TO MY READERS, I HAVE A REQUEST

You know how much I respect your skills and talents. Today, I’m asking you to share them with me and your fellow readers.

Please send me your self-reliance tips (no politics, please!)

You all know by now that I am being harried off the internet for sharing conservative viewpoints from leading writers. While I will continue to do this, I am only going to respond to the effects of the damaging progressive policies being implemented in Washington D.C. To rail against the actual policies will exhaust and frustrate us all, as well as ensure that we are kicked off this hosting platform, lose the last of our advertisers and get blocked by the big email providers.

So, I am turning to you! You homemakers, gardeners, hobbyists, hunters, survivalists, car enthusiasts, parents, fisherfolk, experts, military experts, marksmen, inventors, bakers, heritage skill experts, — all of you with cool things to share.

I would like to ask you to send me your recipes, instructions, guides, photos, step-by-step instructions, and videos*. Please email them to me at [email protected] . Remember NO POLITICS. This is my desperate attempt to get us back to our self-reliant roots and swamp the site with preparedness and quality of life improvements. Please know that I am the only person involved at SRC and I can’t pay but I would truly love to share your passions. (Please send only your original material. Copyright and intellectual property lawyers trawl these sites to sue people who use other people’s work.)

*If you make a video, I suggest you post it direct to rumble.com rather than on this site, as you can get paid when people view them. Let me know what you have posted and if I share it with my readers and viewers that means more eyeballs and more money earned for you!

Sleepwalking towards a digital society: everybody’s shuffling there and nobody’s talking about it

Are convenience and security a good trade-off for surveillance and control?

As the internet becomes ever more crucial to day-to-day life, the world seems to be drifting towards a world where our personal data is no longer personal. Around half the world’s governments are looking into introducing a central bank digital currency or CBCD, with many also pushing for digital IDs.

Ten countries have launched a digital currency, with China expanding the pilot project it’s been running for the past two years. In India, the government aims to have a digital rupee in place by 2023, when the European Commission also plans to introduce legislation for a digital euro. In the US, a recent executive order from Biden has made research into a national CBDC a priority while in New York a pilot for a digital dollar has just begun.

Leading the race for digital ID is India, which started the rollout of its biometric system Aadhaar in 2009. Now, with most of the country’s 1.3 billion population having exchanged fingerprints, iris scans and photos for a 12-digital unique identification number, digital ID is effectively compulsory for participation in Indian life. Internationally, there are suggestions that the two systems should be linked. At a recent meeting between the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Groups, speakers agreed it would be good if CBDCs and digital ID were paired “as a package”.

Such a system would potentially affect every aspect of an individual’s life and create a completely new kind of society.

Is a digital future inevitable?

Yet there’s an almost complete lack of public debate on the subject, at least of the official kind customarily led by politicians and institutions in western democracies. The official commentary on CBCDs and digital ID by the media and think tanks rests on the assumption that such developments are inevitable, part of the progress towards a future that’s already written. It focuses on the benefits, citing the “resilience” of digital currencies and the “convenience” of digital ID with only passing references to privacy concerns.

Meanwhile, a minority worries about the unprecedented potential for control afforded by the digitalisation of our world. It’s as if two parallel discourses are being conducted by two sets of people with entirely different interests, with little or no dialogue between them.

The divide in the discourse about the digital reflects a very real split between institutions and people. On one side are governments, the finance sector and their allies in supra-national institutions; on the other are citizens, the ordinary people who make up civil society. In a discourse dominated by the first, more powerful group, there’s an occlusion of the fundamental questions. Will these developments promote human dignity? What do they mean for the freedoms and rights that have long taken as central to the good society?

Such questions don’t even rise to the surface, so buried are they under a narrative of inevitability which suggests that modern life is so entirely subject to the impersonal forces of technology and progress that there is nothing to discuss.

Monitoring spending is a possibility

In the absence of a genuine public debate, I suspect we are being led in a direction that is not in our best interests.

Let’s start with the main “people’s concern” around CBDCs. Unlike cash, a digital currency exists in a network run by parties beyond the control of the person who owns the money: the (central) bank and the companies facilitating the financial transactions. There is no way for buyer and seller to exchange outside this system. This key feature of digital currency gives rise to its programmability, the fact that the controlling body could set things up so that the money can only be spent in a certain way or within a certain timeframe.

Discussing the possibility of a CBDC in the UK in 2021, Sir Jon Cunliffe, a deputy Governor at the Bank of England said that programming a digital currency for commercial or social purposes is something the British government needs to consider: “You could think of giving your children pocket money, but programming the money so that it couldn’t be used for sweets,” he said. “There is a whole range of things that money could do, programmable money, which we cannot do with the current technology.”

Elsewhere, financiers are openly considering limits on how much digital money people should be allowed to spend without their data being collected. Fifty euros per transaction and a monthly spending limit of €1,000? wonders Fabio Panetta of the European Central Bank. The proposed measures mimic limits on cash payments over a certain amount: in Portugal it is illegal to exchange more than €3,000, while in Greece the limit is a mere €300. Cash or digital, if governments have their way, it seems that most of our spending will be monitored like parents overseeing children’s pocket money.

Covid passes and carbon credits

How did we get here?

Part of the answer seems to lie with Covid.

A few months into the crisis, the World Economic Forum came up with the idea of the Covid Pass, a vaccination passport it claimed would be the key to reopening global travel. The benefits of the pass would extend beyond disease control to include “mandatory carbon offsetting for each flight passenger, to preserve the environmental benefits of reduced air travel during the crisis”.

Two years on, the WEF claims that the time for carbon allowances – rationing the amount of individuals’ air travel– has arrived. Until recently, writes Mridul Kaushik, there was no appetite for such a measure: “There have been numerous examples of personal carbon allowance programs in discussions for the last two decades, but they had limited success due to a lack of social acceptance, political resistance, and a lack of awareness and fair mechanism for tracking ‘My Carbon emissions.”

But everything, he continues, changed with Covid: “COVID-19 was the test of social responsibility. A huge number of unimaginable restrictions for public health were adopted by billions of citizens across the world.” In other words, given the right reason, the crisis showed that people will accept more restrictions than policymakers had ever dreamed possible.

Specifically, it unleashed a long-held desire to introduce controls on public behaviour to limit the generation of carbon. Australia’s in partnership with fintech start-up CoGo, has just created the first app allowing customers can track their personalised carbon footprints of their spending and buy carbon credits to offset it.

Yet carbon offsetting is fraught with doubt and vested interests. The idea of a carbon footprint dates from 2004, when oil giant BP launched its carbon footprint tracker with the help of advertising firm Ogilvy and Mather.

While compensating for one’s carbon use quickly caught on, it soon emerged that offsetting schemes were being used to salve consciences while business went on as usual. One investigation in the US found that “individuals and businesses who are feeding a $700 million global market in offsets are often buying vague promises instead of the reductions in greenhouse gases they expect.”

By 2021, Greenpeace was calling it greenwashing: “Whether you are filling up at the pump, booking a flight or simply browsing supermarket shelves, you are being targeted by marketing campaigns trying to persuade you that everything is fine … Offsetting has become the most popular and sophisticated form of greenwash around.”

Why then there is so much enthusiasm for carbon offsetting among politicians and policymakers?

A clue comes from COP 27, where there was enthusiastic talk about how carbon credits are soon going to become part of the finance system. “Carbon is moving very quickly into a system where it’s going to be very close to a currency,” said former Bank of England advisor Michael Sheren. “Basically being able to take a ton of absorbed or sequestered carbon and being able to create a forward-pricing curve, with financial service architecture, documentation.”

Follow the money. Or rather: follow the carbon and it will lead to a host of commercial interests. As Brett Scott, the author of the recently published book Cloudmoney: Cash, Cards, Crypto, and the War for Our Wallets, points out, banks, payment companies and fintech start-ups stand to gain commercially from the death of cash, while governments are keen on maximising tax revenues and the power to ban activity they don’t like.

So it’s not surprising that these converging interests have formed a powerful coalition to persuade the public that digital is best.

Drifting towards surveillance capitalism

The resulting communications strategy draws on the superficial appeal of cashless payments and the unspoken principle of modernity that life should get ever-easier. “To make incursions into face-to-face commerce, it showcases the surface-level “feel” of digital payments – their slickness or apparent convenience – rather than drawing attention to the deeper structures that underpin them,” writes Scott.

The strategy also deploys the fear of being left out: “Because ‘we’ all want this, no individual dissenter can stand against it, and if they try, they will be left behind … This messaging is reinforced by an entire marketing industry that specialises in telling us to get ready for the change we are apparently driving, lest we are bypassed by a ‘rapidly changing world.’”

Swiping their smartphones and cards to buy a coffee, most people seem to accept the shift to digital payment without question. Concerns about how it excludes those without bank accounts have been forgotten by the socially-minded who, just a few years ago, were stressing the importance of financial inclusion. There is little concern about the erosion of the informal economy that depends on spontaneous transactions: the fetes and odd jobs, the donations to the busker and the homeless.

Yet there are also growing levels of discomfort at the potential for a kind of surveillance capitalism that would form a Western counterpart to China’s social credit system.

Launched through a series of pilots in various cities, the Chinese social credit scheme aims, according to the founding document published by the State Council in 2014, to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step”. Points can be deducted for behaviour such as bad driving and awarded for service to the community. Penalties for a low credit score include travel bans: by the end of 2019, the authorities had stopped 23 million people from buying flights, according to the National Public Credit Information Centre.

Although the government has promised to make it nationwide and compulsory, so far China’s social credit system has been voluntary and piecemeal. In the meantime, the use of Covid apps has given a foretaste of how it could work when fully operational, with citizens banned from taking transport and going to work unless their phone shows a green code that needs constantly updating with Covid tests.

A Big Tech social credit system?

Concerns about the rise of a Western-style social credit system have been growing for some time. Writing in 2019, Mike Elgan highlights how the Big Tech firms of Silicon Valley began monitoring customers’ behaviour on social media as a way of deciding whether they were entitled to goods and services. Being cancelled by Twitter may not change your life. But being cancelled by Uber, WhatsApp, or Airbnb could be very inconvenient.

Recently, the rise of extra-legal social credit measures has accelerated as private companies take censorship into their own hands. In September 2022, PayPal abruptly closed the accounts of several organisations in the UK, including the Free Speech Union. It then tried to introduce new terms to its Acceptable Use Policy which would allow the company to fine users $2500 for posting material it considers “objectionable”.

Following current trends, it’s likely that digital controls in a Western context would serve, not the values of Asian Communism, but a blend of commercial interests and woke thinking.

But there are signs that the people being offered the first centralised digital currency may already be deciding it’s not for them. Having banned cryptocurrency, Nigeria is having trouble persuading its citizens to use Africa’s first CBDC: “eNaira is seen as a proxy for the challenges facing the continent’s biggest economy and a symbol of distrust in the ruling elite.”

Should we in the West let politicians and corporations know how feel about such a measure before they try it here too?

Alex Klaushofer

Alex Klaushofer is an author and journalist who has written extensively on social affairs, religion and politics in Britain and Middle East. She writes on Substack at Ways of Seeing. More by Alex Klaushofer

Is this our NextGen Destroyer?

From the report

The Navy’s DDG(X) program envisages procuring a class of next-generation guided-missile destroyers (DDGs) to replace the Navy’s Ticonderoga (CG-47) class Aegis cruisers and older Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyers. The Navy wants to procure the first DDG(X)* in FY2030. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests $195.5 million in research and development funding for the program.

Navy Large Surface Combatants (LSCs) 

Force-Level Goal

The Navy refers to its cruisers and destroyers collectively as large surface combatants (LSCs).The Navy’s current 355-ship force-level goal, released in December 2016, calls for achieving and maintaining a force of 104 LSCs. The Navy’s FY2023 30-year (FY2023-FY2052) shipbuilding plan, released on April 20, 2022, summarizes Navy and OSD studies outlining potential successor Navy force-level goals that include 63 to 96 LSCs.

Existing LSCs

The Navy’s CG-47s and DDG-51s are commonly called Aegis cruisers and destroyers because they are equipped with the Aegis combat system, an integrated collection of sensors and weapons named for the mythical shield that defended Zeus. The Navy procured 27 CG-47s between FY1978 and FY1988. The ships entered service between 1983 and 1994. The first five, which were built to an earlier technical standard, were judged by the Navy to be too expensive to modernize and were removed from service in 2004-2005. Of the remaining 22 ships, the Navy’s FY2023 budget submission proposes retiring 5 in FY2023, another 12 in FY2024-FY2027, and the final 5 in years after FY2027.

The first DDG-51 was procured in FY1985 and entered service in 1991. The version of the DDG-51 that the Navy is currently procuring is called the Flight III version. The Navy also has three Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class destroyers that were procured in FY2007-FY2009 and are equipped with a combat system that is different than the Aegis system. (For more on the DDG-51 and DDG-1000 programs, see CRS Report RL32109, Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.) More at USNI

*In the program designation DDG(X), the X means the precise design for the ship has not yet been determined.

Brady: No One Outside the Biden White House Has Any Confidence in This Cruel Economy

FROM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE: President Biden has pursued spending, taxes, and regulation that fueled inflation and weakened the economy. Now they’re talking about writing more welfare checks.

House Republicans will instead focus on unleashing American-made energy, connecting workers to the workforce, and investing in the supply chain to get the economy growing after Americans lost confidence in this President’s ability to fix it, Ways and Means Republican Leader Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) said in a conversation with Maria Bartiromo on “Mornings with Maria” on Fox Business.

The cruel economy American families face today is even worse than the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected earlier this year.

“Look, no one outside of the White House has any confidence in the President on the economy. Every survey, every poll shows it. 

 “This is such a cruel economy for so many Americans. They are going into debt faster than they have in 15 years. They are digging into savings, they’re skipping meals, delaying retirement, they’re worried about their rent payment and prices going forward.  

“The economy is weaker than projected even last spring – prices are higher than projected, wages are lower than projected.”

READ: Brady: Resurgence of Higher Prices Has Families Digging into Savings, Delaying Retirement, and Adding Historic Levels of Debt

President Biden has pursued spending, taxes, and regulation that fuel inflation and weaken the economy.

The Fed is trying to deal with President Biden-induced inflation and looming recession, and Congress doesn’t have to just stand by. Rather than what President Biden has pursued, which is more spending, taxes and regulation that fuel inflation, you will see House Republicans focusing on more American-Made energy, more workers connected to the workforce, and more innovation and more investment supply chain. 

“Even though companies are laying off a number of workers, there’s still a labor shortage in many states. In Texas, we’ve got a million job openings this morning–that drives inflation longer and higher as well.”

READ: Main Street Biz Struggle to Pay Rent and Find Workers as Economy Slows

President Biden is in denial about America’s dangerous wage-price spiral driving high inflation and a recession.

“This is a problem Biden frankly caused and should be responsible for fixing. The bottom line is: Those wages are high, they are going to be reflected immediately in the cargo and other unions. Other organizations are going to seek equally high wages.  

“We are in, as you know, a wage-price spiral already. I think it’s going to get worse because of the rail and union numbers.” 

READ: Despite Recession Certainty, Biden Doubles Down

President Biden has created the crises the country faces.

I think the press and the White House press team ought to be glad Elon Musk runs Twitter because otherwise their accounts would be suspended for disinformation. It’s nonsense. 

“In Texas we’ve been pleading, inviting, urging, pushing the President instead of going around the world for climate conferences, come to your own border, see what you’ve wrought.  

“It is a humanitarian crisis, it’s a security crisis, it’s a drug crisis and they just refuse to acknowledge any of that. But I think that’s going to change in our Republican House. It is one of the strongest priorities. For a nation that’s safe, you have to address the southern border.”

 

Leaving a Legacy Through Simplicity

Rosie Grant makes the recipes people etch into their gravestones – like this one for spritz cookies, at the grave of Naomi Miller-Dawson. / Credit: Rosie Grant TikTok

A few weeks ago, I came across a story in The Washington Post about a young woman, Rosie Grant, who scours graveyards across the country looking for recipes to make.

Recipes in a graveyard? Yes, it does sound weird, but Grant was intrigued upon hearing the concept. The first gravestone recipe she came across was featured on Naomi Odessa Miller-Dawson’s grave and was for Spritz cookies. Grant whipped up a batch and shared the results on her TikTok account. Its success encouraged her to hunt down other gravestone recipes and try them as well.

When I first read about Grant’s graveyard cooking ventures, I must admit that I thought it was a little sad. Making the recipe wasn’t sad—that was a very touching and honoring thing for Grant to do. What was sad, however, was the fact that some people seemed to think that a single recipe was the most important legacy they had to leave behind.

Such a thought made me stop and ask myself what kind of legacy I will leave behind one day when I am dead and buried. Do I want my legacy to be as simple and small as a recipe on a gravestone, or do I want it to be much bigger—a legacy that touches people personally, makes them better individuals, and even encourages some to go on and impact the world at large?

I think most of us would automatically choose the latter. Who doesn’t want his life to count and make a difference? “Forget that recipe on the gravestone, we’re setting our sights on something higher and more worthy!” we all say to ourselves.

But then I read further in the article and my perspective began to change, for in some cases, there was more behind these recipes than meets the eye viewing the gravestone.

Take Kay Andrews, for example, whose gravestone recipe for fudge was another one that Grant made for her TikTok account. Kay’s family described her as “the most joyful, loving person” who was always baking treats to give to others. Such food gifts, Kay’s granddaughter noted, were “really how she showed her love.”

The fudge recipe gracing her gravestone may look like the only legacy Kay leaves behind, but in reality, her legacy was what she did with that fudge. She poured her time and energy into making something enjoyable, and then gave it away with her love. She made others feel special and wanted through simple actions and simple gifts. We only have her fudge recipe to look at on this side of eternity, but who knows what we will find on the other side? The fact is, those simple actions that she faithfully did may have made an enormous impact for good.

Nineteenth century writer Elizabeth Rundle Charles captured how small, faithful actions can make a huge impact for good in her poem, “The Child on the Judgment Seat.”

Go back to thy garden-plot, sweetheart!
Go back till the evening falls,
And bind thy lilies and train thy vines,
Till for thee the Master calls.

Go make thy garden fair as thou canst,
Thou workest never alone;
Perhaps he whose plot is next to thine
Will see it and mend his own.

And the next may copy his, sweetheart,
Till all grows fair and sweet;
And, when the Master comes at eve,
Happy faces his coming will greet.

Many of us look at our world today, sighing in discouragement and wondering what on earth we, the simple, average Americans can do to change the seemingly unstoppable train wreck that our country is headed for. We’re too ordinary to make a big difference, we murmur to ourselves.

What we forget is that it is the simple, faithful, heartfelt acts of love and kindness that truly make a difference in this world. When we work and do our best in the areas in which we have been planted—our homes, our workplaces, our neighborhoods—being faithful in even the daily, mundane tasks we’ve been given, but taking time to be the listening ear, the helping hand, the caring friend, and the kind neighbor, then our legacy will be nothing to sneeze at once we’re dead and buried. Instead, it will grow and spread, from one little garden plot to another, fed by the love and care and faithfulness we bring to our everyday tasks.

Annie Holmquist

This article was originally published on Annie’s Substack. You can subscribe to it here. Except where otherwise noted, the content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

What a Tiananmen Square Survivor Thinks of Chinese Protests

More than 30 years ago, ordinary residents of China protested in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where authorities reacted by killing an estimated 10,000 or more.

Sean Lin, who traveled to Beijing to attend those protests in 1989, recalls them as “a historical moment in [China’s] modern history.”

Lin, a former Army microbiologist, is now an assistant professor in the biomedical science department at Fei Tian College in Middletown, New York.

He recalls that “not only students actively joined the protests,” but “a lot of civilians from all walks of life all supported this movement.”

“At the time, I think the main theme is anti-corruption because after the Cultural Revolution ended, the Communist Party allowed certain levels of economy reform,” Lin says. “So, many of the party elites quickly get rich using their privilege, using their powers.”

He added: “So, immediately, the Chinese people see the society become polarized … I think it triggered a huge anger against the corruption level at the time.”

Lin brings this frame of reference to discussing the ongoing unrest in China triggered after at least 10 persons died and at least nine were hurt last Thursday in an apartment fire in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region during the nation’s COVID-19 lockdown. 

“I think at that time in the 1980s, people definitely were very, very angry and upset about the corruption level. But at that time, nobody even … call for a step-down of the Communist Party,” Lin says. 

“But now, 33 years later, I think people are totally disappointed and [have] totally lost any confidence in the Communist Party.” 

Lin joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to talk about his experience during the Tiananmen Square protests, his thoughts on the Biden administration’s response to the current protests in China, and his message to those protesting. 

Samantha Aschieris: Dr. Sean Lin is joining the podcast now. He served as a U.S. Army officer and microbiologist and survived the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Sean, thank you so much for joining us.

Sean Lin: Samantha, it’s my pleasure to join your program.

Aschieris: Now, let’s go back to 1989 before we talk about the unrest that we’re seeing unfold in China and even throughout the globe today. So, what was it like during the Tiananmen Square protests?

Lin: 1989 movement is a historical moment in China modern history, and at a time not only students actively joined the protests, and a lot of civilians from all walks of life all supported this movement. 

At the time, I think the main theme is anti-corruption, because after the Cultural Revolution ended, the Communist Party allow[ed] certain levels of economy reform. So, many of the party elites quickly get rich using their privilege, using their powers. So immediately, the Chinese people see the society become polarized and the Communist Party elites getting so reached so fast. And so I think it triggered a huge anger against the corruption level at the time.

But now they actually, now the corruption is even much bigger, much bigger scale than the 1980s. But the other time already triggered the big protest. So, other times, you got support from all walks of life in China, basically. So the protest in Beijing, it was like the main hub for students from different parts of China to go to Beijing to voice a protest together.

So, I was a freshman at Zhejiang University at the time, so I also got an opportunity to—I went to Beijing to join the protest, and I was very, very impressed because you see people supporting the students gathering in the Tiananmen Square. And so, even on the way to Tiananmen Square, you see other civilians. As long as they see you’re a student, as long as they see you heading to Tiananmen Square, they’re passing you water, they’re passing you food. They encourage students to stay on Tiananmen Square to continue their protest. It was a very, very touching moment.

Aschieris: Yeah. Tell us a little bit about your decision to go to Beijing and support these movements and this protest back in 1989. I mean, were you scared of being arrested? What was your mindset at that moment?

Lin: I think at the time, just like young people, you have no knowledge about the brutality of the government, so you don’t have too much fear when you go to Beijing. You just feel something important happening in China, in Beijing especially, so I would just want to go there to visit. 

But in Hangzhou at the time, there are also smaller scales of a protest. So, I participate [in] that earlier, so I see it’s an important and righteous cause. 

People call for freedom of prayers, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, as well as anti-corruption to end the Communist Party elites ruling the society, or things like that. So, I think it’s a righteous cause, even just from your basic common sense as a young people. You feel this is important, I want to join it. So, I took a chance to take the train to Beijing to join it, yeah. You don’t know enough the cruelty the Communist Party came back [with] on Chinese people.

Aschieris: Yeah, that is so incredible. I have been covering and looking at the protests that are going on in China right now and just have been amazed by the courage and the bravery of these people that are standing up to the Chinese Communist Party. Before we talk about present day, I just want to ask if you, going back to 1989 to present day, what changes have you seen over the last few decades in China in respect to the rights there?

Lin: Yeah, I think, actually, huge change in China, and actually today, you just saw the news that the former leader, Jiang Zemin, passed away in China, right? So, actually, after 1989, that Jiang Zemin came into power, and then next 30 years he’s in power, and then after him, Hu Jintao. Hu Jintao is still in the shadow. Hu Jintao is still being controlled by Jiang Zemin, so Jiang Zemin is actually in direct control, or in indirect control of China. And so, for more than 20 years.

So, it’s a huge change in China, because overall, during the Jiang periods, he emphasizing, Chinese people, you just need to focus on getting rich, getting money, regardless the means that you can take. And so, he basically, he ruled China using corruption to make sure that Communist Party members stay loyalty to the party, and then using corruption to bribe the social elite, the intellectual elite, or kind of different level of the government systems. Also, using the corruption to make sure they follow his order, even in 1989, when he persecuted Falun Gong. He established the 610 Office, especially responsible for persecution of Falun Gong, right?

That system is actually totally out of the legal judicial system, so he can enact this kind of system using the money to bribe these officers in the judicial system to carry out a crack-down policy. So basically, he’s emphasizing [to] the Chinese society, just focus on [gross domestic product’s] growth, and regardless how much sacrifice on the environment, on the social improvement, or many other things. You can sacrifice as long as you get a good GDP, right?

So basically, you quickly bring whole morality of the China down very, very fast. So now, they probably, international society know China always have some fake products coming out, right? Stealing intellectual property, all these kind of problem. But that was triggered after 1989 persecution, after Jiang Zemin came into power, that people were encouraged just focus on profit, focus on your interest, and so, regarding any means you can use. So I think that after that, there’s a huge decline in morality in China.

