Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21
Was there more to the dissolution of Google’s artificial intelligence (A.I.) advisory board than just an employee revolt against the appointment of a prominent conservative?
Information revealed by a whistleblower working at Google alleges that the massive Internet company is involved in efforts to compromise its popular search engine to “filter the content” and make the company the “gatekeeper between the user and the content they want to access.”
The National Center – through its Free Enterprise Project (FEP) – has sought to promote fairness at Google through “true board diversity” at its parent company, Alphabet. While the company agreed to a left-wing proposal last year which emphasized the gender and race of board of director candidates, it fought FEP’s 2019 shareholder proposal that sought a diversity of opinions and beliefs on the board. Alphabet successfully kept FEP’s proposal off the proxy statement.
During Alphabet’s shareholder meeting, FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq. made the case for diversity of thought within the company, noting how the uproar and subsequent dissolution of Google’s Advanced Technology External Advisory Council after the appointment of Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James exposed a left-wing bias within the company. He said: “Shame on Google and every single person involved in ending the A.I. board and giving in to this mob.”
Justin specifically asked Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai:
Will you commit today to a course correction at this company and start promoting actual viewpoint diversity? Perhaps you could establish a public policy advisory board that includes folks such as Ms. James to help the company actually become tolerant and inclusive.
Google Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker, who took the question while Pichai remained silent, never addressed Justin’s specific request. Instead, he claimed the company works with diverse political groups to “mak[e] sure our information is open and reliable.” This does not match up with coverage of the James controversy by The Verge that reported “livid” Google employees – including one who said the conservative leader “doesn’t deserve a Google-legitimized platform, and certainly doesn’t belong in any conversation about how Google tech should be applied to the world.”
It’s this attitude that also appears to be confirmed by a blockbuster report from Project Veritas. Using both undercover videos and an interview with a whistleblower working at the company, it suggests that the A.I. efforts at Google – also called “machine learning” – are being crafted to skew toward what liberals would like people to see.
In particular, this modification of the search engine algorithm may be intended to impact the 2020 elections.
Caught on video, Jen Gennai – the head of responsible innovation (A.I. efforts) at Google – said “they’ve been working since 2016 to make sure we’re ready for 2020.” She complained that the people and the media “got screwed over” in 2016, and that the company is working on “how do we prevent it from happening again.”
She admitted there will be “[p]eople who voted for the current president who do not agree with our definition of fairness.” The whistleblower, who remains anonymous, said Google is “not an objective source of information” under these new A.I. protocols.
Most people encounter Google’s artificial intelligence in the form of the auto-complete on a search. That’s when suggestions come up as search terms are entered. A.I. also determines which selections show up in a search. Google’s A.I. system is called “ML Fairness,” but the name may be the only fairness associated with it.
The whistleblower told Project Veritas:
Fairness is a dog whistle.
It does not mean what you think that it means. And you have to apply doublethink in order to understand what they’re really saying.
And what they’re really saying about fairness is that they have to manipulate their search results so it gives their political agenda that they want. And so they have re-bias their algorithms so that they can get their agenda across.
To make his point, the whistleblower had Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe do a Google search on “Hillary Clinton’s email…” that produced no auto-complete suggestions. Yet there were suggestions for “Donald Trump’s email…” even though statistics proved the former search was much more popular than the latter. But this fact, the whistleblower contended, is apparently considered a conspiracy theory by Google and thus it is “unfair to return results” on it. So it’s manually – and will eventually be automatically through A.I. – being manipulated away from search results “like it didn’t even exist.”
On video, Google software engineer Gaurav Gite said search results can be manipulated so that certain notions can be “balance[d] out” against facts. A leaked Google document further describes this by referring to such an imbalance as “algorithmic unfairness.” It also suggests:
In some cases it may be appropriate to take no action if the system accurately affects current reality, while in other cases it may be desirable to consider how we might help society reach a more equitable state via product intervention.
Another leaked passage suggests Google seeks a “single point of truth” in its searches. This, the whistleblower contends, is “alignment with the narrative.” This narrative, of course, is likely to be curated by those who consider Heritage’s James to be “intolerant” and “amazingly wrong.”
All of this goes back to the possibility that Google never wanted conservatives like James looking behind the curtain in the first place.
Summing up the apparent A.I. crisis at Google, the whistleblower said:
People have no idea that it’s happening. They still think that Google is an objective source of information, and it’s not.
Inclusion of real conservatives on Alphabet’s board and advisory panels could be an existential threat to these reported plans to make the company’s products a tool of the social justice narrative. Fighting FEP’s shareholder proposal is documented. Was the James appointment just a ruse? And, if it was, shame on Alphabet for putting her through the indignity!
And this is why Alphabet and other companies – especially those in the technology field that appear consumed by a left-wing environment – need true board diversity as promoted by FEP. Having an array of viewpoints at the table can have several advantages. It can help avoid the groupthink that seems to dominate companies like Alphabet. It can help avoid schemes like the one currently alleged to be co-opting Google’s search engine. And it can help stifle critics’ calls for government intervention against them.
If all of this hasn’t already made the case that Alphabet has strayed from the former Google motto and code of conduct of “Don’t be evil,” consider how the company has reacted to the Project Veritas report. The video was promptly removed from YouTube – which is a property of Google.
When you hear a corporation tout its supposed goals of “diversity and inclusion,” just know that this sentiment doesn’t mean inclusion of conservatives or those with deeply held religious beliefs.
It’s a wisdom Justin has gained from going to dozens and dozens of corporate shareholder meetings over the years and dealing with hundreds of high-level legal and executive operatives at those companies. In Justin’s new commentary on The Federalist website, from which where this wise observation was pulled, he describes FEP’s “true board diversity” shareholder proposal and the poor treatment he endured while presenting it at the annual investor meeting of Amazon.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t go well for diversity or civility. In fact, Justin was forced to endure assaults on his character that included accusations that he is a member of the Ku Klux Klan, just an ordinary racist and a book burner.
Of the many shareholder proposals presented at this year’s Amazon meeting, FEP’s was one of only two that came from conservative interests. Liberal proposals wanted the Internet retail giant to combat climate change, keep law enforcement from being able to use its facial recognition technology and censor “hate speech.”
In 2018, before last year’s meeting even took place, the company acquiesced to leftist interests by settling and implementing a proposal that changed board hiring practices to guarantee gender and race consideration for new nominees. Utilizing that leftist model, FEP’s proposal this year asked for similar consideration of the political beliefs of potential board candidates. That’s a factor that can provide true diversity to a company and is more likely to be a factor that can bring financial benefit.
If only the left understood the concept rather than obviously wanting to weaponize Amazon and other companies to advance its political agenda. As Justin recounts in the commentary:
After enduring this liberal drivel, I took to the microphone to present our true diversity proposal. As the director of the nation’s leading conservative activist investment group, I have watched company after company fold to left-leaning groups on many of these issues, including board composition.
Amazon did that just last year. At the behest of some of the same liberal voices yelling at this year’s meeting, Amazon adopted a policy that requires the company to interview a woman and a racial minority for all open board seats. The goal of the proposal is to avoid groupthink. This is a noble goal, but with an ignoble means of achieving it.
As I took to the floor, I explained, “this isn’t diversity. It’s racism and sexism. Not all women think alike based on the fact that they are women. Similarly, not all Asian or Latino or black Americans think the same based on their respective skin color. Diversity isn’t what someone looks like. It’s the sum of what that person thinks, feels and believes. When the company takes overtly political positions on legal and policy issues, it would benefit from having voices from both sides of the aisle in the room.”
Justin also points out how Amazon’s alliances with left-wing special interests such as the LGBT-promoting Human Rights Campaign and the race-mongering Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have put a target on the interests of people of faith and conservatives who are often falsely tagged as intolerant and racist. Good people are being silenced and prevented from participating equally – a practice that could be pointed out and challenged at the highest level of a company if board members hold contrasting beliefs from their colleagues. In the commentary, Justin explains:
All of this points to the fact that Amazon has no conservatives in positions of power. No conservative board member would sit idly by while the SPLC was allowed to run the business’s charity portal. It’s inconceivable. That’s why we think Amazon needs to institute a policy that considers viewpoint and ideological diversity. But such a suggestion was too much for the leftists in the room.
