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Friday, October 30, 2009

Nullification Redux: Resisting Progressive Tyranny

Recently, a friend and I were lamenting the steady dissolution of our Constitution. It seemed to us that the further our politicians have strayed from the spirit, meaning and intent of the Constitution, the more enervated, disunited and dispirited our nation and its people have become.

Discussing how best to reverse the decline and to restore Constitutional governance, we briefly alluded to the discredited doctrine of nullification about which neither of us knew very much at all. So, I decided to briefly revisit the subject to see what I could learn. In a nutshell, this is it. I hope it will be of some interest to you.

The Constitution’s 10th Amendment unambiguously provides that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Over the years, the federal government’s loose and expansive interpretation of the Constitution has steadily led to federal encroachment on state powers and individual rights at a pace and breadth not clearly foreseen by the Founders, leaving this country and its people more divided and polarized than since immediately prior to the "Civil War".

Awakened to Obama's threat of "fundamentally transforming America", and much to the consternation of the Progressives currently dominating the national political scene, many states and many grassroots Americans are now vigorously pushing back and asserting their Constitutional rights of sovereignty and individual liberty. We can only hope it's not too late.

Since Obama's election, Congress has unleashed a transformational legislative blitzkrieg surpassing that of the New Deal which boldly challenges both state sovereignty and individual freedoms as never before. The resulting uneasiness in the country manifestly belies the hollowness of Obama’s hope-and-change and no-blue-or-red-states-but-American sloganeering. To wit, with Obama’s election and the Progressive takeover in DC, not only have gun sales skyrocketed, but, quite unexpectedly, state nullification laws intended to restrain further federal usurpations have ballooned. Clearly, the folks and the states wherein they reside are justifiably wary.

Since 1865 and until now, nullification was viewed as a moribund curiosity which, while having often impacted our country in the past, had essentially become an eccentricity, a nullity in the post-Civil War era. But, as I soon discovered, nullification has returned with a vengeance.

In the Fourth Edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, nullification, aka interposition, is defined as “the doctrine that a state, in the exercise of its sovereignty, may reject a mandate of the federal government deemed to be unconstitutional or to exceed the powers delegated to the federal government. The doctrine denies constitutional obligations of states to respect Supreme Court decisions with which they do not agree.” Indeed, the American Revolution, grounded in Magna Carta principles, was a successful act of nullification coupled with forcible resistance. On the other hand, the American Civil War, aka “War of Northern Aggression” or “Lincoln’s War”, was a notable and costly failure for the nullification doctrine.

Essentially, the nullification doctrine is predicated on the theory that sovereign states comprise the union, and as architects of the compact which formed that union, hold final authority regarding the limits of federal power. Conversely, the “national sovereignty”, aka “nationalist”, theory argues that the Supremacy Clause in Article VI of the Constitution absolutely guarantees federal government supremacy over the states in every way.

However, the “compact” theory persuasively asserts that the Supremacy Clause expressly states that the Constitution “and all laws made pursuant to it” are supreme--NOT the federal government or any laws it may legislate. Further and very importantly, “compact” adherents argue that federal powers are not inherent, but, as demonstrated by Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, were delegated by the states to the federal government at the union's inception. In effect, the compact between the states and the federal government provides that the states surrender specific powers to the federal government but maintain those powers not specifically delegated. (In Federalists 32 & 33, Alexander Hamilton espoused the compact theory, as did Thomas Jefferson. On the other hand, I discovered that James Madison, though clearly wedded to the compact theory in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolution of 1798, seems to have, over time, become conflicted and often inexplicably contradictory on this point.)

In any event, once again the “compact theory” is being advanced. Intended to publicly challenge federal usurpation of state sovereignty, this year many state legislatures have passed state sovereignty resolutions. These “shots across the bow”, so to speak, do not have the force of law, but do serve notice to the federal government to “cease and desist any and all activities” outside the scope of its Article 1, Section 8 delegated powers. In effect, these resolutions put the feds on notice that federal encroachment, aka “acts of usurpation” as expressed in Amendments 9 and 10, will not be routinely submitted to as in the past.

Already this year, Tenth Amendment Resolutions have been passed and signed by the Governors in Alaska and Tennessee, and have passed one or both legislative chambers in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, N. Carolina, N. Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, S. Carolina, S. Dakota, and Virginia. So, it's not just a southern thing, not by a long shot.

In the following states, at least one legislative chamber has, so far, passed legislation asserting that federal regulation of firearms produced, sold and used within the state is beyond the “commerce clause” authority of Congress: Alaska, Montana, and Tennessee. In several other states, similar legislation has been introduced. (Note: to avoid a needless clash, Montana has also opted to test its sovereignty in this regard by submitting its jurisdictional contention to judicial review.) If one can achieve one's goals peacefully, then why not?

