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Joel B. Pollak

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A new poll commissioned by the libertarian Cato Institute and released on Wednesday suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans are afraid to share their political views.

According to the poll, 62% of Americans — and 77% of Republicans — are afraid to share their views. Even a majority of Democrats (52%) report that they are afraid to share their views.

The only group that feels they are free to share their views are “staunch liberals,” 58% of whom say they can do so.

Cato’s Emily Ekins writes:

A new Cato national survey finds that self‐​censorship is on the rise in the United States. Nearly two-thirds—62%—of Americans say the political climate these days prevents them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive. The share of Americans who self‐​censor has risen several points since 2017 when 58% of Americans agreed with this statement.

Strong liberals stand out, however, as the only political group who feel they can express themselves. Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) of staunch liberals feel they can say what they believe. However, centrist liberals feel differently. A slim majority (52%) of liberals feel they have to self‐​censor, as do 64% of moderates, and 77% of conservatives. This demonstrates that political expression is an issue that divides the Democratic coalition between centrist Democrats and their left flank.

What’s changed? In 2017 most centrist liberals felt confident (54%) they could express their views. However today, slightly less than half (48%) feel the same. The share who feel they cannot be open increased 7 points from 45% in 2017 to 52% today. In fact, there have been shifts across the board, where more people among all political groups feel they are walking on eggshells.

Nearly a third (32%) of employed Americans say they personally are worried about missing out on career opportunities or losing their job if their political opinions became known.

The poll was conducted July 1-6 among 2,000 American adults, with a 2.36% margin of error at a 95% confidence level.

President Donald Trump addressed fears of the “cancel culture” in his July 3 speech at Mount Rushmore.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Poll: Nearly Two-thirds of Americans Fear Sharing Their Political Views

The mainstream media journalists assembled in Wilmington, Delaware, for Joe Biden’s first press conference in nearly three months failed to ask him about new evidence that he played a greater role in the investigation of Michael Flynn than he has admitted.

Last week, notes from FBI agent Peter Strzok were released that suggested it was Biden who proposed investigating Flynn under the Logan Act, which led to his prosecution, which is now widely regarded as unjust.

Last week, the D.C. Circuit issued a writ of mandamus directing a lower court to drop the case against Flynn, after a Department of Justice investigation revealed that the prosecutors had withheld exculpatory evidence from Flynn’s defense lawyers.

In 2017, the outgoing Obama administration sought to investigate Flynn to establish a basis for the claim that President-elect Donald Trump had colluded with Russia. But the FBI did not find that he had done anything wrong.

So the Department of Justice investigated him for violating the Logan Act, an archaic law that prevents private citizens from conducting diplomacy, and which has never been successfully prosecuted.

Under that pretext, FBI agents visited Flynn — then the new National Security Adviser — in the White House, without letting Flynn himself know that he was being investigated.

He was later charged with lying to them about his conversations with the Russian ambassador prior to assuming his duties — even though the FBI agents who interviewed him said at the time they did not thing he had lied.

Biden was known to be present at an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 5, 2017, at which the Flynn investigation was discussed. The Strzok notes document a meeting on Jan. 4, 2017, at which Biden mentioned the Logan Act.

Jan. 4 was also the day that Strzok reversed a decision by the FBI to drop its investigation of Flynn, telling colleagues that senior FBI leadership wanted it to continue.

In May, Biden told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he did not know about the investigation, other than that “they” had asked to it.

The Strzok notes suggest otherwise.

But none of the journalists asked Biden about his role in potentially undermining the administration of the man he is now running against for the presidency.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Media Fail to Ask Joe Biden About Role in Michael Flynn Investigation, Logan Act

Nearly everything Democrats have done at the national level has made the job losses from coronavirus worse.

You would not know that from the mainstream media, which have under-reported Democrats’ malfeasance and have failed to report President Donald Trump’s successes, which are gaining attention abroad.

Indeed, the media are often complicit in helping Democrats block good ideas, and introduce destructive ones. Here are 5 examples:

1. Delay. Democrats have delayed every single coronavirus relief bill. In March, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stopped a bipartisan CARES Act from going forward, then introduced her own version of the legislation with pork for left-wing interests and purely partisan provisions like voting by mail. In April, Pelosi delayed the extension of the Payment Protection Program (PPP) by 16 days. The media let her get away with it, both times.

2. Using state unemployment systems rather than direct payments. When the administration proposed sending money directly to Americans, Democrats insisted on using the state unemployment systems. The CARES Act ultimately included both kinds of payments. But as Trump later observed, some states struggled to handle the unemployment caseload, resulting in delays in payments many who had just lost their jobs.

3. Making unemployment more lucrative than work. Democrats tacked on $600 per week in additional unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. A few Republicans protested: that would make layoffs more attractive, and hiring more difficult, for employers. They were attacked in the media. But that they were right. “Workers on unemployment benefits are reluctant to give them up,” the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

4. Shaming public companies who apply for PPP funds. Nearly 40% of the money under the second tranche of the PPP has been unclaimed because Democrats and the media protested against public companies being able to apply. (Joe Biden built on that criticism Friday, accusing Trump of helping “big corporations.”) But those companies employ a lot of people. (Or, at least, they used to do so.) Under pressure, Treasury changed the rules.

5. Proposing more relief until the crisis “ends.” Democrats are now proposing that higher unemployment benefits continue until the unemployment rate falls to a certain level, or giving families monthly checks of $2,000 or more until the pandemic is over. In addition to expanding the national debt, doing so will maintain unemployment at a higher level (see #3 above), and will discourage the entrepreneurship that creates jobs.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Pollak: 5 Ways Democrats Are Making Job Losses Worse

First-term Democrat Rep. Harley Rouda of California was spotted on a private beach in Orange County — even as he supported Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) criticism of communities that kept their beaches open to the public.

Last Thursday, Gov. Newsom ordered a “hard close” of beaches in Orange County, having scolded communities in the county for keeping beaches open to large numbers of people during a heat wave the previous weekend. Local communities argued that most beachgoers had maintained “social distancing,” and resolved to add more law enforcement to beaches while keeping beaches open. That was not good enough for Newsom — or Rouda.

In a statement last Thursday, Rep. Rouda criticized communities that had kept their beaches open: “Opening beaches to thousands of Southern Californians during a weekend heat-wave without adequate social-distancing protocols was a reckless action that put the families of California’s 48th district in harm’s way.”

However, Rouda himself was seen on a private beach with his family in Orange County last weekend.

CBS News 2020 campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar broke the story (original emphasis):

Photos obtained first by CBS News show Democratic Congressman Harley Rouda spending time at a private beach in Southern California despite orders from Governor Gavin Newsom to close some public beaches in the area, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar reports. Rouda, a first-term Congressman who beat Dana Rohrabacher, represents the 48th district, which encompasses Orange County. Last week Newsom specifically ordered a “hard close” on Orange County beaches after photos showing people not respecting social distancing went viral on social media. Rouda’s campaign manager said in a statement that Rouda and his family “were actively moving and adequately socially distancing on a residential beach, which has explicitly outlined beach access requirements in accordance with Governor Newsom’s beach order.”

Rouda defeated veteran Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in the 48th congressional district in 2018, basing his campaign in part on accusations that the incumbent was too favorable toward U.S.-Russia relations.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller reported in 2019 that there was no evidence of “collusion” between the Russian government and any American citizen.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Democrat Harley Rouda Spotted on Private Beach; Backed Public Beach Closures in Orange County

The White House Press Corps challenged President Donald Trump’s contention Monday that he has the “total” authority to reopen the U.S. economy after the coronavirus abates — after pestering him for weeks to impose a national shutdown.

In every previous case, Trump said that the Constitution’s federalist structure gave governors primary authority, but stated that he could also overrule them.

The media pushed him to assert his executive power — which they are now questioning:

  • On March 30, Trump was asked to respond to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) imposing a 70-day stay-at-home order. He responded: “Well, we’re letting the governors do in their states pretty much what they want with our supervision, and they consult with us in all cases.”
  • On April 1, a reporter asked Trump to contradict Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who had refused to issue stay-at-home orders at that point. The president responded that he had the power to do so, but “unless we see something obviously wrong, we’re going to let the governors do it.”
  • On April 3, a reporter asked Trump: “Should every state in this country have the kind of stay-at-home orders that we now see in places like Washington and New York?” He replied: “I leave it up to the governors. The governors know what they’re doing. … I like that from the standpoint of governing, and I like that from the standpoint of even our Constitution.”
  • On April 5, reporters urged the president to challenge “eight governors, all Republicans, who have refused to issue … statewide stay-at-home orders.” Trump answered: “We have a thing called the Constitution, which I cherish, number one. Number two, those governors — I know every one of them — they’re doing a great job.” He added that he had the power to “supersede” them, but did not want to use it.
  • On April 7, Trump was asked to contradict “a number of governors who are close allies of yours … who have refrained thus far to have these stay-at-home orders.” Trump said that while he had the power to do so, he wanted to respect the federalist structure of the Constitution: “I can do it, but it is a constitutional — you can say federalist, you can say there’s lots of different reasons, where I would rather have the governors do it, make their own determination.”
  • On April 10, the president was asked whether he would allow DeSantis to re-open schools in May. He answered: “I like to allow governors to make decisions without overruling them, because from a constitutional standpoint, that’s the way it should be done. If I disagreed, I would overrule a governor, and I have that right to do it. But I’d rather have them — you can call it ‘federalist,’ you can call it ‘the Constitution,’ but I call it ‘the Constitution.’”

The president’s stance was the same throughout. He argued that he had the constitutional authority to “supersede” governors and to shut down the economy in their states, but that he preferred to defer to the governors, according to the federalist structure of the Constitution.

Now, the media are challenging the very power they pressured Trump to assert just days ago.

There is a legitimate constitutional question as to whether the president can “close” or “re-open” the economy. As liberal scholar Jonathan Turley — who sided with the White House during impeachment — the president does not have “absolute” power:

The Associated Press presented a more detailed argument against the constitutional position the president asserted Monday.

The point is that Trump has maintained the same view throughout, while the media have flip-flopped completely, perhaps changing their view based on whatever they believe is politically most inconvenient for the president.

On Monday, Trump did not cite the text of the Constitution he believes grants him authority over closing or re-opening the national economy, but promised to provide a legal justification for his stance.

One possible constitutional argument would be as follows:

  • The Interstate Commerce Clause in Article I gives Congress the power to regulate commerce “among the several States”;
  • a related clause, the No Preference Clause, restricts how states may insulate their economies from those of other states;
  • the Faithful Execution Clauses in Article II give the President the duty to carry out the laws Congress passes; and
  • the Supremacy Clause in Article VI makes the Constitution and federal law the “supreme law of the land.”

That supremacy is balanced by the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers for the states that are not already granted to the federal government. As the AP notes, state powers cover public order and safety.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was put on the spot by a reporter who invited him to contradict the president, argued that the president’s authority during a national emergency is “unquestionably plenary.”

It is possible that these powers are not entirely congruent — that is, the president may have authority to restrict commerce due to a public health emergency, but not to override all lingering state and local restrictions once an emergency has passed. (No one in the White House Briefing Room has yet drawn such subtle distinctions.)

The entire question may be moot, as the president suggested, because most of the governors do not want to keep their states closed; they share an interest in re-opening their economies as soon as possible.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: White House Press Corps Demanded Trump Shut Down Economy; Now Question His Authority to Reopen It

Former vice president Joe Biden called on President Donald Trump Thursday to offer more aid to Iran, as that country struggles with coronavirus — though the U.S. has already offered aid, and the Iranian regime rejected it.

In a statement, Biden said:

It is bad enough that the Trump administration abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in favor of a “maximum pressure” strategy that has badly backfired, encouraging Iran to become even more aggressive and restart its nuclear program. It makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failure with cruelty by inhibiting access to humanitarian assistance.

Biden also blamed the U.S. for Iran’s suffering, saying steps needed to be taken “to ensure the United States is not exacerbating this growing humanitarian crisis.”

The U.S. offered aid to Iran in February, with the State Department noting that humanitarian aid would be exempt from sanctions:

[C]ertain donations to Iran intended to relieve human suffering, including the donation of medicine, are exempt from U.S. sanctions. In addition, the United States maintains broad exceptions and authorizations to its sanctions for the commercial export of food, medicine, medical devices, and agricultural products to Iran.

But Iran rejected American aid, accusing the U.S. of spreading the virus deliberately to “poison” the Iranian people.

Iran also blocked aid last month from the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Doctors Without Borders (Médicins Sans Frontières), saying that the country had spare hospital capacity and had no need for additional medical supplies.

Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies noted this week that Iran continues to spend money on its nuclear program and its terrorist proxies despite the impact of coronavirus.

Moreover, they note, Iran controls billions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds and oil revenue escrow accounts.

The Iranian regime has apparently boasted that it is exploiting the coronavirus crisis to press for sanctions relief.

The Iran deal gave the regime access to an estimated $100 billion to $150 billion in assets, plus billons in cash.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Joe Biden Calls on Trump to Help Iran, Which Rejected U.S. Aid

A Democratic Party-aligned super PAC plans to spend $5 million on digital advertising to attack President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak — even as the nation struggles with the growing public health threat.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday:

A Democratic super PAC said Tuesday it would spend $5 million on digital advertising flaying President Trump for his response to the novel coronavirus, one of several groups that planned to devote resources to this type of messaging.

McGowan said it was critical for outside groups like hers to exact a political price on Trump as his possible Democratic opponents, former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), aim to project leadership by staying above the fray.

