Raise the issue of religious lobbying and the average American will immediately think of groups like the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, which enjoyed their heyday back in the 1980s and ’90s. But a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals that the number of religious — and anti-religious — groups pushing a plethora of values-based agendas has exploded over the past 40 years.
Those groups include such broadly focused entities as Focus on the Family (FOTF), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, People for the American Way, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the Family Research Council, as well as such special interest organizations as the American Life League, the National Right to Life Committee, Bread for the World, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and the National Organization for Marriage.
According to the Pew study, the number of groups “engaged in religious lobbying or religion-related advocacy in Washington, D.C., has increased roughly fivefold in the past four decades, from fewer than 40 in 1970 to more than 200 today.” The total of 212 organizations analyzed by Pew collectively employ at least 1,000 staff members and spend more than $390 million annually to influence Congress and other Beltway movers and shakers on some 300 policy issues. “Religious advocacy is now a permanent and sizable feature of the Washington scene,” said Allen Hertzke, a political scientist at the University of Oklahoma and lead author of the report.
Democrat lawmakers and a coalition of radical activist groups are pushing for constitutional amendments to reverse the Supreme Court’s landmark “Citizens United” ruling, a decision that recognized that groups of people have a right to free speech even if they are acting together under the banner of a corporation, union, or non-profit organization.
One of the amendments, introduced in the U.S. Senate this month by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and other Democrats, would give Congress the authority to further regulate and limit spending in federal elections. State governments would also be allowed to intrude in state-level political campaigning.
"As we head into another election year, we are about to see unprecedented amounts of money spent on efforts to influence the outcome of our elections,” Udall said in a statement. “With the Supreme Court striking down the sensible regulations Congress has passed, the only way to address the root cause of this problem is to give Congress clear authority to regulate the campaign finance system."
While the amendment does not specify the regulations, it would allow Congress to pass laws limiting contributions to candidates. Independent political spending for or against any campaign — such as through advertisements highlighting a candidate’s voting record — could also be restricted or prohibited if the amendment were to pass.
One of the great virtues of the 11 debates the Republican candidates have undergone is that by now we know much more about them as human beings and as individuals potentially capable of leading the nation in the post-Obama era. The candidates have had so much television and video exposure, that by now they have become the refrigerator magnets of the mind. Also, the public has been able to learn a great deal about the crucial issues we face — and that, perhaps not surprisingly, the only candidate who gets down to constitutional fundamentals is Ron Paul.
During Tuesday's foreign policy debate in Washington, the Texas libertarian Congressman forcefully articulated his pro-freedom views without any hesitation or equivocation, thus presenting a philosophical alternative to the other contenders, who have adopted a neo-conservative Establishment consensus. For example, on the subject of aiding Israel, all of the candidates except Paul agreed that the U.S. government should continue to financially aid Israel. Paul argued that the Israelis were quite capable of taking care of themselves and that our so-called help was undermining their sovereignty. Why should an American President put pressure on the Israelis in the matter of borders, settlements, or constructing houses? To Paul, that’s the high price that Israel pays for America’s help, which in reality diminishes Israel’s ability to make decisions which are in its own best interests. He is against foreign aid to all countries as a matter of principle. We gave all of that aid to Egypt, and the country is now in complete turmoil.
The House of Representatives voted down the latest proposal for a balanced budget amendment on November 18.
Under the terms of the Constitution, a constitutional amendment must be passed by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states in order to become part of the Constitution. The vote in the House was 261 in favor and 165 opposed. That is 23 votes short of the necessary two-thirds.
In a statement issued by his office after the vote was taken, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) scolded the party across the aisle: “It’s unfortunate that Democrats still don’t recognize the urgency of stopping Washington’s job-crushing spending binge."
Others were pleased with the outcome, however.
Gerald McEntee, head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, rejoiced in the rejection, calling it “a win for working families.” He praised Democrats in the House for boldly withstanding the attempt by supporters to pass a bill and “the deep cuts it would have made to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
Jeff Jacoby listed some of the reasons he was thankful on Thanksgiving Day in 2003, including the feast on the table, the company of his family and loved ones, the good fortunes enjoyed during the year, the privilege of being an American. But what about such common things taken for granted, like airline schedules, and movie theaters, and recipes in the paper — and the turkey?
