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Eric Holder’s Idea of Justice

By 6.25.14

Obama's Enforcer: Eric Holder's Justice Department
By Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund
(Broadside Books, 272 pages, $27.99)

In Obama’s Enforcer, Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund tell the story of a thoroughly politicized U.S. Department of Justice, headed up by President Obama’s “kindred spirit and…heat shield.” In his tenure as attorney general, Eric Holder has proven to be the “most liberal attorney general of the modern era, who…has also liberally bent the rule of law and established internal policies that harm the cause of justice.”

The Department of Justice is one of the most powerful federal agencies. In 2013, it was America’s largest law firm with a budget of $27 billion and some 114,000 employees. Its role is to enforce and defend the laws of the United States in an impartial and even-handed way. Doing that right takes leadership from the top and supervision through a number of levels of management.

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Politics

Who Is Steve Scalise?

By 6.25.14

After an intense week in D.C., I spent the weekend catching up on Jenn's honey-do list, including trimming the oak tree.” So said Congressman Steve Scalise’s Facebook page on Sunday, three days after the Louisiana Republican staged an impressive victory in the House majority whip election. To his constituents, the status update was little surprise. They know him as a refreshingly down-to-earth, middle-class professional in a Congress populated by politicians who are anything but.

Scalise’s first-ballot win over Congressmen Peter Roskam and Marlin Stutzman is important for more than just reasons of state. He is the first red-state Republican to hold a position in the House GOP’s core leadership since Tom DeLay left office in 2003. Moreover, Scalise managed to ascend to the number three position in his party’s hierarchy just seven years after joining the House of Representatives in 2007.

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Media Matters

Newspapers Line Up for Liberal Censorship

By 6.25.14

Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch decided to stop carrying George Will’s column after Media Matters for America and the National Organization for Women furiously objected to his piece on the federal government’s disregard—justified by dubious statistics—of due process for students accused of sexual assault.

Earlier this month, the Chicago Sun-Times took down a piece by Kevin Williamson of National Review on the transgender actor who had just appeared on the cover of Time. His premise fit inside the headline, “Laverne Cox is Not a Woman.”

There are two possibilities. 1) The editors at those papers failed to detect all the hatey awfulness in those articles before publication, and should resign in shame. 2) They found the articles reasonable, even provocative, but abandoned their commitments to free speech when the pressure got too great.

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A Further Perspective

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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Constitutional Opinions

Democrats Are Trying to Rewrite the First Amendment

By 6.25.14

Our First Amendment is under attack. Forty-four Senate Democrats support a constitutional amendment that would give Congress unbounded power to regulate or prohibit just about any speech concerning an election or a candidate for office. This would-be 28th Amendment is poorly drafted, extremely dangerous, and has the potential to uproot our most cherished freedoms. Its supporters should be embarrassed and the amendment should be stopped immediately.

Trumping the cherished ten words, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,” the amendment would make the Constitution read, “Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections.” This unprecedented langauge is radically different from the amendments in the Bill or Rights: instead of limiting the power of the federal government, the proposed amendment would expand it. We’ve gone from “Congress shall make no law” in 1791 to “Congress can make any law” in 2014.

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Political Hay

Primary Musings from Oklahoma, Colorado, and Mississippi

By 6.25.14

With a surprisingly wide margin of victory, Congressman James Lankford won the Oklahoma Republican U.S. Senate primary, defeating former Speaker of the State House of Representatives T.W. Shannon by 23 points and avoiding a runoff election. Lankford now becomes the prohibitive favorite to replace outgoing Senator Tom Coburn, who is retiring with two years remaining in his current term.

This was a very different race from the one taking place in Mississippi. Despite negative ads run against Lankford by conservative groups, the Oklahoma contest was not an example of an “establishment” Republican or RINO versus a Tea Party candidate. In short, both Lankford and Shannon are credible, likeable conservatives, both are qualified for higher elected office, and both are likely to be on the scene in the future—to Oklahoma’s credit.

A former Baptist minister (or is a Baptist minister, like a Marine, never “former”?), Lankford directed a large Christian youth camp for more than a decade before winning election to Congress in 2010 in the Tea Party tsunami.

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Politics

Revenge of the Good Ol’ Boys

By 6.25.14

I was at a boozy Washington function a few years ago when in walked Bob McDonnell, then-governor of Virginia, and Haley Barbour, then-governor of Mississippi. McDonnell hung back with a beer in his hand and rarely in his mouth, making small talk at the edge of the crowd. Barbour stormed into the middle of the party brandishing both a whiskey and a long-neck, slapping backs and shouting in a marble-mouthed southern accent, good to f—king see this one and it’s been too f—king long with that one.

At the time I thought I was witnessing the difference between a man who was running for president and a man who wasn't. But there was also a cultural difference on display: a governor from a Southeast purple state where politics can be unpredictable, versus a governor from the Deep South where GOP power is nearly absolute and concentrated in a good ol’ boy power structure.

Thad Cochran is one of those good ol’ boys. First elected to the House of Representatives in 1972, Cochran served three terms there, then ran for the Senate where he’s been for the past thirty-six years. In 2005 he was appointed chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee.

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Media Matters

George Will Meets the Clerisy Media

By 6.24.14

The Clerisy Media strikes again. This time the target is longtime conservative columnist George Will, who was dispatched by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch over a column on rape. But before that? The Los Angeles Times refused to publish letters to the editor from what the paper called “climate change deniers.” The Arizona Daily Sun has done the same.

A while back it was National Public Radio firing Juan Williams for comments made on Fox News about Muslims.

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Main Street U.S.A.

Of 1914 and 2014

By 6.24.14

And there before us, b'golly, was…the car!

THE car. You know? The one positioned, in blood and early 20th-century elegance, at the center of modern history; the open car carrying the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, when a teenage terrorist in Sarajevo shot them dead on St. Vitus Day — June 28 — 1914, setting off nearly uninterrupted shockwaves of horror. Or so we generally hear. I will come back to that point.

I saw the car nearly half a century ago at the Austrian Museum of Military History in Vienna: large, dark, eerie. The sight was akin in my mind to the notion of inspecting the cutlery employed by Brutus and Cassius on mighty Caesar's carcass.

March 15, in 44 B.C., and June 28, 1914 have historical consonance. They unleashed large and bloody events: the more recent of which we have begun already to commemorate.

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The Obama Watch

Obama Sings a Smug, Self-Satisfied, Falsely Optimistic Tune

By 6.24.14

Ronald Reagan and Louis Armstrong appeared together in the popular movie Going Places in 1938. Though Reagan is one of the featured stars, no one remembers his role. Instead, we remember Armstrong as Gabriel the horse trainer, his alabaster grin and bulging eyes charming us as he capers gracefully, trumpet in tow. Jeepers Creepers, the horse in his care, is as wild as it is fast. Gabriel discovers that the way to calm the horse down is to sing to it—putting its name to music. In turning the skittish horse into a champion, Satchmo plays his trumpet and sings the words:

Jeepers Creepers, where’d ya get those peepers?
Jeepers Creepers, where’d ya get those eyes?

The same tune came to me upon reading President Obama’s latest speech, which was filled with self-congratulations on every front but one, that being the terrible peril of climate change. Never has there been a more smug and self-satisfied philippic than this one. It made me think:

Hocus Pocus, where’d ya get that focus?
Hocus Pocus, where’d ya get those “facts”?

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