The corrupt media’s attempt to frame their failings as mere confirmation bias holds no truer than the Russia-collusion hoax they peddled for five years.
By Margot Cleveland • The Federalist
Soon after Special Counsel John Durham indicted Igor Danchenko, the “Primary Sub-Source” of the Steele dossier, on five counts of lying to the FBI, the press paused to feign a moment of public introspection. The corrupt media’s attempt to frame their failings as mere confirmation bias, however, holds no truer than the Russia-collusion hoax they peddled for five years.
The proof of this reality is seen in the prostitute sex tapes: the non-existent “golden showers” one and the verifiable, but ignored, Hunter Biden videos.
The first step of what appeared, at least momentarily, to be the kick-off of a mea culpa parade came earlier this month when the Washington Post amended large segments of two articles covering the Russia-collusion storyline, one from March 2017 and the second from February 2019.
Both articles had named Sergei Millian, a Belarusian-American businessman, as the individual identified as “Source D” in the Steele dossier. While Millian had long denied speaking with Danchenko or having any role in the dossier, it was only after Durham charged the Russian-born Danchenko and former Brookings Institute employee with lying about receiving a telephone call from Millian that the Post and other media outlets removed the claims.
Then, last week, The New York Times ran a “guest essay” by professor of journalism and former Columbia Journalism School dean Bill Grueskin, headlined, “How Did So Much of the Media Get the Steele Dossier So Wrong?”
To Grueskin the problem was multi-pronged. Grueskin’s prologue to why “so many were taken in so easily” was simple: The dossier seemed to confirm what they already suspected—a corruption of Donald Trump that spanned “from dodgy real estate negotiations to a sordid hotel-room tryst, all tied together by the president-elect’s obeisance to President Vladimir Putin of Russia.”
From there, Grueskin listed the problems, which amazingly all belonged to Trump. Trump “had long curried Mr. Putin’s favor” and “he and his family were eager to do business in Russia.” Then there was Trump’s choice of Paul Manafort as his campaign chair that “reinforced the idea that he was in the thrall of Russia.”
Adding to the perfect storm that explained the press failures, Grueskin posited that “journalists also had to deal with the fact that many of the denials came from confirmed liars.” Further complicating the matter, Grueskin wrote, was that “some reporters simply didn’t like or trust Mr. Trump, and didn’t want to appear to be on his side.”
Here, Grueskin quoted from former Times reporter Barry Meier’s book “Spooked”: “Plenty of reporters were skeptical of the dossier, but they hesitated to dismiss it, because they didn’t want to look like they were carrying water for Trump or his cronies.”
Bunk. The corrupt media did not fall for the Russia collusion hoax. They were part of it.
How else to explain the scathing email Jake Tapper sent BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith after the latter published the dossier? “I think your move makes the story less serious and credible[.] I think you damaged its impact,” the CNN anchor wrote.
On that point at least, Tapper was correct. The actual dossier—as opposed to select excerpts or word-smithed summaries pushed by the anti-Trump press—“was a laughably fake document.” When the public saw the “source,” they didn’t buy it, and, really, neither did the press.
For all corporate media’s ex post facto efforts to rationalize why they “fell” for the dossier, only one holds true: They didn’t like Trump, personally or politically.
Now, Joe Biden, they like. So when weeks before the November 2020 election, when The New York Post published multiple stories revealing damaging information recovered from an abandoned laptop bearing a Biden Foundation sticker, social media silenced the story and corporate media spun it as Russia disinformation.
The same folks who supposedly bought anonymous claims that Trump had paid prostitutes to pee on a bed the Obamas had once slept in found the actual videos of Hunter Biden with prostitutes unbelievable. Likewise, we are to believe Trump’s supposed shady business deals made the dossier plausible to the press, while unworthy of the media’s trust were genuine emails discussing a 10 percent cut reserved for the “Big Guy” as part of a Biden family deal being plotted with a Chinese energy giant.
And we are to suppose that the press that pushed the Russia collusion hoax did so hesitantly and out of a desire not “to carry water” for Trump and his cronies, all while they carried Biden over the finish line, where he now sits as the commander-in-chief across the virtual table from China’s Xi Jinping.
Sure, now the corporate media is expending some effort to report on Hunter Biden’s partnership in 2016 with a Chinese state-backed company that gave the communist organization ownership of an African cobalt mine. That profitable investment by the younger Biden gave China control over much of the world’s production of cobalt—an essential element for electric car batteries. With the Biden administration’s latest spending proposal earmarking billions for promoting electric vehicles, we now see reporters beginning to probe whether the president’s son remains a financial beneficiary of that deal.
But that the corrupt media turned a blind eye to the evidence of a China-Biden scandal in 2020 lays bare the lie that journalists fell for the dossier and the Russia-collusion conspiracy theory because of a confirmation bias. There was no confirmation bias in play—it was collusion, pure and simple.
Having adopted a more flexible policy framework in response to the low-inflation conditions that preceded the COVID-19 crisis, the US Federal Reserve now finds itself confronting an entirely different economic regime. The balance of forces is thus weighing heavily against decisive action to control today’s price increases.
By Raghuram G. Rajan • Project Syndicate
Price increases in the United States are spreading across goods and services, and inflation also can be seen in broad-based business inputs such as transportation, energy, and increasingly labor. How should we expect central bankers to react?
