January 28, 2010

Justice Alito overshadows Obama on the day after the President's address.

You can see that here.

Isn't it fascinating that the lengthy, amplified, magnified speech of the most powerful man in the world with his big captive audience — in the magnificent room and in smaller rooms all over the country — is outweighed by one man's headshake and silent mouthing of 2 or 3 words?

And isn't it ironic that, right when we saw the judge's minimalist expression that overwhelmed the President's torrent of words, Obama was railing about the "powerful interests" that would use their great wealth to speak far too much during election campaigns?

It's not how much or how loud you speak that counts, is it?

ADDED: I've changed the word "are" in the "Isn't it fascinating" paragraph to "is" to correct an error that I noticed after the paragraph got quoted in full at Instapundit and Volokh. Do I write to them and ask them to take the trouble to correct my error, or do I just sit here and feel awful about it? The embarrassing clumsiness was caused by changing "lengthy, amplified, magnified words" to "lengthy, amplified, magnified speech," which I did because I didn't like the repetition of the word "words" — which is the kind of writing flaw that is hardly even embarrassing but absorbs my attention.

288 comments:

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Jeremy said...

the decision via the court will allow corporations to spend shareholder money to influence the election of candidates, regardless of the fact that many of those shareholders may not, in any way, support the candidates or their postion on specific issues.

and right now it most certainly opens a loophole allowing foreign corporations to influence federal elections through U.S. subsidiaries.

and suddenly, the local wing nut pack isn't the least bit concerned about corporate influence or even foreign corporate interests effecting u.s. elections.

i find that rather strange...other than the usual anti-obama slant.

Skyler said...

Jeremy,

The man clearly lied. This is not arguable.

It seems the old saying is true, if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. For some people it just doesn't take that many repetitions before they start believing and joining in on repeating it.

Jeremy said...

Arnold - "but always end up in that 4"

i never said "always."

you're lying.

garage mahal said...

Really? What did Moore do that Citizens United didn’t?

I told you. Followed FEC law. You can make any damn movie you want. Did you think someone actually prevented the douchebags from making a movie about Hillary?

Jeremy said...

Skyler - "The man clearly lied. This is not arguable."

unless of course, you're referring to alito...of course it is.

YOU and other here think president obama was lying.

he was not.

once again:

the decision via the court will allow corporations to spend shareholder money to influence the election of candidates, regardless of the fact that many of those shareholders may not, in any way, support the candidates or their position on specific issues.

and right now it most certainly opens a loophole allowing foreign corporations to influence federal elections through U.S. subsidiaries.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Jeremy said...

...if you and others here think it's a good idea for corporations to have the same rights as individual citizens i think you're dead wrong.

show me anything in our constitution that provides such protection.


Okay, how about the 1st amendment? I know, it does not specifically recognize any rights of a corporation. It also does not recognize any rights of individual citizens. Instead, it specifies a limitation on government. "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech...". Not a lot of wiggle room there.

I don't believe that corporations have the same rights as citizens. But citizens don't lose their right to free speech just because they are the head of a corporation and have the authority to spend the corporation's money on the corporation's goals.

Jeremy said...

SPeaking of "lying":

Leahy: "In his confirmation hearing, Justice Alito -- and I might say, under oath -- testified that the role of the Supreme Court is a limited role. It has to do what it is supposed to do vigilantly, but it has to be equally vigilant about not stepping over its bounds and invading the authority of Congress," Leahy recalled Alito apparently lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"That was then -- when he was seeking confirmation. This is now."

Aaron said...

Garage

> I told you. Followed FEC law.

You have no idea what they did different, do you?

Jeremy

> regardless of the fact that many of those shareholders may not, in any way, support the candidates or their postion on specific issues

No one is holding a gun to their head forcing them to keep the stock.

> and right now it most certainly opens a loophole allowing foreign corporations to influence federal elections through U.S. subsidiaries.

And the loophole already existed before last week’s decision. All you had to do was create a media company and you were free as a bird.

> the local wing nut pack isn't the least bit concerned about corporate influence or even foreign corporate interests effecting u.s. elections.

Okay, riddle me this. Does a person have a right to join the American nazi party?

And if you say yes, does that mean you are not concerned about nazi influence? Omg, that means you support the Nazis?!

Orrrrr, you could recognize that freedom of speech means you allow people you disagree with to speak freely.

Aaron said...

Jeremy

> Leahy: "In his confirmation hearing, Justice Alito -- and I might say, under oath -- testified that the role of the Supreme Court is a limited role. It has to do what it is supposed to do vigilantly, but it has to be equally vigilant about not stepping over its bounds and invading the authority of Congress," Leahy recalled Alito apparently lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Wow, you are just a hack. Since when does congress have the authority to regulate speech it doesn't like?

pinkmonkeybird said...

I do not see how the coming polls on Obama's approval next week can show anything other than a nose dive.

I expect the White House and their party will then go into a pathetic sort of paralysis.

Aaron said...

pink

like it or not, SOTUs almost always give the president a bump.

But it won't last.

elHombre said...

Jeremy wrote: i personally think obama was right and that alito should have sat without comment ...

Evidently, Jeremy and Obama believe that the prohibitions against independent corporate spending on federal elections set aside by the Court in Citizens United represented "a century of law." Not so. Alito is right. What Obama said was not true.

Jeremy wrote: if you and others here think it's a good idea for corporations to have the same rights as individual citizens i think you're dead wrong.

show me anything in our constitution that provides such protection.


How about this: Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ....

There is nothing in the First Amendment limiting the protection of free speech to individual citizens and freedom of the press certainly extends to corporations.

