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Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National
Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21

CONSERVATIVEBLOG.ORG

Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21

Pandemic Revealed Politicized Science Policy

Pandemic Revealed Politicized Science Policy

Like the COVID-19 pandemic exposed parents to what their children were being taught while they weren’t watching, increased scrutiny of how government health experts performed is fueling concern about the credibility of the nation’s health care regulators and policymakers.

In an analysis by National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D., pandemic performance “highlight[ed] the urgency of reforming federal health research agencies.”

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford epidemiologist and co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration that cautioned against intrusive and unscientific COVID-19 policies, said during a Heartland Institute podcast that “The CDC has failed in deep ways during the pandemic. I think we’re going to need reform of all three agencies.”

Besides the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bhattacharya called for reform of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health.

The CDC is criticized for not collecting relevant pandemic-related data and not releasing data that is did possess. For example, muddled data on masking was criticized by University of California – San Francisco Professor Vinaj Prasad:

A CDC study published in November 2020 that sought to prove mask mandates slowed the spread of the coronavirus found counties in Kansas that implemented mask mandates saw COVID case rates start to fall, while counties that did not mandate masks saw rates continue to climb, says Prasad. However, the CDC’s findings narrowly focused on trends from July and August 2020 and ignored trends over the following months that showed practically no difference in COVID case rates in counties with and without mask mandates.

Prasad concluded:

[T]he CDC’s study was not capable of proving anything and was highly misleading, but it served the policy goal of encouraging cloth mask mandates.

Bonner wrote that “[t]he CDC has divided loyalties to the worlds of science and politics.” And this was evident in vaccine policy – where Prasad said there was a horrible problem of “science as political propaganda.”

Bonner is the co-author of the National Center report “Beyond COVID-19: Blueprint for Restoring Liberty, Rebuilding the Economy, Safeguarding Public Health and Responding to Crises,” which contains 54 recommendations for dealing with domestic, international, legal and medical aspects of crisis response to instances of pandemic.

To read all of Bonner’s analysis – “CDC’s Performance During Pandemic Sparks Calls for Reform” – in the Heartland Institute’s “Health Care News,” click here.

 

Is the Tide Turning on Corporate Wokeness?

Is the Tide Turning on Corporate Wokeness?

“More than a few executives appear to be glimpsing the high costs of politicized corporate management,” writes Free Enterprise Project Director Scott Shepard in his latest commentary for Real Clear Markets.

Scott Shepard“Woke is revealing itself as a barnacle, and companies are responding accordingly,” Scott continues. “The revelation is being assisted, and the response hastened, by external events that have uncovered even to the unthoughtful what should have been clear: taking a highly partisan role in American politics will engender (and is engendering) a political response from those who oppose the partisan stance.”

The column expanded on instances that woke posturing has backfired on corporations, and recent indications of a turning tide. “Exhibit one is the case of DeSantis & Florida v. Chapek & Disney,” Scott writes. “Exhibit two: Disney’s reputation has declined substantially.” Scott also explains how Netflix and Discovery – amid pressure from their plunging stock prices appear to be learning from Disney’s missteps.

Scott also breaks down the more nuanced case of BlackRock, which announced that it will support fewer climate-catastrophist proposals, but is still one of the main sources of ESG and corporate wokeness.

To read the full piece, click here.

Failed Policies Show “Gross Incompetence” of Biden Administration

Failed Policies Show “Gross Incompetence” of Biden Administration

Whether it’s response to crises or plans of their own design, the Biden administration cannot seem to do anything right. Yet the White House and its supporters are quick to try to shift blame elsewhere.

In a discussion on the “Fox News @ Night” program – as part of host Shannon Bream’s “Bream Team” pundit panel, Project 21 Co-chairman Horace Cooper and liberal commentator Richard Fowler were asked to comment on the announcement and subsequent retreat on a ministry of truth-style “Disinformation Governance Board.” A Washington Post report, published in the “Style” section, blamed the “paused” program’s misfire on – of course – conservative disinformation.

Horace made the case as to why the White House has only itself to blame:

This administration failed to explain why they were creating this agency. They failed to explain what this agency is going to be empowered to do. They’ve failed to explain its scope.

But, the problem here as we’re just being told, is it’s right-wingers who have created a narrative. The onus on government, whenever they create anything – whether it’s a new social program or government agency, they have the duty of explaining what it’s going to do. How much it’s gonna cost. What are its responsibilities. They failed abysmally here.

The second topic addressed the current baby formula shortage – a problem the White House initially downplayed. Now, Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up production at home and fly in formula from abroad. President Donald Trump was criticized for using the same law to build up COVID-related supplies such as masks and ventilators.

