Monday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesWe had a productive long weekend, in that we made some smart big purchases courtesy of 4th of July sales. I can’t decide whether doing so was patriotic. On the whole, I’m inclined to think that anything I do right now to support the U.S. economy is patriotic. Yay, me!

And even more self-congratulatory huzzahs have to go to the incredible round-up I’ve got here:

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America doesn’t have a gun problem; it has a Chicago problem. (Obligatory announcement: Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, not to mention decades of Democrat Party governance.)

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“No, women, you can’t have it all,” says . . . the female PepsiCo CEO. The fault lies not with our society, but with our biology, and that pesky little thing about having children who instinctively bond to Mommy.

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Selwyn Duke carefully walks us through the media’s endless obfuscation about the identity of a woman who stabbed a teacher to death in front of a class full of terrified five- and six-year-olds.

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“Ebola” sounds like it should be some sort of lawn bowling game. Sadly, it’s not. Instead, it’s a deadly disease for which there is no cure or vaccination, and which is highly contagious if you’re unlucky enough to catch some of the victim’s bodily fluids (especially blood, which appears in prodigious amounts outside of the body when people die of a hemorrhagic fever). Even worse, it looks as if Ebola is primed to catch a plane to Europe or America sometime soon. If that doesn’t put the fear of God into you, I don’t know what will. My prediction, though, is that it makes its first appearance along the Obama-porous border to our south.

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The VA always has the time and money for green projects and employee bonuses. It’s had less of either for the veterans in its care (and the law denies these vets access to Medicare and civilian physicians). John Hawkins relates the appalling story of an Iraq veteran, only 31-years-old, whose digestive system has broken down but who cannot get any care whatsoever from the VA, leaving him at risk of starving to death. John ends his post with suggestions about things the public can do to help Joe Geoghagan.

I have to say that Joe has my sympathy. I almost starved to death many years ago when doctors kept diagnosing me with stress ulcers, when I was actually unable to tolerate the Pill. (Which is why I know how toxic the Pill is and why I’m so opposed to laws that allow school nurses to give it to 12 year olds.) I then threw up non-stop during both my pregnancies. The man is suffering and needs help.

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One of my Leftist Facebook friends has vowed to boycott Walgreen’s after having read a Bill Moyers article (to which I will not link) stating that Walgreens should be denied any voice in American politics because it moved its headquarters out of the U.S. It didn’t seem to occur to my friend that, rather than boycotting Walgreens, we should lower taxes so as to entice existing corporations to stay in America and new corporations to come to America. Otherwise, we risk becoming France.

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Jonathan Turley is a Leftist who’s been mugged by reality. Surprisingly, considering his DemProg credentials, Turley (a law professor) has great reverence for the Constitution. He especially appreciates the balance of powers, something that forces the federal government into deliberation and compromise. He’s therefore shocked and (dare I say it?) seemingly disgusted by Obama’s insistence that he doesn’t need no stinkin’ Congress, a dictatorial pronouncement allied with the snotty taunt that Congress should “sue me.”

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The Economist is famously unfriendly to Israel. Nevertheless, it finally seems to be catching on to the fact that the Arab world’s problems might be home-grown. It tags Islam as being at the core of the Arab world’s problems, but then foolishly pretends that its illiberal economic and social policies are somehow separate from Islam. Still, I won’t cavil too much, because it’s a start.

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I told you earlier that my Facebook friends having concluded that the Hobby Lobby ruling will lead to an all-out war against gays. While these morons (pardon my language, but it’s true) are being useful idiots to the hard Left, there really is a war — a bloody war — being waged against gays. It won’t surprise you, of course, to learn that this war is Islamic in nature, and it’s taking place with increasing frequency on American soil.

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David French perfectly encapsulates my approach, not just to law, but to all issues. It’s just that, in my mind, this approach was always inchoate and amorphous, so much so that I never could have expressed it as well as he did:

As a Christian lawyer — even when I was engaged in the “commercial” practice of law rather than the nonprofit, constitutional work I do now — I always drew moral lines around my representations decisions. I was not going to use whatever meager talents God gave me to advance or celebrate causes or principles I knew to be wrong. In other words, I discriminated. But not on the basis of race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation, but rather on the basis of the action or legal principle the case would advance. I’d happily represent anyone, gay or straight, in a commercial contract dispute. I would not represent anyone, gay or straight, who wanted to sue to make divorce easier or broaden the definition of marriage beyond the union of one man and one woman. I’d represent an adulterous cad if the state violated his rights to free speech, but I wouldn’t lift a finger to help him divorce his wife.

This distinction, between status and acts, or between and among different acts themselves, used to be a matter of common sense

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Arabs in Israel like to eat their cake and have it too. This is not a good thing for Israel.

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Here’s a matched set: Liberals hate America and the College Board tries to un-teach high schoolers about America, so as to perpetuate this hatred.

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It’s funny to watch Jason Riley try to talk common sense to a HuffPo host on the subject of the damage Progressive laws have done to American blacks. The HuffPo host couldn’t be more civil, but he keeps falling into cant and illogical “factual” digressions, with a perplexed Riley gamely trying to translate him into some sort of logical framework to which Riley can actually respond. Also, and no disrespect to Riley, but Riley sounds just like a truly super smart Urkel.

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I’m not a Peggy Noonan fan but, as I’ve noted before, when she’s good, she’s extraordinarily good — and so it is with this column about the peculiar (and peculiarly dangerous) Obama presidency. Since I don’t know if this is behind a pay wall (I’m always signed in to the WSJ), let me just give you a taste so you know what I’m talking about:

But I’m not sure people are noticing the sheer strangeness of how the president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a serious man. He wrote books, lectured on the Constitution. Now he seems unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His references to Congress are merely sarcastic: “So sue me.” “They don’t do anything except block me. And call me names. It can’t be that much fun.”

[snip]

This is a president with 2½ years to go who shows every sign of running out the clock. Normally in a game you run out the clock when you’re winning. He’s running it out when he’s losing.

All this is weird, unprecedented. The president shows no sign—none—of being overwhelmingly concerned and anxious at his predicaments or challenges. Every president before him would have been.

[snip]

Instead he seems disinterested, disengaged almost to the point of disembodied. He is fatalistic, passive, minimalist.

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Sen. Jeff Sessions has issued a stirring call to arms demanding that we restore our border integrity and security for the benefit of America and Americans.

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When you’re out of power, you develop solidarity with the guy next to you. Your long-term goals may be different, but in the short-term you both want power back. Things change dramatically when you suddenly achieve the power you want. All those former allies have the potential to become enemies, which is what’s happening between Michelle Obama and those charged with feeding America’s public school students.

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What does it mean that the New York Times has discovered that Tom Steyer’s money is filthy dirty with coal dust? I suspect that, because his heart’s in the “right place” (i.e., supporting DemProg politicians), his money will never be too dirty for the Times.

I also wonder if the Times will report on the cooling trend seen in America’s climate data? Duh! Dumb rhetorical question. Of course the Times won’t.

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I think James Cameron had one good move: The Terminator. Others think he made good movies up to and including The Titanic. Some will even praise him for Avatar. But when it comes to demanding that the whole world go vegan to fight global warming (except that the globe’s not warming; see above), can anyone take him seriously anymore? Never mind. Another dumb rhetorical question. He is now and will remain a DemProg darling for saying what they want to hear.

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Indeed, Cameron’s climate views are now the only views the BBC will allow on air. I can no longer remember where I read it, but someone remarked that this is the same BBC that refused to give Churchill air time during the 1930s to talk about the rising danger from Germany and the terrible risks from British appeasement and pacifism.

It used to be that the only thing that the BBC had going for it was posh British accents. Now, with its egalitarian dive into the furthest realms of working class speech, it doesn’t even have that cachet.

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This is your body on socialized medicine:

A report published by the Royal College of Surgeons and Age UK shows that [British National Health Service] rationing is being extended to cover life-saving operations on elderly patients. A study found that in large parts of the country, hardly anyone above the age of 75 was receiving surgery for conditions such as breast cancer and gall bladder removal.

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I’ve complained here about the bag bans taking over Marin. First they came for the plastic bags, and now they’re zeroing in on the paper bags. They want to turn us all into crazy bag ladies, packing our groceries into petri dishes full of salmonella and e. coli. And of course you won’t be at all surprised to learn that the “scientific” justification for these often dangerous inconveniences is total bunk.

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Please don’t forget Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who rots in a Mexican prison while our president does nothing. No, wait, I’m wrong. Tahmooressi rots in a Mexican prison while our president welcomes hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, many Mexican, into our country, and then disburses them — drugs, diseases, crime, and all — throughout America so that they cannot easily be sent back home. My Congress people are useless pieces of Leftist detritus, so I have no way of making a change, but if you’re not stuck with the Feinsteins, Boxers, and Huffmans of this world, maybe you can do something.

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The DiploMad has a his truly epic rant against Obama’s “misadministration” on our Southern border. You really have to read it.

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Some moronic Leftist went into Hobby Lobby, played with wooden alphabet blocks, took a photo, and is now touted as a hero by Planned Parenthood. Can I just say, morons, that Hobby Lobby never denied that women should be able to get birth control, something that’s been a recognized right in America since 1965, when the Supreme Court handed down the Griswold decision?

Women need birth control

I guess I can say it, but it won’t make a difference.  You can’t gain any traction with people who argue this way:

The Alinsky approach to mandatory birth control

Anatomy of a smear; or, no, conservatives are not trying to ban contraception in America

In 1965, the United States Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut, the first case to enunciate a “right to privacy” under the U.S.  Constitution.  Before Griswold, notion of a right to privacy had only existed as a common law doctrine, applicable to ones fellow citizens.  This was the first time, however, that the United States Supreme Court anchored this common law privacy right to the Constitution — despite the justices’ acknowledgment that the Constitution makes no mention of privacy as one of the inalienable citizen rights upon which a government cannot impinge.  Instead, the justices used strained and imaginary “penumbras” and “emanations” of existing rights (the Fourth Amendment, for example, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures) to justify their decision.  So, a lousy law (and banning contraception was an exceptionally lousy law) led to something even worse:  a fake constitutional right.

In any event, since 1965, contraceptives have been legal all over America.  You can get them with a prescription if they’re hormonally based, and you can pick them up at any pharmacy, grocery store, vending machine, high school, middle school, etc., if they’re barrier-style contraceptives.  United States taxpayers already subsidize those that get to people through Planned Parenthood and through our schools.

Such was the status quo until ObamaCare.  Now, though, the Progressives have added a hitherto unknown imaginary constitutional right:  women have the absolute right to free contraceptives.  Of course, since nothing is free, what this really means is that women have the absolute right to contraceptives paid for by others.  Regardless of how one feels about either privacy or contraception, anyone with even a smidgen of intellectual honesty has to concede that forcing third parties to pay for women’s access to a readily available, perfectly legal product is not something one can find in the Constitution itself, or even in the Constitution’s recently discovered penumbras and emanations.

Some Republicans in Congress, appalled by this government overreach, have proposed a bill that bars the government from using ObamaCare to justify forcing third parties to pay for women’s contraceptives.  It’s important to note here that they are not banning contraceptives.  Nor are they even reversing the current status quo (because the ObamaCare ukase has not yet gone into effect).  Rather, the Republicans are maintaining the status quo that has existed in the United States since 1965:  contraceptives are legal and women (and men) are free to buy them any time, any where.  Some are more expensive than others, but none are very expensive.  The alleged annual $600 cost for the average women wouldn’t be a big deal now if it wasn’t for the rising price of fuel, something that makes everything expensive.

The above are the facts.  Here’s the spin the Progressives are using to keep the White House in 2012 and to regain the House:  “GOP officials fight to restrict women’s access to contraceptives.”  (That verbatim quotation is taken from a longer post saying that the current GOP fight regarding contraception is akin to their failed fight to keep the state of Florida from forcing Terri Schiavo to starve to death.)

Let me repeat:  The Progressives are explicitly stating that the GOP is “fight[ing] to restrict women’s access to contraceptives.”

This is a bald-faced lie.  The GOP isn’t touching the status quo on abortion, a status quo that has been in place for almost 50 years.  Instead, the GOP is fighting to restrict the federal government from creating a non-existent “right” to birth control, a right that allows the federal government to force third parties, including religious organizations, to subsidize birth control, abortifacients, and sterilization.

Facts are stubborn things, and the facts favor conservatives.  Unfortunately, as Churchill knew, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”  We’ve got the facts on our side, but this is one lie that the Progressives are making sure has legs.

Whenever my “real me” Facebook friends put up a post about the GOP attack on contraception, I politely point out that, as I understand things, the GOP isn’t challenging women’s right to contraception.  It’s just challenging a federal mandate forcing religious institutions to subsidize a doctrinally offensive product.  Interestingly, whenever I drop that indisputable fact into one of hate-filled rants regarding the GOP and women’s rights, I stop the Facebook conversation dead.  There are no arguments and no ripostes.  Facts are stubborn things.

One study, two spins (with one attacking abstinence)

The CDC did a study about teen sexuality. Here’s how The Telegraph, a leading British news paper spun it:

American teenagers are having less sex, doing fewer drugs and drinking less alcohol than those who grew up in the 1990s, according to a new study.

Amid growing concern about teenage behaviour in Britain, the report by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that their American peers are heading in the other direction.

The study also found that, compared with the previous generation, US teenagers were more likely to use condoms during sex, wear a seat belt and avoid getting into a car with a driver who has been drinking.

About 48 per cent of high school students – who are roughly aged 14 to 18 – said they were no longer virgins in 2007, down from 54 per cent in 1991.

There was also a fall in the number who said they had had four or more sexual partners – down from 19 per cent to 15 per cent.

The change was more dramatic when it came to taking precautions. Even though AIDS awareness is arguably less of an issue now, 62 per cent of sexually active students said they had used a condom the last time they had sex. In 1991, only 46 per cent said they had.

Drinking, the bane of British youth, is another issue on which young Americans differ significantly.

Some 35 per cent of teenagers had at least one alcoholic drink in the month before they were surveyed in 2007, down from 42 per cent in 1991.

Marijuana use has fallen to a fifth of high school students from a peak of 27 per cent in 1999. Methamphetamine use has more than halved since 10 per cent of high school students admitted taking the drug seven years ago.

Violence in US high schools often involves guns rather than the knives that increasingly appear in British schools.

However, nearly half as many students admitted to carrying some kind of weapon – 17 per cent in 2007 compared with 33 per cent in 1991.

[snip]

American teenagers are also acting more safely in cars. While 35 per cent said they rarely or never wore a seat belt in 1991, that proportion has fallen to just 12 now. They also revealed that they were less likely to get into a car with a driver who had been drinking – down from 36 per cent to 27 per cent.

That’s a stunningly positive report card, and something to be proud of. However, that’s not how the American media is viewing it. Here’s the WaPo take, syndicated in the SF Chron (meaning it’s getting wide play):

The nation’s campaign to get more teenagers to delay sex and use condoms is faltering, threatening to undermine the highly successful effort to reduce teen pregnancy and protect young people from sexually transmitted diseases, federal officials reported Wednesday.

New data from a large government survey shows that by every measure, the decadelong decline in sexual activity among high school students leveled off between 2001 and 2007 and the increase in condom use by teens flattened out in 2003.

Moreover, the survey found hints that teen sexual activity may have begun creeping up and that condom use among high school students might be edging down, though those trend lines have not yet reached a point where statisticians can be sure, officials said.

[snip]

The new figures renewed the heated debate about sex education classes that focus on abstinence until marriage, which began receiving federal funding during the period covered by the latest survey and have come under increasing criticism that they are ineffective.

“Since we’ve started pushing abstinence, we have seen no change in the numbers on sexual activity,” said John Santelli, chairman of the Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University. “The other piece of it is abstinence education spends a good amount of time bashing condoms. So it’s not surprising, if that’s the message young people are getting, that we’re seeing condom use start to decrease.”

The actual article is about five times as long as what I excerpted above, and focuses entirely on small changes in condom use, large opinion attacks on abstinence, and, unlike the British article, has almost no hard figures.