Friday, July 01, 2022

Poll: After Supreme Court overturns Roe, Republicans still lead Democrats in Congressional generic ballot 45 percent to 40 percent

By Robert Romano

Sometimes the fear of the thing is worse than the thing itself. That is a conclusion one might draw from the latest Economist-YouGov poll that shows Republicans still leading Democrats in the Congressional generic ballot 45 percent to 40 percent despite a Republican president-appointed Supreme Court majority overturning the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade and returning abortion law to the states.

The news comes amid a frantic push by President Joe Biden and Democrats to nationalize the question for the election by proposing epitomizing Roe in federal law, and somehow changing the subject away from the economy, the supply chain crisis, energy and food shortages and inflation for the November midterms. How’s that working out?

So far, not so much.

With 8.6 percent consumer inflation and a looming recession, 19 percent of Americans say jobs and economy is the top issue in the election, and another 9 percent say inflation. Only 7 percent said abortion was the top issue, even though abortion was leading every single news headline when the poll was conducted and President Biden was on television saying “The only way we can secure a woman’s right to choose and the balance that existed is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law.”

It was such an urgent matter that almost nothing has changed in the Congressional race — yet.

But even on the issue of abortion itself, the public is far more divided on the outcome and reality of the decision that leaves abortion to the states.

Specifically, when asked “Should abortion laws be decided nationally or left to the states?” a similar percent, 45 percent, say it should be left to the states, and only 40 percent it should be decided nationally, presumably by Congress.

That includes 22 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and 69 percent of Republicans, who all agree abortion laws should be decided at the state level.

This clearly creates an opening for Congressional Republicans to unapologetically defend the decision who might otherwise have similarly worried what the political fallout of a decision overturning Roe might be. And all they have to do is simply educate voters on what is actually in the Supreme Court’s decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The ruling neither prohibits nor legalizes abortion, it simply states the matter is up to the states and that otherwise Roe was wrongly decided. That means there will be 50 different sets of laws, and every situation in each state will be unique, reflecting the political preference of those who reside there. It’s federalism in action.

Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t limits politically to what can be accomplished on this issue, depending on where you live, but it also might mean that once voters realize their own state’s laws differ vastly from other states, it could be like ice cold water being poured on the issue.

For example, why should a voter in New York care what Mississippi’s abortion law is, really? Some will care for sure, the 40 percent that want abortion law nationalized, one way or another, but by and large, attention will surely shift to state governor and legislature races where the question matters more now.

And then you have the optics of members of Congress like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) demanding that federal lands be opened to abortion clinics, but not more oil and gas drilling in the middle of a global energy supply crunch. The campaign commercials almost write themselves.

In the meantime, Congressional Republicans running will just say, “We’re leaving it up the states,” and then otherwise note the critical importance of boosting American production of food and energy in order to address the supply and inflation crisis.

There’s still a lot of time, however, for public attitudes to set in after Roe. But so far, it looks like not much has changed politically as a result. Stay tuned


Thomas Fires Warning Shot at Media, Organizations That Lie About Conservatives

President Joe Biden and his liberal compatriots in politics, the media, and social media constantly are crowing about “misinformation.” Although the type of censorship they seem to support is not the answer, reconsideration of the legal standard governing defamation, as Justice Clarence Thomas has urged, might be.

The Supreme Court denied certiorari Monday in the case of Coral Ridge Ministries Media v. Southern Poverty Law Center. In his dissent from the high court’s refusal to accept the appeal, Thomas once again urges fellow justices to reconsider the double standard for defamation that the court established in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964. Thomas first did so in a longer dissent in 2021 in another case the court refused to hear, Berisha v. Lawson.

Coral Ridge Ministries, as Thomas explains, is a “Christian nonprofit dedicated to spreading the ‘Gospel of Jesus Christ’ and ‘a biblically informed view of the world.’” In 2017, Amazon told Coral Ridge Ministries that it was ineligible for Amazon’s nonprofit donation program because it had been labeled as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The ministry sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for defaming the organization, saying that although Coral Ridge “opposed homosexual conduct” due to its Christian beliefs, it is not a “hate group.” The ministry said it “has nothing but love for people who engage in homosexual conduct” and “has never attacked or maligned anyone on the basis of engaging in homosexual conduct.”

The defamation case was dismissed by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because Coral Ridge Ministries is considered a “public figure” and could not prove that the Southern Poverty Law Center had acted with “actual malice” under the New York Times v. Sullivan standard when it made the “hate crime” claim about the ministry.

The “actual malice” standard is the issue that Thomas is complaining about.

In New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court suddenly created a new legal standard that never existed before in defamation law, which had been governed by state law since our founding, claiming this new standard was required by the Constitution.

Does this sound familiar? According to the court, two legal standards govern defamation lawsuits: one for those considered “private” figures or individuals and another, stricter standard for so-called public figures.

If you are a private figure and The New York Times or the Southern Poverty Law Center publishes a lie about you, you simply have to prove that the statement was false and harmed your reputation. The fact that the publisher didn’t know or care that the statement was false is irrelevant.

But if you are a “public figure,” you not only have to prove that the statement was false and harmed your reputation, but that the statement was made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

And the definition of who is a public figure constantly has expanded since 1964.

As Justice Neal Gorsuch explained in his own dissent from the denial of a writ of certiorari in the Berisha case, in which he joined Thomas in urging the court to reconsider the legal standard in libel and defamation cases, at first “public figures” meant only government officials.

Then, the definition was expanded to “public figures” outside government, then to those who have achieved “pervasive fame or notoriety,” and then to “limited” public figures “who voluntarily inject” themselves or are “drawn into a particular public controversy.”

Today, this definition of “public figure” is so expansive that the only issue is who it doesn’t cover.

As Thomas correctly observes in his most recent dissent, this double standard has no basis in “the text, history, or structure of the Constitution.” The decision in New York Times v. Sullivan “and the court’s [other] decisions extending it were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law.”

And what has been the result? According to Thomas, and to anyone who has been paying attention to the outrageous lies and misrepresentations—especially about conservatives—that we see regularly on CNN, MSNBC, and other far-left media organizations, some persons and media outlets can “cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.”

In the case of Coral Ridge Ministries, the Southern Poverty Law Center “lumped” in the Christian organization with real hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, Thomas writes. SPLC put the ministry on “an interactive, online ‘Hate Map’ and caused Coral Ridge concrete financial injury by excluding them from the AmazonSmile donation program.”

Under the actual malice standard “this court has imposed,” Thomas writes, “Coral Ridge could not hold SPLC to account for what it maintains is a blatant falsehood.”

Even the supposed logic behind the Supreme Court’s creation of this standard fails. As Thomas explains, the court “provides scant explanation for the decision to erect a new hurdle for public-figure plaintiffs so long after the First Amendment’s ratification.”

One explanation was that false claims against private individuals are more serious than those against public figures, who are fair targets because they “invite attention and comment.” But as Thomas says, the “common law deemed libels against public figures to be … more serious and injurious than ordinary libels.”

Also, Thomas writes, it “is unclear why exposing oneself to an increased risk of becoming a victim [as a public figure] necessarily means forfeiting the remedies legislatures put in place for such victims.”

Thomas and Gorsuch make strong argument about the fundamental unfairness of the “actual malice” standard and the fact that there is no basis for it in the Constitution or our legal history. As Gorsuch wrote in his Berisha dissent:

[O]ver time the actual malice standard has evolved from a high bar to recovery into an effective immunity from liability. … The bottom line? It seems that publishing without investigation, fact-checking, or editing has become the optimal legal strategy. Under the actual malice regime as it has evolved, ‘ignorance is bliss.’

No wonder so many Americans distrust what they hear in the “news.” The public knows that the media can get away with printing or saying just about anything they want, no matter how false or malicious.


The world is facing its day of inflationary reckoning

Double-digit price inflation is here. Anyone paying attention to fiscal and monetary policy knew this would happen sooner or later. The Federal Reserve’s recent 0.75 basis points hike in the federal funds’ interest rate won’t be enough to stem an inflationary avalanche that reckless politicians with zero knowledge of history and of other countries’ experiences have been setting in motion for years.

For part of the 20th century, John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman constituted opposing paradigms of economic policy. For Keynes government spending was crucial to stimulate demand for goods and services in slack times; monetary policy as a stimulating agent had limitations. Friedman, meanwhile, was critical of government spending, but favored monetary policy: in times of recession, monetary stimulus was necessary lest the slump becomes a depression.

The irony of the last 14 years, that is, since the financial crisis of 2008, is that governments everywhere resorted simultaneously to Keynesian and Friedmanian policies: massive government spending and the “printing” of money to prevent a depression.

The unprecedented degree of these interventions was bound to cause grave harm. All it would take was for people to feel more confident about requesting and extending credit and spending money. Then all that stimulus would generate an excess of demand vis-à-vis a supply of goods and services that would not be able to keep up. If on top of this, certain factors were to further limit the capacity to produce enough goods to satisfy demand (a pandemic, a war), the effect would be that much more acute.

Welcome to the new reality. A simple look at U.S. debt tells the story. Total government and household debt is more than $90 trillion, more than four times what the economy produces each year. The last two years saw a $6 trillion COVID-19-related budget deficit that took federal expenditures to the equivalent of 30.5 percent of GDP, more than 5 percentage points above 2008, the year the financial crisis triggered a wave of massive government bailouts. And this doesn’t account for the fiscal stimulus. Between 2008 and 2020 the money supply almost doubled, and these past two years alone it rose by 46 percent!

Where is the inflation, many “experts” mockingly asked in the years after the financial crisis, when fiscal and monetary stimulus (Keynes and Friedman) failed to produce the price rises simpletons like us were predicting? In the absence of vigorous consumer credit and spending, the new money was inflating the price of various assets. By 2021 home equity in the United States was a whopping $14.2 trillion according to one study, even though wages had gone up very little. Eventually, inflation would spill onto producer and consumer prices. And here we are, with the Fed desperately raising the federal funds rate to try to stem inflation that is now the world’s greatest economic concern.

We ain’t seen nothing yet. In other parts of the developed world, a sovereign debt crisis is brewing again, as in 2012. Interest rates on government debt in highly indebted countries such as Spain and Italy have tripled quickly as the European Central Bank has signaled that it too is ready to stem inflation by rising rates. But now the central bank faces a dilemma: Does it continue to raise rates and send Spain, Italy, and others into default territory, or does it go slow and risk fueling inflation even more? For the moment it is trying to square the circle, saying it will continue to raise rates and at the same time buy more sovereign debt from the highly indebted countries. Soon the bank will realize the grotesque contradiction — and will pay the consequences. How long until the more financially sound northern Europeans, finding themselves subsidizing the southerners, begin to question the euro once again?

This is not the place to address the social and political consequences that will flow from the new inflationary era — and its corollary, a major recession, which is already in the air. (According to one estimate, retail spending has shrunk by 15 percent on an annual basis.) But those consequences will be humongous. The chickens have finally come home to roost.


Australia: Leftist fear campaigns are having an effect

In news that won’t necessarily come as a surprise, a recent poll by the Lowy Institute claims that nearly half of all Australians feel unsafe or insecure; only 53 per cent of us feel ‘safe’ or ‘very safe’. This is in stark contrast to back in the period from 2005-10 when nearly everyone, well around 90 per cent of us at least, felt safe most or all the time. So what’s happened? Back then we were in the midst of the era of Isis and global Islamist terrorism; the London bus bombings, the Mumbai train bombings, etc. Are we really in a far more dangerous world now than we were then?

To some extent, yes. Ukraine, Russia and the increasing belligerence of China are all reasons for feeling uneasy.

But could a large part of the modern malaise and insecurity be due to the relentless campaign by the Left to terrify our young people and frighten the bejesus out of the most vulnerable and innocent in our society? Could it be because the neo-Marxists who run our education system have spent the last two decades terrifying our children witless about some imaginary climate change armageddon and terrifying them that their life is not worth living if they use the wrong pronoun? Could it be because our pusillanimous politicians have refused to fire a single shot in the culture wars being relentlessly waged on us, on our families and on our once-proud Aussie way of life? Could it be that our health bodies treated a virus not much worse than a cold as the scariest thing since the Spanish Flu?

That would certainly account for the feeling of being ‘unsafe’ amongst the young. When you’ve had it drummed into you from your earliest years via books, movies and the TV that we are heading towards a global inferno and an uninhabitable planet thanks to mankind’s use of energy, no wonder you don’t feel safe. Indeed, fear and anxiety are the key emotions associated with climate change activism.

It was Saul Alinsky, the neo-Marxist who penned the Rules for Radicals and who figured out that the best way to destroy capitalism and Western society was to erode and dismantle it from within, who wrote: ‘The organiser must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community, fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression.’ Then when ‘the despair is there; now it is up to us to go in and rub raw the sores of discontent, galvanise them for radical social change.’

The common misconception is that it is conservatives who are fighting the culture wars and it is conservatives who are obsessed with identity politics. The truth, as is so often the case these days, is the complete reverse. It is the radical Left – willingly aided and abetted by the soft Left – that is relentless and unforgiving in its quest to destroy our traditional family values and established institutions by attacking simultaneously every belief or opinion that was once considered common sense. These individuals have already inflicted massive and possibly irreversible damage on our institutions of learning, have torn down from every angle the intellectual and legal privileges bestowed upon us by the Enlightenment and wish to obliterate altogether the material health, wealth and prosperity bestowed upon us by industrialisation and our bountiful energy resources. No wonder people are scared.

Meanwhile, in pathetically small numbers and with virtually no significant institutions on their side, conservatives are fighting to preserve what they can of our dynamic and exceptional civilisation and traditional values as our kids sink into a swamp of racial tension, anger, fear, loathing, racial shame and guilt.

Most people don’t join the dots, but join them they should. The lack of education, the extreme climate alarmism, the pernicious racial division of indigenous activism, the elevation of feelings over facts and rational debate, the irrational hatred of normal working activities, the craven modern mainstream media and its warped sense of priorities, the lenient judicial system and even the hopeless ‘moral equivalence’ that infests most of our religious institutions could easily be overcome. The Achilles heel in the Alinsky approach is that all of these institutions that are so effortlessly swayed to the Left are, on the whole, publicly funded. It is the hard-working, non-woke taxpayer who finances the woke revolution through grants, public education jobs and government bureaucracies.

The only way we will reverse this steady decline is when we have a conservative political leadership prepared to turn off the cash taps that are funding those outfits seeking to tear down our traditional values, beliefs and Judeo-Christian way of life.




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