A CR's response

By Scott Tibbs

Jonathan Greenberg's January 27 Indiana Daily Student op-ed "Think more, pontificate less" could have been the subject of numerous tidbits for "Bits & Bytes". However, I believe this attack on U.S. Representative John Hostettler merits a full response, not just small tidbits.

Greenberg, attacking statements on the Hostettler web page, mentions several items in his attack. I will respond to these point-by-point.

  • In response to Hostettler's opinion the federal government Greenberg's first point is that Congress has "implied" powers as decided in Marbury vs. Madison. However, Greenberg would do well to study the Bill of Rights as well, specifically the 10th amendment. "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people." Narrowly interpreted, that means the federal government does not have Constitutional authority to do much of what it does. Greenberg may argue differently with his interpretation of the "necessary and proper" clause, but to imply Hostettler is ignorant with the statement "he could have at least boned up on some constitutional law before taking the oath of office" is irresponsible and intentionally misleading.
  • Greenberg also quotes Hostettler as writing "the First Amendment protects only speech." [emphasis added] He then proceeds to attack Hostettler's "incredibly narrow view of the Constitution" by pointing out the "First Amendment actually protects freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom to petition the government for redress of grievance AND freedom of speech." Gee, it looks Like Hostettler is incredibly ignorant of the Constitution, doesn't it? In the philosophy class I took last semester, that is what we would call a "straw man" argument. Instead of taking on a statement head-on, the speaker/writer sets up a "straw man" and knocks it over. Greenberg knows as well as I or anybody else that was NOT what Hostettler meant. Greenberg's statement is pure distortion.
  • Greenberg attempts to argue Hostettler is inconsistent with his support of a ban on flag burning (with Hostettler arguing such activity is "conduct" rather than speech) while opposing campaign finance reform on First Amendment grounds. "Apparently, giving money isn't really conduct." Again, Greenberg leaves out important pieces of the puzzle. "Campaign finance reform" isn't just about contribution limits, it also raises serious questions about the ability of independent groups to run issue-oriented ads during a campaign. Also, giving money to a candidate in a way is a form of political expression, expressing support for the ideas of that candidate through one's hard-earned money.
  • In opposing Hostettler's view of new Environmental Protection Agency standards proposed last summer, Greenberg notes "EPA standards are far from arbitrary and Hostettler's knee-jerk, "the economic sky is falling" reaction, lacks credible data to back it up." Really? Did you bother to read or pay any attention to the business leaders and publications such as Reason and National Review arguing the point that the standards are arbitrary and will do damage to the economy? And yes, Jon, many businesses have found creative ways to reduce pollution when faced by EPA standards. That's business that found those solutions, not government.
  • Finally, Greenberg notes he signed up for Congressman Hostettler's e-mail updates. He finds it "interesting they don't just use the franking privilege available to all congressmen to send it out to all residents of the district." Gee, Jonathan, could the reason be that electronic mail is A WHOLE LOT LESS EXPENSIVE AND MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than regular mail? It would seem you would be happy they are not frivolously wasting taxpayer dollars by doing a franked update. And if Hostettler's office were to frank mass updates as Greenberg suggests, I am sure he would be the first one to attack this as a waste of taxpayer dollars and an unfair advantage in the campaign.
Greenberg, after fawning over Gail Reiken in a column last semester, seems to feel it necessary to attack Hostettler again. But next time you write against Hostettler, Mr. Greenberg, make sure you know the facts.

Eric Seymour

Robert Schiener

Bryan Wilhelm

Bryant Lewis
Joel Corbin