Climate Czar Kerry: Emissions From Agriculture Must be “Front and Center” thumbnail

Climate Czar Kerry: Emissions From Agriculture Must be “Front and Center”

By Bonner Cohen

Farmers and ranchers who assume that their main job is to produce food to feed hungry people stand corrected. John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special envoy on climate, wants to enlist them in the global struggle to combat the “climate crisis.”

“A lot of people have no clue that agriculture contributes about 33% of all the emissions in the world,” Kerry said during his May 17 keynote address at the Department of Agriculture’s AIM Climate Summit. “We can’t get to net zero, we can’t get this job done unless agriculture is front and center as part of the solution. So all of us here understand the depths of this mission.”

“Food systems themselves contribute a significant amount of emissions just in the way we do the things we’ve been doing,” he continued. “With a growing population on the planet – we’ve just crossed the threshold of 8 billion fellow citizens around the world – emissions from the food system alone are expected to cause another half a degree of warming by mid-century.”

“Needs Innovation More Than Ever”

“This sector needs innovation now more than ever,” Kerry went on. “We’re facing record malnutrition at a time when agriculture, more than any other sector, is suffering more than ever from the impacts of the climate crisis. And I refuse to call it climate change anymore. It’s not change. It’s a crisis.”

“We need economic, social, and policy innovation in order to scale adaptation of these technical solutions and get them into the hands of the folks in the fields of small farmers on a global basis. This is the promise of AIM for Climate Summit.”

Farmers won’t have to wait long for the “innovations” Kerry mentioned to come their way. The Biden administration has already pledged to take an “all of government” approach to address the “climate crisis,” and they mean business. Every agency of the federal government – from the Pentagon and HUD to the energy and agriculture departments – are pouring taxpayer-supplied resources into ever-expanding climate programs. The Department of Agriculture is already exhorting farmers to adopt “climate-smart” policies when it comes to producing food. It is even dangling “climate-smart” grants before agricultural groups to get them to change their ways and grow food the way John Kerry and his ilk want them to do.

Though the Department of Agriculture has yet to elaborate on what it means by “climate-smart,” it most certainly entails the agricultural sector severing ties to fossil fuels, either “voluntarily” or through coercion in the form of regulations. But because of natural gas’s role in making fertilizer, the government-forced transition will be a messy one. Farmers in places as far apart as Sri Lanka and the Netherlands were ordered by their respective governments to shrink their carbon footprint by reducing their nitrogen emissions. Protests in the Netherlands have been widespread, and in Sri Lanka, the government was overthrown, with the president forced to flee the country.


This article was published by CFACT, The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

WaPo Accidentally Admits ‘Zuckbucks’ Were Used To Turn Out Likely-Democrat Voters In 2020 thumbnail

WaPo Accidentally Admits ‘Zuckbucks’ Were Used To Turn Out Likely-Democrat Voters In 2020

By Shawn Fleetwood

Elon Musk shared a Federalist article on Twitter this week that detailed how “Zuckbucks” were used to influence the outcome of the 2020 election, and leftists are livid.

On Tuesday, the Twitter CEO linked to an October 2021 article, written by Federalist contributor William Doyle, that examines how Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave hundreds of millions of dollars to nonprofits such as the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) and the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) leading up to the 2020 presidential contest. CTCL and CEIR then poured these “Zuckbucks” into local election offices in battleground states around the country to change how elections were administered, such as by expanding unsupervised election protocols like mail-in voting and the use of ballot drop boxes.

Notably, Doyle’s article examines how these grants were heavily skewed toward Democrat-majority counties, essentially making it a massive, privately funded Democrat get-out-the-vote operation. Organizations such as the Capital Research Center have also released detailed analyses on the partisan distribution of these funds.

While Musk simply referred to the article as “interesting,” that was apparently too much for Washington Post columnist Philip Bump to handle. In response, Bump penned an article titled, “Musk shares baseless election claim with millions of Twitter users,” in which he attempted to smear the Twitter CEO and discredit The Federalist’s article.

“This is a common way in which Musk elevates right-wing rhetoric. He’ll often engage with fringe voices by declaring their commentary to be “concerning” — suggesting it’s just something worth mulling over,” complained Bump in melodramatic fashion.

But then Bump openly admits the purpose of “Zuckbucks” wasn’t to help election offices “promote safe and reliable voting” during the Covid outbreak, as CTCL and CEIR originally claimed, but to increase voter turnout in Democrat-majority areas.

Much of the analysis in the Federalist article centers on the idea that these investments were larger in more-Democratic counties, using that as a peg for the argument that the investments were partisan and critical to Biden’s success.

But that argument is easily countered. CTCL’s investments were often in heavily Democratic areas — because those areas often have lower turnout rates. If you want to increase turnout, the smartest place to try to do so is places where turnout is lowest. In the United States, that’s often lower-income communities and communities that have high populations of Black and Hispanic residents, two groups that often vote heavily Democratic.

In trying to explain away the disparities in “Zuckbucks” distribution, Bump instead admits a Democrat get-out-the-vote effort is exactly what happened. While Zuckerberg’s donations to CTCL and CEIR were marketed as just a good-faith initiative to ensure Covid didn’t disrupt local election administration, House Republicans later discovered that less than 1 percent of CTCL’s 2020 funds were spent on personal protective equipment.

“The argument has gone from: Private funding from CTCL for election administration offices was only meant to help the elections run smoothly,” to “CTCL poured money into Democratic strongholds to boost turnout and that’s a good thing,” tweeted Jason Snead, the executive director of the Honest Elections Project.

Whether they realize it or not, Bump and the Post are admitting the main purpose of “Zuckbucks” was to boost turnout among voters in Democrat strongholds. It’s a remarkable fact that, for once, the Post got right.

This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

The Philosophy Underlying DEI thumbnail

The Philosophy Underlying DEI

By Allen Porter

Neetu Arnold recently wrote an article about the ways that colleges and universities are preparing for a “post-affirmative action era” by developing “strategies for universities to continue racial discrimination through facially race-neutral approaches in admissions and beyond,” the goal being to “achieve diversity-related goals without triggering legal scrutiny.” This is very important journalistic work.

But I’m not a journalist; I’m an academic philosopher. So I want to tackle a different question: why should we expect colleges and universities to remain committed to identitarian discrimination, of the sort rationalized and implemented nowadays under the aegis of “DEI” (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion)? Granting that this is the case, that higher educational institutions are so committed, it is important to understand how they are going about and will go about implementing this commitment. But why is it the case in the first place?

This is a question I can answer, having extensively studied the philosophy and theory underlying the politics driving these policies. There are two reasons, the first philosophical and the second sociological:

  • DEI is philosophically and ideologically core to the postmodernist identitarian leftism (PIL) which is hegemonic in academia and increasingly in the culture at large, and which drives government, academic, and corporate affirmative action as well as everything else associated with “wokeism” or “woke leftism.”
  • DEI is now a bureaucratic industry, from college campuses to corporate HR departments and from entertainment to government, and bureaucracies naturally grow rather than shrink absent external intervention—especially when the funding is there, and the money has absolutely poured into DEI from all quarters, from billionaires like McKenzie Scott to the Biden administration.

The sociological point is both less interesting and can be made more quickly, so I’ll start with that. According to Forbes, “Business spending on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives has skyrocketed in the last decade. It’s estimated the global market for DEI reached $7.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to double by 2026.” According to a 2021 report, “[o]rganizations across industries are making diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a priority—with 79% planning to allocate more budget and resources in 2022.” In 2020, the National Institutes of Health launched a program that will “give 12 institutions a total of $241 million over nine years for diversity-focused faculty hiring,” while National Science Foundation “funding for so-called ‘anti-racist’ themes more than tripled from 2020 to 2021.”

At many colleges and universities, DEI statements are a mandatory part of job applications, and it has become common practice to “adopt explicit diversity ‘advocate’ or ‘champion’ policies” that place “someone on a search committee whose sole job is to highlight DEI priorities.” Not to mention that virtually every higher educational institution now has a DEI office, nor the proliferation of for-profit DEI consultancies. According to one report, “DEI staff listed by universities totaled 4.2 times the number of staff who assist students with disabilities in receiving reasonable accommodations, as required by law,” with the ratio at UNC being “13.3 times as many people devoted to promoting DEI as providing services to people with disabilities,” while at “Georgia Tech, there were 3.2 times as many DEI staff people as history professors.” Similarly, the DEI office at Yale’s School of Medicine has sixteen staff members, making it larger than their History of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics & Data Science departments, while the University of Michigan has 142 DEI employees costing $18 million annually.

Given the money poured and pouring into DEI and the iron law of bureaucratic expansion, it seems safe to say that DEI is here to stay for some time, even if popular sentiment were to turn against it. However, the more fundamental reason we can predict DEI to survive and grow, at least as long as PIL continues to dominate the political left, is philosophical and ideological—for DEI merely formalizes the core idea of PIL.

PIL is the result of both theoretical and empirical developments in the 1980s, especially, though with roots in the post-WWII era (in particular, in the emergence of French postmodernism and German critical theory and their initial reception in Anglophone academia in the 1960s). On the empirical side, there were the various empirical failures of socialism and communism, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall, which discredited the political vision of “classical Marxism” in the eyes of many on the left. On the theoretical side, there was the rise of what I have termed “anti-metaphysical” postmodernist philosophy and critical theory.

Postmodernism is “anti-metaphysical” in being anti-essentialist, anti-universalist, and anti-foundationalist. Essentialism is the view that things have fixed essences or sets of essential properties that determine what (kind of thing) they are, in contrast with inessential properties that can change without the thing undergoing a change of kind. Universalism is the view that some theoretical entities have universal validity, or validity across contexts. And foundationalism posits that some truths are basic, such that less basic truths depend on the more basic ones for their validity.

In contrast, postmodernists tend to claim that these phenomena (essences, universal truths, and theoretical foundations) either don’t exist or are contextually relative social constructions. For example, a “cultural relativist” postmodernist would claim that Aristotle’s definition of the human being as essentially rational—a claim about an essence that purports to universal validity and serves as the foundation for further claims, e.g., ones about human virtue—is at most only valid within the context of the Western tradition.

This makes PIL incompatible not just with traditional liberalism, which is full of “metaphysical” claims, but with classical Marxism as well. For classical Marxism is essentialist, universalist, and foundationalist about economics: it posits material economic relations (the “base”) as foundational for all other social phenomena (the “superstructure”), as well as a universal history in which the essential motor of progress is the political-economic struggle between the economic ruling class and the economic working-class or proletariat.

Now, PILs “deconstruct” both traditional liberalism and classical Marxism through postmodernist philosophy and theory—such as Nietzsche’s philosophy of the will to power, French poststructuralism, and German critical theory—which dominates Anglophone academic humanities and social sciences. From the liberal tradition PILs strategically retain a commitment to “democracy,” only reinterpreted as “radical democracy” rather than “liberal democracy,” and from classical Marxism they retain the basic philosophy of history, only divested of its economism.

The result is a subversive reinterpretation of the meaning of democracy predicated on a generalization of the Marxist philosophy of history. No longer is the motor of history taken to be the political-economic struggle between the oppressive economic “ruling class” and the oppressed economic “proletariat” in particular; rather, history is the story of political struggle between those with “oppressor” identities and those with “oppressed” identities in general—whether these identities be grounded in race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or something else. The goal of PIL’s political struggles on behalf of all such historically “oppressed” identities is then to “expand the democratic revolution in new directions” to include recognition of maximally many “Others” heretofore excluded from recognition as political actors and rights-bearers. Note that PILs take this “maximally” seriously, as exemplified by so-called “critical posthumanists,” who insist that this expansion of political recognition and inclusion extends not only to nonhuman animals, but even to inanimate matter.

Combatting this illiberal, divisive, and damaging development of Western postmodernity will require liberals and conservatives to come together in opposition to their common enemy.

The formulation “expanding the democratic revolution” is due to the “post-Marxist” theorists Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, who set forth the program for a PIL politics as well as its underlying theory in an influential 1985 book titled Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. Three features of their treatment are particularly worth mentioning in this context: (1) the only grounds for leftist unity are contingently pragmatic/strategic, (2) identitarian pan-politicization as the core imperative of PIL, and (3) a discourse-theoretical understanding of politics.

First, because PIL is anti-metaphysical, the only possible basis for the political unity of the leftist identitarian coalition is contingent and pragmatic: strategic alliance in opposition to a common enemy. This is why “intersectionality” has become so prominent in PIL discourse. The idea is that all oppressions are connected, so that one cannot fight, say, climate change, without also addressing racism, sexism, etc. Since there are no metaphysical or deep ideological reasons for political unity, and since the various coalitional constituencies inevitably have diverging interests, keeping the coalition together requires the dogmatic adoption of a “new ‘common sense,’” as Laclau and Mouffe put it. In other words, PILs can’t rationally justify why the pursuit of racial justice must also address the politics of sex and gender, but the coalition threatens to pull apart if its members don’t believe this, so it simply must be believed, as a matter of “common sense.”

Second, the core practical imperative of PIL is that of identitarian pan-politicization—i.e., the politicization of all possible social identities and relations, including the proliferation of new identities for the purpose of political activation. In other words, all identities must be understood as either “oppressor” or “oppressed,” and all social differences among identities must be interpreted as resulting from identitarian political oppression. Are there more white or Asian doctors than black ones? Must be due to racism. Are there more men working in construction than women? Must be due to sexism. And so on.

Finally, PILs are social constructionists who view all meanings as outcomes of discursive political struggle and hence privilege the discursive as a means of social and political change, in contrast to classical Marxism, which relegated discourse and culture to the social “superstructure.” The claim that “politics is downstream of culture” is typically attributed to the American conservative Andrew Breitbart, but PILs appropriate the same idea from earlier sources on the left, like the socialist Rudi Dutschke (“long march through the institutions”) and the neo-Marxist Antonio Gramsci (“cultural hegemony”). The idea is to achieve popular cultural hegemony for the leftist “new ‘common sense’”—through the colonization of education, entertainment, etc.—such that the desired political changes will follow automatically in a democratic state. That’s why so much of PIL politics today plays out in the arena of the “purely performative,” e.g., discursive virtue-signaling such as listing “preferred pronouns” or making “land acknowledgements.” There’s a lot to say about this, but one point is that the “real battles”—e.g., for legal reform and civil rights—have been won for many of the identities constitutive of the leftist coalition, so that discursive performance is all that really remains.

Virtually all of PIL academic and popular discourse is intelligible in this light. “Representation,” from Hollywood casting to corporate hiring, means nothing other than PIL DEI—i.e., diversifying something (film crews, corporate boards, etc.), via the inclusion of “Others” alleged to have been historically excluded from it, for the sake of “equity” or “social justice.” That’s why the “LGBT” acronym is ever expanding, with “LGBTQIA2S+” being the current standard. Even the infamous “drag queen story hour” is intelligible in this light: as an attempt to diversify our relevant traditional understandings and frameworks (e.g., norms for what an educator is or should be, for what children should be exposed to in public, for what role models children should have) by including heretofore excluded persons/identities/groups for the sake of equity or social justice.

In conclusion, we can expect DEI to disappear only when PIL does, or at least not until the latter becomes a “fringe” ideology. It is encouraging to see efforts by conservative activists and states to rein in or even abolish DEI bureaucracies at public universities, as with the recent Texas legislation or the University of Missouri’s pledge to drop diversity statements from its faculty hiring process, but the problem is so much bigger. Hence, combatting this illiberal, divisive, and damaging development of Western postmodernity will require liberals and conservatives to come together in opposition to their common enemy, and this opposition can only be effective if both the underlying theory of PIL DEI and its practical implementations are adequately grasped.


