Lords of misrule 0

By this time all Americans must know, but our foreign readers may not, that the “twin cities” Minneapolis and St. Paul are in flames. The fire this time is because rioters are protesting  the brutal killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who has now been arrested and charged with the killing.

The Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arradondo, says that the first duty of his officers  is to keep themselves safe. “Their safety is paramount,” he says. So he refuses to let them intervene when very many stores, businesses, buildings are attacked, looted, and set on fire by rioters.

But the Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, is concerned for the safety of the rioters. He told them to be sure to wear masks while they are rioting, looting and committing arson, and he even issued masks to them.

Frey, in a plea for peace Thursday night, noted that his government was giving face masks to rioters in an effort to slow coronavirus spread.

“The City encourages everyone to exercise caution to stay safe while participating in demonstrations, including wearing masks and physical distancing as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” a press release read. “The City has made hundreds of masks available to protesters this week.”

It’s probably unnecessary to mention when such idiocy and incompetence are on display that Mayor Jacob Frey is a Democrat.

Shallow dip, quick recovery 1

Art Laffer – yes, he of the Laffer Curve – has faith in President Trump’s ability to restore the US economy when the coronavirus scare is over.

Watch the stock market for optimistic predictions, he says. You will find them there.

Here’s a clip from the interview with Art Laffer conducted by Stuart Varney of Fox Business News on May 12, 2020:

Posted under Economics, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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Memorial Day 2020 4

Posted under United States, War by Jillian Becker on Monday, May 25, 2020

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American hero 4

A future president? Successor in 2024 to Donald Trump?

Richard Grenell

President Trump’s acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell told the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Adam Schiff, that if they did not release transcripts of interviews conducted by the panel during its Russia probe in 2017 and 2018, he would do it himself.

The deeply dishonest and dishonorable Representative Adam Schiff had tried to keep the transcripts secret, because they reveal that the truth is the exact opposite of a claim he has been making for years. He had spoken often and vehemently of the massive quantity of evidence he possessed that Donald Trump, when he was a candidate for the presidency he later won, had “colluded” with the Russian government, in particular with President Putin, against the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

No such evidence could possibly exist because such “collusion” never happened. We now know that it was Hillary Clinton’s campaign and some sympathetic bureaucrats and intelligence agents who had used fictitious information (some of it perhaps from Russia, and if so in collusion with that enemy!) to frame Donald Trump.

Schiff, it emerges, had so totally deluded himself into believing his own lie that even after the transcripts were released under pressure from Grenell, and everyone could see that they provided no such evidence as he had claimed, he went on insisting that they did.

Fox News reported on May 7 that Schiff even cited the Mueller report, which had cleared President Trump of the charge, as confirmation that the alleged Trump-Russia collusion had taken place! Schiff said:

Despite the many barriers put in our way by the then-Republican Majority, and attempts by some key witnesses to lie to us and obstruct our investigation, the transcripts that we are releasing today show precisely what Special Counsel Robert Mueller also revealed: that the Trump campaign, and Donald Trump himself, invited illicit Russian help, made full use of that help, and then lied and obstructed the investigations in order to cover up this misconduct.

Not only do they show no such thing, what they do show is witness after witness testifying that he or she knew nothing about any such collusion. Not a drop or hint of any evidence whatsoever to support Adam Schiff’s false claim emerges from anyone’s testimony.

Fox reports:

The transcripts are full of testimony from officials who said they were unaware of evidence showing coordination between the Trump team and the Russians.

And no matter what deluded Schiff imagines to be case, the facts are now in the open, thanks to Richard Grenell.

And that is not all Grenell has done. He made more information public which Democrats had tried to keep hidden.

He declassified and released a list of top Obama administration officials who had requested the “unmasking” of Lt. Gen. Flynn during the presidential transition period. The list included then Vice President Joe Biden, James Comey then head of the FBI, John Brennan then head of the CIA, and James Clapper then Director of National Intelligence.

Soon after that he released an entire email that Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice had written and sent to herself on President Trump’s inauguration day, about an Oval Office meeting held some days earlier in which the Russia investigation plot was discussed. Present at the  meeting, she recorded, was Obama himself, Joe Biden, James Comey, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. She repeated several times that Obama insisted everything they did to carry out the plot against the incoming president and his appointed security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, must  be “done by the book”. Yet Obama could not have believed that there was a legal way, a method approved by the “book” of the law, to stage a coup d’état!

So the plot has been blown wide open, and President Trump rightly calls it “the greatest political crime in the history of our country”.

Grenell has also served his country and its president well as US Ambassador to Germany.  Bruce Bawer specifies how at Front Page (in an article mainly about the furious reaction of the Democrats to the fact that the first openly gay man to be a Cabinet member has been appointed by President Trump, who, they constantly allege without a trace of evidence as usual, is “anti-gay”).

In Berlin [Grenell] called on German firms to stop commerce with Iran and pushed Angela Merkel’s government to spend more on defense, take back an old Nazi from the U.S., and ban Hezbollah. …

Anyone remotely familiar with the situation knows that Germany has long been the most anti-American country in Western Europe; a few months ago, a survey showed that only 35% of Germans view the U.S. positively and that “Germans now have more trust in China than in the United States”. …

[[Yet] German firms did cut ties with Iran; Merkel’s government did hike its defense budget; she took that old Nazi off our hands; and, yes, Hezbollah got banned. …

The salient point about Grenell’s stint in Germany is that he’s exactly what the German-American relationship has needed for a long time. Germans, or at least German elites, have always looked down on Americans as rubes and boors; after we crushed their evil empire in 1945, they kept a low profile for a couple of decades, whereupon the War in Vietnam gave them an excuse to climb back on their high horse. After that, the contempt ran deeper than ever, because, whatever their pretensions, they knew we were a superpower and they weren’t, and that was, for them, an unbearable thought. Their chronic lust for power was satiated by the transformation of the Common Market into the EU, which gave German leaders the vast continental empire they always wanted.

While consolidating power over that empire, the Germans have treated their sometime conqueror and longtime protector, the U.S. with increasing disrespect, welshing on NATO debt and ignoring U.S. concerns about their dealings with Iran and Russia. More than any American envoy before him, Grenell, with Trump’s backing, has called them on the carpet for this, put them in their place, knocked them off their perches. (As Victor Davis Hanson has put it, “Trump did not create the wound with Germany. He simply tore off the scab, exposed, and poked at what was long festering beneath.”) They can’t stand it, but they have to take it, because they know what’s what and who’s who. It’s good for them. It’s good for the world. …

So Richard Grenell is good for America, good for the conservative Right, good for the Trump administration – and good for the world.

Respecting a traitor 1

For some years a gang of traitors – affiliated with an inimical international movement – has been trying to overthrow the elected president of the United States.

One of the gang leaders is now running for the office of president himself.

Which is more necessary to the nation: that he be allowed to run and possibly become the head of the state which he tried to undermine, or that he be brought to trial?

David Horowitz writes at Front Page:

This was all Obama. This was all Biden. These people were corrupt. The whole thing was corrupt. And we caught them. We caught them.  – President Trump.

Perhaps the most troubling – and dangerous – aspect of the current political conversation is the unwillingness of virtually every elected official and every media pundit to confront what “Obamagate” is obviously about, which is treason. Specifically, treason committed by the Obama White House in attempting to block and then overthrow the Trump presidency. Obamagate is about the failed attempt by President Obama and his appointees to use government intelligence agencies to spy on the Trump campaign and White House, to concoct a phony accusation of collusion with Russia against the president and then to obstruct his administration and overthrow him.

Rudy Giuliani, attorney to President Trump, was willing to call it treason:

They wanted to take out the lawfully elected President of the United States and they wanted to do it by lying, submitting false affidavits, using phony witnesses — in other words, they wanted to do it by illegal means . . . What is overthrowing government by illegal means? It’s a coup; treason.

This aggressive statement by the president’s lawyer is a sure guarantee that a reckoning is coming in the days ahead. But first there are the semantics. Responding to Giuliani’s accusation, law professor Jonathan Turley wrote: “No, James Comey Did Not Commit Treason.”  According to Turley: “Giuliani is engaging in the same blood sport of using the criminal code to paint critics as not just criminals, but traitors. …”

Technically, but in a very limited way, Turley is right. Treason is defined in Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution in these words:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

There’s a reason the Founders designed so restrictive a definition of treason. They were all guilty of it for rebelling against their king. This led to Benjamin Franklin’s famous quip: “We must all hang together or we shall all hang separately.”

But this legal definition of the crime is only one aspect of the issue, and in the end it is the less important one for understanding the significance of what has happened. There is also the common usage of the words “treason” and “traitor”, which speak to the moral dimensions of the crime. It is these meanings that provide a proper guide to the seriousness and scope of what Obama, Biden, Comey, Brennan, Clapper and the others involved actually did.

This is the Merriam Webster definition of treason: “1: the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family. 2: the betrayal of a trust: treachery.”

“To overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance” –is a pretty precise definition of what Obamagate is about.

Although early on, the outlines of this conspiracy were clear to dogged investigators like Congressman Devin Nunes, they have remained obscure to anti-Trump partisans. This is due to the protective wall created for the conspirators by Obama appointees at the Department of Justice, unprincipled Democrats on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and a corrupt news media that has redefined its mission to be that of a propaganda squad for the conspiracy itself. Consequently, it has taken nearly four years to recover the documentary evidence that might persuade an honest critic of the Trump administration of the crime the anti-Trump camp has committed.

Two recent actions have served to demolish the plotters’ protective wall and bring the true dimensions of Obamagate to light. The first was Trump’s appointment of Rick Grenell as acting Director of National Intelligence. Until then the transcripts of the impeachment hearings had been closed to the public by the Intel Committee chairman, Adam Schiff. This allowed Schiff to leak testimony damaging to the president and suppress testimony exonerating him. The full testimonies by high-ranking foreign policy officials had remained under Schiff’s lock and key for over a year.  Grenell told Schiff that he would unlock the testimonies if Schiff didn’t, which is how they came to light.

What the newly released testimonies showed was that one Obama appointee after another when questioned by Republicans on the committee had said they had no evidence whatsoever that there was any collusion between Trump or the Trump team and the Russians. In other words, from the very beginning of the plot against Trump, the conspirators including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the heads of the intelligence agencies knew that the charge of collusion – of treason – which they had concocted to destroy Trump was fraudulent. Despite this, they went ahead with the $35 million Mueller investigation that tied Trump’s hands in dealing with the Russians and spread endless false rumors about his allegiances, and in the end found no evidence to support the character assassinations the investigation spawned.

The second revelation was the result of an FBI declassification of hitherto hidden documents describing a White House meeting on January 5, 2017 – two weeks before the inauguration of the new president. The meeting was attended by the outgoing president and vice president, the heads of the intelligence agencies, the acting Attorney General and Obama’s outgoing National Security adviser Susan Rice. The subjects of the meeting were the targeting of General Michael Flynn – Trump’s incoming National Security Adviser – and the infamous Steele dossier which the Hillary campaign and the DNC had paid a former British spy to compile with information from the Russian secret police. The dossier was designed to discredit Trump and set up the Russia-collusion narrative. The targeting of Flynn involved unmasking an innocuous conversation with the Russian Ambassador which was then used to smear Flynn and get him fired. Shortly after the meeting the fact that Flynn was under investigation was leaked to the Washington Post – a felony punishable by 10 years in jail. This leak opened a floodgate of public accusations – backed by no evidence – that Trump and everyone close to him were agents of the Russians.

The secret war the Obama White House declared on Trump before he was even elected, was a war on America.

Several years prior to the 2016 election, Obama had begun using the intelligence agencies to spy on his Republican opponents. This was a direct attack on the most fundamental institution of our democracy – elections. It was a much more destructive interference in the electoral process than anything attempted by the Russians. The subsequent cynical attempts to frame Trump as a traitor and then to impeach him for concocted offenses is without precedent.

Because they were attacks on our democracy itself, Obamagate is the worst political crime committed against our country in its entire history.

Horowitz concludes by saying that “the culprits involved need to be exposed and prosecuted“.

Implied is the optimistic theory that if these traitors are punished to the fullest extent of the law, the nation will be spared such treasonous acts in the future.

It might be so. The chance is better than probable.

