Sunday, January 31, 2010

Conservative Successes During Obama’s First Year in Office

Even though there is a liberal President of the United States and his Democratic Party holds a large majority in Congress under liberal leadership, conservatives have nevertheless been able to achieve a number of successes during Barak Obama’s first year in office. Although Obama was successful in obtaining Congressional approval of the massive spending bills he signed into law, conservatives were successful in opposing some major items on his and the Congressional liberal Democratic majority’s legislative agenda. Conservatives also won a number of landmark victories at the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a presidential candidate, Obama had promised as his first act to sign the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, which would eliminate all state restrictions on abortion and end the prohibition of federal funding of abortion. Public disapproval of abortion on demand and taxpayer funding has made Congressional liberal Democrats reluctant to pursue this item on their legislative agenda. In the face of conservative opposition, Obama has not expressed support for Congressional liberal Democrats' effort to pass the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which would require equal broadcast time for opposing points of view, regardless of what the market wants, which, for example, would effectively silence conservative talk radio. Congressional Republicans have united successfully in opposition to liberal legislative agenda item that is supported by Obama: card check, which effectively would eliminate the secret ballot in union elections. Conservatives were also successful in substantially defunding the scandal-plagued leftwing ACORN group at the federal level, as well as in some states.

Obama’s proposal to address the supposed issue of climate change, known as “cap and trade,” has also been blocked by conservative opposition in Congress. Similarly, his proposal to federalize health insurance has also been thwarted. Although these proposals, both of which would raise taxes, has been blocked thus far, as well as any other substantial increase in taxes, Obama’s support for them and other tax increases has continued to harm the economy by creating uncertainty among investors and businesses, which causes them to loose confidence and not invest or expand their businesses.

So far, Obama has been unable to close the U.S. terrorist detention center at its base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and transfer its inmates to the United States, an unpopular proposal opposed by conservatives.

Meanwhile, conservative principles were upheld in three landmark cases by the Supreme Court. The Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms was upheld as a universal right. The Civil Rights Act was modified in support of states’ rights so as to allow minor decision-making to be made at the local level in certain states, without federal approval, as is the case in the other states not covered by the Act. Corporations, including non-profit issue-advocacy organizations that have incorporated, and labor unions are now free to expend funds for political advertisement because the Court struck down as unconstitutional certain restrictions on political expression supported by some liberals, including the Obama Administration.

These successes should give encouragement for conservatives both to express their beliefs and to seek election to political office. In my next post, I shall examine how the policies and political mistakes of Obama and the liberal Congressional Democratic leadership have contributed to their unpopularity and provided opportunities for conservatives.

Friday, January 29, 2010

State of the Union vs. State of the Country

When the president of a club reports to the body on the state of the organization he leads, he focuses on the organization’s administration, finances, membership and activities, not on the condition of the personal lives of the members. Similarly, when the Secretary General of the United Nations delivers the State of the U.N. speech, it is expected that he address the condition of the organization he leads, not the collective condition of the 192 members of that body.

But when modern presidents deliver the State of the Union address, there is little surprise that they spend much of their speech discussing the collective condition of the states, instead of focusing strictly on the federal Union.
Modern presidents focus on the American economy, which is not the responsibility of the federal government, or what plans they have to benefit this or that group of citizens. If a club president strayed so far from where he is supposed to focus, the members would be shocked and demand that he focus on fulfilling the responsibility with which they had entrusted him. If a UN Secretary General were to loose such focus, Americans, who are protective of their sovereignty, would rightly object. But they are not shocked when the President of the United States strays equally far from where he is supposed to focus. Indeed, they expect it and, at times, they even encourage it!

As I have noted in previous posts, the United States of America is not a country, but a union of states. In other words, it is a union of countries, which are sovereign independent states. The Constitution that created the U.S. requires the president to report annually on the State of the Union. That same document limits this federal union to certain enumerated powers, all of which are federal in nature. While the United States (the United States is the name of the federal union) has responsibility for defense and foreign affairs, as well as a few other common matters (e.g. commerce between, but not within, the states of the Union, naturalization, currency, copyrights and patents), domestic matters such as the macroeconomic conditions or health insurance are left to the sovereign states, just as member states of the U.N. have sovereignty over their domestic affairs. Put another way, the United States does not mean the 50 states that have been admitted to the Union, but only the Union that those states have formed, just as the U.N. does not mean its 192 members, but the organization they have formed. In short, the United States is not a place, but a federal union, just as the United Nations is not a place, but an international organization.

