Jen Psaki Will Be Deposed in Censorship Lawsuit

Julie Kelly writes at American Greatness Jen Psaki: Investigations for Thee, But Not for Me.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

It’s beyond ironic that the mouthpiece for a regime proceeding with yet another punitive and vengeful investigation into Donald Trump wants to be shielded from an inquiry into her own misdeeds.

Former White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki, much like her old boss, is a big fan of investigations.

From her perch at the podium in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, Psaki routinely endorsed criminal, civil, and congressional inquiries into the events of January 6 and warned the individuals targeted—including Donald Trump and his former aides—that they must comply with the legal process.

Psaki announced that Biden would not extend executive privilege to his predecessor related to the January 6 select committee’s inquisition, giving investigators carte blanche access to all of Trump’s records for most of 2020—most of which had nothing to do with January 6. “We are, we have been working closely with congressional committees and others as they work to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th, an incredibly dark day in our democracy,” Psaki said in September 2021.

And anyone who defied congressional subpoenas, Psaki noted, could face criminal charges.

But Psaki, unsurprisingly, is taking a different approach now that she’s a defendant in a sprawling civil lawsuit seeking to uncover the federal government’s deep collaboration with Big Tech to suppress free speech and promote Biden’s political interests.

Psaki is one of more than five dozen current and former federal officials—including Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy—being sued by the states of Missouri and Louisiana for violating the First Amendment rights of American citizens.

Having threatened and cajoled social-media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left, senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social-media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social-media platforms under the Orwellian guise of halting so-called ‘disinformation,’ ‘misinformation,’ and ‘malinformation,’” the complaint reads. “Under the First Amendment, the federal Government should play no role in policing private speech or picking winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas. But that is what federal officials are doing, on a massive scale—the full scope and impact of which yet to be determined.”

The lawsuit cited numerous occasions when Psaki gloated about the White House’s partnership with social media platforms to ban content contradictory to the official narrative on COVID-19 and vaccines. For example, during a July 2021 press briefing with Surgeon General Murthy, Psaki publicly urged Facebook to deplatform accounts she considered purveyors of “health misinformation,” an alleged scourge that Murthy described as an “urgent public health threat.” Psaki made her expectations quite clear.

“[We] engage with [social media companies] regularly and they certainly understand
what our asks are,” Psaki bragged.

A few days later, Facebook banned the accounts Psaki had accused of spreading “misinformation.”

Now all of a sudden, Psaki doesn’t want to boast about how she strong-armed
Silicon Valley to do the regime’s bidding—especially under oath.

Judge Terry Doughty from the western district of Louisiana last month ordered Psaki to sit for a deposition, finding that the ex-spokeswoman “has personal knowledge about the issue concerning censorship across social media as it related to COVID-19 and ancillary issues of COVID-19.” Doughty further concluded that “any burden on Psaki is outweighed by the need to determine whether free speech has been suppressed.” On November 1, Psaki was served with a subpoena, ordering her to appear for a sworn deposition in Arlington, Virginia, near her home.

Psaki, however, doesn’t have time. The newly minted MSNBC contributor—Psaki is slated to host her own show on the network starting next year—is simply too swamped.

In a separate statement to the court, Psaki claimed that “sitting for a deposition in this matter would be extremely burdensome for me. Among other things, I understand that I would need to devote several days to preparing for the deposition, as well as attending the deposition itself, and that would be highly disruptive to both my work and my family.”

You don’t say!

Psaki’s interview also would create a big job for government lawyers who would need to determine “which of her conversations or recollections might be subject to executive privilege,” her legal team argued.

Setting aside the laughable hypocrisy of Psaki now invoking her status as a “private citizen” and “former senior official” when she offered no such consideration to Donald Trump, and further noting the hollowness of her complaints that a deposition would be far too time-consuming.  The notion is astonishing:  That somehow she is entitled to executive privilege, but a former president and his top aides including legal counsel are not.

Further, Psaki’s lawyers warned they will fight the production of “any Documents and Communications that relate to any member of the White House Communications Team or any other Federal Official communicating with Social-Media Platforms about Content on those Platforms.”

Funny how Psaki had no similar objection when she announced in October 2021 that the White House had ordered the transfer of thousands of Trump’s official records to the January 6 select committee.

Psaki’s lawyers attempted to bypass Judge Doughty. They filed a motion to quash the subpoena in the eastern district of Virginia, where Psaki lives and likely will sit for the deposition. But the Virginia judge wasn’t having any part of it, ordering the matter returned to the Louisiana court where the lawsuit originated.  In other words, the judge told Psaki to “circle back.”

It looks like Psaki has run out of options to avoid her scheduled
December 8 video-recorded deposition.

Which, by the way, Psaki wants under seal. Lawyers representing the eight officials ordered to be deposed asked Judge Doughty to issue a protective order on all recorded interviews, insisting that “civil servants—do not reasonably expect that they will be subjected to video-recorded, publicly disseminated cross-examination about the way that they carried out their job duties.”

Publicly releasing the videos, the lawyers said, creates a “significant likelihood that audiovisual recordings of federal employee depositions taken in this case will be manipulated or abused” and cherry-picked clips “will expose the deponents to undue harassment and invasions of privacy.”

Doughty partially granted their motion, sealing the taped depositions only until the interviews are docketed as discovery evidence before trial. “The public’s interest in access of this information is especially strong because this matter involves the [First] Amendment right to freedom of speech,” he wrote in a November 17 order.

It goes without saying—or should, at any rate—that a coordinated effort between the most powerful government officials and the most powerful information providers to silence and punish political dissent is a far greater “threat to democracy,” as they like to say, than what happened for a few hours on January 6.

And it’s beyond ironic that the mouthpiece for a regime proceeding with yet another punitive and vengeful investigation into Donald Trump wants to be shielded from an inquiry into her own misdeeds. Proof once again that accountability, transparency, and consequences only runs one way in Washington.

Background from previous post

Fed Govt./Big Tech Censorship Lawsuit Update: Senior Biden People Will Be Deposed

Zachary Stieber  reports at Epoch Times Judge Rejects Biden Administration’s Attempt to Block Depositions in Big Tech-Government Censorship Case.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, rejected a request for a partial stay of his Oct. 21 order authorizing the depositions of eight officials, including President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Government lawyers asked the judge to impose the partial stay as an appeals court weighs a request to vacate the part of his order that enables the depositions of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a Biden appointee; Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly, a Biden appointee; and Rob Flaherty, a deputy assistant to the president.

Absent a stay, “high-ranking governmental officials would be diverted from their significant duties and burdened in both preparing and sitting for a deposition, all of which may ultimately prove to be unnecessary if the Court of Appeals grants” their request, the government said.

Doughty ruled that the government failed to show how the officials would be irreparably harmed apart from referencing a diversion from “significant duties.” That didn’t meet the standard for showing irreparable harm, he said.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks during a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on July 15, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

From the Judge’s MEMORANDUM ORDER

For the reasons set forth herein, Federal Defendants’ Corrected Motion for Partial Stay is DENIED. (Excerpts in italics with my bolds.)

1. Surgeon General Murthy

Details regarding the allegations as to Murthy are set forth in the Memorandum Order Regarding Witness Depositions. Murthy was found to have first-hand knowledge by (1) publicly criticizing tech companies by asserting they were responsible for COVID-19 deaths due to their failure to censor “mis-information”; (2) issuing a Request for Information on March 2, 2022, requesting tech companies to provide him with “mis-information”; and (3) engaging in communication with high-level Facebook executives about greater censorship of COVID-19 “misinformation.”

Although Murthy was a high-ranking official, the potential burden imposed on Murthy was outweighed by the need to determine whether First Amendment rights of free speech have been suppressed. The Court found exceptional circumstances were present and that the substantive reasons for taking the deposition were sufficient.

2. CISA Director Jen Easterly

Details of the allegations as they relate to Easterly are set forth in the Memorandum Order Regarding Witness Depositions.  Easterly was found to have first-hand knowledge by (1) supervising the “nerve center” of federally directed censorship; (2) directly flagging alleged “misinformation” to social media companies for censorship; (3) stating that social media speech by Americans is a form of infrastructure that allows the CISA to police online speech; (4) being involved in extensive oral communications and meetings between CISA officials and social-media platforms; and (5) being personally involved in text messages specifically discussing how greater censorship of social-media platforms would be done by exerting federal pressure on social-media platforms to increase censorship.

