Secesh. The White House’s “We the People” webpage has a way to petition the president with ideas or grievances. It’s kind of a 21st century, high-tech way of allowing citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The website says President Obama, or one of his senior staff, would formally respond to any petition that gets at least 25,000 signatures. That staffer may be busy soon. All 50 states now have petitions to secede from the Union, and six states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas—have reached the threshold. Some signers say the petitions are an expression of frustration over the election, since the first secession petition went up on Nov. 7. Others say they are a way of showing President Obama that he may have won, but he doesn’t have a “blank check” from the American people. Still others say the petitions are misguided. Several governors have issued statements emphasizing they are not promoting secession, including Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. “It’s silly,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “We are proud to be part of the greatest country in the history of the world. Whatever our political differences, we are American first.”
Jockeying for 2016. Speaking of Republican governors, Bobby Jindal in particular, the jockeying for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination has already begun. The Republican Governors Association met this week in Las Vegas, and many names—including Jindal’s—have surfaced as possible GOP candidates. Jindal, for his part, came armed with sound bites. He said the Republican Party should “rethink” its pitch to voters. Virginia’s Bob McDonnell said Republicans should help fix partisan gridlock. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker has become a Tea Party favorite for standing up to unions. The list goes on. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is on a highly publicized trip to Iowa. He says the trip has nothing to do with the fact that Iowa is where the presidential selection process begins, but almost no one believes him.
Obamacare layoff. Stryker Corporation is one of those high-tech manufacturers President Obama says his policies support. The company makes medical devices and has more than 20,000 employees worldwide. One of the company’s owners, the grandson of the founder, gave $2 million to a group committed to reelecting the president. Now, though, Stryker says it will lay off more than 1,000 employees. The government watchdog group Freedom Works says the layoff is the result of Obamacare and other policies that hurt business. Obamacare requires businesses to provide government-defined healthcare plans to employees who work 30 hours or more each week—or face a $3,000 fine for non-compliance. According to The Heritage Foundation, Obamacare includes 18 new taxes and penalties that are estimated to bring $836 billion to the federal government over the next 10 years. Of course, no one knows how much tax revenue will be lost because of layoffs such as the one at Stryker. Every employee laid off is an employee who—at least for a time—will not pay income taxes and will qualify for government benefits. Alyene Senger, a research assistant at The Heritage Foundation, predicts, “As businesses are affected by these taxes they are going to either—like you see with Stryker—lay people off, or they are going to turn full-time workers into part-time workers so that they don’t have to pay the employer mandate.”
Hamas’s human shields. I’m in Washington, D.C., for a few days, and I couldn’t help but notice the front page of Thursday’s Washington Post: “Israeli aircraft pound Gaza.” Prominent on the front page was a photo of a weeping father holding his 11-month-old son, killed in one of the Israeli airstrikes. What the article failed to prominently mention are several key facts. First, Israel has endured rocket attacks from Gaza that have randomly killed men, women, and children. Some reports say more than 750 rockets from Gaza have hit Israel in the past year alone. Second, Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. Third, Hamas deliberately plants its military operations in the midst of civilian areas, making civilian casualties almost unavoidable. This current escalation of violence is tragic. Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, said as much yesterday. Still, Israel has a right to defend itself, and the world has a right to know the whole story.