WWJD: What Would Jefferson Do?

Barack Obama is upset about lies he thinks are being told about him.  CCP and others are alarmed by threats to resort to criminal and regulatory processes to silence his critics.

In trying situations we sometimes ask what great leaders would do.  In the case of Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Democratic Party, we don’t have to guess.

Jefferson was subject to outrageous attacks on his patriotism (too French), his religious beliefs (allegedly atheist), and his personal life.  His political allies were actually thrown in jail for criticizing the ruling Federalists.  Armed conflict seemed a real possibility.

Jefferson fought back hard, but he used the press and the political process, not threats of prosecution.  Rather than turning the tables once he gained power, he used the experience to show America, and the world, the superiority of free speech over government coercion to combat error.  It’s a lesson the Obama campaign should learn.

Filed Under: Blog

Defending Nancy Pelosi

The Center for Competitive Politics welcomes former FEC Commissioner David Mason as an occasional contributor to the blog. His first post follows:

Put me down as opposed to most of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s political aims, but she deserves some defense from a front page ethics attack in today’s Washington Times

The Times reports dramatically that "Pelosi’s PAC pays bills for spouse’s firm", referring to $99,000 in payments over the past 9 years.  The problem is, there is no evidence, at least in the Times story or FEC reports, that the PAC is paying bills for Paul Pelosi’s apparently successful firm, FLS, much less that Paul Pelosi is "on the payroll" of the PAC as suggested in the story.

What FEC reports do show is a classic Catch-22 that Federal campaign finance law creates: Pelosi’s PAC cannot accept free rent from her husband’s business, but if she pays rent, as required by law, she’s accused of lining her family’s pockets.  The kerfuffle has nothing really to do with ethics, and no bearing on any important issue, but it gets front page treatment because the mere hint of corruption is politically powerful.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Will Frankenstein Return?

A long slumbering, but never dead, enemy of free speech is now able to return.

The Orwellian-titled Fairness Doctrine forced broadcasters to "afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance" until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) abolished it in the 1980’s.

Initially intended to force broadcast stations to "cover controversial issues of public importance to the community" and "provide a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints on those issues," the Fairness Doctrine did just the opposite.

An amendment to an appropriations bill banned the FCC from re-instating the Fairness Doctrine during the last fiscal year.  But today marks the beginning of a new fiscal year and some legislative leaders have already begun touting the merits of the Fairness Doctrine.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog