Category Archives: Ruling Class

Hillary Clinton Did It

The Russia-Trump collusion narrative of 2016 and beyond was a dirty trick for the ages, and now we know it came from the top—candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. That was the testimony Friday by 2016 Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook in federal court, and while this news is hardly a surprise, it’s still bracing to find her fingerprints on the political weapon.

Mr. Mook testified as a witness in special counsel John Durham’s trial of Michael Sussmann, the lawyer accused of lying to the FBI. In September 2016, Mr. Sussmann took claims of a secret Trump connection to Russia’s Alfa Bank to the FBI and said he wasn’t acting on behalf of any client. Prosecutors say he was working for the Clinton campaign.

Prosecutors presented evidence this week that Mr. Sussmann worked with cyber-researchers and opposition-research firm Fusion GPS to produce the claims on behalf of the Clinton campaign, and to feed them to the FBI. An FBI agent testified that a bureau analysis quickly rejected the claims as implausible. (Mr. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty.)

Prosecutors asked Mr. Mook about his role in funneling the Alfa Bank claims to the press. Mr. Mook admitted the campaign lacked expertise to vet the data, yet the decision was made by Mr. Mook, policy adviser Jake Sullivan (now President Biden’s national security adviser), communications director Jennifer Palmieri and campaign chairman John Podesta to give the Alfa Bank claims to a reporter. Mr. Mook said Mrs. Clinton was asked about the plan and approved it. A story on the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations then appeared in Slate, a left-leaning online publication.

On Oct. 31, 2016, Mr. Sullivan issued a statement mentioning the Slate story, writing, “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow.” Mrs. Clinton tweeted Mr. Sullivan’s statement with the comment: “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.” “Apparently” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.

In short, the Clinton campaign created the Trump-Alfa allegation, fed it to a credulous press that failed to confirm the allegations but ran with them anyway, then promoted the story as if it was legitimate news. The campaign also delivered the claims to the FBI, giving journalists another excuse to portray the accusations as serious and perhaps true.

Most of the press will ignore this news, but the Russia-Trump narrative that Mrs. Clinton sanctioned did enormous harm to the country. It disgraced the FBI, humiliated the press, and sent the country on a three-year investigation to nowhere. Vladimir Putin never came close to doing as much disinformation damage.


A Warning From Shanghai – by Jay Bhattacharya

A new California bill threatens to strip doctors of their medical licenses for saying things the state doesn’t like. We don’t have to imagine what that would look like.

by Jay Bhattacharya
A staff member disinfects a temporary hospital in the National Exhibition and Convention Center Shanghai on April 8, 2022. (Photo by Jin Liwang/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Remember when we were told that China was a model for the world in controlling Covid? Sure, as a totalitarian state, it was able to weld people inside their homes and monitor its citizens via drone. But many in the West believed that such measures were necessary. They argued that the abandonment of personal liberty was an appropriate way to fight a respiratory virus.

Now Shanghai is the model for the terrifying dangers of giving dictatorial powers to public health officials. The harrowing situation unfolding there is a testament to the folly of a virus containment strategy that relies on lockdown. For two weeks, the Chinese government has locked nearly 25 million people in their homes, forcibly separated children from their parents, killed family pets, and limited access to food and life-saving medical care—all to no avail. Covid cases are still rising, yet the delusion of suppressing Covid persists.

In America, many of our officials still have not abandoned their delusions about Covid and the exercise of power this crisis has allowed. As the Shanghai debacle demonstrates, of all the many terrible consequences of our public health response to Covid, the stifling of dissenting scientific viewpoints by the state might be the most dangerous.

I would know: For the past two years I have been the target of a smear campaign aimed at demonizing those who dare to question official policy. Now, a proposed California law threatens to make such dissent career-ending by handing the state the power to strip medical licenses from doctors who disagree with government positions on Covid.

Before I get to this awful bill, let me explain what happened to me.

In October 2020, I, along with colleagues Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Martin Kulldorff, then of Harvard, issued an open letter called the Great Barrington Declaration. In it, we expressed deep concern about the damage caused by the international public health response to Covid through sweeping lockdowns, school shutdowns, business closures, and more.

We urged a nuanced approach that focused on protecting those most vulnerable to Covid—primarily the elderly and those with certain comorbidities—and returning to normal life those more harmed by lockdowns than by the disease.

Nearly a million people have signed our letter, including tens of thousands of doctors and scientists from over 40 countries. In other words, we were far from alone in our belief that this was the proper response to an unprecedented pandemic.

But the official response was swift and brutal.

Four days after we published the Great Barrington Declaration, Francis Collins, then director of the National Institutes of Health, wrote an email to Anthony Fauci calling the three of us “fringe epidemiologists.”  He called for a press “takedown” of us when an open discussion of our ideas would have been more productive. Big tech outlets like Facebook and Google followed suit, suppressing our ideas, falsely deeming them “misinformation.” I started getting calls from reporters asking me why I wanted to “let the virus rip,” when I had proposed nothing of the sort. I was the target of racist attacks and death threats.

Despite the false, defamatory and sometimes frightening attacks, we stood firm. And today many of our positions have been amply vindicated.  Yet the soul searching this episode should have caused among public health officials has largely failed to occur. Instead, the lesson seems to be: Dissent at your own risk.

I do not practice medicine—I am a professor specializing in epidemiology and health policy at Stanford Medical School. But many friends who do practice have told me how they have censored their thoughts about Covid lockdowns, vaccines, and recommended treatment to avoid the mob. Though Stanford is supposedly a bastion of academic freedom, one junior untenured professor recently wrote to me: “I have heard you several times on television regarding the Covid issue and find myself resonating with your views. I am inclined to express those very same opinions to my colleagues and administrative members at Stanford. I have been reluctant to date because quite honestly, I expect that my faculty appointment would not be renewed. I have the perception that free speech is just not there.”

This forced scientific groupthink—and the fear and self-censorship they produce—are bad enough. So far, though, the risk has been social and reputational. Now it could become literally career-ending.

According to California Assembly Bill 2098, physicians who deviate from an authorized set of beliefs would do so at risk to their medical license. The bill, written by Assemblyman Evan Low, a Democrat in Silicon Valley, and currently making its way through the California Legislature, is motivated by the idea that practicing doctors are spreading “misinformation” about the risks of Covid, its treatment, and the Covid vaccine. It declares that physicians and surgeons who “disseminate or promote misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19, including false or misleading information regarding the nature and risks of the virus, its prevention and treatment; and the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines” shall be subject to “disciplinary action,” which could result in the loss of the doctor’s medical license.

The language of the bill itself is intentionally vague about what constitutes “misinformation,” which makes it even more damaging. Doctors, fearing loss of their livelihoods, will need to hew closely to the government line on Covid science and policy, even if that line does not track the scientific evidence. After all, until recently, top government science bureaucrats like Dr. Fauci claimed that the idea that Covid came from a Wuhan laboratory was a conspiracy theory, rather than a valid hypothesis that should be open to discussion. The government’s track record on discerning Covid truths is poor.

The bill claims that the spread of misinformation by physicians about the Covid vaccines “has weakened public confidence and placed lives at serious risk.” But how significant is this problem in reality? Over 83% of Californians over the age of 50 are fully vaccinated (including the booster).

Because the Covid vaccines protect against severe disease and because older people face a thousand-fold higher risk of death from Covid infection, it is most important that older people be vaccinated. But there is simply no evidence that more older people would have been vaccinated had this bill been in place over the past two years.

What is abundantly clear is that this bill represents a chilling interference with the practice of medicine. The bill itself is full of misinformation and a demonstration of what a disaster it would be to have the legislature dictate the practice of medicine.

For starters, it fails to note that people who have contracted Covid—by now a considerable number of Californians—already have substantial protection against severe disease if they get Covid again. High quality studies have shown that this “natural immunity” provides equivalent or even greater protection than immunity generated by Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines. If this bill passes, would a California physician be in trouble for taking into account a patient’s Covid history when making vaccination recommendations?

Another statement in the bill’s preamble asserts that the “safety and efficacy of Covid vaccines have been confirmed through evaluation by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” But vaccine safety also depends on any given patient’s clinical circumstances. For example, there is an elevated risk of myocarditis in young men taking the vaccine, especially with the booster.

The bill directs the California state licensing board to impose disciplinary penalties, which could result in the loss of a medical license, on physicians who disseminate “misinformation.” A loss of a license would be career-ending for doctors who spend their lives caring for patients. But since the examples cited in the bill are themselves misleading, even physicians who practice medicine responsibly or give public presentations grounded in solid scientific research on the evolving Covid science may face unjust license suspensions.

The ultimate effect of the bill will be to chill public criticism by California doctors of mistaken government public health diktats since few will want to put their licenses in the hands of the very public health officials with whom they disagree over the interpretation of science. Even legitimate dissent from public health orthodoxy by licensed doctors may be excised from the public square as a consequence. Worse, the widespread distrust Americans now have in public health institutions will only deteriorate further.

And that’s to say nothing of the impact this bill would have on the practice of medicine. Doctors have an obligation to treat each patient as an individual. Yet the California Assembly bill turns doctors into agents of state public health rather than advocates for their patients.

History provides abundant examples of what happens when the state regulates science. In the former Soviet Union, Stalin’s favorite geneticist, Trofim Lysenko, dominated biology and the agricultural sciences. Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of his own theory that plants could inherit acquired characteristics. Stalin empowered him to destroy the careers and lives of geneticists who opposed him, causing many to suffer secret arrests and even death. When his theories failed, the consequence was mass starvation in Russia. The Chinese Communists also adopted his beliefs—at the cost of the starvation of 30 million.

We are not the Soviet Union, of course, nor are we ruled by Chinese Communists. California lawmakers thankfully do not have the power currently being exercised in Shanghai. But this bill follows the same dangerous principle that government-authorized science should permit no opposition from people with the credentials and knowledge to oppose it. The false medical consensus enforced by AB 2098 will lead doctors to censor themselves to avoid government sanction. And it will be their patients, above all, who will be harmed by their silence.


