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Constitutional and Political Freedom

Minnesota Sued Over Mail-In Ballot Ruling

State says it will accept ballots for 8 days after election, even without postmark

By Josh Christenson and Graham PiroThe Washington Free Beacon

Republicans are challenging a move by Minnesota election officials to allow ballots to be counted past Election Day even if they are not postmarked.

State representative Eric Lucero (R.) and Republican elector James Carson filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging secretary of state Steve Simon’s consent decree that allows mail-in ballots to be counted as late as eight days after Election Day with or without a postmark. The lawsuit argues the decree violates the U.S. Constitution by moving the ballot deadline without the authority of the state legislature and violates federal law by permitting “ballots with no post mark and no evidence of having been cast on November 3” to be counted.

“This means that persons in Minnesota may vote for days after Election Day and have their votes counted,” the lawsuit states. It also warns that the decree will likely lead to disputed results, disenfranchised voters, and may even cause the results of the vote in Minnesota to be rejected entirely.

The consent decree states that if a ballot is not postmarked, “the election official reviewing the ballot should presume that it was mailed on or before Election Day unless the preponderance demonstrates it was mailed after Election Day.” Simon described the seven-day window as “an automatic seven-day cushion” for Minnesota voters.

Simon’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the assumption that unmarked ballots were sent on or before Election Day.

The lawsuit was filed with the support of the Honest Elections Project, a nonpartisan election integrity group whose executive director Jason Snead told the Washington Free Beacon that the decree could incentivize illegal voting.

“You wind up with these ballots that arrive potentially many days after the election, they could be the decisive ballots. But there’s absolutely no proof that they were cast validly on Election Day,” Snead said. “And when you consider what’s at stake here, not only does that amplify the need for us to have clear outcomes, it also amplifies the incentive to try to gin up a few extra ballots after the fact if you see that your candidate is losing.”

“Even if that’s not going to happen, the mere fact that it is possible risks casting doubt on the result,” he said.

Minnesota is among 16 other states this year that permit mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day to be counted, including the battleground states of North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Texas. With the exception of West Virginia, which allows ballots without postmarks to be counted up to one day after the election, it is the only state to allow ballots without postmarks to be counted.

As the election nears, Republicans and Democrats have stepped up efforts to litigate state voting regulations. Lawsuits filed in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and Nevada have pitted the parties against one another in protracted fights over the use of ballot drop boxes, and ballot deadlines, as well as rules for collecting, processing, and counting ballots. Republicans have largely favored maintaining existing voting regulations within states, while Democrats have advocated expanding voting access and loosening regulations.


The Case for Urban Charter Schooling

By David Griffith & Michael J. PetrilliNational Affairs

A decade ago, the charter-school movement was moving from strength to strength. As student enrollment surged and new schools opened in cities across the country, America’s first black president provided much-needed political cover from teachers’ union attacks. Yet today, with public support fading and enrollment stalling nationwide — and with Democratic politicians from Elizabeth Warren to Joe Biden disregarding, downplaying, or publicly disavowing the charter movement — the situation for America’s charter schools has become virtually unrecognizable.

This is a strange state of affairs, given the ever-growing and almost universally positive research base on urban charter schools. On average, students in these schools — and black and Latino students in particular — learn more than their peers in traditional public schools and go on to have greater success in college and beyond. Moreover, these gains have not come at the expense of traditional public schools or their students. In fact, as charter schools have replicated and expanded, surrounding school systems have usually improved as well.

To be sure, the research is not as positive for charter schools operating outside of the nation’s urban centers. Furthermore, multiple studies suggest that internet-based schools, along with programs serving mostly middle-class students, perform worse than their district counterparts, at least on traditional test-score-based measures. But like the technologies behind renewable energy (which work poorly in places where the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine), charter schools needn’t work everywhere to be of service to society. And, contrary to much of the public rhetoric, the evidence makes a compelling case for expanding charter schools in urban areas — especially in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Atlanta, and San Francisco, where their market share is still relatively modest. Indeed, encouraging such an expansion may be the single most important step we can take to improve the lives of low-income and minority children in America’s most underserved urban communities.

It is a particularly cruel irony that many within the Democratic Party — with its historic legacy of standing up for needy urban families — have turned against a policy that could so dramatically improve the lives of their constituents. But despite some Democrats’ about-face on charter schools, it is imperative that America’s dispirited education reformers — who have experienced more than their fair share of disappointment — not throw in the towel just yet. Although the political climate may now entail a serious fight over charter schools in the coming years, the benefits of such schools make them well worth the effort.

THE EVIDENCE ON URBAN CHARTER SCHOOLS

In general, the most rigorous studies of charter schools rely on data from the randomized admissions lotteries that are conducted when individual schools are oversubscribed, which ensure that research resembles a natural experiment.

With few exceptions, these lottery-based studies have found that attending oversubscribed charter schools is associated with higher achievement in reading and math — especially in large, human-capital-rich cities such as Boston, Chicago, and New York City. For example, a 2011 study of the Promise Academy charter schools in the Harlem Children’s Zone found the effects of attendance in middle school were “enough to close the black-white achievement gap in mathematics,” while the effects in elementary school were “large enough to close the racial achievement gap in both mathematics and [English language arts].”

If all charter schools were so effective, there would be little to debate. But unfortunately, charter schools that are popular enough to make use of admissions lotteries are likely atypical. Consequently, although studies may tell us something important about the schools in question — and, perhaps, about the potential gains associated with the policies and practices that allow them to do their work — this research can tell us little about the overall performance of urban charter schools.

In an effort to overcome this limitation, many recent studies have used a statistical technique known as “matching” to compare the academic trajectories of students in charter schools to students in traditional public schools with similar characteristics and levels of academic achievement. A 2012 study that used matching found that students in Milwaukee charter schools made more progress in English language arts (ELA) and math than otherwise similar students in traditional public schools, as did a more recent study of students in Los Angeles charter schools.

Although there are many approaches to matching, perhaps the best known in education circles is the virtual control record (VCR) method developed by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. CREDO has used the VCR method in recent years to generate an extensive collection of national, state-, and city-specific estimates of the “charter effect.” In a 2015 analysis of charter performance in 41 urban locations, for instance, CREDO estimated that students who attended a charter school in these cities gained an average of 28 days of learning in ELA and 40 days of learning in math per year. (For the purposes of this discussion, 180 days of learning can be thought of as the progress the average American student makes in the average school year.) Students who enrolled in an urban charter school for at least four years gained a total of 72 days of learning in ELA and 108 days — over half a year’s worth of learning — in math.

Notably, these gains were concentrated among low-income black and Latino students. Black students in poverty gained 44 days of learning in ELA and 59 days of learning in math per year. Similarly, Latino students in poverty gained 25 days of learning in ELA and 48 days of additional learning in math. Students with English-language-learner status gained 79 days of learning in ELA and 72 days of learning in math.

Nationally, ELA and math achievement gaps between white students and black and Latino students are roughly two grade levels. So while most charter schools aren’t erasing racial achievement gaps, the average urban charter is putting a sizable dent in them.

Since the goal of public education is to serve all students effectively, one key question is whether the success of students in charter schools comes at the expense of their peers in traditional public schools. Yet contrary to the assumptions of many charter-school opponents, there is little evidence that this is the case.

In fact, most of the “spillover” effects that charter schools have on the traditional public schools in their vicinity appear positive — or at worst, neutral. To wit, a recent review of the literature on this question identified nine studies that found positive effects, three that found negative effects, two that found mixed effects, and 10 that found no effects whatsoever. As that summary suggests, evidence that charter competition has salutary effects on district-run schools has now been detected in a wide variety of contexts, from the dense urban cores of Milwaukee and New York City to the sprawling suburbs of Florida, North Carolina, and Texas.

Logically, if urban charter schools have a positive effect on their own students’ achievement and a neutral or positive effect on other students’ achievement, it follows that their overall effect on student achievement must be positive. To test that hypothesis, researchers at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently examined the relationship between the “market share” of local charters — that is, the percentage of publicly enrolled students in a geographic school district who attend a charter school — and the average reading and math achievement of all students (including those in traditional public schools). Overall, the data revealed that an increase in the former was associated with an increase in the latter, especially in black and Latino communities and in the largest urban areas. In other words, at least when it comes to charter schools in America’s biggest cities, a rising tide really does lift all boats.

BEYOND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

While most parents expect their children to leave school with a mastery of critical academic skills and knowledge, the ultimate success of an education lies in the degree to which it empowers students to thrive in adulthood. Consequently, to gauge the true efficacy of charter schools, one cannot simply rely on charter students’ performance record based on standard academic tests.

Fortunately, a growing number of studies allow us to examine the relationship between enrollment in charter schools and long-term, real-world outcomes. One evaluation of a high-performing “no excuses” charter school in Chicago found that, compared to their peers, “lottery winners are 10.0 percentage points more likely to attend college and 9.5 percentage points more likely to enroll for at least four semesters.” Similarly, in a follow-up study of the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Promise Academy, researchers found that the same students who had previously experienced large test-score gains relative to their district peers were also “14.1 percentage points more likely to enroll in college.” Furthermore, admitted female students were “12.1 percentage points less likely to be pregnant in their teens,” while male students were “4.3 percentage points less likely to be incarcerated.”

Other lottery-based studies encompass multiple schools. For example, one study found that attending an oversubscribed Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) middle school between 2008 and 2011 had a positive effect on post-secondary enrollment. Similarly, a 2016 study found that charter schools “increase pass rates on Massachusetts’ high-stakes [high-school] exit exam, with large effects on the likelihood of qualifying for a state-sponsored [college] scholarship,” and that they “induce a substantial shift from 2- to 4-year institutions.” Finally, a recent study of the Democracy Prep charter network found that it boosted students’ odds of voting in the 2016 election by six percentage points.

Like the lottery-based studies of charter schools’ impact on achievement, this research doesn’t necessarily generalize to all charter schools. However, at least two studies have used matching techniques to estimate the long-term effects of charter attendance for entire cities or states.

