Monday, October 27, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

National Loyalty

About Houston

Subpoenaing Houston Pastors Part of A Larger Strategy
By Newt Gingrich and Vince Haley

The Mayor of Houston’s recent subpoena of sermons by Christian pastors in the country’s fourth largest city is a shocking violation of First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. There is no clearer violation of First Amendment freedoms than for government officials to attempt to censor religious speech.

Lawyers for the Christian pastors were prepared to sue to quash these subpoenas -- and would have succeeded quickly in the courts on Constitutional grounds – when the Mayor withdrew the subpoenas amid an uproar of protest.

So why would Annise Parker, the Houston mayor, issue such subpoenas at all if a court would have stopped her from forcing the pastors to comply? Probably because she is playing for much larger political and constitutional stakes than the power to coerce disclosure of the communications five Houston pastors.

Her signature initiative--the so-called “bathroom bill”, a city ordinance that she championed and signed last May--is being threatened by a public campaign to repeal it in a referendum . The City has challenged the validity of the signatures the citizens collected to force a vote on the ordinance, which led a group of them to sue the City. Mayor Parker responded by subpoenaing five Houston pastors who oppose the ordinance, but who are not even parties to the lawsuit.

In politics, if politicians are not succeeding in their arguments, they change the subject. And Mayor Parker apparently is not succeeding in her defense of a law that opponents claim creates a right, among other newly created sexual and gender identity rights, for anyone to use public bathrooms of the opposite sex in the name of gender rights equality.

Losing her own argument, she’s changing the subject. And if you’re a liberal mayor trying to create new sexual and gender identity rights, there’s apparently no better object on which to refocus the public than the Christian pastors and their beliefs on gender and sexuality.

An attempt to set up the pastors as the foil to her radical agenda would explain the Mayor’s outrageous subpoenas, which demand, among other things, all of the pastors’ emails, texts, and sermons relating to the bathroom bill, the Mayor, the City attorney, restroom access under the bathroom bill, the topics of homosexuality or gender identity, and the petition drive to repeal the bathroom bill. And it would explain the Mayor’s tweet the morning after the subpoenas came to light: “If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition? (“HERO” is an acronym for the “bathroom bill” ordinance.)

Clearly the Mayor is trying to shift the debate from a fight over the merits of her sexual and gender identity agenda to a fight over the Christian worldview of sexual ethics. That’s exactly what the subpoenas were intended to accomplish.

There are three reasons why she might have expected this to be effective.

First, Mayor Parker likely believed that issuing the subpoenas, even if later withdrawn, would cause Houston pastors to think twice about criticizing her or her bathroom bill. She would not be the first politician to harass and attempt to intimidate people with opposing beliefs. The right response to such intimidation is for citizens of all stripes to vote out of office those politicians who practice it.

Second, in the case of pastors, Mayor Parker is clearly aware that there is a provision of U.S. tax law that already tends to chill the speech of some pastors from the pulpit. Known as the “Johnson Amendment” because it was authored by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, the statute states that tax-exempt organizations--churches, for instance--may not "participate in, or intervene in…any political campaign on behalf of…any candidate for public office."

Although the 1954 Johnson Amendment is brazenly in conflict with the free speech and free exercise protections of the First Amendment, Mayor Parker implicitly threatens the churches’ tax-exempt status when she attacks pastors who dare to challenge her ideological agenda. Again the goal is to have pastors back off their criticisms.

The right response to this long-standing threat is for Congress to repeal the Johnson Amendment at the first opportunity. Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) has a very simple bill to do just that.

Third, there is now an established and successful political and constitutional strategy to paint the protection of traditional moral values -- and opposition to newly-invented sexual and gender identity rights -- as motivated by malice. In the 2013 Supreme Court decision (United States v. Windsor) that invalidated Congress’ enacted definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the only purpose of those who supported this traditional definition of marriage was to “disparage,” ”injure,” “degrade,” ”demean,” and “humiliate” certain groups of fellow citizens.

In a word, hate is all that Justice Kennedy sees when he encounters someone who supports a traditional definition of marriage. Under this newly-invented constitutional standard, if the Court feels today that a particular law is hateful, then the Court will simply invalidate the law, no further justification needed. And it will do so whether or not a vast majority of the public believes reasonable people can disagree about the definition of marriage in particular and about sexual ethics more generally.

We can be confident that Mayor Parker has taken note of Justice Kennedy’s insidious two-part strategy of (1) making skeptics of the left’s sexual and gender identity agenda into “enemies of humanity”, to paraphrase Justice Scalia, and (2) thereby ending political debate over these newly-invented sexual rights by declaring them constitutional rights beyond public debate. Mayor Parker’s attention-grabbing subpoenas of five Christian pastors seems intended to do just that – to persuade the public that ‘these are the hateful haters who oppose my agenda to conjure up new constitutional rights.’

In other words, under the Kennedy-Parker telling, if you are against the Mayor’s law to let anyone in America’s fourth largest city go into any bathroom he (or she?) wants on any given day, then you must be a hateful bigot--one of those intolerant Christians who hates people who don’t think like they do. In the Kennedy-Parker telling, you must be one of those Christians who are using their pulpits to ‘impose their beliefs on the rest of us.’

If this analysis is wrong, Mayor Parker can clear this up by answering these two questions:

1) Does she believe that everyone who does not support her bathroom bill is a hateful bigot?
2) Does she support a citywide referendum on her bathroom bill?

The right response to the supersized intimidation and anti-democratic pretensions of the Justice Kennedys and Mayor Parkers of this country is faithfulness on the part of Christians and a political awakening on the part of all citizens.

Your Friend, Newt

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A GOP Senate? (lets hope)

Why A Senate Majority Can Make All The Difference
By Dick Morris on October 17, 2014

As Republicans close in on a Senate majority, the question looms: What difference would it make? With the White House still at the ready to veto anything the GOP Congress passes, is not a Republican Senate merely another formulation likely to trigger gridlock in Washington?

No! Control of the Senate can be the key to pushing back Obama’s goal of creating a nation ruled by one dominant party in perpetuity, which I discuss in my new book Power Grab.

Control of the Senate hands the Republicans control over the budget. If they overreach and try again to hit a grand slam by zero funding ObamaCare, they will strike out as they did in October of 2013. Obama will simply veto the budget, let the government shut down, and blame the Republicans. We already know how that will turn out — a bit GOP loss.

But if the Republicans use their Senate majority to play small ball and make limited but very important advances, they can use their budgetary power to achieve great ends.

Because Congress has the ability to vote on each line of the budget while the President, lacking the line item veto, can only sign or veto the whole thing, Republicans can advance their agenda one line at a time. Each advance would be important, but they would not rise collectively to enough to justify a presidential veto and a government closure.

For example:

• Republicans can attach to the Homeland Security budget a requirement of a quarantine banning all travelers who have recently been to an Ebola-afflicted nation from coming into the United States.

• They could insert in the ICE budget language overriding the President’s coming executive order ending deportations.

• They could put in the HHS budget provisions killing the death panel (Medicare Payment Advisory Board) and the excise tax on medical devices.

• They can include language Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has gotten in the current budget banning enforcement of the Small Arms Limitation agreement signed by the US at the urging of the UN.

By this “small ball” strategy of using the budget to effect important but limited modifications in Obama’s policies, we can bring the Obama power grab to a screeching halt.

A Republican Senate can also block the confirmation of partisan liberal Democratic judges, using their power either to bargain for better selections or to keep the post vacant until a Republican president takes over. Similarly, they can use their confirmation power to block overly partisan appointments to federal regulatory boards or executive branch agencies.

Having jammed through the elimination of the 60 vote requirement for confirmations, the Democrats will now be shot with their own bullet and be unable to block Republican sway over nominations and confirmations. Turnabout is fair play.

Finally, the Republican Senate should bring to the floor and reject all executive branch power grab treaties Obama and others have signed. These treaties, failing Senate disapproval, remain in effect as a result of the presidential signature under the Vienna Convention.

The treaties we must kill are:

• The Law of the Sea Treaty.

• The Small Arms Trade Treaty.

• The International Criminal Court Treaty.

• The Code of Conduct in Outer Space.

• The Rights of the Disabled Treaty.

• And any Global Climate Change treaty the Administration negotiates.

Some of these treaties are bad ideas. Others, like the Disability Treaty, are not objectionable except that they usurp American jurisdiction and take away our right to legislate for ourselves in this area.

Control of the Senate can make a vast difference. Let’s hope Republicans get it and turn out in large numbers to bring it about.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014



There had never been a case of Ebola in the U.S. until a few months ago. Since then, thousands of people have died of the disease in Africa, and millions upon millions of dollars have been spent treating Ebola patients in the U.S. who acquired it there, one of whom has died.

But the Obama administration refuses to impose a travel ban.

This summer, the U.S. government imposed a travel ban on Israel simply to pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu into accepting a ceasefire agreement. But we can't put a travel restriction on countries where a contagious disease is raging.

It's becoming increasingly clear this is just another platform for Obama to demonstrate that we are citizens of the world. The entire Ebola issue is being discussed -- by our government, not the United Nations -- as if Liberians are indistinguishable from Americans, and U.S. taxpayers should be willing to pay whatever it takes to save them.

Maybe we should give them the vote, too! If Ebola was concentrated in Finland and Norway -- certainly Israel! -- we'd have had a travel ban on Day One.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, justifies Obama's refusal to prohibit flights originating in Ebola-plagued countries, saying, "A travel ban is not the right answer. It's simply not feasible to build a wall -- virtual or real -- around a community, city or country."

What is it with liberals living in gated communities always telling us that fences don't work? THAT'S WHAT A QUARANTINE IS.

At the congressional hearing on Ebola last week, Republicans repeatedly pressed the CDC representative, Dr. Toby Merlin, to explain why Obama refuses to impose a travel ban.

In about 17 tries, Merlin came up with no plausible answer. Like Frieden, Merlin kept insisting that "the only way to protect Americans" is to end the epidemic in Africa.

Why, precisely, must we attack Ebola in Africa? Research on a cure doesn't require cuddling victims in their huts. Scientists who discovered the AIDS cocktail didn't spend their nights at Studio 54 in order to "fight the disease at its source."

Until there's a treatment, we can't put out the disease there, or here. The only thing Americans will be doing in Liberia is changing the bedpans of victims, getting infected and bringing Ebola back to America. When there's a vaccine, we can mail it.

Naturally, Obama is sending troops from the 101st Airborne, the pride of our Army, to Liberia. Their general should resign in protest.

Merlin further explained the travel ban, saying that if West Africans can't fly to America, "that would cause the disease to grow in that area and spill over into other countries." So instead of infecting people in surrounding countries, our CDC wants them to come here and infect Americans.

But that won't happen because the government assures us there's nothing to worry about with Ebola. They've got it under control.

Unfortunately, everything the government says about this disease keeps being proved untrue -- usually within a matter of days.

They told us that you'd basically have to roll in an infected person's vomit to catch the disease. Then, nurses at two first-world hospitals in Spain and the U.S. contracted Ebola from patients.

With no evidence, the CDC simply announced that the nurses were not following proper "protocol." The disease didn't operate the way CDC said it would, so the hospitals must be lying.

The government told us that national quarantines won't work, but then they quarantine everyone with Ebola -- or who has been near someone with Ebola, such as an entire NBC crew. To me, this suggests that there's some value in keeping people who have been near Ebola away from people who have not.

Quite obviously, the only way to protect Americans is to prevent Ebola from coming here in the first place. The problem isn't that Ebola will leap across oceans to infect Americans; it's that Obama doesn't want to protect Americans.

At least he's only putting expendable Americans on the frontlines of the Ebola epidemic -- doctors, nurses, members of the 101st Airborne.

At the moment, more than 13,000 West Africans have travel visas to come to the U.S. Having just seen an Ebola-infected Liberian get $500,000 worth of free medical treatment in the U.S., the first thing any African who might have Ebola should do is get himself to America.

Of all the reasons people have for coming here -- welfare, drug-dealing, Medicare scams -- "I have Ebola and I'm going to die, otherwise" is surely one of the strongest. The entire continent of Africa now knows that this is a country that will happily spend half a million dollars on treating someone who just arrived -- and then berate itself for not doing enough.

Thomas Eric Duncan's family may be upset with his treatment, but they have to admit, the price was right. Medical bill: $0.00. Your next statement will arrive in 30 days.

And now we're going to have to let in entire families with Ebola, because the important thing is -- actually, I don't know why. It's some technical, scientific point about fences not working.

Republicans -- Americans -- have got to demand Frieden's resignation. If only we could demand Obama's.

Monday, October 13, 2014