Tuesday, July 26, 2016

From the Archives: Index of Economic Freedom shows global progress for 2015, while USA loses ground

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on February 2, 2015. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Index of Economic Freedom shows global progress for 2015, while USA loses ground

For 21 years, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have collaborated to publish the annual Index of Economic Freedom, a list ranking nearly every country in the world on the basis of various criteria like rule of law, regulations, corruption, and openness to investment.

The 2015 Index was released on January 27, and two days later, the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner spoke by telephone to one of its compilers, Charlotte Florance, who is research associate for economic freedom in Africa and the Middle East at the Heritage Foundation.

In the interview, Florance explained that the Index “scores the metrics in four broad categories for every country in the world,” drawing on statistics gathered by the World Bank and other organizations.

Analytical categories
The four broad categories that the Index uses are, she said, “rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency, and open markets.”

Those four categories are broken down further into sub-categories.

For instance, Florance explained, rule of law includes “property rights and freedom from corruption. Government size includes fiscal freedom and government spending. Regulatory efficiency includes business freedom, labor freedom, and monetary freedom. And then open markets include trade freedom, investment freedom, and financial freedom.”

This methodology, she continued, “covers a broad spectrum of the economies of countries around the world. Scores in each category are aggregated to create an overall score and then countries are ranked on that score.”

The rankings are then divided up among five additional categories: “free, mostly free, moderately free, mostly unfree, and repressed.”

The “repressed” category, she noted, refers to countries like Venezuela, Cuba, and Zimbabwe, “some of the most closed off economies in the world, with North Korea being the bottom of countries ranked.”

United States is 12
Florance noted that people are surprised to find out that the United States is not in the “free” category, and does not even have one of the ten most free economies in the world.

“The United States is actually twelfth,” she said, “in the mostly free category and it falls behind countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Canada, and even a very small African country, Mauritius.”

That last country, she explained, is “an island but still part of sub-Saharan Africa and it is actually ranked tenth – so a very tiny economy is actually ranked more free than the United States.”

In the past two decades, according to the annual Index of Economic Freedom, the world as a whole has become increasingly free. The United States is something of an exception in that it has become less free.

This year was the first year in seven years, Florance said, in which the United States “was bumped up slightly in its score.” While economic freedom has been declining here in the United States, she said, global economic freedom has been improving.

She cautioned, however, that “there are certain cases around the world where certain authoritarian regimes do certain things that hinder economic freedom.”

Florance noted how it is “a good message that in 21 years of measuring economic freedom, globally it's getting a lot better.”

She pointed to sub-Saharan Africa as “a region where, although you do have the most repressed economies in the world, there has been significant improvement over the past 21 years.”

Africa south of the Sahara, she said, “remains one of the leading regions in overall improvement year after year,” even though, she added, there is “still a lot to be done.”

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Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/index-of-economic-freedom-shows-global-progress-for-2015-while-usa-loses-ground


Saturday, July 23, 2016

From the Archives: Conservative icon Stan Evans dies at 80; remembered as 'present at the creation'

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on March 3, 2015. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Conservative icon Stan Evans dies at 80; remembered as 'present at the creation'

One of the founders of the modern conservative movement, M. Stanton Evans, died on March 3, 2015, at the age of 80.

Evans, who lived in Leesburg, Virginia, modestly described himself as a “former newspaper man,” as he had been an editorial writer and editor for the Indianapolis News and other publications starting in the 1950s, shortly after he graduated from college.

He also ran the National Journalism Center, which has trained several generations of young conservative reporters and editors. In college, he was one of the founders of what became the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), which continues to promote conservative ideas on university campuses throughout the United States.

Evans is credited with the formulation: “When our friends get elected, they cease to be our friends” – known as “Evans' Law.”

The Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner interviewed Stan Evans – “I go by Stan,” he said – at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in March 2013. That interview has not been published until today.

Worse times
Noting that Evans had been “present at the creation” of the conservative movement, he replied to a question about whether the movement today is more disputatious than in the past, or if it is in an unprecedented crisis.

“Other times were infinitely worse,” he said, “because we didn't have the resources or the positions of strength we have now,” noting the low point of the movement may have been the 1964 presidential and congressional elections, when Barry Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide and the Democrats won their largest majority in Congress since the 1930s.

