Saturday, April 5, 2014

I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society. By Charles Koch.

I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society. By Charles Koch. The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2014.

Charles Koch Pushes Back in Op-Ed. By Rush Limbaugh., April 3, 2014.

Is Charles Koch Un-American? Let Thomas Jefferson Decide. By Richard (RJ) Eskow. The Huffington Post, April 4, 2014.


I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.
Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation's own government. That’s why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles. I have been doing so for more than 50 years, primarily through educational efforts. It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process.
A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.
More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. “The natural progress of things,” Jefferson wrote, “is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” He knew that no government could possibly run citizens’ lives for the better. The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle. Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.
Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.) This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers.
Rather than try to understand my vision for a free society or accurately report the facts about Koch Industries, our critics would have you believe we’re “un-American” and trying to “rig the system,” that we’re against “environmental protection” or eager to “end workplace safety standards.” These falsehoods remind me of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s observation, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Here are some facts about my philosophy and our company:
Koch companies employ 60,000 Americans, who make many thousands of products that Americans want and need. According to government figures, our employees and the 143,000 additional American jobs they support generate nearly $11.7 billion in compensation and benefits. About one-third of our U.S.-based employees are union members.
Koch employees have earned well over 700 awards for environmental, health and safety excellence since 2009, many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. EPA officials have commended us for our “commitment to a cleaner environment” and called us “a model for other companies.”
Our refineries have consistently ranked among the best in the nation for low per-barrel emissions. In 2012, our Total Case Incident Rate (an important safety measure) was 67% better than a Bureau of Labor Statistics average for peer industries. Even so, we have never rested on our laurels. We believe there is always room for innovation and improvement.
Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs—even when we benefit from them. I believe that cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished.
Koch Industries was the only major producer in the ethanol industry to argue for the demise of the ethanol tax credit in 2011. That government handout (which cost taxpayers billions) needlessly drove up food and fuel prices as well as other costs for consumers—many of whom were poor or otherwise disadvantaged. Now the mandate needs to go, so that consumers and the marketplace are the ones who decide the future of ethanol.
Instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves, America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness. This is what happens when elected officials believe that people's lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves. Those in power fail to see that more government means less liberty, and liberty is the essence of what it means to be American. Love of liberty is the American ideal.
If more businesses (and elected officials) were to embrace a vision of creating real value for people in a principled way, our nation would be far better off—not just today, but for generations to come. I'm dedicated to fighting for that vision. I'm convinced most Americans believe it's worth fighting for, too.

Jeremiah Denton for the Ages. By Rich Lowry.

Jeremiah Denton for the Ages. By Rich Lowry. National Review Online, April 1, 2014. Additional comments at NRO blog The Corner.

Jeremiah Denton Blinking Morse Code “T-O-R-T-U-R-E.” Video. luck3148, January 23, 2013. YouTube.


Jeremiah Denton, the Vietnam War POW who has died at age 89, uttered one of the great statements of defiance in American history.
In 1965, he was shot down in his A-6 during a bombing run over North Vietnam. He became a captive for more than seven years and endured an unimaginable regime of torture, humiliation, and isolation, managing to retain his dignity and spirit even as his captors went to hideous lengths to snuff them out.
Soon after his capture, a young North Vietnamese solider signaled to him to bow down and, when he refused, pressed a gun to his head so hard it created a welt. Denton quickly learned that this would be mild treatment. He was taken to Hoa Lo Prison, or the Hanoi Hilton, where he led the resistance to the North Vietnamese efforts to extract propaganda confessions from their prisoners.
As Denton related in his book, When Hell Was in Session, they tried to starve one out of him. After days, he began to hallucinate, but he still refused. They took him to what was called the Meathook Room and beat him. Then, they twisted his arms with ropes and relented just enough to keep him from passing out. They rolled an iron bar onto his legs and jumped up and down on it. For hours.
He agreed finally to give them a little of what they wanted, but at first his hands were too weak to write and his voice too weak to speak. He hadn’t recovered from this ordeal when the Vietnamese told him he would appear at a press conference.
Denton told a fellow POW that his plan was to “blow it wide open.” He famously blinked T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code during the interview, a message picked up by naval intelligence and the first definitive word of what the prisoners were being subjected to. When asked what he thought of his government’s war, Denton replied, “Whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it, yes sir. I’m a member of that government, and it’s my job to support it, and I will as long as I live.”
The legend is that under the pressure of the Inquisition, Galileo said of the Earth, “Yet, it moves.” That Martin Luther said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”
Denton’s words aren’t an embellishment. They were seen by millions when they were broadcast in the United States, and he almost immediately paid for them in torment so horrifying that he desperately prayed that he wouldn’t go insane.
For two years, he was confined in what was dubbed “Alcatraz,” reserved for the “darkest criminals who persist in inciting the other criminals to oppose the Camp Authority,” in the words of one of the guards. Alvin Townley, author of the book Defiant, writes of the Alcatraz prisoners and their wives back in the States, “Together, they overcame more intense hardship over more years than any other group of servicemen and families in American history.”
When the American involvement in the war ended and the POWs finally were released, Denton made a brief statement on the tarmac upon his return, no less powerful for its simplicity and understatement: “We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander in chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”
A Roman Catholic, Denton told his family that he had forgiven his captors and, after recounting to them on his first night back what he had gone through, that he didn’t want to speak to them of it again. His son James says he often heard him say — with typical modesty — “That’s over. I don’t want to be a professional jailbird.”
He certainly wasn’t that. Denton went on to become a U.S. senator from Alabama. With his passing, we’ve lost a hero whose example of faithfulness and duty should be for the ages.

Jeremiah Denton was the very model of a Jacksonian warrior and hero.

The Elder and the “Assumed Symmetry Fallacy.” By Michael Lumish.

The Elder and the “Assumed Symmetry Fallacy.” By Michael Lumish. Israel Thrives, April 3, 2014. Also at Elder of Ziyon.


The Elder of Ziyon has a recent piece entitled, Peter Beinart cannot tell the difference between a “narrative” and a fact.
Speaking before a group of Democrats and progressives, former New Republic editor, Peter Beinart, said the following concerning conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson:
In 2008, when Tel Aviv University’s Shlomo Sand published a book called “The Invention off the Jewish People,” he was widely called anti-Semitic. When Adelson says the same about Palestinians, he’s a Republican rock star.
This is an example of what the Elder calls the "Assumed Symmetry Fallacy."
He writes:
I am not a logician and do not know of a formal name for this fallacy, but let’s call it the Assumed Symmetry Fallacy: the assumption that two sides – by virtue of their opposition – are falsely assumed to be symmetric.
This is a very important insight and one that we need to consider and discuss.  The western world tends to think of the Arab war against the Jews as a matter of symmetry.  They use terms like “cycles of violence” or the “Israel-Palestine” conflict, both of which suggest a symmetry of power and hostility.
This is not merely a matter of false analogy, as one of his commenters suggests, but of a systemic bias against the Jewish minority in the Middle East via medias and governments throughout the world.  It is a bias in which it generally suggested that the Jewish minority deserves a good beating because we are mean to the “Palestinians.”
The Jews of the Middle East, via the State of Israel, are now a powerful people and we should be very proud, as Jews and friends of the Jewish State, of their accomplishments. The success of Israel is nothing short of remarkable, given its humble beginnings. Israel has the most powerful military in the entire region and one of the best economies, given its relative size, of any country in the world. Israel is creative, innovative, technological, internationally-minded, and sophisticated.
However, the Jews of the Middle East also represent a tiny minority surrounded by a much larger, hostile majority of Muslims who have made it very clear, over the long and brutal course of 1,400 years, that they simply will not stand for Jewish sovereignty on historically Jewish land and will do everything within their power to make life miserable for the Jewish minority. They teach their children that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs and that killing Jewish people is pleasing in the sight of Allah. They wage war against us. They shoot rockets at us. They strap suicide belts onto women and children because when Muslim women and children commit suicide in an effort to murder Jews it is considered not merely a noble act, but the most noble spiritual act of the shaheed.
The truth of the matter is that in the Long Arab War Against the Jews of the Middle East, there is no symmetry. In terms of numbers, resources, land mass, every advantage goes to the Arabs. They outnumber the Jews by a factor of 60 or 70 to 1 throughout the region. They conquered and control over 99% of the entire Middle East, with the sole exception of the Jewish State of Israel, and are driving Christians out of the region entirely. They hold all non-Muslims under submission to Islam within the system of dhimmitude since the rise of that religion in the 7th century.
And now they literally create a brand-spanking new people, the “Palestinians,” for the distinct purpose of countering Jewish sovereignty and freedom on historically Jewish land. So, no, there is no symmetry in this fight.
The Jews are fighting to maintain freedom and sovereignty and the great Arab majority is dedicated to destroying that freedom and sovereignty and will ruin their own cousins, the Palestinian-Arabs, in order to keep them as the dagger pointed at the heart of the Jewish people on Jewish land.
Peter Beinart, it should be noted, is perhaps the single foremost example of Jewish dhimmitude in the public square today. He represents an excellent example of the kind of Jewish "progressive" who cannot only not bring himself to take his own side in a fight, but who has so incorporated the "Palestinian narrative" of pristine victim-hood into his understanding of the conflict that he honestly believes that the besieged Jewish minority in the Middle East are the aggressors upon their former Arab-Muslim masters.
Finally, and most importantly, the Elder is generally correct when he writes this:
The Palestinian Arabs are a recently invented people. They exist today, to be sure, but they were not a “people” before 1948 at the very earliest. Westerners who drew the borders after World War I created what today's Palestinian Arabs laughably call “historic Palestine” – arbitrary lines that surrounded a people who had as much in common with those across those lines as with those within them. Arabs in the Galilee had more in common with those in Damascus than those in Bethlehem. Tribes and families trumped geography (and they often still do.) They became a “people” because of how their Arab brethren refused to allow them to integrate into their countries, forcing them to suffer as a separate group that eventually did turn them into a people. Arabs themselves admit freely that they kept Palestinian Arabs in miserable conditions in order to foster their nascent “unity.”
And that, of course, is his primary point concerning the Assumed Symmetry Fallacy. The Jews have been a people for over 3,500 years and perhaps considerably longer. Among the peoples of the earth the Jews, along with the Chinese and other indigenous peoples, are among the oldest on the planet. Jews are also, along with native Americans, for example, among the most persecuted. The Palestinian-Arabs, by contrast, only emerged as an allegedly distinct people toward the end of the twentieth-century and did so for the specific purpose of beating up on the Jews.
And I suppose this is where I disagree with the Elder. Are the “Palestinians” a distinct and separate people from Jordanian Arabs or Syrian Arabs or Egyptian Arabs? The classical definition of nationhood would suggest not. So-called “Palestinians” share the same religion with other Arabs, the same food-stuffs, generally speaking, with other Arabs, the same language and traditions. The “Palestinians” are Arabs. Period. And, in fact, most of them immigrated into the area following the Jewish aliyahs around the turn of the century.
The Jewish people are under no obligation to recognize a brand-new allegedly distinct people who came into existence for the explicit purpose of robbing the tiny Jewish minority of sovereignty on Jewish land.
The truth of the matter is that we owe them nothing.
If this sounds rather harsh, I am sorry, but the “Palestinians” have turned down every single offer for a state in peace next to Israel since 1937. They are never going to accept a Jewish presence with autonomy on land that was once captured by the forces of Islam, because to do so contradicts the very reason that they came into existence as an allegedly distinct ethnicity to begin with.
What the Elder understands, and what Beinart clearly does not, is that there is no symmetry. Shlomo Sand is a racist and a traitor to his people. The very notion that the Jews are a recently invented people is historically preposterous and Sand is a fraud. Adelson, however, whatever one may make of his politics, was correct if he suggested that the “Palestinians” are a newly invented people.
This is not a matter of opinion.
It is a matter of fact.