The Court also conducted its analysis of Easterly as if she were a high-ranking official and found that her personal knowledge required her deposition. The Court further found that the burden upon her was outweighed by the need to determine whether First Amendment free speech rights are being suppressed. The Court found exceptional circumstances were present and that the substantive reasons for taking the deposition were sufficient.

3. White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty

Details of the allegations as to Flaherty are set forth in the Memorandum Order Regarding Witness Depositions. Flaherty was found to have first-hand knowledge by (1) having extensive oral meetings with social-media platforms including Twitter, Meta and You-Tube on vaccine hesitancy and combatting “mis-information”; (2) directly communicating with Meta’s director of U.S. Public Policy through “Covid Insight Reports” (which details trends/posts by social media users on Meta); (3) Meta’s reporting to Flaherty about Meta’s intentions to censor disfavored opinions about vaccine effectiveness for new groups for which vaccines were authorized; (4) having specific knowledge on Meta’s attempts to censor groups referred to by Flaherty as the “Disinformation Dozen”; and (5) being aware of the President-Elect-Joe Biden transition team’s efforts to stifle “mis-information” through Meta.

The Court also assumed that Flaherty was a high-ranking official and conducted its analysis
as such. It found special circumstances were present to take his deposition. The Court further found the burden upon Flaherty was outweighed by the need to determine whether First Amendment free speech rights are being suppressed; therefore, the substantive reasons for taking his deposition were sufficient.

For the reasons set forth herein, the Court also finds Federal Defendants are not likely to
succeed on the merits of their mandamus petition.

Background from previous post: Fed Govt./Big Tech Censorship Lawsuit: 47 New Biden People Added

Zachary Stieber writes at Epoch Times 47 New Biden Administration Defendants Named in Government–Big Tech Censorship Lawsuit.  Excerpts in italic with my bolds.

Nearly 50 new government defendants have been added to the lawsuit that alleges the government induced censorship of state officials and others on social media.

The second amended complaint in the case, Missouri v. Biden, includes six new agencies, bringing the total to 13, and 41 new individual defendants, bringing the total to 54.

Altogether, 67 officials or agencies are accused of violating plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights by participating in a “censorship enterprise” through pressuring Big Tech firms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to take action against users offering alleged misinformation.

Evidence backing the claims has been produced in discovery, including exchanges between White House officials and Meta, Facebook’s parent company and messages showing meetings between administration officials and the firms.

The new defendants include the FBI; former White House senior COVID-19 adviser Andrew Slavitt; Dana Remus, counsel to President Joe Biden; Elvis Chan, an FBI special agent based in San Francisco; Janell Muhammed, deputy digital director at the Department of Health and Human Services; Allison Snell, an official at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the State Department; and Mark Robbins, interim executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

One or more of the Big Tech firms that were subpoenaed in the case identified the officials as possibly communicating with them on content moderation relating to “COVID-19 misinformation,” the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, the administration’s since-disbanded Disinformation Governance Board, and/or “election security, integrity, outcomes, and/or public confidence in election outcomes (not to include issues of foreign interference or related issues).”

Slavitt was named because emails show he was in communication with Facebook regarding the combating of alleged misinformation. The messages show that Facebook was committed to censoring and de-emphasizing posts that were “departing from the government’s messaging on vaccines,” plaintiffs said. Slavitt also called for Twitter to ban Alex Berenson, an independent journalist, previously released messages show.

Muhammed, meanwhile, was in touch with Facebook to ask the company to take down pages and accounts that were allegedly misrepresenting themselves as representing the government. “Absolutely,” one of the Facebook employees responded.

Other discovery suggests the FDA “has participated in federally-induced censorship of private speech on social media about questions of vaccine safety and efficacy, among other subjects,” plaintiffs said.

The agencies that were added to the case did not respond to requests for comment.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee overseeing the case, recently ordered defendants named in earlier complaints to comply with demands, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top medical adviser to Biden. The new documents do not include any more information from Fauci or the White House press secretary’s office.

Footnote: 

From Your news: Biden Admin Showered Millions On Government’s ‘Misinformation’ Czars After 2020 Election

The four groups in question – Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and social media analytics firm Graphika – comprise the “Election Integrity Partnership,” which exists as a ‘concierge-like’ service for federal agencies such as Homeland’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and State’s Global Engagement Center to flag online content for censorship or monitoring by Big Tech using a “ticket” system.

Unsurprisingly, the head of Stanford’s Internet Observatory is a Clinton donor who previously served as Facebook’s Head of Security – while the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public is largely funded by the Knight Foundation, whose board exclusively contributes to Democrat or Neocon entities. 

Meanwhile, the Biden administration empowered three liberal groups to file tickets seeking censorship; the Democratic National Committee, Common Cause and the NAACP.

https://twitter.com/katestarbird/status/1556289862973632515

https://twitter.com/katestarbird/status/1556297891982979074?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1556297891982979074%7Ctwgr%5Eeefc305fb22a7724dd39199397ee543e8227995c%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fyournews.com%2F2022%2F10%2F03%2F2426630%2Fbiden-admin-showered-millions-on-governments-misinformation-czars-after-2020%2F

Advancing National Takeover of Energy Industry

Tom Luongo writes at his blog The Oil Nationalization Two-Step.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

You’ve all heard me rant about the “Straussian Two-Step,” which is nothing more than a retread of the Hegelian Dialectic.   Here’s the formal definition:

An interpretive method, originally used to relate specific entities or events to the absolute idea, in which some assertible proposition (thesis ) is necessarily opposed by an equally assertible and apparently contradictory proposition (antithesis ), the mutual contradiction being reconciled on a higher level of truth by a third proposition (synthesis ).

In modern politics it’s used to create a false reality by asserting something that is
partially true (at best) or a truth that you yourself created as a person in power.

In today’s case it’s a manufactured energy crisis across the West.

In order to see the Straussian Two-Step however you have to work backwards. This process is not an a priori deduction or an exhaustive fit of investigative journalism.

Rather it is an inductive conclusion based on awareness of the motivations of those in power and seeing how they lead a mass of people to a pre-ordained conclusion. In other words, schizo-posting.

Carbon fighters attacking the Exxon Mobil bastion, here seen without their shareholders disguises.

Thesis

So, say your goal is to legitimize the state takeover, or advance another step forward the state takeover, of an industry. Let’s use oil and gas for today’s lesson.

The first thing you do is manufacture a crisis that will disrupt the supply of the product you want to takeover. In this case, it started with COVID-19, which disrupted far more than just the energy sector.

More than 2 million barrels per day of refining capacity was lost world wide thanks to COVID-19. Given the current hostility to new refineries (more on this later), those barrels are not coming back.

Don’t forget, that for a “Straussian Two-Step” this big you will have to brainwash and/or gaslight two entire generations into hating themselves for being rich, wasteful, spoiled, alive or worse, just plain white.

So, they are already primed to hate all the things at play here — capitalism, Big Oil, Banks, Old White Guys (rich or poor) — and enrage your useful idiots by pushing their already tenuous hold on reality to the literal breaking point.   “I can’t even….” isn’t the most common phrase uttered on Tik-Tok for nothing.

That’s the Thesis part.

So, when the crisis hits thanks to natural gas disruption you forbid buying of from a particular country… you demonize not only Vlad but the industry itself for price gouging and preying on the widdle guy during a war.   There’s a word for this… chutzpah.

Antithesis

Predictably, you then allow your fake political opponents …[enter Cocaine Mitch from Stage Right]… to produce the opposite argument. In this case, the counter is obviously we need free markets to produce oil and gas. The refiners are just responding to the market.

That fake opposition, of course, also blames Vlad for this crisis to ensure the market’s champion looks not only patriotic but also suitably bought and paid for by Big Oil, Old White Guys, etc.

Both sides of this argument have now been framed 90 degrees away from the real source of the problem–government intrusion into the flow of oil and gas to your homes.

This is a crisis that if left solved to human ingenuity and, yes, the studious application of greed, would be over in a matter of weeks as refineries shut down during COVID would come back online, supply chains reorganized etc.

While the crisis phase would be over quickly, the long term investment cycle set off in refining would take longer to structurally immunize the industry against future supply shocks to accomplish.

Prices may not return to normal for years but the market, without intervention by rapacious morons both in government and running them from behind the curtain, would eventually grind the arbitrage out of the fuel industry nearly entirely.

