Liberty vs. Leviathan

Chronicling Liberty's battle against Leviathan

Bearing false witness

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.  Exodus 20:16

It’s no secret that Rick Santorum is trying to win the social conservative voting bloc. It’s also no secret that he realizes Ron Paul stands in his way and thus has to be neutralized.  One of the recent tactics Santorum has employed in this quest is the classic ploy of distorting an opponent’s record.

Last week we saw that Santorum was unequivocally wrong when he stated that Paul “…doesn’t vote for anything restricting abortion on a federal level…”  To paraphrase Reagan, “Well, he’s done it again.”  In the recent South Carolina GOP CNN Debate Santorum claimed that Paul’s pro-life voting record, as scored by the National Right to Life Committee, was 50 percent, no better than Harry Reid’s.

From the debate:

Congressman Paul has a National Right to Life voting record of 50 percent, which is pretty much what Harry Reid’s National Right to Life voting record is. So for — to go out and say that, you know, you’re someone who stands up for the right to life, you repeatedly vote against bills on a federal level to promote the right to life, and you say that this is an individual personal decision or state decision. Life should be protected, and you should have the willingness to stand up on a federal level and any level of government and protect what our — excuse me — what our declaration protects, which is the right of our Creator to life, and that is a federal issue, not a state issue.

You can hear it in this video at the 1:50 mark:

.

Fifty percent didn’t sound right so I did a little checking.  Here are the NRLC scores of Paul and Santorum for all the Congressional sessions for which NRLC has scores.  (For the sake of argument let’s assume the NLRC score is the standard for evaluating a person’s commitment to the pro-life cause, I don’t, but we’ll assume it).

Congressional Paul Santorum
Session Score % Votes Score % Votes
105   (1997) 95 20 100 15
106   (1999) 75 19 / 20 100 9
107   (2001) 81 16 100 2 / 3
108   (2003) 72 11 100 11
109   (2005) 55 9 / 11 100 4
110   (2007) 80 5 / 7 x x
111   (2009) 100 5 / 6 x x
112   (2011) 100 6 / 7 x x

Here are a few things to notice:

  • The only time Paul had a score near 50 was six or seven years ago during the 109th Session.
  • Paul has received a score of 100 for the current session and the previous session.
  • Except for the 108th Session Paul cast  more votes than Santorum in each session thus more opportunity to cast a vote deemed unfriendly to NRLC.
  • Santorum has had no votes since 2006.  That’s because he was not re-elected, many believe due to his support of abortion proponent Arlen Specter in Specter’s 2004 campaign.

Now, let’s look at that 109th Session score in detail.  First the number itself then how it was calculated.

Why did Santorum cite 50 percent and not 55?  I’m willing to give Santorum the benefit of the doubt and chalk the inaccuracy up to sloppy rounding or poor prep from his aides.  He can not, however, be excused for citing this score from three sessions ago while omitting Paul’s 100 percent score from the current and previous sessions.   Pointing out that Paul had this rating in 2006 would have been fair.  Attributing this score to Paul today is not.  It’s a blatant misrepresentation of fact and Santorum is wrong to try to get by with it.

Even if Santorum is wrong in citing this score as a current score, through the eyes of a social conservative it still doesn’t look good for Paul to have such a low score smack in the middle of all the others.  So why is it so low?

Let’s break down the votes NRLC tracked during the 109th Session.  Representatives were tracked and scored on eleven votes during the session.  Paul did not vote on two of those, voted “with” the NRLC on five and “against” the NRLC on 4, thus the 55 percent (5/9 = .55)

So what were those issues upon which Paul voted “against” the NRLC?  Using the NRLC score card numbering system Paul voted “against” the NRLC on votes 2, 3, 4 and 10.  Each of these votes was on either the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act or an amendment to this bill.  (In short, the bill made a federal crime of an adult transporting a minor across state lines in order to procure an abortion and avoid state laws requiring parental participation in an abortion decision.)

This reveals at least two flaws in using a political action committee’s evaluation of a candidate when making decisions about who to support.

First, Paul was penalized for voting several times on the same bill.  If tracked by bill Paul would have had a score of  80 (4 bills “with” and 1 “against”).

Second, the NRLC scoring system only takes into account the vote, not the reasoning behind the vote.  With just a little effort one learns that Paul thought the intent of the bill was “laudable” but also flawed and unconstitutional:

Mr. Speaker, in the name of a truly laudable cause (preventing abortion and protecting parental rights), today the Congress could potentially move our Nation one step closer to a national police state by further expanding the list of Federal crimes and usurping power from the States to adequately address the issue of parental rights and family law…

…Should parents be involved in decisions regarding the health of their children? Absolutely. Should the law respect parents’ rights to not have their children taken across State lines for contemptible purposes? Absolutely. Can a State pass an enforceable statute to prohibit taking minors across State lines to avoid laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions? Absolutely. But when asked if there exists constitutional authority for the Federal criminalizing of just such an action the answer is absolutely not.