“People should be going to jail for this stuff,” the president said.

But what is not probable is that Barack Obama and Joe Biden will be prosecuted.

Attorney General William Barr has already announced that they would not even be investigated. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.” he said.

His reason? Joe Biden (senile though he is), looks to be the Democrats’ candidate for the presidency and –

Mr. Barr said it was important the American public would be able to vote in November for a presidential candidate “based on a robust debate of policy issues”.

Although he also reiterated that “Mr. Trump was the victim of a years long ‘utterly false Russian collusion narrative’ and that standards at the Justice Department were abused to reach a particular result”, and declared, “We can’t allow this to ever happen again,” nevertheless in his opinion the process of democracy transcends the requirement of justice.

We cannot allow this process to be hijacked by efforts to drum up criminal investigations of either candidate. I am committed that this election will be conducted without this kind of interference.

But does the process of democracy transcend the requirement of justice?

Was it not the very process of democracy that was subverted by the actions of the traitors – their attempts, which the Attorney General acknowledges, to overturn the result of an election?

If justice cannot reach them, what will that process ever be worth again?

Out of those many, never one 3

Globalism has failed. It was always a bad idea.

It was invented by Americans. Because Americans live in a man-made multi-ethnic state, they are comfortable with the concept.

But most countries are mono-ethnic. With few exceptions, each has its own distinct culture, history, language, character – some with an uncomfortable mix of religions. They are not man-made nations, they are time-made nations. They have evolved. Through very long stretches of time.

They do not resemble each other. Many have warred with each other and have old scars, ancestral antipathies. That’s why the League of Nations – envisioned and established by President Woodrow Wilson, yet strangely never joined by the USA – failed; and why the United Nations Organization is a hellish institution; and why the European Union is a racket run by a gang.

Americans built their nation out of several young states, fastened them together, “out of many one”, with the bolt of a constitution, and the project succeeded. The land prospered, from sea to shining sea, a vast enterprise park of ethnicities, religions, cultures where individuals work together in just one language. So certain Americans, well-meaning and incapable of allowing themselves to think badly of human nature, thought the whole world could be like the USA – in 6,500 languages. 

They were wrong.

Curtis Ellis, who was a policy advisor with the Trump presidential campaign, writes at American Greatness:

The CCP virus pandemic has added urgency to a long-overdue reassessment of the assumptions underlying the post-World War II “international rules-based order.”

To be clear, “international rules-based order” is a euphemism for globalism, and globalism has taken a beating these past few months.

We’ve seen how the true cost of doing business with China is a very high price indeed. We’ve seen how an economy reliant on global supply chains and just-in-time inventory management is a fragile one, and we’ve seen how the Chinese Communist Party is not the benign force we expected it to be when we welcomed it into “the family of trading nations.”

The pandemic has exposed the flaws in the globalization project the elites have been pursuing for the past 70 years.

The World Trade Organization is a cornerstone of that project and, like the World Heath Organization, its sister in the globalist pantheon, the WTO is now under fire in Washington. …

The World Trade Organization was born after the Berlin Wall fell. Gone were the days of a trade and military alliance of Western industrial democracies—the free world standing against a Communist bloc. In the new post-Cold War world order, goods and capital would flow freely in a global economy of universal prosperity and democracy.

Though the WTO was born in 1995, it’s conception dates to 1947. That’s when the State Department sought to create an international trade organization “to bring about world peace . . . and prevent World War III.”

A California congressman at the time described Washington’s negotiators as “boatloads of smug diplomats, all wise economists, experts, theorists, specialists and whatnots eager to barter away the little factory in Wichita, the little shop in Keokuk.”

While they failed in ’47, they kept the dream alive over the decades. “What’s good for the global economy” replaced “what’s good for America” as the guiding principle for Washington’s trade negotiators, diplomats, and strategists.

The “experts” pursued their plan without debate or congressional vote. No one came right out and told the American people their nation and system of government were being replaced.

As Richard Gardner, the man who served as Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Spain explained, “The ‘house of world order’ will have to be built from the bottom up. . . . An end-run about national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than a frontal assault.”

Strobe Talbott served in Bill Clinton’s State Department when the WTO was founded. He described “The Birth of the Global Nation” in Time magazine in 1992: “Countries are . . . artificial and temporary. . . . Within the next hundred years . . . nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. A phrase briefly fashionable in the mid-20th century—“citizen of the world”—will have assumed real meaning by the end of the 21st.”

Long before the pandemic exposed the follies and fallacies of the globalist project, before it showed us how, when push comes to shove, national governments will always put their own interests first, administrations on both sides of the aisle had problems with the WTO.

Another problem of the WTO involves its appellate body—judges who interpret WTO rules and settle disputes among members. Yet the WTO doesn’t follow its own rules.

Article 17.5 of the WTO rules says cases that come before the organization—disputes between nations over unfair trade practices—must be settled within 90 days. In reality, cases drag on for years, during which time the victims go bankrupt while awaiting justice.

The rules also say judges cannot be affiliated with any government. Yet in a recent case involving paper imports, none of the judges met the WTO’s criteria, and one was actually an official of the Chinese government. The judges, not surprisingly, ruled against the United States.

Where should the judges come from? Another planet?

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer blasted the ruling as “the latest example of judicial activism” by the WTO aimed at undermining U.S. trade laws.

And when the WTO isn’t flouting its own rules, it’s making up new ones.

We thought we signed a contract when we joined the WTO, but it’s a contract with terms that keep changing. We put our country at the mercy of an entity with rules and authority that are constantly growing.

Past administrations both Democratic and Republican objected to WTO judges creating obligations to which the United States never agreed.

The Trump Administration, fed up with U.S. complaints falling on deaf ears, stopped approving new judges and froze the appeals “courts” process. In response, WTO bureaucrats went ahead and created a new judicial body outside the agreed-upon rules—and it is using American taxpayer dollars to fund its operation.

The WTO’s various power grabs threaten American sovereignty.

The Article XXI rule,the national security exception, reads: “Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed . . . to prevent any contracting party from taking any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests.”

That’s what the United States signed and we take its meaning to be absolutely clear: We can take actions based on what we consider to be in our national security interest and the WTO can’t stop us.

President Trump determined the national security interests of the United States require us to be self-sufficient in producing steel and aluminum. To that end, he imposed tariffs to stop China and other countries from dumping their metals and driving American producers out of business.

But the Eurocrats in Geneva believe it’s up to their unelected “judges,” not the elected government of the United States, to decide what’s in America’s national security interest, no matter what Article XXI says.

Steven Vaughn served as counsel to the office of the United States Trade Representative. He believes there’s a fundamental problem with the WTO when we can read the same text and come to opposite conclusions.

“Somebody misunderstood what we all agreed to. We were told we had not given up any of our sovereignty,” Vaughn says. “If we’re this far apart just in terms of the basic concept, what is the point of trying to paper over them.”

How can you even talk about reform with an organization that doesn’t agree on the meaning of “cases will be settled within 90 days”? What good is rewriting rules for an outfit that doesn’t follow rules?

Why bother to remain in the WTO?

It has done nothing to stop the greatest threat to world trade today: Communist China’s beggar-thy-neighbor predatory trade practices.

China supports its export industries with subsidies, tax breaks, export rebates, low-cost loans, and cheap inputs including a militarized workforce. The WTO has allowed Beijing to maintain its trade barriers even as we lowered ours. It requires the United States to treat repressive regimes that use forced labor the same as our democratic allies.

President Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott saw the WTO, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank as “protoministries of trade, finance, and development for a united world”.

The WTO was part of a bold experiment to build a borderless, post-national world.

We can now say with certainty the experiment failed.

It’s time to take back control of our destiny, leave the WTO, and rebuild America

Leave the UN. 

Leave all international organizations.

Trade yes, join no.

To make America great again.

Atheism and politics 18

There seems to be a general assumption that atheists are on the Left.

Why?

In America it may be because the militant atheists who protest against crosses, the Ten Commandments, and the motto “In God We Trust” being displayed in such public places as government offices and law-courts, are on the Left. At least we are never told that they are conservatives. And they probably are not, because conservatives by definition respect relics of the past, even those they don’t like.

It may also be because there is another widespread assumption that the Right is religious and the Left is not.  “The Religious Right” is a shadowy body created and invoked by progressives. It consists, in their minds, of hicks who “cling to their god and their guns”, to recall Barack Obama’s memorable declaration of contempt for millions of American voters who did not vote for him.

So it is not surprising that when American Atheists undertook to conduct a “Study of Atheists in America”, they did not bring their questions to us atheist conservatives. We probably do not exist in their minds. Or we exist only as an oxymoronic cabal that doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

No members of Republican Atheists were consulted. Their president, Lauren Ell, wrote on their Facebook page, May 6, 2020:

I am seeing a lot of content being posted about a recent “secular survey” American Atheists conducted. American Atheists never contacted Republican Atheists about this survey, and we were unaware of it. If AA did not take the time to contact atheist groups outside of its circle about the survey, I consider it to not be reflective of the US atheist community, but more so AA’s following, and groups associated with AA.

Towards the end of an article titled 6 Takeaways from the Largest-Ever Study of Atheists in America by Hemant Mehta at the Leftist website Friendly Atheist, these sentences appear:

At some point, Democrats need to recognize we’re a valuable voting bloc and stop avoiding us. It’s to their advantage to engage with us and support our (fairly mild, totally sensible) policy issues.

So we learn that the Left’s concept of “intersectionality” does not go so far as to recognize atheists.

The Right is far more tolerant. A representative of the still young organization Republican Atheists was warmly received at CPAC this year:

For the first time Republican Atheists attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), one of the largest conservative-oriented political events in the United States. CPAC took place February 26-29, 2020, in National Harbor, Maryland. This was a great opportunity for the organization to network and connect with recognized speakers and organizations in the conservative arena.

According to a chart drawn by Pew Research, both parties have very nearly the same number of atheist supporters.

Here’s their chart:

Generational cohort among atheists by political party

% of atheists who are…

Party affiliation Younger Millennial Older Millennial Generation X Baby Boomer Silent Greatest Sample Size
Republican/lean Rep. 28% 16% 32% 20% 4% < 1% 143
No lean 30% 25% 28% 14% 2% < 1% 146
Democrat/lean Dem. 27% 21% 27% 18% 6% 1% 793

 

But other charts of theirs give a far higher percentage of atheists to the Democrats. Follow the link to find the whole story.

Is the contradiction explained by the imbalance of the sample sizes? (Why do pollsters so often consult far more Democrats than Republicans?)

There is nothing about atheism as such that places it logically on either the Left or the Right.

Posted under Atheism, Conservatism, Leftism, Progressivism, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, May 10, 2020

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Boom again? 7

How long will it take for the thriving economy that President Trump conjured up to get going again?

The Wall Street Journal pleads:

[T]he strict lockdowns were a government policy choice. But the damage is done, and our focus isn’t on recriminations. The issue is what to do now, and the public is wise enough to know that public health can’t be sustained without a healthy economy. Americans can see the destruction all around them. They know the virus will be with us for a long time unless there’s a vaccine, so we have to learn to live with it and have a functioning economy

No politician wants to admit it, but we are moving to a de facto policy that gives people and businesses the leeway to open and make their own risk calculations. Most Americans are smart enough to know they need to take precautions and social distance, and businesses have no incentive to endanger their employees. Meat packers are learning that lesson the hard way.

The tradeoff isn’t between lives and livelihoods. The policy goal has to be to protect both as much as possible. Deploy more personal protective equipment, greatly increase testing, build surge capability to handle flare-ups, and isolate society’s most vulnerable to keep hospitals from getting overwhelmed. But for heaven’s sake reopen the economy so we don’t consign millions to years of poverty.

We expect President Trump to do it again. We say, if anyone can, he can.

We want to hear arguments For or Against our opinion.

Posted under Economics, United States by Jillian Becker on Saturday, May 9, 2020

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The meat chain crisis 3

A meat shortage is predicted.

There is no shortage of cattle, sheep, pigs or chickens. But the suspension of normal commerce while the coronavirus pandemic rages has meant that the process by which meat gets from farm to market is not functioning. Meat processing plants have shut down. Suggestions that many small “Mom and Pop”  processing businesses could keep the meat coming to our tables, are unrealistic.

To help us understand how the process normally works and how seriously damaging to the industry the shutdown is, we asked our reader Jeanne Shockley, who is a Maryland farmer, to describe and comment on it.

She has obligingly written this:

The meat business in this nation involves not just the growers and the processing plants, but the grain farmers, and on from them: the agricultural equipment companies and their repair shops; the seed companies, fertilizer and chemical companies; the poultry equipment companies; the carpenters that build poultry houses; the electricians and other sorts of repair people who keep the chicken houses in working order. (Our electric and propane companies depend upon the massive and guaranteed income from the poultry industries, and our forest products are used for litter.) Then there are also: the grain and produce truckers; feed truck drivers; live-haul drivers;  chicken catching crews;  all the business people who handle the companies’s organization and other matters; and the people who keep the plants running – mechanics, feed mill operators, electricians, IT techs, sanitation, waste water techs and veterinarians.

The agriculture businesses linked with meat processing plants have more of an impact upon an area, a community, a state than nearly any other business, and the relationship is very critical for rural areas. The industries make our communities, bring Walmarts and McDonalds and malls and community colleges and housing growth for employees.

An average beef processing plant slaughters and processes 4500 head per week. Now plants have cut back to 1500 per week owing to the shutdown. On the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Eastern Shore of Virginia) the 5 poultry companies combined slaughter and process between 10 and 11 million birds per week. They have cut back to 40 or 50 percent of the weekly kill. Slaughtering and butchering and processing for markets is a major and intensive operation, with continuous costs and upkeep, watched over by full-time inspectors.  

The “Mom & Pop” processing plants that it is hoped can help out if the regulations are relaxed, are what I would call butcher shops.  There is a good-sized one not too far from us in Delaware.  They slaughter five or six steers each weekend for their customers and I would guess as many hogs, and some range chickens, but it is not a processing plant, it is a small family butchering business. As such, they are keeping their own thing going and it is working well. They are now pulling in folks that can’t find meat, milk, or eggs in the grocery stores and are willing to pay extra to get them for immediate consumption or freezing. Why would they use their profits, plus go into debt, in order to expand and pick up a tiny bit of the slack for an indefinite and possibly short period of time? 

The processing plants’ crisis, their struggle to remain open even if they only run 40%, is happening all over the country. It isn’t just about depopulating herds and flocks and wasting eggs, milk and meat.  It is about bringing depression to an area in an already difficult economic time.

The plants are doing what they are capable of doing, which is what the President asked them to do. It is believed that the main reason the Defense Act was implemented is so the companies are protected from lawsuits, should an employee who chooses to work come down with Covid-19.

One idea that we heard was for the companies to rent a hotel and bus transportation in order to house line workers at the hotel. They would not be allowed to return home for the duration of their work period, and would work in shifts. And of course, health care and protocol, etc. would be established. But these are not “expendable” people and none can be conscripted to work the processing lines.

Meat processing plants seem to be a hotspot for outbreaks and maybe this is why; nearly all of the plant workers at the Tyson plant in my area are Haitian and Latinos, with most not speaking English or speaking with very little fluency. They tend to live three families to a single family home or many single people crammed into single family homes. They tend not to be well educated and are of a very congregant culture. Testing and educating about health safety during this time is quite a task in itself, without the language barrier problem. But this is not a job many in this country are willing to do, which is why workers are hired from Latino nations and Haiti.  

The best thing would be to get all processing line workers tested asap, provide safer living arrangements for them and pay them more, although those around here get paid fairly well and enjoy health insurance, on-site clinics, continuing education incentives, English language classes and other benefits. It is a hard and yucky job, but not a bad start for young people or “migrant” workers. The more processing plant workers have testing done, the better for them, for the industry, and for the supply chain to return to normal.

There is encouraging news that the “meat chain” crisis may be averted by measures now planned by President Trump.

Breitbart reports:

United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday said at the White House that meatpacking plants would return to full capacity in a week to ten days.

Reynolds and Perdue commented during a visit with President Donald Trump in the Oval office as fears of a meat shortage continue [and] processing plants struggle to keep going amid coronavirus breakouts.

