Kimberley A. Strassel writes: When a government official (think Hillary Clinton) uses a private email account for government work (think Hillary Clinton) and then doesn’t turn over records (think Hillary Clinton), the public has to wonder why. For an example of that why, consider Thursday’s federal-court subpoena of Phillip North.
“Government workers don’t use private email because it is ‘convenient.’ They use private email to engage in practices that may be unsavory, or embarrassing, or even illegal.”
The North story hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but it is a useful tale for clarifying exactly why we have federal records and sunshine laws. You see, government workers don’t use private email because it is “convenient.” They use private email to engage in practices that may be unsavory, or embarrassing, or even illegal. Let’s be clear about that.
“Records show that EPA officials, including Mr. North, had no intention of letting the process get that far. They set about to ‘pre-emptively’ veto the mine, before Pebble could even file for permits.”
Mr. North was, until a few years ago, a biologist at the Environmental Protection Agency, based in Alaska. Around 2005 he became enmeshed in reviewing the Pebble Partnership’s proposal to develop a mine there. Mr. North has openly admitted that he was opposed to this idea early on, and he is entitled to his opinion. Still, as a government employee his first duty is to follow the law.
“But for the EPA to so flagrantly insert itself into the process, it needed cause. This is where Mr. North and his private email come in.”
In the normal course of law, Pebble would file for permits and the Army Corps of Engineers would get the first say over approval. The EPA has a secondary role. But records show that EPA officials, including Mr. North, had no intention of letting the process get that far. They set about to “pre-emptively” veto the mine, before Pebble could even file for permits. But for the EPA to so flagrantly insert itself into the process, it needed cause. This is where Mr. North and his private email come in. Read the rest of this entry »
Raheem Kassam: Global printing firm Spreadshirt.com has refused to create a design for a supporter of the anti-Islamism ‘PEGIDA’ group, but still sells t-shirts of Osama Bin Laden’s face.
Spreadshirt, which is based in Germany, has refused to create the design for one of its native customers, Kerstin Bergel, instead replying with strongly worded e-mail that sought to distance the company from the idea of free speech.
“Some have been quick to point out Spreadshirt’s hypocrisy, as even if they were right in claiming that PEGIDA is a racist group, the company still sells t-shirts with the face of mass murderer and avowed racist Che Guevara, Joseph Stalin and the communist hammer and sickle, and even Osama Bin Laden.”
A Spreadshirt spokesman said: “What PEGIDA represents is in our eyes not an opinion, but rather a series of racist, discriminatory and inhuman pronouncements.
“For this reason, we have decided on ethical grounds not to print the name of this ridiculous association. I hope that one day, you realise that you are taking to the streets alongside Nazis.”
But PEGIDA’s followers say it isn’t a Nazi or Neo-Nazi group, but rather, stands for “Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes”, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West. Read the rest of this entry »
Whitewashing the Democratic Party’s History
Mona Charen writes: Here’s what the former president of the United States had to say when he eulogized his mentor, an Arkansas senator:
We come to celebrate and give thanks for the remarkable life of J. William Fulbright, a life that changed our country and our world forever and for the better. . . . In the work he did, the words he spoke and the life he lived, Bill Fulbright stood against the 20th century’s most destructive forces and fought to advance its brightest hopes.
So spoke President William J. Clinton in 1995 of a man was among the 99 Democrats in Congress to sign the “Southern Manifesto” in 1956. (Two Republicans also signed it.) The Southern Manifesto declared the signatories’ opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Educationand their commitment to segregation forever. Fulbright was also among those who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That filibuster continued for 83 days.
“As recently as 2010, the Senate’s president pro tempore was former Ku Klux Klan Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd (D., W.Va.). Rather than acknowledge their sorry history, modern Democrats have rewritten it.”
Speaking of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, let’s review (since they don’t teach this in schools): The percentage of House Democrats who supported the legislation? 61 percent. House Republicans? 80 percent. In the Senate, 69 percent of Democrats voted yes, compared with 82 percent of Republicans. (Barry Goldwater, a supporter of the NAACP, voted no because he thought it was unconstitutional.)
“The Democrats have been sedulously rewriting history for decades.”
When he was running for president in 2000, Vice President Al Gore told the NAACP that his father, Senator Al Gore Sr., had lost his Senate seat because he voted for the Civil Rights Act. Uplifting story — except it’s false. Gore Sr. voted against the Civil Rights Act. He lost in 1970 in a race that focused on prayer in public schools, the Vietnam War, and the Supreme Court.
