Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Report: 2.5 million illegal immigrants under Obama, 400,000 yearly

Some 2.5 million illegal immigrants have flowed into the United States under President Obama, with 790,000 rushing in since 2013, according to a new analysis.
Calculations from the Center for Migration Studies and the Pew Research Center indicate 1.5 to 1.7 million aliens joined the illegal population from 2009 to 2013 — either overstaying a temporary visa or sneaking into the country, according to a Center for Immigration Studiesreport out Monday morning.
The immigration watchdog's analysis of Census Bureau data also showed that an additional 790,000 illegals entered from the middle of 2013 to May of 2015, for a total of 2.5 million new illegal immigrants since Obama took office in January of 2009. That is a rate of 300,000 to 400,000 a year.
Illegal immigrants caught at the U.S.-Mexico border. AP Photo
The issue has become explosive under Obama, especially in the last year when tens of thousands of children and young adults joined the regular flow of illegals from Latin America.
It has also embroiled the GOP presidential contest, with Donald Trump blasting Mexico and party leaders worrying about image of Republicans.
But the CIS report written by Steven A. Camarota, director of research, found that illegal immigration was higher under former President George W. Bush, potentially undermining the GOP's bid to sound tough on the issue. Under Bush, 500,000-600,000 illegals surged in a year.
Also, the report found that the overall population of illegals has remained "roughly constant," indicating that the surge in of immigrants is balanced by those going home or getting legal status.
Immigration has become a presidential campaign issue. AP Photo
Other points in the CIS report released Monday:
— Had the United States not allowed so many new illegal immigrants to settle in the country since 2009, the total number of illegal immigrants would have fallen by 2.5 million. But the arrival of so many new illegal immigrants offset this attrition in the illegal population.
— While the level of new illegal immigration is lower than a decade ago, the enormous ongoing scale of illegal immigration is a clear indication that the United States has not come close to controlling it.
— Prior research indicates that roughly half a million illegal immigrants return home on their own each year, are deported, die, or get permanent residence. Those who get legal status each year are not beneficiaries of the president's administrative amnesty known as DACA — which does not give permanent residence, but does provide Social Security numbers, work authorization, and identity documents. Rather it has been long-standing policy to allow those who violate immigration laws to still get green cards (permanent residency) if they qualify in one of the legal immigration categories such as marrying a U.S. citizen.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexamin

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Countering Climate Change with American Ingenuity

Countering Climate Change with American Ingenuity
By Sen. John Cornyn

Federal Reserve blames immigrant kids for robbing jobs from 'native' U.S. teens

American teen employment has dropped 20 percent from the late 1980s, in part because more and more immigrants have flooded into the market to displace native-born kids from jobs in percentages far higher than on adults, according to the Federal Reserve.
"The displacement effect of immigration on the employment of younger persons is much larger than on the employment of prime-age adults," said the September 2014 report, "Labor Force Participation: Recent Developments and Future Prospects."
The Fed report is the second to blame immigrants for taking jobs "native" teens would normally fill and come as new media reports show teen employment down this year.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
However, most of those media reports don't cite immigration as a cause or even cite last year's surge of over 70,000 illegal youths crossing over the U.S.-Mexico border.A July 3 New York Times report on the issue, for example, didn't mention immigration even though the Federal Reserve last fall and in 2012 put a blame on immigration.
That omission prompted an immigration watchdog group to mock theTimes for being political correct.
"It's frustratingly common: The mainstream media discusses a social problem obviously impacted by immigration — overcrowding, low wages, increasing poverty, etc. — but assiduously avoids any mention of immigration. To much of the media, using the word immigration in the context of any social problem has become a taboo, roughly equivalent to saying 'Voldemort' in a Hogwarts classroom," said the Center for Immigration Studies.
A 2012 Fed report said that just a 1 percent increase in low-skill immigration reduces native teenage work hours by 0.3 percent.
The abstract of that report written by a Fed economist read:
The employment to population rate of high school–aged youth has fallen by about 20 percentage points since the late 1980s. One potential explanation is increased competition from substitutable labor, such as immigrants. I demonstrate that the increase in the population of less educated immigrants has had a considerably more negative effect on employment outcomes for native youth than for native adults. At least two factors are at work: there is greater overlap between the jobs that youth and less educated adult immigrants traditionally do, and youth labor supply appears more responsive to immigration-induced wage changes.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.

Don's Tuesday Column

THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson  Red Bluff Daily News   7/28/2015

        Obama’s jobs, economic failure

Let’s take another look at employment and the economy; Emperor Obama and his cheerleaders insist all is coming up roses—but is that really the case?

Political cartoonist Michael Ramirez is a rare conservative cartoonist among what any honest journalist would admit is a liberal/progressive-dominated field. A July 7 drawing captured this issue: Obama pronounces from his podium, “We created 223,000 jobs in June…Unemployment is now down to 5.3 %.” That’s simply titled, “The Obama Spin.”

Next to Obama, in the rest of the panel, is “The Reality”: “The labor force participation rate is 62.5%, a 38 year low.” (It was 62.8% last November—employment has gotten worse since then) Next to that are other factual employment data: “The civilian labor force declined in June by 432,000—Almost 94 million Americans are NOT working.” (Caps and underscore in original)

Then, “To put that (94 million not working) in perspective, here are the total populations of some of our allies: (Under a small outline of each country) United Kingdom=64 million, France=67 million, Italy=61 million.” Uncle Sam is holding a sign: “A job” next to his “I want” message. Get it? Instead of Uncle Sam saying, “I want you,” he’s saying, “I want a job.”

The shortest explanation would be that America has the lowest labor force participation—the adult population that is working or looking for work—since the Carter presidency. In June, almost twice as many people quit working or looking as found jobs. Many have given up looking because private sector businesses aren’t hiring or, due to Obamacare, they are keeping their employee totals down and using part-timers. Obama bragged about adding 223,000 jobs in a month; that is just about the same as population growth—no big deal.

One analyst, David Stockman (Reagan’s OMB director), calculated the current number of potential adult, full time workers, i.e. those between 18 and 65 not in either the military or prison. That figure is about 210 million, out of 320 million, people. If they all had full time jobs, that would total about 420 billion hours of work in a year. We had, due to the massive growth of part-time jobs and the unemployed, around 240 billion actual hours worked in 2014.

By that measure, there is only about 60 percent of America’s potential work being utilized; we are about 40 percent below what you could call “full employment.” Stockman’s exact figure is “42.9 percent unemployment,” which should be compared with various rates from the Bureau of Labor Standards: U-3=5.3%, U-6=10.4 %. The numbers are dependent on definitions but it is undeniable that unemployment is many times worse than the 5.3% touted by Obama, his defenders and apologists. Search “Real unemployment rate is 42 percent” for details.

I submit (it’s searchable) “This Simple Graph Compares Reagan’s and Obama’s ‘Recoveries’” as another way to contrast employment growth in different recoveries. First, we know that the recession officially ended in June of 2009, when 1) none of Obama’s economic policies took effect so therefore, 2) Obama contributed nothing to ending the recession. Every measurable aspect of recoveries is comparable to other presidents and other recoveries.

“When Ronald Reagan took over from Jimmy Carter in ’81, things were actually worse economically compared to when Obama took over from George W. Bush in ’08.” Unemployment, inflation and interest rates were massively higher for Reagan than Obama.

Yet, the difference in job growth after 37 months of recovery could not be more dramatic. The chart, “Cumulative Job Growth Net of Population Growth,” published May, 2014, showed that nearly 4 million jobs, above the population growth, were added under Reagan; under Obama, that figure is negative 5 million jobs. So, if jobs increased only as fast as the population grew, Obama could boast (yes, he would still beat his tiny drum) that there were 5 million more Americans employed. I’ve looked at BLS numbers for Bush; job growth, overall, slightly exceeded population growth. Unemployment however, was at or under 5%.

“By the end of their second year in office, economic growth under Reagan averaged 7.1%, under Obama an anemic 2.8%. So, how did Reagan manage it? Across-the-board tax cuts, non-defense spending cuts, a restrained monetary supply, and deregulation. What’s Obama done? Tax increases, spending increases, a massive money-supply increase through ‘quantitative easing,’ and an explosive increase in regulations.”

