Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Censorship of Conservatives Is Nothing New

America The Beautiful. Where You
Can't Speak Your Opinion Unless
The Press Lets You Speak
Conservatives gasped with horror when Twitter banned President Trump’s account and Google, Apple and Amazon banned Parler. 

Why is anyone surprised? Media outlets have been censoring conservatives for decades in America. 

Back in the days before iPhones and social media, the only way for politicians to communicate with the public — i.e. “voters” — was through old-fashioned, traditional means: like newspapers, television, radio and the US Postal Service. 

In 1984, former Congressman Alex McMillan of Charlotte (R-NC9) won a squeaker of a race over Democrat D.G. Martin by the slimmest of margins, 321 votes out of over 225,000 votes cast.

To provide historical perspective for Millennials, Apple introduced the MacIntosh personal computer in 1984. A decade later, the internet was developed. Two decades later, along came social media. There were very limited avenues through which conservatives could communicate directly with their constituents without filters from editors and journalists who disagreed with them and essentially suppressed their free speech. 

I was chief of staff to Congressman McMillan when his 1986 re-election race was the #1 targeted campaign in the country. In an attempt to build mutual trust with the Charlotte Observer, we allowed their quite capable political reporter, John Monk, full access to our office for four months to do an in-depth story about congressional life in general. 

When the article came out in the Charlotte Observer, it painted McMillan in an unfavorable light right in the middle of a tight re-election campaign. After blowing out John for writing such a hatchet job, for which I had to apologize later, he sent me the full article as printed in the Augusta, Georgia, paper which was part of the same Knight-Ridder chain that owned the Charlotte Observer. 

No one in Augusta, Georgia, voted for McMillan in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

It was fair and balanced, just as John said it would be. But the Observer editors had selectively edited the story down about 30%, ostensibly for space concerns. It was blatantly obvious they did it to help D.G. Martin in his rematch against McMillan because they agreed with him on every issue, not McMillan. 

We submitted numerous opinion pieces to the Observer over the next decade only to see most of them rejected. The Observer was owned and operated by staunch liberal Democrats who simply did not want to allow conservative Republicans a forum to air their political views and philosophy. 

As a privately owned company, they were entirely within their right to deny access to anyone they did not want to publish. It was just infuriating to conservatives to be constantly told the press is “fair, neutral and impartial,” when in actual practice, they are not. 

We went around such editorial roadblocks by mailing out eight million newsletters, town hall meeting notices and congressional updates to 250,000 households at taxpayer expense via the congressional franking privilege. Not proud to have to admit such a wasteful government expense, but the franking privilege and about $1.5 million in campaign ads, an enormous amount in 1986, were the only two ways we could get past media censorship and biased reporting in North Carolina. 

It worked; Alex McMillan won re-election by 4,221 votes, a virtual landslide compared to his 1984 win. 

Not much has changed in the media world politically since then except for the rise of Fox News, which used to be the news outlet of choice for conservatives for 30 years. Subscriptions and circulation have plummeted at large newspapers, but they still are echo chambers for such partisan political narratives as “Russian Collusion” and “Moderate Joe Biden.” 

The most troubling thing is how elite liberal media editors use the freedom of the press guarantee in the First Amendment to pound out the free speech clause of the same amendment for others. 

Be completely fair to all points of view or be honest enough to admit a specific bias so readers can make up their own minds about whether they agree with you or not. 

Conservatives have to stop whining about the liberal bias of the media and start owning their own news outlets. Conservatives should figure out what is going to replace social media and get ahead of the curve, not be smashed by it. 

There were thousands of newspapers and pamphlets, all of them partisan to the federalist or anti-federalist point of view at the beginning of the republic, many virulently so. America is going to be far better off as a country going forward with a cacophony of opposing views instead of the silence that follows dictatorial censorship of views that media chairmen, publishers or editors don’t like.

(first published in North State Journal 1/27/21)

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Knives, Guns, Politics and Arabella

A Washington operative called me last week and said: “Ever heard of Arabella? They turned Colorado blue. They turned Virginia blue. They turned Georgia blue. North Carolina is next. You better tell everyone to get ready and get prepared to fight fire with fire.”

Arabella Advisors is a for-profit organization that liberals have used over the past decade to help advance every cause imaginable. Every legislative success, every public relations coup, every successful legal challenge to our election process by liberals most likely was funded by some entity in the Arabella network.

There were over 4,000 election law challenges this past year brought by lawyers on the left. They did not do all of them pro bono. They basically overwhelmed the legal system and out-maneuvered Republicans at almost every level in targeted swing states.

“Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” goes the old adage. Arabella Advisors is, by definition then, the largest nursing blue whale in American political history.

“Dark money,” or independent expenditure committees, used to be despised in the liberal community. They decried the amount of money spent on campaigns, especially money donated to conservative causes by the Koch Brothers (but not massive sums of money donated to liberal causes by George Soros).

Liberals apparently paid close attention to the success of the Koch brothers after the Citizens United ruling in 2010 that opened up massive, undisclosed contributions to independent non-coordinating political committees. Some estimate Arabella has distributed in excess of $1 billion for the past several years.

Hardly any of Arabella contributions become public. Arabella acts like a pass-through organization for large contributions to be funneled to left-wing groups such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which funded the vicious opposition against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court; New Venture Fund, the Hopewell Fund; and the Windward Fund.

Much of the money is then forwarded to state organizations, such as Arizonans United for Health Care, Michigan Families for Economic Prosperity and North Carolinians for a Fair Economy, again with no fingerprints or disclosures by donors.

Republicans should analyze — and then copy — everything liberal Democrats did at the state level from the day President Trump was inaugurated four years ago today. Republicans are not great at “inventing” new electoral tactics or fundraising methods, but they are great at figuring what Democrats did to win in last election and then doing it better in the next election.

Put Democrats on defense in every contested state or district for the next two years with thousands of legal election challenges, massive voter registration drives and targeted communications against every far-left initiative they support. Once Joe Biden opens our borders and offers immediate citizenship to 11 million undocumented people in the US, introduces the Green New Deal and Medicare For All, and rejoins the Iran Nuclear Deal and the Paris Climate Accords, the 39% of the people who voted for him without knowing anything about him except that he was “Not Donald Trump!” will start to turn on him and his policies fast.

The first congressional mid-term for any new president is usually poison for his party. LBJ lost 47 Democrats in ’66; Reagan lost 26 GOP members in 1982; Clinton lost 54 Ds in ’92; Obama lost 63 Democrats in 2010, and Trump lost 40 Republicans in 2018. Other mid-term losses included FDR losing 72 Democrats in Congress in 1938 and Eisenhower losing 48 Republicans in ’58.

The average mid-term loss of any president has been 30 representatives in Congress. Biden may lose 50 Democrats in post-redistricting congressional mid-terms in 2022 after he introduces his onslaught of leftist legislation. In addition, a net eight congressional seats will flip from blue to red states, giving Republicans eight more opportunities right there to win back control of Congress and send Speaker Nancy Pelosi into retirement.

Former President Barack Obama was not kidding when he said, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” and somehow got away with it in the eyes of a fawning media.

Conservatives have to “out-Arabella” Arabella Advisors. When Silicon Valley oligarchs and George Soros write checks for $10 million, $50 million, $100 million or more to the Arabella network, conservatives have to be willing to match them dollar-for-dollar but be smarter about spending it on better things than thousands of trite television ads.

Today is a good day to start — the first day of President Joe Biden’s term in the White House.

(first published in North State Journal 1/20/21)

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Violence Is Our Common Domestic Enemy

Shays' Rebellion Was The First
It Won't Be The Last
Over 330 million peace-loving, law-abiding Americans, regardless of political affiliation, have a common enemy we can, and should unite against: violence in the public square.

Over 330 million Americans have not participated in any protest ever. They go about their daily lives trying to make a living every year. They watch the news and see tens of thousands of concerned citizens participating in various protests — which is great, as long as they were peaceful protests. Our First Amendment freedoms prevent the government from denying “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. 

The right to peaceably assemble to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman in Minneapolis was entirely appropriate and legal. The right to peacefully assemble to protest the outcome of the election was also entirely appropriate and legal. 

Several hundred people nationwide, however, perhaps a thousand total, decided to take it upon themselves to use violence instead of peacefully protesting. BLM leaders say their protests were “mostly peaceful,” but fringe members, possibly antifa, caused the violence. Trump supporters say their Capitol Hill protest was “mostly peaceful,” but fringe members caused the violence.

Regardless of who started it, any type of physical violence against an innocent person or their property is wrong. No one participating in any sort of peaceful assembly to petition the government for a redress of their grievances has any personal right or privilege to pick up a brick to break windows, torch businesses or storm the US Capitol. They certainly have no right to harm or kill other human beings. 

When any damage or physical harm is caused, the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted under equal application of the law. Our hope is that the guilty parties who stormed the Capitol will be swiftly arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to prison. Such a strict standard would set the bar for any prosecution of guilty parties in any future protest. The law has to be equally and equitably applied or else we will continue to see the violence of the past continue unabated.

People on both sides try to calibrate acts of violence by degrees of severity and acceptability depending on their point of view. Such arguments violate any sensibility of logic. An innocent bystander shot dead during a violent protest does not have the luxury of telling the rest of us they died for a “just” cause or not. Innocent bystanders who have their businesses and personal property destroyed by violent protestors did not get to vote on whether their property should be sacrificed for the cause, whatever it may be.

