Tag Archives: Federalism

Perry, Paul & Huckabee at CPAC 2014

Gen. John Bell Hood, another Texan that could get a crowd moving.

Gen. John Bell Hood, another Texan that could get a crowd moving.

Gen. Robert E. Lee used Texas infantry as his reliable shock troops during the Civil War. If Hood’s division couldn’t drive the Yankees from a position, then no troops could.

Evidently CPAC schedulers are of the same opinion.

On both of the first two days of the conservative conference Texas speakers were used to soften up the crowd for all the speakers that followed.

On Thursday it was Sen. Ted Cruz (R–TX) and on Friday it was Gov. Rick Perry (R–TX).

Perry hit the stage cold to the tune of AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ and did so without anyone to introduce him. Perry is now sporting black nerd glasses that make him look more intellectual without softening him up so much that he looks like pajama boy in the Obamacare ad.

The governor began by stating that on the battlefield of ideas “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” Then there was a long pause, which started to produce debate flashbacks for me, but it proved to be just a slow Internet connection.

Besides being another step on the stairway to political redemption, the speech was a rousing defense of federalism. Perry says for the solution to the problems facing the country we should not look to Washington, but instead we should look to the states that “are laboratories of innovation.”

And the states provide a contrast between two visions. In the blue vision the state “plays an increasing roll in the lives of citizens.” Taxes are high, public employee pensions are out of control and jobs are leaving.

Perry contrasted that smothering philosophy with the red state vision where “freedom of the individual comes first and the reach of government is limited.” There taxes are low, spending is low and opportunity is high.

Then Perry did something surprising. On Friday when Chris Christie spoke the examples were mostly about him and about New Jersey. But that’s not what Perry did. He started off by giving other Republican governors credit for their good ideas and successful records.

He mentioned Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Rick Scott in Florida. Then Perry proceeded to list accomplishments particular to each.

Perry was halfway through his speech before he even mentioned Texas. He spoke first of the common denominator among all red state leaders, “Conservative governors who know freedom of the individual must come before the power of the state…the contrast is crystal clear.” He then used an example from the world of transportation. “If you rent a U–Haul to move your company it costs twice as much to go from San Francisco to Austin as it does the other way around, because you can’t find enough trucks to flee the Golden State.”

Only then did Perry say, “Let’s pick a large red state, shoot let’s pick Texas” as he began listing his accomplishments. This is one of the reasons Perry is so likable: He doesn’t appear to take himself too seriously. He, in contrast to Obama, is not The Great I Am.

His speech was full of humor, substance and energy. Perry has been on the comeback trail now for two years and he’s making progress. His demeanor and energy level is in marked contrast to that of the disastrous 2012 presidential campaign.

I have no way of knowing if he’s a terror to his staff or if he kicks the family dog, but you certainly can’t tell it from his personal appearances. If it wasn’t for his squishiness on illegals, I’d almost be ready to vote for Perry today.

I can’t say that for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Politically Huckabee is simply George Bush who can tell a joke. There are many things I admire about Huckabee: His faith, his conservative social values and his sense of humor in particular. But as president he would be spending at least as much as Bush and I see no indication that he’s ever seriously considered putting Uncle Sam on a diet.

And speaking of diets, Huckabee’s is evidently not going too well. In stark contrast to his former fit self, now if the occasion arose Huckabee could fill in quite nicely as Chris Christie’s body double.

Huckabee’s speech began on a discordant note. He was given the same 10 minutes as Rick Perry, but he wasted some of the time complaining about only getting 10 minutes. In contrast to Perry’s upbeat and dynamic address, Huckabee came off as slightly petulant.

His speech was structured around a series of “I knows” that included, “I know the IRS is a criminal organization. I know that life begins at conception. I know there’s a God and this nation would not exist if He had not been the midwife of its birth.”

He even obliquely addressed homosexual marriage when he quoted Mrs. Billy Graham who said, “If God does not bring fiery judgment on America, God will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Huckabee concluded with a final “I know” that brought back memories of his rocky beginning when he said, “I know my time is up and I must go.”

Diet jokes aside, he simply wasn’t a heavyweight on Day Two and if Huckabee is indeed running for president in 2016 this speech didn’t help his case.

Sen. Rand Paul (R–KY) was the other major league presidential candidate speech of the day. He had double the time allotted to Perry, yet I don’t think his speech had the same impact. They are two entirely different personalities. Paul comes off as somewhat remote and clinical when he speaks. He certainly says the right things and delivers a polished speech, but he doesn’t have the infectious enthusiasm of Rick Perry.

Personally I wonder how many of the reporters who pronounced Chris Christie as rehabilitated after the response to his speech the day before were around for Paul’s. The packed room was on its feet and cheering before the senator could say a word. Christie on the other hand had a much smaller crowd and response was polite until very late in his performance.

Paul’s speech was about liberty but it was also about sending a message to the Mitch McConnells, John McCains, Lindsey Grahams and other establishment RINOs. Paul asked the audience to “Imagine a time when our great country is governed by the Constitution. You may think I’m talking about electing Republicans, but I’m not. I’m talking about electing lovers of liberty.”

“It isn’t good enough to pick the lesser of two equals,” Paul explained. “We must elect men and women of principle and conviction and action who will lead us back to greatness. There is a great and tumultuous battle underway not for the Republican Party but for the entire country.

Then in a challenge to elected leaders and party supporters alike, Paul asked, “The question is will we be bold and proclaim our message with passion or will we be sunshine patriots retreating when we come under fire?”

Paul then focused on the NSA, data mining and the entire security mindset of the government, which he believes is dangerous. He referenced the Sons of Liberty from the Revolution who stood up to King George and predicted, “The Sons of Liberty would today call out to the president. ‘We will not submit. We will not trade our liberty for security. Not now. Not ever.’”

Getting down to cases with an audience that skewed toward youth and tech savvy, Paul explained, “If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance. I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business.”

His other examples of government overreach in the name of security included detention without a trial, individual warrants applied to a class of people, credit card data collection, cell phone metadata and other violations of the 4th Amendment.

The senator stated flatly “Government unrestrained by law becomes nothing short of tyranny.” Then he used Daniel Webster to show the fight for liberty has been an ongoing struggle that must be continued today. “Daniel Webster anticipated our modern day saviors who wish to save us from too much freedom. He wrote: ‘Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It’s hardly too strong to say the Con was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.’”

Paul wasn’t giving so much a speech, as he was Peter the Hermit asking the young people to join in a crusade. He has passionate ideas and beliefs, but Paul’s delivery is simply not as winning as that of Perry. One can be serious without being sepulchral.

It will be very interesting to follow the arc of both campaigns as I see Perry being a bigger threat to Paul than the other Texan, Ted Cruz.

The “Accomplishments” of Central Planners

As America continues to stumble headlong toward more government-directed “solutions”, it struck me how awfully people have fared under such actions with  the guise of help. While having fewer destructive and deathly effects, the current United States leader’s uncritical neglect of many people’s concerns, and unwavering sense of superiority, certainly mirrors the mindsets and machinations of those leaders who created much larger disasters. Throughout the 20th century, there were leaders who were so convinced of their own brilliance, that they did not need any critical thought or feel any need to change their perfect plans.

Convinced that he knew how to increase the grain output from some of the most fertile farmland in the world, a Georgian leader began issuing edicts and laws to increase food production. His agricultural policies led to the deaths of between five and eight million Soviet peasants. This leader used divisive tactics to play one class against another, telling the poorer that the richer were earning more than they ought to on the backs of the poorer.

The false narrative of kulaks taking advantage of peasants, saw reprisals and animus grow against the kulaks. The class warfare eventually grew so bitter, that the farming peasants were content to let the kulaks die where they lay. The Soviets leaders set up numerous laws, which delivered excessive penalties when they were broken. Something so innocent as harvesting spilled grain from the fields could land a person in a gulag for a year.  So terrible were the results of this planning, many of the records concerning it were kept sealed in archives for 60 years.

This “cult of perfect leadership” spread to another Marxist Utopia in the late 1950s. Mao Zedong’s visions for a capable and self-sustaining China met with harsh reality too. Mao followed the same flawed plan that led to the Soviet’s famine in the early 1930s. The “Great Leap Forward” included a period from 1958 to 1961, which saw deaths of between 15 and 43 million Chinese people.

The Chinese leadership simply told the people it would be better for them to eat less – and then attempted to force them to do so. The famine grew so bad in some areas, reports filtered out that people were turning to cannibalism to satiate their hunger (children were reportedly swapped between families, so they would not have to eat their own offspring). Despite the starvation, the Chinese planners kept true to that five-year plan.

Cuba and North Korea are two more centrally planned, dictatorial governments, who fail miserably to deliver on any promises that they make. Stuck in rampant poverty since the 1959 Castro coup, Cuba seems stuck in a time bubble of 1950s technology as well. The Cubans may have seen minor improvements in their economies since the early 1990s, but that could be blamed on forced change, due to the death of their biggest benefactor, the Soviet Union.

Perhaps the biggest event in Cuba was not any economic or humanitarian event, but, due to the closeness of Cuba to the Soviet Union, the near-nuclear war between super powers in 1961. Castro supported missiles in Cuba, and tried to prod Khrushchev into acting against the United States, too.

