Extending the Patriot Act

Today, members of the House of Representatives got a chance to vote on whether or not to extend some of the most onerous provisions of the Patriot Act.  Yesterday, I called my Representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), to ask how he was planning to vote on this issue.  His Washington office did not have an answer at that time and so I encouraged him to vote no.  As Benjamin Franklin once said (and I have quoted several times), “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” –Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin.  This so-called “Patriot Act” is the modern manifestation of this struggle.  In our great desire for security, would we give up our freedoms and the rule of law, that which separates us from the despotic nations and peoples who attacked us on September 11th?  Unfortunately, we failed that great test back in 2001 when the Patriot Act originally passed and then again in 2005/2006 when many of the provisions were extended the first time.

As the dust settled today, the final vote in the House was 277 in favor, 148 opposed, and 9 nonvoting.  Given that the bill required a 2/3rds majority to pass, it has been defeated…at least for now.  I was disappointed to see that a vast majority of Republicans, including Bob Goodlatte, voted in favor of this bill.  In fact, only two of Virginia’s eleven Representatives voted against the bill:  Bobby Scott (VA-3) and Jim Moran (VA-8).  I’m starting to wonder if the Tea Party’s call for limited and constitutional government has fallen on deaf ears.  Will most of the newly elected Representatives and Senators support big government business as usual?

Prior to the vote, several members spoke out in opposition to renewal.  I submit to you the words of Republican Rep. Ron Paul (TX-14) and Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10).

Update: Senator Rand Paul (KY) now shares his opinion this topic.

Lastly, I’d like to share one more video.  Several years ago, Judge Napolitano offered his thoughts on the Patriot Act.  In short, his opinion is that it was passed in Congress in too great of haste and erodes our Constitution and our liberty.  Watch and see if you agree.

Senator Paul’s First Speech

Today, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky gave his first speech on the Senate floor.  In it, he recalls the actions and attitudes of two Kentuckians, The Great Compromiser Henry Clay, and his less well-known cousin, Cassius Clay.  Paul encourages the listener to ponder the following thought; is it better to compromise and achieve greater success or is it better to stand firm to your principles?

Again as this speech highlights, Senator Paul stands for so many important principles like: liberty, fiscal responsibility and Constitutional restraint.  As I’ve said multiple times, I believe that in order to achieve any real reform in this nation, we must elect more leaders like Senator Paul and his father.  Compromise is sometimes needed, but we must never compromise our cherished ideals for the sake of petty political power and selfishness.

There’s Something About Garrett

Used with permission from the office of Rep. Garrett

Despite being a New York Giants fan, I have often jokingly stated that there is very little to like about New Jersey, especially when it comes to New Jersey politicians.  Given the traditionally moderate to exceedingly liberal nature of the state, coupled with regular cries of corruption, it is not difficult to understand why conservatives would frown upon New Jersey politics.  As an infrequent visitor to the state, I’m appalled by the vast number of toll roads and the fact that one is forced to pay someone else to fill up your gas tank.  Although fairly recently elected Governor Chris Christie has captured the hearts and hopes of a few conservatives I know, might I suggest you take a closer look at another New Jersey leader?  Just north and west of East Rutherford (where the Giants play), you will find New Jersey’s fifth congressional district, home to Representative Scott Garrett.

To be fair, I stumbled upon Representative Garrett completely by accident.  While unsuccessfully searching for a congressional staffer several years ago, I came across Mr. Garrett.  Let me tell you that the more I read about Mr. Garrett, the more I liked him.  As an example, let me summarize a few of his recent interest group ratings as listed on Project Vote Smart: 0% from Planned Parenthood, 100% from National Right to Life, 0% from Americans for the Arts Action Fund, 93% from the American Taxpayers Union, 92% from Citizens Against Government Waste, 95% from Freedom Works, 100% from the American Conservative Union, 91% from Gun Owners of America…and the list goes on.  One can clearly tell from these ratings that on a number of key issues Rep. Garrett and I agree. As Wikipedia puts it, “Garrett is by far the most conservative member of the New Jersey delegation, and one of the most conservative members ever to represent the state in Congress.”

But that’s not all.  In yesterday’s Washington Times, we learn that Representative Garrett just sponsored a bill that would require each piece of congressional legislation to cite where in the Constitution such action is authorized.  For an ardent 10th Amendment supporter like myself, I eagerly welcome such legislation.  Only by obeying the restrictions set forth in Constitution will we ever hope to restrain the increasingly grotesque power expansion in Washington.  Assuming that the Republican leadership takes the words of their A Pledge to America seriously, they should stand behind Garrett’s efforts.  After all, the pledge states, “We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”  I would recommend that you write your Representative to encourage him or her to support this effort.

Although he did not become the next Speaker of the House as I suggested in my article from November 3, 2010, I strongly believe that Representative Garrett is a man who deserves support and recognition, especially from like-minded activists.  Take a look and I’m sure that you will agree.  Once you do, “like” him on Facebook so you can keep tabs on his efforts.  As a final thought, given that only one of my Facebook friends currently likes Rep. Scott Garrett, I do have to wonder if the rest of my friends have taken the time to discover this New Jersey conservative.  Don’t you think you should?

