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January 16, 2007

Comments

Since fairness is subjective, the fact it is the Democrats who are pushing so hard for a new Fairness Doctrine suggests that, were they successful, they would change the current broadcast landscape. Talk radio would go away . . .

I actually nearly stopped reading here, since that last sentence is supported neither by anything that came before nor any facts currently in evidence. I remind you that the FCC during the Clinton years spent most of its time loosening the broadcast ownership rules and levying fines on Rush Limbaugh. Oh, wait -- did I say Limbaugh? Because I meant Howard Stern.

Um...speaking of facts, perhaps you should have examined when the Fairness Doctrine was repealed. Since the Fairness Doctrine went away in 1987, the fact the Clinton Administration didn't use it against Limbaugh is, well, rather unsurprising.

Good essay, Andrew. As I've grown more, in today's warped US political parlance, "liberal" (i.e. anti-authoritarian), I've lost my patience with conservative talk radio. It has no redeeming social value whatsoever.

But I'm libertarian, so I would defend anyone's right to air or listen to utter bullshit with no redeeming social value whatsoever.

The only problem is, as you noted, concentration of scarce broadcast space -- and we have other laws to deal with those.

"the fact it is the Democrats who are pushing so hard for a new Fairness Doctrine"

Could you give a few cites as regards this, please? Kucinich is at the extreme left of Democrats in Congress; one of the 5 most so.

Is the Democratic leadership "pushing so hard"? Or pushing at all? Do you have any cites as regards that? Or that the majority of Democrats are pushing? Or that even a substantial minority (say, 50+ of 232) Democrats are?

As I indicated in the other thread, I do agree, though probably with some differences in the background, that the Fairness Doctrine as it once existed is past its sell-by date, and no longer suited towards present times.

I do, as I wrote in that thread, think that more should be done to limit media near-monopolies in local media markets, but that's a separate issue.

Andrew, I took Phil's point to be you were imputing rather nefarious motives to the Democrats, and that history didn't really support that imputation. As in: Surely if the Democrats hated talk radio so much, the Clinton FCC would have spent more time going after Rush Limbaugh, not Howard Stern. I certainly haven't seen anything to imply that this is all some Democratic plot to get rid of talk radio, but maybe you have.

Your assumption seems to be that the passage of a Fairness Act would mean thhat hatetalk righhtwinng shows would be shhut down. Why? They would just be forced to show equal amounts of normal to liberal programming. Nobody wuld have to be shut down.
I followed your link to thhe Heritage Fouundations but I didn't see any examples of political talk actually beinng censored or shut down, only complaints and threats. So I didnn't see a case being made that thhe Fairness Act actually caused political talk shows to be censored or cancelled. Maybe you could provide some examples of this.
The real problem isn't the rightwing hatetalk shows like Limbaugh or the psuedo news stations like FOX. The real problem is the connsolidations of too much media under too little ownership ie monopoly. The lack of competition leads to a lack of accountablity, reduction in quality, and makes it impossible for market forces to rectify thhe situation. Right now, for example, in spite of the resurgence of liberalism, ABC and CNN are more righhtwards in their coverage.
I am opposed to censorship. I am totally in favor of forcing the broadcast media to air a variety of points of view. I do not believe that my positionn is contradictory.

You point out, fairly, some bad consequences of the Fairness Doctrine. Point to you.

I would point out in return, that the lack of a Fairness Doctrine, means that the news received is usually favored towards corporations. And I believe that, especially for TV media, that the lack of a fairness doctrine has contributed mightily to the "empty talking heads" edition of the news, or, as Media Matters has pointed out, the overrepresentation of right-wing views - (the Media Matters study is based on 3 years of counting guests and their political slant, and it is 3 to 2 in favor of conservative).

One example, in regards to old media, is some of the FCC conversations, and the agglomeration of "old-style", or TV station media. There really isn't anyone who argues against this (allowed on TV), and this works against local communities and their interests. (There are other examples as well)

But you are also right in regards to the rise of new media, and the multiplicity of both channels, and soon web video channels. The Fairness doctrine is useful for the AIRWAVES, given the "limited access" to the airwaves, and who controls access to the airwaves. But clearly isn't useful for the other multiplicity of platforms.

I don't think a "one size fits all" approach, in you bringing up talk radio, is accurate. Clearly any new fairness doctrine would probably attach itself to the media which is limited and expensive - mainly the mainstream airwaves.

I don't think this would - should - apply to radio or the internet.

So a "smart" Fairness Doctrine would have to be written.

Larv,

I tend to impute nefarious motives to politicians as a ground rule. It rarely fails me. And when looks at the attempts to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, it's difficult not to note that the people pushing it are invariably Democrats. So, it seems fair to ask, why do they think it's a good idea? I suppose I could assume that it's because they're pure of heart and only want what's best for America, but I tend to assume that when someone is pushing legislation, it's because they think their side will benefit from it.

I'm curious: what views are not being broadcast on the airwaves now? Other than those outside the two major parties, that is?

"Your assumption seems to be that the passage of a Fairness Act would mean thhat hatetalk righhtwinng shows would be shhut down. Why? They would just be forced to show equal amounts of normal to liberal programming. Nobody wuld have to be shut down."

Andrew addressed that:

[...] (While it's not the stated goal of the Democrats to eliminate conservative talk radio, the fact is that the Fairness Doctrine guaranteed that such programs did not exist because there's no audience for the other side, and so stations would stick to programming that didn't cost them money.)
And:
[...] The fact remains, as any blogger trying to boost traffic knows, that the public decides what they want to listen to with little regard for fairness or equal opportunity. Conservatives read conservative web sites and listen to conservative radio. Liberals read liberal web sites and listen to NPR (just kidding). Yes, there are people who cross the lines to read what the other side is saying, but they are the exception.
Now, one can argue with his premises and conclusions, but he did put them forth.

I'd actually say that he's correct about this almost to the point of being factually inarguable, at least in the sense that the history of the Fairness Doctrine as it once existed bears out that it caused political references and discussion on tv and radio to be limited (other than in election advertisements) to those public affairs programs, and documentaries, that the networks put on as part of their public affairs commitment (which was much heavier in those days, as well, as well as proportionally less unprofitable, though still noticeably unprofitable, which is also a huge part of why such programs weren't overwhelming in numbers).

Now, one might put forth premises to argue why a reinstantiation, or new version, of the Fairness Doctrine wouldn't do that this time, by virtue of new twists in the regulations, but the record of the past version is one we have, and needn't speculate about.

JC,

A 'smart' fairness doctrine would still be implemented by politicians. I am not at all comfortable with bureaucrats deciding what fairness is and how it is to be implemented.

If the fairness doctrine were in place on this blog, hilzoy couldn't post one of her wonderful articles until I posted a post of my own.

That might be fair, but would it be good?

I am not at all comfortable with bureaucrats deciding what fairness is and how it is to be implemented.

no need to worry about that. odds are very good that it would be ultimatey written entirely by lawyers working for the media companies. we don't let politicians decide these kinds of things on their own anywore.

If the fairness doctrine were in place on this blog,

which would never happen because blogspace is not scare. if there were only 50 blogs allowed in the world, due to the laws of physics, you might have a better analogy.

[...] Clearly any new fairness doctrine would probably attach itself to the media which is limited and expensive - mainly the mainstream airwaves.

I don't think this would - should - apply to radio

Radio, by definition, goes over the airwaves (although satellite radio does so in a different way from FM, AM, and shortwave); I'm very confused by what you're referring to as "airwaves" if you're excluding radio.

cleek,

I fail to see how that is any better than having the politicians decide it. I'll hazard a guess you don't think that it is either.

I doubt very much that the Fairness Doctrine is the main policy goal that even Kucinich is pushing. Now that the deregulation of the 1980s has really taken effect, what have the effects been? We've seen a concentration of ownership of local radio and newspapers, and, arguably, we've seen a self-segregation of audiences into ideological media. I agree that the latter effect is not something that would respond well to government interference, but I do believe that the former effect might be.

One of the reasons this is coming up now, btw, besides its being a general matter of concern of course, is that a rather well-respected social historian Eric Klinenberg documenting at least one very real harm resulting from the deregulation of local radio ownership. He's been conducting interviews on a lot of the nerdlier media outlets (like my local NPR station), and he makes a very persuasive case that a great deal of civic richness and responsibility has been carelessly trashed.

"I'll hazard a guess you don't think that it is either."

I thought cleek was being dryly sarcastic, as is not unusual, myself.

Oh damn! (Please be closed now?)

I tend to impute nefarious motives to politicians as a ground rule. It rarely fails me. And when looks at the attempts to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, it's difficult not to note that the people pushing it are invariably Democrats.
Invariably? Have there really been that many attempts to re-instate it? I'm not saying there haven't, but they've been completely off my radar. In any case, this isn't a core position for the Dems. As Gary notes, Kucinich isn't exactly in the Democratic mainstream, and even he doesn't seem to think its enough of a priority to put it on his issues page. I don't think there's really much here to get worked up about. Does anyone have the actual text of his speech?

I hate to say this, but this seems like a prototypical RW meme thing, and I'm a bit disappointed that you are doing this. The story quoted in CQ has this

The Presidential candidate said that the committee would be holding "hearings to push media reform right at the center of Washington.” The Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee was to be officially announced this week in Washington, D.C., but Kucinich opted to make the news public early.

In addition to media ownership, the committee is expected to focus its attention on issues such as net neutrality and major telecommunications mergers. Also in consideration is the "Fairness Doctrine,"

The article suggests that FD is an afterthought, and provides no support, and CQ at least says

Dennis Kucinich announced that he would use his position on a House government-reform subcommittee to focus on the Federal Communications Commission

but then adds
and that the Fairness Doctrine may make a comeback

CQ then explains how bad Fairness Doctrine is, even though there is no evidence that Kucinich said anything about it or is even thinking about it.

Now Andrew takes this to mean that Kucinich 'has decided to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine' and imputes it to the entire Democratic party. Gary asked for more evidence of this notion, but I would ask for any evidence that this is what Kucinich actually has in mind, beyond a one line comment in a news story about a surprise appearance.

Given that not only Net Neutrality and Telecom mergers remain important issues, but the question of political advertisements via the internet is of importance, it seems that something about 'fairness' has to enter the debate, and that debate is ill served by the kind of mind reading that is going on here.

I'm sorry. I'll never post about anything without your permission again, lj. Please forward me a list of your approved topics so I'll know what I'm allowed to write about. And I hope everyone will forgive my impertinence in writing what I wanted to write about, which apparently involves nothing but right-wing tropes. Rest assured, it won't happen again.

Sebastian:

"If the fairness doctrine were in place on this blog, Hilzoy couldn't post one of her wonderful articles until I posted one of my own.

That might be fair, but would it be good?"

Well, actually yes, it would be good. But it wouldn't be fair to you or anyone else to be forced to match Hilzoy's prolific output. ;)

But is this relevant here and is that how the Fairness Doctrine works? You are free, in this venue, to take Hilzoy to task in comments or to follow up at your leisure with a rebuttal. Which you do ably. And I don't think we need to invoke the Insincerity Doctrine at this point, because I mean that.

I'm no expert (to be fair, I'll chime in with the opposite and false statement that I am, in fact, an expert) on the Fairness Doctrine and I look askance at the difficulty of enforcing fairness, but ...

.. I would like to hear this exchange just once on, for example, Rush Limbaugh's radio show:

Limbaugh: Chelsea Clinton looks like a dog.

Me: No, she doesn't.

Limbaugh: Yeah, she does.

Me: I'm here to say she doesn't.

Limbaugh: That's not fair.

Of course, we would have to invoke the Anti-Irony Doctrine for the Colbert Report, the Anti-Humor Doctrine for David Letterman's nightly top-ten list and let's not forget the Hold The Bull---t Doctrine every time the White House utters a peep. And how dare Desilu Productions assail us every day by asserting that I Love Lucy. Maybe I don't love Lucy.

I remember way back when Limbaugh's TV talk show debuted with a Donahue type of format and FogHorn Leghorn took his first stroll up the aisle and unwittingly stuck the microphone in the face of a lesbian-rights activist and she gave him the richly and fairly deserved reward of an emotional tongue-lashing.

The blood drained from his face, words failed him, he turned on his heel, and got back down to the stage very nimbly for such a big man.

Show canceled. Fairness can be deadly.


"I'm sorry. I'll never post about anything without your permission again, lj."

Andrew, pretty sure lj was challenging an important point in your argument, not your right to make the argument. I at least got to "the fact it is the Democrats who are pushing so hard for a new Fairness Doctrine" and skipped to comments to see if you supported the plural and verbs above.

For why people might think the Fairness Doctrine, and FCC regulation in general, are good things, see this article. I'm not sure if Lemann is correct in his conclusions and even if he is I'm not sure it makes sense anymore. But it's worth reading, at any rate.

"And I hope everyone will forgive my impertinence in writing what I wanted to write about, which apparently involves nothing but right-wing tropes."

I think you should write about what you want to write about it, but I do hope you'll respond to my query, and support your assertion that "the fact it is the Democrats who are pushing so hard for a new Fairness Doctrine."

Where's the evidence for this "pushing so hard"? If this is a serious issue, a likely issue, where's the evidence for that, beyond a single extremely fringe Congressional representative (who, needless to say, by himself supports no such claim)?

And I'll go so far as making any sort of reasonable non-monetarily-based bet that the 110th Congress won't pass any law mandating a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, by the way. I'll write three posts on my blog on subjects of your choosing if I lose, or something like that.

It's not that you can't write about what you want to write about. It's that in this topic, you follow what I think is the typical way that memes in general and RW memes in particular are propagated. I would also note that rather than defend what you have written, you choose to attack the messenger. If you have some information that contradicts my supposition, it would be nice to have that, but I've been googling, and I don't see anything that supports the notion of a Fairness Doctrine comeback except a throwaway line in a news story. Absent such information, this seems to be demonization pure and simple, but if it is what you want to write about, it's certainly your choice.

Please delete that previous comment and substute Rilkefan's and append my apology for the temperature raising.

I am interested in Congress's reconsidering its media deregulation, and I doubt I'm entirely alone, even though I may be out in left field with Dennis Kucinich and John Thullen.

The Fairness Doctrine was an attempt to mitigate some of the harm of government media regulation. I doubt those of us interested in reconsidering deregulation are actively excited about the Fairness Doctrine. I know I'm not. "On the one hand, on the other hand" ideological dialogue is overly constricting and just plain dumb, for all the reasons you list.

However, the lack of regulation has had other harmful effects. Local news is pre-packaged, with no news staff available to cover important breaking stories. Local political coverage is getting shallower, when it's covered at all. And most of the national media are engaged in a race for the bottom line, all the time. I don't see the public interest being served here, either.

I don't know that there's an easy solution: the government can't be trusted to pick standards for media, but throwing up one's hands and trusting the invisible hand seems to result in only bad standards with no blameable authors.

But I would like issues like media ownership and fairness to be sufficiently respectable to be debated openly. (Go Kucinich!)

I have no current opinion on the Fairness Doctrine, nor whether anyone is trying to resurrect it.

But I can't get my brain around the statement in Andrew's post, repeated in Charles' post at Red State that "A new Fairness Doctrine may eliminate conservative talk radio."

How? Do you mean folks will stop listening because other points of view are included, and the radio stations will then drop the unprofitable shows.

I would think it would double the audience.

Plus, the shows could hire Jerry Springer's bouncers and really raise the ratings.

Grudge matches! Tag-team matches! Think of it.

What do you consider to be important public issues? Education, immigration, national defense, Medicare, taxes?

When's the last time a commercial media outlet devoted an hour, or even a half-hour, to in-depth coverage and analysis of those issues?

When's the last time one of those vital issues got anything more than a couple of minutes at the end of a newcast, with maybe one quote from one viewpoint, another from another viewpoint, and absolutely no background or context in which to weigh those viewpoints?

Do people need good information to make decisions about vital issues? Or should we just trust whoever makes a nice speech about them once in a while to do so?

Are the public airwaves there for the benefit of politicians? corporations? Or are they ours?

If reviving the Fairness Doctrine brings back the kinds of special programming Gary mentions, that would actually be a very good thing. I quite fondly remember those specials, the "White Paper" reports, the America In Depth, the roundtables of people knowledgable in the issues actually having substantive discussions of them. There is nothing like that now: not in the newscasts, not in the talk shows - nowhere, nothing.

Ours is a staggeringly ill-informed and ignorant country. The airwaves are a public trust - it's right there in their charter - and between corporate consolidation and turning the news division into just another profit center, they've become so far from a public trust, a public service, that they're a huge part of the reason for the ignorance and ill-informedness.

If the Fairness Doctrine can change that, I'm all for it.

"If reviving the Fairness Doctrine brings back the kinds of special programming Gary mentions, that would actually be a very good thing. I quite fondly remember those specials, the "White Paper" reports, the America In Depth, the roundtables of people knowledgable in the issues actually having substantive discussions of them. There is nothing like that now: not in the newscasts, not in the talk shows - nowhere, nothing."

Ok, but let's not turn into France.

Every country gets the media it deserves. The US gets Fox news, HBO and America's Most Wanted, France gets Le Compte est bon, Canal Plus hardcore porn and Bernard Levy.

"If reviving the Fairness Doctrine brings back the kinds of special programming Gary mentions, that would actually be a very good thing."

How would it do that?

And let me add: "Ours is a staggeringly ill-informed and ignorant country."

This is not, for the most part, as a result of information not being available to most people who aren't interested.

It's harder, to be sure, if you're scrabbling for existence, but it's still possible if you have any time at all (and if you don't, 24-hour-a-day broadcasts won't do you any good).

The primary problem with an oft-ill-informed public is that the public isn't as fascinated with following the details of government, and politics, and history, as it is what Brad and Angelina, and Kevein Federline, and sports and entertainment figures, along with the celebrities-for-being-celebrities, are up to, as well as in plain entertainment.

If loads of people wanted to watch Frontline-type documentaries, and Now (on PBS), and Face The Nation, and so on, their ratings would go way up, and the networks would supply more of them, just like they frantically imitate anything that is a ratings success.

Meanwhile, if you have cable, you have C-Span, among other resources. And internet access isn't exactly hard to get these days.

I'm a center fielder.

As usual, Jackmormon susses to the deeper issues here.

The broadcast media is pretty much crap, at high volume. So much technology, so little substance. Local news is a guy standing outside the studio with snowflakes around him gushing about the effing doppler radar. And, now, over to Natalie who is interviewing a local prostitute. Tune in to our website for her cell phone number and day rates, you pervs.

But then I think everyone should be forced to sit and watch a person read "Madame Bovary" out loud on at least seven cable channels simultaneously.

Also, just once on the Food Channel, I would like to see someone taste one of Emeril's Lagasse's dishes* after three or four showbiz BAMS of cayenne pepper and spit the food out across the room, rip the fire extinquisher from the wall, and spray the foam into his or her mouth and sputter, "That's the worst thing I've ever tasted."

But, whether it is political opinions or product you're selling in America, honesty, fairness, and balance are considered, what, impolite?

Just let me tell my lies. You can read Consumer's Report later.

*Hey, I've made many Lagasse dishes at home and most are delicious! But surely?

I feel obligated to put in yet another plug for Milt Rosenberg's great show.

and Roe Conn's stupid show.

We are blessed, here in Chicago, with lots of good radio. Back in the day, Don Vogel was really funny, and the live hand-off from Vogel to Morton Downey Jr. was a highlight.

Yeah, I include the syndicated stuff as part of good radio as well. Many of the NPR shows are syndicated feeds, by the way. That's just the way it is. Has been since Art Linkletter as far as I know.

JackMormon,
Milt is talking to Erik Kleinenberg RIGHT NOW! and you can hear it on teh Interweb Tubes id you click on the link!

