This morning, leftist propaganda rags and conservative news blogs alike pounced on a story about Donald Trump’s ‘Plan For A Muslim Database‘ in America. I won’t even bother going into the specifics of the issue here, since several right-wing talk radio hosts have already completely dismantled the story. In essence, it was a load of shit, and anyone who believed the Jurassic media’s “reporting” on the matter, without bothering to independently confirm that it was actually true before jumping on the anti-Trump bandwagon, is a waste of fucking space.
Look, I get that there are a lot of people out there who don’t like Donald Trump. The guy isn’t at the top of my candidates’ list either, but that doesn’t excuse anyone from spreading provably false rumors about the man. Hell, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of legitimate reasons to disapprove of The Donald. I’ve named several of them myself in previous articles, yet I’ve also attempted to impress upon my readers that as bad as Trump may be in certain respects, he’s the next Ronald Reagan when compared to ANY Democrat candidate you could name, and if given the choice between siding with him or throwing in with the likes of ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times or The Washington Post, the contest is over before it begins. I’ll stand by Trump every single day and twice on Sundays.
Need I remind you that this same sort of phony, left-wing journalism reared its ugly head just two weeks ago? At that time it was Ben Carson who was targeted with accusations that he lied about being offered a scholarship to West Point during his ROTC days, and many in the so-called conservative press regurgitated the words of the Democrat-controlled MSM without hesitation. Of course, it didn’t take long for people who don’t have their heads crammed firmly up their own asses to destroy the credibility of the leftist pricks who’d made the story up out of whole cloth.
Before long they’ll be going after some other top-tier GOP candidate like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, and certain right-leaning news outlets with political axes to grind will copy and paste these leftists’ headlines onto their websites, thus affording the swine a legitimacy they’ve never earned while effectively undermining the entire Republican primary field in the process. Apparently, several of my fellow conservative bloggers have forgotten the age-old adage: when you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.
Suffice it to say that for every leftist-inspired, journalistic hit-job you embrace, you take one step closer to becoming one of the very neo-socialist media whores you claim to hate. Take it from someone who has made similar mistakes in the past and has lived to regret them, that road ends in shame. Yes, I too have re-posted articles on this very blog that turned out to be totally unfounded, for the simple reason that I WANTED TO BELIEVE THEY WERE TRUE. Granted, those few stories originated from hacks on the right side of the blogosphere, but that fact doesn’t make my actions any more righteous or admirable. I bought into the bullshit because I thought it served my political interests, but I was dead wrong!
Spreading false information in the name of an agenda is beneath me, just as it is beneath anyone out there who calls himself a conservative. It’s the truth we should be concerned with above all else, because if we can’t at least hold the high ground in that respect, how exactly are we any better than Hillary Clinton?
By Edward L. Daley
In this week’s broadcast of his weekly program on TheBlaze radio network, Sheriff David Clarke had a few choice words for the occupier of the White House and his conduct in the orchestration of and response to violence against police officers in America.
Clarke points out that instead of investigating the human rights abuse of black on black crime, the Department of Justice is going after police, making the targeting of them “job one.”
He addresses the murder of officer Randolph Holder in New York, with 96 officers killed last year and another 48,518 assaulted in the line of duty, saying, “That’s the brutality. Many of those suspects were black, in the commission of crimes, threatening a law enforcement officer or failing to abide by their lawful commands, resisting arrest. How about black criminal abuse, black criminal brutality?”
Clarke doesn’t put much value in the apology of Judge Patricia Nunez, the one who released the inmate who would later murder Officer Holder, calling her a criminal coddling, criminal advocating, empathy for the criminal, despicable human being.
He notes, “By the way we still have not heard from ‘president’ Obama, that heartless, soulless bastard, who wastes no time taking to the microphone to stick up for a criminal creep like Mike Brown, like Eric Garner, like Freddie Gray, like Trayvon Martin, in communicating empathy for those goons and yet he has to be prodded, he has to be prodded to say something when a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty.”
Editor’s Note: A group of more than 60 legal scholars released a statement last week calling on all federal and state officeholders not to accept the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision – declaring a national right to same-same sex marriage – as binding precedent.
One of the signers and authors of the statement was Robert. P. George, the founder of the American Principles Project and McCormack Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton.
“We stand with James Madison and Abraham Lincoln in recognizing that the Constitution is not whatever a majority of Supreme Court justices say it is,” said George. “We remind all officeholders in the United States that they are pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not the will of five members of the Supreme Court.”
Below is the text of the statement in its entirety.
We are scholars and informed citizens deeply concerned by the edict of the Supreme Court of the United States in Obergefell v. Hodges wherein the Court decreed, by the narrowest of margins, that every state in the country must redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships.
The Court’s majority opinion eschewed reliance on the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the Constitution, as well as the Court’s own interpretative doctrines and precedents, and supplied no compelling reasoning to show why it is unjustified for the laws of the states to sustain marriage as it has been understood for millennia as the union of husband and wife.
The opinion for the Court substituted for traditional – and sound – methods of constitutional interpretation a new and ill-defined jurisprudence of identity – one that abused the moral concept of human dignity.
The four dissenting justices are right to reject the majority opinion in unsparing terms.
Justice Scalia refers to it as “a naked judicial claim to legislative… power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.”
Justice Thomas says the opinion “exalts judges at the expense of the People from whom they derive their authority” as it perverts the meaning of liberty into an entitlement to government action.
Justice Alito calls attention to the well-established doctrine that the “liberty” guaranteed by the due process clause protects only those rights “that are deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” and that it is “beyond dispute that the right to same-sex marriage is not among those rights.” He further points to the opinion’s tendency to reduce the purpose of marriage to “the happiness of persons who choose to marry.” He warns it will be used to “vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy” and is yet another example of the “Court’s abuse of its authority.”
Chief Justice Roberts says “the Constitution leaves no doubt” that the majority’s “pretentious” opinion is incorrect. It even attempts to “sully those on the other side of the debate” in an “entirely gratuitous” manner.
If Obergefell is accepted as binding law, the consequences will be grave. Of the results that can be predicted with confidence, four stand out:
First, society will be harmed by being denied the right to hold out as normative, and particularly desirable, the only type of human relationship that every society must cultivate for its perpetuation. This compelling interest is strengthened by the fact that there is strong evidence to support what common sense suggests, namely, that children fare best when raised by their married mother and father who are both responsible for bringing them into the world and who provide maternal and paternal influences and care.
Second, individuals and organizations holding to the historic and natural understanding of marriage as a conjugal union – the covenantal partnership of one man and one woman – will be vilified, legally targeted, and denied constitutional rights in order to pressure them to conform to the new orthodoxy.
Third, the new jurisprudence of dignity is unlimited in principle and will encourage additional claims to redefine marriage and other long-established institutions.
Fourth, the right of all Americans to engage in democratic deliberation, and ultimately self-government, will be decisively undermined.
Any decision that brings about such evils would be questionable. One lacking anything remotely resembling a warrant in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the Constitution must be judged anti-constitutional and illegitimate. Obergefell should be declared to be such, and treated as such, by the other branches of government and by citizens of the United States.
In 1788, James Madison wrote, “The several departments being perfectly co-ordinate by the terms of their common commission, neither of them, it is evident, can pretend to an exclusive or superior right of settling the boundaries between their respective powers.”
In 1857, Abraham Lincoln said, “Judicial decisions are of greater or less authority as precedents, according to circumstances. That this should be so, accords both with common sense, and the customary understanding of the legal profession.” If a decision “had been made by the unanimous concurrence of the judges, and without any apparent partisan bias, and in accordance with legal public expectation, and with the steady practice of the departments throughout our history, and had been in no part, based on assumed historical facts which are not really true; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been before the court more than once, and had there been affirmed and re-affirmed through a course of years, it then might be, perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, to not acquiesce in it as a precedent.” If, however, a decision is “wanting in all these claims to the public confidence,” it is “not factious” to resist it.
Obergefell is wanting in all these claims to the public confidence. It cannot therefore be taken to have settled the law of the United States.
We stand with James Madison and Abraham Lincoln in recognizing that the Constitution is not whatever a majority of Supreme Court justices say it is.
We remind all officeholders in the United States that they are pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not the will of five members of the Supreme Court.
We call on all federal and state officeholders:
To refuse to accept Obergefell as binding precedent for all but the specific plaintiffs in that case.
To recognize the authority of states to define marriage, and the right of federal and state officeholders to act in accordance with those definitions.
To pledge full and mutual legal and political assistance to anyone who refuses to follow Obergefell for constitutionally protected reasons.
To open forthwith a broad and honest conversation on the means by which Americans may constitutionally resist and overturn the judicial usurpations evident in Obergefell.
We emphasize that the course of action we are here advocating is neither extreme nor disrespectful of the rule of law. Lincoln regarded the claim of supremacy for the Supreme Court in matters of constitutional interpretation as incompatible with the republican principles of the Constitution. Our position is summed up in Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address:
“I do not forget the position assumed by some that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court, nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case upon the parties to a suit as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by other departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”
The proper understanding and definition of marriage is self-evidently a vital question affecting the whole people. To treat as “settled” and “the law of the land” the decision of five Supreme Court justices who, by their own admission, can find no warrant for their ruling in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the Constitution, would indeed be to resign our government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. That is something that no citizen or statesman who wishes to sustain the great experiment in ordered liberty bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be willing to do.
(Institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only)
Bradley C. S. Watson, Philip M. McKenna Chair in American and Western Political Thought and Professor of Politics, Saint Vincent College
John C. Eastman, Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service, Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University
George W. Dent, Jr., Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University, Founder of American Principles Project
Matthew J. Franck, Director, William E. and Carol G. Simon Center for Religion and the Constitution, Witherspoon Institute
Daniel J. Mahoney, Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship, Assumption College
Stephen H. Balch, Director, Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, Texas Tech University
Mickey G. Craig, William & Berniece Grewcock Professor of Politics, Hillsdale College
Paul Moreno, William and Berniece Chair in US Constitutional History, Hillsdale College
Lucas E. Morel, Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and Politics, Washington and Lee University
Joseph M. Knippenberg, Professor of Politics, Oglethorpe University
Susan Hanssen, Associate Professor of History, University of Dallas
Wm. Barclay Allen, Dean Emeritus, Michigan State University
Daniel C. Palm, Professor of Politics and International Relations, Azusa Pacific University
Lynn D. Wardle, Bruce C. Hafen Professor of Law, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University
Scott FitzGibbon, Professor of Law, Boston College Law School
Stephen Casey, Casey Law Office, P.C.
James C. Phillips, J.D.
Joshua W. Schulz, Associate Professor of Philosophy, DeSales University
John S. Baker, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Law, Louisiana State University Law Center
Ralph A. Rossum, Salvatori Professor of American Constitutionalism, Claremont McKenna College
Walter Schumm, Professor of Family Studies, Kansas State University
Anne Hendershott, Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame
Christopher Wolfe, Professor of Politics, University of Dallas
Michael D. Breidenbach, Assistant Professor of History, Ave Maria University
Robert Koons, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin
Stephen M. Krason, Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies, Franciscan University of Steubenville; President, Society of Catholic Social Scientists
Micah J. Watson, William-Spoelhof Teacher-Chair in Political Science, Calvin College
Daniel Robinson, Fellow, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford
David Novak, J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religion and Philosophy, University of Toronto
Adam J. MacLeod, Associate Professor of Law, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, Faulkner University
Robert Lowry Clinton, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Colleen Sheehan, Professor of Political Science, Villanova University
Peter W. Wood, President, National Association of Scholars
Michael M. Uhlmann, Professor of Politics and Policy, Claremont Graduate University
John Agresto, Former president of St. John’s College, Santa Fe, and the American University of Iraq
Mark T. Mitchell, Professor of Government, Patrick Henry College
Carol M. Swain, Professor of Political Science and Law, Vanderbilt University
Nathan Schlueter, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Hillsdale College
J. Daryl Charles, Affiliated Scholar, John Jay Institute
Ted McAllister, Edward L. Gaylord Chair and Associate Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University
David R. Upham, Associate Professor of Politics, University of Dallas
Thomas D’Andrea, Fellow, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge; Director, Institute for the Study of Philosophy, Politics, and Religion
Daniel Mark, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Villanova University
Hadley P. Arkes, Edward N. Ney Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus, Amherst College; Director, James Wilson Institute on Naturals Right and the American Founding
Philip Bess, Professor of Architecture, University of Notre Dame
Jeffery J. Ventrella, Senior Counsel and Senior Vice-President of Student Training and Development, Alliance Defending Freedom
Teresa S. Collett, Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law
Jay Bergman, Professor of History, Central Connecticut State University
Robert L. McFarland, Associate Dean of External Affairs and Associate Professor of Law, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, Faulkner University
Carson Holloway, Associate Professor Political Science, University of Nebraska, Omaha
Gary D. Glenn, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus, Northern Illinois University
Paul A. Rahe, Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in Western Heritage, Hillsdale College
Angelo Codevilla, Professor Emeritus, Boston University
Bradley P. Jacob, Associate Professor of Law, Regent University School of Law
Raymond B. Marcin, Professor of Law Emeritus, The Catholic University of America
Matthew Spalding, Associate Vice President and Dean, Allen P. Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, Hillsdale College
James A. Davids, Associate Professor of Law, Regent University School of Law
Ken Masugi, Senior Fellow, Claremont Institute
Edward J. Erler, Professor of Political Science Emeritus, California State University, San Bernardino
James W. (Jim) Richardson, Board of Directors, Christian Legal Society
Robert F. Sasseen, President and Professor of Politics Emeritus, University of Dallas
Lynne Marie Kohm, John Brown McCarty Professor of Family Law and Associate Dean of Faculty Development and External Affairs, Regent University School of Law
I was walking through downtown Sacramento recently when raindrops started falling. People on the street stopped dead in their tracks, looked up at the sky, and began acting giddy. “What’s that?” I asked a man. “I think it’s something called rain,” he responded. Such is the gallows humor in a state that hasn’t seen substantial rainfall in years.
The obvious lack of rain is the seemingly obvious reason for the state’s lack of sufficient water. Water levels in state reservoirs are falling, officials are cracking down on “excess” water use (lawn-watering, etc.), and voters passed a water bond on the 2014 ballot to help fund more storage. The Capitol crowd is obsessed with the water issue, while local planners use the crisis to clamp down on building permits.
