Texas Is Now an “Open Carry” State, Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

It has always been antithetical to the spirit of the Constitution to require a license to own a firearm

As of September 1, you no longer have to pay the government to carry a gun in Texas.

Most people think of Texas as the Wild West and may be surprised this was ever the case in the Lonestar State. But, Texas previously required a license to carry a gun, a restriction on citizens’ rights you’ll still find in 31 other states. Most of the time, that means citizens can keep guns in their homes or cars, but to carry on their person they must complete a class and then pay the government a recurring fee to obtain their permit. This could cost hundreds of dollars.

To address this, the Texas state legislature passed a “constitutional carry” bill during their last session, and Governor Gregg Abbott signed it into law in June. The bill doesn’t actually change the eligibility for purchasing or owning a gun. The state still blocks anyone under the age of 21 from gun ownership, as well as many people with criminal records. And those who wish to purchase a gun must of course still go through a background check as well.

Constitutional carry merely means that citizens no longer have to pay the government, or jump through hoops, to legally exercise their right to bear arms.

But be that as it may, it has not stopped the hand-wringing over the new law by many progressives, firearms instructors (who profit greatly off of licensing mandates), and police — all of whom are now spending considerable time warning the public that this will lead to an increase in gun crime and violence.

“New gun laws in Texas will surely lead to more gun violence,” read a headline in the San Antonio Report.

“New Texas law allowing people to carry handguns without permits stirs mix of fear, concern among law enforcement,” said the Texas Tribune.

And Moms Demand Action, a progressive anti-gun group, is offering to help businesses block consumers who carry.

Candidly, these talking points are tired, and they don’t stand up to reality.

First and foremost, it has always been antithetical to the spirit of the Constitution to require a license to exercise a right clearly defined in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. For no other right do we demand that citizens jump through hoops or pay the government to use them. Imagine if similar requirements were implemented for free speech or freedom of religion. It would be a gross injustice, as are gun permits.

Additionally, making people pay to take a class and then pay to obtain a license from the government does little more than block poor people from exercising their rights. Some of these requirements were put in place to intentionally block people of color from accessing guns in the past—laws that continue to reverberate today—making these measures even more unjust.

There is nothing about paying the government that makes a person less or more likely to be violent. In fact, those who intend to commit violence already intend to break the law, and will not be bothered with a permitting process in the first place. Arguments to the contrary are totally detached from reason, the nature of crime, and everything we know about violence.

Lastly, and without getting too into the weeds, it’s important to point out that the way the vast majority of gun violence and gun deaths are tracked and reported is… deeply problematic to say the least, if not downright disingenuous.

Mass shootings include any incident where four or more people are killed in a general area. That means even when the shooter is known to the victims, they are in their own home, or a crime is gang-related, they all get lumped into this arbitrary category that makes gun violence by strangers seem more prevalent than it is. Suicides are lumped in with homicides, which also leads the public to think there’s more gun crime than there is. And the number of times a year guns save lives is usually overlooked altogether. For the record, estimates show at least 162,000 lives are saved by gun ownership a year and millions of crimes are prevented.

Furthermore, we have strong data that show ownership of guns actually correlates with less violence, not more. Statistics from the US Department of Justice show that “U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more, a whopping 69 percent.” During that same time period, gun ownership increased significantly, even breaking records in 2012.

On the other hand, we continue to see states with the strictest gun laws lead the nation in actual gun crimes and homicides. California and Illinois, which all but block residents from gun ownership altogether, lead the nation in mass shootings. And New York, which has similar laws in the city, recently experienced a 166 percent increase in gun violence during the pandemic.

The Texas law does not necessarily mean more people will carry guns; it just means they don’t have to pay the state before they do so. But if the new law does lead to more people exercising their rights, it would be a positive story either way.

*****

This article was published on September 2, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from FEE, Foundation for Economic Education.

The Left’s “Secret Science”: Victory on the Margins-Part II

Review of “Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns” Victory on the Margins As pure entertainment, Victory Lab is a well-written and fascinating history of the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) and messaging innovations developed by partisan Democrats, partisan Republicans, and academic researchers (also sometimes very partisan—we will get to this in a moment). But on a […]
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Review of “Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns”

Victory on the Margins

As pure entertainment, Victory Lab is a well-written and fascinating history of the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) and messaging innovations developed by partisan Democrats, partisan Republicans, and academic researchers (also sometimes very partisan—we will get to this in a moment).

But on a more important level, it is almost impossible to overstate the election-changing impact of these innovations, whether brought to life aboveboard by clearly partisan actors or in the shadows by shady partisan tax-exempt nonprofits.

Consider just the Voter Participation Center, which claims to have registered 1.5 million new voters during the 2020 election alone. Leaving aside the possibility that VPC is exaggerating to get more checks from Streisand, it stands to reason that: (1) VPC was at least responsible for getting out hundreds of thousands of new voters who wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to the polls, (2) the vast majority of those voters were in “key states” critical to the outcome of the presidential election; and (3) they likely voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden.

The conventional narrative of the 2016 presidential election is well established. Donald Trump won on a famously razor-thin margin in three states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. The combined total margin of victory was just 77,744 votes. If only half of them—38,872 Trump voters in exactly the right places—had woken up on election day and voted for Hillary instead, then Bill Clinton would have once again been placed dangerously close to the White House interns.

Less well publicized: The 2020 election was even closer.

Joe Biden’s combined margin of victory in Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district was 65,009. If a precisely well-placed 32,505 Biden voters had switched sides, then Trump would have won another term.

The 2000 election was memorably won by George W. Bush by just 537 votes in the state of Florida, meaning 270 people—who could have been reached via a week of door knocking by a persuasive Al Gore volunteer—might have changed the course of history. Bush’s 2004 reelection turned on just a 59,301-vote margin in Ohio.

Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection, though decisive in the Electoral College margin, hinged on a combined total vote margin of fewer than 482,000 votes in four states. Even in this otherwise convincing victory, just 241,000 voters could have changed the outcome by switching their votes from the Democrat to the Republican.

That is 0.002 percent of the more than 127 million people who participated in the 2012 presidential election.

These examples demonstrate that our biggest elections have been won by the tiniest of victories. It is a huge deal that one organization such as the Voter Participation Center can plausibly claim to have mobilized hundreds of thousands—maybe more than a million—left-leaning swing-state voters to go to the polls.

Politically Profitable Nonprofits

And the Voter Participation Center is far from the only lefty player on this field.

Victory Lab left little doubt that spiking votes for Democrats was the deceptive point of using these supposedly nonpartisan/nonprofit organizations for voter registration and participation programs. Referencing the work of the left-leaning philanthropic foundation known as Carnegie Corporation, Issenberg described how many of these turnout machines sail close to (or possibly beyond) the edge of the law:

“Because the tax code allowed nonprofit organizations to run registration and turnout drives as long as they did not push a particular candidate, organizing “historically disenfranchised” communities (as Carnegie described them) became a backdoor approach to ginning up Democratic votes outside the campaign finance laws that applied to candidates, parties, and political action committees. Major liberal donors got into the GOTV game: Project Vote organized urban areas, Rock the Vote targeted the young, the NAACP National Voter Fund focused on African-Americans.”

Those words were published shortly before the 2012 presidential election. African American voters were anything but “disenfranchised” that year. According to the Pew Research Center the 2012 African American voter turnout was 66.6 percent, slightly higher than the white voter turnout and far higher than Asian or Hispanic voter turnout. Black voters were more enfranchised in 2012 than any other racial demographic.

The white turnout rate slightly overtook the African American rate four years later in 2016, but the two were within 6 percentage points of one another: 65.3 percent versus 59.6 percent.

Of course, a charismatic and popular African American president was not on the ballot in 2016, as he had been for the two prior elections. Instead, it was a race between the two most disliked major party presidential candidates in the history of Gallup’s polling. In an election in which both Trump and Clinton were viewed unfavorably by a majority, it is more charitable to the good judgment of black voters to assume that profound disappointment, rather than “historical disenfranchisement,” caused many of them to logically refuse to be responsible for whoever won the White House.

Many of the chapters in Victory Lab profile the entirely aboveboard work done by partisan Democrats and Republicans to increase turnout among their most likely supporters. This is obviously what political campaigns are meant to do. But when the book addresses voter registration and turnout work provided by the supposedly nonpartisan nonprofits, such as those mentioned to this point, the examples provided are all purpose-built to tilt the scales toward one party: the Democrats.

This is not a fault of the book, its liberal author, or the liberal reviewers who didn’t criticize the book for this tilt. It simply reflects the reality of the nonprofit world. It is very difficult (perhaps impossible) to come up with an example that so heavily benefits Republican candidates in the way the Voter Participation Center and the others work to juice Democratic turnout.

*****

This article was published on July 23, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from Capital Research Center.

The Left’s “Secret Science”: Winning Ugly-Part I

Review of “Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns” Decades of political mail from nearly every serious candidate and committee have consisted of full-color brochures sporting high-quality ink on expensive paper. The professional production value often looks sharper than the stuff sent from the local Lincoln dealership. For a campaign to mail anything less […]
The post The Left’s “Secret Science”: Winning Ugly-Part I appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.Review of “Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns” Decades of political mail from nearly every serious candidate and committee have consisted of full-color brochures sporting high-quality ink on expensive paper. The professional production value often looks sharper than the stuff sent from the local Lincoln dealership. For a campaign to mail anything less
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Review of “Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns”

Decades of political mail from nearly every serious candidate and committee have consisted of full-color brochures sporting high-quality ink on expensive paper. The professional production value often looks sharper than the stuff sent from the local Lincoln dealership. For a campaign to mail anything less would portray an image akin to that of a job applicant wearing pajamas to the interview.

Or so the thinking goes.

A lot of popular wisdom about what influences the outcome of elections should have been upended back in 2012 with the publication of The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns. Written by journalist Sasha Issenberg, the book described the evolution of voter microtargeting and behavioral science research tactics, and the arms race between high-level Democratic and Republican campaigns to invent new weaponry. The lessons from this important book remain unlearned by nearly all voters, much of the media, and even many candidates.

With a resume that includes a fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and political reporter gigs at the Boston Globe and Slate, Issenberg’s professional pedigree rests comfortably within the traditional media establishment. His book was showered with compliments from these peers when it was released nearly nine years ago. In a Washington Post review, grizzled veteran political reporter Jeff Greenfield called it “indispensable” and a “magical mystery tour of contemporary campaigns.” Issenberg also made the broadcast interview rounds, including at snooty state-funded media programs such as NewsHour on PBS and Weekend Edition on NPR.

So, this was not the work of a right-of-center political operative intending to sound the alarm—eight years in advance—about the machinery deployed by the Left in 2020 to put Joe Biden in the White House. Yet still, Victory Lab repeatedly dropped hints that voter engagement/registration programs, supposedly nonpartisan and nonprofit (i.e.: charitable) operations under the law, are in fact funded and run by ruthlessly partisan appendages of the Democratic-left machine.

This newsworthy revelation didn’t tickle the curiosity of the supposed news organizations heaping well-deserved praise on Issenberg’s book. They weren’t reading closely.

Winning Ugly

Fast forward to the fall of 2020, when mailboxes in swing states were carpet-bombed more than once per week with cheap, photocopied, 8.5 x 11 sheets of plain white paper, printed with simple black ink script. The clever strategy behind these ugly mailings would have been familiar to anyone who had read Victory Lab back in 2012.

Some of the crude mailings promoted partisan messages regarding where the presidential candidates supposedly stood on hot button issues. Others provided absentee ballot applications and encouragements to vote early. “Lowering Prescription Drug Prices” was written in bold lettering on one: Joe Biden’s position was identified with a boldface “Yes” and Donald Trump with an equally bold “No.”

Anyone with access to a personal computer from the early 1980s or a hand-cranked mimeograph machine from the late 1950s could have quickly produced hundreds of these mailings in their basement. It looked like the work of amateurs. It was everything but that.

The organization at the center of the story was Women’s Voices Women Vote, a supposedly nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing voter participation. But back in 2012 Issenberg outed their real agenda: “Even though the group was officially nonpartisan, for tax purposes, there was no secret that the goal of all its efforts was to generate new votes for Democrats.”

The book reports on research explored in 2011 by a Women’s Voices consultant affiliated with the Analyst Institute, a for-profit political message testing firm for Democrats. Organizations working with Analyst began exploring the effectiveness of sending primitive political mailings resembling (according to Issenberg) a letter from “the homeowner’s association announcing a policy change.”

The tests revealed that ugly mailings dramatically outperformed pretty ones. In one example a left-leaning ballot committee in Oregon sent traditional “glossy” mail promotions to some precincts, but to others the pretty stuff was replaced with “voter guides” that consisted of “text heavy” cut-rate flyers. The Oregonians found they could boost their vote tally by 5 percentage points with the dull-looking voter guides.

The same Women’s Voices profiled by Issenberg in 2012 is the parent organization responsible for the plain black and white, cheap paper mailers that hit swing state voters in 2020. The subsidiaries sending the 2020 mailings were the Voter Participation Center (VPC), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit political organization that is legally required to be nonpartisan, and the Center for Voter Information (CVI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is also supposed to be nonpartisan.

The not-so-nonpartisan CVI was responsible for the “prescription drug prices” mailing noted above. FoundationSearch, a recordkeeping service for charitable donations, lists several large left-leaning foundations and left-wing environmental organizations as past supporters of CVI, including the Sierra Club, the Tides Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. A comprehensive and up-to-date profile of its support is not available: The Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org) describes CVI as an “outside spending group” that “does NOT disclose its donors to the FEC.”

