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.
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.
- 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
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.