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March 27, 2001
1:51 PM   Subscribe

A giant loophole in McCain-Feingold will give oil companies a total exemption from all its propsed spending restrictions. This is levelling the playing field?
posted by aaron (19 comments total)

 
Oh, did I say oil companies? I'm sorry, I meant a different industry.

Heh heh heh.
posted by aaron at 1:52 PM on March 27, 2001



I've never seen a straw man knocked down quite that hard. Ann Coulter: 1, Straw Man: 0.

Though if there was a point in there, I seem to have missed it in the bits about the "Liberal Media" saying nice things about John McCain.
posted by swell at 2:20 PM on March 27, 2001


You're a little too obtuse for me today, aaron. Is your point that campaign finance reform (or, as Coulter puts it, for reasons that must also have gone over my overeducated liberal head, "campaign finance reform") is bogus because the big-money media supports it? Or is this part of the vast, left-wing conspiracy to discredit Bush?

McCain is a populist, and the media has always loved populists. During the campaign, he was the underdog, and the media has always loved the underdog. The implication that if the "liberal media" (two can play at that game) "likes" a Republican, it must have an alterior motive, belongs over here.
posted by jpoulos at 2:43 PM on March 27, 2001


Ann Coulter is certainly the source I would turn to for ideology-free political analysis.

Putting aside the impulse to shoot the messenger, how would you quantify an editorial as a campaign contribution, Aaron? If it were written by the publisher, would it be a larger campaign contribution than if it were written by Jane Cubreporter? Could you do microdonations by choosing unflattering pictures of Bush? If I write that when Bush was cleared of insider trading charges, it was by a family friend and on flimsy excuses (or, for that matter, that Gore sponsored legislation favorable to Occidental Petroleum that his father stood to profit from), have I just made a quantifiable campaign contribution? What about when the Watergate story broke?

(And we've gone around the myth of the liberal media before.)
posted by snarkout at 2:48 PM on March 27, 2001


"Campaign finance reform" belongs in quotes because it's not really reform. (Perhaps today's federal court decision striking down race-based admissions standards at U of Mich. is "affirmative action reform.") And yes, it's bogus because the media is getting a loophole to say anything it wants and spend as much money as it wishes.

You want real campaign finance reform? Repeal the monetary restrictions already on the books.
posted by aaron at 2:50 PM on March 27, 2001



And we've gone around the myth of the liberal media before.

Uh-huh.
posted by aaron at 2:51 PM on March 27, 2001



(damn cut and paste going awry) Yes, snarkout, when only the media is allowed to freely communicate any information about political candidates, every example you give will be up for question. If it goes in the paper, it will be de facto campaigning for or against certain politicians because it will be largely impossible for anyone to get a response out to the public.
posted by aaron at 2:55 PM on March 27, 2001


I'll avoid repeating from the previous thread on "liberal media," Aaron; I think I made my case there. (And sorry if it seems like pick-on-Aaron day; these are good topics, although I think this particular link was poor.)

From Coulter's piece, "Section 431(9)(B)(i) of the campaign finance laws wholly exempts from the definition of campaign expenditure: 'any news story, commentary or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication.'" The law is explicitly saying that news articles and op-ed pieces aren't campaign expenditures. Even if your interpretation of Buckley vs. Valeco is that all campaign donations are constitutionally-protected free speech, it certainly doesn't mean that all free speech is therefore a campaign donation.

Your opinion is, then, that the the Supreme Court erred in finding that the governmental interest in preventing the appearance of impropriety overrode the free expression of giving money? Do you think there should be any regulation -- full disclosure of where the money is coming from, for instance -- of this political speech?

Let's recall the tenor of the times when the first campaign finance laws were passed -- Nixon had received millions of dollars in cash from ITT and the dairy industry in explicit quid pro quo deals. Even if you think that McCain-Feingold is a bad piece of legislation, it's ridiculous to say that reporting on million-dollar bribes to the President is the same as giving money to his opponent.
posted by snarkout at 3:19 PM on March 27, 2001


George W Bush is the anti christ for god's sake!
posted by greenbaygirl at 3:50 PM on March 27, 2001


*sigh* Snarkout ... you just reminded me of the first political protest I wanted to join. They had a ship and various effigies, and (yes) a fascinated camera crew.

Nixon, Exxon, ITT! Throw the tyrants in the sea!

Anyway, I'm not a great fan of the financing system that resulted. We should increase donation limits -- 3x or 5x would put us close to the spending power intended -- but also work hard to make the system more transparent.