For its part, the US Federal Reserve has emphasized that it will contemplate raising interest rates only after it is done tapering its monthly asset purchases, which will be sometime in July 2022 at the current pace of unwinding. Nonetheless, some members of the Fed’s rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee worry that the central bank will have fallen behind the curve by that time, forcing it to raise rates more abruptly, to higher levels, and for longer than anticipated. Hence, Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida recently indicated that the Fed might consider speeding up the taper (so that it can raise rates sooner) when its members meet again in December.
Notwithstanding the growing (but often unspoken) worries at the Fed, central bankers nowadays are reticent to see inflation as a problem. In the past, the current levels of inflation would have prompted them to square their shoulders, look determinedly into the TV cameras, and say, “We hate inflation, and we will kill it” – or words to that effect. But now they are more likely to make excuses for inflation, assuring the public that it will simply go away.
Clearly, the prolonged period of low inflation after the 2008 global financial crisis – when the Fed had great difficulty elevating the inflation rate to its 2% target – has had a lasting impression on central bankers’ psyches. The obvious danger now is that they could be fighting the last war. Moreover, even if they do not fall into that trap, structural changes within central banks and in the broader policymaking environment will leave central bankers more reluctant to raise interest rates than they were in the past.
To adapt to the pre-pandemic low-inflation environment, the Fed changed its inflation framework so that it would target average inflation over a (still-undefined) period. This meant that it could allow higher inflation for a while without being criticized for falling behind the curve – a potentially useful change at a time when elevating the public’s inflation expectations was thought to be the key problem. Gone was the old central-bank adage that if you are eyeball to eyeball with inflation, it is already too late. Instead, the Fed would stare at inflation for a while and act only when it was sure that inflation was here to stay.
Moreover, the new framework places a much greater emphasis on ensuring that employment gains are broad-based and inclusive. Because historically disadvantaged minorities in the US are often the last to be hired, this change implied that the Fed would potentially tolerate a tighter labor market than in the past, and that it would have more flexibility to run the economy hot, which is useful in an environment of weak demand. Yet now the Fed is facing an environment of strong demand coupled with supply-chain disruptions that look unlikely to abate quickly. Ironically, the Fed may have changed its policy framework just as the economic regime itself was changing.
But shouldn’t greater flexibility give decision-makers more options? Not necessarily. In the current scenario, Congress has just spent trillions of dollars generating the best economic recovery that money can buy. Imagine the congressional wrath that would follow if the Fed now tanked the economy by hiking interest rates without using the full flexibility of its new framework. Put differently, one of the benefits of a clear inflation-targeting framework is that the central bank has political cover to react quickly to rising inflation. With the changed framework, that is no longer true. As a result, there will almost surely be more inflation for longer; indeed, the new framework was adopted – during what now seems like a very different era – with precisely that outcome in mind.
But it is not just the new framework that limits the effectiveness of the Fed’s actions. Anticipating loose monetary-policy and financial conditions for the indefinite future, asset markets have been on a tear, supported by heavy borrowing. Market participants, rightly or wrongly, believe that the Fed has their back and will retreat from a path of rate increases if asset prices fall.
This means that when the Fed does decide to move, it may have to raise rates higher in order to normalize financial conditions, implying a higher risk of an adverse market reaction when market participants finally realize that the Fed means business. Once again, the downside risks of a path of rate hikes, both to the economy and to the Fed’s reputation, are considerable.
The original intent in making central banks independent of the government was to ensure that they could reliably combat inflation and not be pressured into either financing the government’s fiscal deficit directly or keeping government borrowing costs low by slowing the pace of rate hikes. Yet the Fed now holds $5.6 trillion of government debt, financed by an equal amount of overnight borrowing from commercial banks.
When rates move up, the Fed itself will have to start paying higher rates, reducing the dividend it pays the government and increasing the size of the fiscal deficit. Moreover, US debt is at around 125% of GDP, and a significant portion of it has a short-term maturity, which means that increases in interest rates will quickly start showing up in higher refinancing costs. An issue that the Fed did not have to pay much attention to in the past – the effects of rate hikes on the costs of financing government debt – will now be front and center.
Of course, all developed-country central banks, not just the Fed, face similar forces that push toward restraint on rate hikes. So, the first large central bank that moves may also cause its currency’s exchange rate to appreciate significantly, slowing economic growth. This is yet another reason to wait. Why not let someone else move first, and see if they invite market and political wrath?
If the post-2008 scenario repeats, or if China and other emerging markets transmit disinflationary impulses across the global economy, waiting will have been the right decision. Otherwise, the current impediments to central-bank action will mean more and sustained inflation, and a more prolonged fight to control it. Fed Chair Jerome Powell will have a lot to weigh as he begins his second term.
President Biden rewards a hostile China
By Matthew Continetti • The Washington Free Beacon
And you think your Zoom calls are important. On the evening of November 15, President Biden spoke over video for three and a half hours with China’s autocrat Xi Jinping. The “virtual summit” was held online because Xi hasn’t left China since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic two years ago. According to official readouts of the conversation, Biden and Xi talked to one another warmly. They covered a lot of ground—everything from ICBMs to global energy supplies. They took the first steps toward improved relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Global media amplified this official message. “The Biden-Xi Summit Was Actually Kind of a Big Deal,” read one headline in Slate.
