Patterico's Pontifications


McCain Clueless on Impact of McCain/Feingold

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Morons — Patterico @ 10:06 pm

Oh, Lord. John McCain doesn’t even know what his own law is doing.

Paul from Power Line reports on a dinner he and about 40 others had with John McCain. Here’s what I found interesting:

I asked Senator McCain about the impact of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act on bloggers. He replied that he wanted no government regulation of the internet. I followed-up, politely I hope, by noting that a court decision in litigation undertaken in his name was serving as the basis for proposals to regulate the bloggers. McCain responded that he was not aware that the litigation had raised the prospect of internet regulation, and that he would look into the matter. He then reaffirmed that there should be absolutely no regulation of the internet in the name of McCain-Feingold or campaign finance reform.

The whole purpose of the litigation in question was to reverse the FEC’s exemption of the Internet from regulation under the BCRA. McCain and Feingold both supported the litigation, which resulted in a decision overturning the FEC and setting the stage for FEC regulation of the Internet.

McCain and Feingold were clearly aware of the purpose of the litigation. After a former FEC commissioner warned of the prospect that blogs could be regulated, McCain and Feingold issued a joint statement saying that, while the Internet would be regulated, speech by private citizens on the Internet would (supposedly) not be. Russ Feingold even blogged about it.

In light of this history, it’s an odd statement — to say the least — for McCain to claim that he “was not aware that the litigation had raised the prospect of internet regulation.” Even the prospect? And Sen. McCain believes that there should be absolutely no regulation of the Internet under McCain/Feingold?

This is so far off base that either Paul must have quoted McCain inaccurately, or McCain is the biggest space cadet on the planet.

UPDATE: Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the link, and welcome to Michelle’s readers. The main page is here; I hope you’ll bookmark it and return often.

UPDATE x2: Bloggers interested in this issue should consider taking my free speech pledge. If you’re interested, e-mail me at patterico AT patterico DOT com and send me the link to your blog post that takes the pledge.

UPDATE x3: Paul at PowerLine reacts to my post, and says that McCain clearly meant “bloggers” when he said “Internet”:

I was not taking notes while McCain spoke, so I couldn’t quote him verbatim, and did not purport to. That said, I have no doubt that McCain stated twice that he opposed government regulation of the internet under McCain-Feingold. However, in the context of my question, which was about bloggers specifically, McCain may well have meant, more precisely, that he opposed regulation of bloggers.

As to his lawsuit, it is clear to me that McCain did not understand the potential impact on bloggers of the judge’s decision. Indeed, he was candid enough to admit this, after several leading journalists confirmed my statement that the ruling in his case opened the door to possible regulation of bloggers. However, I don’t think the Senator intended to convey that he was unaware that his lawsuit had implications for the internet. I believe it was a case of him using the word internet when he meant bloggers, and I should have said so in my report.

Finally, having listened to Senator McCain answer questions on a wide range of subjects for about an hour at the end of a very long day, I can say for certain that he is no space cadet.

This makes a little more sense to me; it would be simply bizarre for McCain to claim that he had no idea that the litigation would raise the prospect of regulating the Internet.

But even if it is taken as referring only to bloggers, it still seems like an odd statement. I could understand if McCain had said that he had heard some people say that the legislation would impact bloggers, but he disagreed. But to say that he was not even aware that the litigation had raised that prospect — I’m sorry, but I find that astounding.

Please tell me: am I wrong about this??

P.S. By the way, I didn’t mean to claim that Paul was quoting McCain verbatim. This should have been clear from the context. My post above fully quotes the relevant portion of Paul’s post, which obviously paraphrased McCain’s comments and did not contain quotation marks around McCain’s statements. My use of quotation marks later in the post was to show that I was again quoting Paul’s post. Hopefully nobody was misled; again, I think the context makes it clear. But I thought I should add this postscript, just in case it wasn’t.

67 Responses to “McCain Clueless on Impact of McCain/Feingold”

  1. Of course he doesn’t. He’s actually in violation of it currently.

    Angry Clam (a7c6b1)

  2. Or perhaps McCain is taking refuge in some sort of Clintonian parsing of “regulation of the internet”.

    I’ve been amazed from the beginning by McCain’s and other’s cramming this monstrosity designed to limit specifically political speech during elections down our throats.

    They are either stupid or mendacious. Pick one.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  3. Dwilkers, in the spirit of the MSM beloved “straight-talk express”: They’re not stupid. And “mendacious” isn’t straight-talk. In this instance, they are liars, demonstrably.

    Please note that I do not, and would never, say that they are liars generally. I do not necessarily believe they lie even half of the time. Not necessarily.

    Levans (8eaecc)

  4. This sort of bewilderment is precisely why I don’t think McCain will run for President in 2008, and if he does he will lose.

    Neo (47991a)

  5. Re: #2

    “They are either stupid or mendacious. Pick one.”