I dislike government attempts to control what people see/read/hear. I see the Fairness Doctrine as a means of doing just that. Yes, I wrote this essay today because the issue happened to be circulating about the blogosphere. That tends to be how I blog; I see something, it inspires me to write. Clearly I could have been more precise and done more research, as 'the Democrats' is actually 'Democrats' and I'll stipulate that even Kucinich may not be pushing the issue particularly hard, although I don't really care about the latter because I think it is a bad idea.

In any case, it is clear that I should not have posted this. I've got too much else going on in my life to put in the kind of time necessary to post anything here that will be of value. Nonetheless, I do hope that some good can come of it through some more interesting commentary here discussing:

a) how will fairness be enforced under this new doctrine?

b) how will this new doctrine cause Americans to become better-informed as opposed to changing the channel to the latest 'news' on Brangelina, which based on sales appears to be of far greater interest to the average American than any hard news short of major terrorist attacks?

Bonne chance.

Good luck, Andrew. Yes, you do have a lot of stuff going on, and I understand. I can't even come up with semi-non-pathetic comments. Hope you get together with Thullen. Play some cards with him and take his money.

"In any case, it is clear that I should not have posted this."

Allow me to disagree - with the very slight tweak of it saying "Kucinich suggests x, here's why it's a really bad idea", no one could have reasonably objected, and the topic is worth batting around.

well-written obviously, but i would quibble with the idea that "democrats" are pushing for the fairness doctine (which is the same thing CQ says). kucinich is the representative of nothing, nationally speaking.

one other point on why the fairness doctrine should stay dead -- it's not just that we have "more" spectrum now. it's that we have cable and internets. back in the heyday of scarcity, the broadcasters were the only shows in town. with the rise of alternative media outlets, there's no real justification for this. and, frankly, the same argument applies to FCC content/indecency regulation

Are we really afraid of corporations and the way they might control the media?

I would propose that between the AP, UPI and Reuters we already have that situation and manage to get out different views without government regulation.

I can't help but think if this was the Republican Congress pushing this agenda it would be front page news.

I have recently come to the conclusion that the country might be better informed if we everyone ignored the MSM entirely. The MSM's main job is to make money.

I just recently got into a discussion with someone who I know refer to as a "Headline Thinker". I actually had to cut out the article for them and get them to read the whole thing so they could see how the headline didn't actually support what was in the article.

lj,

"it seems that something about 'fairness' has to enter the debate, and that debate is ill served by the kind of mind reading that is going on here."

Glad you have finally come around to this point of view about mind reading. Do try to remember that you can apply that logic to Republicans as well as Democrats.

I'm glad that so many are trying to be so much more reasonable now that the Democrats have won Congress.

"In any case, it is clear I should not have posted this."

Not to me.

Especially since DaveC. was roused from his lair. ;)

I come up with semi-pathetic comments all the time. What's your problem, Dave?

how will this new doctrine cause Americans to become better-informed as opposed to changing the channel to the latest 'news' on Brangelina...

... because Brangelina's publicist(s) will have equal time to refute the rumors and scandals about them, and everyone will be so bored by the flacks that the networks will never mentioned them again.

kucinich is the representative of nothing, nationally speaking.

Au contraire, his views are "shared by many of his liberal and socialist friends", including George Soros, and the anti-democratic Democrats love to muzzle free speech.

Bril:

"I have recently come to the conclusion that we everyone would be better informed if we ignored the MSM entirely. The MSM's main job is to make money."

That's interesting.

Mark Fowler, Ronald Reagan's appointee as head of the FCC and the guy who got rid of the Fairness Doctrine back in the 1980s, once justified the move by saying, roughly, (I found the quote earlier today on Wikipedia, but can't locate it now) that the media should not be saddled with onerous obligations to the public interest. It was their job to run a business and make money, period.

Here we are.

I am ambivalent about the Fairness Doctrine, though I am tempted to favor it only for radio. (TV: a whole lot of people have cable; thus many channels.) I would not be so much as tempted if I felt that, by and large, conservatives on talk radio took care to get their facts right. What worries me is the possibility of people absorbing a lot of background assumptions about "the facts" that are just flatly false, and never being corrected.

There was, in fact, talk radio of the Limbaugh variety before the fairness doctrine was repealed. I don't say this to provide evidence for anyone's point of view -- I think it helps support several in different ways, but:

I used to listen to talk radio back in 1985-6, while embroidering and cleaning house. I was, as usual, worried about there being a whole chunk of the country (or, in this case, Boston) that I never encountered at all.

There were three (3) main talk radio programs back then. One was a conservative, whom I found utterly forgettable. One was a liberal, who for some reason best known to himself decided to focus all his energy (and I do mean 'all' pretty literally) on repealing the threat to human freedom that was the seatbelt law. Tiresome after a while. (Actually, after about a nanosecond. There are not all that many things you can say about the seatbelt law.)

Then there was my favorite: a cantankerous libertarian, I suspect largely self-taught, a bit too taken with his own orotundity (plus big words!), but somehow endearing anyways. He used to begin every broadcast by saying: This is the Gene Burns show, brought to you by: the First Amendment to the United States Constitution!

So there was the fairness doctrine, resulting in one straight conservative, one conservative libertarian, and one alleged "liberal" who had chosen to focus entirely on a conservative/libertarian issue. Some broad spectrum of views.

Still, there was more diversity of views, and (more important, to me) of underlying conceptions of the world, than there is on talk radio today, if the stations I pick up in Baltimore are anything to go by.

Also, Andrew: I third/fourth/nth 'it was absolutely worth writing.'

I again wholeheartedly agree with rf. The topic deserves to be talked about and it was one of those 'not what you said, but the way you said it, sort of things. My apologies for being too sharp in my comments, especially for not thinking about what is going on in your life right now.

(OT: light posting tomorrow and the day after: I am in Florida, though nowhere near Slarti, and internet access might best be described as erratic and unpredictable.)

"I can't help but think if this was the Republican Congress pushing this agenda it would be front page news."

Just as it would be news if it were the Democratic Congress pushing this agenda.

"The MSM's main job is to make money."

What are you, a commie?

I'm in the let's-not-go-overboard-over-this mindset. Here's a great deal of what you need to know about Dennis Kucinich:

The Space Preservation Treaty (SPT) is a proposed international treaty to ban space weapons. The Treaty will establish a peacekeeping agency that will monitor outer space and enforce the ban on space-based weapons. Its companion, the Space Preservation Act, was introduced for the fourth time to the United States House of Representatives by Congressman Dennis Kucinich on May 18, 2005.
Kucinich is a current member of The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States (IATSE), an AFL-CIO affiliated union.

Let's wait until someone serious speaks out on this issue, shall we?

I am in Florida, though nowhere near Slarti, and internet access might best be described as erratic and unpredictable

Enjoy the heat while you can; I hear it's going to dip all the way down into the upper 60's tomorrow.

"This is not, for the most part, as a result of information not being available to most people who aren't interested."

It's not available on TV, much. There's the odd exception of course, but I think less stupidity could actually be a competitive advantage for a cable market...

I don't know. I think news coverage is up there with the environment and health care as far as how well the market serves the public interest....fortunately, there are some people motivated to serve the public interest for its own sake for not much money (and I mean everything from blogs to NPR to the Christian Science Monitor to the giant dailies who are going for quality at least as much as bottom line). But not many, not enough. The thing is, though, there are large problems with gov't regulation that are unique to news--First Amendment concerns etc.

I dislike government attempts to control what people see/read/hear. I see the Fairness Doctrine as a means of doing just that.

The licensing of broadcast spectrum is already a means of controlling what people see and hear. I realize this isn't lost on you, but the above statement is, in my view, incomplete without explicitly acknowledging this. The "Fairness Doctrine" doesn't apply to circumstances under which the government isn't already determining to some extent who gets to speak. Assuming the licensing of spectrum is a good thing (and I'll stipulate that it is) then I think it is critical that there be safeguards against government abuse of the power to grant or withhold those licenses. I see the Fairness Doctrine as just such a safeguard. Maybe not a perfect one, but then I don't know what a perfect safeguard would look like, absent the abolition of the FCC.

I also find myself scratching my head when folks offer the internet as evidence that the Fairness Doctrine does more harm than good. It's true that today it is much easier for a person to get his point of view out to a broad audience over the internet than it would be over the airwaves, not simply because of the relative lack of scarcity of bandwidth on the internet, but because the cost of entry is orders of magnitude less. But, conversely, it is still a lot easier to access information on the airwaves than on the internet. A radio costs only a few dollars these days, compared with hundreds or thousands for a computer and internet access (and the public libraries aren't equipped to sustain a mass audience for internet media on the scale of the broadcast audience). What's more, it seems that to the extent that other forms of media diminish the need for the Fairness Doctrine, they would also diminish the harm it supposedly causes in similar proportion. If new media is taking over, then doesn't that mean that aerial broadcast is fading into obsolescence?

Just what should we, as citizens, get in exchange for the licensing of our electromagnetic spectrum to for-profit corporations, anyway?

On bril, I refer everyone to Slart's comment here.

While the first part of the bril's comment suggests progress, the last bit suggests atavism. Here's hoping for the best.

Slarti: good news. I did something totally predictable and totally stupid: since it's mid-January, I packed for "pretty darn warm for January, even in a warm part of the country" (long-sleeved shirts, jacket I don't expect to use), not "normal, though unusually humid, for August" (T-shirts).

Ha ha ha.

Still, the fog rolling in over the (green and dark blue) ocean this afternoon was pretty nifty.

My last comment referred to Slarti saying that it would be cooler tomorrow in Florida.

Democrats are tagged with it for the same reason they are tagged with repressing any speech they don't like: it is the left that supports hate crime legislation, the left that uses physical violence to prevent speech on campuses, and it is the left that uses violence in public demonstrations to attack the speech of others.

Maybe that is all the fringe, but it is from one side of the political spectrum, so it is not hard to democrats withn the same brush.

it is the left that supports hate crime legislation

On our world, Orrin Hatch and Gordon Smith are Republicans.

In my world, your article indicated that suppressing speech was widely supported by democrats, but needed a few republicans to pass. Could you not find links to the conservative student unions that shut down public speech?

"A radio costs only a few dollars these days, compared with hundreds or thousands for a computer and internet access (and the public libraries aren't equipped to sustain a mass audience for internet media on the scale of the broadcast audience)."

You can buy a used P1 that will get you on the internet for $5; you can even stream some video with it. You'll have to either rely on free dialup that's not all that reliable, or with getting online on and off with free AOL offers, or pay $9.95/month for dialup, but you certainly don't need to spend hundreds, or thousands, of dollars, to do it.

If you want to upgrade, you can spend $10 for a used P2. Assuming you can't find someone giving one away for free.

It's 9 degrees Fahrenheit here, by the way, which is warm compared to the -8 below it hit the other night (let's not get into wind-chill, or the fact that I've not seen snow-free ground in 7 weeks or so -- did I say "snow-free"?; I mean "less than a foot of snow on the ground").

Slart: "Let's wait until someone serious speaks out on the issue, shall we?"

Kucinich should take his act to AM radio.

That's why we suspended the Fairness Doctrine. To provide a refuge where the unserious who know nothing can speak their mind unmolested by other points of view. And get promoted to the big cable networks. And run for office and get elected so they can represent all of the uninformed, unserious people, my peers, who are sick and tired of elitist, over-educated know-it-alls who hog all the airwaves and elective offices.

It is pretty funny imagining someone monitoring all of outer space. The Bush Administration would sabotage any such effort by funding only one guy in bermuda shorts sitting in a lawn chair in his back yard with a pair of cracker jack binoculars.

Then they would secretly order him to keep an eye on Dennis Kucinich instead.

But I'm all for a ban on weapons in outer space. Well, maybe we should have a Fairness Doctrine for outer space. Every country gets one weapon in orbit.

Man, it's only Tuesday. Enough of me already.

See y'all next week.

;)

jrudkis: "In my world, your article indicated that suppressing speech was widely supported by democrats, but needed a few republicans to pass."

Who was this in response to? Where's this article? (It's also a good idea to capitalize when referring to the parties, unless you want people to think you aren't referring to them, but rather to the common nouns.)

"Democrats are tagged with it for the same reason they are tagged with repressing any speech they don't like: it is the left that supports hate crime legislation, the left that uses physical violence to prevent speech on campuses, and it is the left that uses violence in public demonstrations to attack the speech of others."

It's not all that useful to refer to "the left" or "the right" without reasonably carefully delineating who you are and are not including in such a completely vague and broad term. Which is pretty much the premise of this blog. When Moe Lane was around, he'd tend to threaten banning for people who generalized and lumped that way. (Note that this is a completely non-partisan point.)

"But I'm all for a ban on weapons in outer space."

You just want us to be helpless when They invade; your insidious agenda is revealed! (Illustration: John Thullen at home.)

Also, just wait until a big enough asteroid is detected heading our way, and we'll hear your whimpering for oodles of the largest possible H-bombs soon enough, young man!

That was in response to lj. Sorry for the lack of caps but the only internet I have at the moment is a blackberry, and it does not support easy changes like that.

There are limited ways to broadcast emotion-laden political messages to a receptive passive mass audience - radio and TV are still the best means to do so, and it is very expensive to do so. In practice, it means the rich lecture the poor, which severely stunts the universe of political speech. A proper fairness doctrine would subsidize well-considered messages of deserving poor pundits. Imagine how much more-effective Obsidian Wings would be it had two minutes on Fox News three nights a week.