Therefore, the State of the Union means only the condition of that Union, not of the states that have been admitted to it. This distinction is critical to understanding the principle of federalism. It is imperative that conservatives maintain this distinction in language, as well as all such federalist distinctions, in order to educate their fellow citizens. Avoiding terms that erode the principle of federalism, examples of which I have cited in earlier posts, helps to restore the system established by the Framers of the Constitution that is a safeguard of liberty against the centralization of power.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Update on the Italian Crucifixes in Schools Case

The Italian government will appeal the European Court of Justice ruling that Crucifixes in its schools must be removed, according to a report in ANSA, the Italian news agency. I discussed this issue in my post entitled Berlusconi Defies European Court, Keeps Crucifixes in Italian Schools.

The court ruling was widely unpopular in predominately Catholic Italy, which refused to implement it. Although some on the left were in favor of removing the Crucifixes, even the Communists supported keeping them, according to a recent editorial in the Philadelphia Bulletin, where I had first seen a story on this subject in November. The case was brought by a Finnish woman. Italy’s appeal will be supported by a number of other European states, according to ANSA.

The Italian Supreme Court had ruled in 2004 that Crucifixes may remain in both schools and classrooms, but its opinion was not detailed, according to ANSA. This time, an Italian Cabinet member stated that the government plans to present “an abundance of documentation and evidence” in its appeal, according to the Italian news agency.

ANSA reports that around that time Nativity scenes were removed from the schools, however, and Christmas plays no longer performed so as not to offend Muslims. Nativity scenes were invented in Italy by St. Francis of Assisi in the Thirteenth Century. Pope John Paul II the Great warned that Europe was losing its Christian identity.

Meanwhile, ANSA reports that a judicial disciplinary body has removed a Jewish judge who refused to hear cases in courtrooms with a Crucifix. He intends to appeal the decision to Italy’s highest court of appeal, and, if failing there, to the European Court of Human Rights, according to the report.

As the Bulletin noted, the Italians, on both the left and the right, recognize that their equality and liberty comes from their faith, of which the Crucifix serves as a reminder. Perhaps even the Communists are sensitive about the removal of Crucifixes from public places because of their removal by the atheist Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who had large portraits of himself installed in the classrooms in their place.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling for Freedom of Expression

The United States Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion today on political advertisements by corporations. In a 5-4 ruling, the majority overturned decades of federal case law and part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

At issue was a movie produced by Citizens United, a non-profit corporation. The Federal Elections Commission had ruled that the movie amounted to a political advertisement, which violated federal election law banning such advertisements by corporations. Citizens United argued that the movie was an expression of free speech, a ban of which was unconstitutional.

The Court could have ruled narrowly that a corporate-funded movie or book was not a violation of the law, while retaining the ban on advertising for political candidates or issues by corporations. But in a sweeping decision, the Court ruled that corporations could use their own funds for any political advertising, subject to disclosure regulations, although not by donting those funds directly to candidates. The Court thus overturned as unconstitutional various federal cases and part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that banned corporate and union political advertisement within 30 days of an election.

The liberal argument in support of the federal restriction of political expression was that corporations, which are groups of people who freely associate themselves, are not people, despite longstanding legal precedent that they are legally understood as such. Liberals were concerned that people’s voices would be drowned out by corporations (i.e. groups of people). The Obama Administration recognized the flaw in the left’s argument that citizens united in non-profit corporations, like Citizens United, should be barred from exercising their collective freedom of expression. It attempted to limit the Court’s ruling to allow only non-profit corporations to use their funds for political advertising while continuing the restriction on for-profit corporations, but because federal election law made no distinction between for-profit and non-profit corporations, the Court struck the entire provision.

The ruling is believed also to allow political advertising by labor unions. Citizens United was joined by an unusual alliance of business and labor, conservatives and liberals. The Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, along with conservative organizations like the NRA supported Citizens United's case.

I would have voted with the majority, but in a concurrent opinion. The majority upheld its precedent that spending money equals freedom of speech. I would have argued that such political expression represents freedom of the press, i.e. the freedom to publish, a point upon which I intend to elaborate in a future post.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Conservative Analysis of Obama's First Year in Office

Today is the first anniversary of the inauguration of Barak Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. Although it is too early to completely judge the success or failure of Obama's presidency, it is possible to analyse his performance based upon what is already known.

