Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21
Many companies these days seem more than happy to carry water for liberal political causes. So, naturally, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project will often have a very simple question to ask CEOs at their shareholder meetings.
How can corporate leaders accept the risk of alienating approximately half of their current and potential client base by taking a stand on a divisive political issue?
It’s obvious promoting something as controversial as gender free-for-alls in a store’s public bathrooms or using a company’s reputation to derail efforts to protect religious freedom can push consumers from Target to Kohl’s or Coke to Pepsi.
In a recent Inside Sources profile, FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq. spoke about how such situations are heightened due to the Trump presidency. “I think this will be a very busy year because President Trump is so different,” Justin told reporter Connor D. Wolf. “He is the headline generator of all time.”
Inside Sources reported:
Danhof deploys a very particular form of shareholder activism – with the concept traditionally being used by investors hoping to get more back on their investments. But in recent years the practice has also become a means of pushing for political, environmental, and social changes too…
Danhof also says that many corporate leaders have opposed the president on ideological grounds despite his policies helping their companies. He notes that when corporate leaders get into political issues that don’t relate to their business they risk alienating customers and investors just for ideological reasons – which could hurt the company.
“We’re going to be talking about immigration, tax reform, regulatory reform,” Danhof said. “And part of what we’re going to do is talk about the juxtaposition to the way that liberal leadership at many of these corporations have treated the administration.”
Danhof hopes to counter rhetoric from these activists along with other outside progressive groups that are working to influence corporations. He says they have fought the administration – while also trying to turn corporate leaders against business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“We have a business-friendly president who is doing wonders for your bottom line, for your investors, and for your customers,” Danhof said. “And yet many of these corporate leaders are still willing to oppose the Trump administration when and where they can.”
The article highlighted FEP’s appearance earlier this year at the Walgreens shareholder meeting. There, Justin pointed out the risk the drugstore chain faces by supporting special interest groups promoting “sanctuary city” policies that harm immigration enforcement. Company leaders promised to review their donations.
Inside Sources also mentioned Justin’s participation in the Costco shareholder meeting, where he asked the company’s famously liberal leadership about the recently passed Trump tax reform:
“I thought it would be interesting to travel to Costco because their leadership is famously liberal,” Danhof said. “I thought it would be interesting to see if they believed the same logic the liberal leadership has been touting. And they did not.”
Danhof adds that the company is still reviewing the impact of those tax cuts – but suspects it could soon lead to increased investments going toward domestic operations and employees. Costco already pays all its employees above the minimum wage and is often seen as a model employer by the left.
To read the Inside Sources article about FEP – “A Conservative Shareholder Activist in the Era of Trump” – in its entirety, click here.
Critical to the success of any Trump Administration plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure will be reform of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitting process. As National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper pointed out in a recent Washington Times commentary, NEPA regulation “can tie-up infrastructure projects in miles of red-tape and bog-down any progress in a regulatory swamp.”
In fact, it’s this “frustrating roadblock of the government’s own making,” Horace noted, that derailed allegedly “shovel-ready” infrastructure plans during Barack Obama’s presidency. Big government failed the big-government liberal!
In “Removing the Roadblocks,” Horace wrote:
NEPA exemplifies the all-too-common problem of government regulators getting in the way of development. A 2016 report from the National Association of Environmental Professionals found a bevy of cost overruns, project delays and bureaucratic reviews that were caused by NEPA’s regulatory regime. The report found that, on average, the permitting process — governed by laws such as NEPA — delayed most major public projects by more than five years, costing the nation $3.7 trillion.
This includes the costs of prolonged inefficiencies and unnecessary pollution caused by delay. Tellingly, this $3.7 trillion overregulation price tag is more than double the $1.7 trillion needed to modernize America’s infrastructure through the end of the decade.
Along with citing specific examples of NEPA delays, Horace pointed out NEPA-related problems are only getting worse:
But the Trump Administration is aware of the danger, and is already seeking to streamline the process. Horace wrote:
The crux of President Trump’s NEPA reforms is “one agency, one decision.” Instead of having environmental permits bounce around multiple federal agencies, amounting to years — even decades — in delays, a lead agency would produce a single, encompassing and realistic review. These reviews would have to meet a two-year deadline, putting us on par with the pace of permitting approval seen in Germany and Canada.
