One endless point of contention between progressives and conservatives is over the proper role of government.
Conservatives, for their part, have always believed that a smaller, less centralized, less intrusive government works best and most efficiently. And this, of course, applies to the issue of healthcare.
And yet this hands-off, non-government approach to ensuring coverage is a position more Americans have come to embrace over the past decade. Just look at how much public opinion has shifted on the following question since 2006:
In other words:
Congratulations, Obama. You’ve changed Americans’ minds on the role of the federal government in healthcare. http://t.co/XXbJgmFPfb— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) November 20, 2014
Prior to the feverish days of ‘Hope and Change,’ respondents were very open to the idea of the federal government taking the lead on healthcare and thus supplying coverage to every American. It seems that the public’s experience with Obamacare, however, has utterly changed their minds.
Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer once observed that as a direct result of the Obama presidency, and his transformative experiment in health care reform, the case for liberalism “will be set back a full generation.”
If this poll is any indication, it seems he was correct.
The Reverends Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz have published in First Things what they've dubbed the "Marriage Pledge." The pledge would effectively separate civil marriage from the religious ceremony—signers of the pledge would refuse to sign marriage certificates, for instance. The pledge has been signed by more than 100 members of the clergy, as well as laypersons in support of the pledge and came about due to fears of pastors being forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. This is a perilous time. Divorce and co-habitation have weakened marriage. We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word.
The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.
Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.
This seems like a good happy medium in the debate over religious freedom, and the folks at Reason agree, arguing that libertarians should embrace the "marriage pledge" idea as it removes government from something that should be a private matter.
Some may view this as a last ditch attempt to oppose the tide of history, but libertarians ought to welcome it as a step toward the removal of government from private relationships.
Marriage, after all, is in essence a private contract between two individuals, and there is no reason why the government ought to be able to determine who is eligible to enter into that contract and who is not. Government involvement in marriage is a relatively recent phenomenon.
I agree with this logic, and I support the reasoning behind the marriage pledge idea. Religious figures should not be forced by government to perform things they disagree with or find to be sacrilegious. If a pastor removes himself from every civil aspect of all marriages, he cannot be forced to officiate a same-sex marriage he finds to be sacrilegious. This seems like an easy solution.
As President Obama prepares to announce his plans to essentially legalize five million illegal immigrants from the White House Thursday night, Border Patrol agents working against dangerous criminal aliens are being stripped of their weapons and forced to share rifles, leaving them unarmed and vulnerable.
KVOA News 4 in Tucson recently finished an investigation into the situation and the findings are alarming.
We learned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Offices of Border Patrol and Training and Development are inspecting the quality of agents' M4 carbines throughout Border Patrol sectors nationwide. But agents tell us, some of those M4s have not been replaced. And, we've learned, agents are required to share rifles amongst each other.
"There's a lot of agents that are pretty upset over it," said Art del Cueto, president of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector union. "We know it's a dangerous job. We know what we signed on for but we want to have as much of the equipment as we need to perform the job."
The M4 carbine is used by the U.S. military and by Border Patrol agents. It's even used by the Border Patrol's tactical unit, BORTAC. Agent Brian Terry was carrying the M4 when he was shot and killed in December 2010.
Customs and Border Protection officials in Washington D.C. claim the rifles are being taken out of commission due to safety concerns while ironically leaving agents in an unsafe, unarmed and dangerous situation. A Border Patrol source tells me that many of the rifles being "deadlined" are rifles that have been functioning properly, not rifles that were malfunctioning or damaged. The source also said many "damaged" rifles being taken out of commission can be easily repaired on scene with readily available parts. Further, "sharing" rifles is unacceptable. Mexican cartels aren't taking a day off and certainly carry weapons of their own every day. More from News 4:
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada grew worried when told of the delay in redistributing rifles to agents.
"This is a concern for the officers and for the community as well," he said. "We want to make sure that they have all the equipment that they need to be able to provide the safest environment we possibly can."
Jeff Prather is a former drug enforcement agent who now runs the Warrior School in Tucson. He says agents have reached out to him about the rifle shortage.
He said agents stand the risk of being over-powered on the border.
"Cartels have always been better equipped, the paramilitary forces, the corrupt Mexican soldiers and federales at times," Prather said.
He says agents have contacted him and told him about their concerns about sharing the weapons.
"And now they're seriously concerned. Because if they're concerned enough to reach out and contact me and reach out so we get this message out, they are not only frustrated but they are in fear for their lives."
While the administration prepares to allocate funding to five million people living in the United States illegally, Border Patrol agents are being left defenseless. The federal government has an obligation to immediately replace rifles taken out of service, yet is failing to do so and agents are at greater risk as a result.
Congress is a mess. But that doesn’t grant the president license to tear up the Constitution. As Mr. Obama himself said last fall: “If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws.” To act on his own, the president said, would violate those laws. Mr. Obama now seems to be jettisoning that stance in the name of rallying his political base. He is considering extending temporary protection from deportation to millions of illegal immigrants, including the parents of U.S.-born children and others who have lived in the United States for years. Conceivably, this would give Democrats a political boost in 2016. Just as conceivably, it would trigger a constitutional showdown with congressional Republicans, who could make a cogent argument that Mr. Obama had overstepped his authority.
“If the President truly follows through on this attempt to impose his will unilaterally, he will have issued a rebuke to his own stated view of democracy...the action the President is proposing isn’t about solutions. It isn’t about compassion. It seems to be about what a political party thinks would make for good politics. It seems to be about what a President thinks would be good for his legacy. Those are not the motivations that should be driving such sweeping action. And I think the President will come to regret the chapter history writes if he does move forward. Because the plan he’s presenting is more than just, as the President himself has acknowledged, an overreach — it’s also unfair. What does the President have to say to the countless aspiring immigrants who’ve spent years waiting patiently in line? To the people who’ve played by all the rules? Where is his compassion for them?...If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act. We’re considering a variety of options. But make no mistake. When the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act.
Last night comedian Jay Leno announced he was pulling out of a scheduled performance at the 2015 National Shooting Sports Foundation State of the Industry dinner on January 20 in Las Vegas. The decision was made after heavy public pressure from liberal media outlets and anti-gun groups funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In justifying the cancellation, Leno's team claimed in the New York Daily News they never received any funds for the upcoming appearance.
“Jay was asked to do what was positioned as a sportsman show, and when he found out it was a pro gun lobby show, he cancelled,” Leno’s spokesman Bruce Bobbins said in an interview with the Daily News Wednesday night. “There was no money involved at this point, and if there was any, he would return it."
Bobbins' claim that there was "no money was involved at this point" is untrue. According to documentation, a 50 percent deposit in the amount of $82,500 was wired to Leno on August 5, 2014.
Further according to NSSF, every press release, blog, ad, email blast and website material that mentioned Leno or had Leno's likeness on it was approved by his team before publishing or advertisement.
Counter to Bobbins' claim, there was a lot of money involved and therefore, according to his own statement, should be returned.
This weekend, I’ll be down in the Bayou State reporting on the last leg of the Senate race between Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and her GOP opponent Bill Cassidy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) will be the latest conservative leader to lend his voice to Cassidy and his attempt to unseat the incumbent Democrat.
Rubio joins a list of prominent conservatives who have endorsed or stumped for Cassidy, including former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), will appear with Cassidy next weekend in North Louisiana.
On the other side of the political fence, Democrats have abandoned Mary Landrieu. No unity rallies appear to be on her schedule, she’s received little to no help from the DSCC or outside groups, and she’s certainly getting no visit from Hillary Clinton this time around. Her campaign headquarters may as well be a ghost town.
Yet, Landrieu is full steam ahead. Recently, she put all her efforts into passing the Keystone XL pipeline, legislation which Rachel Maddow pointed out had been sponsored by Cassidy. Therefore, Landrieu was essentially promoting her opponent’s bill. Those efforts were all for naught, however, as she failed to get the last vote she needed to get it through the Senate.
A new poll released Wednesday shows Landrieu in deep trouble. Like double digit trouble. It’s for reasons like these that Democrats have called for Landrieu to bow out of the race. Landrieu is ignoring them and sticking around for the long haul. “Stubborn” comes to mind.
Will Louisianans elect Cassidy and finally end the Landrieu dynasty? Or will they extend the Democrat’s 18-year reign? We’ll find out December 6th.
Stay tuned for coverage from this Saturday’s unity rally for Bill Cassidy in Kenner, LA, headlined by Sen. Rubio.
If there’s one thing that gets liberals blinded with rage, it’s voter ID laws. There was a whole panel dedicated to this issue at the progressive Netroots Nation last summer, where panelists agreed that this is the latest evolution of Jim Crow laws. But is it impacting elections?
Nate Cohn at the New York Times wrote that such laws don’t really sway elections. Granted, there are some issues with voter databases that could prevent someone with a valid ID from voting. Yet, these errors also inflate the number of voters who are labeled as not having proper identification. Additionally, it’s hyperbolic to say these laws suppress the vote since the demographics that could potentially be disproportionately impacted don’t vote often anyway:
These figures overstate the number of voters who truly lack identification. Those without ID are particularly unlikely to vote. And many who do vote will vote Republican. In the end, the seemingly vast registration gaps dwindle, leaving enough voters to decide only elections determined by fractions of a point.
To begin with, the true number of registered voters without photo identification is usually much lower than the statistics on registered voters without identification suggest. The number of voters without photo identification is calculated by matching voter registration files with state ID databases. But perfect matching is impossible, and the effect is to overestimate the number of voters without identification.
Take Texas, a state with a particularly onerous voter ID law. If I register to vote as “Nate” but my ID says “Nathan,” I might be counted among the hundreds of thousands of registered voters without a photo ID. But I’ll be fine at the polling station on Election Day with a name that’s “substantially similar” to the one on file.
The demographic profile of voters without identification — young, nonwhite, poor, immobile, elderly — is also similar to the profile of voters who turn out at low rates. It’s also possible that the voter file is the issue. Some people voted in past elections, but have moved since and haven’t been purged from the voter file, even though their ID may have expired (if they had one in the first place). Some elderly voters might just be dead and not yet removed from the voter rolls.
The article also notes that some of these folks that don’t have IDs are Republicans, but those without identification are mostly breaking for Democrats. Still, it’s not enough to decide anything but an extremely close election. Moreover, it’s not like Democrats have been unable to win states with voter ID laws; Cohn aptly noted that Obama won Indiana in 2008.
Concerning the American people, voter ID laws are immensely popular across the political spectrum. In Texas, 67 percent support their voter ID laws. A Fox News poll from May of 2014 found that 70 percent, including 55 percent of Democrats, support laws that protect the integrity of our elections.
In July of 2013, when parts of the Voting Rights Acts were struck down as unconstitutional, Marist asked: “Do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing if election laws were changed to do each of the following: Require voters to show identification in order to vote?”
There was 70+ percent approval across the board; regions, political ideology, political affiliation, income, sex, and race all said such were a good thing. One statistic that stood out was 65 percent of those describing themselves as “very liberal” approved of voter ID laws.
If there is one thing that’s preventing Americans from voting, it’s not voter ID laws; it’s the lack of resources at polling stations in predominantly minority voting districts.
Now, take what you will from that narrative, but it’s clear the voter ID laws are popular–and they’re not really deciding elections.
Even President Obama said on Al Sharpton’s radio show last October that voter ID laws are not preventing minorities from voting.
"Most of these laws are not preventing the overwhelming majority of folks who don't vote from voting. Most people do have an ID. Most people do have a driver's license. Most people can get to the polls. It may not be as convenient' it may be a little more difficult."
Some deep, compassionate, heart-felt emoting from MSNBC's hyphenated beta-male, Jose Diaz-Balart.
Bumper stickers with the words "Harry Reid Doesn't Represent This Nevadan" flourish on the rear-end of cars throughout the Silver State.
Soon to be Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), is very unpopular in Nevada. The latest poll taken in July by Harper Polling had him at 41 percent approval among constituents. He barely kept his seat in 2010 and is bound to be defeated in 2016 if rumors are true that beloved Nevada governor, Republican Brian Sandoval, will run against him.
As President Obama makes his way to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas tomorrow after announcing his immigration plan tonight on primetime television, Nevada was the most strategic place to rally support for his executive action.
And why not knock out two birds with one stone? This trip to Vegas will also help Senator Reid who's popularity is in free fall.
Nevada has the nation’s largest share (8 percent) of unauthorized immigrants, according to Pew Research. There are 210,000 undocumented immigrants living in Nevada, comprising 10 percent of the state's labor force.
In 2010, Reid won 90 percent of the Latino vote. If he wants to win in 2016, he needs to ensure Latinos have his back. By supporting President Obama's immigration reform (regardless of what the president says tonight, odds are Reid will follow him without hesitation), Reid can start to rally support from the Latino voting community (which is about 16 percent of Nevada's eligible voters) in anticipation of a tough race in 2016.
I can picture it now. Tomorrow in Las Vegas, Reid will be on stage behind President Obama, grinning ear to ear.
Buzzfeed has obtained and posted a series of talking points the White House is circulating among Capitol Hill Democrats before President Obama's amnesty announcement tonight. A full uninterrupted version of the document is posted below, but first here are some ideas on how conservatives should respond to Obama's propaganda:
Obama's executive action on immigration is the antithesis of "ensuring everyone plays by the same set of rules."
He is concocting arbitrary lines out of thin air that separate illegal immigrants worthy of work permits and Social Security numbers, from those who get nothing.
Why should parents of legal residents get benefits but not parents of DACA recipients? Why should an illegal immigrant who entered the country before 2007 be eligible for DACA but not one who entered in 2008?
All of these illegal immigrants will be forced to play under very different sets of rules, rules completely made up by Obama.
Nothing in Obama's plan will hold illegal immigrants accountable for breaking the law in any way. There are no fines, penalties, or back taxes to be paid.
Obama has previously admitted on over 20 occasions that his current executive action is lawless.
Most damning, on July 25, 2011, Obama told the National Council of La Raza, "That's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written.”
Obama already issued a lawful order in 2011, the Morton memo, the prioritized deporting felons not families. But that was not enough for amnesty advocates. They want work permits, Social Security numbers, and driver's licenses for all illegal immigrants. That is what Obama's new amnesty give millions of them.
Obama's new amnesty completely kills any possibility of a compromise immigration bill with Congress and Obama knows it.
Completely false. No president has ever issued a unilateral amnesty decree of this size and scope. Yes, many past presidents have protected smaller, specific immigrant groups after natural disasters or political upheaval in their home countries. But no president has ever tried to enact by fiat what Congress has specifically rejected by law.
1. Illegal immigrants not only already can pay taxes, but most do.
2. Again, there is zero accountability for any illegal immigrants here. No one is being asked to pay fines, penalties, or back taxes for breaking the law.
3. Again, the 2011 Morton memo already put the focus on deporting felons, not families. What this amnesty does is give illegal immigrants work permits, Social Security numbers, and driver's licenses.
1. No president has ever enacted an amnesty of this size and scope unilaterally.
2. Once given, legal status is almost never rescinded. It is very difficult to takeaway someone's benefits once they have been granted.
3. Nothing Congress can pass, other than a measure to defund the program, could possibly override Obama's action. Obama's legal theory rests entirely on his inherent "prosecutorial discretion" power as president. Since Obama's claimed power comes from his office, and not from statute, there is no law Congress could write to override it. The only way to contain Obama's abuse of power is through Congress' power over the purse.
1. If Obama wants to give every illegal immigrant in the country a background check, nothing is stopping him. That he has perfect legal authority to do already.
2. Again, all illegal immigrants are perfectly able to pay taxes already and many do.
3. If Obama insists on shutting down the federal government to protect his work permit and Social Security number giveaway, that is his choice. He is the one instigating a Constitutional crisis.
Here is the full letter: