By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Amy Goodman, the host of the far-left radio and TV show “Democracy Now!,” which has become “one of public broadcasting’s fastest growing programs,” thinks she knows why the progressives are winning elections. “Missed by the mainstream media, but churning at the heart of our democracy, are social movements, movements without which President Obama would not have been re-elected,” she says. What she doesn’t say is that many of these “social movements” are bought and paid for by George Soros. One of them—the campaign to abolish the death penalty—has been a pet project of Soros for decades.
But this is also an Achilles heel for the progressives, who stand exposed as people who want to save the lives of serial killers, cop killers, traitors, and those who rape and murder women and children. In a major setback, they lost the battle over Proposition 34 in liberal California on November 6. Proposition 34 would have abolished the death penalty.
Amy Goodman spoke at Bradley University on October 30 about these “social movements,” including the movement behind Proposition 34. The movement to end the death penalty is just one of many “movements for social justice and change” that the media should be following, Goodman said. She is correct. It is important to analyze these movements, their funding, and their methods. It is also important to understand how they win and why they lose.
Proposition 34, which would have saved the lives of more than 700 inmates awaiting execution on California’s death row, was defeated by a margin of 52-48 percent in one of the most liberal states in the nation.
The outcome was extraordinary in view of the fact that the measure’s backers vastly outspent opponents by millions of dollars. The backers were led by the American Civil Liberties Union, which contributed more than $700,000, while the grass-roots opposition to Proposition 34 was described in news reports as “cash-strapped.”
In an extraordinary video recorded in April of 2010, Ann Beeson, then-Executive Director of U.S. Programs for the Soros-funded Open Society Institute, spoke in detail about the campaign to abolish the death penalty. Beeson, a former Associate Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, described to a sympathetic audience how the “death penalty movement” was “underfunded” and “haphazard” in 2005 but with the support of George Soros and other big funders by the end of 2007 had developed “a comprehensive campaign to abolish the death penalty in the United States by the year 2025.” The strategy was based on a “sophisticated” document, she said, which included as one of the key claims that the death penalty was just too costly to implement.
This is why the liberals called Proposition 34 the “Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California (SAFE Act) Initiative.”
“The central tactic of those leading the opposition to California’s death penalty is to focus on costs to the public of pursuing the death penalty in the criminal justice system, as if that alone should be the determinant factor in meting out justice,” a Judicial Watch report noted in advance of the vote.
Judicial Watch noted that the cost of the execution procedure, including the chemicals, is minimal, and that “The real cost involved in the capital punishment procedure is related to the court reviews, both those mandated by the legislature as well as the appeal procedures initiated by the convicted inmates’ legal staff. These costs vary depending upon the resources of the convicted inmate and the length of the court procedures involved.”
In this case, emphasizing the impact on crime victims and their families, a “social movement” in favor of law and order led the campaign for the death penalty and against Proposition 34. This video showed those who lost their loved ones to brutal criminals, and the political leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, who came out against Proposition 34.
In a series of reports, the “No on Prop 34” forces highlighted the most violent and heinous killers who get the death penalty in California. They included:
- Serial killer and child rapist Robert Rhoades. He raped and tortured 8-year-old Michael Lyons for 10 hours, stabbing him 70 times before slitting his throat and dumping his body in a river.
- Spencer Brasure tortured former child actor Anthony Guest for hours. The Los Angeles Times reported, “Evidence presented at Brasure’s trial showed that he burned Guest with a propane torch, shocked him with electric current, and drove metal staples into his head. The next morning, Brasure and the accomplice drove Guest to a remote campground near Gorman where they doused him with gasoline and set him on fire with a road flare. Brasure later bragged about the murder to his friends.”
When the results were in, the progressives had lost, despite their monetary advantage. “On behalf of the families of crime victims everywhere, we thank the voters of California for rejecting Prop 34 and standing up for those who no longer have a voice,” said McGregor Scott, former United States Attorney and Co-Chair for No on Prop 34. “Even though the ACLU and other out-of-state special interests outspent us by a 25-1 margin, justice prevailed. They spent millions trying to deceive voters with unsubstantiated claims and were soundly rejected. The people of California sent a clear message that the death penalty should still be implemented for those who commit the most heinous and unthinkable crimes.”
However, another soft-on-crime measure on the ballot, Proposition 36, did pass. It will allow almost one-half of California’s “Three Strikes” prison inmates to be re-sentenced and released. But the story here is more complex than just that the liberals won.
Mike Reynolds helped draft the 1994 “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law after his 18-year-old daughter, Kimber, was killed in 1992. The two men behind the murder had recently been paroled from prison and were repeat offenders. After the Three Strikes law passed in 1994, crime dropped in half in California. It imposed severe penalties on criminals who commit serious crimes and gave Three Strikes offenders a life-prison sentence.
In this case, Reynolds told AIM, deception paid off for the proponents. He says Proposition 36 passed at least in part because the State Attorney General Kamala Harris phrased it in a deceptive manner on the state ballot, leading people to think it was a tough-on-crime measure. In addition, the proponents outspent opponents by $2.7 million to $100,000. Soros alone had given $1 million to the “pro” side, primarily because the measure lessened penalties for the possession of illegal drugs—another pet project of the hedge-fund billionaire.
Harris, who spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, has refused to release information through a public records request from the Coalition for a Drug Free California about her meetings with pro-marijuana lobby organizations funded by Soros.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].