The Hill: White House Yields to a National Rage Addiction

Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, wrote an opinion piece for The Hill titled From court packing to leaking to doxing: White House yields to a national rage addiction. In the piece, Turley discusses Democrats’ continued bootlicking behavior toward the mob.

Nearly 70 years ago, a little-known lawyer named Joseph Welch famously confronted Sen. Joseph McCarthy (D-Wis.) in defense of a young man hounded over alleged un-American views. Welch told McCarthy that “I think I have never really gauged … your recklessness” before asking: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

It was a defining moment in American politics as Welch called out a politician who had abandoned any semblance of principle in the pursuit of political advantage. This week, the same scene played out in the White House with one striking difference: This was no Joseph Welch to be found.

After someone in the Supreme Court leaked a draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a virtual flash-mob formed around the court and its members demanding retributive justice. This included renewed calls for court “packing,” as well as the potential targeting of individual justices at their homes. Like the leaking of the opinion itself, the doxing of justices and their families is being treated as fair game in our age of rage.

There is more than a license to this rage; there is an addiction to it. That was evident in March 2020 when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stood in front of the Supreme Court to threaten Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh by name: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price! You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” Schumer’s reckless rhetoric was celebrated, not condemned, by many on the left, even after he attempted to walk it back by stating that “I should not have used the words I used … they did not come out the way I intended to.”

What occurred at the White House this week is even more troubling. When asked for a response to the leaking of a justice’s draft opinion, White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to condemn the leaker and said the real issue was the opinion itself. Then she was asked about the potential targeting of justices and their families at their homes, and whether that might be considered extreme. It should have been another easy question; few Americans would approve of such doxing, particularly since some of the justices have young children at home. Yet Psaki declared that “I don’t have an official U.S. government position on where people protest,” adding that “peaceful protest is not extreme.

In reality, not having an official position on doxing and harassing Supreme Court justices and their families is a policy.

Whether protests are judged to be extreme seems often to depend upon their underlying viewpoints. When Westboro Baptist Church activists protested at the funeral of Beau Biden, it was peaceful — but many critics rightly condemned the demonstration as extreme; some even approved of Westboro activists being physically assaulted. When the church brought its case before the Supreme Court, some of us supported its claims despite our vehement disagreement with their views, but 42 senators filed an amicus brief asking the court to deny free-speech protections for such protests. The court ultimately ruled 8-1 in favor of the church.

In this case, the Biden administration and the Justice Department have condemned the court’s leaked draft — but not the threatened protests at justices’ homes, even though those arguably could be treated as a crime. Under 18 U.S.C. 1507, it is a federal crime to protest near a residence occupied by a judge or jury with the intent to influence their decisions in pending cases, and this case remains pending. (Ironically, prosecution could be difficult if the protesters said they had no intent other than to vent anger.)

Even if protests at justices’ homes are constitutionally protected, that does not make them right, any more than the lawful Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954 were right.

In 1954, the left was targeted for its political views; today, it is the left which is calling for censorshipblacklisting and doxing. In such moments of reckless rage, presidents often have become calming voices, tempering extremist passions in their own parties. When they have failed to do so, history has judged them harshly, as in the case of President Eisenhower’s belated condemnation of Sen. McCarthy, something he reportedly regretted for the rest of his life.

President Biden has repeatedly shown that polls, not principles, guide his presidency. He showed integrity as a senator by denouncing court packing as a “bonehead … terrible, terrible” idea. However, he has stayed silent as today’s Democrats have pushed to pack the court with an instant liberal majority, a demand that increased this week. Biden long supported the Senate’s filibuster rule and said efforts to eliminate it would be “disastrous” — but when today’s mob formed, he flipped and denounced the filibuster as a “relic” of the Jim Crow era.

Even on abortion, Biden has shifted with the polls. He once opposed Roe v. Wade and supported an amendment that would negate the decision. At the time, he declared that “I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.” Now President Biden has switched his position without really switching his logic. He recently declared that he supported Roe because “I’m just a child of God; I exist” and thus can decide what happens to his body. Accordingly, he denounced the Supreme Court’s draft opinion as “radical” and affirmed the right of a woman “to abort a child.

Whether it is court leaking, packing, doxing or other tactics, many Democratic politicians and pundits continue to follow the mob rather than risk its ire…(continues)

FEMA: Americans Need to Start Saving for a Rainy Day

This was written as an opinion piece in The Hill by FEMA Deputy Administrator for Resilience Daniel Kaniewski. TL;DR – The government isn’t coming to save you. Better start getting prepared to take care of yourself/your community.

Every day our nation faces some risk whether it be from flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornados or other threats. While none of us want to think that the next disaster will happen where we live, the fact is our communities can never truly be prepared for disasters if the people who live in our communities are not.

One of FEMA’s core missions is to educate the public on disaster preparedness, both at home and in the community, and the results are encouraging. Every year, more Americans are taking preparedness actions. But, we need to address an essential component of the preparedness message —  savings and insurance.

We need individuals to take charge of their own preparedness both at home and in their communities. It starts with discussing the importance of financial health and its relationship to being ready. Americans must adopt the habit of saving for emergencies, both large and small. An emergency fund can help cover evacuation expenses or pay for supplies to get a home ready for a hurricane. After a disaster, these funds can be used to replace damaged items or pay for necessities before an insurance company can settle a claim.

Research paints a compelling picture of the link between financial wellness and disaster preparedness. We also know that emergency savings make a big difference in helping families recover more quickly after disasters. However, a 2017 Federal Reserve report found 40 percent of adults would not have the cash readily available if faced with a $400 emergency expense. Additionally, a 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found that 8.4 million households in the United States have neither a checking nor savings account.

So, at a time when the evidence points toward the importance of savings, many Americans are not in a position to act. Even those who do have bank accounts often do not take the action of ensuring they have immediate access to cash at home. Having liquid assets in the bank and cash at home are both essential steps in building a prepared household. ATMs and credit card machines might not be functioning after a disaster and you will likely have to use cash for food, water or fuel in the immediate aftermath.

Americans should focus on building up their financial wellness to protect themselves and their families. FEMA and its financial wellness nonprofit and private sector partners continue to share messaging and resources that can be used to help build financial resilience in communities. Through PrepTalks “Financial Literacy and Overcoming Liquid Asset Poverty,” and the FEMA Podcast “Making ‘Cents Out of Disaster Financial Preparedness,” we have compiled resources to provide individuals and communities a greater understanding and awareness of financial resilience.

We continue to share the message of the importance of saving, but we also have to expand the definition of financial preparedness. A large part of protecting every family’s financial future is insurance. There is not a more important or valuable disaster recovery tool than insurance. This of course includes flood insurance, which is usually not included in standard homeowners’ and renters’ policies. But it’s not just flood insurance. All types of insurance have a role to play in reducing financial risk. Unfortunately, we have an insurance gap (the difference between what is insured and what is insurable) in this country; approximately 70 percent of disaster losses are uninsured. Those who lack insurance will take longer to recover — and some may never fully recover–adding further stress after a disaster.

Survivors working toward their recovery should understand that FEMA’s Individual Assistance program grants were never intended to cover all disaster losses. The average FEMA Individual Assistance grant to disaster survivors in Texas following Hurricane Harvey was approximately $3,000. The average flood insurance payout was more than $117,000.

Enhancing financial preparedness and closing the insurance gap can help reduce the impacts of disasters. We have to get ahead of the risks we may face and not just respond to them. Making a more resilient nation must be a shared goal, and a shared responsibility.

Daniel Kaniewski, PhD, serves as FEMA’s deputy administrator for resilience and is currently FEMA’s second-ranking official.