Links for 1-26-2015

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  • Stephen Dinan wrote a good article on Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner’s (R-WI) proposed amendment to the Voting Rights Act. It would subject Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia to preclearance immediately. Dinan quotes Hans von Spakovsky on the amendment: “For the first time, Sensenbrenner’s bill actually says that the protections of this amendment will only apply to racial minority groups, and they defined them in the law, and it specifically excludes white voters…They’re basically giving a ‘get out of jail free’ card to black elected officials in the South, where they can discriminate all they want against white voters.” If you’re read J. Christian Adams’ book Injustice, you know this is a big deal because there have been cases (most notably Ike Brown in Noxubee County, Mississippi) where black elected officials in black majority areas have infringed the voting rights of the white minority. Bryan Preston runs down the list of organizations that announced their support for Sensenbrenner’s bill, including the SEIU, Common Cause, People for the American Way, and Project Vote (which is a descendant of ACORN).

  • National Journal reports that House Republicans are entertaining the possibility of failing to pass a 2015 budget this year so GOP members are not forced to cast “tough” votes in an election year. This way of thinking is one of the reasons why Harry Reid runs the Senate the way he does.

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation scored President Obama’s NSA reforms a 3.5 on a scale of 12. Ben Domenech thinks Obama is offering meaningless changes to domestic surveillance while compromising foreign surveillance. Here is Joel Pollak’s take: “The president’s speech contained little news. It was a classic Obama set-piece, designed to demonstrate that he understands both sides of a complex argument, while delegating responsibility to third parties and taking steps that reinforce the interests and goals of the hard left. In this instance, Obama left final decisions about where to store NSA data to Congress, while making sure that [John] Podesta is in charge of the consultative process as a whole.”

  • A Catholic Navy chaplain named Ray Leonard sued the Department of Defense after he was threatened with arrest if he celebrated mass at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia during the government shutdown. Father Leonard recently amended the lawsuit to claim he’s suffering retaliation by the federal government – the Navy canceled his contract and stopped paying him.

  • Tom Coburn is leaving the Senate in January 2015. Coburn had previously announced that he wouldn’t run for another term when his current term expires in 2016. He’s currently fighting a recurrence of prostate cancer.

  • President Obama’s failure to attribute the Benghazi attack to al Qaeda-affiliated groups prevents the military from targeting the perpetrators under the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

  • The Mercatus Center at George Mason University issued a report ranking New Jersey the least economically solvent state in the country.

  • Ken Klukowski wrote an interesting account of the oral argument before the Supreme Court in the McCullen v. Coakley case, which challenges a Massachusetts law forbidding people from speaking about abortion within 35 feet of an abortion clinic’s door – it’s designed to prevent abortion counselors from talking women out of an abortion.

  • ABC News published an article listing 50 ways you can honor Michelle Obama on her fiftieth birthday.

  • The executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, says China’s communist government is better prepared to fight global warming than a democracy like the U.S. She said this on a day when air pollution levels reached a record in Beijing. John Hayward writes: “That’s what matters to the Church of Global Warming: raw power. The hard Left is dizzy in love with authoritarianism, which they of course plan to implement with benevolent wisdom and scientific precision. Global warming theology is the perfect excuse for seizing power. It can’t be disproved, it’s considered morally wrong to resist its demands, and it has a delightful aura of intellectual snobbery about it.”

  • Argentina’s government plans to levy large fines against companies that fish in the waters around the Falkland Islands in an effort to “strangle” the islands’ economy. If there’s anything Argentina knows about, it’s strangling businesses.