This article was published by Law & Liberty and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Weekend Read: A Colonial History of African-Americans thumbnail

Weekend Read: A Colonial History of African-Americans

By Jack Trotter

Since the 1989 publication of his widely admired but controversial Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, David Hackett Fischer has been a figure to reckon with. Subsequent publications such as Paul Revere’s Ride (1994) and Washington’s Crossing (2004) have further established his reputation as an American historian of the first rank, one whose works are meticulously documented, rigorous, and accessible. Moreover, he has consistently demonstrated an independence of mind increasingly rare in an era of historical writing steeped in anti-racist pieties.

By contrast to The 1619 Project and similar works that offer up a vision of America as irredeemably tainted by systemic racism, African Founders, while acknowledging the “persistent evils” of slavery and racism, attempts to assert an alternative vision—one in which the traditions of liberty, equality, and the rule of law transcended those evils and were embraced, with impressive results, by masters and slaves alike. Fischer tells his story well, though in a sprawling fashion that too often strays from the central focus expressed in its subtitle. Moreover, at times he seems to imply that cultural diversity belongs on the list of American ideals, as if it were in itself an inherent good rather than simply a reality that, for better or worse, we must accept.

In his introduction, Fischer declares his intention of writing an “open inquiry,” following the example of Herodotus. His central question is a daunting one: What happened “when Africans and Europeans came to North America, and the growth of race slavery collided with expansive ideas of freedom and liberty and rule of law in the European and mostly English-speaking colonies …”?

His method is similar to that employed in Albion’s Seed. He proceeds by identifying nine distinct American regions, each founded by separate groups of northern Europeans whose purposes and cultural traits were sometimes radically different from one another. Each of these in turn engaged in the African slave trade, bringing to their regions populations of slaves whose own distinctive origins have too often been overlooked and whose capacity for adapting to the cultural norms of their masters, while still maintaining their own group identities, was in itself both remarkable and fateful for the development of the colonies, which eventually merged into the Union forged at the Constitutional Convention.

Fischer’s method has been notably enhanced by the development in recent years of digital historical databases, especially those focused on tracing the African origins of enslaved peoples. Among these resources is the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, which, by 2008, after years of development by international scholars, had compiled data “on nearly 35,000 transatlantic slave voyages from 1501 to 1867,” resulting in a dramatically greater understanding of the precise geographical origins of the approximately 400,000 slaves who were brought to North America over the course of 366 years.

Such raw data, of course, is only useful if one understands something about the languages, customs, power structures, and religious beliefs of the regions in question. Fischer supplies this understanding admirably. In fact, during the years when this book was gestating, he traveled several times to those parts of Africa—Senegal, Mali, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire (“the Ivory Coast”), et al.—whence many of the slaves destined for North America originated.

According to the 1790 census, some 16,000 Africans lived in New England, most of them slaves, some free blacks. Their origins were varied, but Fischer estimates that well over half of them (or their parents and grandparents) were purchased on the Gold Coast, and most of these were Akan-speaking Asante and Fante peoples, known for their intelligence and martial spirit. Fischer notes that New England slaves “rapidly developed a distinctive pattern of association that set them apart from slaves in other cultural regions.” Puritan masters frequently allowed “temporal liberties” to their slaves, who responded by extending and cultivating their ethnic ties to Africa.

In one instance, near Lynn, Massachusetts, a well-known freed slave known as “King Pompey” organized an annual reunion of sorts for slaves in neighboring towns who came together by the hundreds, with the approval of their masters, to “celebrate their African origins.” In another instance, slaves used their days of liberty to organize “Militia Training Days,” where they were allowed to muster and march on designated “training fields.” More significant were “Negro Election Days,” annual events in which slaves, in emulation of their Puritan masters, elected “Negro governors” in Connecticut and Rhode Island or “Negro kings” in royal colonies, like New Hampshire.

Such festivities were widely practiced for over a century and generally included both English and African customs. Moreover, the power given to these Negro leaders was more than ceremonial; they were given authority to settle disputes among slaves, to try criminal cases, and more. Fischer argues that something extraordinary was enacted in these customs: “New England masters were sharing a measure of legitimate power and authority with African slaves.”

Naturally, in a culture saturated in anti-racist bigotry, we hear little of such practices today. That would, of course, cast doubt on the official narrative. One could argue that the liberties allowed slaves in New England and the encouragement of such democratic rituals were merely a cunning mechanism of control, but Fischer suggests that these examples of shared power, however limited in scope, played a role in the growth of anti-slavery sentiment in New England, and especially in the movement for suffrage reform.

In New Netherland, the Dutch traders and entrepreneurs who settled the colony favored slaves from the Congo and Angola, regions already skilled in the manufacture of quality textiles, with well-established trade networks in central and western Africa. Like their Dutch masters, they were adept at commerce and, as Fischer notes, “played the capitalist game of getting and keeping with remarkable success.”

How were they able to do this? Slavery in New Netherland was a corporate enterprise initiated and managed by the Dutch West India Company. Slaves who demonstrated commercial skills and ambitions were frequently allowed to acquire property and to accumulate profit. To the extent that they did so, they became “half free” while expanding “their own rights and privileges.” Prior to the British takeover of the colony, many half-free slaves doggedly pursued their full freedom, often petitioning Dutch authorities with success, resulting in a large population of free blacks residing in and around New Amsterdam.

For those who remained enslaved, conditions under British authority became more repressive, eventually resulting in the revolts of 1712 in the Hudson Valley and 1741 in Manhattan. While these uprisings led to harsh reprisals by authorities, the unrest also brought many among the master class to a greater awareness of the brutality of slavery, which then fed the growing antislavery movement in that colony, especially among the Anglican clergy.

In the Chesapeake region, and particularly in Virginia’s lower tidewater district, where that colony’s Cavalier elite (royalists in support of King Charles I) was concentrated, some 60 percent of the slaves in the early 18th century were from the Bight of Biafra and were mostly Ibo-speaking Igbo peoples, known for a spirit of “independence and individuality.” They were well-suited for adaptation to the political environment of the colonies since, in Africa, they had known no kings. As one oft-repeated Igbo proverb ran, “Ike di na awaja na awaja” (Power flows in many channels).

These concentrations of Biafran slaves were also amplified by the practice of “entail,” wherein slaves became the inalienable property of the estate. Indeed, to a greater degree than most of the other colonies, Virginia discouraged the separation of slave families for numerous reasons. Additionally, the development of distinct slave communities was encouraged by the use of “quartering” on large plantations, wherein extended families of slaves were segregated into semi-autonomous communities in which matriarchal lineages were perpetuated over many generations, just as they had been in Africa.

Such continuity also made it possible for relations between masters and slaves to become more intimate and familial. Slave weddings, for example, which combined both African and English customs, were occasions that brought both masters and slaves together, at least temporarily, within a shared conviviality, and encouraged a degree of mutual affection and respect that many today might find difficult to comprehend. Such relations were preserved most memorably, perhaps, in the now proscribed tales of Thomas Nelson Page, however idealized those depictions might be.

None of this is to deny the underlying brutality of slavery in the Chesapeake or elsewhere, but as early as 1782, many prominent Virginia families were supportive of manumission laws, which reflected the hope that slavery would eventually be abolished in the Chesapeake region. While schemes for abolition were unsuccessful, Fischer notes that the manumission movement “gave rise to individual acts of emancipation, sometimes on a large scale.” One notable example was that of Richard Randolph (a cousin of Thomas Jefferson), who inherited 100 slaves and, when his health declined in the 1790s, emancipated all of them in his will—a directive that was faithfully carried out by his widow.

Perhaps most interesting in Fischer’s treatment of the Chesapeake region is his claim that it produced more African leaders than other regions, due at least in part to the example of leadership among its slaveholding elite, who embodied what has been called “a hierarchical system of hegemonic liberty and freedom.” However oxymoronic the concept may seem, there is no doubt that many of the most influential of the Founders were bred within such a system. And black leaders, like Harriet Tubman (who was enslaved in Maryland), Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington, embraced those ideals of liberty and freedom with undoubted conviction and passion. It is certainly questionable, however, whether the many prominent African leaders discussed by Fischer can justifiably be counted among the “founders” of America (as the book’s title suggests). On the other hand, it is certainly true, and well-supported in Fischer’s argument, that those leaders “expanded” upon the founding ideals.

The foregoing paragraphs have offered merely snapshots that reveal a small part of the riches to be found in this study. Yet, as rich as it is, the book is not without weaknesses. Among these is Fischer’s lamentable tendency to digress, sometimes at great length. For example, while dozens of pages detailing the causes and results of slave revolts do, up to a point, provide some useful context for his central argument, African Founders could certainly have benefited by the services of a more aggressive editor, unafraid of trimming.

Another problem is that key terms sometimes remain ill-defined. The term “diversity,” for instance, is used repeatedly in the book, not only to describe the diverse reality of the racial, ethnic, and religious culture that emerged in North America during the 17th century but also in a way that seems at times to inflate the value of the term, placing it on a par with liberty and equality (though Fischer never makes that comparison explicitly).

Consider the following: Speaking of the identity we know as “African-American” (a coinage that seems to have originated late in the 18th century among blacks themselves, predating all the other hyphenated ethnic identities), Fischer writes that “This new invention of hyphenated ethnicity became a fundamental idea of profound importance in the United States,” first appearing in the most “ethnically diverse cities.”

In such passages, Fischer seems to embrace uncritically the notion that America would be, culturally speaking, a deeply impoverished nation had it not been infused with the profusion of races and nationalities that today are on the verge of displacing the legacy of its northern European founders, those whose passion for liberty gave birth to the Constitution. This is hardly an accident of history, for the Constitution would have been unthinkable outside the long durée of European history, dating back to the Athenians of the 5th century, B.C.

This is not to suggest that the African-American contribution to the rich tapestry of American life is negligible. On the contrary, in many respects, that contribution has been both admirable and profound. But diversity is not in itself an unalloyed good, as we can see in many of our “ethnically diverse” communities today, which can hardly be regarded as examples of those shining cities on a hill imagined by the visionary John Winthrop.

To end, however, on a more positive note, African Founders is an important work that deserves to be widely read and studied, for it is a powerful counterthrust against the pernicious influence of the anti-racist propaganda that now dominates our intellectual discourse. As Fischer states forcefully in his conclusion, “Racism in its infinite variations will always exist in America and elsewhere. But to condemn the United States as a fundamentally racist society is false.” What such condemnations overlook, above all, is the heroic efforts of African-Americans themselves to enlarge “fundamental American rights”—efforts that have been largely successful.


This article was published by Chronicles Magazine and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Bud Light’s Sales Implosion, Explained (by Mises) thumbnail

Bud Light’s Sales Implosion, Explained (by Mises)

By Jon Miltimore

I stopped drinking Bud Light decades ago, so when the Dylan Mulvaney controversy exploded last month, I didn’t need to consider if I’d stop drinking Anheuser-Busch’s most popular product.

What’s clear is that many others have decided to quit the beer over the brand’s decision to wade into transgender politics. According to figures reported in The St. Louis Dispatch, based on data from a Connecticut-based consulting group that focuses on the alcoholic beverage industry, Bud Light’s in-store sales fell 11 percent in the week that ended April 8 from the same period the previous year. Year-over-year sales fell even faster over the next two weeks, dropping 26 percent in mid April. The decline continued into May despite ad blitzes and marketing gimmicks that included $20 rebates—on a $19.98 case of beer. Oof.

Endless ink has been spilled over the controversy, which was fueled by celebrities like Travis Tritt and Kid Rock, who shot up several cases of Bud Light after the Mulvaney ads began to go viral.

Many public figures seemed genuinely stunned by what they saw as a massive overreaction to a single March Madness ad featuring Mulvaney, who drank from a Bud Light while talking cluelessly about the NCAA tournament.

“I thought there must be a piece of the story that I’m missing,” shock jock Howard Stern said on his show.

Writing at Vox, Emily Stewart poo-pooed the Bud Light controversy and predicted it would blow over, pointing out that similar campaigns directed at other major brands quickly fizzled out.

“In terms of hurting sales, boycotts tend not to be super effective as most people don’t respond, let alone stick to them,” wrote Stewart. “Remember the Great Keurig Boycott of 2017? Or Frito-Lay in 2021? Or, more recently, when people were mad because M&Ms were girls?”

Stewart might be correct that Bud Light’s problems will blow over, though I have doubts. Still, critics scratching their heads over the controversy have a point that there’s something fickle and disproportionate about it. After all, Jack Daniels, a brand with a consumer base similar to Bud Light, recently ran its own LGBTQ+ ad campaign featuring American drag queen Ru Paul, and it generated a fraction of the scrutiny. Miller Lite, meanwhile, ran its own “woke” ad that was ignored for months.

In a way, I feel sorry for Bud Light. The company is being singled out for doing the same thing other publicly traded companies are doing: catering to the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) puppeteers who are scoring them on “social responsibility.”

ESG scoring is notoriously opaque, but the costs of not playing the game are quite real. ESG funds managed some $40 trillion in assets as of 2022, according to Bloomberg, and a poor score can get a publicly traded company booted from a fund just that fast, as Tesla found out that same year when it was kicked off the S&P 500 ESG index despite its sparkling sustainability score.

“While Tesla may be playing its part in eliminating fuel-powered cars, it has fallen behind its peers when examined through a broader ESG lens,” said Margaret Dorn, the executive in charge of ESG scoring for North America. Dorn didn’t feel it necessary to elaborate further.

Unsurprisingly, companies are not thrilled about having to do this ESG dance. While they pay lip service to ESG publicly, a 2022 CNBC survey showed most CFOs supported efforts to prohibit pension funds from using ESG scoring to determine how they invest.

One can see why corporate executives chafe under the ESG framework. Instead of focusing on creating value and serving consumers, companies are forced to dance to the ESG piper’s tune and perform whatever social initiatives a tiny cabal of people regard as important.

This was always the danger in “stakeholder capitalism,” the decades-old attempt to nudge corporations into serving interests other than their own shareholders and consumers. It subordinates consumers, the very people who should be in charge.

“The real bosses, in the capitalist system of market economy, are the consumers,” the economist Ludwig von Mises famously wrote in his book Bureaucracy. “They, by their buying and by their abstention from buying, decide who should own the capital and run the plants. They determine what should be produced and in what quantity and quality.”

This is the true lesson of “Bud-lash.” Bud Light forgot who its bosses really were. It wasn’t just that Bud Light was serving the ESG puppeteers—who award companies points for diversity and inclusion initiatives as well as environmental ones—and ignoring its own consumer base. The company was openly insulting its consumer base, describing Bud Light as a “fratty” beer and “out of touch” brand “in decline.” It’s one thing to disregard your boss. It’s another thing to openly insult her.

Many see Bud-lash as “anti-trans,” but the response is more about reminding corporations who their boss really is: consumers. These are the true masters in a free market economy; they decide who wins and loses, who becomes rich, and who becomes poor. And yes, consumers are fickle.

“They are no easy bosses,” Mises reminds us. “They are full of whims and fancies, changeable and unpredictable. They do not care a whit for past merit. As soon as something is offered to them that they like better or that is cheaper, they desert their old purveyors. With them, nothing counts more than their own satisfaction.”

Bud Light was serving a boss other than its consumers, and it really shouldn’t have to. “ESG is a scam. It has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors,” Elon Musk wrote on Twitter after Tesla was given the boot from the S&P 500 ESG index. 

Musk is not wrong. ESG is a scam and a dangerous one. It is embraced by anti-capitalists precisely because it undermines the consumer sovereignty Mises described, and empowers the financial class, bureaucrats, and central bankers by enabling them to manage society as they desire while further enriching themselves.

A famous ancient text says, “No one can serve two masters.” Corporations like Bud Light need to remember who their true bosses are, and it’s past time consumers reminded them.


This article was published by AIER, The American Institute for Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Waking Up To Wokeness thumbnail

Waking Up To Wokeness

By Ken Veit

What is this trend called “Woke“ that is sweeping the country like some out-of-control kudzu?

The concept apparently originated with the idea that American culture has been asleep over the fact that racism (and other “isms”) have always dominated American life. To be “woke“ is to have awakened to this fact, and to have become militant about doing something about it. We have all sinned but are now woke to our transgressions and are humiliated by them…

A woke individual is the latest avatar of what used to be called a liberal Democrat, and more recently a “Progressive “. Woke is left of the far Left in politics. With Joe Biden dedicated to being a “transformative” president rather than a transitional president, as had been expected, the Woke movement gains in strength every day, even though Sleepy Joe may not be fully committed to its more radical ideals.

 To be a follower of Woke means adopting a self-righteous attitude that you are morally superior to those who don’t agree with you on all points, and whom you dismiss as “racists “, even when race is not actually involved.

Woke is all about correcting imbalances arising out of previously perceived injustices. Woke folk love to use the word “victims“ to characterize individuals and groups they see as needing legislative correction of all grievances, regardless of merit. “Social justice” is their mantra, by which they mean a new world order according to their ideas of right and wrong.

Pushed to the extreme, Woke dogma rejects the past as racist and sees the heroes of the past as flawed icons who must be toppled from their pedestals of respectability unless they are truly “blameless“ according to current-day standards of correct Woke behavior. The working assumption of Woke theorists is that any progress in the past must have been the result of racism. Innovation, hard work, and risk-taking were incidental. Good works count for nothing if one has any blemish on his Woke dossier.

Hence, Lincoln, who freed the slaves, is condemned because he did not free them all immediately and everywhere. George Washington, one of the wealthiest colonial aristocrats and the most significant moral force of the American Revolution, is condemned for being a slave owner on his plantations, even though he manumitted his slaves upon his death. Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, is in for special opprobrium because he cohabited with a slave woman in a quasi-connubial relationship. Apparently, she bore a striking resemblance to his dead wife and bore him several children, the descendants of whom survived to this day.

Woke claims to be all for free speech, and the elimination of hypocrisy, but its adherents ruthlessly suppress anyone who attempts a public presentation of alternate viewpoints. This reminds me of Muslim book burners who argued that since all Truth could be found in the Koran, everything else was superfluous and could be considered the work of the Devil.

Capitalism is seen as the work of the Devil. Even though Wokies argue that they are supporters of Capitalism because it creates good jobs, their policies, and programs go in the opposite direction. A good example involves the U.S. desire to stimulate the semiconductor industry. Congress passed subsidies to encourage the building of manufacturing facilities creating lots of jobs. But then Wokies added regulations that essentially negated the whole purpose by including expensive Woke benefits and mandatory unionization for companies applying for the subsidies.

Woke claims to be the champion of equal opportunity, but in practice, they are only interested in equality of outcomes.

Anyone who has above-average success is suspected of exploiting his employees. This is one of Karl Marx’s fundamental tenets.

In its desire to make us all equal, a basic strategy of all zealots is to gain control of the educational system. The Jesuits learned this 500 years ago, and they became the powers behind the thrones of many rulers before they were suppressed in the late 18th. Woke-ists today teach children that Capitalism is evil because it creates winners and losers. An important concept of Woke is that no one should ever be made to feel bad. Losing makes one feel bad, so competition should be discouraged. (What is Capitalism about if not competition?) Everyone should be told they are a winner and no one forced to suffer the ignominy of losing.

When students get out into the real world, of course, they find they are at a serious disadvantage. Predictably, they harangue their employers to pay more attention to Woke principles. Sadly, some employers have caved in, much like universities surrendered to Hippies during the Vietnam War era.

State and local governments are especially vulnerable to this, leading to absurdities like San Francisco guaranteeing all Blacks a house, a job, no taxes, and $5 million. It was nonsense, but the Woke response was, “Well, something had to be done about inequality.” In other words, if previous redistributive programs have not worked, double down. The rich will just have to pay their fair share. In a Woke world, the question of who pays is almost irrelevant. The focus is only on the objective of getting the benefits passed into law.

Frankly, Woke would be ignored if it were not so serious and becoming more strident and widespread as America’s received wisdom of the 21st Century. (Outside the U.S., it is for the most part seen, because woke is mostly just another example of American nuttiness, like Beanie Babies, hula hoops, and pet rocks.)  Have you heard Wokies tell any jokes about anything? Their mission is too serious for laughing. Unusual for any group of extremists, they can’t even laugh at themselves. They should, because Woke is a bad joke on us all.

What I am not suggesting is a return to Jim Crow, lynching, and “Whites Only” restrooms. All that was wrong, as were many abominations of the past, all over the world. Prejudice against those who are different in any way continues and will never go away completely. Fear of “the other” is a very human emotion. Nevertheless, advancements since the Civil Rights era began in the ’60s have been spectacular, except for the poorest blacks.

Woke insists this is because of “systemic racism”. I may be wrong, but I don’t agree.

I attribute the lack of progress largely due to the acceptance of a culture of victimhood that makes it easier to accept welfare checks and deal drugs instead of doing the hard things that most people have to do to succeed in life. 

I also blame those on the political Left for constantly doubling down on programs that have not worked but that provide political benefits. And they attack programs that do work. I am thinking here of charter schools that are wildly successful in elevating poor back children and are strongly supported by their parents. Of course, they are not subservient to the teachers’ unions or dependent on politicians for funding, as are public schools.

“Equal opportunity” should and does mean equal opportunity, not preferential treatment at every turn. There is no denying the tremendous progress made by people of color, ethnic groups, and by women during my working lifetime. Blacks have succeeded overwhelmingly in sports and in the entertainment industry. There is no reason they should not do well in business and science also. They are not stupid. But those areas require greater concentration on education, which takes longer to bear fruit. actually, many senior positions have been filled in increasing numbers by minorities in the last decade. And, extremely talented black women like Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama could probably obtain just about any corporate or political job they wanted.

Yes, overt discrimination against blacks continued long after slavery ended. But quasi-slavery was the lot of huge numbers of Asians who were imported to America until exclusionary immigration policies were enacted in the mid-20th Century. Today, that has all changed. It is ironic that universities are concerned by the over-concentration of Asians in their student bodies.

 My own experience with black Americans has been interesting. The first person of color I ever saw was an American soldier in the 1940s during WWII.

“Look, Mommy. That man is all brown!”

“Yes’, she replied. “He is what we call a colored man.”

“Really! What other colors do they come in?”

 I still remember the first time I saw a young black man kiss a white girl in public in NYC in 1961. It was a head-turner because it was so unusual then. But so was a woman riding a motorcycle down Park Avenue by herself that same year.

In the 1980’s I hired a black man as my Executive Assistant at Aetna, a move that colleagues thought risky because he was known to be a civil rights activist. He did just fine. Not long after, Aetna appointed its first black VP. He did fine also.

Two decades later Aetna elected Ron Williams as its CEO, the first C-Suite black in its history. He too did fine as a Company leader.

Progress continues and will continue. WOKE is more of a political movement about who gets to exercise power in the 21st Century. Its mantra is “social justice”, while ironically ignoring real justice.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Great Reset: WEF Demands Fewer Private Cars, Increase in Public Transport thumbnail

Great Reset: WEF Demands Fewer Private Cars, Increase in Public Transport

By Catherine Salgado

The insidious World Economic Forum (WEF) of the “Great Reset” is now pushing cities, countries, and companies around the world to adopt a new “scorecard” to encourage the expansion of supposedly “green” energy and public transportation, and fewer private cars. You will own nothing, you will ride public transport, and you have no say in the matter. You’re welcome.

WEF’s May 2023 briefing paper, “The Urban Mobility Scorecard Tool: Benchmarking the Transition to Sustainable Urban Mobility,” produced in collaboration with Visa, specifically states the goal to “reduce the number of vehicles on the road.” Why? People dependent on public transport are also dependent on those who control public transport. It’s all about reducing independence and freedom and increasing top-down control.

Recall that WEF is also working with at least two governments to roll out a digital ID required to do or buy anything. In China, the way a similar digital ID works is, if you say or do something the government doesn’t like, you are not able to travel anywhere or do anything. That’s exactly what WEF has planned for your future.

Indeed, public transport and a total absence of private cars for ordinary citizens are essential parts of WEF’s plan for how it wants the world to be in 2030. “It made no sense for us to own cars anymore, because we could call a driverless vehicle or a flying car for longer journeys within minutes. We started transporting ourselves in a much more organized and coordinated way when public transport became easier, quicker and more convenient than the car,” WEF wrote. Ah, paradise, where a single tweet critiquing the government leaves you transportation-less! In that same piece, WEF let the cat out of the bag about the stark reality of this supposed future utopia:

“Once in a while I get annoyed about the fact that I have no real privacy. Nowhere I can go and not be registered. I know that, somewhere, everything I do, think and dream of is recorded. I just hope that nobody will use it against me.”

Meanwhile, in its recent briefing paper, WEF says, “By 2050, almost 70% of people will live in urban areas.” The globalist push to make the vast majority of people live in cities, particularly “15 minute cities,” is all part of the vision I just quoted from above where everything is owned by the government. Control is easier in a city. In fact, WEF specifically demanded “more compact cities” in the briefing paper. Yes! 15-minute cities with an insane amount of surveillance and complete dictatorial control! All to save the planet, of course.

WEF went on, “electrifying private vehicles is not enough to achieve the emissions reduction targets agreed in the Paris Agreement on climate.” Of course, climate change alarmists have been wildly and consistently wrong in their predictions for 50 years now, but we should definitely trust them this time, right? I have noted many times how supposedly “green” energy is actually worse for the environment, and how it is impossible to produce enough electricity for modern societies using green energy, which involves destructive and toxic sources like windmills, solar panels, and toxic batteries. Yet WEF pontificated:

“Electrification needs to be accelerated in sync with a powerful push towards more efficient, accessible and connected public transport, improved infrastructure and priority for cycling and walking…It is only with a combination of these solutions that we can cut emissions to address the urgent climate emergency, reduce the number of vehicles on the road to make our streets safer and more accessible, all while transporting a growing urban population.”

That section was written by Visa’s “Chief Sustainability Officer” and WEF’s “Head of Urban Transformation.”

To ensure this utopian future happens, WEF is pushing a “user-friendly scorecard tool, trialled with cities and backed by the private sector, to help cities track progress towards shared, electric and connected mobility.”

Don’t be fooled—the climate alarmist movement is merely the tool for achieving a one world dictatorship, with your housing, transportation, everything dependent on the whims of the elites. That’s all WEF’s “scorecard” is about.

This article was published by Pro Deo et Libertate and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Welcome to the Objective Room thumbnail

Welcome to the Objective Room

By Micah Meadowcroft

The Dodgers’ capitulation to the LGBT lobby demonstrates yet again that Christians have lost the culture war.

As goes baseball, so goes the country. America’s pastime may be much diminished from its golden age, but in a culturally fractured moment nostalgia makes it all the more important as a symbol. So it is worth noting, suggesting something of catacombs, when the Los Angeles Dodgers would rather offend Christians and sitting U.S. senators than risk the wrath of the homosexual lobby.

The team announced last Wednesday that it would no longer honor the drag fraternity “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” with a Community Hero Award at its LGBT etc. celebration on June 16. Senator Marco Rubio had written to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred questioning whether honoring a group dedicated to obscenity and the mockery of religious devotion would be “inclusive and welcoming to Christians.” But on Monday, the Dodgers backtracked, with a groveling apology to the gay clowns, re-inviting them to the team’s tenth annual Pride Night.

A decade, then, at least for one professional baseball organization, is how long it takes for pro-gay to become anti-Christian. This is baseball, recall; the team needn’t really have ever taken a public position on the sexual revolution, let alone prostrate, but here it is, and it says much more about American culture as a whole than about the Dodgers in particular. There was a culture war, once, and you lost.

The right response to all this—the spectacle of degenerates mocking women, nuns, and God in one costume; the dust-eating pardon-begging by the Dodgers, “we will continue to work with our LGBTQ+ partners to better educate ourselves”—is simple disgust.

Some things are disgusting, and we should cherish and protect our capacity for disgust. The global homogenization that characterizes our time seeks to erase all distinction—between men and women, better and worse, adults and children—and to have its revenge for the distinctions that persist despite those efforts. To bring forth a beige world of polymorphous perversity, slaves to modernity like these perpetually indulgent work to erase your instinct for reality, the individual spark of human spirit that aspires to the high and is revolted by the low. They want to desensitize you to disgust.

In his modern fairy-tale for grownups, That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis describes “the Objective Room.” It is a place for bludgeoning the soul. In a pivotal scene, the not-very-heroic protagonist, Mark, is brought to the Objective Room and asked to trample “a large crucifix, almost life size, a work of art in the Spanish tradition, ghastly and realistic.” He is not a Christian, yet he finds the demand too much. The room has been the arena for a contest in Mark’s mind between “the Crooked,” everything subtly wrong, twisted, and distorted, and “the Straight or Normal or Wholesome.” But this icon is something new:

“this image, though not itself an image of the Straight or Normal, was yet in opposition to crooked Belbury. It was a picture of what happened when the Straight met the Crooked, a picture of what the Crooked did to the Straight — what it would do to him if he remained straight. It was, in a more emphatic sense than he had yet understood, a cross.”

It is the final test.

The men who seek to condition Mark by exposure to the Crooked—to make him believe that “objectively” there is no difference between it and the Straight—must in the end resort to blasphemy. It is not enough to celebrate the diseased and belittle the normal; eventually a stronger statement is needed. And this is the significance of the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence”: Eventually not even drag is enough. (Indeed, the group has hosted “hunky Jesus” contests.) And now the Dodgers, desensitized by a decade of celebration, reject the concerns of Christians and again extend their invitation to degraded mockeries of holiness. The ratchet of progress turns only one way.

You live in the Objective Room, reader. Toleration comes from a position of strength, and, good Christian, you are not doing the tolerating—nor even being tolerated. As the evangelical writer Aaron Renn has argued, since about 2014, which marks the cultural victory of the Alphabet People over a normal that had forgotten why normal mattered—remember, Obergefell was 2015—you have lived in a Negative World. While once Christianity was celebrated, and then at least accepted as part of an American public square, in a Negative World, “being known as a Christian is a social negative, particularly in the elite domains of ­society. Christian morality is expressly repudiated and seen as a threat to the public good and the new public moral order.”

For those in comfortable suburban enclaves, Renn’s thesis may sound histrionic. But think for a moment about what has happened here. A large-market baseball team—an avatar of American culture and big business—was pressured by religious groups and a sitting U.S. senator to maintain a recently expected standard of public decorum. They did not protest a Pride Night and the Dodgers’ celebration of sexual expressivism, only an obviously anti-Catholic and even anti-Christian demonstration. This was a request for toleration from a position of weakness. And now there is no hesitation to trample.


This article was published by The American Conservative and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Arizona Secretary of State Says Resolution Banning the Use of Voting Machines Will Not Be Enforced thumbnail

Arizona Secretary of State Says Resolution Banning the Use of Voting Machines Will Not Be Enforced

By Shane Trejo

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is saying that the state will not enforce a resolution that has been passed in the state legislature banning electronic voting machines.

Arizona Sen. Anthony Kern introduced the resolution to ensure that “no voting system or component or subcomponent of a voting system or component… may be used or purchased as the primary method for casting, recording and tabulating ballots used in any election held in this state for federal office” unless certain transparency measures were introduced.

The measure was approved by the Arizona House and Senate, much to the approval of patriotic Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers, who touted the resolution on many different conservative radio shows and podcasts on Monday.

However, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes issued a statement claiming that the government would not enforce the resolution and continue business as usual for elections in years to come.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 1037, which expresses a desire to restrict the use of certain electronic voting machines, is non-binding and does not have the force of law. Election equipment must be certified by the federal and state government by specific requirements outlined in federal and state law,” Fontes said in his statement.

“That certification process is being followed in Arizona and all applicable election equipment being used in Arizona is certified. If those requirements or certification process were to be changed, it would require a regular bill to be passed by the legislature and signed by the governor—which is not the case for this non-binding resolution. We defer to the Attorney General’s office on all other legal questions,” he added.

Big League Politics has reported on how a majority of Arizona voters believe that fraud occurred affected the results of the 2022 midterm elections:…..


Continue reading this article at Big League Politics.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Trump and His Allies Attack Tax Reform thumbnail

Trump and His Allies Attack Tax Reform

By Neland Nobel

Recently we felt it necessary (Trump Is Out of Line) to slap down President Trump for his attacks on Ron DeSantis in relation to Medicare and Social Security.  We contended that no serious effort at controlling the deficit can be undertaken with the reform of “entitlement” programs.  The reason:  that is where the overwhelming bulk of the money is spent and these systems are demographically flawed.  If you truly want to deal with deficit spending, entitlement reform must be discussed.

Now we must slap him once again over his attack ads about DeSantis voting for the “Fair Tax”, while a member of Congress.  The Fair Tax is a plan to replace the income tax and the IRS with a fairly simple national sales tax.

For some reason, Trump has decided to run to the Left of Governor DeSantis on key issues.  We see this with entitlement reform, Covid lockdown and vaccinations, Disney and corporate “wokism”, abortion, and now tax reform.

The TV ad that you can view below is misleading to the point of lying, which is beneath the former President.  It mentions the expected 23% sales tax and fails to mention it replaces the income tax.  No Conservative is going to vote for a national consumption tax without eliminating the income tax.  Trump makes it sound as if DeSantis wants both at the same time, a flat-out lie.

The Fair Tax idea has been floating in Conservative political circles since at least the mid-1980s.  It was advocated by Bill Archer, a Congressman from Texas who became head of the House Ways and Means Committee in the mid-1990s.  Archer was an advocate of what at the time was called “starve the beast”, a theory that we could only stop the rise of the leviathan government by eliminating the income tax and thus restricting the flow of money.

Even moderate Republicans such as Senator Richard Lugar, supported the idea.  This is not a wild and crazy idea hatched by Governor DeSantis.

It reportedly even came up recently during the fight amongst Republicans for House Speaker.  Apparently, some would not support Speaker McCarthy unless he pledged to let the Fair Tax out of committee and allowed an up or down floor vote.

So, Trump’s attack on DeSantis not only is unfair to his chief rival (why do you think he singles DeSantis out for abuse and not others) but he does a grave injustice to the idea of the Fair Tax.

There are several iterations of the Fair Tax but rather than get into the technical weeds, let’s look at the broad outlines of its appeal.

First of all, the income tax has always been a product of the Left.  Plank two of the 1848 Communist Manifesto calls for “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax”, and that idea has been a mainstay of socialist thought since.  The idea was to use the mechanism of the state police power to redistribute income to create income equality.  Morally, the Maxists said the more a man rises above the level of subsistence, the less claim he has on his output.  Why is that?  Because Marx said so.

Forcible redistribution of wealth is not something Conservatives or Libertarians should accept.  Why does Trump support a plank out of the Communist Manifesto?

The purpose of the tax system should be to raise revenue for the government efficiently and grow the economy while protecting the individual rights of its citizens.  The tax system should not be used as a tool to impose one particular view of mankind by force and compulsion.

If you don’t think the government is force, just try not paying your income taxes.  Try running a business without withholding taxes on employees.

The US largely ran for many years on excise and consumption taxes, revenues from land sales, and tariffs.  In those years, we had a smaller government and it was not in the business of income redistribution.

It is doubtful the Administrative State could have arisen without the compulsory aspects of the progressive income tax and that is why it came as part of the Progressive package under Woodrow Wilson, which also included the Federal Reserve and the direct election of Senators.

The Fair Tax repeals the 16th Amendment and eliminates the IRS as we know it.

Some Conservatives have supported a Flat Tax, basically a flat income tax.  There is much good in that idea too but since it leaves the IRS and the Income Tax both in the statutes and as an Amendment to the Constitution, there is nothing to say a progressive tax won’t simply grow back.  We have seen a version of that over the years with 5 tax brackets, then 3 brackets, taxes as high as 90%, the Alternative Minimum tax, and so forth.  The income tax is always morphing and is always a tool for politicians and the special interests that fund them.  The same can be said for the corporate income tax.

The only way to kill the Income Tax is to totally replace it, which the national consumption tax would do.  That also eliminates the estate tax and capital gains taxes, the alternative minimum tax, the corporate income tax, taxes on dividends, and interest.  The government would instead be funded by a simple tax collected at the final point of consumption by a consumer.

An important feature of consumption taxes is that they are self-regulating while income taxes are not.  Right now, the level we all pay in taxes is in the hands of politicians, special interests, and government administrators.

Writing in the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton noted: “It is the signal advantage of taxes on articles of consumption that they contain in their own nature a security against excess.  They prescribe their own limit, which cannot be exceeded without defeating the end proposed, that is an extension of the revenue…this forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the citizens by taxes of this call, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing them.”

So, Mr. Trump, are you for the tax system of Karl Marx or Alexander Hamilton?  Are you for self-limited taxation (limited by the consumer or citizen) or limited by politicians and bureaucrats?

Look at how abusive politically speaking the IRS has become.  Whether it be trying to ruin Conservative organizations under Lois Lerner or recently invading the privacy of journalist Matt Taibbi, the IRS has been used from its inception to attack political enemies.  Lyndon Johnson used the IRS against enemies and so did Richard Nixon.  It is not a matter of partisan abuse alone, it is a violation of the rule of law.

And why, as Open the Books has found, does the IRS need millions of rounds of ammunition and over 2,000 agents trained in the use of deadly force?

Would not it be a net plus for liberty to eliminate the system that gave rise to this abusive organization?

And then there is the cost.  Estimates vary, but the burden on the economy to comply with income taxes goes well beyond the bloated budget of the IRS.  Think of what you have paid over the years for accountants and CPAs.  How much time do you spend keeping records and shuffling paper? That is the real cost of the current system.

And how about simplicity and the time spent to understand the code? Really, should we have to consult a priesthood of lawyers and accountants just to pay our taxes?

The IRS code runs more than 70,000 pages, and the most recent Fair Tax legislation, about 130 pages.  Not only must we deal with the IRS code, but there are many more pages of court cases and administrative rulings.

And then there is the cost on business to comply, which is simply passed on to the consumer in the end.  Complying is simply a cost of doing business and will be embedded in all costs and those costs cascade or get added to each other much like railroad cars in a train wreck.  Commodity producer A pays taxes and regulatory costs, to provide a product to processor B who pays taxes and regulatory costs, who move the product to manufacturer C who pays taxes, who then delivers to transport company D which pays taxes, then delivers to retailer E, who pays taxes, to sell to you, who pay for sales taxes on the end product, and income taxes on the money you use for the purchase. Perhaps worse it is hidden and you are not even aware of it.

Everywhere along the chain, there are compliance costs and taxes paid that get surreptitiously added to the cost of products we all buy.  In fact, estimates are it costs about $1 in compliance costs for about every $4 collected in revenue.

But even that does not come close to the actual cost, which is hard to know because much of the cost is never recorded.  It is the cost of actions NOT taken or actions taken that are not productive. For example, if you decide not to sell an investment because you will pay capital gains tax, you may be making a decision that has nothing to do with the best and highest use of your capital, but simply to avoid taxes.  Contrarily, if you purchase municipal bonds to avoid taxation on income, that may not be the highest and best use of the capital either for your family or the economy.  How much do such decisions cost productivity because the tax tail is wagging the entire dog of the economy?

Productivity is what drives our standard of living.  You reduce productivity and you reduce our standard of living and nobody knows by how much or why.  What a system!

The only people who benefit from such economic and capital distortions are politicians and tax lawyers.  The rest of us don’t.

And finally, there is the politics of the thing and civic education.  Do you think for a moment the voters would buy into “the rich are not paying their fair share” if they really had any idea of who pays taxes in this country and what their true level and administrative costs really are?

One really nice feature of the Fair Tax is it eliminates all the web of hidden taxes, withholding taxes, excise taxes,  and other gimmicks used to obscure the true cost of government and makes it simple and upfront.  When all these taxes and compliance costs are cascading through the cycle of production and consumption,  how could you possibly know what you really are paying in taxes?

With the fair tax, it is on the receipt for the purchase of final consumption.

If citizens really knew how much they were paying to the government,  would they feel the same way about the government?  Would they be so casual about the immense waste?

And we would further submit, no one getting benefits from the government should not know the cost and be free from some of the cost.  If people don’t feel the sting of the cost of some of the things they want from the government, they will make endless demands.  Why not if you can get benefits that are paid for by someone else?  No, everyone needs to pay something and every citizen needs to know the true cost of government.   That is indeed the true meaning of  “fair share.”

In short, our current tax system needs to be fundamentally reformed.  We need a tax system that removes Marxist philosophy from the process, is efficient and simple, and allows the ultimate level of taxation to be determined by consumers.  Getting rid of an abusive agency and a tax code that is longer than the Bible is an added benefit.

There is much to like about the Fair Tax.  If you want to learn more, here is a website to get started.

Imagine a world without the IRS, where there are no taxes on investments and savings.  April 15th would be just another day. No year-long effort to keep records. Imagine the capital accumulation and increase in productivity.  Imagine a smaller, less intrusive government.  Imagine a higher standard of living.

The ultimate point of our criticism of Mr. Trump and his PAC is that they have reduced quite a serious problem for the economy and liberty, to a tacky song and misleading attack ad on a political opponent.  

The Fair Tax has its problems and its critics.  But, like its sister the Flat Tax, at least it is a serious attempt to mend a broken, expensive, uneconomic, and abusive system.  It is exactly the type of thing that should be debated among candidates.

In this argument, we think those that wish to reform the progressive income tax and the IRS, have the upper hand.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Corporate America Has Launched A Religious War. It’s Time To Choose Your Side thumbnail

Corporate America Has Launched A Religious War. It’s Time To Choose Your Side

By John Daniel Davidson

Bud Light enlists a trans ladyface minstrel to sell beer. Target hires a trans Satanist to design LGBT clothes for kids and starts selling “binding” and “tucking” swimwear. North Face launches a marketing campaign featuring a creepy drag performer hocking LGBT gear to children ages 2 to 7. The Los Angeles Dodgers gives an award to a demonic hate group whose sole purpose is to blaspheme and profane the Catholic faith.

All this, and June “pride month” hasn’t even begun.

What’s happening? Why did so many major corporate brands decide to go all-in on promoting an aggressive, radical LGBT agenda that just a few years ago would have been considered totally unacceptable in civil society? Is this a psy-op? Is it real? What happens next?

The short answer to these questions is that we’ve entered a new phase of the culture war, and in some ways have transcended “the culture war” completely. What we’re in now is better described as a religious war — one that’s been launched by corporate America against all of us, and therefore demands we all choose sides.

Choosing sides in a religious war means you have to choose your religion. And in this particular religious war, there are only two sides. On one side is what C.S. Lewis called the Tao, which was his ecumenical shorthand for objective moral truth. “The Tao, which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value,” Lewis wrote in The Abolition of Man. “It is the sole source of all value judgments. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained.”

In America and in the West generally, the side of the Tao is the side of faithful Christians and Jews, as well as those atheists who, for practical reasons, cling to Judeo-Christian morality as the survivors of a shipwreck might cling to a lifeboat. It is the side that sees Target’s transing of kids as an intolerable moral evil, affirms the givenness of our nature and the created order, and recognizes not only that man isn’t God, but that man’s destiny is communion with God in a redeemed creation.

On the other side is what the writer Paul Kingsnorth, among others, has called the Machine, which at its root is a Nietzschean rebellion against God that turns out also to be “a rebellion against everything: roots, culture, community, families, biology itself.” Like the Tao, the religion of the Machine, of progress and technology and will to power, has a very long pedigree. It goes back to the Garden of Eden, where the serpent assured Eve, “You will not surely die,” that if she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would become like God.

That was the first rebellion; we have been reenacting it ever since. It is perhaps easier to see in our own time how every rebellion against God, from the Garden to now, is also an attempt to overthrow Him, to become like God. Indeed, the desire to play God is the dark heart of both transgenderism and its close cousin, transhumanism. Like other evils of our age — abortion and euthanasia, to name the obvious ones — these are, at their roots, extremely candid manifestations of pride, the source of all sin.

The Machine is a religion that makes a claim over and against reality and the created order, which are denied and disfigured in man’s attempt to arrogate the power to recreate himself according to his own desires. In our day, he seeks to do so using new technologies, but that he would desire to do so is merely the latest iteration of the rebellion that began in the Garden. This is what J.R.R. Tolkien meant when he said “all stories are ultimately about the fall.” Tolkien also referred to the Machine at times when discussing his legendarium, often describing it as the urge to amass power and dominate, “bulldozing the real world, or coercing other wills” — a tyranny exercised over creation with the object of overcoming mortality.

This is just what we see in the twin trans movements: a desire to overcome sex and a desire to overcome death. The transhumanists are as explicit about their desire to cheat death and attain godlike immortality as transgenders are about their desire to become the opposite sex. The latter appear to believe, like rebellious pagans of past ages, that children have an important role to play in the achievement of this desire. The Machine devoured children by fire on the altars of Moloch and Baal; it devours them now in the black mirrors of the internet and social media.

The temptation here is to dismiss this reading of our situation as hyperbole. Surely it isn’t as bad as all that, we want to say. But it really is. What’s happening now isn’t about corporate brands embracing “pride month,” as The New York Times recently framed it, or even about promoting tolerance in a diverse society. If Target were just selling T-shirts that said “fabulous” in rainbow letters no one would care. This is about transing kids. Everyone knows it, but no one wants to say so out loud. Corporations are the tip of the spear, pushing this stuff out and then letting the media turn around and accuse the right of being violent bigots for objecting.

We err, too, in thinking of all this as just a really bad case of “the culture war” that breaks along the familiar lines of left and right, blue and red. It’s partly that, but at its deepest level it’s a religious war, a spiritual struggle between light and darkness, good and evil, the Tao and the Machine.

All of which is to say that as this war develops, we should try not to get too caught up in how much Target stocks plummet or how low the price of Bud Light gets ($0, as of this writing). “Go woke, go broke” is — pardon the rhyme — a cope. That’s not to say we shouldn’t boycott these companies, even if it means financial hardship or inconvenience. Boycotting them is part of what we have to do in this religious war, but it’s not sufficient.

Corporate America is not going to stop, even if some corporations do go broke. What will be required of those who resist them is a deep religious commitment, a radical new way of living in the modern, digital age. If you’re a Jew, be deeply serious about your Judaism. If you’re a Christian, make the practice of your faith the central organizing fact of your life, not just something you do on Sundays. If you’re an atheist, pray that God gives you faith.

