Categories

Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category

After Saturday night’s GOP debate, everyone is harping on the need to elect experienced leaders who have a steady hand in times of crisis. That’s essentially the pitch being made by the Establishment candidates. Earlier tonight, I wrote this article to highlight how insignificant experience is if you don’t share the right principles. Why would a constitutional conservative think about voting for Jeb Bush hours after he told CNN’s Dana Bash that he’d like to undo the Citizens United v. the FEC ruling?

The simple answer is they wouldn’t. That’s enough to disqualify Jeb from becoming the GOP nominee. That isn’t the only boneheaded thing he’s done lately, though. Rather than running the joyous campaign he promised when he got in, instead, he attacked almost everyone in the race. The only candidate he didn’t disparage is Gov. Christie.

Gov. Bush asked “We have the front-running candidate, it’s all about him,” Mr. Bush said. “And the two other gifted candidates, they’ve never had a chance to lead. Maybe they can do it, but why would we risk it?” The answer is simple. I don’t put much value on experienced people who think the Bill of Rights is antiquated. Freedom of speech isn’t granted by the government, Gov. Bush. It’s a right given to us by “Nature’s God.” In short, get your grubby progressive mitts off my right to criticize politicians.

Apparently, Gov. Bush didn’t learn that constitutional republics are messy things. They’re that way intentionally. The Founding Fathers didn’t want ‘efficient government’. Dictatorships are efficient but they don’t exactly listen to the people. Mob rule democracies aren’t significantly better. Mobs have a habit of not listening to thoughtful people in the minority. For examples of this, check out Pelosi’s iron-fisted rule of the House in 2009-2010 when shoving Obamacare down our throats.

One of the reasons why Constitution-loving conservatives have rejected the Establishment candidates is because the Establishment candidates don’t properly respect the Constitution. Jeb Bush just reminded us that he doesn’t respect the Constitution.

Let’s hope our friends in South Carolina give him the beating he deserves for abandoning the Constitution.

Earlier this morning, I wrote this article with the intent of proving Donald Trump is a First Amendment-hating tyrant who hasn’t hesitated in intimidating reporters into not writing unflattering articles about him. It’s unforgivable when a politician attempts to chill free speech and limit the rights citizens have to gather information about their government.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It isn’t right that a presidential candidate has banned reporters from public events because he didn’t like their coverage of him. That’s what fascists and third world dictators do. That’s unacceptable in the United States.

Technorati: , , , ,

Daniel Greenfield’s article provides a worthwhile teaching moment on what’s constitutional and what isn’t. Greenfield’s article starts with him saying “Trump is a monster, a madman and a vile racist. He’s just like Hitler. Or Jimmy Carter. During the Iranian hostage crisis, Carter issued a number of orders to put pressure on Iran. Among these, Iranians were banned from entering the United States unless they oppose the Shiite Islamist regime or had a medical emergency.”

Later in the article, Greenfield wrote “Now unlike Muslims, Iranians were not necessarily supportive of Islamic terrorism. Many were and are opponents of it. Khomeini didn’t represent Iran as a country, but his Islamist allies. So Trump’s proposal is far more legitimate than Carter’s action.” That’s a non sequitur defense of Trump’s bombastic statement. It’s illegal to exclude people based on their religious beliefs.

Kimberly Guilfoyle explained, saying that “[we] are signatories to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there are international laws and treaties that we are bound by. You can not ban people based on their religious beliefs.”

Treaties that the president signs and that Congress approves in its advise and consent responsibilities are then treated as equal in legal strength as a US statute passed by Congress and signed by the president. Further, treaties that’ve been signed by the president, then ratified by Congress, can’t be repealed by executive order. Just like repealing statutes, Congress has to pass a bill calling for repeal of the law.

The repeal isn’t complete until the president signs the bill calling for withdrawing from the treaty.

Greenfield finishes by saying “Maybe the professional conservatives running around shrieking their heads off can calm down now long enough to have a rational conversation on the subject.” I’d prefer Mr. Greenfield taking a closer look at the laws that apply to banning people based on their religious beliefs. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights says signatories can’t deny people rights based on their religious beliefs. It doesn’t say that the US can’t ban people from specific nations, presumably because of the United States’ right to defend itself.

Chris Murphy is a Democratic senator from Connecticut and, as near as I can tell, a staunch advocate for censorship and a hater of religion. He can afford to be. He’s from Connecticut, which isn’t known for its deep religious roots.

