Tagged: Congress

A Simple Question For Progressives (#21)

Since we allegedly still live in a nation of laws and not of men, and since the U.S. Constitution is supposedly the supreme law of the land, I ask you to first read these small portions of that document, after which I’ll pose my question.

U.S. Constitution
Article I, Section 8

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

U.S. Constitution
Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

U.S. Constitution
Amendment X

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.

Given the above supreme law of the land that sets out the enumerated powers of Congress, on what basis does Congress have the authority to do anything beyond what’s listed in Article I Section 8?

Don’t tell me that some new law is justified because it’s a good idea, because it’s fair, because it’s in my interest to want it, because some past overreach went unchallenged, because this will save money, because this will create jobs, because I’m a heartless hateful warmongering homophobic puppy-killing raaaaacist, because America wants Hopenchange© … just tell me how Congress can possibly have the constitutional authority to do it. If it’s not listed in Article I Section 8, where does Congress get the power to do it?

What if Republican politicians took foreign money?

Imagine if this news hit the wires in 2004. I suspect the media would have been interested:

According to the sources, a taxpayer watchdog group conducted a nine-month investigation into presidential and congressional fundraising and has uncovered thousands of cases of credit card solicitations and donations to Bush and Capitol Hill, allegedly from unsecure accounts, and many from overseas. That might be a violation of federal election laws.

Now substitute the name “Obama” for “Bush,” and change the date to 2012. Will the media bury the story? Time will tell.

Congress is the problem

Ever wondered why Congress doesn’t work? Think about this: when America was founded, the average Congressman represented 30,000 constituents. Today, it’s roughly 700,000. To make the U.S. House as responsive to all 300+ million of us as it used to be, it would need to grow from its current size of 425 Representatives.

It would need to have roughly 10,000 members.

We have a problem, folks.

Painting Ohio’s 13th District a nice deep red

Tell Hugh Hewitt I did my duty. I gave a copy of this …

Buy this book!

… to Congressional candidate Paul Burtzlaff last night.
Paul Burtzlaff photographHe’s running for the open seat in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, which was vacated this year by Sherrod Brown. A conservative Republican, Burtzlaff is a former Navy chaplain who’s now a Lutheran pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Westlake, OH. I’m a parishioner there, so I know the man well and endorse him heartily. His honesty and integrity are beyond reproach, so you can trust him to follow through on his promises (much like somebody else we all know).
He’s strong on national security, and his campaign is also emphasizing his commitment to improving education and bringing jobs to Ohio. He’s never run for public office before, so he’s no member of the Washington “in crowd”, nor is he one of the Ohio GOP establishment elites who brought us candidates like Bob Taft and Jim Petro. Burtzlaff is refreshingly straightforward and open about his policy positions, so you’ll always know what he believes and why. He doesn’t flip-flop, either.
I’ll be supporting Paul Burtzlaff’s campaign, and hopefully before long there will be some seriously meaty information to publish about this candidate. For instance, although there’s no press release yet, Burtzlaff just won the endorsement of The Ohio Right to Life Society, and he will also be the focus of a Meet The Bloggers session on Saturday the 15th if the MTB crew agrees to the date (details coming soon).
Keep your eye on Paul Burtzlaff. The results of the May 2nd Republican primary might just surprise you.

Army sneaking women into combat?

Mack Owens reports on the Army’s possible backdoor attempt to sneak women into combat, as unearthed by Elaine Donnelly’s Center for Military Readiness:

The U.S. Army is quietly making a radical change in its personnel policy that may well see the 3rd Infantry Division redeploy to Iraq early next year with mixed-sex support companies collocated with combat units. The move violates not only Defense Department regulations, but also the requirement to notify Congress when such a change goes into effect.

The Army’s defense of its actions has been disingenuous. On one hand, the Army claimed in May that there were “insufficient male soldiers in the Army to fill forward support companies,” and therefore it “cannot support elimination of female soldiers from all units designated to be UA elements.” But if the Army knew about this back in May, why didn’t it ask Congress for more recruits at the time? One cannot escape the conclusion that the Army’s position appears to be that we don’t have enough young men to fight our wars, so women must be integrated into fighting units by subterfuge and sleight-of-hand.
But then, on the other hand, an Army spokesman recently told Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times that the policy of prohibiting women from serving in units supporting ground-combat formations is outdated. Today, said the spokesman, the threat is “asymmetrical… There is no front-line threat right now” since all soldiers, support or combat, face rocket, mortar, and roadside-bomb attacks, as well as ambushes.

First and foremost of my objections: if these allegations are true then the Army is breaking the law. Even if I agreed with the Army’s goal (which I don’t), I’d oppose their methods here. The senior officials responsible for this sleight-of-hand need a public and permanent reminder about civilian control of the American military.

