Scott Spiegel

Subscribe


Archive for the ‘Columns’

Are Clogged Arteries and Type 2 Diabetes Patriotic?

August 27, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Miscellaneous

Fast-FoodsWhen you look at it one way, conservatives are absolutely correct to defend Burger King’s right to move its headquarters to Canada to avoid crippling U.S. corporate tax rates, and to call out liberals who label such decisions “unpatriotic” as economically illiterate.

On the other hand, Burger King and dozens of fast-food chains like it contribute to the alarmingly rapid rise of obesity and associated diseases that cut people down in the prime of their lives and disproportionately hit Republican-leaning states. So there’s that.

On Monday, Burger King Worldwide Inc. announced its plans to bid on the $8.4 billion Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons. The move would allow BK to merge with Hortons, reposition its headquarters north, and capitalize on Canada’s 15% corporate tax rate, which is well below the U.S.’s 35% rate. Other companies around the world have been seeking similar moves in a recent trend known as “tax inversion.” (This should not be confused with what the Obama administration has been doing to our economy, which is a recent trend known as “prosperity inversion.”)

Democrats like Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and pseudo-conservatives like Joe Scarborough predictably accused Burger King of “abandoning their country,” called for a boycott, and threatened new regulations that would crimp such deals, including a “minimum global corporate tax rate.” (Wouldn’t a minimum global tax rate agitate major contributors to Democratic presidential campaigns?)

In contrast, Republicans correctly defended the fast food chain’s proposed acquisition and merger as being in the economic interest of the shareholders to whom it has a duty to make money.

That’s all well and good; Republicans have been consistent in defending such principles. Bravo for them.

But can I ask about something that’s been bothering me: Why are conservatives always so quick to jump to the defense of companies that push mass-produced, preservative-laden, artificially-flavored, nutritionally-stunted, lowest-common-denominator fare? (Or, as it’s also known in other settings, “Democratic policy proposals”?) Can we Republicans support the right of businesses to sell whatever products they want and express whatever political views they hold, without leaping to champion the virtues of low cuisine?

According to a recent Experian survey, conservatives support the following right-leaning companies that dump artery-clogging garbage on the public: Chick-fil-A, whose CEO has supported anti-gay groups; Domino’s Pizza, whose former CEO funds pro-life groups; McDonald’s, which has ignored criticism from workers protesting for higher wages; Waffle House, which donated to Karl Rove’s group American Crossroads; Wendy’s, which used to belong to the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council; and White Castle, which donated to House Speaker John Boehner’s Super PAC.

Right-wingers flock to feed on the hefty fare offered by gut-busting outfits like Carl’s Jr., Dairy Queen, Denny’s, Hardee’s, KFC, Outback Steakhouse, and Steak’n Shake. They gush over politically incorrect, obesity-glorifying joints like Arizona’s Heart Attack Grill and Delray Beach’s Heart Stopper Grill with the rebelliousness of a mulish teenager who gets his nose pierced just to anger his parents.

The free market-embracing Burger King, for its part, recently announced its plan to offer cheeseburgers, Whoppers, chicken sandwiches, fries, and apple pies… on its breakfast menu.

Meanwhile, liberals frequent the (relatively) healthy Au Bon Pain, Chipotle, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Jamba Juice, Panera Bread, Panda Express, P. F. Chang’s, Qdoba, Quiznos Sub, Starbucks, and Subway, all of which are lower on the heart-attack-causing and heart-stopping indexes.

The healthy/unhealthy pattern also holds for supermarkets: Liberals get their groceries at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods; conservatives slum it at Foodtown and the Piggly Wiggly.

Is there something inherently, shamefully liberal about having refined or healthy tastes? Is it essential for conservatives’ pride in their country to uphold the stereotype that our version of haute cuisine is carnival food?

Dying of a heart attack in one’s 40s doesn’t strike me as an effective way to bolster Republican voting rolls. Are we determined to let aging hippies vote into their ninth decade while we remain planted on our extra-wide, steel-reinforced sofas watching FOX News?

Conservatives pride themselves on thinking long-term, exercising self-discipline, and doing the right thing even if it doesn’t feel good in the here and now. Why does this sensible ideological stance never apply to food?

I think it’s possible to oppose Michelle Obama’s poorly conceived, excessively intrusive overhaul of America’s school lunches without dismissing its goal of helping fewer children get fat in their preteen years and die prematurely of painful and expensive diseases.

If that’s too much to ask, could conservatives at least admit that bacon and kale taste delicious together?

Print This Post Print This Post

The Perverse Political Calculus of the Race-Baiters

August 20, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Racism

MIKEBROWN1Continuing the theme of my column last week on the perverse moral calculus of the Israel-bashers, I thought I’d highlight parallels between that warped mindset and the twisted PR campaign racial agitators are staging in Ferguson, Missouri over the shooting death of Michael Brown, since the two phenomena have so much in common.

In assessing the culpability of two parties in a racial conflict, several factors should be considered. Unfortunately, race-baiters don’t give a damn about any of them.

First and foremost is whether the victim threatened the other party. Did Trayvon Martin jump George Zimmerman and start beating him? Did Michael Brown punch Officer Darren Wilson and charge toward him? Those who leap to defend the victim and indict society as racist don’t care. They selectively interpret evidence to favor their position or dismiss the question of threat as immaterial.

Also relevant are the two parties’ moral character, which helps us infer intent. Does the accused party have a record of treating people fairly? Do witnesses attest that he was not a prejudiced person? Is the injured party of questionable character, having demonstrated immaturity or poor impulse control via a criminal record, substance abuse, or an affinity for violent cultural tropes?

According to the race-baiters, none of that matters, either. Because this is an inherently racist society, they argue, even people who don’t usually display racist behavior are secretly seething over the prominence and autonomy of black people, and are just waiting to pounce on the nearest innocent victim as payback. Meanwhile a history of truancy, theft, or misogyny reveals nothing about a black victim’s character, because such behavior is a mere surface reaction to oppression by a hostile culture.

Forensic evidence disconfirming the racial narrative certainly doesn’t count. Recall how racial agitators irresponsibly asserted that Zimmerman had called Martin a “coon” until closer analysis of the 911 audiotape demonstrated otherwise. Remember how some liberals claimed that Zimmerman had faked his broken nose and the grass stains on his back? Race-baiters are always ready to explain away inconvenient testimony or evidence.

If self-defense, character, and evidence don’t matter, what does?

As with the Israel-bashers’ outrage over casualties resulting from Israel defending itself against daily barrages of Hamas rockets, what gets race-baiters riled up is the mere extremity of the act committed. It doesn’t matter why the assailant acted—whether he felt threatened or feared for his life or thought a suspect was getting away. A fatal shooting, completely justified or not, is all that’s required to start the race-baiters swooning over a victim.

Also linking the Israel-bashers and race-baiters is faux concern for the weak and oppressed—which actually reflects their distaste for the strong and self-sufficient. The left shows more respect for a victim who’s strung out on an addictive substance, comes from a broken home, and takes out his frustrations by harming others than they would a healthy, productive member of society. Would liberals be as enraged over Michael Brown’s death if Ferguson were an upper-middle class enclave with mostly college-going black residents? Would anti-Semites be as furious with Israel if it had a second-rate military and a third-world economy?

The left so loves a good sob story that we’re now witnessing Amnesty International representatives filing into Ferguson to mediate the situation. Never mind that half of Africa is riven with violence and desperately craves international aid. The fiction that blacks are as oppressed in Middle America as they are under Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe is too good (and safe) for AI to pass up.

(As further proof of the Israel-bashing/race-baiting connection, many of the AI mediators in Ferguson just got back from stints in Gaza tending to wounded Palestinians, many of whom voted Hamas into power in 2006 and still support its mission.)

As with the Israel-bashers, race-baiters play up the extremity of the defensive measures used against aggressors, such as the shots Wilson fired at Brown or the riot control techniques Ferguson police are using against looters. According to the race-baiters’ political calculus, if the measures that defenders of the social order adopt are more extreme than those aggressors use, then the gun- and tear gas-holders are the ones who are the monsters. All we need be concerned about is the “militarization” of the police and the imposition of late-night curfews—not whether the techniques police use are warranted by the circumstances.

Note how all of the things that should matter in evaluating cases like Martin’s and Brown’s—reconstructing the crime scene, interviewing acquaintances, processing physical evidence—take time. But waiting until the public’s potential to be emotionally manipulated has dissipated is unacceptable, because it neutralizes the race-baiters’ tactics.

No, the tools racial agitators use are always immediately available—simplistic media reporting on a sensationalistic case, the public’s readiness to have their opinions shaped by anyone savvy enough to take control of the narrative, mobilization of angry mobs whose noisiness lends credibility to their cause.

Has there ever been a case in which an allegation of racially motivated violence was made and members of the mainstream media reacted more strongly in favor of the victim after the evidence was scrutinized than when they first reported the story? I’m waiting for the day when a New York Times columnist writes, “I was skeptical about the claim and refused to get emotional—but now, six weeks later, after the police have sketched a timeline and collected DNA and ruled out the accused party’s defense as preposterous, I’m outraged for the first time!”

Such a reaction would never occur, because it would require left-leaning reporters to sacrifice the propaganda value of race-baiting for open-minded journalistic integrity.

Print This Post Print This Post

The Perverse Moral Calculus of the Israel-Bashers

August 13, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Israel

ShowImage.ashxAccording to commentators who condemn Israel’s “disproportionate” use of force against Hamas, the fact that Israel is a Western-style democracy and Hamas is a terrorist organization seems to hold zero moral weight in the justness of the two parties’ causes.

Initiating random acts of aggression also appears to entail no moral culpability. Hamas started the latest conflict, as Israel’s enemies always do, but the world will never take it to task for doing so.

Also playing zero part in justifying support for one side or the other are the honor and consistency of the two sides. Israel regularly offers humanitarian ceasefires and sticks to them; Hamas occasionally accedes to ceasefires and always violates them. But Israel never gets credit for its conciliatory stance, and Hamas is never punished for its capricious rejection of peace offerings.

No, the most important factor in determining moral culpability in the minds of the Israel-bashers is: how many people your side killed. The fewer people you killed, the more righteous your cause; the more people you killed, the less righteous.

Conversely, the more people on your side who are killed, the more just your cause; the fewer killed, the less just. How convenient.

The Palestinians have suffered 1,900 casualties, and Israel has lost only 64 people. Israel is a monster!

Related to this simplistic body count factor is how successful your side is at protecting your residents from attacks by the other side. The worse you are at protecting your people, the more you get off scot-free; the better you are at saving lives on your side, the more you are to blame.

A corollary of this twisted standard is that primitive foes of Israel without sophisticated missile detection and destruction systems like Israel’s Iron Dome get less blame than those that are more technologically advanced. This inverse technology-culpability relationship dovetails with the fact that more advanced societies have more reliable weapons, and thus cause greater damage to their enemies’ territory, than those with more makeshift operations.

In other words, if you want the world to defend you against Israel, don’t learn how to defend yourself.

But the most perverse element of the Israel-bashers’ calculus is the backwards manner in which they factor in the impact of the warring parties’ comparative systems of government. According to leftists’ accounting system, the more tyrannical the government that one side elected, the less we can expect of them in the way of observing international conventions of war and humanitarian concerns. The more freedom-upholding the government the other side elected, the more we must expect of them in the way of sacrificing their interests to those of barbarians.

For example, when Hamas terrorists station rocket launchers in playgrounds, hospitals, and mosques, and trick Palestinians into staying put when Israeli attacks are imminent, the world sighs, “We don’t expect any better from Hamas.”

But when Israel takes pains to avoid civilian casualties, often at the expense of casualties on its own side, yet inevitably leaves behind damage in the wake of its attacks, the world accuses it of war crimes and genocide and pressures it to agree to suicidal ceasefires.

In a nutshell: Hamas intentionally houses its military operations in densely-crowded residential enclaves; Israel warns residents to leave before bombing those neighborhoods; yet the world blames Israel anyway for wantonly destroying people’s homes.

Note that the world isn’t just holding Israel to a higher standard, then allying with Israel against Hamas as the lesser of two evils. The world actually expects Israel to sacrifice its right to self-defense to prove how noble it is, and to submit to Hamas because Hamas is so morally degraded it can’t behave any better.

Israel also gets slammed when individual rogue actors who don’t reflect the government’s stance engage in revenge killings, even though they are subsequently condemned by the government and the nation. When Hamas supporters do the same thing, Western journalists tell us that they were provoked by an intolerable longstanding arrangement involving their displacement by Israel—a lie even the Palestinians don’t believe—and so any kind of bad behavior on their part is justified.

To sum up: If you’re an enemy of Israel, the key to winning international approval is getting more of your civilians killed, failing to protect them, and using them as human shields; remaining technologically primitive, stifling the economic activity and scientific innovation that would generate the wealth and knowledge needed to fund and develop an advanced military; and not giving the world reason to believe you will behave any way other than barbarically, so that they’re never disappointed when you live down to their expectations.

If you want the world to hate you, just develop your weapons defense systems, fulfill your duty to protect your citizens, and live up to a civilized moral standard.

Who Does the Left Think Voted for Hamas, Tea Partiers?

August 06, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Israel

image1367055224-14658-Place01-0_s660x390The plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who have been killed as a result of the Israeli Defense Force’s incursion into the region to destroy Hamas’s network of terror tunnels might be a bit more compelling if the Palestinians hadn’t been the ones to vote Hamas into power in the first place.

Every time NPR does one of their weepy stories in which they interview destitute Gazans who have been displaced from their homes as a result of the fighting, I wish the reporter would toss out the question, “By the way, did you vote for Hamas?” In a six-way election for the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, 44% of Palestinians did, so you’d think NPR would run across at least a couple of diehard Hamasniks among the dozens of unwitting human shields they speak to every week.

Meanwhile, The New York Times and other liberal news sites are fond of featuring an ongoing tally of the number of Gazans vs. Israelis killed in the conflict, which currently runs at about 30-to-1. How about showing ongoing polls of the percentage of Palestinians who still support Hamas?

Lest Hamas’s ideology still be unclear to some Westerners, “Hamas” is short for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah (Islamic Resistance Movement), and is also a cutesy acronym that means “Enthusiasm,” as in “Enthusiasm for Murdering Jews.”

Hamas’s raison d’être is to destroy Israel. Hamas—an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood—has branch offices in the following locations: Israel’s neighbor Lebanon, Israel’s neighbor Syria, the Egypt-Gaza border, Gaza, the West Bank, and elsewhere in Israel. In other words, Israel is a big, fat, bull’s-eye in Hamas’s radar.

Palestinian activists decry Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as though the Jews were just doing it to be meanies. No, they’re doing it to protect themselves from Hamas soldiers crossing the border and blowing up Israeli crowds in suicide attacks, and they don’t particularly care if that means Palestinians’ supply of fertilizer and night vision goggles is shut off.

But even blockades aren’t enough to fend off the Hamas threat. Hamas has received international shipments of thousands of tons of concrete over the past decade that were intended for constructing schools and hospitals and apartments. Instead, Hamas used the concrete to build a recently-discovered, miles-long, underground tunnel system through which they had planned to carry out raids into Israel to kidnap soldiers and trade them at a ratio of 1,000 Hamas terrorists-to-one Israeli.

And now the international community is going to be guilted into donating to help rebuild Gaza’s infrastructure?

Hamas maintains Palestinians’ perpetual support by bribing them with relief efforts—medical care, food banks, orphanages—but this is no excuse for the Palestinians to have voted them into power and continued to support them. Hamas has been a known terrorist organization for decades. Hamas operatives have been killing Israelis Jews since 1989, and have been carrying out attacks in the West Bank since 1994. The Palestinians can’t pretend that they didn’t know what would happen if they voted Hamas into power, or couldn’t anticipate that their neighbors would continue their blockade for security reasons.

Israel, foolishly magnanimous as it is toward the Palestinians, frequently agrees to the aim of a two-state solution after overwhelming international pressure. Hamas, in its most conciliatory and expansive mood, occasionally accedes to a “temporary” two-state solution. Yet every time Israel generously proposes an actual solution—e.g., a return to the pre-1967 War borders—Hamas spits on Israel’s offer and resumes firing rockets.

Peace and reconciliation are not part of Hamas’ vocabulary, nor that of the Palestinians who support them. Compared to civilized nations, Islamic terrorist groups live in Opposite Land, where gestures of magnanimity are interpreted as signs of weakness, and only preemptive self-defensive attacks lead to a cessation of aggression.

Hamas’s leaders openly describe their dream of one day hanging maps on the wall that contain Palestine but not Israel. Does that sound like a political party with which the Jews can negotiate?

Given the Palestinians’ undying spiritual and electoral support for Hamas, Jimmy Carter’s recent nutty editorial arguing that the U.S. should recognize Hamas as a legitimate entity isn’t that much nuttier than the widely held view that we should recognize the Palestinians as having a legitimate political perspective.

Print This Post Print This Post

Time to Call Pro-Immigration Democrats’ Bluff

July 30, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Immigration

JapaneseAmericanDetaineesHave anti-immigration conservatives finally lost it?

Consider Mark Levin, who recently announced that if President Barack Obama issues an executive order granting amnesty to millions of illegal U.S. immigrants, it would be “the greatest act of despotism” since President Franklin Roosevelt detained over a hundred-thousand Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II.

Got that? Giving a reprieve to people who voluntarily emigrated here to make a better life for themselves, who have imposed no obligation on anyone who chooses not to hire them or rent them housing, and who are willing to take their chances economically and risk having to trudge home empty-handed, is the moral equivalent of imprisoning 90% of an entire U.S. racial group, retarding their chances for economic and social advancement, and scarring their children for life.

I’m trying to crystallize in a succinct phrase what these two executive orders have in common, and I’ve settled on: Nothing.

One act (FDR’s mass internment) was an egregious violation of human rights about a step up from herding European Jews into concentration camps. The other act (Obama’s amnesty declaration) would involve telling immigrants who fled debilitating economic or political conditions that our overburdened immigration processing centers will no longer be hounding them out of the country while we address a million other more pressing domestic and defense concerns.

Why, when it comes to immigration, are conservatives incapable of distinguishing between forcing people to do something and not forcing them to do something? Forcing as in forcing them to leave their homes and gather their possessions and live behind barbed wire fences? Violating their individual rights, their due process rights, basically every right in the Constitution simply because they happen to be of a particular ancestry? Ignoring the qualities or intentions or actions of individual Japanese Americans, a majority of whom were U.S. citizens—just snatching them, sticking them in massive holding yards, and treating them like interchangeable pawns?

Contrast these forcible actions with the hands-off approach of granting amnesty to non-felons, which would simply involve not hunting people down, not shackling them in federal detention centers, and not driving them hundreds of miles to places the immigration officials hauling them and the politicians ordering them there would never choose to live and thank God every day they were fortunate enough not to be born in. Amnesty could easily be designed so as not to promise illegal immigrants any right other than the right not to be deported, to not make any guarantees of citizenship or voting privileges or welfare eligibility, to not supply them with fancy tri-color materials printed in their native languages or counselors from their countries of origin to help them adjust emotionally.

Why can’t conservatives who rightly bemoan the behemoth welfare state—an enormous problem even without immigrants—focus on the real issue instead of the non-threat of Mexican day laborers? Why can’t conservatives be smart and learn to trade welfare- and entitlement-related concessions for immigration terms that won’t hurt the country if they’re balanced by federal spending cuts?

Conservatives should make a list of every point liberals are demanding—increased quotas, taking in more refugees, not deporting people who haven’t committed other crimes, letting illegal immigrants work, putting immigrants on a path to citizenship, giving immigrants access to benefits, spending money to help them adjust—and decide which are acceptable and will bring in the type of immigrant we want, and which are unacceptable and will result in waves of parasitical future Democratic voters.

For example, increasing quotas, taking in more refugees, not deporting non-felonious aliens, and letting illegal immigrants work are benign. Fast-tracking immigrants to citizenship without their having to learn the language and assimilate, giving them federal benefits, and spending money to help them adjust are not.

Why can’t conservatives agree not to deport millions of illegal immigrants in exchange for scaling back the welfare state? When liberals claim that they care only about admitting foreigners who want to come here and work, and that such immigrants will improve our economy, why not say, “OK, we’ll let them stay, but they aren’t eligible for federal benefits—and, since their presence will improve our economy, we’re not going to need as much federal welfare. Where would you like to cut the first trillion dollars?”

There’s a way for conservatives to be smart about the immigration conundrum without wrecking our economy or coming off like meanies who hate minorities.

Print This Post Print This Post

Free Hot Water: The New Civil Rights Movement

July 23, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Columns, Racism

20100722raceSince Democrats seem to think everything is racist except their own party’s history and the screwball schemes they’ve inflicted on us since then to atone for it, I thought I’d post a primer on interpreting a recent spate of racially-tinged events, a sort of Racism for Dummies. How many can you get right?

Event: Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department recently shut off water to 7,200 mostly black customers who haven’t paid their bills in months.

According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which filed a lawsuit against the city, the shutoffs were racist, because there are white-led corporations with large unpaid water bills that haven’t had their water shut off. However, the difference is that said corporations have good credit, a history of reliable transactions with the city, and a public reputation to uphold. Not so for individual deadbeats, many of whom have been caught paying rogue operators cut-rate fees to get their water illegally turned back on.

Verdict: Not racism.

Event: The University of Wisconsin-Madison is considering “diversity-based grading.”

The University, which has publicly announced its goal of ensuring that its high-level and honors courses are filled with a racially diverse mix of students, recently announced that it may go a step further and work to guarantee that different racial groups are proportionately distributed across grade bands in such courses. UW economics professor W. Lee Hansen protested that such a policy could lead to non-white students getting higher grades than they deserve, and will likely accelerate grade inflation due to professors giving everyone high grades to avoid complaints.

Verdict: Racism.

(Were you fooled? Here’s a hint: There are other forms of racism besides anti-black. Try again!)

Event: Israel endures daily rocket attacks by Hamas, defends itself by destroying Hamas’s weapons and tunnels, and suffers accusations of war crimes.

Every democratic nation is unquestioningly allowed to defend itself against outside attack, except Israel. If Canada started lobbing missiles over the border and killing U.S. civilians, its army would be gone by the morning. But because the world has been brainwashed into believing that Islam is a peaceful religion and that its adherents would never use human shields by storing their weapons in schools, hospitals, and mosques, Israelis are called vile racist names and told that the conflict is their fault. And the verbal attacks don’t just emanate from the Arab League—they come from British MPs, Canadian citizens, and hot-miked U.S. Cabinet members.

Why are the Israelis treated differently?

Verdict: Racism.

Event: A police chief and two officers in Fruitland Park, Florida recently resigned after an under-cover reporter revealed their ties to the Ku Klux Klan.

Running interference for the left, the Associated Press downplayed the KKK’s exclusive roots in the Democratic Party—“[T]he Klan used to be politically powerful in the 1920s, when governors and U.S. senators were among its 4 million members” [emphasis added]—then stupidly compared this dying breed of troglodytes to Republicans: “[N]owadays it is much less active than other sectors of the radical right.” Oh really? Why not compare the Klan to other sectors of the radical left? The KKK did not emerge from the Republican Party, whose members fought it in the South in order to protect the rights of freed blacks. As the article notes, even up through the 1960s, the Klan was active in some parts of the country, and it wasn’t Republicans donning those white sheets.

The “radical right” has never had any ideological affinity with the Klan. Racist police officers in Fruitland Park reflect only their own racism.

Verdict: Racism. (That was an easy one. Consider it a free space on your bingo card.)

Event: Americans protest a black President’s policies, a pattern of behavior that Attorney General Eric Holder claims is driven by “racial animus.”

According to Holder, no U.S. President has ever been treated as harshly as Obama—not Reagan, whom liberals called demented while he was in office; not Clinton, who was impeached for lying about a couple of blow jobs; not George W. Bush, whom liberals burned and hung and crucified in effigy when they weren’t drawing Satanic horns on his head or Hitler mustaches on his face.

According to the left, referencing Obama’s exacerbation of welfare dependency, food stamps usage, and inner-city dysfunction is evidence of racism, because everyone knows that Republicans don’t expect white people to get jobs and raise their children, only blacks.

Verdict: Not racism.

And finally…

Event: A black teen films a montage of himself in a store while a racist clerk supposedly follows him around.

In one of the most pathetic attempts at race-baiting ever, a precocious kid named Rashid Polo cavorts around a convenience store, flamboyantly filming and talking to himself in several different aisles, while a female employee always seems to be stocking shelves or cleaning machinery behind him. The montage of Vine clips went viral and provoked a chorus of charges of racism. Curiously, we never glimpse the employee actually following Polo—we see only the two of them standing in place. In fact, the one time the employee emerges into the frame from off-camera, she seems surprised to see Polo—then smiles and politely backs away to avoid interrupting his photo shoot.

Verdict: Even the publicity-seeking, aspiring documentarian Rashid Polo doesn’t believe this is racism.

Print This Post Print This Post

Obama’s Transportation Bill: Taking Us for a Ride

July 16, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Economy

ObamaTrainNever trust a Democrat’s stated rationale for legislation he’s pushing. There’s always an ulterior motive, if not seven or eight.

Take President Obama, who’s been harping about transportation funding, not because it’s a national priority, but because it serves a host of other goals of his:

1. Obama changing the subject to transportation is meant to distract us from a rash of his scandals and policy failures.

When the border crisis, the IRS scandal, the lawsuit filed against you by the House Speaker, and the 13 unanimous Supreme Court rulings against you in the last two years get you down, just stage a photo op of yourself trying out a Knight Rider simulator. That’s how Obama handles the pressure. After visiting Texas to raise money for Congressional Democrats and stage a photo op drinking beer and playing pool—but not visiting the border—President Obama flew to McLean, Virginia to tour a transportation research facility: about the least critical place for him to be on Earth right now.

2. Dwelling on transportation reflects Obama’s lack of interest in foreign policy and the many international crises unfolding at the moment, and his preference for focusing on massively increasing domestic spending. Obama favors such profligacy, even though he expects the electorate to be too stupid not to notice that he’s been requesting and getting transportation funding for five-and-a-half years and has little to show for it.

What ever happened with that trillion-dollar stimulus package that was supposed to address our infrastructure woes and generate tens of thousands of shovel-ready jobs? Time and again since 2009 we’ve heard from Democrats that, well, we haven’t gotten quite enough funding for transportation, so we’re going to need to raise gas taxes and corporate taxes to rustle up a few more dollars, and then everything will run smoothly and we’ll never ask for extra funds again.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) press release for Obama’s request gushes that it “reflects President Obama’s vision for a four-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that would create millions of jobs and lay the foundation for long-term competitiveness, rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges…” I think we’ve heard that spiel before, and it gets less convincing every time the administration repeats it.

3. Emphasizing transportation gives Obama an excuse to lecture Republicans and dredge up an election-year issue to help Senate Democrats.

In McLean, Obama berated Republicans for not appropriating enough money for federal spending on roads and bridges. Speaking several hours before the House passed an $11 billion stopgap transportation bill that funds highway maintenance through next May, Obama scolded, “Congress shouldn’t pat itself on the back for averting disaster for a few months, kicking the can down the road for a few months, careening from crisis to crisis.”

This is rich coming from Obama, under whom the Senate failed for three consecutive years to pass or propose a federal budget, said recklessness precipitating years of fiscal cliffs, debt ceiling crises, and last-minute continuing resolutions.

And those fiascos concerned the entire federal budget. Obama’s FY15 request for the DOT is a mere $77 billion ($302 billion over four years), compared to the FY14 federal budget request of $3.77 trillion. Apparently we can ignore the entire federal budget for three years, but must obsess over one sliver that Obama wants to focus on right now.

4. If passed, the bill would service a host of far-left causes.

Obama’s transportation bill is motivated, not by a desire to see more cars and trucks on the road facilitating commerce and raising our standard of living, but an obsession with impractical high-speed rail, bike and pedestrian lanes, erosion prevention, global warming reduction, and showing that we can blow as much of our federal budget on transportation as China.

DOT’s press release announces that one of the bill’s benefits is “training women, minorities, and veterans to fill the jobs gap in transit through innovative new workforce development programs.” That’s about a step up in relevance to the department’s mission from NASA’s goal of promoting outreach to Muslims.

5. Most of all, Obama’s bill is designed to keep transportation and other areas of funding grounded within the federal government and prevent them from migrating to the state and local level.

Though the House’s stopgap measure passed by a large margin, some conservative Republicans objected. They favor cutting gas taxes and federal transportation aid and leaving construction projects to states and localities. But Obama opposes decentralization of spending, as it would undercut his claim “You didn’t build that.” Getting Washington out of the transportation arena would give the lie to the notion that private companies and innovators can’t do anything without the largesse of the federal government.

So the next time Obama or Congressional Democrats get on their soapboxes and lecture you about what you really need to be focusing on—transportation funding, student loans, the War on Women—just peek behind their lecterns and see what they’re really hiding.

Print This Post Print This Post

The Consequences of Democracy

July 09, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Obama

republicAs House Speaker John Boehner prepares his lawsuit against President Obama for excessive and illegal use of executive orders, consider that Obama’s behavior over the past five-and-a-half years reflects his having governed as though this country were a democracy.

As Hamilton Abert Long pointed out in his bicentennial volume The American Ideal of 1776, democracy—not “democracy” as in the feature of many political systems whereby everyone gets to participate in government—but the specific form of government that goes by that name, is not only dissimilar to republicanism (the system we live under) but its polar opposite.

Democracy as a system of government embodies unlimited majority rule, or majority rule without safeguards to protect the rights of the minority and individuals. The majority is omnipotent and can rule however it wants, no matter how shabbily it treats everyone else, so long as it can get fifty percent-plus-one representatives to agree.

In contrast, republicanism is about limited majority rule, specifically majority rule with safeguards built into a written constitution to protect the liberty of individuals and the minority, and with checks and balances among branches of government to prevent the tyranny of a few elite rulers.

The modern-day Democratic Party embodies the principles of a democracy, and the Republican Party embodies the principles of a republic. The unlimited majority rule that characterizes a democracy catalyzes a number of illegitimate governing tactics, all of which have been legion in the Obama presidency. For example:

  • Haste and recklessness

If all that matters is getting a majority to support your position, then why waste time letting people contemplate the implications of major legislation?

The brand-new Obama administration and Democratic Congress routinely broke promises to post bills online for 48 hours for voters to read. Democrats tried to rush Obamacare through Congress without having read it or become familiar with its details, while tossing major provisions in and out of the legislation willy-nilly in an effort to get something passed before the public started to object too strongly. And Harry Reid’s Democratic-controlled Senate refused, for three consecutive years, to pass or propose a federal budget as required by law, which resulted in an endless series of panicky, last-minute continuing resolutions and threats of fiscal cliffs that put Republicans on the defensive.

  • Cheating and rule-bending

If you can convince the public that it’s OK to use whichever tactics are necessary to accomplish an important goal, then why not use that consensus as political cover for actions you otherwise wouldn’t legally be allowed to take?

Democrats tried every maneuver under the sun to pass Obamacare, inappropriately using budget reconciliation to overcome a non-filibuster-proof Senate majority and attempting sleazy schemes like “deem and pass” and the Cornhusker Kickback. Recently Obama has announced endless delays and special breaks for various interest groups in implementing Obamacare, in an attempt to postpone the electoral consequences of carrying out its unpopular provisions.

Consider liberal cheating at the ballot box: Al Gore’s push for hand recounts using loosened standards in select counties in the 2000 Florida Presidential recount, or Al Franken stealing a Minnesota Senate election by finding a judge to approve alternative vote-counting standards. Or liberal double standards regarding appointed seats: Massachusetts Democrats withholding Governor Mitt Romney’s right to appoint a successor to John Kerry in 2004 and then changing the rules so Governor Deval Patrick could fill Ted Kennedy’s seat, or liberal Mayor Mike Bloomberg supporting the law that prevented Rudy Guiliani from serving more than two terms and then pushing to suspend it so he could serve three terms.

  • Usurping other branches’ powers

If other branches of government or private parties won’t cooperate in helping you enact your schemes, then why let checks and balances or limits on rule get in your way?

Consider Obama’s aforementioned inappropriate use of executive powers, including directing the EPA to enact carbon dioxide restrictions after Congress wouldn’t pass a bill doing so; making hiring and firing decisions for automobile manufacturers and banks; capping executive pay for companies that took bailout money; nationalizing the student loan system; appointing dozens of unaccountable czars; and unilaterally and illegally declaring dozens of delays to Obamacare.

  • Hypocrisy

If the integrity of political tactics doesn’t matter, only achieving your desired outcomes, then why bother to be consistent in which behaviors you condemn and which you practice?

Obama decried all of Bush’s post-9/11 security policies as a campaign strategy, then adopted almost all of them as his own once in office. Liberals loudly protested the Iraq War at townhall meetings under President George W. Bush, then denounced voters who attended townhall meetings to confront their representatives about Obamacare. And the left accused conservatives of politicizing the Benghazi attacks after the 2012 election, then got indignant when Republicans produced evidence that the administration had politicized the IRS audit process before the 2012 election.

  • Intimidation

If those out of power aren’t cooperating with your plans, then what’s wrong with reminding them of their place and putting your boot on their necks?

The administration threatened to sic the Department of Homeland Security on Tea Partiers; unleashed the IRS to subject conservative groups to extra scrutiny before the 2012 election; asked supporters to send along “fishy” information on Obamacare and the email addresses of those who sent it; and tried to regulate the Internet and talk radio to ensure “balanced” content.

*

The left denounces Boehner’s lawsuit as folly. Perhaps it won’t prevail in the courts. But a key feature of a republic is that the majority in power can’t just do whatever it wants if its actions violate rights enshrined in the constitution. If they try, officials in other branches of government can step in and try to curb their power. And that is exactly what suing the President is intended to accomplish.

Print This Post Print This Post

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Supreme Court’s Drama Queen

July 02, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Health Care

???????????????If Justice Clarence Thomas is the Supreme Court’s intellectual leader, surely Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is its resident drama queen.

On Monday the Supreme Court decided 5-4 in favor of craft supply store Hobby Lobby and cabinet maker Conestoga Wood Specialties, which filed suits against the federal government in 2012 opposing Obamacare’s mandate that they offer 20 birth control methods to employees or pay fines of up to $1.3 million daily.

The Court ruled that these “closely held” family-owned businesses aren’t obligated to offer 4 out of 20 birth control options they object to, at least one of which is considered an abortifacent or “morning-after pill.” Such a requirement, the Court ruled, violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Mitigating the left’s inevitable claim that the ruling constitutes another salvo in the war on women, here are all the things female Hobby Lobby and Conestoga employees can do if they don’t like the decision:

  • Use one of the other 16 methods of birth control Hobby Lobby and Conestoga offer;
  • Pay out-of-pocket for one of the 4 methods not offered;
  • Apply for government-funded coverage directly from insurers, just as employees of non-profits who object to paying for birth control can do, to obtain one of these 4 methods;
  • If it’s that big a deal to them to work for an employer that makes Sandra Fluke happy, choose one of the 8 million other companies in the country who offer all 20 methods.

Instead, the White House is jabbering about setting up a federal fund to pay for birth control, and Senate Democrats are chewing over legislation to ensure that every woman in America has free morning-after pills perpetually at her fingertips.

Meanwhile, back on the bench, three of the four liberal Justices had the sense to cast their votes and then keep their contorted reasoning to themselves.

But leave it to the histrionic Ginsburg, who gets inspiration for deciding Supreme Court cases from the opera, to hyperventilate for 35 pages about the disastrous consequences of the majority decision in a separate dissent.

Here are a few nuggets from Ginsburg’s jeremiad:

Ginsburg claims that the decision will wreak “havoc” on society. She argues that birth control facilitated women’s entry into the labor force, and that not requiring every employer to give out free morning after pills will drive women back to a barefoot and pregnant state of existence.

Ginsburg warns that the decision will require “the government, i.e., the general public, [to] pick up the tab” for birth control pills if employers don’t cover them. But only in the fevered imagination of a liberal does a commercial transaction require the federal government to either (1) force some private party to pay for it or (2) force taxpayers to subsidize it. How about individuals who want it buy it themselves?

In the most sweeping section of her dissent, Ginsburg slams the Citizens United (2010) decision and analogizes the two cases, claiming there is “no support for the notion that free exercise rights pertain to for-profit corporations. Until this [Hobby Lobby] litigation, no decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law.”

She adds, “The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities.” To which I would respond: Tell that to Marriott Hotel, which phased out pay-per-view adult TV and stocks its rooms with The Book of Mormon; In-N-Out Burger and Forever 21, which print Bible verses on their packaging; Whole Foods, whose CEO incorporates Buddhist philosophy into his management practices; and dozens of other corporations whose religions motivate their values.

Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, who agreed with Ginsburg’s ruling, politely distanced themselves from large chunks of her nutty rantings, averring, “We need not and do not decide whether either for-profit corporations or their owners may bring claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.”

Is it any wonder that a justice who thinks government has the right to trample on people’s checkbooks when they refuse to buy a product on the private market also thinks it’s OK to force citizens to follow a law even if it tramples on their religious freedom?

Ginsburg gives the game away when she writes, “The state may justify an inroad on religious liberty by showing that it is the least restrictive means of achieving some compelling state interest.”

So Ginsburg thinks it’s peachy to crush religious liberties if that’s the least painful way to ensure some crucial government goal—in this case, the left’s century-long dream of socialized medicine.

Come to think of it, if I were a liberal who had been drooling over the fantasy of national health care for 81 years and faced the prospect of having it snatched away, I might react dramatically, too.

Print This Post Print This Post

More Horses Lose Their Heads When Liberals Are in Power

June 25, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Elections: 2014

article-1220266-06D06863000005DC-530_468x286The left is no longer interested in merely quashing free speech. Now they’re trying to force conservatives to shut up about their free speech rights being quashed.

Democrats have been hyping trumped-up charges against a teachers’ union-busting, blue-state Republican Governor in order to diminish his 2016 Presidential election chances, even though investigations have uncovered no wrongdoing on his part.

No, not Chris Christie—this time it’s Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Forget Bridgegate: this scandal should be called Free Speechgate. But in this case it’s Walker’s opponents who are behaving scandalously.

Last year Democratic Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm anonymously initiated a John Doe investigation against Walker, claiming that he and his allies had engaged in improper coordination of fundraising activities. Prosecutors representing Chisholm allege that Friends of Scott Walker, the Governor’s campaign committee for his 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections, had an “advisory relationship” with the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the latter of which (a) received money from fundraising groups that gave $10,000 to Friends of Walker, (b) spoke with R. J. Johnson, a consultant for Friends of Walker, and (c) gave $2.5 million to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which spent money on pro-Walker TV ads. Prosecutors also claim that Johnson advised Citizens for a Strong America, which accepted $4.6 million from Club for Growth and gave $2 million to Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Right to Life, and United Sportsmen of Wisconsin to fund absentee ballot programs.

Taking some of the oomph out of the prosecution’s charges is the fact that neither Walker, nor the Walker Campaign, nor Friends of Walker, nor Johnson gave a penny to Club for Growth or any of the councils or committees that bought political ads. None of the conservative groups in question encouraged voters to choose one candidate over another. As tax-exempt, non-profit organizations, they are therefore free to spend as much as they want on issue advocacy.

Yet according to prosecutors, the sheer act of campaign staff discussing political strategy on current issues with ideologically like-minded groups in advance of an election is illegal, if any of those organizations give money to groups that run campaign ads. In other words, it’s a crime to let your staff talk to consultants who talk to people who work for groups that give money to groups that channel it to committees that sponsor political ads.

Shouldn’t there be some kind of six-degrees-of-separation provision for campaign finance laws, to protect people who are accidentally connected from being accused of conspiracy?

Meanwhile, Club for Growth director Eric O’Keefe filed a lawsuit against state prosecutors, alleging that their ruthless investigation was chilling conservative groups’ free speech rights. At Chisholm’s request, Wisconsin Circuit Judge Barbara Kluka granted prosecutors outrageously sweeping subpoena powers that led them to conduct dozens of raids on conservative organizations in Wisconsin. These draconian invasions involved restraining employees while prosecutors’ goons absconded with computers, telephones, and paperwork.

Most egregiously, due to the slimy, shadowy nature of John Doe investigations, Walker and all these conservative groups were wholly prevented from defending themselves against the public charges. Instead, Walker had to go around for months during an election year mumbling “no comment” to reporters, as though he were patently guilty and desperate to change the subject.

In response to this witch hunt and O’Keefe’s lawsuit, Federal Justice Rudolph T. Randa stepped in twice to stop the ruthless investigation and unseal the records prosecutors had shielded from the public that documented the scope of their inquisition. Randa dismissed prosecutors’ claims that they couldn’t be sued because they were simply trying to enforce what they thought was the law: “[T]he defendants attempt to reframe the issue by arguing that the right to coordinate issue advocacy speech is not clearly established. But even if that assertion is true, the defendants would still have to defend against the general thrust of the plaintiffs’ claim that they were targeted by the defendants because of their conservative viewpoints.”

In other words, Randa reminded these overzealous prosecutors that even if Walker’s campaign improperly coordinated fundraising efforts, defendants still have to answer to the charge that they targeted conservative groups because they were conservative. They also must explain why they had to engage in egregious acts of forcible entry involving breaking into offices, pinning down employees, and stealing private documents.

To compare this inquest to another recent scandal, imagine if IRS officials had gone even further than they did with their scrutiny of conservative organizations, and had raided the headquarters of dozens of Tea Party groups on the basis of trumped-up allegations of minor campaign fundraising violations; then stolen office equipment and contents of filing cabinets while holding scared secretaries hostage. Imagine if the IRS had then made the charges against these groups public, all while getting a court order preventing them from defending themselves against the phony accusations. That’s what’s going on here.

What is it with liberals and free speech? From demanding political correctness to enforcing speech codes, from regulating airwaves to monitoring the Internet, from preventing debate on major bills to uninviting university commencement speakers, from sneaking through recess appointments to preventing people from talking outside abortion clinics, from slandering Vietnam swiftboat veterans to trashing a probable Army deserter’s resentful fellow soldiers, liberals apparently can’t stand the thought of American voters hearing both sides of an issue. Is there a single comparable case in which conservatives have expended so much energy trying to make sure people don’t know what liberals believe?

With Chisholm’s sleazy, anonymous John Doe investigation of Scott Walker and its accompanying gag order restricting speech about heinous actions committed by fanatical prosecutors, liberals have reached a new low.

The left is now officially trying to keep conservatives from speaking out about how liberals are trying to keep them from speaking out.

Print This Post Print This Post