    They aren’t stupid, at least not in the usual sense. McCain knows what he’s doing, he wants to limit free speech around elections so that information can be shaped and filtered by MSM. They love him, for now, and he’s throwing them a very large bone.

    McCain knows they will turn their backs on him if he runs against a big name Democrat. So, with the gift that keeps on giving he hopes to buy their loyalty and support. After all, no Democrat could ever deliver such an unimaginable boon to MSM.

    It’s purely political. One hand washing the other for mutual benefit. Politics can be defined as deciding who gets what. McCain wants to sit in the Oval Office, and MSM wants exclusive authority to tell all the little people what to think and how to vote. Very cozy indeed, and my pick is: Mendacity, writ large.

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  6. Patterico:


    So, either Paul quoted McCain inaccurately or McCain is just stupid?

    Sorry, I know that it is far safer to attribute to foolishness that which is most commonly attributed to knavery, but in this case, it seems to me that you’ve left out a very obvious possibility:

    That John McCain was simply lying to Paul’s face.

    It is striking to me how many folks somehow seem to feel that John McCain is a politician apart, as though he would not engage in the same blatant lies and misrepresentations that all politicians (from Dubya to Kerry, from Reagan to FDR) do as a matter of course.

    The man undoubtedly proved his courage in Vietnamese prison camps. But politicians (and others) somehow are unable to muster the level of courage viz. their constituents and their own ambitions that they have often proven to have in the face of the enemy.

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  7. More Mendacity Writ Large:

    Dan Rather’s attempt to use forged memos to bash President Bush and throw a presidential election has inspired imitation. Tim Russart put Jefferson Parish President, Arron Brousard on “Meet the Press” to cry crocodile tears and tell the sad story of a poor woman who called her son for help, was told help was on the way day after day, and eventually drowned.

    Brousard really played it up, faked tears and emotional distress as he blamed President Bush for the tragedy. He was in fine form, moaning and weeping, torn with compassion, conflicted by anger and grief. It was melodrama, pure melodrama. And, it was all as fake as Sam Donnaldson’s wig hat.

    The woman actually died on the day Katrina hit NOLA, not days later like Brousard said. The poor woman’s death was used in a well orchestrated effort to lay blame on the federal government in general and on President Push in particular. Brought to you curtesy of Tim Russart and MSM.

    Tim Russart gave Arron Brousard a notional platform to kickoff the effort to blame President Bush for the NOLA disaster. It was a put-up job, every bit as deceitful as Dan Rather’s phony tale. The only difference is that Tim Russart learned to keep a little more distance than ol Dan did. Plausible deniability, don’t you know.

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  8. “The whole purpose of the litigation in question was to reverse the FEC’s exemption of the Internet from regulation under the BCRA.”

    What a lie that is. How naive. The law was passeed to prenvent millionaires from buying our government (looks like it happened anyway though).

    My grandfather got out of politics saying that you couldn’t be honest and a politician at the samer time. Why? Because of making promises in order to take money from special interests.

    You like prostitute politicians, do you?

    Tillman (1cf529)

  9. Tillman,

    Take a deep breath, and then read what I wrote again. I wasn’t talking about the reason the law was passed. I was talking about the litigation, which explicitly sought to reverse the FEC’s decision not to regulate the Internet under the BCRA.

    Patterico (8d8014)

  10. Patterico, I’m not sure why you’re carping about this in the first place unless you are just smearing McCain or the McCain/Feingold law.

    I think that left and right want private blogs should to be exempt – it’s bipartisan as far as I can determine.

    But I do know that republicans, by and large, disagree with campaign finance regulation. So it sounds like a smear on both McCain and the law.

    What would you do to prevent the sale of our government to the highest bidder then?

    “We have the best politicians that money can buy” – Will Rogers

    Tillman (1cf529)

  11. Tillman, you called me a liar, based on a misreading of my post, and I don’t appreciate that. If you want to have a civil discussion, the least you should do is apologize for that. If you can’t do that, I have nothing to say to you.

    Patterico (8d8014)

  12. I see little difference in “littigation” and a law. Your statement was very misleading at best.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  13. …or McCain is the biggest space cadet on the planet.

    Well, he does bear a resemblance to the guy who portrays Colonel Tigh on Battlestar Galactica. Maybe McCain is getting a little confused about who he really is?

    I’m just sayin’…

    rjlippincott (30e043)

  14. Tillman,
    if one is going to disagree well and good, even if one is not actually arguing against what was said;
    but don’t think it’s a bit adolescent to get smarmy about it too?

    litigation – a legal proceeding in a court; a judicial contest to determine and enforce legal rights

    think – To exercise the power of reason

    Michael (574da4)

  15. oops…. digital interface errors: corrections below…

    If one is going to disagree, well and good, even if one is not actually arguing against what was said; but don’t you think it’s a bit adolescent to get smarmy about it too?

