TimManBlog

Whatever I'm Thinking

Archive for the tag “Santorum”

Obamacare Judicially Reviewed

Pete Spiliakos provides a nice review of Solicitor General Verrilli’s attempts to defend Obamacare in front of the Supreme Court this past week (“What Part of ‘Because I Said So’ Don’t You Understand?”).  Most tv and print pundits say the government’s lawyers (Verrilli) did a poor job defending the law in front of the court and many blame Verrilli personally.  In the final analysis however

 …Solicitor General Verrilli did his pitiful tap dance about how the health care market is “different” and how the federal government has the power to compel you to buy health insurance but not a cell phone or burial insurance.  And the result was that the more conservative Justices pounded him into the ground.  The problem wasn’t Verrilli.  It was the quality of his arguments.

From the day it passed I assumed Obamacare would be struck down by the courts as an unlawful abuse of Congressional power.  Article I of the Constitution enumerates the specific powers of Congress; the power to force purchases on people is not among that enumeration.

Although Article I grants Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, that power does not extend to forcing people to participate in commerce — so that they can then in turn be regulated!  Here I’m reminded of the climactic scene in Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven.” Eastwood’s character points a rifle at a frontier journalist who sputters “certainly you wouldn’t shoot an unarmed man!” Eastwood then points to a gun lying on the floor and growls “See that rifle there?  Pick it up!”  That’s the Pelosi-Reid Congress at work — Join the national health market so we can regulate you!  Or else!

A proper judicial review should thwart such an abuse of power.  In doing so the Court would exercise its proper role of oversight first used in Marbury vs Madison over 200 years ago. That’s judicial review in its proper place.  In case you’re wondering, should the Court strike down Obamacare it could not be justly accused of judicial activism — the judicial exercise of power not found in the Constitution.  Remember forced bussing of school children back in the 1970s?  That was judicial activism.  Obamacare is simply an unlawful abuse of power which needs to be vacated.

For more on the Obamacare arguments see also “I Wonder Why Solicitor General Verrilli…”

For a more practical (rather than legal) explanation of why Obamacare (or any other centralized planning solution to health care) is a foolish idea please see Walter Russell Mead “The Health Care Disaster and the Miseries of Blue.”

Finally, I think it’s important to remember why Obamacare is key to November’s election. The health care law is President Obama’s signature legislation. It’s also the perfect archetype of all he stands for: central planning, centralized government control of markets and industries, all supposedly for the benefit of the people yet in actuality at the people’s great expense and for the benefit of those who fund and support the party in power.  In an age of rapid technological advancement such policies are the exact opposite of the direction that America should take for the protection of individual freedom and the protection of individuals against the tools available to those who would seek despotic power.

All four remaining Republican candidates are running against Obama by running against Obamacare and the implications of Obamacare for government power.  Although Mitt Romney is the frontrunner he has failed to close the deal largely because of his association with “Romneycare” in Massachusetts.  Rick Santorum has said that the danger posed by the implications of Obamacare compelled him to enter the Presidential race (see “Rick Santorum — The Servant“). His stump speeches focus on freedom and resonate with the crowd (See Daniel Henninger’s “Santorum and Freedom“).  Gingrich and Paul are also strong opponents of the law.

I’m not in the prediction game; I’m lousy at picking football games against the spread and I won’t try to handicap the Supreme Court vote.  I just know how they should vote.

Santorum on “Absolute Separation” of Church and State

February 26, 2012

“Santorum:  Separation of Church and State Not Absolute”

That’s the headline coming out of an interview between Presidential candidate Rick Santorum and George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week”.

(video of both today’s ABC “This Week” interview and NBC’s “Meet this Press” interview here.)

Santorum’s exact quote was:

“I don’t believe in America the separation of church and state is absolute,” Santorum told host George Stephanopoulos. “The idea that the church can have no influence or involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country. This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says ‘free exercise of religion,’ that means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith into the public square.”

(decently in-depth story quoted above can be found here.)

The Constitution guarantees every American what they deserve — the ability to exercise their religion freely. So Santorum is absolutely correct in his statement, and he extends his respect outside of his own religious persuasion to “people of faith and no faith”.

However, the media, seeking a big story, (and perhaps his opponents as well) will likely try to spin this statement into something dictatorial. Don’t participate. Save the thrill of feeling scared for the latest Wes Craven movie or even an old Alfred Hitchcock black and white flick. That way you can enjoy entertainment for entertainment’s sake without falling for some broadcaster’s sales pitch.

In Santorum’s words :

the First Amendment says ‘free exercise of religion,’ that means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith into the public square.

Again, he’s correct. That’s what freedom of speech and religion are about. Freedom of religion means speaking your mind in a pluralistic society. It applies to politicians as well.

The Associated Press version of the story (link here) badly misquotes Santorum by leaving out the word “absolute”. The AP actually ran the story under the deceptive but more titillating headline “Santorum says he doesn’t believe in separation of church and state.” The Associated Press has a near monopoly on print news stories in this country, so they often unabashedly distort their coverage — sometimes out of bias and sometimes simply to drive sales.

Finally, as we all know, the term “Separation of Church and State” is a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson in a personal letter. The phrase does not have the force of law because it does not appear in the Constitution itself. Instead, the First Amendment bars the “Establishment” of religion using these words:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I ask that you consider the difference between “establishment” of religion (prohibited) and “separation of church and state” next Christmas when we have our annual spate of lawsuits about whether decorated spruce trees on public property are “Christmas trees” or “holiday trees”. What foolishness! Christmas trees have never established any religion nor forced any citizen to worship or not worship in any way shape or form.

We can avoid the “establishment” of religion in America but we cannot, in any practical way, “separate” church and state. That is because we cannot “separate” our religious thoughts and opinions from our understanding of right and wrong and good and bad. These ideas are intertwined at their very roots. Absolute separation is not only undesireable as Santorum said, it is impossible.

Mention of ‘The Servant’ at CPAC

February 10, 2012

Foster Friess introduced Senator Rick Santorum’s critical speech this morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). At 2:10 of his 5 minute introduction he mentioned me and my recent post “Rick Santorum — The Servant.”

I’d like to thank Foster Friess for mentioning me in his speech.

This is all very amazing to me.

A little over a week ago I decided I would try to see all the candidates as they campaigned here in Colorado. Santorum’s event was first. But when I arrived at the specified place at the specified time I found that no one was there. Angry that I had driven several miles for nothing, I called the number on the flyer I had and they told me the event had been moved to a larger location to accommodate an “overwhelming outpouring of interest.” Nevertheless I was still angry and felt put upon, and I almost went straight home instead.

I didn’t.

Ten days later I’m watching a man I’d never met before give a speech on the Fox News Channel and he’s saying my name and reading my words to a crowd of thousands with millions more watching all over the world via multiple satelite uplinks and whatnot.

We make dozens of little decisions every day. You just never know how things will turn out.

Blogger Conference call with Rick Santorum

February 9, 2012

I got an e-mail this morning from the Rick Santorum for President Campaign inviting me to attend “an Invitation-Only Question and Answer Session with Conservative Blogs.” I’ve never before had the chance to interview a major Presidential candidate. Cool.

This all happened because the internet noticed my publication of Rick Santorum — The Servant last week. A number of bloggers re-posted my post. Even the Santorum campaign noticed my article and added me to its media e-mail list.

The session was done by conference call at noon (Eastern Time). I’m not a professional reporter, and I didn’t have a tape recorder, so I’ll just have to do my best to recap some of the questions and answers of the session. I’ve limited my post to the questions and answers that I feel comfortable reproducing.

After a brief introduction by a moderator, Senator Santorum gave a short recap of his campaign position and then opened “the floor” for questions.

(ALL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ARE FROM MY NOTES AND ARE THUS PARAPHRASES. THESE ARE NOT EXACT QUOTATIONS.)

Question: Senator Santorum, what is your response to the charge made in the blogosphere and on Twitter that you are anti-Tea Party?

Answer from Santorum: Of course I’m not anti-Tea Party. The charge stems from those, mostly libertarians, who have a certain view of the Constitution whereas I believe in both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In short that we both rights AND responsibilities.

Question: Where does your campaign stand on the national debt?

Answer: I’ve signed up with the plan offered by Representative Paul Ryan but my critique of it is that it needs to happen sooner. We need to cut the debt now and not wait ten years from now to do it. We need to start now to spend less money, cut a trillion dollars from our spending — not just in inflation-adjusted terms nor as a relation to the current spending baseline.

Follow-up question: What about earmarks?

Answer: Earmarks are specific allocations within existing appropriations. They are not monies spent ON TOP OF appropriations and I’ve always voted to cap those total appropriations so I’ve never been in favor of increasing the debt to spend money on earmarks.

Question: With the Arizona Primary coming up, what is Obama’s biggest failure in the issue of immigration?

Answer: Obama’s biggest failure is that the border is not secure. No immigration policy of any sort can be effective unless we can control the border.

Question from me: Senator Santorum, have you seen the article published today by Henry Olsen on National Review Online entitled “Two Decades Too Late” (link here) and if so do you have a comment on it?

Answer: No, I haven’t seen that. Why don’t you recap it for me?

Follow-up question from me: Henry Olsen is a demographics expert from the American Enterprise Institute. His basic premise is that your campaign’s attempt to reconstitute the Reagan Coalition of 1980 cannot succeed because of demographic changes which have occurred since then.

Follow-up answer: Of course there have been demographic changes since 1980 but I believe my basic message of personal and economic freedom has a universal appeal to voters. So while demographics change the political landscape I’ve found that my message appeals to growing demographic groups such, especially Hispanics.

Question: What is your position on the single-rate flat tax?

Answer: Well I like the tax simplification aspect of the flat tax. Where I disagree with the single-rate people is they themselves don’t really like everyone, both rich and poor, to actually pay at one single-rate so they add all sorts of exemptions and deductions to make up for that. When you do that you end up back where you started with a complex tax code. I’d rather lower tax rates for everyone while removing all the complexity that people hate in the tax code.

End of session recap.

I’m very new to this. I had little notice beforehand and although I was pretty nervous I think the session went well. Usually our information gets filtered by what major media outlets tell us. I think it’s fantastic that Senator Santorum would take some time from his schedule to speak to a group of amateur bloggers like me.

I chose my question from a friend’s Facebook post I had seen that very morning. It seems to me that you get the best from people when you challenge them and the article referenced in my question challenged Santorum’s campaign strategy.

The author of “Two Decades Too Late” is Henry Olsen, whom I know from my days as a Ph.D. student at Claremont Graduate School in California. Back then Henry knew California politics so well that he could point out legislative district lines on the ground while flying at 30,000 feet from Los Angeles to Sacramento. He now works in a Washington think-tank and has published some excellent articles on American politics. My favorite is his highly accurate prognostication of the 2010 election results (“Day of the Democratic Dead“) published a few days before Election Day 2010. Be warned — it is 8 pages of detailed explanations of different American voting groups and their concerns, but if you have an interest in American politics it is well worth your time.

In my opinion, any time Henry Olsen offers a candidate advice it would be wise for that candidate to consider his words carefully. So in the end even a challenging question can be a favor in disguise.

Rick Santorum — Blue Collar Campaigner

They just finished counting the votes in Colorado and confirmed that Senator Rick Santorum had won the state Romney carried with 60% of the vote in the 2008 primary.  The Colorado win completes a tri-fecta for Santorum; earlier he had won both Missouri and Minnesota with a strong showing. In Missouri Santorum won each and every county in the state.

How did this happen?

I can speak for what happened in Colorado. Over the last week I trekked between Colorado Springs and Denver to attend live events with Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Senator Santorum. The curious can read my accounts of those events at the links below:

Santorum — The Servant

Romney — The Executive

Gingrich — The Visionary

I actually went to a second Santorum campaign rally just to confirm to myself what I had seen after the first one.

Rick Santorum out-worked the two better known and better funded candidates. He does Blue Collar campaigning.

Newt and Mitt did campaign rallies and gave speeches filled with laundry lists and applause lines. Santorum spoke to people in a coherent thematic way. He explained to them that we are losing our Freedom and he explained how and why.

Audiences at the Newt and Mitt events cheered at every bullet point and punch line. Ba-dum-bump…Yay! The applause from the last one-liner barely ended before it was time to cheer at the next one.

Rick Santorum’s audiences listened to an orator. They listened with rapt attention. They wanted to hear and digest his message, and consider it the way a free people deliberates about important issues.

At Santorum’s events the crowd became so quiet and attentive that at times one could hear a baby crying far across the room or the dull hum of traffic on the street outside. That is what I saw and heard.

After their speeches Newt and Mitt would spend ten minutes shaking hands and posing for photos. Then they left.

Rick Santorum stayed to shake ALL the hands offered; the whole crowd left before the candidate went home. I saw that happen…twice.

That, that is Blue Collar campaigning.

Senator Rick Santorum at Denver University

Rick Santorum — The Servant

As the 2012 campaign season comes to my state with next Tuesday’s Colorado Caucuses, I’ve decided to attend as many of the candidates’ local speeches as can be managed.

First up, Rick Santorum.

Dateline: Mr. Biggs Event Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Wednesday February 1, 7:15 pm.  The event was moved to this location at the last minute to accommodate a larger crowd than was originally expected.  The hall was full, standing room only, and I estimate the crowd to have been about one thousand.

I’m not a professional reporter. First I’ll do my best to recapitulate the speech objectively and then offer my opinions of it at the bottom of the post.

Santorum spoke with a microphone in one hand and no notes.

He began his comments by reminding the audience of the importance of the Constitution to American life. The Constitution exists to ensure our enjoyment of those freedoms and rights espoused in the Declaration of Independence, which Santorum referred to as “the Soul of America”.

Santorum went on to mention Alexis de Tocqueville, who journeyed to America to compare the American Constitution with the new French Republic created by the French Revolution. While the French Constitution espouses liberty, equality and fraternity, America substitutes “paternity” for “fraternity”.  This paternity, Santorum says, is the paternity of God the Creator. Such paternity means that rights are given by God, as the Declaration says, and they do not come to us through the fraternity of our fellow citizens or our governments.  Indeed, even equality is to be understood as our equal standing with each other to God.