For adherents of the Tao, fighting this religious war is going to mean not just boycotting corporate brands but reorganizing your personal and professional life. It might mean quitting your job, or moving, or giving up certain things. It will require sacrifice. Perhaps great sacrifice.

And rest assured that every person in America is going to have to pick a side. If you don’t pick a side then your side will by default be that of the Machine, which dominates the heights of our post-Christian culture and economy. Whatever your opinion of transgenderism or identity politics, the Machine will suck you in and ensnare you unless you make a conscious choice to stand against it. So choose, and choose wisely. Your country — and, more importantly, your soul — depends on it.


This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Without Economic Freedom, None of the Others Matter thumbnail

Without Economic Freedom, None of the Others Matter

By Paul Schwennesen

[One Fine Spring Day, Over the Phone…]

“Oh, and by the way, your background check says there’s a warrant out for your arrest.”

This is not, mind you, the kind of thing one expects to hear updating teaching credentials in a very staid University bureaucracy. Nevertheless, there it was.

“Oh?,” I retorted, a bit stunned. “Anything indicating why?”

“It says something about a zoning infraction?” the all-too-chipper HR Department lady replied.

“I’m sure it will be fine—it’s no issue for us, but we thought you might like to know.”

Why yes, yes I would.

It turns out that my little experiment in entrepreneurial civics had gone horribly wrong, and I was one short step away from spending time in the clink. I had, you see, committed the jailable offense of putting up a tent.  On my own land.  Without permission from the State. I won’t rehash the details but feel free to get the skinny here.

The long and short of it is this: our county sent us a nastygram some time back informing us that our AirBnB platform tent was strictly verboten without first going through the labyrinthian protocols of special use exemptions, business licensing, and building permits. We dutifully took the listing down and began the unconscionably dumb process of doing it the “right” way — Site Plan Reviews, public meetings, fights with a water district that wanted us to buy a water meter for a tent with no plumbing, the whole deal.

That all was bad enough, but somewhere along the line, a local county zoning official acting on the basis of an “anonymous tip” referred our case to the prosecutor’s office because she had been “told” we were still operating in contravention to guidelines.

I called her up.

“Can you confirm that there is an open arrest warrant in my name, on the basis of a zoning violation?”

“That is correct sir.”

“Are you telling me that I could be stopped at any moment and incarcerated, that I would be arraigned for a tent infraction?”

“Yes, sir, we have policies which you have not conformed to.”

“But didn’t I tell your office personally that we have taken the listing down, and haven’t we been working diligently with your own staff to get this thing resolved? Aren’t you even now reviewing the oodles of forms, maps, and requests we sent you?”

“Yes sir, but we were told you were still operating the tent as a rental, which means you are still in noncompliance.”

“Told by whom?”

“I can’t relay that information, sir.”

Ah. I see.

**Spoiler Alert**

I’m not writing this from a Platte County prison cell. It turns out that petty official X just needed to hear me say that I wasn’t breaking their rules, and she would call the prosecutor’s office and have the warrant rescinded based on “proof of compliance” or some such.

Everything, just as University Human Relations predicted, is “fine.”

Except that it isn’t.

There are two issues at stake here.  The first, of course, is a flagrant yet ultimately trivial matter of basic professionalism and due process — Platte County clearly has some deep house cleaning to do. But it is tangential to the much larger matter, which is that the bureaucratic indiscretions on display here can only occur in an administrative system that weaponizes regulations to consolidate power. This overregulation, in turn, is the inevitable outcome of our collective giveaway of rights to the forces of “planning,” “safety,” and “zoning.”

We have a real crisis on our hands in the form of basic property rights arrogation. In an age of “epic crisis,” it’s difficult to know which looming threats are real and which are hyped fantasy, but this one surely tops the list, if for no other reason than that it is so subtly devious: zoning rules have been quietly adopted nationwide and have led inexorably to administrative despotism and bureaucratic sclerosis. This isn’t just irritating red tape, it is a reflection of basic freedom lost.

Ludwig von Mises properly noted that economic freedom undergirds the rest of them:

Government means always coercion and compulsion and is by necessity the opposite of liberty. Government is a guarantor of liberty and is compatible with liberty only if its range is adequately restricted to the preservation of what is called economic freedom. Where there is no market economy, the best-intentioned provisions of constitutions and laws remain a dead letter.

And indeed, economic freedom has been dragged into the deep end by the dead hand of zoning restrictions. For a citizen to be forbidden from such a simple economic act as offering a tent for rent on his own land means that state administration has metastasized into an all-encompassing prohibition on economic activity more generally. Forbidding entrepreneurial ventures that have not been granted prior approval and design review by unelected officials is, practically speaking, state ownership of the means of production. This has enormous implications not only for the economic outlook of our nation, but for the broader freedoms it prides itself on.

The United States is on a precipitous plunge into the inky waters of a command economy. We have fallen from the top-tier of economic freedom indexes to 25th in just a few short years and the trend is getting worse. To fix this, it is high time to repeal vast swaths of local zoning laws and recover our rich heritage of Life, Liberty, and Property.


This article was published by AIER,  American Institute for Economic Research and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Why Politics is More Important than Culture Right Now thumbnail

Why Politics is More Important than Culture Right Now

By Conlan Salgado

The progressive and now radical left has tightened its control over the political life of America, especially since the highly suspicious elections of 2020 and 2022. The most astute conservative thinkers, however, have long recognized that the left’s conquest of culture came before its political conquest, best represented in Breitbart’s phrase “Politics is downstream of culture.”

Academia, Hollywood, the corporate media, the judiciary, and now the military are firmly in the grip of leftists and their repugnant anti-American ideology. Chronologically, higher education was the first to fall. Since the 1960s, colleges and universities have been turning out batch after batch of indoctrinated young adults, who then scatter into various professions and infect them with the pathology now called ‘wokism’.

In response to this, some conservatives seem to advocate an abandonment approach: don’t send your children to college, don’t let them watch Hollywood movies, don’t shop in stores owned by woke corporations. As a temporary strategy, this is just fine. I support people not attending progressive and far leftist colleges or watching stupid movies, most of which have no aesthetic or cultural merit anyway, or using the services of wacky-woke corporations. But this is not a long-term strategy.

The progressive and radical left have been playing their game of cultural conquest since the 1930s. Their strategy is paying off royally. Regarding academia, this is what Antonio Gramsci called “the long march of the Intellectuals”. The left seemed to understand, way before Andrew Breitbart came along, that if you control culture, you’ll inevitably come to control politics. That said, it must be acknowledged that in some cases our institutions may not be reclaimable. The 2024 election will show us whether political institutions are a lost cause or not.

The point here is this: Conservatives cannot simply extract themselves from cultural institutions in the hope of remaining healthy and unaffected by the godless and un-American woke culture. The reason is simple: if the left controls our cultural institutions, it creates and distributes culture.

In some cases, I believe the strategy must be a wholesale replacement of cultural institutions. For example, citizen journalism replacing corporate media. Simply stop watching and reading any form of corporate media and engaging progressive social media platforms. Seek and consume honest and ethical citizen journalism of which there is much to choose from. This, at the moment at least, seems to be working pretty well.

A majority of Americans are repulsed by the obvious ideological agenda of the mainstream media and are turning to other, less dishonest sources.

Other institutions, like Hollywood or higher education, are more difficult. Conservatives cannot, for purely practical reasons, create an alternative to Hollywood or higher education which will be equally as viable as honest citizen journalism competing with and displacing corporate media. Interestingly, though, crowd funding the series The Chosen and the movie The Jesus Revolution has been spectacularly successful and indicates a broad-based appetite for cultural renewal among many Americans and in other countries. Similarly, the huge movement away from public school (and teacher union) indoctrination of America’s children by every socioeconomic parental cohort speaks volumes of how culture can be reformed and recaptured in the American tradition.

So, what are we to do for long term victory in the battle for the soul of America? Strangely, I think the answer lies in a reversal of Breitbart’s formula: culture is (now) downstream of politics. It’s the classic formula of every totalitarian regime – and yes, that’s where we are headed. Take control of government by strong political victory, especially the federal executive branch and its administrative leviathan.

If you control government as the radical left now does, you control funding for education and many other cultural institutions. That translates to increased funding for woke curricula, clubs, and activism in both American universities and international universities (such as $787 million American dollars for gender studies at Kabul University). If you control government, you can weaponize the Justice Department to go after your political opponents and prosecute certain causes (such as the pro-life movement and parents against the sexualization of their children in public schools under Biden).

The left has unquestionably made culture a form of politics. No longer is culture or its creations a space to reflect on, study, or experience the sources of both our shared humanity and our shared citizenship. Nor will it ever be with a massive, censorship-driven, radical leftist government at the center of society. Culture is now an authoritarian tool for promoting woke politics aiming for tyrannical control over this nation’s citizens.

Winning the 2024 presidential election (and the United States Congress) is the only formula for taking back the culture. If the left wins in 2024, it will continue to make all forms of culture simply a form of politics using an increasingly weaponized administrative state under its control. Of course, I’m not advocating that we take back the White House and Congress to conduct a sort of reverse-conquest of cultural institutions. I don’t believe we need to, since the majority of Americans reject this obscene woke ideology and retain the American values that founded the Republic.

The work of the next conservative government, possibly under the leadership of Trump, will be to cleanse the government of corruption and remove the government from where it ought not to be: people’s homes, schools, churches, and social media platforms. Imagine, for example, what parents might do in reforming their school systems without a weaponized Justice Department labeling them “domestic terrorists” and threatening to pursue legal action against them. Take our government back, reign in the corruption, and let the American people pour into our cultural institutions and reform them without fear of a weaponized ruling class now threatening our God-given rights and Constitutional system.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

And Just Like That, Your Rights are Gone thumbnail

And Just Like That, Your Rights are Gone

By Bobbie Anne Flower Cox

“He who controls the children, controls the future.”

Whose quote is that? It’s mine. It formulated in my mind over the past several months as I’ve been adding more and more parental rights issues into my speeches. Why do I keep adding more and more? Because the attack on parental rights is gaining momentum. Actually, here in New York, it’s hitting us like a freight train!

One of the great things about the work I do is that I get to travel around our State, and increasingly to other states, where I meet amazing people, many of whom share their personal stories with me. Though 99 percent of the stories they share are centered around atrocities that are usually a direct result of the government’s unconstitutional, pandemic-related dictates, I nonetheless enjoy hearing people’s stories. It’s part of my work… it’s research.

Whether it is a room full of 30 people, or a hall brimming with 1,000+ people, the stories people share with me after I give a speech or presentation are priceless. I gain great insight into what is going on in various communities, and I can draw similarities, make inferences, formulate an analysis, and then share the information. Knowledge is power!

Lately, I’ve been noticing a sharp increase in the stories I hear regarding direct attacks (or outright revocation), of parents’ rights. Those attacks are oftentimes coming from government entities, or pseudo-government entities (not officially run by the government, but so tied to their purse strings, they may as well be). So I began to connect the dots. There weren’t too many to connect with until I realized, they are coming after our children! Openly. Unabashedly. Intentionally.

And with a fervor, I’ve not seen before. But do you know who has seen it before? Who points it out to me and helps me see it clearly? My friends who were raised in communist countries, or their parents/grandparents were. THAT is who is tuned in to what is going on in our country right now.

I grew up as a competitive figure skater in the 1980s, a sport dominated for decades by the Soviet Union. Some of my close friends in the skating world were Soviet. Their parents would shock me when they relayed stories about the hours-long bread lines they used to have to wait on, or their family members who just up and “disappeared” in the middle of the night, or their freezing cold apartments that found them sleeping in their winter coats and shoes to try to stay warm. (By the way, their apartments weren’t frigid because they were too poor to buy heating fuel… it was because of the government-controlled everything!)

Within our skating world, everyone knew how the Soviets came to dominate our sport so solidly, and for so many decades, especially in the Pairs and Ice Dance disciplines. Nobody could touch them. By the way, they were absolutely amazing skaters – powerful, stoic, yet graceful. Their command of the ice was unmatched.

To make myself better, I studied them. We all did. If I was at a rink other than my own, whether for a competition or a training session, I could pick out the Soviets on the ice in a heartbeat. Not a word needed to be said between us. Just how their blades touched the ice was enough to know. So, what was their “secret” to world domination of figure skating? They took the children at a very young age and put them in training camps for the sport they thought that child would be good at. The children ate, slept and drank their sport.

Month after month. Year after year. Decade after decade. There was no choice. Neither you nor your parents had the right to tell the government, “No.” You served your country in whatever manner they told you to! No questions asked. No excuses allowed. And for those athletes who succeeded (like World or Olympic gold medalists), your family was “rewarded” with some “extras” – but do not dare ask to see your child skate in person, or watch them compete at the Olympic Games… that was unheard of. The parents got to watch their child compete on a small, old, TV in their living room! Those are the stories they told me.

Here in the US, the “government creep” that happens into your life is gradual. It oozes its way into your liberties, at first slowly, as they inch their way in, bit by bit. Then you awaken one day, and suddenly your rights are gone. This is what I’ve been hearing and seeing happen for years now, but especially the past three+ years of the COVID-19 mania.

So, of course, I did some digging regarding this hypothesis that was taking shape in my mind, of the government wanting to sever the sacred parent/child bond and take control of our children. I literally typed my above quote into a search engine, and an eerily similar quote surfaced. It was eerie because it was attributed to Adolf Hitler in 1935! Here is the quote:

“He alone who owns the youth gains the future.”

And so, here we are. 

Time for a real-life example. You know I always try to work those in. Quite powerful I think. So, as far as a parental rights attack story, I shared one such story in a recent Substack, if you want, that article is HERE. Basically, the stories run the gamut, from parents of grade-schoolers not being allowed to schedule their child’s health appointments, to parents of college students not being allowed to access their report cards, despite paying all the bills!

Although there are many states that are now passing laws to help protect parents’ rights, the exact OPPOSITE is happening here in New York state. I’ve written numerous articles about vile proposed laws, like the one that would require “comprehensive sexuality education” in all schools, starting in KINDERGARTEN and running straight through high school. Or the one that would allow children of any age to make their own medical decisions, even over parental objections (yes, that does include sex changes).

But there’s a new repugnant bill that’s on the move, so to speak. It’s not actually “new,” as it has been proposed for years, but it is “moving” now, meaning it has [had] been placed on the Assembly Health Committee’s agenda for a vote on Tuesday, May 16th. For a bill to become a law, it needs to pass in each of our two houses (Senate and Assembly). To get to the house floor, it has to first pass out of committee. So on May 16th, step one will happen… the Democrat-controlled Health Committee will vote on it.

The bill is A276b (last week it was A276a, but they tweaked it, and now it’s “b”). It would allow drugs and vaccines that are claimed to prevent sexually-transmitted diseases to be given to minor children without parental knowledge or consent! So, this bill eliminates the existing right of parents to know and have a choice over the drugs and vaccines our children get! 

