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Ban Iranian Regime Human Rights Violators From Entering the United States

“Raisi’s Death Commission executed children as young as 15.”

U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Chuck Grassley, Marsha Blackburn, Rick Scott, and Marco Rubio sent a letter to President Biden calling on him to deny entry visas to Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi and other senior Iranian officials to attend the U.N. General Assembly in September 2022.

Below is the full text of the letter:

July 27, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Biden,

We are writing to express our concern about the prospect of incoming Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, visiting the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

Raisi’s record as a violator of human rights is long-standing and clear. In 1988, during his tenure as the deputy prosecutor of Tehran, Raisi served on a four-member Death Commission which oversaw the killing of over 5,000 prisoners, including women and children. The Death Commission conducted interviews that lasted only minutes to determine a prisoner’s loyalty to the Islamic Republic of Iran, then sentenced them to death without a lawyer, right to appeal, or fair trial. The executions, conducted by hanging or firing squad, often occurred on the same day as the Death Commission’s interrogations. After burying the dead in unmarked mass graves, Iranian officials refused to notify families for months and never shared with them the locations of their graves. Raisi’s Death Commission executed children as young as 15.

Ebrahim Raisi is proud of his record. In 2018, Raisi defended his role on the 1988 Death Commission, calling it “divine punishment” and “one of the proud achievements of the system.” In the thirty years since the commission, Raisi continued to subject the Iranian people to extrajudicial prosecution, torture, and execution. During the 2009 Green Revolution, when Iranians protested the rigged presidential election, Raisi served as Iran’s deputy chief justice. In this role, Raisi was directly involved in the regime’s prosecution and death sentences of peaceful protesters. Years after, when Raisi served as prosecutor general, he advocated for maintaining Iran’s house arrests on Green Revolution leaders.

Raisi also consistently supports inhumane punishment against the Iranian people. In 2010, Raisi celebrated the Iranian judiciary’s amputation of a prisoner’s hand for stealing as “a source of pride for us.” More recently, Ebrahim Raisi led Iran’s judiciary from 2019 to 2021. During his tenure, the judiciary regularly tortured its prisoners.

Recently, the United States designated Raisi for his role as head of Iran’s judiciary in facilitating the Supreme Leader of Iran’s tyrannical agenda, where he oversaw the state’s crackdown and murder of non-violent protesters. In 2019, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Raisi, pursuant to Executive Order 13876, for his oversight over the executions of juveniles, torture, and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of Iranian prisoners, including amputations.

Ebrahim Raisi should remain sanctioned under U.S. law. If the United Nations General Assembly maintains its current plans to allow some in-person attendance, the White House should deny Raisi and other Iranian leaders visas to attend. Allowing Raisi to travel to the United States-to the same city where the Iranian regime just tried to kidnap a U.S. citizen-would legitimize his repression, undermine America’s moral leadership, and potentially endanger our national security, given the likely presence of intelligence agents in the Iranian traveling party.

There is strong precedent for denying an entry visa to a foreign leader. In 1988, the United States barred PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat from entering the United States to attend a meeting of the United Nations. In 2014, President Obama denied an entry visa to Iranian Ambassador Hamid Aboutalebi, who was involved in taking American diplomats hostage in 1979. In 2020, the United States declined to issue a visa for Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Ebrahim Raisi’s role in the Death Commissions, brutal crackdowns on Iranian protesters, and his association with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps should disqualify him from receiving a visa to the United States.

Thank you for considering this important matter. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

/s/

 

“Words are Violence” Crowd Sanctions The Attack on Salman Rushdie

“This issue has nothing to do with an oppressed and disadvantaged minority. It has everything to do with the battle against fanatical Islam, which is highly organized, well funded, and which seeks to terrify us all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, into a cowed silence.” – Salman Rushdie

 

Writes Bari Weiss on the stabbing in the neck of author Salman Rushdie who “has lived half of his life with a bounty on his head—some $3.3 million promised by the Islamic Republic of Iran to anyone who murdered him”:

We live in a culture in which many of the most celebrated people occupying the highest perches believe that words are violence. In this, they have much in common with Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who issued the first fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, and with Hadi Matar, the 24-year-old who, yesterday, appears to have fulfilled his command when he stabbed the author in the neck on a stage in Western New York.

