Recently in Constitution Category
Megyn Kelly is bright, tough and courageous. While many in the media and punditry were running in fear of Muslim violence away from defending the free speech event in Garland, Texas, Megyn came out firing with both barrels for American values.
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The next meeting for Chatham Republicans is on Monday, December 1, 5 p.m., at the Chatham Community Center. We meet on the top floor in the Club Room, which is to the left of the Large Meeting Room.
Here's some of what we will cover:
1. Results of elections for U.S. Senate, Congress and all statewide offices and results of Barnstable County and Cape & Islands district elections. Chatham did well by the Republican candidates, the best in our 4th Barnstable district.
2. What we can learn from the national elections.
3. Is fraud in elections increasing? What's causing it? What's the cure? NH Senate election.
4. Early signs about a Baker administration.
5. Republican successes in the Massachusetts House and Senate.
6. The 2016 presidential elections: Who do you favor? Who do you think will be the Republican nominee? Who do you think will be the Democratic nominee?
8. Issues: Obama and immigration, Keystone pipeline, Obamacare, Ferguson
9. We need a new Treasurer since Sam Black has moved out of Chatham.
10. Recapping the activities of the Chatham Republicans throughout 2014.
We will convene promptly as 5 and aim to end promptly at 6:30.
Suggestions for discussion are welcome. Call Fran Meaney at 617 512 7743.
Chatham Republican Town Committee
Fran Meaney, Chairman 617 512 7743
Diane Bronsdon and Elaine Gibbs, Vice Chairs
Marie Acton, Secretary Sam Black, Treasurer
REPUBLICAN EVENT CALENDAR
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With academia in the grip of the far left, which is in league with Islam in attacking Western values and its Judeo-Christian foundations, freedom of speech is being choked off rather than have Islamist be offended.
The Closing of the Collegiate Mind
Opponents of free speech have chalked up many campus victories lately as ideological conformity marches on.
By RUTH R. WISSE in the Wall Street Journal
May 12, 2014
There was a time when people looking for intellectual debate turned away from politics to the university. Political backrooms bred slogans and bagmen; universities fostered educated discussion. But when students in the 1960s began occupying university property like the thugs of regimes America was fighting abroad, the venues gradually reversed. Open debate is now protected only in the polity: In universities, muggers prevail.
Assaults on intellectual and political freedom have been making headlines. Pressure from faculty egged on by Muslim groups induced Brandeis University last month not to grant Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the proponent of women's rights under Islam, an intended honorary degree at its convocation. This was a replay of 1994, when Brandeis faculty demanded that trustees rescind their decision to award an honorary degree to Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In each case, a faculty cabal joined by (let us charitably say) ignorant students promoted the value of repression over the values of America's liberal democracy.
Opponents of free speech have lately chalked up many such victories: New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly prevented from speaking at Brown University in November; a lecture by Charles Murray canceled by Azusa Pacific University in April; Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state and national-security adviser under the George W. Bush administration, harassed earlier this month into declining the invitation by Rutgers University to address this year's convocation.
Most painful to me was the Harvard scene several years ago when the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, celebrating its 50th anniversary, accepted a donation in honor of its former head tutor Martin Peretz, whose contributions to the university include the chair in Yiddish I have been privileged to hold. His enemies on campus generated a "party against Marty" that forced him to walk a gauntlet of jeering students for having allegedly offended Islam, while putting others on notice that they had best not be perceived guilty of association with him.
Universities have not only failed to stand up to those who limit debate, they have played a part in encouraging them. The modish commitment to so-called diversity replaces the ideal of guaranteed equal treatment of individuals with guaranteed group preferences in hiring and curricular offerings.
Females and members of visible minorities are given handicaps (as in golf). Courses are devised to inculcate in students the core lesson that (in the words of one recent graduate, writing online at the Huffington Post) "harmful structural inequalities persist on the basis of class, race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in the U.S." On too many campuses, as in a funhouse mirror, ideological commitment to diversity has brought about its opposite: ideological hegemony, which is much more harmful to the life of the mind than the alleged structural inequalities that social engineering set out to correct.
In 1995 I participated in a campus debate on affirmative action that drew so much student interest it had to be rerouted to Harvard's largest auditorium. This year I was asked by a student group to participate in a debate on modern feminism. Though I am not hotly engaged in the subject, I agreed and waited for confirmation, thinking it might be fun to consider a women's movement that has never graduated from sisterhood to motherhood. There followed several emails apologizing for the delay and finally a message acknowledging that no one could be found to take the pro-feminist side. Evidently, one of those asked had responded: "What is there to debate?" No wonder those who admit no legitimate opposition to their ideas feel duty-bound to shut down unwelcome speakers.
Because conservative students do not take over buildings or drown others out with their shouting, instructors feel free to mock conservatives in the classroom, and administrators pay scant attention when their posters are torn down or their sensibilities offended. As a tenured professor who does not decline the label "conservative," I benefit from this imbalance by getting to know some of the feistiest students on campus.
But these students need and deserve every encouragement from outside their closed and claustrophobic environs. As one of them put it to me, "There's more faculty interest in climate control than in the Western canon." Multiculturalism guarantees that courses on Islam highlight all the good that can be said of Muhammad and the Quran, but there is no comparable academic commitment to reinvigorating the foundational teachings of American liberal democracy or to strengthening the legacy bequeathed to us by "dead white males."
So far the university culture has not been able to destroy the two-party system, but its influence on the current administration in Washington gives some sense of what may lie ahead unless small "d" democrats—which these days means mostly conservatives—begin to take back the campus. Through patient but persistent means, they ought to help students introduce speakers, debates, demands for courses and all the intellectual firepower they can muster in favor of American exceptionalism, the moral advantages of a free economy and the need to protect democracy from enemies we are not afraid to name.
In short, let the university become as contentious as Congress. In Nigeria, Islamists think nothing of seizing hundreds of schoolgirls for the crime of aspiring to an education. Here in the United States, the educated class thinks nothing of denying an honorary degree to a fearless Muslim woman who at peril of her life, and in the name of liberal democracy, has insisted on exposing such outrages to the light. The struggle for freedom is universal; would that our universities were on its side.
Ms. Wisse, a professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard University, is the author of "Jews and Power" (Schocken, 2007) and "No Joke: Making Jewish Humor" (Princeton, 2013).
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If you want to understand why the Republicans are correct in battling against Obamacare and tying it to the debt crisis the nation is facing, read this article.
October 3, 2013
The rollout of ObamaCare and the subsequent government shutdown have engaged the attention of millions of Americans. Unfortunately, both issues are inconsequential compared to what will likely be another battle over raising the debt ceiling. Even more unfortunately, most Americans have little grasp of the economic issues that have brought us to the precipice for the second time in two years.
Most Americans do know the nation is $16.7 trillion in debt, but far fewer understand the implications of such debt. In fact, precious few Americans even know which nation underwrites more of our debt than any other. The overwhelming majority believes it is either China or Japan. The overwhelming majority couldn’t be more wrong. The largest underwriter of U.S. debt is the United States of America, courtesy of the Federal Reserve.
The Fed’s Keynesian-economics-on-steroids buying spree is called “Quantitative Easing” (QE). It consists of spending $85 billion per month, with no end in sight. Of that total, $40 billion is spent on mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion on longer-term Treasury securities.
Where does the Fed get the money to buy these securities? It “prints” money to buy them. To put this in household terms, the Fed is essentially paying down one credit card–by charging it to another credit card. During the Obama administration, QE, along with Congress spending additional revenue we don’t really have, has increased the national debt by an additional $6 trillion. QE has also debased the currency, since creating more currency makes each piece of currency worth less–on the way to becoming worthless.
The Fed has coupled this idea with a Zero Rate Interest Policy (ZIRP), thoroughly convinced that both agendas will “stimulate” the economy, because borrowing money is cheap, and the new money has to go somewhere. That “somewhere” has been the stock market, which has been pushed to record highs as a result. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow Keynesians believe that pumping up the market will result in a “trickle down” effect, as those Americans who feel wealthy with regard to their stock portfolios will spend money and create new jobs. The Fed has pursued QE in one form or another for five years.
During those same five years, the official unemployment rate has never dipped below 7.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That number is a fraud because it fails to acknowledge that we have lowest workforce participation rate in 35 years, and BLS doesn’t count the people who have given up looking for work as unemployed. If the workforce participation rate were the same as it was just before the financial crisis hit in 2008, the unemployment rate would be approximately 11.3 percent.
Furthermore, despite the nation being in a so-called recovery since 2009, we have record numbers of Americans receiving food stamps, record numbers collecting disability checks, and a record number of Americans living in poverty. Americans’ annual household income has also declined by 4.4 percent during the recovery, which is worse than the 1.8 decline that occurred during the recession.
As for inflation, the Fed claims it is under control. Americans might argue otherwise, considering the reality that food and fuel prices have gone up substantially under this administration. Yet many of those same Americans are unaware of the reality that food and fuel prices are not included when the government calculates the inflation rate. While not counting the price of fuel might have some validity, since many Americans use public transportation, every American has developed a habit of eating to sustain themselves.
