Advertisements

Tomorrow’s NY Post Cover

ChkkueFWEAAruMo.jpg-large

Advertisements

U.S. Doesn’t Know How Many Foreign Visitors Overstay Visas 

visa-nyt

After two decades of failed attempts to track such visitors, some officials call the visa program a critical national security weakness.

WASHINGTON — Ron Nixon writes: The question from the congressman to the Obama administration official was straightforward enough: How many foreign visitors overstay their visas every year?

The reply was simple too, but not in a satisfying way. “We don’t know,” the official said.

The testy exchange during a recent congressional hearing between Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, and Alan Bersin, the assistant secretary for international affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, highlights what some law enforcement officials call a critical weakness in the United States foreign visa program.

syed20and20malik201

The issue has taken on added urgency as part of a broader examination of immigration policy following the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead and 22 wounded. Tashfeen Malik, one of the attackers, was granted entry to the United States under a K-1 visa, also known as a fiancé visa. Her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, was an American-born citizen. Both died in a shootout with the police. While Ms. Malik did not overstay her visa, the attack added to fears that a terrorist could exploit gaps in the system.

Nearly 20 years ago, Congress passed a law requiring the federal government to develop a system to track people who overstayed their visas. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an entry and exit tracking system was seen as a vital national security and counterterrorism tool, and the 9/11 Commission recommended that the Department of Homeland Security complete a system “as soon as possible.” Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Satam al-Suqami and Nawaf al-Hazmi, had overstayed their visas.

NCbersin315414x002_r900x493

Since then, the federal government has spent millions of dollars on the effort, yet officials can only roughly estimate the number of people in the United States illegally after overstaying visas.

Officials blame a lack of technology to conduct more advanced collection of data like iris scans, resistance from the airline and tourism industries because of cost, and questions about the usefulness of tracking people exiting the country as a counterterrorism measure.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

Some experts also note that a sizable number of those who overstayed their visas are highly skilled workers who come under the H-1B program or are foreign students.

One widely cited statistic, from a 1997 report by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, puts the number of people who overstay their visas at 40 percent — which now would mean about 4.4 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the United States. Numerous lawmakers, including the Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have used that figure when trying to describe the scope of the problem. But even that number has never been conclusively substantiated.

Federal agencies have not provided a new report to Congress on overstays since 1994, despite the congressional mandate. Read the rest of this entry »


Modern Sin: Holding On to Your Belief

nonconformist-bakers

Trying to put florists, bakers and others out of work for unapproved ideas about marriage

Charlotte AllenCharlotte Allen writes: On Tuesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that asks whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry. Four days before the hearing, in Oregon, an administrative-law judge proposed a $135,000 fine against Aaron and Melissa Klein, proprietors of the Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, for the “emotional distress” suffered by a lesbian couple for whom the Kleins, citing their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, had declined to bake a wedding cake in 2013.

anti-gay-headlines-huffpo-wsj

“Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to…nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the ‘anti-gay bakery’; the Huffington Post prefers ‘anti-gay baker.’”

Same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Oregon when the Kleins made their decision. But the couple was found to have violated a 2008 Oregon law forbidding discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.

balloons-getty

“The victors have dropped their conciliatory stance. Bubonic plague-level hysteria surged through the media, academia and mega-corporate America in March after Indiana passed a law—modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—that would enable religious believers to opt out of universally applicable laws under some circumstances.”

Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to . . . nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the “anti-gay bakery”; the Huffington Post prefers “anti-gay baker.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

[Also see Bake Me a Cake — Or Else by Mark Hemingway]

Supporters of the Kleins—who have five children and operated the bakery out of their home—quickly went on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to try to raise money to help the family pay legal fees and the fine, which still requires approval by the state labor commissioner. The effort managed to raise more than $100,000 in a few hours. human-christ-bookBut then, on Saturday night, GoFundMe abruptly shut down the online appeal because the Kleins’ case involved “formal charges.”

