Next-Gen Social Network Launched: No Ads, No Tracking and No BS!

Facebook is falling and can’t get up. But there is hope. There is a new social media platform for those tired of being sold like slaves. It is called MeWe.

It is simple to become a part of this “next-gen network.” Just click on this link and sign up on MeWe.

MeWe is the brainchild of leading online privacy advocate and social media founder Mark Weinstein, along with co-founder Jonathan Wolfe, and the platform comes with the full backing and support of major technology innovators such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and a member of the MeWe Advisory Board.was created by Mark Weinstein and Jonathan Wolfe. As of April 16, 2018 over 4,200 people have downloaded the MeWe app from the Apple store.

Here is a short video about MeWe.

According to Business Wire:

Online privacy company, Sgrouples® Inc., announces the launch of the world’s private communication network, MeWe™. MeWe delivers breakthrough performance and cutting-edge features that advance social sharing, cloud storage, and both individual and group communication—within a simple-to-use, powerfully private platform. Built on safety, trust, and respect, MeWe provides an online environment for people to be authentic and uncensored, the way they are in their real lives.

“The power to abuse the open Internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies. MeWe gives the power of the Internet back to the people with a platform built for collaboration and privacy,” says MeWe advisor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

“MeWe represents the next generation in communication technology,” says Weinstein. “We provide a safe and private platform where people can easily connect, freely share their everyday lives, and have fun being themselves.”

Read more.

MeWe is touted as “the decline of Facebook—the rise of the Privacy Revolution.”

Robert Mueller Is Following The Infamous Playbook of Patrick Fitzgerald

We’ve seen this before, just on a smaller scale.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is following the infamous playbook of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who managed to convict an innocent man while the guilty one walked free — and Fitzgerald knew it.

They both went after and indicted people who either did not commit any crimes or were indicted for things unrelated to the purposes for which they were appointed. Both were in hotly political environments with supportive media. Both were open-ended investigations. And, it seems, both were hungry for convictions for the sake of convictions — not truth or justice.

Fitzgerald is the special counsel appointed in 2003 to investigate the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame (who it turns out was a desk jockey in the D.C. area, not an undercover agent who was endangered by the outing as the media liked to imply.) Nonetheless, there was a leak that identified her.

At the time it was thought this was done by the Bush Administration, and specifically Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, in retaliation for Plame’s husband writing an op-ed in the New York Times saying he doubted Saddam Hussein had bought uranium in Africa before the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The purchase, along with other intelligence, was part of the case for invading Iraq. Two weeks later, Plame was outed.

Fitzpatrick was appointed to find out who did it, and soon fixed his eyes on Cheney and his staff, for what appeared to be political reasons. In the end, he wrongly identified the leaker as Scooter Libby, Cheney’s Chief of Staff. Libby’s crime? Not being the leaker, but providing false or misleading information to the special counsel, for which he actually went to prison.

So we can draw a lot of comparisons between Mueller’s current investigation and Fitzgerald’s four-year-long investigation — it can take a long time to get someone to even accidentally contradict themselves. The one comparison that is not there is that Fitzgerald had an actual crime he was investigating in the illegal uncovering of a CIA agent, whereas Mueller’s original appointment was to investigate collusion, which is not a crime. So from the start, there was more legitimacy to the Fitzgerald appointment than to Mueller’s.

However, both prosecutors are following a similar path.

Fitzgerald’s long investigation came up with one indictment, that against Libby. Libby was not charged with leaking, the actual crime Fitzgerald was investigating, but with a “process” crime of misleading the FBI. That is exactly what Mueller charged Gen. Michael Flynn with. Not Russian collusion or really anything related to Russian collusion, but lying to the FBI (or not correctly remembering) about the timing of an event for which there was also no underlying crime. So it was a clever form of entrapment.

The tragedy of the Libby case is that apparently, Libby didn’t even lie or mislead. Much of his convictions were based on the testimony of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who testified that she believed it was Libby who told her about Plame. Her testimony was the key to convicting Libby. However, after Miller read Plame’s autobiography “Fair Game” she realized that she had been misled by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

In April 2015, Miller published an autobiography in which she, “now concluded, after reviewing old notes, that her testimony about her conversations with Libby that led to his conviction may have been false … Had I misconstrued my notes? Had Fitzgerald’s questions about whether my use of the word Bureau meant the FBI steered me in the wrong direction?”

She realized that she was wrong and her testimony “made no sense.” However, her recantation meant nothing to Libby’s conviction during Obama’s presidency and was roundly ignored by the media.

In the same way, Flynn pleaded guilty to making statements inconsistent with tapped and taped conversations he had with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during the transition. However, Flynn’s conversation was legal. He was not charged with the content being illegal, or even having the conversation with Kislyak. He was charged with giving the FBI the wrong time for the conversation, and part of his reason for the plea was because the investigation was bankrupting him personally. He has had to sell his house to pay his legal bills. But why was the FBI even questioning Flynn when they had the entire transcript of a conversation that they knew contained nothing illegal, and that conversation took place legally? Because they were looking to entrap him in a process crime, just as Libby was entrapped.

Worse yet, we later found out that it was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage that actually outed Plame. Apparently he did accidentally in a long interview about the intelligence leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Many news outlets thought they knew it was Armitage, not Libby. Fitzgerald also knew it was Armitage, but was going after Libby for lying under oath, and asked Armitage not to go public with the information. But Armitage, who had testified to the grand jury that indicted Libby, asked Fitzgerald again if he could go public and on Sept. 5, 2006, Fitzgerald relented. Two days later, Armitage admitted publicly to being the source in the CIA leak.

On March 6, 2007, six months later, a jury convicted Libby and to this day many people think that Libby was the one who leaked.

That’s why Trump rightly pardoned Libby, although even pardon seems like the wrong word.

Both investigations were also broad and open-ended, meaning the prosecutors could go after about anyone or anything. We see that with Libby, who had nothing to do with the outing and was charged relating to nothing to do with it.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was so negligent drafting the appointment of Mueller that he failed to limit the investigation in either scope or time. Totally open-ended. It appears that Mueller can investigated Trump until he dies. This resulted in Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump presidential campaign, being indicted for alleged financial crimes that happened years before he was on team Trump. Both the Flynn and Manafort charges have zippo to do with Russian collusion, just as Libby’s had nothing to do with leaking Plame’s identity — and he didn’t even do what he was charged with.

Another comparison is that they were and are both all political. There is no search for truth or justice. There is a search for political targets. Fitzgerald knew it was Armitage who leaked, but he accepted it was just an accident, but after four years, he had to show something. And so Libby.

But look at the comments from Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame on the pardon of Libby:

Wilson told the Huffington Post:

“Libby’s problem was with the Justice Department. He was indicted, tried and convicted on obstruction of justice and perjury charges for basically violating the national security of the United States of America…Now he’s being pardoned for it, which suggests of course that Mr. Trump is willing to allow people to violate the essence of our defense structure, our national security, our intelligence apparatus and essentially get away with it.”

Plame told MSNBC that “you can commit crimes against national security and you will be pardoned.”