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Hey, I know that guy

Billy Tauzin III is the Republican running for Congress in Louisiana’s 3rd District. I say “running” because he’s facing a runoff on Saturday. I wish him success not only because he’s a strong-on-defense conservative, but also because I know from personal experience that he’s a genuinely upstanding and honest guy.
I knew him as “Bill” back when he was a year behind me at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He was in my company (the Corps of Cadets had roughly 120 cadets in each of 8 companies) in 1991 when he was a swab. Although word got out that his father had some serious political horsepower as a member of the House committee that controlled the Coast Guard’s appropriations, Bill never mentioned it himself. He was determined to make it through 4th Class Year on his own, and it was much tougher in 1991 than it is now in the age of political correctness. Any time his father came up in conversation, Bill deftly changed the subject.
Bill never relied on his dad’s position to get himself an easy break. Instead there were times that he caught more than his fair share of flak from the upperclass cadets, just so they could demonstrate to everybody that Bill wasn’t getting any extra slack. It happened to all the high-profile kids, including sons of admirals and captains. Some couldn’t take it, but I never heard Bill complain.
Although as a 3/c Cadet I wasn’t permitted to fraternize with a swab, there was always an unspoken understanding that the 3/c were the unofficial mentors of the 4/c. We in ’94 kept an eye on the folks in ’95, and we got to know them pretty well. Although Bill didn’t graduate from the Academy (he finished at LSU instead), it wasn’t for lack of ability or grit. He got through Swab Year, and remained upbeat and personable even as he learned the toughness required to survive that marathon, for which I respect him. The guy was honest and a complete straight shooter.
I’ve looked at his stances on the issues in this race, and they match what I think is in the best interests of America. When I combine that with my personal experience with the man, I can wholeheartedly endorse Billy Tauzin III for Congress.
Consider contributing to his campaign, and if you’re registered in Louisiana’s 3rd District give him your vote this Saturday.

My wish list for the next four years

Now that we’ve won the election, it’s time to capitalize. I offer three lists as starting points for thinking about what to do next.
Here’s my off-the-cuff list of top political priorities that President Bush and the Republican Congress ought to pursue between now and 2008.

  1. Redouble the war effort. It’s no quagmire. We have the initiative now, so let’s exploit it.
    • Reaffirm the Bush Doctrine. Then beef it up by repealing Section 2.11 of Executive Order 12333, which forbids assassination as a foreign policy tool.
    • Stick Osama’s head on a pike. No arrest. No trial. Sure, as a martyr he’ll be an inspiration to terrorists, but he already is. His continued respiration makes us look weak. Kill him, kill his followers, and humiliate his fans.
    • Crush the insurgency in Iraq. That means flattening Fallujah for starters.
    • Seal our borders.
    • Use profiling to catch the enemy here. That means looking more closely at:
      • People from countries that support terrorism
      • Muslims
      • Men of Middle Eastern appearance between the ages of 16 and 40.
    • Topple the governments in Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Use diplomacy, sanctions, and internal instability if possible. Otherwise use force.
    • Field new weapons systems tailored for this war.
    • Kill obsolete weapons systems. Pork be damned.
  2. Stop worrying about offending American leftists and don’t let them drive your policies. Unabashed conservatism wins and “the new tone” loses. We won, so start governing like it.
  3. Stop worrying about the media’s opinion of you. They’ll never like you, so get over it. It’s our votes you need, not theirs. Besides, the blogosphere’s here to stay, and the media dinosaurs will either evolve or die … and either way, you win.
  4. Appoint and confirm conservative judges.
  5. Cut taxes, regulation and especially spending.
  6. Pass the Federal Marriage Amendment.
  7. Boost military pay (especially combat pay).
  8. Replace the tax code with a national sales tax (or at worst, a flat tax).
  9. Expand the majority in the Senate and House in 2006.
  10. Europe is about to come crawling for our forgiveness, because they’re realists and they know we’re in the driver’s seat for good. Be polite, give them some of the financial action, but never defer to their judgment on anything.
  11. Move the federal budgeting process to a two-year cycle.
  12. If the Partial Birth Abortion Ban dies in the Supreme Court, pass it again and keep fighting.
  13. Consider a newer, better GI Bill; ask the troops what they want.
  14. Leave the United Nations. It’s rotten to the core, and has long outlived its usefulness. This will help with #10, above.

As for the military, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

  1. Add at least two divisions to the Army.
  2. Ease up on deployments for the Reserves & National Guard.
  3. In recruiting, continue the shift from “here’s what you’ll get” to “here’s how you can serve“, because we want warriors and not half-hearted mercenaries.
  4. Get sophisticated in your recruiting. If your efforts look half-assed, then you’ll get the recruits you paid for.
  5. Keep women from combat.
  6. Cultivate frontline warriors among noncoms and junior officers. Get the combat lessons they’ve learned into institutional memory now, before they leave the service.