He wrote, “Isn’t there something wondrous — something almost inexplicable — in the way your Thanksgiving weekend is made possible by the skill and labor of vast numbers of total strangers?” The magnificent choreography of the free market, including the poultry farmers, the food distributors, the truckers, the architects who built the hatchery, the technicians who keep it running, the people prepping the turkey — from slaughter to defeathering to inspecting to wrapping to transporting to pricing to displaying — all of this coming together voluntarily by the mystery of the free market. All of this, he said,
had to be precisely timed so that when you showed up to buy a fresh Thanksgiving turkey there would be one – or more likely a few dozen – waiting. The level of coordination that was required to pull it off is mind-boggling.
The Supreme Court approved petitions last week to hear arguments in two cases challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare. One of the issues that will be argued before the justices of the high court is the legality of the currently operating Medicaid scheme.
Admittedly, the question is a very “narrow” one, but it will have far-reaching impact on the future of federalism and on the power of Congress to raise and spend revenue.
In one of the cases filed against President Obama’s pet project, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected a similar claim against provisions of Medicaid. In that suit, filed by the Attorneys General of the states of Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Nebraska, the court held that the expansion of the program made under provisions of ObamaCare was constitutional.
The essence of the states’ argument is that the use of the existing Medicaid arrangement to provide expanded healthcare coverage to citizens of the states is unduly burdensome on the governments of those states. ObamaCare mandates that the states cover 100 percent of the administrative expenses associated with implementing the new Medicaid policies set out in ObamaCare.
The federal government continues its infringement upon private business rights by proposing legislation that mandates that airlines may no longer charge baggage fees to their passengers. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) — who introduced the bill on Tuesday, just days before one of the busiest travel days of the year — described it as a way to spare passengers from having to pay “unfair fees.”
Entitled the Airline Passenger BASICS — Basic Airline Standards to Improve Customer Satisfaction — Landrieu’s proposal permits passengers to check in a single piece of luggage and carry on an additional one free of charge, as long as the two items are within the size limits. It also mandates that airlines provide free access to water and restrooms, imposing a penalty on any airline which fails to comply.
Four months after several reports showed that Asian Muslim gangs in Britain had turned thousands of British girls into sex slaves and prostitutes, the government finally appears ready to act. London’s Daily Mail reported early this week that the country’s minister for children and families wants to crack down and put the sex slavers out of business.
They arrive now with monotonous regularity. Another day, another announcement by a New Hampshire politician of his or her endorsement of Mitt Romney for President. Former Governor John Sununu. Former Governor and U.S. Senator Judd Gregg. Senator Kelly Ayotte. Umpteen members of the New Hampshire House and Senate. Romney's the one. A businessman. A leader. The one who will create what all America wants — jobs, jobs, jobs! Overseas, seas, seas. Yet the Romney record suggests he'll be creating the jobs overseas, seas, seas, and that's what we'll be hearing from the Obama camp from here to reelection.
Oh, how those beltway bandits love to promise jobs, jobs, jobs. That was the promise of the first President Bush. When we went to war with Iraq to liberate Kuwait, it was, said Secretary of State James Baker, for “o-i-l” and “jobs, jobs, jobs.” A year later, GOP challenger Pat Buchanan would ridicule the promise of new jobs, noting that Bush never told us they would be in Shanghai, Tokyo, and other ports of call. Manufacturing jobs. Good pay. Jobs that are gone and aren't coming back any time soon.
By their fruits, you shall know them. Our largest employer used to be General Motors. Now it's Wal-Mart. The siren song of free trade has carried off the best of American jobs and creativity.
Judge Roy Moore, the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was unseated eight years ago for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments display from the state’s Judicial Building, has launched a campaign to regain his position.
During a press conference November 22 on the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building, Moore said the time is right for a solidly conservative justice to lead the state’s judicial arm. “There is no question that I know this job,” he said, “and I believe the people of Alabama know exactly what I stand for.”
In announcing his candidacy, the 64-year-old Moore “pointed to his previous experience as chief justice, including keeping the courts open despite what he said were significant budget cuts,” reported the Associated Press. “He also said the court under his leadership effectively outlawed gambling machines in Alabama, ended an occupational tax in Montgomery County, and stopped a long-running school equity funding lawsuit.”