Every year the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) comes out with a report card on the condition of America’s infrastructure. We got a D+ this year. According to them, “Deteriorating infrastructure is impeding our ability to compete in the thriving global economy, and improvements are necessary to ensure our country is built for the future.”

They calculate that every family in America will lose $3,400 a year because of infrastructure deficiencies. If the problem isn’t fixed, they say, GDP will lose $4 trillion a year by then (2025) and 2.5 million jobs will be lost. They recommend an additional $1.1 trillion of spending on transportation (roads and bridges) over the next 10 years to correct this problem.

America’s infrastructure is not crumbling and massive spending won’t create any permanent jobs.

President Donald Trump says that we need to spend $1 trillion to “transform America’s crumbling infrastructure into a golden opportunity for accelerated economic growth and more rapid productivity gains.”

Liberals and conservatives alike get teary-eyed when they hear this. They think that massive spending, especially on roads and bridges, will “put people back to work” and make America more productive.

Here is the reality: America’s infrastructure is not crumbling, massive spending won’t create any permanent jobs, and productivity is not suffering because of our infrastructure. These are economic myths that lobbyists, infrastructure contractors, and the ASCE perpetuate to get fat contracts.

Things Just Keep Getting Better

Let me back up for a moment and say that, yes, our transportation system, for example, is an important factor in productivity and inefficiencies could harm productivity. Los Angeles is a glaring example of inefficiency since it again was the world’s worst metro area for traffic congestion (104 hours per year wasted in traffic; NYC – 89; SF – 83). Surely commuters’ time would be better spent in more productive activities than listening to NPR.

Let me also note that by “we” as in “we need to spend $X trillion …”, the “we” are your local, state, and federal governments who own and operate our roads and bridges. They are the reason we have transportation infrastructure problems. You have only to look to your politicians to place the blame.

If you look at transportation issues over time, things have been getting better, not worse. When the ASCE comes out with their Report Card every year, our news media dutifully start their reporting by showing a bridge or road somewhere that is crumbling and it is cited as an exemplar of the problem of “our crumbling infrastructure.” What they don’t tell you is that if you look at transportation issues over time, things have been getting better, not worse (except the aforementioned traffic congestion).

Jeffrey Harding is a real estate investor living in Santa Barbara, California. He writes about economics and finance at AnIndependentMind.com. He is an Adjunct Professor at Santa Barbara City College where he teaches Real Estate Investment.

  



The paradox of free speech and unfree actions
It's absurd to claim that expression cannot lead people to do bad things because obviously expression can lead people to do good things.

There’s a tension so deep in how we think about free expression, it should rightly be called a paradox.

On the one hand, regardless of ideology, artists and writers almost unanimously insist that they do what they do to change minds. But the same artistes, auteurs, and opiners recoil in horror when anyone suggests that they might be responsible for inspiring bad deeds.

Hollywood, the music industry, journalism, political ideologies, even the Confederate flag: Each takes its turn in the dock when some madman or fool does something terrible.

The arguments against free speech are stacked and waiting for these moments like weapons in a gladiatorial armory. There’s no philosophical consistency to when they get picked up and deployed, beyond the unimpeachable consistency of opportunism.

Hollywood activists blame the toxic rhetoric of right-wing talk radio or the tea party for this crime, the National Rifle Association blames Hollywood for that atrocity. Liberals decry the toxic rhetoric of the Right, conservatives blame the toxic rhetoric of the Left.

When attacked – again heedless of ideology or consistency – the gladiators instantly trade weapons. The finger-pointers of five minutes ago suddenly wax righteous in their indignation that mere expression – rather, their expression – should be blamed.

Words Matter

Many of the same liberals who pounded soapboxes into pulp at the very thought of labeling record albums with violent-lyrics warnings instantly insisted that Sarah Palin had Representative Gabby Giffords’s blood on her hands. Many of the conservatives who spewed hot fire at the suggestion that they had any culpability in an abortion-clinic bombing gleefully insisted that Senator Bernie Sanders is partially to blame for Representative Steve Scalise’s fight with death.

And this is where the paradox starts to come into view: Everyone has a point.

“The blame for violent acts lies with the people who commit them, and with those who explicitly and seriously call for violence,” Dan McLaughlin, my National Review colleague, wrote in the Los Angeles Times last week. “People who just use overheated political rhetoric, or who happen to share the gunman’s opinions, should be nowhere on the list.” If words don’t matter, then democracy is a joke.

As a matter of law, I agree with this entirely. But as a matter of culture, it’s more complicated.

I have always thought it absurd to claim that expression cannot lead people to do bad things, precisely because it is so obvious that expression can lead people to do good things. According to legend, Abraham Lincoln told Harriet Beecher Stowe, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Should we mock Lincoln for saying something ridiculous?

As Irving Kristol once put it, “If you believe that no one was ever corrupted by a book, you have also to believe that no one was ever improved by a book. You have to believe, in other words, that art is morally trivial and that education is morally irrelevant.”

If words don’t matter, then democracy is a joke, because democracy depends entirely on making arguments – not for killing, but for voting. Only a fool would argue that words can move people to vote but not to kill.

  




A still unidentified Democrat Party donor paid for the factually challenged dossier that almost sunk the Donald Trump campaign. The dossier was created (and perhaps written) with the support and assistance of unregistered foreign agents of the Russian government, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The offer by an obscure music publicist to Donald Trump Jr. to share compromising information on the Clinton campaign was, as will be shown below, most likely a Russian operation. I conclude that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was not to help Trump but to throw the American political system into chaos and threaten its foundations.

Russia boasts one of the most effective and ruthless political operations in Washington. A flamboyant man-about-town ambassador sits at the top hobnobbing with the American political aristocracy. Russia’s diplomats, spies, and PR experts lobby Russian interests and recruit the powerhouses of American political influence to plead their cases and use hired guns to sling dirt and promote “disinformation” about opponents.

Russia’s “Magnitsky gang” was formed to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions imposed by Congress in 2012. Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky represented Hermitage Capital (once the largest investor in Russia and a major holder of Yukos stock). He died in a Russian prison after being denied medical attention, provoking US sanctions. An irate Vladimir Putin retaliated by closing down American adoptions of Russian children.

The Magnitsky gang includes a “former” GRU spy, Rinat Akhmetshin, a Kremlin-connected lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Anatoly Samochornov, Andrei Nekrasov and other Russian nationals. They hire American lobbyists and PR firms to represent Russian interests. They gather and disseminate “fake news” about Magnitsky and his boss, William Browder, including producing a distorted documentary. None have signed FARA documents as Foreign Agents of Russia. Instead, they claim to represent charitable non-profit organizations registered in the United States.

With the U.S. election pending, members of the Magnitsky gang expanded their portfolio to include meddling in the election. Using funds donated by a still-unnamed Democrat donor, Akhmetshin hired a US opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, to dig up dirt on candidate Trump. Fusion GPS hired a London intelligence firm, Orbis, headed by former British spy, Christopher Steele. Steele was tasked with using his Russian contacts to gather compromising information on Trump. Fusion and Orbis were not new to each other. They had worked together since January 2010, as their contract agreement shows.

Paul Roderick Gregory: "I am a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford, and energy fellow and Cullen Professor of Economics at the University of Houston. I am also a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research Berlin. My specialties are Russia and Comparative Economics, and I am adding China to my portfolio. I have written more than 20 books on economics, Russia and comparative economics. I blog at paulgregorysblog.blogspot.com."
The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

  




The mainstream press has accused Hobby Lobby, a great and beloved American company, of hypocrisy, unchristian behavior, smuggling, stealing, and even funding terrorism. As punishment, and concluding an investigation that has been going on for six years, the US government has extracted from the company a fine of $3 million, and the company is sending to the government property it bought fair and square.

What Hobby Lobby was doing could have finally saved this sacred history on behalf of the whole of humanity.

What horrible things did the company do? It purchased from sketchy sources in the Middle East thousands of ancient artifacts, including extremely rare cuneiform tablets. The purpose of such purchases – the Green family that owns Hobby Lobby spent its own money – is to complete an exciting project in the nation’s capital, the building of a new museum called the Museum of the Bible that will be open to the public in November.

For its efforts to save ancient historical artifacts and put them on display for educational purposes, the company has been declared guilty of trafficking war loot. And the property it bought? It is presumably going to be owned now by the US government – and maybe put in a warehouse and forgotten, like the disgraceful scene from the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The War Caused This

And yet, it was the chaos of the Iraq War itself that brought these artifacts to the black markets to begin with. Previously, one supposes, they were claimed by Saddam Hussein as the national property of the government that the U.S. overthrew. They were pillaged by traders in the midst of the confusion that the US had not properly prepared for. This was nearly 15 years ago, and, presumably, the artifacts have changed hands many times.

  




I'm sure a lot of people are already aware of the case of Charlie Gard, a 10-month-old infant in Britain who was born with a genetic defect that led to mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDA). In MDDA, a defect in the structure of mitochondria (tiny organelles that manage much of a cell's metabolism and protein synthesis) makes them ineffective, which leads to a fairly quickly progressing wasting disease that is almost inevitably fatal. In Charlie Gard's case, it has progressed to the point that he requires life support to live.

The National Health Service in the UK concluded there were no further treatments that could be of use (even though there are experimental treatments available in the U.S.) and determined to take him off life support. His parents disagreed -- are you surprised? -- and raised £1.3 million to pay for his experimental treatment.

Which the British government refused to permit.

That was the point where the story got my attention. I used to have an office down the hall from the pediatric oncology wards at Duke Medical Center: I know only too well that there are kids who are nearly certainly going to die, and that there is very little to be done for some of them. But doctors in the U.S. would be helping the parents to find experimental programs, and might well contribute money to a GoFundMe.

In the UK, however, the authorities at Great Ormond Street Hospital said "Charlie should be allowed to die in dignity" and "applied for permission to have his ventilator switched off."

Over his parents' wishes.

The gist of the decision -- and the unsuccessful appeals, all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights -- was that the doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital know better than his parents what's good for Charlie.

His parents then asked to be able to take Charlie home, so he can at least die at home. That was refused too. I haven't seen any reasoning for that; it's hard not to think they're suspicious his parents wouldn't let Charlie just die as directed, but would, immediately upon regaining control of their son, flee the country.

While I find the NHS arguing for pulling the plug a little shocking, it's not surprising: the NHS has had it's "Liverpool options" and regular scandals over patients whose quick death is encouraged. It's even almost understandable -- the NHS has a finite budget and they have to deal with all their patients, not just Grandma May, although I don't want to be the person explaining why they aren't giving grandma IV fluids.

But that's not the case now: Charlie's parents have the money to let him be treated in the U.S. The authorities' only argument is that they simply know better than his parents.

I've written before about the secret political party, the Know-Betters, who think that they should be in charge of our transportation, and where we should live, and what we should eat and drink. I can't help but think that what underlies the NHS' fight to prevent Charlie Gard from being treated isn't near as much some notion of mercy as much as rage at the thought that a couple of uncredentialed mere parents are refusing to do what they're told.

Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media.

  



Who needs a lawyer when you have the blockchain?
Machine learning isn't the thing that will exterminate the professions. The blockchain will be.

I fear for the professions: those which have enjoyed a monopoly for so long due to their protection by Royal Societies and Official registries. Those which require accreditation and continued professional development. I’m not saying they never provided a quality professional service, I’m saying they had Carte Blanche to charge extortionate prices in a protected market.

When your moat is a 6-year degree and a 2-year traineeship, it’s incredibly difficult to disrupt. The problem is, with people living longer and more and more people jockeying to enter service-based professions, there are too many people entering almost every one.

But here come the machines, and they can read everything you have instantaneously, as well as every other law book ever written. They have total recall of any precedent ever set and an insurmountable amount of information at the end of their electrodes, ready to be utilized in response to any query or requirement.

I studied architecture for six years without any real belief that was the direction I wished my career path to follow. As such, I tailored my skills and experiences over those years to diversify my skills and competencies to enable my pursuit of alternative industry. I read voraciously and expanded my knowledge as far from my remit of study as possible.

Most of my classmates weren’t so lucky and tried to enter a profession which is dying from the inside. The incumbent professionals understandably won’t relinquish their stranglehold. Therefore, there are no opportunities available for the role for which they have been trained.

Make no mistake about it, this is a tremendous failing of universities as well. Supermarkets couldn’t sell banana skins without anything inside them, but increasingly this is what universities are doing. They sell degrees with the promise of work, only for students to realize their empty promises upon graduation.

Even with that all being true, machine learning isn’t the thing that will exterminate the professions, specifically lawyers. The blockchain will be the grim reaper who comes for them first.

Arbiters No More

When lawyers are no longer necessary to be the arbiters of contracts, a huge purpose of theirs will be destroyed overnight.

The blockchain possesses the potential to remove this need overnight. Smart contracts will replace traditional paperwork ubiquitously and almost instantaneously, where the blockchain transfers payment when the appropriate conditions have been met.

Think of the delivery of wheat, where payment is triggered when the delivery vehicle hits certain coordinates for geographic location on a map. The blockchain updates and the ledger records all relevant information for all parties.

No intermediaries, no disputes, only facts recorded for all to see. Any disputes are easily resolved by referring to the information recorded.

  




For many Americans, knowledge of the Constitution begins and ends with the preamble. A lot of people probably even memorized it at some point in school. I suppose you could laud the educational system for at least acknowledging the existence of America’s governing document. But unfortunately, all of the focus on the preamble has done more harm than good.

For all of its poetic beauty and the sweeping principles it highlights, the Constitution’s preamble tells us very little about the American system of government as conceived by the founding generation. In fact, apart from establishing who has the ultimate authority in the system, and generally outlining the purposes of the union, it doesn’t really tell us anything. In particular, it reveals nothing about the powers vested in the federal government.

WHAT THE PREAMBLE TELLS US

While the preamble does not tell us anything about the extent of government power, it does reveal to us where that power comes from.

Have you ever stopped to think about why the opening words of the U.S. Constitution – We the People – appear in large, ornate letters? It’s actually significant. When an 18th century British king issued a grant, his name always appeared at the top in the same fashion. The framers of the Constitution merely replaced the king’s name with “We the People,” signifying the sovereign authority from which the delegation of power flowed. In other words, all authority in the United States ultimately flows from the people, not the government.

In the British system, the “King in Parliament” was sovereign. In practice, Parliament exercised ultimate authority with the king serving as the arm to put its power into action.The British developed a constitutional system, but not in the same sense Americans think of it today. Their constitution was not written. In the British system, no distinction existed between “the constitution, or frame of government” and “the system of laws.” They were one and the same. Every act of Parliament was, in essence, part of the constitution. It was an absurdity to argue an act of Parliament was “unconstitutional.” Since it was sovereign, anything Parliament did was, by definition, constitutional.

In the years leading up to the War for Independence, Americans began to question this theory of political power. Instead, they began to view a constitution as something existing above the government. The colonists ultimately rejected the idea that governments form the constitution and instead conceived of the constitution as something that binds government. The written U.S. Constitution established by “we the people” reflects this shift.

But “we the people” does not mean the “whole people,” or every person in America taken together as a giant glob. It would be more accurate to say “we the people of the states.” In fact, as originally drafted, the preamble listed every state. “We the people of Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia…etc.” So why did the committee of style change the wording to simply “we the people?” Because there was no guarantee every state would ratify. Say Rhode Island decided not to join the union. It would have made no sense to have it listed if it didn’t ratify. The change in style was for that purpose, not a reflection of a change in how the framers viewed sovereignty.

With the ratification of the Constitution, the states remained the preeminent political societies in the American system. As stated in the preamble, the primary purpose of the Constitution was to create “a more perfect union.” This implies the document did not create a new union, but merely built upon the existing union established by the Articles of Confederation. America’s original constitution explicitly affirmed the independence and sovereignty of the states. This basic structure carried over into the new constitution.

James Madison explained this concept in his Report of 1800 in defense of the Virginia Resolutions of 1798. In the resolutions, Madison asserted “that the states are parties to the Constitution or compact.” By this, he meant the people of the states created the union.He further developed this idea in the Report of 1800.

It is indeed true, that the term “states,” is sometimes used in a vague sense, and sometimes in different senses, according to the subject to which it is applied. Thus, it sometimes means the separate sections of territory occupied by the political societies within each; sometimes the particular governments, established by those societies; sometimes those societies as organized into those particular governments; and, lastly, it means the people composing those political societies, in their highest sovereign capacity. Although it might be wished that the perfection of language admitted less diversity in the signification of the same words, yet little inconveniency is produced by it, where the true sense can be collected with certainty from the different applications. In the present instance, whatever different constructions of the term “states,” in the resolution, may have been entertained, all will at least concur in that last mentioned; because, in that sense, the Constitution was submitted to the “states,” in that sense the “states” ratified it; and, in that sense of the term “states,” they are consequently parties to the compact, from which the powers of the federal government result. [Emphasis added]

In short, the people, organized into political societies known as states, are sovereign in the American system.

Along with revealing the ultimate source of authority in the United States, the preamble also establishes the general purposes of the union and the objectives of the general government created by the Constitution.

In a nutshell, the reasons spelled out in the preamble answer this question: why did the American states form a union?

The answer: to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center.He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of '98 - Kentucky.See his blog archive here and his article archive here.He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at MichaelMaharrey.com and like him on Facebook HERE

[Select more to read what the Preamble does NOT tell us.]

  




Trump Derangement Syndrome is real, it’s deadly serious, and it appears to be metastasizing. And don’t expect calls for unity after the attempted assassination of a Republican lawmaker to help encapsulate it, either. The disease is far too virulent for the crazed actions of a single individual to stop it.

After the election of Barack Obama, those of us to the right of center were sufficiently motivated by our beliefs -- and fears -- to coalesce for change; it was called the Tea Party Movement. It was intense, to be sure, and often loud, but mostly it was nonviolent political street theater. We were, compared to many of those suffering from TDS, model citizens. We cleaned up after our rallies, which were always peaceful. We respected private property. We believed in the rule of law and the Constitution, and acted accordingly. We strongly discouraged, oft-times to the chagrin of some of our more in-your-face followers, not only violence, but even any rhetoric that, taken out of context, might appear to promote violence.

Birth certificate issues aside, the vast majority of tea party devotees believed we had to play the cards we were dealt in November of 2008, voicing our displeasure but recognizing that the next time we could win a hand was Election Day, 2010. This led, of course, to the Tea Party wave election that drowned the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives and led to a six-seat gain in the Senate.

To my mind, that is how political opposition is supposed to work in 21st century; indeed, the peaceful transition of power is something of which we have been justly proud for over two hundred years. However, we seem to have reached a point where the existence of TDS has many people questioning whether or not we can keep that streak alive. If this presidency, properly won in a proper election, is stolen by coup, violent or otherwise, the United States as we know it will become a memory.

The Tea Party Movement, to the best of its ability, was fairly diligent about purging itself of its dangerously zealous members, believing correctly that they would pollute our message and damage our brand. At no time did we wish to appear as if we were on the fringe -- principally because we knew that a) the mainstream media desperately wished to portray us as such and did so daily, with or without provocation, and b) we knew in our core we were not a “fringe,” but rather the heart and soul of the republic.

  




Following former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, two retired FBI agents have forwarded their own review of Comey’s testimony to DennisMichaelLynch.com.

Following former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, two retired FBI agents have forwarded their own review of Comey’s testimony to DennisMichaelLynch.com.

Cesar Paz, a 22-year veteran of the FBI whose undercover work fighting terrorism and criminal organizations took him all the world, has spoken up about Comey before. In October, Paz posted two powerful videos blasting Comey over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton.

Friday, Paz was joined by retired FBI supervisor Jeff Danik, who spent 30 years with the bureau fighting crime and terrorism.  The two sat down in an informal setting and recorded their thoughts and concerns about Comey’s testimony. They both clarified they are giving their own opinions, and are not speaking for all FBI agents, but they have received feedback from other agents.

We share their four-part analysis below:

PART 1 – Paz noted that Comey complained that President Trump had “insulted” him and insulted the FBI.  Comey said he had a good relationship with the FBI agents, and Trump didn’t even give him a chance to tell them good-bye. Paz argued that, based on his interactions with a large number of FBI agents, Comey’s relationship with them had actually deteriorated, especially during the campaign year.

Paz slammed Comey again for saying in July that could not find any reason to charge Hillary Clinton, after giving a long list of violations she had committed.

Danik acknowledged that many FBI agents do believe that the way in which Comey was terminated was wrong – but they are not upset because he was terminated. In Danik’s current practice, he said many of his clients are people who have reported waste, fraud, and abuse within the FBI. He alleged that Comey was “in the loop, knew about this and has done nothing.”

Regarding the Hillary email investigation, Danik said Comey should have been fired for making a “unilateral declination of a criminal case,” because that decision legally rests with the Attorney General and the Justice Department.  Since Loretta Lynch recused herself, Danik said the power did not fall to Comey – the power legally fell to the next person in line at the DOJ.

  




WASHINGTON – A group of former congressional staffers calling themselves the Indivisible Team has drafted “A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda,” and the authors take some queues from the Tea Party.

“Like us, you probably deeply disagree with the principles and positions of the Tea Party,” authors of the resistance guide wrote. “But we can all learn from their success in influencing the national debate and the behavior of national policyholders. To their credit, they thought thoroughly about advocacy tactics, as the leaked ‘Town Hall Action Memo’ demonstrates.”  

The Tea Party strategy, the anti-Trump group writes, was being locally focused and to be “almost purely defensive,” focused on saying no to members of Congress on their home turf.

The playbook tells participants how to attend congressional town hall meetings, where to sit, how to ask questions – “Be polite but persistent, and demand real answers” and “Don’t give up the mic until you’re satisfied with the answer.” The guide says participants should record and post everything.

It also provides instructions to show up at a local congress member’s district office and ask questions. It doesn’t recommend sit-ins, saying they can “backfire.”

The anti-Trump people also urge organized telephone calls to district offices. “You and your group should all agree to call in on one specific issue that day. The next day or week pick another issue, and call again on that,” the playbook says.

Republican John Faso has been the target of many of these actions since he voted to dismantle Obamacare.

While he acknowledges it is an individual’s First Amendment right to express their opinions, some massive phone calls to his district office can disrupt the normal constituent business.

“Citizens that have issues with a federal agency or they are trying to get veteran’s benefits or clear up an immigration issue; we, unfortunately have had instances where people can’t get through because the phone lines are tied up by people who are engaged in this organized political effort,” Faso said. “That is an unfortunate side effect of what they are doing.”

The guide also says participants should keep a record of their conversations and report back to the media and their group about what their conversation entailed if they talked to a congressional staffer.

The authors said they wrote the guide “because we believe that the coming years will see an unprecedented movement of Americans rising up across the country to protect our values, our neighbors, and ourselves.” They wrote that the goal of the guide “is to provide practical understanding of how your Members of Congress think, and how you can demonstrate to them the depth and power of the opposition to Donald Trump and to Republican congressional overreach.”




George Orwell wrote in 1984 that one of the totalitarian regime’s principles was stated in the slogan, “Whoever controls the present controls the past. Whoever controls the past controls the future.” A moment’s consideration will validate this axiom.

Leftists have a long, well-documented record of mutilating history and eradicating historical facts that do not conform, or that contradict, their ideology. The Soviet Union was particularly famous for this practice, carried to an even greater extreme under the rule of The Friend of All Humanity . . . Josef Stalin (be sure to see David King’s excellent The Commissar Vanishes; another, similar, one is Art Under Stalin by Matthew Cullerne Bown). This practice was, of course, also present in all the various communist countries, from North Korea to East Germany. National Socialism, another leftist ideology, also had this outlook. To all of them, the existence and purpose of history, science, sports, art, theater, films was/is to glorify and justify the regime, particularly the current dictator. The only difference was that, for ideological reasons, (since History was deified and personified as being judgmental), the communists paid particular attention to history. You may remember that in 1984, the protagonist works in the Ministry of Truth, where past newspaper stories and historical facts are systematically eradicated and altered.