The first, a 2011 study of charter schools in Florida and Chicago, found that “among students who attended a charter middle school, those who went on to attend a charter high school were 7–15 percentage points more likely to earn a standard diploma than students who transitioned to a traditional public high school,” as well as “8–10 percentage points more likely to attend college.” The second, a more recent study of charter schools in North Carolina, found that students who attended a charter high school were “less likely to be chronically absent, suspended, be convicted of a crime as an adult, and more likely to register and participate in elections.”

In short, although the literature on charter schools’ long-term effects is still developing, the early evidence — like the two studies mentioned above — is extremely encouraging as well as highly consistent with the evidence on charter schools’ short-term effects on academic achievement.

RACIAL INTEGRATION

In the absence of any compelling evidence that charter schools’ well-established benefits for low-income and minority students come at the expense of students in traditional public schools, the claim that charter schools exacerbate segregation is perhaps opponents’ most potent line of attack. And though, as of yet, the evidence is neither dramatic nor conclusive, there is some limited evidence to support this argument.

In a recent literature review, for instance, researchers identified 10 studies of charter schools and racial integration, including two that found they increased integration, five that found no significant effect, and three that found that they decreased integration (i.e., increased or at least preserved segregation). Meanwhile, in the most comprehensive analysis to date, researchers at the Urban Institute found that higher charter market share was associated with a small increase in racial segregation within the average school district. Specifically, the authors estimated that if every charter school in the country was eliminated, racial segregation in the average district would decrease by approximately 5%. However, that same study also found that charter schools reduced segregation between school districts. Consequently, when the analysts looked at segregation across entire metro areas, they found no significant effects.

For some charter skeptics, even the faintest hint of “re-segregation” on any level is intolerable. While this objection to charter schools is understandable, an overemphasis on this dimension of their impact risks missing the forest for the trees.

First, it’s important to recognize that American schools are already highly segregated and have been so for the many decades of traditional public-school hegemony. Thus, it’s not as if charter schools are derailing an otherwise successful program of racial integration.

Second, much of the most concerning segregation takes place within outwardly diverse schools. For example, if math or other subjects are tracked, pre-existing achievement gaps can and do lead to highly segregated classrooms, even within schools that look integrated on paper.

Third, some research suggests that, because it “decouples” housing and education markets, expanding school choice makes it more likely that white parents will move into “racially segregated urban communities.” In other words, even if charter schools do lead to slightly less diverse schools in some places, their arrival may mean that neighborhoods become more diverse.

Finally, it is simply a fact that many “racially isolated” charter schools achieve exceptional results for the minority students they serve. At the end of the day, the argument that charter programs will re-segregate America’s schools misses the profound difference between policies of enforced segregation and those that empower black and Latino families to opt out of a system designed by and for the white majority. Parents who choose all-black or all-Latino charter schools that defy society’s expectations of failure are hardly modern-day Bull Connors.

CRITICS OF THE RESEARCH

As should be obvious, much of the pro-charter argument depends on the validity of the methodologies upon which researchers have relied (and of CREDO’s methodology in particular). So, given how much is at stake, it’s worth taking a moment to understand the various criticisms of CREDO’s approach, most of which can be summarized in two points.

First, critics claim that CREDO’s estimates could be biased by unobserved differences between students in charter schools and students in traditional public schools. In other words, it’s possible that the students in charter schools make more progress than “otherwise similar” students (i.e., students with similar demographic characteristics and prior achievement) in traditional public schools because of factors that are hard to measure, like unusually involved parents.

Second, the critics argue that even if CREDO’s estimates are unbiased, they might not generalize to other locations or higher levels of charter market share. For example, if the 25% of Boston’s black students who are enrolled in a charter school are above average, easier to teach, or otherwise different from the rest of the city’s black student population, the same schools that are seemingly serving these students so well might struggle to replicate their results with the other three-quarters of that population. And of course, insofar as the extraordinary success of Boston’s charter schools depends on conditions that are not replicable — such as the city’s unusually deep reservoir of human capital — it may be difficult to reproduce this success in other locations.

For each of these criticisms, there is a compelling counterargument. For example, when the federal Institute of Education Sciences (IES) evaluated non-experimental methods for studying charter schools, it found that matching studies generated “impact estimates that are not significantly different from the experimental estimates.” Other attempts to assess the validity of matching approaches have reached similar conclusions. And in general, it’s difficult to overlook the similarities between CREDO’s estimates and those generated by other experimental and quasi-experimental studies. Like the CREDO studies, for example, those other studies found increased positive effects for disadvantaged students and students of color, as well as a stark gap between the performance of urban and non-urban charter schools, all of which suggests that CREDO’s estimates should be taken seriously.

As for the second criticism, although our knowledge of the opportunities and challenges associated with an exclusively charter-based system is thus far limited to the experience of New Orleans (which made the switch almost overnight following Hurricane Katrina), we now have quite a bit of experience with “charter-heavy” systems, where charter market share is somewhere between 15% and 45%. In general, the evidence collected in such environments suggests that the returns associated with higher charter market share do not necessarily diminish as charter market share increases. For example, one rigorous analysis found that the “average effectiveness of Boston’s charter middle school sector increased…despite a doubling of charter market share.” And CREDO’s 2015 estimates for cities like Detroit and Washington, D.C., were highly positive, despite the fact that charter schools enroll more than a third of the students in these cities. Finally, the evidence suggests that New Orleans’s leap of faith led to substantial gains for students — although it’s not clear how much smaller those gains would have been if the city had stopped at 50% or 75% charter market share instead of going all the way.

Obviously, even if one takes CREDO’s estimates at face value and accepts that there is room for growth in most places, it’s still the case that charter performance varies by location. But what this criticism often overlooks is that charter policy also varies by location. So at best, this line of reasoning is a double-edged sword. After all, nothing but politics prevents states and localities from adopting smarter education policies.

IMPROVEMENTS OVER TIME

Collectively, the research discussed makes a compelling case for expanding charter schools in urban areas. Yet that case would be incomplete without a final, critical, and frequently overlooked point: Charter schools (and urban charter schools in particular) have improved since the movement’s inception — even as their numbers have increased — and will probably keep improving in the coming years.

The first half of this claim is difficult to contest. For instance, after breaking down previously collected achievement data according to school year, CREDO estimated that students in urban charter schools gained 24 days of learning in reading and 29 days of learning in math in 2008-09. Yet by 2011-12, it estimated that these figures had increased to 41 days for reading and 58 days for math. Similarly, meta-analyses of the lottery-based and quasi-experimental charter-school literature suggest a gradual improvement in overall performance. For example, a 2008 review of 17 lottery-based and value-added studies found “compelling evidence that charter schools underperform traditional public schools in some locations, grades, and subjects, and outperform them in other locations, grades, and subjects.” Yet in 2019, the same authors concluded that charter schools had positive effects in the elementary and middle grades, with no statistically significant effects in high school.

Although the causes behind this improvement are complex, it stands to reason that it is at least partly attributable to the inevitable learning process that occurs whenever a new idea is introduced. As skeptics are quick to note, “charter schools” often feels like an unhelpfully broad category. Fortunately, thanks to nearly two decades of research, we know quite a bit about what sorts of charter schools work best, for whom, and under what circumstances. Another landmark CREDO study (and other research) tells us that non-profit “charter management organizations” (CMOs) are, on average, higher performing than for-profit networks or independent “mom-and-pop” charter schools. And numerous studies suggest that “no excuses” schools have had a particularly positive effect on black students’ achievement. Finally, as noted previously, we know that charter schools in urban areas outperform those in rural and suburban districts, especially when it comes to serving black and Latino students.

Though it’s unlikely to persuade the critics, one obvious implication of all this research is that we should allow high-performing CMOs like KIPP, Success Academy, and IDEA to expand their footprints in major urban areas. And in fact, that’s more or less what has been happening in places where charter schools in general have been allowed to grow: Since 2015, the share of newly created charter schools run by for-profit entities has fallen from 20% to around 10%, while the share of new schools run by CMOs has increased to 40%.

Once one starts looking for them, the signs that states and localities are learning from one another’s experiences are everywhere. To wit, at least half a dozen cities have now adopted common applications that make it easier for parents to choose from and apply to multiple schools. Or take Texas, which historically has had a relatively low-performing charter sector. In 2013, the Lone Star State boosted funding for its charter schools while also moving to close its lowest performers. Following the law’s passage, CREDO’s estimate of Texas charter schools’ effect on math learning went from negative 17 days per year in 2013 to positive 17 days per year in 2015, with even larger gains for poor students and the state’s ever-expanding Latino population.

This improvement is too recent to be reflected in CREDO’s national estimates, as are the widely recognized improvements in several other states’ charter sectors. But the more important point is that, even after 25 years of “learning” on the part of both states and localities, charter-school policy in most places is far from optimal. Additionally, a 2018 study found that, once the cost of facilities and other unavoidable expenses was taken into account, charter schools received 27% — or about $6,000 — less per pupil than traditional public schools. And in more than a dozen major urban districts — including Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Washington, D.C. — it has been estimated that charter schools receive anywhere from 25% to 50% less revenue per pupil than traditional public schools. In other words, urban charter schools are achieving their remarkable results despite spending far less money per pupil than their district counterparts. If and when legislators begin funding charter schools more equitably, one can only imagine the levels of success they — and their students — will achieve.

RENEWING THE PROMISE OF CHARTER SCHOOLS

In recent decades, education reformers have experimented with numerous approaches to boosting the achievement of disadvantaged children of color — from reducing class sizes to insisting that teachers receive “National Board Certification” to investing heavily in failing schools. Yet ultimately, most of these ideas were abandoned because they were politically untenable or, in hindsight, unscalable or ill-conceived. In contrast, the case for charter schools has only strengthened over time — and the experiences of places like New Orleans, Newark, and D.C. suggest we have only begun to realize their potential.

