- The conservative son of the late President Ronald Reagan is strongly rebuking a county clerk in Kentucky for refusing to obey court orders to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Michael Reagan is a longtime radio talk show host. He is now a motivational speaker and serves as president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation. On Wednesday, as Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continued to refuse issuing licenses due to her strongly-held religious convictions, Reagan tweeted "She needs to find a new job. Agree or not, it's the law."
On Thursday, Davis was sent to jail by U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning for refusing to comply with federal court decisions demanding that she give her approval to gay and lesbian weddings.
"The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order," Judge Bunning said in issuing the arrest order. "If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that's what potentially causes problems."
Bunning was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush. He is also the son of former Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. He chose not to fine Davis, because he suspected like-minded Americans would make sure she suffered no major financial penalties.
Reagan's tweet in response to Bunning's ruling: "She is an idiot."
In a subsequent interview, Reagan believes the issue is quite simple. It all comes down to where Davis works.
"She has a government job. She doesn't have a job in the private sector. She has a job in the government. When you work for the government, you in fact work for all the people. You don't get to pick and choose who you agree with and who you don't agree with. Like when you get elected president or governor, you're not representing just the people who voted for you. You're representing all the people," said Reagan.
He says conservatives are right to protest the Obama administration's selective enforcement of federal laws, so they should have no more tolerance for those who do it elsewhere in government.
"Just because the President of the United States is doing what he's doing does not mean that, 'Oh, we get to do the same thing.' If you're not happy, then elect a new President of the United States. Elect someone who better represents you and what you want to see done from the presidency of the United States of America," said Reagan.
"That's how simple it is. But don't go, 'Well, he's selective so I'm going to be selective," he added.
Reagan says says he sympathizes with Davis adhering to her biblical convictions However, he says if she believes she cannot follow the court's orders, she has an obvious option.
"I disagree with gay marriage, but the reality is it is the law. The Supreme Court has ruled it's the law. If you're not happy with it, you can quit," said Reagan. "They can't fire her. She can quit and find another job. I would suggest maybe she get one with the church."
That argument is passionately disputed by other conservatives in support of Davis.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., who is also a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, argues that Davis should not be punished because there is no law she's violating.
"The Supreme Court cannot and did not make a law. They only made a ruling on a law. Congress makes the laws. Because Congress has made no law allowing for same sex marriage, Kim does not have the Constitutional authority to issue a marriage license to homosexual couples," said Huckabee in a statement.
Reagan is not swayed by the argument that Davis cannot possibly be breaking the law since there are no specific federal or state laws she is flouting, only court decisions, which Davis defenders contend do not carry the weight of statute.
"Again, let's start nitpicking at this whole thing. It's really simple. The Supreme Court has ruled that gays, lesbians can get married. That's what they have ruled. As long as they have ruled that and you're working at a government job, then you are to enforce what, indeed, what has been approved and ruled on by the Supreme Court," said Reagan, who says his father, as governor, was forced to comply with court decisions he did not agree with.
Some of the moderate GOP presidential hopefuls side with Reagan, including Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham and John Kasich.
"When you are a government employee as opposed to say, an employee of another kind of organization, then in essence, you are agreeing to act as an arm of the government," said Fiorina on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
"Is she prepared to continue to work for the government, be paid for by the government in which case she needs to execute the government 19s will, or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to severe her employment with the government and go seek employment elsewhere where her religious liberties would be paramount over her duties as as government employee," she added.
Graham, also speaking to Hewitt, was even more blunt.
"As a public official, comply with the law or resign," said Graham.
Kasich once again made it clear he has no intention of encouraging resistance following the court decisions.
""We'll honor what the Supreme Court does," Kasich told the Washington Post. "It's the law of the land. It's the way that America functions."
Davis and her defenders do not suggest there is no actual law being violated, but they say her first amendment right to freely exercise her faith is being infringed by the courts.
"When people of conviction fight for what's right they often pay a price, but if they don't and we surrender, we will pay a far greater price for bowing to the false God of judicial supremacy. Government is not God. No man - and certainly no unelected lawyer - has the right to redefine the laws of nature or of nature's God," said Huckabee in his statement.
"The federal government, and by extension, the court, has no business to compel people of faith to violate their religious beliefs," said Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Cruz told the Washington Post.
Sen. Rand Paul, who represents Kentucky, was adamant in his revulsion over Judge Bunning's decision to jail Davis.
"I think it's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty," Sen. Paul, R-KY, told CNN. "If you want to convince people that same-sex 'marriage' is something that's acceptable I would say try to persuade people" instead of using state force.
Paul says the treatment of Davis by Judge Bunning will only stiffen the resolve of traditional marriage supporters and possibly even drive some states and localities out of the marriage business altogether.
Other Davis allies suggest asking Davis to violate her conscience by handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples is akin to forcing a pro-life obstetrician to perform abortions because it is legal.
Reagan quickly dismissed that argument as well.
"This argument goes back and forth all the time. It gets really old and really tiresome, trying to find analogies here and analogies there and conscience and so on. She's out there saying it's God's law. OK, it's God's law. Is it God's law that you've been married four times and divorced? Is that God's law too?" said Reagan.
"I'm really getting tired of Christians who only know how to point a finger but don't know how to live under their own pointed finger," he added.
Davis is married for the fourth time. She says her conversion to Christianity happened within the past few years.
Nonetheless, Reagan believes the Bible is on his side in his belief that Davis should either quit or issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.
"Let's all start living under the laws that were passed. What did they say? "Render under Caesar what is Caesar's. Render unto God what is God's" (Mark 12:17). Well, guess what? Under Caesar, the reality is gays can be married," said Reagan.
- Thirty-four Senate Democrats are now vowing to support the Iran nuclear deal, suggesting U.S. sanctions will soon end against the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, but retired U.S. Army Lt. General William "Jerry" Boykin says the fight is not over until the votes are taken and Republicans may well deserve more blame than Democrats for this deal surviving.
On Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., became the final vote needed to save the deal. Her announcement followed on the heels of Tuesday's news that skeptical Democrats Bob Casey, D-Penn., and Chris Coons, D-Del., would also back the agreement.
"I really question how long they actually pondered this, as opposed to trying to develop a strategy for how they were going to support this president. If they had really pondered this and considered all sides of this and all the evidence, they would come out where 75 percent of the American public is," said Boykin, who is now executive vice president at the Family Research Council.
"How could anybody ponder that and think that there's any way that this is a reasonable for the United States or the rest of the world?" asked Boykin.
Earlier this year, President Obama announced any nuclear deal would be treated as an executive agreement rather than a treaty, meaning he had no intention of getting any input in Congress. In response, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and ranking Democrat Ben Cardin, R-Md., crafted legislation giving Congress the chance to reject a deal.
Unlike a treaty, which requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate to ratify a treaty, the Corker-Cardin legislation would require two-thirds opposition in both the House and Senate to override an Obama veto.
If all 34 Democrats hold firm, Republicans are powerless to stop the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran. But Gen. Boykin says 34 promised votes are not the same as a done deal.
"It is not over yet. There is a big rally here next week, the ninth of September. Tens of thousands of people are going to be in the streets," said Boykin, who is one of over 200 retired military officers who wrote to leaders of both parties in both chambers imploring lawmakers to reject the Iran deal.
"I think there's still a good possibility that some of these Democrats will listen to the people that put them in office as their representatives and reject this deal," added Boykin.
Not a single Republican in the House or Senate is supporting the Iran deal, but Boykin says leadership played it's hand poorly when Obama vowed to bypass Congress on the nuclear deal.
"I think the Republicans made a terrible mistake by supporting Corker-Cardin, which usurped and subverted the U.S. Constitution. Article II, Section 2 is very clear. This is a treaty and we all know it," said Boykin, stressing the deal should require 67 votes for ratification.
"We subverted that with this Corker-Cardin legislation. I blame the Republicans, maybe even more than the Democrats, for pushing this thing through," he added.
Boykin says his involvement with other retired military officers in trying to sink the Iran deal was a no-brainer.
"It is, in fact, a pathway to a nuclear weapon. It doesn't give any consideration to the four Americans that are being held. It does in fact put billions and billions of dollars into a very rogue regime that's been the largest sponsor of terrorism," said Boykin, just beginning to list his criticisms of the deal.
Boykin also staggered that Iran gets so self-inspect at least one of it's most suspicious sites and that Iran would have at least 24 days to remove evidence from newly suspected sites before inspectors would be allowed on site. He says the security threat to the region and the world is immense.
"Much of that money will be used for Hezbollah and Hamas and other terrorist organizations. A lot of the money will be used, once sanctions are lifted, to buy modern military technology as well as other types of weapons and technology that will further increase the military capabilities of Iran, That will result in an arms race in the Persian Gulf," concluded Boykin.
- Reducing the size of government entitlements and winning the war on poverty are both achievable, but American Enterprise Institute President Arthur C. Brooks says it will take much stronger leadership and a change in how conservatives present their message.
Brooks is the author of "The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America." The book makes a passionate case that big government policies are doing nothing to alleviate poverty in the U.S. and that conservative policies could have a significant impact if pursued boldly and wisely.
Brooks says the biggest problem right now is that very few people have the courage to take on entitlement reform because they fear failure or backlash, even though the need for it is fiscally obvious.
"The fact that politicians say that's impossible is because they're not good leaders. They're followers is what it comes down to. The definition of leadership is inducing people to do something difficult on behalf of the whole society. Great leaders can take a country to war, yet we don't have leaders today who can reform our entitlements?" said Brooks.
According to Brooks, the longer Washington dawdles on the issue, the bigger the problem gets.
"The creaking entitlement system that is just completely unsustainable is imperiling the safety net completely. We're going to have austerity. Just look at Greece. That's down the road for us at some point and the people who will suffer are not the rich. They never are. It's always the poor. So if we love the poor, we have a responsibility to avoid austerity. That means we have to be solvent and to be solvent means we have to be fiscal conservatives," said Brooks.
In contrast to today's leaders who pretend issues of poverty and fiscal irresponsibility do not exist, Brooks offered a glimpse of what he thinks real leaders would do.
"We have to have real leaders who have hard conversations about what the entitlement system should look like. You don't have to throw somebody out on the street or take away benefits that are actually earned. You simply have to have some common sense approaches to it," said Brooks.
"The fact that we have leaders who are so poor that they can't even broach the conversation about what the retirement age ought to be when people are living longer and longer is just more evidence that we're incapable of doing hard things," he added.
Brooks says fiscally conservative approaches to keeping the nation solvent and lifting people out of poverty are the right approach, but the right has a problem. He says while conservative policies are far more compassionate and encouraging than the liberal approach of government cutting a check to the poor, conservatives have allowed the left to stake the higher moral ground on such issues.
Instead, he says conservatives need to do a better job of convincing people they want them to succeed.
"Go from fighting against government institutions to fighting for people that are being held down and denied their equal rights to the pursuit of happiness and you're going to be on track to starting a social movement and not just a protest movement," said Brooks, referring to the tea party activists who he believes started a much needed revolt against Washington but need to do a better job of explaining what they support.
Some of that starts with taking back the true definition of hot-button political terms. Brooks says conservatives have surrendered the term social justice to the political left, when it should describe the opportunity culture small government advocates seek to advance.
"Conservatives never say social justice. Why not? We believe in social justice. We just define it differently. The way we define social justice, the way we define fairness, the way we define compassion; these are the definitions the majority of Americans shares. It's time for us to start talking that way," said Brooks.
"If you believe in poverty reduction like I do, you must be a fiscal conservative and you must have conservative values," he added.
Brooks also stresses that creating opportunity means establishing a level playing field. He that means not setting burdensome hurdles for people to chase their dreams and not having politicians handing out political favors to their donors and other political cronies.
"It doesn't matter if people vote Democrat or vote Republican. We have a moral obligation to stand up for people who need our opportunity society. One of the things that's in the way of that is very powerful people that are gaming the system, particularly, at the corporate level, to make sure they can be in front of the line and in front of the little guys. It's not right. We have to stand up and denounce it," said Brooks.
But just as important as bold leadership and championing the rights of all Americans is how those messages are conveyed. In his book, Brooks lists what he calls "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Conservatives." He says it's a debate strategy that helps conservatives win, with focuses on staking the moral high ground, fighting for people rather than against things, stealing good arguments, going to nontraditional audiences and more.
But he says the most urgent priority for conservative messaging is to get happy.
"Nobody wants to follow someone who's grim, at least not for very long," he said. "The Republican Party only wins when it's the party of aspiration. Just ask the people who worked with Ronald Reagan. He threw away the playbook of malaise and throwing insults around and saying everybody's stupid. He said it's morning in America. We're going to fight for everyone. He was a true happy warrior."
- Secretary of State John Kerry once again signed the United Nations Arms Treaty on Wednesday, a move that supporters say will help stop weapons from getting into the hands of criminals and terrorists worldwide but critics contend is is a backdoor assault on law-abiding gun owners.
The treaty would require nations to conduct a detailed registration of all guns. The issue is dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate, but one of the leading experts on guns says even if the agreement is only ratified in other countries, it can still work to erode gun ownership here.
"The point of this is just to try to reduce legitimate gun ownership in other countries. Eventually it has some feedback effect in the United States. If Canadians are much less likely to own guns, gun control activists will point to them and say, 'Look how outlandish we are in the United States,'" said Dr. John Lott, an economist who serves as president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.
Lott is also the author of well-known books on guns, including "More Guns, Less Crime" and "The Bias Against Guns." He says the stated purpose of the UN treaty sounds pretty harmless but the devil is in the details.
"The claimed purpose is to try to make sure that the gun trade is regulated across countries. The claim is that terrorist groups and other rebel groups around the world are getting guns because of private gun owners there. It ignores the fact that almost all the guns that these different groups get are from other governments, not from private individuals," said Lott.
In addition to stifling weapons supplies to terrorists, proponents of the treaty argue that mass registration will help solve many criminal cases around the world as well.
Lott says that is simply not backed up by the facts.
"In theory, if a gun is used in the commission of a crime if left at the crime scene and it's registered to the person who committed the crime, then you can use that gun to trace back and find out who committed the crime," said Lott.
"The problem is that never really works. The reason is pretty simple. One, crime guns are rarely left at the scene. Two, when they are left at the scene, they're not registered to the person who committed the crime," he added.
Lott says the ineffectiveness of gun registration is proven over and over. In Canada, he says lawmakers recently rescinded a mandate on long gun registration because it was accomplishing nothing.
"It cost billions of dollars and it hadn't solved any crimes. In fact, before the long gun registration was eliminated, it was clear that even the handgun registration that has been around since the mid-1930's had not been able to solve one single crime," said Lott.
It's the same story in the United States. Lott says Hawaii has forced gun owners to register their weapons since 1960. He recently took part in legislative hearings in the state, but he says the testimony of another witness was most compelling.
"They had the Honolulu police chief come in and they asked him some questions. They said, 'How many crimes have they been able to solve in Hawaii as a result of it?' It was zero. They couldn't point to a single crime that they had solved," said Lott.
Beyond the inability of gun registration to help police catch criminals, Lott says the police chief explained what a drain the policy is on law enforcement.
"They asked, 'Well, how much police time does it take every year to go and implement this?' Just for the Honolulu Police Department, it was about 50,000 hours of police time each year. That's 50,000 hours of police time that could have been used to go and solve real crimes," he said.
Lott says taking police away from their cases robs them of their best chance to solve crimes.
"It's extremely important, I think, in terms of my research, in terms of reducing crime rates. Yet, here we want to go and waste this huge amount of manpower that could be used to save lives and protect people, to go and do this meaningless paperwork. I think the main point of it is just to make it costly and difficult for people to go and own guns," said Lott.
Lott does not expect the Obama administration to claim this agreement is not actually a treaty and implement it unilaterally. He says the most Obama could do is issue some new executive orders under the auspices of the UN treaty.
Even then, Lott says the impact of those orders could only go so far because the next president could rescind them. He believes Obama is simply pushing another avenue for his tireless push for more gun control.
"They're trying to do what they can in order to make it costly for people to own guns and reduce gun ownership. This is just one out of many ways that'll give them an excuse to implement a few other executive orders that maybe they wouldn't have tried to push otherwise," said Lott.
- President Obama appears to be on pace to find enough votes to save the Iran nuclear deal, but longtime Democratic pollster and strategist Pat Caddell says the party is at risk electoral disaster by propping up a deal the public hates and may well pave the way to a nuclear-armed Iran.
"If the question is that they have voted for something that the American people think is dire and ends up having dire consequences because the majority will of the Congress and the vast majority will of the country's been ignored, I fear the Democrats will live with this issue of 'they lost the Middle East.' And that will be painful election after election," said Caddell.
Caddell has been down this road before. He helped Jimmy Carter win the White House in 1976 but watched helplessly as the Iranian hostage crisis buried Carter in 1980.
"We know in 1979-80 the Iran hostage situation, and the Democratic Party's inability to solve that satisfactorily, hurt the Democratic Party. We are now dealing with a situation where overwhelming majorities of Americans oppose this agreement that has been engineered by Secretary of State (John) Kerry and the president," said Caddell.
The Secure America Now poll, for which Caddell serves as a principal, shows 65 percent of Americans oppose the deal when they learn some of the critical details. Other polls show lower opposition numbers but every virtually survey finds the public wanting to reject the deal. Caddell says huge swaths of Democrats want the deal to die as well.
"Large majorities of Democrats look at a deal in which the side agreements on inspections, even without the knowledge Iran would be self-testing its violations, the questions about handing over $100-150 billion almost immediately for their nefarious activities; all of these things which the public opposes in 75-80 percent numbers," said Caddell.
He says the numbers would be even more lopsided if Obama and Kerry were honest about the terms of the deal.
"The American electorate has made the decision by well over two-to-one that the president and John Kerry are not being honest with the facts. They're only telling the American people what they think might convince them. This is a real departure. Either the Democratic Party is the party of democracy or not. I think senators are going to find themselves not only in trouble in general elections, I think they'll have troubles in primaries," said Caddell, who firmly believes voters will remember their elected officials defying the vast majority of their constituents on a critical issue.
"You cannot go fly in the teeth of what is now overwhelming opposition, registering in almost every survey of well over 60 percent of the people, show utter contempt for the constitutional processes by going to the UN first and then think it's not going to have an impact," he said.
As of Wednesday, the resolution to reject the Iran deal appeared to be on course for passage in the House and majority support in the Senate. However, it's looking less likely that opponents will find the two-thirds majority needed to override a promised Obama veto. In fact, only two Senate Democrats are publicly splitting with the president thus far. Opponents will need at least four more Democrats just to fend off a filibuster.
A successful filibuster would mean Obama never has to veto the bill, but Caddell thinks enough 'no' votes will materialize.
"I don't think the filibuster's going to succeed. I think the Democrats who are out, many of them are really against this deal," he said, noting the debate has been overshadowed in the media by the political success of Donald Trump and the legal woes of Hillary Clinton.
"As it becomes front and center as a national security issue and as a question of America's long-term security, I think that the thing will pass," said Caddell. "I do not understand at this point how Democratic senators and congressmen can say they are going to vote for something which the vast majority of Americans oppose, including a goodly percentage of their party."
In addition to the danger of being portrayed as soft on national security for generations to come, Caddell says voters are turned off by politicians who simply march to the White House beat.
"The American people see a Democratic Party, which puts what the president wants over the interests of the nation," he said.
Caddell says that's an especially bad policy for Democrats to follow with this president.
"President Obama's handling of national security is very poorly received, and in reality, frankly has been a frightening disaster, whether it's Russia to the Middle East to Iran to ISIS or whatever," said Caddell.
"This Democratic Party need to measure whether they are going to be viewed as a party that cannot be trusted with national security. If so, that is something that will tip the political balance of this country," he added.
But Caddell was not done slammimg Obama, saying the current occupant of the Oval Office is besmirching a party that once embraced a robust approach to national security.
"Barack Obama has taken this party and jerked it so far away from its roots as being a party that speaks for the people," said Caddell.
He says Democrats are sprinting to the political fringe in the Obama era in ways that would have never happened before.
"Just look at the parties now that are talking about getting rid of the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners that traditionally for 100 years honored the founders of the Democratic Party because they're no longer in style for these people," said Caddell.
"This attempt to drag the Democratic Party into becoming, instead of the voice of the common people, the voice of entitled elites, is unacceptable to me and many Democrats," he concluded.
- The man who first warned the world about Iran's current nuclear ambitions says newly revealed side deals that allow Iran to inspect one of it's own nuclear sites is tantamount to letting a murderer investigate his own crime scene.
In recent days, the Associated Press reported that unrevealed side deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, allow Iran to conduct it's own inspections on a critical facility thought to be involved in the creation of nuclear weapons.
Alireza Jafarzadeh is deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which is the Iranian parliament in exile since 1979. He says information obtained from inside Iran backs up the Associated Press account of the secret agreement.
"The information that we've been receiving from other sources was actually pointing to the same facts that appeared in the Associated Press story, which is allowing Iran to take it's own samples (of soil near suspected nuclear weapons sites," said Jafarzadeh.
He is stunned that so much latitude is being given to the particular plant in question.
"[They are focused on] a specific site called Parchin, which is a military site that is believed to have been used by Iran a few years ago and perhaps continued afterwards for high explosive tests, which is only used for building a nuclear weapon," said Jafarzadeh.
Given past Iranian defiance on nuclear issues and it's unrepentant support for terrorism, Jafarzadeh says allowing Iran to conduct its own inspections makes no sense.
"Allowing the Iranian regime to inspect Parchin and provide results to the IAEA is like allowing a murderer to investigate his own murder and provide the victim's DNA to the police," he said.
Jafarzadeh says members of Congress he's spoken with are frustrated by the Obama administration's refusal to provide the content of the side deals.
"The entire nuclear agreement between Iran and P5 plus One (the five permanent members of the United National Security Council plus Germany)is heavily based upon the scrutiny and the intrusive inspection of Iranian sites, which is going to take place by the IAEA. Yet, the members of Congress are not allowed to see how the IAEA is actually going to do that," said Jafarzadeh.
Even based on what we do know about the side deals, Jafarzadeh says Iran is getting very different treatment than other nations facing nuclear scrutiny.
"Under any standards, you cannot take your own samples. The standard of the IAEA is that they have to be there. They have to be present. They have to make sure that the place was not decontaminated before. They have to look at other factors in the environment that could effect the sampling. They have to maintain the continuity of ownership over the samples before it's taken to the lab for inspection," said Jafarzadeh.
Jafarzadeh says the IAEA appears to be no pillar of resolve in these side negotiations but he says ultimate responsibility for the lax inspections belongs at our own feet.
"Many members of Congress believe that even though is apparently a side agreement between the IAEA and Iran, but the overall circumstances that has led to these side deals was really worked out between the P5 plus One - namely the United States - and Iran," he said.
According to Jafarzadeh, the very least the allies should have procured was an Iranian admission about previous pursuits of nuclear weapons. That didn't happen either.
"If you don't know exactly what Iran did in building the bomb before and you're not going to resolve it in a satisfactory way, how can you be sure that Iran is going to be truthful [in] the future. If they continue to hide what they'd hidden before, then that's a clear indication that they still have the same objective, which is building the bomb," said Jafarzadeh.
But he says you don't even need documentation of previous intentions to know what's coming next in Iran, because the leaders are brazen in their desires.
"As far as Iran is concerned, they have not changed their agenda, which is building the bomb. The supreme leader continues to seek building a nuclear bomb. Unfortunately, the JCPOA (Joint Completed Plan of Action) leaves all pathways to the bomb open," said Jafarzadeh.