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Old January 26th 06, 11:50 AM posted to alt.collecting.8-track-tapes
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Default the liberal left Democrats war against free speech

TAKING LIBERTIES

Shut Up, They Explained
The left's regulatory war against free speech.

BY BRIAN C. ANDERSON
Wednesday, January 25, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

The rise of alternative media--political talk radio in the 1980s, cable
news in the '90s, and the blogosphere in the new millennium--has broken
the liberal monopoly over news and opinion outlets. The left
understands acutely the implications of this revolution, blaming much
of the Democratic Party's current electoral trouble on the influence of
the new media's vigorous conservative voices. Instead of fighting back
with ideas, however, today's liberals quietly, relentlessly and
illiberally are working to smother this flourishing universe of
political discourse under a tangle of campaign-finance and media
regulations. Their campaign represents the most sustained attack on
free political speech in the United States since the 1798 Alien and
Sedition Acts. Though Republicans have the most to lose in the short
run, all Americans who care about our most fundamental rights and the
civic health of our democracy need to understand what's going on--and
resist it.

The most imminent danger comes from campaign-finance rules, especially
those spawned by the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act.
Republican maverick John McCain's co-sponsorship aside, the bill passed
only because of overwhelming Democratic support. It's easy to see why
liberals have spearheaded the nation's three-decade experiment with
campaign-finance regulation. Seeking to rid politics of "big-money
corruption," election-law reforms obstruct the kinds of political
speech--political ads and perhaps now the feisty editorializing of the
new media--that escape the filter of the mainstream press and the
academy, left-wing fiefdoms still regulation-free. Campaign-finance
reform, notes columnist George Will, by steadily expanding
"government's control of the political campaigns that decide who
controls government," advances "liberalism's program of extending
government supervision of life."

The irony of campaign-finance reform is that the "corruption" it
targets seems not to exist in any widespread sense. Studies galore have
found little or no significant influence of campaign contributions on
legislators' votes. Ideological commitments, party positions and
constituents' wishes are what motivate the typical politician's actions
in office. Aha! reformers will often riposte, the corruption is hidden,
determining what Congress doesn't do--like enacting big gas taxes. But
as Mr. Will notes, "that charge is impossible to refute by disproving a
negative." Even so, such conspiracy-theory thinking is transforming
election law into what journalist Jonathan Rauch calls "an engine of
unlimited political regulation."

McCain-Feingold, the latest and scariest step down that slope, makes it
a felony for corporations, nonprofit advocacy groups and labor unions
to run ads that criticize--or even name or show--members of Congress
within 60 days of a federal election, when such quintessentially
political speech might actually persuade voters. It forbids political
parties from soliciting or spending "soft money" contributions to
publicize the principles and ideas they stand for. Amending the already
baffling campaign-finance rules from the 1970s, McCain-Feingold's
dizzying do's and don'ts, its detailed and onerous reporting
requirements of funding sources--which require a dense 300-page book to
lay out--have made running for office, contributing to a candidate or
cause, or advocating without an attorney at hand unwise and potentially
ruinous.

Not for nothing has Justice Clarence Thomas denounced McCain-Feingold's
"unprecedented restrictions" as an "assault on the free exchange of
ideas."





Campaign-finance reform has a squeaky-clean image, but the dirty truth
is that this speech-throttling legislation is partly the result of a
hoax perpetrated by a handful of liberal foundations, led by the
venerable Pew Charitable Trusts. New York Post reporter Ryan Sager
exposed the scam when he got hold of a 2004 videotape of former Pew
official Sean Treglia telling a roomful of journalists and professors
how Pew and other foundations spent years bankrolling various experts,
ostensibly independent nonprofits (including the Center for Public
Integrity and Democracy 21), and media outlets (NPR got $1.2 million
for "news coverage of financial influence in political
decision-making")--all aimed at fooling Washington into thinking that
Americans were clamoring for reform, when in truth there was little
public pressure to "clean up the system." "The target group for all
this activity was 535 people in Washington," said Mr. Treglia
matter-of-factly, referring to Congress. "The idea was to create an
impression that a mass movement was afoot--that everywhere they looked,
in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious
groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about
reform."
Mr. Treglia urged grantees to keep Pew's role hush-hush. "If Congress
thought this was a Pew effort," he confided, "it'd be worthless. It'd
be 20 million bucks thrown down the drain." At one point, late in the
congressional debate over McCain-Feingold, "we had a scare," Mr.
Treglia said. "George Will stumbled across a report we had done. . . .
He started to reference the fact that Pew was playing a large role . .
.. [and] that it was a liberal attempt to hoodwink Congress. . . . The
good news, from my perspective, was that journalists . . . just didn't
care and nobody followed up." The hoaxers--a conspiracy of eight
left-wing foundations, including George Soros's Open Society Institute
and the Ford Foundation--have actually spent $123 million trying to get
other people's money out of politics since 1994, Mr. Sager
reports--nearly 90% of the spending by the entire campaign-finance
lobby over this period.

The ultimate pipe dream of the reformers is a rigidly egalitarian
society, where government makes sure that every individual's influence
over politics is exactly the same, regardless of his wealth. Scrutinize
the pronouncements of campaign-finance reform groups like the
Pew-backed Democracy 21, and you'll see how the meaning of "corruption"
morphs into "inequality of influence" in this sense. This notion of
corruption--really a Marxoid opposition to inequality of wealth--would
have horrified the Founding Fathers, who believed in private property
with its attendant inequalities, and who trusted to the clash of
factions to ensure that none oppressed the others. The Founders would
have seen in the reformers' utopian schemes, in which the power of
government makes all equally weak, the embodiment of tyranny.

To eradicate "corruption," leading theorists of campaign-finance
reform, such as Ohio State University law professor (and former Ohio
state solicitor) Edward Foley, Loyola law prof Richard Hasen, and
radical redistributionist philosopher Ronald Dworkin, want to replace
privately financed campaigns with a system in which government would
guarantee "equal dollars per voter," as Foley puts it, perhaps by
giving all Americans the same number of political "coupons," which they
could then redeem on the political activities of their choice. This
superpowerful government would ban all other political expenditures and
require all political groups to get operating licenses from it, with
stiff criminal penalties for violators. The experts have even started
calling for draconian media restrictions to achieve their egalitarian
aims. In Foley's view, the chilling of speech is "the necessary price
we must pay in order to have an electoral system that guarantees equal
opportunity for all." But when these experts pen law-review articles
with titles like "Campaign Finance Laws and the Rupert Murdoch
Problem," you know it isn't the New York Times or CBS News that they
have in mind.





Campaign-finance reform now has the blogosphere in its crosshairs. When
the Federal Election Commission wrote specific rules in 2002 to
implement McCain-Feingold, it voted 4-2 to exempt the Web. After all,
observed the majority of three Republicans and one Democrat (the agency
divides its seats evenly between the two parties), Congress didn't list
the Internet among the "public communications"--everything from
television to roadside billboards--that the FEC should regulate.
Further, "the Internet is virtually a limitless resource, where the
speech of one person does not interfere with the speech of anyone
else," reasoned Republican commissioner Michael Toner. "Whereas
campaign finance regulation is meant to ensure that money in politics
does not corrupt candidates or officeholders, or create the appearance
thereof, such rationales cannot plausibly be applied to the Internet,
where on-line activists can communicate about politics with millions of
people at little or no cost."
But when the chief House architects of campaign-finance reform, joined
bySens. McCain and Russ Feingold, sued--claiming that the Internet was
one big "loophole" that allowed big money to keep on corrupting--a
federal judge agreed, ordering the FEC to clamp down on Web politics.
Then-commissioner Bradley Smith and the two other Republicans on the
FEC couldn't persuade their Democratic colleagues to vote to appeal.

The FEC thus has plunged into what Smith calls a "bizarre" rule-making
process that could shackle the political blogosphere. This would be a
particular disaster for the right, which has maintained its early
advantage over the left in the blogosphere, despite the emergence of
big liberal sites like Daily Kos. Some 157 of the top 250 political
blogs express right-leaning views, a recent liberal survey found.
Reaching a growing and influential audience--hundreds of thousands of
readers weekly (including most journalists) for the top conservative
sites--the blogosphere has enabled the right to counter the biases of
the liberal media mainstream. Without the blogosphere, Howell Raines
would still be the New York Times' editor, Dan Rather would only now be
retiring, garlanded with praise--and John Kerry might be president of
the U.S., assuming that CBS News had gotten away with its falsehood
about President Bush's military service that the diligent bloggers at
PowerLine, LittleGreenFootballs and other sites swiftly debunked.

Are the hundreds of political blogs that have sprouted over the last
few years--21st-century versions of the Revolutionary era's political
pamphlets--"press," and thus exempt from FEC regulations? Liberal
reform groups like Democracy 21 say no. "We do not believe anyone
described as a 'blogger' is by definition entitled to the benefit of
the press exemption," they collectively sniffed in a brief to the FEC.
"While some bloggers may provide a function very similar to more
classical media activities, and thus could reasonably be said to fall
within the exemption, others surely do not." The key test, the groups
claimed, should be whether the blogger is performing a "legitimate
press function." But who decides what is legitimate? And what in the
Constitution gives him the authority to do so?





