BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: Constitution

What the Reality-Denying Left Misses About Trump’s Immigration and Terror Entry Executive Order

In the false narrative the media has generated to try and discredit President Trump’s immigration/terror entry executive order, lost is the reasonable basis for the directive and the prudent nature of its substance.

As I note in a new piece at Conservative Review:

Opponents of the order would have us believe that we inhabit a world in which the following truths do not exist:

  1. That the global jihadist movement is waging war against the United States.
  2. That, as in all wars, the jihadist enemy seeks to undermine us through any and all means necessary. This includes immigrating to our homeland both legally and illegally, in order to collect intelligence, recruit additional members, and wage ideological and kinetic war, among other nefarious activities.
  3. That as America’s leading homeland security officials readily acknowledge, we are ill-equipped to adequately screen individuals coming to America from states in the Middle East with sizable jihadist populations.
  4. That there is no fundamental right for all peoples of the world to enter American soil.
  5. That immigration policy like all policy must necessarily be geared towards America’s national interest — which includes putting the interests of American citizens first.

In this context, when one reads the plain English of President Trump’s executive order, it appears eminently reasonable and prudent, as one step in what must be a comprehensive counterjihad policy geared towards keeping new enemies out and defeating the enemies already within.

 

Consider the nature of the substance of the executive order:

  • It is limited in both (i) the set of nations to which the visa restrictions apply — all seven of which were identified in previous Obama administration immigration policy as posing threats, and all of which are failed and/or jihadist-laden states; and (ii) the time period for which the restrictions apply in all cases except Syria, which is a country in civil war — in large part overrun by ISIS and other jihadist forces.
  • It is flexible in giving the secretaries of state and homeland security discretion to allow admission of individuals into the country who would be otherwise restricted under the order. As the Department of Homeland Security notes, the result was that contrary to the media portrayal of widespread chaos, the implementation of the order affected less than one percent of the more than 325,000 daily arriving international air travelers. 48 hours after the order went into place, all detained individuals at airports were released.
  • It is consistent with American values and the law in calling for prioritizing the resettlement of refugees who have been discriminated against because of their  religious minority status.
  • It is threat doctrine-based, ensuring that ideology — the basis of the jihadist threat — is a key filter in the immigration screening process, pursuant to Section 1 which states:
In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

For those on the Left with a newfound appreciation for constitutional limits to federal power, the executive order is fully legal.

The Left, and its communications arm in the mainstream media, seeks to highlight the burdens born by those affected by the policy in order to score political points.

They ignore President Trump’s and indeed America’s forgotten men: Namely, victims of Islamic supremacism. This includes those maimed and murdered by jihadists, and their families. It also includes those who live in communities where refugees are resettled without any say in the matter or confidence that such refugees wish to assimilate or share the same values and principles. In truth, it includes the millions of American taxpayers supporting a government that has failed to counter the jihadist threat over the last 15 years and beyond.

Read the whole thing here.

My Interview with Author Bob Curry on ‘Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea’

Check out my interview for Encounter Books with author Bob Curry on his new book Common Sense Nation, a deep but eminently accessible introduction to the still under-appreciated American Enlightenment that resulted in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and our nation, among a few other things:

Featured Image Source: Encounter Books.

One Question Every Planned Parenthood Proponent Should Have to Answer

The grotesque videos unleashed by the Center for Medical Progress, evocative of the ghoulish Kermit Gosnell, have been covered extensively elsewhere, and one cannot adequately condemn their content in a simple blog post.

But I do wish to touch on a related issue as our craven Congress “considers” whether to defund Planned Parenthood — as you can tell, I suspect that this effort will simply be more “failure theater.”

The question that must be asked of Planned Parenthood’s proponents is why if there is such deep support for the organization can they not fund it themselves?

Why in this case do progressives believe that government must impose morality, or amorality depending on your perspective, through legislation by forcing millions of Americans to support an organization anathema to them?

Does anyone believe that George Soros couldn’t pull together a consortium to fund the group in perpetuity?

Now of course, Planned Parenthood’s supporters would likely argue its federal funding is justified as a matter of public safety or “general welfare.”

But so are many things for which government has no involvement (or clear Constitutional basis on which to lavish funds), and had no involvement mind you until President Richard Nixon decided it should.

Leave aside that debate however.

What federal funding of Planned Parenthood really gets to is a question of the proper size, scope and nature of government.

