Author Archives: Chad Kent

Exactly how wrong was Markos Moultisas?

In case you missed it, on Tuesday night after Rick Santorum finished speaking Markos Moultisas sent out a series of tweets that seemed like they were designed to prove that he understands absolutely nothing about our Constitution.  It was almost surreal.

Here’s the first tweet (both via Hotair.com):

After being called out for being completely misinformed about perhaps the single most important idea involved in the founding of this country – that we all have equal and God-given rights – Markos dug the whole deeper by tweeting this nugget of brilliance:

Karl over at Hotair.com has already done a pretty good job of tearing apart the idiocy of these comments so I won’t cover the same ground. (Mike at the Political Operative does a nice job as well.)  However, there was one point Karl didn’t point out that is worth noting.

Markos is so confused here that the evidence he uses to support his original tweet – the “We the people” phrase – is actually one of the strongest arguments against his claim.

The short version of the argument is this: the phrase “We the People” is an acknowledgement that the Founders believed that – for a government to be legitimate – it has to be established or consented to by the people.  That belief comes from the idea that all men are endowed by God with equal rights.  The fact that the founders begin the Constitution with the phrase “We the People” actually indicates their belief that our rights come from God – not the government.

Now for the longer version.

In the Preamble, when the Founders used the phrase “We the People of the United States […] do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” they certainly weren’t saying that the government is the grantor of rights – as Markos claims.  If the Founders believed that, the Constitution would have started with something along the lines of, “The King of the United States hereby decrees that the following document is law…”

The fact that they started with the phrase – We the People – actually tells us a lot.  For one thing, it tells us that this country wasn’t founded on the idea that rights were granted by government.  To find out how, let’s start at the beginning.

We know from the Declaration of Independence that the Founders believed that all men are endowed by their Creator with equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

With that in mind, if two people on a deserted island had to create a government – how would they decide who would rule over the other?  They are both equals, so one is not naturally superior to the other.  They both have a right to liberty, so one person couldn’t legitimately impose a government on the 2nd person because that would violate his right to liberty.

If all men are created equal, then the only legitimate way to create a government is for the people who will be governed to agree to it.  This is where we get the phrase in the Declaration of Independence:

“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

This means that political sovereignty doesn’t come from a king, a Congress, or any government.  The only true source of political authority is the people themselves.

So when the Founders start with the phrase “We the People” they are basically saying, “Hey the power of this government is legitimate because this Constitution was written and approved by the people.”  And again, this entire idea is based on the belief that all men are created with equal rights.

The lesson here – Markos is very, very wrong and very misguided.  Not exactly breaking news, but important nonetheless.

As a final note that I can’t resist adding, if you take two seconds to look through the Bill of Rights you’ll see even more evidence that the Founders did not believe that the government granted rights.  Throughout the Bill of Rights the text refers to protecting rights that already exist.  For example, the 2nd Amendment states:

“[T]he right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Note that it doesn’t say, “This Constitution grants the people a right to keep and bear arms.”  The wording hear is clear that a right to bear arms existed before the creation of the government and that this amendment intended to protect that right.

It’s not surprising to find out that progressives believe that the government is the source of our rights and should have total authority over the people.  But it is simply mind-boggling to learn that they are foolish enough to believe that those ideas were the foundation for the United States Constitution.

Have we reversed the Constitution?

It’s pretty obvious at this point that our country is headed in the wrong direction.  And with a little perspective, it’s just as obvious why.  Over the last few decades, in many ways we have actually allowed our politicians to reverse the Constitution.

Take a look:

  • We no longer focus on what government can’t do to us.  Our current political conversation largely surrounds what we should expect the government to give to us.  That has gotten us to the point where apparently the government now has enough power to force us to violate our religious beliefs… but who cares?  Look… free condoms!!
  • This nation was founded with the mindset that individuals should have the freedom to do whatever they choose (to the greatest extent possible) and that the power of the government should be strictly limited.  But the prevailing wisdom in Washington D.C. is that the government can do whatever it wants and that the freedom of individuals should be limited.
  • There is no provision in the Constitution for entitlement spending, yet we increase it.  National defense is one of few areas of spending specifically mentioned in the Constitution, yet we decrease that.  Our politicians talk as if entitlement spending were mandatory and defense spending were an option.  It seems that our politicians now feel it’s now a higher priority to protect Americans from the burden of paying for their own retirement than to protect them from foreign invasion.

Our Constitution was founded on principles that have been proven to be effective in protecting our rights as individuals.  When we do the opposite of what is provided for in the Constitution, it only makes sense that we would get the opposite of protection.  And that’s what we’re getting – the government is waging an all out assault on our liberty.  But who cares?  Look… free condoms!

History Tells Us We Are Headed For Tyranny

What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun?  The generalizing and concentrating of all cares and power into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.”

Thomas Jefferson

It’s just a fact that concentrating power in one area will lead to the destruction of liberty.  Government power is a lot like radiation.  In small amounts, radiation can cure cancer.  But if you concentrate too much of it in one area – like a nuclear bomb – it will destroy everything in its path.

This is why the Founders were so careful about widely distributing power when this nation was formed.  Power in this country was divided up not only among the three branches of the federal government, but also throughout many state and local governments.

But over the last 100 years, we have continually transferred more and more power to Washington D.C. – and more specifically, to the executive branch.  We’ve gotten to the point where our federal government now has control over our health care and – in some cases – what we eat.  As Jefferson points out, history tells us this won’t end well for us.

This isn’t a theory – we know that concentrated power destroys liberty.  We can’t continue to disregard the experience of history and expect to keep our freedom.  That would be like continually increasing the dose of radiation for a cancer patient and assuming that it wasn’t going to kill him at some point.

So we can either continue on our path of giving more and more power to Washington D.C. or move in the direction of more evenly distributed government.  Either way we know what the result will be – it’s up to us to choose freedom or tyranny.

Do our politicians understand why they are passing laws?

“[T]he end of law is, not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.”

John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government

The purpose of making laws isn’t to prevent people from doing something, it’s to maximize their freedom.  The proper role of government is to protect our God-given rights** – so the laws passed by governments should make our rights more secure.

As counter-intuitive as it is, this means that when the government passes a law – that law should actually make you more free – not less.  Unfortunately, few if any of our current politicians understand this concept at all.  Think about how many of our recent laws prohibit us from making our own choices. We now have laws that dictate what we must teach in schools and what we must feed our children while they’re at school.  We also have laws that ban one product after another.  None of this makes us more free.

So how can a law make people more free?  Simple.  When a government makes a law prohibiting theft, that makes everyone more free.  Since a person knows that no one is allowed to steal his possessions, he doesn’t have to spend all of his time at home trying to protect his property from the rest of society.  That gives him the freedom to leave his house and go into town to get a job, start a business, or whatever else he wants to do.  This law against theft allows him to make the most of his liberty.

