Hobby Lobby wasn’t really about birth control, it was about an abuse of government power

On January 8, 2012, former Clinton spokesperson in his putative role as objective moderator of a Republican presidential primary debate fired the first warning shot in what soon became known as the “War on Women.” He asked the candidates if birth control was included in the right to privacy and if states had the right to ban it.

In what was surely a total coincidence (totally, you guys!), just days later the Obama administration would declare the federal contraception mandate for all insurance-providing companies to provide copay-free birth control in their coverage.

The War was on, contraceptives instantly became a legal right (read: entitlement), anyone who opposed forcing companies to pay for them hated women, the term “slut” became both an intolerable slur and a badge of honor, the administration and the courts both carved out religious exemptions that shrill harpies decried as emerging theocracy, and men were suddenly illegitimate politically since only women were justified in voting on health issues.

All of this is, of course, ridiculous. But the issue is now so viscerally charged that it is untouchable in the public discourse. So let’s uncharge it with a hypothetical allegory.

WHAT IF…

As part of a new Healthy America plan, Congress passed a comprehensive nutrition, exercise, and health bill, including a federal mandate for all employers with over 50 employees that requires they have a cafeteria that provides balanced meals to all employees working at least 30 hours per week.

Today in Liberty: House Republicans ramp up scrutiny of crony Ex-Im, NSA probably has your “compromising” selfies

“It constantly amazes me that defenders of the free market are expected to offer certainty and perfection while government has only to make promises and express good intentions. Many times, for instance, I’ve heard people say, ‘A free market in education is a bad idea because some child somewhere might fall through the cracks,’ even though in today’s government school, millions of children are falling through the cracks every day.” — Lawrence W. Reed

#IAmUnitedLiberty: Carl Oberg saw first-hand how the sausage is made by bureaucrats and that turned him into a libertarian

Carl Oberg

Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and friends and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

Carl Oberg has a great story about how he became involved in the liberty movement and, eventually, signed onto work as the executive director of the Foundation for Economic Education. Simply put, he saw first-hand how federal bureaucrats are influenced by special interests to make policy.

“I worked for seven years for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. So, I was a federal bureaucrat,” Oberg told United Liberty over the weekend at FreedomFest. “And seven years of federal bureaucrat work taught me that I needed to be more of a libertarian, basically.”

Oberg says that his work was in trade policy and he traveled around the world to learn how trade policy is put together, or, as he put it, how the sausage is made. “I learned that it’s a messed up process. It’s a process that’s captured by special interests. And it’s a process that really doesn’t make any logical sense,” he explained. “It’s there to serve corporate interests in America.”

In his down time, Oberg said that he began reading the websites of various libertarian-leaning organizations, including the Foundation for Economic Education, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and the Cato Institute.

“I started going to Cato events on my lunch hour in D.C., and started to educate myself. Finally, in December of 2007, I quit my job and I went back to grad school at George Mason University, and got a master’s in economics,” said Oberg. “While I was there, I interned at Cato and interned at a couple other places in D.C.”

Sorry, Chuck Schumer, Ted Cruz is right about Democrats’ plans to repeal political speech protections in the First Amendment

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) touched a nerve when he blasted Senate Democrats for the constitutional amendment they want to pass that would ostensibly repeal the political speech protections of the First Amendment.

Politico Magazine ran a piece earlier this week by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in which they claimed Cruz is wrong because of certain “balancing tests” on free speech.

Basically, the two Democrats compare their absurdly unreasonable constitutional amendment to completely reasonable limitations on free speech, including safety restrictions, laws against libel, and — drumroll, please — prohibitions on child pornography. Yeah, really, they went there (emphasis added):

Ex-NY Times editor: Yeah, the Obama administration is pretty much the worst when it comes to transparency

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest probably isn’t having a great day. Over the weekend, the newly installed chief spokesman for the administration told ABC News’ This Week that President Barack Obama is “absolutely” the most transparent president in history.

Former New York Times editor Jill Abramson, however, disagrees. She appeared on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren and gave a scathing critique of the Obama administration’s record on transparency.

“I have never dealt with an administration where more officials — some of whom are actually paid to be the spokesmen for various federal agencies — demand that everything be off the record,” said Abramson. “So that’s secretive and not transparent.”

“But the most serious thing is the Obama administration has launched eight criminal leak investigations against sources and whistleblowers. And they have tried to sweep in journalists, including — it’s almost the one-year anniversary exactly that your colleague, James Rosen, had his record secretly looked at by the government in a leak investigation,” she added.

This isn’t the first time Abramson has criticized the administration on transparency. In January, she said that the Obama White House is “the most secretive” that she’s ever covered in her 22-year career, which dates back to President Ronald Reagan.

Stop Obama’s Crony Bank: Ex-Im distorts the free market by doling out billions to politically-connected big businesses

Tell Congress to Stop Obama's Crony Bank

Congress will soon consider reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a New Deal-era agency that exists solely to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to foreign corporations to buy goods from companies based in the United States.

Ensuring Ex-Im’s survival has become a pet cause for the cronies at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other special interest groups. While its supporters claim that the Ex-Im helps small business, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Export-Import Bank has become an ATM for big business, doling out billions in corporate welfare to the politically-connected.

Boeing received nearly $8 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees from the Export-Import Bank in FY 2013. That’s 66 percent of the loan guarantees it made in that fiscal year. Perhaps that’s why Ex-Im has earned the nickname “Boeing’s bank.” Caterpillar hauled in $1.34 billion and General Electric received $1.7 billion.

In 2008, Barack Obama, then a candidate for president, called out the Export-Import Bank for what it really is: “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” That was true then, as it is today.

But, like he’s done on so many other issues, Obama changed his position once he took up residence in the White House. In 2012, Obama successfully lobbied Congress to save Ex-Im. And Obama wants Congress to rubber stamp reauthorization of the crony Bank again this year.

Military intervention in Libya failed: United Nations pulls out of Tripoli due to violence caused by Islamic radicals

Muammar Gaddafi addresses the United Nations

In 2011, NATO decided it was a good idea to intercede in Libya, and try something that western powers had done many times before in the Middle East and North Africa — remove a dictator. This is something that plays well with westerners, because they are generally of the opinion that dictatorships are bad, even when they happen to be in nations with governments that are slowly taking control of every aspect of their lives.

The problem is a cultural divide, and a failure of understanding. What cannot be comprehended is that while dictators are viewed as bad in western culture, they’re usually a necessary evil or even a good thing in regions where Islam has a strong foothold.

While it might be tempting to doubt that, consider how wonderfully things have gone in Iraq and Egypt, just to name two nations, since their respective “authoritarian albeit generally secular” leaders have been removed. Libya is facing similar issues.

Muammar Gaddafi was at best eccentric, at worst insane. Yes, he did involve himself in at least a few conspiracies to attack western powers, but when it came to dealing with Libya, he tended to keep the people from doing what they are now.

When he was in power, sectarian violence was kept under control, and if someone disagreed with Gaddafi, they were silenced. That doesn’t look anything like democracy, but democracy doesn’t look anything like what the people of that region have ever had, even in times when they have lived in relative peace.

Crazy Uncle Joe Biden admits Barack Obama hasn’t lived up to the “change” he promised

Speaking at an event hosted by Generation Progress, the student arm of the leftist Center for American Progress, Vice President Joe Biden admitted that the “change” then-candidate Barack Obama promised in 2008 hasn’t happened.

“Look, folks, this is within our power to change. Everybody says because we tried in ‘08 and it didn’t happen, it’s not possible,” Biden told student activists. “Wrong. We’ve gone through these periods before,” he said, pointing to examples he experienced in his career.

“But folks, this is totally within our power. Change. Change for the better is absolutely possible, and I believe it’s close to inevitable, if you’re the drivers of it,” he added.

To some degree, President Obama has lived up to his promise. He has, for example, managed to consume more power for the executive branch, leaving the legislative branch as an afterthought in his approach to governance. That could have serious consequences for Americans given that presidents typically take the powers left by their predecessor as a floor, not a ceiling.

Today in Liberty: Darrell Issa may hold White House official in contempt, Senate Republicans block anti-Hobby Lobby bill

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

— Issa may take action against defiant White House official: David Simas, director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, may find himself in contempt of Congress for his refusal to testify yesterday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on violations on the Hatch Act. “I can’t rule it in or out, yet,” said Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), according to Politico. “I can’t answer what we will do in this case, but I can tell you that there is a similar case that occurred under President [George W.] Bush and the similarities are significant.” Democrats on the committee, of course, defended the White House, which has ostensibly claimed executive privilege in order to prevent Simas from testifying. Because, you know, the suspicious political activities of the White House are basically state secrets. Or something.

There was a huge win for the Internet yesterday, but now crony senators are pushing the Obama-backed online sales tax again

Fresh off a victory in the House of Representatives to keep the Internet access tax-free and promote innovation online, consumers may now have to brace for another push in the Senate for the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act,” a crony measure backed by brick-and-mortar retailers that would allow states to impose online sales taxes:

Senate supporters believe they have a perfect vehicle [for the online sales tax bill]: the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a relatively uncontroversial measure, which sailed through the House on Tuesday, that would extend a long-standing ban on state and local taxes on Internet access.

“Why wouldn’t we?” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), a longtime supporter of online sales tax legislation, said when asked if he planned to attach the Marketplace Fairness Act to the bill. “They’re a perfect fit.”

Enzi and several other senators released their new bill on Tuesday, which would attach the online sales tax measure to a 10-year extension of the Internet freedom bill. The House passed a permanent version of the online access bill on Tuesday.

 


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