Chapman’s News & Ideas

It was a Happy VE Day!

My brother Howard Chapman, lawyer, philanthropist, author and honorary fellow of Discovery Institute, wrote the following recollection from the day the Germans surrounded in World War II: <a href="“>http://www.journalgazette.net/opinion/columns/WAR-AND-REMEMBRANCE-6467717


Summarizing Global Warming–Update

Some people thought Pope Francis was going to pull an Al Gore last week and denounce global warming. A number of climatologists did go to the Vatican and the Holy Father did speak in general terms about the subject humanity’s responsibility for nature. But maybe he had second thoughts after reading an open letter from a number of Catholic scholars on the topic of warming who think the issue is either over-stated or mis-stated. Sometime this summer he may have more to say on the topic, but it is hard to see how he might leap into a subject where, let us say, expressing climate alarm would win him praise mainly from people who disagree with him on everything else. Read More ›


From the Folks Who Brought You Camels and Lucky Strike: “Consensus”

Spend some time with old Time Magazines or Look circa 1950 and you’ll find ad after ad touting the doctors who smoke Camels or Lucky Strike. The PR agencies surveyed the doctors, sometimes counting hundreds of thousands of them, then advised readers that such and such brand was “not irritating on the throat”, was “soothing” and other euphemisms for scientific approval of what turned out to be a deadly product. Most doctors smoked in those days. There was a kind of consensus that smoking was okay, especially if you bought a particular brand, one with filters, perhaps. That the incidence of lung and throat cancer was rocketing up didn’t register fully on medical practitioners for a long while. The connection Read More ›


Tech “Elders” Oppose Obama Internet Grab

Discovery Sr. Fellow George Gilder and other “elders” of the privatized Internet era expressed their alarm over drive by the FCC and Obama Administration to put Internet innovation under federal regulation in the name of “Net Neutrality”. They want an “open Internet” instead.

The Daily Caller said, “Tech elder George Gilder, a futurist author and co-founder of the Discovery Institute, told TheDCNF that businesses have no incentive to interfere with Internet freedom. ‘Their interests are aligned with an open Internet,’ he noted, ‘and the idea that Title II can impose an open internet is just quixotic.'”

A sizable media contingent covered the “elders” presser, and noted the significance of leaders such as Bob Metcalf, John Perry Barlow, Mark Cuban and Scott McNeilly, among others, speaking out on a controversial subject. Daniel Berniger organized the event.

George Gilder advised me today that the Internet companies now represent almost half the value of the NASDAQ and that putting the FCC into the role of regulating them–using the old telephone company model of 1934–could greatly damage economic growth. “It’s Obama’s biggest socialist grab so far,” Gilder said. Read More ›


Corker Bill is Still Best Hope Against Bad Iran Deal

Originally published at The Stream.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote next week on the Corker/Menendez bill to require a subsequent vote on any Iran deal that the Obama Administration completes by early summer. There is great uncertainty about everything involved, however.

To start with, the Iranians and the American Administration are saying contradictory things about what they have “agreed” on. Increasingly, as the Israelis have figured out, Obama and Kerry are so eager — or is it desperate? — to get something, anything, they can call an accomplishment that they will concede practically everything other than a useless promise not to build a bomb. And maybe even that. Read More ›


Obama’s Dead End on Iran

Originally published at The Stream.

In the late 80s I was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna, which included the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Even then the Iranians were known to be working toward a bomb — and stonewalling the IAEA’s inspectors. They have been building—and stonewalling — ever since. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration in recent years has been enabling rather than thwarting the Iranians’ deceptions. Read More ›


Iran: Sen. Corker Plays His Hidden Hand

It’s the equivalent of a domestic diplomatic coup.

Many people have been frustrated with the Republicans in Congress for not “doing” anything to prevent a ruinous nuclear agreement with Iran. Sen. Tom Cotton did get 47 GOP signatures on a statement warning that a Presidential agreement without Congressional approval could be over-turned easily by a new President (in less than two years). And that did sober up the Iranians. But it was still only 47 senators. Why were so many Democrats silent, and where was the GOP Leadership?

