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

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

By Bonner Cohen

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

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

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

“Needs Innovation More Than Ever”

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

By Shawn Fleetwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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WHO Says LGBTQ/Sex Ed Starts…At Birth?!?! thumbnail

WHO Says LGBTQ/Sex Ed Starts…At Birth?!?!

By Catherine Salgado

The World Health Organization (WHO), which is beholden to and enamored of the genocidal Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and whose horrendous advice triggered the destructive COVID-19 measures such as masking and lockdowns, has more awful advice for you. According to the WHO, “sexuality education starts from birth.”

It’s never too early to teach your infant about sex and how they should chop off body parts! And this is the organization to which governments (including the Biden administration) want to give complete control over pandemic responses in future?

Notice the mention in the screenshot below of “early childhood masturbation” and “gender identity.”

“[The UK Telegraph, May 13] Outrage over WHO advice on sexuality for infants

Guide argues that ‘sexuality education starts from birth’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is under pressure to withdraw guidance for schools recommending that toddlers ‘ask questions about sexuality’ and ‘explore gender identities.’”

God help us.


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


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Debunking Another Misleading Green Energy Study thumbnail

Debunking Another Misleading Green Energy Study

By Jack Spencer

A popular talking point among green energy evangelists is that gas, oil, and coal are, in large part, successful because they are highly subsidized. Wind and solar, so the argument goes, would win in a fair fight, but, alas, the playing field is far from fair. But the supposed data they are drawing on to come to such a conclusion is misleading and geared more toward generating headlines than good policy.

A primary source used to back this claim up is a working paper presented by a group of International Monetary Fund authors titled “Still Not Getting Energy Prices Right: A Global and Country Update of Fossil Fuel Subsidies.”

The paper claims that hydrocarbon-based fuels—like gas, oil, and coal—enjoy $5.9 trillion in subsidies annually. Though often presented in the media as an IMF paper, it is specifically not an official publication of the organization but rather a working paper that is meant to, according to the IMF, “elicit comments and to encourage debate.”

Well, here is your debate, IMF.

As is often the case with so-called academic studies, the top-line number here makes for a much better headline than it does a basis for public policy. Indeed, even a cursory look into how the study came to its fanciful conclusions shows how misleading it ultimately is in general and how trivial it is for the United States.

There are three basic problems with the study.

First, it so broadly defines “subsidy” as to be completely meaningless. In fact, the study states that only 8% of its reported costs reflect actual, direct subsidies. The rest predominantly comes from the amorphous “undercharging for environmental costs” that supposedly occur from the extraction, refining, transportation, and use of fossil fuels. Such environmental costs include “underpricing for local air pollution” (42%) and “global warming costs” (29%). What’s left goes to the equally tenuous congestion and road accidents costs (15%) and forgone tax revenues (6%).

Though characterizing any of these so-called indirect subsidies as a pro-hydrocarbon bias is problematic, we will focus on the undercharging environmental costs, which are divided between global warming and local air pollution, because they represent the preponderance of their calculations.

The problems with the global warming number are many. For example, there is virtually no evidence that man-made global warming is having any costly impact on today’s world. The real costs, if one buys into global warming alarmism, come in the future—thus the study relies on the extremely tenuous and theoretical social cost of carbon calculations.

As my Heritage Foundation colleague Kevin Dayaratna has pointed out, the use of the social cost of carbon is so unreliable that it is virtually useless as a basis for public policy.

Second, the study presents its overall findings in global terms when the numbers only have meaning at local and regional levels. For example, the largest contributor to its bottom-line number is local air pollution. Putting aside the fact, as my colleague Travis Fisher points out, how easy it is to cook the books and exaggerate the assumed costs of things like small particulate matter in the air, the other problem is that regional variances for local air pollution are so immense that any broad policy conclusion, such as “tighten local air pollution standards,” would be irrelevant.

It would make no sense to apply the same policy response in the U.S.—where local air pollution levels are very low and getting lower—that you would apply to countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, where, according to the study, local air pollution levels are high. The study undermines its own credibility by presenting a cumulative, global number that serves no purpose other than to inflate its bottom line.

And third, the study provides no accounting for the massive contribution to human flourishing that has resulted directly from the use of hydrocarbons. This is perhaps the biggest problem with this study specifically, and the modern environmental movement more broadly.

The truth is that human well-being has skyrocketed in terms of wealth, health, and life expectancy since the Industrial Revolution, which was fueled by hydrocarbons. No statistic demonstrates this more clearly than the fact that climate-related deaths are down a staggering 92% since the 1920s, when the statistic was first recorded.

Nonetheless, the IMF authors took the time to give us their number on the alleged subsidy costs associated with gas, oil, and coal; so, in the spirit of fairness, a look at the benefits associated with fossil fuels seems appropriate.

Let’s break it down, and for the sake of consistency, all numbers will be adjusted to 2019 dollars. Prior to 1700, per capita gross domestic product (the sum value of all goods and services produced within a nation’s borders) in the West stagnated at around $955 per year. Today, the average North American can expect a per capita GDP of around $66,935.

While historians and economists may debate at the margins, most can agree that two things were key to this astronomical rise in economic production. First was the spread of free enterprise (thank you, Adam Smith), and second was the broad availability of affordable, scalable, and efficient energy (thank you, hydrocarbons).

For hundreds of years, people in Western nations made around $955. Then they started using coal, then oil, and then natural gas. Now, Americans make around $66,935. So, the average income, one could argue, has increased nearly $66,0000 as a direct and indirect result of hydrocarbons (using the same rationale as the study authors). That’s a big number, for sure.

Of course, the study authors took their localized numbers and globalized them. For the sake of comparing apples to apples, let’s do that for the United States.

There are approximately 331,900,000 Americans today. Had we stayed on the same GDP trajectory that we had been on for hundreds of years prior to the use of hydrocarbons, we would have a GDP today of around $316,964,500,000. Subtract that from 2022’s GDP of approximately $22.24 trillion and you get $21,926,692,686,448! That’s nearly $22 trillion in a single year in increased economic output and wealth due to free enterprise and the use of hydrocarbons.

Now, to be fair, let’s subtract the $5.9 trillion ($5.5 trillion in 2019 dollars) in alleged direct and indirect government subsidies for so-called fossil fuels that the working paper cites, which, remember, is a global number; it’s not just limited to the United States. When you subtract those alleged subsidies from the increased economic output, you still get over $16 trillion in direct and indirect benefits from hydrocarbon use. And that’s just for the United States—globally, the benefits would be immensely more!

Oh, and by the way, the environment—despite what the authors suggest—is getting better and better all the time, even with those pesky local pollutants that they pin 42% of their costs on. While some regions of the world do have work to do, the United States shows that gas, oil, and coal use and economic growth do not dictate poor air and environmental quality; and, indeed, Americans have enjoyed ever increasingly clean air for decades.

On its face, my benefits of hydrocarbons calculation could look like a version of the same screwy math used by the IMF working paper. That would be a fair critique. The point is, however, any broad assessment of the alleged costs of using coal, oil, and gas must also be paired with the immense benefits those fuels have brought all of society. When that is done, the only logical conclusion is that these fuels have made the world a better place for all of us, and any contention otherwise is about as valuable as a solar panel at midnight.


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


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What Is Going on in Katie Hobbs’ Office? thumbnail

What Is Going on in Katie Hobbs’ Office?

By Matt Vespa

What is going on with Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs? Key staffers are leaving, including her chief of staff, whose resignation was effective immediately. Our friends at RedState had it first, but the Democratic Arizona governor who narrowly beat Republican Kari Lake in 2022 seems to be sharing something with Vice President Kamala Harris: staff turnover. Some departures were admittedly warranted, like her press secretary who tweeted a violent image regarding fighting ‘transphobia’ on the day of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, where a transgender shot and killed six people. Yet, the core of her office is now gone. Brittany Sheehan had more:….

“On Thursday, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs announced that Allie Bones, her Chief of Staff and decades-long friend, had resigned. Hobbs expressed her well wishes for Bones’ future endeavors. The resignation is effective immediately, and the Governor’s Office plans to announce a new Chief of Staff next week. Prior to becoming Chief of Staff to Gov. Hobbs, Bones served as Assistant Secretary of State for four years. 

This comes as a wave of other departures pile up, including the resignations of Hobbs’ Communications Director, Deputy Communications Director, and Legislative Affairs Director. Insiders in the state capitol suggest that Bones’ exit represents a loss of confidence in the governor’s leadership…..


Continue reading this article at Townhall.


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The Philosophy Underlying DEI thumbnail

The Philosophy Underlying DEI

By Allen Porter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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Weekend Read: A Colonial History of African-Americans thumbnail

Weekend Read: A Colonial History of African-Americans

By Jack Trotter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

By Jon Miltimore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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Legalization Of Polygamy Was Always The Logical Consequence Of Obergefell

By Jonathan S. Tobin

If marriage is possible between any two individuals, then why not three, four, or any number of consenting adults, regardless of their sex?

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by a 5-4 vote. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion for the case, didn’t seem to believe that the issue of polyamory could possibly be relevant or arise due to the court’s decision. Just eight years later, The New York Times published an article last week that celebrated Somerville, Massachusetts, as a haven for legal polyamory.

A haven for academics and hippies, the Boston suburb adopted an ordinance in 2020 granting domestic partnership rights to people in polyamorous relationships. That was followed up this spring by the passage of two more laws “extending the rights of nonmonogamous residents,” banning discrimination on the basis of “family or relationship structure” in city employment and policing. The Somerville City Council is currently considering extending the reach of that law to housing. And as the Times reports, the “nonmonogamous” are no longer unusual there.

Somerville is, in the words of one of its municipal councilors, “a very queer city.” And as the Times also makes clear, “there is a significant crossover between those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and pansexual and those who practice nonmonogamy, according to multiple studies.”

As the Times also points out, polyamory is a staple of popular entertainment via shows like “Planet Sex with Cara Delevingne” and “Sex Diaries.” The same is true for polygamy, which was the subject of the hit HBO show “Big Love” from 2006 to 2011, and a reality show about an actual polygamous family, “Sister Wives,” which is still running after 13 seasons.

Surely, the widespread introduction of gay characters and couples into popular TV shows and films helped pave the way for Obergefell. Supporters of “nonmonogamous” relationships believe the same process is underway for their cause. But as much as the Times story on Somerville is an indication that the arbiters of fashionable left-wing opinion agree with that conclusion, it is worth remembering that at the time the gay marriage ruling was handed down, both the majority opinion and liberals cheering it sought to assure the nation that its implications were limited.

The decision was based on the claim that marriage “equality” was rooted in the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The right of two people of the same sex to the benefits of government-approved marriage was, according to the five-justice majority and the rest of enlightened opinion, no less compelling than those of two of the opposite sex.

In their view, the traditional conception of marriage as a union of one man and one woman that dates back to the beginnings of civilization was antithetical to the law’s guarantee of equal protection to all. Any objections to this principle were deemed to be rooted in religion and not the secular laws of the United States.

Yet as Chief Justice John Roberts noted in his dissent, there was a problem. “Much of the majority’s reasoning” in support of same-sex marriage “would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.” Indeed, as Justice Samuel Alito had said during the case’s oral arguments, those who claimed the equal protection clause demanded that the law recognize same-sex marriage between two people could not reasonably explain on what grounds a state could deny a marriage license to a foursome of two men and two women.

Kennedy’s opinion waxed lyrical about the benefits of marriage, but he seemed to take it for granted that no reasonable person would assume his claims would apply to any union other than that of two persons. Pundits like Slate’s William Saletan backed him up, arguing that any effort to argue to the contrary was a way to delegitimize gay marriage by comparing it to polygamy and polyamory that were outrageous and clearly beyond the pale.

But the Somerville City Council begs to differ. And though the laws it has passed are antithetical to the foundational principles of Western civilization as well as the best interests of families and children, they are right to think that what they have done is the logical and inevitable consequence of Obergefell.

Kennedy’s opinion included many elements that can be construed as arguing against extending the right of marriage to more than two consenting adults. He championed the idea of such unions being immutable and the avoidance of loneliness, arguing it would be wrong to exclude gay couples from the legal benefits of marriage. He also emphasized the importance of fidelity and devotion to another person and the avoidance of conflict in long-term relationships. All of these arguments could just as easily be applied to unions that involve more than two people. Any assertion to the contrary would, like the argument against gay marriage, be rooted in those same religious and traditional ideas that Obergefell rejected.

If marriage is possible between any two individuals of the opposite or the same sex, then why not three, four, or any number of consenting adults, regardless of their sex? And if Somerville is the harbinger of a growing movement to legalize polyamorous and inevitably polygamous marriages by cities and ultimately states, then those who will defend such laws are on firm ground declaring that the logic of Obergefell demands that all non-traditional ideas about marriage must be treated equally under the law. This is the choice America made in 2015.

