[FoRK] Campaign Finance Reform, or Mayflower and Memewar

Contempt for Meatheads jbone at place.org
Wed Mar 31 18:59:38 PST 2004

JH says:

> > From: "Russell Turpin" <deafbox at hotmail.com>
> > Subject: RE: [FoRK] Re: Not so free speech
> >
> > I'll admit that I have a poor understanding of how
> > McCain-Feingold restricts different kinds of political
> > organization. That said, I'm curious: How do people
> > like Rush Limbaugh avoid these restrictions? Don't
> > advertisers to his show pay quite large sums?
> The media are immune to McCain-Feingold.  This is why the NRA is now
> trying to buy a TV station.
> If the Media were not immune, the New York Times (as an example) would
> either have to shut down for a few months before the election or have a
> government censor pre-review every article before publication.  In case
> there is any doubt, I would view that as a BAD THING.

While this is based on an imperfect understanding of McCain-Feingold 
--- which aside, I am not particularly in favor of either, JH --- let's 
digress for a moment.

The issue w/ CFR, aside from spending limits, is the so-called "soft 

Pragmatically, despite libertarian ideology, I'm in favor of taking a 
closer look and more closely controlling "soft money."  Soft money 
represents an extra-market and uncontrolled influence in the market of 
ideas.  The "soft money" contributions to our political discourse are 
precisely the topic of my Mayflower and Memewar article previous to 
this.  If "soft money" were clearly defined and regulated, then if 
Arthur "Punchy" Salzberger had to shut down the New York Times prior to 
an election (or perpetually) --- Fox News and all of AM "conservative" 
talk radio would need to be shut down, probably perpetually given their 
"soft" and continuous and highly biased contribution to the political 

But the remedy does not require anything as onerous and odious as 
government censors.  It merely requires a streamlined post-facto 
process by which "the opposition" (on either side of the equation) can 
sue for the accounting of such soft dollars, coupled with rules about 
the accounting of such soft dollars.

Or, better, as suggested:  reinstitute Mayflower.  Much less overhead.  
I'm not usually a retroactive, nostalgic kind of guy;  but I do have to 
admit a certain pining for the days when journalists in general, 
editors and controllers of media output in particular, had at least a 
kind of self-policing and self-regulating internal policy in the name 
of journalistic "objectivity" and "honor."

> The problem with MoveOn and similar organizations is that they have a
> very clear partisan agenda (like, as an example, unions).

And Fox News, AM talk radio, "Fair and Balanced" Bill O'Reilly, the 
National Review, and so on do not have a very clear partisan agenda?  
(For example, the total spot removal of all blemishes on the otherwise 
splotchy presidency of a certain mentally- and competency-challenged 
individual from Texas?) Oh, you slay me with your irony.

> However,
> under McCain-Feingold having a partisan agenda is illegal.

Not true.  Revue the statute.  It's only in certain contexts that 
expenditures in service of a partisan agenda are illegal.

Nonetheless:  ANYTHING to dampen the memewar.  ANYTHING.


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