New Hampshire Democrat Has History of Domestic Violence

A New Hampshire Democrat seeking state office in next week’s election was arrested and charged on multiple counts of domestic violence last year, Patch reported Wednesday. 

Brett Gagnon was arrested in January 2019 for assaulting a woman in his home while arguing over a child. According to a police report, the victim said Gagnon twisted her hand, left scratches on her chest, and hit her on the nose. Police said in the report they suspected he was under the influence of alcohol at the time. 

Three of the charges were dropped during a hearing in March 2019, and one assault charge was added to his record for two years “pending good behavior.” Gagnon is required to attend a batterer’s intervention program and must refrain from using drugs or alcohol during the two years the charge is on his record.

According to Patch, after news of Gagnon’s charges broke, Ray Buckley, the Democratic state party chair, asked voters to pick one of the other Democratic candidates on the ballot. He said the party would immediately call for Gagnon’s resignation if he wins the state house seat next week. 

Gagnon told Patch in an email that the incident led him to run for office because he feels he was treated unfairly. “I do not agree with the accusations that lead [sic] me to be arrested,” he said.

The candidate faces 10 other Democrats and 11 Republicans in next week’s general election to represent Hudson and Pelham in the state house next year.

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U.S. Sanctions Put Iran in Cash Crunch, Iran Envoy Says

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani

The Iranian government has access to just $10 billion in hard currency, complicating the hardline regime’s efforts to fund wars across the Middle East, its terror proxy groups such as Hezbollah, and its nuclear program, according to the Trump administration’s top Iran envoy.

While Iran has around $100 billion stored in various international accounts, U.S. sanctions have frozen most of these funds, leaving the regime with around $10 billion in cash and limiting Tehran’s ability to fuel its global terror operation. With active wars and terrorism operations in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, Tehran’s resources are closer than ever to running dry, according to Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration’s special envoy for Iran.

“A lot of money is tied up in various ways by our sanctions,” Abrams told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. “So, the amount that is really accessible [to Iran] is much lower” than the amount currently stored in international bank accounts. While Iran has not publicly disclosed its financial status, the coronavirus pandemic has forced it to inject nearly $1 billion into its ailing economy. With inflation at an all-time high and revenues at an all-time low, the International Monetary Fund predicts that Iran may only be left with $85 billion in cash by the end of the year, much of which remains frozen.

In the final months of President Donald Trump’s first term, the United States is pressing forward with a range of sanctions on Iran’s oil sector, nuclear sector, terrorist proxy groups, and financial networks, according to Abrams. Many of these sanctions, however, hang in the balance ahead of the contested presidential election next week. Democratic challenger Joe Biden has vowed to reenter the nuclear deal with Iran, paving the way for Iran to receive major sanctions relief that would refill its government coffers. Iranian leaders have already staked out a hardline position, insisting that Tehran be granted significant cash windfalls before reentering the deal with a Biden administration.

The United States shows no sign of backing down from its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s State Department is sanctioning Iran’s oil trade—a significant source of revenue for the regime—and warning banks across the globe that if they deal with Iran, they will run afoul of American sanctions laws. This is likely to deprive the regime of further resources and send a firm message to the global banking system that Iran is not open for business under the Trump administration.

On Thursday, the administration announced the completion of a months-long operation to intercept several shipments of anti-tank and other advanced missiles sent by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to terrorist fighters in Yemen. In conjunction with the Department of Justice, Abrams also spearheaded the seizure of 1.1 million barrels of Iranian oil bound for Venezuela, representing the U.S. “government’s largest-ever civil seizures of fuel and weapons from Iran,” according to the State and Justice Departments. The United States sold the seized oil and donated the profits to a fund maintained for American victims of terrorism.

Iran’s oil sector is a high-profile source of revenue for the regime that the United States has been targeting for the past several years. Much of this oil is being illicitly shipped to China and Venezuela, which has grown increasingly close to Iran under the leadership of dictator Nicolas Maduro.

The State Department has been going after “shipping companies, insurers, ship captains” to dismantle Iran’s oil trade, according to Abrams. That effort has reduced Iran’s oil revenues and forced it to sell crude oil on the cheap to countries such as China and Venezuela. The most recent seizure of Iranian crude by the United States cost the regime millions in profits.

Still, the Trump administration remains locked in a diplomatic stalemate with its European allies over the implementation of sanctions and a United Nations arms embargo on Iran. The United States invoked a mechanism known as “snapback” in August that reinstated all international sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the nuclear agreement. European powers, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, refused to support the move, generating confusion over the state of global sanctions on Tehran.

Asked about the U.S. disagreement with the European Union, Abrams said that American sanctions still have the power to stop businesses from dealing with Iran—despite the rhetoric coming out of Europe.

“Statements by diplomats and politicians, including foreign ministers, to the effect that these sanctions are not really in effect, or that they won’t be followed, or that they won’t work, are meaningless,” Abrams said. “Foreign ministers don’t actually abide by or refuse to abide by sanctions.”

Sanctions are meant to deter the global business and banking communities, Abrams said.

“The decisions are made all over the world by 10 to 30,000 individuals—business leaders, bankers, financiers—and they look at a proposed transaction and … call their lawyer who says, ‘Don’t be an idiot,’” he said. “They sometimes look at transactions and say, ‘The legal fees will be higher than our profits.’ It doesn’t matter frankly what foreign ministers say. It matters what businessmen and people in finance do.”

Jack Beyrer contributed to this report.

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The Next Populist Revolt

Italian police officers clash with protesters during a protest against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of COVID-19

For the past half decade, Europe has acted as a preview of coming attractions in American politics. The reaction to the confluence of immigration and terrorism on the continent foreshadowed the direction the Republican Party would take under Donald Trump. The surprise victory of “Leave” in the Brexit referendum hinted at Trump’s unexpected elevation to the presidency. The terrible images from coronavirus-stricken Italy last March offered a glimpse into New York City’s future. This week, when Italian authorities reimposed curfews, restrictions on business, and bans on communal gatherings, violent protests broke out in Turin, Milan, and Naples. Consider it a taste of the next populist revolt.

Lockdowns remain the preferred tool of governments whose public health authorities decide the coronavirus is out of control. In September, Israel shut down for a month during the Jewish holidays to reduce its coronavirus infection rate. In October, New York City targeted certain neighborhoods. In recent days, Newark ordered “nonessential” businesses to close at 8 p.m., a county judge imposed a curfew on El Paso, and Massachusetts has gone back-and-forth on whether schools should be open or closed.

This response has placed the public under extraordinary strain. When officials tell businesses to close, they not only deny individuals who can’t work from home the opportunity to earn a living. They also impose social costs that much of the public is increasingly unwilling to bear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation increased during the spring. Extended families limited contact. Religious practice was curtailed. Having canceled spring holidays, Americans are now informed that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas need to be reconsidered as well. When individuals inevitably question, disregard, or disobey the commands of science, they are censored, stigmatized, condescended to, or punished.

Nor is expert authority the only form of power at work. In spite of evidence that schools are not sites of widespread transmission and remote education harms children in incalculable ways, only 39 of the 50 largest school districts have reopened for at least some in-person instruction. In Fairfax County, Va., the teachers’ union has called for schools to remain closed at least until September 2021. Amidst the many Biden-Harris lawn signs are a few for #OpenFCPS, a parent-driven campaign to resume in-person instruction. The parents are circulating a petition to recall members of the school board who oppose bringing the students back.

Governments resort to shutdowns to impose discipline on an unruly population. But shutdowns do not solve the problem. They turn public health crises into economic and social ones. After a while, the price of shutdowns grows too high. The government reopens the economy. The virus returns. Before long, the cycle repeats.

There are plenty of ways to think about the politics of the Trump era. You can analyze the parties according to the traditional left-right axis. You can study public debate through the prism of liberal democracy versus authoritarianism. You can understand recent elections as pitting establishment insiders against populist outsiders. You can see the ideological contest as a three-way grudge match between common-good conservatives, neoliberals in both parties, and woke progressives. Coronavirus has spawned yet another interpretive framework. In this frame, politics is the struggle between the faction that wants to keep the economy and society relatively open during the pandemic and the faction that is ready and willing to shut them down.

Joe Biden has been able to straddle these two poles. He says you can have a (relatively) open society as well as a public health system that reduces infection to a negligible level. He says he will “shut down the virus, not the country.” What he hasn’t explained is how that can happen in the absence of a widely administered vaccine. Only Taiwan and South Korea contained outbreaks without nationwide lockdowns. It is hard to see the United States replicating their success. Taiwan benefited from its rapid response at the outset of the crisis. South Korean authorities rapidly approved tests while enjoying access to cell phone data. None of that happened here.

If Biden takes office during the “dark winter” he prophesied at the final presidential debate, he will have to decide, in addition to his national mask mandate, whether to put the country through another “30 days to slow the spread.” The bureaucratic pressure to shut down will be immense. The media, entertainment, and technology sectors will be sure to support and promote his decision. Polarization between “red” states and the nation’s capital will intensify. The commanding heights of culture and business will consign the Republican Party to the ash heap of history. And opposition to the restoration of progressive rule will manifest itself as a populist revolt whose character, magnitude, disposition, and endgame can only be imagined.

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Appeals Court Strikes Down Minnesota Dems’ Mail-In Scheme

A federal appeals court blocked Minnesota Democrats from extending the state’s mail-in ballot deadline past Election Day, handing state Republicans a major legal victory.

In a 2-1 ruling, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that mail-in ballots in Minnesota must be received by Nov. 3 in order to be counted. The court ruled that Minnesota secretary of state Steve Simon violated the Constitution when he attempted to extend “the deadline for receipt of ballots without legislative authorization.”

Minnesota Republicans filed the lawsuit in September to challenge Simon’s proposal, which would have allowed mail-in ballots to be counted until Nov. 10, a full week after Election Day, even if they lacked a postmark. State representative Eric Lucero (R.) and Republican elector James Carson said in their suit that the decree was unconstitutional and in violation of federal law. The suit accused Simon of abusing his authority and challenged the legality of counting ballots without any evidence the ballots were cast on or before Election Day.

The decision comes with just days to go before the election. It could bolster Republican campaigns in the battleground state. Polling indicates that President Trump is within range of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the state. While Biden enjoyed a lead in the high single-digits earlier this month, polls have narrowed between the two.

As the race has tightened, Republicans and Democrats have appealed to the courts to settle disputes over election laws. While Democrats have often sought to push back ballot deadlines and expand voting opportunities, Republicans have fought back against such decisions, warning of the potential for voter fraud.

Jason Snead, executive director of the Honest Elections Project, which supported the lawsuit, praised the court’s decision.

“Secretary Simon attempted to unilaterally rewrite state law. In doing so, he needlessly introduced confusion into the voting process,” Snead said in an email. “Tonight’s ruling by the court is a tremendous victory for voters, fair elections, and the rule of law in Minnesota.”

The Trump campaign and Republican members of the Minnesota state legislature also filed a separate motion on Thursday to require election officials to separate mail-in ballots received before Election Day from those received after Election Day and those received after the extended mail-in ballot deadline of November 10.

The appeals court acknowledged the potential for confusion.

“[We] conclude the challenges that will stem from this ruling are preferable to a post-election scenario where mail-in votes, received after the statutory deadline, are either intermingled with ballots received on time or invalidated without prior warning,” the court said in its decision. “Better to put those voters on notice now while they still have at least some time to adjust their plans and cast their votes in an unquestionably lawful way.”

Lawsuits concerning ballot deadlines have garnered mixed results in other swing states. The Supreme Court dealt a pair of blows to legal challenges in Pennsylvania and North Carolina where Republicans pushed for an end to extended grace periods for mail-in ballots, citing election integrity concerns. The Court declined to strike down Pennsylvania’s three-day period of accepting ballots after Election Day and did not shorten North Carolina’s period of accepting ballots from nine days to three days.

In Wisconsin, the Court sided with Republicans after rejecting a bid from Democrats to allow the counting of mail-in ballots received after Election Day.

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U.S. Pursues Strategic Partnership With Greenland and Denmark

National security adviser Robert O’Brien announced on Thursday a burgeoning strategic partnership with Greenland and Denmark, representing progress in the U.S. effort to gain a foothold in the increasingly contested Arctic region.

“Had an excellent virtual meeting with Premier Kielsen of Greenland and [foreign minister Jeppe Kofod] of Denmark,” O’Brien tweeted Thursday. “The United States is establishing a strategic partnership with Denmark. We are also expanding our partnership with Greenland through our consulate in Nuuk, including in trade, investment, education, and security.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), the architect of a proposal to purchase Greenland—an autonomous territory of Denmark—for the United States last year, applauded the efforts made by the Trump administration to tighten cooperation with the Arctic territory.

“I’m encouraged by reports of our talks with Danish and Greenlandic officials,” Cotton told the Washington Free Beacon. “The threat of Chinese infiltration in the Arctic is real, and closer ties between Washington and Nuuk are essential.”

The new agreements come during a time of increased threats in the Arctic region. Russia has unleashed a new nuclear-powered icebreaker vessel that gives Moscow greater access to the region, taking advantage of the United States’ major gap in navigational capabilities in the Arctic. China, meanwhile, has declared itself a “near-Arctic state,” signaling its ambitions to increase its influence in the region. 

Rich in energy resources, the Arctic is a region of critical strategic importance. Given its latitude, the Arctic is also a prime location for communications- and space-related technology. As China and Russia emerge as serious geopolitical rivals in space, Space Force chief of operations John Raymond has noted that the Space Force will move to make a footprint in the Arctic.

Greenland made headlines last year when Cotton penned an op-ed in the New York Times making the case that Washington should buy the territory. Cotton reportedly also broached the issue with President Donald Trump several times.

“The acquisition of Greenland would secure vital strategic interests for the United States, economically benefit both us and Greenlanders, and would be in keeping with American—and Danish—diplomatic traditions,” Cotton wrote in August 2019. “Our nation has much to gain, as do the Danes and Greenlanders.”

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Jeremy Corbyn, Official Jew Hater

Jeremy Corbyn

We now have it in writing: Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite.

An investigation by the United Kingdom’s Equality and Human Rights Commission released Thursday found that the British Labour Party, under the leadership of Corbyn, broke the law in its systematic discrimination against Jews.

Created by a 2006 law intended to protect citizens of the United Kingdom from all forms of discrimination, the commission concluded that Corbyn’s high command interfered to suppress complaints about anti-Semitism inside the party and conspired to exonerate members fairly accused of anti-Semitic conduct.

The report lays responsibility squarely at Corbyn’s feet, citing “serious failings in leadership” that created “a culture within the party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it.”

Those findings are unsurprising, given the explosion of Jew hatred on the British left following Corbyn’s takeover in the fall of 2015. As a backbencher in Parliament, Corbyn referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends,” invited the radical Islamic cleric and Hamas funder Raed Saleh—now behind bars for inciting terrorism—to Parliament, and laid a wreath at the grave of Palestinian terrorists who massacred Israelis at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

None of this stopped prominent American left-wingers from championing a man whose indulgence of hatred was obvious to Jews long before it was deemed a violation of law. These same figures never hesitate to blather about their own “lived experience,” or to lecture that society must defer to the perceived oppression of any marginalized or minority group—any, that is, except for the Jews, who are not allowed to decide for themselves what constitutes overt and obvious anti-Semitism.

Take Squad darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), who boycotted an event honoring the martyred Yitzhak Rabin but slobbered over Corbyn (“an honor to share such a lovely and wide-reaching conversation”) on Twitter; Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), who lauded Corbyn’s political achievements as a victory over “inequality;” Congressman Ro Khanna (Calif.), who praised Corbyn’s “bold vision” and “positive populism”; and, of course, the political godfather of these lawmakers, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), whom Corbyn has described as his political inspiration.

Part of their mission is making Western politics a safe space for anti-Semitism. Sanders has led by example, through vicious and dishonest attacks on Israel, apologetics for Hamas and Iran, and alliances with prominent anti-Semites such as Linda Sarsour, who served as a campaign surrogate, and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), whose endorsements he celebrated. Sanders waves away criticism by citing his own Jewish heritage—one that he invokes only as a get-out-of-jail-free card when people question his promotion of bigots.

Corbyn reacted to the report by digging in his heels, reiterating his claim that Labour’s anti-Semitism problem is exaggerated, forcing the party’s new leader Keir Starmer to suspend him. After all, the report made clear that illegitimate smears characterizing the discrimination as a minor problem were part of the lawbreaking discrimination that unfolded.

Many of the anti-Semites Corbyn attracted to the party remain members. Presumably the Squad members and their allies will continue to court them, and the special relationship between the American and British left will continue, united in its anti-Semitic bigotry.

From his American supporters, there has been silence and even modest support. The Democratic Socialists of America reacted to news of Corbyn’s suspension this way: “Solidarity with @JeremyCorbyn. Thank you for always being a champion for the international working class.”

That only serves to underscore the fact that on the left, anti-Semitism remains the last acceptable bigotry, and that Corbyn’s will be quickly swept under the rug.

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Dem Superlawyer’s Assistant Engaged in Possible Voter Intimidation

A woman working with top Democratic lawyer Marc Elias engaged in voter intimidation in Pennsylvania, Republican congressional candidate Sean Parnell’s campaign has alleged.

Emily Resko, an intern for Parnell’s opponent Rep. Conor Lamb (D., Pa.), posted pictures of voter rolls on Snapchat with the caption “im about to see how alllllll you fuckers vote,” according to images obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

After tens of thousands of voters received the wrong ballots, Parnell asked courts to mandate poll watchers at satellite voting locations in the district. Resko said the Lamb campaign picked her to assist Elias, a leading Democratic campaign lawyer, in opposing Parnell’s request.

In reaction to the news, Resko wrote on Snapchat: “[S]o how about because of my internship, me and this other boy were picked tonight to LITERALLY BE ASSISTANTS UNDER THE LAWYER ON THIS POTENTIAL CASE. I’M SO FUCKING EXCITED fuck parnell and his voter supression.” That message contained screenshots of tweets from Lamb and Elias. “[I] literally get to gather data for this case this is amazing im excited ok bye sorry.”

Resko also said she had access to voter files, which “give me full access to the voting history of ALL residents in the 17th congressional district.” Later, she sent a message containing a partial spreadsheet in which she wrote that she was “about to see how alllllll you fuckers vote.”

“I recently received from a constituent in PA-17 credible evidence of voter intimidation,” Parnell wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “I consulted with law enforcement and determined that the best course of action was to turn the evidence over to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.”

The U.S. attorney’s office did not respond to inquiries by press time.

Elias, a partner at Perkins Coie law firm’s Washington, D.C., office, is considered Democrats’ go-to lawyer. He is actively involved in a number of election-related lawsuits across the country.

Lamb is locked in a tight race with Parnell in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional district, which includes Pittsburgh suburbs. The race is considered one of the most competitive in the country.

Elias, Resko, and the Lamb campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

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Harley Rouda’s Companies Racked Up Hundreds of Thousands in Tax Liens

Businesses connected to California Democratic representative Harley Rouda were subject to nearly $230,000 in local, state, and federal tax liens, documents reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show.

Rouda spent decades as a real estate executive prior to his successful congressional bid in 2018. The Democrat owned stakes in a multitude of companies in the industry through his investment firm, Trident Holdings, which he registered in 2001 under the name Real Living, Inc. In November 2011, the company received a Franklin County, Ohio, lien notice showing more than $117,000 in unpaid taxes from 2009 to 2011. Rouda served as the company’s “Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner” at the time, according to a 2009 Securities and Exchange Commission filing.


Rouda’s firm was also subject to a roughly $52,000 federal tax lien between the 2012 and 2015 tax years. The Democrat remained the company’s CEO at the time, having served in the role “since February 2002,” according to a since-deleted 2018 Bloomberg executive profileState filings show that Rouda was not removed as the firm’s registered agent until August 2020—in total, businesses connected to Rouda faced 33 liens totaling $228,835.34 from 2003 to 2020.

Rouda’s business record has been subject to criticism in the Democrat’s tight reelection bid against Republican Orange County supervisor Michelle Steel. A former staff member at one of Rouda’s companies—HER Realtors—told the Free Beacon that Rouda cut health care benefits in 2013. In addition, a 2019 internal memo obtained by the Free Beacon notes that the company “won’t offer health care coverage.” Rouda has since called health care “a right for every American” in his 2020 campaign.

The Democrat also terminated 401(k) benefits for Trident Holdings employees in 2015, documents obtained by the Free Beacon show. The move impacted “substantially all employees.” Roughly four years later as a member of Congress, the Democrat said that Americans who have “worked hard [their entire life] … deserve the opportunity to retire in peace” through employer-provided benefits and called retirement “a crucial part of the American dream.”