[Check out Charlotte Allen’s book “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus at Amazon.com]

The Kleins join a small number of bakers, florists and photographers around the country, most of whom say they serve and even employ gays in their over-the-counter operations but who also insist that their Christian beliefs in man-woman marriage preclude their providing services to same-sex weddings. Those numbers will probably dwindle further: Many states are treating those acts of conscience as ordinary bigotry and, by levying or threatening fines, forcing those small business owners into costly and potentially ruinous litigation. Read the rest of this entry »


Rock Paper Scissors: Christian Who Asked Gay Rights Bakery to Bake Anti-Gay Marriage Cake May Face Legal Action

upi_NYP96013005

Cake Fake Controversy Enters Twilight Zone

Donna Rachel Edmunds reports: A bakery that has refused to bake a cake with an anti-gay wedding message has found itself at the centre of controversy. But unlike mirror image cases in which Christian bakers have been taken to court for refusing to bake pro-gay marriage cakes, this time, it is the Christian to tried to place the order who may face legal action.

The latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between Christians and gay rights campaigners began when pastor Josh Feuerstein called Cut the Cake in Longwood, Florida to request a sheet cake with the slogan “We do not support gay marriage” written on it.

Sharon Haller, owner of Cut the Cake, who took the call, asked Feuerstein whether the request was a prank (it took place on April 1st), before refusing to bake the cake saying “We wouldn’t do that, sorry”. She then hung up without explaining her reasons.

The brief call was recorded by Feuerstein who then turned to the camera to give his views on the debate currently taking place.

“It obviously violates her principles, so she doesn’t feel like she should be forced to make the cake. And yet there is all of this hoopla because Christian bakeries think that they shouldn’t be forced,” he said. “We’re getting to the place in America now where Christians are not allowed any form of freedom of speech.

“Have we gotten to the point in America where the left is so ‘open minded’ that they’re close minded to anybody that doesn’t agree with them, or is America big enough for different points of view? Christian bakeries should never be forced to do something that violates their Christian principles. That’s not American.

“I love gay people. This is nothing against gay people. This is about religious freedom.”

Feuerstein posted the video to YouTube, but according to WND he removed the video when Haller started to receive harassing phone calls and messages on Facebook. However, Haller then posted the video herself to the Cut the Cake Facebook page, commenting “Yes the video has been deleted by Joshua Feuerstein but the damage is done! Our reviews have been marred and our business reviews are no longer the same. We thought this was a prank! Look for yourself.”

Haller told local media that she had received intimidating calls and even death threats from people all over the country who had seen the video. “People (are) telling us that we need to kill ourselves and all kinds of stuff, and we’re just afraid for our business and our safety,” she said. Local police stepped up patrols in her area. Read the rest of this entry »


Salon Champions Violent Hatred: Memories Pizza ‘Getting Exactly What It Deserved’

Pizza-salon

Liberal clickbait factory Salon.com wants to let you know that Memories Pizza, the pizzeria supportive of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act that was forced to close after constant abuse and death threats, got “exactly what it deserved.”

[Also see – Owners Of Indiana Pizzeria Opposed To Gay Marriage Receive Death Threats]

In a now-deleted tweet, Salon’s Twitter account gloated over the closure of “anti-LGBT” pizza shop:

Pizza

The link in the body of the tweet goes to a very brief Salon article which reports on Memories Pizza’s closure, but omits any mention of the death threats:

The owners of a small-town pizza shop who showed support for Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act have announced that they will be closing indefinitely, after facing mounting protests outside the physical establishment and online. Memories Pizza owner Kevin O’Connor told Fox News on Wednesday that due to an inability to differentiate between real and fake orders, he and his family would be taking a break. Read the rest of this entry »


What Tolerance Looks Like

tolerance


Former CEO Carly Fiorina is Disgusted with How CEOs Condemned Indiana’s #RFRA Law

carly-cook-WSJ

Former CEO Carly Fiorina is disgusted with how CEOs condemned Indiana’s religious freedom law.

 


With Extra Cheese: Indiana Pizzeria Owners Go Underground as Donations Near $1 Million

pizza-getty

The owners of a pizza shop at the center of the debate over Indiana’s religious freedom law have gone into hiding.