Precisely why urban charter schools work so well for students of color is difficult to say. In theory, freedom from district bureaucracies and teacher-union contracts should allow them to make better hiring decisions, appropriately reward strong performance, and let go of ineffective teachers when necessary. But it’s also possible that more intense competition between schools encourages them to make better use of their resources. Or perhaps the periodic closure of low-performing charter schools leads to a gradual improvement in quality. Or maybe allowing more school choice improves the “match” between students and schools in ways that disproportionately benefit at-risk students. Since research supports each of these theories, the best possible answer to the question of causal mechanisms may simply be “all of the above.”

Despite what many may have heard, the growth of charter schools is not out of control. To the contrary, where growth has been permitted, it is completely under the control of disadvantaged populations that can now exercise their right to pursue a better education. And despite the overheated rhetoric that dominates public conversation, the truth is that charter schools enroll a modest percentage of students in most major cities. In New York City, for instance, they enroll just one in five black students and one in 10 Latino students. Yet at the start of the 2019-20 school year, nearly 50,000 families in the Big Apple were denied a place in a charter school.

Nationally, roughly one-quarter of black students and perhaps one in six Latino students in urban districts attend a charter school. So how much progress could we make by expanding charter market share for these groups? Although any concrete estimate is subject to criticism, our back-of-the-envelope arithmetic suggests that moving from 25% to 50% charter market share in urban areas could cut the achievement gap in half for at least 2.5 million black and Latino students in the coming decade. And of course, with more equitable funding, improved oversight, and an expanded role for truly high-performing networks, the dividends might be even larger. With so much to be gained for America’s most poorly served children, there is simply no reason not to prioritize the expansion of charter-school policies and programs in the years ahead.


To Never-Trumpers: Now is the time!

By Larry Fedewa Ph.D.DrLarryOnline.com

The 45th President of the United States is opposed by several identifiable groups of people.

True believers

There are those who believe unquestionably the portrait of an evil man whose character encompasses nearly every sin imaginable, from a “pathological liar” to a greed-driven, narcissistic buffoon, to a Russian spy, and so on. This is the description put forth by the large corporate press, which has its own reasons for what many know is often completely without any factual basis.

Democrat party

This “alternative universe” is inhabited by many true believers, and led by the Democrat Party which provides the organization, funding, and candidates to continually feed the narrative they have created with the help of the “Deep State” bureaucrats by leaks of both true and false information to the willing Press. The most visible supporters of this view of Mr. Trump are the leaders of the Democrat Party, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and most of their followers in the Congress.

The Professionals 

These leaders vary in their personal acceptance of the received Party dogma, with Nancy Pelosi, the most radical true believer, and others more likely to realize the extent of their deception – Nancy being too gullible to make such distinctions.

The deliberate and thoroughly conscious liars of this narrative are the professionals who have justified their truly immoral behavior on the basis of the ends justifying any means. The end in this case is their retention (or regaining) of the ultimate power of government, which for them means maintaining their personal future and fortune. They see Trump as the major threat to their own future which they hope will include their total power over the USA. They began to taste this power in the Obama administration. Even a taste is addictive and these people are addicted to victory at all costs, even turning their backs on the Ten Commandments (Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”).

The “Never-Trumpers”

There also exists, however, another opposing group, namely, Republican and conservative voters who oppose Trump for personal reasons. The most prominent of these “Never Trumpers” are former Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, now senator from Utah, and former Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, and the Bush family with two former Presidents and former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush. All have chosen different ways of expressing their anger at Mr. Trump, but all were deeply offended by his criticism during the 2016 campaign.

The Bushes have maintained a dignified silence regarding Mr. Trump, although they have been rumored to quietly support opposition to Trump initiatives. Romney ran for the Senate after Trump’s election and has consistently opposed most Trump-supported legislation. Kasich, in the most direct “bad loser” manner, has publicly and loudly endorsed Joe Biden for president.

The man with the most direct Never Trump attitude was Republican Arizona Senator John McCain, who defeated repeal of Obamacare by casting the final, deciding vote against it. Senator McCain died with a deep and permanent grudge against Donald Trump. However, his family has decided according to son-in-law Ben Domenech to let bygones be bygones with respect to President Trump and make their political judgements for the good of the country. In their case, they have decided to support the President because they believe that a victory of the Left in this election would be disastrous for the American people.

The 2020 election

I have agreed with this judgment as I watched carefully the rapid growth of confidence and anti-American activity over the years of the Obama administration, starting with foreign policy and spreading to the weaponization of whole segments of the bureaucracy into instruments of silencing opponents of the administration, especially the IRS, and eventually the Department of Justice (although we did not realize the extent of that corruption until later), and other agencies with direct contact with the American people.

The ultimate act of defiance was the nomination of Hillary Clinton for president, one of the most corrupt people ever to stand for public office. She and her husband sold American interests to foreign countries for a fortune – at the same time she was in charge of America’s foreign policy. But her platform was nearly pure socialism, the next step up from Obama’s efforts to pull America toward that goal.

Now we have an even more brazen attack on American institutions and free market capitalism in the form of a very weak (and probably corrupt) f candidate for president and a strong socialist for vice resident.

Never-Trumpers: Now is the time

For the good of the nation, it behooves the Never Trumpers to put aside their private objections and bruised egos and vote for the greater good of the United States. They know better than to believe all the rubbish about Trump but especially the doubts about his patriotism and dedication to American values.  They are neither dupes nor cynics. They should have enough patriotism to follow the example of John McCain’s family and support America’s last defense against the sinister forces we have been witnessing in America’s cities all summer and in the halls of Congress and the nations’ courtrooms for the past generation.

This is the last half of the ninth inning, the two-minute warning is blasting. If the socialists win this election, we may never get another chance.


Twitter Suspends True the Vote’s Account, Claims Military Ballot Deadline Tweet Violates Rules

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Specialist Steven Hitchcock, U.S. Army via Wikimedia Commons

Twitter, the social media giant that dominates online chatter, suspended Friday the account of the pro-ballot integrity group “True the Vote,” after alleging the group’s tweets about military ballots and voting deadlines violated the platform’s rules.

True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht responded angrily to the move, the latest in a series of actions by the media platform that have some accusing it of trying to stifle debate and the free flow of information during the election season to the detriment of conservative candidates and activists.

Twitter temporarily suspended the group’s account, according to a statement from Engelbrecht, after a Sept. 15 post that encouraged citizens and potential voters to confirm their counties were following the rules for mailing out ballots to members of the military serving in other states and overseas. 

Twitter and other social media sites have in recent months announced new policies to protect against tampering by foreign nationals and security agencies seeking to affect the 2020 election. The increased supervision of posts began after congressional investigating committees and an inquiry overseen by former FBI Director Robert Mueller all concluded the Russians had penetrated U.S. social media platforms with misleading messages during the 2016 campaign. No evidence was ever produced, however, that demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow in these activities as many Democrats charged then and still maintain was the case. 

Advocates for the military have for some time complained that ballots for local, state, and federal elections are often not mailed out early enough for soldiers, sailors, and Marines serving overseas to receive them, fill them out, and return them in time for them to be counted. Effectively, they say, this leaves America’s troops in the field – many of whom are presumed to vote Republican – disenfranchised.

“True the Vote, an election integrity advocacy organization, was sending out information of public interest regarding deadlines for our military voters, pursuant to the ‘Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment’ Act, federal law, which requires states to send absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters at least 45 days before federal elections,” Englebrecht said, adding that information “in no way” violated Twitter’s terms of service. 

The now-controversial tweet was “retweeted” by President Donald J. Trump two days after it was initially posted, an act Engelbrecht suggested in a statement might have provoked the ire of Trump opponents inside Twitter supervising what goes up on the platform while searching for electoral disinformation.

True the Vote is appealing the sanction and said it fully expects to have its access to the site restored in short order. Officials at Twitter could not be reached for comment.


Will ‘Silent’ Trump Supporters Swing Election?

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

With less than two months to go until the election former Vice President Joe Biden’s once considerable lead over Donald J. Trump appears to be vanishing. Polls are showing the Democrat still ahead nationally and in several crucial swing states. Many equally reliable surveys however show the president closing.

Whether this is due to a change in voter attitudes or a change in polling methodology and the way pollsters look at their numbers is anyone’s guess. Public opinion surveys are highly objective analyses of electoral sentiment that can be influenced by both those crunching the numbers and those participating.

Any good survey seeks to replicate the partisan and ideological breakdown of the electorate that will be participating in the next election based largely on what happened in the last. That’s not always a reliable measure as it requires those conducting surveys to manipulate the numbers to account for ideology, partisanship, race, religion, and gender among the respondents that may not resemble who shows up on Election Day.

Environment influences optics. People in solidly Democratic areas are likely to feel comfortable putting Biden/Harris signs in their yards while Trump/Pence supporters in the same neighborhoods might be reluctant to bring attention to their intentions. Demonstrating support for the president, an admittedly divisive figure, can have adverse consequences. In one notorious incident, two 21-year-old women stole a “Make America Great Again” hat off the head of a seven-year-old boy at August’s Delaware Democratic state convention.

They’re now charged with hate crimes as well as robbery, conspiracy, and endangering the welfare of a child – and what they did what was inarguably cruel – but it hardly scratches the surface of what’s going on around the country. The social sanction shown toward Trump supporters is severe and encouraged by Democratic leaders. Congresswomen Maxine Waters, chairman of the House Banking Committee, famously told participants in a California rally that, as far as administration officials were concerned, “If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

Rhetoric and behavior like that can be intimidating. Few people want to open themselves up to the social sanction and shunning that attaches to being a supporter of the president. This may be why, as a recent Rasmussen Reports poll indicated, 17 percent of likely voters who give Trump’s job approval high marks say they are reluctant to let others know how they intend to vote in the fall. “A similar but narrower gap is evident between the two parties,” the polling firm said, with 16 percent of Republicans being less likely to tell others how they intend to vote, compared to 12 percent of Democrats. 