A first, abandoned, draft of proposed FEC Web rules, leaked to the
RedState blog last March, regulated all but tiny, password-protected
political sites, so bloggers should be worried. Without a general
exemption, political blogs could easily find themselves in regulatory
hell. Say it's a presidential race, Condi Rice vs. Hillary Clinton. You
run a wildly opinionated and popular group blog--call it No to
Hillary--that rails daily about the perils of a Clinton restoration and
sometimes republishes Rice campaign material. Is your blog making
"contributions" to Rice? Maybe. The FEC says that a "contribution"
includes "any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or
anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any
election for Federal office" (my italics). If your anti-Hillary blog
spends more than $1,000, you could also find it reclassified as a
"political committee." Then you've got countless legal requirements and
funding limits to worry about.
In such a regulated Web-world, bloggers and operators of political
sites would have to get press exemptions on a case-by-case basis. The
results, election-law expert Bob Bauer explains, would be
"unpredictable, highly sensitive to subtle differences in facts, and to
the political environment of the moment." Even when the outcome is
happy, says Mr. Bauer, "a favorable result is still an act of noblesse
oblige by a government well aware that if it turns down a request, the
disappointed applicant is left with litigation as the only option."

Sites would live in fear of Kafkaesque FEC enforcement actions, often
triggered by political rivals' complaints. "If the matter is based on a
complaint," notes former FEC counsel Allison Hayward, "the 'respondent'
will receive a letter from the FEC with the complaint and will be asked
to show why the FEC shouldn't investigate." An investigation involves
"the usual tools of civil litigation--document requests, depositions,
briefs, and the like." The outcome can take months "or longer" to
determine, says Hayward. "If a complaint is filed against you, there
will be a flurry of activity while you respond, then perhaps
silence--then another letter will arrive and you will be required to
respond promptly, then maybe nothing again for months." Most political
bloggers aren't paid "professional" reporters or commentators but just
democratic citizens with day jobs who like to exercise their right to
voice their opinions. If doing so without a lawyer puts them or their
families at risk, many will simply stop blogging about politics--or
never start.

If you think such fretting is silly, says Bradley Smith, consider the
case of Bill Liles, who faced an FEC inquiry when Smith was
commissioner. In 2000, a businessman in the little Texas town of
Muleshoe, Harvey Bass, painted "Save our nation: Vote Democrat Al Gore
for President" on a beat-up box and plunked it on his furniture store's
porch. Sick of looking at it, Mr. Liles and a friend pasted a "bigger
and better" poster praising George W. Bush on a trailer and parked it
right across from Mr. Bass's store. This was too much for another
local, Don Dyer, who complained to the FEC that Mr. Liles's sign lacked
mandated disclosures about who paid for it and whether Mr. Bush had
signed off on it.

Though the FEC in the end let Mr. Liles and his fellow activists off,
the men had in fact broken not just disclosure rules but any number of
other regulations, too, recalls Mr. Smith. They had clearly spent a bit
more than $250 on their makeshift sign, for example, but hadn't
reported it, as required, to the FEC. "Total statutory penalties could
have easily exceeded $25,000," Mr. Smith observes. How different is
Liles's praiseworthy activism from that of many political bloggers? The
medium differs, but Mr. Liles, like a blogger, is simply voicing his
opinion. And this was pre-McCain-Feingold.

Even if the FEC starts by regulating only a little bit of Web politics,
instead of the extensive oversight it had at first planned--and a laxer
regime is likelier, thanks to the fierce outburst from political blogs,
right and left, when they discovered their freedom of speech under
fire--there's no guarantee that the commission won't steadily expand
its reach later. "If the history of campaign finance regulation is any
guide," notes Commissioner Toner, "once the FEC exercises jurisdiction
over the Internet, the Commission's initial set of regulations, even if
narrowly tailored, are likely to lead to broader regulation in the
future." Right after McCain-Feingold became law, Sen. Feingold opined:
"It is only a beginning. It is a modest reform. . . . There will be
other reforms." Most campaign-finance reformers share that
regulate-to-the-max outlook, aiming--swiftly or incrementally--to close
all the loopholes.





Recognizing that McCain-Feingold is out of control, liberty-minded
Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling introduced the Online Freedom of Speech
Act (HR 1606) in the House last April. (Harry Reid has sponsored
identical legislation in the Senate, showing that not all Democrats are
lost on the issue.) The bill reinforces the Internet's current
regulation-free status by excluding blogs and various other Web
communications from campaign-finance strictures. Brought to an
expedited vote under special rules that required a two-thirds majority
in early November, the bill--opposed strenuously by the
campaign-finance reform "movement"--failed. "Today's action marks a sad
day for one of our nation's most sacred rights: freedom of speech,"
reflected Speaker Dennis Hastert. "The last thing this Congress should
be doing is trying to stifle public debate online."
The House Democrats torpedoed HR 1606, but they had surprising help
from about three dozen Republicans. Why did so many normally staunch
opponents of campaign-finance speech restrictions shift camp? One
possible explanation, perhaps cynical: It's hard to unseat incumbents,
given their advantages of name recognition, free media exposure, and an
easier time raising donations. If they can make it harder for their
rivals to speak, which campaign-finance rules help them to do, the
challenger's task gets harder still. (Notably, after Congress began
campaign-finance restrictions in the 1970s, incumbency rates began to
rise.) Once in office, some Republicans may suddenly like
McCain-Feingold's power to shield them from criticism--including on the
Web.

It's not just the blogosphere that's at risk. The left has also begun
to use campaign-finance reform--not McCain-Feingold but equally onerous
state regulations--to try to shush political talk radio. The oldest of
the new media--Rush Limbaugh went national more than 15 years
ago--political talk radio is the right's dominion. Not one of the top
20 nationally syndicated political shows features a left-of-center
host, and right-leaning radio talkers outnumber liberals 3 to 1. More
than 40% of Americans tune in at least occasionally to this extremely
influential medium, and more than 20% use it as a primary source of
political information. Given the left's continuing inability to compete
on the dial--its much-ballyhooed Air America doesn't even register in
the Arbitron ratings in some markets--its preferred strategy in the
future likely will be to force conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and
William Bennett off the air.

Consider what's going on in Washington state as an early warning. Early
in 2005, the Democrat-controlled Legislature passed--and Gov. Christine
Gregoire, a Democrat, signed--a bill boosting the state's gasoline tax
a whopping 9.5 cents per gallon over the next four years, supposedly to
fund transportation projects. Thinking that their taxes were already
plenty high and that the state's notoriously corrupt Transportation
Department would just squander the gas-tax revenues (millions on
enviro-friendly wildlife overpasses, for instance, but little on new
roads), some citizens organized an initiative campaign, as Washington
law allows, to junk the new levy: No New Gas Tax.

Two popular conservative talk radio hosts, Kirby Wilbur and John
Carlson, explained why the gas tax was bad news and urged listeners to
sign the 225,000 petitions necessary to get the rollback initiative on
the November ballot, though they played no official role in the
campaign and regularly featured on their shows defenders as well as
opponents of the tax hike. With the hosts' help, the petition drive got
almost twice the needed signatures, but the ballot initiative, strongly
opposed by labor unions, the state's liberal media, environmental
groups and other powerful interests, narrowly lost.

Meantime, a group of pro-tax politicians sued No New Gas Tax, arguing
that Wilbur's and Carlson's on-air commentaries were "in-kind
contributions" and that the antitax campaign had failed to report them
to the proper state authorities. The suit sought to stop NNGT from
accepting any more of these "contributions" until it disclosed their
worth--though how the initiative's organizers could control media
discussions or calculate their monetary value remained unclear. The
complaint also socked NNGT with civil penalties, attorneys' fees and
costs, and other damages. Even more offensively, to litigate the suit
the politicians hired a private law firm, Foster Pepper & Shefelman,
which serves as bond counsel to Washington state. The firm, which
represents unions, hospitals and retirement funds among its other
clients, could thus clean up from the state's plan to sell
gas-tax-backed bonds. Appearance of corruption, anyone?

The real target of the suit was clearly Wilbur and Carlson, or, more
accurately, their corporate employer, Fisher Communications. If NNGT
received the "contributions," that meant Fisher had sent them by
broadcasting Wilbur's and Carlson's support for the initiative.
Washington law limits contributions in the last three weeks of a
political campaign to $5,000. Depending on how one measured the dollar
worth of on-air "contributions," Fisher could thus face big fines and
criminal penalties if it let Wilbur and Carlson keep talking about the
gas tax. "Thankfully, Fisher assured us that we could keep talking
about the subject on the air, and we did," Wilbur says. The judge ruled
in favor of the pro-tax pols, though he finessed the $5,000 limitation
problem by ruling only on the "contributions" that occurred prior to
the campaign's last three weeks.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal defense group, has
entered the fray, filing both an appeal to the Washington Supreme Court
and a counterclaim against the politicians behind the suit. "I think
this case presents a substantial issue under the First Amendment,"
institute attorney Bill Maurer explained. "This is one of the most
important cases nationally about the right of the press to speak
freely, without the interference of the government or regulation of the
government--because the power to regulate is the power to suppress."
Should the appeal lose, the days of political talk radio could be over
not only in Washington State but everywhere. "McCain-Feingold could
definitely be used in the same fashion," Mr. Maurer tells me. "In fact,
the prosecutors in this case say McCain-Feingold permits them to do
this. But pretty much any state that has campaign-finance laws that
restrict contributions is subject to this abuse, too."





All this massively begs the question: Why should any American need
government permission to express himself? Instead of a media exemption,
blogger Glenn Reynolds sarcastically commented at a recent conference,
maybe we need a "free speech exception, in which you are allowed to say
what you want about political candidates without fear of prosecution by
the government."
You'd think that the Supreme Court would have rescued the new
media--and the nation--from all this regulatory tyranny. President Bush
reportedly agreed not to veto McCain-Feingold only because he was sure
the court would do it for him and he could thereby avoid riling up Sen.
McCain. After all, the language of the First Amendment is unambiguous:
"Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press." The court has extended First Amendment free-speech
protection in recent years to nude dancing, animated online kiddie
porn, flag burning, tobacco advertising and cross burning. For its
original architects, of course, the First Amendment's chief aim was to
protect political speech--the right to criticize the government. The
notion that government could restrict the speech of some--which is what
campaign-finance rules do--would have been the very definition of
unconstitutional tyranny for men like Samuel Adams or James Madison.
How could the justices not stop the campaign-finance juggernaut?

Yet the Court's 5-4 McConnell v. FEC ruling approved almost all of
McCain-Feingold. The 2003 decision shocked many, but the court's
"evolving" jurisprudence in the area of campaign finance should have
made it not all that surprising. For the past three decades, the
Supreme Court has chopped steadily away at constitutional protection
for political speech when campaign finance is at issue. In its 1976
Buckley v. Valeodecision, the court took the first, disastrous step by
authorizing the "balancing" of free speech concerns with the
"governmental interest" in preventing "the actuality and the appearance
of corruption."

The balancing idea has become a liberal commonplace, expressed bluntly
by former Democratic House minority leader Richard Gephardt a few years
ago: "What we have is two important values in direct conflict: freedom
of speech and our desire for healthy campaigns in a healthy democracy."
But as commentator Thomas Sowell retorted, whatever Mr. Gephardt's
definition of a healthy campaign is, "it is not part of the
Constitution of the United States--and free speech is." In fact, it is
the bedrock of our healthy democracy.

Buckley's loose language is troubling, too. "The 'appearance of
corruption' can mean anything," says former FEC commissioner Smith. "If
the 'appearance of corruption' is sufficient to justify regulation, the
practical effect is to eliminate the need for the government to show
any justification for the regulation in question." In fact, even John
McCain, now incorruptible after his involvement as one of the
scandalous Keating Five, could appear corrupt. Several aides from his
2000 presidential run, including his former campaign manager, press
secretary, finance director and legal counsel have been working for the
Reform Institute, a nonprofit group dedicated to (you guessed it)
campaign-finance reform--though it primarily seems to be a nascent 2008
McCain for President campaign. Some months back, when Cablevision
sought approval for a pricing change from the Senate Commerce
Committee, then chaired by Mr. McCain, the company developed a sudden
interest in campaign-finance reform and gave the Reform Institute a
$200,000 "soft" donation. Looks fishy, no?

Making matters worse, the Supreme Court's 1990 Austin v. Michigan
Chamber of Commerce decision redefined "corruption" to mean not just
the exchange of political favors for money--seemingly Buckley's view,
though the court's opinion is vague--but also "the corrosive and
distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are
accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or
no correlation to the public's support for the corporation's political
ideas." In other words, the court's majority fully embraced the
Inequality = Corruption thinking of the campaign-finance reformers. If
corporations had or appeared to have too much influence, government
could now stamp out this "corruption" by shutting them up, as
McCain-Feingold has done, rather than by the checks and balances of
faction against faction, as the Founders envisioned.

In his powerful McConnell dissent, Justice Thomas spelled out "the
chilling endpoint" of the court's reasoning: "outright regulation of
the press"--exactly what the campaign-reform theorists ultimately seek.
"Media companies can run pro-candidate editorials as easily as nonmedia
corporations can pay for advertisements," Justice Thomas explained.
"Media corporations are influential. There is little doubt that the
editorials and commentary they run can affect elections." The Supreme
Court has found little to distinguish media and nonmedia corporations.
Asked Justice Thomas: "What is to stop a future Congress from
determining that the press is 'too influential,' and that the
'appearance of corruption' is significant when media organizations
endorse candidates or run 'slanted' or 'biased' news stories in favor
of candidates or parties?" Answer: Nothing. "Although today's opinion
does not expressly strip the press of First Amendment protection,"
Justice Thomas warned, "there is no principle of law or logic that
would prevent the application of the Court's reasoning in that setting.
The press now operates at the whim of Congress."

Perhaps the liberal mainstream media will stop cheering
campaign-finance reform when they realize their First Amendment rights
are at stake, too.





Though campaign-finance madness is the No. 1 regulatory threat to the
new media, it's not the only one. The left is now pushing Congress to
restore the Fairness Doctrine, which would kill talk radio and possibly
conservative-friendly Fox News, too.
For those who don't remember, the Federal Communications Commission's
Fairness Doctrine, formalized in the late 1940s but dating back to
1929, required radio and later television stations to cover "vitally
important controversial issues of interest in the community served by
the broadcaster" and to provide "opportunity for the presentation of
contrasting viewpoints on such issues." Any broadcaster that didn't
follow these regulations could face fines, free time given to voices
that federal regulators felt hadn't gotten fair treatment, and even
loss of operating license. Concern that particular partisan views could
dominate what was then a very limited broadcast spectrum, which
government thought it had to parcel out with the public interest in
mind, drove this meddling. But politicians and advocacy groups
frequently used (or abused) the Fairness Doctrine to go after their
political enemies, as one former Kennedy administration official
acknowledged: "Our massive strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine to
challenge and harass the right-wing broadcasters, and hope that the
challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and
decide it was too costly to continue."

The doctrine made it hard to program political talk radio in today's
Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity sense--boisterously opinionated, unafraid to
name names, informative and, if you disagree with the host's politics,
infuriating. If a station ran a show like Mr. Limbaugh's, drawing
upward of 20 million listeners a week, it would also have to run a
lefty alternative, even if--as with ratings-challenged Air America in
some markets--it can't get any sponsors. Too risky, most radio execs
concluded, and kept opinion programs off the air. In 1980, talk shows
of any kind numbered fewer than 100 nationwide.

All that changed in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan's free-market-minded
FCC stopped enforcing the Fairness Doctrine and then dumped it entirely
in 1987. Because cable and satellite television and FM radio had vastly
expanded the number of television and radio stations, "the new
technological abundance," in regulatory theorist Peter Huber's phrase,
had robbed the doctrine of any plausible "scarcity" rationale.

That the doctrine was also "chilling to free speech," as FCC head Mark
Fowler argued, became crystal clear after it was gone: AM radio
exploded with political talk shows. From under 5% of all programming,
"informational" programming expanded to over 20% of the AM mix just
seven years after the Fairness Doctrine's demise. Today, more than
1,400 stations feature the talk format exclusively--and the vast
majority broadcast conservative voices, because that's what draws the
listeners, desperate for an alternative to the liberal mainstream
press.





Small wonder, then, that House Democrats proposed two bills in 2005 to
bring the Fairness Doctrine back--and as a law, rather than a mere
regulation. Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, who introduced the first
of the two bills, says that right-ruled radio is a grave threat to
American freedoms, "a waste of good broadcast time, and a waste of our
airwaves." People "may hear whatever they please and whatever they
choose," she tells PBS's Bill Moyers, in a statement as incoherent as
it is illiberal. "And of course they have the right to turn it off. But
that's not good enough either. The fact is that they need the
responsibility of the people who are licensed to use our airwaves
judiciously and responsibly to call them to account if they don't." In
other words, people can't be trusted with freedom but need the
supervision of a paternalist government.
Ms. Slaughter doesn't want to re-regulate only radio. When asked by Mr.
Moyers if she was also proposing the new Fairness Doctrine for Fox News
or MSNBC, Slaughter responded: "You bet. . . . Fairness isn't going to
hurt anybody." If there's anything liberals hate more than talk radio
it's Fox News, which has dominated cable news by appealing to
conservative viewers fed up with the broadcast networks' liberal bias.
Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York, sponsor of the second Fairness
Doctrine bill, went so far as to host a special Capitol Hill screening
of "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," a "documentary" hit
job. Ms. Slaughter, Mr. Hinchey, Vermont socialist Rep. Bernie Sanders,
Washington state's Rep. Jay Inslee and several other House lefties have
recently formed the Future of American Media Congress to push for a
media crackdown.

It's easy to dismiss the Orwellian policy prescriptions of small fry
like these. But look who else has been talking about the Fairness
Doctrine:

There has been a profound and negative change in the relationship of
America's media with America's people," John Kerry told the Boston
Globe's Thomas Oliphant after losing the 2004 presidential race. "We
learned that the mainstream media, over the course of the last year,
did a pretty good job of discerning," he said, inaccurately. "But
there's a . . . submedia that talks and keeps things going for
entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information," he
complained. "This all began, incidentally, when the Fairness Doctrine
ended," Mr. Kerry maintained. "You would have had a dramatic change in
the discussion in this country had we still had a Fairness Doctrine in
the course of the last campaign."

Al Gore, in a typically overheated October speech bemoaning the
purported hollowing out of the American "marketplace of ideas," blamed
it in part on the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, after which "Rush
Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves." And here's
Howard Dean, now chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in a
2003 interview railing against Rupert Murdoch: "I believe we need to
reregulate the media . . . so we can be sure that the American people
get moderate, conservative and liberal points of view." Mr. Dean noted
that he wouldn't need legislation to do this--he could just appoint
"different kinds of people" to the FCC.

Finally, in early 2005, an online petition drive called for Americans
to "renew the Fairness Doctrine." The imbalance favoring conservative
media voices, especially in talk radio, the petition argued, "results
in issues of public importance receiving little or no attention, while
others are presented in a manner not conducive to listeners' receiving
the facts and range of opinions necessary to make informed decisions."
One of the three sponsors of this paternalistic document: Media Matters
for America, a left-wing press watchdog group, founded by
conservative-turned-lefty David Brock, with help from ex-Clinton
adviser John Podesta.

These aren't marginal figures; they're the heart of today's Democratic
Party. Their calls for reform rest on a preposterous claim: that "media
consolidation" has led to a sharp narrowing in the range of viewpoints
available to the American people. In an era of newspapers, magazines,
books, broadcast radio and television, cable and satellite television,
and the Internet--now joined by satellite radio, podcasts and even
newer forms of "technological abundance"--the involved citizen has
never had more information, more debate, more ideas from all political
perspectives at his fingertips. What's really happening is that the
left, having lost its media monopoly, has had trouble competing in a
true "marketplace of ideas" and wants to shut that marketplace down.

If the Democrats take back Congress or the White House, watch out.
Nothing would please them more than to drag the country back to the
good old days, when liberals didn't have to put up with Rush Limbaugh
and Laura Ingraham and Bill O'Reilly and Matt Drudge and the countless
other upstarts recasting our public debate.





The right--joined by free-speech defenders from across the political
spectrum--needs to defeat the liberal regulatory threat before it does
real damage to Americans' rights to express their political views.
President Bush should strongly back Rep. Hensarling's Online Freedom of
Speech Act, whose sponsors may reintroduce it soon in the House under
regular rules, which require only a simple majority to pass it. The
president has just nominated three reportedly liberty-minded lawyers to
fill FEC vacancies, including Robert Lenhard, part of the legal team
that challenged McCain-Feingold's constitutionality. One
campaign-finance reform group described the Lenhard pick as "beyond
disappointing": excellent news for free-speech fans.
This week, in Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC, the Supreme Court
declined for now to rule definitively on a new challenge to
McCain-Feingold. This may be excellent news, since it means the court
is likely to decide a future appeal once Sam Alito has replaced Sandra
Day O'Connor, who in McConnell cast the deciding vote in favor of
McCain-Feingold. If neither Congress nor the Supreme Court does away
with this unconstitutional, un-American travesty, we can expect
election regulations, in the grim words of Justice Antonin Scalia's
McConnell dissent, "to grow more voluminous, more detailed, and more
complex in the years to come--and always, always, with the objective of
reducing the excessive amount of speech." Thus will our most effective
real protection against "the actuality and appearance of
corruption"--the First Amendment itself--be nullified.

Lovers of liberty should expose calls to restore the Fairness Doctrine
for the fraudulent power-grab that they plainly are. And the right, in
particular, needs to understand how much it has benefited from a
deregulated media universe. It should be confident that it has the
right ideas, and that when it gets the chance to present them directly
to the American people--as the new media have allowed it to do--it will
win the debate.

Mr. Anderson is senior editor of City Journal, in whose Winter issue
this article appears, and author of "South Park Conservatives"
(Regnery, 2005), which you can buy from the OpinionJournal bookstore.

Ads
  #2  
Old January 26th 06, 07:44 PM posted to alt.collecting.8-track-tapes
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default the liberal left Democrats war against free speech

Republican Governor George Ryan - under investigation with 50 related
convictions
NH GOP Chair Chuck McGee - CONVICTED
Republican Allen Raymond -- CONVICTED
Republican James Tobin (NE Regional Dir., Bush campaign) -- CONVICTED
Republican Scott Falwell - Convicted
Republican Alexandra Prokos - Convicted
Republican John Colyandro - Indicted
Republican Jim Ellis - INDICTED
Republican Jack Abramoff - INDICTED, Confessed
Republican Gov Ernie Fletcher - Under Investigation. 13 aides indicted
Republican David Hossein Safavian - INDICTED, UNDER ARREST
Republican Bill Frist - Under multiple Investigations
Republican Brian Hicks - CONVICTED
Republican Governor Bob Taft - PLED GUILTY
Republican Tom Delay - Indicted, Reprimanded by House Ethics Committee
Republican Tom Noe - Indicted
Republican Karl Rove - Under Investigation
Republican Scanlon - Charged
Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham - CONVICTED
Republican Ben Stevens - Under Investigation
Republican Governor John Rowland - Convicted
Republican Peter Ellef - PLEADED GUILTY
Republican President George W. Bush - Under Investigation
Republican Vice President Dick Cheney - Under Investigation
Republican Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby - INDICTED
Republican Governor Sonny Perdue - PLED GUILTY
Republican Lawrence Novak - Indicted
Republican Nathan Taylor - Charged
Republican Bill Janklow - Convicted

The following people are implicated in accepting bribe money from
Abramoff
Richard Shelby (REPUBLICAN SENATOR - AL)
Robert Riley (REPUBLICAN GOVENOR- AL)
Ted Stevens (REPUBLICAN SENATOR - AK)
J. D. Hayworth (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - AZ)
Dana Rohrabacher (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - CA)
Doug Ose (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - CA)
Richard Pombo (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - CA)
John Doolittle (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - CA)
Ed Royce (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - CA)
Scott McInnis (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - CO)
Rob Simmons (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - CT)
Tom Feeney (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - FL)
Ric Keller (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - FL)
John Isakson (REPUBLICAN SENATOR - GA)
Saxby Chambliss (REPUBLICAN SENATOR - CA)
Jack Kingston (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - GA)
Michael Simpson (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - ID)
Butch Otter (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - ID)
Jerry Walker (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - IL)
Dan Burton (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - IN)
Charles Grassley (REPUBLICAN SENATOR - IA)
BOB EHRLICH (REPUBLICAN GOVENOR- MD)
Dave Camp (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - MI)
Gil Gutknecht (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - MN)
Christopher Bind (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- MO)
Jim Talent (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- MO)
Charles Pickering (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - MS)
Roger Wicker (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - MS)
Thad Cochran (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- MS)
Dennis Rehberg (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- MT)
Jon Christensen (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - NE)
John Ensign (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - NV)
Roger Wicker (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - MS)
Jim Saxton (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - NJ)
Frank LoBiondo (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - NJ)
Mike Ferguson (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - NJ)
Heather Wilson (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - NM)
Charles Taylor (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - NC)
Walter Jones (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - NC)
Bob Ney (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - OH)
Jean Schmidt (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - OH)
Ralph Regula (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - OH)
Ernest Istook (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - OK)
Jean Schmidt (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - OH)
James Inhofe (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- OK)
Tom Coburn (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - OK)
Gordon Smith (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- OR)
Arlen Specter (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- PA)
Curt Weldon (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - PA)
Joe Pitts (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - PA)
John Thune (REPUBLICAN SENATOR - SD)
Bill Janklow (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - SD)
Van Hilleary (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - TN)
Tom DeLay (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - TX)
Roy Blunt (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - TX)
Chris Cannon (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- UT)
Eric Canter (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - VA)
Randy Forbes (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - VA)
George Allen (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- VA)
Tom Davis (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - VA)
George Nethercutt (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - WA)
Doc Hastings (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - WA)
Dave Reichert (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - WA)
Mark Green (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - WI)
Paul Ryan (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - WI)
Shelly Moore Capito (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - WV)
Mike Enzi (REPUBLICAN SENATOR- WY)
Barbara Cubin (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - WY)

The following people are implicated by accepting contributions from
ARMPAC:
Robert Riley (REPUBLICAN GOVENOR - AL)
Marilyn Musgrave (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE- CO)
JIM NUSSLE (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - IA)
Matt Blunt (REPUBLICAN GOVENTOR- MO)
Roy Blunt (REPUBLICAN MAJORITY LEADER - MO)
Jon Christensen (FORMER REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE- NE)
Jeb Bradley (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - NH)
John Sununu (REPUBLICAN SENATOR - NH)
Jean Schmidt (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - OH)
Joe Wilson(REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - SC)
Gresham Barrett (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - SC)
Henry Brown (REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE - SC)

------------------------------------------------
Republicans: Weak on Crime. Weak on Defense.
http:://defendUSA.blogspot.com
www.cafepress.com/bush_doggers

  #3  
Old January 27th 06, 02:59 AM posted to alt.collecting.8-track-tapes
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default the liberal left Democrats war against free speech

but the only one that mattered was

President Bill Clinton- SNAGGED dildowing a young intern with a cigar
while getting a blowjob

result- Bush wins the next 2 elections, the Dems lose the house and
senate majorities, and liberalism is doomed

one person can make a difference !

BWAAHAHAHAHAHA !!

 




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