Clarence Thomas cautions against ‘destroying our institutions’

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas warned against “destroying our institutions” on Thursday while arguing judges should remain out of politics.

The conservative justice spoke about what divides people, pointing to the media specifically, during an address at Notre Dame University with approximately 800 students in attendance.

“The country has gotten to the point where we’re really good at finding something that separates us,” Thomas said. “I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference. So if they think you are anti-abortion or something personally, they think that’s the way you always will come out. They think you’re for this or for that. They think you become like a politician.”


Thomas, the longest-serving justice on the Supreme Court, was asked by a student whether the legal questions he considers ever come into conflict with his Catholic faith, according to the Washington Post .

“I don’t do a lot of hand-wringing in my opinions and tell people, ‘Oh, I’m really sad.’ That’s not the role of a judge,” Thomas said. “You do your job, and you go cry alone.”


Thomas also cautioned if the public truly wants reform, people need to think beyond what is right in front of them and consider the consequences of changing the system.

Thomas quoted his grandfather, who said, “After you’ve done that, and now what? What’s your next step?”

The Supreme Court returns to hearing in-person oral arguments next month, the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The justices are expected to hear a case on Mississippi’s ban of most abortions after 15 weeks.

Thomas was one of the conservatives justices who let stand a new Texas law banning abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy while the legal battle over the case moves forward.

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Justice Clarence Thomas warns Americans against ‘destroying our institutions’ when they don’t agree

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is warning about the possibility of Americans “destroying our institutions because they don’t give us what we want, when we want it.”

The statement came in the context of the justice arguing, in an address Thursday to several hundred students at the University of Notre Dame, that it is integral that the high court remain independent from political polarization.

“I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference. So if they think you are antiabortion or something personally, they think that’s the way you always will come out,” said Thomas, at the Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana. He also said the American public has become “good at finding something that separates us.”

The long-serving conservative justice said that treating justices and judges like political figures is a sure way to “jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions.” 

“The court was thought to be the least dangerous branch and we may have become the most dangerous, and I think that’s problematic,” he said

Thomas maintains that his well documented Catholic faith has not come into conflict with some of the legal questions that have unfurled themselves before the court. “You do your  job and you go cry alone,” he said. 

Earlier this month, Justice Amy Coney Barrett (the most recently appointed justice), said that it is necessary for members of the Supreme Court to be “hyper vigilant to make sure they’re not letting personal biases creep into their decisions, since judges are people, too.” 

“To say the court’s reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner,” she continued during a speech delivered at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center.

The high court is currently receiving some public backlash following its 5-4 decision not to block the controversial Texas law that effectively bans abortions in the state.

Thomas ruled with the majority in the decision and has previously called on the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision that could be revisited in the coming months as the high court reviews a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks. 

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Another Officer Resigns: How “Vaccine” Mandates Are Making Our Institutions (More) Marxist

U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Douglas Hague (Instagram)

“We are watching the fall of liberty at this moment.” So wrote US Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Douglas Hague in a resignation letter, penned after 19 years of service and motivated partially by Joe Biden’s “vaccine” mandate.

Citing other reasons for relinquishing his passion and pension, the former “ROTC kid” mentioned not only a “complete lack of confidence in the presidential administration,” but also that at this very moment there’s “an ideologically Marxist takeover of the military and United States government.”

What’s more, the exit of patriots such as Hague will only accelerate this process.

The Daily Mail summarizes the story, writing:

  • Lt Col Paul Douglas Hague … refuses President Biden’s ‘unethical, immoral and tyrannical’ vaccine mandate
  • He listed many other reasons for his resignation….
  •  ‘I cannot and will not contribute to the fall of this great nation and its people,’ the father of seven wrote
  • His resignation comes a month after active duty Marine Lt Col Stuart Scheller was relieved of duty after calling out senior leaders in a widely shared video

Addressing the Army’s genetic-therapy agent (GTA, a.k.a. a “vaccine”) mandate, announced Tuesday, Hague wrote in his letter that first “and foremost, I am incapable of subjecting myself to the unlawful, unethical, immoral and tyrannical order to sit still and allow a serum to be injected into my flesh against my will and better judgment. It is impossible for this so-called ‘vaccine’ to have been studied adequately to determine the long-term effects.” 

Given the large number of GTA-coincident complications — including serious heart ailments and death — Hague’s position is understandable.

The ex-soldier’s letter was tweeted out by his wife, Katie Phipps Hague, on Thursday and was shared with Fox News. Mrs. Hague said that her husband submitted the letter August 30 and that since then it has been “sent up his chain of command.”

“I would like nothing more than to continue in the Army to reach my 20 years of active federal service and retire with my pension,” Hague explained in the letter (in tweet below). “However, I instead will join those who have served before me in pledging my Life, my Fortune, and my Sacred Honor to continue resisting the eternal and ever-mutable forms of oppression and tyranny — both from enemies outside our nation‘s borders, and those within.”

Unsurprisingly, Hague’s resignation was met with skepticism and criticism, the former because he mistakenly dated his letter “August 23” (his wife said that this was when he began composing it).

Mrs. Hague also addressed Twitter critics “who asked why her husband didn’t protest the multiple other vaccines he had to take in order to serve in the military,” reports Fox News.

“‘He didn’t resign over a vaccine,’ the site related her as responding. “‘He said he felt the vaccine was being used as a political tool to divide and segregate Americans. He then went on to list many other reasons for his resignation – none of which have anything to do with vaccines.”

Of course, it’s also true that not all vaccines are the same — some are tried and true and safe, others aren’t — and the others aren’t GTAs.

Yet while the GTAs clearly aren’t helping eliminate COVID-19 (the most “vaccinated” nations tend to have the highest infection rates) they are eliminating something else. Question:

What’s the result of people exiting medicine (e.g., nurses), the military, government service in general, and perhaps other entities over GTA mandates? The answer is in a response to Mrs. Hague’s tweet.

