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The Ingrates of Vienna

The Biden administration’s desperate quest for an Iran Deal projects weakness

By Matthew Continetti • The Washington Free Beacon

President Joe Biden / Getty Images

Justice Dept. Charges Iranian in Plot to Kill John Bolton

New York Times, August 10, 2022

Salman Rushdie is attacked onstage in Western New York

New York Times, August 12, 2022

After 16 Months, Some Glimmers of Optimism About Iran Nuclear Deal

New York Times, August 16, 2022

This is where you’d put a confused face emoji.

Why? Because one of the above headlines is unlike the others. The first two stories reveal the nature of the Iranian regime—a gang of criminal theocrats that since 1979 has spread chaos and murder throughout the world. The third headline reveals the gullibility of Western politicians and diplomats who, despite never-ending reminders of the Islamic Republic’s aims and capacities, persist in trying to appease it.

Negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal have been taking place in Vienna since April 2021. They have gone nowhere. Yet the Biden administration insists on playing a starring role in this diplomatic farce. Nothing that happens in the outside world penetrates the bubble where the diplomats reside.

Some history:

 Iran refused to speak to the United States directly. We obliged. The talks are indirect—a sign of American weakness.

 Ali Khamenei ensured that his potential successor, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric sanctioned by the United States, was “elected” president last summer. Not only did we continue negotiations. We are also now debating whether to provide Raisi an entry visa so he can spout regime propaganda at the U.N. General Assembly next month.

 America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, one year old this week, seriously undermined our credibility and our security. It weakened our influence in the Greater Middle East. Yet Biden didn’t change his foreign policy. He doubled down on his Iran gambit.

 Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February was a hinge of history—a moment when, we have been told, “everything” changed. Everything but the Iran negotiations. Russia, despite its outlaw status on the international stage, continues to serve as Iran’s intermediary. Maybe we should take the hint?

All this happened in the months before the Bolton assassination plot and the attack on Rushdie. And those violations of U.S. sovereignty and rule of law are related to Iranian malfeasance. The Justice Department charged a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for attempting to hire a hit man who would target the former U.S. national security adviser. Rushdie’s assailant may have been in contact with the IRGC, as well, and was unquestionably inspired by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s first Supreme Ruler, Ayatollah Khomenei, who called for the British-American novelist’s death in 1989.

And what, you ask, does Iran continue to demand of the United States as a condition for reentry into the nuclear deal? In a piece for CNBC headlined, “A renewed Iran nuclear deal appears closer than ever. Here are the final sticking points,” Natasha Turak writes, “Iran wants the Biden administration to remove its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its [i.e., America’s] designated terrorist list, which so far Washington seems unwilling to do.”

Imagine that.

Biden would be committing political seppuku if he removes the IRGC from the terror list. Even he can see the danger there. He’d be handing the beleaguered Republicans an issue in the final months before the midterms. It has the potential to taint media coverage of his supposed diplomatic triumph.

The IRGC “sticking point” is politically troubling. Another sticking point is impossible. Iran wants the United States to guarantee that future presidents will abide by the deal. However, the only constitutional way to do this would be to submit the nuclear agreement to the Senate for treaty confirmation. Of course, Biden can’t do that, because the treaty would fail. Leaving Biden at an impasse.

One he refuses to acknowledge. Perhaps the Biden team is now so full of themselves after a string of legislative victories at home that they are ready to make additional concessions to get what they mistakenly believe will be a victory abroad. The press will love this narrative, of Biden going from strength to strength and win to win, no matter the costs to U.S. security and stability in the Persian Gulf and Shiite Crescent.

Another scenario is that, while neither Iran nor America agrees to this latest proposal, the talks continue intermittently because they serve each party’s goals. Iran is using this time to build its nuclear infrastructure. America doesn’t want to face the hard choices that follow from a recognition that diplomacy has failed.

That is why all peace processes or arms control negotiations continue despite the evidence that they achieve nothing. The process itself becomes an end for the West. Meanwhile, the process serves as cover for the West’s enemies.

“We have a miserable, bipartisan track record of not responding to Iranian aggression and terrorism,” Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies observed the other day. Biden has an opportunity to correct the record by demonstrating American strength in response to Iranian outrages. It’s an opportunity he won’t take.


Centers for Disease Control Head Calls for Overhaul Following COVID Mistakes

By Peter Roff • American Liberty

United States Department of Health & Human Services, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control admitted Wednesday that her agency’s problems, magnified during its mishandling of the COVID pandemic, can only be remediated by what she called an ‘ambitious’ overhaul.- Sponsored –

Dr. Gail Walensky, former professor at Harvard Medical School and the one-time chief of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital said Wednesday that missteps during the most recent pandemic and the slow response to the spread of the disease known as “Monkeypox” have persuaded her significant changes are necessary.

CDC critics have long argued its COVID recommendations were often useless or counterproductive to stopping the virus from spreading. Sometimes both. One oft-cited example is its development of a test to detect the disease that failed to work after it was made available, potentially providing an inaccurate picture of the novel coronavirus’s spread.

The agency’s new focus, she wrote in an agency-wide email, would be on becoming “more nimble and responsive to needs that arise in health emergencies,” Statnews.com reported, while making it a priority to gather data “that can be used to rapidly dispense public health guidance, rather than craft scientific papers.”

Yet it is the issuance of exactly that kind of public health guidance, agency critics say, that led to confusion during the COVID pandemic, potentially making the situation worse by creating a false sense of security that left people feeling they were protecting themselves by utilizing measures that were ineffective in stopping the spread or preventing exposure to the virus. One of those, the social distancing guideline setting out the need for people to remain at least six feet apart from one another is now known to have been issued based on no scientific testing whatsoever. It was, people now feel comfortable acknowledging, a made-up number that did not come from, as it was popular to say at the time, “following the science.”

