NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Reportedly Ready to Sign Nuke Bailout Bill

A bill that would force state ratepayers to bailout the nuclear industry in New Jersey and other states to the tune of $300 million per year will be signed today by Gov. Phil Murphy, according to reports. While Murphy has never publicly said if he supports the bill, Bloomberg reports the governor is expected to sign the measure, pushed through the legislature by Senate President Steve Sweeney, at an 11 a.m. event today.

Read more from Bill Maher…

Iowa Dem withdraws from gubernatorial primary over sexual harassment allegations

One person lost a chance at a job today over sexual harassment allegations, and it wasn’t Morgan Freeman. A day after the Des Moines Register reported that three women had accused state senator Nate Boulton of sexual harassment, the Democrat announced he would drop out of his party’s primary for governor:

A popular Democratic candidate dropped out of Iowa’s crowded race for governor on Thursday, one day after an Iowa newspaper reported three women had accused him of sexual misconduct.

Nate Boulton, a Des Moines attorney and state senator, announced his exit from the campaign in an emailed statement that alluded to the accusations reported Wednesday in The Des Moines Register.

“These last 48 hours have been trying. I again offer an apology to those whom I have harmed in any way. It is my hope there is some positive that can come from this moment as we strive to be the better people we can be in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. I know that will be my task moving on from here.”

Boulton may be popular, but he was far off the pace in the Democratic primaries. The Register’s poll earlier this month put him eleven points behind retired businessman Fred Hubbell in second place, 31/20, while a poll from KBUR put Hubbell up 26 points at 46/20. It would have taken a miracle for Boulton to win the June 5th primary at this pace, and Boulton just got the opposite of it.

So what were the allegations? Only one was recent, from an incident in 2015; the other two allegations came from Boulton’s time in law school. They do share a similar modus operandi, though:

One woman told the Des Moines Register that Boulton, now 38, repeatedly grabbed her buttocks at a bar in 2015. Two others told the Register that when Boulton was in law school more than a decade ago, he rubbed his clothed crotch against them, pressing his erect penis into their thighs.

Boulton’s response to the allegations foreshadowed his withdrawal:

“I don’t have the same recollection,” he told the Register. “But I am not going to offer any additional context to this, other than to say if someone’s perspective is that it was inappropriate and I crossed a line and I misread a situation in a social setting, I do apologize.”

He declined to comment on or discuss the specific incidents, saying, “I think if I add context it quickly becomes victim-blaming, and I don’t want to go down that path.”

Er … isn’t that a tacit admission that there are victims? If Boulton didn’t do these things, then the obvious response is … “I didn’t do those things.” If you start off by attempting to “add context,” or even suggest that there is context to add to buttock-grabbing, then you’ve pretty much given up the case. With that statement, and with his distant status in the primary, all that was left was the spending-more-time-with-my-family announcement.

This probably doesn’t change much for the gubernatorial race. Hubbell was set to win the nomination anyway, and the few head-to-head polls against Republican governor Kim Reynolds showed the incumbent with similar and narrow polling leads over both. Reynolds isn’t facing a primary challenge, so she’s conserving her resources for the general election. With this scandal rocking Iowa Democrats — and likely to follow Boulton back to the state senate — Reynolds might get a momentary boost, but it might also burnish Hubbell’s status as an outsider, too. Still, now that sexual harassment has become a specific issue in the race, it will be difficult for Hubbell to argue against having a woman remain in the office … and don’t think Reynolds won’t find ways to remind Iowans of that, too.

The post Iowa Dem withdraws from gubernatorial primary over sexual harassment allegations appeared first on Hot Air.

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Christian Ghost Factories & Zombie Mills

Writing in First Things, Dale Coulter examines The Benedict Option. It’s mostly positive. Excerpts:

Michael Novak argued that mediating structures, the modern analogues to Burke’s “little platoons,” allow for subsidiarity and reinforce Alexis de Tocqueville’s law of association as a principle of self-governance. The four basic forms of mediating structures identified by Neuhaus and Berger are neighborhood, family, church, and voluntary association. These structures reflect the values of individuals and mediate them to the public, allowing individuals to find meaningful places in civil society.

Neuhaus and Berger also claimed that American liberalism had become blind to the important role of mediating structures and, instead, vigorously defended the rights of individuals over against them. Individuals were elevated over family, neighborhood, and the small town, becoming subject to mega-structures that actually alienate most of the middle class. Dreher’s analysis flows along similar lines. Dreher sees the alignment of mega-structures around LGBT, abortion-rights, and other issues as an attack on mediating structures that translate Christian values from the private to the public sphere.

His solution combines a political minimalism with a cultural maximalism. Contrary to some analyses, Dreher does not call for a retreat from political life at the state or federal level. Instead, he proposes narrowing the agenda to focus on preserving the freedoms that will allow Christians to rebuild mediating structures. The building of these structures is at the heart of Dreher’s call for a cultural maximalism. In Dreher’s mind, Christians should renew their commitment to church and family and begin building new forms of voluntary association through professional and social networks. Most of his examples are forms of voluntary association.

Coulter says my call in the book for Christians to build an “ark” is too imprecise.

The “ark” in question is not the church or any single institution; rather, it’s a fleet of life boats, Burke’s “little platoons,” which together make up Christian culture.

Yes, this is true. I thought my book made this explicit, but I guess not. In subsequent talks, I’ve used the Dunkirk metaphor: that we Christians, in this particular time and place, are pinned down on a beach, with nowhere to go. If we attack the enemy head on, we’re going to be wiped out. If we sit tight and try to wait out the crisis, we’re going to be wiped out. The only real chance we have is to get on a flotilla of little arks, and get ourselves to a safer place (safer, not safe; there are no fully safe places), so that we can train ourselves for the long duration … and eventually going on the offensive again, when the time is right.

Understand I’m speaking metaphorically here! Anyway, yes, a Ben Op flotilla. More Coulter:

Given the divisions among Christians, Dreher knows that he cannot simply appeal to the church as such; in fact, his chapters on the personal and the church may be understood as a call to evangelical Protestants to leave behind their free-church ways and recognize tradition and liturgy as weapons against liquid modernity. Dreher implicitly suggests that the variability in free-church Christianity is part of liquid modernity.

Though I cannot explore it in this piece, the connection between Neuhaus’s and Berger’s call for mediating structures and Dreher’s “Benedict” model reveals some of the weaknesses of Dreher’s approach. For example, it’s clear from the analyses of mediating structures that protecting them will require much more political involvement than Dreher admits. The existence of Christian neighborhoods will almost certainly lead to involvement in politics on city boards, which, in turn, will require more involvement at the state and federal levels. Moreover, a question constantly hanging over mediating institutions is whether they should take federal, state, or even local government funding, and what demands such funding might make upon them. Finally, the constant challenge of voluntary associations that embody Christian values is their being subject to erosion of Christian commitments when they themselves become large (think the YMCA).

Still, it strikes me that the connection between mediating structures and the Benedict Option offers a fruitful point of convergence. It brings Dreher into conversation with those who, following Neuhaus and Berger, call for such structures in order to secure subsidiarity and maintain the local associations necessary for self-governance.

Read the whole thing.

I appreciate Coulter’s piece. I would say that the Benedict Option, as a social matter, is heavily about building mediating structures. The politics chapter is entirely about focusing on religious liberty as a primary political concern, precisely so we can protect our freedom to build and to sustain those structures. I’m not quite sure how much more explicit I could have been.

The thing is, mediating structures do us no good if they don’t actually mediate life-changing grace and truth. So many of our churches are meet-up places for Moralistic Therapeutic Deists — and we Christians want them to be. Our Christian schools are about preparing middle-class conformists who go to church on Sunday, but who in most ways that count, live no different from anybody else. Almost all of us Christians — I’m looking in the mirror here — are complicit in this. We have to do better.

Protecting the possibility of creating those mediating structures is very important. But what worries me, as a Christian, more than that is that we Christians have more liberty than we’ll ever have again to create those structures right now, and we’re not doing it. Building something that looks like a car doesn’t mean the thing can be driven, and counted on to get you where you need to go.

A mind and a soul without a body is a ghost. The emerging secular culture would rather us be ghosts: holding certain beliefs, but not incarnating them in any meaningful way, at least not in a meaningful way that contradicts what the overculture desires. Churches and Christians schools that do not transform their people in concrete ways are ghost factories.

But a body without a mind and a soul is a zombie. Churches and Christian schools that do not transform their people spiritually and morally in meaningful ways are zombie mills.

We Christians must be neither ghosts nor zombies.

This is hard. I personally know pastors and Christian educators who are doing their best to lead in this way, but are discouraged. Why? You can’t lead if you don’t have people willing to follow. The truth is, most of us want church, Christian schools, and other mediating institutions, to comfort us, but not to challenge us, much less to convert us.

Again, I’m talking about myself, and to myself, not just to you readers.

Read more from The American Conservative…

The NFL hired a consulting firm to ask fans if Colin Kaepernick should be in the league

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has claimed that NFL owners colluded to keep him out of the league because of his social justice protests during the national anthem.

A new report from Yahoo Sports that the league polled fans about whether they thought he should be on a team could be used to bolster that claim.

What’s the story?

In 2017, several months into Kaepernick’s free agency, the NFL hired The Glover Park Group, a Washington consulting firm, to conduct a poll of fan attitudes about some hot-button issues, including Kaepernick. From Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson:

The data sought by the NFL included fan attitudes about a few high-profile league concerns, including domestic violence, gambling, player protests and player safety. Sources noted that Kaepernick was the only player singled out in the research for specific opinions, which were then compiled and sent to various league officials, including commissioner Roger Goodell and several other high-ranking executives.

The portion of the survey that addressed Kaepernick asked fans whether they believed Kaepernick should be signed, and whether they believed he was unsigned due to his protests, on-field performance, or other reasons.

What did the poll find?

Yahoo Sports’ sources did not divulge the specific data from the poll, but did reveal that there were clear dividing lines separating demographics.

Specifically, divisions in which a majority of white NFL fans supported disciplining players for not standing for the anthem versus a majority of the NFL’s African-American and Latino fans who didn’t. The sources also said a majority of Republican NFL fans supported the disciplining of players versus a majority of Democrats who didn’t, and a majority of Baby Boomer NFL fans significantly supported discipline more than both Generation Xers and Millennials.

Why does this matter?

The NFL is in the midst of dealing with a collusion grievance filed by Kaepernick against the NFL owners. Kaepernick believes owners conspired to keep him out of the league for political reasons.

That grievance has included depositions of owners, forcing them to turn over phone and email records related to Kaepernick.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported earlier this week that documents from the depositions reveal that teams viewed Kaepernick as not just good enough to be on a team, but to be a starting quarterback.

Read more from The Blaze…

Asian stocks decline, with trade, US politics in focus

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets fell Friday as investors remained cautious about U.S. plans to raise tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. Uncertainty over White House politics also cast a shadow. KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell …

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’60 Minutes’ Journalist: Here’s Why Democrats Think the Press is on Their Side

60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl admitted that the press leans liberal and that’s why Democratic politicians believe “reporters are on their side” and thus expect glowing coverage or kid gloves from the mainstream media. During a conversation with PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff at the Deadline Club of New York, Stahl said she was surprised […]

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Democrats Propose Swapping Tax Cut for Teacher Salaries

“Responding to teacher walkouts across the country, congressional Democrats on Tuesday proposed raising teachers’ salaries by canceling the tax cut for the nation’s top 1 percent of earners,” the AP reports.

“The Republican-controlled Congress was unlikely to support the idea of giving states and school districts $50 billion over a decade to fund the teacher raises at the expense of dismantling the hard-won tax bill.”

“But the proposal gives Democrats an issue they can use ahead of the November midterm elections. Teachers have won widespread support, even in conservative areas, as they complain about low pay.”

Read more from Political Wire…