But one did not, or rather I should say, does not, have to travel to those dictatorships in order to witness the leftists’ attack on historical facts, not when they can do it right here at the local university, or on one’s television set, or in the nearby movie theater. You will almost certainly have come across such instances, though in all probability you did not pay particular attention to them, since I have noticed they are often uttered in passing (somewhat like intellectual drive-by shootings) during a conversation (and also because few Americans have a good knowledge of history, since it’s “useless”). Here, then, briefly, are a handful of historical distortions:

Columbus Carried Out Genocide

Christopher Columbus was the European explorer who discovered America. Although there is archaeological evidence that the Vikings were actually the first, their discovery was a dead end in many ways. Regardless, Columbus made four voyages of exploration in the New World and established a few primitive settlements. At no time did he engage in genocide or initiate harsh treatment of the natives. True, when he was once bedridden, his men attacked the natives, but it is often forgotten that Columbus had no control over his men; they often did whatever they wanted; although he was the admiral, the other ships’ captains would go their separate way (discipline was nonexistent in those days). He has even been accused of taking back 1,500 Indian slaves to Spain; anyone who believes that a tiny caravel could accommodate 1,500 slaves, on top of the crew, has never stepped foot on a caravel. I have.

Blankets Infected by Smallpox Were Given to Indians by the U.S. Cavalry

You have all heard of this and it is a lie. The only such incident on record occured in the 1760s during the French and Indian war, when British General Jeffrey Amherst presented a vicious gift of such blankets to the Miami tribe of Ohio. Fortunately for them, the Miamis had been previously exposed to smallpox and were immune.

Incidentally, a corollary of this is the additional myth that Native Americans were harmless, essentially an early version of the hippies, “being at one with Nature,” prancing through the woods. In truth, they practiced slavery, engaged in warfare, and in a few instances were successful at genocide of weaker, tribes. In short, they were ordinary people.

America Lost the Vietnam War, the First War it Ever Lost

This is usually told by a liberal with a gleam in the eye, relishing the “fact” that America was defeated, since their hate for their country is bottomless. The fact of the matter was that Nixon had a plan for "Vietnamizing" the Vietnam War, by steadily removing American forces, instead of having Americans bleed for the sake of South Vietnam. But in 1975, North Vietnam attacked the South in a minor battle on the border and some South Vietnamese units collapsed like a house of cards. The Republic of Vietnam might still have been saved by quick use of U.S. airpower, but congressional leftists elected in the wake of Watergate acted to forbid use of any American forces whatsoever.

Incidentally, the North Vietnamese Army’s back had been broken earlier in their all-out Tet offensive in 1968; thereafter, the NVA’s attacks were minor by comparison. The communists in the American media then declared the Tet victory an American defeat. Which may be why when Col. Harry G.Summers remarked to Le Duc Tho that: "You know, we never lost a battle in the field," the icy North Vietnamese commissar replied, "That is true, and it is irrelevant." Both campaigns were aimed at demoralizing the home front---and were successful.

The Nazis Were Right Wing

Yes, they were monsters, but they were hardly conservative. The National Socialist Workers Party took its Socialism very, very seriously. Socialism was implemented throughout the Third Reich (make sure to read David Schoenbaum’s eye opening Hitler's Social Revolution: Class and Status in Nazi Germany 1933-1939). The Horst Wessel song, the anthem of the National Socialists, blasts both the communists and the reactionaries. James Pool’s Who Financed Hitler shows that, far from receiving financial aid by industrialists in order to combat the German communists, as the myth has been propagated for decades (you saw Cabaret, right?), the Party was perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy. It is also a well-known fact that the aristocracy had barely concealed contempt for the Nazis and the army was itching to be let loose on the Brown Shirts and clean their clocks.

Nelson Mandela Ended Apartheid and Everybody Lived Happily Ever After

No, he did not. Frederik Willem de Klerk, the president of South Africa, ended Apartheid. Forget what a drooling Michelle Obama may have said. Mandela was simply a jailbird at the time.

As for living happily ever after, South Africa became overwhelmed by a tsunami of crime and the subsequent black politicians have engaged in corruption. As in the rest of Africa.

Armando Simón is a retired college professor and is the author of A Cuban from Kansas, Very Peculiar Stories and The U.

  




One tea party leader is still looking for answers from the IRS.

