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View Diary: Corrupt Democracy 21 (155 comments)

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  •  Let me just stick up for Fred here. . . (none)
    . . . or, if not for Fred (since I don't know too much about his particular position) then for the proposition that the general kind of legislation being proposed is the outgrowth of the campaign spending laws already passed.

    Although I'm very uncomfortable with out of control campaign spending, as I think any civic minded person of any political persuasion ought to be, I've always been troubled by the "limiting spending is not limiting speech" argument.  That's because, fundamentally, I agree with the argument that spending is speech to some extent.

    That is, if I want to hire a skywriter to write "Screw Bush, vote Democratic" (or some more productive slogan) over Ohio in October, 2006, I'm just not sure I should be subject to whatever spending limits Ohio has decreed.  I thought it was silly having to count the stamps I bought to send letters for Dean in the primaries also.

    With laws that do require individuals and organizations to track their spending on behalf of candidates, I think a certain amount of broad-based, civilly offensive intrusion into free speech is to be expected.

    Please note that I'm not supporting the intrusion but rather, and definetly reluctantly, opposing the campaign finance laws that I think lead, inevitably, to the intrusion.

    It's true that arguments can be made that something like dKos is not subjec to the regulations and it's quite likely that, if litigated, it would prove to be so under the law.  But the laws are going to lead to that kind of litigation.

    There are creative ways to address out of control campaign spending, I'm just not entirely happy with the extremely technical, intrusive ones that have been adopted.

    Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

    by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:45:00 AM PST

    •  I'm not entirely sure (none)
      What you're saying here, and how it is sticking up for Fred........could you clarify?

      "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

      by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:19:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that. . . (none)
        legislation like that being pushed by Democracy 21 is a natural outgrowth of our current campaign finance laws.  If we're for those laws, we ought to expect this kind of legislation and we ought to expect to have to account for our spending in support of any candidate or party.

        Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

        by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:22:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Which is the problem. (none)
          We shouldn't be regulating any of it. Candidates should have to publish lists of everyone who supported them monetarily. Websites should have to make clear who runs and funds the site. And that is it.

          Everything else is just clutter and obstacles designed to make it harder for the common man to make his voice heard.

          •  If it was that easy (none)
            The reason its not that simple is because of Watergate, simply put, and the idea that if say, 10 really wealthy people can run your entire operation in the final months of a presidential campaign, but not be disclosed until after the campaign, you are doing the public a disservice, and those 10 men will have undue influence in your administration.

            "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

            by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:33:06 PM PST

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            •  Could the presence of those men (none)
              be disguised in the twenty-first century, with the pervasive media and Internet? Probably not. And if they gave money to the candidate, they'd have to be disclosed.

              I just think all this talk of regulation is junk, both of the Internet and campaign financing.

              •  there already is disclosure (none)
                You can look up contributors on the FEC's website.  The search is cumbersome, confusing, and can have significant time lags.  I don't see how this solves any problems.  Besides, contributors can always hide their true contribution amounts by bundling their contributions (pledging a given amount to a candidate, but dividing that total figure amongst numerous supposed contributors), or their identities by contributing through an ambiguously-named PAC.  
              •  Of course they could (none)
                What about Coingate? What about Jack Abramoff? What about Duke Cunningham? Faith in the media and the internet is one thing, but there's surprisingly LITTLE caught by the public eye.

                Some other important points are that disclosure is not immediate. It's not released until after a certain period. So the last cycle of a campaign is never reported until AFTER the campaign is over. Therefore, if you pumped a bunch of bad money into last minute races, no one would know until after the race is over. Hell, the Senate doesn't even have electronic disclosure, so numbers posted for the quarter ending in July were unavailable to the public on Election Day.

                "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

                by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:53:08 PM PST

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          •  I disagree. (none)
            Then you will have the domination of politics by high spenders (from your comment it looks like you would remove campaign contribution limits as well).

            It's all well and good to know that one guy is spending $100 million based on ten $1 million contributions while the other guy is spending $6.50 based on 65 contributions of ten cents each.  But all things being equal, the guy with $100 million is going to have something of an advantage.

            I don't think the way to deal with it is to institute all kinds of very technical restrictions on who can spend money on exactly what.  It leads to confusion, cheating, and legislation like that which Kos is objecting to.

            My personal preferred solution is a very high excise tax on political spending (not giving), with the money raised by distributed by some reasonably fair formula to the less well funded candidates.

            Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

            by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:40:10 PM PST

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            •  He may have an advantage... (none)
              with the candidate. But when that is exposed to the public, will the candidate have an advantage with the voters?

              That's where I am coming from. At the end of the day, Halliburton could spend 100,000,000 dollars for Bush. But if I do my due dilligence, read as much as I can, make an effort to educate myself about the candidates...then I'll know he's a moron and not vote for him. Or I'll see how much Halliburton gave to him and decide I don't want a candidate who's in their pocket.

              It's up to the public to educate themselves, not have the government spoonfeed them.

              •  then surely (none)
                you've made use of the disclosure statements at www.fec.gov in previous elections?
              •  Still disagree. . . (none)
                If Osama bin Laden shows up on the contributor list then OK, it may be a disadvantage.  But for the most part, the people who show up are going to be executive nobodies.  For the most part, it won't make a different, even for those people who actually pay attention to this sort of thing.

                The truth is, some candidates are going to raise huge amounts of money in completely innocent ways -- whether it is in large contributions for a smaller number of givers or small contributions from a larger number of givers (if, say, Focus on the Family gets behind you).  The inequity still needs to be addressed.

                Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

                by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:52:37 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I disagree. (none)
                  Respectfully, but I do.

                  If the names on the list are executives, people can research who they work for.

                  And if people take the time to read about and research the candidates, then one candidate having 100M and the other 50M won't matter.

                  The money only matters if people let the TV and newspaper ads be the limit of their research. And if the voters are content to sit back and let 30-second sound-bites be their research, then we deserve the government we get.

                  Regulation breeds inequity in the process. We need less, not more.

              •  Will the candidate have an advantage? (none)
                Ask Mike Bloomberg.  $100 million can cover a multitude of sins.
            •  The real solution.... (none)
              ... is to:

              1) Give blogs the press exemption (which the FEC decided to do, but for which Wertheimer's slugging them) and 2) support the work of Public Campaign.

              •  Don't think so. (none)
                "Blog" is a legally meaningless word.  Say I organize a pro-Hillary "blog" which would raise money and publish pro-Hillary information on the internet.  OK with that as an unregulated campaign expense?

                Now, suppose as part of my blog activity, I print some of my choicer posts and mail them to a million voters as part of a project to promote traffice to my site.  So now I've sent out a million pro-Hillary (or maybe anti-someone-else) mailers as part of my blog.

                That loophole is large enough to drive a campaign bus through.  The problem is not the existence of blogs, it's these poorly thought out campaign finance laws.

                Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

                by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:57:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  once you fall out of the press function (none)
                  You fall out of the press exception.  For example, if a newspaper went beyond publishing an editorial endorsing a candidate to sending workers door-to-door to do GOTV, that would not be an allowable corporate expenditure.
                  •  I can't possibly see (none)
                    why a newspaper that endorses a candidate should be exempt from the laws as written, except that an otherwise nonsensical exception was carved out to protect them.  Delivering X million copies of an endorsement like that pretty clearly falls under the kind of speech that is regulated.

                    In any event, I think the exception is not so clearly due to blogs.  It might be -- but it doesn't seem open and shut to me, I would expect to have to deal with these kinds of challenges.

                    Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

                    by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 06:37:15 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Depends (none)
                  Say I organize a pro-Hillary "blog" which would raise money and publish pro-Hillary information on the internet.  OK with that as an unregulated campaign expense?

                  You are saying some conflicting things here.

                  What are you raising the funds for and how?

                  If the "money you raise" is simply punting people to her contribution page... no. Absolutely no regulation should impede you doing so. If she is paying you (directly or through blogads) it shows up on her FEC filings already.

                  I guess i have a hard time understanding the argument that Fox gets to have a website spewing whatever it wants, yet somehow individual citizens are forced out via misguided and de-facto exclusionary laws.

                  cheers,

                  Mitch Gore

                  Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                  by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 07:02:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

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