The Cato Institute’s newspaper ad reminding citizens that December 15th was Bill of Rights Day summarized the desperate shape those first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States is in, thanks to an overweening government and an uninformed citizenry. Reviewing each of the amendments, Cato pointed  to specific infringements of each of them, concluding that “It’s a disturbing picture, to be sure, but not one the Framers of the Constitution would have found altogether surprising. They would sometimes refer to written constitutions as mere “parchment barriers” [to totalitarian government].

 

Here's the latest "Freedom Index: A Congressional Scorecard Based on the Constitution."

Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) unveiled legislation Wednesday to enforce civil and criminal penalties for those who publish or in some way communicate false or misleading election material with the intent to dissuade or prevent certain people from voting. Entitled the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2011, the law would make it a federal crime to disclose misleading information regarding voting eligibility and information on the times and locations of elections — whether through print, electronic, or telephonic mediums — within 90 days before a federal election.

The move comes days after Paul Schurick, former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr.’s (R) 2010 campaign manager, was convicted by a Baltimore jury of four counts of election law violations stemming from a robocall used in the state’s 2010 gubernatorial race that prosecutors claim was staged to suppress the black vote. The automated call allegedly told voters in Baltimore and in Prince George’s County to "relax" because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had been successful in winning the election.

Cardin referred to the Schurick case because the Maryland State Prosecutor could only take action thanks to a 2006 state law, while he stressed that a similar law must be enacted on the national level to prevent similar instances from occurring in other states.
 

MSNBC tried connecting GOP contender Mitt Romney to the KKK early this week, but wound up with egg on its face and was forced to apologize. Such was the embarrassment that talker Chris Matthews, the host of Hardball, called the smear “appalling.”  More interesting, however, is where the network dug up the egregious but unspoken calumny. It originated in the febrile work of a homosexual leftist. He had learned that the Ku Klux Klan once used a three-word slogan that Romney repeated last week. The offensive words? “Keep America American.”

 

The most listened-to talk radio show host in the country, Rush Limbaugh, is often (though not often enough) critical of what he refers to as the Republican Party establishment. His friends and colleagues, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, are no different in this respect: Each portrays himself as a voice for the rank and file of the Republican Party against the establishment with which it finds itself increasingly at odds.

Although the aforementioned figures rarely mention names, it would appear that if Limbaugh’s, Hannity’s, and Levin’s are the faces of “the conservative movement,” then those of the establishment belong to the likes of Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, and Karl Rove.

It is during presidential primary contests moreso than at any other time that this rivalry between “conservative” Republicans and establishment Republicans comes into focus, for it is always conflict over the selection of a candidate that seems to shove it most forcefully to the forefront. On the one hand, the voice of the establishment insists upon favoring only the most “moderate” (read: liberal) of candidates. On the other hand, the voice of “the base” — as channeled through such colorful radio and television personalities as the Limbaughs and Hannitys of our world — expresses resentment toward the establishment for its continual betrayal of “conservative principles”: The objective, according to “conservatives” and Tea Partiers the country over, is to always support the most conservative of candidates.

On December 15, just hours after the Senate had passed the compromise version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill, supported by several of her colleagues from across the aisle, to extract at least one of the sharpest teeth from the freedom-devouring monster created by the NDAA.

The measure, entitled the Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011, is an attempt by Feinstein and her co-sponsors to prevent American citizens detained under applicable provisions of the NDAA from being denied their constitutional right to the due process of law.

 

Between acts of the legislative branch and regulations of branches of the executive branch, due process is being run out of town on a rail. Congress completed action on The National Defense Authorization Act last week, and the Act now awaits President Obama's signature. This law will empower the President to send the military to capture and indefinitely imprison citizens suspected of committing a “belligerent act” without access to an attorney or a trial on the merits of the charges.
 
 

On Thursday, December 15, Texa­­s Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry released information that he is simultaneously collecting the Governor’s salary and retirement benefits from the state of Texas. The information came from a personal financial disclosure form he was required to submit by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). His campaign had twice sought delays and been granted two 45-day extensions before complying.

According to HT Politics, the 20-page document filed with the FEC shows that in addition to his $133,000 annual salary as Governor, Perry is collecting a $7,700 monthly state pension. State code permitted the Governor to begin collecting this pension in January. State employees are allowed to collect benefits if their years of military and state service plus their ages add up to more than 80. Perry qualifies, having counted five years in the Air Force and 24 years in Texas public service. He served as a part-time legislator, as Agricultural Commissioner, and Lieutenant Governor before assuming the Governor’s seat when Governor George Bush became President.

However, rhetoric doesn’t always match the record.

On Thursday, motions were filed in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals by attorneys general of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina asking the court to temporarily halt challenges currently proceeding against their immigration laws pending a ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Arizona v. United States, scheduled to be heard by the highest court sometime during this term.

The Obama Administration has challenged the constitutionality of all three recently enacted immigration statutes, arguing that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction to legislate in the arena of immigration.

Early last week, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral arguments in the matter and ultimately issue a ruling deciding whether the legislature and Governor of the Grand Canyon State were preempted by federal law from enacting a law establishing immigration policy.

The cost of the Obama family’s annual Hawaiian getaway swells as First Lady Michelle Obama’s separate trip stands to cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars more. While President Obama remained in Washington wrapping up this year's contentious congressional session, Michelle and her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, jetted off on the 17-day vacation a little early, days before the President will join them.

According to government estimates, the military jet flight that Michelle and the girls took Friday costs more than $60,000, and that’s not including the additional cargo flight, limousines, and other furnishings and equipment. The First Lady also requires her own Secret Service protection and staffers, clocking the total bill at well over $100,000, according to White House Dossier, which the White House declined to address during Friday’s daily press briefing. Estimates are that the trip may cost as much as $4 million.
 

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