January 5, 2007

In which I annoy you once again with the asssertion that I'm a moderate.

I took this test -- recommended by Andrew Sullivan -- and scored a 21 on a political scale that ran from 0 (100% liberal) to 40 (100% conservative). Sullivan scored 26, by the way.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds takes the test and, like me, gets a 21. Wouldn't it be freaky if he answered all the questions the same? Eugene Volokh critiques the test -- raising many of the points we've raised in the comments here -- but he doesn't reveal his number. I guess he refused to answer the questions.

In the comments, someone recommends this quiz: the World's Smallest Political quiz. I hate to tell you, dear readers, but that one puts me squarely in the "left liberal" quadrant.

Someone else recommends the Political Compass test. I think I've done this one before, but let's just say it's time for a check up. Here's where I am on their chart:
Economic Left/Right: -0.63
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.21
Did I take this one before? Actually, I don't think I have. I was confusing this with another one with a similar format.

142 comments:

Anonymous said...

27.

Jeff

Shanna said...

I scored a 29, but I really didn't want to answer some of those questions. Like, what is there to "trust" about the peace corps? Or the IRS?

I wanted to answer none of the above on many of those questions but that wasn't often an option.

Icepick said...

I scored a 27, although I don't think the poll is all that good. Getting to choose just one of two answers really limits one's ability to get any kind of nuance across. Also, is Reagan really the right-wing equivalent of Jesse Jackson? Once again, the problem is with trying to look at a one dimensional measure of the political spectrum, when there should probably be at least two dimensions.

Dave said...

This is a flawed test. Question 10 makes no sense; there ought to be a "neither" response. Neither stricter gun control nor mandatory sentences for criminals who use guns will curb violent crime.

Criminals are criminals for a reason; they will not be induced to not commit violent crimes merely because guns are harder to acquire legally, or that they will face decades-long sentences if they commit such crimes. The conceit that man, especially criminal man, is a rational being, and will therefore choose not to commit a crime if either the weapon is hard to acquire legally or the jail sentence is a long one, is a folly born of ignorance of human nature.

cakreiz said...

No surprise there, Pick. :)
I was a solid 21.

nina said...

This reminds me of a coversation I had yesterday with a close person. Do you think you're difficult? -- I was asked. The correct answer appeared to be that on some issues I am exceptionally easy to get along with and on others I am a pain. "Average" would have been the abolutely wrong answer, even though on average it would be the mathematically correct result.

Dave said...

Incidentally, despite the aforementioned flaws, I score a 31.

Were this a valid test this would imply that I am more conservative than three quarters of the country. Conservatives would laugh at this notion. A stupid, stupid, stupid test.

Anonymous said...

I can't resist a quiz. Must be all those years of reading Cosmo.

Too bad a lot of those questions give you only two choices. "Geez, can I say I don't trust either of them because they each have their own agenda?"

BTW, I scored 18, which is about what I had thought that I would before I'd even seen the quiz. Some of those choices appeared harshly worded, such as "Abolish public broadcasting." Sure, most of the stuff on PBS is crap, but "Abolish"? It makes it sound as if somebody is holding a gun to the head of Big Bird.

Because of the wording, I often found myself having to make a choice between holding my nose and jumping into the pool called "ruthless," or wussing out and making a choice that reflected more liberalism than I actually possess.

And I point this out, not because I'm the most fascinating person in the world, but because I can see this being a choice that's going to face many Democratic candidates and their possible voters for the next two years.

Gerry said...

I scored a 29.

I then, just for giggles, answered the questions as best I could figure Reagan would have, based on what I took away from his policies, his speeches, and his writings. "He" scored a 33. Either I am wrong about Reagan, or the authors of the test are, since they have him as a 40.

Meade said...

20

Anonymous said...

"U.S. interests are more seriously at stake in Haiti than they are in Korea."
You don't need to be a genius to answer this question but you do have to have a certain awareness and knowledge of current events.

"The news media is dominated by liberals."
Surely this is meant to determine whether you know about all the polls showing approximately 90% of the media votes Democratic and isn't intended to be an opinion question?

I agree that there needs to be more than one axis to determine political affiliation. I recommend the Pournelle Political Axes as being far more illuminating where I would come in at "various libertarians."
http://www.baen.com/chapters/axes.htm

Anyway I came out at 31 though like shanna found the questions to often be meaningless. And I do believe you Ann when you say you are a moderate. Those who don't believe you are just so far to your left that they can't distinguish you from evile people like me. It's more about their poor vision than anything about you.

And, your recent blowouts with various people on the right aside, I think you would find our big tent more welcoming than the Left's gulag where dissenters are summarily shot (excommunicated.)

The Exalted said...

do i "trust" the fbi or the irs more? what a stupid question, and what a stupid poll.

37921 said...

I got a 24, which, to my chagrin, is to the left of Andrew Sullivan. However, this test is flawed. Like where you have to pick who you trust more, the Post Office or the Pentagon. I trust neither, but I picked the USPS because it has the potential to do less damage. Likewise between the CIA and the Peace Corps. I picked the Peace Corps because all it does is send affluent young people on exotic vacations.

MadisonMan said...

18. But If I'd chosen RWR instead of FDR, I'd be 19. And I couldn't really decide between the 2 of them.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 10, which is what the survey authors thought Hillary Clinton would score in 1994. I don't think the representative political figures they used would necessarily line up the same today.

I agree with the above sentiments that as much as I like surveys like this, this one is not very useful.

Anonymous said...

I got a 30. I thought I would get a 35. I do agree that having Ronald Reagan as the most conservative score you could get was really lopsided. What would Michael Savage score, a 50? How about David Dukes, a 75????

But I did think it was fun and silly.

Trey

Henry said...

25.

Either there's some genius, Google-like algorithm at work, or the quiz is just bunk, as many of the questions seem to be non-sequiters. "Choose between these completely unrelated alternatives."

And with questions like "Talk radio shows should be regulated, etc. etc. (agree / disagree)" the quiz should be able to generate a "you are an idiot" score as well as a political rating.

I was happy to vote for Joycelyn Elders over Pat Robertson, though.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I read the comments first, then took the test, whereupon I scored a 40, which is what I was trying to achieve. I agree it's flawed.

Simon said...

I scored 30, but I do rather resent some of the questions - for example, as a normative question, I'm not opposed to the proposition that "[d]eceptive political campain commercials should be banned," but I believe that regardless of my preference on the issue, the question is absolutely foreclosed by the First Amendment. So do I say "agree," because I agree, or "disagree" because that more accurately reflects how I would vote were I a member of Congress? The survey also refers generically to "government" in several places - but in the United States, government is not monolithic. Thus, when question 5 asks "[w]here should government be cut," suppose I have no objection to the State of Indiana subsidizing the arts or running welfare programs, but would happily cut those programs at the Federal level. Do I tick the box that says that I want to abolish or reduce "government" spending on those things, even though I have no objection to a government spending money on them? There are also a few questions where you're being asked to chose the lesser evil, and I don't mind that as long as they are graded in terms of "dislike less" rather than "prefer."

Meade said...

MadisonMan to the left of me, Althouse to the right...

The Drill SGT said...

MadisonMan said...
18. But If I'd chosen RWR instead of FDR, I'd be 19. And I couldn't really decide between the 2 of them.


LOL MM, you surprised me. I got a 30 and picked FDR and the Peace Corps. I don't trust those SOBs in the CIA to stop leaks anymore.

it was a terrible quiz FBI or IRS?

Simon said...

Incidentally, let me say that I abstained on the gay marriage question. I've said in the past that I've become an agnostic on the issue, given the totality of the circumstances at issue, and I'm standing by that. So 30, give or take.

Anonymous said...

I scored a 34, but I also didn't think the quiz was very good. Especially the "trust" questions.

I picked the Peace Corps because all it does is send affluent young people on exotic vacations.

Ha. Same here.

