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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Kline Record: The 2005 Congressional Record

Having summarized John Kline's floor activity as presented in the Congressional Record in 2003 and 2004, we now start to close the gap and document what he did in 2005. Using his first term in Congress as a guide, we should be able to finish this task before the Steelers battle the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.

Kline kicked off the 109th Congress in January 2005 in his usual feel-good, symbolic and ineffectual manner by leading the Pledge of Allegiance on January 20th, then saluting the Lakeville High School Panther Band on January 25th.

But then Kline got serious, and practically did more in the first 9 days of February 2005 than he did in his entire first term. Specifically, he reported at length about his recently completed trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, led debate on H. Con. Res. 36 to require colleges and universities to permit military recruiters on campus, and spoke in favor of a nonbinding resolution to allow the Department of Defense to continue to support the Boy Scouts, even though the Boy Scouts organization discriminates against gays. He was so preoccupied with all of this that he neglected to honor Ronald Reagan's birthday for the first time in three years (I'm sure he won't make the same mistake this year).

Actually, the Boy Scout speech is pretty much John Kline standard airy fare, so I'll publish that speech here, then address the other two speeches in more depth in subsequent posts:

Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my strong support for the Boy Scouts of America and the right of the Department of Defense to continue their support of this proud organization.

The Boy Scouts of America enjoys a long tradition of excellence. For nearly a century young men have joined the scouts, and have come away with essential life skills and character building experiences. Many of my colleagues here today claim alumni status in the Boy Scouts and credit their scouting experience in the development of a commitment to civic responsibility. I am proud to include myself in this group. And, I am especially proud that my son, now a major in the U.S. Army is an Eagle Scout.

The Department of Defense has long shared in the support of the Boy Scouts and their mission of preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes. Unfortunately, a small group threatens to put in jeopardy the well-being of this outstanding organization for the purposes of political grandstanding.

I stand today with my colleagues to encourage the Department of Defense to continue their critical support of the Boy Scouts of America, and protect their constitutional right to free speech.

One thing that I missed on my first reading of this speech is that Kline appears to be arguing that the Department of Defense has a "constitutional right to free speech" (read the opening and closing paragraphs carefully). The Constitution protects the right of individuals to express themselves, but I don't believe there's a constitutional lawyer in the country who would argue that units of the federal government enjoy the same protection, especially when the "speech" in question is really indirect financial support of a private organization.

Setting that aside, Kline defends a conservative position without addressing the main objection to it. Sure the Boy Scouts has a "long tradition of excellence". Sure the Scouts prepare young people to "make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes". The problem, which Kline ignores, is that the Scouts only allow you to participate in this tradition of excellence and benefit from their moral guidance if you happen not to be gay. If you are unfortunate enough to be a gay teen, then the Scouts want nothing to do with you. And as a private organization, it is their right to maintain membership requirements as they see fit --- but the federal government shouldn't support an organization which actively practices discrimination.

If the Boy Scouts had a policy banning blacks or Hispanics, no one would even consider drafting such a resolution, much less speaking in support of it. And if the Boy Scouts banned Baptists, conservatives like John Kline would be leading the charge to have the group sent to Guantanamo Bay. But since the Scouts reject gays, a group the religious right loves to marginalize, John Kline and the rest of the Republicans in Congress can't wait to support them, and charge their detractors with "political grandstanding".


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