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Trump rejects socialism at SOTU as expressionless Dems sit unmoved

Socialism Is Not Democratic

Postby smix » Tue May 28, 2019 7:31 am

Socialism Is Not Democratic
National Review

URL: https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine ... emocratic/
Category: Politics
Published: May 16, 2019

Description: Nor is it compatible with the Constitution
Back in 2011, while covering Occupy Wall Street, I was accosted by a man wearing a large cardboard box. On this box, which he wore around his torso as might a child pretending to be a robot, he had scribbled down a theory that, at first glance, seemed more sophisticated than most that were on display. “Hey, man,” he said to me, “it’s up to us.” To explain, he turned around to reveal the other side of the box, which bore a single word: democracy. Then, having paused for effect, he turned around again and pointed to the front, on which he had written down almost every single economic system that had been tried in human history: capitalism, socialism, mercantilism, autarky, distributism, fascism, feudalism, potlatch, mutualism, and so forth. “It’s up to us,” he said again. “It’s our democracy, and we can choose the economy we want.” Further conversation revealed that he believed this quite literally. In his view, democracy was the sole nonnegotiable element of our political system, while everything else was up for grabs. If a majority wanted to nationalize the banks or abolish private property or bar all international trade or invade Brazil and harvest its resources, that was its prerogative. As might be expected, he had a prediction and a predilection: Socialism, he explained, was both the most likely system to be adopted, because it catered to the “majority, not the 1 percent,” and the best, because it would fix all of America’s problems without any downsides. “It’s up to us.” I have thought about this conversation frequently since then, because it highlights some of the core misconceptions held by socialism’s champions, which are, in no particular order, that the retention of a democratic system of government makes massive state intervention more acceptable, that “capitalism” is a “system” in the same way as is “socialism,” and that liberal democracy — and, in particular, America’s brilliant constitutional order — can survive the establishment of a socialist economy. Because I was there to write about the protests rather than to get into prolonged arguments, I listened and probed rather than disputed his contention. Had I been debating him, however, my rejoinder would have been a simple one: No, it’s not “up to us.” Or, at least, it’s not up to “us” in the way that my friend in the cardboard box was using the word “us.” As I write, ascendant elements within the American Left are engaged in a sustained attempt to reintroduce and rehabilitate the word “socialism,” in part by prepending to it a word that has a much better reputation and an infinitely better historical record: “democratic.” Voters should not be fooled by the rebranding, for there is no sense in which socialism can be made compatible with democracy as it is understood in the West. At worst, socialism eats democracy and is swiftly transmuted into tyranny and deprivation. At best — and I use that word loosely — socialism stamps out individual agency, places civil society into a straitjacket of uniform size, and turns representative government into a chimera. The U.S. Constitution may as a technical matter be silent on most economic questions, but it is crystal clear on the appropriate role of government. And the government that it permits is incompatible with, and insufficient to sustain, socialism. This is deliberate. In the United States, and beyond, we do not think about our democracy in purely procedural terms. While majority rule on certain political questions is indeed deemed imperative, we nevertheless reject the notion that majorities may do whatever they wish, we demand that our institutions leave room for civil society and for individuals, and we insist upon a broad presumption of liberty that extends across all areas of human activity. It is reasonably well understood in this country that to place the word “democratic” in front of, say, “speech restrictions” or “warrantless searches” or “juryless criminal prosecutions” would be in no way to legitimize those things or to make them more compatible with the preservation of a free society. It is less well understood that to place the word “democratic” in front of “socialism” is an equally fruitless endeavor — and for the same reasons. To those whose conception of “democracy” is limited entirely to the question of “Who won the most votes?” this may seem paradoxical. To those familiar with the precepts beneath the Anglo-American tradition, however, it should be quite obvious. Just as the individual right to free speech is