Earlier this week, in describing the ambitions of the Progressive Project, as embodied in Barack Obama, I wrote, “Obama wants government to weaken, and eventually replace, civil society, create greater dependency, and expand the states reach into every nook and cranny of life, including into the internal life of the church.”
It’s with interest, then, that I note that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a woman for whom Obama has had nothing but praise and with whom he has worked very close, was asked this question by John McCormick of The Weekly Standard: “The Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., is a self-insured institution. Should the Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., be required to pay for these morning-after pills and birth control if they find that morally objectionable?”
Here’s the opening paragraph of a new report, “Understanding and Responding to Persistently High Unemployment,” published by the Congressional Budget Office:
The rate of unemployment in the United States has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, making the past three years the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent until 2014. The official unemployment rate excludes those individuals who would like to work but have not searched for a job in the past four weeks as well as those who are working part-time but would prefer full-time work; if those people were counted among the unemployed, the unemployment rate in January 2012 would have been about 15 percent. Compounding the problem of high unemployment, the share of unemployed people looking for work for more than six months referred to as the long-term unemployed topped 40 percent in December 2009 for the first time since 1948, when such data began to be collected; it has remained above that level ever since.
National Review’s Jim Geraghty wonders whether there might be a business-related reason behind casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s reported opposition to Rick Santorum. Take a look at what the former Pennsylvania senator had to say about gambling during a recent interview with Jon Ralston:
I’m someone who takes the opinion that gaming is not something that is beneficial, particularly having that access on the Internet. Just as we’ve seen from a lot of other things that are vices on the Internet, they end to grow exponentially as a result of that. It’s one thing to come to Las Vegas and do gaming and participate in the shows and that kind of thing as entertainment, it’s another thing to sit in your home and have access to that it. I think it would be dangerous to our country to have that type of access to gaming on the Internet.
Freedom’s not absolute. What rights in the Constitution are absolute? There is no right to absolute freedom. There are limitations. You might want to say the same thing about a whole variety of other things that are on the Internet — “let everybody have it, let everybody do it.” No. There are certain things that actually do cost people a lot of money, cost them their lives, cost them their fortunes that we shouldn’t have and make available, to make it that easy to do.
If President Obama means what he says about stopping Iran from going nuclear, he has bi-partisan support for that stand. That’s the upshot of a Senate resolution introduced today with 32 co-sponsors that rejects the notion a nuclear Iran can be contained. Proponents of the resolution such as Senator Joseph Lieberman say Iran has only two choices: disarm or face the consequences.
The introduction of the measure prompted some of its Republican sponsors to point out that their position is identical with that of President Obama’s statements on the issue. As South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham noted, “All I can say is, we’ve found something we’re united about.”
Often, the bias of the media is evidenced not in the in-your-face liberalism of MSNBC, but in somewhat more subtle ways. Take as an example Politico’s coverage of a congressional hearing earlier today. (See also Jonathan Neumann’s post.) The headline of the story is, “Carolyn Maloney, Eleanor Holmes Norton walk out of contraception hearing.” And the story begins this way: “Two female Democrats walked out of a House Oversight Committee hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule Thursday morning, accusing Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of manipulating committee rules to block female witnesses from testifying.”
For one thing, the rule in question isn’t simply about contraception; it also covers sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. But more important is this: This issue is significant not because it involves, in part, the matter of contraception (which I happen to support), but the more fundamental issue of religious liberty. It has to do with the federal government being the aggressor in the so-called culture wars and inserting itself into the internal life of the church and religious institutions. That’s why Protestants who aren’t troubled by contraception have expressed solidarity with Catholics who do.
Mitt Romney was the first to announce earlier this afternoon he’ll skip the March 1 CNN Georgia debate:
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul emails over to confirm, “Gov. Romney will be spending a lot of time campaigning in Georgia and Ohio ahead of Super Tuesday. With eight other states voting on March 6, we will be campaigning in other parts of the country and unable to schedule the CNN Georgia debate. We have participated in 20 debates, including 8 from CNN.”
It’s been more than 11 years since Muhammad al-Dura died during one of the initial skirmishes of the second intifada, but the iconic image of an Arab boy supposedly shot by heartless Israeli soldiers as his father looked on in horror is still a powerful image of Palestinian suffering. But as the years go by, attempts to unravel the truth about what actually happened to al-Dura have continued to chip away at the myth of Israeli culpability in the incident. In the latest chapter of the battle over this story that has just been played out in France’s Supreme Court, the Palestinian narrative has suffered another defeat. The court vindicated a doctor who was sued by al-Dura’s father for saying the wounds he claimed to have suffered on the day of his son’s death were not the result of Israeli fire.
This was just the latest setback for those who have attempted to keep alive the belief al-Dura’s death was Israel’s responsibility. Even more, the finding that shows the father lied about the incident gives even more credence to allegations that make it clear the boy was likely killed by Palestinian fire. Though one may argue the question of who killed the boy is moot, the debunking of the al-Dura myth has become a symbol of the many false allegations made against Israel and largely believed by a credulous international media.
During the weekend, in a speech in San Diego, Representative Maxine Waters said the following about Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:
I saw pictures of Boehner and Cantor on our screens. Don’t ever let me see again, in life, those Republicans in our hall, on our screens, talking about anything. These are demons. These are legislators who are destroying this country rather than bringing us together, creating jobs, making sure we have a good tax policy, bringing our jobs from back offshore, incentivizing those who keep their jobs here. They are bringing down this country, destroying this country, because they can.
Considering the attacks Sheldon Adelson funded against Mitt Romney – a candidate he reportedly likes – just imagine how he treats candidates he disagrees with:
In a bit of political chess, Mr. Adelson is ready to not only directly support the former House speaker in the Republican primary, but to use his cash to push Rick Santorum from his position atop the latest national polls, according to people who have discussed the matter with Mr. Adelson.
If Mr. Gingrich could afford to continue campaigning, one of those people said, he might be able to draw off conservative and evangelical voters from Mr. Santorum, improving the chances of Mitt Romney, who Mr. Adelson believes has a better chance to win November’s general election. …
Mr. Adelson doesn’t oppose Mr. Santorum, but he doesn’t share the former Pennsylvania senator’s socially conservative positions, including his strong anti-abortion views, associates said. Mr. Santorum was one of only two Republicans who didn’t meet with Mr. Adelson in October around the time of a candidates’ debate in Las Vegas, according to a person familiar with the matter.
This morning, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Congressman Darrell Issa’s committee) hosted a panel of religious leaders, representing the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, Orthodox Judaism, and a Baptist seminary, to discuss the ongoing struggle over inclusion of contraceptive options in insurance provisions by religious institutions. (It was the first panel this morning.)
Predictably fiery, the discussion sincerely engaged with the realities of the First Amendment in an America governed by a bloated and increasingly overbearing federal government. One particular issue, which echoed the general concern from the Democratic bench (which was invariably supportive of the Department of Health and Human Services policy) and spoke to the fundamental disagreements, was raised by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY). Read More
One of the most persuasive cases against nominating Mitt Romney is that he would make it difficult for Republicans to attack Obama over health care during the general election. But conservatives need to go beyond just asking themselves what ground they want to challenge Obama on. They also need to ask themselves what ground they want to spend the general election defending.
If Mitt Romney is the nominee, Republicans will have to scale back the all-out assault on ObamaCare they hoped to pursue. But at the same time, they won’t have to spend the race mounting a vocal defense of RomneyCare, since Democratic attacks aren’t likely to focus on that issue. Instead, Democrats will target Romney on class warfare, business regulations, taxes, Wall Street, and so on.
One of the more interesting questions to come out of the visibly pronounced chasm between the Republican Party’s moderate/establishment and more conservative/Tea Party wings is what happens if the Republican candidate for president loses to President Obama in November? I waded into the discussion a bit a couple months ago, when there seemed to be a distinct possibility that Newt Gingrich would solidify his place as the “not Romney” of the election and make it a two-man race between himself and the former Massachusetts governor.
Today, Ben Domenech proposes an updated version of the question over at Ricochet. If conservatives would be blamed for a Gingrich or Rick Santorum loss (social conservatives especially, in the case of the latter) and moderates for a theoretical Romney loss, Domenech asks, with which candidate would conservatives rather lose? I don’t have an answer to this particular question, but rather an observation about it: This is almost entirely a function of the specific candidates competing for the nomination this year, and not particularly representative of each wing more generally.
The latest of several polls of Michigan Republicans released in the last few days confirms what the others reported: Rick Santorum is leading Mitt Romney in the state where the latter was born and raised. Though the Detroit News poll gives Santorum a four-point edge that was within the margin of error, the survey was one of five polls that all pointed to a Santorum victory in the Feb. 28 Michigan primary. That leaves Romney, who told reporters yesterday that a loss “just won’t happen,” scrambling for an issue with which to counter the rising conservative tide that has lifted Santorum from the second tier of the GOP race to the frontrunner position. His answer appeared to be an unlikely choice for Michigan but one that would, at least on this one point, allow him to outflank Santorum on the right: combating the influence of unions.
Romney came out swinging at organized labor yesterday, taking specific aim at the United Auto Workers. Channeling voter resentment at the role of unions in sending states into near-bankruptcy has been a familiar theme for the GOP around the nation as governors such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and New Jersey’s Chris Christie have rallied the GOP base on the issue. Picking up the anti-union banner is a way for Romney to connect with Tea Party voters. It also provides him with a way to bring up Santorum’s record of voting for big government spending packages. But given the outsize influence of union voters in Michigan, it’s an open question as to whether this tactic will help or hurt Romney, especially because Santorum is going all-out to emphasize his working class roots and sympathies.
Tomorrow, the Senate is scheduled to vote to close debate on the nomination of Jesse Furman as a federal district court judge in New York. This is a worthy nomination. Furman, who is not yet 40 years old, has spent his professional life in public service as a judicial clerk, prosecutor, and Justice Department official. What makes his service all the more exceptional is that he has performed in worthy fashion for judges conservative (Michael Mukasey), liberal (Jose Cabranes), and liberal-posing-as-conservative (David Souter). Over the past decade, he has worked two stints as a federal prosecutor in New York with a special focus on terrorism and narcotics trafficking. And though he was nominated for his position by Barack Obama, he worked for nearly two years for Michael Mukasey as a senior official in the Justice Department under George W. Bush. I’ve known Furman for four years, and in that time we have had substantive conversations about the law in which I have found him terrifically knowledgeable, entirely respectful of views that differ from his, and utterly without an axe to grind. There was some concern expressed during a confirmation hearing about an article he wrote for the Harvard Crimson when he was all of 18 years old in which he smart-assed the National Rifle Association. I would genuinely hope and expect that serious members of the United States Senate would not withhold their support from about as good a nominee as a Republican could hope for from Barack Obama based on an immature intellectual pecadillo. (I shudder to think of what I wrote at 18.) I don’t think voting for Jesse Furman should give any Republican in the Senate a moment’s pause.
In an interview with Politico yesterday, the incoming New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren said she “would be eager to talk to” Washington Free Beacon reporter Adam Kredo “about anything.” She may be ruing those words this morning:
The New York Times’ incoming Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, won’t say if she is a Zionist.
“I’m going to punt on that question,” Rudoren, who is Jewish, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview yesterday. “I’m not really interested in labels about who I am and what I think.” …
Asked if she considers Israel an apartheid state—as critics of the Jewish state so often do—Rudoren declined comment.
“I don’t have an assessment yet,” she said. “I’m not sure I’ll ever answer that question in the way you’ve just framed it.”
The way attacks were conducted against the car of an Israeli diplomat’s wife in Delhi has contributed to an interesting, if disconcerting theory among pundits. Iran’s wave of attacks against Israeli targets is tit-for-tat against what are presumed to be Israeli-sponsored assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists inside Iran. Ian Black in the Guardian, for example, wrote two days ago that:
“The use in Delhi of a sticky bomb attached to an Israeli embassy vehicle by a man riding a motorbike seemed to mimic the modus operandi used by Israel’s agents in Tehran. Hints, surely, do not come much heavier than that?”
Hmmm. Two stories, in two different publications, on the Mormon Church? Is something afoot?
Alana noted a Washington Post piece about the church posthumously baptizing Holocaust survivors, and that same issue made the cover of The Daily (which you can only read if you own an iPad). The Daily goes further than the Post, sharing some of the stranger Mormon beliefs and customs, including the odd, 18th century-ish style undergarments Mormons supposedly wear (they actually look quite comfy).