Al Gore’s reframing of the relevant history is the story of the Democratic party in microcosm. The party’s history is pockmarked with racism and terror. The Democrats were the party of slavery, black codes, Jim Crow, and that miserable terrorist excrescence, the Ku Klux Klan. Republicans were the party of Lincoln, Reconstruction, anti-lynching laws, and the civil rights acts of 1875, 1957, 1960, and 1964. Were all Republicans models of rectitude on racial matters? Hardly. Were they a heck of a lot better than the Democrats? Without question. Read the rest of this entry »
Two people were hospitalized after shots were fired when a civilian tried to gain unauthorized access to the Little Rock Air Force Base Monday morning.
REWIND: One Year Ago Today, May 22, 2014: Hillary Clinton Has Made $5 MILLION in Speaking Fees Since Leaving OfficePosted: May 22, 2015
Hillary Clinton has raked in nearly $5 million for her various appearances and speeches since leaving the State Department in February 2013, even though many of her more than 90 appearances have been unpaid. Her usual speaking fee is approximately $200,000 per appearance.
“This is a great way for a company to get access to her, to hear what she’s thinking, to be remembered if and when she does run for office, and to help her grow that nice little nest egg that she and her husband have been intent on building.”
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) April 26, 2015
By the time this is done, Baltimore is going to look like Baltimore.
— Kevin D. Williamson (@KevinNR) April 26, 2015
The owners of a pizza shop at the center of the debate over Indiana’s religious freedom law have gone into hiding.
— T Bradley (@TBradleyNC) April 3, 2015
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) April 4, 2015
The law’s latest version now prohibits business discrimination against protected groups like the gay community. It also forbids using the law as a legal defense in situations where such discrimination may have occurred. Read the rest of this entry »
FREEDOM OF THOUGHT: Religious Freedom More Important Founding Achievement than Being President of the United StatesPosted: April 3, 2015
“Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness…”
Before his death, Thomas Jefferson left explicit instructions regarding the monument to be erected over his grave. In this document (undated), Jefferson supplied a sketch of the shape of the marker, and the epitaph with which he wanted it to be inscribed:
“…on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more:
Here was buried
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia
What’s missing here? Jefferson declined to include, among his most treasured achievements, his own ascent to the highest office in the land. Thomas Jefferson was elected twice, served two terms as president of the United States. Why did Jefferson consider his own presidency to be unimportant, or not important enough to include in his list of achievements? Much as been written about this, including by Jefferson himself, but my own summary is this: A free people govern themselves. A self-governing society doesn’t celebrate its leaders, or rulers, it celebrates its own freedom.
The most important of these freedoms being freedom of thought. Freedom to think, or not think, whatever the hell you want. To worship, or not worship, whatever deity you want, it’s your business. The freedom to subscribe to–or reject–whatever philosophy you want. The freedom to participate, or refrain from participating in, whatever way of life you chose. An individual is free to worship as he pleases with no discrimination. And has the inherent (not state-given) freedom to not be compelled by another to do otherwise.
Without this, the “habits of hypocrisy and meanness” undermine pluralism, and threaten the foundations of the civil society that his generation fought so hard to build.
Do Jefferson’s successors understand this?
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was prevented by illness from attending the Virginia Convention of 1774 that met to discuss what to do in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party and the closing of the port of Boston by the British. But Jefferson sent a paper to the convention, later published as A Summary View of the Rights of British America. The force of its arguments and its literary quality led the Convention to elect Jefferson to serve in the Continental Congress.
He was too anti-British to be made use of until a total break with Great Britain had become inevitable. Then he was entrusted with drafting the Declaration of Independence. This assignment, and what he made of it, ensured Jefferson’s place as an apostle of liberty. In the Declaration, and in his other writings, Jefferson was perhaps the best spokesman we have had for the American ideals of liberty, equality, faith in education, and in the wisdom of the common man. But what Jefferson wanted to be remembered for, besides writing the Declaration of Independence, was writing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and founding the University of Virginia.
Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom
The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom is a statement about both freedom of conscience and the principle of separation of church and state. Written by Thomas Jefferson and passed by the Virginia General Assembly on January 16, 1786, it is the forerunner of the first amendment protections for religious freedom. Divided into three paragraphs, the statute is rooted in Jefferson’s philosophy. It could be passed in Virginia because Dissenting sects there (particularly Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists) had petitioned strongly during the preceding decade for religious liberty, including the separation of church and state.