While Horace hoped this would help ease the strain on worried parents, he added that this is “yet another example of gross incompetence” on the part of the Biden administration:

When this problem was first brought to the administration’s attention – back at the beginning of the year – some action should have been taken. The Secretary of [Health and Human Services] should have been empowered. The Secretary of Agriculture should have been empowered to act affirmatively.

But that never happened:

Now, what we’re seeing is a blame game: oh, it’s not me, it’s the guy behind the tree.

I hope that we see some action soon, but we’ve already had two children hospitalized. How many more before they get this problem behind us?

Despite Horace’s previous comments, Fowler jumped right into trying to find blame elsewhere. He blamed the lack of manufacturers and presented an equity-rooted complaint about the cost of formula. Horace replied:

If any of that were true, why wouldn’t they have stated that… last summer.

And Bream fact-checked Fowler, noting that “people were warning” about the growing supply chain problems like Horace said – including for baby formula – months ago.

Biden Using Tragedy to Divide Americans

Biden Using Tragedy to Divide Americans

A shooting in Buffalo gave the Biden administration a chance to try to draw attention away from a declining economy, supply chain problems and the illegal immigration crisis. In perpetuating it, the president is willingly dividing the American people even further.

But that’s what the White House seems best at doing.

“Joe Biden is hoping that his failed policies will get ignored, and we can focus on racial division instead,” Project 21 Co-chairman Horace Cooper said on the Fox News Channel’s “Jesse Watters Primetime” program. “Sound criminal policy is the answer here.”

Fellow panelist Dana Loesch decried the White House’s immediate politicization of the deaths at an upstate New York grocery store, saying that Biden is “using these tragedies to impugn peoples’ characters.” She noted how this gun-related crime – and others like it – occur in areas where they should not:

Every single thing that they wanted, that they claim is going to prevent these tragedies, they had in place. So let’s talk about what’s not working. Their laws!

In explaining the failure of these laws, Horace explained that all liberals have to offer “is fear.” As Biden hurried to the scene of the crime to try to use the shock and sorrow against his political enemies, Horace criticized this destructive approach to governing:

He plans to divide us and tell us that the biggest problem that we face is that the person who lives in our neighborhood, the person who sits in an office corner next to us may in fact be a person who will threaten us or who might kill us.

I am asking myself a different question. What kind of accountability measures or messages are we sending to people who want to perpetuate these dangerous acts?

I’m told by the media that this person was insane – mentally unsound. Apparently, people who want to kill people are mentally unsound. Let me guess this: he drove 200 miles to get there, and he managed to stay on the right side of the road. He wasn’t so crazy that he drove in the wrong lane. Apparently, when it rains, he actually pulls out an umbrella. When he gets hungry, he eats.

He’s so insane that he shouldn’t be expected to be accountable.

Horace demanded that people be held responsible for their belligerent behavior:

I want to know when the governor of New York is going to announce that we must start holding people accountable, and that includes things like the death penalty.

I promise you – if you start grabbing these folks by the throat, hooking them up to the jumper cables and sending them home to meet their maker, they’ll be cane enough to figure out what to do!

“Amen,” Loesch interjected.

“Those who won’t will no longer be able to be in the midst of us,” Horace insisted.

At the same time that Biden was sprinting to Buffalo, gadfly attorney Benjamin Crump was already there – ingratiating himself with the families of the victims. In a 2021 commentary for American Greatness, Horace called Crump as one of the “racial justice profiteers” who “never shies away from an opportunity to divide.”

Host Jesse Watters said that America is better than Biden and Crump think:

This country has a lot of love for one another. And we’re more united than they want us to believe.

Don’t let people like Joe Biden tell you who or what America is – we know exactly who we are in our hearts.

Intel Refuses to Answer Question About Cozy Relationship with the Chinese; Ignores Own Commitment to Human Rights

Intel Refuses to Answer Question About Cozy Relationship with the Chinese; Ignores Own Commitment to Human Rights

During last week’s annual Intel shareholder meeting, the tech giant refused to answer FEP’s question regarding its controversial relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  Specifically, FEP asked about how the company reconciles its so-called commitment to human rights while remaining such cozy partners with the Chinese government.

The question was prompted by Intel’s unapologetic kowtowing to the CCP in recent months. The whole saga began back in December 2021, when in a letter to its suppliers, the company asked the suppliers to keep their business out of the Xinjiang region of China. According to the Wall Street Journal, the letter noted that “multiple governments have imposed restrictions on products sourced from the Xinjiang region. Therefore, Intel is required to ensure our supply chain does not use any labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region.”

Intel sent the supplier letter in response to congressional action on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Signed into law on December 23, 2021, the Act creates a rebuttable presumption that goods coming from the Xinjiang region of China were made by forced labor and are therefore prohibited from being imported into the United States. The CCP has been found to have committed genocide against the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the region, including acts of involuntary sterilization and birth control and forced labor camps.

But rather than acknowledging the well-established brutality of the CCP against the Uyghur people and adhering to the commitment in its “Global Human Rights Principles” to respect human rights wherever it does business, Intel instead did an about face from its request to get out of Xinjiang.  The company reversed course by apologizing to the CCP after being criticized on Chinese social media outlets and by CCP-run media for its letter asking suppliers to steer clear of the region that has become synonymous with genocide.  “We apologize for the trouble caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public. Intel is committed to becoming a trusted technology partner and accelerating joint development with China,” Intel said as it begged for forgiveness.

Instead of sounding like a company committed to human rights, Intel sounded like the CCP. Indeed, China’s foreign ministry said “accusations of forced labor in Xinjiang are lies concocted by anti-China American forces” aimed at destabilizing China and hindering its development. “We note the statement and hope the relevant company will respect facts and tell right from wrong,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said about the apology during a daily briefing in Beijing.

To make matters worse, weeks after Intel’s apology tour, the company touted its sponsorship of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. In doing so, the company once again sided with the CCP, pretending to the rest of the world that the government was not engaged in mass genocide and human rights abuses while the world watched its best athletes compete in the Chinese capital.

Reconciling Intel’s relationship with the CCP with its Global Human Rights Principles should be a top priority for the company if its alleged human rights commitment is to be construed as anything other than mere lip service. For instance, the company’s policy reads, “At Intel, we are committed to maintaining and improving systems and processes to avoid complicity in human rights violations related to our own operations, our supply chain, and our products.”

Yet being complicit in human rights violations is exactly what the company is doing by issuing apologies to the CCP and sponsoring the “Genocide Olympics.” Intel’s shareholders deserve better—and so do the oppressed ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

Disney’s Disaster by Design

Disney Gay

Disney is no longer the happiest place on earth.

Backing down to the protests of leftist employees, special interests and media commentators, the House of Mouse announced it would use its corporate muscle to fight parental rights legislation signed into law by Florida Governor Rob DeSantis.

According to Project 21 member Deroy Murdock in a Newsmax commentary, “Disney believes that it’s an unacceptable burden to ask teachers to instruct their students on (as the law states) ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ no sooner than fourth grade.”

And Deroy highlighted how the company’s “rotten corporate citizenship cost it… precious goodies.”

After Disney boasted it would jump into the culture wars, state lawmakers pushed back by voting to repeal self-governing privileges that Deroy commented “it never should have received” that “empower[] the Magic Kingdom to establish its own levies, ordinances and emergency services in and around Disney World and its other theme parks.”

Disney also has the ignominious honor of being one of the worst-performing stocks of 2022 so far. Additionally, the architect of its assault on the duly-enacted state law resigned three months into his job.

But there’s more! Deroy pointed out:

Disney’s hypocrisy is more towering than Space Mountain. While it fights this new law as an alleged cornerstone of homophobia, Disney is delighted to conduct business in lethally homophobic countries.

The company happily does business in countries where the LGBT lifestyle is illegal and punishable. This includes Disney Vacation Club tours in Egypt, cruises to Dominica and Anguilla and Disney+ streaming throughout the Arab world.

It didn’t have to be this way:

As this controversy exploded, Team Disney sorely needed adult supervision. Rather than repeat lies, it should have presented facts to its ignorant, enraged employees…

But, rather than lead, [Disney CEO Bob] Chapek waved a white banner and then whimpered beneath his desk.

“The Maoist mobs’ assault on America’s executive suites will continue,” Deroy warned, “until CEOs resist the overpaid adolescents on their staffs, practice in loco parentis, and speed their white flags to the nearest landfill.”

To read all of Deroy’s commentary – “Disney Steps in Mousetrap of Its Own Making” – at Newsmax, click here.

 

Biden Policy for the Little Guy: “Too Bad for You”

Biden Policy for the Little Guy: “Too Bad for You”

When it comes to the machinations of the Biden White House, you can’t make this stuff up. You seriously cannot do it.

As Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper said on the Fox News Channel: “This bad behavior – this destructive behavior – is not a coincidence.”

Horace cited that his old boss, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, liked to say that, in circumstances like this, “you can’t be this wrong by accident.”

In a panel discussion on “The Ingraham Angle” about the apparent lack of White House concern for the priorities of average citizens, also featuring host Laura Ingraham and Congressman Byron Donalds, Horace said that “[p]eople who are not looking out for the American people are making the decisions – and it is time for a day of reckoning.”

Bringing up the $40 billion Ukraine spending package pushed by Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Donalds said the bill “came out of nowhere” just weeks after another aid package was approved and that members had “literally two to three hours to read” the bill before voting on it. Congressman Donalds said he voted against the bill because there was no way to figure out what was in it within that timeframe.

“The American people,” Ingraham noted, “are seeing our country grow weaker and our families grow poorer, day after day. Yet, apparently, money does grow on trees… and we’re gonna send it willy-nilly with literally zero accountability as to where it goes in Ukraine.” Congressman Donalds agreed:

This is the failure of Joe Biden. He’s failed black America. He’s failed white America. He’s failed Hispanic America. Why? Because he just stumbles from crisis to crisis. There is no plan. There is no strategy. He does not know what to do. This White House is a mess.

Commenting that the Biden administration responded with the “usual gaslighting,” suggesting high consumer prices and shortages of essential items like baby formula are the result of hoarding, Ingraham asked: “Why didn’t we hoard during the Trump administration?”

Horace replied:

This is remarkable. Every single one of the terrible results that we see today – they can’t be pandemic-related. This is policy!

President Biden made it worse. Everything he touches has a reverse Midas touch. He destroys things. It’s not gold. It’s a word I can’t say on TV.

Bringing up public concerns about rising crime and the government’s failure to address it, Ingraham said increasing instances of crime are “bleeding into suburban America, but devastating urban America – the people who deserve it least and are struggling the most.”

Horace has had enough:

I am sick and tired of this administration standing up and trying to say how they’re looking out for black Americans, how they’re looking out for the little guy, how they’re looking out for the dispossessed.

The truth of the matter is they have their core constituencies. If you’re a defense contractor, if you’re a climate crazy, they’ve got you covered. But if you’re everybody else – too bad for you.

There’s a killing field happening in too many of the cities in America, and Joe Biden just goes out, gets the milk, gets the cookies and takes a nap – no concern whatsoever.

 

The Law Does Not Shield Woke Corporate Execs

fiduciary duties

“Corporate law provides a ready-built method for policing, at least to some degree, corporate executive self-dealing or incompetence. All that is required now is a modest extension of existing doctrine and precedent,” writes FEP Scott Shepard Director Scott Shepard in his latest commentary for Real Clear Markets.

As Shepard points out, a proper interpretation of business law principles prevents corporate executives from using a legal principle known as the “business-judgment rule” to protect them from consequences of violating their fiduciary duties of care and loyalty.

“Upon the advent of shareholder-derivative suits claiming that executives have breached their legal duties to act in the objective best interests of shareholders, the executives will seek protection behind the ‘business-judgment rule,’ a rule under which courts generally do not second-guess business decisions by corporate executives,” Shepard writes.

But as he notes, although judges tend to be deferential to executives when applying this rule, the rule is not without exception:

[T]he rule is bounded by two limitations…. The first, arising from the fiduciary duty of care, arises in cases of demonstrable executive incompetence. The second, arising from the duty of loyalty, establishes that the rule does not apply in instances in which the courts find evidence that the executives were acting in their own personal interests rather than in the objective best interests of their shareholders (for whom they are, whatever their pretentions, hired managers).

This means that as execs seek to put their own political and policy preferences ahead of their fiduciary duties to shareholders, though they may try to hide behind longstanding corporate law doctrine, that same doctrine nonetheless protects shareholders from decisions that are contrary to their interests.

Shepard’s reference to Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s recent faux pas over Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law is particularly relevant.

Rather than staying silent on a politically charged issue involving the teaching of issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity to young children – Disney’s key demographic – Chapek waged war on Florida, pushing the social agenda of a vocal minority and the Hollywood elite on the citizens of the Sunshinefiduciary duties State. Many estimate that Chapek and Disney’s liberal leadership team have done irreparable damage to Disney’s brand. Though the extent of the damage will reveal itself in the months and years to come, there is no doubt that Disney’s leadership (or lack thereof) has cost it viewers and dollars. Should shareholders seek to file suit for these losses due to Chapek’s poor decision making, Shepard’s legal analysis provides a solid roadmap.

To read Shepard’s analysis in its entirety, click here.

Liberals Risk Americans’ Livelihoods in Appeal to the Far-Left

Liberals Risk Americans’ Livelihoods in Appeal to the Far-Left

“Senate liberals and Joe Biden are demanding economic policies that, frankly, sound like economic disaster.”

That’s the prognosis of Project 21 member Michael Austin, an economist who has been recognized by the American Enterprise Institute as an emerging poverty scholar.

