HOW GOP OLIGARCHS AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT ARE HIDING BEHIND THE FIRST AMENDMENT

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    HOW GOP OLIGARCHS AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT ARE HIDING BEHIND THE FIRST AMENDMENT

    ! How GOP Oligarchs and the Christian Right Are Hiding Behind the 1st Amendment to Ram Through Their Political Agenda The Tea Party is turning the Constitution’s most fundamental protections into a refuge for scoundrels and billionaires.

    Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Vince Clements

    November 30, 2013  |    

    Once again, the First Amendment has become the latest refuge for America’s scoundrels and oligarchs: Republicans who only want to follow rules they like are declaring that their speech and religious freedoms are being violated unless they get their way.

    This fraudulent flag-waving is unfolding in two high-profile fights. The first is the latest front in the ongoing war on Obamacare, where the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear two suits brought by Christian business owners who don’t want to include birth control in employee health plans.

    The second is the GOP’s effort to block anti-corruption campaign finance laws. The GOP is screaming censorship after Obama’s Treasury Department proposed new rules that might deter political operators like Karl Rove from using non-profit charities as front groups for attacks on specific candidates—which goes beyond promoting issues.

    In both instances, the scoundrels contend that the First Amendment lets them do what they want, and any contrary view—such as new laws or regulations from the Obama administration—is an affront to their fundamental freedom to do as they please.

    The Obamacare challenge came out of dozens of suits filed soon after the Affordable Care Act became law. The Christian Right objected to including birth control options in health plans. The administration’s response was to issue rules noting that the minimum coverage standards for businesses, which included a full range of reproductive care, differed from houses of worship—which were given more latitude on including birth control.

    However, the Christian-owned businesses whose challenges are coming to the Supreme Court argue that corporationsshare the same religious rights as citizens under the First Amendment. This is the latest effort by the Right to treat corporations as people with a complete complement of constitutional rights. 

    In the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling in 2010, the Republican-appointed majority expanded the political speech rights of corporations, allowing them to spend money in certain political campaigns as if they were voters—which they’re not. This latest claim of corporate religious freedom could be even more significant, Lyle Denniston, who has covered the Supreme Court for a half-century recently noted. 

    “The Court is now poised to decide whether corporations also have a First Amendment right to exercise the freedom of religion, which can be thought of as another form of expression—that is, voicing or acting out one’s personal beliefs,” hewrote. “It may be too early to say so, but a decision by the justices recognizing such a corporate right may make the controversy over the Citizens United ruling pale by comparison.” 

    On Saturday, theWall Street Journal editorial page attacked the administration—which created an exception for houses of worship, religious schools, hospitals and charities. In its typical fashion of blurring details to buttress its view, it said, “The radical implication of the White House argument is that the Constitution doesn’t apply to commercial activity.” Their view is the radical one. Of course, the Constitution protects commerce, such as in contracts. But the Bill of Rights primarily protects individual rights.

    The people who want to impose their religious beliefs regardless of cost or consequence are complaining not just that their freedom is threatened, but that corporate religious freedom exists, and must be elevated over the rights of people working for them. That’s radical. They conveniently forget that under Obamacare or any health plan, people can decide to take advantage of a medical procedure or not. These unruly Christian soldiers want to do away with that private choice from their employees, and have the audacity to argue their businesses are being deprived of religious liberty under the First Amendment.

    Some legal blogs even go further in noting the hypocrisy and double standards at play. At Balkinization, Joey Fisherwrites that large employers have been “enlisted… as one part of an overall federal project of health insurance provision.” He noted that they even get subsidies to extend coverage to their low-paid or oldest employees, because some of those will end up in state-run Medicaid polls or be covered by Medicare. Their role is facilitating access to insurance, not “to hand out drugs.”

    The religious liberty protests are not only a twisted view waving a fake First Amendment flag. The other newly prominent example concerns a legal loophole that flourished after the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling: political operators creating and using non-profits as fronts for anonymous, large-scale attacks on political candidates.

    Karl Rove was the first to go big with this strategy, because under tax law, non-profits do not have to disclose their donors. The Koch brothers soon followed, as did the Democrats. The Center for Responsive Politics found that at least $240 million was spent this way in 2012, mostly on negative television ads. These were the nastiest and least factual attacks, because their backers evaded accountability by hiding behind blandly named groups.

    Many public-interest groups protested this abuse of charitable status to the Internal Revenue Service, which licenses non-profits. This week, the IRS released a proposed rule change that would expand the definition of political activity to any communication to more than 500 people that mentions a candidate’s name in the runup to an election. The idea is to try to ensure that the primary activity of a non-profit is charitable, or public education on issues, but not explicitly working to elect or defeat candidates.

    Here, too, the GOP and its allies have been screaming censorship, saying that First Amendment freedoms are being violated. They’re saying, “How dare you?” That’s how dare you stop us from saying whatever we want, whenever we want, however we want, without any accountability or disclosure of who is behind attacks on candidates—even though we also are using government-granted benefits, namely non-profit tax status.

    The Journal, as expected, called the proposed rule, “the latest IRS political crackdown.” It’s actually an overdue and sensible step to push political campaigns back into the political sphere, where, ironically, there’s barely any campaign finance regulation left that has teeth. For example, since the mid-1970s, any person could spend unlimited sums of their own money on a political campaign message. That was the result of the Supreme Court’s Buckley V. Valeo ruling. But the super-wealthy donors to non-profits set up and run by Rove and the Koch brothers don’t want to campaign that way. 

    It’s worth remembering that the GOP and conservative Christians have filed dozens of suits to try to blow up the little that remains of federal and state campaign finance laws. The Supreme Court heard a case this fall brought by the GOP that challenges a cap on the total contributions that any person can give to both candidates and political parties in a campaign season. The basis for that legal limit is preventing political corruption by essentially turning piles of campaign cash into legal bribes.

    There are dozens of additional suits brought by the GOP and conservative Christians, especially surrounding same-sex marriage state ballot measures, to overturn disclosure laws that would list donors. Here, again, the party that is complaining the loudest about losing First Amendment freedom doesn’t want to stand in public next to its own words. Tea Party groups have sued to hide their funders, claiming they’re like black Americans in the worst of the Jim Crow era. 

    These self-serving abuses of the First Amendment are ridiculous and an insult to history. Nobody is stopping right-wing crusaders from following their religious beliefs at home or from reaching into their pockets to pay for their own political messages. But once they step into the public sphere, either though running government-chartered corporations or creating non-profit charities, there are legal obligations to employees and tax laws to be followed. I may be late for work, but that doesn’t mean I get to run red lights.

    Waving the freedom flag is the right’s favorite argument. But claiming First Amendment rights as a way to evade uncomfortable laws and inconvenient legal standards—passed by an administration they intensely dislike—turns the Constitution’s most fundamental protections into a refuge for scoundrels and oligarchs.

     

     

     

     

    http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/how-gop-oligarchs-and-christian-right-are-hiding-behind-1st-amendment-ram

     
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    Re: HOW GOP OLIGARCHS AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT ARE HIDING BEHIND THE FIRST AMENDMENT


    A naked claim that the First Amendment doesnt apply to the Obama Administratiion's political opponents. Because they dare speak out against progressives...

    Wow. Another "Alternet" reality...or is it "alter-nut"?

    Unions spend multi-millions to buy off their poodle Democrat politicians....as do trial lawyer groups, and Wall Street crony capitalists...sad,  but that is their right under the First Amendment. 

    Should Republicans stifle union free speech rights, because the First Amendment is only for "individual" rights?

     

     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from andiejen. Show andiejen's posts

    Re: HOW GOP OLIGARCHS AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT ARE HIDING BEHIND THE FIRST AMENDMENT

    In response to ComingLiberalCrackup's comment:
    [QUOTE]


    A naked claim that the First Amendment doesnt apply to the Obama Administratiion's political opponents. Because they dare speak out against progressives...

    Wow. Another "Alternet" reality...or is it "alter-nut"?

    Unions spend multi-millions to buy off their poodle Democrat politicians....as do trial lawyer groups, and Wall Street crony capitalists...sad,  but th

    Should Republicans stifle union free speech rights, becauat is their right under the First Amendment. se the First Amendment is only for "individual" rights?

     

    [/QUOTE]

    CLC,

    I believe I have the right to use altnet as a source without you or anyone else denigrating the story, and by extension the thread I started as well as me.

    I never ever denigrate other people's sources on their face. 

    If you want to debate the contents of something I have posted I am more then happy to do so provided it is a debate about the contents.

    That said, among other things you wrote, you wrote:

    "Unions spend multi-millions to buy off their poodle Democrat politicians....as do trial lawyer groups, and Wall Street crony capitalists..."

    Those are three groups you accuse of buying off Democrat politicians.

    Do you have any sources to back up any of your three claims of corruption?

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from ComingLiberalCrackup. Show ComingLiberalCrackup's posts

    Re: HOW GOP OLIGARCHS AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT ARE HIDING BEHIND THE FIRST AMENDMENT

    In response to andiejen's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to ComingLiberalCrackup's comment:
    [QUOTE]


    A naked claim that the First Amendment doesnt apply to the Obama Administratiion's political opponents. Because they dare speak out against progressives...

    Wow. Another "Alternet" reality...or is it "alter-nut"?

    Unions spend multi-millions to buy off their poodle Democrat politicians....as do trial lawyer groups, and Wall Street crony capitalists...sad,  but th

    Should Republicans stifle union free speech rights, becauat is their right under the First Amendment. se the First Amendment is only for "individual" rights?

     

    [/QUOTE]

    CLC,

    I believe I have the right to use altnet as a source without you or anyone else denigrating the story, and by extension the thread I started as well as me.

    I never ever denigrate other people's sources on their face. 

    If you want to debate the contents of something I have posted I am more then happy to do so provided it is a debate about the contents.

    That said, among other things you wrote, you wrote:

    "Unions spend multi-millions to buy off their poodle Democrat politicians....as do trial lawyer groups, and Wall Street crony capitalists..."

    Those are three groups you accuse of buying off Democrat politicians.

    Do you have any sources to back up any of your three claims of corruption?

    [/QUOTE]

    Quoting James Sherk:

    "It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government."

    That wasn’t Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul, or Ronald Reagan talking.  That was George Meany -- the former president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O -- in 1955.  Government unions are unremarkable today, but the labor movement once thought the idea absurd.

    The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create.  Government workers, however, don’t generate profits.  They merely negotiate for more tax money.  When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers.  F.D.R. considered this "unthinkable and intolerable." ... Public sector unions insist on laws that serve their interests -- at the expense of the common good.

    Public-sector unions are a clear-cut and blindingly obvious case of conflict of interest.  The government is supposed to provide services to the people in a cost-effective way, providing what’s necessary while extracting the least possible amount of money out of taxpayers.  The goal of a union is precisely the opposite: to extract as much money as possible out of the organization that it feeds on.

    In the private sector, unions actually do work to some extent, because there is a built-in check on the union’s power: namely that the business or industry in question will go bankrupt when the union gets too greedy.  But in the public sector, the organization that the union is feeding on is the government itself -- funded by the taxpayers, the very people whose money they’re supposed to be spending frugally.  The union goal of enriching its members is in direct opposition to the government’s goal of not bankrupting the taxpayers and the nation.

    Of course, bankrupting the nation is precisely what these public-sector unions are currently doing.  Cities and states nationwide are drowning in hundreds of billions of dollars of debt and unfunded liabilities, consisting largely of absurdly generous and entirely unrealistic public pensions.

    The other reason that private-sector unions can (in theory) work is that the two parties in the negotiations are actually two separate parties with opposing goals: the union wants to consume as much of the company’s profits as possible, whereas the company wants to give the union as little as possible.  In contrast, public-sector unions consist of government employees negotiating with... other government employees, all of whom want to increase their pay as much as possible at the expense of the taxpayers, who have no voice in the negotiations.

     

     
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    Re: HOW GOP OLIGARCHS AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT ARE HIDING BEHIND THE FIRST AMENDMENT

    All but five of Congress’s 255 Democrats and independents received campaign donations from postal worker union groups in the past six years, raising the political risk of Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s move to end Saturday mail delivery.

    Political action committees for the seven postal unions contributed $9.6 million from 2007 to 2012 to current members of Congress, 91 percent of it to Democrats and two independents who caucus with them, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

    Democrats control the U.S. Senate, which must agree to most of the changes Donahoe says are needed to save the Postal Service from insolvency. Many of his proposals are intended to reduce labor costs accounting for 80 percent of the service’s expenses. That puts Donahoe in conflict with post office unions, which would lose most of the estimated 22,500 jobs that would be cut if Saturday delivery ends, and have spent years making friends on Capitol Hill.

    “That’s why it’s been so hard to come up with a plan for the Postal Service,” said Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based watchdog group. “The obvious thing you want to do is cut back on the number of employees, cut back on services, cut back on benefits. That’s something Democrats haven’t wanted to do in part because of the support they’ve gotten from the unions.”

     

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from andiejen. Show andiejen's posts

    Re: HOW GOP OLIGARCHS AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT ARE HIDING BEHIND THE FIRST AMENDMENT

    In response to ComingLiberalCrackup's comment:

    All but five of Congress’s 255 Democrats and independents received campaign donations from postal worker union groups in the past six years, raising the political risk of Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s move to end Saturday mail delivery.

    Political action committees for the seven postal unions contributed $9.6 million from 2007 to 2012 to current members of Congress, 91 percent of it to Democrats and two independents who caucus with them, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

    Democrats control the U.S. Senate, which must agree to most of the changes Donahoe says are needed to save the Postal Service from insolvency. Many of his proposals are intended to reduce labor costs accounting for 80 percent of the service’s expenses. That puts Donahoe in conflict with post office unions, which would lose most of the estimated 22,500 jobs that would be cut if Saturday delivery ends, and have spent years making friends on Capitol Hill.

    “That’s why it’s been so hard to come up with a plan for the Postal Service,” said Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based watchdog group. “The obvious thing you want to do is cut back on the number of employees, cut back on services, cut back on benefits. That’s something Democrats haven’t wanted to do in part because of the support they’ve gotten from the unions.”

     



    I am not going to debate the good or bad of public sector unions. That is another subject.

    Unions have the right to donate to whom ever they wish. And as you can see, those donations are a matter of public record, as are the donations of trial lawyer groups and the Wall Street people you mentioned.

    Just as donations to Republican politicians are a matter of public record. 

    In fact many groups and people donate to both Democrats and Republicans. Then journalists, etc. can write columns about possible conflicts of interest related to those donations and the receipients.

    Then we have Citizens United/corporations are people too which opened up the floodgates of course for donations in one of the worst Supreme Court decisions on record.

    But all of the above is not the same thing as the implied corruption you stated in your post.

    For one thing, as long as politicians have to finance their on campaigns they have to constantly fundraise. That is a fact of our current system.

    A member of Congress runs every 2 years. They are always in fundraise mode. Always.

    So the GOP controlled HoR members are constantly aware of what is in their war chest and constantly looking to build or re-build their war chest because their next election is right around the corner.

    Then let us go through the campaign donors, and the amounts, of the GOP members of the HoR which so many contend has been beyond partisan in its behavior since the GOP took control.

    Or look at the GOP members of the Senate. The Senate which recently changed the rules to a simple majority after untold filibusters by the GOP.

    We can also look at the campaign donors and amounts behind the current GOP members of the Senate.

    See how that works?

     

     

     
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    Re: HOW GOP OLIGARCHS AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT ARE HIDING BEHIND THE FIRST AMENDMENT

     

    The right wing delusionals used to applaud government bureaucrats from the FBI and Treasury Dept when they beat up, harassed, and killed the Black Panthers, SDS, and other left wing groups back in the 1960s.  Therefore, they have no complaint today.

     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from StalkingButler. Show StalkingButler's posts

    Re: HOW GOP OLIGARCHS AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT ARE HIDING BEHIND THE FIRST AMENDMENT

    [QUOTE]Therefore, they have no complaint today.[/QUOTE]

    So, in order for you not to be a complete hypocrite you'll be making those complaints for them. Right?

     

     
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