Biden’s Folly in Ukraine

Biden’s Folly in Ukraine

April 5, 2022| By Douglas Macgregor

Americans find it difficult to determine whether the Biden administration’s policy decisions regarding Ukraine are the product of a deliberate strategy, extraordinary incompetence, or some combination of both. Threatening Russia, a nuclear armed power, with regime change and then annunciating a nuclear weapons policy that allows for the United States’ first-strike use of nuclear weapons under “extreme circumstances”—responding to an invasion by conventional forces, or chemical or biological attacks—suggests President Biden and his administration really are out of touch with reality.

American voters instinctively grasp the truth that Americans have nothing to gain from a war with Russia, declared or undeclared. A short trip to almost any supermarket or gas station in America explains why. Last week, inflation hit its highest point in nearly 40 years and gas prices have skyrocketed since the conflict in Ukraine began.

Thanks to the Western media’s non-stop dissemination of unfavorable images of Russia’s leaders and its military, it would appear that President Biden is able to espouse any narrative that suits his purpose. Obscuring the true origins of this tragic conflict, however—NATO’s eastward expansion to include Ukraine—cannot alter strategic reality. Moscow can no more lose the war with Ukraine than Washington could lose a war with Mexico.

Ukraine’s proximity to Russia gives Moscow unconstrained and immediate access to Russia’s reserves of military manpower, equipment, and firepower. Notwithstanding Moscow’s determination to avoid unnecessary collateral damage to Ukraine’s population and infrastructure, Russian Air and Ground Forces are at liberty to methodically destroy Ukrainian resistance in detail.

Russia’s commodity-based economy, with its abundance of food, energy, minerals, and other resources, creates enormous strategic depth for Moscow on the Eurasian landmass. These resources make Moscow Beijing’s natural strategic partner, thus securing Moscow’s Asian border. Moscow’s role in stabilizing Central Asia also makes Russian strength indispensable for the success of China’s Belt and Road Initiative rooted as it is in the historical Silk Road, linking the economies of East Asia to Europe, Africa, and the Near East.

At the same time, Washington’s frequent use of financial sanctions have severely weakened, if not wrecked trust in the U.S. led global financial system. It is far more likely that countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa will either bypass sanctions to buy discounted Russian and Belorussian commodities or simply refuse to enforce them.

To minimize the impact of financial sanctions imposed by Washington and the European Union, Russia began “de-dollarizing” its economy years ago. Unburdened by the kind of odious sovereign debt that plagues Washington, Moscow has been able to stabilize the ruble with interest rate increases, and links to gold reserves. Now, de-dollarization is spreading. China, India, and Saudi Arabia are introducing de-dollarization policies as an anti-sanction measure. Saudi Arabia’s offer to sell oil in Chinese yuan raises real questions about the future of the petrodollar.

Despite Japan’s public display of solidarity with Washington, Tokyo really made its bed with Eurasia when Tokyo signed on to membership in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Program (RCEP), the world’s largest trade bloc. Predictably, Tokyo already declared it will not ban Russian oil and natural gas imports and Japan will continue to work with Russia on important joint economic projects.

Europeans breathed a huge sigh of relief on April 1, when the Russian Government announced that Moscow will not cut off sales to European buyers of Russian natural gas, as long as buyers set up accounts with Gazprombank, where payments in foreign currency will be converted to rubles. Still, Europeans will soon have to decide whether to reject trade and cooperation with governments in Eurasia that resist Western liberalism, with its universalist pretensions, or confront the specter of civil unrest at home.

Russia’s enormous share of energy and food in European and global markets always meant war between Russia and Ukraine would be a nightmare scenario. It was no surprise when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned on April 2 of the serious worldwide consequences of the Russian war in Ukraine, saying, “We must ensure that this war comes to an end quickly.”

Scholz is right. Price surges in energy and food will now lead to expanded drilling for oil and gas around the world, as well as increased farming for wheat, barley, and corn outside of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. But these actions will not compensate for the looming structural commodity deficits or supply chain problems affecting fertilizer and metals.

Washington’s ruling class has a long record of misjudging strategic reality. Seeking to advance NATO through Ukraine to Russia’s western border may well be the worst blunder in American foreign policy since the end of World War II, but Washington learns nothing and remembers nothing. After the defeat of Anglo-French military power in June 1940, the combined power of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and Imperial Japan was unassailable. Had the three remained in alliance, neither Washington, nor any combination of powers, could have challenged them for decades.

President Biden and Washington’s uniparty are fostering the domination of the Eurasian landmass by a collective arrangement of the world’s leading economic powers including Russia, China, India, Japan, Central and Southeast Asia, thereby restoring the strategic condition Washington feared in 1940. American voters would prefer that Washington focus on shoring up American economic prosperitycontrolling inflation and restoring the rule of law, not war with Russia.

President Biden would be wise to follow Scholz’s example and work to end the dangerous conflict in Ukraine. Even so, for the indefinite future the use of U.S. military power in the Eastern Hemisphere will now involve the potential for war with more than one first-class power in more than one region of the world at a time. Well done, Mr. President.

Douglas Macgregor, Col. (ret.) is a senior fellow with The American Conservative, the former advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration, a decorated combat veteran, and the author of five books.