Our Next Speaker

A lot of people have been speculating as to who will be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives prior to yesterday’s election.  Now that the Republicans have taken control of the House, most eyes have turned to House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.  Although his positions are quite good on a number of issues such as abortion and gun rights, I believe there are better choices out there.

We need a Speaker who will ardently and consistently stand up against big government and support fiscal conservatism.  Toward that end, might I suggest that we start by examining the following candidates:  Rep. Paul Broun (GA), Rep. Randy Forbes (VA), Rep. Ed Royce (CA), Rep. Michael Burgess (TX), Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ), Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA), Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA), Rep. Ron Paul (TX), Rep John Duncan Jr. (TN), Rep Louie Gohmert (TX), Rep. Ted Poe (TX), Rep. Jeff Flake (AZ), Rep. Jack Kingston (GA), or Rep. Tom Price (GA).  Now you may be asking, what do all these House of Representatives members have in common?  Each of them steadfastly voted against every bailout proposal in 2008 and 2009.  Although there were seventeen folks in all who were originally on this list, several have retired or moved on to other offices.  Even though the House has the option to elect a Speaker outside their ranks, I don’t consider such a move likely, as it has never happened up to this point.

Now, unfortunately some of these choices I don’t really know.  It is quite possible that they hold very objectionable voting records in regard to other issues.  Nevertheless, I believe that the Republican Party should set some sort of principled standard as to who the next Speaker will be.  Standing firm against the bailouts sounds like an excellent way to begin to weed out potential choices.

The American people have once again given the Republicans a chance to at least share in the leadership of our national government.  Electing a proven and principled Speaker to the House of Representatives will help make sure they don’t screw up this opportunity by 2012.   Otherwise prepare yourself for another term of President Obama.

Letters from Nancy

This past week or so, my inbox box has been abuzz with emails from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  The interesting thing is that the Democrats have been consistently writing that they will maintain their majority after the November election.  As Pelosi writes, “We will retain our Democratic Majority in the House because I have you in this fight”.  Now obviously she doesn’t have my backing, and I would expect the Democrats to suffer a strong backlash in these midterm elections in protest of Obamacare, a continually faltering and protracted conflict far beyond our borders, and the general weakness of the economy and the job market.

The historical trend is that the party in the White House will lose seats in both houses of Congress in midterm elections.  For example, when did the Democrats most recently gain control of Congress?  2006, during the middle of Bush’s second term.  After a forty-year drought, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives during Clinton’s first mid term in 1994.  Although there are exceptions, there have only been three times in the last one hundred years that have bucked this trend.  In the current cycle, according to Rasmussen Reports, Republicans have enjoyed a small, but uninterrupted, advantage on a generic ballot since June 28 of last year.   In addition, they report that the number of folks who identify themselves as Democrats have fallen to record lows.

Republicans will make gains in next months election, of that I am certain.  However, I am not unwilling to make the claim that this upcoming election will be a “slam dunk” for the Republican Party, nor do I think it necessarily should be.  Voters are in general fed up with politics and usual and until and unless one party (the Republicans) is consistently willing to stand for the Constitution and a limited government, the government will continually vacillate between the two parties, casting each aside in turn as they hope for something better.  We must reject politicians like Pelosi who claim first priority over our income, our general welfare, and even our children.  I don’t know who will be speaker after the November election, but given her very low popularity, 59% negative according to a yesterday’s Rasmussen Reports, I would expect that both Nancy’s reign and her letters are soon coming to an end.

A Message from Rep. Forbes

So as I’m skimming through my inbox, I come across my now fairly regular email from Congressman Forbes.  As I stated in a previous post, I’ve appreciated the Representative’s emails and I expected today’s to be of interest.  After reading the message, what caught my eye was not the body, but the introduction.  Normally, most emails of this nature are sent out in bulk to constituents and interested parties.  However, this one came with a personalized message reading:  “I thought you’d be interested in reading this resolution that I am supporting.  Congressman Goodlatte plans to introduce the legislation this week.

– Randy”

Given that I live in the 6th district, the mention of Bob Goodlatte would be no mere coincidence.  Clearly someone in Rep. Forbes’ office knows a bit about me and took the time to add this personalized greeting.  I must say that it’s nice to be noticed, and I am very humbled to be singled out in this way.  These days, most Washington politicians are far too busy, too disinterested, or too overwhelmed to get to know the people in their district, let alone folks outside.  I’d like to think that this blog would make an impact, that it will be noticed.  That gesture raises my hopes that people are listening and that anyone, including myself, can make a difference.  So thank you very much Congressman Forbes and your staff.  You made my day.

By now you are asking, “what does the resolution say already!?”  It is as follows:


Expressing the sense of Congress that House Democrats should join House Republicans in a total ban on earmarks for one year, that total discretionary spending should be reduced by the amount saved by earmark moratoriums and that a bipartisan, bicameral committee should be created to review and overhaul the budgetary, spending and earmark processes.

WHEREAS families all across our nation must make tough decisions each day about what they can and cannot afford;

WHEREAS government officials should be required to exercise an even higher standard when spending taxpayers’ hard-earned income;

WHEREAS Thomas Jefferson once wrote: “To preserve [the] independence [of the people,] we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude;

WHEREAS our national debt is at its highest rate ever;

WHEREAS the federal budget deficit is projected to exceed $1 trillion for the next two fiscal years and hover around $800 billion annually for the foreseeable future;

WHEREAS current levels of spending are simply unsustainable;

WHEREAS it is time for Congress to wake up and see that the federal deficits and the national debt have reached crisis status;

WHEREAS Congress must control spending, paving the way for a return to surpluses and ultimately paying down the national debt, rather than allow big spenders to lead us further down the road of chronic deficits and in doing so leave our children and grandchildren saddled with debt that is not their own;

WHEREAS House Republicans have adopted a one year total moratorium on all Congressional earmarks: Now therefore be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—

(1)    The entire membership of the House should join House Republicans in a total ban on earmarks for one year;

(2)    Discretionary spending should be reduced in the FY 2011 Budget by the total amount that was spent on requests for earmarks in FY 2010;

(3)    In the event that spending in the FY 2011 Budget is not so reduced by the amount spent for earmarks in FY 2010, an amendment to the budget resolution to effectuate this change must be made in order; and

(4)    A complete review and overhaul of the Congressional budgetary, spending and earmark processes should be commenced by creating a bi-partisan, bicameral committee to study the issue and report back with recommendations.

With all the hoopla over the hot button topic of socialized medicine, we sometimes forget that there are hardworking men and women fighting for our principles in Washington.  Limiting earmarks would be an important step to reign in federal spending and reduce the growth of our crippling debt.  We must stop the cycle of burdening future generations with the frivolities of today.  Although I’d like to see the resolution expanded beyond a one-year time frame, it is a bold move in the quest for financial liberty.  And if Congressman Goodlatte and Congressman Forbes will support this resolution, I am proud to stand along side them the best that I can.

To Representative Forbes, his staff, and all lovers of liberty, I hope that you have found my posts worthwhile and will continue to visit often.  Remember, comments (as long as they are civil) are always welcome.

Cap and Trade

After a several day hiatus, I discovered I had a number of emails about the whole Cap and Trade issue. I’d like to share two briefly with you.

The first is from the Harrisonburg City Republican committee. It lists the phone numbers of the eight House Republicans who voted for Cap and Trade. They are:
* Bono Mack (CA) 202-225-5330
* Castle (DE) 202-225-4165
* Kirk (IL) 202-225-4835
* Lance (NJ) 202-225-5361
* Lobiondo (NJ) 202-225-6572
* McHugh (NY) 202-225-4611
* Reichart (WA) 202-225-7761
* Chris Smith (NJ) 202-225-3765
The email then goes on to say, “These guys need to be replaced by Real Republicans. We can’t afford this much government. And we certainly can’t afford the idea that government has to panic over every chicken little that comes down the street. A crisis may be a terrible thing to waste but we can’t afford all the waste that results.” I’m both surprised by the words of the local party, but also pleased. Some go along to get along types might say that we shouldn’t fight amongst ourselves, but if we don’t hold the big government Republicans accountable, then for what does the Republican Party stand? We must reassert our principles and cast aside politicians who don’t really share our values.

Now the second email was from one of Rep. Goodlatte’s staff members. It included a link to Bob Goodlatte’s recent speech concerning the Cap and Trade issue, which I’m happy to share with you here:

Thank you Bob Goodlatte for taking a stand against the further regulation and expansion of the federal government. I truly hope that enough Senators heed your words.

With the recent death of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, both the media and the general public seem to be ignoring this important issue. Nevertheless, I once again urge you to contact your Senators to make sure that Cap and Trade doesn’t become the law of the land.

Goodlatte On Board

Several days ago, I sent a message to the staff of my Representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) regarding HR 1207, also known as the Federal Reserve Transparency Act. Specifically, I wanted to know the Congressman’s opinion on the legislation, and, if he agreed with such legislation, if he would sign on as a co-sponsor.  This resolution (text found here) sponsored by Ron Paul (TX-14) seeks to curtail the vast power of the Federal Reserve by requiring an audit of the system prior to 2011.  I believe that it is an important step to restoring fiscal integrity and making the government and independent agencies accountable to the people.

This evening, while reading an updated list of co-sponsors to the resolution (now over 100 fellow members of the House of Representatives), I was delighted to see that Representative Goodlatte’s name along side Rep. Broun (GA-10) and Rep. Garrett (NJ-5).  Thank you Rep. Wittman (VA-1) too!  What about the rest of the Virginia delegation?  I’m talking about you, Glenn Nye, Bobby Scott, Randy Forbes, Tom Perriello, Eric Cantor, Jim Moran, Rick Boucher, Frank Wolf, and Gerry Connolly.  It’s time for you to make a stand for freedom, limited government, and the Constitution…or are all those things outdated?  Anyway, maybe, just maybe the government will start to shift in the right direction.  Here’s hoping.