Jeremy has misplaced his knowledge of the Citizens United holding, history and the First Amendment along with his shift key.

Robert Cook said...

"'No white President was ever treated with such contempt by members of Congress or the judiciary.'

Yes, the Democrats treated W with such reverence, didn't they?"


Not reverence, subservience. Bush was treated far better than he deserved by the Dems and the press.

Jeremy said...

Ignorant - "Okay, how about the 1st amendment?"

the first amendment doesn't say anything about "corporations."

is it written in invisable ink?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

you think the framers of the u.s. constitution had corporations in mind when creating the document?

can you name any of the corporations they may have been referencing?

Roger and Denise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

elhombre - show me the passage in the constitution relating to this freedom of speech you mention for corporations.

take your time.

Synova said...

"Orrrrr, you could recognize that freedom of speech means you allow people you disagree with to speak freely."

OMG, it does?

But then what will we do? People would be able to just go and say anything, and insult people, and say bad stuff.

It will destroy freedom!

Surly free speech does not apply to offensive speech! I'm sure I heard a college professor or two say that. Offensive speech is *different*.

And how can speech be free if people don't all have the same ability to speak, the same volume and the same reach?

In order for speech to be free, the wealthy need to be restrained, the corporations and businesses need to be held back.

To make it fair!

The Constitution is about fairness, isn't it?

How can offensive speech or very loud speech be fair?

(Seriously... the idea that defending free speech means defending the right to speak of those you think are vile is so entirely basic one wonders why it needs to be explained to anyone at all. All these years was it a lie?)

Jeremy said...

elhombre - you think "freedom of the press certainly extends to corporations?"

is that what you're saying?

all corporations?

even you're not that dense...are you??

Synova said...

"...can you name any of the corporations they may have been referencing?"

The press.

But are you really going to assert, here, that if the Constitution doesn't mention something specifically that it can not apply to that thing?

There is no specific mention of women or blacks or asians or gays or any thing like that in most of it... All men are created equal, you moron. Not women. Where does it say women? It doesn't.

You're a Calvinist is what you are.

But only when it suits you.

Skyler said...

Jeremy, if you're going to accuse Alito of lying, you need to be a bit more specific as to where you believe that lie to be. I'm not seeing one in there anywhere.

I'm thinking Jeremy is a troll. Again.

Roger J. said...

Ah phooey--I though we had we had lost Jeremy after the MA election--how did that go for you J? How does Senator Brown sound? Like to try some political predictions? they are always welcome here.

Anyway, welcome back--its always great to read your "commentary."

Synova said...

So which corporations count as the press, Jeremy?

Perhaps you can decide, or a government agency can decide who is legitimate and who is not?

Is a corporation "the press" only if they have printing presses? Are only written items included? Certainly verbal representations of ideas would be *speech*. Although, since there was no television and radio and the Constitution does not specifically mention television or radio, we simply can not assume that television or radio are included in the first amendment.

But now, really... what is stopping any corporation or business or foreign entity or individually rich person from purchasing a printing press and having a press office and expressing their views? They could even get period printing presses, or at least recreations, and then they'd have exactly what is mentioned, specifically, in the Constitution and exactly what the writers of the Constitution were thinking of when they wrote that laws could not restrict the press.

Or is there some other test?

And where is that test described in the Constitution?

Gabriel Hanna said...

Jeremy, where does the word "abortion" appear in the Constitution?

Where does "gay marriage" appear in the Constitution?

But you believe that Americans have Constitutional rights regarding both.

We know the Founders didn't intend either to be legal, because both were illegal everywhere when they wrote the Constitution.

So, you have a choice: support political speech for corporations, womens' right to an abortion, and gays right to marry. Or you can oppose all three.

When you stake your ground on "where does X appear in the Constitution", those are your choices.

Since you are a pathetic hack, you're too stupid to see it yourself. You can't possibly be stupid enough to think you are fooling anyone.

elHombre said...

Jeremy quoting Sen. Leaky: "In his confirmation hearing, Justice Alito -- and I might say, under oath -- testified that the role of the Supreme Court is a limited role ... [and that the Court] has to be equally vigilant about not stepping over its bounds and invading the authority of Congress," Leahy recalled Alito apparently lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Do Jeremy and Leaky think Alito's actions at the SOTU "invaded the authority of Congress." Wow!

"Great minds ..." and all that, eh?

Gabriel Hanna said...

Doesn't matter, because Jeremy's premise is completely bogus anyway.

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZDcxNjNjNTlhNmQxZDYwYjNkOGJjZjkxZTZiMjI0NTg=

FEC regulations at 11 CFR 110.20 further delineate the prohibition:

A foreign national shall not direct, dictate, control, or directly or indirectly participate in the decision making process of any person, such as a corporation, labor organization, political committee, or political organization with regard to such person's Federal or non-Federal election-related activities, such as decisions concerning the making of contributions, donations, expenditures, or disbursements in connection with elections for any Federal, State, or local office or decisions concerning the administration of a political committee.
Additionally, the FEC requires that any funds so spent come from U.S.-generated income (in other words, the parent corporation cannot send capital to the U.S. subsidiary and then have the subsidiary spend that in connection with U.S. elections). Therefore . . .

(5) You could have a foreign-owned but U.S.-incorporated-and-headquartered subsidiary, using U.S. funds, controlled solely by U.S. nationals, make expenditures. However, bear in mind that . . .

(6) Such a corporation is already eligible to operate a PAC — which can make unlimited expenditures and also make contributions directly to candidates (under the same restrictions of U.S. funds managed by U.S. nationals) — and to spend unlimited sums from any source. Its executives and managers who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (i.e., the same people who would have to decide on any corporate spending) are already eligible to spend unlimited sums on U.S. elections.

So claiming that the Citizens United decision will allow “foreign corporations to spend without limits in our elections” is as misleading as saying that “Obama and the Democratic Congress have allowed foreign corporations to spend without limits in our elections.” The corporate ban is not about foreign contributions, and the government never tried to defend it as such. To suggest that this ruling allows foreign expenditures in elections is wholly misleading.


Jeremy is stupid enough to think that corporations now get the right to buy elections, when there are all sorts of otehr laws which prevent this. But the President is not stupid. He is deliberately deceiving the public.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

The difference between Moore's movie and CU's is that one was distributed at a time so close to voting as to constitute "electioneering" and the other wasn't. That's why one was being shown legally and the other wasn't. Of course, it's not like some people can distinguish between electioneering and any other purpose of speech or thought.

Like the Shel Silverstein kid who became the television set he was addicted to watching, some of these people have become one-person political machines unto themselves, with very little use for speech or thought other than how those things can be politicized.

Very sad.

elHombre said...

Jeeremy wrote, stupidly: the first amendment doesn't say anything about "corporations."

No. It says, "Congress shall make no law...." What is it about "make no law" that you don't understand?

Jeeremy also wrote, stupidly: is that what you're saying?

[freedom of the press extends to] all corporations?

even you're not that dense...are you??


I have reviewed the post in question (4:40) and am unable to find the term "all corporations" used in this context. Evidently you are hallucinating.

OTOH, would you care to share your expert opinion and tell us why if Exxon, for example, decided to publish a newspaper, it would not be entitled to the free press protection of the First Amendment.

Come back tomorrow with that, if it will help.

Or better yet, you might consider that you are out of your depth here, in so many ways, and just butt out.

garage mahal said...

Well here we go, we have a bonafide corporation, Murray Hill, Inc running for a congressional seat, as a corporation. Awesome!

Synova said...

And yet... who has been insisting that Alito was particularly rude? Flamboyantly, egregiously rude?

If it was no big deal, then it was no big deal.

Koblog said...

Some here insist the Supremes should sit there like rocks while being attacked. Others think any kind of disagreeable outburst is simply undignified, as if all those in that room agree with each other. Ha.

But can you imagine Obama speaking before the British parliament?

He'd be hissed out of there.

Most telling comment: bagoH20 speaking as a CEO. He is, of course, correct.

No State of the Company address would ever attack a key part of the company publicly. It would start an internecine war.

Then again, like high unemployment leading to increased government jobs and more welfare, perhaps that's what Obama wants....

MikeR said...

I confess to being awed:
"Obama's war with the Supreme Court"
http://www.tnr.com/blog/obamas-war-the-court-just-escalated
Money quote: "During the 1930s, the Supreme Court upheld a great deal of FDR's economic recovery program, but the New Deal Court is remembered today as a group of unprincipled activists because of just a handful of high profile decisions that FDR prominently attacked."

Is that how they're remembered? I was always taught that they were the heros who stood up to Roosevelt's attempt to destroy the balance of power of the American system.

Joe said...

Oh my God, Jeremy is right! Who dare let a corporation or anyone attempt to influence someone on how to vote. My God, what is this country coming to?

Jeremy, you are a coward along with your constitution hating allies. Why are you so afraid of free speech? Why are you so afraid of freedom of association? Why are you so afraid of freedom?

As for for the foreign corporation loophole? There already is one as big as the fucking earth, it's called THE INTERNET. You know, that thing that lets me read speech from all over the world and lets even creepy awful people have a voice. Should we shut that down too? Perhaps China has the right idea, censor everything. Heaven forbid people of all stripes and organizations be allowed to express what they believe, want or desire.

So once again, what are you so afraid of?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But now, really... what is stopping any corporation or business or foreign entity or individually rich person from purchasing a printing press and having a press office and expressing their views?

OMG!!! They could even have a BLOG or a Twitter account. Oh. The inhumanity!!!

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I think the ideal resolution should be simple. It seems we are dealing with two issues here: The ability to to use enough money to overwhelm the messages of the candidates and contribution limits. The more I think about it, I'm less sympathetic to the impulse to regulate the former, unless it involves the use of public airwaves where bandwidth is limited, such as network TV, FM and AM radio. Private channels should be exempt, as should the internet and print, since they do not retain an effective oligopoly on the medium due to scarcity of that infrastructure relative to the audience. As long as there is an FCC in place to enforce standards on those media then the FEC should have every right to make sure that advertising sales are used in such a way as to serve a compelling public interest, as well. But the other media, going unregulated by an FCC, should be exempt.

The other issue, of course, is whether contributions to candidates can and should be limited on a per-person or per-corporation basis. Unless you think that elected officials should be beholden to a special interest over the number of constituents who supported him or her, of course they should be. This effectively separates the issue of funding from the issue of speech.

As for the issue of corporate personhood, if you are sensible enough to understand the reasoning behind the other two positions, then it becomes moot. Corporations are not natural persons and some differences can and should be recognized between the two entities. But that all becomes moot when the analysis is restricted to reconciling the need for unlimited speech with the right of the people to hold their elected officials accountable to the number of voters they can reach, and not the number of special interests who bought them off.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The difference between Moore's movie and CU's is that one was distributed at a time so close to voting as to constitute "electioneering" and the other wasn't.


