You
can’t claim that liberals and other statists aren’t industrious. They are
tirelessly diligent in their quest to find more ways to infringe upon or
abridge our freedoms.
Many
of our freedoms are embodied in the Bill of Rights, and have been regularly targeted
for amendment or excision, from gun ownership, to freedom of assembly (or
association), to freedom of speech vis-à-vis
criticizing Islam and campaign finance law restrictions. No right today is
sacrosanct or beyond the government’s wish to curtail or abolish.
Only
just recently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), in the wake of his
defeat at the Cliven Bundy Ranch in Nevada, introduced a bill to abridge
political speech. Breitbart’s
Big Government
reported on May 18th:
On May
15, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced the Senate Judiciary
Committee will hold a hearing on June 3 on amending the U.S. Constitution to
limit political speech. If ultimately adopted, it would mark the first time in
American history that a constitutional amendment rescinded a freedom listed as
among the fundamental rights of the American people.
The proposed amendment was
introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-CO) as S.J.R.
19
 and if ratified would become the Twenty-Eighth Amendment. It
provides in part that “Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and
spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect [to] the Federal
elections … [and] State elections.” The proposed amendment includes a provision
that “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to
abridge the freedom of the press.” So Breitbart News, The New York
Times
, and the mainstream media would be able to say whatever they want,
but citizens and citizen groups such as the National Rifle Association could
not.
It
seems like Harry Reid and his cronies have been reading retired Supreme Court
Justice John Paul Stevens’s book, Six
Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,
which I reviewed
in “Justice Stevens’s Liberty-Destroying Amendments,” in three parts,
the relevant Part here.
Stevens recommended adding another amendment that would accomplish Reid’s purposes
and vitiate any freedom of speech protections. I wrote:
Stevens
writes that there is nothing to fear from his proposed amendment:
“A constitutional amendment
authorizing Congress and the states to place “reasonable” limitations
on campaign expenditures would allow corporations to make public announcements
of their views but would prohibit them from engaging in the kind of repetitive
and excessive advocacy that the candidates typically employ. It would also
repudiate both the holding and the reasoning in the Citizens United case, giving corporations an unlimited right to
spend their shareholders’ money in election campaigns.” (p. 78)
Do
the shareholders want a corporation to spend their money advocating issues? To
Stevens, their wishes are irrelevant. Do individuals who encounter
“repetitive and excessive” advocacy mind such encounters? That’s
irrelevant, too. Of course, those on the opposite side of an issue might mind
it, but, like Muslims who object to critical things being said and written
about Islam, they can just ignore it. Speech, written, oral, or visually, after
all, is not a form of physical aggression or force. But Stevens doesn’t want
the champions of big government and incremental socialism to be subjected to limitations
on “hate speech” that he wishes to impose on financed
counter-arguments. Democrats should be free to repeat their
“excessive” and “repetitive” messages over and over again. It’s
the other guy who must  be shut up.  Stevens’s suggested amendment, which requires
force or the threat of force, reads:
“Neither the First Amendment
nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the
Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money
that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election
campaigns.” (p. 79)
The
second half of Reid’s proposed amendment to the First Amendment is virtually identical
in wording to Stevens’s proposed new amendment.
Who
will define what is “reasonable” and what is not? Is there an
infallible mathematical formula that would define “reasonableness”?
It would be okay, by Stevens, to abridge the scope of the First Amendment and
thus eviscerate its essential, fundamental meaning, just a little bit, to silence
those wealthy, anti-big-government people. vitiate.
How
was Reid’s proposed gutting of the First Amendment received by the press? With an
obfuscating sigh of relief. Greg Sargent of The Washington Post, in his May 15th
article, “Reid
calls for constitutional amendment on campaign cash
,” selectively
omits mentioning that the Democrats are as guilty of all the charges that Reid
levies against the Republicans, that “money is speech and speech is
money,” that freshets of special interest money “flood our
democracy,” that only “billionaire oil barons” will initiate a
“hostile takeover” of the country. One must ask oneself what level of
depraved repression would lead an alleged “journalist” to handily
forget which political party has made corruption, election rigging, and living
the high life on other people’s money a time-honored tradition – a party that has
more wealthy donors and supporters than the Republican Party ever had.
Also,
according to Reid and accepted uncritically by Sargent (and most liberals):
The argument is that electing
Republican lawmakers would do nothing to change this economic status quo,
because the GOP continues to be organized around the protection
of the interests of their very wealthy backers, whose influence over the
process must be broken before any serious policy response
to inequality and stalled economic opportunity and mobility can
happen.
After all, that recently-revealed
Americans for Prosperity memo
spelled out that the real goal of all those
millions in anti-Obamacare ads is to persuade swing voters that the answer to
their economic problems is as little government as possible. As the
New York Times detailed recently
, this vision of what is good
for America would also benefit the Koch brothers’ bottom line to an untold
degree. Reid will reference that memo today.
I
guess Democrats have no “very wealthy backs,” neither in Hollywood,
nor in the tech
industry
, nor in the insurance
industry
, nor on Wall
Street
. However, Nicole
Flatow
of the George Soros-funded Think
Progress
in her May 15th article, “Why the Senate’s Top
Leader Came Out for a Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Citizens United,” confirmed the link between the wording of
Reid’s proposed amendment and Justice John Paul Stevens’s proposed new
amendment, and also the collusion between the two men.
Reid told BuzzFeed that former
U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens persuaded him to join the effort,
after Stevens called
for the amendment
earlier this year in his new book. Reid, who decides what
votes get called as majority leader, said he will now hold hearings on the
amendment proposed by Sen. Udall, as well as call a vote on the House floor.
Reid
has not been alone in proposing to gag corporations and non-Democratic
non-profits over the amounts of money they spend on issues during election
periods. Flatow wrote:
Since 2010, movements to pass a
constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens
United v. FEC
have gained significant ground, with a number of states passing
resolutions
calling for a constitutional amendment. As one California legislator
put it who introduced the bill that passed his state: “No one is
underestimating how difficult it is, and justifiably so, to amend the
Constitution. But being silent is worse.” And a number of top Democratic
senators have proposed
amendments in Congress
for several years now, including Tom Udall (NM),
Michael Bennett (CO), Tom Harkin (IA), Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY),
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Jeff Merkely (OR).
Many of the usual suspects., non sunt?
To
Democrats and other power-lusting politicians, the Constitution has served as
an impediment to “real social change.”  And that Constitutional requirement of needing
either two-thirds of both houses of Congress, or passage by legislatures in
three-fourths of states, to enact an amendment, is just another disdained, antiquated
obstacle to “voicing the people’s will” and empowering the democratic
mobs controlled and manipulated by the Democrats.
The
premier opponent of those Constitutional impediments – at least, the one in the
brightest limelight – is President Barack Obama. He, Reid, and all the other
suspects are on the same page. Paul Roderick Gregory in his September 23rd,
2012 Forbes article, “Why
The Fuss? Obama Has Long Been On Record In Favor of Redistribution
“:
In 2001, then state senator and University of
Chicago
law lecturer, Barack
Obama
, sat down for a public
radio interview
. At the time, he did not anticipate a near-term run for the
presidency. He spoke candidly and deliberately about how to “break free” of Constitutional
constraints against redistribution to provide “economic justice.” In the course
of his interview, Obama laid out the electoral strategy of cobbling together
the “power coalitions” that have been the hallmark of his 2012 re-election
campaign.
Among
other things he said during that interview, Obama opined:
First: “We still suffer from not
having a Constitution that guarantees its citizens economic rights.” By
positive economic rights, Obama means government protection against individual
economic failures, such as low incomes, unemployment, poverty, lack of health
care, and the like. Obama characterizes the Constitution as “a charter of
negative liberties,” which “says what the states can’t do to you (and) what the
Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government
or State government must do on your behalf.”
Second, Obama regrets that the
Constitution places “essential constraints” on the government’s ability to
provide positive economic rights and that “we have not broken free” of these
Constitutional impediments.
Third, Obama concludes that we
cannot use the courts to break free of the limited-government constraints of
the Founders. The courts are too tradition and precedent bound “to bring about
significant redistributional change.”
Fourth, Obama argues that
economic rights that the state must supply are ultimately to be established at
the ballot box. Those who favor redistribution must gain legislative control
through an “actual coalition of powers through which you bring about
redistributive change.” The electoral task of a redistributive President is
therefore to craft coalitions of those who stand to benefit from government
largess. The legislature, not the courts, must do this “reparative economic
work.”
