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Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category

Virginia Postrel’s article is a welcome spotlight on the corrupt practices of “Citrus Community College near Los Angeles.” Thankfully, someone afflicted by Citrus Community College’s corruption has a spine:

Last September, Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle, a student at Citrus Community College near Los Angeles, was collecting signatures on a petition asking the student government to condemn spying by the National Security Agency. He left the school’s designated “free speech area” to go to the student center. On his way there, he saw a likely prospect to join his cause: a student wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt. He stopped the student and they began talking about the petition. Then an administrator came out of a nearby building, informed them their discussion was forbidden outside the speech zone, and warned Sinapi-Riddle he could be ejected from campus for violating the speech-zone rule.

Sinapi-Riddle has now sued Citrus College, a state institution, for violating his First Amendment rights by, among other things, demanding that “expressive activities” be confined to the 1.34 percent of campus designated as a “free speech area.” Perhaps the most outrageous part of his experience is how common it is. The vague bans on “offensive” language and other “politically correct” measures that most people think of when they imagine college speech codes are increasingly being joined by quarantine policies that restrict all student speech, regardless of its content.

People don’t have a constitutional right to not be offended. As Ms. Postrel, these policies aren’t just anti-constitutional, they’re anti-educational:

Contrary to what many people seem to think, higher education doesn’t exist to hand out job credentials to everyone who follows a clearly outlined set of rules. (Will this be on the exam? Do I have to come to class?) Education isn’t a matter of sitting students down and dumping pre-digested information into their heads.

Higher education exists to advance and transmit knowledge, and learning requires disagreement and argument. Even the most vocational curriculum, accounting, physical therapy, civil engineering, graphic design, represents knowledge accumulated through trial and error, experimentation and criticism. That open-ended process isn’t easy and it often isn’t comfortable. The idea that students should be protected from disagreeable ideas is a profoundly anti-educational concept.

That Citrus Community College thinks that they can establish a rule that trumps the First Amendment of our Constitution is stunning. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights trump everything. If a law doesn’t fit within the Constitution’s framework, it’s unconstitutional and it should be repealed ASAP.

Why would a college want to brag that they’re producing intellectual wimps incapable of dealing with life’s uglier moments? That doesn’t make sense, especially to employers. They’re looking for people who can defend their ideas, who can stand up to criticism and still deliver a high-quality product.

Places like Citrus Community College and other like-minded institutions are producing the opposite of what businesses are looking for.

Sinapi-Riddle, in other words, can make a strong case that the Citrus Community College District blatantly violated his First Amendment rights. That’s why his lawsuit and two others involving speech zones at other public schools are part of a new litigation push by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil-liberties watchdog group on whose board I serve. By bringing cases that don’t require new precedents, FIRE hopes to make public colleges pay for their violations of free speech and thereby change the financial incentives facing administrators. “They’re probably going to succeed,” says Volokh, who is not involved in the litigation, “because the case law is generally on their side.”

These lawsuits are great if you’re attempting to right a wrong. Litigation should always be a weapon in the citizen’s arsenal if anyone violated their constitutional rights. What’s better, though, is that state governing boards would discipline institutions that violate students’, or faculty’s, civil rights before it gets to a lawsuit.

Shouldn’t universities be held to a high standard of obeying students’ civil rights? After all, these instutions are shaping future captains of industry. They should respect a person’s civil rights.

I suspect, however, that they aren’t enforcing the Constitution because today’s ‘intellectuals’ don’t agree with the US Constitution. That attitude must stop ASAP. Any institution that doesn’t respect the Constitution deserves getting ridiculed. It’s that simple.

It’s time universities not hire administrators who won’t sign a pledge to live by the Constitution. It’s time that attitudes started changing about the Bill of Rights.

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Yesterday, I wrote this post about how Kevin Adee, the parade organizer for the International Falls 4th of July Parade, wouldn’t let Charlie Makidon, a disabled veteran, participate in International Falls’ parade. In that post, I mentioned Mr. Makidon’s lit piece that he wanted to distribute. Here is the front of Mr. Makidon’s lit piece:

Here’s the other side of Mr. Makidon’s lit piece:

Since writing that first post, I found out that Mr. Makidon was the commander of the Disabled American Veterans chapter in St. Paul, MN from 2004-05.

