguard petition asks the ITC to determine whether imports are causing serious injury to an American industry. It targets imports from any country, thus preventing the country-hopping Samsung and LG have engaged in.

Safeguard provisions are a normal and necessary enforcement mechanism in a world where trade agreements have rules Both the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations used them.

Unfortunately, some people don’t understand this. Whirlpool’s critics have argued that the company is seeking a corporate bailout. Several members of Congress have written to the ITC opposing granting the tariff.          

Opponents of the tariff have appealed in the name of so-called free trade. But this is a misunderstanding. For a start, given the manifold ways in which Korea keeps its own markets closed, subsidizes its industries, and has manipulated its currency, genuine free trade between the U.S. and South Korea simply does not exist. Acquiescing to the status quo would not further it.

Furthermore, even for those who are satisfied with the current charade version of free trade, in which America opens its markets in reality, but many foreign nations only do so on paper, the case highlights sensitivities that, if improperly managed, could undermine U.S. support for the global trading system as a whole.      

Few issues featured as prominently in Donald Trump’s campaign as the idea that the United States is getting the raw end of trade deals. As a recent Morning Consult poll found, Trump’s view — which does not take issue with international trade per se, but questions whether existing free trade arrangements benefit the United States — is consistent with the outlook of the American people.

The reason is the American people intuitively understand what our country’s globalist political class refuses to admit: free trade does not work if it is undertaken on an unequal playing field. It does not work when one side, with the support of its national government, engages in dumping aimed at wiping out an American industry.

The Korean firms can’t deny the facts of this case. So they are now trying to muddy the waters, and buy support in Congress, with disingenuous promises about job creation. Legislators from Tennessee and South Carolina are now touting plans by these companies to build factories in their states.

In all likelihood, however, Samsung and LG will simply establish final-assembly “kit” plants, which operate largely on imported parts and that can be moved abroad when the threat of trade enforcement subsides. But this will displace the long-term plants of American companies, which use more domestically produced parts and thus create more jobs in their supply chains. (Investment in such plants is already being cut back in anticipation of imports.) It is not a winning job-creation strategy.

Failure by the Trump administration to take action against Samsung and LG would amount to an abandonment of the president’s campaign promise, and could incite a backlash not only against particular foreign manufacturers, but also against the broader international trading system. Indeed, Trump’s manufacturing and trade policy advisor Peter Navarro has cited dumping by Samsung and LG as “precisely the kind of trade cheating that must be stopped.”

The administration is already hearing grumblings from its base for failing to follow through on its campaign promises about trade. As a candidate, Trump lambasted the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement as a “job-killing trade deal” and “one-way street,” but has yet to renegotiate or terminate the deal as promised.

The risk of a political backlash is particularly acute in the washer case because members of Congress are publicly going to bat for foreign companies like Samsung and LG. Household washers – your “humble washing machine” as the Wall Street Journal put it – are familiar products that voters understand. Manufactured in swing states like Ohio, with contentious Senate and House races on the horizon, the issue could easily be championed by populist candidates.

Amid growing trade imbalances, the days when the United States could just ignore the costs of illegal trade practices are over. It is incumbent on the Trump administration to send a message to our trading partners that economic partnership requires respect for agreed rules, including that dumping is illegal. It can do so by acting on the ITC’s forthcoming recommendations on trade sanctions and imposing a tariff.

Economist Ian Fletcher, author of the book Free Trade Doesn’t Work. is one of America’s foremost experts on the problems of free trade. From 2010 to 2012, he was Senior Economist of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. Before that, he was Research Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council. Before that, he was an economist in private practice serving mainly hedge funds and private equity firms. Educated at Columbia and the University of Chicago, he lives in San Francisco.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled 4-0 earlier this month that imports of home washing machines from South Korea, mainly by Samsung and Lucky-Goldstar, are harming American manufacturers. It is now up to Pres. Trump to accept or reject the commission’s recommendation for a retaliatory tariff. He should accept it.

This decision goes to the heart of a broader question: Is the Trump administration serious about enforcing trade rules and making trade work in the national interest, as he promised on the campaign trail?

Some background: Whirlpool, the leader in the U.S. washer market, has been losing ground to Samsung and Lucky-Goldstar in recent years. They, in turn, claim they are gaining market share simply due to higher quality and lower prices.

An investigation in 2013 by the U.S. government, however, exposed a more disturbing story. Samsung and LG are indeed selling washers at lower prices, but doing so through a strategy called “dumping.” That is, they are selling below production cost with the goal of eventually driving U.S. manufacturers out of business.

