Monday, June 25, 2007

The Senate, Free Speach, and Russian Madness

Round Two
The Senate is expected to take up the “grand compromise” bill on comprehensive immigration reform this week with another vote to cut off debate scheduled for tomorrow. While proponents of the bill predict they have the votes to proceed, it will be close as more and more senators have announced their opposition. Friday, Senator John Cornyn of Texas said opposition to the bill was growing, and even previous supporters, such as Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, were backing off.

Assuming 60 votes can be found to limit debate, the Senate will then have to dispatch nearly two-dozen amendments, some of which may be “deal breakers” for the fragile coalition that has produced this overwhelmingly unpopular piece of legislation. For example, Republican leaders McConnell and Lott, who have supported the Kennedy bill, now say that they may vote against final passage depending on which amendments are agreed to or shot down. We will keep you posted. But if the administration needed more evidence of why the American people simply don’t trust the government when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws, we got yet another example last week when a video was publicly released showing an attorney literally coaching American employers on how “not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker” so they could take advantage of certain visa programs that allow foreign workers to come into the country. According to the Labor Department’s own statistics, a foreign engineer in the country on an H1-B visa earns 23% less than an American engineer. As a result of this video, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa and Representative Lamar Smith of Texas are demanding an investigation into potential abuses of the H1-B visa program.

Victory For “Freer” Speech
Today the Supreme Court issued a 5-to-4 decision taking a major bite out of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. We are still analyzing the ruling, but it appears as though the high court stuck down the 30/60 day “blackout” period, during which grassroots groups were prohibited from airing issue advocacy ads.

Wisconsin Right to Life filed suit in 2004 when it was prohibited from running ads just before the election asking citizens to contact Wisconsin’s Senators Feingold and Kohl in opposition to the filibusters of President Bush’s judicial nominees. The ads were rejected by broadcasters because Senator Feingold was up for reelection. In today’s majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Discussion of issues cannot be suppressed simply because the issues also may be pertinent in an election. Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.”

It’s worth noting that the court’s four conservative members – Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito -- plus moderate Anthony Kennedy sided with the free speech rights of grassroots organizations, while the court’s liberal bloc – Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer – voted for more government regulation of speech and advertising. That’s an interesting dynamic given the current liberal push in Congress to regulate the content of talk radio.

What is behind the liberal impulse to control the discourse of public debate? Perhaps it is the fact that the Left has struggled to find broad support for its agenda in the public square, but has had more success in the courts – the most undemocratic method of changing public policy. After all, it was the judiciary that legalized abortion-on-demand, that banned prayer in our schools, and that foisted same-sex “marriage” on the people of Massachusetts. It seems that the liberal champions of “tolerance” have a problem with free speech and expression when they can’t win the debate!

Let me be even clearer, friends: This victory today wouldn’t have been possible without the nomination and confirmation of conservative judicial nominees. Thankfully, our support for Justices Roberts and Alito has been validated so far. God Bless em.

Those Crazy Russians
President Vladimir Putin has warned that Russia will target Europe if the U.S. deploys anti-missile installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. “If part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States ends up in Europe and, in the opinion of our military experts, threatens us, then we will be forced to take corresponding reciprocal steps,” he said in an interview with journalists from G8 member countries posted on the Kremlin’s website. “What steps? Of course, we must have new targets in Europe.” Putin also said the U.S. missile shield is not needed counter an Iranian threat because Iran has no missiles with ranges of 5,000- 8,000 kilometers. “In other words, we are told that the ABM system is aimed at protecting against something that does not exist,” he said.

In the same interview, Putin spoke positively about Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov’s suggestion that the presidential term be lengthened. “Maybe five, maybe seven, but four years is, of course, quite a short term,” Putin said. Still, he said that the number of presidential terms should be limited and reiterated that he will step down when his second term ends next year. Putin also charged that human rights abuses are taking place in “North America,” including “the sheer horror of torture, the homeless, Guantanamo and keeping people in custody without trial or investigation,” and in Europe, including “the harsh treatment of demonstrators, the use of rubber bullets and tear gas in one capital or another, the killing of demonstrators in the streets.”

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