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Proposed Satan Sculpture for Oklahoma Capitol Revealed



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A New York–based Satanic church has revealed its design for a statue of Satan that it wishes to erect next to a Ten Commandments monument in the Oklahoma state capitol.

The proposed statue depicts Satan in the form of Baphomet, Time reports, a goat-headed biped complete with horns, hoofs, and wings, sitting against a stone with a pentagram etched into it. Standing on Satan’s sides are two smiling children, and Satan’s lap will also function as a chair “where people of all ages may sit . . . for inspiration and contemplation,” said Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves.

Late last year, the American Civil Liberties Union contested the placement of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state house, arguing that if the legislature allowed the Ten Commandments, it must allow other religious groups to put up monuments as well.

Following the ACLU’s lead, several other groups requested to erect monuments, including a Hindu group, an animal-rights organization, and the pastafarian Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission, which is in charge of monuments, has declined to review new monument requests until after the ACLU lawsuit has been resolved.

Rob Portman: We Must Reform Unemployment Insurance



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Senator Rob Portman of Ohio surprised a lot of people in voting to advance debate on the unemployment insurance extension today. But walking out of the Senate chamber, he seemed a bit surprised himself there was so much interest in his vote from the throng of reporters that followed him back to his office in the Russell building.

“I don’t even know what the vote [tally] was,” he confessed, asking what the result had been. The Senate GOP leadership, he added, hadn’t put any pressure on him to vote one way or the other.

In voting to advance the bill, Portman said he hopes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will provide an actual debate – affording an opportunity to reform the program.

“The more you look into this the more you realize it’s not working to help the long-term unemployed. We have the highest levels in the history of our country right now. So just to extend again is not the answer. Second, I do think that historic levels of debt and these massive deficits impacts the economy right now. And for us to not pay for it after just going through this budget debate, where we established caps …. I think is a mistake,” Portman says.

Regarding arguments from conservatives that extending unemployment benefits could have the unintended effect of disincentivizing people to find work, Portman says “I think it depends on the situation. For a lot of people, [they] really don’t have the skills, can’t find a job. For others, I’m sure there is some disincentive.”

Portman is working on a proposal to pay for the new spending with an offset and also help workers learn new skills to connect them to open jobs for which there are few workers.

“We need to figure out how to connect people to jobs. One of the big issues in Ohio and elsewhere is people do not have the skills to take advantage of the openings that are out there. In Ohio we have about 100,000 jobs open. We need to connect those who are on unemployment insurance to those jobs,” he says.

The Ohioan is still undecided whether he’ll vote for the final product. “It depends on what we can work out,” Portman says.  

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Dan Coats: UI Vote Could Help Appease Reid



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Explaining his vote to push forward the Senate bill extending unemployment insurance, Senator Dan Coats of Indiana says he agreed to advance debate in part out of a desire to keep Senate Majority Harry Reid from eliminating the filibuster for legislation, as he recently did for presidential nominations.

“I think it’s wrapped up somewhat in that,” Coats said when asked by National Review Online whether his decision was related to Reid’s recent exercise of the “nuclear option.”

“I’d like to get to the point where we can sit down and get back to regular order,” he said.

“I came here under a Democrat leadership, George Mitchell, and I came from the House, where I served eight years in the minority. People asked me the difference between the House and the Senate, I said ‘it’s like going to political heaven,’ because any senator, whether you’re a majority senator, or a minority senator, can offer any amendment to any bill at any time. We debate it, you may win, you may lose,” Coats said.

Now, under Reid, “it has been political hell. I might as well be in the House of Representatives as the minority. You’re not allowed to offer an amendment.” Coats said he deeply fears Reid will expand the move to all legislation. “I hope and pray not. That would be the final straw. That would totally break what the Senate has been for over 200 years,” he said.

Coats agreed to provide the 60th vote to advance debate on the measure without any commitment from Reid to allow “pay-for” amendments that would cancel out the increased spending with offsets from other areas. But he says his vote for cloture will help put pressure on Democrats to be accommodating in turn.

“If Harry wants to not give us an opportunity to offer amendments, to debate reforms, to accept the pay-for, then Democrats will have to answer the question” why they won’t work with Republicans who agreed to cloture, Coats argues. “Since it did clear [cloture], I’ll be able to test that,” he said.

Republican senator Mark Kirk of Illinois is more pessimistic. Asked whether advancing debate would have afforded the opportunity to amend the bill to include an offset, Kirk said Democrats simply won’t cooperate.

“My worry was they weren’t that interested in finding a pay-for because they wanted a political issue because they think this polls well,” Kirk said. “The discussion in there was not that serious. The point was to put Republicans on record with what they felt was an unpopular vote.”

The contrast between Coats and Kirk is striking because Kirk is normally a sought-after vote from Democrats searching for Republican partners on Senate bills.

“It’s not unusual for the president to call me to ask for liberal votes,” Kirk noted, as President Obama did in this instance. Coats, asked if Obama had called to lobby him, laughed heartily: “No! He never calls me. I never hear from the White House.”

Web Briefing: July 25, 2014

Unemployment-Insurance Extension Gets Cloture in Senate



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A bill extending unemployment insurance covering those out of work more than 26 weeks for the next three months more or less passed the Senate today, with the body voting 60–37 to end debate. Six Republicans voted in favor of the bill, which Republican Senate whip John Cornyn objected to bringing to a vote when a number of senators couldn’t get to the Capitol because of weather-related travel problems.

House speaker John Boehner has indicated he’d be willing to take up the measure, but only if it’s paired with equivalent cuts elsewhere in the budget — the Senate version is not. A three-month will cost about $6 billion. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell floated the idea this morning of paying for the extension with a one-year delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate, which would save money in 2014 that could pay for the UI extension but likely cost money in the years following.

The Republicans voting in favor: Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Rob Portman (Ohio).

UPDATE: This post originally stated that the bill would extend the unemployment-insurance program for the next year, as Democrats originally proposed. It would only do so for three months.

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McCain: I Like Jindal and Christie in 2016



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John McCain tossed out a couple of names that he thought would be strong Republican presidential candidates in 2016 during his Tonight Show appearance on Monday.

“I think we’ve got a lot of governors, a number of Republican governors,” McCain said. “I like Chris Christie, I like Bobby Jindal, I like a number of those people.”

But the affinity McCain feels for Christie doesn’t run in the family, apparently. Meghan McCain, his daughter, shared that she “doesn’t like [Christie] anymore” because he got angry when she said he wouldn’t be her top choice.

Comedian Louis C.K. suggested that the Arizona senator give a presidential bid another shot, but not as a Republican or Democrat: “Just run as John McCain.”

News From France



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Allister Heath is in City AM with a round-up of some recent news from France:

[B]oss-napping is making a comeback: two executives were yesterday taken hostage by members of a communist trade union at a Goodyear tyre plant in the north of the country. The quotes from the union extremists involved are utterly shocking. In a country bound by the rule of law and which respected property rights and classical liberal values, such a kidnapping would immediately trigger a major police response, with those detained freed and everybody responsible for their imprisonment arrested, tried and jailed. Not in France…

Then consider the events on New Year’s eve: “just” 1,067 cars were torched, a number which the authorities welcomed as down by a tenth on the previous year. Horrendously, three people died.

Next, [French president] Francois Hollande has finally pushed through a version of his 75 per cent top tax rate; it will last two years and start at €1m in earnings. It will now supposedly be paid by the employer, and limited to five per cent of a firm’s turnover – but its economic effects will be almost as bad as the original plan. French firms have zero incentive to employ top talent; and successful people have zero incentive to work there…

The economy there is struggling. Can’t think why.

More Lenins Down in Ukraine



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Radio Free Europe reports:

Authorities in the western Ukrainian town of Berdichev say a two-meter high statue to the founder of the Soviet Union Vladimir Lenin has been “completely destroyed….”

Another statue of Lenin was reported down in the town of Andreevo-Ivanovka, also in the Odesa region, but officials said the statue simply “fell over” and broke into two pieces.

Can happen, I guess.

Obamacare Website Gets the Year Wrong



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Ohio resident Sharon Rasberg was dutifully trying to sign up for Obamacare health coverage on the HealthCare.gov website and found it is misleading enrollees by a full year about the deadline to sign up for insurance. Is it a typo or another unannounced delay?

The website says: “If you want your coverage to start on January 1, 2014, you should confirm your plan(s) by December 23, 2014.” That would give people more than eleven months to apply for coverage this year.

“I am just a regular citizen super frustrated by the whole healthcare debacle,” Mrs. Rasberg writes. “Here is what I encountered when I logged on tonight to yet again try to unravel getting coverage. This was in a big red banner across the page.”

Here’s the screen shot:

“Granted, I was a journalism major long ago in college so I read fairly carefully,” she writes, “but others may not realize that the deadline for Jan. 1 coverage was actually Dec. 23, 2013, not Dec. 23, 2014.”

“That aside, come on, if you can’t proofread your copy, how can you sort out getting me coverage?”

Exactly. It once again calls into question the competence of those implementing the law and running the website.

#gettalking in German



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Emma Colton at The College Fix:

When I enrolled in an advanced German for beginners class last fall at The College of New Jersey, I intended to improve my ability to speak and write in conversational German.

What I did not expect to learn in German 103 was that the Affordable Care Act – a.k.a Obamacare – is the answer to our prayers, the Tea Party is made up of “old,” “very moronic” people, life is far better in Europe, and Occupy Wall Streeters were really on to something.

Now that my grade is securely documented on my transcripts, I feel safe sharing my recent experiences inside the classroom, during which lessons on the German language frequently morphed into soliloquies on the benefits of universal health care.

Instructor John Benjamin, a man in his early 30s with a thick beard and a fondness for donning sweaters, often used his course as a platform to tout liberal ideologies on Obamacare.

The Berkeley- and Princeton-educated professor, for example, turned grammar lessons on the intricacies of the German language into claims that universal healthcare, or “allgemeine Gesundheitsversorgung” (a phrase Benjamin took many opportunities to write on the board), as the savior of the American public. According to the professor, Obamacare will insure and take care of the poor, viewed by Benjamin as a group of people utterly neglected in America.

One day, when he was in one of his particularly brazen and jaded moods, Benjamin went so far as to have students raise their hands if they planned on signing up for the exchange – adding that students’ answers will not impact their grades.

When the room was left with idle, stationary hands, Benjamin appeared shocked and a bit speechless. He told us: “You might want to take a little longer and examine the great benefits of Obamacare before you make decisions. That’s all I have to say.”

What Has Obamacare Done to Julia?



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Remember Julia? She was the hipster living in a dependency world, a poster child for President Obama’s reelection campaign and his worldview. Now she, not unlike many Americans, is dealing with the realities of the president’s health-care law. She’s got her rejection letter and the future is a little less certain than advertised. That’s the story the Independent Women’s Forum tells in a spinoff of the famous Obama campaign, this one not endorsed by the White House, but illustrating the implications of its policies. Hadley Heath is senior policy analyst at IWF and talks to National Review Online about “The Real Life of Julia.”


KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ:  Why is Julia important to still be talking about?

HADLEY HEATH: The Obama 2012 campaign’s “Julia” really epitomized the Left’s view of women as helpless wards of the state, and of government as the ultimate provider of every need. This wasn’t a realistic vision of women or of government’s role in our lives. We wanted to revisit Julia’s life to depict the real-life effects of progressive policies, not just their good intentions. The original Julia ad may have convinced some voters, but many Americans are disillusioned with President Obama’s agenda. Moving forward, we need to remind people of just how out-of-touch the whole Julia concept is.

 

 

LOPEZ: Who is she, really? 

HEATH: Julia is meant to be a representation of the everyday American woman. She’s a mom, she has to balance her individual pursuits with the needs of her son, and she’s middle income. Even if women don’t personally identify with Julia, they know her: She’s our colleague, classmate, friend, or family member.


LOPEZ: Why, in the IWF version of her life, did Julia get a letter canceling her health policy?

HEATH: Because millions of Americans — perhaps as many as 7million — have already received such cancellation letters. Regardless of the administration’s extensions or exemptions, we believe that this is just the beginning and more and more men and women will be finding cancellation letters in their mailboxes. The point of Obamacare is to standardize insurance coverage, and along the way many Americans will lose the coverage they had and liked . . . despite assurances to the contrary. Changes have already come to individual insurance plans; large- and small-group plans are next.

Keep reading this post . . .

Congrats to FSU



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The successful fake punt in the second quarter was the turning point. 

Re ‘Rodman Explodes . . .’



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AJ, did you see that Jesse Jackson tweeted his support for Rodman? He said that ping-pong diplomacy “worked in China,” and basketball “seems to work in North Korea.” (That’s an amazing hedge-word from the Reverend, “seems.”)

Moral giants, all around us.

P.S. Jesse Jackson once went down to Cuba, to bask in the aura of Fidel Castro. He chanted, “Viva Castro! Viva Che Guevara!” WFB, debating Jackson on television, asked whether, in wishing long life to Castro, he was at the same time wishing short life to his political prisoners. 

Today’s Problem



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On my way to work this morning, I passed a Chinese restaurant that had a sign up, reading “$3 beers for gentlemen all day.” Now, I don’t care where you are in Manhattan, $3 a beer is a pretty sweet deal; you can walk out of the place a few hours later completely loaded, and your wallet is only $30 lighter.

But note the condition: The bargain is offered only to “gentlemen.” How on earth could I prove, to the satisfaction of the restaurant managers, that I am a gentleman? The definition of gentleman I try to live by is that formulated by John Henry Newman. A gentleman, he wrote, is “one who never inflicts pain,” who “observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend”; furthermore, “he has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice.”

Now, that might describe me on (some parts of) an especially good day. But what if a friend of mine walks into this restaurant and tells the bartender a story from one of my bad days? All of a sudden I’m paying $8.95 a beer again.

(Incidentally, a prediction: They’ll have to change the sign, because someone threatens a lawsuit for discrimination against women.)

Burke, Paine, and Us



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My new Bloomberg View column discusses a book that you may have heard mentioned here.

Sometimes the deepest differences in politics aren’t about the conclusions people draw but the way they reach them.

The British statesman Edmund Burke and the Anglo-American revolutionary Thomas Paine both favored free trade, for example, but for different reasons. The radical Paine believed that free trade would spread rationality and enlightenment and thus help bring war and tyranny to an end. The conservative Burke thought that government interference with trade would likely do more harm than good.

The difference in outlook between the two men, as Yuval Levin argues in a fine new book called “The Great Debate,” underlies much of our politics more than 200 years after they wrote their pamphlets and essays.

Black and Red, Same Color



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Today, we continue our series “Freedom Fighter,” about János Horváth, the Hungarian (and American, and Hungarian again). Like his country at large in the 1940s, he experienced both Nazism and Communism. (Communism, needless to say, lasted a lot longer.) He fought each of them: and was imprisoned by both Nazis and Communists (sentenced to death by the former).

I said to him, “I’m going to ask you an unfair question — a very unfair question, even a dumb question: Which was worse, Nazism or Communism?” He gave me one word: “Same.” He repeated it: “Same.”

He went on to say, “We could discuss this question for a long time, and analyze it from different angles. But, when all is said and done, both Nazism and Communism are tyranny. Murder. Murderous people decide to murder others, just because those others see the world differently.”

I’d like to share a personal memory, here on the Corner. I was a sophomore in college, I think, and I knew of a professor whom others didn’t like. They said he was weird, right-wing, a nut. I figured there must be something good about him — because I didn’t respect his detractors very much.

He was a German who had been through the war, and he was a great scholar. (This was evident to me later.) In his office, I talked to him a bit about world affairs — the Sandinistas and so on. He said something I’ve never forgotten: “If the boot is stomping on your face, it doesn’t matter whether it’s black or red [i.e., fascist or Communist]. It’s still a boot, stomping on your face.”

As I look back, this was a simple, elementary statement — hardly worth stating. But in that time and place, it struck me as daring, radical — and, of course, true. (Not long after, I was to encounter Orwell and many others. I was to encounter, and embrace, alien ideas, thanks mainly to Commentary and National Review.)

At New York City’s mayoral inauguration last week, there were hearty supporters of the Castro dictatorship. One of them gave the opening remarks: Harry Belafonte. And the new mayor, Bill de Blasio? He was admiring enough to spend his honeymoon in Cuba (when he was in his 30s). He thought the Sandinistas were swell. I do not think he has “evolved,” as they say.

And José Serrano and Charlie Rangel (good ol’ “Chollie”)? Were those New York congressmen there?

I am talking about people who love Fidel Castro more than they do their own mothers, probably. They don’t care about boots stomping on human faces, so long as those boots are red. As for me, color makes no difference (in more senses than one). Same with you, I bet.

Definitely same with János Horváth (who ran for Congress but didn’t make it — but who made it to the Hungarian parliament, in the 1940s and now).

Rodman Explodes on CNN



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​Tired of people asking him about his relationship with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Dennis Rodman erupted with a profanity-laden tirade directed against CNN’s Chris Cuomo. After a tense, near-20-minute interview, what triggered Rodman’s explosion was Cuomo’s question about whether he would address Kim’s imprisonment of Kenneth Bae, an American held for over a year in the country.

Rodman, who has called Kim “a friend for life,” seemed at first to justify Bae’s imprisonment by asking Cuomo if he knew what Bae had done. Cuomo replied that the North Korean government has yet to give a reason for the imprisonment; Rodman then said he “would love to speak on this,” before changing the subject. The Hall of Famer later called on critics to recognize the sacrifice that he and the other NBA players had to make to leave their families to make the trip.

As Cuomo continued to press him on the issue, a cigar-wielding Rodman lost it. “I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think,” Rodman yelled.

“You’re the guy behind the mic right now — we’re the guys here doing one thing,” he continued. “We have to go back to America — do you have to take the abuse that we’re going to take?!”

Charles D. Smith, one of the former players accompanying Rodman, assured Cuomo that there was no political message or element to their trip. “We’re not here to talk politics, so outside of that, any questions that come back through that is baiting us to get into politics,” he said.

Along with Smith, Rodman brought over six other former NBA players to take part in an exhibition game for Kim’s birthday this week.

Anti-Redskins Tribe Disputes Poll Showing Support for Name



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The Oneida Indian Nation is refusing to accept recent polling that finds widespread, bipartisan support for the Redskins’ name. The tribe took issue with Public Policy Polling’s phrasing of the question for not stating that the name is offensive.

“Incredibly, in asking Americans their opinion of the R-word, this poll deliberately omitted the fact that the term is a dictionary-defined racial slur that social-science data proves has destructive public-health consequences for Native Americans,” said a spokesperson. “We are confident that when given all the facts, most Americans do not support denigrating any group with slurs.”

PPP fired back by saying it asked respondents their opinion on the name in a straightforward manner: “Do you think the Washington Redskins should change their nickname, or not?” According to the survey, 71 percent do not believe the team should change the Redskins name, while 18 percent do.

Critics of the Redskins’ name have based their case on large numbers of people finding the name offensive and considering it a racial slur. Along with the PPP poll, other surveys have found that a vast majority of people support the team keeping its name, including among American Indians.

St. Bernard



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Today’s Between the Covers podcast is with historical novelist Bernard Cornwell, author of The Pagan Lord. We discuss how close England came to being a place called “Daneland,” what London was like in the 10th century, and where fact ends and fiction starts in Cornwell’s genre.

More Zora



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Addendum to Zora: Roger Clegg wrote on her for NRO a while back:

I will not argue that Hurston was a conservative — as Boyd says, “we don’t know” how she would have taken to Clarence Thomas — but there was much about her that conservatives should find endearing. She was anti-Communist (in 1951, she wrote an article for American Legion Magazine titled “Why the Negro Won’t Buy Communism”), patriotic (“My country, right or wrong,” she wrote in 1928), “a registered Republican” (not so unusual for African Americans not so very long ago) — who supported Robert Taft in his 1952 presidential bid and, in other elections, opposed Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Claude Pepper — and a proud Southerner.

But what is most refreshing is not so much her overt politics as her attitude toward race, and race relations — and the very fact that she was obsessed with neither. She was criticized by black activist authors like Richard Wright because she did not believe that African-American artists had a duty to advance some political agenda. W. E. B. DuBois had declared in 1926, “I do not care a damn for any art that is not used for propaganda.” So Hurston knew that “Negroes were supposed to write about the Race Problem,” but maintained nonetheless, “I was and am thoroughly sick of the subject. My interest lies in what makes a man or woman do such-and-so, regardless of his color.”

Watching Obamacare



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The Editors assess how it’s going.

Tomorrow morning, so will a panel of experts at the American Enterprise Institute in D.C.: Joseph Antos, James Capretta, and Thomas Miller. You can sign up here.

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