This federalizing may have the effect of nationalizing a law with criminal penalties which may be less than those desired by some States. To the extent the Federal and State laws could co-exist, the necessity for a Federal law is undermined and an important bill of rights protection is virtually obliterated. Concurrent jurisdiction crimes erode the right of citizens to be free of double jeopardy.

So in this case, Paul supported the intentions behind the bill, but he disagreed with the method being proposed to bring those intentions to life.  And his disagreement was based on the Constitution and the oath he took to uphold the Constitution, not on his allegiance to a PAC or party.

One final point.  To compare Paul’s 55 percent score with Harry Reid’s 50 percent is disingenuous.  Reid cast four votes.  Two of those were “with” the NRLC, the two votes he cast for the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, the act that Paul warned would increase the scope of the Federal government.  Reid voted “against” the NRLC on the same issues Paul voted “with” the NRLC, the ones that would have authorized funding to pro-abortion organizations.  The common theme in Reid’s vote is an increase in the scope of government.  The theme in Paul’s votes is one of keeping the scope of government contained within the confines of the Constitution.

When one looks beyond the sound bites, it’s easy to see that Ron Paul is a pro-life candidate.  The disagreement Santorum and the NLRC have with Paul is not based on differing views on the sanctity of life and the evil of abortion.  The disagreement is based on their differing views on strategy and on the role a Constitutionally constrained Federal government has in making laws restricting abortion.  Santorum should admit as much, acknowledge that Paul is pro-life (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 among others) and stop bearing false witness.

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Under the bus

From Politico this weekend we’re informed that Rick Santorum says Ron Paul does not stand for life:

[Paul] doesn’t vote for anything restricting abortion on a federal level because he doesn’t think the federal government should be involved in restricting abortion…Well, that’s just wrong! The bottom line is that we need to have restrictions on abortion.

Santorum must have a bad memory at best, or be lying at worst.  For in 2003, despite his misgivings, Paul voted “Yea”  on HR 760 and “Yea” again on S3, the Santorum sponsored Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

And what were Paul’s misgivings?  There were two and they were big.  Both can be found in his remarks from the House floor but I’ll let him summarize here.  The bill…

  1. “…inadvertently justifies federal government intervention into every medical procedure…”
  2. “…ingrains the principles of Roe v. Wade into our justice system, rather than refutes them as it should.”

So despite his reservations, Paul voted for a bill that Santorum sponsored in order to save a life thus disproving Santorum’s claim that “…[Paul] doesn’t vote for anything restricting abortion…”

Paul made clear then as he does today, Santorum and all the other progressive GOP candidates seek to use the unconstitutional power of the federal government for their own causes.  Paul, and Paul alone, is the true conservative, seeking to preserve the constitutional republic our founders entrusted to us.

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Relocation

One of my favorite blogs, The Western Confucian, has relocated both geographically and virtually.  His new address is The Pittsford Perennialist.

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Context

In an attempt to add some clarity to blogosphere conversations involving economics and the Catholic Church here’s a brief comment on “common good” and Doug Douma’s post  “Don’t be duped by this dope, errr, Pope” at Libertarian Christians (LC) .

In the post LC quotes a Reuters article that quotes Pope Benedict XVI.  The Reuters quote comes from a response the Pope gave during a Q&A session with reporters on his way to Spain last week.

In addition to being taken out of context (by Reuters, not LC), the Reuters quote does not accurately reflect the transcript of the Q&A session provided by Zenit.

Reuters’ version reads:

The economy cannot be measured by the maximum profit but by the common good,

The Zenit version reads:

Man must be at the center of the economy and the economy must not be measured according to greatest profit, but according to the good of all.

LC comments on the Reuters version that “one cannot “measure the economy” at all; neither by the common good nor by maximum profit.”

First let’s recognize that the Pope and LC are in agreement that the economy can not be measured by profit.

LC also states that the economy can not be measured at all, whether by profit or “common good” [emphasis mine] and welcomes an explanation of how one would measure the economy by the common good.

I doubt whether the Pope would make a case that the economy could quantitatively be measured by the common good.  I think instead he would discuss the implications of what it means for man to be at the center of the economy.  (The economy being for man, not the other way around, man for the economy.)