On the War on Terrorism, Obama has mostly followed the policies initiated by his predecessor, George W. Bush, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even increased the use of missiles strikes against terrorists from unmanned drones. However, he has weakened a number of policies, such as for interrogations. The Obama Administration has even published the U.S. methods of interrogation, which allows the terrorist enemy to train how to evade them. His civilian trials for the September 11 conspirators reflect the pre-September 11 view of terrorism still held by most liberals that terrorism is a criminal matter, not a war being waged against the U.S. by its enemies. The trials risk acquittal and the revelation of sources and methods of intelligence, while providing the terrorists with a platform to justify their evil deeds and imposing a greater security challenge to New York City. Obama is sticking with his pledge to close the terrorist prison at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; he has proposed sending the terrorists to the United States. These moves, combined with his apologetic, accomodationist rhetoric, have encouraged the terrorists who interpret such an attitude a weakness worthy of contempt, while undermining the morale of U.S. allies and American troops.

Similarly, Obama has dealt weekly and ineffectively with Iran, in regard to its nuclear weapons program, while softening the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Meanwhile, he has disrespected American allies, such as by abandoning Bush's agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic to place missile defense components on their soil as protection against Russia and Iran, while imposing sanctions on Honduras for thwarting its leader's attempt to become a dictator in the style of Venezuela's anti-American Hugo Chavez. In short, Obama has exhibited the typical liberal pattern of treating American enemies better than its allies.

On a more positive side, Obama expanded the response to Mexican border drug violence, withheld aid to Nicaragua's government led by Marxist Daniel Ortega, rescued an American captain from Somali pirates and responded appropriately to the Haitian earthquake.

Obama has failed to submit free trade agreements Bush had negotiated with Columbia, Panama and South Korea to the U.S. Senate for ratification, while he sparked unnecessary trade conflicts with with Mexico, Canada, the European Union and China.

Obama's pessimistic speech damaged the economy by undermining consumer confidence. He further undermined confidence in the economy with his massive borrowing and spending, which has dramatically increased the debt. Obama quietly repealed welfare reform, by replacing the incentive for states to reduce welfare rolls with an incentive to increase them, thereby further adding to the debt and government dependency. Although he extended Bush's middle class tax cuts, Obama raised the cigarette tax, while his proposals to raise income taxes for small businesses and upper income-earners, as well as his proposals to raise various taxes on the middle class through his environmental policy of cap and trade and proposed federalization of health insurance have seriously eroded investor confidence.

The centralization of power by the Obama Administration has been staggering, as the federal government took over two of the big three automakers and the student loan business, in addition to most mortgages. These moves provided Obama the opportunity to help political allies like the labor unions, for example, who were given large shares of the auto companies that they had helped send into bankruptcy, at the expense of creditors and stockholders. Additionally, Obama required prevailing wage contracts, meaning that contractors for federally-funded projects must pay workers at higher union rates than if the projects were more competitively bid by including contractors who paid their workers at non-union rates, which means that taxpayer-funded projects will be more expensive than necessary.

Obama has continued Bush's education reforms and faith-based initiatives, but has required federal tax dollars to be spent for abortion, specifically through non-governmental organizations that promote it abroad and throughout he District of Columbia, as well as the for the destruction of human embryos. He also extended federal health insurance benefits to homosexual partners.

Obama has appointed liberals to the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts.

In conclusion, Barak Obama's first year as president has been characterized by massive deficit spending and the expansion of the federal government at the expense of liberty, the promotion of liberalism socially, politically and legally, and the weakening of U.S. policies in the War on Terrorism.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Conservative Wins Critical Special Election in Massachusetts

Conservative Republican Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown won an upset victory today in a critically important special election for the United States Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Edward Kennedy.

Brown's victory will bring to 41 the number of Republican Senators, meaning that the Democrats will no longer have the 60-seat supermajority necessary to cut off debate, i.e. end filibusters. Once Brown is certified and seated, the Republican minority essentially would have a legislative veto over harmful Congressional Democratic bills, most notably their proposal to federalize health insurance. Brown promised to be the 41st vote in favor of continuing debate on the matter, thus forcing the Democrats either to negotiate a more bipartisan reformist bill with the Republican minority or abandon their increasingly unpopular big-government proposal altogether.

