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Democratic Senator: Let's Revisit Our Out-Dated Notion of Freedom of Speech
May 30, 2013 Matthew Cochrane


  

In the midst of all the scandals currently surrounding this administration like a flock of buzzards circling a dying a carcass, what I found to be the most fascinating news item from this past weekend was what Senator Dick Durbin let slip out during his interview with Fox News’ anchor Chris Wallace:

Yeah, I mean, don’t you find Constitutional rights like freedom of speech and freedom of the press so 18th century? Let’s get with the times, people! If we just issued press licenses to respectable journalists we wouldn’t have to answer questions from those pesky bloggers!

Of course, once we issue journalism licenses it won’t be long before liberals renew their cry for getting rid of Fox News.

As the honorable Senator from West Virginia makes clear, Congress could just get so much more done if they didn’t have to worry about that awful thing known as political discourse!

No one should be shocked by any of this. This is simply what liberals do. Growing government will inevitably lead to diminishing freedom. Always has, always will. Hence individual rights and freedoms will always stand in the way of the Left’s grand plans to micromanage every aspect of our lives.

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean free speech will be outlawed anytime soon. It just means that if you say something our government overlords don’t like then they might sic the IRS on you. And if you’re a “respectable” member in the media they might tap your phones if you get out of line. But that’s it. So any fears over free speech being outlawed or something radical like that are clearly overblown.

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Sanford Wins Special Election in SC
May 8, 2013 Matthew Cochrane


  

Really South Carolina? Really? Ladies and gentlemen, the newest member of the U.S. House of Representatives is…Congressman Mark Sanford!

In a story of political redemption, Mark Sanford is headed back to Congress after his career was derailed by scandal four years ago.

 

"I am one imperfect man saved by God's grace," the Republican told about 100 cheering supporters Tuesday after defeating Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to win back the 1st District seat he held for three terms in the 1990s. "It's my pledge to all of you going forward I'm going to be one of the best congressmen I could have ever been."

 

Although the race was thought to be close going into the voting, Sanford collected 54 percent of the vote against Colbert Busch, the sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert, in a district that hasn't elected a Democratic congressman in more than three decades. About 32 percent of the district's voters went to the polls. Green Party candidate Eugene Platt finished far behind.

When we last saw Sanford he was introducing one of his sons to his mistress that broke up his marriage at a public rally. Classy.

Seriously, if the district hasn’t elected a Democrat for thirty years why not just sit this election out, let the Democrat win, and take back the district next year with a different GOP candidate? Now we’re stuck with Sanford. Probably for the long haul.

You’re dead to me South Carolina. 

 

Update 1: More from NRO’s Betsy Woodruff:

The cameramen are on risers, but Sanford doesn’t have a stage, so he steps up onto a big industrial kitchen pan that gives him an extra six inches or so, and launches into his acceptance speech. And that’s when I look over and realize that his fiancée, María Belén Chapur, is standing right beside me. She’s wearing a black cocktail dress and heels, and she has bright red nail polish. And she’s beaming.

 

As the rest of Sanford’s speech unfolds, Chapur glows. Sanford tells a story about meeting a woman who works at a convenience store. “I think she was an angel,” he says, and it’s meant to be taken literally.

 

Then he concludes. “I am one imperfect man saved by God’s grace,” he says, “but one who has a conviction on the importance of doing something about spending in Washington, D.C., and it’s my pledge to every one of you here, this day going forward, that I’m going be, try to be, the best congressman that I could have ever been —”

 

The rest is drowned out in applause. I turn to Chapur and start to ask her a question, and she puts her hand on my forearm as soon as I open my mouth.

 

“Thank you so much,” she says in her light accent as a few men begin to usher her away, “but it’s his night.”

 

  

A Small Victory for Religious Liberty
May 7, 2013 Matthew Cochrane


  

A small something to cheer about: The Obama administration has dropped its lawsuit against Tyndale House Publishers, a publisher of Bibles and other Christian materials, for its non-compliance with the sterilization/abortion pill/contraception mandate in Obamacare. From the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the legal group representing Tyndale:

At the government’s own request, a federal appellate court Friday dismissed the Obama administration’s appeal of an order that stopped the president from enforcing his abortion pill mandate against a Bible publisher. The administration’s retreat marks the first total appellate victory on a preliminary injunction in any abortion pill mandate case.

 

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Tyndale House Publishers say the administration is apparently nervous about trying to defend its position that a Bible publisher is not religious enough for a religious exemption to the mandate.

 

“Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The government dismissed its appeal because it knows how ridiculous it sounds arguing that a Bible publisher isn’t religious enough to qualify as a religious employer. For the government to say that a Bible publisher isn’t religious is outrageous, and now the Obama administration has had to retreat in court.”

This mandate represents one of the most controversial and egregious parts of Obamacare and would force employers to cover sterilization procedures, abortifacients (e.g. the morning-after pill), and all forms of contraception to employees as part of their health care coverage regardless of the employer’s religious beliefs. This obviously would go against the conscience of most religious business owners. If employers refuse to comply with the mandate, they are subject to heavy fines that would inevitably lead to any company going out of business. In the case of Tyndale House, the fines would have been $100 per day per employee.

