The Liberty Professor Endorses Chris McDaniel for US Senate

McDanielPerhaps there is nothing more wonderful, more perplexing, or more troublesome than the challenge of discovering where we belong in life. As a Christian and theologian, I believe that life is God’s greatest gift to each of us. It is a gift that must be unwrapped daily, little by little. It can forever surprise and delight us.

The poet e. e. cummings was a unique person. To be oneself, he argued, is the toughest challenge of all. “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

Yet discovering yourself is the first challenge.

I have come to realize that I am simply not called to the political arena. God has opened new possibilities for the fulfillment of my life’s genuine vocation. We academic types are used to argumentation. In some ways we even thrive on it. Others are not used to it and find it not only baffling, but confrontational as well. I do not wish my political commitments to be a barrier to those to whom I may be called to minister.

My political commitments have certainly not changed. But I will no longer be a public spokesman for those commitments. This will be the final post for The Liberty Professor.

These are unsettling times for constitutionalists. We are under fire from both sides of the political aisle. We are labelled with the cruelest of names and accused of the most vile of attitudes–for no other reason than the fact that we have asked important questions. Has government become too unwieldy? Is it too powerful? Are both major parties responsible for growing the size and scope of government for the sake of their respective agendas?

I believe the proper response to each of these questions is assuredly “yes.”

As we approach the 2014 midterm elections, Mississippi has an opportunity to make history. In my opinion, Sen. Thad Cochran has not done enough to support the Constitution. He is a big-government Republican whose time in DC should come to an end. With this post I thank him publicly for his service and I humbly ask him to return home as a private citizen.

In addition, I happily and vigorously endorse Chris McDaniel, whom I believe will bring a new voice to Washington politics on behalf of the good people of Mississippi. I have met Chris. I have heard him speak. I believe he is a genuine constitutionalist.

It goes without saying that I don’t always agree with Chris McDaniel. No one with a brain should agree with any politician all the time. There are things I would say differently than McDaniel. There are ways I would emphasize the message differently. But one thing is absolutely certain to me: Chris McDaniel is a person of profound integrity and soul-searching honesty.

I believe Chris McDaniel will join political forces with other elected officials in DC who are “fighting the good fight” to bring back to the national debate a full appreciation of the power of limited government as laid out in our Constitution. For that reason I support him without reservation.

Humbly, I ask you to give Chris your consideration. Think of the future and the burden being placed upon your children and your grandchildren. Think of the unbridled power and expense being accumulated in the halls of the federal government. Then take note of the growing clamor of false accusations and mud being slung toward McDaniel and his campaign. It speaks louder than words. It tells you that some powerful people are very afraid of the McDaniel campaign message.

Ideas are dangerous. McDaniel has a good idea: let’s be faithful to the Constitution.

Please mark your calendar. The Republican primary is set for June 3rd. I urge you to cast your vote for Chris McDaniel, and to vote for him a second time in the general election on November 4th. I have already contacted my neighbors and asked them to consider Chris. I hope you will do likewise.

It is a great honor to offer this endorsement, and it serves as a fitting way to bring this blog to a close.  May God bless America, and may God preserve the Constitution.

Obama’s Audacity: Using the Shutdown to Punish Some, Reward Others

immigration_rally_national_mall_APBarack Obama is nothing if not audacious. The title of his now-famous book seems to confirm it–The Audacity of Hope. His style of political campaigning confirms it, and although he did his best to hide the most extreme portions of his agenda, hints of it emerged during his original presidential campaign. He and Michelle want to leave a vastly different America in their wake when they leave the White House. “We’re going to have to move into a new place as a nation,” Michelle Obama promised. “We’re going to have to change our history, our traditions.”

When your agenda is that audacious, you have to destroy anyone who gets in the way. What better way is there for an community organizer to do that than to agitate all those who agree with him so that his political opponents are demonized? Let’s look at how community organizers do their work. Three methods are particularly effective: they inform their constituents of the government assistance to which they are entitled, they get them fired up and energetic about securing those entitlements while clamoring for more, and then they scapegoat any politician or political group that stands in their way.

This is exactly what Barack Obama and the Democrat party are doing at this moment with the government shutdown. Of course, “shutdown” is too strong a word. About 17% of the government has been turned off, and in some cases even furloughed workers are having to put in extra time to put up signs and ticket those brave citizens who dare trespass upon federal lands during a shutdown. It’s a selective shutdown.

The Obama administration is engaged in a calculated effort to punish some while rewarding others. As long as the political payoff is estimated to help the Democrat cause, it doesn’t matter who is harmed or what victims are made to suffer. Exemptions are gladly given, however, to those groups that support the cause.

Families of our military who have died in war since the shutdown began have been denied the death and burial benefits promised them. Chaplains have been threated with punitive action if they offer religious services to their congregations. Cancer trials for children have been halted. Parks, turnarounds, and scenic vistas–some of them nothing more than a patch of grass or concrete–have unnecessarily been blocked in order to make a point. In one case, a jogger was ticketed for being on federal land while it was declared to be closed. Private businesses that receive no federal funds are forced to close needlessly, simply because they are on federally-controlled land.

Is the average citizen so dangerous that he or she cannot even be present on federal property without supervision? Supposedly, the federal government maintains these lands on our behalf. Then why do we cower in fear when we imagine taking a stroll on “our” property?

Disgusted by the charade, a park ranger in DC explained the end game: “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.”

Yet it is not so for all. Just two days ago a massive immigration rally was held on the National Mall in Washington, DC. That mall is officially closed due to the shutdown. The reason is simple enough. The rally was sponsored by the AFL-CIO and SEIU, two important unions serving as intimate allies to the Obama agenda.

To put it bluntly, while blaming the Republicans for the shutdown, the Democrats are refusing to budge on the issue of funding Obamacare. As long as they believe they have the upper hand they will not blink. They will cause inconvenience and even suffering–perhaps to the point of death from cancer–just to stand their ideological ground.

Harry Reid has exposed this nasty agenda on at least two occasions. He recently refused to consider a continuing resolution to fund NIH cancer trials for kids, as covered in my blog post from earlier this week. In addition, when publicly harassed by the mayor of Washington, DC for refusing to vote for funds needed by that city, Reid was inadvertently caught by cameras as telling him to quiet down. “I’m on your side,” he warned Mayor Vincent Gray, “don’t screw it up.”

As a political gamble this strategy may work. But there are hints that it may backfire. Obama’s approval rating is down to 37%, the lowest yet of his presidency. His pals in the media won’t talk much about it–and when they do, they’ll hide it someplace innocuous. A recent article from the Associated Press was headed by the announcement that the GOP is getting the blame for the shutdown, while hiding Obama’s low approval rating in the body of the article. There’s not much objectivity to be found there, as you can see. For an interesting Canadian analysis, click HERE.

This is the same government that kills American citizens overseas without benefit of arrest and trial. It is the same government that illegally passes personal data from IRS to White House. It’s the same government that places a harmful tax on medical equipment, refuses to enforce immigration law, and told us that Obamacare penalties aren’t a tax–until it argued before the Supreme Court and said that they are a tax. This audacious government will say almost anything, blame almost anyone, and give breaks and benefits to its friends and cronies. While blaming capitalism for our nation’s economic woes it engages in the worst form of crony capitalism and favoritism. We who recognize it are labeled as angry extremists.

It’s time to be angry. It’s past time. Audacity is a two-way street.

The Startling Hypocrisy of Sen. Harry Reid

download

Oh! what a tangled web we weave 
When first we practice to deceive! 

Those immortal words were penned by Sir Walter Scott, the 19th-century Scottish poet and playwright.  As I watched Harry Reid stammer and stutter last night on the evening news, they came to my mind.  It seems that the tangled web of Harry’s political deceit enveloped him tightly as he struggled to deny the truth that slapped him aside his senatorial head.

