Media

Levelling the Playing Field Against Fringey McMoneypants

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He's rich, fringey, and has a funny name? BURN HIM!

If ever you wanted to see a tidy trifecta of journalistic contempt for 1) free speech objections to campaign finance laws, 2) non-establishment political actors, and 3) the little guy, look no further to today's asinine column by the New York Times' Gail Collins. Excerpt:

We have been entertaining ourselves with theories about how this election year is going to be all about voter anger. Or Washington insiders. Or health care. Or TARP. But, really, it's going to be about money. Gobs of cash falling on campaigns like tar balls on a beach. […]

Whenever we try to come up with a system that will even the playing field, the Supreme Court calls foul. Arizona has a clean elections law that rewards candidates who promise not to take money from special interests. Just this week, the court told Arizona that the state couldn't distribute matching funds under the program because it might violate the First Amendment rights of one fringe candidate named Buz who refused to take part in the system.

Actually, the First Amendment rights under consideration are not just Buz Mills', but those of every individual or group wishing to express their advocacy for Buz Mills by giving him campaign donations (which, under the Clean Elections Law, trigger matching dollars to each of his competitors, none of whom have to cope with the bureaucracy imposed on non-participating candidates). Also, the underlying lawsuit has nothing to do with Mills, but rather with a politician with an even funnier name–Dean Martin. Who, by the way, is participating in the Clean Elections system this campaign year even though he hates it, because it punishes non-participants.

Beyond all that, look at what Collins is doing–demanding that we "level the playing field" so that incumbent politicians have even more advantage over "fringe" outsiders who have access to money. If personal fortunes were all it took to win office, Collins' nightmare duo of Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina might be running against Al Checchi and Michael Huffington.

Jacob Sullum on Arizona's law here and here.

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  1. Would anybody would bother “buying” an election is there wasn’t such a fabulous rate of return?

    1. Yeah, that 2008 Obama dropped half his value as soon as he left the showroom.

      1. But the Constitution gives him a 4 year/40,000 mile power-train warranty.

        1. You shoulda bought the extended warranty.

          1. Thankfully, the extended warranty can only be negotiated at the end of the original warranty and can’t be re-renewed.

            1. Unless you buy a Certified Used Obama.

              1. That should be “previously enjoyed.”

    2. It can’t be worth what Meg Whitman spent. It just can’t. I really cannot grasp at all why she spent all that dough (!!!71M!!!) except for the fact that she’s so rich that she has nothing else to spend it on.

  2. A MSM journalist/commentator, missing the point?

    I am shocked, shocked!

  3. Whenever we try to come up with a system that will even the playing field

    Get back to me when your abiding concern for a level playing field extends to incumbents, you fucking stupid cow.

    1. Less rules = more level.

      1. Fewer. Rules are discrete.

        1. But she makes a point. I don’t exactly see how scads of uber-complicated campaign finance rules requiring the hiring of lots of high-power lawyers exactly levels the playing fields.

        2. I don’t know about that. Some can be quite flamboyant.

          1. “Bender’s dating service: discrete and discreet”

        3. Thanks. I appreciate that.

        4. I think we can use lesser laws as well as fewer of them.

          1. Even not as many would be better.

  4. I’m not going to waste my time reading the article, but:

    I don’t suppose she mentioned the $10MM that the unions just dropped on that Senate primary in Arkansas, did she?

  5. Gobs of cash falling on campaigns like tar balls on a beach.

    It is exactly this kind of literary sloth reinforcing my conviction that all newspaper columnists should be forced to submit their work written in quill on parchment they produced by hand.

  6. Gobs of cash falling on campaigns like tar balls on a beach.

    It is exactly this kind of literary sloth reinforcing my conviction that all newspaper columnists should be forced to submit their work written in quill on parchment they produced by hand.

    1. Stupid index finger.

    2. Stupid index finger.

    3. Stupid index finger.

    4. Stupid index finger.

    5. Stupid index finger.

    6. Tapping out the code.

  7. If personal fortunes were all it took to win office,

    the 1996 presidential election would have had Ross Perot defeating Steve Forbes.

  8. “Whenever we try to come up with a system that will even the playing field, the Supreme Court calls foul.”

    If you don’t like it, take over the government and run it the way you . . . Oh, that already happened.

  9. “A well regulated media being necessary to the defense of incumbents, the right of people to speech shall be infringed.”

    1. Can I get this embroidered on a throw pillow? I’ll pay the market clearing price for it!

    2. Well said and frighteningly accurate

  10. A MSM journalist/commentator, missing the point?

    Well, the point-point is that its readers get all tingly when the Times has a t?te-?-t?te with them in the oligarchical “we.”

    NO BUZ CLUB

  11. Gobs of cash falling on campaigns like tar balls on a beach

    Wait a minute. The tar is falling from the sky? Campaign money comes from the sea? Mixed metaphors hurting brain! Must…turn…away!

    1. Did any tar-balls from the BP spill make it to a beach yet? The initial waves of panic were non-BP spill tar-balls.

      1. Don’t you watch cable news? The beaches are running black with BP tar!
        It’s BPocalypse!

    2. And to really follow through with the metaphor, one must assume that either tar balls are good for the beach, or money is bad for campaigns.

  12. I met Al Checchi a few years back. What a fucking greaseball.

  13. Sports metaphors are hard!

  14. Ugh.
    Whenever we try to come up with a system that will even the playing field, the Supreme Court calls foul.

    Actually, we can have fun with applying Ms Collins’ illiberality elsewhere:

    Whenever we try to come up with a system that will [allow the indefinite detention and torture of terrorists], the Supreme Court calls foul.

    Whenever we try to come up with a system that will [prevent gay marriage], the Supreme Court calls foul.

    Whenever we try to come up with a system that will [ban flag desecration], the Supreme Court calls foul.

    Whenever we try to come up with a system that will [recognize America as a Christian nation], the Supreme Court calls foul.

    Note to liberals: the Bill of Rights is your friend, even though it doesn’t always give the answers you’d like in every single case.

    1. that should’ve read:

      note to “liberals”

      The current left-progressives do not deserve to be called liberals.

    2. Note to liberals: the Bill of Rights is your friend, even though it doesn’t always give the answers you’d like in every single case.

      But we want it ALL! All to ourselves! Wha! wha! whaaaaaa!

      [Stomps on the floor. Holds breath, passes out]

  15. Does Gail Collins by any chance want to see the “playing field” for news media leveled? Like, for instance making bloggers get licenses and subsidize share their wealth with the olde tyme news-on-paper gang?

  16. Dean Martin: Mr. Melon, I’m only going to ask you once…is this your work?

    Thornton Melon: I can’t lie to you, Dean Martin…yes, it is.

    1. In Mr. Melon’s defense, it was a really big check.

    2. Back to school. I miss Rodney.

  17. Clean elections are a scam.
    Excellent article by left newspaper:
    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com…..elections/

    1. Clean elections are a pipe dream. From the first time that I was able to vote, it’s always a choice of the lesser of two evils. It hasn’t changed and I’m now old enough to belong to AARP. As long as politicians make the laws, the law will always benefit the politicians and not the people.

  18. We do need to level the playing field. I demand a column in the New York Times. After all, it’s unfair that Gail Collins gets one and that I don’t.

    To make the playing field really level, I’ll drink a six-pack before I write the column. I’m not the best writer (as many here can attest), but after reading her piece, I think I need something extra to balance the crap factor.

    1. Yes, you would need a six-pack. Of scotch.

  19. I have trouble conceiving of the matching money as a punishment or a violation of freedom of speech. Either elections can be bought with campaign advertising or they can’t.

    Let’s suppose first they can’t. Then how is providing money for somebody else to speak in any way a punishment for your speech or a violation of your freedom of speech? It’s just more speech, that’s all, which is what free speech advocates are always saying the answer to speech should be.

    So now let’s suppose the above isn’t true. That would mean elections can be bought by advertising. In that case, the fair operation of gov’t (which is necessary for all freedoms to be upheld) must supersede the freedom issue narrowly, just like the laws against electioneering inside the polling places, and some sort of balancing mechanism is called for.

    1. Because it’s my money dipshit. And I don’t want it to go to the same people Gail Collins wants it to go to.

      1. Then it’s not a punishment of freedom of speech, just of your money. But what if the money were limited to the check-off, rather than being augmented by traffic fine surcharges?

    2. political: primary responsibility (1984-1994) for involving Howard A. Stern in the Libertarian Party

      LEAVE US, FOUL CREATURE!

      1. Be careful, Warty. He knows COBOL.

    3. There’s a third choice: money buys advertising (name recognition) but it doesn’t buy affection (votes).

      You need enough money so that voters know you and what you stand for, but all the money in the world won’t buy you the election.

  20. I have trouble conceiving of the matching money as a punishment or a violation of freedom of speech.

    Step 1: Recognize that forced speech is just as much of a violation of freedom of speech as prior restraint.

    Step 2: Recognize that freedom of speech encompasses more than merely speaking aloud, and includes the expenditure of resources to communicate.

    Step 3: Being forced to contribute money (via taxes) to fund a political campaign is a violation of freedom of speech.

    1. But the taxes are collected regardless. You shouldn’t try to argue against this particular type of gov’t program, which is said to be flush with cash due to voluntary use of the check-off, on the basis of opposition to taxes generally, by conflating that with a speech issue. Would it have been better for there not to have been such a choice on the tax form?

      You might as well say that a gun buy-back program is a violation of the right to keep and bear arms, because it’s tax funded and temporarily reduces the number of weapons in the potential market. Or that the right to assemble peaceably is impaired by gov’t-funded-and-run schools having assemblies.

  21. the fair operation of gov’t (which is necessary for all freedoms to be upheld) must supersede the freedom issue narrowly

    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

  22. Find happiness in slavery, P Brooks. Surely you’re better than Trent Reznor, and he managed it.

  23. The fair operation of government? What planet has Robert been living on?

  24. “If personal fortunes were all it took to win office, …”

    The Ross Perot would have been president.

  25. ‘Fringey McMoneypants’ – now that’s a name!

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