- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2014

Yes, there are numbers to justify why Republicans get cranky about President Obama’s frequent fundraising for the Democratic Party, particularly when tax payer dollars facilitate glittering events. We know that Mr. Obama has hosted almost 400 political fundraisers since taking office. We also know that Air Force One costs $228,288 an hour to operate, a factor when the West Coast is involved. Like the upcoming gala in the Hollywood home of Gwyneth Paltrow in early October — which marks the 19th time the president has journeyed to Los Angeles for some campaign cash.

Now comes another example.

The cost to stage Mr. Obama’s recent 18-minute speech before camouflage-clad troops at MacDill Air Force Base — draping, sound system and so forth — was $94,360, according to Air Force records. Perhaps a bullhorn would have had more impact at the moment, but no matter.The hefty fee went to a group called Elite Productions - this according to eagle-eyed Elizabeth Harrington, a reporter for the Washington Beacon, who figures the brief event cost $5,242.22 per minute.

“The Air Force justified the cost for the staging for Obama’s speech in the MacDill gymnasium due to ‘unusual and compelling urgency.’ according to the contract, Ms Harrington says, adding that the production company is a White House favorite.

And according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign paid the company $2,221,713, she adds.


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Some have taken notice that Donna Brazile — a Democratic strategist and a vice-chair at the Democratic National Committee — recently tweeted: “We need a new constitution: Here’s how we save American democracy from charlatans, loudmouths and the 1 percent.” Powerline.com columnist Paul Mirengoff points out that Democratic uneasy phobias about the Constitution have been around for decades.

“Democrats have viewed the Constitution as an anachronistic barrier to their agenda since the days of Woodrow Wilson who, before entering politics, consistently argued as much. These days, though, their contempt for our founding document is becoming increasingly manifest,” he points out.

“Why? For two reasons. First, the more radical the Democratic agenda, the greater the need to push back against the Constitution. Today’s agenda is more radical than it has ever been in my lifetime. Second, because public regard for the Constitution probably isn’t what it once was, thanks to the way American History is taught, Democrats can be more open about how they view the founding document.”


One scholar is not keen on President Obama’s speeches, and their underpinnings of political correctness and potential historic revision. “The President apparently believes that his role is making history, not carrying out his constitutional tasks in a constitutional manner in an effort to secure the liberty of his fellow citizens,” points out David Corbin, a professor of politics at The King’s College in New York City.

The malaise appears to be catching.

“Many members of Congress have bought into this false narrative, excusing themselves from carrying out their constitutional duties and thus weakening institutional supports so fundamental to our national prosperity—like the rule of law, federalism, and the separation of powers,” Mr. Corbin notes.

Constitutional skills — or even awareness — are vital for elected officials, he says, recommending they write out the 7,500 words of the U.S. Constitution themselves. Like with a pen or pencil. He also suggests voters quiz their lawmakers on the founding document. What phrase, for example, best describes the legislative powers of the federal government? The potential answers: “Expressly delegated,” “few and defined,” “numerous and indefinite”.

Interesting idea. Maybe they ought to have a contest among the politicians. Find the professor’s five suggested questions at The Federalist.com - a feisty online project which counts Ben Domenech as publisher.


A sign of the times — and a clear-eyed, viable idea from Johns Hopkins University emergency preparedness and response experts, who have led pastors, ministers and other clergy in disaster readiness training in three cities, capping off the outreach in the nation’s capital on Tuesday. They specialize in schooling folks of faith who also have a calling to be spiritual boots-on-the-ground during a terrorist attack, mass shooting, natural disaster or other unexpected calamity.

“In many communities, churches, synagogues, temples and other houses of worship are the very first places people turn to in a disaster for help and just the comfort of someone to tell them everything will be OK,” says Tom Kirsch, project leader and an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine on the campus.

“Unfortunately, many of the houses of worship are not prepared to even survive a major disaster. You can’t help if you also become a victim.”


Political vignettes from the actual, boots-on-the-ground campaign trail are often very telling. Such is the case of Congressional candidate Lori Hopkins Cavanagh, running as a conservative Republican against four-term Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney in Connecticut’s Second Congressional District, which includes 64 towns and cities in the eastern third of the state that lags behind the entire country in economic growth.

The Constitution, Mrs. Cavanagh says, should provide the ultimate guidance for Americans and Congress; she cites economic and personal liberty plus less government as the route to solutions for her home turf. But she has some advice for her political home turf as well.

“The Republican Party still hasn’t grasped the notion that conservative women’s voices are key to future success. Republican women represent less than 5 percent of the House, not because women are liberal, but because the political culture does not embrace, nurture, and support women,” Mrs. Cavanagh tells Inside the Beltway.

“My advice to conservatives is to speak clearly, loudly, and fearlessly to defend American values, our Constitution and liberty,” she adds.


“League of Marijuana Voters”

— Wisconsin-based group of volunteer activists from “pro-marijuana-reform organizations” intent on organizing “large-scale, high-visibility demonstrations” to support marijuana law reforms.


Marijuana legalization comes up on the November ballot in Alaska. It’s complicated.

“The argument in Alaska for legalization compares the use of marijuana to alcohol. It is not an equal comparison. They argue that income to the state from the taxation of marijuana will offset any costs of public safety. Legalizing marijuana will not stop the black market trade of marijuana. Black market sellers will not have to pay the tax and will adjust their pricing to be less than products from dispensaries. The costs to our society will greatly exceed income from the taxes paid by those who choose to purchase it legally. [Our state board] is against the legalization of marijuana and urges voters to make an informed decision,” points out Brad Johnson, chapter president of the Alaska Peace Officers Association, in an op-ed for the Alaska Dispatch News.


• 85 percent of Americans are concerned about the Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria; 82 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents agree.

• 75 percent of Americans overall favor airstrikes against the Islamic State; 91 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats and 81 percent of independents agree.

• 65 percent worry that the actions will expand into a larger conflict in different regions; 71 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents agree.

• 59 percent say the U.S. is in a “military conflict” with the Islamic State; 52 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents agree.

• 51 percent overall are “confident” the U.S. effort to degrade and destroy the Islamic State will succeed; 52 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents agree.

• 40 percent say the U.S. is “at war” with the militants; 51 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents agree.

• 38 percent approve sending ground troops to Iraq or Syria; 53 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of independents agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,055 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 25-28.

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