"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president." Author Unknown
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The Greeks Invented Mathematics, and Now It’s Bankrupting Them
The inherent instability of the inverted human pyramid. And what is coming to America soon!
By Kevin D. Williamson
July 2, 2015
In the short term, the world runs on words; in the long term, the world runs on numbers.
It is as though the Muses came to an agreement: In the here and now, mankind is subject to rhetoric, but mathematics gets the final say. In Athens, in San Juan, in Detroit, in Sacramento, in Springfield, and, soon enough, in Washington, Mathematics is arousing herself from her torpor, and she is cranky as hell.
The long term is here.
Greece has defaulted on its sovereign debt, and its banks have been shut down. Television viewers accustomed to watching a few odd ducks cheerfully prepare for Armageddon on Doomsday Preppers are now seeing a disorganized version of the same thing as panicky Greeks storm empty ATMs and attempt to stockpile food and fuel. Puerto Rico has announced that it cannot pay its debts. A half-dozen Illinois cities and the Chicago public-school system have spent 2015 teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, with the state legislature considering a new bankruptcy law to handle what is expected to be a deluge of insolvency.
The words and the numbers have long told very different stories. Let’s stay, for the moment, with the case of Greece.
In the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, Greek leaders lied to bond investors and the bosses at the European Union, claiming that they were complying with EU restrictions on the size of government deficits and national debt. In reality, the Greeks had been scheming with their bankers — notably Goldman Sachs — to keep excess debt off the books. Financial crisis or not, that book-cooking was always going to be revealed: Greece maintained an excessively liberal pension system (Greeks could retire after 35 years of work at 80 percent of their working income; for Germans, it’s 45 years and 46 percent); it is publicly and privately corrupt, with jobs in its bloated public sector being handed out as political patronage and tax evasion running rampant; workforce participation is low, and private-sector workforce participation — i.e., engaging in genuine economic production — is very low.
The Greek economy takes the form of an inverted human pyramid, which is inherently unstable.
When Greece’s sham economy went ass over teakettle, it agreed to a bailout package, finalized in 2010. That deal is now widely blamed by the Left for exacerbating Greece’s economic crisis with excessive “austerity.” The problem with that line of argument is that there was no Greek austerity: Greece lied about its debts before the crisis, and it lied about its reforms after the bailout. It didn’t take the meat axe to its public sector: Greece went out and hired 70,000 new government employees instead. It stopped selling government assets, which it had agreed to do, and government’s share of GDP actually increased rather than declining.
The socialist Syriza government of Alexis Tsipras is now trying to cut another deal, one with familiar features: maintaining the pensions that Athens politicians use to bribe the Greeks with their own money (and, now, with German taxpayers’ money, too) and forestalling real tax reform. Syriza ran against pension cuts and public-sector layoffs — it is a party that claims to be of the radical Left but is in fact the party of keeping things more or less like they are: corrupt and contented. Consumption can exceed production only as long as your credit lasts, and credit — n.b., congressional clown conclave — is never eternal.
As one Greek supporter of Tsipras’s wheedling told the New York Times: “We’re all pensioners here.”
Indeed, and that’s the problem.
A society’s wealth may be measured by its consumption, but its wealth consists of its production. One cannot consume what has not been produced, and consumption can exceed production only as long as your credit lasts, and credit — n.b., congressional clown conclave — is never eternal. Greece has too few people working in productive business enterprises and too many receiving government checks, either as employees or as welfare recipients — a distinction that is increasingly difficult to make in Greece and elsewhere.
One of those elsewheres is Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico tried reform under Governor Luis Fortuño, who for his labors was shown the door by the same public-sector unions and welfare pimps who run California and Illinois, who bear more than a passing resemblance to their Greek cousins. As in Greece, political patronage and an over-generous welfare state have led to low levels of productive private-sector employment, with the Keynesian stimulators offering so much stimulus that the tiny commonwealth now has a per capita public debt exceeding $20,000. The island’s most skilled and enterprising residents have fled its economic and social stagnation for the mainland United States. Alejandro García Padilla ran on increasing the public-sector payroll and opposing pension reform.
That’s what the words said. The math had other ideas, and now the words are catching up: “The debt is not payable,” Governor García Padilla has proclaimed. This has been obvious for some time, as National Review readers know. That $20,000-per-person public debt is indeed a heavy burden. Our national debt comes out to $56,000 per person. Puerto Ricans have the United States as a Plan B.
What is our Plan B?
With apologies to W. B. Yeats, it is not the case that things fall apart. Rather, things turn out more or less as calculated. It isn’t that the center cannot hold — it’s that balance sheets ultimately must equal zero. Debts either will be paid or they will be defaulted on — there isn’t a third option, and the belief that Greece or San Bernardino can spend its way out of a profligacy problem is pure magical thinking. When confronted with questions about the sustainability of his model, John Maynard Keynes famously dismissed his critics: “In the long run, we are all dead.” Not so, professor, not so.
In the long run, the math trumps the rhetoric.
Simple Solutions to the Worst Problems in ObamaCare
John C. Goodman
7/4/2015 12:01:00 AM - John C. Goodman
Now that the Supreme Court has declined to gut President Obama’s health reform, it’s time for Republicans in Congress to re-think how they have been responding to the law. They should begin by asking three questions:
1. What are the worst features of ObamaCare?
2. How are these features harming ordinary American families?
3. How can we get rid of them?
As I explain in a new book, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America and in a recent article in Health Affairs, there are major problems that aren’t going away unless Congress acts. Here are two of them.
An impossible mandate. The slowdown in the rate of increase in health care spending over the past decade is welcome news, but no one is predicting that health care spending will not exceed the growth of income in future years. In fact, for the past 40 years real, per capita health care spending has been growing at twice the rate of growth of real, per capita income. That's not only true in this country; it is about the average for the whole developed world.
You don't need to be an accountant or a mathematician to know that if something you are buying is growing faster than your income, it will crowd out everything else you are consuming. Health care spending will take more and more of the family budget; it will take an ever larger share of workers' gross pay. The Affordable Care Act did not create this problem. But it limits our ability to manage it by restricting our ability to choose a smaller package of benefits, more cost sharing, etc. In short, the health reform law is trying to force us to remain on an unsustainable path.
Further, there are three "global budgets" in the ACA and (ironically) they are likely to make matters worse for ordinary citizens. The law restricts the growth of total Medicare spending, the growth of Medicaid hospital spending, and (after 2018) the growth of federal tax subsidies in the health insurance exchanges to no more than the rate of growth of real GDP per capita plus about ½ of a percent. This means that as health care costs become more and more of a burden for the average family, they will get less and less help from the government through time.
The traditional idea of a global budget is to restrict overall spending. The global budgets in the ACA only restrict the government's outlays.
An obvious solution is to jettison the whole idea of a defined health insurance benefit that people are required to buy. Instead, make a defined (tax subsidy) contribution to each family. Then let competition determine what benefits the market can provide.
A bizarre system of subsidies. A family of four at 138% of poverty is able to enroll in Medicaid in about half the states and obtain insurance worth about $8,000. Since the coverage is completely free, that's an $8,000 gift. If they earn one dollar more, they will be entitled to go into a health insurance exchange and obtain a private plan that costs, say, 50% more in return for an out-of-pocket premium of about $900. That's a gift of more than $11,000. At the same time, the employees of a hotel earning pretty much the same wage will be forced to have an expensive family plan and they and their employer will get no new help from the government. After calculating the value of employers' ability to pay premiums with pre-tax dollars, let's call that a newly created $10,000 burden. This is only one of scores of ways in which ACA's treatment of people is arbitrary and unfair.
But the biggest problem is not unfairness. It is the impact these differential subsidies will have on our economy. As businesses discover that almost everyone who earns less than the average wage gets a better deal from the federal government in the exchange or from Medicaid and most people who earn more than the average wage get better deal if insurance is provided at work, they will change their employee benefits radically and maybe even restructure the organization of entire firms.
The incentives for small businesses to stay small and for employers to prefer part-time workers, contract labor and outsourcing to full-time employees are all very real. And there are many other perverse incentives as well. All these perversions have a common source: treating people at the same income level very differently depending on where they get their insurance, how many hours they work, how many other employees they work with, etc.
Again, there is a straightforward solution: make the tax subsidy for health insurance the same regardless of where people get their health insurance. It would be even better if we let people use their tax credit to buy into Medicaid and let people on Medicaid leave and claim the tax credit to buy private insurance instead. At a minimum, this would liberate the job market from the arbitrary burdens of health reform.
Israel’s Populist Energy Crisis
7/3/2015 12:38:00 PM - Caroline Glick
Direct foreign investment in Israel is in free fall. According to a report published last month by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, (UNCTAD), foreign direct investment in Israel in 2014 was 46 percent below levels in 2013, dropping from $11.8 billion to $6.4bn. During the same period worldwide direct foreign investment dropped a mere 16%, meaning the drop in investment in Israel was nearly three times the global average.
Some responded to the report by blaming Operation Protective Edge or the boycott Israel movement for the sudden downturn. And there is probably something, although not much, to that view.
Israel tends to bounce back relatively quickly after wars end. Since 2006, the impact of wars on Israel’s economic growth has been marginal.
As for boycotts, it is hard to enact them. Only 5% of Israeli exports are finished consumer products capable of attracting the ire of Jew-haters. The other 95% are business to business sales with Israeli exports incorporated into products assembled in other countries, and so largely immune to boycotts.
The real cause of the plummet in investments is elsewhere. And to understand it we need to understand recent developments in the natural gas industry.
For nearly 60 years – from 1952 through 2011 – the regulatory situation in the Israeli energy sector was stable. By law, the state was to receive 12.5% of royalties on the sale of energy supplies developed by holders of development licenses, in addition to normal rate corporate taxes.
The regulatory situation was well suited to a market where costs of exploration and development are high and the chance of profits is low.
Opportunity costs also played a role in determining the investor-friendly license conditions. Due to the Arab economic boycott, companies that sign energy contracts with the Jewish state risk being denied energy contracts with the Arab states. And whereas the probability is low that an investor in Israel’s energy market will turn a profit, the probability of profits in Arab energy markets is high.
When, at the end of 2006, the US firm Noble Energy entered the exploration concession for the Leviathan basin gas deposits, which among other things includes the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields, chances of finding gas were not considered high. Noble entered the market after British Gas abandoned its rights to the fields because they were not deemed profitable.
Without Noble, or another firm with comparable capabilities and experience, Israel wouldn’t have been able to develop or operate the fields. Delek Energy and the other Israeli partners lacked the capacity to carry out the complex operations required. To develop the Tamar gas field, a well was built across 500 meters of water at a depth of 5,000 meters. The drilling was carried out at exceedingly high pressures and beneath a thick layer of salt.
The drilling operation at Tamar cost Noble and its Israeli partners $140 million. To transport the gas to Israel required an additional investment of $4b.
When Noble began its drilling operation at the end of 2008, it estimated its chances of success at 35%. Tamer wasn’t expected to be particularly large. But by early 2010, it was clear that Noble, Delek and their smaller partners had hit the jackpot. Tamar with its 9 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) (254.85 billion cubic meters) of natural gas was the largest find worldwide in 2009.
In 2011, Delek and Noble’s luck continued when the initial drilling at the Leviathan gas field exposed an estimated 21 Tcf of gas. The Leviathan find was the largest of the decade. Together, the two fields not only have sufficient gas to make Israel energy independent for decades. There is enough gas in the two fields to transform Israel into a significant player in the global energy market.
Rather than celebrate the miraculous find, and then sit back and wait for the tax revenues and royalties to start flowing in, adding unanticipated billions to the Israeli economy, and additional investors to flock to its shores begging for development licenses, whatever the cost, Israel’s populists pounced on Delek and Noble’s extraordinary find like a street gang and proceeded to mug them.
Here it is necessary to note that aside from sell licenses, the government did nothing to develop the gas fields. It incurred no economic risks. Yet from the tenor of the debate begun in 2010, you might have thought that the clerks at the Finance Ministry and the opposition MKs in the Knesset had swam to the bottom of the sea and carried out the gas by hand.
A rent-a-mob composed of socialist politicians and activists, regulators and bureaucrats, all upset that free market forces enriched investors without their permission, demanded a confiscatory cut in the profits from the energy resource Israel now enjoys only because private companies invested hundreds of millions of dollars to extract it from the bottom of the sea.
Rather than stand by the investors and stare down the populist bullies, then-finance minister Yuval Steinitz joined the mob and appointed the Sheshinski Committee. The committee was tasked with recommending ways to breach the government’s contracts with the energy companies in order confiscate a far larger share of their future profits.
The Sheshinski Committee, and the 2011 law regarding windfall energy profits promulgated on the basis of its recommendations, taxed energy profits at a rate of between 52% and 62% rather than the 27% corporate rate. The increased taxes were applied retroactively to Noble, Delek and the rest of the license holders.
Noble CEO Charles Davidson reacted angrily to the changed regulatory environment, telling The Wall Street Journal, “A retroactive change would be egregious and would quickly move Israel to the lowest tier of countries for investment by the energy sector.”
Israel was about to see just how right he was.
