WSJ: Jan 6th was a Riot, But No Coup d’état

From the WSJ:

“The chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, claimed in his opening remarks Tuesday that “the rioters came dangerously close to succeeding” in their effort to “upend American democracy.” This is in service of Mrs. Pelosi’s political narrative that Mr. Trump conspired with a mob to stage a coup d’état. She wants to run against Mr. Trump again in 2022.

“This gives the mob far too much credit. Rioters believed Mr. Trump’s falsehoods about a stolen election, and some of them apparently thought they might stop Congress’s certification of the electoral votes. But that was an impossible fantasy. The Electoral College had already voted. Vice President Mike Pence had concluded, correctly and bravely, that he had no authority to reject the results. The rioters had no apparent leader and no coherent plan.

“Even if they’d managed to steal or destroy the official Electoral College certificates, do Democrats think some knucklehead in face paint and a fur hat could have simply declared the election void? The public and the courts wouldn’t have stood for a rabble overturning the 2020 result. Mr. Trump didn’t have the military on his side, or even most of his own Administration. The investigations so far have turned up no guiding cabal. Rioters have been arrested and many will go to prison.

“The riot was a disgrace, and it’s a stain on Mr. Trump’s Presidency. The police officers who testified Tuesday are heroes for holding the line and giving Vice President Pence and Congress time to evacuate.” [Two False Narratives About the Capitol Riot, July 28, 2021]

Related:

Lying To The Public For Their Own “Good”: “Noble Lies” and COVID-19

Kerrington Powell and Vinay Prasad make some important points on Fauci and the government’s “Noble Lies” surrounding COVID-19:

“When experts or agencies deliver information to the public that they consider possibly or definitively false to further a larger, often well-meaning agenda, they are telling what is called a noble lie. Although the teller’s intentions may be pure—for example, a feeling of urgency that behavioral change is needed among the lay public—the consequences can undermine not only those intentions but also public trust in experts and science.”

[…]

“Experts on infectious diseases are not necessarily experts on social behavior. Even if we accept Fauci’s claim that he downplayed the importance of wearing masks because he didn’t want to unleash a run on masks, we might wonder how he knew that his noble lie would be more effective than simply being honest and explaining to people why it was important to assure an adequate supply of masks for medical workers.”

[…]

“We worry that vaccine policy among supporters of vaccines is increasingly anchored to the irrational views of those who oppose them—by always pursuing the opposite. Exaggerating the risk of the virus in the moment and failing to explore middle ground positions appear to be the antithesis of the anti-vax movement, which is an extremist effort to refuse vaccination. This seems a reflexive attempt to vaccinate at all costs—by creating fear in the public (despite falling adolescent rates) and pushing the notion that two doses of mRNA at the current dose level or nothing at all are the only two choices—a logical error called the fallacy of the excluded middle.”

[…]

“Public health messaging is predicated on trust, which overcomes the enormous complexity of the scientific literature, creating an opportunity to communicate initiatives effectively. Still, violation of this trust renders the communication unreliable. When trust is shattered, messaging is no longer clear and straightforward, and instead results in the audience trying to reverse-engineer the statement based on their view of the speaker’s intent. Simply put, noble lies can rob confidence from the public, leading to confusion, a loss of credibility, conspiracy theories, and obfuscated policy.” [The Noble Lies of COVID-19Slate, July 28, 2021.]

Such lies, no matter the motive for them, always come back to bite you, as reality is a whole. “All facts are interconnected.” To cover up one lie, one must create another, or reveal the truth one should have made in the first place.

The Jan 6th Show Trials Punish Political Opponents Not For What They Did But What They Believe

Writes Senator Ron Paul on how The Jan. 6th Show Trials Threaten All of Us:

The recent felony conviction and eight month prison sentence of January 6th protester Paul Hodgkins is an affront to any notion of justice. It is a political charge and a political verdict by a political court. Every American regardless of political persuasion should be terrified of a court system so beholden to politics instead of justice.

We’ve seen this movie before and it does not end well.

Worse than this miscarriage of justice is the despicable attempt by the prosecutor in the case to label Hodgkins – who has no criminal record and was accused of no violent crime – a “terrorist.”

As journalist Michael Tracey recently wrote, Special Assistant US Attorney Mona Sedky declared Hodgkins a “terrorist” in the court proceedings not for committing any terrorist act, not for any act of violence, not even for imagining a terrorist act.

Sedky wrote in her sentencing memo, “The Government … recognizes that Hodgkins did not personally engage in or espouse violence or property destruction.” She added, “we concede that Mr. Hodgkins is not under the legal definition a domestic terrorist.”

Yet Hodgkins should be considered a terrorist because the actions he took – entering the Senate to take a photo of himself – occurred during an event that the court is “framing…in the context of terrorism.”

That goes beyond a slippery slope. He is not a terrorist because he committed a terrorist act, but because somehow the “context” of his actions was, in her words, “imperiling democracy.”

In other words, Hodgkins deserved enhanced punishment because he committed a thought crime. The judge on the case, Randolph D. Moss, admitted as much. In carrying a Trump flag into the Senate, he said, Hodgkins was, “declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the nation.”

As Tracey pointed out, while eight months in prison is a ridiculously long sentence for standing on the floor of the “People’s House” and taking a photograph, it is also a ridiculously short sentence for a terrorist. If Hodgkins is really a terrorist, shouldn’t he be sent away for longer than eight months?

The purpose of the Soviet show trials was to create an enemy that the public could collectively join in hating and blaming for all the failures of the system. The purpose was to turn one part of the population against the other part of the population and demand they be “cancelled.” And it worked very well…for awhile.

In a recent article, libertarian author Jim Bovard quoted from Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago about how average people turned out to demand “justice” for the state’s designated “political” enemies: “There were universal meetings and demonstrations (including even school-children). It was the newspaper march of millions, and the roar rose outside the windows of the courtroom: ‘Death! Death! Death!’”

While we are not quite there yet, we are moving in that direction. Americans being sent to prison not for what they did, but for what they believe? Does that sound like the kind of America we really want to live in?

While many Biden backers are enjoying seeing the hammer come down on pro-Trump, non-violent protesters, they should take note: the kind of totalitarian “justice” system they are cheering on will soon be coming for them. It always does.

Made available by the Ron Paul Insitute.

A Recipe for Disaster in South Africa: Anti-Capitalist Ideology, Corruption, and Criminality

R W Johnson has an informative article on “Why Violence and Looting Have Exploded Across South Africa” published in the Quilette. Some of the low-lights:

“Shopping without money”

“[O]nce the rioting and looting of shops and hijacking of trucks on the highway began, with the police clearly scared and ineffective, word rapidly spread that you could go “shopping without money,” creating huge excitement among the ranks of the millions of poor and unemployed Zulus who inhabit the townships and squatter camps around Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and from there spreading into every small town of the province. Most of the looters and miscreants were unconcerned about Zuma’s fate. They simply heard along the grapevine that trouble was going on and realised that opportunity was staring them in the face.”

Poverty increases under ANC rule

When the ANC was first elected in 1994 its posters promised “Jobs, jobs, jobs!” but paid little heed to that once they were elected. In 1995 the average number of unemployed, according to official figures, was 1,698,000 or, if one took the expanded definition of unemployment, including those who had given up looking for a job, the figure was 3,321,000. With only a few exceptional periods to the contrary, that figure has grown steadily and hugely to surpass 11.4 million today. Since the unemployed have little or no income, this has also meant a huge growth in both poverty and inequality. The ANC has routinely deplored poverty and inequality but it has generally tried to pretend that this is part of the “apartheid inheritance.” As the figures show, this is the opposite of the truth.

Political cronyism under the banner of “equality”

The article also points to one of the key causes of South Africa’s decline: a political class of government workers, trade union officials, and BEE “capitalists” politically connected to government officials:

“In practice the plight of the unemployed and poor has been ignored. The government is far more concerned with the “haves” within its coalition—the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) capitalists, the public sector workers and the trade union bosses. The government’s offer of an extra R18 billion ($1.25 billion) for already well-paid public service workers came only days before the unrest and was, effectively, an insult and a provocation for the unemployed. Similarly, Ramaphosa attempted to garner public sympathy for the “plight” of MPs—who are among the one percent best paid people in the country.”

“Most striking of all, however, is the BEE legislation which has, not surprisingly, been nominated by foreign investors as the biggest single drawback to investing in South Africa. It is, after all, effectively a tax on investmentif you want to invest in South Africa you have to more or less give away a large chunk of your equity to BEE partners who have nothing to offer by way of skills or capital other than an ability to get government ministers to take their calls. This is straightforward crony capitalism. The effect of such legislation is to push foreign investment away—at the cost of many jobs—simply in order to line the pockets of a handful of ANC-connected cronies.”

Such cronyism is not capitalism, but political cronyism.

Capitalism is a political-economic system based on the principle of individual rights, which means the separation of state and economics (just like the separation of church and state).

Under capitalism, the government’s sole purpose is to protect each individual’s rights equally. It is a system of justice. Cronyism is the practice of giving rewards based on considerations other than merit: it is a form of injustice.

A “partner” who has “nothing to offer by way of skills or capital other than an ability to get government ministers to take their calls” would not exist under capitalism, as under a free-market (the chief trait of a capitalist economy) one does not require the permission of government officials to start a business. One-acts by inalienable right.

Given the two concepts — the political cronyism of statism vs. the political freedom of capitalism — are incommensurable, what does the invalid lumping of the two as “crony capitalism” seek to accomplish? It seeks to blame capitalism for the sins of politicians and their cronies who would not survive in a free market.

Capitalism creates; statism destroys:

The result has been the destruction of large segments of South Africa’s infrastructure:

“[A]mong the mass of looters are more sinister elements. Criminals naturally flourish in such an environment, either organizing massive heists of goods or using the mayhem as cover for other crimes. But there are also clearly political elements trying to make the country ungovernable by attacking key pieces of infrastructure—there have been attacks on reservoirs, over 120 attacks on electricity sub-stations, and the road leading to the Sapref refinery in Durban (which produces one third of all South Africa’s petrol) has become so dangerous due to continuous attacks on vehicles that the refinery has had to close down completely. Already there are huge queues at garages and a major fuel crisis is building. Moreover, as soon as a shop, warehouse, or factory has been looted it is set on fire. None of these crimes produce money and the destruction of such buildings is bound to cost jobs and lead to many more people going hungry in future.”

Such infrastructure has taken decades upon decades to build, has been destroyed in a matter of days.

Why Violence and Looting Have Exploded Across South Africa is an important read.

Antitrust Fascism in China

For a modern 21st century of how fascism is implemented today, one can look at China. Quoting from the NY TimesWhat China Expects From Businesses: Total Surrender“:

“China’s Big Tech wields as much power as the American tech giants in the national economy. Like their American counterparts, the Chinese companies have appeared to engage in anticompetitive practices that hurt consumers, merchants and smaller businesses. That deserves scrutiny and regulation to prevent any abuse of power.

“But it’s important to keep in mind that the Chinese tech companies operate in a country ruled by an increasingly autocratic government that demands the private sector surrender with absolute loyalty. So unlike the antitrust campaigns that European and American officials are pursuing in their regions, China is using the guise of antitrust to cement the Communist Party’s monopoly of power, with private enterprises likely to lose what’s left of their independence and become a mere appendage of the state.” [emphasis added]

The name for such a policy is fascism.

Writes Ayn Rand on the nature of fascism:

“The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal.

“The dictionary definition of fascism is: ‘a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.), emphasizing an aggressive nationalism . . .’ [The American College Dictionary, New York: Random House, 1957.]

“Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it—at least until the next purge. In either case, the government officials hold the economic, political and legal power of life or death over the citizens.”

Contrary to the New York Times article, their European and American counterparts are “using the guise of antitrust to cement” the government’s power. As an illustration, observe the threats by both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. against “Big-tech.”

The difference is not one of principle, but only one of degree. The claws of American bureaucrats are chained by a withering constitution that limits that power and will continue to do so until it is interpreted out of existence.

China being a Communist dictatorship has no such restraint.

Myth of the U.S. “Blockade” of Communist Cuban Dictatorship

  • World

Writes Andres Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald on “When it comes to Cuba, there’s a lot of hypocrisy from the right and from the left” (2021.07.17):

[I]nstead of defending the Cuban people’s right to express themselves peacefully, these and other members of the region’s Jurassic left joined the dictators of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in blaming the U.S. “blockade” for the protests in Cuba.

In fact, there is no “blockade.” According to Cuba’s own official figures, the island conducts trade with 70 countries around the world, including the United States. There is an embargo on U.S. trade with Cuba, which Washington imposed in 1962 after the island’s regime expropriated U.S. companies there.

And the U.S. embargo has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese. The United States is one of Cuba’ s 15 largest trading partners and the biggest exporter of food and agricultural goods to Cuba, according to U.S. government figures.

The United States ships about $276 million a year in food and medicines to Cuba. In addition, U.S. residents send $3.5 billion a year in family remittances to the island, and more than 500,000 U.S. tourists visited Cuba in 2019, at the height of Trump’s sanctions. In other words, the United States is one of Cuba’s main sources of income.

According to Reuters it was the Cuban government that blocked the import of food and medicine into Cuba:

“Cuba announced on Wednesday it was temporarily lifting restrictions on the amount of food and medicine travelers could bring into the country in an apparent small concession to demands by protesters who took to the street last weekend.”

[…]

“Still, one of the campaign’s demands was for the government to lift customs restrictions on food, medicine and hygiene products that are lacking in the country amid its worst economic crisis since the fall of former ally the Soviet Union.”

For further reading:

 

Is Michael Jordan The G.O.A.T.?

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” —Michael Jordan

Hero worshippers Andrew Bernstein and John Hersey are at it again. This time the target of their admiration is none other than the great basketball player, Michael Jordan. Is Michael Jordan the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All-Time)?

 

Yaron Brook on The Destruction of Freedom in Hong Kong

  • World

Related:

  • Appeasing Dictatorship: From Munich to Hong Kong
    With little regard for this recent history, Britain is appeasing dictatorship once again. On July 1, 1997, Britain will officially give back political authority over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China.
  • The Big Aristotle Educates King LeBron on Freedom for Hong Kong
    With his historic statement against Communist China for the ideal of free speech and the United States of America, Shaq showed a prime example of the highest moral action. Leonard Peikoff once said that to save the world is the simplest thing — all one has to do is think. Shaquille O’Neal did exactly that.
  • Jimmy Lai and the Fight for Freedom in Hong Kong
    Jimmy Lai, the entrepreneur and leader in the fight to preserve freedom in Hong Kong, describes the struggles he has endured including having his home fire-bombed, his family harassed, and his business threatened by the Chinese Communist Party.
  • Support Joshua Wong and The Hong Kong Freedom Protests
    Hong Kong’s protest leader Joshua Wong recently Tweeted this image [by @harcourtromanticist] of a painting, which imitates Liberty Leading the People (1830) by French romanticist painter Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), whose painting is at the Louvre in Paris.

June 2021 Book Recommendations by Ed Locke

God Versus Nature: The Conflict Between Religion and Science in History by Frederick Seiler
This brilliant book explores, in essentialized form, the conflict between science and religion. The conflict is based on the primacy of consciousness and mysticism vs the primacy of reason and reality. He traces this issue from the ancient world through the present.

Effective Discipline: The Montessori Way by Charlotte Cushman
This terrific book refutes the touchy-feely (subjectivist, emotionalist) approach to discipline often used today in Montessori Schools based on John Dewey and false views of self-esteem. Cushman defends Maria Montessori’s view which argues that bad behavior requires consequences. In the Montessori system, this requires, for example, “time-outs” (children made to sit, for a time, in the corner). The book is full of great advice to parents about rational methods of discipline.

Unsettled by Steven Koonin
I have read many books on climate. This book stands out in one important respect: the author’s only agenda seems to be respected for the truth which means for what we actually know. vs. what we don’t. Koonin is a genuine expert in science. (He does not get into philosophical issues).

Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom by Patrick Moore
His book has the same theme as Koonin’s. He gives many examples of fears which are not based on facts.

James Grant on How Jonathan Levy’s “Ages of American Capitalism” Completely Misses The Point

The eloquent James Grant, the author of “Bagehot: The Life and Times of the Greatest Victorian,” and editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, has penned a review of Jonathan Levy’s “Ages of American Capitalism” in the WSJ.

Some highlights:

In Mr. Levy’s vast mural of a book, which he ambitiously subtitles “A History of the United States,” John Maynard Keynes cuts the commanding figure. A few lines from Keynes’s “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” (1936), in fact, anticipate Mr. Levy’s central thesis. They read: “A somewhat comprehensive socialization of investment will prove the only means of securing an approximation of full employment.”

[…]

Mr. Levy writes to advance the proposition that American capitalism is turning from investment and production to speculation and chaos.

[…]

Mr. Levy is less successful at developing his thesis than he is at announcing it. His haziness on the nomenclature and history of finance is one problem, his want of authorial craft is another.

[…]

Mr. Levy doesn’t explicitly oppose the enterprise system — he acknowledges that it lifted the world from poverty — but he’s more inclined to disparage than admire the self-organizing dynamics of market-determined prices.

[…]

The conclusion to which Mr. Levy’s too numerous pages lead is that government is the indispensable cog in the American economy. It was World War II, a government enterprise if ever there was one, that ended the Great Depression, he contends, and it was the Federal Reserve that led us out of the Great Recession.

Conventionally, the author rushes past the depression of 1920-21, a bear of a downturn that was over and done with in 18 months despite punishingly high interest rates and balanced federal budgets. Why the slump ever ended should be a matter of intense curiosity for anyone who, like Mr. Levy, puts his stock in the Keynesian nostrums of big spending and concessionary borrowing costs. “Capitalism was not going to lift itself out of the slump,” the author writes of the Great Depression, yet our unstimulated capitalist forebears in 1921 somehow decided that prices and wages had fallen low enough to warrant new commitments of hope and capital. The 1920s subsequently roared.

For details on the depression of 1920-21, see Grant’s book The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself.

Contrary to Levy’s thesis, it’s actually government intervention in the market that makes depressions “great” and creates the economic chaos that Levy falsely blames on the marketplace. Levy’s call for the government to further take over the economy will only make things worse.

If you want insight into the history of American capitalism and economics you will have to turn elsewhere, as you won’t find it in Jonathan Levy’s “Ages of American Capitalism.”