Being Clear on Religious Liberty

Indiana passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which is fundamentally the same as the federal RFRA and the RFRA’s in force in 19 other States – and liberals went ballistic. Given the rapidity with which the outrage spread, I can only presume that it was all orchestrated – liberals, at any rate, not being given to doing anything until they are so ordered by the liberal leadership (no liberal wants to get out in front just in case the Party Line turns out to be different from personal opinion). As to why it was orchestrated – I figure that the left is trying to gin up its base for 2016 and this is just the start of it, and as Democrats have zero chance of winning Indiana in 2016, it makes the perfect target for liberal slander and hatred. Expect more and more of this sort of manufactured outrage as time goes on – Hillary’s only chance (other than the GOP nominating Jeb) being people upset over nothing rather than paying attention to what is happening.

Still, there is an actual issue here. Liberals are attempting to frame it as a replay of Jim Crow – the RFRA, it is alleged, will allow a “straights only” lunch counter and this will be a horrific violation of homosexual rights. The truth, of course, is completely different. The purpose of RFRA is not to harm anyone, but to protect the rights of a minority – in this case, a religious minority (orthodox Christians). Jim Crow was different – that was laws which required the treatment of non-whites as second class citizens by all and sundry. RFRA is just a way out if someone tries to get someone to do something in violation of their deeply held religious beliefs. It would not allow me, if I were a baker, to refuse to serve homosexual customers – it does excuse me from participating in a same-sex wedding by making the cake which will be consumed at that wedding. If I were a baker – and being that I am Catholic – you could get just about anything you want form me…but you couldn’t get a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. There are other sorts of confections you couldn’t get from me, as well…I probably would not want to bake a cake which, say, proclaimed some dogma of Christian Science. You just want a cake – you got it; you want a cake which requires me to sin: it ain’t happening.

And that is all RFRA does – it allows me to not do something for you. If I am not doing something for you then I am also not doing anything to you. I am not violating your rights by not providing a service. In fact, if you were able to compel me to do something for you, then not only would you likely be violating my religious beliefs, but you’d also be forcing me into involuntary servitude…and slavery is explicitly prohibited in our Constitution.

I would never dream of asking someone to do something against their conscience. I’d never ask a pacifist to serve in the army. I’d never ask a Jew to provide me a ham sandwich. I’d never ask a Muslim to sell me some wine. It is just plain and simple courtesy that I do this – it would be the height of arrogant oppression if I were to demand that everyone do for me as I wish. We do live in a pluralist society – in the United States there really are all kinds of people and the only way such a society works is if everyone respects everyone else. Doing it any other way just leads to anarchy, oppression, a disintegration of the ties that bind and a risk of complete societal breakdown.

Live and let live – wise words to live by.

Scandal-Plagued Harry Reid is Retiring!

Many of us have been waiting a long time for this to happen… Today it was announced that Senator Harry Reid will not seek reelection!

Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.

Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections.

What the New York Times article fails to mention is that Harry Reid has been implicated in a number of scandals recently, including a bribery scandal out of Utah, a “green energy” subsidy scandal, and the EB-5 Visa scandal. Of course, Harry Reid has a long history of corruption, which you can read about in our short ebook, The Audacity of Harry Reid.

Reid’s departure from the Senate also makes his seat a potential Republican pickup.

Welcome to the Nuclear-Armed World

The basics of the world since the end of the Second World War – a few Great Powers with nuclear weapons counter-balancing each other while no major wars were allowed to get out of hand by the international community – is gone. The last few bits of it are being interred by Obama – his failed policies in general are doing it, but midwifing Iran’s nuclear program is the nail in the coffin.

I did a quick look around at Saudi Arabia’s military today and I noticed that some years ago, Saudi Arabia purchased some nuclear-capable medium-range ballistic missiles from China. They are of an old design, to be sure, but from all appearances, they’d work just fine – and they put all of Iran within range. And given the Saudi bank account, there is no telling what sorts of upgrades they’ve been able to purchase for the missiles. Meanwhile, there are rumors that Saudi Arabia has either already purchased some nuclear warheads or has an option to buy them from Pakistan, which got at least part of its nuclear research funding from Saudi Arabia. If Ikea had a nuke-mart, then Saudi Arabia has been shopping there – and all they have to do is insert tab B into slot A, and its all done. They’ll be a nuclear power probably within a very short time of Iran becoming one…if not sooner. And it appears that Saudi Arabia is in the market for some German submarines…the very same very high quality submarines Germany sold to Israel, and which are likely capable of being armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

Welcome to the new world, boys and girls – a world where regional powers are arming to the teeth and readying themselves for war because other regional powers are arming to the teeth and have aggressive intentions. How long before Poland decides it needs some nukes? Japan? The only thing which prevents any nation from getting them is money – do they have enough to buy the technology? Most nations do. Ready for a jittery, 30 year period where nuclear blackmail is considered part of the armory of diplomacy? It isn’t going to be pretty – and while one can’t entirely blame Obama for this, his eagerness to strike a deal with Iran is letting the genie out of the bottle for good.