Brown ran a populist conservative campaign that focused not only on opposing the federalization of health insurance, but on reducing federal spending and taxes. Lt. Colonel Brown also opposed the treatment of terrorists with the rights and privileges of Americans accused of crimes, instead of as unlawful combatants. In short, Brown emerged as the candidate of change -- from the policies of U.S. President Barak Obama.

Indeed, the special election was widely interpreted as a referendum on Obama's policies. Obama's last-minute campaign appearance in Massachusetts for the Democratic candidate only added to the evidence that Brown's victory represented a rejection of Obama's overspending and tax-raising, political payoffs to supporters and fellow Democratic politicians and special interests, and softness on terrorism.

The Brown campaign invoked President John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts with advertisements including Kennedy's voice in which he argues for cutting taxes, in contrast to the record of his more liberal younger brother, Edward, which was a clever way for Brown to escape from the shadow of the late Senator. In response to a question at a candidates' debate about whether Brown would be comfortable in Edward Kennedy's seat opposing the federalized health insurance for which the long-serving Kennedy had advocated, the Republican delivered one of the best lines in campaign history, by noting that the seat was neither Kennedy's, nor the Democrats' seat, but “the people’s seat.”

Brown becomes the first Bay State Republican to be elected to the Senate from the 3:1 Democrat to Republican Massachusetts since 1972. The GOP candidate, who just a few weeks ago was trailing in opinion polls by over 30%, won by a 52-47% margin in a high-turnout election, according to unofficial returns. Brown's election will give encouragement to Republican candidates for many public offices in what otherwise might be considered long-shot campaigns.

Ironically, Brown's election comes on the same day that New Jersey's new governor, Republican Chris Christie, was inaugurated. Virginia's new governor, Republican Bob McDonnell, was sworn in last week. Both replaced Democratic governors. As in both of their elections, the Democrats tried to tie Brown to former President George W. Bush's policies, but the voters rejected the liberal big-government policies of the Democrats instead.

Brown's election victory indicates the strength of the popular Tea Party movement, which represents voter opposition to the borrowing, taxing and spending ways of big government, with its centralization of power and corresponding loss of liberty. Conservatives are now energized by their stunning political accomplishment, which ought to motivate them to support like-minded candidates. The victory also suggests some voter approval of the Republican governors Massachusetts has elected over the last 16 years until the last election, the last of whom, Mitt Romney, campaigned notably for Brown.

This special election win for a populist conservative suggests that Obama and the liberal Congressional Democratic majority do not represent the kind of change (i.e. reform) that voters want. Unless Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill moderate their big-government policies, Scott Brown's election victory will have been a harbinger of the 2010 mid-term congressional elections, which tend to favor the party opposite of the president.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Comparison of the Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian Earthquake

The difficulty in distributing aid to the Haitians quickly underscores the magnitude of the catastrophe of the earthquake near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and the logistical challenges it poses, especially given the weakness of the Haitian government even before much of it was destroyed by the quake. The damage to Port-au-Prince’s airport, the destruction of the city’s port and the blocking of the roads leading into it, as in Louisiana after the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, will slow the distribution of aid.

The difference between a disaster and a catastrophe is that the former is manageable and the latter not. Put another way, if it is manageable, it is not a catastrophe. Indeed, it is incomprehensible how the critics of the Bush Administration’s response Hurricane Katrina fail to grasp the destructive energy of a hurricane as strong as Katrina, especially considering that many of them claim to be environmentalists who, therefore, ought to understand power of nature.

The biased political critics who maintain that the Bush Administration’s response was “slow” and “ineffective,” do not appreciate that the federal response was nonetheless the largest and fastest in American history, even though the U.S. is not obligated to do anything for individual states in the Union, which must request federal help. In other words, President George W. Bush did not do a bad job in response to Hurricane Katrina, because it was not his job or any responsibility of the federal government whatsoever to respond to natural disasters in the first place.

Nevertheless, because of federal meteorological monitoring, the Bush Administration declared a state of emergency before the storm – an unprecedented step. It urged the states in the path of the storm to order mandatory evacuations, which Louisiana was reluctant to do. Thankfully, some people did obey the order. Even the U.S. Navy had had to evacuate its ships from the area, which meant that they could not be available immediately to participate in the federal relief effort that the Bush Administration’s critics insist should have been managed neatly like a typical disaster.