Don’t believe it. Biden’s tête-à-tête with Xi Jinping was less constructive and more harmful than his in-person visit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in June. At least Biden got something, however insignificant, from that earlier encounter with authoritarianism. The United States and the Russian Federation issued a brief joint statement on nuclear “strategic stability.” They established a “Strategic Stability Dialogue” that would “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.” The dialogue began in September. Will it go anywhere? Probably not. But the mind-numbing diplomatic process has started. And it involves real people, meeting in real five-star hotels, in real European cities.
That’s not the case with China. The only thing Xi gave Biden was a pledge to make a pledge sometime in the future. The virtual summit was vaporware—the promise of a possible conversation that doesn’t yet exist and most likely never will. At a Brookings Institution event on November 16, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the two heads of state decided to “look to begin to carry forward discussion on strategic stability.” Try saying that diplomatic tongue-twister three times fast. It’s the equivalent of a contestant on The Bachelor gushing, “I think I’m maybe beginning to fall in love with you.” I translate Sullivan’s gobbledygook this way: Xi and Biden had a conversation about having a conversation about China’s rising stockpile of nuclear warheads and the threat it poses to global security and nonproliferation. Nothing more.
This doesn’t even rise to the level of negotiating for the sake of negotiating. It’s talking about having negotiations for the sake of … well, what exactly? Talking some more? Reminding Xi of all the good times he spent on the phone with Biden a decade ago? Apparently, at the outset of the discussion, Xi used a friendly idiom to describe the U.S. president. Whoop-de-do. Does that signal a meaningful change in China’s behavior on trade, the pandemic, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, North Korea, and Taiwan? Of course not.
On the contrary: The most powerful, ideological, and despotic ruler of China since Mao Zedong used this opportunity to remind the U.S. president that the only guarantee of good relations with the PRC is to get out of its way. Even more worrisome, Xi Jinping repeated his threats against Taiwan, but with a twist, saying, “We are patient and willing to do our utmost to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with the utmost sincerity, but if separatist forces provoke and force the issue, or even break through the red line, we will have to take decisive measures.” He also said the United States is playing with fire. And “whoever plays with fire will get burned.”
The Obama veterans who work for Joe Biden have trouble enforcing red lines. Xi Jinping does not. He used similar language in 2017, warning Hongkongers not to challenge the mainland’s sovereignty and Chinese Communist Party control. And, sure enough, when a protest movement emerged in Hong Kong in 2019, Xi crushed it.
Notice, too, how Xi blames Taiwan for cross-strait tensions even as his air force violates Taiwanese airspace with impunity. His message is that China’s policies will remain the same and that it is Biden’s responsibility to rein in Taiwan and to not provoke the mainland. Some “friend.”
Journalists close to the administration emphasize the personal exchanges between Biden and Xi rather than the content, or lack thereof, of the meeting itself. “Monday night’s discussion touched the bedrock of what matters most in the U.S.-China relationship,” wrote David Ignatius of the Washington Post, “and it was at least a beginning of something that could reduce the risk of a global catastrophe.” If Monday really was a beginning, it was not auspicious. Ignatius himself quotes Biden aides “who recalled that when the two men met at Sunnylands, Calif., in 2013, while Biden was vice president, the Chinese leader had raised the possibility of new measures for crisis prevention between the two countries. Little came of that opening.”
Less will come of this one. The vaporware summit was a return to an earlier model of Sino-American relations: the two nations play nice and pretend one isn’t at the other’s throat. It was also a reminder that, since the fall of Afghanistan, President Biden has spurned the China hawks for China doves. The Economist reports that in early September, as the administration reeled from its ignominious and self-inflicted defeat in Central Asia, Xi Jinping “was shockingly testy at the start of a telephone call with Mr. Biden.” Then in late September the United States assented to the swap of imprisoned Huawei executive Meng Wenzhou for two Canadian businessmen held hostage since 2018. On October 7, Jake Sullivan met with Chinese foreign secretary Yang Jiechi in Switzerland to find areas “where the United States and the PRC have an interest in working together.” And on November 10, the United States and China issued a joint declaration to fight climate change.
Words on a page. Another statement China will ignore. This summit was a gift to Xi as he consolidates rule ahead of next year’s winter Olympics in Beijing and his anticipated (and unprecedented) third term as China’s leader. Biden has done nothing to make China pay for its pandemic cover up. He hasn’t increased the defense budget in real terms. He hasn’t further restricted Chinese investment in the U.S. economy. “China’s leaders still want investment and technology from the West,” writes the Economist‘s correspondent, “but they think it is in decadent decline and are decoupling from Western norms and ideas.” America’s leader has done nothing to make them think otherwise.
By George Landrith • Newsmax
To many Americans, the widespread deployment of 5G technology means faster download speeds on their mobile device.
While that is absolutely one of the real benefits of 5G technology, it is a great deal more than that. In fact, the U.S. maintaining its high tech advantage in the 5G arena has national security implications.It also has widespread economic importance. It is also critically important that 5G technology be American, and not Chinese technology — not for reasons of national pride, but because national security matters.
For this reason, we need U.S. policymakers to remove unnecessary impediments to American innovation and deployment in the 5G arena. The truth is that China is hoping that our regulatory regimes will slow and impede American innovation and the speed of implementation of this new technology so that we leave the window open for China to dominate the world in 5G technology.One of the current impediments to 5G progress is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which despite having no actual evidence for vaguely stated concerns, nonetheless alleges that maybe 5G technology will interfere with altimeters in older helicopters and older small private planes. Without providing any specifics or data, the FAA is throwing up roadblocks.