In her email, Walensky told the agency’s 11,000 employees, “For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for Covid-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations.” Her new goal, she wrote, is to create “a new, public health action-oriented culture at CDC that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication, and timeliness.”

She has a long way to go. Jason Schwartz, a health policy researcher at the Yale School of Public Health told CBS News “We saw during COVID that CDC’s structures, frankly, weren’t designed to take in information, digest it and disseminate it to the public at the speed necessary.”

What the agency did do was assist in the politicization of the disease, confuse the public, and fight all efforts to be held accountable for its mistakes on Capitol Hill. Writing in the Washington Examiner, Zachary Faria – who acknowledged Walensky was not at the CDC when the pandemic began – nonetheless added to the confusion by misstating the president’s intentions regarding vaccine mandates.

“She confused the public repeatedly, saying that President Joe Biden was considering a vaccination mandate before backtracking to say that there ‘Will be no federal mandate.’ Not even two months later, Biden did indeed put a vaccine mandate in place,” Faria wrote.

The CDC director also helped inflame the public’s anxiety by appearing at congressional hearings wearing two masks despite having received several doses of the vaccine. Such displays of caution on her part conflicted with the messages public health experts were sending to the American people who, seeing things with their own eyes, saw that even they were not sure what they were telling everyone was correct.

“Worst of all was how Walensky and the CDC justified restrictions on children, who have never been at serious risk from COVID,” Faria wrote, explaining her repeated change in position about social distancing in schools and the need to vaccinate teachers and students helped keep schools closed for an unacceptable period.

“If your culture is not aligned entirely with what your mission is, it doesn’t matter how good the strategy is. It doesn’t matter what your org charts are. It is all about the workforce culture,” Jay Varma, who spent 20 years at CDC before becoming director of the Cornell Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response at Weill Cornell Medicine told Statnews.com.

“It’s an agency run by geeks. It’s run by doctors and Ph.D.’s,” Varma said. “What are doctors and scientists notoriously bad at? Managing. They’re really good at hypothesis-driven research and analyzing information and making predictions about what might happen. What they’re really bad at is managing people in an effective way.”

Walensky will need time to make the changes – but it is time the country may now have. The CDC has been slow to respond to the emergence of Monkeypox, an infectious viral disease occurring in humans and other animals marked by fever, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that forms blisters that eventually crust over. The fact that is spreading disproportionately “among men who have sex with men and their sexual networks,” as CNN recently put it, has heightened concerns that political sensitivities are being allowed to interfere with the steps needed to prevent it from spreading into the at-large population.

“Not wanting to reproduce the kind of anti-gay stigma seen during the early AIDS crisis, some argue that articulating which group is at highest risk for monkeypox infection might be dangerous,” CNN said, probably unaware that this was an almost exact description of how the CDC and other public health agencies failed in their reaction to COVID even before it reached the pandemic level.

Against the advice of many who suggested the primary objective should be the isolation of those at high risk for fatal outcomes following exposure to COVID, the CDC and others attempted to isolate and immunize the nation. This led to economic and social lockdowns from which it will take years, perhaps decades before America can recover. It can be said the CDC’s bad advice, politicization and lack of readiness cost the nation hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

For nearly two years the CDC and other public health agencies and administrators made pronouncements that infected the American way of life at every level, often without debate or examination. Efforts to call their dictates into question were ridiculed, even suppressed, at great cost to the nation. It’s helpful that Walensky wants to reform her agency, but the best reforms come only after we know what happened to cause the problems.

Somehow, Walensky and other public health policymakers want to skip over that critical phase. No one wants to acknowledge their mistakes in public, especially if people died because of them. Nonetheless, they should not be allowed to hide behind the banner of reform now without being held accountable. America deserves an explanation, post-COVID, of how things were allowed to get as bad as they did. Not just an explanation of where the disease came from and whether it was produced in some far-off biological research facility and somehow got away but why the response to the infection was met with so much inconsistent advice coming from the government agencies employing the well-paid, well-funded experts who were supposed to know it all.

They didn’t, and we deserve to know why.


Putin The Delusional Russian

By Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi • Frontiers of Freedom

Having lost his Soviet-era KGB job in East Germany,  the unemployed former lieutenant colonel embarked on a political career in his hometown of St. Petersburg.  Moved to Moscow by his political godfather Anatoly Sobchak and subsequently named acting president on December 31, 1999 by Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin first ascended to the presidency of the Russian Federation on May 7, 2000.  Initially, applying the time tested fallacious formula of his predecessors, he presented himself to the gullible American and European leaders as a young as well as a westernized politician whose only dream is to transform his country into a genuine democratic state.  After having secured the economic and financial benefits of this historic Russian hoax from the West, he told his compatriots in his annual state of the nation address in April 2005:  “…the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the (20th) century.”  However, not being satisfied with this short declaration, he continued thus:  “As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy.  Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.” 

To up the ante of his fabricated historical doctrine of Russian victimhood, Putin gave a speech on February 10, 2007, at the Munich Security Conference, in which, for the first time, he sharply criticized the United States of America’s global dominance and it’s “almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations.”  This resurrection of the Cold War animosity proved that the centuries-old Russian inferiority complex remained politically as alive as the Tsarist-Communist attempts at bringing Russia closer to an Asiatic tyranny.  The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty also went out of the window.  In 2008, he invaded Georgia and took away Abkhazia and South-Ossetia.  In 2014, he annexed Crimea and occupied the Donbas region.  Simultaneously, Putin has embarked on methodically rebuilding the Russian military, including its nuclear modernization.  Domestically, he has become a tyrant with unlimited powers.  The legislature has turned into an automatic voting machine.  The judiciary has been totally subordinated to his political objectives.  The media has been brought under his absolute control.  The economy was reprivatized by his own oligarchs.  The stage was set for the reign of uncontrolled tyranny with the wholesale expulsion of reason from politics, the economy and Putin’s ability to resolve inherent conflicts rooted in the past as well as the present inside Russia and beyond.  These seeds of future collapse of Putin’s tyrannical regime have been strengthened by the illegal invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Almost all of the tragic catastrophes of history owe their birth to the deluded minds of tyrants with a destructive penchant for the establishment of made-up realities.  President Putin is no exception.  First, desiring to recreate the non-existent glory of the Tsarist as well as the Soviet empires, he has constructed a completely false reality.  Accordingly, claiming that the 10th century Kyivan Rus is the real foundation of today’s Russia, he commissioned a statue of the first Kyivan prince Volodymyr in 2016, a clear sign of the pathological denial of the actual embrace of Christianity in the 10th century.  A second mentally sick political fiction was his definition of the illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, terming the forced return of the peninsula “the revival of the Russian world” (in Russian: Russkiy Mir).  Moreover, knowing that there are sufficient number of gullible Russians and even uneducated idiots within the Russian Federation, he reverted to the well-tested Russian ethno-racism branding the elected leaders of Ukraine neo-Nazis and even traitors to their country.  Finally, having unleashed the greatest war since 1945 in Europe, he characterized the illegal invasion as a “special military operation” (in Russian: O provedenii specialnoy voennoy operacii).  Having reduced his illegal war to a linguistic phenomenon, he successfully  demonstrated his hatred for peace, stability and cooperation with the rest of the world.  More importantly, he also showed his uncompromising longing for the re-Stalinization of Russia under his absolute authority.  

Expectedly, President Putin’s psychopathic idiocy initially was met with the equally idiotic Western response of blaming themselves for the unsuccessful integration of the Russian Federation into the new world order.  This internationalization of “political correctness,” has only emboldened President Putin to prove the total failure of Western appeasement toward his outsized ambitions.  Predictably, regional violence and attempted global criminality on the part of the Russian Federation have increased as well as multiplied.  Russians in general and Russian soldiers in particular have been told that they are exceptional and, therefore, so much better than everybody else.  Adding insult to injury, they have also been inculcated with the belief that they should show no empathy to the non-Russians, because they are inherently good and their terrorism is only triggered by their non- Russian enemies. 

To fully grasp President Putin’s delusional psychopathy for bringing about a new era of Russian domination, it is sufficient to look at his conduct of the war with Ukraine.  What started out as a military Blitzkrieg has turned into a genocidal all-out annihilation of the sovereign state of Ukraine and its people.  By now, however, it is becoming crystal clear that this delusional man has committed a catastrophic blunder.  Russian colonialism is not coming to Ukraine or elsewhere.  What will visit the Russian Federation is the inevitable collapse of President Putin’s tyrannical regime.  

In conclusion, Russians must not ask the question:  “Who did this catastrophe to us?”  Rather they should ask:  “What have we been doing wrong to always end up in hopeless misery?”  The answer should be unequivocal:  Russia must become a normal country and not the prey of psychopathic leaders or unconscionable gamblers.


America’s Resurrected Soviet Commissariat

By Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi • Frontiers of Freedom

Aristocles, son of Ariston of Colytus, better known as Plato, speaking through his master Socrates in the Republic (Book 1, 346-347) averred that those Athenians who refuse to serve their fellow citizens in government shall necessarily be ruled by savage morons, “idios” in ancient Greek, who would seize power exclusively for personal aggrandizement:  “But the chief penalty is to be governed by someone worse if a man will not himself hold office and rule.”    

To prove the ancient Greek philosophers’ wisdom, history has repeatedly taught mankind that uneducated and un-or-misinformed voters as a rule elect like-minded representatives for political offices.  Indeed, the universal dumbing down of American society and its political realm has resulted in a dangerous decline in cultured intelligence as well as informed objectivity.  This coup against common sense has commenced in full force after the election of Barack Hussein Obama to the presidency in 2008, and has become conspicuously destructive following his reelection in 2012.  Initially praised as a “non-ideological pragmatist” by his gullible worshipers, the former president vaingloriously declared a clean break with America’s past by calling for “fundamental transformation” in its culture.  His strategy of globalizing  “America’s culture problem” was rooted in his troubled upbringing between two races and two religions rather than in his discombobulated beliefs.  Mindless multiculturalism, adulation of uncontrolled migration and the canard of white supremacy have replaced assimilation, respect for the rule of law and the notion of color blindness.  Whites have been stamped  inherently racist.  Adding insult to injury, the crusade for a world without alleged white supremacy has been justified by the call for complete oppression of all white Americans as well as the segregation of the races across the United States of America. Therefore, the constitutional credo of ubiquitous human liberty turned by the former president into a nightmare and his “fundamental transformation” doctrine became a rallying cry for tyrannical racial revolution.  Consequently, his political hermeneutics led to a sharp and irreconcilable division between those who accepted his biased conclusions and to their total rejection by the majority of Americans.  

Following the resounding electoral defeat of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Donald J. Trump in 2016, the Obama-inspired enmity between the Black community and the majority of the American people has poisoned politics, the media, education, the rule of law, the economy, by giving birth to growing segregation along racial lines within the entire society.  These processes, in turn, have resulted in separating all the problems and challenges into tiny and seemingly unconnected elements that have contributed to the already rising destructive stupefaction.

A wide assortment of Black organizations, such as NAACP, Black Lives Matter, Antifa and numerous other African-American organizations and movements have preached that Whites could never be good persons even when they adopt Black customs, because then they would be guilty of cultural appropriation.  Thus, according to these organizations, cultural conversion is not an option – total racial segregation is.  According to them, the word and the world of “White” connotes eternal oppression of the Black race that has deprived the latter from sovereignty and freedom.  According to this devious logic, calls for the establishment of Black power and the subjugation of everything that in reality must be the perversion of democracy into racial tyranny, are the solutions.  It is worth noting that this aberration of the principle of equality does not require any living “White” to be true.  Birth racism, the urge to oppress, the desire to ruthless rule, materialistic greed, in short, “Whiteness” would all become exclusive traits in Black political thought that produce the mythological idea of White racism, regardless of its reality or falsehood.  

The disgraceful tempest of persecutions of former President Trump has only reinforced to creeping spiritual terrorism of a small vindictive minority.  This minority has clearly been guilty of countless attempts to fundamentally transform the United States of America and the world through incoherent as well as irrational ideas into a cemetery of lies and Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist hypocrisies.  Yet, the more they claim to be on the edge of such a destructive transformation, the greater their violence toward all those who resist them.  Indeed, their quest for perfection has proved to be bloodier by the day.      

Meanwhile, outside the United States of America, the Russian and the Chinese Presidents Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Xi Jinping respectively, have proclaimed the end of the “20th century world order” and have promised the dawn of a new international regime, in which “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” as well as the Russian Federation’s antediluvian Tsarist tyranny would create a new ethno-racist hegemony.  The invasion of Ukraine and the impending attack on the Democratic Republic of China are the opening acts toward a possible global destruction of the whole world.  This vicious circle of tyrannical aggression is being exacerbated by the Sino-Russo embrace of North Korea in Asia and Iran respecting the greater Middle East.  Moreover, this multifaceted strategy of forcing NATO and its preeminent power the United States of America to simultaneously fight a three dimensional war, is designed to bleed the West dry of its resources.

Clearly, the United States of America’s self-generated crisis is by no means exclusively an American phenomenon.  Those who claim victimhood through democracy and freedom, believe that they are the instigators of a world-changing time in history.  In reality, however, they would cause the destruction of the Free World through their egotistical utopian theories.  Presently, the sane majority is sharply divided about how to respond to the many challenges that this idiotic movement raises about the existence of the founding principles of all free societies.  Firm exhibition of unity is mandatory to stem the tide of the domestic as well as the global spirit of destruction.  The alternative is predictable future miseries and the ultimate destruction of mankind.


China: Biting The Hand That Feeds It

By Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi • Frontiers of Freedom

Proof that the idiocy of intellectuals in academia and of hopelessly incompetent bureaucrats ensconced in their ivory towers knows no limit has been demonstrated abundantly in the post-Mao treatment of the People’s Republic of China by the United States of America, the member states of the European Union and other states allied with them.  Having anointed themselves “foreign policy realists,” they declared that they alone have found the all encompassing diacatholicon to all the problems of mankind by always yielding to the blasterous threats of every tyrannical regime on earth.  Specifically, under the dictum that “no one should humiliate the People’s Republic of China,” which in practice has meant endless concessions to Beijing, the democratic nations across the globe in general and the United States of America in particular, have been declared “warmongers” when they refused to lose or be humiliated by the tyrant de jour in mainland China.  As always, the United States of America  has been singled out for relentless criticism of its alleged animosity against the hard working Chinese people who want nothing else but to become as free and prosperous as their kins in the West.  Clearly, these baseless theoretical illusions have shown the unrealistic yearning of these self-appointed foreign policy Messiahs for a world in which tyrannical aggressors always have their ways to the detriment of all the peace loving peoples worldwide.  President Biden’s and his son’s corrupt dealings with the highest echelons of the Chinese Communist Party during the former’s tenure as Vice President only reinforced Beijing’s belief in as well as contempt for the decadent and greedy American politicians who would sell out their country for enriching themselves personally. 

While this intellectual nonsense as well as political corruption are strategically as well as morally revolting, it surely has motivated tyrants all over the world to at least become more demanding or, in more extreme cases, march to the edge of nuclear abyss.  The Chinese Communist Party-led People’s Republic of China has been no exception.  Beginning twenty years ago, at the turn of the century, Beijing has undertaken the most extensive military buildup since World War II.  In addition to destabilizing the entire continent around the Pacific Ocean, President Xi has openly demanded a new world order, in which his country would be the sole superpower.  Boasting the second largest defense budget after the United States of America, Beijing has claimed sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and the surrounding maritime areas.  Defying international law, Beijing has repeatedly threatened free navigation and has aggressively militarized countless coral atolls as well as artificially built additional reefs to expand the offensive capabilities of mainland China beyond its continental shores.  All these have been done in contravention of a United Nations-backed Arbitration Tribunal that invalidated Beijing’s outrageously sweeping claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Of course, quite imperiously, Beijing dismissed the ruling as “sham” and non-binding on the People’s Republic of China.  

Without a shred of doubt, the China threat is real.  While the White House’s China policy does not extend beyond “preventing war and maintaining peace in Asia,” the recent developments surrounding Taiwan shall force the United States of America and all the affected states on the continent to prepare for war and win it decisively.  Clearly, if invaded, Taiwan will surely be China’s Afghanistan and Ukraine combined.  The recent highly provocative military maneuvers around the independent island, under the pretext of the American House Speaker’s visit, could royally misfire on the Chinese military.  Although better than twenty or even five years ago, the Chinese military is nearly not as strong as Beijing is trying to depict.  Mainly, it has been weakened by a staggering degree of corruption and the almost complete lack of combat experience.  Moreover, the culture of the “one child policy” under Mao, has resulted in generations of spoiled men who have resented discipline.  Finally, the readiness of the Chinese military will prevent a successful invasion and occupation of the Democratic Republic of China.

For all these reasons and challenges, the White House must undertake decisively resolute policies to forge an ironclad containment of the People’s Republic of China.  The United States of America, combined with Japan, India, Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia, will always be stronger militarily, economically and financially than the People’s Republic of China.  Although it might sound bold, the White House must contemplate abandoning America’s long standing “One China Policy” and recognize the Democratic Republic of China as a sovereign state that in reality it has been since 1949.  