Biden and Sanders have hardly stayed “above the fray.” Neither has offered support to the president, and both have been scathing in their attacks.

Biden — who called Trump’s January travel ban on China “hysterical” and “racist” — criticized the president and released his own plan, while opposing travel bans from China, Europe, “or any other part of the world.”

Sanders called for Trump to be replaced on the coronavirus issue by “experts” and Congress — and said he should be “shut up.”

Former Democratic Party presidential candidate Andrew Yang took a different approach on Tuesday, offering his support to the White House as it considered a temporary, emergency version of his signature campaign idea: $1,000 per month to each American household.

Another former candidate, Michael Bloomberg, pledged $40 million Tuesday to the fight against coronavirus — a small fraction of the fortune he spent on his failed campaign, which cost over half a billion dollars.

According to the Post, the $5 million ad buy is only one of several similar efforts by left-wing groups to capitalize on the coronavirus outbreak.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Mid-crisis, Democrat Super PAC to Spend $5 Million Attacking Trump over Coronavirus

A new poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News finds that approval of President Donald Trump remains unchanged since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, though only 48% have confidence in him to manage it.

The Journal reported Sunday morning:

The survey of 900 registered voters found little sign that a crisis with potential to define the 2020 election has altered the political standing of President Trump. Some 51% disapprove of how he is handling the virus outbreak, while 45% approve. That is nearly identical to his overall job-approval rating, which is essentially unchanged from last month and from much of his tenure as president.

Republicans and Democrats hold nearly inverse views on his emergency response, with 81% of GOP voters saying he has done well and 84% of Democrats saying the opposite. Among independents, 43% approve and 52% disapprove.

Fewer people in the survey said they had confidence in Mr. Trump to handle the crisis than they did in various levels of government. Less than half—48%—said they had a fair amount or great deal of confidence in the president. By comparison, 62% had confidence in the federal government, 72% in local government and 75% in their state government.

The outbreak has taken governments around the world by surprise, and even those that have responded aggressively have been forced to re-adjust over time.

On Saturday night, for example, Israel announced a ban on gatherings larger than ten people (ten is the minimum required for a prayer quorum in the Jewish faith). The Israeli government will also follow South Korea’s example in using private cellphone data to track those exposed to the virus.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: WSJ/NBC Poll: Trump Approval Unchanged in Coronavirus Outbreak

ROCHESTER, New Hampshire — Former Vice President Joe Biden announced Tuesday morning, in the midst of voting in the New Hampshire primary, that he is leaving the state, skipping his “victory” party.

Instead, Biden said, he would go on to campaign in South Carolina, where he hopes to win the state.

Biden once led the polls in New Hampshire, but lost his lead several months ago. He now trails Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in the latest polls. He is battling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for fourth place, and could even finish sixth if one of the second-tier campaigns takes advantage of his weakness to turn out their voters.

The former vice president signaled to supporters Friday that he did not expect to win — or even do well — in the state, when he declared during the Democrat debate that he expected to “take a hit” here. Making matters worse, on Sunday he called a voter at a town hall meeting a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier.”

Supporters believe he will do better in the more diverse states of Nevada and South Carolina. However, Biden did not want to face the spectacle of a crushing loss in New Hampshire in person. The victory party will still be held, but he will address supporters remotely, according to a campaign statement.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Electile Dysfunction: Joe Biden Pulls Out Early from New Hampshire

Former Vice President Joe Biden is only 5 points ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the latest poll of voters in South Carolina, the state where Biden had built a “firewall” of support among African-Americans.

The Charleston Post and Courier reported Sunday: “Biden, who once led by as much as 31 percentage points in South Carolina, holds a 5-point edge over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.” The margin of error is 4 points.

The new poll result raises the possibility that Sanders could sweep all four of the early primary states that vote in February. He leads in the latest polls in Iowa and New Hampshire; he is statistically tied with Biden in the most recent poll in Nevada; and now he is clinging to a slim lead over Sanders in South Carolina.

It is not clear why Biden is fading, but Sanders has surged over the past several weeks, especially after the entire field of candidates failed to impress during the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses.

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has kept Sanders, and other Senators running for the nomination, in Washington. However, it has also highlighted alleged conflicts of interest for Biden.

The Post and Courier poll also reported that billionaire left-wing donor Tom Steyer is now in third place in South Carolina, at 18 percent. CNN reported last month that Steyer had bought over 90% of the television advertising time in both South Carolina and Nevada, flooding the airwaves and possibly hurting Biden.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Poll: Joe Biden Fading in South Carolina; Bernie Sanders Could Sweep Early Primary States

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