The first group believes they are motivated by inclusion and tolerance—that it’s possible to create something even better than liberalism, a utopian society where no one is ever offended. The second we all recognize as religious fanatics. But it is the indulgence and cowardice of the words are violence crowd that has empowered the second and allowed us to reach this moment, when a fanatic rushes the stage of a literary conference with a knife and plunges it into one of the bravest writers alive.

[…] And yet as shocking as this attack was, it was also 33 years in the making: The Satanic Verses is a book with a very bloody trail.

She goes on to recount the horrific number of murders, stabbings, bookstore bombings and burnings, and anti-Rushdie riots, noting the courage of those defending Rushdie in the 1980s, and how the intellectuals of today condemn Rushdie, and those like him who dare to speak what they believe:

…the difference between civilization and barbarism is that civilization responds to words with words. Not knives or guns or fire. That is the bright line. There can be no excuse for blurring that line—whether out of religious fanaticism or ideological orthodoxy of any other kind.

Today our culture is dominated by those who blur that line—those who lend credence to the idea that words, art, song lyrics, children’s books, and op-eds are the same as violence. We are so used to this worldview and what it requires—apologize, grovel, erase, grovel some more—that we no longer notice. It is why we can count, on one hand—Dave Chappelle; J.K. Rowling—those who show spine.

Another lesson to draw from the attack is made by Daniel Pipes, noting that “Salman Rushdie was never safe“:

Will the rest of us learn from this sad tale? Russia and China are certainly great power foes, but Islamism is an ideological threat. Its practitioners range from the rabid (ISIS) to the totalitarian (the Islamic Republic of Iran) to the mock-friendly (the Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan). They threaten via propaganda, subversion, and violence. They mobilise not just in the caves of Afghanistan but in idyllic resort towns like Chautauqua, New York.

Related:

Religious Terrorism vs. Free Speech by Leonard Peikoff
Ayatollah Khomeni’s attack on Salman Rushdie and his publishers represents religious terrorism. Americans oppose the Ayatollah’s death-decree, but our government is doing nothing to combat it.

Immigration is the United States’ “Secret Sauce” to American Greatness

Writes Graham Allison and Eric Schmidt on why “The U.S. Needs a Million Talents Program to Retain Technology Leadership”:

What is the single most significant step the United States can take to sustain the technological predominance it has enjoyed since World War II? The answer should be obvious: to actively recruit the most talented minds in the world and welcome them into a society where they have the opportunity to realize their dreams. From physicist Albert Einstein and the other European scientists who helped the United States win World War II and land on the moon to the founders of Intel, Google, eBay, Uber, and the many technology companies that have powered economic growth, smart and ambitious immigrants have been the country’s secret sauce.

They recount the case of a foreign scientist who help invent 5G, and how the U.S. failure to retain him, benefited China:

It’s not just a matter of enticing new immigrants but of retaining bright minds already in the country. In 2009, a Turkish graduate of the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Erdal Arikan, published a paper that solved a fundamental problem in information theory, allowing for much faster and more accurate data transfers. Unable to get an academic appointment or funding to work on this seemingly esoteric problem in the United States, he returned to his home country. As a foreign citizen, he would have had to find a U.S. employer interested in his project to be able to stay.

Back in Turkey, Arikan turned to China. It turned out that Arikan’s insight was the breakthrough needed to leap from 4G telecommunications networks to much faster 5G mobile internet services. Four years later, China’s national telecommunications champion, Huawei, was using Arikan’s discovery to invent some of the first 5G technologies. Today, Huawei holds over two-thirds of the patents related to Arikan’s solution—10 times more than its nearest competitor. And while Huawei has produced one-third of the 5G infrastructure now operating around the world, the United States does not have a single major company competing in this race. Had the United States been able to retain Arikan—simply by allowing him to stay in the country instead of making his visa contingent on immediately finding a sponsor for his work—this history might well have been different.

