By Daily Caller•
The left loves to hate on those who speak truths they’d rather not hear. Elon Musk was once their darling until he came out for free speech. Extremists also hate Tucker Carlson, the popular news and opinion host at Fox News, because he has been particularly effective in pointing out the hypocrisy, inconsistency and outright insanity of the far left. They want his show cancelled and him silenced. They’ve even staged protests at Tucker’s home in hopes of intimidating his family. That is how the left works — notice the recent protests at the homes of Supreme Court justices.
Despite all the hate from the left, Tucker Carlson and the ideas he advocates had a very good night this past week in Ohio. One doesn’t have to agree with every opinion expressed by Tucker — he’s expressed literally thousands and thousands of opinions, so it would be normal to have some differences with even like-minded people. But no one can deny that Ohio’s primaries showed that Tucker is on to something big and that conservative, America-first ideas are popular.
Ohio is broadly seen as a bellwether because the state has historically been representative of the nation’s voting patterns in several ways. So what do the Ohio GOP primaries tell us? Twenty-two out of 22 candidates who represented a conservative, America-first political approach won in the primaries. Additionally, GOP voters outnumbered the opposition by 2 to 1 in the US Senate primary. Simply stated, the Make America Great Again (MAGA) approach batted a perfect one thousand and energized voters, proving that the MAGA agenda is far more supported than the Left is willing to admit.
Tucker was also the first major supporter of J.D. Vance’s Senate candidacy — a political newcomer who easily won the GOP primary. While Vance garnered other endorsements, including Trump’s, most came at the last minute, and Tucker’s early support helped build Vance’s support and credibility. Tucker’s endorsement of Vance not only hit back at the left but also dealt the more establishment, anti-MAGA Republicans in the state who had endorsed more moderate candidates a stinging defeat.
The left continues to contend that a conservative, America first economic and foreign policy doesn’t represent what most Americans think and that while Donald Trump may have been the president from 2017 to 2021, he only won because of the so-called Russian collusion. And as a result, he wasn’t that popular and his MAGA agenda was illegitimate. But Ohio’s GOP recent primary proves the lie of the left’s absurd propaganda.
While President Trump on occasion alienated voters with his brusk no-nonsense manner of speaking, his policies were actually widely supported. The economy was strong, wages were growing, America and its friends were safer and less threatened by totalitarianism and terrorism.
And while some voters may have assumed that the economic boom and safer international climate were just good fortune before the COVID pandemic struck, the last 15 months have provided a sharp contrast to the good times that the MAGA agenda brought. The evidence has been mounting that while Trump may have offended some, his policies benefitted everyone and made the country freer, more prosperous and more secure. Ohio’s primary results — with record turn out and a strong and consistent showing for MAGA oriented candidates — prove that Americans have woken up to the destructive mischief caused by the left.
Virtually every night, Tucker Carlson is exposing the left and showing that they seem more interested in expanding their power and prestige than in helping make America stronger, freer and more prosperous. So we should expect the attacks on MAGA candidates and Tucker to become ever more shrill and intolerant. The extremists on the left are losing the political debate — being beaten on the airwaves and at the ballot box.
These are very difficult times for the extreme left. Tucker Carlson will continue to draw their ire as one of the most articulate proponents of America First principles. Anyone who effectively advocates for American values can expect to be the target of increasingly shrill attacks and demands that these “dangerous people” with “dangerous ideas” must be silenced.
The extreme left sees time-tested truths and basic facts as dangerous to their political aims. And since they cannot win the debate, they hope to silence their opponents. If you disagree with Tucker or with an America First agenda, that’s your right. But it isn’t your right to silence those with whom you disagree.
Those who seek to silence others are admitting the inferiority of their own ideas and their ability to advocate for them. Those the left seeks to silence are typically the most effective and fact-based advocates of conservative principles. So watch who the extremists on the left attack most vociferously and seek to silence, and you will know who is advocating most effectively for making and keeping America strong, prosperous and free. I suspect that Tucker will continue to be one of those at the top of their list.
Bureau whistleblowers are claiming that the FBI is using the January 6 riot at the Capitol as a pretext to perform a political purge of agents. This purge targets FBI agents and other employees who simply exercised their constitutionally protected rights and attended the January 6 rally — and committed no crimes.
“The employees did not enter the United States Capitol and have not been charged with any crime” but are allegedly still being fired, said the House Judiciary GOP in a Twitter post on Friday, citing unnamed whistleblowers at the Bureau.
In response to a letter from Republican lawmakers to the FBI Director Christopher Wray — signed by House Judiciary Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — the congressmen confirmed reports that the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s (DOJIG) office is considering investigating whether the FBI revoked the security clearances of agents who simply attended the rally last year.
As most who have worked in federal law enforcement or intelligence know, revoking security clearances makes it impossible to do the job. As the letter notes, “these actions [revoking clearances] mean the FBI has suspended these employees indefinitely.”
On Thursday Fox News noted that:
…the FBI revoked their clearances, citing “Adjudicative Guideline A – Allegiance to the United States. This move appears to follow a Democratic tactic in conflating peaceful protesters on Jan. 6 with those who actively stormed the Capitol in an apparent attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote for President Biden.
Fox News also reported that the DOJIG Michael Horowitz told House Judiciary Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in a reply letter that his office “will ask the FBI to provide the bases for the security clearance and personnel actions taken against the employees you reference in your letter.”
The IG added: “In making such an assessment, we will also consider information about other employees who believe the FBI has taken administrative actions against them for engaging in protected activities on January 6, 2021.”
While the Hatch Act prohibits FBI and other government employees from engaging in partisan political campaigns or political management, The Epoch Times reported that Friday’s letter noted that despite the Hatch Act:
FBI employees do not give up their rights to engage in political speech activity. We have serious concerns that the FBI appears to be retaliating against employees for engaging in political speech disfavored by FBI leadership.
"Gutfeld!" panelist Tyrus envisions a musical take on Homeland information czar and TikTok variety act Nina Jankowicz — like "singing telegrams when you're canceled for a tweet."
ove or loathe President Donald Trump, but the 45th commander in chief gave comics all the material they needed.
Now, the Biden administration is serving up a potential bounty of low-hanging new satirical fruit, but so far most comedians aren’t indulging.
Biden’s proposed Disinformation Governance Board, an off-shoot of the Homeland Security Department, promises to root out “lies” peddled by Russia, Iran and other global forces. Conservatives pounced on the group’s formation, dubbing it a spiritual cousin to George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth from his dystopian classic, “1984.”
Biden’s group will be led by Nina Jankowicz, a so-called disinformation guru who previously labeled the Hunter Biden laptop story Fake News and sang the praises of Christopher Steele, author of the widely debunked Steele Dossier.