In short, the Fed’s QE approach is nothing less than disastrous.
And despite everything you hear from this president, his administration, and the rest of the Democratic Party that purports to care for “ordinary Americans,” aka the middle class, it’s precisely the middle class that is being squeezed. ZIRP is a so-called “one-percenter’s” dream, because it pumps up the banks and Wall Street, even as the middle class that prefers not to invest its hard-earned money in the stock market can’t get decent return on savings anywhere else. On the other end of the spectrum, the aforementioned dependency class is also getting taken care of, due to the reality that the statist party is more than willing to countenance increasing numbers of Americans on the government dole in return for their loyalty.
This dual accommodation of both the financial and entitlement communities has engendered a monstrous amount of national debt, fueled by the record-setting, trillion dollar-plus annual deficits needed to pay for it. And despite the Fed’s money printing prowess, even they can’t pony up the kind of revenue necessary to underwrite the entire effort.
Thus we tax, and we do borrow from other nations.
On the tax side of the equation, those who pay them have done yeoman’s work. For the first 11 months of FY2013, the federal government received a record-setting $2.47 trillion in revenues. Yet they spent all of it, plus an additional $755 billion during the same period. Thus, on the borrowing side of the equation, we are constantly adding to our national debt, and have again “maxed out” our spending limit, reaching the so-called debt ceiling.
Yet even as we constantly bump up against a new debt ceiling, we continue paying interest on the debt we’ve already accumulated. In 2012, the interest on that debt totaled $360 billion. Like the minimum payment on a household credit card, that massive amount of spending does nothing more than maintain the debt at its present levels. Nothing is being paid down.
For the nation in the short term, the media-driven hysteria about the notion that America would default on paying its debt if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, is pernicious nonsense. Currently, interest payments are running about 7 percent of revenue. The worst case scenario is that the Treasury Department would be forced to prioritize where the rest of the money would be spent. Undoubtedly this would ignite a huge fight, as Congress and the administration would be forced to decide which government programs are truly important, and which, to use the jargon-du-jour, are “non-essential.”
Such a fight would be extremely unpleasant, but the nation would survive. Furthermore, neither party has said they are willing to default on our debt, but Republicans want concessions aimed at bringing the debt under control.
Why Republicans want those concessions brings us back to the Federal Reserve and their ZIRP. What the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t know is that we’re paying a record low interest rate of 2.4 percent just to maintain the status quo.
The average interest rate the Treasury paid on U.S. debt over the last 20 years is 5.7 percent. Americans might tolerate paying 7 percent of every dollar collected just for interest, but what about 10 percent, or 20 percent–or more? Not for more Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, military, or any other government program. Just interest. Just to maintain. How many American families could sustain themselves if 20 percent of their income or more did nothing but keep their credit card debt right where it is now?
And 20 percent may be an optimistic number. CNBC’s Peter J. Tanous explains that just our public debt–as opposed to the money the government owes itself because the politicians have raided the Social Security “lockbox,” for example–will be $16.6 trillion in seven years, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. At an average interest rate of 5.7 percent, the interest payment will be about $930 billion. In 2012, the IRS collected $1.1 trillion in personal income taxes. Based on that figure, debt service would consume 85 cents of every dollar Americans pay in personal income taxes.
Tanous notes something else as well. “Some economists will also suggest that interest rates may go much higher than 5.7 percent largely as a result of the massive QE exercise of printing money at an unprecedented rate,” he warns.
What then? It is not inconceivable that America could be headed for a real debt ceiling, described by National Review’s Kevin Williams as one where immutable reality boils down to “a more or less identical partial shutdown of the government plus suspending most or all Social Security payments indefinitely, eliminating federal health-care benefits, and/or defaulting on our bonds and enduring the subsequent economic chaos” (italic in the original).
An American politician vividly expressed the consequences of continually raising our borrowing limit and accumulating more debt as a result:
“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” he said. “It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”
That politician was Barack Obama in 2006.
Barack Obama in 2013? ”Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy.” Except that it does. Every time we have raised the debt ceiling, our debt level has increased.
Thus, “insane” Republicans are demanding concessions for raising the current debt ceiling. Those concessions include a one year delay of the new and massively expensive (more than triple its original cost estimate) healthcare bill, a blueprint for tax reform, medical malpractice reform, approval of the Keystone pipeline, and an increase in offshore drilling for energy. The president’s Twitter response is telling. ”I won’t negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”
Due to unprecedented levels of government spending by both parties–nothing more, nothing less–the full faith and credit of the United States of America is hanging by a thread. Either we stop engaging in that insanity or we are finished as a nation. Politicians lie. Math does not
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Former Speaker of the House Gingrich "explains" for the British audience why what is happening in Washington with the government shut down is in the American tradition of limiting power and preserving freedom. We in American can learn from this lesson, too.
Last updated: October 4, 2013 4:53 pm
The shutdown shows that Washington is working
By Newt Gingrich
Republicans are using a tool designed to protect freedom, writes Newt Gingrich
There has been a great deal of hyperbole and hysteria about the government shutdown. The pressure on Republicans in the House of Representatives to surrender is enormous and some of it comes from members of their own party. Theviciousness of the Democrats’ language – “people with a bomb strapped to their chest”, etc – has been extraordinary.
The bulk of the news media has been demanding an instant reopening of the government, an inherently pro-President Barack Obama, anti-Republican position. All of this reflects ignorance of recent, early American and English history. The facts are against the whiners, complainers and hysteria-mongers.
First, recent experience shows how common it is for government to shut down due to conflict between the legislative and executive branches – and sometimes even due to conflicts between the House and the Senate. This usually happens not because either side is “not doing their job” but because elected representatives legitimately disagree about serious matters.
The media seems to remember the 1995-96 shutdowns. There were two, of five and 16 days respectively. Bill Clinton and I were in the middle of them – he as president and I as leader of the House. But almost no one seems to remember the pre-Gingrich-Clinton shutdowns.
You might be amazed to learn that Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill presided over 12, yes 12, government shutdowns. The O’Neill shutdowns occurred in dealing with presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, and even while Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress. I was in Congress during most of these shutdowns, as well. No one in the O’Neill era saw shutdowns as catastrophic. They were irritating, complicated and frustrating but also part of the legislative process.
Early American history makes clear why the US is more likely to have power struggles that lead to government shutdowns than most other countries. The founding fathers wanted to preserve freedom from the danger of dictatorship. Their immediate experience was a corrupt, overbearing government in London. Their recent history had included Cromwell’s dictatorship at the end of the English civil war. Their reading of ancient history was that power tended to degenerate from freedom to dictatorship at great speed.
It was very significant that George Washington’s favourite play was Joseph Addison’sCato, a story of one man’s courageous willingness to die for freedom. Cato becomes the last symbol of the freedoms of the Roman Republic when faced with the emerging tyranny of Julius Caesar.
If you read Addison’s play and its repetitive insistence that death is preferable to losing freedom you can better understand the courage of those who fought for eight long years for their independence. You can also appreciate better Patrick Henry’s famous oration “give me liberty or give me death”.
It was this passion for freedom as a God-given right – “all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights”, as the Declaration of Independence states – which gave the Americans their moral compass in designing the constitution.
Our founding fathers wanted tension between the legislative and executive branches. They understood the parliamentary system and rejected it as prone to dominance by the king. They divided power to protect liberty.
In one sense, the potential for today’s government shutdown was born 798 years ago at Runnymede. On that field west of London in 1215, King John agreed to Magna Carta. That contract committed the English king to live under the law. It asserted that he could only get additional money with the approval of his barons.
It was far from a perfect deal. John did not intend to keep his word; the charter referred only to the barons and not to commoners. But freedom did begin to evolve, and it could trace its roots to that revolutionary moment. The king – an American president is like a temporary, elected monarch – is under the law, not above it. The “commoners” (or the people) in the legislative branch can limit the king by law and specifically can refuse to give him money if they are in conflict.
It is this precedent that is the key to the prerogatives of the House of Representatives. This power of the purse is essential to making the “People’s House” central to self-government. That was certainly the intent of the founding fathers who placed the House first.
The modern media has no historic memory. It covers daily events with no sense of context. It cannot place John Boehner, the current Speaker, within the context of Speaker O’Neill’s 12 government shutdowns because it has never heard of them and does not want to. It certainly cannot place tension between the president and the House within the context of Runnymede and the Magna Carta.
House Republicans feel obliged to oppose Obamacare. They won the 2010 House elections (with a 63 seat gain) by opposing it; they won the 2012 House election opposing it. Mr Obama and his supporters like to claim the presidential election of 2012 settled everything. That is a profoundly un-American view.
The presidential and House elections of 2012 proved Americans were deeply divided. In a divided government both sides have an obligation to negotiate. Until Mr Obama realises that and acts accordingly, the House Republicans will have no choice: using the power of the purse to force negotiation is the heart of the Constitution’s division of power.
What we are witnessing in Washington is the essence of the American system of preserving freedom. When Mr Obama comes to the negotiating table, the crisis will pass and we will be back to the messy, frustrating, and usually boring process of self-government as usual.
The writer is a former speaker of the US House of Representatives and a co-host of CNN’s ‘Crossfire’
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David Mamet, a man of Hollywood but now a conservative, writes about the individual's rights under the Second Amendment to decide what he needs to defend himself.
He provides background for his argument by talking about government power as viewed by Obama and by the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution.
It is a brilliant piece that deserves reading.
Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm
January 29, 2013 issue, Newsweek Magazine
Karl Marx summed up Communism as “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” This is a good, pithy saying, which, in practice, has succeeded in bringing, upon those under its sway, misery, poverty, rape, torture, slavery, and death.
For the saying implies but does not name the effective agency of its supposed utopia. The agency is called “The State,” and the motto, fleshed out, for the benefit of the easily confused must read “The State will take from each according to his ability: the State will give to each according to his needs.” “Needs and abilities” are, of course, subjective. So the operative statement may be reduced to “the State shall take, the State shall give.”
All of us have had dealings with the State, and have found, to our chagrin, or, indeed, terror, that we were not dealing with well-meaning public servants or even with ideologues but with overworked, harried bureaucrats. These, as all bureaucrats, obtain and hold their jobs by complying with directions and suppressing the desire to employ initiative, compassion, or indeed, common sense. They are paid to follow orders.
Rule by bureaucrats and functionaries is an example of the first part of the Marxist equation: that the Government shall determine the individual’s abilities.
As rules by the Government are one-size-fits-all, any governmental determination of an individual’s abilities must be based on a bureaucratic assessment of the lowest possible denominator. The government, for example, has determined that black people (somehow) have fewer abilities than white people, and, so, must be given certain preferences. Anyone acquainted with both black and white people knows this assessment is not only absurd but monstrous. And yet it is the law.
President Obama, in his reelection campaign, referred frequently to the “needs” of himself and his opponent, alleging that each has more money than he “needs.”
But where in the Constitution is it written that the Government is in charge of determining “needs”? And note that the president did not say “I have more money than I need,” but “You and I have more than we need.” Who elected him to speak for another citizen?
It is not the constitutional prerogative of the Government to determine needs. One person may need (or want) more leisure, another more work; one more adventure, another more security, and so on. It is this diversity that makes a country, indeed a state, a city, a church, or a family, healthy. “One-size-fits-all,” and that size determined by the State has a name, and that name is “slavery.”
The Founding Fathers, far from being ideologues, were not even politicians. They were an assortment of businessmen, writers, teachers, planters; men, in short, who knew something of the world, which is to say, of Human Nature. Their struggle to draft a set of rules acceptable to each other was based on the assumption that we human beings, in the mass, are no damned good—that we are biddable, easily confused, and that we may easily be motivated by a Politician, which is to say, a huckster, mounting a soapbox and inflaming our passions.
The Constitution’s drafters did not require a wag to teach them that power corrupts: they had experienced it in the person of King George. The American secession was announced by reference to his abuses of power: “He has obstructed the administration of Justice … he has made Judges dependant on his will alone … He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws … He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass out people and to eat out their substance … imposed taxes upon us without our consent… [He has] fundamentally altered the forms of our government.”
This is a chillingly familiar set of grievances; and its recrudescence was foreseen by the Founders. They realized that King George was not an individual case, but the inevitable outcome of unfettered power; that any person or group with the power to tax, to form laws, and to enforce them by arms will default to dictatorship, absent the constant unflagging scrutiny of the governed, and their severe untempered insistence upon compliance with law.
The Founders recognized that Government is quite literally a necessary evil, that there must be opposition, between its various branches, and between political parties, for these are the only ways to temper the individual’s greed for power and the electorates’ desires for peace by submission to coercion or blandishment.
Healthy government, as that based upon our Constitution, is strife. It awakens anxiety, passion, fervor, and, indeed, hatred and chicanery, both in pursuit of private gain and of public good. Those who promise to relieve us of the burden through their personal or ideological excellence, those who claim to hold the Magic Beans, are simply confidence men. Their emergence is inevitable, and our individual opposition to and rejection of them, as they emerge, must be blunt and sure; if they are arrogant, willful, duplicitous, or simply wrong, they must be replaced, else they will consolidate power, and use the treasury to buy votes, and deprive us of our liberties. It was to guard us against this inevitable decay of government that the Constitution was written. Its purpose was and is not to enthrone a Government superior to an imperfect and confused electorate, but to protect us from such a government.
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