AND yet again, this was the entire purpose of the lawsuit. To fight the unconstitutional suppression of free speech...yes....even and especially electioneering speech.

The silencing of selected people, organizations, corporations before a PUBLIC election is unconstitutional. That McCain Feingold was EVER instituted is dumbfounding because the entire premise....silencing the voice of the people and squashing expression of free speech is absolutely unconstitutional.

Stick a fork in it...McCain Feingold is dead.

Once again: What are you lefty liberals so afraid of? That people might get to hear actual opposing viewpoints? That the airwaves will be flooded with advertisement? Guess what. We aren't chained to the television . I have a remote control and I'm not afraid to use it. The American pulbic can really make up our own minds.

You guys WANT censorship and limitations on free speech, when it comes to people expressing viewpoints that you don't like. This is the ultimate definition of a Dictatorship. At least be open about what you want.


vw: bonspin. A very good French spin.

Ignorance is Bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron said...

Jeremy

> the first amendment doesn't say anything about "corporations."

The free speech clause doesn’t say anything about people, either, so I guess by that argument people don’t have the right to speak, either. *rolls eyes*

What it does say is that congress should not be in the business of regulating speech, period, respective of target.

Indeed, if your argument is to be believed, that only flesh and blood persons may speak, then i guess we can silence the NAACP, the ACLU, the democratic party, the New York Times, and so on.

> can you name any of the corporations they may have been referencing?

Harvard. Dartmouth. Yale.

> you think "freedom of the press certainly extends to corporations?"

> is that what you're saying?

You mean the New York Times, Co, a corporation has no freedom of the press? They can be censored at will?

Duh on you.

Synova

> (Seriously... the idea that defending free speech means defending the right to speak of those you think are vile is so entirely basic one wonders why it needs to be explained to anyone at all. All these years was it a lie?)

Maybe secretly they liked the Nazis after all.

> All men are created equal, you moron. Not women. Where does it say women? It doesn't.

Actually, Sy, in law, the word “man” can include women. Sexist, I know, and feminists have pointed out how selectively this has been applied, but fwiw.

Ritmo

> The difference between Moore's movie and CU's is that one was distributed at a time so close to voting as to constitute "electioneering" and the other wasn't.

That’s not true. Moore was advertising the DVD release right up until the election.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I think that someone who talks about how smart a voter she is based on what she's capable of not watching on a television set, should have the brains to distinguish between what another person believes and what that other person merely quoted or stated to be the case. But I guess not. C'est la vie in this democracy of dunderheads.

Oh, and dunderheads have every right to vote, BTW. They also have every right to be informed of why they're wrong and why they can't be trusted to run anything, political or not. The specific freedom available in that political system notwithstanding.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Jeremy said...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

you think the framers of the u.s. constitution had corporations in mind when creating the document?


No. I think they had Congress in mind. I realize that it becomes confusing when there are no penumbras for the rights to emanate from, but please, try to keep up.

danielle said...

Ann, c'mon. Please dont get swept away in your own disdain for the President.

Since when are you surprised that the media wants to hone in on an unserious breach of protocol that stirs up controversy ?

How about instead of bland comments about how bland and cheap the speech was, how about you lead your right-wing-nuts to actually discuss aspects of the speech that you didnt like, or perhaps that you liked.

Or better yet, how about you spend some time discussing how the republicans in the senate are refusing to even engage with the president, and how they have succeeded in controlling the narrative.

Aaron said...

Jeremy

Btw, simple question. in New York Times Company v. Sullivan, the NYT, a corporation, was found to be protected by the first amendment. was that decision incorrect. and if not, why not?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

The American pulbic can really make up our own minds.

The American pulbic (sic) have every right to make up its own mind. The question is that when the issues can be so distorted that they have little left of one's mind to make up, whether that's a recipe for disaster. Most people think a poorly informed republic is a problem in that it leads to the decay or collapse of that republic and history shows this to be the case. But I guess you're too sympathetic to the caprice of misinformation or don't have much regard for your country.

Also, I'm skeptical of someone who has such disdain for civics of any sort voicing her opinion on the proper role of government in any form.

Synova said...

Ritmo, I realize that repeating the same things over again will not help me any more than it helps you, but your insistence on framing the question as corporations buying politicians completely ignores the fact that the case in question wasn't about anyone owning anyone elses vote. It was about a private group who opposed Hillary Clinton. They weren't associated with any big business or corporation that Hillary Clinton opposed or that her policies would hurt or endanger. They weren't buying any vote or seeking any influence.

I know you don't *care*.

Perhaps you could tell me who Michael Moore now owns?

Can you?

Who does he own?

In your mind, who has the right to advocate for policies in our country?

Can a Hospital put out an ad letting people know how proposed legislation will impact them? Doctors? Nurses? Can they put out a big ad against someone like John Edwards?

Can a car company, a corporation, put out an ad opposing something that the government is going to do? Can they put their point of view out there and make their case? Can they endorse a candidate?

Making this into some sort of "real person citizens only" thing ignores all the very many media companies, movies, television, print or even theater that are not in any way real person citizens and are not "the press" either. It ignores that professional associations and guilds and labor unions and any number of other groups are also not real person citizens. Ham radio operators have an organization to lobby government, and that organization is not a real person citizen.

The only real thing different about some rather nebulous big corporation is that you're afraid of what it might say.

And that I don't get.

You just don't want our politicians to be "owned" by big business? If they can be owned, they already are. If they can't be owned, this will change nothing at all.

And violating the Constitution requires proof, not that something is important enough to do that, but that no other course can solve the problem.

Violating something as primal as the first amendment and free speech because it's *easier* than other methods of combating money influence in Washington is not acceptable. Laziness is no excuse.

Find another way.

Alvin said...

Jimspice said: "Can't we at least pretend there is a vestige of neutrality on the Court?"

Sure! We could do that! We should do that. Pretending is fun. We could pretend that there IS a vestige of neutrality on the Court! And, we could pretend that we are the people in "we the people", and that congress, and the president, work for US! And, we could pretend that if we had 60 votes in the Senate...we'd get some shit done! And, as long as we're at it...let's really reach, and pretend we're all post-partisan now! And, maybe some unicorns? No? Too much, huh? You're probably right, lets just try that Court thing you said.


WV: feckless: not enough feck. " ..in last night's state of the union(SOTU) address to congress, the president, at times stern, gave a rousing display of feck to his naysayers. Not to be outdone, Justice Alito quietly showed his own feck off."

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Actually, corruption is probably a better predictor of anarchy followed by the inevitable autocracy than is the idiocy of the populace. But my point remains. I am not arguing on behalf of corruption and I certainly wish that those who are smart (or educated) enough to grasp the concept accept that conflict of interest can apply in the public sphere no less than in any other forum, and that it warps the government to malign ends.

Synova said...

"Most people think a poorly informed republic is a problem in that it leads to the decay or collapse of that republic and history shows this to be the case. But I guess you're too sympathetic to the caprice of misinformation or don't have much regard for your country."

You're right.

We need a ministry of information to make sure that misinformation is not put out there to confuse and overwhelm people.

Good call.

Will you be on the board that decides what is misinformation or not? Someone smart and unbiased and committed to free speech needs to be making those decisions about what the rest of us can hear or it might get sort of oppressive. No reason it has to, though. Not if the members are committed to free speech.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Instead of reading through every twist and turn of your doubtlessly groundbreaking thesis, Synova, I'll just say that I'm sympathetic to CU (the plaintiff, as I'VE SAID NEARLY EVERY DAMN TIME I'VE CHIMED IN ABOUT THIS), but that the ruling turned back other aspects of campaign finance regulation that either make no sense to roll back or are destructive to the duty the public have to vote based on informed decisions, lest they one day bankrupt the republic and jeopardize or lose that right.

Once America is a corporation owned by the Chinese, do you really think that the premier will retain your right to vote? Oh, you'll have plenty of well-financed campaigns, I'm sure. Just ask the average resident of Beijing.

Aaron said...

Ritmo

The problem is that if you only allow media corporations to speak freely, it is still arbitrary.

For instance, imagine that GE and LG are competing for the same federal contract. Well, as of today, GE owns NBC, so they can command their news division to say bad things about LG, they can command Conan... er... Jay... well, okay, jimmy Fallon and SNL, to tell jokes about LG, and so on. And they can say to any congressman, “vote to give us the contract or we will trash you in our media arm.” All that would be legal under McCain-Feingold.

Why should GE enjoy this advantage?

Aaron said...

> but that the ruling turned back other aspects of campaign finance regulation

They had no choice. McCain Feingold covered them, and therefore they had to invalidate the relevant provisions.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

The fact that you cannot distinguish between a public well enough informed to understand conflict of interest and a public that has been told what to think by an autocrat tells me everything I need to know about how unserious you are regarding the problem of corruption in government, Synova.

The Chinese will love your corruption! You will fit right in.

Sofa King said...

But I guess you're too sympathetic to the caprice of misinformation or don't have much regard for your country.

Yes, yes, my faith in my fellow citizens to discern for themselves a proper course of action simply demonstrates my utter contempt for the country!

If suppose if I really respected the autonomy of others, I would demand that they not be allowed to hear certain points of view. For their own good, of course! Have I got that right?

Synova said...

Oh, gawd Ritmo, you just said that we have to control speech or we'll end up like China.

Maybe we ought to strong arm Google into limiting access for the better good.

For fear of ending up like China.

China could use the free access of Google searches to spread misinformation... and that would be bad.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Fine. I appreciate your clarification, Aaron (watch out though... someone else thought me insufficiently deferential for stating as much to someone else last weekend!). So as long as long as we can separate out contributions that have a direct effect on a politician's "hireability" from whether or not someone is simply well funded enough to make their voice louder, that is fine with me.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Yes, yes, my faith in my fellow citizens to discern for themselves a proper course of action simply demonstrates my utter contempt for the country!

Your problem is that you don't care how accurate their information is, as long as they can be roused to rabble around whatever bullshit Caesarist populism propels your own narrow interest at the moment. So yes, you don't care about your country so much as you care that it is a vehicle for your own short-term interest.

If suppose if I really respected the autonomy of others, I would demand that they not be allowed to hear certain points of view. For their own good, of course! Have I got that right?

No. As you no doubt guessed, you wouldn't.

But people who have problems listening to others' views usually are, so I'll let you gloat in your smug misconceptions until you respect my right to my own view enough to not want to mischaracterize it.

Synova said...

Dig a hole, Ritmo.

My entire world view doesn't depend on my firm belief that the citizens of my country are idiot children.

They don't need a mother.

They don't need a father.

They don't need someone to tell them they haven't enough native common sense to recognize conflict of interest or a well told lie.

Not enough of them for long enough, not in concert, not as a population, no matter the foolishness of individuals. The conglomerate is smart.

Just like markets are smartest with the least possible centralized control, each farmer and each shop deciding what to produce and some deciding poorly and some deciding well, but all of them together proving more robust and more flexible and more quickly adaptable than any possible alternative that tries to get better results by fearing the idiocy of individuals making decisions their own selves for their own lives.

It's called freedom, and it is stronger than any individual member.

And I trust that is true. The lack of centralized planning does not frighten me. The Liberty afforded other people does not frighten me.

And it all depends, foundationally, on the freedom of speech and expression and flow of information that you find so troublesome.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Yes, yes, my faith in my fellow citizens to discern for themselves a proper course of action simply demonstrates my utter contempt for the country!

Your problem is that you don't care how accurate their information is, as long as they can be roused to rabble around whatever bullshit Caesarist populism propels your own narrow interest at the moment. So yes, you don't care about your country so much as you care that it is a vehicle for your own short-term interest.

If suppose if I really respected the autonomy of others, I would demand that they not be allowed to hear certain points of view. For their own good, of course! Have I got that right?

No. As you no doubt guessed, you haven't.

But people who have problems listening to others' views usually don't, so I'll let you gloat in your smug misconceptions until you respect my right to my own view enough to not want to mischaracterize it.

Shanna said...

Once America is a corporation owned by the Chinese, do you really think that the premier will retain your right to vote?

You know, I would be far less worried about China if we hadn't decided it was a good idea to spend a bunch of their money on vote buying, failing companies and trains (and up the ceiling on what we can owe! By a party line vote! Joy)

Cugel said...

So much excitement over a silent mouthing of disapprobation! I am betting that there would have been a bit more of a flambeau if Scalia had been in the audience. What flame wars in the comment thread then, non?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Why is it that Aaron is smart enough to approach an approximation of my view, whereas Synova not only fails that test but babbles incoherently with populist rhetoric while chastizing me for not respecting her intelligence?

Ok Synova. Your freedom obviates the intelligence that your contribution could make on this nation or on anything else, if you put any into it. Because markets work and there is strength in numbers. And public corruption is good because we are free. Or something.

Synova said...

Aaron is new and hasn't lost all patience with you yet.

You don't trust individuals to interpret and filter the noise/signal ratio in their own lives.

You think this is a "corruption" issue.

I believe that the answer to bad speech is more speech.

I believe that corruption has never, in the History of the World, been reduced by giving anyone the power to limit basic freedoms for the greater good.

I believe that a tyrant motivated by greed will sometimes leave you alone, but that a tyrant motivated by virtue will never leave you alone. To badly paraphrase CS Lewis.

And market adaptability and the inherent strengths of decentralizing decision making is not populism.

But it's still a better version than Obama's, when he tries to talk like he respects the people.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you stupid motherfuckers! Jeremy is back. I thought he'd leave in embarrassment forever or at least change his name again after the whole Massachusetts debacle.

But, duh!

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Aaron is new and hasn't lost all patience with you yet.

And yet, you never miss an opportunity to write a thesis in response to everything I say.

Aaron seems intelligent enough to not see things in black in white. Sorry if my more generous appraisal of him offends you.

You don't trust individuals to interpret and filter the noise/signal ratio in their own lives.

How smart an individual are we talking about?

You think this is a "corruption" issue.

It is.

I believe that the answer to bad speech is more speech.

I believe that anyone who oversimplifies speech - or anything else - into categories as subjective and meaningless as "good" and "bad", had probably better get a richer perspective on life. I also believe that "more" and "bad" are not opposites. You can have "more" of something "bad" just as easily as you can have "more" of something "good". But all this is just my response to a characteristically ridiculous slogan of yours that conveniently puts off the issue of what is or is not "well-informed". Keep putting it off, I say.

I believe that corruption has never, in the History of the World, been reduced by giving anyone the power to limit basic freedoms for the greater good.

I believe that no one has ever made a convincing point (perhaps even in the "History of the World") by not defining what is a "basic freedom", let alone the "greater good".

Certain freedoms conflict with other freedoms, and that is what we are talking about. The lawyers on here know this. You don't. I suggest you leave the debate to them.

I believe that a tyrant motivated by greed will sometimes leave you alone, but that a tyrant motivated by virtue will never leave you alone. To badly paraphrase CS Lewis.

That's an interesting platitude.

And market adaptability and the inherent strengths of decentralizing decision making is not populism.

Right! Because these are not popular, "anti-elitist" sentiments! Of course!

But it's still a better version than Obama's, when he tries to talk like he respects the people.

I'd venture to say that most people who feel respected by Obama have higher standards for what they expect of themselves and their elected officials than you seem to.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I'm wondering if C.S. Lewis ever thought that a tyrant motivated by greed might bankrupt you.

Dan said...

I agree with whoever said there were too many cameras in the room (too many cameras everywhere) and also with whoever said Alito probably didn't even know he was on camera.

The president released his speech a half hour before the show, too late for the justices to have a copy but plenty soon enough for the media to prepare the cameras for reaction shots based on what was coming in the speech.

Ann's point, that Alito's minimal reaction overshadowed the President is really like the news reporting their own polls and calling it news -- the media had the speech, they set up the cameras, made the news.

Synova said...

Me: You don't trust individuals to interpret and filter the noise/signal ratio in their own lives.

"How smart an individual are we talking about?"

Well that's hard to say. What do you think would be a good minimum for smarts before an individual should be trusted to take responsibility for access to bad information?

And should it be measured by IQ or should it be measured by a standard of ideological strength and mental cleanliness?

Apparently I fail.

Do I fail because my IQ is too low, or do I fail because my ideology shows moral weakness?

Anne Abler & said...

"Mr. Dooley says
And so last night, we were again witness to the scorn, the sneers, the clumsy sarcasm and the brazen repetition of outright lying by which President Obama expresses both his vision and his contempt for this country and its citizens.

Any American who has ever witnessed this ferocious contempt that President Obama and his minions express both in word and action ---at every chance they get---for this country, its citizens, its customs and its laws, probably will not forget the stinging humiliation of the experience, even for a “Chris Matthews” hour. And when Americans do choose to wallow in the denial of President Obama’s scornful posturing, to continually give him a “pass” for his abysmal ignorance, and to collectively repress the knowledge of his sheer contempt for its citizens, in order to conveniently ”forget “---for even one hour---the ultimate consequences of such deep seated and pervasive contempt, let them recognize, at least, that they do so at great peril and risk to our Constitution, to the Republic itself and to the citizenry who are even now being schooled in silence and taught to fear the consequences of the knock on the door in the middle of the night.

God help us all!!!

A.W. said...

Ritmo

> Aaron seems intelligent enough to not see things in black in white.

I do see it in black and white. In the tradition of jurists like Hugo Black I am damn near a free speech absolutist. If its speech, its protected, with only the most narrow exceptions based on the most compelling arguments. The fear that the wrong side might win the argument is not one of them.

> [sy] You don't trust individuals to interpret and filter the noise/signal ratio in their own lives.

> [you] How smart an individual are we talking about?

Its not a matter of trusting the people. It’s a matter of trusting them more than the politicians. You talk about conflicts of interest, but what about the conflict of interest that arises when a politician can decide who may speak for or against his re-election? You talk of corruption, but what about the corruption in that?

And its all so ridiculous these days. If rathergate teaches us anything, it is that david can kick goliath’s behind any day of the week. In that case the corporate behemoth tried to pass off lies as truth, and they got their behinds handed to them by 3 lawyers and Charles Johnson (who subsequently went nuts).

And, please cut out the ad homs. Sy is a brilliant person.

A.W. said...

ah, dang it..

A.W. = Aaron, fyi...

Chris said...

The only reason the media pays attention Obama's speeches anymore is to see what the GOP will say in retaliation, like this is some sort of godforsaken reality show competition and not our lives..

George said...

Scalia has rather dark skin. And he speaks with an Italian dialect only when he's had some chianti.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I am speaking about conflict of interest. I am speaking about differentiating the speech issue from the funding (of campaigns) issue, and applying it to the latter. I am pretty strong on free speech as well. That's why I am making that distinction. I honestly don't know how many times I need to say this.

As smart as you think Synova is, I wish she were smart enough to realize all that.

I also wish people would apply concepts like "trust" to something less binary than "government" versus "people" and that they could discern degrees of trust. Some politicians are less trustworthy than others, as are some people. It has to do with integrity and personal motivations, dude.

So as absolute as you want to be on speech, let's recognize that personal and national situations are more detailed.

And Synova, people can be allowed to fail in their personal lives, so I don't see why you want to force me to uphold the inherent rightness of everyone's personal decisions, let alone their political decisions. If you guys want to keep the libertarians in good stead, you have to abandon this mealy-mouth claptrap about every American being a winner the next available personal hero to you, and accept that people often make bad decisions, decisions not in their own interest, decisions that (if they are public) can negatively impact others' lives, etc., etc., etc.

It's not about denying them the freedom to do that. It's about holding them to account for it, whether rhetorically, politically, economically, or otherwise. And you'll have to get used to it. All indications are that the libertarians have been peeling off leftward, so you'd best abandon this overdone conflation of social or personal virtue with personal responsibility. The two are actually, you know, different things. The libertarians know this, even if the silly social conservatives don't.

There. Hopefully the ad hominems were minimized enough for anyone to get my points without getting distracted by stylistics.

Heidi said...

Are all the commenters here as factually challenged as Scott M?:

"Secretary Clinton attends the International Conference on Afghanistan Hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom and holds Bilateral Meetings in London, England."

Remember, this is an administration that can walk and chew gum at the same time!!

elHombre said...

Ritmo wrote: I am speaking about conflict of interest. I am speaking about differentiating the speech issue from the funding (of campaigns) issue, and applying it to the latter.

Citizens United is not about funding campaigns or financial contributions to campaigns. It is about financing political expression independent of the candidates' campaigns.

In any event, given that the financial benefits of "funding of campaigns" cannot legally accrue directly to the candidate, there is no financial conflict of interest.

As for moral conflicts, the nature of the currency is unimportant. If Barack Obama's appearance or the endorsement of a union leader had successfully turned the tide for Coakley in Massachusetts, she would be no less beholden to one of them than to a multi-thousand dollar contributor. If she would consider acting against her conscience at the behest of or to the benefit of either, a moral conflict of interest exists.

There are solid arguments for distinguishing campaign financing from so-called pure speech. Conflict of interest is not among them.

Andy said...

All I know is that Obama sure had one shiny right ear for someone NOT WEARING AN EARPIECE!

Wait, I'm sorry, have you lived down that bit of idiocy yet? I apologize if it's been forgotten.

elHombre said...

Ritmo wrote: All indications are that the libertarians have been peeling off leftward, so you'd best abandon this overdone conflation of social or personal virtue with personal responsibility. The two are actually, you know, different things.

Really? What indications are those? And which, exactly, do you claim libertarians are repelled by, "social or personal virtue", or "personal responsibility"?

Finally, "social or personal virtue" and "personal responsibility" are actually, you know, three, not two, different things.

The question is not whether the three are different. Obviously they are. The question is whether they are separable. Most virtuous people would say they are not.

elHombre said...

Remember, this is an administration that can walk and chew gum at the same time!!

True enough, Heidi. Unfortunately, these traits, separately or in combination, have very little to do with running government competently.

A.W. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A.W. said...

Ritmo

> I am speaking about differentiating the speech issue from the funding (of campaigns) issue

Bluntly that is disingenuous, although to be fair maybe you are just repeating the disingenuousness you have heard.

This case highlights better than any other that a restriction on expenditures IS a restriction on freedom of speech. After all, this means that Citizens United was not allowed to buy advertising space to promote its movie.

Don’t you get that expression costs money in our society. Yeah, you can shout at the top of your lungs for free, but you won’t be heard beyond your own block.

> Some politicians are less trustworthy than others, as are some people. It has to do with integrity and personal motivations, dude.

Great, and how do you propose we set up legal standards to measure who is pure of heart, exactly?

Its not that I don’t think some speech is odious, but the first amendment is based on the bitter lesson that you cannot trust the government to make that call.

> It's not about denying them the freedom to do that.

No, the FEC was all about denying freedom.

Andy

I literally don’t care if he had an earpiece or not. He’s allowed to. And let’s face it, there is nothing more lame than having a teleprompter in 6th grade.

Jeff Walden said...

Since the first comment's question inexplicably doesn't seem to have been answered yet in the past 278 comments...

"More, as I've not seen much mentioned yet, where the hell was Hillary?"

From the NY Times live blog, "Mrs. Clinton is in London on State of the Union night, on assignment as Mr. Obama’s secretary of state."

Fen said...

In what universe, and by what measure, did Alito's headshake "outweigh" the state of the union?

The incident has overshadowed Obama's horrid SOTU speech. Its all people all talking about. You should be grateful.

Lex said...

OK, here's what I don't get. I read on several blogs that Obama's comments were intended to "intimidate" the Court, or at least the conservative wing.

But those folks have been appointed, and confirmed, to lifetime jobs. How do you intimidate someone in that position? How does that even work? I mean, it looks to me as if it would violate the laws of simple Newtonian physics or something.

Just sayin'.

Bootlegger said...

Obama spoke the truth. Uncover your ears Wingnut Monkeys.

http://www.salon.com/news/state_of_the_union/index.html?story=/opinion/conason/2010/01/28/foreignbucks

A.W. said...

bootlegger

So, um, you think the NYT is lying...

Well, they are an evil corporation... heh.

elHombre said...

OK, here's what I don't get. I read on several blogs that Obama's comments were intended to "intimidate" the Court, or at least the conservative wing.

But those folks have been appointed, and confirmed, to lifetime jobs. ...?


Obama's comments about the Court, like most of his comments, were probably just intended to endear him to the public at someone else's expense.

Having said that, intent to intimidate can be readily inferred from his willingness to embarass the Court and to misstate their opinions in a public setting while relying on the Justices' historical reluctance to defend themselves.

Clearly, that backfired in this instance. Hence the outrage from the left at what Althouse correctly labels a "minimalist" reaction from Alito.

Hope that helps.

elHombre said...

Obama spoke the truth. Uncover your ears Wingnut Monkeys.

You might try reading the opinion instead of relying on some dim bulb lefty journalist.

Although dim bulb may be more your speed.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Don’t you get that expression costs money in our society. Yeah, you can shout at the top of your lungs for free, but you won’t be heard beyond your own block.

No, it doesn't. The dissemination of expression may cost money, depending on the medium. You and I and el Hombre can for virtually no charge post a number of posts on this blog or on any other, as can Ann Althouse; most blogs are free to maintain and participate in other than the fixed cost of the monthly internet service, and the size of the audience depends simply on the level of interest of the audience. Likewise, a large physical crowd may form around a self-styled politician or celebrity, or he may speak to an empty forum; it depends on interest level.

Politicians campaigned unassisted by any real technology with which to amplify their voices prior to the phonograph and radio. They had print, though.

I made this distinction earlier, and you seem to have either not read it or failed to grasp the point. Yes, expression is free, although dissemination might not be. It depends on the medium, the level of interest of the audience, and the capacity and willingness of a third party to disseminate that speech or front its costs. And this is why I distinguished between media which are part of an oligopoly and those which are not.

There are three network television channels and advertising on them involves a whole different set of economics than does advertising on the web, print, radio or cable television. And your audience can obviously be a lot more captive when you choose to exercise your speech over an oligopolistic medium than when you choose something else.

The fact that the government regulates the speech broadcast over the oligopolistic medium known as network television (as it does over terrestrial radio) should be salient, but you seem too obsessed with lawyering the politics of this to accept the impact made by understanding the economics of it.

So be it.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Finally, "social or personal virtue" and "personal responsibility" are actually, you know, three, not two, different things.

The question is not whether the three are different. Obviously they are. The question is whether they are separable. Most virtuous people would say they are not.


Too bad the libertarians you need in order to sustain a majority are not necessarily people whom you'd consider "virtuous". Hopefully they got the memo.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

In any event, given that the financial benefits of "funding of campaigns" cannot legally accrue directly to the candidate, there is no financial conflict of interest.

Not directly. But if some influential third party I know calls up a prospective employer of mine and persuades him into hiring me for a position I might not otherwise get, I owe some part of my happiness and subsequent livelihood to him. In this scenario the boss is the electorate, the candidate is the politician, and the third party is the special interest.

It's probably a question of how much corruption you're willing to further in those inseparable social and personal virtues of yours, hom. It's also about your comfort with turning a political office into a sinecure.

I can't imagine any competent economist defending sinecures as positions of virtue, let alone maintaining them on behalf of the boss.

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