Synthesis

Remember the goal. Destroy free markets, nationalize oil and gas.

This means also preparing the next move to get rid of another aspect of the free market while zeroing in on the current crisis. In this theoretical case, we’re looking at the massive diesel crack spreads of refineries, fueling the perpetual motion machine of Marxism’s inherent envy.

Moreover, this situation exploded on the eve of a crucial election to put into the mouths of the crisis actors we call colloquially, “Members of Congress.”

Their solution? Put windfall profit taxes on refiners who are taking advantage of the vulnerable and needy common man. They are evil ‘price gougers’ by accepting the bids from the market for the fruits of their labors which occurred precisely because of artificially inducing a shock to the system.

In the case of diesel fuel in the US this is clearly a manufactured crisis.

COVID took a lot of refineries in the Northeast (PADD-1) offline. And given the hostility of the Biden administration and environmentalists to the oil industry as a whole, as I alluded to earlier, those refineries are not coming back online anytime soon.

Don’t take my word for it, take it from the ones who own the refineries.

“Building a refinery is a multi-billion dollar investment. It may take a decade. We haven’t had a refinery built in the United States since the 1970s. My personal view is that there will never be another refinery built in the United States.”

According to Wirth, oil and gas companies would have to weigh the benefits of committing capital ten years out that will need decades to offer a return to shareholders “in a policy environment where governments around the world are saying ‘we don’t want these products to be used in the future’”.

Why would they? If it were your money would you begin the insane process to build an oil refinery in the US today even with crack spreads at $70+ per barrel? Of course not. By the time you filed the first Environmental Impact Assessment application form the spreads could be back to $20 because it’s politically advantageous for the “Straussian Two-Steppers” to take the pressure off for a few months.

Government is keeping the market in a supply/demand mismatch on purpose. That’s the only conclusion you can draw. Because if “Biden” wanted to solve this problem he wouldn’t be draining the SPR, he’d be rolling back regulations on refining oil or offering some of that ‘infrastructure money’ to help the industry rebuild post-COVID.

High Bid Wins the Prize

Diesel fuel demand is mostly inelastic, since it’s simply necessary for our daily life. Any supply disruption will cause massive price spikes because people will fall all over themselves bidding up the price of available supply to get what they can.

This is the one thing morons leftists can’t wrap their head around. Producers aren’t withholding supply and ‘raising prices’ in an open market economy. That’s propaganda. The reality is that consumers bid up the price for everything in demand or withhold those bids when the cost/benefit isn’t in their favor.

This is the dynamic at play when I use the term cost-push inflation. A supply shortage pushes the bids for basic goods up out of necessity and pouring money into the system through government handouts only accelerates this effect.

Low cost or free dollars flow to the things people need the most and that is the main source of our inflation today.

So, when you see the headlines full of scaremongering like the US only has 20 days of diesel fuel left, this undergirds the bids for limited supply. The futures markets are stripped of their power to coordinate supply over time and producers are stuck being demonized by low quality agitprop from the likes of AOC and Lizzie Slapaho.

Nationalization: The Next Two-Step

Windfall profit taxes are already on the way in Germany, 90% of all profits taxed away to the state. Energy production, when that bill passes, will be nationalized in Germany. The end of rational energy pricing will be gone.

Germany will become another energy subsidizing hellscape like we see all over the world.

The choice in front of German energy companies now is Uniper’s fate, nationalization through bailout, or remain ‘private’ but on a government-mandated cost-plus business model the profits from which will never outcompete the depreciation curve.

Today here in the US the Democrats are pushing for outright nationalization of all oil and gas production. That was the goal all along, the thesis. The fake antithesis is the “Drill baby, Drill,” crowd on Capitol Hill, crying crocodile tears over the loss of the Keystone XL pipeline for more than a decade.

The synthesis this time around will be finally getting through their long-sought after billionaire’s tax in the form of a windfall tax starting with evil Big Oil. Even if they don’t get it, it’s not like they don’t have other things on their to-do lists to get it done.

They are starting here again because they know no one will seriously consider outright nationalization (the next synthesis) unless there’s a war with Russia…

Fed Govt./Big Tech Censorship Lawsuit Update: Senior Biden People Will Be Deposed

Zachary Stieber  reports at Epoch Times Judge Rejects Biden Administration’s Attempt to Block Depositions in Big Tech-Government Censorship Case.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, rejected a request for a partial stay of his Oct. 21 order authorizing the depositions of eight officials, including President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Government lawyers asked the judge to impose the partial stay as an appeals court weighs a request to vacate the part of his order that enables the depositions of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a Biden appointee; Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly, a Biden appointee; and Rob Flaherty, a deputy assistant to the president.

Absent a stay, “high-ranking governmental officials would be diverted from their significant duties and burdened in both preparing and sitting for a deposition, all of which may ultimately prove to be unnecessary if the Court of Appeals grants” their request, the government said.

Doughty ruled that the government failed to show how the officials would be irreparably harmed apart from referencing a diversion from “significant duties.” That didn’t meet the standard for showing irreparable harm, he said.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks during a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on July 15, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

From the Judge’s MEMORANDUM ORDER

For the reasons set forth herein, Federal Defendants’ Corrected Motion for Partial Stay is DENIED. (Excerpts in italics with my bolds.)

1. Surgeon General Murthy

Details regarding the allegations as to Murthy are set forth in the Memorandum Order Regarding Witness Depositions. Murthy was found to have first-hand knowledge by (1) publicly criticizing tech companies by asserting they were responsible for COVID-19 deaths due to their failure to censor “mis-information”; (2) issuing a Request for Information on March 2, 2022, requesting tech companies to provide him with “mis-information”; and (3) engaging in communication with high-level Facebook executives about greater censorship of COVID-19 “misinformation.”

Although Murthy was a high-ranking official, the potential burden imposed on Murthy was outweighed by the need to determine whether First Amendment rights of free speech have been suppressed. The Court found exceptional circumstances were present and that the substantive reasons for taking the deposition were sufficient.

2. CISA Director Jen Easterly

Details of the allegations as they relate to Easterly are set forth in the Memorandum Order Regarding Witness Depositions.  Easterly was found to have first-hand knowledge by (1) supervising the “nerve center” of federally directed censorship; (2) directly flagging alleged “misinformation” to social media companies for censorship; (3) stating that social media speech by Americans is a form of infrastructure that allows the CISA to police online speech; (4) being involved in extensive oral communications and meetings between CISA officials and social-media platforms; and (5) being personally involved in text messages specifically discussing how greater censorship of social-media platforms would be done by exerting federal pressure on social-media platforms to increase censorship.

The Court also conducted its analysis of Easterly as if she were a high-ranking official and found that her personal knowledge required her deposition. The Court further found that the burden upon her was outweighed by the need to determine whether First Amendment free speech rights are being suppressed. The Court found exceptional circumstances were present and that the substantive reasons for taking the deposition were sufficient.

3. White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty

Details of the allegations as to Flaherty are set forth in the Memorandum Order Regarding Witness Depositions. Flaherty was found to have first-hand knowledge by (1) having extensive oral meetings with social-media platforms including Twitter, Meta and You-Tube on vaccine hesitancy and combatting “mis-information”; (2) directly communicating with Meta’s director of U.S. Public Policy through “Covid Insight Reports” (which details trends/posts by social media users on Meta); (3) Meta’s reporting to Flaherty about Meta’s intentions to censor disfavored opinions about vaccine effectiveness for new groups for which vaccines were authorized; (4) having specific knowledge on Meta’s attempts to censor groups referred to by Flaherty as the “Disinformation Dozen”; and (5) being aware of the President-Elect-Joe Biden transition team’s efforts to stifle “mis-information” through Meta.

The Court also assumed that Flaherty was a high-ranking official and conducted its analysis
as such. It found special circumstances were present to take his deposition. The Court further found the burden upon Flaherty was outweighed by the need to determine whether First Amendment free speech rights are being suppressed; therefore, the substantive reasons for taking his deposition were sufficient.

For the reasons set forth herein, the Court also finds Federal Defendants are not likely to
succeed on the merits of their mandamus petition.

Background from previous post: Fed Govt./Big Tech Censorship Lawsuit: 47 New Biden People Added

Zachary Stieber writes at Epoch Times 47 New Biden Administration Defendants Named in Government–Big Tech Censorship Lawsuit.  Excerpts in italic with my bolds.

Nearly 50 new government defendants have been added to the lawsuit that alleges the government induced censorship of state officials and others on social media.

The second amended complaint in the case, Missouri v. Biden, includes six new agencies, bringing the total to 13, and 41 new individual defendants, bringing the total to 54.

Altogether, 67 officials or agencies are accused of violating plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights by participating in a “censorship enterprise” through pressuring Big Tech firms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to take action against users offering alleged misinformation.

Evidence backing the claims has been produced in discovery, including exchanges between White House officials and Meta, Facebook’s parent company and messages showing meetings between administration officials and the firms.

The new defendants include the FBI; former White House senior COVID-19 adviser Andrew Slavitt; Dana Remus, counsel to President Joe Biden; Elvis Chan, an FBI special agent based in San Francisco; Janell Muhammed, deputy digital director at the Department of Health and Human Services; Allison Snell, an official at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the State Department; and Mark Robbins, interim executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

One or more of the Big Tech firms that were subpoenaed in the case identified the officials as possibly communicating with them on content moderation relating to “COVID-19 misinformation,” the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, the administration’s since-disbanded Disinformation Governance Board, and/or “election security, integrity, outcomes, and/or public confidence in election outcomes (not to include issues of foreign interference or related issues).”

Slavitt was named because emails show he was in communication with Facebook regarding the combating of alleged misinformation. The messages show that Facebook was committed to censoring and de-emphasizing posts that were “departing from the government’s messaging on vaccines,” plaintiffs said. Slavitt also called for Twitter to ban Alex Berenson, an independent journalist, previously released messages show.

Muhammed, meanwhile, was in touch with Facebook to ask the company to take down pages and accounts that were allegedly misrepresenting themselves as representing the government. “Absolutely,” one of the Facebook employees responded.

Other discovery suggests the FDA “has participated in federally-induced censorship of private speech on social media about questions of vaccine safety and efficacy, among other subjects,” plaintiffs said.

The agencies that were added to the case did not respond to requests for comment.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee overseeing the case, recently ordered defendants named in earlier complaints to comply with demands, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top medical adviser to Biden. The new documents do not include any more information from Fauci or the White House press secretary’s office.

Footnote: 

From Your news: Biden Admin Showered Millions On Government’s ‘Misinformation’ Czars After 2020 Election

The four groups in question – Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and social media analytics firm Graphika – comprise the “Election Integrity Partnership,” which exists as a ‘concierge-like’ service for federal agencies such as Homeland’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and State’s Global Engagement Center to flag online content for censorship or monitoring by Big Tech using a “ticket” system.

Unsurprisingly, the head of Stanford’s Internet Observatory is a Clinton donor who previously served as Facebook’s Head of Security – while the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public is largely funded by the Knight Foundation, whose board exclusively contributes to Democrat or Neocon entities. 

Meanwhile, the Biden administration empowered three liberal groups to file tickets seeking censorship; the Democratic National Committee, Common Cause and the NAACP.

Woke Gatekeepers The Problem

Michael Lind explains in his Tablet article The New Gatekeepers.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

How the major institutions of American society all came to sing in the woke chorus,
and what can be done about it

The Great Awokening is a misleading term. Woke activists are not honest missionaries; they are infiltrators, acting with the specific goal of seizing control of institutions and imposing their views on others. Unlike the Protestant evangelists of the Great Awakenings, today’s activists do not use simple language to spread their message to sinners in need of repentance. On the contrary, they camouflage radical beliefs in bureaucratic acronyms like DEI and CRT, and anodyne-sounding terms like “gender-affirming health care”—in practice, often a euphemism for castrating boys and men and sterilizing and performing irreversible mastectomies on girls and women. Where Protestant evangelists sought voluntary and whole-hearted conversion, the new activists seek submission, imposed on penalty of ostracism.

If these activists are not evangelists, what are they? They are “entryists.” The term “entryism” has been associated with the Trotskyist denomination of Marxism since the 1930s, when the exiled Leon Trotsky urged his followers in Britain to infiltrate the Labour Party and influence it from within, rather than form their own small, ineffectual party. But the tactic is not limited to the political left. In the United States there have been cases in which Protestant fundamentalists ran for local school boards as moderates and then, once they had majorities on the board, used their power for goals like teaching “creation science” along with evolutionary biology.

The center left of the political spectrum has historically been vulnerable
to entryism by small, radical sects of zealots.

Today’s illiberal radicals, like yesterday’s communists, have profited from a “no enemies to the left” policy among liberals. Mild-mannered liberals and progressives believe in civil rights, so therefore something called “anti-racism” must be worth supporting, even if there are a few problems here and there: Ibram X. Kendi’s sectarian lunacy thus hitches a free ride on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Similarly, adding “T” and “Q” to LGB legitimated public acceptance of radical gender ideology, as though insisting that controversial and often dangerous “gender transitions” are a natural and unobjectionable continuation of the campaign to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Wokists, then, are not the new Protestants, any more than they are the new Trotskyites. They are entryists in their methods, but not in their ideology. Such identity politics is not the kind of coalition of college students and minorities that Herbert Marcuse and other Marxists hoped for in the 1960s, after they were disappointed by the lack of revolutionary fervor among the American and European working classes. Black nationalism, the model for all racial and ethnic nationalisms on the Western left, has its roots in 19th-century German racial and cultural nationalism, not cosmopolitan Marxism. Radical feminism, which spawned gender ideology, has its own tradition as independent of socialism, even if some radical feminists have also been socialists. Indeed, real communist regimes like the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Cuba have usually been repressively traditional in matters of sex and gender.

This, however, raises a question. The various streams of identity politics that feed into today’s radical ideology are not new. Indeed, they have existed on the margins of politics and intellectual life for generations. As recently as the 1980s and 1990s, “political correctness” was ridiculed into irrelevance everywhere except on university campuses and a handful of sectarian left institutions. What exactly is it that changed in the structure of American institutions so that the new entryists were able to successfully infiltrate and capture so many major organizations and professions in the 2010s, after such tactics had repeatedly been tried and failed before?

Three Gateways Taken Over by Woke Activists

Control of three gateways in particular has been critical to the success of woke entryism. The three gateways are college education, professional accreditation, and commercial services, particularly new online media platforms like Twitter, sales platforms like Amazon, and financial platforms like PayPal. All three wield variants of the same power: the power to exclude people from the economy. Good Trotsky-style entryists that they are, woke activists, knowing that they would be defeated in free elections and in open public debates, have sought to infiltrate institutions to control key chokepoints or gateways, which empower them to be gatekeepers.

Today, unlike a generation ago, young Americans typically must pass through three gateways, in order to be economically successful. They must obtain college diplomas; they must join professional accrediting organizations; and they must be able to do business via platforms in the marketplace.

The American Medical Association was founded in 1847, and the American Bar Association in 1878. Colleges and universities assumed their present form only in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and as recently as 1960 only about 10% of American men and around 6% of American women had bachelor’s degrees or higher.

Of the three kinds of gateway—the professional, the academic, and the platform—the third is the newest, a product of the early 21st century. As one writer recently put it, “the Woke is a vanguard movement that seized control of a new technology and used it as a force multiplier to discipline and terrorize the larger institutional landscape.”

Waiting for people at each gateway, like trolls under a bridge in a fairy tale, are woke leftists, who demand that they recite the in-group passwords before they are allowed to pass through the gates. What makes these gateways particularly vulnerable to capture by disciplined, zealous entryists in the United States is the fact that they are mostly private and unregulated. America’s most prestigious universities are private, and they set the standards for other universities in the country, both private and public. Whether private or public, all American universities are accredited by private, nonprofit accrediting agencies and not by America’s federal or state governments.

But most traditional corporations either face rivals in competitive markets, or, if they are natural monopolies, are subject to regulation and government oversight. In contrast, platforms like Facebook, Amazon, and PayPal, along with search engines like Google, are near-monopolies in whole sectors of the economy, and yet have won the right not to be regulated by federal, state, or local governments. As a result, they can “deplatform” people, including the president of the United States, at will—and those who have been deplatformed, canceled, or otherwise disappeared from the marketplace or the public realm have little recourse, except to a rubber-stamp board appointed by the platform’s executives, on the basis of “rules of service” that the corporate managers and their puppets make up and can change at any time. This combination of exemption from regulation with legal impunity would have been unthinkable in the age of AT&T and the three broadcast networks, before the rise of the tech sector at the end of the 20th century.