Let’s set the scene.  As all the nation must know by now, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is locked in a bitter debate with the Democrat-controlled Senate. Constitutionally speaking, the funding of federal spending is a prerogative of the House. Republicans are keen to defund the supposedly “Affordable” Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.  (Low-information voters may not realize it, but the ACA and Obamacare are the same thing.)  Democrats in the Senate are refusing to consider any bill sent to them from the House that doesn’t fund the new healthcare law.  Eager to avoid the appearance of being ogres and haters of the needy, Republicans are sending over bite-sized pieces of legislation to fund particular portions of the federal government–while still holding the line on their refusal to pay for Obamacare.

Got it?  Both sides are playing the political game known as “Washington Song and Dance.” The nation is split right down the middle on this issue.  Don’t let either side fool you otherwise.  What should be done when a nation is divided and when its federal representatives are also divided?  The Constitution actually provides for that.  We are seeing in in the halls of Congress at this very moment.

The stalemate in DC is a good thing.  It’s a product of constitutional checks and balances.  A poorly-designed law was rushed through Congress and is now being implemented.  It wasn’t studied adequately or even read by many of those who voted for it with enthusiasm.  Citizens are torn over its provisions and their disgust is rising as the administration of Pres. Barack Obama gives exemptions to big labor as well as the staffers of big government.

The Democrats and their supporters in the “mainstream” media are painting the Republicans and the Tea Party as extremists and anarchists.  They complain about the refusal to compromise.  Yet all the while, there is no offer of compromise from the Democrats.  It became painfully obvious yesterday how foul a game is being played by Harry Reid and Senate Democrats under his command.

Folks, I have no pretensions here.  I’m not a Republican or a Democrat.  And I’m not happy with either of the major parties in DC.  That’s why I’ve returned to the Libertarian party.  But I’m entirely disgruntled by the fact that Harry Reid is acting so contemptuous and morally outraged and that he’s pointing a finger at the Republicans as if he himself is not to blame.  I’m tired of being told that Democrats care more about the poor and the elderly and that they are “the party of the people.”  I’m also tired of hearing so many of my fellow Christians wrongly think that the Democrat party is more charitable than the Republican party.  Certainly that is the national political mythology.  Many have bought into it with abandon–especially among the media.

Here’s the bottom line:  it’s not true.  Harry Reid proved it yesterday.  Record the date:  Wednesday, October 2, 2013.  He was being questioned by a reporter from CNN (not Fox–CNN).  Her name is Dana Bash and she had an urgent question for Sen. Reid concerning funding for the National Institutes of Health.  She reported to the sidestepping senator that children with cancer were being turned away from NIH clinical trials due to the federal shutdown.  Of course, Reid is eager to blame the nasty Republicans in the House of Representatives for this unfortunate reality.

Not so fast, Harry.  Dana Bash decided not to let him off the hook.  She made him squirm. Oh, goodness, how she made him squirm.  She informed the senator that the House was sending to the Senate a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the NIH cancer trials, and that this CR was coming with absolutely no strings attached.  After all, Democrats love children and the elderly.  They are not as cruel and as politically-minded as Republicans. Democrats are reasonable.  They are the party of the people.  They always put children first.  So goes the mythology.

So what did the fine senator say?  Simple enough.  He showed us his true political colors. He doesn’t care about children with cancer.  He cares about power.  He cares about winning.  The reporter pressed him and challenged him.  “If you can help one child with cancer,” she asked, “why wouldn’t you do it?”

Harry’s answer speaks for itself:  “Why would we want to do that?”

Over at the Atlantic Wire they are taking up for Sen. Reid with a bold headline:  “Come on, No.  Harry Reid Doesn’t Hate Kids with Cancer.”  If you want both sides of this debate, I encourage you to read the article.  Reid’s comments are placed in their fuller context.  I’m nothing if not fair.  Nonetheless, let’s try to keep our focus.  The question at hand has nothing to do with whether or not Harry Reid hates children with cancer.  The question is whether he will allow those children to die in order to gain political capital.  Perhaps he and the rest of the Senate leadership qualify as Obamacare’s first death panel.

