Monday, December 30, 2013

Duck Dynasty and a Christmas Creche

By Arnold Ahlert 

The A&E/Duck Dynasty circus and an effort in South Florida to denigrate a Christmas creche display are both driven by the same components. They are classic examples of political correctness run amok, coupled with the idea that the whiners of the world are somehow entitled to special consideration, even when that consideration amounts to nothing more than the tyranny of the minority.

Let’s begin with Duck Dynasty and Phil Robertson. I don’t watch the show, I have never watched the show and, quite frankly, I find America’s obsession with so-called reality TV a bit depressing. To me it’s the equivalent of slowing down at an accident site, hoping to see some blood and guts, or at the very least, someone whose life has taken a turn worse than one’s own. In fact, I would submit that the primary reason for the public’s attraction to reality shows is a combination of voyeurism and “schadenfreude”. People like seeing what is ostensibly private, and they take a certain amount of delight in the notion that others, especially celebrities, are every bit as boring and screwed up as the average American.

And while it may seem that Duck Dynasty doesn’t fit that particular description, Americans would be naive to believe it was conceived by the suits at A&E to be an uplifting look at an unusual family. Make no mistake: it was supposed to be a har-di-har-har, “look at those stupid rednecks” putdown of American flyover country. Trust me when I tell you that no one was more surprised than those same A&E execs when it not only didn’t turn out that way, it became the smash hit of cable TV. They were surprised because they conflate bicoastal elitism with “superior” values. That attitude makes them virtually immune to the idea that millions of Americans might be laughing with the Robertsons and not at them.

Even worse? Those same Americans might share at least some of the Robertson family values.

Enter the infamous GQ interview.  Here are the three quotes that engendered a leftist firestorm:

1. “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

2. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. (Then he paraphrases Corinthians): “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.” 

3. “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Note a couple of things. First, because Robertson’s personal opinions about sin and personal experience with black Americans don’t align themselves with leftist sensibilities, he was automatically branded a homophobe and a racist. Second, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers and the swindlers apparently haven’t organized themselves nearly as well as the militant homosexuals or the racial hucksters, neither of whom ever miss an opportunity to tell their fellow Americans what an irredeemably homophobic and racist nation we live in.

Equally important, both groups are willing to distort both the meaning and the intent of the above quotes to advance that narrative.

Here’s the short version of Robertson’s outlook: he believes homosexuality and a whole host of other things are sinful, and he had a happy experience with black Americans growing up. Everything else you’ve read and heard otherwise, every interpretation, extrapolation or “hidden” meaning presented as the “real” story is part of the aforementioned distortion. A coordinated, willful and orchestrated distortion by those who believe they own the franchise on what everyone should believe.

In other words, political correctness is nothing more than pure intimidation. And despite the nauseatingly endless professions of “tolerance” that emanate from the progressive side of the cultural divide, you either get with their program, or you’re a target.

Unfortunately, that’s only half the agenda. The other half concerns the leftist notion that tolerance and approval are interchangeable terms. That’s an absolute crock. There are plenty of things one is willing to tolerate in our pluralistic society. But the idea that tolerance must lead directly to approval—lest one become less of human being for failing to bridge that gap—is a bridge too far. It’s precisely that “sale” the left has endeavored to make for decades, and it represents the antithesis of a pluralistic society. It is nothing less than totalitarianism masquerading itself as enlightened thinking.

The ultimate manifestation of a truly pluralistic society can be reduced to four words: live and let live. You want approval for something? Go see your mommy—or your colleagues in whatever grievance group that’s been organized to collectivize your indignation

Which brings us to item two, a South Florida newspaper’s castigation of a town Mayor willing to defy the doyens of PC, and erect a Christmas creche on public property. “Our region takes pride in being a melting pot of religions and beliefs and nationalities,” writes the Sun-Sentinel editorial board. “People from all over the world come here to visit and live, and they should be respected.”

So what constitutes disrespect? Try this with regard to the city of Deerfield Beach and its Mayor Jean Robb:

Commissioners passed a law in October that allows no one but the city to erect holiday displays on city land. At the same time, the city said the Nativity scene that has long appeared in December at Fire Station No. 1 at Federal Highway and Hillsboro Boulevard would not be there anymore. They said they didn’t plan to add any more religious displays, and if they did, the entire commission would have to make the decision.

It was a smart decision, recognizing the separation of church and state and limiting the possibility of lawsuits against the city.

Ah, but Jean Robb would have none of that.

Last week, at her direction, the Nativity scene was again set up at the fire station, apparently without the approval of the rest of the city commission. And Robb was particularly insulting in explaining why the creche was returned.

“I really feel that no one should tell us how we should celebrate the most sacred occurrence on the Christian calendar,” she said. “Ninety percent of the people in the United States celebrate Christmas. The other 10 percent shouldn’t influence the way we celebrate our holiday.”

In other words if you don’t hold the same beliefs as Jean Robb, you probably shouldn’t feel welcome in Deerfield Beach.

Again, note a couple of things. The Nativity scene had “long appeared” at the fire station—meaning that for a long time, live and let live was the operative factor in Deerfield Beach, just as it had been all over the nation—for decades—before the rise of political correctness. Further note, that this rise has engendered one of two outcomes: despite the reality that the overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, these scenes either have to be removed completely, or every other religion and ism must be equally represented to the point of absurdity.

That absurdity was epitomized by the display at the capitol rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin where a 30-foot Christmas tree, a nativity-like scene that mocks religion and a Festivus pole occupy the space. “The rotunda is getting very cluttered,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. “But if a devotional nativity display is allowed, then there must be ‘room at the inn’ for all points of view, including irreverency and free thought.”

Much to her credit, Deerfield Mayor Jean Robb was having none of that kind of all-or-nothing nonsense.

Thus, the Sentinel concluded her attitude was “insulting,” even as it further insisted that one “shouldn’t feel welcome in Deerfield Beach” because there’s a Christmas creche sitting in front of a fire house—at Christmas time.

Oh, the humanity!

My letter to the editor was short and sweet: “Mayor Jean Robb’s rationale for erecting a Christmas creche was spot on. Those who are offended, or as the Sun-Sentinel editorial board suggests, ‘feel unwelcome’ in Deerfield Beach, need to get a life. As for the Constitution, the mayor didn’t ‘establish’ anything. And it’s freedom of religion, not freedom from it.”

I can only speak for myself, but I’m betting more than a few Americans are sick and tired of the whiners who think the rest of us should kowtow to their oh-so-delicate sensibilities, to the point where everyone from Satanists to Jerry Seinfeld fans should be accommodated in a Christmas display, or a single complaint about something should be equally weighed against the desires of an overwhelming majority of people. Those who insist that no one can prioritize anything, or profess to be “offended” by something like a Nativity scene have deeper issues. Many of those issues are animated by the simple reality that, despite pious professions of tolerance and inclusion, far too many of our leftist brethren aren’t happy unless they are making their fellow Americans miserable.

Last week the PC crowd and the whiners got shot down. Phil Robertson is back on Duck Dynasty, and the Christmas creche remains on display in Deerfield Beach, all the hang-wring and gnashing of teeth notwithstanding. Hopefully, it’s the beginning of a trend. Americans shouldn’t feel like they have to walk on eggshells regarding what they believe, no matter how politically incorrect. That’s what the marketplace of free ideas is all about. Nor should they feel beholden to those who bristle at the notion of live and let live, when it intrudes on their hypersensitive universe. The elitists and the complainers need to get over themselves. Despite every effort on their part, they lost these two battles for the simplest of reasons: a lot of Americans can still think for themselves.

Nothing angers—and frightens—the American left more than that.

Canada Free Press

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Year in Review: Tea Party Beats Washington

 The past year has by far been the best for the Tea Party movement in its short history. In 2013, the five-year old conservative grassroots upsurge has grabbed Washington, D.C. by the collar, tearing the city colloquially known as “Boomtown” in a conservative direction for the first time in decades. As the Tea Party movement matures, it is getting more professional in its political activism. The way the Tea Party won 2013 is by entrenching itself in Washington warfare and fighting for conservative victories by connecting powerful grassroots activists directly with lawmakers in decision-making positions. What has happened is the movement has matured, and learned how to manipulate the ways of Washington to promote conservative policies while defeating liberal ones.

In the short months after President Barack Obama’s re-election, a core group of conservative House Republicans--many of whom were elected in 2010 or 2012--developed a plan to attempt to unseat House Speaker John Boehner on the House floor. While the early January vote was ultimately unsuccessful, the 12 House conservatives willing to stand up to Speaker Boehner scared him as he began the 113th Congress.

That 12 of his own members were willing to vote against the Speaker was unprecedented in modern times, and given that only 17 votes were needed to actually remove Boehner, it put the veteran Ohio Republican leader on notice that any caving in 2013 would have drastic consequences for his future as Speaker. The narrative had been set: The Tea Party runs the House, and by extension, Congress.

Meanwhile, a little more than a month after Obama won re-election, Adam Lanza opened fire to kill 20 children and six staff members at Connecticut's Sandy Hook elementary school. Obama, emboldened coming off re-election, deputized Vice President Joe Biden to seize the opportunity to lead a push for gun control in 2013. Conventional wisdom in D.C. would have had most Americans believe that gun control was going to happen.

The left’s plan was to pass legislation out of the Senate, garnering some GOP support, then force Boehner to cave and push some kind of gun control measure through the House.

But the president’s allies in Congress did not count on three conservative U.S. Senators--two of whom were elected in the Tea Party’s 2010 electoral surge and one of whom was elected in 2012 --to stamp out their prospects of limiting Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) emerged to defeat gun control in the Senate.

How did they do it? They harnessed the power of the grassroots, energizing ordinary Americans while connecting the grassroots with their efforts in the Senate. Paul, Lee, and Cruz wrote to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in early March 2013 to inform him of their intent to filibuster any effort to limit Americans’ rights as established by the Second Amendment.

Then, they rallied Americans against the efforts of the political elite using petitions and social media. While NBC News, New York Times, and CNN reporters inside the beltway wooed politicians in Washington into believing Americans supported restrictions to the Second Amendment, Paul, Lee, and Cruz systematically shut down the phony appearance of support for gun control and utilized Senate procedures available to the minority to kill any chances of a vote that would limit Second Amendment protections for Americans.

Grassroots leaders grew emboldened. Dustin Stockton of Western Representation PAC (formerly of, for instance, hatched a plan to hold about 100 rallies in cities across America, and thousands of Americans lined up to come out to show their support for the Second Amendment. Stockton’s “Day of Resistance” rallies fired up the conservative grassroots against more than just gun control: they focused in on the Obama administration’s failure to tell the truth about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, their refusal to cooperate with the congressional investigation into the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, and the failure of Obamacare.

By early spring, Republicans like Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) were ready to cave on gun legislation for months. Toomey even co-wrote a watered down gun control bill with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that would have pushed for more stringent background checks--something that, if passed by Congress, would have been seen politically as a victory for the president. But, with the public firmly against any gun control measures and a cadre of three Tea Party leaders in the U.S. Senate willing to put it all on the line to defend Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, momentum for new gun control legislation fizzled.

In late December 2013, more than a full year after the Sandy Hook tragedy that Democrats attempted to seize to push gun control, National Public Radio’s Ailsa Chang reported that “2013 was a disheartening year” for gun control lobbyists. Chang’s report detailed how gun control groups now admit defeat and acknowledge that defeat came at the hands of the powerful grassroots across America.
Earlier in December, as Breitbart News’ AWR Hawkins reported, Biden and the White House signaled they will lay off gun control and focus instead on mental health issues.

Defeating gun control was hardly the only time the Tea Party movement has grappled with, and beaten, the Obama administration in 2013. Amid the beginning of the 2013 gun control fight, Sen. Rand Paul launched another Tea Party-driven offensive, this time against the Obama administration’s use of drones. Paul took to the U.S. Senate floor for an epic 13-hour filibuster that forced the Obama administration, particularly Attorney General Eric Holder, to admit in writing that it did not have the authority to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil with a drone.

Paul’s filibuster brought Tea Party-minded Senators like Cruz, Lee, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to the floor to back him up; after it became clear his bold move would spark a victory for conservatism and libertarianism in America against the Obama administration, GOP leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined him on the floor. As such, Paul’s filibuster also meant something bigger than just another defeat of the Obama administration by the Tea Party movement: the GOP establishment was forced to rally around the Tea Party, rather than around leftists and Democrats.

Shortly thereafter, the biggest fight of 2013 commenced over immigration reform. Rubio had joined Democrats like Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Republicans like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) to draft a bill that would drastically increase legal immigration numbers to America and grant amnesty to America’s at least 11 million illegal aliens. Despite claims to the contrary, the “Gang of Eight” bill would not secure the border and would not result in an increased ability for America’s law enforcement officers to enforce immigration law.

Obama backed the bill and even sent White House staff over to U.S. Senate office buildings to help write it. Comprehensive immigration reform would have been seen politically as Obama’s big second term agenda item if it were to pass into law. It would be equivalent in scale and importance to Obama’s legacy and agenda as Obamacare has been.

Billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, and Paul Singer financed a campaign to push for the bill’s success. Big business allies like the Chamber of Commerce teamed with big labor interests like the AFL-CIO to attempt to force it through to final passage.

The bill was introduced in April 2013 to much fanfare in the media and cheers from the political class in Washington. Conventional beltway wisdom would have had most Americans believe the bill was supposed to pass the U.S. Senate much faster than it did, which it ultimately did in late June but only after conservatives debunked much of the talking points put forward by the Gang of Eight members.

While the bill actually did pass the Senate thanks to a rushed last-minute process by Reid and a fig leaf amendment from Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND), the appearance of popular support for granting any legal status to any illegal alien was shredded weeks before the Gang of Eight bill saw a final vote in the Senate.

Conservative workhorse Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) worked with Tea Partiers like Cruz, Lee, and Paul to diminish the establishment-created appearance of support for comprehensive immigration reform. Much like how gun control prospects were doomed by popular opposition to them, grassroots leaders like Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots, Leah Durant of the Black American Leadership Alliance, Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, and many others brought the grassroots troops to the battle against amnesty. They worked alongside Sessions, Cruz, Paul, and Lee to fight to prove the establishment wrong on the intellectual battlefield of immigration policy and show the widespread American opposition to amnesty via rallies like Durant’s March for Jobs event in Washington and NumbersUSA’s and Tea Party Patriots’ various rallies around the country.

While it initially appeared that Boehner was going to cave after the Senate passed its immigration bill and allow a bill or series of bills to pass the House and go to conference committee with the Senate, the work of Sens. Sessions, Lee, Cruz, and Paul continued throughout the summer into the fall. House conservatives like Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Pete Olson (R-TX), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), and many more vocalized their opposition to any strategy by House GOP leadership to attempt to pass amnesty through the House or go to a conference committee with the Senate bill.

The conservative outrage knocked Rubio’s previously stellar polling numbers into the gutter, forcing him to reverse course and come out in public opposition to any conference committee that would be used to save the bill he helped champion through the Senate. Shortly thereafter, conservatives forced Boehner and the rest of House GOP leadership--save for House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is in the process of writing an amnesty bill at this time--came out in public opposition to any conference committee on immigration.

While the issue is far from dead--given the well-financed lobbyists driving for amnesty, and the political leadership pushing for it from both parties--the fact that no amnesty has passed the Congress whatsoever in 2013 is, as USA Today’s D.C. Bureau Chief Susan Page said, nothing short of an amazing victory for the Tea Party movement in America. Page said on CNN that the “biggest loser” in 2013 was “immigration reform.”
“That was the thing that was going to pass this year with the pathway to citizenship for the millions of people who are here as [illegal] aliens and that has not happened,” Page said.
After the summer’s push for amnesty faded into a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign with momentum waning, Sens. Cruz and Lee hatched their next plan: defund Obamacare.

Initially viewed by the political establishment as a pipe dream that had no chance of going anywhere, Cruz and Lee worked alongside House conservative members to organize a rebellion in the House. Conservative Republicans refused to vote for any stopgap government spending bill, a continuing resolution, that had even a single penny of funding for Obamacare. House conservatives like Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Tom Graves (R-GA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), and many more rallied around Cruz’s and Lee’s message. Boehner crumpled and reluctantly agreed to pursue the defunding strategy.

Martin of Tea Party Patriots, Brent Bozell of ForAmerica, and other conservatives leaders throughout the movement toured the nation to round up grassroots support for the effort. Cruz’s political stock skyrocketed less than a year into his first term in the U.S. Senate, as he systematically led an intellectual destruction of the president’s healthcare law.

Like Paul had done for 13 hours to target Obama’s drone usage earlier in 2013, Cruz took to the Senate floor for a 21-hour speech (although technically not a filibuster) to systematically prove Obamacare’s destructive nature. Grassroots support swelled across the country. Twitter exploded with the hashtag of Cruz’s main message: #MakeDCListen. Millions of Americans expressed support for Cruz, while Washington politicians bashed him; when he returned to Texas afterwards he received a hero's welcome. “After two months in Washington, it's great to be back in America,” Cruz said to massive applause.

After Democrats in the Senate refused to compromise on Obamacare and Senate Republicans failed to unite behind Cruz and Lee like House Republicans did, the government shut down. Even so, shortly before the 16-day shutdown began, Democrats like Manchin had publicly said they would be willing to compromise on Obamacare enough to support a year-long delay of the law.

While the fight to defund Obamacare was, like the effort to unseat Boehner earlier in 2013, ultimately unsuccessful, it showed that the Tea Party movement runs the Congress. Nineteen Senate Republicans voted with Cruz and Lee on the key cloture vote on the funding of Obamacare, effectively abandoning their leader Mitch McConnell, who had worked against Cruz, and all of House GOP leadership worked with the Tea Party movement under pressure from the conservative grassroots.

Meanwhile, Cruz, Lee, and the rest of the Tea Party were proven right about Obamacare time and again over the subsequent weeks as the rollout of the president’s healthcare law has been an abysmal failure. Obama’s claim that Americans could keep their plans if they liked them has been proven to be PolitiFact’s “lie of the year.” Americans are losing their healthcare plans in droves, and those who have been lucky enough to keep their plans have seen spikes in their premiums. Even people who wanted to sign up for Obamacare have run into difficulty as the program’s website has crumbled and Americans’ personal information is at risk because of security flaws in’s coding.

Congress rounded the year out by passing a budget deal Ryan cut with Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). The deal has infuriated conservatives throughout the base, and while it passed the House with a swath of GOP support--169 Republicans voted for it-- Ryan systematically misled his House GOP colleagues to win their support for it, as Breitbart News has shown time and again over the course of a series of investigative pieces.

The bill actually raises spending and increases the deficit and, according to Sessions, uses Obamacare-style double counting budgeting gimmicks to make it appear fiscally responsible. It also cuts pensions of military veterans to make it appear as though it does not increase spending as much as it does, something that is likely to be the first fertile battlefield of 2014, followed shortly thereafter by a battle over amnesty that Ryan will also likely lead.

Piece by piece, Obama’s agenda was stopped dead in its tracks throughout 2013. The Tea Party movement’s effectiveness has garnered it new enemies even among those on the right, with the Chamber of Commerce and business community developing plans to attempt to eviscerate it in 2014. This list of political and policy victories does not even include the impressive cultural Tea Party wins--from A&E's reinstatement of Phil Robertson on Duck Dynasty after originally placing him on "indefinite" hiatus under pressure from GLAAD to Brad Paisley's and Carrie Underwood's Country Music Awards performance of "Obamacare by Morning."

The question moving forward is whether the Tea Party can maintain its control of the conservative message and its stance against the left’s and the establishment’s agenda. At this point, it looks like the movement is just getting started.

Big Government

Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy New Year to All You Decadent, Dictatorial Americans

 Happy New Year to all you decadent and dictatorial Americans.   Yes, I mean you, the people of the United States, where an elite of  non-democratic dictators trickles its immorality—and incompetence—down upon the masses. 

What do I mean?  Aren’t you Americans supposed to be free?  Sure, you are free: You are free to obey the ukase—that’s an old czarist word for a decree that must be obeyed, or else—of a judge acting on an ideological agenda.  So the judge is free to do as he pleases, and then you are free to do what you’re told to do.  Americans, how do you like that kind of “freedom”?  

For example, let’s look at the way the debate over homosexual marriage has played out over the past few years in the USA.  The American people were confronted with the issue of homosexual marriage, debated it, and then voted against it in the tens of millions; dozens of US states passed specific laws to ban homosexual marriage.  

So then what happened?  I’ll tell you what happened: Unelected judges simply overrode the will of the people—and legalized such marriage in much of the country, including the largest state, California.  In other words, the judges acted as dictators to overturn not only the laws of America, but also the law of God; these are spelled out clearly in both the Bible and in the Christian tradition.  

So now we see the key difference between Russia and America: In Holy Mother Russia, the Bible and Christianity are celebrated in the public square.  But not in America.  

To sum up: America has a dictatorship that imposes anti-Biblical immorality.   That’s your idea of freedom—and you can have it.  Here in Russia, we prefer real freedom: our right to choose the true path.  Our right to choose virtue.  

But of course, you Americans are genuinely free in one way: You have the perfect freedom to be bamboozled by your party-line media and so to elect and re-elect bumbling leaders.  In my recent musings, I have taken note of America’s staggering geopolitical incompetence, and mocked the messianic pretensions of your media-anointed President Obama.   And I chuckle when I think about how long it took for Americans to notice his obvious ineptitude.  

I have, indeed, enjoyed great success in 2013, even as America has failed greatly.  It was a wonderful year for me, starting with Syria, Iran, and Ukraine.  

In Syria, Hafez al-Assad is still in power.  Yet as recently as September, the Americans were poised to intervene to overthrow Assad; I turned the tide by jumping in to start negotiations over his chemical weapons.  In the months since, those chemical-weapons negotiations have turned into a larger “peace process.”   

I should say that I have never had any great affection for Assad; my main concern was about stopping the advance of Sunni Islamic jihadi terrorist takeover anywhere, whether in Syria, in my own territory of Chechnya, or elsewhere in the world.  

In the wake of 9-11, I had hoped that the Americans would share that larger anti-terror   objective, but alas, I was wrong.   The Americans have been fighting the Sunni Jihadis in Afghanistan for a dozen years, but at the same time, they have sought to help the same sorts of Sunni jihadis in Egypt, Libya, and Syria—go figure! 

Indeed, all these years, the Americans have been lecturing us Russians about “human rights” in Chechnya.  So it served them right when two Chechyans killed and wounded all those people in Boston; we had tried to warn them about the Tsarnaevs, but of course, the Americans thought they knew best.   Here’s what’s best:  America and Israel ought to join with Russia to squelch these Islamists, wherever they are.  It’s obvious!  But it seems that if you work in the American State Department, you have to leave your common sense outside of the building.   

Finally, late in 2013, my message started to get through to the anti-Assad coalition: The West woke up and realized that they, too, would be worse off with Assad gone and the Bin Ladenites running Damascus.  I see that The Jerusalem Post recently quoted a top Israeli diplomat as saying of a recent high-level meeting, “Our Western friends made it clear in London that Assad cannot be allowed to go now because they think chaos and an Islamist militant takeover would ensue.”   No kidding!  Finally!  Score one for common sense—and for me.  

Oh, and by the way, you Americans might be interested to know that Christians are much better off in pro-Russia Syria than in post-American Iraq.  That’s right: In Syria, Christians are part of the governing coalition; they are safe as long as Assad stays in power.  By contrast, in Iraq, after the Americans came and went, having wrecked the place in between, the Christians are abandoned and vulnerable.  Today, the US doesn’t seem to know or care that Christians are being targeted in Iraq—37 Christians killed on Christmas Day.   Gee, I wonder why Barack Hussein Obama is so disinterested.  Actually, I don't wonder at all.  

Next, Iran.  The no-nukes “agreement” spearheaded by John Kerry—I have never seen anyone so eager to win a Nobel Peace Prize!— might be a sham, but that’s not my problem.  I don’t want Iran to be a nuclear power; after all, any Iranian nuke would be a lot closer to Moscow than to Washington, DC.  Yet at the same time, I don’t want America to win.   

Instead, what I want is a balance of power.  And balance of power means just that—balance.  Uneasy balance, balance of terror, call it what you will.  Just so long as both sides realize that they need Russia’s help.  I want Russia to be the balance-wheel in the region.  

As for Israel, I am not a fan of Bibi Netanyahu, but I do feel a certain fondness for the million or so Israelis who come from Russia. Yes, they fled the Soviet regime in the 70s and 80s, so in that sense, they are traitors, but at the same time, they retain many of their Slavic loyalties and prejudices.  So when I talk to, for example, Soviet-born Avigdor Lieberman, the former Israeli foreign minister—and still a powerful political player in that country—we converse easily in our common Russian tongue.  In fact, we get along great, because we hate the same people.  

Moreover, I fully realize that the Israelis have assets that Russia needs.  In particular, if Russia is to create, near Moscow, a Silicon Valley for Russia, we will need some high-tech brains.   As my  sidekick Dmitry Medvedev has convinced me, the real resource for the future is not oil, nor natural gas, nor even gold.  Instead, it’s IQ, adrenaline, and caffeine—the stuff of high tech.   So that’s why I let Mikhail Khodorkovsky go free after a decade in prison—he’s a Jew; releasing him removes a sticking point to better relations with the Jews.  And that’s fine, so long as they are outside of Russia.  Khodorkovsky’s not coming back, that’s for sure; the $15 billion fortune he once had inside Russia has long ago been divvied up among my friends.   

Meanwhile, right next to Russia, I have won yet another victory: Despite the pro-European Union protests in Kiev, Ukraine will remain gripped in the Russian bear hug.  Needless to say, I have never been a fan of “people power”; we know what sort of trouble it can lead to if left unchecked.  Critics say we did something nasty in Ukraine; I say, we bought President Viktor Yanukovych fair and square.  And he had the honor—and, heh heh, the survival instinct—to stay bought.  

So that’s my geopolitical score for 2013: By my count, it’s three points for Russia, zero points for other countries.  

Yet there’s a deeper point that I wish to make, concerning the fate of nations, and of civilizations.   And that point is: You need conservatism, including religion and patriotism, in order to govern.   This point is not optional; it’s a necessity.  

I think that the average person gets this basic truth about the practical value of conservative governance—including the average American.  But as we have seen, the average American is not really involved in shaping politics; in the USA, control is shared by the radicalizing forces of the judiciary, the media, the Federal Reserve, and other elite institutions at the commanding heights.  Meanwhile, here in Russia, I have been governing as a conservative, and the average Russian loves me.  

Yet Americans, befogged by their own propaganda, have been slow to realize that I am the conservative, defending—indeed, championing!—the essentials of Christendom.

One who has figured this out is Patrick Buchanan, a leading figure in conservative politics and punditry for nearly half-a-century.  He recently wrote a column asking,  “Is Putin One of Us?”  

And Buchanan’s answer was a carefully argued “yes.”  As he noted, not only am I on the right, but also I see the overall civilizational issue more clearly than the West:

“While much of American and Western media dismiss him as an authoritarian and reactionary, a throwback, Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans still caught up in a Cold War paradigm.

As the decisive struggle in the second half of the 20th century was vertical, East vs. West, the 21st century struggle may be horizontal, with conservatives and traditionalists in every country arrayed against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite.

And though America’s elite may be found at the epicenter of anti-conservatism and anti-traditionalism, the American people have never been more alienated or more divided culturally, socially and morally.”

I agree with Pat—I guess I can call him Pat.  In America, the split is between a liberal elite and a conservative population.  I would only add that here in Russia, the elite is on the same side as the populace.  How ‘bout that: a government that actually reflects the values of the majority!  

Yes, I am a Russian conservative, and I govern as a Russian conservative.  Admittedly, I have had to make detours along the way: The Sochi Winter Olympics are coming up in February, and so I released those horrible “Pussy Riot” protestors.  In addition, I turned loose some Greenpeace idiots.   

Yet as always, I am amused by the greedy corporate hypocrisy of the West.   Even though Russia has passed tough anti-homosexual laws, all those allegedly “gay-friendly” companies are still eagerly doing business in Russia.   And they will spend even more money on the Olympics.  So now we see their true convictions; they worship money, not “LGBT” rights.   Do I expect some protestors in Sochi?  Sure.  And we’ll have to tolerate them when the cameras of the world are watching.  But we’ll be taking the names of those involved: The foreigners won’t be allowed back, and as for any Russians, well, we’ll deal with them in due time.  

Over the long haul, I am fully committed to a socially conservative Russia, built on the Holy Russian Orthodox Church.  Am I really a sincere Christian?  That’s hard to say.   Am I sincere social conservative?  Do I believe in order and structure?  Do I believe in Western Christian civilization?  That’s easy to say—absolutely yes.   

Why? Because I know that all through history, faith-based conservatism wins.  To put it another way, piety defeats hedonism.   When a culture gets too rich and lazy, it not only causes a backlash, it also becomes too weak to withstand that backlash.   How do I know this?  I study the past.  In the 19th century, the industrializing world was richer than ever, and yet the capitalists, who had claimed most of the wealth, had little legitimacy.  They weren’t longstanding royalty, well known to the nation; instead, they were nouveau riche, typically locked into conflict with the proletariat.  Factory owners must learn: Treat factory workers nicely, or they will strike—and even rebel.  

So in a sense, both Bolshevism and Fascism in the 20th century were reactions against the excesses and conspicuous consumption of those newbie capitalist plutocrats.   Say what you want about Lenin and Stalin—or Hitler, Mussolini, and Mao, among many others—they were personally austere.    They didn’t wear crowns and robes, they wore dark suits and uniforms.  Working people liked that, at least at first.  

And as income inequality is on the rise once again, and as big capitalists turn into greed-is-good Wolf of Wall Street-type parodies of themselves, please don’t think that the cycle of revolution can’t happen again, maybe even in America.  The American conservative Peggy Noonan, writing recently in The Wall Street Journal, quoted an anonymous but nervous billionaire: “Every time I hear the stock market went up I know the guillotines are coming closer.” 

But in Russia, such bloody revolution won’t happen again, because we are handling the social question.  We are working to maintain a balance between capital and labor.  That was one reason why I threw Khodorkovsky in jail, to send a signal to the other oligarchs: Behave yourself.   

So of course, I am perfectly willing to use repressive methods, if I need to.   Yet at the same time, I don’t think I will need to, because I am deeply respectful of Russian tradition; I am with the people, and their values, not against them.   And those values include a deep-grained belief that the body politic needs to stay together with some decent respect for the feelings and sentiments of the workers and peasants—and that’s a lesson of statecraft that the Americans have forgotten.   You can’t build a united country on the basis of dog-eat-dog Social Darwinism.  You need the warmth of an enveloping heritage.   Political hierarchy is fine, but there still must be limits, however notional, on social and economic inequality.  

So in Russia, I have been pleased to lead the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church, which proclaims its central dogma: All believers are equal before God.  To add some emphasis, we even have our shock troops, The Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers.  They can be a little extreme, but we like their slogans:  “Holy Russia, the Orthodox faith and the Russian people!” That’s a good one.  Another is: “Glory to Russia!”   And for sheer intensity, it’s hard to top “Orthodoxy or death!” 

Meanwhile, in many parts of the world, especially in the West, it might seem as though the homosexuals and the drug-legalizers are winning—but I believe that’s temporary.  As I have said, all through history, we see a pattern: The rich have grown rich to the point that they stop believing in anything and thus are not able to fight for anything, not even their own survival.   So inevitably, they are replaced by strong men, whose lives are a proclamation of stern faith.  

We might consider the Muslims: Ask yourself, who is going to emerge as the winner in Afghanistan after Karzai goes?   A liberal?  Someone who hews to Western ways?  No, of course not: The victor will be the toughest guy, the one who was able to inspire the most martyrs, even as he rides in on a white horse.  

I realize that liberals—in America, they are called libertarians—are horrified by the prospect of warrior leaders, but I know my history.  Russia has had to recover from the invasion of the Magyars, the Mongols, Napoleon, and Hitler.  And yes, we have also had to survive the excesses and weaknesses of Comrades Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev.  And most of all, Russia must recover from the damage done by that liberal twit Gorbachev—the man who let the USSR break apart—and his helper, that drunken buffoon Yeltsin.   

When Russia recovers to its former glory—my personal goal is the full recovery of the Russian borders of 1914—it will because we are strong in our proud conservatism, not weak in our wilting liberalism.  

Oh, and one last point: If the governing authority of the future is not based on religion and tradition, the result will be vastly worse.   That is, if the Western powers can’t set up a guiding conservatism based on shared history and familiar hierarchy, the new order will be much worse.  If revered conservatism fails, it won’t be succeeded by freedom, it will be succeeded by the iron rule of capitalists and technologists.

What do I mean by this?   We might consider the stark words of Google’s Eric Schmidt when he said, “If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.”   Now that’s a quote to warm the heart of Comrade Stalin.   

I find myself in agreement with my new friend Edward Snowden, who declared recently, in a broadcast from Moscow, that new technology offered power to central authority that tyrants of the past could never have imagined: 

“George Orwell warned us of the danger…The types of collection in the book [Orwell’s novel, 1984], microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us, are nothing compared to what we have available today…Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person.  A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that’s a problem because privacy matters; privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.” 

Yes, Snowden has a point.  Compared to the total surveillance you Americans are going through, good old Russian-style authoritarianism looks pretty sweet.  Yes, of course, Russia will spy on its domestic enemies.  But we have no need to spy on everyone in Russia, because we know that the vast majority of Russians support their government.  

We govern by received tradition, including our faith.  By contrast, you govern by technological tyranny—plus the radical non-faith of your elites.   That’s the big difference between the USA and Russia, and it’s a big difference indeed.

Monday, December 23, 2013

We Can Have Gay Rights or Freedom of Speech

 By Daniel Greenfield

What do a reality show star, a cake maker and a photographer have in common? They're all victims of a political system in which the mandate to not merely recognize gay marriage, but to celebrate it, has completely displaced freedom of speech.

The issues at stake in all three cases did not involve the Orwellian absurdity of "Marriage Equality". The cases of a Christian cake maker and a Christian photographer whom state courts have ruled must participate in gay weddings or face fines and jail time were blatant violations of both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion in the name of outlawing any dissent from gay marriage.

That is why Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty was suspended. Robertson, unlike Bashir, didn't take to the air to make violent threats against an individual. He expressed in plain language that he believes homosexuality is wrong. And that is something that you aren't allowed to do anymore.

The left sneers that A&E isn't subject to Freedom of Speech because it's a private company. And they're right. But then they insist that a cakemaker and a photographer aren't protected by Freedom of Speech or Religion because they're private businesses.

In their constitutional universe, companies have the right to punish speech in the name of gay rights, but not to engage in protected speech in dissent from gay rights. And that's exactly the problem. It's not just gays who have been made into a protected class, but homosexuality itself. To dissent from it is bigotry that you can be fired for, fined for and even jailed for.

Gay rights were not settled by legalizing gay marriage. We are facing an ugly choice between freedom of speech and gay rights.

In these three cases, gay rights activists have made it clear that we can have one or the other. But we can't have a country where we have both gay weddings and people who disagree with them.

And that's unfortunate because even the most generous interpretation of the benefits of two men marrying each other would struggle to prove that it is more beneficial to a society than the ability to speak your own mind and to practice your own religion without being compelled to violate it.

If we have to choose between gay rights and the First Amendment, the moral arc of the universe that liberals like to invoke so often will not swing toward the bullies who insist on dealing with their self-esteem problems by forcing everyone to consent and approve of their lifestyle.

Gay marriage was sold to Americans by cunningly crafted "gay families" on popular sitcoms. Now Americans are discovering that real gay activists aren't friendly people who just want to make jokes between commercial breaks, but are neurotic and insecure bullies who attack others from behind the safety of the politicians that they bribed with the massive disposable incomes that comes from not having families or long-term relationships.

Most Americans still believe that homosexuality, adultery and a range of other deviant sexual behaviors are sins. They also, like Phil Robertson, believe that disapproving of a behavior does not mean rejecting the person. That's where they part company with gay activists who are unable to tolerate Phil Robertson as a person if they are also unable to tolerate his opinion of their sexual habits.

The American tolerance for things like homosexuality comes from a mindset that is a lot closer to Phil Robertson than it is to Barack Obama. It's that very Phil Robertson attitude which allows Americans to disapprove of homosexuality, while accepting that homosexuals should have spaces for expressing their need for political identity ceremonies. That tolerance led to civil unions and then gay marriage. And that tolerance has been woefully abused.

Americans are far more tolerant of sexual misbehavior than they are of people trying to take away their civil rights. And that is something that gay rights activists need to consider carefully.

American tolerance for homosexuality is not a blank check. It's not the "progressive" endgame that the left believes it is in which tolerance for a thing is mistaken for the Stalinist willingness to punish dissent from that very thing.

When ordinary Americans talk about tolerance, they mean tolerance. When the left talks about tolerance, it means intolerance.

Now the gay rights movement, which is just another pimple on the bony arm of the left, is showing its true colors. It is showing that its calls for tolerance are really mandates for intolerance.

It isn't looking for public spaces in which to be gay, but the elimination of public and even private spaces that reject homosexuality. It's not gay rights that we are talking about, but gay mandates.

If Americans are forced to choose between Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and gay rights; the Pajama Boys of America may not like which way they will vote.

Sultan Knish

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck, Duck, Noose

 Dec 20, 2013

A&E’s suspension of Phil Robertson from the hit show “Duck Dynasty” has generated a lot of talk about the First Amendment.

While technically it’s not a First Amendment issue because the government was not involved, the punishing of Robertson for expressing his well-known beliefs in an interview with GQ goes to the larger issue of free speech and tolerance for differing views.

A&E has a right to fire anyone it chooses, however, this was not just a case of someone shooting his mouth off and embarrassing his employer, as it was in the recent case of MSNBC’s Martin Bashir.

This was a situation that was created by A&E, and then A&E made a calculated decision to respond the way it did.

Robertson’s views on the Bible and homosexuality were well-known before A&E even hired him and the rest of the Robertson family, and his sermons are recorded on video.

If that wasn’t clear enough, just watching “Duck Dynasty” should have underscored the family’s Christian beliefs, so there’s no way A&E executives were unaware. Because of the nature of show business, it’s also safe to assume that A&E signed off on the interview with GQ, whose interest in all things sex is also well-known. That a GQ reporter would ask Robertson about homosexuality is practically a given.

And yet, here’s A&E acting all shocked and bothered because Robertson said he doesn’t see the appeal to a man of another man’s butt. (Robertson was more anatomically specific, but you get the idea.)

So because Robertson said out loud what millions of Americans think whenever the subject of homosexuality comes up, A&E got a call from GLAAD, which you can imagine must have included threats of boycotts and retaliation, the full Chick-fil-A treatment.

TMZ Editor Harvey Levin, who is gay, blasted A&E on his show and on Twitter for their treatment of Robertson. “A&E is being so dishonest,” Levin tweeted.

Levin further went on to defend Robertson, saying that while he didn’t agree with the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Robertson’s comments were religious, not “hate-based.”

Author Camille Paglia, who is a lesbian and atheist, was even more irate about A&E’s decision when she spoke to Laura Ingraham:

“To express yourself in a magazine in an interview — this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades. This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960s that have been lost by my own party. …

“I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility. This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S.

Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points.”

Ultimately, A&E’s decision to appease what it perceives as a powerful homosexual lobby may backfire. A Facebook page calling for the boycott of A&E until Robertson is rehired got more than 1 million likes in one day.

The history of homosexual boycotts has been that they usually achieve the opposite of the intended effect. The boycott of Chick-fil-A resulted in booming business for the restaurant. The boycott of a cake maker in Colorado for refusing to bake a cake for a homosexual “wedding” likewise has garnered the baker more business.

If A&E was smart, it would stand by Robertson and welcome a GLAAD boycott. Instead, they insult and denigrate their Christian fan base.

But that seems to be the way of things these days. The Left continuously shows its intolerance of others while demanding tolerance of its own views.

The Left should watch an episode of “Duck Dynasty” and take note that as nice as the Robertsons are, they (and many of their fans) are armed. The PC crowd might want to keep that in mind the next time they feel the urge to punish the Christians.

Political Outcast

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How the United States Will Amend the Constitution To Rein In A Power Drunk Washington

Ralph Benko | Dec 17, 2013

 On December 7th, nearly 100 state legislators, many distinguished, representing 32 states, assembled at Mount Vernon.

They gathered at the homestead of George Washington, 15 miles from the capital city named for him. The purpose? To discuss how, safely, to revive an overlooked, but invaluable, provision in the United States Constitution to allow a supermajority of states to rein in a power-drunk federal government.
According to a press release issued after the Assembly’s adjournment, “They emphasized the importance of any convention being done in a way that accomplishes the will of the people while protecting the sanctity of the Constitution, as this action could ultimately lead to proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as authorized under Article V. The subject matter of what those amendments would be was not discussed.”

In other words, first things first. First priority is to establish how this amendment process safely can be conducted. Only when prudent ground rules are established will it be timely to consider substantive proposals.

The venue, Mount Vernon, was as apt as iconic. George Washington, the father of our country, of course served as our first president. Of perhaps equal importance Washington also presided over the original Constitutional Convention. Now, lawmakers from a majority of states assembled at his estate to address the issue of how, safely, to bring Washington (DC) back into alignment with, well, the vision of (George) Washington.

The Mount Vernon Assembly is a noble exercise in federalism.

Not for nothing is our fair nation named the United States of America.

Is the federal government out of control? You, Dear Reader, must decide. As this columnist wrote at
The federal government spent $15 billion from 1789 – 1900. Not $15 billion a year. $15 billion cumulatively. Uncle Sam will spend $10 billion a day in 2011. The federal government spends more every two days than it did altogether for more than America’s first century. Although these sums are not adjusted for inflation [or population growth] they give a correct impression of the magnitude of the change from what our Founders set forth and our early statesmen delivered.

Thoughtful Republicans and Democrats, Progressives and Conservatives, as well as Tea Partiers and Independents … find this profligacy sobering, perhaps sickening. Even after adjustment for inflation and population, it is impossible to argue that the federal government has not ballooned by orders of magnitude beyond that contemplated by the founders.

What is to be done?

Enter the Mount Vernon Assembly.

Some, especially on the left, are attempting to blame federal government dysfunction on the Constitution. An Annals of Law feature in the current New Yorker, by Jeffrey Toobin, is entitled Our Broken Constitution. Wrong. It is the federal government, not the Constitution, that is broken. The federal government has gone out of alignment with its nature as envisioned in the Constitution.

And in the Constitution itself resides the solution.

Many Americans feel thwarted by their federal government. Many humanitarian populists, both of left and right — including this columnist — see the federal government as out of touch with the “consent of the governed.” It is this consent that the Declaration of Independence cites as the source of government legitimacy. The most poignant sign of this is the record low 9% popular approval rating of the United States Congress.

The Constitution contains within itself a mechanism designed to rectify this very problem. There is a little known, but powerful, “emergency cord” built into Article V. This allows a supermajority of States – 34 to call a convention to propose amendments, 38 to ratify proposed amendments — to trump an obstructionist federal government and amend the Constitution. The Constitution states:
on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which … shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof….

This provision was inserted at the insistence of liberty-minded Virginia delegate George Mason. The background of its insertion is set forth in a recent article in The American Spectator by one of the most prominent advocates of the Article V state-led amendment process, Mark Meckler. Meckler, as co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, the largest and most authentic of the national Tea Party groups, is a man to be reckoned with:

According to the Convention records, Mason thought that, if left up to Congress itself, “no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.” In response, Gouverneur Morris and Elbridge Gerry made a motion to amend Article V to introduce language requiring that requiring that a convention be called when two-thirds of the state legislatures petitioned Congress.

This authority of the states to amend the constitution was praised by none less than James Madison in The Federalist No. 43: “It, moreover, equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the [Constitutional] amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other.” (Emphasis added.)

State-initiated amendments under Article V have been been obstructed, in our current era, by two principal opponents. The noble Phyllis Schlafly, head of the Eagle Forum, is inexorably opposed to the use of the state-driven amendment process. Also opposed is the John Birch Society. Mrs. Schlafly’s (and the JBS’s) oft-reiterated fear is of a runaway convention that could strip — rather than add to — protections of our civil liberties and add power to — rather than subtract power from — the central government.

Many conservatives of impeccable credentials respectfully consider Mrs. Schlafly’s concerns overblown.

And a popular movement has been developing for yanking the Article V “emergency cord” on the runaway federal locomotive. Mike Farris, founder and head of the Home School Legal Defense Fund (and its national network of populist activists), also founder and Chancellor of Patrick Henry College, recently referenced his reverence for, and long working relationship with, Mrs. Schlafly. It is Farris’s judgment that she has earned the right to be wrong, once, in an otherwise impeccable career of citizen service that spans over half a century. Many other conservatives, including this columnist, concur with Farris’s view.

Nevertheless most conservatives accord Mrs. Schlafly’s opinions great respect. Thought leaders thus have been seeking an authoritative way to address Mrs. Schlafly’s fears by devising a bulletproof guarantee of federalist legitimacy for such a process … and against any possibility of a runaway convention.
Prominent among these thought leaders are Farris and Mark Meckler, founders of the increasingly influential Convention Of States, a division of Citizens for Self Governance. Their efforts are amplified by a bright and capable team of young constitutional tigers and by volunteer state leaders in dozens of states.

Other important thought leaders engaged include the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Goldwater Institute’s Nick Dranias, Prof.Robert Nadelson of the Independence Institute, and Roman Buhler, proponent of the Madison Amendment. Two months ago, Marc Levin published a best-selling book, The Liberty Amendments, further validating the Article V process and drawing the important support of influential figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and, most recently, Glenn Beck.

The process begins to move from theory to practice. Last May, Indiana Senator, and Senate president, David Long shepherded two pieces of legislation of highest integrity into law, presented, and explained, here. These represent inviolable guardrails and guidelines to ensure no runaway convention and to ensure the prudence and legitimacy of the process. Long’s breakthrough recently was the subject of an admiringcolumn by the iconic Cal Thomas concluding that “Sen. David Long may have discovered the only path left for attaining fiscal solvency.”

Passage of Sen. Long’s legislation, and signature by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was a breakthrough. It may prove a breakthrough of historic proportions. The Mount Vernon Assembly — assembling Democrats as well as Republicans — was another breakthrough.
Wisconsin state Representative Chris Kapenga conceived and chaired this assembly. In an exclusive interview with this columnist, Kapenga said:

About a year ago, I visited Mount Vernon for the first time. I sat on the same porch where George Washington sat with companions such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton. It inspired me and made me think about how we are dealing with issues now similar to those they were dealing with then: issues of balance. Then, America had to strengthen its federal government. Now, the federal government’s power has grown excessive. The states need to step up and re-balance matters.
Federalism at its finest.

In a recent Human Events column, under the vitriolic headline ARTICLE V CONVENTION A RECIPE FOR CHAOS, Mrs. Schlafly wrote: “Alas, I don’t see any George Washingtons, James Madisons, Ben Franklins or Alexander Hamiltons around today who could do as good a job as the Founding Fathers, and I’m worried about the men who think they can.”

This comment underestimates (and insults) the intellect and civic spirit of the state legislators who led, and participated in, the Mount Vernon Assembly. This columnist is second to none in his admiration for those who wrote and ratified the Constitution. But greatness did not die with them. And as Harry Truman once observed, “A statesman is a politician who has been dead ten or fifteen years.” (Or longer.)

The great jurist Learned Hand, in 1944, gave a brief, immortal speech, The Spirit of Liberty, before a million and a half people in Central Park, New York, on “I Am an American Day.” Hand observed:
I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts.

These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.

Judge Hand is a figure esteemed as much by the left as by the right. Saul Alinsky cites Hand in Rules for Radicals. An Article V amendment process is a function of citizen dignity — ‘power to the people.” It leans neither left nor right. It is federalism at its finest. It has, and will have, humanitarian populist proponents (and, also, not-always-so-populist opponents) on the left as well as the right.

Now cometh almost a hundred citizen-legislators, hearts filled with love of country and of liberty. These are the very hearts upon which Judge Hand advised us to rely. These are hearts intent on restoring liberty to America, intent on setting up inviolable guardrails and guarantees to permit us safe access to the Constitution’s “emergency cord” — contained in Article V — to stop the runaway federal locomotive.

This columnist confidently predicts that Sen. Long’s breakthrough legislation, or legislation directly inspired by it, will ramify widely throughout the several states during the 2014 and 2015 legislative sessions. Then, by 2016, the matter of which amendment or amendments should be considered will be in order. It is premature to consider these now. Perhaps forthcoming will be amendments constraining Washington’s onerous taxing, profligate spending, and unjustifiable printing-press-money (a pernicious thing debated in and withheld from the federal government by the Constitutional Convention) powers.

If so the big political news of 2016 will not be about the presidential race. It will be about how nearly 100 citizen-legislators began a process that restored liberty to America. The big story is bigger than presidential politics.

The big story is constitutional. It is a story about how liberty-minded Americans such as Sen. David Long, of Indiana, Rep. Chris Kopenga, of Wisconsin, Rep. Matt Huffman, of Ohio, Rep. Gary Banz, of Oklahoma, Sen. Caryn Tyson, of Kansas, Rep. Yvette Herrell and Sen. Kevin Lundberg, of Colorado (co-chairs of a coordinate Article V Caucus), and other state legislators such as Del. Jim LeMunyon, of Virginia, began the process of restoring liberty to our sweet land.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Obama Stars in The No-Name Law That Sank His Party

December 8, 2013
By Clarice Feldman

When the Pelosi-Reid-Obama troika triumphantly celebrated cramming through the ACA (Affordable Care Act) over majority sentiment, they crowed that this was the president's signature achievement and ACA soon took on the name of its creator, ObamaCare. Though not one of them, nor any of the Democrats in the Senate who voted it into law uni-partisanly had read it, they all assured us that we'd grow to really, really like it. Boy, were they wrong.

We've paid almost a billion dollars to a Canadian firm whose vice-president is a college buddy of Michelle Obama's from their black radical days at Princeton to create a webpage to enroll people mandated by this law to do so, Obama having turned down the U.S. firm IBM's offer to create it for free. It doesn't work. 

Moreover, the continuing problems with this webpage -- and law -- are so substantial and intractable that the White House propaganda machine has stopped referring to it as ObamaCare or even the Affordable Care Act. Everyone now knows that for most people, the plan loaded with mandated coverage to curry favors with privileged tranches of voters like college girls who want free contraceptives and abortion coverage and to permit anyone to sign up after they found out they need costly care, not before, is far more expensive than what they were previously paying for medical insurance. It's some kind of no-name thing. Either that or, to be an honest descriptor, we could call it the UCA (Unaffordable Care Act). Under any name it's dramatically swamping the president and his party's standing among voters.

Younger voters who passionately supported the president in both election shots are running away from UCA, a law which depends on them to foot a disproportionate share of the financial burden:
A new poll from Harvard University's Institute of Politics shows young people increasingly cooling to President Obama and his signature domestic achievement, Obamacare. Fifty-four percent of young people (ages 18 to 29) disapprove of the job Obama is doing. A total of 47 percent of young people, including 52 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 24, say they would choose to recall Obama if they could.
Obamacare is undoubtedly a major force in this change among so-called Millennials (61 percent say they disapprove of his handling of health care). The poll found that 57 percent of young people disapprove of Obamacare, with just 38 percent approving of the law. The numbers were not significantly different when those polled were asked how they felt about the "Affordable Care Act" as opposed to "Obamacare." A plurality said the law would make their health care worse (44 percent for "Obamacare" and 40 percent for the "Affordable Care Act") while a majority (51 percent for "Obamacare" and 50 percent for the "Affordable Care Act") said they believed the amount they would pay for health care under the law would increase.
As Ron Fournier at National Journal points out, younger Millennials (those under the age of 25) are in particular turning against Obama.
And each day we learn of new, more difficult to resolve, problems with it.

For one thing, there's no way to pay for the mandated insurance by December 23 as the law requires purchasers to do.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: People are receiving cancellations. They know they lost their insurance. There is no way to talk around it.
The other thing that the Obama administration, the White House, is pushing is the success of the exchanges because they got 30,000 people supposedly enrolled. Let's assume it's enrolled.
They aren't enrolled.
BRET BAIER: There's nobody that really paid their premium.
KRAUTHAMMER: Exactly. Shopping and semi-enrolled -- aspirationally enrolled, let's put it that way -- in two days. Well, if you do the math on that and you continue that enrollment up until the deadline of the 23rd of December, you come out with a number, which means that of the 5 million people who have lost insurance, 6% will have it restored. All the rest will not have it. And that's without adding a single person who never had insurance in the first place. It is a disaster with the numbers that the White House is touting.
Hit and Run describes the payment issue's evolution on Just One Minute:
"In addition to fixing the technical problems with, the significant 'back-end' issues must also be resolved to ensure that coverage can begin on January 1, 2014. In particular, the ongoing problems with processing "834″ enrollment files need to be fixed." AHIP President, Karen Ignagni said (via WaPo), December 1.
"The back end sounds like some obscure curlicue in the process," Krauthammer said. "It's the cash register! It's the point at which you make the purchase. And if you don't have correct information or any information, you don't have a purchase. You don't have enrollment. You don't have a plan, you have a catastrophe."-- stuff Krauthammer said, December 3
Dun dun dun!
"Now, this is like having a really good product in the store and the cash registers don't work... so we are working overtime to get this fixed."-- stuff Obama said,
...wait for it...
November 6.
Requiring people to buy insurance when you don't have a cash register to take their money is typical of the law and website's conundrums and when you learn Obama apparently manages by telekinesis, you can understand why:
The Government Accountability Institute report found that since Obamacare was signed on March 23, 2010, Obama met with "various Cabinet secretaries a total of 277 times," but his presidential schedule did not "document a single one-on-one meeting" with Sebelius. There was, though, "one instance of Secretary Sebelius meeting jointly with the President and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner." Breitbart Big Govt 
Obama shut down the federal government rather than delay UCA's individual mandate provision though he keeps exempting new favored blocs and delaying various provisions. Instead he's cranked up the propaganda machine, particularly the stuff aimed at the young. The efforts have been ridiculous, a clear sign, 

I suppose of how little regard he has for the intellectual capacity of those who voted disproportionately for him (a point on which he and I are in rare agreement}.

By way of example, HHS named as a winner of their video propaganda outreach one entry which is titled "Forget About the Price Tag."

In a White House Youth Summit, Obama "called on young people to do whatever they can to promote his signature health care law -- including plying their customers with cheap booze. "If you are a bartender, have a happy hour," Obama said as the crowd laughed. "And also probably get health insurance because a lot of people don't have it." Obama also encouraged young people who are student body presidents or workers at nonprofit organizations to help people get enrolled. "If you've got a radio show, spread the word on air," Obama added. Obama called on young people's sense of patriotism to join...."

Increasingly, more substantive problems with UCA were making themselves known. Many top hospitals were refusing to participate. Many doctors were retiring rather than go along with this quality care killer. 

Indeed, it was reliably reported by Washington Examiner's Richard Pollack that seven out of ten California doctors were refusing to participate in that state's health exchange. Reminds me of Sam Goldwyn's observation that when people don't want to come to the theater nothing can stop them.

So far, the law applies to a relatively small number of people -- when it expands to cover employer mandates and more millions are thrown into the UCA pool, the disaster will snowball. As my friend DoT notes: "Once the employer mandate kicks in they'll be hunting Democrats with dogs in this country."

Noemie Emery explains why Obama's "inverse genius" is causing so much voter angst and disdain:
By threatening their lives as well as their budgets, Obama has created a huge class of losers, who statistically overrun the small class of winners and outweigh them in savvy, no doubt. "A significant minority of losers or self-perceived losers and a few high profile bad outcomes are more than enough to cause real political problems," as Kaiser Foundation head honcho Drew Altman informs us. They're not a minority, and they have, and they will.
As National Journal's James Oliphant tells us, the plan will insure about 25 million, about half of the number serviced by Medicare, at the expense of almost everyone else in the country, who stand to lose something -- in anxiety, money, or care. Those helped "represent just a relative handful of people, many of whom sit at the lower end of the political spectrum, and engage little with the political process ... that's what's going to make any sort of renewed national sales pitch so difficult. Among the politically active, the damage is done."
Math is so hard for Democrats.

So, if Obama wasn't managing his namesake signature legislation, apart from ribbon cuttings, offending our allies, giving away the store to our enemies, firing our military officers, and blowing through the national treasure, what has he been doing? He's been acting as the star of his own production, Obama, the President and starring in a series of preposterous publicity poses the White House photographers then release to show, for example, that the meaning of the deaths of famous people and the commemoration of historical figures are really significant only as they reveal his reactions to these events.

So while Obama paid no obvious attention to the provisions in the 2,000-plus pages law or the thousands of regulations HHS churned out along with the inoperability of a critically defective, grossly overpriced website, what was he doing?

Ace of Spades explains that Obama and his most ardent fans, including, of course, the New York Times and Chris Matthews, see the presidency as a drama in which the hero, not his MacGuffin [object of the quest], is all that matters.
It's the Hero that the rapt fan is interested in, not the MacGuffin.
The left is just interested in the character, the Hero... [Ed: he fisks the NYT's sappy account of Obama's Christmas book buying]
President Obama has never visited the rugged mountains of Chechnya, but if he digs into one of the novels he bought last weekend, "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena," he will be transported to a land of unremitting violence and tragedy, where the innocent are caught up in war as often as the guilty.
Perhaps Mr. Obama is seeking a deeper understanding of the roots of the ethnic bloodletting after Chechnya vaulted back to the front pages this year with the Boston Marathon bombings. Or perhaps he is thinking about his troubled relationship with Russia.
Either way, the novel would give the president a more visceral feel for one of the world's most brutal conflicts than the graphic intelligence papers that cross his desk.
"I imagine someone in his position gets a lot of facts and figures," Anthony Marra, the author of the book, mused the other day. "But the novel is really about the experience, about the psyche and the soul."
A reading list offers a rare window into the presidential mind, a peek at what a commander in chief may be thinking about beyond the prosaic and repetitive briefings that dominate his days.
Yes who cares about those repetitive boring briefings. I mean, there's nothing interesting going on, certainly, apart from the intense drama of his signature policy initiative going up in flames.
I'm not sure if we can call a several-times-per-week [ed: of Obama's reference to "his journey"] occurrence rare.
In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the concern for Obama's actual record that's rare. The intense interest in Obama the Personality is the common thing.
The right has repeatedly belittled Obama as a "Celebrity." And indeed that is what he is. His fans are primarily interested in Barack the Man, Barack the Personality.
And not so much as Barack Obama, the executor of federal law.
[The books he purchased] are volumes about identity and reinvention, about what it means to be American, and about family, love, betrayal and redemption.
Yup -- movie themes. Book themes. Story themes
The New York Times, like Chris Matthews, is not interested in policy. It is solely interested in the travails and triumphs of their Hero, Barack Obama.
Right now I, too, see Obama as star of his own movie, he's standing on the prow of the Titanic as it sinks beneath the waves.

American Thinker