David Kelley’s Three Greatest Hits – Article by Edward Hudgins

David Kelley’s Three Greatest Hits – Article by Edward Hudgins

 The New Renaissance Hat
Edward Hudgins
October 28, 2017
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David Kelley is retiring from The Atlas Society, which he founded in 1990 under the name of The Institute for Objectivist Studies. But I can’t imagine David with an “emeritus” moniker retiring from the world of ideas that he has helped to shape.

I was at the founding event in New York City that February nearly three decades ago. I spoke at Summer Seminars and attended one-day New York events in the 1990s, and I had the privilege of working for many years with David at the Atlas Society. Knowing The Atlas Society and David as I do, I offer my own picks for his three greatest intellectual hits.

First, in The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand, he explained that Objectivism is an open philosophy—indeed, that to be “open” is what separates a philosophy from a dogma. Objectivism originated with Ayn Rand, is defined by certain principles, but has its own logic and implications that might even be at odds with some of Rand’s own thoughts. The philosophy is open to revision and new discoveries. One implication of David’s understanding—and of the virtue of independence—is that individuals must come to the truth through their own minds and their own paths. David, therefore, rejected the practice of too many Objectivists of labeling those who disagreed with some or much of the philosophy as “evil.” In many cases they are simply mistaken. He rejected the practice of refusing even to speak with individuals who called themselves “libertarians,” arguing that the only way to change someone’s mind is to address that mind. David saved Objectivism from becoming a marginalized cult.

Second, David advanced Objectivism by showing that “benevolence” is one of the cardinal virtues of the philosophy. He argued that the logic of the ideas that constitute the philosophy leads to the conclusion that it should take its place among other virtues like rationality, productivity, pride, integrity, honesty, independence, and justice. His book Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence is an intellectual gem that has yet to be fully mined for the value it can offer to those who want to create a world as it can be and should be, a world in which humans can flourish.

Third, David identified three world views in conflict in today’s culture. The Enlightenment ushered in modernity, which values reason, with its products of science and technology; individuals, with their rights to pursue their own happiness; liberty, with governments limited to its protection; and dynamic free markets, with their opportunities for all to prosper. Opposing modernity, David sees premodernists, who emphasize the values of faith, tradition, social stability, and hierarchy. He also sees postmodernists, whom he describes as “vociferous foes of reason, attempting to undermine and expunge the very concepts of truth, objectivity, logic, and fact.” They see these and all values as “social constructs”—all except their own left-wing dogmas and their desire to use force to bend all to their soul-destroying whims. Those wanting to understand the values battle in our culture in order to win it for civilization must have David’s essay “The Party of Modernity” in their hands and its ideas in their minds.

David Kelley created The Atlas Society to further develop and promote Objectivism, the philosophy he loves. As he steps back from the day-to-day responsibilities of his position, I know he’ll devote more time to pursuing the ideas that give him so much joy and the rest of us so much enlightenment.

Dr. Edward Hudgins is the research director for The Heartland Institute. He can be contacted here.

In conjunction with other department directors, Hudgins sets the organization’s research agenda and priorities; works with in-house and outside scholars to produce policy studies, policy briefs, and books; contributes his own research; and works with Heartland staff to promote Heartland’s work.

Before joining Heartland, Hudgins was the director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society, which promotes the philosophy of reason, freedom, and individualism developed by Ayn Rand in works like Atlas Shrugged.  His latest Atlas Society book was The Republican Party’s Civil War: Will Freedom Win?

While at The Atlas Society, Hudgins developed a “Human Achievement” project to promote the synergy between the values and optimism of entrepreneurial achievers working on exponential technologies and the values of friends of freedom.

Prior to this, Hudgins was the director of regulatory studies and editor of Regulation magazine at the Cato Institute. There, he produced two books on Postal Service privatization, a book titled Freedom to Trade: Refuting the New Protectionism, and a book titled Space: The Free-Market Frontier.

Catalonia Shows the Danger of Disarming Civilians – Article by Laura Williams

Catalonia Shows the Danger of Disarming Civilians – Article by Laura Williams

The New Renaissance Hat
Laura Williams
October 28, 2017
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Since the tragic murder of 59 peaceful concertgoers in Las Vegas on Sunday, October 1, 2017, I’ve heard well-intentioned Americans from all political corners echoing heartbroken and tempting refrains:

Can’t we just ban guns?

Surely we can all get together on the rocket launchers.

Things like this would happen less often.

We have enough military.

While victims were still in surgery, some took to television and social media to criticize the “outdated” and “dangerous” Second Amendment to the Constitution. They have lived so long in a safe, stable society that they falsely believe armed citizens are a threat to life and liberty for everyone.

Those who claim to see no necessity or benefits of individual gun ownership need only look to the rolling hills of Catalonia, where a live social experiment is currently unfolding.