Both sides are playing political games.  Neither side has clean hands, but one side is playing particularly dirty.  For my money, it’s the Democrats.  Why is their game so much worse?  Because it’s not just politics as usual.  It’s nasty politics pretending to be objective morality.  It’s akin to the divine right of kings claimed by tyrants throughout all of history. It disgusts me.  It should disgust you, too.

GOP Dinosaurs

lindsey-graham-john-mccainConstitutionalists around the nation were thrilled to see the recent filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). He wanted an answer from representatives of the current presidential administration regarding their use of drones against US citizens. He couldn’t get that answer, so he took the bold step of staying at the Senate roster, on his feet, for hours. In the end his action probably assisted in putting some pressure on Eric Holder, head of the Justice Department. In direct questioning from Ted Cruz (R-TX), Holder admitted that “we absolutely do not have authority to kill Americans on US soil.”

It wasn’t much of a victory. Representatives of the Obama administration–and even the president himself–have made it clear that they’ll say just about anything necessary to advance their agenda. For them, reality isn’t “out there,” it’s in the mind of President Obama. It’s whatever he and his political allies say it is. He smiles. He speaks. He meets with Republicans. He talks the great talk of a statesman willing to compromise. All of that means nothing in terms of genuine dialogue. He will not compromise. He only speaks the language of compromise–he never walks the walk. Watch him carefully. He always finds a way to avoid compromise while preserving the illusion of compromise.

Add to this the fact that too many in the “mainstream” media are Obama’s willing accomplices and the ridiculous, shrill mantra that “to criticize Obama is to be a racist,” and you have a recipe for continued escalation of the war on constitutional liberties occurring every day in Washington, DC.

The greatest slap of all, of course, is the way that Old-Guard Republicans continue to play the Democrat game. Like poor Charlie Brown who forever falls for Lucy’s promises not to jerk the football away, they come to the table as if their political opponents really intend to bargain in good faith. They don’t. They come for absolute victory. They use scorched-earth tactics, and their intention is to walk away seeming to be the reasonable ones while Republicans are left looking like a bunch of greedy white men who hate women, minorities, immigrants, the poor and the elderly. Over and over they fall for this ploy.

This fact was confirmed this week by former Democrat pollster Pat Caddell, a political contributor to the Fox Network. Speaking as part of a panel at CPAC 2013 (the Conservative Political Action Committee), he showed why Democrats are so successful. It’s because they come to the table to win, not to compromise. “In my party we play to win. We play for life and death. You people play for a different kind of agenda ….”

Here’s a perfect example. While Rand Paul stood on his feet during his filibuster for freedom, establishment GOP senators were dining with President Obama. They included Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The event was hailed as an “outreach dinner,” arranged and personally paid for by President Barack Obama. Reportedly, GOP invitees were hand-picked by Obama and Graham. (How interesting it is that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz weren’t in the group.)

Hailed as a gesture of respect on the part of a generous and reasonable president, the event was nothing more than a gimmick. Obama will not compromise. He wants $600 billion in new taxes and he intends to get it. Taking the GOP dinosaurs to dinner was his way of covering his determination with the smoke of his seeming generosity and fake stance of political cooperation.

By referring to Graham and McCain as “dinosaurs,” I am not alluding to their age. I’m not an age bigot. Nor am I a racial bigot or a sexist bigot. But I am an unabashed bigot for the cause of freedom. I’m a partisan for liberty–not only mine, but that of every citizen in the nation. As Barry Goldwater once said, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

Senators McCain and Graham wrongly believe they are dealing with up-front Democrats as they may have done in the past. But the past is the past. The Democrat party of today is more extreme than it has ever been in its political liberality. It is a steamroller headed toward the Republican party and toward any other political entity that may stand in its way. This includes the Constitution. McCain and Graham, and all those of their camp, are political dinosaurs because they don’t recognize that. They sail in the mystifying fog of Washington make-believe, wrongly thinking that what they see among Democrats is real. Nothing could be further from the truth. What they perceive on the American political stage is crafted for their consumption and for the consumption of busy citizens who don’t have time to look deeper.

It’s bad enough that Charlie Brown allows Lucy to fool him every time. At least he never criticized the rest of the cartoon kids for refusing to fall for the trick. The same cannot be said for Graham and McCain. Each of them stood on the Senate floor to denounce the Rand Paul filibuster. Barack Obama certainly got his money’s worth for the dinosaur dinner.

Constitutionalists can only pray that Rand Paul has sparked a new fervor in the GOP. For my money, the only Republican worth his or her salt is a liberty-minded Republican. Obama and the Democrats are driving the steamroller; somebody needs to be constructing a blockade big enough to slow its momentum. That somebody isn’t John McCain, nor is it Lindsey Graham. Nor will it ever be. Obviously, it wasn’t Mitt Romney either. All three of these Republicans have spent too much time agreeing with Obama.

The presidential election of 2012 demonstrated just how demoralized Republican voters are these days. Millions fewer of them voted in 2012 than in 2008. Even I was fooled by how deep the dissatisfaction runs. Now I rejoice that it runs as deeply as it does. It may yet be the power strong enough to put GOP dinosaurs out to pasture.

White House Attack Dogs? The Left Devours One of Its Own

untitledFor better or worse, Bob Woodward is an icon of American journalism. He and Carl Bernstein did their original investigative reporting for The Washington Post on the scandal that eventually brought down the administration of President Richard Nixon: Watergate. Not only did that reporting influence American politics, it changed our national culture. Hints of scandal are forever being referred to as thisgate or thatgate.

He has been a prolific author.  He and Bernstein co-authored All the President’s Men in 1974, their accounting of the Watergate affair. It became a blockbuster movie a couple of years later, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward and Bernstein. His latest book is The Price of Politics. It’s described by one reviewer as offering a chronicle of secret budget meetings in summer 2011 between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner along with descriptions of tensions between Boehner and other GOP House leaders.

Though Mr. Woodward and I would probably disagree on what it means “to restore the American economy and improve the federal government’s fiscal condition,” I give him credit for writing a book in which he argued that both sides have responsibilities to meet.

It takes great emotional and intellectual energy to write a book such as The Price of Politics. Perhaps for that reason Woodward went on the offensive yesterday on MSNBC’s early commentary show, Morning Joe. There he took aim at President Obama’s decision not to deploy a naval aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, supposedly because the president is concerned about the sequestration budget cuts looming for tomorrow. Some might argue that he got too personal regarding the commander-in-chief, calling his actions a “kind of madness I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Previous to this he published on opinion piece at The Washington Post (where he is still employed as an associate editor), blasting the Obama administration for its handling of the sequestration negotiations. There he rightly pointed out that the sequestration idea came from the White House. “Obama personally approved of the plan” and had it sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Woodward then went on in the article to demonstrate that Obama and his Democrat allies have been unfaithful to their promises to Republicans and have, as he says, been “moving the goals posts” ever since.

These well-targeted criticisms of his fellow Democrats and their imperial leader may give Woodward a taste of the true price of politics; it appears that the most powerful man on earth wants to bring him down. You see, at some point after his morning remarks were aired on MSNBC, Woodward received a warning from someone in the White House who is among the “very senior” staff. Referring to the criticism of Obama, the email warned that he “would regret doing this.” That “very senior” person is reported to be director of the White House Economic Council, Gene Sperling.

Woodward now says he’s “very uncomfortable.” He should be be. The political long knives are out. Like certain species in the animal world who eat their own, the pro-Obama, left-wing press intends to devour this veteran journalist. Their goal is to chew him up and spit him out as a worn-down, bumbling leftover who should have retired long ago.

Over at the Daily Intelligencer they’re asking “What the Hell Happened to Bob Woodward?” He’s just a proponent of “weird philosophy,” they say. The folks at the Huffington Post accuse him of “Gangland”fantasies. Over at Slate they say “he’s going the full wingnut.” A writer at The Week says Woodward is waging a “ridiculous war with the White House.”

There is no room on the left for criticism of the Great Leader.

In addition to published remarks, numerous reporters have blasted Woodward in the Twitter world. “All of these reporters combined might equal one tenth a Bob Woodward in the journalistic pantheon,” according to Breitbart News.

For his part, Woodward knows a few things about how the political game is played in DC. He has not accused Obama of approving of the “threat.” Instead, he condemned the action as a possible misguided tactic or strategy that “somebody’s employed.” Would Obama approve of such tactics?  I’ll let you be the judge of that.

When a Tea Party Conservative Fights Back

untitledHe has only been in the Senate for seven weeks, but the more I watch him, the more I like Ted Cruz (R-TX). This first-term senator is rattling the windows up in Washington. He refused to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling, he didn’t support John Kerry’s nomination to be Secretary of State, he voted against renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and he spoke out forcefully against the nomination of former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Pointing to a potential cause of downfall for any high-profile member of the Defense Department, Cruz inquired of Hagel during his hearings if his bank account included any funds from Saudi Arabia or North Korea. He also brought up at the time the fact that Iran is in favor of Hagel’s nomination.

If you want to know what he’s up to, well, it’s fairly simple. He’s doing what he said he would do when he ran for office. Isn’t that refreshing? As he promised the people of Texas, he’s in DC “to shake up the status quo.” 

In response, a whole bunch of folks on the left aren’t happy with him. Pulling out an old favorite from the Democrat playbook, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) accused him of McCarthyism. “In this country we had a terrible experience with innuendo and inference when Joe McCarthy hung out in the United States Senate, and I just think we have to be more careful.” To her and to Chris Matthews at MSNBC, Cruz is just an extremist mistreating a patriot nominated to high office.

Jonathan Weisman at the New York Times bemoans the fact that Cruz is upsetting the sense of “comity,” or courtesy that normally marks relations between senators.  The Hill is a left-leaning tabloid that covers politics in DC and they have blasted Cruz as an embarrassment and a slanderer.  Ed Schultz, another MSNBC commentator, can’t understand why Republicans are filibustering a defense-secretary nominee “for the first time in a century.”   Cruz is painted by the Democrats as a joke at best, and possibly worse, because he’s supposedly endangering the nation’s security.

Politicians on the left don’t like it when Tea Party conservatives fight back, but the moral outrage on the left rings hollow. Is there any nasty political ploy that hasn’t been used by the Democrats in the last year? The truth is that they aren’t morally offended in the slightest.  They’re just shocked that a conservative Republican has decided to join in the fray and stand up for his values and the values of those who sent him to the Senate. Their words don’t come from their honest feelings–they are a script for public consumption. It works like this: they pretend to be offended, then they paint Cruz as an extremist nut job and a “teabagger,” and then wait for the left-leaning media to pick up the mantra.

Unfortunately, this methodology usually works. Why? Because so-called “moderate” Republicans like John McCain take their side and refuse to support the vocal conservatives trying to take the fight back to the Democrat front line.

Where was the moral outrage on the left when Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) accused Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of being a felon and a tax dodger? There was no evidence whatsoever for the accusation (Reid said he had an “anonymous source”), yet at times it continues to be bandied about by Democrats even to this day. Unlike the Hagel situation, where a senator simply asked a question in a public forum with Hagel sitting before him, Reid made his accusation on the floor of the full Senate without Romney being present to defend himself. Where was Sen. McCaskill’s outrage then? Where was Democrat outrage when Nancy Pelosi said she could have GOP advisor Karl Rove arrested, or that she had dirt on former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich?