Similar stories are far too common. The founders of China’s leading companies in semiconductors, smartphones, and app-based deliveries—the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, Xiaomi, and Meituan—were all educated at U.S. universities.

They recommend:

To this end, the U.S. Congress should streamline the country’s immigration rules and establish programs to recruit and retain established tech superstars and the world’s best students researching advanced technologies. And if Congress will not act, then Biden should use his ample executive authority to create a million talents program and promote the United States’ leadership in the technology of the future.

[…]

It’s time for the United States to poach with purpose. To start, Washington should grant an additional 250,000 green cards each year. The current backlog of green cards—which entitle their holders to permanent residency and unrestricted work—is well over 1 million for high-skilled immigrants and is projected to grow to nearly 2.5 million by 2030. Right now, the U.S. government is hopelessly behind, approving two applications for every green card it actually issues. The United States also requires that no more than 7 percent of employment- and family-based green cards be issued to citizens from any single country, disadvantaging scientists and engineers from India and China. Congress should eliminate this cap and create new green card categories for experts in frontier technologies.

We might add an easier, less micro-managed, pro-freedom solution: the entire removal of immigration quotas: if you are a peaceful, loving, rights-respecting productive person, America welcomes you to her shores.

Jan 6 Show Hearings: An Unbalanced Caricature of a Justice

Jonathan Turley writes about how truth-finding took a second seat to a Democrat political narrative, in “Poll: The J6 Hearings Had Virtually No Impact on Changing the Public Views.

J6 show hearings emphasized a scripted conclusion over an open and balanced inquiry

Writes Turley on how “the Committee would focus on reinforcing “a narrative” rather than follow prior investigatory commissions with an open and balanced inquiry”:

After bringing in a television producer, the hearings showed members reading off teleprompters and witnesses confined in limited roles of reaffirming what members were declaring about the riot. There was no effort to present alternative interpretations or viewpoints. It played into criticism of a “show trial” environment–an image that was magnified by Cheney declaring in the last hearing that Trump family and associates had come forward to “confess” and encouraging others to do the same.

Many of us supported the effort to bring greater transparency to what occurred on Jan. 6th and these hearings have offered a great deal of important new information. Indeed, it has proven gut-wrenching in the accounts of lawyers and staff trying to combat baseless theories and to protect the constitutional process.

Yet, the heavy-handed approach to framing the evidence has been both unnecessary and at times counterproductive. The strength of some of this evidence would not have been diminished by a more balanced committee or investigation. The unquestioning media coverage likely added to the feeling of many that these hearings lacked objective analysis and full accounts of what occurred, including the exclusion of any discussion of why the Capitol was left poorly protected on that day despite prior warnings of potential violence.

J6 show hearings provided no smoking gun evidence to criminally punish Trump

Second, the Committee over promised the public. At the start of the hearings, committee members promised they had the long-sought smoking-gun evidence — new material that would close the circle on Trump. Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) indicated he thought there was now “credible evidence” to support a variety of criminal charges. His colleague, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), said the committee would show that Trump organized a “coup” on Jan. 6, 2021. That framing has led to glaring omissions. The Committee has routinely edited videotapes and crafted presentations to eliminate alternative explanations or opposing viewpoints like repeatedly editing out Trump telling his supporters to go to the Capitol peacefully.

Offering a more balanced account, including allowing the Republicans to appoint their own members (in accordance with long-standing tradition), would not have lessened much of the dramatic testimony. Yet, allowing Republicans to pick their members (yes, including Rep. Jim Jordan) would have prevented allegations of a highly choreographed show trial. It would have added credibility to the process. Indeed, much of this evidence would have been hard to refute like the deposition of former Attorney General Bill Barr on the election fraud allegations.