Also, they strongly suppress people’s freedom of speech. So nowadays for young people, many people don’t know about the Tiananmen Square massacre, right? They have no idea that Chinese government actually use tanks to crack down student protest. So, this is a very, very different generation now. 

So, it’s actually very surprising to see now young people actually has the courage, again, to come out to protest, even call for step-down [of] the Communist Party. I think probably things have both sides, right? The students have no idea what happened in 1989, so they don’t know about the cruelty as well, just like me at the beginning.

So, these younger generation now, they step forward. They want to call for step-down [of Chinese President] Xi Jinping, “Step down, Xi Jinping,” because many people still have no idea about the brutality the Communist Party can do. 

And in the last two decades, so many crack down against underground Christians, against Uyghurs, against Tibetans, right? And against Falun Gong. So, many of the young people, they don’t know, because the government now has established digital totalitarianism. They control the message that people can receive, so it’s more intricate brainwashing than before the 1989.

Because in the 1980s, the press environment was relatively loose, so the Chinese people can still see some foreign informations. And so, now it’s just so tightly controlled, people were locked down more tightly. Visually, we can see, under “zero COVID” policy, Chinese people are locked down in their house and home, right? But I think in the ideological world, in the mind, in the psychologies, Chinese people were also locked down for a long time, because they cannot access free information for long, long time, and they’ve been brainwashed. So, this is the overall situation. I think it’s very, very different than the situation in 1980s.

Aschieris: Yeah, and I’m also curious, too, when you were a freshman in college heading to Beijing to support these protests, was your family supportive of you? What was their reaction to you participating in these protests?

Lin: Well, they don’t know, because my family, they didn’t know that I went to Beijing. My family’s in Fuzhou, in Fujian province down in the south. So, I attended college in Hangzhou, is middle, near Shanghai. So I think, if my parents know I’m heading to Beijing, they probably will try to block. But for young people at the time, you just needed to go follow your heart, to go to see what was happening in Beijing.

But it is a huge, huge lesson I never forget because you see, when people are united, how much power it can be, and then you also witness this, the crackdown. And personally, I witnessed the tank rolling on students’ heads. You can’t believe these and you never forget about these, and you understand the dictatorship, the evilness of the Communist Party right away.

Aschieris: Yeah, it’s been really eye-opening to see even, I mean, much, much less graphic than someone having their head run over with a tank, and just seeing people being carried away, being arrested. 

There was one image that I saw of someone who was being arrested. He was being carried by police officers. He was protesting over the weekend. It’s really, I mean, it’s good that these images are getting out, that they are being able to spread around the globe, because people are taking action, and just earlier this week in Washington, D.C., there was a candlelight vigil for the victims of the apartment fire, and people were rallying, calling for the end of the CCP and Xi Jinping’s reign as their leader. So, it definitely is becoming, at least for right now, a global calling. 

And over the last few days, in response to China’s zero-COVID policy, as we’ve been talking about, there’s been these protests, and what are your thoughts on what we’ve been seeing now, and how do the two uprisings, what you lived through in 1989, compare to what we’re seeing today?

Lin: I think at that time in the 1980s, people definitely were very, very angry and upset about the corruption level. But at that time, nobody even talk about this integrated Communist Party, to call for a step-down of the Communist Party. People still give them hope, right? People still hope someone like Zhao Ziyang in the Communist Party systems can stay open-minded and can do good things for the people.

But now, 33 years later, I think people are totally disappointed and totally lost any confidence in the Communist Party. So now, people are challenging the legitimacy of the Communist Party’s ruling, and this is fundamentally different. And I think that Chinese people have suffered so tremendously in the last two, three years under COVID lockdown. So many people lost their job. So many people, very hard to maintain their living standard now, so their anger has been accumulated to an unprecedented level. So, that’s why I feel this time is very different.

And to me, it’s more or less, it’s like in 1976 when Mao passed away, when Zhou Enlai passed away. And so, I think China right now is facing a big, very, very important moment, that society has become very, very unstable. 

The Communist Party ruling is at least one of the weakest moment, even though Xi Jinping has all the power in his hand. But I think he’s very, very vulnerable and he’s facing strong challenges inside the party as well. And people will continue protesting in different ways. And I’m very, very impressed that Chinese people now can have so many creative ways to show their protests.

And also, one thing is very, very different, is that now, 33 years later, people have the cellphone in their hand, right? In the 1980s, you have, the Communist Party control all the media. People have no way to express their angers quickly through the internet, right? They cannot spread a message widely. So at that time, you rely on international media to cover it. But now, I think, with the cellphone, the messages, the brutal image that you just mentioned can be quickly shared worldwide. So I think this is a different level of protest, as it were, a different level of information exchange. So, people can be waken up much faster than before.

I remember in 1989, actually, one of the most difficult things after the crackdown happened is the Chinese Communist Party using their own propaganda machine to create a different narrative for the student protests. And then, on the second half of the year of 1989, all the Chinese people were forced to toe the party line, to buy the Communist Party story about what happened in Tiananmen Square. They called it political turmoil. They mentioned that someone wanted to overthrow the government. The government say whatever they want and people have no way to get the information.

And even if I was a direct eyewitness of the brutality, when I went back to my hometown and I would mention to people what I witnessed, many people still doubt because they don’t see it. It’s not like nowadays. You see the video, right? You share the image to people, many people start to see right away. At that time, it was very difficult. 

So now, I think, even though the government have very, very complete control of society through this digital totalitarianism system, but at the same time, people can waken up much faster than before.

So, I think the power of people will be manifest in different way, and they will be very creative, and will be very fast-changing in China as well. But at the same time, the Communist Party won’t let it go easily. So, I actually think brutal suppression waves is coming, but probably in different form as well. 

And when we saw the news that the Shanghai police is actually checking on many people’s cellphones to try to see if they are engaged in the protest in the last weekend—so, they have these different digital tools now, but I think it will also further trigger more angers against the Communist Party.

Aschieris: Yeah, it’s been really interesting watching these protests. And you talked about different creative ways that people have been protesting, and we’ve seen images of white blank papers, pieces of paper. A few people had them on Monday at the protest. And with all of this pent-up anger against the Communist Party and Xi Jinping, is it likely that we see any major changes in China? If Xi Jinping does potentially give these protesters what they want regarding the zero-COVID policy, easing that up, what does that then say about his leadership?

Lin: Xi Jinping has a nickname. He’s called the General Accelerator, right? He’s accelerating the collapse of the Communist Party. And so, I think any leader with a rational mind might think about to give something to the people to ease the anger, maybe loosen up the lockdown policies somewhat. 

But I’m kind of doubting Xi Jinping will do that. He’s very stubborn one, and he can stick to his zero-COVID policies, and he can enforce crack-down policies. He can even, there are rumors talking about it, he may put many out in the big city in two weeks’ lockdown, in order to screen through the people who joined the protest. He may do something like that to further trigger the anger because he still feels he’s in control.

But I think different regions, many, many of the local leadership maybe have totally fed up with this situation. Many of the police may not support the crack-down policy, they may not implement it. And also, the central government pretty much pushed the problem down to the local level, right? Central government, in one hand, they’re telling, “We need to stick to zero-COVID policy,” and on the other hand, they’re telling them, “You cannot elevate the level of lockdown.” 

So, the local Communist Party government system have a very difficult situation, so they probably want to somewhat have a compromise in between.

So, it is very difficult for them to really, really, following the central government’s policy. So, I think it will also further triggering local Communist Party leadership to betray the central government’s policies. It will further create more conflict, cracking inside the Communist Party system. So, I think it will trigger faster change inside the Communist Party.

So, it more or less says, I think, for Chinese people, for Chinese student nowadays protest, whether inside China or outside China, I think the key is that they need to just express their anger or dissent or discontent against the current policy in different way. And it don’t have to be very, very, how to say, to do a grand scale, very, very coordinated protest. You don’t have to do that. As long as you have a way to show your disagreement, it’s encouragement.

I think the key issue is more Chinese people breaking away the fear that the Communist Party had implemented in people’s heart for decades through so many political movements, through so many different kinds of persecution. Many Chinese people already have that fear against Communist Party for a long, long time. And now, it’s a challenge to break away from the fear, to show your disobedience against the dictatorship. 

I think this is a process. For many people, it may take some time, and now it’s just the beginning, and if more and more people can show their disobedience, then China will have a bigger change.

Aschieris: And from your perspective, what would you like to see happen, in terms of the global response to what is happening in China? Like, we’ve talked about, there’s been protests and there’s been gatherings of people coming out in support of the protesters and their mission in China. But from President Joe Biden, for example, or other leaders throughout the world, what would you like to see done?

Lin: Well, I think the leader in the free world needs to be more courageous, needs to make very strong statement to support Chinese people’s freedom of expression and the freedom of protest, and needs to send an unambiguous message to Communist Party to warn them to not take any extreme measure to crack down the protest. I think we need to have a great message to send to the Communist Party to tell them, “If you do anything extreme, you will suffer more consequence, direct consequence.”

Maybe even, for example, I think that when, in the Trump administration, when the consulate in Houston was locked down, it was a huge blow to the Communist Party. So, I think international leaders can think about some strategy like that. 

If you continue to crack down the students’ protest or the civilians’ protest, many more countries can shut down more consulates, Communist Party consulate in their countries. So, give the message to the Communist Party, they will be further isolated in China and do more sanctions against the Communist Party elites. 

I think it needs to be more straightforward as well, and maybe some economist sanction as well, I think need to be, do it for real. And right now, I’m a little bit disappointed that the current Biden administration still pretty much just deliver lip service. I don’t think that’s strong enough.

Aschieris: Now, Sean, just before we go, I’m not sure how likely it is that this podcast will reach the ears of protesters in China, but if you could share a message with the people on the ground, what would that message be?

Lin: I would say, their protest is historical. It’s very inspiring. They need to keep on their great efforts to wake up more Chinese people, to help more Chinese people break away the fear against the Communist Party, and the truth will shine. 

And the evils always try to hide, try to use all kinds of disguised ways to deceive Chinese people, make Chinese people believe these so-called COVID policies is for pandemic control. No, that’s actually totally a lie. It’s basically a way to establish control in the society, more complete digital totalitarianism against Chinese people, and Chinese people are being treated like animals.

And so, these are the reality, and don’t believe any words regarding about using different tactic to do pandemic control. This is totally a lie. They are basically using this way to maintain their power. I think that Communist China is in the process of being completely collapsed, so I think the Chinese people are doing the rising at the right historical moment. They just need to continue and have the courage and the perseverance to continue protesting.

Aschieris: Well, Dr. Sean Lin, thank you so much for joining us today and giving us some insight into what you experienced back in 1989 as well as what’s been going on over the last couple of days in China. Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

Lin: Oh, thank you very much for inviting me. Thank you.

Documents Reveal Senate Democrat Pressured IRS, DOJ to Target Conservative Groups

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., called for revoking a tax exemption for a conservative group for not masking up and socially distancing during the pandemic, insisted on a slew of investigations of other conservative groups, and pressed for the Internal Revenue Service to expand its reach. 

A total of 176 pages of correspondence from and to Whitehouse was obtained from the IRS by the conservative watchdog group American Accountability Foundation through the Freedom of Information Act and shared with The Daily Signal. 

“It’s abundantly clear that [Whitehouse] is trying to take the 87,000 new IRS agents and put them to work investigating me and my friends because he doesn’t like their politics,” Tom Jones, president and founder of the American Accountability Foundation, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Tuesday. 

The letters span from Jan. 19, 2021, the day before President Joe Biden took office, into May 2022. 

‘Lois Lerner on Steroids’

Whitehouse long has been a critic of conservative, nonprofit organizations and uses an expansive definition of “dark money” groups, broadly defined as tax-exempt organizations that don’t disclose donors. 

The Supreme Court, in 1958 and 2021 cases, has struck down compelled donor disclosure requirements at the state level.

The Rhode Island Democrat, first elected in 2006, has made “dark money” a central point of Senate floor speeches and often uses up his entire five-minute question period to make related speeches during hearings of the Senate’s Judiciary and Finance committees. 

“It’s Lois Lerner on steroids,” Jones said of what’s in the Whitehouse correspondence, referring to the Internal Revenue Service official in the middle of the Obama-era IRS scandal over the targeting of tea party groups. 

“The Lois Lerner stuff was a mid-level bureaucrat abusing [her] power to investigate conservative groups,” he said. “This is a U.S. senator basically trying to turn the heat up on investigations by the Internal Revenue Service.”

“So, if Sheldon Whitehouse had his way,” Jones said, “Lois Lerner would just look like a test run of what Sheldon Whitehouse has in mind.”

Jones’ nonprofit American Accountability Foundation describes itself as “a government oversight and research organization that uses investigative tools to educate the public on issues related to personnel, policy, and spending.”

Targeting Turning Point USA

In a letter dated Jan. 19, 2021, Whitehouse asked IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to revoke the tax-exempt status of Turning Point USA because the conservative organization held an event at then-President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club without masking and social distancing. 

Turning Point USA’s mission is to train and develop young Americans to become conservative leaders.

“Tax-exempt status provides a substantial benefit to charitable organizations and reflects the federal government’s endorsement of an organization’s activities,” Whitehouse wrote to the IRS chief. “Organizations that knowingly put in danger minors entrusted to their care should not enjoy the benefits of tax-exempt status. Accordingly, I urge the IRS to review whether it should revoke Turning Point USA’s tax-exempt status.”

Many of the documents provided by the IRS to meet the public records request were heavily redacted, but the Whitehouse letter referencing Turning Point USA also appears in full on Whitehouse’s Senate website

Rettig’s response to Whitehouse, dated March 28, 2021, asserts that the IRS wouldn’t tell him if it were investigating or otherwise acting against the conservative youth organization. The reply was not available before the FOIA request. 

“You shared your concern about reports that the organization hosted COVID-19 super-spreader events in violation of local regulations,” Rettig told Whitehouse. “You urged the IRS to review and consider whether we should revoke its tax-exempt status.”

A portion of Rettig’s response was redacted. The letter then goes on to say: “Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code protects the privacy of tax returns and tax return information of all taxpayers. Therefore, we cannot disclose any actions we may or may not take on this information.”

Whitehouse’s concern over “dark money” groups generally is one-sided, Jones noted. He referred to the billion-dollar Arabella Advisors network of liberal nonprofit groups. 

“What’s important about these letters is it makes it very clear that a U.S. senator is attempting to essentially encourage the IRS to investigate his political opponents,” Jones said. “He never mentions there is a vast group of left-wing nonprofits whose funding I envy. … You don’t hear a peep from Sheldon Whitehouse about New Venture Fund, Arabella Advisors, Sixteen Thirty, a laundry list of folks on the Left.” 

‘Fall Between the Infielders’

The final letter the IRS made available was an inquiry from Whitehouse to Rettig, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Attorney General Merrick Garland about why his concerns had not been investigated. 

“I have described to you flagrant and persistent instances in which 501(c)(4) organizations engage in political activity—and report that political spending to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) or its state equivalents—while telling the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that they did not engage in any political activity,” Whitehouse wrote in the letter dated May 5, 2022. 

The Rhode Island Democrat referenced a 2012 report by the left-leaning investigative reporting website ProPublica, which found that 32 nonprofits reporting electioneering to the Federal Election Commission and state equivalents did not also report it to the IRS. 

He said a 2022 report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group, found about two dozen nonprofits doing the same. 

“This fact pattern, where tax-exempt organizations’ submissions under oath to different government entities are plainly inconsistent, should present straightforward cases for the IRS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to pursue,” Whitehouse wrote. “Such facts present prima facie cases of noncompliance with IRS rules, and predicate ‘false statement’ investigations.”

However, Whitehouse noted that Rettig responded at a Senate Finance Committee hearing in April that the IRS never has referred a single case of inconsistent statements to the Justice Department and it doesn’t appear that the Justice Department investigated such statements.

“I request that IRS and DOJ together brief my office on this matter,” Whitehouse wrote. “I request both Commissioner Rettig and Attorney General Garland to clarify the referral policy between IRS and DOJ so that well-predicated investigations do not constantly fall between the infielders.”

The documents provided by the public records request to the IRS don’t show a response to Whitehouse’s request. 

The IRS, Treasury Department, and Justice Department did not respond to inquiries from The Daily Signal for this report. 

Whitehouse’s Senate press office also did not respond Tuesday or Wednesday.

Whitehouse is “taking a spaghetti-to-the-wall approach” in going after conservative groups, hoping to see what sticks, American Accountability Foundation’s Jones said.

“It’s simply wrong, an abuse of his position,” Jones said. “Thankfully, the IRS hasn’t indulged in what Whitehouse is asking them to do, but you have to remain vigilant. He is a United States senator, close with the [Biden] White House.”

“At some point, the dam could break on this and conservative nonprofits could get a knock on their door from IRS agents because a U.S. senator wants them to investigate his political opponents.”

Rettig’s Resistance

Whitehouse joined a letter led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., along with 38 other Senate Democrats. Klobuchar’s April 27, 2021, letter to Rettig and Yellen urged executive action to reinstate disclosure requirements for some tax-exempt groups. 

“We write to urge the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to eliminate disclosure requirements for certain tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activity,” the letter says. “As it stands, this policy weakens federal tax laws, campaign finance laws, and longstanding efforts to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections.”

Rettig responded to the senators in a June 8, 2021, letter explaining that the IRS can’t help other agencies enforce campaign finance laws. The IRS commissioner wrote:

We determined it was not necessary to the efficient administration of the internal revenue laws for such tax-exempt organizations (those not described in Sections 501 (c)(3) or 527 of the Code) to report annually the names and addresses of substantial contributors; however, all tax-exempt organizations must continue to report the amounts of contributions from each substantial contributor, maintain the names and addresses of their substantial contributors in their own books and records, and provide such information upon request.

Rettig’s response letter goes on to say that unauthorized sharing of tax information could be illegal:

Congress has not authorized the IRS to enforce campaign finance laws. In addition, Section 6103 of the Code strictly limits the IRS’s ability to share tax information with other federal agencies. Accordingly, the IRS cannot disclose any names or addresses of substantial contributors to other federal agencies for non-tax investigations, including campaign finance matters, except in very narrowly prescribed circumstances. Unauthorized disclosures may lead to civil and criminal liability.

Expanding the IRS

Days after Senate passage of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, which added 87,000 new IRS agents, Whitehouse joined Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to urge Rettig to take immediate action. 

The Aug. 10, 2021, letter from the three New England senators said the IRS “needs to go after wealthy tax cheats.” 

Whitehouse, Warren, and Sanders wrote:

Part of the reason for the massive tax gap is that more than a decade of politically motivated budget cuts have hampered the IRS’s ability to perform its core duties—especially enforcement focused on the ultra-rich and large corporations. … Without the necessary resources, audit rates for the very richest taxpayers, those with incomes over $10 million, are nearly 80% lower than they were a decade ago, and audits of the largest companies, those with over $20 billion in assets, declined by nearly 50%.

Rettig responded more positively to this letter about greater resources for his agency, providing detailed information about audits and tax collection in a response seven days later, on Aug. 27, 2021. 

“Maintaining a flat budget will continue to deprive Americans of both the nature and quality of services they deserve, producing a continuing decline in fairness and service,” Rettig told the Democrat senators. “Adding substantial multi-year mandatory funding, however, provides an opportunity to greatly improve federal tax administration for all Americans. The gross revenue collected by the IRS is approximately $3.5 trillion per year, representing around 96% of the gross revenue of the United States.” 

Rettig continued: 

Investing in IRS technology, data analytics, and people will improve taxpayer services, restore base enforcement functions that have declined substantially over the last decade, improve the effectiveness of our existing enforcement workforce and programs, help us tackle key compliance priorities and emerging issues, and allow us to invest in programs essential to maintaining the broad compliance framework. 

By Fred Lucas is chief news correspondent and manager of the Investigative Reporting Project for The Daily Signal.Reproduced with permission. Original here.

A Revolution in Parking Is (Quietly) Spreading Across America

With the City Council’s recent vote, Cambridge, Massachusetts becomes the latest city to reform parking requirements. Cambridge is unique among Massachusetts cities in that it is the first to fully eliminate parking minimums citywide. But it is not unique among U.S. cities more generally, and comes as a wave of other locations, including San Francisco, California; Lexington, Kentucky; and St. Paul, Minnesota; have made sweeping parking reforms.

Parking minimums are a type of urban regulation that require developers to provide a predetermined number of parking spaces for a certain number of residential units or a given developed square footage. These mandates centralize decision making and impose uniformity, rather than leaving parking decisions to developers or property owners who are likely to understand the needs of residents and appreciate how these needs vary across geography and over time.

As such, parking mandates are a great example of an urban regulation that reduces efficiency and unnecessarily increases costs. Parking mandates also compel vehicle‐​centric transit in what is—or would otherwise be—urban areas. Because land is expensive, especially in urban and development constrained areas, the costs of parking mandates can be substantial.

For instance, one paper found that the construction cost of a parking space ranged from $17,000 (aboveground, in Phoenix) to $48,000 (underground, in Honolulu). But even these estimates underestimate the true cost of a parking space by ignoring the cost of land for above ground parking as well as the opportunity cost related to foregone, higher utility development, both above and below ground: in places where parking is required, office, retail, or residential space could be developed instead. For example, in suburban Seattle, parking minimums were estimated to reduce the number of residences in buildings by 13 percent.

Parking minimums meaningfully affect the cost of office and retail space. For example, providing parking in an aboveground structure is estimated to raise the construction cost of office space by an average of 30 percent, while providing parking underground increased the construction cost of office space an average of 47 percent. For shopping centers, parking minimums are estimated to increase the cost of construction even further, by 37 percent (aboveground) and 55 percent (underground).

Figure 1. The Cost of Retail Parking Requirements Across Select U.S. Cities

Source: The High Cost of Minimum Parking Requirements

But more importantly from the typical person’s perspective, parking minimums increase the cost of housing. Recent research finds that the cost of garage parking is approximately $1,700 per year or an additional 17% of rent for renters. Unfortunately, these costs, like zoning regulations more generally, fall hardest on low‐​income renters that are unable to readily absorb the costs of increased rents and that often have no need for parking spaces in the first place.

This is beginning to change with current reforms. A Parking Reform Network map indicates that parking reform is occurring across the United States (Figure 2). Better yet, the effects of those reforms are beginning to materialize.

Figure 2. Parking Reform Activity in the U.S.

Caption

As one example, in 2012 Seattle eliminated parking minimums in neighborhoods with multifamily housing in urban centers and urban villages near high‐​frequency transit, along with reduced parking requirements elsewhere and for certain housing types (Figure 3). As a result of the reduction in parking requirements, researchers found that $537 million in construction costs were saved over a five‐​year period. Without Seattle’s reform, the authors predict that developers would have been required to construct an additional 18,000 parking stalls, at an approximate cost of $30,000 per space. That would surely result in higher costs for Seattle buyers and renters.

Figure 3. Seattle Residential Development and Parking Requirements, 2012–2017

Source: Parking policy: The Effects of Residential Minimum Parking Requirements in Seattle

Similarly, following a 2015 Minneapolis reduction in parking requirements, developers were able to untether housing offerings from parking amenities. As a result, new studio apartments were reportedly offered 17 percent below typical market price.

As parking reform continues, examples of cost reductions and improved affordability will inevitably continue to surface. The market is both responsive and innovative when it is allowed to operate in a context of regulatory freedom, and it can respond to the varied demands and preferences surrounding parking much more precisely than any city planner could hope to. With luck, cities will continue to get out of the way and let the market do its work.

This Cato Institute article was republished with permission. 

Vanessa Brown Calder
Vanessa Brown Calder

Vanessa Brown Calder is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, where she focuses on social welfare, housing, and urban policy.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Evil Empires Creeping Into West. Where’s Biden’s Strategy to Save US Interests?

Soon after Brazil’s leftist former president, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, secured a non-consecutive third term in October, the White House rushed to embrace the incoming government. With the addition of Brazil, a new bloc of Latin American countries that were once reliable U.S. partners will now be governed by presidents determined to expand ties with China, Russia, and Iran.

The Biden administration is eager to work with Lula on issues like climate and recently announced it is preparing an “early opportunity” to meet with him. This is in stark contrast to its treatment of outgoing conservative President Jair Bolsonaro, who could not secure a meeting with President Joe Biden until threatening to boycott the Summit of the Americas this past June.

Lula, who previously governed between 2003 and 2010, narrowly defeated incumbent Bolsonaro by a less than 2% margin. Lula’s political comeback is astounding after he spent 580 days in prison for convictions for money laundering and corruption charges. He was later released on procedural grounds by his Worker’s Party-appointed majority in the Supreme Court but was never exonerated.

The harsh economic impact of the pandemic and persistent media attacks on Bolsonaro both locally and internationally led a slim majority of Brazilians to opt for Lula, who spent months moderating his rhetoric and building a broad coalition with traditional centrist politicians.

Far Left Anti-US Leaders in all Major Latin American economies

If its engagements with the region’s other recently elected leftist leaders are any indication, the Biden administration is likely to pursue closer relations with Lula. But a White House eager to snub outgoing Bolsonaro and embrace Lula on issues like climate should not overlook the serious questions that another Lula term will pose for U.S. interests in its own neighborhood.

When Lula takes office on Jan. 1, every major Latin American economy will be governed by the far Left for the first time ever. A new bloc by way of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico is in the making. These countries will now be led by presidents who have derided U.S. influence while growing economic and diplomatic ties with the Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan dictatorships.

Lula, who founded the leftist São Paulo Forum in 1990 with Fidel Castro, defended Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega just this year. In his first presidency, Lula used Brazil’s development bank to channel funds to the region’s dictators, including nearly a billion dollars to a Mariel port project in Cuba.

Since the “pink tide” of the early 2000s brought the first major wave of leftist leaders to the region, the Latin American Left has also sought to materialize “regional integration” efforts. This would include the participation of their authoritarian allies in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

This year, Lula campaigned on regional integration, including developing a regional currency, the “SUR.” Then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a similar attempt over a decade ago but failed to garner sufficient support from the region’s largest economies. However, the political climate is increasingly favorable and the technological progress of digital currencies, including a push from Beijing, could strengthen efforts. Like Chavez, Lula does not hide the fact that this is a deliberate effort to weaken dependency on the U.S. dollar.

Most importantly, Lula has a history of keeping relations with Washington afloat while readily embracing the influence of communist China and allies Russia and Iran. Since his first presidency, Lula’s foreign policy has opted for a “multi-polar” world, even one (in practice) where Beijing and Moscow might be powerful poles in the Western Hemisphere. He already met with China’s special climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, at the COP27 conference in Egypt.

Pro-China Union

Lula is likely to help revive the “Union of South American Nations” with Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro and to strengthen the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, two multilateral bodies that exclude U.S. participation. CELAC is notable for hosting communist China’s regional ministerial forums. In the most recent forum in December, China announced a laundry list of areas of cooperation with the region’s governments, including in nuclear and aerospace.

In his first two terms, Lula was instrumental to positioning Beijing’s influence in Brazil. China increased its trade with Brazil sixteenfold under his tenure, evolving from initial investments in rare earth minerals, oil and gas, and agriculture to sensitive telecommunications and infrastructure projects, and later to capital goods, manufacturing, and the service sector.

According to Freedom House, a U.S. nonprofit that advocates for democracy and human rights, at least four major Chinese state media outlets have offices in Brazil, Chinese state television has an active presence, and a Chinese Communist Party-funded publishing house works with locals to publish a pro-CCP newspaper. The outgoing Bolsonaro government initially tried to block the CCP-linked telecommunications giant Huawei from negotiating sensitive 5G spectrum projects in Brazil, but ultimately relented.

Despite mixed rhetoric during his election campaign, all of this is likely to expand under Lula, who used the commodities boom of the early 2000s coming largely from China to boost public spending during his earlier time as Brazil’s president. He was also a co-founder of the Brazil Russia India China South Africa grouping, the expanding economic bloc that now may include Iran and is being wielded of late to counter U.S. economic influence.

Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America and a democracy of 217 million people, is too important a security and economic partner to the United States to become a client state for malign actors or a source of regional instability. If the Biden administration is serious about countering China and its allies in its own hemisphere, it urgently needs a strategy that makes this threat its number one priority with the incoming Lula government.

Mateo Haydar is a research assistant for Latin America in The Heritage Foundation’s Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy. Reproduced with permission. Original here.

Here’s the Radical Trump Hater They Picked to Replace Pelosi.

House Democrats have chosen Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to follow Nancy Pelosi in leading Democrats in the next Congress as minority leader. 

Jeffries, a 52-year-old New York Democrat, is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Budget Committee as well as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. He is avidly anti-former President Donald Trump, has painted Republicans as “extreme MAGA Republicans” who wish to “criminalize abortion care, end Social Security, and undermine Democracy,” and has repeatedly questioned the results of the 2016 election. 

“Humbled to be elected incoming House Democratic Leader,” he said Wednesday in a Twitter post. “Ready to get to work.”

Leftist groups and Democrats celebrated Jeffries’ promotion. MeidasTouch, a progressive political action committee, predicted that he would be the “GOP’s worst nightmare.”

Conservative groups pointed out that Jeffries has repeatedly questioned the results of the 2016 election, claiming it was “ILLEGITIMATE.” 

 “America deserves to know whether we have a FAKE President in the Oval Office,” he tweeted in 2018

Longtime California Democrat Pelosi had announced Nov. 17 that she would not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress, saying: “For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect.”

“There is no greater special honor for me than to stand on this floor and to speak for the people of San Francisco,” she added. “This I will continue to do as a member of the House speaking for the people of San Francisco, serving the great state of California and defending our Constitution.”

Pelosi was the first woman to control the House of Representatives. Under her leadership, Democrats have pushed some of the most radical legislation the United States has ever seen, including the Women’s Health Protection Act and the Respect for Marriage Act.

By Mary Margaret Olohan is a senior reporter for The Daily Signal. She previously reported for The Daily Caller and The Daily Wire, where she covered national politics as well as social and cultural issues. Reproduced with permission. Original here.

Apple’s threat to Elon Musk says everything about Big Tech strangling U.S. economy

Apple’s threat to Elon Musk that it will cancel Twitter from the App Store confirms anticompetitive corporate censorship regime strangling U.S. economy

“Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why.”

Elon Musk
They don’t anymore. The genius Steve Jobs must be spinning in his grave.

That was Twitter CEO Elon Musk on Nov. 28 in a tweet, warning Twitter’s more than 250 million daily active users that their favorite app may be removed from Apple’s App Store available exclusively on iPhones after Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion.

And yet Musk’s purchase of Twitter — which works perfectly fine, by the way, as I use it every day —appears to be the only conceivable reason to remove it from the App Store.

By offering free speech as a product in Twitter and taking the company private, Musk has revealed and confirmed an anticompetitive corporate censorship regime that took down Parler in 2021 and compelled former President Donald Trump to launch Truth Social after his own Twitter and Facebook accounts were suspended after the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol the day Congress was to certify President Joe Biden’s election.

In fact, Twitter is used by more than 110 million businesses large and small worldwideto communicate with customers, clients and even employees every single day. If it were suddenly removed from Apple devices, the amount of commerce and services that would be disrupted could be incalculable.

Because that commerce includes both interstate commerce and international commerce, it has long fallen squarely on Congress’ lap to protect it with wise laws — such as communications laws, antitrust laws, securities laws, etc. — to ensure that said commerce is not disrupted to such a degree it.

Indeed, companies like Apple are not immune from commercial regulations, and by declaring itself the lord of the U.S. economy by cancelling one of the most important apps used in the global economy, it would surely invite even more oversight, rules and perhaps even taxes.

For example, landline phones have long been bound by regulation from the Federal Communications Commission after it was created by Congress in 1934 to regulate public utilities. Cell phones are further regulated under the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The conditions of those laws could easily be changed by Congress, or existing FCC (or FTC, or SEC) regulations could be modified, suspended or defunded by Congress in any future budget, omnibus spending bill or continuing resolution.

Especially if Apple’s potential rationale for cancelling Twitter was political.

Or perhaps was driven by political or even governmental agencies using the pressure of regulation to achieve the censorship under the guise of private corporate terms of service. Those might include the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Administration or the FBI, or even the NSA. Those are all regulable by Congress as well. They better not be involved. But some of them likely are.

The fact it was even threatened similarly invites the regulation of massive platform companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and others, but also payment processors like Visa and Mastercard, because it means that alternative voices like Musk’s are actually not allowed.

And this is Elon Musk, one of the world’s richest men. So, if the internet’s not safe for him to do business, sell electric vehicles, get humanity to Mars and post Dogecoin memes, then it’s not safe for any of us. How can anyone make money in an environment where whether commerce is allowed or not is not by the top regulator, Congress, but by a few megalithic corporations that answer to no one.

These companies forget themselves. They are subject to regulation, taxation and even prohibition. The Constitution limits the exercise of the commerce power, but federal courts have long allowed for additional regulation, especially when it has to do with smaller businesses being threatened by larger businesses.

The American people will tolerate many things. Obscene profits. Golden parachutes. And so forth.

But they will not long tolerate censorship, especially if its purpose is foster establishmentarian one-party rule in a country founded and framed to prevent it.

Apple has a $2 trillion market cap. Twitter comparatively was worth just $44 billion in the end. That fact alone should not be enough to allow Apple to destroy that many years of investment and development, and to disrupt and restrict commerce among hundreds of millions of users. Americans prefer more democratic and market-driven systems that allow for fair trade practices and competition, which allows the cream to rise to top.

But with Apple and Google’s iron grip on smart phones—needed for many commercial transactions—competition is clearly being restricted. Musk on Nov. 28 hosted a pollproposing to Twitter users that “Apple should publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.” 84.7 percent said yes with 2.2 million voting. They know what’s going on. They’re not stupid.

Musk also issued an ominous warning about what it would mean for humanity if Twitter were cancelled, tweeting on Nov. 28: “This is a battle for the future of civilization. If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead.” He’s right.

Removing Twitter from Apple iPhones because Elon Musk bought Twitter and Apple doesn’t like his politics or views on free speech is tyrannical. It likely violates federal antitrust laws. It is censorship. And it must be stopped by Congress — before it is too late.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Reproduced with permission. Original here.

Senate Slams Door on Religious Tolerance in the USA.

United States Senate Passes Radical Respect for Marriage Act

The United States Senate has passed the Respect for Marriage Act without a vital amendment that conservatives had pushed to protect religious freedom. 

Image: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The bill’s supporters have claimed that the much-discussed legislation protects religious liberty. But opponents of the Respect for Marriage Act, including religious institutions like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, desperately warned ahead of the vote that it “puts a giant target on people of faith.”

The legislation repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, obliges those “acting under color of state law” to recognize same-sex marriages, and orders the federal government to recognize marriages that are deemed valid by one or more states.

Twelve Republican senators, who had previously voted to advance the legislation, voted for the final passage of the bill: Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Todd Young of Indiana.  

Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee had repeatedly raised concerns about the contents of the Respect for Marriage Act, urging Democrats and Republicans to come to an agreement on his amendment creating a strict policy that the federal government can’t discriminate on either viewpoint of marriage, whether same-sex or traditional.

>>> Read Sen. Mike Lee’s speech outlining the “profound consequences” the Respect for Marriage Act will have for people of faith

The senator’s amendment failed, 48-49, after a vote Tuesday. The amendment had a 60-vote affirmative threshold. 

On Tuesday, all of 12 Republican senators who had previously voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act voted for Lee’s amendment except Collins. Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin also voted for the Lee amendment. Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford’s and Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s amendments similarly failed, both 45-52.

In a letter sent last week directed at the 12 GOP senators who voted for the legislation, Lee emphasized that his amendment would “ensure that federal bureaucrats do not take discriminatory actions against individuals, organizations, nonprofits, and other entities based on their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage by prohibiting the denial or revocation of tax exempt status, licenses, contracts, benefits, etc.”

It would affirm that individuals still have the right to act according to their faith and deepest convictions even outside of their church or home,” the senator added, urging the senators to oppose cloture on the bill unless his amendment is added.

The free exercise of religion is absolutely essential to the health of our Republic,” Lee wrote in his letter, which was signed by 20 of his Republican colleagues and first published by The Daily Signal. “We must have the courage to protect it.”

Sullivan confirmed to The Daily Signal on Friday that he supported the Lankford and Lee amendments and “has been working hard to ensure that these amendments get votes on the Senate floor.”

Lummis similarly shared over the weekend that she would support the Lee amendment, though she did not say whether she would insist on the amendment’s adoption as a condition for supporting cloture on the legislation.

“Members of Congress who voted for this bill and claim to support religious liberty are either naïve or don’t understand the laws they are passing,” said Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy at The Heritage Foundation, in a statement. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

“Despite polling showing that their constituents oppose this legislation, they refused to adopt Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s amendment that would have protected the religious freedom of millions of Americans without taking away a single benefit or legal entitlement from same-sex couples,” Severino said.

“As a result, the tax-exempt status of religious schools and nonprofits is now up for debate. Additionally, the Left will try to use the bill to sue faith-based adoption agencies and contractors to drive them out of business as they have done in multiple states and localities already.”

Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy at The Heritage Foundation

Mary Margaret Olohan is a senior reporter for The Daily Signal. She previously reported for The Daily Caller and The Daily Wire, where she covered national politics as well as social and cultural issues. Reproduced with permission. Original here.

Rare dual eruption from neighboring volcanoes!

Mauna Loa erupting

Hawaii is experiencing the rare sight of two neighboring volcanoes erupting simultaneously. New lava flows gushed down Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, and Kilauea on the archipelago’s Big Island Tuesday. 

Kīlauea is the youngest and southeastern most volcano on the Island of Hawai‘i.  The summit eruption of the Kīlauea Volcano, within Halemaʻumaʻu crater, continued over the past 24 hours. All recent eruptive activity has been confined to the crater. No significant changes have been observed at the summit or in either rift zone.

Topographically Kīlauea appears as only a bulge on the southeastern flank of Mauna Loa, and so for many years Kīlauea was thought to be a mere satellite of its giant neighbor, not a separate volcano. However, research over the past few decades shows clearly that Kīlauea has its own magma-plumbing system, extending to the surface from more than 60 km deep in the earth.

In fact, the summit of Kīlauea lies on a curving line of volcanoes that includes Mauna Kea and Kohala and excludes Mauna Loa. In other words, Kīlauea is to Mauna Kea as Kama‘ehuakanaloa (formerly Lō‘ihi) is to Mauna Loa. Hawaiians used the word Kīlauea only for the summit caldera, but earth scientists and, over time, popular usage have extended the name to include the entire volcano.

CDC Head Insults Black Airman on Anniversary of Loathsome Medical Experiment

Rochelle Walensky should hang her head in shame. Pontificating about the dreadful study of syphilis effects on African American men in terms of failed ethics when she oversees the most draconian and least ethical agency in the vast pantheon of corrupt federal agencies takes a massive amount of unselfawareness.

The Tuskegee Study

In order to track the disease’s full progression, researchers provided no effective care as the study’s African American participants experienced severe health problems including blindness, mental impairment—or death.

The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male (informally referred to as the Tuskegee Experiment or Tuskegee Syphilis Study) was a study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the United States Public Health Service (PHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a group of nearly 400 African Americans with syphilis. The purpose of the study was to observe the effects of the disease when untreated, though by the end of the study medical advancements meant it was entirely treatable. The men were not informed of the nature of the experiment, and more than 100 died as a result. Wikipedia

CDC dress it up like this. No apology. No accountability. No humbling statement. Just a smug lecture:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the uncovering of the Tuskegee syphilis study, when the public learned that the Public Health Service (precursor of the CDC) for 40 years intentionally withheld effective therapy against a life-threatening illness in 400 African American men.

In 2010, we learned that the same research group had deliberately infected hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea in the 1940s, with the goal of developing better methods for preventing these infections. Despite 15 journal articles detailing the results, no physician published a letter criticizing the Tuskegee study. Informed consent was never sought; instead, Public Health Service researchers deceived the men into believing they were receiving expert medical care.

The study is an especially powerful parable because readers can identify the key players in the narrative and recognize them as exemplars of people they encounter in daily life-these flesh-and-blood characters convey the principles of research ethics more vividly than a dry account in a textbook of bioethics.

The study spurred reforms leading to fundamental changes in the infrastructure of research ethics. The reason people fail to take steps to halt behavior that in retrospect everyone judges reprehensible is complex.

Lack of imagination, rationalization, and institutional constraints are formidable obstacles. The central lessons from the study are the need to pause and think, reflect, and examine one’s conscience; the courage to speak; and above all the willpower to act. History, although about the past, is our best defense against future errors and transgressions. Is that right, Rochelle?

She was battered on Social Media

China erupts – Biden Silent

AF Branco: Big Guy in Chief

The terrifying sight of the special forces the people call “Big White” is becoming increasingly common across China.

Fears of a new Tiananmen Square style crackdown in China have been heightened by footage of tanks being deployed to the streets of major cities as the Communist Party faces massive unrest.

Riots and protests against further lockdowns are spontaneous happening across the country. People are demanding liberty and freedom.

Meanwhile the authorities are checking phones for unapproved messages and sending in more an more troops. In the suburbs there are “quarantine camps” all set up for the next wave of covid. But they could easily double as prisons. The photo above shows thousands of quarantine camps being built in China’s Guangzhou city. They are designed to detain 87,000 people. If authorities switch your COVID passport to code red, you need to do your time. This is about control, not a virus.

Meanwhile the Big Guy is silent. Big Tech Apple is complicit: it turned off an AirDrop feature on its iPhone that allowed protesters’ messages to spread quickly and without trace. The Senate is silent.

Billions have been sent to Ukraine but the Administration raises nary a murmur against the persecution of Chinese Christians, and now the broader Chinese population. Let’s wait for the Hunter laptop to find out just why the Bidens remain so quiet.

China’s Unprecedented Protests, Explained

An apartment fire in Urumqi, China, left at least 10 dead and injured at least nine others on Nov. 24, sparking nationwide and global protests against the Chinese Communist Party’s “zero-COVID-19” policy.

“It was really sparked by the fire in Urumqi. So, China has sort of a practice in its ‘zero-COVID’ policy of when it locks down cities or buildings, lots of times it’ll erect barricades or sometimes even lock or weld people inside,” said Michael Cunningham, a research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.) 

“And so, we’re not sure if any of that happened, but there’s a public perception that that was probably the case, and that that’s one of the reasons why so many people died in that fire,” he said.

Cunningham also discussed what the protesters are risking by speaking out against the communist regime. 

“Well, the protesters are risking everything. The [Chinese Communist Party] is an extremely powerful and an extremely brutal regime. It does not accept any dissent. So, I have to say, protests are not unheard of in China. They’re actually quite common, but they’re usually against local officials,” he explained.

“And so the stakes there aren’t nearly as high as when you’re literally standing up as some protesters have and said the [Chinese Communist Party] and [President] Xi Jinping have to go. Or when they’re standing up and saying, ‘No more totalitarianism. We want democracy,’ which is what we heard in some of the protests, as well, over the weekend,” Cunningham added. 

Cunningham joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss the ongoing civil unrest throughout China and protests around the world, the likelihood that Xi could be ousted, and the Vatican’s criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript, below.

Samantha Aschieris: Over the weekend, protests erupted throughout China, and even throughout the world, in response to the nation’s zero-COVID policy, as well as a fire in an apartment building in Urumqi that left at least 10 people dead and at least nine people injured. I’m thrilled to welcome back Michael Cunningham, a research fellow in the Asian Studies Center here at The Heritage Foundation, to discuss these protests and more. Michael, thanks so much for joining us.

Michael Cunningham: Thanks for having me again.

Aschieris: Of course. Now, first and foremost, can you tell us about these protests?

Cunningham: Yeah. Well, you gave a good introduction of what happened. It was really sparked by the fire in Urumqi. So China has sort of a practice in its zero-COVID policy of when it locks down cities or buildings, lots of times it’ll erect barricades or sometimes even lock or weld people inside. And so we’re not sure if any of that happened, but there’s a public perception that that was probably the case and that that’s one of the reasons why so many people died in that fire.

Now, what was surprising about it, though, was that protests just erupted. So my contacts on the ground in China explain how they literally, their WeChat, the social messaging app that is widely used in China, it just exploded over the weekend with just angry messages about the [Chinese Communist Party] regime, about zero-COVID, about [Chinese President] Xi Jinping, really unprecedented. 

And so it was sparked because of this fire. But there’s a lot of pent-up anger about the zero-COVID policies and about the erosion of individual freedoms, really, especially since Xi Jinping came to power, but more generally—and there’s a lot of concern and a feeling of desperation that a lot of people in China have as Xi has further consolidated his power. They’re worried about going back to previous periods of, well, other periods of one-man rule that have been characterized by just instability and bad policies.

Aschieris: One thing that I noticed while researching this unrest and looking at different photos was the use of white paper by protesters. What is this about? What’s the meaning behind it? I read that they’re labeling it, some reports are labeling it “the white paper protest.”

Cunningham: Yeah, so, using white papers, this is a pretty classic Chinese form of protest. They used it in Hong Kong as well after the government started cracking down. And it’s because they’re basically protesting the fact that they can’t say anything anyway. Anything they write on that paper would be considered reactionary and the government could prosecute them for it. And so even not writing anything on that paper can result in them going to jail. But that’s one thing they’ve done, is this white paper. 

The Chinese have very creative ways of protesting. In Tsinghua University, I believe it was Tsinghua, over the weekend we also saw a bunch of math students who held up a mathematical equation that means absolutely nothing to you and me, but it’s actually an equation called the Friedmann equation. And, of course, it’s a play on words, a freed man.

Aschieris: Wow, that’s pretty clever. I want to talk a little bit more about the protesters themselves, and as we’ve been talking about the lockdowns, what have these lockdowns been like? How long have they been going on and what is the severity of the lockdowns? Can people go anywhere?

Cunningham: It’s different in every city that’s locked down and every community that’s locked down. Urumqi had been locked down for about a hundred days. So we had the most visibility in the lockdowns in Shanghai this spring. We could see the lack of mobility.

But every city is different. And some of them, one person in the family can, or in a household, can leave every couple days to go grocery shopping and some nobody can leave. Generally, someone who’s under quarantine in China, what they’ll do is they’ll actually put an alarm on your door that if you open the door for more than a few seconds, it will actually alert the local police station. So you really cannot leave home.

Aschieris: And let’s say if people do leave home or even these protesters themselves, what are they risking? What are the potential consequences of their actions?

Cunningham: Well, the protesters are risking everything. The CCP is an extremely powerful and an extremely brutal regime. It does not accept any dissent. So I have to say, protests are not unheard of in China. They’re actually quite common, but they’re usually against local officials. And so the stakes there aren’t nearly as high as when you’re literally standing up as some protesters have and said the CCP and Xi Jinping have to go. Or when they’re standing up and saying, “No more totalitarianism. We want democracy,” which is what we heard in some of the protests as well over the weekend.

So some of these people, it just shows how much desperation they have that they’re standing up and openly defying this regime that literally can disappear them. And we only have to look at the people who survived the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Some of them have yet to see the light of day. Most of them who were punished for that, many of them have had their lives ruined.

Aschieris: I want to talk a little bit more about the Tiananmen Square protests and also Xi Jinping. We talked about this previously on the podcast, he was just given, secured a third five-year term, and we’ve seen these protests, as you mentioned, calling for his removal, the end to the CCP and the calls for democracy. How likely is that in China? What’s your prediction there?

Cunningham: Extremely unlikely. In order to take down the CCP or Xi—so the likelihood of Xi being removed from power would definitely be higher than the CCP. But basically, at this point, in order for protesters to topple the CCP, it would require for there to be a split in the top leadership of the CCP. And following the party congress, with Xi’s unprecedented consolidation of power, that’s even less likely than it already was. The leadership are Xi’s people. 

It’s very unlikely that that’s going to happen. But if things get really bad—and it would also take the senior leadership to decide that Xi has to go, which is also very unlikely. We don’t know right now if the protests are even going to continue long term or if they’re pretty much going to wind down. It’s a very dynamic situation right now. But if they do continue long term, it’s probably not going to end well for the protesters.

Aschieris: Yeah, that was actually another one of my questions, was, how long do you think these protests will go on? Do you think they’ll continue to get bigger or will they stay about the size that they are now?

Cunningham: Well, right now, it’s not yet a mass movement like what we saw in Hong Kong a few years ago, where every sector of society is involved in, to some extent. 

Right now, so far, they’re mostly localized protests, except they’re happening all throughout the country. But we’re talking universities, protesting on campus, people protesting near their communities. It’s very hard to organize large-scale protests due to the surveillance state, due to the fact that all of their communications can be monitored and will be. 

So it’s an open question. As I said, it’s a very dynamic situation. Things could continue to escalate from here. Things seemed relatively quiet last night in China, or I guess tonight in China because of the time difference compared to over the weekend. … So they could end pretty quickly, but if they continue and it continues to escalate, then we could see things go on for quite some time.

Aschieris: And where these protests are happening, you just mentioned in universities, more at the local level, is there any significance to where these protests are happening location wise?

Cunningham: Usually not. In Shanghai there is because the biggest protest in Shanghai occurred on a street that is called Urumqi Street. So that was a natural place for them to congregate. But in most cases, it’s occurring, my understanding is that in most of these cities, it’s really occurring maybe in front of a certain residential community and they’re coming out and protesting. We’re talking hundreds to a couple thousand people. We’re not yet talking, at the height of the Hong Kong protests, they had a protest of 2 million people.

Aschieris: Wow.

Cunningham: Yeah. So we’re talking like a quarter of the city’s population, and we haven’t seen anything even approaching that.

Aschieris: Earlier you brought up Tiananmen Square, and I want to get your thoughts on something that China expert Gordon Chang said on Fox News on Monday. And he talked about this is actually more dangerous than 1989, the Tiananmen Square massacre, because then protesters really wanted to keep the Communist Party in place, but just wanted to replace some hard-line leaders. This is more like 1949 where the Chinese people had just given up on the nationalist government of Chaing Kai-shek and then the communists came in. What do you think of Gordon’s comments? Is that a fair comparison?

Cunningham: It’s too early to know actually the extent of these protests, and I would say in some locations that’s absolutely correct. In some locations, they are actively calling for Xi and the CCP to step down. In some locations, they’re literally just calling for an end to COVID restrictions and for a return of the freedoms that they’re used to. And so it’s yet to be determined what direction these protests are going to move, if they ever do sort of turn into one coherent movement.

Aschieris: And I also wanted to get your thoughts on the White House. They put out a response on Monday. It was tweeted by Kristin Brown of CBS News, saying, “We’ve said that zero COVID is not a policy we are pursuing here in the United States. And as we’ve said, we think it’s going to be very difficult for the People’s Republic of China to be able to contain the virus through their zero COVID strategy.” 

The statement also said, “For us, we are focused on what works, and that means using the public health tools like continuing to enhance vaccination rates, including boosters and making testing and treatment easily accessible. We’ve long said everyone has the right to peacefully protest here in the United States and around the world. This includes in the PRC.” 

Do you have any thoughts on the White House’s comments?

Cunningham: Yeah. I’m glad you asked that question. I can’t think of a weaker response to what’s happening in China. We have people living under one of the world’s most repressive regimes, which happens to be our greatest geopolitical rival. And they’re standing up in defiance of their regime, standing up for freedom, in some cases for democracy. And that’s the best that the leader of the free world can do? It seems very weak to me.

The U.S. should be standing up for freedom and democracy. We should also be going on the offensive to show the world just how dysfunctional CCP rule is. China attempts to show the world that we’re dysfunctional. They don’t do a very good job of that, but we should be showing the world the huge flaws of their governing model and we should be standing up for freedom and democracy.

I would also say, one other thing is that I personally have known pro-democracy advocates in China, who, particularly in the Obama years, told me how disappointed in the U.S. they were that our president was not standing up for protesters in other countries, whereas the U.S. cannot be seen. 

The CCP is already going to say that the U.S. is somehow behind these protests. We cannot give them any reason to believe that their government is actually right there, but we should stand up and at least make the right statements and support these wonderful people who are standing up and putting everything on the line for their freedom.

Aschieris: And just along the same lines, we had Florida Rep. Mike Waltz coming out and calling on the Biden administration to denounce China’s inhumane lockdowns immediately. He said this in a tweet. Do you expect the White House to do this, especially after the statement that they put out?

Cunningham: Do I reasonably expect them to do it? No, I don’t expect that they will. I wish they would.

Aschieris: Now, on an unrelated but somewhat related note, over the weekend, the Vatican accused China of violating its agreement on bishop appointments. The deal was originally signed in 2018 and renewed for the second time last month. It essentially allows the Chinese Communist Party to participate in selecting Catholic bishops, though Pope Francis has the final say, The Associated Press previously reported.

According to Vatican News, the Holy See Press Office released a statement on Saturday noting the surprise and regret of the Holy See upon receiving the news of an installation ceremony that took place on Nov. 24 of a bishop. 

What do you think of this allegation by the Vatican? Are you surprised that China allegedly violated this agreement?

Cunningham: A couple things. First, we’re not really sure what the agreement is because it’s never been released. So I think that’s the first red flag here that, well, the Vatican has clearly seen the agreement or believes it knows the agreement. I have heard it may even just be a verbal agreement that’s not even in writing, which is probably not to the Vatican’s benefit.

The other thing is, did the Vatican actually expect the CCP to abide by an agreement? The only reason for religion as far as the CCP is concerned is to bolster its own claims to legitimacy. So that’s the whole point of its agreement with the Vatican.

I guess the other thing I would say is the Vatican renewed its agreement during, based on these reports, there was a prolonged pressure campaign ahead of this bishop’s appointment. And during, it must have been during this pressure campaign that the Vatican renewed this agreement with Beijing. So the question is, why would they renew the agreement given that this was going on?

And also, it so happened that there’s also a Catholic cardinal, Joseph Zen, in Hong Kong who is actually awaiting likely charges under Hong Kong’s national security law. And so this agreement was also renewed while all this is going on. And so, unfortunately, this seems like a problem the Vatican essentially brought upon itself by entering an agreement with a side that clearly had no intention of abiding by the agreement.

Aschieris: Michael, just before we go, is there anything else that you would like to add regarding the unrest that we’ve been seeing in China and even throughout the world?

Cunningham: Well, it’s positive that we see people in other countries as well demonstrating in support of the Chinese protesters. I would say we have to have realistic expectations, on the one hand, that this is highly unlikely to topple the CCP, but we should be supporting them. The Chinese people, they very much, they desire freedom. Many of them desire democracy, and many of them do support their government. There’s a huge mix there.

But the Chinese people, they’re going to be, or they really are, they see themselves, many of them, as being involved in a protracted long-term struggle for freedom. And they’re not on the winning side right now, but when we see them stand up against this oppressive regime, this essentially all-powerful regime that can decide their futures, it shows just both how desperate they are and also that that’s a huge spark of freedom that’s in them. So we should be supporting them.

Aschieris: Well, Michael Cunningham, thank you so much for joining us today. It was great to have you back on. Again, Michael Cunningham, a research fellow here at The Heritage Foundation. Thanks so much.

Cunningham: Thank you.

Witchfinder General Jack Smith has Vindictive Prosecution History

Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a seemingly innocuous and accomplished attorney, Jack Smith, as Special Counsel Witchfinder-General to investigate President Donald J. Trump over his possession of declassified documents and to rehash the January 6th investigation.  

Let’s be clear.  In spite of the corporate media’s breathless pronouncements over how wonderful Smith is, he is just another corrupt part of the Justice Department’s political hit squad.

In 2010, after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which affirmed 501(c)4 non-profit corporations right to participate in some political activity, Jack Smith in his position as the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Public Integrity, set up a meeting with the Internal Revenue Service’s Lois Lerner to coordinate efforts so those who followed the law would be prosecuted.  

Astonishingly, it was Lerner who specifically objected to the Justice Department criminalizing political speech killing Smith’s legal harassment plan.

Remember, Smith knew about the Citizens United decision, in fact his actions were in reaction to it.  He just didn’t agree with it. So he attempted to deny and discourage people from setting up the legal structure which the federal government deems necessary to raise money for advocacy by subjecting those who sought to follow the law to being prosecuted for exercising their First Amendment rights.  

You see, the punishment is not necessarily in being found guilty, the punishment is having to endure years of expensive legal bills to defend your right to legally petition the government.  Jack Smith knew this and sought to use his position to drive those who dared to engage in their Constitutional right to political speech into giving up, personal bankruptcy or worse through political prosecution.

Yeah, this is the guy who will be an impartial Special Counsel – NOT!

In 2014, Jack Smith led a prosecution of then-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on public corruption charges.  After getting convicted, McDonnell left office.  Years later, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction by a vote of 8-0. 

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion rejecting the “boundless” definition of what constitutes corruption as Smith’s prosecution did not include any proof that there was an explicit agreement linking a gift or donation to an action by the elected official. 

Effectively, Smith went with the theory that if someone gave you a donation, then any action that you took benefitting that person or company must be corrupt.  Under that theory, a politician could be found guilty of taking a bribe if they voted for gun control after taking a donation or being supported by a gun control group. Or if a friend gave a Christmas gift, and later on won a competitive grant, the politician who received the gift could be presume to be guilty of taking a bribe.    

But, Jack Smith is not only someone who sees corruption around every corner with a Republican on it, whether it exists or not, his wife is a hyper-partisan.  In a fluff piece making Smith look like a middle of the road apolitical prosecutor published in the Wall Street Journal, Smith is described as a registered Independent with few stated political opinions. And put away any notion that the Wall 

Street Journal is a pro-Trump voice as its owner has stated that he won’t support Trump this election cycle.

There is nothing illegal about the fact that Smith’s wife, Katy Chevigny contributed $2,000 to the Biden for President campaign against President Trump in 2020, and is listed as a producer of the Michele Obama documentary “Becoming.” 

This provides at least a reason to doubt Smith’s ability to investigate President Trump for the umpteenth time.  Since investigating Trump is the only reason Smith’s job exists, his wife’s opposition to Trump and fawning media work for Michele Obama is relevant.  

When combined with the actions Smith took in both seeking to prosecute tea party activists attempting to legally exercise their First Amendment rights with his Supreme Court rejected redefinition of corruption that successfully took out an up-and-coming GOP governor, it is clear that he is unsuitable to be considered an objective Special Counsel.  

The above facts are not unknown to Attorney General Garland, making it difficult to conclude that his appointment is designed to find Donald Trump guilty of something, anything, in order to prevent him from winning the presidency in 2024. It seems clear that Smith’s history of pursuing wild legal theories against high-profile Republicans and seeking to prosecute conservative activists for exercising their rights, were seen by the AG as his qualifiers rather than black marks against him.  

America will now be subjected to episode four of the left’s abuse of federal governmental prosecutorial power in their never-ending Get Trump obsession.  It is sad, truly sad. 

Rick Manning is the president of Americans for Limited Government. Reproduced with permission.

To view online: https://townhall.com/columnists/rickmanning/2022/11/23/special-counsel-jack-smiths-political-prosecution-history-is-dangerous-n2616296

California Endangers Children with Lax Pervert Policy

In California last week, a con artist who robbed men by transferring funds from their phone while they were having sex received a nine year jail sentence. Meanwhile, the

EXCLUSIVE: ‘It’s frightening for society.’ Thousands of convicted pedophiles in California are being released from prison in less than a year for horrific acts, including rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of kids under 14, DailyMail.com investigation reveals

  • An analysis of a California sex offenders database shows thousands of child molesters are being let out of prison after just a few months
  • DailyMail.com’s investigation reveals more than 7,000 sex offenders were convicted of ‘lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age’ 
  • Those 7,000 pedophiles were released the same year they were convicted
  • Others who committed some of the worst child sex crimes, including sodomy and rape of children, served similarly short sentences
  • Current and former Los Angeles sex crime prosecutors tell DailyMail.com that the figures are ‘terrifying’ and ‘shameful’
  • Deputy DA Jon Hatami blames Proposition 57, a 2016 bill allowing early parole for nonviolent felons which was supported by his boss, LA DA George Gascón 
  • ‘Thousands of child victims are being denied justice and George Gascón and his group of radical prosecutors can care less,’ Hatami said

Chinese wave blank paper – Is this the beginning of the end for Xi?

At a protest rally in Beijing this week, a Chinese Communist Party official warned the gathering protestors not to be misguided by “foreign influence.” An angry protestor quipped back from the crowd, “by foreign influence do you mean Marx and Engels?” 

The police are encountering the biggest uprising since Tiananmen Square. But this time they may have a better chance of success. While XI Jinping recently seized all power in China, a former diplomat has warned that he will be ousted in a coup as he faces an unprecedented uprising. Roger Garside – author of China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom – believes Xi Jinping will be overthrown by internal opponents within the Chinese Communist Party in a coup.

Last Thursday, a street protestor in the hinterland metropolis Chongqing eloquently addressed a cheering crowd, “there is only one type of disease in the world — lack of freedom and poverty. We have it both in China!” After he quoted Patrick Henry “Give me liberty or give me death!” repeatedly, the police tried to arrest him, only to be repulsed by an angry crowd who promptly overwhelmed the fully armed police and rescued the protestor. NYPOST

The blank sheet of paper has become a symbol of resistance among those protesting Beijing’s COVID lockdown policies, showing up at protests across the nation.

Videos and photos circulated online show students across China holding up blank sheets of paper in silent protest — an effort to evade the country’s draconian censorship and surveillance laws which we covered here.

Government Digital Currencies – A Terrible Warning From Real Life

This two-minute summary should be enough to convince you to fight with all your might against the War on Cash. This man will stun you. As we reported this morning here, digital control of us is the ruling elites true aim. The want us to have nothing, do what they say and be good little drones.

Take care Big Island!

Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on the planet, is erupting now on the Big Island of Hawai’i after being dormant for 38 years. In an unusual weekend for the Aloha state while Mauna Loa is erupting, it is snowing on Mauna Kea, the highest point in the state of Hawai’i.

Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.    

If the eruption remains in Moku‘āweoweo (the summit caldera of Mauna Loa), lava flows will most likely be confined within the caldera walls.  However, if the eruptive vents migrate outside its walls, lava flows may move rapidly downslope.   

There is a webcam on the caldera. Watch here.

Mauna Loa’s Summit and Northeast Rift Zone from Mauna Kea. Live webcam here.

Nobody wants this but Gates, Rockefeller and a Corrupt Global Agency will make you have it

“It’s notable that the only groups pushing for global vaccine passports are also the main proponents of the so-called Great Reset.”

As stated in point 23 of the recent G20 Summit Declaration.

Tracking in other words

This is a guidance document for countries and implementing partners on the technical requirements for developing digital information systems for issuing standards-based interoperable digital certificates for COVID-19 vaccination status, and considerations for implementation of such systems, for the purposes of continuity of care, and proof of vaccination. 

ICYMI: Garland’s double standard

The attorney general has weaponized the Justice Department and turned it into a political organization. It protects President Biden and punishes others. By appointing a special counsel for Trump but not for Hunter and Joe Biden he is proving a partisan point and revealing that the new purpose of the DoJ is merely revenge. This is a return to the justice of the Dark Ages.

From the moment he was sworn in as attorney general, Merrick Garland set out to transform the Department of Justice into a zealous political organ. Without conscience, he weaponized his immense powers to protect President Biden while punishing his adversaries. Garland’s appointment of a special counsel to take over the DOJ’s investigations of Donald Trump offers further proof. Watch Gregg Jarrett.

How the House will look when counting is over is causing concern

The House GOP majority will either be 222 seats or 221 seats when all of the counting is done, guaranteeing gridlock!

There are just a few more results coming in from the 2022 Congressional midterms, and with just one more race to call — Republican John Duarte is narrowly leading Democrat Adam Gray by just 593 votes in California’s 13th Congressional District — House Republicans will take the gavel in the U.S. House of Representatives in January with either a 222 to 213 seat majority (nine seats) or a 221 to 214 seat majority (seven seats).

With only another nine or ten seats — the GOP started the election with 212 seats — this is an historically low haul for the GOP. Of the 30 midterm elections that have taken place since 1906, only seven have had worse showings for the opposition party: 1926(only gained eight seats), 1934 (lost nine seats), 1962 (only gained four seats), 1986(only gained five seats), 1990 (only gained eight seats), 1998 (lost four seats) and 2002(lost eight seats).

They also pale in comparison to 1994, when the GOP netted 54 seats, and 2010, when they picked up 61 seats. Although, interestingly, 2014 actually gave the GOP its largest majority in modern history, 247 seats to 188 seats, even though Republicans only picked up 13 seats that year. In 1994, the GOP won 230 seats and in 2010 won 242 seats.

2022 though is about as good as 2000 for the GOP, where despite barely winning the White House, Republicans lost two seats in the House and only wound up with a 221 to 214 seat majority.

Otherwise, because it was a midterm election, the GOP had about a 90 percent chance of picking up seats, which they did. But usually, gains by the opposition party either came above or below the average of about 31 seats prior to 2022. Now with just nine or ten seats, it will once again be a below-average midterm, as the average take falls to a 30-seat gain per midterm election.

A lot can have to do with the party’s starting point. Many of the seats the GOP might have otherwise picked up in 2022 were already recovered in 2020 as former President Donald Trump’s strong enough reelection bid netted the GOP 14 seats, nearly recapturing the House. That had followed the 2018 Blue Wave that saw Democrats pick up 41 seats.

The fact is, campaigns matter a lot to the outcome. With high inflation and an imminent recession looming, Republicans were able to secure the popular vote in the House of Representatives elections, 54.2 million to 51 million.

But with Roe v. Wade overturned by the Supreme Court, younger voters increased turnout, with 27 percent of 18-29-year-olds voting in 2022, similar to 2018’s 31 percent of that demographic who voted, according to research by Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

Overall turnout in 2022 at 48 percent looked a lot more like 2018’s 50.3 percent than 2010 or 2014, the latter of which had 40.9 percent and 36.7 percent, according to an AP/Election Project analysis by the Washington Post. 2010 and 2014 tended to have lower percentage turnout than 2018.

Since the 1990s, turnout for 18-29-year-olds was around 20 percent. In 2022, with boosted turnout, Democrats led 18-29-year-olds by 27 points, 63 percent to 35 percent. That saved Democrats from what would have almost certainly been an historic wipeout this year.

It’s a cycle, of course, and one that occasionally disappoints. But periodic elections every two years in the House was the best solution the Framers, and in particular James Madison, could come up with to the excesses brought about by political factions. Being the closest to the people, it is up to the House of Representatives to listen to their constituents.

In the case of 2022, with Republicans narrowly capturing a House majority and Democrats barely retaining control of the U.S. Senate, the verdict was that the American people prefer mixed government, with neither President Joe Biden nor incoming House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy being able to claim any explicit, partisan mandate to govern. That usually means gridlock. Stay tuned.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation. Reproduced with permission. Original here.

Watch: Black guy patiently explains to Warnock phone canvasser why she’s wrong

Black people are rising up and going back to their conservative roots of faith, family, education, hard work and responsibility. Watch as this (sounds white) woman talks over and down at this very well-informed voter. And let’s wonder why they’re chasing a Tennessee voter?

Oh, Canada. This is tragic and wrong

Watch this beautifully made, highly suggestive and emotional commercial pushing death on TV. Normalizing suicide is irresponsible and evil. That a nation condones it reveals much of our ever declining western values.

We shouldn’t be surprised. This veteran was offered assisted suicide instead of medical assistance.

This woman’s life has been reduced to “not worth living”. Come on Canada, you’re better than this.

Hidden in plain sight: The Diabolical Plan To Meld Man and Machine

Watch Klauss Schwab and the leader of the European Union discuss The European Chips Act, ostensibly designed to bring microchip manufacturing back to Europe, but also allocates funds for investments in next generation technologies.

From: Europe already has a plan to implement a “deep digital transformation” by 2030. According to the Dutch newspaper De Tijd, research center Imec will play a key role in the European chip strategy. It makes prototypes of the smallest chips, two nanometers or smaller.

Imec performs advanced research on artificial intelligence and was awarded $750,000 twice in 2019 by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in a machine-learning competition.

In a 2017 report, The Financial Times named Imec’s self-learning neuromorphic chip one of the fifty ideas that would change the world and was described by the newspaper as having the potential to revolutionize computing.

In 2018, Imec announced the creation of a research venture to decode dementia by creating human-specific living brain models, so called “brains-on-chips” which automate and miniaturize human stem cell manipulations. It has developed technology to generate programmable, instrumented 3D brain models with single-cell precision. The project was supported by a Collaborative Science Award of one million dollars by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. (That’s Mark’s wife.)

The plan is well advanced

“Human Augmentation – The Dawn of a New Paradigm. A strategic implications project”, published jointly by the UK Ministry of Defense, and German Federal Ministry of Defense in 2021, the notion of human augmentation for warfare is considered a fait accompli by the authors.

We can assume that although this report is coming from the UK Ministry of Defense, and German Federal Ministry of Defense, parallel efforts are being made by most large governments around the world,” mRNA inventor dr Robert Malone warned.

“Future wars will be won, not by those with the most advanced technology, but by those who can most effectively integrate the unique capabilities of both people and machines,” according to the report. The ethics of human augmentation is therefore viewed as an impediment by the likes of the WEF and the military-industrial complex.

Al Gore got this EXACTLY Backwards – Confused cart with horse!

Here’s Al predicting the melting of the Arctic.

Children just won’t know what snow is [by 2020]

Has the House GOP Got The Guts to Make This Bold Move?

House Republicans’ Next Opportunity to Drain Swamp by Banning Earmarks

House Republicans will vote soon on whether to bring back the ban on budget earmarks, which are a way for members of Congress to dole out favors using taxpayer money.

Ending earmarks would be an excellent opportunity for the new House majority to combat the wasteful and corrupt political culture that has infected the nation’s capital and is strangling the economy.

Following public ridicule over wasteful pork spending such as the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, Congress did away with the practice in 2011, thanks to the wave of conservatives elected in 2010 because of the tea party movement.

Unfortunately, the temptation to use other people’s money for personal gain proved too strong for Washington to resist for long, and last year Congress brought back budget earmarks.

These earmarks included reams of woke projects that included funding for left-wing activist groups, initiatives that use the word “equity” as a shield for race-based preferences, and a variety of thinly disguised Green New Dealboondoggles.

We also saw a variety of absurdly wasteful items such as $1.6 million for “equitable growth of shellfish aquaculture industry,” $4.2 million for “sheep experiment station infrastructure improvements,” and $3 million for a Gandhi museum in Houston.

Now that pork is back on the menu,  the House and Senate have proposed thousands upon thousands of additional earmarks in pending legislation. Woke waste in this year’s spending bills includes:

  • $1 million for Zora’s House in Ohio, a “coworking and community space” for “women and gender-expansive people of color.”
  • $3 million for the American LGBTQ+ Museum in New York City.
  • $477,000 for the Equity Institute in Rhode Island to indoctrinate teachers with “antiracism virtual labs.”
  • $1.2 million for “LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers” and another $1.2 million for “Dreamer Resource Centers” and “advocacy support” (aka helping illegal aliens) at San Diego Community College.
  • $3.6 million for a Michelle Obama Trail in Georgia.
  • $750,000 for “LGBT and Gender Non-Conforming housing” in Albany, New York.

Silly and absurd earmarks include:

  • $2 million for the “Great Blacks in Wax” museum in Baltimore.
  • $3 million for water infrastructure on the remote island of St. George, Alaska, which is a cost of over $44,000 for each of the 67 residents.
  • A $1.1 million solar array in Kirkland, Washington, one of the least-sunny places in the country.
  • $1.5 million to promote eating outdoors in Pasadena, California, one of the sunniest places in the country.
  • $1.6 million for the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Vermont. The center is named after Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.,  and he had the audacity to request the earmark.
  • Two separate earmarks totaling $5 million for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in New York.
  • $13 million for expanding an airport in Abbeville, Alabama, a rural “city” of under 2,500.

When House Republicans meet to set internal rules for the next session of Congress, which begins Jan. 3, they can’t plead ignorance about what tolerating earmarks would mean.

Congress needs to kick earmarks to the curb and finally get overspending under control by putting the federal government on a diet.

There is talk of Congress passing a bloated omnibus spending deal (including earmarks) during December’s “lame duck” period before the House majority shifts to Republicans.

Republicans in both chambers can stop this from happening by refusing to sign off on such a deal and instead giving the incoming House majority a chance to weigh in and negotiate something better early next year.

The alternative—putting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hands on the wheel one last time—certainly is not a good idea.

Fighting waste and inflation while partially draining the swamp by going after earmarks and slush funds would be a big win for America. Republicans in both chambers should do their parts to make it happen.

davidaditch David Ditch is a policy analyst specializing in budget and transportation policy in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at The Heritage Foundation. Reproduced with permission. Original here.

Pentagon can’t account for —- how much?

As Washington’s yearly defense budget hurtles towards the $1 trillion mark, the DoD continues to operate with little to no oversight of its spending practices.

The US Department of Defense has, for the fifth straight year, failed to pass a financial audit, with only seven out of the Pentagon’s 27 military agencies receiving a passing grade.

“We failed to get an ‘A’,” Mike McCord, the Pentagon’s comptroller and chief financial officer, told reporters last week, announcing the results of the Pentagon’s fifth-ever financial audit.

“I would not say that we flunked,” he added, despite his office acknowledging that the Pentagon only managed to account for 39 percent of its $3.5 trillion in assets.

With this failure, the Pentagon has kept its spot as the only US government agency to have never passeda comprehensive audit. It also highlights the US war department’s persistent lack of internal financial control, its poor budget estimations and rampant overspending.

A clear example of this is the F-35 program, which has gone over its original budget by $165 billion to build a plane tasked to perform many different tasks, none of which it does well. More here.

The audit, which covered the department’s $3.5 trillion in assets and $3.7 trillion in liabilities, involved 1,600 auditors conducting 220 in-person site visits and 750 virtual site visits. The Pentagon inspector general and independent public accounting firms performed the audit, which was expected to cost $218 million this year.

Federal law since the early 1990s requires mandatory audits for all government agencies, and since fiscal year 2013 all but the DOD have been able to satisfy that requirement. 

The sheer size and scope of the department — which makes up for more than half of the U.S. discretionary spending and has assets that range from personnel and supplies to bases and weapons — makes it difficult to audit.  

That plastic you carefully recycle? Don’t bother

Answer to Climate Question Leaves Interviewer Stunned

In our series on Climate BS, we bring some more fascinating stories that go against the media and leftist narrative. This first one is hilarious. Watch the nutty-looking professor blow away the Russian TV anchor with an answer he was DEFINITELY not expecting. One that we mostly believe to be true!

That plastic you carefully recycle? Don’t bother.

This is the report from Greenpeace. Who aren’t going to sugar coat this.

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