Reynolds thanked President Trump for acting quickly to use the Defense Production Act to declare the plants essential infrastructure. She said that [his] action prevented meat producers from euthanizing their stock that could not be sold. …

Resources would be surged to the plants to help protect the workers and put critical infrastructure in place.

Totalitarian Catholic Communism – an ideal for America? 8

Adrian Vermeule is a Harvard professor of Constitutional Law who doesn’t like the US Constitution, is nostalgic for Roman Catholic statist totalitarianism, and proposes a new dispensation for Americans under “authoritative rule for the common good” which, he gleefully declares, requires the “overriding” of “the selfish claims of individuals to ‘private rights’”.

Vermeule is a convert to Catholicism. He does not mention Catholicism by name in this article, but his belief that morality is rightly defined and imposed by a central authority for the “common good” belongs to his religion. And the idea that self-sacrifice is the highest moral good is essentially a Christian teaching. A fear of heresy – people being allowed to voice an opinion that the state-as-church does not approve – suffuses his political philosophy.

Free speech and free-speech ideology — that government is forbidden to judge the quality and moral worth of public speech,” he writes, “should be not only rejected but stamped as abominable, beyond the realm of the acceptable forever”.

The article in which he propounds these views appears in the Leftist journal, The Atlantic, as “part of the project The Battle for the Constitution, in partnership with the National Constitution Center”. (Go there to see how all the contributions to this project are actually against the Constitution.)

It is easy to see why The Atlantic likes his ideas. Stalin would have applauded them.

As for the structure and distribution of authority within government, common-good constitutionalism will favor a powerful presidency ruling over a powerful bureaucracy, the latter acting through principles of administrative law’s inner morality with a view to promoting solidarity and subsidiarity. The bureaucracy will be seen not as an enemy, but as the strong hand of legitimate rule. The state is to be entrusted with the authority to protect the populace from the vagaries and injustices of market forces, from employers who would exploit them as atomized individuals, and from corporate exploitation and destruction of the natural environment. 

The close resemblance between Left statism and Catholic Christianity could not be more candidly displayed.

This Constitutional Law professor would not allow a thread of the Constitution to remain … Oh, wait! He does allow a few threads to remain, useful for the re-construction of the United States of America:

The general-welfare clause, which gives Congress “power to … provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”, is an obvious place to ground principles of common-good constitutionalism (despite a liberal tradition of reading the clause in a cramped fashion), as is the Constitution’s preamble, with its references to general welfare and domestic tranquility, to the perfection of the union, and to justice.

And he could endure the retention of some words, provided they were re-interpreted:

Constitutional words such as freedom and liberty need not be given libertarian readings; instead they can be read in light of a better conception of liberty as the natural human capacity to act in accordance with reasoned morality.

“Reasoned morality” being the “common-good” morality such as was propounded by the Catholic Church and for many centuries enforced by the Papal and Spanish Inquisitions.

This imposed “common-good” morality will be resisted at first, but –

Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires for the individual and common goods, better habits, and beliefs that better track and promote communal well-being.

Notice that citizens have become “subjects” under this ideal regime. And the state run by bureaucrats has become “the ruler” – more pope than king.

If it can be taken that The Atlantic speaks for the Left – and surely it can? – we are being told in the strongest possible terms that the Left wants and intends to abandon the Constitution – which alone binds the states of America together into a nation – and substitute a federal government with totalitarian policies and absolute powers that would establish Roman Catholicism as a state religion, substitute central planning for the free market, and implement the “green” policies of environmentalists further to restrict our lives as “subjects” of the Moral State.

If it was just one Catholic religious nut pleading for the establishment of this utopia, we could laugh at it and forget it.

But it is not just one. It is millions of – mostly young, school-indoctrinated – Leftist religious nuts wanting dependence on parental government; the drowning of individuals in an ocean of common-good; the implementation of anti-industrial “green” policies with the hard forced labor and poverty they’ll entail; sacrifice of personal ambitions and talents; acceptance of chastisement for sin (you “will come to thank the ruler” for it) and life-long indebtedness for food, shelter, and apportioned health care; total loss of self-determination; obedience.

Obedience. Bureaucrats will tell you what to do. Do it!  It is for the common good.

Above all, obedience. 

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