Perhaps the headline, “Unemployed face frustration amid overall job gains” (Daily News, Feb. 8, AP), illustrates what much news coverage has been and remains: the media arm of the Obama-crat machine putting the best spin on a failed recovery and sluggish job growth.

In “The Obama Economic Record: The Worst Five Years Since World War II” (8/11/2014), Dr. Tracy Miller writes: “After four years of slow growth, the latest data reveals that the U.S. economy shrank at a 2.9 percent annual rate during the 1st quarter of 2014” (DP: 1st Q of 2015 also shrank; Obama’s average 1st Q growth was the lowest since 1947)…Not well reported is that “Over the first five years of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. economy grew more slowly than during any five-year period since just after the end of WW II, averaging less than 1.3 percent per year. Removing the sharp recession of 1945-46 following WW II…Obama ranks dead last among all presidents since 1932.” This slow growth should not be a surprise in light of his policies.
(To be continued next week)

Tea Party Patriots will host District 1 Supervisor, Steve Chamblin tonight, 6 PM at the Westside Grange, Walnut St. west of Baker.

A REAL ENVIRONMENTAL THREAT

A REAL ENVIRONMENTAL THREATThe Climate Wars’ Damage to Science. Matt Ridley, the brilliant science writer, is losing faith in science’s ability to test hypotheses and correct mistakes. That would interfere with the agenda of activist scientists and their protectors in the media.
These scientists and their guardians of the flame repeatedly insist that there are only two ways of thinking about climate change—that it’s real, man-made and dangerous (the right way), or that it’s not happening (the wrong way). But this is a false dichotomy. There is a third possibility: that it’s real, partly man-made and not dangerous. This is the “lukewarmer” school, and I am happy to put myself in this category. Lukewarmers do not think dangerous climate change is impossible; but they think it is unlikely.
I find that very few people even know of this. Most ordinary people who do not follow climate debates assume that either it’s not happening or it’s dangerous. This suits those with vested interests in renewable energy, since it implies that the only way you would be against their boondoggles is if you “didn’t believe” in climate change.
They keep saying the science is settled, but consider Ridley’s summary of findings from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):
The IPCC actually admits the possibility of lukewarming within its consensus, because it gives a range of possible future temperatures: it thinks the world will be between about 1.5 and four degrees [Celsius, or about 3 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit] warmer on average by the end of the century. That’s a huge range, from marginally beneficial to terrifyingly harmful, so it is hardly a consensus of danger, and if you look at the “probability density functions” of climate sensitivity, they always cluster towards the lower end.
What is more, in the small print describing the assumptions of the “representative concentration pathways”, it admits that the top of the range will only be reached if sensitivity to carbon dioxide is high (which is doubtful); if world population growth re-accelerates (which is unlikely); if carbon dioxide absorption by the oceans slows down (which is improbable); and if the world economy goes in a very odd direction, giving up gas but increasing coal use tenfold (which is implausible).
But the commentators ignore all these caveats and babble on about warming of “up to” four degrees (or even more), then castigate as a “denier” anybody who says, as I do, the lower end of the scale looks much more likely given the actual data. This is a deliberate tactic. Following what the psychologist Philip Tetlock called the “psychology of taboo”, there has been a systematic and thorough campaign to rule out the middle ground as heretical: not just wrong, but mistaken, immoral and beyond the pale. That’s what the word denier with its deliberate connotations of Holocaust denial is intended to do. For reasons I do not fully understand, journalists have been shamefully happy to go along with this fundamentally religious project.
Read the whole thing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM FAILED IN LAFAYETTE MURDERS


John Russell Houser, the “drifter” who murdered two and wounded several more in a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, was crazy as a loon. That isn’t unusual in such cases, but what is unusual is that Houser was involuntarily committed to a mental institution in 2008. That fact should have prevented him from buying the gun that he used to commit murder, but the federal government’s NICS system failed. The Associated Press reports:
Despite obvious and public signs of mental illness — most importantly, a Georgia judge’s order committing him to mental health treatment against his will as a danger to himself and others in 2008 — Houser was able to walk into an Alabama pawn shop six years later and buy a .40-caliber handgun.
It was the same weapon Houser used to kill two people and wound nine others before killing himself at a Thursday showing of “Trainwreck.”
The court records reviewed by The Associated Press strongly suggest Houser should have been reported to the state and federal databases used to keep people with serious mental illnesses from buying firearms, legal experts said.
“It sure does seem like something failed,” said Judge Susan Tate, who presides over a probate court in Athens, Georgia, and has studied issues relating to weapons and the mentally ill. “I have no idea how he was able to get a firearm.”
Houser never should have been able to buy a gun, said Sheriff Heath Taylor in Russell County, Alabama, whose office denied him a concealed weapons permit in 2006 based on arson and domestic violence allegations, even though the victims declined to pursue charges.
… Federal law does generally prohibit the purchase or possession of a firearm by anyone who has ever been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment. That’s what happened to Houser in 2008 after his family accused him of threatening behavior, warning authorities that he had a history of manic depression or bipolar disorder and was making ominous statements.
It isn’t clear exactly what went wrong, but the simplest explanation is that the Georgia court that entered the confinement order simply failed to report it to the Georgia Crime Information Center. Thus, Houser’s name never was entered into the NICS database.
Of course, we can’t assume that if the system had worked properly, and Houser had been denied the ability to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, the Lafayette murders would not have happened. Houser might well have been able to obtain a gun through other means. Nevertheless, this incident illustrates two points:
1) Liberals are constantly proposing legislation to extend NICS to firearms transactions that don’t involve licensed dealers. As I have written repeatedly, the major problem with NICS is not that it doesn’t cover transactions between relatives, etc., but rather that the database is deficient. All mass shooters (I am not including terrorists here) are more or less crazy, but the vast majority are not in the database. So the exercise becomes futile, as it was here.
2) Whenever something bad happens, liberals demand new laws. A common response, especially in the gun control context, is: How about if we enforce the laws we already have? That makes sense to most people, but somehow liberals are more interested in enacting new laws than in enforcing existing ones. Here, the right law was on the books, but, as so often happens, government failed to execute. But liberals rarely seem to care about improving government’s actual performance. They just want the satisfaction of moral preening.

SESSIONS: WE NEED MORE ASSIMILATION, NOT MORE IMMIGRATION


Senator Jeff Sessions released this statement this morning. It was prompted by the Chattanooga shootings, but goes far beyond that topic. The statement is rather lengthy, but I am going to reproduce it in full because it is so good and so important. The originalincludes many links that substantiate Sessions’s points. Before turning the floor over to Senator Sessions, I will only add that the two most important issues in next year’s presidential campaign are immigration and terrorism, and to a considerable extent, they are the same issue.
Four heroes, who nobly served this country and her people, lost their lives in a terrorist attack. We honor their service, mourn their loss, and pray for their families. They are the very finest Americans this nation has to offer, and the heart of our whole nation grieves for their loss.
There will be much discussion in the coming days about actions which should be taken to better protect the lives of our military personnel, and all Americans, in this age of terrorism. Many different agencies, committees, and experts will be involved. On the Immigration Subcommittee, our mandate is to look at the issues experts have been raising since 9/11 about how our immigration system is vulnerable to terrorism and those seeking to foster radicalization.
More details will need to be collected in coming days, but from what we know so far the terrorist in question appears to be an Islamist radical who immigrated to the United States from Kuwait, and who reportedly later applied for and received U.S. citizenship.
The President of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Council—which represents 12,000 United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Officers—has repeatedly alerted the deaf ears of Congress about this danger. In a recent statement, Palinkas declared:
It is essential to warn the public about the threat that ISIS will exploit our loose and lax visa policies to gain entry to the United States… There is no doubt that there are already many individuals in the United States, on visas—expired or active—who are being targeted for radicalization or who already subscribe to radicalized views… Many millions come legally to the U.S. through our wide open immigration policy every year—whether as temporary visitors, lifetime immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, foreign students, or recipients of our ‘visa waiver program’… Our government cannot effectively track these foreign visitors and immigrants… Applications for entry are rubber-stamped… We’ve become the visa clearinghouse for the world.
A 2005 Center for Immigration Studies highlighted 21 terrorists who immigrated to the United States and later applied for citizenship—20 of those citizenship applications were approved. Since just 2013, news reports have revealed a number of such individuals who were invited into the United States as part of our annual admission of one million new permanent residents, half a million foreign students, 70,000 asylees and refugees, 700,000 foreign workers, and 200,000 relatives of foreign workers. These individuals below did not hop a border fence or a dig a tunnel: they, like the 9/11 hijackers, applied for entry and were approved:
* The Boston Bombers were invited in as refugees. The younger brother applied for citizenship and was naturalized on September 11th, 2012. The older brother had a pending application for citizenship.
* A Moroccan national who came to the U.S. on a student visa was arrested for plotting to blow up a university and a federal court house.
* 7 Somali-Americans in Minnesota have recently been charged with trying to join ISIS. The Washington Times reported that “the effort [to resettle large groups of Somali refugees in Minnesota] is having the unintended consequence of creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s safety net and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.”
* An Uzbek refugee living in Idaho was arrested and charged with providing support to a terrorist organization, in the form of teaching terror recruits how to build bombs.
* An American citizen whose family is from Syria was sentenced for plotting to support ISIS and rob a gun store to kill members of the American military.
* An immigrant from Syria, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was accused by federal prosecutors of planning to “go to a military base in Texas and kill three or four American soldiers execution style.”
* A college student who immigrated from Somalia, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, attempted to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon.
* An immigrant from Afghanistan, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, and a legal permanent resident from the Philippines, were convicted for “join Al Qaeda and the Taliban in order to kill Americans.”
* An Iraqi immigrant, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was arrested for lying to federal agents about pledging allegiance to ISIS and his travels to Syria.
* Two immigrants from Pakistan, who later applied for and received U.S citizenship, were sentenced to decades-long prison sentences for plotting to detonate a bomb in New York City.
* An immigrant from Yemen, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was arrested for trying to join ISIS. He was also charged with attempting to illegally buy firearms to try to shoot American military personnel.
Our first national imperative is to improve USCIS screening of all applications and to redirect agency resources away from political missions and toward national security.
Further, the events described above do not occur in isolation, but are often part of broader networks, groups, and pockets of radicalization made possible by unwise immigration policy. It is time to affirm some fundamental but forgotten principles that will enhance not only our security but also our social and economic well-being:
* We are under no obligation to admit anyone to the United States.
* The selection of new immigrants to the United States should be based on what’s in the best interests of the people already living inside the United States.
* Immigrants selected for admission should be expected to be financially self-sufficient and chosen because they are likely to succeed, thrive, and flourish in the United States.
* Assimilation is the best policy to ensure both the success of our country and the success of those who arrive in our country. We do both the country and those seeking to enter our country a disservice by failing to promote our language, our laws, and our political customs.
* We should not admit people in larger numbers than we can reasonably expect to vet, assimilate, and absorb into our schools, communities, and labor markets. It is not compassionate but uncaring to bring in so many people that there are not enough jobs for them or the people already here. As Coolidge said: “We want to keep wages and living conditions good for everyone who is now here or who may come here.”
Over the last four decades, immigration levels have quadrupled. The Census Bureau projects that we will add another 14 million immigrants over the next decade. It is not mainstream, but extreme, to continue surging immigration beyond all historical precedent. It is time for moderation to prevail, and for us to focus on improving the jobs, wages, and security of the 300 million people already living inside our borders.

Supreme Culture War, Part II

Supreme Culture War, Part II

by Garrett Fahy
In the days leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision on same sex marriage, conservative religious schools across the country warned that they could lose their tax exempt status if the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to same sex marriage. One Texas pastor warned that a ruling in favor of same sex marriage would require Christians to engage in civil disobedience. Another Texas pastor went further, and said he would be willing to be burned to death to oppose gay marriage.
In a more constructive move, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law the Pastor Protection Act, which ensures that no pastor, priest, rabbi or other religious leader in Texas can be forced to perform or recognize a marriage that violates religious beliefs.
The concerns underlying these efforts were legitimized on June 26, 2015 when the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, found that the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment require a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.
With Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion – which assumed the “immutable nature” of homosexuality (p. 4), decided that “sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable” (p. 8) (apparently no one told Bruce/Caitlin Jenner!) and confirmed the Court’s right to invent and force upon the nation “new dimensions of freedom” when they “become apparent to new generations,” (p. 7) — the Supreme Court ensured that the debate over gay marriage will rage for the next generation and provided the gay rights mafia (Bill Maher’s term) with ammo for the next round of lawsuits against those who dissent.
How did this happen? In short, Justice Kennedy decided, on behalf of over 300 million Americans, how the Constitution defines marriage. Seeking to couch his judicial arrogance in the cloak of judicial authorization, he wrote,
“The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations (Justice Kennedy) a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight (to Justice Kennedy) reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty (as understood by Justice Kennedy) must be addressed.” (p. 11) In other words, forget what the Framers, Founders or post-Civil War drafters intended their words to mean, when Justice Kennedy thinks there’s a right, he’s going to invent one.
Justice Kennedy noted that many who oppose same sex marriage do so based on “decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises,” and further noted that, “neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here.” (p. 19) Really? On the very next page, he dismissed those “honorable” premises by writing that, “new insights and societal understandings [to Justice Kennedy] can reveal unjustified inequality within our most fundamental institutions that once passed unnoticed and unchallenged.” (p. 20) In other words, those “decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises” have produced “unjustified inequality,” which he must remedy.
The final insult to the millions of Americans whose faith informs their opposition to same sex marriage came when Justice Kennedy noted that under the First Amendment, “religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” (p. 27) (emphasis added) Translation: you can speak your opposition to same sex marriage, but you cannot live it out.
For those who think the Court’s decision has settled the issue, think again. The majority opinion, so condescending in its moral superiority and bereft of any constitutional support, noted that “the States are now divided on the issue of same-sex marriage.” (p. 10) Justice Kennedy’s opinion has not changed this. A survey conducted after the ruling by the Barna Group found that evangelical Christians – 25% of Americans – opposed the ruling, 94% to 6%, and 66% of Christians overall – 71% of Americans – opposed it.
In the wake of the decision, opponents of judicial tyranny responded. Texas announced its intention to fund the defense of state employees who may be sued if they refuse to perform gay weddings. Kansas’ governor, Sam Brownback, issued an executive order that prohibits the Kansas government from taking any action against members of the clergy or religious organizations that deny services to couples based on religious beliefs. Other southern states have considered similar strategies.
Whether these efforts will prevail is anyone’s guess. Based on Indiana’s recent and failed attempt to protect religious liberty against the gay rights mafia, which ended when corporate agitators threatened to leave the state, the success of these initiatives is unclear.
Regrettably, the Court’s opinion virtually ensures future litigation because individuals, organizations and states must sue under the First Amendment to guarantee their right to live out their religious beliefs in their churches, non-profits and businesses. And who can blame them? Those whose beliefs are informed by thousands of years of history and sacred texts will surely not abandon them because of one man’s “discovery” of a conception of liberty and due process found nowhere in the Constitution.
And we have already seen a preview of coming attractions. In Oregon, a couple was recently ordered to pay a lesbian $135,000 in “emotional distress damages” for refusing to bake her a wedding cake. This execrable decision, handed down by an unelected bureaucrat, will only encourage other enemies of the First Amendment, and will require the Supreme Court to weigh in on these issues.
Finally, and predictably, the call to reduce or eliminate the tax exempt status of churches and other non-profits has begun. But this cruel and shortsighted movement will ultimately fail because of its inability to answer the following questions: after the government revokes the tax exempt status of churches, adoption agencies, and schools run by people of faith, who will replace them and ensure society’s most needy are helped? Who will love their neighbor as themselves? Justice Kennedy and the gay rights mafia? Not likely.
The marriage fight is simply the most visible skirmish in the larger culture war over the role of religion in public life. Given the number of self-identified religious conservatives, of many faiths, and the awareness and hostility the Supreme Court’s ruling has engendered, the Court may have awakened a sleeping bear. If the faithful heed the obvious warnings, and demand their voices not be silenced, then Justice Kennedy will have done the country a great service. For the sake of the First Amendment, let’s pray that’s true.