Category Archives: Issues

San Francisco D.A. Announces End to Cash Bail

Chesa Boudin

Chesa Boudin, San Francisco’s notoriously progressive district attorney, announced Wednesday that his office will no longer support cash bail, becoming the latest law enforcement figure to come out against the practice.

Instead of asking judges to set cash bail as a condition of a defendant’s release before trial, Boudin’s office will instead proffer a “risk assessment” as to whether or not a defendant is likely to abscond or pose a threat to public safety. The abolition of bail was one of Boudin’s main promises during his campaign for D.A. last year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“For years I’ve been fighting to end this discriminatory and unsafe approach to pretrial detention,” Boudin said. “From this point forward, pretrial detention will be based on public safety, not on wealth.”

The move further marks Boudin—the son of jailed left-wing terrorists who campaigned on refusing to prosecute quality-of-life offenses—as at the forefront of the “progressive prosecutor” movement. It is also another milestone in the push for abolishing cash bail, a practice opponents call unfair and socioeconomically discriminatory. California criminal justice experts the Washington Free Beacon spoke to, however, cautioned that Boudin’s decision was both outside of his discretion and will likely further embroil his city in a petty crime crisis.

Boudin’s decision extends the work of his predecessor, George Gascón, who helped organize a pilot program to use a risk assessment algorithm to help judges make bail decisions. Boudin’s office on Wednesday praised the tool, which was designed by the left-leaning Laura and John Arnold Foundation, a major player in the bail reform movement. Six percent of individuals released by the algorithm reoffended, KQED reports, while 20 percent failed to appear for subsequent hearings.

Boudin’s announcement adopts a familiar argument from opponents of cash bail—imposing a monetary barrier to release discriminates on the basis of wealth, meaning that poor people are routinely locked up without even having been convicted. As Boudin’s campaign put it on its website, “Money bail is the system where innocent people can be kept in jail because they’re poor, while wealthy people who are guilty and dangerous go free.”

At the same time, the end of bail may mean higher rates of release, particularly for petty criminals, i.e., those not judged dangerous by the algorithm, but are a nuisance to society. That could be a major issue for a city already struggling with quality-of-life offenses.

As the Free Beacon recently reported, San Francisco has faced a surge of transit crime, which a grand jury report linked to pervasive disorder and fare evasion. Such disorder extends to San Francisco’s streets, which are increasingly strewn with “trash, needles, and human feces.” Drug overdose is also on the rise, as preliminary data from the San Francisco Chronicle indicate that deaths involving the opioids fentanyl and heroin more than doubled between 2018 and 2019.

Amid this chaos, Boudin said during his campaign that he would not prosecute quality-of-life offenses like “public camping, offering or soliciting sex, public urination, and blocking a sidewalk,” but would instead focus on police misconduct and corporate crime.

Kerry Jackson, a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute who has written on public safety issues, told the Free Beacon that Boudin’s choice to end cash bail is part-and-parcel with his unwillingness to address San Francisco’s crime problems.

“It fits with his decision to look the other way at the quality-of-life crimes that are driving the city downward,” Jackson said. “I think people are going to say he’s making the best effort possible to increase crime in San Francisco. That might not be his intention, but that’s likely to be the outcome.”

There’s another concern about Boudin’s decision: whether he has the discretion to unilaterally abolish cash bail. Although San Franciscans elected Boudin knowing his plans for money bail, a larger controversy around bail reform is still brewing in the Golden State. In 2018, then-governor Jerry Brown (D.) signed legislation, S.B. 10, to abolish cash bail statewide. But a coalition organized to get a veto referendum on the 2020 ballot, putting S.B. 10 on hold until Californians decide if cash bail should be enshrined in their state constitution.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, told the Free Beacon that Boudin’s move risks usurping this democratic process.

“California’s Constitution and laws include cash bail in appropriate cases, and it is not for the district attorney to repeal these provisions by not requesting bail,” Scheidegger said. “Judges should continue the present practice until the people vote on it in November, no matter what the DA says.”

Both Boudin’s decision and the California referendum play into the national drama of the ongoing “bail reform” debate. A number of states have implemented various alternatives to cash bail. Early evidence suggests that there have been successes, but some jurisdictions have also faced backlash. Alaska rolled back its bail reforms after violent crime rates soared (although whether the changes caused the increase is up for debate). New York state is facing its own crisis as its bail reform law, in effect since the start of the year, has been blamed for exacerbating the rash of anti-Semitic violence in New York City and outlying suburbs.

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Soros Group Spends Record $48 Million on Lobbying in 2019

George Soros

An advocacy group funded by liberal billionaire George Soros spent a record amount on lobbying in 2019, filings show.

The Open Society Policy Center (OSPC), a D.C.-based nonprofit that has pushed funds toward advocacy that includes making gun companies liable for crimes committed with firearms, fighting Trump judicial nominations, and on issues related to immigration enforcement, dropped $24 million into lobbying efforts during the fourth quarter of 2019, disclosures filed Monday show. The money is the most the group has ever spent in a three-month span and propelled the group to its highest annual lobbying totals to date.

Soros’s lobbying shop has now poured nearly $100 million into advocacy efforts since President Donald Trump took office—$40 million more than it spent over the previous 14 years combined. OSPC ranked as a top-three spender, ahead of corporate giants Amazon, Facebook, Boeing, and Alphabet in recent years. The explosion in lobbying cash shows the extent the financier’s group is devoted to pushing back against the administration and bolstering the efforts of other progressive advocacy groups that are resisting the president’s agenda.

The OSPC, which acts as the advocacy arm to the Open Society Foundations network, uses two in-house lobbyists. The group also gives grants to like-minded groups for their own lobbying activities.

The group pushed nearly $24.5 million into such activities between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2019. Some of that money went toward an effort to repeal an act protecting firearm manufacturers from liability for gun crimes. During the fourth quarter, which runs from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, the group lobbied the House of Representatives and Senate on the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, and issues related to national security powers, its new form shows. Lobbying reports only list the issue being advocated and do not disclose exactly what the groups are pushing.

More than $20 million was passed to dozens of liberal groups for their own lobbying efforts and organizational support throughout the year. The groups that receive the grants are active in pushing back against policies such as the repeal of Obamacare and President Trump’s tax cuts.

During the third quarter, for example, grants of at least $1 million were made to the Sixteen Thirty Fund, Community Change Action, Emgage Action, Indivisible Project, Tides Advocacy, and Virginia New Majority, according to the group’s website. Money was also passed to liberal activist groups to support policy efforts on immigration, sexual health and rights, government accountability, and environmental policy, among other initiatives. Its fourth-quarter grants are not yet publicly posted.

The OSPC spent a total of $48.42 million on its lobbying activities in 2019.

“Too often, powerful corporate interests have a seat at the table in Washington, while workers, consumers, and patients are excluded from the political process,” said Tom Perriello, executive director of the OSPC. “OSPC’s grantees help give voice to those who need to be heard at this unprecedented moment in America. We are proud to do our part, along with our grantees, to stand against hate, bigotry, and anti-Semitism; corporate greed; presidential overreach and more.”

Soros’s group has now pushed $96 million into advocacy efforts since Trump was sworn into office. The OSPC reported spending a combined total of $56.65 million from 2002 to 2016, nearly $40 million less than it spent in the three years since the start of the Trump presidency.

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Beacon Extra 1/22/20

Welcome to the Washington Free Beacon’s morning newsletter, your comprehensive briefing on the Enemies of Freedom. To get this newsletter sent straight to your inbox every morning, sign up here.

