Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21
It’s rare that conservative and liberal commentators agree with each other when they appear on news programs these days. But the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are simply too extreme to defend.
One of the latest stories out of southern New Jersey is that the state government reportedly seized the bank account of a gym that has defied mask orders. This money was supposed to help pay for the gym’s legal defense, but it has apparently been seized to pay for the fines they are still fighting.
“Let’s cut that out,” said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper on the Fox News Channel program “Fox News @ Night.” “Give people freedom. Let people recognize that they can be smart and make the right choices.”
Liberal commentator Kevin Walling called the move by New Jersey authorities “absolutely wrong.” He noted that there is “more community spread among households” than in places such as gyms and restaurants. Gym owner Ian Smith reported that there have been no COVID cases attributable to his business, despite over 80,000 customer visits during the pandemic as of mid-December.
And, with obese people found to be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, gyms are promoting good health now more than ever.
Horace said that what New Jersey is doing is counterproductive in light of the successes of other, less restrictive states:
We’re supposed to be encouraging responsibility. We’re supposed to be encouraging people to take the right steps.
But let’s also look at what’s happening in Florida. Let’s look at what’s happening… in the state of Texas. There’s a remarkable difference between allowing people to make the right and smart choices – listening to the science – rather than what they’re doing in New Jersey, where they’re shutting people down, ruining the economy in the process.
He also noted that lockdowns have ultimately been counterproductive, and they are saddling the new presidential administration with unnecessary, expensive crises:
And then the president-elect has to come out with a $1.9 trillion package as a way to obviate all of this.
Project 21 member Rich Holt held some apprehension about law enforcement officers because he was pulled over in the past for what he called “driving while black.” But, after he went on a police ride-along, he gained a new respect for the rank-and-file officers whom he called “the best and most dedicated among us.”
In a Washington Examiner commentary, Rich writes:
My ride-along had begun with a feeling of uncertainty about a day in the life of a police officer. I found these are good, dedicated people we desperately need to be doing this work. They face down the criminals, help the guy stranded in the street, and get dangerous drunks off the road.
I believe the officers I rode with are a representative sample of the culture of the police nationwide. Unfortunately, there are also officers lacking this altruistic philosophy of community service. And union contracts oftentimes prevent bad officers from being fired, force departments to rehire disciplined officers, and expunge disciplinary records.
Rich describes several of the police calls he experienced – from wellness checks to a tense and violent arrest. He says he discovered “the mantra of a capable, competent and professional police department”:
When it came to the arrest, over a half-dozen state troopers were engaged in an effort to subdue a drunk driver who kicked, spat upon, rushed and threatened to kill the troopers. “Despite the resistance,” Rich reports, “not one trooper pulled a gun.”
I later asked a trooper why they didn’t just shoot the guy. After all the videos of physical violence on social media, I wondered why they didn’t act similarly when the drunk guy said he wanted to kill them.
I felt it was the toughest question of the night and the crux of current law enforcement debate. Most officers do a fantastic job, but there are enough rotten apples to encourage the “all cops are bastards” narrative pushed by the Marxist Black Lives Matter movement.
The officer and his colleagues didn’t skip a beat in answering my question.
“When I’m out there, I’m all alone,” he said. “I’m 20 to 30 minutes from backup. I have to deescalate, or people die. If people die, people won’t trust the police. Deescalating is what we do, and killing that guy wasn’t the right thing to do. It’s my job to handle it.”
“While the media highlights ‘bad apple’ officers, police violence is far from the nationwide epidemic it’s portrayed to be,” Rich concludes. “Most police departments are filled with the kind of officers with whom I rode. They’re the best and most dedicated among us.”
To read Rich’s Washington Examiner commentary – “Good Police Officers’ Lives Matter” – click here.
This commentary is an abridged version of a longer essay Rich wrote in which he was able to describe in more detail the police calls during his ride-along and his thoughts on policing. That essay can be found here.
If your given name is Karen – sorry!
The name Karen took on new meaning in 2020 as the designated label for those intrusive scolds who make life less bearable. With pandemic precautions at a (ahem) fever pitch, it is the “Karens” who are acting as the mask police and as the neighborhood watch against unauthorized gatherings.
In the years to come, the governmental power of the Karen could come to the fore as the left ramps up its fight for socialized medicine. In a Townhall commentary, Free Enterprise Project Deputy Director Scott Shepard writes that the end result “would give the left standing to intrude into almost every facet of our lives” and “would extend the reign of the Karens indefinitely, and render it much more exultantly invasive and insistent.”
Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra was a co-sponsor of the left’s public option bill, a “Medicare-for-All” equivalent, when he served in Congress. While Congress is expected to push that sort of legislation again – with the renewed vigor of having control of both chambers – experts expect that Becerra will also do his part within the Biden Administration through grant programs to states that help to achieve the same goal without pesky voting requirements.
But this is a goal that’s best not achieved. Scott writes:
Consider how “public health” progressed in the emergency of 2020. Officials constantly changed their recommendations and their demands not in response to “science,” but to further political goals and in reaction to what they asserted (without evidence, of course, but since they were opposing Trump, the sneer was not employed) to be our vast collective stupidity. Pharmaceutical companies (thanks, Pfizer!) delayed rolling out vaccines to achieve base political ends. Politicians issued punitive decrees that they knew were medically irrelevant, without regard to the effects of their dictates on the physical or emotional health of those affected, without any concern for their ruinous effect on the economy, and without the slightest intention of following those decrees themselves.
This was all very bad indeed, but perhaps most appalling, or at least most damaging for any lingering respect one might have for the broad run of one’s fellows, was the furious glee with which normal men and women – even some neighbors and perhaps some former friends – became handmaidens (and hand eunuchs) of the lockdown state, screeching at the rest of us to “stay home!” – sometimes with an added pinch of vulgarity, to demonstrate that their intrusion into our lives was so vital that normal decorum must be sacrificed. These miseries’ demands could change instantly, as conformance with high-left current opinion demanded; the important thing was never anyone’s real health prospects (which would have considered study and reflection), but their opportunity to exert their control over us, according to whatever precepts at that moment most enhanced their opportunities to hector, and to compel.
And hold onto your hats:
The list of things that Karen will attempt to ban or to constrain will be as endless as her desire to run other people’s lives. It will – 2020 has proven this – not be tutored by science, but only by her imagination. Anything that she personally dislikes will become an unacceptably risky and expensive behavior.
To read all of Scott’s commentary – “Socialized Medicine: Karen Locking You in Your House, Forever” – at the Townhall website, click here.
Between the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday observance on Monday and the inauguration of a vice president with a multi-ethnic background on Wednesday, race will undoubtedly be a topic of much discussion in the week ahead.
And, considering the racial rioting over the last year – coupled with concerns about the recent breach of the Capitol – conversations will inevitably gravitate to the topic of protesting, and specifically what degrees of protest are acceptable.
On the one hand, there are the nonviolent protests for which Rev. King advocated. On the other hand, before she became vice president-elect, Kamala Harris advocated for a bail fund to help out rioters arrested in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd.
In PragerU videos, Project 21 member Derryck Green has previously discussed the history of racial protest in America – and especially the difference between modern-day Black Lives Matter protesters and the Civil Rights and Black Power activists of 50+ years ago.
Derryck notes that there is a definite distinction between today’s racial activists and the King legacy. He says:
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., was a staunch advocate of Christian nonviolence.
Rev. King believed that – in refusing to respond in kind to violent attacks – civil rights activists would be living testimonies to the strength of nonviolent direct action, to Christian character and to the morality of their position.
Before the momentous march in Birmingham, Alabama, activists signed a statement promising to – among other things – refrain from violence, pray for freedom, seek service for others, be courteous and remember that they sought justice and reconciliation.
In contrasting Rev. King with Black Lives Matter, Derryck points out the negative consequences of modern protests:
Civil Rights Movement activists were strikingly different from today’s racial activists. Love isn’t on the agenda these days. Retribution is.