Unfortunately, this is just a small victory. Other Christian schools and businesses run by Christian owners have until August 1st to comply with the mandate or face severe fines. Several other lawsuits are currently moving forward against the mandate; ADF is litigating nine such cases.

Exit note: Expect posting to be light until the NBA playoffs are over. Or, at least, until there are more games like last night’s dud.

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Explaining the Left's Reluctance to Call Out Militant Islam
April 26, 2013 Matthew Cochrane


  

Earlier this week, I wrote about how the mainstream media and the Left (but I repeat myself) will perform linguistic gymnastics and contort into nearly impossible positions to avoid calling a spade a spade in cases of radical Muslim terrorist attacks. The Boston Marathon bombing is merely the latest example, and it is a disturbing trend that dates back to at least the beginning of Obama’s first term.

Indeed, the latest theories in the motivations of the now infamous Tsarnaev brothers (as if there were any doubt) include more of the same. Time Magazine had a piece wondering if Tamerlan Tsarnaev suffered brain damage from his boxing days. The New York Times published a “hard-hitting” analysis of the youngest brother’s tweets suggesting Dzhokhar suffered from “a more Holden Caulfield-like adolescent alienation”. Ah, that’s it. Just some old-fashioned adolescent alienation. Maybe he was bullied at school or hailed from a broken home too.

As if to underline the MSM’s near parodic reluctance to ever highlight militant Islam as a cause for a terrorist attack, comes this story from the Washington Post: A man of Iranian origin slashed a rabbi and his son with a box cutter while screaming “Allahu Akbar!” in Paris. And the WaPo reports officials were still trying to determine a possible motive.

I mean, who knows? The Iranian man wielding a box cutter who viciously attacked a rabbi could have just suffered from a Holden Caulfield-like adolescent alienation. Or maybe he was a former boxer with brain damage. As Ace of Spades deadpans, “Probably Tea Party.

So why is the Left so averse to highlight militant Islam’s role in terrorism attacks?  One of the reasons, I believe, is the whole immigrant-comes-to-America-goes-on-welfare-then-blows-up-stuff narrative is harmful to many of liberals’ sacred cows. At a time when immigration reform is being pushed through Congress and welfare costs are driving America deeper and deeper into disastrous debt, this type of story kills so many precious narratives that Democrats have planted and nourished for years.

The welfare angle seems to have become particularly explosive. After the Washington Post first reported the Tsarnaev brothers had received welfare in the past, the Boston Herald tried to follow-up only to be stonewalled by Governor Patrick.

Yet the far thornier issue, I believe, is multiculturalism, long a cornerstone of liberal ideology. In his book America Alone, Mark Steyn gives a wonderful anecdote to explain how multiculturalism is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. When the British first arrived in India, they were met by the practice of “suttee.” This was the Indian tradition of burning widows along with their husbands’ bodies at said husbands’ funerals. General Sir Charles Napier told the Indians practicing this custom that it was a British tradition to hang men who burned women alive. Napier stated he would allow the Indian carpenters to build their suttee and beside it he would have the British carpenters build the gallows. The tradition of suttee came to an abrupt halt. Steyn writes:

India today is better off without suttee. If you don’t agree with that, if you think that’s just dead-white-male-Eurocentrism, fine. But I don’t think you really do believe that. Non-judgmental multiculturalism is an obvious fraud, and was subliminally accepted on that basis. After all, most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don’t want to live in anything but an advanced Western society. … But if you think you genuinely believe that suttee is just an example of the rich, vibrant tapestry of indigenous cultures, you ought to consider what your pleasant suburb would be like if 25, 30, 48 percent of the people around you really believe in it too. Multiculturalism was conceived by the Western elites not to celebrate all cultures but to deny their own: it is, thus, the real suicide bomb. 

Steyn argues that it is the cultural war between our civilizations, so crucial to overall success, which America is losing so decisively. Sure, America’s pop culture is nearly omnipresent. Britney Spears is an international pop star, Hollywood movies make more money abroad than they do stateside and McDonald’s cheeseburgers are enjoyed around the world. But in the arena of ideas, the culture war that matters most, America is losing.   Steyn writes, “In the end, the world can do without American rap and American cheeseburgers. American ideas on individual liberty, federalism, capitalism, and freedom of speech would be far more helpful.”    

Militant Islam acts as a stinging rebuke to the intellectually-vapid, politically-correct, postmodern, multiculturalism-is-king liberal worldview. This worldview has so corrupted American thought we are even unwilling to muster up enough cultural willpower to call those who would see us blown up while we run marathons our enemies.

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Stating the Obvious: Examining the Boston Bombers' Root Motivation
April 24, 2013 Matthew Cochrane


  

I haven’t yet written about the Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent capture of the terrorist suspects because I just don’t have the time I used to. I can’t blog every day and have to pick and choose carefully which news events to cover. Often I feel I can add value by writing about lesser-covered stories. For instance, when the media world latches onto near 24/7 coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, I feel like I can better serve my readers by staying with the Kermit Gosnell trial.

