Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Was the Debate Beat Down Fatal for Mayor Mike?

Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Mayor Mike Bloomberg learned what it is like to be thrown up against a wall and frisked.

At the opening of the Democratic debate, his first, Mayor Mike was greeted by his nearest neighbor on stage, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with this warm welcome:

“We’re running against … a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’ And, no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

Bloomberg was not only charged with misogyny and sexism but racism for his stop-and-frisk policy, which the NYPD pursued during his three terms as mayor. By Bloomberg’s own admission, stop and frisk singled out black men between 16 and 25.

Undiscussed were the positive results of the policy.

Gun homicides in New York fell to levels below those attained by his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani. And if those most often frisked were black and Hispanic men, the lives saved and the woundings prevented were also mostly those of people of color.

Yet, a question that remains after this debate was one that was puzzling even before the debate.

Why did he do it? Why did Bloomberg, who is not on the Nevada or South Carolina ballot, decide to join the debates before these contests?

Today, the mayor’s campaign is probably buying tens of millions of dollars in ads to undo the damage done to him under the remorseless fire on his character, campaign and record from his rivals Wednesday night.

These attacks were predictable and predicted. Why did he submit to this? Who counseled Bloomberg to climb into the ring?

By investing $350 million in ads in primary states since November and crafting scheduled appearances while avoiding adversarial talk shows and candidate debates, Bloomberg had propelled himself from nowhere into the top tier of candidates in every state on Super Tuesday.

Why did he abandon a winning strategy to walk out, unprepared, onto a stage full of enraged and exasperated rivals who think he is buying and stealing a nomination for which they have fought for a year?

Why did he volunteer to enter a forum where he had to know his rivals would become a flash mob before he answered his first question? This was campaign malpractice of historic dimensions.

It is going to take hundreds of millions of dollars in new ads to undo the damage done to Bloomberg’s reputation among the millions of voters who got their first impression of the mayor from the debate.

Where does the race stand before Saturday’s caucuses in Nevada?

Sen. Bernie Sanders, his energy restored after his heart attack a few months back, his lines honed by a year’s repetition, was at the top of his game Wednesday night, fending off attacks and fighting back with a passion and ferocity that Bloomberg never exhibited.

With his popular vote victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, five national polls showing him taking the lead from Joe Biden, and contributions pouring in from his huge army of small donors, Sanders is the favorite to win in Nevada and man to stop.

But after Super Tuesday, March 3, he may be unstoppable.

A new Washington Post poll Wednesday shows Sanders with a huge lead among young voters and in a statistical tie with Joe Biden among African Americans. And he is flush with cash.

March 4 could see Sanders with an almost insurmountable lead that could have him enter the Milwaukee convention with a majority of delegates or a plurality so huge as to make it politically impossible for his adversaries to gang up on him and take the nomination away.

For who would be the beneficiary of such a robbery on the convention floor? The same Bloomberg his rivals described Wednesday night as a misogynist, sexist and racist.

Bloomberg’s campaign is sounding the alarm that Sanders could soon amass an insurmountable delegate lead if the Democratic field stays split, and is urging the other candidates to drop out.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Vice President Biden are being told that if they do not get out of the race and clear the lane for the mayor, they will get a socialist as their nominee, and the party will deserve the fate November will bring — a second term for Trump.

Bloomberg’s strategist Kevin Sheekey was pointedly warned by staffers on Thursday:
“If Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar remain in the race despite having no path to appreciably collecting delegates on Super Tuesday (and beyond), they will propel Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead by siphoning votes away from (Bloomberg).”

As the other candidates cannot beat Sanders, Bloomberg’s campaign is saying, they should step aside and clear the field for Mayor Mike. This would call for a spirit of self-sacrifice and measure of esteem for the mayor not evident on that stage Wednesday night.

Bernie Sanders Is Wrong Again

A record-high number of Americans — 90% — say they are satisfied with their personal lives, according to Gallup. And 74% are optimistic that they will continue being financially satisfied moving forward. Needless to say, the United States will never be a utopia, but for the vast majority of its citizens, most things are going in the right direction.

During the Democratic presidential debate last night, Bernie Sanders, lamenting how a once-prosperous society had been hollowed out by capitalism, claimed that we are no better off today than we were many years ago. It’s a shame that not a single debate moderator ever challenges this farcical assertion. In Sanders’ telling, “people … after 45 years of work are not making a nickel more than they did 45 years ago.”

For those who weren’t alive then, the 1970s were largely a crime-ridden decade of stagnant economics, city bankruptcies, crushing energy prices, sky-high interest rates, institutional rot, garbage and retirement-destroying inflation. Though it was a far better place than the Communist hot spots Sanders praised during those years, it certainly was not ideal.

And a big part of the post-’70s economic boom we’re still experiencing today — the one that certain progressive and some statist right-wingers like to disparage — was propelled by policies that freed Americans from overbearing technocratic oversight, intrusive regulations and stifling taxes that undermined growth.

The alleged “wage stagnation” to which Sanders and others are constantly referring is a myth. For one thing, “wage stagnation” fails to take into account the health care benefits, pensions, vacations, family leave and other perks now embedded in job packages — somewhere around 30% of an employee’s overall benefits.

Once those benefits are added, Americans probably have seen about a 45% wage increase since 1964. More important, the amount of time we work to buy things we need is less. What we buy does more, and it’s of higher quality. Does anyone believe that a dollar spent on medical care in 1975 equals a dollar spent today?

Partly because of a worldwide retreat from collectivism, extreme poverty has dramatically decreased. Massive new markets have opened to us. Despite the perception of many, medium household incomes are at an all-time high. The middle class is growing — especially the upper-middle class. In the past 50 years, spending on food and clothing as a share of family income has fallen from 42% to 17%. Your house is probably more expensive than the average house was in 1975, but it’s also more comfortable and safer.

The year Sanders graduated from college, less than 6% of his fellow Americans — the majority of them wealthy, very few of them minorities or women — were enrolled in higher education. In 1975, only around 11% were enrolled in college. According to the Federal Reserve study, millennials are the most educated generation, with 65% of them possessing at least an associate’s degree.

Better education, soaring productivity and technological advances allow an increasing number of Americans to pick vocations that are safer, less monotonous and more rewarding.

In 1970, around 14,000 workers were killed on the job in the United States. That’s somewhere around 10,000 more deaths yearly than the number of those who perished in the entire Iraq War. Although the workforce had more than doubled since then, the number of occupational deaths in the United States has dropped to around 5,100.

There’s a decent chance that Sanders’ heart attack would have killed a 78-year-old man in 1975. If not, it would have required dangerous surgery. Despite a small dip recently, life expectancy has skyrocketed in the United States over the past 45 years — adding more than six years since 1975. The cancer casualty rate has fallen more than 27% in the past 25 years — which adds up to more than 2 million deaths averted during that time.

We’ve been able to mitigate the damage of so many diseases and ailments over the past 45 years — allowing millions to lead longer, more active and less painful lives — that it would take a book to lay out the miraculous number of advances properly.

Most of these developments, not incidentally, were brought to us by profit-driven companies.

In 1975, the child mortality rate was 18.8 per 1,000. In 2019, it was 5.7. Fatalities due to weather events have plunged. Deaths due to air pollution — surely near its smoggy height in 1975 — have fallen, as well. We have cleaner water and cleaner streets.

In 1975, Sanders’ hometown of New York City saw 1,645 murders and rampant criminality. In 2017, there were 286 homicides in NYC. Vehicular fatalities per 100 million in 1975 were at 3.35; now they’re near a historic low of 1.13.

Also, you have a supercomputer in your pocket that offers you instant access to all of human knowledge.

Yes, some Americans still suffer, and some of our goods and services are more expensive than they once were (usually due to market intervention). But we are, by nearly every quantifiable measure, collectively better off today than ever before. And what sufferings millennials do experience today often are a result of their making different choices than their parents did. Bernie should understand this better than most. It’s not in every country that a professional revolutionary can afford to buy a dacha on Lake Champlain.

Black History Month: What About the Arab-Muslim Slave Trade in Africa?

As for America’s annual Black History Month, actor Morgan Freeman spoke for many during this 2005 exchange with CBS’s Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes”:

Wallace: “Black History Month, you find …”

Freeman: “Ridiculous.”

Wallace: “Why?”

Freeman: “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?”

Wallace: “Come on.”

Freeman: “What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month? Come on; tell me.”

Wallace: “I’m Jewish.”

Freeman: “OK. Which month is Jewish History Month?”

Wallace: “There isn’t one.”

Freeman: “Why not? Do you want one?”

Wallace: “No, no.”

Freeman: “I don’t either. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”

Wallace: “How are we going to get rid of racism until … ?”

Freeman: “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, ‘I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.’ Hear what I’m saying?”