Historically, as so many Chinese lies, Taiwan has never been originally a part of mainland China.  With the exception of some migration of the Hoklo people from Fujian and Guangdong areas of southern China, the Ming Dynasty only established a base of operation on the island in 1662.  Following the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the Qing Dynasty ceded the island, along with Penghu, to the Japanese.  In 1945, the government of the Republic of China, led by the Kuomintang, took control of Taiwan.  In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek established the Democratic Republic of China that includes the islands of Kinmen, Wuqui and Matsu.

Although the United States of America and the European Union have recorded many failures in foreign policies in the last thirty years, the Free World cannot lose against Communist China, as it could not afford to abandon Ukraine to the Russian Federation.  China’s aggression shall be nipped in the bud before it will develop into a full scale illegal war.  Nothing less than the future of a free and peaceful world is at stake.  


The GOP Summer Swoon

Republicans learn that a midterm victory won't come easily

By Matthew Continetti • The Washington Free Beacon

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) / Getty Images

Today caps off the worst week yet for Republicans in the 2022 campaign cycle. Their troubles began with Senate passage of the Chips and Science Act on Wednesday, July 27, and culminated in the Kansas pro-life rout on Tuesday, August 2. Before last week, the party was riding a red wave to victory in November’s elections. Now, one month before the campaign begins in earnest on Labor Day, aimless Republicans must fend off a Democratic Party that is playing offense.

Yes, the fundamentals continue to favor the GOP. Voters do not like this economy. They blame President Biden for inflation and supply shortages. The president’s job approval rating is 39 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls. Republicans are enthusiastic, Democrats less so. Nancy Pelosi’s days as speaker of the House are numbered: The FiveThirtyEight model gives the GOP an 80 percent chance of winning the lower chamber of Congress.

Yet Republicans want more than control of the House. No one wants to repeat the gridlock, frustration, debt crises, shutdowns, and sequester that roiled the country when Democrats held the White House and Senate between 2011 and 2015. If Republicans gain only in the House, Biden won’t feel as much pressure to triangulate off the GOP Congress. He will be able to count on Senate Democrats to confirm his executive and judicial branch appointees. He will turn Kevin McCarthy and the MAGA Squad into foils and scapegoats. The media will be happy to play along.

The GOP needs a full-spectrum victory if it wants to stop the left and shock Democrats into abandoning Biden. The data and events of the past week suggest that the party has a way to go. For starters: Republicans have enjoyed a modest lead in the congressional generic ballot since January. Now the ballot is tied.

Meanwhile, according to FiveThirtyEight, the GOP nominee leads in only one of six key Senate races. The lucky Republican is Ted Budd in North Carolina. He’s ahead of Cheri Beasley by 1 point. The other Republicans are either close behind (Adam Laxalt in Nevada) or far gone (Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania). The GOP needs to net one seat to win Senate control. If the election were held at the time of writing, the party would lose three.

I know, I know: Most of these races are tight. Surveys this far out are unreliable. There is time for Republican challengers to define their opposition. How candidates react under pressure to unknown events in the coming months will be important. Polls of registered voters or all adults do not consider the widespread GOP enthusiasm that will be reflected in polls of likely voters this fall. And state-based polling has been notoriously off since at least the 2014 cycle.

Still, there is no denying that Republicans are acting less confident than just a week ago. The reason? They have been surprised and shell-shocked. Senate leader Mitch McConnell pledged that Republicans would block the $280 billion Chips and Science Act of 2022 for as long as Democrats tried to reach agreement among themselves on a big-spending reconciliation bill. Republicans mistakenly assumed that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia was opposed to reconciliation because of inflation. To be fair, he said exactly that on July 14.

On July 27, 17 Republicans voted to pass the Chips Act, subsidizing U.S. semiconductors for reasons of national security. Hours later, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he had reached a deal with Manchin on a climate, health care, and tax bill absurdly known as the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Regardless of whether the deal holds, the Senate Republicans had been outmaneuvered. “Looks to me like we got rinky-doo’d,” said Sen. John Kennedy. “That’s a Louisiana word for ‘screwed.'”https://659b56ca16f539d2f2f5e86f3a679aa6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Then, on August 2, voters in Kansas rejected an effort to overturn a state court’s ruling that the Sunflower State constitution guarantees a right to abortion. Similar referenda allowing state legislatures to regulate abortion have passed in West Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisiana. But this was the first such initiative put to the ballot since the Supreme Court held Roe v. Wade unconstitutional. Kansas voted for Donald Trump by 15 points in 2020—and voted to maintain a state right to abortion by 18 points in 2022.

Kansas was a defeat for the pro-life movement. It also scared Republican strategists, whose eyes bugged out at the huge Democratic turnout in the middle of the summer. The GOP consultant class was leery of abortion politics to begin with. Now it is all but guaranteed to steer its clients away from a debate over the issue.

This is the wrong response. Too many Republican candidates won’t defend their stance on abortion and provide counter examples of pro-choice extremism. Afraid of what the party’s pro-life ultras might say, Republicans opt for reticence and mixed messaging on abortion rather than offering measures that command public support.https://659b56ca16f539d2f2f5e86f3a679aa6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“Imagine thinking that what it will take to win the people’s support after this historic [Supreme Court] victory on the human right to life is to ignore it all together and put all your chips on economic issues,” wrote veteran conservative activist Gary Bauer on August 3. “Go on the campaign trail and talk about carried interest, semiconductor shortages, and misuse of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Follow the lead of presidential nominees Dole, McCain, and Romney, who rode social issue silence all the way to second-place finishes in national elections.”

Here, then, is the Republican dilemma: The party’s Senate candidates are weak, it has no economic message beyond lamenting inflation, and its fear of the social issues leaves it exposed. “Without an answer to the left’s attack, Republicans in extremely winnable races will lose—and badly,” warned social conservative leader Frank Cannon, who urged Republicans to get behind laws banning abortions after the fetus has a heartbeat and after it is capable of feeling pain. “Now we are in the democratic era of the abortion debate,” Cannon went on. “Republican members of Congress can no longer act like the decision is out of their hands.”

Nor can Republicans act like the outcome of the 2022 election is predetermined. They may have thought that the Democratic majority would collapse under its own weight. They learned this week that it won’t.


Polls Showing Democrats Closing Generic Ballot Gap Should Concern GOP

By Peter Roff • American Liberty

For a few weeks now, public polls have shown the gap narrowing between the GOP and the Democrats on the critical question of which party the American people like to see control Congress after the next election.

Having led consistently for most of the year, sometimes by as much as double digits, GOP consultants pronounce themselves largely unconcerned. The new polls, they say, are a measure of the views of all adults, not likely voters. As such, they believe, the pollsters conducting those surveys probably oversampled Democrats and soft Republicans by so much as to account for the shift.

They might want to consider revising their analysis. Yes, President Joe Biden’s job approval is below 40 percent. Yes, he’s underwater in 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Yes, the Republican Party is showing surprising strength on issues that have been difficult for it in the past. One recent survey showed the GOP leading the Democrats by 4 points among voters asked which party was better equipped on the issue of education.

None of that may matter. The surfeit of economic bad news may not be enough to allow the GOP to seize control of Congress without having to fight for it. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll of 2,500 likely voters conducted from the end of July through the beginning of August showed the GOP lead on the generic ballot test had been cut to three points.

The firm, while reputable, has a reputation – rightly or not – for producing results that skew to the right. Therefore, its pronouncement that “If the elections for Congress were held today, 46% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for the Republican candidate, while 43% would vote for the Democrat” with a plus/minus 2 percent margin of error should have the Republican consultant class rewriting its strategy for the summer and fall.

The generic ballot test does not predict outcomes, but it is a good gauge of how the electorate is trending. On Election Day in 1994, the GOP – which was about to make its biggest single election gains in the U.S. House in nearly 70 years – lagged the Democrats by a few points. What should have conservatives worried is not the margin, but the trend – which suggests that intensity among Democrats in the electorate is rising to a point that it is close to matching that of the Republicans.

One would think, and we’re still waiting for the poll to be released, that the successful package of a multi-trillion-dollar spending bill that includes tax hikes, tax breaks for people buying luxury cars and enough money for the IRS that is can more than double the number of auditors in its employ would drive support for the Democrats down.

It still might but something has happened to energize a demoralize left who’s seen its political aspirations dashed on the rocks by the Biden administration’s ineptitude. What it may be is the general inability, perhaps even unwillingness of national Republican leaders to articulate what the party’s next moves will be following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs, which turned the authority for regulating abortion back to the states. According to Rasmussen Reports, “The so-called ‘gender gap’” has widened in the latest findings, with men (50%) now eight points more likely than women voters (42%) to prefer Republican congressional candidates. The gap was six points last week.”

That’s easy to explain given the amount of time the supporters of abortion rights have spent mischaracterizing the Dobbs decision, especially to younger and suburban women likely to vote in the next election. Telling them the court’s ruling will lead to a ban on abortions everywhere, even when an unplanned pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, is a powerful motivator despite it not being true.

“In response to this, Republican leadership has come up with their own brilliant strategy to counter the left’s argument. They plan to say absolutely nothing. Instead, when cornered, federal Republicans will vaguely gesture towards the state legislatures and then reflexively pivot to a diatribe about gas prices and inflation,” Frank Cannon, the founding president of American Principles Project recently wrote in The American Conservative.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So does politics. The failure to craft a response to Dobbs is creating the perfect storm for abortion rights supporters to gain the upper hand and keep it. The Rasmussen Reports analysis says what remains of the GOP’s lead “is mainly due to greater partisan intensity.”

According to the poll, “87 percent of Republican voters say they would vote for their own party’s congressional candidate, while 82% of Democrats would vote for the Democratic candidate. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 39% would vote Republican and 36% would vote Democrat, while 8% would vote for some other candidate and 18% are undecided.”

Playing into the scenario in which the failure to come up with any vision of what life in America will be like after Dobbs, “Voters under 40 favor Democrats by a 13-point margin, 49% to 36%, but 50% of voters 40 and older would vote Republican if the election were held today.” Younger voters are already primed to vote against GOP interests but need a reason. The GOP’s silence in response to a barrage of misinformation may be enough.

The survey of 2,500 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on July 31-August 4, 2022, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.


Senate Witnesses: It’s Time To Make Sure Research On Pandemics Isn’t Causing Them

In the wake of a virus that killed millions, these Senate witnesses say it’s time to start treating pandemic research as a national security issue.

By Olivia Hajicek • The Federalist

Kansas Republican Senator Roger Marshall at a Senate hearing on gain-of-function research
OLIVIA HAJICEK/THE FEDERALIST

Three scientists who testified at the first Senate hearing on gain-of-function research on Wednesday said that stronger oversight is needed to make sure research that’s supposed to prevent pandemics isn’t causing them.

The hearing, held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight and led by ranking member Rand Paul of Kentucky, was agreed to by both parties, but only Republican members chose to participate.

Richard Ebright, laboratory director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and hearing witness, said gain-of-function research involves changing pathogens to make them more dangerous. “Gain-of-function research of concern is defined as research activities reasonably anticipated to increase a potential pandemic pathogen’s transmissibility, pathogenicity, ability to overcome immune response, or ability to overcome a vaccine or drug,” Ebright said.

This research has multiple risks, Ebright added, and limited benefits. It results in new health threats because it creates “new potential pandemic pathogens.” He said that “if the new potential pandemic pathogen is released into humans, either accidentally or deliberately, this can cause a pandemic.”

