The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Our Chronically Relaxed President Approaches Vacation Time


The morning’s news:

The White House late Wednesday confirmed that President Obama and his family will return to Martha’s Vineyard for two weeks of vacation in August.

I’m sure everyone who has griped and will gripe about folks on therRight griping about the president’s vacation denounced this cinematic scene, right?

Does the president really need to relax these days? As mentioned in the Jolt . . . 

President Obama was offered weed in that pool hall in Colorado. Kind of superfluous, isn’t it? Does this look like a guy who needs to relax more?

Forget the relaxants, does anyone have any stimulants to offer him? Sure, caffeine might make him jittery, but right now the guy with the highest-pressure, biggest-consequence job in America is showing all the stress of a late-night radio DJ. He’s got less anxiety than a mid-decade Matthew McConnaughey character. If only the country was doing “alright, alright, alright.”

We know why the president turned down the pot he was offered, of course: Michelle won’t let him have the brownies. The choom’s fine, but she draws the line at the sugar and calories.

There’s a humanitarian crisis on the border, the Middle East is burning down, the midterms look set to be disastrous for Democrats, and Obama’s still convinced he’s LeBron James. If he means cramping when everything is on the line, then yes. Congressional Democrats would probably say LeBron is the better teammate. Ironically, LeBron James is feeling more pressure than the president of the United States right now. But LeBron probably spends more time worrying about the future. President Obama isn’t LeBron James. He’s the Brazilian goalie.

Obama’s got two and a half years left in office, and he’s got high school senioritis. He’s doing more fundraisers than Jerry Lewis.

This morning Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Sheldon Adelson call for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Finally, the little guys are making the case that amnesty can work for them! You know, the day the Gates Foundation says to its founder, “Sorry, clean out your office — Carlos Slim is willing to do your job for less” then we can talk about the cost-benefit analysis of legalizing those who came here illegally.

The Daily Mail apologized to George Clooney for false reporting . . . and Clooney rejected the apology. The poor guy, such a victim. He’s got it rough. He lectured the newspaper “the coverup is always worse.” Then he went to another Obama fundraiser.

Tags: Barack Obama

Swell: Audit Reveals VA ‘Systematically Overpaying’ up to 13,000 Staff


Big, busy Jolt to close out the week. I have to parcel it out in sections . . . 

And You Thought You Had Heard All of the Bad News from the VA!

Hey, remember the VA?

The scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs is systematically overpaying clerks, administrators and other support staff, according to internal audits, draining tens of millions of dollars that could be used instead to ease the VA’s acute shortage of doctors and nurses.

The jobs of some 13,000 VA support staff have been flagged by auditors as potentially misclassified, in many cases resulting in inflated salaries that have gone uncorrected for as long as 14 years.

Rather than moving quickly to correct these costly errors, VA officials two years ago halted a broad internal review mandated by federal law. As a result, the overpayments continue.

Moreover, in the two years since thousands of misclassified jobs were identified, hundreds of additional positions have been filled at improperly high salaries. Internal VA documents obtained by The Huffington Post show that between September 2013 and May 2014, for instance, overpayments in annual salaries for the latter jobs alone came to $24.4 million, not counting benefits.

Tags: Veterans Affairs


Ellis Island Did Not Accept Unattended Children


Many Americans have powerful beliefs about our previous eras of immigration . . . and those beliefs are not necessarily accurate.

A short while ago, I tweeted out:

That is just flat false, as the Ellis Island website reveals:

If immigrants had any of the diseases proscribed by the immigration laws, or were too ill or feeble-minded to earn a living, they would be deported. Sick children age 12 or older were sent back to Europe alone and were released in the port from which they had come. Children younger than 12 had to be accompanied by a parent. There were many tearful scenes as families with a sick child decided who would go and who would stay.

UPDATE: Two other laws from the Ellis Island era of mass legal immigration that demonstrate the United States never intended to be the destination for unattended children:

1891 Immigration Act:

Any person who could become a public charge on society was also not allowed to enter. The immigrants who came to the United States carrying a contagious disease were also not permitted entry. Anyone who had been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or any other crime such as any activity deemed contrary to the beliefs and standards of society such as polygamy were not granted citizenship. Any person whose ticket was paid for by another was not allowed to enter into the country as well. The United States wanted only those who could care for themselves with out the assistance of others.

The 1907 Immigration Act prohibited “all children under sixteen years of age, unaccompanied by one or both of their parents.”

Tags: Immigration , Illegal Immigration

The United States Never Volunteered to Be the World’s Orphanage


From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Glenn Beck’s Charity is the Best of America. It’s Also No Substitute for a Coherent National Immigration Policy, nor a Secure Border.

Glenn Beck is a big-hearted man:

Glenn Beck on Tuesday announced that he will be bringing tractor-trailers full of food, water, teddy bears and soccer balls to McAllen, Texas on July 19 as a way to help care for some of the roughly 60,000 underage refugees who have crossed into America illegally in 2014.

[Note from Jim: Notice the use of the term "refugee." Is that term really accurate for all of these children? Aren’t refugees usually fleeing a war, anarchy, or a natural disaster? Do you get refugee status if you’re leaving an area with a high crime rate?]

Beck said he will be joined by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and a number of pastors and rabbis.

“Through no fault of their own, they are caught in political crossfire,” Beck said of the children. “And while we continue to put pressure on Washington and change its course of lawlessness, we must also help. It is not either, or. It is both. We have to be active in the political game, and we must open our hearts.”

“Everybody is telling me I’m seeing subscriptions down; I’m seeing Mercury One donations down,” Beck said, growing emotional. “I’m getting violent emails from people who say I’ve ‘betrayed the Republic.’ Whatever. I’ve never taken a position more deadly to my career than this — and I have never, ever taken a position that is more right than this.”

“We sure could use your help,” Beck continued. “I would like to ask you to donate to If you don’t want to be involved in this, you don’t have to be. You can donate and earmark your money to be for preserving American history; we have a museum to build. . . . You could do it to help education. . . . We’re building hospitals. . . . But all the things that we do, they’re not about politics, because politics is turning us ugly. Politics is the vehicle that is driving us to the fundamental transformation of America.”