The designation of a lead agency and a two-year deadline are critical reforms that will help undue needless and expensive red tape. A key addition is litigation reform. The White House would also create a 150-day window of opportunity for litigation to be filed.
To read Horace’s commentary in its entirety, click here.
You’ve undoubtedly heard about Joy Behar’s public apology for having implied Christians with intense faith are mentally ill – Vice President Mike Pence, in particular. Did you know the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project played an essential role in making that apology a reality?
While controversy over Behar’s comment on “The View” had simmered since she said it over a month ago, it was FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq. who got Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger to spill the beans about her private apology to Vice President Pence. That reopened the controversy and led to her taking time out on the show this week to “sincerely apologize” to everyone. That’s something she and the network previously refused to do.
It was only at the Disney shareholder meeting, after Justin brought up Behar’s disrespectful display, that Iger revealed Behar’s apology to the Vice President.
Reflecting on the meeting and the blockbuster news he generated as a result of his shareholder activism, Justin said:
It took too long, but persistence from the Christian and conservative communities has yielded fruit. Joy Behar has finally apologized to Christians across the country that she offended when she mocked Vice President Mike Pence by suggesting that his faith was akin to a mental illness.
At last Thursday’s Disney shareholder meeting, I pressed the most powerful man in Hollywood – Bob Iger – about why such blatant bigotry was tolerated on Disney’s airwaves. He indicated that he took exception with Behar’s comments, and – for the first time – revealed that Behar apologized to Pence.
No doubt, Iger’s own displeasure with Behar – made public at the shareholder meeting – played a part in Behar’s mea culpa that she issued on “The View.” Additionally, spurred on by the Media Research Center, thousands of grassroots activists contacted ABC and its advertisers to voice their displeasure. It speaks volumes to the impact that conservative groups can have if collective voices are raised to pressure bad corporate actors.
It should also not go without noting that Justin overcame almost impossible odds to ask his question at Disney’s shareholder meeting. He called the meeting a “charade” because the company had set up a seating area for people to ask questions that was almost completely filled by members of a Disney fan club who were given preferential, early access to the meeting room. As a result, Justin – through tenacity and perseverance – was the only shareholder to ask a serious question among a string of laudatory statements and softball questions.
While Iger addressed the Behar controversy at Justin’s request, he did not adequately address Justin’s other concern about political bias that is rampant at ESPN. While Justin asked Iger to address ESPN host Jemele Hill’s comments that President Donald Trump is a white supremacist (and so are his supporters), Iger curtly replied: “I don’t agree with everything that you said. Thank you. I respect your right to say them.”
To this, Justin remarked:
Conservatives need to keep the pressure on Disney and ESPN over the outrageous comments and conduct of Jemele Hill.
She has repeatedly labelled President Trump and his supporters as white supremacists. Bob Iger personally intervened to keep her in place at ESPN. Disney and its leadership need to hear from conservatives that are rightfully offended by this obscene characterization and demand Ms. Hill and Disney apologize.
Never has the left appeared to have so much interest in the well-being of Michael Steele.
He was called both an “Uncle Tom” and “Oreo cookie” (black on the outside, white on the inside) when he ran for the U.S. Senate. While running to become Maryland’s lieutenant governor, he had actual Oreo cookies thrown in his direction at a debate.
In 2009, he was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee. After that, a blogger posted an altered photo of this black man in blackface.
But the left holds him in high regard right now because he can be used to throw shade at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference.
During the event’s Ronald Reagan Dinner, American Conservative Union Communications Director Ian Walters was presented with a surprise award. During his extemporaneous remarks about his CPAC experiences, he mentioned the election of Barack Obama and the subsequent election of Steele to head the RNC. Sharing his opinion that there was too much identity politics at play, Walters said Steele was elected “because he’s a black guy – that was the wrong thing to do.”
Now, leftist media that once derided Steele is coming to his defense – obviously because there’s a bigger fish to fry. After all, there were no Richard Spencer drop-ins to make hay about this year.
Walters’ comment, for example, led to this headline in The Root: “Former RNC Chair Michael Steele Shocked by Racist Comment from Racist at Racist Conference.”
Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, it is time to hear the rest of the story.
Two members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network were in attendance at the dinner. They saw Walters speak, and they have their own interpretations of what happened that night and throughout CPAC. Not surprisingly, their views differ from The Root’s. One said The Root was even way off on the menu.
Project 21 member Deroy Murdock, a Fox News contributor and contributing editor for National Review, said:
American Conservative Union Communications Director Ian Walters, ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp and the ACU-sponsored Conservative Political Action Conference are all being accused of racism due to Walters’ comments at last Friday’s Ronald Reagan dinner. These absurd, ridiculous and phony charges deserve rejection and scorn.
I attended the Reagan dinner, already a warm CPAC memory among the many that I have enjoyed since my first CPAC in 1983. Schlapp invited Walters to the stage for an unexpected honor – a sort of lifetime-achievement award that startled Walters as much as it surprised the crowd. In off-the-cuff remarks, a visibly stunned Walters observed that conservatives struggled to respond to Obama’s election as president of the United States in 2008.
“That was a hill we got over,” Walters said, “and it was something we were all proud of. And we weren’t sure what to do. And in a little bit of cynicism, what did we do? This is a terrible thing: We elected Michael Steele to be the RNC chair because he’s a black guy, and that was the wrong thing to do.”
Walters surely would have made his point more eloquently had he planned to address the conferees and prepared a statement. That said, Walters expressed the concern that the Republican National Committee chose Steele as chairman, at least in part, due to identity politics: If a black man headed the Democrat Party, a black man should head the Republican Party.
Steele’s subsequent tenure, marked by inappropriate-expense controversies and other distractions, reinforced the notion that the RNC might have been better served by someone with stronger management skills.
Could Walters have spoken more carefully? Yes. Were his words a white-nationalist battle cry? No. Are CPAC’s enemies using episode this to hammer conservatives without facts? What else is new?
The Root’s Michael Harriott wrote last Saturday, “CPAC is the country’s biggest and most influential national Klan conservative political convention, uniting disparate entities like white people, Caucasian people, more white people and Ben Carson.”
This slurfest, no surprise, reflects Harriott’s disdain for the right. What it does not reflect is reality.
Let’s start with Ian Walters. Is he Finnish? Norwegian? Icelandic? It’s hard to tell, because his sapphire eyes and bathtub-white skin are so blinding.
Actually, Walters’ brown flesh gives proof of his Philippine ancestry. If Schlapp intended to showcase an honoree who embodies white supremacy, he should visit an ophthalmologist — at once.
Furthermore, if CPAC=KKK, why did it not only allow me – a black American – into the Potomac Ballroom on Friday afternoon but – believe it or not – ask me to moderate a panel of experts on the Trump/GOP tax cuts in full view of attendees and C-SPAN’s national TV audience?
Congress of Racial Equality spokesman Niger Innis and my fellow Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli hosted back-to-back, black-to-black panels. Innis’ defended the Second Amendment. Borelli, in no small task, interviewed White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney – one of President Donald J. Trump’s most influential advisors.
Heritage Foundation President Kay Cole James, Campus Reform Editor Lawrence Jones, Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke were among the prominent black conservatives who presented their ideas from CPAC’s dais.
As for those witnessing all of this, atop the black activists and political candidates on the right, some 100 black Republican Millennials attended CPAC thanks to CORE, the Black Conservative Federation and registration discounts courtesy of ACU. A black man named Diante Johnson, 21, led this youth delegation, guaranteeing a glistening future for black conservatism.
Despite the left’s paranoid fantasies, CPAC once again welcomed Americans of multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds to celebrate the benefits of individual liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, free enterprise and peace through strength. The only bigotry involved the hideous hallucinations of CPAC’s critics.
Project 21 member Niger Innis, the national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, added:
I was at the dinner where Ian Walters’ speech took place – along with black pro-life singer Joy Villa, Kira Innis (my niece) and another rising star named Diante Johnson. He and my group, the Congress of Racial Equality, bought some 100 conservative black Millennials to CPAC. We were given front-row, VIP seats at President Trump’s speech in front of some of CPAC’s biggest donors. Deneen Borelli, Candace Owens, Sheriff David Clarke, Deroy Murdock and I were all prominent panelists and moderators.
I know all the actors in this controversy, and I consider all of them my friends: Michael Steele, Walters, Matt Schlapp and others.
What was Ian’s point? That America had made a historic leap forward that he applauded. He thinks the entire country, including conservatives, were swept up in the historic moment of electing our first black president. And he thinks that Michael Steele was elected the first black chairman of the RNC largely because of these realities and in reaction to them. And that the manifestation was a mistake.
Ian may largely be wrong on the process that elected Michael. Michael worked his behind off for decades to become a valued leader who could be a credible candidate. But largely does not mean completely wrong. Barack Obama and many black conservatives have credentials and accomplishments that have been enhanced by our blackness since the age of Obama began in 2004.
Did Michael Steele win a hard-earned RNC Chairmanship only because he was black? No.
Did he win in part – perhaps between one percent and 20 percent – because he was black? In my humble opinion, yes.
So it is the phenomenon of racial identity politics upon which Ian was commenting. One may agree or disagree with his point of view, but the fact remains he has a point of view on the this question. It does not make him a racist or what he said to be racist in any way, shape or form.
Racial? Yes. Racist? Hell no!
I’ve known Ian for nearly 15 years. Not only has he never demonstrated an ounce of racism, but we have often worked in concert to attract more people of color to the conservative movement. We have acted as reinforcing partners. Ian is a person of color himself – being a brown-skinned Filipino-American.
This drama is unfolding during the larger drama of a systematic left-wing-orchestrated attempt to undermine two powerful conservative institutions – CPAC and the NRA. They are not defending Michael Steele this out of the goodness of their hearts. They are doing it as a raw and naked power move.
Please don’t allow our friends at MSNBC and the rest of the liberal media to use this incident to make us pawns for a much larger political play.
To solve the “homicide epidemic” and related problems of crime and hopelessness in urban areas, Project 21 Co-Chairman Stacy Washington says there needs to be more community improvement and less lamentation about racism being the root of black America’s problems.
In a new commentary, “Cities Need Solutions, Not Scapegoating, to Solve Homicide Epidemic,” published by RealClearPolitics, Stacy focuses on the plight of her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.
Noting that “the share of black crime is much larger than its population” and the black community is the most victimized by it, Stacy focuses on the city’s excessive murder statistics:
Of the 205 murders in St. Louis last year, at least 193 of the victims were black. Of even more concern, 72 percent of those homicide victims were aged between 17 and 40. The “American carnage” to which President Trump so often refers is mostly young black men felled by other young black men in urban areas.
This must end.
In 1961, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King asked a church congregation to own up to some devastating facts on black crime, “Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58 percent of its crimes? We’ve got to face that. And we’ve got to do something about our moral standards. We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can’t keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves.”
Fifty-six years later, it is well past time to have “the talk” again – but, this time, no scapegoating, only solutions.
While noting the segregated nature of St. Louis as well as her own recent experiences with intolerance, Stacy remains critical of the “prevailing sentiment” of many black leaders to “shirk responsibility and lay blame on others” and engage in “meaningless rhetoric” about pervasive racism being a major reason for black suffering.
Isolated and mired in poverty and crime, many young urban blacks feel trapped by their circumstances, because opportunities seem so distant and unattainable. In many communities, black students who excel in school are physically assaulted, told they are “acting white,” and made subject to merciless ridicule. Furthermore, too much of black popular culture lauds irresponsible and dangerous behaviors from making the quick buck to consequence-free sex and, even, violence. In some quarters, these “values” are not just the norm but considered aspirational.
It’s a recipe for ruin.
But the time for “having conversations” is over. Senseless homicides are robbing our city of its treasure – the very young men and women who would partake in the American dream, if only they could live long enough to see it through…
Stacy suggests communities develop long-term strategic plans focused on “pulling in all of the stakeholders to get real about the link between poverty and crime and to leave race out of it”:
There’s no cure-all for poverty and inner-city homicide rates. But let’s start by replacing the discussion of racial animus with concrete efforts at improving black cultural norms, reducing segregation, and addressing poverty through the promotion of intact families. We’ve tried everything else with very little success; it’s time to get back to basics.