Peggy Noonan is a former speechwriter for the greatest president of my lifetime, Ronald Reagan. She’s a gifted wordsmith and a lady of stature and dignity. Even when I disagree with her, which is occasionally, I still have immense respect for her. That’s because, at heart, she’s constantly cheering to see America at its best. She isn’t an ideologue. Instead, she’s a patriot. That’s why I couldn’t resist reading Ms. Noonan’s column about the fragile state of the First Amendment.

She noted that Sen. Murphy injected invective into the conversation about San Bernardino while it was happening, saying “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again.” Then Ms. Noonan made the observation that there’s “a real censorship movement backed by an ideology that is hostile to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Twenty years ago, that statement would’ve been laughed at. Today, thoughtful people furrow their brow and worry that Ms. Noonan is right. Then Ms. Noonan offered this insight into winning debates:

If you really are for some new gun-control measure, if you are serious about it, you just might wait a while, until the blood has cooled, for instance, and then try to win people over to see it your way. You might offer information, argument, points of persuasion. Successful politics involves pulling people together. You don’t use a tragedy to shame and silence those who don’t see it your way; that only hardens sides.

I won’t assume that Sen. Murphy is interested in winning a debate. (Ms. Noonan didn’t either.) It’s quite possible that Sen. Murphy only wants to speak up and be heard.

Now that the blood has started cooling, it’d be easy to criticize Sen. Murphy. I won’t do that, though. I’ll just add some information and, hopefully, a little insight into this nightmare. First, the information flooding in is that this wasn’t a criminal action as much as it was a terrorist attack. Though President Obama and the FBI have tap-danced around that possibility, the truth is that that proverbial train left the station when the FBI found literally thousands of rounds of ammunition, a bomb-making factory in the Farooks’ apartment and an assortment of pipe bombs and IED in the Farooks’ SUV.

The insight I have for Sen. Murphy is to start talking about how President Obama, the FBI and our other intelligence agencies can connect the terrorist network dots faster. They clearly were caught flat-footed on San Bernardino. Couple that with their unwillingness to call it what it obviously is and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

This post is meant as a bit of a thank you to Ms. Noonan for writing something insightful on the subject of winning debate. Here’s hoping for more sanity to break out shortly.

Prof. Mark Jaede has a lengthy history of being a DFL activist/operative. I first came face-to-face with it during the state government shutdown in 2011 but I’d heard of Jaede’s activism before that. This year, Prof. Jaede has taken his activism to a new level when Prof. Jaede complained publicly about this LTE. Specifically, Prof. Jaede complained that the St. Cloud Times editorial started by asking “Why are Muslim leaders silent?” in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks. Later in the editorial, the writer got more specific, saying that there “has been no such response from Muslim leaders around the world to express their condemnation of terrorism and to let the global community know the difference between the religion of Islam and extremism.”

Yesterday, Prof. Jaede posted something to SCSU’s discuss listserv. In his post to the discuss listserv, Prof. Jaede admitted that he’d done “something I have never done before. I wrote to a newspaper asking them to take down a letter to the editor.” Here’s Prof. Jaede’s letter to the St. Cloud Times:

I am writing in regard to the above-referenced letter that appeared today in the online edition of the Times.

The letter is not merely an opinion piece. It makes a claim of fact that is patently false. Muslims all over the world have denounced the terrorism of ISIS. Muslim leaders here in St. Cloud have denounced it, and the Times has printed their statements. Why would you print this letter when you know it to be both false and likely to further anti-Muslim bigotry in our area? And why have the comments been turned off? Responsible readers can’t even point out the falsehoods.

Much as I have disagreed with many opinion pieces in the Times, I have never before been moved to write to object to the publication of a piece. This letter crosses the line. It goes beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.

Please take it down, or at least publish a disclaimer pointing out the falsehood of its central claim.

Mark Jaede
St. Cloud

It’s one thing to ask a newspaper to “at least publish a disclaimer” highlighting the inaccuracies of the LTE. It’s another to ask a newspaper to unpublish an article that’s been posted on their website. That’s called censorship, which is prohibited by the First Amendment. Prof. Jaede said that “this letter crosses the line” by going “beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.” The remedy for crossing that line isn’t to censor the writer. It’s to impeach them with your own LTE.

Methinks it’s time for Prof. Jaede to refresh his understanding of the First Amendment.

It isn’t difficult to find a liberal who’s willing to betray his principles, at least when it comes to campaign finance. Russ Feingold is that type of progressive. He’s definitely a do-as-I-say-no-as-I-do progressive. This time, the lesser known half of McCain-Feingold, the bill written by politicians to protect incumbents under the guise of preventing corruption, held a fundraiser in Washington, DC, the US capitol of corruption according to progressives like Feingold.

According to the article, the “fundraiser took place Tuesday night at 201 Bar’s Executive Lounge located just a short walking distance from the Capitol. The dimly lit basement-level bar was reserved by the Russ for Wisconsin campaign.” The reason that’s a big deal is because Feingold said it’s a big deal. According to Feingold, “During a panel at the Chicago Humanities Festival in 2012, the former 18-year senator singled out the exact location of Tuesday’s fundraiser as a venue where lobbyists buy influence and lawmakers circumvent rules when asked by an audience member to comment on the amount of money lobbyists donate to individuals and political campaigns.”

Joining with John McCain, they crusaded for rooting out the corruption in DC by limiting political speech. In McCain’s and Feingold’s definition, corruption was found anywhere in Washington, DC where people contributed money to politicians.

This is obviously part of the issue. It’s not that lobbyist themselves give huge campaign contributions it’s that they become conduits for collecting large contributions,” Feingold said. “So in Washington typically a member of the House or Senate will be having, quote, a ‘fundraiser’, and the lobbyist will bring in a few people and a bunch of checks, and this, you know, this is the same lobbyist who is arranging to have meetings to talk to this guy about policy in his office the next day—hopefully they’re not doing the same thing in the office because that’s illegal—but I mean, it’s across the street. You know, at the 201 Club or the Monocle.

Feingold is a fossil. Also, he’s bought into the DC theory that the people can’t be trusted to make decisions. He’s repeatedly proven that he doesn’t like the First Amendment.

Donald Trump’s anti-constitutional bias is showing. While it’s likely that his supporters will love Trump’s brashness, it’s almost certain that Constitution-loving people will reject Mr. Trump’s foolishness. What type of idiot would say it’s ok to shut down mosques, then not expect a future president to shut down a Christian church or Jewish synagogue while citing the Trump precedent?

If the Constitution doesn’t protect everyone’s constitutionally-protected rights, it doesn’t protect anyone’s constitutionally-protected rights.

What type of thinking goes into making a statement that a President Trump would shut down a mosque? Shutting down any church, synagogue or mosque would clearly be an impeachable offense since it’d violate one of the most important parts of the Constitution, which presidents swear an oath to protect. Appearing on Sean Hannity’s show last night, Trump said things are “happening a lot faster than anybody understands. There’s absolutely no choice. Some really bad things are happening and they’re happening fast.”

Is Mr. Trump getting intelligence briefings that tell him that entire mosques are getting taken over by ISIS jihadists? Or is he just playing into people’s fears of terrorists? It’s a reactionary reaction that doesn’t deal with a specific problem. Most worrisome is that Mr. Trump insists that things are “happening a lot faster than anybody understands.” What’s Mr. Trump’s proof? Is he just venting? How would shutting down a series of mosques solve our terrorist problem? Would shutting down a series of mosques be a gift to the jihadists?

If things are “happening a lot faster than anybody understands”, then it’s imperative that multiple mosques be shut. This isn’t a crisis if only one mosque is radicalized.

Here’s some questions to Mr. Trump’s supporters:

  1. Would you support a candidate that wanted to shut down churches or synagogues?
  2. Is it ok for a presidential candidate to make statements without proof to support their radical proposals
  3. Does Mr. Trump’s diatribe solve any problems or does it just make you feel good that someone’s making outrageous statements?

If you’re just tickled pink because Trump’s diatribes make you feel good, then you’re settling for things. That’s what liberals do. Conservatives strive for something higher. We strive for constitutionally-supported solutions, especially to this nation’s biggest problems.

Any idiot can throw a hissy fit. Gov. Dayton and Mr. Trump are proof of that. It requires intelligence, temperament and discipline to solve complex problems like ISIS. Thus far, Trump hasn’t shown he has any of those qualities.

Finally, it’s painfully obvious that he never will have the qualities required of presidents.

Southwest Minnesota State University, aka SMSU, has been ‘recognized’ as being unique, though that doesn’t mean it’s a positive thing. SMSU has ‘won’ the honor of being FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month. According to FIRE’s Samantha Harris, SMSU’s Prohibited Code of Conduct for students bans “cultural intolerance,” which is defined as any “verbal or physical contact directed at an individual or group such as racial slurs, jokes, or other behaviors that demean or belittle a person’s race, color, gender preference, national origin, culture, history or disability, is prohibited.”