STRONGER APART …Hillary Clinton in Full: A Fiery New Documentary, Trump Regrets and Harsh Words for Bernie: ‘Nobody Likes Him’,” via THR: In the doc, you’re brutally honest on [Bernie] Sanders: “He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.” That assessment still hold?

CLINTON: Yes, it does.

THR: If he gets the nomination, will you endorse and campaign for him?

CLINTON: I’m not going to go there yet. We’re still in a very vigorous primary season. I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters.

REVOLUTIONARY GROVELS BEFORE ESTABLISHMENT …Sanders apologizes to Biden for surrogate’s brutal op-ed,” via POLITICO: “Whether or not [Joe] Biden is making choices to please donors, there is no doubt his record represents the transactional, grossly corrupt culture in Washington that long precedes Trump,” wrote Zephyr Teachout, a progressive law professor.

The op-ed, published in the Guardian, was pushed out by the [Bernie] Sanders campaign newsletter, “Bern Notice.” Sanders told CBS News: “It is absolutely not my view that Joe Biden is corrupt in any way. And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared.”

THEN AGAIN, SHE’S USED TO PLEADING IGNORANCE ABOUT MEN BEHAVING BADLY …Hillary Clinton Pleads Ignorance About Harvey Weinstein Despite Multiple Warnings,” by WFB’s Alex Griswold: “How could we have known?” Clinton said when asked by the Hollywood Reporter about her longstanding relationship with Weinstein. “He raised money for me, for the Obamas, for Democrats in general … And of course, if all of us had known what we know now, it would have affected our behavior.”

Several Hollywood insiders have said that the Clinton camp was well aware of his predatory behavior … Clinton’s professed ignorance also comes despite journalist Ronan Farrow’s claim that the failed candidate’s staff attempted to pressure him when he first began investigating Weinstein at NBC in 2017.

AS MEDIA INSISTS VOTER FRAUD IS A MYTH …Non-U.S. citizens inadvertently registered to vote in Illinois,” via HERALD-REVIEW: Five Republican Illinois House members are calling for an immediate hearing into the state’s automatic voter registration law after more than 500 non-U.S. citizens were inadvertently registered to vote because of a programming error in the secretary of state’s office.

“This is an absurd lack of compliance with state law, surfacing less than three weeks from the opening of early voting for our state’s 2020 general primary election,” the House members said in a letter dated Monday. The letter, sent to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D., Chicago) and seeking a House executive committee hearing, came from GOP executive committee members.

IT’S NO GREEN ROOM …Michael Avenatti might be in El Chapo’s former jail cell—and it’s freezing, his attorneys say,” via CNN: He is being held in New York’s Metropolitan Correction Center. According to his attorneys’ letter to U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe, Avenatti “has been locked down for 24 hours a day, in solitary confinement, except for attorney visits and two medical exams.”

“He is in a cell reportedly once occupied by El Chapo, on a floor that houses individuals charged with terrorism offenses,” the letter reads.

ARE YOU TIRED OF WINNING YET? … Trump Lauds U.S. Economy as He Opens World Economic Forum,” via WSJ: Hours before his impeachment trial was set to begin …It was a campaign-style address that appeared aimed as much at a U.S. re-election audience and the 100 senators who will act as jurors in his impeachment trial as at the other heads of state and business executives attending the World Economic Forum in this Swiss mountain resort …

David McKay, chief executive of Royal Bank of Canada, said that, based on his meetings in Davos so far, business leaders shared [President] Trump’s optimism. “There’s a general positivity about economic opportunity in the U.S.,” Mr. McKay said.

CHILL, GRETA, CHILL …Trump and the Teenager: A Climate Showdown at Davos,” via NYT: [President] Trump implicitly criticized [Greta] Thunberg and other activists, saying they peddled warnings of doom at a time when his policies had ushered in a bright new era of economic prosperity for Americans.

“They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers,” the president said. “They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, a mass starvation in the 70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s.”

SEND THE BOMBERS …Iran Has Spies Across U.S., Officials Warn, After Tehran Posts $3M Bounty on Trump,” by WFB’s Adam Kredo: Following Iran’s announcement of a three-million dollar bounty for the assassination of President Donald Trump, U.S. officials and terrorism experts are warning that Tehran has significantly expanded its terror capabilities in America, potentially allowing the Islamic Republic to conduct a domestic attack …

The bounty is the latest in a series of increasingly direct threats by Tehran. It has renewed concerns about the Islamic Republic’s vast terrorism network, which stretches into the continental United States, U.S. officials and experts told the Washington Free Beacon.

LIBERAL HACK WILL BE RIGHT AT HOME …CNN Brings on Hard-hitting White House Correspondent to Join Jim Acosta,” by WFB’s David Rutz: [John] Harwood is a well-sourced veteran of Washington who can appeal to the leading experts for their insights. For instance, on Sept. 21, 2015, Harwood emailed Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta for advice on what to ask Jeb Bush during their interview the following day. Incredible access!

Six days later, he showed off his forward-thinking journalism and political prophecy when he emailed Podesta and Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan that he couldn’t believe “that some people still think it’s worth burning so much interview time with person most likely to be next president on her email.” He was so right; Hillary Clinton very nearly became the president!

HOW DO THEY HANDLE AIRPORTS …‘Chilling’: Reporters Whine About Going Through Metal Detector To Cover Impeachment Trial,” via DAILY CALLER: New York Times White House correspondent and CNN political analyst Michael D. Shear called the arrangements an “ominous moment for the press and democracy.”

Kansas City Star Washington correspondent Byron Lowry claimed the metal detectors were “not for security but meant solely to prevent people from tweeting or filing stories during the trial.”

DIOS MIO … Warren Turns Back on ‘Latinx’ in Major Campaign Departure,” by WFB’s Collin Anderson: [Elizabeth] Warren has consistently used “Latinx” in favor of the gender-specific alternatives “Latino” and “Latina.” … But Warren bucked the trend Tuesday when she released her “Restoring America’s Promise to Latinos” plan …

Though only 2 percent of America’s Latinos prefer the term, progressive activists began using it as a way to refer to all people of Latin American descent without excluding people who identify as neither male nor female.

SOME REAL NEWS FOR A CHANGE …WATCH: Here’s What Happened at the Richmond Gun-Rights Rally,” by WFB Staff: Demonstrators held signs displaying phrases like, “Gun rights are women’s rights,” “We will not comply,” and “I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns.” Stephen Gutowski, who was on the scene for his Free Beacon-presented YouTube show Range Time, said he was struck by the size of the rally and noted the absence of violence, white supremacist agitation, or even counter-protesters: “All we had were people from Virginia here to support their right to bear arms.”

DAYS SINCE JOE BIDEN DID A SUNDAY SHOW: 1,137. Come back, Joe!

You know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.” —Former President Barack Obama

Thanks for reading! Send tips to rutz@freebeacon.com.

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Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Want Candidate Who Supports ‘Significant Restrictions’ on Abortion

Democratic presidential candidates have eagerly embraced radical pro-abortion stances, but two-thirds of Americans want to vote for political candidates who favor “significant restrictions” on abortion, according to a recent poll.

The annual Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus showed that 55 percent of Americans identify as pro-choice. However, 70 percent of the country, including nearly half of self-described pro-choice respondents, oppose all abortions or believe they should be permitted only during the first 12 weeks, in medical emergencies, or in cases of rape or incest.

The data do not bode well for the leading Democratic presidential candidates, all of whom espouse ambitious pro-abortion policy platforms. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) wants to install a federal statutory right that “parallels the constitutional right in Roe v. Wade” and prohibit states from restricting abortion in later months of pregnancy. Former vice president Joe Biden also capitulated to a progressive outcry last year and committed himself to oppose the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion through Medicaid.

Most Americans oppose these policy positions put forth by the presidential contenders, according to the poll. Three-in-five Americans want the Supreme Court to reinterpret Roe v. Wade to either abolish all abortions or allow states to impose certain restrictions on abortion, and 60 percent of the country opposes the use of taxpayer money to fund abortion. Support for such restrictions crosses ideological lines, including many people who want abortion to remain legal.

“The variation of what people mean when they say pro-choice runs the gamut from so-called abortion-on-demand to really substantial restrictions,” Andrew Walther, vice president of the Knights of Columbus, said during a press call. “So, that label as an indicator of position is largely meaningless.”

President Donald Trump has enacted several pro-life policies in office. He has reinstated the Mexico City policy, which prohibits government funding to NGOs that promote abortion abroad. He has also prohibited recipients of federal Title X family planning programs from advising patients to seek abortion except in case of rape, incest, or medical emergency. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, dropped out of the program, rather than comply.

The general public tends to support Trump’s policy on abortion. For example, more than 75 percent of Americans oppose using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries.

The survey found that pro-life Americans are more likely than their pro-choice counterparts to consider a presidential candidate’s abortion stance as a “major factor” when deciding their vote. Furthermore, while 78 percent of Democrats identify as pro-choice, more than two-in-five of them support some sort of “significant restriction” on abortion.

Pollsters interviewed more than 1,200 adults across the United States in early January. The results are statistically significant within a margin of 3.7 percent.

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Media Interest in Jeffrey Epstein Heightens Amid Scrutiny of Environmental Record

Media interest in Jeffrey Epstein, the sexual deviant and Democratic donor who was most likely murdered in his jail cell in 2019, has ticked up amid scrutiny of the late pedophile’s environmental record.

CNN reports that a U.S. Virgin Islands lawsuit against the multimillionaire pervert’s estate accuses Epstein of having “potentially damaged the delicate environment with illegal construction projects and brushed aside fines and other efforts to curb his behavior.” These alleged environmental offenses, according to the lawsuit, were “part of a pattern of behavior in flouting the laws of the Virgin Islands and holding [Epstein] above the law.”

Perhaps if American journalists had known of Epstein’s environmental crimes much earlier, they might have been compelled to report on the massive international sex-trafficking ring Epstein allegedly oversaw. The U.S. media took credit for Epstein’s arrest in July 2019—credit it certainly did not deserve.

The increased public scrutiny on Epstein’s egregious criminal activity, coming more than a decade after the financier negotiated a sweetheart plea deal with federal prosecutors in Florida, was the result of a local newspaper (the Miami Herald) pursuing a Donald Trump-related angle to the story. Trump’s former secretary of labor, Alexander Acosta, signed off on Epstein’s plea deal while serving as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Indeed, in the absence of a connection linking Epstein to Trump, the U.S. media was for years reluctant to publish credible allegations against the wealthy pedophile. As early as 2002, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter killed a story on Epstein’s inappropriate relationships with underage girls after Epstein objected. In 2019, leaked video showed ABC News anchor Amy Robach complaining that she “had this [Epstein] story for three years” and criticizing the network for repeatedly refusing to air her interview with one of Epstein’s alleged victims.

If only Greta Thunberg had been around to put him on blast for polluting the sea.

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Klobuchar Pledges to Fire Betsy DeVos in First 100 Days

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) in a new ad released Wednesday pledged to fire Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos within her first 100 days as president—a likely unnecessary move given that DeVos would depart with sitting president Donald Trump.

Klobuchar lists various progressive policy wishes in the 30-second spot now airing in Iowa, sandwiching a promise to dismiss DeVos between expanding Veterans Affairs benefits and addressing mental health and addiction.

Klobuchar’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment as to why firing DeVos would be necessary, or as to whether Klobuchar would consider keeping any Trump cabinet members, as when President Barack Obama kept on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates from the Bush administration.

Klobuchar’s odd promise recalls failed 2020 hopeful, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.), who told the New York Times he would fire Trump adviser Jared Kushner on his first day in office.

DeVos has been a popular punching bag on the left since her nomination as education secretary. Selected by Trump in 2017, she immediately came under fire from teachers’ unions and progressives, due in large part to her advocacy for charter schools.

All 48 Senate Democrats and independents eventually voted against DeVos in one of the most bitter confirmation fights of the Trump era. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm her after Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) also voted against her.

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Trump Admin Revives Influential Criminal Justice Commission

Attorney General William Barr And FBI Director Christopher Wray Announce Crime Reduction Initiative In Detroit

Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday announced the formation of a presidential commission on criminal justice, revitalizing a body that in the 1960s fundamentally altered the American criminal justice system.

The new members of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice took their oath of office, administered by Barr, Wednesday morning, and immediately set to work on their agenda for the coming months. Barr’s remarks linked their work to the last such commission, which was organized by President Lyndon Johnson.

“President Trump is an unwavering supporter of our men and women in blue, and he recognized that this commission is much needed to support law enforcement,” Barr said. “It is, to be sure, long overdue. The last time there was a national commission on law enforcement was in 1965.”

Barr’s allusion to the Johnson crime commission sets the stage for a comprehensive reassessment of the criminal justice system. The new commission’s work will likely highlight how the challenges of criminal justice have changed radically over the past half century.

The new commission is a diverse group of law enforcement officers, litigators, and stakeholders from local, state, and federal jurisdictions. It will be chaired by Phil Keith, who currently serves as the director of the Community Oriented Policing Services office within the Justice Department. Other board members include local sheriffs and police chiefs, U.S. attorneys, the Florida attorney general, and the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

This group, Barr said Wednesday, will discuss key issues facing law enforcement in the 21st century. These include the challenges of mental illness; improving officer recruitment, training, and retention; understanding the rise of mental health problems among police officers; the challenges of new technologies; the causes and effects of “diminished respect” toward police officers; and the better incorporation of social services organizations into the policing process.

The push to establish a new commission on crime has commanded bipartisan backing. Senators Gary Peters (D., Mich.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), and John Cornyn (R., Tex.) introduced legislation to establish a commission modeled on the one from 1965. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in October that formally established the commission Barr swore in Wednesday.

Cornyn cheered Wednesday’s news as a step in the right direction for American criminal justice.

“An objective review system is necessary to reform our outdated criminal justice system and strengthen law enforcement’s ties to our communities,” he told the Washington Free Beacon. “I’m grateful to the Administration for taking this important step, and I look forward to working with them to build upon their efforts to reform our justice system and increase public safety.”

Trump’s order articulates the commission’s function as the study of “issues related to law enforcement and the administration of justice.” It is also instructed to, within a year, furnish Barr with a final report, presumably similar in scope to the Johnson commission’s own 350-page report.

That original 1967 report, The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, is widely considered—even by critics—a landmark in the history of American criminal justice. During the 1964 presidential election, Johnson opponent Barry Goldwater slammed the incumbent for his lack of focus on America’s rising crime problem. After Johnson won, he placed greater emphasis on law and order.

The 1967 report is responsible for many of today’s standard law enforcement practices. The Challenge of Crime recommended technological improvements including separate radio bands for police, fingerprinting systems, and an emergency hotline number which later became 911. It was one of the first major documents to recommend combating “ordinary street crime” as a matter of policy, concretizing Johnson’s “war on crime.” It also systematized the role of the federal government as a major funder of local and state law enforcement, with spending reaching $56 billion by 2016.

The Johnson Crime Commission followed on the 1929 National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, generally known as the Wickersham Commission, which conducted some of the first systematic observation of law enforcement in the United States.

Barr, in his remarks, noted that radical changes in technology make a new crime commission all the more urgent.

“The incredible pace of technological change has meant the rapid evolution of new ways to commit and conceal crimes,” he said. “All of you, because you’re on the front lines, see this every day—from the proliferation of synthetic opioids to the use of warrant-proof encryption and the dark web to sexually exploit the most vulnerable members of society.”

Important, too, is the trend of crime rates since the ’60s. In the years immediately following the Johnson commission, America experienced a precipitous increase in violent crime, with the per capita rate rising nearly 400 percent between 1960 and 1991. Then, crime began an almost equally precipitous decline—today, it stands at roughly the lowest rate in the past 30 years.

Since multiple factors contribute to the crime rate, there is no one explanation as to what caused crime to rise and then drop. The new commission is not tasked with offering such an explanation, but it will have to think hard about how to make sure a crime wave does not happen again.

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Virginia Dem: Gun-Rights Rally Was ‘Terrorism’

A Virginia Democrat said Tuesday that Second Amendment supporters who protested new gun-control legislation at the Virginia State Capitol had “terrorized Richmond.”

House Delegate Lee Carter, a self-professed democratic socialist, accused participants in Monday’s peaceful protest of menacing lawmakers, saying the thousands of “idiots” who demonstrated would only embolden the Democratic majority on gun control.

“The ‘pro-gun’ people that terrorized Richmond yesterday probably don’t realize that all they did was tag team with fascists, strengthen the liberals’ resolve to pass gun control bills, and force the most gun-friendly Dem (me) to not show up for a day,” Carter said. “Idiots. Absolute idiots.”

Contrary to Carter’s rhetoric, Monday’s rally “concluded without a single incidence of mayhem or civil unrest,” reported Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski, who interviewed various protesters. Gov. Ralph Northam (D.), who declared a state of emergency leading up to the rally, acknowledged the event was peaceful.

One rally supporter criticized Carter on Twitter for mischaracterizing the protest, saying he had called “a bunch of dudes in masks terrorist [sic] yesterday for…..wearing masks.”

“Nah,” Carter responded, “pretty sure it was the terrorism.”

Carter declined to comment when the Free Beacon asked to clarify what he meant by “terrorism.”

Upon declaring the state of emergency, Northam temporarily banned firearms from capitol grounds. Carter claimed he spent Monday at a safe house after he received death threats on social media in the weeks leading up to the rally.

Monday’s rally was organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-Second Amendment group.

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Government Union Reports Sharp Decline in Political Spending

One of the country’s top labor unions cut its political spending in union stronghold Oregon after seeing dues drop by $2 million, according to its annual report.

Oregon’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU) chapter reported just $1.6 million in political activities and lobbying in its 2019 report, down over $500,000 from 2018. The decline in political spending reflects the union’s struggle to maintain its membership after the Supreme Court banned mandatory fees in the 2018 Janus decision. Dues fell by $2 million in the first year after the ruling.

SEIU’s waning political influence reflects century-low union membership, undermining big labor’s longstanding support for Democratic candidates and left-wing political advocacy groups. SEIU’s Oregon chapter has slashed its political spending by more than 60 percent since 2017, when it spent $4.1 million. The steep drop was not limited to Oregon. SEIU, one of the Democratic Party’s largest donors, spent less than $45 million nationally on political activities and lobbying in 2018, down from $60 million in 2016.

“The unions are trying to hide the fact that they are losing members, money, and political clout, but the numbers don’t lie,” said Ashley Varner, spokeswoman for Washington state think tank Freedom Foundation. “Fewer union members means smaller coffers to spend on buying politicians and influencing public policy.”

Neither SEIU nor its Oregon chapter returned requests for comment.

Organized labor’s political spending has not always reflected its members’ voting habits. Hillary Clinton won union voters in 2016 by the narrowest margin of any Democrat since 1984, with nearly half of union households voting Republican. Despite this partisan divide among members, 99 percent of all union political contributions since 2010 have gone to Democratic causes. The National Right to Work Foundation, which successfully argued the Janus case, said the Supreme Court’s decision has forced unions to reconsider how they spend workers’ money.

“For years government union bosses across the country played politics with workers’ money, even though many of the radical policies and candidates they backed were opposed by many of the rank-and-file workers they claimed to represent,” spokesman Patrick Semmens said. “Now that their legal power to threaten public employees to pay up or be fired has been eliminated, union officials must refocus on representing the interests of actual workers or risk alienating more workers who are now free to cut off their political support.”

Top Democrats and labor leaders have rushed to bolster union membership and political influence in response.

In many Democrat-controlled states, including Oregon, new legislation aims to unionize workers without their knowledge and allow unions to collect workaround fees from nonmembers. At the federal level, House Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee have pushed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a union wishlist bill that outlaws secret ballot elections and gives unions the ability to force objecting employees to pay for representation.

Leading Democratic presidential candidates have also gone to great lengths to woo organized labor. Former vice president Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) all released big labor-backed plans to revive the country’s struggling unions, with Sanders aiming to double union membership.

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Montana Moms Fight For Religious Schools

A group of Montana mothers will take their religious discrimination battle to the Supreme Court on Wednesday in a landmark case that could affect millions of schoolchildren.

Teresa Schmit was relieved when Montana state lawmakers passed a tax break for private school donations in 2015. Schmit works two days a week as a counselor, while her husband works full-time at an engineering firm, to send their eight children to Catholic schools. Still, the family’s combined income cannot cover the tuition of even one of their children.

“All of the money we have we put toward their education,” Schmit told the Washington Free Beacon.

The family relies on private scholarships to cover the difference and hoped the credit for donors would expand such opportunities. Schmit did not count on Montana’s Blaine Amendment, which prohibits state and local governments from giving aid to “sectarian schools.” The state supreme court cited the provision, which is historically linked to anti-Catholic sentiments in the late 19th century, to strike down the program.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue to determine whether states can prohibit tax credits from applying to scholarships at religious schools while making the credits available to similar secular institutions. The decision could affect the 4 million students who attend religiously affiliated private schools. The case could mark a turning point for the state of religious freedom in the country. If the Supreme Court strikes down Montana’s Blaine Amendment, it could open up constitutional challenges to similar provisions enshrined in the constitutions of 37 other states.

The parents argue that the state court’s decision effectively discriminates against people of faith by denying them access to a widely available public program solely because of their religious beliefs.

“I have a stake in this because I want to support my children through private education,” said Christi Rudolph, a Montana native and divorced mother of two. “But the bigger thing is the families that are going to come behind me. I believe every single parent should have an educational choice if they choose to opt out of their public school system.”

For many Montanans, the case is not just about larger constitutional principles but the financial bottom line that restricts their educational choices. For the Schmit family, every bit of additional scholarship aid helps.

“For one kid’s education, we wouldn’t be able to put groceries on the table. We wouldn’t be able to pay our mortgage. So, if it wasn’t for the scholarship, you know, I actually don’t know what we would do,” Schmit said.

The Supreme Court previously heard a similar case concerning a Missouri program that denied improvement grants to a religious school. In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, the Court ruled 7-2 that the state violated the First Amendment by excluding parochial schools from a neutral education program. The majority emphasized that its decision was limited to the improvement project, rather than “funding or other forms of discrimination.”

If the Supreme Court decides to reinstate the tax credit program, the ruling could motivate states to provide even more support for religious schools, expanding access for students across the country, according to Dr. Tim Uhl, superintendent of Montana Catholic Schools.

“If we throw out the Blaine Amendment then suddenly we’re going to have a radical transformation of school funding,” Uhl said. “We’re going to have a radical change in potential for different states…. That’s really what’s at stake.”

Oral arguments are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

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Beacon Extra 1/21/20

Welcome to the Washington Free Beacon’s morning newsletter, your comprehensive briefing on the Enemies of Freedom. To get this newsletter sent straight to your inbox every morning, sign up here.

FIGHTING NORTHAM AGGRESSION …Thousands Peacefully Protest For Gun Rights in Richmond,” by WFB’s Stephen Gutowski: The event’s peaceful procession marked a stark contrast to mainstream media portrayals of a rally filled with white nationalists and others prepared to do violence. The day’s rally concluded without a single incidence of mayhem or civil unrest …

Attendees did find their gun rights constrained in one way—a Friday evening order from the state supreme court left in place Governor Ralph Northam’s (D.) ban on carrying firearms in the area around the state capitol. The [Virginia Citizens Defense League], which had brought suit to try to enjoin the order, told its supporters over the weekend to abide by Northam’s decision.

HIDE YOUR STAPLERS …Amy Klobuchar desperately wants an Iowa moment. Impeachment is getting in the way.,” via WAPO: “I think you all know that I’m going to have to be leaving actually tomorrow night and going back to the impeachment hearing,” Klobuchar said, as she opened her event [in Waukee] before about 150 voters. “We get a lot of questions about, well, how are you going to keep running? I always tell people that I’m a mom and I can do two things at once.”

But you couldn’t miss the disappointment in Klobuchar’s voice. The impeachment trial comes as things have finally seemed to be going her way.

MORONS FOR HILLARY …Fans give up Social Security numbers to hear Hillary Clinton speak,” via PAGE SIX: Clinton was hawking her new Hulu docuseries “Hillary” with a speech at the Langham Huntington hotel in Pasadena, Calif., and we’re told, “Everyone had to give Social Security numbers to get in! It was the only way to get in.” …

Clinton attended with her former top aide Huma Abedin.

SEND THE BOMBERS …Iran Threatens to End Cooperation With International Nuclear Inspectors,” by WFB’s Adam Kredo: Iranian leaders are threatening to sever their country’s cooperation with international nuclear inspectors tasked with ensuring the Islamic Republic does not resume its secretive work on a nuclear weapon.

As the United States and Europe tighten the economic noose on Iran’s economy, Iran has significantly scaled back its commitment to the landmark nuclear accord. In addition to resuming the enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, Tehran has signaled that it is picking back up its nuclear bomb work.

HE’LL BLENDAs his impeachment trial consumes Washington, Trump heads to Davos,” via NBC NEWS: [President] Trump is scheduled to land Tuesday in Davos, where he will speak before a group of executives, financiers, and foreign dignitaries at the World Economic Forum just hours before the Senate is set to begin the first full day of his impeachment trial. He is also expected to hold a series of meetings with world leaders over the next two days, where he can respond to the impeachment developments in real time from across the Atlantic Ocean.

The platform will give Trump the chance to tout U.S. economic growth and recent trade deals with China and Mexico, elements his campaign views as key to his re-election bid.

MEDIA LAMENTS LACK OF VIOLENCE … Virginia Second Amendment rally proves the media hate gun owners,” via EXAMINER: It’s not hard to read between the lines of the Washington Post’s coverage: “Chants of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’ broke out every few minutes, but by 10:15 a.m. there were no signs of violence or conflict with law enforcement officers.” …

We know that the media smear marches they hate. It was one year ago that the Washington Post and other outlets recklessly and falsely cast a crew of Catholic schoolboys in MAGA hats as nasty racists.

FAKING NEWS …MSNBC Anchor: White Nationalists ‘Swarming’ VA State Capitol,” by WFB’s Cameron Cawthorne: “Right now thousands of gun rights activists, white nationalists, militia groups—all swarming the Virginia state capitol in Richmond,” [Craig] Melvin said following a “breaking news” alert …

The rally “is not organized by racists and they won’t be in any way a significant portion of the attendees,” Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski said.

I HAVE A NIGHTMARE …Yale Taps BDS Activist as MLK Day Speaker,” by WFB’s Adam Kredo: Yale selected prominent black power movement leader Angela Davis to speak at its MLK Day commemoration event on Thursday. Davis is an outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which wages economic warfare on Israel. Davis also has faced accusations of anti-Semitism for her support of the Soviet Union’s suppression of Jewish dissidents …

The promotion of BDS at U.S. colleges has long been a focal point in the pro-Israel community’s efforts to combat growing anti-Semitism on campus, an issue that has received renewed scrutiny in the wake of several violent attacks on Jews across the country.

WHY CHOOSE ONE WHEN WE CAN HAVE ALL THREE …THE ENDORSEMENT: Melania and Ivanka Trump (and Tiffany),” by WFB Staff: Endorsing a candidate for First Lady not named Trump would, in our esteemed estimation, be an exercise in futility. Melania, the incumbent, has demonstrated a commanding grace and sense of style that Americans of all genders can admire. The success of her “Be Best” initiative has shattered the toxic stereotypes perpetuated by her predecessor, Michelle Obama. Being FLOTUS can and should involve more than simply lecturing children about vegetables and planting a garden in your backyard.

Ivanka Trump would also be a fabulous choice to serve in the highest female office in the land … One day, God willing, Ivanka will prove Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) wrong once and for all by demonstrating that, yes, a woman can become president.

DAYS SINCE JOE BIDEN DID A SUNDAY SHOW: 1,136. Come back, Joe!

You know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.” —Former President Barack Obama

Thanks for reading! Send tips to rutz@freebeacon.com.

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CNN Brings on Hard-Hitting White House Correspondent to Join Jim Acosta

John Harwood announced he has left CNBC for CNN on Tuesday, as the network adds to its deep bench of White House reporting talent.

His announcement was met with wide acclaim, even from leading conservatives like Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin.

Indeed, Jen. For so many reasons, this is a home-run hire for CNN. It’s almost unfair that the outlet that already boasts Jim Acosta has added this giant of straight-down-the-middle reporting to its roster.

Harwood is a well-sourced veteran of Washington who can appeal to the leading experts for their insights. For instance, on Sept. 21, 2015, Harwood emailed Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta for advice on what to ask Jeb Bush during his interview the following day. Incredible access!

Six days later, Harwood showed off his forward-thinking journalism and political foresight when he emailed Podesta and Jake Sullivan, a Clinton adviser, that he couldn’t believe “that some people still think it’s worth burning so much interview time with [the] person most likely to be next president on her emails.” He was so rightHillary Clinton very nearly became the president.

Harwood is a kind soul too; it comes off in his Dec. 8, 2015, message to Podesta in which Harwood said Barack Obama should feel “vindication at this demonstration of his years-long point about the opposition party veering off the rails.”

“I certainly am feeling that way with respect to how I questioned Trump at our debate,” Harwood added.

Harwood was referring to his moderation of the CNBC Republican debate on Oct. 28, 2015. It was one of the most widely panned debates in recent history, even though Harwood and his compatriots elicited thoughtful answers on significant problems facing the United States, like regulating fantasy football and whether Donald Trump was running a “comic book version of a presidential campaign.” Harwood also asked Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) if he hated his job and clumsily tried to trap then-New Jersey governor Chris Christie into saying he supported the federal government driving action on climate change (Christie didn’t).

Some may have seen a “liberal hack” there, but others saw a heroic journalist realizing the only way to make sure none of NBC’s umbrella of networks held any more GOP debates was to utterly ruin one himself. It worked. The same week, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus cut off NBC News from moderating a planned February debate.

In fairness, Harwood wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions with Democrats. During an interview with Barack Obama for the New York Times shortly before he took office in 2009, Harwood noted that, like John F. Kennedy, Obama “also made history, came in with a young, attractive family, had a lot of big Harvard brains around him.” Obama could hardly muster a response!

On Harwood’s Twitter feed, he shares deep observations from his experience as a straight-down-the-middle Washington correspondent.

One final plus side to Harwood joining the White House beat: President Trump can do his spot-on impression of him to his face! That will be fun.

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Mayor Pete’s ‘Please Clap’ Moment

Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg channeled Jeb Bush on Tuesday, pleading with a crowd of Iowans to support him with a “come on.” Bush memorably asked an audience of silent New Hampshire voters in 2016 to “please clap” for him.

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WATCH: Here’s What Happened at the Richmond Gun-Rights Rally

Despite media predictions of violence from fringe groups, Monday’s gun-rights demonstration in Richmond, Va., saw tens of thousands of attendees peacefully demonstrating for their constitutional rights, Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski reported.

Demonstrators held signs displaying phrases like, “Gun rights are women’s rights,” “We will not comply,” and “I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns.” Gutowski, who was on the scene for his Free Beacon-presented YouTube show Range Time, said he was struck by the size of the rally and noted the absence of violence, white supremacist agitation, or even counter-protesters: “All we had were people from Virginia here to support their right to bear arms.”

Gutowski captured interviews with attendees eager to discuss why they were out on a brisk Monday morning to lobby the Virginia state legislature. One of those attendees was Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), the group that organized Monday’s demonstration.

Van Cleave said the VCDL’s goal was to send a signal to the Virginia legislature to “walk away” from the gun issue. Asked which of the gun-control proposals floated by Democrats in the legislature he was most concerned about, Van Cleave pointed to red flag laws and a potential ban on AR-15s.

Another attendee, Mark (who declined to provide his last name), said he was at the rally because gun rights are both a constitutional right and a civil right.

“I love this country. It’s about the Second Amendment, it’s about our ability to defend ourselves and our loved ones. It’s not only a constitutional rights issue but it’s also a civil rights issue,” he told Gutowski.

“For me, as an African American on MLK Day, it’s critically important that we preserve the ability to defend ourselves and our loved ones,” he added.

Gutowski’s experience contrasted strongly with descriptions of the rally by the media and members of the Democratic Party. MSNBC host Craig Melvin said that “thousands of gun-rights activists, white nationalists, militia groups” were “swarming the Virginia state capitol in Richmond.” The creative director for the Democratic Governors Association retweeted a tweet claiming that legally carrying rifles was “terrorism.”

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Yale Taps BDS Activist as MLK Day Speaker

Angela Davis

For a Martin Luther King Day event, Yale University tapped a keynote presenter who is an outspoken supporter of the Israel boycott movement and has faced accusations of anti-Semitism.

Yale selected prominent black power movement leader Angela Davis to speak at its MLK Day commemoration event on Thursday. Davis is an outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which wages economic warfare on Israel. Davis also has faced accusations of anti-Semitism for her support of the Soviet Union’s suppression of Jewish dissidents.

Davis was selected to keynote the event by assistant dean of Yale College and director of the Afro-American Cultural Center Risë Nelson, according to the Yale Daily News. The decision was supported by the MLK2020 planning committee.

Davis’s participation in the event is just the latest instance of an American university promoting a BDS leader. The promotion of BDS at U.S. colleges has long been a focal point in the pro-Israel community’s efforts to combat growing anti-Semitism on campus, an issue that has received renewed scrutiny in the wake of several violent attacks on Jews across the country.

Davis rose to prominence as a leader in the black power movement in the 1970s. She served as a member of the Los Angeles Black Panther Party chapter and of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a militant black power group. Davis spent more than a year in prison on charges of participating in the 1970 armed takeover of a California courtroom.

Davis’s support for the BDS movement led an Alabama civil rights organization to revoke an award to her in January 2019.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was slated to award Davis with its Fred L. Shuttlesworth honor, named after the civil rights leader, but revoked the accolade after the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center wrote a letter expressing its concern over Davis’s support for BDS.

In an interview with Democracy Now! during the controversy, Davis affirmed her support for boycotts against Israel.

“I have never concealed my support for the boycott, sanctions movement,” she said. “As a matter of fact, when BDS was created, in 2005, I believe, as a response to efforts by Palestinian civil society to take measures that are in the spirit of the civil rights movement, as a matter of fact, it has been characterized as a nonviolent effort by Palestinian civil society to challenge the repression that is so pervasive in occupied Palestine. I have been a supporter of justice for Palestine almost as long as I can remember, at least since my years in college.”

Jewish political commentator Jonathan Tobin, in discussing the controversy, noted that the incident was not the first time Davis was accused of anti-Semitism.

“As a radical celebrity in the 1970s as well as a prominent Communist and supporter of the Soviet Union and its satellite regimes, she was asked to support the struggle for human rights in those countries,” Tobin wrote. “In particular, some on the left pleaded with her to aid Jews who were persecuted by the anti-Semitic Soviet government, which refused them the right to leave for Israel or to practice Judaism at home.”

Davis once said of Czech dissidents, “They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison,” Tobin noted. “According to Alan Dershowitz, who also asked for help for Jewish refuseniks and other prisoners of conscience, she told him, ‘They are all Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism.'”

Yale University and the Yale Daily New did not respond to requests for comment.

Last week, Congress held hearings on “Confronting the Rise in Anti-Semitic Domestic Terrorism.”

“If you are an anti-Zionist today you are, at best, indifferent to the fate of the only viable Jewish community remaining in the Middle East,” Clifford May, founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, testified before Congress’s subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism. “In other words, to an anti-Zionist, Jewish lives don’t matter.”

“If anti-Semitism is a disease, what we’re experiencing today is a global epidemic. Jew hatred has become not just widely acceptable but edgy, if not fashionable—even in lands where there are virtually no Jews,” May said.

The post Yale Taps BDS Activist as MLK Day Speaker appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Beacon Extra 1/20/20

Welcome to the Washington Free Beacon’s morning newsletter, your comprehensive briefing on the Enemies of Freedom. To get this newsletter sent straight to your inbox every morning, sign up here.

SOLEMN SMILES …Dem Rep: ‘There Was No Joy’ at Impeachment Ceremony,” by WFB’s Graham Piro: “There was no joy in that ceremony,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. “And from the very beginning through the end, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi has been clear that we are going to proceed in a very serious and solemn and sober fashion.”

Anchor Chris Wallace had shown Jeffries photos of the ceremony, indicating that “all the participants look pretty happy.”

IT’S ALL ON VHS … Biden and Sanders Fight Over Social Security,” via WSJ: “The facts are very clear: [Joe] Biden not only pushed to cut Social Security—he is on tape proudly bragging about it on multiple occasions,” [Bernie Sanders campaign manager] Faiz Shakir said.

The Sanders campaign pointed to 1995 Senate floor speeches in which Mr. Biden noted his work with Republicans to balance the federal budget.

COMRADES, PLEASE! …Sanders and Warren Try to Tone Down Rift. Some of Their Supporters Seem Less Willing,” via NYT: Yet after [Senator Bernie] Sanders and [Senator Elizabeth] Warren, of Massachusetts, angrily accused one another of lying about whether he had told her a woman could not defeat President Trump, and with just over two weeks until the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, supporters of the two progressives and erstwhile political allies remained upset.

“I was really disappointed,” said Jayne Cousins, an ardent Sanders supporter who attended his [New Hampshire] rally. She predicted Ms. Warren’s claim, which Mr. Sanders denies, would adversely impact Ms. Warren because, she said, it was so implausible.

LETHARGIC FRONTRUNNER …Progressives Warn of a Great Deflation,” via THE ATLANTIC: [Joe] Biden’s rallies are consistently much less well attended [than ones for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren]. And although crowd size is not necessarily predictive of electoral success, it could indicate whether a candidate has a sizable pool of enthusiastic volunteers to draw from in the general election. A Biden nomination would trigger a huge deflation in enthusiasm, and a shrinking of that volunteer pool, progressives argue.

RUNNING SCARED …Under criticism, Buttigieg changes plans and will attend King Day event in South Carolina,” via WAPO: [Former South Bend mayor Pete] Buttigieg’s planned absence from the high-profile event was taken by some in the state as a slap at those voters.

“I’m putting this out there. Candidates skipping King Day at the Dome is disrespectful [as it gets,]” Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state legislator who endorsed Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D., Calif.) before her departure from the presidential race, tweeted on Friday. “You don’t miss an Iowa steak fry. Look, you’re not just speaking to black folk in SC you’re speaking to black folks throughout the South. I’m disappointed. It’s like you don’t care.”

SHUT UP AND DRIBBLE … ‘It’s going to be devastating’: Senators gear up for no-talking, no-electronics impeachment trial rules,” via CNN: To start, lawmakers used to giving lengthy speeches on the Senate floor to weigh in on the issues of the day will instead have to be quiet. Official decorum guidelines for the trial released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s offices say that senators must refrain from speaking while the case is being presented …

“It’s going to be devastating for some,” Democratic senator Jon Tester of Montana said with a smile about the fact that senators won’t be able to talk. 

MIGA? …‘Make Iran Great Again!’: Trump hits back after Khamenei’s gibe,” via POLITICO: Shortly after Trump’s tweet, [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s official English language account tweeted out that the U.S. government lies when saying it stands with the Iranian people.

“If you are standing by the Iranian ppl, it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers. Of course, you have so far failed to do so, & you will certainly continue to fail,” Khamenei’s account said.

Trump retweeted his response in both English and Farsi: “The noble people of Iran—who love America—deserve a government that’s more interested in helping them achieve their dreams than killing them for demanding respect. Instead of leading Iran toward ruin, its leaders should abandon terror and Make Iran Great Again!”

FINISHING WHAT MEL GIBSON STARTED …UK’s Harry and Meghan to drop titles and retire as working royals,” via REUTERS: The couple’s plans for independence, announced after a long break over the Christmas period in Canada, caught the rest of the royal family by surprise earlier this month and left the queen and other senior Windsors hurt and disappointed, according to royal sources.

However, in a TV interview aired in October, both had made it clear how they were struggling with the immense media attention. Harry said he felt his wife had faced “bullying” from some tabloids. 

RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE … “NBC News’ Ben Collins slammed for warning of ‘white nationalist rally in Virginia’,” via FOX NEWS: Ahead of Monday’s gun-rights rally in Virginia, NBC News reporter Ben Collins labeled the event a “white nationalist” gathering Sunday, even as he warned against spreading “made-up stuff” on Twitter—prompting scores of critics to point out the apparent irony and to condemn his network for sanctioning Collins’ checkered reporting on the so-called “dystopia beat.” …

Commentators and Second Amendment advocates had unloaded on Collins, asserting that it was strikingly unfair to claim that the thousands of expected attendees at the gun-rights rally were attending a “white nationalist” event simply because a handful of people outside the state potentially plotted to attend.

A TIME FOR NOT CHOOSING …Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren: The Democrats’ Best Choices for President,” via NYT: There will be those dissatisfied that this page is not throwing its weight behind a single candidate, favoring centrists or progressives. But it’s a fight the party itself has been itching to have since Mrs. Clinton’s defeat in 2016, and one that should be played out in the public arena and in the privacy of the voting booth. That’s the very purpose of primaries, to test-market strategies and ideas that can galvanize and inspire the country.

Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Warren right now are the Democrats best equipped to lead that debate.

May the best woman win.

REID’S CYBER EXPERT UNAVAILABLE FOR COMMENT …Joy Reid Body Language Expert Says Elizabeth Warren Was Telling the Truth: ‘I Think Bernie’s Lying’,” via MEDIAITE: “Most of us want to deal with it afterwards instead of just going right for it,” [body language expert Janine] Driver said, and added “The fact that Elizabeth Warren not only came right over, she squared her body, he’s giving her the cold shoulder, he doesn’t turn to her, she says ‘I think you just called me a liar on national TV,’ if you go back to Wienergate, you go back to all of these political armageddons when it comes to deception, no one calls someone else a liar.”

LACK OF JEW-BAITING DAMPENS ENTHUSIASM …Women’s March Draws A Smaller, But Passionate Crowd,” via NPR: The fourth annual Women’s March descended on the streets of Washington on Saturday. But unlike the first demonstration that brought hundreds of thousands to the capital the day after President Trump’s inauguration, the march drew just a fraction of the original turnout as the movement has struggled with changes in leadership and questions about inclusivity …

After claims of anti-Semitism pushed three founding members of the Women’s March to step down from their roles last year, a bigger and more diverse board took their place.

WE READ IT BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE WILL … Review: ‘Restoring Our Republic’ by Ned Ryun,” by WFB’s Andrew Stiles: How many times should the word “transcendent” need to appear in a book about the history of the American republic and how to “reclaim” it from the communists? Once? Twice? Surely, 13 times is excessive, but Ryun lets it fly like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stuttering at the podium. The word “Trump,” meanwhile, appears just one time and only in the context of praising the administration’s efforts to reform the Department of Agriculture, an agency that ought to have been abolished by now if we are serious about promoting “small government” in this country. Alas…

DAYS SINCE JOE BIDEN DID A SUNDAY SHOW: 1,135. Come back, Joe!

You know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.” —Former President Barack Obama

Thanks for reading! Send tips to rutz@freebeacon.com.

The post Beacon Extra 1/20/20 appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Thousands Peacefully Protest For Gun Rights in Richmond

Tens of thousands gathered in Richmond, Va., on Monday to oppose new gun-control measures being pushed by Democrats in the state legislature.

The event’s peaceful procession marked a stark contrast to mainstream media portrayals of a rally filled with white nationalists and others prepared to do violence. The day’s rally concluded without a single incidence of mayhem or civil unrest.

Music, shared food, and chants of “USA!” made for a festive, fraternal atmosphere as marchers displayed their support for Second Amendment rights in Virginia. The march has been put on annually by the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), a pro-gun-rights group that has been at the center of the controversy around new gun-control legislation. Monday’s protest, however, was by far the largest turnout, as gun-owning Virginians gathered from across the Commonwealth to advocate for their rights.

The culmination of two months of grassroots efforts throughout the state, Monday’s march showcases a gun-rights movement that is still gaining momentum. The massive turnout of constituents could further sway newly elected Democrats from more moderate areas of Virginia against the most aggressive gun-control proposals. A similar march, organized last week by the NRA, also drew thousands—all of whom were on hand to watch as state Senate Democrats dropped their AR-15 confiscation bill and moderated several other gun-control measures in committee.

Philip Van Cleave, president of the VCDL, told the Washington Free Beacon that the rally was meant to send a simple message to lawmakers.

“We want to send a signal to the general assembly to walk away from all this gun control,” Van Cleave said. “Walk away from that. And go do other things.”

Despite predictions to the contrary from many in the mainstream media, displays of violence were wholly absent from Monday’s protest. The generally festive atmosphere belied the fears, promoted by media outlets and Democratic politicians, that the event had been co-opted by violent, white-nationalist extremists. The Free Beacon did not witness any acts of violence or shows of racism while walking through the crowds at the event; instead, attendees were focused entirely on gun-rights advocacy.

Mark, an African-American attendee who declined to provide his last name, drove several hours from Northern Virginia to attend the rally and said he was happy to be at the event and was bothered by the negative media coverage in the lead up to it.

“For me, as an African American on MLK Day, it’s critically important that we preserve the ability to defend ourselves and our loved ones,” he told the Free Beacon. “And I will not allow anyone to push a narrative that there are racist people at these rallies. It’s not true.”

Asked by the Free Beacon what bills on offer in the state legislature they most opposed, attendees most frequently cited a “red flag” law, which permits a judge to order a temporary seizure of a person’s firearms. Many Virginia gun owners are skittish about the bill—one protester worried there was “no co-legislation that would prevent abuse,” while Van Cleave said it violates “half of the Bill of Rights, if not more.”

Attendees did find their gun rights constrained in one way—a Friday evening order from the state supreme court left in place Governor Ralph Northam’s (D.) ban on carrying firearms in the area around the state capitol. The VCDL, which had brought suit to try to enjoin the order, told its supporters over the weekend to abide by Northam’s decision.

“We still will have our day in court to fully debate the governor’s unconstitutional overreach in just a few short weeks,” the group told supporters at the time.

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Dem Operative Shares Tweet Calling Gun-Rights Advocates Terrorists

The Democratic Governors Association’s (DGA) creative director on Monday shared a tweet calling it “terrorism” to legally carry rifles.

Zainab Javed has previously called for guns to be taken away but she took it a step further when she retweeted a left-wing Twitter user saying protesters were engaging in acts of terror by being armed.

“To be clear, this is Terrorism. This isn’t a peaceful protest; they’re amassing this heavily armed for the specific implication that if the Virginia Government doesn’t meet their demands, they will incite violence,” wrote a Twitter user with the handle @PanasonicDX4500.

Javed and the DGA did not respond to requests for comment.

Washington Free Beacon reporter Stephen Gutowski spoke to attendees and reported the rally was free of violence and racist displays, tweeting that it “was focused on gun rights.”

NBC also reported that the rally “was largely peaceful, with no reported violence.”

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While Discussing Peaceful 2A Rally, CNN Keeps Up Chyron About Kansas City Shooting

While reporting a peaceful gun-rights rally in Richmond, Va., on Monday, CNN kept a chyron up about a shooting the night before in Kansas City.

CNN reported on three recent gun-related events: a Monday morning shooting in Honolulu, a Sunday night shooting in Kansas City, and a Monday gun-rights rally in Richmond. As the segment transitioned from the Kansas City shooting to the Richmond protest, the chyron title read “Virginia Gun Fight” with the subtitle “2 Dead, 15 Injured in Kansas City shooting.”

The chyron was up for over a minute into the report about the peaceful gun-rights rally in Virginia before changing to “No incidents at pro gun rally after threats of extremist violence.”

Gun rights activists gathered on Monday morning to protest legislation considered by the Virginia legislature that would require background checks and ban some types of rifles. Virginia governor Ralph Northam (D.) declared a state of emergency ahead of Monday’s rally and temporarily banned firearms from capitol grounds. The Virginia supreme court upheld the ban. Some of the protesters openly carried their firearms outside capitol grounds. The rally ended Monday afternoon without any violent incidents reported.

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Northwestern Student Government Votes Against Free Speech Resolution

Eric Fredericks via Flickr

Northwestern University’s student government voted last week to indefinitely table a resolution in support of the First Amendment and freedom of speech on campus.

Northwestern student senators voted 12-11 in favor of tabling the free speech resolution, which came in response to student protesters attempting to shut down a speech by former U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions last year. Three senators abstained from the vote.

Those in favor of the resolution argued that the protections afforded by the Constitution were not enough to secure student protesters and activists, particularly in the context of the extreme actions that took place during the Sessions visit last November, during which students attempted to climb through windows and push through doors to disrupt the speech.

Northwestern senators on both sides of the vote declined to comment when reached by the Washington Free Beacon.

The resolution was introduced by freshman Zachary Kessel, who was published by the Washington Post in the aftermath of the Sessions protest. Kessel writes for the Daily Northwestern but disagreed with the paper’s decision to apologize for covering the Sessions protest.

In his resolution, Kessel recognized the “vital” role that his campus has in stopping the “movement against free speech,” in light of the illegal attempts to shut down Sessions’s speech. The resolution concluded by stating that Northwestern students “have the right to free speech and free expression, as enumerated in the First Amendment in the United States Constitution.”

Kessel expressed disappointment in the vote’s outcome, arguing that it disagreed with the purpose of a university education.

“It’s one thing to disagree with Mr. Sessions’s views, but another thing entirely to shout down any dissenting opinions,” Kessel said in a statement to the Free Beacon. “College is supposed to be a time to expand your ideological horizons.… I have enough confidence in the strength of my values to subject them to the light of scrutiny.”

The vote came in the wake of news that the city of Evanston has dropped 11 charges of disorderly conduct against five of the university’s student protesters. According to the Daily Northwestern, the city filed what is known as a nonsuit, declining to prosecute the students. The university has said it is putting the students through its own disciplinary process. 

Outside the November event, students attempted to forcibly make their way into the hall to disrupt Sessions. Despite being told by university police to stop acting disruptively, students continued with their behavior, leading to some being forcibly removed from the area.

Student activists had complained that photographs taken by the Daily Northwestern of the public event were “retraumatizing and invasive,” putting the protesters at risk of disciplinary action. Similarly, some students were angered that the student paper had reached out to protesters for comment through the publicly available student directory. 

In the face of student pressure, the Daily Northwestern capitulated to the activist demands and published a lengthy apology. Likewise, the
“offensive” photos and protesters’ names were retroactively removed from their original coverage.

“Ultimately, The Daily failed to consider our impact in our reporting surrounding Jeff Sessions,” the paper’s top editors wrote. “We know we hurt students that night, especially those who identify with marginalized groups. As a campus newspaper covering a student body that can be very easily and directly hurt by the University, we must operate differently than a professional publication in these circumstances.”

The most notable of the Daily’s critics was Northwestern University’s dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Charles Whitaker, who defended the paper’s original coverage. 

In a statement, Whitaker said, “It is naïve, not to mention wrong-headed, to declare, as many of our student activists have, that The Daily staff and other student journalists had somehow violated the personal space of the protesters by reporting on the proceedings, which were conducted in the open and were designed, ostensibly, to garner attention.” 

The paper’s editors, Whitaker said, were “beat into submission by the vitriol and relentless public shaming they have been subjected to since the Sessions stories appeared.”

The paper again took the side of the protests earlier this month when it published an anonymous attack against university administrators. The opinion piece called the university’s handling of both the protest and its aftermath “violent and repressive.”

The piece called for the “end of police presence on all Northwestern campuses” and said support for the First Amendment was “irresponsible and dangerous.”

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