I am confident that we all agree that if expanding 5G technology were going to mean planes falling out of the skies, we would all want to put the breaks on. But the FAA hasn’t provided any real transparency to its vague concerns or any significant specifics and there is zero evidence that 5G technology interferes with altimeters.But it’s not just that the FAA hasn’t provided any factual support. The truth is this issue has been heavily studied by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which regulates the usage of wireless spectrum to be sure it doesn’t create conflicts. Roughly 40 other countries have also studied this issue and they all agree that there is no harmful interference with 5G and altimeters.Why didn’t the FAA raise any concerns over American planes already flying to these countries?
On a practical level, around the globe there are a number of 5G cell towers. Some of them are near airfields and there has been no observed interference with altimeters.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has concluded: “[E]ven though 5G has already been deployed in several States around the world, we are not aware of any reported occurrence that relates to possible interference originating from 5G base stations.”While China may be able to give American consumers a better internet connection (as American technology would also clearly do), the communist country will not promote economic growth around the globe and certainly not in America. Moreover, because 5G technology will be more than just faster connection speeds, but will also be the “internet of things” and allow for our devices to communicate with each other (to the extent we authorize that), 5G technology will open up thousands of new businesses just as smartphones did.
The sharing economy — exemplified by Uber and Lyft and Airbnb — was made possible by smartphone technology.
In the same way, but probably multiplied by a factor of one thousand, 5G technology will become the foundation of thousands of amazing ideas that will make the lives of consumers more convenient. It will create millions of new jobs and greater opportunity for more and more people.
But if we hamstring our own industries and entrepreneurs, the totalitarian regime in China will gladly fill the void. And if China deploys 5G technology, privacy and security will take a huge hit.The Chinese regime has been gathering online data on Americans for decades. Dominating and defining the technology that will be built into your phone and later into household appliances will give the totalitarian regime unprecedented access to all of our private information — perhaps even how much milk we have in the refrigerator.
But the other problem would be a very serious national security issue. Can you imagine having 5G chips in military hardware that could give the totalitarian regime access to intelligence and even the ability to turn off the hardware?
Imagine our missile defense being turned off because we ceded 5G technology to China.
Experts and policymakers from all sides of the political spectrum agree that 5G technology does not pose risks to altimeters. So if the FAA has some secret information that it has yet to reveal, it should provide transparency and reveal precisely what its concerns are as well as the scientific and data basis for such concerns.
Otherwise, the FAA needs to work in good faith and allow America to continue to be the world’s high tech leader and innovator. Our national economic wellbeing and our national security hang in the balance.
“Patience: (noun): the ability to bear provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like; an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay” (Wikipedia).
By Larry Fedewa, Ph.D • DrLarryOnline
Here we are: The fate of the nation is at stake; we wait helplessly as events slowly develop, triggering a breathlessness in our chests, and the waiting goes on. And then along comes Thanksgiving, exhorting us to give thanks!
“For what?” we think – “for the biggest mess since the presidential election of 1824, when the House elected John Quincy Adams instead of the more popular Andrew Jackson. You gotta be kidding!!”
We feel totally dependent for outcomes on other people. 99% of the general population have not interviewed anyone who is making decisions for the Biden’s or the Congress or the Federal Reserve . We are totally dependent on others for news and views of what is going on in our nation, and we have no means of validating the truth of their claims.
So, with no other choice, we take another look at giving thanks. Surprisingly, there is a great deal of food for thought in that direction. First, we can give thanks for living in a country which seeks to decide fundamental disputes peacefully. We can also be thankful that there is in fact a chance for every citizen to express a choice for all the individuals who will exercise power over our lives, as well as to vote for that choice.
We can be thankful that the nation cares enough about protecting the right to have each citizen’s vote be counted to go through a harrowing trial such as last year’s election results.
There are other life experiences also which merit our gratitude. High on this list is the fact that the American culture we live in so values personal freedom that it is the hallmark of our political identity. Americans will tolerate intrusions on their personal liberty — as the COVID lockdowns have recently demonstrated – but only so far, as the “recovery” has also proven.
This is not a virtue won by anyone now living. but rather one which was formed and passed down to us by those who came before us. Our contribution is to adapt our freedom to contemporary conditions and to pass on an updated sense of our national treasure to those who come after us.
Yes, giving thanks is good for the soul (and the blood pressure!) Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
No pivot to the center for President Biden
By Matthew Continetti • The Washington Free Beacon
President Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain has a, shall we say, interesting take on last week’s election. The voters who chose Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia and who came close to unseating incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy as governor of New Jersey want Democrats to “do more,” Klain told MSNBC. “And that’s what we’re doing,” he continued, “again, starting next Monday, signing the infrastructure bill, working with the House to pass the Build Back Better plan, which will help bring down inflation, bring down the cost of living, bring down people’s expenses.”
Leave aside the highly questionable claim that the “Build Back Better” legislation under negotiation on Capitol Hill will reduce inflation. Focus instead on Klain’s idea that the message of the off-year election wasn’t for Democrats in Washington to slam the brakes, but to hit the gas pedal. Klain is paid to put the best possible spin on the Biden administration’s depressing combination of incompetence and aloofness. Yet even he must recognize that the president and the national Democratic Party have become too closely identified in the minds of voters with the progressive left and its lack of constructive solutions to inflation, crime, the border, and education. Rather than double down on his bid for a “transformational” presidency, Biden has a chance to narrow his focus, prioritize, and address the issues of most concern to the suburban independents who next year will decide the fate of the House and Senate. It’s an opportunity he’s not taking.
Allow me to introduce, for example, Saule Omarova, the Beth and Marc Goldberg professor at Cornell Law School and senior fellow at the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles. On the very day that voters across the country rejected the Democratic Party’s turn to the left, the White House officially nominated Professor Omarova to be comptroller of the currency. The comptroller is the nation’s chief banking regulator, supervising some 1,200 financial institutions of all shapes and sizes and, according to its website, “approximately 70 percent of banking activity in the country.” To hear the word comptroller is to picture a faceless bureaucrat, dutifully and routinely checking boxes to ensure the steady flow of capital in the economy. And yet President Biden wants to fill it with an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.
Omarova was born in Kazakhstan in 1966. She immigrated to America during her mid-20s. Senator Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), an early opponent of her nomination, has requested that she provide a copy of a thesis she wrote at Moscow State University, which she attended thanks to the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship. The thesis is titled “Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in Das Kapital.” Given the place (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and circumstances (Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika) in which Omarova attended college, it’s reasonable to conclude that she adopted a favorable, if maybe slightly qualified, attitude toward both Marx and revolution. Then again, we can’t really say. Omarova has kept the paper to herself.
Toomey’s interest in Omarova’s intellectual background has led a few of her supporters to accuse him of bigotry and xenophobia. The charge is ridiculous. Toomey isn’t worried about the professor’s ancestry or country of origin. He’s opposed to her ideas. What’s striking is that immigrants from the former Soviet Union and its satellites tend to be viscerally anti-communist and anti-socialist: Having lived under totalitarian regimes, they are especially attuned to infringements of personal and economic liberty and are mindful of human-rights abuses conducted in the name of “People’s Republics.”
Professor Omarova didn’t get the memo. “Say what you will about old USSR,” she tweeted on March 31, 2019, “there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn’t always ‘know best.'” Well, one can say a lot about “old USSR”—how it was a force for oppression and evil, for starters. To single out the fact that “there was no gender pay gap”—an assertion Omarova never backed up, probably because the pay gap is zero in the gulag—is to recall the old fellow-traveler line that Communist tyranny isn’t so bad because Cubans have “health care.”
When another Twitter user suggested Omarova might be out of her depth, she replied:
I never claimed women and men were treated absolutely equally in every facet of Soviet life. But people’s salaries were set (by the state) in a gender-blind manner. And all women got very generous maternity benefits. Both things are still a pipe dream in our society!
This is Joe Biden’s nominee for comptroller?
Toomey is not the only senator whose eyebrow is raised. Jon Tester of Montana, a Democrat, is also concerned. It’s not hard to see why. There is a connection between Omarova’s rosy view of the Soviet economy and her far-out plans for the United States.
Consider her 2020 paper, “The People’s Ledger: How to Democratize Money and Finance the Economy.” It offers, she says, “a blueprint for a comprehensive restructuring of the central bank balance sheet as the basis for redesigning the core architecture of modern finance.” She would like to subject the Federal Reserve, which these days has enough trouble keeping inflation in check, to a “series of structural reforms that would radically redefine the role of a central bank as the ultimate public platform for generating, modulating, and allocating financial resources in a democratic economy—the People’s Ledger.”
Like utopian socialists of old, Omarova “envisions the complete migration of demand deposit accounts to the Fed’s balance sheet.” She proposes a “comprehensive qualitative restructuring of the Fed’s investment portfolio, which would maximize its capacity to channel credit to productive uses in the nation’s economy.” Guess who gets to decide which uses are productive.
The result, Omarova concludes, would be a financial system that is “less complex” than it is today. Which I suppose is true, since a government monopoly is “less complex” than market competition. It also tends to be less efficient, less productive, less innovative, and less accountable to consumer demand. But hey—maternity benefits!
Anyone not immersed in and comfortable with the recondite buzzwords of the legal academy and radical left might read “The People’s Ledger” in mounting confusion and alarm as Omarova proclaims the virtues of wage and price controls, politicized credit, and expert control and planning of the commanding heights. It doesn’t take long for the paper to get into “the seas will be made of lemonade” territory, portraying for an economy of 330 million people integrated in a global economy of 8 billion a grandiose and completely unworkable “system” that is so rationalist and reductive it only could exist in the mind of an intellectual.
Since January, America has slowly awakened to the reality that it elected Joe Biden president only to be governed by Elizabeth Warren. As voters watched academic fashions spread destruction in classrooms, on the border, and in cities, they turned against the president and Democrats in general. Isn’t it in President Biden’s political interest—much less the country’s—to pull Saule Omarova’s nomination and recommend someone else, someone boring, for the job? And if the White House persists in its support for the good professor, can’t we agree that its tone-deafness and general wackiness has put it on a direct course for an electoral shellacking? In America, thank God, Omarova doesn’t rule. The people do.
Glenn Youngkin's victory and the Republican future
By Matthew Continetti • The Washington Free Beacon
Consensus forms quickly. Within hours of winning the Virginia governor’s race, Glenn Youngkin was identified as a model for GOP candidates. The argument ran as follows: The former businessman and political newbie figured out how to hold Donald Trump’s hand—as one Republican senator put it, under the table and in the dark—and still win big in a blue state. He ran on kitchen-table issues: rising prices, schools, crime. He tailored his message to his locality and avoided national debates. None of his television advertisements featured President Biden and none mentioned illegal immigration. He defined himself as a basketball-playing, dog-loving dad from the suburbs before his opponent was able to portray him as Trump in fleece. He built coalitions with parents, veterans, and minority groups. Republicans who follow his path might enjoy similar success in 2022 and beyond.
In truth, Youngkin might not be as replicable as he appears. The reason is candidate quality. For a political rookie, Youngkin has mad skills. He has a preternatural ability to stay on message. He is positive and optimistic without coming across as treacly or sentimental. I have yet to see him frown. He has what Reagan adviser John Sears called “negative ability”—the power to deflect, repel, and ignore personal attacks. Nothing seems to get under his skin. Politicians who have this quality drive the opposition nuts. You could sense the Democrats’ frustration when Biden told a Virginia audience that extremism can come “in a smile and a fleece vest.” Maybe that’s right, but the average Virginian doesn’t look at Glenn Youngkin and see a neo-Nazi or a Proud Boy. The average Virginian sees an approachable and energetic father of four with commonsensical plans to improve the quality of life in his home state. That’s the type of profile any candidate, Republican or Democrat, ought to aim for. But it’s easier said than done.
Both his opponent and the national environment helped Youngkin. Terry McAuliffe learned how difficult it is to win nonconsecutive terms—something that may be of interest to the ruler of Mar-a-Lago. And McAuliffe clearly believed that demographics are destiny and that Virginia was irrevocably blue. He ran on airy evocations of a pleasant past and fiery denunciations of Youngkin as a Trump-like threat to institutional stability and social peace. McAuliffe’s inability to find a galvanizing issue led him to run an idea-free campaign based on mobilizing Democratic interest groups. His accusations of racism and nuttery turned out many Democrats to the polls. Just not enough to win.
The general deterioration of Biden’s presidency hurt McAuliffe. The inflation, incompetence, and cultural radicalism dragging down Biden’s job approval rating are taking other Democrats with him. The red shift in Virginia, New Jersey, and elsewhere on election night hints at bad things to come for the incumbent party. Republican leader Kevin McCarthy speculates that another 2010, when the GOP picked up 63 House seats, may be in the making. For that to happen, McCarthy has to find plenty of candidates who aspire to be Glenn Youngkin, match them against clueless incumbents, and pray that Biden’s approval rating next November is the same as or lower than it is today. This is a possible scenario, and perhaps even the most likely one. But this is also the Republican Party we are talking about. Things can always end in disaster.
It’s less as a candidate than as a governor that Youngkin can be a model for the Republican Party. He’s been given the opportunity to govern, and to govern well. His coattails brought in a Republican lieutenant governor, a Republican state attorney general, and a Republican House of Delegates. The Democrats control the state senate by two seats—but this narrow margin is pliable and open to compromise. Youngkin is in a unique position. He’s the first high-profile Republican chief executive elected in the Biden era. He has the chance to demonstrate that Republicans can address parental revolt, public safety, and economic insecurity in responsible and effective ways. He has the chance to define that agenda in the coming year, and even to broaden it, so that Republicans in 2022 have an example to point to and a lodestar to follow.
This agenda starts with education. Parents became the centerpiece of Youngkin’s campaign, the lynchpin of his victory, after McAuliffe’s career-ending gaffe of September 28, when the former governor said that parents shouldn’t be telling teachers what to teach. In a post-election interview with Hugh Hewitt, Youngkin mentioned charter schools, high curricular standards, and more spending on teachers and on special education. On the trail he pledged to ban “Critical Race Theory,” or “CRT,” from public school instruction—though he has to find a way to do so without revising or omitting the history of slavery, segregation, and the civil rights movement. My American Enterprise Institute colleagues Brad Wilcox and Max Eden suggest that Youngkin promote “academic transparency” by requiring parental review and opt-in for hot-button curricula, prioritize educational savings accounts, and align school-board elections with the national political cycle.
Youngkin also has said that he will place public safety officers in schools. This initiative should become the basis for a more wide-ranging effort to bolster state and local police forces, with an eye toward community policing and the reassuring presence of cops on the beat. Youngkin’s “game plan” includes firing the state parole board to discourage early release of violent offenders. He wants to reform the state mental health system. He might also want to combat drug trafficking and opioid abuse—with the understanding that it is better to do several things well than many things poorly.
As Henry Olsen observed in October, Youngkin’s economic agenda fits well with the emerging Republican coalition of non-college-educated voters. Rather than cut marginal tax rates, Youngkin would double the state standard deduction, eliminate the grocery tax, and suspend the gas tax, easing the burden on lower- and middle-income taxpayers suffering from a rising cost of living. He says he’d like to encourage innovation and job creation throughout the state. One way might be to take the lead in “strategic decoupling” from China and incentivize manufacturers of critically important goods to reshore facilities in the commonwealth. Over a decade ago, I accompanied then-senator George Allen (R.) on a tour of a Virginia-based semiconductor plant. Let’s make room for more of them.
