In Praise of Kindergarten Style Payback

Virginia State Senator Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier County) introduces a bill to require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. In protest, State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) introduces an amendment requiring a cardiac stress test and rectal exam before men can be prescribed erectile dysfunction medication. Vogel’s bill passes by voice vote while Howell’s amendment narrowly fails. Glenn Reynolds, A.K.A. Instapundit, declares himself “okay with abortion” but reserves all of his outrage for the failed amendment, insisting that what we’re seeing here is “a false equivalence” and “kindergarten style payback.” Something is very wrong with this picture.

In a way, Reynolds is right. We are seeing a false equivalence. While there is absolutely no medical reason to require women to have ultrasounds before undergoing abortion procedures, there are good medical reasons to require men to undergo rectal exams and cardiac stress tests before being prescribed erectile dysfunction drugs. Included among the side effects of Viagra, for example, are rectal bleeding, colitis, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. I don’t know if Howell had any of these side effects in mind when she proposed her amendment or if she was instead purely interested in kindergarten style payback, but either way her amendment actually makes more sense from a medical perspective than does Vogel’s.

New York State commits economic suicide

It’s pretty hard to kill oneself when you’re already dead. I suppose some vampires have tried it, to end their miserable existence, but I don’t recall any zombies doing so. New York state may be the first to try, however.

The reason being is that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (the Assembly being New York’s equivalent of a “House of Representatives”) has introduced a bill that will raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $8.25 an hour:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, joined by dozens of colleagues from his chamber controlled by Democrats, said census data show nearly half of the U.S. population has fallen into poverty or joined the ranks of the working poor. He said New York’s minimum wage has risen 10 cents in the last six years, it is lower here than in 18 other states, and increasing it is “a matter of human dignity.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has supported previous proposals to raise the minimum and his office will review this one through the legislative session, spokesman Matthew Wing said Monday

Scott Reif, spokesman for Republicans who control the Senate, said the Senate GOP would “continue to promote policies that encourage job growth and make New York a more business-friendly state, just as we did last year partnering with Governor Cuomo.”

The New York Farm Bureau and the state Business Council said raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses, farms and nonprofits that are struggling to meet payrolls now. Farm Bureau President Dean Norton called it “a stealth tax.”

Note to Birthers: Marco Rubio is a natural-born citizen (and so is Obama)

On my drive home on Tuesday, I tuned into a Sean Hannity’s show for a few minutes, managing to catch a couple of minutes of the conservative talk show host’s conversation with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Toward the end of the interview, Hannity brought up that “Birthers,” this strange group of folks that have questioned President Barack Obama’s eligibility to serve, are now raising Rubio’s eligibility now that he has beem mentioned as a possible running mate for the Republican nominee. Hannity was dismissive of Birthers, calling them “idiots,” which is really too kind of a characterization.

Among the group now target Rubio is Joseph Farah, a prominent Birther and editor of WorldNutDaily, spoke with Hannity on Wednesday after hearing his exchange the previous day; and, well, made absolutely no sense:

Conservative Joseph Farah on Tuesday evening predicted that “10 percent of the Republican vote” would fail to get behind Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as the hypothetical vice presidential nominee because they will believe the circumstances of his birth make him ineligible.
[…]
“Rubio is not eligible,” Farah told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “He’ll lose 10 percent of the Republican vote because he is not a natural-born citizen. We’ve been through this with Obama now for four years.”

Rubio was born in Miami in 1971. Farah’s argument against Rubio’s “natural born” status relies on a strict definition also used by Farah and others who raised doubts over Obama’s eligibility. The strict definition requires that both parents be legal citizens at the time of the birth.

Right-to-Work is now law in Indiana

With last year’s fight over collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and the National Labor Relations Board’s persecution of Boeing, conservatives and libertarians have, rightfully, targeted Big Labor’s stranglehold on workers. The latest battle in this fight being won yesterday in Indiana, as the state’s legislatue passed, and Gov. Mitch Daniels subsequently signed, “right-to-work” legislation into law:

After over 40 hours of testimony, debate, and discussion over the past year House Bill (HB) 1001, Employee’s Right to Work passed the Indiana House of Representatives last week and today passed the State Senate. The final step, which is expected to occur today, is having the Governor sign the bill into law. HB 1001 will now make Indiana the nation’s 23rd Right to Work state, and the first state in the industrial Midwest to become a Right to Work state.

Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) authored and House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) co-authored House Bill 1001, Employee’s Right to Work which states that an employee cannot be forced to join or financially support a union in order to get or keep a job.

On November 21, 2011 Speaker Bosma announced that his number one priority this session would focus on Right to Work and bringing more jobs to Indiana. “With the latest unemployment number stubbornly hovering at 9 percent, it is critical that we bring more employment opportunities to Indiana and give Hoosiers the freedom to choose how their hard earned money is spent.”

Online censorship: Is the fight over?

It was a magical day.  Wikipedia, Google, and a host of other websites stood up against the United States government and said, “No!” to their attempts to control the internet in a vain attempt to combat online piracy.  Sponsors of SOPA and PIPA began to jump ship like rats on the Titanic.  Honestly, it was a great day to be a libertarian.

However, it’s important to note that the fight is far from over.  Not only are SOPA and PIPA still around and far from dead, but there is another potential threat: The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA.

The ACTA may actually be worse than SOPA or PIPA.  You see, ACTA isn’t a bill before Congress, but an international treaty.  What’s worse, we’ve already signed it.

President Obama, acting as President of the United States, signed the treaty and has argued that ACTA doesn’t require ratification by Congress and is instead handled by a mechanism called “executive agreement”.  Is this legal?

Well, my understanding of law is better than most, but I’m always willing to defer to people who clearly know more than me.  From Legal As She Is Spoke:

Gary Johnson Could Be a Problem for Everybody

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is often viewed as a bastion of liberalism. It’s regularly excoriated by Republican politicians and pundits alike who want to pander to social conservatives because the ACLU has often led the opposition against SoCon attempts to impose their religious practices and moral values on the entire nation. Even libertarian and libertarian-leaning Republicans are often afraid to make nice with the ACLU. One libertarian who’s not afraid is former Governor Gary Johnson (L-N.M.), who met recently with the ACLU executive board and a group of staffers. From Reason:

It wasn’t until he got started on legalizing marijuana that the crowd (figuratively) lit up. A steady stream of applause followed Johnson’s declarations after that.

“I support gay marriage equality. I support repealing the PATRIOT Act. I would have vetoed the Department of Homeland Security, because I think it’s redundant. I would’ve never established the department of—the TSA agency. I think we should end the practices of torture. Period. I can understand the complexities in the following, but I think we should end the practices of detainment without being charged. There is nothing I want to see the government come in and fix with the Internet.”

Johnson also emphasized differences between himself and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.):

 

“I don’t think that Ron Paul is going to win the Republican nomination. For the most part, we are talking about the same message, but we do have differences. And when he drops out, or finds an end to the Republican primary, I don’t see this agenda moving forward,” Johnson said.

MF Global’s Corzine raised $500,000 for Obama

While President Barack Obama often rails against corporate greed and expresses a desire to hike taxes on “millionaires and billionaires,” Wall Street executives — the very same corporatists that conluded with Washington to bring us TARP — are sending a substantial amount of money to his campaign. Justin Elliott explains over at Slate:

The consensus view of President Obama’s State of the Union address is that it was a “populist pitch” that sought to, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “tap widespread anti-Wall Street sentiment and voter anger about economic disparity without scaring independents.”

That take on the Obama reelection campaign strategy is in line with what we’ve been hearing for months out of the White House, which previewed the concept to the Washington Post as early as October, just as the Occupy movement was getting underway.

The tension or perhaps contradiction with this strategy is that, as I’ve been documenting, this administration and the Democratic Party are not fundamentally anti-Wall Street institutions. They have deep ties to the financial services industry.

Aspects of that relationship that have surfaced recently include: Obama’s hiring as a top campaign aide of Broderick Johnson, who had been pursuing a lucrative career lobbying for the big banks; the fact that executives of Bain Capital have contributed generously to Democratic campaigns in recent years; and so on.

Libertarians Should Reject Anti-Capitalist, Statist Campaign Tactics

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has turned ugly over these past few weeks thanks primarily to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), whose campaigns have resorted to an “everything but the kitchen sink” smear campaign to destroy former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.). Both Gingrich and Santorum have attacked Romney’s success in the private sector by criticizing his work at Bain Capital and relentlessly demanding that he release his tax returns. Gingrich’s campaign upped the ante when it unleashed a robocall slamming Romney for vetoing additional funding for kosher kitchens in nursing homes as Governor of Massachusetts. Apparently fiscal restraint has now joined business success in this race’s growing list of taboos.

Ron Paul Could Have a Very Good Weekend

Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) was the big winner last night in Florida. The Sunshine State is a winner-take-all state, which means that Romney took all fifty of Florida’s GOP delegates and is now leading in the delegate count. But as The Christian Science Monitor points out, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) could emerge as another big winner by week’s end:

This week, Ron Paul is likely to win more delegates to the 2012 GOP convention than either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. In fact, he’s likely to win more delegates than Gingrich and Santorum combined.

 

“Hold it”, you’re saying, “How can that be? Rep. Paul’s polling in single digits in Florida. He’s going to finish behind Gingrich and Santorum, as well as Mitt Romney, in Tuesday’s Florida primary. How can that translate into beating any of his rivals at all?”

 

We’ll tell you how – because he’s not winning those delegates in Florida. He’s winning, or will probably win, at least a few delegates in Maine.

Indeed, while the other three remaining Republican candidates have been busy in Florida, Paul has been focusing his time and energy on a strong finish if not a win in the Pine Tree State and in Nevada. Solid performances this weekend could give Paul momentum and energize his supporters headed into the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses next Tuesday.

Looking ahead in the race for the GOP nomination

As had come to be expected in days prior, Mitt Romney took Florida easily last night over Newt Gingrich, who defiantly promised to press on for the forseeable future despite the struggling to win a state where he had a lead a week before the primary.

Here are the results of the Florida Republican primary:

  • Mitt Romney: 46%
  • Newt Gingrich: 32%
  • Rick Santorum: 13%
  • Ron Paul: 7%

Romney wins all of the state’s 50 delegates, which was cut by 50% per Republican National Committee rules due to the Florida GOP holding its primary before March 6th (Super Tuesday). Gingrich wins nothing and the momentum he had built after South Carolina has been squandered after a couple bad debate performances, particularly the one in Jacksonville last Thursday.

So where is the race as it stands now? It appears that Gingrich doesn’t have high hopes for the Nevada and Minnesota caucuses. You’d have to expect Ron Paul to be a factor in both of those states, where his campaign directed its focus instead of competing Florida. However, Super Tuesday, which will include his home state of Georgia, may offer more to Gingrich. We’ll get a clearer picture of what to expect next month in the coming days as polling firms will no doubt provide us with plenty of numbers.

 


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