I don’t know if Adee is supporting Nolan officially but I can say with certainty that he ran interference for Rick Nolan by not letting Mr. Makidon participate in yesterday’s parade.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Mr. Makidon spent $160 getting those lit pieces made. That’s before driving to International Falls from the Brainerd Lakes area.

Terry Stone, the Chairman of the Koochiching County Republican Party, got it right when he said “I guess the First Amendment’s protections don’t extend all the way to the Canadian border.”

That’s the sad truth. It’s also infuriating.

Finally, check out this article, which I wrote about the incident for Examiner.

I didn’t anticipate the anxiety I would cause at SCSU with this post. From what I gather, I must’ve touched a nerve with the post. One professor on the professors’ listserv showed their true colors when they added this comment to the ‘discussion’:

Words have meanings & I have the perfect right to choose not to waste time reading a piece of obnoxious nonsense. I would hope that no one in higher education subjects their students to mendacious propaganda that distorts the meaning of words!!

Though I don’t know what this professor is objecting to, I’m betting that the professor is upset with the use of the phrase progressive fascism. In the interest of being precise, here’s Dictionary.com’s definition of fascism:

the political movement, doctrine, system…which encouraged militarism and nationalism, organizing the country along hierarchical authoritarian lines

In other words, fascism is the practice of establishing one’s perceived superiority through dictatorial fiat. Proving one’s worth through thoughtful, fact-based arguments isn’t required in this arena. All that’s required, at least in these fascists’ minds, to win the argument is to declare one’s opponent as someone using “mendacious propaganda.” Here’s Dictionary.com’s definition of mendacious propaganda:

propaganda- information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

mendacious- telling lies, especially habitually; dishonest; lying; untruthful: a mendacious person.

The ferocity with which I was criticized by this professor is stunning. It isn’t that this professor’s words sting. They don’t. It’s that the professor didn’t feel the need to know what I’d written before criticizing me.

What’s stunning is that professors who criticized my post without reading it dramatically outnumbered the professors who voiced thoughtful, substantive disagreements with me. If that isn’t the exemplification of fascism, then fascism can’t be defined or exemplified.

Another thing that I think is interesting is that this professor attacked me as being obnoxious and unworthy of serious intellectual consideration. My supposed crime? I agreed with a pair of liberals who criticized the speech police for not tolerating differing points of view. My ‘crime’ was criticizing progressives who didn’t tolerate differing opinions.

My ‘crime’ was criticizing progressive fascists (yes, they exist) for protesting speakers into being disinvited. That’s an act of intellectual cowardice. What are these fascists afraid of? Are they that afraid of opposing opinions?

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Kirsten Powers is one of my favorite liberals. It isn’t that I agree with her all the time, though I suspect I’d find common ground with her more frequently than the mob would like. What I like most about her is that she’s an old-fashioned liberal that delights in the vigorous exchange of ideas. The thing that I like about Ms. Powers’ latest column is that she used the column to take on the anti-free speech fascists:

Welcome to the Dark Ages, Part II. We have slipped into an age of un-enlightenment where you fall in line behind the mob or face the consequences.

How ironic that the persecutors this time around are the so-called intellectuals. They claim to be liberal while behaving as anything but. The touchstone of liberalism is tolerance of differing ideas. Yet this mob exists to enforce conformity of thought and to delegitimize any dissent from its sanctioned worldview. Intolerance is its calling card.

I applaud Ms. Powers for fighting this fight. It’s a fight that can’t be avoided. Here’s why:

As the mob gleefully destroys people’s lives, its members haven’t stopped to ask themselves a basic question: What happens when they come for me? If history is any guide, that’s how these things usually end.

The left’s thought police have a dictatorial mindset. Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, aka FIRE, wrote this op-ed about this year’s “disinvitation season.” Like Kirsten Powers, Lukianoff is a liberal. Here’s what he wrote in his op-ed:

It’s the time of year when efforts heat up by students and faculty to get speakers they dislike disinvited from campus. Every spring, the campus “disinvitation” movement seems to get more intense, and this year its participants have claimed some high-profile scalps.

On Tuesday, former University of California Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced he would withdraw from his address at Haverford College in the face of student protests. Dr. Birgeneau, who seemed to most like a safe choice, was apparently unwelcome because of his alleged mishandling of Occupy Wall Street protests on his campus.

It’s pretty pathetic when a liberal like Chancellor Birgeneau is disinvited because he didn’t give OWS protestors the kid glove treatment. This article highlights Dr. Birgeneau’s ‘sin’:

Despite his left-friendly work on immigration, they said they wanted Birgeneau to apologize for how campus police brutalized Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in 2011 or else they would protest his graduation speech.

It didn’t matter to these fascists that Dr. Birgeneau was a ‘good liberal’. It just mattered that he didn’t apologize because the campus police didn’t give the OWS criminals the kid glove treatment.

Thanks to liberals like Kirsten Powers and Greg Lukianoff, the fascist tide is turning. They’re calling out the fascists for their censorship. Protesting is acceptable. Censorship isn’t. It’s time more leftists stood with Ms. Powers, Mr. Lukianoff and Dr. Birgeneau in standing against the fascist left’s censorship movement.

It’s time to put an end to this anti-American movement.

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The DFL must see the Bill of Rights, specifically the First Amendment, as utterly annoying. What other reason would the DFL have for pushing that’s already been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court? This language from HF1944 looks familiar:

Subdivision 1. Electioneering communication. (a) “Electioneering communication” means a communication distributed by television, radio, satellite, or cable broadcasting system; by means of printed material, signs, or billboards; or through the use of telephone communications that:
(1) refers to a clearly identified candidate;
(2) is made within:
(i) 30 days before a primary election or special primary election for the office sought by the candidate; or (ii) 60 days before a general election or special election for the office sought by the candidate; (3) is targeted to the relevant electorate; and (4) is made without the express or implied consent, authorization, or cooperation of, and not in concert with or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate or a candidate’s principal campaign committee or agent.
(b) If an electioneering communication clearly directs recipients to another communication, including a Web site, on-demand or streaming video, or similar communications, the electioneering communication consists of both the original electioneering communication and the communication to which recipients are directed and the cost of both must be included when determining if disclosure is required under this section.

McCain-Feingold, aka the BCRA, prohibited certain types of speech 30 days before a primary election and/or 60 days before the general election. Here’s the relevant part of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling:

The statute is underinclusive; it only protects a dissenting shareholder’s interests in certain media for 30 or 60 days before an election when such interests would be implicated in any media at any time.

Here’s another important part of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. the FEC:

Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy—it is the means to hold officials ac-countable to the people—political speech must prevail against lawsthat would suppress it by design or inadvertence. Laws burdening such speech are subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the Government to prove that the restriction “furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.”

Despite that clear ruling, the DFL insists on pushing a bill that includes provisions that the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled unconstitutional. It isn’t just that they’ve ruled these provisions unconstitutional, either. It’s that they said future legislation had to pass strict scrutiny, which is described like this:

subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the Government to prove that the restriction “furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.”

The DFL knows that this is an extra-high hurdle that they likely can’t overcome. What’s disturbing is that the DFL isn’t hesitating in writing legislation that violates people’s rights to participate in the political process.

This is the definition of shameful, too:

Question: Why do Democrats hate certain types of political speech?

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How unpopular is the IRS’s proposed rule that would limit 501(c)(4)’s? I think that looking at a sampling of the organizations opposed to the rule would indicate the rule’s foolishness. Let’s start with this criticism from the League of Women Voters:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has proposed very significant changes in the regulations that govern what kind of political activity and how much of that activity a Section 501(c)(4) organization can carry out. This step is our best chance to rein in the secret “dark money” that has been polluting our elections since the Supreme Court’s terrible decision in Citizens United. At the same time, the current proposal would undermine the League’s ability to conduct truly nonpartisan voter service activities across the country.

