Grassley Protects Constitutional Turf
If Democrats don't know basic history, should they really be trying to rewrite it? That's a question some people wondered yesterday after Senator Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) primetime gaffe. The Harvard-educated agitator, one of 42 liberals trying to scrap the First Amendment, argued for his party's amendment by suggesting that the author of it would have approved. "I think if Thomas Jefferson were looking down, the author of the Bill of Rights, on what's being proposed here, he'd agree with it."
Except that Thomas Jefferson didn't write the First Amendment -- James Madison did. We all make mistakes -- but Sen. Schumer's is far bigger than forgetting a founding framer. It's supporting a measure that would peel back 223 years of untouched law. Liberals have been backing Sen. Tom Udall's (D-N.M.) amendment under the guise of election accountability -- instead of what it really is: a naked power grab designed to silence the opposition.
In a highly unusual move, both parties put their top guns on the witness stand for Tuesday's Judiciary Committee hearing, giving the Senate Minority and Majority Leaders a rare chance to square off in dueling testimonies. While Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) argued that conservative campaign money is tainting politics, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fired back that Democrats have just as much financial capacity to influence U.S. elections as anyone -- maybe more. "The real goal here," McConnell pointed out, "is to stir up one party's political base so they'll show up in November. And it's to do it by complaining loudly about certain Americans exercising their free speech rights, while being perfectly happy that other Americans -- who agree with the sponsors of this amendment -- are doing the same thing."
Under the Udall language, Congress would grant itself broad new powers to regulate what's said about what happens in government, both at the federal and state level. Everything Americans use to hold members accountable -- from political ads to voter guides -- would not-so-coincidentally come under the control of the same leaders the information targets.
That didn't sit too well with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who delivered a powerful statement about the First Amendment attacks already underway. "Today, freedom of speech is threatened as it has not been in many decades. Too many people are impatient and will not listen and debate and persuade. They want to punish, intimidate, and silence those with whom they disagree. A corporate executive who opposed same-sex marriage -- the same position that President Obama held at that time -- is to be fired. Universities that are supposed to foster academic freedom cancel graduation speeches by speakers that some students find offensive. Government officials order other government officials not to deviate from the party line concerning proposed legislation... [If we pass this amendment], we would be back to the days when criticism of elected officials was a criminal offense, as during the Alien and Sedition Acts."
If Democrats want to amend the Constitution, they'll have a steep hill (Hill) to climb. They'll also have to practice their sincerity on the value of free speech. In an almost comical display, Chairman Leahy asked an officer to remove someone holding a "restore democracy" sign from the hearing, which -- irony alert -- was about the First Amendment!
'Bergdeal' a Bad One for Obama, U.S.
President Obama freed a deserter -- only, it seems, to be deserted himself. The man behind what could be the most foolhardy move in the War on Terror stands by his decision to release five of America's enemies for one wayward soldier. And increasingly, he's standing alone. After a few premature statements of support, Democrats are jumping ship on this foreign policy titanic faster than you can say Uniform Code of Military Justice. Even some of the Senate's most hardened liberals can't back away fast enough.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was blunt about her frustration, despite the administration's belated apology for its "oversight" in breaking the law where the 30-days notice to Congress is concerned. From the mainstream media to the President's reliable friends, Feinstein seemed to speak for everyone when she said that there was not a "level of trust" with the administration. "The White House is pretty unilateral about what they want to do when they want to do it," she said. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) called the deal that liberated Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl "very disturbing."
And while the Left may just be coming around to the devastation this swap could do to national security, new reports suggest that military leaders raised red flags from the very beginning. In what insiders called "out of the norm," the President didn't allow any conversation on the plan, despite serious internal objections. "Obama's move was an ultimate victory for those at the White House and State Department who had previously argued the military should 'suck it up and salute.'"
Objectors, which TIME reporters say ranged from intelligence to Pentagon officials, insisted the five terrorists released were "a continuing threat." "How much sense does it make to release your enemy when you're still at war with him?" asked one insider. Still, the President charged ahead anyway, igniting exactly the kind of national firestorm Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release was intended to avoid. With all due respect to the commander-in-chief, our military leaders take an oath to defend the Constitution and the country -- not the President's personal agenda. It's time for those leaders to put their careers on the line -- just like those six soldiers put their lives on the line to find a man who intentionally left his post.
Otherwise, where is the comfort for those parents, whose children made the ultimate sacrifice to protect America from the very terrorists we released? Sondra Andrews, mom to 2nd Lieutenant Darryn Andrews -- part of Bergdahl's search team -- is deeply convinced that her son would have willingly died to keep these Guantanamo Bay prisoners from being unleashed on the world. Instead, she told the Military Times, "This guy [Bergdahl] was worth my son's life? My son who was patriotic? Who was a true soldier? Who defended his country with his life? [Bergdahl] was worth it? I don't think so."
Meanwhile, the same President who is crowing about leaving no American behind has done exactly that in Sudan where Meriam Ibrahim continues to waste away in a Khartoum prison awaiting execution for her faith. As Americans try to make sense of the Bergdahl trade, Meriam and her two tiny children cannot afford to be lost in the outrage. Britain continues to speak out more forcefully than the United States on a platform of freedom that America used to own. As the President's grip on religious liberty slips, so too is the U.S.'s influence on the world's conscience.
We can't bring back those young warriors who died looking for a selfish defector, but we can pressure the Obama administration to fight for two innocent babies. Sign our WhiteHouse.gov petition here and call for the administration to start rebuilding its foreign policy credibility by showing the resolve on Meriam it has lacked on so many others.
The Abstinence-Minded Professor...
The true "war on women" isn't being waged by conservatives -- but by the Left. Under the guise of "freedom," women are being victimized by the agenda of radical sexual autonomy and casual sex, which has resulted in myriad personal and social ills. This was the well-documented message of Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Association, presented at FRC today during one of our lunchtime lectures. To truly empower women, Valerie said, we need to encourage the skills that promote self-control, protection from victimization, and the strength to say "no" to demands for sex. FRC's research also shows that having a home where a girl is treated with love and dignity by a mom and a dad is also essential to the well-being of every young woman. Don't miss her important talk in the video below.
** President Obama: Incompetent or Intentional? It's a question Ken Blackwell tries to answer in his latest column for the Daily Caller. Click here to check it out. Also, what do Toni Braxton, Sharon Osbourne, and Sinead O'Connor all have in common? They're celebrities who've all had abortions -- and know its pain. FRC's Arina Grossu takes a look at the real drama in the entertainment industry in her National Review piece, "Toni Braxton Joins Ranks of Other Celebrities in Revealing Abortion."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.