The danger for the governor-elect is that he will entangle himself in national debates over vaccine and mask mandates. I expect the next state attorney general to join the legal challenges to President Biden’s vaccine mandate on private-sector employers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the incoming state government attempts to end public school masking requirements. In general, however, Youngkin ought to be wary of intruding on local control and private-sector decision-making, even if it might win him fans among certain parts of the right. It ought to be remembered that Youngkin’s populism was actually popular and commonsensical—unlike some of the anti-elitism and suspicion of expert opinion that one encounters in politics these days.
It would be a missed opportunity if the governor-elect frittered away his resounding victory on cultural squabbles that generate headlines and score likes but do not improve life for Virginians in the real, not virtual, world. Still, I have a feeling—maybe it’s just a hope—that Youngkin will be a serious governor in demanding times who shows his fellow Republicans not just how to win, but how to govern. All with a smile and a fleece.
By Peter Roff • The Greeneville Sun
It’s time to be honest. Despite all the scientific chatter, nobody yet has a handle on the COVID-19 crisis. No one can pinpoint for certain where or how it started. No one knows when it will end.
The possibility COVID may be with us for some time (despite predictions by Dr. Anthony Fauci and others that we can expect positive news sometime in 2023) is real. By then, if Fauci and others are right, we’ll have learned to live with it, managing the inevitable outbreaks similar to how we handle the flu. That, however, will require planning, making changes to the health care device and pharmaceutical approval process, and a reliance on technology.
Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration’s initiative to cut federal red tape and get the pharmaceutical industry to work finding a coronavirus vaccine, was a game-changer. It gave every American hope that a solution was on the horizon. The vaccines it produced have largely been effective, however, there’s still uncertainty about their efficacy long-term.
The current thinking is that at least one booster shot will be needed. The emergence of the Delta variant has been a setback, triggering calls for mandates including masks, vaccines and special travel passports. Uncertainty lingers, making it incumbent on leaders in the political, scientific, and media arenas to stay focused on innovative ways to address Americans’ concerns.
The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization both say now that COVID is transmitted through tiny droplets and aerosols spread through indoor spaces. Fighting that means thinking differently. To accomplish this, we should rely on private industry initiatives to develop ways to eliminate airborne pathogens and limit the possibility of surface transmissions. When one comes along, we should talk about it and celebrate it because, like the vaccines produced through Operation Warp Speed, it provides hope as well as an added layer of protection.
One technology showing great promise is an air purification system known as ActivePure, originally developed by NASA. The technology seeks out pathogens through a process known as advanced photocatalysis, which sends out submicroscopic particles in real time to deactivate pathogens, including COVID-19 and other viruses.
ActivePure’s proactive air defense system is already being used in high-risk indoor environments including the Cleveland Clinic, The Texas State Capitol, and Philadelphia’s public schools. Additionally, groups like ThermoFisher Scientific are in the process of rolling out new aerosol sensor monitoring technology, potentially allowing hospitals, nursing homes, and schools to track for the presence of the virus, providing critical knowledge to inform mitigation strategies.
Innovators are hard at work creating solutions for retailers as well. Intel’s RealSense TCS is a touchless control software that converts kiosks into touchless interfaces without radically modifying the intuitive user experience. These changes are helping get brick and mortar establishments back in business safely.
No one can predict the future. America’s leadership in the health sciences is a vital part of the process of exploration that will produce novel approaches to block the spread of the pathogens leading to outbreaks of COVID-19 and other viruses.
The lockdowns throughout 2020 did not work as intended – and severely hurt a booming economy. A different strategy is required for the next outbreak. This will require the government to expedite the regulatory approval process in key areas, and partner with forward-thinking start-ups, while embracing new innovations to prepare for the next national health emergency.
By Peter Roff • Newsweek
A lot is going on in Washington right now that’s of momentous import, but the nation’s capital is not the only place making news. In California last week, legendary comedian Mort Sahl shuffled off his mortal coil at the age of 94.
Largely forgotten now, in the age of Eisenhower, Sahl was to political humor what “Saturday Night Live” has now been for several decades. Standing on stage, hip and cool, in a sweater and clutching a newspaper, he’d riff on current events in ways no one before him had managed to do. He was a giant of American humor and he changed stand-up for all time.
His passing is relevant today because he was, in his own way, the target of the cancel culture of his day. He came at things on a slant, undermining the conventional mores that contributed so much to the blandness of the 1950s. Sahl shook up the establishment. Not, perhaps, as much as Lenny Bruce and others would later do, but enough that his act clearly presaged the national shift toward youth and vigor represented by the Kennedys and Camelot.
Back in those days, the entertainment establishment was largely conservative. Network executives concerned about offending the heartland shied away from anything edgy. Their concerns allowed the McCarthy-inspired blacklisting of television and motion picture performers to briefly flourish. It was a sad time that shouldn’t have been forgotten.
It appears it has. Look no further than the vitriol directed at Dave Chappelle and Netflix over his latest special because he poked fun at some transgender shibboleths. It has led to calls for Chappelle to apologize, to be censored and to even be excommunicated from the business—and for Netflix to apologize.
Chappelle hasn’t caved and refuses to grovel. More power to him. Humor is very much a part of our humanity. There’s nothing out there we should be afraid to joke about—even things some people find grossly offensive. It’s part of who we are and it helps our common American civilization evolve.