That plus her history of posting goofy TikTok videos of her singing in a Mary Poppins-style falsetto about “misinformation” offer up comic gold.
At least on paper, that is. We’ve yet to see late night TV or “Saturday Night Live” line up to explore the possibilities. Stephen Colbert is laser-focused on the Roe v. Wade debate flowing from the Supreme Court leak earlier this month.
Unwoke comedy insurgents, however, are another story. Paul Crosetti, executive producer of the right-leaning satire series “That Show Tonight,” says his show already has the topics in its sights.
Pulling no punches, a recent “That Show Tonight” parody featured the new board’s “strategist,” Vilhelm Kannepertz, speaking in a Nazi-like accent.
“The no-brainer is comparing the department to past ‘ministries of truth’ regimes,” Crosetti says. “You can see how Jankowicz could easily become a caricature of herself, especially if she spends any amount of time in the public view.”
He doesn’t expect much comedy competition, at least for now, in poking fun at either Jankowicz or the board in general.
“If recent history serves as a guide, mainstream network shows, whether ‘SNL’ or the late-night shows, will steer clear,” he says of those left-leaning outlets.
Comedian Andrew Heaton agrees that Colbert and co. won’t be addressing the board or its antic maitresse anytime soon.
“I’m the sort of person to make fun of this thing, and this is the first I’ve heard of it — I doubt it’s widely known, and probably a secondary issue to Ukraine, Roe v Wade, and of course the eternal ‘the other party is truly evil’ slapfight,” says Heaton, host of podcasts “The Political Orphanage” and “Losers, Pretenders & Scoundrels.”
Political satirist Lou Perez thinks comedians will come around to both the board and Jankowicz.
“A Disinformation Governance Board that openly threatens civil liberties should be a nonpartisan field day for joke slinging,” says Perez, author of the upcoming book, “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore: On the Death and Rebirth of Comedy.”
“The question is, which comedians?” asks Perez, who previously satirized both sides of the political aisle via We the Internet TV. “For years, many comedians on the left were afraid to make jokes that could hurt their side. Trump was an existential threat after all … I think this is an opportunity for them to step up and rightfully mock our current president and his administration.”
As for Jankowicz, her social media warblings make her perfect for a Broadway musical parody. “Musical versions of George Orwell’s 1984 have been done already,” he says. “But I imagine Jankowicz’s 2022 would be a lot brighter than ’84. More pop and TikTok, you know. Call Jankowicz ‘Miss Information’ or something cute like that.”
Tyrus, the wrestler-turned-pundit from Fox News’ “Gutfeld!,” sees plenty of satirical fodder in the board and its leader — but fears party discipline may interfere with comic opportunity.
“Unfortunately, [comedians] let division and politics get in the way of a great joke or jokes,” he says. “Tragic.”
Like Perez, Tyrus envisions a musical take on Jankowicz, like “singing telegrams when you’re canceled for a tweet,” he suggests.
Nina Jankowicz says she’s “committed to protecting free speech.” LOL
When we first heard Alejandro Mayorkas announce a Department of Homeland Security “Disinformation Governance Board,” we thought he was trolling. Then he said Nina Jankowicz, best known as TikTok’s “Mary Poppins of Disinformation,” would head it. LOL, as the kids say. Right out of the gate, Jankowicz trumpeted her “committment [sic] to protecting free speech.”
Apparently Mayorkas is serious, and the administration is rolling out Jankowicz, author of the new book “How to Be a Woman Online,” as a “renowned expert in the field of disinformation.” That’s true, though she’s more a practitioner of the craft than an expert in combating it. Jankowicz condemned the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop as a “Russian influence op” and fanned the bogus claim that the Steele dossier began as a “Republican opposition research project.” These are fine examples of Democrats, as Washington Free Beacon man of the year Matt Yglesias explained in a recent analysis, using the “disinformation” charge as a scapegoat for losing voters.
As for her commitment to unfettered speech, Jankowicz told her friends at National Public Radio last month that she “shudder[s]” to think about a scenario in which “free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms” and bemoaned so-called “awful but lawful content.” The solution? “Law enforcement and our legislatures,” she said, must “do more.”
Mayorkas, meanwhile, is busy tamping down the concerns of proles like us that the Nurse Ratched of disinformation will have any power. “The board does not have any operational authority or capability,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash. “What it will do is gather together best practices of addressing the threat of disinformation from foreign state adversaries, from the cartels, and disseminate those practices to the operators that have been executing and addressing this threat for years.” Sounds like disinformation to us.
The administration dispenses Orwellian lies on a daily basis. We may be in a recession, but that’s just masking a broader recovery! That $3.5 trillion spending bill actually costs zero dollars! And, per Mayorkas jawboning on another topic on Sunday, the administration has done a fine job managing a ballooning crisis on the southern border.
This is Joe Biden’s nut house. We’re just living in it.
Despite pushing Congress to approve an additional $33 billion in lethal aid to Ukraine amidst its ongoing effort to repel Russian invaders and drive them from their homeland, U.S. voters still regard President Joe Biden as a weaker leader than any of his predecessors.
The polling firm Rasmussen Reports queried 1,000 U.S. voters likely to cast ballots in the next election about their feelings regarding Biden’s leadership. Only 24 percent of those who responded said they found him to be a “stronger commander-in-chief” than those who preceded him in office.
The public’s view of Biden’s ability to handle pressing issues of national security was undoubtfully shaped unfavorably by the sudden, chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that took enemies and allies alike by surprise.
In the ensuing chaos, people who had worked with the United States forces and those who had partnered with the Americans on national building projects under George W. Bush and Barack Obama found themselves left behind, unable to get out of the country now that the various provinces and capital city of Kabul had come under the control of the Taliban.
The findings in the latest poll, Rasmussen Reports said, were largely unchanged from November 2021, before the Russians launched their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. In that survey, 57 percent of respondents said Biden was weaker than his predecessors.
Supporter for Biden has been steadily declining since he came into office. His job approval rating in various polls, which started above 60 percent, has dropped into the low 40s and threatens to go even lower as the election nears, due in the main to the perception the current administration has done a poor job controlling inflation and has shown little concern for its impact on the working men and women who used to make up the bulwark of the Democratic Party’s winning electoral coalition.
Shockingly, two-thirds of those responding to the survey who are current or former members of the U.S. military – 64 percent – agreed Biden was a weaker leader than those who came before him. Though only a small part of the survey – 15 percent – their educated opinion on such matters is not something the current administration should ignore going forward.
According to the Rasmussen analysis, not even half of the Democrats who answered the survey conducted online and by telephone would say Biden was “stronger.” Just 41 percent of those in the president’s party agreed with that position, as did 8 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of independents polled. A whopping 84 percent of likely GOP voters said Biden “is a weaker commander in chief compared to most recent presidents,” as did 26 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of unaffiliated voters.
When it comes to dealing with other world leaders, 60 percent of all likely voters found Biden to be “less aggressive than most recent presidents in pushing what’s best for America.” Only 23 percent said he was more aggressive, while just 12 percent said he was “about the same” in pushing for America’s interests.
Those finding Biden “less aggressive” included 80 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of unaffiliated voters.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on April 24-25, 2022, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
The Biden administration is over. Sure, he has another two years plus in the White House and might even win a second term (if he runs and if the GOP nominates an unelectable candidate), but he’s lost the ability to set the agenda for the country, and he’s not getting it back.
Some people argue he’s been derailed by events which, as former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan famously said presented the biggest challenge to any administration, but that’s not true. Biden and his people have exhibited a degree of organizational incompetence and a tin ear for the public sentiment on key issues.
Emblematic of all this is special climate envoy John F. Kerry, a former Secretary of State and the 2004 Democratic nominee for president. He cheerfully travels the world in private jets to receive awards for his work combatting global warming, is caught flying maskless on commercial flights despite his own administration’s transportation masking mandate and reacts to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by voicing concerns it will distract from the effort to move the economy of the West away from its reliance on fossil fuels.
Kerry’s also dismissive of the job losses and economic dislocations that would occur if, as the Biden administration is pushing for, the U.S. economy were to transition from one dependent on fossil fuels to one where renewables were the dominant energy source. He called that an “opportunity” rather than a major crisis for millions of working-class families and employees in the energy sector. Maybe they can just learn to code or grow Belgian endive.
It’s hard to imagine anyone more out of touch with the hoi polloi than that. Unfortunately for us all, Kerry is just the tip of a very large iceberg of party leaders and policymakers indifferent to the needs of hard-working Americans trying to find their way back to prosperity and economic security in the face of rising interest rates and record inflation.
Biden doesn’t have a plan to deal with any of it. He says he does, but that’s posturing. The White House announced with great fanfare nearly a month ago that the president has authorized the release of fuel stocks held in the nation’s strategic petroleum reserves to blunt the spike in the price of gasoline he blamed on Putin.
To set the record straight, gas prices were rising before Putin launched his attack. Energy prices are going up because of Biden’s policies, not global events. Yet the contracts to get the oil in the SPR to market were only completed Thursday. Good thing there wasn’t a real emergency like a nation hostile to the United States or a terrorist group seizing or disabling the Suez Canal.
As for inflation across the economy, the New York Federal Reserve Bank has shown that inflation took off appreciably in 2021, the first year Biden was in office. Even former Obama-Biden Economic Advisor Jason Furman said the inflation now reducing the purchasing power of working Americans is not transitory as the White House originally tried to claim but will instead continue due to increased demand created, as the RNC recently pointed out, by excess savings built by the Democrats’ endless government checks from their $2 trillion so-called COVID stimulus.
All this is costing Biden, as is his failure to push the Build Back Better legislation through Congress or to achieve any progress on the other critical campaign promises he made to the voters who chose to back him in the primary over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or in the general election against former President Donald Trump.
Much of this is borne out in the latest Gallup Poll, which shows the president to be “stuck” – to use the word employed by the venerable polling firm – in an unpopular place. “During Joe Biden’s fifth quarter in office, which began on January 20 and ended on April 19, an average of 41.3 percent of U.S. adults approved of the job he was doing as president. The latest average is essentially unchanged from the 41.7 percent in his fourth quarter but significantly lower than his first three quarterly averages.”
To put this in perspective, Biden’s latest rating “is lower than that of any prior elected president,” Gallup said, save for Trump, who nonetheless is consistently polling ahead of the current president in polls testing how each would fare in a potential 2024 rematch.
Between then and now, of course, is the 2022 midterm election. Forecasters are predicting the GOP will win control outright, not just of the U.S. House of Representatives but Congress as a whole, further burying Biden’s ability to set the agenda.
Gallup’s analysis of the latest numbers confirms this, saying the president’s low job approval numbers – which are unlikely to improve before the election and it would be ahistorical if they did – stand as “a significant threat to the Democratic Party’s chances of maintaining its slim majorities” in Congress after November. “Typically, unpopular presidents’ parties have lost seats in midterm elections, with the number of seats lost usually much higher for presidents with job approval ratings below 50 percent.”
If the GOP wins control of Congress, it may prove to be the president’s political salvation. Just as Bill Clinton was helped immeasurably by his party’s losing control of the legislative branch in 1994 to Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America Congress, Biden may find it easier to moderate his positions and engage in successful negotiations to get legislation to his desk if he no longer must concern himself with the ability of “The Squad” and other extreme progressives like Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to tank any bill them deem to be insufficiently socialist-leaning all by themselves.
Like Clinton, Biden would look like the moderate he claimed to be in the campaign by agreeing to Republican efforts to bring in budgets that look balanced, rein in the rate of increase in federal spending, get inflation under control, require work once again in exchange for welfare payments, continue real criminal justice reform, make it easier to start and fund charter schools and do other things that have appeal to suburban voters and working Americans.
If Biden and his staff are smart enough to realize this is how to play the hand the voters are about to deal them, then he becomes a much stronger candidate for a second term – just not on the terms he and others close to him might like. If they go into 2024 forcing the American electorate to choose between heading left or heading right, Biden – or whoever the Democratic nominee is – will almost certainly lose.
I really am flummoxed by the ineptitude of President Joe Biden and his chief of staff, Ron Klain. Biden has been a Washington politician for half a century, including eight years as vice president and before that a senior senator. Klain is a consummate Washington insider, having worked for Janet Reno, Al Gore, Biden and others.
How are they this inept?
Last summer, the border got swamped with migrants. They sent Vice President Kamala Harris south of the border and the situation never improved. Activists accused border patrol agents of whipping refugees with horsewhips. The White House condemned the act. But an investigation recently revealed no immigrants were whipped. White House staff have declined to apologize for believing the allegation.
Many border patrol agents are Hispanic. The criticisms of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the border patrol by the left are criticisms of Hispanic voters and their families — a constituency the Democrats are losing. But the White House seems openly hostile to both.
Now, having seen what monsoon of migrants the summer brought last year, the Biden administration is preparing for the expiration of Title 42. The pandemic is receding. Title 42 can be deployed as a health care power so long as the pandemic is at the forefront. It allows the surgeon general to keep people from entering the United States due to a health care crisis. With a receding pandemic, Title 42 has to go away. It’s only a matter of time before some enterprising Trump judge scraps it to exacerbate the political problems for Biden.
Here’s the thing: How are we in April of 2022 in a midterm election and the White House clearly has no plan to deal with the surge of illegal immigrants and expiration of Title 42? Their own polling shows this issue is pushing Hispanic voters to the GOP and they’ve got nothing. They have had plenty of time to prepare and did nothing to prepare.
How are they this inept?
The Biden administration was caught flat-footed on Ukraine too. They knew the Russians would invade. They chose to provide Ukraine help but have constantly scaled back their original offers. The administration has slow-walked intelligence to Ukraine, putting the Republicans in a more pro-Ukraine position than Biden. Biden has accused Russia of genocide and then taken no actions equal to the accusation. Just last week, the United States promised helicopters on a Thursday and walked back the promise that same Friday.
How are they this inept?
Then there is the mask issue. They could have let it expire a few weeks ago and taken the credit. Instead, a federal judge in Florida threw it out. Then Joe Biden himself said people should have the choice whether they want to wear a mask or not. Less than six hours later, his administration decided to appeal to get the mask mandate reinstated. But they are not going to ask for its immediate reinstatement. Instead, they’re going to ask for the authority to be able to reimpose it in the future.
So, in other words, Biden could have canceled the mask mandate a few weeks ago, rendered the court case moot, preserved the power to reimpose it and taken credit for its end. But Biden and Klain did not. Instead, they will now ask a court to preserve power for the organization that insists you not eat raw cookie dough and cook your steak to an internal temperature of 145 F.
How are they this inept?
Between the border, Ukraine and the masks, they really have no plans for governing. They have just decided to perpetuate the status quo of their own making in the hope that something shakes out. They are careening from crisis to crisis, two clowns in bumper cars colliding with crises of their own creation.
The best they have going now are their pundit partisans lamenting that really Biden is a victim of circumstance unable to control anything. And that is not much of a defense.
Some might say this is all part of some elaborate plan, but the Republicans are about to wipe them out. That is most assuredly not part of the plan. How are they this inept?
‘Every American should be deeply concerned by the fact that a few unaccountable big tech companies are controlling the free flow of information.’
Facebook obliterated an award-winning conservative Wisconsin news page and cut off thousands of its followers without warning this week after wrongfully censoring it for months.
The Silicon Valley giant censored Wisconsin Right Now after the popular news site posted a story from The Australian to its Facebook feed that compared a picture of the infamous “Falling Man” from 9/11 to the horrific footage of Afghans falling from planes following President Joe Biden’s disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.https://fd234f0003ecc424d4282e89fd3ef1ef.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Facebook quickly hid the post and slapped it with a community standards violation for “content related to suicide or self-injury.”
WRN appealed the violation, noting that the article did not advocate for self-harm, and Facebook reversed its decision but still unpublished WRN’s page.
A message from Facebook claimed that WRN “violates Facebook Pages terms” but did not specify why. The Big Tech company claimed that WRN could appeal if the unpublishing seemed to be a mistake but the link given by Facebook’s support team is broken.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
“Every American should be deeply concerned by the fact that a few unaccountable big tech companies are controlling the free flow of information in our democracy, and that the decisions they make are often arbitrary and unfair,” Jim Piwowarczyk, WRN owner and contributor, told The Federalist. “What has happened to us is a very troubling example of this, and we call on Facebook to reverse its decision.”
Even before Facebook nuked WRN’s main page, the social media company restricted the page’s ability to invite new followers to “like” the page and live-stream videos for simply reporting the news.
Even though WRN won numerous awards for its airtight coverage of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, Facebook limited the news site’s ability to share articles about the young gunman.
“We led coverage on this case, going to the scene, interviewing witnesses a half-hour after it happened, uncovering missing ballistics evidence mentioned during the trial, and more,” Piwowarczyk explained.
Facebook still suppressed WRN’s coverage even after the media company published an analysis stating the firearm charge against Rittenhouse wouldn’t stand under Wisconsin gun laws, something the judge presiding over the case publicly ruled one day later.
“Facebook then did not remove the violations when Rittenhouse was acquitted,” Piwowarczyk said.
Facebook also enlisted the help of its fake “fact-checkers” to censor reposts about Hillary Clinton’s role in promoting the Russian collusion hoax and a meme about Rittenhouse playing video games with his judge.
“We have reported many stories the mainstream media will not, and it is highly questionable and troubling that Facebook would seek to prevent Wisconsin voters in a key battleground state (where Facebook-traced money was involved in elections) from learning all sides of the equation in the political debate and other news stories, especially as the midterm elections loom,” Piwowarczyk said.
In the aftermath of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to a seat on the United States Supreme Court, there’s a lot still to be said about the way federal judicial nominations are handled. Most of it bad. Like Humpty Dumpty, the process is so badly broken that “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” may never get it back together again.
Each party blames the other for the breakdown. Republicans, heels dug in, say, “What about Bork?” Equally immovable Democrats respond, “What about Merrick Garland?” Rare these days is the senator who can vote to confirm a high court appointment made by a president of the other party without incurring substantial political problems with the folks back home.
The reasons for this are not just partisan. As the parties have polarized, so too has their view of the proper role of the federal judiciary. Progressives prefer nominees who are “activists” and who consider the public policy implications of what they hand down in addition to or over and above issues of constitutionality. They, like the late Justice William O. Douglas, believe they should be guided by the penumbras currently emanating from the Constitution rather than its text alone, allowing, even requiring them to “make law from the bench” without regard for textual limitations.
Conservatives seek out nominees who feel bound by limitations beyond precedent, including the belief that the words used in the Constitution had a clear, specific, common meaning understood by reasonable people at the time it was written and which are still determinate today. That philosophy of “originalism,” held among others by legendary Justice Antonin Scalia, is best expressed axiomatically as “The Constitution says what it means and means what it says.”
Over time, these diametrically opposite views regarding the role of a Supreme Court justice have turned the confirmation process into something resembling a partisan political campaign. President Joe Biden acknowledged as much Friday at the White House at an event with Judge Jackson following the Senate vote.
“I knew the person I nominated,” he said, “would be put through a painful and difficult confirmation process. But I have to tell you: What Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that. There was verbal abuse, the anger, the constant interruptions, the most vile, baseless, vile [sic] assertions and accusations.”
Biden must have missed the Kavanaugh hearings. He didn’t miss the Bork or Thomas hearings, though. He was not only present as they were publicly flayed regarding their opinions and had their character assassinated, he presided over them. And each one of them contained more “baseless, vile assertions and accusations” than anything Judge Jackson experienced.
It’s no coincidence the coarseness now infecting the judicial confirmation process started when Biden was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He knows the role politics plays in the process of getting someone on the federal bench, embracing it when running for president in 1988 and 2020 when he refused to commit for or against a proposal to “pack” the Supreme Court should he win.
This leaves Judge Jackson in an unfortunate position. For the rest of her life, or at least for as long as she is on the Court, there will be just as many people wondering if she was the best choice for the job or if her appointment was simply the most politically expedient for a president who needed to keep a campaign promise.
As far as the Senate vote goes, congratulations are due to the future justice now that she has been confirmed. It is a high honor of which she will hopefully prove herself worthy. There’s reason for concern she won’t, but not the ones you might expect.
Biden won the election. He had every right to pick a liberal, activist judge. If qualified, she should be confirmed despite that. By deciding to focus on what frankly were ancillary matters during her confirmation hearings, the senators on the Judiciary Committee rejected the opportunity to explore just how far outside the mainstream of American legal thought she might be and if any of her views were extreme enough to disqualify her.
Such a reason might exist but was left largely unexplored. In a set of written questions submitted to her by members of the committee, Judge Jackson was asked to explain, in her own words, “the theory prevalent among members of the Founding Fathers’ generation that humans possess natural rights that are inherent or inalienable.”
She answered well at first, explaining this as the being reflected in the Declaration of Independence – some might call it the cornerstone of the entire document – that certain rights come from “our Creator,” as Jefferson put it, and are, therefore, “inalienable.” These include, she wrote the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and are often referred to as “natural rights.”
This is more than just the mainstream view of the common law, embraced by liberals and conservatives alike for centuries. It is foundational to the American democratic system. When asked if she herself held that view, she replied, “I do not hold a position on whether individuals possess natural rights.”
This is a jarring admission. At least it should be. If our most basic rights like the right to life and liberty do not come from “our Creator,” if they are not inherent, then they can only be made by man. If they are made by man or granted by man, they can be taken away.
Admittedly, there is a difference between having a right and being able to exercise it, which is something Supreme Court justices often must consider in the cases before them: Has an action by the government interfered with an individual’s ability to exercise an inherent right? Judge Jackson’s position was not made clear in a follow-up question seeking to clarify her views.
Instead, she responded evasively, directing those reading her response to her answer to a previous question: “As a sitting federal judge, all of the Supreme Court’s pronouncements are binding on me, and under the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, I have a duty to refrain from critiquing the law that governs my decisions, because doing so creates the impression that the judge would have difficulty applying binding law to their own rulings. Consistent with the positions taken by other pending judicial nominees, it is my testimony that, as a general matter, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the merits or demerits of the Supreme Court’s binding precedents.”
That tells us nothing. It is a subject that those who sought to keep Judge Jackson off the high court should have pursued with greater force. Does she believe we have an inherent right to life and to liberty, or doesn’t she? This is one of the most basic of the many complex issues the justices on the high court are called upon to consider every term. The American constitutional republic is predicated on the notion that the government’s respect for all opinions and people, even those in the minority in any group or on any issue, is a requirement. It can be inferred from her answer that she does not agree and may fall back on that position but only when it is useful to do so in furtherance of her arguments in her writings.
Hopefully, this will not prove to be a real concern. Either she affirms through her writings from the bench that her views are, in fact, in line with the thinking of the Founders or because she will be forever in the minority on the Court on any decision handed down by the Court where belief in inherent rights matters. Elections, as they say, have consequences. Her elevation to the Court is one of them. Something to remember for next time.
The American political system is far from perfect but is generally considered to be better than most all others. Its openness, transparency and level of citizen involvement may be unequaled anywhere else in the world.
Still, some look upon the way America elects its officials as a fundamentally flawed, anti-democratic process prone to cheating. The proponents of major change, once considered to be on the fringes of politics, have moved a lot closer to the center of power in both major parties in the last few years.
There are lots of ideas for reform on the table. One that continues to gather steam originated in the aftermath of the election of 2000, when the country had to wait weeks before it knew which candidate—former vice president Al Gore or then-Texas governor George W. Bush—carried Florida and, with it, a majority in the electoral college.
Everyone knows how it finally turned out. A group of disappointed Democrats, however, believing Gore had been denied victory not by the voters but by Supreme Court Justices loyal to the GOP, began considering ways to ensure it never happened again. They proposed a method for choosing presidential electors based on the results of the national popular vote for president.
The idea is now drawing support from some Republicans as well because, they say, presidential campaigns currently rely so much on the critical “swing states” that each state where the outcome is more or less is predictable is neglected. As a result, millions of potential GOP voters stay home because, as far as choosing a president is concerned, their votes don’t matter much at all.
Every American should believe their vote counts. Under the terms of the proposed National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide would win all the electors from states that are members of the compact. This mechanism, its proponents say, would incentivize both major parties to compete for every vote in every state.
Critics of the idea have called it unconstitutional, arguing it changes the process for choosing a president without a constitutional amendment or congressional approval. Supporters say that’s not so—the compact leaves the Electoral College intact but changes the way states party to it choose their electors. That’s a privilege the Constitution reserves for the state legislatures. Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia, covering nearly 200 electors combined, have enacted legislation bringing them into the NPVIC, which only goes into effect when enough states with enough electors to determine the outcome of an election—270—sign on.
Regardless of what people say about it, it’s an idea that may someday come to pass. Many Republicans resist the idea because they believe it will give Democrats the opportunity to steal an election through fraud in cities in big states like Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. Those concerns are blocking the compact from advancing further because the majority of state legislative chambers are currently controlled by the GOP.
That’s not going to last forever. Such things can turn on a dime, like in 1974 when the GOP lost hundreds of seats nationwide thanks to Richard Nixon’s misdeeds. It looks increasingly likely Joe Biden‘s mismanagement of the presidency will produce similarly tremendous losses up and down the ballot for the Democrats this November.
The smart move for anyone who cares about election integrity would be to take up the issue of fraud and potential fraud now. As much as some people seem to believe voter identification laws will do the trick, it’s the issue of the voter rolls and their accuracy that should occupy their time.
The best protection against future fraud, say some election law experts, would be changing the way voter rolls are maintained to keep them clean. States should henceforth require that deceased voters be removed from the rolls no more than 30 days after a certificate of death is registered.
The relevant officials in each state should also have to review county tax rolls to see if the addresses listed on the voter rolls given by people when they register are indeed residential or other permissible addresses as required by state law. Similarly, court clerks should be required to send weekly or monthly reports to election officials identifying people to whom jury summons are undeliverable so they may be struck from the lists.
Finally, we might all be better served if we treated voter registration like we do drivers’ licenses by putting an expiration date on it. Voters, especially those who are put on the rolls automatically because of the federal Motor Voter law, should be required to renew their registration every few years to help maintain the accuracy of the lists.
These reforms are common sense and, if enacted, would do much to reassure a nation rocked now and again by charges of fraud. Elections are too important for their vital elements not to be maintained with the highest degree of scrutiny.
There’s an old joke almost everybody in politics has heard involving former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, the “big boss” of Chicago at a time when that meant something.
Daley ruled the city for many years with an iron hand. As he was dying, the story goes, he used his final breath to extract a promise from his closest associates that after he died, they’d have him buried on the city’s South Side “so he could stay active in politics.”
People have talked about fraud in American politics for years. Movies have been made about it – some serious, some not. Books have been written about it. It’s axiomatic among the political class that there are places where elections are routinely stolen by political machines that owe their allegiance to a party, a boss, or a cause and that “the dead” do sometimes make political contributions and vote.
In the abstract, it can be funny; when it happens, it’s no joke. Maryland Republican Ellen Sauerbrey narrowly lost the 1994 gubernatorial race because of it, as did Louisiana GOP St. Rep. Woody Jenkins, who said his less than 6,000 vote loss in a 1996 race for U.S. Senate was the result of last-minute fraudulent votes coming out of New Orleans.
In both cases, the courts disagreed, but that didn’t mean the fraud didn’t happen. Sauerbrey and Jenkins couldn’t prove it to the satisfaction of those in a position to make a difference in the result. Even many Democrats now acknowledge that some votes cast for JFK in the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential contest – at its time the closest in U.S. history – were fraudulent even if (or especially because) they wouldn’t have changed the outcome.
Former President Donald J. Trump will likely go to his grave believing the 2020 election was stolen from him. He can’t prove it – and is voluble in his criticism of GOP leaders and elected officials who don’t want to spend time trying. Before casting too much shade in their direction, however, consider the issue here may be a practical one rather than a matter of principle.
Fraud is hard to prove. The people who are good at it know how to do it so that most times it is at best undetectable. At the very least, they do a lot to ensure what they do is unprovable to a legal certainty, thereby gaining an edge with state and federal judges who typically insert themselves into electoral outcomes with the greatest reluctance. But just because it can’t be proven doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Getting back to Trump, some of the more outrageous charges made on his behalf – like the idea that machine vote counts were manipulated on servers located outside the United States before they were reported – lack credibility on their face and take attention away from the systemic changes in the voting process made before the election that activists working against the former president could have exploited to alter vote totals.
An examination of those issues, says one researcher, shows patterns worth looking into further.
Statistician John R. Lott Jr. examined the results from six swing states and found voter turnout on behalf of the GOP improved between the 2016 and 2020 elections while support for the Democrats dropped “except in places where voter fraud was claimed,” The Washington Times reported Monday.
His review of data from the 2020 election showed Joe Biden getting what Lott called hundreds of thousands of “excess” votes in Democratic-controlled areas in the 2020 election, the paper reported.
“More heavily Democratic counties actually had a slightly lower turnout in 2020, except for counties where vote fraud was alleged. In those counties, you had a huge increase in turnout,” Lott told The Washington Times in an interview.
In some of those swing states, you had counties where vote fraud was alleged. In some of those swing states, you had counties where vote fraud wasn’t alleged. And yet you only had huge increases in turnout where vote fraud was alleged,” he said.
Crucially, Lott’s examination of the data revealed that while in-person voting numbers were consistent with overall trends in both parties, the “absentee or mailed balloting tilted toward Democrats in the Democratic precincts” for what the paper described as “no clear reason.”
“Time after time, the news media keeps on saying there’s no evidence of vote fraud there. I think it’s at least a little bit harder for them to go and claim that” Lott told reporter Stephen Dinan.
The results of Lott’s number-crunching are not conclusive. It is not evidence that will stand up alone in a court of law as proof that fraud occurred. They are, however, provocative – especially when considered in conjunction with the proliferation of drop boxes – which destroy any idea of an intact chain of custody of ballots – and the lack of an audit trail to determine what happened to non-request vote by mail ballots that were sent to voters who no longer lived at the addresses attached to their registration. No one can discount the possibility that highly motivated partisans might, for reasons of their own, run the risk of breaking the law to help drive Trump from office.
It could be done. That doesn’t mean it was. It is nonetheless an argument for tightening up the system to make sure the obvious flaws are addressed. No more unattended drop boxes. No more opportunities for people to drop off more than one ballot at a time. No more “no request” vote by mail ballots. The opportunities to make mischief with any or all of these are too high.
You would think these would be reasonable positions to take, motivated by a bipartisan desire for free, fair, and clean elections. Instead, they’re controversial, which suggests one side sees them as an electoral advantage while the other sees them as a way to cheat. That alone ought to be enough to bring them under greater scrutiny – but it won’t. Because of all the insurrection, Jan. 6, overthrowing an election nonsense the politicians of one party and their allies in the mainstream media are peddling. There are even some who have gone so far as to suggest any Member of Congress who voted against the counting of the ballots from any state be kicked off the federal ballot in November 2022 for violating the 14th Amendment.
So far, none of those efforts have led to anything more than excitable news coverage. But they have been a useful distraction to help drown out any reasonable calls for election process reform. Are American elections honest? Can we trust the results? The winners will almost invariably say “Yes,” at least in public. The losers, not so much – especially if they think they can get mileage out of complaining. Either way, that doesn’t mean in any way that the process cannot be improved and that we must be serious about the safeguards we put in place to discourage fraud. It’s time for a real debate about where we go – which means moving on from where we’ve already been. Stop fighting the last battle and get ready for the next one.
Earlier this week, Twitter locked the account of The Babylon Bee, a right-leaning parody site, after it awarded Rachel Levine, a transgender Biden administration official, the title of “man of the year” in reaction to USA Today naming Levine one of its “women of the year” last week. This is just the most recent example in a long train of Big Tech censorship actions.
Taking a stand against Big Tech censorship, the state of Texas passed an anti-discrimination social media law (HB 20) last September. It seeks to limit Big Tech companies’ power to silence viewpoints they don’t like.
The law does so by prohibiting social media platforms with more than 50 million active monthly users in the United States from censoring users or their expressions based on the viewpoint expressed. Along with explicitly prohibiting viewpoint discrimination by social-media companies, the law enables censored users to seek declaratory and injunctive relief in court.
Texas’ law was cause for hope for many nationwide who want the giant social media platforms to be held accountable for their suppression of free speech. Unfortunately, Judge Robert Pitman, an Obama appointee, in early December enjoined the Texas non-discrimination social media law from going into effect.
But those who want a fair and democratic public discourse need not despair yet. That lower court decision was appealed, and soon the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will hear oral arguments on this appeal.
A wide range of distinguished amici have argued to the court that it should uphold the Texas statute and thereby protect Americans from censorship. The briefs include a profound story by David Mamet, an eminent doctor’s account of how even privatized suppression threatens science, and an exploration of the thought of John Stuart Mill by Columbia students against censorship.
What may need more explanation here is why the protection against tech censorship does not intrude on the tech company’s own free speech. As argued in an amicus brief filed by the Center for Renewing America and the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, there are good First Amendment reasons for upholding the Texas law and reversing Judge Pitman’s flawed and biased order.
First, the appellate court should correctly recognize that the First Amendment applies differently to speakers than to those who host or transmit speech. While the government forcing a person or group to speak a particular message raises First Amendment concerns, regulating the terms under which entities host or transmit others’ speech complies with the Constitution.
For instance, for centuries courts have required common carriers, industries that play a central role in economic, social, and political life, such as telephones, utilities, and airlines, to treat customers without discrimination. The numerous legal requirements have never raised First Amendment concerns. HB 20’s protection of Texans against social media’s discriminatory viewpoint censorship falls within this general rule, allowing for government regulation of hosting or transmitting speech to ensure such channels of communication are open to all comers.
Pitman’s opinion errs by treating social media’s discriminatory censorship as “editorial discretion” that expresses a coherent “message” worthy of First Amendment protection like a newspaper op-ed page or a parade.
Unlike a newspaper editor or parade organizer, however, social media companies do not review all content they host; they review only a tiny fraction. A newspaper op-ed page or parade expresses the judgment of its editors and organizers with every article or marcher it includes, as well as with the newspaper or parade as a whole. By necessity, a newspaper or parade, given its limited size, exercises powerful editorial control over its content.
In contrast, a social media firm is a passive conduit. It rarely edits, and its infinite bandwidth gives it no need to edit. Moreover, platforms cannot express themselves in the billions of posts they cannot review. Nor can the platforms’ stealthy, inconsistent, and often hidden acts of content moderation constitute a coherent “message,” let alone an expression worthy of First Amendment protection.
Finally, non-discrimination requirements to refrain from discriminatory censorship of others do not burden the platform’s own speech because social media platforms are free to tweet or post as much as they’d like.
Secondly, the court should recognize that Texas can lawfully regulate social media because the platforms are common carriers. For centuries, common carrier laws have required certain industries that hold themselves out to the public to serve all without discrimination. Communications networks have always operated under these non-discrimination requirements. The Texas social media law simply applies these historical precedents to the modern public square: social media platforms.
Pitman ignores the centuries of cases in which courts and regulatory agencies imposed non-discrimination requirements on railroads, telephones, and internet firms and simply asserts that “this Court starts from the premise that social media platforms are not common carriers.”
The opinion justifies this finding with no precedent, but with circular reasoning that because social media companies currently discriminate, they cannot be regulated as common carriers. By Pitman’s reasoning, then, if a telephone company started to discriminate, the state of Texas could no longer regulate it as a common carrier.
Undermining the power of the state to regulate is indeed a strange move for liberals like Pitman, who generally welcome government power into every aspect of our lives. Pitman’s ruling reveals the left’s disturbing protectiveness of Big Tech and a preference for a public discourse controlled by content moderators.
Furthermore, in recognizing Big Tech’s deplatforming and censoring as a First Amendment-protected exercise of “editorial discretion,” the lower court is jeopardizing the bodies of civil rights and common carriage law by essentially asserting that discrimination is expression worthy of First Amendment protection.
Pitman and others on the left incorrectly view the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees as protecting Big Tech’s censorship, rather than preserving Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous concept of the vigorous marketplace of ideas.
It is long past time for states to impose non-discrimination requirements on Big Tech and to hold these companies accountable for their viewpoint censorship. The Fifth Circuit should recognize the substantial government interest in doing so and reverse the lower court’s error-ridden decision. The Texas law would serve the nation as a model for restoring our cherished principles of free speech.
DirecTV announced in January the digital satellite service would no longer carry One America News Network (OAN).
DirecTV announced in January the digital satellite service would no longer carry One America News Network (OAN), owned by Herring Networks. The decision prompted a lawsuit by OAN in response Tuesday, arguing that DirecTV’s refusal to carry OAN could shut it down entirely.
“We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” the company told USA Today two months ago, without expanding on its definition of an “internal review.”
The decision to drop the channel by OAN’s largest distributor is expected to take OAN off DirecTV airwaves by the end of April and threatens the outlet’s ability to operate in a crowded media environment. It’s essentially canceling the network from cable. Six Republican attorneys general last week issued a letter asking DirecTV to reverse its decision to cancel OAN.
The move also signals a sharp escalation of the weaponizing private market power to silence political dissidents. Silicon Valley has already engaged in rampant censorship, complete with a routine purge of those who don’t propagate the party lines.
Former President Donald Trump, who was banned from Twitter and Facebook at the end of his presidency while the Kremlin remains active on both, condemned the corporate censorship on Monday after calling for a boycott of DirectTV last month if the company owned by AT&T follows through on its decision.
“Time Warner, the owner of Fake News CNN, has just announced that they will be terminating a very popular and wonderful news network (OAN),” Trump said in a statement. “Between heavily indebted Time Warner, and Radical Left comcast, which runs Xfinity, there is a virtual monopoly on news, thereby making what you hear from the LameStream Media largely FAKE, hence the name FAKE NEWS!”
Trump may have confused Time Warner and DirecTV. While DirecTV made its plans clear, no reporting as of this writing suggests Time Warner is planning to follow suit. Neither Time Warner nor representatives for OAN responded to The Federalist’s inquiries.
Corporate collusion to strip a network off the airwaves, beginning with DirecTV’s crusade against OAN, would set a dangerous precedent. The left’s strategy to ban its way to a monopoly on discourse includes opposition silencing and self-righteous fact-checking. Never mind strict standards of censoring disinformation would have kicked every leftist news network off air years ago from endless amplification of the Russian collusion hoax alone.
Today it’s OAN. Tomorrow it could be Newsmax, and eventually Fox News, a more likely predicament if the network didn’t make satellite distributors so much money.
But what’s behind DirecTV’s decision to target OAN? As of now, its rival conservative networks remain untouched.
The move ostensibly comes from sealed findings in the corporate powerhouse’s “internal review” of its relationship with OAN. A spokesperson told NPR in January rising programming costs was driving the decision. The review is likely a smokescreen for executives dissatisfied with the network’s narratives, especially its reporting on the 2020 election.
Three days after Election Day in 2020, AT&T, the majority owner of DirecTV, announced that William Kennard, an alum of both the Clinton and Obama administrations, would chair AT&T’s board of directors. Kennard is also listed as an executive board member of the global equity firm Staple Street Capital. In 2018, Staple Street Capital acquired Dominion Voting Systems, the electoral tabulation company that came under fire after the 2020 election.
Fox News and Newsmax retracted their networks’ reporting on Dominion Voting Systems in the aftermath of the 2020 contest. OAN has not.
Is DirecTV’s move to cancel OAN a business decision for the satellite provider? Or is it a political decision? Regardless, the cancellation of entire news networks by satellite providers is a new level of private censorship against non-leftist views.
The lockdowns mark the start of a ride we can’t get off.
Two years ago this week, the United States shut down. Churches, schools and businesses went dark. Weddings, funerals, and birthdays went silent. City streets stood empty, with an eeriness closer resembling occupied Paris than the bustling hubs they’d been just days before.
Two years later, as the last of the mask mandates for school children falter and crack, it’s tempting to believe our nightmare is finally over. Just as the disease is going to haunt us a long while, however, so too will the effects of how we tried to fight it.
Americans’ relationships with our politicians, bureaucrats, schools, media, police, and churches are fundamentally altered. Indeed, the entire West’s relationships with these major segments of society are forever remade. As we look out on the wreckage of two years of Covid policies, as well as our spiking fuel prices, rocketing inflation, a contested election, a Chinese Olympics, and a land war in Europe, it’s increasingly clear that, far from standing at the end of a dark era, our civilization teeters unsteadily at the very beginning of one.
It’s hard to notice at first. The modern West has become so accustomed to a slow, steady decline — the kind Merle Haggard sang about, and Ronald Reagan ran against — that complaining about it has become cliché; like the angry old man waving his cane.
More than that, it’s very tempting to view the past two years as separate from our other major problems. But just as Black Tuesday began an era marked by the Depression, the Dust Bowl, the New Deal, the Second World War, and a fundamental reshaping of the American life, so too will the Lockdowns mark the start of a ride we can’t get off.
Even in states that have long since shrugged off the bureaucrats’ Covid demands, trust is broken. The people had believed in March 2020 that if they did their parts, all would soon be well. As President Calvin Coolidge famously said, “The chief ideal of the American people is idealism… [and] the chief business of the American people is business.”
Neither Americans’ idealism nor our industry were rewarded, however. From March 2020 on, ours was rule not by people, but by bureaucratic diktat.
Our politicians betrayed us: flying abroad, getting haircuts, going maskless, holding parties, and dining out while also closing schools, forbidding gatherings, banning amenities, and demonizing all who resisted — or even questioned — their orders.
Our corporate media betrayed us: propping up liars and fools, tearing down all who spoke against their champions, and spreading fear and hatred of dissent as far and wide as their words would carry.
Our teachers betrayed us: using Covid to gain a grab bag of vacation time, control over parents, wage hikes, and other unrelated perks, all while punishing school children with years of masks, separation — and the educational and developmental retardation those rules cost.
Even our much-vaunted hospital workers betrayed us: keeping dying husbands from their dying wives, grown children from their elderly parents, brothers from their sisters, and babies from their mothers — all to ensure “Covid safety.”
As hard as it seems, much of this might be good. Not that our politicians, media, teachers, and health care are broken — as the most important essay of 2021 laid bare — but that Americans now recognize just how broken they all are.
Other betrayals, however, are fresher. While corruption among our most powerful religious leaders is older than the Bible itself, when our government declared religion a disposable pastime, many of our religious leaders publicly obeyed. When they bowed before the bureaucrats, a trust was broken, and America was left with one more central civil institution weakened when we needed it strengthened.
The family — the political unit as old as the body politic itself — also suffered greatly. While American political fights have frayed blood relations since Benjamin Franklin fought his loyalist son, the past two years have seen so marked an increase in familial destruction that few of us are left untouched.
This past Christmas, for example, people across the country told their relatives they would not be welcome if they hadn’t taken the vaccine. You probably know more people this hurt than you realize; many of them, sad and embarrassed, hid it, claiming they simply couldn’t make the trip this year.
Then there are the grandparents across the country who have never seen their grandchildren. In the past month alone, I’ve met two different couples seeing theirs for the first time ever — provided they quarantined for two weeks first, and then took a test.
The kind of fear and intolerance it takes to bar your mother from your children extends to broader society, too. Cops, hospital workers, and many others have lost their jobs over refusals to take the shot, while corporate media and its viewers loudly cheered for even harsher penalties. Confronting and reporting on businesses and people who break Covid restrictions is actively encouraged by both government and media.
Our inability to dissent from the latest Covid decree penetrates our society so deeply, liberal comedy show “Saturday Night Live” is now openly mocking how closely American liberals have had to monitor even their private conversations with friends.
We’re now so comfortable with the concept of censoring “disinformation,” it’s extended well beyond Covid. These days, it’s not surprising to see the hosts of a daytime TV show for women casually call for the investigation (and possible imprisonment) of journalists and politicians who express opposition to something they support — in this case, an American war in Ukraine.
This sort of thing has become actually monotonous: Censorship, investigation, and even arrest are offered daily as solutions to problems as mundane as political or medical disagreements. Has the phrase “We’re all in this together” ever rung so hollow?
As in past eras of marked trouble, struggle, and decline, not all our problems are plainly linked; but they coalesce in their effects.
We find ourselves more divided than we’ve been in 150 years, and so less able to handle what comes our way. Many of our civil institutions — long sick — now seem terminally ill. Distrust and enmity run high, and why shouldn’t they?
The result of these divisions: As we plunge into the next series of crises — rapid inflation, destabilized fuel prices, the real prospect of world war in Europe — we have fewer tools to handle them, less willingness to try, and more suspicion of our fellow Americans than any time in over a century.
Taking it all in, we know that we’re weaker than when we began 2020. Taking it all in, we know that far from returning to normalcy, we’re entering a period of deadly turmoil, with enemies foreign and domestic intent on taking advantage of our divisions, our distrust, and our dangerously unsteady economic situation.
We’ve been challenged before, even in modern times. The Sept. 11 attacks rocked us like we hadn’t seen since Pearl Harbor, yet we soldiered on. What’s finally missing, however, is that general feeling of confidence.
We no longer share an understanding that no matter the monsters we’d face — and we face many, here and abroad — that everything would be OK; that the American Way will go on.
“Overriding everything else,” Walter Lord wrote in his 1955 book on the sinking of the HMS Titanic, “the [disaster] also marked the end of a general feeling of confidence.”
“Until then men felt they had found the answer to a steady, orderly, civilized life. For 100 years the Western world had been at peace. For 100 years technology had steadily improved. For 100 years the benefits of peace and industry seemed to be filtering satisfactorily through society.”
“In retrospect,” he continued, “there may seem less grounds for confidence, but at the time most articulate people felt life was all right. The Titanic woke them up. Never again would they be quite so sure of themselves.”
Within two years of the sinking, the First World War began. By its end, its hubris, violence, and indifference to personal suffering destroyed a generation — and cut our civilization so deeply, the damage inflicted is still seen written on our world today.
The men who, in relative peacetime, placed supreme confidence in their steel ship against the great blue sea might only chuckle at the hubris of their successors, who had supreme confidence they could master a disease they didn’t know.
We in the West, though, can be confident of one thing only: These past two years have cut us deeply, and will haunt us for many more to come.
What’s not yet written is whether we overcome. That will be up to us, and God.
Pray for America.