The value of understanding the true purpose behind making laws – and forcing our politicians to understand it – is incalculable.  It is the difference between living in a society that constantly tries to control our behavior and one that helps us make the most out of the greatest gift on earth – Liberty.

**they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.– That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…

Government will abuse great power – guaranteed

The experience of every age convinces us, that we must not judge of men by what they ought to do, but by what they will do; and all history affords but few instances of men trusted with great power without abusing it, when with security they could.  

John Trenchard, Cato’s Letters #60

What John Trenchard is saying in modern language is: When we decide what power to give to the politicians in our government, we can’t base that decision on what we think they should do.  We need to base that decision on what we know they will do.  Throughout history, almost every time a government has been given a lot of power, the politicians have abused it as soon as they thought they could get away with it.

Why does that matter?

Well if we know that a government is that likely to abuse great amounts of power, we ought to keep that in mind as we decide how much control we want it to have over our lives.

But over the past few decades we have gotten increasingly willing to trust our government with power.  In fact, the people in this country who pride themselves on being reasonable and realistic (admit it, you know someone like this) will often dismiss anyone who raises concerns over the dangers of growing government power as paranoid.  But history tells us the idea that the people in government will abuse the power we give them isn’t paranoia, it’s almost a guarantee.

In other words, it’s extremely reasonable to be over-protective of our liberty.  Look at it this way: do you lock your doors before you leave your home?  Isn’t it a little paranoid to think that someone’s going to try to come in your house and take your stuff?  Of course not, experience tells us that there are thieves out there trying to break into houses.  It’s just common sense to do whatever you can to protect your possessions.

Our God-given liberty is the most valuable possession we have – or will ever have in our lifetime.  It’s time we started treating it that way.

Debating the General Welfare Clause

The General Welfare Clause

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…


The General Welfare Clause is one of the most distorted and misunderstood parts of the Constitution.  A lot of people today – including the Supreme Court – will tell you that it grants the federal government a separate power to provide for the “general welfare of the United States.”  In other words, that Congress has the authority to do whatever is in the best interests in the country.

It seems like common sense that no one who was trying to create a limited government would decide to give Congress this kind of broad, unrestricted power.  Despite that, this can be a tricky topic to debate.  To help you the next time you have to explain the obvious to someone, I’ve prepared a crash course for you on the General Welfare Clause.

Below is an explanation of the meaning of the General Welfare Clause, along with four reasons why is simply cannot be a separate grant of power – all broken down into individual arguments that you can use.

What does the General Welfare Clause mean?

- This clause has two parts – a power and a purpose.  The first half grants the power to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises”.  The second half gives the purpose that this power is to be used for – “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare.”

“Is this an independent, separate, substantive power, to provide for the general welfare of the United States?  No, sir.  They can lay and collect taxes, etc.  For what?  To pay the debts and provide for the general welfare.  Were this not the case, the following clause would be absurd.  It would have been treason against common language.”

Edmund Randolph, June 15, 1788

- The General Welfare Clause is actually a restriction on Congress rather than a grant of broader power.  It is a clarification that the power to lay taxes, etc is to be used for the general welfare (the good of the whole country) rather than the specific welfare (a certain state, region, group, etc.).

- In other situations in life, the meaning of a clause like this would be obvious.  For example, imagine that parent leaves a note for his teenage son that reads:

“You have permission to use the car keys and the $20 that are laying on the table, go to the football game and have a good time. ”

It’s pretty clear that the son is being given permission to use the keys and the money for the purpose of going to the football game.  No one in their right mind would argue that “have a good time” is a separate grant of permission for the boy to do whatever he thought would be fun.  But the way that the General Welfare Clause is currently interpreted would be like the son in this example going to an all night drinking party and then claiming, “But you said I had permission to have a good time!”

Why grant specific powers if there is a grant of “general” power?

The Founders put a lot of time and effort into deciding exactly which powers would be granted to the new federal government.  It makes absolutely no sense to waste all that time on specifics if they were just going to turn around and grant the government the virtually unlimited power to provide for the general welfare.

James Madison made the same point:

“But may it not be asked with infinitely more propriety, and without the possibility of a satisfactory answer, why, if the terms were meant to embrace not only all the powers particularly expressed, but the indefinite power which has been claimed under them, the intention was not so declared? why, on that supposition, so much critical labour was employed in enumerating the particular powers, and in defining and limiting their extent?”

James Madison, Nov. 27, 1830

If it is a separate power this clause creates unlimited government power

- Creating a limited federal government was one of the central purposes for writing the Constitution.  But granting the authority to provide for the general welfare would have resulted in a government of unlimited power.

We can now see for ourselves that this is true.  The Supreme Court has decided that this clause does grant the power to provide for the general welfare – because of that most of our public officials believe that the General Welfare Clause justifies anything they want to do.  Can you think of one area of your life that current members of Congress don’t feel is their business?

“If the clause, “to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States,” is construed to be an independent and substantive grant of power, it not only renders wholly unimportant and unnecessary the subsequent enumeration of specific powers; but it plainly extends far beyond them, and it creates a general authority in congress to pass all laws, which they may deem for the common defence or general welfare.  Under such circumstances, the constitution would practically create an unlimited national government.”

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution

- Can you think of a law that couldn’t be justified under a power to whatever is in the best interests of the country?

“[F]or what is the case that would not be embraced by a general power to raise money, a power to provide for the general welfare, and a power to pass all laws necessary and proper to carry these powers into execution […] Can less be said, with the evidence before us furnished by the journal of the Convention itself, than that it is impossible that such a Constitution as the latter would have been recommended to the States by all the members of that body whose names were subscribed to the instrument?”

James Madison, Nov. 27, 1830

- If the intent of the Founders was to create a limited federal government, then granting a power to provide for the general welfare wouldn’t have just been a mistake – it would have completely defeated the purpose of writing a Constitution in the first place.  They were far to intelligent to do something nonsensical like this.

As a separate grant of power this clause would be inconsistent with the rest of the Constitution

- The 10th Amendment states that:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution […] are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

If the General Welfare Clause is interpreted the way it is today and means that the federal government has the power to do what’s in the best interests of the country, this amendment makes no sense.  Apparently – based on that interpretation – four years after the Constitution was written the Founders felt the need to pass an amendment to make sure everyone knows that the states have the power to do everything that’s not in the general welfare of the country.  So… the states have the authority to do whatever is bad for the country.  (On second thought, it may explain a lot about California and Illinois…)

- Nowhere else in life do we take one phrase out of over 7,000 words and assume it has a meaning that completely contradicts the rest of the document.  The entire Constitution was written to carefully limit the power and scope of the government.  So it is completely illogical to interpret the General Welfare Clause as granting the authority to do whatever is in the best interests of the country.

“On the other hand, construing this clause in connexion with, and as a part of the preceding clause, giving the power to lay taxes, it becomes sensible and operative.  It becomes a qualification of that clause, and limits the taxing power to objects for the common defence or general welfare.  It then contains no grant of any power whatsoever; but it is a mere expression of the ends and purposes to be effected by the preceding power of taxation.”

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution

None of the Founders objected to this clause

- The authority to provide for the general welfare would have been a massive grant of power to the federal government.  Yet somehow, none of the Founders objected to the General Welfare Clause during the Constitutional Convention:

“That the terms in question were not suspected in the Convention which formed the Constitution of any such meaning as has been constructively applied to them, may be pronounced with entire confidence; for it exceeds the possibility of belief, that the known advocates in the Convention for a jealous grant and cautious definition of Federal powers should have silently permitted the introduction of words or phrases in a sense rendering fruitless the restrictions and definitions elaborated by them.”

James Madison, Nov. 27, 1830

- The states – many of which were concerned about being overrun by the power of the new federal government – didn’t object either.  Of all the 189 amendments that were suggested to be a part of the new Bill of Rights, none of them mentioned the General Welfare Clause:

“Here are a majority of the States proposing amendments, in one instance thirty-three by a single State; all of them intended to circumscribe the powers granted to the General Government, by explanations, restrictions, or prohibitions, without including a single proposition from a single State referring to the terms common defence and general welfare; which, if understood to convey the asserted power, could not have failed to be the power most strenuously aimed at, because evidently more alarming in its range than all the powers objected to put together; and that the terms should have passed altogether unnoticed by the many eyes which saw the danger in terms and phrases employed in some of the most minute and limited of the enumerated powers, must be regarded as a demonstration that it was taken for granted that the terms were harmless, because explained and limited, as in the “Articles of Confederation,” by the enumerated powers which followed them.”

James Madison, Nov. 27, 1830

Could Obama’s “contraception requirement” be on the way out?

From the Wall Street Journal:

The White House said Thursday it has no plans to reverse course on its decision to require that all employers cover contraception in their insurance plans, despite a wave of criticism from Republicans and Catholic leaders.

After a bruising week for health officials on the issue, the White House arranged a conference call with reporters to address what it called “confusion” over the policy. It also put up a blog post by Cecilia Munoz, director of the House Domestic Policy Council, pointing out that “no individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception” and “no individual will be forced to buy or use contraception.”

And White House press secretary Jay Carney said at Thursday’s afternoon briefing that there was “not a debate” over reversing the decision. “The decision has been made, and it was made after careful consideration,” he said.

So the White House says that its decision on forcing American businesses to cover contraception is final.  That’s cute and all, but it is just one more example of the foolishness of this president and the way his health care law was written.  It also serves as a great illustration of why our federal government’s dependence on executive agencies as a whole is incompatible with effective government.

Despite what President Obama may like to believe, this issue is far from dead.  The contraception requirement isn’t a law that was passed through Congress – it’s just a regulation that came out of the Department of Health and Human Services.

That means that when a Republican president is inaugurated in 2013, he can simply get some new people in place at HHS that will repeal it for him.  Then, the next time a Democrat is elected president, he can reinstate the contraception requirement.  And back and forth forever.  How stable!!  That will definitely help businesses plan for the future.

This instability is one of many reasons that rule-making by executive agency wasn’t provided for in the Constitution.  By creating a fairly deliberate law-making process (along with electing only 1/3 of the Senate every two years), our Founders made it much less likely that one Congress would pass a law only to have the next come along and immediately repeal it.  That type of stability and dependability create exactly the type of environment that is necessary for freedom and economic prosperity to thrive.

So despite the laughable insistence by the White House that this issue has been decided, the debate has only begun.  That is good news for any one who believes that the President has no business dictating what Americans spend their money on.  The bad news is, the threat posed to everyone’s freedom by our government’s crack-like dependence on executive agencies to make laws doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

H/T to Tina Korbe at Hotair.com.

Should union bosses have access to your personal information?

Have you ever had a company sell your contact information to another company and then suddenly you started getting e-mails about some product you’ve never heard of?  It’s annoying isn’t it?

Good news!  The National Labor Relations Board wants to require your employer to share your contact information with unions.  At least when companies pull this stuff they only send you junk mail – imagine what your friendly SEIU organizer might want to do with your information.

Board Chair Mark Pearce is introducing a series of new regulations. One of these regulations, if passed, would require businesses to surrender their employee’s personal contact information to campaigning union heads.

“If the National Labor Relations Board gets its way, companies could be forced to hand over your contact information, whether you like it or not, to union leaders,” Fox host Neil Cavuto said. “Union leaders having access to your phone number, your email address?”

It’s hard to say exactly how this new regulation will help the government do its job of protecting your freedom – and it’s even harder to find the place in the Constitution that authorizes the executive branch to force a business to do something like this.

Unfortunately, it’s become common for nonsense regulations to be proposed and there is virtually nothing that regular Americans can do to stop them.  This is exactly the type of situation that is created when the principles in the Constitution are ignored.  Our Constitution was written in a way that protects citizens from the government.  But when we allow it to be violated, it doesn’t take long before we are faced with this kind of situation where the government wants to subject us to undeserved union harassment and there is nothing we can do about it.

This particular case is a perfect illustration of how the disregard our public officials have for the Constitution poses a serious threat to your freedom.

We all learned in school that our government is split up into three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial (they do still teach that much in public schools at least, right?).  That wasn’t an accident.

There are three jobs that any government has to be able to perform in order to function: it has to be able to make laws, enforce the law, and judge the law.  Without any one of those, a government isn’t able to do its job.  By giving each of those jobs to a different branch, the Founders made sure that no branch could run the government by itself.  So if one branch becomes corrupt, it can’t take the country down a horribly oppressive road without the cooperation of the other two.

Maintaining that separation of powers is critical because any time one branch is allowed to do more than one of those jobs, it becomes much easier for the government to get out of control.  In the Federalist Papers, James Madison explained that any time one person or group of people is able to exercise all three functions of government, that is the very definition of tyranny.

Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines tyranny as:

TYR’ANNY, n.

1. Arbitrary or despotic exercise of power; the exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice, or not requisite for the purposes of government. Hence tyranny is often synonymous with cruelty and oppression.

2. Cruel government or discipline; as the tyranny of a master.

3. Unresisted and cruel power.

4. Absolute monarchy cruelly administered.

5. Severity; rigor; inclemency.

Maybe it’s just me, but none of those options sound particularly good.

But look at what we’ve done with executive agencies like the NLRB.  In this situation, the NLRB is proposing regulations that would require your employer to share your personal information.  So it is making laws.  A quick visit to the NLRB web site shows that it is also judging laws and enforcing laws.  Now what would Madison call that again?

If you’ve ever wondered why we are getting so many ridiculous regulations in recent years – there’s your answer.  As a nation, we’ve completely disregarded both the Constitution and the protection that is provided by the separation of powers.

In his book The Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu brilliantly laid out the dangers involved in concentrating the powers of government:

“When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.” (emphasis mine)

In other words, if all of the power is put in the hands of one group of people and those people come up with destructive or oppressive policies, there is almost nothing that anyone can do to stop them.

Look at it this way: imagine that the NLRB passes a ridiculous, oppressive regulation (a real stretch, I know).  Then, someone from the NLRB does an investigation and finds that you violated that regulation.  You get upset and decide you want to fight the charge so you take your case in front of an administrative law judge from… the NLRB!!

You don’t have to be terribly creative to see how that type of process could be abused.  After all, there’s a reason that the term “judge, jury, and executioner” doesn’t have a positive connotation.

Supporters of this system will argue that it doesn’t violate the separation of powers because Congress still has the power to confirm appointments to executive agencies and oversees their actions.  But even if you buy that really weak argument, President Obama killed half of it when he made his latest (unconstitutional) recess appointments.  Remember – three members of the NLRB that will be considering this proposal to make your information available to unions were appointed earlier this year when Obama sidestepped Congress.

Unfortunately, this idea of Congressional oversight doesn’t offer us any real protection for our freedom either.  Does anyone honestly believe that we have members of Congress – or even their staffs – sitting in Washington, D.C. diligently looking through the regulations that get passed?

Well no one should believe that because it would be physically impossible.  We now have an army of bureaucrats in our government that is pumping out regulations like it’s a factory.  In fact, when the Justice Department did a study to find out how many regulations there are, it concluded that it was impossible to count them all.

To clarify – the federal government says it is impossible to count all of the regulations our government has passed but you are expected to comply with every single one of them.  So you could easily find yourself in some serious trouble for violating a regulation that you never knew existed.  Can you see how having that many regulations is a threat to your freedom?

The cumbersome law-making process that’s created in our Constitution isn’t a flaw that politicians should be trying to get around.  It is a feature that protects your liberty.  By going through deliberate process in order to pass a law, that makes it much easier for regular citizens to keep an eye on what is happening and hold their representatives accountable.

Beyond that, slowing down the law-making process does put some outer limit on the level of intrusion the government can have on your personal life.  If Congress has to actually pass all of their own laws instead of relying on executive agencies, it would be a lot tougher for them to find time to dictate the speed your toilet flushes, the proper height for a stairway railing, or God only knows what other parts of our lives are being regulated now.  (Of course, all of this assumes that our representatives are doing stupid things like reading the bills that they pass before the vote.)

At this point in history, there are certain aspects of government that we know are required to protect freedom and separation of powers is one of them.  Anytime that we violate that principle of separation, there will be consequences.

Right now, the consequences for allowing executive agencies to us all three functions of government could not be clearer.  In addition to a growing mountain of restrictive regulations that no one can even count, we are now facing an NLRB that wants to share our personal information with union bosses and there is basically nothing we can do about it.

If we as citizens have any hope of regaining control of our government – and our liberty – then somehow we are going to have to find a way to put this regulatory genie back in the bottle.

 

Atheist lawsuit demonstrates hypocrisy

According to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a militant atheist group from Madison, WI, atheists have a right never to be offended by anything religious… and the rest of us have a right to adjust our lives to ensure that we don’t harm their dainty sensibilities.  Sounds fair.

Here is the sequence of events that recently took place involving the FFRF:

  • Jessica Ahlquist, a 16 year old student and atheist in Rhode Island, sued her school district over a banner that she found overly religious and offensive.  FFRF supported her effort but wasn’t involved in the lawsuit.  Earlier this month, District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux ruled in Ms. Ahlquist’s favor that the banner had to be removed.
  • The FFRF tried to send Ahlquist flowers to congratulate her on her victory, but three florists refused to take the order.  The atheist group is now planning to sue the florists.

These folks are adamant when it comes to their belief in this mythical idea of Freedom from Religion.  But when it comes to the florists, somehow they don’t believe in a Freedom from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  Consistent!

This group is such a joke that they are basically a self-parody.  The people at FFRF are so singularly focused on their own perceived rights that they have absolutely no respect for the rights of others.

This organization doesn’t see the hypocrisy in backing someone who used  the government to ensure that atheists never have to be around anything that offends them, then turning right around and trying to use the government to force religious people to be around something that offends them.  The complete disregard that FFRF has for the rights and beliefs of others is stunning.

Here’s the funniest part: despite all the fanatical claims of discrimination, these florists weren’t even refusing to do business with FFRF because they were atheists. They refused the order because FFRF was adding a bunch of insane requests to the order:

The florists, though, disagree with [FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor’s] stance on the matter. Turnto10.com reports that Raymond Santilli of Flowers by Santilli, one of the companies the FFRF attempted to order from, explains that a foundation representative told him that the person delivering the flowers might need police protection. Additionally, he was apparently told that the person would potentially need identification to enter the home.

“We refused the order because we really don’t want to cross lines,” Santilli said. ”If I send flowers there, somebody may get upset with us and retaliate against us.”

Wow – FFRF told them that accepting the order would require police protection and they refused?  I’m shocked!!  But yeah, I’m sure it was the atheism that was the problem.

That should tell you all you need to know about the FFRF and what it stands for.  They don’t exist for the purpose of defending the rights of atheists.  They go around the country looking for any possible situation they can exploit to force their values on other people.

It’s long past time that we start recognizing groups like FFRF for what they are and challenging them at every opportunity.  We can no longer back down out of fear of a lawsuit or to avoid being politically incorrect.  If we don’t, the values of our entire society will be determined by a very tiny – yet radical – minority.

More judicial tyranny in Sharia law ruling

When judges are deciding cases in American courts, you’d think we would want to limit them to using laws that were enacted by our elected representatives.  Not so according to U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange.  In fact, she believes it could actually be unconstitutional.

In the 2010 election, the voters of Oklahoma approved an amendment to that state’s constitution that would prohibit judges from consulting international law or religious law in making their decisions.  Of course, the primary concern for its authors – and the main source of controversy – is that this measure specifically states that it would ban the use of Islamic Sharia law in courts.

It seems reasonable that Oklahomans would want to force judges to only use laws that they had some hand in creating.  But Judge Miles-LaGrange has blocked enforcement of the “Save our State” amendment because she believes it is likely unconstitutional.  And last week, a federal court in Denver upheld her decision.

Unfortunately, this is simply a case where opponents of the Save our State amendment are upset that they couldn’t win at the ballot box.  So now they are trying to use the courts as a way to overturn the will of the people.