The Associated Press reported Crystal O’Connor and her family have taken refuge in an undisclosed location after saying earlier this week that Memories Pizza would not cater gay weddings.
Gofundme account launched for the Walkerton, Ind., restaurant has brought in more than $750,000. The flood of support comes as the O’Connors vow to reopen Memories despite backlash over their business practices.
At issue is Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Thursday signed a fix he feels corrects the perception that it lets businesses discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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 States

VHE_ThomasJefferson.1978.22_edited_medium

 “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…”

From Monticello.org

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:

jefferson_grave

Here was buried

Thomas Jefferson

Author of the Declaration of American Independence

of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom

& Father of the University of Virginia

editor-commen-deskWhat’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's_Monticello

From VAHistorical.org:

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

Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom

(annotated transcript)

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.

monticello-interior

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 »


Muslim Facial Hair, Amish Buggies, and Native American Peyote Rituals: This Map Shows Every State With Religious Freedom Laws

screen-shot-2015-04-01-at-5-14-45-pm

Dave Johnson and Katy Steinmetz report:The national outcry over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has turned attention towards the 19 states with their own versions of the law and the others that are considering similar measures. The timeline below shows when each state passed legislation, starting with Connecticut in 1993. Click on a state for links to the laws or pending bills.

screenshot

The fight over RFRAs dates to 1990, when the Supreme Court ruled against an Oregonian named Al Smith, who was a quarter American Indian. He had argued that his use of peyote in a Native American Church ritual—an act that cost him his job—should be protected by the First Amendment. He lost, and the ruling made it easier for the government to place restrictions on the freedom of religion. Read the rest of this entry »


The Anti-Pizzeria Mob Loses its Mind

anaonburn

Burn Her! She Would Act Like a Witch in a Situation That Will Never Come Up!

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

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

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

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

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

Rod Dreher titles his useful post on this grotesque affair “Into the Christian Closet,” and it’s apt considering the progression above. If only these non-activist restaurateurs had simply kept their views to themselves when asked by a reporter, April Fool’s would have been like any other day for them.

But as it stands, they’re now being trashed not just by social-justice mobs from afar, but by powerful politicians where they live and work. Democratic State Sen. Jim Arnold represents the O’Connors’s district. This is what he said about his constituents:

pp_religiousfreedom_2015-04-02-9dd17504

“The vast majority of people in this country are not going to stand by and watch that kind of activity unfold,” he said. “If that’si-keep-telling-you-people-that their stand I hope they enjoy eating their pizza because I don’t think anyone else is going to.”

Sen. Arnold says he’s upset by the news because of the negative attention it’s bringing to a town he says is a great community.

He said this kind of thinking has no place in this town. And the Religious Freedom Restoration Law is not an excuse for them to discriminate.

“This is America and if people say they’re not going to serve them and they feel this is some kind of defense, which by the way doesn’t take effect until July 1, but if they feel it’s some kind of defense, I think they’re sadly mistaken[.]

Almost every word out of Sen. Arnold’s mouth was wrong, horrifying, or both.

1) The O’Connors did not say “they’re not going to serve them,” they in fact stressed the opposite. Read the rest of this entry »


Kevin D. Williamson: The War on the Private Mind

Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN Source: Supplied

Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN

In Indiana, in Arkansas, and in the boardroom

Kevin D. Williamsonkevin-williamson writes: There are two easy ways to get a Republican to roll over and put his paws up in the air: The first is to write him a check, which is the political version of scratching his belly, and the second is to call him a bigot. In both cases, it helps if you have a great deal of money behind you.

Tim Cook, who in his role as chief executive of the world’s most valuable company personifies precisely the sort of oppression to which gay people in America are subjected, led the hunting party when Indiana’s governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, while Walmart, a company that cannot present its hindquarters enthusiastically enough to the progressives who hate it and everything for which it stands, dispatched its CEO, C. Douglas McMillon, to head off a similar effort in Arkansas, where Governor Asa Hutchison rolled over immediately….(read more)

millen-anguish

“Adlai Stevenson famously offered this definition: ‘A free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.’ We do not live in that society.”

…There are three problems with rewarding those who use accusations of bigotry as a political cudgel. First, those who seek to protect religious liberties are not bigots, and going along with false accusations that they are makes one a party to a lie.

[Read the full text here, at National Review]

Second, it is an excellent way to lose political contests, since there is almost nothing — up to and including requiring algebra classes — that the Left will not denounce as bigotry. Third, and related, it rewards and encourages those who cynically deploy end-is-nearaccusations of bigotry for their own political ends.

[Kevin D. Williamson’s book  “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome”  is available at Amazon]

An excellent illustration of this dynamic is on display in the recent pronouncements of columnist and gay-rights activist Dan Savage, who, in what seems to be an effort to resurrect every lame stereotype about the shrill, hysterical, theatrical gay man, declaimed that the efforts of those who do not wish to see butchers and bakers and wedding-bouquet makers forced by their government at gunpoint to violate their religious scruples is — you probably have guessed already — nothing less than the consecration of Jim Crow Junior. “Anti-black bigots, racist bigots, during Jim Crow and segregation made the exact same arguments that you’re hearing people make now,” Savage said. Given the dramatic difference in the social and political position of blacks in the time of Bull Connor and gays in the time of Ellen DeGeneres, this is strictly Hitler-was-a-vegetarian stuff, the elevation of trivial formal similarities over dramatic substantial differences. The choices for explaining this are a.) moral illiteracy; b.) intellectual dishonesty; c.) both a and b…(read more)

National Review


David Weigel: Wrong Side of History? ‘Democrats Are Endorsing Something More Radical Than Voters Are Comfortable With’

backlash

David Weigel writes:

..it’s now expected for Democrats to denounce RFRAs, just as large corporations are denouncing them. In doing so, all of the critics are on the wrong side of public polling. According to a March edition of the Marist poll, 54 percent of Americans agreed with  “allowing First Amendment religious liberty protection or exemptions for faith based organizations and individuals even when it conflicts with government laws.” By a two-point margin, 47-45, even a plurality of Democratic voters agreed with that.

The margins were even larger in opposition to laws that proposed “penalties or fines for individuals who refuse to provide wedding-related services to same sex couples even if their refusal is based on their religious beliefs.” No Democrat is seriously proposing this; the nearest cultural analogue may be the story of Memories Pizza, the Indiana shop whose owner said that he would decline to provide pies to gay weddings, and saw its Yelp! page firebombed with angry comments. (The popularity of delivery pizza at gay wedding ceremonials is well known.) Still, according to Marist, Americans oppose penalties on businesses like Memories by a 65-31 margin. The margin among Democrats: 62-34 against. Read the rest of this entry »


A Bunch of Crazy-Pants Cuckoo Bananas Bigots Speak Out for Religious Liberty

From MKHamm,  Hot Air:

Wow, just check out the hate!

Chuck Schumer:

Unknown

[VIDEO]

“The parade of horribles has already begun. The American people today know that religious freedom is not a luxury. I believe this legislation is essential.”

Steny Hoyer:

Unknown-1

[VIDEO]

“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.

Jerrold Nadler:

Unknown-2

[VIDEO]

“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.”

President Bill Clinton:

(read more)

Hot Air


How RFRA Works, Explained In One Chart

RFRA-Infographic

The above infographic from the 1st Amendment Partnership very clearly spells out what RFRA does, how it’s used by courts, and what happens at the end of a case where RFRA is invoked.

Despite the deliberate misinformation being spread by Leftist activists and their friends in the media, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, is not a complicated law. It is not difficult to understand. It is not a blanket license to discriminate.

[Read the full text here, at The Federalist]

The RFRA statutes, which currently bind nearly two dozen state governmentsas well as the federal government, require courts to use a simple balancing test when weighing the facts of specific religious freedom cases. The laws state that the government may only substantially burden the free exercise of religion of a person or organization if the government 1) has a compelling interest to do so, and 2) is using the least restrictive means possible to further that compelling interest…(read more)

The Federalist 


Arsonists For Tolerance: Indiana Coach Suspended After Threatening to Burn Down Christian-Owned Pizzeria

jess-dooley

Hysterical Media Whipping Up the Next Ferguson? 

The head coach of an Indiana high school girl’s golf team has been suspended after apparently threatening to burn down a Christian-owned pizzeria.

Jess Dooley, a coach at Concord High School of Elkhart, Indiana allegedly struck out at the owner of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, IN who made news on Tuesday by saying that she would not cater a wedding if a gay couple tried to hire her for the job, after the state passed its own Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

CBhfCGRWYAE3lWk

“We are a Christian establishment,” pizza shop owner told the media.

On the heels of the news from the pizza shop, coach Dooley allegedly took to Twitter to say, “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me? Agree with #FreedomofReligion bill? “That’s a lifestyle they CHOOSE” Ignorant.” Read the rest of this entry »


My So-Called Religious Freedom

joker-scare-quotes

National Review‘s Katherine Connell notes major media’s new House Style:

Unknown

[read the full text here, at National Review]


Deroy Murdock: ‘Are We Prepared to Handcuff a Feminist Photographer Who Won’t Take Pictures at a Strip Club?’

liberals-in-shock-590

At National ReviewDeroy Murdock asks some questions.

• Do we still respect a woman’s right to choose not to bake a cake for a gay couple?

• Do we respect a woman’s right to choose not to take photographs at a Christmas party at a men’s club because she is a feminist who deeply loathes all-male establishments?

• Do we respect the rights of groups of women to choose to enjoy the sisterhood of a women’s club where they need not cope with men?

• Do we respect the Junior League’s right to choose to remain a female-only group, as it has been since 1901, or must they now accept male members?

[Read the full text here at National Review]

• Do we respect a lesbian bar owner’s right to choose to post a No Men Allowed sign in her window because her customers want to enjoy their all-female company in peace and don’t want to associate there with a bunch of hairy dudes with Adam’s apples, brawny shoulders, testosterone in their veins, and penises in their pants?

• Do we respect a gay merchant’s decision to tell a heterosexual couple to stop making out inside his club full of gay men who could live without such a spectacle while meeting other gay men?

cake_god-hates-fags

“Bake this!” — Can a gay baker just say no?

• Do we respect a gay baker’s right to choose not to bake a cake for the Westboro Baptist Church with icing that reads God Hates Fags?

• Do we respect a fundamentalist Muslim baker’s choice not to bake a cake for a bar mitzvah because she really is not crazy about the Star of David?

[Also see –  Indiana’s Law Is Not the Return of Jim Crow,” by Jonah Goldberg]

• Do we respect a black jazz band’s choice not to perform at a Ku Klux Klan chapter’s “Negro Minstrel Show”?

• Do we respect a pro–gun control photographer’s right to choose not to snap pictures at a Sharpshooter of the Year banquet organized by the local chapter of the National Rifle Association? Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘There is nothing more tiresome in modern American life than the indignation sweepstakes we get in all the time to see who can be most angry’

From The Corner,

Responding to the outrage surrounding the Hoosier State’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Will noted on Tuesday’s Special Report…

“Tim Cook, CEO of Apple thinks Indiana is a horrible place. He opened marketing and retailing operations in Saudi Arabia two months before a man was sentenced to 450 lashes for being gay. The selective indignation is itself wonderful.”

Apple-Approved

“There are obviously two important principles at stake here,” Will continued…

“One is, the government should rarely, and only with extreme difficulty, compel people to take actions contrary to their consciences. The other is that when you open your doors to commerce you open them to everybody. That’s a simple thing…You can work this out, but the indignation isn’t helping.”

(read more)

National Review


Tim Cook Needs to Do Some Homework

620x349“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.”

AceofSpadesHQ

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…”

[Read the full text here, at bloombergview.com]

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 »


Random, Unrelated Misfortune: Indiana Gov Website Targeted By Malicous Cyber Attacks

indiana-website

(CBS) — The controversy over Indiana’s so-called religious freedom law was not the only problem the Hoosier state faced Tuesday. It also fended off an apparent attack on its official website.

It was the second time since Friday that the IN.gov website was overwhelmed by simultaneous requests for service.

Graig Lubsen of the Indiana Office of Technology said the threat was known well before the controversy over the new law surfaced.

He was quick to say that the site was not hacked. Instead, it was inundated by millions of simultaneous requests for service, which slowed access to the site for some and timed out others. Read the rest of this entry »


The New Intolerance

anti-christian-protest

Indiana isn’t targeting gays. Liberals are targeting religion

In the increasingly bitter battle between religious liberty and the liberal political agenda, religion is losing. Witness the media and political wrath raining down upon Indiana because the state dared to pass an allegedly anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The question fair-minded Americans should ask before casting the first stone is who is really being intolerant.

The Indiana law is a version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that passed 97-3 in the Senate and that Anti-Christian_sign_in_Federal_Plaza_ChicagoBill Clinton signed in 1993. Both the federal and Indiana laws require courts to administer a balancing test when reviewing cases that implicate the free exercise of religion.

“The paradox is that even as America has become more tolerant of gays, many activists and liberals have become ever-more intolerant of anyone who might hold more traditional cultural or religious views.”