We’re fools if we criticize Glenn for his massive act of charity . . . but I also think we as Americans need to loudly proclaim that we are not set up to be, nor have we volunteered to be, the orphanage for the rest of the world. We may help out these kids because we’re kind-hearted souls; some will say it’s the Christian thing to do. But we’re not obligated to do this. This isn’t our responsibility and this isn’t our fault. The parents of those kids are the ones who should be taking care of them — feeding them, clothing them, sheltering them and educating them. And I don’t think it’s cold-hearted to ask whether our immediate effort to take care of these kids — because they so desperately need care — is setting us up to be their long-term caretaker.

We, the citizenry, did not make the choices that led us to this point.

Okay, a few of us did. Businesses, big and small, made the decision to employ illegal immigrants in violation of the law. A generation of Washington politicians made the decision to under-react to a largely open border with Mexico, even after 9/11. That same generation of politicians, running a government infrastructure capable of reading all of our e-mails and vacuuming up the metadata from all of our cellular phones, also shrugged as millions of visitors overstayed their visas and disappeared from the system. Local governments that will nail you for an expired parking meter announced they were “sanctuary cities” that would not cooperate with efforts to deport those here illegally.

Most of us had nothing to do with all of that. We lived our lives, periodically expressing the view that our immigration laws ought to be enforced, our borders ought to be secure, and legalizing an illegal immigrant is unfair to those who were willing to go through the (too-long, too-complicated, too-bureaucratic) process of naturalization — the ones who should be welcomed with open arms. For this view, we were called racist, hateful, and xenophobic.

And now we’re stuck with a humanitarian crisis on our border, one driven in part by the perception in some Central American countries that the United States is offering “permisos” for children who cross the border illegally — a rumor that picked up steam after President Obama announced he would not deport children who had come into the country illegally with their parents.

Some of the folks labeled “restrictionists” — I’ll let you decide whether that’s the fairest or most accurate description of that side of the debate — argued that just publicly discussing an amnesty creates new waves of illegal immigration, as foreign citizens rush to get over here to be in place to enjoy the amnesty. Give them credit for their ability to foresee the consequences of policy options.

President Obama could have mitigated, if not resolved this issue early on with a clear statement from the Oval Office declaring, “There are no ‘permisos.’ There will not be an amnesty. You have been lied to, or misinformed, by smugglers who want to take advantage of you. U.S. immigration law is still in effect. You will not be allowed to stay. Turn around and return to your homes. If you wish to live in America, begin the process of applying for a green card and be prepared to be patient.”

President Obama will never say things that simply because he wants to enact an amnesty — or at least a “comprehensive immigration reform” with “a path to citizenship” for those who entered the country illegally.

Last night’s presidential statement was sort-of, kind-of in the neighborhood when he said that the children were “unlikely” to be allowed to stay. But are poor families in Central America going to hear that? Or do they perceive that as “there’s a chance your children will be allowed to stay?”

So give those kids soccer balls and teddy bears, hot meals and fresh water, real cots, real blankets, and real clothes. And then give them a plane ticket back to their own country.

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Immigration , Border Security , Glenn Beck , Barack Obama

Obama’s Approval Rating Today Matches Bush in September 2006


Reminder: This is not a popular president.


Back in September 2006, heading into a midterm election cycle as President Obama is today, on the same RCP average, President George W. Bush was . . . around 41 percent approval, around 55 percent disapproval.

But hey, you know . . . maybe President Obama will win back Americans’ hearts by going out for burritos.

Tags: Barack Obama , George W. Bush


President Obama, Hard at Work Again


No time for a presidential trip to the border, but time for three fundraisers and a trip to a brewery to shoot some pool!

Was it too hot to golf?

Then again, once you’ve run out to a campaign rally the day after a terror attack that kills a U.S. ambassador, it’s clear you don’t care about “optics” anymore.

Tags: Barack Obama

Identifying Those Relatively Apolitical Americans with Conservative Instincts


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt . . . 

Identifying those Relatively Apolitical Americans with Conservative Instincts

There’s a demographic out there that I can describe but not label.

These folks are instinctively conservative, but probably don’t apply that label to themselves. They work for a living, or they are looking for work. They can’t stand what they perceive as whining.

But they don’t identify with the Republican party. They look at the leadership of the party, at least in Washington — House speaker John Boehner, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, RNC chair Reince Priebus — and don’t feel any sense of connection to them.

In fact, they don’t really relate to or connect with any particular politician. They either tune out politics as much as possible, or they find the political process to be dominated by adults acting like children and bickering in a selfish, obstinate manner.

One reason they don’t feel any particular attachment to the current crop of Republican leaders — or perhaps the last Republican presidential standard-bearer, Mitt Romney — is that they’re suspicious, or at least wary of Wall Street, or most big companies. They may work for a big company but they don’t feel a particular loyalty or identification with their employer.

These folks might sound like potential Tea Partiers, but at some point, these folks either tuned out the Tea Party or got turned off by some of the more fiery rhetoric. The Tea Party rallies almost inevitably feature somebody dressed up in Revolutionary War garb, and that’s not who they are.

However, Common Core drives them nuts because they don’t understand the homework their kid is bringing home. They feel sorry for all of the children from Central America coming over the border right now, but they don’t feel that taking care of those kids should be America’s duty.

When these folks get galvanized, it’s more often by a figure outside the political arena who articulates a conservative value. Think of Tim Tebow, or Dr. Ben Carson, or “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe — soon to return to CNN — lamenting America’s lawsuit-minded culture and the loss of a sense of shame. Or Gene Simmons of Kiss, arguing that it’s silly to demonize the rich, and important to assimilate immigrants and to stand by Israel in the Middle East.

Or Adam Carolla, raging against political correctness . . . 

It’s weird that comedians are on the list of people who are offending other people with the things they say. It’s counterintuitive. It’s like — I think every year Variety or the Hollywood Reporter or one of those magazines comes out with a list of celebrities or notables that hate the gay community. Whatever it is. I was on that list, because in 2011 I made a joke about Chaz Bono. Jesus Christ, if you can’t joke about Chaz Bono, then we’re all through! They had Tracy Morgan, several of the people on the list were comedians. And when did this start up? They’re comedians, onstage, making jokes! They may mean it half the time, but they’re still making jokes, why are they held to the same standard as statesmen?

Here’s Nicole Curtis, host of “Rehab Addict” on HGTV, in a February Facebook post:

In the past couple of weeks, I have had a few unpleasant experiences with women who actually had the nerve to state that they are a minority business owner (because they are a woman) and that should do what ? This is where I bang my head — I am a business owner who happens to be a woman — don’t judge me on my gender — judge me on my work — ladies — you want equal ground — gain it by being equal in professionalism and quality of work — not by making excuses that you are a small minority business owner. It brings the rest of us down. I scrubbed floors for 10 years and worked my rear off to get where I am at-don’t think for a minute that I’m the person to whine to that you should be able to short step the process of dedication because you are a woman — last time I checked, I am too. We are all given opportunities when we put the time in and develop the drive — teach your daughters that that’s how you get ahead — no entitlement here, please.

Even a bit of chef-turned-TV-travelogue host Anthony Bourdain, in his libertarian moments:

In New York, where I live, the appearance of a gun — anywhere — is a cause for immediate and extreme alarm. Yet, in much of America, I have come to find, it’s perfectly normal. I’ve walked many times into bars in Missouri, Nevada, Texas, where absolutely everyone is packing. I’ve sat down many times to dinner in perfectly nice family homes where — at end of dinner — Mom swings open the gun locker and invites us all to step into the back yard and pot some beer cans. That may not be Piers Morgan’s idea of normal. It may not be yours. But that’s a facet of American life that’s unlikely to change.

I may be a New York lefty — with all the experiences, prejudices and attitudes that one would expect to come along with that, but I do NOT believe that we will reduce gun violence — or reach any kind of consensus — by shrieking at each other. Gun owners — the vast majority of them I have met — are NOT idiots. They are NOT psychos. They are not even necessarily Republican (New Mexico, by the way, is a Blue State). They are not hicks, right wing “nuts” or necessarily violent by nature. And if “we” have any hope of ever changing anything in this country in the cause of reason — and the safety of our children — we should stop talking about a significant part of our population as if they were lesser, stupider or crazier than we are.

It’s almost as if the political arena de-legitimizes the voices of its participants. But when a figure untainted by the 24-7 hypocritical rugby scrum that is our politics expresses what we would consider to be a conservative value, a lot of folks who aren’t into politics applaud.

Am I describing instinctively conservative populists? Or is this the “libertarian populist” phenomenon described by Ben Domenech and Conn Carroll?

Tags: Polling , Conservatism , Culture

Cleveland Rocks . . . the 2016 Republican Convention.


Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee announced the selection of Cleveland to host the 2016 Republican National Committee.

Hosting the GOP national convention and officially nominating the presidential candidate in a given state does not help that presidential candidate win the state. Republicans did not win Florida in 2012 (Tampa). They did not win Minnesota in 2008 (St. Paul). They did not win New York in 2004 (New York City). They did not win Pennsylvania in 2000 (Philadelphia). They did not win California in 1996 (San Diego). The last time Republicans won the state that hosted the GOP convention was 1992, when Houston hosted them.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats did not win North Carolina in 2012 (Charlotte). They won Colorado in 2008 (Denver), Massachusetts in 2004 (Boston), California in 2000 (Los Angeles), and Illinois in 1996 (Chicago).

If a convention host city doesn’t help a party win a state, what does it do? On the margins, it offers a bit of a narrative. Had Republicans picked the other finalist, Dallas, lazy, liberal-leaning reporters would have reiterated all the usual sneers: Republicans are the party of the South, the party of rural America, the party of rednecks, gun-owners, country music, J. R. Ewing and big oil companies, cowboy boots, and so on. Of course, Dallas also symbolizes the Texas jobs boom, the energy boom, and the fact that so many Americans are flocking to the state to live their American dream.

But Priebus said logistics were the preeminent factor in the decision. The 2012 GOP convention hosted 2,286 delegates, 2,125 alternates, and 15,000 credentialed members of the media, and tens of thousands of other uncredentialed media, gawkers, politics junkies, and protesters. The security issues for any host city are huge, both for protesters and as a potential terrorist target.

Ironically, for most participants, host cities are relatively interchangable — hotel rooms, hunts for parking, security barriers and check points, a big arena with spotty wireless and cellular service, and sponsored parties at fancy restaurants.

Another benefit for those who remember the mess in Tampa in 2012 . . . Cleveland doesn’t often encounter hurricanes.

Cleveland’s biggest cheerleader, Hugh Hewitt, is expected to reenact the opening credits to The Drew Carey Show in the near future:

Tags: Cleveland , RNC

Let’s Show Some Compassion at the Border . . . for American Citizens, Too!


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

Let’s Show Some Compassion at the Border . . . for American Citizens, Too!

Of course:

President Obama is holding off for now on seeking new legal authority to send unaccompanied migrant kids back home faster from the Southern border, following criticism that the administration’s planned changes were too harsh.

The Acela Corridor Establishment’s conventional wisdom is that “comprehensive immigration reform” ought to legalize the 11 million or so in the country illegally. The same crowd now insists any proposal involving sending the kids back to their home countries is insufficiently compassionate.

How about some compassion for the communities currently trying to deal with the tsunami of unattended children? Here’s how the AP describes one stretch of our border in Mission, Texas:

The influx of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has grown so large that it now requires its own transportation system: government buses that spend each night idling on a Texas roadside, awaiting the latest arrivals . . . 

Just since October, the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector has made more than 194,000 arrests, nearly triple that of any other sector. In the first week of June alone, agents in this area south of Mission arrested more than 2,800 people, most from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, making it the highest-volume arrest zone on the entire U.S. border. More than 60 percent were children . . . 

Across the river is a garbage dump and a Reynosa slum that reaches nearly to the bank. Smoke from burning garbage sometimes drifts across the river so thick it’s difficult to see. At the river’s edge, discarded pieces of clothing, orange life vests and deflated inner tubes litter the sand.

A few days earlier, as a reporter in a kayak approached a hairpin bend in the river, a cartel sentry on a bluff 20 feet above the river slammed a magazine into his assault rifle. He asked where the paddler had come from and who gave him permission to be there. A radio squawked at his waist. The cartel controls what crosses the river.

That’s part of why Napoleon Garza doesn’t bring his kids here to fish like he did as a child. Garza recently drove through one of the many gaps in the border wall to cut a tree stump from property owned by his uncle.

“When they built the border wall, everything ended because they left a big old gap right here that so happened to be where our land is,” said Garza, 38, who sells firewood for a living.

