Saturday, January 23, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Independent Corporate Campaign Spending Limits

The First Amendment to the Constitution provides, in pertinent part, the following: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."

In a major boost for the First Amendment the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that government may not limit or ban "independent" spending by corporations for political campaigns and elections. (Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee) While there is still a limit on direct contributions to political campaigns, corporations may now use unlimited funds to run their own ads. And they will not be restricted by the McCain-Feingold time limits which prohibit use of corporate general funds 30 days before a Presidential primary and 60 days before a general election.

In decrying the decision, and playing to his usual class-warfare theme, President Obama said it is "a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."

So let's think about what the President says. First, never a believer in free enterprise and capitalism, he demonizes big business. It does not matter that these businesses provide millions of jobs. Next, he talks about how these corporations "marshal their power" in Washington. Is he really suggesting that the average American had the same access to politicians that the wealthy and big corporations had BEFORE this decision? How about all those $10,000. a plate fund- raisers politicians regularly hold. "Everyday Americans" attending those Mr. President? Real access is gained with big contributions.

So then what is the problem with the Court's decision that has politicians (mostly dems) in an uproar? It is not that vast sums of money will be flowing into political campaigns. That happens now. It is that the politicians will no longer be able to CONTROL how that money is spent. When the money goes directly into their campaigns, the candidates and their campaign directors can decide how to spend it. Now, there is no limit on corporate spending as long as it is an "independent expenditure" not coordinated with any candidate. And therein lies the rub. Even favorable ads may not focus on the issue(s) the candidates want to focus on. And attack ads on their opponents may not have the tone or content that the candidates prefer.

So on the one hand, you have the interest of political candidates wanting complete control over their own campaigns and messages; and on the other you have the First Amendment. In explaining why the First Amendment must prevail, Justice Kennedy wrote: "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."

The New York Times was fuming over the decision. In their 1/22/10 lead editorial they wrote: "It was a fundamental misreading of the Constitution to say that these artificial legal constructs (corporations) have the same right to spend money on politics as ordinary Americans have to speak out in support of a candidate." I think the NY Times is on to something. What right do any of the following artificial legal constructs have to political speech: The NY Times Corp., NBC/Universal, CBS, ABC, CNN, The Tribune Co., The Washington Post Co., and on and on. Or do only those corporations that own media outlets have a right to political speech?

The NY Times bemoans the fact that while labor unions will also be free to spend their money, the unions have far less to spend than corporations. The inference is less influence by the unions. So here's a question: how did the unions manage to get their special exemption on taxes on "cadillac" healthcare plans that corporations did not get under the Senate version of Obamacare?

In anticipation of what he thought might be an "unfavorable" decision, Democrat Senator Charles Schumer has been working on legislation to limit the impact of the court's decision. So I would ask Mr. Schumer if he refuses to accept campaign contributions from these evil corporations. Apparently not. According to one google site, the top five industries contributing to his campaign from 2005 to 2010 are as follows: Securities and Investments (over 1 million), Lawyers (over $830,000), Real Estate (over $587,000), Misc. Finance (over $280,000), and Insurance (over $197,000). And what committees does Senator Schumer sit on? Banking, Finance and Judiciary. Matches up pretty nicely with his top contributors. But their money was just fine - as long as it went into the Senator's campaign coffers to use as he saw fit.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Republican takes Massachusetts!

Republican Scott Brown won the U.S. Senate seat that had been occupied by democrats for nearly six decades - in the most liberal of states. President Obama went to Massachusetts over the weekend to help support Martha Coakley, the democrat's candidate. And once again, as happened in November in New Jersey and Virginia, it was to no avail. But the spin began before the final results were in - with the O. team already blaming Coakley for running a weak campaign and just not being a good candidate. In other words, THEY STILL DON'T GET IT!

When Obama was in Massachusetts campaigning with Coakley, he resorted to what he always seems to rely upon: Blame Bush! Guess what? You have been in office for a year Mr. President. The people don't want a whiner for president. The people don't want unrestrained government spending. The people don't want higher taxes. The people don't want government control of their healthcare. The people expect you to put greater emphasis on job creation by stimulating the economy through tax cuts, not by spending us deeper into debt. And the people expect a greater emphasis on keeping us safe.

It took "W" eight years to lose the support of independents and even some republicans. It's taken Obama only one year to lose the support of the independents and republicans who voted for him, and even the support of some democrats.

So it's time to stop the corruption (with special favors to Nebraska and Louisiana and union health plans); and provide the transparency you so frequently promised during your campaign. Stop the back room deals. Stop the express train of Obamacare now.

You have now been told time and again that the people don't want Obamacare. You heard it at the townhall meetings, at the tea parties, in N.J., in Virginia, and now in Massachusetts. So will you concede the issue? Or does your arrogance and disdain for the American people know no bounds? And will you try to ram it through the Congress before Brown can be seated? Will the democrats look for reasons to delay the seating of Brown? What the democrats do now could very well determine their fate in the November elections. But as of now, it certainly appears that they just don't get it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quick Hits II

1. President Obama's September,2009 speech to the UN General Assembly included this: "It is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 - more than at any point in human history - the interests of nations and peoples are shared."

News item: "Islamists looted and burned a Protestant church in Algeria." They also "set fire to a pile of Bibles and religious textbooks, and desecrated Christian crosses."

News item: "Nine churches have also been recently burned down amid violence against the country's (Malaysia) Christian minority." (News items from the 1/11/10 Jerusalem Post online.)

Everybody see those "shared interests?"

2. Obama, in 4/09, when asked if he believes in American exceptionalism: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." So, Mr. President, after you reduce the size of our military and take away our nukes, and do all you can to negate American values, who would you like to see take America's place in the world? The U.N.? Russia? China? Iran? The islamofascists?

3. Jimmy Carter recently, with great publicity, "apologized" to the Jewish community for any offense caused by his remarks about Israel. Except, on the same day as his apology, he opined in the London Guardian that the terrorist organization Hamas should be recognized as a legitimate organization. The same Hamas that routinely calls for the destruction of Israel. So Carter remains an anti-semite. Or maybe it's just a coincidence that his "apology" comes at a time when his grandson may be running for state senate in Dekalb County, Georgia - which has a "substantial Jewish population." (From the 12/25/09 Jewish Press.)

4. Global cooling continues. Britain was in its "longest cold spell in nearly 30 years." In France "snow piled up from Normandy to Marseilles on the Mediterranean shore." Norway had its "lowest temperatures in more than two decades." (From the 1/8/10 Verizon News online.) And in Florida, USA, temperatures there broke 80 year old records for low temperatures. (From Fox News, 1/11/10.)

5. Dems are calling it quits. Senators Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Byron Dorgan (No. Dak.) will not be running for re-election. In the November, 2009 elections, two significant gubernatorial races went to the Republicans. Chris Christie won in N.J. and Bob McDonnell won in Virginia. Now, we have an election on Tuesday for the Senate seat in Massachusetts that became vacant upon the death of Ted Kennedy. A seat held by the dems/Kennedys for decades. But democrat state Attorney General Martha Coakley has been slipping in the polls to republican state Senator Scott Brown. Obama plans on making a last minute trip to Mass. to help bolster Coakley. Hopefully, it will be with the same ineffectiveness that he brought to the N.J. and Virginia races.

6. As previously discussed here, Iran has been given deadlines with regards to their nuclear program. October, 2009. December 31, 2009. So the U.S. is now working with Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany to try to come up with some new sanctions. The U.N. Security Council has already imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran. I wonder how many more sets of sanctions it will take until Iran finally has a nuke. Am I missing something here?

7. Israel had to cancel plans to send a delegation of IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) officers to Britain. Like other European countries, Britain has a "universal jurisdiction law" allowing them to decide cases in which Britain has no actual interest. Israeli civilian leaders have also had to avoid even diplomatic visits to Britain for fear of arrest. All this because of alleged war crimes committed by Israel in defending itself against Hamas rocket and missile attacks.

And for those who may think the above has no effect on the U.S., think again. Unlike President Bush, the Obama administration is pushing to get the U.S. to sign on to the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court. Secretary Clinton expressed her "great regret but it is a fact we are not yet a signatory" to the Rome Statute. This, of course, would subject U.S. military personnel - and civilian leaders - to the jurisdiction of that court.

Given our President's lack of enthusiasm for "American exceptionalism," it should be no surprise that he would be willing to give up American autonomy and sovereignty to international organizations. As John Bolton discusses in the January, 2010 issue of Commentary, Obama is the first "post-American" president.

8. From George Mitchell, Obama's Middle East Czar, explaining why the U.S. may have to punish Israel and withhold loan guarantees: "We think the way to approach this is to try to persuade the parties what is in their self-interest." (From the 1/15/10Jewish Press.)

This sounds strangely similar to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, democratic Congress member from Florida. On Fox, she was asked why the democrats are pushing a health care bill the American people do not want. She felt it was her job, as part of the leadership, to explain to the American people why the health care bill is good for them.

Given the extreme arrogance of the "elite" in D.C. - Obama, et. al. - anyone doubt that the dems will attempt to rush through their health care plan if Scott Brown wins and the dems no longer have a filibuster-proof Senate?

Or maybe they can set up re-programming camps for those of us who have not accepted the party line and just do not know what is in our best interest.