Friday October 09 , 2015
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The First and Second Amendments

I have been silent far too long on this website about what is going on with our imperial president and his minions in the administration.  At no other time in history have we seen such an assault on the Constitution as we have experienced in the past 4+ years.  This is not news to anyone, but what are the fundamental issues with which we should be concerned?  First and foremost is the all-out attempt to take down the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution.

A friend of mine related a story to me the other day about his conversation with a priest from our diocese.  When my friend asked the priest for his reaction to the Affordable Care Act and its requirements for supporting birth control, sterilization and abortificients, the priest became indignant and told my friend he did not know what he was talking about.  The priest, I think, honestly did not know how terrible the administration had been treating religious institutions, particularly the Catholic Church.  This ignorance seems to be rampant in our society, but to find our learned clergy so uninformed is tragic and heartbreaking.

The administration has been working tirelessly at changing the language of the First Amendment to indicate protection of worship rather than religion.  The left is trying to marginalize the full faith practice of religion by relegating it to just an hour a week.  If one is allowed to practice worship rather than religion, then the state can lay claim to the conscience of the individual for the rest of the week.  The danger of this thinking is often demonstrated in the arguments offered by the administration in its pursuit of the enforcement of the HHS rules concerning reproductive issues in health insurance.  Of course, the logic is wrong because the interpretation of the First Amendment is deeply flawed.

As for the Second Amendment, our president seems bent on advancing a take our guns away approach to curtailing gun violence.  On this point, the president does not have the evidence with him.  His press conference yesterday was filled with lies and half-truths, and not a single reporter called him out on any of his pronouncements. In having read the entirety of his plan, I can find nothing that would have stopped the Sandy Hook mass murder.  The impact of his initiatives should be given some credence in they might have curtailed the murders that took place at Fort Hood at the hands of a deranged Islamo-Nazi.  Of course, cowardice and political correctness allowed this madman to stay in uniform and among our troops. How ever did that happen?

As we go forward, the president needs to remember that NRA members vote, write checks, campaign and do not like people snooping around the gun safes of America.  There are 100 million gun owners in America, and a lot of them are democrats.  More later.



What Shall We Call It?

A good friend of mine has been asking me to come up with a term other than leadership for how John Boehner (R-OH) has been operating as the Speaker of the House.  Unfortunately, leadership comes in many forms and whether we like it or not, our current speaker is exercising leadership, though it is a version of which we would prefer to see less.  Leadership is about getting people to do what they would otherwise not do, and leaders use power to get people to do things.  In the literature, there are five forms of power, so we ought to examine where the Speaker is on our power chart.

The first form, the best form, is that of referent power.  This is the power of leaders to motivate people because the followers want to be like the leader--a reference of what a leader ought to be.  These type leaders are few and far between, particularly in today's political jungle, but they are there.  Imagine that individual who might have charisma but also has the chops to get things done--talks the talks and walks the walk.

Other forms of power include expert power and legitimate power.  Boehner certainly has the latter but my not have the former.  Legitimate power comes from the place one occupies on the organizational chart.  The Speaker is at the apex of the republican conference pyramid.  His position gives him power and many defer to him based on this position.  Expert power may be a bit more allusive for the Speaker.  He has certainly served a long time, but we really have not seen any expertise out of him other than being able to set a legislative agenda.  He has failed time and again to get things moved through the house, so one wonders why others might "follow" him.

The last two forms of power are reward and coercive power.  Now we are getting to the heart of matters.  Clearly, Speaker Boehner uses these powers more than all the rest because these seem to be the only ones he has mastered.   Rather than exercising servant-leader skills, he behaves at times like a petulant child (like anyone else we know?) or like a frustrated and harried parent with recalcitrant teenagers storming around.  Either way, he clearly lacks something in getting people to do what is best for the country.  The only way he seems to be able to move the ball is by punishing those who do not toe the line and by intimidating all others.  This may technically be leadership, but it is not the kind we need in the Republican Party.

Hopefully, someone will pull the Speaker into a quiet room and tell him to lead like a man or to get out of the way so someone else with more skills can take up the banner of conservatism.  What has become clear in this lame duck session is that Boehner is no conservative and his leadership style leaves a lot to be desired.  Suddenly, Newt doesn't look so bad.


Fascinating--And Wrong

I am perplexed by the leadership display from the establishment arm of the republican party.  Perhaps if I would make myself think the way they do, I might understand their behavior better.  Just the same, I am happy I do not have the carry the burden they do with their arrogance and ignorance of the American people.  Today, they are behaving as badly as our opponents on the progressive side.

Leadership takes moral courage--the courage to stick to proven principles and the courage to make hard decisions.  Our current leadership in the republican party seems to be void of any of the courage we would demand of those who might lead the nation.  I suspect they would like all of us conservatives to shut up, send our checks, and leave the inside-the-beltway stuff to them  Sorry, that does not work with most of us.  We are educated as they are, we are certainly smarter than they are and we certainly have more real-world experience, so why do they diss us so badly?  Maybe they won't end up on Fox as much as they did in the past, but they would certainly win friends in the fly-over country.

Speaker Boehner and the rest of the republican house leadership are conducting a purge of conservatives on committees that have fiscal oversight responsibilities.  The Speaker does not want any disturbances in the force so when the recalcitrant back-benchers start to act up, he has to punish them by sending them to their respective rooms.  How in the world are to advance conservative principles when the leadership is doing all it can to sweep conservatives out of positions of influence.

What would happen if the GOP found a true conservative to lead its charge into the next election cycle?  Are there any conservatives out there who would want the job?  I am beginning to question whether or not our best and brightest are even interested in leading.  What are the incentives to do so?  One has to look long and hard at committing so much emotional and intellectual capital to such a venture.

We need to start the process of electing conservatives in all the red states, building a ground game that will allow us to carry national elections when the time comes.  The dems don't seem to have a problem with getting their residuals to the polls.  We ought to do what good folks do and borrow the good practices and then beat them at their own game.  However, we are not likely to get that done with the republican establishment comprised the way it is now.  Move over, we are coming through.



It's Still the Constitution

One of the many good arguments being offered for republicans to fight on in the fiscal cliff battle is that the Constitution provides cover for all the actions that need to be taken.  Why is it we do not have congressional leaders that are advancing this argument?  Also, why are we not talking about spending?  We have let the progressives define the issue based on revenues when revenues are clearly enough for a good government to govern well.  How is it we can figure this out in the hinterlands, but the political elites can't seem to get the common sense approach to running things?

Over the next four weeks, we will see a lot of dancing around the candle by the politcos while a deal is sure to be agreed upon behind closed doors.  The party leaders will rush to come to grips with issues and will most likely do as they always do--make bad decisions that have incredibly bad consequences.  We need new leadership in the republican party and we, the people need to elect people who will invoke the checks and balances clearly outlined in the base law of the land.

We have a chance in 2014 to wrest the senate out of the hands of the progressives.  We should move heaven and earth to get conservatives elected in as many of the races as possible.  Find good candidates now so we can start the process of building the networks necessary to turn out overwhelming numbers on election day.  Keep the faith.


Let's Get Over It

The election is over and we need to get past the rumors and mythology that surrounded this past election.  We got our butts handed to us and we need to acknowledge that.  The Romney campaign was using a faulty ground game model and the republican establishment convinced far too many of us that they had all this under control.  We got beat because we did not have a strong enough candidate at the top of the ticket, did not have a strong enough message, did not have any way for 50% of the eligible voters to make a good decision about for whom they should vote.  It's our fault, and we need to step up and take the medicine.

We now have the opportunity to go after the message and the messengers.  We need to find fearless individuals who are willing to step up and step out in front.  They are out there, but we need to make sure we find those who can lead.  I am not impressed one bit with what is already starting to be a crowded field of republicans starting to sniff the 2016 nomination.  Prove you are a conservative who is fearless, articulate, positive, aggressive and more interested in doing what is best for the country than for oneself, and I might--just might--get behind you.  Otherwise, just keep on flying over Iowa.  No need to stop.

Educating the masses is really at the heart of what has to be done.  We need to address every level of education, every race, every class and every person of faith.  We need to segment our marketspace and deliver an appropriate message to each segment in a way that is acceptable and understandable for those who are willing to learn.  Sometimes this is going to take a lot of courage and some strong missionary work.  More on this later.  I will also try to write here more often, as I think we need to open then keep the dialogue going.


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