To wit: Individuals must show that their religious liberty has been “substantially burdened,” and the government must demonstrate its actions represent the least restrictive means to achieve a “compelling” state interest. Indiana’s law adds a provision that offers a potential religious defense in private disputes, but then four federal appellate circuits have also interpreted the federal statute to apply to private disputes.

Is-Iowa-Already-Sick-Of-Hillary-Clinton

“Part of the new liberal intolerance is rooted in the identity politics that dominates today’s Democratic Party. That’s the only way to explain the born-again opportunism of Hillary Clinton, who tweeted: ‘Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love.'”

The federal RFRA followed the Supreme Court’s Employment Division v. Smith ruling in 1990 that abandoned its 30-year precedent of reviewing religious liberty cases under strict scrutiny. Congress Tall-censorship-campusresponded with RFRA, which merely reasserted longstanding First Amendment protections.

“By that standard, Mrs. Clinton discriminated against gays because she opposed gay marriage until March 2013. But now she wants to be seen as leading the new culture war against the intolerant right whose views she recently held.”

In 1997 the Supreme Court limited RFRA’s scope to federal actions. So 19 states including such cultural backwaters as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Illinois followed with copy-cat legislation, and Indiana is the 20th. Courts in 11 states have extended equally vigorous protections.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Indiana was an outlier before the new law because neither its laws nor courts unambiguously protected religious liberty. Amish horse-drawn buggies could be required to abide by local traffic regulations. Read the rest of this entry »


Noah Rothman: Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy Embarrasses Himself with Indiana RFRA Tantrum

dan-malloy-connecticut-governor

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.

[Read the full text here, at Hot Air]

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.

19-states

“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.

federalist

“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 tall-surprise-faceboycott 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.

Religious-Liberty-Censored-998x618

The Federalist’s Sean Davis makes the case:

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 »


Indiana Governor Mike Pence Informs Clueless Agenda-Driven Media that He Signed Same Bill Barack Obama Voted for in Illinois

Senator-obama-signs-religious-protection

White House doesn’t dispute it

John McCormack reports: In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Indiana governor Mike Pence defended his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act by noting that Barack Obama had voted for the same law as an Illinois state senator.Pence_Mike

“Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”

— This Week Host George Stephanoplous to White House press secretary Josh Earnest

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, and it lays out a framework for ensuring that a very high level of scrutiny is given any time government action impinges on the religious liberty of any American.” Pence said. “After last year’s Hobby Lobby case, Indiana properly brought the same version that then-state senator Barack Obama voted for in Illinois before our legislature.”

[For more on the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, see this article]

obama-church

This Week Host George Stephanoplous later asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest to respond to Pence’s claim: “Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”

Earnest didn’t dispute the Indiana governor’s statement….(read more)

weeklystandard.com


Religious Freedom Laws: True & False

Sarah TorreTorre_Sarah_TDS_lo1 writes: The mainstream media has launched an all-out blitz over a new law that protects the fundamental freedom of Indiana citizens from unnecessary and unreasonable government coercion.

The media’s gross mischaracterizations of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act ignore the truth: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts prevent government discrimination against religious free exercise and simply provide a way to balance religious liberty with compelling government interests.

Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible.

The First Amendment Partnership, an organization whose mission is “to promote and protect religious freedom for people of all faiths,” created the below infographic separating myth from fact on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts:

RFRAFacts

….By passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana joins the 19 other states that have implemented such laws. Eleven additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection….(read more)

The Daily Signal


Meth Lab Found In Wal-Mart Bathroom

walmart-meth-lab

Muncie – Last evening, just after 11:30 p.m., members of the Pendleton District Meth Suppression Team were contacted by employees of the Wal-Mart located at 1501 E. 29th. St. in Muncie  reference a suspicious backpack in the men’s rest room.

When troopers entered the rest room located at the front of the store, they found a backpack with an active meth lab inside. Members of the team donned their protective respirators and suits and dismantled the lab, removing the chemicals from the premises.

The health department was called in for an inspection as is required by law.  They deemed that both the men’s and women’s rest rooms would have to remain closed until they could be professionally decontaminated by a company specializing in Meth decontamination. The investigation into who left the backpack is ongoing.

With warm weather approaching and outside activities increasing, so does the potential for people to encounter toxic and hazardous meth trash or a working meth lab left unattended.

Rather than the Meth cook blowing up or contaminating their house, they are now often leaving behind the deadly explosive chemicals in public places to return later to get the finished product. They will often times dump their trash, which includes Sudafed blister packs; Liquid Fire drain cleaner bottles, battery casings, and plastic drink bottles with white residue in the bottom, in rural or desolate areas, or in alleys or vacant lots.

The Indiana State Police Meth Suppression Section wants to remind citizens that these labs and meth lab trash contain chemicals that are toxic, flammable, corrosive, and acidic. The combination of these chemicals could cause an explosion, fire or burns if they come into direct contact with the skin.  The chemical fumes can cause permanent damage to organs and the nervous system. Read the rest of this entry »


So Long, Suckers: Common Core Backlash Claims New Political Casualties

common-core-obama

Michelle Malkin writes: All politics is local. So Republican politicians with national ambitions better pay attention to what grassroots parents are saying and doing about the federal education racket known as Common Core. In bellwether Indiana this week, anti-Common Core activists won a pair of pivotal electoral victories against GOP Gov. Mike Pence.

Pence’s attempt to mollify critics by rebranding and repackaging shoddy Common Core standards is fooling no one.

Tuesday’s Republican primary elections in the Hoosier state resulted in the landslide defeat of two establishment incumbents running for statewide re-election. Pence had endorsed GOP State Rep. Kathy Heuer over challenger Christopher Judy. Pence’s Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann had endorsed GOP State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki over challenger Curt Nisly. The incumbents enjoyed the support of the Common Core-promoting U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Arguendo: Live Nude Theater! Strippers v. the Supreme Court

Arguendo

Is it constitutional to require strippers to wear pasties and G-strings?

In 1991’s Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc, the Supreme Court ruled that go-go dancers in Indiana could indeed be compelled to cover up their naughty bits. The decision upholding such bans is the subject of the provocative—and nudity-filled!—play Arguendo.

arguendo-poster-33529“Justices start off in swivel chairs just like the real justices,” explains Arguendo’s director John Collins. “Then those chairs are rolling all around the stage, the podium rolls around the stage, and eventually some actual, total, nudity gets involved in the argument as well.” The play’s text is faithful to Barnes’ oral arguments. “What you hear in Arguendo is exactly what you would have heard in the courtroom,” says Collins.

The lobby of Washington D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre hosts an interactive exhibit that allows the audience to engage the facts of the case and arrive at its own conclusion.

“I hope what you’re left with is that it’s not the easiest case in the world,” says Collins. “There are interesting questions on both sides of it.”

Collins spoke with Reason TV about the unique power of live performance, Arguendo’s experimental staging, and the irony that theaters, unlike strip clubs, are generally exempted from bans on public nudity. Read the rest of this entry »


MORE: Indiana Drops Common Core

pence-signs-bill

Gov. Mike Pence Signs Legislation Withdrawing State From Math and Reading Standards

Stephanie Banchero reports:  Indiana’s governor on Monday signed legislation withdrawing the state from the Common Core, making it the first to officially dump math and reading standards that have been adopted by nearly all the states.

Bill-Ayers-ap

[We recall this bit of foresight, Jan. 14th, 2014, in  BigGovernment.com‘s article by Dr. Susan Berry]

COMMON CORE ROOTED IN MATH CLASS SOCIAL JUSTICE INDOCTRINATION

While proponents of the Common Core claim that the new standards are focused on “college and career readiness,” more evidence is surfacing that a central purpose of the initiative is social justice and income redistribution indoctrination.

Social justice indoctrination in Common Core is not just limited to language arts.

Radical Math is a group founded by Jonathan Osler who teaches math and community organizing at a Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) high school in Brooklyn, New York. Its website states Radical Math is “a resource for educators interested in integrating issues of social and economic justice into their math classes and curriculum.”  [read more here]

The law directs the state board of education to create its own learning goals before July 1. “Indiana has taken an important step forward in developing academic standards that are written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, and are uncommonly high,” Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, said in a statement.

[Order (or download) Glenn Harlan Reynolds The K-12 Implosion (Encounter Broadside) from Amazon]

Supporters of the new Indiana law cite an effort to maintain local control, with some also arguing the Common Core is weaker than Indiana’s old standards.

Read the rest of this entry »


Politics and the University President

They go together—so long as the politics are left-wing

universityAdam Freedman  writes:  Mitch Daniels, the former Indiana governor and current Purdue University president, got himself in hot water back in October for giving a speech to a Minnesota think tank. Not that anyone objects to Daniels making speeches in general; indeed, it comes with being a university president. In this case, however, the venue for the speech was the Center of the American Experiment, a conservative organization. And in the eyes of Indiana’s cultural elites, that made all the difference.

The Lafayette Journal and Courier blasted Daniels for addressing the Center. Though the editors conceded that they didn’t know “the particulars of the speech,” they voiced concern that Daniels may have discussed what he had done as governor to “cut taxes and preserve state finances”—perhaps fearing that such talk would incite further outbreaks of fiscal responsibility.

[Order Freedman’s book: The Naked Constitution: What the Founders Said and Why It Still Matters from Amazon]

As it happens, the speech focused on nonpartisan themes such as “how to deliver basic services effectively, how to bring people together across political lines, the importance of civility in public discourse, and the centrality of social mobility,” according to Daniels. Not exactly red meat for the Tea Party. Even after Daniels issued an apology for accepting the engagement, his critics weren’t appeased. According to Bill Mullen, a hard-left professor of English and American studies at Purdue, it was inexcusable for Daniels to use the “platform” of a public university to talk about such incendiary topics as “lowering taxes”—clearly a partisan endeavor.

h/t Dana Perino

Read the rest of this entry »


Police: Man Stole Brains from Museum, Sold Them on Ebay for Cash

inimanstealsbrains

Bill McCleery  reports:  The details sound like the plot of a bad horror movie: Desperate for cash, a young man breaks into a warehouse to steal the brains of dead mental patients, and the body parts are later sold on eBay.

This story line, however, is real.

Authorities say David Charles, a 21-year-old Indianapolis resident, is accused of breaking into the Indiana Medical History Museum multiple times this year and stealing jars of human brain tissue and other preserved material. A tipster who paid hundreds of dollars on the online auction site helped bring the organ entrepreneurism to an end.

The museum, 3045 W. Vermont St., is the site of the former Central State Hospital, which served patients with psychiatric and mental disorders from 1848 to 1994. Indianapolis police had investigated several break-ins at the museum’s storage facility before a California phone call led police to Charles.

A San Diego man who had bought six jars of human brain tissue off eBay for $600, plus $70 shipping, called the museum after noticing labels on the containers and suspecting some kind of skulduggery, according to court documents.

Read the rest of this entry »


A Job with a Future: Cleaning Up Meth Labs

certified industrial hygienist Gary Siebenschuh, left, and assistant Courtney Van Stolk preparing to enter a house that was once used as a clandestine methamphetamine lab in Memphis, Tenn. The house was placed under quarantine after a Nov. 6 fire that police said was caused by a meth lab that exploded in the attic of the house. Siebenschuh and Van Stolk were hired by the homeowner to test the home for meth residue. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz).

Certified industrial hygienist Gary Siebenschuh, left, and assistant Courtney Van Stolk preparing to enter a house that was once used as a methamphetamine lab in Memphis. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz).

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Adrian Sainz reports:  A tall man and a slender woman wiggled into their white hazardous materials suits, putting on protective masks and gloves before venturing into the dark, two-story home where police say a methamphetamine lab recently exploded.

Gary Siebenschuh and a helper used a yellow photo ionization detector to measure for meth residue, maneuvering around debris and a hole in the roof caused by the Nov. 6 fire that injured a young child. They took wipe samples of walls, ducts, window sills and other parts of the home, later sending them to a lab to be analyzed.

“The process is extremely cumbersome but I think it’s necessary,” said Dick Cochran, owner of the Memphis home where a renter was charged with making meth and causing the fire and explosion. He hired Siebenschuh to inspect the property.

“You don’t know how bad a house can be contaminated,” Cochran said.

Tens of thousands of houses have been used as meth labs the last decade and a cottage industry is developing around cleaning them up. Many Americans are more aware of the production of the highly addictive drug thanks to AMC’s hit show “Breaking Bad,” which featured a high school chemistry teacher who turned into a meth cooker and dealer. In real life, cleanup contractors are the ones who deal with a property when a batch explodes or police raid an operation and shut it down.

Read the rest of this entry »