It’s beyond clear that this amendment is Constitutional, so let’s look at some of the objections to it and why they are absurd:

It’s unnecessary – This one is my favorite.  Some critics of this amendment claim that, since judges aren’t supposed to consult international and religious law anyway, there’s no reason to prohibit it.  As the decision from the 10th Circuit explains:

“Appellants do not identify any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve. Indeed, they admitted . . . that they did not know of even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law or used the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, let alone that such applications or uses had resulted in concrete problems in Oklahoma.”

This is interesting.  At what point did it become a judge’s job to decide if a law was necessary?  If this is a new standard that judges are going to implement, I can’t wait to see it applied to the useless environmental regulations that progressives insist on passing.  Light bulb ban? Unconstitutional!  Stopping a development to save the snail darter?  Unconstitutional!  Limits on how much energy your cell phone charger can use? Unconstitutional!!!  Wow – this is going to be fun.

The point of this amendment was to reinforce the point that – even though judges were never given the power to consult other legal systems – they people of Oklahoma seriously don’t ever want them to do it.  If that is unconstitutional, then we definitely need to go back and revisit the First Amendment.

One of the major arguments against passing a Bill of Rights was that it was unnecessary.  Why should we pass amendments that prohibit the government from doing things it doesn’t have the authority to do in the first place?

As Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist #84:

“For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?  Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed.”

Despite Hamilton’s feelings that it was unnecessary, the Bill of Rights was adopted anyway.  Shockingly enough no judge has ruled those amendments unconstitutional for violating this mysterious “necessity clause” that no one can find but Judge Miles-LaGrange.

Just because a law or an amendment is unnecessary doesn’t make it unconstitutional.  Anyone with the background to become a federal judge ought to understand that.  Then again, maybe the judges in the 10th Circuit aren’t familiar with obscure examples like the Bill of Rights.

No judges are consulting Sharia law – Those who oppose the Save our State amendment love to demand that someone give them an example of Sharia law being cited in Oklahoma to prove the need for this law.  If there isn’t one, they claim, that must mean the only reason for passing it is an evil hate-mongering desire to discriminate against Muslims.

And while they are correct that no one in Oklahoma has cited Sharia law, other U.S. courts have.  In 2010 a man was accused of sexually assaulting his wife, but a New Jersey judge found that he didn’t do it based on Sharia law:

“This court does not feel that, under the circumstances, that this defendant had a criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault or to sexually contact the plaintiff when he did. The court believes that he was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.”

Fortunately, this ruling was overturned by a higher court.  But it is simply untrue to claim that “no one” is consulting Sharia law in making judicial rulings.  When you add that to the numerous times that our Supreme Court has cited international laws, it is beyond reasonable that citizens would want to make it clear that using foreign law is not a practice that is acceptable in Oklahoma.

It violates the Freedom of Religion – Apparently the argument here is, since the amendment specifically states that Sharia law is not to be used in court decisions, that unfairly discriminates against Islam.

That’s nonsense.  The relevant part of the First Amendment states that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

The purpose of this measure is to prohibit the use of all religious law in courts – so obviously it doesn’t violate the First Amendment by establishing a state religion in any conceivable way.

The plaintiff in this case, Muneer Awad, claims that as a Muslim it will restrict him from exercising his religion.  Once again, that’s nonsense.  This amendment bans judges from consulting Sharia law.  It’s not a ban on Sharia law.  If the plaintiff wants to follow Sharia law in his personal life, he has every right to do so all he wants (provided that he doesn’t break the law in the process).  But he doesn’t have a right to have his belief system codified into law or recognized as law in a court.

This amendment doesn’t establish a state religion nor does it prohibit the plaintiff – or anyone else – from exercising his religion – so it clearly doesn’t violate the First Amendment.  This isn’t complicated.

Perhaps my favorite critique of the Save our State amendment comes from University of Oklahoma law professor Rick Tepker.  He managed to combine smug, self-righteous arrogance with mind-blowing stupidity in a way that makes me smile every time I read his comments:

“Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don’t cry,” said University of Oklahoma law professor Rick Tepker. “I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn’t that a precept of another culture and another nation?”

This guy has to be intentionally trying to make this issue confusing.  No, the passing of this amendment doesn’t mean that judges can no longer consult the Ten Commandments in their decision making – because they shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

Sure, the Ten Commandments make up part of the foundation for our legal system.  Yes, they provide a great source of inspiration for the values that have made this nation great.  And they are a brilliant source of wisdom to guide us while we are making our laws.  But judges should not be citing the Ten Commandments as the basis of their decision making.  That’s why we have laws.

In other words, a judge can’t decide to convict someone of – say – adultery because it violates the 7th Commandment.  There would actually have to be a law prohibiting adultery.

Muslims won’t be able to have their wills executed properly – This argument is just outright silly.  Zombie at Pajamas Media nailed the reasons why:

In your will, you can leave your assets to anyone, for any reason. You can cite Muslim law, or your personal conscience, or a dream you once had, or baseless paranoia, or no reason whatsoever to leave all your assets to your children, or your cat, or the Flat Earth Society, or even leave instructions to have it all buried with you in your casket. If the will is determined to be a valid will, no ban on Sharia will be able to challenge it.

The only exception to that is when a person wants something done in their will that would violate the law.  In that case, it doesn’t matter if this amendment is upheld or not – the will shouldn’t be executed either way.

The fact that two courts have blocked the Save our State amendment from being enacted is simply judicial tyranny.  The only explanation for the ruling in this case is that the judges don’t approve of this law politically, so they’ve have created an excuse to block it.

It is this type of ruling – where judges allow their own point of view to take over instead of staying faithful to the intent of the Constitution – that has rendered the First Amendment almost unrecognizable.  Originally, the First Amendment was intended to ensure that the government had no ability to restrict any individual in practicing their religion or to establish a state religion.  According to modern judges, that same amendment now means that a student can’t even mention the word God during a speech at his high school graduation… but hey, we must leave the door open to using the Koran as a law book in courts of law.

Gosh, I can’t imagine why the voters of Oklahoma felt the need to further instruct judges on the limits of their power.

The part of James O'Keefe's video that no one is talking about

James O’Keefe’s latest video – in which several election officials in New Hampshire handed out ballots for dead people – has a lot of people talking about the issue of requiring photo ID at polling places.  But for me, it immediately brings up a different question.

Why should it be illegal to videotape public officials?

When some local politicians in New Hampshire found out that election officials had been handing out ballots for voters who were already dead, they were outraged… with O’Keefe!

For example, look at the reaction of Nashua City Clerk Paul Bergeron:

“They recorded it without election officials’ knowledge, which apears to be a violation of our New Hampshire wiretapping codes, and some of these are out of state residents, so I don’t know if violations of wiretapping or ID theft could hold up in court, but if they crossed state lines to commit these crimes, it may be a federal crime as well. This is serious; we won’t tolerate voter fraud, regardless of what the intent might be,” Bergeron said.

“If these are New Hampshire residents they should lose their right to vote forever, in addition to fines or imprisonment. I take it seriously, and people shouldn’t dismiss this as just a harmless stunt; it’s not,” Bergeron said.

Wow – this guy takes fraud really seriously!  Any time fraud happens he’s pounding his desk demanding that something be done about it.  Except that, I haven’t been able to find one quote from him expressing even the slightest concern about how easy it was for someone to walk into a polling place and get a fraudulent ballot.

If that seems inconsistent, it is.  And a quick look at the Nashua web site will tell you exactly why Bergeron is furious about the undercover video that was taken… but reluctant to talk about how vulnerable this election was to fraud:

[The City Clerk’s Office] conducts all local, state and national elections…

So Bergeron isn’t really angry that someone allegedly broke a random law about videotaping public officials.  He’s angry because someone is spotlighting the fact that he didn’t do enough to ensure the integrity of this election.

Now that his ineffectiveness is getting publicity, rather than take responsibility, Bergeron is attacking James O’Keefe – plain and simple.

Another politician who’s outraged and demanding that O’Keefe and his associates be “prosecuted to the full extent of the law” is New Hampshire Governor John Lynch.  Why?  Last year he vetoed a bill that would have required a person to show photo ID in order to vote.  In hindsight, maybe Lynch is realizing that that wasn’t the best decision.

In reality, neither of these guys are genuinely outraged by this voter fraud.  Their reaction can be explained with three letters: C-Y-A.  That’s all it is.  They are angry that someone is drawing attention to their ineptitude so they are lashing out at the person doing it.

This perfectly demonstrates why we as citizens need to be legally able to videotape our public officials.  Unfortunately, this type of reaction is common when someone in a position of authority is challenged because people in power will often do whatever they need to do to hold on to that power.

Our elected officials have a lot more resources at their disposal than the average citizen and can even use their position in government to retaliate against anyone who exposes their shortcomings. Because of the enormous power that comes simply from being in government, we as citizens need to have the most powerful defense available to us – video tape.

But this is about much more than just defending ourselves from being persecuted by out of control politicians.  Video is also by far the most effective way for individuals to create change in the policies of government.  In fact, O’Keefe’s video has already prompted an investigation.

As New Hampshire’s unfortunately named Assistant Attorney General explained:

According to the Union Leader, state Associate Attorney General Richard Head said his office became aware of the effort on Election Day and began investigating immediately.

“That investigation is ongoing,” he said. “Based on the information received on Election Day and the information on the video, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of voting procedures with the Secretary of State.”

Now do you think O’Keefe would have gotten an immediate reaction like that if he had obtained ballots for dead people and then written an article about it?

What if he had interviewed election officials and written about that?

How about if he had written a letter to the Attorney General?

Of course not.  If he had used any or even all of those methods there is no way that Richard Head would already be reviewing the voting procedures.  That is the power of video.

It all comes down to the balance of power between the people and the government – and right now the scales are tipped way too far in favor of the government.  Because of that, videotaping public officials is a tool that we must have at our disposal if we are going have any chance of properly holding our government accountable.

What recess appointment power?

Since the moment President Obama announced his appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Board and the National Labor Relations Board, there has been an ongoing debate over whether or not the Senate was in recess when these appointments were made.  The whole spectacle has been really interesting – but it’s basically irrelevant in this situation.

A better question to be asking at this point is – doesn’t it seem odd that the Founders would require the President to get his appointments confirmed by the Senate… and then let him just do whatever he wants through recess appointments?  Why would they do something that seems so illogical.

The short answer: they didn’t.

If a vacancy in the executive branch opens up while the Senate is in recess, then the president has the power to appoint someone to serve temporarily.  But unless a vacancy actually occurs while the Senate is out of session, the president has absolutely no power of recess appointment.

Don’t believe it?  The Constitution is pretty clear on the topic:

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Article 2, Section 2

That clause couldn’t any more straightforward.  But in case there is still any doubt, Alexander Hamilton explained the purpose of this clause in Federalist #67 as well:

The ordinary power of appointment is confined to the President and Senate JOINTLY, and can therefore only be exercised during the session of the Senate; but as it would have been improper to oblige this body to be continually in session for the appointment of officers and as vacancies might happen IN THEIR RECESS, which it might be necessary for the public service to fill without delay, the succeeding clause is evidently intended to authorize the President, SINGLY, to make temporary appointments “during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.” (emphasis in original)

The fact that the three appointments the president made to the NLRB are unconstitutional is not up for debate.  But Obama did make a weak attempt to argue that his appointment of Richard Corday to the CFPB is different because it’s a new agency and it can’t function without a director.

Unfortunately for the president, he’s dead wrong on that point as well:

“It has been held by that venerable body [the Senate], that if new offices are created by Congress, the president cannot, after the adjournment of the senate, make appointments to fill them.  The vacancies do not happen during the recess of the senate.” (emphasis in original text)

William Rawle, A View of the Constitution of the United States 1825

And:

By “vacancies” they understood to be meant vacancies occurring from death, resignation, promotion, or removal.  The word “happen” had relation to some causality, not provided for by law.  If the senate are in session, when offices are created by law, which as of yet have not been filled, and nominations are not then made to them by the president, he cannot appoint to such offices during the recess of the senate, because the vacancies did not happen during the recess of the senate.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution 1833

So the purpose of recess appointments was in no way intended to give the president a way to get around Senate decisions that he doesn’t like (shocker!) – it was to ensure that the government can continue to function if something unexpected happens in the executive branch while the Senate is out of town.  Now that makes a lot more sense!

Considering that President Obama is supposed to be a Constitutional scholar, you’d think he’d already know something basic like that.  I guess an education from Columbia and Harvard isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

If it was, he should already know that the system for confirming appointments wasn’t created by accident.  It has an essential purpose – to limit the power of the president.  More specifically, it was designed to limit the power of presidents who say things like this:

“I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Mr. Obama said in Shaker Heights, drawing applause from his audience. “When Congress refuses to act and as a result hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”

This kind of mindset is exactly why the system of checks and balances in the Constitution is so critical to protecting our freedom.  He is determined to appoint political cronies to certain executive agencies regardless of their qualifications (or lack thereof).  We can only imagine what he’d be doing if he wasn’t being restricted by that darned Constitution thingy.

When the Founders required Senate approval for those nominations, they were trying to force the president to nominate high quality candidates and to prevent him from using appointments as political favors, among other things.  So, for example, if the president started passing out appointments to reward political donors the Senate has the power to stop him from doing that.

But if the president has the power to just install anyone he wants during a recess every time the Senate rejects his nominee, the whole system of checks and balances falls apart.  At a time when the president has actually come out and announced that it is his intention to ignore the separation of powers and grab as much power as possible, the system of checks and balances is more important than ever… and our liberty is in serious danger.