As we saw this past summer, contemporary racial activists reject nonviolence in favor of entitlement. These activists have a long list of grievances that they believe must be paid. This is how the violence, looting, rioting and vandalism are rationalized despite the social and economic costs to low-income residents who continue to suffer the long-term consequences of these destructive behaviors.
That isn’t reflective of the dignity of Rev. King’s civil rights activism. It’s reflective of the counterproductive tantrums of the Black Power movement of the 60s and 70s.
Derryck concludes, “The left has appropriated the morality of Rev. King’s public ministry to shield it from facing criticism for having undermined much of what the civil rights icon accomplished.”
In advance of the second round of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, National Center General Counsel Justin Danhof, Esq., warned that congressional action against the president based on claims of inciting violence and challenging election results, in an action that might stretch beyond his term of office, could set a “crazy precedent.”
“We all condemn the violence at the Capitol,” Justin pointed out. “But if we’re talking about inciting violence, President Obama’s rhetoric against the police led to five law enforcement officers gunned down in Dallas. Should we go back and try to [impeach] Obama for that? I don’t think so.”
In an interview with Carrie Sheffield on the Real America’s Voice network program “Just the News AM,” Justin – who is director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project – also spoke about the silencing of the president and conservatives on social media. He said this problem was obvious long ago, and that conservatives must shoulder much of the blame for ignoring it while suggesting that “the free market will solve this”:
They said, just create a new platform. If you don’t like censorship occurring on Facebook and Twitter against conservatives – which has been happening for a decade – create a new platform. So Parler did! But then [Big Tech] disappeared Parler. They’re like an unperson from George Orwell’s 1984 at this point.
Justin compared what Big Tech is doing in the United States to how these companies are acting in China:
Let’s parallel this to how Apple operates in China.
At the behest of the Chinese Communist Party, Apple – of course – deletes many apps from its app store, largely news apps, at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party. And, specifically, they deleted apps that the freedom fighters in Hong Kong were using to communicate and to get information and to get news…
So clearly, in China, Apple is operating as an extra-governmental arm of the Chinese Communist Party – acting at the behest of the communists to do what they want. Well, we have folks like Nancy Pelosi and AOC, Kamala Harris in the United States calling on Twitter and Facebook and others to ban President Trump. And to take down Parler.
And what are they doing? They’re honoring those requests.
This creates a dangerous situation for transforming free speech protections and the open discussion of news and ideas in America. And the impact has been seen on Wall Street.
Twitter’s permanent ban of President Trump led to a dramatic loss of share value for the company. The company’s political decision has hurt it financially, putting investors at risk:
Lawsuits should abound from shareholders.
Because boards of directors and management – their job, under state law, is to act as a steward for shareholders. That is their legal obligation. They are not to act as an extra-governmental arm of one party of another.
Justin said that, like in China, these companies appear to be acting “to appease a political class.”
Stacy is the featured speaker for the latest edition of “The Amendments and You,” an educational series presented by Constituting America. This Zoom webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, January 12 at 2pm eastern. Click here to register.
The webinar is hosted by Constituting America Co-Presidents Janine Turner and Cathy Gillespie and will also include student ambassadors Dakare Chatman and Tova Love Kaplan.
There is no cost to participate in this webinar. Please join us!
While Joe Biden calls for unity and healing, his choice for the leadership of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is “actually quite disturbing.”
As the president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Kristen Clarke pushed for a partial defunding of police. In a 2020 Newsweek commentary, she wrote in favor of “defunding policing operations that have made African Americans more vulnerable to police violence and contributed to mass incarceration.” Instead of law enforcement, she proposed spending more money on “programs and policies that address critical community needs.”
During a panel discussion on “Fox News @ Night,” Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper said Clarke’s advocacy for stripping law enforcement of resources is in opposition to the documented needs and wants of black communities:
I will tell you – throughout the summer and heading into the election – survey after survey reported that black Americans said we want more law enforcement, not less. We want more responsiveness to our communities, not less…
And where are you now, Mr. President-Elect, when you’re nominating people like this who send a message that our communities – particularly black ones – are gonna be made vulnerable once again.