There is no way that Wilson and Plame don’t know that Libby neither lied nor was the leaker. They are both misleading, shall we say, to make Trump look bad just as Wilson maneuvered with the New York Times to make Bush look bad.

In the same way, we see Mueller’s investigation going far and wide to get indictments for people that have nothing to do with the original charge he was given. And they all make Trump look bad.

Finally, the man who had oversight of Patrick Fitzgerald was none other than James Comey, a close friend and confidant of Mueller.

None of these comparisons bode well for actually getting to the truth of Russian collusion. Just as Fitzgerald let the actual leaker off the hook, it seems Mueller is not interested in the actual colluder, which resides in the Clinton campaign, DNC and the Russian dossier.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act. Please join The Revolutionary Act’s YouTube Channel.

Minnesota: Another Somali migrant arrested, this time it’s a plot to bomb the St. Cloud City Hall

However, perhaps more interesting is the lack of mention of the arrested man’s name, a critical omission in the first St. Cloud Times version of the story.

Apparently, only after a local radio station posts his pic and names him, did the politically correct St. Cloud Times bother to report that vital information.

Mayor welcomes Somalis, so why would they want to bomb city hall?

Remember when you read this first account on the 11th, which quotes the great defender of all things Somali, Mayor Kleis, that this office ostensibly targeted for a bomb, is the very office that is silent on anything relating to crimes involving Somalis the office welcomes to St. Cloud with open arms.

The “suspect” (the man) had already been arrested when the St. Cloud Times said this (hat tip: Bob):

Law enforcement has taken a suspect into custody in connection with a bomb threat at St. Cloud City Hall, according to authorities.

mayor Kleis

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis

Mayor Kleis: no threat to the public

Officers responded to city hall at approximately 10 a.m., according to a press release, and conducted a K9 search of the building.

Mayor Dave Kleis said the building was searched after an individual “posted threatening comments and made statements about a bomb in St. Cloud.”

[….]

Officers found the suspect on St. Cloud State University’s campus at 110 Atwood Center. The suspect is not enrolled as a student there, according to the release.

Local investigators are working with the FBI, according to Kleis, on the active investigation. The area where the man was found was also searched, according to a press release. No suspicious items were found.

The suspect is being held in the Stearns County Jail in connection with charges of terroristic threats.

However, here we see that KNSI radio reported the arrested ‘man’s’ name and picture.

Listen to the nutty story the man’ is telling investigators.

(KNSI) – A man who says he felt he was being radicalized is accused of making a bomb threat that referenced St. Cloud’s city hall.

ege

Abdalle Ahmed Ege

According to the criminal complaint, Abdalle Ahmed Ege, of St. Cloud, posted on his Facebook page “Im bouta bomb this town” on Wednesday morning.

Police found a duffel bag next to a gas can outside city hall. Investigators say the duffel bag contained Ege’s personal items. Police found no explosives when they searched the building.

According to the complaint, the 25-year-old told police that he was being radicalized and posted the threat on Facebook to get attention from the FBI.

He has been charged with two felony counts of making terroristic threats.

A couple hours later the St. Cloud Times got around to publishing his name and photo, see here.

So we are to believe that Ege wanted to get the FBI’s attention to what?—protect him from being radicalized!  Why not just walk in to a local police station and describe what you think someone is doing to you. This is nuts, or he is nuts (a distinct possibility!).

We don’t know when Ege arrived in the US, but just know that mental illness is not a reason the feds use to screen out prospective refugees to place in your towns and cities.

See my ginormous St. Cloud archive by clicking here.

Pompeo: Iranian proxy Hizballah ‘threatens us right here in the homeland’

Hezbollah, Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy, “threatens” Americans in the U.S. homeland, Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of State….The U.S. military has repeatedly warned against the growing presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Latin America, stressing that operations linked to the Shiite entities present a menace to the United States.

With the increasingly prevalent alliance between the drug trade and jihad, it is getting more difficult to distinguish between narco criminals and jihadists. This provides a cover for jihadists and obstructs accurate reporting about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat. This match made in hell shows yet again the need for a Southern border wall.

“Pompeo: Iranian Proxy ‘Hezbollah Threatens Us Right Here in the Homeland’”, by Edwin Mora, Breitbart, April 12, 2018:

WASHINGTON, DC — Hezbollah, Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy, “threatens” Americans in the U.S. homeland, Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of State (DOS), declared Thursday during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Pompeo, who served as director of the CIA until he was recently chosen by President Trump to serve as secretary of state, identified Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia as the top threats facing the United States.

In written testimony prepared for his confirmation hearing hosted by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Thursday, Pompeo noted:

Iran, meanwhile, has been on the march and has paid too low a price for its dangerous behavior. Our administration has developed a strategy to counter Iran that will raise that cost. The issues surrounding Iran’s proliferation threat are real and we, along with our allies, must deal with the long-term risk that its capability presents.

But we cannot let the nuclear file prevent us from acting against Iran’s cyber efforts or its attempts to provide missiles to the Houthis [in Yemen] to attack Saudi Arabia and Americans who travel there. Iran’s activities in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon threaten the very existence of Israel, and the global reach of Hezbollah threatens us right here in the homeland.

Iran freed American hostages for the sake of a deal and then turned immediately to holding still more. I will work for their freedom every day.

During the hearing, Pompeo stressed that the administration plans to “fix” the controversial Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), suggesting that Trump will not withdraw from the flawed agreement, reached under former President Barack Obama.

The U.S. military has repeatedly warned against the growing presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Latin America, stressing that operations linked to the Shiite entities present a menace to the United States.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, recently revealed that the number of “cultural centers” used by Iran proxies like Hezbollah to recruit members across Latin America have proliferated, nearly tripling from 36 in 2012 to “more than 100” today.

According to U.S. officials and independent analysts, Hezbollah is heavily involved in drug trafficking and money laundering activities across Latin America……

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Jihad Watch.

Pope Francis Apologizes for Handling of Sex Abuse Scandal

VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) – Pope Francis is apologizing for his response to a priestly sex abuse scandal in Chile.

In a letter to the bishops of Chile published Sunday, Pope Francis discussed the handling of the sex abuse cover-up scandal surrounding a prelate in Chile, Bp. Juan Barros.

For years, Bp. Barros has been accused of covering up priest sex abuse back in the 1980s. During his visit to Latin America in January, Pope Francis said that sex abuse victims were slandering Bp. Barros. During an in-flight press conference on January 18, the pope said, “The day they bring me proof against Bp. Barros, I’ll speak. There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

In Sunday’s letter, the pope apologized for the way he handled the Barros situation, writing:

As for my own responsibility, I acknowledge, and I want you to faithfully convey it that way, that I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially because of the lack of truthful and balanced information. Right now, I ask forgiveness from all those I offended, and I hope to be able to do so personally, in the coming weeks, in the meetings I will have with representatives of the people who were interviewed.

According to the translation by Catholic News Agency, the pope’s letter to the Chilean bishops invited them to come to Rome “to discuss the conclusions and the aforementioned visit and my conclusions.”

In the wake of the backlash to his remarks about Bp. Barros during his visit to Latin America, the Holy Father revived a dormant sex abuse commission to investigate the Bp. Barros scandal and to meet with the accusers.

