Wednesday, 16 December 2015 10:54

Image and Substance

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Image and Substance

Barry MacDonald - Editorial

Republicans are misunderstood by too many Americans. Why?

The education system has a bias towards the supposed benevolence of big government, and the news media is in sympathy with the ideology of big government. Republicans are distorted, as though our image were reflected in a fun-house mirror. But most importantly, Republicans aren't united, and they haven't defined for American voters their essential principles.

Also there is the devolution of political discourse from reasoned argument to 30-second attack ads on T.V. These ads have the power to shift the direction of public opinion; they rely on preconceived views and emotions, and so many of them are untruthful; as were the ads attacking Mitt Romney as a felon, and as responsible for the death of an employee's wife.

President Obama and generations of Democrats before him have mastered the art of crafting their messages for maximum effect through a sympathetic media.

During a campaign style, T.V. appearance in front of uniformed police officers, the President blamed the coming "sequestration cuts" in government spending on Republicans. The "cuts" are a tiny slowing of an ever-increasing level of spending: the federal government will spend more this year than last despite sequestration.

The President said:

Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce our deficits by more than $2.5 trillion. More than two-thirds of that was through some pretty tough spending cuts. . . . . [Not true. We've had four years of trillion-plus dollar deficits; there have been no "tough" spending cuts].
Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research . . . Emergency responders like the ones who are here today - their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings. . . . So these cuts are not smart. . . . They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls.
. . . So far at least the ideas that the Republicans have proposed ask nothing of the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations, so the burden is all on first responders or seniors or middle-class families. They double down, in fact, on the harsh, harmful cuts that I've outlined. They slash Medicare and investments that create good, middle-class jobs. And so far at least what they've expressed is a preference where they'd rather have these cuts go into effect than close a single tax loophole for the wealthiest Americans. Not one.

If I didn't know better, if I didn't recognized what an outrageous pile of untruths these words are, I would hate Republicans too: it's the President's objective to cast the Republicans as villains worthy of hate, and to prejudice the American people against even the smallest reduction in government spending.

Most media commentators did not point out the stream of falsehoods President Obama deployed in the above statement.

The truth is the $44 billion sequestration cuts for 2013 are one quarter of one percent of GDP. The federal government will spend $3.7 trillion in 2013.

Six years into President Bush's term, after a recession, 9/11, and two wars, our national debt was $6 trillion - after four years of President Obama's leadership the national debt is $16 trillion.

Under President Obama's leadership there have been and there will be no spending cuts - only a slight slowing in the increase of federal spending due to sequestration (which will probably be undone). When interest rates rise, as someday they must, the amount of money dedicated to paying the interest on the national debt will crowd all spending. Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are going bankrupt - every informed person knows this. President Obama and the Democrats have presented no ideas on reforming Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security - the media doesn't inform the American people of this fact, a fact that needs primary emphasis.

President Obama's list of horrible scenarios may come true, not because of hard-hearted Republicans who care only about the wealthy (how could Republicans survive with such a tiny base), but because of President Obama's and Democrats' lustful spending.

We confront a governing class, the powerful institutions driving American culture - big newspapers, network news, the education system, Hollywood, etc. - that is self-interested, self-congratulatory, and shortsighted. The very Americans they profess concern for - "first responders or seniors or middle-class families" - will bear the economic hardship, while the governing class will be insulated by their wealth and influence.

Clearly an essential purpose for Republicans should be to resist the exponentially expanding power of the federal government, to hold to the principles of limited and restrained government, and restore the ideals of individual freedom. The reigning ethos of Washington D.C., sadly including elements of the Republican Party, promotes unlimited government.

