Mar 11, 2014, 12:28pm | Guy Benson
A scion of privilege whose political career is owed to a prominent surname may not be in the strongest position to critique others for being “entitled.” Futher suggesting that this imputed sense of “entitlement” stems from his opponent’s distinguished military service crosses the boundaries of painful self-unawareness into political self-immolation. And Sen. Mark Pryor’s re-election bid may be burning to the ground:
In Arkansas, a new poll reveals just how important a high turnout will be for Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who is fighting to keep his seat in the U.S. Senate. Pryor, who has been called the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the 2014 cycle, continues to lag behind his GOP challenger Rep. Tom Cotton. A poll released Monday by Hickman Analytics Inc. shows Cotton with 51 percent support compared to 42 percent for Pryor among voters most likely to turn out in November. Though Pryor has used the firm for polling in the past, he is not currently a client, according to his campaign. Among a broader swath of voters, including those less likely to turnout, Pryor closes the gap with Cotton, with the candidates each tallying 46 percent.
So according to Pryor’s former pollster, the Democrat now trails Rep. Tom Cotton by nine points among the likeliest voters, but manages to pull even if an atypical swath of the electorate turns out for him in November. Will the Democratic cavalry come to his aid? It’s too early to tell, but please direct your attention to an item I posted in mid-January which may be instructive. To recap, a conservative Republican won an Obamacare-focused Arksansas State Senate special election in an historically Democratic district, and in which he was outspent three-to-one. Final margin: 14 points. The vanquished Democrat under-performed in Craighead County, a crucial bellwether area of the district, where Mark Pryor will need to over-perform this fall to have a chance. According to the poll cited above, Pryor is still right-side-up on personal favorability (47/36), but is being weighed down by a deeply unpopular president. The US News write-up says that the incumbent is trying to distance himself from Obamacare, for which he cast the deciding vote, and to which he’s referred as an “amazing success story.”
Mar 10, 2014, 11:27am | Guy Benson
Attention, Sen. Reid and friends — the Nashua Telegraph has published a negative personal testimonial from yet another Obamacare “liar.” Please debunk her Koch-funded lies as soon as possible, lest her fellow citizens
begin continue to suspect that your signature law is hurting people. Meet Helen DePrima of Bedford, New Hampshire (a constituent of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen):
We were always happy with our health care coverage. My husband and I have been on the same plan since 1972, when my husband graduated from vet school. We liked our plan and wanted to keep it – it provided us excellent coverage and served our needs perfectly. Not anymore. Thanks to Obamacare, our happy relationship with our health insurance ended in November 2012 after 40 years. That’s when we received notification that our health insurance plan would cease to exist as of Dec. 31, 2013…Now that our original insurance is gone, we have poorer quality supplemental coverage at a higher cost. Some of the prescriptions our previous policy paid for are now “disallowed” – if we want to continue taking them, it’s on our nickel completely. One of my prescriptions cost me twice the amount out-of-pocket than under our old plan. The agent who helped us transition to the replacement plan calculated that we’ll pay more than $10,000 per year…Such are the results of the badly-misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Protecting patients from what? Caring by canceling our insurance and worsening our coverage? And affordable? Hardly! … The whole law – from its name to its effects – is one bad joke. I just wish the punch line was funny.
As Erika noted over the weekend, one influential union has been blasting away at Obamacare, highlighting the fact that the law is adversely impacting its low-to-middle income members. While the Obama administration wants to reduce income inequality by erecting barriers to job creation, the president’s top domestic ‘achievement’ is exacerbating that very gap among some of his strongest supporters. Some unions recently received a sweetheart exemption from one of Obamacare’s new taxes, but that perk isn’t enough to offset damage like this:
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) March 8, 2014
Angela is far from alone. A February study from the center-left Brookings Institution determined that Obamacare would reduce incomes among the top 80 percent of American wage earners. Workers at the very bottom stand to benefit, but everyone else will take a hit — with lower-middle class Americans facing the steepest reductions in take-home pay. As for the previously uninsured, it’s tough to overstate how devastating last week’s Washington Post bombshell was. Nine out of ten eligible uninsured Americans haven’t selected plans under Obamacare, with the top reason cited being lack of affordability. Of those few who have “signed up,” only about half have paid, and are therefore covered. So we’re looking at roughly five percent of the previously uninsured population that has decided to participate in a $2 trillion law that was ostensibly foisted upon the rest of the public for their benefit. Therefore, the vast, vast majority of people touted in the White House’s (still significantly inflated) Obamacare “enrollment” figures already had coverage prior to the law’s passage. Those aren’t “new” enrollees. They’re people who were uprooted from their previous arrangement because of this law. More than six million Americans have received cancellation notices due to Obamacare…so far.