Another risk, according to Ebright, is that once this gain-of-function research is published, people can use it to construct pandemic pathogens from synthetic DNA for well under $10,000. “Publication of the research provides instructions — step-by-step recipes — that can enable a rogue nation, organization, or individual to construct a new pathogen and cause a pandemic,” Ebright said.

Kevin Esvelt, another witness who is a biologist and director of the Sculpting Evolution group at MIT Media Lab, said this is a risk whether scientists are creating potential pandemic viruses through gain-of-function experiments or simply researching naturally occurring ones. He estimated that once the genome of a potential pandemic virus is published, there are 30,000 people with doctorates in the United States alone who would be able to create the virus in a lab.

Trying to identify potential pandemic virus is supposed to help prevent natural pandemics, Esvelt added, but he calculated the research is likely to kill a hundred times as many people as it saves because the likelihood of the research being used maliciously far outweighs the likelihood of it helping prevent a pandemic.

“In the hope of preventing natural pandemics,” Esvalt said, agencies including the National Institutes of Health “seek to identify viruses that could kill as many people as a nuclear weapon, to alert the entire world to what they find, and to publicly share[e] the complete genome sequences of those viruses so that skilled scientists everywhere will be able to make infectious samples.”

Esvelt said that “in the wake of a pandemic that has killed more people than could any thermonuclear explosion,” we need to start addressing pandemics in terms of national security. “We are so used to thinking of pandemics as a health and safety issue that we’ve missed the national security implications of identifying viruses that could be deliberately unleashed to kill millions of people.”

Steven Quay, the CEO of Atossa Therapeutics, said the SARS2 virus that causes Covid-19 “has features consistent with synthetic biology gain-of-function research.” He added that “two features involve acceptable academic gain-of-function research” while one region of the virus “has features of forbidden gain of function research: asymptomatic transmission and immune system evasion.” According to Quay, the permissible gain-of-function features were aspects of research that the United States and Wuhan Institute of Virology had proposed in 2018, while the forbidden features were aspects of research that was already going on at the lab.

Paul said he hopes the scientists’ suggestions can be incorporated into a bipartisan bill for better oversight of research that could lead to pandemics. “I don’t think the people doing the research are able to adequately and objectively regulate themselves,” Paul said. “And I think having a million people die, there should be bipartisan curiosity in this, that we should be able to move forward.”

In response to a question from The Federalist, Paul said that if the GOP wins the Senate and he becomes chairman of the committee, he’ll pursue investigations to hold people accountable for funding this research.


Terror Threat: Al Qaeda’s Next Leader Has Deep Ties to Iran

Iran and al Qaeda have quietly forged a strategic terror alliance

By Adam Kredo • The Washington Free Beacon

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps / Getty Images

The man likely to become al Qaeda’s next leader has spent decades using Iran as a base of operations and maintains deep ties to the hardline regime, signaling that two of the globe’s leading terrorist forces could exponentially expand relations in the near future.

Saif al-Adel, al Qaeda’s number two leader and longtime head of its security arm, fled to Iran in the early 2000s, along with other senior leaders, following the September 11 attacks. From there, he helped relay orders from the just-killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and orchestrate terrorist operations that killed dozens of people, including Americans, according to former U.S. officials and information on the Iran-al Qaeda axis published by a watchdog group.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) protected al-Adel during his time in the country, and the regime permitted him to plan deadly terror attacks, including a May 2003 operation in Saudi Arabia that killed eight Americans. “Adel’s suspected presence in Iran has raised further questions regarding Iranian influence on al Qaeda if Adel were to be named leader,” according to United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an advocacy group that closely tracks Iran’s regional terror operations.

These ties have only deepened since President Joe Biden’s bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan that left the Taliban in power and the country in shambles. Senior leaders in Iran’s Quds Force, an elite IRGC branch, remain in close contact with al Qaeda leaders, “and since the fall of Afghanistan, have provided some al Qaeda leaders with travel documents and safe haven,” according to a European intelligence analysis. The Iran-al Qaeda alliance, former U.S. officials told the Free Beacon, has quietly grown for many years, making the prospect of a new nuclear deal with Iran—which will provide Tehran with billions in cash—beneficial for its allies in al Qaeda.

“When the U.S. government enriches Iranian terrorists through sanctions relief or a lack of enforcement, that money ultimately goes back to support al Qaeda,” Gabriel Noronha, a senior Iran adviser for the State Department during the Trump administration, told the Free Beacon. “We know that Saif al-Adel has not just been living in Iran for most of the past 20 years—he’s been hosted there by the regime along with other al Qaeda operatives. Since 2015, the Iranian regime has allowed al Qaeda to establish an operational headquarters in the country, providing them with documents, passports, funding, and logistical support like safe houses.”

Al-Adel and his network of al Qaeda confidants used their time in Iran to build close “operational coordination” with Tehran’s security forces, including the IRGC. While Iran was once at odds with al Qaeda due to religious differences, that has not been the case for many years now, according to Noronha and other former U.S. officials familiar with these ties.

“These are not totally separate and distinct terrorist groups or even rivals anymore—they are part of an anti-American and anti-Western alliance,” Noronha said.

From his perch in Iran during the mid-2000s, al-Adel “was allowed by Iran to travel to Pakistan and open more contacts with other al Qaeda leaders,” according to UANI’s research, which is based on intelligence and open-source reporting. Iran’s decision to permit al-Adel and other al Qaeda operatives to freely move in the region “opens up speculation that al-Adel could establish a ‘satellite office’ for the group in Iran,” according to a 2011 AP report.

Nathan Sales, former U.S. ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism, told the Free Beacon that “contrary to expectations and contrary to conventional wisdom, the Iranian regime and al Qaeda have maintained a mutually beneficial relationship for many years.”

Iran, Sales noted, recently hosted senior al Qaeda leaders and operatives, “which is exactly what we should expect from the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.”