Xenophobic North Korean leaders rely on boogeymen to instill constant fear into their populace, and keep the people united against anyone but their oppressors (North Korean leaders). North Korea’s military is far more important than their civilians (but leaders have trouble feeding the military too). The government’s response to the disaster was to re-brand it – calling it the “Arduous March”, and attempting to equate lack of food to a willing sacrifice for the betterment of the country. As it stands now, North Korea still is very close to sliding into another famine, their children now suffer retarded growth, and the country relies heavily on grain imports from the U.N. and South Korea to feed its people.

So – these instances of flawed, failed, and fruitless leadership – what should we take away from them? That leadership is not perfect, should go without saying. The takeaway is this: that unquestioned leadership is a very dangerous thing. Whether the leadership uses force or charisma to further its aims matters little. Leaders in echo-chambers, without frequent and legitimate challenges to their authority, who hold a sense of superiority, can lead countries into very bad situations.

While the American media continues to fawn over Obama, and hang on his every word, the people who must live with the results of his executive orders and fellow democrats’  misleading words know better. America still has the checks and balances that the Founders gave us, but it remains more than ever, up to us to use them, despite what the media cheerleaders tell us, and despite what our politicians promise us.

Just do as you're told - it will all be better that way.

“Just do as you are told – it will all be better that way.” The mantra of the left

Justice Alito Stresses Federalism As Refuge from Usurpatory Government

 

With the Supreme Court and the future of constitutional government in doubt, it’s always reassuring to hear from the voices who espouse those views.  I’m an ardent optimist.  I have faith that the electorate will correct their decisions made on Nov. 6, and constrain this president’s pernicious agenda of implementing a hyper-regulatory progressive state.  The Federalist Society’s 30th Anniversary Gala last Thursday night featured Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who detailed how the legal opinions of those on the left threaten America’s constitutional bedrock: federalism.

To put it simplistically, the federal government is supreme in its sphere, as is the state government in their defined area.  There is overlap – and confusion.  However, Alito gave a robust defense of the doctrine.  While it’s seen better days, federalism in Alito’s view, promotes energetic and productive competition, protects liberty, and encourages experimentation.  He also reiterated that you do not have to buy the various treatises on constitutional law that run over a thousand pages –  and cost a considerable amount of money – to understand that congressional power is limited.  You just have to read the plain text of the U.S. Constitution to understand that point.

He then went on to detail various cases that have threatened this principle of federalism.  From the government being able to attach GPS monitors surreptitiously to your vehicles and calling it a search under the Fourth Amendment to facing the regulatory nightmare of having wetlands being designated in one’s backyard, the fight to keep the Madisonian experiment in limited government, and the principles of federalism un-imbrued continues with fragility.

We have four liberals, four conservatives, with Justice Alito included, and moderate Justice Kennedy on the bench, which isn’t a firm legal defense of the principles conservatives wish to see blemished.  And more fights will come.  One fight in particular that was highly salient – which was described more in depth by Justice Alito, concerned Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC.

In this case, Cheryl Perich was hired by the Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School, taught some lessons, contracted narcolepsy, took a leave of absence, and was subsequently replaced.  She sued under the American with Disabilities Act, however, the ministerial exception gave more latitude to religious institution in terms of hiring and firing processes.  The Court ruled unanimously that such an exception applied here, and therefore, discrimination lawsuits brought against religious institutions aren’t valid.

Well, The New York Times, to no one’s surprise, didn’t take too kindly to the decision.  But, the argument for Perich and The New York Times is disturbing.  Should courts be allowed to review cases, and make decisions based on legal and religious doctrines?  Is it up to a judge and jury to decide a termination?  If accepted, government would have been able to go deep into the dynamics of religious institutions, and the doctrines that guide them.  That’s gross overreach.For jurists to decide cases based solely on church doctrine, if this argument were accepted by the Court, and not law is insane.  As Justice Alito said at the dinner, it’s a “chilling” foray into this plausible episode of government intrusion.

This nation proudly and robustly defends the right to free speech enshrined in our First Amendment.  However, this case, and Citizens United, shows how some people on the left will try to alter the Constitution to fit their model on how they feel government should operate – or feel whole again.  Citizens United, the more controversial of the two cases, was boiled down to the government making the case the speech articulated or disseminated by the privileged few is protected, but isn’t for other parties in the country.  That’s perverse, and it doesn’t stop there.

Justice Alito concluded with a warning about the alternate vision we’re fighting against in the judiciary.  It’s a vision where federalism offers no refuge.  It’s an insufferable progressive state that stomps on religious institutions and freedoms.  It’s a government that can willingly seize private property.  Justice Alito vociferously made the case that the U.S. Constitution wasn’t meant to be malleable with a dependent, entitled society.  It was designed for the citizens operating within a socioeconomic fabric that stressed freedom and independence.  This document embeds certain rights, so that they can’t be easily removed from the political landscape.  Therefore, as Justice Alito alluded to, it’s integral to the survival of our freedom, and our commitment to be an open and prosperous society.

 

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.