Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Short List - February 1, 2012

International

Domestic

35 comments:

Colin said...

If anyone really wants to get money out of politics there is a very simple solution: reduce the size and power of government. The less government does, the less money will be spent trying to influence it. Strangely I never heard the left talk about this.

As for Citizens United, I came across an interesting opinion piece the other day in The Nation noting that Citizens United has corresponded with a particularly vibrant GOP primary. Seems that rather than destroying democracy, Citizens United has actually invigorated it. Of course, the idea that the additional political speech unleashed by Citizens United would somehow undermine democracy was always a dubious proposition to start with.

Ben said...

As for Citizens United, I came across an interesting opinion piece the other day in The Nation noting that Citizens United has corresponded with a particularly vibrant GOP primary. Seems that rather than destroying democracy, Citizens United has actually invigorated it.

Classic post hoc ergo proctor hoc logical fallacy. Did campaign finance reform dampen primaries? The vibrant and marathon-length Democratic primary in 2008 occurred before the Citizen's United decision and after McCain-Feingold. And the rollicking Republican primaries in 2000, 1996, and 1980, and the Democratic primaries of 1992, 1988, and 1980 all occurred after FECA.

And, of course, the conflation of money and speech was always a ridiculous proposition. It is one we will live to regret--many of us already do.

Jason said...

I don't hear the right arguing for less money either.

If by "vibrant" you mean "the possibility that insurgent candidates armed with one rich donor can seize control from a once stable Republican power elite." Then, yes I suppose you'd be encouraged.

As for me, as I've said ad nauseum, money doesn't equal speech and the precise fact that money is so intrinsically quantifiable would seem to suggest if money does equal free speech, then there are those with more free speech then others.
That's not what I think of when I think of democracy.

Bret said...

Nate Silver can say with 95% confidence that the Pearson's correlation coefficient between money and speech is between -1 and 1.

Ben said...

Excuse me: propter hoc.

Colin said...

Classic post hoc ergo proctor hoc logical fallacy. Did campaign finance reform dampen primaries? The vibrant and marathon-length Democratic primary in 2008 occurred before the Citizen's United decision and after McCain-Feingold. And the rollicking Republican primaries in 2000, 1996, and 1980, and the Democratic primaries of 1992, 1988, and 1980 all occurred after FECA.

Ah, but even if we accept for the sake of argument that previous primaries were no less vibrant (and I would point out this is the first GOP primary in history where three different candidates have won the first three contests), that's still a win for Citizen's United. After all, wasn't Citizen's United supposed to undermine democracy?

If we can say that, at a minimum, the primary season has been no less vibrant, then the argument Citizen's United is a threat to democracy is undermined. Look, since you're the one who wants to restrict freedom, then it is incumbent upon you to demonsrate that our democracy has been negatively impacted. So far I find that a hard case to make.

I'll further note one other article from National Journal:

This year, it’s the Republicans’ adept and aggressive use of super PACs to even the financial playing field, blunting the often-massive money advantages that an incumbent president has at his disposal. With the emergence of American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS and Restore Our Future, a well-stocked Romney super PAC, the Obama fundraising juggernaut no longer looks so imposing...That brings the combined Obama + Democratic outside group totals to $98.3 million cash-on-hand, with the GOP groups tallying $94.1 million. Take out the Democratic groups strictly devoted to Congressional activities, and it’s a virtual financial tie. With labor and environmental groups poised to help Obama’s re-election, Democrats still could hold a narrow edge. But it’s hardly the cash advantage that would allow Team Obama to run negative advertising uncontested against Romney, without an aggressive response.

So, because of Citizens United the playing field has been leveled and the advantage of incumbency is no longer so pronounced. Explain to me again how this is a threat to democracy?

Colin said...
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Colin said...

I don't hear the right arguing for less money either.

Actually the right is the only place I have heard the argument that less government=less money in politics advanced. I have never seen the left engage with this argument, however.

If by "vibrant" you mean "the possibility that insurgent candidates armed with one rich donor can seize control from a once stable Republican power elite." Then, yes I suppose you'd be encouraged.

And I am! I think challenging existing power structures and expanding the pool of viable candidates is a good thing. I don't see coronations as the sign of a vibrant democracy, but maybe that's just me.

As for me, as I've said ad nauseum, money doesn't equal speech and the precise fact that money is so intrinsically quantifiable would seem to suggest if money does equal free speech, then there are those with more free speech then others.

When you restrict my ability to give money to others so that they can engage in free speech on my behalf, you are squelching my free speech.

Jason said...

If by "challenging existing power structures and expanding the pool of viable candidates is a good thing." you mean one rich guy backing an otherwise nonviable candidate, then I suppose you're quite excited.

Also, did I miss a coronation or something? Didn't voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida all vote for their preferred candidates?

When you restrict my ability to give money to others so that they can engage in free speech on my behalf, you are squelching my free speech.

So now we need to defend free speech by proxy? Is that in the Constitution because I must have missed it?

Colin said...

you mean one rich guy backing an otherwise nonviable candidate, then I suppose you're quite excited.

Yes, I think it is a good thing when people have the means to spread their message. It makes for a more vibrant democracy.

Also, did I miss a coronation or something? Didn't voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida all vote for their preferred candidates?

Hey, you're the one who cited a "stable Republican power elite." I just think it's a good thing that someone other than them (i.e. the coronation) gets to determine who the nominee is.

So now we need to defend free speech by proxy? Is that in the Constitution because I must have missed it?

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech."

Don't see any exceptions there, so to me that covers the gamut. Campaign finance reform inhibits my ability to get my message heard, therefore it is an infringement on free speech.

For the life of me I can't figure out why the left feels so threatened by more speech about politics.

Ben said...

For the life of me I can't figure out why the left feels so threatened by more speech about politics.

I'm surprised you're confused by this as you've made it up. The left is not threatened by more speech about politics. Nor does Citizen's United mean more speech about politics.

Instead, as we've discussed before and ad nasseum, Citizen's United represents the subversion of democratic ideals simply through (1) its wrong-headed emphasis on the money-speech equivalence; and (2) its rejection of the existence of anything other than quid-pro-quo corruption. Now, while this discussion has focused on (1), I would argue (2) is even more worrisome. No matter.

The Trouble with (1)
The problem with the money-speech equivalence is that it sacrifices actual speech (you know, with words) for money. In this way it both implicitly values money over actual speech and implicitly values the speech of the well-off over the speech of the not-so-well-off. But worse than the government valuing one class’s speech over another’s—which, I think you would have a problem with, Colin—removing all restraints on spending has the potential (and we saw this in some Florida media markets, actually) to drown out all ideas that oppose the ideas belonging to the largest pile of money—in so far as Florida was about ideas instead of the impact of a negative ad blitz, but I digress.

Despite your straw man about the left, it is the left that actually consistently fights to expand and protect political speech. Witness the ACLU, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Brennan Center, and countless other left or left-leaning organizations that defend not only the speech of those Occupy Protesters (whose political speech you consistently deride—if you want more, why not more of them?) but also the people on your side of the aisle, or even extremists like the Nazis in Skokie, Illinois. We want more speech—we want more voices (this is why we favor registering voters and we despise nonsensical barriers to voting and registration). But we want those new voices, to at least have a chance of competing against large, wealthy interests who are already well represented and reap a disproportionate share of the benefits afforded by this great country.

Colin said...

Nor does Citizen's United mean more speech about politics.

Demonstrably false. More money means more advertising, and advertising is speech. More money will be spent this election than ever before, at least partly due to Citizens United.

But worse than the government valuing one class’s speech over another’s—which, I think you would have a problem with, Colin—removing all restraints on spending has the potential (and we saw this in some Florida media markets, actually) to drown out all ideas that oppose the ideas belonging to the largest pile of money—in so far as Florida was about ideas instead of the impact of a negative ad blitz, but I digress.

Actually I don't see the government promoting one type of speech over another. I see the government lifting restrictions, which is the opposite of doling out favors or picking winners. Government restrictions, on the hand, are implicit favors to various types of speech.

As for negative advertising, there are studies indicating that it is particularly useful in serving to inform voters, so see little reason to be worried about that.

Despite your straw man about the left, it is the left that actually consistently fights to expand and protect political speech. Witness the ACLU...

