All Your Data Belongs to DOJ: Amy Peikoff Analysis of FTC Facebook Settlement

Writes Amy:

What follows is an excerpted and annotated version of the FTC’s “Stipulated Order” representing its “Settlement” with Facebook. It’s dated July 24. I’m giving you the lowlights, as I see them, plus my “translations.” If you like, and if you have a strong stomach, I invite you to read the whole order here.

Link: FTC-Facebook “Settlement”: All your data are belong to DOJ


Rand Was Right to Testify Against Hollywood Communism

Writes Elan Journo on Why Rand Was Right to Testify Against Hollywood Communism:

In 1947, during what some call the “McCarthy Era,” Ayn Rand was asked to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on the influence of Communism in Hollywood. She appeared as a “friendly witness.” The standard verdict on these hearings, and on Rand’s participation, is unequivocal condemnation: The hearings were an inquisition that destroyed the careers of “blacklisted” filmmakers, ruined lives, and trampled the First Amendment. And the “friendly witnesses,” such as Rand, who testified voluntarily, were guilty of abetting an anti-Communist witch hunt.

The only problem with this standard assessment is that it’s totally wrong.

Journo also notes:

While the HUAC hearings are sometimes placed in the “McCarthy Era” — tarring Rand and other participants with the accusation of “McCarthyism” — this is factually wrong. Sen. Joseph McCarthy had no part in HUAC, which was formed in 1938; Ayn Rand testified in 1947. McCarthy began his investigations in 1950 and focused on Communist penetration, not of Hollywood, but of the US government.

Furthermore, while Rand was no admirer of McCarthy or his methods, she identified early on that the term “McCarthyism” was an illegitimate concept coined as a deliberate smear. Its alleged meaning, she wrote, was “unjust accusations, persecutions, and character assassinations of innocent victims.” But its real meaning, she argued, was “Anti-Communism,” with the aim of discrediting as necessarily unjust and irrational any uncompromising opposition to Communism.

Link:  Why Rand Was Right to Testify Against Hollywood Communism New Ideal

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Democrats Denounce Obamacare Tax Provision — That they Created

From House Votes to Repeal Obamacare Tax Once Seen as Key to Health Law – The New York Times:

In the heat of the legislative fight over the Affordable Care Act, Obama administration officials argued that including a steep tax on high-cost health insurance plans would hold down soaring costs by prompting employers to rein in such plans and force employees to spend more of their own money on their care.


On Wednesday, that feature, once considered central to Obamacare, was dealt a blow by an unlikely foe: Democrats.


The House voted almost unanimously to repeal the tax, not only a key cost-containment provision in Barack Obama’s signature health law but also one of the main ways it was supposed to pay for itself.


The tax is supposed to take effect in 2022, after being delayed twice. But the overwhelming vote in the House — 419 to 6, with only three Democrats opposed — increased the likelihood that it never does. Indeed, the debate on the House floor was striking, with one Democrat after another denouncing the provision as if Democrats had nothing to do with its creation.


But for Democrats, a key constituency is demanding repeal — organized labor. For decades, unions found it easier to bargain for richer benefits than higher wages, producing labor-sponsored health plans that now could face the tax.

On Monday, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., which represents more than 12 million workers, sent a letter to House members saying the tax was “driving employers to hollow out the health care benefits they provide, making medical care less affordable and creating serious access barriers for millions of workers.”


Dershowitz: Mueller’s Suggestion That Trump Might Be Guilty is Non-Objective

Alan Dershowitz, a former Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School, has penned a scathing editorial on Robert Mueller’s comment that “if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”

As a prosecutor Mueller is not in a position to determine guilt or innocence — that decision “requires a full adversarial trial with a zealous defense attorney, vigorous cross examination, exclusionary rules of evidence and other due process safeguards.

According to Dershowitz “prosecutors can only conclude whether there is sufficient evidence to commence a prosecution.”

Writes Dershowitz in The Hill:

By putting his thumb, indeed his elbow, on the scale of justice in favor of impeachment based on obstruction of justice, Mueller has revealed his partisan bias. He also has distorted the critical role of a prosecutor in our justice system.

….No responsible prosecutor should ever suggest that the subject of his investigation might indeed be guilty even if there was insufficient evidence or other reasons not to indict

….federal investigations by prosecutors, including special counsels, are by their very nature one-sided. They hear only evidence of guilt and not exculpatory evidence. Their witnesses are not subject to the adversarial process. There is no cross examination. The evidence is taken in secret behind the closed doors of a grand jury. For that very reason, prosecutors can only conclude whether there is sufficient evidence to commence a prosecution. They are not in a position to decide whether the subject of the investigation is guilty or is innocent of any crimes.

That determination of guilt or innocence requires a full adversarial trial with a zealous defense attorney, vigorous cross examination, exclusionary rules of evidence and other due process safeguards. Such safeguards were not present in this investigation, and so the suggestion by Mueller that Trump might well be guilty deserves no credence.

No prosecutor should ever say or do anything for the purpose of helping one party or the other. I cannot imagine a plausible reason why Mueller went beyond his report and gratuitously suggested that President Trump might be guilty, except to help Democrats in Congress and to encourage impeachment talk and action. Shame on Mueller for abusing his position of trust and for allowing himself to be used for such partisan advantage. [Dershowitz: Shame on Robert Mueller for exceeding his role | The Hill]

His new book is “The Case Against the Democratic House Impeaching Trump.


Crawford: “Natural Resources” Are Anything But

Writes Jason Crawford on One man’s junk in his insightful Roots of Progress blog:

“Natural resources” are anything but.

I have said this before in the sense that everything we get from nature comes in an inconvenient form: metals must be extracted from their ores; grain must be milled or threshed and the wheat separated from its chaff; crude oil must be refined into its constituent weights.

But the more philosophical point is that all resources are the product of the human mind. A “natural” resource is only a resource at all in the context of a particular technology. It is only a resource to someone who can look at it and understand its use and value. And it is only a resource to someone who has the technology and the capital to extract it from its environment and put it to that use.

You can see this in the stories of the early development of industries.

Crawford then goes on to list and elaborate on resources that were once waste products: natural gas, portland cement and cast iron.

Victor Davis Hanson on “The Case For Trump” Over Clinton

From the video description:

“How did blue-collar voters connect with a millionaire from Queens in the 2016 election? Martin and Illie Anderson Senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson addresses that question and more in his newly released book, The Case for Trump. He sits down with Peter Robinson to chat about his motivation to write a book making a rational case for those voters who chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Hanson and Robinson, the Murdoch Distinguished Policy Fellow, discuss how voters connected with Trump’s “personal authenticity” during the campaign and how the media has a “historical amnesia” of the bad behavior of past presidents when talking about President Trump. The president, Hanson argues, was always an outsider from elite society in Manhattan, which helped him to better to connect with voters who felt like outsiders. He analyzes President Trump’s platform agenda, which was composed 80% of traditionally conservative views with the remaining 20% being radical ideas that fit with many of the views of the midwestern states. He breaks down why, in the end, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich didn’t appeal to voters in the way that Trump managed to. Hanson turns to talk about his background and life growing up in California’s Central Valley and how different the area feels now compared to when he was younger….”

Hanson argues that the political “outsider” Trump is not merely the lessor of two evils, but putting aside his anti-intellectuality, pettyiness and crudeness, in some policy areas he is good. For a contrasting view see Onkar Ghate: Why Ayn Rand Would Have Despised a President Trump. The era of the Trump Presidency is an interesting test for America’s constitutional republic and rule of law.



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