Scott Spiegel


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Obama’s One Great Accomplishment: Avoiding Responsibility

June 18, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: War on Terror

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????As Vice-President Joe Biden might say, restarting the Iraq War could be one of the great successes of the Obama administration!

Last weekend, U.S. warships sailed to the Persian Gulf as a precautionary measure against the advance of Sunni insurgent group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The dangerous al-Qaeda offshoot—whose leader President Obama set free in 2009—has taken over Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul, as well as Saddam Hussein’s hometown Tikrit, and is nipping at Baghdad’s heels. ISIS also controls Fallujah, Ramadi, Jallawiya, Saadiyah, and a couple dozen other Iraqi cities.

According to liberals like Nancy Pelosi, MSNBC’s Joy Reid, The New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal, and Democratic Governor Lincoln Chafee, all of this is George W. Bush’s fault.

To be fair, in the final month of his Presidency, after the surge he ordered in 2007 had driven back Sunni insurgents and halted U.S. casualties, Bush signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that set a timetable for removing all U.S. troops by December 31, 2011. Knowing that the insurgents might simply wait us out and return when it was safe, Bush and his generals operated under the assumption that Obama would renegotiate with the Iraqi government in a couple of years to leave some U.S. troops in Iraq if needed—i.e. that Obama wasn’t a completely irresponsible, partisan bonehead.

But Obama was intent on getting every last peacekeeping force out of Iraq to appease his anti-war base and keep his campaign promise “to end wars, not to start them.” Obama halfheartedly pretended to try to negotiate a new SOFA in 2011, but really he just wanted to close the book on Iraq so he could get back to his passion of ruining America domestically.

Thanks to Obama’s stubbornness and his desire to see the U.S. emasculated, our mortal enemy Iran now has more troops in Iraq than we do. Obama’s Congressional authorization to use military force in Iraq never expired, but apparently helping Iraq is the one unilateral action he refuses to take during his Presidency.

Now the U.S.’s hard-won victory, which finally yielded tangible, historic results, is on the verge of collapse. And all because Obama just had to prove that Bush’s vision for a democratic, rule-of-law-respecting Iraq was a misguided, neocon-driven, warmongering, blood-for-oil-inspired fantasy. The easiest, most passive, most Obama-like way to do that was to pull all our troops out and let Iraq disintegrate via malign neglect.

Remember how we all laughed when Biden crowed that ending the Iraq War could be one of the administration’s great successes? What made that line so funny was that all Obama was doing was carrying out an agreement Bush had set up, in which case he didn’t deserve much credit for winding down the war. But Biden meant something different: Obama was going to end the war the “responsible” way, by appeasing fickle Iraqi civilians and not leaving any peacekeeping forces in the country, thus erasing the history of our involvement in Iraq and letting us pretend we were never there.

Obama now claims he’ll be considering military options “in the days ahead.” If he takes as long to develop a strategy for restoring Iraq as he did dithering over whether to order a surge in Afghanistan, ISIS may have taken over the Middle East by then.

If the public doesn’t buy the left’s rationalization for why Obama is off the hook, then liberals will no doubt fall back on their familiar tactic of decrying Republican “politicization” of events.

But it’s not politicization if one side was consistently right, the other was consistently wrong, and the consequences of the other side’s mistake are murder, bombing, beheading, mass execution, torture, and displacement. The public needs periodic reminders of which party can never be trusted in foreign military conflicts.

In the modern history of U.S.-Iraq relations, both parties have screwed up. First there was Bush Sr.’s decision in 1991 not to finish the Gulf War by taking Baghdad and removing Saddam Hussein. Then there was Bush Jr.’s decision in 2003 not to send enough troops to Iraq from the start to set up a peaceful democracy.

And then there was Obama’s decision to fail to negotiate a measly 10,000 troops in Iraq to preserve our victory, despite his recent decision to do exactly that in Afghanistan, where we haven’t won much worth preserving.

Ending the Iraq War could have been one of the great successes of the Obama administration—a low bar, admittedly—if he had simply done what generals begged him to do at the time and what any sane, non-America-hating President would have done. But Obama would rather sow chaos and destruction, then twist the facts with the media’s help to avoid responsibility for his actions, than ever admit he was wrong.

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics

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We’ve Helped a Lot Worse Than Teenaged Honduran Refugees

June 11, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Immigration

immigran-childrenHow much of a threat is the recent wave of refugee Central American children crossing our southern border? According to some anti-immigration hysterics, it’s a mass movement poised to fundamentally transform our nation.

Over the weekend, hundreds of unauthorized Latin-American immigrant minors were housed in a warehouse that had been converted into a federal detention center in Nogales, AZ. Most of the children were fleeing drug and gang violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Border Patrol officials flew them there from El Paso after apprehending them in the overburdened Rio Grande Valley and busing them north. Additional children were sheltered at military bases in Ventura, CA, San Antonio, TX, and Fort Sill, OK.

In response to these developments, The Washington Times editorial board cried, “There’s a surge on the border. This is a surge far different from George W. Bush’s dispatch of armed might to win the day in Iraq. This is a mass movement of immigrants that threatens to transform the nation.”

Let’s put things in perspective: In January 2012, there were 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., including 6.7 million from Mexico, 690,000 from El Salvador, 560,000 from Guatemala, and 360,000 from Honduras.

In 2013, 780,000 foreigners were naturalized in the U.S., including 99,000 from Mexico, 18,000 from El Salvador, and 9,500 from Guatemala.

The Nogales warehouse—the one that’s causing conservatives to lose their minds and declare the apocalypse imminent—is currently sheltering 1,100 kids.

For further context, in the course of one day on June 6, 2014, New York City counted 23,000 homeless children. The Housing and Urban Development Department reported that on a single night in January 2013, there were 138,000 homeless youth across the country. The National Center on Family Homelessness stated that over the course of 2010, there were 1.6 million homeless minors.

Yet protectionist conservatives are going blind with rage over 1,100 kids sleeping on vinyl-covered mattresses in Arizona. Michelle Bachmann has probably cared for more foster children than that. Isn’t 1,100 the average public school class size on Chicago’s South Side?

As Arizona Central noted, “Border Patrol apprehensions of undocumented migrants are still running at less than half of the rate of 2000-06, when they typically exceeded 1 million a year.” So while tens of thousands of minors, three-quarters of them 16 or 17, sounds like a lot, it’s a fraction of what we see each year.

So why are these Central American children crossing the border now? Part of the rush is due to the administration’s extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. But these children in particular appear to be fleeing gang violence that has escalated dramatically in the past few months, thereby upsetting the pattern whereby the vast majority of unaccompanied minors come from Mexico.

Most of these Central American children have family members living here, many of whom immigrated after receiving temporary protected status in the 1980s or 1990s as a result of civil wars or the massive 2001 Salvadoran earthquakes. Many of these earlier refugees have children they haven’t seen in years.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Border Patrol is sending most of the Mexican children straight back, as it has always done. But most of the Central American children will eventually be sent home, too, either to family members living in the U.S., foster homes to await deportation proceedings, or straight across the border.

So why is the prospect of a few thousand kids showing up each month at the front door of a country of 317 million people causing such a panic? These children are certainly a visible sign of the incoherence of our immigration policy, and Americans are justified in asking what assistance we should offer them. But the U.S. grants asylum to tens of thousands of refugees annually, and has taken in over 3 million refugees in the past four decades. If these children don’t qualify for asylum under the Refugee Act, wouldn’t the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act—which has been used to help the Balkans, the Bhutanese, and the Palestinians, for God’s sake—cover them?

The left usually demands that we send futile humanitarian aid to far-flung places that are minimally relevant to us like Somalia, Rwanda, and Darfur. Is it so farfetched that our refugee assistance laws might allow us to house a bunch of minors from close neighbors and trading partners for a couple of months until we can return them to their parents?

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