    To help out all…. from Free Dictionary:

    litigation – a legal proceeding in a court; a judicial contest to determine and enforce legal rights (the most common usage)

    think – To exercise the power of reason

    Michael (574da4)

  16. Tillman, what part of “Congress shall make no law . . . ” do you not understand? The McCain Feingold Incumbent Protection Act, ostensibly for the purpose of getting money out of our political system (and I have a bridge for sale . . .), actually is for the purpose of preventing incumbents from any meaningful challenge, thereby rendering the job of Representative or Senator lifetime employment, or nearly so. This is pretty obvious, particularly when coupled with the prevalence of partisan gerrymandering (not new, but worse than ever). The First Amendment not only guarantees that government won’t censor speech, it also guarantees that the government won’t impede a speaker’s access to a forum — whether that be an actual “assembly” (it’s no accident that the First Amendment contains both the free speech guarantee and the freedom of assembly guarantee), or access to the airwaves, internet bandwidth, or whatever. If the forum is one (as they generally are today) which is accessable only to those who have funds to pay for airtime, bandwidth and the services needed to utilize them, then the government’s attempt at impeding the expenditure of those funds is an abridgment of freedom of speech and a denial of the freedom of assembly. And you don’t need a living constitution to arrive at that (correct) conclusion; you only need to construe the actual language of the Constitution in the manner contemplated by the founders and utilized by Chief Justice John Marshall in the first case confirming the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review. Hopefully, the Roberts’ court will soon reverse the abomination that is the 2003 McConnell case, stare decisis be damned when the existing decision is just plain wrong.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  17. I see little difference in “littigation” and a law. Your statement was very misleading at best.

    As a previous commenter suggested, Tillman, next time you should consult a dictionary before you shoot your mouth off like this and embarrass yourself again.

    That’s “litigation” without the double “t” — just to help you look it up.

    Since your previous comments refute themselves, and since you’re unwilling to admit clear error, you aren’t worth any more of my time. Yap away as you like, and good day to you.

    Patterico (5b1f87)

  18. TNuget, I understand that litigation is basically the enforcement of a law, so you condescension is misplaced. What I disagree with is making it sound as though McCain’s main intention was to outlaw political blogs authored by individuals.

    You guys are really kidding yourselves if you think you have a voice in government if you can’t donate $10,000 or more to a congressman (or other federal government official). Your talk of free $peech is laughable.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  19. You’re right, Tillman.

    The problem is that CFR laws also make it illegal for me, and my pals, to get together and pool our $25 or whatever into that $10k to buy access.

    Those pools are called things like the NRA, Greenpeace, AARP, Focus on the Family, and the like.

    CFR actually hurts democracy, by preventing the effective concerted advocacy of like-minded individuals.

    Angry Clam (a7c6b1)

  20. Oh and BTW TNuget, what’s your solution then? The highest bidder gets to buy the presidency? What law should be passed?

    (I can’t believe I’ve been criticized for a spelling error by this blog’s author. How lame.)

    [No, I’m trying to help you locate a word in the dictionary that you are obviously unfamilar with — because if you’re familiar with it, then you lied when you called me a liar. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume you’re ignorant; hence, the help. — Patterico]

    Tillman (1cf529)

  21. Angry Clam: So congressmen are so stupid they won’t listen to their constituents? And legal bribes are the only solution for that? How sad…

    Tillman (1cf529)

  22. Tillman, my comment to you wasn’t intended to be condescending, but rather was intended to emphatically point out the very fundamental quetion raised by what amounts to a regulation of speech and access to forums for the purpose of political speech. I didn’t comment on your misstatement regarding litigation. By the way, litigation is not enforcement of law, but the process by which cases and controversies arising under our laws are resolved — think about it: legislative department makes laws, executive department enforces laws, and judicial department decides cases under the laws. That’s high school civics if not even more basic, but I’ll assume that you understand that and your misuse of “enforcement” was inadvertent rather than a product of ignorance.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  23. Tillman, no one’s suggesting auctioning off elected offices. But eviscerating the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly exactly where they are most important to our system is not the way to eliminate improper influence in our system. If you think about this even a little bit, it’s apparent that McCain-Feingold’s application to the internet will have the effect of erecting a legal barrier to forum access, just as technology has all but eliminated the financial ones. In other words, now that the little guy can make his voice heard, career politicians have decided that the risks that development poses for them and their status as incumbents is intolerable. If access to the inexpensive forum (the internet) is impeded, only those who can afford the more expensive forums (broadcast TV, CATV) will be heard. Is that what you want?

    TNugent (6128b4)

  24. TNuget, your strained, technical diatribe still fails to point out that giving money to politicians and creating political web pages are two very different things. If the law (or litigation) fails to make that distinction, then there is a problem with the law (or litigation) and not the general idea that political bribes cause corruption. You are apparently very proud of your intellect, so please – enlighten me. What’s the solution then?