The LWV truly thinks it’s nonpartisan even though their agenda definitely fits into the Democrats’ agenda. That’s why it doesn’t hide its feelings by saying that they don’t have a problem reining in “the secret ‘dark money’” that’s allegedly polluting elections since the Citizens United v. FEC ruling. Leftists like LWV aren’t the only organizations that despise the IRS’s proposed rule. Americans for Tax Reform, aka ATR, opposes the proposed rule, too:

According to the IRS’s own website, groups “qualify for exemption under section 501(c)(4), [if] the organization’s net earnings [are] devoted primarily to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.” This allows a myriad of citizen groups to educate their communities about issues which would affect them. Because of these activities, citizens can research laws and disseminate the information for free to those who might be impacted by the policies.

But with the proposed changes, organizations would lose their tax exempt status if they continued to spend sizable parts of their budget on the most basic civic activities. Among these activities are:

•Voter registration drives and “get-out-the-vote” drives.
•Distribution of any material prepared by, or on behalf of, a candidate or, by a section 527 political organization (PAC).
•Preparation or distribution of voter guides that refer to candidates (or, in a general election, to political parties).
•Holding any event within 60 days of a general election (or within 30 days of a primary election) at which any candidate appears as part of the program.

Under these criteria, any effort to educate the public about candidates, or the laws being passed by legislatures would be construed as “political activity” and will be used to suppress the free speech of social welfare groups. Candidate debates, although they are useful to the general public, would be shut down in a Machiavellian attempt to prevent ideologically inconvenient groups from threatening the government’s agenda.

This is McCain-Feingold in regulatory form. The BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United v. the FEC ruling. The Supreme Court ruled BCRA unconstitutional because it limited citizens’ rights to participate in the electoral process, which the First Amendment prohibits.

Both ATR and the LWV recognize the fact that the IRS’s rule would eliminate citizens groups from participating in the political process. That’s why they’re both opposing the IRS’s proposed rule.

What’s stunning is the volume of opposition to the IRS’s proposed rule. According to the IRS’s website, 122,135 comments had been left on the proposed rule. By comparison, there were 7,000 comments left for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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Apparently, Al Franken thinks he’s in a competitive race. The first sign that he thinks he’s in a competitive race is that he’s sending out fundraising appeals almost daily. Here’s Sen. Franken’s latest fundraising appeal:

“American Crossroads Preparing to Enter the Game.”
– Roll Call, 2/7/2014

Have you heard of American Crossroads?

It is a super PAC that spent more than $104 million in the 2012 elections. Apparently, they’re getting ready to spend big again.

And the man behind the Crossroads curtain is none other than Karl Rove — who recently called me out by name and pointed to Minnesota as a pickup opportunity for Republicans in 2014.

Crossroads is firing up the attack machine. We need to be ready to fight back. And this month, that means hitting our $200,000 goal. Can you give $5 or more before the deadline?

American Crossroads is one of those groups spawned by Citizens United. And let me tell you, Rove and his pals have a great reason not to like me.

It’s not because they don’t like my jokes. They know I don’t support the special interest, anti-middle class, Karl Rove agenda. I support the protecting Medicare, preserving net neutrality, reversing Citizens United agenda.

I work for families, not super PACs. They may have millions of dollars to spend on attacks, but I’ve got something better: You.

I know you are all committed to strengthening our grassroots efforts. So let’s make sure we’re ready for whatever Rove can throw at us. Give $5 or more toward our $200,000 goal today.

Thank you for your help this month.

Al

I’ll give Franken this: he’s got chutzpah. What other person would whine about Karl Rove’s “special interest, anti-middle class agenda” after voting for every major piece of President Obama’s economic agenda that’s left the nation’s economy struggling? Sen. Franken’s ideological blinders won’t let him admit that Obama’s economic agenda has crippled job growth, stunted economic growth and given special breaks to President Obama’s biggest bundlers. (Think Solyndra, aka taxpayer-subsidized boondoggles.)

For all his whining about Karl Rove’s special interest, anti-middle class policies, Franken has voted for initiatives that’ve left the middle class working part-time or part of the army of chronically unemployed people who’ve been searching for jobs since 2009.

Sen. Franken, why haven’t you supported the Keystone XL Pipeline project? The State Department’s report says environmental impact will be minimal. Is it because you’re beholden to anti-science militant environmentalists? Apparently, you don’t give a damn about blue collar workers who would be put to work building that pipeline.

Sen. Franken, why haven’t you supported the PolyMet precious metals mining project in your own state? Is it because you won’t say no to Minnesota’s militant environmentalists? Is it because you only support blue collar union miners in word, not deed?

That’s the definition of being controlled by anti-middle class special interests. Minnesota deserves better. Minnesota deserves a senator who’ll fight for the middle class.

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This article should frighten Constitution-loving Americans across the political spectrum. Here’s why:

Schumer during remarks to the Center for American Progress argued that Tea Party groups have an unfair financial advantage over left-leaning groups because of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, at one point even suggesting that President Barack Obama go around Congress to impose stricter campaign finance laws.

“It is clear that we will not pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control, but there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies — we must redouble those efforts immediately,” Schumer said.

“One of the great advantages the Tea Party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created [by] the ill advised decision [Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission],” he added. “Obviously the Tea Party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government.”

First, it’s worth noting that Sen. Schumer’s speech is intellectually dishonest. Next, it calls into question whether he or the other signatories to his letter cherish the Constitution or whether they’re willing to sacrifice the Constitution for political expediency.

These questions are aimed specifically at Sen. Schumer and Sen. Franken:

  1. Do all political organizations have the right of free speech or do only some political organizations have First Amendment protections?
  2. If only some political organizations have First Amendment protection, who determines which political organizations have First Amendment protections and which political organizations don’t?
  3. Why do you think that the IRS is the right enforcer of who’s protected by the First Amendment?
  4. What part of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights can you cite that prohibits political speech for some organizations but protects poltiical speech for other organizations?
  5. Shouldn’t the Supreme Court be the final arbiter of what’s constitutional and what isn’t constitutional?
  6. Finally, why haven’t you demanded that the IRS be investigated for targeting citizens because of their political beliefs?

The reality is that Sen. Franken and Sen. Schumer don’t think in terms of what’s protected by the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. They think in terms of what will help them politically. With them, it’s never been about constitutionality. It’s always been about what’ll help them politically.

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A loyal reader of LFR has sent me some hilarious fundraising emails from the Franken campaign. Here’s Sen. Franken’s latest fundraising appeal:

Can you hear that ominous buzzing sound? That’s Washington Republicans, planning their next attempt to hold our economic recovery hostage by playing political games with the debt ceiling.

In case you don’t remember the last manufactured crisis, Republicans threatened to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless we agreed to their demands, meaning we could have defaulted on our national debt for the first time ever — causing a terrible economic crisis.

It was irresponsible. It was reckless. And now many seem willing to do it again.

Don’t let them. Click here to help me tell Republicans in Washington not to play games with the debt ceiling and threaten our economic recovery.

We don’t know what demands Republicans will come up with this time. And we only have one demand of our own: Do your job.

After all, Minnesotans are doing their part to bring our economy back from the recession. They’re working hard every day, opening small businesses, doing the things the middle class has always done to make our country stronger.

Now Washington has a job to do: make sure the full faith and credit of the United States remains strong. And refusing to do that job — playing political games with the debt ceiling — is downright dangerous.

We need to send a clear message to Washington Republicans: Don’t play games with the debt ceiling. Click here to sign my open letter.

Right now, Republicans in Washington are debating exactly which demands they want to make before they agree to do their job. And the buzz about another manufactured crisis is getting louder. That’s bad news for our economy.

So let’s drown out that buzz with a clear message of our own: Don’t play games. Do your job.

Click here to add your name!

Thanks for your help,

Al

P.S.: Defaulting on our debt may sound like a boring bookkeeping term, but it would be an enormous economic disaster, one that economists say would cost us jobs and could put us into another recession. Don’t let Washington Republicans play games with this — it’s too important. Click here to sign my open letter!

This afternoon, the House passed a clean debt ceiling bill. Only 28 Republicans voted for it, including soon-to-be-former Speaker Boehner. It’s worth paying attention to the fact that Sen. Franken insists that the floundering economy is coming back.

That’s stunning because President Obama delayed the employer mandate a second time because he’s seen that it’s a job-killer that will cost lots of Democrats their jobs in the Senate next year.

Here’s another paranoid ranting from the Franken campaign:

In his recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove called me out personally and pointed to Minnesota as a possible pickup for Republicans this fall.

Karl Rove’s the puppet master of a few of those Citizens United-spawned special interest groups. In the 2012 elections, his Crossroads groups spent more than $176 million — mostly attacking candidates.

So you might understand why this shout out isn’t really a good thing in an election year.

If Karl Rove has Minnesota on his radar, we don’t have time to waste. We’ve got to be geared up and ready to fight back. This month, we need to hit $200,000 to fuel our grassroots efforts. Can you contribute $5?

It’s not like Karl Rove would be praising me for my work for Minnesota — protecting net neutrality, reversing the effects of Citizens United, fighting for Minnesota families.

I don’t work for the Karl Rove, special interest agenda. They’d rather see someone in this seat that’s more friendly to them. So they will attack and smear, lie and spend, to get one of their friends to replace me.

And that’s why I have you — my fantastic grassroots supporters — fighting back to make sure that strategy doesn’t work.

Help us hit our $200,000 goal this month. Be one of the first to give $5 now.

Thank you for your support.

Al

P.S.: We need to show Karl Rove and all of the special interests that if you target Minnesota, you have to face us. Give $5 or more right now toward our $200,000 February goal.

This part was especially hilarious:

It’s not like Karl Rove would be praising me for my work for Minnesota, protecting net neutrality, reversing the effects of Citizens United, fighting for Minnesota families.

How many Minnesotans will head into the voting booth next November and exclaim ‘I’m voting for Al Franken because he protected net neutrality’? How many people will say ‘I’m voting for Franken because he’s for reversing the effects of Citizens United’?

Here’s another line worth laughing at:

I don’t work for the Karl Rove special interest agenda. They’d rather see someone in this seat that’s more friendly to them. So they will attack and smear, lie and spend, to get one of their friends to replace me.

I can’t deny that Franken doesn’t work for Karl Rove. I can’t deny that Franken works for the DFL’s anti-jobs special interests either. Notice how Franken hasn’t said a word about the Keystone XL Pipeline project. He hasn’t said a thing about the proposed PolyMet precious metals mining project in northeastern Minnesota either.

That’s because Sen. Franken is doing everything possible to say he’s a friend of union rank-and-file (he isn’t) without alienating the hardline environmentalists. He’s trying to maintain his support amongst these groups that hate each other. If Sen. Franken truly cared about the union rank-and-file, he’d fight to make PolyMet a reality. He isn’t doing that.

People know that I’m Karl Rove’s biggest fan. However, if given the choice between trusting Rove or Franken, that isn’t a difficult choice. Franken hasn’t done a thing to strengthen Minnesota’s economy. Franken’s focus has been on silencing President Obama’s opposition by having the IRS target conservative organizations that applied for tax exempt status. That’s what he meant when he said he’d worked on reversing the effects of Citizens United:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of seven Senate Democrats urged the Internal Revenue Service on Monday to impose a strict cap on the amount of political spending by tax-exempt, nonprofit groups.

The senators said the lack of clarity in the IRS rules has allowed political groups to improperly claim 501(c)4 status and may even be allowing donors to these groups to wrongly claim tax deductions for their contributions. The senators promised legislation if the IRS failed to act to fix these problems.

“We urge the IRS to take these steps immediately to prevent abuse of the tax code by political groups focused on federal election activities. But if the IRS is unable to issue administrative guidance in this area then we plan to introduce legislation to accomplish these important changes,” the senators wrote.

The letter was signed by Senators Charles E. Schumer, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and Al Franken. It follows an earlier letter, sent to the IRS by the same of group of senators last month, that also urged the IRS to better enforce rules pertaining to 501(c)4 organizations.

Sen. Franken teamed with Chuck Schumer, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall and Jeanne Shaheen in encouraging the IRS to intimidate the Democrats’ opponents.

There’s little question that the IRS targeted TEA Party activists and other conservative organizations. There’s no question that these senators intended conservative organization to be singled out for additional scrutiny.

Sen. Schumer is one of the nastiest partisans to ever serve in DC. He certainly isn’t calling for the targeting of hardline progressive organizations. That means Sen. Franken willfully signed onto silencing political speech he didn’t like.

Rather than supporting Sen. Franken, thoughtful Democrats who still believe in the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights should help boot him from office. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is more important than electing a partisan for the long-term health of this great nation.

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Hans Spakovsky’s post on the Heritage Foundation’s blog is a fantastic one-stop-shopping-center for what the IRS’s proposed rules mean:

On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee questioned IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The Committee released an email it had obtained from inside the Treasury Department showing that back in 2012 when it appears that the IRS was in the middle of trying to prevent conservative organizations from being granted tax exempt status, the administration was already planning to draft new regulations restricting the political activity of the same organizations. The email was sent by Ruth Madrigal of the Office of Tax Policy at Treasury to Lois Lerner, the IRS official who refused to answer questions from Congress about the scandal by asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

That June 14, 2012, email indicated that Madrigal and Lerner would be devising the new rules “off-plan,” which is federal government-speak meaning that their plan would not be published on the public schedule of the IRS. What is significant about this email is that it flatly contradicts prior assertions by the Obama administration that the proposed new regulations defining “candidate-related political activity” were planned only after the IRS scandal was made public in order to “clarify” the regulations. Instead, it appears the administration not only tried to delay and prevent conservative organizations from receiving their tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 election, but was also already planning new regulations that would stifle their political speech and potential criticism of the administration.

In short, the Obama administration intended to silence its critics while violating Americans’ constitutional rights. The Obama administration didn’t hesitate in crushing TEA Party organizations’ First Amendment rights.

If we had an attorney general that was interested in justice, Lois Lerner would’ve been prosecuted and convicted already. That’s because she lied to Congress about the IRS scandal was restricted to a couple rogue IRS agents in their Cincinnati office. That’s before finding out that she knew about the proposed new rules that would intentionally trample TEA Party organizations’ First Amendment rights.

What’s most important is that Chuck Schumer and Al Franken think it’s a good idea for the IRS to redouble their efforts of improperly investigating and harassing these TEA Party organizations.

This is just the continuation of the Democrats’ assault against the Citizens United ruling. That’s the ruling which said that it’s better to have more political speech. Democrats disagree, insisting that less political speech, especially that which happens close to an election or primary, is desirable.

When the Citizens United ruling took away the FEC’s ability to limit speech in 2010, the administration switched to Plan B. That meant the IRS would replace the FEC as the federal government’s agency in charge of limiting political speech. John Hinderaker’s post highlights what the Obama administration thinks of political speech. Here’s part of a speech Lois Lerner gave on the subject:

What happened last year was the Supreme Court–the law kept getting chipped away, chipped away, in the federal election arena. The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year-old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns. And everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it. The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it.

They want the IRS to fix the problem. The IRS laws are not set up to fix the problem: (c)(4)s can do straight political activity. They can go out and pay for an ad that says “Vote for Joe Blow.” That’s something they can do as long as their primary activity is their (c)(4) activity, which is social welfare.

Q: When did political speech become a problem to be fixed? A: When this administration took over. It’s been their habit to eliminate political speech that doesn’t sing from their hymnal.

The telling line in Ms. Lerner’s speech is “The IRS Laws aren’t set up to fix the problem: c4s can do straight political activity.” Corporations still can’t contribute to candidates’ campaigns. That shouldn’t mean they can’t spend money campaigning on issues important to them. If unions have the right to campaign on issues important to them, then corporations have the right to do the same.

This article does an excellent job explaining the IRS’s proposed new rules:

But under the proposed rules, which would remove a 501(c)(4)’s tax exemption if it engages in virtually any political activity, if they choose to do so collectively, rather than individually, the organization will be subject to income tax on the amount it collects. If an individual spends $1,000 on posters, he will get $1,000 worth; but if he donates $1,000 to the organization, it will have to pay $350 to the IRS and will be left with only $650 to purchase posters.

That’s the Obama administration’s ‘fix’ to the free speech ‘problem’.
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