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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obama Unfairly Attacks Supreme Court

Yes, unquestionably, Obama grossly mischaracterized the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Citizens United v FEC.

Despite the predictable muddle of misinformation and tortured sky-is-falling screeches from the left, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Citizens United v FEC was constitutionally unassailable and long overdue. (For me anyway, the most distressing aspect of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision is that there were four dissenting justices at all, those being--not surprisingly--liberals Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsberg and Stevens.)

To briefly clarify, this ruling struck down that portion of the onerous McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act, a woefully unconstitutional and deeply flawed “beltway fix”, which barred union and corporate-paid issue/advocacy ads in the closing days of election campaigns. It also overturned the 1990 Austin v Michigan Chamber of Commerce ruling by allowing corporations (both profit and non-profit), advocacy associations, organizations, unions, and other groups to directly spend from their own treasuries on political campaigns. Important to note is that while the Citizens United ruling allows these entities to finance political or advocacy ads, the prohibition on direct donations to candidates or their campaigns remains in place.

As even the liberal New York Times reported, “the core of the Citizens United decision said corporations have a First Amendment right to make independent expenditures in candidate elections” and that “only a constitutional amendment, which is exceedingly unlikely, could undo that core holding.” So, I gather that Obama and his minions, always the schemers, can forget effectively nullifying the ruling by executive fiat or congressional usurpation.

For purposes of definition, “contributions” are funds given directly to candidates for their campaigns; “independent expenditures” are funds spent by third parties on things like political ads without any coordination with the candidate. Thus, the court did not touch the ban on direct contributions to candidates. That is still in force. But, it correctly decided that the ban on independent political expenditures was unconstitutional.

In effect, the ruling overturned a federal ban on independent political expenditures by corporations and unions, thus rejecting the proposition that government can decide who gets to speak and to ban some from speaking at all. The ruling found that speech rights under the First Amendment may not be dependent upon a speaker’s financial situation; that deep pockets alone cannot diminish a speaker’s First Amendment rights. As a Heritage Foundation analysis clear-headedly points out, the First Amendment “is written in terms of speech, not speakers. Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speakers, from single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals, to incorporated associations of individuals…Indeed, to exclude or impede corporate speech is to muzzle the principal agents of the modern free economy. We should celebrate rather than condemn the addition of this speech to the public debate.”

Of immediate concern to me is that despite Obama’s tasteless and ignorant scolding of SCOTUS during his State of the Union address earlier this week, the infusion of cash from foreign companies or foreign nationals is still prohibited by 2 USC Section 441a. This section of the law prohibits all “foreign nationals” inclusive of foreign corporations, from proffering “a contribution or donation of money or anything of value or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation in connection with federal, state or local elections.” So, contrary to Dear Leader’s assertion that this ruling would open the “floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections”, the unvarnished truth is that foreign corporations and individuals are absolutely and incontrovertibly prohibited from making any contribution or donation, directly or indirectly, to any committee of any political party and are forbidden from making any “expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication…” Got that, Barack?

And to ensure there were no unseemly loopholes, Heritage researchers affirm that “only US domestic subsidiaries of foreign corporations can establish PACs, and only if these PAC’s donations and disbursements derive entirely from funds generated by US operations of the subsidiary and all decisions concerning the donations and disbursements are made by US citizens or permanent US residents.”

Though at first blush this ruling appears to unfairly subject our unwary electorate to the corrupting influences of deep-pocketed corporations, unions and other special interests, one must bear in mind that these special interests have been playing a huge and often corrosive roll in the political arena already, but often under the cover of darkness, e.g. billions of dollars in congressional earmarks, special tax breaks for political backers, backroom healthcare reform deals with AARP, SEIU, UAW, Merck, etc--and this without the electorate’s full knowledge. To my way of thinking, these secretive practices are, far and away, more sinister and corrupting than anything publicly aired corporate or union ads could possibly perpetrate on the American electorate.

At long last, the Citizens United ruling requires transparency, an apparently inimical governing concept these days, and real-time disclosure of the ads’ financiers, thus enabling a vigilant electorate to follow the money to easily determine which organizations and corporations may be in a particular candidate’s pocket or good graces whether it be the ACLU, AARP, big Pharma, Sierra Club, ACORN, NTA, IBM, NRA, NARAL, Goldman Sachs, AIG, or whatever. And given the explosion of information and the plethora of diverse opinions on the internet, corporate and union ads alone will be hard-pressed to easily misguide the electorate. Ah, the cleansing effect of sunlight.

What we need is more, not less, free speech. Clearly, an informed electorate can, over time and with a modicum of digging and attentiveness, easily distinguish sleaze from fact and separate out talking points from meaningful messaging. To deny Americans that right is dangerous and terribly shortsighted. As T. Jefferson asserted, “Errors in opinion may be tolerated where reason is left to combat it; information is the currency of democracy."

And for the strong 2nd amendment supporters among us, another benefit of this ruling is that groups like the NRA and firearms manufacturers can now finance ads in support of candidates which defend the Second Amendment. Also, American sugar refineries, for example, can openly support candidates who favor higher taxes on imported sugar, and Boeing can now spend money to support candidates who are fighting to keep the Air Force from awarding its refueling tanker contract to European companies, thus saving American jobs. So, under closer scrutiny, the economic and free speech benefits of this ruling far outweigh any possible perils to our Republic.

And though the perception is that Republicans garner more corporate support than Democrats, given that both parties are receiving huge amounts from corporations and interest groups already, one would have a very difficult time proving that this ruling somehow unfairly favors either side. For example, Goldman Sachs donated more money to Obama than to any other candidate and corporations were the number one donors to his campaign. The short of it is that Obama set the record for corporate donations, to say nothing of very generous donations from fat-cat union bosses. Thus, accusing SCOTUS of playing favorites is specious at best, blatantly dishonest at worst. Historical analysis clearly demonstrates that corporate donations are fairly evenly split (50.5% GOP v 49.5% Dem), although Dems far outpace Republicans when it comes to union donations.

Also, let’s not forget that those mean ‘ole corporations are groups of individuals who also have constitutional right--the workers, the CEOs, the shareholders. Individuals shouldn’t have to surrender their rights merely because they come together to magnify the effects of their donations. Think about this: George Soros, a dangerous socialist dingbat, can and has spent millions in support of socialist/Democratic policies and candidates, but when you and a hundred other citizens get together to spend your money for the same purpose that’s unfair? Twisted logic, indeed.

As George Will succinctly commented, “The dissemination of political speech requires money, so restricting money restricts free speech.” Pretty straightforward , I’d say.

Finally, to any but the leftist elites, Obama clearly owes the Supreme Court an apology for his boorishness and slander. But, I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

November 2010 and 2012 can’t come soon enough. Lord help us all and the Constitution ‘til then.

"The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." Thomas Jefferson

"It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press, that as yet we have found it better to trust the public judgement, rather than the magistrate, with the discrimination between truth and falsehood. And hitherto the public judgment has performed that office with wonderful correctness." T. Jefferson)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Will the GOP Finally Get It?

Couldn't resist briefly weighing in on Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts last night. Frankly, it's akin to a ton of bricks being removed from my shoulders. Haven't been this relieved and hopeful for a very long time.

So, hooray for Independents! Capturing over 70% of Massachusetts "Indies", Scott Brown, grassroots Americans everywhere and the Republic triumphed last night! Big time!

But, will the GOP machine get the message, or will the tin-ear plague which has ravaged Democrats in D.C. infect and throttle the Republican establishment as well? In short, will the GOP blithely ignore the message and continue to myopically accommodate the Left, thus continuing to destroy themselves and the country in the process. Will the wisdom borne of this seismic victory be squandered by the GOP? Will Republicans finally understand and digest what has just happened?

Let's just hope this Progressive reversal in the bluest of the blues finally brings clarity of principle, honest self-appraisal, gumption, moral fiber and enlightenment to the GOP--indeed, to all political leaders.

On Front Page this morning, I commented in a T.Sowell post on this subject:

 "While it's always politically risky to speak the truth to voters, conservatives must do exactly that! There's something remarkably elevating and liberating about telling it like it is. More importantly, it is the responsible thing to do. To prevail, commonsense and conservative American principles--not parochial self-interest--must drive the GOP message: talk about what makes America work and why liberal policies don't, not what handouts can be expected of government. Republicans must relentlessly and roundly expose the outright lies, elitism, shameful hypocrisy, adolescence, illogic and destructiveness of the Left. And, yes, APOLOGIZE for having shortsightedly accommodated Progressive policies in the past merely to get elected. The trick, of course, is to no longer succumb to temptation by adopting the Left's insanely self-serving and destructive policies merely to achieve a "big tent" and fleeting political power. Conservative Republicans should no longer allow--indeed, no longer need to allow--Democrats to shape the debate, the GOP candidates, the issues, the nation's priorities. To continue to allow this is exasperatingly stupid and politically suicidal. Is it any wonder so many voters don't perceive a whit of difference between Dems and Reps? When liberals talk about cap and trade & national healthcare, don't get sucked in. Openly and forthrightly dissect those policies head-on for what they really are: careless, self-serving expedients to achieving personal political power and absolutely nothing more. Doggedly shift the debate to the real issues which are fundamental to the economic and social well-being of the country. Progressives will have a hard time with that. Control the debate! Continually shift the ground from beneath them with truth and objectivity. With cataclysmic upsets in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, by now the Republicans must surely know what they have to do. The question is will they have the courage, fortitude, clarity and integrity to do it. Frankly, I have my doubts."

Finally, a word of heartfelt gratitude and encouragement to the Tea Partiers whose courage, activism and unstinting dedication contributed so signficantly to the string of recent Progressive defeats. Don't throw in the towel just yet, and don't become complacent or in any way veer from your America-first mission.

And to those regular Joes or Jills out there who so earnestly desire a return to limited and responsible government, now's the time to throw your hat in the ring. Be that Constitution and America-first "citizen representative" our founders so cherished and whose time may have, at long last, come again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tea Partiers Must be Cautious, Vigilant

What prompts this post is a post by Erick Erickson on January 11th. It struck home for me and for some of my conservative friends as well.

First, for better or worse, human nature implies a natural proclivity for corruption. That's just the way it is.

And so it is with well-intentioned groups, organizations and movements whose scruples and lofty missions may have attracted enthusiastic grassroots adherents--at least at the beginning of its principled journey, that is.

However, in his post Erick expressed concern over what may have been Sarah Palin’s recent unwitting acceptance of an invitation to speak at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville. Why? NTP is charging attendees $500 each (not including transportation and lodging). And if that doesn't raise some well-founded concerns and questions, well, you're simply not conscious.

Says Erick, albeit without malice and with some reluctance: “I think the tea party movement has largely descended into ego and quest for purpose for individuals at the expense of what the tea party movement started out to be.” And human nature being what it is, I think it would be foolhardy and delusional to deny such a possibility.

Noting some local exceptions around the country, Erick alluded to individual tea partiers who had expressed to him their disenchantment with the Tea Party organization in their areas as well as with the national organization. In short, among tea partiers around the country there has been a growing perception that the movement’s leadership may be morphing into a matrix of self-serving elites with their own agendas. Given the historical nature of mass movements and of human nature itself, this shouldn't be at all surprising.

Erick’s greatest fear is “that a bunch of well meaning people from across the nation…will grow disaffected or burn out”…and that Sarah Palin might “harm herself unintentionally” by her close association with the national Tea Party movement.”

To me, both very unsettling and perfectly rational concerns.

Some of RedState's commenters expressed their concern that without vigilance and a clear commitment on the part of tea partiers and their leaders/organizers to continually self-correct and clean house as needed, the Tea Party organization, both at the local or national level, might well be hijacked by nefarious entities from without or, indeed, from within, who would be intent upon discrediting the movement; that the movement might descend into a disastrously divisive third party movement which would ensure leftist dominance; that corruption within local and national leadership circles might well destroy the purity and credibility of the movement itself, thus exposing what had been a well-intentioned spontaneous grassroots effort to ruinous embarrassment, leftist ridicule and all manner of opportunism from within and without. The members' America-first principles would, of course take a beating.

As a Tea Partier myself, for good reason I too have harbored these doubts and concerns and, as a result, have opted to studiously avoid active participation in organizational meetings or activities requiring a donation. Though supportive of the Tea Party movement's mission to restore Constitutional governance and fiscal responsibility, absent acceptable standards of accountability and transparency in all areas of operation, I have necesssarily distanced myself from active engagement in the local movement. And I am not alone.

So, a gentle word of advice to Tea Partiers everywhere: always be vigilant, demand an open, participatory grassroots approach to the organization's management and be wary of a top-heavy style of management. And, very importantly, assiduously demand proper accounting of donations and both rigorous and demonstrable compliance with pertinent local, state and federal fundraising and election laws. In so doing, you properly protect yourselves, the movement, your honor and the purity and viability of the mission’s purpose.

If violations of trust or perceptions of corruption or unaccountability are perceived, speak out! It’s your organization. Keep it that way. If you don't feel comfortable with the direction of management or the movement itself, simply move on. There are other grassroots organizations which share your views, concerns and approach.

Finally, Glen Beck advises all Tea Partiers, both members and organizers alike, to “hold to the truth”, “never be afraid to speak”, and “question boldly.” As Tea Partiers, it's YOUR grassroots organization. It is not the property of the organizers. For the good of the country and the success of the mission, you and the activist organization you hang with must always be above reproach. Accept nothing less. America First!

("None of us is guaranteed against failure or corruption of any kind; witness what's going on the world in this moment, the follies of human nature and the failures of human nature; all institutions are prone to corruption and to the vices of their members." Morris West, Writer: "The Devil's Advocate", "Shoes of the Fisherman")

("Even in the realm of TEA party infrastructure, corruption can still smell the allure of easy money." John McSherry, Patriotic Resistance Blog)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why Doesn't Rep. Chris Lee Support HR 450?

Recently, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) announced he was not running for re-election in November. A solidly free-market and limited government conservative, he will be a great loss to Congress and to the country.

As you may recall, it was Rep. Shadegg who introduced HR 450 (The Enumerated Powers Act) which would require Congress to specify the source of Constitutional authority for any laws enacted by Congress--an honest and straightforward patriotic attempt to keep Congressmen true to their pledge to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.(For more details, please refer to my HR 450 post dtd April 11, 2009.)

Specifically, HR 450 stipulates that "each Act of Congress shall contain a concise and definite statement (subject to review by the Supreme Court) of the constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act," and that "the failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congress." For many of us, this is pure, unadulterated American poetry! At long last, a fundamentally transformational bill which could finally stem the tide of brazen congressional overrreach.

Stoutly co-sponsored by 59 patriots in Congress and 22 patriots in the Senate (S 1319)--all Republicans, of course--HR 450, not surprisingly, has now been languishing in the dustbin of liberal dominated subcommittees since its introduction in January 2009.

Disconcerting, however, is the prominent absence in this stellar lineup of patriots of our own Rep. Chris Lee(R-NY26). And I have to wonder why.

What is he waiting for? An engraved invitation from his Republican compatriots? What is it about HR 450 which he finds so objectionable or, perhaps, irrelevant or unworthy of his momentary attention? Or is it simply a matter of benign neglect or just being so overwhelmed with so many, shall we say, more important matters? Well, frankly,I can't think of anything more important for a Congressman in these acutely precarious times than to defend the Constitution which shaped America's greatnesss and exceptionalism but whose despicable neglect of late by Congress has been inexorably destroying the Republic.

To my way of thinking, Mr. Lee's co-sponsorship of this fundamentally transformational bill would lay to rest any doubts among his constituents about his commitment to limited and efficient government. For what better, simpler, more straightforward way for a Congressperson to help achieve this meaningful goal than to extend his or her co-sponsorship of HR 450?

So while I genuinely believe Mr. Lee intends to be a different type of politician, one more committed to "we the people" than to self-serving me-first party politics as usual, and that he is determined to do his part to return this country to its once inviolable free enterprise and Constitutional roots, his apparent reluctance to co-sponsor this enormously important bill justifiably gives me serious pause.

In truth, it has been acutely disappointing that, to date, and despite several communications to him on his website, Mr. Lee, for whatever reason, has failed to proudly add his name as a co-sponsor of HR 450.

For the moment, I will grant this busy legislator the benefit of the doubt, but November draws near and his constituents deserve an explanation.

A conservative Republican, I, like many of his other constituents, am an American first and foremost. And that is precisely what I want my Congressman to be as well.

At long last, let's get our legislative priorities straight. Bread-and-circuses, entitlement and cynical vote-getting legislation must now take a back seat to putting our house in constitutional order. Now is the time for our leaders to get our country back on solid Constitutional footing before it all comes crashing down around us. HR 450 is an opportunity none of our leaders in our once hallowed halls of Congress should squander. Much too much is at stake.