Coincidence? You Be the Judge
The Virginia Democratic Party is unveiling a new website meant to push the line that the Virginia GOP is too extreme: “In 2012, the radical, overreaching Republican agenda took Virginia backwards,” it says. “Don’t let 2013 be like 2012.”
At almost the same moment, The Washington Post unloads with an editorial about the “Virginia GOP’s war on moderates”: “Last year, Republicans in Richmond did their utmost to drive the state’s independent and swing voters into the Democratic column,” the paper says. “Now, as state lawmakers again convene in the capital for a 45-day legislative session, the question is whether Republicans, who control the General Assembly, have learned anything from the election. Early indications are they have not… . If … Republicans continue to dwell on sideshows, they will inflict damage on the state as well as on their party.”
The assessment of the GOP is probably more accurate than not. And I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest this was in any way orchestrated. Great minds think alike, they say, and fools agree, and so on.
Still, The Post is an advocate of campaign-finance reform (so called), which among other things frowns on message coordination between political parties and “outside groups” such as corporations, which The Post most certainly is. By its own standards, this is the sort of thing that might, as they say, “raise eyebrows” among those who would like to see Citizens United overturned… .
Hey, Remember When Citizens United Was Going to Destroy Democracy as We Know It?
Yeah, that’s pretty much over:
The Sunlight Foundation finds Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS spent more than $200 million on the elections but backed no winning candidates.
Zero return on investment. The GOP business skills at work.
The usual suspects screamed bloody murder about the power of money in politics — at least on the GOP side; they didn’t seem to mind the more than $1 billion the Obama campaign spent.
The figures above offer a refutation of their thesis. Campaign spending can’t buy an election any more than advertising New Coke and Crystal Pepsi could buy them market share.
Here Are Two More Corporations That Have Benefitted from Citizens United
On the political side, there is the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a nonprofit “social welfare” group that is permitted by the Internal Revenue Service to participate in politics. And there is Planned Parenthood Votes, a super PAC. Together, they are spending a record amount of money for Planned Parenthood on this year’s election — nearly $12 million, most of it attacking Republicans.
Corporations Gone Wild!
I don’t mind even one little bit that unions are spending heavily to influence elections. After all, such spending is a necessary part of political speech.(1)
I am a little surprised that the self-appointed watchdogs of campaign finance don’t seem bothered by it, though — or by the fact that said unions apparently have been under-reporting their campaign-finance activities:
Surely they don’t think corporate campaign spending by one side is wrong but such spending by the other side is okay? Man, whatever happened to speaking truth to power?
P.S. - Unions are corporations, too. Kind of an essential point, but one shouldn’t assume this is widely recognized…
In 2008 a nonprofit, incorporated group called Citizens United wanted to distribute a documentary about Hillary Clinton. But doing so during an election campaign would have violated a 2002 campaign-finance law prohibiting “electioneering communications” within 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.
A law that forbids American citizens to urge the election or defeat of a political candidate raises some obvious First Amendment concerns. During oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that book publishers are corporations. He asked the government’s lawyer if the law could prohibit publishing a book that said, “Vote for X.”
Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart said yes—the government “could prohibit the publication of the book.” Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 and former head of Common Cause, later agreed that “a campaign document in the form of a book can be banned.”
To its credit, the ACLU did not side with liberal censors. The provision in dispute is “facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment,” the ACLU said, “because it permits the suppression of core political speech.” And that is just how the high court ruled.
We stand for a free and open Internet.
We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:
Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.
Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.
Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.
Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.
Your Choice vs. Corporate Choice, Part 3
P.S., because I just can’t help myself once I get going:
If you don’t like the bookstore analogy, try the abortion analogy. There are many efforts to incommode abortion facilities by requiring them to meet the same standards as full-service hospitals regarding corridor width, etc. Virginia has just adopted precisely such a regulatory regime.
The whole point of those regulations is to reduce the incidence of consumers obtaining abortions. But according to Bloombergian logic, this does not affect consumers, it affects only the corporations providing abortions. C’mon.
P.P.S. — If the point of the soda-size restriction is NOT to constrain consumer behavior, then what is the point? Corporations don’t get fat. Corporations don’t suffer an obesity epidemic. The argument that the soda rules restrict only corporations and not individuals negates the very reason for passing them in the first place.
Your Choice vs. Corporate Choices
According to Peterfeld,
No one’s “choice” is being taken away [by NY mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda-size diktat]. Large-size portions are a “choice” made by Coke, Pepsi and 7-Eleven, not by you. … You still have the “choice” to buy and drink as much soda as you like … the restriction is on how it can be marketed to you. On corporations, in other words. And corporations are not people.
Hmmm. Suppose we try that with a mandate limiting newspapers to five articles a day. You could in that case argue that “no one’s choice is being taken away” because big newspapers with lots of articles are a “choice” made by The New York Times Co., Bloomberg (!), etc. You still have the choice to buy and read as much news as you want — the restriction is on how it can be marketed to you. On corporations, in other words. And corporations are not people.
Ditto for bookstores. What right do they have to sell all those stupid romance novels that rot your brain? How dare they sell misleading rags like National Review / The Nation / Mother Jones / etc.? We should be able to tell bookstores what they can stock, because after all they are corporations, not people. Real people need to be protected from dangerous ideas, because they can’t withstand the evil corporate marketers who try to sell them stuff. And anybody who says otherwise is a corporate tool, right?
Would anyone say limiting corporate choices in those instances would leave individual choices unscathed? I don’t think so!