Although organizationally a sibling of CVI, the VPC’s 501(c)(3) tax status requires it to steer clear of partisan attempts to influence elections. But as Issenberg reported, this group is happy to skirt the law as it works to “generate new votes for Democrats.”

According to FoundationSearch, since 2018, VPC has received its largest identifiable donations from foundations with a history of funding left-of-center causes, such as the Enlight Foundation ($1.5 million) and the Proteus Fund ($900,000). Singer and film star Barbara Streisand has also made VPC part of her act: Her foundation gave a $15,000 grant in 2018.

The grant description from the famously partisan Hollywood Democrat’s foundation said the 15 large was to be used to “promote free and equal opportunities to voting for all.”

In a February 2021 postmortem on the 2020 election, Time magazine credited VPC with sending 15 million vote-by-mail ballot applications to “people in key states.” The Time account didn’t specify what was meant by the revealing phrase “key states,” nor mention at all the partisan agenda of VPC supporters.

Instead, praising VPC for its election work during the pandemic, Time stated blandly that “in a normal year” the VPC “would have supported local groups deploying canvassers door-to-door to get out the vote.” The accidentally ironic headline of the Time article was: The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.

But readers of Victory Lab knew the secret Time was keeping in the shadows from its readers: No matter the year, VPC’s agenda has always been to use its supposedly nonpartisan, nonprofit status to increase the number of partisan Democratic voters in states key to winning the White House.

Barbara Streisand may have claimed her money would “promote free and equal opportunities to voting for all,” but the webpage of the VPC repeatedly announces its intent to mobilize only voters in a “new American majority.” This is very narrowly defined as “people of color, unmarried women, and young voting eligible Americans.”

If you think—for example—that a rarely voting rural gun enthusiast who attends the local Protestant megachurch is a target of VPC’s “new American majority” outreach, then you are probably still sending your holiday wish lists to the North Pole.

Or believing what you read in Time magazine.

*****

This article was published on July 23, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from Capital Research Center.

Arizona Senate Not Holding Maricopa County in Contempt Due to Holdout Republican

The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate isn’t voting to hold Maricopa County officials in contempt for refusing to fully comply with election audit subpoenas because of a single Republican senator. Republicans lost a seat in the state Senate in the Nov. 3, 2020, election and hold a narrow 16–14 majority. That gives state Sen. Paul Boyer, a […]
The post Arizona Senate Not Holding Maricopa County in Contempt Due to Holdout Republican appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate isn’t voting to hold Maricopa County officials in contempt for refusing to fully comply with election audit subpoenas because of a single Republican senator. Republicans lost a seat in the state Senate in the Nov. 3, 2020, election and hold a narrow 16–14 majority. That gives state Sen. Paul Boyer, a
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The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate isn’t voting to hold Maricopa County officials in contempt for refusing to fully comply with election audit subpoenas because of a single Republican senator.

Republicans lost a seat in the state Senate in the Nov. 3, 2020, election and hold a narrow 16–14 majority. That gives state Sen. Paul Boyer, a Republican, the power to stymie efforts to hold the county’s Board of Supervisors (BOS) in contempt.

“Senator Boyer agreed to proceed with [the] audit but when Maricopa BOS refused to cooperate, Boyer would not vote with us for the resolution of contempt which leaves us one vote short,” Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, wrote in a July 21 social media post.

Boyer, who didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time, responded directly to Fann.

“You told us in closed caucus the ‘audit’ would not cost taxpayers more than $150k, and you wouldn’t divulge who you were hiring. Had you told us it was an inexperienced, partisan firm, I wouldn’t have been the only one to object,” he said.

Fann tapped Florida-based Cyber Ninjas to lead the audit, along with subcontractors Wake Technology Services, CyFIR, and Digital Discovery.

Democrats and other critics have said that Cyber Ninjas isn’t qualified to perform such an audit because the firm lacks experience conducting audits and because its CEO, Doug Logan, shared and made posts on social media last year alleging election fraud had occurred in the Nov. 3, 2020, election. Proponents and Republicans have said the firm has created a transparent process for an unprecedented election review and that the subcontractors have ample experience.

On the issue of funding, taxpayers are only paying $150,000. Donations are funding the rest of the audit.

Senators voted in February on a measure to hold the BOS in contempt for failing to comply with subpoenas issued by the state Senate in late 2020.

Supervisors “have repeatedly and willfully delayed and obstructed a vital and duly authorized investigation by the Arizona Senate,” the resolution stated.

The measure would have enabled the Senate to send the sergeant-at-arms to arrest the supervisors.

The vote went along party lines, except for Boyer, who sided with Democrats. That made the vote 15–15.

“My vote is about patience,” Boyer said, noting that it would provide “a little bit more time for us to work together charitably and amicably as friends.”

The standoff between county and state officials ended later that month, when a judge ruled against the county, saying the subpoenas the Senate issued were valid.

County supervisors agreed to turn over nearly 2.1 million ballots, 385 tabulators, and other election-related materials, but have refused to send over router or router images and passwords to access the election machines at an administrative level.

Auditors want that information, as well as ballot envelope images and splunk logs, to try to clear up issues they’ve identified in their review. The county isn’t cooperating, however…..

*****

Continue reading this article, published July 22, 2021 at The Epoch Times.

Too Much Money Chasing Too Few Goods and Services

Inflation can be considered a tax, an especially regressive one, falling harder on those with lower income and/or assets. As we’ve noted previously, the Federal Reserve’s “M2” monetary aggregate began growing significantly faster than the “GDP” measure of economic output in the United States beginning around 2008, amidst the 2007-2009 financial and economic crisis. With […]
The post Too Much Money Chasing Too Few Goods and Services appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.Inflation can be considered a tax, an especially regressive one, falling harder on those with lower income and/or assets. As we’ve noted previously, the Federal Reserve’s “M2” monetary aggregate began growing significantly faster than the “GDP” measure of economic output in the United States beginning around 2008, amidst the 2007-2009 financial and economic crisis. With
The post Too Much Money Chasing Too Few Goods and Services appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.Read MoreFeedzyEstimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Inflation can be considered a tax, an especially regressive one, falling harder on those with lower income and/or assets.

As we’ve noted previously, the Federal Reserve’s “M2” monetary aggregate began growing significantly faster than the “GDP” measure of economic output in the United States beginning around 2008, amidst the 2007-2009 financial and economic crisis.

With the federal government’s massive fiscal and economic “stimulus” policies arriving together with a pandemic and government lockdowns, M2 growth has recently risen dramatically higher than GDP growth.

Earlier this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (within the U.S. Department of Labor) reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose in June at one of its fastest growing rates in more than a decade. Some people have been pointing to the fact that year-over-year changes in the CPI may be high recently in part because the comparisons to last year’s levels were amidst the onset of the pandemic. But in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the first quarter of 2021 and on a seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI rose at an annualized rate of more than 8 percent, which is the highest quarterly growth rate since the third quarter of 1981.

It’s always worthwhile to keep an eye on alternative inflation measures, given the estimation issues associated with government statistics, and considering the source of those statistics.

Along those lines, a recent survey of small businesses by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) returned a result for prices that hasn’t been reached since 1981.

And the prices component of the monthly Institute for Supply Management survey of business purchasing managers rose in June 2021 to its highest reading since July 1979.

Inflation can be considered as a tax, and an especially regressive one, falling harder on those with lower income and/or assets. Inflation can be considered one cost of government.

*****

Continue reader this article at Wolf Street.

It’s About Time We Stopped “Trying Communism”

I don’t know how many protests, solidarity movements, refugees, human rights alerts, economic collapses, and purges are going to get this message through everyone’s heads, Communism is a terrible system of governance. In fact, at this point, we should be consistent. Any government that does not guarantee as to the very justification for its existence, […]
The post It’s About Time We Stopped “Trying Communism” appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.I don’t know how many protests, solidarity movements, refugees, human rights alerts, economic collapses, and purges are going to get this message through everyone’s heads, Communism is a terrible system of governance. In fact, at this point, we should be consistent. Any government that does not guarantee as to the very justification for its existence,
The post It’s About Time We Stopped “Trying Communism” appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.Read MoreFeedzyEstimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

I don’t know how many protests, solidarity movements, refugees, human rights alerts, economic collapses, and purges are going to get this message through everyone’s heads, Communism is a terrible system of governance. In fact, at this point, we should be consistent. Any government that does not guarantee as to the very justification for its existence, individual rights, open markets, and accountable governance, is worth challenging.

I am of course referring to the ongoing protest in Cuba, to which those on the far left will shamefully attribute to the US embargo on the Communist regime. Others may simply beat around the bush and try to attribute the reasons for the protests to current events. Although all these may contribute to the discontent fueling the Cuban protests, just like every single Communist regime, the ultimate reason why things are going poorly is that the people live under a crushing regime of incompetence and oppression.

To make room for a colleague that will inevitably publish on the Cuban protests in more detail, my article will focus not on Cuba but on the general topic of Communism.

The Shameful Track Record of Communism

Real Communism has never been tried before, but it certainly has been attempted in all sorts of flavors and every single one of them sucked. For some reason, their leaders can’t bring themselves to care about the rights of individuals. Perhaps it undermines their overall collectivist views? Perhaps individual dignity would lead down the slippery slope to capitalism? Perhaps individual rights and preferences are a bourgeois construct? That’s certainly what Che Guevara, the leader of Cuba’s Communist revolution, and Fidel Castro, Communist Cuba’s first leader thought. In fact, Human Progress points out,

“Both Guevara and Castro considered homosexuality a bourgeois decadence. In an interview in 1965, Castro explained that “A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant communist should be.”

Although the American Left somehow rationalizes the deification of men like Che Guevara, they seem to conveniently forget that much like all power-hungry dictators with no regard for human life, he was blatantly a racist, a bigot, and a mass murderer. Human Progress notes,

“According to Álvaro Vargas Llosa, homosexuals, Jehova’s Witnesses, Afro-Cuban priests, and others who were believed to have committed a crime against revolutionary morals, were forced to work in these camps to correct their “anti-social behavior.” Many of them died; others were tortured or raped.”

Even today the Cuban government and every single communist country are incredibly repressive. In fact, in reaction to the protests that some may keep telling themselves aren’t against the Communist government, they just shut off the internet. You don’t do that when the people are protesting the actions of a foreign government, such as a US embargo; you do that when the protestors are against the domestic government.

To briefly highlight some of the many atrocities committed by Communist regimes let’s start with China. It’s been a little bit more than a month since the anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square Massacre and tens of millions died in Mao’s Great Leap Forward as well as the Cultural Revolution. A failure of Communist economic and political reform respectively. North Korea is such a repressive and poor country, it’s hard to even know where to begin. Furthermore, there are entire books about how life in the Soviet Union sucked.

In Cambodia (this one is cool because my family fled this genocide so that’s why we all live in America now), under the communist Khmer Rouge, not only did they manage to kill off as much of a quarter of the population, but the mass murder, starvation, and torture got so out of hand, communist Vietnam had to intervene with military force. Vietnam is probably one of the more well-behaved communist nations; however, they still have a repressive one-party state and much like China, their current economic success is directly attributed to market reforms. In other words, becoming less communist and more capitalist.

It is simply puzzling that in all these regimes that purport to represent the proletariat, they end up doing more to impoverish and oppress the working class than even the most sadistic capitalist. In hindsight, it really isn’t that difficult of a question. As mentioned before, any government that does not protect individual rights, open markets, and constraints on power is not only a recipe for disaster but a moral tragedy.

In liberal democracies, like the United States, there is much talk about the consent of the governed to which governments derive their legitimacy. We already have trouble justifying the impositions that we live under as truly consensual. Such a notion cannot even remotely exist in a Communist regime or any authoritarian regime for that matter.

There is not a single country that adopted Communism or moved in its direction that was able to provide the standards of living and prosperity found in a free and open society like the United States. In fact, that bar is too high, because not a single one has produced any sort of relative prosperity without some sort of market reform, and not a single one can produce a human rights record that doesn’t make the problems in freer countries look like child’s play.

The Basics of Governance

It has become fashionable for some, like the Chinese Communist Party and all those around the world who share their sentiments, to call for a system of moral relativism when it comes to governments. Respect the rights of governments, not individuals. Such a way of thinking believes that the world must be inclusive of different types of political systems, from the freest to the most oppressive. It eschews any sort of moral foundation when it comes to the rights of individuals or sound economic thinking. It subscribes to the fantasy that different political systems work for different countries.

This is empirically false, which is why the current rules-based international order holds that human rights and open markets are the universal standards for good state conduct.

Take a look at any economic freedom index. There is a powerful correlation between prosperity and free markets. Objective metrics such as infant mortality rates, educational attainment, calorie consumption, life expectancy, and other desirable indicators are all better in richer countries than poorer countries. Basic political science and legal theory tell us that checks and balances are necessary for an accountable government, whether that be preventing the arbitrary use of power or full-on massacres.

Think about it; qualified immunity, a doctrine granting protections for police in the United States against being sued for infringing on a private citizen’s rights, already causes enough problems here. Imagine if an entire government had such privileges? A restrained and gridlocked government is far preferable to an unrestrained and power-drunk one.

Finally, there’s the basic truth that governments cannot run society; they merely exist to facilitate a productive natural order by securing rights and establishing peace. Commerce, invention, culture, and trade arises spontaneously without central dictate. This is why societies in command economies like Maoist China were incredibly bleak and drab. This is also why former Soviet Union president Boris Yeltsin was so amazed and awestruck when he visited a grocery store in the United States. The New Haven Register notes,

“He told his fellow Russians in his entourage that if their people, who often must wait in line for most goods, saw the conditions of U.S. supermarkets, there would be a revolution.”