    Tillman (1cf529)

  25. Regardless of whether there is a “solution” to the “problem” of free citizens using their own money or to inform others of their opinions or to support the continued forum access of those whose opinions they share, including an opinion that challenger x is better than incumbent y (which is essentially the “problem” that McCain-Feingold seeks to solve), the act of Congress in passing McCain-Feingold conflicts with First Amendment guarantees. Chew on this one: maybe there’s no solution to that problem that our limited government of laws can provide. If that’s true, and we nevertheless use our government to solve that problem, then do we still have a limited government of laws, or somthing else?

    TNugent (6128b4)

  26. TNugent,

    Is your first name “Ted”?

    Either way, this Tillman guy isn’t worth your time. He 1) carelessly accuses others of lying when they’re not, 2) won’t admit when he’s wrong, and 3) is unfamiliar with basic English words (like “litigation”) that most citizens (including high-schoolers) understand.

    That’s three strikes.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  27. TNuget, you talk as if there is no problem then. What if I am a billionaire and give three million dollars to president Bush for some political favors. I want a bridge built to nowhere in Alaska (with your tax money). You have no problem with that?

    I see no harm in setting a limit to what a person can give to a candidate, but honestly; don’t we have to draw a line somewhere?

    (Has my spelling improved Patterico?)

    Tillman (1cf529)

  28. So Tillman — I can’t tell from your post — are you agreeing with me that there’s a fundamental problem with McCain-Feingold? I don’t recall anyone defending political bribery in the posts above. And sure, the stated goal of stopping political donors from buying favors is a good one. But you point out (I think it was you) that we already have laws against bribery. McCain-Feingold doesn’t stop there. Rather, it assumes that anyone who spends money to advocate for one candidate or another is doing so in order to buy influence. That’s clearly not the case, and it’s especially not the case with bloggers, most of whom blog because they believe in what they write. They have no expectation of special treatement by lawmakers and most of them don’t even expect that lawmakers will know who they are.

    McCain-Feingold in general, and in particular the extension of McCain-Feingold to the internet, is the sort of creeping overreach that we get when we place an order for too much government. You want me to suggest a solution to the problem of influence? Well, for starters, let’s cut the federal government’s role back to something that’s consistent with its limited role under the Constitution. If it’s not defense, foreign relations, navigable waters or its modern counterpart, airways, or other matters truly affecting interstate commerce, then get the feds out of it. And don’t make laws that tend to centralize public forums, so that all the meaningful ones are large and expensive. When technology gives us the 21st century equivalent of the 18th century proliferation of handbill printers, take the opportunity to reconnect ordinary people to each other on political matters, rather than insisting on passing the information through the filter of mass media. That won’t suit McCain or Feingold — each of them has an ongoing love affair with the mass mainstream media. But their loyalty should be to their constituents, including the average Joe printing and reading electronic handbills. The law they wrote sure is a funny way of showing that loyalty.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  29. Tillman said

    What if I am a billionaire and give three million dollars to president Bush for some political favors. I want a bridge built to nowhere in Alaska (with your tax money). You have no problem with that?

    Please explain what the perceived need for campaign finance reform has to do with the bridge to Alaska’s Gravina Island. The answer is precisely nothing.

    Max (036ae0)

  30. Max, I should have clarified that I meant no connection by that comment on Alaska. It was just the first example I thought of when trying to think of the governemt wasting money.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  31. TNugent – interesting points, now we are really communicating.

    But if there are laws against political bribery, they are ineffective in a lot of circumstances aren’t they? OK, what if I had given the 3 million not to Bush personally, but to a PAC for the republicans. And still got the favor. Isn’t that just a gaping loophole? A political will still pander to their base, right? So to me, that situation is still legal bribery even though the money doesn’t end up in Bush’s pocket.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  32. Patterico, why yes, but not the one you’re thinking of, as far as you know.

    Anyway, I won’t defend Tillman’s calling you a liar, but the other stuff doesn’t bother me. He doesn’t have a lawyer’s understanding of litigation, but we have too many damn lawyers anyway (sadly, too few of them like the late Chief Justice, btw). And as far as him not changing his position (whether or not that amounts to admitting error), well, that remains to be seen, and isn’t that the objective here, or at least one of them?

    Tillman sounds like someone who likes McCain and got his back hairs up in reaction to your original post. I can understand that, even though I generally agree with your post, or at least I think I do. I can’t make up my mind about McCain: is he Darth McCain, or is he just another grandstanding pol who happens to be a genuine war hero whose position on campaign finance reform is being directed through the microchip embedded in his skull? Neither would get him my vote, but there are plenty of people who like and admire him at least partly for his past service, and at least a few of those people might have a hard time accepting that even some of his service as a senator doesn’t live up to his billing as a patriot.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  33. “So Tillman — I can’t tell from your post — are you agreeing with me that there’s a fundamental problem with McCain-Feingold?”

