Category: Politics

Clinton Cash

In about a week, a book called Clinton Cash is going to drop on bookstores. Already a top-seller, it details a lot of the corruption we’ve been hearing about. Glenn Reynolds:

It was a bad week for Hillary Clinton. So bad, in fact, that The Washington Post declared she had “the worst week in Washington.” From The New York Times, there were reports of shady uranium deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan. From The Post, it was reporting on how the Clintons’ foundation seems more like a personal piggy bank. And from Politico, it was a report that “Clinton struggles to contain media barrage on foreign cash.” (If you haven’t kept up, here’s a bullet-point summary of the key bits). And the book that led to all these stories isn’t even out yet.

The responses from Clintonworld have been unconvincing — my favorite was when their supporters denied that a meeting between Bill Clinton and shadowy Kazakh nuclear officials had taken place, only to have a The Times reporter produce photo evidence. But, hey, the Clintons have survived even more concrete evidence of scandal — remember Monica Lewinsky’s semen-stained dress? — so why should this time be any different?

Well, one big difference is that three major news organizations — The Times, The Post and Fox News — are all working on the story. If it were just Fox, the Clintons might be able to spin it as a product of, in Hillary’s famous phrase, the “vast right-wing conspiracy.” But that’s unlikely to fly this time. Even the liberal group Common Cause has called for an audit of the Clinton Foundation’s finances.

Even so, don’t count the Clintons out yet. Even if these scandals ultimately kill Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential candidacy, she’ll be inclined to keep it staggering along as long as possible. So long as it looks as if she might be president, the money will keep coming in, and many people will be afraid to challenge her. As soon as her candidacy falls off the table, so will the money, and the influence.

Reynolds goes through the winners and losers from Clinton’s “bad week”, but I would agree with Nick Gillespie that the real losers are the American people who have yet another reason to doubt their government.

I have obviously not read Schweizer’s book but we don’t need it to know that the Clintons have been wallowing in largesse for years. The Foundation is frantically refiling its taxes and admitting that most of its money gets spent … on itself:

According to the Post, it took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid.

Much of the Foundation’s money goes to travel ($8.5 million in 2013); conferences, conventions and meetings ($9.2 million); and payroll and employee benefits ($30 million). Ten executives received salaries of more than $100,000 in 2013. Eric Braverman, a friend of Chelsea Clinton, was paid nearly $275,000 in salary, benefits, and a housing allowance for just five months’ work as CEO that year.

Bill Allison is a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group once run by prominent leftist Zephyr Teachout. In Allison’s view, “it seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons.”

It’s important to note that the Clinton Foundation’s status as a problematic charity is distinct from the “Clinton cash” issue that Peter Schweizer and others have highlighted. “Clinton cash” focuses on the fundraising methods used by the Clintons. Specifically, there are substantial allegations that they raise money in part because nations and wealthy individuals hope to influence U.S. policy through their donations, and very possibly have succeeded in doing so.

The problem flagged by Charity Navigator and other watchdogs focuses on what the Clinton Foundation does with the money it raises (whether ethically or not). The Foundation’s profligacy and failure to spend a significant percentage of its funds on its alleged mission would be of concern even if there were no ethical problems associated with the Clintons’ fundraising.

I have a sinking feeling that none of this is going to matter in the end. As I said in a previous post, we’ve known who the Clinton are for over two decades and people still love them. But it’s going to be fun watching the cockroaches scatter as the sunlight is finally turned on the Clintons. And how knows? Maybe the Democrats will wake up and realize they’re about to nominate a corrupt surveillance-state supporter, drug warrior and Wall Street darling.

And if that happens … oh my goodness will this election suddenly become unpredictable and fun.

A Divergent View

One of the problems Clinton the Inevitable is having is some rumbling from her base. This is not surprising, given that Clinton is a hawk, a favorite of Wall Street, an ardent supporter of the surveillance state and an opponent of drug legalization. I suspect, in the end, it won’t matter. The Democrats will vote for Hillary anyway. But to appease them, she’s having to embrace parts of their progressive agenda, including expanding Social Security.

Seriously:

Progressives have a few such priorities in mind. First, they want Clinton to embrace an expansion of Social Security benefits. It’s an idea that seemed unthinkable during the period of fiscal austerity from which Congress has slowly been emerging, but it has gained steam among Democrats in recent months. Championed both by Warren and by the significantly more conservative Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the proposal earned support from all but two Senate Democrats when it came up during last month’s budget vote-a-rama. “She says her focus is on economic security. There’s no question Social Security is a key part of economic security,” said Nancy Altman, co-director of an advocacy group dedicated to boosting the public-pension system. “So it’s hard to understand why she wouldn’t do it.

Their other goal includes eliminating college loans in favor of a free education. Because, apparently, what this country really needs is another multi hundred billion dollar entitlement that will massively hike the cost of college. Oh, and they also want a pony and an action man figure and toy train.

The progressives know these ideas won’t get anywhere with Republicans in control of Congress. But they are tired of the Democrats being “cautious” (i.e, somewhat responsible) and want them to be “bold” (i.e,. stupid).

I can attack any part of this agenda, but let’s take on Social Security expansion, which I’ve addressed before:

Only an idiot would ignore that Social Security is already running a primary deficit and its “solvency” through 2033 comes from a trust fund that consists of nothing but IOU’s. Only an idiot would ignore the problem that massive retirement guarantees have created in Europe — plunging fertility rates, slow growth, waves of early retirement, even less personal savings. And only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots would propose tripling this problem.

Even if you ignore the political aspects, you’re talking about a massive tax hike which the government will, as it has done with Social Security, loan to itself and spend, leaving us in an even worse situation. Instead of having a Social Security Trust fund with $5 trillion fictitious dollars in it, we’ll have one with $10 trillion. I haven’t seen a proposal this stupid since Algore said he would shore up Social Security with the money we were borrowing from it.

The wealthy in this country are already paying an effective tax rate in the high 30’s. As Mcardle points out in a series of rebuttals to progressive talking points, this is a historic high. Contrary to the claim that Reagan and Bush 43 put the rich on easy street, the current tax code is just as onerous as it always was:

In 1986, in the face of a persistent budget deficit of roughly 5 percent of GDP, the Reagan administration undertook a massive tax reform that lowered marginal rates but also got rid of most deductions, which actually ended up raising effective taxes on the highest-income groups; the total average tax rate for the top 1 percent jumped from 24.6 percent in 1986 to 30.3 percent a year later. That’s why you could lower the top marginal rate to 28 percent from 70 percent and only see effective tax rates decline by five percentage points over that period.

But even that didn’t last. The George H.W. Bush administration did a big budget deal that raised taxes. The Bill Clinton administration raised them again, and the effective tax rate for the top 1 percent peaked at 35.3 percent in 1995, slightly higher than it had been at the previous peak in 1979. Even after the Bush tax cuts, the effective tax rates of this top group ran somewhere slightly north of 30 percent, or about where they’d been in 1981, before Reagan’s tax reform took effect. They only dipped back into the 20s under Barack Obama, because of the lasting effects of the recession.

Most of the tax relief of the last thirty years has come in the form of eliminating income taxes on the poor and drastically reducing for the lower middle class.

Progressives cling to the fantasy that we can simply raise taxes on the rich forever. “Hey!” they think, “we’re only taking 35.7% of the rich’s income. We could take another 5-10% easy!” Even assuming it were fair or even possible to take half the income of the “rich”; even assuming this wouldn’t damage the economy, we are already committed to spending that money. We already have trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Obamacare. We already have hundreds of billions committed to interest on the debt and maintaining Obama’s (and soon Hillary’s) wars. We already have a time bomb of public and private pensions that our government may end up bailing out. You can’t just spend money and hope the tax revenue will materialize. You can’t raise taxes on the rich forever. Eventually, you are going to have to raise taxes on the middle class. And eventually, you are going to run into a fiscal wall.

Now, by contrast, Chris Christie this week laid out his plan for Social Security. It includes tapering benefits to people with incomes over $80,000 and raising the retirement age. In the link, Yglesias makes the reasonable point that this hurts poorer seniors the most, who often retire earlier and don’t live as long as wealthier seniors. That’s true, but we still can’t sustain the current system. Maybe you can step the retirement ages a little differently or up the benefits for the most needy seniors. But at least Christie’s plan acknowledges the fiscal realities of the 21st century. At least it’s not based on the pie-in-the-sky belief that we can just raise taxes on the evil stinking rich and pay for … everything.

Contemplating this issue and the opposing views this afternoon, I became a little more optimistic about the 2016 election. A lot of people see the broad Republican field as a weakness. But, in some ways, it’s a strength. Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz … these guys have a very diverse array of views on foreign policy, economics and budget issues. They’re all conservative, in their way. But we’re looking at a real debate about where this country needs to be headed. We’re getting a fairly broad and somewhat sensible palette of ideas from the Republican slate. And that becomes really obvious when you compare it to the toked-up-college-dorm-bull-session ideas emerging from Clinton’s base.

The question, as always, will be: do the American people prefer conservative fact or progressive fantasy? I guess we’ll find out.

Hillary In

Well, it’s official. Hillary has announced her candidacy. I know that’s a shock. Personally, I think she should go with this slogan:

The 2008 election was very fun to blog because so much was uncertain. Hillary seemed inevitable but then Obama beat her. McCain was declared dead but roared back. It was completely unpredictable. 2012 was fun, in its way, but we all knew it would be Romney in the end.

I’m dreading this election because what is there to say? We’ve had 24 years to see how corrupt and petty the Clintons can be and yet there are enough kool-aid drinkers to make this happen. Our only hope is that some even more massive corruption is found (always a possibility with these people). But even then, I think the Democrats will go ahead and nominate her. She could club baby seals and they’d still nominate her. She could throttle orphans on TV and they’d still nominate her. Hell, she could announce that she’s a Republican and wants to bust unions and they’d still probably nominate her. The thought of 4-8 more years of the Clintons may be enough to get me to vote Republican for the first since 2000.

I don’t, however, think Clinton’s ultimate election is unavoidable. To quote me:

What the hell is Hillary’s campaign going to be about?

Seriously. What issues is she going to run on? She can’t run on Obama’s record since it isn’t that hot and Obama is unpopular. But she can’t run against it without splitting the party.

Healthcare? That used to be her issue but we have Obamacare and that’s quite enough, thank you. Foreign policy? The economy? None of those are winners for her. In the end, I suspect Hillary’s campaign will come down to “it’s my turn” and I just don’t see the voters jumping on that. They didn’t with McCain in 2008. Or Dole in 1996.

As I see it, she has two options. One is to hope that the economy is doing great, the world is settled down, the scandals blow over and Obamacare becomes popular. Then she can run on a campaign of continuing those policies. And also doing something about all the pigs flying through the air.

The other option … and I suspect that given the realities of Obama’s tenure, this is where she’ll go … is Republicans Be Crazy. She’ll attempt to portray them as deranged lunatics who want to end Medicare, take away your health insurance, crash the economy and start a war. She’ll rally the various parts of the Democratic coalition and try to isolate the Republicans to only representing old white Christian men. Such a campaign would be nasty and divisive but I strongly suspect this is the road she’ll take.

Because, that’s the other reminder in this story. The Clintons talk nice when they have nothing to gain or lose. But when it comes to something they want — be it a plea bargain or the White House — they will scorch the fucking Earth to get there.

It will require a tremendous and concentrated effort by the Republican Party to derail her train, but it can be done. Especially as I think a lot of people are contemplating Clinton II with the same dread I am.

Right now, the only official Republican candidates are Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. I don’t think either of them has much of a chance. While the GOP may flirt with outsider candidates, they always end up nominating someone mainstream: Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush II, McCain. Romney was so sensible you could have marketed him as a floor wax.

But that may be a strength this year. The Democrats and their allies are so busy portraying Cruz and Paul as crazy nutjobs that when the Republicans end up nominating someone sensible like Scott Walker or Jeb Bush, what are they going to say? I know what they’ll say but why would people listen?

(This was a similar dynamic to 2012. The Democrats kept telling us that Newt was crazy, Caine was crazy, Santorum was crazy, Bachman was crazy. So when Romney won the nomination, they were out of ammunition. Romney lost, of course, but he did outpoll the Republican Party nationally and was even leading for a while. And I don’t see Clinton as having Obama’s political guile.)

Gun to my head, I would say the GOP candidate is most likely to be Jeb Bush or Scott Walker. Rick Perry could surprise as could Rick Santorum. But I keep getting this sneaking suspicion in my gut that the future GOP nominee is someone we’re not talking about right now.

Election 2016 is still dull and a long way away. But it could get exciting fast if the right Republican comes along.

(Possible thread for the comments: put out your own dark horse GOP candidate and how you think he’d do.)

Revising Finders Keepers

Much like the death penalty, asset forfeiture laws have been mangled, compromised, bastardized and manipulated to the point that they are unrecognizable to original intend. And as such, much like the death penalty, something I supported until its current application made it unworkable and a mockery to anything remotely resembling justice, asset forfeiture laws (AFL) have been abused to the point of being an enemy to individual civil liberty, and also a mockery of justice. Too bad, since the original intend was both noble and just, namely to deprive convicted criminals of their ill gotten gains, and who could argue with that? If a meth dealer was stopped on the highway for speeding, carrying several pounds of the illegal drug along with 50 grand in cash, the idea was that if the property (the cash and his brand new Benz) could be linked to the crime (say he hasn’t held a real job in 3 years and has been living on public assistance), then upon conviction he loses these items, tough luck sucker. But alas, greed and laziness came in to the picture, police agencies would seize property, anything they could grab, upon arrest (not conviction) even with a tenuous link between property and crime. Innocent people were getting screwed because cash starved public agencies wanted their stuff and had a legal avenue to steal it.

Enter the top choice (so far) for the VP slot on the next GOP presidential ticket, NM governor Susan Martinez, who just grabbed some low hanging fruit and made herself even more relevant;

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill to abolish civil asset forfeiture Friday.

She signed just before the noon deadline that would have pocket vetoed the legislation.

“As an attorney and career prosecutor, I understand how important it is that we ensure safeguards are in place to protect our constitutional rights,” Martinez said in a letter announcing her decision. “On balance, the changes made by this legislation improve the transparency and accountability of the forfeiture process and provide further protections to innocent property owners.”

Civil asset forfeiture is a practice where police can seize your property and keep it even if they don’t convict or charge you with a crime. Then, you must go through the difficult, and often unsuccessful process to get your property–whether it’s a vehicle, cash or your home–back from the police.

No, she is not abolishing the entire practice, nor do I think she should, just bringing it back to the original intent. Even the ACLU is on board (wait a minute, maybe we should rethink this).

Requiring demonstrable facts linking the crime to the property (no more, “Well, he was in the vicinity, good enough”) independently reviewed by an Appeals Board before anything can be seized, then holding said property in “Trust” until any convictions, yes, we are getting closer to what the law as actually written to do.

No doubt many would like all AFL abolished in toto, anymore end arounds or subverting intent and we just might go that route.

AFL, like the death penalty, should be used judicially and sparingly, under the spotlight of public review, both serve a purpose. Guys like that turd Tsarnaev and Maj. Hasan, I want them dead. And not 25 years from now dead. justice delayed in justice denied, a year appeals max, then give them the cocktail.

Paul Officially In

Rand Paul has officially thrown his hat into the Presidential ring, unveiling his agenda and opening up a website. I don’t think Paul has much of a chance of the nomination or the Presidency, given some of his unorthodox views. And, for obvious reasons, I’m a little dubious of half-term senators running for President. But I do like having him out there. He’s another voice outside the GOP establishment. He brings to the fore a number of issues — mass incarceration, the War on Drugs, NSA surveillance, aggressive foreign policy — that the GOP needs to confront.

And … he drive the Left Wing absolutely berserk. Today’s stories have alternated headlines of “Paul’s no different from other Republicans” to “Paul is a crazy far out Republican”. They’ve been putting up factually challenged rants about how he wants to return us to the 19th century. They’ve been accusing him of being sexist based on a testy interview with Savannah Guthrie. The Left Wing has a lot invested in the idea that all Republicans are sociopathic, racist, sexist shitlords who only care about rich people. Paul is one of the biggest challenges to that.

But there’s something else I’m picking up on. One of my favorite responses to Paul’s candidacy has been from whichever semi-literate intern wrote Paul Krugman’s column today. He puts up an idiot’s version of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz and then claims, based on no data whatsoever, that there are no libertarians1. Everyone in America is either economically and socially liberal or economically and socially conservative. Because apparently the polls showing a large libertarian center don’t exist.

Why is American politics essentially one-dimensional, so that supporters of gay marriage are also supporters of guaranteed health insurance and vice versa? (And positions on foreign affairs — bomb or talk? — are pretty much perfectly aligned too).

Well, the best story I have is Corey Robin’s: It’s fundamentally about challenging or sustaining traditional hierarchy. The actual lineup of positions on social and economic issues doesn’t make sense if you assume that conservatives are, as they claim, defenders of personal liberty on all fronts. But it makes perfect sense if you suppose that conservatism is instead about preserving traditional forms of authority: employers over workers, patriarchs over families. A strong social safety net undermines the first, because it empowers workers to demand more or quit; permissive social policy undermines the second in obvious ways.

And I suppose that you have to say that modern liberalism is in some sense the obverse — it is about creating a society that is more fluid as well as fairer.

This is mind-bogglingly stupid. 40% of self-described Republicans now support legal same-sex marriage, including 60% of young Republicans. 60-70% of independents support same sex marriage. And despite claims by liberals, actual polls show that a clear majority of independents and the vast majority of Republicans oppose single-payer healthcare. So this “actually very few” people who support same sex marriage and oppose single-payer health is approximately half the electorate.

Mankiw:

Similar to Krugman, I would define a libertarian voter as one who leans left on social issues (such as same-sex marriage) and right on economic issues (such as taxes and regulation). I certainly put myself in that camp, and I don’t think I am as lonely as Krugman suggests. I meet lots of students with similar views (though, admittedly, Harvard students are hardly a representative sample of voters).

I also meet a lot of students with similar views at my big state university. Mankiw also reminds us that far “challenging traditional hierarchies”, the Democrats supported them up until about last week:

Many libertarian voters I know (including those students) often vote for Democratic candidates because they weight the social issues more than the economic ones. I usually vote for Republican candidates because I weight the economic issues more than the social ones.

One reason is that I don’t view the Democratic Party as a leader on social issues. Remember that Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Barack Obama was against same-sex marriage when he ran for President, and then he “evolved” (aka flip-flopped) on the issue. On this social issue and many others, our elected leaders are really followers. The leaders are the American people.

Why are so many liberals freaking out about Rand Paul? Why are so many reduced to sheer hysteria by the prospect of a “libertarian moment”? Because libertarianism and libertarian-conservatism put the lie to the liberal conceit, espoused above by Krugman, that Democrats are mavericks who challenge traditional hierarchies. I couldn’t imagine anything further from the truth. Democrats were the party of slavery. Democrats were the party of segregation and Jim Crowe (especially progressive hero Woodrow Wilson). Democrats support massive government power, including the surveillance state and Obama’s wars. They have only supported social change when forced. They bomb countries, they violate civil liberties, they jail people by the millions and they always, always seek to expand the scope and power of our government. That’s not being a maverick and challenging social hierarchy. That’s being a conformist. It was, in fact, progressive hero Woodrow Wilson who said, “Conformity will be the only virtue. And every man who refuses to conform will have to pay the penalty.”

Rand Paul isn’t a dangerous loon. And he’s not the antichrist. What he is is a heretic, challenging the religion that is Progressivism. We should be grateful they’re not calling for him to be burned at the stake.

Yet.

Paul says he is not a libertarian and his views would be best described as conservative. But he draw enormous support from libertarians and libertarian-conservatives.

The left is not just permeated by stupid: it has a lot of evil too

Real life has been kicking my rear end and I have been busier than a one legged man at an ass kicking contest. That has limited my participation here as of recent. There has been a lot going on these days and I figure that I should drag up an oldie but goody that explains all the “bad luck” the last 6 years of “Progressive Libertopia” have been causing us. One of my favorite reality checks is the interview Yuri Bezmenov, as Soviet Defector, gave back in 1984 to G. Edward Griffin. Listen carefully to what he talks about and note the parallel with the shit we have been going through for the last 6 or so years.

Now contrast that with all the crap in the news today. The left, in these last 6 years, most of it with them controlling the levers of power exclusively, has gone beyond my wildest fantasies and predictions of idiotic crap and destructiveness, and it shows. When the idiotic shit they believe in and practice fails miserably, it’s everyone else’s fault. They are pissed people are focusing and pointing out that the facts don’t back up their narrative, and it shows. That’s why we had the kangaroo court proceedings and scandal after scandal – all ignored by a complicit and compliant media – exposed as such, be explained away as nothing important, or even more baffling, as falsehoods perpetrated by people with the facts.

Lies, lies, and more lies!

They don’t even realize the parody of their own making. You can’t make up this level of stupid. And no, it isn’t incompetence – even though there is so much of that going around by default when credentialed leftist elite morons are involved – but all by design as that interview with Yuri, over 30 years ago, clearly illustrates. The old Soviets must kick themselves daily when they see that hanging on just another 2 or 3 decades would have given them complete victory due to all the useful idiots looking for free shit that permeate our crumbling society today.

The Outline of a Deal

It’s not official, yet. Right now it’s just the framework. But the basics of the nuclear deal with Iran look … not that bad, actually. Iran will cut down it’s centrifuges by two-thirds and not enrich uranium past 3.67 percent. They’ll cut their stockpile of enriched uranium by 97% and not build any new facilities for 15 years. IAEA will have access to all of their facilities. This is the most important part:

U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.

Sanctions related to support of terrorism will remain in place.

Israel is unhappy, but Israel will be unhappy with just about any deal. The GOP and many Congressional Democrats are objecting, but they’ll object to almost any deal. Obviously a better deal would eliminate their nuclear facilities completely. But Ed Krayewski makes a good point:

That’s the reality a lot of critics of the Iran deal don’t want to admit. President Obama even briefly touched on it yesterday—a country won’t do something just because America wants it to. For starters, the country’s political leadership would have to be historically illiterate to even consider it. Following American diktats provide no guarantee of not becoming a target of American ire in the future (i.e. Qaddafi giving up WMDs and then getting regime-changed by the West anyway). Could the U.S. continue sanctions against Iran? Certainly. The Israeli government would appear to consider that a better option. But sanctions aren’t effective at compelling compliance. Cuba’s been the subject of sanctions for more than half a century—neither did the sanctions break the communist regime nor were they even able to accomplish the more limited goal of extracting reimbursements for property seized by the Cuban government. And, most importantly, sanctions rarely hurt the ruling class of a country. The Ayatollahs, the Castros, the Kims, they’re all authoritarians of very different stripes, but none have known hunger or deprivation because of the sanctions their actions may have triggered.

While I agree that our ability to force Iran’s hand is limited, I’d disagree that the sanctions haven’t been a big factor here. Iran is much closer to a democracy than Cuba is and the bad Iranian economy has clearly put the leadership in jeopardy of popular uprising. I don’t think Iran would be at the table at all had it not been for the sanctions. This is good: it indicates a sliver of pragmatism laced within the fundamentalist dipshittery that infests Iran’s leaders.

As always, the devil is in the details. We’ll see how the final deal looks and how the inspections go down. But so far … this doesn’t look half bad … if the inspections and the conditional nature of withdrawing sanctions are as strong as the State Department is claiming.

No Pizza For You

Indiana has suddenly become the latest front in the Culture War. As noted by Xetrov below, Indiana passed a Religious Freedom Act similar to the federal RFRA. However, the association of several rabid anti-gay activists with the bill has raised concerns that it will allow discrimination against gays (even though no RFRA in the country does that). Pence wants to clarify this in the bill. In a reasonable world, that clarification would pass and we’d move on.

But what’s the use of being reasonable? Tarring and feathering some poor sap is just so much more fun:

Someone please tell me if my progression here is inaccurate in any way:

1) Family owners of small-town Indiana pizzeria spend zero time or energy commenting on gay issues.

2) TV reporter from South Bend walks inside the pizzeria to ask the owners what they think of the controversial Religious Restoration Freedom Act. Owner Crystal O’Connor responds, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no….We are a Christian establishment.” O’Connor also says—actually promises is the characterization here—that the establishment will continue to serve any gay or non-Christian person that walks through their door.

3) The Internet explodes with insults directed at the O’Connor family and its business, including a high school girls golf coach in Indiana who tweets “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?” Many of the enraged critics assert, inaccurately, that Memories Pizza discriminates against gay customers.

4) In the face of the backlash, the O’Connors close the pizzeria temporarily, and say they may never reopen, and in fact might leave the state. “I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it’s safe to reopen,” Crystal O’Connor tells The Blaze. “I’m just a little guy who had a little business that I probably don’t have anymore,” Kevin O’Connor tells the L.A. Times.

Yelp has been working overtime to delete shrieking negative reviews of the place. Conservatives have responded with a GoFundMe campaign that has, at present, raised over $100,000 to help out the pizzeria owners.

This is insane. All the owners of this establishment did was answer a reporter’s question honestly and they’re suddenly being hounded by the entire Left Wing Echosphere. It reminds me of something Clark wrote over at Popehat (I’ll link when their site is back up). The Culture War is basically over and the Left has won the field. Gays are out of the closet, sodomy laws are dead and gay marriage is legal in 39 states. Birth control is so available that the government will force your employer to buy it and the Republican compromise position is to make it available over the counter. Despite a spate of anti-abortion laws, we still have one of the most liberal abortion regimes on the planet.

And is the Left responding to this with joy and reconciliation? They are not. As Clark put it, they are going around the battlefield shooting the survivors of the losing side. They hounded Brendan Eich out of a job, they’re boycotting the entire state of Indiana and now they’re hounding some poor restaurant owners whose crime was not realizing a reporter was baiting them.

Exit Reid, Enter Schumer

Harry Reid announced his retirement from the Senate last week. You may think this is a step in the right direction. The problem is that the guy likely to replace him is one of my least favorite Senators: Chuck E. Schumer, one of the biggest nannies this side of Michael Bloomberg:

Here’s a list of quickly ginned-up headlines of what our next illustrious Senate leader has been up to over his time in Washington. Add your own in the comments.

U.S. is urged to investigate cereal prices
Chuck Schumer rips e-cigarette makers
Sen. Schumer calls for ban on ubiquitous yoga mat chemical
Chuck Schumer races to extend ban on “undetectable” 3D-printed guns
Senator Charles Schumer Condemns Delicious-Looking Detergent
Schumer wants to ban high-powered green laser pointers
Sen. Charles Schumer Calls for a Ban on Powdered Alcohol
Schumer calls on FDA to ban powdered caffeine
Schumer Calls for Ban on Alcoholic Energy Drinks
Schumer Pushes to Shut Down Online Drug Marketplace
Senator Schumer Says Bitcoin Is Money Laundering
Charles Schumer wants federal probe into airline fare prices
Chuck Schumer Takes On The FAA Over Drone Rules
High-Frequency Trading Faces Challenge from Schumer
Fast-Food Bread a Concern, Schumer Calls for a Ban
Chuck Schumer: No Four Loko for You, New York
Senator Calls for 25 to Life [Video Game] Ban
Schumer wants to ban home-made bombs
Sen. Schumer wants to ban internationally produced Olympics uniforms
Senators Call For An End To Payday Lending By Banks
Chuck Schumer Engineers USDA Greek Yogurt Subsidy
Sen. Chuck Schumer to introduce bill 10 banning flame retardants from kids’ products
Sen. Schumer: Ban Cadmium in Kids’ Jewelry

All kidding aside, as a country we have a lot to be thankful for, a lot to be proud of, and a lot to be ashamed of.

And we have even more to be embarrassed by. Which brings us back to Chuck Schumer, our next Senate Minority Leader and a demonstrated foe of just about every possible innovation or reality that for whatever furshlugginer reason drives a bug up his ass. Including that time he called a flight attendant “a bitch” because she was enforcing a cell phone ban that I’m sure he’s totally in favor of for everyone else.

If we have become an increasingly trivial country incapable of dealing with serious issues at all, much less in a rational and deliberate way, then we’ve really found our guy.

I would add something else. Chuck Schumer fights for average Americans … unless they happen to be religious nuts. During the Senate hearings on the Waco disaster, his behavior was appalling, constantly saying that the government did nothing wrong and delving into the behavior of the Davidians instead of the disastrous tactics authorized by Janet Reno. If you watch video of him during the hearings and know anything about what happened at Waco, it’s infuriating.

I’ve never liked Harry Reid. But I wouldn’t vote for Chuck Schumer for prom queen.

Surviving the New Cold War

As you have probably heard, Yemen has collapsed into chaos. The President we were backing had fled the country and Iran-backed Shia rebels appear to be establishing control. Saudi Arabia is intervening and it looks like Egypt may get involved as well.

All this is a sign of Obama’s failed foreign policy according to … holy crap … Vox?:

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