A Further Perspective

A Further Perspective

Gutting the First Amendment

By 7.17.14

Supporters of campaign finance laws have been apoplectic since the Supreme Court struck down a ban on corporate political ads in Citizens United. Having lost another big case this year in McCutcheon v. FEC, they now want to write their views directly into the Constitution.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would let government limit contributions to candidates and spending by and on behalf of them. The House will take up a similar proposal soon. To see where this amendment would lead if enacted, consider that the law in Citizens United prevented a group from distributing a film that criticized Hillary Clinton during her last presidential bid. During arguments in the case, the government’s lawyer admitted that the law could apply to books as well.

At the core of this effort is the very dangerous view that freedom of speech isn’t an inalienable individual right—a right to say what you want regardless of what others think—but a privilege that we exercise at the sufferance of “the public.”

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A Further Perspective

Lawsuits and Impeachment

By 7.15.14

Whenever Democrats are in real trouble politically, the Republicans seem to come up with something new that distracts the public’s attention from the Democrats’ problems. Who says Republicans are not compassionate?

With public opinion polls showing President Obama’s sinking approval rate, in the wake of his administration’s multiple fiascoes and scandals — the disgraceful treatment of veterans who need medical care, the Internal Revenue Service coverups, the tens of thousands of children flooding across our open border — Republicans have created two new distractions that may yet draw attention away from the Democrats’ troubles.

From the Republican establishment, Speaker of the House John Boehner has announced plans to sue Barack Obama for exceeding his authority. And from the Tea Party wing of the Republicans, former Governor Sarah Palin has called for impeachment of the president.

Does President Obama deserve to be sued or impeached? Yes! Is there a snowball’s chance in hell that either the lawsuit or an impeachment will succeed? No!

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Cheating at the Sochi Olympics Alleged

By 7.14.14

Reports in the press, including AP and New York Times, indicate that pop violinist Vanessa-Mae may have been unwittingly implicated in a cheating scandal during the qualifications for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Miss Vanessa-Mae herself is not accused of wrongdoing; rather, Slovenian Ski Association officials say that four of their racing officials faked results in the grand slalom, Vanessa-Mae’s event. They suspended the officials and are passing the dossier to public prosecutors. Vanessa-Mae finished last in the event at Sochi, which was actually one by a Slovenian.

The matter would be a cause for laughter and tut-tutting, with both sports and music chroniclers agreeing that the silly episode is in keeping with the character of a pretty, vain, ditzy 35-year old musician whose prodigies as a child were channeled into the kind of insipid pop classical performances that are used in airports to lull travelers or the noise you hear in the toilet stalls of big hotel chains.

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Our Boring Secular Consensus

By 7.11.14

In 1839, the future saint Jeanne Jugan gathered a group of women and girls, and began administering care to the poor of Rennes, France. One-hundred and seventy-five years later, Jugan’s group, Little Sisters of the Poor, has apparently become something far more sinister. That’s according to the reliably irrelevant National Organization for Women, which recently included the sisterhood on its “Dirty 100” list of groups that have been “using religion to justify discrimination, deny women’s equality.”

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Living on Fire

By 7.4.14

Daniel Kelly’s posthumously published Living on Fire: The Life of L. Brent Bozell Jr. would make an incredible movie. More than a decade ago, going under the name A Beautiful Mind, the basic story won Best Picture at the Oscars. The uncanny similarities between John Nash and L. Brent Bozell Jr. include massive contributions to their fields, debilitating madness, and storybook-ending redemption.

If younger conservatives recall Brent Bozell’s name at all, they generally associate it with his son who has waged an unwinnable battle—perhaps inheriting a gene for lost but noble causes—for media fairness, objectivity, and verity. The amnesia is a shame. Bozell the elder found himself at the center of many important debates during the formative period of the postwar conservative movement.

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Slippery Arguments

By 7.2.14

The Left remains in a lather over the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, treating it as a shocking act of judicial invention. It is the “first time” businessmen who run closely held corporations have been accorded religious freedom, says Hillary Clinton, among other liberals. This claim would surely have come as a surprise to the framers of the Constitution. They never viewed employers at family-owned businesses as instruments of state secularism devoid of religious freedom or conscience rights.

A view of businessmen as cogs in the secularist machine is of recent vintage and it is baldly unconstitutional. The Founding Fathers would have been appalled by the assumption implicit in Hillary’s post-ruling musings on Monday that businessmen lose all right to religious freedom the moment they decide to open a business. Such an assumption is worthy not of a constitutional republic but of a totalitarian state that grants an hour of “freedom of worship” on Sundays.

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Hillary’s Rusty Populism

By 6.25.14

In 2008, Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist, counseled her to emphasize that she was “born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century.” Her populism on painful display in recent weeks draws upon this strategy.

Hillary hasn’t thrown back any beers and whiskeys yet, as she did in 2008 to prove her populist credentials in the Indiana primary, but she is getting there. She has complained about her “dead broke” status upon leaving the White House and insists that she and her husband, together worth about $100 million, aren’t “truly well off.”

One would think parlaying public service and mere celebrity into easy and extravagant wealth might offend liberal scruples. But Hillary doesn’t appear bothered. She has even suggested that her celebrity-driven wealth is the product of “hard work,” unlike that of the unworthy rich, by whom she means businessmen who have created tens of thousands of jobs. Hillary has created a few jobs for ghostwriters in her pursuit of wealth, but that’s about it.

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Hillary Can’t Have Her Cake and Sell It Too

By 6.20.14

“Whichever sales estimate you accept—under what scenario does Simon & Schuster make back [its reported] $14 million advance from Hillary [Clinton’s] book?” asked the Washington Examiner’s Byron York the other day.

His implication was, probably never. Let’s do some back-of-the-envelope math and see if that’s the case.

Madame Secretary Senator First Lady Clinton’s new book about her four years as head of the State Department, Hard Choices, sells for $35 a pop in hardcover. Assume her agent negotiated a primo royalty of 20 percent for the entire run, with no graduated rates. That works out to a maximum payout to her of $7 a copy.

At that rate, the book will make its advance back if it sells 2 million hardcover copies.

Simon & Schuster paid so much for this book because her 2003 book Living History was a megabestseller. The publisher cleared more than a million copies that year. The book easily made back its $8 million advance.

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Amnesty Lite Is Still Amnesty

By 6.13.14

Not since a 42-to-1 underdog named Buster Douglas knocked out undefeated heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in 1990 has there been an upset like economics professor Dave Brat defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary in Virginia.

You couldn’t write a script like this for a movie and have it be believable. Congressman Eric Cantor, with all kinds of name recognition, and outspending his opponent by 5 million dollars to $100,000, lost 55 percent to 45 percent against somebody that virtually nobody ever heard of before. Polls, incidentally, had predicted that Cantor would defeat Brat 62 percent to 28 percent.

To add a touch of absolute fantasy to the story, Dave Brat’s Democratic opponent this fall is another professor at the same Randolph-Macon College where Professor Brat teaches.

Who would believe that in a movie?

In the end, all of this will be just a curious footnote to what this election means to the Republican Party and — more important — to the country at large.

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The Weaknesses of Hashtag Diplomacy

By 6.10.14

Social media is buzzing; demonstrations are being held across the U.S.; petitions abound, and outrage is growing toward the government of Sudan because of the death penalty against Dr. Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag (age 27) who is subject to death by stoning as soon as she weans her newborn daughter. In the meantime, she will receive “only 100 lashes” in punishment while she nurses her baby. Her crime? Dr. Ibrahim is accused of apostasy because she married a Christian man after being born to a Muslim father who abandoned his family when she was a child and was raised as a Christian by her Ethiopian mother, who is an Orthodox Christian.

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