The Democrats’ anti-constitutional constitutional amendment. Updated

May 19, 2014
"Senate Grinch"

Hates free speech

Upset by court rulings that, in effect, declare that “free speech” really means free speech, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced a constitutional amendment granting Congress sweeping powers to regulate campaign expenditures, both monetary and “in kind.” This amendment has the full support of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):

“The shadowy Koch brothers are attempting… a hostile takeover of American democracy,” Reid charged Thursday. “No one should be able to pump unlimited funds into a political campaign.”

Reid urged his fellow lawmakers to support a proposed constitutional amendment, written by Democratic Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsored by 40 of the Senate’s 55 Democrats, that would give Congress the right to regulate all political contributions and all spending of any kind in all federal elections. (It would also give states the power to do the same in state elections.) The Supreme Court has held such far-reaching restrictions to be unconstitutional, which is why Reid wants to take the extreme step of changing the nation’s founding document.

“Amending our Constitution is not something we take lightly,” Reid said. “But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced.”

You know, I fully expect Reid to soon start ranting about strawberries. But, back to the Left’s latest assault on free speech, here’s the key excerpt from the proposed amendment:

Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to federal elections, including setting limits on (1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, federal office, and (2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Byron York is right, of course: this amendment has no chance of passing the Senate and House, where two-thirds votes are needed, nor has it any chance of being approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures. It’s another attempt to find an issue that will get their base voters excited for the coming election and distract from the rolling Obamacare disaster by invoking two great liberal demons — the Koch brothers (1) and the Citizens United decision.

What is disturbing, however, is Reid and the Democrats’ willingness to put themselves on record as willing to curb our fundamental freedoms, free speech being a natural, unalienable right, in pursuit of short-term electoral goals. It’s emblematic of progressivism, which sees the Constitution as obsolete, and of the Democrats’ predilection for putting their narrow electoral interests ahead of the nation’s well-being — for instance, undercutting American forces even before they enter battle in order to oppose a Republican president. It’s not new, however; we’ve seen plenty of examples in recent years of anti-democratic Democrats, such as former Governor Perdue of North Carolina suggesting that congressional elections be delayed, something not even done during the Civil War, largely because her party was set to do poorly.

It’s not that this amendment would be unconstitutional –by the nature of the process, ratification would make it part of the Constitution and therefore “constitutional”– but its very nature is profoundly and disturbingly anti-constitutional, striking at the concepts of natural rights that are foundational to the Republic. Political speech must be free to have any meaning at all, and that includes expressing your political opinions by donating money and time or other property to further a cause or support a candidate. That the Democrats would think of attacking this fundamental freedom in order to excite their base speaks of a deep rot within their party (2), something that should concern us all.

PS: Take a look at this list of the biggest donors since 1989, and note a couple of things: first, 11 of the top 16 at least lean Democratic. You don’t find one that leans Republican until number 17. And the evil Koch brothers, whom Harry Reid denounces daily like Cato demanding the destruction of Carthage, only place 59th on the list. That alone reveals the vile cynicism of his bleatings: the Majority Leader of the United States Senate by name demagoguing against two American citizens, regardless of the truth. Second, the proposed amendment would require statutes passed by Congress to be implemented. Take a good look again at that donor list: unions and other groups have donated tens of millions to the Democrats, with unions also providing invaluable in-kind donations in the form of campaign volunteers. Does anyone think the Democrats, given half a chance, wouldn’t write implementing legislation that somehow allowed these groups to keep right on helping Democrats? If so, raise your hand; I have a bridge to sell you.

Footnotes:
(1) A pair of libertarian billionaires who are apparently plotting to take over the government with the horrifying goal of leaving us alone. Where do I sign up?
(2) Not that I wholly excuse Republicans. John McCain’s sponsorship of the hateful McCain-Feingold bill revealed him as a constitutional lightweight.

UPDATE: National Review’s Charles Cooke wrote about this a few days and had the following to say:

The move is the final act of a contrived and hamfisted morality play, whose purpose is to cast the Democratic party and its allies as champions of the people and the Kochs as a proxy for all that ails America. Lofty as its broader goal may seek to be, the whole endeavor nevertheless carries with it the ugly smack of the Bill of Attainder — of a change to the nation’s constitutional settlement that serves largely to punish two people that the man with the gavel disdains. Rambling in the general direction of a BuzzFeed reporter earlier this week, Reid inadvertently revealed something about his motivations. His reelection to the Senate in 1998, he griped, “was awful”: “I won it, but just barely. I felt it was corrupting, all this corporate money.” Translation: I almost lost my seat once, so I need the supreme law to protect me. Corruption, schmorruption. This is about power.

Do read the whole thing.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you, @SharylAttkisson

June 14, 2013

A few weeks ago, I mentioned CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s strong suspicions that her home and work computers had been accessed by unknown persons. Coming in the wake of revelations about the government’s seizure of phone records for journalists and editors at the Associated Press and a secret warrant for phone records and email belonging to Fox reporter James Rosen charging him with being an unindicted co-conspirator under the Espionage Act of 1917, Attkisson’s accusations couldn’t be dismissed as paranoia or mere attention-seeking.

In fact, she was right:

“A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson’s accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data.

This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion.

CBS News is taking steps to identify the responsible party and their method of access.”

Now, as an expert contacted by the Post’s Erik Wemple points out, this doesn’t necessarily mean it was the government:

Eugene H. Spafford, a Purdue University professor and specialist in computer security, said that Attkisson’s initial statements about computer intrusions left open a wide field of possibilities, from viruses to botnet activity to acquaintances to criminal gangs to the government. 

And an investigative reporter as determined as Attkisson, who’s looked into many sensitive topics –such as Fast and Furious… hmmm…–  could well have alarmed many different types of people who might want to find out what she knows, who she’s talking to, etc.

But, in late 2012, Attkisson was writing a series of articles on the Benghazi massacre that weren’t toeing the government line. Indeed, she was asking some tough questions, especially about the lack of a military rescue mission:

CBS News has been told that, hours after the attack began, an unmanned Predator drone was sent over the U.S. mission in Benghazi, and that the drone and other reconnaissance aircraft apparently observed the final hours of the protracted battle.

The State Department, White House and Pentagon declined to say what military options were available. A White House official told CBS News that, at the start of the attack, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.”

But it was too late to help the Americans in Benghazi. The ambassador and three others were dead.

(hat tip: Ed Morrissey for the reminder of this)

That highlighted paragraph indicates anonymous sources. And if the government was forcing access to James Rosen’s phone records and emails (and his parents’ emails), and CBS was talking to anonymous sources giving out information embarrassing to the Obama administration, then it’s not at all hard to look at the break-in into Attkisson’s computers and wonder if something similar happened here.

It will be interesting to see what CBS discovers, and I suspect the relevant committee’s of Congress will have even more work when they do find out who was behind it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Tales of the #Thugocracy: Oh, so that’s why they raided Gibson Guitar

May 26, 2013
"Nice business you got here..."

“Nice business you got here…”

You might recall a bizarre federal raid on legendary guitar manufacturer Gibson Guitar back in 2011: they were accused of importing illegally harvested wood from India and Madagascar under a century-old law. The feds showed up with automatic weapons, seized “evidence,” and generally disrupted operations to Gibson’s great cost. After all that, no criminal charges were filed, but Gibson had to agree to pay a $300,000 fine and toss $50,000 to an environmental group as penance for being “careless.”

Weird, right? Why all this attention to Gibson, when rival Martin & Co. used the very same “illegal” wood, yet wasn’t raided?

And, just like that, a light goes on:

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson’s chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.

What would have seemed like a crazy conspiracy theory straight out of the fever swamps just a year ago now looks all too plausible, after the IRS scandal and the news that the Obama people had been targeting conservatives since 2008.

The message here to Mr. Juszkiewicz and people like him is crystal clear: “Thinking about making a political donation? Maybe you should think again.

“First Amendment?” What’s that?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Tyrant Governor of New York will not tolerate dissent from his underling sheriffs

May 25, 2013

Who does this guy think he is, Mike Bloomberg? Angered by county sheriffs opposed to the draconian gun law the Governor recently rammed through the legislature, Andrew Cuomo has evidently threatened to use a rarely invoked power to remove dissident sheriffs from office:

Opposition to the new law has simmered in upstate areas since Cuomo signed the law in January. Many county sheriffs oppose it, particularly its expanded definition of banned assault weapons, and have spoken out around the state. In January, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association wrote Cuomo with an analysis, and later suggested tweaks.

Cuomo invited its leaders to the Capitol last month, people briefed on the meeting said. The group included Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Peter Kehoe and Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss.
“We didn’t get a response (to the analysis) from him, but we could tell after the budget was passed that none of those recommendations were taken into consideration,” Moss said. “When we got there, we never got to the contents of the letter.”

Instead, Cuomo pushed the sheriffs to stop publicly speaking out against the act, Moss said.

“The governor was of the opinion that the sheriffs around the state should not be interjecting their personal opinions in reference to the law,” Moss said, adding that Cuomo said sheriffs can’t do that and enforce the law.