State officials say California’s drought is “one of the most severe droughts on record,” and they warn that even an El Niño rainy season is unlikely to fix the situation. In fact, nothing seems to fix the situation. Californians have slashed their water use by 31 percent during July – well above the 25-percent reduction targeted by the governor. And there’s still not enough water.
But as this series will show, California’s drought is largely a man-made crisis. It is caused by a series of policies – some from the past, many ongoing – which has prioritized environmental demands above the basic provision of water resources to the public. More than half of the state’s water resources simply flow out the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.
Even now, in the Sierra foothills, state officials empty reservoirs to protect “unimpeded” river flows to benefit small numbers of non-endangered hatchery fish. The California Coastal Commission, the powerful agency with control of development along the shoreline, is holding up a privately planned desalination plant over concerns about its impact on plankton. The environment-friendly commission want to force the developers to build a pumping system that destroys the economics of the plant.
Meanwhile, slow-growth activists see opportunity in the drought. Their goal is to stop new developments despite California’s growing population, so a lack of water is a useful tool in their arsenal. A state law forces developers to prove sufficient water resources for decades into the future – before being able to get a permit to build developments. This slow-growth lobby sees no reason to come up with water-storage solutions.
Even the federal government is in on the action. In the far northern part of the state, along the Klamath River, federal environment officials want to remove four dams that provide water storage near the Oregon border. Their goal is to help preserve the habitat of non-native salmon. The “destroy the dams” movement had gained so much steam in recent years that San Franciscans were asked in a 2012 advisory vote to destroy the O’Shaughnessy dam in Yosemite National Park and drain the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir – the main source of water for the state’s third-largest city. Even that city’s notoriously lefty voters said “no” to shutting their main water spigot.
If one takes a map of the state of California and turns it on its side, with the Pacific boundary at the bottom, it’s easy to better understand the state’s water geology. Water flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through rivers that head toward San Francisco Bay. It all ends up in a place called the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the West Coast’s largest estuary. That’s near the lowest point in your sideways map. Then it heads to the bay and, then, the ocean.
When you hear Californians argue about the Delta, that’s what they are talking about. It’s a 1,100-square-mile area with 1,000 miles of rivers filled with historic towns, orchards, swamps, islands, and marinas. That estuary serves as a giant water filter. Primarily, the mighty Sacramento River meanders through the delta, kept within its banks by a series of aged dirt levees. A pumping station at the south end near Tracy sends water along a system of canals to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley – and also to the Southern metropolises.
During wet years, the estuary is filled with fresh water. During droughts, the salinity levels are high as water from the Pacific migrates eastward. That region remains Ground Zero for the state’s water fights. The fate of a tiny baitfish called the Delta Smelt is central here. Occasionally, a few dead smelt are found at the fish screens in Tracy, which causes administrators to shut down water supplies from the Delta toward the south. Water supplies are also stopped during drought years.
In 1982, our past and current governor, Jerry Brown, wanted to build a peripheral canal that would bypass the crumbling levees and take Sacramento River water around the Delta – before heading to the farm and urban water users. The state’s voters rejected that measure. Southern Californians were mostly indifferent to the idea, but Northern Californians resented having more of “their” water sent away.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest plan is to build twin tunnels under the Delta to provide a more consistent water supply southward. The planned cost: $25 billion for the total project, with a separate portion geared toward environmental restoration. Northern Californians are still mostly against it, as they claim it’s a water grab by Los Angeles-based users. (To understand the emotions, watch “Chinatown,” the 1974 movie about the deceptive way Owens Valley water was diverted to the Southland to spur the growth of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley).
Looking deeply into the plan, this much is clear: The newly renamed “California Water Fix” doesn’t even promise more water to southern cities. It simply promises a more consistent water supply. The twin tunnels are designed to change the flow of the rivers and protect the Delta Smelt. With the smelt protected, there will be fewer reasons to shut the pumps. In other words, this is a costly engineering solution to a political problem.
And therein lies California’s main water problem. No one here denies the importance of the environment or that some portion of the state’s scarce water resources needs to be used to protect wetlands and river habitats. But the balance of power has shifted from those who believe that people come first to those who seem to view the population as a scourge.
In April, I reported on a contentious meeting at the Oakdale Irrigation District east of Modesto. Farmers and local residents were aghast. The state and federal officials insisted on releasing massive amounts of water from the large New Melones Reservoir and Lake Tulloch, a small lake downstream from New Melones surrounded by homes. As the governor was threatening fines for people who take long showers, his State Water Resources Control Board was going to empty reservoirs to save about a dozen fish.
The local farmers and residents were asking for a temporary reprieve. I remember the words of one of the district officials, who was calling for “off ramps” during times of severe drought. That’s jargon for temporarily putting aside some of the more aggressive environmental demands at a time when farms and people are out of water. Bad publicity delayed the “pulse flows,” but by September water officials began insisting on new releases.
Recent reports showed that farmers use 80 percent of California’s water resources. It’s true that farmers are an important interest group. And because of the state’s old and quirky system of water rights, we see infuriating misuses of resources – e.g., farmers growing water-intensive hay in one of the driest regions on Earth, the southern Imperial Valley.
But that 80 percent number was deceptive because it completely omitted environmental uses of water, which constitute more than 50 percent of the state’s flows. Farmers, businesses, and residents fight over what remains. What we’re seeing – water releases to benefit a small number of common fish, removing dams along major rivers, delays of desalination plants, failure to build adequate water storage – is not an anomaly. It is the cumulative effect of water policies dominated by environmental interests.
It wasn’t always this way. In earlier days, California’s water policies had more in common (and with some admittedly ill environmental effect) with the ideas of capitalist defender Ayn Rand than John Muir, the famed naturalist whose environmental legacy dominates California discussions. California leaders were proud of taming the wilderness and building massive infrastructure projects – especially water projects – that allowed the state’s phenomenal growth.
In 1961, when Jerry Brown’s dad, Pat Brown, was governor, the State Water Project was begun. “The project includes 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; 20 pumping plants; four pumping-generating plants; five hydroelectric power plants; and about 701 miles of open canals and pipelines,” according to a state description. “The project provides supplemental water to approximately 25 million Californians and about 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.”
I’ve toured a lot of the facilities and even was on an official tour of the Colorado River project, following the water as it flowed from reservoirs behind New Deal-era dams at the Arizona border down to the treatment facility in the Los Angeles. It was quite a feat to build these projects. As I argued in my Orange County Register column at the time, it could never be replicated today in a world of Environmental Impact Statements, greenmail lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, and a political system dominated by officials more interested in quashing human development than providing the means for humans to thrive in this arid climate.
Sure, it would help if it rained – but the lack of rain is the least of California’s drought problems.
Nowhere has there been so much hand-wringing over a lack of “affordable housing,” as among politicians and others in coastal California. And nobody has done more to make housing unaffordable than those same politicians and their supporters.
A recent survey showed that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was just over $3,500. Some people are paying $1,800 a month just to rent a bunk bed in a San Francisco apartment.
It is not just in San Francisco that putting a roof over your head can take a big chunk out of your pay check. The whole Bay Area is like that. Thirty miles away, Palo Alto home prices are similarly unbelievable.
