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The Progressive Logic Of ‘Build Back Better’… And Its Dangers

The Progressive Logic Of ‘Build Back Better’… And Its Dangers

Authored by Charles Lipson via RealClearPolitics.com,

“Build Back Better” is far more consequential than the earlier COVID relief packages. That’s why Democrats are so…

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The Progressive Logic Of 'Build Back Better'... And Its Dangers

Authored by Charles Lipson via RealClearPolitics.com,

“Build Back Better” is far more consequential than the earlier COVID relief packages. That’s why Democrats are so angry at those who blocked its passage and so determined to push it forward.

Why is BBB more important than the COVID legislation? Because pandemic relief was essentially a massive stimulus program, with the usual smorgasbord of treats for favored groups, but little more than that. Although BBB is also a massive stimulus, its real importance lies in the permanent entitlement programs it would launch, everything from universal pre-K and Medicare expansion to mandated paid leave from private employers.

Those are major building blocks in the Democrats’ long-term plan to construct a full-fledged social-welfare state along European lines. Achieving that ambitious, transformational goal — while making irreversible changes in how America governs itself — is why the party is fighting so hard and why the left is so furious about the Senate stalemate, personified by West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, a Democrat who refuses to go along, either to pass the bill or eliminate the filibuster to pass President Biden’s non-budget initiatives.

Enacting these massive, new entitlements is one reason the House bill is rightly called “progressive.” The second, equally important reason is that nearly all Democrats, except Manchin and his Arizona colleague Kyrsten Sinema, are willing to break the Senate’s longstanding rules and procedures to achieve their desired outcome. This determination to override traditional governing procedures and the institutions that embody them has been a hallmark of capital-P Progressivism since Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette came roaring into the Senate in 1906.

By 1912, Theodore Roosevelt was running for president as the Progressive Party nominee. Woodrow Wilson, the man who gained the Oval Office by TR’s third-party candidacy, had embraced progressivism while a professor (and later college president) at Princeton. Wilson and progressive public intellectuals such as Herbert Croly explained their rationale far more candidly than their political descendants do. The Constitution, they rightly noted, encumbered our national government with its enumerated powers, decentralized federalism, multiple veto points for any new policies, and strong protections for private property, contracts, and minority-party rights. Progressives argued that those restraints may have been fine for the 18th and 19th centuries but not for the 20th, which needed a far more active state.

Although 21st century progressives are uncomfortably standing in Woodrow Wilson’s shadow on account of his racial policies, their basic contention is the same: The “old” Constitution is outmoded. Its restrictions stand in the way of a more powerful, activist, centralized government.

Creating that government is what progressive legal scholars mean when they advocate for  a “living Constitution,” which achieves desired outcomes by ignoring restraints in the “old Constitution.” They have largely succeeded. Progressives have gradually remodeled America’s government, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. During FDR’s first term in the White House, the Supreme Court ruled that most of those programs violated the Constitution. Roosevelt found that intolerable and on the heels of his 1936 landslide reelection, threatened to expand the court and pack it with pro-New Deal justices. The blowback caused FDR to retreat, but the mere threat helped achieved his desired results. Sitting justices began approving his programs or retiring, replaced by FDR’s nominees. It proved to be an inflection point for the high court and for American government. Since then, the Supreme Court has successively loosened the old Constitutional restrictions and approved major accretions to centralized power, much of it located in Washington bureaucracies. Whether the current court, with its conservative majority, will continue to do so is one reason nominations are now so hotly contested. The fight is over fundamental issues.

Washington’s centralized power, substantially engorged by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, is how America is governed today, less by statutes and more by executive diktat and bureaucratic rules, which are enforced and adjudicated mainly by the very agencies that promulgate them. Congress now sees its role mainly as overseeing those agencies. It’s not very good at it.

This centralized administrative state with its expansive powers is why Washington bureaucracies presume they have the authority to require private businesses with over 100 employees to fire workers who refuse COVID vaccinations. It is why the Department of Education can demand private universities comply with a vast range of federal rules and regulations if any of their students or faculty receive federal loans or grants (as all universities do, except Hillsdale). It is why Washington bureaucrats can tell K-12 schools what kind of lunches to serve, a task once handled solely by local school boards and seized from them without any congressional debate.

Washington money means Washington rules. Those regulations go well beyond statutory laws or constitutional protections against discrimination. They have suppressed the Constitution’s basic federal structure and gradually erased the line between “public” and “private” enterprises. This web of centralized control and bureaucratic rules has “progressively” usurped control over most aspects of American public and private life, making civil society subordinate to the administrative state.

Expanding this centralized state and endowing it with still more cradle-to-grave programs is the main aim of Build Back Better. Achieving that won’t be easy because the Democrats didn’t run on that platform and didn’t win enough votes to enact it. Joe Biden won mainly because he wasn’t Donald Trump, because he promised to return the country to normality after four turbulent years and outlined a vague center-left agenda to do it.

Those promises went out the window after Biden took office. The window opened wider when Democrats captured Georgia’s two Senate seats in runoff elections. Those victories in early January cost the Republicans control of the upper chamber. Since Democrats already controlled the House, just barely, they now held both branches of Congress, as well as the White House. Only the Supreme Court was beyond their grasp, and they are threatening to take it, too, by going where even Franklin Roosevelt dared not tread. Nonetheless, the Georgia victories gave the incoming Biden team an opportunity, and they seized it. They opted, in their words, to “fundamentally transform America.” What they failed to acknowledge was that Biden was in a far weaker position to do that than Roosevelt in 1936 or Johnson in 1964. Those presidents carried overwhelming majorities into the White House and Congress. Biden did not. His position was weak at the beginning and has gone downhill ever since.

It’s not surprising, then, that the White House has such trouble passing Build Back Better. What’s seems odd is that Biden has refused to change course. He is still hellbent on passing an ambitious, left-wing agenda. The budgetary elements can pass the Senate with a simple majority under budget reconciliation rules. But that requires the support of all 50 Democrats since Republicans are united in opposition. Vice President Kamala Harris could then break the 50-50 tie and pass the gargantuan bill.

But Joe Manchin has proved an immovable object, objecting to the legislation’s accounting tricks, the massive deficit it creates, and the fuel it pours onto an overheated economy. Since Biden won less than 30% of the West Virginia vote while losing every single county in the state, he has no leverage over the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation.

Budget reconciliation rules don’t cover all of Biden’s proposals. These additional proposals could be blocked by filibuster, unless the filibuster itself were eliminated. That could be done by a simple majority vote, but it would fundamentally change the Senate by ending its traditional protections for the minority party. That’s why then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused President Trump’s demand to do it. That’s why Democratic Sens. Manchin and Sinema refuse to change the rules now, despite pressure from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The debate over the filibuster rule has received a lot of attention, and properly so. So has the flip-flop by Democrats who stoutly defended the rule when they were in the minority. But the real issue here is not Schumer’s blatant hypocrisy. The deeper issue — one that has largely been missed — is how the effort to overturn Senate rules and pass BBB fits so neatly into the larger sweep of progressive politics. That’s not just because Democrats want to permanently expand the social-welfare state and “fundamentally transform America.” It’s also because they are willing to smash venerable institutions and procedural safeguards to do it. The same logic applies to their effort to nationalize election laws. That, too, is probably doomed because of the filibuster. If it did pass, it’s also likely that the Supreme Court would strike it down because the Constitution specifically delegates election lawmaking to state legislatures, with national courts stepping in only to protect individual rights.

The latest initiatives by Biden, Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi may fail, but they won’t be the progressives’ last hurrah. They’ve been winning for over eight decades and came within two Senate votes of winning this time. They’ll keep trying until voters send them a clear message that the administrative state is already too big, too intrusive, too far removed from control by citizens’ elected representatives. Its continued growth and unchecked power threatens our oldest institutions, our freedoms, and our liberty under law. The voters’ message must be unambiguous: Stop trying to fundamentally transform America. We never asked for it, we don’t want it, and we never gave you permission.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/12/2022 - 19:00

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Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion

The EasyJet share price shed over 3% today to give up a chunk of…
The post Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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The EasyJet share price shed over 3% today to give up a chunk of the gains the budget airline had made earlier in the week. The new slide came after it announced a £213 loss for the last quarter of the year covering the Christmas period, taking losses for the Covid-19 pandemic period to £2.2 billion. The airline also told investors it is still burning through £150 million in cash every month as it struggles to build capacity back up.

The short-haul airline that makes most of its income shuttling holidaymakers and business travellers around Europe said it is still only operating at around half of its pre-pandemic capacity. However, it is hopeful that pent-up demand and an end to travel restrictions mean it will return to pre-pandemic levels by summer and enjoy much brisker trade than of late over the Easter and spring period.

easy jet plc

But before then the airline company will again have to absorb deep losses over the current quarter, which is traditionally its weakest of the year. Even a strong summer period, think most analysts, will be insufficient to see the company return to profit this year. EasyJet’s value is still less than half of what it was in February 2020 before the coronavirus-induced market sell-off that hit later that month and saw markets dive into March before starting to recover. The share prices of rival budget airlines Ryanair and WizzAir have recovered much more strongly in comparison to EasyJet’s and are now close to their pre-pandemic levels. There have been concerns around whether EasyJet could survive the pandemic but investors contributed £1.2 billion last autumn to bolster its balance sheet.

The EasyJet share price is closing the week at around £6.15 compared to over £15 before the pandemic. However, there is now hope the worst may be behind the airline and it can begin its, potentially long, journey back to health. Chief executive John Lundgren attempted to soften the announcement of another hefty loss with a bullish statement on where things go from here for his company:

“Booking volumes jumped in the UK following the welcome reduction of travel restrictions announced on January 5, which have been sustained and given a further boost from the UK government’s decision this week to remove all testing requirements.”

“We believe testing for travel across our network should soon become a thing of the past. We see a strong summer ahead, with pent-up demand that will see easyJet returning to near-2019 levels of capacity, with UK beach and leisure routes performing particularly well.”

For now, however, forward guidance for the immediate quarter remains cautious with the company admitting it has fallen short of its expectations to be at 80% capacity by this quarter, sitting at just 67%. However, with most analysts confident the company will eventually return to strength, and profit in the 2022-23 financial year, EasyJet shares could offer a good buying opportunity at current levels.

The post Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwal

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Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwald, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers.”

- Rod Serling, Deaths-Head Revisited

In the politically charged, polarizing tug-of-war that is the debate over COVID-19, we find ourselves buffeted by fear over a viral pandemic that continues to wreak havoc with lives and the economy, threats of vaccine mandates and financial penalties for noncompliance, and discord over how to legislate the public good without sacrificing individual liberty.

The discord is getting more discordant by the day.

Just recently, for instance, the Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board suggested that government officials should mandate mass vaccinations and deploy the National Guard “to ensure that people without proof of vaccination would not be allowed, well, anywhere.”

In other words, lock up the unvaccinated and use the military to determine who gets to be “free.”

These tactics have been used before.

This is why significant numbers of people are worried: because this is the slippery slope that starts with well-meaning intentions for the greater good and ends with tyrannical abuses no one should tolerate.

For a glimpse at what the future might look like if such a policy were to be enforced, look beyond America’s borders.

In Italy, the unvaccinated are banned from restaurants, bars and public transportation, and could face suspensions from work and monthly fines. Similarly, France will ban the unvaccinated from most public venues.

In Austria, anyone who has not complied with the vaccine mandate could face fines up to $4100. Police will be authorized to carry out routine checks and demand proof of vaccination, with penalties of as much as $685 for failure to do so.

In China, which has adopted a zero tolerance, “zero COVID” strategy, whole cities—some with populations in the tens of millions—are being forced into home lockdowns for weeks on end, resulting in mass shortages of food and household supplies. Reports have surfaced of residents “trading cigarettes for cabbage, dishwashing liquid for apples and sanitary pads for a small pile of vegetables. One resident traded a Nintendo Switch console for a packet of instant noodles and two steamed buns.”

For those unfortunate enough to contract COVID-19, China has constructed “quarantine camps” throughout the country: massive complexes boasting thousands of small, metal boxes containing little more than a bed and a toilet. Detainees—including children, pregnant women and the elderly— were reportedly ordered to leave their homes in the middle of the night, transported to the quarantine camps in buses and held in isolation.

If this last scenario sounds chillingly familiar, it should.

Eighty years ago, another authoritarian regime established more than 44,000 quarantine camps for those perceived as “enemies of the state”: racially inferior, politically unacceptable or simply noncompliant.

While the majority of those imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps, forced labor camps, incarceration sites and ghettos were Jews, there were also Polish nationals, gypsies, Russians, political dissidents, resistance fighters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

Culturally, we have become so fixated on the mass murders of Jewish prisoners by the Nazis that we overlook the fact that the purpose of these concentration camps were initially intended to “incarcerate and intimidate the leaders of political, social, and cultural movements that the Nazis perceived to be a threat to the survival of the regime.”

As the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum explains:

“Most prisoners in the early concentration camps were political prisoners—German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats—as well as Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of ‘asocial’ or socially deviant behavior. Many of these sites were called concentration camps. The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy.”

How do you get from there to here, from Auschwitz concentration camps to COVID quarantine centers?

Connect the dots.

You don’t have to be unvaccinated or a conspiracy theorist or even anti-government to be worried about what lies ahead. You just have to recognize the truth in the warning: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This is not about COVID-19. Nor is it about politics, populist movements, or any particular country.

This is about what happens when good, generally decent people—distracted by manufactured crises, polarizing politics, and fighting that divides the populace into warring “us vs. them” camps—fail to take note of the looming danger that threatens to wipe freedom from the map and place us all in chains.

It’s about what happens when any government is empowered to adopt a comply-or-suffer-the-consequences mindset that is enforced through mandates, lockdowns, penalties, detention centers, martial law, and a disregard for the rights of the individual.

The slippery slope begins in just this way, with propaganda campaigns about the public good being more important than individual liberty, and it ends with lockdowns and concentration camps.

The danger signs are everywhere.

Claudio Ronco, a 66-year-old Orthodox Jew and a specialist in 18th-century music, recognizes the signs. Because of his decision to remain unvaccinated, Ronco is trapped inside his house, unable to move about in public without a digital vaccination card. He can no longer board a plane, check into a hotel, eat at a restaurant or get a coffee at a bar. He has been ostracized by friends, shut out of public life, and will soon face monthly fines for insisting on his right to bodily integrity and individual freedom.

For all intents and purposes, Ronco has become an undesirable in the eyes of the government, forced into isolation so he doesn’t risk contaminating the rest of the populace.

This is the slippery slope: a government empowered to restrict movements, limit individual liberty, and isolate “undesirables” to prevent the spread of a disease is a government that has the power to lockdown a country, label whole segments of the population a danger to national security, and force those undesirables—a.k.a. extremists, dissidents, troublemakers, etc.—into isolation so they don’t contaminate the rest of the populace.

The world has been down this road before, too.

Others have ignored the warning signs. We cannot afford to do so.

As historian Milton Mayer recounts in his seminal book on Hitler’s rise to power, They Thought They Were Free:

“Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people‑—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the 'national enemies', without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.”

The German people chose to ignore the truth and believe the lie.

They were not oblivious to the horrors taking place around them. As historian Robert Gellately points out, “[A]nyone in Nazi Germany who wanted to find out about the Gestapo, the concentration camps, and the campaigns of discrimination and persecutions need only read the newspapers.”

The warning signs were there, blinking incessantly like large neon signs.

“Still,” Gellately writes, “the vast majority voted in favor of Nazism, and in spite of what they could read in the press and hear by word of mouth about the secret police, the concentration camps, official anti-Semitism, and so on. . . . [T]here is no getting away from the fact that at that moment, ‘the vast majority of the German people backed him.’”

Half a century later, the wife of a prominent German historian, neither of whom were members of the Nazi party, opined: “[O]n the whole, everyone felt well. . . . And there were certainly eighty percent who lived productively and positively throughout the time. . . . We also had good years. We had wonderful years.”

In other words, as long as their creature comforts remained undiminished, as long as their bank accounts remained flush, as long as they weren’t being locked up, locked down, discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed or killed, life was good.

Life is good in America, too, as long as you’re able to keep cocooning yourself in political fantasies that depict a world in which your party is always right and everyone else is wrong, while distracting yourself with bread-and-circus entertainment that bears no resemblance to reality.

Indeed, life in America may be good for the privileged few who aren’t being locked up, locked down, discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed or killed, but it’s getting worse by the day for the rest of us.

Which brings me back to the present crisis: COVID-19 is not the Holocaust, and those who advocate vaccine mandates, lockdowns and quarantine camps are not Hitler, but this still has the makings of a slippery slope.

The means do not justify the ends: we must find other ways of fighting a pandemic without resorting to mandates and lockdowns and concentration camps. To do otherwise is to lay the groundwork for another authoritarian monster to rise up and wreak havoc.

If we do not want to repeat the past, then we must learn from past mistakes.

January 27 marks Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a day for remembering those who died at the hands of Hitler’s henchmen and those who survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.

Yet remembering is not enough. We can do better. We must do better.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the world is teetering on the edge of authoritarian madness.

All it will take is one solid push for tyranny to prevail.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/28/2022 - 23:40

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Government

Xi Jinping Seeking “Global Domination”: Mike Pompeo

Xi Jinping Seeking "Global Domination": Mike Pompeo

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times,

Mike Pompeo said Chinese leader Xi Jinping wants “global domination—hegemony for the Chinese Communist Party,” warning that the…

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Xi Jinping Seeking "Global Domination": Mike Pompeo

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times,

Mike Pompeo said Chinese leader Xi Jinping wants “global domination—hegemony for the Chinese Communist Party,” warning that the rise of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could destroy the rules-based international order in place since the end of World War II.

“It’s not about putting a Chinese tank division in Taiwan. It’s about accreting political power and influence throughout the world,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo, who served first as CIA director and later as Secretary of State under President Donald Trump, made the statement in an appearance at the Argus Americas Crude Summit 2022.

He said his tenure as CIA director came at a time when U.S. attention had to shift from terrorism to other threats, foremost among them the CCP.

He added that a “global awakening” is taking place about what he sees as the ambitions of the CCP.

“Most of the credit goes to Xi Jinping. He foisted a virus on the world, for goodness’ sake, and refuses to let anybody go figure out where it came from,” Pompeo said.

The CCP has met with international criticism for blocking access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and related facilities in Wuhan by the United Nations. Many scientists and journalists suspect the CCP virus that causes COVID-19 originated at the WIV.

Pompeo also commented on ongoing trade-related conflict between the United States and China, raising questions about the United States’ initial decision to open up to China in the context of its primary Cold War conflict with China’s then-rival, the Soviet Union.

“The trade war began maybe in 1972,” he said, referring to Henry Kissinger and President Richard Nixon’s visit to the People’s Republic of China in the context of restoring diplomatic ties.

“Maybe it was the right thing to do in 1972—but the trade war long predates the Trump administration.”

“We encouraged business together. I don’t fault the businesses who went there. Notice the past tense of this. America’s policy encouraged connectivity with the Chinese Communist Party. Today, that is an enormous liability for the world, and Xi Jinping knows that,” Pompeo said.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/28/2022 - 23:00

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