The ACLU, of course, filed an amicus brief on Citizens United stating that section 203 of McCain-Feingold is facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it permits the suppression of core political speech. Good for them.

(whose political speech you consistently deride—if you want more, why not more of them?)

Excuse me, but have I never called for restrictions on their free speech? On the contrary I find them hilarious and harmful to their own cause.

But we want those new voices, to at least have a chance of competing against large, wealthy interests who are already well represented and reap a disproportionate share of the benefits afforded by this great country.

Then you should favor Citizens United. One nice check from Warren Buffet and you can advocate for tax increases on the rich until the cows come home, getting out your message like never before.

BTW, if money is so deterministic of election outcomes and such an obvious boon to the moneyed class, what happened to Senators McMahon and Fiorina? Or Governor Whitman?

Nick said...

How this GOP primary can be seen as anything other than a complete disaster is beyond me. Using it as an example of the success of anything seems...out of touch.

Ben said...

More money means more advertising, and advertising is speech. More money will be spent this election than ever before, at least partly due to Citizens United.

More speech in this immature, gross, and coarse sense may mean more advertisements but it does not mean more ideas. The whole point of this experiment we call democracy is to engage in a competition of ideas. Citizen’s United undermines democracy and the competition of ideas by destroying the forum, replacing the competition over the merits of ideas with a competition over the biggest collection of money. Why is the right so scared of a competition of ideas? Are your ideas so plainly bad or divorced from reality that you must resort to simply screaming louder?

Actually I don't see the government promoting one type of speech over another. I see the government lifting restrictions, which is the opposite of doling out favors or picking winners.

Only if the playing field is level to begin with. If it’s not level to begin with, then lifting restrictions actually does pick winners and losers; it actually does endorse one set of ideas over another. You’re very well experienced and educated; surely you can recognize that.

As for negative advertising, there are studies indicating that it is particularly useful in serving to inform voters, so see little reason to be worried about that.

Let’s not debate this here because inform in these studies (at least the ones I’ve read) is used in a peculiar sense that does accord with our connotative use. If you’d like to have this debate, let us collect some of these articles and argue on a different thread. Your blog or mine. Your choice.

Good for them.
You’re welcome. And thank you for your implicit recognition of the correctness of my statement regarding the left defending more speech. It’s nice when you can sort of admit you were using a straw man.


You’re arguing with something I didn’t say. I said you deride them—which you’ve done here again.

BTW, if money is so deterministic of election outcomes

Again you’re arguing with something I didn’t say. I’ve been talking about ideas and not election outcomes narrowly. At any rate, for your two examples of well-financed candidates losing, there are of course many examples of well-financed candidates winning. Sometimes there’s just not enough money in the world to make a bad candidate good (pity McMahon). Sometimes there’s just enough money in the world to make a bad candidate palatable (Romney).

Colin said...

How this GOP primary can be seen as anything other than a complete disaster is beyond me. Using it as an example of the success of anything seems...out of touch.

This is so unspecific that I have no idea how to respond.

Colin said...

More speech in this immature, gross, and coarse sense may mean more advertisements but it does not mean more ideas.

Also false. The more money a candidate has, the better that candidate can advance their ideas and get the message out (where would Ron Paul's ideas such as End the Fed and drug legalization be without his numerous money bombs?). While such speech may offend your particular sensibilities, that's pretty irrelevant.

The whole point of this experiment we call democracy is to engage in a competition of ideas.

And the more money, the better our ability to exchange and advocate for ideas. The more money Mitt Romney has, the better he can expose the lunacy of his opponent's ideas, and vice versa. This is not hard.

Citizen’s United undermines democracy and the competition of ideas by destroying the forum, replacing the competition over the merits of ideas with a competition over the biggest collection of money.

Except, if this were true, and the competition was simply over who has more money, Senators McMahon and Fiorina would be in office right now.

It's also interesting that Russ Feingold, who lost to one of the few successful self-funded candidates in 2010, is on record as stating that he would have lost even if he had another $100 million to spend.

Why is the right so scared of a competition of ideas? Are your ideas so plainly bad or divorced from reality that you must resort to simply screaming louder?

No amigo, it is the right that wants a battle of ideas without restrictions, so that as many ideas can be advanced and the most voices heard as possible, resulting in the most vibrant debate. It is the left that wants to clamp down on this debate by limiting the amount of money that can be spent getting the message out.

Further, if this is nothing more than a screaming match, do you think so little of voters that they simply vote for whoever screams the loudest?

Only if the playing field is level to begin with. If it’s not level to begin with, then lifting restrictions actually does pick winners and losers; it actually does endorse one set of ideas over another.

No, it does not. Refusing to ban something is not the same as an endorsement. If the government lifted its nonsensical ban on marijuana usage this would not be the same as telling people to go smoke a bowl.

It’s nice when you can sort of admit you were using a straw man.

Not a straw man. The left, broadly speaking, is against more money for political speech, therefore it quite obviously scared about more free speech.

You’re arguing with something I didn’t say.

No, I am arguing with something you said. You said "if you want more, why not more of them."

But I never said I was against more speech by the Occupy crowd -- indeed I welcome it -- so this comment makes little obvious sense.

Again you’re arguing with something I didn’t say.

Maybe not directly, but certainly implied (particularly in your response when you said that Citizens United is turning elections into a competition over who has the biggest pile of money).

Lastly, if Citizens United really is the big threat to democracy its opponents make it out to be, where is the evidence? The decision is now two years old and since then we've had a congressional election that saw the most turnover in Congress in a generation, the massive failure of self-funded candidates and a GOP primary that appears set to be the longest-lasting in recent memory with three different winners in the first three states contested (for the first time ever).

Where is the demise of democracy? Where is the harm? Leaving theory aside, where is the demonstrable proof of the alleged dangers of Citizens United?

Jason said...

This doesn't sound like democracy:
"[S]uper PACs are turning out to be vehicles for a very limited number of wealthy individuals and corporations to spend very large sums of money and take a blaring megaphone to the concept of political speech."

Jason said...

[T]he more money, the better our ability to exchange and advocate for ideas.

One of those is true.

[I]t is the right that wants a battle of ideas without restrictions, so that as many ideas can be advanced and the most voices heard as possible, resulting in the most vibrant debate.

You're conflating the number of ideas with the size of the megaphone. More money doesn't mean more ideas, it means those with the money have a bigger megaphone.

I assume you'd be all a flutter with the merits of free speech if a billionaire bigot spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a Super PAC so we could re-debate if slavery was or wasn't a good idea? In your world, that idea, really a settled debate for what I think we can safely say is 95% of Americans, would add to a vibrant debate, no?

Or perhaps we could look at a lesser idea, also on the fringe, like returning to the gold standard? An idea perhaps less settled than the idea of slavery, but one where there is a broad-based consensus that it would be disastrous for our economy. Surely that idea would be a valuable one to have in this vibrant debate you seek.

No, Colin, what you neglect to acknowledge is the difference between the size of the megaphone and the quality of the idea.

Wait, did I just read Sheldon Adelson just gave 10 million dollars to a Super PAC that runs ads arguing the world is flat? (Apparently inspired by Thomas Friedman's book) Boy, these Republican debates will sure be vibrant as we debate this important idea.

Nick said...

Let me be specific: Herman Cain.

Colin said...

"[S]uper PACs are turning out to be vehicles for a very limited number of wealthy individuals and corporations to spend very large sums of money and take a blaring megaphone to the concept of political speech."

Yes, lots of speech about politics is a good thing in a democracy.

Colin said...

One of those is true.

An unsupported assertion.

I assume you'd be all a flutter with the merits of free speech if a billionaire bigot spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a Super PAC so we could re-debate if slavery was or wasn't a good idea? In your world, that idea, really a settled debate for what I think we can safely say is 95% of Americans, would add to a vibrant debate, no?

This is actually a good point, albeit unintentionally. Let us imagine that some paragon of evil, say the Koch brothers, decided to pour their entire fortune into advocating for the re-instatement of slavery. Let's say this amounted to some fantastical sum -- perhaps $10 billion.

What do you suppose the odds are that this effort would meet with success? How many politicians would ride the pro-slavery platform to victory? My guess is about zero on both counts, which illustrates just how misplaced this obsession with money is.

Wait, did I just read Sheldon Adelson just gave 10 million dollars to a Super PAC that runs ads arguing the world is flat? (Apparently inspired by Thomas Friedman's book) Boy, these Republican debates will sure be vibrant as we debate this important idea.

Yes, the debate would be more vibrant with complete silence and less discussion. No, wait, that is completely nonsensical.

Colin said...

Let me be specific: Herman Cain.

What about him?

Jason said...

You made the claim, without support, that money increases the "ability to exchange" ideas. How does money, which we can now demonstrate is coming from a very few very wealthy people, increase the ability to exchange ideas?

Again, the size of the megaphone isn't synonymous with the quality or value of the idea.

What do you suppose the odds are that this effort would meet with success? How many politicians would ride the pro-slavery platform to victory?

My issue is that the money and the corresponding size of the megaphone would make this preposterous idea part of the debate. How is democracy helped when a very rich individual can use their massive megaphone to redefine the debate in this country?

Yes, the debate would be more vibrant with complete silence and less discussion.

Completely unhelpful comment. This isn't a dichotomous choice between unlimited money in politics and zero money in politics. McCain-Feingold didn't stop people from donating to campaigns, rather it helped to restrict the ability of a single individual or entity to dominate or define the debate. How is that bad for the exchange of ideas? You put this premium on the number of ideas that are debated, and yet market forces would tell you (and I know how you love the markets) that if massive amount money is spent marketing one idea or product, it can eclipse all other ideas that have less resources, regardless of the quality of the idea.

Bret said...

comment 2/2 at 3:19 ben invokes the spirit of JS Mill. i had no idea you were such a post industrialist utilitarian. nate silver would be proud. wanna play pushpins later?

Ben said...

Yes, lots of speech about politics is a good thing in a democracy.

Not if it's only a lot of speech about one idea. There was a democracy called the Soviet Union that was quite a bit like that.

Honestly, why you persist in willfully ignoring the drowning-out potential is beyond me. Perhaps you don't believe that those of us who aren't independently wealthy or associations of large corporate interests don't deserve to have ideas (or at least to have our ideas heard).

Colin said...

You made the claim, without support, that money increases the "ability to exchange" ideas. How does money, which we can now demonstrate is coming from a very few very wealthy people, increase the ability to exchange ideas?

Actually, money comes from lots of people. According to Open Secrets, over 300,000 people have donated at least $200 to either candidates or PACs in the 2011-12 campaign cycle.

But to your point, the more money raised, the more ads can be aired expressing ideas. Therefore there are more ideas being exchanged. This is not a difficult concept.

Again, the size of the megaphone isn't synonymous with the quality or value of the idea.

The megaphone metaphor is inappropriate. This implies that some ideas drown out others through superior volume -- resulting in someone not getting thier message out -- but this isn't so. If I air ten campaign ads in an hour and you air three, that doesn't stop anyone from hearing your message.

Second, who is to judge the quality or value of an idea? You?

My issue is that the money and the corresponding size of the megaphone would make this preposterous idea part of the debate. How is democracy helped when a very rich individual can use their massive megaphone to redefine the debate in this country?

Again, the megaphone metaphor is not an apt one.

Second, I don't see how a rich person can redefine the debate in this country. Keeping with your pro-slavery example, which is a more likely scenario as a result of the Koch brothers launching a multibillion dollar campaign advocating for reinstating slavery: slavery immediately takes center stage in the political debates, with candidates pressed for their views on the matter, pundits talking the issue up and The Economist running a cover story with Slavery: Back to the Future? Or, widespread mockery, condemnation and magazine cover stories to the effect of WTF is Up with These Guys?

Completely unhelpful comment. This isn't a dichotomous choice between unlimited money in politics and zero money in politics.

No, but there is a dichotomous choice between talking about a flat earth (or whatever) and not talking about it. I believe that talking about more things makes for a more vibrant debate. You seem to feel otherwise.

McCain-Feingold didn't stop people from donating to campaigns, rather it helped to restrict the ability of a single individual or entity to dominate or define the debate. How is that bad for the exchange of ideas?

It limits the amount of money, and thus speech, that can be used advocating for ideas. Thus, less exchange.

You put this premium on the number of ideas that are debated, and yet market forces would tell you (and I know how you love the markets) that if massive amount money is spent marketing one idea or product, it can eclipse all other ideas that have less resources, regardless of the quality of the idea.

My belief in markets perfectly dovetails with my opposition to limits on speech. If a product is terrible, it really doesn't how much money is spent marketing it, it still won't sell. This holds both for commercial products (e.g. the Pontiac Aztek) or political ideas (e.g. re-instituting slavery).

Colin said...

Not if it's only a lot of speech about one idea. There was a democracy called the Soviet Union that was quite a bit like that.

Why would there only be speech about one idea? Would all the people on one side of the issue be sent to Gitmo? Would their money be confiscated so they couldn't air opposing views? What on earth are you talking about?

Honestly, why you persist in willfully ignoring the drowning-out potential is beyond me.

See my last response to Jason explaining why the megaphone/drowning out argument doesn't work.

Perhaps you don't believe that those of us who aren't independently wealthy or associations of large corporate interests don't deserve to have ideas (or at least to have our ideas heard).

Perhaps! Or perhaps I think that restrictions on free speech are wrong, and that we don't arrive at a better democracy by limiting people's ability to get their message out.

Nick said...
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Nick said...

Colbert Makes Citizens United Look Ridiculous

Ben said...

Actually, money comes from lots of people. According to Open Secrets, over 300,000 people have donated at least $200 to either candidates or PACs in the 2011-12 campaign cycle.

The problem is not PACs or Candidates but Super PACs (which are a misnomer, so your confusion is excused). See this for a discussion of the actual number of people and organizations driving the Super PACs, which I think we agree are doing most of the spending.

It's interesting, I think, that you have spilled much ink over unrestricted spending as speech, but the facts on which you rely are actually the very limited spending constraints that inure to individuals giving to candidates or (real) PACs.

The megaphone metaphor is inappropriate. This implies that some ideas drown out others through superior volume -- resulting in someone not getting thier message out -- but this isn't so. If I air ten campaign ads in an hour and you air three, that doesn't stop anyone from hearing your message.

Well, this is just silly. If there can be only ten ads in an hour, and you purchase all of them, of course you deny me the ability to get out my message. Effective ad space is actually finite in the real world--if it weren't finite, then it'd be free and the money argument would have much less resonance (and advertising would cost the same in Florida as it does in Idaho, to say nothing of Super Bowl advertisements).

Perhaps! Or perhaps I think that restrictions on free speech are wrong, and that we don't arrive at a better democracy by limiting people's ability to get their message out.

Then you'd be a good progressive. How do you feel about publicly financed campaigns? It seems to me that if we're concerned about ideas and the exchange of ideas, subsidizing campaigns from all manner of people would be a good away to ensure a plethora of ideas and viewpoints.

I guess I still don't understand why you think the rich are entitled to more speech than the not rich. Or why their ideas are more valuable than mine or yours. Why should those least well-served by society have to surmount high burdens than the best served to have their concerns addressed?

Ben said...

Why would there only be speech about one idea? Would all the people on one side of the issue be sent to Gitmo? Would their money be confiscated so they couldn't air opposing views? What on earth are you talking about?

Drowning out. See all of my comments above.

Jason said...

According to Open Secrets, over 300,000 people have donated at least $200 to either candidates or PACs in the 2011-12 campaign cycle

That's about 70,000 fewer people then those who voted for Rick Santorum in the Florida primary earlier this week. Sen. Santorum came in 3rd.

If I air ten campaign ads in an hour and you air three, that doesn't stop anyone from hearing your message.

Each add, just to a local network market in primetime could easily cost over $100,000. So it takes at least $1,000,000 to run those ten ads. A multi-billion dollar ad that wants to can monopolize the airwaves precisely because they are disproportionally funded as compared to rival ideas. That means the potential for a crowding out given the finite number of minutes in a day.

You sight Newt's presence in the campaign as a success story, but it's been widely reported that Romney and his affiliated Super PAC outspent Newt 5 to 1 for a vote margin far below that. Surely Newt's message was crowded out by that sort of disparity between a buy, right?

Your naivete towards the possibility unlimited monetary resources creates to monopolize the finite number of air time in a day, is flabbergasting.

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised though, since admission of the possibility of crowding out undermines your misguided belief that money equals speech.

Colin said...

Well, this is just silly. If there can be only ten ads in an hour, and you purchase all of them, of course you deny me the ability to get out my message. Effective ad space is actually finite in the real world--if it weren't finite, then it'd be free and the money argument would have much less resonance (and advertising would cost the same in Florida as it does in Idaho, to say nothing of Super Bowl advertisements).

Ridiculous. I get something like 500 channels on my TV. You think that there is a political campaign anywhere that can afford to buy every commercial space on every channel? This is your argument? And there are other means as well such as internet, billboards, radio, handing out flyers, etc. You are advancing an absolutely absurd argument.

Then you'd be a good progressive. How do you feel about publicly financed campaigns? It seems to me that if we're concerned about ideas and the exchange of ideas, subsidizing campaigns from all manner of people would be a good away to ensure a plethora of ideas and viewpoints.

No, I would be a very bad progressive, as I don't believe in using government force to impose my will on the world. Publicly funded campaigns are one of the dumbest ideas (and there are plenty!) to emerge from the progressive camp. Confiscating money from taxpayers to give to political campaigns is a terrible idea. Why should I be forced to have my money taken so that views I disagree with should be aired? And who gets to decide which views/parties are worthy of having their views aired? Other politicians? Talk about a system ripe for abuse.

I guess I still don't understand why you think the rich are entitled to more speech than the not rich. Or why their ideas are more valuable than mine or yours. Why should those least well-served by society have to surmount high burdens than the best served to have their concerns addressed?

I think the rich, like everyone else, are entitled to free speech, and to use their money as they see fit. That's what living in a free country is all about. I am revolted by the thought of living in a country where free speech is parceled out and limited.

Colin said...

Drowning out. See all of my comments above.

This is, of course, mythical. Can you point to an example of this ever occurring? Has a candidate ever bought every means of communicating ideas so that their opponent was unable to get their message out? I'd rather base policy on observable evidence than wild theorizing.

Colin said...

That's about 70,000 fewer people then those who voted for Rick Santorum in the Florida primary earlier this week. Sen. Santorum came in 3rd.

What on earth does one have to do with the other?

Each add, just to a local network market in primetime could easily cost over $100,000. So it takes at least $1,000,000 to run those ten ads. A multi-billion dollar ad that wants to can monopolize the airwaves precisely because they are disproportionally funded as compared to rival ideas. That means the potential for a crowding out given the finite number of minutes in a day.

Again, you really think a campaign can buy every radio, TV, and billboard? Every newspaper ad space? For all hours of the day? Does that make any sense?

You sight Newt's presence in the campaign as a success story, but it's been widely reported that Romney and his affiliated Super PAC outspent Newt 5 to 1 for a vote margin far below that. Surely Newt's message was crowded out by that sort of disparity between a buy, right?

No, I have no reason to think Newt's message was crowded out. I am unaware of Newt being unable to purchase ad space on TV or any other medium because it had all been taken by the Romney campaign. If you have evidence to the contrary, please pass it along.

I'll also note that in California in 2010 that Whitman outspent Brown by something like 4-1 and still lost by 13 points. Jeff Greene couldn't even win the Dem primary in Florida in 2010 even though he outspent his opponent by something like 6-1.

Your naivete towards the possibility unlimited monetary resources creates to monopolize the finite number of air time in a day, is flabbergasting.

Frankly I find your willingness to subscribe to the notion that someone could purchase the tens of thousands of hours of ad space on TV and radio plus all other media absolutely fantastical. That your have to conjure up such incredibly unlikely scenarios to support your argument illustrates just how weak it is.

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised though, since admission of the possibility of crowding out undermines your misguided belief that money equals speech.

So misguided that the Supreme Court agrees with me, noting that money is speech because "virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money" (Buckley v. Valeo). Also, long-standing ACLU policy was to agree with this formulation. I find it bizarre that anyone could disagree.