To read Stacy’s complete commentary in RealClearPolitics, click here.
Discussing his latest commentary on a recent edition of the Fox Business Network’s “Varney and Co.,” National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper called out the “blatant hypocrisy” of government officials in California who are suing energy companies for allegedly lying about their contributions to climate change in the Golden State. At the same time they wage this legal attack, however, these governments are acting like they “have no idea whether the climate is changing and whether it will have any effect on their citizens” when they promote investment in their communities.
“Apparently,” Horace said, “the left hand doesn’t know what the far-left hand is up to. When it comes to climate change hypocrisy, California takes the cake.”
California cities such as San Francisco and Oakland are suing ExxonMobil and other energy companies for damages over claims they are causing climate change likely to raise sea levels and diminish property values. Horace and John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, cited troubling factors with the lawsuit in their commentary that include a lack of perspective for a timeframe and scope of climate change trends as well as the need to prove the overwhelming contribution of these companies. The oddest factor in the case, to which Horace spoke to during his interview, is how these governments are not so doom-and-gloom when selling themselves to investors.
What they have decided is that they’re going to engage in a litigation-based regulation scheme going after what they call “big oil” and its complicity in climate change. But these same towns actually go into the bond market and they say something entirely different.
They’re claiming Exxon and Chevron and Shell should be telling every investor that – essentially – their stocks are going to be valueless once we all come to reason on climate change. Yet they don’t do that on their own bonds, which apparently – if they’re right – would also be almost as worthless.
Watch Horace’s appearance below.
While the overt bias of the media may be helping the NRA to recruit new members, it cannot be ignored that the organization is under assault on another front that could deal a crippling blow to the organization and its efforts to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
This assault comes from anti-gun zealots with the muscle of corporate America on their side. Perhaps no one has a better grasp of this tactic than Justin Danhof, Esq., the director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project. And this tactic is trained on more than just the NRA. In a recent commentary published by The Federalist, Justin wrote:
Liberals in need of patsies to carry their water need look no further than the nearest Fortune 500 company these days…
Furthermore, Justin solemnly warned:
Most conservatives wrote off finding ideological balance at our nation’s colleges and universities long ago, ceding campuses to the left. If conservatives do the same with corporate America’s leftward lean, the boardroom will soon be little more than an extension of the academy. That’s the cost of silence.
In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, many businesses have disassociated themselves with the NRA on business arrangements including credit cards, travel discounts and other amenities. These arrangements helped promote membership and raise money for the NRA.
As the leftist logic goes, you cut off the funding and let the organization wither on the vine.
This assault is similar to the left’s ongoing campaign to get corporate America to defund the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Why? ALEC is an effective champion of free enterprise. Liberals are cutting out the competition by cutting off its funding – and thus its ability to speak.
Right now, the anti-NRA spotlight is found on a major corporate holdout – FedEx. The company is under intense pressure to comply, and has issued criticism of the NRA that have some believing the company will inevitably fall into line.
Also on the agenda is potentially pressuring banks to use their power to make it harder to sell guns altogether.
Chronicling how the left’s corporate pressure strategy works, Justin wrote in The Federalist:
It’s an all too common pattern. Liberal politicians and the media take up a cause. Left-wing activist groups mobilize to pressure corporations. Corporate America joins the fray, and their support is used to bolster and justify the cause. It’s a circular echo chamber, but it’s effective…
Corporate leaders are generally far more amenable to outside pressure than politicians. Liberals know this and have employed tremendous resources to influence corporate behavior over decades…. In a world where the squeaky wheel gets the grease, conservatives don’t make a peep.
And, as was shown with the ALEC example, it’s not just the NRA or the gunsellers targeted by the left and corporate America. As Justin pointed out, major corporations such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Google, Disney and Nike – to name just a few – have lent their names and resources to efforts that successfully led to:
He noted that:
I witness liberal activists wag the tail of the corporate dog with almost no pushback. Corporate leaders I engage with remark such liberal orthodoxy often goes unquestioned and unchallenged.
There’s hope for conservatives – if they’re willing to go to work. Corporate America’s drift to the left need not become a permanent residence. Justin explained how the FEP has fought for the free market and traditional values in front of CEOs and their boards, and how the average American can do the same:
Using shareholder resolutions and questioning CEOs directly at annual shareholder meetings, we have ripped a page from the left’s playbook and are having an impact. However, the playing field is still unevenly stacked in favor of liberal activist investors.
Conservatives that are offended by corporate America’s recent attacks on the NRA can push back just as we do at the Free Enterprise Project. NRA members and 2nd Amendment supporters should contact United, Delta, Hertz and every company that has disengaged and ended their relationship with the NRA. Executives need to hear from critical voices, not just praise from the mainstream media for kowtowing to the demands of the left.
To read Justin’s commentary, “In Gun Debate, Big Business Lines up yet Again as Left’s Guns for Hire,” in its entirety, click here.
I wrote a blog post back in 2012 after the Sandy Hook school shooting that lamented the lack of attention paid to the role of the entertainment media in fostering America’s alleged “gun culture.”
More than five years later, it seems the same elements are at play:
And there’s still no serious attention given to how much movies, television, videogames and music contribute to a coarsening of the culture that I believe fuels the anger that can lead to deadly rampages.
I can’t say that I’d retract anything I wrote back then. For instance:
We live in an America where kids who are six-years-old and seven-years-old are suspended for making guns out of their fingers. President Obama is surrounded by well-armed Secret Service agents who disallow forks and knives at a dinner in which the President works the crowd (they insisted the meals be served pre-cut).
Yet we are told there’s nothing to fear about people playing video games or watching entertainment offerings for hours on end that depict human life being worth very little – a world in which redemption is a “reset” click away?…
The NRA, in reality, is the gun nerd lobby. Hollywood and the video game developers are the warmongers and promoters of violence. They are the ones who lobby against anyone who might take the violence out of gun culture. They’ll embrace the First Amendment while bashing the Second Amendment.
There is at least one high-profile figure sharing my point of view right now.
Commenting about the Parkland shooting, Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky echoed my point. In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, he said about video games:
Go back before any of this existed. How many children walked into other schools and slaughtered other children? What more evidence do you need? The people who say there is no evidence are full of crap.
Of course, when Bevin is not being ignored, he’s being castigated. In an essay published on The Verge, Laura Hudson wrote that Bevin was “casting about for scapegoats that can bear the terrible weight of blame for these crimes” and “reached down into the political grab bag of scapegoats to pin the blame on another familiar boogeyman: video games.”
And Hollywood? Tinseltown’s shiniest stars are donating millions – in $500,000 chunks, it seems – to upcoming anti-gun events. But actor George Clooney (Three Kings, From Dusk Til Dawn, The American) and director Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, Munich) owe their fortune to glorifying guns in popular culture.
When anti-gun zealots demand we “do something” about the violence, it’s obviously a dog whistle for gun confiscation. That will never happen, both from a legal and logistical standpoint. How about making guns less glamorous?
In our digital age, glamorization of guns resides at the end of one’s hand via their smartphones various gaming, video and music apps. It’s not the NRA pumping peoples’ adrenaline, it’s the entertainment industry. But they continue to deny their role – even the slightest involvement.
With addiction rehab so prevalent in La La Land, they should know the drill by now…
The first thing Hollywood needs to admit is that it has a problem with guns.
“Doing something” about gun violence in our schools should include focusing on a more straightforward attitude toward providing safety and a modern security strategy for those schools.
In his Daily Caller commentary, “School Safety is a Common-Sense Solution,” Council noted that too many people are focused on factors that will harm our rights help make society safer:
The rights our Founding Fathers sought to protect – including gun ownership – are not the problem. What we must address is not guns themselves but how young people get them. More important, however, is the need for effective school safety strategies that look beyond politics.
Council bring a unique perspective to the table in the debate over America’s alleged “gun culture,” root causes of anger and what police can and should do. He has actual experience in the worlds of law enforcement, education and ministry. He explained:
As a clergyman, law enforcement officer and former inner-city school teacher, I have seen firsthand the many factors contributing to increasing societal violence. There’s growing family dysfunction with too many fatherless families. There are more unchurched people. Schools ban faith. We have a culture where parents allow their children access to a constant stream of violence and anger through video games, social media, YouTube and entertainment media.
But Parkland raises another issue. While the shooter is clearly to blame, institutional and human error in dealing with the situation bears some responsibility for the carnage.
Citing retired NYPD lieutenant Dr. Darrin Porcher, Council noted the failure of those involved in the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting to quickly challenge the shooter or adequately follow-up on prior tips about the shooter’s mental instability and access to weapons. But Council also said that communities – possibly including in Parkland – are behind-the-curve on the latest police strategies for reducing the potential for damage caused by active shooters:
Having recently received tactical active shooter training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, I am aware of the new methods for addressing active shooters. Officers are now expected to be bolder. Before Columbine and Sandy Hook, standard procedure was for the first officer on the scene to set a perimeter and wait for the SWAT team. Today, officers like me are being trained to go into buildings and eliminate threats as quickly as possible – minimizing the loss of life.
Unfortunately, most officers do not receive this training. Many communities have yet to adequately address real and growing threats. There are plenty of demands for a “solution,” but who’s really protecting our children right now? Are local officers being trained to appropriately deal with active shooters? As some communities reduce their police departments’ size and budget, are they still prepared?
To read Council’s commentary in its entirety, click here.
In Catch-22, Joseph Heller wrote: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, there was a ban on waving flags in the general session auditorium. Was the CPAC leadership showing some bizarre solidarity with Antifa or Colin Kaepernick? Hardly. They were targets of a left-wing and (dare I say it) media-driven prank last year.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Someone did try to do it again this year. They almost got me.
Just before President Donald Trump addressed CPAC 2017, left-wing activists with a group called Americans Take Action infiltrated the general session room and passed out flags to the crowd. What might have looked like patriotic flags with Trump’s name on them were actually Russian flags.
I put the media into this caper because one of the ATA activists was Ryan Clayton – who has written for the Huffington Post. When HuffPo gleefully reported on what Clayton did, the reporter happened to leave out his HuffPo credentials. The affiliation was later exposed by James O’Keefe of Project Veritas.
And the Huffington Post didn’t seem to mind a writer was advocating. In fact, they let him post about doing it.
After the President’s 2018 CPAC address last Friday, I mentioned having seen the new rule posted and told my co-workers about the 2017 subterfuge while we had lunch outside the Gaylord resort where the conference was being held.
On our way back, as if on cue. we were approached by a smiling women who offered us the exact same flag as was used by ATA last year. Of course, I took one. I wanted a souvenir!
I didn’t let on that I was aware of her cunning ruse. I did wonder aloud to my co-workers as we approached the Gaylord as to how many people there might be inside ready to take photos of people waving these flags this year.
Within 15 minutes, I found one.
Heading down to the exhibit area, I saw a friend sitting at a table having lunch. I sat down with him to catch up on things. I told him about my encounter outside, and pulled the flag out of my backpack to show him. Seconds later, another person who was at the table with us warned me that a guy over my shoulder was trying to take my picture.
I quickly put the flag down. The guy knew he was spotted, and tried to make the best of it. He tried to flatter me about what a patriotic pose I had made (please!). He asked me to pose for him. I declined.
The guy had a press pass – claiming to represent a website called Cheddar. It’s unclear to me why a site that wants to be the “CNBC of the Internet” is interested in patriotic glamour shots, but one of its executives did claim “[w]e hope millennials come to us for the Trump stuff.” Fair enough, but I’m 50 – I don’t exude a signal of hipness for the millennial crowd.
P.T. Barnum may not have really said “there’s a sucker born every minute,” but it applies to what’s been going on at CPAC in trying to create collusion. And, as some people like to tack onto the phrase, there are also two people out there to take that sucker for a ride.
Since my first CPAC in the early 90s, it has grown exponentially in size, notoriety and attention from the media. It has always been a target for media wanting to find fault with conservatives. It’s regularly judged by its most radical members or most salacious exhibit hall swag. Or, in the case of fabulist Stephen Glass in the New Republic in 1997, the bad stuff is just made up.
While publicity is nice, perhaps media passes in the future should be a little harder to get. I know at least one conservative writer who was denied media credentials and told to buy a ticket. Maybe apply the same skepticism on media catering to the left next year.