Rouda responded to criticism over the liens in October by noting that he has paid his individual taxes. His campaign recently released a letter from the Democrat’s accounting firm stating that Rouda “has no, and has had no, unpaid individual tax liens.” Rouda’s campaign, however, did not return a request for comment on the liens filed against his businesses.

Rouda also faced questions over his business dealings in his 2018 campaign against veteran GOP congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Real Living Real Estate—which Rouda cofounded in 2002—was forced to pay $1.85 million in 2008 to a 57-year-old cancer patient who sued the company for wrongful termination. The Democrat claimed he was not involved in firing the cancer victim, who he said was let go “as part of an overall downsizing effort” due to economic downturn.

Rouda went on to defeat Rohrabacher by 7 points, making him the first Democrat to flip California’s 48th Congressional District since its creation in 1993. He will now face Steel in November after receiving 43 percent of the vote in the state’s March primary. Rouda has lagged behind the Republican in fundraising as of late, receiving roughly $1.4 million in the third quarter to Steel’s $1.75 million. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race, “lean Democratic.”

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Leading Gunmaker Boosts Production, Still Can’t Meet Surging Demand

One of the nation’s largest gunmakers has massively ramped up production—and still can’t meet unprecedented demand.

Sturm, Ruger & Company said it increased production 50 percent over last year, including a 15 percent surge in the second and third quarter of 2020 alone, according to an earnings report released Wednesday.

Even with increased production, Ruger’s gun inventory remains “near historic lows” due to record demand, said CEO Christopher Killoy.

“Consumer demand showed no signs of letting up during the quarter,” he said, because of “concerns about personal protection and home defense” caused by “civil unrest,” activists’ calls to defund the police, and “the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Killoy said the company began hiring at a “modest, albeit growing, rate” in June after shutting down all new hiring in March because of coronavirus concerns.

Even with the increased production and new hires, the company believes limited supply restrained its record-level sales over the last few months. The company expects demand to continue surging through the rest of the year.

The demand has already led to massive revenue increases for the company. It reported a nearly $100 million jump in sales over the first nine months of 2020 as compared to 2019. That jump added up to $399.6 million in sales over that time, nearly tripling the company’s earnings per share.

Ruger is one of only two publicly traded American gun companies. Its public reports to investors provide some of the best insight into how gun companies are handling the record demand for guns and coronavirus precautions. The other publicly traded company, Smith & Wesson, has seen similar sales and production spikes over the past several months.

Industry experts expect demand for guns to rise again this fall because of both the holiday season and the presidential election, in which Democratic candidate Joe Biden has pushed for strict new gun-control measures.

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Democrats Look to Slash Defense Budget in 2021

The far-left wing of the Democratic Party hopes to slash the U.S. defense budget in the event of a Democratic sweep on Election Day, Politico reported Wednesday.

The party’s progressives reportedly want to cut the defense budget to compensate for an increase in domestic spending on issues like the environment and health care. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Mark Pocan (D., Wis.) said Democrats should take a “critical look” at the defense budget. “It’s a real unique opportunity to be able to both support funding for things that we think more directly support people in the country,” said Pocan. “At the same time, we can have a critical look at defense spending, which rarely gets any kind of critical look whatsoever.”

Pocan’s comments come amid an emerging fight between centrist Democrats and the party’s left-wing lawmakers. Last week, Rep. Adam Smith (D., Wash.), a center-left Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said he expects a “big fight coming” between the two groups over the nature and size of the defense budget.

Far-left Democratic candidates who have made explicit calls to “defund the Pentagon” could join the fight as soon as next year. If you’re having a bad day, just think of all the social services we’re going to fund after we defund the Pentagon,” Missouri Democrat Cori Bush tweeted last week.

Some defense planners believe a robust defense budget is more important now than ever before. As the looming great power competition with China emerges as a central priority of American foreign policy, the Pentagon has made new demands for both high-tech and conventional weaponry. Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called for the creation of a 500-ship navy by 2045 in an effort to outpace China and retain maritime supremacy. The effort would require significant funding, especially as the Navy already occupies the largest portion of the defense budget, netting 34 percent of overall defense spending. 

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