While giving the commencement speech at the University of Michigan back in May, President Barack Obama discussed the state of political discourse in the country:
Obama was direct in urging both sides in the political debate to tone it down. “Throwing around phrases like ‘socialists’ and ‘Soviet-style takeover,’ ‘fascists’ and ‘right-wing nut’ — that may grab headlines,” he said. But it also “closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation,” he said.
Passionate rhetoric isn’t new, he acknowledged. Politics in America, he said, “has never been for the thin-skinned or the faint of heart. … If you enter the arena, you should expect to get roughed up.”
Political discourse could be improved, but this is how it has always been in our country, and it has been much worse at various times, such as the Election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and the Civil War.
But if President Obama was serious about raising the level of discourse, he probably shouldn’t say things like this:
Fox News pushes “a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world,” Obama said.
“But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.”
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is in a tough bid for re-election against Dan Webster (R-FL) in a district that leans Republican. He has spent most of his freshman term in office embarassing himself and the residents of Florida’s Eighth Congressional District by:
- Threatening to imprison an activist for running a website critical of him
- Not knowing what he is talking about when it comes to procedure
- Accusing Republicans of wanting the sick to “die quickly”
- Using taxpayer dollars to promote himself
- Calling a Fed official a “K Street Whore”
These are just examples I can think of off the top of my head, I’m sure there are others that I cannot recall. While this stuff has driven liberals to send money to his campaign, it hasn’t counted where it matters.
Recently, Grayson began running an ad questioning the patriotism of his Republican opponent by calling him a “draft dodger”:
Senate Republicans were able to hold together yesterday to filibuster the DISCLOSE Act, legislation that targets political speech as a response to the Citizens United decision:
The measure, known as the Disclose Act, fell one vote short of the 60 needed to break a GOP filibuster in the divided Senate, with Republicans uniformly opposed to the bill. The legislation had also been blocked by Senate Republicans during an earlier vote in July.
The 59-39 vote marks a bitter defeat for Democratic leaders and President Obama, who has repeatedly urged Congress to pass the bill in response to a Supreme Court ruling lifting restrictions on corporate and union political spending.
The outcome represents a major victory for Republicans and major business groups, which lobbied hard against a proposal that they said was an attempt by Democrats to silence GOP-leaning business groups.
You can view the roll call vote here, but there are no surprises. It was a party line vote. Sen. Harry Reid, the leader of Senate Democrats, voted for the bill, which means that the DISCLOSE Act is ostensibly dead. A “nay” vote by the majority leader would have allowed him the right to bring it up at another time.
Rights. They are among the most sacred things that we, as Americans, have. They didn’t come from government, but from the very nature of being human. As a circumstance of birth, we have a right to worship as we desire, the right to defend ourselves from aggression, the right to say what we will, and the right to try and prosper. These rights are ours, regardless of whether governments acknowledge them or not.
However, our rights have been under assault for years. Taxation takes the fruits of our labors for whatever purpose government has entailed. Welfare programs were created to help the needy, but instead create a class of parasites who suck off the funds from those who opt instead to work and produce. Government pretends it has a vested interest in keeping us safe, but that the only way to do it is by removing our means to keep ourselves safe.
Each and every right we have has been attacked at some point. Our right to free speech has been assaulted with so-called “free speech zones” far away from those we wish to speak to. It’s under assault from the DISCLOSE Act that seeks to do nothing more than silence groups who wish to engage in politics. It may come under assault again from the ironically named “Fairness Doctrine” that has been argued should be applied to talk radio – where conservative and libertarian voices thrive – but not network television where progressive voices are the norm.
Far too often, people pick and choose their favorite rights. Many people who support your right to keep and bear arms also supported the PATRIOT Act (another ironically named law) that would render the Fourth Amendment null and void on a whim. Many who support real free speech would take away your right to own a firearm because they’re “scary” or “create violence”. (For the record, my guns have never committed a violent act since I purchased them. Maybe they’re defective?)
Today at 2:15pm, the United States Senate will, for the second time, vote on the DISCLOSE Act. In July, Republicans successfully filibustered the DISCLOSE Act, legislation aimed at curbing political speech in response to the Citizens United decision, from coming to the floor for limited debate and final passage this afternoon by a vote of 57 to 41 (60 votes are needed to move toward a vote for final passage).
Democrats hoped that an adjustment to the bill, which was to change the date the bill would go into law to the beginning of next year, preventing it from affecting the mid-term elections, would lure Republican support.
As Politico reports, it seems all but certain that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) doesn’t have the votes, but is using the DISCLOSE Act to stall for time until the weekend:
When the defense authorization bill failed to clear cloture Tuesday, Democrats needed a measure to fill floor time before the weekend, and the DISCLOSE Act was one of the few measures in their legislative arsenal that was quickly available.
Having failed cloture once, the campaign bill only requires a less strict “motion to recommit” from Reid to call another cloture vote. New legislation likely would need 30 hours after being filed, 30 hours the Senate doesn’t have.
So even if Democrats know they’re likely short of votes Thursday, the alternative was practically nothing.
The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.” - Thomas Jefferson
Today is Constitution Day, a day set aside by Congress, a body that largely ignores our nation’s founding document. What were once viewed to be basic natural rights, the concepts of life, liberty and property are subject to the will of the mob for the benefit of the “common good.”
This isn’t something that happened when Barack Obama or when Democrats took office, it has been going on for some time (more on that in a second). Not only are Democrats and Republicans to blame, but “We the People” also deserve a share of the blame,
While testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in 2008, Bob Barr warned, “Every administration that comes in takes the powers that it inherits from its predecessor as a floor, not a ceiling.” During his campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama promised to reign in the power of the executive, including some of the expansions claimed by his predecessor. However, we seen a further erosion of esstential liberties and limitations placed on our government by the Constitution.
While I disagreed with Pastor Terry Jones and his church’s plans to burn the Koran, I disagree with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s determination that such an expression is somehow unconstitutional:
Last week we saw a Florida Pastor – with 30 members in his church – threaten to burn Korans which lead to riots and killings in Afghanistan. We also saw Democrats and Republicans alike assume that Pastor Jones had a Constitutional right to burn those Korans. But Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer told me on “GMA” that he’s not prepared to conclude that — in the internet age — the First Amendment condones Koran burning.
“Holmes said it doesn’t mean you can shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” Breyer told me. “Well, what is it? Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is the being trampled to death?”
For Breyer, that right is not a foregone conclusion.
“It will be answered over time in a series of cases which force people to think carefully. That’s the virtue of cases,” Breyer told me. “And not just cases. Cases produce briefs, briefs produce thought. Arguments are made. The judges sit back and think. And most importantly, when they decide, they have to write an opinion, and that opinion has to be based on reason. It isn’t a fake.”
If you’re in Twitter world and you follow Tabitha Hale, a really cool chick who works for FreedomWorks (one of the more principled activist groups), you may have witnessed the exchanges between her and actor John Cusack, who also slammed Fox News, Dick Armey and others during his multi-tweet (is that a word?) diatribe.
We often hear that political discourse has reached new lows. You’ll year people call conservatives and Republicans “haters,” a discription that was frequently used by Cusack in his Twitter feed, or that they are the “party of hate.” I do disagree with their positions on a few socials issues, but both sides are just as guilty of “intolerance” (and I’m using that loosely, I don’t mean it as a smear).
For example, here is a sampling of messages and e-mails left by liberals for FreedomWorks employees (language warning):
Do you still think it’s just Republicans contributing to the break down of political discourse in the country?
The folks over at the Institute for Justice are calling out MoveOn.org for their hypocrisy in its protests of Target. In case you haven’t heard, the retailer is under fire for giving donations to Tom Emmer, a Republican that is opposes gay rights.
MoveOn.org’s premise is that a corporation shouldn’t be giving money to a candidate, playing off of the populist, anti-political speech sentiment that was a result of the Citizens United decision. The Institute for Justice calls the anti-liberty PAC out:
As we’ve noted, Target has drawn heavy fire for its donation to an organization that’s speaking out in support of Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who opposes gay marriage. One of the latest examples of this criticism is a humorous viral video featuring a flash mob that performs a song called “Target Ain’t People”—set to the tune of Depeche Mode’s hit song “People are People”—in the middle of a Target store as employees and customers look on with varying degrees of bemusement.
I’ve been so busy the last couple of days that I’m just now getting a chance to weigh in on Philadelphia’s “blogger tax.” In case you haven’t heard, the city is charging bloggers $300, the cost of a business liscence:
For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to ehow.com, over the last few years she says she’s made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it’s a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.
In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.
“The real kick in the pants is that I don’t even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous,” Bess says.
It would be one thing if Bess’ website were, well, an actual business, or if the amount of money the city wanted didn’t outpace her earnings six-fold. Sure, the city has its rules; and yes, cash-strapped cities can’t very well ignore potential sources of income. But at the same time, there must be some room for discretion and common sense.
When Bess pressed her case to officials with the city’s now-closed tax amnesty program, she says, “I was told to hire an accountant.”