Ms. Harris is right in saying that if “students’ free speech rights exist only at the mercy of the most sensitive members of the university community, then meaningful debate becomes impossible.” Ms. Harris adds that under “SMSU’s policy, any speech or expression that another student subjectively finds “demeaning” or “belittling” is subject to punishment. And on today’s college campus, where students increasingly demand the right to emotional comfort, that often includes a tremendous amount of speech, including the expression of unpopular views on political and social issues.”

The question frequently comes back to who the final determiner is of what’s acceptable or what’s offensive. Frankly, I don’t trust anyone to be the determiner of those sorts of things.

According to this highly unscientific poll, Donald Trump won CNBC’s GOP debate quite handily. According to the online poll, Trump dominates with 48% of the vote, followed by Ted Cruz with 19.12% and Marco Rubio with 14.28%.

Finding out that Donald Trump won the troll poll immediately following a debate isn’t surprising. It’s like finding out that Rand Paul won the CPAC Straw Poll. It’s as surprising as finding out that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett made money last week.

Honestly, Donald Trump had a decent performance, with one high profile weak spot and one low profile weak spot. Mr. Trump’s high profile weak spot came when he insisted that he hadn’t criticized Mark Zuckerberg about H1B visas. The only thing weaker than his answer was that CNBC moderator Becky Quick apologized even though she got it right. Mr. Trump did criticize Mr. Zuckerberg about H1B visas. It’s even posted on Mr. Trump’s campaign website on his immigration issues page.

The other weak spot for Mr. Trump came when he started talking about how he isn’t being influenced by super PACs. From there, he pivoted to rail against super PACs, saying “Super PACs are a disaster, they’re a scam, they cause dishonesty, and you’d better get rid of them because they are causing a lot of bad decisions to be made by some very good people.”

Trump will get hit on this in the coming days, especially by columnists like George Will, who will excoriate him for hating the protections that the First Amendment provides.

The consensus from last night’s debate was that Rubio won it going away, that Cruz helped himself by ridiculing the CNBC moderators for asking gotcha questions and that it was terrible night for Jeb! The truth is that Mr. Trump was fairly subdued (perhaps sedated? LOL) last night. He didn’t have his swagger going, either, which meant he just bided his time before getting out of town ASAP.

That’s hardly the description of a candidate who won the debate handily.

Laurence Tribe’s op-ed about the King v. Burwell ruling is typical progressivism. It’s all about rationalizing a terrible, wrong-headed decision. Tribe made some statements that deserve rebutting. This is one of those statements:

The Supreme Court correctly applied standard interpretive methods in holding that, despite the apparent clarity of those four words, the law makes subsidies available on all exchanges, state and federal. Looking to the overall purpose, structure, and context of the Act, the court asked with incredulity why Congress would risk total implosion of the ACA just to encourage states to create their own exchanges especially when Congress itself provided the federal backstop.

When the words are clear, which they are, the test that Tribe mentioned isn’t applied. Typically, that test is only applied if the words are ambiguous. Chief Justice Roberts said that the 4 words were “inartful drafting.” Justice Scalia’s response was that it wasn’t likely that that inartful drafting would appear in the ACA’s language 7 different times.

As for whether Congress “would risk total implosion of the ACA just to encourage states to create their own exchanges”, the answer is yes. That’s why the federal government didn’t start building their website right away. Their plan — their concerted plan — was to pressure states into creating their own exchanges. Further, the IRS didn’t write its rule extending subsidies to people who bought their insurance through HealthCare.gov until it was clear that a substantial number of states weren’t going to create state-run exchanges.

Isn’t it curious that that clarification wasn’t the first thing mentioned in the rules? The instructions to the IRS weren’t written until late in the process. Why wasn’t it the first rule written? If the ACA’s success hinged on the subsidies, shouldn’t that have been the first rule written?

The people also won because the Roberts Court has given them a solid basis for trusting that hard-won victories in Congress will remain intact when challenged in the court. When it decides constitutional cases, like the much-anticipated same-sex marriage cases, the court’s role is to serve as a check on the people, ensuring that legislative or popular majorities don’t act in violation of the Constitution. This is the sense in which the court has famously been described as “counter-majoritarian.”

The Constitution was built to restrict what government isn’t authorized to do. That’s insanity. The Fourth Amendment wasn’t written to tell people what they couldn’t do. It was written to tell government what it can’t do. Specifically, the Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from conducting unreasonable searches against private citizens and publicly-traded companies.

The First Amendment prohibits Congress from writing laws that restrict people’s ability to speak out against politicians and government. It isn’t a check on people. It’s another check on government.

If Prof. Tribe can’t understand the most basic principles underpinning the Constitution, then his opinions on Supreme Court rulings is questionable.