One person briefed on the meeting said Cuomo threatened to remove sheriffs from office, a little-used power afforded the state’s chief executive under the state constitution. Moss would not confirm this. He did say the meeting was heated at times, but overall he described it as “cordial.”

It’s one thing to use this power to remove a corrupt sheriff, or one unable to continue in his job because of health. But, to use it to bludgeon into silence men sworn to uphold the law and the state and federal constitutions, and who themselves have the right of free speech? I think that’s called “tyranny.” Somewhere, Hugo Chavez nods in approval.

Via Bryan Preston, who’s right: this has a lot in common with the scandals coming out of the Obama administration, for both represent abuses of power and the authoritarian heart of progressivism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#WarOnJournalism: Who’s been snooping in Sharyl Attkisson’s computers?

May 21, 2013

Hmmm… Maybe FOX’s James Rosen and the AP aren’t the only targets of the White House’s ire? Here’s a radio interview CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson did with WPHT’s Chris Stigall in which she mentions unknown parties have accessed her home and work computers since February, 2011:

You’ll recall that both my blog-buddy ST and I have mentioned Attkisson several times on our blogs for being one of the few remaining MSM reporters actually willing to hold the administration to account for their actions, Fast & Furious and Benghazi being the most notable. She so got under their skin that, as Allahpundit reminds us, a DoJ official screamed and cursed at her over the phone. Attkisson herself has recently said that she has been shut out by her White House sources. There have been rumors (1) that David Rhodes, president of CBS News  and brother of Ben Rhodes, a would-be fiction writer and now an Obama national security deeply involved in Benghazi, might fire Attkisson for being too aggressive in her coverage of the White House… where his brother works.

Keep in mind that the DoJ got access to James Rosen’s GMail account by affirming to a judge that they believed he was engaged in a criminal conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, and then got a court order forbidding Google from telling Rosen of the access. And now we hear that somebody has been accessing Attkisson’s computers.

What was going on in February 2011? The Fast and Furious scandal, having been rumored for months, was finally breaking into the mainstream news, and Attkisson was filing stories that weren’t settling for administration spin.

And about that same time, she gets hacked.

What. A. Coincidence.

Footnote:
(1) Attkisson has said there has been no pressure from any CBS News executive regarding her Benghazi reporting.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS scandal: Democrats make clear where they stand on the 1st Amendment

May 16, 2013

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a resolution condemning the Internal Revenue Service for trampling the Constitutional rights of Americans. (For example) It didn’t get very far:

Today, Senate Democrats placed a hold on Sen. Rand Paul’s recent resolution that condemns the targeting of Tea Party groups by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and calls for an investigation into this practice.

“This resolution is not about Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal. It is about arrogant and unrestrained government vs. the rule of law. The First Amendment cannot and should not be renegotiated depending on which party holds power,” Sen. Paul said. “Each senator took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, yet Senate Democrats chose to block my resolution and thus refused to condemn the IRS for trampling on our First Amendment rights. I am incredibly disappointed in Washington’s party politics and I am determined to hold the IRS accountable for these unjust acts.”

I’m not sure why anyone would find this surprising: as the party of arrogant, unrestrained government, the leaders of which think the Constitution is obsolete, well, of course they would shoot this resolution down.

It threatens their very reason for existence, after all.

via Stephen Green.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS scandal: Granting tax-exempt status to pro-life groups *if* they agree not to protest Planned Parenthood

May 15, 2013

But they’re absolutely, totally, without a doubt non-political. And don’t you dare say otherwise, wingnut!

IRS officials refused to grant tax exempt status two pro-life organizations because of their position on the abortion issue, according to a non-profit law firm, which said that one group was pressured not to protest a pro-choice organization that endorsed President Obama during the last election.

“In one case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for tax exempt status for Coalition for Life of Iowa. In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent ‘Ms. Richards’ told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood,” the Thomas More Society announced today. “Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved.”

Planned Parenthood endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012.

The article also mentions a Texas pro-life group that had its free speech rights roughed up, too.

With new revelations of IRS abuse coming out seemingly hourly, this would be almost comical if it weren’t for the serious constitutional, legal, and political implications.  Granting tax-exempt status only if they promise not to exercise their First Amendment rights?? Can these morons in IRS really have been so blind as to not see what a bright red line they were crossing? (Or did they think it was an “Obama red line,” and therefore meaningless?)

And let’s not even start with why the press wasn’t asking about these rumors in 2010-2012… smiley angry

via Kevin Eder.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)