Key Takeaways

People will always try to find some superficial reason for why a Communist state is failing, whether it’s because of sanctions, resource shortages, inflation, civil unrest, or what have you. These are all fine and good but they ultimately fail to see the elephant in the room. Or in this case, the highly authoritarian, oppressive, and economically incompetent system in place.

We live in an age where ignorance is a choice when it comes to the superiority of a free and open society. The quicker we stop averting our eyes and look at the facts, the quicker we can move towards a world where every individual, regardless of their geographical and political fortune, can live free and prosper.

*****

This article was published on July 17, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from AIER, American Institute for Economic Research.

Biden Administration Wants to Silence People They Don’t Agree With

“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.” Those were the words of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last week, and they should send chills up and down your spine. It’s bad enough that we already have Big Tech playing speech police on a daily basis. Now, the federal government is flagging “problematic […]
The post Biden Administration Wants to Silence People They Don’t Agree With appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.” Those were the words of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last week, and they should send chills up and down your spine. It’s bad enough that we already have Big Tech playing speech police on a daily basis. Now, the federal government is flagging “problematic
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“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”

Those were the words of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last week, and they should send chills up and down your spine. It’s bad enough that we already have Big Tech playing speech police on a daily basis. Now, the federal government is flagging “problematic posts” FOR Facebook?!?

But this level of government censorship and collusion doesn’t stop with Facebook. Psaki turned around the next day to say that if you’re banned from one social media platform, you should be banned from them all. And she admits that the White House hasn’t taken any options off the table when it comes to exercising more control over social media platforms. For the record, that also appears to include censorship of your text messages. (That’s right. They’re even trying to get your phone carrier involved).

So, just to recap. The federal government, which is supposed to uphold the U.S. Constitution, is actively aiding social media companies in censoring and banning Americans. Has anyone in the Biden administration read the First Amendment?

Surely President Biden must have at some point. After all, he’s been in public office since the 1970s. But Biden took it a to a whole other level, accusing Facebook of “killing people” for allowing “COVID misinformation.” That’s certainly an interesting attack considering Facebook has been a willing partner in censoring people. But apparently, the social media giant hasn’t gone far enough for President Biden’s tastes.

So, what exactly do the Democrats mean by “misinformation”? And what posts have the Biden administration flagged as such? Predictably, Psaki would not commit an answer, maneuvering around the question like a skilled tap dancer.

But Jen Psaki doesn’t have to say it for us. The reality is that this has nothing to do with COVID. Democrats and Big Tech have one goal in mind. They want to silence conservatives like you. Just look at what’s taken place this past year:

Google-owned YouTube de-platformed the pro-life group LifeSiteNews without explanation.
YouTube demonetized The Epoch Times, an independent news media that doesn’t claim a party affiliation.
Facebook deleted conservative actor Kevin Sorbo’s page without telling him why.
Twitter shut down MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell
Google, Apple, and Amazon teamed up to remove the Parler app from the internet for a period of time.
And Twitter banned President Trump while he was still the President of the United States with Facebook extending its ban of Trump to at least two more years this past June.

The list could go even further. But one thing is clear. The Biden administration isn’t even pretending anymore. They want an internet crack down on people they don’t agree with, and they’re using COVID as their excuse.

This is outrageous, and it’s incredibly dangerous.

If the government is allowed to decide who is banned from the public square today, what does that look like tomorrow? Or four years from now? Or a decade from now?

And what does it look like if your preferred party isn’t in power?

This should not only concern Republicans, but Democrats, Independents, and anyone who values free speech. Because if the Biden administration get its way, criminalizing speech could be next.

*****

This article was published on July 22, 2021 at the Arizona Free Enterprise Club.

Arizona, Missouri Lead Coalition To Protect Second Amendment Rights in New York

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced he and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt are leading a coalition of 26 states to defend Second Amendment rights at the U.S. Supreme Court. In their amicus brief in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett, the state attorneys general urged the court “to declare New York’s […]
The post Arizona, Missouri Lead Coalition To Protect Second Amendment Rights in New York appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced he and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt are leading a coalition of 26 states to defend Second Amendment rights at the U.S. Supreme Court. In their amicus brief in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett, the state attorneys general urged the court “to declare New York’s
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Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced he and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt are leading a coalition of 26 states to defend Second Amendment rights at the U.S. Supreme Court.

In their amicus brief in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett, the state attorneys general urged the court “to declare New York’s subjective-issue firearm license regime unconstitutional.”

New York’s subjective-issue concealed carry permit laws require an individual seeking a concealed permit to carry a firearm outside the home to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession.”

The laws require residents of New York “to prove that they have already been a victim of violent crimes before they may protect themselves from potentially becoming victims of violent crimes,” according to the attorney general’s office.

Brnovich called these laws a threat to public safety and violation of Second Amendment rights.

“Law-abiding citizens should not require the consent of faceless bureaucrats to exercise their right to keep and bear arms,” Brnovich said in a news release.

The coalition’s brief contains examples of citizens in good legal standing who were denied permits after demonstrating a need in order to demonstrate that New York’s “proper cause” requirement bans nearly all citizens from acquiring arms, Brnovich’s office said.

The brief holds that if the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling is upheld, “the liberty of citizens in every State, not just New York” will be threatened.

The 28 attorneys general agreed the original meaning of the Second Amendment gave Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense outside their homes. They cited the Supreme Court’s Heller v. D.C. decision, saying the holding was that “the federal constitution ‘guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation’” and that the decision clarified that any prohibition that “makes it impossible for citizens” to engage in self-defense violates the Second Amendment.

Arizona, along with 42 other states, have objective-issue systems where a permit is issued to an individual who meets a certain set of objective criteria, such as a background check, mental health records check, fingerprinting, knowledge of applicable laws and firearms training, according to the attorney general’s office.

Brnovich cited the success of Arizona’s objective-issue regime, writing that Arizona implemented a licensed concealed carry regime in 1994 and a right-to-carry for all law-abiding citizens without a license requirement in 2010. He said that while Arizona saw 10.5 murders per 100,000 people in 1994, by 2016, Arizona’s murder rate was 5.5 per 100,000, nearly matching the national rate of 5.3.

The brief offered empirical evidence that citizens who are concealed carry holders are significantly less likely than the general public to commit a crime and argued that objective-issue permitting and concealed carry permits generally decrease crime. The attorneys general cited a 2013 review by the National Research Council that reveals victims of crime who resist with a gun are less likely to suffer serious injury than victims who either resist in other ways or offer no resistance at all.

“New York cannot override the Second Amendment or the natural right of self-preservation,” Brnovich said. “I will continue to vigorously protect Americans’ constitutional rights.”

*****

This article was published on July 21, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

New Book Shows Top U.S. General Comparing Trump Supporters To Nazis Seeking A ‘Coup’

Anyone who looked at the events of 2020 and projected a coup attempt onto Donald Trump has no place in senior government leadership, let alone a Dairy Queen serving Blizzards. What better way to know the U.S. military is compromised—aside from racially extremist training and leftist propaganda videos—than when its top officer ignores widespread violence […]
The post New Book Shows Top U.S. General Comparing Trump Supporters To Nazis Seeking A ‘Coup’ appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.Anyone who looked at the events of 2020 and projected a coup attempt onto Donald Trump has no place in senior government leadership, let alone a Dairy Queen serving Blizzards. What better way to know the U.S. military is compromised—aside from racially extremist training and leftist propaganda videos—than when its top officer ignores widespread violence
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Anyone who looked at the events of 2020 and projected a coup attempt onto Donald Trump has no place in senior government leadership, let alone a Dairy Queen serving Blizzards.

What better way to know the U.S. military is compromised—aside from racially extremist training and leftist propaganda videos—than when its top officer ignores widespread violence from one political faction while calling isolated violence from another a “coup”?

CNN, an outlet we know from sinking ratings is having an identity crisis post-Trump, published a preview last week of a new book titled “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. The 2,300-word piece declares as follows about Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley.

The book recounts how for the first time in modern US history the nation’s top military officer, whose role is to advise the president, was preparing for a showdown with the commander in chief because he feared a coup attempt after Trump lost the November election …The authors explain Milley’s growing concerns that personnel moves that put Trump acolytes in positions of power at the Pentagon after the November 2020 election, including the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the resignation of Attorney General William Barr, were the sign of something sinister to come.

I am sure these Pulitzer-Prize winning writers might even strike up a film deal with their 592-page Trump Derangement Syndrome manual. Anyone who looked at the events of 2020 and projected a coup attempt onto Donald Trump has no place in senior government leadership, let alone a Dairy Queen serving Blizzards.

“They may try, but they’re not going to f-cking succeed,” Milley is quoted as telling his deputies, according to Leonnig and Rucker. “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with the guns.” He also reportedly told his aides, “This is a Reichstag moment. The gospel of the Führer.”

Yes, this is Milley juxtaposing elected oversight of the U.S. military with the government of Adolf Hitler. What sound military leadership and strategic guidance can a general provide if he has determined that the president of the United States is comparable to a dictator who killed approximately 6 million people?

Let’s not forget who Milley is. This is the same left-wing media darling who said unironically in congressional testimony that “white rage” was behind the Capitol breach, deflecting on the military’s relationship with critical race theory (CRT). “White rage” was coined in Emory University professor Carol Anderson’s 2016 book “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide” as “the operational function of white supremacy” that “undermine[s] African American achievement and advancement.”

Let that sink in. The highest-ranking and most senior official in the U.S. military not only believes in white privilege but also that such privilege could lead to the president coordinating a coup upon losing the election. Notwithstanding that the breach began 20 minutes before Trump even finished speaking that Wednesday afternoon, it is vital that we clarify one fact.

January 6 was not an insurrection, nor a coup. According to eyewitnesses and visual evidence such as live streamed videos, the Capitol breach was a riot perpetrated by a small minority of a large crowd of mostly peaceful demonstrators.

Whereas the Capitol breach was a largely disorganized meandering of MAGA-hat flag-wavers taking pictures in Democrat offices, a coup is an attempt to violently overthrow the government. No serious person can say, based on the available evidence, that the individuals in the Capitol that day aimed to destroy our republic, or even to harm public officials. The only person purposefully killed that day was an unarmed civilian shot by security forces. Jan. 6 was a stupid stunt, not a coup.

Milley’s characterization of this event, according to the book, tells a different story. Speaking to senior leaders in preparation for President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, he once more compared his fellow countrymen to Nazis.

“Here’s the deal guys: These guys are Nazis,” he said, “they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II. We’re going to put a ring of steel around this city and the Nazis aren’t getting in.”

They put a ring of steel around the city alright. It took six months for the government to take down the metal fencing around the Capitol, and the left still mendaciously seeks a 9/11-style commission. The FBI claimed to strike gold when they confiscated a riot suspect’s LEGO set three weeks ago.

It’s long past time to tell it like it is. The U.S. military, illustrated by Milley’s testimony likening national security threats from China and Russia to “climate change” and “infrastructure,” has mangled priorities. Milley is a symptom of institutional decay. 

*****

This article was published on July 19, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Federalist.

How Democrats Could Steal the Midterms

By now everyone with two working brain cells knows, or pretends not to know, that Democrats cheated on a colossal scale to get Whisperin’ Joe into the White House.  So it’s safe to say that Republicans, having wised up to the Donks’ stratagems and skullduggery, will capture both House and Senate in next year’s midterms.  Right?  Yes.  That is, […]
The post How Democrats Could Steal the Midterms appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.By now everyone with two working brain cells knows, or pretends not to know, that Democrats cheated on a colossal scale to get Whisperin’ Joe into the White House.  So it’s safe to say that Republicans, having wised up to the Donks’ stratagems and skullduggery, will capture both House and Senate in next year’s midterms.  Right?  Yes.  That is,
The post How Democrats Could Steal the Midterms appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.Read MoreFeedzyEstimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

By now everyone with two working brain cells knows, or pretends not to know, that Democrats cheated on a colossal scale to get Whisperin’ Joe into the White House.  So it’s safe to say that Republicans, having wised up to the Donks’ stratagems and skullduggery, will capture both House and Senate in next year’s midterms.  Right?  Yes.  That is, assuming elections actually take place on November 8, 2022.

Who doubts that Democrats, with a death grip on power now, are capable of anything to keep Pelosi and Schumer on top and Biden’s cabal in the White House calling the shots?  Well, in a takeaway from those absconding Dem Texas legislators, you can’t be defeated if you don’t show up for the game.

Fixing a presidential election proved simple; given the number of candidates involved, rigging midterms would be a reach.  An alternative?  Regarding national contests, things get complicated, but here are two money quotes from a 2004 Congressional Research Service report on federal elections: Congress would have the power, by statute, to “postpone … House and Senate elections,” and “Congress could enact a statute delegating the authority to postpone an election to the Executive Branch.”  Justification for either action?  “Terrorism,” “calamitous events,” and the ambiguous “national emergency” — such as, say, civil disorder on a massive scale leading up to Election Day.

Consider this scenario: on November 6, 2022, two days before federal elections, mayhem breaks out in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and other blue cities across the country.  Masked provocateurs roam the streets, damaging property, assaulting innocents, fighting the police officers confronting them, and targeting polling stations for burning.  To sow confusion, a few are wearing MAGA hats.  Mayors and governors appear caught by surprise and announce that it will take days to get the National Guard in to quell disturbances.

The left and its allies in the media will highlight the disturbances and accuse white supremacists and Trump sympathizers of fomenting unrest in hopes of dissuading voters from leaving home to cast ballots for Democrat House and Senate candidates.  The January 6, 2021 “insurrection” idiocy (with American citizens in custody for months for trespassing) will be revived by the MSM to muddy the waters….

*****

Continue reading this article published July 20, 2021 at American Thinker.

Fact-Checking 6 Claims at Senate Democrats’ Voting Law Hearing

Senate Democrats took their push to nullify state election laws on the road Monday, holding a “field hearing” in Atlanta to attack Georgia’s recent election reforms and promote their bill to eliminate voter ID and other requirements. Only Democrat members of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee showed up to question witnesses, also all Democrats. […]
The post Fact-Checking 6 Claims at Senate Democrats’ Voting Law Hearing appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.Senate Democrats took their push to nullify state election laws on the road Monday, holding a “field hearing” in Atlanta to attack Georgia’s recent election reforms and promote their bill to eliminate voter ID and other requirements. Only Democrat members of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee showed up to question witnesses, also all Democrats.
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Senate Democrats took their push to nullify state election laws on the road Monday, holding a “field hearing” in Atlanta to attack Georgia’s recent election reforms and promote their bill to eliminate voter ID and other requirements.

Only Democrat members of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee showed up to question witnesses, also all Democrats.

Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Republicans had the opportunity to call a witness to defend the Georgia law, but didn’t request one. A spokesperson for the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., didn’t respond Monday to The Daily Signal’s emails and phone inquiries on this point.

The hearing, held at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, included numerous assertions, some true, but others debunked in previous fact checks.

Here’s a look at six big claims from the hearing in Atlanta, which Democrats titled “Protecting the Vote.”

1. ‘Hurdles’ to Ballot Drop Boxes

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., isn’t a member of the Rules and Administration Committee, but was the first witness in his home state. Warnock, who took office in January, criticized Georgia’s election reform law for “reducing the number of drop boxes where voters can return those ballots.”

Klobuchar jumped in later to say, “If you’re looking for evil, you can find it pretty easily” in the Georgia law.

“Drop-off boxes cannot stay open beyond the time of the early voting,” Klobuchar said, adding, “Some of these voters were working day and night, several jobs, then they can’t go to a drop-off box.”

The fact is that ballot drop boxes weren’t used in Georgia nor in most other states before the 2020 election, which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia election officials provided drop boxes to collect voters’ ballots based on Gov. Brian Kemp’s emergency order to address voting concerns during the pandemic.

But for Senate Bill 202, passed by Georgia lawmakers, officials wouldn’t have to provide drop boxes in future elections. That said, fewer drop boxes will be available as those elections presumably take place without a pandemic.

Also, the new law restricts voting by drop box to hours when early in-person voting is available.

Each county in Georgia must provide at least one drop box under the law. But boxes will have to be located near early-voting sites and be accessible for dropping off absentee ballots when those polling locations are open.

2. ‘Big Lie’

Democrat senators and witnesses argued that the law in Georgia and other election reforms across the United States were prompted by former President Donald Trump’s claim that his election loss in November to President Joe Biden was fraudulent.

“We saw record-breaking voter turnout in our last elections—participation that should have been celebrated—get attacked by craven politicians, and, spurred on by the big lie, these same actors are now rolling back voting rights in a way that is unprecedented in size and scope since the Jim Crow era,” Warnock said.

Biden beat Trump by about 12,000 votes out of 4.9 million cast, according to official final results, to win Georgia’s 16 electoral votes.

Georgia state Rep. Bill Mitchell, a Democrat and president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, called the November election a major success.

“I define its success not by our candidates’ winning their elections, but by the fact that when you have as many people vote as we did in the 2020 election cycle, with as few problems, with all challenges being dismissed—you have to consider that to be successful,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell later said “The Heritage Foundation and others” were pushing election reform legislation.

The Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.

“When you have the highest levels of voter participation, combined with the lowest levels of challenges, why would you want to change that?” Mitchell said.

However, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week reported that digital ballot images show that Fulton County election officials scanned about 200 ballots two times in the November election. Skeptics of the election results argue that apparent double counting is evidence of a need for a closer examination of ballots in Georgia. 

The newspaper noted that the discovery was unlikely to change the election results in Georgia. But some conservative commentators, such as Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson, expressed concern about the finding.

The duplication of at least 200 ballots is evidence of problems with tallying votes in Georgia, but far from proof that the state’s election results were affected in Biden’s favor. 

3. ‘Adequate Polling Locations’

One of the more compelling witnesses was neither a lawmaker nor an activist, but a voter named Jose Segarra. The Air Force veteran told his story of waiting in line for hours.

“I, along with thousands of Georgians, had to wait for hours in order to cast my vote in the 2020 general election,” he said.

“Our government needs to ensure that we have adequate systems and processes in place to allow every eligible voter to cast their ballot without such undue burdens,” Segarra said without specifying federal or state government, adding:

To do this, we need to have an adequate number of polling locations and these locations to be properly resourced and open for as expansive a period as possible. Voters should have the opportunity to vote on Saturdays and Sundays. Lots of people work on Saturdays, so Sundays need to be an option. It would also make it much easier for some people to vote if Election Day were a federal holiday.

Georgia’s new election law does provide “additional voting equipment or poll workers to precincts containing more than 2,000 electors.”

The law added early voting on two Saturdays and one Sunday that previously were not available to Georgians, stating:

Requiring two Saturday voting days and two optional Sunday voting days will dramatically increase the total voting hours for voters across the state of Georgia, and all electors in Georgia will have access to multiple opportunities to vote in person on the weekend for the first time.

Under the new law, counties in Georgia have flexibility to open early voting for as long as from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., or from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at minimum.

Previously, some rural counties didn’t provide for early voting for eight hours on a workday, The Washington Post reported.

Thus, the law actually expanded hours for early voting. 

4. ‘Mass Challenges’

Warnock announced new legislation he is co-sponsoring with fellow Senate Democrats Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Mark Warner of Virginia, and Jon Ossoff of Georgia. Ossoff, like Warnock, took office in January after defeating a Republican incumbent in a special election.

The legislation, called the Preventing Election Subversion Act, seeks to prevent the overturning of elections based on mass challenges or by legislators controlling the makeup of a state board of elections.

The proposal is tied directly to provisions that Warnock said are in SB 202, the basis of Georgia’s new law.

Warnock said Georgia’s law would let “a single person make unlimited, mass challenges to the ability of other Georgians to vote, clearing the way for baseless accusations.”

The language of the law does make it more difficult for government officials to outright dismiss a complaint about election procedures and ballots. Specifically, it says:

Any elector [voter] of a county or municipality may challenge the qualifications of any person applying to register to vote in the county or municipality and may challenge the qualifications of any elector of the county or municipality whose name appears on the list of electors. Such challenges shall be in writing and shall specify distinctly the grounds of the challenge.

There shall not be a limit on the number of persons whose qualifications such elector may challenge. Upon such challenge being filed with the [local] board of registrars, the registrars shall set a hearing on such challenge within ten business days after serving notice of the challenge.

As another justification for his legislation, Warnock argued that Georgia’s new law “allows partisan officials in the state Legislature to control our state board of elections and take over local election administrators, and it allows them to engage in these takeovers even as the votes are still being cast.”

The Associated Press reported in March that under the new law, the Legislature does indeed have an increased role in the State Election Board, but it can’t overturn elections at a whim, as Warnock seemed to suggest. 

Georgia’s elected secretary of state has a diminished role in elections under the new law. This is the basis for Democrats’ claim that partisan politics could play a role.

“The secretary of state will no longer chair the State Election Board, becoming instead a non-voting ex-officio member,” Georgia Public Broadcasting explained in a report. “The new chair would be nonpartisan but appointed by a majority of the state House and Senate. The chair would not be allowed to have been a candidate, participate in a political party organization or campaign or [have] made campaign contributions for two years prior to being appointed.”

5. ‘Rushed Through’

Georgia state Sen. Sally Harrell, D-Dunwoody, said the Republican-sponsored law lacked adequate input from Democrats in the state Legislature.

“Election bills were rushed through without public input and voted out along party lines,” Harrell said. “Questions addressed to bill authors by minority members were frequently answered dishonestly and disrespectfully. … In the nine years I have served in the [Georgia] General Assembly, I have never seen such blatant disregard for the legislative process as I did with the passage of SB 202.”

Previous media reporting shows the legislation moved quickly through the Legislature to Kemp’s desk. Questioning this speed has been a consistent line among critics, including the U.S. Justice Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who is leading the federal lawsuit against Georgia’s voting law, has said the bill was “a rushed process that departed from normal practice and procedure.”

“The version of the bill that passed the state Senate … was three pages long,” Clarke said in June during a press conference announcing the litigation. “Days later, the bill ballooned into over 90 pages in the House. The House held less than two hours of floor debate on the newly inflated SB 202 before Gov. Kemp signed it into law the same day.”

6.  Water Bottles, Ballot Harvesting

Warnock also complained that Georgia’s election law is “making it harder for community organizations to assist voters, whether from requesting a ballot to just handing out a bottle of water.”

The law prohibits campaign workers from distributing food, drink, or anything else of value to waiting voters, and from setting up a table within 150 feet of the building or 25 feet of a voter.

However, the law specifically allows official poll workers, as opposed to campaign workers, to provide water to voters. 

As for the “community organizations” Warnock cited, the law prohibits ballot harvesting, a controversial practice in which  political operatives obtain large numbers of ballots from election officials and then deliver the ballots to those officials once they’ve been voted.

The practice has been used to achieve fraud in several elections, among them a North Carolina congressional race later overturned in court and a Texas mayor’s race that led to multiple indictments.

*****

This article was published on July 19, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from Daily Signal.

Getting Red In Your Ed

It is well known that America’s schoolchildren are woefully ignorant of their national history and government. Majorities of young adults no longer feel grateful to be an American, undoubtedly because they fail to comprehend the precious freedoms to which they were born. So are the teacher’s unions who educate our children concerned about this deplorable […]
The post Getting Red In Your Ed appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.It is well known that America’s schoolchildren are woefully ignorant of their national history and government. Majorities of young adults no longer feel grateful to be an American, undoubtedly because they fail to comprehend the precious freedoms to which they were born. So are the teacher’s unions who educate our children concerned about this deplorable
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It is well known that America’s schoolchildren are woefully ignorant of their national history and government. Majorities of young adults no longer feel grateful to be an American, undoubtedly because they fail to comprehend the precious freedoms to which they were born.

So are the teacher’s unions who educate our children concerned about this deplorable situation? Do they have a plan to correct it? You know the answer.

Instead, the National Education Association recently voted to ensure that all American school children are comprehensively taught Critical Race Theory. This is the unscientific notion that white people are inherently, incorrigibly racist and thus America’s foundational values were and are bigotry and racial oppression.

As the NEA puts it, “all K – 12 schools should teach children that White supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-indigenity, racism, patriarchy, capitalism, and anthropocentrism form the foundation of our society“. Furthermore “to deny opportunities to teach truth about Black, Brown and other marginal races minimizes the necessity for students to build efficacy”.

Not sure what that last means, but basically nobody is trying to prevent teaching about slavery, Jim Crow or the struggles racial minorities have faced. It should be balanced with the recognition that America has come a long way in correcting injustices and that there are boundless reasons to feel pride and love for our country.

The NEA means business. They’re allocating a $127,000 addition to normal operating funds to push CRT. More ominously, this allocation includes funding an “opposition research” effort meant to smear parents and organizations opposed to racist propagandizing of their children. Charming.

These same unions also spearheaded the effort to keep schools closed long after it was known that school children were neither the victims nor spreaders of serious Covid disease. They demanded political favors, like forcing private schools to also close and limiting new charter schools, as the ransom for their return to the work they were being paid to do. Some schools are not open even yet.

The results of their mulish selfishness are trickling in. It’s bad. Students in every grade are failing classes and falling behind.

Preliminary research suggests that students will return with less than 50% of normal learning gains in math and under 70% in other subjects. Since these are averages, disadvantaged and disabled learners will fare even worse. Catching up this much academically is difficult, if not impossible. It will take years if ever, to undo the damage.

Meanwhile, our nation’s teachers’ unions are doubling down on the effort to turn public schools into centers for radical indoctrination. History is now taught as the ceaseless struggle between oppressors and victims. A substitution of “race” for “class“ is the only deviation from classical Marxist theory.

Students in biology are taught that gender is merely a social construct and that they are free to select theirs “don’t let anyone tell you otherwise“. Math instruction is threatened by “social justice“ warriors who deem requiring one correct answer and showing your work to be “white“.

Great literary works are being culled, and our history obliterated, for lack of adherence to modern standards of political correctness. Shakespeare and Steinbeck are among those facing permanent removal.

Some teachers are refusing to teach “To Kill a Mockingbird“ because of racist language and the depiction of a “white savior“. That’s rich. Arguably the most influential anti-racist novel of modern times is shunned because Atticus is a decent white man who helps blacks and that doesn’t fit CRT’s malignant stereotypes.

In a few months, they’ve gone from claiming CRT isn’t taught in K-12 to insisting that instruction must be universal. Fortunately, grassroots and parent groups are waking up and fighting back. They should consider resisting not only objectionable courses of instruction, but the politicized education system that creates them.

Clear majorities, including 75% to 85% of minority parents, favor charter schools and other forms of school choice. Yet there is stiff political resistance to reforms like Educational Savings Accounts, which empower parents. Arizona’s legislative Democrats this session voted unanimously to deny parents these options, thus denying them leverage in their dealings with unresponsive unions and schools.

So is public education meant to benefit the big people or the little people?