The bill reads in part:


You can read the bill in full HERE, but some important notes are:

  • There are no age restrictions in this bill. So an 8-year-old could go get an STD shot without their parents knowing!
  • The bill would obviously promote underage sex.
  • It could protect pedophiles by subverting New York’s  “Mandated Reporter” law that requires licensed professionals to report suspected sexual abuse of children to law enforcement. Would any lucid adult think it normal for a grade-school student, to (behind their parents’ back) request a shot that supposedly prevents a sexually-transmitted disease?
  • It says the child can get one of the shots, “PROVIDED THAT THE PERSON HAS CAPACITY TO CONSENT TO THE CARE.” So, that means the person administering the shots (who, by the way, most likely has a financial incentive to give the shot), will now have the power to decide whether or not your child has the “capacity” to consent!
  • It endangers the well-being of a child. Children don’t know enough about their medical history to provide informed consent. Will they know if they had earlier adverse reactions to vaccines in the past, whether they have allergies or sensitivities to vaccine ingredients, or if there is a family medical history that would contra-indicate that particular vaccine? And what about the parent or first responder who is trying to help the child if they are having a bad reaction to the shot once they get back home… they won’t even know the child got the vaccine in the first place!
  • The bill violates federal law, which is unconstitutional. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, (a horrific law from 1986 that removed legal liability from vaccine manufacturers and those who administer vaccines), requires that a healthcare professional provide a copy of the current vaccine information sheet to a child’s parent/legal representative before vaccinating a child with a list of shots that include some STD’s like hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Who is [was] pushing for this despicable law? Here’s the list of odious, anti-parents’ rights dolts who are sponsoring/co-sponsoring this bill. The ones with a * next to their name are also co-sponsoring one or both of the above-mentioned anti-parental rights bills that I wrote about in prior Substacks:

*Amy Paulin – D
*Catalina Cruz – D
*Jeffrey Dinowitz -D
*Linda Rosenthal -D
*Phil Steck -D
*Harry B. Bronson -D
*Patricia Fahy – D
*Harvey Epstein – D
*Andrew Hevesi – D
*Jonathan Jacobson – D
Chantel Jackson – D
*Rebecca Seawright – D
*Anna Kelles – D
*Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas – D
*Jo Anne Simon – D

Hey, so does anyone notice anything that every single one of these deplorables have in common?


This article was published by the Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Bobbie Anne Flower Cox has been a practicing attorney for 25 years.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

In Praise of Americans Who Have Given Their All thumbnail

In Praise of Americans Who Have Given Their All

By Dakota Wood

The war in Ukraine, brutally slogging along some 5,000 miles from the U.S., involves another people but it serves as a reminder to Americans of what it takes to keep one’s country safe, free, and prosperous. It also reminds us that there are dangers in this world that can only be stopped by people willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us.

People are the heart of a nation’s strength, especially those comparatively few who step forward to serve their community and their country in military service. Wars are rather rare, but the nation’s future can hang in the balance when war comes and the loss of life that results in defeating an enemy can number in the thousands, sometimes the tens of thousands.

Our history is punctuated with such crises and sacrifices. Citizen-patriots rose to the challenge of securing America’s birth nearly 250 years ago, with some 8,000 new Americans giving their all to defend our fledgling republic.

The Civil War, two world wars, operations against terrorists who have attacked America at home and Americans abroad, and wars to protect U.S. interests not just in our hemisphere but also in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, have resulted in the loss of nearly 700,000 Americans.

These men and women did not seek death; it came to them through their service. Their motivations included protecting the lives of those they loved; defending their homeland that has provided opportunity and freedom previously unknown in history; and facing dangers loyally alongside their brothers and sisters with whom they trained, deployed, and surged into combat as they answered their nation’s call.

These warriors were someone’s son or daughter; they might have been a husband or wife, father or mother, sister or brother. They were surely friends. They meant something to someone, and their loss struck deep to those whose lives they touched. These realities are why we have memorials to the fallen; cemeteries dedicated to their internment; poems, books, songs, and speeches written in their honor; and specific occasions, like Memorial Day, set aside on which to reflect on all of this.

This Memorial Day, take a moment to think about what our country would be like without the sacrifice made by those who ensured our birth as a nation, who maintained our union, and who have defended our homeland and way of life across two and a half centuries.

Many people serve in a vast number of ways. But some have served to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice. Remembering them is the point of Memorial Day…..


This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Here Are 7 Major Cases The Supreme Court Has Yet To Decide This Term thumbnail

Here Are 7 Major Cases The Supreme Court Has Yet To Decide This Term

By Katelynn Richardson

Among the dozens of opinions yet to be released by the Supreme Court this term are cases on affirmative action, compelled speech and social media companies’ liability for content posted on their platforms.

To date, the Court has released 18 opinions, issuing rulings that enabled those facing complaints from administrative agencies to press constitutional challenges in federal court and allowed a death row inmate’s request for a DNA test to proceed. But opinions in 40 more cases are expected to be released before the end of June, including some of the most consequential cases on this term’s docket.

Affirmative Action

Two cases heard in November, Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina (UNC), and Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard, weighed whether universities’ use of racial preferences in the admissions process is constitutional.

After five hours of oral arguments on the two cases, experts noted several justices appeared to be leaning towards ruling against affirmative action, which would force many institutions of higher education to reevaluate their policies.

Some colleges are already taking a second look at their admissions process in anticipation of the decision. The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers advised its members in January to “begin to examine any admissions or recruitment practices that target populations of a specific race” in preparation for “possible major change.”

Compelled Speech

Lorie Smith, the plaintiff in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, challenged the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) because she wants to create wedding websites that reflect her belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. But Colorado’s law, which bans companies deemed public accommodations from restricting services based on sexual orientation, would compel her to also create websites for same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court’s decision in her case will impact creative professionals in 22 states with similar laws, including multiple states with pending lawsuits in the lower courts, clarifying whether the government can compel artists to express a message with which they disagree.

It could also finally put an end to years of legal troubles for Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips. Despite the Supreme Court’s narrow 2018 decision vindicating his refusal to create a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding, Phillips is still fighting activist lawsuits—in April, he appealed his latest case, which stems from his decision to decline a request for a custom cake symbolizing gender transition, to the Colorado Supreme Court.

“We’re hopeful the Supreme Court affirms that artists are free to create consistent with their beliefs,” Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Bryan Neihart previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

Biden’s plan to grant loan forgiveness to nearly 40 million Americans could be undone, depending on how the Supreme Court’s decisions comes down in Biden v. Nebraska, and Department of Education v. Brown, two cases it heard on February 28.

The Biden administration justifies its plan to cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt for non-Pell Grant recipients and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients by citing a section of the 2003 HEROES Act that allows the secretary of education to “waive or modify” provisions of student financial assistance programs during a national emergency. Justices appeared skeptical during oral arguments that Congress intended the emergency authority to extend this far, raising separation of powers concerns.

Yet plaintiffs in both cases, a group of six states in the first, and two individual loan holders in the second, were faced with questions of standing that could allow the Court to sidestep the core issue if it is determined they lack the grounds to sue.

Social Media Companies’ Liability

The Supreme Court is considering a case on the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a hotly-debated law designed to protect online platforms from being held liable as the speaker of third-party content hosted on their website while providing leeway for them to restrict “objectionable” material.

The plaintiff in Gonzalez v. Google, the family of a 23-year old American student killed in a 2015 ISIS terrorist attack in Paris, argues YouTube aided and abetted in the attack through its targeted recommendations of ISIS videos designed to recruit members. The question before the Court is the extent of Google’s liability for content recommended by its algorithms under the law.

During oral arguments on February 21, justices appeared wary of wading into an area of policy Congress has yet to clarify: “We’re not the nine greatest experts on the internet,” Justice Elena Kagan quipped.

Religious Accommodations

In 2019, Gerald Groff sued his former employer, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), for failing to exempt him from working on Sundays, a religious exemption he argues is required under federal law.

His case, which came before the Supreme Court on April 18, will have broad impacts for religious liberty in the workplace—potentially overturning decades-old precedent that found protections for religious employees could be limited if the accommodation would impose more than a trivial burden on the employer.

‘True Threats’ And The First Amendment

Speech ranging from online jokes to religious expression could be impacted by the Court’s definition of “true threats” in Counterman v. Colorado, a variety of groups who filed amicus briefs noted.

Billy Raymond Counterman was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for repeated Facebook messages he sent to a local musician — saying things like “Die” and “Was that you in the white Jeep?” Counterman says he did not intend his words to be threatening and asks the Court to consider his mental state, rather than deferring to Colorado’s test of how a “rational person” would interpret the statement.

Now, the Court is tasked with answering the question: what constitutes a “true threat?” Oral arguments on April 19 revealed at least some justices are concerned that failing to account for the speaker’s intent will chill speech under the First Amendment.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Water Regulations

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 3 for Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a case that considers the agency’s “waters of the United States” rule, which defines what waters are federally protected under the Clean Water Act. The case stems from a couple’s 15-year-long legal battle against the EPA, which told them they cannot build a house on land they own near Priest Lake, Idaho, because it contains wetlands.

The decision in Sackett could roll back the extent of the EPA’s authority to regulate under the Clean Water Act and force the Biden administration to reconsider its expansive new WOTUS definition. The administration’s rule has already been blocked in some states by a federal court pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

This article was published by The Daily Caller and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

‘Devout Catholic’ Biden Silent Amid Outrage Over Anti-Catholic, ‘Transgender Nuns’ Promoted by LA Dodgers thumbnail

‘Devout Catholic’ Biden Silent Amid Outrage Over Anti-Catholic, ‘Transgender Nuns’ Promoted by LA Dodgers

By Mary Margaret Olohan

President Joe Biden has yet to weigh in on the outrage over the Los Angeles Dodgers inviting an anti-Catholic group of queer and transgender “nuns” to its Pride Night events.

The drag performers call themselves “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” and describe their group as “a leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns.” Though the group claims that it is not anti-Catholic, the tagline on its website states: “Go forth and sin some more,” apparently mocking Jesus Christ’s words to a biblical woman caught in adultery.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Tax filings show that as of 2020, the group’s president was Marie-Noelle Murphy, a legal secretary at Friedman McCubbin Law Group LLP in San Francisco. Murphy, reached by phone, chided The Daily Signal for calling her at work and directed press inquiries to her Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence email.

According to a report from the Catholic League on the group’s anti-Catholic exploits, the performers have been insulting the Catholic Church since 1979 through “Hunky Jesus” contests on Easter Sundays, mock Masses featuring “holy communion wafers and tequila,” “exorcism” and a “Condom Savior Mass,” prizes for “hottest confessions” at a San Diego gay bar, and more.

“Our next step is to persuade Catholics in the Los Angeles area not to attend Pride Night on June 16,” Catholic League President Bill Donohue said Tuesday, the Catholic News Agency reported. “By boycotting this event, we can send a message to the Dodgers, and to Major League Baseball, that anti-Catholic bigotry is unacceptable.”

Catholic sisters or nuns are women who pledge their lives to God, making vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These women devote their time to prayer and service and are highly revered in many communities.

Biden, for example, has said that he was “educated by nuns,” whom he has repeatedly praised.

Members of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence dress in “sexualized perversions of religious garb, taunting the women religious who serve the poor in Southern California and around the world,” as CatholicVote’s Brian Burch described, noting: “We sincerely doubt that the Dodgers would give such an award to a group which made a similar travesty of the Jewish faith or Muslim faith.”

The Daily Signal asked the White House repeatedly for Biden’s thoughts on the matter. Biden, a lifelong Catholic, has been repeatedly described by his administration and by corporate media as a “devout Catholic.” The White House did not respond to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment.

The Dodgers had initially removed the faux “sisters” from their Pride Night list after strong backlash from religious groups, including CatholicVote and Burch, who wrote in a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr.: “The [Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence] mock Catholics by taking on vulgar names such as ‘Sister GladAss of the Joyous Reserectum.’”

“In one infamous stunt, they tricked an archbishop into giving them the Eucharist—the most important sacrament of the Catholic faith—so they could defile it,” Burch wrote. “This past Easter Sunday, the [Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence] put on an exhibition in San Francisco in which a performer dressed as Jesus carried a cross up a hill and then performed a pole dance on it.”

But on Monday, the baseball team apologized to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and asked them to “take their place on the field at our 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night.” The leftist group of performers said in a statement on its website that the Dodgers gave it a “full apology and explanation.”

The group concluded its statement with yet another poke at the Catholic Church: “May the games be blessed!”

In a statement released Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles called for “all Catholics and people of goodwill to stand against bigotry and hate in any form.”

“The decision to honor a group that clearly mocks the Catholic faith and makes light of the sincere and holy vocations of our women religious who are an integral part of our church is what has caused disappointment, concern, anger, and dismay from our Catholic community,” the archdiocese said, the Catholic News Agency reported.

“The ministries and vocations of our religious women should be honored and celebrated through genuine acts of appreciation, reverence, and respect for their sacred vows and for all the good works of our nuns and sisters in service of the mission of the Catholic Church,” the statement continued.

The archdiocese stands against any actions that would disparage and diminish our Christian faith and those who dedicate their lives to Christ. Let us also show our care and respect for our women religious by sending a message of support to their communities through phone calls, letters, and posts on their social channels; supporting vocations by donating to their orders; and/or making donations in their name to the programs they support. Let us show the world how much our women religious mean to us and our church.

The Dodgers did not respond to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment, including whether the team has had conversations with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles about the controversy.


This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Leaked Policy Exposes Fox News Stances on Woke Ideology thumbnail

Leaked Policy Exposes Fox News Stances on Woke Ideology

By Mary Margaret Olohan

Fox News employees are allowed to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, rather than their biological sex, and are permitted to dress in alignment with their preferred gender. They must also be addressed by their preferred name and pronouns in the workplace.

These are just a few of the policies outlined in the company handbook, dated January 2021, a copy of which was shared with The Daily Signal. Fox also offers to help employees come up with a “Workplace Transition Plan” to ease their gender transition at work.

The revelations come amid conservative consternation at Fox Digital’s use of activist language like “gender-affirming care” in stories on its website, as well as the site’s consistent use of female pronouns for biological males like TikTok celebrity Dylan Mulvaney and swimmer Lia Thomas (formerly known as Will Thomas).

Fox also drew strong backlash for a June 2022 on-air segment praising a child’s gender transition as an “inspiration to others.” That segment briefly depicted California state Sen. Scott Weiner, a far-left Democrat who led the move to soften sex offender registry requirements for sodomy with minors, and highlighted the activist claim that a child might commit suicide if he or she is not permitted to transition.

The Daily Signal talked to current and former Fox employees who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the company.

“They want you to think it’s this place that supports traditionally conservative values,” a former producer for “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” told The Daily Signal. “But in reality, they’re pushing this nonsense behind the scenes.” 

Carlson’s show was canceled on April 24, days after he delivered a viral speech at The Heritage Foundation’s 50th-anniversary gala. Fox News Media has not given a reason, simply stating that the two parties “agreed to part ways.”

A source who still works at Fox News told The Daily Signal that after Carlson’s show was canceled in April, producers for the new 8 p.m. “Fox News Tonight” program was told not to bash Mulvaney. That directive came from high-level executives, the source said. 

Fox News did not respond to The Daily Signal’s multiple requests for comment.

Under the category “Gender Transition,” Fox’s employee handbook promises that the company is dedicated to “expanding and strengthening” efforts to “sustain a more inclusive work environment.” The Fox employee handbook is posted on Workday, where employees can see company guidelines or policies, a former employee told The Daily Signal.

“Employees who are transitioning their gender have the right to be open about their transition if they so choose, and to work in an environment free of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, and without fear of consequences or transphobia for living openly,” the policy says.

Citing the Human Rights Campaign, one of the most prominent LGBTQ organizations in the country, the Fox handbook defines a slew of LGBTQ terms, including cisgender, gender expression, gender-fluid, gender identity, gender non-conforming, gender transition, LGBTQ, non-binary, and transgender.

For the past several years, Fox received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, “the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality.” A former Fox News employee told The Daily Signal that the company frequently mentions this perfect score in employee training materials.

“Fox News devotes hours of programming to attacking ‘woke companies,’ but ironically Fox is as woke as the rest of them,” another former Fox News employee told The Daily Signal, emphasizing that Fox viewers would be “astonished to find out what the company is like.” 

Fox’s policies appear to be aligned with the legal requirements in New York City, where the company is headquartered, as well as California, where a large number of its employees work.

The New York City Human Rights Law requires employers to use the name, pronouns, and title with which a person identifies, regardless of their biological sex. It is a violation of the NYCHRL to intentionally or repeatedly refuse to use a person’s preferred name, pronoun, or title.

Additionally, the New York City law requires that people “be permitted to use single-gender facilities, such as restrooms or locker rooms…that most closely align with their gender, regardless of their gender expression, sex assigned at birth, anatomy, medical history, or the sex or gender indicated on their identification.”

If a biological woman objects to sharing a bathroom with a trans-identifying man, her objection will not be considered a “lawful reason to deny access” to the trans-identifying individual: “In those circumstances, a covered entity may offer alternatives for the individual expressing discomfort, by, for example, providing a single-occupancy restroom to change in.”

The law also specifically states that it is “unlawful” to require a trans-identifying person to use a single-occupancy restroom “because they are transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.” New York also outlines the “Workplace Transition Plan” mentioned in the Fox handbook.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council adopted new regulations in 2017 pertaining to trans-identifying employees. These regulations similarly include an employee’s bathroom use, transitioning, dress, preferred name, and pronouns. 

For example, on bathroom use, the regulations state: “Employers shall permit employees to use facilities that correspond to the employee’s gender identity or gender expression, regardless of the employee’s assigned sex at birth.”

And on names and pronouns, the regulations give individuals a means to take action against their employer: “If an employee requests to be identified with a preferred gender, name, and/or pronoun, including gender-neutral pronouns, an employer or other covered entity who fails to abide by the employee’s stated preference may be liable.”

Traffic on Sixth Avenue passes by advertisements featuring Fox News personalities, including Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity, adorn the front of the News Corporation building. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Employees who are attempting transitions are encouraged to “inform and educate” their co-workers about their experience, according to the Fox policy obtained by The Daily Signal, which emphasizes that only transitioning employees may disclose that they are trying to change their biology, and anyone who might know about their colleague’s gender transition must respect that person’s right to privacy.

Fox’s handbook notes that the man or woman attempting to transition may find the experience “stressful and trying,” and states that “with advance preparation, the road for someone to be able to express their true self can be made smoother.”

Fox also offers to help employees come up with a workplace gender transition plan.

“During the initial and any subsequent meetings, you and the Company should develop and maintain a Workplace Transition Plan,” the handbook says. “This Plan will outline the steps that need to be taken to ensure a successful transition at work.”

Those steps include when employees want to start using a different bathroom aligning with their gender identity and assuming a new gender identity at work. It also provides employees with time off for treatment (possibly hormonal treatments, like testosterone and estrogen) or medical procedures (such as the removal of breasts or testicles, facial feminization or masculinization, or the creation of fake genitalia).

Additionally, Fox and the employee would plan out “the manner in which, and to what extent, coworkers and non-employees in the workplace will be made aware of your transition,” and when the company will change the employees’ name or make other “administrative or personnel changes.”

Fox employees can go by their preferred name and pronouns, the handbook states, at least to the “extent possible.” But for apparently logistical reasons, until a transitioning employee gets a legal name change, their legal name (often referred to by LGBTQ advocates as a “dead name”) must remain on the company payroll, insurance, and personnel documents.

The handbook explicitly states that any employee “may access the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.” 

“If a transitioning employee expresses a desire for increased privacy they will be provided access to a single occupancy restroom where available,” the handbook says. “However, no employee shall be required to use a single-occupancy restroom if they do not wish to do so.”

The former Fox employee who spoke with The Daily Signal scathingly critiqued the network for running “hours of programming attacking companies for having leftist policies.”

“Fox is no different,” the former employee said. “It’s a standard American mega-corporation with all the same types of policies and employees as those other companies.”

The Daily Signal sent Fox’s corporate public relations staff detailed questions about the policy and the accusations from former employees last week. As of publication, Fox did not respond.

The handbook specifically acknowledges that “individuals who are transitioning their gender will be encouraged or required by their health care practitioner to live full-time in their impending gender role before gender reassignment surgery can be performed.” This is called “Real Life Experience” or “Real Life Test,” Fox notes. Fox employees are told that they are “permitted to express their gender” in accordance with company dress code policies.

Tucker Carlson speaks during 2022 Fox Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on Nov. 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

When trans-identifying TikTok star Mulvaney was first gaining prominence last year, producers for “Tucker Carlson Tonight” had to fight to be able to refer to Mulvaney with male pronouns in the show’s chyrons, the former “Tucker Carlson Tonight” producer told The Daily Signal. 

Carlson’s team also fought to be able to host The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh on trans issues, the producer said, but the team was repeatedly met with resistance from Fox on this due to Walsh’s frank condemnation of transgender ideology. This may have also been due in part to Fox’s view of The Daily Wire as a competitor, the former producer suggested.

In a phone interview with The Daily Signal, Walsh said he was aware of the alleged blacklisting and believes it began after he slammed Fox for the June 2022 segment praising a child’s gender transition. Since then, Walsh appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” a few times, but he was aware that Carlson’s team had to fight for these appearances.

“Fox’s viewers think that Fox shares their values,” Walsh said. “And it’s very clear that that’s just not the case. Gender ideology is as far radical Left as you can possibly go. They have embraced radical leftism in its most extreme form.”

“There’s no daylight at all between Fox News and MSNBC when it comes to gender,” Walsh added. “And I think that’s something that Fox’s viewers need to know. … If it were up to me, Fox would get the Bud Light treatment.”


This article was published by Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

On The Front Lines thumbnail

On The Front Lines

By Editors at the Rutherford Institute

WASHINGTON, DC — Warning against unconstitutional power grabs and overreaches by the IRS, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to restrict the tax agency’s authority to carry out warrantless searches of innocent taxpayers’ bank accounts and financial records as part of its efforts to identify and pursue the funds of associated family members and friends with delinquent taxes.

In an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court in Polselli v. IRS, The Rutherford Institute and Cato Institute argue that the sweeping investigatory power wielded by the IRS—to circumvent the Fourth Amendment by carrying out warrantless searches of the bank accounts and records of innocent people merely because they may be associated with a delinquent taxpayer—offends every constitutional sensibility on the right to privacy.

“The Supreme Court needs to rein in the IRS’ unconstitutional power grabs,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “This practice of investigating the bank records of innocent taxpayers because they may have family members or associates who are delinquent on their taxes is merely a perverse form of guilt by association. At a minimum, Fourth Amendment protections should not disappear just because sensitive information is shared with third parties, such as banks and attorneys.”

The case arose after an IRS Revenue Officer, seeking to collect underpaid federal taxes by Remo Polselli, served summonses on the banks of Polselli’s wife and attorney in order to find account and financial records concerning Polselli. The IRS agent did not notify Polselli’s wife or attorney of the summonses, but the banks voluntarily did so. Polselli’s wife and attorney subsequently filed motions in federal district court to quash the IRS’s summonses. In siding with the IRS, the district court held that Polselli’s wife and attorney are not entitled to notice of the summons and have no right to even be heard on their motions to quash the summonses. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and, not wanting to “significantly impede the IRS’s ‘expansive information-gathering authority,’” interpreted a federal statute to rule that the IRS may summon the recordkeeper of any person without notice to that person if the summons was issued in aid of the collection of an assessment against a delinquent taxpayer. Although the Sixth Circuit acknowledged that the IRS may be able to access information regarding blameless third parties, which could then be shared with the Department of Justice for a criminal prosecution, the court brushed aside such concerns as “conjectural fears.”

In support of the appeals by Polselli’s wife and attorney to the Supreme Court, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute and Cato argued that the statute should be interpreted consistent with the Fourth Amendment’s privacy values and protections against unreasonable searches so that the IRS cannot sweep up sensitive information of innocent people who coincidentally happen to have the same employer, lawyer, or accountant as a delinquent taxpayer.

Ethan H. Townsend, Michael B. Kimberly, and Emmett A. Witkovsky-Eldred of McDermott Will & Emery LLP advanced the arguments in the amicus brief in Polselli v. Internal Revenue Service.


This article was published by The Rutherford Institute and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.

Weekend Read: The Four Pillars of Medical Ethics Were Destroyed in the Covid Response thumbnail

Weekend Read: The Four Pillars of Medical Ethics Were Destroyed in the Covid Response

By Clayton J. Baker, MD

Much like a Bill of Rights, a principal function of any Code of Ethics is to set limits, to check the inevitable lust for power, the libido dominandi, that human beings tend to demonstrate when they obtain authority and status over others, regardless of the context.

Though it may be difficult to believe in the aftermath of COVID, the medical profession does possess a Code of Ethics. The four fundamental concepts of Medical Ethics – its 4 Pillars – are Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-maleficence, and Justice.

Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-maleficence, and Justice

These ethical concepts are thoroughly established in the profession of medicine. I learned them as a medical student, much as a young Catholic learns the Apostle’s Creed. As a medical professor, I taught them to my students, and I made sure my students knew them. I believed then (and still do) that physicians must know the ethical tenets of their profession, because if they do not know them, they cannot follow them.

These ethical concepts are indeed well-established, but they are more than that. They are also valid, legitimate, and sound. They are based on historical lessons, learned the hard way from past abuses foisted upon unsuspecting and defenseless patients by governments, health care systems, corporations, and doctors. Those painful, shameful lessons arose not only from the actions of rogue states like Nazi Germany, but also from our own United States: witness Project MK-Ultra and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

The 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics protect patients from abuse. They also allow physicians the moral framework to follow their consciences and exercise their individual judgment – provided, of course, that physicians possess the character to do so. However, like human decency itself, the 4 Pillars were completely disregarded by those in authority during COVID.

The demolition of these core principles was deliberate. It originated at the highest levels of COVID policymaking, which itself had been effectively converted from a public health initiative to a national security/military operation in the United States in March 2020, producing the concomitant shift in ethical standards one would expect from such a change. As we examine the machinations leading to the demise of each of the 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics during COVID, we will define each of these four fundamental tenets, and then discuss how each was abused.


Of the 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics, autonomy has historically held pride of place, in large part because respect for the individual patient’s autonomy is a necessary component of the other three. Autonomy was the most systemically abused and disregarded of the 4 Pillars during the COVID era.

Autonomy may be defined as the patient’s right to self-determination with regard to any and all medical treatment. This ethical principle was clearly stated by Justice Benjamin Cardozo as far back as 1914: “Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body.”

Patient autonomy is “My body, my choice” in its purest form. To be applicable and enforceable in medical practice, it contains several key derivative principles which are quite commonsensical in nature. These include informed consent, confidentialitytruth-telling, and protection against coercion.

Genuine informed consent is a process, considerably more involved than merely signing a permission form. Informed consent requires a competent patient, who receives full disclosure about a proposed treatment, understands it, and voluntarily consents to it.

Based on that definition, it becomes immediately obvious to anyone who lived in the United States through the COVID era, that the informed consent process was systematically violated by the COVID response in general, and by the COVID vaccine programs in particular. In fact, every one of the components of genuine informed consent were thrown out when it came to the COVID vaccines:

  • Full disclosure about the COVID vaccines – which were extremely new, experimental therapies, using novel technologies, with alarming safety signals from the very start – was systematically denied to the public. Full disclosure was actively suppressed by bogus anti-“misinformation” campaigns, and replaced with simplistic, false mantras (e.g. “safe and effective”) that were in fact just textbook propaganda slogans.
  • Blatant coercion (e.g. “Take the shot or you’re fired/can’t attend college/can’t travel”) was ubiquitous and replaced voluntary consent.
  • Subtler forms of coercion (ranging from cash payments to free beer) were given in exchange for COVID-19 vaccination. Multiple US states held lotteries for COVID-19 vaccine recipients, with up to $5 million in prize money promised in some states.
  • Many physicians were presented with financial incentives to vaccinate, sometimes reaching hundreds of dollars per patient. These were combined with career-threatening penalties for questioning the official policies. This corruption severely undermined the informed consent process in doctor-patient interactions.
  • Incompetent patients (e.g. countless institutionalized patients) were injected en masse, often while forcibly isolated from their designated decision-making family members.

It must be emphasized that under the tendentious, punitive, and coercive conditions of the COVID vaccine campaigns, especially during the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” period, it was virtually impossible for patients to obtain genuine informed consent. This was true for all the above reasons, but most importantly because full disclosure was nearly impossible to obtain.

A small minority of individuals did manage, mostly through their own research, to obtain sufficient information about the COVID-19 vaccines to make a truly informed decision. Ironically, these were principally dissenting healthcare personnel and their families, who, by virtue of discovering the truth, knew “too much.” This group overwhelmingly refused the mRNA vaccines.

Confidentiality, another key derivative principle of autonomy, was thoroughly ignored during the COVID era. The widespread yet chaotic use of COVID vaccine status as a de facto social credit system, determining one’s right of entry into public spaces, restaurants and bars, sporting and entertainment events, and other locations, was unprecedented in our civilization.

Gone were the days when HIPAA laws were taken seriously, where one’s health history was one’s own business, and where the cavalier use of such information broke Federal law. Suddenly, by extralegal public decree, the individual’s health history was public knowledge, to the absurd extent that any security guard or saloon bouncer had the right to question individuals about their personal health status, all on the vague, spurious, and ultimately false grounds that such invasions of privacy promoted “public health.”

Truth-telling was completely dispensed with during the COVID era. Official lies were handed down by decree from high-ranking officials such as Anthony Fauci, public health organizations like the CDC, and industry sources, then parroted by regional authorities and local clinical physicians. The lies were legion, and none of them have aged well. Examples include:

  • The SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in a wet market, not in a lab
  • “Two weeks to flatten the curve”
  • Six feet of “social distancing” effectively prevents transmission of the virus
  • “A pandemic of the unvaccinated”
  • “Safe and effective”
  • Masks effectively prevent transmission of the virus
  • Children are at serious risk from COVID
  • School closures are necessary to prevent spread of the virus
  • mRNA vaccines prevent contraction of the virus
  • mRNA vaccines prevent transmission of the virus
  • mRNA vaccine-induced immunity is superior to natural immunity
  • Myocarditis is more common from COVID-19 disease than from mRNA vaccination

It must be emphasized that health authorities pushed deliberate lies, known to be lies at the time by those telling them. Throughout the COVID era, a small but very insistent group of dissenters have constantly presented the authorities with data-driven counterarguments against these lies. The dissenters were consistently met with ruthless treatment of the “quick and devastating takedown” variety now infamously promoted by Fauci and former NIH Director Francis Collins.

Over time, many of the official lies about COVID have been so thoroughly discredited that they are now indefensible. In response, the COVID power brokers, backpedaling furiously, now try to recast their deliberate lies as fog-of-war style mistakes. To gaslight the public, they claim they had no way of knowing they were spouting falsehoods, and that the facts have only now come to light. These, of course, are the same people who ruthlessly suppressed the voices of scientific dissent that presented sound interpretations of the situation in real time.

For example, on March 29, 2021, during the initial campaign for universal COVID vaccination, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky proclaimed on MSNBC that “vaccinated people do not carry the virus” or “get sick,” based on both clinical trials and “real-world data.” However, testifying before Congress on April 19, 2023, Walensky conceded that those claims are now known to be false, but that this was due to “an evolution of the science.” Walensky had the effrontery to claim this before Congress 2 years after the fact, when in actuality, the CDC itself had quietly issued a correction of Walensky’s false MSNBC claims back in 2021, a mere 3 days after she had made them.

On May 5, 2023, three weeks after her mendacious testimony to Congress, Walensky announced her resignation.