How about some compassion for the U.S. Border Patrol personnel trying to humanely deal with a problem they were never trained to address? Suddenly they have to do the job of the Centers for Disease Control as well:

Approximately 40 immigrants in detention at one center in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s San Diego Sector have active cases of scabies, a source tells National Review Online, and they could soon be spreading it to the general public.

A Border Patrol agent who helped process illegal immigrants at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station on Sunday tells NRO that the 40 immigrants infected with scabies arrived on a plane that landed July 4, carrying about 140 immigrants total.

The agent says the people at FEMA who are responsible for doing the medical screening of the immigrants before they’re transferred to California should be fired. “Management’s more concerned about processing and getting rid of them as quickly as possible than looking at decontamination,” the agent says. “And [the released illegal immigrants] go out in the community, get on the public transportation, go where they need to go, and it could result in another infestation of scabies being spread everywhere.”

But the San Diego Sector was already dealing with a scabies outbreak when the latest batch of illegal immigrants arrived. Two agents at the Brown Field Border Patrol Station developed rashes on July 3 after processing illegal immigrants from Texas, according to a letter obtained by NRO written by Ron Zermeno, health and safety director of National Border Patrol Council Local 1613. Zermeno confirmed the veracity of the letter and the facts contained therein to NRO.

How about a proposal that anybody who wants these kids to stay in the United States has to open their home to them? The loudest Acela Corridor advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” live their lives far from sustained contact with any actual illegal immigrants. Perhaps there’s an outside chance that they employ some illegal immigrants as gardeners or housekeepers. Perhaps they bus or wait the tables at their favorite restaurants. But they live very far from the problems that mass illegal immigration brings. They certainly don’t face downward pressure on wages from illegal immigrants getting paid under the table. They don’t encounter gangs. They live far from the violence and their only encounter with a drug cartel is a secretive encounter with their smuggled product.

Here’s another proposal: If Obama gets the $2 billion he wants to build the infrastructure to process these illegal immigrants, the holding facilities have to be built in places like Hyde Park in Chicago, the Upper West Side in Manhattan, Billionaire’s Row in San Francisco and Marin County in California, Burlington, Vermont . . . 

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Texas , Border Security , Barack Obama

Like Heck We Can’t Move on from the 1980s!


Following up on Thursday’s 1980s discussion, here’s the long form of the routine I offered on Twitter that afternoon . . . 

As Republicans pick up the pieces from 2012, you are hearing a bit less of the very well-worn refrain, “We need to emulate the model of Ronald Reagan.” And that’s good, because constantly invoking Ronald Reagan probably makes those of us on the right seem like we’re still living in the 1980s, fixated with returning to the ’80s, like we have an Obsession with an Eternal Flame, and we’re just Livin’ on a Prayer.

Let’s be honest about our circumstances: The Tide Is High. We’re up Against All Odds. We feel Jeopardy from a Cult of Personality.

It feels like The End of the Innocence, each time Another One Bites the Dust. The Heat Is On, In a Big Country.

Amid Shattered Dreams, it feels like the economy’s Free Fallin’. With Every Breath You Take, you sense gloom In the Air Tonight. Some say it’s Just the Way It Is.

Hey now, hey now. Don’t Dream It’s Over. Don’t Do Me Like That. Don’t Stop Believin’.

If Beds are Burning, We Didn’t Start the Fire. We Built This City! And We’re Not Going to Take It. It’s time to Shout!

As for the voters? People Are People. That Was Then, This Is Now. Let us be their Sledgehammer!

We’ll get Into the Groove, faster than you can say, Abracadabra!

Now, In the Heat of the Moment, some skeptics may Take on Me, dismissing me as some Goody Two Shoes. Now, Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? Well, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.

If You Don’t Know Me by Now, What I Am is Hungry Like the Wolf. Every Day I Write the Book. And I’m Never Gonna Give You Up.

Remember, in foreign affairs, we Rock the Casbah and have a View to a Kill. We know Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Especially . . . I-Ran.

In economics, we know there’s no such thing as Money for Nothing. We believe in Workin’ for a Livin’, because One Thing Leads to Another. Pretty soon, we’ll be Puttin’ On the Ritz and Back in the High Life Again! Don’t let them tell you it will take The Longest Time.

We believe in Freedom. Freedom! And our Voices Carry, One Way or Another.

Remember, It Ain’t Over until It’s Over.

So in short, my advice is Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Celebrate! And Don’t You Forget about Me.

And don’t let anyone tell you that your thinking is stuck in the ’80s.

Tags: Something Lighter

Is America Better Off or Worse if Conservatives Will Do Anything to Win?


Also in today’s Jolt, a discussion of Kurt Schlichter’s new book and just how far conservatives can or should go to win when they feel the future of our constitutional republic is at stake:

Kurt Schlichter wouldn’t claim to be the next WFB — few of us do, and I suspect that he would similarly roll his eyes at the tired, “you’re no William F. Buckley” sneer from lefties. But Kurt is attempting to do one part of the equation, which is paint a picture of what we’re fighting to achieve. His new book, Conservative Insurgency, is not pure righty wish fulfillment; in Kurt’s vision of the not-so-distant future, things get worse before they get better. And perhaps in response to that national decline, the next generation of conservatives gets tougher — and perhaps a bit more ruthless. One intriguing and troubling aspect of Kurt’s future conservatives is that they’ll do anything to win:

Sixteen years of defying the liberal establishment’s merciless counterinsurgency had endowed them with a ruthlessness that would ensure they would not hesitate to aggressively impose their conservative vision when given the chance. That ethic remains today within the conservative movement, even as critics now question whether the movement has strayed too far from the norms and values it had sought to revitalize.

. . . Even today, the norms and customs that preceded the Obama administration have not been completely restored. A generation of conservatives has arisen that never experienced them; they largely know only political/cultural warfare in which principle does not always take priority over expedience.

[Kurt's fictional future president, Carrie] Marlowe’s “conservative court packing” illustrated the challenge. Faced with a liberal Supreme Court, Marlowe did not hesitate — not even for a second — to drive the impeachment of three liberal justices so she could pack the Court with insurgent jurists. She did the same in lesser courts — Obama had overseen the end of the filibuster to create a majority on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Marlowe engineered a scheme to repack it by adding 10 new seats.

These, and other similarly aggressive actions, brought howls of outrage from liberals. A few more traditional conservative voices objected, but in vain. Sixteen years of facing ruthless aggression by the Obama and Clinton administrations had left the insurgents utterly indifferent to their objections and pleas for mercy.

Kurt envisions a big, effective alliance between the traditional Right and younger, Libertarian-minded voters. As one character describes it:

There was also drug law reform, which would bring in a lot of young people, libertarians, and especially minorities who were seeing a shocking number of their young men locked up. This was a tough bridge for cons to cross — hell, watery-eyed stoners lazing about on their moms’ couches halfheartedly watching reruns of Star Trek: Fifth Generation is everything we hate. But again, this was where conservative principles about small and limited government started crossing streams with our electoral self-interest.

Did you ever see Ghostbusters? Not the remake but the original from back in the 1980s? Do you remember the power of crossing the streams? They had these lasers and if you crossed the streams it was really bad, except at the end of the movie they did that to destroy the giant marshmallow man. Anyway, we crossed the streams with drug law reform. I guess liberalism was the giant marshmallow man. And we sure fried it too.

Kurt’s a fan of Easter eggs as well. From one section featuring an interview with a future Hollywood producer:

[Honda makes no effort to lower his voice as he speaks into his phone about the pioneering conservative comedy series about men under siege by a liberal world that he helped produce. "Cam, my man, here's my idea. Ready? We reboot Dudes as a movie . . . Listen, three words. Channing. Tatum. Junior. Hello? You still there? Yeah, well you talk to Jim, then my people will talk to yours. Two words. Ka. Ching! Bye now!"]

Tags: Conservatism , Conservatives

Hey, Doesn’t Anyone Want to Be Graded by Mike Bloomberg?


When you see this detail in coverage of anti-gun former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group, and how it will evaluate candidates this cycle . . . 

Bloomberg initially wanted to award lawmakers grades of A through F, much like the NRA’s scorecards, but he has shifted the strategy in favor of a public questionnaire on key issues to motivate voters.

. . . doesn’t it make you wonder how many endangered red-state Democrats — or Republicans — thought that the line, “Rated ‘A’ by anti-gun former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg” would be more likely to be used in an attack ad against them than by their own campaigns?

Above: Passionately anti-gun former New York City mayor
Michael Bloomberg, holding a gun. Photo by Getty.

Tags: Michael Bloomberg , Guns , Midterms

With Midterms Four Months Away, Dashboard Is Blinking Red for Democrats


Big week ahead! The first Morning Jolt of the week kicks off with “Reform Conservatives” getting the rock-star treatment, a prescription and a forecast for a Conservative Insurgency, a 1980s-minded pep talk for the Right, and then this look ahead to November . . . 

With Midterms Four Months Away, Dashboard Is Blinking Red for Democrats

John Couvillon of JMC Enterprises in Louisiana examined the turnout in states that had contested primaries for both Democrats and Republicans in statewide races this year and four years ago — 14 states so far.

Here’s what he found, compared to four years ago:

Republican enthusiasm (percentage-wise) is stronger than it was in 2010, and (2) overall turnout volume is lower than in 2010, although Democratic turnout volume has deceased far more than Republican turnout.

Republicans made up 55 percent of the turnout four years ago; this year they’re 63 percent of the turnout. Of course, Democrats may have a particularly boring or lopsided set of primaries this cycle.

Politico concludes:

With four months until Election Day, Republicans are as close to winning the Senate as they’ve been since losing it in 2006. They’ve landed top recruits to take on first-term senators in New Hampshire and Colorado, nominated credible female candidates in open-seat contests in Michigan and Iowa, protected all of their incumbents from tea party challenges and thwarted more conservative candidates that could have hurt the GOP’s chances in states like North Carolina and Georgia.

You notice how it feels like Obamacare dropped out of the news, right? Don’t worry. You’ll be hearing about it again in the fall:

Most state health insurance rates for 2015 are scheduled to be approved by early fall, and most are likely to rise, timing that couldn’t be worse for Democrats already on defense in the midterms.

. . . With Democrats looking to hang on to Senate seats in many Republican-leaning states, they’ll be hoping that the final numbers don’t come in anywhere near the 24.6 percent hike that report from the anti-Obamacare Heritage Foundation projected for a family of four in Arkansas, or even the 13.1 percent increase in Alaska or 12.4 percent in Louisiana.

So far, although no state has finalized its rate, 21 have posted bids for 2015. Average preliminary premiums went up in all 21, though only a few by double digits.

We know the Democrats will want to change the discussion to a new set of issues — climate change! Infrastructure spending! Workplace inequality!

But the “shiny object” strategy may not work well with so many worsening crises at home and abroad, as Da Tech Guy notices:

It’s hard to fathom now, but one of the major issues of the 2012 presidential campaign was Mitt Romney’s 15-year leadership of the Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital, which he co-founded.

Two years later President Obama, who of course defeated Romney in ’12, faces multiple crises, including scandals involving IRS targeting of conservative groups, deadly waiting lists at VA hospitals, as well as a collapsing Iraq, Russia’s seizure of Ukraine, a still stagnant economy, and 300,000 illegal alien children crossing over our lightly watched southern border.

None of these hotspots have anything to do with Bain Capital, other than, remotely, the rotten Obama economy.

Above, the rabbit that attacked President Jimmy Carter
in his canoe on April 20, 1979
, is pardoned by President Obama

at the White House Fourth of July ceremony.

Tags: Barack Obama , Senate Democrats , Midterm

Missing the 1980s Era of Nationally Shared Cultural Experiences


Today’s Jolt also featured a look at our ongoing 1980s pop-cultural revival. Readers of The Weed Agency probably noticed the music and other little cultural markers of the decade in the early chapters, revealing a bit of my Eighties obsession.

This Section of the Morning Jolt Comes With Its Own 80s Music Playlist

The other night I caught a few episodes of National Geographic Television’s series,The 80s: The Decade That Made Us and found myself feeling intense nostalgia.

We’re in a boom time for 80s flashbacks. AMC is offering “Halt and Catch Fire,” an intriguing drama series set in the nascent personal-computer industry in Dallas in 1983.

This is a commanding haircut.

There’s a new album out from Michael Jackson. The multiplex features the Transformers again, as well as a remake of 21 Jump Street, and a slew of more 1980s remakes are on the way. A new Star Wars film will be back in a few more years. The Duke Boys are riding again in a commercial for Auto Trader. Two summers ago, Gotye gave us a song that feels like it came from a long-lost Sting or Peter Gabriel cassette. You can’t tell me that those robots of Daft Punk wouldn’t have fit in well with Devo’s red plastic flowerpot hats, Thomas Dolby’s blinding science, or Toni Basil’s so-fine cheerleader Mickey.

