Replacing Boehner and McConnell

“[I]f the Republican Party does not start positively responding to grassroots conservatives, these key activists may bolt the GOP…. If the GOP in Congress will not stand up to Obama, what good is having the leadership positions?”  — Jeff Crouere, media host and columnist at Townhall.com

Boehner and McConnell at podium - flags behindThe recent midterm elections and discussions of “lame duck” bills and executive actions, etc., got me thinking again of who might be good replacements for Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House and for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Senate Majority Leader. Don’t get me wrong; I like them OK. Sometimes, I like what they say and do, but all too often I find them rather aggravating. Both of them are entrenched, “establishment” Republicans with an apparent disdain for — or, at least, distrust of — Tea Party types, whether over policy (e.g., immigration, taxes, agricultural programs) or strategy/tactics (e.g., whether or not “government shutdown” should even be on the table during budget negotiations) or both. Since I lean toward Tea Party thinking on many things, this attitude by Boehner and McConnell and other GOP leaders troubles me. Plus, as Crouere intimated above, they have not been very effective — cowardly, in some cases — when it comes to countering the administration’s “progressive” agenda.

Unfortunately, Republican majorities in both chambers just recently (re-)elected both gentlemen to their respective positions for the 114th Congress (beginning Jan. 3, 2015) with little-to-no opposition. But, if either should die or resign for some reason, his leadership position would (obviously) become open and a new election scheduled. So, who would be good candidates, if the need arises? (Of course, in 2016 normal elections will force the issue, anyway.) When considering who might fit the bill (pun intended) for these offices, I looked at:

1) Length of time in House and/or Senate. Seniority is a measure of automatic (though limited) respect, but it is also a factor in determining who knows whom and “how things work” in Congress and in Washington, for good or for bad. Plus, it is only natural and fair to not give top leadership positions to relative newbies but to preserve them as “rewards of service” to more senior members. For these reasons, I lean towards those with more years and experience.

2) Memberships (and especially chairmanships) of important committees and subcommittees in their respective chambers. These positions are given out by party leaders, often as rewards (or punishments, depending on the committee) and/or as shows of trust that an individual will represent the party’s interests well. If they stay there awhile, it (hopefully) means they are doing a decent job. (Unfortunately, it can also mean that the person is simply “towing the party line” and doing what they are told, when the party line may have strayed in some areas from what is truly best for the American people.) More to the point, such appointments are a major method by which U.S. Representatives and Senators gain influence and respect among peers and non-peers alike.

3) Lifetime scores on most recent Congressional Scorecards put out by Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and American Conservative Union. These are excellent barometers for the relative “conservativeness” of politicians, since these three groups are known for supporting and promoting consistent conservatism and challenging GOP “establishment” leadership. (Club for Growth focuses on key economic legislation, whereas the other two cover a broader range of issues and may be better overall guides.) Although I would prefer a House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader who rank near the top on all of these lists, I tried not to let that be the driving force in my selection.

4) General sense of how they might do as a leader (e.g., fairness, respect, courage in fighting liberal “progressive” agenda, etc.) and being in the spotlight. This may be the most important criterion. Unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot to go on, other than what I can glean from seeing/hearing each via articles, interviews, press conferences, and the like.

So, after looking at several Representatives and Senators in light of the above criteria, trying to find those with a good balance, who do I suggest? I have three potential candidates for each position:

Speaker of the House first…

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ): Franks is my first choice. He has 12 solid years in the House and is considered one of the “most conservative” members of the House by The National Journal. He is a member of several caucuses, including Tea Party Caucus, Liberty Caucus, and International Religious Freedom Caucus. He serves on two subcommittees within the House Armed Services Committee, as well as on two subcommittees within the House Judiciary Committee, chairing one of them. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 97%; Club for Growth – 98%; ACU – 98.91%.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): Gohmert is another strong conservative, with 10 years in the House, who is sometimes seen as a thorn in Boehner’s side. He is a member of three caucuses, including the Tea Party Caucus, as well as the Republican Study Committee. He is a member of two subcommittees and a task force within the House Judiciary Committee. Gohmert also serves on two subcommittees within the House Committee on Natural Resources. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 92%; Club for Growth – 89%; ACU – 96.44%.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): Jordan is another solid conservatice and an excellent choice. He has 8 years of service in the House so far, and he chaired the Republican Study Committee during the 112th Congress. He is a member of the House Budget Committee; serves on two subcommittees within the House Judiciary Committee; serves on two subcommittees within the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; reportedly turned down a position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee; and is a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi (chaired by Trey Gowdy). Jordan’s lifetime scores are: Heritage – 93%; Club for Growth – 98%; ACU – 100%.

What do you think? Tom McClintock is a “runner up”, I suppose. He has very good lifetime scores (Heritage – 90%; Club for Growth – 98%; ACU – 98.4%.), but he only has 6 years in, so Gohmert stays. I also really like “young guns” Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Justin Amash (R-MI), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Steve Stockman (R-TX), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and Trey Gowdy (R-SC), all of whom have very solidly conservative ratings and are gaining “notoriety” as pains in the collective butts of Democrats and establishment GOP alike. However, none of them has more than 4 years’ congressional service, yet. I look forward to seeing them all do a lot of good for the conservative cause and, by extension, for America in the years to come. Eventually, maybe one or more will become Speaker of the House — or, even POTUS.

Of course, the House rules do not demand that the Speaker be an actual member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In fact, not long ago former Speaker Newt Gingrich was nominated for the position. (I wonder if he knew?) Also, although he had just lost his Nov. 2012 bid for re-election, outspoken Rep. Allen West (R-FL) was nominated for Speaker for the 113th Congress by Rep. Gohmert, thereby breaking ranks with GOP leadership (who put/kept Boehner in).

capitol-building-washington-dc - bigAs for Senate Majority Leader, if Jim DeMint (R-SC) hadn’t already taken over as head of the Heritage Foundation, he would probably be at the top of my list. He retired from the Senate after 6 years in the House and 8 years in the Senate with the following lifetime scores: Heritage – 99%; Club for Growth – 100%; ACU – 97+%. He is articulate and comfortable in front of the camera and known for playing fair and by the rules. Normally, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) would be at or near the top of the list, too, given his years in Congress (16 in the House, 18 in the Senate) and experience on various (sub)committees. But, his lifetime scores of 79% and 74% from Heritage Action and Club for Growth, respectively, disappoint me and knock him down a few notches. I didn’t have time to investigate, but if Roberts started out a moderate and became increasingly conservative over the years, then that would be a legitimate reason and enough to put him back in the running. A third Senator I wanted to put on the list was Tom Coburn (R-OK), who currently scores Heritage – 87%; Club for Growth – 96%; ACU – 98%. He spent 6 years in the House and is finishing his 10th year in the Senate. Unfortunately, he is taking early retirement at the end of the 113th Congress, to be succeeded by Rep. James Lankford (R).

There are not many really strong conservatives in the U.S. Senate, right now. Most of those who are are relative newcomers and, therefore, not on the most powerful and prestigious committees (e.g., Appropriations or Finance). Without DeMint, Roberts, or Coburn, options are limited, but here are my three top recommendations (in no particular order):

Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID): Risch is perhaps not that familiar a name, but he has been a U.S. Senator for 6 years, following stints as Lieut. Governor (twice) and Governor or Idaho. He is a member of three subcommittees within the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; serves on four subcommittees within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; member of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics; and, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 87%; Club for Growth – 90%; ACU – 95.8%.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): Sessions should be a familiar name to those who keep up with the U.S. national political news. He has been climbing the Capitol Building steps for 18 years and is a member of the International Narcotics Control Caucus. He is the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee; member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; serves on three subcommittees within the Senate Armed Services Committee; and, serves on four subcommittees within the Senate Judiciary Committee. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 81%; Club for Growth – 86%; ACU – 92.24%.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK): Inhofe is another familiar name among the politically informed. He has been a fixture in Congress for 28 years (8 in the House, 20 in the Senate)! He is a member of several caucuses and, though he has dealt with his share of personal & professional controversies over the years, he is the first recipient of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Character and Leadership Award for his character and leadership in public service. Inhofe currently serves on three subcommittees within the Senate Armed Services Committee and is the ranking minority member on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 84%; Club for Growth – 93%; ACU – 96.82%.

You might notice the conspicuous absence of Tea Party favorites Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. I like them a lot, and they are all solid conservatives who are making names for themselves as gadflies to the Obama administration and the “progressive” agenda. But, they are also junior Senators with no more than 4 years apiece in Congress. I would not object very strongly if any of them were elected Senate Majority Leader, but, as I said, I generally prefer to see a respected senior member get the honor. On the other hand, someone like Richard Shelby (R-AL) has an impressive record of service (8 years in the House, 28 years in the Senate), serving on several (sub)committees — including chairing the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1997-2001); chairing the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs (2003-2007); and now a member of six subcommittees within the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee –, but he is way too moderate (Heritage – 73% (lifetime); Club for Growth – 77% (lifetime); ACU – 76.46% (lifetime)) for my comfort level. (Compare to McConnell below.)

The downside, then, is that all of these “more senior” Senators are probably considered members of the GOP “Establishment”. I can only hope that, if one was made Senate Majority Leader, he would be fair, strong in the face of adversity from the Left, ready to work more closely with grass roots conservatives, and, most of all, an effective and honorable leader.

P.S.  Just for comparison, here are a few more notables and their lifetime scores:

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH): Heritage – N/A; Club for Growth – 83%; ACU – 86.99%. (Note: The Speaker of the House doesn’t normally vote, so his lifetime scores for CfG and ACU are as of 2010. Heritage doesn’t provide one, but it couldn’t have been too high, since he has voted contrary to the Heritage position on almost all of the major bills since.)

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT): Heritage – 81%; Club for Growth – 93%; ACU – 94.4%.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI): Heritage – 67%; Club for Growth – 85%; ACU – 90.67%.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA): Heritage – 63%; Club for Growth – 81%; ACU – 89.77%.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): Heritage – 49%; Club for Growth – 78%; ACU – 90.43%.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): Heritage – 72%; Club for Growth – 85%; ACU – 90.16%.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): Heritage – 76%; Club for Growth – 78%; ACU – 83.6%.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA): Heritage – 76%; Club for Growth – 83%; ACU – 92.4%.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ): Heritage – 80%; Club for Growth – 98%; ACU – 95%.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD): Heritage – 67%; Club for Growth – 80%; ACU – 87.18%.

Also, re the Heritage Action scores, average for House Republicans is 62% and average for Senate Republicans is 64%. Pitiful.

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Three Legislative Acts Ripe for Bipartisan Passage

“[W]e can surely find ways to work together on issues where there’s broad agreement among the American people.”  — President Barack Obama, post-midterms news conference (11/5/2014)

A lot of the news these days is filled with talk about Obamacare (Grubercare?), immigration/amnesty, net neutrality, and climate change. But, I don’t feel like wading into those messes. There’s no way any of them will be “resolved” by the end of the year, so I’m not even going to suggest it. Instead, I wanted to focus on three other areas of public interest that I think can be productively addressed during the Lame Duck Session by passing bipartisan bills.

Of course, President Obama would still need to sign them into law. Neither Party has enough votes in the Senate to override his veto on their own, but they could if they worked together. If Obama was “smart” — pragmatically, strategically –, though, he would get behind them. Well, imho, that is. Not that I want to see him (or any Democrats) get credit for doing anything actually good for the republic, thereby distracting from the mountain of negatives he/they have done. But, on the other hand, the benefits of passing the below bills would, I think, outweigh the downside of the Left getting some positive press. (Heck, the MSM praises them no matter what, anyway.)

So, here are my suggestions:

Keystone XL pipeline expansion1) Approve Keystone XL Pipeline

Now, this one has gotten a lot of press over the past week or so, since it figures into the runoff election coming to Louisiana early next month. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) really needs a push to help keep her seat against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), so she’s revived her promotion of the pipeline. Landrieu isn’t the only Democrat who realizes what a boon this would be for her state and every state involved and the nation as a whole. (Or, at least, they realize their constituents are for it.) In fact, in the ninth & latest vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill (252 to 161) approving the federal government to proceed with Keystone expansion plans. Now, Landrieu has convince Harry Reid to have an up-or-down vote in the Senate this week on the Hoeven-Landrieu bill, which would green-light the Keystone project. There are at least 11 Dem supporters in the Senate, so it just may go through.

As Christine Rousselle of Townhall.com reminded us a few days ago,

“The Keystone XL pipeline is widely approved by members of both parties, as well as the general public. The Senate has already voted in several non-binding measures to approve the pipeline, but President Obama has final say about the project’s approval.”

The White House has implied continued reluctance on the part of the President, primarily tied to environmental concerns. But, multiple studies/reviews have determined that the pipeline poses minimal environmental risk to soil, water, wildlife, etc., and negligible climate impact. So, Mr. President, what’s the problem?

2) Fix Dodd-Frank

We are all familiar with the “too big to fail” doctrine. This is the idea that certain banks and other firms are too big and important to the economy to let fall into bankruptcy, so they are bailed out (with taxpayer money) by the government. This encourages risky behavior and gives government officials authority to choose who to help, thereby typically saving the least efficient and most troubled firms. (Does that make sense?) In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Dodd-Frank Act was the primary piece of regulatory legislation that was supposed to end this practice. Unfortunately, the extensive Dodd-Frank regulation appears to have made matters worse.

In a recent piece for The Heritage Foundation, Norbert Michel explains why and offers a few suggestions to Congress (as summarized by the NCPA):

  • Repeal Dodd-Frank entirely. The law “expanded the federal safety net for financial firms,” says Michel, only making future crises — and subsequent bailouts — more likely.
  • Use bankruptcy law for large institutional failures, not Title II, and allow them to wind down their affairs like any other company through the typical bankruptcy process.
  • Don’t allow the Fed to make emergency loans to private firms.
  • Permanently shut down Fannie and Freddie.
  • Eliminate the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which Michel calls “wholly incompatible with the functioning of a dynamic private capital market.”

If wholesale repeal of the act is deemed impossible, Paul Kupiec suggests three steps to at least improve it:

  • Raise the threshold for oversight.
  • Eliminate the ability of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to designate nonbank firms as “systemically important financial institutions” (SIFIs), which leads to greater supervision from the Federal Reserve.
  • Reform the “living will” requirement.

For a fuller explanation, see Kupiec’s article at the Wall Street Journal, “Three Easy Fixes to Dodd-Frank”.  (Or, if you don’t have access, check out the NCPA summary here.) I’d like to think we could get bipartisan congressional buy-in for some or all of these changes, and it would be a feather in the cap of all involved. Chances would be stronger once the new Congress is sworn in, of course, but doing it this Nov./Dec. would give another win to the outgoing legislators. I wonder what the President would think….

3) Repeal/Neuter ‘Common Core’

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It was supposed to ensure consistent standards across the states and prepare students for college or, at least, basic employment. It had bipartisan support both in Washington, D.C., and among the public, though much of the push seemed to be from the Left (e.g., President Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Forty-four states plus the District of Columbia adopted the Common Core standards & materials.

As time has passed, though, its “shortcomings” in content, structure, and administration have become glaringly obvious to more and more people. Criticism of the initiative, in part or as a whole, have come from politicians, policy analysts and think-tanks, teachers’ unions and educators, civil rights groups, etc., as well as thousands of parents, and it crosses party lines. Several states have since voted to repeal or replace Common Core, while others are moving to at least review and possibly revise. (Keep the good and throw out the bad, right? Are states actually smart enough to do that?!) Even the phrase “Common Core” has become divisive in some places.

protestors against Common Core“[I]t’s not surprising that we find, as people get more aware of the details and as implementation begins, that there are problems that arise and that give people a chance to think about whether they are as supportive as they were when this first started.”  — Michael Feuer, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University

“[S]upport will continue to drop as people no longer see the standards or standardized tests as helping children. They, like many teachers, see them instead as setting up public education for failure.”  — Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

OK, so this one may not seem like a matter for the U.S. Congress and the President to address. Indeed, most of the decisions regarding adoption, repeal, or replacement of Common Core standards are in the hands of state board members, legislators, and governors. However, I see at least one way Congress could discourage participation. (There may be others.) Participation is incentivized by the Race to the Top contest, in which states vie for financial funding from the federal government (via the ED Recovery Act), based on how many children each state has and the degree to which the states adopt the common standards. If the U.S. Congress were to change the rules and/or defund these awards/grants, the states would have to decide whether sticking with the controversial Common Core program was still worth it.

Perhaps they should start over with a “clean slate”, come up with an agreed upon minimum set of standards, so that they have some common ground and can do comparisons, and leave the rest up to the individual states to decide for themselves? (Of course, I also think that educational institutions of all levels should not be reliant on — and, therefore, beholden to — the federal government.)

“The failed promises of No Child Left Behind account for Americans’ skepticism about the federal government’s role in public education, and Common Core is viewed through that lens.”  — Bill Bushaw, chief executive officer of polling firm PDK International

I honestly think the above three measures could be win-wins for both parties, including the President, even if somewhat reluctantly approved by some. It would show the American public that our leaders in Washington can actually come together, set aside ideological bickering, and pass bipartisan solutions for the benefit of the nation, her citizens, and their children. I think it rather unlikely this will happen, but a boy can dream….

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Don’t Screw It Up!

Though some of you may have already read your fill, I feel obliged to write some commentary on last week’s elections in the U.S. So, I’ll begin with the obligatory summary of election results:

Party of Old White Meno  Not only did Republicans maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but they gained at least an additional 10 seats. As of this writing, the overall count is 182 Dem, 244 Rep, with 9 still undecided (6 leaning Dem, 3 leaning Rep). This will be the largest majority in the House since 1928.

o  So far, the GOP picked up 7 seats in the Senate, giving them the majority. Current overall count is 44 Dem, 52 Rep. Two more seats are still in play, with Dem leading in one, and the other (Louisiana) poised for a December runoff. The final two are held by 3rd parties. As Newt Gingrich pointed out,

“In two midterms, the President may have cost the Democrats more seats in the U.S. Senate than any president since Harry Truman.”

o  At the state level, gubernatorial elections handed two more governorships to the GOP’s existing majority. Current overall count is 17 Dem, 31 Rep, with the Democrat leading in one outstanding race and a 3rd-party candidate leading in the other.

o  Republicans made significant gains in other state seats, as well. In fact, come January they will have more state legislators than ever in the 160-year history of the Party. As per Guy Benson at townhall.com,

“GOP will field majorities in 69 out of 98 partisan legislatures (Nebraska’s state legislature is unicameral and nonpartisan). For those keeping score at home, that’s 70 percent of all legislatures. And that’s with Republican governors presiding over nearly two-thirds of all states.”

o  Some supposedly “safe” seats were flipped from Blue to Red. There were also several close races (including in my home state of Florida), and the Republicans pulled off some amazing, even surprising wins in Purple-to-Blue states like Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

o  Though many Democrats deny it, this was indeed a “shellacking” — or a “red tsunami”, if you prefer. But,… as others have pointed out, this was NOT so much a pro-Republican “message” from the people as it was a rejection of President Obama’s policies and of Democrats who have supported (and mimicked?) them. People are waking up to the fact that progressive liberal policies are failing the country, failing them. Many simply voted for “the other guy”, in hopes that s/he would do better. Or, as John Hawkins titled a recent column, “GOP Leaders Shouldn’t Forget That They Won Because Obama Sucks, Not Because They’re Great”.

Originally, I was going to call this article/post “Surprised, Very Happy, Not Ecstatic”, because… that’s how I felt about election night. Still do. I was going to take Speaker Boehner to task for saying this is “not a time for celebration.” (Of course, it is!) Then, I was going to agree with him that:

“It’s time for government to start getting results and implementing solutions to the challenges facing our country, starting with our still-struggling economy.”

I was going to acknowledge that the GOP Senate still doesn’t have a two-thirds majority, which it would need (without Dem or Ind assistance) to convict on impeachment, change Senate rules, or override presidential veto. It doesn’t even have the 60 votes it will need to end Democrat filibusters. But, it does now have the simple majority necessary for just about everything else. Plus, with Harry “Gridlock” Reid out of the way, the new Republican Senate Majority Leader, as chief strategist (and spokesperson) for the majority party, will be able to make committee appointments, help establish a legislative timetable, and direct debate. In short, s/he can begin by bringing those 350+ House-passed bills out of limbo (i.e., Reid’s desk) and get the Senate working again as a deliberative body — and that’s precisely what Mitch McConnell has promised to do.

Unfortunately, as I was also going to point out, McConnell — who will presumably be re-elected by his peers as majority leader — is a solid member of the Republican establishment. He has historically not been favorable to Tea Party members or their more conservative (and constitutionally principled) ideas. Nor is House Speaker Boehner. At times, they have been downright antagonistic. In my opinion, they really do need to listen to the more conservative members of Congress, if we are going to have a real chance at stopping and reversing the damage done by the progressive liberals. The President talks about “working together”, but we all know that he has no such intentions of doing anything other than continuing to push his radical, “progressive” agenda.

Republicans of all stripes must come together with a workable, sensible platform of solutions to address the topmost concerns of the American people: the economy (e.g., jobs, taxes, regulation, energy), national security (e.g., immigration, military preparedness, foreign policy, anti-terrorism measures, ebola), and government (e.g., size, overreach, spending, corruption).

In the more immediate timeframe, there are, of course, the next two months of “Lame Duck Session”. Until the new Representatives- and Senators-elect take office in January, the current lineup remains, and Obama can likely count on Sen. Reid to back up his power-plays and stonewall any Republican legislation. Based on what Reid and the President himself have said, Democrats are expected to try to slip a lot of stuff in under the wire — everything from government funding (to avoid shutdown) to “executive amnesty” for millions of illegal aliens to measures on defense/military, internet taxes, and renewal of the terrorism risk insurance program.

zombiesOn top of this, I was going to bring up the potential “zombie” threat. No, not those sort of zombies. This refers to House and Senate members who were defeated in Tuesday’s elections or are retiring from office and how they might vote on critical budgetary and national security matters during the LDS. (Thanks to political commentator/columnist George Will for the term.) As per the McClatchy-Tribune, former Senator Jim DeMint and other conservatives worry that these “politically walking dead with nothing to lose… could go rogue and actually vote their conscience.” Said DeMint,

“With no electorate to appease, the newly politically ‘deceased’ members have no incentive to restrain their baser urges to feast upon the hard-earned tax dollars of the living.”

A recent Mercatus Center study found that lawmakers do indeed behave and vote differently in lame-duck sessions. According to Matthew Mitchell and Emily Washington, two of the study’s three co-authors,

“For legislators who are retiring or have been voted out of office, a lame-duck session is a unique opportunity to ignore the wishes of special interests, campaign donors, other legislators and party bosses. Only as lame ducks can they freely vote as they wish.”

I should point out that this works both ways, since a Democrat may want to vote more moderately but normally feels pressured to vote hard-Left. On the other hand, these “zombies” were only found to be 3-4% less likely to vote along party lines. And this assumes they even show up, since members of Congress in general are more likely to be absent for votes during lame-duck sessions — Representatives by 50%, Senators by 30%. Other than to pass a (hopefully reasonable) resolution for funding the government after Dec. 11, I’d be happy if they just stayed home for the rest of the session.

On the other other hand, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, isn’t too worried.

“I think there are a few things you can do that the next Congress won’t do dramatically differently,” Blunt told reporters this week. “As long as you have a Republican House, I don’t think senators need to be overly worried about what a lame-duck Senate is going to do.”

But, I’m not gonna talk about all that. ;)

Oh, wait… Looks like I already did. Alright, I’ll wrap it up with a plea to our GOP leaders in Washington and throughout the nation:

“The Party won big this time, and you are to be congratulated. But, don’t rest on your laurels. Now, the real work starts, and there’s a lot to do. The majority of the American people are incredibly frustrated with the way this country is headed, and the President isn’t the only problem. YOU guys & gals in Congress are! One of your job priorities needs to be (re)building trust among your constituents on all levels. You can do that with wise and honorable leadership.

To the old guard, I say ‘This is your opportunity to show that you can take the bull by the horns and do what must be done. Use your power of the purse to put a halt to the ‘progressive’ agenda, for cryin’ out loud, including what has already been passed (e.g., Obamacare) and what is sure to come up (e.g., “executive amnesty”). Don’t be afraid to play hardball, as long as you don’t play dirty, and stick to the principles and direction of the Constitution. And, definitely, do not let the Executive Branch get away with usurping anymore of your authority! In fact, you should look into getting back what has already been taken.’

To the new guys/gals coming in, ‘Your victories are commendable, but, as Han Solo once told Luke Skywalker, “Great, kid! Don’t get cocky.” Remember, you ran on conservative issues like Obamacare repeal, balancing the budget, stopping amnesty, and challenging the Washington establishment. Don’t forget, don’t get complacent, and don’t allow yourselves to be bullied. Those of us who put you in office expect you to do what you promised, defend the Constitution, and champion its principles. Do that, and you will have our gratitude and our support.’

Compromise on some details is sometimes acceptable; compromise on principles is not. Now, all of ya… go do some good, and don’t screw it up!”

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An Introduction to Atheist Delusions (Part 2 of 2)

“With impressive erudition and polemical panache, David Hart smites hip and thigh the peddlers of a ‘new atheism’ that recycles hoary arguments from the past. His grim assessment of our cultural moment challenges the hope that ‘the Christian revolution’ could happen again.”  — Richard John Newhaus, former EIC at First Things

Continuing from last week, I am citing selections from the “Introduction” to David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (2009, Yale University Press), winner of the Michael Ramsey Prize in Theology. Here, Hart gets to the, er, heart of why he wrote the book….

The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne - by Carracci (1597)

The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne – by Carracci (1597)

“My chief ambition in writing [this book] is to call attention to the peculiar and radical nature of the new faith in [its original] setting: how enormous a transformation of thought, sensibility, culture, morality, and spiritual imagination Christianity constituted in the age of pagan Rome; the liberation it offered from fatalism, cosmic despair, and the terror of occult agencies; the immense dignity it conferred upon the human person; its subversion of the cruelest aspects of pagan society; its (alas, only partial) demystification of political power; its ability to create moral community where none had existed before; and its elevation of active charity above all other virtues.

Stated in its most elementary and most buoyantly positive form, my argument is, first of all, that among all the many great transitions that have marked the evolution of Western civilization, whether convulsive or gradual, political or philosophical, social or scientific, material or spiritual, there has been only one — the triumph of Christianity — that can be called in the fullest sense a “revolution”: a truly massive and epochal revision of humanity’s prevailing vision of reality, so pervasive in its influence and so vast in its consequences as actually to have created a new conception of the world, of history, of human nature, of time, and of the moral good. To my mind, I should add, it was an event immeasurably more impressive in its cultural creativity and more ennobling in its moral power than any other movement of spirit, will, imagination, aspiration, or accomplishment in the history of the West. And I am convinced that, given how radically at variance Christianity was with the culture it slowly and relentlessly displaced, its eventual victory was an event of such improbability as to strain the very limits of our understanding of historical causality.”

Wow!

“There is also, however, a negative side to my argument. It is what I suppose I should call my rejection of modernity — or, rather, my rejection of the ideology of “the modern” and my rejection, especially, of the myth of “the Enlightenment.” By modernity, I should explain, I certainly do not mean modern medicine or air travel or space exploration or any of the genuinely useful or estimable aspects of life today; I do not even mean modern philosophical method or social ideology or political thought. Rather, I mean the modern age’s grand narrative of itself: its story of the triumph of critical reason over “irrational” faith, of the progress of social morality toward greater justice and freedom, of the “tolerance” of the secular state, and of the unquestioned ethical primacy of either individualism or collectivism (as the case may be).

I want in part to argue that what many of us are still in the habit of calling the “Age of Reason” was in many significant ways the beginning of the eclipse of reason’s authority as a cultural value; that the modern age is notable in large measure for the triumph of inflexible and unthinking dogmatism in every sphere of human endeavor (including the sciences) and for a flight from rationality to any number of soothing fundamentalisms, religious and secular; that the Enlightenment ideology of modernity as such does not even deserve any particular credit for the advance of modern science; that the modern secular state’s capacity for barbarism exceeds any of the evils for which Christendom might justly be indicted, not solely by virtue of the superior technology at its disposal, but by its very nature; that among the chief accomplishments of modern culture have been a massive retreat to superstition and the gestation of especially pitiless forms of nihilism; and that, by comparison to the Christian revolution it succeeded, modernity is little more than an aftereffect, or even a counterrevolution — a reactionary flight back toward a comfortable, but dehumanizing, mental and moral servitude to elemental nature…. The central concern of what follows is the early centuries of the church, but I approach those centuries very much from the perspective of the present, and I return from them only to consider what the true nature of a post-Christian culture must be. Needless to say, perhaps, my prognostications tend toward the bleak….”

Ouch! Tell us what you really think, Dr. Hart!

The Seven Acts of Charity - by Caravaggio (1607)

The Seven Acts of Charity – by Caravaggio (1607)

“What, however, animates this project is a powerful sense of how great a distance of historical forgetfulness and cultural alienation separates us from the early centuries of the Christian era, and how often our familiarity with the Christianity we know today can render us insensible to the novelty and uncanniness of the gospel as it was first proclaimed — or even as it was received by succeeding generations of ancient and medieval Christians. And this is more than merely unfortunate. Our normal sense of the continuity of history, though it can accommodate ruptures and upheavals of a certain magnitude, still makes it difficult for us to comprehend the sheer immensity of what I want to call the Western tradition’s “Christian interruption.” But it is something we must comprehend if we are properly to understand who we have been and what we have become, or to understand both the happy fortuity and poignant fragility of many of those moral “truths” upon which our sense of our humanity rests, or even to understand what defenses we possess against the eventual cultural demise of those truths. And, after all, given how enormous the force of the Christian interruption was in shaping the reality all of us inhabit, it is nothing less than our obligation to our own past to attempt to grasp its true nature….

At a particular moment in history, I believe, something happened to Western humanity that changed it at the deepest levels of consciousness and at the highest levels of culture. It was something of such strange and radiant vastness that it is almost inexplicable that the memory of it should have so largely faded from our minds, to be reduced to a few old habits of thought and desire whose origins we no longer know, or to be displaced altogether by a few recent habits of thought and desire that render us oblivious to what we have forsaken. But, perhaps the veil that time draws between us and the distant past in some sense protects us from the burden of too much memory. It often proves debilitating to dwell too entirely in the shadows of vanished epochs, and our capacity to forget is (as Friedrich Nietzsche noted) very much a part of our capacity to live in the present.

That said, every natural strength can become also an innate weakness; to live entirely in the present, without any of the wisdom that a broad perspective upon the past provides, is to live a life of idiocy and vapid distraction and ingratitude. Over time, our capacity to forget can make everything come to seem unexceptional and predictable, even things that are actually quite remarkable and implausible. The most important function of historical reflection is to wake us from too complacent a forgetfulness and to recall us to a knowledge of things that should never be lost to memory. And the most important function of Christian history is to remind us not only of how we came to be modern men and women, or of how Western civilization was shaped, but also of something of incalculable wonder and inexpressible beauty, the knowledge of which can still haunt, delight, torment, and transfigure us.”

And that was just the opening salvo, if you will. Intrigued? Challenged? Annoyed? I was (though, mostly the first). I can hardly wait to delve deeper, as Hart lays waste to the typical “new atheist” assaults on Christianity with an informed, thoughtful, and articulate gentility, while also reminding believer and non-believer alike of the importance of studying history and learning from the lessons of the past.

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An Introduction to Atheist Delusions (Part 1 of 2)

“Few things are so delightful as watching someone who has taken the time to acquire a lot of learning casually, even effortlessly, dismantle the claims of lazy grandstanders.”  — Stefan Beck, New Criterion

If you thought from this post’s title that I was going to enumerate several “delusions” of the “new atheists”, then I am afraid you were mistaken. However,… what I am going to do here is cite the bulk of Dr. David Bentley Hart’s “Introduction” to his book, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. (So, you see, my title, while slightly open to misinterpretation, was quite literal.) In the book, Hart does indeed expose and correct such delusions. But, this post is meant merely to spark your interest.

Cover to *Atheist Delusions* bookI found Hart to be quite eloquent and honest in his self-examination and exposition. In introducing his work and explaining his method and purpose in writing, Hart touches on several things that I could identify with and echo (in my small way) as a blogger and apologist-in-training who sometimes addresses the same or similar issues. From receiving unreasonable demands for “proof” to being accused of supporting historical atrocities (however they may be misunderstood or misrepresented) to simply being called an anti-science dolt, Christian theists can get pretty frustrated trying to carefully articulate their case before individuals who often don’t take the time or have the patience to listen and give fair consideration. (This, despite their supposed dedication to truth and/or reason.) Hart’s focus is on defending historical Christianity against… well, I’ll let him explain it.

The citation might seem a bit lengthy (and part 2 is even longer), but I couldn’t bring myself to cut anymore out than I already did. I hope you find it illuminating, challenging, something you too might be able to appreciate, or perhaps only “interesting”, but hopefully more than merely entertaining.

“Perfect detachment is impossible for even the soberest of historians, since the writing of history necessarily demands some sort of narrative of causes and effects, and is thus necessarily an act of interpretation, which by its nature can never be wholly free of prejudice. But, I am not really a historian, in any event, and I do not even aspire to detachment. In what follows, my prejudices are transparent and unreserved, and my argument is in some respects willfully extreme (or so it might seem). I think it prudent to admit this from the outset, if only to avoid being accused later of having made some pretense of perfect objectivity or neutrality so as to lull the reader into a state of pliant credulity….

This is not to say, I hasten to add, that I am in any way forswearing claims of objective truth: to acknowledge that one’s historical judgments can never be absolutely pure of preconceptions or personal convictions is scarcely to surrender to a thoroughgoing relativism. It may be impossible to provide perfectly irrefutable evidence for one’s conclusions, but it is certainly possible to amass evidence sufficient to confirm them beyond plausible doubt, just as it is possible to discern when a particular line of interpretation has exceeded or contradicted the evidence altogether and become little better than a vehicle for the writer’s own predilections, interests, or allegiances….

Such honesty costs me little, as it happens. Since the case I wish to make is not that the Christian gospel can magically transform whole societies in an instant, or summon the charity it enjoins out of the depths of every soul, or entirely extirpate cruelty and violence from human nature, or miraculously lift men and women out of their historical contexts, I feel no need to evade or excuse the innumerable failures of many Christians through the ages to live lives of charity or peace. Where I come to the defense of historical Christianity, it is only in order to raise objections to certain popular calumnies of the church, or to demur from what I take to be disingenuous or inane arraignments of Christian belief or history, or to call attention to achievements and virtues that writers of a devoutly anti-Christian bent tend to ignore, dissemble, or dismiss….”

anti-theist quotes by "new atheists"“Some of the early parts of this book concern the Roman Catholic Church; but whatever I say in its defense ought not to be construed as advocacy for the institution itself (to which I do not belong), but only for historical accuracy. To be honest, my affection for institutional Christianity as a whole is rarely more than tepid; and there are numerous forms of Christian belief and practice for which I would be hard pressed to muster a kind word from the depths of my heart, and the rejection of which by the atheist or skeptic strikes me as perfectly laudable. In a larger sense, nothing I argue below — even if all of it is granted — implies that the Christian vision of reality is true. And, yet, the case I wish to make is intended to be provocative, and its more apologetic moments are meant to clear the way for a number of much stronger, and even perhaps somewhat immoderate, assertions….”

Yeah! What HE said!

Stay tuned for part 2, when Hart discusses the true impact of the “Christian Revolution”. He also lays a smackdown on “the ideology of ‘the modern’” and “the myth of ‘the Enlightenment’.” Good stuff!

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Celebrating 5 Years of AVftR (plus a Top 10)!

This month marks the 5th anniversary of the maiden post for “A View from the Right”. I can hardly believe it has been that long! That first post was the beginning of a 9-part series called “What’s So Bad (or Great) about Obamacare?”, and it was my first attempt at writing anything of the sort. Sure, I had done a bit of creative writing in school, status reports and system documentation in the workplace, etc. But, up to that point, I had never tried to write any sort of “article” for an online (or offline) publication. Not even a guest post.

Calvin and Hobbes - concise writerIt took a little while, but I eventually found my “voice” — a tone and style that I was comfortable writing in. I might vary in the degree of levity, and some posts are slightly more didactic or authoritative in tone, I suppose. But, overall, I try to remain fairly informal, writing as a “fellow traveler”, sharing knowledge and encouraging thought on various important topics involving science, politics, and religion. I have even received a few compliments on my writing from regular readers, and I very much appreciate the encouragement!

Sometimes, milestones like this are a time to shake things up. But, while I will be looking at a few minor things I might do over the next couple months or so (e.g., maybe a new plug-in or something behind the scenes; possibly new links in the blogroll), I probably won’t be changing much. (However, if you think the blog could benefit from some functionality that it doesn’t have, let me know via the About page, and I’ll consider it.) I’m very happy with the blog theme, so no changes there, unless the creators update it for more color/design variations. The themes and schedule for my posts will remain as is, too. After all, it seems to work for my readers and me — which reminds me…

BIG SHOUT OUT TO MY READERS, ESPECIALLY THE REGULARS! Your taking the time to read my compositions — and, hopefully, leave a thoughtful comment — helps make the agony of the writing process more tolerable! Muchas gracias!

I’m not a political analyst, historian, theologian, scientist, or journalist, and I’ll never have the skills, insights, or depth of knowledge that (usually) come with those professions. But, I’ll do my best to continue providing valuable information and my (semi-)informed, mostly rational “view from the right”, as well as a fair dose of humor, on important matters of the day. (And, maybe a few not-that-important.) I hope you’ll
join me! Bring a few friends with you, okay?

Now, if you will allow me, I would like to suggest some posts that you may not have read, yet. Those of you who have been following the blog for a few years will probably recognize most of the titles. But, whether you never got around to reading them or you are relatively new and never saw them, I have selected a “Top 10″ list (unranked) for you to check out. (I confess, though, I cheated a little by linking to the first parts of multi-part posts, with hopes that you’ll continue reading the rest of the series.) It’s hard to pick one’s favorite “children”, but these are definitely among those that I am most pleased with. I hope you enjoy them, too!

“Top 10 Things Liberals Have Taught Me about Myself” (4 parts, written tongue-in-cheek)

“You know, sometimes you just need someone else’s perspective. Another viewpoint to explain reality to you and show you things about yourself that you never knew. Things that even your friends won’t tell you, or don’t know. Heck, they’re probably guilty of it, too, and don’t even realize it. Let me give a few examples of how my eyes have been opened….”

“The Right to Judge Others” (2 parts)

““Don’t judge me!” How many times have you heard that? When said seriously, the person’s tone is usually quite defensive. They don’t want someone else telling them that they are behaving in a bad, foolish, or ethically questionable way…. Should we never be allowed to form an opinion about other people and things, let alone pronounce them to be in some sense “bad” or “wrong”?”

“Rants and Reflections on the Election(s)” (2 parts)

““AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!” That was my response (posted on Facebook), give or take an “R” or two, to the 2012 Election results. Actually, that was my second FB post. My first was, “Crap on a stick! I’m so depressed.” But, that’s not quite right. I’m very disappointed, obviously. And a bit morose. But, really, I’m angry. So, here goes the rant…”

“Christian Mass Murder Through the Ages” (2 parts)

“Sometimes, I can’t help myself. I mean, people make spurious claims and ridiculous accusations against God, Christians, “the Church”, etc., all the time. Usually, I let it go. Can’t be constantly getting into long, drawn-out internet debates ALL the time, after all. But, sometimes, I just have to say something. And, so it went the other day, when a FB friend of a FB friend, amidst generally mocking comments, claimed that Christians were responsible for “lots of mass murders.””

Bible and DNA helix“Can You Accept “Revealed Wisdom” and Still Be “Scientific”?”

“Once upon a time, I had a brief but interesting discussion with a religiously-agnostic relative.  “Huh! You consider yourself ‘scientific’?”, he asked. I could hear the condescension in his tone. Suspecting where this was going, I asked, “Why don’t you think I am (or can be) ‘scientific’?” His response was very telling: “Because you believe in ‘revealed wisdom’.””

“Exposing the NAKED Truth”

“Earlier this week (er, I guess it was last week, now), a FB friend shared the following post: “Good morning american FB family, here’s something you should know about. You may be familiar with the Smoothy drinks from a company called NAKED that’s owned by Pepsi. Well, it seems that the contents of these drinks aren’t as all-natural or non-gmo after all. Naked has just agreed to settle a 9 million dollar class action lawsuit for false labeling….””

“No “Real” Christians?”

“A non-believer offered the following comment: “There’s no such thing as a real Christian these days. Christians I’ve come to find are the MOST judgemental and hypocritical people on the planet.. Hearing Christians talk has literally made me look into Muslim faith…. [T]he bible says you should act a certain way. 99.9% of Christians completely ignore what their holy book tells them. That book you’re supposed to live by, right?” This was sad, because far too many Christians are judgemental and/or hypocritical. It was also frustrating, because not all “Christians” are true followers of Jesus and because what constitutes “judgemental” and “hypocritical” is, you might say, up for debate. Also, skeptics often speak from (partial) ignorance….”

“The Pro-Life Position: Just One Question” (not numbered, but technically Part 1 of a series of 4 posts (as of this writing) beginning with “The Pro-Life Position”)

“The abortion controversy is not a debate between those who are pro-choice and those who are anti-choice. It’s not about privacy. It’s not about trusting women to decide. It’s not about forcing one’s morality. It’s about one question that trumps all others.”  — Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute

“The Matter of American Exceptionalism”

““American exceptionalism” is the notion that says the United States of America, as a nation, is “exceptional” both in the sense of being very unusual and in the sense of being special and, yes, better at some things or in some areas. I suppose one might say that it is the collective “Spirit of America” that makes it superior. Grounded in its founding ideals, this spirit has led to America’s economic success and ability to be a huge force for good in the world…. This exceptionalism is not dependent upon what others, here and abroad, think or feel about America, its history, or current events. It is not based upon popularity. It simply… is.”

“Living on a Razor’s Edge” (3 parts, despite the first one saying ‘(Part 1 of 2)’)

“Scientific discoveries over the past couple decades have been revealing just how amazingly, finely tuned the universe is; and, if things were just a minute bit different in any one of a multitude of conditions, we wouldn’t be here. Nor would any other living creature. The degree of precision needed for this balance is incredible! And this fine-tuning begins with the very fundamental forces and physical constants of the universe. For instance, …”

Honorable mention: The “Informal Logic 101″ series, which has a page of its own linked at the top of this one (and every other page).

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To Impeach or Not to Impeach, part 4

“Congress must step up and hold him accountable. Impeachment would also pose a credible threat to any future president by sending a clear message that the American people simply will not stand for having a king. If we do nothing, that threat is lost.”  — CapitalismInstitute.org

King ObamaThe legal case for impeachment against President Obama is much stronger — both in terms of number of offenses and the severity of many of them — than it was against either President Johnson or President Clinton. It is even stronger than it was against President Nixon, who resigned before impeachment proceedings could begin, and most felt that he would surely be convicted. (And, as has been pointed out by others, no one died as a result of Nixon’s impeachable actions, unlike the consequences of some of Obama’s offensive acts.) Unfortunately, the decision of whether or not to impeach cannot be made simply on the existence of a legal case for it, even a strong one. That is, it isn’t merely about justice. There are practical considerations, as well. This is what I brought up in the second question from Part 1:

2) Assuming there is a [legal] case, from a pragmatic sense, would it be a good idea (i.e., in the country’s best interest) to proceed with impeachment, in regards to costs, competing issues & responsibilities of the parties that would be involved, and the consequences of potentially removing Obama from office?

I believe the answer to this one is also “Yes.” I understand the concerns some people would have (or, at least, claim to have) about impeachment proceedings costing a lot of Congress’s time and taxpayer money. But, contrary to some issues that our leaders in Washington deal with, the matter of the rampant lawlessness that characterizes the Obama administration is incredibly serious and, I believe, well worth the effort. Plus, a lot of the investigation has already been and is being done on those issues that are likely to be included in articles of impeachment. (As I understand it, articles have already been submitted by one or more Representatives to the House Judiciary Committee, but they have not been formally accepted and could probably be replaced.) I also have no doubt that Congress could handle the additional item on their plate, so to speak. Other Congresses have managed. Besides, maybe it will force them to better prioritize their corporate schedule and work agenda.

What might some of those consequences be for giving Obama the boot? The big one that people tend to bring up, usually with a chuckle, is something along the lines of, “Do we really want a ‘President Joe Biden’?” They do have a point, especially with his recurring, big-mouthed gaffes. (See this past week, for example.) But, I’m not sure Biden would be quite as bad as we think. I’m not saying he would be great, but I don’t think he would be any worse than Obama. Biden is a cagey, political animal, who has survived in Washington for over four decades. Plus, he is not nearly the radical ideologue that Obama is. I think he would rule as much more of a centrist, like Bill Clinton. Hopefully, once he had the weight of the Oval Office on his shoulders, he would be a bit more circumspect and cautious about his public utterances, too. (Still, his “handlers” better be on their toes!) From a strategic standpoint, Biden would also be wise to do his best to distance himself from Obama, including avoiding doing the sorts of things that got his then-predecessor in so much trouble — especially if he has any plans of running for President in 2016 or 2020.

“The need for impeachment has little to do with Obama (other than he has, up to now, been the worst offender). It is all about protecting what remains of the Rule of Law and The Constitution. Not impeaching Obama just provides a green light for future presidents to further corrupt the laws of the country and the office of the presidency…. A line in the sand must be drawn that says to successors where they dare not go.”  — “Monty Pelerin”, blogger at economicnoise.com

The main, positive outcome of kicking Obama out of office — other than the obvious — is that “We the People” and the legislative branch will have a) finally put a stop to Obama’s lawless, imperialistic reign, and b) we will have done so constitutionally, without violence or military coup. We will have drawn that line in the sand, as the above quote put it. It never should have gotten this far, but at least we will have reminded this generation and those to come that America ultimately will not countenance the sort of tyranny that Obama has been exercising, nor the lies and deception that have accompanied it. We must retain the Rule of Law.

This actually leads into the 3rd question I posed in Part 1:

3) Assuming there is a [legal] case, but consensus opinion beforehand — i.e., among the expert legal minds, political scientists and strategists — is that Obama nevertheless might not be found guilty and removed from office, would the exercise of initiating impeachment proceedings against the President still be worth it on principle, for morale, and for history’s sake?

I absolutely believe that it is valuable to construct and discuss the legal case for impeachment, even if proceedings are never carried out. It is worthwhile, because it highlights the lawlessness of the Obama administration, raising the public consciousness about the damage that it has done and continues to perpetrate on this nation. This is precisely why McCarthy wrote Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

“[The purpose] is to persuade the public that when a president betrays his basic constitutional obligations, when the laws are not executed faithfully, all of us are threatened.”

Faithless Execution coverHowever, the question is really about whether or not Congress should still go through the motions, if/when the odds are not strongly in favor of conviction. In the weeks that I have been researching this series and mulling it all over, I have been somewhat ambivalent on this one. But, when it comes down to it, I’m going to have to say “No.” Simply moving forward with impeachment “on principle”, especially if conviction is deemed nigh-impossible, would seem to be at best a pointless distraction and at worst a counterproductive mess that could backfire in our faces. That is, an acquittal might very well be interpreted (however inaccurately) as congressional approval of Obama’s actions. This would be exactly the wrong message to send to the American public, the Obama administration, or the international community.

Question #4

“Republicans should drop the talk of impeachment. For the GOP would gain nothing and risk everything if the people began to take seriously their threats to do to Barack Obama what Newt Gingrich’s House did to Bill Clinton…. Any Republican attempt at impeachment would go up against a stacked deck. And the GOP would be throwing away a winning hand for a losing one.”  — Pat Buchanan, conservative commentator and columnist at WND

So, it comes down to this final question, which is what everyone wants to know:

4) Should Congress impeach President Obama?

Several reasons have been given — by those on the political right, as well as others presumably attempting to be as objective as possible — for why impeaching Obama would be a bad idea for the GOP and conservatives, even if conviction was likely. Heck, some (like Buchanan above) don’t think we should even be talking about it. These are the reasons I came across:

o  It would be seen as racist

o  It would send the wrong message to our children

o  It would rile up the Dems and could motivate their base to come out and vote

o  It would turn off some of the independents who are right now leaning our way

o  There are much more important things for Congress and the nation to be concerned about

o  Nothing to truly gain from it

o  There are better ways to rein Obama in

o  Failure would be “incredibly damaging and embarrassing to the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

Here are my brief responses: The racism charge is constant and a given, regardless of what we do or don’t do. The “message to our children” concern works both ways. The riling up of the Democrats has already happened, and they are indeed using the idea of possible impeachment in fundraising efforts — and quite successfully. The one about offending right-leaning Independents might be true… not sure. (Are the numbers significant enough to be a concern?) I have already addressed the one about Congress. I’m not so sure there would truly be “nothing” to gain even from a doomed-to-failure attempt, since we would at least have made a valiant effort in standing up for our principles and against tyranny. (Obviously, a conviction would be much more beneficial.) There surely are other ways to rein Obama in, or at least slow him down (e.g., refusing to support his policies with funding; lawsuits; legislation), though “better” is a judgement call. I’ll say more about that later.

The last one is the most worrisome on the list, which I discussed when answering Question #3. As one Congressman said, “What message do we send to America if we impeach Obama and he gets away with what he’s impeached for and he is found innocent? What then do we say is OK?” It could be seen as a major blow against small government, separation of powers with checks and balances, Rule of Law (beginning with the U.S. Constitution), and everything else that Obama has attacked. But, we still haven’t addressed the biggest reason not to impeach, which is that we’ll never get a conviction. Not now. If we tried, it would indeed be doomed to failure.

Don’t get me wrong. As you know by now, I really want to see Obama brought to account for everything he has done to this nation and its people, beginning (but not ending) with formal impeachment and removal from office. But, I reluctantly must agree with Sen. McCain, Andrew McCarthy, et al., that to attempt to do so now would be a counterproductive waste of time. In other words (and with apologies to George H.W. Bush), “Wouldn’t be prudent. Not at this juncture.”

But, you say, how can that be? Look at all of the scandals and other offenses you listed out in Part 2 and the case you just made for impeachment in Part 3! Even some liberal law professors and mainstream journalists are admitting Obama’s failures and abuses! Plus, his popularity poll numbers are plummeting, and many Democrats up for (re-)election in November are distancing themselves from him. So, why not move forward to impeach? While all of that is true, we have yet to address the two biggest (and closely related) impediments to a successful impeachment: 1) Senate votes and 2) the will of the American People.

“[I]f the Republican Party doesn’t have the gonads, and if the American people are not desirous of it, then it’s just whistling into the wind.”  — Rush Limbaugh, radio show host & political commentator

House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY), along with the rest of establishment Republicans in Congress, have been excoriated in the conservative press and social media for not doing “the right thing”, i.e., fulfilling their oaths to protect the Constitution (including their own legislative power) by initiating impeachment proceedings against the President. As I have mentioned, articles of impeachment have been submitted, but Boehner refuses to even consider them. To be fair, the Republicans can’t move toward impeachment. Not on their own.

“It’s not going to happen. Republicans are scared that an impeachment would actually help the President. They wouldn’t actually be able to get a conviction because the Democrats control the Senate, and so they worry that the entire exercise would look political and hurt their chances in the next couple of elections.”  — Onan Coca, columnist

U.S. Congress in session

U.S. Congress in session

We might assume that the GOP-led House would have a majority in favor of impeachment, which would push the articles through the Judiciary Committee and likely the full House vote. But, there really needs to be more bipartisan support — ideally, even in the House — else any impeachment attempt will look to many on the political left and center like a purely partisan (and desperate) witch-hunt or stunt by Republicans. Of course, it is even more necessary in the Senate, because without significant support from the Democrat side of the aisle, the Senate will never convict. The GOP just don’t have the votes.

Let’s look at the numbers….

Keep in mind, each charge in the impeachment articles would be voted on separately. It only takes a two-thirds majority of the Senate (i.e., 67) on one of them to secure a conviction. The difficulty would be getting that majority vote from a Senate composed of 54 Democrats and 1 Left-leaning Independent (leaving 45 Republicans).

While I didn’t have time to delve into it much, the sense I get is that Republicans are expected to “win back” the Senate this November. That’s great! But, it is extremely doubtful that they will end up with the 67 needed to virtually guarantee an impeachment conviction. According to one estimate I read (by FiveThirtyEight.com), the GOP is estimated to finish with “54 or more Senate seats”. On the other hand, CBS News’ Battleground Tracker model recently predicted “a 51-49 GOP majority if the election were held today”. Regardless, even if a “Republican wave” comes closer to FiveThirtyEight’s estimate, a two-thirds GOP Senate majority does not seem probable for this cycle.

Even in the above speculation, I am assuming for sake of argument that Republican Senators would all go ahead and vote for conviction at that point, but there would be no guarantee. If one or two did not, then maybe… just maybe Dennis Kucinich and some other brave Democrat soul(s) would stand in the gap. Unfortunately, as it stands now, political fallout against any Democrats who vote in favor of conviction would be considered too high a price. Some of them may be whining and complaining and acting all indignant about this or that abuse by the Obama administration. But, it is still assumed that most, if not all, would still vote to acquit — if not to save their own skins, then for reasons of party solidarity and/or keeping the “progressive” momentum, even with a falling Obamessiah.

This brings us to that second major impediment I mentioned….

“[R]eal impeachment requires the public will to remove the president from office. You can have a thousand impeachable offenses, but without that political consensus, impeachment is not an appropriate remedy.”  — Andrew C. McCarthy, attorney and author

Proponents and opponents alike agree that impeaching a president takes “political will”. (McCarthy stresses this point a lot in his book!) What do they mean by that? It’s a rather abstract concept, but my sense of it is twofold. First, it can mean the willingness of the citizenry to support a decision/action made by their representatives in political office. If they perceive it as having negative ramifications for themselves and/or their community/nation, whether serious or merely inconvenient, the people’s “political will” — some refer to this as the “public will” — will not be very high or strong. Second, “political will” may refer to a willingness by officeholders to take risks (or even to commit political suicide) to support unpopular measures, because they are convinced the result will be mostly positive and/or necessary  (e.g., “it’s the right thing to do”). Obviously, if the former is strong, then there is less risk involved in the latter.

As we have already seen, the “political will” to impeach amongst politicians, particularly on the Left, is mostly absent — or, in a few cases, iffy at best. But, what about the American public?

Roughly a year ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) acknowledged that impeachment is “disruptive and harmful to the nation and it’s to be used sparingly,” as well as that it would not pass the Senate. But, she argued that it may still be necessary. She referred to the administration’s continued “thuggery” and the growing frustration and unrest among the nation’s populace possibly leading to massive levels of civil disobedience. But, that frustration level just isn’t that high, yet.

In July of this year a CNN/ORC poll revealed that only 33 percent of Americans overall (57% of Republicans, 35% of Independents, 13% of Democrats) supported impeaching Obama, while 41 percent supported a House GOP lawsuit against him. I read of another poll that had 35 percent pro-impeachment. Still, that ain’t great. As conservative political commentator Guy Benson put it, there is “no groundswell of support, or any semblance of a serious campaign, to remove the President of the United States from office.” As far as the “political will” of the people goes, it’s just not there, either. The vocal few aren’t enough.

Conclusion

“If [elected representatives] act, or refuse to act, based solely on whether by doing so they advance their personal or factional agenda, they show their contempt for the well-being of the nation as a whole. They thereby prove themselves unfit for the offices (duties) they hold, whether or not they are ever called to account for their dereliction.”  — Ambassador Alan Keyes

In this series of posts, we have reviewed the who, what, where, when, why, and how of impeachment. We have listed out the various charges that various politicians, pundits, scholars, and average joes/janes have suggested President Obama be indicted with. We have determined that an excellent case can be made in favor of impeachment and answered questions regarding the wisdom and practicality of Congress preparing official articles of impeachment and initiating proceedings thereof. In the end, though, we were forced to reluctantly conclude that it would not be wise to move forward with impeachment at this time.

So,… what can be done?

School_House_Rock_Bill_Blue_Shirt_POPThe Framers armed Congress with two weapons they could use in response to presidential abuse of power: the power of the purse and, as a last resort, the power of impeachment. If Congress cannot or will not use the latter, then they damn well better do a better job using the former to defund and undermine the president’s agenda! So far, they have had rather limited success with that, and one has to wonder if the GOP establishment’s heart just isn’t in it. In addition to defunding, Congress can and should pass legislation like Rep. Tom Rice’s “Stop This Overreaching Presidency” (S.T.O.P.) Resolution (H.R. 442), which directs the House to institute legal action that requires the President to comply with the law. (Not sure how effective it would be, but if he ignores it, that’s one more impeachable offense to add to the list.) They can, individually or as a body, file suit against the President, as Speaker Boehner has (with the House’s approval, 225-201) over Obamacare. I don’t know if such lawsuits are the wisest course right now, but I certainly hope Obama gets hit with them as soon as he is out of office

Next, I have to agree with Sen. McCain. (See quote at top of Part 3.) We need to focus on winning elections and regaining control of the Senate. Even with only 51 Republican seats, it would make the GOP the “majority party”. That means that Harry Reid would no longer be in charge and would have a lot less power & influence to squelch conservative bills, support/push Obama’s agenda, and stay silent (or give the nod) when Obama usurped congressional authority. In fact, it would turn the tables, so that the GOP is much more effective in stonewalling Obama’s harmful, “progressive” agenda and (hopefully) preventing him from getting away with more unconstitutional power grabs. Furthermore, it would also allow them to pass good legislation, including the 350+ bipartisan bills that have already passed the House –- legislation for American energy independence, fostering job growth, strengthening our national security, and many other priorities — but have languished on Harry Reid’s desk.

Finally, there needs to be a concerted effort to educate the American people (but particularly certain groups that usually vote Democrat by default), not only about the scandals and other offenses but about why no administration should be allowed to get away with this stuff and why it is bad — dangerous, even — for everyone. Sadly, as we have already seen, the anger and disillusionment and disgust with Obama is not yet strong enough among the American population as a whole. But, once more people of all persuasions are better informed, hopefully that groundswell can gain some momentum. An organized, grass-roots campaign would let all three branches of government know that “We the people” are sufficiently incensed to get off our collective butt and make it known that, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take this anymore!” In other words, we need to build the public’s “political will” to, at the very least, hold Obama accountable and remove him from office. Once there is a serious campaign to do so, even among Democrats, then Congress should be able to revisit the feasibility of impeachment with much less fear of political reprisal.

Part of this education effort involves reading and sharing books and articles (and the information & ideas within) by people like Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Klein, Edward Klein, Dinesh D’Souza, David Limbaugh, and others, who investigate President Obama and his administration, shining a light on the arrogant lawlessness, dangerous policies, shameful scandals, violations of the Constitution, and the overall “progressive” agenda.

If we don’t put a stop to the lies, corruption, weakening of our nation (in various ways), and generally audacious abuses of power (and soon!), we really will be living under a dictatorship (however “benevolent”). Even that probably won’t last long, given the foreign powers angling for world domination. We are already scarily vulnerable to economic (oil, trade, debt, dollar devaluation), military (conventional or nuclear), and terrorist (from bombs to biological weapons) attack. Either way, the “grand experiment” that is America will be over, and the world will suffer enormously for it.

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To Impeach or Not to Impeach, part 3

“I want Obama to go through the [impeachment] process because he has it coming…. Obama should be forced to defend his contemptible lies and actions. If for no other reason than his unbearable arrogance, the schmuck should have to pay a penalty.”  — columnist Burt Prelutsky

On the other hand,…

“[W]e should focus our attention on winning elections. We win this election and we regain control of the United States Senate, we can be far more effective than an effort to impeach the president, which has no chance of succeeding.”  — Sen. John McCain

Pres. Obama sworn in (Jan. 2009)

Pres. Obama sworn in (Jan. 2009)

As much as I agree with Prelutsky (and many others), a president (or any other high public official) cannot be impeached merely for being a contemptible, lying, arrogant schmuck. Nor can he be impeached for being timid, petty, obnoxious, stubborn, apathetic, imperious, or otherwise difficult to work with, though those and other unfortunate traits may play a part in his/her committing impeachable offenses. On the other end of the scale, a public official may commit any number of crimes (e.g., drug use, larceny, fraud, murder, rape, etc.) which in themselves are not necessarily impeachable offenses. (Criminal prosecution may be conducted later or separately, however.) Remember, impeachability hinges on whether or not the offenses constitute Treason, Bribery, or “other High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. This may be summed up as a betrayal of the political trust placed by the people in the official to uphold the law and fulfill his/her oath with integrity. In short, such offenses may fall under abuse of official power, dereliction of duty, or action outside the Constitution.

The first question I asked in Part 1 was:

1) Is there a legal, Constitutional case to be made for impeaching Obama?

I think the clear answer to that is “Yes”. Andrew C. McCarthy, Judge Andrew Napolitano, the three legal scholars I quoted in Part 2 (Fein, Fisher, & Titus), and many others agree. They may not agree on the particular strengths of various offenses or on the best approach to take (if any) regarding impeachment proceedings, but everyone seems to agree that at least 2 or 3 of the major charges clearly qualify as “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. I didn’t see any of the legal minds pushing for charges of Treason, but, I think there is evidence of “adhering to [the U.S.'s] Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort” on the part of Obama and this administration.

I haven’t read McCarthy’s book (Faithless Execution), yet. But, from what I understand and the more I think about it, the more I like McCarthy’s approach of having indictments for types or categories of behaviors (e.g., “Willful refusal to execute the laws faithfully”, “Usurpation of Congress’s legislative authority and other constitutional powers”, “Willful undermining of our constitutional rights”), each of which references several examples of offenses. This makes sense, since it helps to demonstrate patterns of offensive (and impeachable) behavior as part of Obama’s overall plan to “transform America”, and because many individual (in)actions and incidents violate multiple areas of the public trust.

However, if the House moves forward, it might be decided to only select a few individual (in)actions or incidents for inclusion in the official impeachment articles. One might think that we may as well throw everything at him and “see what sticks”. But, some have uttered concerns about the message it sends to the American public regarding any offenses for which Obama might be found innocent. In that case, we should concentrate on those offenses most likely to “stick”.

To be clear, all responsibility for the executive branch is placed by the Constitution in the president, so s/he is ultimately accountable for all activities performed by his appointees and other subordinates in the various executive agencies (e.g., IRS, ATF, NSA, DoJ) while he and they are in office. That said, I think the emphasis should be on those offenses that are most clearly the result of President Obama’s knowledge and intent and which exhibit(ed) the clearest examples of gross negligence and/or abuse, rather than on things about which he was arguably ignorant/misinformed or which can be attributed to mere incompetence — which is technically impeachable, mind you — and/or a misguided understanding of the way things are and work (e.g., re economics, labor, military strategy). This is not to say, however, that I am excusing him for being ignorant on relevant subjects, intel, or for ignoring advice and evidence (e.g., historical, observational, scientific) that his “progressive” policies and methods are detrimental to the well-being of the nation.

Furthermore, for reasons that should be apparent but which I’ll get into later, it is important to have as much bipartisan support as possible.

“This is not about borders or lawsuits. It’s about one man, one President who believes he is above the law. Any public official, including the President, who’s told by the highest court in the land to cease and desist and blatantly says no, I’ll do what I want, should never be sued. He should be immediately impeached regardless of Party or philosophy.”  — columnist Bill Tatro

At a minimum, I would begin with the two offenses rated “Severe (impeachable high crime)” by the WND analysis: “Illegally conducting war against Libya” and “Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’.” Then I would add the audacious and ill-advised “Bergdahl prisoner exchange”. These offenses involve clear violations of congressional authority and of U.S. citizens’ rights and the irresponsible and unnecessary placement of citizens in increased danger. Not only do most legal scholars and pundits agree that these three are impeachable, but they also seem to be the ones that Democrats — including Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and the powerful and influential Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — are most upset about for one reason or another.

checklist cartoonNext, although the WND analysis only ranked it “Elevated (dubious action)”, I would include “Illegal-alien amnesty by executive order”, because the damage is and will be so far-reaching, plus it is such a hot topic on everyone’s mind. Perhaps combining it with other immigration-centric offenses (e.g., Refusing to enforce immigration laws, Release of illegal alien criminals from prison) would make it strong enough for serious consideration. I would also like to see a solid and comprehensive case made that connects the dots between all of Obama’s connections with and deference to Muslim groups and rulers, funding of Islamic radicals (i.e., Hamas), inclusion of Muslim Brotherhood activists in his administration, continuing to weaken our military in the face of growing (Islamist and Communist) threats, etc., so that a charge of Treason can be included in the articles.

I am tempted to include a few more. For example, “Cap & Trade” (for using the EPA to regulate gases without congressional approval) and “Obamacare” (for ‘taxation without representation’ and betraying the people’s trust via consumer fraud), since they are also so incredibly far-reaching in the damage they are doing and will do (though the former seems less of an issue at the moment). But, I’m not sure that impeachment proceedings are the best place to address them. Similarly, I would like to add the “IRS Scandal”, which is clearly an abuse of power, but unless the current congressional investigation can firmly establish that this was done in response to a presidential directive, I am not convinced that it’s impeachable. Finally, “Fast & Furious” (the DoJ’s refusal to share information with Congress = obstruction) is another high-profile scandal, but I have a feeling we would be better off leaving this one out of presidential impeachment articles. (Otoh, if the Attorney General hadn’t just announced his resignation, I’d say F&F would be at the top of the list for impeaching him. It might still be used in a lawsuit against Holder.)

There you have it re the legal case for impeachment. I will conclude this series with Part 4 later this week. Hang in there….

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Suicide of a Nation

cover to "America" by D'SouzaIt happened again. I realized early this week that I was not going to be able to finish “To Impeach or Not to Impeach” in time to publish on Sunday as planned. This time, I am travelling out of state to spend several days with my brother and his family. (I think that’s a pretty good excuse.) Of course, that meant coming up with something to fill in that was more than just empty “filler”. Also, it had to be something I could get mostly done before leaving, then complete while in Baltimore this weekend. As it happens, this week I started reading Dinesh D’Souza’s controversial new book, America: Imagine a World without Her. Keeping my eye open for a memorable passage to cite, I came up with the following from the first chapter. It helps lay the foundation for his arguments in the rest of the book.

“The survival instinct of nations is the collective survival instinct of the people in those nations. Why, then, would a nation attempt to destroy itself or commit suicide? Nations sometimes are conquered by other nations, or they collapse from within, but they never seek self-destruction. Yet Abraham Lincoln observed, a century and a half ago, that if America were ever to fall, it would not be by external means or even by internal collapse. Rather, it would be by the actions of Americans themselves. In his Lyceum Address, Lincoln said:

Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the Ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth, our own excepted, in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Surely Lincoln is not suggesting that America — or Americans — might voluntarily seek destruction. Undoubtedly Lincoln believed that such an outcome would be the unfreseen consequence of calamitous misjudgment and folly. Yet I intend to show in this book that the American era is ending in part because a powerful group of Americans wants it to end. The American dream is shrinking because some of our leaders want it to shrink. Decline, in other words, has become a policy objective. And if this decline continues at the current pace, America as we know it will cease to exist. In effect, we will have committed national suicide.

America’s suicide, it turns out, is the result of a plan. The plan is not simply one of destruction but also one of reconstruction — it seeks the rebuilding of a different type of country, what President Obama terms “the work of remaking America.” While Obama acknowledges the existence of the plan, he is not responsible for the plan; it would be more accurate to say that it is responsible for him. The plan preceded Obama, and it will outlast him. Obama is simply part of a fifty-year scheme for the undoing and remaking of America, and when he is gone there are others who are ready to continue the job. What makes the plan especially chilling is that most Americans are simply unaware of what’s going on. Their ignorance, as we shall see, is part of the plan.”

I think it is a “conspiracy” of sorts, in that various individuals no doubt have made secret plans together to push this “progressive”, transformative agenda over the years. But, I am skeptical about there being an overall, master plan being orchestrated by some Illuminati-like cabal. Still, when like-minded people of influence find each other and determine that they can help a common agenda along with key, strategic actions (e.g., infiltrating and, eventually, dominating academia), they can do a lot of damage. And, as he states above, the majority of the populace has no clue they are being manipulated. I am curious to see what else D’Souza has to say along these lines, and I look forward to the rest of the book. You might want to check it out, too!

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There Should Be No U.S. Citizens Fighting as Jihadists

The title above makes what seems like an obvious statement. Yet, they exist, and they travel using U.S. passports. A recent email from Michele Bachmann reminded me,

Tsarnaev bothers diptych

Tsarnaev brothers, naturalized U.S. citizens, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013

“Currently, Americans fighting with terrorists abroad are allowed free access to re-enter the United States, as some already have! They are likely put on a terror watch list and have to go through SOME screening, but that’s it! …

The bill I introduced states that if someone has joined with a radical Islamic terrorist Jihadist state, then they will lose their passport, begin the process of losing their United States citizenship, and will not be allowed to re-enter the United States.

…[W]e have to do this to protect ourselves. This is common sense. We cannot allow these American Islamic terrorist fighters to come back into our country and have the opportunity of creating a terrorist attack right here.”

Absolutely! This should be a bipartisan no-brainer! (Yes, yes, there are a myriad of jokes to be made about Congress there.) In fact, IMHO, if there is reasonable proof that any American (other than an undercover intelligence operative, of course) is training/fighting, or has done so, with Muslim extremists from ISIS or any other group, not only their passport but their U.S. citizenship should be revoked ASAP!

By adopting that twisted worldview — which is antithetical to the principles laid out and implied in America’s founding documents — and adopting its brutal practices, any such person has, I believe, implicitly committed treason. America was founded on a set of ideas and ideals, which they have rejected by becoming Islamic jihadists. They are traitors to America and all it represents, as they themselves often state so clearly. As such, they no longer deserve the protections and other benefits that U.S. citizens enjoy. No further trial or due process is necessary.

It’s really that simple!

Earlier this month, Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill called the “Expatriate Terrorists Act”, which would revoke U.S. citizenship from anyone fighting for or supporting ISIS. Because he tried to fast-track it for a vote, it only needed one objection to stop it. Freshman Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) was that objection, explaining, “legislation that grants the government the ability to strip citizenship from Americans is a serious matter raising significant constitutional issues.” (She also cited letters of objection from the Constitution Project and the ACLU.) Normally, I would agree. And, I’m pretty sure most of my Libertarian and Constitutionalist friends would, too. But, as indicated by my reasoning above, I stand with Cruz when he said,

“ISIS is a study in oppression and brutality. We should take common-sense steps to make fighting for ISIS a formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship.”

The fight for this isn’t over. If you agree with me and Sen. Cruz, or at least with what Bachmann’s bill proposes, please sign the petition here: “Lose Your United States Passport”

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