Violence is the problem, not our different political positions.

We, as Americans who love freedom and peace, have to come together across the ideological divide and collectively condemn violence as a whole, or else America will degenerate into an unwitting acceptance of violence forever on situational-ethics grounds.

The next time someone takes to the streets to protest any perceived grievance with which you agree, ask yourself if you would put a sign in your front yard and invite them to come destroy your property, break out your windows, torch your personal belongings and put your family at risk of physical bodily harm or even death. Better yet, cancel all insurance so you can’t hide behind the “Oh well. It is just property. My insurance company will pay for it” argument.

If you are willing to put your life and your property at risk for a cause, God bless you. But don’t act like it is an academic exercise to debate in a dorm room or salon parlor when innocent people you do not know are put at risk. That is not fair to them.

Is America at a time in our nation’s history similar to the early days of our republic, when violent demonstrations against direct taxation, led by Daniel Shays (1786-87), John Fries (1799) and James McFarland (Whiskey Rebellion, 1791-94), had to be vanquished by armed force? 

We certainly hope not. But 99.999% of our nation’s 330 million+ citizens deserve to be protected from the capricious acts of a few hundred violent protestors nationwide who seek to do physical harm to the rest of us.

We can’t function as a free nation without peace enforced by force.

(first published in North State Journal 1/13/21)

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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Electoral College Challenge of 1877

"Good Lord. I hope Americans in the
future know what they are doing"
Anytime something “extraordinary” happens in Washington D.C. where one side excoriates the other, you can rest assured they have forgotten, or never read, our history when their side would have benefitted from the same political maneuver in the past.

Liberals who are “aghast” at the prospect of a congressional challenge to the electoral college in 2021 would have been solidly behind the congressional challenge of 1877. The challenge dealt with egregious “voting anomalies” in Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida. Namely, the very dubious handling of election ballots coupled with outright, physically violent suppression of black voters, who were 100% Republican back then.

President U.S. Grant had worked tirelessly during his two terms in the White House from 1868-1876 to enact, establish and ensure civil rights for newly freed slaves after the Civil War. He repeatedly sent federal troops into the South to protect black citizens from attacks by nascent white supremacist groups, such as White Line and the KKK.

When Grant decided not to run for a third term in 1876, Republicans in the North and South were understandably concerned that if the Democrat candidate, Samuel Tilden, won, all of the progress that had been made since 1865 during Reconstruction would go for naught. White male Democrats desperately wanted to regain control of government and commerce in the South.

They intimidated black and white Republican voters in the South in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. White Liners forced black voters to tell them who they worked for before they voted, which opened up the possibility of being fired from their jobs. As a result, only two Republicans voted in Yazoo County in Mississippi in November, and only one Republican voted in Tallahatchie County, certainly one noticeable “voting anomaly” in the 1876 election.

Tilden easily won the popular vote by 250,000 votes but only secured 184 of the 185 electoral votes necessary to win. President Grant was resigned to accept the results without full knowledge of the voting irregularities in the South when he told his fellow Republicans the day after the election: “Gentlemen, it looks to me as if Mr. Tilden was elected.” But he told the press later in the day: “Everything depends on a fair count,” as is always the case.

As he was attending a closing banquet for the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, he was handed an emergency telegram from Interior Secretary Zachariah Chandler that said a train he had sent with election supervisors to the South to verify results had been “Kukluxed,” which meant the KKK had wrecked the train and thrown it off the track.

Certainly another notable “voting anomaly.”

President Grant immediately dispatched federal troops to Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana to protect the vote counts. In a fairly prescient comment, Grant said: “[S]hould there be any grounds of suspicion of fraudulent counting on either side it should be reported and denounced at once… Either Party can afford to be disappointed in the result but the Country cannot afford to have the result tainted by the suspicion of illegal or false returns.”

Republican Rutherford B. Hayes ultimately prevailed with 19 votes from these three states and defeated Tilden 185-184 in the Electoral College, after a 15-member commission of five senators, five congressmen and five Supreme Court justices voted 8-7 in late February to declare Hayes the winner, just before his inauguration on March 4.

The United States survived that constitutional crisis, which occurred in the afterglow of the bloody Civil War. The United States will survive the constitutional crisis of 2021 as well.

Democrats might find a Biden presidency to be a Pyrrhic victory in the end. Once Republicans figure out exactly what happened in the swing states, whether it was all on the up-and-up or not, they will copy and improve every tactic and strategy Democrats, such as Stacey Abrams and election lawyer Marc Elias, did in 2020 and use them in what should be a good Republican election in 2022, and then most certainly in 2024.

After all, once Joe Biden is sworn in as president on Jan. 20, everything that was done to get him elected will carry with it the imprimatur of being legal. What is fair in love and war is certainly fair in politics.

(first published in North State Journal 1/6/21)

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