No wonder that woke entryists prefer worming their way into immense, centralized quasi-monopolies and oligopolies in the private sector instead of trying to capture the government by persuading voters and winning in thousands of elections at all levels.

The increasing polarization of the American class system along educational lines, along with a massive oversupply of college graduates for too few jobs that actually require college degrees, breeds conformity and submission in undergraduates. In the 1990s, you could mock your politically correct professor or classmates and go on to a successful career in law, medicine, business, or even the academy. In the 2020s, if you mock your politically correct professor or classmates, you can be put through Kafkaesque trials and Maoist reeducation on campus, and the mark on your permanent record can prevent you from getting into a good professional school.

Students who dissent from enforced woke orthodoxies on campus run the very real danger of summary punishment by university administrators for a very wide variety of potential crimes, which will be adjudicated by those very same authorities. These crimes can range from holding incorrect opinions about racial essentialism (you’re supposed to be for it) or the existence of multiple genders (there is no exact number, gender being a subjective and elastic concept).

The next gate is the professional gateway—and here again, we find that our entryists have seized the sentry positions and imposed new passwords. The AMA recently issued a glossary of Woke Newspeak, instructing medical doctors to say “equity” instead of “equality” and “systemically divested” instead of “poor.”

Last year, the AMA Board of Trustees passed a resolution demanding that sex cease to be noted in all future birth certificates, on the theory that a boy might have been born by accident in a girl’s body or vice versa, and that the individual might not realize he or she was in the wrong body until decades later. Yes, this is the American Medical Association, not the American Association of Astrologers.

Meanwhile, the American Bar Association has proposed making the accreditation of U.S. law schools depend on their success in promoting goals like rigid race and gender quotas among faculty and students. Noting that such accreditation requirements might cause law schools to run afoul of federal and state laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which established nondiscrimination as the legal standard, the ABA says its own private, made-up accreditation requirements trump actual laws: “The requirement of a constitutional provision or statute that purports to prohibit consideration of race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, or military status in admissions or employment decisions is not a justification for a school’s noncompliance with Standard 206.”

Let’s assume that a submissive, deferential American professional of the 21st century, having mouthed the platitudes necessary to obtain a B.A. and graduate from a professional school, now seeks to practice a career in sales, authorship, or politics. If you wish to buy or sell a gun in a perfectly legal transaction, Visa will allow it but PayPal and Square will not.

If you publish a book critical of the new gender ideology, Amazon may disappear it, the way it disappeared Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally. Inexplicably, Amazon sells Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters—but then, despotic power is more frightening when it is arbitrary.

And if you run for office, you may find yourself banned or suspended by social media platforms. As of Aug. 15, 2022, Ballotpedia listed seven elected officials who had been banned or suspended by Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube—all Republicans. In addition to Donald Trump, the list includes Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, suspended by Twitter for 14 days in 2021 for “targeted misgendering or deadnaming transgender individuals,” and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a medical doctor, suspended by YouTube for seven days for allegedly spreading misinformation about COVID-19.

Piece by piece, woke activists are assembling a private version of China’s social credit system, which can cut off individuals who run afoul of ideological orthodoxy from acquiring educational credentials, practicing a trade, or engaging in political speech. While Trotskyist entryists spent decades trying to infiltrate and influence social democratic parties and trade unions, woke entryists in only a decade and a half have captured many of the leading communications, sales, and financial platforms in modern society, along with professional associations and universities. Leon Trotsky would be impressed.

Alas, only one solution to the threat of woke hegemony can possibly work: a massive and permanent expansion of the regulatory powers of American government.

Because of the longstanding ideological habits and precommitments of those who broadly agree with the above diagnosis of the problem, this is typically the last solution that occurs to them. Paradoxical though it may seem, however, political intervention is necessary to depoliticize the institutions that have already been diverted from their limited missions and competencies. Reluctant but determined intervention by the elected branches of government can compel neutrality on the part of professional and commercial institutions that have been captured and weaponized by the new entryists.

The obvious objection to expanding the power of the states and the federal government to eliminate control by the new entryists over key social and economic chokepoints is the libertarian belief that government itself is the enemy. One response might be that the belief that private enterprise would be more inherently fair than a state grounded in the democratic process and the rule of law is what got us into this mess in the first place.

It is also the case that, contrary to popular belief, the federal government does not have vast plenary powers. The federal government chiefly influences state and local policy by means of “fiscal federalism.” The Obama administration abused fiscal federalism when radical activists ensconced in his Department of Education made federal funding for K-12 schools contingent on public schools adopting controversial gender ideology.

The best way to prevent the federal government from using this kind of economic blackmail against state and local government institutions, of course, is to keep woke parties and politicians and appointees out of power in Washington, D.C. If that fails, states should refuse federal funding that comes with strings attached, rather than submit to blackmail by tiny cadres of activists who have infiltrated and captured specific federal agencies like the Department of Education.

Increasingly, state governments led by anti-woke elected officials have begun using state power to check the ideological excesses of corporations and banks. Far from being an assault on liberty, this is a healthy and overdue reassertion of democracy. Elected officials answer to citizens. Corporations and nonprofits answer only to their boards of directors and shareholders or donors. And as entities that can exist and do business only because of government charters, corporations and nonprofits must follow rules promulgated by representatives of the people.

Will anti-woke governments commit abuses in responding to the abuses of woke companies and nonprofits? No doubt they will sometimes. But if they do, their misdeeds will be easily identified and have clear remedies, unlike the hidden decisions of vast private bureaucracies. Abusive legislators and governors can be voted out of office, unlike the obscure individuals who belong to Facebook’s self-regulating bureaucracy.

In other eras, and in other countries, public tyranny has indeed been a major threat to individual freedoms. In the United States, in the third decade of the 21st century, the private tyranny of universities, professional associations, and tech platforms is a greater threat than the tyranny of an oppressive state. When it comes to reducing the power of the new entryists in the private sector, the restoration of our liberties requires an expansion of democratically accountable government.

 

 

 

 

Leftists Tighten Tax and Regulation Screws

William Watson explains at Financial Post: We will need Trussonomics.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

If subsidies change behaviour, as their proponents clearly believe they do,
so must taxes and the rising cost of regulation

The Nobel-winning novelist Doris Lessing once wrote that “In politics it is easier to be mad unnoticed than anywhere else.” Of course, she was writing about Communist Party politics in what was then Southern Rhodesia during World War II, not leadership campaigns in the 21st-century British Tory party. But the goings-on of the various factions that make up the Tory party have been at least tinged with madness, if not steeped in it. And it is not going unnoticed. The whole world is watching, as the chant goes, especially the bond market.

The pity is that fine and ever more necessary ideas have been caught in all the loopiness and, guilty by association, are being dumped in the ash bin at the very time they are needed most. What for the next 20 years will be branded “Trussonomics” is in its essence simply tried and true common sense: ever rising tax rates and ever more intrusive regulation, which is what western countries have these days, are not and never have been the road to high and rising living standards.

Now, strangely, these libertarian ideas are being categorized as “populist,” the supposedly idiot beliefs of the great and ignorant unwashed. There may be places in the world where libertarianism is populist — Wyoming, maybe, rural New Hampshire, anywhere that lived under Soviet Communism — but in this country and in the United Kingdom such ideas are best loved by the not very numerous readers of such bricks as Friedrich Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty, which according to Amazon weighs 1.68 pounds. Their most effective European exponent, Margaret Thatcher, who supposedly carried that book in her purse, making it a truly lethal weapon if swung with sufficient force, sold this set of ideas on the basis that “There is no alternative,” hardly the most appealing brand labelling.

Many Canadians are in some ways instinctive libertarians.

Why are we paying for the prime minister’s groceries, many will wonder — not his state dinners and receptions but his ordinary family groceries? Why are the Governor General’s airplane meals so expensive? Could she not settle for the dried-out trail mix the rest of us are served while flying? Why does Ottawa think (see Matthew Lau’s article elsewhere on this page) “people who menstruate” — the people formerly known as women — should have free female hygiene products, plus installed receptacles for them, provided in every bathroom in federal jurisdiction — men’s, women’s and other?