Question 10 makes no sense; there ought to be a "neither" response.

I agree.

Gerry said...

"What would Michael Savage score, a 50? How about David Dukes, a 75????"

Savage is a lefty populist playing a perceived stereotype of a conservative.

David Duke is one of the few people who probably is best described as a Nazi- including the socialist parts. There are some who think the Nazis belong on the political right. There are others who think, as I do, that they are properly characterized as leftists. If you are interested in this, look for an essay by Michael Ramsey Steele on fascism or, if more ambitious, a book by Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihin called Leftism Revisited.

Anonymous said...

"Trust" is not a word that has ever come to mind when considering professional athletes and owners. Greed, yes.

Silly exam. Very poorly done.

Anonymous said...

Internet Ronin:

I picked team owners because I rarely hear of them raping, murdering, beating up random people, etc. Athletes on the other hand. . .

NSC said...

32

Simon said...

Freeman Hunt said...
"I scored a 34"

That really surprises me. I really expected you to clock in a little to the left of me. And I'm absolutely stunned that Gerry came in to my left.

Nina's comment (9:13 AM) seems analogous to the changes to the So-called Moderate Voice of late: they have some lefties, some righties, so they may thing they're moderate as a mathematical average of their posters' scores on this test, but as with Nina, "'Average' would have been the absolutely wrong answer, even though on average it would be the mathematically correct result."

Jeff said...

FDR or Reagan? Reagan voted for FDR, so does that make him a liberal?

Mortimer Brezny said...

This test is flawed. Question 10 asks, "Which would curb violent crime most?" Stricter gun controls, manadatory minimums for gun-crimes, or both. How about neither?

Mortimer Brezny said...

11. In the long run, do you think we can reduce crime more by building more prisons or providing more financial assistance to rebuilding our inner cities?

Neither! Why is neither not an answer?

Mortimer Brezny said...

I received a 26. More conservative than Bush the Elder, less so than Jack Kemp.

Patrick J. Shea said...

The quiz is pretty silly for all the reasons mentioned, but still a fun way to pass a couple minutes. I was a bit surprised to score a 19, but not horribly so. My prediction ahead of time was mid-20s.

The Political Compass (http://www.politicalcompass.org/) is a much better, albeit still flawed, test.

John Kindley said...

I scored a measly 24, but picked the IRS, Peace Corps and Postal Service for the reason other commenters chose them, so am happily more conservative than that in reality. Even though I "trust" the bloodsucking drones at the IRS more than the goons at the FBI, I respect what the FBI does a lot more.

Jennifer said...

My liberal inlaws think I'm a right wing nut and my husband's military friends think I'm a bleeding heart liberal. This quiz gave me a 25. Guess that all fits.

tjl said...

The test forces you to take positions more extreme than you want to, because the single alternative is worse. (Much like elections).

I scored 26, the same as Andrew Sullivan. That means he and I have two, but only two, things in common.

Veeshir said...

I got a 31, it changed to a 30 when I changed Ronnie Raygun to FDR. (I just wanted to see)

But it was pretty silly. For instance, the Pat Robertson/Jocelyn Elders should have had a "both" choice along with the "neither".

I especially didn't like the possible answers to the "competitive elections" question. They should have included "eliminate gerrymandering". That's the biggest reason there are so few competitive elections anymore.

Balfegor said...

I get 33, which seems about right.

Re: Gerry:

David Duke is one of the few people who probably is best described as a Nazi- including the socialist parts. There are some who think the Nazis belong on the political right. There are others who think, as I do, that they are properly characterized as leftists. If you are interested in this, look for an essay by Michael Ramsey Steele on fascism or, if more ambitious, a book by Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihin called Leftism Revisited.

Going through, and voting as a Nazi, I came out as 16. Of course, about half of the questions aren't really properly analogisable to the Weimar situation. The Haiti-Korea issue, for example -- no real analogue (I said Korea, though).

And some, the answers probably just map in unexpected ways. E.g. for 23:

23. The breakdown of the traditional family is the most serious domestic crisis facing our society.

The Nazi answer is "No, it's that everything is controlled by the Jews," which is probably not the "no" answer the test contemplates. Also, for number 8:

Do you see the ideal America as an ethnic "melting pot" in which religious, cultural and ethnic distinctions are blurred, or as a nation in which ethnically diverse groups ought to coexist while retaining their cultural identity?

I guessed a Nazi would put down that it ought to be a multicultural society, but that's only because they hate racial and cultural mixing, and think all non-Aryans should be segregated out and exterminated -- unlikely to be an answer contemplated by the tests' designers.

But overall, because the of Nazis' overwhelming support for a massive bureaucratic state with high taxes on everyone, and support for government regulation of everything, I think they get pulled way back toward the political centre on this particular exam. I suspect that, similarly because of economic populism and support for government regulation (e.g. of political campaigning, political commentary, etc.), American Nazis like David Duke come out roughly centrist too.

Paddy O. said...

Silly exam. Very poorly done.

But aren't elections, for the most part, silly too? It's nice having clear philosophic boundaries in political conversations, but when I go to the voting booth I'm often faced with silly questions and candidates.

This isn't about political philosophy as much as practical action.

If I had to choose, which way would I go? Elections make me choose.

Oh, I got a 21... which given my location identifies me, I guess, as a Schwarzenegger republican.

The Drill SGT said...

well I went back and tried for a low score and got a 1 this time. I can't figure out where I failed to live up to the Jesse ideal though.

perhaps the most absurd answer?

3. What about private institutions and people? Which do you trust more?

Trial Lawyers or
Doctors?

dklittl said...

David Duke is one of the few people who probably is best described as a Nazi- including the socialist parts. There are some who think the Nazis belong on the political right. There are others who think, as I do, that they are properly characterized as leftists.

Your odd notions about Nazism aside, Duke's support was ALL from the right. And Michael Savage is a FORMER liberal whose best contribution to the country is the right's favorite Muslim descriptor of "Islamofacism".

I can definitely see why you would want to distance yourself from those two loons, but acting as if they don't share a considerable amount with your ideological brethren is just pure denial.

Anonymous said...

In which you confirm once again the assertion that your readers are not very liberal at all.

Glenn Howes said...

I got a 36.
I win. I win.

Is Bob (tax collector for the welfare state) Dole really a 35? What would the current President Bush be, a 27?

The FBI or the IRS? Flip a coin.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem with the 'trust' questions is the fact that trusting some group has nothing to do with supporting them. I 'trust' the IRS to be an overly complicated bureaucracy that takes my money, but that doesnt mean I support them.

Marghlar said...

18.

Simon, do you really think the First Amendment would prohibit the regulation of outright lies in political advertising? Or are you interpreting the question so that "deceptive" = "misleading"?

tcd said...

I landed in Bob Dole territory. I actually took the poll yesterday through a link at The Anchoress's blog. I swear to you, Ann, I only go there after I visit your blog.

SteveR said...

Not a really good quiz but I scored 27 so it seems to reflect my own evaluation.

Meade "stuck in the middle again"

Shanna said...

"Trust" is not a word that has ever come to mind when considering professional athletes and owners. Greed, yes.

Yes, none of the trust questions made much sense, but this one even less so. Plus, I *guess* that if you voted owners you got conservative points and if you voted players you got democrat but really, what are you supposed to show from that? I don't hear about alot of owners going to jail for criminal charges, and that's why I voted against the players. But that's not really political, is it?

Now, if you were asking who I trust to make a touchdown, then it would be the players all the way.

Adam said...

10, but if this is scored the same was as in 1994, it's bogus -- because a different party was filling the Joint Chiefs, etc., back then.

Anonymous said...

I went the "ruthless" route on all those impossible choices and ended up with a 33. My husband would laugh at that, since he knows I'm really a lot more squishy than a 33 score would indicate.

Serenity Now said...

Melinda: Some of those choices appeared harshly worded, such as "Abolish public broadcasting." Sure, most of the stuff on PBS is crap, but "Abolish"? It makes it sound as if somebody is holding a gun to the head of Big Bird.

