Weekend Read: Artificial Intelligence thumbnail

Weekend Read: Artificial Intelligence

By Conlan Salgado

As human beings we name things. We classify objects and persons. These activities are the foundation of our pursuit of understanding: categorization. It may be that in classifying ourselves as homo sapiens—intelligent hominids—we set ourselves up for perpetual misunderstanding of ourselves. Lately some members of homo sapiens have convinced themselves that they have created intelligent machines, which they refer to as artificially intelligent – already projecting themselves onto their creations. More importantly, they claim that some of these machines are super-intelligent. These humans, unfortunately, possess significant power.

Many of them, such as the academic Yuval Noah Hararri, are powerful players at world-shaping institutions such as the WEF. They have already announced, with discomforting enthusiasm, how this technology will be the next great revolution in social planning, social engineering, social media censorship, giant data collection and analysis, new levels of digitization and technological centralization. The ability to generate facts, narratives, and images which serve/promote a particular ideology, and then to monopolize digital spaces for the inundating of these facts, narratives and images, will be categorically different from what we have previously witnessed.

Covid-19 was the most censored event in human history, due to intelligence community use of language-learning AI to censor online posts and information. With a totally digitized and centralized world, people will live in a matrix of carefully curated information: they will live as non-fictional characters in a fictional and digital world.

All of these radical and terrifying transformations—many of them already underway—are predicated on a more fundamental transformation in self-understanding, in who human beings are as. . .well, human beings. Thus, before attempting to cut through the much thornier territory of AI’s effects on political freedom, internet freedom, information integrity, etc., I will address the critical question of whether artificial  intelligence is intelligent in the human sense, and therefore, whether they represent a revolutionary revision in how we should view ourselves. The concise answer IT DOES NOT. AI is not intelligent in the human sense. AI is not conscious. AI does not understand language (semantically or syntactically), nor does it comprehend meaning. It has no unified perception.

A chatbot like ChatGPT does not understand language; rather, it has been fed about a trillion data points and has been programmed to analyze these word-and-image data points to predict which word would most reasonably follow the previous word. Because of the size of the data inputs, and due to the computational power of the algorithm, the chatbot’s predictions are almost always correct, giving the appearance of ChatGPT “using” or wielding language intelligently. The mechanism by which a chatbot uses language to “speak intelligibly” is completely un-mysterious. It is computational in nature, which is no surprise, since algorithms compute. That said though, it does not diminish the awesome, and potentially authoritarian, computational power of the technology.

Language is a universal and intuitive possession of human beings. The mechanism by which a unified field of perception arises—consciousness—and the mechanism by which human beings understand syntactical and semantic meanings is mysterious. As regards consciousness, the mechanism is entirely mysterious.

Unfortunately, consciousness is the very structure of our understanding, so we cannot claim to understand human beings without understanding consciousness. At the center of each of our understandings is an “I”, whom we identify with, whom we experience as free, whose every thought is our thought, whom we value intimately, whose inner life is our inner life, and whose every concern is our every concern. Therefore, the very act of understanding, for a human being, means to bring something in contact with this “I”, and to begin to value that something in relation to this “I”.

No such activities or types of understanding or self-understanding may be ascribed to any AI, for the simple reason that AI is not conscious, nor possesses a sense of self. Therefore, since consciousness is ground zero of human understanding, emotion, and perception, AI is not a true or proper analogue of human intelligence, nor does it solve the mystery of consciousness, nor does it prove that minds are simply algorithms, nor does it prove that human intelligence is pre-programmed through evolution and therefore free will is an illusion. And yet, the secularist, anti-humanist elites are using AI as a premise to project two very damaging, very wrong and very dangerous conclusions.

First, they are claiming that AI shows intelligence is computational and algorithmic, and that with the advent of intelligent machines, human uniqueness as an “intelligent species” is no longer applicable. Furthermore, because AI creates its ‘intelligence’ as algorithmic and pre-programmed, human intelligence is similarly algorithmic and pre- programmed from millions of years of evolution, so therefore, if computers are not free, neither are human beings. Obviously, much of this is simply false in light of what is written above, but the obfuscations are so blinding, a deeper analysis is needed.

The story reaches back to the Enlightenment, and the age of empiricism which it fostered and which followed it when empirical science, due partly to its unprecedented success in answering natural philosophy questions, became the paradigm of true knowledge. Because empirical science became the paradigm of true knowledge, other forms of knowledge and knowing were excluded, such as revelation, intuition, a priori knowledge – entire disciplines lost great epistemological authority or prestige, including theology and philosophy, particularly metaphysics. All realities which could not be known through the methods of empirical science were now to be categorized as non-realities, or at best, useful fictions: God, objective moral duties and laws, beauty, spirit, goodness and meaning (in the ontological sense of both words), etc.

Of course, simply saying that human beings did not need an objective meaning to their lives did not mean that people stopped looking for meaning. It only meant that people took those existential urges, which had been previously satiated by religion, and looked for them to be satiated by another meta-societal enterprise: politics. The 20th century was the century of state religions and political doctrines of faith, prophets and high priests of the proletariat; instead of dying for God, people died for ideas such as equality, or “social justice”. Instead of killing in the name of God, people killed millions of others in the name of equality, or the “common good” or “social justice”. Political policies became infallibly divined dogmas, and those who spoke out against these policies were declared heretics, and killed, or locked away.

Human nature, human history, human experience, literature, art, culture—all of these tell us that meaning is real, that it must be sought by us, that we must find some sort of transcendent meaning if we are to declare our own lives “worth living”. My point is simply this: very recently in our history, human beings allowed the outrageous success of the scientific method to justify excluding all other forms of knowledge as trivial. This exclusion of religious ways of knowing did not actually do away with an deep religious urges; indeed, they resurfaced with particular ferocity in the 20th century. However, this exclusion of religious ways of knowing did lead to a deliberate obfuscation of who we are as human beings, and what we need to make ourselves make sense. This engendered the lie that human beings did not need to believe in a higher power or purpose, which in turn led to people transforming non-religious activities into quasi-religious systems, which in turn led to the absolutizing of politics, which in turn led to authoritarianism, which in turn led to mass murder.

Similarly, AI may convince us that man is not free, that his intelligence is simply a naturally programmed algorithm, but this will not make it so. Human beings will continue to need freedom, even if it is withheld from them. It may be, for example, that the creation of AI algorithms convinces many people that the human brain is also an algorithm, and that like other algorithms, it can be cracked, and that therefore, the human mind is not free. Perhaps, then, free speech is a myth and need not be a protected right. Perhaps rights in general are fictions, perhaps liberal democracy and representative government is a “myth”, an illusion based on the outdated idea that minds are free and not biologically programmed algorithms. Perhaps elections themselves are a silly exercise, a waste of time. To assume that because our machines are not free, we are not free, is to destabilize the human identity on a fundamental level.

This brings me to another point, which Henry Kissinger touched on in a fine essay for the Atlantic  on the topic of AI:

“Through all human history, civilizations have created ways to explain the world around them—in the Middle Ages, religion; in the Enlightenment, reason; in the 19th century, history; in the 20th century, ideology.”

Unfortunately for us in the 21st century, as a society, we have rejected so many of our best ways of explaining ourselves and the world around us. As I mentioned, only science is considered true knowledge, and ever since Bacon, science has been conceived of as a technologically driven enterprise, leading to—especially in the 20th century— unprecedented technological leaps forward.

We have made science and its technology into our ideology, and we have made that ideology into our “way of truth”. Put another way, we understand ourselves, as a society, primarily though exercises of technology. This drives home, on a deeper level, the fact that so many secularist, anti-humanist elites view AI as revealing deep truths about human intelligence and the mystery of consciousness. They view AI as a technological mirror. In creating a machine which can wield language seemingly meaningfully, we created a mirror of our own meaning-making intelligence! Except we didn’t.

AI computes; it does not emote, it does not relate on a first-person basis, it does not unify perceptions, memory, abstractions and other data in an exercise of imagination which generates genuine self-understanding and self-reflection, or genuinely creates value and meaning. Emoting, relating, unifying in the sense above described is a uniquely human activity. The fact that this cannot be clearly seen indicates how desperately we need other ways of explaining ourselves outside the practice of science and technology.

Additionally, and in corroboration with the preceding point, AI has given rise to a whole slew of utopian predictions and progressive ecstasies about untold convenience, efficiency, and inter-connectedness. From talks about it curing cancer, to combatting dis- and misinformation, to enhancing human cells and brains, AI has been greeted with much the same buffoonish excitement that “scientific expertise” was greeted with in the 19th and 20th centuries, and here, I believe, a useful comparison can be drawn.

For obvious reasons, as science became more and more ascendant over the 18th and 19th centuries, the process of “scientizing” all the different fields of knowledge began. A science of society, for example, was established, now known as “sociology”; a science of the soul was established, now known as psychology. Science holds sole epistemological authority, and so as many disciplines as possible try to cast themselves as sciences. In the 19th century especially, the early sociologists and positivists believed that the optimal governing body of society was a group of social scientists, or experts in the science of society (in the case of Comte, he opted for the financial elite instead of sociologists). These experts would use their superior knowledge, intelligence, and information to scientifically deduce policies and scientifically plan society (such as  the Covid-19 response!). These radical notions were taken in by progressivism, eventually coming to be embodied in modern, supermassive, supposedly neutral and expertise-driven bureaucracies.

Second, the epoch of AI allows for an even more utopian version of this same, 19th century fallacy, for, if we should entrust society to the planning of human intelligences with limited information and computing ability, how much more ought we to trust the planning of society to a super-intelligence with almost no information horizon and unbelievable computing power? AI is the impartial, super-intelligent, super-computing expert we’ve all been waiting for!

For example, here is a brief excerpt from WEF’s Agenda 2023:

“Shopping? I can’t really remember what it is. For most of us, it has been turned into choosing things to use. Sometimes I find this fun, and sometimes I just want the algorithm to do it for me. It knows my taste better than I do by now. When AI and robots took over so much of our work, we suddenly had time to eat well, sleep well and spend time with other people.” Here we have WEF fantasizing about AI bringing about both large-scale restructurings of society and even determining the actions of individual persons: “sometimes I just want the algorithm to do it for me.”

One senses a strong flavor of Marxist thought in this.

Perhaps the most immediate way AI is re-planning and re-organizing society is through its massive censorship utilizations. As aforementioned, language learning algorithms were used during Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 election to censor any posts having certain words or phrases associated with dissenters: antivaxx, Hunter Biden laptop, side effect, etc. Millions of posts were deleted by an AI algorithm which had been programmed to censor specific speech categories or words. AI took away the first amendment in real time from thousands of individuals, perhaps millions. Social media censorship certainly impacted the outcome of the 2020 election, and in this way, we can affirm that AI is already helping to determine who is and is not running this country. A computer algorithm helped choose the president!

The future, alas, looks to be less free than the past. Time Magazine poses this scenario:

“But as the integration of GenAI becomes ubiquitous in everyday technology it is not a given that search, word processing, and email will continue to allow humans to be fully in control. The perspectives are frightening. Imagine a world where your word processor prevents you from analyzing, criticizing, lauding, or reporting on a topic deemed “harmful” by an AI programmed to only process ideas that are “respectful and appropriate for all.”

It is undeniable that as the world becomes increasingly digitized, cultural spaces will be increasingly digital, and culture wars will be digitally waged wars. AI is not a digital enemy one wants to be fighting, but it looks as if this may be the fate of all free-speech advocates.

Technology has also impacted and changed individual human behavior in dangerous ways which cannot be understated. For example, the constant presence of image-generating machines has almost certainly stunted imagination in young people, and with the advent of AI image generators with extreme bias, this coddling and indoctrination of the young American mind will be constant.  A terrifying example of this is the recent Google’s Gemini programming of reality and history for our younger generations.

More concretely, as Kissinger observes here, it has encouraged bad intellectual habits:

“Users of the internet emphasize retrieving and manipulating information over contextualizing or conceptualizing its meaning. They rarely interrogate history or philosophy; as a rule, they demand information relevant to their immediate practical needs. In the process, search-engine algorithms acquire the capacity to predict the preferences of individual clients, enabling the algorithms to personalize results and make them available to other parties for political or commercial purposes. Truth becomes relative. Information threatens to overwhelm wisdom.”

Twitter has given rise to bite-sized history, which cannot be history at all. Social media has exacerbated the replacement of arguments (generally long and complicated) with slogans (much catchier, much simpler). Technology, in fact, has changed what it means to be human, for more and more people are relating to non-human, non-conscious, unfeeling, unthinking pieces of metal as if they are friends, or mentors, or parents. iPhones have replaced conversation in most social situations. I am a college student, I should know. Social media is replacing old-fashioned, flesh-and-blood friends. Works of art, which used to be valuable partly because they were acts of communication between human beings, or because they were self-reflections and genuine instances of self-knowledge, are now being generated by machines and algorithms which do not understand the human condition, or know what it is like to be embodied, or feel grief, or feel humiliation, or feel alone—choose any of the numerous human impetuses to create. Even art is no longer humans teaching the art of being human to other humans, but rather machines teaching the art of being human to humans.

The truth is, to understand technological agency, we must understand human agency, for technology is merely the artifactualizing and typically the automatization of human agency and intention. AI is unique technologically, because it artifactualizes mental agency, as opposed to physical agency. AI is intelligent to the extent that we have encoded our own intelligence in binary instructions, which the computer can decode, and therefore mimic intelligent behavior. Technology has allowed human agency to work on the world even in the absence of human beings, since we can capture or “artifactualize” our agency in machinery, and then automatize the machinery constantly to apply that agency.

Sadly, at this point, many of the people coding the computers have stopped acting intelligently, so our technology now artifactualizes and force-multiplies our stupidity and biases, again precisely as the launch of  Google Gemini demonstrated. We are left with the fearsome and dangerous summarizing thought that “there is machinery to this madness!”

*****

Conlan Salgado, is a college junior. He is an astute political observer and highly informed conservative. America needs more young patriots and gifted writers to awaken citizens to the existential danger our nation faces in the decades-long political war with a radical leftist party and culture increasingly out-of-control. We recommend all of his superb writings. Access Conlan Salgado’s essays in The Prickly Pear here.

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Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

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General Electric’s Taxpayer-Powered Wind Machines thumbnail

General Electric’s Taxpayer-Powered Wind Machines

By Ken Braun

Editors’ Note: This is just another example of wild spending to force change in the energy field on Americans and how badly US corporations have been corrupted by the government by the cynically named Inflation Reduction Act.

“Wind turbines are like strippers. They stop working when you stop throwing money at them.” Author unknown

The price of climate pork has shot up 2,000 percent, thanks to the ironically-named Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA). According to a recent projection from the U.S. Treasury, American taxpayers will fork over a stunning $425 billion for wind and solar energy subsidies over the next decade. This represents a 21-fold increase in the cost of these subsidies just since 2015, according to calculations made by energy journalist Robert Bryce.

The market capitalization of General Electric (GE) hovered just above $70 billion in the summer of 2022. The Inflation Reduction Act was signed by the president in August. By late February 2024, GE was worth $167 billion.

Is that a coincidence?

An April 2023 CNBC report was titled: “From GE to Siemens, the wind energy industry hopes billions in losses are about to end.”

It predicted a possible end to a “tough couple of years for the U.S. wind energy industry” because of an “air of optimism within the industry, driven in large part by billions of dollars in new tax credits and subsidies toward clean energy investments included in the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act.”

The Largest Wind Farm in the Western Hemisphere

The prophecy was coming true by January 2024, as demonstrated by this corporate communication from GE:

Recognizing that decarbonization needs to go even faster, the U.S. government has once again stepped up its policy support. For many years, solar and wind projects have benefited from the basic production and investment tax credits, which have been extended multiple times by Congress in the past. But the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) not only provides the long-term certainty of those PTC and ITC, it also has other bonuses, and one job that GE Vernova takes on is helping developers hit the targets required to qualify for those bonuses. [emphasis added]

Or, if phrased as a new mission statement, “GE: Helping developers hoover up your tax dollars!

The GE statement was promoting the work of one of those developers.

Getting renewable electricity to big population centers is a growing challenge in the United States, but in the high desert of central New Mexico a plan is coming together. There, near the tiny town of Corona, GE Vernova will deploy 674 of its new “workhorse” 3.6-154 wind turbines for the SunZia project and its developer, Pattern Energy. When completed in 2026, this colossus of a project will weigh in at a total 3,500 MW, making it the largest wind farm—and in fact the largest renewables project—in the Western Hemisphere, providing enough power for some 3 million people.

Spread out over a million acres, SunZia’s ambitious scope has been compared to the Hoover Dam. [emphasis added]

Boasting of this huge chunk of the environment that must be compromised to make room for its wind turbines is an odd way for GE to promote its power systems.

So is the Hoover Dam comparison. A January 2024 E&E News report more substantively predicted SunZia would provide “three times more power annually than the Hoover Dam.”

The million acres projected to be used to build SunZia equals 1,562 square miles.

Sitting between the “tiny town of Corona” and the Hoover Dam is the Grand Canyon, a hole in the ground so huge that astronauts can clearly see it from orbit. The canyon, plus all of the roads and land on either side of it that make up Grand Canyon National Park, add up to just over 1,904 square miles.

By way of comparison, the Hoover Dam is small enough that you need to drive to it before it becomes visible. Lake Mead, the otherwise very large reservoir created by the Hoover Dam, takes up only 247 square miles when it is full.

By GE’s own estimate, to generate three times the carbon-free electricity produced from the Hoover Dam/Lake Mead project, the largest wind power project ever put on this side of the Earth will need to devour six times more of the planet.

Hydroelectric dams take up a lot of space, arguably too much in some cases. But the Hoover Dam apparently still uses less land per kilowatt hour of power than GE’s newest wind turbines will require. (And another advantage beyond the carbon-free electricity is that Lake Mead stores enough water to irrigate 2,300 square miles of farmland and provide fresh water for 16 million people.)

GE’s engineers should check the math on the press statements being sent out by the PR department.

And compared to other carbon-free power options, the Hoover Dam comparison isn’t even remotely the worst one GE could have chosen. The “tiny town of Corona,” near where the SunZia wind facility is being built, is a 646-mile drive east from the Hoover Dam. In the same general direction, but just 575 miles away, sits the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station.

From a mere 6.4 square mile plot of land 60 miles from downtown Phoenix, Palo Verde annually produces more than 31 terawatt hours (TWh) of zero-carbon electricity and is capable of more than 32 TWh each year.

In 2023 the Hoover Dam produced a combined 2.7 TWh of electricity for Arizona and Nevada. If the SunZia project really does triple the power output of the Hoover Dam, then it will annually generate 8.1 TWh of power. So GE is boasting that it needs 244 times more land than Palo Verde to produce just 25 percent of the carbon-free electricity kicked out by the nuclear station.

This means a nuclear facility opened more than 30 years ago is still nearly 1,000 times more efficient with land use (i.e., “the environment”) than GE’s latest and greatest wind machines will be.

The Old Wind Turbines

On the positive side, at least they’re using the new stuff.

Media accounts from January 2022 through January 2024 show at least 13 fires, blade breaks, tower collapses, and other serious malfunctions credited to GE wind machines. Seven were in the United States.

About 550 miles north of where SunZia will be built a GE wind turbine caught fire after its tower collapsed in Colorado on the morning of January 11, 2024. This was apparently less than two days after GE posted the statement describing SunZia. The Colorado turbine was one of 19 GE wind machines that were in motion at the Spring Canyon II wind facility in late 2014. By the dates provided in a CBS media account, the turbine had lasted just over nine years before it fell over.

Three months earlier in October 2023, two different blades snapped off the same GE turbine at a wind facility in Germany. The same wind farm had a nearly identical problem with another of its GE turbines in September 2022. Following the 2022 incident, nearby farmers complained that debris from the malfunction had polluted their fields.

In March 2023, one of 14 GE turbines at a brand-new wind facility in Lithuania fell to the ground when the tower buckled. According to the account in ReNews.biz, a “malfunctioning sensor” had caused the turbine to misbehave and topple the tower.

Also in March 2023, a GE turbine managed by NextEra energy in New York caught fire during high winds that scattered burning fiberglass and other debris all over the town. The local newspaper covered an April 2023 meeting on the incident with the headline: “Heated meeting as residents with fiberglass particles on land, trees and possibly ponds question wind turbine fire.”

And in January 2023, a GE turbine collapsed at another NextEra facility in Wisconsin. In March 2023, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported: “Nearly two months later the remains of the crumpled tower are still where they fell, it’s 86-ton turbine and blades resting partially buried in a hole created by the impact.”

In Ireland a few months earlier in October 2022 an offshore GE turbine caught fire in the Irish Sea. Media accounts raised the possibility of a lightning strike on the machine.

Then in August 2022, a GE turbine at an Oklahoma wind power facility came down in a fiery crash. “The utility company said the cause of the incident is under investigation,” reported Fox Weather, “but the scene looked similar to the destruction of a wind turbine in Texas after a direct lightning strike in late July.”

That July 2022 incident in Texas also involved a GE turbine. According ReNews.biz, the wind machine had been in operation since 2019 and the developer of the project believed a lighting strike had been the cause of the “catastrophic fire.” Fox Weather reported that “videos from witnesses and firefighters showed the wind turbine generator ablaze and disintegrate in the sky over Crowell, Texas.”

(Note for further investigation: Could it be that weather-dependent wind power systems are peculiarly vulnerable to . . . the weather?)

Also in July 2022, a blade broke off of a GE turbine in Sweden. ReCharge News reported that a family with children had been picking berries nearby the malfunction. The headline of the ReCharge News report led with this quote: “Lucky family wasn’t hurt.”

In June 2022, according to Bloomberg, another GE wind turbine that had “been in operation for less than a year” crashed down in Oklahoma. Unlike the August 2023 incident involving a supposedly lightning-afflicted GE turbine in Oklahoma, this one happened on a calm, clear day.

The January 2023 Bloomberg report was titled: “Wind Turbines Taller Than the Statue of Liberty Are Falling Over.” The same report covered yet another incident from June 2022:

Another GE turbine of the same model collapsed in Colorado a few days later. That wind farm’s owner-operator, NextEra Energy Inc., later attributed it to a blade flaw and said it and GE had taken steps to prevent future mishaps. A spokesperson for GE declined to say what went wrong in both cases in a statement to Bloomberg.

Similarly in January 2022 a blade from a GE wind machine in Germany broke into multiple pieces and fell off the turbine.

IRA to the Rescue?

The Bloomberg report in January 2023 showed General Electric wasn’t the only turbine maker in trouble by that point:

The problems have added hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for the three largest Western turbine makers, GE, Vestas Wind Systems and Siemens Energy’s Siemens Gamesa unit; and they could result in more expensive insurance policies . . .

The race to add production lines for ever-bigger turbines is cited as a major culprit by people in the industry. “We’re seeing these failures happening in a shorter time frame on the newer turbines, and that’s quite concerning,” says Fraser McLachlan, chief executive officer of London-based GCube Underwriting Ltd., which insures about $3.5 billion in wind assets in 38 countries. If the failure rate keeps climbing, he says, insurance premiums could increase or new coverage limits could be imposed.

But this was just as hundreds of billions of dollars in goodies from the federal government were set to begin raining down on the weather-dependent wind industry by way of the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act.

Is it reasonable to conclude that your tax dollars are the only thing keeping the wind turbine grift alive?

Sometimes even the experts are honest about it.

“I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” said billionaire investor Warren Buffett, way back in May 2014. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

Thanks to the IRA, they now make 21 times more “sense” than they did when Buffett said this.

*****

This article was published by Capital Research and is reproduced with permission.

Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot KCCI News

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Farmers’ Revolt Over Radical Green Agenda Could Reshape Europe Ahead Of EU Elections thumbnail

Farmers’ Revolt Over Radical Green Agenda Could Reshape Europe Ahead Of EU Elections

By Tristan Justice

European farmers are reshaping the political landscape across the Atlantic just months before the EU’s parliamentary elections.

European farmers are reshaping the political landscape across the Atlantic about two months before 27 member states of the European Union (EU) vote on new leadership in their parliamentary elections.

Between June 6 and June 9, residents in the more than two dozen EU countries will elect 720 politicians to represent them as the continent confronts floundering economies and a potential war with Russia. Major demonstrations from agricultural workers, who are disillusioned by cheap imports and overregulation in the name of environmentalism, have rocked the region for years. The discontent has escalated in recent months, leading to last-minute concessions from EU elites desperate to maintain political capital ahead of the June elections.

In 2023, Dutch farmer protests generated global headlines as more than 10,000 people fought aggressive emissions regulations. The new rules threatened to shut down up to 3,000 farms. The Dutch demonstrations have been followed by similar uprisings in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, and others over burdensome regulations and Ukrainian grain imports undermining local produce.

In February, the European Commission tried to do some damage control, scrapping a bill aimed at halving pesticide use and reigning in agricultural emissions as leaders brace for political blowback at the polls. But the specific limits on pesticides appear to be a minor point among farmers, who are tired of the overwhelming rules and regulations.

“We’re tired of working and getting underpaid,” explained one farm protester in a BBC interview. “We are fed up that they won’t let us do what we want to do in the fields. They force us to plant what they want us to plant. They force us to use the herbicide that they want, and apart from that, we are being underpaid.”

Protests have persisted in recent weeks, with demonstrators dumping manure in the streets and spraying it at police. Arnaud Rousseau, who runs the largest farmers union in France, told The New York Times in a recent interview, “It’s the end of the world versus the end of the month.”

“There’s no point talking about farm practices that help save the environment, if farmers cannot make a living,” Rousseau said. “Ecology without an economy makes no sense.”

“The discontent threatens to do more than change how Europe produces its food,” The New York Times reported Sunday. Right-of-center political parties see the populist anger as an “illustration of the confrontation between arrogant elites and the people, urban globalists and rooted farmers.” The electoral success of these parties would likely change the political dynamics in the EU, not just in the form of easing off agricultural regulations but also in seeking to curb migration and scrutinizing spending on Ukraine.

The farmers are just the most vocal opponents of the bureaucratic leviathan suffocating the entire EU under a mountain of rules and regulations. Federalist Senior Editor David Harsanyi goes through the numbers in his latest book, Eurotrash: Why America Must Reject the Failed Ideas of a Dying Continent.

The European Union, Harsanyi writes, “is no longer ‘federalist’ by any conception, but rather an institution that demands economic and regulatory conformity.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Harsanyi adds, exploited the EU pandemic recovery program in 2020 “to push forward the European Green Deal and exert greater control over member states.”

This was tradition. In the early 1980s, the number of EU laws reached 14,000. The EU passed 25 directives and 600 regulations per annum in the 1970s, but those numbers rose to 80 directives and 1,500 regulations by the early 1990s. By 2005 the EU had passed 170,000 pages of active legislation and 666,879 since its inception in 1957. As of June 2019, 80 percent of the United Kingdom’s environmental laws had been tethered to EU policy.

In other words, farmers might be generating headlines for mass demonstrations against overregulation from the administrative state, but the problem stretches across the European economy. The ensuing political backlash may change Europe’s direction on issues well beyond agricultural policy if the farmers’ revolt successfully sweeps in new leadership to the EU parliament.

*****

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

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The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Arizona Attorney General Says She Won’t Enforce State Supreme Court Ruling Banning Abortion thumbnail

Arizona Attorney General Says She Won’t Enforce State Supreme Court Ruling Banning Abortion

By Arjun Singh

Democratic Attorney General Kristin Mayes of Arizona announced on Tuesday that she would not enforce a ruling from her state’s supreme court upholding an 1864 law that bans most abortions.

On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a law criminalizing abortions, except in cases where necessary to save the mother’s life, may be enforced following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022, which ruled that there is no constitutional right to an abortion. Mayes, one of the named parties in the case, subsequently issued a statement on X condemning the decision while claiming that her prosecutors would not enforce the law against doctors and women seeking abortions. (RELATED: Arizona Supreme Court Rules Near-Total Abortion Ban Can Go Into Effect)

“[L]et me be completely clear, as long as I am Attorney General, no woman or doctor will be prosecuted under this draconian law in this state,” wrote Mayes. “Today’s decision to re-impose a law from a time when Arizona wasn’t a state, the Civil War was raging, and women couldn’t even vote will go down in history as a stain on our state.”

“Absent the federal constitutional abortion right…there is no provision in federal or state law prohibiting [the 1864 law]’s operation. Accordingly, [it] is now enforceable,” wrote Justice John R. Lopez, an appointee of former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, for the court’s four-member majority. While the court’s entire bench was appointed by Republican governors, two of its members — Chief Justice Robert Brutinel and Vice Chief Justice Ann Timmer — dissented from the decision.

Republican leaders of the Arizona House of Representatives, which is empowered to impeach officials under the state constitution, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

*****

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

Image Credit: YouTube screenshot

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Why Are Elected Republicans Helping Democrats Reward A Failed Education System? thumbnail

Why Are Elected Republicans Helping Democrats Reward A Failed Education System?

By Neland Nobel

Editors’ Note:  We in Arizona are indeed fortunate that our Republican leaders have been leading the nation in school choice. But, Democrats and their allies the teachers’ union will always be trying to cut back school choice and so we must remain ever vigilant. On a national level, we must be sure our Representatives and Senators support cutting the funding or eliminating altogether the Department of Education.

Republicans are increasing financial support for a broken public education system that is openly hostile to conservative families.

Researchers at Harvard and Stanford have now confirmed what parents across the country have known for some time: Public education “experts” decimated an entire generation of children with their heavy-handed and politically charged Covid-era policies. Yet, rather than beg forgiveness and seek reconciliation, those very same “experts” are doubling down.

Many public schools are transforming K-12 curricula based on the Marxist tenets ingrained in critical race theory, while stories involving young women being injured by male transgender high school athletes are now commonplace. Some public school districts have even taken to grift, joining the wave of lawsuits against social media companies and their insidious algorithms, while ignoring their own contributions to the nationwide adolescent mental health crisis.

In 2014, while campaigning for president, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was sharply criticized for stating that school choice is “the most compelling civil rights issue of the 21st century.” The senator was absolutely correct, yet a decade later only nine states have adopted policies establishing universal education freedom. To make matters worse, elected Republicans are increasing financial support for a broken public education system that is openly hostile to conservative families.

Just within the last few weeks, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a $1.2 trillion funding package that allocates almost $80 billion to the left-wing Department of Education. Conservative parents might reasonably ask whether elected Republicans (many of whom send their own children to private school) actually have their best interests at heart. 

Pennsylvania: A Study in Bipartisan Failure

Notwithstanding the mind-boggling federal spending on public education, more than 90 percent of K-12 expenses are funded by state and local taxes. In Pennsylvania, for example, Gov. Josh Shapiro recently touted his $1 billion increase in K-12 education spending, bringing the total annual expenditures on public education to a whopping $19.1 billion, or 44 percent of the total state budget. For some perspective, spending on education in Pennsylvania was about half that, $9.6 billion, in 2019.

It would be easy to blame Democrats for this astounding display of fiscal irresponsibility, but Republicans have controlled the Pennsylvania legislature for much of that time. One would hope that this profligate spending would have led to meaningful increases in compensation and greater job satisfaction for teachers, the individuals doing the hard work of educating the next generation. But that is not the case. Four years and billions of dollars later, Pennsylvania lost nearly 10,000 teachers in 2023 alone.

So, despite doubling funding in recent years, Pennsylvania teachers are miserable and leaving the profession in droves. What about the kids? One would expect that they are thriving as a result of the billions in extra money flowing into Pennsylvania public schools, but that is not the case either. In fact, Pennsylvania kids are still struggling to recover from the immense harm caused by the state’s enforcement of unlawful policies.

Pennsylvania families are also fighting the cultural battles infecting schools throughout the country. For example, in late 2022, the Central Bucks School District was targeted by a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alleging that certain school district policies and practices were hostile toward LGBT students. After the district spent more than $1 million on the investigation, the superintendent was forced to resign and Democrats regained control of the school board in the following election. Just to rub it in, the newly elected school board president in that district took her oath of office on a stack of controversial LGBT books. At least one thing is clear — the left has mastered the lawfare game at every level.

Contrast that episode with my experience in the nearby Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. I have spent the last three years trying to hold local school officials accountable for their unlawful conduct during the Covid debacle. Because there is no ACLU equivalent for conservative families, however, the school district has thus far completely ignored my public complaint. At the same time, parents and teachers in my district are left to grapple with the destruction caused by those institutional failures.

Meanwhile, Republican politicians in the commonwealth are nowhere to be found. To be sure, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee has lamented the governor’s out-of-control spending, but a cursory reading of his list of grievances reveals that he is long on criticism and short on solutions. Republican officials in Pennsylvania cozy up to conservative voters when they need them, but then continue to fuel a public education system that is diametrically opposed to the primacy of parental rights.

In Meyer v. Nebraska, the Supreme Court held that parents have a fundamental right “to control the education of their own.” A few years later, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the court affirmed that government cannot unreasonably interfere with the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children. Nevertheless, a century later, the state has far more control over the destiny of our children than anyone ever expected.

Parental support for school choice mirrors the overwhelming support for congressional term limits yet seems destined for the same fate. Gov. Shapiro campaigned on expanding school choice, but once he was elected promptly abandoned his promise. So Pennsylvanians are left with the status quo — teachers aren’t happy, parents aren’t happy, and children are falling behind. Yet the public education machine barrels on.

Since 2000, the public school administrative class in Pennsylvania has grown by nearly 40 percent, and the top 10 superintendents in Pennsylvania make well over $250,000 per year. Yet the average starting salary for teachers is still below $60,000 throughout much of the state. The system isn’t working for anyone but the people who decide how to control the flow of Pennsylvania’s $20 billion education budget.

What is happening in Pennsylvania is a perfect example of the extent to which Republican officials have betrayed conservative families, the very people they are supposed to represent. In an election year, it is fair for those voters to take a closer look at the people seeking their support. The data is in, and the harm to children caused by the disastrous policy decisions during the pandemic is undeniable. So what are parents to do about it?

For all the blame they can justifiably lay at the feet of Democrat politicians and their powerful union bosses, perhaps it is time to turn their attention to elected Republicans. Rather than hold the “experts” accountable and demand comprehensive school choice as a form of reconciliation, Republicans are instead rewarding a public education establishment that indisputably harmed children and still aggressively pushes policies that intentionally undermine conservative families.

It is time for Republican officials to step up for those families. If they don’t, then perhaps it is time for those families to stop supporting Republican politicians.

*****

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

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

House GOP investigates failures leading to 200,000 deportation case dismissals

By Bethany Blankley

U.S. House Republicans are demanding answers from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as to why more than 200,000 deportation cases were dismissed.

A new report published by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University found that 200,000 deportation cases were dismissed because DHS employees or Border Patrol agents didn’t file the proper paperwork with the courts in time for scheduled hearings.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock, R-California, launched an investigation this week. They sent letters to Mayorkas and to Mary Cheng, acting director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), demanding information.

TRAC researchers evaluated data from January 2021 through February 2024 to determine the number of cases that were dismissed due to Notice to Appear documents not being filed with courts. One of the policies implemented by Mayorkas for which he was impeached relates to changing the detention and removal process. This included mass releasing illegal foreign nationals into the country who were given NTAs and told to appear before an immigration court at a date several years into the future.

By law, DHS is required to file NTAs with the court listed on them. Once filed, removal proceedings officially begin. If NTAs aren’t filed, the removal process doesn’t begin. If a hearing is scheduled before an NTA is filed, the case is thrown out and a new NTA must be filed. According to the report, of the data evaluated, NTAs were only refiled in 25% of the dismissed cases.

TRAC researchers said “the almost total lack of transparency on where and why these DHS failures occurred” is “troubling.”

They also said they weren’t able to obtain information “on just which agency created and issued these NTAs. While we suspect that most are created by Border Patrol agents, and thus should be filed with the court by Customs and Border Protection, we don’t know if the problem is concentrated there, and if so, which sectors and specific locations are most responsible.”

The greatest number of dismissals were in Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, and El Paso, according to the data.

NTAs are filed with immigration courts by CBP Office of Field Operations agents and DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agents. “No information to our knowledge has been publicly released by DHS on why and where these problems occur,” TRAC said.

House Republicans aim to find out.

In their letter to Mayorkas, Jordan and McClintock highlight data from the TRAC report and expressed concern “with DHS’s inaction, which exacerbates the nation’s already backlogged immigration courts and creates additional chaos in the Biden Administration’s immigration crisis.”

They also pointed out that the roughly 200,000 deportation case dismissals due to DHS not filing NTAs were significantly greater than the more than 15,500 DHS “failure to prosecute” cases reported between fiscal 2017 and 2020.

They requested that Mayorkas provide documents and information from Jan. 20, 2021, to the present related to the number of cases EOIR dismissed for DHS’s failure to prosecute; the number of cases described in question 1 for which DHS eventually filed an NTA; and all DHS reports on cases dismissed for failure to prosecute.”

In their letter to Cheng, they highlighted the same data and expressed similar concerns. They requested her to provide the number of cases EOIR dismissed for DHS’s failure to prosecute; the number of cases described in question 1 for which DHS eventually filed an NTA; and all EOIR’s Cognos failure to prosecute reports.

They gave a deadline for the requested material to be provided by April 17.

*****

This article was published by the Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

Image Credit: YouTube screenshot

Principleless, Panicked and Power-Hungry thumbnail

Principleless, Panicked and Power-Hungry

By James Allan

Pandemic Panic was a fascinating book to read, especially for a lawyer like me. It very quickly had my blood pressure way up as it reminded me of the nearly three years of governmental thuggery, heavy-handedness, imposition of idiotic and often irrational rules, and resort to lockdown lunacy. If that last sentence sounds as though I was a lockdown skeptic, full disclosure I was. From virtually day one this native born Canadian, who has lived in Australia for two decades, was an open skeptic of the lockdowns on the pages of the Spectator Australia, the British Lockdown Sceptic website (now Daily Sceptic), and once or twice in Law & Liberty in the US. I even had a couple of published peer-reviewed law articles on the topic rejected for listing by SSRN (presumably because only public health types were then deemed suitable to comment on this fiasco, and only lockdown cheerleader ones at that). Right from the start it seemed silly to me, verging on crazy, to think that in conditions of great uncertainty what you ought to do is proceed directly to some version of the precautionary principle on steroids, thereby mimicking the authoritarian response of the Chinese politburo – and in the process throw away a hundred years of data that informed the then pandemic plans of the British government (and the WHO for that matter) and that unambiguously rejected lockdowns.

The smart response in an information vacuum is to carry on as you are making changes at the margins to protect those most at risk as you wait for more information. And very early on it was known that this virus was over a thousand times more deadly to the very old than to the under-thirties. In most countries, for most of the pandemic, the average age of those dying from COVID was over the country’s life expectancy. For governments to proclaim that ‘we are all in this together’ was not true in any sense that could lead to the sort of policy response we saw everywhere in the democratic world outside of Sweden, Florida, South Dakota and a few other outliers that got their responses more or less correct (a fact that today’s cumulative excess deaths data, from start of the pandemic to today, brings home in the bluntest fashion going). Nor should it have led to the sort of massive government spending and debt and money printing that effectively (in part via asset inflation) transferred huge wealth from the young to the old and from the poor to the rich. Or that shut down schools in a way that will see many children, especially poor ones, disadvantaged for life.

So full disclosure, I came to this book very sympathetic indeed to the authors’ underlying position that the national and provincial government responses in Canada were seriously wrong-headed. The authors detail the ‘sometimes inane, often unprecedented and unusual public health measures taken over the roughly three-year pandemic period’. They recount public policy absurdities, including the Province of Quebec requiring unvaccinated people to be chaperoned in plexiglass carts through the essential aisles of big-box stores and the city of Toronto taping off the cherry blossoms and of quarantine hotel nightmares and incompetence. You can read of police heavy-handedness, sometimes more aptly described as thuggery, and of the differential treatment of anti-lockdown protesters as compared to, say, BLM protesters (both during the pandemic). Readers learn that Canada imposed a vaccine mandate for citizens to travel by plane, train or ship domestically or internationally. And that the provinces of Ontario and Quebec had some of the world’s longest lockdowns. Oh, and there are two chapters that touch on the truckers’ Freedom Convoy, especially how the Trudeau government needlessly invoked the Emergencies Act (think ‘threats to the security of Canada’, martial law type legislation) to deal with non-violent – though clearly loud, disruptive and annoying to many – truckers’ protests in Ottawa of the sort that had been dealt with elsewhere in the country using parking by-laws and the Highway Code. This emergency legislation, by the way, allowed the government to seize the bank accounts of anyone participating and assisting the convoy, which it did of many.

Having said all that, the book is very much focused on the law and the legal aspect of the governmental responses to the pandemic. The overarching approach starts with Canada’s entrenched bill of rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and FreedomsThe two authors, both constitutional lawyers, look at how some of the key enumerated rights fared in protecting Canadians against government overreach. The book is structured so that each chapter considers a different one of the key rights provisions. For example, chapter two considers freedom of assembly, chapter eight freedom of expression, chapter seven the equality right, and so on including religious freedom and privacy rights. Moreover, in terms of running readers through some of the key decisions by the top judges in Canada (and occasionally the US) the book is a handy little primer of cases brought, their outcome, and how the judiciary treated attempts to wind back government pandemic regulations and rules. The short answer to that, of course, is that in case after case after case the judges upheld governments’ COVID measures. The Charter of Rights did nothing. Nor, for that matter, did any bill of rights in any jurisdiction in the democratic world – leave aside one or two ‘churches can open if big stores can, too’ cases in the US and Scotland. But essentially one way to read this book is as a compendium of the myriad failures as regards the attempt to beat (or at least to ameliorate or even just to take the edge off) the lockdown heavy-handedness through the courts.

Thus far thus good then. The book is interesting, informative and with an underlying sense of a pervasive disbelief at just how panicked, principleless and even power-hungry the public health and political castes were during the pandemic. Throw in most journalists too if you wish.

Yet having conceded all that, for my way of thinking the core premise of this book is all wrong. You see I am a long-time skeptic of the desirability of bills of rights and in a way that many Americans will not have encountered. In essence my view is that when you buy a bill of rights you are ultimately just buying the views of the lawyerly caste and of the unelected ex-lawyers who are the top judges. Worse, if you are outside the US there is no way to import US First Amendment jurisprudence, along with your post-WWII Bill of Rights, so that you will almost certainly end up with outcomes that downplay free speech outcomes much more than in the US. In Canada and Europe rights analysis takes place in two steps – first judges decide on the proper scope of the enumerated right and then they move on to consider whether the governmental legislation is a reasonable, justifiable and proportional inroad on it. So stage one is something of a freebie and allows judges to virtue signal because all the work is done at stage two. Worse, this proportionality analysis is at its core plastic and – much as with the claim of Lon Fuller’s hypothetical judge in his famous The Case of the Speluncean Explorers – allows its user to reach either outcome in play perfectly plausibly. You tell me the answer you want, said Justice Keen in that Fuller mock hypothetical Speluncean case, and I can use the approach to give it to you. Ditto proportionality analysis or the second stage in Canadian Charter analysis. (Of course this is not to say that rights in the US are treated as absolute. They are not. It is just to say that in American analysis there is only one step, deciding the scope of the right. This may impose slightly more constraints on the deciding judges. Maybe.)

At any rate, during the lockdowns judges in Canada (and let’s be blunt, around the democratic world) were as panicked as all the other elites. Retired UK Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption may have noted early on that the authoritarian response to COVID amounted to the biggest inroads on our civil liberties in two hundred years. Yet he was a very solitary voice. Nearly all the judges were as frightened and panicked as most everyone else. There was next to no chance litigants were going to roll back governmental regulations through the courts. I said so in print at the start of the crisis and I believe events have proved that true. My take was that we would have to wait till everyone calmed down and the panic subsided and then you would see the judges discover a bit of a willingness to overturn some of these rules and regulations. But as far as the COVID years were concerned the entire edifice of human rights law, and all its accoutrements, was totally useless. Worse than useless in fact.

But I suppose my deeper objection to the foundational worldview on which this book rests is that I do not think we really should even want to live in a world where the lawyerly caste – whose political and social views the evidence today clearly shows to be an order of magnitude or more to the left of, and more ‘progressive’ than, that of the median voter’s – could decide these sort of issues through the courts. And that is true even when we strongly, even vociferously, disagree with what the government is doing, as I did throughout the pandemic. The remedy here had to be political. Elect someone who will stand up to the panic and show what should be done. If we lived in a world where unelected judges could roll back what elected governments did (however stupidly and pusillanimously) trying to deal with a worldwide pandemic then it’s not clear to me what would ultimately be left to the voters and democracy. Put more bluntly, after decades of working in university law schools around the Anglosphere and knowing the lawyerly and judicial caste very well indeed I can tell you that I fully agree with the sentiment William Buckley conveyed when he said that he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the Harvard University faculty. For me, make that also the lawyerly caste that gives us our top judges. The authors of this book implicitly disagree with that core sentiment of mine, though our view of the pandemic overreach is much the same. Wherever readers stand on both those issues, this is a book well worth reading.

*****

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

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Arizona News: April 10, 2024

By The Editors

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Is Learning Standard “White” English Oppressive for Black Students? thumbnail

Is Learning Standard “White” English Oppressive for Black Students?

By George Leef

Among the many destructive ideas loose in American education is that black students should not be expected to master standard English because doing so is demeaning and demoralizing for them. Standard English is part of the power structure of “whiteness” that must be overthrown before we can have an equitable society. Professors at esteemed universities are making that argument and it appears to be catching on. Faculty who want to prove their “anti-racist” dedication are changing their teaching and grading to avoid penalizing black students who, after all, already face terrible obstacles in a society that supposedly looks down on them.

The most prominent advocate of this position is University of Michigan professor April Baker-Bell. In her view, “traditional approaches to language education do not account for the emotional harm or consequences these approaches have on Black students’ sense of self and identity.”

Before we go any further, do all black students suffer emotional harm if their English is corrected? There are many black scholars who write in perfect English. I don’t think either Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams ever decried their anguish at having to adopt standard English in their academic work. Professor Baker-Bell herself appears to have overcome the “emotional harm” of writing in standard English. It’s hard to believe that any of those academics would have been better off if teachers and professors had said to them, “Your writing is fine; it’s authentic. No need for you to adjust to the needless, old-fashioned rules of standard English.”

Another advocate of allowing black students to keep “their” language is Professor Asao Inoue of the University of Washington at Tacoma. In his book Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing for a Socially Just Future, Inoue contends that writing instructors should evaluate students based on their “effort” in writing and not on whether they succeed in producing perfect or even acceptable standard English work. In his view, black students must be handled with kid gloves lest they think that “white” America is looking down on their preferred manner of communicating. Once we get over that, we can have a just future.

Are those ideas good? Will it help make for a socially just country if we allow blacks to write as they’re used to? There is some disagreement over this, and not just from white professors.

One dissenter is Professor Erec Smith, who teaches at York College. He has written a book entitled A Critique of Anti-Racism in Rhetoric and Composition and in it, he makes a devastating attack on the notion that it’s wise to give black students a pass when they write poorly.

First, Smith (who is black) doubts that black students are so caught up in their identity that it would be harmful for them to change the way they communicate. He observes that many blacks have mastered standard English without any apparent suffering. A particularly telling case is W.E. B. DuBois, who is known for his opposition to the racist attitudes of 19th and 20th century America.

Smith relates that when DuBois was a student at Harvard, he once received a low grade on an English paper. That bothered him, but he had the good sense to realize that the grade had nothing to do with his race and that if he wanted to make his criticism of society as effective as possible, he needed to make his writing the best it could be.  So he bore down in that course and signed up for other English courses that would sharpen his writing skills.

DuBois, in short, saw standard English as a tool he could use to help accomplish his objectives. Mastering it would empower him.

Conversely, the “anti-racist” writing notions abounding today disempower black students. Smith argues that the likes of Baker-Bell and Inoue allow blacks to retreat into self-pitying victimhood. Doing so solves no problems in America and actually gets in the way of constructive actions. Obsessing over “white privilege” doesn’t help black students succeed.

Another dissenter is Professor Jason D. Hill of DePaul University. In his article “The New Ebonics Movement and the Elimination of Whiteness,” Hill excoriates the “anti-racist” educators. He states that their ideas are “rooted in the de-colonialist and Anti-Western civilization agendas that seek to eradicate from school curricula any European universal foundations that underlie pedagogy, method and content.” That stance is politically expedient for them, but their hostility to teaching standard English will only damage the prospects for black students as they compete for jobs against others, including immigrants, who speak and write in better English.

The costs of this attack on language competency fall on black students, not on these “anti-racist” professors. Hill observes that they “are paid large sums to lecture white progressives on how they should alter their pedagogical styles to expurgate standard English requirements.” They desire to serve “as a managerial vanguard over Black victimization and suffering.”

Where would the “anti-racist” educators be if black students were able to improve their use of language so that they could obtain good jobs and no longer feel victimized by “white” society? They wouldn’t be nearly so famous and would have to do more of the onerous work of correcting student papers.  Not a good trade.

And if composition instructors don’t correct black students on their poor English, what is the point of having classes? As Professor Smith observes, with the “anti-racist” approach, “Nothing exists to master; nothing is there to be taught.” Black students will like the high grades they receive for their efforts, but the time and money spent will have been for naught.  W.E.B. DuBois would be disgusted.

I’d like to point out that getting language right isn’t the only aspect of life where learning to do things “the right way” matters. Consider music. If a black pianist wants to have a career in classical music (which is often attacked as oppressively “white,” but strangely enough, some black musicians still desire to succeed in it), he will have to master performance conventions developed in white Europe centuries ago.  Is that a painful affront to his identity? If he thinks so, he’ll have to set his sights on a different career, but if he loves the music, he’ll eagerly learn how to play Bach and Beethoven the right way, not as he might instinctively prefer. Many have done so.

The notion that black students are somehow harmed by insisting that they master standard English is one of those many ideas so ridiculous that only a university professor could ever believe it.

*****

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

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Murthy v. Missouri Is About Not Only Coercing Big Tech But Controlling Individuals thumbnail

Murthy v. Missouri Is About Not Only Coercing Big Tech But Controlling Individuals

By Stella Morabito

Ultimately, at stake is the right to communicate openly, which translates into your right to build community without state interference.

Censorship and loneliness always go together because political censorship is always designed to cut us off, to stop us from speaking openly to others. Let’s ponder that connection as we await the Supreme Court’s ruling in Murthy v. Missouri.

But first, let’s dispense with the formalities and the legalese. The Murthy case is supposedly about whether or not the government has a right to try to “persuade not coerce” third parties, including social media companies, to shut down content it claims is incorrect and/or potentially harmful.

This is not a narrow case that stops at allowing government actors to talk to third parties about content they deem “misinformation” affecting national security or public health. Murthy is ultimately about enabling an enormous censorship-industrial complex to control individuals’ conversations — and by extension, individuals’ relationships — at the behest of government actors.

Any SCOTUS ruling in favor of the government would blow the door wide open to undermining the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech for hundreds of millions of individual Americans.

Even if you don’t believe that, you should at least consider the connection between such political censorship and social isolation. We cannot think of free speech as an abstract value or an outdated convenience.

Ultimately, at stake is the right to communicate openly, which translates into your right to build families and your right to make friends without state interference.

Ultimately, any ruling for the government in Murthy would correspond to the proverbial camel’s snout spitting its orders into the tents of every American’s private life.

Yes, Your Private Life

Too few people understand that the primary purpose and the main effect of political censorship is intensely personal, a point I’ve explained here at The Federalist. In addition to cutting us off from other people and ideas, censorship instills fear of punishment for wrongthink. As more people fear speaking openly, we create a spiral of silence that isolates us further. This dilutes personal relationships along with the potential for building relationships and breeds a more alienated and dysfunctional society.

Free speech is how people get to know one another, building social trust and a healthy private sphere. It’s how we are able to solve problems through the cross-pollination of ideas. It’s the first line of defense against tyranny.

That’s really what’s at stake in this case. We should be alarmed by justices who seemed to be toying with our First Amendment rights during the oral arguments of the Murthy case last month.

Cringeworthy Moments During Oral Arguments

There were several unsettling moments during the oral arguments. From Justice Kantanji Brown Jackson complaining that the First Amendment could “hamstring” the government to several of the justices using brazen hypotheticals, there were numerous indications that the government might prevail in gutting free speech.

Plaintiff Aaron Kheriaty thoroughly discredited one of those hypotheticals in a recent Federalist article, explaining there is no comparison between government interactions with a traditional media outlet and its interactions with Big Tech companies. There are “asymmetrical power dynamics” in the latter case which “create a relationship ripe for unconstitutional government coercion.”

The oral arguments also invited me to reflect on President Ronald Reagan’s warning that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” It came to mind when I heard the lead attorney for the government inject this gem into the proceedings: “I think one of the flavors you get from the amicus briefs on our side of the case is there are a lot of valuable ways where the government has information or expertise that it can offer to private speakers, and it would be a shame to chill that.” One of the flavors I get from that statement is the taste of a proverbial mafia don giving “an offer you can’t refuse.”

Has government “expertise” always proved valuable? “Affordable” health care? Its claim that the weirdest election in American history was the freest and fairest? Fifteen days to flatten the curve? The safe and effective Covid injection? President Joe Biden’s statement that different opinions about the Covid mandates were “killing people”?

It’s bad enough that we have several Supreme Court justices working hard to undermine the Constitution that they ever-so-quaintly swore to protect. What’s worse is that during oral arguments, some of the justices presumed to be solid on constitutional principles could conceivably rule for the government’s right to regulate all internet content, possibly on a technicality such as whether or not one of the plaintiffs could prove future harm. As Joy Pullmann noted, Americans simply cannot afford a weak ruling in Murthy.

Why Should Anyone Trust the Government?

The First Amendment exists precisely because governments cannot and should not be trusted. The government is often called a Leviathan because it’s powerful and bloated and insatiable and alienating. Individuals are being silenced by an unholy partnership among government, corporations, and Big Tech. The First Amendment guarantees that individuals — who don’t have that kind of power — should at least be permitted their voices. Now more than ever!

Another great irony in this case is that the named defendant, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, recently produced an advisory that can serve as a blueprint for unprecedented government control over our social connections, supposedly to “solve” our loneliness epidemic in the name of public health.

Read it. It proposes that the government track and monitor our personal relationships through the health sector and Big Tech. It proposes building a new “social infrastructure” placed “everywhere people gather” — in your local volunteer organization, your schools, your libraries, transportation hubs, sports leagues, you name it. So if the Murthy v. Missouri ruling goes in Murthy’s favor, it will pave the way for more censorship and surveillance. Ironically, that would only worsen our epidemic of loneliness and social isolation.

*****

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

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Nothing in the Jobs Report Indicates the Fed Should Cut Rates: Labor Market Plugging Along Just Fine despite 5.5% Rates thumbnail

Nothing in the Jobs Report Indicates the Fed Should Cut Rates: Labor Market Plugging Along Just Fine despite 5.5% Rates

By Wolf Richter

And wages rose at a good clip too.

It was the kind of jobs report we’d expect from an economy that is plugging along just fine, at growth rates that are above the long-run average, powered by drunken sailors all around: By consumers outspending inflation with gusto, especially on services, by the government spending trillions it borrows hand-over-fist, and by businesses that are raking in big-fat inflation-fueled profits.

In March, 303,000 payroll jobs were created – excluding farm workers and the self-employed – by nonfarm employers, which was somehow a lot “better than expected,” after 270,000 jobs had been added in February, and 256,000 in January, according to the “Establishment” survey data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today.

January’s data was revised up by 27,000 jobs, February’s was revised down by 5,000, for a net up-revision of 22,000 jobs. This brought the three-month average increases, which iron out the month-to-month squiggles, to 276,000 jobs, a rate of over 3 million jobs a year, which is a lot:

Folks can quibble with some of the details, but overall, it was fine – it has been fine every month for well over a year, exactly what you’d expect from an economy that’s plugging right along at a pace that is faster than we’ve come accustomed to over the past 15 years.

There is nothing in this jobs report – and we’ll get into the details in a moment – that indicates that the Fed should cut rates. The job market remains tight, wages are increasing at a good clip, and employment is growing at such a pace that inflation pressures emanate from it.

For the past 12 months, despite the interest rates that the Fed jacked up to 5.25%, nearly 3 million nonfarm payroll jobs have been added. Over the past three months, the pace accelerated to 3.3 million jobs a year annualized.  The total number of payroll jobs rose to a record 158.1 million:

Average hourly earnings rose in March at an annualized rate of 4.3%, also according to the survey of employers, to $34.69. Over the past three months – which irons out the month-to-month squiggles – average hourly earnings rose by 4.1% annualized:

Household data of the jobs report messed up by underestimated immigration.

The remaining parts of the jobs report are based on the BLS survey of households. The BLS applies the survey data to the overall population count in the US to come up with its figures of employment, unemployment, the labor force, labor force participation, unemployment rates, etc. The BLS uses the population data from the Census Bureau. But the Census Bureau’s formula has massively underestimated the recent historic surge in immigration……

*****

Continue reading this article at Wolf Street.

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

The Relevance Of Gold Price History thumbnail

The Relevance Of Gold Price History

By Neland Nobel

Having spent 45 years in financial services, we recognize how difficult it is to estimate what markets will do. Yet, the human brain wants to have “some idea” of the potential of a given investment over time.  After all, don’t we all want to own something that will be going up with significant potential and avoid something that could go a lot lower with significant risk?

Of course, we do, and that is what drives investment decisions, flawed though they may be. Compounding the problem, these decisions are typically made when money is available, which may or may not make the timing fortuitous.  Because of this difficulty, many  give up on the project altogether and simply “buy and hold for the long term.”  Others decide with the best available information, knowing full well there still is a large element of chance in their decisions.

But what if you have money to place and you don’t have a long-term? One of the ironies of life is when you should be investing (in your twenties) you don’t have any money to speak of and when you do when you are 80, you don’t have the “long-term” left to experience the move.

After our last piece on gold (What If A Market Roared And Nobody Heard It), we caught the break out in gold and at present it seems to be rolling along rather nicely.  The price move aside, we still wonder what it may mean for all markets.

The move so far has been fairly large and has surprised Wall Street.  Gold is not supposed to be going up when stocks do, and when the US dollar is strong.  Further, gold is not supposed to be going up with interest rates relatively high to inflation.  Yet, that is what is happening.

This strongly suggests our thesis that buying is mostly coming out of Asia and that the reasons people are buying is the doom loop in US Federal government finances and the financial crisis in China.  US investors still remain mostly on the sidelines.

Not surprisingly, old industry associates and some clients have asked what to make of these developments in gold.

So, at the risk of looking very foolish, here are some thoughts.

First, we must all agree that the tools we have to use are very crude.  All we have is history, and then we must relate present conditions to those of the past.  This is tricky because no two events are the same but as Mark Twain put it, history often rhymes if it does not repeat.

We do have charts, which are graphic presentations of history, and there are some “rules” in charting that may have some significance.  But sadly, there are always exceptions to these rules and thus they should only be regarded with suspicion.  Charting requires interpretation and thus is not objective science like physics. It is more art than science.

So, with these caveats and limitations, let’s take a look at some gold price history and behavior.

The price of gold for most of history was amazingly stable.  Sir Isaac Newton was the master of the British Mint and set the price in 1717.  Gold was the measuring stick for everything else.  It was not supposed to change in price but rather other prices were to orbit around it.

Remarkably, gold remained close to an average US dollar price of around $18.93 for 200 years, with some temporary variations during the Napoleonic Wars and the US Civil War.

The world changed a lot in those 200 years, in fact, compared to previous eras, arguably it changed the most in human history.

This was the era of the classic gold standard featuring price stability and limited government. However, it was upended by World War I, and sadly, so was Great Britain.

Many markets were closed or distorted for the duration of the war but by 1920, attempts were made to regain stability.  Britain attempted to return to the pre-war gold standard with US dollar prices around $20-21.  It was a disaster.

Then came the Great World Depression in the 1930s and Roosevelt revalued gold to $35 per ounce.  There the gold price sat until the inflation caused by the Great Society and the Viet Nam War overspending broke apart the Bretton-Woods Treaty in 1971.

Gold entered a two-tiered market with official transactions still at $35 but free market transactions at $42.

Then, political momentum was built to legalize gold in the US, which set gold loose from price controls and prices soared from $42 to $200 per ounce in 1974, just before legalization.

So, the first real move in gold in a free market was about a fivefold advance off the cycle low.

It then declined to $100 in the summer of 1976, but then ended the decade around $850 per ounce.  So the second bull market in gold showed an 8 to 1 move off the cycle low.

Gold then wandered in the wilderness for almost 20 years and made multiple bottoms around $250 per ounce on the eve of both the Tech Bubble and The War on Terror in 1999-2000.  Thereupon it launched another approximate 8 to 1 move with the gold price peaking at approximately $1900 late in 2011.  The chart shown is a weekly chart and may not correspond to other charts.  We spent more than a decade attempting to break soundly above $2000 and now we have done it.

So, if the last cyclical low was just above $1000 per ounce, what is the upside for this move?  Well, the last three moves ranged from around 5:1 to 8:1, with the latter two moves the largest.   In simple terms, that could mean $5000 to $8000 per ounce as possible upside potential.

Good heavens. It feels strange even contemplating such an outcome.

The first cycle with gold, from $42 to $200, was likely when gold adjusted to years of being fixed in price while everything else in society was inflated.  It was like a compressed spring that needed to be released. But after that, the larger moves came as gold prices adjusted to the circumstances of the period.  In short, they were more like conditions today.

One of the largest moves is the most recent, from a low of around $250 made between 1999 and 2001,  to almost $1900 by 2011.

You will note that both moves in the 1970s were related to war and so was the move after 1999-2001 and the long War on Terror, which included two Iraq Wars and Afghanistan.

Certainly, war today is not out of the question.  Recently, the President of Poland said Europe should prepare for war and there is news Ukraine may join NATO.  Russia has made it clear for years that it would not tolerate that on its borders.

You could argue we are already at war, just through proxies.

And, we need not ignore the Middle Eastern War as Israel recently killed seven key Iranian military leaders in a surgical strike in Syria.  Will Iran not retaliate?  Why is the current Administration so hostile to Israel and cooperative with Iran?  Why the flirtation with Iran given their role in killing our boys in Iraq and aiding the Houthis as well?

So we have at least two wars brewing and both have a significant chance of expanding.

Biden has also drained the Strategic Oil Reserve down to just 17 days and recently broke his promise to refill it because of rising oil prices.

We are already in a conflict with both Russia and Iran and a cold war with China.   Oil prices are rising once again and for the first time in several years, commodity prices in general are stirring. Do you think rising commodity prices might put more pressure on inflation, perhaps delaying the FED’s expected rate cuts?

Above we show the Commodity Research Bureau’s index of all tracked commodity prices.  The same pattern can be seen in the Bloomberg Index.  It appears the linear bear trendline is being broken and prices have also broken through the 200-day moving average, and the average itself is turning upward.  It would appear that commodity prices in general are firming.  Further, they are about as cheap as we have ever seen against the major stock indices.

In terms of spending, present spending dwarfs the previous era of deficits, both in nominal and real terms.  Biden spending, adjusted for constant dollars, is larger than the spending for World War I, and World War II, and 30 years of deficit spending COMBINED.

Our entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare are also closer to insolvency than in previous periods.

Thus, from a government finance point of view, you could make a rational case that conditions are worse than in previous cycles.

What about the quality of our political leadership, the unity of our politics, the strength of our social structure, family stability, crime, and confidence levels in our government?

In terms of military prowess, do you think we are stronger than in 2000 on the eve of the War on Terror?  Or, are we weaker?  Then the US was considered the sole superpower.  Now the Chinese are much stronger than the Soviets.  True, the Soviets had a strong nuclear arsenal, but their economy was terrible.  This is not true of the Chinese today. They are strong on both counts and they also have penetrated our society much more successfully than the Soviets.

Major figures in both parties are beholding to the Chinese.  See the recent review we did of the book, Blood Money.

Our opinions mean little. But we ask our readers: in your view, do you think things are better or worse than conditions at the turn of the last century or back in the 1970s?  Do you think America is stronger or weaker?  Do you think current lawfare against Trump, the Russia collusion hoax, and two impeachments are worse than Watergate?

For those old enough to remember, and this author is among them, conditions do appear worse on many fronts.  In particular, the moral and political fiber of the nation is much weaker.

If conditions are about the same or are worse than previous cycles, then why would gold not do as well off its recent cycle as in the past?

Truth be told, we have no idea what gold will do in the short term.  It seems a little overbought just right now.  But over the longer term, the things that drive it higher are: war, insolvency, deficits, money printing, commodity prices, and military and political weakness. Regrettably, it appears that conditions are indeed as bad, and perhaps worse, than the history around previous price cycles.

That certainly suggests gold prices will be going higher and history is our only guide.

If you are looking to add gold bullion to your portfolio, or if you disagree and think prices are peaking,  please remember to patronize our sponsor, American Precious Metals. See their ad in each issue for phone numbers and addresses.

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

The Entire Push To Halt New Natural Gas Exports Traces Back To One Ivy League Prof And His Shaky Study thumbnail

The Entire Push To Halt New Natural Gas Exports Traces Back To One Ivy League Prof And His Shaky Study

By Nick Pope

A questionable study by a Cornell University climate scientist gave climate activists and the media ammunition to wage a pressure campaign against the Biden administration to take action against liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

Cornell’s Robert Howarth authored the October 2023 study, which purported to find that lifecycle emissions associated with LNG exports are far greater than those attributable to domestically-mined coal. Numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, amplified the study, and climate activists lobbying the Biden administration to kill LNG exports cited it as evidence to substantiate their position before the White House announced the moratorium on LNG export terminal approvals on Jan. 26.

The study, titled “The Greenhouse Gas Footprint of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Exported from the United States,” found that “greenhouse gas emissions from LNG are also larger than those from domestically produced coal, ranging from 44% to more than 2-fold greater for the average cruise distance of an LNG tanker.” Howarth, who openly opposes the use of fossil fuels, admitted to releasing his study before it was peer-reviewed in order to influence the LNG export debate.

“According to the ethical guidelines from several of the professional societies to which I belong, scientists have a duty to provide information to the public and to decision-makers on important public issues when they have access to such information,” Howarth told the DCNF.

Howarth said environmental activist Bill McKibben was the one who convinced him to release the study before it underwent the months-long peer review process. McKibben himself wrote about the study in The New Yorker in October 2023, touting it as evidence that the Biden administration should not expand LNG export capacity.

After McKibben published his piece for The New Yorker and Howarth released the study to the public, the duo joined a November 2023 press call alongside several climate activists and Democratic lawmakers — including Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley — to talk about the issue of LNG exports, according to E&E News.

“From what I am told by reporters and what I read in the press, yes, my paper has had some impact,” Howarth said.

Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reported Howarth’s work influenced the Biden administration’s decision to pause approvals for new LNG export hubs.

Howarth’s study “clearly was a factor in the Biden administration’s decision to pause making the required determinations required for approval of new LNG export projects and launching a U.S. Department of Energy study of the climate impact of LNG exports,” Steven Hamburg, the Environmental Defense Fund’s chief scientist, told Bloomberg News.

The White House invariably felt pressure from left-wing lawmakers and environmental activists who regularly cited the study in their push to choke off U.S. natural gas exports.

Merkley cited the Howarth study as “the latest climate science” in a November 2023 letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Sixty-four other lawmakers signed that letter, which called on Granholm to update her agency’s review process for LNG export facilities to include climate impacts.

Likewise, the Sierra Club promoted a story that cited the study and referred to one of the affected LNG export hubs as a “carbon bomb.” A disruptive outfit called Climate Defiance promoted the study on social media before meeting in December 2023 with Senior Advisor to the President John Podesta to lobby against the planned expansion of LNG export capacity. (RELATED: Biden Admin Leaned On Questionable And Misleading Science To Justify Halting Natural Gas Hub Approvals)

Scores of environmental groups cited Howarth’s study in a letter sent to President Joe Biden applauding his Jan. 26 decision to pause new LNG export terminals. In their letter, eco-activists also demanded Biden “[stop] all LNG and related fossil fuel infrastructure permits across all U.S. federal agencies.”

Widely Panned And Largely Dismissed’

Howarth‘s findings contradict plenty of existing research on the subject, including two Department of Energy (DOE) studies from 2014 and 2019, which concluded that American LNG exports to Asia and Europe do not create more lifecycle emissions than regionally-mined coal when used to generate power. The Cornell professor’s study has drawn the ire of the oil and gas industry, which has pointed out that Howarth‘s most recent findings are detached from a robust body of research on the subject.

“Dr. Robert Howarth openly admitted he prematurely released his not-yet-peer-reviewed study in order to influence politics and advance activist agendas against responsible oil and gas development,” Jeff Eshelman, the president and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, told the DCNF. “His research – which has been widely panned and largely dismissed by the scientific community – ignores the environmental benefits of U.S. natural gas and LNG, including data by the Department of Energy.”

Howarth — described by Politico as a “longtime sparring partner with the gas industry” — has come under fire for peddling shaky science about natural gas in the past. Back in 2012, he told a columnist for the New York Post that he was trying to make the anti-fracking movement more mainstream and trendy.

Howarth himself is closely tied to environmental activism. He is a board member for Food and Water Watch (FWW), a green nonprofit that has campaigned against natural gas development and exploration in New York state, though he denies this unpaid position influences his work.

His new paper was funded in part by the Park Foundation, a left-wing nonprofit with a stated goal of “[challenging] continued shale gas extraction and infrastructure expansion” and a strong presence in New York state, where Howarth’s university is located. Howarth told the DCNF the Park Foundation’s “modest” financial support of the study did not constitute a conflict of interest, and that the organization has no influence over his work.

The Park Foundation’s environment committee “recognizes that a firm stance against further oil and gas development is a necessary component to future funding decisions” and is resolved to support initiatives that “commit to the ‘keep it in the ground’ philosophy” or otherwise resist oil and gas drilling and infrastructure expansion, according to the organization’s website.

The Park Foundation gave Cornell University more than $530,000 to support natural gas-related academic work between 2010 and 2021, according to a DCNF review of tax filings.

Howarth’s study cites seven of his own previous papers, of which at least five were funded in part by the Park Foundation, a DCNF review of those studies found.

Howarth routinely slams Republicans on social media, castigating the “party of disinformation and misinformation” as a “cult” whose members “simply do not care about truth.” He’s also vocal in his opposition to the continued use of fossil fuels.

“I definitely consider myself to be an objective scientist,” Howarth said. “I also am a citizen, and as such have an ethical obligation to participate in our society. So no, I am not apolitical. But I am confident that my political views do not affect my scientific research.”

‘Not A Guarantee Of Quality Or Accuracy’

Howarth arrived at his topline finding by calculating the emissions caused by natural gas exports at every stage — from initial extraction to processing to final destination and end use — and comparing those emissions to the amount generated by every step of domestic coal extraction and use.

But Howarth has revised his study several times since releasing his study to the public. The initial version asserted that the lifecycle emissions of LNG exports are greater than those of domestically-produced coal, with the difference ranging between 24% and 274%. The study was updated on Jan. 13 to reflect that “total greenhouse gas emissions from LNG are larger than those from domestically produced coal, ranging from 27% to 2‐fold greater for the average cruise distance of an LNG tanker.”

Howarth announced on March 13 that he had again revised his study “using this new estimate, 4.6% emissions (not including urban/surburban (sic) distribution systems) for the best studied major U.S. shale gas fields.”

After the March update, the study now asserts that LNG exports can have lifecycle emissions that are greater than those of domestic coal by between 44% and 200% or more.

These updates have come under considerable criticism from the oil and gas industry and scholars.

William Jordan — general counsel for EQT, a natural gas company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — suggested to the WSJ that Howarth cherry-picked data and leaned on flawed assumptions to pursue influence rather than understanding.

“I received two anonymous reviews from the journal just before Christmas, as well as input from people who had read the original version online. I revised the manuscript based on these comments, and submitted it back to the journal on January 13,” Howarth told the DCNF in defense of his updates.

“The version posted online now is the latest version,” Howarth told the DCNF. “It is very much standard to revise in response to peer review comments. That is precisely what peer review is about!” (RELATED: Could Joe Biden’s Natural Gas Pause Cost Dems The Senate In November?)

Roger Pielke Jr., a former academic who has written extensively about politicized science, told the DCNF that while such practices are common, they’re less than ideal.

“The posting of pre-prints is now standard practice in many fields, and they are exactly that — pre-prints,” Pielke said. “That said, passive peer-review is not a guarantee of quality or accuracy, but in many cases a minimal check for quality. No one paper offers the last word, and these days, studies are often conducted with an outcome in mind.”

“That imposes a challenge on all of us, journalists especially, to be careful and critical consumers of the latest and greatest science,” Pielke said. “Too often published research is used to support favored and previously-held positions rather than considered on its merits.”

Howarth’s study also heavily relies on a 20-year timeframe to assess the impacts of emissions from LNG exports. Typically, researchers adopt a 100-year outlook, a number which Howarth describes as “arbitrary” in his work.

“Using [the twenty-year timeframe], LNG always has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than coal,” Howarth writes in the study.

“What we see here is the standard climate activist and Biden administration formula at play,” David Blackmon, a 40-year veteran of the oil and gas industry who now writes and consults on the energy sector, told the DCNF. “First, you allege a problem exists without any scientific basis. Then, you identify a ‘study’ with findings you like that can be used to form a basis for policy advocacy, which you pass onto your former fellow activists who are now in the administration, and let them run with it.”

*****

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

Image Credit: YouTube screenshot

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

The Results of California’s New $20 Fast Food Minimum Wage Are Already In thumbnail

The Results of California’s New $20 Fast Food Minimum Wage Are Already In

By Jon Miltimore

Thousands of jobs have already been eliminated by California’s law to raise the minimum wage to $20 for restaurant workers, which goes into effect April 1.

For eight years, Michael Ojeda delivered food for a Pizza Hut in Ontario, California, using the income he received to support his family.

In December, the 29-year-old received a letter from the pizza franchise informing him that his employment was being terminated in February. The news shook him.

“Pizza Hut was my career for nearly a decade and with little to no notice it was taken away,” Ojeda said, whose story was recently highlighted by the Wall Street Journal.

Ojeda appears to be just one of the thousands of casualties of a new California law that will raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $20 an hour on April 1 for all restaurant chains that have at least 60 locations nationally.

Making $20 instead of $15 sounds like a win, but economics shows there’s no such thing as a free lunch. California lawmakers just proved it.

When the minimum wage goes up, the money to pay workers must come from somewhere, and it typically comes from three places: higher consumer prices, reduced labor costs in other areas (fewer workers, fewer hours, reduced benefits, etc.), and lower profits and capital expenditures.

Many minimum wage proponents want to focus just on that last item (profits) and ignore the other adverse consequences of the policy. But events unfolding in California show this is a mistake.

Restaurant franchises such as Chipotle, Jack in the Box, and McDonald’s have already announced they’ll be jacking up prices to cover increased labor costs, which are expected to increase by roughly $250,000 per location for many of these restaurants (though the economics here is nuanced).

But raising menu prices isn’t the only way California restaurants are responding. Records submitted to the state show Pizza Hut and Round Table Pizza plan to sack nearly 1,300 delivery drivers. Other chains are taking similar actions, and many restaurants have stopped hiring new workers.

This is not unexpected. Critics of the law predicted it would result in less employment, and that’s exactly what has happened.

“California had 726,600 people working in fast-food and other limited-service eateries in January,” the Wall Street Journal reports, “down 1.3% from last September, when the state backed a deal for the increased wages.”

This is not the only way restaurants will reduce labor costs, of course. Benefit cuts, fewer hours, and a shift toward automation are also on the table. But the layoffs at California restaurants are what is currently generating the most attention, and for good reason.

Work isn’t just a paycheck. For many, it’s something that brings meaning, an idea the author David Sturt explored in his bestselling book Great Work, which showed that even so-called “unglamorous jobs” often provide purpose and a sense of responsibility to those who work them.

This is one reason researchers say losing a job can be psychologically crushing. It destroys that sense of purpose while simultaneously taking away from people the single biggest antidote to poverty: a job.

This is not mere rhetoric. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that just 4% of people who spend at least 27 or more weeks per year in the labor force fall below the poverty line (compared to 12.4% overall). Census data show that the rate falls to 2.4% for those who work full-time year-round.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that a job is the single most important path out of poverty.

This is why so many economists lament minimum wage laws. They reduce employment by raising the cost of labor above the value the worker is able to bring to the employer. This is why minimum wage laws tend to fall hardest on the most vulnerable workers in society, consigning to the unemployment line those with the fewest skills and who can offer the least value to employers.

“There is only one way to regard a minimum wage law: it is compulsory unemployment, period,” the economist Murray Rothbard stated.

If you doubt this, consider Ojeda, who, after eight years as a driver for Pizza Hut, was unceremoniously axed. The wages and tips he received as a driver are gone, and he recently filed for unemployment.

How Ojeda will continue to provide for his mother and partner is unclear. But how he arrived here is: California lawmakers outlawed his job by presuming to know what a “just” wage is for restaurant workers.

Now, the California legislature is reportedly scrambling to carve out additional exemptions for restaurants.

For Ojeda and the thousands of other fast-food workers put out of work by California’s law, it’s already too late. These job losses reveal the truth of economist Thomas Sowell’s famous adage: The real minimum wage is $0.

*****

This article was published by FEE, Foundation for Economic Education, and is reproduced with permission.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Honey Am I Male? thumbnail

Honey Am I Male?

By Craig J. Cantoni

In advance of an upcoming elective surgery, I have been on the phone with personnel from a local Tucson hospital to provide my medical history, insurance coverage, and other required information. The hospital does a great job and its employees are personable, professional, and thorough.

A charming woman asked me on one of the calls what my gender identity is.

Before answering the question, I said, “I know you’re required to ask the question, but I bet you get a lot of grief over it.”

She responded with a sigh, “For sure.”