Concludes Turley, “Presented with one-sided, tightly choreographed hearings, most citizens were left precisely where they began. The hearings were meant to enrage the base rather than add allies. It may have succeeded in that limited objective, but it could have been so much more.”

Vergara Cid on Biden’s Friendly Fist Bump with Saudi Arabia

Writes Agustina Vergara Cid on “Saudi Oil Isn’t Worth the Betrayal of American Values“:

…In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the president claimed that the goal of his visit was “to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward that’s based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while also holding true to fundamental American values.” But this is a fantasy: everything about the Saudi regime is hostile to fundamental American values.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute Islamic monarchy. The ultimate authority, even on judicial matters, is the king. Citizens have no rights or due process — the legal system is based on Sharia law, which empowers the state to control every aspect of people’s lives, including what they can think and say…. Just as there’s no freedom of speech, there is no freedom of thought: those who renounce Islam are subject to public decapitation. Dissent is punished by lashings, torture, wrongful imprisonment, kidnapping (see the case of Loujain al-Hathloul) and murder.

…Biden said that he is “not going to remain silent” when it comes to “a clear violation of human rights.” But what does that lack of silence mean if it has no implications for how he acts towards the perpetrators? Is empty finger wagging what Biden means by “holding true to fundamental American values”?

By the very act of sitting at the table with the Saudis, President Biden has whitewashed the regime’s despotic nature and crimes. He has empowered the regime by giving it a moral sanction.

Read the rest.

Jan 6 Committee Has So Far Failed To Make a Criminal Case Against Trump

Writes Jonathan Turley, “Jan. 6 committee has yet to establish a criminal case against Trump“:

[…] It is difficult to make a criminal case over what an official failed to do. Yet the last hearing seemed to focus on a number of things that did not occur, from a draft tweet that was not sent to an executive order that was never signed. There were discussions of appointing Trump attorney Sidney Powell as a special counsel, seizing voting machines or replacing the Justice Department’s leadership. As unnerving as these proposals were, they also were not carried out.

It is the type of evidence used to show mens rea — “guilty mind.” However, crimes generally require both guilty minds and guilty acts. Building a criminal case on the failure to act to stop the violence is a notoriously difficult case to make.

[…] It is even more difficult when the House committee has blocked any serious investigation into the potentially contributing failure of Congress to take better precautions before the riot, another costly act of omission.

[…] Looking objectively at the evidence, the committee never supplied “credible” proof of crimes. That is not to say the evidence is not shocking; indeed, it is like a series of “jump scares” involving Trump and others raising unfounded or unconstitutional courses of conduct.

[…] The Jan. 6 committee has made a case against Trump personally and politically. It has not done so criminally.

Read the full article.

Brian Simpson: Is US Constitution in Danger?

James Valliant interviews Professor Brian Simpson to discuss threats to America’s constitution from calls to end the filibuster, pack the court, release decisions, and how your economic liberties are protected by the constitution.

 

Also by Brian Simpson:

Ayn Rand Institute on The End of the Federal Protection of Abortion Rights

The philosophers at the Ayn Rand Institute – Onkar Ghate, Ben Bayer, and Yaron Brook – have a thought-provoking discussion on abortion rights with the over-turning of Roe v. Wade, which now allows for state-level bans on abortion.

(Though this is not the end of abortion in America, it is an ominous stepping stone to it, as those seeking abortions in states where abortion is/will be banned will have to travel out of state to obtain a legal abortion).