Asserting that the imposition of national health care plans is unconstitutional, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, N. Dakota, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, W. Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida have introduced legislation to effectively nullify any such federal plan.

Of special interest too is that while the Montana State House also unanimously condemned the REAL ID Act as an improper use of federal legislative power, what was particularly significant is that the bill condemning the Act stipulated that “the legislature of the state of Montana hereby nullifies the REAL ID Act of 2005, as it would apply in this state,” thus underscoring the seriousness of its resistance.

To blunt the takeover of state sovereignty, these particular states are pushing back hard, openly and seriously. The weighty question is whether or not this sudden and widespread state resistance can persuade the feds to back off, or whether this clash over the inviolability of the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine might eventually lead to conflict.

So, though some of us may have thought that Appomattox settled the question of nullification, it is now abundantly clear that it did not. In fact, the principle of nullification, aka “interposition”, is deeply entrenched in the history of the United States.

In 1793, Georgia successfully nullified the Supreme Court’s ruling in Chisholm v Georgia that an individual could sue a state in federal court without the State’s permission. Most states agreed and the 11th Amendment was soon passed which prohibited such suits. This demonstrated the fact that even if both houses of Congress refused to initiate an amendment process that two-thirds of the states could peacefully compel Congress to call a Constitutional Convention to remedy federal breaches of the Constitution.

Some may recall that in 1798 the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky, in protest of the Alien and Sedition Acts, resolved that if the federal government presumed to possess the sole authority to determine the extent of its powers, that its power would eventually be unbridled and could, therefore, lead to tyranny. In effect, the Virginia and Kentucky Resolution (co-authored by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson) opined that states not only possessed the right, but were “duty bound” to nullify unconstitutional federal laws.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”

Hard hit by the Embargo of 1807-1809, and in opposition to the finding in United States v The William in 1808 which ruled the embargo constitutional, the Massachusetts assembly effectively overruled that court by asserting that any state could refuse “assistance, aid or cooperation” when any federal act is unconstitutional. The Connecticut assembly went further by directing that all state officials actively withhold “any official aid or co-operation in the execution of the act.” The embargo quickly unraveled.

The Connecticut General Assembly declared: “Resolved, that to preserve the Union, and support the Constitution of the United States, it becomes the duty of the…states, in such a crisis…vigilantly to watch over, and vigorously to maintain, the powers not delegated to the United States, but reserved to the States respectively, or to the people; and that a due regard to this duty, will not permit this Assembly to assist, or concur in giving effect to the aforesaid unconstitutional act, passed, to enforce the embargo.” In effect, the Assembly was asserting a State’s right to “interpose” their protection between the federal government and the rights and liberties of the people.

In 1812, during America’s war with England, the federal government called up the state militias “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel invasions.” Massachusetts, and then Connecticut, nullified the call-up on the grounds that “as this power is not [specifically] delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, it is reserved to the states, respectively; and from the nature of the power, it must be exercised by those with whom the states have respectively entrusted the chief command of the militia, [that being the Governors of those respective states].” Convinced that the federal government’s real ambition was to annex Canada and not merely to defend the union, the Assemblies asserted that unless those states were threatened “by an actual invasion of any portion of [their] territory” that the Commander-in-Chief had no right to call upon the state militias to carry out offensive wars.”

In 1813, a more debilitating embargo was imposed. Flooded with grievances, eventually the Massachusetts General Court asserted that “a power to regulate commerce is abused when employed to destroy it.” The assertion went on to reject the notion that “the free, sovereign and independent State of Massachusetts [should be] reduced to a mere municipal corporation, without power to protect its people, and to defend them from oppression, from whatever quarter it comes.” Again the state affirmed its Constitutional right to “interpose” itself between the oppressor and the people.

Then there was the famous Nullification Crisis of 1832 when S. Carolina undertook to nullify a federal tariff law and a subsequent bill authorizing the use of force against a state. Upshot: a compromise tariff was adopted to avert war. Thus, nullification did have the intended effect.

In 1850, several morally enraged northern states resisted federal attempts to enforce the capture and return of runaway slaves. And although the Constitution at the time did contain a clause to justify enforcement, these states argued that since the Constitution did not specify a clearly defined enforcement mechanism that their compliance would be withheld in those states.

Though there are several other examples of successful nullification initiatives, the point is that the right to nullify and even peacefully secede appear to be valid constitutional remedies to overweening or intrusive federal authority. And, of course, short of nullification, some states have simply ignored federal mandates, e.g. seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws, Daylight Savings Time (AZ and Hawaii), & participation in No Child Left Behind (Utah).

Worth noting too are the following points which I dredged up: Of the original 13 states, Virginia, Rhode Island and New York conditioned their ratification of the Constitution on the understanding that they explicitly retained the right to secede and the Constitutional Convention never challenged that right. Also, following the Civil War, and only under duress, the state Constitutions of six of the former Confederate states expressly prohibited their right to secede, though one should bear in mind that there is nothing to prevent those states from amending their constitutions and incorporating secession rights. Worthy of note too is the fact that the Constitution does not expressly forbid a state from leaving the union. Thus, it would seem that, short of open rebellion, nullification (interposition) and peaceful secession still appear to be defensible ways of ensuring that federal power, both congressional and judicial, cannot supersede state sovereignty, the guaranteed rights of the people or the sanctity of the Constitution itself.

The Founders clearly understood and espoused the belief that political leaders are best held accountable to the people when government is local; that decentralization leads to a healthier level of state competition and policy experimentation, thus limiting the scope of damages which can accrue when central planning and experimentation is uniformly imposed throughout the country, the rationale being that it is better that a policy experiment fail in one state than in the entire union--the "laboratory of experimentation" concept.

While some today believe that only the serious threat of secession can effectively roll back the suffocating federal usurpation which has already taken place, those state legislatures named above are hoping that a serious “shot across the bow” will check federal power and avert more serious confrontation. Still others have advanced the idea that the nation has become too large to effectively accommodate the Constitutional plan of governance envisioned by the Founders and that, therefore, the nation needs to peacefully break up into smaller administrative units of states, each administrative region acting as an integral part of a confederated republic where the people-to-representative ratio in each region would be more manageable and credible.

Of special concern to many is the increasing power of the Supreme Court to not only re-interpret the Constitution, but to render what many view as unconstitutional and politicized decisions. So how do the states and people restrain judicial overreaching as well? Robert Hawes in his “Nullification Revisited” explained that while the decisions of Chief Justice John Marshall served to implant the heretofore unshakeable notion that the Supreme Court is and ought to be the final arbiter in all Constitutional matters, Alexander Hamilton remarked in Federalist 81 that the Constitution does not empower “the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution, or give them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every state.” He concluded by stating that “the Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution.” In effect, Hamilton envisioned the tyranny of a national judicial authority defining its own interpretive powers and “giving it the ability to re-invent itself and evolve beyond its authorized scope.” And for me and many other Americans, the courts have, indeed, become dangerously politicized and, therefore, unreliable stewards of the Constitution. Thus, “compact” adherents would suggest that nullification, secession or a Constitutional Convention are the only legal means of protecting the Constitution and all the rights which flow from it.

As the Tenth Amendment Center noted in a “talking points” post, “We agree with historian Kevin Gutzman, who has said that those who would give us a ‘living Constitution’ are actually giving us a dead one, since such a thing is completely unable to protect us against the encroachments of government power.” Truer words....

Finally, when torn between abiding by the Constitution and protecting one’s rights under the Constitution or submissively accommodating federal overreaching and politicized interpretations of the Constitution, what reasonable remedies are left for a state and the people residing therein? Moral suasion, nullification, peaceful secession, violent secession, civil disobedience, convening a Constitutional Convention to redress Constitutional grievances, or simply ignoring unconstitutional federal mandates. For me, whatever works best to preserve the Constitution and to safeguard life, liberty and property is the right solution.

Food for thought in these perilous times.

(“Ultimately, whether or not a state is allowed to secede is neither a legal question nor a constitutional question, but rather a matter of political will. How strong is the will of the people in the departing state to be free and independent of the control of the world’s only superpower? How far will the US Government be prepared to go in imposing its will on a breakaway republic? Only time will tell.” Thomas Naylor, “The Constitutionality of Secession”)
(“We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it.” Benjamin Franklin.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blue Dogs to the Rescue?

Since the so-called “Blue Dogs” will determine whether or not Obamacare will pass, I thought shedding some light on the Blue Dog Coalition would be instructive.

Descendents of the now defunct Southern Democrats, aka Boll Weevils and Dixiecrats of old, the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition membership currently numbers 52 moderate-to-conservative Democrats whose ideology pretty much mirrors that of the more conservative wing of the Democratic Party during the Truman and Kennedy years.

