Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Little Pelosi in All of Them



Nancy Pelosi gave those who still believe in the rule of law a real wake up call recently with her response to the simple question, "Where in the Constitution does the Federal government get the authority to force individual Americans to purchase health insurance?" "That's not a serious question." Pelosi shot back.

Not a serious question? How more blatant could a federal official be in telling us that they will not recognize the rule of law or any restraints on their power? Her answer is the very essence of lawless government. But in a sense Pelosi was just saying openly what many of them practice behind closed doors. In the recent best seller "End the Fed", Congressman Ron Paul wrote that the weakest arguments (in the sense of changing anyone's mind in Congress) for any issue are moral arguments and constitutional arguments.

You may think we can fix the problem by simply voting out Pelosi, or in our case Senator Blanche Lincoln. While Lincoln is a deplorable tool of corporate interests and no one from any side of the political spectrum can trust a single word she says, simply replacing her with another person who secretly practices what Pelosi states openly will not solve our problem. Our problem specifically being a huge federal government that has run amuck, and is now the biggest threat to our continued liberty and prosperity rather than their protector.

The Republican candidates for U.S. Senate are Gilbert Baker, Curtis Coleman, Kim Hendren, Buddy Rogers, Fred Ramey, Tom Cox, and Conrad Reynolds. Each of them was sent a survey by the Benton County Tea Party. Thirty percent of the state-wide vote in the Republican primary will come from Benton County. The candidates wanted that vote. What they did not want to do was answer the survey questions. The reaction of some of them was visceral in their opposition. Only political neophyte Fred Ramey actually returned the survey on time to the lady who was supposed to get them. Coleman sent his in too, but only on the condition that his answers would never be revealed. How is that for a profile in courage?

The sad truth is that each of these men is posing as a champion of liberty and the rule of law. They are all telling voters that they will go to DC and stand up for your rights. But despite the image they project, the reality is that they are afraid to even fill out a survey to let you know where they stand on fundamental issues. Half of the questions on that 44 question survey related to what it means to uphold ones oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. Like Pelosi, those are not the kind of questions they appear willing to answer.

You may be wondering what sort of questions would unnerve these guys so much that they would refuse voters the courtesy of answering them. Click on "Saturday" below and I will post the first half of the quiz, the one that they seemed most unwilling to complete. That is the part of the quiz that deals with the issue of what it means to uphold ones oath to defend the Constitution of the United States....

12 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

On many questions, credit was given for more than one answer....

Directions: Circle the answer which best describes your views. Pick only one answer. The Candidate should initial the bottom of each page.

Section One: Candidate Views on the Constitution

1. Which best describes your view of the Constitution of the United States?

A. It is the highest law of the land and powers not expressly given to the Federal Government in that document are prohibited to that government.
B. The Constitution is still binding, and everything the Federal government does
must have some reasonable connection to a power positively granted to it by the
Constitution.
C. It is an honored document in our history, but its role has largely been eclipsed by Court rulings and our changing societal imperatives.
D. The Constitution is a document of negative affirmation, that is, if it does not prohibit the Federal Government from doing something, then that should be interpreted as giving the Federal government Constitutional authorization to do it.
E. Though a useful reference, it is not strictly binding on us today.

2. The legitimate meaning of the Constitution is best determined by using the standard of…

A. Whatever the Court says it means today.
B. What can best serve our society today.
C. The original intent of its authors.
D. The expediency of the situation.
E. Viewing it as a “Living Document.”

3. Evaluating the Constitutionality of some government action…

A. …should be left exclusively to the courts.
B. …is the responsibility of every official who takes an Oath to defend the
Constitution.
C. …is the exclusive responsibility of the Federal government.
D. …is best left to experts.

4. The Ninth Amendment reads, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Pick the statement below which best reflects your view of the proper meaning of this amendment.

A. The Federal government is empowered to intervene against state governments to protect the rights of the people even if that power is not explicitly listed in the Constitution.
B. Federal power against the people is not just limited by the things listed in the
Constitution, but the people can possess other rights, not listed in the Constitution.
Which limit the power of the Federal government to intervene in their lives.
C. The Federal government is empowered to intervene against one group of citizens in favor of another group, even if that power is not explicitly listed in the Constitution.
D. This is where the right to health care and affordable housing can be found.

5. The Tenth Amendment reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively,
or to the people.” Pick the statement below which best reflects the proper meaning of
this amendment.

A. The Federal government can only exercise its just powers on areas where the
Constitution gives it specific authorization to do so. Otherwise, the power to perform a given function is to be kept at the state, or even individual, level.
B. The Federal government is to serve as a sort of “referee” to decide when a power is to be exercised by the states or when it is to be exercised by an individual person.
C. This clause must be considered in light of the body of court rulings which have expanded the role of the federal government over time.
D. While “A” is true, the general welfare clause gives Congress broad authority to act in almost any area.

7:58 AM, November 14, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Section Two: Questions on Article One, Section Eight.....

Questions for Section Two:

6. The phrase “for the common defense and general welfare” means

A. Congress has broad authority to do whatever it thinks is good for the common defense and the general welfare of this nation.
B. Congress can do whatever it thinks is good for the common defense general welfare of the nation, unless it is an action specifically prohibited to it elsewhere in the document.
C. Congress cannot do anything it thinks is good for the “common defense and general
welfare,” but is only authorized to do the 17 things which are listed below the clause
for “the common defense and general welfare.”
D. The powers associated with the clause are connected to the list below them, and anything Congress does must be reasonably connected to some item on that list.
E. That the courts have broad powers to determine the constitutionality of any action of
Congress.

7. When Congress is given the power to “regulate interstate commerce” this means…….

A. …if there is any conceivable connection between an activity and interstate
commerce then Congress may regulate that activity.
B. …if interstate commerce was involved in any prior step used to create some good or service, then Congress can regulate commerce in that good, service, or activity whether such commerce in that good occurs within or without the state in which it was created.
C. …if there is a reasonable connection between an activity and interstate commerce then Congress may regulate that activity.
D. …Congress may regulate an activity if the activity is interstate commerce.

8. If a firearm is manufactured and kept within the borders of a single state, Congress can legitimately use the authority of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution to….

A. Mandate the registration of that firearm or its owner in a federal register.
B. Mandate both the registration of that firearm and assess a fee for a person to possess that firearm.
C. In addition to (A) and (B), the Federal government can prohibit the manufacture or possession of that firearm.
D. Do none of the above, as there is no interstate commerce involved in the activity.

9. When the Constitution grants the federal government the power to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States” it demonstrates that….

A. Congress is here given no more authority to regulate intra-state commerce than it has to regulate the internal trade of another nation.
B. A good rule to use in determining whether or not Congress has the power to regulate an activity using the authority of this clause is to consider whether such regulation would be proper with regards to a foreign nation.
C. Both A and B are true.
D. The Founders were operating under a commerce model which has been made impractical in our world today.
E. Different standards can apply, even when things are grouped together in the text of the constitution.

8:00 AM, November 14, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Section Three: Judicial Usurpation

10. A member of the Federal court, including the Supreme Court, is appointed to office…

A. …until another administration comes to replace them.
B. …for life.
C. …during a period of good behavior.

11. Which of these acts by a member of the Supreme Court would you most consider bad behavior worthy of impeachment?

A. Soliciting a prostitute
B. Driving under the influence of alcohol.
C. Usurping the powers of Congress or undermining the freedoms of the people by issuing extra-constitutional rulings.
D. A justice fails to pay federal income taxes.

