Monday, November 29, 2010

Abolish the Transportation Security Administration

By Chris Slavens: Democrats’ favorite strategy is to blame George W. Bush for everything from high unemployment to Hurricane Katrina, so it should come as no surprise that some on the left are attempting to pin the abuses of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the former president, despite the fact that the Obama administration—with the exception of Hillary Clinton, who has political reasons to distance herself from her boss—is fully supportive of pat-down procedures that would, as one protesting passenger correctly noted, constitute sexual assault if performed by anyone other than government employees.

Strangely, however, a majority of liberals (at least those in the media) have chosen not to assign blame at all, and are instead diligently pretending that groping innocent citizens is the niftiest thing since solar panels, patiently reminding the unwashed masses that it’s perfectly acceptable to trade liberty for security.

The TSA was created during Bush’s presidency, two months after the tragic 9/11 attacks, but it was Democrats who insisted that airport security be handled by federal employees, rather than private firms. And, of course, the screening procedures in question were implemented a few weeks ago with the approval of a federal government controlled entirely by Democrats. Republicans have committed their fair share of screw-ups, but can’t be blamed for this one.

Unfortunately, the media has focused on a handful of bizarre mishaps (like the rupturing of a Michigan bladder cancer survivor’s urostomy bag during a pat-down), which distracts from the fact that the procedures themselves are outrageous even when performed properly. Forcing “free” individuals to expose themselves to potentially harmful radiation, or submit to full-body pat-downs which include the feeling of genitalia, is simply unacceptable. Such unreasonable actions justify civil disobedience.

Some lawmakers are listening to passengers’ concerns, like Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act. It would revoke TSA screeners’ legal immunity, requiring them to obey the same sexual harassment laws that apply to the general public. Perhaps the new Republican majority in the House, which has reason to fear the withdrawal of Tea Party support if it does not govern as promised, will be more open to Paul’s proposals than past Republican majorities.

Everyone seems to have a different idea of what to do about the TSA. The left, because of its politically-motivated refusal to acknowledge any problems on Obama’s watch, pretends that there is no problem, and some of the faux conservatives on the center-right—the same who supported the unconstitutional Patriot Act several years ago—echo this view. Some argue that profiling (used successfully by the Israelis) is the way to go, which has sent liberal race-baiters into an arms-flailing tizzy. Others think that the x-ray scanners are just fine, and only the invasive pat-downs should be done away with. Or the reverse.

Regardless of the eventual outcome of the debate, an important first step must be taken before new procedures are established: The abolition of the TSA.

The agency was created nine years ago by an act of Congress, and now that it has proven itself to be incapable of providing security while respecting constitutional rights, it can be dismantled just as easily by another act of Congress. Acknowledge the mistake, issue an apology, and move forward. That is how good government works.

But it’s not how the current administration works. By continuing to subsidize security theater, and dismissing the valid complaints of concerned citizens, the Democrats in power are setting themselves up for a disaster in the next election. Did they learn nothing this year?
Chris Slavens is a conservative columnist. He writes from Delaware.

Tags: TSA, Transportation Security Administration, civil liberties, Ron Paul, American Traveler Dignity Act To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dems' gas tax hike would fuel Tea Party anger

Dems’ gas tax hike would fuel Tea Party anger
by Chris Slavens

The average price of a gallon of gasoline is $2.87, a number which will continue to climb as the Federal Reserve’s “quantitative easing” scheme lowers the value of the dollar. That’s a 50% increase from only two years ago; in the weeks following the presidential election, the average price was about a dollar lower. But according to some Democrats, today’s price isn’t high enough.

Senator Thomas “Tom” Carper (D-DE) wants to raise the federal gasoline tax by twenty-five cents over a period of two years, increasing the current rate—18.4 cents per gallon—by 136% to 43.4 cents per gallon. The last time the tax went up, in 1993, it was increased by a mere 4.3 cents.

Has Carper filled up recently? Does he drive? Or are his vehicles powered by pixie dust and wishes?

The senator travels to Washington, D.C., by train regularly, so perhaps he can be forgiven for apparently forgetting that most Americans are already feeling pain at the pump, and will continue to struggle to afford fuel even without a mind-blowing 136% tax increase.

