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July 05, 2012

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And since throughout the history of the United States, corporations have had been held to have more limited Constitutional rights than human beings

Can you give me an example of a constitutional right that is more expansive for people than for corporations? By this I mean the same constitutional right. I know corporations can't vote or practice a religion. I am referring to a right that can be exercised by either a person or a corporation, e.g. speech, right to trial by jury.

All of the 'time, place and manner' rules apply equally across the board, I am fairly sure, so those limitations don't really prove the point.

I'm not aware of an inalienable right to incorporate

Actually, if the right to incorporate is afforded by a state, then the right to incorporate cannot be denied for any of the reasons proscribed in the 14th Amendment. Then, you have the full faith and credit issue to deal with.

But, you're correct, the right to incorporate is not in the constitution explicitly. It may, however, derive generically from the freedom to associate which is part of 1st Amendment jurisprudence, IIRC. You wouldn't get limited liability, but you might get other aspects of a corporate enterprise.

Can you give me an example of a constitutional right that is more expansive for people than for corporations?

McKinney, actually corporations can practice a religion if you want to pretend that states, by allowing religious institutions to incorporate, are creating religious persons. But the truth is, as we know, that corporations don't believe in anything - the people who are members or adherents do. So the corporation doesn't have a Constitutional right to wear a headscarf because it doesn't have a head. Just as the corporation shouldn't have a Constitutional right to express its thoughts, because it doesn't have a brain. Bear arms? Does it have the same right as individuals to own handguns? I don't think that's been decided, but I would think not. Certainly, a multinational corporation could own a whole lot of guns that could threaten the security of the United States (just as a multinational corporation could buy a lot of elections and threaten the security of the United States).

To the extent that corporations are a convenient means for shareholders to invest in a common enterprise, we assert that a corporation has due process, but that's really, again a convenience to protect the collective property rights of the shareholders in the enterprise. But I've never seen a corporation go to jail, have you? So, of course, it's an absurdity to act as though corporations are really just like people when, in fact, they are made-up entities representing certain endeavors or interests of one or more persons. Sometimes its convenient and appropriate, even in lawsuits, to treat a corporation as a person, especially when protection of corporate property (the collective investments of the shareholders) is at issue. But nothing in the Constitution demands that people pretend that corporations have thoughts, beliefs, feelings or that they suffer and die. Corporations are not people, and when it doesn't make sense to give corporations more power than is really represented by the people behind the corporate veil, they shouldn't be given "Constitutional rights."

They call "corporate personhood" a "legal fiction." That's because it is a concept made up for the convenience of people who carry on business, not because we were all supposed to pretend that a charter is the same as birth certificate.

By the way, McKinney, why can't corporations vote? They can speak. What's to stop them from voting if they really are persons under the Constitution? I'm sure it can be arranged that a corporate officer can get authority from the board of directors to cast a ballot on behalf of a company. Why not? Aren't they people?

You know, I'd be happy with putting dollar limits on campaign contributions and disallowing within some number of days of an election television commercials endorsing a candidate not paid for by that candidate's campaign fund. No distinction between corporations and human beings necessary. Put whatever you want in the newspaper. Put on an entire TV show if you want, so long as everyone can know what it is and who's paying for it ahead of time. Just don't stick commercials in the middle of football games or soap operas or any other broadcast that someone chose to watch with no intent to receive political messaging. If people want to seek out Exxon/Mobil's or the NAACP's or the IBEW's or the NRA's or the Koch brothers' or George Soros' political messages, let 'em have it. Just no pop-ups at election time. It's narrow enough to be like yelling "fire" in the theater. If nothing else, it would make television less annoying around elections.

Oh, and same rules for robo-calls - another non-internet pop-up.

The freedom to annoy, mislead, prevaricate, and otherwise bug the crap out of people shall not be infringed.

"But if Exxon or the NYTimes wishes to express a view on a subject, they have to do so either directly, as the NYTimes currently does, or their donation to another organization doing the same would have to be publicly disclosed as such"

Which is exactly what Citizens United says, right? The disclosure requirements survived the Supreme Court challenge.

Sapient, McCain Feingold was the departure from settled Constitutional law.

Epistemic closure is granted to the states by by Constitution so they may experiment with 50 different ways of denying healthcare to their citizens.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/rick-perry-obamacare-10488457

McCain Feingold was the departure from settled Constitutional law.

Previous Supreme Court rulings, extant federal legislation, and state laws going back 100 years notwithstanding? The above claim, backed by absolutely nothing in the way of explanation, analysis, or citation defies belief, common sense, and actual history.

You might want to provide us some modicum of substantiation for such a sweepingly incorrect assertion.

The idea that you could restrict political communication a month before an election was rather novel, yes, bobbyp.

We have not come yet to the next logical step. Should the US abolish capital punishment* and corporations are people, would that make revoking a corporation's charter unconstitutional?
Jokes aside, given the trend I would not be surprised, if corporations would get the right to vote in my lifetime.**

*I mean off-with-their-heads. Capital itself will not be punished. Btw, money is the life-blood of corporations. That would make fines the equivalent to coerced blood donations, clearly cruel and unusual and thus illegal. See, you can't jail, fine or (in the near future) execute corporations. ;-)
**or as it would be portrayed: have their unlawfully denied right to vote at last (re)instated

why can't corporations vote?

Corporations do get to vote, in the persons of their officers, board members, and employees. Who may not all agree, politically, but that's corporate life.

So the corporation doesn't have a Constitutional right to wear a headscarf because it doesn't have a head.

By those rules, you don't have a Constitutional right to do anything at all, because the Constitution doesn't enumerate any of your rights.

"The freedom to annoy, mislead, prevaricate, and otherwise bug the crap out of people shall not be infringed."

Yup, the freedom to engage in utterances, and print text, which will be so characterized by people who want them silenced, shall not be infringed.

I>The idea that you could restrict political communication a month before an election was rather novel, yes, bobbyp.

This isn't true. See Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce which was overruled by Citizens United. It has long been recognized that corporate money corrupts the political process.

Sorry, I meant to italicize Sebastian's quoted comment.

Austen, following that link, does not appear to have involved the sort of gag period right around elections which made McCain/Feingold offensive in a novel way.

It is not really all that novel, here in Japan, there is a specific defined period in which electioneering can take place. In fact, I think most countries have some sort of blackout period, so your use of novel is not really correct.

It's novel in the United States. That it's not novel in countries with lousy protection for freedom of speech is basically irrelevant. We have unusually robust protection for speech and publishing in this country, and I like it that way.

If we can take a break from the towel-snapping, I'd like to know if any of those on the side of absolutely unfettered political speech, be it personal or corporate, have any concerns about the influence money has over politics on two fronts: 1 - in that it simply drowns out the voices of those with fewer resources, effectively rendering their free speech moot (and mute!), and 2 - in that it increased the likelihood of quid pro quo between candidates and financially powerful supporters.

Do you see these things as problems and, if so, is there anything you think can be done to mitigate them under our current constitution? Is there a compelling interest that allows some reasonable restriction on time, place and manner of speech, as opposed to the content thereof?

"1 - in that it simply drowns out the voices of those with fewer resources, effectively rendering their free speech moot (and mute!),..."
You have a right to speak, not a right to be heard.

Do you see these things as problems and, if so, is there anything you think can be done to mitigate them under our current constitution? Is there a compelling interest that allows some reasonable restriction on time, place and manner of speech, as opposed to the content thereof?

Very fair questions. I don't think corporate spending drowns out other voices, but I do think there is a very-difficult-to-prove quid pro quo that arises from any aid and comfort anyone or any group renders to a politician.

The mitigation issue is where the rub comes. Disclosure of corporate spending and donations to candidates and PACs passes constitutional muster. Limits on when someone may speak, i.e. prior restraint, is unconstitutional. "Time, place and manner" limits are to prevent the act of speech from interfering with others. For example, you have the right to stand on a soap box in a park and bellow to your heart's content. You cannot place your soap box in a busy intersection and bring traffic to a halt to compel others to hear your words. Another example: You cannot drive through a neighborhood and broadcast through a loud speaker.

Fighting words and words of incitement are different, not because of content per se, but the intended impact of the content on listeners.

A free society is going to have problems. One person's problem is another person's good thing. I wasn't a big fan of the Occupy Wall Street movement, others were. We allow adults to drink, knowing that some number are going to get behind the wheel and injure or kill someone, others will be abusive and physically violent, etc.

The flip side of free speech is the right of rejoinder. Silencing speech goes to far.

You have a right to speak, not a right to be heard.

That's right. Despite whatever is being spent on NYT advertisements, robocalls, TV commercials, etc: they don't affect me at all.

The fact that other people aren't doing what they can to drive the cost/effectiveness ratio of corporate political speech to infinity isn't my fault.

My fuzzy ideal is that for-profit corporations should be apolitical. They are chartered for any lawful business purpose, not to change the laws themselves. The legal (and institutional and cultural) landscape is the game field for competition. Don't be working the refs.

Citizens are the participants in setting the rules. If there is a dumb or outdated regulation pointlessly keeping Exxon from some activity, Exxon should publish an analysis of the rule's effects. The owners and managers can do whatever they want with their own money, including flat-out advocating for candidates who promise to fix the dumb rule. (Assuming the owners are US citizens, but that's a different barrel, of fish.)

The theory I'd use is that since corporations are not citizens, they literally have no business in politics. It would be a misallocation of shareholder assets--an improper purpose--to get involved in elections.

McKinneyTexas helpfully confirms there are freedom of association issues. The press is a gaping problem. But it somehow feels right to me that people organizing for political purposes must organize as a not-for-profit. But I don't run the world.

"Yup, the freedom to engage in utterances, and print text, which will be so characterized by people who want them silenced, shall not be infringed."

You're the only guy I know who can edit a quip to make it sound like an edict in a subpoena ;)

"You have a right to speak, not a right to be heard."

So, that explains it. Thank you. ;)

"The flip side of free speech is the right of rejoinder. Silencing speech goes to far."

Welp, then I guess we're stuck with internet threads. ;)

May we still punch mimes in the face who bother us in a public place?

I'm squarely against censoring "Mein Kampf", Pol Pot's instructional manual on punishing the near-sighted, or anything the Regenery press publishes, but if the authors are ahead in the polls a week before the election, I'm thinking other restrictions and measures besides hoping Truman pulls it out might be in order.

Go ahead, pretend no one heard that.

"You cannot place your soap box in a busy intersection and bring traffic to a halt to compel others to hear your words. Another example: You cannot drive through a neighborhood and broadcast through a loud speaker."

You may however plaster your car with political speech and deliberately sit in traffic jams for the edification of the guy stuck behind you. You may also festoon the scoreboard at the ballgame with all manner of advertising feces.

That latter reminds me, sort of, of the Paul Newman movie, wherein a lady accuses the Newman character of looking up her skirt and he drawls "Ma'am, everybody's got to look somewhere."

But seriously, I think the problem with anonymous money=speech is that entities (this is a non-partisan word) with lots of money are likely, but not exclusively in most cases, though its getting there, to attain more representation in our representative government than little ole you or me.

And you're telling me "Shut up!" into the ether is all we've got?

Hello?

And then, presto, it gets even better:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/07/10/romney-bundler-to-do-voter-education-in-pennsylvania/

Well, back to the subject of this post (sort of), the ACA:

Health insurance companies have just sent rebate checks to businesses because the ACA required the insurance companies to return part of the premiums it received it if did not spend at least 80% of them on health care services. The businesses are directed either to distribute the money directly to insured employees, or to apply it to lower their premiums for the coming year.

The term "voter" is largely meaningless anymore, much like the term "shareholder" in the financial markets, in the sense that ginormous anonymous money is now moving swiftly and non-transparently outside of our understanding.

We control nothing.

Tell me what a shareholder is in an age when roughly 75% of daily stock market trading is high frequency -- shareholders for milliseconds.

Then, dark pools:

http://www.minyanville.com/sectors/technology/articles/dark-pools-scott-patterson-technology-wall/7/10/2012/id/42282

I'm going to go cook.

It might also be nice if politicians didn't equate the interests of the managers of a corporation that are there in front of them lobbying, with the interests of the corporation's shareholders, or employees, or even the corporation itself!

But, ISTM, to happen way too often. "OMG, Corp X employs 2,000 people in my district, I must listen to them!" My response would be: why?

From the Count's Balloon Juice link:

An astounding 758,939 registered voters in the state, or nine percent, do not have PennDot IDs, according to datareleased last Tuesday by the Department of State. In Philadelphia, it’s even worse: 186,830 registered voters, or 18 percent, do not have ID. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele had previously assured lawmakers that 99 percent of Pennsylvanians possess the necessary ID―based on what, I have absolutely no idea.

I don't click the Count's links on account of them not being clickable.

You must have a crappy browser. I just have to read them, and up comes a web page.

If I was Gary Farber, I'd provide stern instructions on cutting and pasting my links so that I wouldn't have to look at and learn that codey stuff to make good links.

But I'm not, so we're poorer for it.

So how bout I dare you to paint, cut, and paste.
Try this.

http://devour.com/video/dancing-army-men/

You might like.

Via Sullivan.

It's novel in the United States. That it's not novel in countries with lousy protection for freedom of speech is basically irrelevant.

And because everyone here lives in the United States, that's the only frame of reference we can use. I assume it is because Brett believes everyone here is speaking American.

It's disturbing to me that the "conservatives" here (McKinney and Sebastian [I won't really worry about Brett because he's just too far away from my reality that I can't even fathom engaging]) think that there's no problem with the fact that Exxon Mobil or Walmart can freely place all of its fortune into campaign financing, literally drowning out people who aren't motivated by large multinational corporate profit. Do either of you have any worries whatsoever about the possibility that these entities might be dominated by people who aren't even citizens of the United States, and that the interests of U.S. citizens mean nothing (or worse, are antithetical) to these corporate interests?

But, whatever. I think it's unpatriotic as hell to give over the electoral process to oligarchs and people who have no vested interest in the welfare of the people of this country. The "founders" (for those hypocrites who sometimes profess interest in originalism) never contemplated corporations replacing nations. That's what's happening now.

I pledge allegiance to Google. Or maybe Starbucks. Because of the powerful corporations, I think those are probably the best.

Oh, I forgot. The market will make it all fine.

sapient, von Hayek explains:

http://crookedtimber.org/2012/07/09/because-nothing-says-spontaneous-order-like-torture-and-disappearances/

Money quote: "If Mrs. Thatcher said that free choice is to be exercised more in the market place than in the ballot box, she has merely uttered the truism that the first is indispensable for individual freedom, while the second is not."

Couple this with William F. Buckley's long ago dream of throwing "potholes" in the way of voter enfranchisement among "certain" people now being re-enacted in right wing governor's mansions and statehouses across the country as we speak and I 'd say the Constitution is now basically construed as a suicide pact.

Leaving conservatives here out of it, prominent right-wing policy wonks met today to list all of the reasons the new healthcare law, imperfect as it is bolted onto a dysfunctional healthcare system for tens of millions of Americans, should be repealed in total.

Should the plan delineated today in that room come to fruition, it will kill more Americans than the plans hatched by al Qaeda and the Taliban to kill Americans on 9/11.

Stunning rhetoric, perhaps, but I'm just keeping up with Republican rhetoric on from the floor of the House on C-span, and on cable news, AM radio, and the internet.

Someone around here has to do it.

Hat tip to Charles Pierce for the Buckley reference.

"think that there's no problem with the fact...."

First, there is a huge difference between thinking that something is 'no problem' and thinking that the proposed methods of dealing with it are worse than the problem.

For example, I think addiction can be a major problem, but I think the drug war is worse.

Second, campaign laws as they actually function (see McCain-Feingold especially) are essentially incumbent protection schemes. They don't want outside money because they want to protect themselves. That *might* be a valid concern if scary corporations were flooding the field and incumbents were falling left and right to shadowy organizations. But in the actual world, incumbents win more than 80% of the time, and 90% or more in lots of states. That suggests to me that incumbents don't really need more protection.

So in some ways I'm MORE cynical than you. I believe that laws by actual lawmakers tend to be self protective of the lawmakers. I don't think they need more protection right now, so I'm not as worried as you.

Sebastian, you're absolutely more cynical than me. I'm not cynical, I'm just dispirited. I still deeply believe in the Constitution and the political system that I thought I grew up with - in a time where people were working constantly to give voice to people who hadn't had a voice. That direction has been turned around gradually, starting with the Reagan Revolution, leading to the Gingrich, then Supreme Court/Bush-Cheney, now Corporate/Tea-Party Revolution. I'm not cynical - I'm mournful. I love liberal democracy. It's gone. We're headed for third-world nation status, where an oligarchy rules the poverty stricken masses who have no voice. It's sickening. My only hope is that young people are smart enough to change it all again.

Count, I can't thank you enough. I am awestruck and dumbstruck by your vigilance and perspicacity.

Oh, one more hopeful note. For a brief moment, the nation was smart enough to elect Barack Obama. I'm going to work very hard for that to happen again.

(My Anthem insurance rebate was excellent! Thank you, President Obama!)

"And because everyone here lives in the United States,"

And because McCain/Feingold is a law in the United States, being analyzed for novelty in the United states, that similar restrictions are not novel in other countries does not make McCain/Feingold SOP in the United States.

We could implement a system where coerced confessions were admissible in courts, and while that wouldn't be novel http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/07/world/asia/07iht-japan.1.5596308.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all>everywhere, it would still be fair to say, in the context of US law that it was "novel".

And, Sapient, are you not concerned that corporations like the NYT can "freely place all of its fortune into campaign financing, literally drowning out people" who don't happen to do that sort of thing for a living?

Concern does not equal accepting censorship as the cure.

But in the actual world, incumbents win more than 80% of the time, and 90% or more in lots of states.

Well gosh, that's been the case for like, well http://www.opensecrets.org/bigpicture/reelect.php> a very long time. The question is which way does the causality run, and is it related to the amount of resources the candidates can raise. Maybe there is a study out there of re-election rates during the period 1792-1860, i.e., before "corporations"?

Squirm, squirm, squirm. Really Brett, did I say anything about SOP? I just pointed out that the way you were using 'novel' wasn't appropriate.

Of course, you probably believe that McCain-Feingold just appeared magically in the congressional record, but it was actually first introduced in 1995.

And the 'oh, but look what they do in Japan' just confirms the hit. Maybe you should go back to making your atlatl to defend all the canned goods you've got stored in the basement.

They don't want outside money because they want to protect themselves.

Yet another unsourced, un-argued, lacking in fact or logic, and, in all respects, an unsupported assertion. This is beyond cynicism. It is paranoia.

""Well gosh, that's been the case for like, well a very long time. The question is which way does the causality run, and is it related to the amount of resources the candidates can raise."

You're right! That was true even before Citizens United! That was true even before McCain-Feingold! So why did incumbents need *more* protection again?

Bobbyp, you of all people just called someone paranoid?

Earth is round. Cite please?

So why did incumbents need *more* protection again?

More? Let's see if I have this straight:
1. Incumbents typically win re-election, overwhelmingly.
2. Banning "outside money" will do nothing to alter this fact!!!!! Eureka!!!!
3. ???????????????????
3. McCain-Feingold was a obvious insider ploy to protect incumbency.

Cite? You want a http://www.physlink.com/education/askexperts/ae535.cfm> cite?

If McCain Feingold was REALLY worried about money influencing elections, it wouldn't have allowed inside campaign money to be used in the 30 day window while trying to ban outside groups from spending money during the most critical window before an election.

If you don't think that scheme strongly suggests that McCain-Feingold was interested in incumbent protection, I don't really think you're bothering to look carefully.

The power of the incumbency is IMMENSE. Every now and then outsider money allows a challenger to make a serious attempt against that. McCain-Feingold was designed to reduce the effect of outsider money while fully retaining the impact of incumbent directly controlled money.

That is an obvious insider ploy to protect incumbency.

You can dislike the truth, but you can't just pretend it isn't there and the cite troll about it.

First, there is a huge difference between thinking that something is 'no problem' and thinking that the proposed methods of dealing with it are worse than the problem.

But do you think money is too influencial in American politics, particularly in elections, or not? If so, do you see any way to reduce the said influence of money that does not run afoul of our constitution?

influencial? Is that the Catalan spelling, I wonder?

You can dislike the truth, but you can't just pretend it isn't there and the cite troll about it.

I think I prefer a Jack Benny impersonation to a Jack Nicholson one.

LJ, just pointing out that something is perfectly capable of being novel in the context of the US while being routinely practiced in some other developed nation. While bringing home the point that something being done in Japan isn't reason to do it here.

We could implement a system where coerced confessions were admissible in courts, and while that wouldn't be novel everywhere, it would still be fair to say, in the context of US law that it was "novel".

Haha, yeah, that would certainly be novel,, if Americans could be convicted and executed on the basis of coerced confessions.

If there is anything in my statement that says 'wow, they do this in Japan, so they should do it in the US', you are welcome to point it out. To point out that a blackout is the normal state of affairs in other countries, which may be why it may have worked its way into the bill during the 7 year development, seemed like something to discuss rather than to be threatened by. Are you always this scared of new things?

It would certainly be novel if someone were to assert in court that it was an acceptable and routine part of the justice system, like plea bargaining, rather than an abuse.

(Which is not to suggest that I don't think the way plea bargaining is currently used isn't an abuse itself. Just not a novel abuse, unfortunately.)

That is an obvious insider ploy to protect incumbency.

I must have missed that in the Congressional testimony. However, I can only observe that this rather conspiratorial line of thinking is dangerously near the Bellmore Line where politicians are magically transformed into a distinct "social class" whose interests are diametrically opposed to those poor saps who elected them.

Respectfully,
one of the "you of all people"

It would certainly be novel if someone were to assert in court that it was an acceptable and routine part of the justice system, like plea bargaining, rather than an abuse.

I've been involved with support groups for some of these cases and I haven't seen any Japanese court describe coerced confessions as "acceptable" or "routine". They do justify them with various points and basically turn a blind eye to it, though there is an active movement to raise the issue, and the Japan Bar Association made a film in Japanese with English subtitles entitled "Presumed Guilty Creating False Confessions".

Of course, one of the reasons that the legal system here refuses to crack down on this problem is the same reason that Scalia claims that there has never been a capital execution where the person wasn't guilty: because Scalia, like the legal system in Japan, feel that to question the work of the justice system is to undermine it. So even when you are trying to squirm around with your use of 'novel', you can't even figure out what is novel or not about the Japanese legal system. You might want to think about the first rule of holes.

think that there's no problem with the fact that Exxon Mobil or Walmart can freely place all of its fortune into campaign financing, literally drowning out people who aren't motivated by large multinational corporate profit.

Let me know when any for-profit corp places 'all of its fortune' into an election.

To point out that a blackout is the normal state of affairs in other countries

LJ, there are a lot of things that are normal in other countries that Americans won't go for. I have a major issue with blackouts: they leave what gets said in the critical run up to election day to the established media and the two candidates.

While I am sure very few here see any kind of MSM bias in favor of Democrats, others see it differently. If stories are planted in the media during the blackout by one party and the only party that can respond is the party accused, there is a fatal imbalance that can swing elections. I'll go with the free flow of information.

McTx: Let me know when any for-profit corp places 'all of its fortune' into an election.

Right, why would they do that when they can drown everyone else out by doing less than that?

To take one example, Microsoft's market cap is ~$245B. If "it" decided it needed to throw $1B into the presidential election, it could do so via a stock offering worth a little more than 0.4% of its current market cap.

MSFT too extraordinary for you? Then consider that Company X, with a market cap of 0.1% of Microsoft's, could throw $1M into a campaign, again at a 0.4% cost of Company X's market cap.

It seems to me that this is not a good state of affairs for Democracy in America. Consider also that two of the largest companies by market cap (if Wiki is to be believed) in the world are...Chinese state owned corporations.

Not that there's anything wrong with Chinese state owned corporations spending $1B on the U.S. presidential election, mind you, the 1st A. not being limited to U.S. individuals/entities/zombies, after all.

If stories are planted in the media during the blackout by one party and the only party that can respond is the party accused, there is a fatal imbalance that can swing elections.

The current state of affairs where, e.g., the Republican Party can accuse John Kerry of having faked his war injuries; and then a dozen PACs can run commercials in every break ALSO accusing John Kerry of having faked his war injuries; and TEH LIBERAL MEDIA doesn't challenge any of them on it and rather books Republican after Republican on all the Sunday shows to discuss whether John Kerry faked his was injuries and how this is going to hurt him, is so much better.

You're aware that the Kerry campaign took place under pre-Citizens United rules?

Yes, which is why my comment contains neither the words "Citizens" nor "United."

It seems to me that this is not a good state of affairs for Democracy in America.

Nor is having the feds determine who can say what and when they can say it. McCain Feingold was gross over-reach. Its proponents didn't even try to mitigate or limit its reach.

LJ, there are a lot of things that are normal in other countries that Americans won't go for.

While I appreciate the absence of Bellmorian 'gee, but what about Japanese crimes against their people', I made no assertion about what Americans will or will not go for. I merely pointed out that other countries make use of a blackout. Perhaps someone whose google-fu is better than mine can say if it was in the initial stages of the bill or a later addition. Perhaps someone could say where they got the idea from. Hell, they might have gotten it from the NFL. But Brett's reflexive entry suggests that he's never really even thought about it, he's been told it is bad by some conservative talking head and is too chicken to actually talk about it.

Let me know when any for-profit corp places 'all of its fortune' into an election.

McKinney? Oh, I had you confused with Slart.

McCain Feingold was gross over-reach. Its proponents didn't even try to mitigate or limit its reach.

Oh, the horror: to have to segregate political action funds!

Not that there's anything wrong with Chinese state owned corporations spending $1B on the U.S. presidential election, mind you, the 1st A. not being limited to U.S. individuals/entities/zombies, after all.

Thanks, Ugh. You are on fire on this thread!

Chinese billions? Now that's stimulative.

Chinese billions? Now that's stimulative.

To China, where the robocalls, no doubt, would originate.

Nothing wrong with the Chinese having a jobs program, mind you. I'd just prefer that it not be spent to elect members of the United States legislative and executive branches.

"But Brett's reflexive entry suggests that he's never really even thought about it, he's been told it is bad by some conservative talking head and is too chicken to actually talk about it."

I can't have thought about it, just because I don't agree with you?

Look, regulations of how people trying to unseat incumbents may proceed with that effort represent a profound conflict of interest for incumbents. Mind bogglingly vast.

Are there issues here with the distortion of public discourse by inequalities of wealth? Sure. You want to substitute instead the distortions of public discourse created by the inequality of power to regulate between incumbents and challengers? And more importantly, between both, and everybody else?

Like hell. For all the blather about drowning out, the NYT, which may spend ten thousand times more on political propaganda on any given day than I can afford in a lifetime, can't silence me. The government, if permitted by the courts, can.

And, as a life member of the NRA, tried to.

I can't have thought about it, just because I don't agree with you?

Interesting, I haven't stated what I agree or disagree with, so your mindreading cap maintains its average.

The evidence from your comments suggests that you haven't thought about it, because if you had, you wouldn't have used the word 'novel', when called on it, you wouldn't have made some claim about novelty being a word defined by what happens in the US and you wouldn't have gone to google to find out what problem in Japan you could bleat about as a response.

LJ, let's recap:

Sebastian: "Sapient, McCain Feingold was the departure from settled Constitutional law."

Bobbyp: "Previous Supreme Court rulings, extant federal legislation, and state laws going back 100 years notwithstanding?"

Sebastian: "The idea that you could restrict political communication a month before an election was rather novel, yes, bobbyp."

Sapient: "This isn't true. See Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce which was overruled by Citizens United. It has long been recognized that corporate money corrupts the political process."

Finally, me: "Austen, following that link, does not appear to have involved the sort of gag period right around elections which made McCain/Feingold offensive in a novel way."

And, then you: "It is not really all that novel, here in Japan,"

And here we are, recap over, and again I say to you, in the context of 100 years of AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, (Which is the context this came up in.) the idea of a gag period around elections damned well is "novel", no matter what they may be doing in other nations with lousy protection of political speech.

Yes, that's why you felt compelled to claim that every other country in the world has 'lousy protection for freedom of speech' and had to google a claim about Japanese coerced confessions. Sorr for striking that nerve. I don't expect you to admit that you just never looked at this from a different perspective, but it might make you think twice before you comment with your broad brush. Hope springs eternal.

"Yes, that's why you felt compelled to claim that every other country in the world has 'lousy protection for freedom of speech'"

I'll sobbingly retract that absurd claim, if you can point to where I ever made it. It would not shock me at all to find that one or more other countries have as good as, or better, protection of political speech than the US. It is, none the less, conspicuously true that a lot of otherwise 'liberal' democracies do not.

I routinely read news articles about people being prosecuted for political speech of the sort which would be subject to absolute protection in the US. Perhaps you think it's a good thing that people can be prosecuted for speaking their mind. I don't.

Sayeth Brett
That it's not novel in countries with lousy protection for freedom of speech is basically irrelevant.

Japan, Australia, Canada, the UK, France. Poster children for no free speech rights. You should start learning some Chinese phrases, cause I suspect your next move is to do the partitive grammar parsing and that where your hole digging will take you. Though I am hoping you can explain the causal link between a blackout before the election and coerced confessions. I mean, you wouldn't have brought it up if it weren't relevant, would you.

I might have been inclined to take this last squirm as a cue to say 'gee, you didn't say every country, sorry about that', and give you a little space, but the whole tenor of your tone is that America has the greatest freedom of speech in the world and every other country just can't match it. So the 'it would not shock me at all' move is about 3 comments too late. Besides, throwing up the crap about coerced confessions in Japan is such a bush league arguing tactic that the only slack you deserve is to make sure you have enough rope to hoist your own petard.

I routinely read news articles about people being prosecuted for political speech of the sort which would be subject to absolute protection in the US.

I'm sure you do, and I imagine a lot of them are like the classic children's books being destroyed because of the dastardly EPA. Given that you have no cites, I have to go with the percentages here.

Perhaps you think it's a good thing that people can be prosecuted for speaking their mind. I don't.

Perhaps you'll stop trying to throw crap up against the wall to see if it sticks. I don't think you will, but one can always hope.

You don't have any idea what I think about this because I've not said anything about it. I'd certainly be interested to discuss with McT why he thinks that Americans are so resistant to the idea or with Sebastian as to where he thinks it occurred in the process of drafting the bill (and how it is something that protects the incumbent, cause I think that it doesn't really), and maybe getting an idea of what practices are like around the world, but you keep rotating feet with every comment, it's hard to take my eyes off of you making an idiot of yourself.

"Japan, Australia, Canada, the UK, France. Poster children for no free speech rights."

Compared to the US? Yes, absolutely poster children for worse free speech rights. I'm starting to think putting words in my mouth, like that "every" or "no", is SOP for you.

You really need a cites for political speech prosecutions in Europe? Maybe they didn't report on the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_Geert_Wilders>Geert Wilders trial in Japan?

And I in fact did provide a cite for the http://overlawyered.com/2009/02/cpsia-and-vintage-books/>destruction of childrens' books due to the EPA.

And I provided the Snopes link debunking it. Guess you missed that.

And Geert Wilders was acquitted, wasn't he? I realize they might not have said that on vdare.com. Keep on squirming.

