Thursday, May 19, 2016
Nuns Defeat Obama in Court
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of religious liberty Monday and handed yet another defeat to Barack Obama. In light of all the insanity with transgenderism and bathrooms in recent weeks, this comes as great news for Little Sisters of the Poor and others who “bitterly cling” to deeply held religious beliefs and the Constitution. To be sure, Obama has had a bad run with the courts lately, having lost on ObamaCare last week and received numerous rebukes for EPA regulations. His immigration actions also ran aground in lower courts, and may likewise end in a Supreme Court loss.
For the Little Sisters, the High Court’s ruling is a huge victory, giving them the ability to operate under their religious convictions. Further, the ruling means that they will not have to pay $70 million in fines per year for not complying with ObamaCare’s onerous contraceptive mandate.
As Roger Severino and Elizabeth Slattery of the Heritage Foundation note, “[T]he Supreme Court now says that ‘the government may not impose taxes or penalties on petitioners for failure to provide the relevant notice.’ This is precisely what the Little Sisters of the Poor have been asking for as relief.” Further, it means that “all the lower court opinions that went against the religious freedom of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the other religious nonprofits are wiped away and their flawed reasoning cannot be used as precedent in the future.”
To clarify, the Supreme Court in its unanimous decision did not rule on the merits of the case, meaning that the case will be kicked back to the lower courts for further consideration. Further, the Court did not rule on whether the law addresses a compelling state interest. Yet while it seems like the court punted this case, it really didn’t.
National Review’s David French highlights why: “First, the Supreme Court vacated the lower court ruling holding that the Little Sisters had to facilitate access to contraceptives and [denying] that the mandate substantially burdened their religion. When the court vacates a ruling that you’re challenging, that’s a win. Second, the Supreme Court provided a roadmap for an excellent resolution to the case — by outlining the accommodation it suggested, the Little Sisters endorsed, and the government reluctantly agreed to.”
Moreover, the Court’s decision was unanimous, while most political analysts expected a 4-4 split that would have allowed a ruling against the Little Sisters to stand. Given the context of this case, it’s the second time the Supreme Court has pushed back against Obama’s regulatory efforts to restrict religious liberty, and this case is another setback for Obama’s contraception/abortifacient mandate.
Unfortunately, from a strategic viewpoint, Obama has accomplished a lot in pushing for left-wing causes, and in doing so, he has tied up conservative resources beating back his advances. In all of his mandates, edicts and overreaches, he moves the needle further left and takes credit for doing so. He creates a political issue out of everything, and faithful leftists everywhere will defend him and demand even more.
The contraception mandate that he imposed on religious organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor was never really about providing contraception, it was about power.
After the Court’s ruling, Obama spun the decision, saying, “The practical effect is, right now, that women will still continue to be able to get contraception if they are getting health insurance.”
“Be able to get”? Translation: Most Americans will still be mandated to buy health insurance from companies that are forced to provide certain benefits. Obama also insisted that his administration is already “properly accommodating religious institutions who have objections to contraception.” That’s because the Court has in essence ruled that Obama can’t violate their objections.
So while this was not a decisive victory in the courts, it is nevertheless a significant win for Little Sisters of the Poor, their petitioners and ultimately for religious liberty. Perhaps slowly chipping away at ObamaCare mandates will lead to full repeal of it. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.
Top Obama Official's Racist Rant
Speaking to graduates of Florida International University, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice lamented on Wednesday that there are too many white people in top government positions. The lack of diversity, she added, puts our nation at risk because they all think alike.
Referring to criticism that the U.S. national security workforce is “white, male and Yale,” Ms. Rice told the graduates, “In the halls of power, in the faces of our national security leaders, America is still not fully reflected.”
“By now, we should all know the dangers of ‘groupthink,’ where folks who are alike often think alike,” she said. “By contrast, groups comprised of different people tend to question one another’s assumptions, draw on divergent perspectives and experiences, and yield better outcomes.”
Her comments were reminiscent of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said in a speech in 2001, before Mr. Obama appointed her to the high court, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
Diverse leaders, she said, “can often come up with more creative insights, proffer alternative solutions and thus make better decisions.”
One has to wonder if by making “better decisions” she means lying about the Benghazi attack being the result of a YouTube video? Or how about playing politicswith the Rwandan genocide, attacking Israel for its settlement policy, or praising a hardline communist as “brilliant”?
The internet’s war on free speech
The web was meant to empower us all. Right now, it’s empowering censors
The dream of internet freedom has died. What a dream it was. Twenty years ago, nerdy libertarians hailed the web as the freest public sphere that mankind had ever created. The Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, written in 1996 by John Perry Barlow, warned the ‘governments of the industrial world’, those ‘weary giants of flesh and steel’, that they had ‘no sovereignty where we gather’. The ‘virus of liberty’ was spreading, it said.
Now it seems that the virus has been wiped out. We live our online lives in a dystopian nightmare of Twittermobs, ‘safety councils’, official procedures for ‘forgetting’ inconvenient facts, and the arrest of people for being offensive. The weary giants are asserting their censorious sovereignty.
This week it was revealed that Facebook has been suppressing news stories from conservative sources. Facebook, used by 1.6 billion people, bigs itself up as a neutral distributor of news and facilitator of global chat. Yet, according to a former editor there, popular conservative stories are often kept off Facebook’s trending bar, either because the curator ‘didn’t recognise the news topic’ or ‘they had a bias’.
People log on to Facebook imagining that the stories they see are chosen by user ‘likes’, rather than by editors who decide what us web plebs should and shouldn’t know. In truth, this stuff is curated for us by our moral betters in Silicon Valley, who dish up decent liberal stories that might enlighten our mushy minds while hiding weird conservative news that might turn us Obama-phobic or funny about immigration.
The most surprising thing about this Facebook story was that anyone was surprised. Social media sites, vast planets of cyberspace, may advertise themselves as free meeting points for humanity, but for a couple of years now they’ve been casting out moral undesirables, blocking the offensive and engaging in political censorship.
Facebook has suspended gay users who have reclaimed the term ‘faggot’ to describe themselves. The former punk and proud tranny Jayne County has been thrown off Facebook for using the word ‘tranny’. After the Paris terror attacks, the comedian Jason Manford had his page taken down after he said that if God wanted the killers to do this, then He was a ‘massive c**t’.
Last month Facebook deleted a post criticising gay marriage, written by a Sydney academic, on the grounds that it breached ‘community standards’. The post was only reinstated when Tim Wilson, a former Australian human-rights commissioner, accused Facebook of censorship. If you’re conservative, don’t like mass immigration or cleave to the Christian view of marriage, watch your words online.
Facebook’s bans are political. In September last year Angela Merkel was overheard asking Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, what he planned to do about offensive posts about the refugee crisis. ‘We need to do some work,’ he said. And he did. In February he said that in Germany, ‘with the migrant crisis here and all the sensitivity around that’, his service would clamp down on xenophobic posts.
Twitter, too, polices its users’ chat. It once described itself as ‘the free-speech wing of the free-speech party’; now it has its own Trust and Safety Council, stuffed with NGO people and feminists who aim to make it more ‘pleasant’. This isn’t about banning morons who make death threats; it’s about morally managing the conversation. In the words of Twitter’s British head of policy, Nick Pickles, the web has helped to make ‘challenging, even upsetting viewpoints… more visible’ in a way that is ‘not always comfortable’. So Twitter must think up ways of ‘drowning out’ uncomfortable viewpoints.
We’re witnessing a massive shift in the whole idea of the internet; from an open platform for the discussion of ideas to something that must be moderated and editorialised. Some argue that, as privately owned platforms, Facebook and Twitter are free to publish or take down anything they like. But it’s more complicated than that. These are vast entities. A full seventh of humanity uses Facebook. This gives it historically unprecedented clout. Facebook has more power to shape the agenda than any media mogul, pope or king in history. He who controls Facebook’s trending bar controls the present. Being turfed off the site for saying stuff its bosses don’t like seriously degrades your ability to be an engaged public person.
Facebook is now effectively the biggest public square in history; if we don’t have free speech there, we have a problem. Moreover, Facebook and Twitter’s move towards censoriousness isn’t simply a case of private companies doing their own thing. State bodies are pressuring internet giants to restrict free expression. From the Culture Select Committee’s grilling of Twitter bosses in 2013 over their failure to tackle ‘trolls’ to Merkel’s pressure on Zuckerberg, we’re witnessing attempts by the state to outsource censorship to private companies.
Consider the right to be forgotten. Endorsed by the European Court of Justice two years ago, this ‘right’ allows people to call on Google to remove from its search results links to old news reports about themselves that they find embarrassing. In the first year, there were 218,320 requests for links to be removed; 101,461 were granted. That’s 101,461 pieces of information you’ll never find if Google is your main means of perusing the past. One of the great liberties of cyberspace — the freedom to rummage through the events and ideas of yesterday — has been pummelled.
Increasingly the state is barging into the online world. In Britain hundreds have been arrested for the crime of being grossly offensive online. Between November 2010 and November 2013, more than 350 people were arrested for stuff they said on social media. In 2014, a 19-year-old was arrested after tweeting a joke about the Glasgow Christmas lorry crash that killed six people. Police Scotland took to Twitter to issue an unfunny warning: ‘Please be aware that we will continue to monitor comments on social media and any offensive comments will be investigated.’
Last month, Greater Glasgow Police went one better, instructing people to ‘Think… before you post’. Before we tweet or blog something, they said, we should ask ourselves: ‘Is it true? Is it hurtful? Is it illegal? Is it necessary? Is it kind?’
What’s with this Stalin-like invasion of the realm of speech? When the Chinese erected their Great Firewall online in 1997, Europeans scoffed. The internet was unpoliceable, they said; the wall would fall. Instead, we’re copying the Chinese approach. China’s Internet Surveillance Division has two cartoon police characters which warn web users to avoid posting ‘sensitive’ or ‘harmful’ material online; British cops now do the same.
It’s hard to remember a time when the state and assorted moralists have been so open about their urge to crush offensive thoughts. The Blairite idea of hate crime, under which everything from infantile racist blather to the mocking of the religious came to be considered criminal, has mashed together with technology and its speeding-up of the culture of complaint to give rise to some of the strictest constraints on thought and speech in British history.
Last month, the Guardian launched a campaign against the openness of the web, demanding something be done about the ‘dark side’ of online chat. Maria Miller, who chairs the Women and Equalities Select Committee, got in on the act. She said we needed ways to curb abusive commentary online because, in making some web users feel scared, such trolling can ‘actually stifle debate, lead to censorship’. So, the argument goes, we need censorship in order to guarantee a better kind of free speech. This is the digital world we all increasingly inhabit, where freedom is censorship, and censorship is freedom.
Bosses should be able to tell staff to wear whatever shoe fits the job
By KATIE HOPKINS
I watched MPs debate whether to ban Donald Trump from the UK in disbelief. Elected politicians, discussing a nonsense topic just because cretins with too much time on their hands clicked on another pathetic petition.
Here we go again. This time, our paid representatives in parliament will be discussing a far more pressing matter of the moment. Women's shoes.
It turns out the big question facing our nation when we are under threat of a terror attack and the NHS is in crisis, is should women have to wear heels at work.
Brilliant! Focus at its finest. Call Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and get me some podiatry police.
Thanks to 100,000 muppets signing another blasted petition started by a woman sent home from a temp job for not wearing heels, Parliament is obliged to respond.
She says she is an actor. I understand this to be code for receptionist, whether that's in PwC or KFC.
I should confess. I am not one for a heel. With every year that passes, my love for them fades. Happily I am my own master, and have reached a point in my career where the shoe on my foot no longer represents me, my mighty mouth or the organisations good enough to employ me.
I go shiny flats. Or lesbian lace-ups as my gay mates tease. Mainly because I need to move at speed and straight men find me intimidating enough without me towering over them as well.
My old boss liked his female staff in heels. At my introductory lunch a senior female on the staff apologised for not giving me the heads up about my ugly feet. I told her I liked my feet to match my face. We've not spoken since.
But despite having kicked off heels for good, I do understand the need for rules especially in a fluid work place where staff churn is high.
You might think people will dress appropriately for their job out of pride. But you would be sorely mistaken. Given half a chance temp staff rock up in the same gear they crashed out in after drinks at a party. Or flip flops and a tutu.
How you are supposed to represent a large corporate in beach gear is beyond me. Even if you work in the media and have manicured your feet to perfection, I don't want to see them or hear them as you slap, slap, slap, slap off to Prêt on the coffee run.
When you are working your way up the ladder, you keep your head down and do what you are told.
When I worked in the Wimpy for £1.40 an hour at 14, I served Bender Burgers in red dungarees shoved so high up my crotch they itched the back of my throat. As the Pick 'n' Mix girl at Woolworths, I wore a cheap polyester dress and overall with black ballet flats and 15 denier regulation American Tan tights.
And as a Security Guard for Disneyland Paris, I collected a freshly pressed policeman's outfit from backstage at Disney each day. The French don't even trust their staff to wash. Wisely so.
Staff need to dress appropriately for the message their employer is trying to send. And perhaps temping firms need to make these rules black or white for efficiency's sake. They can't discuss every shoe every day for every temp. So the rules need to be binary. This or that. Yes or no. Stop or go.
Heels rules out Crocs, Birkenstocks or flip flops. Praise be for that.
And if you don't like it, go and find another job where you can walk bare foot, expressing yourself through the medium of mime and dance. Like a real actor... for example.
If your heels hurt - like the picture of the bloodied feet of an American waitress on Facebook, then use your wages to buy shoes which actually fit. Shoving hot feet into plastic is the podiatry equivalent of using a hairdryer on vaginal thrush.
Americans don't do sympathy. And I love it. Hire and fire at will. Six weeks' unpaid maternity leave. And two weeks' holiday if you're lucky. In the States, your place in the food chain is far more clear.
Clear rules help everyone get along. Rules are - by nature - equal. You just need to work with them.
During my time at Sandhurst, regulation boots were issued in one standard fit. There were no such thing as men's or women's. I became an expert at threading cotton through blisters to drain away the ooze and toughen my feet up the hard way.
I'd argue many women's interpretation of the business smart rule book has gone too far, opening up a yawning gulf between them and their male peers. A blouse and a M&S Cardigan is not a suit. Even if you did get it in the sale and Pam from HR says it looks lovely.
Uniform, even the uniform of business, has flexibility in it. You just have to find the flex which works for you. OK so you have to wear heels? Find the comfiest, smallest heel you can afford.
I understand the feminazis love fighting and are always looking for the next scrap on their vagenda.
But after many years crusading for votes for women, equal pay, representation in the boardroom, female faces on bank bills, maternity rights and an end to the tampon tax, I just wonder when they will look up from fighting battles to see the war is won.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.