AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
As the Democratic Party continues lurching to the far left, there are at least four groups of traditional Democrat supporters who should do some soul searching and ask themselves whether today’s Democratic Party and candidates still deserve their votes, given the rhetoric they are hearing and the direction the party is going.
Source: Real Clear Politics
In multiple settings, we are seeing a trend toward narrowing the scope of opinions allowed in the public arena. Heading into high school and college commencement season, a rising tide of ideological censorship is drowning out diversity of opinion. And academia leads the way in defining acceptable thought.
This means that as the number of “disinvitations” for conservative speakers piles up, the idea that speech equates to violence is gaining purchase. Silencing different viewpoints is not only growing on campuses, it’s also spreading to the tech world and the corporate arena.
This week Google censored the Claremont Institute, a highly regarded conservative think tank with a 40-year track record of defending American founding principles such as freedom of speech and religion. Claremont recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of illiberal speech codes and their threat to freedom; at the same time, the institute started online advertising for its upcoming anniversary dinner.
Apparently not recognizing the absurdity of censoring an organization for writing about censorship, Google shut down the ads and told Claremont there would be “no appeal.” Claremont’s offense? The discussion of multiculturalism and speech codes on its website.
Eventually, Google relented. But only after Claremont went public did Google back down and acknowledge a “mistake.”
But this “mistake” isn’t an isolated incident. This censorship episode comes right on the heels of a similar one aimed at the president of the Heritage Foundation, Kay Coles James. In April, Google formed – and then within a week disbanded — an advisory committee related to its work on artificial intelligence. It said the panel was intended to bring “diverse perspectives” to bear on issues in this rapidly evolving area of innovation and invited James to serve on it.
Mrs. James is by any measure a proven leader, having served at the highest levels of government, academia and the nonprofit sector. She also established the Gloucester Institute to train and mentor young black leaders, and has a career marked by explicitly defending the human dignity of every individual.
But James is also conservative. And so a band of five Google employees began circulating a petition calling for her ouster.
Ironically, the petition cited the need for the AI panel to address “historical patterns of discrimination and exclusion.” If anyone knows discrimination and exclusion, it’s James, who suffered verbal and physical abuse as she helped desegregate a middle school in the South as a teen.
Doubling down on the irony, the petition lamented that AI “doesn’t ‘hear’ more feminine voices, and doesn’t ‘see’ women of color.” Still, because Mrs. James holds some policy views that differ from theirs, she was deemed not to have a “valid perspective worthy of inclusion.”
The Googlers refused to see her, or hear her, in her own voice. That’s discrimination and exclusion in action. The takeaway message is clear: Diversity means agreeing with us. Disagreeing with us is intolerance and even “violence.”
As a civil society, we are careening toward ideological balkanization. This trend of labeling opinions with which we disagree as dangerous and hateful threatens Americans’ foundational freedoms. Charges of dangerous speech are laid as an exercise in bullying and raw power.
This tide of bigotry and intimidation is not limited to America. The noted English philosopher and public intellectual Sir Roger Scruton was recently fired from a government housing commission after being accused of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic comments. The charges were leveled after a lengthy interview with The New Statesman.
For three weeks, while Scruton was being pilloried, the paper refused to release the tape of the interview. But Douglas Murray of National Review Institute obtained a copy of the tape and forced the paper to release a transcript. Not surprisingly, Scruton’s actual words did not match the reported description. But he has not been reinstated.
Make no mistake, once the totalitarian impulse is tolerated, and cloaked in sanctimony, its targets will be far-ranging. And, well, diverse.
For example, a group of students at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia launched a protest against the noted feminist scholar and tenured professor Camille Paglia. Like Google, they began a petition demanding that Paglia be fired and replaced by a “queer person of color.” Notably, Paglia is a lesbian who has described herself as transgender. Yet the protesters charged her with making “dangerous” comments about people who identify as transgendered.
The only actual comment cited in the petition—“I question whether the transgender choice is genuine in every single case”— is a heavily caveated statement, and yet the campus censors still labeled her views unacceptable.
With this cultural creep toward oppression, we are losing something that has been essential to the core of the American identity. To his credit, the president of the University of the Arts, David Yager, responded to the Paglia controversy by stating: “I firmly believe that limiting the range of voices in society erodes our democracy.”
This is a critical point: If valuing diversity and pluralism is to have any meaning, we cannot label opinions with which we disagree as “discrimination” as a way of silencing someone with a different viewpoint.
Affirming a robust interpretation of the First Amendment and freedom of speech will sometimes require uncomfortable conversations. But living with — even valuing — this kind of discomfort is part of the American DNA and is at the heart of respect and civility.
We can do better. We may be advancing rapidly in artificial intelligence, but we are regressing toward artificial freedoms.
Source: Real Clear Politics
A huge controversy erupted last year when President Trump declassified parts of the FBI’s secret request to wiretap former Trump campaign volunteer foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Defenders and critics of the president argued over whether the October 2016 warrant application to the Foreign…
Source: Real Clear Politics
AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File
As the China trade talks apparently have stalled, we would do well to remember what a very real part about this struggle with Beijing is about: it’s not just trade and jobs, but about who will control the technology of the future.
Source: Real Clear Politics
Nadia Neophytou says Caster Semenya is a hero who has brought a much-needed burst of energy to women’s running. But Semenya’s fight with international officials about her testosterone levels isn’t about that, says Neophytou. It’s an issue of human rights.
Source: Real Clear Politics
In an era of increasing political divisiveness, what threat could possibly unite radical feminists and Christian women conservatives? Clearly this is a historic and momentous occasion when women on the left and right have put aside differences to come together on behalf of all women. The Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) and Concerned Women for America (CWA) recently joined hands to oppose the misnamed and insidious Equality Act.
It’s true that we disagree about many (maybe even most) issues. But there is no doubt that American women are in jeopardy of losing hard-fought-for rights.
The Equality Act just passed the House Judiciary Committee last week, and it threatens to erase protections for women — protections that benefit women and society as a whole. Legislative and policy “reforms” proposed in this dangerous bill will lead to blatant violations of our safety, privacy, and dignity.
Under this bill, men and boys will take away women’s small business grants and hard-won spots on sports teams; they will be allowed to live in women’s domestic violence shelters and use our locker rooms. And united as women, we are just not going to stand for it.
If you doubt the seriousness (and absurdity) of this situation, read what has already happened in Washington state, as just one example. In 2012, Colleen Francis was a 45-year old student at The Evergreen State College. Francis who identifies as a woman, but has male genitalia, has used the Evergreen women’s locker room.
High school students and other minors also use Evergreen’s pool and locker rooms, and Francis was completely naked in the locker room sauna when teenage girls practicing for their high school swim team saw him and reported him to their coach. The female coach confronted Francis and asked him to leave.
Was Francis discouraged from exposing his adult naked male body to underage girls in a public facility supported by tax dollars? Were the teenage girls congratulated and encouraged to continue exercising good judgement, affirmed in their power to set boundaries about who can inhabit or expose themselves in a female-only locker room?
No. The result was that everyone had to apologize to Francis — who is “female” on paper but male in the flesh.
Francis was the victim of harassment, not the girls. The police did not arrest Francis for indecent exposure, nor did the local district attorney bring charges.
Based on the school’s non-discrimination policy, Francis was simply doing what every other woman using the facilities had the right to do. Officially, there was no crime of indecent exposure, in spite of the fact that there was a naked man in the women’s locker room.
This insanity being endured by women in Washington state is poised to be federalized in the form of the “Equality” Act. While Christian conservative women speaking against this legislation may not be shocking to anyone, the fact that radical feminists and lesbians are joining voices with them should be a wake-up call. Women have fought for decades for a fair and equal place in society, and we will work together to defend all women threatened by this misplaced idea of political correctness.
Female athletes are particularly vulnerable. Take the case of a man who identifies as a woman who won the women’s state U.S. Powerlifting Association Championship in the “non-drug tested category.” He set new women’s state records along the way (what a shocker), and lifted 150 pounds more than Rebecca Richnofsky (another shocker) — beating the “woman who deserved to be champion.”
Rebecca had to settle for second. And the examples go on and on.
Martina Navratilova’s tweet (deleted after she was called “transphobic”) could not make the solution clearer: “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”
Young women in states around the nation are bullied into silence as young men take their trophies and ruin their chances of college scholarships. Even a respected and powerful voice in the professional sporting world like Navratilova has lost professional affiliations and endured much criticism for her stand for women and girls.
If the Equality Act succeeds in making “gender identity” a protected class under federal law, it will erase the protected category of “sex,” which for decades has been the foundation for securing the rights and opportunities of women and girls in the United States. Under a policy of unrestricted self-identification of “sex,” such as the act proposes, a man can simply say he is a woman, and everyone must act as if this is true.
Nothing in this bill outlines medical conditions, social processes, or steps that must be taken for an individual to be legally recognized as another sex. In fact, any conditions are seen as discriminatory. For a male who identifies as female, he doesn’t even have to change his name, the way he dresses, or see a doctor or counselor. If the Equality Act passes, he’ll also be able to sue you for violating his civil rights if you persist in seeing him for the man that he is.
Perhaps members of Congress don’t understand that the Equality Act would allow biological men to be free from prosecution for indecent exposure or harassment simply by claiming to be women. Perhaps they ignore the many female athletes who are losing hard-won competitions to transgender men. Or, perhaps, like many of their fellow Americans, they just see “gender identity” as a new way to be nice and haven’t thought deeply about the consequences to women and girls.
Or maybe the simplest and most likely explanation is that those promoting the Equality Act, LGBT Inc. and the members of Congress who support it, don’t think very much about the rights, privacy and safety of women and girls at all.
Pay attention to the powerful message conveyed by our united purpose in opposing this bill. Simply put: If Americans, activist organizations, and our representatives in government genuinely want to prevent discrimination against women and girls, they cannot erase the legal recognition of sex as biologically male and female. As women, CWA and WoLF stand united to protect ourselves and all women and girls from the injustice of the so-called Equality Act.
Source: Real Clear Politics
As the Mueller report and its aftermath dominated the headlines once again this week, it can seem at times like the media have featured uninterrupted, almost wall-to-wall coverage of the issue for the last two months. But has that been the case? Specifically, how have two other major stories, the Notre Dame fire and the Sri Lanka terror attacks, compared in terms of media attention?
The timeline below shows the percentage of airtime by day on CNN over the last two months that mentioned “Mueller” or “Sri Lanka” or “Notre Dame,” using data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive processed by the GDELT Project. It is assumed that any mention of Sri Lanka or Notre Dame on CNN during this period will refer to the terror attack and cathedral fire, respectively.
Perhaps most strikingly, despite almost 300 killed and several hundred more wounded, the Sri Lankan terror attacks peaked at just 60 percent of the attention the Mueller report received that day. In short, a massive terror attack on Easter Sunday wasn’t enough to fully pry CNN’s focus away from Mueller.
Notably, the Notre Dame fire, in which no civilians were injured, received almost double the attention of the Sri Lankan attack. The Parisian cathedral blaze managed to briefly edge out the Mueller report for a single day, but even it was no match for the media juggernaut that has become the special counsel’s findings.
Looking to Fox News, despite the channel steadily decreasing its Mueller coverage, the Sri Lanka and Notre Dame stories still failed to garner substantial coverage, though the stories were slightly closer to each other.
MSNBC might well be renamed the Mueller Network. Its near-saturation special counsel coverage left it little time to cover the story of hundreds killed and wounded halfway across the world, while even a famous tourist landmark burning in the heart of Paris was of minor importance compared to the latest Mueller developments.
Worldwide online news coverage, as monitored by GDELT across 65 languages, looks very different. Here, mentions of Notre Dame were required to also contain the word “fire” while mentions of Sri Lanka were required to include either “attack” or “terror” or “terrorist” or “terrorists” or “bombing” or “death.”
Notre Dame received the most attention over the same timeline, followed by the Sri Lankan attack. The latter actually received considerably more attention globally than the Mueller report up until April 30.
Finally, looking at U.S. web searches as captured by Google Trends, it is clear that the general public seems to have little interest in the Mueller story. Notre Dame received five times as many searches as Sri Lanka, which in turn received double that of Mueller at its peak. In fact, looking more closely, the public’s relative search interest in the three stories far more closely mirrors online news coverage than that of television news.
Putting this all together, it is not your imagination: The continuing saga of the Mueller report has indeed dominated the airwaves over the past two months. Even hundreds being killed and wounded in an Easter Sunday terror attack wasn’t enough to budge the news channels’ fixation, nor was the burning of a famous landmark. MSNBC’s continued focus on the special counsel investigation is considerably larger than that of CNN and Fox News. Global online media unsurprisingly paid far more attention to the Sri Lanka and Notre Dame stories, though the international impact of the Mueller report is seen in its global attention.
In the end, however, Google Trends reminds us that the public has largely moved on from Mueller, suggesting perhaps it is time for the media to find its next major story.
Source: Real Clear Politics
Senator Bernie Sanders has been championing socialist ideas since at least the 1970s when he voiced support for extreme regulations on private businesses. Today, his socialist leanings are even more apparent.
Sanders recently introduced a revamped “Medicare for All” health plan that would nearly eliminate the private health insurance system. It’s evident this plan—like other similar ones—would devastate our economy and harm the very Americans it’s intended to help.
On the surface, socialist policies may seem promising, but a deeper dive into the details proves otherwise—notably the lack of economic know-how. For example, in the case of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan, there’s not even a specific price tag.
Thankfully, others have investigated the issue. The left-leaning Urban Institute estimates that Medicare for All would cost $3.87 trillion annually; the right-leaning Mercatus Center estimates such a plan would cost $3.46 trillion.Across the political spectrum, level-headed people can clearly see that Medicare for All would not come cheap.
A separate document released by Sanders outlines proposals that could help cover the cost, including raising taxes on the middle class and slapping a new fee on large financial institutions. But it’s unclear how even major tax increases and reforms could pay for such a program without crippling the economy—especially considering the added cost would nearly double the current federal budget.
It’s evident the plan would put the current robust economy in the crosshairs—threatening the major progress made since the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as well as efforts to reduce regulations. Such changes have led to record low unemployment rates, the quickest wage growth in a decade and strong job creation.
However, not only would businesses and individuals suffer under higher taxes if Sanders’ proposal became reality, the elimination of free-market incentives that control costs and promote high-quality care would destabilize the system and accelerate price increases. The outcome would be skyrocketing health care costs that would inevitably end-up in the lap of the American taxpayer.
This isn’t to say the current health care system is problem-free. But the solution should be to inject more choice and competition into the system, not less. Because as many know from Econ 101, when businesses are competing for consumer dollars and people are free to choose the “best” option, everyone benefits.
Potential improvements include the expansion of association health plans (AHPs)—which allow small businesses to join together and access a wider variety of health care options. Another avenue to pursue is to allow Americans to purchase health plans across state lines—a measure that would further broaden choice.
Even the Nordic countries that are often pointed to as examples of socialist success stories don’t go so far as to dismantle the entire private health insurance industry. And while universal coverage is required in countries like Switzerland, citizens still pay premiums and have a wide array of plans and insurance companies to choose from. In other words, Sanders’ plan is not only out of the mainstream for America, it’s more radical than universal coverage systems found around the world.
Going into the 2020 election, a radical Medicare for All proposal may help gain partisan voter support, but as a serious policy proposal, Americans should recognize that such a plan would lead to massive tax hikes and deal a crippling blow to our red-hot economy. Though there are problems with the current health care system, Sanders’ medicine is worse than the disease.
Elaine Parker is the president of the Job Creators Network Foundation.
Source: Real Clear Politics
Health care can be especially complicated – Veterans Health, TRICARE, Medicare Parts B and D, hospital billing, open enrollment, Obamacare, insurance co-pays, Medicaid reimbursement, generics, patents, and on and on. President Trump recognized this complexity early in his term when he noted in frustration the “big league” density of the nation’s health laws.
The president is right. The regulations, rules, and laws that govern our health system are byzantine. However, the cause for America’s high drug prices is as simple as the rest of the health system is complicated.
The Europeans and Canadians (as well as the rest of the world) are free-riding on the back of American medical innovators. European countries and Canada – our trading allies – impede access and set artificially low prices for prescription medicines. If U.S. companies refuse to acquiesce on prices, these foreign governments threaten to steal their patents by using compulsory licensing. It’s that simple: Europe and Canada refuse to pay their fair share forcing Americans to pay more.
Americans pay the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. In 2016, U.S. spending on pharmaceuticals totaled more than $450 billion – a rate that’s two to six times higher than the world average.
The reason boils down to “compulsory licensing.” As the World Trade Organization explains, this is when “a government allows someone else to produce a patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner or plans to use the patent-protected invention itself.” These foreign governments put U.S. biopharmaceutical companies in a proverbial “gun-to-the-head” situation – i.e., sell us the drugs at the bogus price we demand, or don’t and we’ll just take it.
In his 2018 State of the Union speech, President Trump affirmed that one of his highest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs:
“In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.”
The president has done what few elected officials actually do. He’s governing as he said he would during the campaign – from moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem to pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal to enacting tax cuts and forging new trade agreements. So, what is he to do about the injustice of foreign governments forcing American patients to pay the highest drug prices in the world?
The answer is two-fold:
The United States must crack down on European/Canadian/foreign government freeloading by taking the threat of compulsory licensing off the table. If a government threatens American intellectual property rights, the administration must respond in kind. The world already knows full well that President Trump’s “big guns” on trade policy are sanctions and tariffs. And contrary to what the media has reported, he’s winning on trade: In March, China offered lower farm, chemical, and auto tariffs in response to Trump’s “America First” trade policy. It’s past time to bring the “big guns” to the drug pricing crisis.
The president must hold America’s bio-pharmaceutical industry accountable by admonishing them to stop selling their medicines abroad at artificially low prices. He must use his bully pulpit to persuade America’s drug companies to stop playing victim and start playing hardball … and let them know he’ll have their back.
President Trump’s instincts are right when it comes to this issue. The question is: What will he do? Will he go the way of “The Swamp,” or accomplish what’s necessary — what previous administrations have failed to do? Thus far, the president has given mixed signals. For instance, while he gets it right on reconstructing our trade policy to better protect America’s economic interests and intellectual property rights, he gets it wrong when he rails against U.S. drug companies and calls for “safe” importation of drugs from Canada.
“We want our drugs to be made here. When you talk prescription drugs, we don’t like getting them from foreign countries. We don’t know what’s happening with those drugs – how they’re being made.”
Even though both political parties agree that Americans are paying too much for their medications, very little has been done over the past two decades to solve the problem. President George W. Bush had a Republican Congress, yet his administration did little to bring market reform to the crisis of rising prices. Though President Barack Obama enjoyed a Democratic supermajority for the first two years of his first term, he squandered this opportunity to address rising drug costs. Instead, Democrats leveraged their majority to jam through Obamacare.
The Trump administration has been pressing foreign governments to stop pilfering our intellectual property. Now is the time for the president to do more than merely challenge our trading partners to open up their markets to America’s biopharmaceutical industry. It’s time to ratchet up the pressure and put America first, i.e., bring in the “big guns” to force Europe and Canada to pay their fair share for prescription medicines.
In April 2018, the Office of the United States Trade Representative issued its 2018 Special 301 Report, including a new section highlighting barriers to access within the biopharmaceutical market. The report details the myriad obstacles America’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology innovators are forced to confront in countries around the world, including our largest trading partners, such as Canada. These barriers to market and threats to intellectual property are the key drivers of high costs here in the United States.
The USTR report states:
“In order to promote affordable healthcare for Americans and the innovation to preserve access to the cutting-edge cures and therapies, USTR has been engaging with trading partners to ensure that U.S. owners of IP have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their IP.”
The report also makes clear that the Trump administration is working to “ensure robust IP systems and reduce market access barriers to pharmaceutical products and medical devices.” The goal? To ensure “trading partners contribute their fair share to the research and development of new cures and therapies.”
Perhaps most importantly, the report highlights the administration’s concerns regarding unfair uses of compulsory licenses — i.e., foreign governments stealing patents from America’s biopharmaceutical companies. It’s the threat of compulsory licensing that forces American companies to sell their products at price-controlled levels in foreign markets, which, again, drives up costs for Americans. The reason why drugs are so cheap in Canada, for instance, is because if an American company refuses to sell its medicine in Canada at the artificially set, government-mandated price, the Canadian government will just take the patent.
President Trump’s resetting of trade policy is the key to making prescriptions in the U.S. more affordable. But legalizing drug importation would be a big mistake – importing artificially set drug prices will hurt patients and stifle medical progress.
First, importation would indirectly impose price controls on the U.S. drug market, undermining medical progress and limiting innovation — slowing the pace for new cures. Second, counterfeiting of drugs has exploded over the last 10 years making importing prescription medicines extremely dangerous. America’s opioid crisis is largely driven by drug dealers targeting American patients — particularly those suffering from cancer. There are enormous amounts of counterfeit fentanyl and other imposter medications flooding across our southern border. Importation would only make the crisis worse.
With the USTR’s 2018 Special 301 Report, the Trump administration is showing a bipartisan way forward on drug prices. President Trump could accomplish what both Presidents Bush and Obama failed to do: put forward a bipartisan effort by leveraging trade agreements to help Americans get greater access to the medicines they need at prices they can afford.
The right medicine at the right price at the right time. This is good health care policy that all sides can support.
Source: Real Clear Politics
You wouldn’t know it from the hysteria emanating from Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with William Barr–desperate presidential candidates competing for the most outlandish accusation; Sen. Hirono jumping more sharks than may exist in her native Hawaii–but the ship has already sailed on the Mueller/Russia probe.
Source: Real Clear Politics