We should appreciate the challenges facing the small band of elected conservatives and libertarians in Congress. There is cause for encouragement. A cadre of dedicated and imaginative first-term Senators has emerged who have demonstrated an ability to grasp the attention of the American people, despite the hostile filter of the media. And they are explicitly defending the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) questioned Attorney General Eric Holder in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Cruz: . . . If an individual is sitting quietly at a caf in the United States, in your legal judgment, does the Constitution allow a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil to be killed by a drone?
Holder: For sitting in a caf and having a cup of coffee?
Cruz: If that individual is not posing an imminent, immediate threat of death or bodily harm, does the Constitution allow a drone to kill that individual?
Holder: On the basis of what you said, I don't think you could arrest that person.
Cruz: The person is suspected to be a terrorist, you have abundant evidence he is a terrorist, he's involved in terrorist plots, but at the moment he's not pointing a bazooka at the Pentagon. He is sitting in a caf. Overseas the United States uses drones to take out individuals when they are walking down a pathway or sitting in a caf. If a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil is not posing an immediate threat to life or bodily harm, does the Constitution allow a drone to kill that citizen?
Holder: I do not think that would be an appropriate use of any kind of legal force. . . .
Cruz: . . . My question wasn't about appropriateness or prosecutorial discretion. It was a simple legal question. Does the Constitution allow a U.S. citizen who doesn't pose an imminent threat to be killed by the U.S. government?
Holder: I do not believe that, again, you have to look at all of the facts, with the facts that you have given me, this is a hypothetical, I would not think that in that situation the use of a drone or lethal force would be appropriate.
Cruz: . . . I have to tell you I find it remarkable that in that hypothetical, which is deliberately very simple, you were unable to give a simple one-word answer: "No.". . . I think it is unequivocal that if the U.S. government were to use a drone to take the life of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil and that individual did not pose an imminent threat that would be a deprivation of life without due process.
Holder: I said the use of legal force . . . for the use of drones, guns, or whatever else would not be appropriate in that circumstance . . .
Cruz: You keep saying appropriate. My question isn't about propriety. My question is about whether something is constitutional or not. As Attorney General you are the chief legal officer of the United States. Do you have a legal judgment on whether it would be constitutional to kill a U.S. person on U.S. soil under those circumstances?
Holder: A person who is not engaged, as you describe it . . . again this is a hypothetical . . . the way you have described this person . . . sitting in a caf, not doing anything imminently . . . the use of legal force would not be appropriate, would not be . . .
Cruz: I find it remarkable that you will still not give an opinion on the constitutionality . . .
Holder: Let me be clear. Translate my "appropriate" to "no." I thought I was saying "no." Alright? "No."

Eric Holder appeared the typical establishment politico, parsing and equivocating, attempting to wriggle out of a tight corner, but Ted Cruz boxed him in, forcing him to settle on a clear "no," a response that acknowledged the primacy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This was an interchange that cut through the media filter to make an impression on the American Public.

The next day, on March 6 first-term Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) filibustered the Senate for 13 hours, making the point that no American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime. He was supported in his efforts by rising stars and fellow first-term senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee (R-Ut), and a dozen other senators, including Ron Wyden, the only Democrat.

Rand Paul filibustered, standing on the senate floor for 13 hours, without a bathroom break, speaking for a majority of the 13 hours. It was the ninth-longest filibuster in senate history. (The longest was by Senator Stom Thurmond (D-S.C.) in 1957 at 24 hours, 18 minutes).

Rand Paul captured the nation's imagination with his filibuster. It reminded people of Jimmy Stewart in the move "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." His point was easy to understand. It penetrated the media filter and was understood by the American people.

Rand Paul brought attention to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights - how often are ordinary Americans reminded of the Constitution? How many need to be introduced to the Constitution for the first time? The Constitution will be key in turning back the ever-expanding power of the federal government. The Constitution, a unique document in the history of the nations, is a firm basis around which conservatives should rally.

Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee understand that they are in a public relations battle with President Obama and the Democrats, and that President Obama is thoroughly unscrupulous. They understand that they need to stage events and make gestures that outflank an unsympathetic media. They are aggressive, determined, fearless, and effective. They need support and encouragement. *

We would like to thank the following people for their generous support of this journal (from 1/10 2013 to 3/13/2013): Mary Ellen Alt, George E. Andrews, William D. Andrews, Ariel, Douglas W. Barr, Gordon D. Batcheller, Charles Benscheidt, Veronica A. Binzley, Jan F. Branthaver, Mary & Fred Budworth, Price B. Burgess, Dino Casali, John B. Charlton, Joseph R. De Vitto, Dianne C. DeBoest, Francis P. Destefano, Alice DiVittorio, Robert M. Ducey, Joseph C. Firey, Reuben M Freitas, Jerome C. Fritz, Robert W. Garhwait, Joyce H. Griffin, Richard P. Grossman, William R. & Barbara R. Hilgedick, Steven D. Johnson, Mary A. Kelley, Martin N. & Ester M. Kellogg, Margaret M. Kelly, Edward B. Kiolbasa, Donald G. Lee, Herbert London, Frank Lonyay, Allan C. Lundberg, Paul T. Manrodt, Lloyd W. Martinson, Delbert H. Meyer, Margaret H. Montfort, Robert L. Morris, David Norris, David Olsen, Robert G. Olsen, Charles J. Queenan, David P. Renkert, Margaret Rivers Fund, Robert E. Russell, Richard P. Schonland, Jack R. Sharkey, Wayne G. Shelton, Robert E. Stacy, Thomas S. Steele, Paul B. Thompson, Jack E. Turner, David Winnes,

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