Ever since the European Union began threatening economic boycotts against Israel, the government has rightly urged exporters to diversify their markets in order to lower Israel’s exposure to Europe. In the gas industry, diversifying markets means exporting gas to Asian markets. To open Israeli gas to Asian markets, Noble and Delek began negotiating the sale of 25% stake in the Leviathan gas field to Australia’s Woodside Petroleum. Woodside has the technical and marketing capacity to sell Israeli gas in Asia.
In May 2014, Woodside was poised to sign the deal with Noble and Delek and enter Leviathan with a $2.7b. investment. But at the last minute, Woodside walked away from the deal. It said it would be willing to reconsider its decision if Israel enacts “material changes” in the investment environment.
Despite the draconian retroactive taxes, Delek and Noble soldiered on. They signed a new contract with the government, in accordance with the new law, despite the high taxes and the fact that the law required them to sell their rights to the smaller Tanin and Karish fields.
But that wasn’t enough for the populists. Last December David Gilo, the head of the Anti-trust Authority in the Finance Ministry, proclaimed that the deal was illegal because Delek and Noble are a “terrible monopoly” with near complete control over Israel’s gas industry. Gilo determined that they have to end their partnership, and sell of their shares in either Tamar or Leviathan.
In response, Noble announced it was suspending its development of the Leviathan field. Whereas in 2014, Leviathan was expected to come online by 2017, now it won’t be under production until 2020 at the earliest.
When the new government entered office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who supported the 2011 windfall profits law – decided to sidestep Gilo and approve the deal the previous government signed with Delek and Noble. Everything seemed to fall into place last week when the security cabinet approved the deal. But then Economy Minister Arye Deri decided to spike the football and refused to sign the requisite order to implement the cabinet’s decision.
This week we were subjected to yet another populist assault on Noble and Delek. Now the rent-a-mob demands that the government abide by Gilo’s ruling, using his buzzword “terrible monopoly” at every opportunity.
But as with most populist economic protests, there is no basis for their claim. The notion that Delek and Noble’s partnership in gas development is a monopoly is utter nonsense. They are licensees. They purchased their licenses lawfully, and abided by their terms. They even agreed to pay more when the state scandalously passed a law and applied its draconian regulations retroactively.
Moreover, Delek and Noble cannot dictate prices for their gas. Israel isn’t required to buy gas from them. The only reason Delek and Noble became Israel’s only suppliers is that Israel decided to buy all of its gas from them after Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government canceled the gas deal Israel signed with its predecessor.
If the government thinks that Delek and Noble are charging too much for their gas, Israel is free to look elsewhere.
From the perspective of the future growth of Israeli energy markets, perhaps the worst aspect of the state’s decision to abuse the investors is the timing. The government went after the investors before they had the chance to bring the Leviathan field on line. In the current regulatory chaos, the gas may well stay in the sea forever.
What serious energy company would agree to invest here now? The entire world energy sector now knows that you can’t trust the Israelis. Any exploration project in Israel is a double gamble. First you roll the dice when you begin developing a field that will in all likelihood be dry. Then, if you happen to get lucky, you have every reason to expect that the state will invent a way to seize your future profits.
This brings us back to the UNCTAD report from last week. Israel’s populist – and corrupt – treatment of Delek and Noble is a massive warning sign to investors. Not only shouldn’t you rush to Israel, you should stay away from Israel.
If we are to correct the damage – to our energy market specifically and to the Israeli economy overall – there is only one path to take. The Knesset must abrogate the 2011 windfall profits law and end all attempts to define the Delek-Noble partnership as a monopoly while seeking new, creative ways to seize their profits.
Then, the Knesset must pass a law that will protect investors from attempts to retroactively change the terms of operating licenses they receive from the State of Israel.
Israel has enough problems with the anti-Semitic boycott movement that is growing by leaps and bounds. We need to curb our populist tendencies and stop making those who want to invest in Israel feel that they are fools to do so.
Why Two? The Question Gay Activists Can't Answer
7/4/2015 12:01:00 AM - Michael Brown
If marriage is not the union of a man and a woman, then why should it be limited to two people (or, for that matter, require two people)? Why can’t it be one or three or five? What makes the number “two” so special if it doesn’t refer to the union of a male and a female?
I have asked this question for years in various settings, from a campus debate with a professor to social media and from my radio show to writing, and I have not yet received a single cogent answer, since no cogent answer exists.
If “love is love” and “marriage equality” is the mantra, then why can’t any combination of loving adults form a “marriage”?
How could anyone in support of same-sex “marriage” object to the goals of the Marriage Equality Blogspot, which calls for “Full Marriage Equality,” specifically, “for the right of consenting adults to share and enjoy love, sex, residence, and marriage without limits on the gender, number, or relation of participants”?
If you say, “But marriage has always been the union of two people,” that is patently false, since polygamy has existed for millennia (and still exists in scores of countries) and, more importantly, throughout history, whatever number of people were involved, the fundamental requirement was not two people but a man and a woman.
If you say, “But polygamy is harmful to women and society,” that is irrelevant, since if the people want to enter into marriage love each other (remember, love is love, right?), they should be allowed to.
Plus, polygamists have the ability to reproduce naturally and then join the children to their mother and father, which homosexual unions cannot do. And, speaking of harm, gay relationships are, statistically speaking, less stable than heterosexual relationships, while specific acts of homosexual sex, especially among males, have increased health risks.
Do gay activists really want to press the “harm” angle when it comes to polygamy?
As I wrote back in 2011, “it’s a very short leap from polyamory to polygamy, and just as TV shows like Will and Grace helped pave the way for a more gay-affirming society, shows like Big Love and Sister Wives are helping to pave the way for a more polygamy-affirming society.
“Not surprisingly, in Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal throughout the country, Monique Pongracic-Speier, an advocate with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, has argued on behalf of polygamists that, ‘Consenting adults have the right—the Charter protected right—to form the families that they want to form.’ If homosexuals can, why can’t polygamists?
“The logic really is quite strong: If someone has the ‘right to marry the person they love,’ as gay activists incessantly tell us, why shouldn’t people have the right to marry multiple loving partners?”
That’s why it’s no surprise that the same day that the Supreme Court ruled to redefine marriage, Politico ran a story titled, “It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy: Why group marriage is the next horizon of social liberalism.”
And that’s why it’s no surprise that, within a week of the Supreme Court decision, the internet was buzzing with reports that, “A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.”
As Nathan Collier, the man in question remarked, “It's about marriage equality. You can't have this without polygamy.”
Ironically, gay “marriage” advocates like Jonathan Rauch fail to see the irony of their position when they argue that “Polygamy Isn’t the Next Gay Marriage,” since their redefinition of marriage is far more radical than that of the polygamists.
A man and a woman are physically and biologically designed for each other, carrying within themselves the unique components of sperm and egg (the fact remains that there’s no such thing as a baby without a male and female involved), and so the two must come together as one to form a marriage.
The man and woman also share a unique complementarity emotionally and spiritually – have you ever heard the saying that “Men are from Mars and women from Venus”? – which is why the union of a man and woman is special, distinctive, and even sacred. And that’s why the union of man and a woman has been recognized as “marriage” throughout the ages.
As cultural analyst Robert Knight remarked, “The term ‘marriage’ refers specifically to the joining of two people of the opposite sex. When that is lost, ‘marriage’ becomes meaningless. You can no more leave an entire sex out of marriage and call it ‘marriage’ than you can leave chocolate out of a ‘chocolate brownie’ recipe. It becomes something else.”
And when it becomes “something else” it can become virtually “anything else,” which is why polyamorists (along with polygamists) are also clamoring for their relationships to be legally recognized. As US News and World Report noted just three days after the Supreme Court ruling, “Polyamorous Rights Advocates See Marriage Equality Coming for Them.”
That’s why Eric Abetz, a senior government minister in Australia, recently warned, “if you undo the definition you then open up a Pandora’s box and if you say that it is no longer an institution between one man and one woman you then do open up a Pandora’s box.”
To repeat, if your mantras are “Love is love” and “I have the right to marry the one I love,” and if you really advocate “marriage equality,” then why can’t any number and combination of consenting adults join together in “marriage”?
If you say, “But that’s not marriage,” you have just shot yourself in the foot, since marriage has never been the union of any two people but rather the union of a man and a woman.
And so, just as surely as a male plug and a female plug are required to make a connection in the world of electronics, a male and female are required to have a proper marriage. Otherwise, it is not marriage, no matter what any panel of judges rules.
That’s why the fourth principle in my book Outlasting the Gay Revolution is “Refuse to Redefine Marriage,” since once you redefine it, you render it meaningless.
So, once again, I ask the question to advocates of “marriage equality”: Why two? If marriage is not the union of a man and a woman, then why should it be limited to two people (or, for that matter, require two people)?
I’m not holding my breath.
Seattle Schools to 6th Graders: No Soda For You, But Here's An IUD
7/3/2015 4:06:00 PM - Leah Barkoukis
From mandates about what food children can eat to draconian attendance policies, it’s becoming increasingly clear that parental rights do not exist when you send your child to public school, as The Blaze’s Matt Walsh has argued before.
But in Seattle, it’s even worse. In at least 13 public schools in the area, where kids are banned from even having soda or candy, middle and high school-aged girls can get a taxpayer-funded IUD without their parents’ consent.
[Long-acting reversible contraceptives] are associated with serious side effects, such as uterine perforation and infection. IUDs, specifically, can also act as abortifacients by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.
The state and federally funded contraceptive services are made possible by Take Charge, a Washington State Medicaid program which provides free birth control to adults who are uninsured, lack contraceptive coverage, have an income at or below 260 percent of the Federal Poverty Level -- or, in this case, to teens who don’t want their parents to know they’re on birth control.
In an email exchange with the Washington State Health Care Authority and CNSNews.com, a Take Charge spokesperson acknowledged that underage students are eligible for a “full array of covered family planning services” at school-based clinics if their parents meet the program’s requirements.
Take Charge added that “a student who does not want their parents to know they are seeking reproductive health services is allowed to apply forTake Charge using their own income, and if they are insured under their parents’ plan, the insurance would not be billed.”
When asked if a sixth grader could get an IUD implanted without parental consent,Take Charge told CNSNews.com: “We encourage allTake Charge providers to offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in their clinics. A young person does not need parental consent to obtain a LARC or any other contraceptive method...If the young person is not choosing abstinence, she would be able to select a LARC and have it inserted without parental consent.”
Just so we’re clear: Chocolate and sugar? Way too unhealthy. Sex and contraceptives? Totally fine. And since Washington’s law states that “every individual has the fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions,” there’s nothing parents can do about it.
Homeschooling is looking better and better, isn’t it?
Vigilance Is Patriotic
7/3/2015 12:01:00 AM - Michelle Malkin
My fellow Americans: If you see something, say something -- even if it means CAIR will threaten to sue you.
Multiple federal agencies and the Department of Defense are on high alert for a possible Islamic terrorist attack on U.S. soil this Independence Day weekend. They've increased security at military bases and sent bulletins to law enforcement officials across the country.
The heightened stance comes in the wake of a bloodthirsty ISIS call to arms for Ramadan; multiple jihad outbreaks in Kuwait, France and Tunisia; and the arrest of at least 30 terror plotters in our country radicalized by ISIS over the past year.
"Those who seek to harm this nation and our friends take no holiday," Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned at a Pentagon press briefing Wednesday with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.
"We continue to encourage all Americans to attend public events and celebrate this country during this summer season, but always remain vigilant," DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson implored.
"We all have to be vigilant," former NYPD Detective Sgt. Wally Zeins urged.
"Remain vigilant," House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul cautioned.
Unfortunately, too much of the nation remains in permanent post-9/11 snooze-button mode. Compounding this collective apathy is political correctness run amok. It's the ever-present handmaiden of terrorism: reluctance to risk offending, unwillingness to stick out one's neck, and feckless aversion of the eyes in the face of existential threats.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which was designated by the Justice Department as an unindicted terror co-conspirator in 2007 in the federal prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation and others for providing support to Hamas, has gleefully exploited this cultural weakness -- filing intimidation and obstructionist lawsuits left and right against those who have dared to look out and speak up.
CAIR subjected a private citizen, Zaba Davis, to harassing and invasive subpoenas over her opposition to a planned construction project by the Muslim Community Association and Michigan Islamic Academy. A federal judge called CAIR's anti-free speech witch-hunt "chilling." The group has refused to pay sanctions ordered by the court.
In Cleveland, the organization has targeted a police officer for his personal views about sharia and jihad posted on his private Twitter account.
In Washington, CAIR has waged a three-year court battle to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from pursuing basic investigative questions about border-crossers' ties to jihadist "martyrs" and radical mosques.
You'll recall that it was CAIR that advised six publicity-seeking imams who filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission in Minneapolis-St. Paul several years ago. The Muslim clerics were removed from their flight and questioned for several hours after their suspicious behavior alarmed both passengers and crewmembers. CAIR and the instigating imams targeted "John Does" -- innocent bystanders who alerted the authorities about their security concerns.
After a national backlash and passage of a congressional amendment protecting heroic John Does from frivolous p.c. lawsuits, CAIR quietly dropped its complaint. But their incessant cries of "Islamophobia" remain a potent deterrent to alert whistleblowers and witnesses who risk the manufactured wrath of jihad apologists, funders, enablers and front groups.
The litigious social justice activists have transformed common-sense vigilance into a prosecutable crime of paranoia or prejudice. CAIR and its ilk have succeeded in turning a large portion of America into security eunuchs who pay lip-service courage in times of crisis, yet recoil from the bold, unapologetic acts of self-protection that make such heroism possible in the first place.
Let's not let them win.
This weekend, remember the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 who refused to sit back on 9/11 and let themselves be murdered in the name of Islam without a fight.
Remember the passengers and crewmembers who tackled al-Qaida shoe-bomber Richard Reid on American Airlines Flight 63 before he had a chance to blow up the plane over the Atlantic Ocean.
Remember Brian Morgenstern, the teenage Circuit City worker who fearlessly contacted authorities when suspicious Middle Easterners brought in tapes of themselves shooting off guns and shouting "Allahu Akbar." The men were convicted of plotting to kill American soldiers at Fort Dix.
And as you party, parade and celebrate on this high-alert holiday weekend, remember the words of one of the brilliant men who secured America's independence, Patrick Henry: "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave."
Vigilance is patriotic. Grievance grifters be damned.
Pundit's Death Marks End of An Era for Democrats
7/3/2015 12:01:00 AM - Jonah Goldberg
Ben Wattenberg died this week at the age of 81.
He gave me my first job in Washington, as his research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. (I returned to AEI as a fellow a few years ago, my office just a few doors down from where Ben used to work.)
Ben was one of the last star pundits of what might be called the Old Order, before cable news and the Internet transformed the landscape. When everyone was rushing to CNN to shout at each other on "Crossfire," he launched a PBS show called "Think Tank" that aimed at high-minded conversation above the din. (I produced the show for several years.)
He had a remarkable career. A speechwriter for LBJ, Ben became a self-trained demographer. In 1970, he wrote "The Real Majority" with Richard Scammon, the former head of the Census Bureau. It was a data-driven analysis of the American electorate -- the first to marry demographic data with public polling data. The impact of "The Real Majority" was enormous. The Washington Post said it was the "most influential study of the American electorate ever published."
The impact was huge, but not what Ben intended. The Democratic Party was in the throes of McGovernism, an eggheady, quasi-isolationist, movement-oriented liberalism that many voters took for thinly veiled anti-Americanism.
Meanwhile, a savvy aide named Pat Buchanan gave the book to Richard Nixon, who was looking to build his own movement out of what he called "the silent majority." Nixon loved it. "We should aim our strategy primarily at disaffected Democrats, at blue-collar workers and at working-class ethnics," Nixon said. "We should set out to capture the vote of the 47-year-old Dayton housewife."
That housewife was a statistical fiction, a composite created by Wattenberg and Scammon. The typical American voter was "a 47-year-old housewife from the outskirts of Dayton, Ohio, whose husband is a machinist" and whose brother-in-law is a cop. (Take note: Even nearly a half-century ago, Ohio was still an electoral lynchpin.) Contrary to the rhetoric of the Democrats and their intellectual supporters, the majority of Americans were in fact "unyoung, unpoor and unblack." They were instead "middle-aged, middle-class and middle-minded."
"Will it sell to the Dayton housewife?" became the new "Will it play in Peoria?" for political consultants. TV host Dick Cavett even found an actual Dayton housewife to interview as if she was an oracle of the age.
The real majority, Wattenberg and Scammon argued, broke to the right on "social issues" -- a now-ubiquitous term coined by the authors -- which covered the waterfront of non-economic issues from law-and-order and drugs to student revolts and cultural malaise. They cited polls from 1969 showing that 94 percent of Americans wanted universities to come down harder on student protests, 84 percent were against the legalization of pot, and 84 percent were in favor of stricter obscenity laws. By nearly a 2-1 margin, Americans wanted the next Supreme Court vacancy filled by a conservative (49 percent to 27 percent).
Democrats ignored it all. They thought economic populism could hold the old Democratic coalition together, while cultural leftism would bring in ever more young and minority voters.
Nixon won re-election by a landslide, carrying 49 states, with 52 percent of voters under 30. Only Ronald Reagan, who followed a similar (though not identical) electoral strategy, matched Nixon's success.
Jimmy Carter won in 1976 by running as a somewhat culturally conservative Democrat from the South (and aided enormously by the Watergate hangover). In 1992, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, a member of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (the heir to the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, co-founded by Wattenberg), ran as a "different kind of Democrat." He was pro-welfare reform, pro-death penalty and at least claimed to be hawkish on defense. Ben endorsed Clinton in 1992 but not in 1996.
Ben's death is an end of an era for me personally, but it also marks the end of an era for the Democrats. There are virtually no prominent Wattenbergian Democrats anymore. But that's in large part because the world of the Dayton housewife is no more. Bill Clinton's wife isn't running like Bill Clinton. She sees no advantage in trying to win the old silent majority or the swing voters who used to decide presidential elections. A changing culture, evolving technology and Barack Obama's elections seem to have convinced her that McGovern was simply ahead of his time. For Ben's sake, and the country's, I hope she's wrong.
America, You're Beautiful
S. E. Cupp
7/2/2015 5:32:00 PM - S. E. Cupp
In between your July 4 barbecues and pool parties, the fireworks and the family fun, at some point over the holiday weekend I know you'll take a minute to reflect on the state of our nation.
And with all the recent news, it will be hard not to sigh a bit. From the tragic Charleston shooting to the riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, from bitter fights over health care and gay marriage to our renewed involvement in a war in the Middle East, from widening income inequality to a broken immigration system, it seems like a lot's going wrong in this divided nation.
It may look bleak -- and everything feels worse during a presidential election when every candidate is telling you how dire things are -- but keep your chin up. America's still the greatest place on Earth, and here's why:
"Veep." Considering there are countries in which satirizing or criticizing the government is punishable by prison or even death, it's pretty great that we have scores of television shows -- many of them fantastically fun and smart -- that do just that. From "Veep" and "House of Cards" to "Scandal" and "Homeland," we have plenty of opportunities to revel in the absurdities and failures of our country's elected leaders.
Cats. Imagine a world in which no one has compiled and alerted you to the best cat-in-costume videos, or curated a nearly perfect list of "Awkward Moments You Have During the Apocalypse," or provided a roadmap for "Which Fictional Dragon You Should Make Sweet, Tender Love To." You just imagined a world without BuzzFeed, and I'd really rather not live there, thank you very much.
Getting places. We have mastered the art of getting places. For anyone sitting on LA's 405 or the Long Island Expressway, we definitely haven't mastered the art of getting places quickly, but thanks to Uber our cities are becoming more efficient. In places like Saudi Arabia I wouldn't be allowed to drive. Here in America, I don't have to, which is definitely an upgrade.
Binging. Whether it's on Taco Bell's "Grilled Stuft Nacho" or "Seinfeld" episodes coming to Hulu, Americans can binge to their hearts' content. Sure, this comes with certain risks such as ulcers, obesity, atrophy and couch dents, but when your Saturday is spent with a bucket of wings and 12 hours of "Breaking Bad," life is pretty darn good.
Manners. Whether you think the Confederate flag is a symbol of Southern pride or not, it's hard to argue it hasn't been an incredibly divisive symbol for many others. And just recently a Republican Southern governor called for its removal from state house grounds. Retailers have stopped selling the flag. Even NASCAR, where Southern pride is requisite, has banned it. Oftentimes political correctness is a meaningless reaction to manufactured outrage. But in this case, it's just about being polite.
Paying more. If you've ever been to a Whole Foods supermarket, you know their food is delicious -- and outrageously expensive. But plenty of families live with the high prices because "buying organic" has become synonymous with "being a good person," and Americans have a delightful penchant for believing without any evidence that if it costs more it must be better. Well, this week Whole Foods apologized after a New York City investigation revealed several stores had been overcharging customers by as much as $0.80 to nearly $15 on prepackaged items sold by weight. Suckers.
Family rivalries. Since 1964, the country's favorite quiz show, "Jeopardy!" has sown the best kind of discord in families watching at home. Husband contends against wife, and sister against brother, to see who knows more about the Peloponnesian War or composers by country. In addition to challenging kids and grownups alike to study their films of the '40s and world capitals, it also affirms that there is no way you would be as awkward as that contestant was just now telling Alex about his figurine collection.
So, as you can clearly see, we're still the greatest nation on Earth. We might not feel like we're winning right now, with everything that's going on at home and overseas. But I've got a great cat video to cheer you up.
War on The Truth: It’s a Progressive Disease
7/3/2015 12:01:00 AM - Ken Blackwell
Do you feel like America has gone crazy?
The Supreme Court’s outrageous decisions in the Obamacare and same-sex marriage cases, in which the Court simply ignored the plain meanings of words and the Constitution, and thumbed its nose at the most basic facts of life, are only the latest examples of our nation turning its back on truth and common sense.
Under the influence of “progressive” fanatics, we’re suffering from a progressive pathology that’s tearing our nation apart.
In their quest to redefine “normal,” they are tearing up America’s morality by the roots. They’re forcing America to abandon God’s standards of right and wrong, and in consequence our society is becoming increasingly unmoored from reality.
The progressive war on truth
When did lying become accepted practice in public life? Not too long after kids started coming home from college -- and high school -- prattling about “my truth” and “your truth.”
Truth is, by definition, objective and universal. Rejecting this fundamental principle leads people to do “what is right in their own eyes,” as the Bible puts it, and enables them to play fast and loose with the rules.
Craig Livingstone, keeper of the illegally obtained FBI files during the Clinton administration, reportedly told a colleague, “Haven’t you heard? Truth is whatever you want it to be.”
The Clintons didn’t invent political lying, but they surely brought it to new lows. Nevertheless, there was still some expectation back in the ‘ ’90s that politicians ought to tell the truth.
Not so much nowadays. The nation placidly goes about its business as revelations emerge about the Obama administration lying continuously, almost compulsively, about virtually anything, in pursuit of political advantage. Here is a handful of examples that represent the Obama administration’s line on many of the leading public policy issues:
· The Benghazi massacre was a spontaneous event triggered by an obscure video, not a carefully planned Muslim terrorist attack of which we had advance warning.
· If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.
· “Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”
· The fence between the U.S. and Mexico is “practically complete.”
· Common sense voter ID laws constitute “suppression” of minority voters.
It’s clear that the present administration views lying as an essential hammer in their political tool chest.
The progressive war on reality
The war on truth is rapidly devolving into a war on reality itself. Perhaps it’s inevitable that when you abandon the plain black and white of truth and falsehood, you lose the ability to discern what is real and what is not. Never have I seen an administration pursue so many policies that fly in the face of common sense, and even demand that we deny reality that’s as plain as the nose on your face:
· The Fort Hood massacre was “workplace violence,” not Muslim terrorism.
· We offend our allies deliberately, and kowtow to enemies who intend to destroy us. President Obama just announced that families of hostages will no longer be prosecuted for paying ransom, increasing the odds that more Americans will be kidnapped by terrorists.
· We help Iran obtain nuclear weapons, putting Israel and the rest of the world at risk.
· We withdraw prematurely from Iran and Afghanistan, effectively giving those countries back to the Muslim jihadists.
· We protect Muslims around the world, while allowing Muslims to slaughter Christians throughout the Islamic world.
· At home, police are vilified, and criminals are exalted.
· The government spending spree continues, even as our towering debt promises to deliver us into fiscal Armageddon. Social Security Disability is about to go broke, and Medicare and Social Security are not far behind.
· We pander to troubled people trying to change their sex through hormones and mutilating surgery. In reality, transgender “women” are still men, and “men” are still women. At best, sex reassignment surgery turns men into eunuchs, and women into God knows what. Facebook now recognizes more than 50 “genders,” as if people can declare their sex to be whatever they imagine.
· We virtually eliminate our southern border, handcuff our border agents, and actively foster illegal immigration, when the nation is facing suffocating unemployment. Illegals have become a de facto protected class.
· And we lie about unemployment statistics, concealing half or more of the actual unemployment.
The progressive war on resisters
You’d better think twice before you tell the truth about the emperor’s new clothes. Progressives are using the power of government to force society to go along with the insanity.
This goes on wherever progressives hold power. Politically correct speech codes have been enforced on American college campuses for decades, where conservative and Christian students and faculty are routinely discriminated against and decried as “haters.”
Now that progressives have taken over broad swaths of federal and state government, they have greatly enhanced power to enforce their will. Bakers and florists who refuse to participate in same-sex ceremonies are driven out of business, despite the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion.
Religious liberty is under assault in America. People who espouse Judeo-Christian values are being denied entry into graduate schools and driven from their jobs. Just ask Wes Modder, the chaplain who recently was kicked out of the Navy for telling counselees the truth about what the Bible teaches about sexuality, including homosexual behavior.
Traditional American religion – Judeo-Christian values and practice – is the ultimate target of the progressives, who must uproot our moral structure and redefine good and evil before they can create their secular utopia.
God says, “Woe to those who call good evil, and evil good” (Isaiah 5:20).
That’s exactly where the progressives are leading America. People who still have a grip on reality need to band together and fight back.
Don't Give Up On America
7/3/2015 12:01:00 AM - David Limbaugh
As I've said, I was very alarmed, though not particularly surprised, by the two Supreme Court decisions last week in which the court's majority blithely bastardized the English language, the Constitution, the rule of law and the very idea of truth in order to further advance the progressive agenda in this nation.
But what troubles me more than the court's betrayal of its duty to safeguard the Constitution and the rule of law is the apparent complacency among the public about these decisions and the radical shifts we are witnessing in our culture.
Why do some seem resigned to the transformation of our society? Why have they surrendered? Do they strongly believe in anything anymore? Do they not understand the implications for the future of this nation -- if not for themselves, for their children?
We all seem to agree that to a great extent politics flows downstream from culture. The problem for conservatives is that the left understands this better than we do. They long ago took over our major cultural institutions, indoctrinating society through the schools, universities, media and Hollywood to their anti-tradition and radically secular ideas.
It has been a brilliant, grand deception because the left's ideas are anything other than the salt and light they present them to be. They offer themselves as tolerant, inclusive, compassionate and morally superior decriers of "hate." Yet they are the intolerant and often bitterly hateful ones who are trying to suppress opposing voices and who demonize everyone who dares disagree with their positions.
Leftists have been denigrating America's history, culture and values and denying it. But don't you dare suggest they don't love the country they have spent so much energy trashing and trying to fundamentally change.
They have insisted they just want the freedom to live and let live; they just want equal rights. In no way do they mean to encroach on other people's rights. They are harmless, seeking only an equal seat at the table.
Yet across the board their actions contradict their words, and their subsequent positions flagrantly breach their promises and assurances.
In economic policy, the founding American ideal of equal opportunity is no longer enough for them. By itself, it is inherently unfair, because some people have more talent, better connections or a privileged race or gender status. So they demand equal or more equitable outcomes. They use the tax code, administrative regulations and unconstitutional legislation to even the score. But isn't something screamingly wrong and unsustainable about a society whose lower half of income earners pay zero income taxes?
On same-sex marriage, gay activists said they only wanted equal recognition and an equal right to marry. They wouldn't dream of encroaching on the religious liberties of Christians. How quickly their true intentions emerged once they scored their Supreme Court victory. They were never going to be satisfied merely with a lawless Supreme Court decision forcing states to accept their redefinition of marriage. They are determined to use the power of the state and economic coercion to neuter and punish dissenters.
Leftists are not about live and let live. They are about wholesale control. Their movers and shakers see society as their project, and they can change everything and everyone through government and their domination of the culture. There is no live and let live in their bones.
In view of all this, it is amazing that so many conservatives, traditionalists and Christians are blind to the hostile, aggressive and unquenchable appetite of the leftist movement. It is chilling to me that they don't realize this trend is going to continue until there is either a cultural or legal confrontation or the left stamps out all dissent. The left is never satisfied even with winning; they must stomp out the opposition. Just look at what they've done to the Christian businesses with which they gratuitously picked a fight over same-sex marriage. Look at the concentrated assault on Donald Trump, even if you don't agree with some of his statements. Look at what they do to anyone who doesn't comply with their 1984-ishness.
I repeat: Is our side asleep? Have they given up? Are they numb? Do they care? Are they cowards? Would they rather be thought of as wonderful and tolerant by these intolerant people than stand up for what they believe in? Or do they believe in much of anything anymore?
I find it inconceivable that in the past five years Americans' opinions concerning same-sex marriage have changed as drastically as certain polls and commentators suggest. It's as if because President Obama came out and admitted he favors same-sex marriage, everyone else is compelled to agree. Even if the polls show this, I don't believe a majority yet accepts, in its heart of hearts, that same-sex marriage is the way to go. My suspicion is that it's more a reflection of the bullying and propaganda than a societal change of heart.
Could I be wrong on this? Could society be that fickle -- so apathetic about serious issues that they can turn on a dime? I'm not buying it. But I do believe people increasingly lack the courage to voice dissenting opinions against the politically correct position.
But I haven't given up hope. We can't give up on America. I don't believe American conservatism and traditional values are dead, but they are very, very sick. They need a doctor -- in the form of a fearless proponent of our ideas, which spawned the greatest nation in history and can help to bring it back. During this chaotic GOP primary process, hopefully a leader will emerge who believes in America and can inspire like-minded people toward a political revival. In the meantime, a spiritual revival in our culture is long overdue.
May God not give up on but once again bless America.
The Patriot Post
Thursday’s Daily Digest
Jul. 2, 2015
“Every prudent and cautious judge … will remember, that his duty and his business is, not to make the law, but to interpret and apply it.” —James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791
TOP RIGHT HOOKS
The U.S. economy is like a car that won’t shift from second gear into third: It’s moving forward and that’s great, but we’re not on the road that brings 3% GDP growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its June jobs report2 this morning and the economy did generally what economists predicted3 it would do. The economy added 233,000 jobs and the unemployment rate declined to 5.3%. The U-6 measure of labor underutilization dropped to 10.5%. But here comes the frustrating part. The percentage of Americans who are working declined by 0.3% to 62.6%, the lowest since 1977. In fact, 432,000 Americans left the workforce — about twice the number that joined last month. Additionally, wages didn’t rise from last month’s $24.95 average hourly wage. After a couple months in which wages increased, another bump in pay would have indicated that the U.S. economy was healthy. The kinds of jobs added in June were encouraging, as there were increases in architectural and engineering services, health care and computer systems design. Interestingly, BLS reports that the gains in the financial sector increased mostly around insurance carriers. “Commercial banking employment declined by 6,000,” the report read. “Employment in financial activities has grown by 159,000 over the year, with insurance accounting for about half of the gain.” While Americans have been buying more insurance, coerced or otherwise, fewer of them have been frequenting their local bank. Could this be a small sign of the decline of the middle class?
Tomorrow we will begin to celebrate Independence Day4 so there will not be a regular Digest. We’ll be back on Monday. God bless the USA!
A new survey asserts that nearly a third of American adults own a gun. Who knew? Frankly, we wish that number were higher. But as it is, the study’s author and the Leftmedia couldn’t be more concerned. “Considering the presence of deeply rooted gun culture and the estimated number of guns in the U.S. to be 310 million, we (suspected) that social gun culture is associated with gun ownership,” said vexed lead author Bindu Kalesan of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. The researchers' math depended on a 2013 online survey of 4,000 people from all 50 states and DC, so it’s hardly a conclusive measure. Undeterred, however, researchers and their accomplices in the press insist that more guns lead to more accidents, injuries and homicides. Lefty journalist Ed Kilgore, for one, is downright petrified, and he identifies the problem: conservatives. “[T]here is something fundamentally disquieting about the fact that the Americans most likely to own guns are also the Americans most likely to embrace a political rationale for gun ownership and most likely to believe they’re getting outvoted by people who don’t share their values,” he frets6. “Somewhere in these overlapping circles is a hard core of dangerous folks who are being told constantly by Republican politicians that they are losing or have already lost their most fundamental rights. And this is why political extremism is a bad thing even if its devotees lose most elections.” That dreaded “gun culture” may concern leftists, but we prefer to call it Liberty.
It’s interesting that just days after the Supreme Court ruled8 same-sex marriage is a heretofore undiscovered constitutional right Chick-fil-A came out on top in a customer service satisfaction survey9. In fact, the Atlanta-based fast-food chain registered the highest score in the history of the survey. What does same-sex marriage have to do with fried chicken? Recall that, in 2012, the company became the Rainbow Mafia’s number one target10 after Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy voiced his support for biblical marriage. Leftists tried to organize a boycott, but it fell flat as a conservative counter-boycott gave franchises their longest lines ever as people flocked to grab a tasty sandwich on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. The lesson: Stand by solid principles and make a great product, and people will come. They’ll like it, too.
FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS
By Dan Gilmore
The Left sees the issue of Hillary Clinton’s emails as a liability for the Right. If Republicans aren’t careful, that may prove true.
In March, Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted14, “The email trap: If the Rs make HRC email an obsessive fixation, to the exclusion of larger concerns of people, they will pay a price. Again.”
Thanks, Axelrod. An enemy multiplies kisses. After all, there are concerns about the economy, ObamaCare, immigration and what to do with a Supreme Court bent on making this nation ruled by a five-vote majority of a nine-judge panel. But Hillary Clinton’s emails are the perfect profile of Machiavellian politics that she hopes lead to a Clinton White House 2.0.
On Tuesday, the State Department released 3,000 pages15 of Clinton’s email from her time as secretary of state. This release is simultaneously huge and insignificant. Finally, after years of failed requests via the Freedom of Information Act, journalists and the public can start reading the email exchange showing Clinton telling retired four-star general John Podesta16 to “please wear socks to bed to keep your feet warm.”
It’s a massive document dump — 3,000 pages of Clinton scheduling meetings, replying to intelligence reports or firing off curt replies. Yet, it’s only a fraction of the 55,0000 pages of emails the State Department will release over the next few months. And it only happened because a federal judge ordered it after VICE News sued17.
When the State Department finishes, it will be January 2016 and well into presidential primary season — long enough to cause Hillary some heartburn, but also long enough to cause the public to tune out.
Unfortunately, Clinton’s lawyers got to the emails first. Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy, notes the emails were “heavily curated,” and so there’s a slim-to-none chance there will be “anything surprising or unexpected, let alone compromising.”
Yet these pages reveal yet again Hillary’s secrecy, dishonesty and incompetence. Here are three examples:
The issue running through all of this is Clinton’s culture of ignoring rules and oversight, dodging transparency. And the State Department is implicated in this. The public wouldn’t have known about Clinton’s secret email server if it wasn’t for the probing of the Benghazi committee.
The State Department has been dragging its feet since the committee asked for some of Clinton’s emails last November. By March, the committee had to release a subpoena.
During a press briefing June 26, State spokesman John Kirby told reporters, “We were in receipt of the email traffic that former Secretary Clinton provided, that she had gone through and decided were official in scope.”
He also explained that the department had an “original mandate,” which was to get the email communication regarding the Benghazi attack, then Clinton’s communication regarding Libya. But the record was incomplete, as at least 15 emails are missing from the State Department’s records. Still, State will do nothing, even knowing that its record-keeping rules may have been violated. Kirby said he knows of no investigation and that it’s “a matter between the select committee and former Secretary Clinton.”
The Left has been trying to make the Clinton emails and the original issue, the Benghazi attacks and cover-up21, as big a political trap as they can for the Republican Party. Clinton has already created an attack ad22 over it. And the ranking Democrat member of the Benghazi Committee has been saying weekly that the investigation is only a partisan attack, and that the Republican House is wasting taxpayer money.
Both her secret servers and her Benghazi cover-up are critically important and, we think, disqualify Clinton from the Oval Office. Unfortunately, Clinton and the Democrats may succeed in dragging things out so long that these stories really are “old news” and voters will care even less than they do now. People expect the Clintons to be corrupt23. So when corruption is exposed, they shrug and move on.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Victor Davis Hanson: “California keeps reminding us what has gone astray with America in recent years. The state is in the midst of a crippling four-year-old drought. Yet California has built almost no major northern or central mountain reservoirs since the New Melones Dam of 1979. That added nearly 3 million acre-feet to the state’s storage reserves — a critical project that was almost canceled by endless environmental lawsuits and protests. Although California has almost doubled in population since the dam’s construction, its politicians apparently decided that completing more northern and Sierra Nevada water projects was passé. So the parched state now prays for rain and snow rather than building reservoirs to ensure that the next drought won’t shut down the state. Curiously, once infrastructure projects such as the New Melones Dam are finished, few seem to complain about the life-saving water they provide the public in times of existential drought. California has taught the nation its unique hypocrisy. We have stopped the Keystone pipeline for now, but if it gets built eventually, few consumers will complain that it transfers oil at a cheap cost and with greater safety. California has also schooled the nation on mutually exclusively goals. Its lax immigration policies have made for a rapidly expanding population, and yet it expects a sophisticated infrastructure that ensures plentiful, clean water — and dreams of a pristine, green, 19th century paradise in a depopulated state.”
Insight: “The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of ‘loyalty’ and ‘duty.’ Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute, get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed.” —American writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)
Alpha Jackass: “There are those in politics who seek to demonize the opposition and polarize them. And it’s not helpful to the country.” —Howard Dean, former head of the party that specializes in demonization
Maybe the anti-Reagan: “Obama in many ways has helped start the same kind of political revolution that Reagan did.” —former campaign manager Jim Messina
Village Idiots: “We believe we’re making progress. We have our own sense of deadline.” —John Kerry on the Iran nuke deal
Dezinformatsia: “Although Frank J. Schwartz, a shark biologist with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says there’s too much natural variability in weather cycles to blame the recent shark attacks on global warming, Burgess says the link is plausible. ‘Clearly global climate change is a reality and it has resulted in warmer temperatures in certain places at certain times,’ says Burgess.” —National Geographic
Sounds suspicious: “Girl Scouts is for every girl, and every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.” —Megan Ferland, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western Washington, who claims she returned a $100,000 donation after the donor requested the check not be used to support “transgendered girls.” She then launched a crowd-funding campaign and raised $100K to replace that donation. (We would like to see the evidence such a check was ever received and the stipulation wording. Otherwise this sounds like a PR stunt to raise some money.)
“If emails show Hillary was dumbfounded by a fax machine, maybe we don’t want her having our nuclear launch codes.” —Twitter satirist @hale_razor
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis!
Managing Editor Nate Jackson
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.
We Are All Californians Now
Victor Davis Hanson
7/2/2015 12:01:00 AM - Victor Davis Hanson
California keeps reminding us what has gone astray with America in recent years.
The state is in the midst of a crippling four-year-old drought. Yet California has built almost no major northern or central mountain reservoirs since the New Melones Dam of 1979. That added nearly 3 million acre-feet to the state's storage reserves -- a critical project that was almost canceled by endless environmental lawsuits and protests.
Although California has almost doubled in population since the dam's construction, its politicians apparently decided that completing more northern and Sierra Nevada water projects was passé. So the parched state now prays for rain and snow rather than building reservoirs to ensure that the next drought won't shut down the state.
Curiously, once infrastructure projects such as the New Melones Dam are finished, few seem to complain about the life-saving water they provide the public in times of existential drought. California has taught the nation its unique hypocrisy. We have stopped the Keystone pipeline for now, but if it gets built eventually, few consumers will complain that it transfers oil at a cheap cost and with greater safety.
California has also schooled the nation on mutually exclusively goals. Its lax immigration policies have made for a rapidly expanding population, and yet it expects a sophisticated infrastructure that ensures plentiful, clean water -- and dreams of a pristine, green, 19th century paradise in a depopulated state.
California's major north-south highway laterals -- the 99, 101 and I-5 "freeways" -- often descend into deadly traffic quagmires. They were designed for a state of less than 20 million people, not one of more than 40 million. Recent national surveys have rated the state's road system as nearly last in the nation.
Most forget that California once all but invented the modern idea of a freeway. But instead of first ensuring motorists safe three-lane freeways, the state is embarking on a $68 billion high-speed rail project.
Californians excel at these postmodern solutions even as they ignore premodern problems. What advantage is providing free iPads for California students if their basic reading and analytical skills are declining to below pre-Internet levels? California is busy mandating transgendered restrooms but is lax in guaranteeing that there will be water in their sinks and toilets.
In good California style, Houston-based NASA talks grandly about its new 21st century space agendas, forgetting that it cannot even send its present astronauts into space on an American rocket. Just because a prior generation built the powerful and sophisticated Saturn rockets does not mean that its more sophisticated children can send Americans into space without Russian help.
Government agencies such as the IRS, VA, GSA and NSA are bigger, richer and more self-promoting than ever before. But their huge budgets hardly ensure that they can fairly collect taxes, humanely tend to the needs of veterans, professionally monitor government property, or properly collect and distill intelligence.
The once-vaunted California State University system now struggles with incoming students who are ill-prepared for college courses. More than a third do not meet English or math test entry requirements for college work and need remedial courses, which in turn reduces the availability of advanced classes and resources from the traditional university curricula.
Much of the crisis originates from poor preparation in grade schools and high schools, combined with huge influxes of non-English-speaking immigrants. In the past, the melting pot of English emersion, assimilation, integration and intermarriage had best helped immigrants quickly reach parity with the native population, but that old model has since been rejected.
The United States likewise has all but ended enforcement of its immigration laws -- as if the idea of open borders and cultural diversity are proper objectives without preplanning for the ensuing education, housing, transportation, health and legal challenges. Praising "diversity" in the abstract proves to be of little value unless in the concrete people are willing to open their neighborhoods and schools to mentor the millions of impoverished newcomers in their midst.
California taught the nation that taxes can skyrocket -- the state has the highest basket of income, sales and gasoline taxes in the nation -- even as infrastructure, government services and schools erode. It established the national precedent of opposing new infrastructure projects and then enjoying them once the planners and builders who were criticized finished them. California equated a Silicon Valley smartphone in the hand with knowledge in the head -- and the nation at large soon produced the most electronically wired and least knowledgeable generation in memory.
We are all Californians now.
Gov. Kasich Signs Pro-Life Budget That Helps Pregnancy Centers, Could Close Abortion Facilities
7/1/2015 5:00:00 PM - Leah Barkoukis
Ohio Governor John Kasich reaffirmed Ohio’s pro-life stance this week when he signed into law a state budget that helps pregnancy centers and holds abortion clinics accountable by closing those that fail to meet basic health and safety standards.
Kasich signed the State of Ohio’s 2016-2017 Budget, which provides funding for Ohio’s over 140 pregnancy centers. These life-affirming centers provide material assistance to pregnant women in need, as well as parenting classes for mothers and fathers alike, a service that many centers consider a core element in empowering families.
Across the country, there are over 3,000 pregnancy help centers, outnumbering abortion facilities by a ratio of 6:1. In Ohio, they outnumber abortion providers by a ratio of 18:1, according toOhio Right to Life.
According to [Ohio Right to Life], the budget also includes pro-life measures that could restrict abortion facilities. The first is an amendment that defines “local” following an abortion facility’s attempt to enter into a contract with an out-of-state hospital in order to stay open.
The second is a requirement that the Ohio Department of Health respond to a facility’s license application in reasonable time. Failure to approve the application within that time will result in the facility’s closure.
“With Ohio facing an infant mortality crisis, it’s absolutely essential that our state enlists and promotes as many community partners as possible to help pregnant women and their children survive birth and their first birthday,” said Stephanie Ranade Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, reports LifeNews. “We know that abortion increases the risk of premature birth, and that premature birth increases the risk of infant mortality. It’s clear that our state needs a consistent ethic that affirms life at all of its stages, and pregnancy centers are the perfect partners for promoting that.”
Krider also noted the importance of showing compassion to women facing crisis pregnancies.
“As a pro-life state, we have to be working to hold abortion facilities accountable, while also promoting positive alternatives to the heartbreaking practice of abortion,” she said, reports LifeNews. “Showing compassion for women and opposing abortion are not mutually exclusive. We have to stop the abortion industry’s disingenuous attempts to turn women against their babies. We have to truly love them both.”
The pro-life group thanked Kasich, a presumptive presidential candidate, who’s been instrumental in promoting the dignity of every human life in The Buckeye State.
The History of a Flag and the Powerful Story of Appomattox
7/2/2015 12:01:00 AM - Ken Blackwell
Add another powerful argument to those our colleague Sarah Perry has offered against Common Core standards in education: Consider the peril it poses to our national memory.
The current heated debate over the Confederate flag improperly displayed on state property shows a profound loss of historic consciousness. It demonstrates the perils of allowing liberal ideologues to mandate what is known and can be said about our past.
Partisan axes are being sharpened in all this. Some folks seem eager to discuss the Confederate flag as though its continued public display in the South is the sole result of Republican activism.
This is a false claim. For example, it was Republicans who first took down the banner of Rebel sedition in South Carolina and in Richmond. It was a Democrat, Gov. Fritz Hollings, who put it back up in Columbia a century later. “Dixiecrat” Democrat George Wallace and Dixiecrat turned Republican Strom Thurmond who were among their generation’s most ardent segregationists.
More recently, many Democrats have been eager to embrace those who fly the rebel flags. “I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks," Democratic presidential candidate and later chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, said in November 2003. He knew that not all who fly that rebel flag, are racists.
Going back into history, it’s worth noting that in 1865, Gen. Sherman’s Union soldiers—mostly Republicans—held a mock session of the legislature in Columbia, South Carolina—and repealed the Ordinance of Secession.
President Lincoln walked the streets of Richmond from the James River to the Confederate White House weeks later to re-establish federal authority in the rebel capital.
The Confederate flag that had flown for four years over Thomas Jefferson’s classic Virginia State Capitol was hauled down—by Union soldiers. Most of these veterans had just voted to return Lincoln and the Republicans to power.
I hope the people of South Carolina remove the Confederate flag from State Capitol grounds, so nothing takes away from their continued building of a beloved community.
As a nation, Americans should remember what happened at Appomattox. This story, combined with the recent community response to the tragedy in Charleston, point the way to building a more perfect Union.
No country on earth would have treated defeated rebels the way Lincoln and Grant treated Robert E. Lee’s famished gray legions at Appomattox. They didn’t hang them. They didn’t send them off to prison camps. They fed them.
A Union Army bandsman outside the McLean House at Appomattox Courthouse serenaded Gen. Lee as he mounted his famous horse, Traveler. That German immigrant musician played “Auld Lang Syne” for Robert E. Lee as Gen. Grant and his officers doffed their military hats.
Britain hanged rebels in Canada and Ireland. Mexico shot rebels in Texas.
But we Americans saluted surrendering soldiers as they lay down their rifles—and those Confederate battle flags. From the time of that famed “Stillness at Appomattox,” those rebel flags have been ours; they belong to the people of the Union. That’s why Lincoln’s son Tad merrily waved a captured rebel flag from the White House balcony as his father gave the last speech of his life.
It was during that last address that President Lincoln asked the band to play “Dixie.” He said it was a favorite tune of his. It was now federal property, he told the delighted crowd.
Lincoln also lauded the black soldiers of the Union Army who had helped to cut off Lee’s retreat at Appomattox. They had played an indispensable part in the Union victory.
He knew this day would come. He had predicted it in an 1863 letter to James Conkling that was widely circulated.
And then, there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonnet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation; while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget that, with malignant heart, and deceitful speech, they strove to hinder it.
The primary reason that there was no vengeance taken by the former slaves in that time of Union victory is that they were mostly Christians. They saw Appomattox as the Day of Jubilee.
Can we see the spirit of Lincoln in any of the accusatory social media expressions of outrage? Can we see charity for all in this? We are seeing a self-righteousness that Lincoln eschewed.
It seems a time for score settling, for pursuing the long-term project of eradicating America’s past, for fundamentally transforming this country.
When Corporal Robert Sutton of the First South Carolina Regiment of Volunteers heard the Emancipation Proclamation, he thanked President Lincoln. Then he pledged to carry the flag of the Union all the way to Richmond. The newly freed Corporal Sutton gave his heartfelt thanks to his Captain Jesus “who has never been defeated!”
I'm all in for #AmericaProud!
Right and Duty
Jackie Gingrich Cushman
7/2/2015 12:01:00 AM - Jackie Gingrich Cushman
July 4th is one of my favorite celebrations. It's not just the parades, flag waving, barbecue and fireworks -- though these help -- it's the meaning behind the day. The understanding that we could be living in a different country, under British rule -- but that our forefathers had the strength and courage to declare themselves free and independent people and to fight for our freedom.
We declared our independence from Great Britain 239 years ago this week. It was a declaration long in coming, brought about by the overreaching rule of King George III and Britain's insistence on taxation without representation, and sparked in part by the quartering of troops in our own homes. We were required to give -- both in taxes and hospitality without any say -- without a vote or a voice. The taxation began in the 1760s, the Boston Massacre occurred in 1770, the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April of 1775.
It did not happen overnight, but over decades of subjugation and British arrogance. They could simply take what they needed -- we were only subjects --with no voice or vote.
For years we went along -- attempting to be heard, attempting to have a say in the rules and regulations that provided the framework for our lives.
Patrick Henry's call to action, "Give me liberty or give me death," was the first strong public statement that, if we were to be free, if we were to have liberty, then we would have to fight Britain. Henry understood that the answer was not to wait and see, that we had to be willing to fight for our freedom. This was the first time this was clearly laid out; until then the belief was that we could negotiate with Britain. We could go along and get along.
No more. Henry lay down the gauntlet and clearly presented his view of what we were facing.
Our choice was liberty or death.
Our founders chose to take the challenge and declared our Independence from Britain on July 4, 1776.
Our Declaration of Independence is a three-part document: the first a declaration of freedom, including our understanding of the natural order of authority and power; the second a long list of grievances, reinforcing the belief that there was no choice but to declare our independence as a free country; the third an acknowledgment of risk and the oath of the signers to one another.
The first section is the one that is most often quoted: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
The second part, less often referenced, lays out the reasoning for why we were seeking independence, noting that government should not change lightly. Instead only when "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism." At that point it was no longer a choice to change but "it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." This declaration was followed by a long list of grievances committed by King George III.
Our founders concluded the document with the pledge to each other, and an invocation of God. Knowing that their declaration would be seen as an act of treason by the king, the signers also knew that, if they were not successful, they would risk losing their lives.
This document declared us free, outlined the foundational understanding of our rights, from whom they came, and our responsibilities to maintain them.
Just as our founding fathers fought for our freedom more than 200 years ago, so must we continue to fight to ensure that our government remains ours and our freedoms remain intact. It is not only our right, but it is also our duty to ensure our country's future security.
VA Denies Iraq War Vet Medical Care Because They "Aren't Taking New Patients"
7/1/2015 4:30:00 PM - Katie Pavlich
The Department of Veteran's Affairs apparently doesn't have time for the nation's veterans and recently turned at least one young man away after he sought treatment for PTSD. The excuse? The VA just isn't "taking new patients right now." More from USA Today:
Iraq war veteran Chris Dorsey figured that no one would believe he had been turned away from a U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs clinic when he sought an appointment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
So when he went on Tuesday to another facility, the VA Oakwood, Georgia, Community Based Outpatient Clinic, he flipped on his smartphone camera.
On the video, Dorsey is heard waiting patiently in line for more than 5 minutes. When he reaches the check-in counter, he informs the desk he needs a transfer from the Athens, Georgia, VA system and an appointment.
"We're not accepting any new patients — not this clinic," the VA employee behind the desk says, without providing any extra information, assistance or guidance for treatment.
Unforunately, Dorsey's case isn't an isolated incident. According the the Armed Forces Foundation, the average wait time for veterans to see a specialist for PTSD at the VA is 41 days.
"If it's happening to me, I can't just be be the only one," he said.
Waiting periods for any veteran can be deadly, but especially those suffering from PTSD. On average, veterans commit suicide every 65 minutes of every single day. Since 2001, 2,500 active-duty military personnel have committed suicide. Our vets need help and they need it immediately when they make the decision to seek it out. This is completely unacceptable.
The Patriot Post
Wednesday’s Daily Digest
Jul. 1, 2015
“The truth is, that, even with the most secure tenure of office, during good behavior, the danger is not, that the judges will be too firm in resisting public opinion, and in defence of private rights or public liberties; but, that they will be ready to yield themselves to the passions, and politics, and prejudices of the day.” —Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
TOP RIGHT HOOKS
With a wave of his magic wand, Barack Obama just gave five million workers a raise — or so he’d like you to believe. In an op-ed explaining his new regulations on overtime pay for salaried workers, Obama wrote2, “We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded. Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That’s partly because we’ve failed to update overtime regulations for years — and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year — no matter how many hours they work. … [M]y plan [is] to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year.” And who doesn’t want a raise? Naturally, his proposal will be popular with those who think they stand to benefit, as well as those in need of an Economics 101 refresher. The real-world results will be that employers hire fewer workers, pay lower base wages, cut hours and nix benefits like work-from-home scenarios for employees who now have to scrupulously track their hours. Just mandating higher wages doesn’t mean businesses can afford to pay them. The conservative approach is to actually grow the economy — which, notably, Obama has not done. As John F. Kennedy once said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Not just the ones Obama points to with his wand.
Last night, the State Department released 3,000 pages4 of Hillary Clinton’s email from when she served as secretary of state. This is the first batch of emails it released in response to a judge ordering the department to place Clinton’s emails in the public record on a rolling basis. Americans will get an email dump every month until the Democrat primary in January. Cue a Hillary headache. Nate Jones5, expert in the Freedom of Information Act at the National Security Archive housed at George Washington University, said he would be watching how much information the State Department redacts. “The emails were unclassified, so it will be eyebrow-raising if any more content is retroactively classified by State,” Jones said. “It will be extremely troubling if State wastes its resources to unnecessarily censor ‘deliberative process’ emails which Clinton herself stated she wants released.” Sure enough, the State Department redacted 25 emails because it deemed them classified. It also went ahead and struck the name of a man6 whose birthday Clinton’s office was celebrating. Last week, the House Select Committee on Benghazi discovered through interviewing Clinton lackey Sidney Blumenthal that Clinton’s staff sanitized the emails7 before dumping them on State. For all the platitudes, the effort to get the Clinton docs in the public record is all but sincere.
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to add to next term’s docket Friderichs v. California Teachers Association, a lawsuit that could significantly loosen teachers unions grip over California and 19 other states. Because those states abide by the “closed shop” rule, collective bargaining requires that public teachers, even non-unionized ones, turn over portions of their paychecks to Democrat activists masquerading as unions. That’s not a bargain at all, which is why lead plaintiff Rebecca Friedrichs, a frustrated teacher veteran, filed a lawsuit two years ago to abolish the arbitrary system. Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, the firm representing the plaintiffs, said in 2013, “We are going to get this case to the Supreme Court and win, and if we do, we will eliminate the close shop rules.” He was right about the first part, but we won’t know about the second for another year. But Reason’s Robby Soave believes that SCOTUS will get this one right. “The conservative 5-4 majority in 2012’s Knox v. SEIU essentially invited such a challenge, and the decision today by the Court to hear the case is a very good sign,” he writes. Furthermore, “A big win for Friedrichs could have massive consequences. California is just one of 20 ‘closed-shop’ states that require non-members to pay union dues. Compulsory unionization could be ruled unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds nationwide.” Recent rulings — namely on ObamaCare — caution us against high expectations, but unions have been put on high alert either way. Even an unfavorable ruling won’t silence the growing, vocal opposition to union contortions.
FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS
By Jim Harrington
The Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision10 forcing states to recognize same-sex marriage has sparked a debate about whether the decision also provides legal precedent requiring states to recognize concealed carry permits. Let’s weigh that argument.
Bob Owens at Bearing Arms11 fired first, explaining, “The Court used Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment12 to justify their argument. … By using the Constitution in such a manner, the Court argues that the Due Process Clause extends ‘certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy’ accepted in a majority of states across the state lines of a handful of states that still banned the practice.”
Comparing Obergefell to concealed carry reciprocity, Owens points out, “The vast majority of states are ‘shall issue’ on the matter of issuing concealed carry permits, and enjoy reciprocity with a large number of other states.” And concealed carry is certainly “accepted in a majority of states across the state lines of … states that still [ban] the practice.” Before Obergefell, 14 states did not recognize his concealed carry permit. He argues the ruling means they must.
It’s certainly interesting that attorney Marc Greendorfer’s amicus brief against same-sex marriage filed for the Obergefell case invokes the Second Amendment. Greendorfer wrote13, “One day, this Court will have to explain how sweeping restrictions on every aspect of firearms ownership and use can be upheld yet traditional and long-standing regulations on marriage cannot be tolerated in any form or in any jurisdiction. … [After Heller], a number of state and local governments imposed draconian restrictions on firearms, claiming that the restrictions were reasonable and common sense, and did not infringe the core right protected by the Second Amendment.”
It’s true that the Supreme Court did not limit its interpretation of Due Process to same-sex marriage. But we also don’t hold out much hope that Owens' interpretation will, er, carry the day.
Three legal experts weighed in on the subject for Independent Journal Review14, and their take is more sobering.
Ilya Somin, professor of law at George Mason University, offered some optimism. “I think this argument may be plausible, but it is far from an open and shut case,” he said. “[T]he Supreme Court has not ruled that having a concealed carry permit is a ‘personal choice central to individual dignity and autonomy.’ It hasn’t even (so far) ruled that the right to conceal-carry … is protected by the Second Amendment. … [I]n the case of concealed carry permits, the Court has never ruled that states are required to issue them to their own citizens. I think such a ruling might well be required by the Second Amendment. But it hasn’t happened yet.”
But Robert A. Levy, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at Cato Institute, put a damper on even such guarded optimism: “No. The Obergefell Court applied the Due Process Clause to ‘certain personal choices central to personal dignity and autonomy.’ I doubt that the Court would interpret that phrase to encompass a federal constitutional right to concealed carry. Nor would the Court rule that any right enforceable under the laws of, say, 36 states must therefore be extended to the remaining states.”
And Trevor Burrus, Research Fellow at Cato, warned, “If proponents want to bring a case on concealed carry and cite the Obergefell opinion, they are free to… [But] gay marriage [doesn’t] automatically convey a right to concealed carry in 50 states. Moreover, by using these spurious arguments, advocates … harm the overall movement for gun rights. Bad arguments can create bad precedents that could impair the expansion of the right to self defense.”
Finally, economist John Lott, who has written extensively on guns, wrote our publisher Mark Alexander to give his opinion: “I don’t think that the decision will make any difference for gun rights, as the four liberal justices who voted for it don’t believe that there is a right to self-defense or a right to own guns, let alone a right to be able to carry a concealed handgun. You might get one vote for a pro-gun position using that argument, but it would only be Kennedy.”
In the world of SCOTUS and the Left, you must be careful what you wish for. We don’t exactly trust our “Supremes” to read the Second Amendment any better than they do the Tenth and Fourteenth. But that isn’t to say national concealed carry reciprocity15 isn’t worth aiming for.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Star Parker: “[Justice Anthony] Kennedy is so absorbed in creating reality that he appears oblivious that any reality might exist outside his own imagination. He notes ‘deep transformations’ in our understanding of marriage, and that ‘these new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution of marriage.’ Really? In 1960, 9 percent of American adults over 25 had never married. Today it is 20 percent. In a recent Pew Research survey, only 47 percent said it is ‘very important’ that a couple legally marries if they plan to spend the rest of their lives together. In 1960, about 5 percent of our babies were born to unwed mothers. Now it is 41 percent. Sixty-one percent of Americans now say out-of-wedlock birth is morally acceptable. … The marriage redefinition movement has been driven by two motivations: 1) de-legitimization of religion, and 2) expansion of the welfare state. … It is no accident that as marriage has broken down, dependence on government has exploded. The percentage of our national budget consisting of transfer payments to individuals has expanded from less than 30 percent in 1960 to around 70 percent today.”
Insight: “The danger when men stop believing in God is not that they’ll believe in nothing, but that they’ll believe in anything.” —G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
Upright: “If justices cannot resist the urge to legislate, let’s drop the pretense that constitutional law is guided by neutral principles and at least give the people the option to vote justices in (and out).” —Mona Charen
Braying Jenny: “Whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror. … White folks think that if they are nice to you they are above a critique of whiteness, white supremacy, or structural racism.” —now-terminated University of Memphis professor Zandria Robinson
Non Compos Mentis: “Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us even when we don’t realize it.” —Barack Obama
Beware: “[My to-do] list is long and my instructions to my team and my instructions to myself have always been that we are going to squeeze every last ounce of progress that we can make … as long as I have the privilege of holding this office.” —Barack Obama
Friendly fire: “On the world stage, I think [Obama’s accomplishments] have been minimal. I think he has done some good things domestically, like health reform and so forth. But on the world stage, just to be objective about it, I can’t think of many nations in the world where we have a better relationship now than when he took over.” —Jimmy Carter
Late-night humor: “After Donald Trump’s derogatory comments about immigrants, NBC has officially canceled ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ Donald Trump isn’t even president yet and he’s already made America a better place.” —Conan O'Brien
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis!
Managing Editor Nate Jackson
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.
Fanning the Flames of Another Black Church Arson Hoax
7/1/2015 12:01:00 AM - Michelle Malkin
America is still reeling from the horrific Charleston, S.C., massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that claimed the lives of nine innocent people.
The last thing the community and our country need are hysterical journalists compounding the pain with inflammatory reporting on an unsubstantiated "epidemic" of black church arsons.
On Monday, a Baltimore Sun lead editorial decried "a series of mysterious fires at African-American churches across the South" in the wake of the Charleston murders. The newspaper cited a "pattern" of attacks, including what it claimed was an "uptick in attacks on 37 black churches in the South" in the 1990s that "prompted President Bill Clinton to set up a church-arson investigative task force."
The Sun neglected to mention that Clinton had falsely claimed at the time that he had "vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child"-- an assertion immediately debunked by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The Sun also neglected to mention that the manufactured media coverage that launched the 1990s black church arson juggernaut, fueled by former USA Today reporter Gary Fields' 61 fear-mongering stories, fell apart under scrutiny. Fields' own employer was forced to admit that "analysis of the 64 fires since 1995 shows only four can be conclusively shown to be racially motivated."
Reminder: Several of the hyped hate crimes against black churches had been committed by black suspects; a significant number of the black churches were, in fact, white churches; and the complex motives behind the crimes included mental illness, vandalism and concealment of theft.
Once again, falsified history is repeating itself.
The NAACP, which capitalized on the Clinton-era race hustle, is now pushing the new arson epidemic narrative. The organization remains shamelessly undaunted after fueling the fake NAACP "bombing" in Colorado Springs earlier this year. The group's CEO, Cornell Brooks, tweeted the incendiary "#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches" hashtag on Tuesday and disclosed that he is "informing churches, reviewing legislation, pushing media awareness and deciding legal options."
The left-wing instigators at the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose stated mission is to "destroy" its political opponents and whose target map and list of social conservative groups were used by left-wing domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins to shoot up the Washington, D.C., office of the Family Research Council in 2012, baselessly reported: "In what may not be a coincidence, a string of nighttime fires have damaged or destroyed at least six predominately black churches in four southern states in the past week."
Teach for America alumnus agitator DeRay McKesson quickly added his Twitter kerosene to the fire, reflexively claiming that the "KKK" was responsible for a half-dozen black church burnings.
Buried beneath the sensationalized social media avalanche of panic: the more judicious and careful observations of Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce that the feds have made no official determinations that any hate crimes have taken place and that "it's unclear whether any of the fires are linked."
It was observed that "one of the half-dozen church crimes was most likely "accidental" and had "no element of criminal intent."
Another "was likely touched off by an electrical short" after a tree limb fell on the property, yanking the electrical service line with it.
And yet another alleged "black church arson" actually involved a white church "struck by lightning."
NBC News trumpeted: "Spate of Fires at Black Churches Raise Concerns of Rise in Hate Crimes."
The Washington Post ominously tallied "five predominantly black Southern churches burn within a week; arson suspected in at least three."
The New York Daily News blared: "String of apparent arson fires plague black churches in Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee."
Mic.com quoted a hate crimes "expert" blaming -- you guessed it -- "the growth of violent right-wing extremist ideology in the U.S." for the nonexistent black church arson epidemic.
Where there's smoke, there's fire. In this case, it's coming from the five-alarm self-immolation of agenda-driven journalism's credibility
A Minority View
Walter E. Williams
7/1/2015 12:01:00 AM - Walter E. Williams
The nation's demagogues and constitutionally ignorant are using the Charleston, South Carolina, AME church shooting to attack the Second Amendment's "right of the people to keep and bear Arms." A couple of years ago, President Barack Obama said, "I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations." That's a vision shared by many Americans, namely that the Constitution's framers gave us the Second Amendment to protect our rights to go deer and duck hunting, do a bit of skeet shooting, and protect ourselves against criminals. That this vision is so widely held reflects the failure of gun rights advocates, such as the NRA and Gun Owners of America, to educate the American people. The following are some statements by the Founding Fathers. You tell me which one of them suggests that they gave us the Second Amendment for deer and duck hunting and protection against criminals.
Alexander Hamilton said, "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed," adding later, "If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government." What institution was Hamilton referring to when he said "the representatives of the people"?
Thomas Jefferson: "What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms." Who are the rulers Jefferson had in mind?
James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution," said, "(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation ... (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
George Mason, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, which served as inspiration for the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, said, "To disarm the people -- that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them," later saying, "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials."
Richard Henry Lee said, "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
Here's a much more recent statement from a liberal, bearing no kinship to today's liberals/progressives: The late Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey said, "Certainly, one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. ... The right of the citizen to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible."
There are some historical anti-gun statements that might please America's gun grabbers. "Armas para que?" (Translated: "Guns, for what?") That's how Fidel Castro saw the right of citizens to possess guns. There's a more famous anti-gun statement: "The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing." That was Adolf Hitler.
At the heart of the original American ideal is the deep distrust and suspicion the founders of our nation had for Congress, distrust and suspicion not shared as much by today's Americans. Some of the founders' distrust is seen in our Constitution's language, such as Congress shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, violate or deny. If the founders did not believe Congress would abuse our God-given rights, they would not have provided those protections.
Maybe there are Americans who would argue that we are moving toward greater liberty and less government control over our lives and no longer need to remain an armed citizenry. I'd like to see their evidence.
Fewer Traditional Values Means More Government
7/1/2015 12:01:00 AM - Star Parker
More unsettling than the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges directing states to recognize same-sex marriage is the reasoning that went into the decision.
It would be nice to believe that the men and women who wear black robes and occupy seats on America's highest court are serious people -- or that they are wise.
But going forth, unfortunately, it should be clear that the real thought leaders of America are in Hollywood, and that our Supreme Court, save three conservatives, is just a ship that rides the wave of public opinion.
A good deal of the court's opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, gets into the history of marriage, what it is and what it's for. But when I read Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which defines our judicial branch, I see nothing that says it's the job of judges to explain to the American people why institutions like marriage, that have defined and long preceded our nation, exist and what they mean.
We actually have a source that defines marriage for us. In the Book of Genesis, the first of the five biblical books that form the foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition that has guided Western civilization, it says that God created woman from man, and that "a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh."
So with all the to-do on this issue, the choice before our nation has been simple and clear. Is marriage defined by the Bible or by Justice Kennedy? Now we have the answer: Justice Kennedy.
Does it matter?
Let's grasp the whole picture. Although many note the quickness of the change in public opinion on marriage, this is really a process that has been going on for many years. Perhaps we might start in 1962, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prayer in school is unconstitutional. Another milestone was in 1973, when the court discovered a right in our Constitution for women to destroy their unborn children.
It has been a long but not so winding road as the moral fiber of our nation has come apart. The degradation of marriage is but the latest chapter.
Kennedy is so absorbed in creating reality that he appears oblivious that any reality might exist outside his own imagination. He notes "deep transformations" in our understanding of marriage, and that "these new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution of marriage."
Really? In 1960, 9 percent of American adults over 25 had never married. Today it is 20 percent. In a recent Pew Research survey, only 47 percent said it is "very important" that a couple legally marries if they plan to spend the rest of their lives together.
In 1960, about 5 percent of our babies were born to unwed mothers. Now it is 41 percent. Sixty-one percent of Americans now say out-of-wedlock birth is morally acceptable.
Justice Clarence Thomas zeroed in on the truth in his dissent on the court's opinion. "Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits."
The marriage redefinition movement has been driven by two motivations: 1) de-legitimization of religion, and 2) expansion of the welfare state.
It is no accident that as marriage has broken down, dependence on government has exploded. The percentage of our national budget consisting of transfer payments to individuals has expanded from less than 30 percent in 1960 to around 70 percent today.
The idea of American freedom was that by living by God-given prior truths and designing a Constitution to secure them and limit government, we could live free.
Now arbitrary political power fills the vacuum of degraded truths and a degraded Constitution. We'll see how long Americans will continue to think this is a good idea.
You Can't Compromise With Culture Warriors
7/1/2015 12:01:00 AM - Jonah Goldberg
I loved reading the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" books to my daughter.
The somewhat Aesopian theme is that if you give the mouse what it wants -- a cookie -- it will just want more: a glass of milk, a straw, etc.
The story came to mind last week, a week that began with many vowing to inter the Confederate flag and ended with the Supreme Court mandating that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. As far as culture war victories go, the flag news was big, but the marriage ruling was tantamount to VE Day.
It might be too much to think that progressive activists and intellectuals would demobilize after such a "Mission Accomplished" moment. But a reasonable person might expect social justice warriors to at least take the weekend off to celebrate.
But no. Even when the cookie is this big, the mice want something more. The call went out that there were new citadels to conquer. Within hours of the decision, Politico ran a call to arms titled "It's Time to Legalize Polygamy: Why Group Marriage Is the Next Horizon of Social Liberalism."
On Sunday, Time magazine had Mark Oppenheimer's "Now's the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions."
Earlier in the week, as corporations and politicians were racing one another to shove the Confederate flag down the memory hole, a co-host asked CNN's Don Lemon if the Jefferson Memorial should be removed from the National Mall because the former president owned slaves. He said no, but that "there may come a day when we want to rethink Jefferson."
Within hours of the same sex-marriage ruling, the White House was beaming the gay pride rainbow flag on its facade. This is the White House whose current occupant campaigned in 2008 passionately insisting that his religious faith required him to oppose gay marriage. The president and his party now consider that position to be unalloyed bigotry.
Many of us always believed Barack Obama was lying about his opposition to gay marriage -- a belief corroborated when his former guru, David Axelrod, wrote in his memoir that he'd advised his client to conceal his personal view for political expediency.
It is something of a secular piety to bemoan political polarization in this nation. But polarization in and of itself shouldn't be a problem in a democracy. The whole point of having a democratic republic, never mind the Bill of Rights, is to give people the right to disagree.
A deeper and more poisonous problem is the breakdown in trust. Again and again, progressives insist that their goals are reasonable and limited. Proponents of gay marriage insisted that they merely wanted the same rights to marry as everyone else. They mocked, scorned and belittled anyone who suggested that polygamy would be next on their agenda. Until they started winning. In 2013, a headline in Slate declared "Legalize Polygamy!" and a writer at the Economist editorialized, "And now on to polygamy." The Atlantic ran a fawning piece on Diana Adams and her quest for a polyamorous "alternative to marriage."
We were also told that the fight for marriage equality had nothing to do with a larger war against organized religion and religious freedom. But we now know that was a lie too. The ACLU has reversed its position on religious freedom laws, in line with the left's scorched-earth attacks on religious institutions and private businesses that won't -- or can't -- embrace the secular fatwa that everyone must celebrate "love" as defined by the left.
I very much doubt we'll get a constitutional right for teams of people to get "married," but I have every confidence the drumbeat will grow louder. Social justice -- forever ill-defined so as to maximize the power of its champions -- has become not just an industry but also a permanent psychological orientation among journalists, lawyers, educators and other members of the new class of eternal reformers.
By no means are social justice warriors always wrong. But they are untrustworthy, because they aren't driven by a philosophy so much as an insatiable appetite that cannot take yes for an answer. No cookie will ever satisfy them. Our politics will only get uglier, as those who resist this agenda realize that compromise is just another word for appeasement.
The Hidden Message of Same-Sex Marriage
6/30/2015 3:34:00 PM - Mona Charen
The four dissenters in Obergefell v. Hodges lucidly expressed the profound offense against constitutional law and representative democracy the ruling represents. In short, five lawyers, accountable to no one, chose to legislate on a profoundly consequential matter that the people were just beginning to address through democratic means. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote: "Who do we think we are?" If justices cannot resist the urge to legislate, let's drop the pretense that constitutional law is guided by neutral principles and at least give the people the option to vote justices in (and out).
That the court has struck a blow for gay rights is true enough (and treating homosexuals with respect is long overdue). Unfortunately, the claim that this ruling also strengthens marriage is almost certainly false. To understand why is also to answer the question so often pressed as a taunt by gay marriage supporters: How can extending marriage to gays possibly affect your marriage? The answer lies in the hidden message.
The road to gay marriage began with feminism. Feminists argued that there were no important differences between the sexes. Thus, mothering and fathering were interchangeable. The word "parent" became a verb. If mothers and fathers bring nothing unique or complementary to their roles, then it logically follows that two mothers or two fathers should be just as good. Talk of three or more parents misses the mark. The relevant number is one. If fathers are no different from mothers, then single women needn't pause before embarking on "parenthood" solo -- and they aren't.
Along with feminism, the past few decades have featured a widespread retreat from the idea of family duty. Long before gay marriage was spoken of, we already had enshrined the idea of marriage as a matter of personal fulfillment for adults rather than first and foremost as a stable environment for children. Because marriage came to be seen as primarily about adult happiness, divorce boomed in the 1960s and '70s. It has drifted down in the 21st century, but remains double what it was in 1960.
At the same time, the idea that marriage is a necessary precondition for parenthood is withering. Marriage today is treated as optional by many parents, just one of many available paths. As Alito noted in his dissent, fully 40 percent of American births are now to unmarried women. Additionally, more than half of all children will spend some part of their childhoods in a non-nuclear family.
Heterosexuals managed this assault on marital stability without any help from homosexuals, but gay marriage ratifies it.
Requiring that same-sex unions be treated exactly the same as traditional marriages carries an implicit message: It confirms the view that the sexes are interchangeable. Every homosexual couple who raises a child together is choosing to deny that child a parent of the other sex. How will that social experiment turn out?
We have no idea. The social science literature is no help, because same-sex couples have not been studied long enough to make fair comparisons. (The cases studied so far are usually children whose same-sex parents began their married lives in different, heterosexual families.)
What the literature does show unequivocally is that children do best when raised by their married, biological parents. No other family structure, including stepfamilies, comes close. While death and divorce sometimes deny one or both parents to children, and while many single parents are able to raise happy, healthy citizens notwithstanding this hardship, we cannot honestly claim it makes no difference. Children who lose their mothers or fathers grieve for the loss -- often even when they never knew the missing parent. Some children raised by same-sex couples have written of their pain at being separated from one biological parent, despite their love for their same-sex parents.
Adoption is probably the most successful social program we've managed to devise, and most adoptees grow up healthy and happy (my husband and I raised one ourselves). Yet few would argue that adoption makes no difference. An adopted child must grapple with feelings of abandonment. We wouldn't impose adoption on a child if it were possible for his natural parents to raise him, would we?
When a man and a woman marry, the natural outcome is biological children related to both parents. When homosexuals marry, any child raised must lose one natural parent. With gay marriage now the law, the message to heterosexuals is to continue to devalue the biological and social importance of mothers and fathers, and to discount the needs of children.
If there's a way, post-Obergefell, to convince heterosexuals that, on the contrary, mothers and fathers are indispensable, I'd love to hear about it.
The Real Goal of the Same-Sex Marriage Movement
7/1/2015 12:01:00 AM - Ben Shapiro
Late last week, after the Supreme Court of the United States declared without any Constitutional basis that the Constitution mandates same-sex marriages be state legitimized across the nation, a disquieting level of triumphalism broke out from coast to coast. The president shined lights representing the gay pride rainbow flag on the White House -- a gross boot-on-the-throat display from an anti-religious leader. Corporations, undoubtedly fearful of the consequences of ending up on the wrong side of the riotous left, began tweeting out rainbow symbols. News outlets similarly embraced the rainbow symbol, as though it were uncontroversial to do so; BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and Mashable all turned their logos rainbow, with BuzzFeed's Ben Smith explaining, "We firmly believe that for a number of issues, including civil rights, women's rights, anti-racism, and LGBT equality, there are not two sides."
Let's move beyond the romantically idiotic language of Justice Kennedy's decision. The notion that gay rights advocates and their allies, who have spent decades suggesting that the institution of marriage represents patriarchal oppression, love and respect marriage so much that they wish to join in its binds, is inane. And the idea that the gay rights movement desperately seeks the tax assistance available to male-female married couples was made false long ago with the promises of civil unions.
No, the gay rights movement and the broader American left celebrated the same-sex marriage decision in wild fashion because the decision established two fundamental notions: First, that government has replaced God in the moral pantheon of the United States; second, that the new god-government has the power to root out and destroy any God-based institutions, destroying the social capital and fabric that holds together the nation.
The emotion that greeted Justice Kennedy's decision reeks of religious fervor. In ancient Israel, the Jews cheered ecstatically each Yom Kippur when the High Priest emerged from the Holy of Holies; that signified God's acceptance of the repentance of the people. This weekend's Dionysian displays mirrored that sort of delirious jubilation with Justice Kennedy as a stand-in for God: He declared the fundamental morality of homosexuality, not merely its legality. Kennedy went so far as to declare that the government could confer "dignity" on relationships. Now, the notion that the gay rights movement seeks the "dignity" of marriage is similarly ridiculous -- movements that seek "dignity" do not hold parades featuring the Seattle Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and a bevy of chaps in assless chaps. But they do seek the "dignity" of being told by a higher authority that their actions are right, just and good.
With God safely shunted to the side in favor of Justice Kennedy, the next step in the gay rights movement will be the smashing of idolators -- namely, those who cling to their religion and church in spite of Justice Kennedy's New New Testament. Leftists have already moved to ban nonprofit status for religious institutions that refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages; leftists have already sued into oblivion religious business owners who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. It will not stop there. Religious schools will be targeted. Then, so will homeschooling programs. The secular religion of the left has been set free to pursue its own crusade against the infidel.
Religious institutions were the key social glue binding Americans together; we trust one another because we share values, beliefs and social institutions with them. With all three of those elements being memory-holed by the government in favor of self-expression, social capital will disintegrate; our trust in each other will fall apart, and government will fill the gap. With this week's judicial tyranny, leftists move one step closer to their ultimate goal, as expressed at the 2012 Democratic National Convention: "Government is the only thing we all belong to." And that will be an ugly America indeed.
Supreme Court Disasters
6/30/2015 12:01:00 AM - Thomas Sowell
Many people are looking at the recent Supreme Court decisions about ObamaCare and same-sex marriage in terms of whether they think these are good or bad policies. That is certainly a legitimate concern, for both those who favor those policies and those who oppose them.
But there is a deeper and more long-lasting impact of these decisions that raise the question whether we are still living in America, where "we the people" are supposed to decide what kind of society we want, not have our betters impose their notions on us.
The Constitution of the United States says that the federal government has only those powers specifically granted to it by the Constitution -- and that all other powers belong either to the states or to the people themselves.
That is the foundation of our freedom, and that is what is being dismantled by both this year's Obamacare decision and last year's ObamaCare decision, as well as by the Supreme Court's decision imposing a redefinition of marriage.
Last year's Supreme Court decision declaring ObamaCare constitutional says that the federal government can order individual citizens to buy the kind of insurance the government wants them to buy, regardless of what the citizens themselves prefer.
The Constitution gave the federal government no such power, but the Supreme Court did. It did so by citing the government's power to tax, even though the ObamaCare law did not claim to be taxing.
This year's ObamaCare decision likewise ignored the actual words of the law, and decided that the decisions of 34 states not to participate in ObamaCare Exchanges, even to get federal subsidies, would not prevent those federal subsidies to be paid anyway, to Exchanges up by the federal government itself.
When any branch of government can exercise powers not authorized by either statutes or the Constitution, "we the people" are no longer free citizens but subjects, and our "public servants" are really our public masters. And America is no longer America. The freedom for which whole generations of Americans have fought and died is gradually but increasingly being taken away from us with smooth and slippery words.
This decision makes next year's choice of the next President of the United States more crucial than ever, because with that office goes the power to nominate justices of the Supreme Court. Democrats have consistently nominated people who shared their social vision and imposed their policy preferences, too often in disregard of the Constitution.
Republicans have complained about it but, when the power of judicial appointment was in the hands of Republican presidents, they have too often appointed justices who participated in the dismantling of the Constitution -- and usually for the kinds of social policies preferred by Democrats.
Chief Justices appointed by Republican presidents have made landmark decisions for which there was neither Constitutional authority nor either evidence or logic. The first was Earl Warren.
When Chief Justice Warren said that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal," he was within walking distance of an all-black public high school that sent a higher percentage of its graduates on to college than any white public high school in Washington. As far back as 1899, that school's students scored higher on tests than two of the city's three white academic public high schools.
Nevertheless, Chief Justice Warren's unsubstantiated assumption led to years of school busing across the country that was as racially divisive as it was educationally futile.
Chief Justice Warren Burger, also appointed by a Republican president, gave us the "disparate impact" notion that statistical disparities imply discrimination. That notion has created a whole statistical shakedown racket, practiced by government itself and by private race hustlers alike.
And now Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by George W. Bush, gives the federal government the power to order us to buy whatever insurance they want us to buy. With that entering wedge, is there anything they cannot force us to do, regardless of the Constitution?
Can the Republicans -- or the country -- afford to put another mushy moderate in the White House, who can appoint more mushy moderates to the Supreme Court?
Supremes: Romance Trumps Process
Debra J. Saunders
6/30/2015 12:01:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
San Francisco changed America. When then-Mayor Gavin Newsom opened City Hall to same-sex marriages during the 2004 Winter of Love, he had determined to "put a human face on discrimination." The long line of couples eager to tie the knot appealed to the public's romantic side. When two people are in love and want to commit to each other for the rest of their lives, activists asked, how can the government say no?
That sentiment permeates Friday's Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. "In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in an opinion supported by all four justices appointed by a Democrat. "Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law."
San Francisco spent the weekend celebrating this victory for gay and lesbian couples. For good reason: This gay-friendly city moved public opinion to the point that a majority of Americans supports same-sex marriage. The days and nights of cowering in a closet are over.
Consider how quickly and overwhelmingly public opinion shifted. In 2000, 61 percent of California voters approved a ballot measure that limited marriage to one man and one woman. After Newsom turned City Hall into a chapel of love in 2004, 14 states banned same-sex marriage and Sen. Dianne Feinstein concluded the San Francisco weddings were "too much, too fast, too soon." Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barbara Boxer defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
At the time, I warned, "If Newsom can ignore a law he doesn't like, why shouldn't everyone else in the Special City do likewise?" Likewise state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, warned that if the courts upheld Newsom's nuptials, then "local elected officials throughout the state would have license to ignore any state laws they disagree with, whether for personal, philosophical or political reasons."
In May 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban by a 4-3 vote. From City Hall's steps, Newsom famously crowed, "This door's wide open now. It's going to happen, whether you like it or not."
Months later, 52 percent of California voters approved a constitutional measure to ban same-sex marriage. The state Supreme Court upheld the will of the voters, but federal courts overturned Proposition 8. (Friday's Obergefell vs. Hodges ruling settled cases that originated in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.)
I always thought advocates should put a measure to legalize same-sex marriage on the ballot -- add in protections for religious objections and a ban on polygamy and they would have had my vote with a smile. Often, however, culture doesn't change in neat steps as you think it should. So I celebrate that gay and lesbian friends, as well as their children, feel more secure in the eyes of the law. Yes, they are loved.
The romantic in me rejoices. The lover of states' -- and voters' -- rights mourns. I cannot celebrate five judges imposing their view of marriage by fiat. I cannot ignore that Kennedy waited to do so until same-sex marriage was popular. Public opinion can turn on a dime. Not long ago, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton opposed same-sex marriage when that view was popular. Now that same position makes someone a "hater." I wonder: What punishment will the five potentates impose on the newly politically unpopular?
The Formal End to Judeo-Christian America
6/30/2015 12:01:00 AM - Dennis Prager
The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the redefinition of marriage seals the end of America as the Founders envisioned it.
From well before 1776 until the second half of the 20th century, the moral values of the United States were rooted in the Bible and its God.
Unlike Europe, which defined itself as exclusively Christian, America became the first Judeo-Christian society. The American Founders were Christians -- either theologically or culturally -- but they were rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures. Even Americans who could not affirm traditional Christian or Jewish theology affirmed the centrality of God to ethics. Americans, from the Founders on, understood that without God, there is no moral truth, only moral opinion -- and assumed that those truths were to be gleaned from the Bible more than anywhere else.
Beginning with the Supreme Court's ban on nondenominational school prayer in 1962, the same-sex marriage decision has essentially completed the state's secularization of American society. This is one thing about which both right and left, religious and secular, can agree. One side may rejoice over the fact, and the other may weep, but it is a fact.
And what has replaced Judaism, Christianity, Judeo-Christian values and the Bible?
The answer is: feelings. More and more Americans rely on feelings to make moral decisions. The heart has taken the place of the Bible.
Years ago, I recorded an interview with a Swedish graduate student. I began by asking her whether she believed in God. Of course not. Did she believe in religion? Of course not.
"Where, then, do you get your notion of right and wrong?" I asked.
"From my heart," she responded.
That is why five members of the Supreme Court have redefined marriage. They consulted their hearts.
That is understandable. Any religious conservative who does not acknowledge homosexuals' historic persecution or does not understand gays who desire to marry lacks compassion.
But let's be honest. This lack of compassion is more than matched by the meanness expressed by the advocates of same-sex marriage. They have rendered those who believe that marriage should remain a man-woman institution the most vilified group in America today.
It is the heart -- not the mind, not millennia of human experience, nor any secular or religious body of wisdom -- that has determined that marriage should no longer be defined as the union of a man and a woman.
It is the heart, not the mind, that has concluded that gender has no significance. That is the essence of the Brave New World being ushered in. For the first time in recorded history, whole societies are announcing that gender has no significance. Same-sex marriage is, above all else, the statement that male and female mean nothing, are completely interchangeable, and, yes, don't even objectively exist, because you are only the gender you feel you are. That explains the "T" in "LGBT." The case for same-sex marriage is dependent on the denial of sexual differences.
It is the heart, not the mind, that has concluded that all a child needs is love, not a father and mother.
And therein lies one of the reasons that the notion of obedience to religion is so loathed by the cultural left. Biblical Judaism and Christianity repeatedly dismiss the heart as a moral guide.
Moreover, the war to replace God, Judeo-Christian values and the Bible as moral guides is far from over. What will this lead to?
Here are three likely scenarios:
1. Becoming more and more like Western Europe, which has more or less created the first godless and religion-less societies in history. Among the consequences are less marriage and the birth of far fewer children.
2. More and more ostracizing -- eventually outlawing -- of religious Jews and Christians, clergy, and institutions that refuse to perform same-sex weddings.
3. An America increasingly guided by people's hearts.
If you trust the human heart, you should feel confident about the future. If you don't, you should be scared. Judeo-Christian values have made America, despite its flaws, uniquely free and prosperous and the greatest force for good in the world. Without those values, all of that will change.
Alexander, Murray Bill Tightens the Screws of Mandated Assessments
6/30/2015 12:01:00 AM - Jane Robbins
Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Heidi Huber, founder of Operation Opt Out Ohio.
Parents across the nation are in open revolt against the testing mania that has seized public schools under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Common Core national standards. In some states, thousands of students — 200,000 in New York alone — are refusing the “mandatory” assessments. One would think the Washington politicos who are writing the NCLB reauthorization bill would take note of this widespread rebellion and would ease — or better still, eliminate — the federal testing requirements. But unlike the repentant thief who returns the loot, the federal government never willingly relinquishes power it has stolen from the states.
Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are collaborating on an NCLB rewrite dubbed the “Every Child Achieves Act” (ECAA). This bill maintains NCLB’s requirement of administering annual assessments in English and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But ECAA doesn’t ignore the “opt out” movement – in fact, it adds language that effectively encourages the states to lower the boom on noncompliant students and parents.
Under ECAA (as under NCLB), state assessments must “[m]easure the annual progress of not less than 95% of all students . . . .” But while NCLB applies this requirement only to the subset of low-income schools that receive federal Title I funding, ECAA extends the requirement to all schools by making it part of the mandatory state accountability system. If ECAA passes, expect USED to ramp up its threats against states that have too many opt-outs and thus fail in their commitment to ensure 95% participation.
During recent debate on ECAA, an amendment was added that nominally protects the right to opt out of assessments: “Nothing in this part shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent or guardian to not have the parent or guardian’s child participate” in the federally mandated assessments. But this language wouldn’t apply unless a state or locality has a law affirmatively protecting the right to opt out, which few do. And while this language could prohibit USED from punishing parents or students who choose to opt out, it would not appear to affect measures taken against states, districts, or schools. If the bill intends to protect the states against retaliatory measures from USED, it should say so. It doesn’t.
ECAA also continues to mandate that results of high-stakes assessments be used in state accountability systems. For example, the bill requires states to use assessment scores, progress toward readiness for “college and the workforce,” and high-school graduation rates as a “substantial” portion of a school’s grade. So not only must states ensure 95% participation in the assessments, they must use the results to rate their schools.
Is Congress so disconnected from its constituents that it fails to understand the deep-seated objections to these mandatory assessments? Apparently parental complaints have been drowned out by the entreaties of testing giants such as Pearson Education, Educational Testing Service, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and McGraw-Hill, which have protected their lucrative testing turf by spending a combined $20 million on lobbying efforts.
The companies get rich and the federal government gets increased control. It will be a win-win for the public/private partnership cronies, while students will lose on every front.
Leadership is bull rushing the No Child Left Behind reauthorization bill through. But all has not been lost, at least not yet. Hopefully, people will realize what’s going on and will demand that Congress prohibit the Feds from dictating to the states how often and in what subjects children must be tested.