Thursday, December 22, 2016

O-Care Replacement Watch

This article from the New York Times suggests that following repeal of Obamacare, House Republicans will look for a replacement that substitutes liberty for compulsion -- a big improvement:

In defending the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration, congressional Democrats and advocacy groups have focused on the 20 million people covered by the law, which has pushed the percentage of Americans without health insurance to record lows. The American Medical Association recently said that “any new reform proposal should not cause individuals currently covered to become uninsured.”
But House Republicans, preparing for a rapid legislative strike on the law next month, emphasize a different measure of success.
“Our goal here is to make sure that everybody can buy coverage or find coverage if they choose to,” a House leadership aide told journalists on the condition of anonymity at a health care briefing organized by Republican leaders.
. . . 
Republicans have an “ironclad commitment” to repeal the law, the aide said, as lawmakers moved to discredit predictions that many people would lose coverage.
“There’s a lot of scare tactics out there on this,” said Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “We can reassure the American public that the plan they are in right now, the Obamacare plans, will not end on Jan. 20,” the day Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated.
The suggestion that 20 million people will lose coverage is a “big lie,” Mr. Brady said, after meeting here with Republican members of his committee.
“Republicans,” he said, “will provide an adequate transition period to give people peace of mind that they will have those options available to them as we work through this solution.”

Alvarado Punches Back Twice as Hard

Good for Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester). He just won a defamation and false light suit -- and $200,000 in damages -- from former Sen. R.J. Palmer

As Pure Politics reports, Alvarado (who is a doctor) sued his former election opponent for essentially portraying him as a drug dealer.

It took Alvarado two years to get the victory; it went all the way to a jury trial, where the jury awarded $125,000 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages.

The point of punitive damages is to deter. Hopefully, the verdict in this case will indeed deter slimy politicians from lying about an opponent just to advance their chance of winning.

This suit has important ramifications not just for defamation law but also for candidate recruitment.  Honorable people who would make terrific public servants often refuse to run because they don't want to be subjected to lies of the sort Palmer spread about Alvarado.

It's good to see that there is recourse, even despite the difficulty of proving actual malice when the victim is a public figure (which candidates are).

Parents Should Watch This JCPS Issue

Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal:

As the most recent National Geographic illustrates —its cover story features a nine-year-old transgender girl— parents are facing challenges and choices that would have been unimaginable a generation ago. That calls for vigilance about what images and messages bombard our children, and clear communication about what we believe, and why.
Take, for example, the Jefferson County Public School sex education curriculum.
For more than a year, an organization called Louisville Sex Ed Now has been advocating changes to that curriculum. LSEN is a coalition of Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Fairness Campaign and others. It maintains that due to vague state standards, there is too much variation among JCPS schools and teachers in how sex ed is taught.
Given Kentucky’s Republican governor and legislature, there is no possibility that the state standards on sex ed will be modified to please organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. So they are taking the fight to the local level. LSEN wants JCPS to enact new standards to specify what must be taught to middle school and high school students. That is, LSEN wants to reduce the discretion that Site Based Decision Making Councils at schools within JCPS have to choose sex ed curricula.
In addition to this reduction of local control, LSEN advocates “comprehensive sexuality education.”
“Comprehensive” appears to be a term of art, or perhaps code, for sex ed that goes way beyond the “birds and the bees” of reproduction. The United Nations defines comprehensive sexuality education as “rights-based and gender-focused.”
Typically, “comprehensive” sex ed gives a passing nod to abstinence and therefore is sometimes misleadingly called “abstinence-plus” sex ed.
The goal of comprehensive sex ed is to reduce the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. That sounds reasonable, at first glance. The underlying premise, however, is that teenagers are brimming with hormones and will have sex, whether we like it or not, so best show them how to use a condom.
To that end, the Obama administration took away $100 million from abstinence programs and spent nearly a billion dollars on comprehensive sex ed known as the Teen Pregnancy Program (TPP). A recent Health and Human Services report foundthat teens in some TPP programs were more likely to begin having sex, more likely to begin having oral sex, and more likely to get pregnant than teens who did not take the class; 80 percent fared no better than or actually did worse than non-TPP students.
Many parents who addressed the JCPS board on Nov. 29 similarly argued that sex ed should teach students risk avoidance, not risk reduction. The best way for a teenager to avoid the risks of unwanted pregnancy and sexual infections altogether is to not have sex.
That entails more than preaching abstinence. It requires empowering students to defer gratification, master their passions, remain focused on long term goals —  to learn self control and patience. A curriculum that teaches risk avoidance, therefore, has broader applications than just deferring when a child becomes sexually active.
A curriculum based on abstinence need not (and should not) evoke fear or guilt or teach that sex is bad. Nor should an emphasis on abstinence omit the lesson of treating all people with dignity and respect. Rather, the point should be to elevate sex to its proper context.
Risk avoidance recognizes that teenagers are more than the sum of their hormones. Risk reduction, in contrast, takes a cynical view of what is attainable for a teenager — similar to what former President George W. Bush called the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”
At the very least, parents must ask to review what is being taught to their children to make sure it doesn’t undermine the values they are trying to instill; if it does, opt out.
Regardless of one’s opinion, it is unrealistic to expect that JCPS will teach everything that parents want their child to know about sex. Parents will have to supplement and perhaps enlist the help of their church, on the one hand, or Planned Parenthood on the other.
There is no reason to believe that JCPS’s success rate at sex ed will exceed what it has, or has not, achieved with other more traditional academic subjects. Some would advance the “radical” view that a school district should focus on those other subjects rather than advance a more “comprehensive” sex ed agenda.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Obamacare Repeal and Replace Update

A good read from the Wall Street Journal on the critical issue of what the replacement for Obamacare should look like. President-Elect Trump's nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) actually encourages me that this might happen:

. . .

The new system should be fully consumer driven, empowering individuals to be the surveyors and purchasers of their care. Past reforms in this direction became stilted and ultimately incomplete, but the current moment offers a chance to truly rebuild from the ground up. If Messrs. Trump and Price want to make the most of this short window, they should keep four central reforms in mind.

1. Provide a path to catastrophic health insurance for all Americans. There’s ample evidence that enrollment in insurance doesn’t always lead to improvements in health—but access to health insurance is important nonetheless. A 2012 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found higher insurance enrollment from reforms in Massachusetts led to better results in several measures of physical and mental health.

Health insurance is also important for financial security. The ObamaCare replacement should make it possible for all people to get health insurance that provides coverage for basic prevention, like vaccines, and expensive medical care that exceeds, perhaps, $5,000 for individuals.

Those Americans who don’t get health insurance through employers, or Medicare and Medicaid, should be eligible for a refundable tax credit that can be used to enroll in a health-insurance plan. The credit would be set at a level comparable to the tax benefits available to individuals with employer-sponsored insurance plans. The subsidy would be enough to make a basic level of catastrophic coverage easily affordable for all Americans. 

2. Accommodate people with pre-existing health conditions. The price of insurance naturally reflects added risk. That’s why beach houses cost more to insure than a typical suburban home. Yet there is a reasonable social consensus that people should not be penalized financially for health problems that are largely outside of their control.

So as long as someone remains insured, he should be allowed to move from employer coverage to the individual market without facing exclusions or higher premiums based on his health status. If someone chooses voluntarily not to get coverage, state regulation could allow for an assessment of the risk when the person returns to the market. 

This would prevent healthy people from waiting until they get sick to buy insurance, which is one reason ObamaCare’s insurance markets are unstable. The refundable tax credit ensures that everyone, including the unemployed, can get access to at least catastrophic insurance and maintain continuous coverage. Well-run and properly funded high-risk pools can help address the inevitable cases of expensive claims for the remaining uninsured.

3. Allow broad access to health-savings accounts. ObamaCare pushed millions of Americans into high-deductible insurance without giving them the opportunity to save and pay for care before insurance kicks in. There should be a one-time federal tax credit to encourage all Americans to open an HSA and begin using it to pay for routine medical bills. And HSAs combined with high-deductible insurance should be incorporated directly into the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
An NBER study from 2015 concluded that families spent between 7% and 22% less on health care in the three years after switching to an HSA. Spending was also lower for outpatient services and pharmaceuticals, without any increase in emergency-room spending.

As millions of consumers begin using HSAs, the medical-care market will begin to transform and deliver services that are convenient and affordable for patients.

4. Deregulate the market for medical services. HSAs will empower the demand side of the market, but suppliers need freedom from regulation to provide packages of services better tailored to people’s needs. For example, those consumers who maintain HSA balances should be allowed to use their resources to purchase direct care—basic services that keep people healthy and treat illnesses and chronic conditions—from physician groups. This might take the form of a monthly fee, a practice sometimes referred to as direct primary care. Today, this could be considered an insurance premium that’s barred by law.

Hospitals and physicians should also be allowed to sell access to their networks of clinics, oncology services, and inpatient facilities as an option to be used in the event a patient is diagnosed with an expensive illness. Medicare patients should be allowed to purchase the option to consult with their caregivers by phone, videoconferencing, or email. These are only some of the needed reforms. Regulation shouldn’t be an obstacle to entrepreneurs crafting more consumer-oriented services, many of which can’t be countenanced under current rules.

American health care is teetering because it relies too much on governmental coercion. A functioning marketplace can deliver high-quality care at lower cost. Now is the time to secure a system that empowers consumers to take command of their health care.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Welcome the Pegasus Institute to KY!

I just met with the founders of the Pegasus Institute, Jordan Harris and Josh Crawford and was most impressed. As the C-J recently reported, the Pegasus Institute is the first center-right think tank founded by Millennials.

Harris and Crawford are committed to tackling problems that have held Kentucky back for decades. Look to them to present market-based policy solutions backed with data and peer-reviewed research from leading conservative academics across the country.

The formation of this think tank comes at a perfect time, with the Republican majority in the Kentucky House for the first time in 92 years. Pegasus Institute can equip Republicans with solid policy proposals that have been proven to work in other states.

They are poised to fill an important niche: research and policy formation -- the true role of a think tank -- as distinct from issue advocacy.

The Pegasus Institute is organized as a 501(c)(3). Donations to it are therefore deductible, and from what I've seen, this will be a good place for conservatives and libertarians to donate.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My C-J Column: Gangs Fuel Murders in L'ville

Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal:

It’s an uncomfortable headline for a place that touts itself as a “Compassionate City”:  “OUR BLOODIEST YEAR - Thanksgiving homicides push 2016 body count past the previous record - with 5 weeks to go.”  The front page piece in last Saturday’s Courier-Journal  distills some disturbing facts.

Of the 113 victims at the time of this writing, two-thirds were under age 35; 12 were juveniles. Approximately 60 percent were black. This is the highest number of homicides in Louisville since at least 1960 when statistics on the subject were first kept.

How awful to contemplate the grief, the empty chairs, in all those homes this holiday season.

These statistics should outrage all Louisvillians. Unfortunately, the geographic concentration of the homicides tends to make the crime seem remote to those of us who don’t live in the areas with the most homicides: Russell, Shawnee, Shelby Park, Parkland, Beechmont, and Shively.

The Fischer administration seems loath to name these neighborhoods. In a WDRB interview with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Police Chief Steve Conrad, the latter said that 50 percent of the shootings occurred in 11 neighborhoods.

Conrad then stated, "No one wants to have their neighborhood labeled, but we consider these neighborhoods hot spots, and we're focusing our patrol efforts in these 11 neighborhoods in particular.”

That’s great to patrol known problem areas. Common sense would dictate no less. The caution about not labeling neighborhoods, however, smacks of political correctness. Surely the people who live there are acutely aware of the problem.

It’s much harder to solve a problem that one will not name for fear of causing offense — as we learned from eight years of the Obama administration refusing to call out radical Islamic terrorism for what it is.

 There seems to be a similar reticence on the part of the mayor to discuss the role that gangs play in this crime wave.

Conrad confirmed in March that Louisville has gangs — at least 25. Fischer, however, hasn’t said much publicly about the presence of gangs in Louisville and the connection to the rising homicide rate.
To be sure, LMPD and the mayor do not want to say anything that gives a gang notoriety that increases its prominence. It’s like not naming a mass murderer, so as to deter copycats who crave fame. Still, the presence of gangs generally in Louisville is a public health crisis and must be addressed as such. How about a task force to address gang violence, composed of members of the clergy, educators, law enforcement, youth, mental health practitioners and others?

When WDRB asked Fisher why 2016 has been such a violent year, Fischer pointed to many explanations:

  Well unfortunately, it's not just a problem for our city. This is a real national epidemic that's going on right now. Three-quarters of U.S. cities are seeing these significant upticks in violent crime like we are.
  But when you take a look at the violent crime in our city, just like all over the country, it usually has a couple of things involved. One is illegal drug activity, and two is improper use of guns and people's inability to solve problems. So that's an issue, domestic violence is an issue, then you have random violence like we saw yesterday. It's just not helpful. It's a real national epidemic.

Note that Fischer’s answer does not mention gangs. That’s a curious omission, given their large number here.

Nor is it acceptable to rationalize Louisville’s crime problem as part of a “national epidemic.” In so doing, Fischer ignores that most U.S. cities — like Louisville — are run by Democrats, and have been for decades.

Democrat mayors have run Cleveland for more than 25 years. Democrat mayors have ruled Detroit for over 63 years. That hasn’t worked out so well for either city. Likewise for Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, Los Angeles.  In New Orleans, which last had a Republican mayor in 1872, one person was killed and nine injured in shootings in the French Quarter this past weekend - despite strict new gun laws.

 Democrat control has turned inner cities into war zones where children are dying. And where regulations and lawsuits deter businesses like Wal-Mart from relocating.

 Fischer stood 200 feet from the Thanksgiving shootings at the Juice Bowl. He’s seen the violence first-hand and doubtless wants to do everything in his power to end it.

Republicans also need to offer an alternative, here and in cities across the country. Republican Rudy Giuliani turned around New York City. It can be done here, as well. And the central issue must be: who can reduce crime and thereby keep our children safe?
  • Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad on violence: Will 'continue to adjust' police focus
    Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad on violence: Will 'continue to adjust' police focus
  • Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer: 'We're all in this together'
    Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer: 'We're all in this together'
  • Two killed and four injured in Shawnee Park
    Two killed and four injured in Shawnee Park
  • LMPD Chief Conrad, Mayor Fischer, Yvette Gentry on violence (Full)
    LMPD Chief Conrad, Mayor Fischer, Yvette Gentry on violence (Full)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Congratulations, Elaine Chao!

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Elaine Chao to serve as Secretary of Transportation. We are so proud of our adopted Kentuckian and extend to her our prayers and congratulations.

Elaine served as Secretary of Labor for George W. Bush. She also served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation. It's a natural fit for her skill set and background, particularly since her father built a shipping business after emigrating from Taiwan.

I have always found Chao's biography inspirational. She came to this country at age eight, speaking not a word of English. She will now have served in cabinets of two different departments for two different presidents. What an extraordinary American success story.

Transportation will play a central role in the upcoming infrastructure rebuild. We are glad that it is in good hands.

Chao's appointment also solidifies Trump's relationship with Chao's husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

That makes Chao and McConnell the nation's most prominent power couple.

Here's some of the coverage:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Congressman Comer Settling In

I ran in to Congressman Jamie Comer at Reagan National on Friday, flying back to Kentucky. Comer has  already been sworn in, due to Former Congressman Ed Whitfield's resignation before the election. That early swearing-in gives Comer seniority over all the newly-elected members of Congress -- a huge advantage, given that 60 members were just elected, and Comer is now senior to all of them.

Comer said that he will move into his new office in about a week. In the meantime, he is using former Congressman Ed Whitfield's office.

From a distance, I watched Comer interact with a number of Kentuckians who approached him to offer their congratulations. None of these people lived in his district, but Comer could not have been more gracious. I saw him give his card to two U of L students and offer to help them if they need anything.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump Off to Good Start

President-elect Donald Trump's choice of Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff was a great pick. It reminded me of Gov. Matt Bevin's early choice of Steve Pitt as General Counsel, followed by Scott Brinkman as Secretary of the Executive Cabinet.

By selecting such highly respected and experienced people, Bevin made clear that he would govern with seriousness of purpose. It helped united the Republican party, which had been badly fractured after the primary. Most importantly, it drew talented people into the administration -- people who had not supported Bevin in the primary.

Reince Priebus is of this ilk. His appointment will have a similar effect. The left is seizing upon his appointment as a violation of Trump's plan to "drain the swamp."  To the contrary, Priebus comes from Wisconsin where Scott Walker first demonstrated what swamp-draining looks like.

It's a good pick, and I look forward to others. I hear that Rudy Giuliani wants Defense. National Review is pushing John Bolton for Secretary of State. These would be outstanding selections.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election Results - More than We Could Ask For or Imagine

I am profoundly grateful for so many answered prayers. I feel like our Commonwealth and our country have stepped back from an abyss. I have not felt this optimistic about the future in a long time.

The Kentucky House Flips!

As you can see above, I predicted the state house would flip, but I did not expect this number of wins. Unlike the U.S. Senate, the Kentucky House does not have a filibuster, so there is no real need to get 60 votes. Except for this: we now have a cushion that will permit Republicans to disagree with a given bill without tanking it. That will be important, for example, to Republicans in heavy union districts who would be uncomfortable voting for right to work.

Right to work would not be possible with a slim Republican majority. The voters elected a super majority, however, and this will allow for broad, transformational change to allow Kentucky to finally compete with neighboring states.

Coupled with the bold leadership of Gov. Bevin and the talented leaders he's assembled, we are poised for historic, once in a century reform.

For anyone who is a parent, we now have an opportunity to make Kentucky a place that can offer our children a reason to stay here.

And to take down Greg Stumbo! I'm always awestruck that he can find his way home to his district to vote for himself. Now he is relieved of the burden of pretending he lives there.

Special congratulations to Jonathan Shell who did an outsanding job in candidate recruitment.

We Hold the U.S. Senate!

Given the map Republicans had to defend, this was always dicey. Next election will be much easier and give Republicans an opportunity to expand the majority, hopefully to 60.

Congratulations to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the NRSC.  McConnell's decision to delay a vote on Justice Scalia's successor until after the election has now been vindicated.

And we got another Randslide! Congratulations to Sen. Paul; we are proud of you and grateful for your service.  Factoid:  Sen. Paul was the only senator to vote against the confirmation of James Comey.

A Republican President!

Well done, Donald Trump. He understood that ordinary citizens are enraged at the elites and sick and tired of the condescension, the political correctness, and the erosion of the American Dream.

This will be the first time in my life time that we have a Republican president and control both Houses of Congress. The possibilities are staggering.

Obamacare can finally be repealed and replaced with something that allows for competition to reduce prices.

The Supreme Court and the rule of law are safe for another generation.

God has once again blessed America.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Huge Turnout in East Louisville

I've been voting at the same polling place for 21 years and have never seen it as crowded as this morning. It's also the furthest away I've ever had to park to vote.

The poll worker observed that they had a long line outside waiting to vote before the polls opened. Lots of young people, including some who'd come home from college.

The atmosphere was festive. I did not get the sense that people were holding their noses to vote. To the contrary, everyone was very upbeat.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Predictions

  • I predict the Kentucky House will flip, with Republicans ending up with at least 53 seats, including some historic pick-ups in Eastern Kentucky.
  • Hillary wins the popular vote  -- for me, the closer issue is whether she carries the Electoral College
  • Republicans hold the Senate. 
  • Rand Paul wins by well north of 10 points -- I predict 16.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cautiously Optimistic About the State House

Trump's 20-plus point lead in Kentucky is likely to help some Republican candidates for state rep. That's particularly true in Eastern Kentucky, where Hillary Clinton's anti-coal comments have made her reviled.

Estimates range from Republicans getting a slim majority of 51 in the state house to more optimistic projections of 58. If the more conservative predictions are correct, it is likely that Republicans could get a few Democrat representatives to flip, should the GOP take the majority. That's why it is so important to help those Dems who have already switched.

The Republican Party of Kentucky and outside groups that share its goals have wisely put money into Denny Butler's and Jim Gooch's races. These guys took a risk switching parties, and Republicans should (and are) back them up.

Denny has a tough district, in terms of registration. And Trump is not as popular there as he is in other parts of the state. Still, Denny is well-known and liked, and his law and order message is timely.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

West End Screwed Out of Its Walmart

How sad that the Walmart planned for West Louisville is now officially dead. The elites have won -- notwithstanding that most members of the community who would have been directly affected by the construction of a new Walmart wanted it.

But no, the East End snobs who think they know better than the little people had to intervene to make sure it aesthetically pleased them.

Please, the people who file these sort of law suits don't need a job at Walmart and probably have never  even shopped in one.

This Walmart would have brought 300 jobs to an area of Louisville that desperately needs jobs. Complain all you want about the minimum wage, or what Walmart pays, or what its store front looks like, but for a teenager in the West End with no work history, this was a chance to make some money and earn a reference for a better job in the future.

And it would have provided residents with a place to shop that offered the steep discounts of economy of scale. All within their neighborhood, in a neighborhood where transportation is an issue because many are too poor to afford cars.

The efforts to prevent the West End Walmart, which have now succeeded, are just another chapter in the tragedy of our inner cities.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Paducah Sun Right About McConnell

A thoughtful piece in today's Paducah Sun on Senate Majority Leader's appropriate focus, reads in part:

McConnell is pursuing the only rational path. He is disowning the Trump disaster and focusing on trying to preserve the Republican majority in the Senate. Politico reported this week that the Senate Leadership Fund, a superpac with close ties to McConnell, is putting $25 million into seven Senate races viewed as critical to the balance of power in the chamber next year.
Conservatives everywhere had best hope these efforts are successful. Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, currently the minority leader, has said Democrats will invoke the "nuclear option" to approve Supreme Court nominees next year if they gain the Senate majority. By that Reid means his colleagues will rescind a longstanding Senate rule effectively requiring 60 votes for a nominee to be approved rather than a simple majority. Reid's Democrats did just that with lower-court appointees when last they ruled the Senate. But they stopped short of doing so with Supreme Court nominees.
If that changes, Hillary Clinton will be in a position to put whomever she wants on the court, including nominees whose views would never have survived Senate scrutiny under the current system.
Unfortunately Trump has made saving the Senate a tall task for the GOP. But McConnell has chosen to fight from the best hill he can find, the only one that gives him a chance to fend off a Clinton White House

Elect Jason Nemes

Jason Nemes is running for State House, to represent Eastern Jefferson County and the Crestwood part of Oldham County. It is very important that we elect him.

Jason is a conservative, a man of integrity and intellect.  As an attorney, he has the skill set to tackle some of the complex but boring issues that most don't want to bother with  -- things like tax reform, and pension reform. Not the sort of issues that can be reduced to sound bites, but real reform that Kentucky needs to regain our competitive edge against neighboring states.

Jason's a really good guy. We are so fortunate that he is willing to serve, and I hope that we send him to Frankfort as part of a new majority.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My C-J Column on Anti-Catholic Comments Revealed in WikiLeaks

Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal, minus the ad in the middle:

The WikiLeaks emails have revealed an anti-Catholic bias in the Clinton campaign that shocked and saddened me. I had mistakenly thought that particular brand of bigotry had faded away decades ago, with the election of John F. Kennedy.
WikiLeaks published a 2011 email exchange between Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri and John Halpin, of the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank founded by Clinton campaign chair Roger Podesta. Podesta is copied on the emails but apparently did not respond to this particular string entitled “Conservative Catholicism” (although he did participate in other troubling emails).
The leaked emails reflect a disdain for one-fourth of the population, a pivotal group of swing voters.
In the exchange, Halpin mocks Fox News Network Rupert Murdoch founder for raising his children Catholic: “... Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.”
“It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith,” Halpin continues. “They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”

Palmieri responds, “I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they become evangelicals.”
Halpin replies, “Excellent point. They can throw around ‘Thomastic’ thought and ‘subsidarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.”
Most bizarre, Halpin is CatholicSo is Palmieri. It’s like black rappers using the n-word. But a slur is still a slur, even when tinged with self-deprecation or self-loathing. Some things simply should not be said — by anyone. Like calling Catholics “backwards.”
Predictably, Halpin says that the emails were taken out of context: “my intention in this private note was not to insult Catholics or people of faith, but rather in an admittedly offhanded manner, to make a fleeting point about perceived hypocrisy and the flaunting of one’s faith by prominent conservative leaders.”
Palmieri says she does not recognize the emails and won’t parse each leak. Not exactly a denial. Or apology. Or even rationalization, as Halpin attempted.
The emails made me recall my grandmother describing how when she went to college in the ’20's, sororities were segregated by religion. She joined a Catholic one. She could not have joined the one I later chose. My grandmother would not be particularly surprised at the Wikileaks emails:  they just confirm the prejudice to which she was accustomed.
By the time I went to college, the Catholic sororities had long since closed, at least on my campus, presumably because those sororities that had once excluded Catholics finally welcomed people of all faiths and races.
The current composition of the Supreme Court similarly reflects the integration of Catholics into the American melting pot.
A majority of the justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic. That’s remarkable progress, given that not that long ago that there was one unofficial “Catholic seat” on the court (though from 1949-56 there was no Catholic justice on the court).
The changes that have occurred since JFK’s election are why Halpin’s and Palmieri’s emails struck many as such a throw-back to a less tolerant time. Perhaps I was naive to think that such attitudes had died off. Still, how discouraging to see its resurgence among the closest advisors to someone who may become president. To be sure, some biases fade slowly. That doesn’t explain or justify this bigotry’s resilience among those in Clinton’s inner circle.
The Clinton campaign spent weeks condemning allegedly anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric. Yet there has been no condemnation from Clinton or her campaign about Halpin’s and Palmieri’s viciousness. Indeed, as of this writing, Clinton has not said a word about these emails.
Instead, her campaign just whines about supposed Russian hackers.
No one has repudiated the authenticity of the emails; there’s been no suggestion that the Russians drafted the emails — just that they may have had some role in obtaining or disseminating them.
We didn’t need the Russians to tell us when President Barack Obama sneered at “bitter” people who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them.”  The Halpin and Palmieri emails share that contempt for people of faith. There’s an ugly pattern here.
In addition to mocking Catholics, the emails reflect the disdain for evangelicals that we’ve come to expect from Democrats. It is still politically correct to mock evangelical Christians, whom liberals mischaracterize as bigots.
No evangelical sits on the Supreme Court. Do not look for Clinton to appoint one.
Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment condemned people who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic” but not the Catholic-phobic or evangelicalaphobic: they get a pass from Clinton.
Clinton’s campaign slogan is “Stronger Together.” It drips with the ironic phoniness that we’ve come to expect from the Clintons.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

WikiLeaks Reveals Dems Were Worried About Rand Paul

There's this nugget in the latest from WikiLeaks:  A DNC memo revealed that Dems were worried about Rand Paul's presidential bid.

more will need to be done on certain candidates to undermine their credibility among our coalition (communities of color, millennials, women) and independent voters. In this regard, the goal here would be to show that they are just the same as every other GOP candidate: extremely conservative on these issues....
• Rand Paul -- What to undermine: the idea he is a "different" kind of Republican; his stance on the military and his appeal to millennials and communities of color.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Voting "Modernization" A Ruse to Change the Rules

Here's my latest column in the Courier-Journal, reprinted with permission;

The surest way to win a contest is to change the rules to suit one’s side. To that end, Democrats seek to guarantee victory through election “modernization.” Step one would implement automatic universal voter registration; step two would make voting compulsory.
Democrat-controlled Oregon (the first state to legalize assisted suicide) is also the first state to enact universal automatic registration, quickly followed by fellow blue state California. According to the Brennan Center, five states have approved it, and 29 states have considered it, thankfully not Kentucky. It’s been introduced at the federal level.
Automatic voter registration replaces an opt-in system with an opt-out. When a citizen goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles or other government agency, he is automatically registered to vote — unless he opts out. This is the opposite of our current system, at least in Kentucky.
There are some unintended consequences. Voter rolls will become more inaccurate. Many states allow illegal aliens to get driver’s licenses and other benefits. Inevitably, automatic voter registration will dump some percentage of ineligible voters on the rolls, either through bureaucratic negligence or an irresistible opportunity to cheat.
Inaccurate voter rolls invite vote fraud. Names cannot be fraudulently voted unless they are on the rolls.
In addition, automatic voter registration can actually disenfranchise primary voters, the opposite of the policy’s intent. The default party status for automatically registered voters is independent. Some Oregon voters who were automatically registered did not know they had to contact the state to designate registration with a political party. So they lost the opportunity to vote in Oregon’s closed primary.
At least Oregon Democrats haven’t made the default party registration Democrat, with an “opt-out” for Republicans.
To be sure, voting registration should be easy and convenient. Approximately one-fourth to one-third of Americans are unregistered. Voter registration drives that target high school students, like Inspire Kentucky, are to be commended for improving those numbers.
But automatic registration paternalistically assumes that non-registered citizens are too stupid to figure out how to register or too lazy to bother; therefore, the state must step in and do it for them. That’s insulting. Yet apparently it’s how some Democrats view their potential electorate.
In any event, automatic registration only increases voting slightly, by 3 percent,according to MIT and Wittenberg University. That’s why Democrats like President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who favor automatic registration, also support its evil twin, mandatory voting.
Compulsory voting is modeled after countries like Australia that impose fines on citizens who fail to vote. We don’t want to be outclassed by North Korea: 100 percentvoter turnout!
After Democrats lost the 2014 mid-term elections, Obama called for compulsory voting to transform the country.  And indeed it would, but not in a good way.
Voting is speech. Compelling a citizen to vote is compelling that citizen to speak even if he wants to stay silent. Our government’s legitimacy rests upon the just consent of the governed. If those governed are forced to vote against their will, there is no true consent.
Compulsory voting is an authoritarian encroachment on our most fundamental liberties. Any time the government forces us to do something, it diminishes our freedom. (Hello, Obamacare.) How sad to do so in the context of voting, which should celebrate and reflect our freedom from tyranny.
Proponents of compulsory voting justify its coercion by pointing to low voter turnout, as if that is necessarily a bad thing. People who have no interest in voting likely haven’t educated themselves on the issues or the candidates. Is a forced vote, cast randomly, really better than a vote not cast?
This issue comes up with judicial elections. Many non-lawyer friends tell me that they do not vote in the judicial elections because they don’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice and there are too many races to remember endorsements. So they leave blank the section of the ballot on judicial candidates.
Such voters are not derelict in their civic duty. To the contrary, they have the humility to know what they don’t know and therefore defer to voters who are more engaged in those races.
Sometimes the decision not to vote is a protest vote — speech that says, in effect, “my choices stink.” Imagine what our choices will look like if we have no choice but to pick one. Worse yet, the winner will claim a “mandate.” A mandated mandate.
I never miss voting in an election. When I vote, I give thanks for those who sacrificed their lives in service to our country. I view voting as a right and a privilege, paid for with blood. To legislate it into an obligation subject to a fine for non-compliance — like paying taxes — seems un-American.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

So Much For Left-Wing Tolerance

I just learned that my last C-J column (opposing a HUD affirmative housing rule) prompted one of my haters to call me the "c-word."

When it comes to the Left, it's "tolerance for me, but not for thee."

Maybe I should report his hate crime!

Don't Let The Door "HIT" American Taxpayers On Obama's Way Out

As surely as the credit card bills that arrive after Christmas, the Health Insurance Tax is coming to town. Only instead of the charges having to be paid by those people who freely gave, HIT makes those who had no part in doling out the Obamacare goodies get stuck with the bills.

One of the dirty secrets of that law House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi didn't want anyone to read -- ironically titled the "Affordable Care Act" -- is that, rather than making health care more affordable, it is a vehicle to raise taxes on hardworking Americans. And, surprise, surprise, the taxes -- (not) affectionately known as "HIT" -- do not land their full blow until President Obama is well out the door of the White House.

Intended as a way to pay for Obamacare, HIT falls squarely on small business. That leads, in turn, to higher costs for hardworking families -- particularly those seriously struggling to get by. More than half of the entire tax is paid by those with incomes between $10,000 and $50,000. And estimates show the tax will cost small businesses and families $5,000 in higher premiums over a decade.

Last December Congress suspended the tax until 2018. But merely postponing the tax is hardly a fair way to treat American workers. Like all taxes do, HIT discourages the market from producing the thing targeted by the tax. As a recent study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute ("EBRI") found, that during the first seven years of Obamacare (2008-2015):

*  Health care insurance coverage dropped by 36% among small businesses with fewer than 10 employees,

*  There was a 26% decrease in coverage for small businesses with 10 to 24 employees, and

*  Coverage reduced 10% for employers with 25 to 99 employees.

The evidence is in that Obamacare, with all of its "affordable" regulations and taxes, isn't a good value at all. It needs to be repealed and replaced in the new Congress under the leadership of the new President. Permanently blocking President Obama's parting punch of the American taxpayer will be an important first step.

Please note: The postings of "G. Morris", written by John K. Bush and which end in 2016, stated his views as of the dates of posting and should not be understood as current assertions of his views. The postings, which have not been altered since they came to an end, remain on this blog to preserve the historical record. In 2017, Mr. Bush took a position that precludes further public political comments or endorsements. He will no longer be contributing to this blog.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Judge Amul Thapar Makes Trump SCOTUS List!

Judge Amul Thapar, federal district court judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky, has made Donald Trump's expanded list of judges whom he'd consider for nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Judge Thapar, a former federal prosecutor, is smart and conservative, and a really good guy. He's very proactive at moving his cases along.

Interesting that he is on Trump's radar. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

KY House Quest Gets National Attention

The Hill has an important piece today on the role Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has played in turning Kentucky red, and the final piece:  flipping the KY House.

Friday, September 9, 2016

ICMYI -- ABA Rule a Threat to Free Speech

I forgot to post my C-J column for last month, and reprint it below with permission of the Courier-Journal.  Although the topic that prompted it as an American Bar Association, anyone who works in a job requiring a license should be alarmed at this attempt to censor free speech. And as I've written about previously, more and more people are required to obtain licenses for their jobs -- even sod growers!

Those speech codes that have made free expression on college campuses so perilous for conservatives are no longer limited to the Academy. Thanks to the American Bar Association, licensed professionals appear to be the next to encounter censorship posing as “tolerance.”
Long a bastion of liberalism, the ABA has outdone itself with vague new restrictions to eradicate “bias.” The ABA recently amended Rule 8.4 in its Model Rules of Professional Conduct to compel lawyers toadhere to a speech code or face disciplinary action — like suspension or disbarment.
Rule 8.4 prohibits “harmful verbal or physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice toward others.”
Much of the impetus of this rule, according to the New York Times, is that we lady lawyers must be shielded from misogynists who call us “honey,” lest we’re forced to take to our fainting couches in the middle of a deposition.
Individual states determine whether to adopt the rule, but most state bar ethics rules track the ABA Model Rules, often verbatim.
The ABA also accredits law schools, which it forces to teach legal ethics classes that no doubt study the ABA Model Rules. So in addition to creating a new vehicle to punish lawyers who deviate from liberal orthodoxy, Rule 8.4 will lead to more left-wing indoctrination of law students. As if they need it.
The rule is much broader than typical discrimination laws. It applies to comments that can be perceived as “harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.” “Harassment” means “derogatory verbal or physical conduct.
Thankfully, those Founding Fathers who were lawyers were not subject to this speech code. They could never have criticized King George III — it would have manifested “bias” against his “national origin” (British), and his “socioeconomic status” (King).
Ostensibly, the rule will improve the reputation of the legal profession by protecting people from being offended. In reality, it punishes lawyers who speak about controversial topics and hold a politically incorrect viewpoint that supposedly “manifests bias.”
Affirmative action gets an exception from the rule; lawyers may show “bias” so long as it helps a favored group.The rule does not apply to “legitimate” advice or advocacy,” whatever that means.
Nonetheless, the rule’s breadth is potentially quite staggering; it extends far beyond the courtroom.
“Verbal… conduct” that occurs at a “bar association, business or social activities in connection with the practice of law” is subject to discipline. That could encompass a conversation about current events at a law firm dinner or bar association cocktail party or maybe a Rotary luncheon. It could apply to a lawyer giving a speech, or writing a column.
And if the Federalist Society, for example, hosted a debate on transgender bathrooms, or immigration reform, a lawyer who takes the wrong position on those topics risks discipline for professional misconduct. Because this rule was amended to promote leftist ideology, only one lawyer in a debate need worry.
In one sense, Rule 8.4 is not surprising.  As the Federalist Society pointed out, Justice Samuel Alito’s prediction in his dissent from the gay marriage case,Obergefell v. Hodges, is coming true — sooner than anyone expected:  “I assume that those who cling to the old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employees, and schools.”
The ABA rule does more than label someone a bigot: at its most draconian, disciplinary action can prevent a lawyer from practicing law — providing for one’s family — for holding a political or religious viewpoint that the authorities deem “biased.”
Even bar disciplinary action that is less severe than disbarment, like a reprimand, is still deeply embarrassing. Consequently, the possibility of a bar complaint terrifies lawyers. That chills free expression and open debate, which is exactly the point — to replace freedom of speech with freedom from speech that is offensive to some.
The profession most responsible for protecting the First Amendment would eat its own for exercising their First Amendment rights. The Framers would be appalled.
Disciplinary action should be imposed if a lawyer steals from a client or bribes a judge or commits any number of ethical breaches. It should not apply to expressing an opinion, even an unpopular opinion.
Former Reagan administration Attorney General Ed Meese complained to the ABA about the rule’s “clear and extraordinary threat to free speech and religious liberty.” The ABA rule, Meese said, “resembles the laws and tactics of oppressive regimes around the globe that America unapologetically opposes. It is not an overstatement to say that this proposed rule borders on fascism."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Poverty is Not a Place

My Courtier-Journal column opposes a recent federal regulation on affirmative action for housing. Reprinted with permission:

President Barack Obama has fundamentally transformed the concept of “neighborhood watch.” Instead of combatting crime, he seeks to use federal regulations to police our right to live in the neighborhoods of our choice. Hillary Clinton, if elected, would take this terrible idea and run with it, to the extent she can still run.
It’s called “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH), and it’s essentially affirmative action for housing, to force American neighborhoods to become more diverse and “inclusive.”
Fact: housing discrimination has been illegal since the 1960s. It has been against the law to discriminate in the rental or sale of housing based on race or ethnicity for more than half a century. As it should be.
Discrimination includes “steering,” whereby a minority buyer or renter is prodded to live elsewhere. Yet the new regulation, AFFH, steers minorities into communities that HUD wants to diversify.
AFFH goes much further than just punishing discrimination. It would force municipalities that accept federal grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to submit detailed information about the race, ethnicity, income, disability, and familial status of its citizens for comparison to regional demographics.
If the federal government deems the town too homogenous, HUD would require a plan to bring in new residents to diversify the population. That could include changing the zoning laws to allow high-density housing and paying to build hundreds of units of low-income housing.
The rule’s vagueness gives broad discretion to unelected bureaucrats (“community planners”). Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing “means taking meaningful actions” to “address significant disparities in housing needs and in access to opportunity, replacing segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns.”  A federally-mandated utopia!
If a neighborhood is composed of people of similar backgrounds, HUD presumes that the commonality must stem from insidious discrimination.
So much for New York’s Chinatown, Boston’s Little Italy, and Chicago’s Greek Town, or any of the many wonderful ethnic neighborhoods across the country. Under HUD’s reasoning, these neighborhoods are “segregated” and must be “diversified" — even if the clustering of the ethnicity occurred as an exercise of free choice.
Some people prefer to live near their family and church. But the elitists at HUD assume everyone wants — or should want — to live in the ‘burbs, not the ‘hood.
To be sure, the composition of many neighborhoods reflect the cost of real estate. Poor people tend not to move to Martha’s Vineyard; they cannot afford it. We shouldn’t pay bureaucrats to quantify this reality. Or give federal grants to increase inclusiveness there. (Yes, Martha’s Vineyard gets HUD grants.)
Moving to a good neighborhood is and should be aspirational — to motivate parents to work hard to provide a better life for their children. A home in a safe neighborhood epitomizes the American Dream. As anti-discrimination laws were enforced from 1968 on, this dream became a reality for a broader cross-section of Americans.
In the 1975 sitcom, The Jeffersons, George and Louise Jefferson were African-Americans who moved from Archie Bunker’s neighborhood in Queens to the Upper East Side. George Jefferson made it to his “deluxe apartment in the sky” not due to a HUD relocation plan but by working hard and taking entrepreneurial risks.
Obama is right that a child’s zip code should not dictate his destiny. But we cannot all fit into the same zip codes. So let’s address the problems in the zip codes from which HUD wants to import people to achieve diversity. Let’s empower people who so desire to “move up.”
Poverty is not a place. Escaping poverty requires more than moving people to a new neighborhood. A poor person whom HUD relocates to a ritzy zip code is still poor.
To some extent, escape from poverty requires certain behaviors — completing high school, not doing drugs, obeying the law, and waiting to have children until married. This is true regardless of where one lives. Even if one abides by the rules, however, failing schools and a stagnant economy impede social mobility.
Far better to equip Americans to climb the economic ladder, beginning with education. Instead of importing minorities into affluent neighborhoods with good schools, let’s give students in all neighborhoods access to good schools, starting with vouchers and charter schools.
Rather than address the underlying causes of poverty, however, AFFH focuses on the symptom. In a sense, AFFH appears to abandon the possibility of upward mobility. That’s terrifying, and sad, but also revelatory of the liberal mindset: let’s just give stuff to poor people.
The full force of AFFH will not be felt until after the election. Municipalities that want to keep local control should resist the temptation to accept HUD grants. Otherwise, prepare to accept centralized planning, federal overreach and social engineering. Those HUD grants include strings that will strangle freedom of association.