Tuesday, July 21, 2015
The Kentucky Democratic Party is running an ad against candidate for Attorney General Whitney Westerfield that is far and away the stupidest political ad I've ever seen.
Ostensibly it's about Westerfield's record as an assistant commonwealth attorney. In reality, it is an assault on his manhood because he gets an occasional pedicure. That's supremely hypocritical, coming from the party that claims to be all about inclusiveness and tolerance for every iteration of lifestyle.
Democrats brought us the Metrosexual; a dude can't get much more Metrosexual than getting a pedicure.
Any ad that includes close up shots of a man's feet is just wrong on so many levels. Feet are gross. Male feet are particularly gross, pedicure or not. That's why "mandals" are never a good idea.
Voters didn't need to know that Westerfield gets pedicures. It is too much information. They will not reward the Democrats for the revelation.
For Democrats to comment on someone's choice of personal grooming shows how weak on substantive ideas that party has become. They are utterly vacuous.
Kentucky Opera General Manager David Roth's untimely passing is a huge loss to the Louisville arts community and to those of us who were privileged to count his a friend.
David was an artist entrepreneur. He exposed us to new operas that had never been performed here, balanced with old favorites. With his background in accounting, David squeezed quarters from nickels. He demonstrated that an arts organization, through careful stewardship, can stay in the black. This made us want to dig deeper and work harder to help him build Kentucky Opera into the outstanding regional company that is his legacy.
Most importantly, David was a wonderful human being. He had the remarkable ability to make me feel like he was overjoyed to see me. That wasn't specific to me: I knew that he made everyone he met the feel the same way, and that is a rare attribute.
He and Bryce and his family and friends are in our prayers.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Mike Biagi has been named Chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky, replacing Steve Robertson (who is going to work in Frost Brown Todd's lobbying arm).
Mike was a McConnell Field Director, and is a great guy. He has a good political instinct and strikes me as easy to work with. I expect big things of him in his new position and wish him all the best.
And thanks to Steve for all of his hard work over the years. The state of the Kentucky Republican Party is much improved over when we first arrived here in 1996, though much work remains. Onward!
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Today's column makes an unexpected analogy: Obama and the KY clerks who won't issue licenses for same sex marriages. Here's the link. Below is the online version, reprinted with permission of the C-J. Note that the online version contains several paragraphs towards the end that got cut from the print version;
They have more in common than either would expect: President Barack Obama and those Kentucky clerks who refuse to issue licenses for same-sex marriages. In refusing to do their jobs (Obama with respect to immigration), both are behaving lawlessly. Both are violating the oaths they took.
Oddly, the people who applaud Obama's refusal to enforce our immigration laws are irate at the county clerks who refuse to issue the marriage licenses to gays. However, a refusal to do one's duty as an elected official is lawless, regardless of the issue or reason. Maybe the clerks should change their messaging and declare their offices "sanctuaries."
I am slightly more sympathetic to the county clerks; the Supreme Court's pronouncement of a new constitutional right to gay marriage fundamentally changed the nature of their duties. Arguably some of these clerks might not have run for their position had they known that they would be compelled to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples. But the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodgespercolated for years. Those who were surprised at the outcome certainly knew that it was a possibility.
Going forward, however, no candidate for county clerk can claim unfair surprise. Like it or not, gay marriage is now the law of the land. Those who feel it would violate their conscience to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple should not seek the office.
In refusing to perform their duty but accepting their salary, the recalcitrant clerks are exercising their religious beliefs on the cheap and easy. The more honorable course would be to resign.
Unlike the clerks, Obama's refusal to enforce our nation's immigration laws through deportations is not based on his religious convictions. He just thinks he's smarter and knows better. He therefore uses executive orders to ignore those laws of which he disapproves. But like the clerks, Obama justifies his inaction as the right thing to do; he follows his moral compass rather than the laws he swore to uphold.
The clerks and Obama both serve in the executive branch of government, albeit at very different levels. Officials in the executive branch cannot make law, like the legislature, or interpret law, like the judiciary; their job is to execute the laws the other branches have made — as in apply the law, enforce it, carry it out. If they do not like the law and want to change it, they are in the wrong branch.
Obama's dereliction of duty — and the example it sets — has graver consequences than that of the clerks. No one has died as a result of inaction by the clerks. The Supreme Court has decreed that gay marriage is a constitutional right, and violation of a constitutional right is a serious matter. But it is not the same as seeing your child shot by an illegal alien and holding her while she dies, as happened in the "sanctuary city" of San Francisco recently.
Francisco Sanchez, the man who confessed to murdering Katie Steinle on the San Francisco pier earlier this month, has an extensive criminal history — seven felonies — and had been deported to Mexico five times. Sanctuary cities like San Francisco attract people like Sanchez because they know that it's city policy to shelter illegal immigrants from deportation; Sanchez admitted as much to a reporter.
San Francisco's sheriff and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are blaming each other for Sanchez being free to commit a murder. That finger pointing misses the larger truth. The proliferation of sanctuary cities is the logical extension of the Obama administration's refusal to enforce the immigration laws: the fish rots from the head.
There are now 200 sanctuary cities. The rationale for the policy is to prevent families from being torn apart; children born to illegal immigrants on American soil are U.S. citizens automatically, but their parents are not. And to be sure, Sanchez is by no means representative of all illegal immigrants. The unintended consequence of that compassionate impulse to provide sanctuary from deportation is that Katie Steinle's family has been torn apart.
Sanctuary cities, Obama's non-enforcement, and the rogue county clerks, each make a mockery of the notion of the "law-abiding citizen." In days of yore, abiding by the law was something a citizen just did, and expected others to do or else face punishment. It was part of being a responsible adult, a norm parents taught children. The corollary was that public officials were expected to honor their oaths and enforce the law, all the laws.
When did it become respectable to obey and enforce only the laws one likes? Perhaps the most devastating legacy of Obama will be this trickle-down lawlessness.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
George Mason University's Mercatus Center has done a 50 state survey of state financial conditions. Kentucky falls near the bottom at 45th. No surprise there.
Mercatus came up with a composite score based on five different variables: cash solvency for short term funding; budget solvency; long run solvency; service level solvency; and trust fund solvency.
The question becomes: what do Jack Conway and Matt Bevin propose to do about it?
Any business contemplating relocating would look to this survey, or one like it, to evaluate the fiscal health of a state. No one wants to move a business to a state that is likely to default, or face a massive tax hike. So the ability of Kentucky to manage its finances sensibly has real-world consequences for employment -- and for making Kentucky a place where our children want to remain as adults.
Monday, July 6, 2015
Politico has a good read on the status of judicial nominations now that Mitch McConnell is Senate Majority Leader. Lots of accusations about why the pace of confirmation is so slow.
This is an issue that has implications for Kentucky. as we have several vacancies in the district courts and one on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
To be sure, the president has wide latitude on whom he chooses to nominate. However, I take comfort in knowing that McConnell will ensure that the Senate makes a searching inquiry of each nominee. The Senate has that right and indeed duty.
Obama's days in office are drawing to a close, thank God. But the judges he nominates, if confirmed, will have life tenure. Their impact will reach far into the future and affect the daily lives of numerous Americans. It is therefore important that Republicans take the time to look closely at these nominees.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
The Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, finding a fundamental right to gay marriage, was so expected as to be anti-climactic.
Conservatives lost this battle long ago. It's over, culturally. It has been over ever since the ABC sitcom Modern Family hit the air with it's portrayal of the popular gay couple, Mitchell and Cam.
I have long thought that the Church should not be in the contract business. Instead, it would have been preferable if American wedding ritual was more like the French: go to the court house to have a government official conduct the marriage, and then, for those so inclined, go to the church and receive the sacrament of marriage.
Instead, we allow members of the clergy to act as an agent of the state, performing a government function simultaneously with bestowing a sacrament. The cost of that convenience is Obergefell.
A bifurcation along the lines of the French marriage ritual recognizes that marriage is two things: a contract, and a sacrament. As long as adults are competent to give consent, I have no problem with two people of the same sex entering a contract to formalize their relationship. That comports with an understanding of limited government.
That's why I thought it was a mistake for conservatives to oppose civil unions. It's true that this reasoning applies with equal force to polygamy. It's also true that the Supreme Court's reasoning would encompass polygamy. That's not a battle worth fighting; if adults choose to organize themselves in that manner, it's no one's business. Again, that's viewing marriage as a contract, freely entered into.
However, I worry that marriage as sacrament is endangered. There will be calls to revoke the tax exempt status of those churches that refuse to conduct gay weddings. Calls for "tolerance" will not extend to tolerating the religious convictions of those who believe in the biblical definition of marriage as being reserved for one man and one women. This assault on freedom of worship has already begun. It will get worse, I fear. The implications for the nature and survival of our country are serious. Gay marriage cannot and will not destroy America; stripping citizens of the right to worship freely very well could.
The Church has seen worse. It's important to remember that and to keep a historical perspective as the assault on Christianity gets more aggressive. Sure, it would be a terrible thing to have one's church lose its tax exempt status. But it's not the same as being martyred. As Russell Moore wrote this past week, the Supreme Court cannot put Jesus Christ back in the grave. He is still alive. Still sovereign, even in the fallout of Obergefell. That means we should be of good courage and not let our hearts grow dismayed.
So the appropriate response to the Supreme Court's decision is prayer for America. Lots and lots of prayer that the Lord will continue to bless and keep this great nation.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
The Supreme Court of the United States has once again saved Obamacare, this time on the validity of giving Obamacare tax subsidies to people who live in states that have not established the insurance exchanges; the law requires a state established exchange as a prerequisite to getting the tax subsidy.
No matter, according to the majority. A state is not really a state or something. The words don't matter. Why look at the actual language of the statute when we can look to policy goals and context? Up is down and down is up: the majority found Congress' statutory language ambiguous and yet divined Congressional intent as clear. Logically, the Court cannot have it both ways.
Chief Justice Roberts once again joined the left, this time accompanied by Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold the vote 6-3.
This is a shameful moment in the history of the Court. This is a true erosion in the rule of law in this country, The Court disregarded clear language. "Established by a state" is not an obscure term of art. that requires nuanced legal reasoning. Any fifth grader could read the phrase and understand that the federal government is not a "state."
A few choice morsels from Justice Scalia's dissent:
- “The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says ‘Exchange established by the State’ it means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.’ That is of course quite absurd.
- ”“You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. . . . Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State
- .”It is not our place to judge the quality of the care and deliberation that went into this or any other law. . . . Much less is it our place to make everything come out right when Congress does not do its job properly. It is up to Congress to design its laws with care, and it is up to the people to hold them to account if they fail to carry out that responsibility
Justice Scalia is right in dissent. Having now rewritten the statute to save it -- twice -- the name should be changed from Obamacare to SCOTUScare.