This phenomenon was likely present in 2016 as well. Most pre-election polls showed former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton winning the White House easily. Instead, Trump won by the narrowest of margins by pulling together enough narrow victories in the 50 separate state elections that constitute a presidential contest to win a clear if not necessarily convincing victory in the Electoral College. If it is again present, as Rasmussen Report’s latest survey suggests, then most national and state surveys are undercounting the president’s level of support. 

If that’s true, then the race is a lot tighter than people are being led to believe by most of the reporting on the race. Other surveys have shown GOP satisfaction with Trump to be much higher than the Democrat’s happiness with Biden. Republicans who say they are likely to vote are also showing much more enthusiasm as regards their participation in the upcoming election than their counterparts. These numbers too suggest support for the president’s re-election is being under-estimated rather than reported accurately even if the numbers in the national surveys say what they say.


The Dialectic of Woke

Why politically correct institutions cave to Communist China

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Last week a few sharp-eyed members of the audience for Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan noticed something ugly in the credits. The film’s producers thanked, among others, the publicity department of the “CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee” as well as the “Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security.” These are the same political and disciplinary institutions that oppress China’s Uighur minority. Disney cooperated with them without batting an eye.

But Disney is more than happy to call attention to human-rights abuses in the United States. Since George Floyd died in police custody earlier this year, the corporation and its subsidiaries, including ABC and ESPN, have issued statements in support of Black Lives Matter. The House of Mouse has reaffirmed its commitment to the ideology and practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nor is Disney the only film studio to ignore repression in the People’s Republic of China while embracing the cause of social justice at home. They all do it. The question is why.

Part of the reason is parochialism. Americans just don’t care very much about what happens in other countries. Another motivation is profit. All companies desire access to the largest possible markets. Angering the Chinese Communist Party, or violating the tenets of political correctness, endangers the bottom line. Meanwhile the legitimacy of political, cultural, and economic institutions, including the corporation, has come into question. To ensure their survival, corporations must conform to the values and regulations of host societies and governments. That means playing nice with China, embracing “stakeholder capitalism,” and adopting the teachings of Ibram X. Kendi.

Selective indignation is not new. What’s striking about this latest version is its zones of prevalence. The sectors of the economy most wedded to the view that American society is systemically racist—entertainment, sports, media, tech—are the least concerned with the real and concrete injustices of the antidemocratic and hostile Chinese regime. This is the woke dialectic: dissent in America, acquiescence to China.

Just as people became aware of Mulan’s complicity in injustice, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences promulgated a complicated set of ethnic, racial, and sexual quotas that films must meet in order to become eligible for the best picture Oscar. “The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is committed to building an antiracist, inclusive organization that will contextualize and challenge dominant narratives around cinema, and build authentic relationships with diverse communities,” read part of the statement announcing the rules. But the Academy is less interested in contextualizing and challenging the absence of civil and political rights elsewhere. In 2013 it was happy to accept $20 million from one of China’s largest multinationals.

The NBA is no different. Its front offices, coaches, and athletes are among the most progressive in the country. Social justice messages adorn players’ uniforms. “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the court. LeBron James has leveraged his celebrity to earn further political concessions from the league, including the transformation of arenas into polling places on Election Day. But James has also made embarrassing comments regarding the conflict between democracy and autocracy in Hong Kong. And the league itself carries the shameof having operated training facilities in Xinjiang.

The Washington Free Beacon has shown that the same newspapers that devote so much space to advancing America’s racial reckoning (and whose foreign desks often report on the foulness of China’s dictatorship) also accepted millions from the Chinese government to run propaganda. The same company, Alphabet, that earlier this year announced millions in donations to social justice nonprofits expressed no qualms in 2017 when it opened an AI research center in China.

In other words, the same businesses that promote the progressive reconstruction, radical reform, or transformation of the United States are intertwined with the revisionist great power that aims to replace the United States as global hegemon. This synthesis of the woke dialectic lends an additional meaning to the term “allyship.” And it is why champions of individual rights, equality under the law, due process, and pluralism stand athwart both political correctness at home and authoritarianism abroad.


On 9/11, We Failed to Remember

By Peter RoffNewsweek

9/11 flag
The National 9/11 Flag, an American flag recovered nearly destroyed from Ground Zero, is viewed at the 9/11 Museum in New York City (Photo by Spencer Platt) GETTY

“Never forget.”

That’s what we all said nearly twenty years ago while struggling to cope with our grief. Since the days of George Washington, we’d thought of ourselves as more or less removed from what he called “messy, foreign entanglements,” protected from the rest of the world by two great oceans and divine providence.

We’d jumped into the thicket a time or two. America saved the world at least twice during the 20th century, probably three times given our willingness to contest an expensive, global Cold War which occasionally turned hot in places like Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East at the cost of our greatest treasure: the young men and women sent to fight.

Was it strange that we never asked to be thanked for it? No, that’s just the way we are. We want to live our lives in peace, left alone to make our own choices, secure in our liberties as God gave them to us. We flirted with the building of empires but that really wasn’t for us. We wanted to be, and often were, the good example for others to follow.

Then came 9/11. A group of religious fanatics hijacked four U.S.-flagged airliners, turning them into flying missiles aimed straight at the heart of our political and commercial institutions. Two of them hit New York’s Twin Towers with such explosive force the buildings crumbled to the ground as if they were made of sand.

A third jetliner reportedly headed for the White House crashed instead into the Pentagon. On the fourth plane, the passengers who’d learned what had happened on the other three revolted against their captors. The ensuing struggle meant their plane, instead of piercing the dome of the U.S. Capitol as planned, broke apart in a field in Pennsylvania.

“Never forget,” we said afterward. “Never forget the everyday Americans and the others from all walks of life who perished that day,” we said. “The people who represented the multitude of differences between Americans but were, for a brief moment, united by their humanity.”

“Never forget,” we said about the first responders from the police and fire departments and emergency techs in New York City, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and rural Pennsylvania who came to the aid of those injured, dying, or dead. Especially those who died that day because their jobs had them rushing into the burning buildings rather than out of them.

America, we forgot—and we should be ashamed.

Over the last decade, we’ve watched as the nation turned in on itself. First responders are being shunned, even assassinated. In California this past weekend, so-called peaceful protestors gathered outside the hospital where two Los Angeles County deputies who’d been ambushed were being treated, shouting their hopes the officers would die.

This didn’t start with Donald Trump. This didn’t start with Barack Obama. It started outside politics, in the American culture where somehow we’ve been divided up, piecemeal, into groups airing grievances. Left or right, it makes no difference. We’ve allowed ourselves to be pitted against one another, and we should be ashamed.

We’ve forgotten that in America each life matters. We’re all created equal, as individuals, not assigned at birth into groups because of skin color, economic status, education, or biological sex. We are an imperfect nation, to be sure, but almost certainly less imperfect than any other.

The fanatics responsible for the murder of more than 3,000 of our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers on that dark day nineteen years ago didn’t attack us in protest of the country’s history of systemic racism. Or because women get paid less on average than men. Or because some people think you should have to show a government-issued photo ID that proves you are who you say you are before you can exercise your right to vote. Pick any complaint you want; it isn’t why America was attacked.

We were attacked because, out of all the nations of the world, America stands for the idea that all men and women are by their birthright free and should be treated equally under the law. We were attacked because of our ideas about religious liberty—that different faiths can coexist respectfully and peacefully—and because we believe women have just as much right as men to pursue an education. And for many other reasons, all of which have to do with what is best about us, because of the ideas that make our civilization strong. We are one nation and, fundamentally, we all matter. In the heat of the moment, we’ve forgotten that. Yet rather than dwell much longer on our errors, let’s come together in our strengths to make this nation all it can be, for now and for generations to come.


Biden: ‘Firmly Planted to the Left’

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America via Wikimedia Commons

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s deliberately projecting a moderate image in his campaign against President Donald J. Trump, was accused Monday of being “firmly planted to the left” by Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel.

Ms. McDaniel, the niece of one-time GOP presidential nominee Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, told FBN’s Stuart Varney that Biden, to win the backing of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other hard-left leaders in the Democratic Party, had positioned himself well outside the mainstream of U.S. politics in his latest effort to win the White House. 

“I do think he is firmly planted in the left,” the top RNC official said, citing Biden policies that would raise taxes and abolish jobs in the U.S. energy industry to underscore her point. Rather than be vague or misleading about his intentions as he has been doing, she said it would be fairer to the voters if the onetime U.S. Senator from Delaware went “on the road with Bernie and AOC” to talk about his real agenda.

Objectively, Biden is running farthest to the left of any Democrat seeking the presidency since Michael Dukakis ran in 1988. After famously bragging that he was a “card-carrying member of the ACLU” and defending the controversial state prison furlough program that allowed even those convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole to be allowed out on weekend passes, the former Massachusetts governor ended up losing the popular vote to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in what amounted to an Electoral College landslide. 

Biden has vowed to roll back the recent tax cuts that sparked considerable job creation and growth in the U.S. economy before the economic lockdowns instituted in many states because of the onset of the novel coronavirus brought on a recession. He’s also pledged to end fracking, which would severely threaten America’s new-found energy independence, expand Obamacare, and has suggested he would abolish the federal law preventing labor unions from requiring workers to join them as a condition of employment. He’s also suggested that as president he would push for the repeal of the so-called “Hyde Amendment” that prohibits federal dollars from being used directly to fund abortions.

The political potency of the abortion issue, which generally adheres to the benefit of candidates who take what is known as “the right to life” position, will be tested in the upcoming election. Trump has made his opposition to abortion rights a cornerstone of both his campaign and his presidency, pointing frequently to the number of judges he has appointed to the federal bench whom he believes are in sync with his thinking on the issue. Stunningly, several recent polls suggest that Biden is nonetheless gaining support among Catholics and self-described evangelicals who the abortion issue is a major motivating factor in determining how they will vote. 

Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, are also on the leftward edge of the gun issue. During the campaign, both have talked openly about banning the private ownership of certain kinds of weapons and accessories like high-capacity magazines as well as suggesting they are willing to consider confiscation of firearms already in private hands.


Secretary Of Education Betsy DeVos Issues Final Rule Protecting Religious Liberty On College Campuses

By Jordan DavidsonThe Federalist

Secretary Of Education Betsy DeVos Issues Final Rule Protecting Religious Liberty On College Campuses

The Department of Education published a final rule Wednesday that expands religious liberty protections on college campuses and allows DOE to suspend or cut federal funding from colleges that violate the First Amendment.

Known as the “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities” final rule, it ensures the equal treatment of religious student groups at public universities, and “provides clarity for faith-based institutions with respect to Title IX.”

“This administration is committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of students, teachers, and faith-based institutions. Students should not be forced to choose between their faith and their education, and an institution controlled by a religious organization should not have to sacrifice its religious beliefs to participate in Department grants and programs,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

If public universities fail to give religious student groups the same rights as other campus organizations, such as use of campus facilities and access to student fee funding, they could lose federal funding.

The final rule also seeks to promote “free inquiry” and to protect “academic freedom” on college campuses. “Denying free inquiry is inherently harmful at any institution of higher education because students are denied the opportunity to learn and faculty members are denied the opportunity to freely engage in research and rigorous academic discourse,” the rule reads.

In extreme cases of First Amendment violations, DOE can determine a university is ineligible for future grants. Private universities can also face the same consequences if found violating their own speech codes.

“These regulations hold public institutions accountable for protecting the First Amendment rights of students and student organizations, and they require private colleges and universities that promise their students and faculty free expression, free inquiry, and diversity of thought to live up to those ideals,” DeVos explained.

While the final rule claims that universities must allow for differing ideas and viewpoints on campus, it also gives private or religious institutions the freedom to adopt their own speech standards, so long as they comply with them.

“Religiously affiliated institutions, in freely exercising their faith, may define their free speech policies as they choose in a manner consistent with their mission,” the rule states.

The rule also states that “religious student organizations should be able to enjoy the benefits, rights, and privileges afforded to other student organizations at a public institution” as well.

The final rule will going into effect 60 days after the date of official publication in the Federal Register.


Where The World Is Heading To?

By Dr. Miklos RadvanyiFrontiers of Freedom

Even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the political, economic, financial, cultural, and moral health of the world have been quite unsettling.  Most importantly, for centuries there has existed a yawning gap politically  between nations whose constitutional foundations have been based on democratic principles and authoritarian states in which the participation of the people in their governments have been either non-existent or merely fictitious.  While in the former elected politicians have been accountable in regular intervals to their respective electorates, in the latter either a single dictator or a small minority have reduced the people to fearful, passive, indifferent, and easily corruptible masses.  Adding insult to injury, these authoritarian dictators have pretended to use their unlimited powers to transform their states from poverty stricken entities to developing and prosperous democracies.  In reality, their sole objective has been to maintain absolute power regardless of the short and long term harm and damage they have caused to the states they have ruled by ruthless brutality.

To wit, this wholesale demoralization on the state level has metastasized globally and has succeeded to corrupt every single international organization.  Presently, under the pretext of the notion of absolute equality of states and the aggressive promotion of multiculturalism, this spirit of authoritarianism threatens to annihilate the international order.  Furthermore, it is an axiom of every authoritarian dictatorship that a fellow power-crazed and corrupt state is a better partner than a cumbersome democracy.  Anti-democratic disposition, therefore, is an absolute sine qua non of acceptance into the club consisting of these malcontent collections of authoritarian dictatorships.  Naturally, under their wretched conditions, an almost unimaginable degree of cynicism, falsehood, ignorance, cruelty, and ruthlessness have flourished.  Logically, ideological subversion and psychological warfare have been the necessary global extensions of these authoritarian dictatorships, which comprise the majority of states in the world, to maintain their powers domestically as well as internationally.

Today, the whole world faces real turbulent times due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The decline and even the ruin of national wealth in many countries caused by the highly contagious disease, the expected world-wide recession and even depression, the initial and ongoing mistakes and errors of the various bureaucracies, and the lack of coordination in responding to the pandemic have all contributed to the feeling of uncertainty and outright fear across the globe.  In this situation, everyone suffers and will suffer.  Moreover, general discontent with governments, their bureaucracies, financial institutions, businesses will certainly lead to silent or open protests.  Conspiracy theories are already abound resulting in a spike of ethnic and religious hatred.  The circumstances are ripe for sowing ideological confusion, pernicious brainwashing, and even extremist revolutionary schemes.  The Communist Party of China and a colorful assortment of communist and socialist organizations throughout the world are pushing a mostly corrupted form of Marxism, hoping to capitalize on the peoples’ fresh misery.  As usual, they traffic in an all encompassing revolution that will overthrow capitalism and replace it with a perfect earthly paradise.  Conversely, the exploitation of the ubiquitous fear momentarily gripping the vast majority of the world’s population is equally dangerous to domestic as well as international tranquility.     

The world is in dire need of global political leadership and great statesmanship.  Contrary to the prevailing misplaced admiration, China is not ready, and will not be ready in the foreseeable future, to assume even a leading regional role in Asia.  Although President Xi Jinping might disagree, he is not a statesman.  Rather he is a tactician in the clothes of a dictator.  As a dictator for life, i.e. dictator perpetuus, he has accumulated an immense amount of power.  Simultaneously, his list of enemies has also grown exponentially.  On the one hand, he has continuously violated both his country’s constitution and the constitution of the Chinese Communist Party, of which he has repeatedly declared himself a faithful servant.  On the other hand,  even with his enormous powers, he has not been able to stop the slow erosion of his government’s powers in the periphery of the People’s Republic.  In this context, the continuing disintegration of the Party’s rule is a certainty.  Equally importantly, China’s economy has been in steady decline since 2010.  Furthermore, China’s finances are a mess, especially within its banking sector.  International overextension, mainly driven by President Xi’s personal ambitions and hubris, will only exacerbate China’s financial woes.  The undeniable fact that the COVID-19 virus originated in Wuhan will only add to his mounting problems and challenges.  Information disseminated by a multitude of officials and media personalities controlled tightly by the Chinese Communist Party, have been mostly lies and fictions.  Of course, having been conditioned by over seventy years of ruthless dictatorship,  the Chinese people have known better.

However, the least believers in the official propaganda have been those close to President Xi and his colleagues in the Politburo, their top advisers, attendants, and secretaries.  Not surprisingly, the most gullible individuals have been those foreigners whose knowledge of China is close to zero.  Starting with the corrupt and incompetent director general of the WHO and continuing with the multitude of  foreign politicians and journalists, they have been babbling on in unison about how great the Chinese government has been in managing of the coronavirus crisis.  Yet, most alarmingly for President Xi, the circumstances of the emergence of this new coronavirus have shed a very negative light on the most vaunted ancient and allegedly superior Chinese culture.  The ubiquitous existence of the “wet markets” are stark reminders of the devastating backwardness and periodic hungers of the destructive Mao era.  One does not have to possess prophetic qualities to predict that President Xi will fail in his quest to make China the premier superpower.  Moreover, it is almost certain that he will not remain the president for life.  During his reign and thereafter, China will experience major upheavals and perhaps even a bloody revolution.

Beyond the domestic repercussions, the People’s Republic of China and its Communist Party will certainly face a great and protracted backlash internationally.  The list of states demanding to hold China financially responsible for the pandemic and the resulting health, economic, and financial crises is growing daily.  In the likely case that China would refuse to pay off, based upon relevant court decisions, confiscations of Chinese properties across the globe must be initiated. Finally, the United States of America must lead the campaign to clean house at the WHO, beginning with the immediate removal of its corrupt and incompetent Director General, the Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.  

 Next in line is Russia or as it is officially designated the Russian Federation.  As in the case of President Xi, Vladimir Putin is not a statesman.  Like the former, the Russian president is also a tactician.  Although his declared lofty objective has been to restore Russia to its 20th century greatness, his real political ambition is to cling to power indefinitely.  Strategically, Russian politicians have been unable to overcome their geophobia, namely the fact that their territorially immense state stretches from continental Europe to deep into Asia.  This geopolitical reality historically has manifested itself in a psycho-ideological schizophrenia.  The resulting division between the so-called Westernizers and the Slavophiles has left Russia in a political, economic, and cultural vacuum.  This permanent oscillation between two cultures only gave the Russian people uninterrupted misery in the form of autocracy and dictatorship.  Byzantine Christianity merely exacerbated the basic characteristics of the Russian people, namely, deceit, dishonesty, falsehood, prevarication, superstition, and fatalism.  Putin’s Russia combines all these forces and characteristics into an old fashioned centralized autocracy, in which stagnation and arrested development will keep both the state and the people in shackles.  Fundamentally, Russia will never regain its 20th century international status.  Beyond its militarism, it will remain both economically and financially a second or even a third rate power.  

 In its current condition, the European Union is a barely functioning chaotic mess.  Unless its member states understand that the key to their survival as a powerful organization is a more perfect union based on undivided solidarity, the European Union’s political, economic, financial, monetary, and cultural disintegration can be predicted with high certainty.  Politically, the most important problem is the lack of leadership within and among the various institutions.  The European Council presently headed by Donald Tusk has been incapable of providing strategic guidance and of setting policy objectives.  The European Commission has been a bureaucratic bottleneck.  Its efficiency in implementing EU decisions and common policies has been abysmal.  The Council of the European Union, also known as the Council of Ministers, has always resembled more a marauding society than an organ of legislation and execution.  The European Parliament has traditionally been the weakest part of the European Union.  Its bloated membership and its many caucus groups have relegated the European Parliament to a veritable debating society with questionable legislative benefits.  