One house in Palo Alto, built more than 70 years ago, and just over one thousand square feet in size, was offered for sale at $1.5 million. And most asking prices are bid up further in such places.
Another city in the Bay Area with astronomical housing prices, San Mateo, recently held a public meeting and appointed a task force to look into the issue of “affordable housing.”
Public meetings, task forces, and political hand-wringing about a need for “affordable housing” occur all up and down the San Francisco peninsula, because this is supposed to be such a “complex” issue.
Someone once told President Ronald Reagan that a solution to some controversial issue was “complex.” President Reagan replied that the issue was in fact simple, “but it is not easy.”
Is the solution to unaffordable housing prices in parts of California simple? Yes. It is as simple as supply and demand. What gets complicated is evading the obvious, because it is politically painful.
One of the first things taught in an introductory economics course is supply and demand. When a growing population creates a growing demand for housing, and the government blocks housing from being built, the price of existing housing goes up.
This is not a breakthrough on the frontiers of knowledge. Economists have understood supply and demand for centuries – and so have many other people who never studied economics.
Housing prices in San Francisco, and in many other communities for miles around, were once no higher than in the rest of the United States. But, beginning in the 1970s, housing prices in these communities skyrocketed to three or four times the national average.
Why? Because local government laws and policies severely restricted, or banned outright, the building of anything on vast areas of land. This is called preserving “open space,” and “open space” has become almost a cult obsession among self-righteous environmental activists, many of whom are sufficiently affluent that they don’t have to worry about housing prices.
Some others have bought the argument that there is just very little land left in coastal California, on which to build homes. But anyone who drives down Highway 280 for thirty miles or so from San Francisco to Palo Alto, will see mile after mile of vast areas of land with not a building or a house in sight.
How “complex” is it to figure out that letting people build homes in some of that vast expanse of “open space” would keep housing from becoming “unaffordable”?
Was it just a big coincidence that housing prices in coastal California began skyrocketing in the 1970s, when building bans spread like wildfire under the banner of “open space,” “saving farmland,” or whatever other slogans would impress the gullible?
When more than half the land in San Mateo County is legally off-limits to building, how surprised should we be that housing prices in the city of San Mateo are now so high that politically appointed task forces have to be formed to solve the “complex” question of how things got to be the way they are and what to do about it?
However simple the answer, it will not be easy to go against the organized, self-righteous activists for whom “open space” is a sacred cause, automatically overriding the interests of everybody else.
Was it just a coincidence that some other parts of the country saw skyrocketing housing prices when similar severe restrictions on building went into effect? Or that similar policies in other countries have had the same effect? How “complex” is that?
Carly Fiorina is surging right now in the GOP Presidential primary and it’s easy to see why many conservatives like her. She’s had a couple of strong debate performances where she’s tossed out good lines, she’s the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 business and she’s portraying herself as an “outsider” in a year when conservatives are justifiably sick of politicians.
Let me paint a different picture of Carly Fiorina and explain why other than Jeb Bush, she’s the candidate I’d least like to see get the nomination. Incidentally, that is really saying something given that I own http://notjebbush.com and the only reason I haven’t bothered to launch it is that Jeb has been so off-putting that watching him speak is like a commercial for “Not Jeb Bush.” Jeb is like the weird, annoying kid in school that no one would ever talk to if he didn’t have a pool. (PS: I’m leaving out Lindsey Graham here because I’m not sure anyone other than his mother will vote for him and I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if even she votes for Walker, Paul or Jindal instead).
First of all, it’s worth noting that Fiorina may have been the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 business, but she turned out to be just as bad at it as Barack Obama has been at running the country. Despite the spin she tries to put in, Carly Fiorina was a disaster for Hewlett Packard.
Fiorina’s story is that she stormed into HP, turned the company around and was unceremoniously fired because she challenged the status quo. In actuality, she insisted on a controversial merger with Compaq, got her way and it decimated the company. Fiorina loves to talk about HP’s increase in raw numbers, but if two large computer companies merge, it’s almost a given that the revenue and the number of patents produced by both companies combined are going to increase. What didn’t increase was HP’s stock price. It dropped from $55 a share when Fiorina took over to a little less than $20 a share under her leadership. There is a reason Fiorina shows up on lists of the Worst CEOs Of All Time (See here, here, here, and here among others) and it’s not because the whole business world is engaged in some kind of conspiracy to portray her as an incompetent.
Let me also add that it’s not fair that Democrats will attack her for firing 30,000 workers because unfortunately, that just comes with the territory when you’re a CEO sometimes. However, if you think it wouldn’t be incredibly effective to point out that Fiorina fired 30,000 workers, tanked the price of the company’s stock, damaged Hewlett Packard so badly that it has yet to recover and STILL walked away with 100 million dollars for being one of the worst CEOs of all time, you’re kidding yourself. For all of his flaws, Mitt Romney was a gifted businessman and the Democrats managed to falsely portray him as a heartless, greedy monster for doing far less than that at Bain Capital.
If Carly Fiorina were to say that she’d run America like she ran Hewlett Packard, it could be taken as a direct threat against the country. So, what else does she have to offer as a candidate?
Oh, right! She’s supposedly a grassroots conservative outsider! Yeah, well about that…
Fiorina has run for office before. During the Tea Party tidal wave of 2010, there seemed to be an outside chance that Republicans might be able to knock off Barbra Boxer in California. Granted, it’s California, so it was always going to be a heavy lift, but after Scott Brown had won earlier in the year in Massachusetts, it didn’t seem impossible that a Republican could pull it off.
So, as we have often seen in these last few years, a conservative grassroots candidate squared off with a moderate candidate backed by the establishment. The grassroots conservative candidate was Chuck DeVore and the establishment candidate was Carly Fiorina. Almost every big name conservative except for Sarah Palin lined up behind DeVore (and I love Sarah, but if Fiorina had been a man, there’s not a chance in the world she would have gotten that endorsement. That’s why Sarah had to deal with a big backlash from her own fans over backing Fiorina). On the other hand, the NRSC, John McCain and Lindsey Graham were all supporting Fiorina. Interesting question: When have John McCain, Lindsey Graham and the NRSC EVER backed a conservative candidate over a moderate in a competitive race? Yes, that’s right; they don’t do that. Ever.
After beating DeVore by outspending him more than 3-to1, Fiorina went toe-to-toe with charisma-free Senator Barbara Boxer and got her brains beaten in. Surprise, surprise – Fiorina’s disastrous run at Hewlett Packard turned out to be an anchor around her neck and the fact that she was such a terrible politician that she signed off on bizarre garbage like the Demon Sheep ad (IT APPEARS at 2:26) certainly didn’t help. In a year when Republicans picked up 6 Senate seats, Boxer waltzed to a 10 point victory over Fiorina.
So, Fiorina’s a failed CEO and it would be more accurate to call her an “establishment favorite” than an outsider, but at least she’s a hardcore conservative, right? Well… not so much. Here’s Redstate on Carly Fiorina back in 2010.
