You could probably come up with some decent arguments against the legislation passed by the Virginia legislature, which would require women to receive ultrasounds before undergoing an abortion. Or, as Slate does, you could just descend into hysteria and wild-eyed fear-mongering:
I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law. …
The ethical and professional obligations of physicians who would merely like to perform their jobs without physically violating their own patients are, however, immaterial. Don’t even bother asking whether this law would have passed had it involved physically penetrating a man instead of a woman without consent. Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument about the obscene government overreach that is the individual mandate in President Obama’s health care law. Yet physical intrusion by government into the vagina of a pregnant woman is so urgently needed that the woman herself should be forced to pay for the privilege.
As we wrote last week, the Presbyterian Church USA is faced with a choice about the future of its relations with the Jewish community and, indeed, the vast majority of Americans who ardently support the state of Israel. Unfortunately, rather than listen to voices of reason, church leaders have today taken another step toward approval of measures that place the denomination in favor of economic war against the Jewish state when their General Assembly Mission Council voted to recommend a report that calls for “selective divestment” from Israel.
Though the PCUSA claims what it is doing is meant to encourage peace, it is doing just the opposite. By approving a call for sanctions on some companies that do business in Israel, the PCUSA is not only doing something that will encourage Palestinians to persist in refusing to make peace, they have also done something that makes it impossible for Jews and others who care about Israel to continue to work with the church on any issue.
Yesterday, Rick Santorum fundraiser Foster Friess went on MSNBC and told an old, corny joke about how “gals” used to put aspirin between their knees as birth control. The implication was that if you keep your knees together all the time, you’re not going to be getting pregnant anytime soon. Get it? (Yes, it’s dumb).
But the joke was apparently lost on liberals, some of whom thought Friess was literally proposing women use this as a form of birth control. Even though it isn’t medically effective! And they were accordingly outraged.
Those who have pointed out that Rick Santorum’s reputation as the scourge of gays and his opposition to contraception will be serious liabilities in a general election are right. But his stance on gambling that Alana noted yesterday ought not to be lumped in as yet another instance of the former Pennsylvania senator acting out his role as the national scold. Santorum’s opposition to the spread of gambling, and specifically the legalization of Internet gambling,is neither overly moralistic nor hypocritical. What’s more, I highly doubt Democrats would seek to make this a campaign issue because it would cast them not so much as libertarian defenders of the right to gamble as the defenders of a dangerous social pathology.
As Alana wrote, Santorum recently reiterated his long-held belief that allowing legalized gambling to spread from its previous enclaves in Las Vegas and Atlantic City is a terrible idea for the country. But, contrary to Alana’s assertion, this doesn’t make him an advocate of a nanny state. The analogy here is not so much to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on trans fats as it is the decision about whether this country will legalize marijuana or even heroin.
The great myth about our ongoing defense drawdown is it is designed to make possible a “pivot to the Pacific.” This is only true in the sense that the Navy and Air Force–the primary services concerned with a future Pacific conflict–are being cut less than the Army and Marine Corps, upon whom we have depended to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade.
The ground forces are losing more than 100,000 troopers. The air and naval forces are not making such drastic cutbacks, but they are cutting back just the same, as this article in the San Diego Union Tribune notes: “The Navy is cutting nearly 3,000 mid-career troops in a first-of-its-kind layoff this year, made necessary by record-high re-enlistment.” In other words, petty officers who had been looking forward to a 20+-year career, as is standard, are now being sent to the unemployment line after only 10 or so years of service–this at a time of high unemployment. As the article notes, this is part of an ongoing reduction of the Navy’s ranks. In 2006, it had 359,373 personnel; today it has 325,700; by 2014 it is due to be down to 320,000.
Initially, after the HHS mandate for employers to provide birth control for its employees was announced, the religious right flank of the Jewish community, the Orthodox Union (OU), came out strongly against the decision. In the New York Times, the executive director of public policy for the OU Nathan Diament explained:
Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary [says] religious entities that “serve the general public and employ people of different faiths” should not receive the same religious liberty protections as, for example, a church or a synagogue. Such reasoning is wrongheaded.
For many people of diverse faiths, religious observance is not to be confined to the sanctuary. For many, faith compels engagement with the broader world and service to our fellow man, especially those in need. To say the government will afford religious liberty only to the most insular of religious institutions but not to those that serve, or employ, people of other faiths is a troubling view of faith and what role it should play in America.
The Obama administration may believe the $1.3 billion a year the United States gives to Egypt provides it with leverage in the standoff over that country’s attempt to criminalize the activities of American non-governmental organizations that promote democracy and human rights. The indictment of 16 Americans and a refusal to let another six leave the country has rightly earned Egypt a stiff condemnation from Washington, which has sent Cairo a signal that further such misbehavior will make the passage of future aid packages problematic. But the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, which constitutes Egypt’s leading political party in the post-Mubarak era, has made it clear they aren’t impressed by President Obama’s concerns or any implicit threats from Congress. As the New York Times reports today, the Brotherhood is promising that any slowing of the U.S. gravy train will result in a “review” of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
This threat from the Brotherhood reinforces two key factors of the U.S.-Egypt relationship. The first is that most Egyptians have always thought of the 1979 pact that ended decades of war with the Jewish state as merely a financial bargain in which the United States paid them to keep the peace. The second is that the Brotherhood, much like the Islamists who run Iran, doesn’t think much of President Obama.
It always seemed odd that MSNBC, the far-left network, employed one of the most fringey, controversial, anti-Semitic figures on the right. But then again, there was probably a good reason for it. The left still wishes all conservatives were as easy to demonize as Pat Buchanan.
But now it seems some powerful, shadowy group of “backlisters” went and drove Buchanan out of MSNBC, after his writing was attacked by liberals as racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic. Buchanan took to the internet today to warn darkly about these blacklisters:
Without a hearing, they smear and stigmatize as racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic any who contradict what George Orwell once called their “smelly little orthodoxies.” They then demand that the heretic recant, grovel, apologize, and pledge to go forth and sin no more.
Defy them, and they will go after the network where you work, the newspapers that carry your column, the conventions that invite you to speak. If all else fails, they go after the advertisers.
I know these blacklisters. They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight.
This past week, the Mormon Church, and Mitt Romney, came under fire when it was discovered that the parents of Simon Wiesenthal were proxy-baptized by the Church. In 1995, the Church of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church, outlawed the baptisms of anyone outside of their members’ ancestors in response to outrage over their baptisms of Holocaust victims (which Wiesenthal’s parents were). In an apologetic statement released after the Wiesenthal baptisms became known, the Church explained that a rogue member had submitted the names without the knowledge or consent of leadership and that there would be action taken to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.
Immediately after the baptisms hit the headlines calls came for Romney to condemn the action, from Elie Wiesel to top leadership of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, pushing the story onto front pages. Given that the Church had already officially prohibited the baptisms of Holocaust victims, there was little for Romney to do but condemn his own Church, publicly, with no chance of accomplishing anything but further embarrassing his faith.
While running for governor in 2009, Chris Christie vowed, if elected, to veto any same-sex marriage bill that came to his desk. His support for civil unions but opposition to gay marriage did not hold him back in his decisive victory over Jon Corzine, but the state’s Democratic legislature is about to force Christie to make good on his veto threat.
The state’s Democrats bookended this week by passing a bill legalizing gay marriage in the Senate on Monday and then in the Assembly yesterday, with Christie promising to veto the bill as early as today. Christie had tried to avoid this by urging the legislature to instead put the choice to voters in a referendum. That would have taken Christie out of the equation and would have likely reduced the odds of it passing:
Voters nationwide have rejected gay marriage in all 31 referendums on the issue. Democrats in New Jersey say marriage is a civil right that shouldn’t be subject to a popular vote. Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a West Deptford Democrat, said this week “there’s not a chance in hell” he’d post a referendum bill.
Yesterday, many on the left had a hearty laugh about the statement by Bishop William E. Lori on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the administration’s effort to force the church to violate its principles by paying for insurance coverage for practices it opposes. The left-wing site Talking Points Memo in particular thought it was ludicrous for Bishop Lori to claim a government mandate that Catholic institutions pay for contraception is akin to one that would force Jewish delis to serve pork. To the left, the analogy is ludicrous, because getting free birth control from your employer is, they believe, a constitutional right, and a ham sandwich is merely a whim.
But Lori was absolutely right. The attempt by the president to force all employers, even those whose religious convictions forbid them from doing so, to provide insurance coverage for contraception is no different than a hypothetical law that would require all places that serve food to include non-kosher items on the menu.
Democrats are crying foul about Republican efforts to publicize the fact that President Obama’s budget request to Congress contained a cut in funding for missile defense projects in Israel. The amount of aid allocated for this sector went down from $106 million in 2012 to $99 million next year. The Republican Jewish Coalition is making a meal out of this point, but the president’s supporters are pointing out that the overall amount of funding for Israel went up. Given the scale of the budget, the difference doesn’t amount to much money and Congress will, no doubt, vastly increase this number as it did for 2012 when it more than doubled the amount Obama requested.
But the cut is worth talking about specifically because it undermines the line of baloney Obama and the Democrats have been selling to American Jewish audiences in recent months about him being the most pro-Israel president in history when it comes to supporting defense of the Jewish state. Moreover, the decision to pare back missile defense is particularly embarrassing because American support for Israel’s “Iron Dome” system is something Obama has taken credit for at every possible opportunity, even though the project was initiated and funded by George W. Bush.
Much of the attention in defense circles in recent weeks has been focused, naturally enough, on the release of a new defense budget that contains the first tranche of cuts as part of the $487 billion in savings mandated by Congress last summer under the Budget Control Act. But it is also important to remember that sequestration is still barreling down the track, and, if left unstopped, will produce a catastrophic collision that will leave the armed forces, already reeling, in a seriously weakened state.
Sequestration, recall, was the process whereby a special congressional committee was supposed to find $1.2 trillion in budget cuts on pain of seeing half that amount automatically deducted from the defense budget and the other half from domestic programs. The threat did not work, and the special committee finished its work before Thanksgiving without having reached any agreement. That means that half of those cuts–roughly $600 billion–will fall on the defense budget starting on January 1, 2013, even though defense spending as a whole only accounts for just 20 percent of the entire federal budget. There is widespread bi-partisan agreement that the consequences of sequestration would be catastrophic; everyone from Leon Panetta to Gen. Martin Dempsey have said so.