Mitt's Blue Meanie

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Embattled former early-state front-runner (but Wyoming caucus winner!) Mitt Romney yesterday unleashed a Top 10 John McCain anti-GOP temper tantrums, a list that—at least if your sensibility is anything like mine – might make you more inclined to support the short-fused Arizona senator. After all, anyone who calls Pete Domenici an "asshole" and Chuck Grassley a "fucking jerk" can't be all bad, right? 

Romney's trying to win a Republican primary, so maybe rounding up McCain's disparagements against the likes of Dick Cheney might have marginal value, but for my money the far more interesting and troubling aspects of Senator Hothead's hotheadedness are that: 1) He lies about it, and 2) it often comes in the form of drawn-out retaliation against those who target him with at least semi-legitimate criticism.

First the lies—in March 2006, McCain said the following about his legendary temper to the Baltimore Sun:

Just because someone says it's there, you would have to provide some corroboration that it was. Because I do not lose my temper. I do not. … Now do I speak strongly? Do I feel frustrated from time to time? Of course. If I didn't I don't think I would be doing my job.

But for someone to say that McCain became just angry and yelled or raised my voice or—it's just not true. It's simply not true. … And so, those rumors continue to circulate about—quote—temper. They're going to have to find some concrete examples of it, and they aren't there.

Why is this a lie? Well, as his hometown paper pointed out about this particular quote, "Just two days earlier, however, McCain had openly acknowledged at a forum in Scottsdale that, 'I have had a bad temper in my life.'" For a long list of McCain's own admissions about his temper (as well as a high-larious quote from his wife Cindy about how reports thereof are "fabricated"), click here. Yes, yes, all politicians lie like rugs. But running—successfully!—on the notion that you are preternaturally honest is an invitation/requirement that the rest of us point out when that ain't so.

The second point is far more grave and to the point in judging the man's fitness to be president. To see examples of grudges held and legitimate critics punished, look not to the fawning national press corps (which hasn't much discussed the temper issue this election cycle), but to the Arizonans who know him: Former Republic editor and publisher Pat Murphy, columnist E.J. Montini, and Phoenix New Times muckraker Amy Silverman (whose father, while he was the general manager of an Arizona hydroelectric utility, was once cornered by an enraged McCain and asked "Can't you shut your daughter up?"). As Montini once pointed out, "It's not McCain's tantrums that matter; it's what sets him off."

Such as: Criticizing his ballyhooed anti-defense-pork rhetoric as all talk, blowing the whistle on Cindy McCain's illegal drug habit, expressing irritation at the (true) fact that McCain's campaign-related absence was dooming comprehensive immigration reform, voicing dissent within the Arizona GOP, and having the temerity to suggest publicly (and accurately) that the federal government has been less than transparent regarding the Vietnam disappearance of your husband.

For more on the topic, I recommend this book.

NEXT: The Perils of Long Lead Times

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  1. Because I do not lose my temper. I do not.

    Riiiiight. He was 50% there at the damn debates last night. “Amnesty! Amnesty!!” If I’d been standing between him and Romney at a bar, I would have taken a few steps back.

  2. It was really interesting yesterday sitting among fellow MA citizens (those who know Mitt inside out) in a bar in Manchester watching the debate, boo him for ever single lie that Mitt made, especially when it comes to MA health care.

  3. I actually enjoyed seeing McCain eviscerate the panderdroid Romney last night.

  4. I now wonder, was Dave Wiegel blogging the debate yesterday from the same bar I was at? Dave? Murphy’s tap room?

  5. Who was that other guy from Arizona who lost his temper? Oh yeah. Barry Goldwater. At least he lost his temper about the right things.
    Aber machts nichts. Like Barry, McCain would lose in a landslide (to Obama).

    Ruthless

  6. Any YouTube of the debates yet?

  7. Taktix-

    I haven’t seen a YouTube of the entire thing, but you can watch Hillary freak the fuck out here.

    Probably my favorite moment.

    “I CAN CHANGE! I’VE DONE CHANGE! CHAAAAAAAANGE!”

  8. Good blog post on McCain vs. Romney by Michael Scherer at Time…

  9. First, McCain is one of the Keating Five. Then after his wife gets caught stealing pain killers from a charity to satisfy her own addiction, she is able to secure a sweetheart deal from the US Attorney where she faces no prison time, something which no normal person would ever be able to get. Using your political connections to protect your criminal buddies or to shield your wife from the consequences normal people face for violating the law… sounds like pretty standard corruption to me. Can we at least wait for him to apologize before we call him an anti-corruption maverick? (I suspect we would be waiting a long time.)

    What I am trying to say is, go Romney… at least on Tuesday.

  10. Out of curiosity, Matt, has McCain ever called you or sent you a note, or something, and said, I don’t know, that he’s really sorry for whatever it was he said or did, and could you just…um…stop already?

    I mean, if I was McCain, I’d have sent you a really nice basket for Christmas, with like some really nice vino, some truffles, some crackers with some of that classy cheese spread–you know, something for the whole office!

    I once heard a story about Willie Mays and an umpire, who, whenever Willie was up, called everything that wasn’t straight down the middle a strike. It happened year after year and finally, one game when Willie was the last guy up, he turned to the umpire and said, “What’s your problem?”

    The umpire looked him straight in the eye and said, “Take me out for a steak dinner and it ends.” So Willie took him out for a steak dinner right then and there, and, sure enough, that umpire called Willie’s games straight from that moment on…

    Now I’m not saying Matt’s not callin’ ’em like he see ’em, but–sheesh–the guy can’t even deny having a temper?! …without being called a lying liar?!

    If I were John McCain, I’d have called up Welch a long time ago and offered, I don’t know, Angels season tickets? …free round trips to the game on Air Force One? Anything! Just make it stop! Uncle! Uncle!

  11. What’s so hard to understand is why the press is so enamored of this corrupt, lying, hypocritical tool. Sure, lots of politicians are, but they usually lack the boot-licking press corps following. How is he able to be so brazen in his sliminess, which is quite obvious to anyone who bothers to look, while managing to cultivate precisely the opposite image in the mainstream press? The only good thing one can say about a potential McCain presidency would be the entertainment value of numerous inevitable scandals that would come out of such a corrupt arrogant schmuck getting his hands on that much power.

  12. I agree with Ken. I don’t get what the story is here. The thing about the attack on McCain’s temper isn’t that people thought he had a temper — it was the wisper campaign that the temper loss was somehow indicative of larger mental problems brought about by his time as a POW. The fact is, most of Congress is fairly corrupt and is pretty happy to spend our money on their pork projects. McCain called them out, often publically about it and for that he gets accused of having a “temper.” Refusing to play the game isn’t a temper…its principle.

  13. I agree with Matt, by the way, that McCain is a lying liar, who gets angry and lies about his angry lying lies. …I just think it’s funny that Matt won’t even cut him enough slack to deny it.

    If he murdered somebody, wouldn’t we at least give him the opportunity to plead “not guilty”?

  14. Out of curiosity, Matt, has McCain ever called you or sent you a note, or something, and said, I don’t know, that he’s really sorry for whatever it was he said or did, and could you just…um…stop already?

    Nope! But it really isn’t about my personal likes or dislikes in the first place. I certainly “like” him more than I “like” Romney or Giulani or Fred Thompson or Duncan Hunter … but why that should matter one way or another is beyond me. I’m interested in his actual — not mythologized — governing philosophy (i.e., frighteningly big-government imperialism), and I’m interested in the factually inaccurate way he is portrayed in both the media and his own press releases. On some level my issue is not whether he wins or loses, it’s whether the people who are thinking about voting for or against him know what they’re voting for.

    I don’t get what the story is here. The thing about the attack on McCain’s temper isn’t that people thought he had a temper — it was the wisper campaign that the temper loss was somehow indicative of larger mental problems brought about by his time as a POW.

