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The Mainstream Media Is Missing the Real 2022 Midterm Election Plot

By Peter RoffNewsweek

There are a lot of folks who like to watch the NFL on TV. Maybe not as many as there were before the whole kneeling thing started, but it’s still a big number. And many of those probably find it irritating to no end when one of the commentators says something like—and it’s almost inevitable that they will—”It’s all going to come down to which team can put the most points on the board.”

For the people who, like me, make a living writing about politics and elections, the onset of primary season produces for us the same kind of annoyance. It’s maddening when someone who is presented as an expert on the ins and outs of the electoral process says, as you can safely bet someone eventually will, that “it’s all going to come down to turnout.”

There are times when there is a real urge to smack some of these analysts in the face. This is what comes from eliminating high school civics programs and news organizations deciding that those who at one time or another covered local government are now well-suited to explain how and why politicians get elected.

The 2016 presidential election is a perfect example of this phenomenon in practice. Many of the nation’s top political reporters, as well as those in the middle and many of the bottom-feeders, missed what was going on. They bought into the spin that Hillary Clinton‘s election was inevitable. As such, they regarded the October 2016 leak of an audiotape in which Donald Trump could, to put it gently, be heard speaking unflatteringly about women, as a death blow.

Admittedly, in many races and almost any other year, it probably would have been. But the choice between Clinton and Trump was unlike any presented to the voters in some time.

It takes experience in the electoral process to generate the level of sophistication regarding the many nuances in American politics. It takes more than subject-matter expertise to get it right. So many of my colleagues missed it so totally that I—who saw Trump’s chances of getting to the White House growing while Clinton’s were contracting, even after the release of the infamous audiotape—was either onto something or had simply become a cheerleader for whichever candidate the GOP chose to nominate.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the commencement
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the commencement address during the graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy Memorial Stadium on May 27, 2022 in Annapolis, Maryland.CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

The reason I bring this all up is that I now see it happening again. The dominant political media’s obsession with Trump, the candidates he’s endorsed and whether or not they’re winning contested GOP primaries is only a small part of the 2022 midterm election story.

It’s a popular subject because it’s easy to cover and people seem interested in it. It doesn’t, however, tell us much about where the GOP is headed or what’s now happening among the Democrats. The next election, as much as the mainstream media won’t like it, isn’t going to be a referendum on Trump. It’s going to be about President Joe Biden and how the Democrats have run the country for the last two years, even though—and this is something else that’s been overlooked—the GOP is in charge of more states now than at almost any time in history.

The Biden presidency is failing. At least that’s the perception people have. His approval rating, which started in the low- to mid-60s when he took office, has now sunk below 40. That’s not good for him, and it’s not good for his party. Democrats are getting the blame for things that are happening as a result of policies Biden has put in place, as well as for things harmful to the interests of the United States over which he has no direct control. That’s created a positive political environment for the GOP, which has amassed a nearly double-digit lead on the crucial polling question of which party voters want to control Congress after the next election.

How people feel, and why, is what ties all this together. The environment drives turnout and, right now, GOP voters are energized and engaged. A Rasmussen Reports national survey released May 26 found that of the 79% of likely voters who are excited to vote in the midterm election, Republicans led Democrats by an eight-point margin. Among those who said they were “very excited” (49 percent) to vote this fall, the GOP lead grows to 16 points. “These findings are consistent with the generic congressional ballot,” the polling firm said, “where Republicans held a nine-point lead last week.”

The challenge for those writing about elections is to figure out why that is. To be blunt, they need to set aside their personal biases—left and right—long enough to get in touch with what the American voter is thinking, while also abandoning their propensity to judge whether those thoughts are “right” or “wrong.” Only then will they be able to report competently on the contest for control of Congress this fall.

Dick Armey’s Behind-the-Scenes Take on Congress

The former GOP majority leader shows how the sausage is made.

By Peter RoffAmerican Spectator

It’s always a temptation when reviewing political books to cite the observation attributed to Bismarck that “Laws are like sausages. It’s best not to see them being made.” It’s so tempting it’s become a cliché. Yet just because it’s trite doesn’t make it true.

In election after election, we’ve seen candidates for high office make promises we presume they intend to keep. Then they go off to Washington, ready to do the right thing, only to find themselves eventually distracted by the perks that come with the job, as we’ve seen time and again on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and on the nightly news.

One who did manage to stay within the boundaries he set for himself was former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas). First elected in 1984, he quickly became the kind of conservative leader many Republicans had long prayed would come upon the scene.

For many, their first encounter with him came while he was pushing a then-revolutionary idea that would allow the federal government to close unneeded military bases over the opposition of those who represented the districts in which they were located. The Armey Base Closing Bill, which he managed to get passed despite not being a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has been held up ever since as an example that legislators looking to make their mark as serious people would do well to emulate.

It did not take long for Armey to be seen as the conservative standard-bearer on a host of issues related to economics and education. He’s still revered to this day by the nation’s millions of home-schooling families because he stopped an effort by congressional Democrats to regulate their activities. But he is best known for his leadership on economic issues — particularly against the tax increases that George H. W. Bush sought in violation of the “no new taxes” promise he made during the 1988 presidential election.

That, as most people know, proved ruinous to Bush’s hopes for a second term because it turned the Reagan wing of the party against him. White House insiders tried to mitigate the political damage by claiming it was a gambit by then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu to produce an uptick in federal revenues by forcing the Democrats to sign on to a cut in the tax rate on capital gains. Other said later that it was tied to getting congressional support for the military operation that pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

What wasn’t, and what no one has ever said until now when Armey does it, is that the tax hike was something long in the works, planned by key Bush aides whose green eyeshades were pulled down too far over their faces to see reality staring back at them.

According to Armey, he was told in 1989 during the period in which 101st Congress was organizing that House Budget Chairman Leon Panetta (D-Calif.) looked him in the eye and told him Bush’s OMB Director-designate “Dick Darman believes that if he can get President Bush a year beyond his ‘read my lips’ declaration, he can get him to agree to raise taxes in a budget deal.”

Leader is not gossipy or salacious, and he doesn’t use his prose to settle scores. That’s what makes Armey’s book so different from the traditional Washington memoir. He has kinder words for some Democrats than those who know him as a fierce partisan might expect. He’s also got some choice words for some of his fellow Republicans, who do not come off at all well. This includes the man who succeeded him as majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas, who is widely viewed as the principal inside man in the aborted coup against House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Armey, who says to this day says he had no part in the coup, recounts how he was angrily confronted by his fellow Texan after being forced to apologize to the entire Republican Conference. DeLay, he writes, “rushed me, grabbed my coat, and screamed into my face. ‘You rotten SOB! I hate you! And I am going to ruin you, you miserable bastard!’”

There’s a lot for anyone to learn in Leader, whether you want to know how good policy becomes law, how bad economics make bad policy, or how the legislative process really works, told from the perspective of a man who not only participated in it but also led it for almost a decade. As the Republican House floor leader, he had the insider’s view. In his book he shares it, warts and all, candidly and seemingly without reservation, something that in the age of spin and social media happens all too infrequently. Unlike many of his former political colleagues, Armey didn’t write this book to make money. He wrote it to make a point worth making, which, frankly, is why Dick Armey ever does anything.

Pop Goes the Presidency

Biden gets desperate

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Getty Images

A wise man once said: “When the economy is bad, people blame the party in power. When the economy is good, people look at other issues.”

Well, the economy is bad. Nice-sounding growth, job, and wage numbers do not count for much when the American standard of living is in decline. Inflation has outpaced income gains since last year. It remains at a 40-year high. Gas costs more than four dollars per gallon—sometimes much more—in every state. Americans under 40 years old are experiencing consumer delays, shortages, and scarce necessities, including baby formula, for the first time in their lives. According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Americans say that inflation is “a very big problem.”

It’s also a very big problem for the party in power. President Biden’s economic approval rating is 34 percent in the most recent CNN poll. His overall job approval rating is 41 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls. Republicans have held a slight but durable lead in the congressional generic ballot since last October. The midterm election is less than six months away. To preserve their narrow majorities in Congress, Democrats need to change the trajectory of this campaign. Right now.

Their solution? Pretend that the election isn’t a referendum on Biden’s job performance but a choice between Biden and Donald Trump. Scare voters with references to the extremism of the right. Invoking Trump alone is not enough, however. Terry McAuliffe tried that approach during last year’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign and it flopped. McAuliffe lost. Running against Trump and the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement doesn’t work when Trump is neither president nor on the ballot. Democrats have convinced themselves that victory in the fall requires something scarier than MAGA. It requires Ultra-MAGA.

On May 10 Biden contrasted his policies with the “Ultra-MAGA Agenda.” Haven’t heard of it? According to Biden, it’s the brainchild of Senator Rick Scott of Florida, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. (In his remarks, Biden erroneously said Scott hails from Wisconsin.) Back in February, Scott released a policy document that remains controversial within the Republican Party and that few Republican candidates have endorsed in full.

Biden isn’t subtle. He wants to use Scott’s proposals as an electoral cudgel, just as Barack Obama campaigned against Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” in 2012. Hence Biden’s description of “the ultra-MAGA plan put forward by congressional Republicans to raise taxes on working families; lower the incomes of American workers; threaten the sacred programs American count on like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; and give break after break to big corporations and billionaires.” Biden says that his foes are not ordinary Republicans. They are not run-of-the-mill Trump voters. They are “Ultra-MAGA Republicans.”

Someone has been spending too much time in focus groups. The Biden administration and congressional Democrats must think that the prefix “ultra” makes a noun sound spooky. But the president and his underlings will have to specify who really counts as an Ultra-MAGA Republican, what the Ultra-MAGA agenda entails, and when “ultra” should be capitalized before voters stop worrying about rising prices, violent crime, insecure borders, and craziness in schools. In its current usage, “ultra-MAGA” comes across as comical. It’s a hackneyed slogan. Some people may even find it appealing.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the other day that “ultra-MAGA” is the president’s coinage for Republicans who support Rick Scott’s plan, Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion returning abortion law to the states, and Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R., Fla.) fight with Disney. “And so,” said Psaki, “to him, adding a little ‘ultra’ to it, gives it a little extra pop.”

A little extra pop? What is Psaki talking about—a new flavor of Pringles?

The Democrats are unable or incapable of running on their accomplishments. Their economic agenda is discredited among voters grappling with inflation. Their traditional advantage on education has narrowed because of parental fury at school closures, mask rules, confusing COVID guidance, and politically correct school boards. They have fallen back on scaremongering and name-calling.

Not for the first time. Nor for the last. Expect the alarm bells to ring louder as autumn approaches. By Election Day, Biden will have moved from “Ultra-MAGA” to “Mega-MAGA,” “Super-Duper MAGA,” “MAGA Deluxe XXL,” and, in homage to his love of ice cream, “All-Out Triple Scoop Chunky Monkey MAGA with Extra Deplorables.” Voters will respond as they usually do when Biden speaks. They will ignore him.

Voters Call Biden a Weak Commander-in-Chief

By Peter RoffAmerican Liberty

Voters Call Biden a Weak Commander-in-Chief

 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.

Biden is Losing. Period

By Peter RoffAmerican Liberty

Biden is Losing. Period

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.

The Death Of Hungary’s Contrived Democracy Experiment

By Dr. Miklos K. RadvanyiFrontiers of Freedom

Hungary’s ninth most bizarre and absolutely unfair national elections took place on April 3, 2022.  The first in 1990, was won by a group of the previous regime’s fellow travelers, who knew close to nothing about governing a country.  The resulting collective disappointment brought back in 1994 the reform Communists of the 1980s.  In 1998, the Viktor Orban-led Young Democrats (Hungarian acronyms: FIDESZ), formed a coalition government with the antediluvian Smallholders’ Party.  In 2002, his government, riddled with incompetence and corruption, was unceremoniously booted out of power by a coalition of the politically still presentable reform Communists and an unruly collection of self-aggrandizing neoliberal titans.  This unlikely coalition survived for another eight unsuccessful years, which included the worldwide economic crisis in 2008-2009.  In 2010, the Young Democrats returned to power with 54% of the votes.  Since then, headed by the indestructible Viktor Orban, the not so Young and definitely not Democrats have repeated the same act three more times, in 2014, in 2018, and very recently in 2022. 

Regardless of Viktor Orban’s and his party’s wins, the overall situation in Hungary has remained unequivocally frightening.  In spite of significant financial support by the European Union, the promised progress to democracy and a more equitable distribution of the national wealth has never  materialized.  Under Viktor Orban’s premiership, Hungary has been metamorphosed from a resentfully  developing constitutional system into a ruthless criminal syndicate.  Economically, almost 50% of Hungarians still cannot afford basic resources.  Conversely, the constitutionally unrestrained and politically unaccountable Orban governments have stolen and embezzled most of the economic wealth of the country.  In this manner, Hungary has again lost another decade in moving closer politically and economically to the developed member states of the European Union. 

More importantly, Hungary has even regressed backward by Viktor Orban’s “Illiberal Democracy.”  While he has never defined it unambiguously, life in Hungary has shown that this kind of a rogue regime means nothing but absolute power for him – made even more despicable by unbridled corruption as well as unconditional impunity for his extended family and his closest collaborators.  In other words, behind the facade of “Illiberal Democracy” lurks the real Hungary, in which the mentality of centuries-old feudalistic order is mixed in a chaotic jumble with the loathsome reality of a well organized criminal syndicate.  Mainly, Orban’s “Illiberal Democracy” must be rebranded as a viscerally evil “Kleptocracy.”  Undoubtedly, it is highly destructive for a truly free society.  Indeed, his kleptocratic “Illiberal Democracy” is the sworn enemy of real democracy and economic prosperity, because it is the mythical “Horn of Amalthea” and a genuine cornucopia of inexhaustible wealth for this Hungarian tyrant. 

Foreign and domestic analyses before the elections were full of erroneous opinions regarding the present situation in Hungary.  In the United States of America, leading media personalities have praised Viktor Orban and the overall conditions in Hungary.  In particular, Tucker Carlson of Fox News Channel and Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, excelled in relentlessly spreading pro-Orban propaganda with outrageously fabricated reporting on the blessings of the latter’s “Illiberal Democracy,” equating it falsely with genuine democratic conservatism. Unsurprisingly, they have been unable to explain the uniquely Hungarian phenomenon of the majority’s strange behavior of repeatedly submitting themselves to a political power that keeps them in abject poverty as well as political slavery.  However, anyone who desires to really comprehend the actual state of affairs, the mentality and the lives of the Hungarians should study Patty Hearst’s curious affair with the Symbionese Liberation Army of 1974. 

As has been exhaustively chronicled by the media and Hollywood, the granddaughter of American media magnate William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped on February 4, 1974.  Brainwashed and abused, the 19-year old Patty Hearst joined the group to commit several armed robberies.  Whether she was a victim of coercion or a converted criminal remained unresolved by her criminal trial.  What is more important, however, is the undeniable fact of her impossible state of mind, namely, being simultaneously an initial victim and a duped collaborator of her submission.  Her personal tragedy was straight up good versus evil. 

Similarly, the majority of Hungarian and their ethnic kinfolks in the neighboring countries, consider themselves the innocent victims of the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty that decimated historic Hungary’s territory as well as its population.  Predictably, they have attached great importance to the logic of good versus evil among themselves and in relation with their neighbors in the region.  Thus, a nation inside and outside Hungary’s present national boundaries, has become divided against itself.  Hatred, jealousy and desperation have taken hold of the Hungarian national consciousness.  Collaboration with the evil “Illiberal Democracy” has been a life or death predicament for every Hungarian.

Yet, no country, no institution and no ideology can normally develop by constantly highlighting its miseries.  Nor can the belief in unrealistic and fallacious historical narratives provide the people with real knowledge of themselves as well as the outside environment.  This instability of the political realm has prevented the emergence of a new politics and perhaps a new conception as well as spirituality of being a Hungarian.  For these reasons, Viktor Orban’s hate-filled fearmongering and divisive rhetoric might have been seen as a personal victory for him, but a tragic defeat for Hungary.  Constitutionally, the new/old Orban government  will be incapable of changing its corrupt  ways.  Understandably, such a state of affairs cannot continue much longer.  Clinging to its self-defeating domestic and foreign policies, Hungary will not abandon its ambivalence and, therefore, it will remain an absurdly underdeveloped member of the European Union, in which the law of the jungle will always be superimposed on the rule of law.  In the precious words of a late friend of mine, Istvan Gereben:  “Hungary is and will remain for the foreseeable future a hopelessly lost cause for its long suffering citizens, the European Union and the rest of the world.” 

Cleaning Up the Electoral Process

By Peter RoffNewsweek

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.

Voting New York City
A voter stands in a booth at a voting station at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) during the mayoral election process in New York on June 12, 2021.ED JONES / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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.

Are American Elections Honest?

By Peter RoffAmerican Liberty

The Roff Draft: Are American Elections Honest?

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.

Elections Have Consequences, And 2020’s Was War

The weakness and incompetence of the Biden administration was irresistible to a tyrant like Vladimir Putin. And it may be to more tyrants, like Xi Jinping.

By Jiim HansonThe Federalist

Russia bombing Ukrainian cities

here is a plethora of misinformation in corporate media on the potential World War III. Shocking, I know. Let’s clear a few things up: Vladimir Putin hasn’t lost. The West did not pull together under Joe Biden’s “leadership.” But Ukraine has most definitely won the propaganda war.

The weakness and incompetence of the Biden administration was irresistible to a tyrant like Putin. That left Ukraine pretty much on its own as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and United States were essentially irrelevant. The Ukrainian forces have exceeded expectations, but thus far Putin has not gone full Golden Horde on them. There is also a lot of smoke and mirrors in play, and as noted information warfare strategists Chuck D and Flavor Flav have advised, “Don’t believe the hype.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is no longer a former comedian, he’s a World War III rock star. When pictures of him in full battle rattle out with the troops were published, apparently the United States offered to whisk him to safety. His response was famously, “I don’t need a ride, I need ammo.”

Add that to the Snake Island defenders telling a Russian warship threatening them to “Go f-ck yourselves” right before the shells started raining down. Then throw in a squad of supermodels carrying Kalashnikovs and 80-year-old guys showing up to fight with a couple of sandwiches and a bad attitude.

That is a tremendous narrative of the plucky patriots fighting for their families and freedom. Those stories are all true, or maybe not. Zelensky is confirmed to have made his request for ammo, but the Snake Island heroes were captured, not killed. The supermodels are at least real on Instagram, and the same with the old guy and his lunch.

At some level, perception is reality, and Ukraine has done a brilliant job of getting its message out. Now they are getting support based on the combination of information warfare and actual battlefield action.

They seem to have stopped the Russian blitzkrieg. Kyiv has not fallen and the Russian advance appears to have stalled. There are also reports of major Russian casualties and destruction of equipment.

But reports are not reality, and it’s worth examining them. Many came from the notoriously reliable interwebz and have run the gamut from unverified to happened seven years ago to absolute B.S.

Information warfare is important in the modern social media battlespace, but it means less than the truth on the ground, which is far from certain. A few pictures of Russian vehicles abandoned by the road can be a sign their logistics aren’t up to snuff. Or show that when 10,000-plus vehicles are rolling through enemy territory, some break down or get ahead of fuel convoys.

Video of Spetsnaz looting food from a store can show their troops are starving. Or it’s a reminder that Spetsnaz are commandos who operate well ahead of the chow wagons in the rear. It is clear that Ukraine was not toppled in a weekend, but that does not mean it couldn’t still be or that was even the goal.

It has been my belief all along that Putin never wanted to own and occupy Ukraine. Assuming he does topple the government, and I think it’s premature to say he couldn’t, then he will face a massive insurgency. He was around for Afghanistan, and I can’t see why he would take that on again.

He does want ownership of the two Russian-speaking provinces on his border with Ukraine in the west and official recognition of Crimea. Making a larger assault gives him bargaining chips to ensure he can trade a promise to not destroy the infrastructure for land deeds and removal of sanctions.

There is talk of peace talks. Also, as if to punctuate his previous threat, Putin put his “defensive” nuclear forces on alert. However, talk is cheap until a deal turns into tanks rolling back to Mother Russia or at least back to the newer additions.

But we can’t ignore that for the first time in decades mass formations of tanks rolled in Europe and the leader of a major power threatened nuclear attack. The damage and danger to Ukraine are huge. The return of nuclear brinksmanship is the real loss for the whole world.

The failure to simply roll into Kyiv as the Russians thought they would is a major blow to their military morale and Putin’s image as the strong man. While the wins for Ukraine are not a bad thing, a wannabe tough guy with wounded pride could be.

Putin now has to salvage something he can call a win and at a minimum now he needs to have Russian vehicles rolling in the streets of Kyiv. Even if he doesn’t topple the regime, that visual may be enough to salve his ego. But that means the gloves are all the way off and civilians are in the crosshairs. There are already credible reports of cluster munitions in built-up areas.

We also must consider that Vlad wants a legacy worthy of his exalted image of himself as a major force in Russian history. Until now, he has done nothing worthy of that. Losing the Ukraine scrap is not an option for him. If it starts looking really bad, his inner megalomaniac may dominate. Making Russia the first country other than the United States to use a nuke in battle would certainly cement his spot in world history.

You would have to go back to the fall of the Soviet Union for the last time there was a real concern that a rogue faction would grab nukes and use them. But this is the rightful(ish) leader threatening to use them against us or anyone else who intervenes. You can’t un-ring that bell.

Neither the United State nor NATO was a serious threat to Putin’s plans, which is a problem. He can do a lot of damage without ever directly encroaching on a NATO country and triggering, theoretically, a response. And while Germany claiming they will spend 100 million euros on their military is a welcome sign, what if they had done so when President Trump pressured them to? Maybe a little peace through strength would have been an actual deterrent.

Now we confront the worst-case scenario of a Dragon/Bear alliance between Russia and China. Xi and Putin met during the Olympics and Xi likely told Vlad. “Just hold off until after the closing ceremonies.” Then they made an energy deal to ensure Vlad had an outlet to replace Nordstream2.

Love him or not, Donald Trump kept Putin, Xi, and even Kim Jong Un from causing major problems. He kept the Russians engaged and far from partnering up with the Communist Chinese. He put all of them on their back feet wondering kind of a deal might be possible but also worried what he might do if they stepped over the line.

Biden can barely be certain what decade this is, let alone present a worthy adversary for these world-class tyrants. They are stealing Joe’s (and the world’s) lunch money while he wonders if today is butterscotch or chocolate pudding.

This was mildly amusing during the campaign, but has gotten progressively more horrifying until now we approach a nuclear showdown. Sadly, the vision of Biden as Slim Pickens riding the nuke like a cowboy in Dr. Strangelove seems an actual possibility.

What happens when Xi decides Taiwan and all its chip factories are perfectly ripe for the picking with no one even marginally competent to be found in the U.S. leadership? One year and one month have led us to the point where World War III is not a joke; it may have already started. That hype you can believe and the only thing we can do is “Fight the Power.”

I don’t mean get ourselves in a war or even a skirmish at this point. We have to fight the woke left’s fundamental transformation of the United States into a toothless, doddering mirror image of Biden they can operate like a puppet. While the left is having a momentary spasm of bellicose fantasy, it is not real and will quickly pass. Their nature is to be subservient, and that is what they want America to be.

We must fight against their view of America as the soy-latte sipping, artisanal arugula-nibbling, one nation among many. That means peace through strength, which just happens to be the best way to avoid getting drawn into anybody’s wars.

But first we need to hope Biden doesn’t somehow throw more gas on this potential nuclear barbecue. Elections have consequences.

Joe Biden Doesn’t Know What You’re Talking About

No U-Turns for President Biden ahead of midterms

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

President Biden Holds A Press Conference At The White House
Getty Images

President Biden begins his second year in office with a 42 percent average job approval rating. Republicans hold a 1 point lead over Democrats in the congressional generic ballot (and the generic ballot question often underestimates GOP support). The Gallup organization reports that in the final quarter of 2021 Republicans took a 5 point lead in party identification for the first time since 1995. As of this writing, 28 House Democrats have announced their retirements, with more expected to follow. Biden’s agenda is stalled in Congress, the Supreme Court blocked his employer vaccine mandate, the coronavirus pandemic continues, and inflation is higher than at any point in the last 39 years. The country—not to mention the president—could use a reset.

We’re not getting one. Instead, on January 19, we got Biden’s combative, discursive, and delusional mess of a 1 hour and 51-minute press conference. Among the reasons the occasion was notable—and notorious—was that it forced the White House to clarify later Biden’s comments on not one but two issues: Biden’s ambiguity over America’s response if Russia launches a “minor incursion” into Ukraine, and Biden’s repeated assertion that the Senate’s failure to pass his election takeover bills throws the legitimacy of the midterm elections into doubt. To watch Biden at the lectern was to experience shock and dismay interspersed with moments of alarm and dark humor. No wonder he hides from the media. It was the worst presidential press conference since Donald Trump stood next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in 2018.

Biden’s message to the 64 percent of the public that says the country is headed in the wrong direction: Everything is fine. Biden’s message to the 42 percent of the public that says economic conditions are poor: You must be joking. “We created six million new jobs—more jobs in one year than at any time before,” Biden said. “Unemployment dropped—the unemployment dropped to 3.9 percent.” Yes, Biden conceded, there is “frustration and fatigue in this country.” But that is due to the pandemic. As for inflation, Biden went on, it will subside when the Federal Reserve tightens the money supply (true), when Congress passes “my Build Back Better plan” (false), and when his anti-monopoly executive orders take effect (also false). “I didn’t overpromise,” Biden said. “But I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen.”

In one sense that’s true—Biden has turned out to be much worse than anybody expected. Just 28 percent of Americans say they have “a great deal of confidence” in his management of the White House. Forty-nine percent say he is doing more to divide than to unite the country. Less than a third want him to run for reelection. Biden shows no sign of taking these atrocious numbers seriously. “I don’t believe the polls,” he said Wednesday. It shows.

I had flashbacks during Biden’s presser to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress in September 2011. Like Obama, Biden didn’t back down from his agenda. Like Obama, Biden challenged Republican obstructionism and tried to define the choice for the electorate between Democratic egalitarianism and Republican extremism. In retrospect, Obama’s economic address was the launch of his reelection campaign. Even though his proposal never became law, he succeeded in casting his opponents in a negative light. It helped him define Mitt Romney the following year as an uncaring plutocrat and win a second term. The Obama-era retreads who fill the Biden administration—including Biden himself—must assume that a similar strategy will limit their losses in the midterms. They tell themselves that if they keep their heads down and soldier on, the left will remain happy, and the center will come back to the Democrats out of fear and dislike of Trump and the MAGA Squad. “What are Republicans for?” Biden said Wednesday. “What are they for? Name me one thing they are for.”

Stopping you, for starters. And, judging by the polls, that may be enough. There are many differences between Obama in 2011 and Biden in 2022, and they don’t work in the incumbent’s favor. For one thing, time is running short for Biden. He has less than 10 months before Election Day. For another, Obama had a Republican House of Representatives to triangulate against. All the voters know now is that Democrats are in full control of the federal government and making a mess of it. A third difference is the state of the world. Obama’s controversial first term looks like a placid oasis compared with the hellscape of today.

Then of course there are the stylistic divergences between Obama and his former vice president. Obama was a cultural figure as well as a president, a man of distinction and suavity whose oratorical presence and position atop his party was never questioned, even if plenty of people (including me) disagreed with just about everything he ever did or said. The same isn’t true of Biden. Obama is incapable of a press conference as rambling and disheveled and politically harmful as Biden’s. Even Bill Clinton, four years Biden’s junior, would have done better. And Clinton’s been out of office for 21 years.

Biden pledged to make some changes this year, however. Not to his White House team. Not to his vice president. According to Biden, they are all doing fine. Nor will he alter his policies. Maybe Build Back Better can pass in “chunks,” maybe Congress can reform the Electoral Count Act to prevent election subversion, but overall Biden is satisfied with himself. “Can you think of any other president that has done as much in one year?” Biden asked in one of his biggest whoppers of the afternoon. “Name one for me.”

Biden doesn’t want to make substantive changes. He wants a different schedule. “I’m going to get out of this place more often.” Never mind that he spent a quarter of his first year in Delaware. “I’m going to go out and talk to the public.” And “now that I have time,” he’s going to seek more advice from “experts outside,” including the “presidential historians” who convinced him that he is FDR and LBJ reborn and set him on the road to a 40 percent approval rating. Finally, Biden said, “We’re going to be out there making sure that we’re helping all those candidates.” No doubt. I, for one, can think of many candidates who Biden is helping. They are all Republicans.

What I’ve Got in Common with Stacey Abrams

By Rick PerryReal Clear Politics

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Stacey Abrams and I have a lot in common. We’re both proud Southerners. We both hail from the only two states with schools that beat the Crimson Tide this season. We both think Joe Biden made the wrong VP pick. We both believe we won gubernatorial elections. Of course, only one of us is right on the last point — but as an Aggie, I respect the power of a healthy self-esteem.

We now have one more thing in common: We both skipped the Biden-Harris phony election-reform show in Atlanta. Not that I was invited: What would a three-term major-state governor who presided over historic expansion of voting (and minority-group participation in voting) know about elections, anyway? But Stacey Abrams was invited. And the fact that she didn’t come tells you just how dead-on-arrival the White House’s elections agenda actually is.

The motivation for Abrams’s no-show is twofold. Not more than two years ago, she was openly campaigning to become Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick, transparently attempting to leverage liberal media into forcing him to pick her. It didn’t work, and now she has an opportunity to return the snub. She’s drawing with her an array of Georgia-based left-wing advocacy groups, who have declared that they too will refuse to attend the president and vice president’s Atlanta event — on the grounds that the White House has been too slow, and too tentative, in advancing their agenda.

The second element to the absenteeism is the fact that the president, the vice president, and their elections agenda are profoundly unpopular in Georgia. Stacey Abrams is campaigning for governor there (again), and wants to win (she would say again to that too), and there’s no compelling reason for her to tie herself to the negative-ratings deadweights that helm her national party. 

Even without the officeholder unpopularity, the fact is that Georgians — like most Americans — are reasonably happy with their elections, and also reasonably happy with the post-2020 legislation that has addressed many of the process flaws exposed in that cycle. The fact that the Democrats and the progressives have talked themselves into an elections agenda that doubles down on those flaws, and introduces more uncertainty into the elections system, only highlights their disconnect from the lived reality of ordinary Americans. 

(Another sign of that disconnect: trying to hold a political rally in Georgia on the very morning after the Dawgs broke a forty-one year national-championship drought. It’s political malpractice on a level so appalling, it could only be exceeded by sending Paul Finebaum to Guantanamo. Now that I write that, I fear the vice president will convene a task force to make it happen.) 

Of course, they’re also disconnected from one another. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were also in Atlanta, Georgia to give the progressive base exactly what it has been demanding for years. The progressive base, instead of pocketing the small victory, is sabotaging the moment by staying away. We already knew this was a movement that doesn’t have what it takes to govern — the president’s disastrous 2021 was proof enough of that — and now we have evidence that it also doesn’t have what it takes to win.

That’s good news for Americans, in Georgia and beyond. Even though the president and vice president are in Atlanta advocating for a truly terrible agenda, that agenda isn’t going to happen. They can’t lead their own movement. But even if they could, Americans want nothing to do with it. When you’ve constructed a political fantasy too far out even for Stacey Abrams, you know it’s time to pack it in.

Jay Inslee Tries to Criminalize Political Speech

By Dan McLaughlinNational Review

Washington governor Jay Inslee speaks on the second night of the second Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, Mich., July 31, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Washington governor Jay Inslee seems unclear on the whole “no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech” concept:

What does he have in mind? Here’s what Inslee referenced.

The governor also assailed three Republican state lawmakers — Brad Klippert, Vicki Kraft and Robert Sutherland — who attended at taxpayer expense an election conspiracy theory conference in South Dakota last summer. The Seattle Times first reported the details of that trip earlier this week. “The defeated president and his allies, including some legislators in Washington state, are perpetuating the belief that this election was stolen from them,” Inslee said. “What do you think is going to happen if you perpetuate that belief? Of course violence can be happening as a result of that.”…The governor likened the rhetoric about elections being stolen to “yelling fire in a crowded theater.” “The defeated president as recently as an hour ago is yelling fire in the crowded theater of democracy,” Inslee said, referring to statements Trump issued Thursday. Those statements included: “Never forget the crime of the 2020 Presidential Election. Never give up!”

This is a straightforward effort to criminalize speech about politics. A broad spectrum of stolen-election and rigged-election theories have been widely circulated in the United States since at least the 1824 election, if not 1800. Most of them are lies, hokum, and hyperbole, but our system of political speech has always allowed an open contest in the marketplace of ideas to deal with that. As Inslee’s own state’s Supreme Court wrote in that 2007 case striking down a ban on candidates lying about each other, “The notion that the government, rather than the people, may be the final arbiter of truth in political debate is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment.”

Moreover, this is specifically the kind of speech that it is common to hear from Democrats. Kamala Harris just hired a new communications director, Jamal Simmons, who tweeted less than a year ago — not for the first time — that he believed “W stole the 2000 elex.” And Simmons is, if anything, more temperate on the subject than many leading Democrats. Joe Biden’s Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, has long pushed a similar line, and in 2014, when Vox tweeted a poll saying that 68% of Americans think U.S. elections are rigged, Klain responded, “That’s because they are.”

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the likes of Jay Inslee to call for any of these people to be prosecuted. Presumably, what Inslee means when he limits this to lies “likely to incite or cause lawlessness” is that he will appeal to sympathetic courts to say that it’s only likely to incite that when his political opponents do it. But a rule-of-law system is supposed to mean one rule for everyone.

Note that the examples Inslee cites — legislators attending a conference, Donald Trump issuing a press release — are a far cry from the constitutional requirement of inciting imminent criminal action, a standard that would be imposing to apply even to Trump’s January 6 speech. As David Harsanyi has observed about the “fire in a crowded theater” canard:

This is probably the weakest – and the most infuriatingly overused — analogy used in efforts to restrict rights. The line, taken from Oliver Wendell Holmes’ decision in Schenck v. United States and subsequently repeated by thousands of censorship apologists since, was at the heart of one of the most egregious violations of free expression in American history. The Schenck decision allowed the Wilson administration to throw anti-war activists into prison for violating the Espionage Act of 1917. It’s difficult to think of a more legitimate exercise of political expression than debating war and peace. In any event, Schenck was basically overturned by the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision, which found that the First Amendment protects speech unless it is likely to incite “imminent lawless action,” which yelling “fire in a theater” does not.

It may be that Inslee was just engaging in a one-day January 6 message, but his press release sounds as if he actually intends to push this into law. That should deeply alarm friends of the classical liberal values of free speech and democracy. It would be one thing if we read a statement like this from some inexperienced young progressive firebrand. But Jay Inslee — who followed this up with an executive order permitting racial discrimination by the state government — is about as much of an experienced, establishment figure as exists in the Democratic Party. He’s been in public office almost continuously since 1989. He spent a decade and a half in Congress. He’s the longest-serving sitting governor in the United States. He ran for president in 2020. That he is pushing for laws to throw political opponents in jail over political speech should tell us how deep the rot is on free political speech among the Democrats.

The Placeholder President

When Trump is the issue, Biden wins. And Biden's troubles begin.

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

President Joe Biden speaks about the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot / Getty Images

The most impassioned speech of Joe Biden’s presidency was about events that took place before it began. I’m talking about the president’s remarks on the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. The energy, force, and direction of Biden’s delivery have been missing from practically every address he’s made since his inauguration. The Biden who spoke from Statuary Hall on Thursday was not his usual self—listless, reactive, defensive, and confused. This Biden was angry and purposeful and on the attack.

True, it was a partisan speech. How could it not have been? The driving force behind the events of January 6 was a Republican president who remains the most important figure in his party. Many Republicans will accuse Biden of divisiveness. They will say he ignored the faults of his own side. Well, sorry, but what did you expect? Biden was lively and pointed because public opinion is with him. A majority says the 2020 election was legitimate. A plurality blames Trump for the mob assault on the Capitol. Fifty-nine percent of adults don’t want Trump to run for president in 2024. When Trump is the issue, Biden wins.

And Biden’s troubles start. Trump for now is the least of his worries. Trump is on the sidelines. He’s out of office. He’s banned from social media. He doesn’t figure in the everyday lives of most Americans. He won’t be on the ballot this November. A White House midterm strategy based on portraying GOP candidates as Q-Anon shamans ready to storm the Capitol won’t work. The hundreds of state and local campaigns will be too diverse. The candidates will be too distinct. And public anger over the economy, the pandemic, the schools, the border, and the cities will matter most of all.

Biden’s January 6 speech was a reminder that he’s a placeholder president. He’s in office because independent voters in the suburbs rejected Donald Trump’s personality and Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus. No one expected—or wanted—Biden to be a world-historical statesman. Biden himself said he’s a “transitional” figure with a singular goal: Keep Trump away from the White House. He accomplished that task, which is why he began his presidency with healthy approval ratings. The electorate didn’t sour on him until he took on additional employment: live-action role-playing FDR and LBJ, dismantling immigration protocols on the southern border, deferring to public health experts and regulatory bodies, and midwifing the Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan. Now Biden is at 43-percent approval in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls.

Biden’s dilemma is that “I’m not Trump” is a winning message only when Trump is on the ballot, holds office, or is tied to a major event such as January 6. The message doesn’t work on the other 364 days of the year. If Biden had grasped why he became president, he would have pursued a modest agenda directed at the independents who elected him. He would have sounded and acted more like Governor Jared Polis than like Senator Elizabeth Warren. Instead, Biden has catered to the left at the expense of the center. He’s at odds with the median voter as he fails to control the coronavirus, inflation, the border, and events overseas. His domestic agenda is stalled. And the Democratic congressional majority is at risk.

But not all is lost. A GOP Congress in 2023 may provide Biden with a rationale to shake up his staff, work with Senator Mitch McConnell, and distinguish himself from the cultural left. And the 2024 cycle may not be as good for Republicans as the 2022 cycle is shaping up to be. The last two Democratic presidents won reelection during periods of divided government. The mix of issues may be different. And Biden will be able to play his “I’m not Trump” card if the former president enters the presidential race and wins the GOP nomination.

Listening to Biden speak Thursday, I kept thinking of his recent interview with David Muir of ABC News. When asked if he’ll run for reelection, Biden gave the only answer possible: Yes. But he added an escape hatch when he said that his health would be the deciding factor. Then Muir asked Biden if Trump’s decision would shape his 2024 calculus. And the president became animated. He sounded as engaged as he was on January 6. “You’re trying to tempt me now,” he said. “Sure. Why would I not run against Donald Trump for the nominee? That’ll increase the prospect of running.”

Biden has seen the Democratic bench. He works with Vice President Kamala Harris. He understands that despite everything he remains the Democrats’ best chance of preventing a second Trump term. Joe Biden is an unpopular, unloved, and ineffective president. But he’s beaten Donald Trump once and isn’t wrong to think he might do it again. He won’t transform America. He might keep his job for a while longer if voters don’t like their options. That’s what a placeholder does.

Why more young black Americans are calling themselves ‘conservative’

By Dennis Richmond, Jr.The New York Post

Felecia Killings (from left), Charrise Lane and Claude J. Wheeler, Jr., are pushing back on the notion that all young black Americans are “progressive.” NY Post photo composite

For the past two years, the mainstream media has given tons of coverage to the Black Lives Matter movement — and rightly so. More than 80 percent of black Americans, including me, support the movement, especially in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody. But the media is missing many nuances among African-Americans. For one, we don’t all vote alike.

Yes, almost 90 percent of black voters went to bat for the Biden-Harris administration last year. But that leaves 10 percent of black voters who didn’t. Meanwhile, 25 percent of black Democrats actually consider themselves “conservative” and 43 percent say they are “moderate.” White Democrats with a college or postgraduate degree are most likely to call themselves “liberal.”

Some issues that matter to the black community just aren’t getting noticed. Two in three black Americans said they don’t feel represented in media, according to a 2020 study.

Charrise Lane, 22, of Orlando, Florida, is one person who has no interest in voting Democrat. She calls herself a “Conscious Black Conservative” and told me: “I’m a conservative because the Democratic Party has always been anti-black and racist towards black Americans.”

Lane is a YouTuber, political commentator and brand ambassador for Revolution of One, an organization that helps “people create personal freedom,⁣” according to its Twitter profile.

During one of her YouTube posts, Lane explained that her conservatism is shaped by “being surrounded around God and family and placing your values around that … [but] being conservative doesn’t mean you’re Christian… There are a lot of black Americans who agree with conservative values.” She said she wants leaders who are conscious of issues that plague the black community and “listen to the community instead of calling people in the community ‘victims’ and ‘slaves’… It is also about having empathy… and then coming up with policies and ways that will combat these issues.”

Last year, Kodak Black was pardoned by Trump. Last month, Kodak tweeted, “Bring Trump Back.”
Last year, Kodak Black was pardoned by Trump. Last month, Kodak tweeted, “Bring Trump Back.”

Former President Donald J. Trump increased his share of black voters by four percentage points in 2020, partly because he focused on issues that matter to the community — jobs, safety, opportunities, education and healthcare. He also had the backing of black musicians including Kanye West, 50 Cent and Kodak Black, who was pardoned by Trump last year. Just last month, Kodak tweeted, “Bring Trump Back.”

Now, as 45 percent of voters say they strongly disapprove of how President Biden is handling the economy, Felecia Killings, the CEO of the Conscious Conservative Movement, sees an opportunity for black conservatives to make their case. She believes they can mount a strong challenge against Stacey Abrams, who recently announced she is running again for governor of Georgia against Republican incumbent Brian Kemp. Killings regularly tweets her support for conservatism to her more than 22,000 followers on Twitter.

“For decades, we’ve watched progressive policies and government overreach destroy our communities and our rising wealth,” said 38-year-old Killings, who was born in California and is now based in Atlanta, Ga. “Today, these same politicians want to abuse our economic opportunities by implementing heavier regulations and taxations. Conservatism promises to keep more economics right in our hands. This is the message we must preach.

“In areas like Atlanta, which is controlled by Democrats, we’re witnessing a lot of turmoil. We only need to read history to understand Democratic/progressive politics do not work. Having a Democrat governor who is to the left will usher in what citizens experience in states like California. As great an activist Stacey is, her politics will stifle growing wealth.”

Kanye West was public in his show of support for the former president. Many black conservatives credit Trump with focusing on issues that matter to the black community.
Kanye West was public in his show of support for the former president. Many black conservatives credit Trump with focusing on issues that matter to the black community.

In a blog post earlier this year, Bradford Traywick, a black conservative engagement strategist based in Washington, D.C., wrote: “We believe in hard work and entrepreneurship, we have a general distrust of government (albeit for important historical reasons), we have historically supported the right (and even the responsibility) to educate our own children how we see fit, and we respect our right to bear arms to defend our families and communities. African Americans have generally wanted what we believe America promises: a fair shake at achieving the American Dream.”

Two of the most significant trends I noticed among conscious black conservatives are their belief in God and their desire to protect their Second Amendment rights. Research shows that 24 percent of African Americans own guns (compared to 36 percent of whites), and gun owners are almost three times more likely to be Republican than Democrat. Meanwhile, almost 50 percent of new gun buyers are women.

Lane, who said she is currently saving money to purchase her own firearm, wants to be one of them.

“I support guns,” Lane told me. “You never know what might happen when you step out the door or who will try to put their hands on you. It is imperative to put your safety into your own hands.”

After Democrat Stacey Abrams announced she is running again for governor of Georgia, "conscious conservative" Felecia Killings said "her politics will stifle growing wealth.”
After Democrat Stacey Abrams announced she is running again for governor of Georgia, “conscious conservative” Felecia Killings said “her politics will stifle growing wealth.”

Black conservatives said it’s tough being a minority within a minority, especially when members of your own community judge you harshly for your views. “I’ve been called a house slave and … told that I was in the sunken place,” said Claude J. Wheeler, Jr., 26, of Sumter, SC, who is the vice president of his chapter of the South Carolina Federation of Republican Men.

But many also say their faith gives them the courage to speak up.

“My responsibility as a Christian is to love people and to spread the truth,” said Lane, who added that she relies on meditation and prayer to keep her grounded while making her case for conservatism.

“I need my sanity to stay in the fight because I know people need to hear the truth.”

GOP Secures Control of Virginia House

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

By Famartin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60743669

Virginia Republicans anxious to see the party’s takeover of the state House of Delegates in the November election affirmed got what they wanted Friday after election officials in the southeastern part of the commonwealth determined Republican Karen Greenhalgh had won the crucial 51st seat. 

Greenleigh led Delegate Alex Askew by 127 votes on Nov. 2 but, as the difference between the two was less than 0.5 percent, the incumbent Democrat availed himself of the option of having the votes recounted at public expense. 

He still lost, election officials determined, but by just 115 votes out of more than 28,000 cast, The Washington Post reported.

“House Republicans are excited to begin working for the people of Virginia,” Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), who has been elected by the GOP caucus to serve as Speaker of the House once the General Assembly session gets underway on Jan. 12, said in a statement. “Now that the majority is official, we can move forward with a timely transition as to be prepared to work on day one.”

Gilbert is expected to work closely with GOP Gov-elect Glenn Youngkin to move the incoming chief executive’s priorities including a repeal of the sales taxes on groceries through the legislature despite the Democrats having a one-vote majority in the Virginia Senate. 

“While this is not the outcome we hoped for, I continue to be filled with optimism for the future of our Commonwealth and of the city of Virginia Beach,” Askew said in a release issued shortly after election officials announced the results. A recount in a second race occurs next week in Hampton, Va., where Republican A.C. Cordoza is ahead of incumbent Democratic Del. Martha M. Mugler by 94 votes out of 27,836 votes cast. If Cordoza is declared the winner, the Republicans will control the House of Delegates, 52-48.

By winning all three statewide constitutional offices in Virginia on Nov. 2 as well as retaking control of the House of Delegates, Virginia Republicans positioned themselves at the forefront of a “Red Wave” that some election observers say foreshadows a rout of Democrats running just about anywhere in America in 2002, leaving the GOP in a position to retake the White House in November 2024.

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