In each case, the populist answer, though simple, is right: He should pay for his own family groceries. She should eat the airplane meals the rest of us eat. And Ottawa should stay out of the bathrooms of the nation (as an earlier Trudeau might have said). To be sure, more subtle and sophisticated reasoning can and often does lead especially very highly-educated people to conclude that such answers are hopelessly, horribly wrong. In these more refined circles “populist” is a way of saying “simple-minded” and “unseemly.”

It is true that Trussonomics, as proposed by its namesake, was flawed in very avoidable ways. If you win a leadership contest, it’s a sign of weakness, not strength, to exclude rivals from your cabinet (or, attention Mr. Poilievre, shadow cabinet). If the spending hikes and tax cuts you want could cause reasonable people to worry about the resulting government debt, you should not close down a watchdog whose job it is to track such things. And you must tell your cabinet where you are heading and also prepare the public — a lesson learned in this country in 1981 when finance minister Allan MacEachen sprang fiscal surprises in a budget that, several weeks later, had to be walked back, not long before MacEachen himself was walked over to External Affairs, as it then was. Ever since, budget secrecy be damned, federal budgets have been telegraphed well in advance.

In Ottawa, as the budget approaches, small dogs must be kept indoors
lest they be frightened by popping of trial balloons going off like fireworks.

But though the Trussonomics package was badly wrapped, its contents remain sound. People do respond to incentives. If you tax income too much, you reduce the incentive to earn and report it honestly. If you regulate people too much, you induce them to spend their money and time getting round regulations, including by doing the regulated activity in jurisdictions (not yours) where it is regulated less. Pile on taxes and rules, and lawyers and lobbyists grow rich while invention, investment and innovation languish or relocate.

It’s sometimes argued that people aren’t as responsive to economic incentives as economists claim, so taxing them and raising their regulatory costs won’t discourage the animal spirits that impel them to constructive action. But those offering this argument are invariably inveterate subsidizers, who would encourage all manner of activity they deem socially worthy by subsidizing it, taxing it less or lightening its regulatory load.

But you can’t have it both ways. Subsidies that don’t change people’s behaviour are just ways of getting money to friends. But if subsidies change behaviour, as their proponents clearly believe they do, so must taxes and the rising cost of regulation.

Ms. Truss may walk off into history. Trussonomics our over-taxed and over-regulated societies desperately need.

Footnote from Issues and Insights: Biden Has Unleashed The Regulatory Leviathan: Report

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) just this morning released its hugely valuable report called “10,000 Commandments,” which is a compendium of the regulatory state. In it, CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews lays out the terrible truth about Biden’s regulatory zeal.

The first thing you have to understand about federal regulation is how massive it already is, with compliance costs that total more than $1.9 trillion a year.

That’s bigger than Canada’s entire GDP. It’s bigger, in fact, than all but seven nations in the world. It works out to almost $15,000 per household.

And it is growing at a ferocious pace. From 1995 to last year, regulators issued a total of 114,821 new rules.

The cost of complying with this mountain of mandates is on top of the $6.3 trillion the feds spent this year, which means the true cost of government equals roughly a third of the nation’s economy.

 

World Sick Men: US, UK, Canada

Conrad Black observes in National Post:  Canada, the U.S. and U.K. have become the new ‘sick man’ of the world.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

The three principal predominantly English-speaking Atlantic countries (the United States, United Kingdom and Canada) are now “the sick man” of the world. For almost all of the 19th century and up to the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was reviled as ”the sick man of Europe,” and its leader was habitually referred to as ”the Abominable Porte.” These disparagements proved premature when put to the test in the First World War. The Ottoman Empire outlasted the Russian Empire in the war and the Turks threw the British, French and Commonwealth forces into the sea with 220,000 casualties in the debacle at Gallipoli in 1915-16, the greatest and near-terminal defeat in the career of Winston Churchill. It is also very premature, of course, to underestimate the three leading English-speaking countries, but as our longest-serving prime minister, W. L. Mackenzie King, said of his own career at its low point in 1930, we are all “passing through the valley of humiliation.”

In Britain, Prime Minister Liz Truss and then-chancellor of the exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng presented a bold and imaginative budget. Facing double-digit inflation and negligible economic growth, they instituted a cap on energy price increases to the public by having the state pick up the tab for natural gas and electricity price increases above a designated level, reverse a planned six-point increase in the corporate tax and reduce the maximum income tax by five points. Unfortunately and inexplicably, they produced no accompanying proposals for substantial government cost reductions. Normally, ambitious proposals for tax reductions are accompanied by elaborate estimates of the resulting loss of revenue being substantially regained by increased revenue from heightened consumer demand and the greater transactional velocity of money. Of course, all such estimates are essentially throwing a dart at a board, but they are necessary to shut up opinionated and dogmatic economists, especially high-tax leftists and authoritarian regulators.

Economics is essentially psychology and Grade 3 arithmetic.  Truss and Kwarteng
got the psychology right, but in failing to produce any arithmetic at all,
they left themselves wide open to a deluge of skeptical ridicule.

The official Opposition, the Labour party, now a Corbynite gaggle of unregenerate Marxists hiding behind their relatively innocuous leader, Keir Starmer, the socialistic hypocrites at the International Monetary Fund and the sprawling apparatus of the European Union, which is still wheezing with rage over Brexit, all pounced on the budget like famished wolves. As always happens when the conventional wisdom is stoked up and unopposed, even the most ludicrously implausible sources of any worthwhile opinion on the subject, U.S. President Joe Biden in this case, joined the torrent of brickbats.

 Truss did not handle it very convincingly, and her chancellor was confidently informing the international financial media in Washington last week that he was firm in his position and his views and was “not going anywhere,” when his boss folded like a $3 suitcase and gave him the order of the boot. Even Starmer, who is no Benjamin Disraeli or Winston Churchill as a parliamentary wit, got off some pretty good shots, adapting the famous statement of Margaret Thatcher to a beleaguered party conference in the early days of her radical government: “U-turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.” It appeared to justify the French media’s sarcastic reflection on the difference between the Iron Lady and the “Iron Weathervane.” She has only been prime minister for six weeks, and though it would seem almost unimaginably absurd for even the querulous and treacherous backbenchers of the British Tory party to disembark another leader so quickly after they filled the space between former prime minister Boris Johnson’s shoulder blades with knives, that is exactly what happened. Following a string of cabinet departures and internal party dissent, Truss announced her resignation on Thursday. Meanwhile, the separatist Scottish National Party is now leading the Conservatives in the polls and the formerly terrorist-tinged Sinn Féin, the parent of the Irish Republican Army, is settling into the government of Northern Ireland. As the new monarch enters upon his reign, the political condition of his principal realm could scarcely be worse. It will probably get better because further deterioration is hard to imagine, but much will depend on whether the Tories can mount a historic comeback.

Most Canadians are somewhat aware of the debacle in Washington. Since his election, President Biden has maintained a war without mercy on the U.S. oil and gas industry, while simultaneously disparaging the House of Saud as moral pariahs. A recent report from the Committee to Unleash Prosperity found that, given rising prices, if the Trump administration’s energy policies had been maintained, the United States would be producing two- to three-million more barrels a day of oil than it currently is, which would have pushed down global oil prices. Russian President Vladimir Putin essentially applied the increased revenues from his higher-priced oil exports to finance his war of aggression in Ukraine, which the United States is now admirably spending tens of billions of dollars to assist the Ukrainians in resisting. Because Biden is intimidated by the green terror that he mindlessly espouses like an eco-robot on autopilot, he was reduced to calling upon the Saudi crown prince, metaphorical cap in hand, and asking for production increases. Instead, the Saudis, with well-earned disdain for the government of the world’s most powerful nation, reduced production further, leaving Biden’s bumbling entourage talking about suspending armament sales to the Saudis. This would only make matters worse by giving scores of billions of dollars of defence contracts to our enemies. Even great powers, when their foreign policy is based on idiocy, can be, in U.S. President Richard Nixon’s famous expression, “a pitiful, helpless giant.” Five thousand illegal migrants a day are pouring across the southern border and Russia, even as it blasts Ukraine, is representing the U.S. in an insane effort to revive the disastrous nuclear agreement with Iran that Barack Obama negotiated and Donald Trump cancelled. None of it makes any sense.

Canada — which, as historian W. L. Morton said, is ”strong only in moderation and governable only by compromise” — has never in its 155 years as an autonomous country come close to the shambles of government that has been unfolding in Washington, or the sequence of fiascos that have afflicted the current era of Conservative government in Britain. Our comparative decorum should not lead any Canadian to complacency, though. We have spent seven years wallowing helplessly in a mindless fixation on climate, Indigenous and gender issues. Canada is a treasure trove of resources that we are afraid to utilize and we are somnambulating in the world like a toked-up Peter Pan.

Based on history, all three countries will pull themselves together quite soon and resume their rightful places among the most respected nations in the world.

 

 

Biden’s Destroying US Economy, By Intention or Not

Stephen Moore writes at Washington Examiner Biden’s destroying the economy. Is it intentional?  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Everywhere I go, people are mystified about President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. So few of the policies comport with basic common sense that I’m asked the same question over and over: Is Biden intentionally trying to take a wrecking ball to the economy?

Is this all part of some diabolical plan, the “great reset,” to end our system of free market capitalism and replace it with some form of big-government socialism?

Biden keeps saying that he wants to be an historic president who will “transition” the country into a new worker’s paradise where no one uses fossil fuels or electricity or cars and equality is paramount, ahead of growth and prosperity. Is he taking us there with no regard for the collateral damage to America?

My belief is that, no, I don’t think this is an intentional, nefarious Dr. Evil-type plot.

But if this were a scheme to burn down the village in order to rebuild it,
Biden and his administration are doing a great job of it.

Here are seven Biden administration steps to undermine an economy and a society from within. They will all sound familiar with the president’s policies since he took office 21 months ago.

1. Dismantle the nation’s energy supply. We get 70% of our energy from fossil fuels. Biden has declared war on American oil and gas, making us more dependent on our enemies for our basic energy needs.

2. Don’t enforce the border. Biden is letting hundreds of thousands of potential criminals, terrorists, welfare recipients, and enemies of the United States into our country through a porous southern border with Mexico. Immigration is good, but it must be orderly and regulated.

3. Devalue the nation’s currency through inflation. Inflation is up nearly 15% since Biden came into office. Inflation is a means to erode the value of a currency.

4. Destroy the nation’s finances by running up the debt by multiple trillions of dollars of debt. No president in modern times has so recklessly pushed our nation into debt as rapidly as Biden through his $4 trillion in spending paid for with red ink.

5. Divide rather than unite the nation. Rich versus poor, black versus white, gay versus straight, rural versus urban. Biden promised unity. Instead, he pits groups against each other. This is the identity politics of the Left that is the opposite of “e pluribus unum.”

6. Dumb down and indoctrinate our children with anti-American propaganda in the schools and media. And allowing teacher unions and left-wing activists to take over the curriculum with anti-American propaganda. It is the opposite of nurturing patriotism and love of country.

7. Decriminalize a lot. Let criminals onto the streets. End bail. Empty the prisons. Let minor crimes go unpunished. Biden’s policies favor criminals over victims. It’s a scene out of a Batman movie.

Are these policies intentional or simply completely misguided? I don’t know. But does it matter? Either way, our country is in grave peril.

It’s Liberty We Must Conserve

Historic Huntington Liberty flag of 1776

Dennis Prager explains in his American Greatness article Explaining Conservatism.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

The next time a liberal or left-wing friend or relative asks you
what conservatives stand for,
say “liberty”—especially free speech.

There are a number of reasons many young people shy away from conservatism.

The most obvious is that they have been exposed only to left-wing values—from elementary school through graduate school, in the movies, on television, on social media and now even at Disneyland.

Less obvious but equally significant is that they have never been properly exposed to conservative values. Since at least the World War II generation, most parents who held conservative values either did not think they had to teach their children those values or simply did not know how to do so. Most still don’t. If asked to define conservative values, most conservatives will be tongue-tied.

In light of this, I present here, and in subsequent columns, a list of conservatism’s defining characteristics.

We will begin with the most important conservative value—liberty.

Conservatives believe in individual liberty (there is no liberty other than individual liberty). It has been the primary value of the American experiment. While many countries include the word “liberty” in their national mottoes and national anthems, no country has so emphasized liberty as has America.

That is why:

    • The French designers of the Statue of Liberty gave the statue to America.
    • The iconic symbol of America is the Liberty Bell.
    • The one inscription on the Liberty Bell is a verse about liberty from the Book of Leviticus: “And you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.”
    • Americans sing of their country as “the land of the free” and “sweet land of liberty.”
    • Until recently, every America schoolchild knew by heart Patrick Henry’s cry, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
    • Chinese young people who protested the Communist takeover of Hong Kong waved the American flag.

And that is why America’s founders were adamant that the state—the national government—be as small, as limited, as possible. The bigger the government, the smaller the liberty. Big government and big liberty are mutually exclusive.

Moreover, liberty is not the only victim of big government. Human life is also a victim. Every genocide of the 20th century, the century of genocide, was committed by big government. Without big government, one hundred million people would not and could not have been slaughtered, and a billion more would not and could not have been enslaved. (There was one exception: the Hutu genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda, which was tribal in nature. Tribal culture, like left-wing culture, emphasizes the group over the individual.)

In order to limit the size and power of the national government,
the founders delegated most governmental powers to the states.

They did so in the Constitution by specifying what powers the national government had and by asserting that all other powers be delegated to the states. In addition, they increased the power of the states by having presidential elections decided by the states—the Electoral College—rather than by the popular national vote, and by how they structured the Senate, one of the two branches of Congress. They gave every state equal representation in the Senate, no matter how small the population of the state.

The Left’s opposition to the Electoral College and to the Senate makes perfect sense. It is the power inherent in big government, not liberty, that animates the Left. The defining characteristic of every left-wing party and movement in the world has always been an ever bigger and therefore more powerful government.

Liberty is a liberal value as well as a conservative value, but it has never been a left-wing value. Liberty cannot be a left-wing value because the more liberty individuals have, the less power the government has. Conversely, the weaker the state, the weaker the Left.

This especially holds true for the greatest of all liberties—free speech.

Free speech is a fundamental conservative value, and it has been a fundamental liberal value. But it has never been a left-wing value. For that reason, everywhere the Left is dominant—government, media, universities—it stifles dissent. The reason is simple: No left-wing movement can survive an open exchange of ideas. Leftist ideologies are emotion- and power-based, not reason- or morality-based. So, leftists cannot allow honest debate.

They do not argue with opponents; they suppress them.

For the first time in American history, freedom of speech is seriously threatened—indeed it has already been seriously curtailed. With the ascent of the Left, the inevitable suppression of free speech is taking place.

That liberals—who have always valued liberty and free speech—vote for the great suppressor of liberty, the Left, is the tragedy of our time. The reason they do so is that liberals forgot what they stand for; they only remember what they believe they stand against: conservatives.

So, the next time a liberal or left-wing friend or relative asks you what conservatives stand for, say “liberty”—especially free speech. And explain that is why you fear and oppose big government—because big government and individual liberty cannot coexist.

Everybody Knows (White Is Not A Race)

Black and white group photograph of immigrants posing for a photograph aboard the passenger ship Italia. Donato Sforza emigrated from Italy with his family in 1959 and are part of the group in this photograph. According to the archives at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia the Italia stopped at the following ports: New York, Montreal, Quebec, Halifax-Plymouth, Havre, Southampton, Zeebrugge, Cuxhaven and Hamburg.

Geoffrey Clarfield explains at American Thinker The Anti-White Lie Behind Multiculturalism.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Like America, Canada is a nation comprised of people from around the world. And like America—perhaps even more than America—Canada is wearing racial blindfolds that make the government incapable of seeing that, just as “people of color” represent many different races, lands, and cultures, the same is true for “pale faced” people. This blindness erases Canada’s rich ethnic history.

As an anthropologist who spent 17 years living and working in Sub-Saharan Africa, where Black lives really matter and where everyone belongs to a tribe with which they identify, it pains me that I must explain to fellow Canadians (and Americans) that pale-faced people are not all the same. Are they just one thing — that is, one ethnic group in contrast to the myriad of “others”? No.

Canada’s government allows residents to choose from the following menu as a form of self-definition: White, South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Arab, Latin American, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean, Japanese, and First Nation. I found the most interesting category, “White.” No, there is no such thing as just “White.” Let us consider for a moment all those founding Canadian citizens—the “pale faces”—who were either born here or moved here from abroad.

The flag of the city of Montreal honors the founding races. It includes the French fleur de lis, the English rose, Irish shamrock and Scottish thistle. The Iroquois tree represents aboriginal people.