widely comprehended as part of what we mean by “democracy” rather than as an unacceptable abridgment of majority rule, so the individual rights protected in property and by markets are necessary to the maintenance of a democratic order — in this, deeper, sense of the word. In the West, choosing to trade with a person in another country is, itself, a democratic act. Electing to start a company in your garage, with no need for another’s imprimatur, is, itself, a democratic act. Banding together to establish a cooperative is, itself, a democratic act. Selecting the vendor from which you source your goods and services — and choosing what to buy from it — is, itself, a democratic act. Keeping the lion’s share of the fruits of your labor is, itself, a democratic act. When governments step in with their bayonets and say “No!” they are, in effect, keeping your choices off the ballot. Properly understood, the attempt to draw a hard line between “democracy” and “economics” is not only a fool’s game but a game that socialists do not in fact play themselves. Ugo Okere, a self-described “democratic socialist” who ran for the Chicago City Council earlier this year, was recently praised in Jacobin magazine for explaining that “democratic socialism, to me, is about democratic control of every single facet of our life.” That’s one way of putting it, certainly. Another is “tyranny.” Or, if you prefer, democratic tyranny. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that “the health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.” Lose those functions in America, and you lose democracy in America, too. And then there is the question of socialism’s substantive record, which is so extraordinarily disastrous that it renders my friend-in-the-box’s theoretical argument useless even on its own terms. It is, in a strictly technical sense, “up to us” whether we choose to, say, smash ourselves repeatedly in the face with a hammer, but that is neither here nor there given that nobody in his right mind would elect to smash himself in the face with a hammer. We should avoid socialism with a similar diligence — and for similar reasons. History has shown us that socialism exhibits three core defects from which it cannot escape and which its champions cannot avoid. The first is what Hayek termed “the knowledge problem.” This holds that all economic actors make errors based on imperfect knowledge but that a decentralized economy will suffer less from this, partly because the decision-makers are closer to the information they need, and partly because each actor does not wield total control over everything but is only one part of a larger puzzle. The second problem is that, because socialism eliminates both private property and supply and demand, it eliminates rational incentives and, thereby, rational calculation. The third problem is that socialism, following Marx’s dialectical theory of history, lends itself to a theory of inevitability or preordination that leaves no room for dissent, and that leads in consequence to the elevation of a political class that responds to failure by searching for wreckers and dissenters to punish. Worse still, because socialists view all questions, including moral questions, through a class lens, these searches tend to be deemed morally positive — bound, one day, to be regarded by History as Necessary. Together, these defects lead to misery, poverty, corruption, ignorance, authoritarianism, desperation, exodus, and death. Ironically enough, they also lead to socialism’s exhibiting a record of failure in precisely the areas where it is supposed to excel. Despite the promises in the brochure, socialism has been terrible at helping the poor; it has been terrible at helping women advance; it has been terrible for civil liberties; it been terrible at helping the environment; it has been terrible at attracting immigrants; it has been terrible at tolerating and protecting minorities; it has been terrible at fostering technology, architecture, and art; it has been terrible at producing agriculture; and, worst of all, it has been terrible at sharing power and resources — indeed, it has done precisely the opposite, creating new “ruling classes” that are far less adept, far less responsive, and far less responsible than the ones they replaced. It has become something of a running joke that, whenever socialism’s history is highlighted, its diehard advocates insist that “that wasn’t real socialism.” This defense is frustrating. But it is also instructive, in that it is an admission that, like perpetual motion, socialism has never been realized in the world. The U.S. Constitution has survived for so long because it was built upon the understanding that man is imperfect and always will be, because it accepts that selfishness is ineradicable and so must be harnessed, because it acknowledges that power corrupts as much in our era as it ever did, and because it makes provisions for the fact that disunity is inevitable in any free society. Capitalism, too, has survived because it is built on truth rather than myths. Socialism, by contrast, has failed each and every time it has been tried because it is predicated upon precisely the opposite — that is, precisely the wrong — assumptions. One would have imagined that, at some point, “That wasn’t real socialism . . .” would have been followed by “. . . and real socialism can’t exist because man isn’t perfectible, selfishness is ineradicable, power has needed restraining since the dawn of time, and political unity is a dangerous and undesirable myth.” Alas, no such recognition has yet been forthcoming. In the 20th century, Communism killed at least 100 million people — by democide, by famine, by central planning, by war — and yet it is still acceptable to say in public that it was a “nice idea.” In the post-war period, “democratic” socialism ravaged the economies of the West like a virus and required a counterrevolution to remove, and yet it remains sufficiently seductive to a slice of the public as to present a threat to the American order. Today, the states that have actively rejected socialism are growing fast (India, Poland, the former East Germany) while those that fell prey to the temptation are either moribund (Greece), tyrannies (China), or international pariahs (Cuba and North Korea) — and yet there is still a solipsistic cottage industry dedicated to blaming their successes and failures on decisions made by the United States. The damn thing is ineradicable. And so we get Venezuela. That Hugo Chávez’s centrally planned “Bolivarian Revolution” has descended into dictatorship, repression, starvation, and crisis was apparently genuinely shocking to a good number of the people who write about politics for a living. Six years ago, upon Chávez’s death, the Guardian’s Simon Reid-Henry reflected the consensus view on the left by arguing that Chávez had shown “that the West’s ways aren’t always best” by “[refashioning] Venezuelan democracy in ways that he thought better addressed the country’s long-standing development issues.” His paper’s editorial board went one further, describing Chávez’s work as an “unfinished revolution.” Predictably enough, this was in fact a correct characterization of Venezuela’s fate — just not in the way that the Guardian had anticipated. Five years after that edition went to print, Ricardo Hausmann, the former chief economist of the Inter-American Development Bank, was explaining that “Venezuela’s economic catastrophe dwarfs any in the history of the U.S., Western Europe or the rest of Latin America.” Surprise! “The West’s ways aren’t always best”? The Venezuelan president is now a ruthless dictator who has cracked down on free speech, prohibited mass political protests, and confiscated firearms from anyone who has been even remotely critical of him. Thirteen percent of the country’s population has now fled, and those who have remained have been left so degraded by the government’s price controls that they have gone years without toilet paper, meat, and other basic necessities and have in consequence taken to eating zoo animals for sustenance and to scouring garbage bags for supplies. According to the Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela, the country is suffering through an 85 percent medicine shortage and a 90 percent shortage of basic medical supplies. The child-mortality rate has increased 140 percent. Ninety percent of Venezuelans now live in poverty. This year, the IMF predicts, inflation will hit 10 million percent. All this in a country with the world’s largest oil reserves — reserves greater than those of the United States by a factor of ten. “It’s up to us.” One of the great advantages to living at the tail end of 6,000 years or so of human civilization is the chance we have been afforded to look back and learn from the lessons accrued by others without having to go through the pain of learning them for ourselves. History is a complicated thing, and should be treated as such, but there are nevertheless a few core rules by which we can live: Do not inflict laws on others to which you would not subject yourself; ensure that you distribute power among several rival institutions, and, if possible, several geographical locations; never relinquish the right to free speech, the right to free conscience, the right to freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, or the right to a jury trial; insist on being represented by a parliament, and make sure that you prohibit that parliament from loaning its powers to a king, temporarily or permanently; do not ask people to give up more of their income than they are permitted to keep; and don’t, whatever you do, be seduced by socialists bearing promises. And if you are seduced, get out before it’s too late. You have nothing to lose but your chains.