“100% support him!” wrote Jaxon2010, referencing Paul Hague. “Just scares me that all the good ones are leaving.”

It’s no secret that those opposing the GTAs and least likely to get them are more conversant with the issues, more patriotic, more Republican, and more “conservative” than average. Polls bear this out, too, with a July survey finding that while only six percent of Democrats said they’d probably refuse the GTAs, 47 percent of Republicans expressed that sentiment.

In other words, foisting GTA mandates on government institutions ensures they’ll become even more left-wing.

As for the military, what many regard as a purge was already underway. In February, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered our entire armed forces to “stand down” during the following 60 days so they could “address supposed internal threats posed by white supremacy and other forms of extremism,” reported The Daily Wire at the time.

The “white supremacy” boogeyman was made up, of course, and the term has been defined so loosely that it could apply to anyone opposing our “woke” pseudo-elites; in other words, the effort reflects its authors’ detachment from reality or that they were actually using the purported threat as a pretext for purging opponents of the Establishment (or both).

Why would they do this? Well, consider a thought exercise I presented in May: “If you heard about a Third World country in which the leadership was purging the military of political opponents, would you assume it was just an exercise in ideological nepotism?”

“Or would you suppose the leaders wanted a military of devoted fellow travelers who would, when asked, unflinchingly turn their guns on domestic opponents of the regime who couldn’t be cowed by other methods?”

“Now, should the assumption be different just because the military purge occurs in a developed country?”

The GTA mandates, again, only intensify our time’s purge.

So it is in medicine, too. So many nurses are resigning over the mandates that a New York hospital has had to stop delivering babies because it’s short-staffed. Not only will the rush to fill these positions likely mean lower quality personnel, but also something else.

To wit: It has already been proposed that the “unvaccinated” should be refused medical care — and jabbed and GTA-friendly hospital workers would be more likely to effect this standard.

In fact, mandates could cause this jabbed GTA army to dominate our important institutions, making them unfriendly to the “unvaccinated.” Moreover, the more you get, the more you get (possibly).

That is to say, as more people accept GTAs, there may be less resistance to mandating them. Not only may many of these people be rationalizing their decision to comply, after all, but there’s also the “Misery loves company” factor.

The bottom line is that the mandates are yet another way of purging our institutions of people opposed to Big Brother and making patriots the “other.”

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Does the United States Still Need An Air Force?

Here’s What You Need to Remember: The issue, then, is less the specific balance of air, sea and land power at any given time, but rather the establishment of institutions with sufficient flexibility to manage the various strategic challenges that the United States faces, and take advantage of technological, social and economic opportunities.

With the Iraq War over and the fighting in Afghanistan winding down, why does the United States need to maintain two large land armies, the Army and Marine Corps? The question seems perfectly reasonable given the apparent absence of large terrestrial threats, but it leads us down the wrong path.

The United States military is all about redundancy; in addition to two armies, it also fields two navies — the Navy and the Coast Guard — and five or six air forces, depending on how you count the aerial arms of the various branches.

The real problem isn’t that the Army is marginally more or less useful that it was 10 years ago, but rather that the institutions that were designed in 1947, when the Army and Air Force split, are insufficiently flexible to negotiate the modern security landscape.

The fault for this lies not primarily with the Army, but with the United States Air Force, an institution built on the optimistic vision that ordnance delivered from the air could, cheaply and cleanly, bring about a peaceful, American-dominated world.

How to build a military branch

Look, creating institutions is all about drawing useful lines between areas of responsibility. Historically, it made sense to divide the responsibility between managing security on land and on sea between specific organizations tasked with training, managing and equipping professionals in their respective arenas.

In other words, an army and a navy. They had their disputes from time to time, but by and large their missions were sufficiently distinct — as distinct as earth and water, really — that differences in outlook, opinion, and interest didn’t interfere all that much with fighting actual wars.

But even from the dawn of flight, it never made much sense to separate the professional upbringing of aerial warfighters from their sea and land counterparts. Since before World War I, aviators have supported soldiers and sailors through reconnaissance, interdiction of enemy transit, air transport and direct attacks against fielded enemy forces.

Separating aerial military assets from the ground and naval assets they organically support makes no more sense than the creation of separate arms for tanks and submarines. The creation of the Air Force broke apart the organic unity of the Army.

By contrast, the Navy, though threatened by air power pioneer Billy Mitchell and his ilk, fortunately managed to insulate itself, its carriers and its aircraft from Air Force influence — and the Marines likewise managed to keep their own aviation arm because, well, they’re the Marines.

History lesson

How did this happen? Early aviators believed that an independent air arm was necessary because conservative, hidebound ground and sea officers could not possibly appreciate the new-found relevance of warfare in the third dimension.

The experience of World War I suggested some limited truth to this, although German aviation, for example, took powerful tactical, operational and strategic strides despite the existing institutional straitjackets. In the United Kingdom, aviators and their political allies argued that air power could break the stalemate on the Western Front. In 1918 they won independence for the Royal Air Force, which combined the assets of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.

In the interwar period, keeping the world safe for the RAF meant an official commitment to strategic bombing and also a practical commitment to the bombing of “savages” along the fringes of the Empire, two missions that did not complement each other very well.

In the United States, air power advocacy meant a singular devotion to the cult of strategic bombing, a cult that would hold sway in the USAF into the 1960s. Strategic bombing was useful to air power enthusiasts because it separated aviators from their colleagues in armies and navies; if bombers could deliver victory by destroying enemy cities, there would be little need for close collaboration with soldiers and sailors — and no need at all for the subjection of aviation to the whims of generals and admirals.

But air power, now and in 1917, works best in conjunction with the application of land or sea force. From the great campaigns of World War II to operations such as the Vietnam War’s Linebacker I, Desert Storm in 1991 and Enduring Freedom starting in 2001, air power has excelled in the location, interdiction and destruction of fielded enemy forces.