    I spent some time in my book and elsewhere attacking that Vietnam/Manchurian critique, which is provably false on its face. Regardless, that’s not what he was denying in the bit I just quoted — he has denied having a temper in the first place, or ever holding a grudge, or ever blowing up at people. Meanwhile, he has admitted all of the same in his various books and interviews, but most people don’t read all that stuff, and he’s long since learned that he can maintain his reputation as a “straight talker” even while talking constant contradictory bullshit.

    I get that not everyone shares my interest in self-style “truth-tellers” who lie through their teeth & get away with it, but to the extent that there’s a non-trivial election being held, and that I have notebook full of correctives, I might share now and then.

  15. Refusing to play the game isn’t a temper…its principle.

    I think I just threw up a little in my mouth reading someone claim that McCain’s blasting others for pork, corruption or whatever, is based on “principle.” Please stop doing that while I’m trying to eat.

    Well, ok, I suppose if by “principle” you mean self-serving hypocrisy, then sure…

  16. OK, yelling at the staffer about the podium was uncalled-for. Other than that – GO BIG JOHN!

    Shove that old racist arond till his hip gives!

    Does anyone here for a second believe that John (My Hair Is Smarter Than I Am) Cornyn didn’t offer a bunch of chickenshit objections to the immigration bill, because he was against it from the beginning?

  17. Sorry, I forgot this was the anti-McCain echo chamber. Nothing I have ever read from Welch or anyone else has convinced me that McCain is not one of the most principled pols out there.

    As far as being a hypocrite, you can label anyone a hypocrite depending on how you define their positions. They libertarian that supports Roe v. Wade doesn’t recognize the government’s function in protecting life. The libertarian that opposes Roe v. Wade is in favor of government intervention.

    Name the issue that you want to focus on Brian, or Matt, or anyone really, and let’s see if we can figure out how exactly McCain is “unprincipled” or a “hypocrite.”

  18. Exactly Joe. Next issue.

  19. Oh, and to your point Matt, regarding the “denial of the temper” — I read those denials as directly addressing the Wisper Campaign. In otherwords, while McCain admits that he has a temper, he will admitly deny that he has a “TEMPER” in the way that they wisper he does. While I suppose we all might desire that he would stand at the podium and deny those charges in his usual straight-talk style (“I have a temper in the usual manner and not because I went bat-shit crazy from being a POW.”) I don’t think that’s its unreasonable that he doesn’t do that. Especially since it only gives that lying bullshit more credit than it deserves.

  20. let’s see if we can figure out how exactly McCain is “unprincipled” or a “hypocrite.”

    How about swearing an oath to support and defend the Constitution, looking at the First Amendment (Congress shall make no law…) and then saying to yourself “Let’s make a law!”

    Seriously. How is he not a hypocrite?

  21. “adamantly deny”

  22. Ayn,

    There are a lot of us that don’t believe that the Campaign Finance Law, as we interpret it, is a limitation on speech. And, in fact, the Supreme Court has agreed with us. I don’t need to get into the specifics with you here (although I am happy to, I only suspect that you have heard them before and it hasn’t changed your mind — or your livelihood depends on not changing your mind). The point is though, its not “hypocritical.” It’s a policy or legal disagreement. I thought, as libertarians, we were supposed to be able to have differing opinions without having our integrity attacked.

  23. Bryan — You read those denials incorrectly. The Vietnam whisper campaign was nowhere near the context, nor were they when I saw him this year volunteer (out of the blue) the laughably untrue statement that “I never hold a grudge.”

  24. I thought, as libertarians, we were supposed to be able to have differing opinions without having our integrity attacked.

    You can, but supporting the Campaign Finance Law is a sucky opinion and you sure shouldn’t be calling yourself libertarian for holding it.

    I suppose the War on Drugs is just a policy disagreement?

    I don’t care what SCOTUS said, either, this is the same august body who claimed a man growing his own wheat for personal consumption affects “interstate commerce”. Egad.

  25. Anyone who has a “scuffle” with Strom Thurmond is all right in my book.

  26. Matt,
    I don’t buy it. From the Pat Murphy article:
    It was vintage McCain who exploded when the Arizona Republic questioned whether the man dubbed “Senator Hothead” in Washington is fit to be entrusted with presidential powers. Instead of conceding what’s common knowledge about his volcanic personality, McCain exploded in denial, blaming a newspaper vendetta and George W. Bush for “orchestrating” the criticism.

    It seems to me that is at the heart of the denials of the “temper.” As for not holding a grudge, he certainly appears to have forgiven George Bush for his campaign’s bullshit attacks about bi-racial babies and such. Some of us wish he would have held a grudge a little longer about that.

    Maybe I am wrong, but your main complaint seems to be that he doesn’t just accept it when he thinks he has been unfairly attacked.
    Also from the Murphy article, he apologized to Mofford when his realized that his anger at him was unfair. But if the scorn is deserved, is it wrong to hold a grudge. I tend to agree with the point that Joe made that the attacks were probably more deserved than you are leading us to believe.

  27. Oh man, and my scumbag of a Senator, Richard Shelby?! Welch is right, this list makes me like McCain more than I did before!

  28. Oh, I have no clue, except I remember that some Massachussetts commenter many months ago opinied that Mitt is “an empty suit.” I remembered that, and I’ve watched him since, and I must agree. Nice hair, nattily attired, handsome family…no clue. So I guess this interminable election process does indeed work for us knuckle-draggers.

  29. I still think Mitt’s in for the nom.

    Mark my words this day.

  30. Ayn,

    I don’t know that you really understand the philosophy of your namesake. For a lot of us, limiting the money you can give directly to a candidate is not limiting speech. Keep in mind there are still plenty of avenues for unregulated speech that are not coordinated with the candidate and the campaign (e.g. the Ron Paul Blimp).

    For us, CFR is designed to limit the influence any one person can have over the individuals that are directly in charge of taking and distributing our tax money. Its really goes to the heart of what Rynd discussed in Atlas Shrugged. The parts about how, when government expands, the businesses that do well aren’t the ones that do things the most efficiently, but the ones that play the political game the best. Limiting a candidate’s dependence on a few “big donors” and replacing it with a system that encourages wide-net fundraising of multiple small donors takes away the influence that the big donors have over the distribution of the spoils of government. There is nothing unlibertarian about that.

  31. “Rand” — Shit my typing skills suck today.

  32. There are a lot of us that don’t believe that the Campaign Finance Law, as we interpret it, is a limitation on speech … The point is though, its not “hypocritical.” It’s a policy or legal disagreement.

    Mmm, if by a “policy or legal disagreement” you mean deciding to adopt the policy of ignoring the plain meaning of the First and Tenth Amendments (among others), then most of Congress, SCOTUS, and every president since at least that SOB Wilson have adopted those policies.

    When pretty much the entire Bill of Rights is under attack by people who say it means something it doesn’t, one has to conclude that either the Founding Fathers were incapable of writing even a single clear and unambiguous sentence, or the overwhelming majority of politicans are incapable of following it. Having read the BIll of Rights, I’m going with the latter.

  33. Whoops, first paragraph should be in italics. Preview is your friend!

  34. Prolefeed,

    My guess is that you have not read any of the Supreme Court opinions regarding CFR. Correct?

    Seems to me, if you are so decidedly in the minority on the issue, it’s either because (1) there are legitimate legal arguments on both sides that you have to acknowledge as something more than purposeful ignorance, or (2) you are too stupid to realize that you are reading it wrong. I’m going with the former.

  35. Limiting a candidate’s dependence on a few “big donors” and replacing it with a system that encourages wide-net fundraising of multiple small donors takes away the influence that the big donors have over the distribution of the spoils of government. There is nothing unlibertarian about that.

    Yeah, all those people who want to contribute $2,300+ are “big donors” who would have unbridled influence over a candidate. Must stop all that terrible, terrible free speech because, hey, there still are some loopholes that can be exploited — until the next legislative session’s new “reform”, that is.

    The libertarian thing to do is to get rid of most of the power and money politicians control, not effing limit free speech, including the speech of those who want to do the libertarian downsizing.

  36. Bryan, my guess is that you haven’t noticed that the constitution doesn’t mean whatever a bunch of unelected political appointees called SCOTUS says it means — the constitution means what it actually fricking SAYS.. Do you also believe there are sophisticated legal arguments pro and con for interpreting the Tenth Amendment to mean Congress can do anything it wants, whether or not those powers are specifically given them by the Constitution?

  37. If I were John McCain, I’d have called up Welch a long time ago and offered, I don’t know, Angels season tickets? …free round trips to the game on Air Force One? Anything! Just make it stop! Uncle! Uncle!

    Why? If you see any evidence Matt Welch has caused McCain any ulcers, point it out.

    I suspect McCain has ignored Welch because Welch is the least of his worries….

  38. Seems to me, if you are Galileo was so decidedly in the minority on the issue of how the solar system works, it’s either because (1) there are legitimate legal arguments on both sides that you have to acknowledge as something more than purposeful ignorance, or (2) you are Galileo was too stupid to realize that you are he was reading it wrong.

    Fixed, Bryan.

    Feel free to insert other minority views, such as that the earth is over 6,000 years old, etc. — Because a large majority can’t be wrong!

  39. prolefeed,

    Maybe you have 2,300 to donate to Ron Paul’s campaign, but I certainly don’t. Doesn’t mean that you support him any more than I do though. Doesn’t mean that you support him more than any other of his donors. Still, that’s 23x the average donor to his campaign. If I’m a candidate and someone gave me 23 times more than another guy, I know which meeting I am taking first and longer. And my guess is that you would prefer that the larger donor could give 50x or 100x or 1000x more — since in your world any limitation on money given directly to the candidate is a limitation on “free speech” against the plain meaning of the “First and Tenth Amendments (among others).”

    As for the “loopholes,” a lot of us libertarians that support CFR don’t see those as loopholes. Your 527s and your Ron Paul Blimps are the outlets individuals to spend as much money as they want advertising their point of view. The difference in those cases is that the individual directly controls the message, rather than the candidate controlling the message.

    You can say that you want to get rid of the power and money in politics but as long as “big donors” have made an investment in getting someone elected, and that candidate believes that he is beholden to the “big donor” for the next election, you are going to have an impossible time cutting off the tit of spoils. If you don’t give the big donor the return on investment that he is expecting, you can count on losing his funding and losing the next election. Unless his max donation is easy to replace that is — say by finding a few people that can donate $100 each instead.

    Again though, whether you agree with me or not doesn’t mean that those of us that do believe in CFR are hypocrites.

  40. you haven’t noticed that the constitution doesn’t mean whatever a bunch of unelected political appointees called SCOTUS says it means

    I was wrong. It was the latter. Are you seriously making the argument in favor of a plain reading of the Constitution by suggesting that it’s not the Supreme Court’s place to determine what the Constitution means? So you think the Court’s been getting wrong since Marbury v. Madison, huh?

    There is no way to have an intelligent conversation with you if you think that you and those that agree with you are the only ones able to determine what the Constitution means.

    Oh, and your Galleo argument is amusing but lame considering that laws of nature have definitive right and wrong answers whereas the Constitution was written by humans and was left purposely vague in most instances. I wish I was smart enough to know all the undercurrents of every word in the document with the same confidence as knowing that the Earth revolves around the sun. I didn’t know that God was posting under the pseudonym “prolefeed.”

    God might consider reading the Court’s opinions on the issues though, before he makes his divine wisdom known.

  41. sine wrote:

    “What I am trying to say is, go Romney… at least on Tuesday.”

    sine, whenever I feel that way, I watch this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY6UTnS6Z-A

    It makes me hate that fucker Romney even worse than I hate any of the other candidates. Just try it!

  42. you haven’t noticed that the constitution doesn’t mean whatever a bunch of unelected political appointees called SCOTUS says it means

    I was wrong. It was the latter. Are you seriously making the argument in favor of a plain reading of the Constitution by suggesting that it’s not the Supreme Court’s place to determine what the Constitution means? So you think the Court’s been getting wrong since Marbury v. Madison, huh?

    There is no way to have an intelligent conversation with you if you think that you and those that agree with you are the only ones able to determine what the Constitution means.

    An intelligent conversation is what I thought we were having, so perhaps you could drop the gratuitous insults.

    My point is that SCOTUS is not following the plain reading of the Constitution, and that they should not have the unbridled power to do so. On vacation, and don’t have my copy of the Constitution with me, but care to point out the section of it that says “SCOTUS is the supreme arbiter of what is or is not constitutional, and no one can do a damn thing about it if they interpret it wrongly, other than wait for one or more Justices to die, and hope a better replacement is offered?”

    Perhaps someone more versed in this subject can point out what remedies or checks and balances, if any, the Constitution offers for SCOTUS overreaching? Is SCOTUS even specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and their powers and limitations, if any, defined?

  43. Bryan — so would you be OK if incumbents decided to make the maximum political contribution $1? Would you feel that that political decision that favors incumbents would in no way infringe upon your free speech?

  44. Bryan,

    I don’t think the $2300 donation limit is the part of CFR that sticks in libertarian craws the most. It’s more the fact that it’s illegal to mention the name of a candidate, or even allude to that candidate without mentioning the name, on TV or radio within 90 days of an election.

  45. Oh, and the SCOTUS can be completely, shamefully wrong, unless you think the Dred Scott decision, Plessy v Ferguson, and Roe v Wade (which McCain opposes) were all defensible decisions.

  46. The U.S. Constitution’s definition of the powers of the Supreme Court:

    “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”

    From the wiki for Marbury v. Madison:

    “Some legal scholars argue that the legal basis and concept of judicial review predate the case, and that Marbury merely formalized it. For example, Saikrishna Prakash and John Yoo point out, with respect to the ratification of the Constitution, that “no scholar to date has identified even one participant in the ratification fight who argued that the Constitution did not authorize judicial review of Federal statutes. This silence in the face of the numerous comments on the other side is revealing.”[11]
    However, it is important to note that nothing in the text of the Constitution explicitly authorized the power of judicial review, despite persistent fears voiced by Anti-federalists over the power of the new Federal court system.”

    So, SCOTUS has the sole, unquestionable power to decide what the Constitution means, and we know this is true because SCOTUS issued an opinion saying that they interpret the Constitution to mean they have this power, and no one can question this opinion because SCOTUS says so?

    A little bootstrapping there, Bryan?

    Clearly, anyone who questions this alleged power of SCOTUS is incapable of an intelligent conversation.

  47. Fun way to spend your vacation — debating the constitutionality of CFR. I apologize for the gratuitous insults. To be honest though, there are legitimate arguments on both sides and it really burns me up when people just act like there is only one reading. What you see as the “plain language” is not that plain. That holds true for 2 points in this debate.

    1) Like with most things, the Constitution is fairly vague on the exact role and power of the judicial branch and the Supreme Court. Marbury v. Madison was the Court decision that specifically defined the Court’s role as enforcing and interpreting the Constitution. The Court is not the sole arbiter of constitutionality (the Congress and the President also have the obligation to interpret the Constitution to the best of their ability), but the case clarified that the Court would make the final determination when the constitutionality of laws are called into question. It is certainly a permissible reading of the document, although nowhere in the text is that “plainly stated.” Still, you are going to be hard pressed to find someone that thinks that Marbury was wrongly decided.

    2) The text is also vague as to what constitutes “speech.” While it might a plain reading to you that handing money over to a candidate is speech, the document doesn’t define what speech means. To me, giving money is not speech. Setting aside the other issues with the war on drugs (which we probably agree is not sound policy), if I give $100 to a drug dealer for crack, that’s not exersing my right of free speech.

    The Court’s take is stated slightly differently. It’s that the act of giving money to a candidate is speech, a public acknowledgement that you support a candidate, but that the more money given does not make that statement any stronger or any different. All it means is that the person that gave more may have more money available to give. Therefore, limitations on the amount that you can give aren’t limits on the message — both donors support the candidate equally [or in a difference that can’t be quantified by donation size]. As for the amount of message that can be bought with more money, the Court’s decision is that by giving money directly to the candidate to control, the speech bought with the money is not the speech of the donor at that point, but is the speech of the candidate. An easy way to understand that is let’s say you give $100 to Ron Paul because you support his position on the monetary policy. But the only ads he takes out with the money donated are ads on immigration (which you disagree with). Your $100 spent isn’t spreading your speech (your speech — supporting Ron Paul was conveyed by the fact that you donated to him). Your $100 has been spent spreading his speech, in this case on a subject where you disagree. In that way, the Court has determined that limitations on the amount of money given to a candidate are not limitations on speech.

  48. So, Bryan, does the 1st Amendment’s definition of speech also not include mentioning the name of a candidate for public office within 90 days of an election?

    Also, if you believe the SCOTUS is always right, shouldn’t McCain shut the hell up about abortion, since the SCOTUS has ruled it’s a constitutional right several times?

  49. I would have no problem with a $1 contribution limit to candidates. BUT…and this is a big BUT…that assumes that the individual is free to spend as much money as they want advertising their opinion in a manner that is not coordinated with the campaign. And that is actually the law now, as it is written.

    As to your point crimethink, the CFR provisions that you are talking about are misunderstood by a lot of libertarians. Those limitations are only on expenditures that are given to organizations that are coordinated with the campaign. The idea being that money given to a PAC coordinating with the campaign is pretty much the equivilent of money given to the campaign.

    If you watch the Ron Paul Blimp videos, they make a very clear point of mentioning multiple times that they are not coordinating with the campaign. In that way, they can accept unlimited amounts of money from individuals to fund the blimp. I have no problem with that nor does the CFR law. Maybe some pols that voted for it would disagree, but that is where they and I would differ.

  50. So, Bryan, for the 3rd time, what about the CFR provision that makes it illegal for someone NOT coordinated with the campaign to mention the name of a candidate on TV or radio within 90 days of an election?

  51. I don’t beleive that they Court is always right. I’m not even arguing that they are necessarily right in this case (although I believe that they are). This conversation started regarding whether McCain was a hypocrite. I asked for examples and someone threw out CFR. My point is that there are legitimate and reasoned legal arguments on McCain’s side and just becuase you disagree with him doesn’t mean that you should question his integirty.

    To me, there are legitimate libertarian arguments that Roe v. Wade is both rightly and wrongly decided. I don’t think that you are an unprincipled hypocrite if you are pro-choice or pro-life.

  52. Crimethink,

    I don’t think that’s the law. My reading of it is that uncoordiated activity has no contribution limits. (e.g. Ron Paul blimp). I say this with the utmost sincerity in case I have read it wrong: Can you show me the language otherwise?

  53. Bryan,

    You might want to check out Bradley Smith’s expose on McCain. An excerpt:

    For other “appearance of corruption” examples, we need look no further than the father of campaign finance reform himself, Sen. John McCain. In 2001 the Brennan Center, a group that advocates campaign finance reform, held a large fund-raising dinner whose honored guest and speaker was the “straight-talking” senator from Arizona. Several big corporations–many with interests before the Senate Commerce Committee, of which Sen. McCain was then the ranking minority member–sponsored the event. These sponsors included such companies as Coca-Cola; the investment firm Bear Stearns; many top law firms with lobbying practices in Washington; cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris–yes, Big Tobacco; and even Enron, which as we know is the most evil corporation in the history of the world. The event grossed an impressive $750,000.

    Now what does the Brennan Center do? Well, the Brennan Center lobbied extensively to pass the McCain-Feingold bill, an issue that Sen. McCain once declared was of “transcendent importance to me.” (An interesting choice of words, since transcendent, if you look it up in the dictionary, means “beyond human comprehension.”) The Brennan Center also provided legal services, pro bono, to defend the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold bill in court.

    So let’s put this together: The Brennan Center invites Sen. McCain to speak and then approaches a large number of corporations, perhaps saying something like, “Sen. McCain–the ranking minority member of the Commerce Committee, before which your company has a great deal of business, and a possible future presidential candidate–is coming to speak. Would you care to sponsor a table?” And Enron and Coca-Cola and Philip Morris just suddenly decide that they are very interested in campaign reform and kick in some good old soft money, which the Brennan Center uses to lobby and provide free legal services for an issue of “transcendent importance” to none other than Sen. McCain. Appearance of corruption, anyone?

    Wouldn’t suggesting that corporations support the Brennan Center to provide legislative support to Sen. McCain on the issue that made his national reputation carry the same potential for blackmail and favoritism as corporate donations to political campaigns? Yet there is no suggestion that we should have broad prophylactic prohibition of that kind of fund raising–despite the fact that doing so would not only address this very real “appearance of corruption”; it would do much less to infringe on the free speech of the citizenry than McCain’s treasured campaign finance restrictions.

  54. On a slightly related note re McCain:

    Candidates with junkie and/or sterno bum wives don’t do too well in the general POTUS election.
    See Ford and Dukakis.Any supporting or contradictory examples are welcome.

  55. Crimethink,

    Frankly there is a lot in the Smith quote that I disagree with and am having some trouble knowing where to begin in a way that will allow for a managable discussion. Smith seems to be making two points. One, a legal analysis regarding which would be more restrictive on speech. And two, a policy analysis regarding which more adequately adresses the appearance of corruption. Frankly I disagee with him on both. Do you have a specific point or question from his text that I can focus on, or should I try to address the number of ways I think he is wrong at once?

  56. Oh yes, I recall that article, crimethink. This passage was also interesting.

    Here’s another situation reported by The New York Times in March 2005: “In a small office a few miles from Capitol Hill, a handful of top advisers to Senator John McCain run a quiet campaign. They promote his crusade against special interest money in politics. They send out news releases promoting his initiatives. And they raise money–hundreds of thousands of dollars, tapping some McCain backers for more than $50,000 each.”

    These advisers work for a group called the Reform Institute, founded in 2001 after Sen. McCain’s failed presidential bid. The chairman of the board of the Reform Institute is…John McCain. If you go to look at the press releases at reforminstitute.org, you will see that virtually every release mentions Sen. McCain in the first sentence. Not paragraph, sentence. Who runs the Reform Institute? Well, the president is Richard Davis, who is paid over $110,000 a year. Who is Richard Davis? He was John McCain’s 2000 campaign manager. The counsel to the Reform Institute is Trevor Potter, whose law firm is paid more than $50,000 a year for the work. Who is Trevor Potter? Why, he was legal counsel to McCain 2000! The finance director of the Reform Institute is a woman named Carla Eudy. She was finance director for McCain 2000. The communications director is Crystal Benton; she was McCain’s press secretary.

    Recently the Reform Institute, which bills itself as “a thoughtful, moderate voice for reform in the campaign finance and election administration debates,” launched what it calls the Natural Resources Stewardship Project. And what does natural resources stewardship have to do with “campaign finance and election administration”? As near as I can tell, its only connection to campaign finance and election administration is, as the institute’s site tells us, that “Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have introduced the Climate Stewardship Act” in Congress. And, of course, John McCain is planning to run for president again, and his signature issue, other than campaign finance regulation, is global warming. To run the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, the institute hired John Raidt, who, you guessed it, served 15 years working on “environmental initiatives” for Sen. McCain.

    And how is the Reform Institute funded? With contributions, in six figures or more, from individuals and corporations, including the cable company Cablevision. Cable companies are constantly before the Senate Commerce Committee, which Sen. McCain chaired at the time of Cablevision’s contribution. In fact, Cablevision gave $200,000 to the Reform Institute around the same time its officials were testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee. Appearance of corruption, anyone?

    Appearance of hypocrisy anyone? CFR is incumbent protection, pure and simple. McCain is all about Washington business-as-usual for himself, he just doesn’t like the idea that someone else might try to move in on his action.

    The idea being that money given to a PAC coordinating with the campaign is pretty much the equivilent of money given to the campaign.

    You mean kind of like money given to, say, the Reform Institute, Bryan?

  57. Do you have a specific point or question from his text that I can focus on

    While I hesitate to answer for someone else, if I may be so bold: Why don’t you just start with the hypocrisy of big corporate donors suddenly feeling an urge to donate to McCain’s pet issue when they have business before his committee. Yes, McCain that paragon of principle who wants to get the big-money influence out of politics… well, that is unless it helps him.

  58. When your positin requires you to accuse obviously intelligent people with a demonstrated command of the English language of being illiterate, it’s because you don’t actually understand the issue very well.

  59. If the meaning is so “plain,” why are you the only one who can recognize it?

    Maybe you actually are Jesus Einstein, with powers of truth-seeking beyond those of the mortal men around you, but probably, there are legitimate grounds for disagreeing with you.

  60. Interesting Brian. A few quick thoughts:
    (1) I admit it; I wish he wasn’t involved in something like that. While I would prefer it though, because it would make the arguments cleaner, I don’t know that I think he is doing anything wrong or hypocritical. Mainly because:
    (2) What they are doing is completely legal under CFR. You have two ways that you can run an organization that can collect unlimited sums of money from individual donors. (a) You can be an interest group that only runs issue ads (or doesn’t mention a candidate’s name within 90 days of the election); or (b) you can be an interest group that doesn’t coordinate with the campaign. Not knowing more about this, it appears to me that this is an interest group that is coordinated with the campaign, and therefore is only running issues ads and no ads mentioning a candidate by name within 90 days of the election.
    (3) So why am I okay with this…because my goal is not to take money out of politics, it’s to limit the money going directly to the candidate. This issue probably gets deeper than I can explain here but to me, if the public debate is on the issues (even an issue that one candidate feels more strongly about than is humanly comprehendible), that is a healthy political discussion its effect on the actually election is tangential. I just think it’s much more likely that the donors to such a group have found a natural agreement with the candidate on the issue, as opposed to an attempt to purchase influence.
    (4) The fact that some corporations might try to influence pols that way does not mean that attempts to limit direct influence are worthless.

  61. Does Kitty Dukakis still wash her speed down with nail polish remover?

  62. What do you call a trail of liquor and prescription bottles leading from Boston Common to the State House?

    Kitty Litter.

  63. Why don’t you just start with the hypocrisy of big corporate donors suddenly feeling an urge to donate to McCain’s pet issue when they have business before his committee. Yes, McCain that paragon of principle who wants to get the big-money influence out of politics… well, that is unless it helps him.

    First, I don’t know what their position was regarding CFR before they had issues before McCain’s committee.
    Second, is the solution that McCain should tell his interest group not to accept their money, even if he knows that it’s legal and that it won’t affect his vote b/c he should go further than the law requires? Maybe that is a legitimate position, but I personally don’t think it is required in the same way that I don’t think that Ron Paul should refrain from putting pork projects for his district in bills he is going to vote against. Paul thinks his constituents should not suffer because they are represented by someone that wants to change the system. McCain thinks that this issue should not suffer because it’s championed by someone that wants to change them system. Both men are still playing within the rules though.
    Third, I don’t think we are using “helps him” in the same way. To me, money donated to help spread the word about an issue that someone believes in is not undesirable. Money donated to help someone keep power in order to get a return on investment is different and less desirable. Again though, that might be a difference better explained over beers.

  64. “Why? If you see any evidence Matt Welch has caused McCain any ulcers, point it out.”

    Oh relax! …I was half kidding.

    “I suspect McCain has ignored Welch because Welch is the least of his worries….”

    McCain’s running for President! McCain stays up late at night trying to think up new ways to get people to like him, and you don’t think McCain’s concerned about somebody writing a book like that?

    You know us libertarians, we’re swing voters now. With all the new kids, new demographics out there–we may end up like the freakin’ Soccer Moms used to be!

    …you don’t think McCain is concerned about what the Editor of a swingin’ (voter) magazine writes about him?!

    I think you’re probably wrong about that.

  65. Let me see if I understand you correctly, Bryan:

    1) You would be OK if I was prohibited by law from giving more than $1 to a candidate, say Ron Paul, to freely use various forms of speech to spread a message that I wholeheartedly agree with, and you don’t feel that this limitation would infringe on my First Amendment right to free speech because Ron * might * occasionally say something that I don’t totally agree with.

    2) You don’t feel that prohibiting people from engaging in various acts of free speech within 90 days of an election in any way abridges the First Amendment right of free speech.

    Is this really how you’ve rationalized what I consider McCain’s assault on the First Amendment, because these things really aren’t speech at all as far as you’re concerned?

  66. When your positin requires you to accuse obviously intelligent people with a demonstrated command of the English language of being illiterate, it’s because you don’t actually understand the issue very well.

    Perhaps I missed the accusation of illiteracy you say occurred, joe. Were you referring to Bryan saying I was incapable of intelligent debate because I expressed a different POV than he held re SCOTUS? Or were you referring to my indirect implication that Bryan was trying to rationalize his POV about First Amendment issues rather than accepting what, to me at least, appeared to be the clear intent of the Founding Fathers?

    Or were you just generally positing that people who make gratuitous insults automatically demonstrate that they don’t understand the issue at hand? Because * AHEM * I can provide links of such insults you’ve made, on discussions where you appeared to have a thoughtful (but, to my POV, wrong) take on things. 😉

  67. No, I was referring to you breaking out the old “anyone who can read the plain meaning” saw.

    We – meaning, the vastly larger number of citizens, judges, and constitutional scholars who disagree with you than agree with you – can read just fine, thanks.

  68. joe,

    Thomas Jefferson — a slave owner — wrote “all men are created equal”.

    Do you think the meaning of that phrase is plain or not? If so, how could Jefferson and many other educated Americans completely miss the plain meaning?

    Don’t you think it’s possible that people with a subconscious vested interest in ignoring a plain meaning tend to do exactly that?

  69. 1) the fact that Paul might occasionally say something you disagree with shows that its his speech (not yours) that you are funding. Your speech is the statement, “I support this candidate enough that I am willing to give him/her my money.” Whether that’s $1 or $1 million dollars doesn’t really change that message.

    2) You over-simplify point number two and I have a tough time answering it. I think I have explained the intregigacies of the law. You are only limited to mention a candidates name with 90 days of the election if you are coordinating with a campaign. If you, on your own or with a like-minded group of people, want to spead unlimited money on ads 3 days before the election that say “Support Ron Paul” or “Don’t vote for Hillary,” you would be allowed to do that as long as you are not coordinating with the candidate/campaign. That is what I support. I don’t think its a limitation on your speech to not allow you to coordinate with the Paul campaign, because then (again) you would more or less be spreading his message rather than your own. If I have gotten the law wrong, and that really would be limited — then I disagree with it. But I don’t think I am wrong and have actally tried to study the CFR issue.

    Its not how I have rationalize it. Its in large part from the Court’s decision on the issue, which I read with an open mind and actually ended up agreeing with.

  70. “intricacies” — damn I have to look these over before I hit submit

  71. crimethink,

    You mean like people who have a vested interest in directly collecting unlimited sums of money or seeking political spoils for funding somehow thinking that exchange constitutes “speech?”

  72. If you, on your own or with a like-minded group of people, want to spead unlimited money on ads 3 days before the election that say “Support Ron Paul” or “Don’t vote for Hillary,” you would be allowed to do that as long as you are not coordinating with the candidate/campaign.

    No, that is wrong. Indeed, it is only the campaign itself that is allowed to mention the name of the candidate (and I looked it up, it’s actually only during the 60 day period before the election, not 90).

    That is, except for political campaigns themselves, and news programs, no one else is allowed to mention the name of the candidate during that time frame. There was a SCOTUS case in ’06 about this — a Wisconsin pro-life group wanted to run an ad urging people to call their Representative about the partial birth abortion bill then before Congress, but he was running for re-election that year, so on its face CFR forbid this.

  73. crimethink,

    “All men are created equal” is quite plain. It was plain enough for Jefferson, who agonized over slavery, knew his principles required him to end slavery, and just lacked the will to do so.

    “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech” is quite plain.

    The relationship between that second sentence and the writing of checks to officeholders is not so plain.

    I get your point about people managing to know or not know things depending on their interests, but what does that have to do with me? I have no interest that would benefit from anything in McCain-Feingold.

  74. Bryan,

    You’re obviously head over heels for Mac Daddy there, so that’s where your vested interest lies.

    Mine? Well, I’m not running a campaign or seeking political jobs or federal contracts, nor do I have any plans to do so. So I’m not sure where my bias would come from.

  75. Crimethink,

    I will go back and look at that case again. If that is the case, I disagree with that. I don’t know that it makes McCain a hypocrite, but it makes me disagree with the law.

    It wasn’t that the Wis. group was coordinated with a campaign? What about the 527 Swift Boaters? My memory is that they were running ads right up to the election, no?

    Do you have a citation for the statute and for the case?

  76. joe,

    Remember Rathergate? All over the blogosphere, you had people engaging in heated arguments over whether typewriters in common use in the early 1970s could produce a superscript “th”.

    I don’t think any of those people had a vested interest in superscript “th”s, or typewriter history. But they did have a vested interest.

  77. No, not head over heels. I actually donated to Paul this election cycle. I just don’t think the law (as I understand it) is as bad as the Reason/George Will crowd make it out to be. And to me, it seems to be the real driving force behind most of their hatred of McCain. I do think he is the most reasonable and best option of all the candidates after Paul but I wouldn’t say that he’s my ideal candidate.

    He’s also a hell of a lot better than Bush, Rudy, the Huck, Edwards or Hillary.

  78. Here’s the Wiki article on the case, which includes a link to the decision PDF.

    Essentially, the SCOTUS said that ad was allowable, but unfortunately the “allowability” of ads within the 60-day period must be determined by courts on a case-by-case basis, making political speech a pain in the ass during that time.

  79. Okay, I will need to read the case and not the Wiki version. both because I want to see for myself, and also because while you and I may be giving this a fair discussion, you have to admit that there are a lot of people whose livelihood depends on this issue that might be coloring the description in the wiki-edited medium.

  80. Crimethink,

    From the Court’s summary in the Wis. Right to Life case: “The pertinent case law begins with Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U. S. 1, in which the Court held, inter alia, that a federal limitation on campaign expenditures not made in coordination with a candidate’s campaign (contained in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA)) was unconstitutional, id., at 39-51.”

    In other words, even since Buckley it’s unconstitutional to limit spending not coordinated with a campaign. So the only thing limited is coordinated expenditures (spending).

    From there, Buckley held that only those “express advocacy” ads that were coordinated with the campaign were subject to donation limits. Buckley defined “express advocacy” ads as ads that used magic words like ‘vote for,’ ‘elect,’ … ‘vote against,’ ‘defeat,’ ‘reject.’ Funding related to “issue ads” (or ads about public issues more generally) remained completely unregulated. Needless to say, all that happened was groups coordinated with a campaign, talked about the candidates, but got creative and avoided the magic words so that they could pretend they were “issue ads.”

    All McCain/Feingold did was say, “you know what, if you are mentioning a candidate by name with 60 days of an election, it’s probably an ‘express advocacy’ ad. Even if you aren’t using the ‘magic words.'” So Mc/F redefined what an “express advocacy” was. KEEP IN MIND though, since Buckley, the only regulation is over ads coordinated with the campaign.

    From there, the Court’s McConnell decision held that Congress could define ‘express advocacy’ as it had. The Wis. Right to Life case, however, held that in this case the ad really was more ‘issue ad’ than ‘express advocacy’ because the “ads may reasonably be interpreted as something other than an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.”

    If you want to get technical, that seems to me to be an activist decision (Congress created a bright-line rule and the Court substituted its own opinion in place of Congress’), but I doubt you’ll want to call it that since Scalia was in the concurrence and it goes your way. Still, the point is, Mc/F is not the sea-change that libertarians and the GOP want to make it out to be. It’s simply a definition of what is an advocacy ad, and only applies to expenditures coordinated with the campaign.

  81. Bryan,

    Wisconsin Right to Life was not coordinating with any candidate’s campaign, and they still had to get a court decision to give them permission to run their ads. So, plainly, (to risk conjuring joe up again) BPCFR does apply itself to expenditures NOT coordintated with campaigns.

  82. Congress created a bright-line rule and the Court substituted its own opinion in place of Congress

    The Court’s holding was that Congress’ “bright line rule” resulted in restricting political speech based on content, which runs afoul of the 1st Amendment. That’s hardly an activist stance.

  83. No, I was referring to you breaking out the old “anyone who can read the plain meaning” saw.

    We – meaning, the vastly larger number of citizens, judges, and constitutional scholars who disagree with you than agree with you – can read just fine, thanks.

    As opposed to the “the majority agrees with me, therefore I’m likely right, and thus don’t need to address the actual points you raised” saw?

  84. Dude, they were coordinating. Buckley was decided in 1976 and held that it’s unconstitutional to limit expenditures that are not coordinated with a campaign. Ergo, only groups coordinating need to worry about their expenditures. They don’t need to discuss the coordination in the opinion, because they wouldn’t be before the court if there was no coordination.

    Seriously, if you are going to rail on a piece of legislation as much as you guys rail on CFR, you should at least read and understand the cases you “disagree” with.

    Elsewhere in the opinion:

    “The Court invalidated, however, FECA’s limitation on independent expenditures (i.e., expenditures made to express one’s own positions and not in coordination with a campaign). Id., at 39-51.”

    and

    “Not surprisingly, “ostensibly independent” ads “were often actually coordinated with, and controlled by, the campaigns.” McConnell, supra, at 131.”

  85. “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech” is quite plain.

    The relationship between that second sentence and the writing of checks to officeholders is not so plain.

    joe, try real hard to step outside your vested interest in supporting policies pushed by Democrats and ask yourself that if a law abridges my freedom to support speech, either by myself or by a designated representative I feel can more effectively articulate my message than I can, and that speech is supported via me volunteering my time, money, or other in-kind help, does that law abridge freedom of speech?

    You’re in just as deep denial about that fundamental truth as Jefferson was about owning slaves yet maintaining that all men are equal. Trying to rationalize it by saying, well, you personally have to make the speech or it doesn’t count, or well, most people agree with my POV so it must be right — doesn’t make you right, no matter how cleverly and articulately you phrase it.

  86. The fact that you have to qualify it as “support speech” really questions which one of you is in denial about what speech is.

  87. I wonder if Matt’s book mentions McCain’s smear job on someone he didn’t like. Of course, being a member of congress, he was exempt from the law.

  88. Bryan,

    You’re telling me that a Congressman’s campaign coordinated with Wisconsin Pro-Life to run an ad asking constituents to call the Congressman about the PBA bill?

  89. From McConnel v FEC (2003):

    7. The District Court’s judgment is affirmed to the extent that it upheld the constitutionality of new FECA ?316(b)(2), and reversed to the extent that it invalidated any part of that section. BCRA ?203 extends to all “electioneering communications” FECA ?316(b)(2)’s restrictions on the use of corporate and union general treasury funds. 2 U. S. C. A. ?441b(b)(2). Because those entities may still organize and administer segregated funds, or PACs, for such communications, the provision is a regulation of, not a ban on, expression. Beaumont, 539 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 15). This Court’s consideration of plaintiffs’ claim that the expanded regulation is both overinclusive and underinclusive is informed by the conclusion that the distinction between express advocacy and so-called issue advocacy is not constitutionally compelled. Thus, the Court examines the degree to which BCRA burdens First Amendment expression and evaluates whether a compelling governmental interest justifies that burden. Plaintiffs have not carried their burden of proving that new FECA ?316(b)(2) is overbroad. They argue that the justifications that adequately support regulation of express advocacy do not apply to significant quantities of speech encompassed by the electioneering communications definition. That argument fails to the extent that issue ads broadcast during the 30- and 60-day periods preceding federal primary and general elections are the functional equivalent of express advocacy. The justifications for regulating express advocacy apply equally to those ads if they have an electioneering purpose, which the vast majority do. Also rejected is plaintiffs’ argument that new FECA ?316(b)(2)’s segregated-fund requirement is underinclusive because it does not apply to print or Internet advertising. The record here reflects that corporations and unions used soft money to finance a virtual torrent of televised election-related ads during the relevant period. Congress justifiably concluded that remedial legislation was needed to stanch that flow of money. Finally, ?304(f)(3)(B)(i), which excludes news items and commentary from the electioneering communications definition, is wholly consistent with First Amendment principles as applied to the media. Pp. 97-103.

    This decision is clear as mud, and I’m not sure if the emphasis helps here, but the Court is acknowledging that the 30- and 60- day bans apply to any issue advertising mentioning the candidate, even that not coordinated with a campaign. So, it would seem they qualified the 1976 decision you’ve been quoting from.

  90. The very fact that there is so much uncertainty around what MF actually allows and prohibits is in itself “chilling” on free speech.

    Which is one reason why the Founders tried to be as clear as possible (“Congress shall make no law . . .”), and why MF should have failed “strict scrutiny” analysis at the Supreme Court.

  91. As opposed to the “the majority agrees with me, therefore I’m likely right, and thus don’t need to address the actual points you raised” saw?

    Let me know when someone argues that.

    Because my point was that this many people – including a large majority of not just the public as a whole, but the experiences and educated experts on the subject – aren’t led to their position through the inability to read plain English that you smugly assume for them. There are actual points THEY raise that YOU just dismiss without addressing, because “U just can’t read good” makes you feel better.

  92. Bryan | January 6, 2008, 11:40pm | #

    The fact that you have to qualify it as “support speech” really questions which one of you is in denial about what speech is.

    Ouch.

    What Bryan said, prolefeed. Those are nice loop-de-loops in that comment. You should go for poet lauriate.

  93. Is there a more elegant explanation, you know, for simple folk like me?

    …cause when I hear that incumbent politicians have banded together and made it so that I can’t criticize them as I please before an election, or support their non-incumbent adversary, I just smell a rat.

    And, I don’t know, the relationship between giving money and speech, in this case, seems like the difference between buying a newspaper and a free press. To my non-attorney eye, that’s the way it looks to me, like McCain’s saying that although the Newspaper has freedom of the press, we don’t necessarily have the right to buy a newspaper.

  94. Crimethink,

    Yes, the Wis RTL group was coordinating the message with a candidate’s campaign. Buckley (which is still good law) says that their donations wouldn’t be regulated if they weren’t. That trumps anything in McConnel that you are reading to the contrary.

    To go to the points that you are citing, I admit that I don’t know the specifics. My strong suspicion, however, is that “electioneering communications” is term-of-art that is defined to only included those expenditures that are coordinated with a campaign. In fact, that assumption is supported by the very next sentence that says Because those entities may still organize and administer segregated funds, or PACs, for such communications, the provision is a regulation of, not a ban on, expression. The “segregated funds” that the group may still administer probably refers to uncoordinated expenditures.

    As for your second bolded sentence, the Court has already limited the universe to coordinated ads. (See e.g. Buckley and definitions of the law). They don’t need to keep mentioning it again. That’s simply not the way that judges write opinions.

    Listen, I can tell you are not a lawyer and this stuff is confusing to you but contrary to what RC Dean says, that doesn’t mean that its “chilling” free speech. Unless you are running an interest group that is coordinating with a candidate, you don’t really need to understand all the intricacies of the law. And if you are running such an interest group, it behooves you to consult with an attorney well-versed in the subject for a number of reasons in addition to CFR.

    Moreover, RC Dean, just because a bunch of so-called-libertarians can’t figure out what the law actually says because they have already made up their mind that its “unconstitutional” (without having ever actually read the law or the opinions, mind you), doesn’t mean that its any more confusing than most laws that Congress writes. I admit that most are confusing, but that doesn’t make them unconstitutional.

  95. Ken,

    You can criticize them as you please without any limitation on spending or on time or place of running an ad. You just can’t coordinate with a campaign to spread the candidate’s criticism without there being some regulation as to how much money you are collecting from each individual.

    The simplest way to understand CFR, is that it is a limit on the money that anyone individual can give to the campaign to spread the campaign’s message. Nothing else.

    All this other stuff is just defining what it means to give money to a campaign (e.g. ads coordinated with the campaign) and what is the candidate’s message (issue ads vs. advocacy ads vs. electioneering ads). Its a lot of legal definitions, but it doesn’t change the fundamental fact that the law is limited to money given to the campaign. Not money spreading your speech, spent on your own.

  96. You know, maybe an even better way to put it, is that it is a limit on the campaigns — not on you. Campaigns, however, can only accept a certain amount of money from each individual to spread their message. And groups directly coordinating with the campaigns have the same limits. Unfortunately, it may be the individual that gets punished if the law is broken, but that still doesn’t change the fact that the individual has a variety of ways that he can spread his message that are unregulated, as long as he just avoids coordinating with the campaign.

  97. “The simplest way to understand CFR, is that it is a limit on the money that any[]one individual can give to the campaign to spread the campaign’s message.”

    See I think that’s where you’re losin’ me. …if it’s a prohibition on individuals, then there’s a drop of blood in that pound of flesh somewhere.

  98. Speaking as a layman non-lawyer by the way, my favorite Amendment’s still the Ninth. I don’t know that it applies here, but then I’m not sure it doesn’t either.

  99. I’m going to try an analogy that may work or it may not. Let’s see.

    Let’s say that the Government runs an ice cream shop. Its good ice cream but it only makes 100 scopes a month. Wanting to make sure that everyone has equal access to the government’s ice cream, they pass a law that says that you can only get 1 scope from the Government ice cream shop per month. There is no limit on how much ice cream that you can buy from other shops though. This is not a limit on the amount of ice cream you can buy — only a limit on the amount you can buy from this one shop.

    That was basically the old Campaign Finance system. So then what happened a few independent ice cream shops started buying scopes of the government’s ice cream and reselling them. Recognizing that people could get 3-4 scopes of government ice cream a month by going through the independent shop, the government passed a further law that said you can only get 1 scope from the government shop, which includes government ice cream sold through the independent shop. In other words, ice cream whose purchase was coordinated with the government ice cream.

    Again, not a limitation on the amount of ice cream that you can buy — only the amount of government ice cream. Ice cream that the independent shop makes “independently” can still be purchased in as large of quantities as you wish.

    So in this analogy, the purchase of ice cream is speech. Its not limited in message or quantity, unless its funneled through the government source. You are free to buy as much truly independant ice cream as you want, or make as much as you want at home.

  100. You are free to buy as much truly independant ice cream as you want, or make as much as you want at home.

    So long as you are willing to run the risk that you may be audited, put on trial, and fined if you buy or make the same flavor of ice cream as the government and cannot prove that it is fully “independent” ice cream.

    That is the chilling part of this. You now have to jump through hoops and take non-zero legal risks in order to communicate your ideas about a candidate.

    Good lord, the people on this board, many with legal training, cannot agree on what is allowed and prohibited. Are you telling me that’s not raising the “transaction” costs of speech and deterring speech?

  101. RC Dean,

    I have seen no one contradict me that has actually read the law (other than briefly reading the summary at the front of 1 or 2 of the cases, and doing so after this discussion already started). Just becuase you are confused, does not mean it is confusing.

    And its not the “same flavor of ice cream.” Its the same ice cream. Either you are coordinating or not. Its not that hard to figure out. Have you been contacting the campaign to discuss your messages? If you have that kind of access to those in charge of dishing out the spoils, why shouldn’t you keep some records?

  102. Bryan,

    You’re arguing in circles. You’re saying that the law only applies to entities coordinating with a campaign; I offer WPL as a counterexample; and you say they must have been coordinating with the campaign, because if they hadn’t then the law wouldn’t apply to them.

    In fact, that assumption is supported by the very next sentence that says Because those entities may still organize and administer segregated funds, or PACs, for such communications, the provision is a regulation of, not a ban on, expression. The “segregated funds” that the group may still administer probably refers to uncoordinated expenditures.

    LOL! You’ve got a lot of gall lecturing me on how I shouldn’t talk about an issue I know nothing about, since you don’t even know what a PAC is. It’s not just anybody not coordinated with a campaign — it’s an organization that takes a lot of money, time, and an experienced legal team to set up and navigate thru all the red tape of federal election laws. Fact is, I can’t walk into my local radio station and give them a CD with a Ron Paul ad I want broadcast on it — only a PAC or a campaign can buy an ad which refers to a candidate for office <30 days in advance of a primary (or 60 days in advance of general elections).

  103. Oh, and its not the individuals’ burden to prove that they didn’t buy government ice cream. Its the government’s burden to prove that they did: “Government must prove that applying BCRA to WRTL’s ads furthers a compelling governmental interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.” See Wis. RTL.

    You are wrong on so many counts, but feel free to keep your fingers in your ears and humming loudly so you don’t have to confront the fact.

  104. I have seen no one contradict me that has actually read the law (other than briefly reading the summary at the front of 1 or 2 of the cases, and doing so after this discussion already started). Just becuase you are confused, does not mean it is confusing.

    Bryan, if you think its crystal clear to everyone in all circumstances what constitutes “coordinating” with a campaign or what counts as an “independent” expenditure, then I think you are shockingly naive in the ways of the world.

    Oh, and its not the individuals’ burden to prove that they didn’t buy government ice cream. Its the government’s burden to prove that they did.

    Yet, oddly, anyone who has a complaint filed against them will run up massive legal fees and mount a defense. Tell me again how running that risk isn’t chilling free speech.

  105. Ugh, crimethink. Its not circular, its the law.

    Buckley — the Supreme Court case — is still good law. Its says that it is unconstitutional to limit expenditures that are not coordinated with a campaign. End of story. I don’t know if WRTL was coordinating or not. I’ve been looking for some evidence but can’t seem to find anything for sure (although George Will [quoted below] seems to believe that they were not.)

    Regardless of whether they were or were not coordinating though, they didn’t make that an issue in the case. It doesn’t mean that its not a viable argument though. They may have choose not to make a “lack of coordination” argument because they were more interested in getting an up or down ruling on the time limit portion of the law. (As an aside, I suppose that there is a valid reason not to make an issue of coordinating, since if they weren’t coordinating, the Court likely would have focused its decision on that issue and ruled the other issues to be moot.) The point is though, whether they argued it or not, its an available argument under the law and if a group is not coordinating then they are not subject to the CF regulations. No one has argued otherwise since Buckley.

    (See even George Will [although I admit that I can’t find the case yet that he is talking about] “The majority on the three-judge court, preserving the distinction between electioneering and grass-roots lobbying, held that Wisconsin Right to Life’s ads were exempt from the McCain-Feingold election-eve blackouts of speech because the ads were not “coordinated” with a candidate’s campaign and did not engage in “express advocacy” – did not use the words “vote for” or “vote against” a candidate.”])

    In fact, Shays v. FEC III was on this very issue: Coordination. From the write up on Shays v. FEC III: In June 2006, the FEC replaced the invalidated rule with a new rule that provides for an even narrower coordination rule for congressional campaigns. Under the new rule, only advertisements by an outside spender disseminated within 90 days of a primary or general election for the House or Senate would be subject to coordination rules, unless the communications contained express advocacy. For presidential campaigns, the new rule applies the coordination standard from 120 days prior to the primary election until the date of the general election.

    http://www.democracy21.org/index.asp?Type=B_PR&SEC={613547E3-38CC-456A-BF97-F8DC1DC9A49C}&DE={D400CF9B-CE13-4ED0-974A-56C11E839051}

    Wis. RTL is only one small piece of the CFR puzzle. Your attempt to read it in isolation without knowledge of the decisions that came before it and the relationship between the WRTL org and campaigns is fairly frustrating.

    As for your point about PACs, I frankly can’t tell if you understood the sentence that I bolded. Of course PACs aren’t necessarily coordinated with a campaign. That is the point of the sentence. Organizations can form separate PACs or use segregated funds that are not coordinated with the campaign, and those expenditures would not be subject to the CFR regulations. That’s what the sentence said. Sorry you didn’t take the time to understand it.

    And I don’t know who or what has led you to believe that you can’t buy your own air time advertising Ron Paul. You absolutely can and you can do it within the time limits that you outline. If you coordinate that ad with the campaign, then you have to abide by the donation limits. If you don’t coordinate, you are free to take out as many ads as you want. Buckley held that was protected speech.

    Seems to me that your hatred of Mc/F steams from a complete misunderstanding about who and what is regulated. Your sources appear to have lied to you for years.

  106. Oh, Crimethink, and I know that PACs and individuals are different. The sentance quoted was in reference specifically to “entities” — not individuals. Its saying that entities have other options. They can seperate their funds or they can form seperate PACs. Meaning PACs that don’t coordinate. Individuals also have the same option in that, they can just not coordinate. If individuals are going to combine their money though (i.e. not pay for the ad entirely themselves), then yes, they will need to do it through an entity — one of which may be a PAC, whether it be coordinated or uncoordinated.

    I can’t see how you don’t get this.

  107. if you think its crystal clear to everyone in all circumstances what constitutes “coordinating” with a campaign or what counts as an “independent” expenditure, then I think you are shockingly naive in the ways of the world.

    Yet, oddly, anyone who has a complaint filed against them will run up massive legal fees and mount a defense. Tell me again how running that risk isn’t chilling free speech.

    If you don’t want to run the risk, don’t talk to the campaign before you take out your ad. Seems pretty clear to me. If you want to try to talk to the campaign, seems to me that you are trying to walk the line of what is and is not coordination. I have no sympathy for your legal bill in that case. What is difficult to understand about “just don’t talk to the campaign?”

  108. “Speaking as a layman non-lawyer by the way, my favorite Amendment’s still the Ninth. I don’t know that it applies here, but then I’m not sure it doesn’t either.”

    I mean, it seems to me that if the Ninth Amendment doesn’t suggest that there might be a right to give money to the candidate of your choice, it at least seems to suggest that the First Amendment maybe can’t be interpreted as narrowly Bryan seems to be suggesting.

    …am I wrong here? Why?

  109. Ken

    The 9th Amendment says: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    I am not sure I understand your argument.

    Are you arguing that there are “unenumerated” rights at issue that are “retained by the people?” If so, what are those rights? The right to give unlimited sums of money to a campaign? The right for a candidate to accept unlimited sums of money from an individual?

    If you are going to argue that it’s the right of “free speech,” you are wrong because (a) that would be an “enumerated right” not implicated by the 9th Amendment; and (b) the Court has already held that these regulations do not limit speech, as defined by the 1st Amendment.

    Lastly, if you meant the 10th Amendment (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people), that doesn’t really apply either. This is a regulation of federal elections and campaigns for federal office. That’s a power that is specifically delegated to the Federal Government, not a right retained by individuals or the states.

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