Patterico's Pontifications

11/21/2011

Purveyor of Corporate Expression Calls for Limits on Corporate Expression (Update: Ashford Takes Me Out of Context)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:23 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing.  Follow me by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: Btw, over at Seventh Sense, Ken Ashford is taking me out of context.  Given that I had already corrected a commenter here for taking me out of context in the exact same way, I can safely say that Ashford’s deception is deliberate.

From the first days after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United came down there has been a certain irony in many of the denunciations of that decision.  As you recall, that decision involved a film called Hillary: The Movie, a documentary that by all descriptions came off as a long infomercial against choosing the Secretary of State to be in any higher office greater than dog catcher.  Even though it was obviously political expression—indeed precisely because it was political expression—the FEC said that Citizens United could not air ads promoting its movie for pretty much the entire primary season.  Citizens United challenged this holding all the way to the Supreme Court which resulted in the Court striking down virtually all limits on corporate expression in an election.

So right from the beginning there was a certain irony among certain voices who denounced the decision, which I think I captured well in this old passage from my old blog (language warning at the link):

On January 23, the New York Times denounced the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. F.E.C., stating that “the court[] … has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials.” In a twist worthy of Monty Python and the Life of Brian, this editorial was unsigned, representing the voice of the New York Times Co., itself a corporation. It amounted to “this corporation says that no corporation has a right to free expression.”

Next I suppose the entire staff will gather together and chant, in unison, “we are all individuals.”

The irony is less rich, then, that we get version 10.0 of these critiques from Scott Turow.  He has indeed not only profited from corporate expression, being the author of books ranging from One-L, a nonfiction book detailing life at Harvard Law School in the 1970’s (think The Paper Chase without the silly romance and much more about the nuts and bolts of law school), to his breakout hit Presumed Innocent.  Each of these books, including his latest, have been published by—gasp!—corporations or similar structures, and yet he sees corporate expression as an anathema to the republic that should be rallying cry of the Occupy movement:

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A Very Special Message from Occupy Wall Street Hero Jesse LaGreca

Filed under: Brett Kimberlin,General,Velvet Revolution — Patterico @ 12:01 am

Famously Articulate Folk Hero Jesse LaGreca talks about his Very Sincere Opposition to Criminality, and how he Proudly Stands with an organization co-founded by a convicted bomber who blew off a man’s leg, leading him to commit suicide:

OK, so, my name’s Jesse LaGreca and I’m really proud to be here speaking out about Occupy Accountability, about the rule of law. I am standing with Velvet Revolution, I’m standing with a lot of honorable people who care about this country, and I firmly believe that without accountability, we are only faced with criminality. So if we want to be the people who move this country forward, who have an honest conversation about our future, we can’t look back on the past. We can’t say the past is behind us and we have to look forward. We have to do both. We have to make sure that justices are handed out [sic] for criminality in the past. We have to make a plan that goes forward, so that we have a viable future for the majority of people in this country. So I’d like to say thank you to everybody at Occupy Accountability, at Occupy Wall Street, and at Velvet Revolution, because it’s an honor to speak out along with you, and I think together we can get this done.

Who is behind Velvet Revolution, the organization that Jesse LaGreca is so proud to stand with? According to TIME Magazine, the organization was founded by a group including convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin:

Brett Kimberlin was convicted in 1981 of a series of bombings in Indiana. By his own account, he dealt “many, many tons” of marijuana in the 1970s. Most famously, he is the man who from his prison cell alleged that as a law student Dan Quayle bought marijuana from him. Quayle repeatedly denied the charge, and it was never substantiated. In e-mails and Web postings from Kimberlin’s two organizations, Justice Through Music and Velvet Revolution, he intersperses occasionally useful pieces of information about the problems of e-voting with a hefty portion of bunk, repeatedly asserting as fact things that are not true.

Fox News explains that the bombings were not politically motivated, but were theorized to have been a distraction from a murder investigation in which Kimberlin was a suspect. And one of the bombs blew a man’s leg off and eventually led to his suicide:

Kimberlin grew up in a suburb of Indianapolis where, just out of high school, he ran a large-scale marijuana operation as well as a health food store and a vegetarian restaurant. According to accounts at the time and public records, he became involved with an underage girl whose grandmother objected to the relationship and tried to take her away. When the grandmother was found shot to death in her garage, police began focusing on Kimberlin, who — possibly to divert attention — began an eight-day bombing campaign in Speedway, Ind.

That bombing spree did more than cause widespread terror in Speedway; it severely injured a man who had to have his leg amputated and who, unable to cope with the pain, later committed suicide. His widow sued Kimberlin and was awarded a $1.6 million civil judgment.

In the book Citizen K, by Mark Singer, it is revealed that Kimberlin declared his intent never to pay that judgment. He was reportedly thrilled when he learned about an Indiana law that supposedly made a civil judgment uncollectable if not enforced within a specific period of time. If the book is accurate, Kimberlin evaded the rule of law long enough to avoid paying the victims of his violent actions.

An observation in 1995 (1995!) by the Washington Times remains true today:

[T]hose who have befriended and promoted Kimberlin should be ashamed. Kimberlin committed a truly monstrous crime. He planted a bomb in a high school parking lot on game day -an act that was random, brutal and targeted at children. It is a testament to the viciousness of Washington politics that such a man has been embraced by some in the firmament of the Democratic establishment.

Indeed.

Will someone ask Famously Articulate Folk Hero Jesse LaGreca about his support for the organization co-founded by convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin? Will Jesse LaGreca demand “justices” for Kimberlin’s past criminality?

P.S. It looks like the folks behind Velvet Revolution’s Occupy Accountability web site are none too happy with Yours Truly. Apparently I am listed as one of the “Media Mouthpieces” who are responsible for the “destruction of the American way of life.”

Dude.

So you know I gotta be a pretty bad guy. Fair warning.

The EU Reduces Itself to Absurdity

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:00 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

What can you say about this, except to quote from the article?

EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.

Last night, critics claimed the EU was at odds with both science and common sense. Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said: “This is stupidity writ large.

“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true.

“If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project then this is it.”

Well, with respect to Mr. Helmer, I think this kind of idiocy is inherent in bureaucracies generally.  I mean let’s not engage in selective realism where we pretend that only governmental bureaucracies are that stupid—and certainly it is not limited to the EU.  No, stupidity, arbitrariness, unfairness, etc. appears in bureaucracies of all kinds, from the smallest small town government, to the largest corporations, and so on.

What makes the flaws of government bureaucracies worse than business bureaucracies is simply this: with a dumb business it is easy to go somewhere else.  If you get bad service at a restaurant, go somewhere else.  If your boss doesn’t appreciate your hard work, quit and go to a new company; or just start one of your own.  I am not saying that all of these options are necessarily easy, but they are options.

Government, on the other hand, is hard to escape.  And the bigger the government the harder it becomes.  When the Federal Government takes over an area of life—like healthcare—and it stinks at it in some way, you have to actually leave the United States in order to get away from it.  And if the EU puts out a pinheaded regulation, you have to just about leave the continent to get away from them.  And while you hear of various companies supposedly being “too big to fail” those private companies have nothing on a government and the disruption they cause when they fail.  Look at the global mess created by Greece, for instance.

By the way, in case you think this might be an isolated incident, there is this from the same article:

EU regulations, which aim to uphold food standards across member states, are frequently criticised.

Rules banning bent bananas and curved cucumbers were scrapped in 2008 after causing international ridicule.

Bureaucracies are stupid.  A government bureaucracy should be kept small as small as reasonably possible, so the amount of stupid things it does and the damage it does can be minimized.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]


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