However, something has been bothering me since the suspects were first identified: Why is the media so reluctant to identify the root problem? As soon as the suspects were identified as Chechnyan, anybody familiar with world events understood the suspects were motivated to commit their dastardly deeds by militant Islamic ideology. Yet the media stumbled over themselves to “not rush to judgment”. Okay, fine. The media has a history of being careful about these things before they…hahaha…sorry I couldn’t say that with a straight face.

Since the suspects were identified, the evidence has only mounted that the Tsarnaev brothers were indeed radical Muslims. Today we learned their mosque had several radical ties:

 

The mosque attended by the two brothers accused in the Boston Marathon double bombing has been associated with other terrorism suspects, has invited radical speakers to a sister mosque in Boston and is affiliated with a Muslim group that critics say nurses grievances that can lead to extremism.

 

Several people who attended the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Mass., have been investigated for Islamic terrorism, including a conviction of the mosque's first president, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, in connection with an assassination plot against a Saudi prince.

 

Its sister mosque in Boston, known as the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, has invited guests who have defended terrorism suspects. A former trustee appears in a series of videos in which he advocates treating gays as criminals, says husbands should sometimes beat their wives and calls on Allah (God) to kill Zionists and Jews, according to Americans for Peace and Tolerance, an interfaith group that has investigated the mosques.

And yet what’s the latest theory being espoused by Time Magazine? Maybe the eldest Tsarnaev brother suffered brain damage from boxing and that’s why he did it!

Perhaps. Look, I have no idea if the years of boxing spent by Tamerlan Tsarnaev left him with brain damage. It’s entirely possible. Yet a lot of people box and a lot of people play football. Not a lot of people blow up innocent strangers during the Boston Marathon. The real problem was Tamerlan’s ideology: militant Islam.

The media’s and the Left’s reluctance to identify radical Muslims as an existential threat is troubling and goes back years. Shortly after Obama took office, Napolitano said she preferred the term “man-caused disaster” to terrorism.

 

In my speech, although I did not use the word "terrorism," I referred to "man-caused" disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.

Three years ago in a Congressional hearing, Attorney General Eric Holder was asked if recent attempted terrorist attacks on U.S. soil (i.e. Fort Hood, the Christmas day pantybomber, and the Times Square bomb scare) were related to radical Islam. Seems like a simple question, right? Here’s the exchange:

As you can see, our Attorney General could not even bring himself to say that, among “the variety of reasons” these attacks were attempted, radical Islam was a factor. It’s not just the politicians from the Left, however, it’s also their pundits and talking heads. Alan Colmes defended Eric Holder’s evasive hemming and hawing by stating “there’s no such thing as radical Islam”:

Unfortunately, it’s not just liberal elites who feel this way. The naiveté reaches far down into the Democrats’ rank-and-file too. Several years ago, a friend and favorite former liberal blogger was refuting a few predictions I had made on my old personal blog at the beginning of 2009. Among my many predictions, I stated, “Islamic terrorists will successfully carry out an attack against a major European or American target.” My friend counted this as wrong.  When he did so, I thought he had simply forgotten about the Fort Hood shootings

To my disbelief, when I reminded him of the shootings, he replied that it wasn’t a terrorist attack. My friend wrote (this site is now defunct but I originally quoted this excerpt in this post three years ago):

 

It's still under investigation right now [Editor’s note: TLM wrote this almost two months after the initial attack].  Yes, he was Muslim, yes, he visited extremist sites and talked with al-Awlaki once by e-mail, but he was also unstable and didn't want to go to war.  I think we give too much power to random psychos if we give them the terrorist label.  I'm willing to give him the nod here if any evidence is found that he was ordered to do this or conspired in anyway.  I won't be surprised if this does come to light, but right now I don't think Fort Hood gives MC the prediction.  He's the same as the guy who blew his family away down here on Thanksgiving except he also had extremist views.  He's just a coward, not a terrorist. 

With all due respect, “the guy who blew his family away down here on Thanksgiving” was completely different. He was a mentally unstable man who was on several medications for anxiety when he decided to kill four of his family members, including his twin sisters and six year old cousin. Religious ideology played no part in his actions. By contrast, in all of the discussed above incidents, the perpetrators and attackers all accredited their actions to the same religious creed.

Three years ago I wrote:

It’s time to call a spade a spade. In his great book, America Alone, Steyn writes that Western Civilization is at war with Islam but that it will not be won or lost with tanks and bullets, but with will power. Right now, one of our two political parties does not even have the guts to call the enemy by its true name. If this war will indeed be decided by will power, I would say the advantage lies strongly with our enemies. 

If the coverage of the Boston Marathon bomber is any indication, this tendency of the Left’s has only strengthened in the intervening years.

Later this week: Why is the Left afraid to call out radical Islam?

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