In contrast to those years in the wilderness, Evans explained, 50 year later “we have a Speaker of the House, a Republican majority in the House. There are 30 Republican governors. We have 24 states that have one-party rule, governor and the legislature of the same party, all Republican,” compared to just 12 states controlled by Democrats.

“The list goes on,” he continued, but cautioned that “we're not using the position of strength we have. We're not fighting hard enough.”

Related to that, in comments as part of a CPAC panel the same day as this interview, Evans said that “the Republicans in Congress should be strongly pro-life, because they are usually in the fetal position.”

'It didn't just happen'
There too much confusion within the conservative movement, he said, which has the appearance of infighting.

“Part of the problem is that we've got people who don't remember what it was like to be really down. I compare it to people who earn money and people who inherit money. People who earn it know what it takes to get there. People who inherit it don't; it's just there.”

This is like “the conservative ascendancy of Reagan,” Evans said. “To some people, that just happened. It didn't just happen. It had to be fought for every inch of the way.”

Asked about how journalism has changed since he started in the profession in the mid-1950s, Evans replied: “A lot, a lot, a lot -- in every which way.”

Still, he added, “it's hard to generalize.”

He said there are “many more alternative media now than back in the day. On the other hand, you've still got an overpowering dominance of liberalism in the mainstream media. That's always been there but now we have a way of responding to it that we didn't have back in '64, for example.”

At the same time, he explained, “we also have problems with this because it's unfiltered. Anyone can put anything up there [on the Web] and it's too much hit or miss and rumor and too much focus on 'what did Obama do yesterday morning' and not the substance of the issue that needs to be addressed.”

Communist infiltrators
On the day of this interview, Evans was autographing copies of his 2012 book, Stalin's Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt's Government, which he co-wrote with Herbert Romerstein.

The book, he said, was about “Communist infiltration of our government and other governments during World War II and the immediate aftermath and their influence on policy at the Yalta Conference” and other high-level meetings in Tehran, Quebec, and elsewhere.

“I try to show in the book how [the Communist agents] warped American policy in favor of the Soviet Union.”

The final question posed to Evans was whether, when Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, he could have predicted the end of the Cold War would come ten years later.

“No,” he said. “No, I never thought we would win it in my lifetime. But Reagan knew what he was doing and that was the greatest accomplishment of his life. I was proud to have been a little bit a part of that.”

A video of M. Stanton Evans' remarks about “First Principles” at CPAC 2013 can be viewed on YouTube.

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CPAC bars GOProud; presidential candidate Gary Johnson presciently weighs in

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/conservative-icon-stan-evans-dies-at-80-remembered-as-present-at-the-creation

From the Archives: Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine ponders appeal to third-party voters

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on September 4, 2012. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  With the impending nomination of Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) as the vice presidential running mate of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine ponders appeal to third-party voters

Although former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine was scheduled to address the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on Tuesday, where he pointed out that “a few years ago, few imagined that Virginia would be a battleground state,” on Monday he was at Buena Vista's Labor Day celebration, campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by fellow Democrat Jim Webb.

Because Virginia has gone “from red to purple,” as Kaine put it in his convention speech, polls show the state’s presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is neck-and-neck, and the Senate contest between Kaine and former Senator George Allen is tracking very close to that, a dead heat.

On September 4, the State Board of Elections confirmed that there will be three third-party presidential candidates on the ballot in Virginia, in addition to Obama and Romney: Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

‘Same questions’

Given that some voters will cast their ballots for neither Obama nor Romney on November 6 but rather for one of those three independent candidates, the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner asked Governor Kaine in Buena Vista how he would appeal to those third-party voters to garner their support for his Senate bid.

Tim Kaine
“I bet they have the same questions that other Virginians do,” Kaine replied. Those voters want to know “how to fix the economy, how to balance the budget, how to find common ground.”

Kaine said that he has “a better plan than my opponent in all three of those areas, so I’m making my case to them based on the record but also based on what we need to do on the national level.”

A lot of third party voters, he added, “are interested in the spending issues. I’m the only governor of Virginia who left office with a smaller general fund budget than when I started.”

Kaine explained that that situation may have been due to the fact that he was governor during the onset of a severe recession, but even so, he added, “I had to make a lot of painful cuts.”

Making those kinds of cuts, he pointed out, is something that “very few people in the Senate have had to do.”

George Allen, he said, “didn’t have to do it when he was in the Senate -- but I know how to do it.”

Suggested Links

Tim Kaine argues for balancing individual liberties, communal responsibilities
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Constitution Party presidential nominee Virgil Goode talks politics on Labor Day
Presidential hopeful Gary Johnson on health care, marriage, and Colbert

Because of the demise of the Examiner.com publishing platform, the original URL for this article is no longer available.




From the Archives: Tim Kaine argues for balancing individual liberties, communal responsibilities

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on July 3, 2011. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  With the impending nomination of Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) as the vice presidential running mate of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Tim Kaine argues for balancing individual liberties, communal responsibilities

Former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who is also the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is currently a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jim Webb.

On July 2, Kaine came to Crozet, in western Albemarle County, to celebrate Independence Day two days early: marching in a parade and speaking at a festival at Claudius Crozet Park sponsored by the local volunteer fire department. Kaine’s likely Republican opponent in the 2012 election, former Governor and Senator George Allen, was also present, and the two men described each other as “competitors and friends.”

Just before the formal program began, Kaine spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about current issues, including the impending congressional vote on raising the national debt ceiling, and what he hopes to bring from Virginia to the national stage.

Debt ceiling limit

“My assessment of the situation” with regard to the debt ceiling vote, Kaine said, “is I can’t believe they let it get as close as they have. You shouldn’t be playing brinksmanship with things like threatened government shutdowns or threatened default on debt payments.”

Even so, he added, “we’ve got to find a resolution. I think the resolution is one where we increase the debt ceiling limitation but in exchange we have to do a combination of significant cuts [and] finding more revenues.”

To get more revenues, he explained, will require “closing loopholes on certain businesses and individuals that don’t need them.”

That should be followed by making “more investments in transportation and education to grow the economy. That’s the best anti-deficit strategy of all.”

Getting libertarian votes

Asked how he would appeal to libertarian-minded voters in the coming election campaign, Kaine said that he would talk about his record.

“I am very much a supporter of individual liberties,” he explained, adding that “yet we’re in this mixture, where we have individual liberties -- and that’s the great thing about our country -- but we also have communal responsibilities. Just trying to find that right balance is important.”

Kaine noted that “we do pretty well on that in Virginia. My basic campaign message is, ‘America has challenges, Virginia has answers,’ so I’ll be talking about the way we do it here in Virginia.”

From Virginia to D.C.

The former governor gave three specific ways that he plans to take lessons learned in Virginia to the national level.

George Allen and Tim Kaine, July 2, 2011
First, with regard to the “challenged economy,” he said, the way Virginia “went from low income to high income [was] by going from low education to high education. Education innovation is the best economic development and jobs strategy.”

The second lesson is “fiscal responsibility,” he said, explaining that “I had to make more cuts than anybody who’s ever been governor -- but there’s a right way and wrong way to do it. No across-the-boards, don’t shred the safety net, and don’t do the kind of gimmicks like default on the debt payment stuff. Just make hard decisions.”

The third thing he offered is that, in Virginia, “we have some balance and civility. We still listen to each other instead of just trying to out talk each other, and that’s what I want to take” to Washington.

Kaine may still face a primary challenge for the Democratic Senate nomination from Third District Representative Bobby Scott, who announced on July 1 that he is delaying his decision on whether to get into the race. Former Governor Allen also has several challengers for the GOP nomination, including Tim Donner, David McCormick, and Jamie Radtke.

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Senator Jim Webb talks about U.S.-Korea free trade and stability in Asia

With the demise of the Examiner.com publishing platform, the original URL for this article is no longer available.



Friday, July 22, 2016

From the Archives: Lamar Alexander honored for his work promoting civics, history education

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on March 5, 2015. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Lamar Alexander honored for his work promoting civics, history education

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander (R) accepted the 2015 John M. Ashbrook Award bestowed by the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in a brief ceremony at the Library of Congress on March 4.

The Ohio-based Ashbrook Center has presented the annual award since 1983, when the first recipient was President Ronald Reagan. Other recipients have included Speaker of the House John Boehner, former Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, and former Vice President Dan Quayle, as well as journalist M. Stanton Evans, who died on March 3.

In presenting the award, Ashbrook Center executive director Roger L. Beckett explained that, about ten years ago, as a result of legislation sponsored by Senator Alexander, the center competed for and received the first federal grant to administer congressional and presidential academies for teachers of American history and civics. From that first grant, which allowed 50 teachers (one from each state) to further their own educations, the Ashbrook Center's programs now include 4,000 middle- and high school teachers annually.

Beckett said Alexander was chosen to receive the 2015 award “for his integrity of thought and action, for his devotion to principle, and for his dedication to teaching the next generation about what it means to be an American.”

'What it means to be an American'
Alexander recalled that the subject of his maiden speech on the floor of the United States Senate “was the importance of teaching U.S. history in our schools so our children could grow up knowing what it means to be an American.” He noted that the lowest test scores for high school seniors “are not in math or science. They're in United States history.”

He conceded that “there's not much the federal government ought to try to do about that in local schools” because that kind of involvement at the local level is “not a very good Republican, federalist idea.”

He explained that he was inspired to sponsor congressional and presidential academies for school teachers, one from each state, to learn more about American history and how to teach it better.

Sense of history
He found an ally in the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who, he said, “had a great sense of American history” and worked to find 21 Democratic cosponsors for Alexander's bill and helped to get it passed – ultimately resulting in the Ashbrook Center's first grant to administer the teacher education program.

Senator Alexander – who was Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush and is now chairman of the Senate Education Committee – also recalled being at a conference in 1988 when someone asked, “What is the rationale for the public school?”

There was “stunned silence around the room,” he remembered, until Albert Shanker, then the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “A public school is for the purpose of teaching immigrant children reading, writing, and arithmetic, and what it means to be an American, with the hope that they'll go home and teach their parents.”

That, Alexander said, is “such a great definition of what we should be doing in our public schools.”

In addition to Lamar Alexander, three previous recipients of the John M. Ashbrook Award were present at the Capitol Hill reception: Lee Edwards, David Keene, and John Von Cannon.

SUGGESTED LINKS

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Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/lamar-alexander-honored-for-his-work-promoting-civics-history-education




Thursday, July 21, 2016

From the Archives: Former Senator Rick Santorum says homosexuals deserve protection

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on March 8, 2015. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Former Senator Rick Santorum says homosexuals deserve protection

Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), who was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and a likely candidate for the same job in 2016, placed sixth in the annual CPAC straw poll last month, behind Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Santorum also garnered sixth place in the 2014 CPAC straw poll.

Despite his poor poll showing, Santorum's still-unofficial presidential campaign had a visible presence at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference), which took place in suburban Washington, D.C., and attracted more than 11,000 participants.

On February 27, after hosting a townhall-style meeting for about 250 supporters and potential supporters, Santorum spoke briefly with members of the news media. During the press gaggle, the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner posed two questions to the former senator, both on foreign policy issues.

'Obligation to protect all people'

First, Santorum, who is well known for his socially conservative positions with regard to gay rights, was asked whether it is appropriate for the U.S. Department of State to defend the rights of homosexuals in foreign countries where their lives might be threatened by anti-gay governments.

“We have to defend human rights everywhere,” Santorum replied. “If someone's life is threatened because of race, sexual orientation, or other [reasons], I think we have an obligation to stand up and defend that human right. I don't have a problem at all, if people's lives are in jeopardy, then we have an obligation to protect all people and their freedoms.”

'A different threat'
Second, the former Pennsylvania senator was asked whether Middle Eastern or Islamic terrorism poses a greater threat to the United States today than the Soviet Union did during the Cold War.

“I think it's a different threat,” Santorum said.

Islamic terrorism, he explained, is “a threat that is in some respects is more difficult to understand and to respond to.”

Rick Santorum at CPAC 2015
In contrast, “the Soviet Union was in many respects a predictable animal. Remember, we had policies like Mutual Assured Destruction, and we did it because we knew how they would behave, how they would act.”

“In fact,” he added, the Soviets “were very predictable. That doesn't mean they weren't evil, that doesn't mean they weren't oppressive, that doesn't mean they weren't everything that Reagan and others said about them.”

Today, he explained, “the complexity of dealing with radical Islam – and the fact that there are 1.5 billion Muslims around the world – makes this a much more difficult issue and one that, if you look historically, [is] a more intransigent problem for the West than the 50 years of the Cold War.”

The “other war” against Islamic terrorism, he concluded, almost as an afterthought, has lasted “a thousand years.”

Video of this press gaggle with likely GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum is available on YouTube.

SUGGESTED LINKS

Lamar Alexander honored for his work promoting civics, history education
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Gary Johnson wins RLC straw poll, places third in CPAC poll

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/former-senator-rick-santorum-says-homosexuals-deserve-protection



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

From the Archives: Think-tank head Jason Grumet reacts to Obama's mandatory voting idea

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on March 19, 2015. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Think-tank head Jason Grumet reacts to Obama's mandatory voting idea

Speaking in Cleveland on March 18, President Barack Obama raised the idea that compulsory voting could improve the U.S. electoral system.

“In Australia, and some other countries,” the President pointed out, “there’s mandatory voting. It would be transformative if everybody voted... that may end up being a better strategy in the short term.”

The next day in Charlottesville, the president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, Jason Grumet, spoke about Washington's dysfunctional politics at the Virginia Festival of the Book. He was featured on a panel sponsored by local non-profit Charlottesville Tomorrow called “Bipartisanship and Everybody Loves Jefferson” along with Louisiana State University historian Andrew Burstein.

Aspirational, not practical
Grumet described his 2014 book, City of Rivals: Restoring the Glorious Mess of American Democracy, and, in a post-panel interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner, he reacted to the president's idea of making voting mandatory, under the threat of punishment, for American citizens.

“There's a constitutional issue,” he said.

Compulsory voting, he explained, is “more of an aspiration than a practical solution. Like everything, there are pros and cons.”

Grumet conceded that “it would be terrific to have greater participation in a participatory democracy” but he pointed to problems in the country identified by President Obama as a potential model.

In Australia, he said, experience has shown that “the downside is a lot of people are essentially forced to vote who have no desire to participate in the process, no information about the process, and so there's a question about whether you dilute the quality of the voter pool.”

There are good and bad levels of participation, he continued.

“Having 20 percent participate [or] having 100 percent participate probably also has some problems,” he said. On the other hand, “60 to 70 percent would be great.”

Gerrymandering 'doesn't matter'
During the interview and the panel discussion, Grumet also addressed a widely-held electoral concern – legislative redistricting.

“Gerrymandering is a concern,” he said. “It is undermining to the democracy to have politicians choosing the voters as opposed to the voters choosing the politicians.”

However, he added, “it just doesn't matter as much as a lot of people think. The high water mark for redistricting reform would be the tenor of the U.S. Senate. There are no districts in the Senate [yet] it is not exactly a venue of great collaboration.”

Nationwide, he explained, “we have essentially sorted ourselves so that no matter how you draw districts, we are still going to have a diminishing number of competitive” elections.

While Grumet continues to believe there should be efforts to create “bipartisan redistricting commissions and get away from some of these crazy, gerrymandered districts but,” he cautioned, “in and of itself [that] is not going to be the solution to the fractious nature of our democracy.”

Independent redistricting
He noted a case now being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the redistricting commission in Arizona, which was created by voter initiative to bypass the state legislature.

That case, he said, poses “an interesting question because the essence of it, as I understand it, is that the legislature was basically taken out of the redesign process.”

Arizona has “an independent commission and there's a question about whether, in fact, it is constitutional to have redistricting happen without legislative prerogative. That doesn't mean that you couldn't have redistricting commissions that have three Democrats and three Republicans. It wouldn't eliminate the capacity to seek better efforts when it comes to redrawing lines but it could limit a certain type of redistricting commission.”

As to the ultimate ruling in the Supreme Court case, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Grumet quipped, “If I could tell you the outcome of that case, I could also tell you the price of oil in a month.”

SUGGESTED LINKS

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Former Senator Rick Santorum says homosexuals deserve protection

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/think-tank-head-jason-grumet-reacts-to-obama-s-mandatory-voting-idea