And let’s not forget the other hypocrisy being perpetrated on the left. Ted Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant by the name of Rafael Cruz. He should be a darling of the Democrats. But his crime, of course, is that he’s a conservative. Hispanics and immigrants are praised by the left only when they are liberals.

Keep it up, Ted. Take the ideological battle to the front lines. Stay on the offensive. The only way to falsely paint the Tea Party as a bunch of extremists is to allow the radical left to remain in the mainstream. Don’t give up an inch of territory. They aren’t mainstream at all–but those in that camp have seduced enough voters with their rhetoric against “the rich” and their promises of government benefits to retain power. Playing nice isn’t going to get us any closer to reclaiming our constitutional values.

Honestly, I praise Ted Cruz and I am thrilled with his leadership. At this point the GOP has little to lose–but America has much to lose if Republicans lose their spine.

It’s time to play a new game. Let’s call it “conservative hardball.” It should be played fearlessly, and with a bat of extra-large proportions. Suit up, Democrats. Ted Cruz isn’t the bad boy of the Senate. He’s a conservative Texan who’s tired of playing defense. He has switched to the game of offense and he’s lighting a fire in the halls of the political elites.

Oh, here’s another message for the Democrats: you can stop pretending to be outraged. The needle fell off your moral compass years ago.

Barack Obama’s License to Kill

droneLet’s imagine for a moment that the Liberty Professor embarks on an extended study trip to an Islamic nation.  Since my area of expertise includes interreligious dialogue, it’s not an impossibility.  Perhaps a university in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or the peaceful regions of Afghanistan would give me a grant to spend a semester learning about the nation’s Islamic history and culture.  While visiting, it would not be unusual to make friends with some of the locals.  I might even become a regular at a busy coffee shop.

What if, unknown to me, members of a terrorist organization also frequent the shop?  If I visit the shop everyday, such terrorists might often be present at the same time that I am sipping tea.  Who knows?  I might even have regular conversations with them. After all, I’m an extrovert interested in learning about the culture and religious views of those who differ from me. I’ll talk to just about anybody who will talk to me … it’s an honest trait that I inherited from my mother!

Now let’s go one step further. What if my frequent visits and cordial relations with these people come to the attention of an informed, high-level official of the United States who believes that my coffee-shop acquaintances are actively promoting attacks against the United States? That official might wrongly come to the conclusion that I am an ally of these terrorists, even though I don’t even know they are terrorists. Then what happens?

Well, if the official believes it’s better to terminate me than to attempt my capture, Barack Obama and his Justice Department say that this is an acceptable action and that my rights–guaranteed under the United States Constitution–no longer apply. That’s right. This past Tuesday, a Justice Department “white paper” came to light laying out the administration’s case for killing an American overseas as long as the operation is “conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.”

In other words, if the government decides to go to war against an American citizen who is abroad, it can kill that citizen.

According to analysis by Jameel Jaffer at the American Civil Liberties Union, “this sweeping authority is said to exist even if the threat presented isn’t imminent in any ordinary sense of that word, even if the target has never been charged with a crime or informed of the allegations against him, and even if the target is not located anywhere near an actual battlefield.” If the government’s rights to do this are limited, those limitations are so vague in the paper as to be nearly non-existent. “Even more problematic,” says Jaffer of the ACLU, “the paper contends that the limits on the government’s claimed authority are not enforceable in any court.”  In other words, there is no appeal.

This should chill the blood of every American. It essentially means that if a US citizen overseas is deemed a threat, that citizen can be the target of lethal action by his own government without any warning and without due process of law. No judicial review is required, either before or after the killing. In fact, the government claims the right to carry out the entire affair in total secrecy. The preferred method of termination, of course, is a drone strike.