For understandable reasons, dumping has long been illegal under U.S. law and international trade agreements, including the Korea-U.S. Trade Agreement (KORUS). South Korea does not tolerate foreign (read “Chinese”) companies dumping in its own markets.

After the U.S. government ruled that Samsung and LG were dumping and imposed a retaliatory tariff, the firms responded by first stockpiling washers in the United States and then shifting their production to other countries — first China, then Vietnam and Thailand — in order to evade the tariff, which was country specific.

As a result, Whirlpool and other U.S. manufacturers continued to suffer from illegal dumping. Therefore, Whirlpool decided this year to file a so-called “safeguard petition” with the ITC under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. A safeguard petition asks the ITC to determine whether imports are causing serious injury to an American industry. It targets imports from any country, thus preventing the country-hopping Samsung and LG have engaged in.

Safeguard provisions are a normal and necessary enforcement mechanism in a world where trade agreements have rules Both the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations used them.

Unfortunately, some people don’t understand this. Whirlpool’s critics have argued that the company is seeking a corporate bailout. Several members of Congress have written to the ITC opposing granting the tariff.          

Opponents of the tariff have appealed in the name of so-called free trade. But this is a misunderstanding. For a start, given the manifold ways in which Korea keeps its own markets closed, subsidizes its industries, and has manipulated its currency, genuine free trade between the U.S. and South Korea simply does not exist. Acquiescing to the status quo would not further it.

Furthermore, even for those who are satisfied with the current charade version of free trade, in which America opens its markets in reality, but many foreign nations only do so on paper, the case highlights sensitivities that, if improperly managed, could undermine U.S. support for the global trading system as a whole.      

Few issues featured as prominently in Donald Trump’s campaign as the idea that the United States is getting the raw end of trade deals. As a recent Morning Consult poll found, Trump’s view — which does not take issue with international trade per se, but questions whether existing free trade arrangements benefit the United States — is consistent with the outlook of the American people.

The reason is the American people intuitively understand what our country’s globalist political class refuses to admit: free trade does not work if it is undertaken on an unequal playing field. It does not work when one side, with the support of its national government, engages in dumping aimed at wiping out an American industry.

The Korean firms can’t deny the facts of this case. So they are now trying to muddy the waters, and buy support in Congress, with disingenuous promises about job creation. Legislators from Tennessee and South Carolina are now touting plans by these companies to build factories in their states.

In all likelihood, however, Samsung and LG will simply establish final-assembly “kit” plants, which operate largely on imported parts and that can be moved abroad when the threat of trade enforcement subsides. But this will displace the long-term plants of American companies, which use more domestically produced parts and thus create more jobs in their supply chains. (Investment in such plants is already being cut back in anticipation of imports.) It is not a winning job-creation strategy.

Failure by the Trump administration to take action against Samsung and LG would amount to an abandonment of the president’s campaign promise, and could incite a backlash not only against particular foreign manufacturers, but also against the broader international trading system. Indeed, Trump’s manufacturing and trade policy advisor Peter Navarro has cited dumping by Samsung and LG as “precisely the kind of trade cheating that must be stopped.”

The administration is already hearing grumblings from its base for failing to follow through on its campaign promises about trade. As a candidate, Trump lambasted the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement as a “job-killing trade deal” and “one-way street,” but has yet to renegotiate or terminate the deal as promised.

The risk of a political backlash is particularly acute in the washer case because members of Congress are publicly going to bat for foreign companies like Samsung and LG. Household washers – your “humble washing machine” as the Wall Street Journal put it – are familiar products that voters understand. Manufactured in swing states like Ohio, with contentious Senate and House races on the horizon, the issue could easily be championed by populist candidates.

Amid growing trade imbalances, the days when the United States could just ignore the costs of illegal trade practices are over. It is incumbent on the Trump administration to send a message to our trading partners that economic partnership requires respect for agreed rules, including that dumping is illegal. It can do so by acting on the ITC’s forthcoming recommendations on trade sanctions and imposing a tariff.

Economist Ian Fletcher, author of the book Free Trade Doesn’t Work. is one of America’s foremost experts on the problems of free trade. From 2010 to 2012, he was Senior Economist of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. Before that, he was Research Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council. Before that, he was an economist in private practice serving mainly hedge funds and private equity firms. Educated at Columbia and the University of Chicago, he lives in San Francisco.



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