    To answer your question, I honestly don’t know. I’m obviously no attorney. But if it prevents individuals from having political blogs, then I am against the law (or litigation!) in that respect. On the other hand, I’m against a billionaire buying off the government.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  34. Bribery even if it doesn’t end up in Bush’s pocket? Maybe, but what if I don’t really get anything tangible for what I’ve paid? What if I give $3 million to a Republican PAC (and I assume that you’re just as bothered by George Soros’ trying to buy the 2004 election for the Dems — he spent a lot more than $3 million) because I agree with their positions on issues like national security, immigration, etc., and I want them to have resources to get their message out so their candidates stand a better chance of being elected. If I don’t get anything in return other than the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve helped elect leaders who share my philosophy and policy preferences, is it still bribery? Also, if there’s no monetary or other tangible benefit to me, then isn’t this just an example of a market decision — I’ve made a choice based on my preference, and supported the candidate or party of my choice. Sure, there’s potential for abuse, but there’s just as much potential for abuse in having the government prevent me from expressing my preference with a monetary contribution to a candidate’s election campaign. I don’t think the Constitution would prevent the reporting of monetary contributions or of expenditure for political causes, and requiring the reporting is probably enough to fulfill the anti-bribery purpose. What a restriction against donations does, though, is to create legal barriers to entry in the political marketplace. And that favors incumbents. Combine it with political gerrymandering, the already substantial advantage an incumbent has in access to the press, and you start to get the idea that this is not about bribery, but about re-election for as long as an incumbent wants his job. Wanna bet that our elected leaders would still be gung-ho for campaign finance reform if we were to establish term limits?

    TNugent (6128b4)

  35. Tillman,

    It is obvious that you don’t have a clue. Here are the actual words of the First Amendment: “Amendment I – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    The BRCA violates the First Amendment. All limitations on political contributions violate the First Amendment.

    If you are worried about “influence”, then I suggest you support reduction of the Federal Government to its proper size and function. $500 billion a year is quite adequate for that. No one worries about a government that can’t harm them. Since the current government is powerful enough to harm people, then the people want to do everything reasonable to prevent the harm and win benefits.

    There are laws against bribery, and members of Congress can be expelled for accepting bribes should the rest of the membership deem it necessary. If your congress critter has done something wrong, then you should petition the Congress to expel him; and you should form a committee to defeat him at the next election if your petition fails.

    Charles D. Quarles (5d11c1)

  36. I am sympathetic to the objective of McCain-Feingold to ban money from politics. Certainly I would like a political system where money could not buy access to power. Unfortunately, this is a textbook case of the “Law of Unintended Consequences.” I did not notice any significant positive impact of the law during the last election campaign. Instead, it is now being used to restrict the freedom of speech of those it was supposed to protect: the ordinary citizen. Good intentions don’t necessarily equate to good laws.

    Max (036ae0)

  37. Charles (to Tillman): “It is obvious that you don’t have a clue.”

    Gee Charles, that was helpful /sarc off. Sure, the rest of your comment is right, but maybe he’s found his clue. Follow the thread, ok? See Tillman’s last comment. He’s interested enough to comment here, so he probably votes.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  38. Ted, what “got my back up” more than anything was my interpretation of Patterico misrepresenting what McCain/Feingold was about.

    Patterico, if I hurt your pride for saying that you were telling a lie, I apologize. But if you let just anyone comment on your site, you’ll have to develop a tougher skin (am I actually saying this to a lawyer?). At least it wasn’t an ad hominem attack. There will be those too.

    I am a liberal and yet I do like McCain anyway. He seems to try to be honest – I respect him although I don’t always agree with him. If only I could say that about Bush…

    Tillman (1cf529)

  39. He is King McCain. Anyone that would set up his own little mini government of 14 has to be more than a space cadet. He was right on top of the Swifties offending his law. So he doesn’t know about the litigation?

    Please Lord don’t make me sit on my hands.

    owl (e81b90)

  40. Tillman,

    Oh. Well, Patterico pretty much nailed it regarding what McCain-Feingold’s all about, and probably didn’t go far enough. The closer you get to that law, the worse it smells. It is indeed about suppressing political speech, and, surprise surprise, it had big-bucks supporters. Pot, meet Kettle.

    So you’re a liberal. I hope you’re not one of those self-described “liberals” who has little in common with what used to be referred to as liberalism, before socialists, communists and other decidedly illiberal folks commandeered the word (hating George W. Bush doesn’t qualify one as a “liberal”). Check out Robert Jackson was attorney general in FDR’s administration, then a Justice on the Supreme Court, and was one of the prosecutors at the Nuremburg trials after WWII, a determined anti-fascist and anti-communist. Bottom line — Jackson “got it.” The late Chief Justice Rehnquist was Justice Jackson’s clerk once upon a time. For a liberal view on freedom of speech, see Jackson’s opinion in the pledge of allegiance case decided in 1943. It’s eloquent and inspiring, and typical of Jackson’s writing, you don’t have to be a lawyer to understand and appreciate it. It’s almost impossible to imagine a liberal like Jackson voting to uphold a law like McCain-Feingold.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  41. Ted, McCain/Feingold may have had “had big-bucks supporters,” but you’ll have to admit that passing it was not (at least on the face of it) in their own best interest. So to me it isn’t a “Pot, meet kettle” situation.

    All right, so I’ll throw up my hands and say that if you’re rich in this country, you get to have a huge say in government and there’s nothing we can do about it legally. But then this isn’t really a republic – it’s some kind of half-assed aristocracy. And so much for democracy too – it’s just a joke.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  42. Tillman, have you been paying attention at all? This last Presidential campaign saw the largest increase in spending by millionaires ever. People like George Soros spent millions of dollars, with zero accountability, due to McCain-Feingold. If you are really serious when you say you don’t want rich people to control our government, then you should be working night and day to get McCain-Feingold overturned.

    Otherwise you won’t be taken seriously.

    antimedia (1cc5f4)

  43. is there a possiblity that Scott may have misquoted McCain?

    [I said in the post that Paul could have misquoted McCain. (But I think it unlikely.) — Patterico]

    bob (394f6d)

  44. Patterico says John McCain is clueless….

    ….I disagree. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing. He just wants you to think he’s clueless, because if more people really u…

    Media Lies (11ee8e)

  45. antimedia, if you had been paying attention, you would see that I am primarily asking for a solution. I don’t claim to have all the answers, just good questions. (I was a philosophy major.) So I’ll pose the question again: what is the solution then?
    Shrinking the government helps, sure. But there are still massive government contracts to dole out like Haliburton “earns.” So libertarianism isn’t really an answer.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  46. Hmmmm.

    1. “(I was a philosophy major.)”

    For a philosophy major you certainly have a rather casual and blase attitude towards logic and debating points. Seriously now. Litigation and law are the same thing? Litigation is for enforcing the law?

    2. “Ted, McCain/Feingold may have had “had big-bucks supporters,” but you’ll have to admit that passing it was not (at least on the face of it) in their own best interest.”

    On what basis do you make that argument? Do you have any knowledge of McCain and his previous Presidential bids? The effect of the MSM support for McCain, while the Republican base effectively shunned him?

    The entire purpose behind McCain-Feingold is to muzzle those groups and individuals that opposed McCain so successfully before. Look at what groups are specifically exempted, the MSM. Who is the MSM’s darling “maverick”? McCain.

    Frankly I’m not going to bother debating you and I’ll leave that to anyone else who wants to waste their time. If you’re looking to be educated, then say so. If you’re looking to debate someone, find another subject that you actually have some knowledge of.

    ed (c26833)

  47. Tillman sez:

    But if you let just anyone comment on your site . . .

    Apparently, I am. You are living proof.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  48. Tillman,

    You have been given the solution. That you don’t want to accept it speaks volumes. Yes, Tillman, libertarianism is the answer. Shrink the government at all levels down to its proper size and functions and keep it there. Then, you won’t have to worry about “influence”, since it couldn’t hurt you.

    There you go with the Halliburton smear. In case you didn’t realize it, Halliburton is the only American company that does what it does. So would you rather all of those logistics and other contracts exclusively go to foreign firms?

    TNugent, if you are Ted Nugent, I am an admirer of your work. Yes, I was a bit sarcastic…but sometimes you have to give ’em a wake up call.

    Charles D. Quarles (5d11c1)

  49. Patterico – I have to agree with you. I don’t know if McCain is being obtuse or he just doesn’t know what’s going on. I cannot imagine him being clueless. When McCain-Feingold was brought infront of the Supreme Court (and upheld), the dessenting opinion said that the Court’s ruling would bring “outright regulation of the press”.

    Turns out the dissenting position was correct. Earlier this year, KVI-AM radio in Seattle was sued for “failure to disclose in-kind contributions” when two on-air personalities showed their support of Initiative 912. Sighting McCain-Feingold, a judge agreed with the prosecutors (who where staunch opponents of I-912), concluding that KVI’s media time was a campaign contribution and needed to be regulated.

    So the judge’s logic is that since speech has influence, and since influence drives campaigns, and since campaigns use money which is regulated, hence speech needs to be regulated. This is a classic case of guilt by association. This is fine for some, but the problem with associations is that the end result may have nothing to do with what triggered the event. I have a couple of examples showing the illogical nature of associations:

    * A love-song reminds you of your first dance and your first romance, which then reminds you of your first breakup and lots of unhappy memories. When you hear the song, you get depressed. It doesn’t matter what the song is about or who sings it. What matters is how you feel when you hear the song.

    * I know a dog who is afraid of a rolling pin because when the rolling pin is used to roll flour to baking tortillas, the old oven is then turned on; and when the oven smokes up cooking the tortillas, the smoke detector goes off and the dog hates that. But all the dog knows is that the rolling pin somehow makes the smoke detector go off.

    So I don’t think there is a logical reason for this ruling. However, it is becoming apparent that this lawsuit used McCain-Feingold as a weapon to shut to shut down political opposition.

    I hope that McCain is not being obtuse.

    foz (2919f9)

  50. Tillman…sometimes…THERE IS NO SOLUTION. That’s one of the prices we pay to live in a (still)fairly free society.

    Liz (f0bcf8)

  51. McCain is “Straight Talk”. Baloney. He’s lying or clueless, if he wasn’t aware of this litigation. And the idea, that he’ll look into to it is blather from a politician. Here’s Straight Talk for Senator McCain: You’ll never be the GOP nominee for President. You’ve attacked the GOP base for their beliefs too many times. Besides, you don’t have the temperament to be President, you’re far too egotistical, rash and irresponsible.

    Jabba the Tutt (85347b)

  52. #51 — Agreed. John McCain wanting to be the Republican nominee for president is like David Duke wanting to be president of the NAACP.

    V the K (8894aa)

  53. Ed, yes I should have been more careful distinguishing between law and litigation.

    But the reason it is against rich people’s interest to support CFR is that it prevents them from giving loads of money to government officials for buying influence. I realize that McCain/Feingold hasn’t really worked as it should have, but I believe its intention was to prevent influence.

    You are all focusing on McCain; but years ago, I met Sen. Fred Thompson in Nashville who was also a republican and for CFR. (I realize he is no longer a senator. Jeez you guys are hyper-nit-picky. If you backed up against a wall, I swear you’d suck a brick out. Go listen to the Stones for a while or something.) But he claimed that he had to spend so much time going around asking for money that there was little time to get anything else accomplished. He also explained that a lot of other elected officials he talked to conceded that they had the same problem. It’s truly absurd. But do you think Fred Thompson was just vying for incumbent advantages as well? I don’t believe so.

    Charles, you nattering nincompoop. Libertarianism is not a solution. Even if we are cold-blooded enough (let Grandma and the children starve for all I care) to shrink the government down that far, there will still be laws passed about ethics (e.g., abortion, crime and punishment, etc.) So money couldn’t possibly influence those laws, could they? I don’t think you can see the forest for the trees.

    “Halliburton is the only American company that does what it does.”

    Um, then Haliburton is a monopoly then, isn’t it? Actually, you must be wrong about that in the first place – otherwise, Haliburton would be sued for being a monopoly wouldn’t it?

    Liz, thank you for at least acknowledging that there is a problem here.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  54. But the reason it is against rich people’s interest to support CFR is that it prevents them from giving loads of money to government officials for buying influence.

    So, George Soros put >$30 million into the 2004 Campaign and expected nothing in return? And where is the evidence that the teacher’s unions, the AFL-CIO, and the trial lawyers own the Democrats any less now than they did before CFR?

    Please, the only purpose of CFR was 1.) to suck up to the media and 2.) make it harder for challengers to unseat incumbents. And muzzling political speech within 60 days of elections (when swing voters make up their minds) smacks more of censorship and incumbent protection than it does of preventing influence peddling.

    V the K (8894aa)

  55. V the K, you all whine about Soros when actually the GOP got more money for campaigning in the end. (That is, Kerry had less to spend than Bush did.) So your complaints ring utterly hollow.

    As I said, the intent of CFR was to prevent the influence, not increase it.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  56. Tillman, the reason that incumbents like CFR is simple: it protects their jobs by making it harder for challengers to get their message out. With their jobs secure, they can focus on the concerns of the special interests who will, regardless of CFR, find ways to provide financial support, instead of serving their constituents in general. Regardless of any good or bad intentions, though, it is an abridgment of the freedom of speech and a violation of the freedom of assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment, and either is reason enough to Just Say No to Campaign Finance “Reform,” at least until we amend the constitution to remove the parts about freedom of speech and assembly. I don’t suppose too many of the pols who support CFR would sign up as supporters of any constitutional amendment removing freedom of speech, unless it involves flag burning. That, of course, is also all about putting re-election ahead of the good of the country.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  57. Ted, you have good points about CFR potentially working to give incumbents an unfair advantage. I don’t deny that. The only solution I can think of for that issue is to have a ceiling on how much money each party can spend on an election. (To play my own devil’s advocate, there are probably issues inherent in that solution too.)