Gregory,
writing before the national election of 2012, which gave Obama a second
destructive term to achieve the Progressive, “redistributional”
agenda, warned:
An Obama electoral victory based
on “power coalitions” unconstrained by “negative rights” would fulfill the
Founders’ dread of an “overbearing majority.” As James Madison warned in 1787:
 “Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice
and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested
and overbearing majority.…. If a majority be united by a common interest, the
rights of the minority will be insecure.”
The Constitution’s framers used
the separation of powers and the Bill of Rights (most importantly the due
process clause of the Fifth Amendment) to render “the overbearing majority
…unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression.” It is these
“negative rights” that Obama proposes to eliminate. With them disappear
restraints on limited government, and anything goes.
And
everything has gone. The restraints on Congressional, executive, and federal
power now are little more than strings of gossamer, thanks also to a Supreme
Court that has lost sight of its purpose. Our rights are no more secure than
they would have been in Nazi Germany or Soviet (or Putin’s) Russia.
But, there are back-door ways to quash freedom of
speech without having to resort to anything as formal as a proposed
constitutional amendment. The 2002 McCain-Feingold
Campaign Finance Act
, which dictates what and when one
may speak about candidates for office, ought to have been struck down by the
Supreme Court the moment the first suit about its constitutionality was filed.
Instead, the Court has simply crippled it with the Citizens United v. FEC case.
Dinish D’Souza, a prominent conservative writer and
filmmaker, and unabashed critic of Obama and his policies, was charged with
violating the Federal Election Commission’s rules on donor limits. Paul Bond,
in his Hollywood Reporter article of May 20th, “Dinesh D’Souza Pleads
Guilty to Making Illegal Campaign Contribution,” wrote:
In exchange for D’Souza’s plea, prosecutors are
expected to drop the more serious charge of making false statements to the
Federal Election Commission, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of five
years in prison.
D’Souza was indicted in January for asking some
friends to donate money to the campaign of Wendy Long, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully
against Democratic incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in New York in 2012, and
allegedly promising to reimburse them for their donations.
Bond
noted:
From the beginning, attorney Benjamin Brafman
characterized his client’s alleged transgression as “an act of misguided
friendship,” and he and others have said federal authorities were engaging in
payback for D’Souza’s movie 2016: Obama’s America, a hit documentary
that portrayed President Barack Obama in a negative light. “
It’s a remarkably selective
prosecution, considering Obama raised millions of dollars under similar
circumstances and donors merely faced civil fines while D’Souza is charged with
felony violation of federal law,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told The Hollywood Reporter in February.
If
D’Souza had not pleaded guilty, a trial would have been necessary, and on the
“illegal” contribution charge alone, if found guilty, he could have
been sentenced to a maximum of two years in prison.
In
1957, Ayn Rand’s prophetic novel, Atlas
Shrugged
, was published. It featured, in one chapter, the nature of laws
such as the Campaign Finance law. In that chapter, a federal bureaucratic
villain, Dr. Floyd Ferris, is trying to blackmail an industrialist into
“donating” his new metal to the nation as a “gift.” The
industrialist is “guilty” of buying more copper than federal law
allowed, and also for refusing to honor a federal purchase order for his
product. He tells the industrialist:
“Did you think that we want
those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a
bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the
age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were
pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no
way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on
criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One
declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to
live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s
there in that for anyone? But just pass the kinds of laws that can neither be
observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of
lawbreakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr.
Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to
deal with.”*
And
that is the nature of the Campaign Finance law, a law created to shut us up and
to punish us if we don’t shut up, even if that takes the form of a scream of
pain. That is the purpose of Justice Stevens’s and Harry Reid’s constitutional
amendments, to silence the Dinesh D’Souza’s of this country. The proposed
amendments are not targeted at individuals who “collude” with other
individuals to cobble together more than the “allowed” minimum to any
organization or candidate. The existing law, together with the proposed
amendments, are specifically targeted at prominent individuals such as D’Souza,
to make an example of them, so everyone with lesser means will tremble in fear,
and fall into line.
The
purpose? To preserve and expand the political power of the Democrats, of all
the statists in and out of government, by silencing their critics. And that
issue is aside from the White House siccing the IRS on conservative groups for
not shutting up.
The
Progressives, the Left, and the Democrats want to shut us up – warning that if
we know what’s good for us – such as federal agents not hounding us and taking
us to court, or refraining from a plan bash on our skulls – we’ll shut up.
Try
me.

*P. 436. Atlas
Shrugged
, by Ayn Rand (1957). New York: Dutton/Penguin Books, 1992. 1168
pp.