This is where the hyper-partisan crowd starts screaming, “But, but, but Bush did the same thing when he made John Bolton a recess appointment!!”  Yep.  And it was unconstitutional when Bush did it too.  The fact that Bush violated the Constitution isn’t an appropriate reason for Obama to double down on the illegality.

If we accepted the logic of the folks who argue that these appointments are acceptable because there’s a precedent, that would mean that Obama would be justified in rounding up all the Japanese people in the country and putting them in internment camps… just because FDR did it once.  Obviously, that would be absurd.

As a nation we need to be asking ourselves if the Constitution actually means something or if we’d rather be governed entirely by precedents that are usually set by politicians who are trying to enlarge their own power.

The Constitution was carefully designed to protect your freedom – while relying solely on precedent provides no limit on the amount of power the government can have over your life.  We ought to be careful in choosing which one we want to govern us because once we go down the road to tyranny there’s no turning back.

Hey, let's just blindly trust that Obama will do the right thing

What happened to our healthy distrust of government?

The most basic principle of liberty is that it is impossible to create or maintain a government that protects freedom without understanding human nature.  Despite that, the political class in this country wants us to completely ignore everything we know about the flaws of human nature when it comes to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

For example, it’s in our nature to take advantage of each other and do bad things.  Think of how toddlers play – they don’t have to be taught to steal.  It’s just natural for them to go over to other children and take what they want.  They have to be taught not to steal.

Most of us learn to control those kinds of instincts, but not all of us do.  Because of that, if you give the government an opportunity to grab more power, sooner or later it is going to do it.  To protect against these flaws in human nature, we must write our laws with the assumption that the government is run by bad people who will try to abuse those laws.  That way, when someone comes along who does have bad intentions there are already safeguards in place.

Despite all of this, those in the political establishment have chosen to label anyone who raises a concern over NDAA or SOPA as paranoid conspiracy theorists.  It’s as if they are so preoccupied with sounding “rational” that they’ve lost all common sense.

Side note: Who is the political class or political establishment?  It’s the group of people who arrogantly argue for the status quo as the only reasonable option.  The mainstream media and leadership of both political parties are made up almost entirely of establishment types.

Identifying people with this mindset is simple.  It’s like the old theory on the crazy people in your family.  Everyone has at least one crazy person in their family.  You’re thinking of them right now… and if no one immediately comes to mind, look in the mirror.

If you read my mention of the political establishment, chuckled smugly and said, “What political establishment?”, well…

Is it really that hard to imagine – given all that we’ve seen throughout our history – a crisis happening that allows politicians to point to NDAA to say, “Gosh, we really don’t want to detain American citizens… but we have to for security purposes.”  Never let a good crisis go to waste, right?

Or with SOPA, access to a web site can be blocked simply on the accusation that it is enabling copyright infringement.  Not after it has been proven.  Or after the owner of the site has the opportunity to face his accuser.  The site can be blocked simply based on an accusation.

Is it that hard to imagine that a politician who is dealing with a particularly critical web site during campaign season might find a way to “accuse” that site of enabling copyright infringement in order to get it blocked?

Are these scenarios likely?  No.  But they are certainly plausible.  And that‘s enough to prove that these bills need to be rewritten.

Can there really any question that there are politicians will take every opportunity we give them to abuse their powers at a time when the president is desperately trying to bastardize the term “recess” in an attempt to get around the separation of powers?

This is the same president who recently announced that he was scouring through law books looking for every opportunity he has to circumvent Congress and do what he wants.  So it’s not “paranoid” or “conspiratorial” to believe that politicians will look for loopholes or poorly worded laws that they can exploit for their own benefit.

These two incidents of presidential over-reach ought to serve glaring examples of exactly why we need to be cautious about any power that is granted to government.

Our self-proclaimed intellectual betters in the political class seemed to have forgotten two very important lessons:

1. Politicians who intend to take away your freedom rarely come out and announce it beforehand.  If they did, they would run into a lot of resistance – which would make it tougher for them to achieve their goal.  That’s why they tend to disguise oppressive measures in laws that seem benign on the surface.

Sure, proponents of these bills might claim that they address very worthwhile problems, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be suspicious of them.  It’s always wise to question what the government is doing – especially when it is being given more power.

2. Dangerous legislation is often passed by politicians who have the best of intentions.  Today’s members of Congress may be 100% sincere in their belief that the NDAA and SOPA will be good for the country.  But the fact that this group of politicians plans to use them honorably doesn’t stop the next administration – or the one after that – from exploiting the sloppy way in which these bills were written.

It is for these reasons that – during the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788 – William Grayson warned us that:

“Power ought to have such checks and limitations as to prevent bad men from abusing it.  It ought to be granted on the supposition that men will be bad; for it may eventually be so.”

Unfortunately, NDAA and SOPA have been written with the completely opposite mindset.  They seem to assume that politicians will always be good and never try to take advantage of the openings these bills provide for oppressive, political enforcement.

The need to understand human nature didn’t end when the Constitution was finished.  We need to keep it at the front of our minds as we create legislation today as well.  It’s only when we understand the flaws of human nature that we are able to create laws that will protect our freedom in the long run.

Granted, writing laws that take human nature into account and aren’t open to abuse takes a lot of time and effort.  But maybe members of Congress could find the time to do that if they focused on crafting a few good laws each session instead of trying to ram as many 2,000 page monstrosities down our throat as possible.

As it stands, NDAA and SOPA are sloppily written and leave open the possibility for abuse.  In a situation where the penalty for sloppiness is the potential destruction of our freedom, I expect a whole heck of a lot more clarity that what we’ve gotten with these bills.  If the political establishment wants to interpret that concern over the flippant attitude Congress has take toward our liberty, well, that explains a lot about why our country is in the shape it is right now.

Virginia's Light Governor Gains Heft

The bad old volcano days are but a distant memory for Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. That’s when he was trapped in Florence Italy for almost a week during April 2010. European air travel was canceled after an Icelandic volcano, with a name no Virginian could pronounce, spewed ash and gas into the skies over Europe, canceling the Lt. Gov’s flight plans.
Now you may contend a politician stranded by hot air is a situation rich in irony, but it’s not funny when you are the strandee. The particularly humiliating part was almost no one noticed.
No Amber Alerts for Bill Bolling. No thwap, thwap, thwap from helicopters searching overhead. Just an empty coffee cup, abandoned on a lonely desk in Richmond. The Commonwealth even managed to conduct both a special session of the legislature and the annual Shad Planking in Bolling’s absence, with no one — other than a few thousand shad — inconvenienced in the least.
But it’s a situation that won’t be repeated. On Election Day Democrats suffered losses in both the Senate and House, but the loss of two Senate seats created a 20–20 tie, which makes Bolling ‘Mr. Tie Breaker’ and rockets him from vestige to Viceroy.
Senate Republicans are considering requiring Bolling to wear one of those home detention ankle bracelets so they can locate him at a moment’s notice.
Virginia’s absentee ideological nanny, The Washington Post, feared that in spite of Senate Democrat’s gerrymandering efforts, an ignorant electorate might put Republicans in control of all three branches of government.
The WaPost tried its darndest to warn us regarding the dangers of conservative government. In endorsement editorials Democrats were glowingly portrayed as: “smart,” “sober,” “sane,” “savvy,” “sensible” and “grown–ups.” Conservative Republicans, on the other hand, were: “incendiary,” “loopy,” “reckless,” “extreme,” “partisan” and “over–the–top.”
But if anyone is out of step with Virginia, it’s the WaPost.
In Prince William County the Post endorsed Del. Luke Torian (D–Dumfries) described as an incumbent who “must woo a swath of new voters in this redrawn district.” What is not said is the district was designed to elect a black delegate, new voters or not.
Staunch conservative Del. Bob Marshall, (R–PWC) also had a newly drawn district that removed much of his base and put him in a politically precarious situation. Our betters at the WaPost describe Marshall as a “loopy…take–no–prisoners culture warrior.” Naturally, since Marshall is one of the Republicans too extreme for Northern Virginia, WaPost endorses his “smart, sane, sober, moderate” opponent.
Torian wins re–election with 61 percent of the vote and Marshall also won with an almost identical 60 percent of the vote, so who is out–of–step with whom?
We have the same phenomenon in the Senate. Incumbent Sen. Chuck Colgan (D–PWC) gets the endorsement as a “civil, widely respected and deeply committed lawmaker.” In Loudoun County’s open senate race, conservative Republican Dick Black is characterized as, “one of the legislature’s most over–the–top ideologues.” His Democrat opponent is endorsed as “a cogent, serious–minded businessman who has common–sense proposals.”
Strangely enough, on election night Colgan wins by 55 percent, while non–incumbent Black wins his hotly contested seat by 57 percent. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Virginia voters support conservatives.
Bill ‘Tie–breaker’ Bolling is soon to discover with his great responsibility comes the potential for great blame if anything conservative should occur on his watch.
The WaPost editorial page has already started its ‘not so fast, buster’ routine, complaining, “Few Republicans candidates emphasized (social) issues on the campaign trail.” Consequently, according to the WaPost, the GOP is not allowed to introduce any social legislation in the next session.
This shows a basic lack of understanding with regard to branding, which could account for the Post’s loss of subscribers and money over the past few years.
Voters are smart enough to understand a conservative Republican is pro–life, pro–traditional marriage, pro–law enforcement, pro–Second amendment, pro–business, anti–tax increase and anti–illegal alien.
During a campaign the positions that matter most to the voters at that time are the positions discussed. Just because a Republican doesn’t mention abortion during the campaign, it does not mean he’s hoping for an appointment to the board of Planned Parenthood.
Voters knew what they were getting when they voted Republican.
Meanwhile, if Bolling wants to stay in the good graces of the WaPost, he would be wise to urge the Senate to double the funding for ‘public broadcasting’ and book another flight with Volcano Travel

Imagine. No Religion, too.

There’s a woman who lives near me with a personalized license plate that proclaims she’s a WICCAN. If her idea of theology is a penetrating discussion with a pecan tree and she wants to proclaim her lasting commitment to cellulose; that’s her right. Even though the sentiment appears on a plate issued by the Commonwealth.
She’s joined by motorists displaying plates with DRUID, PAGAN and even VEGAN.
Although the thought processes behind the adoption of these belief systems are opaque to me — much like the decision to go out and get a tattoo — knowing religion–oriented plates are out there is not disturbing.
However, one can’t say that for atheists who are very easily disturbed. Evidently their dedication to their lack of faith is so fragile that exposure to slightest whiff of Christianity has the potential to propel them backwards into darkness and superstition. The next thing you know they’re eating Wednesday night dinner in a Baptist Fellowship Hall and wondering why there are never any salt shakers on the table.
Atheists and the separation–of–church–and–state crowd are busy banning Bibles in schools, crosses from Utah roadsides and the phrase “God bless you” from funerals in a Houston VA cemetery. Consequently, they aren’t focused on license plates, but I have a feeling it’s on a To–Do list.
Readers who rely on the news media for their Constitution instruction may not know this, but the document is not actively anti–religion. The founders were believers and the thought of banning government from even the most glancing connection with God would have seemed absurd to them.
The Constitution only prohibits the establishment of a state religion, for example: Emperor worship during the Roman Empire or the Anglican Church in England under Henry VIII.
The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution. This atheist catchphrase originated in a private letter written by Thomas Jefferson and has no more force of law than this column.
And Jefferson, bless his heart, had his idiosyncrasies. Acting as the Gutenberg of the scissors and a paste–pot set, Jefferson produced his own Bible by literally cutting out the parts he didn’t like and keeping what he did.
This may make him the first Unitarian Universalist and would probably qualify Jefferson to be ordained as an Episcopal bishop, but it does not make him a reliable source on the religious views of the founders.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume the religion scrubbers are correct and the Constitution justifies purging all trace of worship from the public square. The question is what type of government do they think will result?
A cool, clean empire of intellect ruled by Mr. Spock? Maybe, but China is more likely.
This would make many progressives very happy, including those in the White House. China is a communist government run by experts. (A two–fer in progressive circles.) These experts don’t get bogged down in partisan gridlock caused by annoying Republicans who smoke. Decisions are made based on science, not politics. Plus, the experts are Asian and everyone knows how smart they are.
China is also rich. And it has bullet trains that fly between major cities. State–sponsored abortion is legal. (You could almost call it human sacrifice, but that sounds too much like religion.) And since there is only one party, there are no messy political campaigns and tacky commercials.
China is everything a secular humanist could wish for, until a toddler gets hit by a truck.
Then you learn the price for removing religion from the public square. 18 different people in Guangzhou watched as a two–year–old girl, who wandered into traffic, was smashed by delivery van. They left her lying bloody in the street until she was run over by a truck. Finally, after seven long minutes, an elderly scrap peddler, who may not have had anything to lose, dragged her out of the street.
People don’t help injured two–year–olds in China because helping others is not state–approved behavior. In 2007 a young man was sued after he helped an elderly woman with a broken leg to the hospital. The Wall Street Journal reports the court ordered the rescuer to pay 40 percent of the woman’s medical bills because “according to common sense” he would not have helped her if he had not been in some way responsible for her fall.
This is social Darwinism as a governing philosophy. Altruism only creates suspicion in a government where religion is banned.
This is why over time the religion haters won’t like the government that results from their efforts. Because when you jettison God you also jettison the Good Samaritan.