So why did the American Civil Liberties Union oppose a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court and argue for a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against that judicial nominee? The answer is as clear as it is simple. It is all about pleasing the donors. The ACLU used to be cash poor but principle-rich. Now, ironically, after Trump taking office, the ACLU has never become so cash-rich, yet principle-poor.
The problem is that most of the money is not coming from civil libertarians who care about free speech, due process, the rights of the accused and defending the unpopular. It is coming from radical leftists in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and other areas not known for a deep commitment to civil liberties.
The old ACLU would never have been silent when Michael Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI and his clients’ files seized; it would have yelled foul when students accused of sexual misconduct were tried by kangaroo courts; and it surely would have argued against a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against a judicial nominee.
When the ACLU’s national political director and former Democratic Party operative Faiz Shakir was asked why the ACLU got involved in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, he freely admitted, “People have funded us and I think they expect a return.”
President Trump greeting Brett Kavanaugh and his family. Why did the American Civil Liberties Union oppose a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court and argue for a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against him? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Now that Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed, it is appropriate to look at the damage caused by the highly partisan confirmation process. Among the casualties has been an organization I have long admired.
After Politico reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was spending more than $1 million to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, I checked the ACLU website to see if its core mission had changed — if the ACLU had now officially abandoned its non-partisan nature and become yet another Democratic super PAC. But no, the ACLU still claims it is “non-partisan.”
So why did the ACLU oppose a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court and argue for a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against that judicial nominee?
The answer is as clear as it is simple. It is all about pleasing the donors. The ACLU used to be cash poor but principle-rich. Now, ironically, after Trump taking office, the ACLU has never become so cash-rich, yet principle-poor. Before Donald Trump was elected President, the ACLU had an annual operating budget of $60 million dollars. When I was on the ACLU National Board, it was a fraction of that amount. Today it is flush with cash, with net assets of over $450 million dollars. As the ACLU itself admitted in its annual report ending 2017, it received “unprecedented donations” after President Trump’s election. Unprecedented” it truly has been: the ACLU received $120 million dollars from online donations alone (up from $3-5 million during the Obama years).
The problem is that most of the money is not coming from civil libertarians who care about free speech, due process, the rights of the accused and defending the unpopular. It is coming from radical leftists in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and other areas not known for a deep commitment to civil liberties. To its everlasting disgrace, the ACLU is abandoning its mission in order to follow the money. It now spends millions of dollars on TV ads that are indistinguishable from left wing organizations, such as MoveOn, the Democratic National Committee and other partisan groups.
As the New Yorker reported on the ACLU’s “reinvention in the Trump era,”
“In this midterm year…as progressive groups have mushroomed and grown more active, and as liberal billionaires such as Howard Schultz and Tom Steyer have begun to imagine themselves as political heroes and eye Presidential runs, the A.C.L.U., itself newly flush, has begun to an active role in elections. The group has plans to spend more than twenty-five million dollars on races and ballot initiatives by [Midterm] Election Day, in November. Anthony Romero, the group’s executive director, told me, ‘It used to be that, when I had a referendum I really cared about, I could spend fifty thousand dollars.’”
This new strategy can be seen in many of the ACLU’s actions, which would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. The old ACLU would never have been silent when Michael Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI and his clients’ files seized; it would have yelled foul when students accused of sexual misconduct were tried by kangaroo courts; and it surely would have argued against a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against a judicial nominee.
Everything the ACLU does today seems to be a function of its fundraising. To be sure, it must occasionally defend a Nazi, a white supremacist, or even a mainstream conservative. But that is not its priority these days, either financially or emotionally. Its heart and soul are in its wallet and checkbook. It is getting rich while civil liberties are suffering.
There appears to be a direct correlation between the ACLU’s fundraising and its priorities. When the ACLU’s national political director and former Democratic Party operative Faiz Shakir was asked why the ACLU got involved in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, he freely admitted, “People have funded us and I think they expect a return.” Its funders applaud the result because many of these mega donors could not care less about genuine civil liberties or due process. What they care about are political results: more left-wing Democrats in Congress, fewer conservative justices on the Supreme Court and more money in the ACLU coffers.
When I served both on the National and Massachusetts Boards of the American Civil Liberties Union, board members included conservative Republicans, old line Brahmans, religious ministers, schoolteachers, labor union leaders and a range of ordinary folks who cared deeply about core civil liberties. The discussions were never partisan. They always focused on the Bill of Rights. There were considerable disagreements about whether various amendments covered the conduct at issue. But no one ever introduced the question of whether taking a position would help the Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, Jews or Catholics or any other identifiable group. We cared about applying the constitution fairly to everyone, without regard to the political consequences.