Then again, he might not be forgiven. With the exceptions of Wilmington, Dover, and a handful of overdeveloped beach towns, Delaware is a rural state. It’s not uncommon for residents to drive twenty miles to work, and in many cases “work” consists of serving summer visitors, as tourism is vital to the First State’s economy. One could almost believe that Carper is intentionally trying to anger his constituents, who will have an opportunity to reelect or fire him in less than two years.

Democrats defend the proposed increase by arguing that revenue must be generated somehow, somewhere, so why not at the tens of thousands of gas stations across the United States?

Their feeble argument reflects their thorough disconnection from the people they pretend to serve. The T-E-A in Tea Party stands for “Taxed Enough Already,” and the results of the recent election can only be interpreted as an unsubtle backlash against big government and tax-and-spend policies, yet still Democrats (and, curiously, some Republicans) insist on raising revenue to fund a predetermined budget. While working families scrounge and cut back, the government spends their hard-earned wealth freely—which is one of several reasons that the country entered a recession in the first place.

The federal government does not have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. In the real world, a household earns a certain amount, and bases its budget on that income. Why should Congress be above such a common-sense approach to handling finances?

The Democrats’ gas tax hike is not only utterly unnecessary; it will harm a vast majority of Americans, stifle the recovery and growth of businesses big and small, and possibly derail efforts to rejuvenate the economy.

Americans expect to see unfeigned efforts to cut spending, eliminate unnecessary agencies and programs, and reduce the seemingly infinite reach of the federal government, and while only an imbecile would believe that this can happen overnight, the average voter is not so naïve as to be fooled by half-hearted attempts to alter minor details of the progressive agenda, like rearranging the deck furniture on a sinking ship. Fundamental, far-reaching reform is craved, which is why a proposal to do the opposite—to raise taxes for no reason—seems more like a poorly-timed joke than a serious suggestion.

Obama said that electing Democrats would be like putting a car in “D,” to drive forward. He just neglected to mention how expensive driving would be with his party behind the wheel.

Chris Slavens is a conservative columnist. He writes from Delaware.

Tags: U.S. Senate, Carper, federal gas tax, Tea Party, Congress, Obama To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Constitutional Convention - Not A Good Idea!

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. - Hosea 4:6 [Covenant Wisdom]

Defending Our Constitution
Dr. Bill Smith: The following email has been making the rounds as a ruse to take America off track and to open our Constitution to a complete makeover. Having served 22 years in the military, I took an oath as a commissioned office that I stand by today: ". . . that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same." Thus, I must speak out against this populace treat to stir up emotions with the intent to destroy our Constitution.

While I "may" agree with the intent of the identified constitution amendment mentioned in the email, the real danger lies in the proposed idea of a Constitutional Convention.
First The Bogus Email:
This keeps appearing with more states signing on! We are on our way! A Constitutional Convention is on the horizon. . . . Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention . . . .

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest was to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform ... in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law.

I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.

A Constitutional Convention - this is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come. And, with the advent of modern communication, the process can be moved along with incredible speed. There is talk out there that the "government" doesn't care what the people think. That is irrelevant. It is incumbent on the population to address elected officials to the wrongs afflicted against the and me. Think about this . . . .

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months and 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ..."
The above email is designed to mislead people. It is meant to lead them to believe that they could call for a Constitutional Convention which would make only this one constitutional change. Then we would have this amendment to the Constitution which would keep those rascals in Congress in line and we would all be better off. The progressives, a lot of liberals, and radical groups would love readers to believe this. Why? Because it is not true and they have an agenda.

If a Constitutional Convention were legally convened, its delegates would have absolute authority without oversight by anyone outside of the convention. The delegates would create a new Constitution to replace the present Constitution. Do you believe that such a Constitution would be as well founded and as wise as the one creased by our reasoned founders? Most likely, we would cease to be a Republic. Note these words in the email, "incumbent on the population to address elected officials to the wrongs afflicted against the and me." Those words are pandering to emotions without the email explaining the ultimate outcome. It wants you to start thinking about a Constitutional Convention. There are other emails and venues promoting the same idea.

To reiterate, a Constitutional Convention would have no legal oversight and could eliminate or modify any or all of the bill of rights. They could eliminate those "nasty "NOTs" which presently limit the authority of the Federal government and establishes boundaries to their interfering with our lives. Also, new rights or restrictions on citizens could be established. While laws can and have placed restrictions on American citizens, they presently can be challenged under the present Constitution in court or repealed by Congress. The Constitution was meant to stand the test of time until the United States of America ceased to be Republic. Are we ready to surrender our Republic?

The Convention could add all kinds of new populace elements. I have heard students at a local university (and they all vote) claim that every person should be guaranteed a free college education. Also consider that there are a lot of people out there who believe that your property should be open to their use. And, on it goes.

Most likely, one major change would be changing the process of electing a president by eliminating the Electoral College. If this ever happens, it means that the major cities and a few states would solely determine who would be president. Consider that the majority of those who are on welfare and other subsidies reside in these cities and states. Thus, they would only elect a President who was supportive of more government handouts and funding their programs with other people's money. There is already a movement which advocates that state legislatures agree to join together with other states and to cast their electoral votes according to the popular vote outside their state and not according to the vote within their state. Our forefathers provided the Electoral College to give each state balanced representation in electing a president.

After a Constitutional Convention, we could even find ourselves with another form of government, maybe a Parliamentary form or a government with less checks and balances. The present concept of three branches of government (Congress, the Court System, and the Executive Branch) could all be eliminated. Our unique Constitution and our present system of government could be wiped out without recourse. We could wind up with unrestricted government and no bill of rights. An unrestricted government could be unleashed to drag us further into socialism or a dictatorship. The new Constitution could even recognize Sharia law or International law.

Ask yourself, "Why do liberals love the idea of a "constitutional convention?" Did you notice the line in the email, "I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop." This could be a line right out of the progressive's playbook. The hidden agenda of the email was not to promote the amendment but to encourage people to move toward a constitutional convention. A place where others espousing goodwill will have the opportunity to argue away the current Republic, the protection of our rights and freedoms, and the checks and balances that our forefathers gave us.

Consider the warning of Benjamin Franklin. His words were spoken at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. "A lady asked Dr. Franklin, Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it." [Notes by Dr. James McHenry, a Maryland’s delegates to the Convention; first published in The American Historical Review, vol. 11, 1906, p. 618.]

There exists a need for documented arguments / responses on this and other subjects relative to the Constitution. People need access to "right minded" information so that they can make sound decisions and fend off with confidence bogus ideas and communications designed to entrap citizens who are angry with the actions and behavior of their government. Threats like those identified above should be addressed in position papers by think tanks like The Heritage Foundation and The Curtis Coleman Institute for Constitutional Policy.

However, each of us bears a responsibility to educate ourselves. Listening to friends and discussing issues within groups may be interesting, but, it can also lead to "group think" when not grounded in truth and facts. A good starting place is for citizens to read the source documents of our founding fathers and the various debates and changes over the last 223 years since the close of the Constitutional Convention.

In 2012, we will celebrate 225 years of our present Constitution. We will also participate in the pivotal 2012 elections. Please commit now to reading the U.S. Constitution. Then, consider reading your state's constitution. Let's not chance false ideas of rewriting the U.S. Constitution. Let us hold our elected officials accountable to the Constitution that they swore to uphold.

[The Heritage Foundation has Free Pocket Constitutions.]
Dr. Bill Smith is a retired Air Force officer and former director of the $2.2 Billion European F-16 Co-production Program. He is a retired professor and is the editor of the ARRA News Service, Blogs For Borders and Conservative Voices. He is a conservative political activist, writes for several other sites and can be followed on Twitter (@arra).

Tags: Constitution, Constitutional Convention, amendments, defending, threats, email, freedoms, rights, Dr. Bill Smith To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The U.S. Constitution and Politics

by David McIntosh and Ralph Benko: The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States explicitly and strongly protects the free exercise of religion from interference by Congress and, by implication and extension, other government agencies.

The Fifth Amendment unequivocally mandates that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law. The Constitution's due process clause, as interpreted by standing decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court (and as noted by Justice Kennedy, the First Amendment principles protecting freedom of speech, belief, and religion) protects the right to marry, to bring up and protect the innocence of children, and generally to enjoy all privileges recognized by common law.

The common law, very much neglected by the law schools but very much alive as part of our operative jurisprudence, gives the force of law to traditional practices...such as the six-thousand-year-old, worldwide tradition that marriage is exclusively recognized as uniquely between a man and a woman and is not extended to commitments exchanged by lovers of the same gender.