Unarmed Patriots

Just hours before an alleged lone gunman opened fire from the Mandalay Bay casino, the citizens of a small region surrounding Barcelona, Spain, cast a vote for their regional independence. Catalonia’s citizens have a unique language, culture, and history, and consider Spain a neighboring power, not their rightful rulers. So as America’s Continental Congress heroically did (and as Texans and Californians occasionally threaten to do) Catalonia wished to declare independence and secede.

Polling stations in Catalonia were attacked by heavily armed agents of the Spanish government with riot gear and pointed rifles. Spanish National Police fired rubber bullets and unleashed tear gas canisters on voters, broke down polling center doors, disrupted the vote, and destroyed enough ballots to throw results into serious doubt.

Exceedingly few of those would-be patriots were armed.

In Spain, firearm ownership is not a protected individual right. Civilian firearms licenses are restricted to “cases of extreme necessity” if the government finds “genuine reason.” Background checks, medical exams, and license restrictions further restrict access. Licenses are granted individually by caliber and model, with automatic weapons strictly forbidden to civilians. Police can demand a citizen produce a firearm at any time for inspection or confiscation. Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

But of course, that doesn’t mean that Spanish citizens don’t buy guns. In fact, Spanish taxpayers maintain an enormous arsenal of weapons, which are all in the hands “professional armed police forces within the administration of the state, who are the persons in charge of providing security to the population.”

Those agents of the Spanish government weren’t “providing security to the population” of Catalonia on Sunday — they were pointing guns at would-be founding patriots who had challenged the rule of their oppressors.

“If somebody tries to declare the independence of part of the territory — something that cannot be done — we will have to do everything possible to apply the law,” Spain’s justice minister said in a public address.  While many polling places were closed or barricaded, 2.3 million voters (90% in favor of independence) were permitted to vote, he claimed, “because the security forces decided that it wasn’t worth using force because of the consequences that it could have.”

The consequences of a government using force to control those it is sworn to protect must be high. When citizens are armed, the consequences for tyranny rise and its likelihood falls.

Armed Tyrants

Americans have grown too trustful of the federal government, too ready to assume its bureaucrats have only our best interests at heart. Even with a maniacal man-child in the Oval Office, many are seemingly eager to turn over individual liberty to those who promise to manage our lives for us. The United States was designed to be the smallest government in the history of the world, with no standing army, and little right to intrude in the private activities of its citizens. Instead, we have the most powerful and intrusive government in human history, with 800 permanent military bases in 70 countries, unfathomable firepower, and staggering surveillance capabilities. Unchecked abuses of power are routine and tolerated.

67 federal agencies, including the IRS and the FDA, have military weapons, according to the OpenTheBooks Oversight Report “The Militarization of America“. Among the most intrusive programs, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Agency, do not disclose their weaponry budget.

The number of armed government officials with arrest and firearm authority has doubled since 1996. The US now has more armed “civilian” federal officers (200,000+) than US Marines (182,000). The IRS spends millions of taxpayer dollars annually on pump-action shotguns, AR-15 rifles, riot gear, and Special Forces contractors to train thousands of “special agents” in targeting American citizens.

Local police, sheriffs, and state troopers have also been armed to wage war against American citizens.  Battlefield weapons are being given to state and local police, allegedly to combat drug trafficking and fight terrorist threats at local pumpkin festivals. Military SWAT-style raids are used to serve search warrants for low-level drug possession, not hostage situations. Relatives and neighbors of alleged criminals have had government guns held to their children’s heads. Violations of civil rights, including illegal searches and the seizure of money and property without evidence of any crime, are commonplace.

Law enforcement requests military equipment directly from the Pentagon’s war-fighting machine: tanks, machine guns, rocket launchers, tear gas, camouflage, shields, and gas masks.  Military equipment is often purchased with civil asset forfeiture slush funds to bypass legislative appropriations challenges.

The high percentage of civilian law enforcement who are military veterans (one in five, by some estimates) compounds the cultural risks of treating average Americans like enemy combatants.

Showdowns between civilians and heavily armed agents of the state in FergusonBaltimore, the Oregon Wildlife Refuge, and at various other political protests across the country should remind us that gun-control advocates won’t be reducing the number of guns so much as shifting them all into either federal or criminal hands.

The senseless murder in Las Vegas is a frighteningly familiar tragedy. But don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”

Dr. Laura Williams teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking, individual liberties, and the Oxford Comma.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

The Source of America’s Division: Not What We’ve Thought? – Article by Annie Holmquist

The Source of America’s Division: Not What We’ve Thought? – Article by Annie Holmquist

The New Renaissance Hat
Annie Holmquist
October 27, 2017
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Pundits today are fond of saying that Americans are divided because of a broad slate of reasons, race and gender being two primary ones.

But according to a new Pew survey, these reasons may not be dividing America nearly as much as we’ve been led to believe. In fact, it appears that political party may hold a good share of the blame on that front. As Pew explains, the differences between Republicans and Democrats on various hot-button issues have widened from 15 points to 36 points in the last two decades. By contrast, division due to race, religion, age, and gender has remained fairly stable, a fact shown in the chart below:

This is rather surprising, particularly since it runs counter to the narrative given out in the news media.

But it shouldn’t be surprising to students of history, for America’s foremost founder once gave a very sharp warning regarding this issue.

In his Farewell Address, George Washington cautioned Americans against forming factions and giving way to the party spirit. The reason he gave this caution was due to the negative effects which the partisan spirit kindles in society:

“[I]t serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”

I’m not sure about you, but if ill-founded jealousies, false alarms, intensified animosity, riot, and insurrection don’t sound like what America is experiencing today, I’m not sure what does.

The fact is, we’ve been told that this unrest is the fault of inequities which persist in our country. But is the unrest in effect the fault of our intensified loyalty to political party, which often indicates an unwillingness to listen to opposing viewpoints and ideas?

If so, we need to be careful about continuing to foster such attitudes, for as Washington also notes in his Farewell Address, the intensified party spirit only leads to misery under a despotic government and a dictatorial, self-serving leader.

If we want to avoid such a state, do we need to stop placing the blame for our current woes on race, class, and gender, and instead re-examine our partisan loyalties?

[Image Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen (CC BY-SA 4.0)]

This post, “The Source of America’s Division: Not What We’ve Thought? “,was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmquist.

Annie Holmquist is a senior writer with Intellectual Takeout. In her role, she assists with website content production and social media messaging.

Annie received a B.A. in Biblical Studies from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. She also brings 20+ years of experience as a music educator and a volunteer teacher – particularly with inner city children – to the table in her research and writing.

In her spare time Annie enjoys the outdoors, gardening, reading, and events with family and friends.

March of 84, Op. 85 (2017) – Musical Composition by G. Stolyarov II

March of 84, Op. 85 (2017) – Musical Composition by G. Stolyarov II

G. Stolyarov II


This symphonic march was composed by Gennady Stolyarov II on the occasion of the 84th Birthday of his grandfather, Gennady Stolyarov I, on October 24, 2017. This piece contains exactly 84 measures. The opus number is coincidental, but fortuitously so – as it looks forward to another year.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Gennady Stolyarov I led the development of some of the first computers in the Soviet Union and was granted the IEEE Computer Pioneer Award in the year 2000 for his achievements – “For pioneering development in ‘Minsk’ series computers’ software, of the information systems’ software and applications and for data processing and database management systems concepts dissemination and promotion”.

This composition is played using the Symphonic Orchestra in the Ludwig 3.0 Premium Software.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

This composition and video may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Q&A Session – October 21, 2017

U.S. Transhumanist Party Q&A Session – October 21, 2017

G. Stolyarov II
Martin van der Kroon
Sean Singh
B.J. Murphy


In this interactive question-and-answer session, which occurred at 1 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time on Saturday, October 21, 2017, U.S. Transhumanist Party Officers provided an updated view of the Transhumanist Party’s projects, operations, and achievements, in response to audience questions. Because October is Longevity Month, this Q&A session had a life-extension theme but also delved into various other areas, including how to address conspiracy theories and various approaches toward diet, nutrition, and cultural norms regarding food consumption. The Q&A session has been archived on YouTube here.

The following U.S. Transhumanist Party Officers took part in this Q&A session:

– Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman
– Martin van der Kroon, Director of Recruitment
– Sean Singh, Director of Applied Innovation
– B.J. Murphy, Director of Social Media

The YouTube question/comment chat for this Q&A session has been archived here and is also provided below.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party website here.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Facebook page here.

See the U.S. Transhumanist Party FAQ here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

Read More Read More

I am the Lifespan – Video by G. Stolyarov II

I am the Lifespan – Video by G. Stolyarov II

G. Stolyarov II


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party, discusses why longevity research is crucial, and how our generation stands on the threshold of finally dealing a decisive blow to the age-old enemies of aging and death, which have destroyed great human minds since the emergence of our species.

This video is part of the #IAmTheLifespan campaign, coordinated by Lifespan.io and the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) for Longevity Month, October 2017. Read more about this campaign here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form here.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Apply here.

Visit the website of the U.S. Transhumanist Party here.

“Come Down, O Maid” – Music for Tennyson’s “The Princess” by Rodney Rawlings

“Come Down, O Maid” – Music for Tennyson’s “The Princess” by Rodney Rawlings

The New Renaissance Hat
Rodney Rawlings
******************************
The Rational Argumentator is pleased to feature the most current arrangement of Rodney Rawlings’s musical adaptation of lyrics from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s 1847 poem, The Princess. This is a piano rendition, following up on Mr. Rawlings’s 2004 version of this piece for string orchestra.
 ***
Composer’s Description: In the link below I present a piano rendition of my song “Come Down, O Maid.”
 ***

The song is my musical setting of a Tennyson lyric that appears in his long poem The Princess (1847). Those much-loved verses, which I have presented at the very bottom of this post, have been described as “a summons to the valleys of domestic affection, away from the heights of idealism and abstraction.”

MP3 file for piano rendition (left-click to listen, right-click to download): “Come Down, O Maid”

Length: 4:46

If the reader is looking at my lyrics here while listening, it should be borne in mind that, because the vocal part is also represented by a piano sound, in a couple of sections it is harder to distinguish the two aurally:

 

Away below the frozen mountain

Deep in the valley was a shepherd,

And he sang:

 

Come down, O maid, come from yonder mountain:

What pleasure lives in height and cold? Come down, and cease

To sit a star on the sparkling spire.

Love is of the valley, O come thou down

 

And find him there,

Hand in hand with Plenty;

Nor cares for Death and Morning on the silver horns,

Nor firths of ice, furrow-cloven falls;

Let them dance thee do-own

To find him there.

 

(Transitional musical passage)

 

O maid, come down;

Leave the monstrous ledges

To spill their wreaths

That like a broken purpose waste:

So waste not thou;

All the vales await thee-ee;

Azure pillars arise to thee.

 

My shepherd pipe, children too, are calling,

Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;

The rivulets so clear hur’ying through the la-awn,

The moan of doves,

And murmuring of innumerable bees.

 

The maiden lived in splendoured height

And deep in the valley there the shepherd

Sang to her.

 

© 2011 Rodney Rawlings

 

Here are Tennyson’s actual verses:

 

COME down, O maid, from yonder mountain height:

What pleasure lives in height (the shepherd sang),

In height and cold, the splendour of the hills?

But cease to move so near the Heavens, and cease

To glide a sunbeam by the blasted Pine,

To sit a star upon the sparkling spire;

And come, for Love is of the valley, come,

For Love is of the valley, come thou down

And find him; by the happy threshold, he,

Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize,

Or red with spirted purple of the vats,

Or foxlike in the vine; nor cares to walk

With Death and Morning on the silver horns,

Nor wilt thou snare him in the white ravine,

Nor find him dropt upon the firths of ice,

That huddling slant in furrow-cloven falls

To roll the torrent out of dusky doors:

But follow; let the torrent dance thee down

To find him in the valley; let the wild

Lean-headed Eagles yelp alone, and leave

The monstrous ledges there to slope, and spill

Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke,

That like a broken purpose waste in air:

So waste not thou; but come; for all the vales

Await thee; azure pillars of the hearth

Arise to thee; the children call, and I

Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every sound,

Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;

Myriads of rivulets hurrying thro’ the lawn,

The moan of doves in immemorial elms,

And murmuring of innumerable bees.

 

As can be seen, this stunningly beautiful work was freely adapted to form the lyrics of my song. As well, I composed a musical framing theme providing context for the thoughts and feelings expressed.

Rodney Rawlings is a Toronto writer and composer/songwriter. He arrived at the concept of hypercomplex numbers independently, using Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism to guide him.  See his YouTube Channel

The Nuclear War That Almost Was and the Man Who Prevented It – Article by Brittany Hunter

The Nuclear War That Almost Was and the Man Who Prevented It – Article by Brittany Hunter

The New Renaissance Hat
Brittany Hunter
October 1, 2017
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Will we be so lucky the next time this happens?

On September 19, 2017,

Trump spoke in front of the United Nations and declared that, if necessary, the United States would do “what it needed to do” to protect itself against North Korean threats.

Standing on the floor of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump stated:

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has threatened North Korea with the prospect of nuclear war. Just last month, he promised to “unleash fire and fury” against the country, which had just launched its own ballistic missile over neighboring Japan. Since then, tensions have been mounting.

But as the two countries move closer to the brink of nuclear war, the world is about to celebrate the 34th anniversary of the nuclear war that almost was.

Apocalypse Almost

Stanislav Petrov was working the overnight shift on September 26, 1983 when he inadvertently saved the world from nuclear war.

As a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, Petrov was tasked with monitoring the country’s satellites, looking for possible nuclear weapons launched by the United States. There was nothing particularly unusual about this shift until the alarms began to sound at dawn.

The alarm had indicated a warning that America had launched five nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. And it was Petrov’s job to sound the alarm that would initiate a retaliation before it was too late.

“The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it,” Petrov remembered.

Earlier that same month, the Cold War had further escalated after the USSR had shot down a Korean commercial airliner that had flown into its airspace. The incident resulted in the deaths of 269 people including a United States Congressman from Georgia, Larry McDonald.

The heightened tensions between the two global superpowers made the decision forced on Petrov even more grave.

Petrov recalled:

“There was no rule about how long we were allowed to think before we reported a strike. But we knew that every second of procrastination took away valuable time, that the Soviet Union’s military and political leadership needed to be informed without delay. All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders — but I couldn’t move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan.”

Countless Lives Saved

Petrov hesitated because he had a gut instinct that something was off. This technology was still fairly new, and he was sure it had some kinks to be worked out. In his training, he was taught that any strike from the U.S. would most likely come as a full-fledged attack. Yet, the satellite system was only showing a handful of missiles. This hardly constituted all-out warfare. What if the satellite was incorrect? Was he willing to call in his superiors and start a nuclear war over a system error?

On the other hand, if the monitors were correct, Petrov only had 20 minutes to act before the missiles struck. After a torturous internal debate, Petrov decided not to act in haste. He quickly checked to see if the satellite had malfunctioned, causing it to report a false launch.

He soon discovered that there had in fact been an error and no missiles had been launched at all.

If Petrov had simply sounded the alarm for his superiors, as he was trained and ordered to do, there is a good chance counterstrikes would have been launched on behalf of the USSR and the world may not be as it is today.

Commenting on this historic event that almost was, arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis told NPR:

“[Petrov] just had this feeling in his gut that it wasn’t right. It was five missiles. It didn’t seem like enough. So even though by all of the protocols he had been trained to follow, he should absolutely have reported that up the chain of command and, you know, we should be talking about the great nuclear war of 1983 if any of us survived.”

The New Cold War

Petrov passed away in May of this year, avoiding having to witness America’s current flirtation with nuclear war.

Aside from the Cuban Missile Crisis, the September 26th incident was the closest the United States had ever been to a nuclear war — until now.

The escalation between the United States and North Korea builds by the day. As each president continues to taunt the other, either by showing off military might or dishing out childish insults, the world gets closer to the possibility of nuclear war: one that could also involve the nuclear arsenals of China, even Russia. Unlike Petrov, neither world leader has taken a moment to fully think this through. A nuclear war is in absolutely no one’s interest.

The US government has been ratcheting up tensions with nuclear Russia over Ukraine and the Middle East and with nuclear China over North Korea and disputed islands in the South China Sea. As relations between nuclear powers deteriorate, incidents like what happened on September 26, 1983 become more likely. We’re all alive today because a man like Stanislav Petrov was the one on duty that day. Will we be so fortunate the next time? What if a more obedient and “by the book” officer is at the helm the next time a system malfunctions or a message is miscommunicated when nuclear stakes are on the line? As a BBC article reported:

He says he was the only officer in his team who had received a civilian education. “My colleagues were all professional soldiers, they were taught to give and obey orders,” he told us.

So, he believes, if somebody else had been on shift, the alarm would have been raised.

Petrov was ominously right when he said, “…they were lucky it was me on shift that night.”

Brittany Hunter is an associate editor at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Brittany studied political science at Utah Valley University with a minor in Constitutional studies.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

Russian Collusion? – Article by Mollie Hemingway

Russian Collusion? – Article by Mollie Hemingway

The New Renaissance Hat
Mollie Hemingway
October 1, 2017
******************************

This essay is reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on September 7, 2017, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

We keep being told that President Trump is not normal. This much has been blindingly obvious. He had never run for office or otherwise served in a public capacity. He has been accused, not without reason, of breaking all manner of political norms. America’s most nontraditional president was never going to conduct business as usual from the West Wing. Less than a year into his first term, he has already caused much anguish in Washington. This should be no surprise—while running for office Trump repeatedly promised to “drain the swamp” and shake things up. Americans knew who they were voting for, and history will judge the results.

That said, Trump’s nascent presidency has coincided with perhaps the greatest violation of political norms this country has ever seen—a violation that has nothing to do with Trump’s behavior. Since the election last November, there has been a sustained, coordinated attack on Trump’s legitimacy as president following his victory in a free and fair election. This has the potential to cause far more lasting damage to America than Trump’s controversial style.

Democratic operatives and their media allies attempted to explain Trump’s victory with a claim they had failed to make stick during the general election: Trump had nefarious ties to Russia. This was a fertile area for allegations, if for no other reason than that Trump had been reluctant to express criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. By contrast, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly condemned Russia’s 2011 elections, saying they were “neither free nor fair” and expressing “serious concerns” about them. She publicly called for a full investigation while meeting with top Russian officials. This made Putin livid. “Mr. Putin said that hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘foreign money’ was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Mrs. Clinton had personally spurred protesters to action,” The New York Times reported.

Trump’s relationship with Putin was decidedly different. In December 2015, Putin called Trump “a really brilliant and talented person.” Trump replied: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” He added, “I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect.”

Then rumors surfaced in the summer of 2016 that Russia probably had something to do with the alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee email system, as well as the successful “phishing” of Democratic insider John Podesta’s inbox. Russia was also alleged to have tried to hack the Republican National Committee, but without success. It remained an open question whether the Russians were trying to help Trump or were simply trying to create chaos in the election. Regardless, these Democratic Party emails were published by WikiLeaks, and they confirmed what many critics had said about Clinton and the DNC—the DNC had engineered the primary to ensure a Clinton victory; the Clinton campaign had cozy, borderline unethical relations with members of the mainstream media; Clinton expressed private positions to Wall Street banks that were at odds with her public positions; and various other embarrassing details indicating her campaign was in disarray.

According to Shattered, a well-sourced book about the Clinton campaign written by sympathetic reporters, Clinton settled on a Russia excuse within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. [Campaign manager Robby] Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.

The Russian collusion story involves a lot of details, but there are two basic tactics that Trump’s enemies have used to push the narrative: they have put seemingly innocuous contacts with Russians under a microscope, and they have selectively touted details supplied by a politicized intelligence apparatus. And this has all been amplified by a media that has lost perspective and refuses to be impartial, much less accurate.

Meetings with Russians

If most of us can now agree that Putin’s Russia is a potential threat to the United States, we shouldn’t forget that the Washington establishment regarded this as a radical opinion not so long ago. Shortly after President Obama was elected in 2008, Time magazine ran a cover with him asking a Russian bear, “Can we be friends?” The media generally celebrated Secretary of State Clinton’s attempt at a Russian “reset” in 2009. Obama was later caught on a hot mic promising Putin more “flexibility” once he was reelected. And during Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, when his opponent Mitt Romney characterized Russia as our greatest geopolitical foe, Obama mocked him by saying, “The 1980s called. They want their foreign policy back.” The New York Times editorial page said of Romney’s Russia comments that they “display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender.”

Trump’s election changed all that. Not since the heyday of McCarthyism in the 1950s have so many in Washington been accused of consorting with Russians who wish to undermine American democracy.

The Washington Post reported in mid-January that Mike Flynn, Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor, had spoken via telephone with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials in retaliation for the DNC hacking. Although such conversations are perfectly legal, the Postsuggested, quite incredibly, that Flynn might have violated the Logan Act, which bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about “disputes” with the United States. The Logan Act, which has a long record of being cited by cranks, has not been enforced since it was passed (in 1799!) because it is widely considered to be grossly unconstitutional. In addition to the PostThe New York TimesForeign Policymagazine, and other outlets credulously repeated the same ludicrous talking point about Logan Act violations.

Let it also be noted that Flynn, while a critic of Russia and of the Iran nuclear deal that Russia helped put together, also was paid to speak at a dinner hosted by the Russian TV network Russia Today.

When then-Senator Jeff Sessions was asked, during his confirmation hearing to be U.S Attorney General, about allegations of Russian attempts to compromise the Trump campaign, he noted that he had been a Trump surrogate and hadn’t heard of any meetings for this purpose. When it turned out Sessions had met with Kislyak in a different capacity—as a U.S. Senator on the Armed Services Committee—the ensuing uproar in the media led him to recuse himself from any investigation into Russian meddling. Of course, it was Kislyak’s job to facilitate as many meetings as possible with top officials across the political spectrum, and he was seen at meetings with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Claire McCaskill, two prominent Democrats, as well as other Republicans. Indeed, such meetings between foreign ambassadors and U.S. elected officials are routine.

It’s true that Trump was associated with people who had ties to Russians. His former campaign manager Paul Manafort had previously done political consulting work in Ukraine for Russia-aligned groups. Carter Page, a foreign policy advisor with a limited role, is a Naval Academy graduate, businessman, and academic who has been open about his belief that America’s anti-Russian foreign policy has been counterproductive. And Roger Stone, a campaign advisor with a reputation for outlandish campaign work, reportedly spoke with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as well as Guccifer 2.0, who may be a Russian hacker.

But perhaps no meeting attracted as much scrutiny as one in June 2016 between Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and various Russians, including a Russian lawyer. According to email correspondence, the Trump associates were told they would receive opposition research on Clinton that may have been provided by the Russian government. No research was handed over, but critics said that the language in the emails supported claims of attempted collusion. After weeks of accusations, the story quickly ran out of steam when it was revealed that the Russian lawyer, who was to have provided the information, had employed a shadowy opposition research firm known as Fusion GPS—a business that had strong ties to Democratic interests, had previously tried to smear Mitt Romney donors and critics of Planned Parenthood, and had played a key role in a recent and infamous attempt to smear Trump.

Politicized Intelligence

Many allegations concerning Russia have been taken seriously based solely on the institutional credibility of the accusers. It appears that members of America’s intelligence community are some of the President’s most passionate opponents.

Late last December, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI put out a 13-page report touted as definitive proof of Russian state involvement in the DNC server hack and the phishing attack on John Podesta’s emails. It was remarkably paltry—vague and non-specific in a way that really didn’t help clarify the precise nature of Russia’s involvement. Cyberwarfare expert Jeffrey Carr wrote that the report “adds nothing to the call for evidence that the Russian government was responsible” for the hacks. It listed every threat ever reported by a commercial cybersecurity company that was suspected of having a Russian origin, Carr noted, lumping them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services, without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection existed. Former Air Force cyberwarfare officer Robert Lee said the report was of limited use to security professionals, in part because of poor organization and a lack of crucial details.

Senior intelligence appointees tried again in early January, with a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It was also lacking in specifics. But comments from high profile Democrats, supported by a leak campaign to media outlets, did have an effect. By late December, more than half of Democrats believed—despite the lack of evidence—that “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President,” according to a YouGov.com poll.

When Trump responded to these reports with dismissals and a few begrudging admissions of minor contacts with Russians, critics gleefully warned him that partisans at intelligence agencies would retaliate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.” Former George W. Bush speechwriter and current never-Trump activist David Frum echoed this sentiment: “CIA message to Trump: you mess with us, get ready for a leakstorm of Biblical proportions.” Essentially, intelligence agencies were being publicly encouraged to abuse their power to stop Trump before he had even assumed office.

In January, the big story dropped. “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him,” blared the headline from CNN. According to highly placed anonymous sources, top intelligence appointees had informed Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Trump that “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.” A former British intelligence operative had compiled a damaging “dossier” on the President-elect. CNN reported that intelligence officials considered this operative’s past work credible. But he had paid his Russian sources for the compromising information, and CNN published its report on the dossier without confirming any of the allegations. Within the hour, BuzzFeed published the actual text of the dossier. It said, among other things, that a senior Trump advisor and three of his colleagues had met with Kremlin operatives in Prague in late August or early September to undermine the Clinton campaign. And the Russians were said to have a kompromat file on Trump, including an amazing story about him renting a hotel room the Obamas had used and paying prostitutes to urinate on the bed.

One of the claims was quickly disproven: Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer who was alleged to have gone to Prague for a clandestine meeting with Kremlin operatives, had never been to Prague. And to date, no media organization has provided any independent evidence to confirm a single claim made in the dossier. It was soon revealed that the firm that had hired the former British operative and put together the dossier was the aforementioned Fusion GPS. What’s more, the FBI allegedly sought to pay the British operative to continue gathering dirt on Trump.

Aside from a lack of concern about the accuracy of the charges against Trump, intelligence chiefs were not discriminating about who got caught up in their anti-Trump crusade. In March, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced that “unmasking” of Trump transition team members had occurred during the last three months of the Obama presidency—that is, significant personal information from and about Trump associates had been collected and widely disseminated.

“I recently confirmed that, on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition,” Nunes said. The information collected, he added, had little or no foreign intelligence value, and nothing to do with Russia. Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, and National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes were later reported to be involved in this rampant unmasking activity.

Trump created one of the biggest firestorms of his presidency in May when he fired FBI Director James Comey. The embattled FBI head, who let Hillary Clinton slide after her illegal handling of classified information, had been routinely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans and was officially fired for general ineptness. However, Trump said it was also because Comey was playing games with the Russia investigation. In his letter relieving him of his duties, Trump mentioned that Comey had told him three times he was not under investigation. Many journalists scoffed at this claim, since Comey was publicly intimating otherwise. When he was fired, stories favorable to Comey about private meetings between Comey and Trump came out in the media.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee a few weeks later, Comey admitted he had, in fact, told Trump at least three times he was not under investigation by the FBI. Comey also admitted under oath that his leaks to The New York Times were designed to force the hiring of a special prosecutor. His strategy paid off when his close friend and former colleague Robert Mueller was appointed to head an investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. That investigation has since spiraled out to include leads “that have nothing to do with Russia,” according to media reports.

The egregious behavior of influential officials such as Comey has encouraged people to think that the verdict of the intelligence community was more conclusive than it was. During a 2016 presidential debate, Clinton said, “We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election.” Clinton’s claim wasn’t true. It was only three agencies—the FBI, the CIA, and the National Security Agency—that made the claim. Yet media outlets such as NBC, CBS, CNN, and The New York Times repeated the number 17. In late June, The New York Times corrected a story that made the false claim. So did the Associated Press.

In general, the media have overstated the confidence and public evidence in support of Russian hacking. One group of skeptical intelligence analysts, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), issued a memo in late July arguing that the hack of the DNC emails wasn’t a hack at all, but an internal leak. VIPS is generally thought to be sympathetic to the Left—the same group had cast doubt on the quality of intelligence that led the United States to invade Iraq in 2003. The VIPS memo raises questions about why the FBI failed to perform an independent forensic analysis of the Democratic emails or servers in question. In fact, no federal agency performed a forensic analysis, leaving that to CrowdStrike—a company with strong ties to the Clinton campaign that had an incentive to blame foreign governments for the attack. Surely, more forensic scrutiny of the centerpiece of the Russia hack claim is in order.

To date, despite all the misleading claims in news reports, the only actual crime related to the Trump-Russia investigation is the criminal leaking of classified information about U.S. citizens by intelligence officials.

Media Problems

A compliant media responded to the Clinton campaign’s “blame Russia” strategy by pushing stories alleging wrongdoing by Russia. Many of the early ones fell apart. The Washington Post published a story saying that “fake news”—a term originally used to describe the dissemination of blatantly false news reports intended to go viral on social media—was a Russian operation designed to help Trump. An editor’s note was appended backing away from the report a couple weeks later. (Trump would famously appropriate the term “fake news” to describe reports from the mainstream media he found unfair.) A few weeks later, the Post ran an even more incendiary story alleging that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electrical grid. This turned out to be false. One media outlet headline read: “Trump, Russian billionaire say they’ve never met, but their jets did.” Presumably, these inanimate objects exchanged pleasantries and discussed sensitive foreign policy matters.

CNN has had particular trouble. Breathless headlines such as “Trump aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign” fail to be supported with evidence. Anonymous officials would say that such communications “are not unusual” and investigators had not “reached a judgment” of any nefarious intent. Other CNN stories had bigger problems, such as the one reporting that Comey would testify he never told Trump he was not under investigation. As mentioned previously, Comey admitted under oath that he’d said this three times, just as Trump claimed. Another story reporting a problematic meeting between a Trump associate and a Russian, again based on a single anonymous source, was quietly retracted, and three employees who worked on it were dismissed.

Journalism in the Trump era has become far too dependent on unreliable and anonymous sources. And considering the steady drumbeat in the media about Trump having a strained relationship with facts, there is plenty of irony in the fact that the media have had to correct or retract an unprecedented number of stories about him and his administration.

There are three primary ways of viewing the Trump-Russia narrative.

View one is that Russians hacked the election and Donald Trump committed treason by knowingly colluding with them. The Obama administration didn’t surveil Trump or his associates, but if it did, it was simply doing its job.

View two is that Russia was probably involved in the hacking and releasing of emails from the DNC and John Podesta. Some Trump associates had ties to Russia, but there is no evidence of Trump or his campaign colluding with Russia.

View three is that the Russia story is a complete fiction concocted by sore losers unable to deal with the reality of their electoral loss.

It shouldn’t be difficult to ascertain which one of these views is most grounded in facts. Despite his friendly rhetoric toward Russia and Putin during the campaign, Trump’s presidency has been marked by a bombing of Russia-backed Syria, bombing of the Russia-aligned Taliban in Afghanistan, stricter enforcement of economic sanctions, support for the expansion of NATO, liquid natural gas exports to Europe that undercut Russia’s economy, the selling of U.S. missile defense to Poland and Romania, and opposition to the Russian-negotiated Iran nuclear deal.

In the meantime, the self-styled anti-Trump “resistance” has created a standard it must meet to justify the broken norms and political trauma to which it has subjected the country. That standard is nothing less than proof that Donald Trump is a traitor put into the White House through collusion with Russia to undermine our electoral system. The better part of a year into his presidency, Trump’s enemies have not come close to meeting that standard.

Mollie Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor. She received her B.A. from the University of Colorado at Denver. She has been a Philips Foundation Journalism Fellow, a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and a Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Journalism at Hillsdale College. She has written for numerous publications, including The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post, and Christianity Today, and is the author of Trump vs. the Media.

How to End the Korea Crisis – Article by Ron Paul

How to End the Korea Crisis – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
October 1, 2017
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The descent of US/North Korea “crisis” to the level of schoolyard taunts should be remembered as one of the most bizarre, dangerous, and disgraceful chapters in US foreign policy history.

President Trump, who holds the lives of millions of Koreans and Americans in his hands, has taken to calling the North Korean dictator “rocket man on a suicide mission.” Why? To goad him into launching some sort of action to provoke an American response? Maybe the US president is not even going to wait for that. We remember from the Tonkin Gulf false flag that the provocation doesn’t even need to be real. We are in extremely dangerous territory and Congress for the most part either remains asleep or is cheering on the sabre-rattling.

Now we have North Korean threats to detonate hydrogen bombs over the Pacific Ocean and US threats to “totally destroy” the country.

We are told that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is a “madman.” That’s just what they said about Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, and everyone else the neocons target for US military action. We don’t need to be fans of North Korea to be skeptical of the war propaganda delivered by the mainstream media to the benefit of the neocons and the military industrial complex.

Where are the cooler heads in Washington to tone down this war footing?

Making matters worse, there is very little understanding of the history of the conflict. The US spends more on its military than the next ten or so countries combined, with thousands of nuclear weapons that can destroy the world many times over. Nearly 70 years ago a US-led attack on Korea led to mass destruction and the death of nearly 30 percent of the North Korean population. That war has not yet ended.

Why hasn’t a peace treaty been signed? Newly-elected South Korean president Moon Jae-in has proposed direct negotiations with North Korea leading to a peace treaty. The US does not favor such a bilateral process. In fact, the US laughed off a perfectly sensible offer made by the Russians and Chinese, with the agreement of the North Koreans, for a “double freeze” – the North Koreans would suspend missile launches if the US and South Korea suspend military exercises aimed at the overthrow of the North Korean government.

So where are there cooler heads? Encouragingly, they are to be found in South Korea, which would surely suffer massively should a war break out. While US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was bragging that the new UN sanctions against North Korea would result in a near-complete blockade of the country (an act of war), the South Korean government did something last week that shocked the world: it announced an eight million dollar humanitarian aid package for pregnant mothers and infant children in North Korea. The US and its allies are furious over the move, but how could anyone claim the mantle of “humanitarianism” while imposing sanctions that aim at starving civilians until they attempt an overthrow of their government?

Here’s how to solve the seven-decade-old crisis: pull all US troops out of the Korean peninsula; end all military exercises on the North Korean border; encourage direct talks between the North and South and offer to host or observe them with an international delegation including the Russians and Chinese, which are after all Korea’s neighbors.

The schoolyard insults back and forth between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un are not funny. They are in fact an insult to all of the rest of us!

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.
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This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.