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Abramson: Obama’s WH the Least Transparent I’ve Ever Seen



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In her four decades in journalism, former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson has never seen a more secretive administration than Barack Obama’s.

“I think it’s easy to demonstrate that that’s true,” she told Fox News on Wednesday. “I have never dealt with an administration where more officials — some of whom are paid to be the spokesmen for various federal agencies – demand that everything be off the record, so that’s secretive and not transparent.”

She’s most concerned by the criminal leak investigations launched against various whistleblowers and sources, which she said has put “a freeze” on many reporters. Abramson witnessed the issue firsthand when she communicated with the Times’ national-security team in Washington, she said.

“Almost all of the reporters have said to me that there has never been a more difficult atmosphere in which to do the work that they do than now,” she said. “It’s profoundly different.”

Morning Joe Panel Laughs at Hillary’s $275K Speaking Fee: ‘Why Would You Take the Money?’



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The Morning Joe panel couldn’t hold back their laughter, and disbelief, at the news of Hillary Clinton’s $275,000 speaking fee when she visited SUNY–Buffalo last week.

As co-host Mika Brzezinski led in to the story, she mentioned the name of the university. This prompted Joe Scarborough to mockingly suggest Clinton took a more altruistic route.

“She did it for free there, didn’t she?” Scarborough jokingly asked.

“That would be nice,” Brzezinski replied.

“She represented New York state too,” Scarborough teased. “It’s like going back to see the kids: ‘Hey kids, I’m back — your senator’s back, I love you. How are you kids doing four years later? I’m going to do this for free.’”

As the panel got in their share of playful jabs at Clinton, Brzezinski reported that the potential 2016 candidate received more than a quarter-million dollars for her one-hour speech. “Why would you take the money?” she said.

Her visit also included a number of stipulations, such as a certain type of teleprompter and final approval of the stage’s scenery by Clinton’s team.

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Myths about Abortion and the ‘Women’s Health Protection Act’



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Holding a hearing on S. 1696, deceptively titled “The Women’s Health Protection Act,” the U.S. Senate committee on the Judiciary heard many myths from abortion proponents about the “need” for the bill’s evisceration of all life-affirming legislation. This is a federal attempt to expand abortion policy while also destroying pro-life legislation and blocking new life-protecting efforts.

Consider this sampling of abortion industry talking points:

Myth: Life-affirming laws are enacted “ . . . under the false pretext of health and safety.”

Fact:  A substantial body of peer-reviewed scientific literature documents that induced abortion is associated with significant risks and potential harms to women. Time and time again, the abortion industry has proved — at the cost of women’s lives and health — that it places profit as its top priority and it should not be left to self-police its dangerous practice.

The pro-life movement cares about both mothers and their babies and therefore supports the health-and-safety standards contained in the laws that S. 1696 would strike down and prohibit.

Whether accomplished by an invasive surgical procedure or by taking a combination of potent drugs, abortion carries inherent physical risks of harm for women. Numerous, well-documented studies in peer-reviewed international medical journals have found this to be the case.

Even the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, acknowledges on its website the undisputed risks of immediate complications from abortion, including blood clots, hemorrhage, incomplete abortions, infection, and injury to the cervix and other organs. It can also cause missed ectopic pregnancy, cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, renal failure, metabolic disorder, or shock. Immediate complications affect approximately 10 percent of women undergoing abortions.

History shows that unregulated abortion sets the stage for substandard clinic conditions to compound these risks.
 

Myth: “[D]ata show that abortion, even after the first trimester, carries a lower risk of serious complications than vaginal births, cesarean sections, and even plastic surgery procedures such as facelifts and liposuction.”

Fact: Abortion is always deadly for at least one person, the baby, and data shows that risks to women increase with gestational age.

The “abortion is safer than childbirth” myth relies on U.S. abortion data that is incomplete and unreliable. Unlike abortion-related deaths, pregnancy-related deaths are systemically sought, identified, and investigated. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has cautioned medical professionals not to make comparative statements based on CDC data.

It is undisputed that the later in pregnancy an abortion occurs, the riskier it is and the greater the chance for significant complications.  Gestational age is the strongest risk factor for abortion-related death.  A woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks (five months) is 35 times more likely to die from it than she was in the first trimester.  At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. 
 

Keep reading this post . . .

Web Briefing: August 1, 2014

Medicaid for Thee, but Not for Me



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I had heard through the grapevine that Eric Holder’s wife was a good gynecologist working in the D.C. area. It turns that one of her partners, Dr. Marilyn Jerome, is the wife of Democratic congressional candidate John Foust, who has been attacking his opponent, Barbara Comstock, for opposing the expansion of Medicaid in Virginia. He’s been citing his wife’s medical practice to bolster his credentials as a white knight in the war against the Republican “war on women.” 

So this Washington Free Beacon story is interesting on a couple of levels. Mr. Foust has been touting his wife’s profession and her support of Obamacare. 

Dr. Jerome claims that her husband is a better candidate because he will never get between a woman and her doctor. “As an OBGYN,” Foust attacks his Republican opponent Barbara Comstock for opposing Medicaid expansion. Failure to expand Medicaid to rural hospitals could be “devastating,” he says.

Dr. Jerome has also written in support of the Affordable Care Act on the Foxhall website, citing the Medicaid expansion as beneficial to low-income women.

“For over 30 years, John’s wife, Dr. Marilyn Jerome has practiced obstetrics and gynecology with Foxhall Ob-Gyn, a practice dedicated to providing compassionate reproductive healthcare for women in NW Washington, D.C., and the surrounding communities,” Foust’s campaign website reads.

But it seems that the Foxhall Ob/Gyn Associates do not accept Medicaid patients.

Second, it seems that the Foxhall Ob/Gyn is a medical practice that offers special service to “important people.” Early-morning appointments seem to be set aside for dignitaries. Nothing illegal about that of course, but oh so consistent with the hypocrisy of favoring the expansion of Medicaid while declining to accept Medicaid patients yourself.

Medicaid is a terrible program in part because its reimbursement rates are so low that many doctors and dentists decline to participate. There are other options, as Avik Roy outlined in this pamphlet, How Medicaid Hurts the Poor.

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A Very Entertaining Dystopia



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I went to see the new movie Snowpiercer on the advice of a younger colleague, and I’m very glad I did. It’s a highly political science-fiction film that succeeds in spite of its politics. The plot has to do with a post-apocalyptic train on which Earth’s last survivors circle the world on an endless loop — and on which the oppressed peasants at the back of the train finally decide to revolt against the oppressors up at the front.

Yes, it’s a pretty heavy-handed Marxist allegory. Which makes it all the more remarkable that the film succeeds aesthetically and as pure entertainment. And it does: It’s a triumph of the imagination, as the train and its residents coalesce into a fully realized and emotionally captivating setting and narrative. There are some great performances, notably by Tilda Swinton as a helmet-haired, clipped-British-accented villain who is herself middle-class but is a craven servant of the upper classes. (It would of course be completely absurd to suggest that she is meant to be a caricature of any particular U.K. prime minister of the past three decades or so. Sorry, sarcasm off now.) And, most important of all, a deep truth about the human condition emerges past all the politicizing: Man’s fundamental goal, his essence, is to transcend his circumstances. This is where the film’s allegory works best, and most successfully overcomes its Marxist roots: in stressing that the most important issue is not, as the materialist Marxist analysis would insist, who controls the train — but rather, the importance of realizing that the train is not the fundamental reality.

This is an exciting and beautifully filmed adventure story; the train is an excellent set, a realized world that manages, amazingly, to avoid claustrophobia. There is violence, but not that much more than occurs in the typical Hollywood big-budget actioner. The film is now available on a number of online video-streaming services, but try to see it in its big-screen limited release if you can; it’s a visual marvel.

Lowry on Border Crisis: The First Step Must Be a System of Enforcement



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Krauthammer’s Take: The Administration Is ‘Clearly Attempting to Conceal Information’



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On Wednesday evening’s Special Report, Charles Krauthammer discussed the effects of an influx of immigrant children on even Eastern states, such as Maryland and Massachusetts. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s flip-flopping on the status of immigrants in his state had the panel calling out his “not in my backyard” mentality, and Krauthammer noted that complaints from the mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts about an overwhelmed school system and health department that weren’t prepared for the influx was just one example of unfair stress on even non-border towns.

Krauthammer continued on to explain that the administration is intentionally hiding the border problem from those who most need to be made aware, and that it is hardly an issue of privacy. “The administration line ‘Is this a question of privacy?’ is absurd, is a crock,” he asserts. “Privacy? If you tell a governor that a certain number of illegal alien children are coming to a certain facility, there is no issue of privacy involved. He’s not naming names. He’s not putting a photograph on the internet. This is clearly an attempt of the administration to try to handle a problem by concealing it from the people who most have to know–meaning the governors, the mayors, and the American people.”

John Bolton’s Super PAC Makes First Ad Buy, Hitting N.H. Dem on Benghazi



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Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton’s super PAC has made its first independent expenditure in behalf of a candidate, going after a vulnerable Democratic representative from New Hampshire.

Bolton’s super PAC is spending $30,000 running an online ad against Ann Kuster, hitting her over comments she made at a Manchester, N.H. town hall last year in which she appeared to know little about the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi. Bolton has formed two PACs this year and made a number of endorsements to raise the profile of national-security and foreign-policy issues in this fall’s elections.

He hasn’t been shy about the possibility that this could be laying the ground for a presidential bid, and landing his first expenditure in New Hampshire is just another sign of those ambitions.

At a December 2013 event, Representative Kuster read out loud a question from a constituent about whether she supported a bill to authorize a select committee on Benghazi, and responded that it was a Senate matter, not a House one. Most bizarrely, she ignored the question about the Middle Eastern issue because she was at the event to talk about the Middle East. (The full video of her answer is here.)

Kuster is considered one of the more vulnerable House Democrats this cycle: She won the seat in 2012 by just five points, defeating a Republican incumbent, and the district is rated D+3 by the Cook Political Report. A number of Republican candidates are vying to face off against her in the general election, but Bolton hasn’t endorsed a particular one of them.

“This is the first of what will be many independent expenditures by the John Bolton Super PAC to ensure that American security is a central factor in the 2014 midterm elections,” the committee said in a statement. Bolton’s super PAC and PAC have done some impressive fundraising so far, raking in $4 million in donations and holding $3 million cash on hand.

“That she was unable to address her constituents’ questions about the Benghazi tragedy is shocking at best,” Bolton said in a statement. “Having a basic understanding of the Middle East and America’s security concerns in Benghazi should be a fundamental qualification to be in Congress and Ann Kuster should know better. New Hampshire deserves an informed representative who isn’t afraid to take a lead on both domestic and foreign affairs.”

Bolton has made a number of endorsements of candidates this year, including Republican Senate hopefuls Tom Cotton (Ark.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), and Teri Lynn Land (Mich.).

The two PACs emphasize foreign-policy and national-security issues; Bolton has argued that they’re of more political relevance than many commentators are willing to grant. The former U.N. ambassador has suggested he’d consider running for president in 2016 on a platform based on reasserting American leadership around the world, and his activity so far this election cycle indicates he hasn’t stopped thinking seriously about such a campaign.

Ted Cruz Drafting Border Crisis Bill



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I’m hearing from Senate sources that Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) is writing an alternative to the border crisis bill proposed by Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Representative Henry Cuellar (D., Texas). A “central feature” of Cruz’s bill will be a reversal of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to one Senate source.

Republicans in both chambers agree that the surge of children from Central America was caused by Obama’s 2012 announcement of DACA, a policy under which the federal government does not deport people who would have qualified for the DREAM Act, a bill that never passed Congress.

French Court Criminalizes Food Critic’s Google Success



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I wrote last week about an absurd French court ruling, but they seem to be coming down in droves. The BBC reports:

A French judge has ruled against a blogger because her scathing restaurant review was too prominent in Google search results.

The judge ordered that the post’s title be amended and told the blogger Caroline Doudet to pay damages.

Ms Doudet was sued by the owner of Il Giardino restaurant in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France after she wrote a blogpost entitled “the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino”.

According to court documents, the review appeared fourth in the results of a Google search for the restaurant. The judge decided that the blog’s title should be changed, so that the phrase: “the place to avoid” was less prominent in the results.

Doudet will be required to pay $2,000 in damages in addition to changing the blog post’s title. Because the ruling was an “emergency order,” in which a judge can identify harm to a plaintiff and force the defendant to cease the offending activity, this decision does not create legal precedent. But Doudet is still correct that, as she tells the BBC, “This decision creates a new crime of ‘being too highly ranked [on a search engine]‘, or of ‘having too great an influence.’” She does not plan to appeal.

The sharp-eyed, sharp-tongued French critic — Apollinaire, Gautier, Valéry – has long been a mainstay of the arts. No longer, it seems — at least not in his native country. Hélas!

A Conservative Professor’s Long Quest for Justice Ends in Victory



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In March I reported on Professor Mike Adams’s victory for academic freedom in his jury trial against the University of North Carolina–Wilmington. UNCW officials had rejected Dr. Adams’s promotion application in a process rife with irregularity and laced with open hostility to his conservative and Christian speech. In addition to teaching at UNCW, Professor Adams is a columnist at Townhall.com, where he regularly attacks intolerance in higher education.

He experienced that intolerance first-hand when UNCW officials denied his promotion, and in 2007, he filed suit (full disclosure, I was his lead counsel in the case). The facts were egregious:

Dr. Adams began his career at UNCW in 1993 as an outspoken atheist and liberal. During this period, he was widely praised in the university for his teaching and scholarship and achieved tenure in 1998 without any controversy. In 2000, however, shortly after visiting a mentally handicapped prisoner on death row in Texas — and being struck by the fact that this prisoner had read the entire Bible while he had not — Dr. Adams read the Bible and experienced a religious conversion, becoming a Christian and, over time, a conservative as well.

As a conservative, Dr. Adams eventually began writing a column for Townhall.com that is often sharply critical of leftist excesses in universities nationwide, as well as in his own university.

The reaction within the university was furious, with the chancellor of the university going so far as to propose changing the university’s promotion standards to address Dr. Adams’s speech. The chancellor also placed him under a brief, secret investigation at the request of an anarchist transgendered group to determine whether Dr. Adams was passing along “transphobic” views to students.

In 2006, after compiling an impressive record of scholarship and accumulating multiple teaching awards and honors, Dr. Adams submitted an application for promotion to full professor. University officials, however, denied his promotion in a process where they applied a made-up promotion standard that contradicted the faculty handbook, passed along false information about his academic record, deceptively edited documents to influence the faculty vote, explicitly discussed his constitutionally protected viewpoint, and allowed a faculty member with an obvious and outrageous conflict of interest to cast a vote against him.

The case went up to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and back down again before finally ending up in front of a jury of his peers this March. The jury unanimously found that UNCW retaliated against Dr. Adams, and the trial court awarded Dr. Adams a promotion to full professor, back pay, and attorneys’ fees. Yesterday, the case finally ended in a settlement agreement where UNCW agreed to drop its appeal, promote Dr. Adams to full professor, increase his salary to the appropriate rate, award him back pay, protect him from future retaliation, and award a substantial attorneys’ fee. 

The lesson? The Constitution protects conservatives too, and universities would do well to remember that rather basic legal fact. 

One final note: I’d like to thank our co-counsel in the case, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and particularly Travis Barham, the ADF attorney who put in hundreds of hours defending Dr. Adams’s constitutional rights. Outstanding work, Travis and ADF. 

Maryland Governor: Immigrants for Thee, but Not for Me



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There plenty of reasons to disapprove of Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, but add this to the list. Politico reports:

Martin O’Malley says that deporting the children detained at the border would be sending them to “certain death” — but he also urged the White House not to send them to a facility in his own state.

Hours after the Maryland governor and prospective 2016 presidential candidate became the most prominent Democrat to criticize the White House on the issue, Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Muñoz called O’Malley to complain.

But before they hung up, O’Malley told Muñoz not to send any of the children to the facility in Westminster, Md., that the White House was looking at. It’s a conservative part of the state, he warned. The children were at risk of getting harassed, or worse, he said.

There are two options here, neither of which is flattering. Either (1) O’Malley is a generic-brand left-wing hypocrite who is ready to welcome the huddled masses until they yearn to breathe free in his state, in which case, no thank you, sir; or (2) O’Malley has so successfully cloistered himself in the governor’s mansion in Annapolis that the only conservative he has ever seen is some 2D caricature version on MSNBC. Which is it, governor?

Former Border Patrol Deputy Chief: ‘All of the Good That Was Done after 9/11 Up to Now Has Been Reversed Singlehandedly’



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Former national deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Ronald Colburn tells National Review Online that the Obama administration has undone all of the progress made at America’s southern border since 9/11.

“We’re back to a pre-9/11 situation basically, and this administration did that in the past five years,” he says. “All of the good that was done after 9/11 up to now has been reversed singlehandedly.”

Colburn, who spent more than 30 years working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says the resulting national-security risk has to do with the “clutter” of people at the border. He says all of the gains made since 9/11 came as a result of reducing the number of people crossing the border. The Border Patrol’s task is to sort through the haystack of people as they come across, he says. “What this situation on the border is doing is growing the haystack, is adding clutter, so that those dangerous needles get through because we’re tied up capturing, instead, juvenile children from Guatemala and El Salvador,” he says. “When you see the cartels — the Zetas and MS-13 and the Gulf Cartel — laughing about this on the Internet, you know what’s behind it.”

Colburn says the “gangsters down south” enjoy social media, taking selfies, and talking about one another online. Border Patrol officials monitor the cartels’ online communications along with officials from the Department of Defense and intelligence community, he says.

WH Refuses to Say Whether Border Is Secure



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Josh Earnest repeatedly dodged the question of whether or not he agreed with several Democratic lawmakers’ assertions that the United States–Mexico border is secure during Wednesday’s daily brief.

The White House press secretary refused to give a direct answer to at least six questions posed by Fox News’s Ed Henry about the state of border security.

The furthest Earnest would go was to say that there “are more resources that are dedicated to this border right now and securing it” and that the president “certainly is supportive of additional security to the border.”

Instead, he questioned why House Republicans are not supporting the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill if they are truly concerned about border security.

“They’re saying it’s not secure, and blocking a piece of legislation that would actually make a historic investment in border security,” Earnest said. “I’m saying that is a deplorable act of playing politics with a very serious situation.”

Biden Admits Obama’s ‘Change’ Promise ‘Didn’t Happen’



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That “Hope and Change” promise that President Obama ran on in 2008? It hasn’t been realized, according to Joe Biden.

Speaking at the Make Progress Conference on Wednesday, the vice president admitted as much to the audience.

“This is within our power to change,” Biden said. “Everybody says because we tried in ’08 and it didn’t happen, it’s not possible.”

No, TN is Not ‘Criminalizing Pregnant Women’



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In April Tennessee governor Bill Haslam signed into law S.B. 1391, which permits the prosecution of women whose use of narcotics during pregnancy causes harm to, or kills, their child. On July 8, 26-year-old Mallory Loyola became the first woman to be arrested under the law when her newborn tested positive for methamphetamine. She could face up to one year in prison, or a fine of $2,500.

The law broaches a complex issue that merits a bit of thought, which is why it is unfortunate that ThinkProgress and similar outlets have become involved. ThinkProgress’s gloss on the matter: “How Tennessee Criminalized Pregnancy, and Why It Matters.” Not to be outdone, the Feminist Majority Foundation blog scolded the Tennessee legislature for “criminalizing pregnant women.”

These are ham-fisted ways of framing the issue, to say the least, but they indicate how staunchly the debate over this law relies not on conclusions, but on premises. If one maintains that until the moment of birth the thing inside the womb is a cluster of cells, then it makes no sense to penalize a pregnant woman for using narcotics over and above the legal restrictions already in place. By the same logic one should be able to prosecute those with tumors or cysts.

The logic of the law rests on a different premise: that the cluster of cells is a child, or at least a likely child-to-be, in which case it merits the same protections as a child outside the womb. Fourteen states have already criminalized prenatal exposure of a child to harm due to drug use, and a number of others prosecute as child abuse manufacturing drugs in the presence of children, giving drugs to children, or (for legal caregivers) using drugs in such a way that one is unable to care for a child. It is the aggressiveness, not the rationale, of Tennessee’s law that makes it noteworthy.

Talk of “criminalizing pregnant women” deflects a relevant question in favor of an emotional ploy. Jessica Valenti-types would much prefer to dwell on a woman’s “right to make decisions — even poor ones — about her own body” without openly acknowledging the premises of that argument.

These premises are mutually exclusive, and they are binary — you cannot remain agnostic. But they can also be ignored by viewing the issue as a matter of potential outcomes. For example, opponents of the law contend that criminalizing narcotics use during pregnancy discourages women from seeking treatment for fear of legal consequences. But there is reason to believe that under this law, women suffering from drug addiction would be able to receive treatment. Although it is not in the text of the bill (linked above), a local news outlet reported in April that women can avoid criminal charges “if they get treatment before the child is born, remain in the program after delivery and successfully complete the program.” That would accord with jurisdictions all over the country where defendants facing minor drug-related charges can avoid prison time by going into rehab.

As a matter of outcomes, what is more worrisome is that newborn children could lose mothers imprisoned under this law, a detriment that has been amply documented. Additionally, viewed from the perspective of outcomes there is little reason not to criminalize smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy. If the goal is the healthiest possible babies, why not allow more strident steps? However, there is legal precedent for extending prohibitions against narcotics use; there is none for expanding laws against tobacco or alcohol use in a similar way.

It is worthwhile to ask whether the law should be the vehicle of public health. That premise, too, underlies this debate. And, of course, what is finally at stake is one’s position on drug use. Do drugs constitute a special type of danger to one’s person and society at large? Or are they intoxicants in the same class as alcohol and tobacco, if only to a more powerful degree?

These questions and others ground the debate over this law, and any consideration that does not take them into account is lacking. But that requires some deeper thinking. Maybe ThinkProgress should change its name.

A Little Religion Is Terrible for Marriage: Here’s Why



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In recent days, the Federalist and Rod Dreher have written fascinating posts on the differing impact of religious belief and religious practice on social outcomes, particularly marriage.

Both of the following statements are true:

The most conservative Christian areas of our country have the highest divorce rates.

Churchgoing Christians are the least likely of our citizens to get divorced. 

These statements are not only sociologically true, they also represent both the southern experience in all its cultural contradiction and complexity while simultaneously illustrating profound biblical truth. But first, let me show you two maps that should sober anyone — like me — who proudly hails from south of the Mason-Dixon line. The first is a map of U.S. counties by divorce rate:

The second is a map showing the most dominant religious group by county:


Blue-state liberals look at these maps and decry the moral hypocrisy of the religious Right and Red America. They laugh at the conservative Southern Baptist convention, and they crow about the irony of these high-divorce states also working so diligently to preserve the “sanctity of marriage” through various state-marriage amendments.

Southern, churchgoing Evangelicals — who happen to live in the South and know what it’s actually like — look at that map and simply say, “Yep, seems about right.”

The New York Times has a third map (it’s interactive, so I can’t embed) showing where people actually attend church. This map is visually remarkably similar to the first two, with church attendance clustered in the South (and Utah), but when you drill down to the data, you see that only a minority of Southerners regularly attend church, particularly in the most-populated counties. Thus, there’s a difference between a profession of faith and the daily practice of faith.

Keep reading this post . . .

Burgess: Could Cruz Suspend Employer Mandate?



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Michael Burgess (R., Texas) wonders whether potential president Ted Cruz in 2017 would have the power to suspend the individual mandate as President Obama did.

At the hearing on the House GOP lawsuit against the president, Burgess considered what would happen if Ted Cruz became president, saying he would suspend the individual mandate, at least until he is able to repeal Obamacare completely. He asked, ”Is that okay with him to do that? Can he suspend that date just as the president did?”

Walter Dellinger, former Assistant Attorney General and Acting Solicitor General, responded that it depends on whether the president is acting out of disagreement with the law enacted by Congress as a matter of policy. This is not the case with Obama’s suspension of the employer mandate, he said, because Obama agrees with said policy.

“He’s trying to facilitate his administration by working with businesses to make sure that this provision is implemented in a way that works for businesses,” Dellinger said. “That seems quite different from nullifying because of a policy disagreement.”

Burgess pushed back on this claim, pointing out that in the 2008 campaign for the nomination, Obama argued against the employer mandate. 

“I don’t think the president will ever enforce the employer mandate,” he said, “and I say that because I watched with horror the chaos that was visited upon the individual [health-insurance] market in November and December of this past year.”

Burgess concluded, ”I think the administration now recognizes that, and they are quietly looking for a way to get out of the conundrum of the employer mandate.” 

One Politicized Pink Rose on Commonwealth Avenue



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This week in Massachusetts, legislators have been hard at work on legislation to protect you from this rose — a way to restrict the freedom of women and men who gather outside abortion clinics to offer prayers and a sign of help and hope.

As I write this, there are folks standing outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. When I stood with them last Wednesday morning, my takeaway was a rose.

This particular rose was one of the few left over from a few dozen that had been distributed on Commonwealth Avenue outside the Planned Parenthood clinic at a rally by City Hall that Duval Patrick had vowed to keep safe the night before. Standing outside the clinic you can see that the only violence is inside – which, as I have written elsewhere, you can see in the eyes and in the very bodies of those coming out, women and men, who lose someone in an abortion.

This particular morning those who gathered — under a dozen — to pray and offer help to anyone who wanted it — ended the morning hours there handing out roses. To anyone. Women or men going in, coming out, passing by. Some are grateful for the surprise. Others politely declined. Others communicate thanksgiving that there is this sign of life outside the clinic.

They were as peaceful as you can get. Praying. Offering help. Smiling. Even in the blazing sun.

Keep reading this post . . .

Parceling Out the Credit



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An email:

I’ve been following what you’re writing about the child tax credit, but I don’t think I’ve seen you explain why parents who are too poor to pay any taxes should [not] get the credit. They are contributing to the future of Social Security, too, by raising kids. So why shouldn’t they be eligible for the credit by your logic?

As it happens, another reader raised this exact issue in NR’s June 11, 2012, issue, so I hope you won’t mind if I just quote my response from then: “The argument for the large tax credit is that taxpaying parents are overtaxed relative to non-parents. They are contributing to the future of entitlement programs with both their taxes and their investments in their children, whereas the childless [taxpayers] are only contributing with their taxes. The tax credit recognizes that double contribution. A family that doesn’t pay taxes is still making a contribution to the future of the entitlement programs. . . . But it is not making a double contribution—in that respect it’s in the same position as a childless taxpayer—and so there’s nothing to offset.”

The argument, then, implies that the tax credit should be, to use the standard jargon, “partially refundable.” A taxpayer should be able to use it to get his tax liability—income tax plus payroll tax*—all the way to zero. But not below zero. If, for example, the employer credit has already wiped out all tax liability, the argument would not justify giving a household a child credit too.

* That should include the “employer’s share” of the payroll tax, which is just a hidden tax on employees.

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