I have developed a habit of noting things that annoy me, a not infrequent task for a Republican these days. When the grievance list gets long enough, I turn it into a Sunday column.
Herein my latest list:
1. Eric Holder: In no particular order, suing states over photo identification laws and school choice statutes, advising states on the merits of selective law enforcement, a "Contempt of Congress" citation over the IRS' targeting of conservative groups, foregoing the prosecution of Black Panthers engaged in voter intimidation, and the "Fast and Furious" gun running program are but a sampling of the reasons to be upset by the performance of this hard left attorney general.
2. "Peace" bumper stickers: My travels to and from Washington, D.C. bring plenty of "Give Peace a Chance" and "Coexist" bumper sticker sightings. Instantly, my thoughts spring back to the 3,000 innocents sitting in their World Trade Center offices on 9/11. They were giving peace a chance — just going about their jobs when radical Islam executed them. Indeed history teaches that pure evil triumphs when well-meaning people (and nations) retreat from world events. For context, recall the innocents murdered in the Gulag Archipelago, the Holocaust, the Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Bashar Assad's Syria, New York City in the fall of 2001, and so many other places where despots and madmen were allowed to commit their heinous crimes. Americans love peace and abhor territorial ambitions, but we must never get so complacent that our preference for peace is interpreted as weakness by those who would do us harm.
3. Pro-government shut-down Republicans: Yes, the man-made disaster that is Obamacare is proving to be as bad as advertised, but the bellyaching from hard line GOPers over House leadership's failure to defund Obamacare or decrease the federal debt limit is misplaced. Successful leaders fight when they can win, i.e., when they have enough troops to carry the day. Congressional Republicans had no chance to starve Obamacare of funds or win concessions over the debt limit. A Republican Senate will supply those reinforcements. Until then, acting out and primary-ing established GOP incumbents is counter-productive and just plain dumb politics.
4. "N-word" rationalizations: It's a malicious racial epithet forbidden in civilized discourse; so vile that this (and every reputable newspaper) does not spell out the entire word. Yet some continue to defend its use by African Americans since not all African Americans are offended when the word is used by other African Americans. All of which I'm supposed to explain to my kids, who have been taught from the earliest that such a term is never to cross their brain, let alone their lips. We gotta do better than this…
5. Devaluing work: The Democratic Party used to own "work." It was the blue collar party of organized labor, of "Joe Lunch Pail" and an honest day's toil. But things have changed. No issue generated more Democratic taunts than work for benefits requirements built into the 1996 federal welfare reform. The accompanying rhetoric ("mean-spirited," "cold hearted," "soulless") reflected the views of the party's liberal base. Similar rhetoric was again on display when the GOP attempted to re-establish work thresholds in the federal food stamp program last summer. And just two weeks ago, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's celebration of leisure over work was the proffered response when the Congressional Budget Office announced that Obamacare would eliminate 2.5 million full-time equivalent jobs by 2025.
But the demeaning of work has cultural implications. The Obama era's 68 percent increase in food stamp participation, quadrupling of Social Security disability benefits and relentless campaign to extend federal unemployment benefits beyond two years speaks to this changed culture. A recent Cato report provides insight: Welfare now pays more than a minimum wage job in 33 states and more than $15 per hour in 13 states. Here's hoping the next national administration will choose to renew this previously prized American value and restore pride in working for a living.
6. The NFL: Fans hear much about the league's concern for player safety and performance excellence. Yet we constantly hear rumors about plans for an 18 game schedule and additional playoff games. The plain truth is that extra games mean additional injuries while extra play-off games mean additional revenue for the $10 billion behemoth. The salary cap and draft already ensure enough mediocrity in a sport we love. Do we really need another two weeks of injuries and more 8-8 (7-9?) teams creating additional wild card "fun"?
Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s column appears Sundays. The former Maryland governor and member of Congress is a partner at the law firm King & Spalding and the author of "Turn this Car Around" and "America: Hope for Change" — books about national politics. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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