John T: True story: back in the days of the Boston talk radio campaign against seat belt laws, there was also a bill that was -- well, actually, I can't remember what exactly it would have done, but the point of it was: it was about abortion, it would have dramatically restricted abortion rights, and -- the fun part -- it had been deliberately written so as to confuse people about which vote -- yes or no -- was pro-abortion rights and which was anti-abortion rights (and if anyone doesn't like this phrasing, tough: Ispent ages trying to think of something accurate).

Anyways: I got mad at this, and ended up standing outside the polls in one of the most conservative Catholic parts of Boston (Charlestown, if anyone is from there), telling everyone which vote was which. And there was the most amazing number of people who said: hey, I hate abortion, I think it's completely immoral, but I've gotten really upset about this seatbelt thing, and I figure if the government has no right to tell me I have to use a seatbelt, it has no right to tell you you can't have an abortion.

And I was thinking: gosh, what a pity NARAL never thought of using animus against seatbelt laws as a sneaky way of softening people up....

In my world, your article indicated that suppressing speech was widely supported by democrats, but needed a few republicans to pass

And so the Dems trickly enlisted Gordon Smith to sponsor the bill. Dang, they are good.

On my world, 'card carrying member of the ACLU' is an insult directed at Dems. How do they do it over there?

My condolences on the blackberry bottleneck, but I would observe that you aren't actually going to cause much reflection in the commentariat to these questions if your comments are limited in such a way. I've read ObWi on my keitai, but I would never think to respond using the touchtone keypad.

Whenever the subject of the Fairness Doctrine comes up at Daily Kos, it gets lots and lots of support, oftimes from people who want to stamp out the insidious propaganda outlet we call Fox News. If there's no real support among elected Democrats for resurrecting the doctrine, so be it, but I do think that if something was eliminated by Reagan it's fair to note that Democrats would be the most likely folks to bring it back.

Personally, if we're going to undo clueless acts by Reagan, I'd put the solar panels back on the White House. I have no idea why so many of my fellow liberals are enamored of the Fairness Doctrine.

You'd think anyone who has endured 6 years of the Bush Administration would understand the downside of letting bureaucrats decide what's "fair" enough to get on the airwaves. Look at what they tried to do to PBS, for God's sake.

If liberals really want to strike a blow for good, they can work to oppose media consolidation, which is the real enemy of viewpoint diversity. Yes, even if we have 100 stations, they'll probably all be vaguely pro-corporate in some fashion, but that's unavoidable. Back when everyone got their news from the newspaper, all the news sources were probably in favor of keeping the price of ink low. That's a degree of bias we can live with.

Gary:

You will recognize me when we meet by my prominent thinking organ.

How come aliens always look like a guy in an iguana suit?

I'll go along with weapons in outer space pointed outward. In fact, now that you mention asteroids, I think I'll stay awake tonight worrying about it.

What if you (not you, Gary, you have enough problems) were the guy the asteroid hit first, you know, the very nearest point of it touching your forehead before slamming into the Earth's crust and destroying all life as we know it? What would your expression be?

Anyway, if an asteroid was reported by the MSM to be headed our way, I'd tune in to AM radio and have Bush Administration apologists tell me no such thing could happen and that government action funded by hard-earned taxpayer dollars to thwart such an event was not warranted by the latest available sciSPLAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gary Farber: You can buy a used P1 that will get you on the internet for $5; you can even stream some video with it.

Yeah, and I could buy a working radio for $.50 at the local goodwill or at a yard sale. I can also buy a used car for $500. I guess that means cars don't really actually cost thousands of dollars in the mass market.

My home town (Richmond, Virginia) has a very nice low-power FM (LPFM) station. I think (but could be wrong) that some of the folks who helped start it knew people who used to do low-power pirate radio broadcasts (out of a combination of anarchist principle and because it was cool technically).

The station has a few lefty talk shows in the morning, and during the day some NPRtalk shows that the local NPR station doesn't want and a few local talk shows. Night and evening they play a greater range of music than all the other stations in town combined.

Apparently there aren't many such stations -- new low power licensing stopped in 1979 due to pressure from NPR and the National Association of Broadcasters, then started up again in such a way that most of the licenses were given to NPR and religious broadcasters running "translators" which simply repeat the transmission of another station, possibly one across the country. So the airwaves are kind of sewn up. (I'm not an expert in this, and may very well have the details wrong.)

At any rate, WRIR is one data point indicating that people might be willing to listen to non-Clear Channel radio, if it were available; and that people might be willing to provide it, if they didn't need to worry about being arrested for doing so.

I'd gladly trade away the Fairness Doctrine in exchange for the right of people to start low-power FM stations with reasonable ease; but I notice we don't have either one.

"How come aliens always look like a guy in an iguana suit?"

Is that a suit made of iguanas? Or made for iguanas? Or made of iguana skin?

Quickly? How long Has that been an issue, and theb they got a cosponsor?

The blackberry is limiting, but I will be here for some months, so I guess ukist have to get better at it.

Hate crimes laws are not hate speech laws. They are sentence enhancements based on especially reprehensible motives--motives which make crimes more destructive and more dangerous to society. It is very common for motive to be a factor in a criminal's sentence. In many states, committing a murder for "pecuniary gain" raises the maximum sentence from life in prison to death. Please explain why that is okay but a sentence enhancement for murdering someone based on racial hatred is an abridgment on free speech--or, be quiet about hate crimes laws.

Whenever the subject of the Fairness Doctrine comes up at Daily Kos, it gets lots and lots of support

First thing I thought, reading this, was: Doc, it hurts when I do this.

Rilkefan:

It's a imitation alligator suit made by an iguana tailor in Hong Kong. It fell off the truck, down at the docks. I can get it for you cheap. Talk to Vinnie.

Hilzoy:

I'm personally against abortion and I believe driver's licenses should be issued at conception. It seems to me that blastocytes should be issued tiny seatbelts and airbags and should be in by midnight.

jrudkis: the lack of caps is fine. The confusion between hate crimes laws (which don't have any obvious relevance to the Fairness Doctrine) and hate speech laws (which do, but haven't, as far as I know, been proposed by Democrats -- well, ever, federally, although I imagine there's someone in some municipality somewhere who will turn out to have done so.

But it is sort of a tradition here not to refer to "the left" and "the right" uncritically, or to use "Democrats" and "Republicans" when you mean, say, "the Democratic Congressional leadership", or "Republican opinion-makers." I got in trouble for it, back when I had just started commenting here. I can't remember whether Moe actually threatened to ban me, but he was very mad.

At the time, I thought that was kind of silly: the Abu Ghraib photos had just come out, and I said something like: the Republicans have brought shame on our country, and Moe said: well, I'm a Republican, have I brought shame on the country? I apologized, but thought: it was pretty clear what I meant, after all.

But I decided, over time, that he was right and I was wrong. At any rate, since we're trying to maintain actual arguments between liberals and conservatives, it helps to be quite specific about who you're talking about. Personally, I also find that it makes me think more clearly, but that might just be me.

In any case, welcome.

"an" imitation suit.

Where's that asteroid when I need it.

That's why we suspended the Fairness Doctrine. To provide a refuge where the unserious who know nothing can speak their mind unmolested by other points of view.

I don't even know where to begin with this, John, but you at should least sympathize with unserious know nothings (like Andrew in this case :) that get molested over and over again.

It builds character.

Or at least humps, like Marty Feldman's. Couldn't find appropriate Thullen look-alike photo.

hilzoy: I am ambivalent about the Fairness Doctrine, though I am tempted to favor it only for radio.

This surprises me. Why just talk radio? Stormfront and whatever the KKK is calling itself these days probably have websites up. Would you support the government shutting those sites down? Hosted in the US? What if it was hosted in an allied nation? Who would decide?

Andrew's right - as nice as the fairness doctrine could be it would be impossible to enforce.

"That was in response to lj. Sorry for the lack of caps but the only internet I have at the moment is a blackberry, and it does not support easy changes like that."

Okey-doke, but where's the article that says that "suppressing speech was widely supported by democrats, but needed a few republicans to pass"? This 2003 article a couple of times quotes people saying vague things like this:

Opposition remains strong among some Republicans, though several of those who have been the staunchest opponents in the past declined to speak on the record about the measure drawn up by Mr. Hatch and Mr. Kennedy.
They are concerned that the bill would violate free-speech rights and give the Department of Justice free rein to step over local authorities to prosecute many types of violent crimes. Many worry that the expansion of federal authority could include crimes such as any rape, which is usually targeted at women.
"It actually punishes someone for what he thinks," said one Senate staffer whose boss opposes any form of the legislation. "That's pretty scary."
But it offers no actual information on the bill that in any way supports this. It's just some anonymous quotes, which is completely uninformative. What were the actual provisions of this bill? I assume you know, since you're speaking up about it.

It goes on:

[...] Conservatives also dislike a provision in the bill that defines "hate crimes" to include any violent crime "motivated by prejudice based on ... gender, sexual orientation or disability of the victim."
"With this bill, the federal government officially condones [the homosexual] lifestyle," said another Senate staffer.
Oh, boo effing hoo.

Thullen: "What if you (not you, Gary, you have enough problems) were the guy the asteroid hit first, you know, the very nearest point of it touching your forehead before slamming into the Earth's crust and destroying all life as we know it? What would your expression be?"

I'll answer anyway: a bit like this.

Gromit: "Yeah, and I could buy a working radio for $.50 at the local goodwill or at a yard sale. I can also buy a used car for $500. I guess that means cars don't really actually cost thousands of dollars in the mass market."

I'm afraid I'm not following. You asserted that "it is still a lot easier to access information on the airwaves than on the internet," because "[a] radio costs only a few dollars these days, compared with hundreds or thousands for a computer and internet access."

But a computer to get get you on the internet, without frills, can be easily had for $5. The relevance of the fact that more expensive computers cost more, or anything about cars, escapes me, I'm afraid.

Yarrow: "I'd gladly trade away the Fairness Doctrine in exchange for the right of people to start low-power FM stations with reasonable ease; but I notice we don't have either one."

It's getting late, or I'd look up pointers to give on the wrongheaded decisions of the FCC about low-power community FM in recent years.

Fledermaus:

This surprises me. Why just talk radio? Stormfront and whatever the KKK is calling itself these days probably have websites up. Would you support the government shutting those sites down? Hosted in the US? What if it was hosted in an allied nation? Who would decide?

Andrew's right - as nice as the fairness doctrine could be it would be impossible to enforce.

What on Earth are you talking about? Who has proposed a "fairness doctrine" for the internet? WTF?

Katherine,

Hate crime laws make sense to me when there is disparate impact, such as the difference between vandalizing a car with "can halen" vs "get out jews". The dollar impact on the victim is the same, but the victim impact is vastly different.

I don't think that holds true with violent crime. Being murdered sucks the same regardless of why.

Hilzoy,

I will do my best in the future to be more discerning in my characterization. Thanks for the welcome, I will yet to be a good guest. Yet should be "try". Damn blackberry does not allow easy editing.

Why just talk radio?

I'd suspect the answer would address the limited range of available public radio frequency and perhaps the importance of radio in public emergency situations.

Digital media have a great ability to support many, many different viewpoints without infrastructural strain, but when the power goes out, my first priority is to power up AM radio to find out what the hell is going on in my area. I am fortunate enough to live in a city with its own radio news staff; a lot of people aren't.

I thought I took the rest of the week off.

But they keep dragging me back in.

Dave, Andrew is much smarter than I am. In fact, if Andrew could replace all of the hosts on AM radio, the public's interest would be served. You're not giving me full credit for my half-pathetic comment.

You have a hump, too? Mine itches and I can't reach it. But it's a good place for my parrot to perch.

Randomly, interesting analysis of the Israel-Syria talks report.

Jrudkis--I agree that the difference to the victim is worse with things like vandalism, but:

1) I think that being beat up for being black or gay or Jewish or Muslim is more harmful to an individual than being up because you get into a fight over a girl at bar.

2) In the extreme case, murder is so awful that it's harder to distinguish based on motive--the victim is equally dead. And sadistic murders like James Byrd's or Matthew Shepard's could be dealt with by sentence enhancements for that specifically. Nevertheless, we do consider motive for death penalty sentences. And I'd argue that racial/anti-gay/sectarian/etc. murders are more harmful to society than other murders--if it reaches a certain point it can either lead to a cycle of reprisals, or to one group being consistently victimized for a characteristic it can't control. Lynchings didn't only harm the person who was hanged.

I've had some experience in asylum law, where examples of this abound.

Of course, in practice I think life in prison should be the max. sentence for murder whether there's a racial element or not....

Anyway, you can see why I consider hate crimes as different from hate speech. On hate speech & incitement, I think they got it exactly right in Brandenburg v. Ohio.

Slarti, there's nothing unserious about a treaty to ban space-based weapons. As usual, your mockery can be read in two ways:

Kucinich is unserious because he's proposing a treaty to ban something no one is seriously pushing? Or Kucinich is unserious because Real Men know we must have space-based weapons to bend the rest of the world to our will?

Either way, I'm with Kucinich.

Air America is reason enough that the so-called Fairness Doctrine should never see the light of day. There are no barriers of entry for liberal viewpoints on talk radio. If they bring in enough advertising dollars, they're in. BTW, I can't stand the likes of Michael Savage and can barely stomach Hannity. Also, I just looked into the revolting Michael Rivero, paleo conspiracy theorist extraordinaire and, as repulsive as his views are, the federal government should have no business censoring him unless he is inciting violence.

Will you concede that NPR isn't liberal radio then? I applied for a job there a couple of months ago, and there appears to be *some* sort of barrier for entry.

Nell: "Slarti, there's nothing unserious about a treaty to ban space-based weapons. As usual, your mockery can be read in two ways"

Or more. A third way, for instance might be that he was mocking only this part: "a peacekeeping agency that will monitor outer space," as in all of "outer space," rather than just Earth orbit, or where human spacecraft are sent.

I'm not saying this is particularly hilarious, but I can understand the intent if that were it.

On the other hand, as is often the case, I really don't know what Slarti had in mind, though maybe he'll tell us now. It's actually a mystery to me why membership in IATSE is funny or not serious. But I wouldn't assume your interpretation was correct without asking, myself.

Charles,
nice to see you. Just to double check, you are simply arguing that because Air America has access to the nation's airwaves, the Fairness Doctrine shouldn't be used, correct? You aren't claiming that AA is the equivalent of Savage, Hannity and Rivero, right?

If FD were simply balancing the amount of liberal versus conservative whatever that gets out, I could see your point, but I thought that FD was also concerned with reducing personal attacks and forestalling political endorsements. From Wikipedia

Two corollary rules of the Doctrine, the "personal attack" rule and the "political editorial" rule, remained in practice until 2000. The "personal attack" rule was pertinent whenever a person or small group was subject to a character attack during a broadcast. Stations had to notify such persons or groups within a week of the attack, send them transcripts of what was said, and offer the opportunity to respond on the air. The "political editorial" rule applied when a station broadcasts editorials endorsing or opposing candidates for public office, and stipulated that the candidates not endorsed be notified and allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond.

How does the presence of AA invalidate these points or do you consider them to be separate from FD?

"In many states, committing a murder for "pecuniary gain" raises the maximum sentence from life in prison to death. Please explain why that is okay but a sentence enhancement for murdering someone based on racial hatred is an abridgment on free speech"

I think certain mental states are harder to adequately prove compared to other mental states. The mental state reached for by hate crimes legislation is of the slippery type that I'm not thrilled about subjecting to prosecutorial discretion.

I dislike government attempts to control what people see/read/hear. I see the Fairness Doctrine as a means of doing just that.

How unfair it would be if a radio station that wanted to make sure that people only ever heard far right-wing opinions and far right-wing hate speech on its airwaves, was forced by the government to include programs/opinions from all parts of the political spectrum. Because that would mean that the government was overriding the radio station's right to control what people in that location could hear.

Andrew, why is it okay with you for major corporations to control what people read/see/hear, but not okay for the government to force corporations to let all American political opinions be broadcast - which appears to be the principle of the Fairness Doctrine?

I think certain mental states are harder to adequately prove compared to other mental states. The mental state reached for by hate crimes legislation is of the slippery type that I'm not thrilled about subjecting to prosecutorial discretion.

Sebastian, why don't you exercise the ObWing Fairness Doctrine and do a post on hate crime? I don't particularly want to derail this thread.

The situation in Japan is rather interesting, in that a fairness doctrine is exercised rather severely in regard to elections. There is an 'official campaigning period' of 5 days. During those five days, campaign events can only be held thru sound trucks or at events where the candidate him/herself appears, but it has to be within a set distance from the sound truck. The election administration provides a set number of armbands to limit the number of campaign workers and campaigns have a fixed cash ceiling. All other forms of advertising are not permitted and if someone does try it, they could be disqualified and if they do something that is supposed to be done during the campaign period, they could be disqualified when they go to announce their candidacy (set at a point rather close to the election). Japanese election law is still wrestling with the ideas of webpages, though the last campaign that I was involved with, one one was willing to test the waters and set up a webpage. Campaign posters must be affixed to special hoardings, and candidates get the quadrant they are assigned to affix their posters by lottery. The election laws are contained in a thick book that dictates everything imaginable.

There's two ways to take this, one, that this is an unimaginable intrusion on the ability to campaign or two, that Japan is still a nominal democracy, so is a little fairness going to kill you? I'm not sure what side I am on (the fairness laws seem to be deployed in a way that makes it very difficult to challenge incumbents, but I am pretty disgusted when I read about how much money candidates have to raise) so take the information for what you paid for it...

To answer the questions about Kucinich's seriosity:

SEC. 7. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:

(1) The term `space' means all space extending upward from an altitude greater than 60 kilometers above the surface of the earth and any celestial body in such space.

(2)(A) The terms `weapon' and `weapons system' mean a device capable of any of the following:

(i) Damaging or destroying an object (whether in outer space, in the atmosphere, or on earth) by--

(I) firing one or more projectiles to collide with that object;

(II) detonating one or more explosive devices in close proximity to that object;

(III) directing a source of energy (including molecular or atomic energy, subatomic particle beams, electromagnetic radiation, plasma, or extremely low frequency (ELF) or ultra low frequency (ULF) energy radiation) against that object; or

(IV) any other unacknowledged or as yet undeveloped means.

(ii) Inflicting death or injury on, or damaging or destroying, a person (or the biological life, bodily health, mental health, or physical and economic well-being of a person)--

(I) through the use of any of the means described in clause (i) or subparagraph (B);

(II) through the use of land-based, sea-based, or space-based systems using radiation, electromagnetic, psychotronic, sonic, laser, or other energies directed at individual persons or targeted populations for the purpose of information war, mood management, or mind control of such persons or populations; or

(III) by expelling chemical or biological agents in the vicinity of a person.

(B) Such terms include exotic weapons systems such as--

(i) electronic, psychotronic, or information weapons;

(ii) chemtrails;

(iii) high altitude ultra low frequency weapons systems;

(iv) plasma, electromagnetic, sonic, or ultrasonic weapons;

(v) laser weapons systems;

(vi) strategic, theater, tactical, or extraterrestrial weapons; and

(vii) chemical, biological, environmental, climate, or tectonic weapons.

(C) The term `exotic weapons systems' includes weapons designed to damage space or natural ecosystems (such as the ionosphere and upper atmosphere) or climate, weather, and tectonic systems with the purpose of inducing damage or destruction upon a target population or region on earth or in space.

So, get this: not only are mind-control and earthquake-generating weapons banned, but also psychotronic ones. And information weapons, which brings us all the way back to the current thread.

Hopefully I don't have to explain why I think this kind of legislation is whacko to the core.

And of course there's the whole chemtrail aspect.

Fruitcakes got nuthin' on Dennis Kucinich.

On the other hand, I think he's Mostly Harmless, which is why I'm not railing against his desire to make broadcast programming Fair and Balanced, and otherwise wage war against information warfare.

"Fruitcakes got nuthin' on Dennis Kucinich."

I am willing to bet far fewer people give their friends Dennis Kucinich as Christmas presents. At least if they want to remain friends.

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