 

Issues covered include:

  • How the majority opinion empties the right to liberty of its content;
  • Justice Clarence Thomas’s opposition to substantive due process;
  • Why the Ninth Amendment has not been used in Supreme Court rulings on abortion;
  • The incrementalism behind Chief Justice John Roberts’s concurrence;
  • Why Roe v. Wade was a good decision despite its imperfect reasoning;
  • The dissent’s defense of individual liberty against majority will;
  • The dissent’s forceful protest against the unprincipled, anti-individualist majority opinion;
  • Why the dissent is right that the majority is inconsistent with its own reasoning in claiming that abortion is different from other rights;
  • Questions about whether the court typically tailors its reasoning to fit a predecided outcome;
  • The problem with the viability standard and the idea of balancing rights with a “state interest” in the fetus;
  • How the dissent undermines its own case by citing Lochner v. New York as a case that was rightly overturned;
  • How the morality of self-sacrifice contributed to the Dobbs ruling and the dissent’s failure to cite the right to the pursuit of happiness;
  • Why the widespread acceptance of collectivist premises have contributed to the abridgment of abortion rights;
  • Why the concept of “states’ rights” is an expression of collectivism;
  • How the fight over abortion rights will continue at the state and federal level.

 

Ben Bayer, Agustina Vergara Cid, and Don Watkins at the Ayn Rand Institute analyze the implications of Roe vs. Wade being overturned.

Thoughts on the Banned Book: When Harry Met Sally

  • Books

The American Conservative has an important article on the banned book, “Why ‘When Harry Became Sally’ Matters” and the politicization of the treatment for those who suffer from gender dysphoria:

…In short, a dearth of definitive data exists to support using surgery and hormones for all gender dysphoric patients. If this alone were the case, it would be enough to approach such aggressive interventions with hesitancy. But there are other elements to the clinical situation which should give one even more pause.

If gender depends on the subjective feeling of the patient, it is not static but fluid. Thus, even after hormones and surgery, patients change their minds only to confront the irreversibility of some of the treatments. In the most powerful chapter of his book, Ryan Anderson gives voice to those who “detransitioned” back to their biological gender. Anderson quotes Cari Stella, a detransitioned 22-year-old woman: “When I was transitioning, no one in the medical or psychological field ever tried to dissuade me, to offer other options, to do really anything to stop me besides tell me I should wait till I was 18.” In an extensive and thorough essay for The Atlantic, Jesse Singal documented some of the same thoughtless pressure from medical professionals: “Many of these so-called detransitioners argue that their dysphoria was caused…by mental health problems, trauma…They say they were nudged toward physical interventions of hormones or surgery by peer pressure or by clinicians who overlooked other potential explanations for their distress.”

This societal pressure primarily harms patients; but it also harms and all too often attempts to silence the frank and productive debate necessary to evaluate any medical intervention. As Anderson documents, in October 2017, “the governor of California signed a new law that could send health-care workers to jail for failing to use a person’s chosen pronouns.” In February, 2018, the New York Timespublished a column by Jennifer Finney Boylan, claiming Ryan Anderson’s book “suggests that transgender people are crazy, and that what we deserve at every turn is scorn, contempt and belittlement.” No passage in the book even remotely implies this. Only a few years ago, Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a world-renowned psychological expert on gender dysphoria and gender identity development, was fired from the Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic in Toronto, likely for taking a somewhat conservative approach to pre-pubescent children expressing gender dysphoria. His concern, that young patients might change their minds, led him to recommend a watchful and cautious approach rather than an aggressive medical approach to transition patients immediately. He was unceremoniously dismissed.

The coup de grâce came only last month when Amazon, a site responsible for 83% of books sold in the US, removed Ryan Anderson’s book from its site without any explanation and without any forewarning, a clear and disturbing instance of censoriousness. And yet, on Amazon, one can still purchase Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Josef Stalin’s Selected Works, and In Defense of Looting.

Read the rest of the review.

You can order the delisted book at Encounter Books.

Also available at B&N.

 

Tribalism: Coming to America

Echoing Ayn Rand’s analysis in her essay “Global Balkanization,” Ayan Hirsi Ali writes in “Tribalism has come to the West” how tribalism destroyed Somalia leading to civil war, and how such a fate may come to America:

While such violence is yet to seize America, all the tribalist ingredients are present. There is a blind commitment to one party or the other; emotions are running high; there is a lack of trust in civic institutions.

