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Will 2022 Midterms Be The Next Great Crisis Backlash?

Will 2022 Midterms Be The Next Great Crisis Backlash?

Authored by Andrew Busch via RealClearPolitics.com,

At least twice in U.S. history, big political shakeups occurred in midterm elections that served as endpoints to periods of crisis,…

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Will 2022 Midterms Be The Next Great Crisis Backlash?

Authored by Andrew Busch via RealClearPolitics.com,

At least twice in U.S. history, big political shakeups occurred in midterm elections that served as endpoints to periods of crisis, privation, and extraordinary government expansion and regimentation.

The first was in November 1918. That election was held in the midst of the Spanish flu pandemic and just days before the armistice was signed ending World War I. The Allied breakthrough in France was well advanced and the handwriting was on the wall for the kaiser’s forces.

Since entering the war in April 1917, Americans had endured extreme regimentation under the auspices of Woodrow Wilson’s “war socialism.” Rationing of consumer items was coupled with unprecedented government control over basic features of economic life, including a federal takeover of the nation’s railroads. These economic controls were combined with stringent political and social controls. With Wilson’s support, Congress passed the Sedition Act and the Espionage Act, clamping down (among other things) on publication or dissemination of arguments critical of the war effort or otherwise detrimental to national morale. Hundreds were imprisoned, including the Socialist Party’s perennial presidential candidate, Eugene Debs, who had urged young men not to comply with the draft. Spurred by war propaganda and encouraged by the administration, some exuberant patriots persecuted German Americans.

Campaigning in 1918 was curtailed due to the Spanish flu, as was turnout on Election Day. Nevertheless, Republicans, including former President Theodore Roosevelt, campaigned vigorously as skeptics of Wilson’s Fourteen Points and critics of his war measures.  Republican candidates around the country demanded the end of wartime controls and regimentation. In 1920, Warren G. Harding would win the presidency on the promise of “A return to normalcy,” but it was Republicans in 1918 who first tested that theme, as they promised “a speedy victory and a return to normal conditions.”

In the end, Republicans gained 25 seats in the House and five in the Senate, enough to give them majorities in both chambers for the first time since 1910. Aided by the end of the war, they used those majorities to force Wilson to release his grip on the economy. In short order, the 66th Congress repealed over 60 wartime laws.          

‘Had Enough?’

A comparable case came at the end of the Second World War. Franklin Roosevelt refrained from some of Wilson’s more extreme steps, such as takeover of the railroads. Nevertheless, FDR copied much of Wilson’s war socialism. The federal government rationed food and a wide range of consumer goods, converting much of the economy to wartime production. Bureaucracies such as the Office of War Mobilization, Office of Price Administration, National War Labor Board, and Supply and Priorities Allocation Board exerted economic control. Civil liberties again suffered, with censorship, internment of Japanese Americans, and Smith Act prosecution of the leaders of the German American Bund. In both world wars (as in the Cold War later), it was a reasonable question how far the Constitution should be stretched to defend the United States against enemies who would destroy constitutional liberty entirely if they could – but there was no question that it was stretched.

Although fighting ended in 1945, President Harry Truman had not yet issued a proclamation formally ending the state of war when the 1946 campaign got underway. Rationing of items such as meat, as well as wage and price controls, remained in place, to the growing anger of Americans on the home front. The war was over, and many asked why they were still subject to these measures.

Republicans, out of power since the early years of the Great Depression, sought to capitalize on the discontent. Using a slogan of “Had Enough?,” they hammered Democrats and the Truman administration for economic privation and for holding on to extraordinary powers even after the crisis had passed. It was time, they implied – though without using the phrase – to return to normalcy. Three weeks before Election Day, Truman decontrolled meat in a bid to stave off electoral disaster; still, at the end of October 1946, he registered a 27% job approval rating in the Gallup Poll.

When the votes came in, Republicans had ended the Democratic hold on Congress. The GOP gained 45 seats in the House and 12 seats in the Senate, winning a majority in each chamber for the first time since 1930. The repudiation was so severe that Sen. William Fulbright of Arkansas suggested that Truman should appoint a Republican secretary of state and then resign, an act that would have made that Republican the next president, given the legal order of presidential succession in 1946 (the office of vice president had been vacant since Truman became president upon FDR’s death). Truman declined to take that step, but in short order, he ended the state of war, rescinded most wartime controls, and disbanded the Office of Price Administration. He also proposed a balanced budget. If some New Dealers had hoped that the wartime expansion of federal power over the economy could be smoothly converted into equivalent peacetime power, 1946 disabused them. 

1918, 1946 – and 2022

The elections of 1918 and 1946 were not identical. One happened while war still raged, though the issue seemed decided; the other did not occur until over a year after fighting had stopped. Republican gains in 1946 were roughly twice what they had been 28 years earlier. In one case (1918), Republicans subsequently held on to congressional majorities for a dozen years; in the other, they managed to do so for only a single term. Nevertheless, 1918 and 1946 share enough with one another, and with our current situation, to make it worthwhile to ask what they might tell us about 2022.

At the least, these two elections represented decisive electoral backlash against crisis policies – policies that voters tolerated while the crisis was hot but turned against when the danger had seemingly passed. Our crisis, a pandemic, is not a war, but it has been costly in lives lost. The U.S. is nearing a COVID death toll twice as great as the number of Americans who died in World War II. Like the world wars, the crisis has also been costly in terms of government spending, the bill for which is coming due in the form of higher inflation. And the crisis has occasioned a forceful intrusion of government into daily life unparalleled since World War II, from mask mandates to proposed vaccine mandates to lockdowns that closed thousands of businesses, churches, and schools. Whatever the efficacy of these measures – they will be debated for years to come – there can be little doubt that they represented an extraordinary degree of regimentation and an extraordinary challenge to civil liberties.

Is a backlash building ahead of the 2022 midterms?

Republican successes in the 2021 elections would seem to suggest so. Some evidence indicates that backlash against COVID restrictions was part of the story behind GOP successes in Virginia and New Jersey. In some Virginia exit polls, education was the second-most important issue; while the battle over critical race theory in schools received the most attention, some suburban women voters said that COVID-related school closures also played an important role in their swing toward Republicans.

In New Jersey, truck driver Edward Durr defeated longtime state Senate President Steve Sweeney. Durr called his victory “a repudiation of the [COVID] policies that have been forced down [the people’s] throats.” Incoming Republican Senate leader Steve Oroho agreed. “I think it had to do with the message coming from people who were just annoyed at all the executive orders and all the mandates and being sick and tired of being told what they can and can’t do,” he said. At the gubernatorial level, a long-shot Republican nearly rode the backlash to victory against incumbent Phil Murphy, whose response to COVID had been one of the nation’s most draconian – and most ineffective, if measured by deaths per 100,000.

In California, Gavin Newsom turned back a recall attempt in September. The recall effort itself was largely driven by dissatisfaction with the governor’s coronavirus response and violation of his own mask mandate at a private dinner for lobbyists at the swanky French Laundry restaurant. Though Newsom held on to his office by a wide margin, recall organizers’ success in getting 1.7 million valid signatures on petitions in the Golden State was itself evidence of public anger, as was Newsom’s perilous standing in polls a month before recall Election Day.

More generally in the realm of public opinion, Gallup has reported that sentiment on the question of whether government should be more active or less – a question that a majority answered in favor of more action in 2020 – has reverted to form. Government, a majority now says, is too big and does too much.

Not all evidence points the same way, though. Newsom and Murphy ultimately won, and exit polls showed a Virginia electorate ambivalent about the COVID response, not one that had turned decisively against the COVID regime. For example, most Virginians still said they supported mask mandates in schools, and a slight plurality said that they trusted Terry McAuliffe more than Glen Youngkin on COVID policy. At most, 2021 exposed the potential for a stronger backlash ahead.  Perhaps the biggest difference between 1918 and 1946, on the one hand, and 2021, on the other, was that in 2021 the crisis was still not in the rearview mirror. If and when it finally gets there, watch out.

Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 19:40

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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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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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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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