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October 20, 2008

Comments

No real substance, just a thanks for providing me an epiphany over the weekend.

I've been a fan of full tax payer financing for awhile until the past few days. However, after Pub's post here, and a comment earlier (can't remember who/where, but the gist was that limiting funding works as a vote supressant) have changed my mind. Kudos and what not!

My major qualm at this point is corporate (and lobbyist, insofar as the two are connected) 'speech' in politics. However, that seems something that could be remedied without hurting the rights or the importance of real persons. I dunno' the intricities of campaign financing, but as an idea maybe a similar (as in close to the amount and individual can give) cap on how much a company/lobbying group/etc. can put up.

The internet does see to have made it possible for a candidate to reach huge numbers of people and for them to easily donate small amounts of money that in aggregate can overmatch the corrupting influence of large donors. This has been quite a weekend for this new paradigm, what with Elwyn Tinkelberg raising $500,000 in 24 hours of the strength of massive popular repugnance to Michelle Bachmann's McCarthyism (even despite Tinkelberg's unfortunate name!), even before the Obama campaign announced its September numbers. And that's all a very, very good thing. Still, it doesn't solve some issues: (1) Obama achieved prominence on the strength of his working his way up through the Illinois State Senate and his advocacy on Iraq, followedby his 2004 DNC speech - but even so, the Atlantic article on his internet machine a couple months ago made the claim that Obama's success required seed money from a group of well-heeled Silicon Valley donors to start the machine up. (2) It isn't completely clear how the model works or how to use it. The Republican primary shows this in a couple ways, with Ron Paul somehow activating a grassroots money machine that was, per voter, possibly better than even Obama's; and Huckabee had huge apparent grassroots populatity that somehow never turned into fundraising. (3) There remains a massive institutional problem with the media, especially commercial broadcast media, where news coverage is limited and generally awful - and the less coverage, the greater the need to reward the broadcasters by buying advertising time from them. Why can't we keep some version of the current model and supplement it - for example, with free airtime for properly qualified candidates (though I'd greatly prefer if such airtime were used in segments considerably longer than 30 seconds).

(2) It isn't completely clear how the model works or how to use it.

Fundraising plus ground game plus positive results.

That means lots and lots of hard work and lots and lots of brains.

Not everyone can do that.

Don't a lot of these donations come through "bundlers" though? If Daily Kos readers as a group donate $20m, then each individual donation is pretty unimportant, but Moulitsas himself is a pretty big man, n'est-ce pas?

The essential correctness of Madison's view can be seen from the complete failure of small single-issue pressure groups in US politics.

but Moulitsas himself is a pretty big man, n'est-ce pas?

I'm not sure about that, I'd certainly accept that Moulitsas has more juice than the man on the street. However, the delinking of people donating and the mastermind makes it quite different to a Bush pioneer. (on re-reading, maybe this is just snark, sorry if I'm missing that)

I'd be interested in understanding the relative positions of Kossack donations versus Act Blue, versus whatever else is out there. I'm thinking that Act Blue has raised more money, so does that mean that Benjamin Rahn and Matt DeBergalis have more juice that Kos?

The "Great Orange Satan" isn't monolithic. Fractious, squabbling, but willing to pull together if inspired - one of the funniest moments I recall from the past couple of years was David Brooks mistaking Moulitsas for a mafioso kingpin, without realizing that if he (Kos) extended his hand for the community to kiss his ring, about forty percent of the community would tell him in graphic detail where he could stick his ring.

I get the sense that "communities" on the far right of the divide don't work that way. Unless you're considering deviating from the wingnut orthodoxy, whatever it happens to be this week.

Why can't we keep some version of the current model and supplement it - for example, with free airtime for properly qualified candidates (though I'd greatly prefer if such airtime were used in segments considerably longer than 30 seconds).

A broader base of financial support for candidates is certainly an improvement but that doesn't get to what is, to me, the basic problem with our extant campaign finance situation (I refuse to call it a 'system'): campaigns are absurdly expensive, mainly due to television costs. TV advertising is a wholly imaginary expense. This is one of several dumb traditions we have been grandfathered into - like local control and funding of schools and, to a lesser extent, health care provision - that we lack the political competence to change. So we kludge. It really is neurotic. There is no natural reason campaigns should be expensive.

