Monday, January 25, 2010

Take A Look, Professor Obama

The President of the United States is apparently unfamiliar with one of the items in the picture, and refuses to salute the other. The latter is an insult, but not recognizing the document pictured is both appalling and frightening. What is wrong with this man? Pretty much everything, but let's concentrate on the Constitution.

Obama is allegedly a super-intellect. Columbia, Harvard Law, Law Review, and professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago. This proves one of two things. Either academic degrees and titles mean nothing anymore, or degrees, titles and cushy law school positions are easy to get if you know the right people. Since there is conveniently no paper trail to follow, we'll just have to take his word for it. Alternatively, we could simply look at his latest statement about an issue of constitutional importance.

The United States Supreme Court recently handed down a decision that Professor/President Obama didn't like. The court held that a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign-financing law is now inoperative as an unconstitutional abridgment of First Amendment rights of free speech and the press. The portion stricken prevented corporations from paying for or sponsoring specific political ads favoring named candidates or political parties. It set limits on how much money a corporation could spend on any election. However, the restriction on corporations and unions giving money directly to candidates or their campaign committees or coordinating their efforts remains in place. I don't much like that, but as I said in an earlier post, "I'll take what I can get" and hope for more later. The decision also removed restrictions on corporate and union "issue ads" which were previously forbidden within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

Obama called this an attack on free speech. He angrily made a public speech saying that he needs "to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires no less." He wants Congress to pass laws which will re-impose the restrictions on the evil corporations. By his definition, the people who run unions are genuine people, and those who run corporations are phony people. "People" includes labor unions in his thinking, but it doesn't include corporations. Never mind that the union bosses spend up to 60% of the dues coerced out of their unwilling members to cover political activities specifically forbidden by law under Beck v. Communications Workers, but a corporation, not being "the people," cannot spend a dime of funds willingly given to them by the investors. Unions and corporations are both legal entities, not "persons," but that recognition by the Supreme Court leveling the playing field doesn't sit well with Obama. Given his lefty Democratic credentials (those are real), Obama can attack "big business" but dares not attack "big labor."

Most of the mainstream press is in bed with Obama. They are also supposed to be for-profit corporations, but many are losing money, filing for bankruptcy, downsizing, or merging. They've been given tremendous leeway by the IRS and the Holder Justice Department on the ground that they are also news organizations and exempt from McCain-Feingold. Most of the for-profit news corporations that are actually making profits are owned by Rupert Murdoch and Forbes. But while the New York Times loses money, it also editorializes for Democrat causes. So it's treated as news, and doesn't trigger McCain-Feingold. Murdoch's publications which lean Republican, on the other hand, are being checked out by the IRS and possibly the Justice Department. In order to preserve the failing pro-Democrat publications and McCain-Feingold at the same time, Obama once proposed that the already money-losing publications re-register as nonprofits to avoid tax penalties and fines for violating the campaign finance acts. That's good for Obama and the Democrats, but I'm not so sure about the damned fool common shareholders who expected to earn money on their investment in The New York Times. The same thing can be said of broadcast television and cable channels (particularly MSNBC).

The megacorporations give far more money to the Democratic Party than to the Republicans, but Obama knows he can wink in the direction of those corporate boards during his socialist/populist/know-nothing attacks since they will be rewarded with special deals later. All he has to do is throw government contracts and special tax breaks at companies that participate in his left wing policies, and they're as meek as lambs while being led to the slaughter. General Electric Corporation alone will save many millions of dollars and earn millions more by joining in some of Obama's silliest "green initiatives." This is called "honesty and transparency in government" and "sticking it to big business."

In order to bring along the corporate sheep that choose not to be slaughtered, Obama wants to undo the Supreme Court decision. There's one small problem which professor of constitutional law Obama should know, but doesn't. The limitation was declared to be a violation of First Amendment constitutional protections, not a law which can be rewritten and reworded. His appointee in ignorance, Justice Sotomayor, agrees with genius Obama, but she was outvoted on the court. She hasn't read the Constitution either. Both have the leftist concept that ours is a government which is a respecter of persons, not of laws. That's backwards, of course. The court's ruling essentially says that the government was unconstitutionally regulating the content of political ads indirectly by determining who was allowed to run those ads, how much they could spend, and when they could run them.

Either Obama is a legal ignoramus, or he wants to end a precedent set by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison in 1803, and one followed by every Congress and president since that time (save one exception starring Andrew Jackson). In the words of the Marbury court, "it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." That suited the liberals just fine from the Warren Court through the Rehnquist Court. The Roberts Court has a five to four majority which says that the court is fully empowered to interpret the Constitution, but not to rewrite it or find ways around it.

So now we have Professor/President Obama proposing to tell Justice Marshall and all the subsequent courts which followed Marshall's opinion that Obama's The One, and Congress and the Supreme Court better recognize that and do what he says. I've always called this "the arrogance of ignorance." As attorney and blogger Ann Althouse asks, "why would a law professor oppose a Supreme Court decision on a matter of constitutional law and not respect the authority of the Court and honor our system?" It's a rhetorical question on her part as well as mine.

Obama will continue to salute Old Glory by holding onto his crotch and remaining tight-lipped during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner, and he will continue to honor his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution by ignoring it.


AndrewPrice said...

Fortunately, the Supreme Court and the public aren't buying Obama's garbage. The polls are showing that an overwhelming majority sees this as free speech.

McCain Feingold was not only a betrayal of the Constitution by those who voted for it (and that jackass who signed it into law), but a stupid, stupid thing for Republicans to do -- it's like disarming your friends and giving the weapons to your opponents. Idiots.

Unknown said...

Andrew: All too true. McCain (currently in conservative election mode) even says that it was a noble effort, but the Supreme Court has spoken, so that's it.

It was bad enough that Bush signed it, but he even announced that he was sure the Supreme Court would overrule all or most of the thing. Since when do presidents make their decision on that kind of stupidity? The president has a preemptive right and duty to veto legislation he believes to be unconstitutional and not wait for the Supreme Court.

Writer X said...

LawHawk, you are absolutely right: McCain has donned his conservative persona for this election cycle. Barely a peep about it. He tosses his piece of crap legislation aside now like it's no big deal. I'm glad the Supreme Court saw the light because McCain sure didn't. Yet one more reason not to vote for McCain in November.

Unknown said...

WriterX: As much as I admire McCain's bravery in war and honesty during the Savings and Loan scandal, he's stayed to long at the fair. It's time for him to slowly fade away, preferably before the primary. I hope the Arizona conservative candidates are strong enough to move ahead of him in the polls and prod him out of the race. But I think he'll have to be forced out.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--When the Founders framed the First Amendment, they had only two types of speech in mind for protection--political and religious. Any attempts, and there have been many, to proscribe them would have shocked the Founders. McCain-Feingold would have them shaking their heads in disgust.

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: Exactly right, but try telling that to the thick-headed professor Obama.

Unknown said...

Lawhawk. Good explanation of Obama's thinking, or lack of it. I'm sure part of it is that horrible "living Constitution" craziness. They've been using that expression so long that they've really come to believe it means the Constitution is just another law, to be changed by simple legislation or executive order. Professor of law, phooey.

Unknown said...

CalFed: I expect that total trashing of a bedrock constitution from a dictator, but the president of the United States who claims to have been a Harvard Law editor and a law school instructor in constitutional law should know better. Obviously, he doesn't, or he's a worse demagogue than we even thought.

I think our readers "get it," but I have to see comments to be sure. Without that, I can only assume the message has gotten across.

StanH said...

Great article Andrew, and points out the absurdity that is Barry. Corporations get around this unbalance using 527 groups, money always trickles into politics. Sorry for the cut-n-paste, but illustrates the disparity on so called political speech.

1 American Fedn of State, County & Municipal Employees $39,947,843 98% 1% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
2 AT&T Inc $39,772,431 43% 55% Between 40% and 59% to both parties
3 National Assn of Realtors $33,280,206 47% 52% Between 40% and 59% to both parties
4 Goldman Sachs $29,588,362 63% 36% Leans Dem (60%-69%)
5 American Assn for Justice $29,520,389 90% 9% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
6 Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $28,733,734 97% 2% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
7 National Education Assn $28,388,334 93% 6% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
8 Laborers' Union $26,881,889 91% 7% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
9 Service Employees International Union $26,719,663 95% 3% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
10 Carpenters & Joiners Union $25,995,149 90% 9% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
11 Teamsters Union $25,627,772 92% 6% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
12 Communications Workers of America $25,404,269 99% 0% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
13 American Medical Assn $25,235,971 38% 61% Leans Repub (60%-72%)
14 American Federation of Teachers $24,969,593 98% 0% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
15 Citigroup Inc $24,784,983 49% 50% Between 40% and 59% to both parties
16 United Auto Workers $24,634,120 98% 0% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
17 Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union $23,548,086 98% 0% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
18 Altria Group $23,264,991 27% 72% Leans Repub (60%-72%)
19 United Food & Commercial Workers Union $22,926,107 98% 1% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
20 National Auto Dealers Assn $22,733,608 31% 68% Leans Repub (60%-72%)

Unknown said...

StanH: Thanks for putting those stats together. Political Action Committees will probably continue to play a big role. But "non-connected" PACs will decrease in number since they won't have to hide their funding sources. Still, given the nature of dirty politics, I'm sure some PACs will continue to blossom without making it clear who is actually behind them.

Just as a side note, the Communications Worker that you listed is the same union that was the subject of the Beck case which restricted unions to using dues for labor organizing and administration only. Anything above that sum which is used by the union for politics must be from "voluntary" contributions from the workers. If they file "Beck Statements" they are supposed to have their dues reduced by the percentage of the dues that the union uses for politics. The unions always claim that they use 3 to 5% at most, while every suit filed by the National Right to Work Foundation has proved they actually spend 40 to 60%, then lie about it.

StanH said...

Yeah Lawhawk, that’s supposed to be the top contributors over the past twenty years, and I would hazard to guess that the number would rise substantially if man hours were included. But, you can look at a list like that, and see why the left doesn’t want a level playing field. Their position is tenuous with all the cards.

Joel Farnham said...


What will be the result of this change of playing fields?

Will there be more ads and Documentaries?

Will there be more transparency?

Will the MSM hold be weakened still more?

I do know that Federal Election Commission has less power. Which means the incumbents have less power for their message to prevail and the people have more power for their message to be heard.

Other than that, I don't know.

Unknown said...

Joel: It's hard to predict. Clearly, it's likely there will be more ads. As the Court pointed out, if GE or the SEIU runs an add, it has to be clearly attributed to them within the body of the ad (usually at the very end). 501s will continue to do their own thing ("swiftboating" poor innocents, LOL) but will probably spend more time and energy on the big ads.

There's now much less incentive to be devious about the source and amount of money being spent on campaigns and candidates by legal entities formerly using tricks to skirt the law. It's certainly no guarantee of transparency, but it's a bold step forward.

The one thing it will do is stir up free speech, and that's the whole point. I know the SEIU will lie, for instance, but now an employers' group can freely run an ad that counters the SEIU ad. If the FEC does its job, and the organizations that spot the lies do their jobs, this will be a great blow for freedom of political speech.

I'm also not a fan of the "money corrupts" philosophy. I'm old-school--Money is the mother's milk of politics. And that's a realistic approach today. Free speech on a national scale is not free--it's very expensive. More of that money can now be collected, openly and up-front and used to stimulate the marketplace of ideas.

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