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The Week

(Roman Genn)



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Floyd Corkins II, a 28-year-old unemployed man, walked into the Washington headquarters of the socially conservative Family Research Council and shot Leonardo Johnson, the building’s guard, in the arm. Corkins said, as he and Johnson struggled, “I don’t like your politics.” Corkins, who was a volunteer at a local gay-rights center, was also carrying a backpack filled with Chick-fil-A sandwiches — amulets of evil, apparently. Imagine the furor if the FRC were on the left and Corkins on the right. Still, conservatives should not make a counter-furor of their own. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council slammed the Southern Poverty Law Center for “inciting this environment of hostility” toward his group. The SPLC has indeed branded the FRC a “hate group” — a grotesque designation. But polemicists of all persuasions routinely seek to incite environments of hostility; it is one of the tools of controversy. America has laws and mores that keep controversy within bounds. When the evil or the unbalanced cross those bounds they should be punished. Let the controversy continue, and may the right prevail.

James Hayes has filed an interesting lawsuit. He is the head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in New York, and his lawsuit is against Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, and the Department of Homeland Security itself. He claims that he and other men have faced a “hostile work environment,” an “atmosphere that is targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees.” He also maintains that he was passed over for promotion in favor of Napolitano’s female friends, and that he was demoted to make way for one. Hayes’s claims are supported by many of his colleagues. His specific allegations make for nauseating reading. One of the women he has accused, Suzanne Barr, has placed herself on voluntary leave. If Hayes were a Democratic woman, filing suit against Republican male officials, the story would be a big one, nationally. As it is, the story is worth keeping an eye on. Goose, gander.

America’s breadbasket is enduring one of the worst droughts in recent history. President Obama didn’t let this crisis go to waste, using it as an opportunity to demagogue to farmers in Iowa. Obama called out Paul Ryan for being “one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way” of disaster relief contained in the long-contested farm bill, even though Ryan voted for, and the House passed, a narrow $383 million emergency-relief measure and sent it to the Senate. But instead of passing the measure themselves, President Obama and his Democratic allies are holding the Midwest hostage in the name of a $1 trillion big-government goodie bag laden with useless, Dust Bowl–relic subsidies to agribusiness and unprecedented welfare spending. The bill spends fully $800 billion over ten years on food stamps. Already the nation’s second-largest welfare program behind Medicaid, food stamps have seen their rolls explode in recent years, to the point that one in seven Americans is now on the dole. Reformers in the House, including Ryan, want to return food-stamp spending to what it was before 2008 (hardly an epoch without a safety net) and disburse funds as block grants to the states. If the president and Democrats in the Senate oppose this, let them fight on the merits. Instead, the president is blaming Paul Ryan for obstructionism, when it is the White House’s commitment to expanding (corporate and individual) welfare that has left Iowa high, and dry.

In a recent column for Time magazine, Fareed Zakaria argued that America’s high rate of gun ownership was the cause of America’s high murder rate. It was quickly discovered that Zakaria had borrowed parts of the column from an article in The New Yorker without attribution, an infraction that earned Zakaria a suspension from both Time and CNN. Unfortunately, the plagiarism scandal eclipsed the debate about gun control, which is far more consequential. Zakaria’s argument was incredibly weak, as are most arguments based on international comparisons: It failed to mention that America had a higher murder rate than Europe even before European countries began enacting strict gun control, and it failed to take into account demographic differences between America and other countries. Even one of the arguments Zakaria borrowed from The New Yorker — that, according to a 1939 Supreme Court decision, people who are not in an officially sanctioned militia do not have Second Amendment rights — is simply false. The next time he borrows someone’s words, he should check for quality.


Contents
September 10, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, NO. 17

Republican Convention Special
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Sean Trende reviews An American Son: A Memoir, by Marco Rubio, and The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Roig-Franzia.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Queen of Versailles.
  • Richard Brookhiser evaluates the transatlantic exchange.
Sections
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .