Christine O’Donnell and the First Amendment – she was right!

The popular narrative both the mainstream media and the Democratic Party is that Christine O’Donnell is a dunce. She doesn’t know the issues, she is prone to gaffes and she’s not terribly bright. So you can imagine the excitement when O’Donnell appeared to not know what is in the First Amendment.

The problem with the narrative is that O’Donnell is right.

O’Donnell made her alleged misstatement in a much-publicized YouTube video of a debate with her opponent. Fast forward the video to 2:45 and watch the room full of law students burst out laughing when she asks “where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?”

The answer: separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. You will not find the text “separation of church and state” anywhere in the Constitution, especially not in the First Amendment. You will find the Establishment Clause, which forbids Congress from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” which is not the same thing.

Where it could be argued O’Donnell made her error is near the end of the video at 7:05, when her opponent again mentioned the Establishment Clause and she responded “that’s in the First Amendment?” While she could have articulated her point more clearly, O’Donnell focused on the argument that “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution. (And, again, it is not there.) From the context, O’Donnell is asking if “separation of church and state” itself is in there, not whether the Establishment Clause is in there.

It will be very interesting to see how this race turns out. With less than a week to go, O’Donnell certainly has an uphill battle to win this seat. Even though the polls do not favor her, everything will depend on turnout. Conservatives need to get out and vote for O’Donnell if for no other reason than it would be an embarrassment to the party establishment that has demeaned and attacked her for months.

See previous posts here, here and here.

Red China forces woman to abort at 8 months

This is sick and depraved:

A pregnant woman in south China was detained, beaten and forced to have an abortion just a month before her due date because the baby would have violated the country’s one-child limit, her husband said Thursday.

Construction worker Luo Yanquan said his wife was taken kicking and screaming from their home by more than a dozen people on Oct. 10 and detained in a clinic for three days by family planning officials, then taken to a hospital and injected with a drug that killed her baby.

Family planning officials told the couple they weren’t allowed to have the child because they already have a 9-year-old daughter, Luo said.

Source: CBS News.

Remember, Baron Hill voted for Most Favored Nation trading status for Red China. Shame on Baron Hill.

The Community Reinvestment Act, revisited

I have been personally attacked for bringing up the Community Reinvestment Act in my last post, specifically regarding banks being pressured to make loans to people who would not be able to pay them back.

Here the is documentation for that claim.

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) did the same thing with traditional banks. It encouraged banks to serve two masters — their bottom line and the so-called common good. First passed in 1977, the CRA was “strengthened” in 1995, causing an increase of 80% in the number of bank loans going to low- and moderate-income families.

Fannie and Freddie were part of the CRA story, too. In 1997, Bear Stearns did the first securitization of CRA loans, a $384 million offering guaranteed by Freddie Mac. Over the next 10 months, Bear Stearns issued $1.9 billion of CRA mortgages backed by Fannie or Freddie. Between 2000 and 2002 Fannie Mae securitized $394 billion in CRA loans with $20 billion going to securitized mortgages.

By pressuring banks to serve poor borrowers and poor regions of the country, politicians could push for increases in home ownership and urban development without having to commit budgetary dollars. Another political free lunch.

Source: Wall Street Journal, October 3, 2008

CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, often minorities living in unstable neighborhoods. That has provided an opening to radical groups like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to abuse the law by forcing banks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in “subprime” loans to often uncreditworthy poor and minority customers.

Any bank that wants to expand or merge with another has to show it has complied with CRA – and approval can be held up by complaints filed by groups like ACORN.

In fact, intimidation tactics, public charges of racism and threats to use CRA to block business expansion have enabled ACORN to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and contributions from America’s financial institutions.

Source: New York Post, September 29, 2008. (Hat tip to

Using provisions of a 1977 law called the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), Chicago ACORN was able to delay and halt the efforts of banks to merge or expand until they had agreed to lower their credit standards — and to fill ACORN’s coffers to finance “counseling” operations like the one touted in that Sun-Times article. This much we’ve known. Yet these local, CRA-based pressure-campaigns fit into a broader, more disturbing, and still under-appreciated national picture. Far more than we’ve recognized, ACORN’s local, CRA-enabled pressure tactics served to entangle the financial system as a whole in the subprime mess. ACORN was no side-show. On the contrary, using CRA and ties to sympathetic congressional Democrats, ACORN succeeded in drawing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the very policies that led to the current disaster.

Source: National Review, October 7, 2008

The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to “meet the credit needs” of “low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods.” Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans. The two government-chartered mortgage finance firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encouraged this “subprime” lending by authorizing ever more “flexible” criteria by which high-risk borrowers could be qualified for home loans, and then buying up the questionable mortgages that ensued.

Source: Boston Globe, September 28, 2008

“The private sector got us into this mess. The government has to get us out of it.” This is Barney Frank’s view of the current financial mess our country is in, and nothing could be further from the truth. Barney Frank has been a major supporter of every policy that got us into this mess, from the Community Reinvestment Act to President Clinton’s mandate for banks to extend a minimum number of “affordable loans.” Instead of blaming everything on the “Wall Street fat cats”, Barney Frank needs to be held responsible for his actions!

The mistakes did not stop at supporting these policies. After they were enacted and in place, Frank refused to admit that there was a problem. As Fannie and Freddie were taking on billions in subprime debt, Barney Frank continued to assure us that that there was no financial crisis and press for more affordable lending.

Source:, October 15, 2010

Previous sources already cited:

It all started, innocently enough, in 1994 with President Clinton’s rewrite of the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act.

Ostensibly intended to help deserving minority families afford homes — a noble idea — it instead led to a reckless surge in mortgage lending that has pushed our financial system to the brink of chaos.

Fannie and Freddie, the main vehicle for Clinton’s multicultural housing policy, drove the explosion of the subprime housing market by buying up literally hundreds of billions of dollars in substandard loans — funding loans that ordinarily wouldn’t have been made based on such time-honored notions as putting money down, having sufficient income, and maintaining a payment record indicating creditworthiness.

With all the old rules out the window, Fannie and Freddie gobbled up the market. Using extraordinary leverage, they eventually controlled 90% of the secondary market mortgages. Their total portfolio of loans topped $5.4 trillion — half of all U.S. mortgage lending. They borrowed $1.5 trillion from U.S. capital markets with — wink, wink — an “implicit” government guarantee of the debts.

Source: Investor’s Business Daily, September 22, 2008

Many monumental errors and misjudgments contributed to the acute financial turmoil in which we now find ourselves. Nevertheless, the vast accumulation of toxic mortgage debt that poisoned the global financial system was driven by the aggressive buying of subprime and Alt-A mortgages, and mortgage-backed securities, by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The poor choices of these two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) — and their sponsors in Washington — are largely to blame for our current mess.

How did we get here? Let’s review: In order to curry congressional support after their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac committed to increased financing of “affordable housing.” They became the largest buyers of subprime and Alt-A mortgages between 2004 and 2007, with total GSE exposure eventually exceeding $1 trillion. In doing so, they stimulated the growth of the subpar mortgage market and substantially magnified the costs of its collapse.

It is important to understand that, as GSEs, Fannie and Freddie were viewed in the capital markets as government-backed buyers (a belief that has now been reduced to fact). Thus they were able to borrow as much as they wanted for the purpose of buying mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Their buying patterns and interests were followed closely in the markets. If Fannie and Freddie wanted subprime or Alt-A loans, the mortgage markets would produce them.

Source: Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2008

The painful readjustments in the housing market are a direct result of failed government policies that fueled the housing bubble. A political bias that favored home ownership (through the tax code and programs such as the Community Reinvestment Act, coupled with the implicit — now explicit — federal guarantee of the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, led to a housing boom fueled by loans that were often not worth the paper they were written on. At the same time, ratings agencies, under the auspices of the SEC, vouched for the quality of these loans, allowing them to be bundled into new financial instruments and sold around the world. The Federal Reserve aided and abetted these distortions with loose monetary policies that distorted price signals, artificially boosted investments in the housing sector, and ultimately throughout the financial services sector as mortgages were securitized and repackaged for sale across the globe.

Despite the publicly voiced concerns of many of us — both in and out of government — about Fannie and Freddie, the GSEs’ defenders in Congress turned a blind eye to the inherent weaknesses in the system. The financial system held together as long as housing prices continued to increase. As the housing market weakened, it became evident that the value of mortgages underlying the new financial instruments was too low to meet the necessary financial obligations. As the true market value became evident, the market for these mortgage backed securities (originated by Fannie and Freddie) dried up as investors triggered a flight to safety. Considering the fact that many of these firms were leveraged by as much as 30-to-1, the retrenchment was severe.

Source: National Review, September 29, 2008

Bloomington debate: Baron Hill’s hypocrisy on display

Baron Hill’s hypocrisy was on display Monday night when he complained that there is “too much money in politics.” After all, this is the same man who took $2.15 million in donations in 2008, compared to $1 million for his opponent. There is too much money in politics, Baron? Then why did you raise twice as much as your opponent? Then, less than three days later, the DCCC and the SEIU announced they would be giving $588,395 to Hill. There is too much money in politics, Baron? Really?

Of course, hypocrisy is not anything new for Baron Hill, who boasted that he does not wear religion on his sleeve for political gain and then posted a video of him praying on his campaign website.

Hill also cried during the debate about independent expenditures. “Some have been spent already in the Ninth District against me quite frankly. And, you know, the poor and the helpless can’t compete against something like that,” Hill said.

Seriously, Baron? You, as an incumbent Congressman, are actually lumping yourself in with “the poor and the helpless” and crying that you cannot compete against outside interest groups running commercials against you?

Hill attacked the Supreme Court’s defense of free speech in January, which was expected. What was not expected was that “Libertarian” Greg Knott agreed with him. The First Amendment could not possibly be more clear when it says that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. The essence of philosophical libertarianism is support for constitutional rights and limited government, both of which were opposed by the faux “Libertarian” candidate. Clearly, there is no reason for philosophical libertarians to support Knott after this gaffe.

I was very pleased to hear Todd Young bring up the Community Reinvestment Act and the role it played in the 2008 economic collapse. There were a number of reasons for the banking crisis, but the role government played in pushing banks to give loans to people who were never going to be able to pay them back cannot be ignored.

Baron Hill also bragged about “PAYGO” rules implemented in the 1990’s but neglected to mention that it was the Republican Congress that presided over a balanced budget during that time. Democrats complained bitterly about “spending cuts” but by the year 2000 we had a $236 billion budget surplus. The last budget passed by the Democratic Congress in 1994 had a $163.9 billion budget deficit. Unfortunately, Republicans lost their way after George W. Bush was elected and abandoned fiscal restraint. I firmly believe Todd Young has learned from the mistakes of the past.

The incumbent’s record on the deficit is far from pristine, as Young pointed out that Baron Hill voted to suspend PAYGO rules 85% of the time. When you consider that the budget deficit was rapidly shrinking in 2006 and 2007 and only exploded after Baron Hill and Nancy Pelosi took over in January of 2007, Hill and the Democrats have very little room to brag about deficit reduction.

The choice we will make in 11 days could not possibly be clearer. We can continue with the failed policies of Baron Hill, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, with trillion-dollar budget deficits and 10% unemployment, or we can reform Washington with limited government policies that the 2010 freshman class will implement once the GOP takes over in November. While most people believe that the Republicans will take the House in 11 days, winning the Ninth District is nowhere near assured. We all need to get out and vote for Todd Young on November 2.

Monroe County Council funds felonies with tax dollars

Last week’s Monroe County Council meeting was a debacle, when the councilors voted to give $5,000 to the local Planned Parenthood branch. Charles Newman was absent, Marty Hawk had to leave the meeting early and Julie Thomas recused herself because she is on Planned Parenthood’s board of directors. This left Vic Kelson, Jill Lesh, Warren Henegar and Geoff McKim to vote on the funding package. Because only four councilors were voting, all four votes were needed to pass.

Naturally, it passed 4-0.

Even if I supported Planned Parenthood’s mission, I could not support their request. After all, Planned Parenthood’s most recent fiscal report states that the organization (the national office and all affiliates) took in over one billion dollars in revenue and had an organization-wide profit of $85,000,000. They clearly do not need a $5,000 grant from county government. They got it anyway.

The social services funding committee had about $250,000 in requests for funding, and about $95,000 to distribute. Giving $5,000 to an organization that does not need it and is swimming in cash is a slap in the face to the other organizations. Planned Parenthood has already demonstrated it has no respect for the other organizations, and now Lesh, Henegar, McKim and Kelson have as well. This is an insult to the social service funding process and the taxpayers who expect their money will be distributed in an effective manner.

When Planned Parenthood came to the city asking for a handout, the organization claimed that “it is estimated that 14,930 women between ages of 13 and 44 are in need of publicly-funded contraceptives.” This is very interesting, considering the relevant portion of the Indiana Code:

IC 35-42-4-3

Child molesting

Sec. 3. (a) A person who, with a child under fourteen (14) years of age, performs or submits to sexual intercourse or deviate sexual conduct commits child molesting, a Class B felony.


Why would 13 year old girls “need” publicly-funded contraceptives, considering it is a felony for anyone to have sexual relations with a 13 year old? These girls do not “need” contraceptives. What they need is for law enforcement to track down and punish the sexual predators who are abusing them. With this vote, the Monroe County Council has become a criminal organization. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Respect for authority is essential, even for pro athletes

“Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.” — Robert E. Lee

When I was in high school, the principal/coach had a consistent warning for the basketball team. “What those zebras say out there goes. If you argue with them, you sit.” We were required to present a good example on the court for other students, families in the stands, and the opposing team.

Contrast this to the griping and moaning you see in your average NBA game, where players constantly argue with officials over calls. It is almost expected that players will complain, which is why it came as such a shock when the NBA implemented new rules punishing players for complaining. (See here and here.) The players’ union is even threatening a lawsuit, an absurd overreaction that demonstrates how spoiled pro athletes are.

The rule change is clearly a necessary step, but the NBA is going about it the wrong way. Whether you like it or not, the NBA has created a culture of complaining that is not going to change overnight. In order to prevent the product from being harmed (and to prevent frustrated fans from walking away from what they believe to be over officiated games) this rule change should be implemented gradually. But it should be implemented.

NBA players are role models, positive or negative, to millions of children and young people. When fans see that disrespect for authority is accepted at the professional level, it teaches that it is OK to disrespect authority, on the basketball court or anywhere else. We live in a culture that hates authority, and to the extent that the NBA can avoid setting a bad example, that is a good thing.

There are referees who abuse their authority. Hue Hollins is probably the most infamous example, with his bad calls against the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs. Even in these cases, the players, owners and coaches should respect the office of referee. (The fans, who are not under the authority of the referees, are another matter entirely.) Those with concerns about the abuse of authority should direct those concerns through the proper channels and the grievance process, so they do not set a bad example by openly defying legitimate authority.

Extrajudicial assasinations of U.S. citizens: simply wrong

The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting the Obama Administration’s decision to target Anwar Al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen and militant Islamic cleric residing in Yemen. While I do not deny that Al-Aulaqi is an enemy of the United States, I am compelled to side with the ACLU in opposing a targeted assassination of an American citizen. This takes the War on Terror too far. In an October 8 press release, the ACLU wrote:

“If the government’s arguments were accepted, the current administration and every future administration would have unreviewable authority to carry out targeted killings of Americans deemed to be enemies of the state,” said Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU. “While that power would be limited to contexts of armed conflict, the government has argued that the armed conflict against al Qaeda extends everywhere, indefinitely. This is an extraordinary and unprecedented claim, and one that we urge the courts to reject unequivocally. The courts have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the government’s counterterrorism policies are consistent with the Constitution.”

The ACLU continued:

“While the administration has publicly declared global war powers to target and kill U.S. citizens and others wherever they may be, when it comes time to defend and explain its breathtaking claims in court, the administration dodges the issue and raises the specter of national security to persuade the court that it should not – indeed, cannot – inquire further, and to trust the executive,” said CCR attorney Pardiss Kebriaei. “The court should reject the notion that it has no role in determining the constitutional rights of a U.S. citizen and in defining the constitutional parameters of the president’s asserted power.”

See the full press release here.

If Al-Aulaqi is killed on the battlefield, that would be perfectly acceptable and I have no problem with his death. What I disagree with is a targeted extra-judicial assassination of a U.S. citizen. Whatever happened to hope and change, President Obama? What happened to the promise of respecting civil liberties and our core values as Americans?

If Al-Aulaqi is legally captured and convicted of a crime after a fair trial by a jury of his peers, then he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. What the government should not be permitted to do is assassinate him without judicial review and absent a criminal conviction. We can fight terrorists and respect civil liberties at the same time.

If we abandon our principles of due process and the rule of law simply because an extrajudicial assassination is more convenient, then we have given the terrorists exactly what they have been fighting to obtain for over 30 years. Every one of us will be in greater jeopardy, because once a precedent like this is established it is very difficult to roll it back. This will be used to further chip away at civil liberties and due process. That is frightening.

Should there be exceptions to the right to life?

The Patriot Majority PAC is running an ad against Sharron Angle regarding her “extreme” position on abortion. First, read the text of the interview from the Huffington Post, and then go watch the commercial.

The text is partially quoted below:

Stock: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let’s say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?

Angle: I think that two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. Well one girl in particular moved in with the adoptive parents of her child, and they both were adopted. Both of them grew up, one graduated from high school, the other had parents that loved her and she also graduated from high school. And I’ll tell you the little girl who was born from that very poor situation came to me when she was 13 and said ‘I know what you did thank you for saving my life.’ So it is meaningful to me to err on the side of life.

Clearly, the ad is at best misleading. Angle didn’t say that rape victims should “just make a lemon situation into lemonade” as the ad claims. Angle said that rape victims she counseled did do that. After Leftists howled in protest and when Andrew Breitbart posted an out-of-context clip of Shirley Sherrod, it is telling that a Leftist PAC is now pulling the same tactics. Where are the Leftists condemning the Patriot Majority?

Angle also didn’t explicitly say in that radio interview that she wanted to ban abortion in the case of rape and incest, and I’ve not been able to find anything that would indicate she has taken that position from a legislative standpoint. However, it is a reasonable claim to make, especially considering Angle’s statements about abortion in the “hard cases.”

This may be an “extreme” position when espoused by candidates for elective office who fear the political heat that comes with it, but this is not am unusual position within the pro-life community.

  • The American Life League argues that “It is discriminatory and untrue to say that everyone has a right to life except a child conceived by rape or incest.”
  • The National Right to Life Committee argues that “Subjecting (rape victims) to an abortion only compounds the initial violence of the rape. Only in this second tragedy, the woman becomes the aggressor against her own child.”
  • Human Life International also argues against abortion in the case of rape and incest. (See here and here.)

Look, we either believe the unborn baby is created in the image of God and therefore has a right to life or we do not. If we believe that the unborn child has a right to life, rape and incest are not valid reasons to allow for that child to be killed. If we believe that an unborn child has a right to life, why should he/she be executed for the crimes of his/her father? No one denies the horrible violence of rape, but compounding one act of violence with another does not erase the first crime. Instead it only makes the tragedy worse by ending a precious life.

Free speech: No exceptions and no compromise

There is little doubt that the practice of picketing military funerals by the Westboro Baptist “church” is disgusting, depraved and anti-Christian. Some are arguing that this speech is so out of line that it should not be protected by the Constitution. In an October 5 editorial, the Indianapolis Star agrees with this sentiment and argues that “keeping Westboro’s bigots out of view and earshot of families in pain” will not put the First Amendment in peril.

Here’s the problem. The First Amendment is not needed to protect speech when everyone approves of or likes that speech. The true test of the First Amendment is when speech is universally loathsome and offensive. Once we set a precedent that some speech is not protected, that precedent can be used by government to further restrict free speech. This is why the ACLU – a group that is no fan of Nazis – fights to protect the free speech rights of Nazis.

If the Supreme Court rules that the free speech rights of the WBC can be restricted, will anti-abortion protests be far behind? After all, the graphic signs are offensive to a great many people. Supporters of those signs (including me) argue that they are necessary to shake the public out of its apathy. Should images of the result of abortion be banned, or removed to a “free speech” ghetto – because they are offensive?

What about abortion opponents who picket and counsel outside of abortion clinics, with or without the signs? Should there be a “free speech zone” to keep abortion opponents away from “clinics” that kill children? Keep in mind that a number of children – including several in Bloomington – have been saved from the murderous clutches of Planned Parenthood. Abortion opponents need to watch this case very closely.

The Star argues in its closing paragraph that “it is only Westboro. Someday, the bizarre phenomenon will fade away.” That final statement undermines their entire argument. If this will fade away on its own, why do we need to take a razor blade to the First Amendment and carve out a dangerous exception that will (not could, will) be used to silence legitimate protest in the future?

Previous articles:

♣   Bloomington United… against censorship — June 08, 2002

♣   Is it evangelism or pride? — October 23, 2004

♣   Thoughts on anti-homosexual protests — December 12, 2005

♣   A dangerous challenge to free speech — November 6, 2007

♣   More on the Westboro Baptist “Church” ruling — November 20, 2007

♣   The 2008 Rally for Life: Follow Up — January 30, 2008