Horace added that the establishment media failed to fulfill its duty during the presidential campaign in reporting black support for the police:
If we’d had a media working aggressively to make sure the American people hear the kind of information that they need, they would have pressed the Biden-Harris ticket into answering the question where they’re going to come down.
He also pointed out that a radical nominee such as Clarke is as politically risky as it is tone-deaf on the part of the Biden transition effort:
Putting a person like this [in the Justice Department] is sending us in the very direction that led to the 2016 election, where Americans – black, white or brown – felt like there was an elite-versus-the-rest-of-us mindset.
And that mindset wasn’t a popular thing in the Obama Administration. And apparently no lessons have been learned.
As our government leaders impose more COVID restrictions that cripple small businesses, and as Congress wrestles with petty politics, one citizen has taken matters into his own hands.
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who has been openly critical of the suffocating restrictions, has started the Barstool Fund to raise money for struggling small enterprises. Although Portnoy is already immensely popular among sports fans, this fund has reached people of all interests and is exceeding expectations. The Barstool Fund was created on December 17th, 2020 and has already raised nearly $22 million with no signs of slowing down; all this money is being sent directly to small businesses across the U.S. in hopes of keeping the American Dream alive.
Portnoy is no stranger to the American Dream. In 2003, he took a risk and started his own sports gambling newspaper. Initially Portnoy struggled, handing out these newspapers for free in the Boston subway and on street corners. Over the next 17 years however, through hard work and a reliance on his own individual determination, Portnoy turned this newspaper into a $450 million media company. Portnoy is the epitome of the American Dream, and through his “brick by brick” mentality, he has become an example of what is possible when American citizens are able to pursue their dreams without government interference.
On December 11, 2020, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to close indoor dining in New York City, Dave Portnoy took to social media to go on a much-needed video rant. Portnoy vented his frustrations on behalf of small businesses and restaurants, primary economic pillars of the city:
What do [government officials] think is going to happen? The bar and restaurant industry and small businesses have been squeezed and squeezed and squeezed and they have tried everything and have been as creative as you can be to try and save their livelihoods.
He continued: “Now a few New York politicians are like, ‘you’re done, we are shutting it down’…how do you expect people to survive? Are people going to go out to eat in ice cold temperatures?”
This is common sense from an American who understands what it’s like to own a small business and to live paycheck to paycheck. Portnoy continued:
I cannot believe in this country, the right I consider the most basic of all, the right to earn a living… is now being stolen by a few politicians who think they are smarter than me and you.
It’s about time a predominant public figure had the guts to say it. The American people are fed up with politicians destroying their livelihoods in the name of safety. Dave Portnoy standing up to this blasphemy is a small step closer to having their voices heard.
To understand how these small businesses are suffocating, and the importance of this Barstool movement, look no further than the Facetime calls to the Fund recipients. Portnoy individually calls every business owner he plans to fund. The reactions on the side of the recipients tell you everything you need to know. Many are left speechless, many are brought to tears, and all of them tell Dave Portnoy how thankful they are for what he’s doing and also how tough the restrictions have been on their livelihoods.
If there is one takeaway from the Barstool Fund, it’s that the American Spirit is still alive. 2020 is a year no one could have predicted, but as we have seen during all tragedies in our nation’s history, Americans have an exceptional attribute of resilience and a drive to help one another in times of need. This is the latest example of the American Spirit, and as we enter 2021, it would do our country wonders to have more patriots like Dave Portnoy stand up to the nonsense of politicians in order to support their fellow citizens.
Learn more about the Barstool Fund here.
In a press conference that addressed protesters’ recent breach of the U.S. Capitol, Kamala Harris charged that there are “two systems of justice” in America with regard to race. It’s not a new claim for her – she made the same complaint in September to bolster her case about systemic racism.