These campaigns bear little resemblance, even conceptually, to the expectations of the men who most strongly advocated for independent air forces in the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s. The big strategic campaigns, including the Combined Bomber Offensive in World War II and Rolling Thunder and Linebacker II in Vietnam, witnessed the expenditure of tremendous sums of men, money and aircraft to limited and ambiguous strategic effect.

It would hardly be news to influential military thinker Carl Von Clausewitz that the tactical destruction of fielded enemy forces has strategic effect, leaving the enemy unable to resist the application of further force. But the same news challenges the assumptions of the planners and practitioners of strategic air power.

Even in the 1991 Gulf War, the most important air power theorist of recent decades argued that the USAF should avoid Iraqi fielded forces, instead concentrating on “strategic” targets that might bring down the regime without the need for breaking the Iraqi army.

We created the Air Force at a moment in which policymakers believed that the next war would involve a nuclear strategic bombing campaign, largely in isolation from the contributions that the Army and Navy could make. These assumptions, obviously, no longer hold.

But once created, institutional lines acquire gravity and solidity. Since the 1960s the Army, Air Force and Navy have achieved an uneasy peace by coming to agreement on the percentage of the defense budget that each would enjoy. As the strategic, technological, fiscal and social environments have changed, the ratio has remained essentially the same; land power, sea power and air power are, in fiscal terms, to be treated as roughly equal in importance to the security of the United States.

This situation produces strategic and military incoherence. The hallmark of modern military operations is cooperation between assets operating across space and media. The idea that air power can be profitably separated from sea or land power is a dangerous fiction, but for the United States Air Force it is a necessary fiction.

If aerial military assets represent but one facet of a land or sea combat team (as they are treated in the Navy and Marine Corps), then there is no more need for an independent Air Force than an independent artillery service.

Thus, even as technological and strategic reality demands that the Air Force work closely with the Army and Navy, bureaucratic interest will invariably push it to claim the capacity for independent strategic effect. These claims will necessarily interfere with the Air Force’s ability to make its contribution to the land, sea and air team.


The issue, then, is less the specific balance of air, sea and land power at any given time, but rather the establishment of institutions with sufficient flexibility to manage the various strategic challenges that the United States faces, and take advantage of technological, social and economic opportunities.

While naval and land warfare have become considerably more integrated with one another than they were at the beginning of the 20th century, they remain sufficiently distinct that we can still imagine an Army and Navy developing (if in consultation) separate and coherent strategic organizational visions. This is not the case with the Air Force, which will remain locked in an uneasy, distant embrace with its parent services.

In brief, the United States needs air power, but it does not need an Air Force. Folding the assets and missions of the USAF back into its parent services would enhance the flexibility of the United States, releasing U.S. military planning and procurement from the institutional rules that invariably bring air, land and naval power into conflict, and that make aligning military tools with political ends nearly impossible.

Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and MoneyInformation Dissemination and the Diplomat

This article is being republished due to reader interests.

Image: Flickr.

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Nation-Building Abroad Eroded Pennsylvanians’ Trust in Institutions

During the founding of the United States, Pennsylvania earned the nickname “keystone” for its essential role—geographic, economic, and political—in winning American independence. Two and a half centuries later, Pennsylvania maintained its Keystone State status in the now concluded war in Afghanistan.

In 2013, after the peak of the insurgency, state Adjutant Gen. Wesley Craig said that Pennsylvania endured “by far” the most National Guard deaths of any state. In the past two decades, according to tracker, the state has seen 93 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in addition to Guardsmen, along with more than 400 wounded.

What do these sacrifices mean, many Pennsylvanians wonder, if the soldiers fighting our wars have no faith in their commanding officers—and  moreover, if there are no consequences for predictable failure?

Last Friday, U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller filmed a viral Facebook video in reaction to the suicide bombing at Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members. “People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability saying, ‘We messed this up,’” Scheller said, accusing the secretary of defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other top brass of “not holding up their end of the bargain.” Scheller was relieved of command that same day and has since announced his intention to resign from the Marine Corps.

His disillusionment is not isolated. Last weekend, I spoke with a born-and-bred Pennsylvanian and active-duty U.S. Army soldier who expressed similar disappointment in our military leadership. He prefers to stay anonymous to protect himself against the type of retribution faced by Scheller. 

“I’m not mad about us pulling out of Afghanistan,” he said, having served in-country as a rifle squad team leader. “The frustrating thing for me is the fact that these senior leaders, I would say brigade level and up, are so disconnected from their formations that they thought that this [nation-building] was gonna work.” He added: “They thought that the Afghans would actually adopt a democracy. Their military would be able to fight off the Taliban, and everything would be great.”

The average enlistee, interacting on the ground with Afghan army recruits and fearing the infamous green-on-blue attacks—when those recruits turn their rifles on their trainers—were under no such fantasy. “You ask any grunt that has been on the ground in Afghanistan, ‘Do you feel the Afghan army was at any point or would be capable of effectively protecting their country?’ They’re going to tell you no.”

The soldier, who had previously served a tour in Iraq as well, placed blame on both the system and the men operating it. First is the insular nature of a command post. “These higher-up leaders, these generals, they only get their information through third parties,” he said. “You wouldn’t really see too many generals actually walking around, actually seeing what is going on.” 

To adopt a phrase used by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, maybe it’s the strategists who are seeing the conduct of the war “through a soda straw.”

But even when policymakers and advisers get accurate information about the war’s progress (or lack thereof), their incentive is to sugarcoat it. “The way the army does its wording, the way they do everything, they don’t like to sound negative [if] there’s some kind of reprisal that’s going to come from it,” the soldier explained. “So, they word things so that it sounds better. It briefs well.”

In 2019, the Washington Post published the Afghanistan Papers, made up of leaked internal interviews featuring high-ranking military and government officials. The documents exposed an explicit and sustained effort to manipulate numbers, fabricate an optimistic narrative, and deceive Americans about the war effort.

“We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking,” Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said about Afghanistan in one Post interview, contradicting the positive assessment he regularly doled out to the public. Lute, senior adviser on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, was willing to be candid behind closed doors, but not to voters—and certainly not to the men and women under his command. 

Should anyone be surprised when this multi-decade deception erodes trust in our institutions?

This discontent is evident in Pennsylvania, a major political bellwether, and it’s not new. Unhappiness with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led to widespread Republican losses in 2006, including the defeat of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. This same disillusionment helped fuel Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, especially in formerly Democratic regions that now trend Republican. This legacy has remained a major issue in the Keystone State.

This crisis of confidence, especially among soldiers, shouldn’t be ignored. The men and women tasked to defend our nation must reckon with defeat in a war about which they were never given an honest assessment. How many, like Scheller, are willing to walk away from their careers and pensions over it? How many, like the soldier I spoke to, are willing to continue their service but with pessimism toward their mission and a sardonic attitude toward the people deploying them?

This is the inevitable side effect of fighting multiple wars with impossible conditions for military victory. The only solution remains a drastic reassessment of U.S. foreign policy interests, including abandoning nation-building overseas and resolving to send our men and women in uniform to fight only in defense of our rights and liberties, and only in wars formally declared by Congress.

Like Americans elsewhere, Pennsylvanians are lamenting the course of these past 20 years.

Hunter DeRensis is a writer based in Washington, D.C., and communications director of the veterans’ advocacy organization Bring Our Troops Home. Follow him on Twitter, @HunterDeRensis.

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It’s Institutions, Not Individuals | The American Conservative

Organize Right is a regular column with not so much a beat as a meander on the subject of organizing: how the right does it, how the left does it, lessons from its history, and its implications for today.

One of the recurring aspects of right-wing culture—normal, fringe, and far alike—is the fascination with the idea of the Decisive Man. Blame our individualism, or our obsession with great men of history, or our adulation of business owners; hero-starved Righties are fixated on the idea of individuals changing their own lives or even history by deciding on a course of action and fearlessly carrying it out, trailing followers behind them. That is how we imagine our heroes—and our villains, too.

Case in point: George Soros. His organizations do a lot for Team Lefty, but he’s not the be-all and end-all of leftism, any more than the late Saul Alinsky was the be-all and end-all of organizing. But Soros and Alinsky are the names Righties know, so we get hung up on them, and picture them as the other team’s version of our own heroic Decisive Man—or, if you like, the puppeteer figures of Ben Garrison cartoons. That’s why you see people on the right swearing up and down that organizing is all about Alinsky, or that George Soros is paying every black bloc.

But to people who have actually worked with George Soros and people like him, he looks quite different. Just ask Gara LaMarche. You’ve never heard of him, but he spent 11 years working for Soros at the Open Society Institute (his resume also includes the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and stints as president of Atlantic Philanthropies and Democracy Alliance). Recently LaMarche was guest editor for a special philanthropy issue of the online leftist organizing magazine the Forge, and the entries offer a look not just at how radical leftists see people like George Soros, but where radical leftists want philanthropic organizations to go.

The Forge is a strategic journal and community space for organizers edited by Lindsay Zafir. Its launch was funded by the Bauman Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Needmor Fund, and the Rockefeller Family Fund, and its editorial advisory committee and publishing committee include representatives of groups from the Center for Popular Democracy, UNITE HERE, Sunrise Foundation, the AFL-CIO, and a host of other important groups you’ve probably never heard of. We are talking about a particular subset of well-connected organizers; the organizer-industrial complex, if you like.

LaMarche’s issue of the journal includes contributions from academics as well as past and present representatives of various organizations—some smaller, and some power players you have heard of (and some power players you haven’t). The contributors write about philanthropy’s role in organizing as they see it, and where they’d like it to go eventually. More on that shortly, but first: What does George Soros look like to a guy who worked with George Soros, and how did George Soros get started with this whole bottom-up organizing thing?

According to LaMarche’s own piece, George Soros came to appreciate bottom-up organizing slowly. The first step towards it was funding education projects of people who came from that world: veteran civil rights organizer Bob Moses (in his new project, a community education effort to help kids toward better futures by teaching them algebra), and Ernesto Cortes of Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation, founder of the church-based organizing group Communities Organized for Public Service as well as the Alliance Schools Strategies. As LaMarche puts it:

Moses and Cortez [sic] were national “brands,” but I remained largely ignorant of more localized grassroots efforts. Then one day, a board member of what was then called the Jewish Fund for Justice (now Bend the Arc) asked if she could come to see me with the Fund’s director, Marlene Provizer, to tell me about their work. I said I’d be happy to learn but that support was unlikely, as it didn’t seem to fit into any of our articulated program areas.

They came to my office one afternoon and walked me through the organization’s approach, which at the time involved wealthy, mostly Jewish donors, motivated by the social justice tradition of their faith, donating to a pooled fund that in turn made grants to mostly Black and brown groups around the country working on poverty, education, and justice system issues. I was dazzled by the array of groups and drawn to their redistributionist approach. When, at the end of our meeting, my friend asked for a million dollars, I said, “Nice try.” But after they left, I shared my enthusiasm with others at Open Society, and we ended up offering the Fund a multi-million, multi-year challenge grant.

From the point of view of LaMarche and his fellow contributors, George Soros and comparable people and organizations are not sovereigns you obey. They are cats you have to herd. Contributor Cecile Richards, whom you may recall from the headlines she made during her previous gig at Planned Parenthood, is of the opinion that living donors like Soros are more challenging to manage than institutions like her current post at the Ford Foundation. It’s not that the Ford Foundation isn’t a slow and ponderous beast to steer, but living individuals who actually control the pocketbook are less predictable, which means harder to influence.