Jefferson had argued in the Declaration of Independence that “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle [man]….” The first paragraph of the religious statute proclaims one of those entitlements, freedom of thought. To Jefferson, “Nature’s God,” who is undeniably visible in the workings of the universe, gives man the freedom to choose his religious beliefs. This is the divinity whom deists of the time accepted—a God who created the world and is the final judge of man, but who does not intervene in the affairs of man. This God who gives man the freedom to believe or not to believe is also the God of the Christian sects.
I. Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do . . .
The second paragraph is the act itself, which states that no person can be compelled to attend any church or support it with his taxes. It says that an individual is free to worship as he pleases with no discrimination. Read the rest of this entry »
“Apple’s Gay CEO Tim Cook Wants to Boycott Indiana for Its Allegedly Anti-Gay RFRA, But Will Gladly Sell You an iPhone At Its Boutique in Riyadh, Where They’ll Stone You to Death For Being Gay.”
Ramesh Ponnuru writes: Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple, is spreading misinformation about a new religious-freedom law in Indiana. That law and similar ones, he writes in the Washington Post, “say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.” He goes on to claim that they “rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”
“What these religious-freedom laws say is that government can require people to violate their religious beliefs only when it is pursuing a compelling interest, and must do so in the least intrusive manner possible. Thus the Supreme Court recently ruled under a federal religious-freedom law that a Muslim prisoner doesn’t have to shave his beard.”
Discrimination against gay customers or employees is what opponents of the law are especially concerned about. But that’s a strange argument to make in the context of Indiana, which lacks any state nondiscrimination law on sexual orientation for people to resist. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is legal almost everywhere in the state, and was before this religious-freedom law passed.
“Cook may not be aware of this point or others that cut against his argument because reporting on this controversy has been abysmal. Cook may also be unaware that the ‘wave of legislation’ that he fears has largely already happened. A very similar religious-freedom law has been on the federal books for 22 years…”
Cook may not be aware of this point or others that cut against his argument because reporting on this controversy has been abysmal. Cook may also be unaware that the “wave of legislation” that he fears has largely already happened. A very similar religious-freedom law has been on the federal books for 22 years, and that law itself codified a Supreme Court doctrine that had been in place for most of the previous few decades. Nineteen states besides Indiana have similar laws. Read the rest of this entry »
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy revealed that he will prohibit all state-sponsored travel to this heretical member of the Union. He joins the mayor of Seattle, who also blocked city-funded travel to Indiana in protest over this perfectly banal law.
Noah Rothman writes: The frenzied outpouring of disproportionate outrage from the left over Indiana’s state-level version of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act can be best described as a tantrum.
A number of firms including Apple and Angie’s List Inc. have announced that they will respond to the legislation that critics insist is designed to discriminate against gays and lesbians by reviewing their commitments to do business in the state. A cornucopia of liberal groups are organizing a boycott of all things Hoosier. And, on Monday, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy revealed that he will prohibit all state-sponsored travel to this heretical member of the Union. He joins the mayor of Seattle, who also blocked city-funded travel to Indiana in protest over this perfectly banal law.
“This law, like other RFRAs, merely requires that state laws meet a demanding, but hardly insurmountable, test before infringing upon the religious practice or conscience of religious believers.”
— The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blogger Jonathan Adler
This reaction is nothing short of an embarrassment for the left and a repudiation of the values that the Democratic Party espoused as recently as the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton signed a national version of this act into law.
“RFRA is a shield, not a sword. It can be used to defend oneself against lawsuits or administrative action. It can’t be used affirmatively to try and deprive others of the protections of law.”
— Attorney Gabriel Malor, The Federalist
The hypocrisy exhibited by the left in this display of childish pique over Indiana’s RFRA bill is impossible to ignore.
“[W]hile Indiana is being criticized, the NCAA didn’t say it was concerned over how athletes and employees would be affected by Kentucky’s RFRA when games were played there last week, there aren’t any plans to boycott states like Illinois or Connecticut, and Miley Cyrus has yet to post a photo of President Clinton or any of the 19 other governors who have also signed RFRAs,” The Washington Post’s Hunter Schwarz wrote. “Indiana might be treated as if it’s the only state with a bill like this, but it’s not.”
“Malloy’s absurd response to the Indiana law is, no doubt, an effort to distract his liberal constituents from the fact that Connecticut’s RFRA law – yes, they have one, too – goes farther than the act signed last week by Governor Mike Pence.”
“This law, like other RFRAs, merely requires that state laws meet a demanding, but hardly insurmountable, test before infringing upon the religious practice or conscience of religious believers,” observed The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blogger Jonathan Adler. “If the law imposes a substantial burden on religious belief, the law must yield unless the law serves a compelling state interest and is the least burdensome way to advance that interest.”
Malloy’s absurd response to the Indiana law is, no doubt, an effort to distract his liberal constituents from the fact that Connecticut’s RFRA law – yes, they have one, too – goes farther than the act signed last week by Gov. Mike Pence.
Connecticut’s law, however, is far more restrictive of government action and far more protective of religious freedoms. How? Because the Connecticut RFRA law states that government shall not “burden a person’s exercise of religion[.]” Note that the word “substantially” is not included in Connecticut’s law.
The effect of the absence of that single word is enormous…(read more)
That seems straightforward enough. Still have questions? Over at The Federalist, attorney Gabriel Malor answers all of your pressing inquiries. The most substantive assertion that he makes, however, is that all RFRA’s do not and cannot license discrimination. Read the rest of this entry »
Peter Malcolm reports: Ami Horowitz has released a video in which he asked young Muslim men in Marseilles what they thought of the massacres at the Charlie Hebdo office and the kosher supermarket, and the answers he got belie the conclusion that French Muslims overwhelmingly condemned the attacks. Marseilles has the largest Muslim population in France.
This is what Horowitz found:
One Muslim man said, “They defended their religion. They provoked the Muslim religion. They took care of it.”
Another young Muslim man said, “Already they are saying it’s a terrorist religion. Confusing terrorists and Muslims. I say it’s a government set-up. Somebody important who’s high up with money. To buy weapons, finance travel, to buy lots of things, you need money. It has to be someone high up in the government. It has to be.” Asked whether it was possible the Israeli government was behind the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermaket in Paris, he replied, “It’s possible. Yes, it’s possible. It was probably sponsored by someone in the government.”
Asked whether the Charlie Hebdo people deserve what they got because they insulted the Prophet, a black man answered, “Yes. You cannot play with the religion or the faith of people. There are some people who really love the Prophet; you cannot play.” Read the rest of this entry »
“Whew! I’m so glad I can get back to work. I was down to my last trunk load of Obamaphones.”
“I got big plans tonight. Couple shots of Crown Royal, and a fine cigar. Then catch a bus to Arkansas.”
“When the Clintons called me with the good news, I knew we were back on the gravy train”
“I don’t see what the big deal is. I still vote the regular way, only two or three times.”
“Hot damn. Lordy lordy. Hot damn!”
“I can’t do anything for Democrats this year cause I’m still on parole, but I’m gonna celebrate anyway!”
On that magical night, for the New York Times, on November 4th, 2008, Adam Nagourney wrote:
Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.
“The election of Mr. Obama amounted to a national catharsis — a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Mr. Obama’s call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country.”
“…nothing short of a phenomenon, drawing huge crowds epitomized by the tens of thousands of people who turned out to hear Mr. Obama’s victory speech…”
But it was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago…
To the very end, Mr. McCain’s campaign was eclipsed by an opponent who was nothing short of a phenomenon, drawing huge crowds epitomized by the tens of thousands of people who turned out to hear Mr. Obama’s victory speech in Grant Park in Chicago.
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” said Mr. Obama, standing before a huge wooden lectern with a row of American flags at his back, casting his eyes to a crowd that stretched far into the Chicago night…
Good times, good times. Fast forward to October. 7, 2014.
For the New York Times, Jonathan Martin reports:
In This Election, Obama’s Party Benches Him
CHICAGO — When he soared to victory by almost 10 million votes in 2008, President Obama won in states like Virginia that Democratic candidates had not captured since 1964. He was trumpeted as a transformational leader who remade American politics by creating a new electoral map and a diverse voter coalition to shape the Democratic Party for the 21st century.
“But for now he has been reduced to something else: an isolated political figure who is viewed as a liability to Democrats in the very states where voters by the thousands had once stood to cheer him.”
“As November nears, Mr. Obama and his loyalists are being forced to reconcile that it is not only Democrats in conservative-leaning states, like Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who are avoiding him.”
Hmm…A repudiation of a historically unpopular Democrat president and his economic and foreign policies?
Body of missing real estate agent found in shallow grave
(CNN) — The body of missing Arkansas realtor Beverly Carter has been located north of the Little Rock area, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said early Tuesday.
Her body was found in a shallow grave near Cabot, about 20 miles northeast of central Little Rock.
Arron Lewis, of Jacksonville, will be charged with capital murder, the sheriff’s office said.
The 33-year-old was arrested by authorities Monday.
“Lewis admitted … to kidnapping Beverly Carter, but would not divulge her whereabouts,” the sheriff’s office said. After he was booked into the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility, investigators said they obtained information that led them to the property where the grave was located. Read the rest of this entry »
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Arkansas’ corrections system, which is looking for a murderer who walked away from a work detail, said Monday it isn’t unusual for a killer to enjoy a special status that lets convicts perform tasks on either side of the prison fence.
“Until he escaped Saturday evening, the only blemish on his record is that escape.”
Timothy “Bo” Buffington, 47, disappeared Saturday night from outside the Pine Bluff Unit. Buffington was serving a 20-year sentence for first-degree murder and would have been eligible for release in four years, Correction Department spokeswoman Shea Wilson said.
CBS affiliate KTHV reports Buffington broke into a safe at a house located on prison grounds Saturday and made off with a shotgun. Wilson said that, even though the door was dead-bolted, the convict managed to kick out the doorframe.
Jefferson County Sheriff‘s officials told the station on Sunday night that they believed Buffington was also armed with a backpack of ammunition to go along with the shotgun. Read the rest of this entry »
A naked woman wearing a pair of angel wings was arrested early yesterday after police spotted her walking on an Arkansas street.
Christine Lawrence, 47, was busted for indecent exposure after a pair of Mountain Home Police Department officers responded to a 3:20 AM call about “a female walking down the middle of the road with nothing on besides angel wings,” according to a police report.
When one patrolman sought to speak with Lawrence, she fled into her nearby Circle Drive residence. As Lawrence was subsequently being arrested, she struggled with police, leading to an additional charge of resisting arrest.
The police report does not indicate why Lawrence was promenading in her birthday suit, though yesterday happened to be her birthday.
Seen in the above mug shot, Lawrence was booked into the Baxter County jail on the two misdemeanor charges. She remains locked up in lieu of $790 bond, and is scheduled for a February 4 court appearance.
A Test of GOP Resolve on ObamaCare
Republicans are busy debating what gives them the most “leverage” in their fight to get rid of ObamaCare. One powerful tool, it happens, is an issue that few of them so far have wanted to talk about.
The issue is the White House’s recent ObamaCare bailout for members of Congress and their staffs. The GOP has been largely mute on this blatant self-dealing. The party might use what’s left of its summer recess to consider just how politically potent this handout is, and what—were they to show a bit of principle—might be earned from opposing it.
Liberal commentators like to spotlight rifts in the Republican party and self-destructive fights among various flavors of conservatives. In this they often have legitimate raw material to work with.
But I haven’t seen so much introspection in those quarters when liberals do similar things. Case in point: Arkansas, where New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns is running ads against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who voted against the Manchin-Toomey gun control proposal. These ads could hurt Pryor and, as Time’s Michael Scherer points out, reduce Democrats’ chances of holding onto a Senate majority in the 2014 election.
The chance of Bloomberg’s ads producing an Arkansas senator willing to vote for gun control measures is close to zero. This is a state which has become increasingly Republican in presidential elections since Bill Clinton has been ineligible to run – it went 51 percent-46 percent Republican in 2000, 54 percent-45 percent in 2004, 59 percent-39 percent in 2008 and 61 percent-37 percent in 2012. The only other state to trend Republican in those four elections is Al Gore’s Tennessee: the Clinton-Gore ticket held much of the Upper South for Democrats in the 1990s but has moved sharply away from them ever since.
Nevertheless liberals tried a similar gambit in Arkansas in 2010. Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, up for reelection, riled the unions by coming out early against their card check bill. Again, there was no way an Arkansas senator was going to vote for that. But Lincoln got primary opposition from the more liberal Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who lost by only a 52 percent-48 percent margin. Lincoln then lost the general election to Republican Rep. John Boozman by a 58 percent-37 percent margin, a crushing defeat for a two-term incumbent who was Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. There’s no reason to believe that Halter would have done substantially better.
Note that only 259,000 votes were cast in the 2010 Democratic primary. That’s barely half the 506,000 votes cast in Arkansas’s 1992 Democratic presidential primary–and that may understate the size of the state’s Democratic primary electorate 20 years ago since it was obvious that Clinton would win by a large margin. The Democratic base has shrunk greatly and in the process may have become somewhat more liberal–but that’s not likely to help Arkansas Democrats in the general election.
Mark Pryor, son of a former governor and senator, was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and may have been helped by the fact that the Republican incumbent had divorced his wife and married a former staffer. Pryor had no Republican opponent in 2008. Now it looks like his luck is running out and that his best option is to run against Bloomberg.