It is worth noting that Mississippi and Alabama were hit harder by Hurricane Katrina and the storm surge it produced than Louisiana, which was apparent until the waters rose to the catastrophic flood stage. The difference, however, in those states’ responses to what was a major disaster, was also evident. Louisiana had not prepared as properly as they had done and had relatively ineffective leaders. As a result, it was overwhelmed by the catastrophe and had to depend upon federal assistance. A general difference in public attitudes about dependency on government was also in contrast between Louisianans and the citizens of other states, who did not sit and wait for federal help and then complain about the delay in receiving it once it did arrive, but worked to help themselves. The leaders and citizens of the other states expressed their gratitude for the Bush Administration’s help.

The U.S. responded rapidly in Louisiana once that state belatedly requested federal aid. For example, the Coast Guard rescued a record number of people, all of whom had failed to obey the evacuation order. Blocked roads and destroyed bridges made the logistics of providing relief to the U.S. Gulf Coast a significant challenge, but the flood exacerbated the problem. The critical port of New Orleans was rendered unusual because of the damage from the hurricane, which was one of the few legitimate areas of federal responsibility. Assistant U.S. Maritime Administrator Kevin Krick, my good friend from the Reading, Pennsylvania area, invoked a federal contingency plan that had never before been implemented to federalize private shipping in order to reopen the port quickly -- a move, which was successful, and for which Krick was awarded a medal. The Bush Administration also freed up oil from the Strategic Petroleum reserve because of some of the interruption of supply because of damages to the oil industry rigs and facilities in the path of the hurricane. In short, the Bush Administration went above and beyond its call of duty in successfully responding to the largest catastrophe in American history. Instead of criticizing the Bush Administration’s response to the catastrophic hurricane, these critics ought to have expressed gratitude for what it did accomplish.

As in response to Hurricane Katrina, the American military is quickly responding to Haiti’s desperate time of need, which occurred without warning. It has assumed control of the Port-au-Prince airport, but, as was the case in Louisiana, the logistical difficulties caused by the earthquake damage and the lack of adequate support from the local sovereign government will limit what it can do in such a short time, as is the case in any catastrophe.

Political critics have been praising the Obama Administration’s vigorous response to the earthquake in Haiti by contrasting it to the Bush Administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, which they condemn. The facts already had disproved their criticism of the Bush Administration’s record on the hurricane, which was far batter than they maintain. Now, however, the earthquake in Haiti is beginning to prove just how unfair and biased the criticism directed against the Bush Administration was.

The International Crisis in Haiti

The recent devastating earthquake in Haiti is especially heartbreaking because the country was just beginning to experience progress, thanks to the restoration of democracy during the Bush Administration and the security provided by the United Nations.

The UN relieved United States troops, who had initially been sent by President George W. Bush after Haiti’s left-wing dictator, Jean Bertrand Aristide, had been overthrown. Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, had restored Aristide to power after he had been overthrown the first time, and sent U.S. troops to keep the peace. As mentioned in my post, A Coup for Democracy in Honduras, Clinton justified his action because Aristide, like Adolph Hitler or Hugo Chavez, had been elected. The recent restoration of democracy had provided Haitians with the hope of political stability, which had been lacking in its two-hundred year history as the first black republic and the only state founded through a slave rebellion. The restoration of democracy in Haiti had allowed the first signs of economic growth in the poorest state in the Western Hemisphere, which attracted foreign investment. It is hoped that the earthquake will provide the opportunity to raise Haiti’s standard of living above what it had been before the catastrophe.

President Barak Obama has thus now become the third straight U.S. president to send troops to Haiti. They were not the first American presidents to send troops to the former French colony. In recent years, only Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Liberia are comparable. Four straight U.S. Commanders in Chief authorized military action in Iraq, starting with President George H.W. Bush. Clinton was the only one who did not send troops, but he struck Iraq with missiles on several occasions during his administration, while Iraq violated its 1991 cease-fire by attacking American and Coalition aircraft in almost daily combat over the No Fly Zones for the last several years before the Liberation of Iraq in 2003, during both the Clinton and Bush Administrations. In Afghanistan, Clinton ordered a missile strike against an al-Qaeda base, and his two successors have commanded troops in combat there in the War on Terrorism. When Somalia was struck with famine, George H.W. Bush sent troops there to aid the Somalis. U.S. troops engaged in combat under his and his immediate successor’s administrations. Both George W. Bush and Obama ordered missile strikes or bombings in Somalia against al-Qaeda targets there. Both President Bushes sent troops to Liberia, while American soldiers protecting the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia had to engage in combat during the Liberian Civil War while Clinton was president.

To Obama’s credit, he has followed the model set by his immediate predecessor in response to the 2004 Asian Tsunami and asked both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to co-lead the fundraising effort for the relief of Haiti.

The unprecedented destruction of a national capitol and much of its effective government in peacetime makes the Haitian earthquake an international matter, especially because of the foreign embassies there, as well as the presence of many foreigners, such as tens of thousands of Americans. Haiti is of additional interest to the United States because of its proximity. Problems in Haiti have periodically caused Haitians to set out on boats across the open sea to attempt to get to America. Many were rescued and held at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Air Base in Cuba for screening. The proximity adds responsibility to the U.S., as the nearest Great Power, to tend to its neighbor within its sphere of influence. It is also in the U.S. interest that Haiti not becomes an anarchical state like Somalia, whereby Marxists like Aristide, who offered to return to power, could try to take over the country.

The Guantanamo Bay base is once again proving to be invaluable, as the Coast Guard flew injured American Embassy staff from Port-au-Prince to the U.S. base within hours of the earthquake. It may once again be needed to screen refugees.

Governments around the world are responding to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, but it the U.S. that is taking the lead. The American military will, as always, make Americans proud. Together with the famous generosity of the American people, a truer image of the United States will be seen around the world than the one its external and internal critics would have everyone believe.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Liberals' Limitless Limit

The Commerce Clause of the Constitution (Article I Section 8 Clause 3) grants authority to the United States to “regulate commerce . . . among the several states [interstate commerce].” Because the Commerce Clause does not grant authority to regulate intrastate commerce (commerce within a state), it represents a limit to federal authority, as a safeguard to liberty. Liberals, however, falsely interpret it as representing absolutely limitless authority.

It makes sense that federal laws would regulate interstate commerce. The Commerce Clause, for example, ensures that there would be no tariffs between states, thereby making the United States a free trade zone. It also regulates health and safety of goods transported between states. Commerce that occurs only within a state is not a matter subject to federal regulation, but state regulation.

During the early part of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, liberals, together with a number of Northern conservatives, used the constitutional argument that the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution required that states must treat citizens equally in (e.g. to guarantee voting privileges for all people or to desegregate schools). But liberals were never satisfied with the Constitution. When that founding document limited their authority to do whatever they wanted, they essentially repealed it by changing the meaning of its words – without going through the required democratic process of amending it. They began to expand the interpretation of the Commerce Clause to such an extent that its limitation has become meaningless.

Liberals then claimed that because interstate commerce could potentially be interstate commerce (for example, the owner of a restaurant in a small town might possibly some day be patronized by an out-of-state visitor), all commerce is “interstate commerce,” which gives the federal government the authority to regulate all commerce, not only that among the states. As a result, the federal government now regulates all commerce, whether it is interstate or not, based on this theory that even intrastate commerce could potentially be interstate commerce, which means that the federal government has increasingly grown in its power and size.

In recent years, liberals have begun to interpret the Commerce Clause even more loosely. One state opted to produce guns that would be regulated by that state in such as way that the guns could not be sold to anyone out of state. In other words, this form of commerce would statutorily meet the definition of being intrastate commerce, not interstate commerce, which would thus not be subject to federal regulation. But liberals argued that the federal government would nevertheless be able to regulate it because even intrastate commerce could affect the U.S. economy, which, they claimed, is enough for them to assert their authority to regulate the activity. As I have noted in earlier posts, there is no Constitutional authority for the federal government to regulate the economy, as the economy is not the responsibility of government. Protecting the rights of the people is the responsibility of government.

This more liberal interpretation of the Commerce Clause is being applied to President Barak Obama’s proposed federalization of health insurance, except it is now being interpreted in an even looser way than before. Now, liberals are arguing that the federal government can – for the first time – require people to purchase something from a private business (in this case, health insurance), as a condition of residing in the United States. Their new argument is that even a choice not to engage in commerce at all (i.e. not to purchase health insurance) is nonetheless a form of commerce. Put another way, the liberals believe that they can even force someone to engage in commerce – intrastate commerce, at that, as the federal government bans the purchase of health insurance by citizens from one state from other states – under the Commerce Clause that grants the federal government only the authority to regulate commerce among the states. In short, the constitutional limit on the regulation of intrastate commerce is not being followed because liberals do not want any limitations on the federal government’s absolute authority to regulate whatever they want.

But the larger concern is that the liberal interpretation of the Constitution renders the founding document of the United States subject to the whim of liberals who want to expand the power of government instead of as a limit on government power. If liberals can change the meaning of a limit on power to something that gives them limitless power, then there is no part of the Constitution safe from their power essentially to repeal it through their insistence that words mean only what they intend them to mean, instead of what the Framers of the Constitution and its Amendments intended them to mean at the time they were democratically approved.

In conclusion, the constitutional protections of liberty through the limitation of the power of the federal government are being increasingly weakened, especially by an ever-looser interpretation of the Commerce Clause. It is critical for liberty that conservatives vociferously oppose the loosening of the interpretation of the Commerce Clause, especially as represented in Obama’s and the Congressional liberal Democrats’ proposed federal mandate to purchase heath insurance. Conservatives should demand an answer as to whether or not liberals believe the Constitution establishes any limits whatsoever on federal power.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Zero U.S. Combat Deaths in Iraq in December

In what should have been reported as major news, the United States suffered zero combat deaths in Iraq in December for the first time since the Liberation of Iraq began in 2003.

Last month reflected a sharp downward trend in combat deaths in Iraq that began after the troop surge in 2006 as both Saddam Hussein's Baathists and al-Qaeda have been vanquished, and as Shi'ite-Sunni violence has dramatically decreased. The war continues, although to a much-lesser degree than before, but for the U.S. and its allies, which have turned the responsibility for security of more and areas of Iraq over to the Iraqis, the war has increasingly become a minor war -- the opposite trend of the more challenging Afghanistan.

It is becoming, therefore, increasingly difficult to understand the domestic political pressure to withdraw all American troops in order to “bring them home,” as if they would be stationed in their own homes, or even that all U.S. troops are stationed in the U.S., and not in Germany, Japan, South Korea, or even at ongoing special missions like Kosovo. It is reasonable to trust the Iraqis, whom the U.S. has been training, to fulfill their responsibility to secure their own country, and to withdraw American troops only out of respect for Iraqi sovereignty, but to withdraw only because of intimidation from militant Muslims is misguided. It is worth noting that 14 Americans were killed by militant Muslims in acts of Jihad on American soil in 2009, one in Arkansas and 13 in Texas.

Today, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, when Magi (the “Wise Men”) from the East, at least one of whom was from ancient Iraq, made a pilgrimage to pay homage to Jesus Christ, the newborn King of the Jews. It should not have been a surprise to many opponents of the Liberation of Iraq that the Iraqi experiment in self-determination has proven to be successful, now that the modern foreign ideas of totalitarian dictatorship, as represented by the socialist Baathists and by al-Qaeda, have been defeated.

Nine-Month Blog Report

I am pleased that after three-quarters of a year since I installed my counter on April 2, 2009, my blog has been visited over 1,175 times. Thank you! A visit is defined as a hit at least one hour after the previous one, not including my own visits.

Since my last report, I have posted for the 150th time since my blog was launched in November of 2008. A single post, The Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization, reached the milestone of 250 visits, not including those who began their visit to my blog through its homepage. Those who began their visit to my blog through one of its posts have viewed 82 posts. Visitors have come from 55 foreign states, with Malaysia continuing to lead, followed by the United Kingdom, Algeria, Canada, India and Pakistan. California continues to be the source of the most visits among American states.

Additionally, my counter has logged visits to unknown pages, especially lately, that I do not count among the visits.

My blog offers not only historical commentary from my unique perspective, but also occasionally Italian news. I usually am able to obtain Italian news in English, but sometimes must translate from Italian, which I am getting increasingly better at doing, I am proud to say.

I have updated the links listed on my blog, adding one to the 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, and updating the link to the Italian American Cultural Center. I only post links there to which I am personally connected, as a cousin was among those killed in the September 11 Attacks, while the connections to the other links are explained in my profile. Please visit these web pages.

Again, thank you for your support of this blog. Happy New Year!