As the New Yorker described these more innocent times: the ACLU “… has been fastidiously nonpartisan, so prudish about any alliance with political power that its leadership, in the nineteen-eighties and nineties, declined even to give awards to like-minded legislators for fear that it might give the wrong impression.”
Those days are now gone. Instead we have a variant on the question my immigrant grandmother asked when I told her the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series in 1955: “Yeah, but, vuz it good or bad for the Jews?” My Grandmother was a strong advocate of identity politics: all she cared about was the Jews. That was 63 years ago. The questions being asked today by ACLU board members is: is it good or bad for the left, is it good or bad for Democrats, is it good or bad for women, is it good or bad for people of color, is it good or bad for gays?
These are reasonable questions to be asked by groups dedicated to the welfare of these groups but not by a group purportedly dedicated to civil liberties for all. A true civil libertarian transcends identity politics and cares about the civil liberties of one’s political enemies because he or she recognizes that this is the only way that civil liberties for everyone will be preserved.
Today, too few people are asking: Is it good or bad for civil liberties?
Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — which seeks to criminalize criticism of migration — is nothing more or less than a dangerous effort to weaken national borders, to normalize mass migration, to blur the line between legal and illegal immigration, and to bolster the idea that people claiming to be refugees enjoy a panoply of rights in countries where they have never before set foot.
One thing about the agreement, in any event, is irrefutable: almost nobody in the Western world has been clamoring for this. It is, quite simply, a project of the globalist elites. It is a UN power-grab.
The waterfront in the Chilean city of Valdivia. Photo: Arvid Puschnig via Wikimedia Commons.
Top Jewish groups have welcomed a Chilean government decision made earlier this week to ban municipalities across the country from boycotting Israel.
The ruling — issued by the Comptroller General of Chile – stemmed from a complaint filed by the Chilean Jewish community over a move of the Valdivia municipality to ban the city from signing contracts with Israel-linked companies.
New immigrants to Israel arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Aug. 17, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Baz Ratner.
A top Israeli minister called on the government on Sunday to craft a “comprehensive plan” to encourage the aliyah of French Jews.
In Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett’s view, there has been a “historic missed opportunity” in recent years to bring more French Jews to Israel as immigrants.
“There are 200,000 French Jews who want to come here, and the state bureaucracies simply aren’t prepared for it,” Bennett, who also serves as education minister and head of the right-wing HaBayit HaYehudi party, claimed at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “These are ethical people, Zionists, lovers of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and it is our moral obligation to help them.”
Israel has started uncovering and destroying Hezbollah’s attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, but destroying the group’s ambitious precision missile project will be much more difficult.
The Israel Defense Forces placed a camera into Hezbollah’s secret cross-border attack tunnel before sunrise on Dec. 4. They pushed it into the Lebanese side, under the Blue Line that separates the two countries. At dawn, two Hezbollah operatives reached the spot on their morning rounds. In the video disseminated by the IDF on Tuesday evening, one of the operatives is seen approaching the camera with suspicion. He stuck his nose in its direction and started to sniff around until something exploded in his face and he ran back the way he’d comVisibilitye.
The timing of Operation Northern Shield, to destroy Hezbollah tunnels leading from Lebanon into Israel, suggests that considerations other than security were behind the decision to launch it.
An Israeli commando from Yahalom, an engineering unit, takes part in a tunnel-hunting drill near Tel Aviv, March 7, 2012.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Likud activists on Dec. 2 that was both defensive and combative toward law enforcement authorities. He complained about the supposedly suspicious timing of the police announcement recommending his indictment for taking bribes in Case 4000, coming as it did one day before Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh concluded his term in office.
This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel’s sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.
Attack tunnels are intended to allow for significant numbers of armed infantry bearing weapons, artillery and supplies, to traverse them within a minimal time span, avoiding Israeli lookouts and thereby gaining the element of surprise.
Last Saturday, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani called Israel “a cancerous tumor” in a speech at the regime’s annual Islamic Unity Conference.
Rouhani’s fellow speakers included deputy Hezbollah chief Naim Qassem and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. Both terror bosses called for the destruction of the “cancerous tumor.”
With the predictability of a Swiss clock, the Europeans rushed to condemn Rouhani. The EU in Brussels condemned Rouhani. The German Foreign Ministry condemned Rouhani. And so on and so forth.
We could have done without their statements.
It was clear that with the onset of Operation Northern Shield—meant to neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border—some would call it a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who believe the timing of the police’s recommendations in Case 4000—announced on the last day of Roni Alsheikh’s tenure as the police commissioner—was reasonable, somehow complain about the timing of the operation.
On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.
What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is particularly symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.
This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. But Abbas is now defending Hamas because he despises the Trump administration, which has sponsored a UN draft resolution that condemns Hamas. Pictured: Abbas (right) meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on May 30, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abu Askar/PPO via Getty Images)