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Posts in Politics
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Does religious freedom mean the freedom to decide what kind of Christian you will be? Some people believe this – that religious freedom applies only to Christians. Others are somewhat magnanimous, extending that freedom to all the religious. Then there are actually those who think, gasp, that religious freedom extends to everyone, including the non-religious, and includes the freedom not to believe. (By the way, this is what the authors of the First Amendment believed, but you won’t find that in Scalia’s “original intent”).

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HAVE YOU BEEN SERVED?

The shunning of those who do not agree has a long history, dating back to as far as we have records. Refusal of service for those you dislike or disagree with has been on the Republican wish list for some time, and in a recent Supreme Court case, they got at least part of what they want (more on that in a later column!) when the court allowed a baker to refuse to make a cake for a gay couple. In addition, a number of so-called religious freedom acts have been enshrining the right of people to refuse service to those they disapprove of on religious grounds…usually same sex couples, but also women who want birth control, mixed race couples, trans-people, and any others who meet the definition of religiously unacceptable. Many on the left are using this as justification for refusing service – we’re simply doing to them what they have demanded. Just make it on religious grounds, some say. Others say they have an ethical imperative not to serve evil people.

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THOSE DAMNED COASTAL ELITES

Hi, there, “coastal elites”. A message for you from flyover country. I’ve been living here for most of my life now (like, decades!) and I have been watching with fascination as the pundits have been fingering you for being out of touch, misguided, and contemptuous of those of us here in the heartland. I would just like to add my voice to the mix, as someone who has actually lived in flyover country (unlike most of the people writing the pieces about flyover country, who have mostly flown over, and decided to stop over for a night or two and talk to the first six people they met before they hopped back on the plane to write a piece about flyover country from the enormous experience they had just acquired).

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THE DOVISH WING OF THE WAR ON TRUMP

About that time, I found myself wondering whether these street protests were going to become a regular feature of the Stable Genius’ tenure in office, as with the Vietnam and civil rights era protests; extended campaigns such as these require a considerable attention span and public stamina, qualities which meseems are difficult to find huge quantities of in America today.

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YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

I was reading an article related to the Janus case – you know, the case working its way through the Supreme Court related to unions. The gist of the matter is whether unions can collect fees from non-union members to cover the costs of negotiations, since non-union members benefit from the negotiations. In the past, the Supreme Court has upheld this practice, and 21 states currently have that provision. This case is asking them to reconsider it, alleging that it is a violation of the free speech of non-union employees who might object to the political activities of the union. The money collected for the fees is supposed to be used solely for the purpose of negotiations.

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THE DONALD AND THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

Logicians tell us that the “slippery slope”, an argument which posits that one seemingly reasonable concession on societal values, or most any argument, will lead to  less reasonable and more destructive consequences, is a weak one.  And it causes this writer considerable discomfort to admit that our President got something right; thus, this post begins life with two strikes against it.

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LOOK, POPPA, JUNIOR’S A PUNDIT!

Last week my inner political junkie kicked in, and I decided to watch some late-night C-SPAN.  What they offered me was watching a young lady with the same unusual surname as a well-known ABC financial reporter holding forth on the administration’s regulatory policies.  I had just finished reading a magazine column by a man with the same unusual surname as an even better-known CNN anchorman.  My apologies to all concerned if I jumped to an incorrect conclusion, but it occurred to me that these might be relatives, perhaps even children, of their entrenched media celebrity sires.  That’s called nepotism, and it’s still nepotism even if you’re the finest political analyst of your generation.

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HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER

Whenever one happened by our neighborhood grocery store all summer, parked there in the outlying area that employees use was a pickup truck decorated with stickers of the Confederate battle flag and captioned with the friendly reminder that “If this offends you, you need a history lesson”.  Now, I’m not sure that the stickers offended me, exactly—“annoyed” seems the more appropriate verb—since, having earned somewhere north of 125 college credit hours in history, I’m certain that said stickers were not directed at me, as I’m sure the owner of the truck would agree if he were informed of the fact. 

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THE BOOK

Well, Hillary’s book is out, and the critics are all over it…hating the book, hating Hillary, telling Hillary to go away already. This critique was not leveled at Bernie Sanders when he wrote his book after losing the primary. It was not leveled at Al Gore after winning the votes but losing the election (in fact, Al Gore has made two movies since the 2000 debacle). Michelle and Barack Obama have both signed large contracts for books. Bill Clinton wrote a book about his experience in the presidency. While these books were not loved by all (but by some, of course), there was no almost unanimous outcry that these major players on the political scene should just sit down and shut up. What’s the difference? The difference is Hillary.

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HOW MUCH DEMOCRACY?

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve watched or read some pundit or egghead tell me over the past two years that this time The Donald has gone too far and surely outraged the American people beyond their outmost limits, I’d be having two toppings on the pizza tonight and have enough left over to take the nephews for ice cream afterward.   All this public outrage, of course, put him into the White House.  And don’t let some spin doctor tell you that he’s become less popular whilst there—his favorability rating was 37% on election night, and, though it’s declined marginally at a couple of points, basically, there it still stands.  

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The Liberal Academy

In recent decades, Republicans have developed a strong distaste for higher education. They criticize it at every turn, complaining about the liberal bias of universities. And they do seem to have a point; study after study has pointed to a strong tendency for liberal arts programs to hire mostly liberal professors. This fact has generated barrels of ink on forests worth of paper, decrying the propagandizing of our youth, and the refusal to hire conservative thinkers. Many liberal pundits and journalists appear to agree with them, chastising their own for the terrible refusal to allow conservative thought to get a hearing. I would like to join my voice to the noisy throng.

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Identity Politics

One of the common memes going around the punditry today is that the Democrats lost the election because of identity politics. This is meant to say that, because the Democrats are the party connected with Civil Rights for people of color and Equal Rights for women, they are making big mistakes and ignoring a group of hard-working, honest, tax-paying people - in short, white men. The commentary has routinely suggested that the Democrats should abandon this stance and start listening to the people variously termed "working class", "flyover country", "gun-owning, church-going patriots", or, in rare moments of honesty, "white men".

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