Fiscally conservative and relatively divergent on social issues, and often attacked from the left as Democrats-in-Name-Only, Coalition members generally tend to strongly support gun rights, warrantless wiretapping, pro-life, immigration control, business, and welfare spending limitations. However, on trade, labor unions and protectionism there are widely varying policy positions.

Principally financed by the health care industry ($1.2 million in 2009-2010 election cycle), Blue Dogs are most certainly pivotal in the current healthcare hullabaloo on the Hill. The truth is that the legislative success or failure of Obamacare probably falls squarely on Blue Dog shoulders. How each of them ultimately votes, of course, is anyone’s guess.

If it’s any comfort to the right, the Heritage Foundation quotes the official Blue Dog health care policy as follows: “The Blue Dog Coalition strongly supports health care reform that lowers costs for families and small businesses, increases choice and competition, and allows individuals to keep their doctor. We are concerned, however, about a Medicare-like public option and its ability to achieve all of the benefits put forth by its proponents. How a public option is constructed and allowed to compete are critically important to ensuring families have the ability to keep their current health coverage and continue to see the doctor of their choice.”

Clearly, the Coalition’s relatively conservative healthcare approach is considerably at odds with the New Democrats and the Progressive Coalition whose leaders are wasting little time courting, cajoling and, yes, buying them off with deficit dollars. So, for those on the right who oppose Obamacare, take heart. There may yet be hope for healthcare sanity.

FYI, only Rep. Acuri (NY-24) is a member of the Coalition.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Update: Legal Challenges to Obama Eligibility Continue

Despite lengthy Deptartment of Justice pleas to dismiss the Barnett v Obama case earlier this month, US Federal District Court Judge David Carter decided to “take the matter under submission.” Talk about blowing the wind out of Obama’s sails.

Succintly countering the Obama legal team’s argument that no court has the jurisdiction to rule on Obama’s eligibility to serve as President, heretofore the dominating argument in all other cases challenging Obama’s eligibility, and that the only way to remove Obama is impeachment or to trigger the 25th Amendment, United States Justice Foundation attorney Gary Kreeps sagely and persuasively asserted that both the impeachment statutes and the 25th Amendment assumed a “sitting President”, but that if Obama is ineligible to serve as President, then “he could not be, and never was, a sitting President”, thus rendering those removal remedies inapplicable and clearly leaving jurisdiction to the courts. Lucidity and logic don’t get much better than that, and Judge Carter is listening.

Though technical issues of jurisdiction and standing have plagued eligibility cases in the past, for the first time, a case challenging Obama's eligibility may actually have a chance of a hearing on the merits of the suit itself. And during the hearing on October 5th, Judge Carter actually advised plaintiffs that "if I rule against you on standing, I would suggest ways to address that issue in the future", to me an amazingly constructive and encouraging comment from the bench.

If DOJ’s dismissal motion is overcome, discovery pleadings would follow seeking Obama’s birth certificate, college records, passport files, adoption papers and Selective Service files, etc. all in an effort to determine his eligibility once and for all. And if, in the coming days, plaintiffs can, in fact, defeat the DOJ motion to dismiss, Judge Carter has already set a January 26, 2010 trial date.

Another case well worth monitoring is Kerchner et al v Obama & Congress which is being brilliantly pled by attorney Mario Apuzzo. Too much to get into right now, but I will try to keep you posted of significant developments.

Why the serious and lingering doubts about Obama’s constitutional eligibility? In short, per Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, to be eligible to be President/Commander-in-Chief, Obama must be a “natural born citizen” within the context, meaning and intent of the Presidential Clause--not a “native born US Citizen”, not a “US Citizen”, not a “US National”, not a "Naturalized Citizen". (Take note, Bobby Jindal.) Demonstrably, Obama was born a British subject (dual citizenship), and, demonstrably, his father was not a US Citizen nor even an immigrant (Non-Immigrant Student Visa). Thus, by definition, Obama is NOT a “natural born citizen”. Pretty straightforward stuff, I'd say. But, the hot legal potato sizzles and only unencumbered and equitable judicial review can properly resolve this momentous Constititional issue for the country.

Keep your fingers crossed for a judicial breakthrough and timely adjudication.

Progressives, aka Democratic Socialists: the Enemy Within

Ever wonder just who’s behind the curtains pulling the levers of power in D.C.? Me too. So, I did a little checking and this, in a nutshell, is what I’ve come up with.

Too often we differentiate our so-called representatives as either Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. But, that clearly misses the mark entirely. Afterall, there are liberal Republicans (RINOs) and conservative Democrats (Blue Dogs) proposing and voting for or against legislation affecting our lives. Then there are the self-described “moderates” on both sides of the aisle who represent…well...themselves and their political careers, not unlike the majority of their colleagues in congress as well.