Well, the answer is, they were biding their time. Whereas the Administration’s diplomacy has been conspicuously clumsy and wrongheaded, Sen. Bob Corker, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has been exceeding diplomatic–in the best sense. The result is today’s triumphant bi-partisan committee vote to require Congressional approval of any agreement between President Obama and the Iranian regime. This probably will come as a shock in Tehran. But there still appears to be a bi-partisan majority in Congress for clear headed foreign policy.

Sen. Corker deserves credit for the way he managed this elaborate process. Omri Ceren, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. who keeps a listserv well-advised of daily developments of the Iran nuke story, covers today’s exciting developments in the message below. The best part is the collapse of White House resolve to veto a bill once it was clear the veto would not be sustained. At last! Read More ›


Valuable, Under-Reported Protection from Nuclear Attack

You have plenty to worry about, don’t you, without turning your anxious eyes to the problem of possible nuclear attack on the U.S. Even less worrisome for most people is the chance of an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack that would close down electricity, computers–everything but pre-modern infrastructure–for half or more of the country. Both kinds of danger have been described eloquently by Discovery Sr. Fellow John Wohlstetter (Sleepwalking with the Bomb), among others.

Yet the possible can become the probable without preventive measures. The point of missile defense is to make it clear to adversaries that an attack is likely to fail and to lead to a very successful counter-attack. The good news that is not being widely reported is that the military is doing something about it–finally.

Former Ambassador Henry Cooper and his High Frontier group are hailing the Pentagon’s $700 million investment in a hardened nerve center inside Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. That is the most serious first step in upgraded U.S. deterrence. Note Amb. Cooper’s warning that without greatly improved anti-ballistic missile protection from the middle or south of the globe, assaults still can come. So we are a long way from the kind of shield that will a) protect our homeland; and b) serve to deter aggression by North Korea, Iran or, for that matter, something like ISIS. But we at least do have a military command, Congress and–presumably, an Administration–that is preparing to do what is necessary. Read More ›


Scott Powell on American Free Enterprise, its Critics and its Sources of Renewal

The following is a transcript of Discovery Sr. Fellow Scott S. Powell’s lecture last week at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.

There have been many civilizations that have come into being over the last 6,000 years—from the ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Asian civilizations that sprang up around the Euphrates, Tigress, Nile, Indus and Yellow River valleys, to the more recent and advanced Greek and Roman civilizations, which have more directly shaped Western civilization. While each of these civilizations made their own contributions to progress during the times in which they flourished, none of them unleashed the kind of economic development and entrepreneurial productivity witnessed in the first two hundred years of the American civilization.

As a starting point, it is worth considering the basics. The tools brought by the first colonists that arrived in the new world and settled in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, and then in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, were primitive. They were the same basic rudimentary tools of sustenance—such as shovels, axes, hoes and ploughs—that previous civilizations had also used.

But something happened in America that sped up progress beyond what had ever happened previously in human history. What I would like to do is identify some of the key human characteristics and arrangements that helped the American economy take off and create a revolution of upward mobility and prosperity — one that became a model that has benefited other countries around the world who adopted similar ways. Next, we’ll consider some of the main reasons why and how this extraordinarily beneficial system has come under criticism and why it continues to be on the defensive despite its success. Then, we’ll look briefly at the competing alternative—socialism—with particular attention to understanding whether it is a viable alternative. We will open it up for discussion and perhaps wrap it up by my touching on some of the things that could be done to restore some balance and appreciation of the system and institutions which have provided so much material well-being. Read More ›


Climate Change: Where is the Argument?

Leftist debate consists increasingly of personal attacks separated from facts and logical argument. Consider the assault on Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Tribe, previously a liberal’s liberal, who had the nerve to provide his talents to Peabody Coal Co. in response to the climate change issue. Even in religious discussions one expects more than ad hominem slurs. But climate change is a raw and revolutionary religion that still allows no critique. Witness the Washington Post story about Tribe. Read More ›