According to Fox News, “the US drone program has been ramped up dramatically” under Barack Obama’s leadership. “It has become one of the most important tools of the administration’s counterterrorism campaign.”  Those who believe that innocent lives can’t be extinguished by this policy should think again. In 2011, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (a US citizen) was killed in a drone strike two weeks after his father was killed in a previous attack.  His father was terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, who had renounced his citizenship. There is no evidence that his son ever did so, but there is strong evidence that he had not even seen his father for two years.

When confronted with questions about the matter a year later, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the boy “should have [had] a far more responsible father.”

What a frightening disregard for the life of a citizen by a spokesman for the highest office in the land! Our Constitution demands that the rights of American citizens cannot be so summarily dismissed. It is nothing short of approval for assassination. One might even imagine that a government official would wait to act against a citizen until that citizen went abroad. Knowing that the law had been construed to allow that citizen’s termination while overseas, and that there is no judicial oversight or appeal, what would prevent such a devious plan from being enacted?

When did we decide that a few powerful people in government should have such authority? Was it not for reasons such as this that the Constitution put constraints on government power? Those who think the US Constitution is out of date are dangerously mistaken. Questions like these demonstrate that it remains as vital and as relevant as it ever was.

I realize how improbable my fears may sound, but let’s be honest. When we allow such sweeping power to government, we cannot prevent the abuse of that power. This has always been the foundational insight for those of us who argue for tight limits on governmental power. You see, once power is taken by the government or given up by the people, it is normally very difficult to take it back. It usually takes a revolution.

It seems these days that our political landscape looks much like a badminton game. The Republicans get control for a while and so-called “conservatives” put in place the big-government policies they prefer, favoring those who assist them to remain in office. Then the birdie bounces into the other side of the court and the Democrats get control for awhile. Their radical “liberals” put in place the big-government policies of their preference, favoring those who keep them in office. Both sides squeeze the life out of the electorate, play voters against one another, and consolidate tremendous–frightening–amounts of power. The problem certainly didn’t start with Barack Obama, but he has used it (and abused it) to his full advantage and to the advantage of the federal government.

Section II.A of the white paper (page 5) specifically brings up the constitutional guarantee of due process for an offending citizen.  It is dismissed entirely:  “The Due Process Clause would not prohibit a lethal operation of the sort contemplated here.”

If you have tended to see this blog as an overreaction, or if you have not yet understood the destruction of our human liberties that is well underway in the United States of America, then read this white paper for yourself. If you are an American citizen, read it carefully. This is the US Justice Department explaining to a court and to the entire world why it can kill you, why it can do it secretly, and why it needs no oversight or court approval to do so. A few highly-placed government officials can reduce you, a person who pays their salaries, to ground meat.

This is the executive branch of our government at work “protecting us” by inventing the right to kill us without due process of trial and legal defense. As US district court Judge Colleen McMahon wrote, the federal government has created “a thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws.” Here is a judge who is awake to the danger falling upon us all.

Of course, some readers will scoff at my concerns. They will argue that I’m an alarmist. After all, the government insists that this move is designed to save American lives and defend the homeland. One must ask where this reasoning will take us next. If the threat is that bad, perhaps a day will soon come when strip searches in airports are not enough.

One must also ask why any level of government in the US needs increasing numbers of drones in our homeland skies. Who are they watching? What privacy is being taken away, and from whom? It is one thing to arrest a lawbreaker. It’s another thing entirely to participate in wholesale spying on citizens just because someone might be breaking the law.

Is a day coming soon when the feds will use attack machinery in our own cities? It appears that such plans are already being developed. As reported by CBS News, Black Hawk helicopters were deployed in Miami on January 25 as part of a military “training exercise.”  Such urban-assault exercises have been taking place in other large cities across the US recently, such as Houston and  St. Louis.

If we combine these preparations for “our safety” with the government’s insistence that it can kill us overseas for the nation’s survival, how long will it be before that same government decides it can kill us at home without due process–if it’s best for the country?

It’s probably a ridiculous question.

On the other hand … power, once it is seized by government, is rarely returned to the people voluntarily.