But, political party labels aside, who are really the movers and shakers among them who effectively dominate the legislative agenda and, in turn, “we the people”?

The Progressives! To my way of thinking, Democrats in name only (DINOs), a party unto themselves and their own uniquely alien ideological agenda, are a power unto themselves.

Founded in 1991 by Reps Dellums (D-CA), Lane (D-IL), DeFazio (D-OR), Waters (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT, the latter now a Senator and the only openly Socialist serving in Congress), and publicly feigning Democratic Party allegiance, the 82 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, aka DINOs, at one time openly espoused Socialism and publicly advocated the agenda of the Democratic Socialists of America.

No longer affirming their affiliation with or loyalty to the DSA, the caucus roster was scrubbed from the DSA website circa 2000. In their “Elections Statement 2000”, the DSA website noted that “DSA recognizes that some insurgent politicians representing labor, environmentalists, gays and lesbians, and communities of color may choose to run under Democratic auspices…” Love the term “insurgent”. It’s so…counter-revolutionary. So… frappe. And, hey, why expose your true ideology to public scrutiny, huh?

Unquestionably, the once venerable Democratic Party, of which I was once a proud member, has demonstrably moved very far left. For all practical purposes, its mainstream is now dominated by those whom the Dems themselves had once derisively labeled “fringe” and “extreme”.

The Progressive Caucus is comprised of well-positioned power brokers in DC whose essentially uncontested rule continues to influence the course of our republic. In shameless pursuit of socialist/collectivist goals, their legislative agenda is relentlessly aimed at effectively transforming the meaning and relevance of the Constitution itself. In short, folks, the Progressive Caucus is a clear and present danger to all Americans of every political stripe who value the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

In the Caucus statement of purpose, check for yourself some of the code words which reveal their real political ideology and purpose:

“The Progressive Caucus is organized around the principles of social and economic justice...which represent the interests of all people, not just the wealthy and powerful.

…Our people-based agenda extends from job creation to job training, to economic conversion, to single payer healthcare reform, to environmental reform and to women’s rights.

Now that the cold war is over, this nation’s budget and overall priorities must reflect that reality. We support further cuts in outdated and unnecessary military spending, a more progressive tax system in which wealthy taxpayers and corporations contribute their fair share, and a substantial increase in social programs for low and middle-income American families."

To accomplish their collectivist goals, their legislative initiatives are invariably aimed at media control (to achieve “fairness”, of course); controlled education (to shape a collective viewpoint); the watering down of free speech (to eliminate a free flow of opinions and to shut down debate); disarmament (to eliminate the possibility of armed revolt); legalization of same-sex marriage; living wage laws; increasing welfare spending (to buy votes and quell political resistance); and global governance. And this is but a smattering of the insanely sophomoric, elitist and dangerous ambitions of the Caucus and of both their minions and unwitting enablers on both sides of the aisle.

In 2005, the Caucus drafted its “Progressive Promise” document (I call it their “manifesto”) advocating, among other things, socialized medicine, radical environmentalism, redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, reductions in the government’s intelligence gathering capabilities, debt relief for poor countries, and, of course, the precipitous withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The rationale for pursuing these socialist aims? “To re-build US alliances, restore international respect for American power and influence, and to reaffirm our nation’s constructive engagement in the United Nations and other multilateral organizations.” Sound eerily like Obama’s globalist and socialist pitch, huh? You betcha’ it does.

Just so you know who the enemy within really is, as of 10/11/2009, the following members of Congress were declared members of the congressional Progressive Caucus. “Former member” Nancy Pelosi is not a declared member. Also not included are Sen. Brown (D-FL), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who, by virtue of their now being Senators, are no longer members of the House Progressive Caucus:

Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Bob Brady (D-PA) Chairman, House Administration Committee
Michael Capuano (D-MA)
Andre Carson (C-IN)
Donna Christensen (Virgin Islands)
Judy Chu (D-CA)
Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
William “Lacy” Clay (D-MO)
Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
John Conyers (D-MI) Chairman, House Judiciary Committee
Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
Danny Davis (D-IL)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Rosa DeLauro
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Sam Farr (D-CA)
Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Bob Filner (D-CA)
Barney Frank (D-MA) Chairman, House Financial Services Committee
Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
Alan Grayson (D-FL)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) Co-Chair of Caucus
Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
John Hall (D-NY)
Phil Hare (D-IL)
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
Mazie Horono (D-HI)
Michael Honda (D-CA)
Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI)
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chairwoman, Congressional Black Caucus
John Lewis (D-GA)
Ben Lujan (D_NM)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Ed Markey (D-MA)
Eric Massa (D-NY)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
James P. McGovern (D-MA)
George Miller (D-CA) Chairman, House Education & Labor Committee
Glenn Moore (D-WI)
Jim Moran (D-VA)
Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (District of Columbia)
John Oliver (D-MA)
Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
Ed Pastor (D-AZ)
Donald Payne (D-NJ)
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (left caucus when elected
Minority Leader. Sure.)
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Jared Polis (D-CO)
Charles Rangel (D-NY) Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee
Laura Richardson (D-CA)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Bobby Rush (D-IL)
Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Jose Serrano (D-NY)
Louise Slaughter (D-NY) Chairwoman, House Rules Committee
Pete Stark (D-CA)
Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Chairman, House Homeland Security Committee
John Tierney (D-MA)
Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) Chairwoman, House Small Business Committee
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Diane Watson (D-CA)
Mel Watt (D-NC)
Henry Waxman (D-CA) Chairman, House Energy & Commerce Committee
Peter Welch (D-VT)
Robert Wexler (D-FL)
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) Co-Chair Caucus

Supporting the efforts of the Progressive Caucus are such charming liberal organizations as the Institute for Policy Studies,, ACLU, Peace Action, Americans for Democratic Action, Progressive Democrats of America, NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, National Council of La Raza, Hip Hop Caucus, etc. Don’t these names just positively ooze of patriotism and traditional American values? Just gives me goose bumps all over.

So, watch out, folks. These guys are in charge of 11 of twenty standing congressional committees. And they’re playing for keeps. Our opinions are absolutely irrelevant. And the list above doesn't even include a number of Senators, some of whom while not members, are most certainly cut from the same neo-Marxist cloth. You can name them faster than I can type them.

As Norman Thomas, Socialist Party of America, observed circa 1925, "The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation without knowing what happened."

LET'S NOT LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT. When the time comes, I urge you to volunteer to knock on doors to deny office to any Progressive politician. If they appear on the membership list of the Democratic Socialists of America, they DON'T belong in a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Commentary Snippets #3

As the Progressive elites hatch a compromise Senate healthcare "reform" bill behind closed doors, here are a few items to ponder: 1) contrary to White House assurances, Obamacare WILL fund abortions. In fact, each time the Republicans introduced an amendment to specifically prohibit federal funds for abortion in all five congressional healthcare bills, they were soundly defeated by the Democratic majority; 2) CBO’s estimate that Obamacare will reduce deficits by $81 billion over the next ten years does not take into account that while taxes and fees will begin in 2010, Obamacare itself will not be implemented until 2013. So, we can count on HUGE deficits after 2019. Yes, my friends, our Progressive overseers genuinely believe “we the people” are, in fact, insufferably stupid; 3) “employer mandates” will cost the economy up to $50 billion/year, and up to 9 million low-wage and part-time employees will lose their employer-based health insurance; 4) with a public option, millions of Americans who are satisfied with their current coverage will be forced out of their private health insurance plans and into the public option; 5) though the “individual mandate” provision in these bills is manifestly unconstitutional and will, therefore, likely be challenged in court, that won’t stop the Progressives. With Obamacare, individuals must either enroll or face onerous penalties of up to $1900; 6) Obamacare will mean the massive and costly expansion of the Medicaid program which will exacerbate state fiscal woes; 7) to reduce the deficit, all reform proposals will require billions in Medicare cuts which, if enacted, would adversely affect medical services to millions of seniors; but since no one really believes that such draconian Medicare cuts will happen, that illusory $81 billion in “savings” by 2019 will quickly balloon into a $300-$400 billion deficit; 8) the Price Waterhouse Coopers audit shows that Obamacare will drive up premiums ( vs making coverage more affordable) above what those costs would be without the reform: by 2016, the cost of coverage for the typical family will rise by $6,000 under current law and by $9,000 if Obamacare is adopted; 9) to placate generous trial lawyers, tort reform, which could save billions each year by reducing the need for defensive medicine, will not be part of any final Democratic bill; 10) reportedly, the White House is prepared to approve an increase in payments for doctors in return for their support for Obamacare, an estimated $250 billion cost not yet factored into the liberals’ rosey 10-year forecast; 11) despite the economic and healthcare carnage wrought by Obamacare, 25 million people would still be uninsured!

