Special Report

Special Report

Sotomayor Digs In

By 7.9.14

Many on the Left didn’t want any exemptions to the contraceptive mandate, even for purely sectarian groups. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, among others, considered that narrow exemption “itself a compromise.” The secularist central planners of Obamacare wanted total participation by all employers. They just couldn’t get away with it politically. So, naturally, they treat any objections from the religious to supposedly generous modifications of the mandate with the greatest impatience.

That impatience was on display in Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent from the Supreme Court’s recent granting of a temporary reprieve to Wheaton College as its challenge to mandate-related regulations continues. Sotomayor felt the need to whip up a lengthy opinion to the reprieve, expressing exasperation with the Christian college for failing to appreciate sufficiently the Obama administration’s “accommodation” for religiously-affiliated groups.

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The Pied Piper of Permisos

By 7.8.14

It’s beginning to sink in with the intelligentsia: The flood of illegal aliens (yes, I said “illegal”) and particularly the tsunami of children traveling alone — parents risking their youngsters’ lives by sending them from Central America through gang-ravaged Mexico — threatens to turn the immigration debate into a major political liability for Democrats in November.

While immigration is typically low on the list of issues Americans care most about, it was to be a trump card for the left in turning out otherwise apathetic or demoralized Hispanic and liberal voters four months from now. But, as seems to be the result of almost every Obama administration policy, reality is blowing up the best laid plans of the DNC.

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It Was a Mighty Fourth

By 7.7.14

July 4, still so full of unapologetic patriotic hoopla, remains largely a bulwark against political correctness. Any holiday that prominently celebrates bewigged men in tri-corner hats playing flutes and often bearing arms has to be a welcome antidote to negative sociological trends.

This year’s Independence Day in the nation’s capital was among the best in terms of weather in my nearly half century of a lifetime here. Unusually moderate temperatures, low humidity, clear skies and even an evening breeze that necessitated sweaters for some, contrasted with typically suffocating D.C. haze and sweltering oppression.

I was among thousands encamped at sunset around the always-stirring Iwo Jima monument in Arlington that honors the U.S. Marine Corps, having a glorious straight-line view of the National Mall, with the fireworks silhouetted against the Washington Monument. The crowd was unusually polite, with no visible evidence of liquor, nor any shoving in the race to leave afterwards. There were applause and occasional patriotic outbursts.

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Return to Mississippi Summer, 1964

By 7.3.14

In 1964, at the age of 22 and just out of college, I went to Mississippi as part of the Freedom Summer effort that broke the back of Jim Crow society, setting off what I still think was probably the most radical and abrupt social transformation in American history.

I was not a leader of the effort or even particularly brave. I was just a mere foot soldier. I suspect the real reason I went was to impress an old girlfriend who had broken up with me the year before. Years later someone sent me a copy of my application form and I had listed her along with my relatives as the people I wanted notified of my mission. But why does anyone go off to war at age 22? For that’s what it felt like.

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A Slippery Slope Toward Freedom

By 7.2.14

The groundbreaking decision Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Obamacare’s contraception mandate violates the religious freedom of two closely held corporations, will be dissected heavily for days, and studied for weeks, years, and decades.

For consistent civil libertarians, one of the most remarkable — and favorable — aspects of the majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito is its no-holds-barred defense of corporations asserting rights of “persons.” As my Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Hans Bader explains, this case dealt with statutory rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and did not directly involve constitutional liberties. Alito, however, implied strongly that corporations — even if set up for profit — should enjoy all such “personal” rights.

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The Supreme Court Gets It Mostly Right

By 6.30.14

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to debate Democratic attorney and activist Chris Hahn on Sean Hannity’s radio show regarding the “Hobby Lobby” case in which that company — a closely-held (although large) private company, founded and run by devout Christians — objected to the Obamacare mandate that companies must provide “free” birth control.

From the “I bet you didn’t know this after watching NBC News” files: Hobby Lobby’s health insurance plans already cover most popular forms of birth control — those used by the vast majority of Americans who use birth control. In fact, Hobby Lobby covers sixteen of the twenty FDA-approved contraceptive methods. The Green family, which owns the chain of arts and crafts supplies stores, says they intend to continue to cover those 16 forms of birth control even after winning the court case. What they object to are IUD’s and “abortifacient” medications that prevent the implantation of an already fertilized egg; they consider it taking a life.

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Christians & Nukes

By 6.29.14

Several U.S. Catholic bishops in March visited Iran to parley with ayatollahs and other Islamic authorities of that theocracy. In June they issued a joint resulting statement extolling their abhorrence of weapons of mass destruction.

“Shia Islam opposes and forbids the production, stockpiling, use and threat to use weapons of mass destruction,” their interfaith declaration announced. “Catholicism is also working for a world without weapons of mass destruction and calls on all nations to rid themselves of these indiscriminate weapons.”

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Marco Rubio’s Rehabilitation Continues

By 6.26.14

Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave a portmanteau speech before about 150 students, professors, and invited guests at the Washington campus of Hillsdale College Wednesday. The speech was entitled “Finding Economic Security in an Insecure Time," but the headline just as easily could have been, “The History and Trajectory of Everything,” so many topics were covered, so stuffed was Rubio’s forensic bag.

Rubio became a Republican star after he trounced then-Florida Governor (and prospective future Florida governor) Charlie Crist for a Senate seat in 2010. Rubio was on everyone’s presidential short list for a bit until he hurt his political prospects badly by backing the Senate’s awful immigration “reform” bill in 2012. Since then he has been trying to make amends by being active on every conservative front, and being very vocal. Yesterdays speech appears to be part of this strategy.  

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Presbyterians Become the Silly Church

By 6.21.14

At one point during this this week’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the hundreds of delegates, known as commissioners, gleefully bounced scores of red balloons in the air. At another point, they collectively broke into dance, confirming that most Protestants, especially if they’re old, white and Anglo, don’t look so great wiggling around. (Here’s a video, for mature viewers only.)

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The New Twist on Inequality

By 6.19.14

In pre-modern times, the disparity in men’s and women’s higher education opportunities was often defended by the view that women’s education would be wasted because they’d end up “just being mothers.” Of course, we now recognize that a mother’s education plays a vital role in the education of her children and, thus, in the welfare of the community and society as a whole.

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