The depth of these ties was first unveiled by former secretary of state Mike Pompeo in January 2021, when he disclosed publicly that a U.S. operation killed one of al Qaeda’s top leaders on the streets of Tehran in 2020.

“Al Qaeda has a new home base: the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a speech at the time, marking one of the first public disclosures about Iran’s deepening relationship with the terror group.

Hans-Jakob Schindler, a senior director at the Counter Extremism Project, which tracks jihadi groups, noted that al-Adel “has become very high value” since al-Zawahiri was killed, “and the Iranians usually take advantage of such situations.”

Al-Adel’s “existence in Iran and his freedom to act while in Iran will solely depend on what the Iranian regime think his value and usefulness for their aims is,” Schindler said.


The Schumer Manchin Inflation Reduction Act Could Kill You

By Peter Roff • American Liberty

There’s something about the way laws are made and the impact they have on the nation that many people may not understand. Oh, they may know what it is intuitively, and that much of how Congress does its business doesn’t make sense, but they can’t explain why.

That means they can’t propose ways to fix it. This isn’t a failing on their part and it’s not because they don’t understand the democratic process or how a bill becomes a law. It’s the lawmakers themselves who have made the legislative process so opaque, with so many moving parts, that it’s hard for people who are not part of the professional political class to figure out what it means, how it works and how to improve it.

That’s useful to those who favor the continual growth in the government’s size and authority, especially at the federal level. The constant obfuscation allows deception and permits those few policymakers who are still politicians holding elective office to change positions on the spot without having to worry too much that the people who keep them in office will hold them accountable.

That’s how, for example, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who’d won plaudits for his opposition to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill, was able to make a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to produce, even take the lead on something which is called the Inflation Reduction act but is just a slimmed down, slightly less woke version of what he’d previously opposed. As a side note, it doesn’t do much of anything – say such neutral arbiters of its effect on the economy like the Congressional Budget Office and Congress’s Joint Tax Committee – to reduce inflation. According to them, it could make it worse than it otherwise might be before it finally levels off.

The Manchin-backed bill, which could just as easily and more accurately be called the Inflation Resuscitation Act as anything else, is chock full of the same kinds of tax increases, special interest spending, unnecessary regulatory crackdowns, sweetheart political deals (Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema, we’re looking in your direction) and green energy mandates and subsides as Build Back Better. In the bigger picture, the differences between the two are insignificant enough that they hardly matter at all. Except that the Inflation Reduction Act could also be responsible for your death.

It won’t kill you, at least not literally, unless you happened to be walking by the U.S. Capitol when and if some unhappy Republican throws a bound copy of the bill out an open window and it lands on your head. It’s a big bill. What you need to know is the imposition of price controls on certain categories of prescription drugs contained within it will depress pharmaceutical industry research and development into new drug therapies by an estimated $663 billion according to a paper by Tomas Phillipson published by the University of Chicago.

Says the professor in an essay he penned for Newsweek, a reduction in funding of that size “will amount to a loss of 330 million life-years, about 30 times the loss from COVID-19 so far. The associated loss in value is more than $66 trillion, with longevity conservatively valued at half the amount used by agencies such as FDA and EPA.”

In layman’s terms, that means the cures that could be coming down the pike for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and certain kinds of cancers – just to name a few of the ultimately fatal maladies we face as we get older – won’t arrive because they’ll never get out of the gate. Sorry, Boomer.

As Kevin Murphy and Robert Topel write in their study, The Value of Health and Longevity (also published by the University of Chicago) “Economic evidence shows that growth in life-expectancy is as important as GDP growth in lifting U.S. well-being. Put differently, few people would give up a year of their lives in order to gain an inflation-free year with marginally higher growth. Emphasizing the reduced economic effect of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act is akin to rejoicing that a hurricane spared the house, even though its owners died.”

This shouldn’t be hard to understand. If the legislative process and the impact of a given bill were explained to the American people with the same level of detail that goes into the analysis of the New York Mets’ pitching power, it wouldn’t be. So, without going too deeply into the weeds, if you accept that price controls affect profit margins by pushing them lower, you also have to accept they eliminate incentives to innovate.

Too many people, especially those who take their cues on economic issues from Karl Marx and AOC, view words like “capital, “profit” and “property” as dirty ones. When they are applied to the American model, they become glorious, responsible for the incentives that make living standards in the United States among the highest in the world and the envy of just about every other country.

The debate over this issue is not an honest one, with all sides getting a fair hearing. If it were, you’d know the vast majority of Americans oppose the idea of the government negotiating price controls with pharmaceutical companies when they understand the consequences that would ensue.

Government price controls are popular, according to just about every public poll, when people think all that will happen is the price of drugs will come down. Why pay more when you can pay less, right? When they learn it also means forcing manufacturers to negotiate on price with the government takes away from doctors the ability to prescribe medicines that in their opinion best meet the needs of their patients, the support for price controls drops considerably. A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found support for capping schemes dropped the moment respondents became aware it might lead to less research and development of new drugs or limit access to newer prescription drugs. A March 2022 Ipsos poll conducted for the industry’s trade association found just 14 percent of those participating in the survey would support them if they resulted in limited access to newer prescription medicines.

If this information were planted as firmly in the public’s mind as the idea that the government can lower the price of drugs through negotiation or fiat, it would be easy to predict what the politicians would do. But it isn’t, so the fact price controls would kill innovation in the industry in the U.S., leading to the development of fewer breakthrough drugs is easy to hide.

The evidence is there if anyone cares to look for it. By burying their scheme in a bill that’s supposed to bring down inflation – and the pharmaceutical sector is one area where prices have continued to be relatively stable and have even come down – no one does. That’s the biggest benefit to legislating as Schumer and Manchin are doing. There are too many moving parts that will produce too many adverse outcomes for people to keep track of it all. The solution for the mess it will cause, when it comes, will be another big bill that doesn’t fix the problems the Inflation Reduction Act will cause while making the mess even bigger.


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