Education Is Socialism’s Only Antidote
National Review

URL: https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/05/ ... -antidote/
Category: Politics
Published: May 17, 2019

Description: The increasing popularity of this authoritarian ideology demands a strong, serious, sustained response from all who cherish our experiment in self-government.
Socialism is having a moment in America. Everyone knows about Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but the phenomenon goes much deeper. At the local level, self-identified socialists are running for office and winning, usually as Democrats, from Seattle and St. Louis to Milwaukee, Chicago, and New York. In many places across America, their electoral success is transforming what it means to be a Democrat. Meanwhile, the country’s most prominent socialist political organization, the Democratic Socialists of America, grew in membership ninefold from 2014 to 2019 and now has 50,000 members. The danger, more immediate than it may appear, is that the socialist moment may become a sustained movement. For the past three years, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, where I work, has conducted a poll with YouGov to ascertain Americans’ preferred form of government. The results are alarming. In our 2018 poll, we found that more than half of Millennials say they would prefer to live in a socialist or Communist country. Only 40 percent want to live in a capitalist America. By partial way of explanation, more than a quarter of Millennials report receiving no education on the ideology of Marx and Lenin or the history of Communist regimes. They simply don’t know what socialism and Communism entail. These numbers reflect only the views of a single generation, born from the 1980s to the early 2000s and raised at a time when the evils of socialism and Communism did not weigh as heavily on the public consciousness as they had during the Cold War. Yet Millennials now represent the largest generational cohort in the United States, and they will increasingly dominate the electorate. For still-younger generations, to whom that history is even more distant, the numbers will almost certainly be even more pronounced. The ramifications for America’s future politics are troubling. Nothing other than a horrible failure of education can explain this trend. At every level, institutions of learning neglect to teach the innumerable benefits of free enterprise and the grave perils of collective control, if they teach the history of economics at all. Too many high schools teach their students to despise the market system that enriched America and much of the world. Too many colleges teach that collectivism is the only moral alternative to the market. No wonder rising generations pine for an ideology that has wrought poverty and despair everywhere it has been tried: They don’t know its long record as a gateway to totalitarian government. Young Americans rightly fear tyranny, which is why they typically distance themselves from the label “Communist” and call themselves “democratic socialists.” But that distinction has little basis in reality. Self-described democratic socialists may think they are advocating Scandinavian policies — never mind that the Scandinavian countries in question self-identify as market economies and are properly understood as high-tax welfare states. If there is such a thing as democratic socialism, it means you vote once or twice before the socialists in power begin to erode the institutions of law and democratic representation as they suffocate enterprise and control the use of property. Democracy withers as socialism grows; they will not coexist for long. When the tipping point is reached, democracy quickly gives way to restrictions on freedom, and ultimately outright dictatorship. Just look at the tragedy of modern Venezuela, where the election of “democratic socialist” Hugo Chávez set the country on a 20-year journey that has left in its wake murdered dissidents, crippling inflation and debt, famine, medicine shortages, and the theft of state and private assets on a staggering scale. Such tragedies are the inevitable result of socialist government, not just in Venezuela but in each of the 40 or so nations that have actually tried it. Socialism inevitably leads toward national collapse. The ideology is predicated on the promise of equality of outcome, which makes for a dandy rhetorical flourish. American socialist (and failed presidential candidate) Eugene V. Debs promised a world where “no man will work to make a profit for another.” Even earlier, French socialist Jean Jaurès declared that socialism’s “aim . . . is to transform capitalist property into social property.” Marx and Engels predicted that such transformation would occur through a “dictatorship of the proletariat” and lead to a utopia in which government would no longer be needed and the state would “wither away.” But in real life, almost immediately after seizing power in the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin realized that utopia was a very distant prospect. To make sense of the moment, he presented a unifying theory that brought Marx’s vision into the modern world. “In striving for socialism,” Lenin said in 1917, “we are convinced it will develop into Communism.” You might say that as Christians aspire to reach heaven, socialists work to achieve Communism. And so Lenin established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, trying to harness the forces of earthly power to bring about the Marxist dream of a perfect world. The result in dozens of national experiments since then has been totalitarian dictatorship, economic collapse, or both, at the cost of some 100 million lives. In Marxist-Leninist thought, this human cost was a price worth paying during the supposedly temporary “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Despite the stated goals of demagogues, Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek foresaw in The Road to Serfdom that such a dictatorship would not be a temporary phase but the end result of socialism: “A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.” No matter where or in what form it takes root, every socialist experiment struggles to overcome the stubborn realities of human nature and the limitations of central planning. The process of transforming “capitalist property” — that is, something legitimately purchased, inherited, or otherwise earned — into “social property” always involves winners and losers arbitrarily picked by government. The dictatorship doesn’t stop there. The loss of private property — which ensures one’s independent livelihood — erodes one’s ability to exercise free speech. What if the owner of property taken by the government dares to protest its seizure and calls it theft? That sort of dissent must be stifled to maintain order, so free speech is replaced by government-sanctioned propaganda. Anti-government opinions are shamed, and those expressing them are barred from forums such as elected assemblies, church pulpits, media publications, and colleges and universities. As the cycle continues, the consequences only grow worse. These tendencies transcend time and technology. Mao Zedong’s shaming of farmers, priests, and protective mothers in the village square during the Cultural Revolution has become current chairman Xi Jinping’s online social-credit system, which ranks citizens based on their loyalty to the state. This system, synced with facial-recognition cameras in nearly every public space, is part of what Xi calls “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Those deemed a bad socialist face everything from restrictions on employment and travel to detention in one of China’s growing number of “reeducation camps,” in which Marxist indoctrination, physical torture, forced abortion, and organ harvesting are conducted. The 21st-century Chinese Communist party has achieved a high-tech totalitarianism more total than anything George Orwell could have imagined. Communist regimes not only wreck their own populations with socialist policies but also threaten their neighbors and the wider world. This was true when Lenin invaded Poland in 1919, almost immediately after securing power in Russia, and it is true today. The party of Mao is militarizing islands outside its borders and vying for superpower status. Cuba, still ruled by the Castro family, has turned Venezuela and Nicaragua into de facto client states, impoverishing both while spreading its socialist ideology. North Korea is more concentration camp than country as its ruler tries to hold the free world hostage with nuclear weapons. Even Russia, under the rule of Vladimir Putin, is desperately trying to rebuild its empire and regain the prestige that it once had. The destructive effects of what the Czech dissident poet Václav Havel called the “radiation of totalitarianism” are everywhere present in the former USSR. The problem is that far too few young Americans are taught any of this. They think socialism is merely a question of better roads, free health care, and free college, when for millions of people around the world socialism is a matter of life and death. It all comes down to education. Our organization already works with middle-school and high-school teachers and college professors in all 50 states, providing them with the resources and tools they need to teach the facts about socialism and Communism. We’re working to expand and scale these efforts to reach every student in America. State boards of education would do well to require schools to provide in-depth and accurate accounts of 20th-century history. So would institutions of higher learning. Educational efforts could be centered around specific days of remembrance. In 2017, President Trump declared the first ever National Day for the Victims of Communism on November 7 — a day that we believe should be commemorated every year. We have already begun working with state lawmakers to make that dream a reality. Virginia was the first to adopt the day in 2018, and many other states are now following suit. More broadly, we have no more powerful tool than human rights. The Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky has called human rights a “powerful non-conventional weapon” against which the other side has no defense. Opponents of totalitarianism must demonstrate the connection between socialist ideals and the gulags of the Soviet Union, the killing fields of Cambodia, the concentration camps of Xinjiang, the terrors of North Korea, the famine in Venezuela, and the countless other scenes of carnage that have arisen when a select few were empowered to force equality on the masses. To make this link is to disabuse young Americans of the belief that socialism means “justice.” Our task is particularly urgent now. The current rage for socialism is not based on a discussion of facts and the historical record; it has been fostered by ignorance, misinformation, and emotion. For too many Americans, the memory of socialism’s failures either faded long ago or never existed in the first place. In turn, socialism has become a fad, a calling card for the young and progressive. We may laugh at self-proclaimed socialists’ tweets and angry stump speeches today, but the deceitful and envious arguments they contain still have the power to undermine our system of government and way of life. Venezuelans never imagined they were on the road to a Cuban-style regime when Chávez promised them the moon 20 years ago and won their votes. The calls for socialism in America demand a strong, serious, and sustained response from all who cherish our experiment in self-government.
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The Global Warming Hoax: It's About Socialism

Postby smix » Fri May 31, 2019 3:07 am

The Global Warming Hoax: It's About Socialism
Fulcrum7

URL: http://www.fulcrum7.com/news/2019/4/23/ ... -socialism
Category: Politics
Published: April 23, 2019

Description: For a decade I’ve been saying that the theory of man-made global warming is like a watermelon: green on the outside, red on the inside. Superficially it is about environmentalism, but at deeper level it is about central command of the economy—socialism. Because if you can convince people that carbon dioxide will super-heat the planet and has to be carefully regulated, you can control every aspect of human existence, right down to breathing, because we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. You can control all aspects of power generation, commercial and residential construction, all aspects of transportation and the manufacture of vehicles, how warm or cool people can keep their houses, how far people may commute to work, all aspects of business and leisure travel, etc. The purported need to police carbon dioxide is the golden key that unlocks the door to centralized state control of every aspect of economic life. The timing was a tip off, too. When did you first hear about the menace of man-made global warming? Wasn’t it in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and after “communist” China had begun turning to privately owned businesses to manufacture its exports? It was within a few years after socialism—common ownership of the means of production—was thoroughly discredited as a theory for organizing economies, and generally abandoned (except in Cuba and North Korea), that we began to hear about man-made global warming. The whole world having just witnessed the total debunking of socialism as an economic theory, the utopian totalitarians, which, like the poor, ye apparently have always with ye, needed a new excuse to control the economy and micro-manage everyone’s life. Well, now you don’t have to accept this theory from me. It is out in the open. The proponents of the notion that your SUV is cooking the planet are not even pretending anymore. They’re just coming right out and admitting that the whole thing is about socialism. At the Guardian, Phil McDuff’s column’s is headed, “Ending climate change requires the end of capitalism. Have we got the stomach for it?” Climate change, McDuff informs us, the fault of private ownership of business:
“Climate change is the result of our current economic and industrial system. [Green New Deal]-style proposals marry sweeping environmental policy changes with broader socialist reforms because the level of disruption required to keep us at a temperature anywhere below ‘absolutely catastrophic’ is fundamentally, on a deep structural level, incompatible with the status quo.”

So according to McDuff of the Guardian, if you want the planet to survive, you have to abandon capitalism, a method of economic organization that works well and has raised living standards throughout the world, and stratospherically in the West, and embrace socialism, which has failed utterly and miserably everywhere it has been tried, absolutely without exception. Another recent article in the Guardian, by Jeff Sparrow asks, “Is socialism the Answer to the Climate Catastrophe?” and answers, yes, “there’s every reason to expect various versions of socialism to play an increasingly important role in discussions about the climate catastrophe.” In the May issue of Harper’s Magazine, Kevin Baker spends a long article rhapsodizing about the Tennessee Valley Authority, and all the hydro-electric dams it built in the 1930s, as a preface for promoting the “Green New Deal.” Baker notes that even the New York Times is skeptical about the Green New Deal, writing:
“Is the Green New Deal aimed at addressing the climate crisis? Or is addressing the climate crisis merely cover for a wish-list of progressive policies and a not-so-subtle effort to move the Democratic Party to the Left? . . . Read literally, the resolution wants not only to achive a carbon-neutral energy system but also to transform the economy itself.”

“The answers to these questions,” writes Baker, “are yes and yes. We must address climate change, and we must transform the way our political and economic systems work in this country . . .” He concludes that the brilliance of the Green New Deal is in acknowledging that “we cannot go on as we have, not only in degrading the earth but also in degrading each other, through the existing economic system we have allowed to overrun us.” Only someone who never lived in a socialist command economy, like Kevin Baker, could imagine that a free-market economy is more “degrading” than a centrally planned, socialist economy. Those who lived through socialism are easily able to spot the Global Warming Hoax for what it is: an excuse for socialism. The former president of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, stated in a 2011 speech in Australia:
"They want to restrict our freedom because they themselves believe they know what is good for us. They are not interested in climate. They misuse the climate in their goal to restrict our freedom. Therefore, what is in danger is freedom, not the climate."

Klaus, who spent much of his early life fighting the communist government of Czechoslovakia, admitted he is very sensitive to this issue. But "I am afraid that some of the people who spend their lives in a free society don't appreciate sufficiently all the issues connected with freedom. So my oversensitivity is like an alarm clock warning about the potential development, which I am really afraid of."
"I feel threatened now, not by global warming — I don't see any — (but) by the global-warming doctrine, which I consider a new dangerous attempt to control and mastermind my life and our lives, in the name of controlling the climate or temperature."

Klaus notes the great irony in this: that the socialists governments of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe were the worst polluters of all:
"They don't care about resources or poverty or pollution. They hate us, the humans. They consider us dangerous and sinful creatures who must be controlled by them. I used to live in a similar world called communism. And I know it led to the worst environmental damage the world has ever experienced."

If the socialist loons are no longer pretending, I don’t see any need to pretend any longer, either. The great Man-Made Gobal Warming Hoax is nonsense. The pope supports it because he seeks to leverage climate hysteria into an international Sunday law. But the rest of us should decry it for what it is and always has been—a socialist stratagem.
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