    But I disagree that our founding fathers intended our government to be so awash in money’s influence. If they were alive now, they’d just shake their heads in shame.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  58. #55 — False. Bush got more direct contributions. But when all the pro-Kerry 527s are added up and compared to the pro-Bush 572s, and when you add in supposedly “non-artisan” union-organized GOTV and volunteers, and when you add those into the campaign totals, Bush was outspent by anywhere from $50 to $75 Million.

    And that doesn’t begin to get into the value of biased media. How much is the editorial page of the New York Times worth on a daily basis?

    V the K (5c621d)

  59. V the K, I don’t want to get in a bickering match about who received more money. The main point is that both sides received hundreds of millions of dollars, stinking up the whole race.

    What, you expected unilateral disarmament from the democrats?

    Tillman (1cf529)

  60. “But I disagree that our founding fathers intended our government to be so awash in money’s influence. ”

    I’m not sure it’s any more awash in money than it was 200 some years ago, when you compare it to the actual wealth of the country. (This would be a very interesting study!) The US is unimaginably wealthier than it was then. They might indeed be aghast, but they’d not be immediately prepared to understand much of the modern world.

    Anyway, money is just a substitute for human labor, which includes speech. It’s meaningless to limit spending without also limiting effort–witness the concern over “in-kind” contributions.

    If I have a conversation with my neighbors about the election, trying to convince them to vote for someone, how is that not an “in-kind” contribution?

    Bostonian (a37519)

  61. Tillman, what they, and the states who ratified the constitution, did intend is that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Speculation about whether any of the founding fathers thought about whether the government should be “awash in money’s influence” is useless and irrelevant when the issue is a specific guarantee of freedom of speech — there’s no mention in anywhere in the Constitution of such a limit on campaign contributions being an exception to the words “Congress shall make no law . . .” Just because McCain and Feingold and the rest of the grandstanders who voted for it, along with Bush who signed it (that he thought it would be declared unconstitutional is no excuse for punting to the courts) presume to write such an exception in doesn’t make it right. They’re government officials, and the main reason we have freedom of speech is to enable us to protect ourselves from government officials. Why would you give this up on such a flimsy excuse? We’ve come full circle, back to my first comment to you yesterday.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  62. It is not enough to keep repeating “Congress shall make no law …”. The counter argument is simply to refer to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ comment about yelling fire in a crowded theater.

    Should individuals have the right to own nuclear weapons because “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Max (da5a64)

  63. Max, so unrestrained political campaigning creates immediate, mortal danger?

    It doesn’t, and I’m surprised you think it’s necessary to say so.

    Bostonian (a37519)

  64. Bostonian: Perhaps not, but some (not me) may argue it represents a very real danger to the democratic nature of the Republic. My point is simply that quoting “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech …”, is an insufficient argument against McCain/Feingold.

    Max (da5a64)

  65. Max, I figure I should only have to make an argument once, so consider “Congress shall make no law . . . ” as shorthand for an argument I made in earlier comment.

    Anyway, your comment makes it sound as if you’re defending McCain-Feingold as regulation of speech that is not constitutionally protected because it’s political advocacy — as if political advocacy were similar to libel, fighting words, or yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre. You’re not really suggesting that, are you? If that’s your point, well, then, yes, saying “Congress shall make no law . . .” really is an adequate answer, because it’s plain that primary reason for the constitutional guarantees of free speech/assembly make sure government officials aren’t permitted to restrict political speech or to control its content.

    That’s so self-evident, that defenders of McCain-Feingold argue that it doesn’t really regulate speech/assembly at all, but only regulates payments. But they don’t come close to dealing adequately with with, among other things, the payment in kind problem — the law covers situations in which what on its face is political speech is treated as a political contribution, so that the supposed regulation of political contributions indistinguishable from direct regulation of political speech. Finally, if you manage to clear those hurdles, make sure that your argument gives First Amendment guarantees the broad construction they have generally been given by the Court. It’s hard to believe that damaging falsehoods about a public figure are only actionable libel if the publication is made with malice, but non-libelous advocacy for a candidate for office isn’t constitutionally protected speech if the speaker has to purchase airtime or internet bandwidth, or use that which he owns in order for fellow citizens to hear what he has to say.

    The bottom line is that it’s content-based regulation, producing the perverse result of giving advocacy for political positions within our system less protection than pornography or the publication of neo-nazi or communist literature. Most non-lawyers recognize that sort of perverse result as a clear indication that something has gone wrong somewhere in the process; only someone whose brain has been damaged by a legal education could miss the obvious problem.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  66. Max, it’s still a lousy analogy. The reason that you don’t yell fire in a theatre is that doing so could get someone killed, directly and immediately. That’s quite a different class of threat than “things that Democrats don’t like.”

    Bostonian (34df6e)

  67. TNugent: Your point is well made.

    Max (036ae0)

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