While he doesn’t agree with the incoming presidential administration or local D.C. politicians on much, Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper did say “welcome to the law and order side of things” to them during an interview on the Fox News Channel.
While he agrees that the application of justice needs to be uniform, Horace is skeptical that liberals talking the talk now were actually walking the walk when Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators were behind the rioting, looting and mayhem.
In a “Fox News @Night” panel discussion about fallout from the Capitol protest, he said:
I’ve advocated – all this summer, and even prior to that – that we hold people accountable who use the pretext of protest for lawlessness, for engaging in rioting.
But at no point – at no point – should we give a free pass to people on the basis of their race. And it appears that that’s the signal that is being sent now, and the signal that was being sent then.
A fact check on police response at the Capitol and what has been done to control Antifa and BLM unrest in 2020 indicates that Harris is incorrect in her claim. Tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets were used against protesters in both instances. And the number of arrests at the Capitol appears to be higher – along with one police-involved shooting death of a protester and three underreported on-site deaths due to “medical emergencies.”
In a press release, National Center for Public Policy Research President David A. Ridenour called the breach of the Capitol something that “should be denounced by every American as an affront not only to the rule of law but to the tradition of a peaceful transition of power that has existed since our founding.” Released before the Biden-Harris press conference, the statement noted that the protest and the response to it “should also serve as a lesson about the dangers of intemperate language intended to advance political agendas.”
On Fox News, Horace further called out the apparent political double-standard in the handling of this past summer’s protests and the newfound interest in cracking down on dissent:
The White House got attacked this summer. Courthouses were attacked this summer…
And when I hear the mayor of D.C. tell me she’s for law and order now, I say: Welcome to the party – but where were you when you were sending this message that it wasn’t important?
Reiterating his support for an equal application of the law toward those who protest above and beyond the protections of the First Amendment, Horace said any newfound “unity” means we “should all focus on the one thing we can agree upon.” That is, of course, if liberals are not just engaged in political posturing.
You can’t make this stuff up. Actually, it appears Kamala Harris did.
Harris may have been caught once again making up things about her past. But that probably can’t be avoided after all her time hanging around Joe Biden and his penchant for tall tales, misrepresentations and plagiarism.
On a recent edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on the Fox News Channel, Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper suggested the runningmates should have campaigned for the White House under the auspices of “the Fabulist Party.”
In this latest instance, it seems that Harris lifted a story once told by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Playboy magazine – inserting herself as the protagonist in a version of the tale Dr. King told about a little black girl letting a white police officer know she wanted her “fee-dom” at a rally in Birmingham in 1964 or earlier. Harris was born in late 1964. So the Harris story – mentioned in books and interviews about Harris as a toddler demanding her “fweedom” during a protest march with her parents in Oakland in the late 1960s – is likely a sloppy theft from the civil rights icon repertoire, designed to appeal to would-be left-wing supporters.
But her need for “fweedom” would conflict with her family’s American story. Her mother immigrated to the United States from India, which is governed by a strict caste system, to become a respected cancer researcher. And her black father immigrated from Jamaica to go to school and eventually become a successful economist.
“Apparently Kamala knew it when she wasn’t even two or three years of age,” Horace joked:
It’s an amazing thing for her parents to come to America, leaving their home countries, so that they could come to this place – only for their child to know the woke truth, [that] America was this awful place, and why would anyone even want to come here.
It’s true that Harris’s parents were active in the Civil Rights Movement, but their own success is a testament to the American opportunity and exceptionalism that Harris and the rest of the left downplay and demonize. Horace explained to Carlson:
There’s this continuous need to hold this country in contempt.
It isn’t just an accident. It isn’t just a coincidence. There’s this idea that the best way to appeal to America – to take a leadership role in America – is by stomping on America.
And, as Horace pointed out, they are wrong:
Guess what? We are the greatest experiment in self-government that has happened for five centuries. And we continue to improve.
We ought to be celebrated rather than condemned.
“Amen,” replied Carlson. “I’m totally sick of it.”