The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union might signal the beginning of a mass exodus from the organization.  The list of unhappy member states is long.  Perhaps with the exception of the founding members and the Scandinavian countries, all the other member states have registered their specific complaints and reservations against the political, financial, and economic policies of Brussels.  In short, the vision of a united Europe after two devastating wars was and is still very appealing.  Yet, in its current condition, the European Union is unbalanced and highly susceptible to real and imaginary dangers.

 One of these real dangers is financial.  The other closely related danger is the state of the economy.  The EURO and the economy have suffered from the fact that both have been designed as inflexible models, incapable of adjusting to changing circumstances.  Unlike the United States of America, China, Japan, Israel, South Korea, Singapore, and a score of other states, there is not a single new company within the European Union that is based on the emerging technologies of the fourth Industrial Revolution, such as Artificial Intelligence.

Compounding the economic stagnation, the single currency has not contributed to the promotion and a more efficient functioning of the single market.  As a result, the eurozone economies have shown anemic growth in the last three decades.  Even the quantitative easing (QE) of the European Central Bank (ECB) of the last ten years has run its course and has worn off before the pandemic.  The obvious solution would be to correct the inflexible structure within the monetary union.

As far as its defense and foreign policies are concerned, the European Union resembles another chaotic mess.  The so-called Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has remained an unfulfilled dream.  Disappointments with the competency and efficiency of various organizations of the European Union have caused Greece, Italy, and Spain to act upon their perceived national interests, often to the detriment of the common foreign policy objectives of the entire union.  Moreover, the newly admitted members of the now defunct Warsaw Pact have openly revolted against many foreign policy directives of the European Union.  In the extreme case of Hungary, its Prime Minister Viktor Orban has pursued a clearly revanchist foreign policy by awarding Hungarian citizenship and voting rights to ethnic Hungarians residing in the neighboring countries.  

Emerging anti-Americanism in the guist of anti-Trumpism has only aggravated the already existing tensions between the United States of America and the European Union.  Yet, these two powers are also allies in NATO.  They both need each other politically, economically, and militarily.  The overall effects of the pandemic call for a comprehensive conference with the objective of readjusting the relationship to the new realities of world politics and thus strengthening the alliance between the United States of America and the European Union.

The greater Middle East coupled with South-East Asia are real powder kegs.  Enormous domestic problems and challenges have weighed heavily on the politics and the histories of these regions.  Centuries old ethnic differences and pigheaded grievances return to inform policies in predictable intervals.  Historically, every minority in these two regions has been a volcano ready to erupt at any moment.  Religious hostilities disguised as political controversies have been tearing apart families, clans, tribes, societies, and nations to the detriment of their political and economic progress.  Added to this mix of enduring miseries are the personal ambitions and hubrises of political leaders that as a rule do not tolerate any competition.  Turkey’s Erdogan is feuding with the Islamic Republic of Iran on politics and religion.  He also fights the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the leadership of the Sunni world.  Meanwhile, the Arabs do not want to return to the past 1918 Ottoman domination, in which the former were treated as less than second class citizens of an Empire.  And then there is the Islamic Republic of Iran.  A country that was Islamicized by the sword of the Arabs but succeeded to maintain its Persian character and language.  Having had adapted a minority version of Islam in the mid-17th century to fight the Sunni Ottoman Empire, the Shi’a religious establishment have fought hard since 1979, to regain Iran’s historic glory and influence.  

Meanwhile, the leading Arab states are facing mounting domestic pressures and international challenges.  The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is struggling to modernize, while its oil revenues are on the decline.  Egypt is on the verge of political and economic bankruptcy and total financial ruin.  Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan have been destroyed by the ongoing civil wars.  Algeria and Sudan are oscillating between military rule and attempts at civilian transition.  

Foreign interference has only exacerbated these situations.  None of the intervening powers has contributed to the solution of any major problem in these two regions.  On the contrary, they only added new complications to the already existing predicaments.  To expect any meaningful changes in the near or longer term is futile.  Thus, the greater Middle East and South-East Asia will remain the two regions ready to explode.  A second so-called “Arab Spring,” more bloody and more transitional than the first in the near future is a real possibility.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, drew out most of the states of the African continent of their collective socialist slumber.  However, this hiatus did not last long.  Instead of putting their political houses in order, most of these states reverted back to mild or strict authoritarianism.  In this process, they have succumbed to the corrupting influence of Chinese bribes to the detriment of the present and the future of their peoples.  Presently, African rulers are busy propping up their autocracies, while keeping the bulk of their nations as near to the lowest degree of miserable existence as possible.  Under these conditions, no person could develop his or her abilities without losing every vestige of human dignity,  independence, and individuality.  

 The overall picture is not much better in Central and South America.  Mismanagement, corruption, organized criminal syndicates, and masses with mentalities of slaves have rendered the states of the southern hemisphere teetering on the verge of political, economic, and financial abyss.  As a consequence, the numbers of peoples voting with their feet and storming the northern borders are staggering.  In spite of the new USMCA, the possibility of Mexico turning the corner politically, economically, and financially are fairly slim.  The other large South American states, such as Brazil and Argentina are also in dire political, economic and financial conditions.  Even Chile, the poster child of the past of good governance, has descended lately into a protracted political chaos.

 Indubitably, the only power that could lead a worldwide recovery from the current economic and financial malaise is the United States of America.  Although the outbreak of COVID-19, the coronavirus, has been unexpected in its scope and gravity, domestically the Trump Administration has mostly taken the right steps in a timely fashion to curb and mitigate the effects of this pandemic.  The closing of the borders, the creation of the Coronavirus Task Force headed by the Vice President, the enhancing of public private partnerships, the stimulus packages, the actions of the Federal Reserve, the harnessing of the nation’s scientific, technological, and manufacturing potential, the rapid increase of tests, and the establishment of daily consultations with the governors, all have contributed to the saving of lives.  What is needed now is an exit strategy that will hopefully help the United States of America to move forward by speedily returning to normalcy.  Mainly, people must return to work and children to the schools.  

Encouragingly the leaders of this nation have been setting a good example.  From the daily press briefings at the White House one can surmise that the President, the Vice President, and members of the Task Force understand that the fight against the coronavirus is a learning process, and that mistakes made must not be repeated.  Moreover, the stimulus packages and all other measures taken are designed to strengthen the free market by not favoring special groups but the nation at large.  In other words, financial and economic assistance is not based on the strength of the players but on what the national economy needs.  Finally, the way the Trump Administration has managed the coronavirus crisis has shown the rest of the world the quality of leadership and the character of the American nation.

For the United States of America the question now is:  What in addition needs to be done domestically and internationally?  For starters, the coronavirus pandemic is not just a political, economic, financial, and health crisis.  It is equally important to recognize that the COVID-19 has also unleashed a psychological crisis.  To put it more succinctly:  the coronavirus pandemic has shaken the entire world and within it almost every large and small community.  For these reasons, the recovery measures in the United States of America must be created with a global perspective in mind.  Within this global framework solutions must be formulated by strategic thinking.  This strategy, in turn, must be based on what the national and the global economies require and not on the political influence and relative economic strength of the players.  The rebuilding of the shrinking middle class is imperative.  Otherwise, the next crisis will destroy the American economy.  Equally important is the need to strengthen the relationship between the politicians and the scientific community.  Finally, citizens must vote for politicians with creative ideas and not for political hacks whose only concern is to grab power and cling to it at any cost to the present and the future detriment of the nation.

Internationally, the United States of America is still looking for its place in the world.  This search takes place in a world that lacks enduring guiding principles.  Presently, nothing is stable.  Everything is changeable and replaceable.  Consequently, chaos and anarchy are mounting.  Disorders are ready to explode into bloody civil wars, regional armed conflicts are multiplying, and even the specter of a larger worldwide confrontation is not out of the question.  Under these multiple threats merely managing international affairs is not enough.  Successive Republican and Democrat administrations have failed to build on the international successes of the Reagan Administration in the 1980s.  Political appointments have been made in the State Department as well as on the ambassadorial levels that have harmed American foreign policy and the global reputation of the United States of America.  Civil servants at the State Department have also been hired based on their political leanings and personal connections than their professional abilities.  Ambassadors have been rewarded exclusively for their political contributions to presidential campaigns without questioning their suitability to represent the United States of America in the designated country.  This practice must be stopped.  Otherwise, the United States of America will be considered either unserious or a nation of morons across the globe.  Collectively, these individuals cannot inform knowledgeably the policy makers in the federal and local governments.

The multitude of international organizations, starting with the United Nations, must be paid more attention.  Discipline must be enforced.  Rogue states with outlandish actions must be punished immediately and severely, mostly through economic and financial actions.  NATO must be reformed and its cohesion must be strengthened.  Those member states that deviate from the political and joint security interests of the organization must be forced to fall in line.  The relationship with the European Union must be taken more seriously.  Particularly, in light of the present condition of the organization, the White House must rethink its globalist approach and begin to deal more intensively with the individual states.

The bilateral relationship with the People’s Republic of China must also be reevaluated.  Instead of viewing it through the fog of five or three thousand years of idealized culture, China must be judged by its past failures and its 20th century misery.  Even the successes of the post-Deng era must be objectively analyzed.  In particular the role of the Chinese Communist Party that has proven its inflexibility concerning the country’s political and economic progress.  The demise of the Soviet Union might provide a fair indication regarding the future prospects of the People’s Republic of China.  In this context, to designate China as an enemy does not really help in formulating a coherent American policy.  Clearly, Beijing cannot continue taking advantage of Washington and Brussels the old ways.  Its expansionist designs must be countered, curbed, and stopped.  Its corruption as a tool of foreign policy must be exposed.  The inherent racism of the Chinese must be revealed.  The false propaganda concerning its successes must be shown to be mostly lies.  The substandard quality of Chinese manufactured products must be unmasked.  The United States of America must stop relying on the cheap Chinese labor.  Manufacturing must be brought back, especially for strategic goods.  Otherwise, cooperation where it is mutually beneficial must be maintained and expanded.

In the greater Middle East Iran must be contained without humanistic consideration.  The Mullahcracy, particularly an Islamic Republic of Iran armed with nuclear weapons, must be eliminated.  The Arab world must be helped to sort out its many problems and challenges.  However, getting again involved in the many internal squabbles and rivalries must be stopped.  Russia and  Turkey will fail abysmally in their quests to benefit from the present chaos and anarchy.  The special relationship with the state of Israel must be further strengthened.The only true meaning of a superpower is a system of government that serves as a positive example to the rest of the world.  Therefore, the objective domestically must be to strengthen the constitutional principles of the Republic.  Within this democratic framework, there is no rational reason to experiment or modify the political and spiritual realms of the nation.  Conversely, states across the globe have made repeated attempts at experimenting and modifying their political and spiritual realms.  As Italian Fascism, German National Socialism, and Soviet Communism were rejected and defeated in the 20th century, the fashionable cannons of the early 21st century, such as the idiotic doctrine of political correctness, the self-serving call for social justice, and the rallying cry for ersatz human rights, will also end up in the proverbial dustbin of history.  In a peaceful and stable world no social policies that contradict the historic traditions of the majority of nations can be sustained for a long time.  Due to these factors, the United States of America will continue to remain the shining light of the world throughout the 21st century and beyond, unless the American people will decide otherwise.


Cancel Culture Comes to Cronkite

The journalism school at Arizona State University caves to student activists.

By BRIAN ANDERSONNational Review

Walter Cronkite during a forum at the Kennedy Library in Boston, Mass., in 2005. (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

Walter Cronkite said on receiving a global-governance award in 1999: “I am in a position to speak my mind. And that is what I propose to do.”

Today, those who attend the journalism school named after the famed broadcaster are not so lucky.

The spread of “cancel culture” in newsrooms — declaring people henceforth “canceled” from society owing to ideological disagreements — is nothing new. Look no further than the hysterical reaction to Senator Tom Cotton’s New York Times op-ed urging government to use its authorities under the Insurrection Act to “restore order to our streets” amid riots and looting. Newsroom activists flooded Twitter, objecting to its publication. The opinion editor was forced out. And the Times attached a note at the top of the op-ed (nearly 40 percent as long as the piece itself) apologizing for daring to publish the opinion of a sitting U.S. senator.

It was entertaining that Cotton’s tame commentary provoked such a disproportionate meltdown from those who consider themselves serious journalists. But that this scourge is seeping into local campus newsrooms is deeply worrisome — and seep it has.

The first sign of cancel culture bubbling up at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication involved Sonya Duhé, whom the university named dean this spring. Her tenure was cut short almost instantly after she published a tweet praying for “the good police officers who keep us safe.”

The protest-allied campus revolted against the incoming dean’s “racist” tweet and provoked a former student to accuse Duhé of committing “four years of microaggressions” against her. Other students would come forward to allege that she had made similar “microaggressive comments” to them.

It wasn’t one week before the Cronkite School revoked its offer and pledged to be more “inclusive” moving forward.

Things have only gotten worse — and, now that administrators have gotten used to the sweet taste of cancel culture, it appears that student journalists themselves are on the dinner plate.

When Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS, published a poll following a May looting spree in Scottsdale, progressive students complained that the poll’s language was too friendly toward police officers — so Cronkite News folded to the pressure. It deleted the poll and apologized for causing “divisiveness”: “It was not our intention to downplay the actions of law enforcement.”

When a second young journalist published a Q&A with a former police officer in June, students complained that this exchange also was too friendly. Once again, Cronkite News folded to the pressure. It wiped the Q&A offline and replaced it with an apologetic note pledging to “better serve and represent our communities, especially the black community and other communities of color.”

The list goes on.

The most recent “cancel” target is Rae’Lee Klein, a young journalist at the Cronkite School’s Blaze Radio. After the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., Klein, on her personal Twitter account, linked to a New York Post investigation and wrote: “Please read this article to get the background of Jacob Blake’s warrant. You’ll be quite disgusted.”

Progressive students were apoplectic. The board voted to remove her as station manager, threatened to resign if she did not, and released a statement from “Blaze Radio alumni” condemning her for trying to “dehumanize and insinuate blame on the victims of police violence.”

Luckily, Klein has refused to resign or succumb to this cancel culture flare-up, explaining on-air her decision to push back against “a situation where our opinions and our beliefs are held against us or [are] characteristic of our ability to lead.”

While she plants her feet, other young journalists at ASU understandably are reaching for the escape hatch. In August, two such undergraduates founded The Western Tribune, an “independent student journalism” website, as a home to “the oft unheard voices of our generation.” They won’t be the last.

These campus newsrooms are a means for tomorrow’s leaders to write down, or say out loud, the opinions they’ve been keeping in their minds and to see if those ideas stand up to the scrutiny of the real world. These young ideas rarely do — and the invaluable lesson that students glean from that realization will be lost forever if administrators cut them off at the knees by continuing to appease oversensitive cry-bullies whose antics threaten these vital sandboxes.

If things continue as they do, soon there will be no conservatives left to cancel, and progressive journalists will only be left to cancel themselves like a scorpion stinging itself to death.

And that’s the way it will be.


The Charter School Advantage

A new study shows African-Americans and children from poorer backgrounds outpace their peers in traditional district schools.

By Paul E. Peterson and M. Danish ShakeelThe Wall Street Journal

A student at Miami Community Charter School in Flagler City, Fla., Aug. 31.
PHOTO: MATIAS J. OCNER/ZUMA PRESS

Public charter schools were once viewed as a nonpartisan compromise between vouchers for private schools and no choice at all. Not now. In its 2020 national platform, the Democratic Party calls for “stringent guardrails to ensure charter schools are good stewards” and says federal funding for charters must be conditioned on “whether the charter will systematically underserve the neediest students.” Charter schools are indeed acting as good stewards by outpacing district schools on achievement growth—especially for the most at-risk students.

In a new study we compare the progress made by cohorts of charter and district school students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress from 2005-17—a sample of more than four million test performances. Overall, students at charters are advancing at a faster pace than those at district schools. The strides made by African-American charter students have been particularly impressive. We also see larger gains at charters, relative to district schools, by students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.

Sometimes known as “the nation’s report card,” the NAEP administers math and reading tests every other year to representative samples of fourth- and eighth-grade students in all 50 states. Ours is the first study to use this vast storehouse of information to analyze changes over time in the charter and district sectors. By adjusting for student background characteristics—sex, ethnicity, income, and (for eighth-grade students) computer availability and the number of books in the home—we made direct comparisons between student outcomes at charter and district schools. Because NAEP data don’t allow us to track specific students, we looked at changes in performance from one student cohort to the next over 12 years. 

In 2003 an exploratory precursor to these NAEP surveys revealed that the average performance in reading and math of fourth-grade students attending charter schools trailed that of students attending district schools. When these results became public, the finding garnered widespread media attention.

Much has happened since then. For one thing, the charter sector has grown to include 6% of all U.S. public-school students—up from 2%. Just as important, we are now able to report that student achievement at charters has been rising at a considerably faster pace than at district schools. Nationwide, eighth-graders attending charter schools show learning gains over students at district schools amounting to three months of learning from 2005-17. The differences between charters and district schools is smaller at the fourth-grade level. 

Relative to district schools, the most striking gains at charters are for African-American students, who constitute about 30% of the charter-school student population nationwide. Even after adjustments for background characteristics, their achievement gains in eighth grade exceed those at district schools by about six months of learning. African-American student performance in fourth grade rose by an extra four months of learning. Progress at charters by white students was more measured. Gains for charter-school student cohorts were two months of learning above those in the district sector. 

Eighth-grade student cohorts from poor families are also making more-rapid progress at charters than at district schools. The scores of those in the bottom 25% of the socioeconomic distribution increased nearly twice as much as those of students in the district sector. 

The charter advantage isn’t universal—Asian-American and Hispanic students are doing equally well in both sectors, as are students in the Western U.S. more generally. But the sizable gains for African-Americans and students from poorer backgrounds bolster President Trump’s claim that school choice is a civil-rights issue. Much more progress needs to be made to close the achievement gap. But if charters haven’t resolved social divides, they have proved to be a healthy tonic for the American educational system. Charters are improving outcomes even without the “stringent guardrails” proposed by the Democrats.


Cohen’s Hit on Trump Misses in a Big Way

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

IowaPolitics.com via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Cohen seems to believe his former boss threw him under the bus. If he did, it was only because the man called Donald J. Trump’s one-time “fixer” was standing in front of it at the time. Now, disgraced, disbarred, and in need of money, he’s written a book and is trying to get even.

Good luck with that. The public may be eating up what the major media is hyping in some detail but everything Cohen has to say, no matter how vile, won’t have much of an effect on the upcoming election. Neither will anything the other salacious books say about him – and that includes the books written by his niece, by a former confidant of the first lady, and by former members of his administration. As far as his conduct in business and in office is concerned, the president is bulletproof.

The country knows Trump and the voters have made up their minds. They either love him or hate him, with not much space in between. Some consider him the savior of a nation rapidly descending into permanent decline. Others see him as the cause of the decline. Either way, one more book about what a bad guy he is and who and why people might have gotten paid off and whatever else Cohen mentions in his book won’t move the needle.

Character counts, not just for the president but for the people who cover and criticize him in the public square. Cohen’s skirts aren’t exactly clean, which raises plenty of issues about whether anything he has to say now can be trusted. After all, he’s currently confined to his home while serving out a three-year sentence for tax evasion, violating campaign finance rules, and lying to Congress.

Cohen may have his regrets but most of them probably have more to do with getting caught than with any genuine pangs of conscience. Maybe he’s a transformed person but that doesn’t explain why he stayed in his employ for so long if Trump was so evil as to merit being called, among other things a “cult leader” and a “mob boss”.

Rather than take Cohen and the other “tell-allists” at their word we ought to be at least considering their motivations even if we don’t go into as much detail as the investigations of the president have. These former associates have, alongside the anonymous sources and so-called whistleblowers who’ve helped populate the pages of the daily paper with powerful allegations of political and presidential misconduct throughout the entire Trump administration, imperiled not just a presidency but the nation and the constitutional process.

Are these attacks coordinated? Probably. It takes more imagination than most people have to believe the way they all dovetail together to the benefit of the Democrats – especially to Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden – is mere coincidence. Most people believed Hillary Clinton when she blamed a “vast, right-wing conspiracy” for the problems her husband experienced while in office. Is it therefore that much of a stretch to believe a similar but ideologically opposite group are at work now?


The Belarus Uprising: A Repeat of Ukraine?

The United States should be prepared to act if Putin tries to repeat in Belarus what he did in Ukraine.

By Russell A. Berman, Kiron K. SkinnerThe National Interest

Image: Reuters

America’s great power competitors, China and Russia, are pushing back against the free world. China’s arc stretches from Hong Kong and the South China Sea through the Himalaya border with India and along the Belt and Road intrusions far into Europe. Its debt-trap strategy on the African continent is binding ever more governments to it. Meanwhile, Russia continues its expansionism from Syria, through Crimea and the Donbass all the way to Libya. Across these vast regions, they trample on democracy and the rule of the law, with the ultimate intention of pushing back against American influence. Belarus is becoming the latest theater of competition. Washington should make it unambiguously clear that Russian meddling against the democratic will of the Belorussian people will not stand.

President Donald Trump has succeeded in keeping out of new wars. His firm declaration of his intent to safeguard American national interests has held adversaries at bay, and he has maintained a strong enough defense posture so as not to have to respond to provocations, such as from Iran. Yet an aggressive move by Russia in Belarus on the scale of what took place in Ukraine would be another matter altogether. It is urgent for the United States to underscore how serious the consequences will be if Moscow takes an adventurist wrong step. Vladimir Putin should not think that he can occupy Minsk the way Brezhnev occupied Prague—but the United States should be prepared to act if he tries. This requires mobilization on multiple levels.

First, it is urgent to launch intensive diplomatic consultation with all the NATO members. The transatlantic alliance is not in the best of shape at the moment, to say the least. Some European allies bear a lot of the blame. The world just witnessed the vote of the Security Council where England, France and Germany chose to abstain from extending the arms embargo on Iran, as if more arms in the hands of the Mullahs will bring peace to the Middle East. The E3 are clearly upset at the Trump administration on a range of issues. Plus, European leaders tend to underestimate security threats. In contrast though, the prospect of Russian troops marching through Belarus to the border of the EU may prompt them to think again about the need for a robust defense cooperation. A repeat of the Yugoslav wars may be looming in the European northeast, including another wave of refugees, and Europeans will have to rediscover how much they need the transatlantic alliance. It is time for Washington’s diplomatic corps to be reminding them of the dangers in their neighborhood.

Second, diplomacy has to lay the groundwork for a suspension of the 1997 NATO Russia Founding Act. That post-Cold War document was premised on a non-adversarial relationship with Russia, and the expectation that Russia would contribute to European stability, democracy and peace. Moscow has broken that agreement time and again, in Ukraine, through assassinations in the United Kingdom and in Germany, and through the suppression of democratic forces domestically. The hour has long passed when NATO and the U.S. in particular should be reticent about stationing troops in the Central European countries that became free after 1989. NATO’s European members should hear America make that case and join in supporting defense build ups along the new eastern front that stretches from Estonia to Bulgaria. That troop repositioning will take considerable diplomatic and logistical efforts. The time to start is now. The decision to move troops from Germany to Poland is an auspicious first start.

Third, precisely those eastern flank countries need clear reassurance of American support. Fortunately, the Trump administration has succeeded in building firmer ties in this “new Europe,” but more could be done. A ministerial level gathering in Washington in the fall, including leaders from the Baltics, the Visegrad four, Rumania and Bulgaria would be an opportunity to signal Washington’s firm commitment to friends in those countries and to counteract the Kremlin disinformation campaign that is persistently active and outstrips the State Department’s own meager communication strategies. Yet of equal importance, a Washington gathering of the partners in Eastern Europe would signal to the world that the front line of freedom will not be surrendered to Putin’s addiction to military adventures abroad.

Fourth, it is time as well to pressure “old Europe,” especially the former front-line state, Germany, to live up to its commitments. At stake is not only the evergreen problem of burden-sharing, German underspending on defense. Even more glaring is Berlin’s persistence in collaboration with Russia on projects like the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, despite objections of its European neighbors, despite Crimea, and despite killings carried out by Russian agents in Berlin, nearly in the shadow of the Chancellery. Germany should use its considerable influence in Moscow to forestall any meddling. To do so, it could make completion and operation of the pipeline contingent on Russia staying out of Belarus. Putin already has too much foreign fighting on his hands.

Belarus is part of the European theater, but it is also a piece of the encompassing global competition. Weakness in Northeast Europe will tempt adversaries in East Asia. One has to plan for worst case scenarios: a conventional Russian advance in Belarus could be followed by a Chinese move on Hong Kong or even Taiwan. Preventing such catastrophic developments requires clear expressions of commitment, fortifying our alliance and building a defense posture appropriate to today’s circumstances, not to the last war.


Workers’rights in the 21st century: Unions and Conscious Capitalism

Is there still a place for labor at the table of a “Conscious” company?

By Larry Fedewa, Ph.D.DrLarryOnline.com

My first experience with a union came when I represented the newsroom’s intention to hold a vote for a union to the publisher of a national weekly newspaper. I had a summer job there after my first year as a high school teacher.

Later, as a training developer, I wrote, produced, and oversaw one of the largest industrial training programs in history for the Railway Labor Executives’ Association (a council of all major rail union presidents). I also executed major projects for the Federal Railroad Administration, AMTRAK, Conrail, and others. Still later, I worked very closely with the National Education Association, the professional teachers’ union in a major joint venture, a national research project, and addresses to two national conventions.

The reason I mention all this background is to establish my position as an ardent supporter of the labor movement. My comments come from a firm commitment to the need for workers to take their place at any table which determines their fate. The purpose of this essay is to explore a possible alliance between unions and “conscious” companies.

The first factor in this dialog would be the fact that “Conscious Capitalism” promotes the most expansive view of workers’ rights ever to be advocated by corporate management in the history of capitalism. At last, workers are accorded the respect due to major stakeholders in the organization, whether a corporate giant or an entrepreneurial start-up. Almost always this means sharing in the profits of the company if not outright stock ownership.

This view of the business flows from an idealistic definition of the enterprise which includes, among other things, the function of profits as a necessary means to a greater good. The greater good is the mission of the firm as providing a community service through the sale of its goods or services. Conscious Capitalism challenges everyone in the organization to contribute to the fulfillment of this mission and provides the resources to do so.

Conscious Capitalists also tend to be anti-union.

Most believe with former Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, that unions introduce an adversarial relationship between management and labor which detracts from the collegial environment necessary for the Conscious Capitalist company to be successful.

True to that description, the unions argue that underneath the sheep’s clothing, Conscious Capitalists are really hiding their power to dictate and enforce their own definition of workers’ rights. The workers ultimately have to accept that definition or find another job. With every company defining workers’ rights in its own way, no standards will be set or recognized. This is just the same old thirst for power presented in modern dress.

So, what’s the answer? Is there a place for unions in a Conscious Capitalist company or not?

The first element of the answer is: if the employees want a union, there is a place for a union. During a transitional period such as the current one, there will continue to be employers who do not accept the new ways. The old paradigm of management versus labor will be in place and needs to be followed.

Over time. however, more and more companies will join the new movement – particularly since there is much evidence accumulating that indicates “Conscious” companies are substantially more successful financially.

In order to maintain its relevance, therefore, labor will have to adapt. The first step in that direction is to find a new answer to the question of a union’s role in a worker-friendly enterprise. Here are some ideas.

First, many companies will be trying to transition to the new style. Unions could help them succeed. But why not hire a consultant or new senior staff to guide the company in the new direction? These may be useful measures, but no one outside the organization has the same motivation and investment in success as the people working there now. However, they are generally as inexperienced as the owners.

Involvement of a knowledgeable and sympathetic third party can be welcome to all sides. However, the union must be truly invested in the cooperative approach in order to be credible. To achieve this posture, unions should be reaching out to the small but growing body of Conscious Capitalism experts. Honest discussions about sensitive issues will profit both sides.

Another role for unions in the new world of work we face is that of advocating national (and international) standards of what constitutes workers’ rights in this new century. As movements like Conscious Capitalism illustrate, 40-hour-workweeks, paid vacations, pensions and health care are not always enough to keep the economy going in the right direction.

Today’s workers want to be part of the company in new ways, ranging from profit-sharing, to shareholders, to open communication with governing bodies, including full financial disclosure, to a “cooperative culture”, and many other new practices. Workers want to be treated as persons, not robots.

This transitional period is reminiscent of the early days of the TQM (Total Quality Management) movement, which can be seen as an earlier step in this direction. The eagerness of workers to become involved in contributing their ideas and expertise to product development and manufacturing was often almost tangible. It revealed to many of us just how much talent had lain dormant in our workforce.

The contention here is, of course, that unions as well as management must embrace this new style of company culture as the means to solving our wealth gap between the rich and the middle class. The reduction of taxes and regulations of the Trump era are doing much to enhance the wages of the lowest income workers.

But from a macro view, the real challenge is to enrich the middle class, which is responsible for much of the consumer economy on which our national wealth ultimately depends. The Leftists want the government to use the tax system as the instrument for re-distributing America’s wealth from the very rich to everybody else (legal or illegal). That would weaken the individual’s motivation to work hard on which America’s free market capitalism has been built and which has created all this wealth.

Conscious Capitalism is an answer to the question of how we solve the wealth gap without turning to socialism. Union support – with an updated agenda – will help America achieve the right outcomes.


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