The more areas in which government interjects beyond its clearly defined Constitutional prerogatives, the greater the probability that it will use taxpayer funds to support causes that violate the beliefs of large swaths of citizens. This is true on a bipartisan basis.

And this brings us to one of the brilliant insights of the Founders, who created a constitutional republic as opposed to a democracy.

In a republic, the rights of the smallest minority, the individual, are protected because of a limited government with negative rights.

On the other hand, in a democracy we get majority rule, where 51% of the people can vote away the rights of the other 49%. Stated differently, democracy tends to yield a tyranny of the majority, which is wrong in principle and most always in practice no matter what party is in power (can majority rule compel virtue, and would such rule be moral even if it could?).

Were our representatives to have remained true to the vision of the Founders and faithful to our Constitution and its animating principles enshrined in the under-appreciated Declaration of Independence, all Americans would be supporting fewer things that violate their consciences and deeply held beliefs.

In the final analysis, it is our job to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire, whether on Planned Parenthood or an infinite number of other recipients of state largess that we find repugnant.

 

Featured Image Source: YouTube screengrab/Center for Medical Progress.

More Concealed Carry Permits, Less Crime? Read John Lott’s Latest.

John R. Lott Jr., author of the groundbreaking More Guns, Less Crime, and president of the Crime Research Prevention Center, published a study last month on the rapid growth in concealed carry permits during the Obama years that revealed some interesting takeaways.

Among them, Lott found that:

Between 2007 and 2014, murder rates have fallen from 5.6 to 4.2 (preliminary estimates) per 100,000. This represents a 25% drop in the murder rate at the same time that the percentage of the adult population with permits soared by 178%. Overall violent crime also fell by 25 percent over that period of time.

The broader trend is illustrated below:

(Image Soure: Lott, John R. and Whitley, John E and Riley, Rebekah C., Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States (July 13, 2015).

(Image Soure: Lott, John R. and Whitley, John E and Riley, Rebekah C., Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States (July 13, 2015).

Critics would likely argue that correlation does not equal causation, and violent crime has been falling for decades.

Nevertheless, Lott’s research provides interesting food for thought.

A few other particularly interesting findings, quoting from the report summary include that:

  • Regression estimates show that even after accounting for the per capita number of police and people admitted to prison and demographics, the adult population with permits is significantly associated with a drop in murder and violent crime rates.
  • Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding. In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors or felonies at one-sixth the rate that police officers are convicted.
  • Some evidence suggests that permit holding by minorities is increasing more than twice as fast as for whites

Be sure to read the whole thing here.

 

Featured Image Source: AP/FoxNews.com.

10 Observations From the First 2016 GOP Presidential Debate

First, here’s my scorecard from last night:

Now to the takeaways:

1) The moderators did not delve into the core beliefs of the candidates. The Constitution itself was only raised in one question. Where’s the beef?

Perhaps it is naive to think that this matters in a world in which identity politics, sound bites and snark frequently trump all else, but I found the debate sorely lacking when it came to giving candidates the opportunity to expound upon their political philosophies.

As a proxy for this point, guess how many times the Constitution was raised during the debate?

In the case of the moderators, only once, on a question from Chris Wallace to Gov. Mike Huckabee regarding his belief in Constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and abortion.

Only Senators Cruz, Paul and Rubio even invoked the Constitution.

I understand we are living in the Roberts/Pelosi era, in which the Constitution is selectively applied when not treated as a mere piece of parchment, but come on.

I also understand that the moderators were likely more concerned with drilling the candidates on perceived weaknesses and/or questions that would elicit compelling and/or viral responses.

And it’s not lost on me that voters care most about how they are going to put food on the table, education and national security.

But for GOP primary voters, philosophy matters too.

Or perhaps I’m just an old fashioned conservative curmudgeon.

2) The moderators did not lay a glove on Sen. Marco Rubio or Gov. Scott Walker.

Was this calculated? Particularly interesting was that Sen. Rubio was not pushed at all on his support of the Gang of Eight immigration legislation even during a question explicitly about immigration.

3) Sen. Marco Rubio is good at being Sen. Marco Rubio.