Lawyers for Lois Lerner, who resigned under fire as a division chief at the Internal Revenue Service, argue that more details of her reported targeting of tea party groups should not be revealed because her safety is in danger.

But Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to election integrity, said she wants to see such documentation released.

True the Vote was one of hundreds of conservative, nonprofit organizations whose applications for tax-exempt status were unfairly slowed or spiked by the IRS, and Engelbrecht said she intends to see the details come out.

“My position on this is just ‘Tell the truth,’” Engelbrecht said in an email to The Daily Signal. “Tell it publicly, there’s been enough covering up, there’s been enough rumor and innuendo, there’s been enough passing the buck.”

What an honor meeting @TrueTheVote founder Catherine Engelbrecht at #MCRW. Thanks for all you do! pic.twitter.com/mMoSXH7Mej

— Raquel Lewis (@raquellewis) April 29, 2017

Lerner and Holly Paz, another former IRS official involved in the scandal, recently filed papers in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, seeking to keep secret certain IRS practices they discussed in depositions taken in a lawsuit filed by tea party groups against the government.

Judge Michael R. Barrett said Thursday that information from Lerner and Paz may be kept confidential until he hears their case, The Washington Times reported.

Lerner and Paz said in the court papers that making public details about how IRS workers in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., “handled applications for tax-exempt status from tea party groups” could endanger their lives, USA Today reported.

Engelbrecht’s organization, which filed for tax-exempt status in 2010, was asked hundreds of questions by the IRS that she said “had nothing to do with nonprofit status..

After the IRS requested copies of speeches she had given and groups she had interacted with, Engelbrecht said in the interview, she had had enough.

“We finally sued them and are still in court with the IRS over viewpoint discrimination. The only way you can ever heal a problem is if you understand the root source,” Engelbrecht said.

But lawyers for Paz and Lerner said their testimony in out-of-court depositions should be kept private.

“This documentation, as the court will see, makes very personal references and contains graphic, profane, and disturbing language that would lead to unnecessary intrusion and embarrassment if made public,” the lawyers said in a court brief.

The lawyers added that “public dissemination of their deposition testimony would put their lives in serious jeopardy.”

“That is a stunning admission, that what they did is so egregiously wrong and so criminal that people might be very angry with them over it,” John Eastman, professor of law at Chapman University, told The Daily Signal in an interview. “That’s exactly why it’s important that this see that light of day."

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said the former IRS officials are making “a ridiculous claim” in the case, citing United States of America v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots et al

“The court should summarily dismiss this claim and order their immediate appearance,” von Spakovsky said of Lerner and Paz in an email to The Daily Signal.

The Daily Signal sought comment from the IRS, but did not receive a response.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a government watchdog organization, said he isn’t convinced that disclosure of the specific actions by IRS employees would be life threatening.

“It’s hard to know what the actual issues are without being able to review the briefs, so I think that is an important caveat,” Fitton told The Daily Signal in an interview, adding:

The principle is to err on the side of public disclosure, and certainly a portion of the transcripts that were under official duties and responsibilities, in my view, would be in the public interest to have available.

Any evidence filed should be made public, with sensitive personal information removed, Fitton said:

Well, the key is, this is a public court proceeding and these are senior government officials, so without discounting the concerns about personal safety I think any of those concerns can be mitigated to a sufficient extent so as to allow dissemination of material about what they were up to at the IRS.

The situation could play out several ways, Eastman said.

“There’s a motion for a protective order pending, and they’re arguing that the potential harm to Lois Lerner and Holly Paz exceeds anything we would learn in the discovery [of the IRS actions in question],” the law professor said.

Eastman said the threshold for issuing a protective order  is extremely high, but that a judge may decide, after depositions are taken, to make public only some parts.

Lerner and Paz’s circumstances, von Spakovsky said, are similar to many situations public figures face and shouldn’t be treated differently.

“All current and former public officials in Washington get nasty emails and offensive letters and social media tweets—including me,” Spakovsky said, adding:

If that were the criteria for excusing someone from testifying about their misbehavior while in office, then they would have the ready-made equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card—or in this case, getting out of testifying as they are legally obligated to do.

Rachel del Guidice is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program.

  



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