And radical leftists do want to influence them. This concept will be hard for a lot of Righty readers, particularly in our grassroots, to wrap their brains around. But LaMarche and his fellow contributors—who are, from our view, absolutely dripping in resources and support—feel that the real problem with the resources and support they’re receiving is that radicals are not sufficiently in control of it. Contributors Megan Ming Francis and Erica Kohl-Arenas, both academics, argue that foundations all too often have a moderating influence on radicals, and need to change this:

As big foundations continue to call for change and promise to back it up with their dollars, we need to make sure they don’t respond to the moment by supporting reformist or palliative programs. Paul Ylvisaker, a central figure in Ford Foundation’s grantmaking in the 1960s, once advised foundation staff to “search for consensus in approach and resolution. Consensus is an institutional imperative in our times, simply to minimize the friction generated by institutions moving through a crowding social and political environment.” This was poor advice for philanthropy back then – and it remains poor advice today. Instead, foundation leaders need to allocate funds to the groups working on the ground to build new community-owned forms of safety, care, and self-determination – and they need to trust that those organizations know how to get the job done.

While several pieces have recommendations for reform of foundations, the main thrust of the argument is what it always is—to really change things, foundations and philanthropists must make particular structural changes to ensure more leftist outcomes and more leftist ways of doing business. Sometimes this just involves giving grassroots organizations more money and less oversight (be honest: Who among us wouldn’t want that in our own lives?). But it also involves structural changes in how decisions are made and money is given.

Here’s an example of a relatively value-neutral structural change argued for by Phil Radford, who was the executive director of Greenpeace in the U.S. and is now the CEO of Progressive Power Lab—essentially a venture capitalist equivalent for leftist nonprofits and companies. Radford argues that the best way philanthropists can help is:

not only to fund more organizing but to provide catalytic funding to achieve the 50/50 rule: to help organizing groups achieve fifty percent of their funding from philanthropy and fifty percent from their base and businesses. To get there, philanthropy should invest five-to-ten percent of its funding in the independent revenue generation programs of mission-aligned organizations and flip its funding priorities from policy formation to power building.

Most of the proposed changes, though, aren’t nearly so simple and operational. A lot of the contributors are keenly interested in using leftist organizing techniques to seize and redirect what are in our view thoroughly captured, but in theirs insufficiently leftist, institutions.  For example, here’s Farhad Ebrahimi whose Chorus Foundation is spending down its endowment to try to bring about a “just transition to a regenerative economy in the United States:

With an information deficit theory of change, board “organizing” is a fairly low bar. We send them some readings, there’s a compelling presentation, and we have a robust conversation. That’s all fine and good, but what about power mapping your board, developing the leadership of specific board members to challenge consolidated power, and investing not only in their education, but in their skills and their relationships? Aligned board members are good. Aligned board members who can speak powerfully when they’re needed are great. And aligned board members who can speak powerfully and organize their peers to do the same are fantastic.

…My own aspiration is to deploy family philanthropy as a tactic for reparations, with the rather large caveat that this involves explicitly challenging what words like “philanthropy” or “investment” usually mean. And I believe that the concept of reparations in its fullest sense will require rethinking aspects of our entire political economy — not just “paying off a debt” within the current system. There is no justice at scale within the confines of racial capitalism.

Philanthropy as it’s conventionally understood is the product of racial capitalism.

If you want to really see where leftist philanthropy—and, for that matter, leftist organizing—is heading in the future, that phrase “racial capitalism” is one you ought to learn, because it will probably go mainstream in the same way terms like “privilege” have. The concept comes from the work of the late U.C. Santa Barbara political theorist Cedric Robinson. He didn’t coin the term; per a 2017 profile by UCLA professor Robin D.G. Kelley in Boston Review, Robinson borrowed a phrase originally used to describe apartheid South Africa in particular and appropriated it to describe capitalism in general. The idea of racial capitalism pops up in several of the Forge essays, most notably that of Adriana Rocha and Manisha Vaze. Rocha runs the Neighborhood Funders Group; Vaze is strategy and programming director for Funders for a Just Economy. They lay out their view pretty starkly:

There are many limitations in philanthropy’s ability to dismantle racial capitalism. Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore describes philanthropy as twice-stolen wealth. The rich accumulate their wealth through forced extraction of the labor, land, and culture of Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities and then shelter their profits from taxation through philanthropic institutions, which generally make charitable investments into institutions that are built to serve them. Philanthropic institutions have long been used to promote settler colonialism, white cultural norms, and white supremacist, hetero-patriarchal, and Christian ideology. They create a false sense of scarcity and an overreliance on their donations, and, through their decisions about whom to fund, develop narratives about who belongs and deserves care. Meanwhile, the corporations whose profits undergird philanthropic institutions shirk responsibility for the welfare of their employees in low-wage industries, cheat our tax system, hamstring the government’s ability to regulate them, and barely contribute to local public budgets.

Most foundation boards are represented by wealthy people who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Boards are tasked with making investment decisions without an understanding of community needs or any community input. Because most nonprofits rely on foundation dollars to carry out their work, the wealthy are also able to use their philanthropic endeavors to silence and squash radical resistance efforts, movements, and grassroots power.

If you’re on the right and you’re reading this, your reaction is, “Philanthropic foundations as inherently right-wing? They’re kidding, right?”

No, they’re not kidding, and as the past few years have shown you can’t laugh off radical leftist ideas, because leftists have more ability to popularize their fringe ideas than you do your mainstream ones. One of the most important things they do, as Rocha and Vaze’s contribution does in particular, is provide detailed steps of actions to take and lists of people who can help you. Rocha and Vaze don’t just talk about the importance of educating yourself; they helpfully tell you where to go to get indoctrinated and who can give you checklists of tasks that will help you make your philanthropic institute a machine for dismantling racial capitalism (which, as you’ll have noted, simply means “capitalism”). Their piece talks about communities you can join, from colleagues to study groups, and encourages funders to both better fund organizers (who would like better salaries and bourgeois stuff like retirement benefits) and facilitate their larger work, including travel to network with like-minded groups around the world. Rocha and Vasa advise, “If philanthropy does not take action to dismantle racial capitalism, it will remain complicit in maintaining the status quo and be unable to meet the growing needs of the most impacted communities.” You don’t want to be complicit, do you?

Again, and I can’t stress this enough: Do not get hung up on any of these people I’ve mentioned, now that you know their names. Leftism is not a top-down hierarchy with neat tick-boxes. Righties, particularly naive grassroots Righties, like to imagine One Big Bad Guy ruling over everything on the other team. There isn’t one, and that decentralized approach seems to be doing a little better than our Decisive Man model.

Maybe if we want to oppose the left and its philanthropic power, we should understand how they actually see themselves. And maybe—just maybe—the famous hero model of change isn’t the way that making lasting change actually works.

David Hines has a professional background in international human rights work with a focus on recovery from forced disappearances and mass homicide. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Transgender Activism’s Long March through Our Institutions

Trans pride flag at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minn., June 23, 2021. (David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)

Harm to children’s bodies, loss of women’s privacy, and perversion of language are all included in the collateral damage.

For a movement that is supposedly about the latest oppressed minority gaining full human rights, transactivism has progressed remarkably far and fast.

What campaigners mean by “trans rights” is gender self-identification: that trans people be treated in every circumstance as members of the sex they identify with, rather than the sex they actually are.

This is not a human right at all. It is a demand that everyone else lose their rights to single-sex spaces, services, and activities. And in its requirement that everyone else accept trans people’s subjective beliefs as objective reality, it is akin to a new state religion, complete with blasphemy laws.

Even as one country after another introduces gender self-ID, very few voters know that this is happening, let alone support it.

In 2018 research by Populus, an independent pollster, crowdfunded by British feminists, found that only 15 percent of British adults agreed that legal sex change should be possible without a doctor’s sign-off. A majority classified a “person who was born male and has male genitalia but who identifies as a woman” as a man, and only tiny minorities said that such people should be allowed into women’s sports or changing rooms, or be incarcerated in a women’s prison if they committed a crime.

Two years later, YouGov found that half of British voters thought people should be “able to self-identify as a different gender to the one they were born in.” But two-thirds said legal sex change should only be possible with a doctor’s sign-off, with just 15 percent saying no sign-off should be needed. In other words, there is widespread support for people describing themselves as they wish, but not much for granting such self-descriptions legal status. The same poll also asked whether transwomen should be allowed in women’s sports and changing rooms, sometimes with a reminder that transwomen may have had no genital surgery, and sometimes without. The share saying yes was 20 percentage points lower with the reminder than without — again demonstrating widespread confusion about what being trans means, and that support for trans people does not imply support for self-declaration overriding reality.

A poll in Scotland in 2020 suggests that even young women, the demographic keenest on gender self-ID, become cooler when reminded of the practical implications. A slight majority of women aged 16 to 34 selected “anyone who says they’re a woman, regardless of their biology” as closer than “an adult human female, with XX chromosomes and female genitalia” to their conception of what the word “woman” means. (Young men were much less keen on the self-ID definition, though keener than older men. Overall, 72 percent of respondents chose the biological definition.) But that 52 percent share fell to 38 percent answering “yes” to: “Do you think someone who identifies as a woman, but was born male, and still has male genitalia, should be allowed to use female changing rooms where women and girls are undressing/showering, even if those women object?”

This pattern of broad sympathy for trans-identified people combined with opposition to the practical consequences of gender self-ID also holds in the U.S. In 2020, public-opinion polling in ten swing states found that at least three-quarters of likely voters — including a majority of registered Democrats — opposed allowing male people to compete in female sports. Proposals to ban puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors also polled extremely well. Two more polls the same year, one in California shortly before state laws changed to grant male convicts who identified as women the right to be held in women’s prisons, and one in Idaho to gauge support for the state legislature’s efforts to keep males out of women’s sports, found large majorities supporting separation by sex rather than gender identity.

Gender self-ID does not even play well with left-leaning voters. In early 2020, Eric Kaufmann, a politics professor, gave a random sample of likely British voters some text about a “trans rights” pledge signed by all but one of the candidates for the Labour Party leadership. It described women’s groups campaigning to maintain sex-based rights as “trans exclusionist hate groups,” and said Labour members supporting them should be expelled. The share who said they were likely to vote Labour at the next election was ten percentage points lower than in a control group who read nothing. Progressive campaigners have used “taboos around minority sensitivity to amplify their influence,” Kaufmann concluded, enabling them to “advance unpopular platforms that both weaken the Left and contribute to cultural polarisation.”

A movement that focuses on the levers of power rather than building grassroots support is one in which a few wealthy people can have considerable sway. They have shaped the global agenda by funding briefing documents, campaign groups, research, and legal actions; endowing university chairs; and influencing health-care protocols.

One is an American transwoman billionaire, Jennifer (James) Pritzker, a retired soldier and one of the heirs to a vast family fortune. Pritzker’s personal foundation, Tawani, makes grants to universities, the ACLU, GLAAD, the HRC, and smaller activist groups. To cite a couple of examples, in 2016 it gave the University of Victoria $2 million to endow a chair of transgender studies, and throughout the “bathroom wars” it supported Equality Illinois Education Project, which is linked to a group campaigning for gender self-ID in the state.

Two other billionaires, neither transgender, also spend lavishly on transactivism. One is Jon Stryker, another heir to a fortune. His foundation, Arcus, supports the LGBT-campaign group ILGA and Transgender Europe, which channels funding to national self-ID campaigns. Arcus funds the LGBT Movement Advancement Project, which tracks gender-identity advocacy in dozens of countries (and partners with President Biden’s personal foundation on the Advancing Acceptance Initiative, which promotes early-childhood transition). In 2015 Arcus announced that it would give $15 million in the next five years to American trans-rights groups. Among the recipients were the ACLU, the Transgender Law Center, the Trans Justice Funding Project, and the Freedom Center for Social Justice, which campaigned against North Carolina’s bathroom law. In 2019, it gave $2 million to found a queer-studies program at Spelman College in Atlanta, and it funds Athlete Ally, the group that dropped Martina Navratilova as an ambassador when she opposed trans inclusion in female sports.

The third billionaire funder of transactivism is George Soros, via his Open Society Foundations (OSF), a network of independently managed philanthropic institutions. OSF has made large donations to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Watch (including $100 million in 2010, its biggest donation ever), and the HRC, all of which campaign for gender self-identification. OSF pays for the production of model laws and “best practice” documents on trans-related issues. To highlight just one example, in 2014 it supported “License to Be Yourself,” a guide to campaigning for national gender self-ID laws. This argued, among other things, that children of any age should be able to change their legal sex at will.

This pattern of funding helps explain the gap between trans-campaign groups’ rhetoric and the policies they pursue. The talk is about the world’s downtrodden: Poor, homeless trans people forced into survival sex work, lacking health care and harassed by the police. But the money comes in large part from the world’s most powerful people: rich, white American males. The two groups’ needs and desires barely overlap at all.

There certainly are trans people in harrowing circumstances. Many of the murders cited by transactivist groups to support the claim that trans people are uniquely at risk are of South American travestis — transwomen who retain male genitalia and often work in street prostitution. But the risks they face have little to do with being trans. Street prostitution is dangerous for anyone, as is being a gender-nonconforming male in South America. Mostly, these people need the same as their fellow citizens: better health care and policing, economic development, and an end to America’s drug war. They also need exit strategies from prostitution. Amended birth certificates stating travestis’ sex as female will do nothing to disguise their maleness, or protect them from violent pimps and johns.

Fortunately, the limited statistics available suggest that trans people in safer places are not at greatly elevated risk of violence. Their life expectancy depends mostly on the same things as everyone else’s — sex, occupation, state of health, and so on — and not on their identity. But they do have specific needs that would be worth addressing. They are on average poorer than their fellow citizens, and more likely to have mental-health problems. Above all, they would benefit from high-quality research into the origins of cross-sex identities, and how to care for a body altered by cross-sex hormones and surgeries as it ages.

But mainstream transactivism does none of this. It works largely towards two ends: ensuring that male people can access female spaces; and removing barriers to cross-sex hormones and surgeries, even in childhood. These are not the needs of people on low incomes at risk of poor health. They are the desires of rich, powerful males who want to be classed as women. Everything I have written about — the harm to children’s bodies; the loss of women’s privacy; the destruction of women’s sports; and the perversion of language — is collateral damage.

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from the author’s book Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.

Helen Joyce has been a staff writer at The Economist since 2005, and is currently Britain editor.

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Biden Considers Coercing Institutions To Mandate COVID Vaccine

The White House is considering using its federal power to pressure institutions into requiring the COVID-19 shot, according to the Washington Post.

Under the new potential policy from the Biden administration, institutions such as universities, cruise lines, and even long-term care facilities that rely on federal funding to operate could risk losing their government dollars if they don’t comply with vaccine mandates.

The White House’s bid, aimed at getting the roughly 50 percent of the country that is unvaccinated to get their dose of the COVID-19 shot, could particularly focus on those organizations that receive funding through Medicare. The hope from the administration, according to the report, is that nursing homes and similar facilities would mandate the vaccine for all of their employees.

The White House did not deny the report but made it clear that the Democrat administration is still contemplating how to implement policies across the country to force vaccines on Americans.

“As we always are, the administration is discussing a host of different measures we can continue to boost vaccinations across the country,” a White House official told Fox News. “Any reported ideas under consideration are in early conversations and pre-decisional. There are no imminent policy decisions as to preview at this time.”

The move comes just one week after President Joe Biden mandated vaccines for federal employees. The White House’s decision received pushback from several GOP members as well as unions such as the American Postal Workers Union, which previously endorsed Biden for president.

“Maintaining the health and safety of our members is of paramount importance. While the APWU leadership continues to encourage postal workers to voluntarily get vaccinated, it is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent,” the union’s official statement read. “Issues related to vaccinations and testing for COVID-19 in the workplace must be negotiated with the APWU. At this time the APWU opposes the mandating of COVID-19 vaccinations in relation to U.S. postal workers.”

Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.

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When Confidence in Our Institutions Collapses

Sometimes, stories that appear unrelated share common foundations and have cumulative effects, far more serious than any one does individually. Highlighting these common features tells us something profound about our society and its troubles. That’s the case with four stories over the past few days.

The first two involve police. One concerns a New York City gang member who attacked multiple officers and shot one of them. The suspect had more than 25 prior arrests for guns, drug offenses, and other crimes. He was known to be part of a gang affiliated with the “Bloods.” Yet Jerome Roman was roaming the streets, gun in hand, out on bail. It is a story repeated dozens of times each week across the country. The second story involves the inability of Portland, Ore., to recruit police to fight the city’s stunning murder epidemic. For some reason, Portland just can’t find people willing to join the special unit designed to stop the killings.

The next two stories involve a subject that seems far removed from violent crime: COVID masks. One is a news report with photographs of Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrating maskless at an indoor party just hours after she had imposed a comprehensive mask mandate on her city, prohibiting exactly her kind of behavior. This was just the latest in a spate of “rules are for thee, not me” actions by Democratic mayors and governors. One of them, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, is facing a recall effort. The rest continue along their merry way.

Finally, the ubiquitous Dr. Anthony Fauci, our nation’s top official for infectious diseases, told ABC News this past weekend that wearing masks should not be an individual choice. That statement goes beyond saying masks are desirable, based on public health data. It portends a new round of mandates. President Biden also indicated new, stricter rules are coming.

Is there any connection among these stories about police, murder, hypocrisy, and public health advice? Yes, and it is a connection that illuminates our country’s deepest problems.

The problem we face, beyond the specifics about crime, COVID, duplicity, and social division, is a palpable breakdown in public order at the same time the public has lost confidence in our government officials and the institutions they lead. The two meta-problems—the breakdown of order and erosion of public confidence—are deeply intertwined because we count on our leaders and institutions to give us reliable information, provide a stable environment (so each of us can go about our lives), and abide by the same rules we all do. Those are foundational elements of a peaceful, liberal, democratic society. Their attrition imperils that society and its governance.

Citizens are all too aware of the collapse of law and order in cities and on America’s southern border. They are aware, too, that the current administration and the mayors of most big cities are unwilling to speak honestly about the problems. They know that Vice President Kamala Harris’ exclusive focus on the “root causes” of migration from Central America is really a way of evading the painful question: Why won’t the Biden administration stop the unprecedented surge of illegal immigration or even speak candidly about it?

The danger and dishonesty come after decades of eroding trust in public officials and the institutions they lead. Polls in the early 1960s showed over 70% of the public believed public officials were telling the truth. Those numbers have declined steadily to less than 20%. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon got that ball rolling downhill, but it hasn’t stopped. The mistrust goes beyond public officials to include news media, social media, universities, corporations, unions, churches, and even civic organizations such as the Boy Scouts.

The public put aside those doubts, at least temporarily, when the COVID pandemic struck in February and March 2020. Almost everyone was willing to follow mask mandates and business closures. They were willing to let small children skip in-person learning and use their computers. But after more than a year of self-confinement and school closures, the public’s patience has run out.

So has the public’s confidence that health officials know what they are doing and are telling us the truth. This mistrust grew when people discovered the initial guidance not to wear masks was a deliberate lie. At the time, Fauci and his colleagues actually believed masks would help, but they feared that saying so would lead to a run on masks, leaving none for medical professionals. Instead of trusting the public and retailers like Amazon and Walgreen’s, they lied. In June 2020, Fauci explained his reasons: “We were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply. And we wanted to make sure that the people, namely, the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in harm’s way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected.”

However benign Fauci’s goal, the longer-term effects were pernicious. They were bound to be once the public discovered the deception. How could anyone trust his future statements at face value? He is paying that cost personally now that he is trying to reassure the public that he had nothing to do with funding the Wuhan virology lab’s gain-of-function research.

Donald Trump’s attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election were even more corrosive of public trust. He has continued those attacks without providing independently verified evidence of widespread fraud. Recently, we learned that while he was still in office Trump crossed another bright line when he pressured the Justice Department to endorse his claims. “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” he told Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who refused his demand.

While it is perfectly appropriate to demand election integrity and review the vote count, it is deeply destructive to continue claiming the election was stolen without proof. It is even worse for a sitting president to do so. Among Trump’s most avid supporters, those claims undermine Biden’s legitimacy as president. For everyone else, Trump’s charges undermine his own claim that he knows the boundaries of constitutional behavior and tries to stay within them.

Smashing through those boundaries is exactly what House and Senate Democrats proposed when they suggested packing the Supreme Court, adding new states to the union (to give them a durable Senate majority), and eliminating the Senate’s filibuster rule. All are permissible within the Constitution’s formal rules, but all breach long-standing conventions that protect minority rights.

The public’s growing mistrust of senior officials, elected and appointed, overlaps with widespread doubts that those officials must follow the same rules as the rest of us. This common standard, and public confidence in it, is foundational to our constitutional democracy. Politicians, billionaires, and celebrities may be able to hire the best lawyers, but they are not supposed to be above the law itself.

That confidence depends on neutral procedures. When O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of double murder, there was widespread disbelief, but the public still accepted the jury’s decision. Even if the decision was misguided, the process made it legitimate. Contrast that acceptance with the FBI and Department of Justice whitewashing Hillary Clinton’s reckless mishandling of classified data. No fair-minded person believed the investigation and charging decision was even-handed. Ordinary folks have languished in jail for far less serious violations, such as a submariner whose photographs inadvertently included classified equipment. Nobody else got the FBI director to write an exoneration before the central figure was even interviewed. Director James Comey then compounded his blunder by announcing he would not charge her (a decision that should have been made only by the Department of Justice) and, later, by holding a press conference that detailed Clinton’s wrongdoing without charging her, a flat violation not only of FBI standards but of centuries of precedent. It may have cost her the election.

Beyond those egregious violations, the FBI’s very different investigations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are why the public no longer believes the nation’s top law enforcement agency is politically neutral or even competent. Its leaders seem ready to kneecap their enemies and cover up their own agents’ wrongdoing.

During the Comey years, when these spying-and-leaking scandals emerged, most conservative commentators defended the rectitude of ordinary agents—the “99 percent who do a great job.” That defense is seldom heard these days. After all, lots of “great agents” must have known about their bosses’ misdeeds, yet none blew the whistle. They were just ordinary bureaucrats, protecting their pensions and promotions.

The key point here is that these problems—and they are serious—occur amid a long-term decline of trust in all our institutions, public and private. That problem goes well beyond the FBI’s bias, the hypocrisy by Muriel Bowser or Gavin Newsom, or the public mistrust in Anthony Fauci’s pronouncements and the CDC’s guidance. It goes beyond Trump’s dangerous game in questioning the election, and beyond surging crime and illegal immigration. Serious as those problems are, an even larger problem encompasses them: threats to our country’s stability are cumulating when the public no longer has confidence in the institutions meant to cope with them.

Charles Lipson is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he founded the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security. He can be reached at

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