That is, Sen. Rubio always comes across as polished, charismatic and likable. This is why in spite of his lagging poll numbers to date, if I were a betting man — as someone who will work to be perceived as the most “conservative” (in spite of his support of “Chuck Schumer’s” Gang of Eight Bill as Sen. Ted Cruz deftly put it), “electable” candidate, who it is thought can pull in Hispanic votes (rightly or wrongly) — I would bet that the party will ultimately throw its weight behind him for the nomination. Of course I would add all the usual caveats about how early we are in the campaign, the fact that there is likely opposition research to be leveled at him (looking at you Gov. Bush), etc. It will be interesting to see how the poll numbers shift in the coming days, and where Rubio’s support comes from as he rises.

4) Former Gov. Mike Huckabee is great on Iran, but not great on everything else.

He’s a very good speaker, no doubt honed by his time in elective office and at Fox News. He is also no conservative beyond his Christian bona fides and solid foreign policy rhetoric. Nevertheless, Gov. Huckabee will likely have staying power through Iowa at the very least, which bodes poorly for Sen. Ted Cruz in particular, whose candidacy rests on being able to garner the support of Huckabee Evangelicals, Paul libertarians, Reagan conservatives and everyone else outside the “mushy middle.”

5) Sen. Ted Cruz was frozen out for a large portion of the debate.

Nevertheless, he was on point when questioned, and was interestingly given some layup questions after the tired “Why are you tearing the country/party apart?” One wonders if his strategy is to simply state that he is the most conservative candidate as indicated by his efforts in the Senate, while letting the other candidates rumble until the field is whittled down and he can start making dramatic surgical strikes.

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If Hillary Clinton Wants to ‘Topple’ the One Percent, She Should Start With Herself

Hillary Clinton, without a hint of irony, has reportedly called for “toppling” the 1 percent. So the putative favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination intends to target those who — like herself, her husband and the benefactors of her family foundation — are the wealthiest of the wealthy.

If Mrs. Clinton is seeking to upend a system that pays off a select group of elite insiders who profit by undertaking cronyistic, anti-free market acts, I applaud her. But if Mrs. Clinton is rather seeking to punish the few who have amassed great wealth by producing goods and services for their fellow man, Hillary ought to be pilloried.

Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Any national conversation convened by Mrs. Clinton on disparities in wealth should begin with a long look in the mirror. Hillary and Bill Clinton have obtained their wealth not by meeting a true market demand, but by transacting in the political marketplace of power and influence.

Distasteful as we might find this, one cannot blame them – at least to the extent to which they were not effectively compensated for fulfilling or seeking to fulfill their end of a bribe.

For though an extreme example of successful political entrepreneurs, the Clintons are a mere symptom of a problem created by government itself, which like all institutions seeks to protect, preserve and enrich its own.

People like the Clintons, Eric CantorDeval Patrick and thousands of other well-connected “public servants” find highly remunerative work while out of office because political access and protection are prized in the marketplace.

Political power is only prized by the marketplace because there is something to be bought. Political payoffs, to our nation’s detriment, are simply seen as the cost of doing business.

Stated differently, because we have a hyper-regulatory state today that is all-intrusive and all-powerful, currying political favor may be the difference between life and death, endless riches and cataclysmic failure.

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

The Founders Didn’t Fail—We Are Failing The Founders

Conservatives are understandably depressed in the wake of Speaker Boehner and the Republican-controlled Congress’ predictable caving on executive amnesty.

Let me stop right there by emphasizing that I only said conservatives. Were our republic healthy, every single American would be depressed that President Obama’s amnesty—which on dozens of occasions he said he did not have the authority to enforce—will continue apace to the benefit of lawbreakers at the expense of American citizens.

Americans would be further demoralized at the notion that our president politicized the sovereignty of our nation represented by failing to protect its borders, all in a transparent attempt to win a permanent Democratic majority—which the shortsighted Republican establishment seem perfectly fine with, since they want immigration and the idea of “those racist Republicans” to become non-issues.

I have even seen one article arguing that the Constitution itself has failed. But the Constitution and our Founders did not fail. Human nature has not changed between 1787 and 2015. There were undoubtedly plenty of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century booze-swilling, cigar-smoking iterations of John Boehner lumbering around Capitol Hill.

What has changed is the size and scope of government, the number and composition of people who are voting, and the public’s general indifference to and acceptance of the greed, graft, lying, and all matter of corruption that have become commonplace in public life. There is also a heck of a lot more bread and circuses to keep us fat, happy, and distracted from what our supposed leaders are doing.

Read more at The Federalist…

Putting Constitutional Lipstick on a Progressive Pig

In a Washington Post op-ed, E.J. Dionne calls for progressives to reclaim a document that was never theirs, the principles of which are anathema to his fellow progressives. That document is the Constitution.

Dionne is responding to National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, who wrote that there is “popular interest in constitutionalism,” and its arbiters should extend beyond lawyers and judges to “legislators, and even citizen-activists, [who] have an independent duty to evaluate the constitutionality of legislation.”

Such a concept should not seem revolutionary. The Constitution derives its power from the consent of the governed who elect representatives tasked with expressly delegated powers. All else falls to the states or the people.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Why shouldn’t individuals take an interest in the Constitutionality of legislation passed on their behalf? After all, law is force and represents an encroachment on the people’s liberty – it must be scrutinized under the Constitution or law will lose legitimacy.

But Dionne sees things differently:

“One plausible progressive response is to see Ponnuru’s exercise as doomed from the start. The framers could not possibly have foreseen what the world would look like in 2014. In any event, they got some important things wrong, most glaringly their document’s acceptance of slavery.”

On the first charge, Dionne overlooks the fact that those who created our system of government were astute students of history with a keen understanding of human nature. Dionne neglects the founders’ understanding that the winds of public opinion would inevitably change, they also knew that human nature was unchanging.

The framers studied the governments of great nations that came before them, and formulated a system rooted in the Judeo-Christian principles on which Western civilization is based.

Their emphasis was on ensuring power be divided, checked and balanced to prevent tyranny. They did so because they were wisely mistrustful of fallible man, having studied the classics and seen man’s tendency towards folly.

Not only were they reverent of the past but humble as to their ability to see into the future. Although the founders may not have seen the advent of the federal income tax or the creation of the IRS, EPA, NSA, DOE and the rest of the alphabet soup of bureaucracy, they created a structure that would allow for the system to develop within bounds. They sought to ensure that such changes would be highly difficult to make so as to limit capriciousness, protect the rights of the minority, and again, ultimately prevent tyranny.

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

An interview with the man who literally wrote the book on impeaching President Obama, former fed prosecutor Andrew McCarthy

We conducted an interview with former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, author of the new book, “Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment,” in which we covered a number of controversial issues, including the case for impeaching President Obama, the Bowe Bergdahl terrorist exchange, Benghazi and Hillary Clinton, and the government’s efforts to chill free speech.

The below reflects a transcript of the interview, conducted via phone, which is slightly modified for clarity and links.

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Who is “Faithless Execution” intended for, and why should both President Obama’s critics and proponents pick it up?

McCarthy: The book is intended for the public broadly, because I really thought and continue to think that there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding generally about what the standards are for removal of a president from power, what the wages are of having a lawless president, and what the arsenal is that Congress has to respond to it. It seems that there’s a lot of frustration on the part of people with the fact that the president doesn’t seem to be bound by the law, or certainly doesn’t take himself to be bound by the law, and people seem very frustrated that there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about it. And point of fact, there’s a lot that can be done about it, but there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there about what the remedies are. So, what I hope the book will be is a corrective for people in general about what ways presidential lawlessness threatens the Republic, and what responses the Framers put in place that we could use to combat it.

The central point of your book hinges on the notion that impeachment is both a legal but more importantly political remedy. Thus, despite the merits of the case against President Obama, all is moot without their being broad political support for such proceedings. Can you expand on the thesis, explain why impeachment is primarily a political remedy, and provide a little bit of the history behind impeachment itself? 

McCarthy: Impeachment has two components. There’s a legal component to it in the sense that the Constitution has a threshold or a standard that applies to presidential malfeasance or maladministration – I guess maladministration is a better term because the Framers weren’t just concerned about corrupt behavior – they were concerned about a president who was in over his head so gross ineptitude even if it was well-meaning was something they were very concerned about simply because the presidency that they created was so powerful, and had so much potential to harm the republic that they were concerned about having someone who was unsuited in that position – whether it was unsuited because of corruption or simply because of reasons of incompetence. They had a straightforward legal test for what would be required to remove a president. Treason and bribery are straightforward enough – they’re actual crimes that have a lot of history and people understand them. The thing that people generally have some confusion about are high crimes and misdemeanors, and maybe it’s because of the phrase itself because it mentions “crimes and misdemeanors,” so people naturally think of penal statutes where Congress has enacted laws that qualify as felony criminal offenses or misdemeanor offenses. And that’s not what high crimes and misdemeanors is really about at all.

What the framers discussed when they adopted this standard — and it was very much on their mind because they were all men of the world, they were all men who followed current events, many of them were steeped in British law — at the time the Constitution was being debated in the Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings was ongoing in England, where Edmund Burke had led the effort in Parliament to have him impeached on the basis of high crimes and misdemeanors, so it was a phrase, and a term that was very well known to the Framers. And what it really means is, as Hamilton put it, political wrongs, or the offenses of public officials in whom high public trust is vested. So, it doesn’t have to be statutory offenses, and in many ways it’s easier to understand it in terms of the military justice system rather than the civilian penal justice system because it embraces concepts like dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming of an officer, and the like. It really is about a breach of trust and there is no more trust in our system than what’s reposed in the president, who by the way is the only one in the government who constitutionally is required to take an oath of office of the kind that’s spelled out in the constitution, which requires him to swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. The failure to do that, more than any statutory offense, was something the Framers were much more concerned about.

So the legal test of high crimes and misdemeanors is pretty straightforward. If you have situations where the president violates the trust of the American people by undermining our system and its checks and balances, those would qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors. A president who is dishonest with the public or dishonest in reporting important matters of foreign affairs to Congress and the like would be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. A president who is derelict in his duties as commander-in-chief is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors even though there is no penal offense in the federal code that would match up with that. But the Framers were also very concerned that impeachment not be the result of partisan hackery, trivial offenses, or matters of factions (so the president’s part of one faction, Congress is controlled by another, and they can impeach him just for those political and power reasons).

Read more at TheBlaze…

 

Dear Mayor de Blasio: Don’t Condemn New York to Detroit’s Fate

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

In your inaugural address you called for an end to economic and social inequality in New York. You said you wanted to improve education and build a strong economy, taking dead aim at the “Tale of Two Cities” of New York. The antidote for the ailments you say plague this city is to follow progressive principles not seen since the Dinkins administration. However, such a path will inevitably lead to greater inequity and economic deterioration in New York, harming most those who can afford it least.

More instructive than the rhetorical fiction found in the “Tale of Two Cities” is the real-life tale of two countries (Hoppe, 48-52). There were once two countries that sat side by side. Their people shared the same ethnic background, language, history and culture. Many of their citizens were not only related by a shared heritage, but by blood. In fact, the two countries were once one big country.

One country practiced what you referred to as “trickle-down” economics, which is less pejoratively referred to as free market or laissez-faire capitalism. In this country all people were guaranteed freedom of movement, trade and profession; existing price controls were abolished with a single pen stroke. The other country instituted a full slate of progressive policies, consisting of governmental control of all sectors of the economy, and driven by an underlying devotion to egalitarianism – i.e. a focus on reducing economic and social inequality, as you intend to do.

The wall between East and West Berlin was heavily guarded from the 1940s until 1991. Photo Credit: www.boston.com

The country that practiced free market capitalism in the ensuing decades developed the highest standard of living on its continent. Its progressive neighbor lagged behind – so far behind in fact that despite wealth transfers from the free market country to the progressive country, people sought to flee the progressive country. They did so to such a degree that the leaders of the progressive country had to establish strict border controls just to keep their citizens from emigrating en masse. When border policies failed to stem the exodus of citizens, the progressive country ended emigration altogether by building a physical barrier between the two countries, consisting of walls, barbed wire fences and even land mines.

The ending to this tale of two countries is bittersweet: East Germany did ultimately shed the yoke of socialist control imposed by the Soviet Union, but more than two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, its denizens have yet to recover from this experiment with progressivism. And West Germany, the country whose citizens miraculously recovered from and prospered under a free market system following the Second World War has, to its own detriment, increasingly implemented progressive policies over the years that have retarded its growth. Yet by practically every economic measure, the gap between East Germany and West Germany persists.

So my question is this: Why will it be different this time? Have not little “East Germany’s” sprung up all over the United States in recent decades, with cities implementing progressive policies with the same disastrous results over and over again — failed education systems, mass unemployment, sky-high crime rates, bankrupt governments, and perhaps most cripplingly, the destruction of nuclear families? If the progressive policies you support have consistently wrought destruction from Detroit to Newark to Chicago, why are you so dead-set on condemning New York’s most at-risk citizens — minorities, single mothers and the poor — to the same tragic fate?

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

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