Assessing recent economic policy pronouncements coming from liberal politicians and their possible effects on American prosperity, he said that radical lawmakers are casting aside sound judgment in a quest to please far-left constituencies:

In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for raising tax rates, while Biden is indicating he wants to transfer student debt to taxpayers. What explains this horrible messaging? Not economic necessity. It’s sheer electoral desperation. D.C. liberals concede they can’t convince everyday Americans that their policies work. Now their comments reveal a focus on the midterm elections.

This means throwing working-class Americans under the bus.

In many ways, these politicians are working against each other in ways that will guarantee optimal suffering for Americans already suffering from staggering levels of inflation:

Let’s break down the economics behind these two comments.

Schumer tried to convince the American public that the “only way” to get rid of inflation is to “undo a lot of the Trump tax cuts and raise rates.” Facts say the opposite. Actually, Trump’s tax relief led to increased federal tax revenues, lower tax burdens and lowered inflation. Yet Schumer insists Americans need to be paying more of their earnings to the federal government instead of spending it. This, he seems to think, will drive prices down.

Take this in stark contrast with Joe Biden’s call for “forgiving” student debt. Quite frankly, student debt forgiveness is a pretty political speech for transferring your hard-earned dollars to doctors and lawyers. In effect, it means the wealthy and students have more discretionary income to spend. This will drive prices up.

Together, taxing the United States into a recession and transferring student debt to the taxpayers will have opposing effects on inflation. What is clear is that they will create utter economic chaos. The only economic explanation for this is that it’s not explainable under existing economic theory.

And while liberals seek to bolster their base, Michael believe it may have the opposite effect – causing the scales to fall from the eyes of independents and even liberals suffering in the Biden economy:

If there’s any silver lining, it’s that the left has conceded that American families need economic freedom – not government planning – to see true relief. The bad news is that they no longer care.

Thomas Sowell famously quipped that the top two goals of a politician are to get elected and to get reelected.  Only the far-left fringe is encouraged by raising tax rates and transferring student debt. It’s unfortunate that Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer are more concerned with woke voter turnout than making America an easier place to raise a family and run a business.

Biden’s Disturbing Shrinking Workforce

Biden’s Disturbing Shrinking Workforce

According to government measurements, 428,000 jobs were created in April. But 353,000 Americans left the workforce. It’s not a good sign for the economy.

While the unemployment rate determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics remained steady at 3.6%, the labor participation rate – the total number of Americans in the workforce – fell two-tenths of a point to 62.2%.

As CNBC explained in an article about the employment situation:

That means workers did not return to the labor force in the numbers expected, and in fact, some withdrew. That is not a good sign for an economy with a labor shortage and rising wages.

Such concern is also present in the alternative U-6 employment measurement, which factors in total unemployment with those only marginally attached to the workforce. That rate rose by a tenth of a point to 7.0% – almost twice the rate touted by the White House.

This anemic employment picture, the latest in a series of underperforming results as America tries to bounce back from the COVID pandemic lockdown, has members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network – including economist Michael Austin – worried:

The April jobs report is an unfortunate example of Americans paying more but getting less.

Despite beating job growth expectations, the nation’s labor force shrank by 353,000 people. For those working, hourly wages only grew 5.5% — well under March’s inflation of 8.5%. This means that fewer goods are produced, and what remains on the shelves gets more expensive for families to afford.

With investors’ confidence dropping, another U.S recession may be inevitable. If the Biden administration is truly interested in supporting the economy, it should reduce government waste and give more Americans tax relief.

Melanie Collette

Project 21 member Melanie Collette – the host of the “MoneyTalk with Melanie” radio show – added:

The jobs report is just another reflection of how the Biden economy is failing the American people.

While the Biden administration touts itself as being no friend of big business, businesses with 1,000 or more employees scooped up the majority of the few available workers in an extremely tight labor market. In contrast, businesses with 50 or fewer employees are hemorrhaging staff as historically high inflation rates and staff retention costs eat up their bottom lines.

It is ironic this jobs report was released after Biden said, in his proclamation for National Small Business Week, that he is “committed to unlocking new opportunities to help small businesses grow and compete.” For the 50% of Americans employed by small businesses, Biden’s economic policies are doing the opposite.

And Project 21 member J. Philip Clay, a real estate investment specialist, lamented the squandered potential:

The U.S. adding jobs is a welcome sight. We have finally reached the same unemployment rate as the Trump administration posted in February of 2020. We are seeing historic gains as companies fight to become staffed to meet demands.

But, while these should be wins, the average worker is seeing those pay gains wiped out by this massive inflation for which President Biden has yet to answer.

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