Religious Freedom in Indiana

Perhaps you’ve heard about all of the hullabaloo going on in Indiana over a new law that the Governor there signed this past week.  Now Celebrities and National Politicians are getting involved.  Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer’s Twitter Page has been quite active in retweeting condemnations of the new law.  Presumptive Democratic Front Runner Hillary Clinton had this to say:

Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love.

 Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus, and many other celebrities are being quite vocal in their condemnation of this new law.  Even the Indiana Pacers felt it necessary to have a press release on the new law.  And now companies are getting involved.  Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been very adamant over his condemnation, and has started calls for boycotting Indiana over this new law.  Leadership in other companies including Apple, and Yelp are also putting in their two cents. condemning the law as discriminatory.

So what’s the  problem with all of these people coming out against this new law?  Well, hypocrisy of course.

First off, I would be willing to bet quite a bit of money that none of the people I mentioned above have actually read the new law.  You can read the entire law here.  The part that people appear to be having a problem with is this text:

Government may burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person —

(1) furthers a compelling governmental interest; and

(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Oops.  I’m sorry.  That is part of the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law back in 1993.  Here’s the text from the Indiana law:

A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Seems almost identical.  In fact, the Indiana law is largely based on the Federal law.  Yet many people are being vocal about the Indiana law, but mum about the Federal Law.  I ask – why?

Do you remember the aforementioned esteemed Senator Schumer from New York who does not like the Indiana law?  It turns out that he was actually the main sponsor of the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act back in 1993, which passed both houses with almost unanimous majorities.  And Hillary Clinton?  Her husband, President Bill Clinton at the time, signed the bill into law and was very supportive of it (you can see a lovely picture of him signing it, with Senator Schumer looking over his shoulder at the link).

What this law basically says is that the Government should be held to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion. This judgment is shared by the people of the United States as well as by the Congress. We believe strongly that we can never, we can never be too vigilant in this work.

It was signed specifically to protect Religious Freedom from Government intervention.  Which is exactly why the Indiana law was passed.  But Hillary didn’t just support her Husband and this 1993 law (which she does in her book, “It Takes a Village”).  In 2005 as Senator Clinton, she supported the “Workplace Religious Freedom Act.” which was co-sponsored by amazingly unlikely allies John Kerry, and Rick Santorum.  It was designed to protect the religious freedoms of employees from employers, but has yet to be passed into law.  So why is she against the Indiana Law again?

Legally there is virtually no difference between the Federal Law and Indiana’s law except that it applies specifically to that State and its government instead of the /Federal Government.  And Indiana isn’t alone in this type of law.  19 other states already have RFRA laws on the books, all based on the Federal law.  Why is nobody calling for boycotts on those other states?

So why shouldn’t CEO’s of companies like Salesforce, and Apple condemn the Indiana law, and call for boycotts?  They do billions of dollars of business in China.  China, which is not only a religious freedom nightmare, but it is also a place where there are no laws protecting against homosexual discrimination, that does not recognize gay marriage, civil unions or anything close to it, and where it is illegal for homosexual couples to adopt.

Whether or not you support the law, I guess all I’m saying is that these people and organizations need to think before they open their mouths.

They Lie Because They Can

I am Hal’s total lack of surprise:

Hillary Clinton permanently deleted all the emails on the private server she used to do official business as secretary of state, the Republican lawmaker who subpoenaed the emails said late Friday.

Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, chairman of the House committee investigating the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, said Clinton’s lawyer informed him of the news.

“Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server,” Gowdy said in a statement.

Gowdy had also asked that Clinton turn over her server to the State Department inspector general for an independent review.

Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, said no.

Clinton has turned over some hard copies of e-mails. But she apparently had the server wiped when the State Department asked her to turn her e-mails over to them.

I know this is a complete non-scandal that I’m only bringing up because I’m a misogynist dinosaur who can’t stand the idea of a woman being President. But, as Conor reminds us, the Clintons and their acolytes have a long history of this, from Sandy Berger smuggling classified information out of the 9/11 investigation to her law firm billing records. This is what the Clintons do: they lie, they cover-up, they conceal, they obfuscate and then they blame everyone else. It’s a game to them. They lie about things that they have no need whatsoever to lie about. It’s almost as if they get off on lying.

And they do it also because they get away with it. No matter how many untruths they hurl about, there are never any consequences. No charges will come from this incident. It is unlikely to hurt Clinton at the polls. The MSM is doing their damndest to ignore it, having to be goaded into even asking softball questions about it.

This is why I have said that I am dreading blogging the 2016 election. The Democrats seem to have unanimously decided that Clinton is the nominee. And the press doesn’t seem interested in peeking behind the curtain. So 2016 is likely to unfold exactly this way: Clinton is found to have done something wrong, the press ignores it and it doesn’t hurt her inevitable ascent.

Look, I have a grudging respect for Clinton as Secretary of State. The disaster that has unfolded since Kerry took over tells me that Clinton must have been better than I thought to keep this gang of idiots from starting from World War III. At least she kept us from fighting with and against Iran at the same time.

But I’m tired of the Clintons. I’m utterly sick of the sight of them. They have been in politics since 1977. They have been in national politics since 1992. We’ve had them in our faces for almost a quarter of a century. Enough. I’d vote for Elizabeth Warren before I’d vote for another chapter or two of the Clinton Chronicles. We don’t need a campaign full of this kind of garbage. And we certainly don’t need four or, God help us, eight years of scandal.

Please, Republicans, get it together. We do not need this.

Hollywood Gets It Wrong Again

The world is an absolute mess; the ME on fire in some part due to Obama’s retreat, Iran getting a guarantee on its nuclear development as long as it is in a secret underground facility with no meddling allowed by Israel, and Iran solidifying a Persian Empire with take overs of Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, all the while pulling Obama’s chain with meaningless executive nuclear agreements, but this post is about none of that.

Periodically I look at alternatives to cable, what’s out there to fill my TV needs so I can 86 my cable provider. Live events, the ability to DVR, and my eclectic tastes always bring me back. One channel that I can’t part with is TCM. Sports, movies, and Foxnews, what else is there to watch? Maybe some netflix originals, more on that in a minute. I have always liked old movies and a unique feature of old movies is that everyone smoked. Hollywood had everyone smoking because they thought they were trailblazers, they thought smoking was admirable, that the folks would think these actors were cool and would want to watch them, but mostly they connected smoking with glamour, they were wrong.

Today smoking is out, profanity is in, they are still getting it wrong. Lately, in between March Madness Games (teaser, more on that in a bit) I have been watching the new Netflix original series Bloodline, it is really good. Without going in to specifics, it is not about guys in the military, in prison, or in gangs, it is about an ordinary family (with not so ordinary secrets) and yet every 4th word out of their mouths (all mouths, kids included) is f bombs. Not even through the first episode the smoking similarity was obvious. Does Hollywood think that ordinary folks talk like this or that ordinary folks watching this will think dialogue like this is cool or emblematic in some way? Yes, it is a minor irritant, and detracts little from the stellar quality, but why do they do it?

I don’t think I live a pampered sheltered life, but the only time that I ever hear f bombs or profanity in general is on TV, I never (hardly ever) come across it in real life. I am out and about every day interacting with my fellow earth dwellers, is Hollywood the only place where folks swear like sailors on a regular basis? Even in the blogosphere or this site for instance, writers manage to go whole paragraphs without it, why can’t Hollywood write 3 lines without any f bombs? Is it me? I predict that, just like the smoking prevalence of the old movies, when future generations looks at our current entertainment fare, quizzical expressions and scratching of heads will result when they analyze the apparent appeal of lazy speech.

In the event this post garners no interest, I admitted it was a personal pet peeve, I will hijack my own post, and ask the most important question; Can Kentucky be beaten?

Bergdahl To Be Charged

Well, knock me over with a feather:

On Wednesday, the Army announced that it was charging Sergeant Bergdahl with misbehavior before the enemy and desertion, raising the possibility that he could be imprisoned again, this time for life.

In announcing the charges against Sergeant Bergdahl, the military reignited the political firestorm that took place last summer after the sergeant was released in a swap for five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

For President Obama, it reopens the contentious political question of whether the United States should have agreed to the exchange. Administration officials have steadfastly maintained that even if Sergeant Berdahl did voluntarily walk off his remote base in Afghanistan, it was the duty of the United States to take all appropriate steps to free him.

The president’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, was harshly criticized when she said last summer that Sergeant Bergdahl had served “with honor and distinction” at the same time that his former platoon members were appearing on television accusing him of deliberately leaving the base, an act that they said put in danger the lives of the American military members who searched for him.

Sergeant Bergdahl is charged with misbehavior before the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison, and with desertion, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. He could also face a dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of the pay he was owed while in captivity if he is tried and convicted, Army officials said during a news conference in Fort Bragg, N.C.