Polygamy is still practiced in the Muslim world and is even quietly tolerated among some Muslim immigrant communities in the United States. Likely today most liberal politicians would say they are opposed to polygamy because it is a vestige of bad ancient patriarchal societies. But so long as American law rejects traditional marriage as a valid definition, they have no leg to stand on to deny it to groups of consenting men and women or persons who define themselves in some other manner.

There is little appetite among conservatives to challenge gay marriage since it is now broadly popular. But as Roberts and Alito’s concerns are being validated by events in the culture and in places like Somerville, it will be impossible to prevent efforts to broaden the definition of marriage to conform to those accepted in queer culture without also questioning Obergefell’s logic.

Marriage and the creation of families based on the traditional definition involving one man and one woman is part of the foundation of our civilization. The same movement that is driving events in Somerville and elsewhere aims to destroy the traditional family. In its place, they wish to elevate the nihilism of cultural Marxism. And in a nation where President Biden has declared that support for the transgender cult that targets children and families is “the civil rights issue of our time,” no one should doubt that legal polyamory and polygamy are just around the corner.

As politically perilous as a relitigation of Obergefell might be, reversal of that trend would require a willingness to champion traditional values about families, sex, and marriage that would call its validity into question.

This wouldn’t be necessary if, as Kennedy and Saletan hoped at the time, gay marriage was the end of the debate. But it isn’t the end, and unless we are prepared to acquiesce to living in a country where practices such as polyamory and polygamy — which are so toxic to culture and families — can thrive, Obergefell is the battleground on which we will ultimately be dragged by the Times and the queer city of Somerville.


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


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

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Waking Up To Wokeness

By Ken Veit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Look, Mommy. That man is all brown!”

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Arizona News: June 2,2023

By The Editors

The Prickly Pear will provide current, linked articles about Arizona consistent with our Mission Statement to ‘inform, educate and advocate’. We are an Arizona based website and believe this information should be available to all of our statewide readers.

BREAKING: Corrupt Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates Says He Will NOT Run For Re-Election in 2024 – Will Oversee 2024 Election


Rep. Andy Biggs And Freedom Caucus Oppose Debt Ceiling Raise

Schweikert, Ciscomani Join Democrats To Pass McCarthy-Biden Budget Deal

Federal agents seize a ton of fentanyl in Arizona, enough to kill 453 million people


AZ Legislature Week In Review – Week Ending May 26, 2023

Ranchers Hail, Environmentalists Fear Supreme Court Clean Water Ruling

NEW: Democrat Katie Hobbs Hangs LGBTQ Flags Above American Flag at Arizona Capitol


Mixed Reaction Swift To News Of Hobbs’ Chief Of Staff Pick Chad Campbell

Hobbs Sued By Election Integrity Group For Hiding Election-Related Emails

Senate Panel Recommends Rejection Of Hobbs’ “Unqualified Extremist With Racist Past” Appointee To ROC

Former progressive lawmaker denied recommendation for Hobbs cabinet position

ESA Enrollment Expected To Serve 100,000 Arizona Students By 2024

NAU President Intentionally Admitted More Hispanic Students For More Federal Money

Twitter’s Community Notes Crush Cano For ESA Crop Job

Republicans Continue Fight For Women’s Sports

Kern And Payne Set To Return To Legislature


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

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Teen Vogue: More Politics Than Fashion

By Kate Haberl

If you visit today, you’ll see a tab called “Politics.”

Recent headlines include “What does Donald Trump’s Indictment Actually Mean?” and a slew of articles on “trans kids,” including bathroom bans and “How to Be an Advocate for Trans Student Athletes.”

A deep dive into old Teen Vogue magazines reveals no such headlines, which begs the question ­— why has Teen Vogue moved from puff pieces about spring style to endorsements of communism? Does the shift matter?

I read Teen Vogue in the late 2000s and early 2010s, along with many of my middle school peers. I remember articles about “Bieber Fever” and full-page spreads of neon fashion trends. The most political commentary that I can remember was at least tangentially related to beauty and fashion — indictments of eating disorders and plastic surgery.

Many of the articles published on the Teen Vogue website today cannot claim any connection to fashion, beauty, or anything else expected from a magazine that caters to teenage girls.

Teen Vogue Goes Political

As someone who has only recently aged out of my teenage years (I’m now 21), Teen Vogue’s transformation is reminiscent of society’s shift throughout my high school years.