Although it is not often noted or advocated in this manner, religious liberty, the right to life, and traditional values such as classical marriage are clearly protected from unlimited government power by the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, as demonstrated by 33 (out of 33) referenda upholding the traditional definition of marriage, these are not only explicitly constitutional, but also popular, democratic values.

Traditional values are challenged, rather than cherished, by modern cosmopolitan elites who are disproportionately influential in the public discourse, policy, and legal processes. In the trampling of explicit constitutional rights and democratic sentiments, America's status as a liberal democracy is being badly eroded. The values of a new elitist social aristocracy are being imposed over the will of the people and the clear text, and history, of the Constitution itself. Severe erosion has taken place both in liberality -- the understanding of what rights are sacrosanct even from a majority -- and democracy -- "the consent of the governed."

Classical Liberalism may be summed up succinctly and definitively in the lucid words of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Democracy -- from French démocratie, via late Latin from Greek dēmokratia, from dēmos "the people" + -kratia "power, rule" -- thus connotes popular rule. This is translated into action by the U.S. Constitution as (small-r) republicanism, the election of representatives to carry out the will of the people.

Conjoined, the phrase "liberal democracy" holds that government is legitimate insofar as it reflects the will of the people in support of their self-evident rights. The Declaration forthrightly states that the government's fundamental mission -- and therefore the foundation of its legitimacy -- is to secure such rights. The Constitution defines them, clearly and unambiguously, but its text and historical meaning are being ignored by the new political class that sees itself as a group of leaders, rather than representatives, of the people.

Traditionalists, conservatives, and populists have the opportunity to make a compelling argument on behalf of the key issues of the day by direct reference to our clearly stated constitutional rights and the democratic process. A constitutional populist analysis brings with it the highest degree of legitimacy and effectively confounds elitists, who attack those whose civic vision is founded in religiously informed values.

The arrogance of the elites is provoking a "citizens' movement." The Tea Party Patriots -- the largest, most vital, and most generally respected association of the Tea Party (with 2,800 chapters and rapidly approaching half a million members on Facebook), defines itself as a non-partisan grassroots organization of individuals united by our core values derived from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America, the Bill Of Rights as explained in the Federalist Papers. *** We hold that the United States is a republic conceived by its architects as a nation whose people were granted "unalienable rights" by our Creator. Chiefly among these are the rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The black letter, as well as the spirit, of the Bill of Rights and other constitutional guarantees, plus the historical role of government in securing such rights by iconic figures such as Washington and Jefferson, makes the case for conservative, traditional, and populist values more persuasively, legitimately, and decisively than we poor moderns can.

As a thought experiment, consider this. Every member of Congress, upon being sworn in, takes this oath: "I, Your New Congressman, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God." The president takes a similar oath.

Imagine approaching your elected Representative and asking her, or him, to sign a pledge that says, I shall not in any way support any bill or take any action prohibiting the free exercise of religion. So help me God.

Having already sworn to support the Constitution, there can be no principled opposition to reiterating support for a provision drawn literally from the First Amendment to the Constitution. This is exactly what a lawless federal judge did this summer when he struck down Proposition 8 -- the California referendum defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Turning the Constitution on its head, the judge took the law into his own hands and second-guessed the will of the majority of the people. He reasoned that the 52% of the voters who supported Prop 8 must have been animated by their private moral views. Precisely because the citizens were exercising their freedom of religion to vote on a public matter based on the tenets of their faith, the judge struck down the law. This type of reasoning is the greatest threat to religious -- and indeed all -- liberty in our country today.

A constitutional analysis which extends to our economic as well as moral rights is a very powerful one. Today we are being subjected to suppression of our constitutional liberties, often from a faction calling itself, Orwellianly enough, "liberals." For example,, possibly the most savvy and principled liberal group active today, is actively attacking the ruling of the Supreme Court in Citizens United under the rationale that "corporations are not persons" and thus not entitled to freedom of speech.

MoveOn's argument sloppily, or perhaps cunningly, overlooks the actual words of the First Amendment, which plainly says, "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, or of the press." The First Amendment makes no mention of "persons"! What, one wonders, is there about "Congress shall make no law" that liberals are having trouble understanding? The plenary prohibition on Congress could not be plainer.

By relying on a rigorous constitutionalist perspective, conservatives, traditionalists, and Tea Partiers make the strongest possible -- and arguably bulletproof -- case for demanding that the values, including religious values, held by the majority of Americans -- and protected by the Constitution -- be reflected in our laws, honored by the executive branch, and respected by the judiciary.

Let us begin, then, by demanding that our officials restore our First-Amendment right to religious liberty. Let us demand that they uphold our Fifth-Amendment right not to be deprived of life without due process of law and the Due Process and First and Fifth Amendments' protections of marriage as understood by our common law, and common sense, as applying uniquely to a man and a woman. And let us further demand that they uphold our right to determine the upbringing and education, thereby guarding the innocence, of our children.
David McIntosh is a former congressman from Indiana. Ralph Benko, author of The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World, was a deputy general counsel to two White House agencies under President Reagan and is an advisor to The American Principles Project. The article which first appeared in the American Thinker was submitted to the ARRA News Service editor for reprint by contributing author Ralph Benko

Tags: Constitution, politics, U.S., Framers of the Constitution, U.S. Constitution, 1st Amendment, 5th Amendment, First-Amendment,religious liberty, Fifth-Amendment, due process of law, Due Process, rights, protections of marriage, common law, common sense, David McIntosh, Ralph Benko To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Monday, November 8, 2010

GOP Must Return to Consistent Conservatism

By Chris Slavens

Republicans are feeling pretty good about themselves. In addition to picking up sixty-one seats in the House and gaining control of that legislative body for the first time in four years, they now control a majority of the states, and are poised to give themselves a long-term advantage by redistricting next year. The White House and Senate are still in Democrats’ hands, but the voters overwhelmingly rejected one-party rule, and Republican politicians clearly believe that the American people are on their side.

They couldn’t be more wrong. The GOP is fractured, like a fragmented vase held together by tape. It made it through the election by riding a wave of antiestablishment anger; many voters, especially independents, did not so much vote for Republicans as they voted against Democrats. Americans wanted to say “no” to liberal socialism, and did, but Republicans now have to offer the electorate something to say “yes” to. Unfortunately, they can’t seem to agree on what that something should be.

There is an ideological rift in the Republican Party, a division that could prove to be fatal if those in control refuse to release their stranglehold on power. There are the old Republicans—the establishment—who first feared the Tea Party, then attempted to infiltrate and control it, and the new Republicans, a far more ideological bunch who would rather drive their own party into the ground than see it head in the wrong direction. These conservative idealists want the best for their country, and view the GOP as a means to an end. Like a tool, the party will be used to complete a task. And, like a tool, it will be discarded if it doesn’t get the job done.

Those who think the Tea Party is a right-wing rejection of Obama’s presidency and policies would do well to remember that this antiestablishment movement—this revolution, for that’s what it is—was brewing while Bush was in office, as conservative groups like Campaign For Liberty blasted his administration’s big-government policies. Yes, the Tea Party led the charge against House Democrats in 2010, and the GOP owes its victories to a decentralized grassroots network of conservative activists, but the movement’s libertarian core will oppose Republicans just as vehemently if they squander the opportunity they have been afforded.

Republicans who stood by and said nothing as the Bush administration increased the size of the federal government, transferred power from the legislative branch to the executive, interfered in the affairs of sovereign nations, and perpetuated failed Keynesian economic policies cannot seriously believe that Americans want to return to an era of unprincipled, unconstitutional pseudo-conservatism, yet already there has been talk of replacing or improving ObamaCare rather than repealing it. Already, some speak of meeting in the middle, working across the aisle, instead of drawing a line in the sand.

Today’s right-of-center voters want something more than the compromising blend of social conservatism and fiscal liberalism that was once marketed as “compassionate conservatism.” They prefer consistent conservatism, a hypocrisy-free doctrine of less government, lower taxes, and more freedom. If the GOP does not reject the ideological inconsistencies that led to its becoming a minority party in the first place, it will find, sooner rather than later, that the Tea Party is perfectly willing to toss it overboard.

Chris Slavens is a conservative columnist. He lives in Delaware.

Tags: GOP, Republican Party, 2010 election, 2012 election, Tea Party, consistent conservatism, U.S. politics To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!