Mar 9, 2014, 10:01am | Ed Morrissey
“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection only represents my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. For previous entries, click here.
Today’s gospel reading is Matthew 4:1–11:
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Just recently, I watched and reviewed the film Son of God, a worthwhile effort that people should reward at the box office. The film follows up the blockbuster History Channel miniseries The Bible with a two-hours-plus depiction of the Gospel through the narration of John. While it’s very much a film worth seeing for the price of the ticket, a few of the more mystical and dramatic episodes of the Gospel didn’t make the cut for this film — including one of the most dramatic, the Temptation in the Desert.
At first blush, this entire sequence is puzzling. Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, consubstantial with the Father but also fully human in form. Why would Jesus subject himself to this kind of temptation? Why would Satan try to convert God, for that matter? What purpose did this serve in God’s plan for salvation?
In order to find the answers, one must look in this case for clues in the other readings today. The reading from Genesis includes the temptation of Eve and Adam in paradise, and the fall of humanity from grace. That fall results in a desire of both to usurp God by seeking to seize his power, urged on by the serpent, which is Satan. This arrogance results in disobedience and the sudden dimunition of humanity into a permanently fallen state, where concupiscence creates sinfulness and lack of grace in place of the original status of humanity as priests, prophets, and kings, and death results.
The second reading, from Paul’s letter to the Romans, elaborates that “death reigned from Adam to Moses,” when God entered into history to save his people from destruction in the Exodus. God’s plan for Israel was to create a nation of priests, prophets, and kings to serve and teach the nations of the world to worship the one Lord and subject themselves to Him. Israel almost immediately balks at this mission, worshiping a golden calf instead of God himself, and bitterly complaining and demanding tests of God for Moses to prove His presence. Instead of being a priestly nation, Israel winds up needing one priestly caste to teach itself. After finally entering the Promised Land, Israel will eventually demand a political king that will usurp God’s rule through the prophets, and those kings eventually will start worshiping the idols of local nations as Israel grows more enamored of temporal power than in spreading the Word of God in their mission.
Thus enters Jesus to provide the final plan for salvation — but he must undo humanity’s errors in order to atone fully on our behalf. The three temptations parallel the failures of Israel to trust God in the desert. When Moses went up the mountain, Israel lost faith in God and attempted to worship idols such as their former enslavers did in Egypt. Yet Jesus tells Satan that despite his long privations in the forty days, He will not seek the riches that idol worship promises but remain faithful to God. Where Israel demanded water from the rock as a test from God, Jesus rebukes Satan for tempting Him to test God in the same way. When food ran low in the desert, the Israelites bitterly complained about their freedom, wishing to have been back in slavery; God sent manna to feed them, but rebuked Israel for its ingratitude and lack of trust. Jesus scorns Satan for his temptation to turn stones into bread, preferring the love of God over ingratitude and lack of trust in His power of deliverance.
Finally, these temptations seek to undermine the full humanity of Jesus by the same temptation that corrupted it in the Garden of Eden — the promise of temporal power by usurping God’s place. Instead of sinning in arrogance and disobedience as Adam and Eve did, Jesus refuses worldly power and chooses to remain the suffering servant in order to restore humanity’s ability to be priests, prophets, and kings. Moreover, for that atonement to fulfill man’s debt, Jesus must be fully human as well as fully divine. Jesus experiences the pain and suffering of his fast, but refuses (like Job, in another Old Testament parallel) to repudiate God in the midst of his suffering. That allows for mankind’s redemption through his sacrifice.
The Temptation in the Desert, therefore, encapsulates the entire mission of Jesus in saving the world for the kingdom of God. It prefigures the Messiah not as a worldly idol who magically transforms stones into food, levitates, and seizes material power, but a servant of God who will share in the divine life through His sacrifice for all. That also explains why Satan had to attempt to corrupt the humanity of Jesus, if not the divinity, in order to keep humanity in its fallen state and subject to the powers of sin and death. Jesus threatened to conquer both eternally, and did so, redeeming the flesh through the Word of God.
What does this mean to us, and for us? After all, it’s easy for us to point fingers at the Israelites in the Exodus for demanding God bend to their will instead of the other way around, or at the first of us who rejected paradise for the false choice of usurping God. It’s the same sin, and one could argue the same sin as Judas Iscariot, the zealot who may have wanted more out of a Messiah than what he found — an avenging warlord rather than eternal salvation.
How often do we demand that our will be done rather than God’s? I know I’ve certainly grumbled about not getting my way more often than I’d admit, or prayed for a few stones to turn to bread (or a lottery ticket to turn into a fortune). We often want to make ourselves into our own God rather than submit to His will and allow ourselves to be instruments of it. We harden our hearts to the Word and display ingratitude — even while we’re on the road to salvation, just like the Israelites following Moses or Adam and Eve in Eden.
I’m reminded of a joke: A grandmother walked along the shore with her young grandson, done up in his Sunday finest from head to toe – hat, suit, and shoes. Suddenly a huge wave crashed down on them, and the grandson was swept out to sea. The grandmother got down on her knees and prayed, “O God, if you only bring my grandson back to me, I’ll repent and worship you every day.” Just as suddenly, another wave crashed down, and her grandson was dropped unharmed next to her. The grandmother looked up at the sky and said, “So … where’s his hat?”
Are we thankful for the redemption Jesus won for us and striving to do His will? Or are we still looking for the hat?
Mar 9, 2014, 7:28am | Ed Morrissey
I know, I know — this comes as no surprise, since the Pauls père et fils routinely organize for CPAC straw polls. I missed last year, but I’m at a loss to recall when anyone else but a Paul won the straw poll when offered. (If I recall correctly, they didn’t hold one in 2012 because of the active primary.) This time, it might be a little different:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has won the Conservative Political Action Conference’s straw poll for the second year in a row.
Paul took 31 percent of the vote, a 20 point lead over second-place finisher Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The freshman senator got 11 percent, but saw a significant uptick from just 4 percent last year.ADVERTISEMENT
Conservative favorite Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who’s amassed a grassroots following, was third with 9 percent. Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), who addressed the crowd this year after not being invited in 2012, was fourth with 8 percent support.
The biggest loser of the night was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Though he finished in second place last year with 23 percent, this year his support cratered and he finished in seventh place with just 6 percent support. The Florida senator saw his support among the conservative base erode following his support for comprehensive immigration reform.
Why different? Well, this is the first time that I didn’t see evidence of large-scale organization by Paul supporters. I saw a few “I Stand with Rand” hand signs around, and Senator Paul got a huge audience and reaction to his speech, but the college-student campaign in the hallways never materialized, as it had in previous CPACs. It’s possible that it existed more than was seen, but part of the point in previous CPACs was to overwhelm people with Paul supporters throughout the conference.
This result may, then, reflect more organic support for Paul among the grassroots than organized support, and that’s good news for Paul. Otherwise, though, no one’s going to take the finish order very seriously. I can’t recall the last time a CPAC straw poll predicted even a good primary campaign, so don’t expect anyone who’s seriously thinking about a 2016 run to get discouraged too much by a low finish.
Here’s the video of the announcement last night:
Mar 6, 2014, 11:27am | Guy Benson
No, seriously — does it? I know, I know: The question itself sounds like a stupid conservative caricature of liberal excess. But a friend sent along the text of the following provision, which is buried on page 930 of the president’s FY 2015 budget proposal. She thought it looked “fishy.” I must agree:
Perhaps a budget expert can steer me in the right direction here, but that passage certainly reads like a proposal to allocate $575 million in taxpayer dollars to fund abortions (“reproductive health” is the correct euphemism, yes?) in corners of the globe where human population growth is deemed (by whom?) to be “threatening” plants and animals. A creepy Malthusian dystopia. I keep trying to convince myself that I must be misinterpreting this, but I also remember that upon entering office, President Obama appointed a “science czar” with a disturbing paper trail. In a 2009 Politifact analysis – which rated some conservative criticisms of John Holdren “pants on fire” false — the left-leaning fact-checkers conceded that Holdren did, in fact, co-author a volume that discussed a number of radical population control measures:
In a section on “Involuntary Fertility Control,” Holdren and the other authors discuss various “coercive” means of population control — including putting sterilants in the drinking water. But they stop well short of advocating such measures…Later, the authors conclude, “Most of the population control measures beyond family planning discussed above have never been tried. Some are as yet technically impossible and others are and probably will remain unacceptable to most societies … ”Compulsory control of family size is an unpalatable idea, but the alternatives may be much more horrifying”…The authors argue that compulsory abortions could potentially be allowed under U.S. law “if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.” Again, that’s a far cry from advocating or proposing such a position.
The point of dredging this up is not to relitigate the Holdren controversy; it’s simply a reminder that the Obama administration has embraced some rather extreme figures and policy positions on these issues. So again I ask, with all sincerity: Does the president’s new budget propose funding overseas abortions to combat “threats” to “biodiversity”? Or am I missing something? Maybe this idea is limited to various forms of birth control, which is covered by the “family planning” distinction. But as I noted above, “reproductive health” is one of the Left’s code words for abortion. One of this president’s first official acts was to lift the federal restriction on subsidizing abortions abroad, so he’s unlikely to harbors any moral qualms on this. In any case, what’s the explanation for the environmentalist stipulations?
UPDATE – A Capitol Hill budget maven notes that President Bush’s last budget contained somewhat similar language, but within the context of fighting AIDS, not saving the planet. The Bush administration also barred taxpayer funds from financing overseas abortions.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:35am | Allahpundit
Mar 5, 2014, 6:01pm | Ed Morrissey
One of these days, Pope Francis will give an interview in English. What will the media do then? In the latest version of That’s Not What The Pontiff Said, the Vatican is acting quickly to dispel the idea that Francis endorsed gay relationships in his interview with Corriere della Sera:. The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein tweeted out the response:
Papal spox tries to clarify Pope's comments on civil unions, says pope "did not refer specifically" to same-sex couples 1/2
— Michelle Boorstein (@mboorstein) March 5, 2014
Quotes pope: There are are "different kinds of living arrangements..We must consider different cases and evaluate each particular case." 2/2
— Michelle Boorstein (@mboorstein) March 5, 2014
Papal spox: Francis emphasized traditional marriage as well as state's obligation to fulfill its responsibilities towards its citizens.
— Michelle Boorstein (@mboorstein) March 5, 2014
Frankly, I didn’t see anything in the primary reporting that even suggested a same-sex relationship context.
This does remind me of a conversation my young-adult group had years ago with a priest. We were discussing the church teaching on contraception, and one of our members said a friend of hers refused to use it but still had sex outside of marriage, because she thought the contraception was sinful. The priest laughed and said, “Look, if you’re having sex outside of marriage, that’s a lot bigger deal than whether you use contraception with it.”
It’s a matter of perspective. Yes, couples will cohabitate rather than get married, and yes it’s still a sin. But — and this really isn’t new for the church or Francis — that doesn’t mean that society should not order itself to civilly protect people who enter into those arrangements with property rights and access to critical services, while the church tries to instruct on sin and help people to see the error of their ways.
Update: Fr. Thomas Rosica, who handles English translations at the Vatican (and French too, as I recall), issued a statement last night that reminds everyone that “civil unions” in Italy refer to civil marriage:
On behalf of the Vatican, Fr. Thomas Rosica released the following statement regarding certain interpretations of the interview:
“There have been numerous questions, calls and messages throughout the day today regarding Pope Francis’ recent interview in the Italian daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, particularly referring to the section on marriage and civil unions. Some journalists have interpreted the Pope’s words in the interview to reflect an openness on the part of the Church to civil unions. Others have interpreted his words to be addressing the question of same-sex marriage. I have consulted with Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, throughout the afternoon and have prepared the following notes on Pope Francis’ interview.
Asked specifically about “unioni civili,” (civil unions), Pope Francis responded:
“Il matrimonio e’ fra un uomo e una donna. Gli Stati laici vogliono giustificare le unioni civili per regolare diverse situazioni di convivenza, spinti dall’esigenza di regolare aspetti economici fra le persone, come ad esempio assicurare l’assistenza sanitaria. Si tratta di patti di convivenza di varia natura, di cui non saprei elencare le diverse forme. Bisogna vedere i diversi casi e valutarli nella loro varieta’.”
“Marriage (matrimony) is between a man and a woman. Civil states want to justify civil unions in order to regulate (normalize) different arrangements of cohabitation; – prompted by the necessity of regulating (normalizing) economic aspects among people, for example in providing health insurance or benefits. This consists of different kinds of living arrangements which I wouldn’t know how to enumerate with precision. We must consider different cases and evaluate each particular case.”
[It is important to understand here that “civil unions” in Italy refer to people who are married by the state, outside of a religious context.]
Journalists have asked if the Pope was referring specifically to gay civil unions in the above response. The Pope did not choose to enter into debates about the delicate matter of gay civil unions. In his response to the interviewer, he emphasized the natural characteristic of marriage between one man and one woman, and on the other hand, he also spoke about the obligation of the state to fulfill its responsibilities towards its citizens.
By responding in this way, Pope Francis spoke in very general terms, and did not specifically refer to same-sex marriage as a civil union. Pope Francis simply stated the issues and did not interfere with positions held by Episcopal Conferences in various countries dealing with the question of civil unions and same sex marriage.
We should not try to read more into the Pope’s words that what has been stated in very general terms.”
In fairness, I had forgotten that, too. Thanks to Erika M for the update.
Mar 5, 2014, 11:37am | Guy Benson
Short and effective:
In case you missed it, Obama’s FY 2015 budget proposal is about as reckless as you might expect. It increases spending, raises taxes by nearly $2 trillion (on top of the $1.7 trillion in previous Obama-era hikes), and never comes close to balancing. According to the White House’s own numbers, the plan would add $8.3 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years; again, that’s after all the tax increases. As Ed noted yesterday, OMB’s calculations are also ludicrously optimistic compared to the nonpartisan CBO’s projections. Obama’s fiscal path does nothing to address the unfunded liability crisis, a long-term debt problem that even the president has acknowledged in years past. Not any more. The White House is positioning this blueprint as — drumroll, please — an end to America’s “era of austerity.” Really. I reviewed what that era has looked like over at Townhall:
Under this president, the federal government has spent more money annually than at any other time in US history. Annual deficits have ranged between $500 billion and $1.4 trillion. Prior to Barack Obama’s presidency, the United States had never racked up a single trillion-dollar annual shortfall. On his watch, Washington has done so four times. The Congressional Budget Office projects that on our current trajectory, we’ll hit $1 trillion again within eight years. Various fact-checkers have confirmed that among his many predecessors, President Obama is the “undisputed debt king,” having added more than $6 trillion to the nation’s red ink since taking office in 2009. In his first campaign, Obama called President Bush “unpatriotic” for amassing more than $4 trillion in gross national debt over two full terms in office. So that, ladies and gentlemen, is the “era of austerity” that Obama has magnanimously decided to end.
I’ll leave you with this:
Mar 4, 2014, 5:19pm | Guy Benson
A judge has granted a temporary protective injunction against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, after his wife filed paperwork accusing the Orlando congressman of shoving and injuring her during an incident this weekend. Lolita Grayson’s petition for the injunction, dated Monday, says her husband pushed her against a door, causing her to fall to the ground, during a confrontation Saturday at their home on Oak Park Road, near Windermere. In a statement, Alan Grayson’s press secretary Lauren Doney wrote that the allegations “are absolutely false, completely unfounded, and clearly designed to vilify and harm Congressman Grayson.” The incident comes just less than two months after Lolita Grayson filed a divorce petition stating that their marriage of nearly 24 years was “irretrievably broken.”
“Completely unfounded,” huh?
Photos filed by Lolita Grayson’s attorneys with the petition show large bruises to her left leg and left shoulder. Her complaint alleges that, “from time to time” in the past, her husband “has battered [her] and the parties’ minor children,” though she has not previously sought an injunction against him…Grayson told his wife, in the presence of their children, that she “would receive nothing” in their divorce and would be left “in the gutter.”
Perhaps Grayson can commiserate with this charmer. War on women, etc.
UPDATE – Oh my:
Grayson’s office: Ms. Grayson’s behavior has become increasingly erratic, and she has demonstrated an alarming disconnect from reality.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) March 4, 2014
Attacking the victim for erratic, unhinged behavior. Consider the source.
UPDATE II – Of course:
Headline: "Florida chapter of National Organization for Women endorses Alan Grayson." http://t.co/CG51m53IiO
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) March 4, 2014
He may beat his wife, but at least he supports late-term abortion! Let’s see if this old endorsement survives the current cycle. Allahpundit now has more on the homepage, including a must-see flashback clip of the man himself railing against Republican misogyny.
Mar 4, 2014, 12:50pm | Ed Morrissey
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) March 4, 2014
'The WaPo says my foreign policy is a fantasy. I'll show them just how serious I am.' pic.twitter.com/LyJaLYJ8n6
— Brian Faughnan (@BrianFaughnan) March 4, 2014
Yes, that’s apparently the venue from which President Obama made that pronouncement.
Mar 4, 2014, 11:27am | Guy Benson
The last few times we checked in on Sen. Kay Hagan, she was literally running away from Obamacare questions, and being hoisted by her own petard on reflexive partisan loyalty. As she said of her predecessor, voting with the president 92 percent of the time (or, in Hagan’s case, 96 percent of the time) “doesn’t work here in North Carolina. Based on a fresh Elon University poll, It would appear that North Carolina voters agree:
The same poll pegs President Obama’s job approval at (39/51); not only is Hagan’s raw approval rating six points lower than Obama’s, her net approval (-15) is worse, too. Obama lost the state in 2012. Why has the embattled Senator been so evasive of Obamacare questions? My hunch is that these numbers have something to do with it:
Mar 4, 2014, 10:32am | Ed Morrissey
Jeff MacNelly had a classic editorial cartoon with a Soviet Backfire bomber and Jimmy Carter, of which this cartoon reminds me. This should be a classic, too.
Be sure to check out Nate’s blog for more of his excellent work.
Mar 4, 2014, 7:10am | Mike Antonucci
We can watch the ebb and flow of union membership from year to year, thanks to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and unionstats.com. And we can watch the ebb and flow of teacher union membership from year to year if I can continue to pry it from a secretive National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers. But there has not been much tracking of how much of a share NEA and AFT have of union membership overall in the United States.
I have put together a table and posted it on the EIA web site that shows the combined active NEA and AFT membership for each state and DC in 2012 and the share it constitutes of active public employee union (PEU) membership and total (public sector + private sector) union membership. It illustrates that teachers’ unions make up the bulk of the public employee labor movement, and a growing percentage of organized labor overall.
* Nationwide, NEA and AFT members comprise 21.2 percent of all union members, and 41.5 percent of PEU members.
* The five states where teacher union members make up the largest share of the total union population are Nebraska, Alabama, North Dakota, Vermont and Idaho.
* The five states where teacher union members make up the smallest share of the total union population are Mississippi, Hawaii, South Carolina, Maine and Texas.
* The five states where teacher union members make up the largest share of the PEU population are Alabama, Nebraska, Idaho, Virginia and North Dakota.
* The five states where teacher union members make up the smallest share of the PEU population are South Carolina, Mississippi, Hawaii, Louisiana and California.
* Teacher union members are more than one-quarter of the total union population in 22 states.
* Teacher union members are more than half of the PEU population in 21 states.
(click for larger version or follow this link)
Mar 3, 2014, 5:03pm | Allahpundit
Actually, given that the guy didn’t even fall, I’d say it’s 1-1.
Mar 3, 2014, 1:31pm | Ed Morrissey
… the smaller the citizen. Dennis Prager himself delivers this course at Prager University, calling this “an observable fact and just common sense.” Is there a role for government? Of course, Dennis says, but “it must always be of last resort”:
In every society throughout human history the following relationship has held true: as government grows, human freedom and happiness shrinks. Best selling author, Dennis Prager puts it this way: “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” This has been true in Europe for decades and is becoming ever more so in the United States. But it’s not the kind of nation, the Founding Fathers had in mind. Can we get back to the principles of liberty and individual responsibility? It’s a big challenge. But first we have to recognize the problem.
Be sure to enroll at Prager U. You won’t even need tuition assistance.
Mar 3, 2014, 11:47am | Guy Benson
Now seems like a reasonable moment to recall these zingers, which Democrats and the media thought were terribly clever in 2012. Mitt Romney’s clear-eyed assessment of Vladimir Putin’s Russia is looking more spot-on accurate than ever, yet it was greeted at the time with widespread ridicule. Barack Obama, in the final presidential debate:
“A few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia…the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
John Kerry at the DNC:
“…but not Mitt Romney. He’s even blurted out the preposterous notion that Russia is our ‘number one geopolitical foe.’ Folks: Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska; Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.”
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) March 1, 2014
I’ll close by revisiting a Gallup poll that seems significantly more relevant today than it did when it was released just one week ago:
Who’s laughing now?
Mar 3, 2014, 9:07am | Allahpundit
Mar 2, 2014, 10:01am | Ed Morrissey
“Sunday Reflection” is a regular Green Room feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection only represents my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. For previous entries, click here.
Today’s gospel reading is Matthew 6:24–34:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
Yesterday, my wife mutinied over the never-ending loads of laundry we do in this house. Especially during the winter, when we layer up for the cold, we seem to fill the laundry basket more often for two people in a house than an entire family might in a week. But the mutiny was about more than just the amount of laundry — she also gets tired of trying to fight for space to put the clean laundry away. My closet rack is so full that it’s almost impossible at times to get more shirts hung up on it. It’s not that I buy a lot of clothes, but that I refuse to get rid of old shirts and pants, even when they might help others.
I read this passage yesterday after surrendering a bit and moving some older clothes to the basement, either for donation or discarding (some of them I’d only allow myself to wear). Why do I keep old stained shirts that shouldn’t be seen in polite company, or even around the house? Why do I keep t-shirts so long that the sleeves nearly fall off? Why, as Jesus puts it here, am I so concerned about clothes that I hoard them beyond all need?
It could be that I’m just too lazy to clean a closet, and my wife will probably endorse that diagnosis. On the other hand, it could be the impulse to hoard — to worry so much about the future that we surround ourselves with material goods in order to stop worrying about it. People do this with food, clothing, money, and jewelry, buying and storing far more than they need or could use in a month or more.
In short, we don’t put our trust in God, but in mammon – the material wealth that we think brings security. And we do that because, far too often, we become so distracted with the future that we neglect the present.
The Old Testament reading today from Isaiah 49:14-15 reassures us of God’s love. “Can a mother forget her infant,” the prophet asks, “be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” But “even should she forget,” Isaiah tells Israel, God “will never forget you.” And yet we do not put our trust in that love.
Does this mean we should only have one change of clothes and bare cupboards in our homes? Of course not. There is nothing wrong with having enough clothing and a store of food for our families. The problems begin when we begin to fret over not having so much that we don’t need to fret — of looking in a full closet and saying, “I haven’t got a thing to wear,” because we’re worried about what people might think about what we do have. Or of looking in a full fridge and complaining that there’s nothing to eat. As my example shows, that anxiety over the future and the need to fill closets full of clothing to serve one person eventually creates its own problems. We run out of space to store all of our possessions, and then what? We look to acquire more space rather than reduce our own anxieties and rely on God, and then to fill that space with more material possessions, and so on.
“Tomorrow will take care of itself,” Jesus says, and perhaps that’s even more counter-intuitive now than it was in the disciples’ day. We spend our whole lives looking far beyond the present — can I get into the right school? Will this job move me up into a higher social circle? Living “in the now” has a vaguely counter-cultural ring to it these days, and it might have at that time, too. Yet it is absolutely necessary in order to let go of those anxieties, turn our trust and love to God, and extend our hands to our less-fortunate neighbors. It’s the only way to put material possessions in their proper perspective as tools for us to live our lives, rather than traps and idols we end up serving instead of God.
The adage “You cannot serve God and mammon” is usually interpreted as a warning against excessive avarice, but notice that Jesus doesn’t address greed or the wealthy once in this teaching. This is a trap into which all can fall, and usually do. Jesus exhorts his disciples to avoid anxiety rather than greed, which itself isn’t a sin but leads to sinfulness in the manner Jesus describes. At some point, the focus on the potential evils of the future drives us to hoard and jealously guard material goods. We become less concerned about loving and trusting God, and the acquisition and retention of material goods displaces God at the center of our hearts — the heart being the intersection of the will and the intellect, the place of decision-making. As that happens, we become more and more sinful, turning our backs on our neighbors and placing ourselves above God.
Once again, we have here a message of formation of the heart rather than an emphasis on adherence to the letter of the law, as Jesus does throughout the Beatitudes. By removing anxiety about the future, Jesus teaches, we will form our hearts in gladness and joy of God’s love — and the law will be written ever more strongly in our hearts. It’s a call to simplicity, and a great lesson as the season of Lent approaches.
Mar 1, 2014, 6:26pm | Ed Morrissey
Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama had a contentious phone call today, after Putin got retroactive approval for his military invasion of Crimea — and perhaps beyond. That seems to be the point of Putin’s readout of the phone call, anyway (emphasis mine):
Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States Barack Obama on the American side’s initiative.
The two presidents discussed in detail various aspects of the extraordinary situation in Ukraine.
In reply to Mr Obama’s concern over the possibility of the use of Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin drew his attention to the provocative and criminal actions on the part of ultranationalists who are in fact being supported by the current authorities in Kiev.
The Russian President spoke of a real threat to the lives and health of Russian citizens and the many compatriots who are currently on Ukrainian territory. Vladimir Putin stressed that in case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.
That was the pretext that was entirely predictable from the start of this crisis. And it’s the pretext that will have tanks rolling across that border soon, unless we start providing more disincentives than we’ve done so far. One might be the immediate restoral of the missile-shield program and some ground-breaking events in Poland and the Czech Republic, but don’t expect either nation to trust us to stick to it a second time.
Mar 1, 2014, 2:44pm | Ed Morrissey
No kidding. Eli Lake reported on Thursday that American intelligence rejected the threat of a Russian invasion despite all of the mobilization going on across the border from Ukraine, only to have Russian force seize Crimea the next day. Now the same sources tell the indispensable Lake that they’re still surprised at the aggression, although they’re distinguishing between an invasion and an invasion-invasion:
U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence on the fast moving situation in Ukraine tell The Daily Beast that analytic products from the intelligence community this week did not discount the prospect of Russian provocations and even light incursions in the Russian majority province of Crimea, the home of Russia’s fleet in the Black Sea.
Nonetheless, until Friday, no one anticipated a Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory.”Nobody thought Putin was going to invade last night,” one Senate aide who works closely on the Ukraine crisis. “He has the G8 summit in Sochi coming up, no one really saw this kind of thing coming.” This source also stressed that events are still moving quickly on the ground. “There is still a question about whether this is Russian troops coming across the border or Russian troops moving around the installations in Crimea.”
I doubt the Ukrainians are making those distinctions. Now that the invasion is under way, though, US intel says it’s a textbook operation. Plus, the Obama administration is making it easy for Putin to act:
“Putin’s aim is to show that he is in the catbird seat, and there is nothing we can do about it,” this former officer said. “He’s like a kid with a can of gasoline and a book of matches, and he laughs as Obama tries to deliver lectures on how fire is dangerous. Indeed, Putin throws banana peels on the ground, and Obama manages to slip on every one of them. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Be sure to read it all. And I’d like to clarify one point about Eli’s earlier report: it was the intel community that got this call embarrassingly wrong, not Eli. His reporting is as solid as ever. That’s something to keep in mind when we use the earlier report in other analyses.