Campaigns/Elections

Happy Fifth, McCain-Feingold!

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Ryan Sager in today's New York Sun, "celebrating " McCain-Feingold's (officially, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) fifth anniversary. An excerpt:

[See] a statement put out yesterday by the Reform Institute, a non-profit group affiliated with Senator McCain of Arizona. The statement claims that BCRA has "succeeded in its objectives." How so? It "significantly reduced the corrupting influence of campaign contributions and enhanced the participation of small donors in the process."

Let's take those two claims one at a time.

As to the first part, that corruption has been reduced, this is a simple assertion, with not a single piece of evidence to back it up. There's a reason for that: There is no evidence. By what metric does one measure "corruption"? Mr. McCain and his crew couldn't define it before they passed McCain-Feingold; they can't define it now; and, thus, there's no way to measure it. Anyone paying attention to politics in the last couple years, however, would be surprised to find out corruption has been "significantly reduced."…..

As for the enhanced participation of small donors in the political process, here's a question: If Messrs. McCain and Feingold took credit for water running downhill, would that mean they could slap it on their resumes? Small donors are participating more in politics because politicians are learning how to harness the Internet. So, unless Mr. McCain invented the Internet — and not Al Gore as we all learned in our civics textbooks — no one ought to be attributing this development to BCRA.

And then, the real reason politicians love campaign finance law:

McCain-Feingold supporters promised that the bill would curb the scourge of "negative" and "dirty" advertising. "It is about slowing political advertising," [Washington Sen.] Cantwell said during the debate. "Making sure the flow of negative ads by outside interest groups does not continue to permeate the airwaves." Of course, curbing and "slowing" speech critical of politicians by "outside interest groups" (a.k.a. "citizens") is in no way a permissible goal under the First Amendment.

Full column.

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  1. Why the apostraphe in “And then, the real reason politician’s love campaign finance law”?

    I’m hopping mad.

  2. Sheer foolishness, whiskeyj, sheer foolishness. Fixed.

  3. The correct spelling is apostrophe, whiskeyJ. Heh heh.

  4. In the history of the intertubes, has anyone ever:

    (a) pointed out a typo, misspelling or grammatical error, or

    (b) questioned someone’s intelligence,

    without commiting some kind of typographical, spelling, or grammatical offense?

  5. “Happy Fifth, McCain-Feingold!”

    [images of Warren pouring drink to his famous California Election utterance: doot doot doodle doodle doo doo de doo]

  6. pointed out a typo, misspelling or grammatical error, or…

    Shouldn’t that be “typo, misspelling, or grammatical error; or…”? As written, the reader could assume you meant there was a misspelling error, i.e., an erroneous as opposed to a correct or intentional misspelling.

    Oh, and the anwser to your question is no. [smile]

  7. R C Dean, you’re a dimwit, and this sentence is a model of typographical, spelling and grammatical precision.

    There you go!

  8. Peerless, I believe I could quibble with your omission of a serial comma. That should be “typographical, spelling, and grammatical precision”.

    Oh, and DA, I believe that there is no serial comma before “or”, and there (properly) is before “and”.

  9. your all dumb

  10. But, RC, it was you who used the serial comma after “or,” which I (properly) changed to a semicolon. Actually, the rule whether a comma should separate the final two items in a series is flexible; however, if the sentence is capable of being misread without the comma but more likely to be read correctly with the comma, the comma obviously should be used.

  11. D.A. Ridgely,

    Your praise of grammatical “flexibility” sickens me. This subjective, observer-based reality to which you refer in regards to the serial comma is, without a doubt, heresy of the highest order. The serial comma should always be used–the trend away from it was discredited long ago as a Communist plot.

    My seconds will call on your seconds.

  12. I prefer including this “serial comma” you all speak of. Nonetheless, I can read it either way without complaint. The real crime of R C Dean’s comment was that he used the serial comma one time and not the other!

    And I disagree that the commas separating the (a) and (b) options should be semicolons. Rather, they should simply be elided entirely. The options are two simple verb phrases and should not be separated by anything.

    Oh, I almost forgot. Here is teh typo.

  13. MikeP,

    Yes, let us discuss the inconsistent use of the serial comma. I have yet to read a contract of any length that doesn’t use each method, apparently at random. This may be the effect of multiple authors, but I choose to believe that it’s a serious commentary on the sanity of practitioners of my profession.

  14. But, RC, it was you who used the serial comma after “or,” which I (properly) changed to a semicolon.

    Conceded. And thanks.

    The real crime of R C Dean’s comment was that he used the serial comma one time and not the other!

    Guilty. Serial commas can be used before any conjunction, but I always use them before “and”, never before “or”. Call it a charming affectation.

    I have yet to read a contract of any length that doesn’t use each method, apparently at random.

    Then you have never had the intense, almost physical pleasure of reading one of my contracts.

  15. R C,

    If you wrote the agreement I’m currently reviewing, we may have to resort to fisticuffs.

  16. Seems unlikely, unless you are doing some hospital contracting.

  17. No, I’m in television, where spelling and grammar are creative options.

  18. You’d think only politicians would be for this, yet campaign finance restrictions enjoy popular support, and that’s just in the USA. Other democracies have even more restrictions on campaign advertising. Why is the sentiment so widespread?

  19. yet campaign finance restrictions enjoy popular support

    Linkee?

  20. R C Dean | March 27, 2007, 11:12am
    In the history of the intertubes, has anyone ever:
    (a) pointed out a typo, misspelling or grammatical error, or
    (b) questioned someone’s intelligence,
    without commiting some kind of typographical, spelling, or grammatical offense?

    There ought to be a law against “commiting some kind of typographical, spelling, or grammatical offense” when doing a and/or b.

  21. “Linkee”? WTF? It’s a worldwide phenomenon, obviously it’s not just the product of some tiny conspiracy. Vermont, at least, enacted it by voter initiative. So something must account for the fact that it appeals to anyone besides incumbent politicians.

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