Despite years of Black History Februarys, many know little to nothing about the vast role played by Arab and Muslim slavers in the African slave trade. The practice began centuries before Europeans slavers bought and transported slaves out of Africa and continued well after European slavery ended.

Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill, for example, teaches media studies and urban education. He once tweeted, “I support reparations 100%.” When the NFL offered its players a 2017 trip to Israel to give them a better understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hill encouraged the players not to go. About an open letter signed by several prominent blacks in the entertainment industry and others known for their involvement in social justice, Hill wrote, “The letter drew on the undeniable connections between the struggles faced by black and brown communities in the U.S., and Palestinian, Afro Palestinian, Eritrean and Sudanese communities in Israel and Palestine.” Did the “struggles” to which Hill referred have anything to do with Arab and Muslim slavers?

During February, students K-12 are, of course, taught about slavery. But as with Hill, what many teachers seem not to emphasize is that slavery is as ancient as humankind and that it was practiced nearly everywhere. Economist Thomas Sowell writes: “More whites were brought as slaves to North Africa than blacks brought as slaves to the United States or to the 13 colonies from which it was formed. White slaves were still being bought and sold in the Ottoman Empire, decades after blacks were freed in the United States.” This includes the huge role played by Arab-Muslim slavers.

As to the Arab-Muslim slave trade, Ghanaian professor and minister John Azumah helped set the record straight in “The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa.” In an interview about his book, Azumah said the following:
“While two out of every three slaves shipped across the Atlantic were men, the proportions were reversed in the Islamic slave trade. Two women for every man were enslaved by the Muslims.

“While the mortality rate of the slaves being transported across the Atlantic was as high as 10%, the percentage of the slaves dying in transit in the Tran-Saharan and East African slave market was a staggering 80 to 90%.

“While almost all the slaves shipped across the Atlantic were for agricultural work, most of the slaves destined for the Muslim Middle East were for sexual exploitation as concubines in harems and for military service.

“While many children were born to the slaves in the Americas, the millions of their descendants are citizens in Brazil and the United States today. Very few descendants of the slaves who ended up in the Middle East survived.

“While most slaves who went to the Americas could marry and have families, most of the male slaves destined for the Middle East were castrated, and most of the children born to the women were killed at birth.

“It is estimated that possibly as many as 11 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic, 95% of which went to South and Central America, mainly to Portuguese, Spanish and French possessions; only 5% of the slaves ended up in what we call the United States today.

“However, a minimum of 28 million Africans were enslaved in the Muslim Middle East. Since at least 80% of those captured by the Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave markets, it is believed that the death toll from 1,400 years of Arab and Muslim slave raids into Africa could have been as high as 112 million.”

Mr. Freeman is right. Black history is American history. It ought not be “relegated” to a month, and slavery ought not be relegated to only the European slave trade. The truth about slavery includes the long, extensive and deadly role played by Arab and Muslim slavers.

How Brexit Could Totally Change the U.S. Meat Market

The fervor around Britain’s official exit from the EU might have died down, but American farmers and English meat lovers should be celebrating for years to come. After all, Brexit has provided the opportunity to totally revamp a starving meat market.

Right now, exports to EU countries make up only a tiny percentage of all U.S. beef exports, while exports to countries like South Korea, which has a smaller population than the U.K., make up 20%. That means that not only could a new trade deal expand the dinner menu for those in the U.K., this potentially new market could also mean big business deals for U.S. beef and other meat producers.

In 1981, the EU banned the use of synthetic hormones in their cattle production, and then the import of hormone-treated beef in 1989, citing safety concerns for human consumption from these artificial enhancers. So, for decades, the U.S. has been trying to convince the EU to budge on its meat restrictions, because an overwhelming majority of meat producers in the U.S. use hormones, like estrogen, when raising their cattle, or feed them genetically-modified grain.

Non-GMO farmers, organic grass-fed cattle and hormone-free ranches certainly exist in the U.S. Just look at the source farm for any beef jerky packet from Whole Foods. Their farming style has been wildly successful within the U.S. because of organic and clean-eating food trends. And abroad, their products are even higher in demand, of course, because they’re the only farmers who have been able to export to most European countries. But the vast number of meat producers who have been boxed out of this market because of the ban would certainly jump at the first opportunity to be welcomed back in.

In 2009, the EU and the U.S. struck a compromise in light of the frustration the restrictions were causing. The two parties signed an official Memorandum of Understanding, meaning that if the EU agreed to open up to more trade, the United States would not challenge them too much on the beef restrictions.

A revised trade deal was then negotiated just last year, which guaranteed large increases in trade for non-hormone, or “high quality beef” trade. That meant no benefit to the average U.S. cattle rancher — but a massive buyer guarantee for the few non-GMO, hormone-free, speciality ranchers.

And although the United States won its case against the EU in the WTO that confirmed the EU’s “scientific reasons” for beef trade restrictions weren’t actually scientifically based, the U.S. decided to indulge the EU’s protectionist policy — at the expense of taxpayers and the vast majority of ranchers. Indeed, the U.S. has spent millions of tax dollars setting up inspection and certification processes in the Department of Agriculture to export “high-quality” beef with the EU.

It’s puzzling that after years of fighting the restrictions, the U.S. would capitulate like this, to the detriment of much of the cattle industry. It’s not fair to cattle farmers, especially since hormone-treated beef isn’t “low quality.” It’s simply produced in a different, yet equally safe, way. The U.S., then, ought to draft a new deal that benefits the entire industry.

There is an impending challenge coming from some British politicians who have expressed their intention to keep hormone-treated meats out of the U.K. market. But Brexit removed the U.K. from the EU and thus removed its beef market from any prior U.S.-EU agreements. So if Britain moves to prevent trade, they’d be violating the WTO membership agreement and could bring on a trade war with the United States.

In my travels to Italy last year, I had many delicious meals, but I noticed that the meat selection was profoundly lacking. Millions of Europeans don’t even know what they’re missing, because hormone-treated beef hasn’t been legal there for nearly 40 years. But that could all change for Britain, now that it has left the European Union. New meat trade deals with the U.K. can be the window for the rest of Europe to see how safe U.S. beef and other meat products are (and also how superior they are in taste, thanks to our ranchers’ rearing practices). Post-Brexit Britain and the U.S. ought to work with one another for the sake of European consumers and an enhanced trade relationship that would be a win-win for all parties involved.

Patricia Patnode is the Outreach Director at LoneConservative.com and is a contributor for Young Voices.

Crooked Big Shots Get a Break

Irving Kristol, a New York intellectual and youthful communist who became a guru of the American right, once defined a neoconservative as “a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” Thanks to Donald Trump, we have a new definition of a criminal justice reformer: a rich person who is shocked to see his felonious friends punished as though they were poor.

Sorting out the motives behind the president’s sudden slew of clemency actions for people he knows and likes is not terribly difficult. Trump is a monumental sleazeball who is comfortable with other sleazeballs, provided they are people of means and fame. It also helps if they are willing to play the role of toady because Trump likes to see people grovel before him.

Rod Blagojevich gained his favor during their time together on Trump’s reality TV show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.” In dismissing him from the competition, Trump said, “Governor, I have great respect for you. I have great respect for your tenacity, for the fact that you just don’t give up.” Afterward, he made a point of saying how badly he felt for the guy who tried to sell a Senate seat.

In commuting Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence, of which he has served nearly eight years, Trump lamented the heartless severity of the criminal justice system. “You have drug dealers that get not even 30 days, and they’ve killed 25 people,” claimed the president, with his usual habit of making stuff up. “They put him in jail for 18 years, and he has many years left. And I think it’s very unfair.”

What Trump didn’t mention is that the disgraced Illinois governor got off easy. After his 2011 conviction, prosecutors and the presiding judge agreed that the federal sentencing guidelines for his crimes, which mandated 360 months to life, were excessive. Judge James Zagel said a more reasonable range was 188 months to 235 months. He then imposed an even lighter sentence, 168 months.

It’s safe to assume that Blagojevich strove to ingratiate himself with Trump during their TV time. If that weren’t enough, his wife, Patti, went on Fox News repeatedly to praise Trump and plead for help, while heaping blame on Barack Obama and James Comey. She knew Trump’s triggers.

Blagojevich was in appropriate company Tuesday. Trump also pardoned former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including tax fraud, got off with a four-year sentence instead of the 30 years he could have received, and was released after serving three years.

The dirty cop, who served under Trump henchman Rudy Giuliani, responded to Trump’s decision with a maudlin lament: “Going to prison is like dying with your eyes open. Its aftermath of collateral consequences and the permanent loss of many of your civil and constitutional rights are personally devastating.”

It’s enough to break your heart. But the savage cruelty of incarceration never occurred to him when he was supervising a department that arrests hundreds of thousands of people every year so they can be prosecuted and imprisoned.

Trump also announced pardons for Michael Milken, a crooked Wall Street billionaire who did time for securities fraud, and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., convicted of failing to report a felony in a gambling industry scandal. The president has a remarkable capacity for mercy when it comes to people blessed with wealth or power who, like him, hold the law in contempt.

This is the same guy who in 1989 took out an ad in The New York Times demanding the restoration of the death penalty in New York and suggesting it would be appropriate for the Central Park Five. Never mind that rape was not a capital crime when the state had the death penalty. Never mind that the five, after serving time, were exonerated of the infamous attack.

Trump lusted for the harshest penalty, and he didn’t agonize over whether it might be applied to the innocent. But then, the wrongly convicted boys, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, weren’t wealthy, powerful, well connected, white or in a position to kiss Trump’s feet.

Another rich, arrogant New Yorker, hotel magnate Leona Helmsley, who went to prison, was quoted by her housekeeper as saying, “We don’t pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes.” Under Trump, the little people pay the full price for their crimes, and the big people get a discount.

China’s Coronavirus Cover-Up

When a young Mark Zuckerberg signed his new “Facebook” project with a video game quote — “Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master” – it was unlikely he consciously considered it a warning of how a dictatorial Chinese government could medically endanger the global population.

The young Zuckerberg clearly understood that information is power; power he and other social media moguls now wield.  But do they – or do people generally – even now understand or appreciate how control over the flow of information can be abused and imperil human beings in so many ways, when in the hands of unaccountable government officials?

While human rights issues associated with authoritarian regimes is (or certainly should be) a constant moral concern, there is a more practical danger with the control of information under oppressive governments. I wrote last month that the tragedy with Iran’s downing of a civilian aircraft – the result of military incompetence and a breakdown of information between military and civil authorities – was a prelude to a far greater nuclear nightmare should that country ever achieve its goal of possessing nuclear weapons. Now, we see these same mechanisms in China with the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

Even in the best of circumstances, controlling the spread of a previously unknown infectious disease is difficult. It becomes nearly impossible when the disease originates within a tightly controlled, authoritarian society that is image-obsessed and highly averse to having its reputation tarnished anywhere, especially on the international stage. Suddenly, the flow of information about the disease becomes a weapon not in addressing the outbreak, but in protecting those responsible from being held accountable.

Because information about the impact of the virus within China’s nearly impenetrable borders is so sparse, it is next to impossible to determine the extent or trajectory of the threat to the rest of the world. What we do know, however, is that much like the culture of fear within the smaller, but still tightly contained regime in Iran, China’s oppressive rule is rife with mistrust, incompetence, bad decision-making, and failures to act – all prerequisites for yet another cover-up of historic proportions. The Coronavirus outbreak could very well be China’s “Chernobyl,” wherein the obsession with keeping it “their” problem turns the situation into “our” problem.

Beyond the health concerns involving the Coronavirus, China’s conduct should serve as a warning for western governments as well, including our own. Left to its own devices, government – any government – will protect itself first and above all else. China’s communist behemoth is doing that right now, even as health officials in Europe, the United States and elsewhere try to understand what it is doing and limit the damage.

It would be extreme hubris were we to believe ourselves immune from governmental disfunction and abuse simply because we live in a society far more open and transparent than China’s. Our own James Madison, writing 232 years ago in Federalist 51, recognized that government unconstrained by explicit legal mechanisms to limit its exercise of power, would inevitably descend into despotism. We certainly are not on the precipice of despotism in Washington – Nancy Pelosi’s wild fearmongering notwithstanding – but the “mission creep” that infects American bureaucracies from the Pentagon to health facilities across the country, remains a constant threat inching us in that direction.

When a President-elect Donald Trump dared question the authority of the “Deep State,” and it, in turn, reacted by targeting him using existing laws and procedures designed to protect our government from abuse by adversaries, it is not only good public policy, but absolutely essential policy that we identify and question those abuses, correct them, and punish the perpetrators.  Every time such corrective action is not taken makes it more likely another such abuse will happen, and more likely it will go undetected.

Neither Madison nor his fellow Federalist writers used the term “Deep State” in their magnificent essays; they were not faced with a “communist dictatorship” by that name.  But they knew the beast by other names, in their era and in times past.  They had lived — and nearly died – under despotism.   The fate of societies that had risen and then crumbled because they lacked the tools to tame the beast, were understood clearly by these wisest of men.

Whether in modern-day Moscow, Tehran or Beijing, or in 18th Century Great Britain, unchecked and unquestioned government power leads to serfdom and ultimately, death.  If we today fail to draw corrective lessons from these and other examples, the seeds of our own demise will continue to germinate.

Michael Bloomberg Sacrificed Civil Liberties on the Altar of Public Safety

Michael Bloomberg has been taking flak from progressives lately because of his longstanding, enthusiastic support for New York City’s “stop, question, and frisk” program, a position he renounced just a week before he officially entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The former mayor’s support for stricter gun control laws, by contrast, is not very controversial among Democratic voters, although it reflects the same troubling readiness to sacrifice civil liberties on the altar of public safety.

During Bloomberg’s administration, the annual number of SQF encounters septupled, from fewer than 100,000 in 2002 to more than 685,000 in 2011. Nearly nine times out of 10, the pedestrians stopped, questioned and frisked by police were black or Hispanic.

SQF’s racially disproportionate impact has always been one of the main objections to it.

Until recently, Bloomberg argued that the strategy’s purported effectiveness in reducing gun violence justified the burden it imposed on young black and Hispanic men.

Now Bloomberg says he was wrong to credit SQF with reducing New York’s homicide rate, which continued to fall as the number of stops plummeted after 2011. He also wants Democrats to believe he has finally taken to heart the complaints of innocent people hassled by police for no good reason — complaints that in 2013 led a federal judge to conclude that SQF violated both the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Bloomberg never offered a credible defense of SQF’s constitutionality. To the contrary, he implicitly admitted that New York police officers were routinely flouting the Fourth Amendment.

The point of stopping and searching pedestrians, Bloomberg said, was not seizing illegal guns (which police almost never found) but deterring young men from carrying them. According to the Supreme Court, that is not a constitutionally permissible aim, since police may detain someone only if they reasonably suspect he is engaged in criminal activity and pat him down only if they reasonably suspect he is armed.

Bloomberg overlooked such niceties, he says, because “I was totally focused on saving lives.” The same tunnel vision is apparent in his gun control platform.

Bloomberg wants the federal government and all 50 states to enact “red flag” laws that suspend people’s Second Amendment rights when they are deemed a threat to themselves or others. Such laws raise many serious due process concerns, including vague standards, a lack of legal representation for respondents, and the automatic issuance of ex parte orders that deprive people of their constitutional rights without giving them a chance to rebut the allegations against them.

Bloomberg wants to ban so-called assault weapons, an arbitrarily defined category that includes some of the most popular rifles sold in the United States. Yet the Supreme Court has said the Second Amendment protects the right to own firearms “in common use” for “lawful purposes,” a description that clearly applies to the guns Bloomberg considers intolerable.

Bloomberg wants to require “background checks for all gun sales,” a policy aimed at enforcing legal restrictions on gun ownership that have little or nothing to do with public safety. If the system he favors works as intended, it will unjustly and irrationally stop millions of harmless people — including cannabis consumers and people who committed nonviolent drug felonies or underwent involuntary treatment for suicidal impulses decades ago — from exercising the constitutional right to armed self-defense.

Bloomberg wants to create a federal “permit” for gun purchases, which is constitutionally analogous to requiring that people get the government’s permission before they buy books, express their opinions online or start a prayer group. Such permits would be a vehicle for enforcing the current rules, the new ones Bloomberg favors, and whatever restrictions politicians dream up in the future.

As with SQF, Bloomberg simply assumes these policies will reduce gun violence, and he does not even consider whether they are constitutional. To him, that question is irrelevant when you are “totally focused on saving lives.”

Revolutionary Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders leads the race for the Democratic nomination.

He may become America’s first self-described “democratic socialist” president.

What does that mean?

Today, when Sanders talks about socialism, he says: “I’m not looking at Cuba. I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden.”

But Denmark and Sweden are not socialist. Denmark’s prime minister even came to America to refute Sanders’ claims, pointing out that “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy.”

Both Denmark and Sweden do give citizens government-run health care and have bigger welfare programs than America has. However, recently, they’ve moved away from socialism. Because their socialist policies killed economic growth, they cut regulations and ended government control of many industries.

Sanders probably doesn’t know that. He, like many young people, just loves the idea of socialism.

For my new video this week, Stossel TV producer Maxim Lott went through hours of Sanders’ old speeches. What he found reveals a lot about what Sanders believes.

When Sanders was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he went out of his way to defend Fidel Castro. “He educated the kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society!” Fortunately, Sanders added, “Not to say Fidel Castro or Cuba are perfect.”

No, they are not perfect. Castro’s government tortured and murdered thousands. By confiscating private property, they destroyed the island’s economy. Life got bad enough that thousands died trying to escape.

Even now in Cuba, most people try to live on less than $2 a day Sanders focuses on other things, like: “They did a lot to eliminate illiteracy!”

Sanders has long had a soft spot for socialist countries. He chose to honeymoon in Communist Russia, where he said people “seem reasonably happy and content.” He was “extremely impressed by their public transportation system… cleanest, most effective mass transit system I’ve ever seen in my life!”

He praised Soviet youth programs: “Cultural programs go far beyond what we do in this country.”

He did at least qualify his support, calling the Soviet government “authoritarian.”

But Sanders made no such criticism after Nicaragua’s socialist revolution. He praised the Sandinistas’ land “reform” because they were “giving, for the first time in their lives, real land to farmers so that they can have something that they grow. Nobody denies that they are making significant progress.”

Former landowners sure denied it. They’d had their land stolen. Sanders suggested that was OK because landowners are rich.

“Rich people, who used to have a good life there, are not terribly happy,” he said. “As a socialist, the word socialism does not frighten me… (P)oor people respect that.”

What about the hunger and poverty that socialism creates? Bernie had an odd take on that.
“American journalists talk about how bad a country is because people are lining up for food. That’s a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food; the rich get the food and the poor starve.”

After he said he was “impressed” by Sandinista leaders, Sanders added, “Obviously I will be attacked by every editorial writer in the free press for being a dumb dupe.”

I join them.

Bernie Sanders is indeed a “dumb dupe” about economics. Or as the Soviet Communists used to put it, “a useful idiot.”

Under Ortega’s rule, Nicaragua quickly fell further into poverty, and the socialists were voted out in 1990. Ortega later returned as a violent dictator. For most people in Nicaragua, Cuba and other centrally planned economies, life is hell.

Once Sanders was elected to Congress, he mostly stopped praising violent socialist revolutions.

At that time, Communist governments in Europe were collapsing. It was convenient for embarrassed former supporters of those governments to rebrand themselves.

In Congress, Sanders would call himself an independent and, in the estimation of his fellow Vermonter, former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, he “votes with the Democrats 98% of the time.”

But Sanders has never taken back the enthusiastic praise he gave to socialist regimes.

Bloomberg’s Deep Character Flaw Exposed

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a number of qualities that tend to impress – including business acumen and entrepreneurship – but courage of conviction is not among them. This is an omission that should seriously concern independent voters and business leaders who might be inclined to support his strengthening presidential bid.

As I opined in this publication in January, Bloomberg is a candidate to be taken seriously; but now more by Democrats in the primary than by Republicans in the general election.

His wealth remains mind-boggling, as does his willingness to part with it in his quest for the presidency. Mayors, congressmen and myriad other elected officials who have benefitted from his largesse over the past two decades, already are lining up as early endorsers.

The most noteworthy hallmark of Bloomberg’s overall success is his well-earned reputation for success in the financial arena. Bloomberg LP is a brand known and respected around the world and made its progenitor one of the richest men in the world.

Bloomberg’s rise in the political arena, while successful, has not been marked by the same degree of consistency and stability as the trajectory exhibited by his success in business. A registered Democrat long before he decided to throw his hat into the ring to succeed Rudy Giuliani as Mayor of New York, Bloomberg exhibited no angst whatsoever in switching his party affiliation from “D” to “R” then to “Independent” and now back to “D.”

The ease with which Bloomberg floats from one side of the political aisle to another appears not to trouble many Democrats. To be sure, throughout the modern political era leaders in both major parties have shown themselves quite flexible and forgiving in this regard. Lack of consistency is easily overlooked if not forgotten altogether, when balanced against short-term electoral success. With Bloomberg, however, such shifts and other recent pronouncements by the candidate represent a deeper and more fundamental character flaw.

Any individual seriously considering supporting Bloomberg should be deeply troubled by the ease with which he openly and cravenly discards not only ideas which formed the bases for his prior actions, but the actual policies themselves. His unseemly (actually, embarrassing) apology for the “stop-and-frisk” policy that was a key factor in his administration’s successful program to drive down the crime rate in the city he led, should telegraph to every supporter and potential supporter that at his core, the man is weak and untrustworthy.

While some Bloomberg supporters may remind us that Republican Richard Nixon, for example, more than once switched his position on key policies, there is a difference.

During his six years as President, Nixon did in fact anger many conservatives by signing pieces of legislation that institutionalized liberal environmental and workplace policies. Arguably, however, such moves were made by Nixon as bargaining chips in a larger game designed to institute what to him were far more consequential achievements in the international arena; and in this he largely succeeded. In other words, Nixon made conservatives upset, but did so according to a plan that accomplished what at least in his view, were other more important conservative goals.

In Bloomberg, there is no such plan against which to weigh his inconsistencies; nor has there in the past been one. In seeking voters’ support now, Bloomberg apologizes for doing something that he claims not to have understood then. This is blatantly and pathetically false.  Bloomberg is smart; of this there is little doubt. During his tenure as Mayor, he knew exactly what the stop-and-frisk policy was doing, to who, and why. Recordings now public establish beyond any doubt that “Mayor Mike” knew exactly and full-well what “stop-and-frisk” was.

In asking voters now to forgive him for what he claims not to have known then, he is asking them to overlook the fact he is a liar, but even more important, a weak leader.

I recently enjoyed watching a dark comedy about politics in the former Soviet Union – The Death of Stalin. As the anti-Stalin plotters walk from the closing scene, the character playing Nikita Khrushchev voices concerns to a fellow conspirator, “I’m worried about Malenkov, though. Can we trust him?” The co-conspirators question in reply is far more crucial — “Can you ever trust a weak man?”

Political Bias and Anti-Americanism on College Campuses

A recent Pew Research Center survey finds that only half of American adults think colleges and universities are having a positive effect on our nation. The leftward political bias, held by faculty members affiliated with the Democratic Party, at most institutions of higher education explains a lot of that disappointment. Professors Mitchell Langbert and Sean Stevens document this bias in “Partisan Registration and Contributions of Faculty in Flagship Colleges.”

Langbert and Stevens conducted a new study of the political affiliation of 12,372 professors in the two leading private and two leading public colleges in 31 states. For party registration, they found a Democratic to Republican (D:R) ratio of 8.5:1, which varied by rank of institution and region. For donations to political candidates (using the Federal Election Commission database), they found a D:R ratio of 95:1, with only 22 Republican donors, compared with 2,081 Democratic donors.

Several consistent findings have emerged from Langbert and Stevens’ study. The ratio of faculty who identify as or are registered as Democratic versus Republican almost always favors the Democratic Party. Democratic professors outnumber their Republican counterparts most in the humanities and social sciences, compared with the natural sciences and engineering. The ratio is 42:1 in anthropology, 27:1 in sociology and 27:1 in English. In the social sciences, Democratic registered faculty outnumber their Republican counterparts the least in economics 3:1. The partisan political slant is most extreme at the most highly rated institutions.

The leftist bias at our colleges and universities has many harmful effects. Let’s look at a few. At University of California, Davis, last month, a mathematics professor faced considerable backlash over her opposition to the requirement for faculty “diversity statements.” University of California, San Diego, requires job applicants to admit to the “barriers” preventing women and minorities from full participation in campus life.

At American University, a history professor recently wrote a book in which he advocates repealing the Second Amendment. A Rutgers University professor said, “Watching the Iowa Caucus is a sickening display of the over-representation of whiteness.” University of California, Berkeley, professor and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich chimed in to say: “Think about this: Iowa is 90.7% white. Iowa is now the only state with a lifetime voting ban for people with a felony conviction.

Black people make up 4% of Iowa’s population but 26% of the prison population. How is this representative of our electorate?” A Williams College professor said he would advocate for social justice to be included in math textbooks. Students at Wayne State University no longer have to take a single math course to graduate; however, they may soon be required to take a diversity course.

Then there’s a question about loyalty to our nation. Charles Lieber, former chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard, was arrested earlier this year on accusations that he made a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement about work he did for a program run by the Chinese government that seeks to lure American talent to China.

He was paid $50,000 a month and up to $158,000 in living expenses for his work, which involved cultivating young teachers and students, according to court documents. According to the Department of Justice, Lieber helped China “cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.”
It’s not just Harvard professors.

Newly found court records reveal that Emory University neuroscientist Li Xiao-Jiang was fired in late 2019 after being charged with lying about his own ties to China. Li was part of the same Chinese program as Lieber. A jury found a University of California, Los Angeles, professor guilty of exporting stolen U.S. military technology to China. Newsweek reported that he was convicted June 26 on 18 federal charges.

Meanwhile, NBC reported that federal prosecutors say that University of Texas professor Bo Mao attempted to steal U.S. technology by using his position as a professor to obtain access to protected circuitry and then handing it over to the Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei.

The true tragedy is that so many Americans are blind to the fact that today’s colleges and universities pose a threat on several fronts to the well-being of our nation.

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