The question is silly on more than one level, but particularly so in light of the fact that the surgical procedure in question can only be done on men who are biologically male, have all of their natural appendages, and want to keep all of them.

Anyway, I answered the question by saying, “I am a male.” Then I added, “But let me get a second opinion from my wife, who is standing here.”

“Honey, am I a male?”

She answered, “You’re not only a male but also an Italian stallion.”

Okay, that’s not what she said, but I’m not going to lose more of my male pride by repeating what she actually said.

After chuckling, the hospital employee said, “I’m required to ask a related question: What are your preferred pronouns?”

All kinds of smartass answers came to mind, but not wanting to exceed the patience of the employee, I replied, “he, him, his.”

Reflecting on the conversation, I am struck by how the idea of tolerance—of living and let live—has morphed into a national fetish for fairness and a mass pathological fear of possibly being seen as insensitive, intolerant, and unenlightened.

Small but vocal groups, claiming to be victims of horrendous injustices, have people and institutions jumping through hoops, engaging in inane communications, and wasting time and money in keeping records of the inanities so as not to be sued or canceled.

And it’s happening with regard to many more issues than just gender identity.

In going along with the silliness and being powerless to do anything about it, I feel like a gelding instead of a stallion.

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Am I Male? thumbnail

Am I Male?

By Craig J. Cantoni

In advance of an upcoming elective surgery, I have been on the phone with personnel from a local Tucson hospital to provide my medical history, insurance coverage, and other required information. The hospital does a great job and its employees are personable, professional, and thorough.

A charming woman asked me on one of the calls what my gender identity is.

Before answering the question, I said, “I know you’re required to ask the question, but I bet you get a lot of grief over it.”

She responded with a sigh, “For sure.”

The question is silly on more than one level, but particularly so in light of the fact that the surgical procedure in question can only be done on men who are biologically male, have all of their natural appendages, and want to keep all of them.

Anyway, I answered the question by saying, “I am a male.” Then I added, “But let me get a second opinion from my wife, who is standing here.”

“Honey, am I a male?”

She answered, “You’re not only a male but also an Italian stallion.”

Okay, that’s not what she said, but I’m not going to lose more of my male pride by repeating what she actually said.

After chuckling, the hospital employee said, “I’m required to ask a related question: What are your preferred pronouns?”

All kinds of smartass answers came to mind, but not wanting to exceed the patience of the employee, I replied, “he, him, his.”

Reflecting on the conversation, I am struck by how the idea of tolerance—of living and let live—has morphed into a national fetish for fairness and a mass pathological fear of possibly being seen as insensitive, intolerant, and unenlightened.

Small but vocal groups, claiming to be victims of horrendous injustices, have people and institutions jumping through hoops, engaging in inane communications, and wasting time and money in keeping records of the inanities so as not to be sued or canceled.

And it’s happening with regard to many more issues than just gender identity.

In going along with the silliness and being powerless to do anything about it, I feel like a gelding instead of a stallion.

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Arizona Narrowly Avoids Mass Migrant Street Releases With Federal Funding thumbnail

Arizona Narrowly Avoids Mass Migrant Street Releases With Federal Funding

By Adam Andrzejewski

Some Arizona leaders are breathing a sigh of relief as the federal government passed funding that will presumably go toward transporting migrants out of border communities or caring for them while there.

There was widespread concern about daily mass migrant street releases starting in April, as federal funding for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Shelter and Services Program was set to expire on April 1, The Center Square previously reported. 

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly said on Saturday that $650 million in the recent spending bill signed by President Joe Biden will go toward the program.

“As Washington partisans fail to secure the border, Arizona border communities pay the price for their inaction – shouldering the burden of a crisis they did not create. I’m proud to secure critical resources to support our border communities, reducing the number of migrant street releases and keeping Arizona families safe,” Sinema said in a statement.

The notion that it would prevent street releases was confirmed by Pima County administrator Jan Lesher on Tuesday.

“Based on this federal action, discussions with staff at the Department of Homeland Security, CBP, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), it is our expectation that in the coming weeks we will receive formal notice of additional federal funds that will be directed to Pima County in support of our operation,” Lesher wrote in a memorandum to the county board of supervisors.

The senators, as well as Gov. Katie Hobbs, originally backed $752 million in funding for the program as details were still being worked out. Despite the lower than requested figure, Hobbs praised the incoming funding.

“I am relieved Pima County will receive federal funding to maintain a safe, secure, and humane border. Since the beginning, I’ve committed to prioritizing practical solutions over petty politics in addressing the border, and now, that commitment is delivering results,” she tweeted on Wednesday morning.

The border continues to be a major issue for Arizona communities. The Tucson Sector continues to face a hefty amount of migrant and cartel activity daily, leading ranchers and law enforcement at the border to ask for additional assistance.

The state’s border has surpassed Texas in recent months for migrant encounters, according to CBP data

*****

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

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

The Cut Flowers Civilization thumbnail

The Cut Flowers Civilization

By Ben Shapiro

This week, famed British atheist Richard Dawkins explained that he was a “cultural Christian.”

Praising civilization in the United Kingdom, Dawkins stated:

I do think that we are culturally a Christian country. I call myself a cultural Christian. I’m not a believer. But there is a distinction between being a believing Christian and being a cultural Christian. And so, you know, I love hymns and Christmas carols, and I sort of feel at home in the Christian ethos. I feel that we are a Christian country in that sense.

Dawkins went on to praise Christianity as a “fundamentally decent religion in a way that I think Islam is not.”

Dawkins’ case for Christianity—a case made on the basis of utility—is nothing new. It was made long ago by Voltaire, an acidic critic of the church who famously averred, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”

But the problem with the utilitarian case for religious belief is that it doesn’t animate religious believers. It is simply impossible to build a civilization on the basis of Judeo-Christian foundations while making the active case as to why those foundations ought to be dissolved.

In fact, Western civilization has doomed itself so long as it fails to reconnect to its religious roots. Philosopher Will Herberg wrote:

The moral principles of Western civilization are, in fact, all derived from the tradition rooted in Scripture and have vital meaning only in the context of that tradition. … Cut flowers retain their original beauty and fragrance, but only so long as they retain the vitality that they have drawn from their now severed roots; after that is exhausted, they wither and die. So with freedom, brotherhood, justice and personal dignity—the values that form the moral foundation of our civilization. Without the life-giving power of the faith out of which they have sprung, they possess neither meaning nor vitality.

We are a cut flowers civilization.

And eventually, cut flowers die.

That has never been more obvious than this week, when the Biden administration decided to honor the newly invented Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter Sunday. Gender ideology is a symptom of our society’s reversion to gnostic paganism, in which unseen, chaotic forces buffet us about, and in which nature is directly opposed to the freedom of our disembodied essences.

It is no wonder that gender ideology is opposed by every mainstream traditional religion.

Yet claiming that this magical holiday could not be moved, the White House issued a variety of statements in celebration of radical gender ideology, including a deeply insulting statement from the president of the United States citing the book of Genesis to the effect that transgender people are “made in the image of God”—ignoring the last half of the biblical verse, which reads, “male and female he made them.”

What better time than Easter, the holiest day in the Christian calendar, to pay homage to an entirely new religion?

Richard Dawkins is obviously correct that a civilization rooted in church is better than a civilization rooted in an alternative set of values. But in reality, the churches cannot be empty; they must be full. The cathedrals that mean Britain to Dawkins must ring with the sounds of hymns in order to maintain their holiness and their importance; otherwise, they are merely beautiful examples of old architecture, remnants of a dead civilization preserved in stone.

But our civilization must live. And that means more than cultural Christianity. It means re-engaging with the source of our values—the Scriptures that educated our fathers and grandfathers.

*****

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

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Written Testimony About “Dark Money” in Environmental Debates thumbnail

Written Testimony About “Dark Money” in Environmental Debates

By Scott Walter

Written Testimony

Before the Senate Budget Committee
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Chairman

Hearing on “Recreation at Risk: The Nature of Climate Costs”

Scott Walter
President, Capital Research Center

March 20, 2024


Chairman Whitehouse, Ranking Member Grassley, distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for the honor of testifying. I’m especially honored to be testifying for the fourth time before Chairman Whitehouse.

Like the rest of the panel & most Committee members, I have no expertise in climate science. But I do have expertise in political operations from groups that try to influence public policy while enjoying complicated funding streams enriched by billionaires. The phenomenon often appears in environmental debates, including with pressure groups that claim to represent outdoor recreation interests but often engage in merely partisan political battles.

Take the outdoor apparel manufacturer Patagonia, whose wealthy owners donated billions in company stock to a series of 501(c)(4)—aka “dark money”—groups. Initial reports said the money would go only to save the planet.[1] But even the New York Times, fooled at first, investigated and found monies going to political machinations. As the Times headline explains, “Patagonia’s Profits Are Funding Conservation—and Politics.” All company profits are distributed “through an entity known as the Holdfast Collective,” which “created and manages five nonprofit groups—Holdfast Trust, Chalten Trust, Sojourner Trust, Wilder Trust and Tail Wind Trust,” all registered as 501(c)(4) groups. “That allows them to make unlimited political donations.” They “hold 98 percent of Patagonia’s nonvoting shares … valued at $1.7 billion.”

From these riches came “a slew of political contributions last cycle, including $100,000 each to Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC, which work to elect Democrats to Congress, as well as smaller gifts to groups such as the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Georgia Investor Action Fund,” the Times reports.[2] And one of the “dark money” nonprofits, Sojourner Trust, reports on its IRS Form 990 that its advocacy will include political issues like “reparations,” “judicial, police, and prison reform,” and much more.[3]

This Patagonia network of “dark money” nonprofits is so political that it already has an FEC complaint filed against it by the watchdog group Americans for Public Trust, because it appears to have falsified the actual sources of its contributions to the Senate Majority PAC and other Democrat-aligned groups.[4]

Challenged by the New York Times as to why this Patagonia network is so clearly partisan in its politics, a spokesman claimed, “We would be really interested in supporting any climate leader—Republican, Democrat or independent. It just so happens that a lot of those folks are Democrats.” But even the Times easily debunked that claim, observing,

there is no guarantee Holdfast’s funds [from Patagonia] will be spent backing candidates who are aligned with its stances on climate change. A nonprofit affiliate of Senate Majority PAC last year spent more than $1.5 million on ads praising Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat who has repeatedly sunk climate legislation. One ad praised him for working with former President Donald J. Trump to protect coal miners.[5]

Next consider an environmentalist group that’s received Patagonia funding, Protect Our Winters, or POW.[6] Protect Our Winters claims it’s just “help[ing] passionate outdoor people protect the places and experiences they love.”[7] But POW also cares about partisan politics, such as helping elect Democrats to Congress and shilling for the partisan Inflation Reduction Act.[8]

POW has a (c)(4) “dark money” arm that gives 100%, cycle after cycle, to elect Democrats.[9] POW’s (c)(3) arm receives support from ordinary outdoor enthusiasts but also from notorious political actors. Those include a nonprofit run by Arabella Advisors, which operates the biggest “dark money” network on earth,[10] run through nonprofits that take in billions every election cycle. Arabella’s Hopewell Fund provided POW $500,000 in 2022.[11] I should also note that Arabella has received hundreds of millions of dollars across two decades from the billionaire foreign national Hansjörg Wyss. In addition to his indirect donations through the Arabella network, which the FEC’s general counsel has criticized for political abuses,[12] Wyss has admitted to illegal direct political contributions to groups such as Friends of Dick Durbin (the statute of limitations has expired for Wyss’s direct political contributions, but they remain in the FEC database).[13]

POW has also received $225,000 over 2020-2022 from the notoriously left-wing Tides Foundation, a donor-advised fund provider,[14] and $175,000 over the same period from the David Rockefeller Fund,[15] which also donates to the Tides and Arabella networks.[16] And just as it is odd that Chairman Whitehouse has never, to my knowledge, mentioned Arabella Advisors’ network in all his hundreds of talks on “dark money,” so it’s odd that he has over the years praised Protect Our Winters,[17] even though it receives much of its support via donor-advised fund providers like the Tides Foundation, Amalgamated Charitable Foundation ($150,000), Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund ($730,073), American Online Giving Foundation ($224,374), National Philanthropic Trust ($176,650), American Endowment Foundation ($77,550), Aspen Community Foundation ($41,000), Silicon Valley Community Foundation ($25,500), and a number of other groups.[18] When donor-advised fund providers support causes Chairman Whitehouse disagrees with, he describes them this way: “donor-advised funds … allow ultrawealthy interests to direct funding anonymously to their pet projects. They are essentially identity laundering operations.”[19]

In addition to its own political advocacy, POW helps corral into political campaigns trade associations that should know better, including the National Ski Areas Association. The Association’s ties to POW appear in its “Climate Challenge” reports, which require “all Climate Challengers” to do such things as endorse letters from groups like POW, Citizens Climate Lobby, and We Are Still In.[20]

We Are Still In is an environmentalist pressure group underwritten by left-wing billionaire Michael Bloomberg,[21] while Citizens Climate Lobby has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Enron billionaire John Arnold, as well as funding from Arabella.[22]

Another oddity is the way groups like POW are so loyal to their environmentalist allies that they never mention some obvious, powerful threats to outdoor recreation posed by those allies. For example, it is obvious that in the foreseeable future, outdoor recreation cannot flourish without the availability of inexpensive transportation for ordinary Americans. And that transportation will require fossil fuels for cars, trucks, and planes, and support for the roads and parking needed for those cars and trucks.

This fact appears in statements from outdoor trade groups and the Biden Administration. The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s president says, “We have the best public lands, waters and outdoor businesses in the world right here in the United States, but if Americans can’t access them with sound roads … then we are missing out on economic opportunity and undermining our American outdoor heritage.”[23] Similarly, the Biden Administration has bragged that its National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund will “increase visitor access by restoring and repairing roads … and parking areas.”[24]

While the richest Americans and foreign visitors may be able to drive those roads in expensive electric vehicles, most Americans will not be wealthy enough to do so. Then there is the simple consideration of how most hikers who visit Yellowstone are only able to do so with the aid of jet fuel and gasoline. In the same way, the number of skiers who visit Aspen or Park City would plummet without air travel.

Of course, even if environmentalists cannot entirely shut down travel by plane or the sale of gasoline, they will continue to support policies that significantly hike the costs of these means of transportation, a development that would seriously diminish Americans’ travel and thus harm the outdoor recreation sector.

The hostility of environmental extremist groups to forms of travel that most Americans now take for granted is intense. Just last year the magazine of the Sierra Club, a group Chairman Whitehouse repeatedly cites,[25] ran a long article that began by lionizing a man who hasn’t ridden a plane in five years; it ended with hopes that planes will disappear in a few decades.[26] Jet travel is also denounced by groups like Stay Grounded[27] and Flight Free USA.[28] In the world these pressure groups and their donors fight for, how can an Aspen ski resort or a fishing outfitter on Montana’s Blackfoot River survive?

Still more threats to outdoor recreation come from the ESG movement’s effort to debank all fossil fuel-related companies. As I testified to this Committee last year,[29] the ESG movement, funded with millions from billionaires like George Soros[30] and millions from the Arabella network,[31] is trying to have banks stop loans to any company related to fossil fuels,[32] which would mean Americans could not buy gas for their cars, trucks, and boats. As the Sierra Club puts this extremist position: “we must call on banks to stop funding coal, oil, and gas.”[33] Patagonia likewise takes an absolutist stance, demanding we “End Fossil Fuels.”[34] The founder of the Citizens Climate Lobby—whose letters members of the National Ski Areas Association are encouraged to sign—called for ever-rising carbon taxes because they would make it “uneconomic to bring coal, gas, and oil out of the ground.”[35] This effort will never gain support from more than a fraction of the public, but it can obtain big donations from billionaires who fly private jets to conferences on climate change.

If the ESG movement and its rich leaders like BlackRock’s Larry Fink have their way, an ordinary American who depends on a gas-powered truck for transport will not be able to drive to Yosemite, and no fisherman will be able to travel in a gas-powered boat across the beautiful Tennessee lakes I enjoyed in my childhood.

These are threats to outdoor recreation that will not be voiced by pressure groups dependent on, and in the service of, the wealthy donors who underwrite their AstroTurf—or in this context, perhaps one should say, their mSnow™ synthetic snow surface—campaigns. These grave threats, which would devastate far more business sectors than just outdoor recreation and thus produce staggering harm to the federal budget, deserve their own hearing.

Thank you.


Notes

[1] David Gelles, “Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company,” New York Times, September 21, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/climate/patagonia-climate-philanthropy-chouinard.html.

[2] David Gelles and Kenneth P. Vogel, “Patagonia’s Profits Are Funding Conservation—and Politics,” New York Times, January 30, 2024, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/30/climate/patagonia-holdfast-philanthropy.html.

[3] ProPublica, Sojourner Trust’s Form 990 for 2022, https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/886580636/202343109349303054/full.

[4] Thomas Catenacci, “Major Outdoor Clothing Company Quietly Operating Liberal Dark Money Group Hit with FEC Complaint,” Fox News, https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/major-outdoor-clothing-company-quietly-operating-liberal-dark-money-group-hit-fec-complaint. For the actual FEC complaint, see https://americansforpublictrust.org/document/holdfast-collective-fec-complaint/.

[5] Americans for Public Trust, “Holdfast Collective FEC Complaint,” February 22, 2024, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/30/climate/patagonia-holdfast-philanthropy.html.

[6] The proprietary FoundationSearch database reports eight grants from Patagonia Org to POW totaling $85,742.

[7] Protect Our Winters, “About POW,” https://protectourwinters.org/about-pow/.

[8] See the extensive cheerleading for the Inflation Reduction Act in its 2022 annual report: Protect Our Winters, “2022 Annual Report,” https://protectourwinters.org/about-pow/annual-reports/2022-annual-report/.

[9] OpenSecrets reports independent expenditures made by Protect Our Winters Action Fund in OpenSecrets, “Protect Our Winters Action Fund Independent Expenditures,” 2022 cycle, https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/protect-our-winters-action-fund/C90017898/independent-expenditures/2022; OpenSecrets, “Protect Our Winters Action Fund Independent Expenditures,” 2020 cycle, https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/protect-our-winters-action-fund/C90017898/independent-expenditures/2020; and OpenSecrets, “Protect Our Winters Action Fund Independent Expenditures,” 2018 cycle, https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/protect-our-winters-action-fund/C90017898/independent-expenditures/2018.

[10] The Atlantic headlined an interview with Arabella’s then-president: Emma Green, “The Massive Progressive Dark-Money Group You’ve Never Heard Of,” The Atlantic, November 2, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/11/arabella-advisors-money-democrats/620553/. “Over the past half decade, Democrats have quietly pulled ahead of Republicans in untraceable political spending. One group helped make it happen.” For more on Arabella, see InfluenceWatch, “Arabella Advisors,” https://www.influencewatch.org/for-profit/arabella-advisors/.

[11] ProPublica, Hopewell Fund’s Form 990 for 2022, https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/473681860/202333149349300038/IRS990ScheduleI.

[12] The general counsel recommended that the FEC “find reason to believe that the Sixteen Thirty Fund and The Hub Project”—the latter launched and sustained through the Arabella network by Wyss and his nonprofits—had “violated 52 U.S.C. §§ 30102, 30103, and 30104 by not registering as a political committee and meeting the Act’s organizational, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements.” See Federal Election Commission, “First General Counsel’s Report,” June 28, 2022, https://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/7904_13.pdf.

[13] Federal Election Commission, “Individual Contributions: Wyss, Hanjorg,” https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Wyss%2C+Hansjoerg&contributor_name=Wyss%2C+Hansjorg.

[14] ProPublica, “Tides Foundation,” https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/510198509. For more on Tides, see InfluenceWatch, “Tides Foundation,” https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/tides-foundation/.

[15] ProPublica, “The David Rockefeller Fund Inc,” https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/133533359.

[16] InfluenceWatch, “David Rockefeller Fund,” https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/david-rockefeller-fund/.

[17] Google, search string “site:whitehouse.senate.gov “protect our winters”,” https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Awhitehouse.senate.gov+%22protect+our+winters%22&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS1014US1014&oq=site%3Awhitehouse.senate.gov+%22protect+our+winters%22&gs_lcrp=EgZjaHJvbWUyBggAEEUYOTIGCAEQRRg60gEIOTgyM2owajeoAgCwAgA&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8.

[18] Data derived from the proprietary FoundationSearch database.

[19] Sheldon Whitehouse, “The Scheme 27: The Myth of the Unelected Bureaucrat,” U.S. Senate, January 24, 2024, https://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/news/speeches/the-scheme-26-the-myth-of-the-unelected-bureaucrat/.

[20] National Ski Areas Association, Climate Change Annual Report 2023http://nsaa.org/webdocs/sustainability/CC%20Annual%20Reports/CCAR2023.pdf.

[21] InfluenceWatch, “We Are Still In,” https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/we-are-still-in/.

[22] InfluenceWatch, “Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL),” https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/citizens-climate-lobby/.

[23] Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, “ORR Applauds Administration’s $2.8 Billion Investment in Public Lands Infrastructure and Access,”

April 8, 2022,” https://recreationroundtable.org/news/orr-applauds-administrations-2-8-billion-investment-in-public-lands-infrastructure-and-access/.

[24] U.S. Department of the Interior, “President Biden’s Budget Invests $2.8 Billion to Support Outdoor Recreation Economies, Access to Public Lands,” April 8, 2022, https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/president-bidens-budget-invests-28-billion-support-outdoor-recreation-economies-access.

[25] Office of Sheldon Whitehouse, search string “sierra club,” https://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/?s=%22sierra+club%22.

[26] Dayton Martindale, “The Carbon Footprint of Air Travel and How to Live a More Grounded Life,” Sierra, June 15, 2023, https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2023-2-summer/feature/carbon-footprint-air-travel-and-how-live-more-grounded-life.

[27] Stay Grounded, website, https://stay-grounded.org/.

[28] Flight Free USA, website, https://flightfree.org/flightfacts.

[29] Scott Walter, “Written Statement on ‘Dark Money’ in the Climate Debate,” testimony before the Committee on the Budget, U.S. Senate, June 22, 2023, https://capitalresearch.org/article/written-statement-on-dark-money-in-the-climate-debate/.

[30] For example, Soros’s Open Society Foundations have given seven figures in donations to As You Sow, one of the most prominent ESG groups: Open Society Foundations, “Awarded Grants,” https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/past?filter_keyword=as+you+sow.

[31] For example, Arabella’s New Venture Fund has given almost $7.3 million to Ceres, a prominent ESG group, from 2017 to 2021: InfluenceWatch, “New Venture Fund (NVF),” https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/new-venture-fund/#grants-from-new-venture-fund. For more on Ceres, see Ken Braun, “Ceres Inc.: The ESG Old Guard,” Capital Research Center, September 12, 2022, https://capitalresearch.org/article/ceres-inc-the-esg-old-guard/.

[32] In 2022, 10 different banks had received proposals asking them to stop financing or underwriting such projects. See Brigid Rosati, Kilian Moote, Rajeev Kumar, Michael Maiolo, and Georgeson LLC, “A Look Back at the 2022 Proxy Season,” Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, October 23, 2022, https://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2022/10/23/a-look-back-at-the-2022-proxy-season/.

[33] Sierra Club, “Fossil-Free Finance, https://www.sierraclub.org/fossil-free-finance.

[34] Patagonia, “March to End Fossil Fuels,” https://www.patagonia.com/actionworks/campaigns/just-transition/.

[35] Quoted in InfluenceWatch, “Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL),” https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/citizens-climate-lobby/.

*****

This testimony was provided by Capital Research and is reproduced with permission.

Please note that the 35 numbered references above brings the reader to the references in the article as published by Capital Research.

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TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Is a CCP Army Invading via Our Open Border? thumbnail

Is a CCP Army Invading via Our Open Border?

By Catherine Salgado

Is America’s greatest existential enemy, the genocidal Chinese Communist Party (CCP), exploiting Biden’s open borders to send agents or soldiers into the U.S.?

Numbers of illegal aliens pouring into America to receive taxpayer-funded freebies continue to climb, but one nationality is particularly showing a stunning leap in migrant numbers. Fox News’ Bill Melugin tweeted on April 2:

“Border Patrol arrests of Chinese nationals who crossed the U.S. border illegally over recent years.

Fiscal Year 2021: 342

Fiscal Year 2022: 1,987

Fiscal Year 2023: 24,125

Fiscal Year 2024: 22,233 (so far)

6,300% + increase since FY’21.”

Why should you be worried? As I have reported before, experts warned that the CCP is almost certainly sending in plants among the illegal alien horde. But with numbers as high as they are, and the fact that so many of these Chinese illegals have been military-age men, one has to wonder if a whole army of CCP soldiers is invading America.

It is extremely and increasingly difficult to escape from China and get all the way to America as a Chinese dissident, and it is very unlikely that tens of thousands of dissidents are simultaneously escaping and making their way to Latin America and thence to the U.S. without CCP hindrance. Some, no doubt, are dissidents, but that does not explain over 45,000 Chinese migrants suddenly appearing at our border just over the last year and a half. The CCP has certainly been growing increasingly aggressive and disdainful toward the U.S. under weak, China-pandering Joe Biden.

We know the CCP has multiple illicit police stations in America and has infiltrated our institutions and government, even paying off Biden and family. Unknown numbers of criminals, terrorists, and gang members are pouring into America as illegal migrants too. Most significant of all, the Biden administration deliberately reduced the vetting on Chinese migrants to a laughable level of irrelevance. Is it such a stretch of the imagination to think the CCP would be taking advantage of the open southern U.S. border and non-existent migrant vetting to send in a lot of soldiers or agents?

And if they are, we had better watch out—we might wake up one morning to find World War III happening right on our doorsteps.

*****

Catherine Salgado is an accomplished writer and investigative reporter who publishes daily in her Substack column, Pro Deo et Libertate (For God and Liberty). This superb column provides news and opinion pieces from an honest, common-sense perspective in the spheres of culture, politics, liberal arts, and religion. The Prickly Pear is grateful for her permission to reproduce her public writings and recommends that our readers subscribe to Catherine’s superb Substack column. Please consider a paid subscription for full access to all of her excellent and informative writings.

Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.