Yes, Geert Wilders was acquitted, after going through a tough and expensive trial he never would have faced in the US. As I have noted before, the power to subject somebody to prosecution and trial, even if foredoomed, (Which the Wilders prosecution scarcely was.) is equivalent to the power to levy a very substantial fine, ruinous for most people.

and, from Snopes:

"Of course, vendors of second-hand products still face the quandary that even though the CPSC has stated that they are exempt from the testing and certification requirements of the CPSIA, they still have to ensure that the items they sell meet the new standards for lead and phthalate content. Some vendors have responded by discarding inventory from classes of items they are unsure about, keeping track of recall notices, and contacting the original suppliers or manufacturers:"

Falls rather remarkably short of a genuine debunking. The destruction did take place after all.

My son had some exploding pop-up books when he was a kid.

I refuse to get rid of them, figuring they'll be handy as roadside bombs in the coming apocalypse.

I read once that evangelicals in Tennessee succeeded in getting some books banned in the middle schools that portrayed Mommy and Daddy as Muslim lesbians on Medicaid, so the school district offered to defuse the situation, successfully as it turns out, by having the books republicanized and anti-EPA-ed by including color illustrations infused with lead and arsenic and offering free cop-killer bullets for the asking at the school library's reference desk.

They also moved the dewey decimal five spaces to the right on the Overton Window overlooking Dealey Plaza.

Compromise IS possible in America.

lj wrote:

"Though I am hoping you can explain the causal link between a blackout before the election and coerced confessions."

Given that the law is increasingly an ass, I fell uniquely qualified to offer this further compromise.

The Supreme Court should find torture to coerce confessions from American liberals accused of terrorism constitutional because torture is a tax, not a penalty, under the Commerce Clause (water and boards and batteries and cables do cross state lines), ipso fatso corporations are your in-laws who should butt out for periods of time (we'll call it a blackout) for the purposes of family comity, and Mitt Romney and every other Republican may then declare all taxes to be torture AND a penalty (ipso wayfatso reverso) and legislate accordingly, to be upheld by the Supreme Court.

Everybody's happy. Well, Mitt Romney, anyway. He can bring his money home from Switzerland and Barbados and put it into venture capital torture centers franchised for the savvy entrepreneur and with low overhead and labor costs (the receptionists could double as in-house torquemadas and mop up afterwards)

Any questions, Judge Thomas?

Make a sign, any kind of sign.

In other news, Mitt Romney the other day visited with the NAACP, like a snow white with testicles, in the immortal words of the late Rush Limbaugh (he was fatally blown up by an exploding children's book, perfectly legal, placed under his limousine) and after exchanging awkward funky handshakes with his betters on the dias and wondering out loud who let the dogs out and woofing several times too many into the silence laying like a low-pressure zone over the assembled communists, he promised to rescind the Emancipation Proclamation to lower pesky labor costs for two-thirds Americans.

Then he stepped into full view beside the podium and proceeded to break dance in the fashion of Mitt does Billy Crystal does Sammy Davis Junior, nailing the dismount with his head firmly up Upchuck Vomitson's Confederate fundament, while Republican supporters seeded throughout the hall lynched effigies of Medgar Evers from the rafters, who many thought should have been shot in the first place, according to Romney, who wouldn't reveal names.

This morning, he denied lying on his SEC paperwork regarding his role at Bain Capital and when informed such an act, if true, was a felony, he had an aide make a note to defund the SEC as his SECOND deed as President and told the NCAAP that if they want free medical care for their pickaninnies from the government, then go vote for the other two-thirds of a guy, if you can produce ID, which you won't be able to, the polling places in South Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Lesotho having been moved more times on election day than a Zimbabwean taxi.

He then boasted that his IRA somehow became worth over a $100 million bucks in just a few years while giving a noogie to a guy standing in line for unemployment and joshing with HIM" "I'll bet you can't say that. Say, you ought to open a healthcare savings account for those chronic life-threatening moments in life," and then doubled over in a full knee-slapping wheeze like a Steve Martin character.

No, he laughed a mirthless 16-ha haha, each ha a report like a gunshot, which startled Wayne LaPierre and Rick Perry into a musical rendition of "Shoot The Coyote and You Know Who We Mean".

Choose an ending.


Count, you missed describing the award the ACLU gives to Brett as 'Defender of the Faith'. It's a lifesize statue of Geert Wilders throwing copies of the Koran on a life-like flame and it is made of gold The statue's cost was covered in full because everyone who bought a pre-1985 book in the past 2 years for their child chipped in some money. That's why Amazon is so much cheaper.

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