At this point Santorum switched from the philosophical underpinnings of American government to the specific issues of the day.  He says he entered the presidential race for one reason — Obamacare. Obamacare changes the relationship between people and government by giving government control over your health and thus your very life. With government controlling health decisions Americans will no longer be able to say that their rights come from God as the Declaration declares but, to the extent Americans still have rights, these rights will come from the government.  Such rights can be taken away by men as easily as they are conferred by men.

Next Santorum took up the subject of his standings in the polls, and specifically whether he could win the nomination. He explained that in Florida he had higher favorability ratings (60%+), than either Romney or Gingrich, but that since people were convinced he couldn’t win they voted elsewhere.

To finish, Santorum returned to his opening themes.  He is running on a slogan that is also an equation: Faith + Family = Freedom. He accepted the moniker “social conservative” and explained that he will gladly wear that moniker because it accurately describes him — even though many in the GOP say that what is needed is an economic conservative rather than a social conservative. But Santorum went on to argue that it is social conservatism that ultimately leads to economic prosperity. He reminded the audience that the word “economy” comes from the Greek meaning “household management.” Thus we need to have strong families (households) at our core to have a prosperous economy. When we have weak families we suffer. The poverty rate in single parent families is 40%. As marriage rates decline we can expect poverty to increase. Here he receives a standing ovation.

At this point Santorum introduces Dr. James Dobson as one of his endorsers.  Dr. Dobson states that as in 1980 “we’re not gonna vote for someone who people say can ‘win’, we’re gonna vote for someone who can govern.”

Dobson then posed a number of questions to Santorum:  Will you get the government off our backs? Will you get rid of Obama’s executive orders? Santorum replied that he will fire all of Obama’s czars. He will repeal regulations which cost business over $100 million per year.

Santorum finished the event with two personal stories.  When he lost his last Senate election in Pennsylvania he did so while “[standing] up for my principles even when they were not popular. Abandoning your principles is the one thing that is worse than losing. ”

Then Santorum recounted the story of his daughter Bella who was born with a genetic defect called Trisomy 18. Most children with this condition die shortly after childbirth but Bella is alive today at age 3. Santorum explained that Bella’s condition means she cannot walk or talk and never will, that she can do only one thing — love. That, he finished, “is the same relation I have with my Father in Heaven: I can do nothing for Him but love Him, yet He loves me unconditionally.”

Rick Santorum received a loud round of applause. He stayed near the podium to shake hands and take photos with dozens of well-wishers.

Upon reflection, I was struck by the fact that Santorum received only one standing ovation through the entire speech.  To be sure there was nothing in his presentation that was disliked, yet he doesn’t generate adulation the way some other candidates do.  In fact, most candidates package their stump speeches around key words and phrases specifically designed to make the audience swoon: Hope! Change! No New Taxes! 9-9-9! and the like.  Santorum is different from them, and I don’t believe his difference is an inadequacy or a failing.

Thinking of the current four remaining GOP candidates I think we can now apply a single word description to each.

Romney is The Executive. Give him a job like running the Olympics or building big companies and he gets the job done. Unfortunately he is incapable of knowing which job to do.  He’s been on both sides of so many issues (abortion, cap and trade, health care mandate, global warming, gun control, etc. etc. etc.) that he obviously will need some direction as President.

Gingrich is The Visionary. He has wondrous ideas every minute of every day. However, we end up bickering as to which of his ideas are brilliant and which are idiocy.

Ron Paul is The Ideologue. He doggedly sticks to his Free Market economic policy and his Non-Interventionist foreign policy like a Swiss watch sticks to its timing.  Unfortunately he cannot conceive of any flexibility in his ideology even when confronted with practical problems such as killing Bin Laden.

That leaves Rick Santorum.

Santorum is The Servant. He is the Servant of his Country, of his Constitution, of his Family and of his Faith. He was the Servant to the people of Pennsylvania when he voted against a national right-to-work law because he would not approve of a federal law which overturned his state’s law. He’s been criticized for that vote and indeed it went against his own politics, but he would not abandon his role as Servant to the State of Pennsylvania.

People stood up for Santorum only once tonight. He is more soft-spoken than dramatic and people politely listen to him speak as if he were their neighbor next door. He is not a Napoleon by character or temperament. You will never cheer Santorum like a purple-clad Roman conquering hero; you will never faint at his feet. He will never become a despot.

Santorum will never present himself as your provider. He will expect people to pursue happiness and he will see his role as service to that pursuit by securing those natural rights we all deserve as people. In this way he will endeavor to be the Servant to Freedom.

Throughout this process we’ve seen that we live in an age of great egos. We see pundits and journalists and presidents vying with each other for our accolades. Santorum is the exact opposite, a Servant, and that difference may be what the country needs right now.

Rick Santorum

Post Navigation