The culture of political correctness is killing comedy. That’s a bad thing, and not just because it goes against the free speech culture that has contributed so much to making America an exceptional place. It also places limits on how we can talk about ourselves, our similarities and our differences. Putting restrictions on comedy impedes cultural change.
With that in mind, consider another instance in which cancel culture prevailed. In the late 1960s, the two-man comedy folk act The Smothers Brothers got a variety show on CBS. Aside from its stars, Tommy and Dick Smothers, its production team included people who made American humor what it is today. The Smothers may have still been brothers without the support of performers and writers like Steve Martin, David Steinberg, Rob Reiner, Bob Einstein, Lorenzo Music, Carl Gottlieb, Stan Burns and others, but they wouldn’t have had a hit show.
The “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” was edgy without being offensive. It addressed tough issues like the Vietnam War, the developing drug culture, the increasing demands for female equality, the role of the police in society and the emergence of youth with wit, charm and creativity.
The public loved it but, as students of American humor know, both the Johnson and Nixon White Houses took much of what they did on-air as a personal affront. Bowing to political pressure, as David Bianculli brilliantly recounted in his book Dangerously Funny, the network began to put restrictions on the brothers that made it hard for them to do the show they wanted to do.
Eventually, the cancellers won and “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” was canceled. The brothers sued CBS and won, but the damage was already done. There was no turning back, even though the network gave them another show many years later. What people miss is that while canceling the show did not make the brothers any less funny, it did make the rest of us a little more sour.
Every year but one since 1998, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has given out the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to someone who has “had an impact on American society in ways similar to” Mark Twain. It’s been given to Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Steve Martin, the aforementioned Dave Chappelle, Neil Simon, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels and others who’ve made the nation live while also making it think.
It would strike a much-needed blow against cancel culture if the next award were to be given to Tom and Dick Smothers—not just because they made us laugh, but because they stood up in defense of the integrity of comedy and the way it acts as a mirror of society. If there’s anything more Twain-like than that, I can’t think of it.
By Peter Roff • Citizen Tribune
President Joe Biden’s plan to build America back better is much more costly than most everyone anticipated. The budget reconciliation bill currently stuck in the House is perhaps the most expensive single piece of legislation in history. Even a few members of his own party are uncomfortable voting for it.
According to some estimates, the new taxes, spending, and borrowing involved total out at about $10 trillion over 10 years. At one-half U.S. annual GDP pre-COVID, that’s not chump change. Biden says not to worry because it’s paid for, something only someone who’d spent 50 years in Washington could say with a straight face. He’s unfamiliar with how the private economy functions. The higher corporate taxes he touts, for example, are considered a cost of doing business that is mostly passed along to the consumer.
It’s not his fault he doesn’t get it. He’s spent almost his entire adult life in politics. Any wealth he’s amassed comes from belonging to “the aristocracy of pull,” not business acumen. The people around him, however, know better.
Raising taxes on personal incomes over $400,000 a year, raising the corporate tax rate, and establishing a global corporate minimum tax won’t raise the revenue needed to cover the cost of the plan Biden is trying to sell to the American people, not to mention holdouts in his own party like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. The big spenders know other sources of revenue will need to be tapped, if not now then later. That makes anything not taxed currently fair game, which puts changes in the private individual retirement account system on the table.
Most IRAs are treated favorably in the tax code. Either the funds are taxed when they are invested and withdrawals are made tax-free or investments are tax-free and, after the accounts have increased in value over time because of the magic of compound interest, the funds are taxed when they’re drawn down. Changing that will have downstream impacts especially harmful to investors in the middle-class.
It won’t punish the rich. It will hit the new investor class, especially the millennials entering the workforce, hard. What’s on the table limits investment options while subjecting the income they set aside for retirement to retroactive taxation. “It’s like a fisherman’s net,” IRA expert Ed Slott said. “The net picks up a lot of small fish that are unintended targets.”
This proposal to eliminate Roth 401K Conversions for IRAs and employer-sponsored plans for single filers making $400,000 or more and joint filers making $450,000 or more is bad policy and bad politics. What the Bidenites are proposing would be devastating to retirement incomes and should be anathema to senators from states with large retirement populations like Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto. These ideas and the proposed ban on the conversion of after-tax contributions to Roth account regardless of income would likely wreck the retirement plans of millions of average Americans.
Moreover, the ideas are absurd from a revenue perspective. According to early estimates, the changes under consideration would only raise $4 billion over the next 10 years. That’s not even a drop in the bucket of what’s needed to pay for the Biden plan. Does that mean future changes that are even more radical? Probably. Once we’re down that road it will be hard to stop even if it hurts Baby Boomers and Millennials alike.
Attempting to limit the amount people can put into Roth IRAs will reduce the national savings rate, complicate retirement planning for millions of Americans, and constitute another broken promise by the politicians in Washington. Some folks have indeed used these accounts as a tax dodge, setting up as many as they need to reduce their annual tax burden, but you don’t use a howitzer to kill a housefly.
For most Americans, IRAs are a pathway to a comfortable, secure, perhaps even prosperous retirement. The proposals currently under consideration to eliminate the Mega Roth and other independent retirement account options are an attack on the middle class that Congress should reject.
If it doesn’t, the voters will remember.