Truth-telling by physicians is a key component of the informed consent process, and informed consent, in turn, is a key component of patient autonomy. A matrix of deliberate lies, created by authorities at the very top of the COVID medical hierarchy, was projected down the chains of command, and ultimately repeated by individual physicians in their face-to-face interactions with their patients. This process rendered patient autonomy effectively null and void during the COVID era.

Patient autonomy in general, and informed consent in particular, are both impossible where coercion is present. Protection against coercion is a principal feature of the informed consent process, and it is a primary consideration in medical research ethics. This is why so-called vulnerable populations such as children, prisoners, and the institutionalized are often afforded extra protections when proposed medical research studies are subjected to institutional review boards.

Coercion not only ran rampant during the COVID era, it was deliberately perpetrated on an industrial scale by governments, the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical establishment. Thousands of American healthcare workers, many of whom had served on the front lines of care during the early days of the pandemic in 2020 (and had already contracted COVID-19 and developed natural immunity) were fired from their jobs in 2021 and 2022 after refusing mRNA vaccines they knew they didn’t need, would not consent to, and yet for which they were denied exemptions. “Take this shot or you’re fired” is coercion of the highest order.

Hundreds of thousands of American college students were required to get the COVID shots and boosters to attend school during the COVID era. These adolescents, like young children, have statistically near-zero chance of death from COVID-19. However, they (especially males) are at statistically highest risk of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine-related myocarditis.

According to the advocacy group, as of May 2, 2023, approximately 325 private and public colleges and universities in the United States still have active vaccine mandates for students matriculating in the fall of 2023. This is true despite the fact that it is now universally accepted that the mRNA vaccines do not stop contraction or transmission of the virus. They have zero public health utility. “Take this shot or you cannot go to school” is coercion of the highest order.

Countless other examples of coercion abound. The travails of the great tennis champion Novak Djokovic, who has been denied entry into both Australia and the United States for multiple Grand Slam tournaments because he refuses the COVID vaccines, illustrate in broad relief the “man without a country” limbo in which the unvaccinated found (and to some extent still find) themselves, due to the rampant coercion of the COVID era.


In medical ethics, beneficence means that physicians are obligated to act for the benefit of their patients. This concept distinguishes itself from non-maleficence (see below) in that it is a positive requirement. Put simply, all treatments done to an individual patient should do good to that individual patient. If a procedure cannot help you, then it shouldn’t be done to you. In ethical medical practice, there is no “taking one for the team.”

By mid-2020 at the latest, it was clear from existing data that SARS-CoV-2 posed truly minimal risk to children of serious injury and death – in fact, the pediatric Infection Fatality Rate of COVID-19 was known in 2020 to be less than half the risk of being struck by lightning. This feature of the disease, known even in its initial and most virulent stages, was a tremendous stroke of pathophysiological good luck, and should have been used to the great advantage of society in general and children in particular.

The opposite occurred. The fact that SARS-CoV-2 causes extremely mild illness in children was systematically hidden or scandalously downplayed by authorities, and subsequent policy went unchallenged by nearly all physicians, to the tremendous detriment of children worldwide.

The frenzied push for and unrestrained use of mRNA vaccines in children and pregnant women – which continues at the time of this writing in the United States – outrageously violates the principle of beneficence. And beyond the Anthony Faucis, Albert Bourlas, and Rochelle Walenskys, thousands of ethically compromised pediatricians bear responsibility for this atrocity.

The mRNA COVID vaccines were – and remain – new, experimental vaccines with zero long-term safety data for either the specific antigen they present (the spike protein) or their novel functional platform (mRNA vaccine technology). Very early on, they were known to be ineffective in stopping contraction or transmission of the virus, rendering them useless as a public health measure. Despite this, the public was barraged with bogus “herd immunity” arguments. Furthermore, these injections displayed alarming safety signals, even during their tiny, methodologically challenged initial clinical trials.

The principle of beneficence was entirely and deliberately ignored when these products were administered willy-nilly to children as young as 6 months, a population to whom they could provide zero benefit – and as it turned out, that they would harm. This represented a classic case of “taking one for the team,” an abusive notion that was repeatedly invoked against children during the COVID era, and one that has no place in the ethical practice of medicine.

Children were the population group that was most obviously and egregiously harmed by the abandonment of the principle of beneficence during COVID. However, similar harms occurred due to the senseless push for COVID mRNA vaccination of other groups, such as pregnant women and persons with natural immunity.


Even if, for argument’s sake alone, one makes the preposterous assumption that all COVID-era public health measures were implemented with good intentions, the principle of non-maleficence was nevertheless broadly ignored during the pandemic. With the growing body of knowledge of the actual motivations behind so many aspects of COVID-era health policy, it becomes clear that non-maleficence was very often replaced with outright malevolence.

In medical ethics, the principle of non-maleficence is closely tied to the universally cited medical dictum of primum non nocere, or, “First, do no harm.” That phrase is in turn associated with a statement from Hippocrates’ Epidemics, which states, “As to diseases make a habit of two things – to help, or at least, to do no harm.” This quote illustrates the close, bookend-like relationship between the concepts of beneficence (“to help”) and non-maleficence (“to do no harm”).

In simple terms, non-maleficence means that if a medical intervention is likely to harm you, then it shouldn’t be done to you. If the risk/benefit ratio is unfavorable to you (i.e., it is more likely to hurt you then help you), then it shouldn’t be done to you. Pediatric COVID mRNA vaccine programs are just one prominent aspect of COVID-era health policy that absolutely violate the principle of non-maleficence.

It has been argued that historical mass-vaccination programs may have violated non-maleficence to some extent, as rare severe and even deadly vaccine reactions did occur in those programs. This argument has been forwarded to defend the methods used to promote the COVID mRNA vaccines. However, important distinctions between past vaccine programs and the COVID mRNA vaccine program must be made.

First, past vaccine-targeted diseases such as polio and smallpox were deadly to children – unlike COVID-19. Second, such past vaccines were effective in both preventing contraction of the disease in individuals and in achieving eradication of the disease – unlike COVID-19. Third, serious vaccine reactions were truly rare with those older, more conventional vaccines – again, unlike COVID-19.

Thus, many past pediatric vaccine programs had the potential to meaningfully benefit their individual recipients. In other words, the a priori risk/benefit ratio may have been favorable, even in tragic cases that resulted in vaccine-related deaths. This was never even arguably true with the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

Such distinctions possess some subtlety, but they are not so arcane that the physicians dictating COVID policy did not know they were abandoning basic medical ethics standards such as non-maleficence. Indeed, high-ranking medical authorities had ethical consultants readily available to them – witness that Anthony Fauci’s wife, a former nurse named Christine Grady, served as chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, a fact that Fauci flaunted for public relations purposes.

Indeed, much of COVID-19 policy appears to have been driven not just by rejection of non-maleficence, but by outright malevolence. Compromised “in-house” ethicists frequently served as apologists for obviously harmful and ethically bankrupt policies, rather than as checks and balances against ethical abuses.

Schools never should have been closed in early 2020, and they absolutely should have been fully open without restrictions by fall of 2020. Lockdowns of society never should have been instituted, much less extended as long as they were. Sufficient data existed in real time such that both prominent epidemiologists (e.g. the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration) and select individual clinical physicians produced data-driven documents publicly proclaiming against lockdowns and school closures by mid-to-late 2020. These were either aggressively suppressed or completely ignored.

Numerous governments imposed prolonged, punishing lockdowns that were without historical precedent, legitimate epidemiological justification, or legal due process. Curiously, many of the worst offenders hailed from the so-called liberal democracies of the Anglosphere, such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and deep blue parts of the United States. Public schools In the United States were closed an average of 70 weeks during COVID. This was far longer than most European Union countries, and longer still than Scandinavian countries who, in some cases, never closed schools.

The punitive attitude displayed by health authorities was broadly supported by the medical establishment. The simplistic argument developed that because there was a “pandemic,” civil rights could be decreed null and void – or, more accurately, subjected to the whims of public health authorities, no matter how nonsensical those whims may have been. Innumerable cases of sadistic lunacy ensued.

At one point at the height of the pandemic, in this author’s locale of Monroe County, New York, an idiotic Health Official decreed that one side of a busy commercial street could be open for business, while the opposite side was closed, because the center of the street divided two townships. One town was code “yellow,” the other code “red” for new COVID-19 cases, and thus businesses mere yards from one another survived or faced ruin. Except, of course, the liquor stores, which, being “essential,” never closed at all. How many thousands of times was such asinine and arbitrary abuse of power duplicated elsewhere? The world will never know.

Who can forget being forced to wear a mask when walking to and from a restaurant table, then being permitted to remove it once seated? The humorous memes that “you can only catch COVID when standing up” aside, such pseudo-scientific idiocy smacks of totalitarianism rather than public health. It closely mimics the deliberate humiliation of citizens through enforced compliance with patently stupid rules that was such a legendary feature of life in the old Eastern Bloc.

And I write as an American who, while I lived in a deep blue state during COVID, never suffered in the concentration camps for COVID-positive individuals that were established in Australia.

Those who submit to oppression resent no one, not even their oppressors, so much as the braver souls who refuse to surrender. The mere presence of dissenters is a stone in the quisling’s shoe – a constant, niggling reminder to the coward of his moral and ethical inadequacy. Human beings, especially those lacking personal integrity, cannot tolerate much cognitive dissonance. And so they turn on those of higher character than themselves.

This explains much of the sadistic streak that so many establishment-obeying physicians and health administrators displayed during COVID. The medical establishment – hospital systems, medical schools, and the doctors employed therein – devolved into a medical Vichy state under the control of the governmental/industrial/public health juggernaut.

These mid- and low-level collaborators actively sought to ruin dissenters’ careers with bogus investigations, character assassination, and abuse of licensing and certification board authority. They fired the vaccine refuseniks within their ranks out of spite, self-destructively decimating their own workforces in the process. Most perversely, they denied early, potential life-saving treatment to all their COVID patients. Later, they withheld standard therapies for non-COVID illnesses – up to and including organ transplants – to patients who declined COVID vaccines, all for no legitimate medical reason whatsoever.

This sadistic streak that the medical profession displayed during COVID is reminiscent of the dramatic abuses of Nazi Germany. However, it more closely resembles (and in many ways is an extension of) the subtler yet still malignant approach followed for decades by the United States Government’s medical/industrial/public health/national security nexus, as personified by individuals like Anthony Fauci. And it is still going strong in the wake of COVID.

Ultimately, abandonment of the tenet of non-maleficence is inadequate to describe much of the COVID-era behavior of the medical establishment and those who remained obedient to it. Genuine malevolence was very often the order of the day.


In medical ethics, the Pillar of justice refers to the fair and equitable treatment of individuals. As resources are often limited in health care, the focus is typically on distributive justice; that is, the fair and equitable allocation of medical resources. Conversely, it is also important to ensure that the burdens of health care are as fairly distributed as possible.

In a just situation, the wealthy and powerful should not have instant access to high-quality care and medicines that are unavailable to the rank and file or the very poor. Conversely, the poor and vulnerable should not unduly bear the burdens of health care, for example, by being disproportionately subjected to experimental research, or by being forced to follow health restrictions to which others are exempt.

Both of these aspects of justice were disregarded during COVID as well. In numerous instances, persons in positions of authority procured preferential treatment for themselves or their family members. Two prominent examples:

According to ABC News, “in the early days of the pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo prioritized COVID-19 testing for relatives including his brother, mother and at least one of his sisters, when testing wasn’t widely available to the public.” Reportedly, “Cuomo allegedly also gave politicians, celebrities and media personalities access to tests.”

In March 2020, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine directed nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients, despite warnings against this by trade groups. That directive and others like it subsequently cost tens of thousands of lives. Less than two months later, Levine confirmed that her own 95 year-old mother had been removed from a nursing home to private care. Levine was subsequently promoted to 4-star Admiral in the US Public Health Service by the Biden Administration.

The burdens of lockdowns were distributed extremely unjustly during COVID. While average citizens remained in lockdown, suffering personal isolation, forbidden to earn a living, the powerful flouted their own rules. Who can forget how US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke the strict California lockdowns to get her hair styled, or how British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defied his own supposedly life-or-death orders by throwing at least a dozen parties at 10 Downing Street in 2020 alone? House arrest for thee, wine and cheese for me.

But California Governor Gavin Newsom might take the cake. At first glance, given both his BoJo-esque, lockdown-defying dinner with lobbyists at the ultra-swanky Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry, and his decision to send his own children to expensive private schools which were fully open for 5-day in-school learning during the prolonged California school closures, one might think of Newsom as a COVID-era Robin Hood. That is, until one realizes that he presided over those same punishing, inhumane lockdowns and school closures. He was actually the Sheriff of Nottingham.

To a decent person with a functioning conscience, this level of sociopathy is difficult to comprehend. What is crystal clear is that anyone capable of the hypocrisy that Gavin Newsom displayed during COVID should not be anywhere near a position of power in any society.

Two additional points should be emphasized. First, these egregious acts were rarely, if ever, called out by the medical establishment. Second, the behaviors themselves show that those in power never truly believed their own narrative. Both the medical establishment and the power brokers knew the danger posed by the virus, while real, was grossly overstated. They knew the lockdowns, social distancing, and masking of the population at large were kabuki theater at best, and soft-core totalitarianism at worst. The lockdowns were based on a gigantic lie, one they neither believed nor felt compelled to follow themselves.

Solutions and Reform

The abandonment of the 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics during COVID has contributed greatly to an historic erosion of public trust in the healthcare industry. This distrust is entirely understandable and richly deserved, however harmful it may prove to be for patients. For example, at a population level, trust in vaccines in general has dramatically reduced worldwide, compared to the pre-COVID era. Millions of children now stand at increased risk from proven vaccine-preventable diseases due to the thoroughly unethical push for unnecessary, indeed harmful, universal COVID-19 mRNA vaccination of children.

Systemically, the medical profession desperately needs ethical reform in the wake of COVID. Ideally, this would begin with a strong reassertion of and recommitment to the 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics, again with patient autonomy at the forefront. It would continue with prosecution and punishment of those individuals most responsible for the ethical failures, from the likes of Anthony Fauci on down. Human nature is such that if no sufficient deterrent to evil is established, evil will be perpetuated.

Unfortunately, within the medical establishment, there does not appear to be any impetus toward acknowledgement of the profession’s ethical failures during COVID, much less toward true reform. This is largely because the same financial, administrative, and regulatory forces that drove COVID-era failures remain in control of the profession. These forces deliberately ignore the catastrophic harms of COVID policy, instead viewing the era as a sort of test run for a future of highly profitable, tightly regulated health care. They view the entire COVID-era martial-law-as-public-health approach as a prototype, rather than a failed model.

Reform of medicine, if it happens, will likely arise from individuals who refuse to participate in the “Big Medicine” vision of health care. In the near future, this will likely result in a fragmentation of the industry analogous to that seen in many other aspects of post-COVID society. In other words, there is apt to be a “Great Re-Sort” in medicine as well.

Individual patients can and must affect change. They must replace the betrayed trust they once held in the public health establishment and the healthcare industry with a critical, caveat emptor, consumer-based approach to their health care. If physicians were ever inherently trustworthy, the COVID era has shown that they no longer are so.

Patients should become highly proactive in researching which tests, medications, and therapies they accept for themselves (and especially for their children). They should be unabashed in asking their physicians for their views on patient autonomy, mandated care, and the extent to which their physicians are willing to think and act according to their own consciences. They should vote with their feet when unacceptable answers are given. They must learn to think for themselves and ask for what they want. And they must learn to say no.

This article was published by Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.


As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.