Again, folks, this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with improving healthcare quality or reducing healthcare costs for Americans. It’s ALL about the expansion of government power over our lives. To bring down healthcare costs without jeopardizing the quality of care, no intelligent person on the Hill can honestly believe that throwing the baby out with the bath water is the solution to our healthcare problems. So, there must be an ulterior motive. The short of it is that the Progressives well understand Lenin’s assertion that providing universal healthcare is a surefire stepping stone to socialist domination. (See previous healthcare posts where more sensible and market-based approaches to reforming healthcare are discussed.)

If the Obama-run Census Bureau has its way, and there's every reason to believe that it will, Fox News could be barred from airing bureau ads aimed at instructing and encouraging public participation in the census. On its website, the bureau asserts that media with “controversial talk” formats will be denied ad deals. No matter. Given the White House’s open war with Fox News, I’m sure a commercially fluorishing Fox isn’t banking on any ad money anyway.

Despite Obama’s gift of $900 million for Palestinian “humanitarian aid”, meaning Swiss bank accounts, Fatah remains extremely upset with Obama for failing to more aggressively push Israel to abandon its settlements on the West Bank. Tch, tch, tch. Poor misunderstood, victimized Fatah. As far as I’m concerned, let this shamelessly unrepentant terrorist horde which so callously celebrated the death of 3000 innocents on 9/11 eat…..cake.

The much maligned “birthers” may yet be vindicated--and none too soon for these United States of America. Seems one Judge Carter may actually allow Barnett v Obama to go forward, this despite the feverish Obama legal team’s attempts to block any such attempt. Stay tuned.

While the recent District of Columbia v. Heller case upheld the individual right to keep and bear arms in federally administered areas, it did not settle the question of Second Amendment rights for individuals in areas outside direct federal jurisdiction. Thus, this winter the Supreme Court will hear the McDonald v City of Chicago case which will decide whether Second Amendment rights are protected from state and municipal government encroachments as well. While it seems academic that one’s right to bear arms for self-defense is constitutionally unassailable, nevertheless Chicago’s handgun ban has remained in effect for the last 27 years, effectively denying law-abiding citizens from possessing firearms to defend themselves, their families, and their homes. The suit was brought by four Chicago residents, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Illinois State Rifle Association. Obviously, Americans shouldn’t have to choose between violating unconstitutional gun ban laws or protecting themselves and their loved ones. (Lest we forget where Obama's heart is in all this, in 2004 State Senator Obama voted against Illinois Senate Bill 2165 which would have allowed citizens the right to possess and to protect themselves with handguns. In short, this administration remains viscerally opposed to protecting individual Second Amendment rights.)

The Heritage Foundation calculates that cap-and-trade, if passed, will result in 1.9 million fewer jobs in 2012, $9.4 TRILLION lost in economic growth by 2030 and nearly a 90% increase in energy costs for all Americans by 2030. Yes, incredibly, the Progressives are still pushing very, very hard for cap-and-trade. What better way to weaken our economy and to advance their Marxist agenda for America. Remain vigilant, folks. Forewarned is forearmed. Be prepared to push back aggressively.

Money speaks louder than words. Currently, Iran is China’s biggest trading partner and supplies 14% of China’s oil imports! Awash in foreign currency estimated at $2 trillion, and with a burgeoning need for Iranian oil to fuel it’s red-hot economic growth, China plans to increase its investments in Iran by $120 billion over the next several years. Combining those stats with the fact that America is relying on Beijing to help fund Obama’s $9 trillion deficit over the next ten years, is it really any wonder why meaningful economic sanctions against Iran have been impossible? But, fear not. My bet is that Israel, free of Chinese economic pressures, will soon pull the plug on Iranian nuclear development. Like my T-shirt proclaims, “Don’t Worry America. Israel is Behind You”. And thank God for that!

The redoubtable Mark Steyn warns that one of every eight workers in New York State—or 1.2 million—is a unionized government employee, and thus a reliable vote for the Democrats, the Party of Big Government. He aptly describes this public sector growth as a debilitating “matastasization” which is fast becoming an “existential threat to democracy”. No kidding, huh? Whatever happened to the lofty principle of “public service”? And to add insult to injury, these so-called “public servants” are also unionized! We’re quickly approaching a crossroads, folks: either we meekly adopt a Socialist Republic of America or we return to the small government free enterprise sytem that built this country. And while fending off the Progressive onslaught, I hope we’ve learned that there can be no worthwhile compromise with Progressives, Statists, Marxists and Socialists.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize? For What?

By nominating Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize just 12 short days into his presidency, the left-wing Nobel Committee was clearly projecting great Obama accomplishments which simply have not materialized. Not even close.