12. The phrase “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” is best restated by saying..

A. …felony or misdemeanor crime
B. …the phrase is deliberately left vague so as to give Congress broad latitude in determining what acts qualify for impeachment.
C. …whatever it may mean, it shows that the standard is that the member must at least commit a common crime that qualifies as a misdemeanor.
D. A “high crime” is not an ordinary criminal offense, but an abuse of official power even if not a crime, while by “misdemeanors” it is simply meant that public officials can be impeached even for consistently having a poor demeanor, again even if they have done nothing against the law for ordinary citizens.

13. What are some things that you as a member of Congress would be willing to do when the courts usurp authority which the Constitution either delegates to the Federal legislature or reserves to the states or to the people?

A. Impeach and/or convict the usurping judge(s).
B. Use the Constitutional power granted to Congress to determine the scope of a court’s authority to remove from the court’s purview any consideration of an issue where the courts have usurped.
C. Vote for a resolution condemning the courts for usurping the authority of the legislative branch, or of authority rightly left to the several states.
D. I am willing to do all of the above when a court usurps the authority of another branch of the federal government, or the authority of the several states.
E. I am not willing to do any of the above because I believe our rights are best protected by maintaining the independence of the judicial branch.

14. Which answer best describes your feeling towards the case, Roe v. Wade?

A. It is settled law, and should be upheld under the doctrine of Stare decisis
B. It is an example judicial over-reach and court usurpation of authority which constitutionally belongs to the several states, and should be overturned.
C. Constitutional or not, as a pro-life person I personally wish it were overturned.
D. As a member of the legislative branch, it is not my place to evaluate court decisions.
15. If you were a Senator voting to confirm a federal judge or Supreme Court justice, which would best describe your approach to using Roe in deciding whether or not to confirm a nominee?

A. I would use it as a litmus test in that any judicial nominee who did not think that Roe should be overturned does not understand the Constitution well enough to sit on a federal bench.
B. I would use it as a litmus test in that any judicial nominee who thinks that Roe should be overturned does not understand the Constitution well enough to sit on a federal bench.
C. Roe should not be used as a litmus test in either direction. A nominee’s views on the case should not be a deciding factor in their confirmation.
D. Not that I am for abortion, but because Roe is settled law, I would consider their support of it in the interests of maintaining Stare decisis a plus for their nomination.

8:02 AM, November 14, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

16. Which best describes your view toward the role of the doctrine of stare decisis?

A. Stability in law is so important that the doctrine should be adhered to even in cases where a questionable decision may contradict the Constitution, so long as the majority of the population is not concerned about it.
B. Stability in law is important, so I favor continuing the current policy of selectively using the doctrine of stare decisis in cases where the courts feel it should be applicable.
C. The doctrine should not be used as an excuse to uphold bad rulings.
D. The rights of the people are best preserved by being sure of what the law is. The people must know where they stand under the law, so maintaining this fundamental doctrine is probably the most important responsibility of the judiciary.

17. Imagine a scenario where a local official displays the Ten Commandments in the forum of the building where they work, and another scenario in which a school teacher uses a verse from the Bible to make a point in class. In both of these scenarios a federal court rules that these official’s actions are unconstitutional violations of the first amendment. Your view on the matter is closest to which of the following….

A. Since neither of them are Congress, and their actions are not mandated by law, the courts have erred. Neither act violates the constitution.
B. As much respect as I have for the scriptures, the rulings are correct because it is wrong for agents of the state to use scripture in the course of their duties. This is a violation of the rights of citizens who may practice other faiths or have no faith at all. These rights are for everybody.
C. The courts should have let the local official display the Ten Commandments, because aside from religion the commandments are an important part of our heritage, but were correct in ruling that the teacher’s actions in front of minors was an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
D. I personally disagree with the court’s decision, but this has been a long standing court doctrine and in the interests of stability in a diverse country I will respect the court’s decisions.

18. In the Kelo decision the courts essentially ruled that one group of private citizens, or a corporation, can use the government to force other citizens to transfer their private property to the first group via imminent domain. Which statement best describes your views of Kelo and the use of eminent domain?

A. The courts have ruled correctly, one or two people should not be able to stand in the way of a development that can provide increased revenues to the entire city.
B. I disagree with Kelo and would like to see it reversed, if it is even a federal issue. Eminent domain should never be used to transfer private property from one private group to another.
C. The courts ruled correctly for state or local governments, but the Federal government should not be permitted to use eminent domain in this manner.
D. I am uncomfortable with this ruling. Going forward, I think we should pass legislation that prevents any further erosion of property rights.

8:02 AM, November 14, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Section Four: Executive Branch Violations of the Constitution

19. An agency of the executive branch searching the phone records of American citizens without a warrant is permissible….

A. If the Administration puts the citizens on a list of “suspected domestic terrorists”.
B. If there is Congressional oversight of the program
C. Never, as it is a violation of the 4th amendment.
D. When the scope of data needed to secure our freedoms is so vast that it is impractical to get a warrant.

20. The government should be able to shut down or control access to the internet….

A. When Congress declares an emergency
B. When the President declares an emergency
C. Only after the Courts approve such a measure.
D. Never for qualified members of the media, because the First Amendment recognizes “freedom of the press.”
E. Never period, because the First Amendment’s guarantee of “freedom of the press” refers to a right possessed by all citizens, not merely those which the government designates as “journalists.”

21. Pick the view that best describes your view of what limits could legitimately be placed on political protests by agents of the Federal government or state and local authorities operating at the behest of Federal officials.….

A. Law enforcement should have the power to order protestors into designated protest areas away from the path to an event so that political leaders do not have to face angry protests.
B. Law enforcement should have the power to arrest protestors for “disorderly conduct” should they fail to disperse from a peaceful demonstration on demand.
C. Law enforcement should have the power to bar entrance to a public event someone that they have reason to believe will cause a disruptive protest once inside the event.
D. Law enforcement should be able, depending on the circumstances, to do any of the things listed above.
E. Law enforcement would be violating the first amendment by doing any of the above.

22. What is your stance on reviving the Fairness Doctrine?

A. I agree it should be revived to equalize ideas deemed controversial on radio and TV.
B. I believe it constitutes a violation of the First Amendment and would have an adverse affect on free market principles and therefore should never be revived.
C. I believe it has merit but needs to be revised for today's media climate.

8:03 AM, November 14, 2009  
Anonymous Jason Tolbert said...

Mark - What was the reason for having this be multiple choice? As a voter, I would rather hear the candidate's own words. And if I was a candidate, I would rather use my own words as well.

7:55 PM, November 14, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

"What was the reason for having this be multiple choice? .... if I was a candidate, I would rather use my own words "

Of course candidates would rather use their own words, that way they can leave themselves plenty of wiggle room. That way they can talk a lot and not actually say much. They can all imitate Mike Beebe and talk until they appear to be for all sides on every issue.

Yeah, they would rather use their own words, but not as a tool to help the voter know where they stand, but rather to avoid taking a stand. Almost all of those questions say something like "which answer BEST describes your views". Maybe none of them EXACTLY line up with it, but the questions don't try to force that on them. Even if none of the answers EXACTLY describes their view, one of them is going to be CLOSEST to their view. But it appears that they don't even want to be that clear with the voters on these fundamental issues.

Look, this little survey, which would probably take one of Jim Holt's teenage daughters 15 minutes to complete and get an "A" on, is just a jumping off point. If they want to add anything about any of these issues then great. Implying the survey is flawed because candidates can't use their own words is a false choice. They CAN use their own words to talk about these issues in venues beyond the survey. The survey is just a starting point to find out what side of some major lines they stand on. From there they can talk all the want about the details.

You think voters want to hear the candidates own words, so do I, but candidates are not saying anything of substance on most of these issues. They don't talk about it and they don't seem to want to talk about it. Every one of them from Nancy Pelosi to the Republican Senate candidates seem indignant at the very idea of telling us what they think it means to keep their oath to defend the Constitution. We don't know how they view the general welfare clause or the commerce clause. It is important to know.

We can't know what the issues of the day will be two years from now, but if we understand how the candidate thinks, what their principles are on the role and limits of the federal government, then we can judge how they will react to yet unknown problems.

Look Jason, and this is very personal to you so maybe I should email this next part, but all of us bloggers have got to figure out if we are going to operate like real journalists or like cheerleaders. The reason we have a market niche is because the dominant media is so biased. They fawn over their favorites and unfairly attack those they dislike. People got tired of the bias and started looking for a place they could just get the facts so they could make up their own minds. We have to decide if we are going to be the other side of the same twisted coin as the old media or are we going to try to be what journalists are supposed to be?

YOU ARE THE MAN with the flip camera plan. Go ahead and pick a couple of what you think are the most critical questions on this list and ask them of the candidates, and then after they have answered allow them to elaborate in their own words.

5:36 AM, November 15, 2009  
Anonymous c.b. said...

Right on, Mark!!
This post & the subsequent explanation are excellent. It is unimaginable that a candidate, let alone one that calls themself a republican, would have a problem answering a survey such as this one.

BTW
I also received a call yesterday from the healthcare push-pollers.... if I'm not mistaken they really did claim the current bill would revitalize my sex life. That and more for free with no cost to anybody!!!
It's easy to see how they get the answers they want from the average, not-so-plugged-in-joe the way they word the questions..... "Should the senate be allowed to debate the bill?" or "Should senators be allowed to vote on the bill?". Most people don't have a clue what they are really asking there & it seems so unreasonable to say they couldn't even vote on it......

6:24 AM, November 15, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since this issue is being aired out on a blog rather than within the committee it should be aired out in, I feel an obligation to respond on behalf of the Benton County Tea Party Committee and the candidates. As chairman of the Benton County Tea Party Committee there are some material inaccuracies in Mark's comments. Regarding the return of the questionnaires, he stated that only Fred Ramey had responded in time. That is inaccurate. I had all but one of the questionnaires in my office by November 11. The questionnaire sent out had a cover letter under my name but without my knowledge or permission. The return address was also to someone I didn't know. The candidates assumed from the cover letter that I was the one who originated the questions and I was to be the recipient of the answers. Since I didn't know what the contents of the cover letter were or who the return addressee was, I had the candidates send them to me either by snail mail or by PDF. The forum was cancelled by Nov. 11 so there has been no need to release them to anyone else. However, they are all in my possession.
Regarding the release of the individual questionnaires to the public, there was a tremendous amount of discussion in the Washington and Benton County Tea Parties over even using a questionnaire of this nature, much less releasing each candidate's questionnaire to the public. The choice and wording of the questions was viewed as subjective as well as the scoring. There was also mention of the fact that some of the questions are under review now at governmental levels and open to interpretation as well. The concern among the candidates was not with answering the questions for us, but in having some of the answers taken out of context by the Lincoln campaign and used in the general election. Unfortunately, cyber intrigue exists and is a reality we must all be concerned about and deal with. The ability to take an answer and distort it for political purposes happens every day in campaigns. It would serve no purpose to give the liberal community ammunition and lose the election next fall.
Another inaccuracy is the statement that Curtis Coleman refused to return his questionnaire unless we agreed not to release it to the public. I had several conversations with Curtis and he never said anything like this. Some other candidates did, but he was not one of them. Again, there were varying levels of concern among all of the candidates regarding the nature of the questions and the scoring of the questionnaire. With the exception of Mark, both Tea Party committees were in agreement that the individual questionnaires should not be released to the public.
There were a number of other questions regarding this issue, but these are the primary ones. If the readers want more information, they can contact someone in the Benton or Washington County Tea Party committees. The tragedy of this situation is that the election of a conservative constitutionalist is of paramount importance. How to go about it is the main question. Skewering potential candidates who can win this race is not profitable.

6:45 PM, November 15, 2009  
Anonymous Straight-Talking Mark said...

I had all but one of the questionnaires in my office by November 11.

.....who knew? You did not inform the executive committee that you had them but did tell them you were going to "dig your heels in" against sharing the candidates answers with the membership. So how is sending them only to someone who vows never to reveal them different from not sending them in? It's politics as usual, trying to make something of a distinction without a difference.

The questionnaire sent out had a cover letter under my name but without my knowledge or permission. The return address was also to someone I didn't know. ..... Since I didn't know what the contents of the cover letter were or who the return addressee was, I had the candidates send them to me either by snail mail or by PDF.


It seems there are some things that you didn't know, even though you were told them. None of this was kept from you, you were the one withholding information from us. You intercepted the survey results in collusion with some of the candidates who did not want to go on the record with the answers to these questions. Why? A good guess would be in order to hide the results from the membership.


The choice and wording of the questions was viewed as subjective as well as the scoring. There was also mention of the fact that some of the questions are under review now at governmental levels and open to interpretation as well.

That's right, and the grassroots want to know what the candidate's interpretations are. And the vague accusation of "subjectivity" could be leveled at about anything. It's what they say when nothing else bad can be said.

The concern among the candidates was not with answering the questions for us, but in having some of the answers taken out of context by the Lincoln campaign and used in the general election.

So what can't be used out of context? Are they to reveal almost nothing of substance out of fear that it will be used out of context? People are SICK of politicians like that. When Lincoln answers the questions and tells us what SHE thinks the better answers are then she has something to talk about- not that anyone can believe a word she says anyway.

Hey, the questions are right here for people to read and judge for themselves if they are any good or not. My guess is that most readers and members of the Tea Party would like to know the answers to those questions.

8:45 PM, November 15, 2009  
Anonymous Straight-Talking Mark said...

Another inaccuracy is the statement that Curtis Coleman refused to return his questionnaire unless we agreed not to release it to the public. I had several conversations with Curtis and he never said anything like this. Some other candidates did, but he was not one of them

Yet you told me that you promised him that no one would ever see the thing and went to our scorer's house to get his package as soon as it came in. Why did you make that guarantee to him if he did not request it? Was it out of the blue? Is he willing to let the people know what his answers are then?

With the exception of Mark, both Tea Party committees were in agreement that the individual questionnaires should not be released to the public.

No vote on this issue was ever taken by the Benton County Tea Party. The Washington County Tea Party, who were invited to co-sponsor with us, gave us a series of non-negotiable demands four days before the event was supposed to go down, the top one being that the individual answers would not be revealed. I thought that was a pretty chicken-scat thing to do then and I still think it is now.

The survey was that of Benton County, not Washington County. With our "partners" pulling that on us on top of everything else, most of the committee got understandably spooked and voted to pull the plug on the event.

That does NOT mean that the BCTP Executive Committee ever made a decision to suppress the answers to those candidate surveys. That was a decision that you made unilaterally without authorization. The committee voted and re-voted to make submission of the surveys a condition of attendance at the event. It was only after that last vote that you said you were going to "dig your heels in" about releasing the candidate's answers. I was for releasing them, why else collect the information? Until you said that it never even occurred to me that we would create, mail out, and collect the things if we were not also going to report to our members how the candidates answered.

I may have lost that vote if it was taken and I may not have. The point is that the vote was never taken.

8:45 PM, November 15, 2009  
Anonymous disappointed said...

Wow, so we were just supposed to wait until the chairman (who I don't know) decides which candidate is most constitutional, and then all work to get him elected? That is NOT what I signed up for! I thought this is a watchdog group that will hold elected officaials accountable even before they are elected. My bad. I hope someone else will ask theses questions, and let us know the answers. I'd like the opportunity to decide for myself.

I wanted transparency AND constitutionality in my elected leaders, and that includes in the BCTP. Seems like that's too much to ask from the chairman, anyway.

6:30 AM, November 16, 2009  

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