Every generation has faced issues that feel existential; for my parents, it was the Cold War and the very real possibility of nuclear annihilation. I’ve talked to my grandfather about what it was like to grow up during the Second World War, with food rations and friends and family going off to fight and die on foreign soil. For my generation, the two issues that I would describe as the most pressing are gun violence and climate change.

I am deeply concerned about both issues, and many others, ranging from human rights violations to elected public officials acting against their constituents’ interests.

The difference between my generation’s issues and previous problems is that teenagers today cannot escape the litany of issues, and Teen Vogue is only continuing that trend. If you open Instagram or TikTok or attend a public high school, you are constantly bombarded with news and commentary on social issues. For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, teens are inundated with information. Over the last few years, the pressure on teenagers to constantly be “in the know,” to be hardcore activists, and to express all the right opinions on complex political matters has become crushing.

Politicizing Teenagers

Teen Vogue has become another outlet exerting this pressure. Teens do not get the opportunity to escape, even when they open a magazine that has been ubiquitous with fashion and makeup. Teen Vogue was meant to be relaxing because we already have hard-hitting journalism. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Politico already exist, so we are perfectly capable of reading about Donald Trump’s indictment if we so choose.

What we can no longer find is an outlet in which teenage girls can be just that: teenage girls. Where can teen girls go to worry about fashion, makeup, and boy band members without being subjected to op-eds about the 2024 election?

Teenagers deserve refuge from political rhetoric and pressure to advocate for policy changes in their schools. Teen Vogue primarily targets girls ages 12–17, whose main concerns should be puppy love and eye makeup.

Teen Vogue is instead telling them that they should focus on issues like criminal justice reform and Supreme Court corruption, neither of which have much to do with the average suburban high school student. Moreover, Teen Vogue promotes only political ideology, which can be dangerous for impressionable teenagers who are still developing their critical thinking skills and worldviews.

For many parents and authority figures like teachers and coaches, Teen Vogue’s political coverage is also insidious because it is not expected. If parents see their teen reading the Washington Post or Politico, they have an idea of what they are reading. However, most parents would think that Teen Vogue is a source of fashion tips rather than Marxist ideology, thereby allowing Teen Vogue to influence teen’s opinions with little to no oversight.

Let teenagers learn and grow and have fun—there will be lots of time for political advocacy after they get to college. There is a time and place for youth activism, and that place is not Teen Vogue.

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


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

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

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

By Catherine Salgado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Welcome to the Objective Room thumbnail

Welcome to the Objective Room

By Micah Meadowcroft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is the final test.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

By Shane Trejo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Continue reading this article at Big League Politics.


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

Trump and His Allies Attack Tax Reform thumbnail

Trump and His Allies Attack Tax Reform

By Neland Nobel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

By John Daniel Davidson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Without Economic Freedom, None of the Others Matter thumbnail

Without Economic Freedom, None of the Others Matter

By Paul Schwennesen

[One Fine Spring Day, Over the Phone…]

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

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

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

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

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

Why yes, yes I would.

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

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

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

I called her up.

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

“That is correct sir.”

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

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

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

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

“Told by whom?”

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

Ah. I see.

**Spoiler Alert**

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

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

Except that it isn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Why Politics is More Important than Culture Right Now thumbnail

Why Politics is More Important than Culture Right Now

By Conlan Salgado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Arizona News: May 30, 2023 thumbnail

Arizona News: May 30, 2023

By The Editors

The Prickly Pear will provide current, linked articles about Arizona consistent with our Mission Statement to ‘inform, educate and advocate’. We are an Arizona based website and believe this information should be available to all of our statewide readers.

AZ Legislature Week In Review – Week Ending May 26, 2023

Pro-Life Group Petitions Arizona Supreme Court To Reinstate Abortion Ban

Republican Legislators Demand Mayes Retract False Statements About ESAs

Hobbs Vetoes Bill To Ban Photo Radar

Hobbs nixes full-day kindergarten funding for ESA students

Hobbs vetoes bill banning elected officials from lobbying

Hobbs Chief Of Staff Out, Resignation Tendered

U.S.S. Hobbs: Sunday’s Comic

Chomsky, Epstein, Wilbur? What UA Gets Away With Continues to Baffle & Amaze

More than 100 Arizona schools add armed safety officers

Why Are There Still Uncounted Ballots From The 2022 Election?

The Defeat Of Prop 412 Is An Important Win For Freedom, But The Battle Is Not Over Yet


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