The pope’s controversial comment in January was not the first time he spoke in defense of Bp. Barros. In 2015, Pope Francis called those who criticize Bp. Barros “dumb,” claiming they are “led by the nose by the leftists who orchestrated all of this.”

There was further controversy when Pope Francis denied receiving a letter from one of Bp. Barros’ accusers. The author of the letter, Juan Carlos Cruz, claims he was abused by Chilean priest Fr. Fernando Karadima in the 1980s. Cruz claims Bp. Barros, then just a priest, was witness to Fr. Karadima’s abuse of Cruz and did nothing about it. Cruz was a seminarian at the time of the alleged abuse.

Pope Francis claimed he never received any letters from the abuse victims, but Cruz came forward to say that he did, in fact, send a letter to the pope back in 2015.

In February this year, the Holy Father sent an investigator to meet with Cruz and hear his story. Specifically, the pope sent Abp. Charles Scicluna of Malta to meet with Cruz at a parish in  New York City.

Regarding this and other parts of the investigation, Pope Francis wrote in the recent letter to Chile’s bishops, “Now, after a careful reading of the proceedings of this ‘special mission,’ I believe I can affirm that the collected testimonies speak in a stark way, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives, and I confess to you that that causes me pain and shame.”

The pope’s letter also stated, “I am writing to you … to humbly request your collaboration and assistance in discerning the short, mid and long-term measures that must be adopted to re-establish ecclesial communion in Chile, with the goal of repairing as much as possible the scandal and re-establishing justice.”

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Trump Issued a Call for Welfare Reform. Here Are 4 Actions Policymakers Can Take.

President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order calling for reforms in the welfare system to promote work and strengthen marriage.

The president is right to address this pressing issue. Welfare reform is needed.

Today, the welfare system aggressively penalizes marriage among low-income parents and discourages work and self-support. We have spent $28 trillion on welfare programs since the War on Poverty began, yet the ability of the poor to achieve self-sufficiency has actually decreased. Government spends $1.1 trillion annually on the same failed programs while hoping for different results.

Over this same time period, we have seen a decline in marriage that has exacerbated poverty. The proportion of children living in single-parent families has more than tripled since the 1960s. This family context is ripe for continued poverty, as about 80 percent of all long-term child poverty occurs in single-parent homes.

Marriage is one of the two most powerful factors in sustaining adult happiness, and it is the single most important factor in promoting upward social mobility among children. The collapse of marriage in low-income communities, abetted by the welfare system, has directly undermined the well-being of the poor.

In his executive order, the president directed his agencies to report back in 90 days with recommended actions that would implement his pro-work, pro-marriage goals. Here are four specific actions the Trump administration and Congress can take to achieve the president’s objectives and ensure the welfare system helps the people it serves rather than hurting them.

The administration can take these first two steps without legislative action.

1. Provide contract funding based on successful outcomes.

Agencies should insist that federal grants pay for outcomes, not services. Surprisingly, payment based on outcomes achieved by certain programs is almost completely nonexistent in the present welfare system.

Ten percent of spending in welfare goes to programs intended to increase human capabilities. These include drug rehabilitation, child development, educational, and job training programs. Studies show that these programs rarely produce positive outcomes for recipients.

Agencies should fund contracts based on whether a contractor provides successful outcomes. This would make programs more effective and weed out the contractors who produce subpar results.

2. Accurately account for welfare spending.

Additionally, the administration should provide accurate information about poverty and inequality by correctly counting, for the first time, the massive government funding provided to low-income populations.

The government spends $1.1 trillion a year on assistance for poor and low-income people through cash, food, housing, medical care, and other social services. Yet 97 percent of that is not counted by the Census Bureau as income for purposes of measuring either poverty or economic inequality.

It is impossible to accurately evaluate our welfare system without good information about spending and benefits.

To close this information gap, the president’s annual budget should include an aggregate welfare spending figure across all 89 means-tested programs that provide services across 14 government departments and agencies.

Faulty measurements of household income misleadingly give the impression that we spend very little fighting poverty. Despite trillions of dollars of spending, only 3.3 percent of all welfare spending is counted as income in the Census poverty surveys.

The federal government spends more than enough to eliminate all poverty in the United States. Current inaccurate measurements show much higher levels of poverty than actually exist.

3. Strengthen work requirements.

The president rightly recognizes that the goal of any welfare program should be to help move work-capable recipients toward greater self-support. Work requirements are a tested policy that offer a path toward self-sufficiency while still providing care for the truly needy.

Ninety-four percent of Americans believe that able-bodied adults who receive cash, food, housing, or medical care from the government should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving that aid. In the past, work requirements have been successful in reducing welfare rolls and increasing work and self-support.

Policymakers should strengthen work requirements by eliminating waivers that exempt certain counties and states from enforcing the current work requirement on able-bodied adults without dependents.

Sixty-seven percent of able-bodied adults without dependents in the food stamp program are in a waived area and do not have to fulfill any sort of work requirement. Eliminating these waivers will encourage 2.9 million unemployed, work-capable, childless adults who are on food stamps today to re-enter the economy by working, volunteering, or participating in training programs.

4. Stop penalizing marriage.

Marriage is extremely important in combatting poverty and promoting human well-being. When the War on Poverty began, only 7 percent of children were born outside of marriage. Today, the number is over 40 percent.

Children born into homes without married parents are five times more likely to be in poverty—and adults who grew up in single-parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty than those who grew up in intact married homes.

When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, to smoke, drink, and use drugs, to be aggressive, and engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior. They are also more likely to have poor school performance, be expelled, and drop out of high school.

Children raised in single-parent homes are almost five times more likely to experience physical abuse and seven times more likely to suffer childhood sexual abuse when compared to those raised by married biological parents. Children raised without a father in the home are three times more likely to engage in crime and end up in jail.

While marriage is one of the best antidotes to poverty, the current welfare system, ironically, penalizes it. A mother and father with two kids making $20,000 each will lose $6,302 a year in benefits if they marry, which amounts to 15 percent of their total combined earnings.

The president should call on Congress to address these problems immediately, starting by reforming the earned income tax credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to ensure that working adults can marry without a hefty financial penalty.

Long-Needed Reform

The president has issued a bold call to action on a critical problem: Despite its generosity, the welfare system is failing both taxpayers and the poor.

Encouraging self-sufficiency and well-being through work and marriage is the most effective and most compassionate way to approach those in need. A few simple, time-tested reforms would be a great start at improving the system.

Note: This piece has been updated to correct a typo in the amount of money spent on welfare since the War on Poverty began. The number is $28 trillion, not $28 billion.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Mimi Teixeira

Mimi Teixeira is a graduate fellow in welfare policy at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

Portrait of Robert Rector

Robert Rector, a leading authority on poverty, welfare programs and immigration in America for three decades, is The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow in domestic policy.

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of President Donald Trump speaking after signing an executive order calling for agencies to recommend policies that would advance pro-work, pro-marriage goals. (Photo: Alex Edelman/UPI/Newscom)

Bungling Judicial Precedent, Federal Court Upholds AR-15 Ban

Last week, a federal judge for the District Court for Massachusetts granted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state’s prohibition of so-called “assault weapons,” such as the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Judge William Young held that the AR-15 and similar weapons aren’t protected by the Second Amendment, because they were originally designed for military service and because democracy means policymakers—not courts—are best suited to regulate weapons.

In doing so, he authored an opinion taking such extreme liberties with history, judicial precedent, and logic that one can’t help but wonder if he relied exclusively on a SparkNotes summary guide of Second Amendment jurisprudence when drafting his opinion.

Young begins his analysis by stating that “[f]or most of our history, mainstream scholarship considered the Second Amendment as nothing more than a guarantee that the several states can maintain ‘well-regulated’ militias.”

This statement is objectively untrue, unless one considers such brilliant legal minds as James Madison, Samuel Adams, George Tucker, and Joseph Story to be outside the mainstream of constitutional scholarship.

Young supports this highly questionable premise by citing early works by liberal scholar Laurence Tribe, apparently oblivious to the fact that Tribe, while still in favor of stricter gun control measures, recanted his former collectivist-right position, and now concludes that “having studied the text and history closely … the Second Amendment protects more than the collective right to own and use guns in the service of state militias and National Guard units.”

Young cites seminal Second Amendment cases stating that firearms commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes are protected, but then inexplicably asserts that the AR-15’s “present-day popularity is not constitutionally material.”

But these gaffes pale in comparison to the two biggest problems with the opinion: Young completely ignores Supreme Court precedent on the proper standard for determining whether a particular firearm is protected by the Second Amendment, and he fails to recognize that—even under the standard he concocts, seemingly out of thin air—the AR-15 would still be protected.

It’s Irrelevant Whether a Firearm Is ‘Military-Style’

Young formulates a novel standard to determine whether a firearm is protected by the Second Amendment: Is the firearm similar to a “military weapon”?

He supports the use of this standard by quoting from Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, where the late justice appeared to validate a federal prohibition on fully automatic firearms: “It may be argued that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached [from the clause concerning ‘a well-regulated militia’].”

But Young’s use of this single sentence ignores context at the expense of fundamentally misinterpreting the main premises of Heller. His interpretation also makes no sense as a Second Amendment standard from a purely rational standpoint.

First, it’s painfully obvious that Young has missed the point of Scalia’s remark.

Scalia wasn’t suggesting that the M-16 can be prohibited for civilians because it’s useful in military service. Rather, it can be prohibited because fully automatic weapons aren’t in common usage and can be fairly categorized as “dangerous and unusual” among the civilian population, even though it is most useful in military service.

This is clear from the surrounding paragraphs, which explain that certain restrictions—like the prohibition on firearms possession by felons—are presumptively lawful, as are “sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society,” but generally used by the military (such as tanks and bombers).

But even if this plain reading were questionable, the court in Caetano v. Massachusetts made this point explicit by stating that the “pertinent Second Amendment inquiry [for whether a weapon is protected] is whether [it] is commonly possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes today.”

Further, regarding whether a weapon is “dangerous and unusual,” the court held that “the relative dangerousness of a weapon is irrelevant when the weapon belongs to a class of arms commonly used for lawful purposes.”

In other words, whether a firearm is a “military weapon” has absolutely no bearing on whether it is protected by the Second Amendment.

In fact, by simply filling in the language of “AR-15 and similar semi-automatic rifles” for Caetano’s original language of “stun guns,” the answer to whether the Second Amendment protects the weapons now banned by Massachusetts is unequivocal:

[T]he pertinent Second Amendment inquiry is whether [the AR-15 and similar semi-automatic firearms] are commonly possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes today.

… [More Americans may possess handguns than possess semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15], but it is beside the point. … The more relevant statistic is that ‘[millions of AR-15s and similar semi-automatic rifles] have been sold to private citizens,’ who it appears may lawfully possess them in [most] states.

… While less popular than handguns, [AR-15s] are widely owned and accepted as legitimate means of self-defense, [hunting, and target shooting] across the country. Massachusetts’ categorical ban of such weapons therefore violates the Second Amendment.

… [It is true that law-abiding citizens could use alternative firearms to defend themselves,] “[b]ut the right to bear other weapons is ‘no answer’ to a ban on the possession of protected arms.

Second, even if the Supreme Court hadn’t already articulated a standard in Heller and Caetano, the standard created by Young is logically preposterous. Almost all lawfully owned firearms throughout all of American history have been “based on designs of weapons that were first manufactured for military purposes.”

From the “Brown Bess” smoothbore musket of the American Revolution, to the Colt single-action revolvers of the Civil War, to the Lee Enfield bolt-action rifles of World War I, right up to present-day SIG Sauer P320 standard-issue sidearm, the majority of firearms chosen by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes were originally designed for military use.

It’s illogical to suppose that, even if the Founders intended the Second Amendment to protect only a collective right to arms for service in the militia, the right wouldn’t protect the very arms most suitable for militia service—those designed as “military weapons,” but nonetheless commonly possessed by civilians.

The AR-15 Is Protected Even Under Young’s New Standard

The most incomprehensible part of Young’s opinion is, perhaps, his attempt to exclude the AR-15 from Second Amendment protections under his novel standard.

According to Young, military-style weapons are those “designed and intended to be particularly suitable for combat, rather than sporting applications.” They include the following characteristics:

(1) The “ability to accept a large, detachable magazine.”
(2) “Folding/telescoping stocks.”
(3) Pistol grips.
(4) Flash suppressors.
(5) Bipods.
(6) Grenade launchers.
(7) Night sights.
(8) The ability for selective fire.

Under these criteria, the AR-15 and other semi-automatic rifles are not “military-style” firearms.

First, bipods, grenade launchers, and night sights are not standard components of civilian-owned AR-15s any more than armored plates and a gunner’s hatch are standard components of civilian-owned Hummers—which themselves are the civilian equivalent of the military Humvee “assault car.”

Second, semi-automatic rifles sold to civilians lack a capability of selective fire—that is, the capability of being adjusted to fire in semi-automatic, burst mode, or fully automatic firing mode—except for those firearms already heavily regulated under federal law and subject to extensive licensing and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives oversight.

Third, pistol grips, detachable magazines capable of holding 30 rounds, flash suppressors, and telescoping stocks are beneficial for military use for the same reasons they’re beneficial for lawful civilian use—better control under less-than-ideal circumstances, greater accuracy, and a lessened need for reloading.

These characteristics don’t make the AR-15 exceptionally suited for military use rather than sporting applications, but exceptionally suited for both military and lawful civilian applications—just like the Hummer’s off-road handling, cargo space, and relative water-proofing make it suitable for both military personnel and civilians to engage in a wide array of lawful activities.

A Disservice to Gun Control Advocates

To be sure, there are many respectable judges who think that the Supreme Court has seriously misunderstood the Second Amendment and scholars who have sincerely held doubts about the legitimacy of an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Young’s opinion is a disservice to these scholars and makes a mockery of more logical—if still erroneous—lower court judges who have upheld similar prohibitions in recent years.

It’s one thing to disagree about the scope of the Second Amendment. It is quite another to so completely disregard context, history, and precedent.

This opinion should be challenged and overturned on appeal.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Amy Swearer

Amy Swearer is a visiting legal fellow at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by AlexStar/Getty Images

A Wedge: An Adversary’s Most Powerful Tool

In the world today we hear about divisions among humanity. There are those who want to promote these divisions. These include, but are not limited to, the following categories of divisions:

  • Social divisions
  • Political divisions
  • Economic divisions
  • Cultural divisions
  • Religious divisions
  • Sexual divisions

Each of these are imposed divisions. These divisions are promoted to create inequity and inequality. Divisions are used to gain power over others. Many create a division when there is none. Division is used to start wars, oppress one group, pit one group against another group. Division is the most powerful tool ever created.

The way one begins to create divisiveness is to use a wedge.

We read about wedge issues every day via the media, in newspapers, on television, in our neighborhood and within families. Wedge issues are used in politics, business, by organizations and even between religions.

Merriam-Webster defines a wedge as:

a something (such as a policy) causing a breach or separation
b something used to initiate an action or development

Who created the First Wedge?

Answer: Satan

Bodie Hodge in Answers in Genesis writes:

The first use of the name Satan is found in 1 Chronicles 21:1; chronologically, Job, which was written much earlier, surpasses thisSatan is found throughout Job 1 and 2Satan literally means “adversary” in Hebrew.

Another name appears in the Old Testament in the King James Version:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isaiah 14:12; KJV).

The first time Satan used his wedge was in the Garden of Eden when he separated man from his Creator. Satan, in the form of a serpent, caused “The Fall” of Adam and Eve. From that time on mankind had knowledge of good and evil.

What did mankind forfeit when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of wisdom? Life everlasting.

As Genesis 3 reads:

22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

What did mankind gain from eating the fruit from the tree of wisdom? Pain and suffering.

What lies between Good and Evil?

Answer: The Truth

Knowing the truth is tantamount in the fight against Satan’s wedge. It is important to use mankind’s wisdom to know the truth when Satan uses his wedge to divide us socially, politically, economically, culturally, religiously and sexually.

Satan’s wedges are the absurdities one reads, hears and learns.

Uncontested Wedges

Ayn Rand wrote:

“The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other – until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.”

Uncontested absurdities have become today’s slogans. Below is list a top 20 uncontested absurdities of today:

  1. You are a racist.
  2. You are homophobic.
  3. You are Islamophobic.
  4. You are a misogynist.
  5. A male can choose to be a female and visa versa or both.
  6. The nuclear family is bad, divorce/single parenthood is good.
  7. God is dead.
  8. Islam is the religion of peace.
  9. Believing there is no religion (Atheism) is a religion.
  10. Hate speech is any speech I disagree with or that causes me to be uncomfortable.
  11. Facts no longer matter.
  12. Truth is relative.
  13. Me, Myself and I feeling good is the only thing that counts.
  14. People don’t kill people, only guns kill people.
  15. Welfare is better than work.
  16. Self defense is bad.
  17. Killing the unborn is necessary to save the planet.
  18. Communism is better than Capitalism.
  19. I need to be protected from free speech.
  20. In order to “save humanity” we must give government more power.

Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Satan lives so long as he can drive a wedge between you and me.

Mueller Investigates $150K Donation to Trump From Ukrainian Who Gave Clintons $13 Million

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a $150,000 donation from a Ukrainian businessman to President Donald Trump’s charity in 2015, according to a new report.

The donation from steel magnate Victor Pinchuk pales in comparison to contributions he gave to the charity set up by Bill and Hillary Clinton. The billionaire has contributed $13 million to the Clinton Foundation since 2006 and had access to Hillary Clinton while she served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

dcnf-logo

Mueller, who is not investigating the Clintons, is conducting a broad investigation of Trump, including the flow of foreign money into various Trump-controlled entities.

Mueller began investigating the Pinchuk donation after receiving documents in response to a subpoena issued to the Trump Organization—the real estate company Trump ran before entering politics.

In September 2015, Trump appeared via video link at a conference Pinchuk hosted in Kyiv. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, negotiated details of the event with Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen, a former consultant for Bill Clinton, according to The New York Times.

Trump did not initially request payment for the appearance, but Cohen contacted Schoen at one point to request a $150,000 honorarium, the Times reported.

In a seemingly unrelated matter, the FBI raided Cohen’s Manhattan office and residence Monday. The search reportedly was conducted for records related to Cohen’s payments to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic movie star who says she had a one-night stand with Trump in 2006.

The Victor Pinchuk Foundation issued a statement to the Times, downplaying the donation to Trump. The charity reached out to Trump and other world leaders to “promote strengthened and enduring ties between Ukraine and the West,” it said.

Contact with Trump came at a time when “it was by no means assured that Mr. Trump would be the Republican nominee in 2016,” the foundation pointed out.

Pinchuk appears to have had a much closer relationship to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

In June 2012, the billionaire attended a dinner at the Clintons’ residence. And through Schoen, Pinchuk lobbied the State Department in 2011 and 2013.

Documents filed with the Justice Department show Schoen and Pinchuk met on several occasions in 2012 with Melanne Verveer, a close Clinton associate who then served as an ambassador at large for global women’s issues.

Bill Clinton attended Pinchuk’s annual Yalta conference, The New York Times reported on Feb. 13, 2014. Pinchuk also attended the former president’s 65th birthday party in Los Angeles.

The FBI reportedly investigated the Clinton Foundation over its foreign donations. The status of that investigation is unclear.

COMMENTARY BY

Chuck Ross

Twitter: @ChuckRossDC

Chuck Ross is a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of Hillary Clinton delivering her concession speech after the presidential election as husband Bill Clinton applauds Nov. 9, 2016, in the New Yorker Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. (Photo: Olivier Douliery/UPI/Newscom). Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Broward County School Board Shuts Down Student Critic of Safety Standards

While the media continues to focus on gun control in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, one area student has dug into his school’s policies and found them wanting.

Kenneth Preston, a 19-year-old student journalist who attends high school in Broward County, Florida, has done an in-depth investigation of the superintendent and school board.

Preston’s thorough report, released on Tuesday, says that Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie and the school district failed to spend over $100 million of federal money intended for school safety upgrades.

Runcie once worked under former Obama Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the Chicago Public Schools system.

Preston’s report says that the school had been sitting on this money since 2014, and that only about 5 percent of it had been spent.

“The findings of our investigation is [sic] two-fold. First off, a $100 million which superintendent and the school board had access to. Since 2014, roughly 5 percent of that money has been spent,” Preston said in an in-depth interview with Sirius XM host David Webb.

Preston said that Runcie gave him a “long-winded runaround” about what happened to the money.

In addition, Preston has called into question the school district’s use of the PROMISE program.

This program was aligned with a 2014 Obama-era federal initiative, which aimed at ending the “school to prison pipeline” as well as racial disparities in discipline by focusing on counseling and “restorative justice” instead of using law enforcement to correct on-campus misbehavior.

Preston spoke at a Broward County School Board meeting on Tuesday, but said during his remarks that just before the meeting started, his allotted time to speak was cut to three minutes.

The seven panelists Preston had lined up were removed from the schedule.

On the day before the hearing, Preston said he was forced to attend a two-hour meeting with the superintendent and the families of the victims to discuss his report.

“I was denied the right to have an attorney present. I was refused the opportunity to record the meeting, and I was told this was because the superintendent wouldn’t have any representation of his own,” Preston said.

He said that when he arrived at the meeting, it was “stacked with 10 district officials in addition to the superintendent.”

Preston continued: “It makes me wonder how committed to transparency and truth you are when I was denied the right to have an attorney present as well as the opportunity to record the meeting while the superintendent was allowed to bring 10 district officials who work for him and attempt to re-educate me.”

“Something doesn’t smell quite right in Broward, and this school district is the epicenter,” Preston said.

The Obama administration had touted the Broward school discipline program as a model of success.

But after a Parkland student went on a murderous rampage at the school, many wonder how an individual expressing so many red flags could have fallen through the cracks.

As the Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden wrote, Broward County’s discipline policies pressured Parkland officials “to post lower statistics on school-safety problems. This climate of disengagement could have allowed [Nikolas] Cruz to slip through the cracks in the system.”

Runcie, who was also at the school board hearing, reiterated previous statements from the school district, saying, “Contrary to what people believe or may have heard, Nikolas Cruz was never a part of the PROMISE program, he never had any infractions that would have made him eligible for the PROMISE program.”

However, a recent report in RealClearInvestigations noted that the school’s official discipline policy lists “‘assault without the use of a weapon’ and ‘battery without serious bodily injury,’ as well as ‘disorderly conduct,’ as misdemeanors that ‘should not be reported to Law Enforcement Agencies or Broward District Schools Police.’”

The RealClearInvestigations report also said:

A repeat offender, Cruz benefited from the lax discipline policy, if not the counseling. Although he was disciplined for a string of offenses—including assault, threatening teachers, and carrying bullets in his backpack—he was never taken into custody or even expelled. Instead, school authorities referred him to mandatory counseling or transferred him to alternative schools.

The lack of criminal record allowed Cruz to purchase an AR-15, according to the report.

At the hearing, Runcie essentially called criticism of the school’s discipline policies fake news.

“Connecting PROMISE to this horrific tragedy is truly unfortunate, I think it’s reprehensible, and we’re not going to dismantle a program in this district that is serving and helping kids appropriately because of news that is not fact-based,” Runcie said.

Runcie worked closely with the Obama administration on its school discipline policy, according to the Washington Examiner.

“Runcie was invited to the White House in 2015 for a Rethink Discipline summit, while the district received a $54 million federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant in October 2016 that was based in part on its efforts to keep high-risk students in school,” the Examiner reported.

While the school district maintains support of the controversial program, it has a growing list of detractors, including the deputy sheriff and president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, Jeff Bell.

“If I have a weapon or even ammunition on school grounds, and I have certain things in my past, I could be arrested for that, but Mr. Cruz just gets off scot-free,” Bell said, according to the Examiner. “And that’s the thing. If he had gotten arrested just once for disorderly conduct or trespassing or something like that, that would have shown up on his criminal record, and could have sent up some red flags before he was ever allowed to buy a firearm.”

There have also been calls for the Department of Education to rescind the Obama-era school discipline guideline, which is being reviewed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Jarrett Stepman

Jarrett Stepman is an editor and commentary writer for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. Twitter: .

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Broward County student Kenneth Preston addressing the Broward County School Board about the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. (Photo: Emilee Mcgovern/Zuma Press/Newscom)

I Questioned Mark Zuckerberg. What Concerns Me Most About Facebook’s Handling of Personal Data.

The history and growth of Facebook mirrors that of many of our technology giants.

Founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, Facebook has exploded over the past 14 years. Facebook currently has 2.13 billion monthly active users across the world, more than 25,000 employees, and offices in 13 U.S. cities and various other countries.

Like its expanding user base, the data collected on Facebook users has also skyrocketed. It has moved on from schools, likes, and relationship statuses. Today, Facebook has access to dozens of data points, ranging from ads you’ve clicked on, events you’ve attended, and your location based on your mobile device.

It is no secret that Facebook makes money off this data through advertising revenue, although many seem confused by, or altogether unaware, of this fact. Facebook generated $40 billion in revenue in 2017, with about 98 percent coming from advertising across Facebook and Instagram.

Significant data collection is also occurring at Google, Twitter, Apple, and Amazon. An ever-expanding portfolio of products and services offered by these companies grant endless opportunities to collect increasing amounts of information on their customers.

As we get more free, or extremely low-cost, services, the trade-off for the American consumer is to provide more personal data.

The potential for further growth and innovation based on the collection of data is limitless. However, the potential for abuse is significant.

While the contours of the Cambridge Analytica situation are still coming to light, there was clearly a breach of consumer trust and a likely improper transfer of data. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a separate hearing exploring Cambridge and other data privacy issues.

More importantly though, these events have ignited a larger discussion on consumers’ expectations and the future of data privacy in our society. It has exposed that consumers may not fully understand or appreciate the extent to which their data is collected, protected, transferred, used, and misused.

Data has been used in advertising and political campaigns for decades. The amount and types of data obtained, however, has seen a dramatic change.

Campaigns, including those of Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, all used these increasing amounts of data to focus on micro-targeting and personalization over numerous social media platforms, especially Facebook.

In fact, Obama’s campaign developed an app utilizing the same Facebook feature as Cambridge Analytica to capture the information of not just the apps users, but millions of their friends. The digital director for Obama for America 2012 described the data-scraping app as something that would “wind up being the most groundbreaking piece of technology developed for this campaign.”

The effectiveness of these social media tactics can be debated, but their use over the past years across the political spectrum and their increased significance cannot.

Our policy toward data privacy and security must keep pace with these changes. Data privacy should be tethered to consumer needs and expectations.

At a minimum, consumers must have the transparency necessary to make informed decisions about whether to share their data and how it can be used. Consumers ought to have clear information, not opaque policies and complex click-through consent pages.

The tech industry has an obligation to respond to widespread and growing concerns over data privacy and security and to restore the public trust. The status quo no longer works.

Moreover, Congress must determine if and how we need to strengthen privacy standards to ensure transparency and understanding for the billions of consumers who utilize these products.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Sen. Chuck Grassley

Chuck Grassley is a Republican senator from Iowa and serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Twitter: .

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

A Faceoff over Facebook

It’s a Zuckerberg zoo on Capitol Hill again today, where the Facebook CEO sat down for his second day of questioning before dozens of House and Senate members. By far the most anticipated hearings of the year, the 33-year-old billionaire was grilled on everything from the company’s privacy policy to its position on free speech. After all, if Facebook is unfriending anyone lately, it’s conservatives!

Just this year, the company announced a change to its algorithm that seems to have radically affected conservative news feeds. The Western Journal’s analysis points to a huge rise in liberal site promotion, while conservative publishers are losing an average of roughly 14 percent of their Facebook traffic. Coincidence? Not hardly. While the company insists it’s all part of their “news curation” strategy, Hill members agree: it’s more like code for political censorship. As George Upper explains:

This algorithm change, intentional or not, has in effect censored conservative viewpoints on the largest social media platform in the world. This change has ramifications that, in the short-term, are causing conservative publishers to downsize or fold up completely, and in the long-term could swing elections in the United States and around the world toward liberal politicians and policies.

Facebook has argued that the company is “taking a step to try to define what ‘quality news’ looks like and give that a boost.” But who defines what “quality news” is? Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made that exact point in his questioning of the tech mogul yesterday.

Mr. Zuckerberg, I will say there are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship. There have been numerous instances with Facebook in May of 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposely and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news, including stories about CPAC, including stories about Mitt Romney, including stories about the Lois Lerner IRS scandal, including stories about Glenn Beck.

In addition to that, Facebook has initially shut down the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day page, has blocked a post of a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages, and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page, with 1.2 million Facebook followers, after determining their content and brand were, quote, ‘unsafe to the community. To a great many Americans that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias. Do you agree with that assessment?

Zuckerberg replied that he understood where the concern is coming from since “Facebook in the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place.” He told the group that he’s tried to make sure “that we do not have any bias in the work that we do.” Unfortunately, not very effectively. After insisting that no Republicans had not been marginalized by his new algorithms, the House’s Fred Upton (R-Mich.) read a campaign announcement from a conservative candidate for state senate in his home state that mentioned being pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. Facebook said it violated its standards. Zuckerberg faltered, suggesting that it might be an error, and they would follow up.

Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebr.) continued the theme, zeroing in on life. “There are some really passionately-held views about the abortion issue on this panel today. Can you imagine a world where you might decide that pro-lifers are prohibited from speaking about their abortion views on your content — on your platform?” Zuckerberg replied that he “would not want that to be the case,” only to go on to explain how artificial intelligence (A.I.) is proactively looking at content, which, as even he admits, will “create massive questions.” No one, Sasse continued, would want the Facebook CEO to leave and think “there’s sort of a unified view in the Congress that you should be moving toward policing more and more and more speech.” On the contrary, he continued, “Sex traffickers and human traffickers have no place on your platform. But vigorous debates? Adults need to engage in vigorous debates.” But, he shook his head:

I think you guys have a hard challenge. I think regulation over time will have a hard challenge. And you’re a private company so you can make policies that may be less than First Amendment full spirit embracing in my view. But I worry about that. I worry about a world where when you go from violent groups to hate speech in a hurry — and one of your responses to the opening questions, you may decide, or Facebook may decide, it needs to police a whole bunch of speech, that I think America might be better off not having policed by one company that has a really big and powerful platform. Can you define hate speech?

“I think that this is a really hard question,” Zuckerberg replied. “And I think it’s one of the reasons why we struggle with it. There are certain definitions that — that we — that we have around, you know, calling for violence or…” He didn’t finish. Unfortunately, he didn’t need to. As conservatives know, Facebook — just like Google, YouTube, Twitter, and others — have increasingly filtered out or shut down conversations on anything from pro-life movie trailers to its employees’ pro-Trump chatroom.

At the end of the day, what most Americans want is transparency. If Facebook holds itself out as a public service, a virtual public square, then they can’t have an algorithmic bouncer kicking people out just because they disagree with their political or moral views. As Senator Sasse pointed out, Facebook may be a private entity, but it’s virtually monopolizing the public square. And with that responsibility comes a higher expectation that civil conversations will be allowed. Just because Zuckerberg – or his leadership team — disagrees with someone doesn’t meant he should shut them down. This growing understanding that Big Tech is picking and choosing who can speak in the virtual public square may help explain why there’s been a jump in the number of Americans who want to see more government regulation. And in the end, that isn’t the answer. Responsible ownership is.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.


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VIDEO: Ted Cruz Grills Mark Zuckerberg Over Facebook’s Political Bias, Censorship

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spared over political bias and censorship during the Senate’s hearing Tuesday. Lawmakers questioned Zuckerberg about the social media company and its handling of user data. Cruz specifically asked if Facebook considers itself a neutral public forum. A full transcript of their exchange is below.

Cruz: “Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Zuckerberg, thank you for being here. Mr. Zuckerberg, does Facebook consider itself a neutral public forum?”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, we consider ourselves to be a platform for all ideas.”

Cruz: “Let me ask the question again. Does Facebook consider itself to be a neutral public forum? And representatives of your company have given conflicting answers on this. Are you a First Amendment speaker expressing your views, or are you a neutral public forum allowing everyone to speak?”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, here is how we think about this: I don’t believe that – there is certain content that clearly we do not allow. Right? Hate speech, terrorist content, nudity, anything that makes people feel unsafe in the community. From that perspective, that’s why we generally try to refer to what we do as a platform for all ideas.”

Cruz: “Because the time is constrained, it’s just a simple question. The predicate for Section 230 immunity under the CDA is that you are a neutral public forum. Do you consider yourself a neutral public forum, or are you engaged in political speech? Which is your right under the First Amendment.”

Zuckerberg: “Well, Senator, our goal is certainly not to engage in political speech. I’m not that familiar with the specific legal language of the law that you speak to, so I would need to follow up with you on that. I’m just trying to lay out how broadly I think about this.”

Cruz: “Mr. Zuckerberg, I will say there are a great many Americans, who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship. There have been numerous instances with Facebook. In May of 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposefully and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news, including stories about CPAC, including stories about Mitt Romney, including stories about the Lois Lerner IRS scandal, including stories about Glenn Beck. In addition to that, Facebook has initially shut down the ‘Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day’ page, has blocked a post of a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages, and most recently, blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page with 1.2 million Facebook followers, after determining their content and brand were, ‘unsafe to the community.’ To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias. Do you agree with that assessment?”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, let me say a few things about this. First, I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely Left leaning place. And this is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do, and I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”

Cruz: “So let me ask this question. Are you aware of any ad or page that has been taken down from Planned Parenthood?”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, I’m not. But let me just, can I finish?”

Cruz: “How about MoveOn.org?”

Zuckerberg: “Sorry?”

Cruz: “How about MoveOn.org?”

Zuckerberg: “I’m not specifically aware of those.”

Cruz: “How about any Democratic candidate for office?”

Zuckerberg: “I’m not specifically aware. I mean, I’m not sure.”

Cruz: “In your testimony, you say that you have 15,000 to 20,000 people working on security and content review. Do you know the political orientation of those 15,000 to 20,000 people engaged in content review?”

Zuckerberg: “No, Senator. We do not generally ask people about their political orientation when they’re joining the company.”

Cruz: “So as CEO, have you made hiring or firing decisions based on political positions or what candidates they supported?”

Zuckerberg: “No.”

Cruz: “Why was Palmer Luckey fired?”

Zuckerberg: “That is a specific personnel matter that seems like it would be inappropriate to speak to here.”

Cruz: “You made a specific representation that you didn’t make decisions based on political views. Is that accurate?”

Zuckerberg: “I can commit that it was not because of a political view.”

Cruz: “Do you know of the 15,000 to 20,000 people engaged in content review, how many, if any, have ever supported financially a Republican candidate for office?”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, I do not know that.”

Cruz: “Your testimony says, ‘It is not enough that we just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive.’ It says, ‘We have to make sure people aren’t using their voice to hurt people or spread misinformation. We have a responsibility not just to build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good.’ Mr. Zuckerberg, do you feel it’s your responsibility to assess users whether they are good and positive connections or ones those 15,000 to 20,000 people deem unacceptable or deplorable?”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, you’re asking about me personally?”

Cruz: “Facebook.”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, I think that there are a number of things that we would all agree are clearly bad. Foreign interference in our elections, terrorism, self-harm. Those are things…”

Cruz: “I’m talking about censorship.”

Zuckerberg: “Oh, well, I think that you would probably agree we should remove terrorist propaganda from the service. So that I agree, I think is clearly bad activity that we want to get down and we are generally proud of how well we do with that. Now, what I can say, and I do want to get this in before the end here, is that I am very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas. That is a very important, founding principle of what we do. We’re proud of the discourse and different ideas that people can share on the service, and that is something that as long as I’m running the company, I’m going to be committed to making sure is the case.”

Cruz: “Thank you.”

COMMENTARY BY

Video Team

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With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

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Joss Whedon’s Mental Descent Exemplifies Today’s Big Liberalism

Avengers’ director Joss Whedon suffers from the all-too-common mental disorder known popularly as Trump Derangement Syndrome. The condition is not yet part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but it’s symptoms are depressingly evident.

But Whedon acts as a sort of poster boy for both the disorder, and the attendant philosophic descent of modern liberalism.

Whedon, who comes from a family of wealth, grew up in Manhattan and went to high school at an elite all-boys school in England. He attended Connecticut’s pricey, private liberal arts school, Wesleyan University. He’s lived and swam in Hollywood circles for decades. Whedon is not only a successful Hollywood producer and director — including Buffy the Vampire SlayerFirefly, Dollhouse and The Cabin in the Woods — he is wildly rich with a net worth estimated at $100 million.

He has had a full inculcation in modern liberalism, the kind that can make him rail against average Americans who oppose the dangers and wage suppression of illegal immigration while he lives securely in a gated mansion with no competition from those immigrants; the kind that can make him rail against guns, while his personal security is maintained by men with guns.

So as spring follows winter, he has imbibed heavily of irrational Trump hatred sauce since November 2016. No hyperbole is too great for the smallest of perceived infractions. No amount of good news on the economy or world stage is not met with even more frothing Trump hatred. It’s the heart of the disorder, and an almost logical plunge for those who think there are 72 genders.

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His latest dive into the dark pool of jaw-dropping Trump hatred also sadly represents Big Liberalism, a philosophy in full breakdown in its own right. It’s unknown what tripped Whedon’s emotional trigger this time — it really doesn’t take anything — but he tweeted this a few days ago:

“Donald trump is killing this country. Some of it quickly, some slowly, but he spoils and destroys everything he touches. He emboldens monsters, wielding guns, governmental power, or just smug doublespeak. Or Russia. My hate and sadness are exhausting. Die, Don. Just quietly die.”

— Joss Whedon (@joss) April 4, 2018

Let’s break down the rant, because it is so instructive — not just of Whedon, but of all those suffering this same descent into madness.

Joss Whedon does not give one example of Trump “killing this country,” because there isn’t one. GDP is up, unemployment is down, deregulation is in gear, taxes have been cut, the military is slowly being rebuilt and so on. First sentence, demonstrably irrational. But to Whedon and others suffering, it’s just obviously true!

On the second sentence, charging that Trump spoils and destroys everything he touches, again he gives no evidence. Nothing.

The charge that Trump “emboldens monsters” is just provably false. Which monsters exactly has he emboldened? ISIS? ISIS has been largely eradicated as a land-holding terrorist organization since Trump’s election. Putin? Putin undoubtedly does not see it that way with sanctions, attacks on Putin allies and strengthening defenses against Putin’s expansionist desires. North Korea? Obviously the opposite is true with the North moving towards talks and pulling back some. Iran? Again, Trump is aiding the opposition trying to contain the terrorist state. What’s ironic is that the president who demonstrably emboldened all of these monsters was Obama. Each one became much stronger during Obama’s presidency.

The charge that Trump…“wielding guns, governmental power, or just smug doublespeak. Or Russia.” This is just where the frothing starts. Wielding guns? Who knows. Governmental power. Trump has been deregulating. That is kind of the opposite. And liberalism feasts on government power in the first place, so how would that even be a negative? Smug doublespeak? Or Russia? What now? Whedon, like so many others, is just sputtering nonsense repeated daily as though everyone knows. But there are no clothes on this king.

The fatefully critical part is the last sentence.

My hate and sadness are exhausting. Die, Don. Just quietly die.

Honesty. Finally. He hates Trump. He loathes to the point of wanting him dead. This is probably his most accurate portion.

Liberals hate Trump in a fashion that is wholly divorced from reality. Because by almost all actions and policies, he’s been an average to above-average conservative president. He simply has a unique and at times grating personality. Much of conservatism found that to be true of Obama, just in a different way. Note please, there was no such insanity then.

Then, wishing the president to die. This reveals the disorder in full bloom. Whedon is obviously not a dumb man. But when you publicly wish death to the President of the United States to your 226,000 Twitter followers, you’ve just begged for trouble.

But Whedon’s tweet includes many of the things that Big Liberalism tells itself and its devotees every day. They all believe it so blindly, with such religious-like fervor, they can just say, Guns! Russia! Monsters! And everyone nods their head in delusional agreement.

In an interesting and what appeared to be a contrarian sign, Joss Whedon appeared to be locked out of his account by Twitter, which generally only does this sort of thing to conservatives. Alas, however, it turns out it was just long enough for him to take down the tweet, then he was back in business.

But his grievance over it was real. He tweeted:

“Well I was put in twitter suspension but luckily there was also a jock, a weird girl, a socialite and a rebel and it turns out we’re all the same or something (?) anyway they all hooked up and I had to write this tweet so I’m not sure, trump still killing the country tho lol”

— Joss Whedon (@joss) April 6, 2018

This is the sort of thing someone unstable tweets. Whedon nicely exemplifies Big Liberalism: lots of money, lots of privilege, lots of arrogance, lots of hypocrisy, lots of insulation from Americans…growing mental instability.

Here’s the thing that many Americans will soon have to wrestle with (although probably not those suffering from the syndrome); despite all of these wild-eyed, bomb-throwing, the-end-is-nigh! proclamations, none of their prophecies of doom have come true.

There’s just not one iota of evidence to suggest Trump has done or will do any of the things these people claim he has already done. They don’t provide evidence for an obvious reason. Just wild denunciations. It’s easily arguable the country is better off at this point under Trump in every measurable way.

But Joss Whedon is Hollywood, and the media, and pop music stars and the broader Trump-deranged Big Liberalism culture that feeds off rabid hatred of the President that is beyond all reason. Eventually, either reality is going to create a crisis point for Whedon and the rest of Big Liberalism, or they will continue saying killing babies is a choice, and men can be girls if they feel like it and Trump is destroying the country. That will create a different crises.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act. Please join The Revolutionary Act’s YouTube Channel