A few things to unpack here:

First, getting Bergdahl back was justified. We don’t leave men behind and the idea, currently promulgating in liberal circles, that Republicans would rather he have been left to rot, is garbage. The criticism that Obama faced was for the way this went down — releasing five Taliban detainees in exchange for Bergdahl, not informing Congress of the deal, trying to pretend that Bergdahl served with honor and, in the case of one Administration official, branding his accusers as psychopaths.

Second, it’s amazing to watch the pretzels the sufferers of Obama Defense Derangement Syndrome are twisting themselves into. When Bergdahl was first released and the criticisms of his conduct emerged, the Left took the “how dare you!” narrative. When he was returned to active duty, they pilloried Republicans for having had the temerity to have questioned his honor. Republican criticism of the deal was labelled as placing party above country (even though many Democrats agreed that Obama broke the law in brokering the deal). Now that he’s been charged, we’re back to, “we don’t leave a man behind.”

Berdahl is innocent until proven guilty, obviously. But let’s not pretend the Republicans are the only ones who used his release as a political football. And let’s not pretend that this was a great deal. As David Burge noted on Twitter the other day, it’s becoming clear that this Administration couldn’t negotiate a 99-cent deal with a dollar store.

Cruz Is In, Why Should We Care?

Here’s the deal, I like Ted Cruz, personally, he is more like me than Obama. His conservative credentials are stellar, he is a government/spending reduction guy, big on national defense who (seemingly) understands the radical Islamist threat, understands that the world is a dangerous place made more dangerous by a limped dick American foreign presence, who genuinely believes in that “shinning city on a hill” image (not the imperialist America that causes more problems than it solves image of Obama) and who actually believes in The Constitution. Okay so far. And just yesterday he announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race. So why am I nonplussed by the whole affair?

Over at Hot Air there is a piece titled “9 Reasons Ted Cruz Is Exactly Like Barack Obama”. The author denies that he is trolling us, with the last sentence in the article, he exposes himself as exactly that. But the similarities are interesting.

Much has been made about how Cruz, Paul, and Rubio will have to answer the question of why Obama was considered inexperienced as a 1 term Senator, when each of them are similarly lacking. This criticism is valid, to a point. Clearly Obama’s problem is that he is Obama, would 8 years as a Senator change that? Would a couple of terms as governor of Illinois change his history of indoctrination, his America bad/fleece the rich/more government is always the answer/Constitution? We don’t need no stinking Constitution attitudes? Once a Marxist, always a Marxist, no matter how much time he served at the public trough.

But I still don’t like it, a one term Senator that has not done jack shit except vote “present” does not inspire confidence, not Obama and certainly not any of these 3. Could they make a good president? Sure, given the right moral grounding, the right understanding of where his loyalties (with the people, not his own aggrandizement) should be, the right understanding of his actual duties (and limitations) that The Constitution spells out, and with the right experts surrounding him providing advice and counsel.

Much will be made about Cruz’s religious convictions? That in itself is not a problem for me. Bush the younger was equally religious, his problem was not his faith but his spending policies. Cruz will suffer because his socially conservative views (no gay marriage, no abortion-ever, immigration-send them all back where they came from) appeal to a smaller audience. I like the fact the he is an AGW skeptic, this too will come up in debates.

Probably the biggest reason for my apathy is that it is so early and we still have 2 more years of Obama agony. No way do I want to go through the endless debates that dragged on for decades (seemingly). That and a little voice in the back of my head that admits that the dems are sneakier, more polished, more corrupt, more willing to bring a gun to a knife fight. Any GOP candidate will be at a disadvantage, in contrast not only with the lying MSM, but with the uninformed voter.

At this point I think that Cruz is unelectable, but am willing to listen to a counter argument, any takers?

Generation Eggshell

Judith Shulevitz has a great article up at the NYT about how our colleges and universities have gone to absurd lengths to coddle students’ delicate psyches.

KATHERINE BYRON, a senior at Brown University and a member of its Sexual Assault Task Force, considers it her duty to make Brown a safe place for rape victims, free from anything that might prompt memories of trauma.

So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of feministing.com, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. “Bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experiences,” she told me. It could be “damaging.”

Ms. Byron and some fellow task force members secured a meeting with administrators. Not long after, Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, announced that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” Meanwhile, student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.

The “safe space” was basically a toddler room:

The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.

You really should really the whole thing. It gets into the increasing culture of creating “safe spaces” where students can be sheltered from ideas that might challenge their beliefs or offend them. Only some ideas, of course. If a Muslim student complained that miniskirts made him uncomfortable or a Christian complained that gays “triggered” him, I doubt they would get much sympathy.

As an academic, I want to make one point: most students aren’t like this. Most of the students I deal with are hard-working rational people who don’t really care about political correctness. The problem is that the whiners — the product of increasing helicopter parenting and schools obsessed with promoting “self-esteem” — have the floor. Moreover, the government is aggressively using Title VIII and IX to push schools into compliance with politically correct agendas. And it’s affecting how our schools operate.

I’m old enough to remember a time when college students objected to providing a platform to certain speakers because they were deemed politically unacceptable. Now students worry whether acts of speech or pieces of writing may put them in emotional peril. Two weeks ago, students at Northwestern University marched to protest an article by Laura Kipnis, a professor in the university’s School of Communication. Professor Kipnis had criticized — O.K., ridiculed — what she called the sexual paranoia pervading campus life

Last fall, the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, apologized for causing students and faculty to be “hurt” when she failed to object to a racial epithet uttered by a fellow panel member at an alumnae event in New York. The offender was the free-speech advocate Wendy Kaminer, who had been arguing against the use of the euphemism “the n-word” when teaching American history or “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In the uproar that followed, the Student Government Association wrote a letter declaring that “if Smith is unsafe for one student, it is unsafe for all students.”

“It’s amazing to me that they can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism,” Ms. Kaminer said in an email.

Professors are guiding their course work away from anything controversial as well. For example, law professors are shying away from discussing rape law, lest they trigger someone. Entire hordes of administrators are hired to make sure everyone is being sensitive and caring (and then student wonder why college costs so much).

So how can we stop this rising Cult of the Victim? Pushback on the campuses themselves is a big part. But another big help would be for the federal government to affirm its supposed commitment to free expression. A complaint that a university is “unsafe” can trigger a potentially damaging federal investigation. In the past, the government has respected free speech but that commitment has weakened in recent years as universities and the government embrace the Left-wing notion that some speech isn’t really speech, but hostile action.

The recent SAE incident was a perfect opportunity for this. The Department of Education could have made it clear that, as students at a public university, the students had free speech rights. But they let that opportunity pass by. And I don’t see this Administration ever standing up the campus politeness police.

The Flip Side

The other day I wrote a post about a spectacularly despicable human being and her parking habits. Thankfully behavior like this shouts ,”Over here” because of it’s stark contrast to that realm of normalcy that most people live in and abide by. The goodness in most folks, or the sheer number of good people in relation to those that are not restores our faith in humanity and makes us proud that “Doing The Right Thing” is a common occurrence. And like the bible verse that commands givers to do so in private (to not call public attention to your “goodness” since God sees all) most “pay it forward” acts are done in secret, without fan fare, and for the betterment of one individual, one piece of humanity.

I saw this this morning, yes, it did brighten my day. Some will hit you right between the eyes. For me, I did pretty good until I got to the Shark’s Fan, then lost it.

Reminders like this helps us two ways. It shows us “But for the grace of God go I”, how lucky and fortunate we all are, but also with that grace, that good luck goes a duty to share our bounty with others. This can take many forms. Although when I see one of those “random acts of kindness and senseless beauty” bumper stickers on a Prius I have to fight off the urge to punch the driver in the nose (this is the SF Bay Area after all, more progs per square mile then any place on earth) I get the sentiment.

The War on Food Continues

Whenever the governments give you money, it comes with government control. To wit:

FROM urban ghettos to declining inner-ring suburbs to destitute rural areas, Americans with little money live in “food deserts” where it is hard to find fresh fruits and vegetables

Stop right there. We’re one sentence in and we’ve already got a problem. Food deserts are a myth. They’ve long been known to be a myth. The writers try to revive this myth with two bizarre measures. One is the number of grocery stores per zip code, which basically means nothing. The population per zip code varies wildly in the United States. My zip code has 40,000 people in it. My uncle’s, living a major city, has 9000. The population of New York City’s zip codes vary by tens of thousands, which is to say nothing of how business zoning varies. This smells like a metric picked for the conclusion. You can contrast it against the study in the link above, which actually looked at 8000 poor children to see how many grocery stores they had in their neighborhoods.

The second number is the amount of shelf space devoted to junk food vs. fresh food. But junk food has more shelf space because 1) they’re including convenience stores, which are supposed to be for a quick grab of something, not grocery shopping; 2) junk food keeps in a way that fresh food doesn’t; and 3) there are four million varieties of soda and chips; most stores carry maybe one or two brands of apples. Moreover, location is important: fresh food shelf space tends to be the first thing you encounter in a store.

Justified by these distortions, they then go on to argue that the food stamp program should be used as a cudgel to force poor people to eat good food:

Food stamps can’t be used to buy cigarettes or alcohol — why not simply add junk food to that ban? In 2011, the Agriculture Department turned down a proposal to restrict the use of food stamps in New York City to buy sugary drinks. Officials said the proposal was too complicated for retailers. But in the background was fierce resistance to the proposal from the beverage industry and its friends in the grocery industry.

The department should give financial incentives to food stamp users to buy healthy food, and should also reconsider its hesitation about restricting the use of food stamps to buy junk food.

They also recommend coercing the stores:

To participate in SNAP, stores must meet certain federal standards. Under the current standards, a store can qualify by stocking a small number of offerings of bread, canned vegetables, meat, milk and cheese, even if they are hidden away in a dusty corner.

The Agriculture Department should simply require that stores that accept food stamps use more of their shelf space — say, a minimum of 20 feet — for healthy foods. And it should set a limit on the use of shelf space for displaying junk food, perhaps with a simple rule of no more space for junk than for fruits and vegetables. This plan would put nutritious food within sight and reach.

They point to some studies that claim this would increase consumption of health foods. Given the junk stats they use on food deserts and their failure to link the aforementioned studies, I will assume that they have misinterpreted these studies. I also say that because the one study they do link to, they misquote. They claim that people consumed more healthy food after WIC implemented a similar requirement for participation. But that study only looks at store inventory, not consumption. It comes to the unsurprising conclusion that when you force stores to stock more healthy food, they stock more healthy food. If you are a behaviorist Nanny Stater who thinks people are empty vessels whose dining habits are controlled by the amount of shelf space devoted to fresh food, the difference between those concept might evade you.

Keep in mind also: there’s a history here. LA tried to ban new fast food stores from low income areas. Obesity actually increased after this. So people in poor areas were denied jobs working in fast food joints to no discernible benefit. Now these clowns want to hit convenience stores and bodegas — often stores run by working poor and operating on the margin — to stock food that no one is going to eat.

And we wonder why poverty remains entrenched.

I always keep in mind what Ta-Nehisi Coates had to say about this (the Atlantic is timing out on me; I’ll update with a link when I can find it). If you’re poor and especially if you are working poor, junk food is one of the few vices you can afford. It’s one of the few that won’t wreck your life in the process (at least not right away). For a couple of well-off liberals to swan in and try to take that away with an ill-advised and ill-informed effort at “public health” is … well … you know the Left talks about privilege? That’s what this is.

And it’s a picnic compared to what’s coming when our government will be giving you “free” healthcare.

(H/T: Thaddeus Russell)

More Than One Way To Punk A Douche

Group question, is anyone really surprised that there are people out there, walking and talking among us, that are so deplorable and vile, so bereft of even a minimal amount of qualification for drawing breath, and so deserving a Jacky Chan style spinning kick to the head, that their very existence is an affront to a loving and just God?

Maybe we should start a new weekly thread ,”Douche-bag of the week”, provided not only for amusement (when is someone going to clean this guy’s clock, today or tomorrow?) but as a reminder that although physical violence is not always the answer (not always, but sometimes) going out of your way to inject embarrassment and misery into the lives of society’s turds can be a noble calling.

This week, exhibit “A”;

No quotes are necessary, you can read the note for yourself.

First off, before we get a rope, it would be nice to know exactly what was in Brady’s initial note. She said it was “stern and confident”, OK, was it also snarky, insulting, and rude? Not condoning the reply, naturally, but often times, snark begats snark. Where was it left, on a broken radio antennae?

Brady should do each of these things;

1) Contact her local police dept. and advise them of the situation, I doubt there is one cop walking that, once apprised of this situation, would not drive through that parking lot 20 times a day while on duty looking for the offending car parked in the handicapped spot. Ticket and tow bill, roughly $400.
2) Take a picture of the offending car (with license plate) and post it on her facebook page, along with the name of the apartment complex and city.
3) Notify the manager of the complex of the problem. He was the one that provided the handicapped parking spot, no doubt he would want to know if other renters are parking there. In the same vain, while interacting with all the other tenants in the building, let them know what is going on. I am big on community shaming, letting all the other tenants know what kind of woman lives next to them in 14c, ahhhh, the possibilities are endless.

The community has her back, she should utilize them.

Tunisia Attack

Here we go again:

At least 17 people — most of them tourists — were killed in an attack Wednesday at the Bardo museum in Tunisia’s capital, Tunisian Prime Minister Habid Essid said.

Two attackers were also killed, while three attackers are at large, according to Essid.

Tunisia hasn’t been as chaotic as Libya but ISIS has been getting a toehold there. I would be surprised if there wasn’t a connection.