From this response of the Pope and from what I’ve read of Catholic social teaching (Rerum NovarumQuadragesimo Anno, Centesimus Annus, Caritas in Veritate), I think the point the pope was trying to make is that man, acting man, must be the focus of how we evaluate the economy, not the mere P&L of corporations or the growth rate of the GDP.  The “good of all” or the “common good” is what’s good for all of us (universally) in the context of justice and charity; equal application of the law (GM and Chrysler comes to mind), lack of favoritism for certain classes (TARP and Cash for Clunkers comes to mind) and so on.

Being the head pastor of the universal Church, the Pope would not offer specific economic prescriptions to be enacted in this or that local or national economy.  What he will do though is work to guide the discussion and reflection to the moral and spiritual framework which supersedes the economic framework.  I think in this case he was gently saying that the economy should not be evaluated by aggregate, materialistic statistics so prevalent in our Keynesian world but rather it should be evaluated in the context of “a [moral] framework that honors the dignity of man and allows man to pursue not only material gain but also his higher calling.

*Word cloud of Caritas in Veritate by Wordle

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War

Today’s email update from The Future of Freedom Foundation points us to James Madison‘s observations of war.

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Madison goes on to remind us of the separation of powers and the reasons for such:

The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the legislature the power of declaring a state of war; it was proposed that the executive might, in the recess of the legislature, declare the United States to be in a state of war.

The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the legislature the power of raising armies: it was proposed, that in the recess of the legislature, the executive might, at its pleasure, raise or not raise an army of ten, fifteen, or twenty-five thousand men.

The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the legislature the power of creating offices; it was proposed that the executive, in the recess of the legislature, might create offices, as well as appoint officers, for an army of ten, fifteen, or twenty-five thousand men.

A delegation of such powers would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments.

The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted.

The separation of the power of raising armies from the power of commanding them is intended to prevent the raising of armies for the sake of commanding them.

The separation of the power of creating offices from that of filling them is an essential guard against the temptation to create offices for the sake of gratifying favorites or multiplying dependents.

Where would be the difference between the blending of these incompatible powers, by surrendering the legislative part of them into the hands of the executive, and by assuming the executive part of them into the hands of the legislature? In either case the principle would be equally destroyed, and the consequences equally dangerous.

An attempt to answer these observations by appealing to the virtues of the present chief magistrate and to the confidence justly placed in them will be little calculated either for his genuine patriotism or for the sound judgment of the American public.

The people of the United States would not merit the praise universally allowed to their intelligence if they did not distinguish between the respect due to the man and the functions belonging to the office. In expressing the former, there is no limit or guide but the feelings of their grateful hearts. In deciding the latter, they will consult the Constitution; they will consider human nature, and, looking beyond the character of the existing magistrate, fix their eyes on the precedent which must descend to his successors.

James Madison ~ “Political Observations” 20 April 1795

We have ignored his wisdom at our own peril.

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Fixed

Despite the fact that the fix has been in since the days of FDR, Bernanke’s press conference this week is a sure sign that Keynes is on the ropes.

And just in case you missed EconStories‘ “Fear the Boom and Bust” from last year…

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Easier and easier

Whether Obama or Bush,  Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, Ray Stevens cleverly illustrates the depravity and absurdity of those in DC who deign to rule us.

[HT to Steve]

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Patriots

Twenty-six Republicans cast a vote for Liberty tonight by denying party leadership and voting down a fast track approval of HR 54, an extension of provisions of the so-called Patriot Act.  One among those was Justin Amash of Michigan’s 3rd District.

Small government, conservative Republicans voting to extend the unconstitutional legislation include Michele Bachmann and Paul Ryan.

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Romney for Paul?

Can’t resist pointing out that Romney has unwittingly implied he could support Ron Paul in 2012.  Or, maybe he’s finally seen the light.

…I’m inclined to make sure there is somebody in the race who understand[s] how the economy works…

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Your dollar

David Breuhan, money manager and author of Spread the Wealth, reminds us in “An Appeal to Reason” of the detriments and immorality of the inflation created by the policies of the Federal Reserve:

Since 1913, it has engaged in a deliberate policy of inflation- an expansion of the money supply that has resulted in precipitously rising prices. Inflation benefits debtors at the expense of creditors. It benefits those with market power who have the ability to increase prices without losing market share. Inflation destroys real capital and overstates profits. It encourages speculation and spending, at the expense of prudence and savings. Inflation discourages ownership and fosters renting, depriving people of private property and liberty. It hurts those on fixed incomes, especially the poor and middle class…

…There is no historical evidence that a nation which relies on the excess creation of money will benefit from long term prosperity. In actuality, the opposite occurs.

… and calls for Congressional action to

  • stop the Fed’s purchasing of Treasury debt
  • prohibit the Fed from setting interest rates
  • eliminate the Fed’s ability to implement inflationary policies

I have my doubts that this will occur but it would be a great first step that has been made more possible by the recent appointment of Ron Paul as Chairman of the Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee

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