Monday, March 5, 2012

Gooses and Ganders

There's an interesting development in the contretemps over Rush Limbaugh's recent intemperate and inexcusable name-calling. Recall that Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a "slut" after her testimony before Congress in which she bemoaned the fact that it's really hard for students to afford birth control while meeting all their other financial obligations and calling for insurance companies to essentially subsidize their social lives.

Limbaugh subsequently apologized to Fluke but now DNC Chair congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is criticizing Mitt Romney for not rebuking Rush Limbaugh. On Meet the Press Sunday morning Wasserman-Schultz said:
The bottom line is, the leading candidate on the Republican side for president couldn’t even bring himself to call Rush Limbaugh’s comments outrageous and call him out and ask him to apologize.
The irony - maybe irony isn't a strong enough word to describe this - is this: Last spring left-wing talk show host Ed Schultz (no relation to the congresswoman as far as I know), a big supporter of President Obama, twice gratuitously called another talk show host, Laura Ingraham, a slut.

Has Debbie Wasserman Schultz demanded that President Obama condemn Ed Schultz? Why, no, of course not. Why should he be expected to do that? Repudiating their supporters is only something Republicans should be required to do. Here's Mr. Schultz:
Ms Wasserman-Schultz would have a lot more credibility if she demanded of Mr. Obama what she's demanding of Mr. Romney. Don't hold your breath, though.

Mauling on Meet the Press

There seems to be a conscious effort in the media to portray the brouhaha over contraception as an attempt by Republicans to make birth control illegal. No one in the GOP is talking about banning contraception or preventing women from paying for it. The President injected it into the discussion by mandating that Catholic institutions would be required to violate their consciences and principles to see to it that it's covered in the health care plans they provide their employees.

Ever since then, the media has taken every opportunity to mislead their listeners by asking Republicans why they're opposed to women having birth control. The clear implication is that the GOP wants to take birth control away from women when in fact all they want is for the state to stay out of the church.

The media and the Democrats see their tactic as a double winner. Not only can they discredit Republicans in the eyes of women voters but they can also distract the nation from the very serious problems we're facing during the Obama presidency.

David Gregory sought to run the same play against Newt Gingrich during Sunday morning's Meet the Press show. Unfortunately for the hapless Mr. Gregory Newt Gingrich is not Mitt Romney. Here's a transcript of the resulting wreckage courtesy of Newsmax:
Gregory: I have to ask you about access to contraception. I realize it’s not at the core of your stump speech, but it is a debate that is certainly highly charged here in Washington and in Congress and on the airwaves. How much damage has this done?

Gingrich: I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the president’s apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion-dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression, and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of the week.

There’s no debate about access to contraception. There is a debate, which Cardinal George of Chicago has pointed out is a war against the Catholic Church. You do have this weird situation where President Obama apologizes to Islamic extremists while waging war against the Catholic Church. That’s the language, by the way, of the Catholic bishops. You have an issue here of whether the government can coerce the Catholic Church not just into contraception but into sterilization and abortion, something I don’t find any reporter wants to talk about.

You have a president who voted for infanticide as a state senator, who represents the most extreme, pro-abortion position in America, so if you want to have a dialogue about this, David, let’s set the record straight. Barack Obama as a state senator voted to allow doctors to kill babies if they survived the abortion. Barack Obama, as president, in the most radical, anti-religious move made by any president, is trying to coerce the Catholic Church at a time when he’s been told by the bishops . . . they would have to give up every single hospital, they would have to give up every single university and college associated with the church because he is asking them to violate their religious beliefs.

If you want a debate over whether or not the president of the United States should be able to impose his views on a religious institution, and whether America’s now a secular country, let’s have that debate.

Gregory: Can I just get to my question? Do you think it was harmful that Limbaugh, certainly an influential voice in the conservative grassroots, and you well know that, was it appropriate for him to apologize? Do you think he’s done damage to the debate that you’re now getting into?

Gingrich: I think it was appropriate for Rush to apologize. I am glad he apologized. Do you think the president owes an apology to all the men and women in uniform who he frankly abandoned when he apologized to religious fanatics in Afghanistan? What’s your opinion, David? Should the president have apologized to the men and women in uniform that he abandoned?

Gregory: Well, I’m going to continue with my questions, so . . .

Gingrich: Because if you want to get into a discussion about apologies, I’m happy to discuss it.

Gregory: So my question, though, is you want the other side to appreciate your view, which is that this is a religious liberty question at the heart of this access to contraception. Can you appreciate the view of those who disagree with you? That this is an attack on women’s rights? That’s their view. Reproductive rights? Access to contraception? And in the extreme, that it’s some sort of war on women? Do you appreciate that view at all?

Gingrich: Nobody’s blocking anyone from having access to contraception. No one. The young lady who testified can get access to contraception. Nobody said she couldn’t. The question is should a Catholic institution, or for that matter, the Ohio Christian University, which is a Protestant institution, which is a very pro-life institution, which is now being told it will have to pay for abortion pills.

Now, should a Protestant fundamentalist institution be dictated to by Washington politicians over whether or not it can have its own religious beliefs, or have we become a country where it’s okay to go to church on Sunday morning for one hour, but let’s not actually express those beliefs the rest of the week.

This is the most fundamental assault on religious liberty in American history despite every effort by the elite media to distort what it’s not. It’s not about access to contraception. People who want to can get access to contraception every day. That young lady can get access to contraception. It is a question about whether or not a religiously affiliated institution should be coerced by the federal government.

Gregory: So it seems to me this — in your view — this is actually a pretty fundamental issue. You just don’t like the framing of it, but the fact that it gets raised is something that you think will certainly get you animated. You think it’s certainly going to energize a lot of voters on both sides of the aisle.

Gingrich: I don’t like the framing because I think the framing was false. That young lady has access to contraception every day. There’s no place in America where it’s illegal to go get contraception. What the question is, is should a religiously affiliated institution be required to provide abortion pills? Should they be required to provide sterilization?

Remember, the Obama rule was a lot more than just contraception, and by the way, Mitt Romney was on the wrong side of this issue in Massachusetts, where he instructed that Catholic hospitals would be required to issue abortion pills against their religious beliefs. This is a very serious fundamental fight about religious liberty.
The exchange between Gregory and Gingrich reminded me of a story last December about a street hoodlum who thought he'd mug a guy who turned out to be a mixed martial arts fighter. The thug wound up getting mauled. Gregory probably knows what the guy felt like.

Young, Jobless, and Deep in Debt

Patrice Hill at The Washington Times has an article to which many readers of Viewpoint will relate:
Nicholas Rastenis has been through the wringer. After getting a master’s degree in fine arts from Yale University in 2008, he expected to land a job at a top design firm. But nearly four years later, after many months of joblessness, austerity and anxiety, his ambitions in life have come down quite a bit.

Today, the Chicago resident toils at a photo lab at a major drugstore chain for $9 an hour and no benefits, using few of his creative design skills and earning only a fraction of what he once thought he could command. Still, he has had some designing gigs on the side, and he is glad to at least have a full-time job — any job — after years of doing without.

Mr. Rastenis, like many others of his generation, is a prime victim of the Great Recession. By most measures, he and his compatriots in their teens, 20s and early 30s bore the brunt of the worst job market in modern times. Even with slow economic improvement in the past two years, these so-called “Millennials” remain unemployed and underemployed at the highest rates of any group.

“It’s been a very hard road,” said Mr. Rastenis, who has taken jobs such as bike-cabbing and waiting tables to make ends meet while trying to land a full-time position in his profession.

“I’m doing things I never thought I’d be doing. I’m starting to question why I went to college. I could have done these jobs out of high school,” he said. “And not having an apartment or anything else … I’m miserable.”

Mr. Rastenis knows he’s not alone. It seems nearly everyone he knows in his age group is facing similar problems. “Nobody in the age range 20 to 35 are where they want to be right now,” he said.

Federal statistics as well as various opinion polls and studies bear him out. Joblessness among Americans ages 18 to 29, the Millennials, is at the highest levels since the U.S. Labor Department started keeping records.

The 15.8 percent unemployment rate for this group is nearly twice the national average. For those ages 16 to 19, the jobless rate is closer to 25 percent, and even for people 29 to 34, it’s closer to 10 percent — well above the 8.3 percent national unemployment rate.

The unemployment statistics represents only the tip of the iceberg. Millions of young people have delayed entering the workforce by staying in school, or they stopped looking for work so they aren’t included in the unemployment statistics. Millions of others have accepted short-term or seasonal work without benefits, and some are working without pay in hopes that it will land them a job.

The woes in the job market have fed an ocean of other heartaches and difficulties, including postponed marriages and childbearing, homelessness and having to live for years with parents who expected to be moving toward empty nests and retirement. A poll last year by Generation Opportunity, a Millennial group, found that 77 percent of Millennials are postponing major life changes, such as buying a home, getting married, starting a family and paying off student loans, because they can’t find good jobs.
There's much more on this at the link. The article doesn't mention it, but there seem to be two diametrically opposed sets of needs in play. In order to solve the social security problem we'll almost certainly have to raise the age of full retirement which means that older Americans will be holding onto their jobs longer at the very time when younger Americans need those jobs to open up so that they have a chance at them.

Also, in the past many employment opportunities were available in the public sector, but with state, local, and federal governments all cinching their belts, a lot of those have dried up and those there are are filled by people who aren't going to be willing to leave them in the current climate.

Our local school district, for example, is hiring only one new teacher for every two, or even three, retirees. The president, meanwhile, has proposed that the military cut troop levels by tens of thousands, which will make it tough for the young unemployed to use the service as a fallback as they often did in the past.

Add to these woes climbing gas prices and the prospect of much higher taxes when Obamacare kicks in, both of which dampen any enthusiasm businesses might have to expand their workforces, and, all in all, it's a tough time to be a young person.