From her praise of Jesse Jackson, to her playing the race and gender cards against DeVore, to her support for the Wall Street bailouts, to her qualified support for the Obama stimulus, to her past support for taxation of sales on the Internet, to her waffling on immigration, to her support for Sonia Sotomayor, to her Master’s thesis advocating greater federal control of local education, to her past support for weakening California’s Proposition 13, to her statement to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that Roe v. Wade is “a decided issue,” Carly Fiorina’s oft-repeated claim to be a “lifelong conservative” was only plausible in the universe of NRSC staffers who recruited her in the first place.
…She endorsed Federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research for “extra” embyros.
She endorsed the California DREAM Act, which grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
She refused to endorse California’s Proposition 23, which suspends the job-killing AB 32 climate-change law.
Fiorina also strongly supported Marco Rubio’s amnesty plan that even he claims not to back anymore, endorsed cap & trade and attacked Ted Cruz for being willing to shut down the government to stop Obamacare.
How do you trust Fiorina on immigration, small government issues, taxes, pro-life issues, global warming or to even try to kill Obamacare after that?
None of this means Carly Fiorina is a bad person, a liberal, a stalking horse or anything else. If you like Carly Fiorina, support her, but at least know what you’re really getting. If you’re backing Carly Fiorina, you’re backing a 0-1, establishment moderate who was an epic failure at the one thing that is supposed to qualify her for the presidency. On the other hand, Fiorina does seem to be pretty good at debating. Of course, if you’re in the market for a charismatic candidate who’s relatively moderate, Chris Christie or Mike Huckabee would seem to be a much better choice, but opinions vary.
Although it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen in a primary season as crazy as this one has been, the difference between what people THINK Fiorina is and what she ACTUALLY is, is so great that we can hazard one guess: Carly Fiorina is going to follow the 2012 pattern. People will initially get excited about her, find out what her record really looks like and then she’ll quickly implode.
Remember 2012, when the most vulnerable issue for Democrats was the overwhelmingly unpopular imposition of ObamaCare? The Establishment stuck Republicans with Mitt Romney, who couldn’t use the issue because he was responsible for imposing ObamaCare’s prototype on Massachusetts.
Since it looks like Obama will keep Shrillary out of jail, she remains the Democrat frontrunner for 2016. Her most vulnerable point is her illegal use of a private email server for top secret communications, presumably to cover her influence peddling activities. When the server was subpoenaed by Congress, she tried to wipe it – an arrogant crime that would land you or me in federal prison for some time.
Now the Establishment is using the media to hype Carly Fiorina. Here is what she says about Shrillary’s server issues:
Fiorina said that it’s “absolutely crystal clear” that Clinton broke the rules and that she’s trying cover it up.
She pointed out that Clinton had a “server in her basement” for years, then decided to “wipe it clean” two years after leaving the State Department and before her presidential run.
But it is alleged that Fiorina has server issues too:
My name is Charles Nielsen and I was an employee with HP from 1/2000 until 8/2001. I worked in the Boise, Idaho Data Center. I was the sole Customer Engineer allowed to work on Carly’s Private Server. It was kept under lock and key and I was the only engineer allowed to work on it under the direct supervision of the Data Center Manager; I was new to the company and was used as a dupe. In March of 2001, just before Carly Fiorina had taken control of HP from Walter Hewlett, I was asked to remove the 5 hard drives from her personal server and physically destroy them with a hammer. I asked why I would destroy hard drives that at the time were worth over $15k apiece and I was told because she said so. Shortly after destroying all evidence of her conspiracy to take over the company she removed Walter Hewlett from the board of directors and made off with approximately $500 million dollars from the company with the rest of the board of directors ($100 million for Carly personally). All of her emails and all working documents were destroyed. I have kept my silence until now when I find it highly offensive that after laying off close to 30k workers and sending stock prices into the gutter ( $55 a share when Fiorina took over to a little less than $20 a share under her leadership) she is pretending she would never behave like Hillary has. Carly Fiorina is as corrupt as they come.
It would be nice for the mainstream media to use its resources to vet this guy so we know how seriously to take his allegations. But as we learned from the rise of Obama, vetting is not something the media does anymore. It digs up dirt on people it wants to destroy, and covers for those it wants to advance.
Right now it wants to advance Fiorino, I mean Fiorina – and not because she can win. Her record in both the business and political worlds consists of one failure precariously balanced atop another. In a general election the whole mess would collapse. That’s not a bug; it’s a feature.
Rush Limbaugh explains why the media has been hyping Fiorina and hiding her record:
“Because they want to get rid of Trump,” Limbaugh said…
“Look, this is very, very important for everybody to understand. And the reason it’s very, very important is this is how they choose our nominees for us…
“[I]t’s not that they love Carly Fiorina. They love what supporting her now might enable them to accomplish, and that is get rid of a Republican who can win.”
Romney could have beaten Obama in 2008. But mysteriously he was surpassed that year by the worst candidate the GOP could come up with, a sellout universally hated by the conservative base, John McCain.
Like the designated loser McCain, Fiorina is a tool the media will discard when she has served her usefulness.
When Republicans un-apologetically embrace conservatism with the time-proven Reagan-Bush Sr. approach, they win by landslides. It happens every time. When they “reach across the aisle” and vote like Democrats on issue-after-issue with the failed Dole-McCain-Romney approach, our right-of-center electorate doesn’t show up and they always lose.
The following is a list of Carly Fiorina’s liberal RINO policy positions and red flags from her background:
-In September of 2010, she repeated the left’s fraudulent “consensus of experts” fallacy on global warming. She also refused to take a stand against one of California’s most extreme job-killing environmental measures, endorsed man-made global warming in 2014, and supported the left’s economically-suicidal “Cap-and-Trade” insanity in 2008.
-In September of 2010, she supported the Dream Act (amnesty for children of illegal immigrants). She avoids the question on overall amnesty, and in May of 2010, smeared those seeking to enforce our laws as racists.
-In 2010, she praised Obama’s “Race to the Top” program as well as “No Child Left Behind.” And in 1989, she wrote this in her doctoral dissertation for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
“Where I began as a proponent of ‘States’ Rights’ in education, I have ended by believing that we will never meet our own expectations of public education unless the federal government is willing to play a consistent, long-term role; unless education truly becomes a matter of national policy, not just a matter of national rhetoric.”
-In 2003, she said, “In the past 40 years, there are very few people who have used their talent along lines of excellence to achieve more things for more people in more places than Reverend Jackson. And we are all better off for his leadership.” She has an extensive record of praising and supporting this sleazy shakedown artist and his bogus, race-baiting extortion schemes.
-In April of 2010, she said that Roe vs. Wade was a “settled issue,” and confirmed that she would not rule out a Supreme Court nominee over their position on abortion. Republicans closest to her describe her as “pro-choice.”
-In August of 2010, she stated that she supports allowing homosexuals in the military. She opposes a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s blatantly illegal invention of federal marriage rights for homosexuals (at the expense of actual constitutional rights like state sovereignty and free religious exercise).
-In May of 2014 and February of 2015, she perpetuated the left’s debunked myth of women getting paid less than men for the same work. She also routinely promotes her gender as a reason to vote for her.
-In 2008, she was John McCain’s economic adviser as he supported the TARP bailout, the auto bailout, a mortgage bailout, and the the AIG bailout. She is also on the record supporting the bank bailouts before she was against them.
-In April of 2009, she supported Obama’s stimulus program, before she was against it.