P.J. O'Rourke might argue, better Big Bird than the rest of us:

".... all tax revenue is the result of holding a gun to somebody's head. Not paying taxes is against the law. If you don't pay your taxes you'll be fined. If you don't pay the fine you'll be jailed. If you try to escape from jail, you'll be shot. Thus, I - in my role as citizen and voter - am going to shoot you - in your role as taxpayer and ripe suck - if you don't pay your share of the national tab. Therefore, every time the govt spends money on anything, you have to ask yourself, ‘Would I kill my kindly, gray-haired mother for this?’"

AJ Lynch said...

I got a 30 and picked FDR over Reagan. I believe, with the exception of Lincoln, FDR presided over the most difficult of times during his 4 terms.

Ruth Ann:

You were trying to get a 40? so you figured reading the comments first would help huh? Would not have pegged you for that far of a rightie.

Pogo said...

What's 'trust' got to do with anything? Hell, I don't even trust myself, the dumb sonofabitch.

I don't care for players or team owners.

Where's noneoftheabove?

Why didn't the quiz tell me I'm handsome, good in bed, adored by friends, the envy of my enemies, afraid of 30 year old pillows, and loves small children, dogs, and walks along the beach?

Wrong quiz?

Joe Baby said...

43.

Anonymous said...

Simon, do you really think the First Amendment would prohibit the regulation of outright lies in political advertising?

Seems to have worked that way so far.

Or are you interpreting the question so that "deceptive" = "misleading"?

Is there a difference?

Any answer depends on your personal political viewpoint and the viewpoint supporting the supposed "outright lies," I think. Highly subjective.

(Don't believe me? Let's try: Subject: Max Cleland. Subject: Jim Talent. Enjoy the fireworks.)

Mark Daniels said...

Like others, I thought the test was silly.

Whether one trusts one branch of government over another depends on who's in charge.

Government can solve some problems, but is helpless in the face of others.

On what basis does one judge between some of the paired agencies of government?

I see the Religious Right as a bigger threat to Christianity than to our political system.

There was no allowance for the very moderation of opinion that you say characterizes your politics, Ann.

I'm a pro-government moderate conservative who thinks that the neocons are just big government people with different ends from those usually labeled as liberals. But just like classic liberals, they want to go on military crusades and spend us into oblivion.

I'm also an evangelical, though mainline, Christian. I believe Jesus is Lord and am committed to evangelism. But I don't think that government should co-opted as a tool for foisting my beliefs on others.

I routinely vote a split ticket, although in recent years I've been registered Republican and have voted for more Republicans than Democrats, looking at the tickets top to bottom.

I call myself a moderate conservative. But according to this survey, I tilted toward the liberal side with a score of 12.

The survey was silly for its lack of nuance.

Unfortunately, I don't think it really helps your argument, Ann.

Mark

Mark Daniels said...

PS: I don't like Bill or Hillary Clinton. Yet my 12 puts me near them philosophically. Uh, no.

Mark

Anonymous said...

Gerald:

I picked team owners because I rarely hear of them raping, murdering, beating up random people, etc. Athletes on the other hand. . .

Whatever floats your boat, I guess. Sounds like it happens all the time in your world. Not in mine. The sample sizes are not remotely similar, either.

FWIW, Ronald Reagan=40 and Hillary Clinton=10 (not to mention some others). ROFLMAO! Yet more evidence that perception, not reality, matters.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add to the end of my last comment:

No wonder Andrew Sullivan recommends this: it is all about personal perception and has little or nothing to do with objective reality.

Anonymous said...

I have the sad disctinction of having two relatives (cousins whom I love dearly) vote for David Dukes.

They voted that way because they are racists and believed that blacks were ruining New Orleans. I am not a racist, but I do believe racist black politicians ruined New Orleans. Chocolate city anyone? They also tend to vote Republican. So I have to agree that Duke's support came from the right.

Embarassed again, but truthful to the end, I remain:

Trey

Ann Althouse said...

There were too many questions where you were asked which of two things you like better, and I didn't like either one very much. Who do you trust more the executive or the legislature? I really didn't want to answer that one. Don't you pretty much have to hold your nose and answer "legislature," even if you can't stand the legislature? And some of the pairings force you into an inaccurate answer. Everyone (almost) is going to trust the Post Office more than the Pentagon and doctors more than trial lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Some questions don't allow you to answer both or neither but those answers don't change your score one way or the other. So where the test says "both" or "neither" you can interpret it as "both/neither".

Ruth Anne Adams said...

AJ Lynch: I read the comments, saw that the exam was flawed and tried to see how far right I could get. The "right" answer was so obvious so often that I scored a "perfect right" of 40. I'm pretty far right, but that was me manipulating an easy-to-spot test. Plus I used the Althousian test technique of [b]eliev[ing] -- even if it's pure delusion -- that you're having a wonderful time taking the exam.

Cat said...

Yeah, this test is as silly as the poll questions in the other post.

I scored a 29.

Like everyone else - RWR or FDR? Can I say both? Different people for different times and circumstances. A better question would be WJC or RWR.

Damian P. said...

25. In other words, I'm further right than Althouse or Glenn Reynolds, and further left than Andrew Sullivan. In other words, WTF?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Even though I "trust" the bloodsucking drones at the IRS more than the goons at the FBI, I respect what the FBI does a lot more.

Exactly!

Everyone (almost) is going to trust the Post Office more than the Pentagon and doctors more than trial lawyers.

Oh, not I! I trust trial lawyers in the sense that I know exactly what they do because I have to in order to beat them for my clients; I certainly don't think the worst trial lawyer is worse than the worst doctor. You can disbar attorneys and disgorge fees, but bad doctors irrevocably ruin people's lives. Plus, no doctors I know take their own advice. But I still support tort reform and think defensive medicine is a problem, i.e., I'm conservative.

As for the Pentagon, I trust the Pentagon more than the Post Office not to screw up my mail! And I trust the Pentagon will work to advance its interests with perfect efficiency.

LoafingOaf said...

I scored a 25, so I'm between Althouse and Sullivan. I'm okay with that.

I would've tied Sullivan had I said I trust team owners more than athletes, but...

Gerald Hibbs:
I picked team owners because I rarely hear of them raping, murdering, beating up random people, etc. Athletes on the other hand

...since Art Modell moved my old Browns to Baltimore after lying his ass off, and since the Indians' owner is a cheapskate, I'm a bitter boy about owners.

Hillary Clinton a 10? She must be doing a good job conning me, because I'd have her a bit more moderate than that.

Althouse: Don't you pretty much have to hold your nose and answer "legislature," even if you can't stand the legislature?

Yeah, I paused on that one, but finally had to go with the legislature.

Anonymous said...

I tried to take the test, but halfway through, the website asked me to stop, as I was frightening the other participants.

Anonymous said...

Another forum I post at has the same quiz linked. From the responses here and there, it seems to skew people more conservative than skew them more liberal. At least, I have the impression of more people complaining about having too high a score than too low. That's my personal impression as well, as this gave me a 31, where most others place dead center or slightly right.

If y'all want to have some real fun, there's a test put out by. . .I'm thinking Stanford(?) that measures racial attitudes. It's been profiled in the NY Times and elsewhere, usually with some good, (white) PC leftist being flabbergasted that they could end up being so unconsciously racist.

pre-Update: It's the Implicit Association Test. My one time taking it had me slightly preferring black people.

Bill said...

39! Woo hoo!

Changed my answer to trusting the Pentagon more than the post office, and got a 40! That's a stupid comparison, I distrust neither. Post office does a good job for the money. Actually I distrust the Pentagon to spend wisely.

Bill said...

39! Woo hoo!

Changed my answer to trusting the Pentagon more than the post office, and got a 40!
That's a stupid comparison, I distrust neither. Post office does a good job for the money. Actually I distrust the Pentagon to spend wisely. Why is thinking Korea more important the Haiti, more conservative?

There are a few false dichotomies in this quiz.

hdhouse said...

AHHH I GOT A 7!!!!!! I think i'm in first place. WOOOHOOOO

Al Maviva said...

I got a 30 but only because of some marginal false binary picks. I actually trust the Pentagon more than USPS because USPS IS READING YOUR MAAAAIIILLL! No, actually they've recently lost a bunch of my stuff, botched an international delivery... but neither is a good choice. Reagan v. FDR - both did amazing things, they are in that stellar constellation, but they had different challenges. Legislative or judicial... I don't know, can't they both lose? And so forth.

So anyhow, I'm like the male Hillary Clinton. Or Jack Kemp. Cripes.

Vilmar said...

So proud to have gotten a 38. Sorry, Ronnie, I tried to get a 40.

Anonymous said...

Only snagged myself a 37.

[sniffle]

Nobody's perfect.

hdhouse said...

Wow...so many of you missed so many obvious answers. Composite for those so far seems to be around 28 or so give or take.

My 7 is looking awfully good right now. What is the prize? There is a prize isn't there? Table for 4 at Abranov's? Front seat at the DeLay trial? Separate checks with Hastert at the Pig and Whistle? Some of Foley's old boy scout uniforms?..What what what.

Uncle Fester said...

37

Shoot! Gotta figure out which ones I missed!

Uncle Fester

Anonymous said...

33. So what? Who is the designer of this test to catagorize everybody else? poorly designed. For me many questionjs had no correct answer.

Simon said...

Marghlar said...
"Simon, do you really think the First Amendment would prohibit the regulation of outright lies in political advertising? Or are you interpreting the question so that 'deceptive' = 'misleading'?"

Well, I'm not a First Amendment absolutist; I mean, I don't go even as far as Justice Black, and I certainly don't say that the First Amendment prohibits any restraint of any communicative activity by any form of government action. So I was careful to note only the political speech issue raised by question 19, not the obscenity issue raised by question 20.

What I do think, however, is that whatever else it prevents government from doing, the absolute core protection of the First Amendment is that a Federal statute that imposes content-based prior restraint on political speech is void.

It seems to me that, consistent with the First Amendment's limitations, the best way to deter blatant lies is a law that provides for expedited consideration by the courts of libel and slander claims arising from electioneering, conjoined with prohibitively massive penalties for a person or entity found guilty, and the best way to deter misrepresentation is to allow candidates and their supporters to raise and spend as much money as they like in rebutting those claims.

By the way, I'm not ignoring your last email, it's just that it raised questions that I needed to do some research for, and I just never got back to it. I'll try to address it when I get back into the States next week. :)


Ann Althouse said...
"Who do you trust more the executive or the legislature? I really didn't want to answer that one. Don't you pretty much have to hold your nose and answer "legislature," even if you can't stand the legislature?"

On an institutional level, I instinctively trust the legislature far more than I trust the executive, but it seems to be the American way to see the legislature as the most dangerous branch - hence, many states keep the legislature out of session as much as possible (at the extremes, in Texas and Montana, for example, the legislature meets every two years, which I think is utterly crazy), even though that means the executive branch operates with minimal adult supervision the majority of the time. My view, I think, is a consequence of growing up in a country where the legislature is functionally subordinated to the executive and then moving to a country where the legislative branch is independently powerful. The experience of living under another system of government makes one appreciate the American system all the more.

Still, I would have thought that you would more naturally gravitate towards the legislative branch, Ann. The business of legislating, in a well-designed system, is the business of people working to find common ground and compromise, which is an inherently moderate endeavor.

A Hermit said...

Try this one:

http://www.politicalcompass.org/

Much better, I think.

John Kindley said...

"Don't you pretty much have to hold your nose and answer "legislature," even if you can't stand the legislature?"

Exactly. That's what I thought and did. Figured I had to answer that way for the same reason I want the legislature to set public policy rather than judges. But it sure is depressing what passes for "deliberation" in our legislative bodies.

I for one did choose trial lawyers over doctors. Not sure what I was thinking. (Maybe about Howard Dean and other M.D.'s with nanny mentalities?) I'm sure that cost me a few points.

Marghlar said...

ME: Simon, do you really think the First Amendment would prohibit the regulation of outright lies in political advertising?

IR: Seems to have worked that way so far.


Really? As I understand it, a number of states outlaw deceptive political advertising. Only Washington, so far as I know, has found false statements made with actual malice to be protected under the First Amendment (the "Vote NO" case), and that was over strong dissents. A law of that type was upheld in the 70s in NY (I think the name of the case is Vanasco). What evidence do you have that there is a recognized protection of deliberate falsehoods uttered in a political campaign (other than the solitary Washington case)? Any case citations?

And I do think there is a distinction between misleading statements and deceptive ones. A statement can be misleading while being both believed by its maker and literally true. A deceptive statement, by contrast, includes those that are outright lies -- known by the speaker to be false when made. One can regulate deception without getting into muddy waters about truth and falsity, by focusing on the speaker's belief regarding the statement. We do this in defamation litigation all the time, courtesy of NYT v. Sullivan. Right?

Kirby Olson said...

22.

I suppose your blog then attracts people who are in the middle. By the way, could you say what blogs you read regularly and ENJOY?

I just read this one and Ronsilliman.blogspot.com. He's a kind of leftist poetry guy from
Berkeley but in poetry he's great to start up conversations. I enjoy arguing with poets.

Kevin L. Connors said...

This is far inferior to the good old Nolan chart.

Marghlar said...

What I do think, however, is that whatever else it prevents government from doing, the absolute core protection of the First Amendment is that a Federal statute that imposes content-based prior restraint on political speech is void.

It seems to me that, consistent with the First Amendment's limitations, the best way to deter blatant lies is a law that provides for expedited consideration by the courts of libel and slander claims arising from electioneering, conjoined with prohibitively massive penalties for a person or entity found guilty, and the best way to deter misrepresentation is to allow candidates and their supporters to raise and spend as much money as they like in rebutting those claims.


Well, of course it's a problem if it is a prior restraint. I'm talking about something that is quite common: states prohibiting fraud in electoral speech (even absent their being a victim in the defamation sense). Plenty of states prohibit people from telling deliberate lies in electoral campaigns. Sometimes such speech might be cureable with counterspeech, but not always. You seem to suggest that the states should be prohibited from outlawing outright lies in election speech (you wouldn't be alone here -- the Wash. Supr. Ct. would agree -- see the 119 Vote No! Committee case) -- is this your position?

Anonymous said...

AHHH I GOT A 7!!!!!! I think i'm in first place. WOOOHOOOO

9 here. Congrats!

One free subscription to Counterpunch :)

vbspurs said...

Dear God, I'm Bob Dole (35).

Like many people, no doubt, I found these questions simplistic, redundant, and sometimes even insulting.

It wasn't as bad as a political quiz I took once, whereby how you answered placed you on a graph next to famous co-ideologues.

Most of those with liberal bents, scored closest to the likes of the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, and Bill Clinton.

Whereas conservatives practically had only GW Bush, Paul Martin (?) and Hitler to compare themselves to.

I scored closest to Gerhard Schröder and Paul Martin, since apparently, to some, those are the leading lights of Conservatism now.

*rolls eyeballs*

Anyway, I am against taxes, and against banning anything. And no, I'm not a Losertarian.

I'm just sensible.

Cheers,
Victoria

Anonymous said...

Marghler: Perhaps you don't believe that the millions spent by so-called "independent expenditure campaigns" for so-called "issue advocacy" ads are not "deceptive," and intentionally so. I do.

Like I said, it usually depends on one's political point of view (and whether one's preferred ox is the one being gored). As for myself, I don't make a distinction between Swift Boat Vets for Truth and MoveOn.org or any of the others. They are lying when they say what they are doing is "issue advocacy." While many people are happy to believe in that lie when it suits them, and others (like our courts) like to pretend they believe, I choose not not to participate in this particular suspension of reality.

If you do, go for it. Won't change the fact that it remain a lie, though.

We do this in defamation litigation all the time, courtesy of NYT v. Sullivan. Right?

We do? News to me.

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, Victoria came back. Just when I was beginning to think she'd reconfigured as Maxine Weiss!

Anonymous said...


Dear God, I'm Bob Dole (35).

What a line! And thanks, Victoria: my keyboard needed cleaning and it was only water this time ;-)

Ann Althouse said...

Wouldn't it be cool if all the old commenters came back? I'm going to make a post about this.

vbspurs said...

Hey, Victoria came back.

Thanks, Ann. It's good to be back "home".

Just when I was beginning to think she'd reconfigured as Maxine Weiss!

I was all like, who? Did I miss an obvious cultural reference, perhaps due to my insistence on disdaining popular television?

So I Googled, and the very first hit was a Blogger reference.

Miss Weiss seems like a great lady, but unfortunately, she lists "Politics" amongst her interest.

If people bothered to check my Blogger info, you'll see I have "I loathe Politics" as mine.

I do. I do. Oh boy, I do.

Cheers,
Victoria

Sterling said...

"There ain't nuthin' in the middle of the road but yellow lines and dead armadillos." I scored 34 and I'm embarrassed it was that low.

Thorley Winston said...

I got a 26, largely by not accepting the false choices of questions 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10, while 19 and 20 I would generally not opt for a ban in most cases but I could see an extreme exception.

Marghlar said...

Perhaps you don't believe that the millions spent by so-called "independent expenditure campaigns" for so-called "issue advocacy" ads are not "deceptive," and intentionally so. I do.

Oh, alright. We use deceptive in different ways, I think. I usually think that it means intentionally misleading in terms of its content. You seem mainly focused on the fact that these groups are taking advantage of legal loopholes that may not be appropriate for their goals. I think that's right, as far as it goes, but since I oppose McCain-Feingold and other limits on the amount of available political speech, I don't have a huge problem with 527s and other groups finding creative ways around those restrictions.

What I was talking about when I addressed Simon's comment was the idea that we ought to be allowed to regulate deceptive content in political advertising -- by which I mean deliberate lies. Maybe that's a fine distinction, but I think it is an important one.

Anonymous said...

26. Dorky test. All my conservative friends think I'm a flaming liberal. All my liberal friends think I'm a heartless conservative. Turns out I score the same as Andrew Sullivan, who I think is nuts. At least I'm in the middle third -- I guess that's something.

Anonymous said...

Besides, who needs the Peace Corps?

Anonymous said...

Score: 36

Some of these questions seem to reveal more about the author of the quiz than true differences between left and right. I agree with the comment that Reagan probably wouldn't have scored a '40,' and some questions are non-sensical. Where would JFK have scored? Over 20 pts., I'd bet.

The Drill SGT said...

hdhouse said...
AHHH I GOT A 7!!!!!! I think i'm in first place. WOOOHOOOO

LOL, I got a 1, though it was by trying hard. I could not figure out how to get a zero.

go back and break the code the me?

hdhouse said...

Melinda said...

BTW, I scored 18.... Some of those choices appeared harshly worded, such as "Abolish public broadcasting." Sure, most of the stuff on PBS is crap"

Perhaps the entire "quiz" was a self justification issue by the right wing..I mean where else can you get a perfect score and only get a 1....but I take issue with your PBS comment...what on PBS remotely competes on the swill-o-meter with the garbage found on broadcast television?

Ed said...

39.

Which one did I get wrong?

Shanna said...

As for myself, I don't make a distinction between Swift Boat Vets for Truth and MoveOn.org or any of the others. They are lying when they say what they are doing is "issue advocacy."

I agree, but I don't have a problem with it because I think you should be able to run any kind of political ad you want, as long as you aren't lying outright (in which case you should be prosecuted for it).

Anonymous said...

A survey designed for liberals, and based on the misguided notion that our opinions about the issues and public figures represent our personal idealogy. More fodder for the sheep on both sides of the field.

Darren B

Peg C. said...

34. Considering I'm an ex-Lefty, that's about right. I'm also against banning anything and against taxes. These days, I'm against government in general, except for defense and law enforcement. Wish they'd asked about the U.N.

downtownlad said...

I'm a 28 on the pointless test.

On the other one, which was pretty good, I got the following:

Economic Left/Right: 8.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.44

Which means I am right at home with Milton Friedman.

vbspurs said...

But Peg C. they did (kinda) ask about the UN.

"The Joint Chiefs or
The United Nations?"


Granted, not a very probing question, but none of them were very insightful (especially that dopey Haiti/Iraq one).

Of course, that question above has more to do with your military/peace stance, than anything to do with the UN, per se.

P.S.: Glad to be of help, Internet Ronin! Now let's hope I don't post this twice by mistake, like I did with the Borat post.

Cheers,
Victoria

Simon said...

Marghlar,
I would have thought that a broad, prophylactic law prohibiting deception in pre-election campaign materials is by definition a content-based prior restraint on political speech?

To be sure, I don't think this is necessarily the very best result, on a normative level, and I think that the states can and should find ways to disincentivize duplicitous campaign advertising, as indicated above, but as in all things, those laws and regulations should be consistent with the restraints in the Constitution, which of course permits (and, indeed, sometimes requires) results that may be cumbersome or unfortunate.

Re the Washington case, do you mean State ex rel. Pub. Disclosure Comm'n v. 119 Vote No! Comm., 135 Wn.2d 618, 624, 957 P.2d 691 (1998)? I've not read it before, so I comment at my peril; findlaw ddoesn't go back that far, but assuming that this is an accurate reproduction, then sure, that's a very good exposition of where I sit on the matter. (The Washington case, OTOH, doesn't fall into the absolutecore zone of minimum protections I noted earlier, because it is not a law enacted by Congress). In light of his book, however, have little doubt that this case would not persuade Justice Breyer, who would no doubt share Justice Talmage's peculiar idea that it is relevant to the case that "[t]he majority is ... shockingly oblivious to the increasing nastiness of modern American political campaigns ... [a trend] highlighted by a 'win at any cost' attitude involving vilification of opponents and their ideas"). ;)

(I do reserve the point that a somewhat different standard may apply to evaluating state actions contravening the Bill of Rights, to the extent that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the protections of the Bill of Rights against the states as they were understood to apply against the Federal government in 1868, while the Bill of Rights prohibits Federal actions violating its terms as those terms were understood in 1791).

Anonymous said...

hdhouse asks:

what on PBS remotely competes on the swill-o-meter with the garbage found on broadcast television?

I wasn't even thinking of broadcast TV when I wrote that. I was thinking of A&E, Bravo, History Channel...standard cable channels that seem to have more of the stuff you used to find on public TV decades ago.

Whereas every time I turn on Channel 13 in NY, there's the same Doo-Wop Show broken up by 25 pledge breaks.

vbspurs said...

J Wolfe wrote:

Where would JFK have scored? Over 20 pts., I'd bet.

You bet.

The last president to balance the budget until Clinton, with a hawkish foreign policy, but idealistic social IDEAS (rather than programmes. An important difference. He was not a New Dealer, like Johnson).

I found your question intriguing, so I went ahead and filled out the quiz as I think JFK would've answered.

Most of us could, but perhaps there are some quibbles, like for example, I answered this as I thought he might:

YES

Eliminate farm subsidies
Cut defense spending
Cut entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicaid, etc.)
Reduce welfare spending
Reduce environmental regulation
Cut taxes

NO

Eliminate subsidies to the arts
Abolish public broadcasting
Keep illegal immigrants from receiving public education
Don't cut at all
Reduce foreign aid

He might've chosen FDR over Reagan (Reagan certainly chose Nixon over him, heh), but as I said, he was not a New Deal Democrat. Equally, I don't think he was into the concept of "multicultural society", his family being proud of its origins, but he not so much.

Ironically, would he have been in favour of strict control of guns? Nah, he was a law & order guy, and Bobby then too.

As for Korea/Haiti, I venture to say Haiti, but he was a strict anti-Communist, so dunno.

(Curiously, he would've been a Neo-Con today...)

Publicly, I don't think he would've been for Gays/Lesbians marrying, but privately yes I think.

I don't think he would've favoured public funding of abortions, either privately or in his stump speeches, though.

I don't think he had a health policy which would've tipped his stance on the AIDS matter. I just think he liked healthful boys and girls, so I voted "agree" on that one.

"JFK" got a 19.

Interesting!

Cheers,
Victoria

Simon said...

Re "UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds takes the test and, like me, gets a 21. Wouldn't it be freaky if he answered all the questions the same?"

Yes, really - especially since he's one of those scary libertarians, right? ;)

On another topic - I agree to some extent with HDhouse about public broadcasting. Most of the television I watch and virtually all of the radio I listen to is public broadcasting. To be sure, whenever it deals with news, politics or things of that nature, it is very clearly liberal talk radio -- when Ann was last on Joy Cardin's show, Cardin guffawed a little at that idea, but to listen to NPR while not yourself a liberal is to very clearly hear the tilt -- and public funding thus presents a challenge, but I would far rather see that problem resolved by the more speech approach (the short-lived attempt to bring in some balance with Paul Gigot's program last year was a good, if doomed, start), than by eliminating public funding for something that I consider to presently remain a valuable resource.

vbspurs said...

Okay, last question, before I outwear my welcome.

To the ones who scored very low (tipping to the liberal scales), which questions did you answer which might be construed as being more "right wing"?

I'd like to see where the political barriers start to heave, here in the US.

Cheers,
Victoria

Anonymous said...

26

Yep, I'm with those who found this a lame test that was more about how one reacts to platitudes and cliches.

Plus, this test was created before 9/11. Do liberals really think, since 9/11, that the defense budget should be cut? Is it more liberal to distrust the FBI than the IRS. How odd that Victor Kamber and Bradley O'Leary think that liberals swallow the IRS whole, just because they favor higher taxes. Likewise conservatives with the FBI. Presumably, conservatives think everyone who's arrested by the FBI must be guilty. I don't think that's how they really feel.

Build prisons vs. Rebuild cities to stop crime? Hmm. My first thought was, neither has any effect on crime, compared with the obvious answer of having a larger police department, with public support and legal decisions that don't irrationally undermine them. But given that choice, the only logical answer is Build More Prisons, since that step would at least allow more violent convicted criminals to serve the sentences they are given. That makes me conservative? Really? There are people on the liberal side who really think a new mall or housing project in the inner city will, by itself, magically cause a violent criminal to change his ways?

In short, this survey is an insult to both conservatives and liberals, as well as anyone who thinks for themselves. But it was fun waste of time.

Anonymous said...

34 here :) almost Quayle-like

LoafingOaf said...

Why is thinking Korea more important the Haiti, more conservative?

It's because this quiz was written in 1994. Clinton's '92 campaign was critical of Daddy Bush's Haiti policies (even though he wound up continuing them after taking office, before he decided to use military force in '94).

The left wasn't too concerned when North Korea started persuing nukes in 1994. They considered it satisfactory to send Carter to negotiate a deal that would never be abided and kick that can down the line.

Not to dismiss the problems with Haiti (which remain today, though I did support Clinton's attempts to do some good). But from a U.S. interests standpoint the main concern is refugees. With North Korea it's millions of people getting nuked, South Korea being destroyed, and North Korea giving nukes to our other enemies.

So the question seems to be a no-brainer in 2006 whether one is leftist or conservative. They ought to change that question to: "Those who thought Korea was more important were right."

Kirk Parker said...

Wow, Simon--you are (as always) the voice of reasonableness, with this one glaring exception: where on earth is it that you think the state legislature is actually qualified to provide adult supervision???

On the other hand, if you are right about that, maybe I need to think about moving...

Marghlar said...

Yes, that Vote No! case. Check out the dissent as well; note that the majority opinion stands alone as an island among two hundred years of American law in asserting that the government cannot outlaw outright fraud when actual malice is present.

The best thing I can say on the original meaning front is that both strict liability defamation and fraud were torts in both 1791 and 1868, and nobody thought that they were abolished or fundamentally altered by the First or Fourteenth Amendments. Which isn't to say that much, because we are ulimtately concerned with what the words mean, not how people thought they would apply, and there's precious little evidence of that.

In the end, I don't think that it is a content restriction to outlaw lying in a specific context. I think a content restriction relates more to legislating what specifically cannot be said; not that you can't violate central tenets of public discourse. I'm not sure that even Justice Black ever said that the First Amendment should make the tort of fraud unconstitutional. And it's hard to think of a meaningful purpose underlying the text that would be served by such an extension.

Let me ask you this, as one textualist to another. The First Amendment contains nothing textual that would distinguish between political and commercial speech. So, are you asserting that it is always unconstituitonal to regulate fraud, in the electoral context or in the private or even economic context? Or are you asserting that this is a rule applicable only to elections? If so, what is it's source in either text or principle? What value is served by letting people lie to the electorate?

Anonymous said...

Victoria, your welcome will never be worn out, I'm sure. (That sentiment does not apply to most of us here, I am equally sure, myself included ;-)

Re: Double comments: It could be worse. Your computer could hiccup, like mine did, and convince you that your post wasn't published the first time, nor the second, only to realize after the third what had happened.

Then you could fool yourself into believing (like some have around here) that Ann reads everything before allowing it be published, and publication means approval and endorsement of the content.

With that mind, you could rest easy in the assurance that surely Ann would not allow one who is supposedly one of her sycophants, fellow-travelers, or [insert epithet here] to appear a complete fool (to those who had not already decided that question for themselves) and would therefore only allow one of the identical posts in a row to see the light of day.

But, no, life doesn't usually work like that. Thus, I regret to say that have you beat: I posted in triplicate. My faith in human kindness shattered, I must take comfort in the distant sounds of balloons floated that Ann approves of every comment bursting.

Needle anyone?

Marghlar said...

On the compass, I got a -0.13 economic/-3.33 social.

Anonymous said...

The more prisons answer just does not seem to hold water. A criminal might not be deterred by a shopping mall, but surely not deterred by the threat more prisons either.

Why is it that we have more people imprisoned than China; and yet sexual predators wander in and out of our system -- and someone growing a little herb gets tanked for a mandatory 25 years? The problem is we have way too many people in prison for the wrong reasons.

The Drill SGT said...

LOL, I got a 30 on this test and this score on Ann's extra credit exam:

Your political compass
Economic Left/Right: -0.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.67

what a difference

The Drill SGT said...

I note for the record that Ann must be more "Libertarian" than she thought based on her last visit.

Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

Scored a 39.

Now I am curious as to which of my answers put me one point shy of Ronaldus Maximus.

kettle said...

the legislative branch or the executive? the fbi or the irs? every single one of them is legendary for their incompetence, and i dont trust any of them; why must I choose? a terribly stupid quiz.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that we have more people imprisoned than China;

Hmmm. I wonder. Why is that? Could it possibly be because they have a nasty habit of randomly imposing the death penalty for trivial offenses like drug possession, homosexuality, and burglary?

You can find pretty little before during and after pictures on the internet of a woman having her head blown apart by a firing squad, if it really interests you. Such civilized people, the Chinese government.

The lack of people in jail may have something to do with arbitrary and highly subjective enforcement of draconian laws. OTOH, if the penalty is so severe for a minor infraction, people may be cowed into submission. OTOH, if the penalty is so severe for a minor infraction, normal people are unwilling to do anything in response.

Property crimes are so rampant in most of Asia, that almost all are never reported, making many countries there appear to be peaceful little havens, when in fact they are far from it (with the notable exception of Japan). Official rates of prostitution in China are incredibly low by almost any standard, but everyone knows the truth: prostitution is becoming almost as serious a problem as it was pre-liberation, when it was officially eradicated along with homosexuality.

Of course, that so few appear to be in prison in China may reflect the fact that the Chinese government has a rather unusual definition of what constitutes a prison. (In the late '70's, they were actually telling anyone who asked that they had no prisons, that crime was a thing of the past. And the usual useful idiots believed them, too. Some still do, apparently)

Like prostitutes, gay people supposedly ceased to exist in China in 1949. Most useful idiots didn't ask where they all went to because they didn't want to know they were all rounded up and murdered by the state.

Of course there are always the handy-dandy re-education camps around to help keep that prison population count low. They are lovely little places in picturesque rural areas, far from the madding crowd, where errant prostitutes, gay people, and superstitious folks such as Bhuddists and Christians while away the hours happily engaging in mutual criticism and self-criticism under the benevolent direction of the state. Yep.

Anonymous said...

34, so i'm not as cool as bob dole.

***hangs head in shame***

Anonymous said...

Oh, alright. We use deceptive in different ways, I think. I usually think that it means intentionally misleading in terms of its content.

I agree with that. What we don't seem to agree about is that the actual content of these ads is deceptive from beginning to end. We all know what the ad means even though they supposedly don't come right out and say it. That is "deceptive." Those ads are the lie, and the content is an integral part of the lie, I believe.

You seem mainly focused on the fact that these groups are taking advantage of legal loopholes that may not be appropriate for their goals. I think that's right, as far as it goes, but since I oppose McCain-Feingold and other limits on the amount of available political speech, I don't have a huge problem with 527s and other groups finding creative ways around those restrictions.

No, I object to pretending that they are not doing exactly what they are doing: lying on federal forms, presumably under penalty of law, saying that they are not what they quite obviously are. It boggles the mind that we are all so sold on the concept that finding legal loopholes is acceptable behavior that we have lost sight of the fact that we as a society, through our government, are institutionalizing outright deceit, and encouraging the formal filing and acceptance of false statements.

This is what we've come to? Anything and everything is acceptable provided you have sufficient funds to find an obscure legal loophole that allows you to pretend something that any rational mind over the age of 12 recognizes as a complete fabrication? How sad.

It's ok that George Soros publicly promised to spend $15,000,000 of his own money to defeat George Bush, and then did, despite our laws limiting him to $2,000 like the rest of us just because he could spend millions more in legal fees, if needed, to construct an artful edifice of compliance and avoid any potential legal consequences for spending $14,998,000 more than the law allows? (I don't mean to pick on Soros here - I'm sure some GOP fanatic did the same thing.)

I submit that laws that are deliberately not enforced for partisan political reasons, and laws that have no hope of being enforced because they are purposely written to be unenforceable (save against the average American) breed widespread disrespect for all laws and undermine the foundations of our republic.

But campaign donation limits are not just an unmitigated joke, they are the the leading edge of an ever-increasing infringement of free speech in all areas of life. This headlong rush to apply this restriction or that restriction, or a just little more here and a little more there, to make the political arena somehow clean and fair is not a regrettable failure that only requires a bit more fine tuning and regulation, it is an unmitigated disaster that has allowed such frightful violations of free speech as campus speech codes to flourish, and absolutely terrifying concepts as forcible thought control and re-education to become acceptable in some quarters.

What I was talking about when I addressed Simon's comment was the idea that we ought to be allowed to regulate deceptive content in political advertising -- by which I mean deliberate lies. Maybe that's a fine distinction, but I think it is an important one.

Deliberate lies are still actionable in this country, or at least until the "It might as well be true. Because it would have been true if it happened" crowd gains control. Someone lies about you in a campaign? Sue them.

But allow pre-emptive censorship of political campaign ads? Never. Regulate political ads? Who? How? What? When? Do you really want some political (or bureaucratic) hacks deciding what is or is not a lie? What is or is not acceptable? No, thank you. I'd rather have lies than "sanitized for your protection" claptrap approved by nitwits who believe that they are superior to the poor dim-witted and ignorant American masses.

Probably the two greatest gifts contained in the Constitution of the United States are the preamble, "We the people...," and the astonishingly clear concise and unequivocal First Amendment. 'Tis a pity that so many are still so frightened by the people and so willing to stand by as their government slowly and quietly strangles their personal freedom in the name of civility, fairness, equality, the children, public safety, or national security (to name just a few that come immediately to mind).

To our eternal shame (undoubtedly, as this trend shows no sign of reversing), we are willingly frittering away our freedom as we engage in Quixotic quests to quell the windmills of our minds.

John Kindley said...

internet ronin said: "Then you could fool yourself into believing (like some have around here) that Ann reads everything before allowing it be published, and publication means approval and endorsement of the content."

You just don't get the Kindleyian sense of humor! But Ann does read or skim everything, doesn't she, now that she's moderating, else how do my comments get rejected every so often (mercifully, I think just once so far)? On the other hand, perhaps some reverend personages around here, through long demonstration of their soundness of mind and level-headedness, have earned the implicit trust of Althouse, so that it's enough for her just to see their name and she'll click their comment on through without bothering to check the content for scandalous material. THAT could explain how one of your comments got triplicated without Althouse catching it.

Anonymous said...

Hi John - I did, finally ;-) Even lauded your reply on the other thread. Unfortunately, I mentioned it over here before I realized what you meant. Apologies.

As for the triplicate issue, as I believe that there may be more than a few who frequently have questions about my soundness, including our hostess (or may have some after viewing any comments written at this late hour when the accidental caffeine overdose has yet to wear off).

Pogo said...

Economic Left/Right: 7.38
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 1.33

Closer to Friedman than Thatcher. Sounds about right. Conservative.

Ann's scores on the Political Compass don't surprise me (lefty economics, social libertarian), and reflect that, compared to thinking in 1994, her views do in fact make her a moderate.

But today's left posits a weighted score, where one additional question (Favor/Reject Iraq War 2003) is worth more than all the other questions combined.

And from the left, that's the "Are you evil?" question.

Marghlar said...

No, I object to pretending that they are not doing exactly what they are doing: lying on federal forms, presumably under penalty of law, saying that they are not what they quite obviously are.

I think it's a little extreme to say that they are all lying. Parties are after all connected with issues as well as candidates, so the fact that a group organized around an issue would in the end also support a particular candidate doesn't seem that distressing. I hear what you are saying on the populism front, but I also think it's important to remember that plenty of 527s got most of their donations in quite small chunks on the internet. So I'm not sure that Soros wins in the end. More political speech gets out there, and that's a better thing then what would be happening if everybody was muzzled by McCain-Feingold.

Deliberate lies are still actionable in this country, or at least until the "It might as well be true. Because it would have been true if it happened" crowd gains control. Someone lies about you in a campaign? Sue them.

I agree. Simon seemed to be rejecting that principle, which is why I asked him my original question.

I submit that laws that are deliberately not enforced for partisan political reasons, and laws that have no hope of being enforced because they are purposely written to be unenforceable (save against the average American) breed widespread disrespect for all laws and undermine the foundations of our republic.

I could be wrong here, and feel free to cite me an example of an alternative, but I'm not aware of any examples of campaign finance regulation being enforced against "average Americans." Such laws are generally enforced against advocacy groups and candidates. I'm not aware of the FEC, or its state counterparts, bringing any actions or even sending warning letters to small, everyday donors. But maybe I'm wrong here; feel free to inform me otherwise.

But campaign donation limits are not just an unmitigated joke, they are the the leading edge of an ever-increasing infringement of free speech in all areas of life. This headlong rush to apply this restriction or that restriction, or a just little more here and a little more there, to make the political arena somehow clean and fair is not a regrettable failure that only requires a bit more fine tuning and regulation, it is an unmitigated disaster that has allowed such frightful violations of free speech as campus speech codes to flourish, and absolutely terrifying concepts as forcible thought control and re-education to become acceptable in some quarters.

I agree.

But allow pre-emptive censorship of political campaign ads? Never. Regulate political ads? Who? How? What? When? Do you really want some political (or bureaucratic) hacks deciding what is or is not a lie? What is or is not acceptable? No, thank you. I'd rather have lies than "sanitized for your protection" claptrap approved by nitwits who believe that they are superior to the poor dim-witted and ignorant American masses.

And here is where you've gotten the wrong impression. Regulate, to me, means, allow to be penalized in some ways. I think of tort law as privately enforced regulation. Having government enforce electoral fraud regulation would be anathema to me, because I don't think government should be trusted to enforce such rules. I think enforcement should be up to private plaintiffs and the judiciary, the way it always has been. And I think that prior restraints on campaign speech are an absolute horror. That's why I never said I favored any of those things. See the trouble you get into when you put a whole bunch of words into your opponent's mouth?

Anonymous said...

Ronin!

The comparison to a totalitarian regime 4 times our size was hardly meant to be flattering to China. Prison population has doubled in 7 years, and the U.S. has 5 percent of the world population and now houses one quarter of the world's prison population.

I don't have all the answers, but half of all incarcerated are non-violent, and one quarter for drug offenses is ridiculous.

Simon said...

Marghlar,
1. I IM'd a commenter here a couple of weeks ago to clarify a point about Marbury that arose in-thread, and I can't remember exactly what was said, but I remember his suggesting that my interpretation was "novel." Calling something a novelty is the kiss of death for an originalist! ;) I'm not sure that you're right that it's really so novel; they manage to assemble a fairly good array of cases in support of the proposition, and even New York Times v. Sullivan, which you cited upthread, notes that "[a]uthoritative interpretations of the First Amendment guarantees have consistently refused to recognize an exception for any test of truth[,] ... and especially one that puts the burden of proving truth on the speaker." 376 U.S. at 271.

On the other hand, I do think that stare decisis is inherent to some extent in the grant of the judicial power (Ed Whelan and I have both been promising essays on our views on stare decisis for some time now; bet on his appearing first), so if really has been interpreted to the contrary in every case for two hundred years, I'm willing to give considerable weight to that, as long as it doesn't lead to a result that is wildly and unreasonably at variance with the original meaning, I'm willing to give that a great deal of authority.

2. I don't have any problem with tortious liability for false statements. That isn't a prior restraint; it's litigated after the fact. And I fully encourage that; in fact, as I sugested upthread, it seems to me that providing for expedited consideration and massive penalties is the best way that states can punish and discourage fradulent statements in election activities.

3. The reference to Justice Breyer was his discussion of the First Amendment in Active Liberty. I don't object to purposivism to the extent that it's used to shed light on the text, but because it is almost invariably used to remove the text as an impediment to achieving a desired result. Breyer's approach to the First Amendment, set out in his book, is basically the Court's approach to the confrontation clause in Maryland v. Craig: "abstract[] from the right to its purposes, and then eliminate[] the right."

In terms of the text of the First Amendment, as a purely textual matter, only Congress can violate the First Amendment. Even if you assumed that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated a strict construction of the First Amendment against the states, then it would be a prohibition only on legislation - state or federal executive actors would be institutionally incapable of violating it. That construction strikes me as being absurd (although it is my favorite example of why strict construction is itself absurd), so it seems to me that you rather have to lift the hood and look at it at a slightly higher level of generality - not as high as Justice Breyer would take it (Breyer and I seemingly have quite different ideas about what the Bill of Rights is), of course.

The upshot is that when you think about non-political speech - commercial speech, obscenity and so forth - I'm not saying that I emphatically deny that regulations on those merit any less scrutiny than regulations on political speech. Rather, I'm saying that the minimal, core protection of the first amendment, whatever else it might also mean, it at least means that "a Federal statute that imposes content-based prior restraint on political speech is void," as I said upthread. Fortunately or unfortunately, that isn't a cheap get-out, because it seems to me that it's a rare case indeed that satisfies that core zone of protections.

Simon said...

Kirk Parker said...
"Wow, Simon--you are (as always) the voice of reasonableness, with this one glaring exception: where on earth is it that you think the state legislature is actually qualified to provide adult supervision???"

Thanks Kirk. :p I guess my main point was to express my general mistrust of the executive branch rather than any particular approbation of legislative branches everywhere. It's true that Americans in general and conservatives in particular tend to gravitate more to the executive branch than the legislative, because the executive seems (not entirely unreasonably) to be about action, about getting things done, about "the buck stops here" and so on, while the legislature seems like a talking shop. I never said I was normal. ;)

Gerry said...

"And Michael Savage is a FORMER liberal..."

Michael Savage is an actor playing a cartoon character on radio. His claims of being a former liberal took a tremendous hit when it was revealed that his recent political donations, and quite recent at that, have been to Jerry Brown, who is not exactly anywhere close to the political right, or even to the political center.

And my views on Nazism are anything but strange. Again, I challenge you to read this Michael Ramsey Steele article on Fascism, and if you are more ambitious, the book Leftism Revisited by Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihin. The book is not completely on that subject, but makes an extremely persuasive case on it in two of the chapters, based on positions advocated, content of speeches, and, most importantly, where they garnered their votes (in other words, what type of voters were drawn to their spiel).

Gerry said...

Related to the Nazi tangent I am off on in this thread....

Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party has, correctly, been likened to an Arabic fascist party.

Why do I bring this up?

"She has been seen in public once since her father’s execution, sporting Chanel sunglasses and a Socialist Party megaphone.

A decade ago Saddam Hussein’s eldest daughter, Raghad, was a privileged member of the Baathist aristocracy, her every whim fulfilled. Now living in comfortable exile in Jordan, she has been elevated to the de facto headship of the family..."

And if anyone is continuing this thread, I am NOT trying to smear all the left saying they are closet Nazis. To paraphrase Billy Joel's "The Stranger", the left is not always evil, and it is not always wrong.

My intent is twofold. First, to help stop the smear of all of the right as being closet Nazis. Second, to try and get the left to realize that fascism is not going to arise again from the right, since it did not arise from the right in the first place. It will come from the left. It will compete for left-leaning voters. It will employ much of the rhetoric of the left. As such, the left needs to be vigilant to self-police itself, the way it has (thankfully) been mostly doing with the LaRouchies. Who, come to think of it...

JazzBass said...

All three of you are centrists/lefties in red state america. This Volunteer got a 36. Take that, ya educated wonks. ;)

Anonymous said...

Gerry" By any chance, do you live in California? I forget.

Simon said...

JazzBass said...
"All three of you are centrists/lefties in red state america."

You mean Ann, Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh? Reynolds maybe. But Ann lives in Madison, WI, and IIRC, Eugene lives in Los Angeles, CA - neither of which are exactly the beating heart of red state America. ;)

Anonymous said...

Ann, we already know you're a moderate. That's why we read you.



Whoops, I'm projecting again. I should stop doing that. Anyway, what I said above is at least true for me, and I'm sure it is for a bunch of other people.

Gerry said...

Nope. Currently Arkansas, although before I was in Pittsburgh, and before that Georgia, and before that South Carolina, and before that upstate New York, and before that Long Island.

I figure I'll zig-zag north/south but westward until retirement, so eventually I guess I will eventually reside in Cali.

Anonymous said...

The original test came closest for me to matching up with my self image. The later tests placed me as too much of a centrist. In my mind, I am more of a conservative with libetarian tendencies who happens to be Christian.

More coffee is in order.

Trey

the pooka said...

8.

Wish it'd been a bit lower.

You know, there are probably enough data here to get a sense of Ann's commenters...whaddya think? Crunch the numbers? My hunch is that the average AA piper-upper is somewhere around Bush (41)...