I don't think we can really reduce the power of money in the system unless we reduce the importance of television ads -- and probably the only way to do that is to make the campaigns shorter. The UK's six weeks (or so) is probably too much (little) to expect, but if we could just get Congressmen etc. not feeling like they have to fundraise tens of thousands of dollars every day in office, we'll be going in the right direction.
posted by dhartung at 4:05 PM on March 27, 2001


If money is free speech then so is blowing up buildings in Oklahoma City. How come McVeigh was convicted, then?
posted by retrofut at 4:32 PM on March 27, 2001


"Campaign finance reform" belongs in quotes because it's not really reform.

Congratulations, Aaron -- that's one of the most willfully ignorant statements on the issue of campaign reform I've read in any media.

More than $450 million of unregulated soft money was raised during the 1999-2000 election cycle, compared to $262 million in 1995-96.

These contributions make our office-seekers dependent on big-money donors to a level unprecedented in U.S. history. The ads they pay for are among the most negative in any election, because there is no requirement for the group bankrolling an ad to identify itself.

Campaign finance reform is the only reform that really matters, in my book. If true reform took place in how we fund campaigns, a lot of other reform suddenly becomes possible.

And yes, it's bogus because the media is getting a loophole to say anything it wants and spend as much money as it wishes.

The media already has an exemption regardless of the bill -- the First Amendment.
posted by rcade at 5:26 PM on March 27, 2001


By Coulter's surreal definition of campaign contributions, was her op-ed piece to be counted as a donation to Bush's team that is trying to fight McCain-Feingold?
posted by Sqwerty at 5:57 PM on March 27, 2001


By Coulter's surreal definition of campaign contributions, was her op-ed piece to be counted as a donation to Bush's team that is trying to fight McCain-Feingold?
posted by Sqwerty at 6:36 PM on March 27, 2001


"Campaign finance reform" belongs in quotes because it's
not really reform.


Leaving aside political neanderthalism for the moment, this usage of quotation marks is wholly inappropriate. It's become fashionable to use the written form of air quotes when one wants to distance oneself from a term.

Reform is reform (a=a). If you want to say that the McCain-Feingold bill is not real reform, say so. This would be a difficult argument to make given that it makes large changes in how campaigns may be financed. Whether the reform is positive is another question.

But by all that is holy, let us reserve quotation marks for their correct usages. If a word is appropriate, have the courage to put it out there by itself. If it's not appropriate, don't use it.
posted by anapestic at 8:39 PM on March 27, 2001


Let's get down to fundamentals. Why do individuals/companies/interests groups give donations? To advance their causes and agendas. Whether the contributions are blantant bribes or support for sympathetic politicians doesn't matter. The point is contributions are given because people see government having such a large effect on everyday life. Suppose that the federal government didn't pass thousands of laws affecting everything from taxes to what toilet you can put in your bathroom. If there weren't so many laws passed that give advantage to some while giving disadvantage to others, then there wouldn't be such a desire to donate to campaigns and political parties. Campaign finance reform only treats superficial symptoms of a political system that has expanded beyond its constitutional boundaries. Put restraints on government and you will see private restraint on political cash.
posted by shackbar at 10:24 PM on March 27, 2001


(Can we please get a warning when it's a link to Coulter, like we do when it's, say, Salon or plastic.com? I'm as conservative as anybody here, but she's so smug and smarmy, I always feel like I need a shower when I'm done reading her half-baked, transparently Bush-directed spew... She gives any columnist with clear political affiliations a bad name.)
posted by m.polo at 5:15 AM on March 28, 2001


when only the media is allowed to freely communicate...

All this talk of "The Media" is really stupid. Who's the media? Isn't Drudge the media? Isn't Metafilter the media? Aaron, aren't you the media? You can say whatever the hell you want (so can Rupert Murdoch), and you won't have to pay for it.

Just because you perceive a bias in the Media doesn't mean that Money=Speech. If your Conservatism doesn't survive in the open market (primarily because, some would argue, liberals pay more attention to the News than some conservatives) then too bad. Go start a newspaper.
posted by jpoulos at 10:38 AM on March 28, 2001


McCain is a populist, and the media has always loved populists. During the campaign, he was the underdog, and the media has always loved the underdog.

The reality of why the media is covering McCain, from today's Washington Post. Howard Kurtz's column.

Just because you perceive a bias in the Media doesn't mean that Money=Speech.

Buckley v. Valeo. 424 US 1. Money equals speech. QED.

Though it is deeply amusing of you to have the chutzpah to bring up the "open market" when this bill is precisely intended to ban access to the open market.

The media already has an exemption regardless of the bill -- the First Amendment.

So who's right, Rogers: You or jpoulos? If we're all the media, and the First Amendment protects us all, then this bill is illegal.
posted by aaron at 10:33 PM on April 1, 2001



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