Last, a list for the conservative blogosphere.

  1. Destroy the credibility of the mainstream media.
  2. Repeat #1.

I’ll add to the lists and expand them as things come to mind.

A little rebellion now and then …

The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, … the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

— Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s fears have come to pass. The Supreme Court has too much power. I know this isn’t news to anybody, but it’s a growing problem and we aren’t doing enough about it.

I like some Supreme Court rulings. I dislike others. Lately, their generally conservative trend has warmed the cockles of my reptilian Republican heart (wink, wink), but I’m not so shortsighted that I think it’ll last forever. I hate Roe v. Wade in large part because it’s an overreach of judicial authority, and some of you libs out there hate different cases for similar reasons. There’s a bedrock principle involved here that’s worth upholding by both the left and the right: citizens ought to have the final say over policy decisions that affect them. But our power over our lives is steadily being eclipsed by our courts.

“Fine,” you say, “but what do we do about it?” The solution is simple in concept, but hard to execute: pit Congress and the President against the Supreme Court.

GhidrahThe only things that’ll keep the Supremes from running amuck in either direction are the other two branches of the federal government. The Founding Fathers left us a three-headed federal monster that was supposed to be too busy fighting itself to mess with the citizenry much. But although Congress and the President have the authority to act in ways that can restrain the Supreme Court, since the days of the Warren Court they’ve been derelict in their duties. The three-headed monster is now focused on us. One head makes stuffy legal pronouncements about anything and everything, and the other two heads say “yes, sir” and promptly chew on what remains of our lives, liberties, and property.

Have you ever noticed that Supreme Court rulings are treated with excessive awe and reverence by our society? Even your local U.S. Court of Appeals gets a bucketful of deference (unless you live in the Ninth Circuit, thankfully). Yes, small groups of us complain about this ruling or that, but nobody really challenges the judiciary in a serious way. Judges appropriate greater and greater authority for themselves every year, and the average person on the street assumes that if the Supremes say “such-and-such is constitutional”, then that settles the debate.

Why?

Most Americans went to public schools where the quality of civics education stinks. Joe Citizen is a good guy, but he doesn’t have a lot of free time to pay close attention to the courts, and assumes that most judges are impartial interpreters of the law. After all, back in school their government-funded “Social Studies” classes said so!

The typical American accepts without thought the media’s reports on Supreme Court rulings as settled law on a par with the Ten Commandments. Congress and the President realize this, and they understand that they can get away with advancing their policies via lawsuits and court orders. That way, the blame for any unpleasant results can shrugged off and dumped onto unelected judges with life tenure. “Don’t look at me,” says the politician seeking re-election, “I didn’t make the decision. The courts did.”

Abortion protestPolitical factions aren’t stupid; if we’re to be ruled by the judiciary, then that’s where the attention will be focused every November. That’s why the judicial nomination process has gotten so politicized lately, with competing factions vying to nominate ideologically like-minded judges who will hopefully toe the party line on this issue or that. Instead of interpreting the law, our favorite black-robed dipsticks make the law … from the bench.

But why should it be that way? I don’t care whether the judicial power grab comes from the left or the right; it’s still a steaming pile of horse crap.

The Congress and the President have an obligation equal to the Supreme Court’s to interpret the Constitution in the course of their duties, and it’s high time they got serious about it. Until we voters light a fire under their pinstriped butts they will continue to take the path of least resistance. They’ll keep neglecting the critical work of preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution. Power abhors a vacuum, and the unelected Supreme Court will continue to fill it until the other two branches stop farting around. Do you feel like entrusting social change to nine black-robed Philosopher Monarchs? I sure don’t.

It wasn’t always this way. Andrew Jackson once defied a Supreme Court ruling declaring his Indian Removal policies unconstitutional, saying “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.” FDR’s New Deal gives me hives when I ponder it, but I’ve got to give the guy his due for the politically brilliant court-packing stunt he used to rein in the Court’s opposition to his exercise of Presidential authority. And in the 1869 case Ex Parte McCardle, the Court backed off when Congress flexed its Article III Section 2 muscle to remove the Court’s appellate jurisdiction over a certain category of cases.

The political issues motivating these uses of constitutional power varied, and the moral justifications are open to debate, but the underlying political principles were the same. That system’s still there, if we can muster the will to use it. The U.S. Supreme Court can be reined in, and it’s long past time to start. I’ll be thinking about strategies this summer, and hopefully some will be worth blogging about.