The first group of Canadian pale faces is the French-speaking citizens of Quebec and other parts of Canada whose ancestors came from France and settled here. They have a strong provincial government that protects and encourages their language, literature, music, poetry, film, scholarship, historical monuments, and all those other things that make a culture distinct.

The Quebecois, as they call themselves, are an ethnic group with a clear sense of who belongs and who does not belong. This week they elected a government that wants to limit immigration and protect the descendants of the founding population.

Then there are the descendants of the Protestant English and the Protestants of Northern Ireland, who founded the area of Upper Canada and conquered the Quebecois, allowing them to retain their culture and religion but insisting that England and things English be the beau ideal of the state.

They knew who was in and who was out. In Ontario, until WWII, there was little chance of a government job if you were not Protestant. British subjects hired British subjects and their children. They intermarried and kept apart from others. In slang, they are called WASPS, and their elites ran the country politically, economically, culturally, and religiously until the 1960s, with some elite Quebecois input.

Canada has many Celts: Irish Catholics, the fourth largest ethnic group in the country, who came from Catholic Ireland (the Republic), and the Catholic communities from Ulster. They are family-oriented, have a deep historic identity, and a culture of song, dance, and literature that they often justly feel may be better than the English speakers who call themselves English. Some of them still speak kinds of Gaelic.

Next come the Scots, lowland Protestants, highland Catholics, and later splinter groups like Presbyterians—but all of them feel Scottish and, similarly, there are the Welsh.

Image: People who look diverse – including those “White people,” by rawpixel.

Other pale faces have arrived since these founders. There are Central European pale faces, such as the Dutch, Belgians, Germans (who were once a majority in Kitchener, Ontario), Scandinavians and, of course, the non-conformist Protestant German-speaking Amish and Mennonite religious communities that have flourished here. The same region sent Czechs, Poles, Slovenians, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Serbs and Croats, Ukrainians, Russians, and other Slavs who have been here as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelicals for more than one hundred years.

Every one of these groups is ethnically distinct and has its own culture.

There are also the “second class” pale faces, such as Catholic Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, and Orthodox Greeks, all Mediterranean peoples. Although Canada’s Anglo-Canadian-Celtic founders recognized them as some sort of second-order European, these same founders often felt that they just had too many swarthy members and, therefore, were second class. That’s why places used to have restrictive signs about Jews, Catholics, and Blacks.

And what about those Jews? Who are they? Sometimes they look German, Ukrainian, or Sicilian. Still, the constant is that other pale-faced Canadians have always treated them as second-class citizens who must “prove their loyalty.” Like the Jews, the Roma are treated as White, too, despite their Indian subcontinent origins.

Until long after WWII, most of these “pale face” groups were endogamous, and many still are, statistically speaking, meaning that they married, lived and, often, worked among each other and not members of other ethnic groups.

So why are all the pale faces, and almost pale faces,
these days lumped together as Whites on a government census?

This is very bad anthropology. It is not science-based. It is not empirical, and—God forbid! —it’s not evidence-based either. Also, remember that some pale-faced groups hate and persecute other pale-faced groups, a key aspect of many “ethnic boundaries.” Consider the war in Ukraine! This is just one example.

The madness of this census and its broken categories comes down to one thing: political correctness and Critical Race Theory, which, when taken together, must invent a category of “White” so proponents can blame everyone else’s suffering on this social construct. This ignores the fact that pale-faced ethnic groups are as diverse as people of color. If we were to take the CRT acronym of DIE (“diversity, inclusion and equity”) seriously, then these groups and the individuals who comprise them should be allowed to self-define.

Since we now live in a society that allows us to choose our pronouns, why can’t we choose our ethnicity as our fundamental defining feature, for it realistically includes things like neighborhoods, religious affiliation, and a way of looking at the world (not to mention good food)?

Should not, according to this twisted logic, the next government census reflect this multicultural truth? Can I again quote singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen (deceased member of one of Canada’s transnational minorities) because the truth is, “Everybody knows.”

These Canadian census categories are very bad anthropology. They are unbalanced, and they are used to reduce hiring in the private sector and the government by those who are naïve enough to check off their category as “White.” The newspapers here are full of examples, and the policies are not hidden. Affirmative action based upon these bogus anthropological categories is totally out of control in this once fine country.

Canada and Canadians are at their best when they reject the politicization of personal identity; when they abide by the shared traditions of Anglo-American law and the Judeo-Christian tradition; and above all, when they are judged by the quality of their character, not by the color of their skin or ethnic identity.

Canadians, like Americans, must reject the politicization of ethnic labels. Give the study of ethnicity back to the anthropologists, for that is where it came from. Let us once again become individuals, equal under the law.

Lyrics:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that its now or never
Everybody knows that its me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old black joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the plague is coming
Everybody knows that its moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows its coming apart
Take one last look at this sacred heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Footnote:

I doubt Leonard Cohen had climate or social justice in mind when he wrote this masterpiece.  But he did have a pertinent poetic insight; namely, that social proof is an unreliable guide to the truth.

Climatism the Real Threat to Democracy

Philip Cross writes at Financial Post Canada The real threat to democracy.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds

Having failed at the ballot box, millennial climate activists will
pursue any means to impose their will on society

There are a number of important outcomes from Monday’s election in Quebec. Two of the most important are the eclipse of Quebec’s traditional political parties by new ones, including the Conservative Party of Quebec, and the growing gap between voters in Montreal and the rest of Quebec.  But the feature I want to emphasize is the failure of the radical Québec Solidaire (QS) party to significantly expand its base. 

Québec Solidaire based its campaign on the environment. It emphasized the existential threat of climate change that teenage activist Greta Thunberg trumpeted at a much-publicized 2019 rally in Montreal where she made the empty boast, “We are changing the world.” QS co-leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called this election “the last chance” to stop climate change, as if Quebec’s actions could have any significant impact on global emissions.

The failure of Québec Solidaire to mobilize more support shows that even Quebec’s supposedly progressive electorate does not support the wholesale reshaping of our society and economy to combat climate change. The Green Party similarly failed to make the case for environmental supremacy at the federal level, seeing its share of the vote halved in the 2021 election from its already low level of six per cent.

Unfortunately, the failure of parties focused on the environment and climate change to win at the ballot box does not deter activists from looking for other means to impose their views on society. The mainstream media portrays the authoritarianism of populist movements such as Donald Trump’s as the greatest threat to democracy today. But this ignores how environmental groups resort to government regulations and lawsuits to circumvent the popular will and achieve their own goals.

Having failed to make their case in the political arena, environmentalists increasingly are asking the courts to impose restrictions that voters have not supported. In a current case (Mathur v Ontario) six teenagers are asking the Ontario Superior Court to agree that climate change is violating their rights and order the government to implement measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions — even though Ontario only accounts for 0.3 per cent of global emissions. The Supreme Court of Canada recently refused even to hear a similar class action lawsuit from another group of young people.

It is unfathomable that courts would agree to usurp government authority and dictate energy consumption, which is the basis of our civilisation and our economy. Yet not one peep has been heard from the media about the anti-democratic nature of this initiative. Instead, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault lauded the youths involved in the Supreme Court lawsuit for their “passion” instead of criticizing their attempt to circumvent the democratic process and subjugate Parliament’s will to the courts.

In her book Paradoxes of Prosperity, University of Cambridge economics professor Diane Coyle notes a fundamental difference between the protest movements of the 1960s and those of today’s millennials. Dissidents in the 1960s were fundamentally anti-authoritarian and libertarian, looking for ways to increase personal freedom and individual choice. Millennial movements, by contrast, especially among environmentalists, have a prescriptive agenda they want to impose on others. Columbia University historian Kim Phillips-Fein observed in her book, Invisible Hands, that environmentalists have long been “hostile to the very institutional framework of a free society.” Young people are especially likely to attach diminished importance to democracy: in a 2017 poll only a third of American youths agreed it is important to live in a democracy while 18 per cent said they would welcome a military dictatorship.

Political parties with radical and draconian environmental goals have clearly failed to win significant support from the electorate. What is different and worrisome for the future of democracy is the growing willingness of millennial social movements to impose their narrow agenda on the public by any other means available. The real threat to democracy today is, not the populist right-wing movements that preoccupy mainstream media, but the attempt of frustrated environmentalists to circumvent elections.