In 2019, we must restore America's culture of free speech

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As we ring in the new year, there's an important lesson to remember in 2019. We need to be on guard against possible future infringements on free speech rights, as politicians from both sides of the aisle have given us ample cause for concern.

2018 has proved particularly unsettling for the future of free speech. President Trump repeatedly admonished the free press and continues to denounce the media as the "enemy of the people." The president, a man who is often lauded by supporters for speaking his mind, has a long track record of opposition to free expression. Trump has proposed closing parts of the internet in order to stop terrorists from supposedly using it to spread propaganda and recruit people to their cause. He has also argued that NFL players should be suspended without pay for kneeling during the national anthem in protest. Trump has even suggested loosening libel laws in order to make it easier to sue critical news organizations for defamation.

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But the president isn't alone in his disregard for the First Amendment, as his detractors have also attempted to curb free expression. Discussing the recent Congressional hearing on Google, Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA, told CNN:

"I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech. The First Amendment prevents me from doing so. "

While Lieu admitted that over the long run it's better that the government doesn't regulate the content of speech, his candid comments peeled back the curtain to reveal a disdain for free expression.

He isn't alone. Newly-reinstated Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, has said she plans to tackle campaign finance laws. Part of her plan includes passing a bill which would allocate taxpayer money to match small dollar campaign donations in a six to one match. Another aspect of the plan would require tax-exempt charity groups to disclose the identity of donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle. David Harsanyi, a senior editor at the Federalist, wrote an op-ed in Reason criticizing the proposed project as a blatant violation of the First Amendment.

"I have zero interest in financially supporting any politician, much less ones I find morally unpalatable," Harsanyi wrote. "Yet Democrats want to force me—and every other American taxpayer—to contribute, as a matter of public policy, to the campaigns of candidates we disagree with."

As Harsanyi explains, money is a form of speech and Pelosi's project would compel taxpayers to fund political speech they don't necessarily support. Additionally, requiring certain donors to reveal their identities could also chill political speech, and would violate the right to speak anonymously, which the Supreme Court protected in NAACP v. Alabama.

So it's clear that scorn for the First Amendment is a rare area of bipartisan agreement. Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have an interest in regulating speech. Recently, their attention has turned to social media, where concerns over political bias and "fake news" have led to several high-profile congressional hearings. Lawmakers could hold social media companies accountable for the content that appears on their platforms by amending Section 230.

Thankfully, at least one branch of the government has diligently defended the First Amendment. In 2018, the Supreme Court handed down several rulings that protected the right to free speech. The Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that mandatory union fees for public sector employees run afoul of the First Amendment because they force workers to fund political organizations they might disagree with. And in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, the Court struck down a suppressive law prohibiting individuals from wearing political apparel near or in a polling place. Still, there's cause for concern.

Culture is the foundation of law. As the culture of free speech is chipped away, the foundation weakens and is left vulnerable to those wishing to restrict or regulate speech. Rep. Lieu is right that the First Amendment stops him from regulating speech, but if people don't care about free expression anymore—if the culture of free speech is corroded—then lawmakers from both parties will find a way to circumvent the law, and it will eventually crumble. In 2019, Americans should strive to restore our culture of free speech, before it's too late.

Lindsay Marchello is an associate editor with The Carolina Journal and a contributor with Young Voices. Follow her on Twitter at @LynnMarch007.

The great beyond. What does it hide from us? Do unknown lifeforms linger in the dark? In other words, was David Bowie right? Is there life on Mars? The head of Harvard University's Astronomy Department contends that, yes, there is. Well, not that there's life on Mars. I'll explain in just a minute.

In an academic article for the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Dr. Avi Loeb, the head of Harvard University's Astronomy Department, claimed that an alien probe entered our solar system. He claimed that it is masked as the space rock Oumuamua (Ow-moo-ah-moo-ah), "the first interstellar object to enter our solar system." It turns out that "space rock" is way more than a musical genre.

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In his own words:

Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that 'Oumuamua is a lightsail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment.

His evidence? pointed to the space rock's abnormal acceleration, activity which he gathered via the Hubble Space Telescope.

He added that "the lightsail technology might be abundantly used for transportation of cargo between planets."

Sounds a bit like Star Wars, no? Or are you more of a Star Trek fan? Either way, it's an odd thing to hear from the head of Harvard University's Astronomy Department. Typically, we hear these sorts of things from the darker corners of the History Channel.

Well, I'll say that, at this point, I'm not really surprised. It's 2019. I'm not surprised by anything anymore.

"I don't care what people say," Loeb said. "It doesn't matter to me. I say what I think, and if the broad public takes an interest in what I say, that's a welcome result as far as I'm concerned, but an indirect result. Science isn't like politics: It is not based on popularity polls."

Honestly, I believe the guy. Well, I'll say that, at this point, I'm not really surprised. It's 2019. I'm not surprised by anything anymore. Heck, I welcome alien lifeforms. Maybe they can give us some advice on how to get our world together.

The third annual Women's March is approaching, and the movement has shown signs of strife. It's imploding, really. An article in Tablet Magazine revealed deep-seated antisemitism among the co-chairs of the movement, which is funny for a movement that brands itself as a haven of "intersectionality." The examples pile up, and just yesterday there was another. I'll tell you about it in a minute.

The Women's March has been imploding, and it started at the very top. Four women have come to represent the diverse face of the movement, the co-chairs: Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland.

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Increasingly, we've learned that anti-Semitism is common among these women.

Teresa Shook, who founded the Women's March has repeatedly asked them to step down: The co-chairs "have steered the Movement away from its true course. I have waited, hoping they would right the ship," Shook wrote. "But they have not. In opposition to our Unity Principles, they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs."

Tamika Mallory gave us the latest example, by continuing to stand by Louis Farrakhan. Check out Tamika's arrogant, nonsensical response. But the real problem came at the end of Mallory's rambling non-answer.



Women's March Leader Tamika Mallory Doubles Down On Love For Louis Farrakhan youtu.be


Later this week I'll go over the entire controversy on Glenn TV. It's harrowing, really. For now, I'll leave you with this. Critics of 4th wave feminism have argued that the radical identity politics of the left will lead to the exact kind of mistreatment that feminists claim to be against. That argument has been written off as using the slippery slope fallacy. But, as we see with the Women's March, it is in fact a brutal reality.

Remember how serious Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were last week, when they gave their "rebuttal" to President Trump's address? They made it seem like this government shutdown is apocalyptic. A lot of Democrats have done the same. On social media and CNN at least. Thirty Democrats, however, took a different route. Puerto Rico. For cocktails at the beach.

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A group of 30 Democrats have turned the government shutdown into a live-action interpretation of a Jimmy Buffet song:

Nibblin' on sponge cake, Watchin' the sun bake.

No, seriously. In the words of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders:

Democrats in Congress are so alarmed about federal workers not getting paid they're partying on the beach instead of negotiating a compromise to reopen the government and secure the border.

A photo of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez at a resort beach has gone viral.

They arrived via chartered jet. They're staying at a seaside resort, and attended the ridiculously-priced and overhyped play "Hamilton," where tickets for opening night "ranged from $10 to $5,000," according to the Associated Press. They even attended several afterparties.

Of course, the official occasion seems legit. They're in San Juan for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC. According to a memo for the gathering:

This year's winter retreat promises to be our most widely attended yet with over 220 guests, including 39 Members of Congress and CHC BOLD PAC supporters expected to attend and participate!

Also in attendance, about 109 lobbyists, from a number of places, including "R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions like the National Education Association."

Donald Jr. said it well:

And of course no one says anything. I'm not even in government and I'd get killed in the press if I was on vacation right now. Why won't they cover their democrat buddies lobbyist sponsored vacation in the islands???

Maduro takes office and Venezuelans vote with their feet

CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuela continues to collapse. A country that used to have the world's largest oil reserves is now in rags. Its money is worthless, with inflation near one million percent. People must work an average of five days at minimum wage just to afford a dozen eggs. But there is one person still pumped about Venezuela's future – its noble president, Nicolas Maduro! I'll tell you why he's still enthusiastic in just a minute…

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro had a stellar 2018. Here are some highlights:

  • Running water and electricity only work occasionally and prices for basic goods doubled.
  • Doctors, engineers, oil workers, and electricians fled the country en masse. Over 48,000 teachers also left the country.
  • Over half a million Venezuelans fled to Peru alone.

Maduro created a new digital currency called the "petro." One petro is supposed to equal the price of a barrel of oil, about $60. U.S. Treasury Department officials call the petro a scam. Who could've seen that coming?

Maduro also announced a 3,000 percent minimum-wage hike. Even Ocasio-Cortez might roll her eyes at that one. Or find it inspiring.

And just yesterday, a Human Rights Watch report detailed how Venezuelan intelligence and security forces are arresting and torturing military personnel and their family members who are accused of plotting against Maduro. The torture includes: "brutal beatings, asphyxiation, cutting soles of their feet with a razor blade, electric shocks, food deprivation, [and] forbidding them to go to the bathroom."

It's so bad in Venezuela that even The Washington Post admits Venezuela's problems are mostly due to "failed socialist policies." But President Nicolas Maduro gave a televised New Year's address calling 2019, "the year of new beginnings." He's pumped, you see, because today he will be sworn in for his second six-year term as president. He was "re-elected" last May in an election that the international community declared illegitimate.

Thirteen nations released a statement last week urging Maduro not to take office and saying they would not recognize his presidency.

Maduro doesn't have many friends left at home or abroad. Thirteen nations released a statement last week urging Maduro not to take office and saying they would not recognize his presidency. This week, the U.S. added more Venezuelan officials to its sanctions list.

In a press conference yesterday, Maduro said:

There's a coup against me, led by Washington. I tell our civilians and our military to be ready. Our people will respond.

I think the people of Venezuela who have the means are already responding – by leaving.