Odds & Ends

How about a panoply of cartoonish insight on a variety of issues? Let’s start with that ever-present “movement” that’s occupying the airwaves. The nature of the movement is finally becoming obvious to almost everyone. Well, almost everyone:

Back in Congress, the so-called Super Committee is attempting to hammer out a deficit-reduction package. That should be easy. A small group certainly can accomplish more than the entire Congress, right? Right?

President Obama has been doing whatever he can via executive orders. Funny, I don’t remember reading anything about those in the Constitution. But he’s now going to reduce student loan paybacks by a whole $8 per month. And there will be forgiveness of those loans if they aren’t paid back in a certain number of years. Students should be elated, but don’t tell them the truth; it might damage their faith in the nanny-state:

Some people got very upset over a proposed $5 fee at the banks. Perhaps they should be upset over something more substantial:

How are you getting along with our new light bulbs? Are you like me, stocking up on the old ones? You might want to consider it.

And finally, there’s the ongoing illegal immigration quandary:

We can now add South Carolina to the list of states the Justice Department is suing for taking matters into their own hands. The past three years sure has brought change, hasn’t it?

Ponderings on the Debate

I watched the entire two hours of the Republican presidential debate last night. I’m not going to try to analyze the performance of everyone on the stage; I don’t want to write a book this morning, just a blog post. So here are the highlights—the things that stood out to me.

I want to like Rick Perry. I welcomed him to the race and hoped he would be “the man.” After last night, my estimation of him plunged. He was tentative, inarticulate most of the time, and stiff. The image that kept going through my mind was how Obama would wipe the floor with him in any general election debate. The only time he came across as articulate was when he was defending the indefensible—subsidizing college tuition for illegal immigrants. All I could think was, “Is this to be the Republican standard-bearer?” It was not a comforting thought.

In his back-and-forth dialogue with Romney, he clearly came out worse. That’s disturbing, simply because Romney is no one to count on as a consistent conservative with a message. What we need is someone who will challenge the status quo in areas such as the tax code and Social Security. Romney, as evidenced again last night, is Mr. Status Quo on issues like those. He is smooth and soothing, which would wear well in a general election, but if elected, then what? We would be no closer to making the kinds of changes that are essential for the future of the country. He would also pull the GOP more to the center, imitating the GOP of the 1950s and 1960s—half-Democrats.

Newt Gingrich, as always, shines in these formats, but my opinion of him as presidential candidate hasn’t altered. No chance. Michele Bachmann, I’m afraid, has reached her zenith and is now on a downward trajectory. She did nothing last night to change that trajectory.

The strongest voices for traditional Christian morality on the stage were Herman Cain and Rick Santorum. Yet Cain added something Santorum lacked, which was a specific plan for economic recovery. He also received the warmest applause, not only from the audience but from his colleagues, when he spoke about how he would be dead now if Obamacare had been in place during his cancer treatments. He was inspiring and dead-on in his evaluation of what Obamacare will “accomplish.” What made it even more effective, of course, was the personal angle.

I make these comments before having read what other pundits thought about last night. I will ponder their ponderings throughout the day. I will remain open to modifying my views, but what I have offered is a combination of first impressions and a lifetime of political analysis. Take it for whatever you think it’s worth.

Herman Cain: For Real?

In 2008, most commentators treated Mike Huckabee as a fringe candidate who had no chance of winning anything. When he won the Iowa caucuses, they were stunned. He was the last candidate to stay in the race with McCain. He performed well above expectations. For that reason, he was considered one of the frontrunners this year until he decided not to make that run.

I mention the Huckabee example as a preface to writing about another such candidate this time around: Herman Cain. No one among the “official” punditry gives him any chance of winning the Republican nomination, yet he has shown surprising strength early on. In polls focusing on primary voters, he has consistently been in the lead or very close to it. At the mini-debate that took place recently among five of the contenders, the focus group at the end was virtually unanimous in declaring him the winner.

Just who is this man? Is he for real, or will he be no more than a footnote once this campaign ends?

Cain has never held public office. He tried once to receive the Republican nomination for senator from Georgia, but fell short. Why, then, does he think he can be successful in this quest?

Herman Cain says he is running because God wants him to do something significant with the rest of his life. He survived stage IV cancer, and shares a heartfelt testimony of how God led him through that ordeal and brought him out on the other side cancer free.

While that is great, and an inspirational story, what has he done with his life up to this point that makes him think he can be president?

Cain has a broad background in business. He began as a business analyst for Coca-Cola, then, with the Pillsbury company, rose to the level of vice president. Pillsbury owned Burger King at the time, and put Cain in charge of four hundred of those fast-food restaurants in the Philadelphia area, a region that was the least profitable in the country. In three years, he had made it into the most profitable.

Pillsbury was so pleased with his success that it gave him a new job—save another of its subsidiaries, Godfather’s Pizza, from going under. As CEO of that company, Cain worked his business magic again, making it profitable within fourteen months. He eventually left Godfather’s to become CEO of the National Restaurant Association. In addition to all of that business acumen, he was appointed to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where he served as chairman one year.

In other words, Cain is not a nobody; he has a resumé of success in the business and financial world.

What about the issues? Where does he stand?

On economics, he is a Reagan-style Republican devoted to less regulation and lower taxes. In fact, as with Huckabee, he is a supporter of the Fair Tax proposal, which would do away with all income taxes and go to a consumption tax instead. Bottom line: you keep all your money and then pay taxes only on what you decide to buy.

As a dedicated Christian evangelical, Cain opposes abortion and seeks to defund Planned Parenthood. He opposes same-sex marriage and supports the Defense of Marriage Act.

He’s also vocal about his concerns that there are some in the Muslim community who desire to construct Sharia law in the United States.

Education? Performance incentives for teachers; charter schools; voucher systems.

Energy? Drill more on our own land, even in ANWR; allow the private sector to develop alternative sources without government interference.

Healthcare? Repeal Obamacare and let the free market rule.

Immigration? Secure the border; no amnesty.

Cain is pro-Israel, pro-Second Amendment, and says his favorite Supreme Court justices are Scalia and Thomas.

If he can communicate effectively, who knows what might happen? I am not at this time declaring my support for his nomination, but I do believe he deserves a closer look. Will he be able to withstand the pressure that comes from increased scrutiny? Will he avoid a major gaffe along the way?

He has developed some significant grassroots support. Is it enough? I’m going to be watching with great interest.

Cartooning the Issues

A minimum of commentary today—a maximum of cartoons. Let’s focus on the big issues facing Congress and the administration, such as the budget:

Or how about the energy issue?

And don’t forget immigration:

I hope those won’t be “last words” that we regret.

Immigration As a Partisan Issue

Did you catch President Obama’s speech earlier this week in Texas, right on the border with Mexico? It was a particularly partisan speech in which he accused Republicans of being partisan. He claimed that the border was safer than ever, that the fence was virtually complete, and he found it especially opportune to “joke” about his detractors now wanting a moat with alligators.

Hah, hah.

Cartoonists have been quick to note that he was speaking to a very friendly audience that seeks an amnesty policy. They have correctly identified the speech as stridently partisan and given not really as a policy initiative but as pure politics. Here’s how it looks to them:

They haven’t fallen for the spin:

He said there have been fewer illegal immigration arrests. Perhaps this is the best explanation for that:

As with all things Obama, he’s not really serious about dealing with genuine problems. He’s got his political agenda; it trumps everything.

The Citizenship Question

Sen. Lindsey Graham [of all people] has come forth to address the issue of the children of illegal immigrants becoming citizens. The way the law is currently understood—erroneously, I might add—any child born within the United States, to any immigrant, legal or illegal, is automatically a citizen of the United States. Some immigrants do come into the country as the due date approaches, give birth here, and then use the status of their child, a so-called “Anchor Baby,” to remain here.

We are told this is the result of the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. All amendments must be viewed in context and interpreted according to original intent. The Fourteenth Amendment was one of the post-Civil War amendments dealing with the ex-slaves. All that was intended by it was to ensure that no Southern state would take rights away from these ex-slaves. That’s why the wording was as follows:

All persons born … in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.

How do we know the original intent was to apply to ex-slaves only? We have the word of the very man who wrote this particular clause. He was Michigan Senator Jacob Howard. As author Thomas West writes,

It appears, however, that the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has long been misunderstood. Edward J. Erler points out that the author of the clause, Senator Jacob Howard, emphatically stated that those “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States “will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners” or “aliens.” In other words, the Fourteenth Amendment was never intended to grant automatic citizenship to American-born children of foreigners, and the Supreme Court erred in 1898 when it ruled otherwise. (The Court never ruled that American-born children of illegal aliens are citizens, although that too is current federal policy.)

I realize that original intent doesn’t mean a whole lot to many judges anymore, but if we are to be faithful to the amendment’s original purpose, we must cease the practice of making citizens of anyone born on American soil. No new amendment is necessary. The one we have will do nicely.

I do highly recommend West’s book. It’s called Vindicating the Founders, and it deals not only with what the Founding Fathers thought about immigration, but also race, women, property, voting, and welfare. I use it in my American Revolution course, and it proves to be quite enlightening for most students.

Meanwhile, back to the topic: so when you hear politicians claiming that children of immigrants, legal or illegal, are automatically citizens, realize they don’t understand the Constitution they are supposedly upholding. And when you hear that something else must be done to reverse this policy—well, that might be necessary, given the times, but it shouldn’t have to be. The original intent of the amendment is quite clear historically.

Time for Another Constitutional Discussion

Amid all the talk of racial profiling and unfairness over the Arizona illegal immigration bill, I don’t think anyone I’ve read has brought up the other—real—racial profiling and unfairness that emanates from it. It took a couple of cartoonists to make the point very well.

A nice twist, right? Here’s another one:

Who are the real lawbreakers? Some would have us believe they are the law enforcement officers rather than those who are knowingly violating the immigration laws.

Then there’s this from the U.S. Constitution, something else I hadn’t stopped to consider until I read it recently in an article. Article III, Sec. 2, clause 2 says:

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction.

Now, if I understand that correctly, any case that involves a state cannot be tried in a lower federal court; rather, it must go directly to the Supreme Court. Yet Attorney General Holder didn’t take his lawsuit to the Supreme Court. Therefore, what he is doing appears to be unconstitutional.

And what about Article I, Section 10 of that same Constitution, where we find these words:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, … engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Couldn’t we say that a state such as Arizona has been invaded? There are sections along the border where citizens are warned not to go because it is too dangerous due to the drug “industry” associated with illegal immigration. If invasion is too strong a term for some, why not refer to it as an imminent danger that requires immediate action?

I haven’t heard yet a discussion of these two constitutional provisions with respect to this issue, but it’s time to have that discussion. The biggest problem, of course, is that we’re dealing with an administration that has no respect or concern for constitutional provisions.

Getting that discussion started, though, would be highly beneficial.