The only other explanation for the Committte’s having awarded the prize to Obama this morning is that its members too have been seduced by Obama’s glamor and soaring rhetoric, but, more importantly, by his promise to fundamentally transform America into a Euro-style basketcase more in line with insipid Norwegian socialist standards of excellence. And, unfortunately, that’s probably the case.

To Obama’s credit, however, during his speech this morning acknowledging and thanking the Committee for the honor, for the first time I can remember he sounded humble and actually said nice things about America. A silver lining afterall.

My only concern is that this ideologically motivated award of notoriously questionable value may do little more than encourage Obama’s appeasement as well as his globalist and socialist predilections.

Call me a poor sport or a blindly right-wing partisan hack, but this is a monumental farce. I'm actually chuckling as I write this. But, hey, in these perilous times we all need a sense of humor.

So, for what it's worth, congratulations, Mr. President........I guess.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Commentary Snippets #2

With all the political posturing, blather and prevarication on the Hill these days, let’s not forget how we can best significantly reduce healthcare costs without adversely affecting the quality of care or adding to the deficit: 1) reject Obamacare and all its awful fed-centric permutations; 2) implement tort reform to reduce cost of malpractice insurance and to eliminate costly defensive medicine; 3) encourage the health care industry to create a low cost plan for low income people to cover routine doctor visits vs costly emergency room care; 4) encourage less costly private sector operated walk-in clinics/properly staffed drugstores for routine medical care; 5) incentivize private whistleblowers to reduce fraud and waste; 6) eliminate arbitrary interstate barriers to healthcare insurance competition; 7) create a special fund to either subsidize catastrophic and pre-existing health treatments or to subsidize the private purchase of catastrophic and pre-existing health coverage. And these are but a smattering of the mulitiplicity of commonsense ways to reduce costs and ensure quality care without a government takeover.

On the heels of an IAEA leak over the weekend that Iran was much further along with its nuclear program than had been previously opined and that Iran now has all the necessary scientific know-how to design a nuclear weapon, the threat of an Israeli pre-emptive attack is unambiguous. Add to this the involvement of Russian scientists and engineers in Iran’s nuclear program, then the reason for Iran’s rapid development shouldn’t be all that surprising. Who did the leaking and the tactical reasons for doing so, while interesting, underscores why Tehran and, yes, both Russia and China, need to more fully grapple with how dangerously close we ALL are to a catastrophy in the Middle East. To prevent a disaster, Moscow and Beiping must constructively cooperate to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat—now. Sadly, Iranian perceptions of Obama as weak and vascillating does nothing to encourage constructive Russian and Chinese engagement or Iranian compliance. Another avoidable perfect storm is now brewing.

Creeping EPA regulation of carbon-emitting power plants, factories and oil refineries will lead to painful spikes in energy costs for all consumers, both rich and poor. The Heritage Foundation estimates that the Waxman-Markey bill (HR 2454) will increase energy costs for the typical family by $3,000/year, and gasoline and electric prices by 58% and 90% respectively. However, what Cap ‘n Trade can’t yet do to stifle economic growth, the imperious EPA bureaucracy is hard at work doing just that.

WARNING: Americans should carefully vet Cap‘n Trade and Healthcare bills, among others, for what could be a $trillion+ “global tax” add-on which will affect American taxpayers. In a recent G-20 communique from Pittsburg, the IMF was tasked with studying the implementation of a global tax (aka “fair and substantial contribution”, “innovative sources of finance” and “solidarity levies”) on unsuspecting Americans and taxpayers of other developed countries. The idea is to levy transactional fees of up to 0.5% on the trillions of dollars exchanged daily on the global market to meet UN foreign aid demands. Of course, the cost would be passed on to consumers. Since passage of the Global Poverty Act which would have involved the transfer of $845 billion directly from US taxpayers to meet UN “millennium development” goals failed, the IMF Global Tax now appears to be the fallback approach for American progressives and their transnational socialist allies in the world to facilitate the global redistribution of wealth. Forewarned is forearmed. Their menacing assault on free enterprise and liberty remains ruthless and unrelenting.

A sobering stat from the Alliance Defense Fund: 55 million people were killed during war years 1939 – 1945. Since 1967 in Britain and the USA alone, 57 million unborn babies have been killed. When a civilization so cavalierly destroys its children in such gigantean numbers, can that civilization long endure? Nope.

Without legislative language to work with, the CBO yesterday tempered its favorable scoring of the currently "conceptual" Baucus Bill by describing it as a "preliminary analysis" only. But, of course, hardpressed Democratic cheerleaders will do all they can to convince the public that the CBO scoring is anything but preliminary; that it proves the deficit neutrality of the Senate's healthcare bill. The shameless charade and obfuscation continues.