-In November of 2009, she stated that she would have voted to confirm racist, anti-gun gender fanatic Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
-In 2000, she supported an Internet sales tax, before she was against it.
-In January of 2010, she revealed her radical feminist intolerance for equal opportunity: “I like to remind people that women are not a constituency – women are a majority. Women are the majority of voters and we will never have a truly representative democracy unless women make up half, at least, of our elected representatives.”
-In 2010, she was endorsed by the PAC of far left RINO John McCain.
By now it’s clear: even fellow Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham have piled on, the mainstream media is in an uproar, the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is demanding he drop out of the race, and the only people who agree with Ben Carson’s statements about a Muslim president, Sharia, and the Constitution are racist, bigoted Islamophobes.
“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” said Carson, and hatemongers everywhere applauded.
The Islamophobes even piled on with hateful statements of their own:
Let’s face the grim truth… There is no evidence whatever that Islam in its various political forms is compatible with modern democracy. From Afghanistan under the Taliban to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and from Iran to Sudan, there is no Islamist entity that can be said to be democratic, just, or a practitioner of good governance.
Oh, the Islamophobia! Ibrahim Hooper and Nihad Awad of CAIR are no doubt gearing up for another press conference to denounce that one, but they’re coming so thick and fast that those guardians of the Constitution may not be able to keep up.
The first basic difference between the political system endorsed by Islam and democracy is that in democracy, the ultimate authority lies with the people. In Islam, however, the ultimate authority doesn’t belong to people; it belongs to God alone. That means that both the ruler and the ruled in Islam are subject to a higher criterion for decision-making, that is, divine guidance.
That would mean that the Constitution would have to give way to Sharia wherever the two conflict, as another Islamophobe makes clear when he says:
Democracy runs counter to Islam on several issues… In democracy, legislation is the prerogative of the people. It is the people who draw up the constitution, and they have the authority to amend it as well. On this issue we differ.
Supposedly, in Islamic thought only Allah legislates. There is no shortage of Islamophobes who spew this hate.
Another howled that in Islam, “democracy, freedom, and human rights have no place.”
Still another yelped that in Islam, “democracy is evil, the parliament is evil and legislation is evil.”
One Islamophobe went Carson one better, saying not only that a Muslim should not be president, but that Muslims shouldn’t even participate in elections. He had the audacity to claim that “electing a president or another form of leadership or council members is prohibited in Islam.”
These Islamophobes have even tried to convince people that because Islam is a “comprehensive system of governance,” many Muslims reject democracy as “a system whereby man violates the right of Allah and decides what is permissible or impermissible for mankind, based solely on their whims and desires.”
One complained that some Muslims even assert that they can only participate in politics in Western societies “on Islam’s terms.”
These must be the kind of Islamophobic statements Carson was reading when he formulated his hateful, bigoted opinions. Shameful.
So who said the awful statements above? Pamela Geller? Geert Wilders? Some other hatemongering profiteer whom all decent people must shun?
In order, the authors of the Islamophobic statements I quote above are:
* Hisham Melhem, the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya,
* Renowned moderate Muslim and Islamic apologist Jamal Badawi,
* Syrian Islamic scholar Abd Al-Karim Bakkar,
* The leader of Iran’s Shia Taliban, Mesbah Yazdi,
* Australian Muslim cleric Ibrahim Siddiq-Conlon,
* Saudi Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Nassir Al Barrak,
* A Muslim group in Wales that plastered Cardiff with posters denouncing democracy and exhorting Muslims not to vote, and
* A Muslim group in Denmark that likewise urged Muslims to boycott elections.
Carson’s detractors would no doubt dismiss all these Muslims as “extremists.” All they have to do to make their case, after all, is point to all the thriving Constitutional republics that have Muslim majorities and guarantee freedom of speech, equal rights for women and non-Muslims, and other aspects of traditional Islamic law that Islamophobes claim contradict the Constitution.
In reality, there is not a single country to which they can point. There is no democratic tradition in the Islamic world. There is no history of secular republics, no concept of the equality of all people before the law.
People often invoke Turkey as an example of how Islam and democracy are fully compatible. In reality, the secular Turkish republic was established in an atmosphere of war with Islam, with explicit restrictions placed upon political Islam that were considered necessary so as to rein in its authoritarian, supremacist, anti-democratic tendencies. Now, the Erdogan regime is reasserting Islam’s political aspects. Turkish secularism has been severely weakened, and may not be long for this world.
The absence of Constitutional republics in the Islamic world is no accident. It comes from: Islam’s sharp dichotomy between believers and unbelievers, retarding the development of the principle of equality of rights for all; its blasphemy laws, which hinder the freedom of speech and intellectual development; and its vision of Allah as a solitary and all-powerful despot whose will is absolute – hardly an ideal model upon which to build the idea of parliamentary give-and-take in order to discover the truth or determine the best path.
In Islam, Allah alone reveals the truth and marks out the straight path: Islam.
“We are a different kind of nation,” Ben Carson said as the controversy raged over his remarks. “Part of why we rose so quickly is because we wouldn’t allow our values or principles to be supplanted because we were going to be politically correct… Part of the problem today is that we’re so busy trying to be politically correct, that we lose all perspective.”
Indeed. Lost in the Carson firestorm is the question of whether or not he was right about Islam and Sharia. He was.
Whatever becomes of his presidential ambitions, Americans owe him a debt of gratitude for, even for a brief period, breaking through the media fog of obfuscation about Islam and allowing for some honest discussion of these all-important matters. Even as he stands on the firing line, that may be the most valuable service this good man performs for his country.
The controversy stirred by Ben Carson’s response to a question whether he would support a Muslim for president has worked to his campaign’s benefit, at least in two important ways.
According to ABC News, both donations and the candidate’s following on Facebook have increased significantly since he announced on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that he would not support a person adhering to the Muslim faith to be President of the United States. Carson’s campaign relayed that the candidate’s Facebook page has picked up more than 100,000 new “likes” in the 24 hours since the interview.
As reported by Western Journalism, the host of Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, asked Dr. Carson: “Should a President’s faith matter?”
“If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem,” he explained.
Three in four Americans (75%) last year perceived corruption as widespread in the country’s government. This figure is up from two in three in 2007 (67%) and 2009 (66%).
While the numbers have fluctuated slightly since 2007, the trend has been largely stable since 2010. However, the percentage of U.S. adults who see corruption as pervasive has never been less than a majority in the past decade, which has had no shortage of controversies from the U.S. Justice Department’s firings of U.S. attorneys to the IRS scandal.
These figures are higher than some might expect, and while the lack of improvement is somewhat disconcerting, the positive takeaway is that Americans still feel fairly free to criticize their government. This is not the case in some parts of the world. Questions about corruption are so sensitive in some countries that even if Gallup is allowed to ask them, the results may reflect residents’ reluctance to disparage their government. This is particularly true in countries where media freedom is restricted.
This is why it is most appropriate to look at perceptions of corruption through such lenses as the Freedom House’s Press Freedom rankings. Ratings vary among countries with a “free press,” including the U.S., and range from a high of 90% in Lithuania to a low of 14% in Sweden. The U.S. does not make the top 10 list, but notably, it is not far from it.
These data are available in Gallup Analytics.
Results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 U.S. adults each year, aged 15 and older, conducted between 2007 and 2014. For results based on the total sample of national adults in the U.S., the margin of sampling error has typically been ±4.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of national adults across the 134 countries surveyed in 2014, the margin of sampling error ranged from ±2.1 percentage points to ±5.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup’s Country Data Set details.
Almost 50 percent of Florida voters say that former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio should end their respective bids for the Republican presidential nomination, according to a new poll.
A survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) finds that 47 percent of voters in the Sunshine State say Bush should drop out, while 40 percent say he should stick with it.
Forty-eight percent also say Rubio should drop out, while 42 percent say the senator, who has opted to run for president instead of seeking a second term in the Senate, should not drop out of the race.
A similar survey from the polling outfit released last week found that 78 percent of Republicans in South Carolina thought Sen. Lindsey Graham should end his 2016 GOP bid.
Bush and Rubio are thought to be top contenders for the GOP nomination, but are polling in single digits nationally behind billionaire businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
In the latest poll of Florida, which holds its primaries in mid-March, Trump is supported by 28 percent of GOP primary voters, followed by Carson (17 percent), Bush (13 percent) and Rubio (10 percent).
On the Democratic side, the latest PPP poll finds continued support for front-runner Hillary Clinton, who takes 55 percent support in the state despite struggling in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Clinton is followed in Florida by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist-Vt.) at 18 percent and Vice President Joe Biden, who is still considering jumping into the presidential race, at 17 percent.
Trump and Clinton’s front-runner statuses were also seen in a Gravis Marketing poll also released on Monday.
The PPP survey of 814 Florida voters was conducted Sept. 11 to Sept. 13 via phone and the Internet with a margin of error of 3.4 points, while the margin of error for the 377 GOP and 368 Democratic primary voters is 5.1 points.
On Thursday, 42 Senate Democrats voted to filibuster a resolution of disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal. That unprincipled partisan move not only deprived the Senate of a vote on the deal that the body had granted itself by a 99-1 vote earlier this year. It also seemed to close off any chance that Congress could block the implementation of the pact championed by President Obama. Indeed, the filibuster engineered by the Democrats ensured he would not even have to veto the resolution that was passed by the House on Friday. Understandably that has caused most observers to stop talking about the failure of the deal’s critics to stop it and instead to start discussing exactly how quickly Iran will start getting the money and sanctions relief President Obama has promised it. But some opponents are not giving up.
In Politico, Senator Ted Cruz writes that the fight isn’t over. Cruz echoes the defiance of House Republicans who correctly point out that as long as the text of a side deal between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency is kept secret, the administration hasn’t complied with the Corker-Cardin bill and it can’t be put into effect. He says that means any implementation of the agreement will be illegal and that Congress can act in such a way as to make that position stand up. That raises two questions. The first is whether his stance is correct. The second is whether opponents of the president’s policy believe further resistance is not only futile but also counter-productive. Though Congressional leaders are inclined to view anything Cruz says as ill-advised, he might not only be right but his plan of action could lay the foundation for Obama’s successor to throw the deal out.
Let’s concede up front, as Cruz does himself, that nothing the House or the Senate does at this point will prevent President Obama from putting the deal into effect. The administration doesn’t concede that the Iran-IAEA agreement is part of the actual deal and will, on the strength of the Senate filibuster treat it as if Congress has approved it.
Yet as I noted last week, House Republicans such as Rep. Mike Pompeo, who have raised the question of the side deal, are exactly right. The text of the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015 put forward by Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, was clear that every aspect of any nuclear deal signed by the West with Iran had to be disclosed to Congress before the 60-day review period, during which a resolution of disapproval might be put forward and could be triggered. Since the Iran-IAEA deal about inspection of the Parchin military site has not been divulged to Congress, the review period did not begin when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action embraced by the president was presented to Congress in July.
A majority of the House has embraced this stand, and Cruz asks House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to jointly endorse that position. He also would like McConnell to schedule a symbolic sense of the Senate resolution that would state that the deal would not have been ratified had it been presented, as it should have been, as a treaty and had to follow the Constitutional process that would have required 67 votes for approval.
Lastly, Cruz wants the Congressional leadership to issue a formal warning to banks that are currently holding the billions in frozen Iranian assets that the deal would have to release to Tehran. They would be told that if they listen to President Obama and let the funds go to the Islamist regime they risk being hauled into court and face onerous civil and perhaps even criminal penalties once a new administration is sworn in.
Some Republicans – especially Boehner and McConnell – are inclined to view anything Cruz says as self-serving and a recipe for endless and pointless strife. He has made a lot of enemies on his own side of the aisle since entering the Senate in January 2013. McConnell is still angry over Cruz calling him a liar in July during their dispute about the renewal of the Export-Import Bank. Nor has the GOP leadership forgiven him for helping to push Congress into the 2013 government shutdown or his threats about another one this year about defunding Planned Parenthood.
Yet in spite of their hard feelings, they should be listening to him on this issue.
While Congress can’t actually stop Obama from acting as if the deal is legal, it should be taking all appropriate steps to defend its rights as it fights a rear-guard action against a nuclear agreement that is a dangerous act of appeasement. Congress can sue the president over this and should. As it happens, earlier this week a Washington D.C. federal judge ruled that the much-mocked Congressional lawsuit against the president for rewriting the ObamaCare law without proper legislative authority can move ahead. That means a similar suit that might be pursued about the illegal implementation of the Iran deal is also theoretically viable.
The president gained a victory when Senator Corker foolishly allowed himself to be gulled into writing a bill that created a reverse ratification process that let the deal be passed with only 42 Senate votes rather than Constitution’s mandate of 67. But that also means that it does not have the force of law and can be thrown out with legal impunity by his successor. Even if it takes years to win in court, a suit that points out the illegal nature of the implementation will make it easier for a Republican president to do that. That will make the threats of legal consequences for the banks that deliver money to Iran even more credible. Congress should also move ahead with legislation toughening the sanctions on Iran and making it difficult if not impossible for Obama to move forward with his goal of détente with the Islamist regime.
Though it feels like the fight over Iran is over, Cruz is right that it doesn’t have to be that way. For now, Obama will have his way but by not conceding the battle, Boehner and McConnell will be preparing the way for this appalling betrayal of principle by the president to be eventually discarded, as it should have been had not Congressional Democrats valued partisan loyalty over their responsibility to defend the U.S. and its allies. Establishment Republicans can roll their eyes at Cruz, but he’s right about this. Democrats now own Iran and its crimes for the foreseeable future and the GOP as well as friends of Israel should not be shy about pointing who are the guilty men and women who backed appeasement. Not giving up isn’t a waste of time. It’s actually the prudent and the politically smart thing to do.
Previous posts have discussed the jurisdictional and statutory questions involved in possible judicial challenges to sanctions relief pursuant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Here I will sketch what seems to me the most effective way of ensuring prompt judicial review of these issues – a two-pronged litigation strategy involving both Congress and the several states. At the end, I’ll return to some questions about congressional standing in response to insightful comments by Prof. Josh Blackman.
The first step would be for the House to challenge any sanctions relief declared by the President. Such a case raises novel and complex standing questions. While a recent D.C. Federal court decision opens the door to such suits, it is not clear how wide, and the House may be found to not have standing. Yet even in such a situation, the suit could be important.
Even if a House suit fails on standing grounds – and there is no disgrace in a case not being judicially revieable – it would help shape judicial perceptions of the equities of subsequent suits involving states, where standing will not be in question. That is, the House’s vigorous assertion in court of a separation of powers violation, even if not ruled on, could give added credibility to subsequent separation of powers claims in litigation involving the states. If Congress tried but failed on a jurisdictional issue, it still gives the substantive issue the dimension of a major dispute between co-equal branches about federal statutes and foreign trade legislation, rather than states questioning Executive decisions.
For example, when the Line-Item veto act was passed, some congressmen who opposed it challenged it in court. They were found not to have standing (this does not weaken congressional standing in our case, where it would be the House in its institutional capacity, not simply a few members on the losing side of a vote bringing the suit). However, subsequently, when New York City and private groups affected by the Line Item Veto brought suit, their justiciable and ultimately successful case may have seemed more serious in light of the prior legislative challenge.
The states’ role
Dozens of states currently have Iran sanctions in place. Many of these are tied to the federal sanctions scheme, such that the state sanctions automatically terminate when the federal ones do. The simplest strategy for states is to insist on the ongoing validity of their sanctions even after President Obama purports to order sanctions relief.
The states can follow the House’s lead, and say they do not regard Corker-Cardin as having been complied with, and thus their sanctions remain in place. Indeed, the non-compliance with Corker-Cardin will protect state laws from preemption, as even the robust version of “executive policy” preemption in Giaramedi does not apply when the executive policy is blocked by express legislation.
(So far I, have assumed the the Executive will argue that Corker-Cardin gives him broad new sanctions cancellation power that he will purport to use; obviously, the existence power depends on compliance with that authorizing statute. If the Executive merely purports to be using previous waiver authority, which I doubt he will be content to do, then there is a reasonable argument, though no slam-dunk, that such authority is frozen pending Congress’s review of the full deal.)
State sanctions offer many routes to judicial review. First, the state can itself bring enforcement actions. State and lower federal court rulings in enforcement suits would also give courts an opportunity to rule on the legality of sanctions relief, but would not immediately bind the federal government.
However, the ongoing enforcement of such sanctions will put the Administration in a bind. On one hand, it will want the Justice Department to bring a prompt preemption challenge against the state laws. On the other hand, that would squarely expose the Administration’s Corker-Cardin compliance to judicial review, and a judgement would be fully and generally binding on the Executive. Even if the odds were against such a ruling, that would be a huge risk for the Administration to take with one of its signature accomplishments, especially right before an election.
On the other hand, the Administration would not be able to sit back and watch states enforce their sanctions. Indeed, President Obama seems to have promised Iran to not abide by such a scenario. The regulatory uncertainty of ongoing state sanctions would have a significant deterrent effect on companies, while the ongoing legal uncertainty over the sanctions relief would itself tend to destabilize the deal. And the President would have to worry that a possible successor could refuse to defend the deal in court, without having the expressly repudiate it, much as Obama declined a few years ago to defend the constitutionality of a federal law in United States v. Windsor.
Faced with this dilemma, and generally confident of the strength of its position, the Administration will most likely bring a preemption challenge, or intervene in a state proceeding, allowing for quick judicial review of the issues.
Congressional standing is now a real possibility because of the D.C. District Court’s ruling in House of Representatives v. Burwell. Josh Blackman argues that the House’s claims about the Iran deal would not meet the test set up by Judge Collyer in the case, while at the same time criticizing the distinction that test is based on. I am sympathetic to those criticisms. In the broader picture, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ultimate decision on the institutional legislative standing will not depend on the precise test articulated by the District Court, and if it arrives at the same result, it may be based on somewhat different reasoning. Thus a broad qualification is in order – the analysis of House standing is quite speculative as the entire doctrine of such standing is at this point quite uncertain.
Judge Collyer required the House to assert a constitutional injury for itself, not a statutory one, or a complaint about the Executive’s improper enforcement of the law. However, as Judge Collyer understands, constitutional claims are typically embedded in a statutory matrix, not floating around in the legal ether. Indeed, typically private citizens cannot sue to enforce constitutional rights directly, without a statutory cause of action. The question the House would raise is not simply whether the president complied with Corker-Cardin, but whether subsequent sanctions relief violates the separation of powers.
The most fundamental point is that Congress could not exercise its legislative powers – the power to make binding votes on things – without the relevant materials. In effect, the non-transmission prevented congress from exercising its legislative function within the relevant legal framework. This is an issue of the president not just nullifying Congress’s vote, but precluding it.
Furthermore, characterizing the House’s injury depends in part on how the Executive characterizes its subsequent sanctions relief actions. If, as some argue, Corker-Cardin does not merely authorize the president to use preexisting waiver and suspension authorities, but rather to actually cancel existing sanctions legislation, the constitutional issues loom particularly large. In this view, Corker-Cardin effectively delegates a retroactive veto power to the president to cancel existing pieces of legislation. While sanctions and trade laws typically contain provisions for suspension or termination by the president upon certain contingencies, that authority is typically for the restrictions within the authorizing piece of legislation itself. In other words, each law has its own suspension provisions.
It would be fairly novel, I believe, for Congress to give the president cross-statutory nullification authority, not triggered by any particular executive findings – that is for a statute to authorize the president to cancel provisions of other statutes. This has some echoes of the line-item veto (yes, of course there are differences). But one need not say the delegation is impermissible to say that there is a separation-of-powers problem.
Delegated power to strike down duly enacted statutes is a fairly vast grant of legislative power; in this case, without any apparent limiting principles. Such broad delegation could only be done pursuant to explicit legislative authorization. If that authorization is conditional, i.e. conditioned in Corker-Cardin on reviewing the full agreement, then whether those conditions have been met becomes a very important separation of powers question.
Even if Corker-Cardin merely authorizes the president to use preexisting sanctions relief authority, rather than grant new ones, that authority is now modified by Corker-Cardin itself. Thus sunsetting sanctions without providing for the required prior congressional review could be cast as a legislative act by the president – permanently changing the effect of existing laws in a way not pursuant to law.
To paraphrase Judge Collyer’s standing ruling in Burwell into Iran deal terms:
Properly understood, the Non-Cancellation Theory is not about the implementation, interpretation, or execution of any federal statute. The Executive has cancelled existing statutory provisions regarding sanctions without congressional legislation – not merely in violation of any statute, but in violation of U.S. Const. art. I, § 7, cl. 2, requiring bicameralism and presentment for such action.
Of course, the Executive would then argue that the cancellation was pursuant to congressional authorization in Corker-Cardin, and the House would respond that Corker-Cardin does not apply because the review period was not triggered. So non-compliance with the transmission requirements regarding deal documents would certainly be a big part of the issues in the case, but it would not be injury claimed by the House.
Again, to put it in language of Judge Collyer’s opinion:
The House of Representatives as an institution would suffer a concrete, particularized injury if the Executive were able to cancel duly enacted federal legislation without a valid congressional authorization.
A new CNN/ORC national poll has come out with Donald Trump surging 8 points to an all time high of 32% in this poll. It also shows Carson surging 10 points to a very strong second place with 19%.
You’ll also note Bush has tumbled 4 points down to 9% with Cruz gaining 2 points back to 7%: