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State Watch

Will California Suicide Bill Die a Natural Death?

By 6.25.15

When SB 128, which would legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, passed the California Senate, supporters hailed the measure’s success as a sign of its inevitability. And what Democrat in this heavily left-leaning Legislature wants to be on — say it slowly — The Wrong Side of History?

It turns out reports of the measure’s slam-dunkedness were greatly exaggerated. Opponents of SB 128 expected the bill to sail through the Senate but then get mired in the Assembly. Sure enough, this week state Sens. Lois Wolk and Bill Monning, co-sponsors of the bill, had to pull a scheduled vote in the Assembly Health Committee and delay it until July 7 because, as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Melody Gutierrez reported, six committee Democrats are not on board. Five are members of the Latino caucus. Ergo the new spin on the bill, advanced by Wolk, is that the Roman Catholic Church, in all its might, is leaning on its flock to kill the bill.

Knowing What We Know Now

Will Democrats Apologize for Slavery and Segregation?

By 6.25.15

Dear Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz:

I note with interest this statement from you with regard to the controversy over the flying of the Confederate flag on the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol. You said:

For decades community leaders in South Carolina — and across the country — have been calling to get rid of this symbol of hatred, and action has been long overdue.

But this is just the beginning of a conversation we as a society need to have about race, bigotry and violence in this country — not the end of one.

Good enough. It’s good to know you wish to begin this conversation and I am happy to oblige. Let me begin with this question:

Will the Democratic Party finally apologize for supporting slavery, segregation, lynching, and the Ku Klux Klan?

Let me recall these lines from some of your party platforms.

From your 1840 platform: 

The Nation's Pulse

Revolutions in Political Correctness: Ex Uno, Pluralis

By 6.25.15

There have been so many changes in what the Left deems politically correct, it’s difficult to keep up. So here are a couple that you need to know lest you betray your lack of coolness.

The University of California wants to ban the phrase “melting pot,” as in “America is a melting pot.” This is a huge turn-around. Until recently the Left has decried anything that smacked of racial or gender differentiation. It bristled at the notion that certain medical treatments might work differently on folks of different races, even to the point of objecting to a treatment (BiDil) that was shown to work particularly well on black men suffering from heart disease.

But that was then. Now we celebrate differences, not similarities. After all, how else can you have identity politics? And where would the Democrat party be without identity politics?

Political Hay

Cultural Tyrants

By 6.25.15

The aftermath of the Charleston church massacre has been an interesting thing.

Following the nine killed by 21-year-old ninth grade dropout and troglodyte Dylann Roof at the Mother Emanuel AME Church last week, the people of that venerable South Carolina city have given the nation one of our more inspiring spectacles — thousands gathering in prayer and demonstrating for unity and civility. Had the reaction of Charleston been the major story, the massacre — disgusting and tragic as it was — would have told us something good about the basic character of the American people.

Your author will go so far as to say Charleston’s reaction has told us something true, as well — about most of us, at least.

Culture Vultures

One Nation, For Better or Worse

By 6.25.15

For days on end, we’ve been pelted with the sudden and inconsistent outrage over the Confederate battle flag, which, apparently, has moved thousands to commit heinous acts in the name of a long-since disbanded secessionary force that may or may not have been defending an agrarian way of life against an industrialized interloper that threatened to force them to abandon their hoopskirts and post-supper porch tobacco. The flag has, of course, existed in some form or another since the mid-1800s, and until two weeks ago, had lived a relatively unmolested life, flying over Southern statehouses and in the windows of four-door diesel trucks with fake testicles hanging from their rear license plates.

Ben Stein's Diary

I Love South Carolina

By 6.24.15

A few humble thoughts on race, violence, and South Carolina.

The crimes of Dylann Roof were spectacularly horrible. To murder in cold blood nine men and women who were praising the Lord is unfathomably evil. There is simply no excuse for it. The moral power and restraint of the Charleston black community is historically magnificent. Nothing less than that. The love and forgiveness of the victims’ families is breathtaking, one of the great moments in human history.

And while I don’t think that the rebel battle flag flying over the statehouse in Columbia had anything to do with Dylann Roof’s horrible crimes, the flag has to go on government property. For black citizens, taxpayers, voters, soldiers, war widows to have the flag of an army that fought to maintain their ancestors in chains, as less than human, is painful and cruel. That flag has a place in museums and homes and restaurants but not on the statehouse lawn.

Another Perspective

Richard Thompson (Mostly) Lets the Music Do the Talking

By 6.24.15

You may not know his name but for nearly half a century Richard Thompson has been performing and recording music. Although the British born guitar player has never attained stardom, his songs have been covered by the likes of R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt, and the Pointer Sisters. Consequently, Thompson has steadily built himself an audience of fans on both sides of the Atlantic. This fan base came out in full force over the weekend in Boston for a performance at the Wilbur Theatre in support of his new album Still (produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco), which was released yesterday.

A Further Perspective

VA Still Sabotaging Veterans’ Choices

By 6.24.15

Veterans Administration top brass are trying again to sabotage the Choice program, which supposedly allows vets to see a doctor outside the delay-plagued VA system. On Thursday, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan D. Gibson will ask Congress for permission to raid the $10 billion Choice fund and spend the money elsewhere. It’s an underhanded betrayal, but no surprise. Since the celebrated VA reform law was passed last August, VA administrators, from Secretary Robert McDonald down to union underlings, have been trying every trick to block sick vets from getting outside treatment. The bureaucrats are more concerned with keeping the money inside the dysfunctional agency than caring for vets, even if that means they languish and suffer on wait lists. 

From Day One, the law was designed to promise vets choice but make it hard to get any. Public employee union bigs like Alma Lee of the American Federation of Government Employees fought against the law, warning that sending vets out for private care would hurt the VA’s bottom line. She meant union jobs.

The Current Crisis

New Faces In the Race

By 6.24.15

The Republican Party, the political party of commerce (and of jobs!), has two aspiring candidates for the presidential nomination who are drawn from the business community, one, who evokes unwarranted snoozes, the other, who rather astonishingly evokes derision. I am speaking of Carly Fiorina late of Hewlett-Packard and Donald Trump the billionaire developer. Those who offer their expert appraisals of these two candidates are retired politicians, political advisors, and pundits. In other words, these appraisals are coming from those who have left the field of political combat for whatever reason, or those who have never stood for election yet whose assessment of candidates are taken very seriously by journalists who, incidentally, have themselves never stood for election. Political commentary is unusual. It is as though the leading culinary critics in the country were all vegetarians, or at least fruitarians.

Special Report

The Culture of Smugness

By 6.24.15

Whether or not South Carolina retains a Confederate flag on state grounds is clearly a matter for the state to decide. But the media couldn’t permit GOP presidential candidates to limit themselves to that position. It had to hector the candidates into support for the flag’s removal. On all matters racial, the media polices not only sins of commission but sins of omission. By the media’s estimate, insufficient enthusiasm for the flag’s removal is evidence of a troubling racial attitude.

The hate on display in the controversy is coming not from the flag’s defenders but from a smug liberal elite that can’t rest until every inch of America conforms to their liberal prejudices. Jon Stewart’s supposedly anguished remarks about the Charleston horror seemed more like childish pouting and sophomoric South-bashing, with the glib host demanding that even the streets of the South be renamed: “In South Carolina, the roads that black people drive on are named for Confederate Generals who fought to keep black people from driving freely on that road. That’s insanity. That’s racial wallpaper. You can’t allow that.”