They booed and heckled me throughout my presentation. After my proposal, a representative from Arjuna Capital suggested that I was there to “protect white males.” Then, after the meeting, a representative from the Nathan Cummings Foundation tracked me down to suggest I should get going so I wouldn’t be late for my “next Klan meeting or book burning.” This is the guy who introduced a shareholder proposal calling on Amazon to ban content!
“Liberal intolerance for diversity of thought,” Justin notes, “is both top-down and bottom-up.” As such, Amazon’s leadership “flatly rejected our proposal in the hopes of remaining a liberal enclave.” Supportive shareholders openly jeered Justin.
While a horrible situation, it is a relatively new one. It shows the importance of having FEP at those meetings and in the proposal process. FEP is conservatives’ best hope right now for bringing the business world back to neutral when it comes to divisive politics and the abuse of corporate power.
To read all of Justin’s commentary in The Federalist – “I Was Called A KKK Member For Asking Amazon To Support Ideological Diversity” – click here.
It’s “amazing” that congressional gadfly Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, colloquially known as AOC, might think her radical and prolific comments shouldn’t be challenged – particularly from centrist political quarters.
In a new commentary published by Western Free Press, Project 21 member Jerome Danner takes particular exception to AOC’s comments that compared detention facilities for illegal immigrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to the concentration camps run by Nazis during World War II that were used to exterminate millions of innocent European Jews.
Jerome notes that AOC “continues to bring news on what feels like a daily basis.” And he predicts that “[s]he’ll continue receiving pushback against her socialist views as long as she voices them.”
In the commentary, Jerome uses AOC’s detention center-concentration camp comparison as an example of her out-of-the-mainstream beliefs and her willingness to shout them from the rooftops. This comparison was challenged by European Holocaust experts here and abroad as well as American politicians on the left and right. Even the media is skeptical of her on this issue, with Chuck Todd calling her out on MSNBC and saying “they’re not at all comparable, in the slightest.”
Jerome adds in his commentary:
It is amazing that AOC (and her fan base) could believe that the concentration camps of the Nazis, which were motivated by hatred of Jewish people, would be akin to the detention of immigrants at our borders. Anyone can agree or disagree with Trump’s policies on immigration or how border security is being handled, but making extreme assessments do not help the debate.
There is a clear difference between taking a group of citizens, starving them to death or gassing them to death (among other harsh crimes), and figuring out how to manage droves of people who desire to enter a country legally or illegally. If you cannot see the difference between Nazi concentration camps and ICE detention facilities, then you are the problem.
But he doesn’t think his criticism, of even the criticism of the establishment media, will be enough to cause AOC to reflect on her comments in the serious manner they deserve. He points out:
[S]he will never be free from criticism, especially because she is a representative of an economic and political system that opposes the freedom and free markets that many hold so dear to their political hearts.
To read Jerome’s full commentary at Western Free Press – “Chuck Todd Breaks Ranks on ICE-Concentration Camp Claim” – click here.
A recent congressional hearing, focusing on the idea of reparations payments to black Americans as part of an official apology for slavery, went nowhere.
While it did not produce credible ideas, it did encourage anger and confusion. It did not find solutions for healing race relations that got worse over the course of the Obama Administration, nor develop plans that would maintain the economic recovery that has been particularly beneficial to black Americans since Obama left office.
Addressing the reparations issue in a commentary published by prominent website The Federalist, Project 21 member Emery McClendon is especially critical of those who consider themselves black leaders who he believes have allowed the quality of life in black America to decline despite plentiful available opportunities. He writes:
We failed after the Civil War, during the civil rights era, and with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s implementation of the Great Society and its major welfare initiatives. Those were supposed to be revitalizing times for blacks. Yet, in the last case, welfare only increased dependence and destroyed families. What happened?
Over the years, black leaders failed to bring their communities to prosperity by promoting and teaching sound principles for economic growth. They also failed to help people use the resources that are available to every American regardless of their ethnic background….
Reparations are treated as the cure for inequality. But they are not.
Emery further notes that prominent black writers and wealthy black actors are perhaps not the best messengers for the assertion that black Americans are being deprived of the ability to succeed. He blames lawmakers for trying to use the situation to score political points rather than promote solutions:
Why should blacks want to seek reparations in the 21st century when slavery was ended by the Civil War more than 150 years ago? Why are Congress and others suddenly getting in on the act? It’s merely politics.
Reparations should not be a topic of discussion in today’s America. Progress and success should be our focus as we strive to achieve the American Dream. We should focus on keeping America great, not looking for another huge socialist payout.
Congress should instead be reminding black Americans that opportunities already exist for them as they have existed for generations.
But what really frustrates Emery is that these politicians used the observance of Juneteenth to push the reparations agenda. While Juneteenth commemorates the end of American slavery and is supposed to help promote self-improvement and community involvement, the partisan nature of the congressional reparations hearing was exactly the opposite:
It’s significant that the congressional hearing for Jackson Lee’s House Resolution 40 on this issue was held on June 19. Known as “Juneteenth,” it is the anniversary of when blacks in Texas first learned about the end of the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and their freedom. It is now celebrated nationwide to commemorate the end of black enslavement in America. It is also a day when black Americans are supposed to celebrate opportunity and self-determination—values prized by those newly freed slaves in Texas.
It is ironic that blacks are still calling for reparations in 2019, and using Juneteenth to do it. We have had many opportunities to put ourselves on equal footing with other Americans and pursue the American Dream. But too many of us have failed to do so.
Emery instead suggests “flip[ping] the script from reparations to personal responsibility” to bring about “lasting results that a reparations check can never do.”
To read Emery’s entire commentary – “African Americans Don’t Need Reparations. We Need To Take Responsibility For Our Lives” – at The Federalist website, click here.
If black Americans were to be offered reparations for slavery, would Senator Kamala Harris be eligible for them? Should she be liable to pay for them?
With Congress having just held a hearing about the possible debt owed to black Americans due to slavery, Adrian made it clear that what has been called America’s “original sin” is not “exclusively an American phenomenon.” Instead, he pointed out, “It has existed worldwide for thousands of years.”
On June 19 – the same day as Juneteeth, the day widely celebrated as the anniversary of the end of American slavery – a hearing on Capitol Hill to discuss reparations was as contentions as critics predicted it would be. “Racism and slavery was [sic] our original sins, and we’ve got to deal with reparations by dealing exactly with that,” Julianne Malveaux said. “Let’s not forget that race is central to anything we do related to economic inequality.”
But there still isn’t anyone who can truly answer the questions of who should get slavery reparations and who should pay for them. And these are just two of many questions that need to be answered about reparations.
Consider the example of Senator Harris, who supports legislation to set up a commission to make recommendations on the reparations issue. She is biracial – the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants. So her ancestors weren’t even here when slavery existed. But, as Adrian explained in his commentary, she has a definite link to that era. Her great-grandparents owned slaves in Jamaica.
Does her family history mean that she owes reparations? Adrian wrote:
[I]s Harris personally responsible for the plight of slaves hundreds of years ago? Of course not. She is no more responsible for actions taken by those in her family’s past than any white person in America is responsible for actions taken by their ancestors.
But, since she’s made atonement for past sins a current policy platform, perhaps she should lead by example and be the first among us to take responsibility; do what she’s asking much of the rest of the country to do and pay dearly for past transgressions.
Adrian further noted:
The progressive narrative of slavery paints in broad strokes and taps into centuries-old pain and angst by methodically re-crafting historical fact into widely imbued myth. It emphatically and falsely supposes the notion that America as a whole and white southerners in particular are to blame for slavery in the United States…
Rhetoric like “government-sanctioned discrimination” suggests the entire government had culpability. It’s a distorted view of the past shared by many on the political left, including Harris…
The language used in discussing reparations is wildly inaccurate, as it implies liability for slavery rests with the entire country.
Both the House of Representatives and Senate have voted to apologize for slavery and its aftermath in the past, but never offered monetary damages. Affirmative action was set up by executive decree almost 60 years ago to deal with inequality, and a myriad of welfare programs were set up to deal with economic inequality (with poor results).
During the hearing, reparations critic Coleman Hughes testified:
Black people don’t need another apology, we need safer neighborhoods and better schools, we need a less punitive criminal justice system, we need affordable health care and none of these things can be achieved with reparations for slavery.
If we were to pay reparations today, we would only divide the country further, making it harder to build the political coalitions required to solve the problems facing black people today.
Adrian added that any true solution will not come by way of an invoice for damages as much as by toning down the political rhetoric – particularly on the left – that is harming racial comity:
There are calls for an open dialogue on race. Neither Republicans nor Democrats can have a conversation about race by mindlessly reciting tall tales. We cannot allow physical shackles to be replaced by mental shackles that hold us in bondage.
To read all of Adrian’s Epoch Times commentary, click here.
Airline travel is up, but National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper warns that state-sponsored luxury carriers are exploiting an unfair financial advantage that could end up raising ticket prices for rich and poor Americans alike.
In a commentary published by The Western Journal, Horace notes that the recession that began in 2007 dealt a devastating blow to American airlines:
As you might imagine, the recession was a double whammy — it had a deleterious effect on the bottom line of the airline industry and for consumers, it reinforced a negative impression of flying.
As losses mounted, the industry was forced to adopt tightening measures affecting space, amenities and routes. Consequently, passengers with their own tighter budgets were faced with new fees, higher costs and more crowded planes.
This led to a vicious cycle. As more airlines cut back, more Americans showed a reduced willingness to fly. The real cause of the trouble — the spike in oil prices and the poor economy that hit almost simultaneously — was overlooked.
While the average American was thinking twice about traveling by air, Horace explains that a new class of luxury fliers who enjoyed a “hedonistic level of creature comforts” such as full bars, full beds, gourmet meals and even showers was created. While some of these travelers could easily foot the bill for such extravagances, a more important factor that benefits many of these airlines – including Eithad, Qatar and Emirates – over their competition is that they are state-owned and thus state-subsidized.
“These Gulf State carriers,” Horace writes, “are able to poach the best customers while marginalizing their competition — market-based airlines that must sink or swim based on the market.”
Profit-seeking airlines offer a mix of economy, premium economy, business and first-class flights on their planes. They make it possible for students, families on a budget as well as business and wealthy tourists to travel. It isn’t practical for the market-based airlines to cater solely to the wealthy. While first-class international ticket prices carry a higher profit share, the airlines must also have economy class fliers to achieve profitability.
Qatar and Emirates offer flights for economy passengers, but the subsidies these airlines receive mean that they can offer flights and services without regard to profitability and in the process cater to their affluent passengers in ways that are a significant challenge for their competitors.
American carriers, as airlines for people of all incomes, have made it possible for all Americans – white collar and blue collar – to travel all over the globe.
As fuel prices have undergone wild gyrations, the Middle East nation-state carriers have lavishly catered to affluent flyers and in the process placed significant economic pressures on the privately run airlines, particularly those based in the U.S.
While other airlines raised concerns about this unfair situation as early as 2015, Horace notes it was the Trump Administration that finally took the issue seriously. Agreements were struck with foreign governments to increase financial transparency and end some subsidies.
But Qatar recently bought an Italian carrier that it is rebranding as Air Italy. It plans for this airline to fly transcontinental routes into the United States. Horace notes: “While Qatar Airways agreed to limit flights between the U.S. and the EU, nothing in the agreement contemplated that Qatar might go out, acquire a carrier and make Europe-U.S. flights part of its regular operations.”
Since Air Italy as a carrier isn’t bound specifically by the most recent Qatari agreement, this “Italian airline” with subsidies from Qatar could replicate the luxury model of the Gulf carriers. Alternatively, it could simply adopt a predatory pricing strategy that dramatically captures existing EU to U.S. market share. The latter is the approach presently being undertaken, but if left unchallenged it remains to be seen which model will be adopted.
“To be clear,” Horace points out, “Air Italy should agree to be bound by the Qatari airline agreement… [N]ow isn’t the time to allow the international market to head back to the anti-competitive subsidy policies of yesterday.”
To read all of Horace’s Western Journal commentary – “Flying Shouldn’t Just Be a Privilege of the Ultra-Rich” – click here.
Maybe the Republicans in Virginia should have hired the Washington Post to argue for them before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Court just ruled against the Republican-controlled House of Delegates in the legislative redistricting case of Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill. The justices ruled against the delegates’ contention that they had standing to sue against court-mandated changes to their original plan. That plan was challenged as being racially discriminatory, even though the Obama Justice Department and the state’s Legislative Black Caucus both supported the map.
This ruling was on standing rather than about race. The more political cases involving redistricting that are being argued during this term – Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek – have yet to be decided.
What’s interesting is that the Post, seemingly without realizing it, stated the plain truth that gerrymandering is just part of politics unless the system is completely overhauled. And that’s not what the winners in this case really want.
Virginia’s liberal executive branch didn’t want to defend the case any longer, and this ruling said that was alright. Governor Ralph Northam said that “voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”
But the Post made a very succinct observation. The article explained in paragraph three:
Democrats have been hoping that a wave of successes in recent Virginia elections will move them into control of the legislature for the first time since 1995. The party in charge in 2021 will oversee the next statewide redistricting effort, following next year’s census — potentially cementing an advantage in future elections.
Republicans appear to be at a disadvantage in the next election under the court-drawn redistricting. If the Democrats take over, they will control redistricting – and will likely redistrict, the Post points out, to their political advantage. Possibly by using race.
So the cycle begins anew, but with the other party drawing the lines.
Back in 2014, Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof “destroyed liberal radio host over genetically modified foods.” That’s how the headline read on YouTube. But not even the headline is left anymore. YouTube pulled the Danhof video appearance down.
When conservatives gained prowess in talk radio, liberals tried to stop them by demanding “equal time.” As the Fox News Channel dominates cable, the left seeks to silence it by attacking its hosts, advertisers and guests. Now the left is actively trying to pull conservative content off of social media.
When it’s a fair debate, the left loses. So the solution these days appears to be to just shut down the opposition. Free speech for me, but not for thee.
In this case, liberal talk radio host Thom Hartmann petitioned YouTube – a subsidiary of Google – to remove the old interview he did with Justin from the National Center’s YouTube page. Hartmann posts his shows on YouTube. And, in that particular case, Justin was live in the studio with him. Hartmann apparently didn’t want to share the show when the results didn’t serve his purposes.
This is the blog post that went along with the now-removed YouTube video:
Watch as Justin Danhof, director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, takes on and soundly defeats liberal talk radio host Thom Hartmann on the issue of labeling genetically modified foods.
Justin cited settled science and the obvious intent of the organic food industry lobby to demonize GM foods, while Hartmann said he thinks groups such as the American Medical Association that find no harm in genetically modified products are corrupt.
Justin recently attended the annual shareholder meeting of General Mills, where the Free Enterprise Project helped decisively defeat a shareholder proposal to mandate the removal of all genetically modified products from its inventory.
Posting the clip should not have been considered a copyright violation. National Center media clips always contain an explanation of our legal use of the video. Here is how it reads on our most recently posted media appearance:
This short excerpt from the Fox News Channel program “The Ingraham Angle,” broadcast on 6/7/19 and featuring Project 21 Co-Chairman and National Center for Public Policy Research legal fellow Horace Cooper, has been posted under fair use guidelines for the purpose of non-profit, educational public debate by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a 501(c)(3) educational foundation under the Internal Revenue Code.
These video descriptions also contain links to the National Center’s web and social media sites to provide outlets for “more discussion” on the issues. But more discussion doesn’t seem to be what Hartmann and the left wants.
After all, Justin really did soundly destroy Hartmann in that interview!
Tomorrow happens to be the annual shareholder meeting of Alphabet – Google’s parent company. YouTube censorship should be a big issue; this past year has seen the platform demonetize, remove and set up strange new rules for content.
What happened to FEP is just one more example of the ongoing leftist campaign to squelch debate.
The “Hyde Amendment” – a long-honored, bipartisan federal provision keeping taxpayer dollars from funding abortions – is now one of the top targets of the left.
For more than 50 years, the Hyde Amendment has protected those who are morally and religiously opposed to abortion from having their hard-earned tax payments used to pay for a practice they find abhorrent. Specifically, it has been an accepted part of appropriations legislation for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since 1980.
Now, the increasingly powerful elements of the extreme left are demonizing the Hyde Amendment. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez started a petition to repeal it on the assertion that it “disproportionately harms low-income Americans and people of color.” In the presidential race, Joe Biden – who has supported the Hyde Amendment throughout his long political career – suddenly changed his stance to promise he would work to repeal it.
When Terrell noted that blacks in states that recently enacted commonsense abortion regulation disproportionately sought abortions, Horace tried to find common ground with his combative counterpart:
Absolutely, Leo – you ought to be with me on this. You ought to be joining me in saying let’s not decimate minority communities.
Whether you’re poor or whether you’re rich, we absolutely shouldn’t go forward with Planned Parenthood’s mission… from the beginning, which was to purify the races in the United States.
Horace also sought to explain the practicality and the noncontroversial nature of the Hyde Amendment:
Setting aside the clear error of Roe v. Wade, we have reached a consensus that… our dollars – our own personal dollars – will not go to a cause that violates our conscience and violates our beliefs that it’s a human being.
That is something that is part of the mainstream.
And, speaking specifically about the Biden flip-flop, Horace added:
This abortion position is an extreme one that he is embracing. It’s not authentic. And it just is a sign of the changes to come… as he struggles to appease the radical American left.
In the second of a series of Daily Signal articles about the National Center’s conservative shareholder activism, Free Enterprise Project (FEP) Director Justin Danhof explained the advantage the left has created for itself in the politics of investing. He also showed where conservatives can catch up.
Justin said there are “super easy” ways for conservatives to get involved in the effort to bring businesses back to their free-market roots.
The article focused on FEP’s “True Board Diversity Policy” proposal that was considered this year by shareholders at Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks, Twitter and other companies. It will also be under consideration at the upcoming meeting of Salesforce investors on June 6.
FEP’s proposal asks companies to consider prospective board members with diverse political beliefs as a positive aspect in the recruitment process. Justin noted:
The stated goal of diversity is a good goal, because you want the board to avoid groupthink. You don’t want everyone marching off the ledge in lockstep. But the way companies go about it is all wrong because they are only looking at gender and race, and that’s sexist and racist. If the companies really support diversity in the truest sense of the word, they would support our proposal.
The FEP proposal is patterned after a proposal the left pushed last year that sought to promote board member recruitment in a manner that valued race and gender. FEP reverse-engineered the language to highlight a person’s mind over their physical characteristics. Justin added:
Just putting people on your board based on skin color or gender instead of their expertise is bad for business. This doesn’t serve the corporate interest… I also added in ideology as something to consider in this day and age when companies are very political and take a lot of political actions.
The article, written by Kevin Mooney, also went into the minutiae of the proposal process and the hurdles conservatives face in getting a proposal before shareholders. Despite the potential for far-reaching change, they are limited to just 500 words and bolstered by a supporting statement that is not much longer. The crafting of a proposal is a legal art, as Justin explained:
There are a number of reasons why a company can kick out your proposal. In fact, most of the time companies will fight like heck to get your proposal removed any way they can. The SEC will also look for reasons. So sometimes we have to make them sound a little more bland than we want.
Then, should a proposal be accepted and added to a company’s proxy statement, there is a struggle for shareholder approval. Proxy advisory services can have immense effect on how investors vote on key issues. And, because they are often far to the left, liberal shareholder activists heartily embrace them and profess their importance. Commenting on one service in particular, Institutional Shareholder Services (whose support for the race and gender diversity proposal led to Amazon accepting it just before their shareholder meeting), Justin said:
Institutional Shareholder Services leans dramatically to the left. But they are the most important proxy advisory service in America. The [Amazon] lawyer said to me that because ISS came out in favor of this diversity proposal based on race and gender, what else were they supposed to do? They felt like they had no choice. That’s how powerful just one proxy advisory service is, and conservatives need to develop their own.
Justin said a right-leaning proxy advisory service is essential over the long term for conservative-liberal parity in the shareholder activism process.
But conservatives can still be effective now, and Justin and FEP welcome new allies:
We need to get more conservatives involved, and what I tell people is to please copycat me and take a look at what we’re doing with the Free Enterprise Project.
If the left can do this, how hard can it be? They know how to push companies. But to file a resolution, all you need is $2,000 [worth] of a stock.
To read this whole article –” Conservative Shareholders Push Facebook to Achieve ‘True Diversity'” — in its entirety, click here.
The Daily Signal is the news service of The Heritage Foundation.