The Patriot Act Is Not Conservative

If Americans needed another reminder of why the Democratic Party is absolutely worthless, they got it during last week’s Patriot Act extension debate when Senate Majority leader Harry Reid again behaved exactly like the Bush-era Republicans he once vigorously opposed. In 2005, Reid bragged to fellow Democrats, “We killed the Patriot Act.” Today, Reid says that anyone who opposes the Patriot Act might be responsible for the killing of Americans. Dick Cheney now hears an echo and Americans deserve congressional hearings—as to whether Harry Reid is a sociopath, mere liar, or both.

But while Democrats stand pat for Bush Republicanism, the GOP now debates the extent to which it will remain the party of Dubya. Tea Party favorites like Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee and Congressmen Ron Paul, Justin Amash, Allen West and others, all voted against the Patriot Act. To varying degrees, each of these GOP representatives questioned the act’s effectiveness and legality. But unfortunately, most Republicans still won’t ask any questions. Read More…

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Israel and the Right

When President Obama said last week that Israel should return to its pre-1967 borders, Benjamin Netanyahu declared “Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.” Israel’s Prime Minister was clearly not pleased.

But perhaps even more perturbed was the American Right, with the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates offering the following reactions: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Obama’s Israeli-Palestinian policy a “disaster.” Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.” Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann said that America would be “cursed” by God if it “rejected” Israel. A critical Sarah Palin even advised Obama to read the Old Testament.

Congressman Ron Paul was also critical of Obama’s Israel policy, but from a different perspective: “While President Obama’s demand that Israel make hard concessions in her border conflicts may very well be in her long-term interest, only Israel can make that determination on her own, without pressure from the United States or coercion by the United Nations. Unlike this President, I do not believe it is our place to dictate how Israel runs her affairs.”

Paul added, “We should respect Israel’s sovereignty and not try to dictate her policy from Washington.”

This is not the first time Paul has taken this position. Read More…

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America’s Moral Decline

American moral decline has been discussed for as long as there has been an America. Conservatives have long noted how certain cultural shifts throughout our nation’s history have redefined social norms, transforming or even damaging traditional American values. They’re often right, as concepts like the sanctity of life, the institution of marriage and the importance of faith have all been under assault for decades.

But have we been too narrow in defining our traditional values? What, exactly, are American values? How are they unique to this country?

If socialism has defined much of Europe and the world for the last century, a healthy respect for the separation of the public and private sectors has long been a distinctly American value. But not according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB has tried to prevent the Boeing corporation from opening a new plant in right-to-work South Carolina, contending that the company’s decision to not to expand an existing unionized plant in Washington for the same purpose amounted to an illegal retaliation against union workers. The NLRB’s board members are appointed by President Obama. Read More…

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Newt Gingrich Is Not a Conservative

When Newt Gingrich criticized Congressman Paul Ryan’s Medicare voucher plan and repeated his support for individual healthcare mandates this week, many conservatives expressed outrage and shock. Conservatives were right to be outraged. But they shouldn’t have been shocked.

Simply put, Newt Gingrich has never been a conservative.

Perhaps a quick primer in perception versus reality is in order. The reason most presidential candidates are considered frontrunners is because enough people keep saying they are frontrunners. For example, candidates like former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty or Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels are considered frontrunners despite having less name recognition, lesser poll numbers and less fundraising ability than some of the other supposed second or third tier candidates. Still, their perception as such continues to dictate the current reality. Read More…

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Who’s a Republican?

After the first 2012 Republican presidential debate this month, newly appointed Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) director Christopher N. Malagisi observed:

Earth to Rep. Ron Paul… you are running for the Republican nomination for president, not the Libertarian or Democrat nomination. At various times throughout the Republican primary debate last evening, I had to remind myself I was actually watching a Republican debate. Without the interludes of Gov. Tim Pawlenty (and) Sen. Rick Santorum… you would think that Ron Paul (was) participating in a Democrat presidential primary debate, siding with Democrats on major social and defense policy initiatives.

Read More…

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Michael Gerson’s Drug Delusions

Most people can’t imagine an America without a minimum wage. Without such wage regulation many believe poverty would run rampant, families would become homeless and children would be starving in the streets. Yet conservatives have rightly recognized that these are moralistic and emotional responses to what is essentially an economic problem. Pointing out the policy’s failure, National Review founder William F. Buckley wrote: “The minimum wage is about as discredited as the Flat Earth Society…” Yet the very notion of getting rid of it remains something most Americans simply cannot fathom.

Most people can’t imagine an America without the War on Drugs. Without federal drug laws many believe substance abuse would be rampant, families would be destroyed and the nation’s youth would be strung out across our streets. Yet opponents of federal drug laws have rightly recognized that these are moralistic and emotional responses to what is essentially an economic, political, and due to our approach, criminal problem.

In 1995, National Review declared “The War on Drugs is Lost.” Leading this charge, Buckley broke down the troublesome cost of prohibition: “We are speaking of a plague that consumes an estimated $75 billion per year of public money, exacts an estimated $70 billion a year from consumers, is responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the million Americans who are today in jail, occupies an estimated 50 per cent of the trial time of our judiciary, and takes the time of 400,000 policemen—yet a plague for which no cure is at hand, nor in prospect.”

Much like the minimum wage, virtually all data available on drug prohibition points to the utter ineffectiveness of our policies. The primary difference is that prohibition of drugs has been far more damaging to this country than prohibition of market determined base wage levels. Whether measured in dollars or lives—the War on Drugs continues to be a great and unnecessary tragedy.

It should not be surprising that those most comfortable with the damage caused by the War on Drugs have often belonged to administrations that have wrought the most damage on this country. Denouncing Congressman Ron Paul’s opposition to federal drug prohibition, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote this week in the Washington Post: “Welcome to Paulsville, where people are free to take soul-destroying substances and debase their bodies to support their ‘personal habits.” Added Gerson: “In determining who is a ‘major’ candidate for president, let’s begin here… It is difficult to be a first-tier candidate while holding second-rate values.”

Gerson was addressing the first Republican presidential debate last week, in which the moderators seemed intent on belittling Paul’s position on federal drug laws by using the most extreme example of heroin use, similar to how leftwing defenders of the minimum wage might invoke visions of homeless mothers and starving children. Paul’s simple yet controversial position is that drugs should be regulated at the state and local level as the Constitution demands, just like alcohol. Read More…

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The Rick Santorum Scam

Former United States Senator Rick Santorum represents everything that is wrong with the Republican Party. If dismantling big government is now a primary concern, Santorum has spent a career promoting big government. If stopping massive spending is now a top priority, Santorum has a lifelong record of championing massive spending. If our debt is now considered the greatest threat to our national security, Santorum has always considered everything but the debt a greater threat.

Indeed, if conservatism means limiting government, the many ways in which Santorum has been the consistent enemy of conservatism are virtually unlimited.

In his 2003 Wall Street Journal column, “Big Government Conservatism,” the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes explained George W. Bush’s distinct GOP brand: “Reagan was a small government conservative who declared in his inauguration address that government was the problem, not the solution. There, Bush begs to differ. The essence of Bush’s big government conservatism is a trade-off. To gain free-market reforms and expand individual choice, he’s willing to broaden programs and increase spending.”

Whether free markets and individual freedom saw any love during his tenure is arguable, but Bush’s massive “broadening” of government programs, budgets, and power is not, making Bill Clinton look conservative in comparison. During that time, Santorum was every bit as much the poster boy for big government as the president, and if Obama and the Democrats now triple the size of government, that growth is constructed on top of the statist groundwork laid by their Republican predecessors. Throughout Bush’s debt doubling agenda—No Child Left Behind, Medicare Plan D, you name it—Santorum was fully on board. And for that entire period, the Republican Party was completely off course.

Today, Santorum remains the personification of Bush Republicanism. Heading into the 2012 campaign, the former senator sounds more like the ghost of Republicans past, invoking Bush’s name more often and favorably than any other candidate, while seeming to hope his beating of the culture and foreign war drums might drown out his big government record. Last week, Santorum even tried to make amends with small government conservatives by publicly apologizing for his support for Medicare Plan D. Too bad Santorum is running in an election cycle in which conservatives are fed up with candidates who are constantly apologizing yet never changing.

Let us examine the Santorum scam: In positioning himself as the most socially conservative candidate, Santorum has been successful in spending as many taxpayer dollars as the Democrats by seeking right-wing refuge in his pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-gay-marriage positions. The problem is, “conservatives” of Santorum’s stripe rarely do much to actually advance these issues. Is America any closer to overturning Roe v. Wade? Do we generally have more federal gun laws today or less? Has homosexuality become more or less culturally acceptable? For most Republican politicians, social conservatism has always been more of a fashion statement than a mission statement. You even get the sense that politicians like Santorum know full well they can’t do much legislatively on these issues and thus enjoy the conservative cover it always provides them. A 10th Amendment revolution in this country might give social conservatives more political victories than they’ve had in decades—but it would also mean the loss of a valuable election tool for Republican politicians who not-so-coincidentally seem to always favor impossible-to-pass federal legislation. Read More…

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Obama Kept Us Safe

When I repeatedly denounced George W. Bush’s doubling of the size of government during the last election, Republicans had one primary defense of their president: “Bush kept us safe.” Indeed, little else seemed to matter to most Republicans at the time, as the party rallied around their leader, his record and a GOP presidential nominee who ran on a virtually identical platform. The War on Terror trumped all else, Republicans insisted, as the party devoted itself fully to the Warrior in Chief—who also happened to be one of the most big government presidents in American history.

Last week, President Obama significantly out-Bushed Bush: We killed Osama Bin Laden. Judging by their top priority for most of the last decade, it would seem that most Republicans will now vote for Obama in 2012. Sure, Bush doubled the size of government and the debt. Big deal—we were fighting a War on Terror. Sure, it’s true that Obama is now tripling the size of government and our debt. But so what—President Obama just killed the world’s top terrorist! “Obama kept us safe” might even be enough to carry the president through the next election. Read More…

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Have We Forgotten 9/11?

On September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States. In response, the United States declared war on Bin Laden. This week, after ten long years: We got ’em. Al-Qaeda’s top terrorist is dead, the nation rejoices, and the families of the victims of 9/11 are finally getting some much needed closure.

So, hopefully, is America. For the last decade, virtually our entire Middle Eastern policy revolved around 9/11. This was true for both critics and champions of American foreign policy. If war opponents dared to ask what the Iraq War had to do with Osama or Al-Qaeda, war proponents would simply reply, “Do you remember 9/11?” In the same year we invaded Iraq, country singer Darryl Worley’s 2003 hit song “Have You Forgotten” expressed this sentiment: “Some say this country’s just out looking for a fight, well, after 9/11 man I’d have to say that’s right… You say we shouldn’t worry ’bout bin Laden… Have you forgotten?” Read More…

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