Thursday, May 26, 2016

Citizens United: The Real Story


THE HISTORY OF MODERN CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS
By Krist Novoselic

The most notorious Supreme Court ruling of recent times is 2010’s Citizens United v. F.E.C. This ruling has captured many an imagination with the idea that the Court turned somehow turned “corporations into people” or that money was created into speech. This article is not about propagating these useless catchphrases, rather, it is about how independent campaign expenditure prohibitions bump into 1st Amendment protections. I look at the history of attempts to regulate independent campaign expenditures and how, in the process, a state censorship board was created.


On February 5, 1972 President Nixon signed the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) into law. The New York Times reported that some considered the Act “a revolution in American political finance”[i]. While it may not have materialized any revolution, this legislation, and its progeny certainly have caused much judicial and legislative controversy—casting a shadow that affects us to this day.

FECA arose from the demand for reform after campaign finance abuses of the time. The legislation required detailed disclosure of campaign contributions; set campaign contribution limits to candidates, parties and committees; set expenditure limits on campaigns, independent groups and individuals and created the first public financing of presidential campaigns and national conventions. Under the Act, the Comptroller General of the United States General Accounting Office monitored compliance with FECA. 1972 was an election year, therefore it did not take long for the new law to become embroiled in campaign politics.
           
A group called "The National Committee for Impeachment," purchased a full two-page advertisement in the May 31, 1972, issue of The New York Times (Times). Under the title of "A Resolution to Impeach Richard M. Nixon as President of the United States" the advertisement was critical of the sitting president’s Vietnam war policies. The group also stated it would, “devote its resources in funds and publicity in aid of any new candidate for election to the House of Representatives” who supported impeachment of Nixon.

The Nixon administration soon after filed a complaint under FECA’s § 301(f), claiming that this two-page advertisement was effectively a campaign expenditure. Nixon alleged the group “attempted to influence the outcome of various Congressional primary and general elections” [ii], along with, "the outcome of the 1972 Presidential and Vice Presidential elections." The United States Department of Justice issued an injunction against the impeachment group, and also let it be known it was considering prosecuting the Times for running the advertisement.

The United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit decided on October 30, 1972 that “The dampening effect on first amendment rights and the potential for arbitrary administrative action that would result from such a situation would be intolerable.”[iii] In a narrow ruling, the Second Circuit found this single newspaper advertisement failed to establish a close nexus between the impeachment group and a specific candidate. While FECA’s expenditure limits may have survived this challenge, there was still unease over the government’s potential to stifle political speech.

On October 27, 1972 a full page ad ran in the Times with the title “It Took A Court Order To Get This Advertisement Printed”. In fact, the action of obtaining an order is exactly what the ACLU did before it purchased the advertisement. On December 9, 1972, the Times published a letter to the editor from Aryeh Neier, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)[iv]. Mr. Neier was defending the advertisement and was in response to another letter published in the Times a day after the advertisement ran by Phillip S. Hughes, Director of the Office of Federal Elections. Mr. Hughes asserted that such an order was not needed to run the advertisement. Mr. Neier stated that the order was obtained to “vindicate our right not to submit materials we wish to publish for prior review by any government agency.” Mr. Hughes may be correct that such an order was unnecessary, nevertheless, the ACLU obtained the order to make the point that expenditure limitations could potentially stifle free speech.

While the 1972 ruling regarding the impeachment advertisement expressed concerns over “arbitrary administrative action” by the government, nonetheless, FECA became a political weapon used by warring campaigns during elections. Accusations of breaking the rules were flying, however, according the the Federal Election Commission, following the 1972 elections, few of the nearly 7,000 cases referred to the Justice Department and the Comptroller General by congressional officials were litigated[v].

In 1974, after campaign finance abuses in the 1972 presidential election came to light, Congress amended FECA. The result was tighter contribution and spending limits[vi]. In addition, the Federal Election Commission, now an independent body appointed jointly by Congress and the President, was established. Another amendment exempted media companies from falling under independent expenditure prohibitions to “ensure the unfettered right of the newspapers, TV networks, and other media to cover and comment on political-campaigns.”[vii] Other than the media exemption, FECA’s amendments were immediately challenged by presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy, New York US Senator James Buckley, the Libertarian Party, the ACLU and other groups.

On January 30, 1976 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled unanimously in Buckley v. Valeo[viii] that, among other issues, the expenditure limits were unconstitutional restraints on speech. The Court rejected arguments defending the law that expenditures were conduct and not speech. Unlike the burning of a draft card—which is determined to be conduct and not speech—the Court said, “some forms of communication made possible by the giving and spending of money involve speech alone, some involve conduct primarily, and some involve a combination of the two.” Even though prior rulings such as the impeachment newspaper advertisement were narrowly construed as outside of the scope of FECA, the law’s expenditure limits were found generally to be "suppressing communication." The Court said,

A restriction on the amount of money a person or group can spend on political communication during a campaign necessarily reduces the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration, and the size of the audience reached. This is because virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money. The distribution of the humblest handbill or leaflet entails printing, paper, and circulation costs. Speeches and rallies generally necessitate hiring a hall and publicizing the event. The electorate's increasing dependence on television, radio, and other mass media for news and information has made these expensive modes of communication indispensable instruments of effective political speech.

Buckley provides the template for today’s campaign finance regime; where contribution limits are acceptable, while independent expenditure proscriptions, imposed on certain groups and individuals, are not. The ruling also protects other aspects of our current campaign financing law. Buckley upheld FECA’s provisions such as the public financing of campaigns, direct campaign contribution limits and campaign financial disclosure. Buckley invalidated how FEC members were appointed, however, the legislative fix that preserves the separation of power stands to this day in the form of the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The decision also invoked First Amendment free speech rights by establishing that there should be no constraints on self-financing candidates—for, how can a candidate corrupt themselves?

The Court addressed independent expenditures with issue advertisements “that in express terms advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for federal office”. FECA’s $1000 expenditure limit on communications not containing “express words of advocacy [magic words] of election or defeat, such as ‘vote for,’ ‘elect,’ ‘support,’ ‘cast your ballot for,’ ‘Smith for Congress,’ ‘vote against,’ ‘defeat,’ ‘reject’” was declared a violation of free speech rights. Independent expenditures are just that, uncoordinated and not connected to a campaign. Therefore, the Court said corruption is seemingly impossible, “The absence of prearrangement and coordination of an expenditure with the candidate or his agent . . . alleviates the danger that expenditures will be given as a quid pro quo for improper commitments from the candidate.” The lack of the “magic words” of express advocacy can move a political message—along with the groups who espouse them—through the walls of direct contribution limits. The resulting ghost-like creature is the Political Action Committee (PAC) resulting in the soft money / hard money dynamic; which defines how and where finances are allocated in today’s elections.

Hard money is a campaign contribution given directly to a candidate’s campaign. Contributions must be made with funds that are subject to the FECA’s disclosure requirements and amount limitations. The current contribution limitation to a candidate is $2,700. Soft money is the funding of an issue advertisement that does not contain express words of advocacy of election or defeat. There are no contribution limits to this kind of communication. The effect of this is hard money limits are avoided with communications that resemble advocacy, however, lacking the express or “magic words”, technically are not coordinated with a campaign. The soft money dynamic is a giant loophole that FECA and its amendments has tried to contain. Despite Buckley’s position on allowing independent campaign expenditures, a state took aim at this loophole. Once again, newspaper advertisements were caught in the First Amendment issues arising from expenditure prohibitions.

Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) was a challenge to the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. The Court ruled, six to three, that Michigan could prohibit corporations—other than media companies—from using treasury funds with independent expenditures in campaigns[ix]. The Act, however, did still allow corporations to use segregated funds for the purpose of electioneering. The Chamber, from within its treasury funds, wanted to run a political advertisement in a newspaper in favor of a candidate for state office. The group wanted to enjoin the statute as unconstitutional, but SCOTUS overturned an Appeals Court decision and let the Michigan law stand. The majority in SCOTUS said the expenditure limit did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment by singling out certain corporations because, “the State's decision to regulate only corporations is precisely tailored to serve the compelling state interest of eliminating from the political process the corrosive effect of political ‘war chests’ amassed with the aid of the legal advantages given to corporations[x].”

The Chamber cited Massachusetts Citizens for Life—a 1986 SCOTUS ruling regarding corporate expenditures[xi]. In this case, a group / corporation opposed to abortion was allowed to electioneer because of its “narrow focus”. The Citizens for Life were not a business group, rather, they held the sole purpose of expressing a single political opinion. The Chamber, on the other hand, was made up of businesses, who had an economic incentive to be part of this economic advocacy group. The crucial point with upholding the Michigan expenditure limit is the economic advocacy group could be a way for these business interests to circumvent the individual contribution limits of Buckley. The Court frowned on how the Chamber could be a convenient soft-money conduit.

Despite FECA and its amendments, along with various court rulings—campaign finance laws could still not contain spending. For example, during the 1996 presidential election, the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton became embroiled in controversy regarding foreign contributions. As a result, in 2002 the FEC imposed a record-setting $719,000 in fines against the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton-Gore campaign, a group known as The Buddhist Temple and nearly two dozen people and corporations acting as conduits for illegal contributions[xii]. Amidst this scandal, and the fact that the Republican and Democratic parties had each raised and spent $500 million between 1998 and 2000[xiii], Congress was ready to act on campaign finance reform again.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), offered a series of amendments to FECA and has been referred to as “the most significant change in federal campaign finance law since the early 1970s[xiv]” As a result of Austin, which upheld expenditure prohibitions—even after Buckley—the BCRA contained limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions. §441b. said, in part, it was, “unlawful for any national bank, or any corporation organized by authority of any law of Congress, to make a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election to any political office”. These limits were within a certain timeframe preceding federal primary and general elections. This means electioneering communications, including newspaper ads, were off limits for certain groups during the election season. The BCRA was sued immediately, with Senator Mitch McConnell leading the plaintiffs; which included the ACLU who called the new law, “a double-barreled attack on political freedom in America[xv].”

With this challenge, SCOTUS once again ruled on campaign finance reform laws in 2003. McConnell v. F.E.C[xvi] was a long opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Paul Stevens for the majority. This opinion gives a comprehensive history of campaign finance legislation. They recall the T. Roosevelt administration and the Tillman Act of 1907. They mention other campaign finance legislation such as the Hatch Act passed shortly after World War II. Of course, FECA looms large in McConnell, with the reform spirit of that 1972 legislation setting the tone of this jurisprudence.

The McConnell majority were uneasy about the rigid quid pro quo standard of corruption with campaign financing established in Buckley. This legal term means that there is an exchange for money between the contributor and the office seeker only for the purpose of buying a favor. In essence, the contribution is a bribe. The McConnell majority provide a nuanced view, citing undue influence with campaign contributions[xvii]. They said the quid pro quo standard is too narrow, reasoning that substantial donations gain access or ingratiate high-level government officials; hence the influence. The majority then lament how soft-money loopholes in the system funnel ever increasing amounts of money, “Of the two major parties total spending, soft money accounted for 5% ($21.6 million) in 1984, 11% ($45 million) in 1988, 16% ($80 million) in 1992, 30% ($272 million) in 1996, and 42% ($498 million) in 2000” [xviii]. Their frustration is that money in elections was ballooning regardless of 30 years of FECA. Considering the incessant growth of money in politics, and concerns over influence it tends to garner in elections, an alarmed SCOTUS majority did not have the heart to overturn the 2002 BCRA expenditure prohibitions.

The McConnell majority said that express advocacy and the loopholes of, “the presence or absence of magic words cannot meaningfully distinguish electioneering speech from a true issue ad”[xix]. This is the key to their ruling upholding expenditure prohibitions. Advertisers could easily evade express advocacy restrictions. This evasion made attempts at reform “a pile of legal rubble”[xx]. They add the soft-money loophole has “destroyed our campaign finance laws.” Therefore, the BCRA independent expenditure prohibitions close off these soft-money conduits.

The McConnell majority opinion is essentially a lecture on how campaign finance regulation is in the public interest. The opinion reads like the Court throwing up their arms frustrated, urging that something needed to be done. It is like they were saying that if the cost of trying to contain growing campaign spending—and the undue influence it can buy—is at the expense of some First Amendment free speech protections, then so be it. The cost of this decision would soon appear.

The 2004 election was a year into the United States’ Operation Enduring Freedom. This invasion and occupation of Iraq was a reaction to the devastating September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington DC, New York City and in the air in Pennsylvania. Filmmaker Michael Moore released a film critical of the George W. Bush administration’s Iraq war policies. Fahrenheit 911 was reviewed by the Times who said, “it is not a fair and nuanced picture of the president and his policies”[xxi]. The reviewer also called the film “partisan”. George H.W. Bush, the ex-president and father of the subject of the film called Fahrenheit a “vicious attack” on his son[xxii]. Released in June, the documentary was caught in the middle of presidential election year politics—and BCRA expenditure prohibition periods. The nature of the film was not lost on other partisans and a formal complaint was made to the FEC.

Dale A. Clausnitzer alleged Fahrenheit 9/11 constituted an independent expenditure by Mr. Moore’s corporation Dog Eat Dog Films because the film expressly advocated the defeat of President Bush[xxiii]. The FEC disagreed and determined, “the film, associated trailers and website represented bona fide commercial activity, not ‘contributions’ or ‘expenditures’ as defined by the Federal Election Campaign Act”. Mr. Moore’s film was essentially ruled as entertainment by the FEC—even though it was a partisan attack in the middle of an election year. It is very plain Mr. Moore’s production company had a similar partisan intention as the The National Committee for Impeachment did in 1972, however, what was different is how communication technology had progressed significantly in the 40 years since that election season.

Mr. Clausnitzer’s complaint noted that a partisan site, ReDefeatBush.com, provided a link to Michaelmoore.com; a corporate asset of Moore’s production company, which also provides political advocacy[xxiv]. The complaint mentioned a link to MoveOn.com and MoveOn PAC, another Democratic / left-wing advocacy group. In other words, there appeared to be coordination, through new technologies, to target the incumbent president. Like the group seeking Nixon’s impeachment, Moore’s political statement survived electioneering complaints rooted in expenditure prohibitions. This is a victory for free speech, however, the tensions with these expenditure bans and the First Amendment would hardly go away.

In 2008, there was an open seat for the office of president. Former First Lady and United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) was caught in a tough fight for the Democratic party nomination. Long a foe of right-wing partisans, this prominent political figure was a major target. In 2007, a right-wing advocacy group called Citizens United made their own documentary with Sen. Clinton as the subject. Like Moore’s film, Hillary: The Movie (Hillary) is an attack on a candidate for president. Citizens United was prepared to give a pay-per-view cable company $1.2 million to make Hillary available on a channel called “Elections ‘08”[xxv]. This way, the film was available to cable viewers free of charge. The proposal also included airing 30 second advertisements promoting the work. SCOTUS, in their Citizens United v. FEC ruling, called these advertisements “pejorative” towards Sen. Clinton[xxvi].

Citizens United filed a complaint in District Court in December of 2007 requesting that the Court prevent the FEC from enforcing electioneering communications provisions. The group also asked that the disclosure at the end of the advertisements for the film be declared unconstitutional[xxvii]. The Court denied both of these requests and the case was appealed.

On January 21, 2010, SCOTUS issued its ruling with Citizens United v. FEC, on the grounds expenditure prohibitions violated First Amendment protections, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech”[xxviii] The notion of “corporate personhood”—a term not used in the opinion—was referenced. The majority said even though, “state law grants corporations special advantages—such as limited liability, perpetual life, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets. This does not suffice to allow laws prohibiting speech.”[xxix] The Court rejected the undue influence standard found in McConnell as being “unbounded”[xxx] reasoning, “The fact that speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that these officials are corrupt”[xxxi]. The clear quid pro quo standard was therefore restored. 

There were conflicting legal precedents regarding expenditures, so the court could choose which course of law to follow. The narrowly tailored public interest cited in Austin was overruled. Citizens United instead cited Buckley; rejecting any government interest “in equalizing the relative ability of individuals and groups to influence the outcome of elections.”[xxxii]

Citizens United did not repeal direct hard-money contribution prohibitions to campaigns from corporations or unions; “For example, the owner of an incorporated mom and pop grocery store is not permitted to use a business account to make [direct] contributions.”[xxxiii]  Like Buckley, Citizens United did not touch the laws on direct contribution limits to campaigns.

The Citizens United majority also identified another way the expenditure prohibition was producing lopsided results. “In the 2004 election cycle, a mere 24 individuals contributed an astounding total of $142 million to [soft-money advocacy groups], yet certain disfavored associations of citizens—those that have taken on the corporate form—are penalized for engaging in the same political speech.”[xxxiv]

The Court did reject Citizens United’s plea to strike down disclosure laws by adhering to “public interest” reasoning. As in Buckley, the ruling said disclosure of campaign finances pass Constitutional muster to, “insure that the voters are fully informed about the person or group who is speaking”.[xxxv] On the heels of this notorious case, in another opinion, more campaign finance regulations were struck down.

On April 2, 2014, SCOTUS decided McCutcheon v. FEC. With this case, the same Citizens United majority overturned aggregate contribution limits to campaigns. While the individual limit on hard-money to a candidate still stands at $2,700, the limit of $48,600 in total individual contributions, every two years, among all federal candidates was struck down as an infringement of First Amendment rights. The Court argued that once the aggregate limit was reached, how does that extra contribution above it constitute quid pro quo corruption? Again, the Court stressed, “The hallmark of corruption is the financial quid pro quo: dollars for political favors.”[xxxvi]

Conclusion

The catchphrases of Citizens United “turning corporations into people” or making “money speech” loom large in the minds of many. Their grip on the reactionary psyche is a powerful rhetorical opportunity for politicians, non-profits and others dependent on political fundraising. The BCRA effectively turned the FEC into a state censorship board. As described above, filmmaker Michael Moore’s production company Dog Eat Dog Films had to stand in front of a state agency to get permission to show his documentary during an election season. Same with the group Citizens United.

The best one can do to serve democracy is to understand and study issues. Don’t believe the hype about Citizens United. It was a good ruling that protected the right of people to hear information without the government picking and choosing who could speak.

Correction, the 2003 US invasion of Iraq is "Operation Enduring Freedom" and not "Desert Storm". The article now reads as corrected. (Tip of the hat to pure_mercury for the catch)

NOTES:


[i]   Nixon Expected to Sign '71 Campaign Funding Act Tomorrow Ben A. Franklin; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times pg. 20, Feb 6, 1972
[ii] Federal Election Campaign Act 'Censorship' Aryeh Neier,
New York Times Dec 9, 1972; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: pg. 34
[iii] United States v. National Committee for Impeachment, 469 F.2d 1135 (2d Cir. 1972).
 
[iv] New York Times Dec 9, 1972; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: pg. 34
 United States v. National Committee for Impeachment, 469 F.2d 1135 (2d Cir. 1972).
[vi]PUBLIC LAW 93-443-OCT. 15, 1974 https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/93/s3044/text
[vii]   https://bulk.resource.org/gao.gov/93-443/00007D7A.pdf
[viii]  Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 96 S. Ct. 612, 46 L. Ed. 2d 659 (1976).
[ix] Nowak, J.E., Rotunda, R.D., (1991) Constitutional Law Fourth Edition, West Publishing Company p. 1121
[x] Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652, 110 S. Ct. 1391, 108 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1990) at 1401
[xi] Federal Election Comm'n v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Inc., 479 U.S. 238, 107 S. Ct. 616, 93 L. Ed. 2d 539 (1986)
[xii] 1996 Fund-Raising Scandals Bring Stiff Penalty, Sep 21, 2002, The Washington Post
[xiii] Baran, J. W. (2001). Regulating Money in Politics: We've Got It All under Control. Cumb. L. Rev., 32, 591.
[xiv] Briffault, R, (2002) The Future of Reform: Campaign Finance After the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 Arizona State Law Journal 34 Ariz. St. L.J. 1179
[xv] https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-statement-campaign-finance-reform
[xvi]  McConnell v. Federal Election Comm'n, 540 U.S. 93, 124 S. Ct. 619, 157 L. Ed. 2d 491 (2003).
[xvii] Ibid p. 41
[xviii] Ibid p. 13
[xix] Ibid p. 86
[xx] Ibid p. 19
[xxi] Scott, A.O., New York Times , June 23, 2004 http://movies2.nytimes.com/2004/06/23/movies/23FAHR.html
[xxii] Susman G. (2004) Former President Blasts Michael Moore Entertainment Weekly June, 1 http://www.ew.com/article/2004/06/01/former-president-bush-blasts-michael-moore
[xxiii]  Federal Election Commission August 9, 2005, http://www.fec.gov/press/press2005/20050809mur.htm
[xxiv] http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/000045DF.pdf
[xxv] Citizens United v. Federal Election Com'n, 130 S. Ct. 876, 558 U.S. 310, 175 L. Ed. 2d 753 (2010)
[xxvi] Ibid at xxiv p. 3
[xxvii] http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation_CCA_C.shtml
[xxviii] Ibid at xxiv p. 33
[xxix] Ibid p. 35
[xxx] Ibid p. 44
[xxxi] Ibid p. 43
[xxxii] Ibid p. 34
[xxxiii]  http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/citizens.shtml#prohibited
[xxxiv]  Ibid at xxiv p. 40
[xxxv] Ibid p. 53
[xxxvi] McCutcheon v. Federal Election Com'n, 134 S. Ct. 1434, 572 U.S., 188 L. Ed. 2d 468 (2014). P. 3

80 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Dear Jen, Thanks for reading. I have read through all of those links any many others for quite a while now. I don't buy those arguments. Corporations are groups of people. Groups ought to have rights. My next post, which will be up soon speaks to this.

      The point of my article is the FEC was turned into a state censorship board. This fact should be unsettling. Moore's corporation had to stand in front of a governmental agency to get approval to show a film.

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    2. They individuals in a group already have rights as individuals, why should they have extra, or separate rights as a group? Besides they aren't making decisions based on every member of that group, but probably, based on ultimately the decision on the leader, after consulting the main investors.

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    3. There are no "extra, or separate rights as a group." Merely, the same in the aggregate as individually.

      Delete
    4. Krist, Is the ruling good just because it prevents possible censorship, or do you agree with all aspects of CU? It caused a lot of outrage, from a wide range of people so I have trouble believing that they were all wrong. Aside from you, many of the people happy about this decision are not people I would trust with campaign fairness. When politicians want to harass someone, they often try to manipulate existing laws. Are campaign finance laws definite ways to censor something? or just legal cover for harassment? If politicians tried to censor many things, it would create a police-state environment that would cause all sorts of backlash, even from the captive press; though their new thing is to simply not report stories. Does focusing on a possible misuse of these laws, neglects te main problems of the CU ruling, that are causing so much outrage.

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  2. Hi Krist. I think you need to go back further in your research because you are misunderstanding what people are talking about when they say 'corporations are people' - it was not a result of the Citizens United ruling. That was merely the most recent of many dozens of illegitimate SCOTUS rulings dating back to the 1800's, where corporations have manipulated our legal system to gain rights intended solely for humans. For instance, the 14th amendment, which was intended to grant legal personhood to black men, has been way more often used by corporations to gain 'equal protection' and destroy black communities by circumventing local ordinances - ironic, right? I understand that you weren't trying to 'propagate these useless catchphrases' in this piece, but it does sound like you should better understand the underpinnings of the concept of corporate personhood, because you are propagating misunderstanding.

    Move to Amend's actual analysis on corporate personhood:

    https://movetoamend.org/why-abolish-all-corporate-constitutional-rights

    Corporate personhood timeline:

    https://movetoamend.org/sites/default/files/timeline_hmprint.pdf

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    1. Dear Jen, Just because you and others say SCOTUS rulings are illegitimate, does not mean they are.

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    2. Hi Krist. Yes, I'm aware that there are different positions on the issue (and I wonder how many people would change their opinion on the legitimacy of Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad decision if a coal company wanted to invoke the 14th amendment to build a plant abutting their backyard). But the larger point I was trying to make is that in this piece, you are demonstrating a lack of clarity on what is meant by corporate personhood. I hope you do read the resources I sent, in the spirit of 'understanding and studying issues.' Thanks!

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    3. Dear Jen, My follow up piece will speak to these issues. Thanks for posting!

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    4. This in-depth study discusses the amendment angle and several other issues around CU. I think it shows amendment to be a diversion and a waste of time.

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/23/five-years-of-citizens-united/

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    5. Free speech is not really the issue facing America. Inequality through Undue Influence [if not Corruption] is the issue. The Congress and the state legislatures simply won't listen to your "free speech" unless you or your PAC made a significant donation. Buying influence its called, and it's not "corruption" until the prosecution has proven the deal based on the record or otherwise shown it to be a quid pro quo, see, e.g., the recent Virginia SCt acquittal of indicted Gov. Bob McDonnell.

      It's obvious why the Beltway lobbyists and PACs and SCt nonetheless talk about "free speech" and disregarded "equality". They know the Constitution guarentees equality and everyone knows PAC money and the wealthy with their enormous "donations" under the mantle now of "fee speech" undercuts that.

      Now according to the current SCt a rich man, PAC or a corporation can use its almost unlimited money if not to corrupt [ie, in a quid pro quo], tip the scales of democracy to manage and influence Congressmen; that's inequality [if not corruption], now sanctified and shielded by the current SCt as "free speech". One need not parse the tortured logic of the SCT cases to see that Citizens United is grossly inconsistent with representative democracy.

      As Prof. Lepore wrote in the New Yorker, "In 1976, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, which challenged the constitutionality of the 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act; the decision marked the beginning of the era of constitutional interpretation that resulted, this year, in McCutcheon v. F.E.C. “A line of cases this misguided about matters of such fundamental importance to American politics is a frightful thing,” Robert Post, the dean of Yale Law School, writes in his new book, “Citizens Divided.” See http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/25/crooked-dead

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    6. Dear Robert,

      Indeed, our democracy is out-of-whack. I have been advocating for years for ways to open up our elections. I am not convinced that censorship will be the way to bring balance and inclusion to our elections. Adding more barriers to a system that is already boarded up is not the solution. I encourage you to look at decades of anti-party laws and winner-take-all elections, where you could recognize rules that are contributing to the malaise we are experiencing.

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    7. I don't know how someone can look at America and write, "Free speech is not really the issue. . . ."

      You're conflating free speech with speech being listened to and acted upon. You do NOT have a right to have people listen to you and take you seriously. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that everyone has or should have the same influence on society.

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  3. Well written article and kept my attention and opened my eyes on what this is all about, thanks Krist.

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  4. Well written article and kept my attention and opened my eyes on what this is all about, thanks Krist.

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  5. Thanks offering a different view to a complex issue. I always thought Citizens United was a bad ruling. I never once thought of the censorship angle, never even occurred to me. Proves that the lame stream media just paints a false narrative. Keep blogging and getting the message out.

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  6. Good reexamination of the roots of Citizens United. I remember reading about it when Zappa, Woody Harrelson and even Donny Osmond and myself fought Tipper and Jan Brewer on censorship in Phoenix in late 80s
    You bring a good argument.

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  7. Good reexamination of the roots of Citizens United. I remember reading about it when Zappa, Woody Harrelson and even Donny Osmond and myself fought Tipper and Jan Brewer on censorship in Phoenix in late 80s
    You bring a good argument.

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  8. Very interesting and well-researched and I think this makes a good point in general; it certainly took me past the catchphrases that I was hung up on. In the current system, the two major parties can raise equally enormous amounts of money, but wasn't the attack on Citizens United coming from the Democratic Party? Is this because corporations and a majority of the rich prefer to vote Republican, if not faced with a threatening Republican nominee? So, is the fear of Citizens really just a fear that the Democratic party will lose out in fundraising?

    A truly difficult problem is how to achieve equity in fundraising, for third parties. These things are considered "un-American," since they're viewed as the government acting as a mediator in elections. The argument of people with money is that they have the right to spend it on anything they wish, and that people without money who want to run for office should not be given handouts from the government to do it. Also, where would the limits be? Would the U.S. Nazi party be as eligible as the Greens?

    Regarding censorship, the cases mentioned were singled out as a form of political harassment, trying to manipulate laws in extraordinary legalistic ways, and this happens all the time in all sorts of cases. Those films were aimed at larger audiences, and were tame in comparison to many on youtube about the same general issues. It's the age-old political harassment that verges on censorship; but if some political entity was actually trying to prohibit it, the argument would quickly leave the murky, legalistic realm of campaign financing and enter into the realm of pure censorship, suppression, free speech etc. - something that people can relate to much easier.

    The Bushies tried to harass lots of people: Dixie Chicks, Bill Maar, come to mind and that had nothing to do with campaign finance. I think that political harassment uses any and all means to intimidate and if it can cloak it in legalistic cover, that's better. Look at Obummer's massive attack on whistleblowers, covered by manipulating espionage laws. In other words, it's a cheap legalistic trick that once dragged into the light, becomes obvious in its intent to harass and intimidate. The same with trying to use campaign finance laws to harass. I realize my response isn't technical or legal but I hope I'm contributing something to the discussion.

    The true problem with censorship is self-censorship, or what I call the propaganda of omission: they just ignore obvious facets and issues; i.e. neo-Nazis in Ukraine, Turkish, Gulf states and western support for ISIS as proxy army to defeat Assad. The list goes on. That's censorship.

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    2. Jeff Crawford (Bohemia Afterdark) here under my wife's blogger(Jennifer Harris Crawford) name. Democrats and Republicans both support unlimited funds from big monies and big corporations.I agree with you about if CU was in the hands of groups of people without large funds to the start up of their organization or non for profit 501 (C) could then use unlimited funding for their political causes. If Citizens United by the Supreme Court is Constitutional, I think that Chief Justice Roberts was using Judicial Restraint in my opinion. Backing this up is the simple answer that groups of citizens of special interests that support national and regional interests are Constitutional. Then the question is... Are the justices in this case acting upon Judicial Activism? or Judicial Restraint?

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  11. Very reasoned take on a complex issue. I commend your deep research into the matter. Only one quibble: the 2003 invasion of Iraq was Operation Iraqi Freedom (carryover from Operation Enduring Freedom), not Desert Storm.

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    1. Thanks for the catch! I fixed it and credit you — Krist

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    2. Slightly off-topic, reading your work and thinking about your general political position reminds me of writer Bill Kaufmann's self-description: "a blend of Catholic Worker, Old Right libertarian, Yorker transcendentalist, and delirious localist." He has also described himself as an "Independent. A Jeffersonian. An anarchist. A (cheerful!) enemy of the state, a reactionary Friend of the Library, a peace-loving football fan." In other words, a classic and uniquely American outlook.

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    1. They're coming for you dude. Maybe you can do some research on Cato's founder Charles Koch, and share it with the "thousands of listeners."

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    3. What is your issue with the Kochs?

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    4. I'm for: much higher minimum wage, free healthcare, longer unemployment insurance, shorter work week, long maternity leave, Wall Street transaction tax, corporate fraud prosecution, closing down tax havens and corporate loopholes and stronger environmental regulation, i.e. glyphospate ban. - A MEGA-Sweden, American style. They think they're so clever when they say, "We're not Sweden!" Always speaking for the entire country, of course. That's the only way to achieve a civil society and a modicum of happiness. We have neither, on the whole, at this time.

      Contrary to what misers like the Koch's say, business will thrive, the economy will boom, but they will lose some personal profit. Even if they lose a lot, the money that has been amassed since Reagan, is only useful in buying power and CONTROL, which is what they do, and why they are pissing themselves with joy over Citizen's United.

      I think Krist was rightly concerned with what he perceived to be censorship, but he focused too narrowly on it, and threw the baby out with the bath water, and perhaps misread that campaign finance laws are de facto censorship laws, rather than potential vehicles for political harassment, covered in quasi-legal motive. Now, the insect feelers of the far-right, masked as "Libertarians," have sucked on to this term paper of his, and want to try to somehow appropriate him as on their side, which is what they do. Then they will smirk at all of the rock and roll losers who are stuck in the 60s and in anarchist punk days, or even just looking for some decency and fairness.

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    5. Well, first of all, there is no such thing as economically "free" anything, except sunshine and air. Secondly, you are on the same side of the issues of tax havens and corporate tax loopholes as the Kochs, so I don't understand what you are getting at.

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390443847404577629841476562610

      As to your calling the Kochs "misers," you might want to rethink that position. They are two of the biggest philanthropists in the world, and they pay their employees above-market average wages. There simply is no basis for your assertions.

      "They think they're so clever when they say, 'We're not Sweden! Always speaking for the entire country, of course. That's the only way to achieve a civil society and a modicum of happiness. We have neither, on the whole, at this time."

      I don't even know what you are getting at here. The United States is not Sweden, and it doesn't matter what people's political opinions are; that is simply fact. You need to explain this chunk in more detail, because it reads as word salad.

      "I think Krist was rightly concerned with what he perceived to be censorship, but he focused too narrowly on it, and threw the baby out with the bath water, and perhaps misread that campaign finance laws are de facto censorship laws, rather than potential vehicles for political harassment, covered in quasi-legal motive."

      Well, a Republican federal government went after Citizens United for airing an anti-Hillary Clinton documentary, so I think your assessment is way off base. This is quite obviously a censorship issue, not simply a slippery slope to political harassment. The issue is the government having the power to prevent communication it doesn't like, not who is in government and their particular motivations. As P.J. O'Rourke once put it, "giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

      Finally, Mr. Novoselic has endorsed Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson. It is not in anyway "appropriation" to consider him an ally, if not a libertarian per se.

      http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/krist-novoselic-nirvana-gary-johnson-223741

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    6. You know what free healthcare means so need to get clever about the term; it means people pay for it with taxes. It means a government administered service. Of course, taxes are proportional, not flat, so the rich will pay more and Wall Street transactions can pay a lot. Not to mention cutting back on the obscene military and intel budgets. It's a question of Life Value priorities. Somehow, I suspect the Koch's attack on big government is very intensely related to their potential tax rates in a society that takes care of all of its citizen's basic needs.

      Philanthropy is not an excuse, especially if the type of philanthropic venture is examined. Also, it's a tax write-off. As far as them being in favor of closing tax havens etc. It's one thing to talk, and another to see what shakes out once these laws are enacted; it would take an army of forensic accountants and investigators; but of course that would never happen because Koch politicians would never hire them, so as not to increase government. That mantra is the gift that keeps on giving.

      Just because Republicans used the law to equally harass doesn't make my point "off-base." Unless you or Krist or anyone else can prove that CU is a de facto censorship law, then my point about harassment is more valid than the accusation about censorship. Besides, some language can added to campaign finance laws that would clear up the potential censorship problems, without demolishing the whole idea of campaign finance reform. Claiming that campaign reform laws are censorship laws, is just using censorship as a wedge issue to rationalize the defeat of campaign finance reform.

      The ruling caused a lot of outrage from people I would trust a hell of lot more to be concerned about campaign fairness than the Kochs, who set up all sorts of false fronts to create astroturf movements, and flood the scene with drone candidates, bought and paid for by them.

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    7. "You know what free healthcare means so need to get clever about the term; it means people pay for it with taxes. It means a government administered service."

      If people pay for something, it isn't free. You're the one getting cute with the terms.

      "Of course, taxes are proportional, not flat, so the rich will pay more and Wall Street transactions can pay a lot."

      Income taxation is progressive, not proportional. A flat tax WOULD be proportional; i.e., someone making $10,000 would pay $1,000, while someone paying $10,000,000 would pay $1,000,000.

      "Not to mention cutting back on the obscene military and intel budgets."

      So you again agree with the Kochs, who actually want to cut the military budget, as opposed to Washington Democrats and Republicans, ? You are arguing against yourself A LOT.

      "It's a question of Life Value priorities. Somehow, I suspect the Koch's attack on big government is very intensely related to their potential tax rates in a society that takes care of all of its citizen's basic needs."

      Somehow, I suspect you are talking out of your rear end. You quite obviously know nothing about the Kochs and their motivations. They've been singing the same tune for 40 years, through many different congresses, administrations, tax rates, etc. You also are making a fatal conflation error; society =/= government.

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    8. "Philanthropy is not an excuse, especially if the type of philanthropic venture is examined."

      First of all, an "excuse" for what? Secondly, which ventures are those? The ballet? Sports arenas? Marriage equality? Historically black colleges and universities? Latino small business owners?

      "Also, it's a tax write-off. As far as them being in favor of closing tax havens etc. It's one thing to talk, and another to see what shakes out once these laws are enacted; it would take an army of forensic accountants and investigators;"

      You clearly have no idea how charitable deductions work. You don't get to write off the total amount on your return. You write off what the tax burden would be. They would end up with more money in their bank accounts if they never donated a dime and just paid their 39.6% income tax rate each year. As to the last part: an army of forensic accountants and investigators to do what?

      "but of course that would never happen because Koch politicians would never hire them, so as not to increase government. That mantra is the gift that keeps on giving."

      Again, word salad. Not even close to a coherent argument here.

      "Just because Republicans used the law to equally harass doesn't make my point "off-base." Unless you or Krist or anyone else can prove that CU is a de facto censorship law, then my point about harassment is more valid than the accusation about censorship. Besides, some language can added to campaign finance laws that would clear up the potential censorship problems, without demolishing the whole idea of campaign finance reform. Claiming that campaign reform laws are censorship laws, is just using censorship as a wedge issue to rationalize the defeat of campaign finance reform."

      Actually, it does. It's proof positive that government inherently has a tendency to chill political speech when it has the power to do so. What more proof do you need than the facts of that case? A group wanted to show a political documentary on TV, and the government prevented them. That is the DEFINITION of censorship. That is not "rationalization." What you are doing is; i.e., ignoring reality because you have a goal of "reform" in mind. You have decided that you hate private money being spent to effect political change so much that you are OK with dangerous legislation that ALREADY HAS censored speech. That is an absurd and, frankly, unsettling position to take.

      "The ruling caused a lot of outrage from people I would trust a hell of lot more to be concerned about campaign fairness than the Kochs, who set up all sorts of false fronts to create astroturf movements, and flood the scene with drone candidates, bought and paid for by them."

      It's good to see you admit that you don't really base your opinions on facts, but, rather, your biases. Not everyone is so upfront about being a hack.

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    9. My story offers plenty of evidence that independent campaign expenditure prohibitions result in censorship. Also read the comment by the good Mr. Clausnitzer—who is cited in my article. It is clear he wanted to nail Moore on how Fahrenheit 911 was part of a coordinated effort to attack a political candidate. Clausnitzer’s comments seem to express disappointment that the FEC did not censor an independent campaign expenditure masquerading as a film.

      My article is neither for or against the popular political narrative J Glad is expressing. It is just about how a law turned an agency into a state censorship board.

      The lesson here is that policies have consequences.

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    10. Even though the FEC approved Moore's film, the fact that this was the determination of a state agency still makes it censorship. That's why I use the term State Censorship Board. It's like we're in the old East Germany (DDR). In Yugoslavia the band Laibach was censored for the inappropriate use of symbols (Nazi). We should have the right to be stupid, and with the free flow of information, we could be held accountable to public opinion for such expressions.

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    11. "You clearly idolize them or work for them or both, or else you're some sort of head case amateur Koch family historian. Respond to these 11 points line-by-line."

      I am a fan of their philanthropy and political activism. I also actually know who they are and what they do, which you do not. If I refute these points, will you concede the discussion and end this thread?

      "And finally, Here's Johnny...'Can you see the little piggies with their piggy wives?'"

      "Piggies" was written by George Harrison. That. Is. Hilarious. You are not big on research, are you? You need to come correct, especially when posting in the comments section belonging to a professional musician.

      http://www.salon.com/2014/05/21/11_things_the_koch_brothers_dont_want_you_to_know_partner/

      Not just Salon, but a reprint from AlterNet? Oh, boy, this is gonna be fun. . .

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    12. I deleted many posts as things were getting out of control.

      People have their biases, then in turn express them as if they are somehow good common sense. Somebody’s light bulb above their head went off, “Hey! Let’s create independent campaign expenditure prohibitions and the issue advocacy loophole will go away”. They never thought it through that this would result in censorship.

      I think these confirmation biases are at the center of partisanship. The political Right and Left, respectively, think they are smarter than each other and that their own common sense is the path forward. However, they forget the soft science of sociology. Policies have consequences—and many are unintended. Nevertheless, confirmation bias is expressed to the extreme now with violence at political rallies, and condescending attitudes. On my blog, let’s just discuss the facts before us with the article and leave the general mayhem of contemporary American politics out of it.

      Thank you. — Krist

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    13. So you censored your blog during a discussion about censorship? I thought we had the right to get out of control? Any discussion of Citizen's United must include the Koch's, how can a discussion be so rigid?

      Here's a response from Gary Johnson in a Rolling Stone article:
      RS:Have you ever met David Koch? I know he has a history with the Libertarian Party.

      GJ:I have not. Of course, he ran as a VP with the Libertarian Party with Ed Clark, but since then the Koch brothers — I mean, I've never talked to them, I wouldn't know them if I saw them, but, as reported, they gave up on the Libertarian Party in lieu of Republicans. Huge. Huge!

      Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/libertarian-nominee-on-the-koch-brothers-and-being-a-trump-alternative-20160520#ixzz4Aokrmde9
      Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

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    14. Politics are mayhem and always were. You have to fight for any advance or else the rich and powerful will do anything they want, more than what they already get away with. Confirmation bias is a phrase that contradicts the nature of political struggle and human nature. Is there never any hope for determining what is real or true, or will it always be just "confirmation bias"?

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    15. "So you censored your blog during a discussion about censorship? I thought we had the right to get out of control? Any discussion of Citizen's United must include the Koch's, how can a discussion be so rigid?"

      Mr. Novoselic can include or remove anything. This blog is his property.

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    16. Let me know Krist, we'd still love to have you.

      Recent Podcast on Citizens United: http://www.cato.org/multimedia/daily-podcast/citizens-united-role-fec

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    17. Wha? No smart answer for the Gary Johnson quote? Nobody woke you up to tell you that your boys aren't Libertarians? Seems to flush all of your prevaricating responses down the old crapper.

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    18. There is a difference between Libertarians (a Libertarian Party member) and libertarians (people who subscribe to certain political tenets), just as there are differences between Democrats and democrats, or Republicans and republicans. Once again, you seem to fail to grasp very simple concepts.

      BTW, I still am chuckling at your "John Lennon" song lyrics. That must have been very embarrassing.

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    21. "The Beatles and rock bands and their songs speak as one."

      No, they don't.

      "It's a Beatles' song, a Beatles' quote. You are a literal-minded old scold."

      I GUARANTEE you are older than I am.

      "John Lennon or George wouldn't give you the time of day. You used John's name in mockery before, now, after your wikipedia search, you come on as some Beatles expert."

      Didn't need Wikipedia for that one. I am a Beatles expert, in fact, and I co-hosted an Internet radio program dedicated to great music from across genres and time periods. I also have The Beatles on vinyl. George songs are credited to Harrison. Pretty obvious. Oh, and George wrote "Taxman" as well, which is one of the great libertarian pop songs of all time. You probably didn't like that one as much, huh?

      "You are a prevaricator."

      Again, learn what a word means before you use it.

      "The head of the Libertarian Party, composed of libertarians I presume,"

      You presume a lot. You should stop doing that. You have presumed yourself into some pretty silly statements. Gary Johnson is not the head of the Libertarian Party. He is the nominee for POTUS, but those aren't the same.

      "exposes the Kochs as Republicans. Now, perhaps they should start their own Libertarian party? or Republican-Libertarians? They are just a false front trying to achieve the same far right agendas with a few minor egghead differences."

      The Kochs are and were libertarians. You simply are wrong on every point. It's time for you stop posting, because this is getting ridiculous, and Mr. Novoselic already deleted your nonsense once. If you want to discuss Citizens United, that's fine, but you don't seem to be interested in learning at all.

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    22. "Let me get this straight: when a private entity censors, you call it 'including and removing,'- so the word is only useful in your anti-government rants? Blogs may be privately 'owned' but they're supposed to be public forums. What happened to all of this wild freedom of speech? The right to be out of control, even stupid, as Krist said about the Nazi band?"

      The First Amendment only applies to government. The public can discuss issues here, but the forum is owned by Mr. Novoselic, and he can decide what he wants to stay and what he wants to go. Not a difficult concept. At this point, I think you are just trolling, so have a nice life.

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    27. Can't you just admit that you had no idea who wrote "Piggies" like an adult would? How many times in a row do you have to be wrong before the light goes on, and you think, "Hey, I really am off-base about a lot of things. Maybe I should shut up until I get my facts and thoughts straight?"

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    28. You've asked me several times to shut up, to stop posting; told me that I need to learn, or am not willing to learn; told me virtually every word I used was wrong and every criticism I made is naive, off-base, not factual etc. All this, while failing to see the tragic irony that in a discussion about freedom and censorship, you revealed through your posts,the soul of a censor, and an authoritarian who KNOWS he's right about everything.

      Insanity will always be the wild card. People come on one way, and after a few bizarre twists, the mask drops. It's a great lesson in political discourse and that's why I say pay close attention to the tone in writing, not just spelling errors or simple honest mistakes, and a lot can be learned from internet blog discussions, about some of the mentalities that are out there.

      My only question was whether or not campaign finance laws were iron-clad ways to censor, or just being used in a distorted legalistic manner to politically harass certain targets, like many other laws are. And whether or not that part could be cleared up without eliminating the laws. I don't think this discussion was about the contribution limits themselves. You called that "incredibly naive."

      Then I mentioned the Koch Machine, and that got your hackles right up. You must be a Koch operative because you defended them with a lot of denials, vitriol, and pretentious factoid-type stuff meant to sound impressive to the untrained ear. Turns out, the head of the Libertarian Party called them Republicans, and that pretty much deflated you. I asked you why the big split? and what the problem with them was with the party? Did they want to control it? Were they really just more far right crony capitalist all along. I think it's a good assumption. So, anyway, "Have you seen the little piggies, with their piggies wives?" I have. I read their posts in blogs too.

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    30. "You've asked me several times to shut up, to stop posting; told me that I need to learn, or am not willing to learn; told me virtually every word I used was wrong and every criticism I made is naive, off-base, not factual etc. All this, while failing to see the tragic irony that in a discussion about freedom and censorship, you revealed through your posts,the soul of a censor, and an authoritarian who KNOWS he's right about everything."

      I HAVE been right about everything. You have been consistently wrong. You should stop posting, because it's pathetic at this point. You should care about your own dignity.

      "Insanity will always be the wild card. People come on one way, and after a few bizarre twists, the mask drops. It's a great lesson in political discourse and that's why I say pay close attention to the tone in writing, not just spelling errors or simple honest mistakes, and a lot can be learned from internet blog discussions, about some of the mentalities that are out there."

      You are the one making statements so false and bizarre as to seem mentally ill, not I. You should learn from your own abject errors.

      "My only question was whether or not campaign finance laws were iron-clad ways to censor, or just being used in a distorted legalistic manner to politically harass certain targets, like many other laws are. And whether or not that part could be cleared up without eliminating the laws. I don't think this discussion was about the contribution limits themselves. You called that 'incredibly naive.'"

      Because the entire discussion was about the law being used to harass people politically. That was not an outlier. THAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW. It was not an abuse; it was the point. A feature, not a bug.

      "Then I mentioned the Koch Machine, and that got your hackles right up. You must be a Koch operative because you defended them with a lot of denials, vitriol, and pretentious factoid-type stuff meant to sound impressive to the untrained ear. Turns out, the head of the Libertarian Party called them Republicans, and that pretty much deflated you. I asked you why the big split? and what the problem with them was with the party? Did they want to control it? Were they really just more far right crony capitalist all along. I think it's a good assumption. So, anyway, "Have you seen the little piggies, with their piggies wives?" I have. I read their posts in blogs too."

      More proof positive that you are a lunatic. I have defended the Kochs with facts, because you are attacking them with falsehoods. Do you not get this yet? You have been wrong about everything. You are wrong AGAIN, because, as I pointed out before, Gary Johnson is NOT the head of the Libertarian Party, and there is a difference between a Libertarian (member of the LP) and a libertarian (someone who holds libertarian beliefs). The Kochs ARE and have been libertarians. They also are huge philanthropists.

      For your information, the Kochs split with the LP because the actual right-wingers in it (Ron Paul and his crew) and they didn't like each other, and the LP has a horrible history of factionalism. If you knew how to do proper research, you could have found that out. And the Kochs actually are two of our most important ANTI-crony capitalism activists. You have it exactly backward.

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390443847404577629841476562610

      And finally, will you just admit that you had no idea who wrote "Piggies?" Please, you will feel better about yourself if you come clean. This is a depressing display on your part.

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    32. God!! J Glad is being so draining. What a bunch of crap that I might still delete. Anyway, J Glad obviously has a crisis of faith over the facts he read in my story. He admitted that these facts are at odds with the baloney he is being fed by the doctrinaire Left. So as he cannot reconcile, he retreats into political dogma or ridiculous expression. Being ridiculous is OK sometimes, however, this is deeper. J Glad——let go of your idols and make up your own mind. Don't trust anyone.

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    33. "Koch fiends and Koch heads blathering on into the empty night, while their master's voice screams prices into their dirty dreams."

      I think the one who can't back himself up with facts is the one who is parroting a master's voice.

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    34. The lies expressed here about the Kochs, aka The Little Sisters of the Poor, need much more space and time than what a blog offers, so if anyone is reading this who cares to make up their own minds, search: Koch brothers government subsidies. That's a great place to start since it goes to the heart of their disinformation, as exemplified by Pure Mercury. Of course, given the pattern of denials he's shown here, he will say the many articles are all lies, or that the Doctrinaire Left controls the internet. In short, they resort to whining and crying that they're so misunderstood. The thing is though, the image of these guys is now so bad, that nothing can save it, and only lunatic fringe Tea Party employees bother. And the image corresponds to the reality. I think the only idolatry that I've noticed on this blog topic is for the Kochs. So here's a great article to start you off. Krist, you actually believe these guys? There are literally mountains of real facts, not unsubstantiated denials, linking them to deals that contradict everything they claim to stand for. I don't know everything about Ron Paul, but I believe that he was against the many recent wars, wanted to audit and investigate the Federal Reserve and Wall Street fraud, so if the Kochs are against him they must be against that right? or is they just don't like his face?

      http://exiledonline.com/a-people-history-of-koch-industries-part-ii-libertarian-billionaires-charles-and-david-koch-are-closetcase-subsidy-kings-who-milk-big-government-tyranny-but-want-to-slash-spending-on-anyone-else/

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    35. After you've read enough articles about these guys, ask yourself if you trust the things like the Citizens United ruling, that such dishonest brokers so fervently back. There has to be some reason,other than their altruistic concern over the evils of censorship,that make them so in love with the ruling. Can that reason have anything to do with being able to flood their candidates with unlimited, anonymous money? Perish the thought! Besides, what's wrong with that anyway right? That's FREEDOM baby. And if you don't have any money, then you're just shit out of luck. Wow, so that's how complex and refined all this political thinking and Social Science gets? Lots of bloviating that swirls around that reality.

      Krist, you say, "Don't trust anyone." Well, I'll put the Kochs at the top of my list, right along with the Clintons, if that's OK; and if it makes you feel any better, I'll include someone like Jeff St Clair from Counterpunch and Pepe Escobar.

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    36. Have you read this Krist? I won't bother with Pure since he's way too inflexible. I think it goes much deeper and broader than your take on CU, which I do think is a diversion, not a "feature" especially since if the law is a means of harassment, it doesn't work. I don't have a crisis of faith really, but your paper caused me to look a bit deeper. I never trusted those who were for Citizens United, but I didn't trust the Democrat's opposition to it. I did instinctively know the issue was deeper. I am not a doctrinaire Lefty.

      Though I don't think Counterpunch's editor has anything very interesting to say, there are good articles on it, and this long in-depth study of Citizen's United, Buckley vs Valeo and several other factors around this issue is very much worth reading, as it addresses much of the catchphrases and hype that you are troubled about, though I he comes to a different conclusion, overall, than you.

      I know that blog-restricted posts amount to essentially nothing when discussing issues like this,if they're not backed up with more intensive studies and so they are draining by nature and I'm sorry I didn't just defer to writers who really know their subject. Krist has done this with his initial paper, but no one should have to listen to the opinions of me or Pure unless they are leading to more serious studies, and anyone interested, should follow through.

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/23/five-years-of-citizens-united/

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    37. I've deleted several posts that don't refer to the topic, I hope Pure will do the same. I think the Kochs are a major element to any discussion of CU etc. And of all my posts here, the one with the Counterpunch article by the public interest litigator Rob Hager, is the one I feel most contributes to the discussion; certainly not anything I have to say, that doesn't go beyond a generalized opinion and certainly not anything Pure has said to counter my opinions. I feel that a simple search about the Kochs and government subsidies, corporate welfare, puts the lie to all of Pure's responses about the Kochs and people like them, who I firmly believe are are anti-democratic and disastrous to a good economy and a healthy society in all aspects.

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    38. "The lies expressed here about the Kochs, aka The Little Sisters of the Poor, need much more space and time than what a blog offers, so if anyone is reading this who cares to make up their own minds, search: Koch brothers government subsidies. That's a great place to start since it goes to the heart of their disinformation, as exemplified by Pure Mercury. Of course, given the pattern of denials he's shown here, he will say the many articles are all lies, or that the Doctrinaire Left controls the internet. In short, they resort to whining and crying that they're so misunderstood. The thing is though, the image of these guys is now so bad, that nothing can save it, and only lunatic fringe Tea Party employees bother. And the image corresponds to the reality. I think the only idolatry that I've noticed on this blog topic is for the Kochs. So here's a great article to start you off. Krist, you actually believe these guys? There are literally mountains of real facts, not unsubstantiated denials, linking them to deals that contradict everything they claim to stand for. I don't know everything about Ron Paul, but I believe that he was against the many recent wars, wanted to audit and investigate the Federal Reserve and Wall Street fraud, so if the Kochs are against him they must be against that right? or is they just don't like his face?"

      More nonsense. I already provided you with a primary source in which a Koch himself expresses his opposition to subsidies. And, if you actually had bothered to do research into the topic, you would see that KI has taken tax breaks and abatements, not money out of your and my pocket. Many mainstream economists still consider those "subsidies" because they believe the government is getting less than it would normally (quite revealing in itself), even though it's actually their company keeping more of its own money. I love how you believe Google results, not even clicking through, somehow are proof of anything. Pure idiocy.

      http://exiledonline.com/a-people-history-of-koch-industries-part-ii-libertarian-billionaires-charles-and-david-koch-are-closetcase-subsidy-kings-who-milk-big-government-tyranny-but-want-to-slash-spending-on-anyone-else/

      Exiled? You might as well just make up a source. That site is run by two lunatics who were so extreme that even AlterNet banned them. Mark Ames also made up Reason having a "Holocaust Denial Issue" specifically funded by the Kochs. Oh, and he might have admitted to raping a woman in Russia, but it may have been "artistic license." You couldn't pick a bigger creep/wingnut to cite.

      Delete
    39. What about the Counterpunch article by Rob Hager? You seem to know the personal history of every blogger and of course everything you don't accept is "extreme." Slurs and slanders are standard practice, like the Assange rape charge. Of course, there are just as many against the Kochs but I haven't mentioned the really low stuff like you. I would need proof that what they wrote was false, not sleazy references about them. I would also need proof about that. I picked that exile thing, but there are many articles like that.

      You expect us to believe "A Koch himself." Talk about pure idiocy. So now whatever the subject of an accusation says is the guiding principle? You have some very distorted ethics. What you do amounts to simple denial of any accusation. You put up some Wall Street journal links, but many people view mainstream sources like that with suspicion, just look at the cheerleading for the wars. We're the only ones talking about this so nobody must be reading but as I said before, batting it around on a blog amounts to nothing but opinion. Any discussion about the Koch's business practices and policies is a subject for scholars with legal backgrounds and must be presented in a detailed format, certainly not some anonymous guy who calls himself pure mercury. Many people have looked into what these guys do, with their network of think tanks and groups. It seems to me that all this libertarian stuff amounts to is anger over taxes - that is it's main rationale. And that is just mainly very rich people wanting to keep more money since they're the highest taxed, but of course it has its appeal to other income levels. They target the things that government uses tax money for, but only selective things. They pay lip service to defense cuts but the main targets are programs for the poor, since they are easy victims and it plays well to blue collar workers who hate the idea that some people get medicaid and food stamps. It's all extremely cynical and subversive, and you're not fooling anyone with your denials.

      Delete
    40. "What about the Counterpunch article by Rob Hager? You seem to know the personal history of every blogger and of course everything you don't accept is 'extreme.' Slurs and slanders are standard practice, like the Assange rape charge. Of course, there are just as many against the Kochs but I haven't mentioned the really low stuff like you. I would need proof that what they wrote was false, not sleazy references about them. I would also need proof about that. I picked that exile thing, but there are many articles like that."

      The Kochs don't have any rumors about them like that, actually. You are trying to smear without smearing. Have some balls.

      "You expect us to believe a 'Koch himself.' Talk about pure idiocy. So now whatever the subject of an accusation says is the guiding principle?"

      When the argument is over someone's beliefs, and he has made those beliefs known for four decades AND has written an WSJ op-ed detailing them, yes. Only an ideologically motivated wingnut believes otherwise.

      "You have some very distorted ethics. What you do amounts to simple denial of any accusation. You put up some Wall Street journal links, but many people view mainstream sources like that with suspicion, just look at the cheerleading for the wars."

      So a blog post without clear citations and from an ideological enemy is more reliable? Are you nuts?

      "We're the only ones talking about this so nobody must be reading but as I said before, batting it around on a blog amounts to nothing but opinion. Any discussion about the Koch's business practices and policies is a subject for scholars with legal backgrounds and must be presented in a detailed format, certainly not some anonymous guy who calls himself pure mercury. Many people have looked into what these guys do, with their network of think tanks and groups. It seems to me that all this libertarian stuff amounts to is anger over taxes - that is it's main rationale."

      And that makes no sense. You are starting with your conclusion, because it's what makes sense to you. I suppose the hundreds of millions of Koch dollars flowing to marriage equality and comprehensive immigration reform and ending the War on Drugs is just window dressing for "anger over taxes." You cannot really believe that.

      Delete
    41. "And that is just mainly very rich people wanting to keep more money since they're the highest taxed, but of course it has its appeal to other income levels. They target the things that government uses tax money for, but only selective things. They pay lip service to defense cuts but the main targets are programs for the poor, since they are easy victims and it plays well to blue collar workers who hate the idea that some people get medicaid and food stamps. It's all extremely cynical and subversive, and you're not fooling anyone with your denials."

      That is pure nonsense. David Koch ran for Vice President on a platform with this for defense:

      Military
      [edit]1. Military Policy
      We recognize the necessity for maintaining a sufficient military force to defend the United States against aggression. We should reduce the overall cost and size of our total governmental defense establishment.
      We call for the withdrawal of all American troops from bases abroad. In particular, we call for the removal of the U.S. Air Force as well as ground troupes from the Korean peninsula.
      We call for withdrawal from multilateral and bilateral commitments to military intervention (such as to NATO and to South Korea) and for abandonment of interventionist doctrines (such and the Monroe Doctrine).
      We view the mass destruction potential of modern warfare as the greatest threat to the lives and liberties of the American people and all the people of the globe. We favor international negotiations toward general and complete disarmament down to police levels, provided every necessary precaution is taken to effectively protect the lives and the rights of the American people. Particularly important is the mutual disarmament of nuclear weapons and missiles, and other instruments of indiscriminate mass destruction of civilians.

      You simply aren't thinking rationally about this. You believe all the worst (mostly false) things written about them, and then you refuse to believe the (true) good things.

      Delete
    42. There's a massive disconnect between what the Kochs claim and the Rebublicans they support. They were behind Cruz who advocated carpet bombing Syria! I've been accused of being doctrinaire left but you're doctrinaire Koch - I suppose that's acceptable. More of an ideological wingnut than you is not possible. All you can do is call me crazy every other sentence.

      Delete
    43. The Kochs are on a PR mission to rehab their image, and you're playing to all their talking points mentioned in this article. I suspect you're some sort of paid internet minder/monitor. The Koch's, to put it country simple, are LIARS and their policies are INSANE, what the tactic is is to deny the radical nature of their privatization schemes. What really sickens me is how you try so desperately to present them as humanitarians, while they want to eliminate medicare and medicaid and turn social security over to a Wall Street that is nothing more than fraud and reckless gambling, backed up by CIA dirty deeds.

      http://www.politicususa.com/2015/04/25/kochs-claim-theyre-politics-americans-well-being-profits.html

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    44. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    45. You are setting land speed records for lies. Charles Koch is a not a member of the John Birch Society, as he resigned his membership over their support for escalation of the war in Vietnam. Also, The John Birch Society is neither violent nor racist. In fact, they kick people out who express racist or anti-Semitic sentiments. They are nutty and obsessive anti-communists who see conspiracies everywhere, but you are libeling them with your statements now. Your behavior is outrageous, and I hope Mr. Novoselic prevents you from continuing.

      Delete
    46. From a John Birch Society Ad:Birmingham News, 8-29-1960

      "The average American negro['s]...security of person and assurance of honored treatment by his fellow citizens in all of the utilitarian relationships of living, have been exactly on par with those of his white neighbors...so what is all the complaining about?"

      They also had billboards all over the South that said, "Impeach Justice Warren." This was after Brown vs. Board of Education. They now deny it had anything to do with that, but they been claiming that the "racial question" was a communist plot. They called Mandela a "communist terrorist thug." The same thing the S.African racists called him. You can hide behind all sorts of excuses but it's just common sense that those actions and that language are racist.

      What Koch operatives and apologists do is deny, and distort, and operate under plausible deniability. Charles Koch says the minimum wage creates a "culture of dependence." But what does that absurd phrase mean? Aren't employees dependent on their salaries with or without guaranteed minimums? That is a violent statement-recklessly violent in that it would ruin lives and the economy.

      David Koch gives hundreds of millions to cancer research, probably because of his own prostate cancer; but to name just one infamous and sordid example, their Georgia-Pacific paper plant in Alabama discharges massive amounts of chemicals into waterways that pass through residential neighborhoods. The stench is powerful and choking and fumes rise off the noxious-looking water. There is a cancer cluster epidemic, in that neighborhood. So what is this sort of horrific hypocrisy? On top of doing things like that to entire neighborhoods(and beyond) they want to abolish the EPA, medicare and medicaid and social security. So that would result in even more pollution, since the EPA apparently allows them what they're already doing; and once you're sick, you'd have NO chance of paying for treatment, and NO MONEY for food. That is Koch's America.

      They have so many minor operatives all over on all sorts of silly blogs and sites. To give an example of the sort of distortions and evasions they deal in, Paul Jacob(who commended Krist's CU paper), in his Common sense(sic) blog post: "Nazi by Association" rushes in to defend Fred Koch from the accusation that he profited from the Hitler Nazi regime. Specifically, this accusation was in the book "Dark Money." Jacob, in classic Koch-type denial and distortion, claims this was unfair, because the oil refinery that Koch built was before Hitler was a tyrant! See the language games? Before the world recognized him as a tyrant or before he started the war; but many considered him tyrannical before he even rose to official power. All of the anti-semitic and racist and militaristic words and actions were in FULL EFFECT from the start of the Nazi party and certainly by the time Koch built the plant for him, when he was in power- there mass massive violence and intimidation happening.

      So you could look at Koch's decision as being just amoral or immoral business dealings; you could think that maybe he was an uninformed ignoramous, or you could think that maybe he had no problem at all with the Nazi party at that time.

      Pure Mercury is advocating I be silenced, barred from commenting, claiming that I am lying. I guess that is the big freedom and liberty advocate's go-to method when things get too real.

      Delete
    47. I deleted the comment since it was wrong to claim Charles Koch is still a Bircher. Any discussion of the CU ruling must examine the beliefs of the groups that were behind it, and the Kochs played a major role in supporting it. I think in this discussion, we have a great look at some of the word games behind the defense of their beliefs.

      Mr.Pure claims they're anti-war, militaristic etc. based on a 1980 statement of David Koch's, when he was running for VP; but we're talking about NOW, and the Kochs are all in for the Rebublican party, and especially their own candidates, and I don't think anyone is going to believe them if they say they're not pro-war, and pro-imperialism, unless there's a difference between thought and action. Their boy Ted Cruz wanted to carpet bomb Syria!!!

      Here's a very informative article about the Koch's history: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/inside-the-koch-brothers-toxic-empire-20140924?page=4

      It lists the many court convictions against them. Their own brother Bill has called them, "The biggest crooks in the oil industry." This argument has nothing to do with left wing, these guys are as radical and unstable as any Maoist.

      My post above answers Pure Mercury's claim that the Birchers aren't racist. Racists aren't only lynch mobs and thugs who insult and throw rocks at children trying to go to school but the slick groups that take out ads and billboards that oppose the laws behind those children going to segregated schools, so your claiming they're not violent or racist is once again, plausible deniability. I think those anti-segregationist groups have morphed into so-called "Patriot" groups.

      Regarding Paul Jacob's apology for Fred Koch's profiting from the Hitler Nazis,in his pompously titled blog Common Sense, the article: "Nazi by Association," very conveniently fails to mention that same Koch Sr profited immensely in Stalin's Russia. When he was done and the cash was in account, he had a come-to-Jesus moment and said he didn't know what was happening there! So a rabid anti-communist Bircher does business there? he helps them to survive and thrive. He's actually a Hero of the Soviet Union! This is the pattern: claim to believe one thing for appearance and sacrifice any so-called beliefs for cash. This happens across the board with the current system, just look at the "War on Terror" and "The War on Drugs."

      Here is Pure Mercury's 6-19 post about the Birchers:

      "You are setting land speed records for lies. Charles Koch is a not a member of the John Birch Society, as he resigned his membership over their support for escalation of the war in Vietnam. Also, The John Birch Society is neither violent nor racist. In fact, they kick people out who express racist or anti-Semitic sentiments. They are nutty and obsessive anti-communists who see conspiracies everywhere, but you are libeling them with your statements now. Your behavior is outrageous, and I hope Mr. Novoselic prevents you from continuing."

      Delete
  13. Hi Krist,
    I read your article with a great deal of interest. You have done an excellent job in research.

    Just a follow up to Michael Moore and my FEC complaint - his corporation very clearly spent 'Corporate' funds and colluded with political groups to attempt to defeat a political candidate during an election year. At that time, the FEC clearly stated, "Contributions made from the treasuries of corporations, labor organizations and national banks are prohibited."

    I am not sure I agree with your statement that Michael Moore's Corporation had to 'stand in front of a government agency to get approval to show a film'. My complaint was based on the expenditures of his corporation and his corporation's links to purely political groups that expressed a definite political agenda. In determining that Fahrenheit 911 was a commercial film, the FEC ignored the political/corporate connections and expenditures.

    While I agree with the fact that there should be no limit to Free Speech - the Law of the Land at the time did restrict Corporate Contributions and the FEC failed to uphold that.
    One of the comments that came back to me from the FEC was that "Fahrenheit 911 was a 'good' film". I am still troubled by that.

    Thanks for your article,
    Dale Clausnitzer

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  14. Although the narrative does drift off into the intellectual ether at times, especially in its failure to understand the difference between independent expenditures (Citizens United) and issue ads (Bellotti), this is a surprisingly accurate framework of the history of federal campaign finance regulation and the interference in this regulatory function by the Supreme Court without any constitutional authority for doing so. The author does not inform us exactly where in the First Amendment phrase “the freedom of speech,” or in any prior understanding of its meaning by the framers or any justices prior to the plutocratic Nixon Court, it says that influence peddling is legalized if the proceeds of the crime are spent on some form of communication.

    The article conveniently quotes the confused reasoning for the Buckley v Valeo (1976) decision to distinquish the O'Brien symbolic speech case in the Court's assertion that “some forms of communication made possible by the giving and spending of money involve speech alone, some involve conduct primarily, and some involve a combination of the two.” This incomprehenible statement is the pea under the Court's logical shell game. Communication is a synonym for speech, and therefore part of this statement is a tautology. Communication is not conduct. But spending of money is always conduct.

    The article falls into error by buying into this confused shell-game logic that money payments made to or for politicians is something other than conduct fully subject to regulation if made in a way that objectively might create conflicts of interest. Spending of money is conduct that is regulated, taxed, and prohibited in many ways. There is no such defense anywhere else in the law that exempts an offender of such a regulation of conduct due to the “communication made possible by” the proceeds of the crime. In this context the crime is influence peddling, or prohibited payments that raise a reasonable inference of conflict of interest. The spending of the proceeds of this crime on some paid political advertisement no more exonerates the influence peddling conduct from violating regulation than would spending the proceeds from a bank-robbery for the same purpose.

    The Buckley decision relies solely on this shell-game logic that never before or since has been applied except to justify the current systemically corrupt political sytem. Justice White clearly exposed this shell game logic in his dissent in Buckley, where he points out that nearly every law could be freely violated under this principle if it could produce money for paid speech.

    Buckley is a case built on lies like Dred Scott was. Whereas Dred Scott lied to enslave blacks, Buckley lied to create a plutocracy under which anyone who cannot afford to buy influence is disenfranchised and in effect enslaved by those who do.

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  15. (Part II) The second fundamental error in this article is its failure to distinguish money spent for public interests, and that invested by special interests to make profits. By ignoring this distinction the article tries to persuade us that Citizens United is no problem. The author is correct that Citizens United has been widely exaggerated and misrepresented, mainly for fundraising purposes. See for example this article showing just how insignificant the decision is. http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Is-JEB-Defecting-from-the-by-Rob-Hager-Corruption_Money_Money_Obama-160210-823.html But what little Citizens United did do, by giving for-profit corporations a new way to make political investments, in addition to issue ads, was wrong.

    The case described in the article about advocating impeachment because of Nixon's continuation of the Vietnam War was, on its face, not money spent to advance a special interest, both rather purportedly made for the public interest of not fighting unpopular wars, and for getting rid of a president who would fight one. The Court correctly ruled that this expenditure could not be regulated because the problem of money in politics is not related to people spending their money in the public interest, and who have no way of specially profiting from their expenditure. This does not threaten the creation of a plutocracy. It is not corrupt.

    The Austin decision overturned by Citizens United had explained that for-profit corporate expenditures where prohibited from politics because they are presumably always made for special interest purposes. Corporations are established for the sole purpose of making profits. Their investments in politics corrupt policy making due to the conflicts of interest they create. The investors are rewarded with public policy that creates enormous returns on investment. See http://politicaltruths.info/2016/05/13/bernie-sanders-bad-strategy-rigged-delegate-math/ This cycle of profits from graft and political payoffs from the profits is how a plutocracy is created. That was what the Supreme Court intended in the whole line of Buckley money is speech cases, and the political system we now have because of those decisions.

    ReplyDelete
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