Archive for January, 2012
January 24th, 2012 at 2:52 pm
The Nub of Romney’s Problem
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Writing today in Politico, Reagan biographer (and now Newt Gingrich chronicler) Craig Shirley gets to the very heart of the difficulty Mitt Romney faces in trying to persuade a Republican electorate desperate for an epochal shift in a party that they (rightly) perceive to have been insufficiently inattentive to limited government:

The former Bain Capital chief is the elitist heir to Rockefeller and the malapropistic heir to Ford and George H. W. Bush. Watching Ford speak extemporaneously was like watching a drunk cross an icy parking lot — and the same can be said for the exuberantly monosyllabic man from Massachusetts…

No one goes around calling themselves a Nixon Republican or a Ford Republican or a Bush Republican. But plenty now proudly call themselves Goldwater Republicans and Reagan Republicans.

One need not share Shirley’s enthusiasm for Gingrich to recognize the sagacity of his diagnosis of Romney. It’s not that conservatives don’t want a manager. It’s just that they want so much more. At this moment in our history — when all sense of principled restrictions on the power of the federal government seem to be eroding — they want someone to draw a line in the sand. Convincing conservative voters that he’s the man for that job is probably beyond Mitt Romney’s ability. To remain a serious candidate, however, he’ll at least have to convince them that he’s not a closet sympathist for their ideological adversaries within the party.

January 24th, 2012 at 2:49 pm
Newt the Anti-Racist

At The American Spectator, I defend Newt Gingrich from scurrilous leftist charges that he is appealing to racist sentiments. Yet even though it is already a long post (please do read it), there is more to be said.

It is this: Have you ever noticed how seldom it is that conservatives ever actually say anything connecting food stamps or welfare with blacks — but how often it is that any time liberals hear those words, they immediately think that it is blacks who are being referred to?

At best, this is liberal paternalism in action. Worse, it could be the same thing that motivates racial preferences and other, similar liberal nostrums: namely, the assumption by the left that black Americans can’t be expected to be successes unless government helps them. It is an assumption that seems only to be applied to black people. It is a flat-out wrong assumption. But it almost always comes from the left, not the right.

In reality, there is no racial component to food stamps. It is shameful to think there is. The shame should be borne by those who do: namely, American liberals.

January 23rd, 2012 at 9:12 pm
Mapping Obama’s Energy Winners & Losers

A funny thing happens when you overlay two of President Barack Obama’s recent energy proclamations onto a 2008 electoral map: You find out just how political is his decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline and embrace natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation.

Here’s a map of the Keystone XL project.  And this is a map of the 2008 presidential election.  Note that the path of Keystone XL runs from Canada directly south through six states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.  All of these states voted for John McCain in 2008.  (Incidentally, not even a sideline to Obama’s Illinois during the pipeline’s initial phase could placate the anti-fossil fuel President.)

Now look at this map of the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation that the Obama White House now says would be a great place to start drilling for America’s energy future.  It touches vast swaths of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, with a large portion covering West Virginia.  Obama won New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio in 2008, and will need to do so again in 2012 to stay in the Oval Office.

As I said in my column last week, expect to hear Obama make the pitch that natural gas from Marcellus Shale is the new way forward as a way to placate blue collar energy workers in states he needs to maintain – and in the case of West Virginia, possibly pick up.  (Reports are coming in that the President will devote a significant portion of his State of the Union Address to promoting domestic natural gas production.)

It’ll be a tough sale.  Obama’s EPA is trying to regulate the West Virginia coal industry out of existence, while working class voters are rightfully suspicious of a President who promises everything from expanded offshore drilling to solar powered miracles (Solyndra, anyone?), only to be exposed as a fraud.  Natural gas may be the next big thing, but it won’t mean anything to a coal worker out of work because his industry went out of business thanks to Obama’s latest round of picking winners and losers.

The big question is: Will the GOP be able to turn Obama’s politicization of America’s energy future into an articulate appeal for an all-of-the-above approach?

January 23rd, 2012 at 4:35 pm
1,000 Days Without a Budget
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Believe it or not, that’s the remarkable reality we’ll be facing when Barack Obama takes to the podium to deliver his State of the Union address tomorrow night: nearly three years wherein the federal government — the largest distributor of funds on the planet — has operated without a budget. That’s a failure that deserves widespread public attention. Happily, the GOP — which usually can be counted on to bobble these kinds of communications opportunities — is doing a serviceable job of highlighting this ignominious milestone:

January 23rd, 2012 at 2:52 pm
THIS WEEK’s RADIO SHOW LINEUP: CFIF’s Renee Giachino Hosts “Your Turn” on WEBY Radio 1330 AM
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Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 (CST)/5:00 pm (EST):  Megan Brown, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP — United States Supreme Court’s October 2011 Term and Hosanna-Tabor case on First Amendment rights of religious groups;

4:30 (CST)/5:30 pm (EST):  Margaret Hoover, Fox News contributor and author — South Carolina and Florida primaries, and American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives can save the Republican Party;

5:00 (CST)/6:00 pm (EST):  Ashton Ellis, Contributing Editor at CFIF — Keystone Pipeline Debacle;  and

5:30 (CST)/6:30 pm (EST):  Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author — Economic policy, and How Obama’s Gender Policies Undermine America.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

January 23rd, 2012 at 10:49 am
Iron Lady Lacks Substance

James Bowman’s review today, at the American Spectator, of Iron Lady, the Meryl Streep movie about Margaret Thatcher, is right on target. He complains that the movie lingers (and lingers and lingers and lingers) over an almost entirely fictional account of Lady Thatcher in her dotage (yes, she has a form of dementia now, but the film invents its manifestations from thin air), while showing very little of her actual career in public life. Indeed, the entire period from the Falklands War to the end of the Cold War (nine years) is disposed of via a montage that lasts all of about 45 seconds, or maybe a minute. We see plenty of flashbacks of her showing her iron, but very, very little that indicate what she is showing her iron about. As Bowman writes, the producers have made “a political movie from which the politics has been extracted as a taxidermist draws out the brain of an animal he is stuffing through its nose. If there were any politics in it, they would have had to pick a side and portray Margaret Thatcher as essentially right or essentially wrong, so offending a significant portion of their potential audience who are, more than 30 years later, still passionately committed to one view or the other.

But this is foolish. They still could have avoided taking sides while portraying a lot more of the events of her career from a basically neutral standpoint. This isn’t journalism, of course, but even today there are good journalists who show that an even-handed neutrality in reporting can avoid betraying any bias while still portraying events in an interesting, dramatic (but not dramatized), even gripping manner. If print journalists can do this, it should be even easier for film-makers to do so.

For instance, a film-maker need evince no position on Thatcher’s philosophy in order to have Streep-as-Thatcher recreate the famous phone call in which Thatcher told the elder Bush to not “go wobbly” against Saddam Hussein. One need not agree with Thatcher’s support of Ronald Reagan’s hard line in the Cold War to show her making a speech in support of deploying mid-range missiles in Europe. And so on. Plenteous drama is achievable without necessarily taking sides. But the film-makers do none of this. As a result, they take the remarkable life of an indomitable lady and turn it into a series of brief flashbacks supporting the story of an almost pathetically confused old dame. Again, go back and read Bowman’s review. Good stuff.

January 20th, 2012 at 5:21 pm
Everything That’s Wrong About the Keystone XL Pipeline Decision in One Paragraph
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This insight, courtesy of Warren Meyer writing in Forbes, tells you everything you need to know about why the Obama Administration’s decision to block the Keystone XL Pipeline is misbegotten:

Some would argue that [the pipeline’s] opponents aren’t anti-energy, they just want to shift energy use from fossil fuels to “green” energy like wind and solar.  This is either disingenuous or unbelievably naive. The Keystone XL pipeline would have single-handedly carried more energy to the United States than the sum of all the green energy projects funded by the Obama Administration. And it would have done so entirely with private  funds rather than the Administrations increasingly ill-fated and ham-handed attempts at venture capitalism with taxpayer funds. The fact of the matter is that, for the foreseeable future, opposing fossil fuels is equivalent to opposing energy use.

That, my friends, is the nub of the issue. Liberal environmentalists — those same individuals that sneeringly deride their opponents as “anti-science” — can’t come to grips with the empirical reality: there are conventional energy sources that work and “alternative energy” sources that are viable only in the more fevered recesses of their imaginations. The greens can deny that reality all they want, but they won’t be able to deny the subsequent consequences: higher energy prices and lower economic well-being. That’s a very high price to pay for a sense of moral superiority.

January 20th, 2012 at 5:01 pm
Former ACU Pres: Newt Could Blow Us Up (Or Words to That Effect)

Mickey Edwards, former chairman, American Conservative Union:
“To describe Gingrich as ‘volatile’ is like describing Picasso as somebody who liked to draw.”

“[T]here are those who fear for the country if he were ever to become president.”

Wow, tough stuff. Surprised it didn’t get more play when it came out a month ago….

January 20th, 2012 at 1:31 pm
Holder’s Fast and Furious Scapegoat Fights Back

In what Fox News calls “the first big break in what has been a unified front in the [Eric Holder’s Justice Department’s] defense of itself in the [Fast and Furious] gun-running scandal,” the number two DOJ official in Arizona is claiming through his lawyer that Holder & Co. are making him the fall guy.

“Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly,” the letter to Issa says.

Read the entire article here.

January 20th, 2012 at 1:00 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  Will the Tea Party End in 2012?
Ellis:  Obama Plays Politics with America’s Energy Future
Hillyer:  The Next President’s Agenda

Podcast:  The Truth About Rogue Websites Legislation
Jester’s Courtroom:  Man Convicted of DUI Sues Victim’s Family

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

January 20th, 2012 at 12:21 pm
Obama’s Keystone XL Folly Puts Swing States in the Mix

From BusinessWeek:

President Barack Obama’s rejection of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline permit exposed a split in a core Democratic constituency and handed Republicans a new line of election-year attack.

Unions representing construction workers condemned the move while labor groups including the United Steel Workers, the United Auto Workers and the Service Employees International Union joined with environmental advocates in saying they support Obama’s decision. It also triggered swift criticism from congressional Republicans and the party’s presidential candidates.

Expect Republicans to run ads targeting blue collar workers in Rust Belt swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio where ties to manufacturing jobs run deep.  When Obama ran against Hillary Clinton in 2008 he consistently lost the white working class vote for stances like picking sky-is-falling environmentalists over John and Jane hardhat.

Dissatisfaction among traditionally Democratic blue collar voters toward Obama has been building for months due to political decisions that – as discussed in my column this week – kill unionized jobs in coal and oil, but interestingly not natural gas.  Obama’s turn away from blue collar voters has been met with a renewed emphasis on ginning up votes among other core Democratic constituencies like recent college graduates (hello, Occupiers!) and other gentry liberals.

But the strategy of maximizing votes in liberal enclaves like college towns and deep blue coastal states that Obama would win anyway doesn’t quite add up for one simple reason: the Electoral College – not the popular vote – elects the President.  Even if Obama gets a larger share of liberals in blue states like California he still nets only 54 electoral votes.  But if he fails to connect with everyday Democrats in swing states in Ohio and Pennsylvania that see their President willfully killing jobs they’d otherwise have, he’ll move entire states into the Republican column.

This kind of divide-and-conquer strategy looks like a recipe for defeat.  Then again, from my perspective, I couldn’t ask for a better campaign strategy.  (Unless, of course, this scenario occurs.)

January 20th, 2012 at 9:25 am
Podcast: The Truth About SOPA and PIPA
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Timothy Lee, Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs at CFIF, corrects the record on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), and explains the urgent need for congressional legislation to crack down on foreign rogue websites dedicated to the theft of American intellectual property.

Listen to the interview here.

January 19th, 2012 at 1:00 pm
The Ethics of ABC…. Really, Not So Bad

There are all sorts of debates out there about the ethics of ABC airing the interview with Marianne Gingrich. Here’s my take:

Here’s what journalistic ethics say: IF, repeat IF, it is legitimate news, and IF, repeat IF, you have crossed all your Ts and dotted all your ‘I’s, meaning you have checked out the accuracy of whatever can be checked out (did Newt make a speech in Erie the day after Marianne’s mother’s birthday? Was it in significant part about family values, as she claimed in the interview?, etc.), THEN, once you have your story nailed down, you do NOT “manage” the news by trying to rush it, or on the contrary to hold it, because there is an election; instead, you go with it at the earliest time you can go with it logistically, regardless of outside considerations. Otherwise, you could just as easily be accused of deliberately holding off the airing of an otherwise valid interview in order to affect the result of a primary. Think of it this way: If there were no Drudge to force ABC’s hand, and if you do not air it until after the primary, then you have DENIED the voters of South Carolina the knowledge that many of them would have wanted to have before they cast their votes. THAT, I dare say, is just as much an interference with the election as it is to air the thing now.

Again, the key question is whether it is legitimate news in the first place — a question which has nothing to do with its timing, and everything to do with journalistic standards of accuracy, completeness, relevance, fairness, etc.

I don’t like these sorts of stories about private lives, unless there is a clear relevance for public policy or for character as shown via particularly egregious hypocrisy. And of course I haven’t seen the whole interview, although sources tell me lots about it. But if ABC has made the judgment that it is indeed legitimate news, then I completely and utterly support its decision to air it now rather than to hold it until after the primary vote. Frankly, it is the only ethical decision the network could have made. If the interview should air, it should air now rather than later. Period.

January 19th, 2012 at 9:12 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Letter of Intent
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

January 18th, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Romney Can’t Make the Moral Case for Capitalism

Will someone please tell the Wall Street Journal editorial page that Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum?

Over the past week there’s been a raft of handwringing at the conservative publication over Romney’s inability to make “the moral case” for all kinds of economic activity, such as private equity and capitalism’s risk and reward system.  Yet since Romney hasn’t risen to the challenge of defending the free market, surrogates have stepped forward in droves.  Two recent examples include a guest column that ran yesterday headlined “Newt’s Bain Opportunism is Mitt’s Opportunity,” calling on Romney to “make a moral case for free market capitalism.”  One of today’s editorials, “Mitt Romney’s 15%,” thinks the candidate’s disclosure of his tax rate gives him “the opportunity to make the moral and practical case for lower rates and fewer loopholes.”

The Journal and other economics-only conservatives are demanding too much from Romney.  He’s not a moralist.  As this revealing bio-piece makes clear, those who know him consider Romney a relativist.  Members of his church came to a similar conclusion when he challenged Ted Kennedy in 1994.  Remember, the defining characteristic of a relativist is that he doesn’t believe in absolutes.  For example, the idea that government should never force its citizens to purchase a product against their will…

Simply put, the reason Romney won’t make the moral case for capitalism is because he can’t make it.  It’s just not the way he approaches decisions in business or politics.  Like other New England Republicans, he sounds like a fiscal conservative, but he’s always willing to increase spending, and pass more regulations.  (See RomneyCare, the Salt Lake City Olympic Games bailout, etc.)  His history shows that he opts for what works instead of what’s right.

If the Wall Street Journal and its guest columnists are chagrined that Romney is unable or unwilling to defend beliefs they hold dear, then maybe it’s time they lower the temperature on the rest of the conservative movement who have been expressing the same disappointment with Romney since 2008.

January 17th, 2012 at 4:03 pm
Monday Night’s Debate

Troy, Ashton, Tim, Renee, Jeff…. any replies to this would be welcome. Anyway, here’s my take on last night’s debate, and the state of the race, from as neutral an analytical perspective as possible:

HUGE LOSER: Ron Paul finally marginalized himself irretrievably, especially in a pro-military state like South Carolina, with his lengthy diatribes basically positing that the Taliban weren’t all that bad and that bin Laden deserved a trial, or something like that. Plus, he wandered and meandered and sounded more shrill than usual. A horrible performance for him.

LOSER: Mitt Romney had his worst debate performance by far. He started okay and ended okay, both times in exchanges mainly with Gingrich, over the roles and behavior of Super PACs. But in between he was flustered, off his game, a bit stumbling, nervous-looking — and completely bumfuddled by Rick Santorum’s cross-examination about felon voting rights. Just when he had a chance to put the race away for good, he let others back in the game.

SLIGHTLY HELPED HIMSELF: Rick Perry has made himself almost irrelevant by his bad earlier debates and weak finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Last night, though, he was on his game, even if his substance was, well, not really substantial. Michelle Bachmann would have blown him out the door for saying we should completely eliminate foreign aid, because of course some of that aid actually “buys” for us essential things like cooperation on intelligence, plus military bases, etcetera. What he said about Turkey being virtually a terrorist state was absurdly overstated. But he played very well to whatever purely populist voting bloc is out there, and he did a great job blasting the Obama administration on its “war” on South Carolina over voter ID laws. Overall, if Perry had done this well in the first 10 debates, he might not be dominating, but he would still be very much in the mix in the polls.

BRAVURA LEMONADE-MAKING FROM LEMONS: Rick Santorum only got one question that actually played into his “wheelhouse,” as the expression goes. Almost every time he was given a chance to talk, it was on a subject that wouldn’t ordinarily play well for him. For that reason, he probably only helped himself a little more than he was hurt last night — but if he had not had his “A” game, it could have been a disaster. For instance, he was pressed on his truly wrongheaded vote years ago to automatically restore voting privileges (in federal elections only) to felons once they have fully satisfied all parole and probation requirements. On the merits, I think this is a horrible position. Most conservatives agree. Nothing should be automatic for some former felony inmates; full privileges should come only after careful review by a board convened for that purpose. On the other hand, Santorum always has had this subtext thing going of the Catholic social-gospel, people-can-be-redeemed-and-forgiven variety. It speaks well of him as a human being. This long-ago vote was his way of saying, hey, if you’ve fully paid your legal debt to society, you again become a full member of the society.

Conservatives don’t agree. Conservatives think some crimes are virtually unforgivable, and, moreover, that if they are to be forgiven, it should not be automatic, just by jumping through enough hoops with the passage of time. The good news is that such a proposal will never be politically popular enough to pass Congress, so people inclined toward Santorum but who don’t like this old vote of his shouldn’t worry about it being a serious effort.

But I digress. Somehow, Santorum actually won, big, in his exchange on the issue with Romney. Santorum correctly and effectively blasted the Romney super-PAC for falsely making it appear as if Santorum favors allowing current inmates to vote. Then he hit Romney from the right again (and from the standpoint of whether Romney is either courageous enough or competent enough) because Romney did nothing even to attempt to change Massachusetts law that allows felons to vote even before completing parole and probation. In short, Santorum turned a negative into a slight political positive overall, if only because the bigger impression wasn’t that he is a “squish” on felons, but that he is more honest, more thoughtful, more fair, and tougher than Mitt Romney. Santorum also gave really solid answers on gun rights and on the connection between marriage (or its lack) and poverty. If the debate had been a two-man affair between him and Romney, Santorum would have scored an enormous victory.

BIG WINNER, BUT WITH AN ASTERISK: Newt Gingrich’s performance was a perfect reverse-image of Romney’s. Whereas Romney did pretty well on the opening and closing questions but stumbled in the middle, Gingrich started and ended poorly but in the middle had what most pundits are calling the single best debate performance of this endless nomination season. I wonder, though, if it was a vote-winning performance. In an earlier debate, for instance, my wife astutely said that with detailed answers Rick Santorum was “winning minds without winning votes” (or as I put it, impressing without “connecting” with voters); here, I think Gingrich won visceral reactions without changing minds. Here’s the thing: by now, everybody expects some excellent debate moments from Gingrich. People know he can hit tee balls out of the park. But is that still enough to gain their allegiance? People have seen him all over the map on so many issues, and have seen him so desperate and mean about Bain and other anti-Romney jeremiads, that now they want to see something from him that touches their hearts, not just their viscera, and that tells them he can actually be a steady enough performer (not just an occasionally exciting or explosive one) in a full general-election campaign.

In that light, it struck me that Gingrich really didn’t look good, particularly at the beginning of the debate. He looked a bit pale; he looked grim; he looked particularly fat of body but oddly thin of face; and he didn’t look friendly. Indeed, I think he looked, overall, unappealing, unhealthy, and unlikeable. And even when he was destroying the premised of Juan Williams’ questions, there was a weirdly off-putting edge to him. He was too “hot” (as opposed to figuratively “cool”) for TV, in both tone and visage. It was almost as if he was making one last hurrah before another bomb, a big one, drops on him. It was as if he was in a particularly foul mood because he knows his goose is cooked, for some reason or another.

So, while I concur that Gingrich absolutely dominated the middle portions of debate, with effective and popular positions and explanations, I’m not sure if it will translate into major new poll support. Just a hunch. But it was a hell of a show.

January 17th, 2012 at 10:42 am
Newt’s Criticism of Romney Would’ve Disqualified Ronald Reagan
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Increasingly desperate, Newt Gingrich has hurled a spaghetti bowl of slurs against Mitt Romney in the hope that something will stick.  Curiously, one strand includes the following quote to a South Carolina audience:  “Why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama?”

That illogic, however, could have just as easily been used against Ronald Reagan in 1980 by his own Republican opponents.  After all, Reagan lost the 1976 Republican nomination race to Gerald Ford, who obviously went on to lose to Carter.  “Why,” they might have asked, “would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Jimmy Carter?”  At this point, Newt’s attacks resemble a food fight more than principled defense of his own candidacy.

January 16th, 2012 at 6:36 pm
This is the Face of Media Bias
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This is no joke. It looks like Newsweek has allowed its collective editorial id to design the cover of the magazine’s newest issue.

Remember, there was a time when this was one of America’s newsmagazines of record. Not coincidentally, that was a time before Andrew Sullivan’s feature-length slanders were considered cover material. It’s becoming clearer every day why Newsweek only managed to fetch $1 when it went up for sale in 2010. Also becoming clearer? It was overpriced.

January 16th, 2012 at 2:06 pm
Eric Holder’s Rank Dishonesty Continues

Politico has the story of Holder again crying wolf (actually, it’s worse than crying wolf) and playing the race card (sorry: more accurately, it’s worse than that; it’s flat-out race-hustling) about voter ID laws and other legitimate efforts to stop the voter fraud which has become such a staple of the deliberate efforts of pro-Democratic interest groups. This is especially a large issue in South Carolina, where the Justice Department has blocked a voter-ID law even though it tracks laws in Indiana and Georgia that the Supreme Court already has ruled are perfectly allowable under the Constitution. This is, as has become the norm under Holder, nothing less than sheer lawlessness from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

These people do not care about what the Constitution and laws actually say; they merely care about twisting the law to gain power. They are flagrantly anti-republican (small ‘r’) and anti-constitutionalist, and they must be stopped.

January 16th, 2012 at 9:40 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama’s Dream
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.