[…]

These tribal quirks run deep on both sides of the aisle. Many Republicans continue to dispute the legitimacy of the result of the last presidential election; while on the Left, the woke are eroding the Democratic Party from the inside, as identity politics displace universalist aspirations. Some citizens are viewed as part of oppressive groups, some as part of oppressed groups. A person’s individual actions can generally do little to change the immutable characteristics of the tribe to which they belong.

She continues how America was founded on replacing tribalism (a form of collectivism) with individualism:

The beautiful story of America, the reason so many people around the world still yearn to come here, is to a large extent founded on our rejection of tribalism and our establishment of civic, neutral institutions, based on the fundamental principle of equality before the law.

Read the rest.

 

The Right to Abortion and the Ninth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

Writes Ira Stoll in Abortion Right Not in Constitution, Doesn’t Mean It Doesn’t Exist:

“The Supreme Court’s opinion in Roe v. Wade,410 U.S. 113 (1973) discovered a right to abortion in the Constitution within the “right to privacy.” That privacy right itself had been discovered in a case about birth control, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965). Griswold’s declaration that the “specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations,” has been widely mocked.

To my mind, the gem within Griswold is Justice Arthur Goldberg’s concurrence. Goldberg, joined by Justice Brennan and Chief Justice Warren, focused not on penumbras or emanations but on the plain text of the Ninth Amendment.”

Stoll goes on to quote Justice Arthur Goldberg:

“The [Ninth] Amendment is almost entirely the work of James Madison. It was introduced in Congress by him, and passed the House and Senate with little or no debate and virtually no change in language. It was proffered to quiet expressed fears that a bill of specifically enumerated rights could not be sufficiently broad to cover all essential rights, and that the specific mention of certain rights would be interpreted as a denial that others were protected….the Ninth Amendment shows a belief of the Constitution’s authors that fundamental rights exist that are not expressly enumerated in the first eight amendments, and an intent that the list of rights included there not be deemed exhaustive. …the fact that no particular provision of the Constitution explicitly forbids the State from disrupting the traditional relation of the family — a relation as old and as fundamental as our entire civilization — surely does not show that the Government was meant to have the power to do so. Rather, as the Ninth Amendment expressly recognizes, there are fundamental personal rights such as this one [abortion], which are protected from abridgment by the Government, though not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.”

Stoll concludes correctly:

The mere fact that an abortion right isn’t mentioned in the Constitution doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The rights don’t come from the Constitution. The Constitution exists to protect the rights, including those it doesn’t explicitly mention.

Then why explicitly mention and enumerate rights?

“A problem with rights not written into law is that people may have widely varying views of them. Without legislative language, for example, one person’s idea of a right to an abortion may collide with another person’s view of a fetus or embryo having a ‘right to life.’

Read the whole article.

Jordan McGillis: Climate McCarthyism

Jordan McGillis, deputy director for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, on Climate McCarthyism:

In 2020, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Brian Schatz, Tom Carper, and Sheldon Whitehouse penned an open letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling on the company to toe the Democratic Party line. “If Facebook is truly ‘committed to fighting the spread of false news on Facebook and Instagram,’” the senators wrote, “the company must immediately acknowledge in its fact-checking process that the climate crisis is not a matter of opinion and act to close loopholes that allow climate disinformation to spread on its platform.”

Less than a year later, Zuckerberg’s company seemingly tightened its review process to adhere to the Democrats’ wishes. In May 2021, Facebook applied the dodgy new standard against Manhattan Institute senior fellow Mark Mills’s review of a book by Steven Koonin, former undersecretary in the Department of Energy under President Barack Obama. As Koonin described the incident in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, Facebook labeled postings of the Mills review as having “very low scientific credibility” and linked to a critique on the website ClimateFeedback.org, thus discouraging users from engaging with Mills and Koonin’s work—exactly as the Senate Democrats demanded. In these cases, it is easy to blame the companies that acquiesce—perhaps one large rival to Meta in the midst of an ownership change will buck this trend—but the politicians and bureaucrats doing the jawboning deserve ire, too.

Read the full article.

Bill Maher: “Democracy Dies in Dumbness” @ The Washington Post

In a play on the Washington Post’s banner “Democracy Dies in Darkness”, liberal comedian Bill Maher examines the latest fiasco inside the newsroom at one of America’s leading newspapers, noting “Nothing captures what’s wrong with today’s ‘journalism’ like the sad saga of what happened last week at The Washington Post.”

Brian Simpson: Is US Constitution in Danger?

James Valliant interviews economist Brian Simpson on the threats to America’s constitution: from calls to end the filibuster, pack the court, release decisions, and how the constitution protects your economic liberties.

The Banality of Putin and Xi

Yaron Brook and Elan Journo have written an insightful analysis on why tyrants like China’s Xi and Russia’s Putin appear “charismatic” & “successful”: the intellectual’s hatred of freedom and western appeasement.
They make four important points:

Freedom fuels human progress and prosperity.

For individuals to live, think, produce, and thrive, the role of a proper government is to protect their freedom. It is freedom that fuels human progress and prosperity. No one who values human flourishing can look at Putin, Xi or any other dictator as anything but a lethal aberration….They dominate, brutalize and exploit those who think, teach, invent, produce, run businesses, create value at whatever scale. By violating the rights of their citizens, Putin, Xi and other dictatorial leaders defy the objective conditions necessary for individuals to live and prosper. They are destroyers. “To deal with men by force,” observed philosopher Ayn Rand, “is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.”

Putin & Xi’s regimes are geared toward parasitism and exploitation.

Putin-aligned oligarchs have ransacked the country. China’s caste of party-aligned operatives have raked in billions, amid the country’s impressive economic rise. That rise, now seemingly slowing, occurred despite not because of China’s dictatorial leadership. It was a consequence of the slight degree of economic freedom the Party condescended to permit — and which it is now undoing….Such dictators and their hangers-on are thugs, gangsters and murderers who operate under the state’s (ostensible) moral authority. Human parasitism is an expression of not of efficacy, but of impotence.

Western intellectuals & policymakers have a prejudice against freedom, especially markets.

You can see it in the bias against markets, deemed messily inefficient, and in favor of central planning….many in the West are afflicted by what you might call Central-Planner Envy, and this leads them into warped thinking. It picks out supposed accomplishments  — “Behold the highspeed trains in Xi’s China!” — while evading the full reality of the uncountable individuals whose rights are trashed in the course of maintaining the regimes system’s pervasive repression.

Western appeasement, investment, and whitewashing embolden Russia and China.

…Russia and China are afforded the undeserved moral status of civilized countries. By agreeing to sit down with them at summits and multilateral meetings, our heads of state perpetuate the fiction that Putin and Xi as efficacious and benevolent leaders that belong in the company of rights-respecting nations.

The United Nations is a major culprit in whitewashing these regimes. Both have permanent seats on the UN’s powerful Security Council(!), despite violating the organization’s stated principles — flagrantly, repeatedly, and on a vast scale. What about the massacring of pro-democracy student protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989? Dousing the last embers of intellectual freedom? Interning thousands of Uighurs in concentration camps? Wiping out the last vestiges of freedom in Hong Kong? Ongoing piracy of foreign-owned intellectual property? The dishonest handling of the COVID pandemic? No, China has learned that it is effectively untouchable.

This official whitewashing encourages, and is reinforced by, the willingness of American and European companies to invest in China and Russia as if they were basically free, civilized, moral regimes….Putin’s regime, for example, has benefited handsomely from the inflow of foreign capital and joint-ventures with BP, Shell and Exxon. But, since the war in Ukraine, all three of these companies are frantically departing the Russian market, suffering losses in the tens of billions of dollars.

When you reflect on how the U.S. and European nations dealt with Putin’s past aggression, his initiation of war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, is exposed as foreseeable, rather than strategically shrewd let alone “genius.” Passive appeasement by the U.S. and Europe emboldened Putin…

Required reading.