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The Public Policy

Australia Gives Credence to Organic-Food Nonsense

By 7.2.14

Organic activists are forever trying to convince American consumers that modern production agriculture is somehow unethical, that the food at the local grocery store is somehow unsafe. Now they'll likely take a new tactic, pioneered by a judge in Australia who is on his way to creating a legal environment that will spur countless lawsuits between farmers planting biotech crops and their neighbors using conventional seed. If these activists are successful Down Under, their counterparts in the United States will doubtless try to follow suit, dealing a blow to modern agriculture and American farmers in the process.

During the Australia’s fall harvest-season way back in 2010, an organic farmer by the name of Steven Marsh noticed some of his neighbor’s genetically-engineered canola had blown onto his fields. So he decided to sue his neighbor, Michael Baxter, a person with whom he had been friends until that fateful day, based on the global organic industry’s and his organic certifier’s “zero tolerance” for genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

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Public Employee Watch

Supreme Court Takes One Step Away From Forced Unionization

By 7.1.14

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that thousands of home-based caregivers in Illinois—and perhaps hundreds of thousands in eight other states—are not required to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The case involving Hobby Lobby and contraceptives will garner the most headlines, but this ruling on union dues (Harris v. Quinn) will have lasting implications for organized labor and signals the court’s growing disgust with forced unionization.

How did we get here? Hundreds of thousands of disabled individuals in this country require the assistance of a caregiver. In order to avoid institutionalizing these patients, a federal Medicaid program provides assistance for in-home care. Many patients are cared for by a friend or family member; the petitioner in this case, Pamela Harris, provides round-the-clock care for her adult son Josh, who was born with a genetic disorder.

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Main Street U.S.A.

The High Court’s Good Lick for Religious Liberty

By 7.1.14

The U.S. Supreme Court had a banner day, a crackerjack day, with horns and ice cream, as it trumped the federal government’s brazen claim of power and authority to define which religious convictions, if any, have a proper place in the health care arena.

Hooray for the Hahn and Green families for carrying to the high court their plea to be released from the duty of providing employees with contraceptive coverage under Obamacare. Never mind (as the government saw it before the court’s 5-4 ruling) the two families’ religiously grounded conviction that the mandate violated their religious beliefs and moral principles, potentially implicating them in the destruction of unborn life.

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The Charlie Watch

The Long, Hot-Air Summer

By 7.1.14

TAMPA — Official summer has barely begun, but it has been hot and humid across the Sunshine State for weeks. In addition to the sticky heat and the threat of tropical storms, Floridians this summer will have to endure a governor’s race that will be costly, nasty, and, as Charlie Crist is one of the entries, almost certainly silly.

Crist, who was Florida’s Republican governor from 2006 to 2010, and who lost a race for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010 as an independent, now wishes to be Florida’s governor again, this time as a Democrat. Yes, the self-described Reagan Republican caterpillar of the spring of 2010 turned into a beautiful Obama butterfly by the summer of 2012, whooping up our Community-Organizer-in-Chief at the Democratic National Convention.

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Political Hay

An Unlikely Primary in Louisiana

By 7.1.14

It’s been a month since Louisiana Republican Party chairman Roger Villere took to the stage at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans and announced that, by a unanimous vote of the party’s executive committee, the LAGOP would be endorsing Congressman Bill Cassidy over Colonel Rob Maness and state Representative Paul Hollis as its candidate against Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu.

In that time, several of the party’s parish executive committees—including three major units in Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes in suburban New Orleans and Rapides Parish in the central part of the state—have followed suit to endorse Cassidy. The St. Tammany endorsement was perhaps the most interesting of the three, in that Maness is actually a member of that committee.

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The Nation's Pulse

America’s Birthday

By 7.1.14

Birthdays are supposed to be times for celebration and gift-giving. But America’s upcoming birthday on the Fourth of July is a time when the gift most needed is an urgent warning about the dangers of losing the things that have made this country America — and have long made “America” a ringing word of freedom, not only in this country but to people around the world.

All is not lost. But all could be lost — especially if too many of us take freedom for granted and focus our attention on other things, like electronic gadgets and the antics of celebrities, while ignoring such dangers as nuclear weapons in the hands of suicidal fanatics, with a track record of savagery, whom we are too squeamish to call anything stronger than “militants.”

Nor are all the dangers abroad. Within our own country there are all too many signs of people blithely ready to sacrifice the interests or freedom of Americans for the sake of symbolism or passing fashions.

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Special Report

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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The Right Prescription

Why SCOTUS Ruled in Favor of Hobby Lobby

By 6.30.14

This morning’s Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby will doubtless precipitate a flood of stories from the establishment “news” media claiming that an entrenched cadre of conservative justices have dealt a grievous blow to the reproductive freedom of women and somehow endowed corporations with religious rights. These reports should be ignored as so much hysterical nonsense. What the Court actually said was that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) requires the government to provide closely held corporate objectors to Obamacare’s contraception mandate the same accommodation it already provides nonprofit organizations.

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Loose Canons

The Lost Lessons of World War I

By 6.30.14

Saturday was the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That event is supposed to have caused World War I, which was commonly labeled “the war to end all wars.”

I say supposed to have caused the war because if we look at what actually happened, we can gain a far better understanding of the lessons the world should have but never learned from World War I.

We know the vast scale of the number of dead, wounded, and missing. There were more than 200,000 Americans, three million British, six million French, seven million Germans and nine million Russians among them.

Ignorance of the lessons of World War I is a commonplace. The first among the lost lessons is: contrary to what we are told by an endless string of movies and novels, great wars cannot be begun by accident or by relatively small events such as the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

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Buy the Book

Restraint: The Prudent American Grand Strategy

By 6.30.14

Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy
By Barry R. Posen
(Cornell University, 256 pages, $29.95)

Since the end of the Cold War, a handful of America’s most prestigious scholars have called for a radical transformation of U.S. grand strategy from the status quo of liberal hegemony. (Liberal because of America’s democratic values and hegemonic because it’s sustained with the sword.) In its place, scholars such as Texas A&M’s Christopher Layne, Harvard’s Stephen Walt, University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer, and MIT’s Harvey Sapolsky have argued for a strategy of “offshore balancing.” In their view, U.S. forces, currently spread across some 500 foreign bases and numbering around 175,000 (not including those deployed to Afghanistan), should come home.

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