*****
Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute.

Dangerous Infrastructure Bill: Flooding America’s Suburbs with High-Density Housing Projects

This proposal… amounts to “abolishing the suburbs” by making them more like cities. Apartment buildings…. could be built in the middle of any suburban neighborhood, and there is nothing you could do to stop it. A housing project could be built next door to your home. One-acre lots could be subdivided to cram in as […]
The post Dangerous Infrastructure Bill: Flooding America’s Suburbs with High-Density Housing Projects appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.This proposal… amounts to “abolishing the suburbs” by making them more like cities. Apartment buildings…. could be built in the middle of any suburban neighborhood, and there is nothing you could do to stop it. A housing project could be built next door to your home. One-acre lots could be subdivided to cram in as
The post Dangerous Infrastructure Bill: Flooding America’s Suburbs with High-Density Housing Projects appeared first on PRICKLY PEAR.Read MoreFeedzyEstimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

This proposal… amounts to “abolishing the suburbs” by making them more like cities.
Apartment buildings…. could be built in the middle of any suburban neighborhood, and there is nothing you could do to stop it. A housing project could be built next door to your home. One-acre lots could be subdivided to cram in as many houses as possible.
They claim that cities are undesirable places to live because they are crowded, hot, and lack nature, so it is unfair that people have to live there. Ironically, their solution seems to be to make more of them….
Worse, local governments presumably know what is best for their communities. That is why communities have local governments rather than a federal government deciding everything for everyone. If residents desired different zoning, their officials would have already made those changes on their own…..That is probably why it is being hidden within a massive bill and not talked about.
The federal government has no power to force this change, but the president has floated withholding federal money that towns rely on for things like roads unless the towns comply…. What town can afford to lose all federal transportation dollars — funded with taxes that they pay?..,, Basically, it is not far from extortion.
Most cities, and most low-income people, vote for Democrats. For politicians, this means that if you can make the countryside into cities, in 10 years, everyone will be voting for only one party.
Many counties will find it hard to resist the temptation to take the cash. But in the long-term they are saddling themselves with a huge influx of poverty whose financial effects will outweigh any grants. Of course, they will also completely change the aesthetics and culture of the neighborhood — and irrevocably alter its political makeup.

Interview with Luke Rosiak, an investigative reporter with The Daily Wire. He warns of a little-noticed provision in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal that could have major consequences for how people will be forced to live — and for a political power-grab in the country.

Gatestone Institute: President Joe Biden’s “infrastructure” proposal says that money granted to towns and counties will come with a condition: eliminating “prohibitions on multifamily housing” and zoning restrictions such as “minimum lot sizes.” This proposal, it has been said, amounts to “abolishing the suburbs” by making them more like cities.

Rosiak: Yes. Apartment buildings as well as duplexes — essentially carving up suburban homes into multiple apartment units — could be built in the middle of any suburban neighborhood, and there is nothing you could do to stop it. A housing project could be built next door to your home. One-acre lots could be subdivided to cram in as many houses as possible. If you bought into a neighborhood of one-acre lots and enjoy a bit of privacy, your neighbor could soon be able to sell his acre to a real estate developer who could put eight buildings on it.

GI: What is the purpose of this?

Rosiak: As USA Today put it: “A house with a white picket fence and a big backyard for a Fourth of July barbecue may be a staple of the American dream, but experts and local politicians say multifamily zoning is key to combating climate change, racial injustice, and the nation’s growing affordable housing crisis.” As part of the administration’s desired $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, “cities would allow… apartment buildings with fewer than six units to be built next to a traditional house….”

Part of the “purpose” is the claim that we need to spread out poverty to make things more “equitable.” They claim that cities are undesirable places to live because they are crowded, hot, and lack nature, so it is unfair that people have to live there. Ironically, their solution seems to be to make more of them by cutting down trees in the suburbs and putting up tall buildings. They also claim it will help the environment because if Americans live more densely, they are more likely to take mass transit and use fewer cars.

GI: Is this what Americans want? More poverty and increased population density in their suburbs?

Rosiak: Plenty of Americans love the big-city lifestyle; but they are already living in cities. Many other Americans have chosen big backyards for their kids to play in and to have some privacy. If you moved into a neighborhood based on certain expectations – whether it was one house on each quarter-acre, half-acre, or acre – you likely do not want that thrown out the window. With rising crime rates and remote work, people’s preferences have actually been shifting to moving even further out in the country, to have even more space than before.

Worse, local governments presumably know what is best for their communities.

That is why communities have local governments rather than a federal government deciding everything for everyone. If residents desired different zoning, their officials would have already made those changes on their own. This tells you that the move will most likely be horrifically unpopular among voters of both parties. That is probably why it is being hidden within a massive bill and not talked about.

The federal government has no power to force this change, but the president has floated withholding federal money that towns rely on for things like roads unless the towns comply.

President Biden’s campaign platform called to “Eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination” through a bill called the HOME Act. It would make “surface transportation funding and community development block grants contingent on” eliminating policies such as “ordinances that ban apartment buildings from certain residential areas or set a minimum lot size for a single-family home.’” What town can afford to lose all federal transportation dollars — funded with taxes that they pay?

Since the infrastructure bill is sending billions of dollars to local governments, the administration appears to be using it for the same purpose, saying that local governments will not be eligible for some of this money unless they make zoning changes. Basically, it is not far from extortion.

GI: So the administration wants to turn the suburbs into cities? Why would a political party want to do that?

Rosiak: Most cities, and most low-income people, vote for Democrats. For politicians, this means that if you can make the countryside into cities, in 10 years, everyone will be voting for only one party. In fact, one of the best predictors of how a person will vote is population density. If you live on an acre or more, you are probably a Republican, and if you live in a high-density area, there is a good chance you are a Democrat.

Politically, control of America comes down to the suburbs. Right now, they are the only areas that are “purple.” If you can move residents of the suburbs to the “left” by 10 points by adding high-density housing, then you have secured permanent political control.

Many voters will be furious, but to the politicians, that will not matter: the new residents are sure to give one party the majority it wants. That is what the infrastructure bill conditions are really about: securing a one-party control of government. Who’s in charge of your county or town is incredibly important: it determines criminal justice policy, school boards, and spending. The population shift could also tip congressional seats and impact the electoral college. And of course, added high-density housing could also come with traffic, never-ending construction, crime, and gangs.

GI: Is this infrastructure bill a done deal?

Rosiak: It is still in the negotiations stage, and details have so far been essentially secret. But the current administration has repeatedly said it intends to include zoning provisions along these lines, and other politicians have not given any indication that they understand the significance of what is being done or that they intend to fight it.

If a bill passes with these strings attached, suburbs are likely to go the way of Loudoun County, Virginia. Loudoun was a semi-rural community until a few years ago, when its local representatives permitted the construction of thousands of townhouses. The first thing the new residents did was to vote those representatives out and their representatives in. Now Loudoun County is more like San Francisco on the Potomac.

Many counties will find it hard to resist the temptation to take the cash. But in the long-term they are saddling themselves with a huge influx of poverty whose financial effects will outweigh any grants. Of course, they will also completely change the aesthetics and culture of the neighborhood — and irrevocably alter its political makeup.

The infrastructure provisions are not the only way the current administration is methodically seeking to increase the population density and poverty rate of suburbs. In June, the president signed an executive order affecting Department of Housing and Urban Development money, “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” with similar goals.

*****

This article/interview was conducted on July 15, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from Gatestone Institute.

The Adverse Economic Consequences of “Basic Income”

When I first looked at the issue of “basic income,” back in 2013, my gut reaction was deep skepticism.

That’s because I feared many people would drop out of the labor force if they could live off government handouts (as illustrated by this Wizard-of-Id parody).

It’s true that the current amalgamation of welfare programs also discourages work and creates dependency, but a government-provided basic income could make a bad situation worse.

Especially if politicians didn’t get rid of other redistribution programs (a very realistic concern).

That being said, what’s the evidence, either pro or con?

There was an experiment in Finland, which poured cold water on the concept.

And now we have some U.S.-focused research. Four economists from the University of Chicago (Mikhail Golosov, Michael Graber, Magne Mogstad, and David Novgorodsky) investigated this topic in a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Here’s a description of their methodology, which used lottery winnings as a proxy for the effect of government handouts.

How do Americans respond to idiosyncratic and exogenous changes in household wealth and unearned income? Economists and policymakers are keenly interested in this question…the earnings responses to such shocks are important…to assess the effects of public policy such as…universal basic income. However, giving a credible answer to this question has proven difficult…We analyze a wide range of individual and household responses to lottery winnings and explore the economic implications of these responses for a number of key questions…our analyses are based on a population-level panel data set which is constructed by combining the universe of worker tax records with third-party-reported lottery winnings.

And here are some of their results.

We find that Americans respond to an exogenous increase in household wealth by significantly reducing their employment and labor earnings. For an extra 100 dollars in wealth, households reduce their annual earnings by approximately 2.3 dollars on average… the introduction of a UBI will have a large effect on earnings and tax rates. For example, even if one abstracts from any disincentive effects from higher taxes that are needed to finance this transfer program, each dollar of UBI will reduce total earnings by at least 52 cents.

At the risk of understatement, this data should be the death knell for this bad idea.

Especially when you consider the impact of the higher tax rates that would be necessary to fund the basic income.

As illustrated by Figure 5.1 from the study, tax-financed handouts would be bad news for America’s economy.

Further, Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum for basic income back in 2016 (perhaps my speech in Switzerland convinced a few people?).

Interestingly, Joe Biden expressed skepticism about the idea back in 2017, but he obviously has had a change of heart, given his current support for big, per-child handouts.

*****

This article was published on July 8, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from AIER, American Institute for Economic Research.

The ATF’s Latest Proposed Regulation Could Make 40 Million Gun Owners Felons Overnight

This is a conspicuous confiscation of power, and it’s precisely what America’s founding fathers strove to avoid through the establishment of checks and balances.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has published a notice outlining their plans to update regulations on stabilizing braces.

Originally developed to help those with disabilities shoot comfortably, stabilizing braces have become a popular firearm accessory used to legally adapt AR-style pistols into guns that can be shot from the shoulder, like the highly regulated short-barreled rifle.

According to the ATF, stabilizing braces will now have to conform to a set of stringent guidelines to be considered legal. If they don’t meet those standards, they—and the gun to which they’re attached—will automatically become regulated as a rifle under the National Firearms Act.

This isn’t the first time the ATF or the DOJ have attempted to regulate this popular accessory. A similar reclassification was proposed back in December, but it was shot down due to uproar from lawmakers and the firearm community. However, after pistol-braced firearms were used in two recent, high-profile mass shootings, the ATF has circled back to the issue and seems more motivated than ever.

Immediate Pushback

After the ATF notice was published, more than 130 representatives penned a letter to the agency and called upon the bureau to withdraw the rule, stating that the “proposed guidance is alarming and jeopardizes the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Most importantly, the lawmakers reminded the ATF that for the last decade, it had asserted that there were legitimate uses for stabilizing braces, as the accessory was designed to aid disabled gun owners who enjoy recreational shooting.

“Should this guidance go into effect,” they wrote, “a disabled combat veteran who has chosen the best stabilizing brace for their disability is now a felon.”

In response, the ATF claimed that this new classification won’t impact braces designed to help those with disabilities. However, their proposed point-based worksheet of stabilizing brace criteria fails to make this clear for gun owners.

Intentionally Complicated?

At 52 pages, the intricate proposal is so lengthy and establishes such specific requirements that law-abiding citizens will have no idea if their firearm is still legal.

“Certain prerequisites,” the proposal reads, such as weapon weight and the overall length, “will be applied to determine if the firearm will even be considered as a possible pistol or immediately determined to be a rifle.”

Furthermore, “design factors that are more likely to demonstrate a manufacturer’s … intent to produce a ‘short-barreled rifle’ and market it as a ‘braced pistol’ accrue more points than those that reveal less evidence.”

A stabilizing brace that has accumulated too many points based on these criteria will be deemed a rifle, and therefore unlawful. Not only is this formula complicated, but there seems to be another hitch.

“The new factoring system,” remarks the NRA-ILA, “seems designed to ensure that few, if any, firearms can meet the criteria.”

Therefore, by classifying these braced pistols as Short Barreled Rifles, one of the most highly regulated guns on the market, the federal government is forcing 10-40 million law-abiding gun owners to surrender, destroy, or register their legal firearms … or face felony charges.

Avoiding Centralized Power

Essentially, the ATF is able to add rules and reclassify weapons without holding a single vote in Congress. As a result, this significant assault on the Second Amendment will not receive its due process.

This is a conspicuous confiscation of power, and it’s precisely what America’s founding fathers strove to avoid through the establishment of checks and balances.

The Constitution’s authors designed the United States government as three separate branches: the legislative, judicial, and executive. The legislative creates laws, the judicial determines their constitutionality, and the executive implements them.

In certain scenarios, each branch has the power to override the others and ensure that no branch of government is able to hold too much centralized power.

Unfortunately, through its unilateral proposal that would impact tens of millions of US gun owners, the ATF is violating the Separation of Powers designed by the Constitution to limit government overreach and protect individual rights.

A Timeless Warning

In Federalist No. 48, James Madison warned that “the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

This is exactly what is happening today.

This stealth power grab should concern all Americans, even if they are outside the immediately-impacted gun community.

*****

This article was published on July 12, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from FEE, Foundation for Economic Education

How One Man Leads the Charge Against Woke School Boards

When it comes to fighting back against woke indoctrination and critical race theory in schools, Ian Prior is perhaps the happiest of warriors.

Prior is executive director of Fight for Schools, an organization dedicated to exposing bad actors in the public school system in Loudoun County, Virginia, and mobilizing parents to improve education for their children.

“We want to have a school system where our teachers are shaping future leaders, mentally tough leaders, hardworking leaders, people that will do the best that they can to get where they need to be. And we don’t need to be dividing along these identity group lines,” Prior says.

Prior joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss his fight against a woke school board and offer advice to others addressing these and similar issues in their school districts.

Doug Blair: My guest today is Ian Prior, an outspoken advocate against critical race theory in Loudoun County schools. Ian is the executive director of Fight for Schools, senior counsel for Unsilenced Majority, as well as the co-founder of the Daily Malarkey daily newsletter.

Welcome to the show, Ian.

Ian Prior: Thanks for having me.

Blair: Right. So, as I mentioned at the top, you are the executive director of Fight for Schools, which is a group that is at the forefront of the war on the left in our schools. Can you tell our listeners a bit about what Fight for Schools does and why you decided to start it?

Prior: Yeah, sure. So, I’ll back up to the beginning of this story. Really was about last September, October that I started doing a little investigation into what was happening in Loudoun County Public Schools.

I’d seen a Washington Free Beacon article talking about how they were using Teaching Tolerance materials, which is an arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center. And I said, “It’s pretty political, why are schools getting involved in that?”

And ultimately, I did some research into this high-price consultant that they had hired to really start what they call their Equity Committee, their equity office, run focus groups throughout the schools, and do teacher trainings. Found out they spent about $500,000 on that.

Then there was a couple of other things I looked into, a proposed teacher code of conduct, which would have disciplined teachers for speaking out against what they thought was the wrong direction of the school system, even on their own private time.

So I ended up writing an op-ed combining those two things. And I spoke at a school board meeting, really on the First Amendment rights of teachers and students.

Fast-forward to March, they had this private Facebook group called “The Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County.” In that group, you had the commonwealth attorney for Loudoun County, you had a member of the board of supervisors, and you had six school board members, which is important because six school board members makes a quorum and turns this into what should be a public meeting.

In that private Facebook group, one of the school board members really kind of lit a fire saying, “We need to speak out against these people that are opposing critical race theory in schools.”

That ultimately led to a call to action from somebody in there that they needed to infiltrate these groups that were opposed to critical race theory, publicly expose them, and hack their websites either to shut them down or to direct them to pro-critical race theory websites.

And then ultimately what happened is dozens of parents were listed, not just those that were opposed to critical race theory, but those that had gone to school board meetings the previous year and into that spring speaking up for opening schools, people that were speaking on behalf of teacher and student First Amendment rights, and those that were opposed to critical race theory.

And it really created an uproar in the community. Certainly there was a lot of press on that. I was more than happy to engage in that because I think that kind of cancel culture behavior needs to be exposed and you can’t play defense with that.

But ultimately, we had about eight parents, a bipartisan group of parents, that met on a back deck in our neighborhood and really talked about, “What can we do? This school board has not been listening to parents throughout the entire opening schools controversy. Now they’re engaged in private Facebook groups discussing school-related material. They’ve just lost their way. They have no trust in the community.” And so we decided that we would form a political action committee, nonpartisan, call it “Fight for Schools.”

Blair: So Fight for Schools is a larger organization where parents can come together to fight the left, as you mentioned, it’s more of a thing where parents come together to do this. I’m curious if you see a role for individual activists on this issue, is there something that they can do? And if so, what is that role?

Prior: I think every individual really needs to look in the mirror when it comes to these local elections, and that’s the first step.

And I’ve said it before, I mean, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. We have let this happen to our local school boards, our state education department, where we’ve just assumed that they’re going to be nonpolitical and they’re going to focus on excellence in education, meritocracy, making sure that everybody has an equal opportunity to succeed and learn all the necessities to succeed in life.

What I’ve found now, and what all of us have found, is that’s not the case. Politics has bled into the local level, right under our very noses.

So for people that want to get involved, I would say, first speak at your school board meetings, find out what’s going on. Talk to your neighbors, talk to your children, most importantly, talk to their teachers. Use Freedom of Information Act requests to find out exactly what materials your students are learning.

I think the pandemic provided an excellent opportunity and really gave rise to this parents movement where people started seeing, “This is what my kids are being taught on their Chromebooks, at 5, 6, 7 years old,” and realizing that something’s rotten in the state of education.

And it’s important to follow up on those, writing letters to the editor when you have that information, communicating things to the media, doing all the things that really we’ve been doing.

It started as me because I’ve been working in this media relations business for a while now, but I think what you’ve seen out here is other parents have been speaking up, and now they have those contacts as well.

So, when you look at Loudoun—and people talk about Loudoun as ground zero, I also call it the “Loudoun awakening.” This is where everything is really lighting a spark throughout the nation. It’s right outside of Washington, D.C. A lot of policymakers live here, a lot of people that know how to get things done, they’re doers. And that’s why I think this movement here has taken off so quickly.

Blair: That’s fantastic. And I actually find it so fascinating that Loudoun County is this hot bed and sort of a ground zero for these kinds of activities. My next question was about that. Why does Loudoun County in particular seem to be such a hot bed for this activity?

We had the Tanner Cross saga where a PE teacher was suspended from school for basically saying, “Hey, I’m a Christian. I’m not going to refer to a transgender student by a different pronoun because it goes against my faith.” He gets suspended for that. You mentioned that there was this anti-[critical race theory] secret Facebook group. This seems to be something that happens quite a bit in Loudoun County. Why is it Loudoun County that has all these problems?

Prior: That’s a great question. And I obviously point the fingers at the school board and the superintendent. Every time I think that, “All right, things are going to die down a little bit, we can focus on collecting signatures,” something else happens that feeds right into what our message is.

And that is, you have a school system and a school board that is fully committed to their own ideology and anybody else that speaks out against it, they do not want to hear from—whether it’s a teacher coming on his own personal time to speak at an open comment period where they invited comments or it’s parents clapping for somebody that gave a speech and then them shutting down public comments.

A school committee in March said, right after this list-making occurrence, “We have the numbers. We can and will silence the opposition.”

I think there’s a lot of hostility to the First Amendment rights of students, parents, and teachers. And I think there’s a lot of disrespect to the parents that are going out there and really just simply trying to make their voices heard.

It’s unfortunate that you have these individuals out there in all levels of government that look at parents as their political enemies. It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to attack parents that are trying to speak up for what they believe is right.

But the fact is that you see it on social media and that’s really the devil, is how these politicians and these elected officials act on social media to their constituents. It’s really just gotten out of control. And I think that we’ve exposed a lot of how that works and we’re going to continue to do that.

Blair: So we’ve discussed some of these various things that the Loudoun County School Board and the Loudoun County school system have put forth in terms of radical leftist policies. In your opinion, what is the most egregious example of that? What can you point to as like, “Yep. This is the biggest issue”?

Prior: I think the biggest issue comes with how they train their teachers. They always say, “Well, we don’t teach critical race theory.” Well, no one’s saying that you teach Critical Race Theory 101. We understand that.

But what we’ve seen, especially through the documents that they use to train teachers, I mean, there’s one in particular that I think is probably the most grievous of all of them. It’s a chart, you’re either an oppressor and you’re in this column or you’re the oppressed and you’re in this column.

So obviously, if you’re white, you’re an oppressor … This one’s the craziest of all. If you’re a light-skinned individual of a minority race, you are an oppressor vis-a-vis a dark skin person of the same race. And that’s really what it’s about. It’s all about dividing along these lines and it’s absolute insanity.

Blair: I mean, yeah, that seems just absolutely crazy. I’m actually reading an article right now, referencing back to the Tanner Cross transgender issue. Virginia has basically said that local schools should probably start moving toward eliminating, quote, “gender-based practices,” which would say things like, “Oh, a father-daughter dance, that’s not OK anymore because it’s a gender-based practice. It offends somebody.” I mean, what do we do with this information? Like, how do we deal with this?

Prior: Yeah. I mean, it’s really insane that you have school systems that are focusing on this after a year when kids were not getting their proper training and education, right?

And so you have massive learning loss, you have special ed students that are falling even further behind, you have mental health issues. And they’re focusing on these kind of controversies that really don’t have a majority support.

What they should be doing is instead focusing on excellence in education; focusing on, look, we need competitive students—compassionate, yes, but competitive.

We want to have a school system where our teachers are shaping future leaders, mentally tough leaders, hardworking leaders, people that will do the best that they can to get where they need to be. And we don’t need to be dividing along these identity group lines.

We should be focusing on building strong individuals that are compassionate to their classmates, but also want to get ahead. They want to do better in school. They want to take AP calculus, advanced math, get advanced diplomas, go to good colleges. Instead, we’re focusing on these issues, it seems like the majority of their time are on these social partisan issues that have really divided a community.

Blair: Definitely. Let’s maybe shift gears from the more negative aspects of this to some of the more positive things. What would you view as a success, if you could point back to Fight for Schools and say, “You know what? Mission accomplished, we did it.”

Prior: I think long term, it’s a “bigger picture” thing. It’s lighting this spark that gets parents to pay attention to what is going on in their public schools, and being more outspoken in what it is we need, whether it’s policy changes, whether that’s school choice, whether that’s parents groups having a seat at the table on how these policies are decided at the local level, or even if it’s just getting people to go out there and really research who it is that’s running for school board and engage in those elections.

Everybody is so focused on what happens at the national level, but really what happens at the school level is, quite frankly, far more important for two reasons. First, that’s going to impact how your children are able to learn and ultimately succeed or not succeed in life. And secondly, the people that you elect to your school boards, those could be future leaders nationally as well.

And so you can’t ignore these posts and these elected spots, because this is really, I think, the breeding ground for potentially a lot of problems, but potentially also a lot of successes.

Blair: In terms of which is great to acknowledge that these are the successes that we’re looking for, can you point to any of those particular successes that we can look back as evidence that Fight for Schools is working?

Prior: We’ve been talking to everybody in the community. I mean, when you’re going out there, going door to door, having events, you get to talk to people and you learn about all the different concerns and priorities that folks have. And it really gives you a sense of what’s going on.

Whereas, if you’re elected to the school board, and you get elected in 2019, are you really going door to door? Are you really talking outside of your echo chamber? Probably not. We are. We’re going out.

I went door to door yesterday. I talked to somebody who was not for what we were doing. And you know what? That’s fine. There are going to be people out there and you’re going to learn what they think. And it’s been a really interesting experiment in democracy that we have been able to unify different groups.

And I would also say, after the Tanner Cross situation, I think, it started bringing more people to see what we were doing. And it’s really unified a bunch of different coalitions.

I think the other important thing that’s a positive is, you start realizing that when you get down to this local level, the R versus D doesn’t really matter anymore. … I have people on my board of Fight for Schools that I don’t know, maybe I don’t agree with them on immigration policy or other hot-button issues in the world. But on this issue, we are aligned.

And I think that there’s an opportunity for parents, at the local level, to really departisanize and focus themselves on this one issue and come to an agreement that what we want is excellency, meritocracy, mentally tough students, and hardworking students that are provided the opportunity to succeed.

So I think, if we’re talking about long-term goals, is having people at the local level being able to put aside their partisanship on some of the hotter-button issues and really focus on the core mission of a public education system.

Blair: That’s such a great point, to departisanize it, to make it that we’re not fighting about R and D. We’re not fighting about left and right. We’re not fighting about red versus blue. It’s what is best for the kids. It’s the kids that are very much the focus here.

I wanted to give you the last word here. We are running a little low on time, but if you had one thing you wanted our listeners to take away from this interview, what would it be? And then more specifically, could you give our listeners some recommendations on how to get involved in these anti-[critical race theory], anti-leftist policy rhetoric in the schools?

Prior: Sure. Well, again, I think getting involved is crucially important and it really comes back to having conversations. Get all social media, where you can talk to your neighbors, talk to other parents, have those day-to-day conversations that you can have more nuance and you can discuss more things without it seeming like you’re attacking somebody. Always try and get the other side’s perspective.

And look, you may not always agree with who you’re talking to, but if you can convince them 1% your way, and they can convince you 1% their way, then you’re moving forward to a cohesion of minds where we can ultimately unify people in a way that they can focus on schools.

As far as tactical things, I say it like this: You’ve got to investigate first, right? You got to investigate. That means, like I said, talking to people, sending FOIA requests, talking to your teachers, asking for the materials, look on your kids’ Chromebooks—you’ll find all sorts of things there.

Then you have to communicate. Communicate it. Communicate it to the rest of your community. Communicate it through the media, communicate it through letters to the editor.

And then finally, activate. If there is something wrong, then you need to activate a network of like-minded people that are willing to go out there and do the hard work. It’s not easy going door to door. It’s not easy putting yourself out there as a parent and getting attacked by your local school board member, but you have to do it.

If you want to make change, you really have to investigate, communicate, and activate.

Blair: Great advice. That was Ian Prior, an outspoken advocate against critical race theory in Loudoun County schools. Ian is the executive director of Fight for Schools, co-founder of the Daily Malarkey newsletter and senior council for Unsilenced Majority.

Ian, thank you so much for your time.

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This transcript was published on July 8, 2021 and reproduced with permission from The Daily Signal.

How to Fix Politics in the Classroom? Sunlight

In too many of our nation’s classrooms, children are being taught that everything should be seen through the lens of race—a divisive and damaging worldview that negates the value of the individual. Instead of reading our country’s founding documents, students are being told that America was founded on fundamentally hateful and intolerant ideas. And they’re learning that the American Dream isn’t really for everyone. What is a parent to do?

In a new paper released today by the American Enterprise Institute, Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg shows that in order to truly put parents—and not bureaucrats—in control of kids’ education, more sunlight is the answer. And Goldwater is leading the effort to bring that sunlight to school districts across America, in the form of academic transparency.

To date, state lawmakers have dealt with the issue of politically charged classroom content by either doing nothing or banning certain curricula or materials. But neither path is sufficient to proactively root out political content in our schools. And neither path gives parents the power they need to make the best possible decisions regarding their children’s education.

There is, however, another way, Beienburg writes: “empowering parents to hold schools accountable for the content used in their classrooms,” known as academic transparency. To make this possible, the Goldwater Institute has developed the Academic Transparency Act, which would require each public school in a state to disclose a listing of the actual instructional materials used during the past academic year on a publicly accessible part of its website. “With academic transparency in place, Beienburg explains, “prospective parents would suddenly be able to see which nearby schools insist on pushing a political agenda—and parents could make their enrollment decisions accordingly.”

Fortunately, state lawmakers are acting to make sure this commonsense approach becomes law. Several states are taking up the Goldwater Institute’s bill to ensure that, as Beienburg writes, “political ideology is never again advanced under the cover of dark.”

You can read Beienburg’s new paper, Academic Transparency to Protect Students from Radical Politics in K-12 Education, here.

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This article was published July 6, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from the In Defense of Liberty blog at the Goldwater Institute.

Going Postal: How the Left Will Use Vote by Mail to Federalize Elections

In the lead up to 2020, big philanthropy and progressive Democrats teamed up to make mail-in ballots the new normal.

If anyone thinks the flood of mail-in ballots the country witnessed in 2020 was just a one-off fluke, they haven’t been paying attention.

Vote by mail is the future of American democracy, with all the accompanying opportunities for ballot harvesting, mail fraud, and deceit—at least if the left has its way. This was evident in the failed For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1), the Democrat’s vision for federalizing U.S. elections into a top-down nightmare that undermines voter I.D. laws and forces every state to adopt automatic and same-day voter registration, voting rights for felons, no-excuse absentee balloting, mandatory early voting, and taxpayer funding for political campaigns. If that weren’t enough, it would violate free speech rights by forcibly disclosing nonprofits’ donors and imposing state legislatures with redistricting committees for every state—committees that are more accountable to special interests than the American public.

Don’t celebrate H.R. 1’s demise just yet. The worst of its provisions are also in its successor, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R. 4). The left isn’t done trying to radically transform the United States just yet, and it’ll use vote by mail to do it.

My colleagues and I have studied the left’s involvement in pushing mail-in voting in the 2020 election since the mischief began in November. We’ve uncovered a vast network of professional activists, wealthy foundations, Democratic mega-donors, and political operatives who conspired to flood America with mail-in ballots and turn the election against President Donald Trump.

Creating an Election Nightmare

In an all-mail election, the state sends ballots to every registered voter. Oregon has been conducting all-mail elections since the mid-1990s using a system of “ballot secrecy envelopes” that obscure the voter’s identity while allowing him to track the ballot’s status after returning it via mail or a polling station. Four more states have since adopted permanent all-mail elections, and 18 others allow local jurisdictions to hold all-mail elections. Currently, 16 states allow absentee voting with a valid excuse, and 34 states have no-excuse absentee voting.

Some locales have clearly figured it out. But hastily imposing their model on an unready nation created a comedy of errors almost everywhere else in 2020:

More than 49,000 people received incorrect ballots in Franklin County, Ohio.
A vote-by-mail drop box was set on fire in Los Angeles.
A mayoral candidate was arrested for and charged with committing voter fraud with absentee ballots in Carrollton, Texas.
And 100,000 New Yorkers received absentee ballots with incorrect names and addresses.

Mail-in ballots have significantly higher rejection rates than ballots cast in-person, with the highest being 4.5 percent rejected in 2008. That can be the difference between victory and defeat. Nearly 28,000 mail-in ballots were rejected in Florida’s 2016 election, where Trump’s margin of victory was 112,000 votes. Obama won Florida in 2012 by 74,000 votes, when 24,000 ballots were rejected. Mail-in ballot rejection rates averaged 1 percent nationwide in 2016 and 1.4 percent in 2018, perhaps 10 times higher than in-person rates, usually because they arrived too late to count or had mismatching signatures.

NPR reports that 550,000 mail-in ballots were disqualified in the 2020 primaries alone, much more than in 2016. Yet rejection rates averaged just 0.7 percent nationwide in the 2020 general election. Why were they suddenly so low? Either tens of millions of voters voting by mail (many for the first time) miraculously submitted flawless ballots, elections officials didn’t perform their due diligence, or the rejection rate was pushed down by an extraordinarily high number of “cured” ballots (fixing mistakes such as a forgotten signature), which is allowed in 19 states, including North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona. If the answer is either of the last two, vote-by-mail’s “success” in 2020 is hardly something to be celebrated.

Until recently, mail-in voting was just as controversial among liberals as conservatives, not least because it hurts turnout among Democratic constituencies. A 2016 ACLU study found that “younger and racial and ethnic minority voters casting VBM [vote-by-mail] ballots were at least twice as likely as older and white voters to have their VBM ballot rejected.” That same study concluded that voters under 30 made up 9.2 percent of all vote-by-mail voters, but accounted for almost 31 percent of rejected mail-in ballots. Liberal journalists railed against high mail-in ballot rejection rates for “disproportionately affect[ing] minorities” in 2018.

Former President JimThen there’s the potential for fraud, which is why most European Union countries long ago banned “postal voting.” my Carter’s own bipartisan commission in 2005 concluded that mail-in ballots presented the “largest source of potential voter fraud” of any voting system.

Democrats were deeply divided over the trustworthiness of mail-in ballots as recently as the 2008 election, when the Obama campaign voiced its “real deep concerns” about the security of mail-in ballots in the Florida Democratic primary, which Hillary Clinton won by some 294,000 votes. Obama questioning whether the system was “fraud-proof” on national television.

Simply put, it isn’t that mail-in ballots can’t work anywhere, just that they don’t work everywhere. That was 2020’s big experiment: entrusting the election to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the institution that routinely delivers you your neighbor’s mail. Let’s not forget that USPS warned last July that it might not be able to deliver ballots on time.

Yet the Washington Post ran a slew of op-eds calling for expanding voting by mail since COVID-19 quarantines began in early March 2020. An ACLU director declared in the New York Times that “voting by mail will save the 2020 election.” The Atlantic even conjectured that voting by mail could stop election “interference” by Republicans who might otherwise create a Trump dictatorship.

What changed? The coronavirus—and the itching need to defeat President Trump by whatever means necessary—ultimately overcame whatever concerns the left had over mail-in voting. Mail-in voting presented a powerful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to federalize elections and cement the left’s control over America. So they went all in on radically changing our republic—and it almost worked.

Making Vote-by-Mail Permanent

But some on the left had been pushing for vote by mail for years. Meet the National Vote at Home Coalition (NVHC) and its 501(c)(3) arm, National Vote At Home Institute, a pair of advocacy groups formed in 2017 to push all-mail elections nationwide. From the start, the effort was heavily supported by the National Association of Letter Carriers, the postal service union, which co-founded NVHC and hosted its kick-off event at the union’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. The event was attended by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D.)—who was elected in the country’s first-ever all-mail federal election—and Oregon Secretary of State Phil Keisling. Keisling, who is now board chairman for NVHC, illustrated the future of voting and automatic voter registration:

Imagine a state where voters never have to show a photo ID; wait in voting lines; leave home or work early to get to their designated polling place; or worry about bad weather, traffic jams, finding parking or public transportation, or arranging childcare.

AVR’s [automatic voter registration] underlying policy premise is identical to vote-at home’s; if the government knows you’re a citizen, you become a registered voter [emphasis added].

The majority of the 501(c)(4) NVHC’s funding comes from the Letter Carriers union, other AFL-CIO unions, and liberal billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund Voice. The (c)(3) institute is bankrolled by various AFL-CIO unions, the Letter Carriers union, Arabella Advisors’ Hopewell Fund and New Venture Fund, and the foundation of liberal mega-donor Stephen Silberstein. Silberstein is a NVHC board member, National Popular Vote board member, and part of the Democracy Alliance.

Early on NVHC targeted state ballot initiatives, beginning with vote by mail in South Dakota in 2018 (it failed to make the ballot), Hawaii in 2019 (passed), and automatic voter registration in Michigan in 2018 (passed). Soon it would expand its scope to the federal level after hiring a new director, Amber McReynolds.

Amber McReynolds: The New Face of Soft Totalitarianism

McReynolds is a professional activist and leading figure in the left’s fight to transform American elections. She started registering voters in Iowa in the 2004 election with the New Voters Project, part of a vast network of activist groups called the Public Interest Network. The most famous of these groups are the Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), which date back to the 1960s. A Colorado native, she was hired by the Denver Elections Commission in 2005, rising to deputy director in 2007 and finally elections director in 2011. She was given the city’s “rising star” award in 2012 by the Democratic mayor for overseeing the creation of Denver’s ballot-tracking and electronic petition-gathering software.

Critically, she pushed for and oversaw Colorado’s adoption of all-mail voting in 2013, reportedly downplaying the threat of illegal voting in her testimony before the state legislature by claiming ignorance of the term: “I’m not sure, to be honest, what is an illegal vote. . . . What does that mean?” By 2018, McReynolds was considered one of the state’s political up-and-comers and a likely candidate for challenging its Republican secretary of State, Wayne K. Williams.

She opted instead to join NVHC and take her plans for vote by mail nationwide. Under McReynolds, NVHC released its first national vote-by-mail proposal in mid-2020, “catapulting” this small organization into the center of the left’s scheme to use COVID-19 to transform the 2020 election.

McReynolds is often hailed as a nonpartisan, reform-minded moderate. She’s listed on the website of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers and was featured in Governing Magazine’s 2018 Top Public Officials of the Year.

But NVHC is closely connected to left-wing groups ranging from the ACLU to Rock the Vote. McReynolds herself also spoke at the Democracy Alliance’s Fall 2018 conference, the biggest Who’s Who of the elite left. This writer has interviewed a former elected city and county of Denver election commissioner who knew McReynolds during her years with the city (and who wishes to remain anonymous). In the commissioner’s words, McReynolds is “smart, power-driven,” and the “new face of soft totalitarianism.” Far from being nonpartisan, she couldn’t be further to the political left. One senior Trump administration appointee and elections expert told me that McReynolds is a “vote-by-mail fanatic” whose meteoric rise perfectly coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.

That became obvious after Time released its infamous article “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” At the heart of that “conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes” was Michael Podhorzer, a senior AFL-CIO advisor and Democratic operative who organized a legion of activist groups and big foundations to use COVID-19 “relief funds” to pump up voter registration, push mail-in voting, and supplement mail ballots with private dropboxes to help Joe Biden win the 2020 election.

McReynolds and NVHC led the conspiracy’s mail-in voting crusade, supplying secretaries of state with drop box locations and encouraging mail-in ballots in 37 states and the District of Columbia. NVHC even published a 60-page report pushing DeKalb County, Georgia—an Atlanta suburb that received $4 million in “Zuck Bucks” and gave Biden 300,000 votes—to “create a modern, lean vote-by-mail program.” California also hired McReynolds to consult on expanding its vote-by-mail plans in May 2020.

While Time tried to spin the cabal as “bipartisan,” in reality it was as left-wing—and partisan—as could be.

In March, Wisconsin journalists revealed that a NVHC staffer and Democratic operative, Michael Spitzer-Rubinstein, practically ran Green Bay’s election as the city’s “de facto elections administrator,” with access to its absentee ballots days before the election.

Spitzer-Rubinstein had access to four of the five keys to the ballroom where early ballots were stored and counted, and he even asked the city clerk to “cure” problematic absentee ballots. Green Bay “went rogue” under NVHC, in the words of the Brown County clerk. Green Bay also received $1.1 million, Wisconsin’s third-largest grant, from the Mark Zuckerberg–funded Center for Technology and Civic Life.

Where else did NVHC taint local elections in 2020? Does it plan to have representatives in the Spitzer-Rubinstein mold in every major elections office in 2024? Short of a government inquiry, we may never know.

For her services McReynolds, President Biden nominated her to the U.S. Postal Service where she was touted as an “independent,” not a Democrat, and for good reason: By law the USPS governing board may have no more than five members from the same political party. Confirming her as an independent frees up President Biden to appoint another Democrat and grants her vast power as the deciding vote on future mail-in voting and election integrity decisions.

And that’s after McReynolds “covered up her connections to radical left-wing groups [by] scrubbing affiliations from her own organization’s website,” according to the conservative American Accountability Foundation.

As if to prove their point, since her confirmation McReynolds has signed an open letter critical of Arizona’s ongoing 2020 election audit alongside 19 other liberal groups and individuals. She has also attacked Republican “disinformation” as the “biggest election security issue we face” and called for federalizing elections to stop it: “We need to think about some federal standards because it’s easy for bad actors to spread the wrong information because the rules vary so much by state.”

But switching America to mail-in voting requires a serious change in infrastructure. For that, the left needed the NVHC to ensure that the coming flood of mail-in ballots would defeat Trump. They needed the support of Big Philanthropy.

Mark Zuckerberg: Laying the Groundwork for Vote by Mail

In a free and fair election, ballots are traceable from the time they’re filled out until they’re counted. Drop boxes threaten that chain by bypassing the Postal Service altogether and entrusting absentee ballots with a private third party. They also encourage ballot harvesting by partisan interests and raise the risk of fraudsters using private collection bins to return illegal ballots. Chain of custody is still missing for 400,000 absentee ballots delivered via drop box in Georgia alone.

To pay for so many drop boxes, the activists turned to Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg. In fall 2020, he funneled $350 million into a small Chicago nonprofit, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), which repackaged the funds as COVID-19 “relief” grants to thousands of local elections offices that would supposedly go underfunded in the election—despite receiving $400 million from the federal government through the CARES Act.

To date, my colleagues and I have traced $112 million in “Zuck bucks” flowing to nine critical states: Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada.

CTCL has claimed that its funds were distributed on a nonpartisan basis. In reality, “Zuck bucks” favored big, Democratic cities that pumped out enough votes for Biden to clinch contested states. In Pennsylvania, for instance, CTCL grants to counties Biden won averaged $3.11 per capita and just $0.57 in counties Trump won. In Arizona, CRCL grants provided a staggering $5.83 per capita in counties Biden won versus $1.29 in counties Trump won.

In June, Todd Shepherd, chief investigative reporter for the Pennsylvania Broad & Liberty, published an email chain revealing early contact between CTCL, a councilwoman in Delaware County (a Philadelphia suburb), and a Democratic get-out-the-vote strategist. Shepherd has also discovered evidence that Democratic counties neighboring Philly were given early invitations to apply for multi-million-dollar CTCL grants, well before the rest of the right-leaning state.

CTCL’s funds were supposed to aid in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet a recent letter from House Republicans points out that less than 1 percent of its funds went to personal protective equipment (PPE). What CTCL’s “Zuck bucks” did pay for was the infrastructure required to unleash an unprecedented flood of mail-in ballots.

Public records requests reveal that nearly $6.5 million of Philadelphia’s $10 million grant funded “mail-in and absentee” processing equipment, 15 “secure dropboxes” scattered around the city, and postage (presumably for mail-in ballots). A $1.4 million grant to Fairfax County, Virginia—which contains close to a quarter of the state’s population and 18 percent of all Biden’s statewide votes—also paid for vote-by-mail equipment, temporary staffing, and “voting materials other than in English.” Alarmingly, the county’s CTCL-provided spending report also leaves room for “non-partisan voter education”—what does that entail and where was it used?

In Wisconsin, a former elections clerk told reporter John Solomon that CTCL grants to Green Bay caused the city to effectively “take over” county election functions. CTCL itself worked “primarily with our five major Democratic base cities,” breaking processes across the key battleground state. “As we got closer to the November election,” she said, “we found out that this outside group had come in and was basically trying to redo our forms and documents that we use statewide. And these people were from out of state and had no business doing that.”

In short, Big Philanthropy had its way with the 2020 election, to the left’s delight. National Public Radio even credits “private money from Facebook’s CEO” with “sav[ing] the 2020 election.” Faced with a private takeover of our elections, the same set of radicals who once cried “eat the rich” and “abolish billionaires” simply yawned. Yet the greatest irony is that, for all the left’s newfound love of mail-in voting, its sudden emphasis on drop boxes is a vote of no confidence in the Postal Service’s ability to competently manage so many mail-in ballots.

CTCL’s meddling prompted dozens of states to ban private funding of elections, but the damage is done. Racine, Wisconsin, recently purchased a $250,000 “mobile voting precinct” using CTCL funds. How much money will Zuckerberg or others like him spend influencing the 2024 election?

Page Gardner: Soliciting Absentee Ballots

Voters in many states were assailed with partially pre-filled absentee ballot requests in the months leading up to Election Day. The requests came from a pair of shadowy nonprofits: the Center for Voter Information (CVI) and the Voter Participation Center (VPC), “sister” groups formed in 2003 by former Bill Clinton presidential campaign staffer and operative Page Gardner.

Gardner’s groups take advantage of IRS rules allowing nonprofits to engage in nonpartisan voter registration to target the “New American Majority,” which they define as “young people, people of color and unmarried women”—a group that gave more than 60 percent of its votes for Biden in 2020.

The nonprofits are hardly “nonpartisan”—CVI, the network’s 501(c)(4), spent $583,000 directly aiding Biden—but it’s their support for voting by mail that should concern conservatives. Unlike the Right, the left is all in on funding groups that do nothing more than voter registration.

Gardner’s groups claim they registered more than 1.5 million new voters and generated 4.8 million vote-by-mail applications in 2020 alone.

Many of these absentee ballot applications were faulty, listing the wrong jurisdictions. In Virginia, mailing applications mislabeled for the City of Fairfax were sent to residents of neighboring Fairfax County. But for all the ballots faults, they were clearly sent for one purpose: flood key states with tens of millions of mail-in ballots.

One Virginia polling place worker who wishes to remain anonymous sent me a copy of an envelope (archived here) mailed to him by CVI prior to the election containing an absentee ballot request, but the return address (3125 W. Cary St. #305, Richmond, VA) is a UPS store, not CVI’s office in Washington, D.C. He has found similar envelopes in eight other states—Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Missouri—with return addresses for UPS stores.

What happened to the absentee ballot requests that bounced back to CVI’s UPS boxes? Could they have been used to generate a universe of registered but nonresponsive voters? Given the multitude of reports from across the country of voters who tried to vote on Election Day and were told that they couldn’t cast a ballot because they had already voted, it raises serious questions about tax-exempt nonprofits exploiting IRS rules to swing elections for their political allies.

The Future of Elections Isn’t So Grim

There’s little doubt that left-wing operatives would love to make every future election mimic 2020. But it doesn’t have to end that way.

Despite high hopes among many Democrats, new studies show that mail-in ballots had a smaller than expected effect on turnout and did not dramatically help the Democratic Party. What they did change was how Americans voted—opening the door to the kind of ballot harvesting and fraud that characterize countries like Venezuela.

The left’s dependence on so many CTCL-funded drop boxes also suggests that vote by mail won’t plague the future in the 15-plus states (and counting) that have already banned private funding of elections, and likely others. Without drop boxes, the effectiveness of mail-in ballots will entirely depend on the U.S. Postal Service—the 18th century institution that’s been utterly outcompeted by private industry and may be privatized by a future Republican administration. With its present difficulties, it’s a safe bet that running elections will never be USPS’s top priority. As one elections expert recently told me, “If you want to screw up voter I.D., put the DMV in charge of it. If you want to screw up voting, put the Postal Service in charge of it.”

Is the left prepared to hang its future on that? In an age of reliable two-day delivery, will Americans ever support elections that take 5–7 days to transit their ballots each way and upwards of 15 days to certify? The more America moves forward, the more America’s left looks backward.

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This article was published on July 9, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from Capital Research.

 

What Portion Of The “American Rescue Plan” of 2021 Was Devoted To Funding The Police?

Correct Answer?
0%, nothing , zero, zilch, nada

At two recent White House press conferences, Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki declared that Republicans defunded the police because they did not vote for the “American Rescue Plan” of 2021. This law, which was passed by Democrats without any Republican votes, does not mention “police,” “law enforcement,” or any synonym for these words. Instead, it enacts $1.86 trillion in deficit spending mainly devoted to social welfare programs and bailouts for state and local governments and private union pension funds. Psaki argued that the cities could use some of the bailout money for police. However, nothing in the law requires this, and at least 13 major Democrat-run cities have reduced funding for their police.

Note: This brief article is presented as a question to the readers. After clicking on the ‘This Article’ link below, click the arrow (<) on the left of the question twice to access the above title – What Portion Of The “American Rescue Plan” of 2021 Was Devoted To Funding The Police?

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This article was published on July 7, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from JUST FACTS Daily.

Cracks in the Great Wall-Part One: The CCP at 100 Years

The Chinese Communist Party recently celebrated its 100th birthday, which came accompanied by grand celebrations and a stirring speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the speech Xi recounted the history of the party and the achievements of the People’s Republic of China. He also reiterated some of China’s top priorities such as continuing to modernize its military, maintaining economic growth, preserving its political model, and resisting foreign attempts to curtail its objectives.

While China has certainly made great strides both economically and politically, a look past the soaring rhetoric reveals more problems than strengths.

Many China experts in the United States certainly took alarm at Xi’s speech such as Gordan Chang, who was quoted in Fox News when they wrote,

“Xi Jinping talked about how the ‘Communist Party of China and the Chinese people, with their bravery and tenacity, solemnly proclaim to the world that the Chinese people are not only good at taking down the old world, but also good at building a new one,’” Chang said. “That is ominous because this harks back to what Xi Jinping has been talking about for more than a decade … that the world really should be ruled by the Chinese. My sense is that really was the most critical line in the speech and it didn’t get attention.”

The narrative of an ascendant and threatening China is certainly an important one with plenty of evidence to back it up. It has even partially contributed to counterproductive political ideas such as former President Trump’s trade war or President Biden’s insistence that the US must do more to emulate China’s state spending model.

There is no denying that China has certainly risen in power and poses a considerable threat to the interests of the United States as well as the future of human liberty. However, recent trends suggest that China has some serious roadblocks to overcome as the consequences of the CCP’s own behavior comes back to haunt them.

The Tighter You Clench, The More Sand Slips From Your Hand

Perhaps one of the greatest indicators of coming struggle is China’s increasing grip over its citizens both economically and politically, which is a reversal of previous trends of liberalization. Xi Jinping has recently called for greater private sector loyalty to the party line and has also called for more alignment of its political system with the party as well.

Furthermore, China’s security state has been drastically expanding after seeing decades of rollback, which UCSD Professor Tai Ming Cheung explains is due to a number of setbacks regarding internal disruptions and instability. The New York Times has reported that the CCP has recently begun a crackdown on “illegal non-profits” to which they write,

“The campaign against such dissent reflects concerns among China’s top leaders that the party must do more to strengthen public loyalty and fortify its control of society.

Mr. Xi has long warned that Communist rule could disintegrate if the party does not assert control across society, including the private sector, schools and the news media. Party organs at the national and local levels are hosting study sessions on party history for cadres. Chinese military officials say they are using the centenary to “forge absolute loyalty” to the party and Mr. Xi.”

When regimes tighten control over their populations, that typically means things are not going well, especially when it comes to China, which has heavily restricted its population from questioning the status quo. A reinvigorated crackdown on independent thought can only be in reaction to the subversive effects of outside influences and demands for further liberalization. That is because although China has gotten richer and more powerful through engagement with other countries, such engagement also brings in outside ideas, such as democracy, human rights, and economic freedom.

An emblematic example of this would be the brief disappearance of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, who merely criticized the performance of China’s financial system. Such criticism was certainly warranted as he was heavily invested in an innovative fintech company known as Ant Group which promised to revolutionize finance. However, such sentiments are dangerous to the long-term credibility of the CCP, which led them to punish Ma and Ant Group.

Such behavior on China’s part is both understandable and counterproductive. On one hand, allowing such dissent and criticism on anything, even productive conversations such as improving the Chinese banking system can lead to greater dissent in the future. At the same time, they are killing the goose that laid the golden egg as liberalization and dynamic thought are what lead to progress in the first place.

It also goes without saying that much of China’s grand ambitions are starting to unravel before them as the consequences of their authoritarian behavior come back to haunt them. China’s once highly celebrated effort to rewire global trade with the Belt and Road Initiative is starting to sputter as countries refuse to accept the sovereignty infringements that come with it. China’s increasing aggression in the Indo-Pacific region has sparked new security partnerships or reinvigorated existing ones such as The Quad to contain China. The Quad is an informal alliance between the US, Australia, Japan, and India. However, it is worth noting that more countries like South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines are all noting their displeasure with China’s behavior.

Europe has also toughened its stance on China, which has led to a number of notable exchanges such as a back and forth on slavery allegations in Xinjiang as well as a Czech delegation visiting Taiwan, a huge insulting gesture for the Chinese. Finally, among many other problems, China’s long-term economic growth is in jeopardy due to a variety of issues such as an aging population and an inflexible economy. It is also worth noting that China’s GDP numbers are highly inflated and manipulated, so their real success is likely well below the reported numbers.

A Rock and a Hard Place

Limited free-market reforms in China brought about much success, lifting millions from poverty and turning it into the global player it is today. In its special economic zones such as Hong Kong (although not for long) and Macau, which enjoy economic freedom greater than most Western countries, the standards of living are greater by orders of magnitude. At the same time, such openness and dynamism also invite free thought, which is why the same policies were not implemented for the rest of the country. Free thought often leads one to look to the outside world and exposure to more attractive ideas, such as a free and open society. This is a serious problem for the long-term rule of the CCP.

In particular, Beijing’s implementation of the recent Hong Kong security law will dissolve many of the freedoms that made the city-state so prosperous in the first place. The move is emblematic of China’s ultimate conundrum: freedom allows it to grow and prosper, but it also spreads dissent.

On the one hand, they must pursue greater economic growth, which is sorely needed as many of its citizens still live well below the standards of the Western world (or even to its free neighbor Taiwan) and also to achieve its goals of global influence. On the other hand is the real danger of increased liberalization for the CCP, especially with the world now highly critical and vocal about China’s human rights abuses.

Furthermore, embracing greater liberalization would shatter the image of infallibility that the CCP has built for itself. Much like Jack Ma took issue with China’s fundamentally flawed state banking system, allowing greater economic competition and exchange of ideas would cause more questions to be asked.

Although Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party certainly put on a great show for their 100th birthday, much like any authoritarian regime, it was a lot of smoke and mirrors. There is no denying that China has achieved many milestones in terms of its economic and political goals. At the same time, its authoritarian policies have consequences and it seems like the chickens are starting to come home to roost.

Those of us in the West should certainly take note, not just because these are important developments regarding our top geopolitical rival, but also so we do not make the mistake of emulating the Chinese. Rather, this should be another reason to double down on our confidence in the superiority of a free and open society, an objective that we can safely pursue to our own benefit, whereas the Chinese cannot.

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This article was published on July 8, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from AIER, American Institute for Economic Research.