Macintosh HD:Users:jimgeraghty:Pictures:Daft Punk x Storm Troopers.jpg
“The Emperor has judged you overplayed.”

Even the iconic A-ha “Take on Me” video reappeared in the form of a Volkswagen commercial late last year.

Watching National Geographic’s fast-moving documentary series on the major world events and cultural trends of the 1980s, I was struck by how many events seemed like truly nationally shared experiences. It is entirely possible that I am misremembering and romanticizing my years of childhood and early adolescence. But am I wrong that almost everybody who was old enough to understand the event remembers the Challenger explosion? Or how about Hands Across America? Laughing about “New Coke”? I wasn’t old enough to watch The Day After, but I remember some of the hubbub and news coverage of it. I was stunned to learn that an estimated 100 million Americans watched it. (The U.S. population in 1983 when it aired was 233 million!)

We have a cornucopia of entertainment, news, lifestyle, and media options that were absolutely unthinkable back in the 1980s, and there are a lot of advantages to the modern world. Today Bruce Springsteen’s “57 Channels and Nothing On” would be considered a crappy basic-cable package. We’re in the era of a couple hundred channels, and as a result, very little, if anything, gets our collective attention anymore. This means nationally shared experiences are fewer and far between.

When VH1 creates its “I Love (whatever we end up calling this decade),” the comedians and minor celebrities will spend time discussing “major” pop-culture phenomena, figures, and, trends that I simply never encounter.

For example, as far as I can tell, the Kardashian family consists of Kim . . . and the other ones. Breaking Bad was one of the most-discussed television shows of recent years — a cover subject in National Review! — and its biggest audience was . . . 6.4 million viewers.

The performers of the top five singles on iTunes right now:

1) Five Seconds of Summer
3) Sam Smith
4) Ariana Grande
5) Nico & Vinz

I have never heard of any of these people. “Ariana Grande” is something I hear called out at Starbucks.

I don’t think this just reflects me being an old fogey. (“You mean older fogey!” — The Couch. Shut up, Jonah’s couch! Get back in the Goldberg File where you belong.) This isn’t me complaining that these kids today play music that sounds like noise. I’m saying that you can have a top-five single in the U.S. and not permeate my cultural bubble, and I think there’s a good chance that these five haven’t permeated your bubble, either.

We’ve seen this Balkanization in the news world, where conservatives believe that there is some sort of news that they think is hugely important, and extensively covered by the media they consume — Kermit Gosnell, Benghazi, the IRS scandal —and that same news barely makes a ripple among the apolitical or “low-information voter.” (Perhaps the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union prompted Americans to ensure they remained “steady-baseline-of-information voters.”)

Maybe the only truly shared national experiences we have in today’s America are in the realm of sports. Perhaps U.S. national-team goalkeeper Tim Howard is the new little baby Jessica stuck in the well.

Tags: 1980s , Culture , Pop Culture

The Tax-Deductible Donation That Enabled Hillary Clinton’s UConn Speech


This morning I Tweeted . . . 

. . . based upon this article in the Washington Post.

University of Connecticut deputy spokesman Tom Breen Tweeted back and wrote in, insisting that it’s inaccurate to say the university paid to bring Hillary Clinton to campus; instead a donor fund specified for guest speakers, the Edmund Fusco Speaker Series, paid the fee.

The university insists that these particular funds are not fungible. Kevin Edwards, the university’s vice president of finance, explained in a letter to the university’s communications office,

the donations supporting the speaker series are restricted to be used for the Speaker Series as defined by the donors in making their donation. Utilizing these contributions for any other purpose would be a breach of donor intent.

The speaker series is administered by the UConn Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization “separate and distinct from the university, but existing solely to support the university.” So the donation that helped fund Hillary Clinton’s speech at the university was tax-deductible.

According to the University’s web site,

The program is sponsored by the Fusco family of New Haven, who created the contemporary issues forum at UConn through a philanthropic gift to celebrate their family’s 90th year in business, as well as the 90th birthday of Edmund Fusco.

Hillary Clinton was the second speaker brought to the campus under the Fusco Speaker Series program. The previous one was historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in October 2012. According to Washington Speakers Bureau, Goodwin is a “category 6″ speaker, meaning a fee of $40,001 and up.

It’s a free country, and the Fusco family is free to specify how their donation is to be used, any way they like. Some may wonder whether using $250,000 to bring in a speaker for one hour of remarks and a question-and-answer session afterwards is really the best or most cost-effective way to help the university in the long run.

​At the close of fiscal year 2013, the University of Connecticut’s endowment was valued at approximately $357.6 million. In 2013, tuition, room and board at the university cost $23,496 for in-state students, $42,444 for out-of-state students.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Connecticut

Cleveland vs. Dallas: Winner Hosts the Republicans in 2016!


From the last Morning Jolt of this holiday week:

Cleveland vs. Dallas: Winner Hosts the Republicans in 2016!

Say it with me: Hosting the GOP national convention, officially nominating the presidential candidate in a state does not help that presidential candidate win the state. Republicans did not win Florida in 2012 (Tampa). They did not win Minnesota in 2008 (St. Paul). They did not win New York in 2004 (New York City). They did not win Pennsylvania in 2000 (Philadelphia). They did not win California in 1996 (San Diego).

So when Hugh Hewitt says picking Cleveland to host the 2016 Republican National Convention is the first step to winning Ohio, history does not bolster his argument.

And yet, if Republicans pick the other city, Dallas, the narrative for the lazy media is written: Republicans are the party of the South, the party of rural America, the party of rednecks, gun-owners, country music, J. R. Ewing and big oil companies, cowboy boots, and so on. The party may want to embrace the Texas jobs boom, the energy boom, and the fact that so many Americans are flocking to the state to live their American dream.

So then there’s Cleveland.

This Lake Erie city has suffered some bad public relations over the years and has made headlines for all the wrong reasons: poverty, pollution, foreclosure, bizarre crimes and a fleeing population. Yet, thanks to billions of dollars spent burnishing the city’s image and its physical face, Cleveland is one of two finalists for the Republican national convention in 2016 and a longshot candidate to host the Democrats, as well.

Hugh will be ecstatic if they pick Cleveland, of course:

I spent this past Saturday morning touring the new convention center — on Twitter @clevemtgs — built on the lakefront across from the Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium, the Great Lakes Science Center and, of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The lakefront sparkles as does the whole downtown.

The convention center, which would host the media stiffs, contains hundreds of thousands of square feet of exhibition space, meeting rooms and ballrooms, and is a mere 10 minute, 0.9 mile walk from Quicken Loans Arena, where the formal proceedings would be gaveled in, a walk that goes down 4th street past the House of Blues and scores of restaurants and bars that would no doubt be second home to the scribblers and Tweet legions. Beautiful new hotels are already open and more rising and stately old ones as well, and the Tower City Center — soon no doubt to be the Manziel Center — brings the city’s excellent red, green and blue lines into the heart of the center, providing the mass transit for further out delegations that St. Paul, Minn., and Tampa Bay, Fla., lacked in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

The decision should be announced and/or leaked in late July or early August.

Tags: 2016 Republican National Convention , Cleveland , Dallas

Why Americans Want Politicans to Push Around Their Employers


There’s a thread that ties the Democrats’ arguments on the employer-covered contraceptive coverage mandate and their push to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour: We’re going to make your employer give you something you want.

People rarely turn down things that they’re offered for free.

Before those of us on the Right commence fuming about “makers” and “takers,” we probably ought to think about why swaths of the electorate are so receptive to this message, and so eagerly buy into a narrative where they are the victims of their miserly bosses, and the heroic white knight of Democrat-run big government must come in and give them what they deserve.

Throughout the past three decades, without any real national debate or referendum, American workers found themselves in an era of fierce foreign competition. Goods are easily imported, and services increasingly can be handed elsewhere as well. First your telemarketer or help line was serviced from Bangalore, then it became an electronic voice menu. (“I’m sorry. I did not understand your answer. Please try again.”) Companies periodically embraced “outsourcing” and “offshoring,” utilizing cheaper labor in other countries. Mass illegal immigration increased the supply of labor, particularly manual labor.

“Chainsaw Al” Dunlap, a corporate executive who built a notorious reputation for mass layoffs at Scott Paper and then Sunbeam, helped create the modern iconic villain of a corporate executive willing to throw away his own workers in pursuit of a higher stock share price. The perception of callous and greedy corporate executives long outlasted Dunlap, who was tossed out at Sunbeam in 1998. American workers feel that their employers aren’t loyal to them, so they feel no need to reciprocate that loyalty.

Wage growth is “down from the end of 2008, broadly flat over the past decade, and on an inflation-adjusted basis, wages peaked in 1973, fully 40 years ago. Apart from brief lapses, like in the late 1990s, wages have been falling for a generation.”

There are times when those thriving the most will observe the difficult time that those once considered “middle class” are having, and rather openly say that they don’t care or that it reflects some meritocratic punishment for Americans who have grown too entitled:

The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds told me that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy. In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn’t really matter. “His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade,” the CEO recalled.

I heard a similar sentiment from the Taiwanese-born, 30-something CFO of a U.S. Internet company. A gentle, unpretentious man who went from public school to Harvard, he’s nonetheless not terribly sympathetic to the complaints of the American middle class. “We demand a higher paycheck than the rest of the world,” he told me. “So if you’re going to demand 10 times the paycheck, you need to deliver 10 times the value. It sounds harsh, but maybe people in the middle class need to decide to take a pay cut.”

Easy for him to say!

Note that a striking percentage of Americans don’t like their jobs: “Approximately 70 million Americans either hated their jobs or were simply ‘checked out,’ according to a recent Gallup survey of America’s workforce.”

That Gallup survey found that one of the biggest factors in an employee’s engagement is the opinion of the boss – more consequential than pay level, hours, benefits, and workload. “Managers from hell are creating active disengagement costing the United States an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion annually,” wrote Jim Clifton, the C.E.O. and chairman of Gallup.

Obviously, these things are subjective, but maybe Americans really have worse bosses than a generation ago. Mocking the boss has always been a comedy staple — Office Space, Dilbert, Horrible Bosses — but maybe people laugh because they relate all too well. They feel like their hopes, dreams, and life’s path are blocked, indefinitely, by the pointy-haired micro-manager. No wonder they cheer a Democratic officeholder who pledges to make the boss give you more stuff.

Mitt Romney and other Republicans spent a good portion of 2012 singing the praises of “entrepreneurs,” and perhaps many Americans heard that as singing the praises of their bosses — or more likely, the founder of the company that hired them, whom in most cases they’ve never even met.

Of course, you won’t get very far in life if you see your boss as your enemy. Ideally, it’s a partnership. But that requires a positive, flexible, mature attitude on the part of the employee — and the boss as well.

Companies will argue that no one sets out to hire a bad manager — true enough — and that they’re giving their workers the best deal that they can, setting their wages at the market rate. Still, some of America’s businesses are sitting on piles of cash — $1.64 trillion among U.S. non-financial companies at the end of 2013. If America’s businessmen are worried about the growing atmosphere of resentment, populist anger, demonization of the wealthy, then throwing that money around — whether it’s on higher wages, new hires, new product research and development, or plant expansion — might persuade frustrated, increasingly cynical Americans that the companies that employ them aren’t such bad guys.

Is this the face of America’s employers?

Tags: Economy , Business , Office Space , Barack Obama , Hobby Lobby , Minimum Wage

The Multi-Billion Dollar Institution That Is ‘The Clintons, Inc.’


If you have trouble receiving the Morning Jolt newsletter this morning, it’s because Team USA goalie Tim Howard blocked it the first 16 times.

The Multi-Billion Dollar Institution That Is ‘The Clintons, Inc.’

Yeah, tell us again how “dead broke” you were, Hillary:

Bill and Hillary Clinton helped raise more than $1 billion from U.S. companies and industry donors during two decades on the national stage through campaigns, paid speeches and a network of organizations advancing their political and policy goals, The Wall Street Journal found.

Those deep ties potentially give Mrs. Clinton a financial advantage in the 2016 presidential election, if she runs, and could bring industry donors back to the Democratic Party for the first time since Mr. Clinton left the White House . . . 

The Journal tallied speaking fees and donations to Mr. Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns; the Democratic National Committee during Mr. Clinton’s eight years in the White House; Mrs. Clinton’s bids for Senate and president; and the family’s nonprofit entity — The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

The Journal was aided by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks election contributions. The center provided an industry breakdown of campaign donations.

Finding an exact total is difficult because the Clintons aren’t required to make public any details about donations to their foundation. They voluntarily report donor names, however, and donation amounts within broad ranges.

In total, the Clintons raised between $2 billion and $3 billion from all sources, including individual donors, corporate contributors and foreign governments, the Journal found. Between $1.3 billion and $2 billion came from industry sources.

“Clinton Inc.” is a fitting term for the family, and perhaps that’s a good way to describe the endeavor to make her the next president.

It’s a free country, but everyone else is also free to ask what these institutions think they’re getting for those donations . . . and why, say, a public university would be paying Hillary Clinton hefty six-figure speaking fees:

Some students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas are upset over Clinton’s speaking fee for a school-related fundraising event while members of the state’s board of regents are defending the decision.

“We’re dishing out nearly a quarter million dollars to invite a speaker to our campus and that money could be spent in so many other, better ways for our university,” said Elias Benjelloun, student body president.

Clinton is scheduled to speak at a fundraiser for the non-profit UNLV Foundation at the Bellagio Hotel in October. The reported speaking fee: $225,000. The university said the fee will be paid for with money raised privately through the school’s foundation. While it’s not student money, some UNLV students are not happy given a recent approval to hike tuition.

“As tuition has consistently gone up, we can’t recklessly spend money — whether it’s private or public — there’s just no excuse,” Benjelloun said.

The students have put their complaints in writing and plan to overnight a letter to the Clinton Foundation.

What does UNLV, or Goldman Sachs, or a grocer’s convention get for their $200,000 to $225,000 to $400,000 they pay Hillary Clinton for a speech? For that price, one would think she is a whirling dervish of raw political charisma that delivers an audience the financially equivalent thrills of a live joint performance of Cirque de Soleil, the Harlem Globetrotters, David Copperfield, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Whatever the official explanation, the rest of us who don’t get offered six figures to come talk to people will have our own suspicion — that this is a legal way of buying goodwill with a potential future president, from a likely candidate all too eager to sell that goodwill.

Tags: Hillary Clinton

Plurality of Registered Voters: We Would Be Better Off With Romney


Good morning, Mr. President. Quinnipiac polling has some news that may depress you:

President Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, 33 percent of American voters say in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Another 28 percent pick President George W. Bush.

Ronald Reagan is the best president since WWII, 35 percent of voters say, with 18 percent for Bill Clinton, 15 percent for John F. Kennedy and 8 percent for Obama, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.

Obama has been a better president than George W. Bush, 39 percent of voters say, while 40 percent say he is worse. Men say 43 – 36 percent that Obama is worse than Bush while women say 42 – 38 percent he is better. Obama is worse, Republicans say 79 – 7 percent and independent voters say 41 – 31 percent. Democrats say 78 – 4 percent that he is better.

Voters say by a narrow 37 – 34 percent that Obama is better for the economy than Bush.

America would be better off if Republican Mitt Romney had won the 2012 presidential election, 45 percent of voters say, while 38 percent say the country would be worse off.

Wait, Mr. President, don’t go back to bed! There’s more!

The economy and jobs are the most important problems facing the country today, 35 percent of voters say, with 12 percent listing politicians/campaigns/corruption, 6 percent each for healthcare and foreign affairs, 5 percent for the budget and 4 percent each for education and immigration.

Obama gets negative grades for his handling of most key issues:

• Negative 40 – 55 percent for handling the economy;

• Negative 37 – 57 percent for foreign policy;

• Negative 40 – 58 percent for health care;

• 50 – 40 percent for the environment;

• Negative 44 – 51 percent for terrorism.

The poll was conducted from June 24–30, surveying 1,446 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points, and used live interviewers to call land lines and cell phones.

Don’t worry, Mr. President. Tee time gets closer every minute.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney

The Intolerance at the Heart of the Hobby Lobby Decision Fury


Quick observation on the Hobby Lobby case . . . 

How many of us who aren’t Orthodox Jews would like to tell an Orthodox Jew, “you have to work on the Sabbath”? How many of us would like to tell a Muslim, you absolutely have to handle pork products? How many would like to tell a Mormon that they have to drink alcohol, or a Christian Scientist that they have to smoke?

I hope you don’t have desire to tell other people to violate their religious beliefs and consciences. You may not share those beliefs, and you may think they’re weird, or strange, or silly, but respecting others’ religious beliefs has been a core component of the United States of America going back to Plymouth Rock. (Yes, there are times in U.S. history when the country hasn’t always lived up to this ideal. This doesn’t mean that there’s no longer any point to attempting to live up to that ideal.)

The folks who run Hobby Lobby believed that these four forms of birth control, out of 20, amount to abortifacients, and thus they are, from their perspective, killing innocent human life. You can disagree with them. But all Hobby Lobby wanted to do was not pay for them. They didn’t ban them (although they may prefer that option, someday down the road). They didn’t swear to fire or punish any employee who used them. All they sought was to follow their consciences and not pay for something they believed equaled murder. Considering how any employee had the option of A) paying for those methods themselves or B) finding another employer, that doesn’t seem like an outrageous expectation on the part of the company.

There is a big difference between disagreeing with Hobby Lobby’s assessment of these four forms of birth control — or even concluding this view is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs — and saying, “I want to use the power of the state to compel you to violate your conscience and religious teachings.” You would think that using the government and the force of law — fines and imprisonment! — to compel people to violate their conscience is something we want to avoid as much as possible. The law permits conscientious objectors to war. Certain states permit the use of peyote during religious ceremonies. The Supreme Court upheld the right to sacrifice animals in Santeria. As long as your practice of religious isn’t directly infringing upon the rights of others, the law is going to let you worship your God as you see fit.

On Facebook yesterday, I saw someone respond to the news by muttering, “Stupid religious people!” Whether or not you think this belief is stupid, a core part of America is the right to hold and practice that belief!

What we’re seeing in the reaction to the Hobby Lobby decision is some liberals’ desire to not allow people to be “stupid religious people” anymore; we must all be reconditioned, to bow before the will and judgment of our betters, who control the levers of the government.

Tags: Supreme Court , Obamacare , Hobby Lobby


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