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First things . . . Richard Falknor on 26 Jun 2010 08:43 pm

“DISCLOSE” Will Senate GOP Leaders Stop Really Bad Bills?

UPDATE JUNE 27! Yesterday we wrote about the possible decline of Beltway “center-right” empires with the example of the National Rifle Association’s facilitating the House passage of the DISCLOSE bill.  Today vigilant RedState chief Erick Erickson reveals “NRA Issues Gag Order to Its Board Members on Elena Kagan.” Erickson reports “Internal Senate emails confirmed by NRA Board Members are highlighting just how far the National Rifle Association has fallen….The gag order on board members is not limited to providing testimony, but it prohibits board members from coming out against Kagan in their individual capacity.Readers should consider the entire piece. Stay tuned.

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The real question for the Senate Republican leadership:  is there any Obama initiative you will invoke Senate rules to the fullest to stop during the balance of this Congress? 

Last Thursday the House of Representatives approved a blatantly unconstitutional measure, H. R. 5175, the so-called DISCLOSE “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections” bill. The outrageous measure is intended to cripple the political speech of the majority party’s likely critics between now and the Congressional elections on November 2.

Heritage’s top-flight election-law analyst Hans von Spakovsky who has been tracking this legislative menace explained – –

“Ignoring the First Amendment and trampling on the Constitution, an overwhelming majority of Democrats in the House passed the DISCLOSE Act this [Thursday] afternoon on a 219 to 206 vote. Two Republicans, Rep. Mike Castle (R., Del.) and Joseph Cao (R., La.), crossed party lines to vote in favor of government censorship. Thirty-six Democrats actually voted against the bill, including twelve members of the Congressional Black Caucus who were still upset over the special exemption given to the NRA. That exemption was weakened to include a couple of other organizations like the Sierra Club and the AARP, both staunch champions of liberal causes. Not only did the House approve the amendment sponsored by Dennis Kucinich that would plug the mouth of anyone who holds a lease on the Outer Continental Shelf, but it also inserted yet another exemption for unions.”

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) gives us chapter-and-verse on this House measure here and here.

Readers will want to consider the RSC’s paragraph on bloggers:

Bloggers might be harmed. Despite RSC staff consultations with renowned campaigns and elections lawyers, it remains unclear to them and us the extent to which bloggers might be harmed by this legislation. Although the bill does include a provision exempting Internet communications from provisions regarding ‘general public political advertising,’ the exemption from coordinated communications affects news stories, commentaries, and editorials. Those are not general public political ads. And since the coordinated communications exception does not mention the Internet, it could open up bloggers who refer to a clearly identified federal candidate during a certain timeframe from coming under the coordinated communication definition—and thus under onerous federal regulations and prohibitions.”(Italics and underscoring in original.)

Carter Wood on the Manhattan Institute’s Point of Law gives us the full flavor of the House leadership’s attack on free political speech between now and election day November 2 – –

“If sponsors truly believed the bill’s restrictions are constitutional, they would have welcomed expedited judicial review. But in the House Rules Committee (vote 453) and, on the floor of the House, defeating the motion to recommit (208-217), Democratic supporters explicitly rejected the expedited review language included in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.”

As Wood notes – –

“Sponsored by the head of the Democratic campaign committee for the House (Rep. Chris Van Hollen) and Senate (Sen. Charles Schumer), the bill is aggressively partisan. If it passes the Senate — no certainty — and President Obama signs it, the law will eventually be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional. In the meantime, the DISCLOSE Act will have achieved its goals: chilling criticism of Democratic incumbents before the November 2010 elections.”

We urge readers to take in Wood’s entire post  to see what we are up against.

The NRA’s Dishonorable Bargain —
The Decline of Some Beltway Center-Right Empires?

Compounding this attack on our ancient liberties, America’s largest “pro gun” organization, the National Rifle Association (NRA), bargained with the House Democratic leadership to exempt themselves from the bill.  To our knowledge, only one of the NRA’s board of directors publicly objected to that organization’s dishonorable deal.  In mid-June, we reported to you on how the NRA began losing its credibility in a post which linked to all that once-respected organization’s directors: “Standing Together-Hanging Separately”? NRA’s Bad Choice

The RSC Legislative Bulletin on H.R. 5175 elaborates – –

“As stated in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, ‘Creating a special exception for the NRA, and thereby assuring the Democrats ‘good grades’ on Second Amendment rights, eases the way for the bill to be passed. A failing grade on First Amendment rights is somebody else’s problem.’ The exemption is intended to make it easier for a bad bill to get the votes it needs to pass. The bill also prohibits independent expenditures or disbursing funds for electioneering communications by anyone with a government contract greater than $10 million. Originally, the threshold was $50,000, which was changed in mark-up. It was then changed to $7 million and then to $10 million because the NRA reportedly receives over $7 million in government contracts.” (Italics and underscoring in original.)

A badge of dishonor? Next time your favorite candidate or incumbent trumpets an NRA endorsement, ask your politician about NRA’s turning its back on the First Amendment for all Americans.

Does the Senate GOP Leadership Still Fear
Being Seen as “Obstructionist”?

Last June 11, we drew readers’ attention to Senate rules expert Mike Hammond’s recommendations to Senate Republicans on “The Way to Block Kagan.”

We wrote that the courage, and the tactics – – stopping the legislative trains  – – Hammond recommends to Senate Republicans to halt the confirmation of Dean Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court would seem equally appropriate to stop the other major Obama statist initiatives until the country has the results of what amounts to a national referendum on the president’s program next November.

We suggested the real question for the Senate Republican leadership:  is there any Obama initiative you will invoke Senate rules to the fullest to stop during the balance of this Congress? 

If the answer is no, it is hard to see this Senate Republican leadership in the next Congress fighting tooth-and-nail against already enacted programs including Obamacare.  Faithful readers will recall our compilation of the Senate GOP leadership’s missteps in our March 24, 2010 “Shaming a Faltering Senate GOP Leadership into Action”

Perhaps just as the conference report on the financial regulation bill (H.R. 4173) arrives in the Senate, the Republican leader might insist that it be read in its entirety. Faithful readers will recall our link to John Berlau’s May 21 Big Government post “Dodd Bank Bill: Brown Folds but Vitter’s Not-Everything’s-A-Bank Amendment Passes.We need to find out what’s in the conference report before the Senate votes on it. Presumably the individual senators will want to find out as well.

As Carter Wood points out  – –

“Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) issued a statement hailing passage. Critics are noting this quote from the Senator as reported in The Washington Post: ‘No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we’ve done something that has been needed for a long time. It took a crisis to bring us to the point where we could actually get this job done.'”

Our current impression is still that too many Republican Congressional incumbents are wholly beguiled (and distracted) by a vision of a “blow-out victory” next November. Instead of relying on premature triumphalism, we need commitment to wage a stubborn, unrelenting fight in the Congress from now until November.









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