Thursday, September 29, 2011

Michele Bachmann Is Not a Strong Constitutional Conservative

I'll take a break from bashing Rick Perry to present this strong criticism of Michele Bachmann, courtesy of rinosafari blog.  You can verify the facts in this piece at

Key Bachmann votes: 110th Congress

COPS Funding (HR 1700):

The Community-Oriented Policing Services program (COPS), the unconstitutional brain-child of Bill Clinton, provides federal funding for state and local law enforcement. Federal funding is transforming local law enforcement into militarized tentacles of the federal government and destroying local accountability. Apparently this is of no concern to Mrs. Bachmann since she joined 381 other Congress-critters to continue funding this program. Someone needs to tell the “Constitutional Conservative” that the document to which she so frequently pays lip-service does not grant the fedgov the authority to fund local law enforcement.

Iraq Troop Withdrawal (HR 2237):

Bachmann voted ‘no’ to withdraw soldiers from Iraq in spite the fact that the Constitution requires that Congress declare war (not merely to give assent to Presidential prerogative) and the Iraq war was not declared by Congress.

Iran Military Operations (HR 1585):

Speaking of the imperial presidency, during debate over the 2008 defense authorization bill, an amendment was offered that would have required then-President Bush to get specific congressional authorization (i.e., he could not simply cite the AUMF as a Caesarian grant of power) before engaging in military ops against Iran. Again, the “Constitutional Conservative” ignored the Constitution and voted against this very common sense amendment.

Real ID funding (amendment to Homeland Security bill)

During the Reagan presidency there was a proposal for a national ID to fight illegal immigration. When someone in a cabinet meeting suggested that the ID number could be tattooed on each American’s arm, Reagan blurted out “that’s the Mark of the Beast!” and squashed any further attempts at national ID. Mrs. Bachmann, a devout evangelical Christian, apparently lacks the foresight of Ronald Reagan when it comes to the danger of creating a national ID since she voted for an amendment to appropriate more unconstitutional funding to states to assist them with implementing REAL ID – which is essentially a national ID system.

Warrantless Surveillance (S 1927)

This bill – the so-called “Protect America Act” -- retroactively legalized George Bush’s massive violations of the FISA act (as it was written at that time) where Bush had illegally ordered en masse surveillance of the electronic communications of US persons without either a FISA court warrant, or any pretense of specificity or probably cause as required by the 4th amendment.

Apparently the 4th amendment means very little to our “Constitutional Conservative” when the “war on terror” is thought to require a surveillance state.

Thought Crimes (HR 1955)

The “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act of 2007”, which passed overwhelmingly in the House, contained wide-open language regarding “extremist belief systems” that focused on ones thoughts rather than actions, making it extremely dangerous tool to be used against anyone with an unpopular message.  While Bachmann opposed an explicit hate crime law (HR 1592), she caved quickly for similar legislation when the “war on terror” was evoked.

Peru “Free Trade” Agreement (HR 3688):

As with all so-called free trade agreements in the modern era, this one also set up a supra-national enforcement body with the presumed power to supersede state and federal laws. It is for this reason that even a staunch free-trader like Ron Paul refuses to support these type of ‘free trade’ agreements. But for some reason, Michele “Constitutional Conservative” Bachmann is not troubled by these supra-national bodies, in spite of the fact that Article VI states that the Constitution is “the supreme law of the land” and makes no exceptions for its
subordination to supra-national trade enforcement bodies.

Head Start expansion (HR 1429)

Frankly, I was shocked to see this one. Here we have our Constitutional Conservative voting to expand federal funding for the education of pre-K kids and for more social service involvement in the lives of the targeted families (to help the kids, of course). Given Ms. Bachmann’s background as an activist with a rather excellent education organization in MN that was very concerned over the federalization of education (i.e., the Maple River Education Coalition), I never expected to see her vote in this way.

111th Congress

Economic Stimulus (HR 5140)

First, contrary to some recent articles by Bachmann critics, this is not the massive stimulus bill passed under Obama, but rather a scaled-down, right-wing version under George Bush. It entailed targeted tax rebates, tax cuts, and housing subsidies – yet no corresponding cut in any government spending.  Bachmann voted for this bill -- a strange vote for someone who professes to read Mises on the beach. (To her credit, she did not vote for TARP or Obama’s Stimulus bill.)

For Ron Paul’s reasons for opposing this bill – and his deadly accurate prediction about the effects of housing subsidies -- see this link <>

More Warrantless Searches (HR 6304)

This bill reauthorized many features to S 1927 mentioned above. The same arguments about the 4th amendment apply.

Bachmann during the Obama years:

Virtually every politician’s voting record, as judged by the Constitution, suffers when a member of their own party resides in the White House. There is one exception to this rule, but - as judged by the votes outlined here - his name isn’t Michele Bachmann.

While Michele had some good votes during the 110th and early part of the 111th Congress – as did many Republicans – the votes we have discussed so far demonstrate either (1) a serious deficiency in constitutional understanding or (2) a lack of courage. Given her connections Christian-constitutionalist scholar Prof. John Eidsmoe, it is most likely the later.

Once Barack Obama replaced Bush in the White House, we see, as expected, Bachmann’s constitutional voting record improved significantly, from 67% to 80% or 90%. But even then we find some shocking votes.

Supplemental Appropriation (HR 2346)

More silly “emergency” funding, this time for unconstitutional wars, foreign aid, and the alleged flu pandemic – all of which is not authorized areas of expenditure by the Constitution. Yet Bachmann voted for this bill.

Foreign Aid (HR 3081)

Is there a form of unconstitutional spending more easily recognized and eliminated than foreign aid? How could a Constitutional Conservative vote for foreign aid? Clearly she holds some other authority higher than her oath of office.

Patriot Act extension (HR 3961)

When it comes to search and surveillance powers, a true Constitutional Conservative instantly knows that the 4th amendment, with its standards of probably cause and specificity, determine what type of legislation is allowed.
The Patriot Act clearly violates these constitutional qualifications, yet Bachmann voted to extend certain provisions of it. A fickle constitutionalist indeed.

BTW, during the renewal fight of earlier this year, she voted again in the same way.>

Withdrawal from Afghanistan (HCR 248)

As before with the Iraq military withdrawal vote, Bachmann supported the continuation of the unconstitutional war in Afghanistan.

More Supplemental Appropriations for foreign aid and war (HR 4899)

As with HR 2346, Bachmann supported more “emergency” funding for unconstitutional wars and foreign aid.

Much more should be said about Bachmann: her unqualified and sycophantic support of the government of Israel and how this guarantees that her foreign policy staff will be dominated by neoconservatives; her milquetoast vision for the proper role of government; her dangerous carelessness about civil liberties; her willingness to subordinate what she likely knows to be true in order to further her political ambitions.

Michele Bachmann is many things: A gifted – if not crafty -- politician, a committed mother concerned enough about the proper upbringing of her children to home and privately school them, an obviously committed Christian, and so on.  But, as should be clear from her voting record, a “constitutional conservative” she is not.

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