I'm very glad Obama has taken in so much money from small donors, but this model doesn't solve the problem. Obama has taken in lots of money from large interests, too. In addition to the question of seed money, there is also the matter of timing - if your campaign is ebbing, however temporarily, and you need money fast, you might have to go to the big bundlers, etc. just to survive: timing, or rather predictability, matters as much as the particular amounts. Equating money with speech is corrupt at its core, no matter where the money comes from.

As a Madison acoylte, I appreciate the post and the argument.

Is there reason to think that after the election the small donors (many geographically dispersed factions of 1) will have any influence compared to large donors (a few factions of 1,000,000 geographically concentrated in the Beltway)? What is it?

No real comment, I just want to say that "The Madisonian Vectors" is a cool name for a band.

"Oh yeah, and one last point — $150 frickin’ million!"

Caught the last few moments of McCain campaign manager Rick Davis on "Morning Joe." He was insisting that Obama should make all of his donor names public -- not sure if he was trying to make specific accusations, but it doesn't really matter.

It was just funny watching a Republican cry about Obama's fundraising prowess. Davis' combination of jealousy and concern made it look like his head was going to explode. These guys are toast.

Is there reason to think that after the election the small donors (many geographically dispersed factions of 1) will have any influence compared to large donors (a few factions of 1,000,000 geographically concentrated in the Beltway)? What is it?

Well, when some random industry group wants to meet with Obama after donating to his campaign, proximity won't help them at all. Obama's secretary will check opensecrets.org, conclude the industry group donated 0.0000001% of Obama's war chest and tell them to buggar of because they don't matter. If you think proximity matters somehow, please explain how.

Moreover, one of the bigger problems of traditional fundraising is that politicians have to spend a lot of time courting big interests to get the cash they need. Obama hasn't had to spend his time that way. He's been able to spend more time campaigning and studying policy issues.

The main point of campaign finance influence by the upper classes isn't to corrupt an individual candidate, but to change the odds of who may run and win.

Obama (and predecessors and the internet) have come up with methods to get around much of the upper-class filter.

The ultra-rich aren't stupid. They haven't opposed campaign finance reforms for decades because they were stupid.

On the other hand, few anticipated the possibility of a model for extremely large numbers of moderate sized donations.

Oops, that is, unless you count back in the way, way old days when we had large working-class political movements of unions and socialists which got ordinary people involved in running and funding campaigns.

But who wants to pay attention to boring stuff from a century ago when instead you can miss most of the argument?

@ Warren Terra:

[Jay channels his Inner Gary Farber]

Just a note: the Democratic candidate for the House for MN-06 is Elwyn Tinklenberg - which name, I guess, will be "fortunate" enough when it has "Congressman" in front of it...
[/IGF]

@ dsquared:

Markos may have a good deal of "influence" on the netroots, but his fundraising model, AFAICT, is less centralized than, I think, you're making it: mainly exhortations to his membership to contribute to other various causes and/or campaigns and/or organizations:
Yes, a Kallout from Kos can be a contributing (pun intended) factor for Democratic candidates , but he's not quite the "kingpin" as some think.

@ btfb:

Yes indeedy: when I hear Republicans on the stump wailing about Obama's fundraising "scandals", I just can't help thinking that they feel the real "scandal" is that
they aren't getting as much!

I am a 70 yr old, retired, widowed, Great Grandmother, that just happens to have been one of those many small donors. I also was a small donor for the Kerry group 4 yrs ago so am no newbee. I live in the Bible belt and have people standing on corners all yr long not just during election time, to tell me how to live,
I truly think this "new" form of financing is the way to go. Of course I guess I actually do belong to several groups all at one time, so we do have a small amount of influence as a group.....

Jay C, as I was typing the name I suspected it was wrong - but as there's no tabbed browsing on my phone I couldn't easily check. Still, I thank you for the correction, I share your hopes, and I hope Gary is OK - I expected him to correct the error.

This new model is basically the Amazon model adapted for political fundraising. Thus, there are two ends to argue about. The first is whether Amazon is going to lead to the demise of all brick and mortar bookstores. The parallel is whether Obama's model spells the death of fundraising solely as a province of the upperclass.

The second is whether Amazon can survive at all. That is sort of in the background, given the success that Obama has had, but will come up when the model moves to races where the choices aren't quite as stark, though I tend to think that any race where a Republican is one side is going to be a stark choice until the party leadership is replaced.

With Amazon, we have some clearer metrics about what constitutes success, whereas with this, it is not as clear. Gwangung's point about it being the coupling of the fundraising with the ground game is spot on.

El Cid's comment is also worth keeping in mind. Working class movements were delegitimized by linking them to socialism and communism, with the ultimate goal of making any sort of mass movement something to be viewed with skepticism. We see the attempts to do the same thing (cf. ACORN, invocations of Socialism and arguments that Obama is some sort of Marxist sleeper agent)

that seems something that could be remedied without hurting the rights or the importance of real persons

How's this:

Political donations can be made only by individual human persons. No exceptions.

"Political donations" means money given to a candidate, a party, or a PAC.

There is a limit to the political contributions that any given person can make overall in a given year. Make it fat, say $10,000.

No bundling.

Thanks -

But the real question is how will fund raising function as the U.S. become a one party state. In 2016, the real election for president will occur from before the Iowa caucuses to Super Tuesday in the Democratic Primary. So, how will enough small donors be interested at that time.

The late physicist Thomas Gold described a condition wherein a population may contain two groups, each holding opposite views on a subject. Support or denial of a particular view may lie somewhere on a continuum between "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree." As the frey proceeds, some supporters of one side may drop out with the effect of strengthening the other in terms of numbers. What might start out as a broad, flat normal distribution of opinion regarding the side destined to "win," soon becomes sharply peaked and skewed as supporters of the "losing" side drop away. The "Gold Effect" has been offered as a model describing the belief (or not) of Americans in alien visitations via UFOs. Non-believers do not bother to argue with their relatives, neighbors, or co-workers who think that the "truth is out there," with the result that nearly three-quarters of adults believe their government is lying to them about such matters. It is because this dynamic can exist that it becomes important to not allow one or two political parties to acquire too much influence and power. Madison's notion thus appears quite right.

I'm with jonnybutter on this. Thrilling as it is to see the scale of small-donor support (and even more satisfying is that the Obama campaign invested early on in developing staff rather than feeding the media machine), the whole process sucks too much money out of the pockets of voters and hands it over to giant media corps.

But if I'm softening wrt presidential campaigns, I remain adamant about the need for public financing and free and equal media access for Senate and Congressional races. The effect of this kind of geyser of fundraising at the presidential level is that the bar is being set ever higher, and as El Cid points out, the primary harmful impact is the way that it limits who can run at all.

Russell- I was struggling with corporations advocating their interests, but I think you're just about right. If getting candidate X elected is so good for your company/group/whatever, then chip in the money yourself, but with a somewhat higher cap on individual contributions. (Somewhat higher, because you now have a fixed amount for a number of groups. Just not high enough to exert undue influence. Your 10k limit sounds pretty reasonable.)

The essential correctness of Madison's view can be seen from the complete failure of small single-issue pressure groups in US politics.

As can be seen by the negligible influence wielded by the NRA /snark.

But seriously, while the NRA's influence might be marginal east of the Mississippi, in western states having the NRA come out against a candidate is pretty much a kiss of death

I think bundling is real problem with a privately-funded campaign. Here's a list of Barack Obama's bundlers from opensecrets.org. 509 individuals gathered $63.3 million to Obama's campaign. I have a hard time believing that these individuals won't have a heck of a lot more access to an Obama White House than your regular Joe or Jane would. So even if he's not getting all his money from, say, the automobile industry, and therefore avoiding being a flack the way some Michigan lawmakers are, he nonetheless is still winding up beholden to a group of people who are raising lots of money for him. It's just a different group.

Also, as Warren touched on above, building up the infrastructure of being able to use the internet to get those contributions takes a significant chunk of start-up money and require a technical expertise that is not widespread in non-national political campaigns. So whatever independence Obama might have is not necessarily transferrable from a presidential campaign down to a congressional campaign or statewide office, because at these lower levels of politics there is not necessarily the same level of resources or abilities as there are is at the presidential level.

Nell and jonnybutter both make great points about the ridiculousness of media corporations being the undeserving recipients of campaign contributions. Why can't the FCC include a requirement in its licenses that give airtime to political candidates? If campaigns didn't have to spend money to get on the airwaves politicians wouldn't have to raise quite as much money and would be commensurately less likely to be beholden to their contributors.

This is just off the top of my head, but you can count me as still being highly skeptical of our system where campaigns are utterly dependent on private fundraising.

Numerous great comments above. Rather than just echo them, here’s some other aspects to the broad based small donor model that I like

- It supplements polling data as a way for candidates to tell how well their positions on issues are holding up with the electorate. This provides support for policy stands which otherwise might seem “too risky”, such as the stand against the Gas Tax pander which Obama took in the latter stages of the primary contest. The flow of donations into the Obama campaign in the wake of the RNC and the initial surge of enthusiasm over Gov. Palin's VP selection must have helped in dealing with an otherwise alarming shift in the polling numbers which proved to be short lived.

- It turns fund raising into an extended plebiscite. Voters have a chance to vote with their wallets, not just with their ballots, and to do so repeatedly thru the contest. This turns the electoral process into an extended voting experience rather than just a singular event.

By extending the time line this tends to smooth out the impact of short term news events, especially when combined with extended early voting. Note that much of this positive impact is due not only to how much money the Obama campaign has raised, but also to how they have chosen to spend it (see for example to articles that Sean Quinn has been posting at 538), emphasizing the opening of field offices and building a huge GOTV organization which is now pushing early voting, rather than just blowing the cash on nothing but TV commercials (which is what the McCain camp and the RNC seem to have been doing).

For example think about the Bin Laden tape which was released right before the 2004 election, and how much less of an impact the same tape would have this year due to early voting. Also, massive early voting is a strong tactical response to the problem of passive-aggressive vote suppression via inadequate polling place infrastructure which we saw in Ohio during the 2004 election.

I also was a small donor for the Kerry group 4 yrs ago so am no newbee. I live in the Bible belt

- Small donor fund raising allows people who are otherwise effectively disenfranchised by the electoral college and the dominance of one political party in their home state to still have an impact on the outcome.

For example Republicans in California and Democrats in Alabama both now have a way to make their voices heard rather than being invisible to our political process.

509 individuals gathered $63.3 million to Obama's campaign. I have a hard time believing that these individuals won't have a heck of a lot more access to an Obama White House than your regular Joe or Jane would.

The standard we're aiming for isn't for powerful interest groups to have exactly the same amount of influence over policy as individual citizens. That is unrealistic. A better standard is to reduce the disparity between the two influences.

The bundlers you're talking about on average brought in $120,000 for Obama. That's a lot of money, sure. But it is still pretty small compared to Obama's total haul of $600,000,000. Even if we eliminated bundling, there would still be outsized influences: we'd still have the need to pander to Iowa corn farmers or Michigan auto workers for electoral reasons. So the question is: which is a more outsized influence, $120K donations out of a pool of $600 million or an insane primary calendar? Or any other source of excessive influence? Saying that some people still have too much influence because of their cash isn't enough: you also have to compare their influence to other problems and demonstrate that this one problem is worse.

Why can't the FCC include a requirement in its licenses that give airtime to political candidates?

I've long agreed that the FCC should really be requiring a great deal in terms of free candidate coverage from companies that use the public airwaves. However, I'm beginning to wonder if the ship has sailed. Every year, over the air broadcasts become less and less significant in our culture. There are a lot of people who get their TV access from cable and satellite systems and the FCC has very limited options when it comes to regulating those. In the future, I think we're going to see a lot more television viewing moving to internet distribution, especially with younger voters. TV viewing in general has declined, especially amongst younger demographics, in the face of more competitive offerings (like gaming and internet). Getting free coverage from over the air broadcasters would be difficult and would cost a fair bit in terms of political capital. I'm not sure it makes sense to blow that much capital in order to win a battle in a war that's already been lost.

Why can't the FCC include a requirement in its licenses that give airtime to political candidates?

Why stop there? I'd include print as well, at least any form of print that requires a license (newspapers).

Thanks -

Why stop there? I'd include print as well, at least any form of print that requires a license (newspapers).

Newspapers require a license to print? Really?

The FCC has traditionally had a lot of regulatory power over content because the entities it was regulating were using public resources. That's not really true for newspapers or blogs or magazines. I mean, what public resources do newspapers use beyond those used by a generic business of the same size?

My hunch is that any attempt to force newspapers and other publications to include free political advertising will end up mired in years of messy first amendment litigation. You might be able to get the same effect by offering a targeted tax break to organizations that offered space for candidate messages on an equal basis. But that outcome seems very similar to just having the government purchase air time for candidates...

Newspapers require a license to print

Sorry, poorly stated.

Ownership of newspapers is still, IIRC regulated under the same FCC rules as apply to ownership of TV or radio licenses. Specifically, the number that may be owned in a particular market is subject to review by the FCC.

So, you know, if we're going to make broadcast media make bandwidth available, why not newspapers, too?

I have no doubt that any attempt to require anyone, anywhere, whatsoever, to carry political advertising or any kind or amount, with or without compensation, will be met with gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, predictions of the collapse of western society, and general holding of breath until blue.

It'll probably never happen.

But, a guy can dream.

Thanks -

Turb, I agree with you. The fundamental problem with political contributions is that it gives those individuals an outsized influence in the political process that comes at the expense of regular voters. But outsized influence doesn't come only from contributions of money, but also through our screwy political system.

Your example about Iowa is dead on. That's a case where even if my dream of public financing were to come to pass candidates would still have a strong incentive to pander to a local interest at the expense of the rest of the country.

In my view, then, campaign finance reform/public-financing is only one prong of the necessary reforms. Iowa and New Hampshire need to be stripped of their incredibly disproportionate influence on the presidential primary process (I mean, just look at how this year Giuliani was dead in the water after Iowa and New Hampshire and how Clinton was first crushed and then revitalized after those two results). The electoral college should be reformed or abolished. Incumbents in congress win re-election something like 90% of the time. I'm not sure how to go about it, but clearly something needs to be done to create a level playing field and keep incumbents from having such a crushing advantage.

But it's a catch-22. It would be irrational for an elected politician to alter the way that elections are run. After all, if she was elected then clearly she knows how to work the system and would be unlikely to want to change the rules and disrupt her known path to success.

So I would agree with you there are a lot of problems. But I'm still convinced that the worst problem is private fundraising, particularly at the legislative level. I think that if the rules were changed and corporate influence was minimized that our congress critters would find it much easier to make the decisions that they feel are in the public's best interest--not just the ones that keep them from losing the funding they need to win again next year.

Specifically, the number that may be owned in a particular market is subject to review by the FCC.

Right, so the FCC has one very specific regulatory function in the newspaper business, a function that does not include content control in any way. I don't see judges looking with favor on the kind of regulation you're proposing, but I'm not a lawyer.

I have no doubt that any attempt to require anyone, anywhere, whatsoever, to carry political advertising or any kind or amount, with or without compensation, will be met with gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, predictions of the collapse of western society, and general holding of breath until blue.

Sure, but all complaints are not equivalent. There would be gnashing of teeth if the government proposed requiring more detailed nutritional labeling and there would also be gnashing of teeth if the government proposed banning television utterances that question the government's position in any public controversy. The world will end in either cases, at least according to opponents, but judges are going to look at these two cases very differently.

Right, so the FCC has one very specific regulatory function in the newspaper business, a function that does not include content control in any way

I'm not sure "content control" is a reasonable way to look at it. It's making bandwidth available for a public purpose, period.

No editorial intrusion on the rest of what's in the paper. No intrusion beyond certain basic limits on what's in the political ad itself, nor can the newspaper itself intrude on what's in the ad.

It's just making square inches available to one and all candidates running for public office.

The fact that requiring this kind of access is not an exact analogy to product labeling, while true enough, doesn't mean that both are not legitimate.

In any case, it AIN'T BLOODY LIKELY TO HAPPEN, so I'm not sure how much energy we should spend going back and forth about it.

Thanks -

I'm not sure "content control" is a reasonable way to look at it. It's making bandwidth available for a public purpose, period.

Newspapers exercise significant editorial discretion regarding which advertisements they run. You propose removing some of that discretion. You propose making avowedly pro-life newspapers compelled to run advertisements, for free, for pro-choice candidates. That may or may not be a good idea, but it sure as heck raises some significant first amendment issues. Any time you force people to print something, you're going to raise those issues big time. And because you're asking regulatory bodies to engage in a kind of regulation that is well outside what they've done in the past, you're facing a lot more legal risk than many other regulatory changes. The government makes companies add nutrition information. Tweaking the specific regulations is not a big deal because there is already established case law showing that the government has the power to do this. Making the government force publishers to publish opinions they find odious would face a lot of court challenges because there is no established legal doctrine empowering the FCC to do that.


But it's a catch-22. It would be irrational for an elected politician to alter the way that elections are run. After all, if she was elected then clearly she knows how to work the system and would be unlikely to want to change the rules and disrupt her known path to success.

First, we have a lot of evidence indicating that our politicians are not rational. They are particularly prone to overestimating their own abilities. Secondly, we have a lot of evidence of politicians who have worked to undermine systems they relied on to reach positions of power: consider campaign finance laws or recent ethics reform packages. Thirdly, politicians are only invested in some of the structural problems you highlighted. For example, most national politicians really don't benefit from the power that Iowa and NH yield: the reason they continue to yield that power is because no one wants to be first in advocating the elimination of that power. In contrast, all incumbents are invested to a much greater degree in the power of incumbents.

You propose making avowedly pro-life newspapers compelled to run advertisements, for free, for pro-choice candidates.

Damned straight. And vice versa.

That may or may not be a good idea, but it sure as heck raises some significant first amendment issues

Yes, I think that's correct. That's why I don't think anyone will ever touch it.

All of that said, the idea of requiring media outlets to make bandwidth (of whatever kind) available for candidates for public office to present their positions sounds fine to me.

Thanks -

Madison's model, from Federalist 10, is not really fairly portrayed here. Madison did think that if you expand the territory two things would happen: first, there would be an increase in the number of interests such that the chances of one becoming a majority was low; and second, that the interests would be unlikely to be able to know their own strength even if they were a majority.

In this calculation, Madison did not figure in the role of parties, and he did not figure in the role of single member districts. Parties allowed coordination, such that disparate groups would know their own strength. Single member districts contributed to a two party system because third parties would rarely get any seats at all. And with only two parties, there would usually be a majority.

As a result, Madison did not understand how the system he designed would work. He got precisely what he hoped to avoid: majority factions controlling the government!

Now, the system of small donation campaign finance for national office does have some of the desirable attributes you mention. But note that what we have is a coalition that will become a majority, and will govern.

As to the desirableness relative to public finance, I still have to think about it.

Let me just note I am glad the person able to raise money to this great extent via small donations is Obama. A reconstructionist President who will make politics.

Terragone: I take it you've read Skowronek?

"...and I hope Gary is OK - I expected him to correct the error."

Gary is in a lot of pain from what he suspects is likely a broken left foot. He expects to finally break down and go to the emergency room again tonight, Tuesday night, which he'd held off doing since he fell on Friday, since he doesn't like the idea of having to owe god knows how many thousands of dollars on x-rays and bone scans, given that a simple toothache a only a month ago cost him $1300 that they're already threatening him over.

So the results of our "just go to the emergency room!" health care system is that I delayed as long as I could, hoping a few days healing would reveal it was just a bruise/sprain. But since it's continuing to give lots of signs of a break, I'll finally go and spend however long tonight, after my sweetie gets home and can drive me, to find out, and also, please god, to get some pain-killer medication.

Meanwhile, Gary is a tad distracted, and hopes to eventually learn to write in the first person again. Meanwhile, Gary can't sleep much, and Gary looks forward to conversations with Bob Dole, and Elizabeth Dole, all in the third person. "Gary Farber says pass the salt, Bob Dole."

Why can't the FCC include a requirement in its licenses that give airtime to political candidates?

Why stop there? I'd include print as well, at least any form of print that requires a license (newspapers).

Um, newspapers don't require a license in the United States, Russell. (Thank goodness.)

"Ownership of newspapers is still, IIRC regulated under the same FCC rules as apply to ownership of TV or radio licenses."

No, that's wrong. The FCC has absolutely no say whatever about newspapers; newspapers aren't broadcast.

What you're thinking of is that the FCC has rules about what companies seeking broadcast licenses, or to buy more, can do.

And you may be thinking of Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, which allows for newspapers to share certain aspects of their business.

But the FCC doesn't regulate newspapers. Period.

"So, you know, if we're going to make broadcast media make bandwidth available, why not newspapers, too?"

This is one of the world's most horrible ideas. Define "newspaper."

"Making the government force publishers to publish opinions they find odious would face a lot of court challenges because there is no established legal doctrine empowering the FCC to do that."

YM "this is one of the most wildly flagrantly unconstitutional ideas ever."

The government mandating that people be made to print and distribute texts imposed by the government?

What kind of cockamamie idea of free speech is that?

I've published dozens of newsletters, ranging from distributions of 50 to working on those that are 50,000, and more. I'd go to jail before letting the government force me to print and distribute something I didn't care to.

There are millions of small press publications and newspapers in this country, and will we suddenly make the internet vanish?

This idea, I suggests, doesn't withstand much scrutiny.
Sorry, Russell.

Meanwhile, Gary is a tad distracted, and hopes to eventually learn to write in the first person again.

That is a horrifying story Gary. Please get better fast and keep us updated as you can.

Hugs going out to you.

Gary: more hugs.

But the FCC doesn't regulate newspapers. Period.

Ownership of newspapers is limited by the FCC's cross-media ownership rules similar to broadcast media.

The FCC gets involved not at all in the content of the newspapers. Only ownership, and only in cases where the owners also own broadcast outlets in the same markets.

I'd go to jail before letting the government force me to print and distribute something I didn't care to.

Then you would obviously object to the idea.

It wouldn't bother me at all.

But, as mentioned upthread, it has not a chance in a million of ever being proposed, let alone seriously considered. Far less than that of ever, ever being implemented.

So it's probably not worth contesting.

Hope you can get some good medical attention for your foot, and sooner rather than later. Constant pain sucks big time. Hope you're well and whole soon.

Thanks -

Gary writes: So the results of our "just go to the emergency room!" health care system is that I delayed as long as I could, hoping a few days healing would reveal it was just a bruise/sprain. But since it's continuing to give lots of signs of a break, I'll finally go and spend however long tonight, after my sweetie gets home and can drive me, to find out, and also, please god, to get some pain-killer medication.

*Jes makes Gary a cup of tea, and offers the last of her paracetamol-with-codeine she was saving for the next time she has killer cramps*

Thanks, Jes. I appreciate that.

Also, TLTIALB and Hilzoy.

In the end, due to some miscommunication with the person I thought I was getting a ride to the ER with, I wasn't able to go, so I'm just gritting my teeth and taking more ibuprofen. I'm not at all sure it's broken, to be sure; it might just be an awful sprain, or a torn ligament, or somesuch. Still can't remotely walk on it, but the purpleness is getting a bit less each day. Wish I'd taken a photo of it the first day, though, just for the record.

Meanwhile, I can't find a position in which I can sit at the computer without it starting to hurt a lot very quickly, so I'm catching up on my book reading, lying down, which is the least painful position, and probably will be rather more infrequent online for a while than my usual.

But, hey, I'm reading Nixonland. (Although I've been such a lifelong obsessive about Nixon that so far I haven't read anything I didn't know; but Perlstein does put it together well.)

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