Attacking Big Corporation as a GOP Campaign Issue

See? It’s not just me any more – Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) weighs in on how the GOP can leverage a bit of anti-corporatism for electoral victory:

…the fact is that many big businesses are unpopular with the public, aligned with the Democrats, and wide open for attack. And after eight years of the Obama administration’s naked cronyism and support of Wall Street even as the middle class has suffered, the opportunities are there.

One of the most appealing targets would be the tech industry’s wage-suppressing hiring habits. Not only have tech giants like Apple and Google engaged in what a federal court called an “overarching conspiracy” to prevent wage competition, but Silicon Valley firms also abuse H-1B visas to bring in immigrant competition at lower wages, a practice that’s now spreading to other industries. (In Los Angeles, Southern California Edison is firing workers and replacing them with immigrants now)…

Reynolds goes on to note how big corporations – especially big tech – are abusing the H1-B visa program to get rid of well-paid American workers and bring in low-paid foreigners, thus abusing both Americans and foreigners in the name of increased corporate profits. That is just one in a very long line of issues where Big Corporation is working against the United States. We on the GOP side have got to wrap our minds around the fact that big anything is bad. Once a concentration of power and wealth exceeds a certain size, it becomes baleful…and must be controlled carefully, lest is wreck everything. We understand this regarding things like the Department of Education, but we’ve failed to understand that General Motors is just like the Department of Education…an bureaucratic behemoth most interested in using raw, political power to preserve itself.

It is the free market we must defend – not those who are on top of the market and who are abusing their position. That the leaders of these corporations also largely support Democrats (or are at least de-facto liberals), just makes attacking them doubly advantageous for us. It becomes best of all when we realize that a lot of people who vote liberal (but who are not particularly liberal, themselves) can be moved to vote for us when we do this. Defending the worker against ruthless exploitation by Big Tech is just a splendid way to move the needle in our favor…let Democrats defend the H1-B visa program, we’ll defend the workers.

We have a grand opportunity to take the abysmal failure of the Obama years and use it to destroy liberalism as a political force forever. All we have to do is dare to take it.

Obama’s Diplomacy in a Void

There are two reasons you engage in international diplomacy:

1. You both want roughly the same thing, but there are some thorny issues involved which must be addressed before either of you can get it. Trade agreements and alliances against a third party are this sort of diplomacy.

2. You and the other guy want diametrically opposed outcomes and you’re both trying to force the other to climb down, with a risk of war ever present. This sort of thing comes up when two nations with a great deal of enmity are getting at loggerheads.

The first example is mostly harmless in that success doesn’t lead to universal peace and brotherhood, but failure also doesn’t come with much cost. It would be the rarest of rare birds if, say, a negotiation over a trade deal resulted in war breaking out between the two parties because they couldn’t come to an agreement on tariffs. On the other hand, the second form of diplomacy is fraught with danger because the whole point of negotiating is to try to prevent a war – both sides want something the other side cannot agree to. In negotiating, what they are really doing is trying to answer the question, “are you willing to fight over it?”.

In the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War in 1877, Russia – victorious – was in a mood to just do as she wished with Turkish possessions…which then ranged deep into the Balkans of Europe and which were of great concern to other major powers. When Russia’s plans for prostrate Turkey became known, Britain, especially, let it be known that Russia’s plans were unacceptable and if not modified, war would result. The Germans, under Bismarck, held a conference of all interested parties in Berlin and to Bismarck fell the task of finding out if the British answer to the question was really, “yes”. Bismarck went at it for quite a long time against the British Prime Minister, Disraeli, trying to get out of him a “no”. At the end of it, Britain’s position was crystal clear and Bismarck, who was trusted by the Russians, let them know that if they persisted, they’d have a war with Britain, with incalculable risks that other nations would become involved. Russia, having got her “yes” from Britain, answered her “no” in reply…Russia didn’t want a war with Britain. They weren’t willing to fight over it. War was averted (well, strictly speaking, it was delayed…until 1914 when Russia started fishing in those same troubled waters…but, still, peace was achieved in the 1870’s which endured for decades). That is the sort of diplomacy we’re really thinking of when we think “diplomacy”.

Our liberals use the word diplomacy quite a lot – in fact, it is their magic talisman against all threats. All you gotta do is get some diplomacy going and everything can be made right. But what liberals don’t understand – refuse to understand – is that in the great international crisis, the question remains as always: are you willing to fight about it? If you are not willing to fight about it, then you will not get what you want. The other side, once sure you won’t fight, will just grab what they demanded – and then probably demand even more, just to see how far you can be pushed until the answer becomes “yes”, with the risk that they’ll miscalculate your weakness and thus provoke a war (this was Hitler’s problem in 1939 – he thought that after Munich he could take Poland without Britain fighting…he miscalculated…there was a lot of surrender in Neville Chamberlain, but not complete national abasement). In Obama’s Iran negotiations, what we are seeing are the results of one side thinking that negotiations are the end rather than the means – and they are viewed as an end, in themselves, because a person like Obama is fundamentally incapable of envisioning war resulting from failure.

Obama is going to get his agreement with Iran – which will be of no real value, because all Obama wants is the “agreement”…something on paper which says that peace and amity are secured. What actually happens is irrelevant – the agreement is all. This is diplomacy in a void – mere sound and fury, signifying nothing. I’ve watched a few MSM reports of late – forgive me for wasting my time – and they’re all, “there is only a few days left until the deadline”. Deadline? Deadline for what? Suppose we pass it – are we going to go to war? No. Impose new sanctions? No. Stop negotiating? No. We’ll just set a new deadline. Because we have to get an agreement – and, in fact, the current deadline, given Obama, means the pressure is on us. As we won’t do anything if the deadline is passed, it is up to us to get something on paper before the deadline arrives. The Iranians know this full well – and are taking advantage of it (their demand that all sanctions be lifted is a, “we know you won’t do anything, so give us all we want” ploy). At the end of the day, it would have been better all around if Obama had just unilaterally terminated the sanctions and entered into no negotiations, at all. Our overall position would be stronger – we could still, in theory, have a military option on the table, even if only as a wink and a nod to Israel, should they decide to strike. Now there is no military option, rumors that we’ve agreed to prevent even an Israeli strike, and an upcoming agreement which will commit us to removing sanctions without stopping Iran’s nuclear program. Obama is essentially going to make the United States the guarantor of Iran’s nuclear program – protected until fruition by an “agreement”…and once complete, impossible to reverse because you can’t ever force a nation to give up nuclear weapons.

My view is that Obama doesn’t understand this – he has shown over time that he understands very little about how the world works. Combine this with a set of liberals in his Administration who are likely convinced that Iran is only an enemy because of bad American actions, and you’ve got the impetus for one of the most astoundingly stupid foreign policy programs in human history. Obama is going to redeem Neville Chamberlain – after Obama gets done with Iran, people will be able to look back and say, “well, at least Chamberlain didn’t actually arm the Germans”.

How this mess is to be cleaned up remains to be seen – if Iran tests a nuclear weapon before 1/20/17, there will be no way for us to really do anything. We’ll just have to wait for the inevitable Iranian collapse – their fertility rate is below replacement level and corrupt, dictatorial governments are really never too long for this world. The USSR showed probably the maximum length of time such a thing can endure before it implodes. But this could mean several decades of a nuclear-armed Iran causing massive trouble around the world. If Iran doesn’t get a nuke before Obama leaves office, then the next President will have to make stopping Iran the first priority of foreign policy – and we’d better be loud and clear that our answer is “yes” to the question, or we’ll just be wasting our time.

The Conservative Circular Firing Squad

Scott Walker hired Liz Mair to be a communications outreach staffer – and while I can’t say that I know Ms. Mair (we are Facebook friends and have met some years back – I think at CPAC in 2007), everyone who knows her says she’d be splendid in the position. I have no doubt that this is true. As it turns out, however, Ms. Mair had to very swiftly leave the Walker campaign – from what I’ve read, she’s made some disparaging remarks about the whole Iowa caucus system and that caused a ruckus. On the other hand, Erick Erickson over at Red State is holding that Christian conservatives went after her because of her liberal stance on some social issues. In the end, it was probably more the latter than the former – making fun of Iowa is almost a political standard…but being socially liberal is much more problematic.

The other day Ms. Mair took a break from her Lenten fast from Facebook to post the following:

I’m breaking my rule against no social media during Lent to share that I’m a little bit proud and excited that my name is on this amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court.

The amicus brief in question was in support of legalization of same-sex marriage. By judicial fiat. Votes of the people be damned.

To this post, I responded with words to the effect of, “so, by doing this what, exactly, are we conservatives supposed to be conserving?”. My comment isn’t there – so perhaps I forgot to post it. No matter. The main thing is that I find it astonishing that conservatives – of any stripe – do this sort of thing. Same-sex marriage is not just a stand-alone thing. It is not something that once done will be over and done with. It is not, no matter how much one might want to believe, merely a matter of whether or not the privilege of marriage shall be extended to same-sex couples. It is just another tool in the liberal armory. Liberals have many tools – and this one is to be used to further break down the traditional family but even more important, to the left, to attack Christianity. For a conservative to support the imposition of same-sex marriage (especially via judicial fiat!) is to be working for the destruction of conservatism. In theory same-sex marriage might be within the tolerable eccentricities of mankind – it might be something, that is, that a broadly tolerant and reasonable Republic allows to happen…but we are not living in broadly tolerant and reasonable Republic. We are living in the tail-end of a Republic which is mere steps away from becoming a Third World banana republic.

If we just give the left this, then they will use it – and they’ll use it against Christians. It is already being so used in Europe…and if you think liberals will actually care about the 1st Amendment, you’re nuts. Heck, if you’re even of the opinion that when push comes to shove that the Supreme Court will protect the 1st Amendment rights of Christians, you’re still nuts…suppose it happens? Ok. So the Court carves out an exception which allows Christian churches to not perform same-sex marriages…but that would only be after a massive, lengthy and expensive legal fight against the left. And, meanwhile, anyone who can’t afford such a battle just retreats into silence…including political silence. I don’t know how our more libertarian minded conservatives expect to survive when we more socially minded conservatives are forced into the political wilderness.

I’m sure Ms. Mair is sincere about it. Fine. A thousand points for adherence to personal conviction – but minus a million for lack of political sense. We are in a crisis in this nation and the very survival of the United States is the stakes we play for over the next 10 to 15 years. To be sure, she’s just one person who got caught up in the political meat grinder – and she seems a tough enough person to go through it without too much trouble. I’m sorry it happened to her – I wish we had a Republic where tolerance was the order of the day. But we don’t. Liberals forbid tolerance – they are out to destroy us, social and libertarian conservatives, alike. It is time to firmly choose a side – time for all of us on the right to cease the circular firing squad and keep our eye on the ball. We can’t work across the aisle. We can’t generate an alliance to advance one liberal thing and expect to follow up by advancing a conservative thing. For goodness sakes, people: do any of you on the right backing same-sex marriage think that liberals will now come to you to help advance school choice? Go ask your liberal allies about it. See if they are willing.

It is all or nothing – either we go all one way, or we’ll go all the other way. The left has set up the battle just like that – and giving them concessions is akin to surrendering a hill top wherein they now dominate our lines of supply. Every issue has to be taken in consideration to its position in the overall battle. Will an action help or hinder the advance of the overall right? If it will, then do it – if not, then put it aside and concentrate on some other aspect of your agenda which will.

You Can’t Have a Conversation With Lunatics

I’m not a fan of coffee. When camping I might have a cup, but the only time I drank it on anything like a regular basis was when I was in the Navy and it was the only caffeine readily available on the mid-watch (midnight for 4 am for you lubbers). So, when Starbucks announced they wanted their servers (I know they go by another name – but I refuse to call a server a fancy name – its like calling garbage men “sanitation engineers”; all work, if done for the Lord, is good…tacking a fancy name on it means you hate the job and have self-esteem issues) initiate a conversation on race with you after you dropped a fiver for a cup of Joe, I just didn’t care. But, my goodness, it turned out the idea was weapons-grade stupid.

Social media rather exploded – and things got so hot that the CEO of Starbucks actually deleted his Twitter account. He found, of course, that liberals were nasty and mean. This was not what he expected. The expectation was probably that Starbucks would get kudos from all and sundry, with everyone in the “conversation” proclaiming love and tolerance. Well, it doesn’t work that way – because modern liberalism is about hatred and intolerance.

I do realize why the CEO got it wrong – the upper class liberals he hangs out with are probably of the opinion that if we could just have a conversation about race then we bitter clingers in flyover country would finally stop being nasty racists and start to love President Obama, just as all good liberals do. We can rely on it that our principled opposition to Obama is not considered anything of the sort – we’re just junior-league Klansmen who hate Obama because he’s black…that is what has been endlessly drilled into the liberal mind; and it was especially drilled in during the 2012 campaign as Obama had no positive achievements to justify a second term. What the CEO was unaware of is that if you are using race-hatred to gin up electoral support for Obama on voting day, then what you actually get is a lot of people deeply infused with race-hatred. And that hatred will be directed at anyone who happens along who is white – even a white liberal who thinks he’s being helpful. We’re well past any point we can have a conversation on race in this country because liberals have arrived at the point where white people must (a) admit they are evil and (b) atone for their evil by grovelling. Somewhere out there in the Twitterverse is the opinion that even if your parents died at Auschwitz, you still have race-privilege you cracker bastard. This is the level of “discussion” on race – and the CEO of Starbucks just found this out.

The truth is, of course, that we can’t converse with liberals on anything – liberals have become so divorced from reality that conversation is impossible. And, indeed, liberals these days don’t really want a conversation. They want a surrender. Unless you are prepared to strike your colors (which, now that I think about it, may be considered by liberals to be a racist statement), there’s just nothing to be said. So, forget about conversation – lets just work on beating them electorally into the ground so we don’t have to deal with them any longer.