Even Paranoids Have Enemies, Part II

In this post, we noted that liberal bloggers and columnists have taken to poo-poohing the idea of reinstatement of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," but also noted that whatever their words, in fact their is strong pressure to from the left wing of the party to use the "Fairness Doctrine" to limit conservative talk radio.

On February 5th Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow voiced her interest in silencing conservative talk radio through a reinstatement of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," telling television commentator and long-time Democratic strategist Bill Press, "it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else [perhaps the "Censorship Doctrine?" – ed.]— I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves."  Press made no doubt about his support for regulating conservative radio, and asked Stabenow if Congress would be having hearings on the matter, and if she would "push" for such hearings.  Stabenow replied, "I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep."

As we noted before, sometimes even paranoids have enemies.

A juicy footnote to this: Senator Stabenow is married to Tom Athans, a long time Democratic activist who co-founded the left-wing Democracy Radio and served as Vice President for the now bankrupt liberal talk radio network Air America.  After Air America went under, he helped launch another liberal talk network, TalkUSA Radio.  So this is a twofer in how government can be counted on to enforce control of political speech – Stabenow has a political interest in silencing conservative voices, and a family economic interest in enacting a "Fairness Doctrine" that will have the effect of forcing stations to carry more liberal programming, such as that of Talk USA Radio and Air America. 

We’ve heard rumors that the campaign finance "reform" community is cranking up the press machines over this abuse of government power for pecuniary gain… LOL.  Yeah, that’ll be the day.

Filed Under: Blog

Of Democrats, Money, Good Government and Freedom

Mark Schmitt is an old line campaign finance "reformer" who has, in recent years, slowly been coming to the recognition that maybe money in politics ain’t all bad.  He’s recently written this column for the American Prospect, in which he suggests that reformers (such as he) need to rethink some of their old positions. 

"The election created a paradox [for the "reform" community]," writes Schmitt. "If there were a causal relationship between big money in politics and corruption, public cynicism, and low participation, then a year like 2008 — which featured big money but also public enthusiasm and high participation — should not exist."

But Mr. Schmitt’s proposed solutions to this "reform" paradox not only leave something to be desired, they reveal a core problem with political speech regulation .  Click the headline for more.

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FEC Adopts E&J for Bundling Rules: Ho-Hum

Yesterday (Feb. 3) the FEC adopted the Explanation & Justification (E&J) for the bundling rules originally adopted in December.  That means that the E&J will be published in the federal register and the rules will take effect.  Both the rules and the E&J adopted yesterday can be found here

This was a ho-hum event – the rules published in December were pretty clear, and the E&J gives the fairly obvious reasons for their adoption.  The "reform" community was predicatably upset.  Their objections are the same ones they raised when the rules themselves were adopted in December, and their objections make no more sense now than they did then.  Naturally, at least some reformers felt the need to conclude their analysis with the usual slander against all who disagree with them, accusing their opponents of disregard for a law which, apparently, only the high priests of the "reform" community are capable of correctly deciphering, and for which, strangely, appointment to the FEC immediately leads to the loss of those magical power of proper interpretation.

My earlier comment on the reformers’ objections is here.  There was nothing new in yesterday’s events.  These are sound, logical rules for enforcing a rather illogial law.

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Amicus Brief: Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc.

Download Amicus Brief

Filed Under: Completed Amicus Briefs, Legal, Legal Center, amicus brief, caperton, coal, massey, Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus), Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus)

CCP files Supreme Court brief supporting speech in judicial elections

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court today in the case of Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc., No. 08-22. The case raises the question of whether an elected state supreme court justice must recuse himself because a litigant’s CEO previously exercised his First Amendment rights to speak out in the judicial election through his own spending and contributions to an independent advocacy group.

CCP’s amicus brief explains that the Supreme Court should not venture down the path toward forced recusal based on independent campaign speech because the "bias" standard for recusal requires a judge to have a "direct, personal, substantial, pecuniary interest" in the case being heard.  That well-established "bias" standard is a much higher bar than the "corruption" standard used in the Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence. 

"If the Supreme Court rules that independent campaign speech creates an unconstitutional ‘bias or its appearance’ in elected judges that do not recuse, then lower courts will infer that independent expenditures create ‘corruption or its appearance’ in elected legislators that do not abstain," said Stephen M. Hoersting, CCP’s Vice President and counsel of record on the brief.  "Such a ruling would be contrary to the Supreme Court’s landmark campaign finance ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, with free speech being the inevitable casualty."

(more)

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The problem with scapegoating lobbyists

A column in National Journal yesterday showcases the Obama administration’s difficult task of transitioning to governing from campaigning. The Obama campaign — and its Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain — engaged in nearly constant hyperbole about the supposedly corrupt influence of lobbyists.

Now, faced with the sobering task of governing in the real world, the Obama team is realizing that lobbyists are essential to picking competent people to fill key administration posts and offer expert advice on complex policy matters.

The "Rules of the Game" column by Eliza Newlin Carney features ‘good government’ groups criticizing any involvement of lobbyists in anything (especially in lobbying for U.S. Treasury funds) and government relations professionals who are understandably frustrated that the administration is treating the First Amendment like an inconvenience:

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