On March 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to freedom of speech. The court said that despite the Topeka, Kansas, church’s contentious behavior — extreme demonstrations against homosexuality, including anti-gay protests at military funerals — such actions are subject to constitutional protections.

State legislatures, however, have attempted to pass laws that would undermine the Supreme Court ruling. The latest endeavor can be found in Illinois.

On Sunday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law the “Let Them Rest in Peace Act,” which would force anti-gay protests at military funerals to be at least 300 feet — the length of a football field — from military funerals. Additionally, the bill bans protests from taking place 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after funerals.

At the time he signed the law, Governor Quinn declared:

Both incumbent Democrats facing recall elections on August 16 managed to hold their Wisconsin state Senate seats, leaving Republicans with a narrow 17-to-16 majority following the largest string of recall campaigns in American history.

Democratic state Sen. Jim Holperin survived the election with about 55 percent of the vote against first-time Republican candidate Kim Simac, a Tea Party activist and mother of nine. GOP contender Jonathan Steitz, an attorney, garnered about 42 percent against incumbent Democrat Bob Wirch.

Last week, six Republican state Senators were also forced to defend their seats. Democrats needed to win at least three of those races to gain control of the state Senate, but succeeded in taking only two from vulnerable incumbents — one of whom was facing a scandal. In July, another Democrat held on to his office as well.
 

Just three days after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the ObamaCare individual mandate unconstitutional, President Barack Obama insisted that the mandate “should not be controversial” — despite having opposed an individual mandate during his run for President.

On Monday, during the first stop of his three-day Midwestern bus tour, Obama took time to explain why he believes “the individual mandate’s important.” Speaking to an audience in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, the President framed the matter thus:

Here’s the problem: If an insurance company has to take you, has to insure you, even if you’re sick, but you don’t have an individual mandate, then what would everybody do? They would wait till they get sick and then you’d buy health insurance, right?

Controversy over an executive order issued by Rick Perry in 2007 is following the Texas Governor on the presidential campaign trail. In New Hampshire on Saturday and in Iowa on Monday, Perry faced questions about his order to have girls entering the sixth grade in Texas vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted disease and the cause of about 70 percent of all cervical cancer, according to the federal Center for Disease Control.

Girls would be exempt from the order only if a parent or guardian signed an affidavit claiming a "conscientious objection." The order, signed by the Governor on February 2, 2007, became the subject of sharp and widespread criticism and the Legislature promptly passed a law revoking it. According to the ABC News blog, "The Note," Perry was asked about the controversial order during a backyard reception for the candidate at the home of state Rep. Pamela Tucker in Greenland, New Hampshire.

While many are complaining about the recent debt-ceiling deal, is it really the issue? Sure, statists say that the Republicans steered us toward crisis with their initial unwillingness to compromise, while traditionalists complain that the GOP folded and “let us down again.” Our problems, however, lie not in our politicians but in ourselves.

Just so you know, my solution to our spending woes would be to once again limit the central government to only that which our Constitution dictates it may do, which would cause its budget to immediately shrink by at least two-thirds — and probably far more. Of course, this would involve eliminating bureaucracies such as the Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and programs such as Social Security and federally provided food stamps. There would be nothing to fear, either, as there is much duplication here; for example, states have their own environmental and education agencies and other bureaucracies/programs that render the feds’ corresponding ones redundant. And why are we paying for two different levels of government to do the same thing? As for third-rail program Social Security, it could be devolved to the states, whose residents could then decide what its future would be.
 

The developments that have taken place in the 17 years that have passed since the death of Dr. Russell Kirk (1918-1994) have demonstrated the enduring significance of the writings of one of the pivotal thinkers of 20th century American conservatism. The American body politic seems mortally ill, and many of the current crop of “conservative” writers are utterly incapable of addressing the actual needs of these United States with even a fraction of the wisdom that Kirk readily displayed throughout his long career. The Intercollegiate Institute’s 2006 collection of Kirk’s essays, The Essential Russell Kirk, offered a new generation of conservatives an opportunity to encounter a broad range of his scholarship. Now, a second edition of Charles C. Brown’s Russell Kirk — A Bibliography, will further aid in the study of the writes of the “Sage of Mecosta.” The second edition of Kirk’s bibliography is not a minor update; the first edition was published 30 years ago — long before many of his significant later books had been written. The fundamental structure of Brown’s first edition has been retained, including every aspect of Kirk’s writings (and now expanded to include published interviews). The task undertaken by Brown — who serves as archivist of the Kirk Papers — provides a tremendous resource for a careful examination of various aspects of Kirk’s thought.

California has provided yet another example of just how far the tentacles of the Nanny State can reach. California’s legislature will be confronted by a load of bills to consider upon its return from a month-long recess, one of which mandates that hotels eliminate flat sheets and requires all hotels to have fitted sheets on hotel beds.

Section 1 of the legislation requires:

The use of a fitted sheet, instead of a flat sheet, as the bottom sheet on all beds within the lodging establishment. For the purpose of this section, a "fitted sheet" means a bed sheet containing elastic or similar material sewn into each of the four corners that allows the sheet to stay in place over the mattress.

Tea Party activist Ryan Rhodes confronted President Obama publicly at a town hall meeting in Iowa and demanded to know whether or not Vice President Joe Biden did in fact call Tea Partiers “terrorists” during the debt ceiling debate. Reports indicate that Obama did engage in a “heated back and forth” with the activist but refused to directly answer the question.

On August 1, Vice President Joe Biden and a number of other House Democrats issued a verbal lashing to Tea Party Republicans, accusing them of having “acted like terrorists” in the fight over the debt ceiling.

According to Politico, Biden was “agreeing with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike Doyle,” who said, “We have negotiated with terrorists. This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.” Biden later made a similar statement, “They have acted like terrorists.”

Immediately after her noteworthy victory in the Iowa Presidential Straw Poll August 13, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann managed to book herself on all five major Sunday national television political talk shows. But Ron Paul, who finished in a virtual statistical tie with Bachmann — just 152 votes and less than a one-percent difference — was booked on none of them. Zero.

Then there was the Politico.com headline on the straw-poll results that — when moved over to blogrunner.com — became this: "Michele Bachmann wins Ames Straw Poll, Tim Pawlenty gets third."

Umm, isn't something missing there?

"How did libertarian Ron Paul become the 13th floor in a hotel?" Comedy Central's Jon Stewart quipped in an August 15 Daily Show segment poking fun at the obvious censorship of Paul in discussion of "top tier" candidates.
 

A headline on the Politico website told the story — or, more accurately, the part of the story Politico and much of the rest of the news media want told: "Michele Bachmann wins Ames Straw Poll, Tim Pawlenty gets third."

A link takes the reader to "the full article," which notes that Bachmann, the third-term Minnesota congresswoman "won 4,823 votes, narrowly edging out Ron Paul," who received exactly 152 fewer votes among the 16,892 ballots cast. That was the only mention of Paul in the "full article."

It might seem strange that Pawlenty's distant third-pace finish and his exit from the presidential race immediately thereafter should draw more news coverage than Paul's virtual tie with Bachmann for first place. Sunday's New York Times at least fit Paul, rather than Pawlenty, into the headline and noted in its story the closeness of Paul's 28 percent of the vote to Bachmann's 29 percent. (Actually, it was even closer when you look past the rounding off of numbers. Bachmann's total represented. 28.55 percent, while Paul's 4,671 votes gave him 27.65 percent of the total.) But it barely mentioned the Texas Congressman thereafter, beyond noting only that his "libertarian views put him at odds with many Republicans."

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